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Friday, January 26, 2007

Women in the Old Testament, 3: Athaliah

At a recent midweek service, my pastor asked who we thought was the wickedest woman in the Bible. There were several responses, including Jezebel, Herodias, and Potiphar's wife. I was a little surprised to hear Eve mentioned as a candidate. I suggested Athaliah. I hadn't researched her lately, but decided to do so, and post on her. I have previously posted about some good, or at least neutral, women from the Old Testament. I don't have anything good to report about Athaliah.

What was so bad?

Athaliah's story is found in 2 Kings 8 - 11. 8:16 tells us that her husband was King Jehoram of Judah, the Southern Kingdom. 8:18 says that she was Ahab's daughter, and, presumably, also Jezebel's. Not a great ancestry, but people have overcome their ancestry. Did she? No. Verse 8:26 names her for the first time, and says that she was also the granddaughter of King Omri. So, she had an idolatrous father, mother and grandfather. What did she do?

What she did was to kill all her grandsons, when her son died, so that she could take the throne for herself. 2 Kings 11:1 describes this killing. One of her grandsons escaped, because his aunt Jehosheba (aka Jehoshabeath) hid six-year-old Joash (aka Jehoash) from his grandmother. Eventually, Jehoiada, the High Priest, brought young Joash forward as king, and had the wicked Athaliah killed.

The story is also told in 2 Chronicles 22-23.

Destroying your own grandsons, to further your own ambition, strikes me as about as evil a thing as one can do. I can't imagine any grandmother I know doing that, and it's hard to imagine any grandmother I don't know doing it, either.

I don't know who the wickedest woman in the Bible was, but Athaliah is a candidate, I guess.

Here's part 1, and here's part 2 of this series. These are both more general than this one. Here are three specific posts on such women, one a post on five sisters, one on Abishag, and one on Tamar.

Thanks for reading.


Catez said...

Athaliah reminds me of Medea - or Medea reminds me of Athaliah. I linked this one. Thanks for recently linking one of my language posts also - much appreciated.

Martin LaBar said...

Thank you!