A good king embraces two killer queens

Published 4:25 am Monday, January 29, 2024

It wasn’t all Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Doc, and Dopey. There was also an evil queen in Snow White who poisoned the young maiden. 

But Walt Disney didn’t invent the mean-queen character. Scripture tells of a pair of killer queens. This was when Israel had become a divided kingdom.

Remember how that happened. Moses first led the Israelites, then Joshua, then the Judges, and then the first three kings of Israel. But after the death of King Solomon, the country fell into Civil War, and Israel split into a northern kingdom, which continued to call itself “Israel,” and a southern kingdom, called “Judah.”

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The killer queens, Jezebel and Athaliah, were mother and daughter in the 9th century B.C.  And guess who was front and center in their story? A little known commander, Jehu.

If you missed my last two columns on Jehu, here’s a quick recap.

The army commander was with his men at the battlefront with Syria when a prophet arrived. The man of God met privately with Jehu and anointed him King of Israel. 

Jehu then told his men, climbed into his chariot, led them to the city where King Joram (also called Jehoram) was staying, killed the king, and seized the throne. 

What had Joram done to anger God?

He was part of his father’s reign, who was the most evil king of Israel. Scripture says, “There certainly was no one like Ahab who gave himself over to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.” (1 Kings 21:25)

Ahab and Jezebel murdered all the prophets they could find, determined to remove God from Israel so the nation would worship Jezebel’s god instead.

What I haven’t told you is that another king was killed that day — King Ahaziah of Judah. Ahaziah was in a chariot alongside his uncle when the two came out to meet Jehu. Here’s what happened. 

“…Joram turned back and fled, and he said to Ahaziah, ‘There is treachery, Ahaziah!’

“Then Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Joram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart, and he sank in his chariot … When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled … 

“But Jehu pursued him and said, ‘Shoot him too, in the chariot.’ So they shot him…” (2 Kings 9:23-27)

Moreover, before the day was out, Jezebel also died at Jehu’s direction. (2 Kings 9:30-37)

This is where Jezebel’s killer daughter, Athaliah, comes into play. She was King Ahaziah’s mother. Once her son was dead, Athaliah seized the throne of Judah in a bloody coup. 

“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and eliminated all the royal children.” (2 Kings 11:1)

If you’re not putting this together, Athaliah murdered her grandsons to assure her place on the throne. And it gets more interesting. Athaliah missed a grandson — the dead king’s one-year-old baby.

“…Joash the son of Ahaziah … (was taken) from among the king’s sons who were being put to death …  So he was kept hidden … in the house of the Lord for six years, while Athaliah was reigning over the land.” (2 Kings 11:2-3)

 In Athaliah’s sixth year, a priest of Judah initiated the assassination of Athaliah and placed seven-year-old Joash on the throne. (2 Kings 11:4-16)

Maybe you’re wondering how Jezebel’s daughter in Israel became the queen mother in Judah. Excellent question. 

As I said, Civil War troubled Israel after Solomon’s reign. It continued off and on for decades — through the reigns of Solomon’s son, his grandson, and his great grandson, Asa. 

But when Asa’s son, Jehoshaphat, became king of Judah, Ahab needed Judah and played him. So the two kings formed an alliance. Ahab and Jezebel’s daughter, Athaliah, married Jehoshaphat’s son. 

Jehoshaphat is remembered as a good king who loved the Lord. Jehoshaphat wanted unity and peace with Israel, but he chose that over his trust in God, aligning himself with evil. That alliance nearly cost him his life (2 Chronicles 18), not to mention that Jezebel and Athaliah would bring evil to his nation.

What’s the moral of good King Jehoshaphat who embraced two killer queens? 

Life isn’t all Happy, Grumpy, Sneezy, Bashful, Sleepy, Doc, and Dopey. Like Jehoshaphat, you’re going to find yourself between a rock and a hard place. You’ll have to make a choice. 

Jehoshaphat embraced evil for the sake of peace. Don’t embrace evil for any reason. The correct choice is always remaining faithful to the Lord, no matter what it costs you. 

Stay close to God.

The Rev. Mathews, BA, MDiv, JD, is a faith columnist and the author of the suspense-filled novel Emerald Coast: The Vendetta.  

Copyright © 2024 R.A. Mathews.