“Jehosheba […] took Jehoash […] and stole him away from among the sons of the king who were to be put to death, keeping him and his nurse in an inner bedroom. They managed to keep him concealed from Athaliah, so he was not put to death.”
~2 Kings 11:2
Who was Athaliah, and why was she trying to put baby Jehoash to death?
I have facilitated my own understanding of this passage by drawing out this simple family tree of royal lines in Judah and Northern Israel at that time.
She married into Judah’s royal line but did not change her family’s ways (1 Ki. 21:25; 2 Ki. 8:16,18).
When her son, King Ahaziah died, she put all her grandchildren to death, taking over the kingdom of Judah (2 Ki. 11:1).
However, she was unable to put one child to death: Jehoash, who was stolen by his aunt Jehosheba.
Jehosheba was a true worshipper of Jehovah God and she did not fear standing up to the evil Queen Athaliah, even at the risk of her own life.
She and her husband, High Priest Jehoiada, hid the baby prince Jehoash for six years (2 Ki. 11:3).
Then the high priest proclaimed him king (2 Ki. 11:12).
Consequently, evil Queen Athaliah was executed (2 Ki. 11:16).
What I find most encouraging about this passage is the valor and selflessness with which Jehosheba protected her nephew, undeterred by half her family’s bloody history or bad example.
She is a model for those women living in difficult family circumstances in which their faith in Jehovah is tested on a daily basis.