Summary: Athaliah was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of Israel and the wife of Jehoram, king of Judah. Our goal in this study is to better understand the mistakes this wicked queen made, learn from her and thus avoid similar mistakes in our walk with God.
Athaliah (Ath-uh-LIE-ah) was the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel of Israel and the wife of Jehoram (Jih-hoh-ruhm), king of Judah. She followed the path set by her parents and influenced her husband to "walk in the ways of the kings of Israel" (2 Kings 8:18 (quickview) ) and worship Baal. Athaliah proved to be as dedicated to paganism as her mother. She also turned away from the Lord. The text will prove that she was a powerful influence on her husband and her sons. They enthusiastically adopted her faith and her wicked ways. Why are her wicked acts recorded for us in Scripture? It must be for us to study and learn from her mistakes. Our goal in this study is to better understand the mistakes this wicked queen made, learn from her and thus avoid similar mistakes in our walk with God.
The united Kingdom of Israel divided after the death of Solomon (931 BC). The ten northern tribes follow Jeroboam into idolatry. He is succeeded by 18 wicked kings, the last being Hoshea. It was in his reign, in 722 BC, the Assyrians captured and ultimately brought about the end of the Northern Kingdom. As far as the Southern Kingdom (the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah), they followed Rehoboam who was succeeded by 11 bad kings and 8 good kings. It is through this line of succession we find our character, Queen Athaliah. After Rehoboam (931—913 BC) his son Abijah reigns briefly (912 BC). Abijah is succeeded by his son Asa (911 - 870 BC). Asa is succeeded by his son Jehoshaphat who reigns until 848 BC. Jehoshaphat was a godly king who "did not turn aside from doing what was right in the eyes of the Lord" (1 Kings. 22:43). However, Jehoshaphat made one disastrous mistake: he made peace with the wicked king Ahab of the Northern Kingdom and married his son Jehoram to Athaliah. In so doing Jehoshaphat welcomed a poisonous viper into his family and exposed his son to a woman dedicated to doing evil. After Jehoshaphat’s death, his son Jehoram, with Athaliah at his side, becomes king of Judah. Jehoram ruled for only 8 years (until 841 BC) but during this time the sons of Athaliah, "that wicked woman… had presented all the dedicated things of the house of the Lord to the Baals" (2 Chr. 24:7). Where did this idolatry come from? Her parents, Ahab and Jezebel, king and queen of the Northern Kingdom!
When Jehoram died his son Ahaziah (A-huh-zI-uh) succeeded him. But Ahaziah was killed during his first year as king. When Athaliah learned that her son was dead, she acted quickly to destroy all the royal heirs, her grandchildren (cf. 2 Kings 11:1 (quickview) ). With the royal family apparently wiped out, Athaliah took the throne and ruled as queen for six years. However, one of the kings sons (her grandson) survived and was hidden by his aunt Jehosheba for six years. When the boy was seven years old, the high priest Jehoiada organized a coup. Athaliah was executed immediately, to great rejoicing and thus Joash becomes the youngest king of Judah.
The historical events we just discussed, as it relates to Athaliah, are recorded for us in two separate Biblical accounts— 2 Kings 11 (quickview)  and 2 Chron. 22—24. Before we look at Athaliah close-up, learning from her mistakes, let’s take the time to read the complete text both in Kings and Chronicles. I realize this is a long reading; however, it should strengthen our understanding of this wicked woman.