Notes & Commentary:

Ver. 1. Seed. What cruelties are occasioned by ambition! (Worthington) — This is one of the most extraordinary proofs recorded in history. Agrippina was but a faint copy of the unnatural Athalia, (Calmet) who knew that she was destined for slaughter, if she should fall into the hands of Jehu. (Menochius) — Her impiety might also prompt her to destroy all the posterity of David, that she might introduce the worship of idols more easily. (Theodoret)

Ver. 2. Sister. She had probably a different mother, as she consented to the death of Athalia. (Calmet) — But the crimes of the latter required such a punishment; and even a daughter would have done wrong to screen her. (Haydock) — Josabeth, as she is called in 2 Paralipomenon xxii. 11., was married to Joiada the high priest, ibid.[2 Paralipomenon xxii. 11.] — Out of. Hebrew and Paralipomenon, “hid him, even him and his nurse, in the bed-chamber” of the priest, in the temple; (Salien) different from that bed-chamber in which he had hitherto been nursed. Thus the passage may be reconciled. (Menochius) (Calmet) — Some maintain that Joas was not the son of Ochozias, in whom the line of Solomon ended, but a descendant of David by Nathan. But he is always styled the king’s son, and the authority of the false Philo of Annius is of no weight. (Calmet) — Joiada is called Barachias, “blessed of the Lord,” on account of his justice, (St. Jerome) in Matthew xxiii.

Ver. 3. Lord. The case was so extraordinary, that he high priest dispensed with a woman lodging in those apartments. — Land, for six years, by usurpation. Women were commonly excluded, and she was not of the race of David, 4 Kings viii. 26. (Calmet)

Ver. 4. Year, of the age of Joas, ver. 21. (Menochius) — Centurions. Five in number of the tribe of Levi, (Menochius) commanding each 100 men. Hebrew adds “the rams,” (Calmet) to denote “the captains (Protestants) and the runners,” or guards. (Haydock) — Joiada was a man of great authority, virtue, and discretion; so that he was able to manage this delicate affair, and no one gave information to Athalia, as she was detested. The Levites and principal men of Juda were admonished, underhand, to be present on the day appointed. The quality of high priest, and the known probity and zeal for the public good, which were conspicuous in Joiada, as well as his being so nearly related to the lawful heir to the crown, made the people readily come forward. (Calmet)

Ver. 6. Sabbath. On this day the Levites replaced each other; so that many might assemble without suspicion. They guarded the king’s apartments in the temple. — The gate of Sur, or of the foundation, (2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 5.) and the western gate leading to the palace. (Calmet) — Sur, or “the gate of the lords,” (Chaldean) is generally supposed to be on the opposite side. (Menochius) — But this is uncertain, as well as the situation of Messa, which is perhaps the Musach, chap. xvi. 18. This was probably some building or covert adjoining the temple, (Calmet) either belonging to some private person, (Menochius) or designed to contain the ashes, &c., taken from the temple; (Villalpand ii. 32.) or a tribune for the king in the temple. (Haydock) — The Chaldean seems to have explained it as an adverb, sollicit√®, “with diligence,” (Menochius) as well as the Septuagint, (Du Hamel) which is consonant to Vatable; you shall guard the house “from desertion.” Let no one quit his post. (Menochius)

Ver. 7. Of you. Levites, who waited on the king’s person alternately. (Calmet) — They were divided into three parts, being in actual service, ver. 6. Those who went out of office were twice the number, and are here told what to do. Sa thinks that those who entered upon duty, and those who went out, formed two thirds of the Levites, ver. 9., and 2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 8. (Menochius)

Ver. 8. Temple, to cause confusion, Syriac, &c. The court of the priests, (Ezechiel xli. 9.) and that of Israel, (Josephus, [Antiquities?] viii. 4.) were separated by walls, beyond which strangers were not allowed to pass. (Calmet) — Slain, being first cast out, ver. 15. (Menochius) — Great respect is due to holy places, and hence comes the privilege of sanctuaries. (Worthington)

Ver. 10. David. There was a sort of arsenal in the temple, containing arms consecrated to the Lord by David and his valiant men, in memory of their victories, 2 Kings viii. 11., and 1 Paralipomenon xviii. 11. The usual band of Levites had proper arms, but more were employed on this occasion. (Calmet)

Ver. 11. Right, or south, leading to the palace, (Menochius) whence the greatest danger was feared. (Calmet) — Altar of holocausts, that it might not impede the sight of the king. (Menochius)

Ver. 12. The testimony. The book of the law. (Challoner) — So Job (xxxi. 35, 36.) wished to have the sentence pronounced by God as a crown upon his head. The Orientals still lift to their heads the letters which they have received from people whom they wish to honour. (Thevenot, 46.) — Some think that the diadem was adorned with phylacteries, or scrolls, containing parts of the law, (Grotius) particularly what related to the king; (Haydock) or that Joas held in his hand a roll of vellum, containing those instructions, (Deuteronomy xvii. 18., and 2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 11.) instead of a sceptre. — Anointed him, by the hands of Joiada; as this ceremony was requisite on account of the usurpation of Athalia. In peaceable times the unction was not given, (Calmet) according to the Jews, (Haydock) whose sentiment is elsewhere shewn to be unsatisfactory. (Calmet)

Ver. 13. Going in. She must have been attended by a strong guard, to force the passage through the Levites at the door. (Haydock)

Ver. 14. A tribunal. A tribune, or place elevated above the rest. (Challoner) — Hebrew, “on a pillar.” Solomon had stood upon one of brass, three cubits high and five broad. See chap. xxiii. 3., and 2 Paralipomenon vi. 13.

