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Prince Rescued

Key References: 2 Kings 11; Prophets and Kings, chaps. 15, 16, pp. 192, 215, 216; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 5, pp. 111-114; Our Beliefs, nos. 23, 21, 14

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“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8).

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Family members who love God care for one another.

Family members are supposed to love and protect each other, right? Aunt Jehosheba showed love for her family when she rescued her nephew, Joash, who grew up to become a king.

Athaliah, the daughter of Israel’s King Ahab and his pagan queen Jezebel had inherited her mother’s evil ways.

Athaliah was a very dominant queen mother. Her son, Ahaziah, was just 22 years old when he became king. But even though Ahaziah was a descendant of King David, the family through which Jesus would come, the Bible says he was evil. After reigning one year, King Ahaziah and all of his mother’s family in northern Israel were killed by a treasonous mob. When the news came to Athaliah, she decided that if all the relatives on her side were dead, then she wanted all the relatives on her husband’s side—King David’s descendants—to be killed too. It didn’t matter that these were her grandsons. She wanted to be queen.

The Bible says that Athaliah killed “all” of Ahaziah’s children. The news must have come as a shock. There wasn’t much time to plan a rescue.

But queen mother Athaliah wasn’t as successful as she thought she was. Her own husband had had children with another woman years before, and one of these children was Jehosheba, wife of the high priest. She knew that if just one prince was spared, then King David’s lineage could continue. It had been prophesied that the Messiah would come through David.

Somehow Jehosheba managed to smuggle from the palace the youngest of the princes, 1-year-old Joash. She hid him and his nanny in a storeroom of the Temple and made them comfortable.

For six years Queen Athaliah ruled the land. But during those six years little Joash grew, learning to love God and His holy Temple. When he was 7 years old, Jehosheba and her husband decided it was time to share their secret: Joash would be king!

On a Friday night the high priest secretly called in the palace guards and showed them that Joash was alive and was ready to be king. They would crown him king on Sabbath morning, when everyone was at the Temple to worship. The guards pledged to keep the secret all night and to protect King Joash. They would kill anyone who tried to harm him. The next morning the guards, armed with spears and shields, formed a semicircle around the sacrificial altar inside the Temple, facing the worshippers. The worshippers must have wondered what was going on; they didn’t know about little Joash. But then the boy was brought out by the hand of his uncle Jehoiada, the high priest, and presented to the people.

Jehoiada placed a glittering crown on the little boy’s head and handed him a copy of the Scripture. Then, as a symbol of his anointing by God, the high priest touched Joash’s forehead with olive oil and proclaimed Joash their king. What a burst of applause broke out from the people! The Messiah could come as promised, because David’s lineage was not broken! Trumpets blasted. The people began shouting and clapping, “Long live the king! Long live the king” (see 2 Kings 11:12). The little king smiled and waved.

In her chambers Queen Athaliah heard the commotion. She never attended Sabbath services, but the people weren’t usually noisy like this—what was going on? She threw on her robes and hurried to the Temple. There she saw Joash accepting the praise. In a show of anger she tore her expensive robes. Her voice rose to a scream: “Treason!”

The high priest quickly told the guards to take her out of the Temple and kill her and anyone who would try to protect her. Nobody stopped the guards as they dragged Athaliah, the wicked queen, to the stables.

Back at the Temple, Jehoiada led out in a pledge between King Joash and all the people to serve God and to be loyal to each other. The people left the Temple and went out into the city to break down the altars of Baal, remove the evil priest, and destroy Athaliah’s evil influence.

While the city was being cleansed Jehoiada took the new king and his guards to the palace. His heart must have been pounding as he watched little Joash take his seat on the golden throne for the first time. At last they had a king in Jerusalem who loved the Lord!

It’s not hard to tell which of Joash’s relatives loved and served God, is it?