Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
4 Kings (2 Kings)
Athaliah destroys all that remain of the seed royal of Judah, Kg2 11:1. Jehosheba hides Joash the son of Ahaziah, and he remains hidden in the house of the Lord six years; and Athaliah reigns over the land, Kg2 11:2, Kg2 11:3. Jehoiada, the high priest, calls the nobles privately together into the temple, shows them the kings son, takes an oath of them, arms them, places guards around the temple, and around the young king's person; they anoint and proclaim him, Kg2 11:4-12. Athaliah is alarmed, comes into the temple, is seized, carried forth, and slain, Kg2 11:13-16. Jehoiada causes the people to enter into a covenant with the Lord; they destroy Baal's house, priest, and images, Kg2 11:17, Kg2 11:18. Joash is brought to the king's house, reigns, and all the land rejoices, Kg2 11:19-21.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:1
Athaliah - This woman was the daughter of Ahab, and grand-daughter of Omri, and wife of Joram king of Judah, and mother of Ahaziah.
Destroyed all the seed royal - All that she could lay her hands on whom Jehu had left; in order that she might get undisturbed possession of the kingdom.
How dreadful is the lust of reigning! it destroys all the charities of life; and turns fathers, mothers, brothers, and children, into the most ferocious savages! Who, that has it in his power, makes any conscience
"To swim to sovereign rule through seas of blood?"
In what a dreadful state is that land that is exposed to political revolutions, and where the succession to the throne is not most positively settled by the clearest and most decisive law! Reader, beware of revolutions; there have been some useful ones, but they are in general the heaviest curse of God.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:2
Daughter of - Joram, sister of Ahaziah - It is not likely that Jehosheba was the daughter of Athaliah; she was sister, we find, to Ahaziah the son of Athaliah, but probably by a different mother. The mother of Jehoash was Zibiah of Beer-sheba; see Kg2 12:1.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:3
He was - hid in the house of the Lord - This might be readily done, because none had access to the temple but the priests; and the high priest himself was the chief manager of this business.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:4
And the seventh year Jehoiada sent - He had certainly sounded them all, and brought them into the interests of the young king, before this time; the plot having been laid, and now ripe for execution, he brings the chief officers of the army and those of the body guard into the temple, and there binds them by an oath of secrecy, and shows them the king's son, in whose behalf they are to rise.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:5
That enter in on the Sabbath - It appears that Jehoiada chose the Sabbath day to proclaim the young king, because as that was a day of public concourse, the gathering together of the people who were in this secret would not be noticed; and it is likely that they all came unarmed, and were supplied by Jehoiada with the spears and shields which David had laid up in the temple, Kg2 11:10.
The priests and Levites were divided into twenty-four classes by David, and each served a week by turns in the temple, and it was on the Sabbath that they began the weekly service, all this favored Jehoiada's design.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:10
King David's spears and shields - Josephus expressly says that David had provided an arsenal for the temple, out of which Jehoiada took those arms. His words are; Ανοιξας δε Ιωαδος την εν τῳ ἱερῳ ὁπλοθηκην, ἡν Δαβιδης κατεσκευασε, διεμερισε τοις ἑκατονταρχαις ἁμα και ἱεροισι και Λευιταις ἁπανθ' ὁσα εὑρεν εν αυτῃ δορατα τε και φαρετρας, και ει τι ἑτερον ειδος ὁπλου κατελαβε. "And Jehoiada having opened the arsenal in the temple, which David had prepared, he divided among the centurions, priests, and Levites, the spears, (arrows), and quivers, and all other kinds of weapons which he found there." - Ant. lib. ix., c. 7, s. 8.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:12
Put the crown upon him - This was a diadem or golden band that went round the head.
And - the testimony - Probably the book of the law, written on a roll of vellum. This was his scepter. Some think that it was placed upon his head, as well as the diadem. The diadem, the testimony, and the anointing oil, were essential to his consecration.
They clapped their hands - This I believe is the first instance on record of clapping the hands as a testimony of joy.
God save the king - יחי המלך yechi hannmelech; May the king live! So the words should be translated wherever they occur.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:14
The king stood by a pillar - Stood On a pillar or tribunal; the place or throne on which they were accustomed to put the kings when they proclaimed them.
Treason, Treason - קשר קשר kesher, kasher; A conspiracy, A conspiracy! from kashar, to bind, unite together.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:15
Have her forth - She had pressed in among the guards into the temple.
And him that followeth - The person who takes her part, let him instantly be slain.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:16
By the way - which the horses came - They probably brought her out near the king's stables. It has been supposed, from Eze 46:1, Eze 46:2, that the east gate of the inner court was that by which the king entered on the Sabbath day, whereas on all other days he entered by the south gate.
And there was another gate, called the horse gate, in the wall of the city, (Jer 31:40), for the king's horses to go out at from the stables at Millo, which is therefore called, Ch2 23:15, the horse gate toward the king's house.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:17
Jehoiada made a covenant - A general covenant was first made between the Lord, the Supreme King, the king his viceroy, and the people, that they should all be the Lord's people; each being equally bound to live according to the Divine law.
Then, secondly, a particular covenant was made between the king and the people, by which the king was bound to rule according to the laws and constitution of the kingdom, and to watch and live for the safety of the public. And the people were bound on their part, to love, honor, succor, and obey the king. Where these mutual and just agreements are made and maintained, there can be nothing else than prosperity in the Church and the state.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:18
His altars and images brake they in pieces - It is probable that Athaliah had set up the worship of Baal in Judah, as Jezebel had done in Israel; or probably it had never been removed since the days of Solomon. It was no wonder that Jehoiada began his reform with this act, when we learn from Ch2 24:7, that the sons of Athaliah, that wicked woman, had broken up the house of God; and also all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord did they bestow upon Baalim.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:20
The people - rejoiced - They were glad to get rid of the tyranny of Athaliah.
And the city was in quiet - She had no partisans to rise up and disturb the king's reign.
4 Kings (2 Kings) 11:21
Seven years old was Jehoash - The first instance on record of making a child seven years old the king of any nation, and especially of such a nation as the Jews, who were at all times very difficult to be governed.