2 KINGS CHAPTER 11
Athaliah destroyeth all the royal family: only Joash escapeth; is hid six years in the house of God, 2 Kings 11:1-3. Jehoiada, giving order to the captains, in the seventh year anointeth him king, 2 Kings 11:4-12. Athaliah is slain, 2 Kings 11:13-16. The covenant is renewed between God, the king, and the people; and Baal’s worship is destroyed: the king is set on his throne, 2 Kings 11:17-21.
i.e. All of the royal family left after those slaughters, 2 Chronicles 21:2,4 22:1 2 Kings 10:13,14, except one, as the next verse limits and explains it. This she did, partly, out of rage at the extirpation of her family, resolving that David’s family should not outlive liers; partly, from ambition and desire of rule, for which many persons have destroyed their nearest relations; partly, from the zeal which she had for idolatry, and the worship of Baal, which she intended to establish, to which she knew the house of David were implacable enemies; and partly, in her own defence, that she might secure herself from Jehu’s fury, who was commanded by God, and resolved in himself, utterly to destroy all the branches of Ahab’s family, whereof she was one, 2 Kings 8:18,26; for had she not done this, she suspected that either the king or people of Judah would have delivered her up to Jehu upon his demand. Possibly those whom she slew were Joram’s children by another wife; of which See Poole "2 Kings 1:2". And this was the fruit of Jehoshaphat’s marrying his son to a daughter of that idolatrous and wicked house of Ahab, even the extirpation of all his posterity but one. And this dreadful judgment God permitted, and inflicted upon him and his, to show how much he abhors all such sinful and unequal affinities.
Jehosheba, called Jehoshabeath, 2 Chronicles 22:11.
The daughter of king Joram, to wit, by another wife, and not by this Athaliah; for it is not likely Jehoiada, who married her, 2 Chronicles 22:11, would have married one of that wicked and cursed house, except he were married very young, and therein overruled by his parents.
Joash the son of Ahaziah: either,
1. His adopted and legal son, who was to succeed him, though he was of another house, and of Nathan’s family, as many think; such persons being sometimes called the sons of their predecessors, as we shall see hereafter. Or rather,
2. His proper and natural son; for not only he, but the rest who were slain, are here called the king’s (i.e. Joram’s) sons. From among the king’s sons which were slain; either,
1. From amidst of the carcasses, where this infant was laid, and supposed by her to be killed, though it was not quite dead, either through the compassion or connivance of the instruments of this execution, or by some other artifice which his nurse used. Or,
2. Out of that apartment of the palace which was allotted for the king’s children.
They hid him; Jehosheba and her husband Jehoiada.
In the bed-chamber; which was in the house of the Lord, as is affirmed in the next verse. So that it was one of those chambers adjoining or near to the temple, which were for the uses of the priests and Levites, and for them only; which made it more proper for this purpose.
Either Athaliah thought they were all dead; or if she suspected that Joash was preserved, she thought an infant could do her no great harm; and that she could so well assure the kingdom to herself within a few years, that she need not fear any such weak competitor: or she was willing to smother up the business, lest if she had made a strict and diligent search for it, the people should thereby learn that there was yet a son of David’s family left, and so be unquiet under her government, and desirous of a change.
Athaliah did reign over the land; which she had an opportunity, to do, because she was not only the late king’s wife, but also was probably made queen-regent upon Joram’s going to Ramoth-gilead.
If this action of Jehoiada’s seem strange and irregular, this was no ordinary case, but there were divers peculiar things in it, as, that Athaliah was a mere usurper, having no pretence of right to the crown, and one of that wicked house which God had particularly, and by name, devoted to destruction: that Jehoiada’s wife was nearer allied, and had more right to the crown, than Athaliah: that thee crown of Judah was by Divine appointment appropriated to the sons of David; and therefore the right of the crown was inherently in him whom Jehoiada set up, which right her usurpation could not exclude: that Jehoiada was not a mere private person, but the husband of the king’s aunt; and probably the high priest, to whom it belonged in great part to see the laws of God executed: that Jehoiada did not act alone in the business, but had the consent and concurrence of the chief rulers, both civil and ecclesiastical: and besides all this, that it is conceived that he had a special motion of God’s Spirit, or the direction and encouragement of the prophets of that time. So that this action cannot be drawn into a precedent for succeeding times, and for other kingdoms.
