This article was first published ten years ago on the old website under the title The Murderess Queen Athaliah of Judah
I am not a believer in the ‘Infallibility of the Bible.’ By this I mean that I do not believe that all the words contained in the Bible were dictated by God and that each and every letter thereof is somehow ‘divine’ and unalterable. I do however believe that the records contained in the Old Testament are true records that record true events. Many Bible Skeptics rely on Biblical Infallibility beliefs to justify their stance that the Bible is full of errors and is therefore a ‘fable.’
In this article, taken from Chapter 10 of the King’s Calendar (849 BC. to 756 BC, Athaliah to Uzziah of Judah & Jehu to Jeroboam II of Israel) we look at an issue in relation to Queen Athaliah of Judah in which the Bible alleges that she killed all the heirs to the throne to steal the throne for herself. That this picture is perhaps not correct is alluded to later in the Bible records of the reign of King Joash when reference is made to advice he received from his royal relatives.
Note: If you are unfamiliar with ‘The King’s Calendar’ it is recommended that you read what is the King’s Calendar before you accept any of the chronological references found in this article. The King’s Calendar operates on a computer based mathematical reconstruction of Israelite history, converting all Biblical year references into periods of 336 days.
The Reign of Athaliah of Judah
Athaliah was the Daughter of Ahab King of Israel; wife of King Jehoram of Judah; mother of King Ahaziah of Judah; grandmother of King Joash of Judah and reigned for seven (7) years from the spring of 849 BC to late 844 BC or early 843 BC.
There is no consideration given here to the posit that Athaliah’s reign ought to be incorporated into the 40 year reign of her grandson Joash. Likewise says the Encylopaedia Judaica (1972, Vol 10, p.111).
Ahab King of Israel
Ascended January 883 BC in Asa’s 38th year (12th year of Omri)
Ahab commenced 1st Regnal Year Mar/Apr Spring New Year
Ahab’s 1st artificial year commenced December 883 BC
Ahab reigned 22 years (1 Kings 16:29)
Ahab died prior to Spring New Year 862 BC (21 Solar Years)
Jehoram King of Judah
Jehoram ascended the throne of Judah in the last year of his father Jehoshaphat (858 BC)
Jehoram of Judah ruled from Spring New year of 857 BC to New Year 850 BC
Jehoram reigned 8 solar and 8 artificial years.
Ahaziah King of Judah
Ascended after Spring New Year 850 BC
Died in 849 BC about 1 year later.
Details can be seen in Appendix 5 Chart
Upon her son’s death, Athaliah set about to complete the job started by the usurper King Jehu of Israel (who killed Ahaziah of Judah and Jehoram of Israel), and she forthwith murdered all heirs apparent to the throne of Judah.
Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
By analysing various biblical data, it is possible to gain a fuller insight into the circumstances of the time, especially with regard to family relationships, and the alliance between Ahab and Jehoshaphat.
Analysis of the Data
It is quite an easy thing to ‘read’ Biblical accounts and form opinion based upon the ‘primary text reading.’ However, when such texts are read in context with other seemingly unrelated references, often the meaning of the primary text reading can change. In this section we examine primary and secondary texts to put some issues into perspective.
1. We have previously noted that Ahaziah of Judah was the youngest son of Jehoram (2 Chronicles 22:1), and Jehoram was perhaps 32 years old when he commenced to co-reign, c 865 BC.
If Jehoram was 32 yrs old at the commencement of his co-rule, and that co- rule lasted nine years, then he was 41 years old when he commenced to reign independently. If we add 8 years to that, he was 49 years of age at death, and therefore 27 years old when Ahaziah was born.
2. Given that Ahaziah was 22 years old when he ascended the throne in 849 BC, we can determine that he was born about 870 BC
3. If we assume (that is to say, establish as fact something for which there is no evidence), that Athaliah was Jehoram’s principal wife, we might also assume that Jehoram’s eldest son and heir was Athaliah’s child.
4. Since Ahaziah was born when his father was 27 yrs old, we can assume that he had older brothers, and that they may have been anywhere up to 10 years older. We could summise therefore, that Jehoram’s marriage to Athaliah occurred as far back as c. 879 BC.
