Who Was Athaliah in the Bible?

by | Jun 21, 2019 | Bible Study | 0 comments

Who was Athaliah in the Bible? The Jewish queen most people are familiar with from the Bible is Queen Esther; however, although Esther was Jewish, she was the queen of Persia and did not reign in her own right. Athaliah is the only queen, either in Israel or Judah, that reigned in her own right … even though that reign was obtained illegally.
The account of Athaliah’s reign is found in 2 Kings 8:16-11:16 and 2 Chronicles 22:10-23:15.  Athaliah was the daughter of King Ahab and Jezebel of Israel.[1] This is during the time of the divided kingdom, and Jehoshapat, who was the king of the southern kingdom of Judah, married his son, Jehoram to Athaliah, strengthening their alliances.

In the account of Jehoshaphat’s life, he stands out as one of the few kings following Solomon that followed God; however, much of the trouble Jehoshaphat got himself into was because of his relationship with Ahab who was one of the most evil kings. Obviously, he did not seek God’s guidance before arranging a marriage between his son and Ahab’s daughter, because we can see that this alliance caused much damage later on. After Jehoram’s reign, his son Ahaziah became king.

The prophet Elijah had long been warning Ahab and his successors to repent for their false worship. Elijah commissions Jehu and tells him that he will be king of Israel. Jehu goes to war with Jehoram of Israel, Ahab’s son. In the same conflict, Ahaziah, king of Judah and son of Athaliah is also killed. Following his victory, Jehu goes to Jezreel to confront Jezebel, where she meets her end.

To recap, both the Ahaziah of Judah and Jehoram of Israel are killed, Jezebel is dead, and Jehu has taken control of the northern kingdom of Israel.

Athaliah shows herself to be just as ruthless and bloodthirsty as her mother, Jezebel, and kills everyone in the line of succession to Ahaziah. While the slaughter is going on, Athaliah’s daughter, Jehosheba who is married to Jehodiaha the high priest, rescues Ahaziah’s infant son Jehoash to refuge in the temple.

Jehoiada makes a plan to preserve Jehoash and his claim to the throne and gets ready to bide his time. He calls the commanders of the army, some mercenaries, and also the palace guard to the temple and challenges them as act act of obedience to God to protect the infant king. They hide Jehoash in the temple for six years while Athaliah reigns as queen, always keeping guard.

Executing the Plan

I think it’s important to note Jehoiada didn’t just pray and let the chips fall where they may. He knew he had a responsibility to protect the line of David, God’s anointed king, and he came up with a plan to do so.

He didn’t rush the point. They kept guard over Jehoash until the time was right.

Recompense Comes

The day finally arrives. Athaliah has been queen for seven years. All this time these military men have been watching over Jehoash in the Temple. Finally, Jehoiada decides the time is right and he brings out Jehoash along with the commanders, presenting him to the people, and proclaimed Jehoash the king of Judah.

What is Athaliah’s response? She cries “Treason!” This woman who killed everyone who could stand in her way to the throne accused those supporting the lawful heir of betraying her. This is always how it is, no matter how wicked someone is, they always have a sense of the “right” way they themselves should be treated.

Falling Away

Jehoash, the king who was brought up in the temple and was restored by the high priest reigned. We are told that Jehoash followed God while Jehoiada, his deliverer and mentor, lived. Jehoiada lived until he was 130 years old.

Afterwards, Jehoash did not have good advisors and he started going off track. Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, confronted Jehoash with his wrongdoings and warned him that God would judge him if he did not repent.

What was Jehoash’s response? Did he repent?

No. He killed Zechariah at the altar in the temple. This is the son of the man who saved his life and made a way for him to return to the throne . . . and Jehoash repays that loyalty of his mentor by killing his son.

I think this shows just what sin does to us, just how evil we can be when we are too prideful to repent. When we refuse to humble ourselves, there is no telling how depraved we will become.

That is the story of Athaliah, the sole queen of Judah. It’s more Game of Thrones than Disney isn’t it?

This Bible study is part of the One Year Chronological Bible study which we completed in 2019.


[1] There is debate about this, but the general consensus is that Athaliah is the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel.

Printable Bible Study Notes

Would you like a study guide to follow along with the video? Bible study notes are available to our Patreon subscribers as well as individually in the shop. 

You are welcome to share with and print for your own study group; however, please do not sell or distribute these notes otherwise.

[We realize that people from across the world participate in the Bible studies and not every person and church has the same level of resources. If finances are an issue, please send an email to info [at] raisedtowalk.org with the titles of the Bible studies you would like notes for.)