The rulers over hundreds; of whom see Exodus 18:25. Of these there were five which are named, 2 Chronicles 23:1. And these were either,
1. Civil or military officers. But then such small officers could not have stood him in much stead. And why did he not rather engage captains of thousands, or greater persons, whom doubtless he might easily have brought into this confederacy? Or rather,
2. Priests or Levites of eminency, as their work showeth, 2 Kings 11:5-7 2 Chronicles 23:1,2, and their distinction from the
captains and guard. The captains, or princes, or nobles, or commanders; such as he knew were weary of her idolatrous and tyrannical government, and faithful to their king.
The guard; possibly those who had been the former king’s guard, who had been displaced by Athaliah, as persons whose fidelity she suspected.
Into the house of the Lord, i.e. into the courts of that house, which oft come under the name of the house, or temple of the Lord; for into the house none but the priests or Levites might enter.
Made a covenant with them, to restore the king to his kingdom, and religion to its purity.
Took an oath of them, for their secrecy and fidelity in the present design.
A third part of you; either,
1. A third part of you, (i.e. of the whole number, including those
that come in and those
that go out on the sabbath,) even
they that enter in on the sabbath;
and so the two other third parts were to consist of those that went out on the sabbath, as some gather from 2 Kings 11:6,7. Or rather,
2. A third part only of those that enter in on the sabbath, who seem to be plainly divided into three thirds here, and 2 Kings 11:6, as those that went forth on the sabbath are expressly distributed into two parts, 2 Kings 11:7. That enter in on the sabbath, i.e. that come into the temple on the sabbath day. For the understanding of this matter, you must know that the Levites were, in and from David’s time, distributed into twenty-four courses, which were to do the work of the temple successively, and by turns; each course consisting of about a thousand men for his week; of which see 1Ch 23 1Ch 24.
The watch of the king’s house; either,
1. Of that bed-chamber where the king now was. But it is unlikely, and without example, either that one bed-chamber, or the temple, or any part of it, should be called the king’s house. And besides, the king’s person is secured by other persons, 2 Kings 11:7. Or rather,
2. Of that part which leadeth to the king’s palace, which Athaliah now possessed, and whence they might expect opposition.
At the gate of Sur; the chief gate of the temple, called the high gate, 2 Kings 15:35, and the foundation gate, 2 Chronicles 23:5, and the eastgate, Jeremiah 19:2, and the middle gate, Jeremiah 39:3, and the gate of the entrance, Ezekiel 40:15.
Behind the guard; either,
1. The king’s guard; or,
2. The guard of the temple; for such a guard there was, and a captain of the guard, called the captain of the temple, Acts 4:1 5:24. This gate was in the south side; and, as some think, is that which is called sippim, or the threshold gate, 2 Chronicles 23:4.
So shall ye keep the watch of the house, that it be not broken down, i.e. so you shall guard all the gates or entrances into the house or temple of God, that neither Athaliah nor any of her soldiers may break into the temple, and defile it, or destroy it; as she will doubtless endeavour to do. Or, and ye shall keep the watch of the house Massach, as the LXX. and other interpreters render it; who think this was the name of a house not far from the temple; in which, or against which, they were to keep a guard.
You that go forth on the sabbath, i.e. who having finished their course and week, should have gone home, but were detained, 2 Chronicles 23:8.
They shall keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king; whilst the rest guard the doors and entrances into the temple, these shall have a special care of the king’s person, part on his right, and part on his left hand.
When you have set your watches and guards, all the rest of you shall draw near to the king to preserve his royal person from all assaults and dangers.
The ranges, or fences, i.e. the walls wherewith the courts of the temple were environed: see 2 Kings 11:15. Or, your ranks, or order. If any of Athaliah’s guards shall attempt to break in upon you, or within your bounds.
