New European Commentary


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Deeper Commentary

2Ch 23:1 In the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him-
The five men and their followers of 2 Chron. 23:1 match the description of three "third parts" and another "two parts" in 2 Kings 11:5-7. The corroboration between the records, clearly written by different hands, reflects the Divine inspiration of the record. The names of all these men include the name of God. To overthrow Athaliah was a risky undertaking and their faith and commitment to the Davidic line was very strong. 2 Kings 11:4 says Jehoiada was supported by the "Carites", the Cherethites of 2 Sam. 20:23.

2Ch 23:2 They went about in Judah, and gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the heads of fathers’ households of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem-
This must have all been arranged secretly and without Athaliah's knowledge. The use of both terms "Judah" and "Israel" would suggest there was support for this spiritual revival even amongst the ten tribes. Although Jehoiada and his wife Jehoshabeath (2 Chron. 22:11) would have been underground believers to some extent, they used their connections well to create a wide groundswell of support for the putsch, even amongst the ten tribes. For Jehoshabeath was related to the house of Ahab and had connections there. And so many believers in otherwise very worldly situations have quietly used their connections likewise to forward God's true way upon earth.

2Ch 23:3 All the assembly made a covenant with the king in God’s house. He said to them, Behold, the king’s son shall reign, as Yahweh has spoken concerning the sons of David-
The promise that David would not want a man to sit upon his throne (2 Chron. 6:16; 7:18 etc.) was understood as requiring human faith and action to fulfil. Jehoiada could have reasoned that God would fulfil His promise in His own way, without the help of man. But His purpose is not deterministic, nor is it imposed upon man. The promise that Abraham's seed should eternally inherit the earth requires individual faith and the exercise of freewill from the members of that seed. Paul likewise understood the promise that Messiah would be a light to the Gentiles as requiring him to take that light to the Gentiles. 

2Ch 23:4 This is the thing that you shall do. A third part of you, who come in on the Sabbath, of the priests and of the Levites, shall be porters at the thresholds-
Chronicles stresses the role of the Levites (2 Chron. 23:2,4) whereas Kings hardly mentions them in the record. Clearly Chronicles is largely a history of the priesthood and Levites, written up in captivity to encourage the Levites to return to Judah and revive Yahweh worship there. Comparing with :8, the idea is that the Levites had a changeover of shifts that Sabbath. Those who were going off shift were to remain, so that there would be a larger number of them present.

It seems that the Kings records speaks of three battalions of royal guards, one of which was on duty, and the others later brought into the temple by Jehoiada (2 Chron. 23:7). Whereas Chronicles has three battalions of Levitical temple guards / doorkeepers. They could be the same groups, but it seems easier to read them as separate. This would mean that somehow Jehoiada had persuaded even Athaliah's own bodyguards to betray her.   

2Ch 23:5 A third part shall be at the king’s house; and a third part at the gate of the foundation. All the people shall be in the courts of Yahweh’s house-
"The king's house" isn't the royal palace; for in any case, Athaliah was a queen and not a king. It refers to the place where the king Joash was hiding. The Gate of the Foundation was apparently near the valley separating Moriah from the hill opposite it, literally "the gate of Sur", mentioned in 2 Kings 11:6. But "Svr" may be "Svs", the horse gate, which is that of 2 Chron. 23:15; 2 Kings 11:16.

2Ch 23:6 But let no one come into the house of Yahweh, except the priests, and those who minister of the Levites. They shall come in, for they are holy, but all the people shall follow Yahweh’s instructions-
It would have been tempting to plan this putsch through all the people being within the temple, but Jehoiada refused to allow military and political expediency to take away from the need to "follow Yahweh's instructions" and respect His holiness. And that is a lesson for us. See on :9. yet Kings says that the royal guards, apparently non Levites, did enter the temple. This would be one reason for considering the three groups of royal guards to be the same as the three groups of Levitical guards.

2Ch 23:7 The Levites shall surround the king, every man with his weapons in his hand. Whoever comes into the house, let him be slain. Be with the king when he comes in, and when he goes out-
The whole putsch was a risky undertaking, and Jehoiada was aware of the possibility of armed opposition from Athaliah's loyalists. The Levites were armed, presumably with weapons like knives or whatever they could get hold of. Perhaps this command foresaw how Athaliah would come running into the temple (:12) and should therefore be slain.

2Ch 23:8 So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. They took every man his men, those who were to come in on the Sabbath, with those who were to go out on the Sabbath; for Jehoiada the priest didn’t dismiss the shift-
Comparing with :4, the idea is that the Levites had a changeover of shifts that Sabbath. Those who were going off shift were to remain, so that there would be a larger number of them present. "All Judah" refers to the representatives of all Judah who were present (:2). "All" in the Bible often refers not to literally everybody but to representatives of the "all". The taking of the Gospel to "all the world" must surely be understood in that way. "The Levites and all Judah" is therefore matched in 2 Kings 11 by “the captains over the hundreds".

