Ahaziah King of Judah (also known as Jehoahaz)
Jehoram Father of Ahaziah
Athaliah Mother of Ahaziah
Jehoshabeath Sister of Ahaziah
Joash Son of Ahaziah
Jehoiada High priest
2 Chronicles 22:10-12 happened during dark times for the nation of Judah. Following the death of King Jehoshaphat who ‘sought the Lord with all his heart’ (22:9), his son Jehoram had ascended to the throne. In a brutal act of self-interest Jehoram proceeded to kill his six brothers, thus establishing himself as the only legitimate person able to continue the line of David (21:4). His eight year reign was marked with evil before he died horrifically of an incurable sickness and ‘departed to no-one’s regret’ (21:19,20). The Bible certainly doesn’t pull its punches!
Jehoram’s death left his youngest son, Ahaziah, as king since all of Jehoram’s older sons had been killed (22:1). Ahaziah’s reign of one year was mercifully short as he continued the horrors of his father. It is important to note that his mother, Athaliah, was Ahaziah’s ‘counsellor to do evil’ (22:3). To say she was bad news would be an extreme understatement.
When Ahaziah was killed the Chronicler comments, ‘So there was no one of the house of Ahaziah to retain the power of the kingdom’ (22:9). This sentence should stop us in our tracks. Centuries before this account, God had made a covenant with David saying that He would establish the throne of David’s kingdom forever (2 Samuel 7:8-16), and yet now it seemed that David’s dynasty had been extinguished. This is underlined by the next verse: ‘Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she rose and destroyed all the royal offspring of the house of Judah’ (22:10). It is mind-blowing that this woman was prepared to kill her own grandchildren in order to take the throne, but she did and it seemed that it was game over for God’s plan.
So, as I began, it was dark times all round for Judah. Successive kings had allowed evil to flourish in the land and were quite prepared to resort to murder to retain power. Athaliah, who was not even originally part of God’s people, had manipulated her way to being queen and sat on the throne. And there was no legitimate heir of David in sight. Dark times indeed.
However, even in the midst of desperate darkness God is still at work. Note that verse 11 begins with the precious word ‘but’. Times are bad, but God has His courageous heroes waiting in the wings for the opportunity to act. God’s sovereign plan cannot be resisted.
So, enter our heroine: Jehoshabeath.
Jehoshabeath was the sister of Ahaziah and daughter of Jehoram and Athaliah. She saw her mother on her murderous killing spree and realised the danger. She took her nephew Joash, the baby son of Ahaziah, and hid him away with his nurse (v11). Then she managed to extricate him from the palace and take him to the temple. At this point we find out that Jehoshabeath is not only a princess but is the wife of Jehoiada, the High Priest. Together they secretly raised this child. Quite how they kept this young child a secret, we will never know. But for six years they lovingly cared for him and laid foundations which would pave the way for him to become king of God’s people. God doesn’t always work in the headlines or use the limelight but He is always at work. And so behind the scenes grew a godly revolution. Royalty and priesthood partnering together for the advance of God’s plan.
Jehoshabeath, what a woman! What an example to us. She was prepared to risk everything – and I mean EVERYTHING – in order to see the promises of God fulfilled. What courage! What recklessness with her own safety! If her actions had been discovered there is no doubt that she would have been killed. She had parents who were evil, bloodthirsty and power-hungry and yet she did not bend to their influence. She was prepared to act against her own mother and secure her demise. She prioritised the plans of God and was prepared to live in the house of God rather than the house of sin. She deemed certain death if discovered as preferable to doing nothing.
Jehoshabeath’s courage, although described in only a handful of verses, echoes down the generations. Her actions ensured that Joash became king. Her influence, along with her husband Jehoiada, ensured that Joash was brought up in a godly way.
The dark times gave way to more hopeful times. Joash’s forty year reign was marked by godly reform and the restoration of the temple. The line of David continued its way to the King of Kings. And one day, in further dark times for the nation, another King would be born and rescued from a bloodthirsty ruler. He, too, would be raised well away from the limelight of the palace by a couple faithful to God. And He too would usher in a time of the reign of God.
What a debt we owe to Jehoshabeath, the Courageous Princess.