Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 11-12
Suggested Emphasis: We should start learning about God when we are children.
When evil Athaliah heard that her son, King Ahaziah (6th king of Judah), had been killed, she declared herself Queen of Judah. She was so evil that she killed her own grandchildren so that they would not try to be kings or queens in her place. Baby Joash was hidden in the temple by his aunt so he was not killed. Jehoiada, the priest, took care of Joash and taught him about God. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada led the people in crowning Joash as the new king in Athaliah’s place. During his reign, Joash organised the work of the temple and had it repaired to its former glory.
The politics of Israel and Judah intertwine at this point. Athaliah (the daughter of Israel’s King Ahab and Queen Jezebel) had married Jehoram (son of Judah’s King Jehoshaphat) to cement a treaty (2 Chronicles 18:1). Athaliah and Jehoram’s son was Ahaziah. Ahaziah became the 6th king of Judah and ruled for one year.
Meanwhile, the political scene really heated up in Israel. Elisha anointed Jehu, an army commander, as the new king of Israel. Jehu proceeded to destroy the royal family of Israel. 2 Kings 10:1-17 records how he brutally wiped out all of old King Ahab’s descendants (including Ahab’s widow, Jezebel – 2 Kings 9:30-37). He also killed all of the prophets of Baal in Israel (2 Kings 10:18-35). He killed both Joram (king of Israel) and Ahaziah (king of Judah) – 2 Kings 9:14-29.
When King Ahaziah was killed, one of his sons should have become King of Judah. Instead, Ahaziah’s mother decided that she should be queen. She tried to kill all of her own children and grandchildren so that they would not take the thrown away from her. She almost succeeded in killing them all.
You might remember how God had promised King David, years before that his descendant (later revealed as Jesus Christ) would someday save the world. Athaliah’s husband, Jehoram, was a descendant of King David. If Athaliah would have succeeded in her plan to kill all of her husband’s descendants then she would have killed all of King David’s descendants and made the Lord’s promise impossible to fulfil.
At this point we read about Joash and the two distinct parts of his story. The early life of Joash is one of victory and devotion to God. The last part of his life is sad and a life away from God.
The Early Life of King Joash:
One of the daughters of King Jehoram (Jehosheba) saw that her baby nephew, Joash was going to be killed along with the other princes. Jehosheba saved the baby and hid him in the temple where her husband served as a priest (2 Chronicles 22:11). Little Joash was the only member of the royal family who was not killed.
Jehoiada knew that Joash must eventually be crowned king because he was the very last of the Davidic seed line. He waited patiently and continued to instruct Joash about the Lord and about being a king. When Joash was seven years old, Jehoiada knew the time was right. The old armour that used to belong to King David was still stored in the temple. Jehoiada gave the old armour to army guards and told them to carefully guard the new boy king. He then crowned Joash in front of all of the people and presented him with a copy of the covenant (2 Kings 11:12).
The people of Judah were thrilled to see the proper ruler finally wear the throne. They had not liked Athaliah – from the palace of Israel – usurping the throne. She was put to death. Jehoiada renewed the people’s dedication to God and the temple of Baal was destroyed. The palace was then given back to Joash and he sat on his rightful throne (2 Kings 11:17-21).
Joash was king for forty years. One of his major accomplishments was to repair the temple. This was the temple Solomon had built more than a hundred years before. While Queen Athaliah ruled, the temple was not only neglected but also damaged. Its treasures had been stolen and then used in the worship of Baal (2 Chronicles 24:7). The priests and Levites had not been fulfilling their duties in taking care of the temple. The king organised them and ordered a collection to be taken up to repair the temple.
The Later Life of King Joash:
Sadly, the life of Joash took a turn at the end. Read about this in 2 Kings 12:19-21 and 2 Chronicles 24:17-27. When Jehoida (the priest who had been like a father to him) died Joash began to take bad advice from his officials and began to allow idol worship in the kindom once again. Jehoida’s son, Zechariah, prophesied against this but the officials plotted against him and stoned him. King Joash allowed this to happen. After this the small Aramean army invaded Judah and plundered it. King Joash, the one who had once led his people back to God now led them to destruction. He was murdered in his bed by his servants and was not even buried in the place where kings were buried. Ironically and in contrast, Jehoida (a priest and not a king) had received the honour of being buried where the kings were buried (2 Chronicles 24:15-16).
- What happened before this story?
- What happens after this story?
- List of all Bible stories and themes on this website.
Way to Introduce the Story:
For younger children, hide a small baby-doll before class begins today. Let the children find the doll. For older children you might try the following game: Blindfold the “searcher.” When the searcher cannot see, appoint a “baby.” When you say “Where’s the baby?” all of the children should mill around the room making animal sounds. Only the “baby” will make baby sounds (coo, cry, etc.) When you say “Find the baby!” everyone should freeze in place and be silent. The “searcher” takes off the blindfold and tries to guess which child is the baby. Play a few rounds of this and then talk about the noises that a baby makes and how difficult it would be to hide a baby. “In today’s story, we are going to learn about a time when a kind woman hid a baby to save his life!”