Ver. 15. Precinct. Hebrew sederoth, (untranslated by the Septuagint and (Haydock) improperly supposed by Josephus to be the torrent Cedron) means, “the ranks” of the guards, (Calmet) or, “ranges” of the sacred buildings, which her impure blood must not defile. (Haydock) — Follow her, as an accomplice. (Menochius)

Ver. 16. Thrust. Hebrew, “and she went by the way by which the horses enter the king’s house. When she was come within the horse-gate of the palace, they killed her there,” 2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 15. Such was the ignominious end of this true daughter of Jezabel! (Haydock)

Ver. 17. People. Joiada, as mediator (Calmet) between God, the king, and the people, engaged the two latter to be faithful to their common Lord, and to each other. They promised mutually to observe the laws, and, on that condition, the high priest gave them an assurance that God would protect them. (Haydock) — The covenant entered into by their fathers (Exodus xix. 5.) was renewed. (Calmet)

Ver. 18. Altar. Many of the sacred ornaments belonging to the temple had been transported to the house of Baal, probably on Mount Olivet, where Solomon had formerly erected such buildings, 3 Kings xi. 5., and 2 Paralipomenon xxiv. 7. The reform of the state justly, therefore, began with the destruction of this profane and sacrilegious place. — Lord, according to the former regulations, which had been lately ill observed, to prevent any thing unclean from coming in, 2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 19. (Calmet) — Septuagint, “the priest placed overseers (episkopons) in the house of the Lord. (Haydock)

Ver. 19. Phelethi. In the Hebrew of the books of Kings we read nothing of these bands after the reign of David. The same expressions occur here as [in] ver. 4., “the centurions, the rams, (or captains) and the runners,” (Calmet) or guards. (Protestants) (Haydock) — Gate, on the west. Athalia had probably entered by the south. — Kings. It was made of ivory, &c., 3 Kings x. 18. (Calmet)

Bible Text & Cross-references:

Athalia usurpation and tyranny. Joas is made king. Athalia is slain.

1 And *Athalia, the mother of Ochozias, seeing that her son was dead, arose and slew all the royal seed.

2 But Josaba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ochozias, took Joas, the son of Ochozias, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, out of the bed-chamber with his nurse: and hid him from the face of Athalia; so that he was not slain.

3 And he was with her six years, hid in the house of the Lord. And Athalia reigned over the land.

4 *And in the seventh year Joiada seat, and taking the centurions and the soldiers, brought them in to him into the temple of the Lord, and made a covenant with them: and taking an oath of them in the house of the Lord, shewed them the king’s son:

5 And he commanded them, saying: This is the thing that you must do.

6 Let a third part of you go in on the sabbath, and keep the watch of the king’s house. And let a third part be at the gate of Sur; and let a third part be at the gate behind the dwelling of the shield-bearers; and you shall keep the watch of the house of Messa.

7 But let two parts of you all that go forth on the sabbath, keep the watch of the house of the Lord about the king.

8 And you shall compass him round about, having weapons in your hands: and if any man shall enter the precinct of the temple, let him be slain: and you shall be with the king, coming in and going out.

9 And the centurions did according to all things that Joiada, the priest, had commanded them: and taking every one their men, that went in on the sabbath, with them that went out in the sabbath, came to Joiada, the priest.

10 And he gave them the spears, and the arms of king David, which were in the house of the Lord.

11 And they stood, having every one their weapons in their hands, from the right side of the temple, unto the left side of the altar, and of the temple, about the king.

12 And he brought forth the king’s son, and put the diadem upon him, and the testimony: and they made him king, and anointed him: and clapping their hands, they said: God save the king.

13 And Athalia heard the noise of the people running: and going in to the people into the temple of the Lord,

14 She saw the king standing upon a tribunal, as the manner was, and the singers, and the trumpets near him, and all the people of the land rejoicing, and sounding the trumpets: and she rent her garments, and cried: A conspiracy, a conspiracy.

15 But Joiada commanded the centurions that were over the army, and said to them: Have her forth without the precinct of the temple, and whosoever shall follow her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest had said: Let her not be slain in the temple of the Lord.

16 And they laid hands on her: and thrust her out by the way by which the horses go in, by the palace, and she was slain there.

17 And Joiada made a covenant between the Lord, and the king, and the people, that they should be the people of the Lord; and between the king and the people.

18 And all the people of the land went into the temple of Baal, and broke down his altars, and his images they broke in pieces thoroughly: they slew also Mathan, the priest of Baal, before the altar. And the priest set guards in the house of the Lord.

19 And he took the centurions, and the bands of the Cerethi, and the Phelethi, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king from the house of the Lord: and they came by the way of the gate of the shield-bearers into the palace, and he sat on the throne of the kings.

20 And all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet: but Athalia was slain with the sword in the king’s house.

21 Now Joas was seven years old when he began to reign.



1: Year of the World 3120.; 2 Paralipomenon xxii. 10.

4: 2 Paralipomenon xxiii. 1.; Year of the World 3126, Year before Christ 878.