If you were to ask most people, “Who was the most wicked Queen is Israel’s history?” most would probably answer, “Queen Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab.” I say this because of Jezebel’s evil deeds (including her worship of the false god Baal which led to her seducing the nation of Israel to worship Baal instead of the one true God). She was a prostitute, a murderer and an enemy of God and her name has gone down in infamy. You can read of her sordid history starting with 1st Kings 16:29-33 and then 18:4, 13; 19:1-2, 21:1-15. But what some people don’t know, is that Jezebel gave birth to Athaliah, who became a rival to her mother when it comes to wickedness. Her wicked story is found in 2nd Kings chapter 11 and 2nd Chronicles chapters 22 & 23. Like her mother she was a worshiper of Baal who led the children of Israel into Baal worship. And like her mother she was also a murderer, but her wickedness went far beyond her mother in this area, for she killed her own grandsons in order to become the only Queen to sit on the throne in Israel. We read of this dastardly act in 2nd Kings 11:1, “When Athaliah the mother Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and DESTROYED ALL THE ROYAL HEIRS.” Actually, she “thought” she had killed them all but God’s providence came into play for a woman named Jehosheba “took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from the king’s sons who were being murdered; and they hid him and his nurse in the bedroom, from Athaliah, so that he was not killed” (verse 2), where he was hidden “for six years, while Athaliah reigned over the land” (verse 3).  The Bible speaks of some being “without natural affection” (2nd Timothy 3:3) and Athaliah gives us the worst example of one having “no love for her own grandchildren.”

As bad as this act was, it was Athaliah’s “love for the false god Baal” that brought her name even worse infamy. She labored extensively in building altars to Baal in the sacred temple of the Lord. “For the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the LORD did they bestow upon Baalim” (2nd Chronicles 24:7). She also installed “false priests” to worship her “false god.”  Thankfully, when Joash came out of hiding and became king, he had all of Athaliah’s defiling idols destroyed. We read this in 2nd Kings 11:18, “And all the people of the land went to the temple of Baal, and tore it down. They thoroughly broke in pieces its altars and images, and killed Matan the priest of Baal before the altars.” Just before this, we read of Athaliah’s death. She had heard of Joash being made king in her place and she “tore her clothes and cried out, ‘Treason! Treason!’” (Verse 14). But Joash’s armies were ordered to “Take her outside under guard” (verse 15). And then we read of her execution in verse 16, “so they seized her; and she went by the way of the horses’ entrance into the king’s house, and there she was killed.” Like her mother Jezebel, who also died a violent death (see 2nd Kings 9:30-37), she died a terrible but well-deserved death, which ended her mad career and brought a measure of revival to the nation of Israel. As we have seen, Athaliah illustrates that popular adage, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”  (DO)  (544.5)