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2 Chronicles 23


(LXX versing)
Jehoiada Sets Joash on the Throne of Judah Joash Crowned King in Judah The Revolt Against Athaliah; Her Punishment by Death and the Enthronement of Joash The Revolt Against Athaliah Accession of Joash and Death of Athaliah
23:1-7 23:1-7 23:1-7 23:1-2 23:1-7
23:8-11 23:8-11 23:8-11 23:8-11 23:8-11
Athaliah Murdered Death of Athaliah
23:12-15 23:12-13 23:12-15 23:12-13 23:12-15
23:14-15 23:14
Reforms Carried Out Jehoiada's Reforms Jehoiada's Reign
23:16-21 23:16-21 23:16-21 23:16-19 23:16-19
23:20-21 23:20-24:3

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Bible Interpretation Seminar")


This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects. Compare your subject divisions with the five translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

  1. First paragraph
  2. Second paragraph
  3. Etc.


1Now in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took captains of hundreds: Azariah the son of Jeroham, Ishmael the son of Johanan, Azariah the son of Obed, Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, and they entered into a covenant with him. 2They went throughout Judah and gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah, and the heads of the fathers' households of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. 3Then all the assembly made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And Jehoiada said to them, "Behold, the king's son shall reign, as the Lord has spoken concerning the sons of David. 4This is the thing which you shall do: one third of you, of the priests and Levites who come in on the sabbath, shall be gatekeepers, 5and one third shall be at the king's house, and a third at the Gate of the Foundation; and all the people shall be in the courts of the house of the Lord. 6But let no one enter the house of the Lord except the priests and the ministering Levites; they may enter, for they are holy. And let all the people keep the charge of the Lord. 7The Levites will surround the king, each man with his weapons in his hand; and whoever enters the house, let him be killed. Thus be with the king when he comes in and when he goes out."

23:1 "Jehoiada" This is the High Priest married to Jehoshapbeath in 2 Chr. 22:11, who helped hide Joash in the temple chambers for six years.

The five men listed must also be of the tribe of Levi.

"captains of hundreds" From 2 Kgs. 11:4 this includes some foreign mercenaries (cf. 1 Chr. 18:17). This may be the meaning of 2 Chr. 23:6, not just lay people (i.e., non-Levite), but not covenant people (i.e., Carites or Cherethites).


23:2 Jehoiada assembled a Levite army to protect the rightful Davidic heir (cf. 2 Kgs. 11:4-20). This is not mentioned in the 2 Kings parallel. The Chronicler is always promoting the Levites!

"Israel" This is used of Judah being the true "Israel" of YHWH. See notes at 2 Chr. 11:13-17; 12:6; 21:2.

23:3 This is an allusion to 2 Samuel 7; 1 Chronicles 17. There was a private, Levitical commitment to service the new Davidic child king (cf. 2 Kgs. 11:4) in the temple before the events of 2 Chr. 23:9-11.

23:6 "let no one enter" This (BDB 97, KB 112) is an IMPERFECT used as a JUSSIVE. I think there is another one at the end of the verse, "let all the people keep the charge of the Lord" (also note 2 Chr. 23:7).

This limiting of access was for two purposes.

  1. It renewed the sanctity of the temple courts (i.e., Num. 1:15; 3:10,38; 18:7).
  2. It excluded any followers of Athaliah to enter.

8So the Levites and all Judah did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded. And each one of them took his men who were to come in on the sabbath, with those who were to go out on the sabbath, for Jehoiada the priest did not dismiss any of the divisions. 9Then Jehoiada the priest gave to the captains of hundreds the spears and the large and small shields which had been King David's, which were in the house of God. 10He stationed all the people, each man with his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the house to the left side of the house, by the altar and by the house, around the king. 11Then they brought out the king's son and put the crown on him, and gave him the testimony and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him and said, "Long live the king!"

23:8 "did not dismiss any of the divisions" This accumulation of Levites in the temple area had to be done secretly over time, so as not to cause Athaliah or her guards to notice.

23:9 Jehoiada passed out the weapons that were kept in the temple.

  1. David's shields of gold ‒ 2 Sam. 8:7
  2. Solomon's shields of gold ‒ 1Kgs. 10:16-17; 14:26-27; 2 Chr. 9:16
  3. Shishak of Egypt took Solomon's shields of gold and Rehoboam replaced them with bronze ones, 2 Chr. 12:9-10


23:11 "the testimony" This was a copy of the Ten Commandments or larger parts of the Law of Moses (i.e., Deut. 17:18).

