While this set does open with a queen, most of the rest of this is one long succession of kings not doing better than their fathers.
Athaliah, one of those named mother’s of the kings, sees that her son is dead and then “destroyed all the royal family”, thus making her queen. But who is part of the royal family in this? How many wives were there and were any remaining children also hers? Regardless, Jehosheba, who is both a daughter of King Joram of Israel and the sister of Ahaziah saves the remaining son of the king by squirreling him away along with his nurse during Athaliah’s reign.
After six years, a prophet sends for the son to be protected and conducts the anointing of the boy. She walks in on the whole thing and starts yelling “Treason” and the prophet, Jehoiada, has her put death outside. Given that she had killed all the rest of her own family (and then some probably) in order to take the thrown in the first place, I feel like she’s really the treasonous one here. There’s no mention of what happened to Jehosheba in the interim.
Now, it was in the last chapter with Jehu as king of Israel and him killing all the Baal worshipers in his land and God promising that rewarding him with staying on the throne despite falling off the wagon down the road. Now, here we are on the other side, with the people of Judah tearing down the house of Baal killing the priests of Baal.
The chapter ends with Jehoash taking “his seat on the throne of the kings” and that he was seven years old when it happened.
This is where it becomes obvious that not all (and possibly none) of the family Athaliah killed came from her. The mother of the new king from last chapter is named at the time of his reign is fit into the timeline with Israel, her name is Zibiah.
Jehoash follows God and does what He wants according to Jehoiada, who instructs him on what that is. Except that he keeps the offering places of other gods up like his predecessors had done. There is a dispute about money in the temple that gets sorted out and then there’s a raid where he decides to give the Hazael the gold and stuff from inside the house of the Lord.
Then his own guards killed him.
Meanwhile, Jehoahaz is the king over in Israel and he upsets God at first but then “sought” Him and God sent “a savior, so that they escaped from the hand of the Syrians”. Despite this, they don’t get much better but not much worse either and nothing else significant happens with Jehoahaz before he passes and we move on to another Jehoash, or Joash. The names are used interchangeably for the king of Israel and had been for the former king of Judah, so it could be a little confusing.
This king comes to visit Elisha on his deathbed and is given an opportunity to see how many times God will help him against the Syrians and he undershoots it, even to the point where Elisha kinda yells at him. There’s also an interesting revival here when a dead man is accidentally thrown into the same grave as Elisha and as soon as his body touches Elisha’s, he stands up.
The king of Syria passes from Hazael to Ben-hadad and Joash defeats him as many times as had been worked out threw Elisha.
The kingship of Judah passes from Joash to Amaziah and again the mother’s name is also mentioned, she is Jehoaddin. Amaziah lives in the Lord as much as his father but again it is specified that this is not as much as David because of the altars to other gods that remain in place and in use. He’s also likes to pick a fight.
Killing the servants who had killed his father is understandable, even preserving their children is an upstanding thing for a king who could easily have wiped out the whole family, but there’s no mention of Edom or Israel doing anything to deserve the battles that Amaziah instigates with them. He beats Edom but not Israel. Jehoash beats him and “broke down the wall of Jerusalem” at certain points and takes a bunch of gold and other stuff and bounces. The next we hear of him is his death and the passing of his thrown to his son Jeroboam (yes, the second). Soon after Amaziah also passes on. He’s actually also killed by his people who chase him all the way to Lachish to “put him to death there.” His son, Azariah, takes over.
Jeroboam II also “made Israel to sin” but apparently he listened enough and God had taken pity on the rest of the people anyway according to this line:
But the Lord had not said that he would blot out the name of Israel from under heaven, so he saved them by the hand of Jeroboam the son of Joash.
Then he’s just gone and his son Zechariah takes over Israel.
This chapter has a quick set of successions of the kings.
- Zechariah – the fourth generation of Jehu to sit on the throne, as promised, and not a generation more
- Shallum – who conspired a successful coup against Zechariah
- Menahem – also leading a coup, also “ripped open all the women who were pregnant” after sacking a town. I can’t even begin to express how I feel about that gruesomeness.
- Pekahiah – the victim of a coup
- Pekah – led successful coup against Pekahiah and is beaten in battle by the Assyrians several times losing many towns to them
- Hoshea – led successful coup against Pekah
Judah: Azariah, Jotham (who is referred to as the son of Uzziah but his father’s name is spelled Azariah in some places), ends on Ahaz taking over.
This chapter begins with Ahaz and his failure to not only improve upon the way Judah followed God, but he made it worse. He burnt his own son as an offering and begins to give offerings to the other gods.
Syria and Israel teamed up against him, so he basically sacks the house of God in order to bribe Assyria to help him out with them, who takes him up on his offer. Then he goes about desecrating the house of the Lord further. He dies and is succeeded by his son, Hezekiah.