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Athaliah chased from the Temple. By Charles Antoine Coypel.
Athaliah (Hebrew: עתליה, ʻAthalyāh; "Name means::YHWH is exalted") (929-r. 886-879 BC according to Ussher[1][2] or 884-r. 841-835BC according to Thiele[3][4]) was a princess of the House of Omri and a vicereine and queen in the Kingdom of Judah. She was the only woman ever to occupy the throne of either kingdom in her own right. She is also remembered for introducing Baalism to the Kingdom of Judah and for trying to destroy the House of David and seize power in the Kingdom of Judah, until a high priest and his wife would defeat her.


Athaliah was presumably born in 929 BC or 884 BC, to Ahab and Jezebel during the four years of civil war during which Omri was fighting for control of the Kingdom of Israel.[5] (The Chronicler calls her "daughter of Omri"; he probably means "granddaughter;" see 2_Chronicles 22:2 .)

When she was nine, her father became king of the Kingdom of Israel on Omri's death. Jezebel came from Sidon, in Phoenician country (known as "The Levant" today), where Baalism had lately become prominent. Jezebel introduced this false religion to the Kingdom of Israel. That she also introduced it to her daughter as well as to her sons is only reasonable to assume.

When Athaliah was twenty, she married Jehoram, son of King Jehoshaphat of the Kingdom of Judah, to seal a treaty between Jehoshaphat and her father. (2_Chronicles 21:6 ) She bore him at least one son, Ahaziah, who at the age of twenty-two would reign alone in the Kingdom of Judah for less than a year.

Controversy on the Age of Ahaziah

This last might explain an anomalous verse by the Chronicler, in which he seems to state that Ahaziah was 42 years old when he began to reign. In fact, Ahaziah was not 42 years of age, but the House of Omri had lasted this long. Perhaps Athaliah was born in the year that Omri's civil war began.

granddaughter of::Omri
granddaughter of::Ithobaal I
daughter of::Ahab
daughter of::Jezebel
mother of::Ahaziah
grandmother of::Joash
Zechariah I

Career of Jehoram

Toward the end of the reign of Jehoshaphat, Jehoram became viceroy of the Kingdom of Judah—and immediately after Jehoshaphat died, Jehoram murdered all his brothers and several minor princes. Whether Athaliah incited him to do this or merely learned from his example, the Bible does not make clear. In any case, the Bible clearly credits her with (or, perhaps more properly, blames her for) introducing the worship of Baal to the Kingdom of Judah, as her mother Jezebel had done in the Kingdom of Israel.

Athaliah survived the Philistine-Arabian raid that destroyed much of the rest of the royal family, as did her son Ahaziah. She watched as her husband suffered a severe gastrointestinal disease, and also watched her husband's death and the coronation of her son.

Lone Reign

In 886 BC (or 841 BC), General Jehu seized the Kingdom of Israel and systematically destroyed all of Athaliah's extended family in that kingdom. Jehu also killed her son Ahaziah and several other minor princes of the House of David. Athaliah, when she heard this, proceeded to kill as many members of the royal family as she could hunt down.[4][6][7] But she missed one key member: her grandson Joash. Princess Jehosheba took Joash away from the palace,[4] and she and her husband Jehoiada raised the boy for six years, during which time Athaliah ruled in the land. Apparently Athaliah did not even realize that Joash was alive.[4][6][7] (2_Kings 11:1-16 , 2_Chronicles 22:10-12 )

Then in the seventh (and last) year of her reign, she heard a loud noise of celebration and music coming from the Temple of Jerusalem. She entered the temple and saw something that must have horrified her: here was a seven-year-old boy, wearing a crown, and clearly identified as Joash, son of Ahaziah, with High Priest Jehoiada and a large company of Levites by his side.[4][6][7] In uncontrollable fury, she tore her royal robes and cried,

"Treason! Treason!" - 2_Chronicles 23:13

Jehoiada shouted an order, and several company commanders seized her, carried her out to the horse gate of the Temple, and summarily executed her.[4][6][7] (2_Chronicles 23:13-14 )

Born: Born:: Tammuz 3075 AM Died: Died::1 Abib 3125 AM
Preceded by
Successor of::Ahaziah
Queen of Ruler of::Kingdom of Judah
Accession::Abib 3118 AMDied::1 Abib 3125 AM
Succeeded by
Succeeded by::Joash


Kestner comments[8] that the Bible nowhere criticized Athaliah for being a woman reigning in her own right, but rather for her wicked deeds, first in introducing Baalism to the kingdom and then in trying to exterminate the entire royal family.

See Also


  1. James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 503, 511, 528, 532, 536, 537
  2. Jones, Floyd N., The Chronology of the Old Testament, Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003, Chart 5.
  3. Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 295-296
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Konig, George. "Athaliah, Queen of Judah." About Bible Prophecy, 2007. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  5. Ussher, op. cit., pgh. 503
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Authors unknown. "Athaliah." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed., 2007. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Authors unknown. "Entry for Athaliah." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 11, 2007.
  8. Kestner, Jackie. "Entry for Athaliah." Alabaster Jars Ministry. Retrieved June 11, 2007.