Ahaziah became the king of Judah. He was a very bad king. He did not love God and he did not try to obey God’s laws. One of the reasons that King Ahaziah was so bad was because his mother, Queen Athaliah, had taught him to be bad when he was a little boy. Whenever Ahaziah did bad things, his mother used to say things like, “Good boy, Ahaziah, I like it when you do bad and mean things. Try to do some more bad things!”
After Ahaziah had been king for only one year, he was killed. Everyone thought that one of King Ahaziah’s sons would become king next. That is what was supposed to happen when a king died.
Instead, the king’s mother, Athaliah wanted to rule over the country of Judah. She did not want any of her grandsons to become kings. Athaliah was so bad that she ordered all of Athaliah’s children to be killed so that she could be the Queen of Judah.
One of the king’s sons was named Joash. Prince Joash was just a little baby. When Prince Joash’s aunt, Jehosheba, found out that Athaliah wanted to kill the king’s sons she quickly took Prince Joash away and hid him so that the Queen could not find him. Jehosheba took the prince to the Temple of the Lord where her husband was a priest. They kept the baby there for seven years. Prince Joash was safe in the temple.
For seven years Queen Athaliah ruled Judah. She was a very bad and mean queen. She worshipped idols and tried to get everyone else to worship idols too. Queen Athaliah’s sons took some of the special furniture out of the Temple of the Lord and used it to worship idols. The people of Judah did not like Athaliah. They wished that she were not the Queen.
Meanwhile, Joash was growing. He was not a baby any longer. Joash was a good little boy and he tried to obey God. The High Priest in the temple taught Joash all about God. The High Priest knew that Athaliah should not be the ruler over Judah – Joash should! The priest wanted Judah to have a good king. He wanted Joash to be king some day. He taught Joash all the things that he would need to know when he became king.
When Joash was only seven years old the time came for him to become king. The High Priest waited until Queen Athaliah was not around. Then he gathered the people together and anointed Joash and put a crown on his head. He gave Joash a book with all of God’s laws written in it.
When the people saw that Joash was now the king, they were very happy. They began shouting, “Long live the king! Long live the king!”
There was so much cheering that Queen Athaliah heard it. She ran to see what had happened. Queen Athaliah started yelling “Treason! Treason!” but the people ignored her. They knew that Joash was the true ruler of Israel. Queen Athaliah was put to death so that she could never try to hurt the young King Joash again.
When King Joash grew up he was a very good king. He always tried to obey the Lord. He was good to the people and he ruled for forty years. One very important thing that King Joash did was to repair the Temple of the Lord. The temple was dirty and broken down. King Joash ordered that the priests collect money and that workers were hired to fix the temple back up.
Joash was a good king for most of his life. But, sadly, the story of King Joash does not have a happy ending. He was not always careful to obey God.
The High Priest, Jehoida, had always given Joash good advice and encouraged him to follow God’s commands. When Jehoida died, King Joash began to take bad advice from his officials. The people had followed King Joash when he was good but now they began to follow him when he was bad. They began to worship idols again. At the end of his life this once-great-king was killed by his own servants.
Ways to Tell the Story:
This story can be told using a variety of methods. Always remain true to the facts found in the Bible but help children connect to its meaning by using drama, visual aids, voice inflection, student interaction and/or emotion.
Click here for visual aids and story-telling methods.
- What did Queen Athaliah teach her son when he was a little boy? To be bad
- When her son died, what did Athaliah do? She made herself Queen
- Why did Queen Athaliah try to kill her own grandchildren? So they would not try to become kings or queens instead of her.
- What was the name of the one baby boy who lived? Joash
- Where did Joash’s aunt hide him? In the temple
- How old was Joash when he became king? Seven years old
- What did King Joash do to the temple of the Lord? Repaired and restored it
Learning Activities and Crafts:
- Arrange to help repair or clean something in the church building like Joash had the temple repaired.
- List the duties of a king and discuss how hard they would be for a seven-year-old boy.
- Make any crown craft.
- Hide a doll and let the children find it.
- Play like you are a baby (suck thumb, hold blanket and bottle, etc.) and tell the story from Joash’s point of view.
- Check the Teaching Ideas page on this website for ideas that are adaptable to any lesson.
- Find other ideas on the Pinterest Board: “Divided Kingdom“
Other Online Resources:
- Colouring page and puzzle worksheets at http://calvarycurriculum.org/
- Craft: Curly paper crown at http://www.freekidscrafts.com/
- Craft: Instructions for a simple paper crown at http://www.dltk-kids.com/
- Craft: Video instructions (1 minute and 44 seconds) to make a very basic crown out of paper at http://youtu.be/Pz1IwZ1qmlU