5. We have previously noted that the conspiracy between Ahab and Jehoshaphat to retake Ramoth Gilead, occurred circa 864 BC; and this conspiracy according to 2 Chronicles 18:1-3 occurred some years after the marriage alliance between the two houses.
6. We could conclude that the alliance took place before Athaliah’s marriage, and if Ahaziah’s elder brothers were also Athaliah’s children, then the alliance commenced up to ten years earlier than his birth. Therefore the alliance may have occurred somewhere around the 2nd/3rd year of Jehoshaphat, which is the 5th/6th year of Ahab, but most definitely by Jehoshaphat’s 12th/13th year, which is Ahab’s 15th/16th year, when Ahaziah was born.
7. Jehu killed ‘the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers ( 2 Chronicles 22:8)
And it came to pass, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, that he found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, ministering to Ahaziah, and slew them.
8. Since Athaliah then ‘destroyed all the royal family of the house of Judah’ (2 Chronicles 22:10), it is obvious that Jehu was not completely successful.
But Jehosheba, the daughter of king Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him away from among the king’s sons that were slain, even him and his nurse, and put them in the bed-chamber; and they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not slain.
9. Since Ahaziah’s sister Jehosheba (2 Kings 11:2) was left alive, and presuming that in the absence of heirs, that daughters or sisters of Jehoram may have been able to supply a son to take the throne, one wonders if Jehosheba was in fact Athaliah’s daughter, and that those royals murdered by Athaliah, were not in fact all those who were not ‘her’ blood relations.
10. From 2 Chronicles 24:17-18 we discover:
a) That after the death of Jehoiada the high priest the princes of Judah came and did obeisance to the king
b) That the king hearkened to them and forsook the house of the Lord.
If Joash were the only prince left alive in 849 BC, then the princes of Second Chronicles Twenty-Four (24) would necessarily be his sons.
Would the king succumb to the pressure placed upon him by his children? Or is it more likely that these princes were other relatives descended from Athaliah; cousins, uncles and nephews?
It is not at all implausible to consider that Athaliah had in fact, only set out to destroy heirs apparent who were descended from Jehoram’s other wives. There was therefore no need to kill Ahaziah’s young half brothers, his sisters, or his male uncles or cousins. Athaliah was able to take the throne for herself as regent, since the direct claimant to the throne was a minor, who was left in the care of his aunt.
While it cannot be stated with certainty that Joash had no male relatives, the reference to ‘princes’ could be seen as indicative that Athaliah only destroyed those who posed a threat to Joash’s succession.
When the coup came and Athaliah was murdered, it is more probable that the motivation was religious rather than political. The Yahwist High Priest into whose care the infant king had been given, saw in the Regent Queen, a pagan whose ways were not the ancient ways of the people. It might even be said that the coup was instigated by the High Priest who considered that he himself ought to be the ‘power behind the throne’ so to speak, as adviser to the Monarch.
I hope you have enjoyed this little insight into one section of the King’s Calendar that has to date not been published freely online.
Academic Articles on the New Website as at Jan 11, 2017
Synchronous Chronology of Ancient Israel and Judah
Assumptions and Limitations of ‘The Secret of Qumran’ Research
Methodology of The Secret of Qumran: King’s Calendar
King Ahab of Israel and Ben-Hadad of Syria
Bible Misidentification of Kings 8th Century BC
Adad-Nirari III and his Western Campaigns: Tribute from Jehoash of Israel
1 Kings 6:1 : Solomon’s Temple and 480 years
Chronological Differences LXX (Septuagint) and MSS (Masorete)
In Search of the Pharaoh of the Exodus
Pharaoh of the Exodus Revealed
When Did Rameses and Merneptah/Merenptah Reign?
How, When, where Did King Josiah Die?
Who was King Hezekiah’s Father and How long was Hezekiah sick?
Bible History Error: Kings Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezkiah of Judah
Choosing Onias III as ‘Teacher of Righteousness’
Kings of the Ancient Near East from 934 to 522 BC