Some scholars think it was a document that outlined the responsibilities of the king (AB, p. 130), but I think the books of Exodus or Deuteronomy would do this.


"Long live the king" This was a political affirmation (lit. "may the king live," BDB 310, KB 309, Qal JUSSIVE, cf. 2 Sam. 10:24; 1 Kgs. 1:25,34,39).

12When Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king, she came into the house of the Lord to the people. 13She looked, and behold, the king was standing by his pillar at the entrance, and the captains and the trumpeters were beside the king. And all the people of the land rejoiced and blew trumpets, the singers with their musical instruments leading the praise. Then Athaliah tore her clothes and said, "Treason! Treason!" 14Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds who were appointed over the army and said to them, "Bring her out between the ranks; and whoever follows her, put to death with the sword." For the priest said, "Let her not be put to death in the house of the Lord." 15So they seized her, and when she arrived at the entrance of the Horse Gate of the king's house, they put her to death there.

23:13 "tore her clothes" See SPECIAL TOPIC: GRIEVING RITES.

"Treason! Treason!" This (BDB 905) is repeated for emphasis (cf. 2 Kgs.9:23; 11:14). What she considered "treason" was YHWH's justice!

NASB, NRSV, NJB  "Bring her out between the ranks"
NKJV  "take her outside under guard"
TEV  "take her out between the rows of guards"
REB  "bring her outside the precincts"
LXX  "remove her from the house"

The term "ranks" (BDB 690, KB 1310) can mean

  1. a line of soldiers (KB #2)
  2. a row of pillars (Egyptian root) or planks (KB, #1, cf. 1 Kgs. 6:9)

"Let her be not put to death in the house of the Lord" This (BDB 562, Hiphil) is an IMPERFECT used as a JUSSIVE (cf. 2 Chr. 23:6,7).

23:15 Josephus, Antiq. 9.7.3., says Athaliah came with her royal guard whom she ordered to kill the crowned child, but she was stopped and she and her supporters killed.

16Then Jehoiada made a covenant between himself and all the people and the king, that they would be the Lord's people. 17And all the people went to the house of Baal and tore it down, and they broke in pieces his altars and his images, and killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. 18Moreover, Jehoiada placed the offices of the house of the Lord under the authority of the Levitical priests, whom David had assigned over the house of the Lord, to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses—with rejoicing and singing according to the order of David. 19He stationed the gatekeepers of the house of the Lord, so that no one would enter who was in any way unclean. 20He took the captains of hundreds, the nobles, the rulers of the people and all the people of the land, and brought the king down from the house of the Lord, and came through the upper gate to the king's house. And they placed the king upon the royal throne. 21So all of the people of the land rejoiced and the city was quiet. For they had put Athaliah to death with the sword.

23:17 The fact there was a temple and priesthood of Ba'al in Jerusalem shows the level of idolatry that "the house of Ahab" had caused in Judah (especially Jezebel and Athaliah).

Josephus, Antiq. 9.7.4., says Athaliah ran to the temple of Ba'al which she and her husband had built in Jerusalem.

23:18 Jehoiada was returning to the organization of David's tabernacle (cf. 1 Chronicles 9).

23:20 Notice the different groups of Judean society.

  1. captains (BDB 987) ‒ military
  2. nobles (BDB 12) ‒ wealthy
  3. rulers of the people (BDB 766 I) ‒ common people
  4. people of the land (BDB 481 CONSTRUCT BDB 766 I) ‒ poor people or parallel to #3

The whole point is that all Judean society supported the coup and the Davidic child king.

23:21 "the city was quiet" This was a sign of YHWH's presence and pleasure.

The NASB Study Bible, p. 612, shows the outline of Joash's reign.

  1. his anointing ‒ 2 Chronicles 23
  2. his good years with Jehoiada as counselor ‒ 2 Chr. 24:1-16
  3. his bad years without Jehoiada ‒ 2 Chr. 24:17-27

This initial godliness followed by evil acts is a recurrent pattern in Chronicles.


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

  1. Who was Jehoiada?
  2. How does 2 Chr. 23:1 relate to 2 Kgs. 11:4?
  3. What previous Scripture is 2 Chr. 23:3 referring to?
  4. Does 2 Chr. 23:6-7 relate to 2 Kgs. 11:4 or laypersons?
  5. What does 2 Chr. 23:17 say about the spiritual condition of Jerusalem under Ahtaliah?

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