The real Athaliah was the daughter and eldest child of King Ahab. Her mother was the notoriously wicked Queen Jezebel. The shedding of blood was not new to Athaliah as she followed her mother’s example. Athaliah’s actions prove a mother’s influence is strong, even when she is no longer on the scene.
The real Athaliah was the granddaughter of a Phoenician King and granddaughter of King Omri, a successful military campaigner who extended the northern kingdom of Israel. Ruthless blood shedding was in the family.
Marriage Just A Treaty
Her parents married Athaliah to the king of Jordan, Jehoram. The marriage was merely the seal of a treaty between north and south Israel. Such treaties were a way to keep the neighbours ‘friendly’.
Jehoram was 32-years-old when he became king, but it was a precarious situation. He killed his six brothers just to secure his position on the throne. Several areas under his control revolted. He was known as one of the wickedest kings in Judah’s history, strongly influenced by his wife.
Jehoram’s grandfather and father were devout worshippers of Yawheh, but Jehoram rejected Yawheh and married Baal worshipping, Athaliah. She was a few years older than Jehoram and in her late 30s when her husband became king.
The real Athaliah inherited her mother’s strength of will and fanatical devotion to the Canaanite god Baal. This fertility god was the most abominable of all the Canaanite gods.
Things went from bad to worse for Jehoram and Athaliah. A consortium of Philistines, Arabs and Ethiopians looted the king’s house and carried off Jehoram’s family. Only young Ahaziah escaped.
Jehoram received a warning letter from the prophet Elijah but continued his idolatrous worship of Baal. He died from a painful inflammation of the abdomen, having reigned for only 8 years. No one mourned his passing and he was not buried in the tombs of the kings.
The Real Athaliah, Queen Mother
The real Athaliah became Queen Mother, to Ahaziah. The 22-year-old king lived under the head-strong influence and counsel of his mother. Ahaziah was promiscuous and unprincipled in sexual matters, and was the personification of arrogance.
Ahaziah went on a state visit to Israel, in the first year of his reign. Jehu, assassinated both King Ahaziah of Jordan, and King Jehoram of Israel. Jehu avenged the death of Naham, whose death Jezebel had orchestrated.
The flow of blood did not stop. Jehu also killed Athaliah’s extended family in Samaria.
Athaliah lusted for the throne, when she heard of the death of young Ahaziah. Instantly, she ordered the execution of all claimants to the throne from Ahaziah’s line. These were her children and grandchildren, giving a new meaning to the term ‘wicked mother/grandmother’.
Jezebel, the first female persecutor, determinedly set out to kill all the priests of Yahweh. Athaliah set out to kill all the descendants of King David’s line.
Jehosheba was Athaliah’s sister. She rescued Jehoash, Athaliah’s one-year-old grandson, Jehoash. He was raised in secret by a priest.
Baal Worship In Judah
During her 7-year reign, the real Athaliah firmly established the worship of Baal in Judah. She was the only women to have a sole rule in the entire history of the Hebrew nation.
When Jehoash was seven-years-old, the priest that was raising him instigated a revolt against Athaliah. Jehoash was publicly proclaimed king of Judah.
Athaliah rushed to the temple, crying, ‘Treason! Treason!” Two royal guards seized her and killed her. Athaliah was 62-years-old.
In 1733, Handel composed an oratorio, based on the life of Athaliah. Handel used Jean Racine’s best tragedy as the foundation to his work.
He portrayed Athaliah as regal, stunning, ruthless and bloodthirsty, a good representation of the true Athaliah. She was troubled by dreams of the gruesome death of her mother, Jezebel, who was thrown from a window. Scavenger dogs licked up her blood, leaving only hands, feet and skull.
In 2016, Parfums de Marly launched a very expensive perfume called Athalia. The beauty of the perfume is a stark contrast to the reality of the real Athaliah.
Women everywhere have a unique voice and influence. Jezebel’s influence permeated three generations, destroying a king, plus her entire family. Athaliah followed in her mother’s evil footsteps, destroying more of the family line. Deborah and Esther were godly women who used their voice to the good of others. Women whose influence permeated generations.
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