Be ye with the king as he goeth out and as he cometh in; whether the king shall go out of the temple, to offend or subdue his enemies, or retire hither to defend himself, do you always accompany him.
Spears and shields; offensive and defensive weapons, which he gave to the captains, both for themselves, and for all their soldiers; for they all came into the temple unarmed, to prevent suspicion. These are called
David’s, either because they were such as he had taken from his enemies which he had dedicated to God, and laid up in the temple as monuments of God’s goodness to him; see 1 Samuel 21:9 2 Samuel 8:7,11 1 Kings 7:51; or because David had made a sacred armory in the temple, whence arms might be taken upon extraordinary occasions, for the defence of the temple or city of God.
From the right corner of the temple to the left corner of the temple; from the south-east to the north-east side. By the altar; the altar of burnt-offerings, which was by the great and eastern gate of the temple.
And the temple, i.e. by and towards the other parts of the temple, which they defended on all sides.
The testimony, i.e. the book of the law, which he put into the king’s hand, to mind him of his duty at his entrance upon his kingdom, which was to read and write out that holy book, Deuteronomy 17:18, and to govern himself and his kingdom by it; the law of God being frequently and most properly called a testimony, as Psalms 78:5 132:12 Isaiah 8:16,20; see also Deuteronomy 6:17,20 2 Kings 23:3, because it is a witness of God’s will, and man’s duty.
Anointed him; as they used to do in doubtful cases, when there was any competition or question about the crown, as now there was.
The noise of the people, who came thither upon the hearing of the noise and tidings of what was done.
She came to the people, to inquire into the cause of this great noise; being hitherto kept in deep ignorance; partly because it wits managed with so much secrecy, and in the temple; and partly because the people universally hated her, and wished her downfall.
Into the temple of the Lord, i.e. into the courts; whither by Jehoiada’s direction she was permitted to enter, though contrary to his general order, 2 Kings 11:8, that so he might draw her into his net.
By a pillar; possibly by one of the two famous pillars of the temple; of which see 1 Kings 7:21; nigh unto which the throne was erected. If it be said, that none but priests might come thither; I answer, ordinarily they might not; but the king being a sacred person, especially upon such extraordinary occasions, might be there. Or, upon a scaffold; possibly that brazen scaffold which Solomon erected, 2 Chronicles 6:13, and left there for such purposes. See 2 Kings 23:3.
The officers of the host; of these companies of Levites, who are elsewhere called the Lord’s host, and now were the king’s host.
Without the ranges; of which see above, 2 Kings 11:8. If she will not go out of them of her own accord, force her out of them.
Him that followeth her; if any of the people, come hither upon this occasion, shall stand up for her help.
In the house of the Lord, i.e. in the court of the temple, lest it bc polluted with her blood.
They laid hands on her, or, they gave her space or room, to wit, to go out of the court of the temple, and did not keep her within it, as they could have done. Or, they appointed bands for her; they ordered two bands of the Levites to follow her, and kill her.
By the way by the which the horses came into the king’s house; by the great and public road in which horses and chariots went to the palace.
There was she slain; in an ignominious place and manner, as her mother Jezebel had been.
Between the Lord and the king and the people; a sacred covenant, whereby he solemnly engaged both the king and people, as it here follows,
that they should be the Lord’s people, i.e. that they should renounce and root out all idolatry, and set up and maintain God’s true worship. Compare 2 Kings 23:10.
Between the king also and the people: this was a civil covenant, whereby the king engaged himself to rule them justly, and in the fear of God; and the people obliged themselves to defend and obey him. Compare 2 Samuel 5:3.
Before the altar; to which possibly he fled for refuge; or rather, he was brought thither as a fit sacrifice to his God.
Officers over the house of the Lord; of which see more particularly, 2 Chronicles 23:18,19.
By the way of the gate of the guard, i.e. by the gate of the royal palace, where the king’s guard stood.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on 2 Kings 11". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://pro.studylight.org/
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34