2Ch 23:9 Jehoiada the priest delivered to the captains of hundreds the spears, large shields and shields that had been king David’s, which were in God’s house-
Possibly the shields of gold David had taken and dedicated at the time of 2 Sam. 8:7,11. Gold represents faith, and they were probably not very functional for combat. But this whole putsch was on the basis of faith and not secular strength and wisdom. See on :6.

2Ch 23:10 He set all the people, each man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, along by the altar and the house, surrounding the king-
This would be the altar of burnt offering in the outer court. "All the people" refers to those other than the priests and Levites who had agreed to help in the putsch.

2Ch 23:11 Then they brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. Jehoiada and his sons anointed him; and they said, Long live the king!-
"The testimony" was a copy of the law the king was supposed to write out when he became king, but it had presumably been written out for him (Dt. 17:18-20).

2Ch 23:12 When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came to the people into the house of Yahweh-
See on :7. Any who came into the temple were to be slain, and it seems Jehoiada set her up to do just what she did. That this was all pulled off right under her nose was quite an achievement.

2Ch 23:13 She looked, and, behold, the king stood by his pillar at the entrance-
Heb. 'pedestal', a kind of podium, considering he was only seven years old and small.

And the captains and the trumpets by the king; and all the people of the land rejoiced, and blew trumpets. The singers also played musical instruments, and led the singing of praise. Then Athaliah tore her clothes, and said, Treason! Treason!-
"Treason" is literally "conspiracy". She realized all too late that a huge conspiracy had been going on under her nose.

2Ch 23:14 Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds who were set over the army and said to them, Bring her out between the ranks; and whoever follows her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest said, Don’t kill her in Yahweh’s house-
This confirms the suggestion that the command in :7 to slay whoever entered Yahweh's house was planned with Athaliah in view. "The ranks" would likely refer to the ranks of soldiers; or possibly to the temple precincts.

2Ch 23:15 So they made way for her. She went to the entrance of the horse gate to the king’s house; and they killed her there-
Making way for her suggests they all restrained themselves from touching her, the unclean, until she was outside the temple. It would have been an awful last walk to her death. I suggested on 2 Chron. 23:5 that "the horse gate" is the same as the "gate of the foundation".

2Ch 23:16 Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people, and the king, that they should be Yahweh’s people-
"Between himself" (2 Chron. 23:16) suggests Jehoiada was absolutely representing Yahweh; 2 Kings says the covenant was between Yahweh and the people. The Bible is full of examples of where men function as God and functionally represent Him to man. But this didn't make them God Himself in person. And it is within this context that we must read the passages which likewise speak of the Lord Jesus as functioning as God- without being God Himself. 

2Ch 23:17 All the people went to the house of Baal and broke it down, and broke his altars and his images in pieces, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars-
The allusion is to how "all the people" were to put to death those who incited others to idolatry (Dt. 13:9). It seems that the temple of Baal had been built near the temple, just as Solomon had built such idol temples near to the temple.  

2Ch 23:18 Jehoiada appointed the officers of the house of Yahweh under the hand of the priests the Levites, whom David had distributed in the house of Yahweh, to offer the burnt offerings of Yahweh, as it is written in the law of Moses, with rejoicing and with singing, according to the order of David-
This was really a case of reappointing officers to fulfil the original intentions of David for the temple. It could be inferred that the burnt offerings had not been offered during Athaliah's dictatorship.

2Ch 23:19 He set the porters at the gates of the house of Yahweh, that no one who was unclean in any matter should enter in-
The porters would refer to the arrangements David made in 1 Chron. 16. The word can mean porters or gatekeepers. ecclesia is the temple of God. In the past, gatekeepers checked who came in. Yet as time went by, the gatekeepers let Gentiles in, people who were not in God's covenant: and this was the basis of their condemnation (Ez. 44:7,8). Probably they did so in a misguided conception of "love" towards the surrounding world.

2Ch 23:20 He took the captains of hundreds, and the nobles, and the governors of the people, and all the people of the land, and brought down the king from the house of Yahweh. They came through the upper gate to the king’s house, and set the king on the throne of the kingdom-
"The upper gate" of 2 Chron. 23:20 is in Kings "the gate of the guard".

2Ch 23:21 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet. Athaliah they had slain with the sword
Quietness or peace is often associated with obedience. We read of this at least twice during Jehoshaphat's reign. Going God's way is the only way to true peace; although that peace is juxtaposed against the violent slaying of Athaliah which had been necessary to bring it about.