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Our Young Folk's Josephus by  William Shepard
Table of Contents




WHEN Athaliah heard of the death of her brother Jehoram and of her son Ahaziah and of all the royal family of Ahab, she determined that she would put an end to the family of David also, though among them were her own grandchildren, the sons and daughters of Ahaziah. But in spite of her cruel resolution one of the sons of Ahaziah, named Jehoash, was preserved, in the following manner. Athaliah had a sister, named Jehosheba, who was married to the high-priest Jehoiada. She came into the royal palace after the slaughter of Ahaziah's [211] kindred, and found Jehoash, who was only a year old, alive among the slain, and she took him with her and hid him, and she and her husband brought him up secretly.

Athaliah made herself queen of Judah, and ruled for six years. At the end of that time Jehoiada showed the boy whom he had brought up to the priests and Levites, and they decided to make him king. There were in the temple a number of spears and shields that had belonged to King David, and these the priests distributed among the Levites. On the appointed day the Levites came to the temple, and kept guard over it, to see that no armed men were allowed to enter. Jehoiada brought the child Jehoash out of the chamber in which he had been hidden, and told the people who he was, and anointed him king, and placed the crown upon his head. And all the people shouted with joy, for they were tired of the tyranny of Athaliah.

Athaliah heard the shouts, and came in alarm to the temple with her guards. The Levites allowed her to pass in, but they excluded her guards. When she saw the child standing with the crown upon his head, she rent her garments and cried out to the people to kill him, but Jehoiada caused her to be seized and taken out of the temple and slain.

Then Jehoiada made the people swear to be loyal to Jehoash, and take care of his safety and of that of his government. And Jehoash swore that he would observe the laws of Moses. The people then ran to the temple of Baal, which Athaliah had built, and demolished it, and slew the priests of Baal. Afterwards Jehoiada took Jehoash out of the temple into the royal palace, and when he had set him on the throne the people shouted for joy and feasted for many days.

Jehoash was seven years old when he took the kingdom. During his youth, and all the time that Jehoiada lived, he was careful to observe the commandments and was zealous in the worship of God. Being anxious to repair and rebuild the temple of God, which had been brought to decay by Jehoram [212] and Athaliah and their sons, he took a wooden chest and made a hole in the lid, and set it up in the temple beside the altar. He desired the people to cast into the box through the hole whatever they wished to give towards the repair of the temple. So they strove with one another to see which would give the most, and large quantities of silver and gold were every day put into the box. Every day the priests counted over the money that had been given in the presence of the king, and it was turned into the treasury and the box was replaced. When a large sum had been collected in this way, the king and Jehoiada the high-priest set carpenters and masons to work, and they restored the temple to its former condition. As long as Jehoiada lived, the altar was every day heaped up with sacrifices.

But when Jehoiada died, the king fell away from God and neglected His worship. The people also went back to their idols. Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, stood up in the temple and denounced the king and the people for their wickedness, and prophesied that God would punish them. The Jehoash was angry, and ordered that Zechariah should be stoned to death where he stood, and the people obeyed him.

It was not long before God avenged the death of His priest. For Hazael, king of Syria, made an expedition against the country, and overthrew many of the cities, and would have taken Jerusalem but that Jehoash sent him all his treasures and all the treasures that were in the temple, and so bought him off. Afterwards Jehoash fell into a dangerous illness, and was killed in his bed by the friends of Zechariah.

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