Jezebel and Athaliah
Mother/Daughter Bible Study—Part Seven
Mother and Daughter and Prestige
First Kings chapter twenty-one tells a chilling story about the fate of a common man named Naboth. Naboth happened to own a desirable piece of property near the palace of Ahab and Jezebel. The property appealed to the king Ahab, so he attempted to buy the productive vineyard from Naboth. Naboth was bound legally to retain the inherited property within his family and so he did. Ahab was indignant at Naboth’s refusal to sell the vineyard and went home to his palace to pout.
Enter Jezebel. “What’s wrong, Honey?”she asked the king who was behaving more like a two year old who was unsuccessful in wresting a candy bar from the hand of a playmate.
“It’s that Naboth,” he scowled. “He still won’t sell me that vineyard and I want that vineyard!”
“Well, who is the king around here anyway?… You will have your vineyard!” Jezebel declared.
And so it was. She forged letters of subpoena that summoned Naboth before an assembly. She framed him for blasphemy and insolence before the king and demanded his execution by stoning. She murdered an innocent man. Dogs licked the blood of this noble Jezreelite who got in the way of the power-driven Jezebel.
The lesson of control at all costs was not wasted on Athaliah. Perhaps she wandered in the stolen garden. Perhaps she mused in the garden about how shrewd her folks were to have wrested the valuable vineyard from Naboth. How silly he was to think he could get in her mother’s way! Didn’t her mother always get her way, in the end?
And so Athaliah grew up with the same passion for power. As if the Omri blood had not done enough damage in its complete infection of Israel, the idolatrous Ahab household influence would also permeate the southern kingdom of Judah. Athaliah married Jehoram, king of Judah. This was likely a politically arranged marriage; the union being simply a vehicle of power for Jezebel. As the “queen wife”Athaliah followed in the footsteps of Her mother and had soon spread the idolatrous Baal worship throughout the southern kingdom. Second Chronicles twenty-one, verse six says that Jehoram walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. This marriage between Jehoram and Athaliah was a match made in hell itself, for Jehoram slew all of his brothers to insure his own accession to the throne and he carried to the throne with him the only woman alive who could rival and, yea, surpass his mother-in-law, Jezebel in her hunger for power at all costs.
Amazing, isn’t it, how the devil worked his way from Tyre, a truly godless society, through Israel via the heart of Jezebel, and now into the seed royal of Judah via the heart of Athaliah? This lineage that now claims Athaliah as its matriarch is the very seed of David; the seed through which all nations are to be blessed; the seed through which the Christ child has been promised. Satan has eliminated, by the hand of Jehoram, all of the royal family except for Jehoram himself and his descendants. And the devil has only begun to work to destroy the lineage through which the promised Messiah must come. He still has a well-trained murderess at the helm of his battleship. Her name is Athaliah.
Athaliah’s husband, true to the prophecy of Elijah (II Chronicles 21:12-15), dies of a slow and painful bowel disease inflicted by God because of his idolatry and the murder of his brothers. When he died, no fire was made in his honor, no regret of his passing was felt in Jerusalem, and his burial was not in the tomb of the kings.
Little matter to Athaliah, whether or not Jehoram had passed. Her son Ahaziah was made king and that was just as good or better for her purposes. After all, Ahaziah was young and impressionable. Best of all he was willing —willing to look to her for guidance and counsel. Second Chronicles twenty-two, verses three and four tell us that she actually became her son’s counselor to do wickedly. What better way to wield her power than to act behind the scenes, through her son? This queen mother was happy for her son to wear the crown, but she, like her mother, had to wear the pants! And so a great alliance between Ahabs’s son, king of Israel, and his grandson, king of Judah was formed much to the detriment of both kingdoms (II Chronicles 22:2-6). And you better believe, grandmother Jezebel was sitting pretty as she saw her wicked posterity in charge of both Judah and Israel!
But, alas, the wicked reign of Ahaziah, son of Athaliah, was short-lived. It seems Ahaziah went to visit Joram, Ahab’s son who was reigning in Israel. His visit was at a most inconvenient time, seeing as how the Lord had commissioned the no-nonsense warrior, Jehu, to kill the Ahab family. So Joram and the twenty-three year old Ahaziah heard that Jehu was coming toward the palace in Samaria. They were unable to discern through the messengers they sent whether or not Jehu was coming in peace. So they hitched up the chariot and rode out to meet Jehu. As fate (or more precisely Providence) would have it, they met Jehu in a vineyard; the garden of Naboth. It was here in the stolen vineyard that they finally asked of Jehu “Have you come in peace?”
Jehu was not one to mince words. “How can there be any peace, he said, when your mother Jezebel’s witchcraft and idolatry are all around us?” Of course, he spoke quite literally even as they stood in the vineyard bought with innocent blood. When Joram heard the passion in Jehu’s voice, he turned around to run from God’s messenger of doom, but before he could escape he had Jehu’s arrow between his shoulders. Jehu wanted to get him in the right spot, so the dogs could lick his blood on the very plot upon which God had promised it would occur (I Kings 21:19; II Kings 9:24). I wonder if the vineyard would have been so desirable all those years ago if Jezebel could have seen the dogs licking Ahab’s blood as they washed his chariot there (I Kings 22:38) or if she could have seen his smitten heir Joram’s blood on its lush walkway awaiting the hungry mongrels. But then sin is always that way…much worse in its end than in its conception.
Ahaziah, the proud king of Judah didn’t escape the garden unharmed, either. Amidst Jehu’s cries of “Get him, too!”Ahaziah was fatally wounded in his chariot and died a short while later in Megiddo.
Now the Jezebel in Athaliah rears its ugly head. As often is the case, it seems the capacity for evil had grown generationally. What happened next is unthinkable. Apparently there were heirs to the empty throne that would turn a deaf ear to the counsel of this would-be empress. So power-driven was Athaliah that she determined to murder all heirs to the throne. She, in one sweep of terror beyond imagination, proceeded to wipe out all of the royal family of Judah, including her own grandchildren. She was determined to accede to the throne. No more “queen mother”for her! Get out of her way! The only woman to actually be queen of Judah or Israel in all of scripture is on her way to the throne! Jezebel would have been proud. The devil is exultant. The seed royal…the seed line of the Messiah has been annihilated!
What kind of “queen”are you teaching your daughter to be? Are you giving her the “Jezebel”message articulated in our society through feminism’s voice of “I am woman; hear me roar?” Oh, I know you wouldn’t encourage her to sacrifice lives on her path to success, but are there other values you would have her sacrifice in order to achieve prestige or power? Would you encourage her to sacrifice modesty for popularity… faithfulness to worship for success in sports, the arts, or business… or quantity time with family for a prestigious career?
I spoke with a teenage girl last week who was struggling to grow spiritually despite a family that was less than supportive of her enthusiasm for the Lord’s work. She told me that she would like to attend a Christian university, but her folks wanted her to go to a prestigious university. She said, “They really want me to turn out to be something.” What is the something that your children know you want them to be? They are getting the message of your aspirations for them no matter how subtle you may be. The prestige I want for my daughter is described in Proverbs 31:30:
Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”