Bringing Jezebel’s Shadow to Light
“When Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she proceeded to destroy the whole royal family. But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Jehoram and sister of Ahaziah, took Joash son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the royal princes, who were about to be murdered. She put him and his nurse in a bedroom to hide him from Athaliah; so he was not killed. He remained hidden with his nurse at the temple of the LORD for six years while Athaliah ruled the land.”
2 Kings 11:1-3
Morbid But Interesting
THAT was the Scripture that made me scratch my head and think about writing another book. So many questions needed answers.
- How did Queen Athaliah achieve the authority to order Judean soldiers to execute the ENTIRE royal household?
- How could Judah—a nation that viewed women only marginally above livestock—allow a Queen to rule them for six years without any consequence for her mass executions?
- Why was Jehosheba the only one of Ahaziah’s siblings to escape, and what made her successful when all others from the royal household failed?
Answers Were In the Shadow
Have you ever seen a solar eclipse? I hope not. I’ve worked in a couple of Optometrists’ offices, and we always dreaded the days of a solar eclipse because someone would inevitably look directly at the sun and burn his/her retina. Bad idea. To see an eclipse, you must practice “averted vision”—looking aside to glimpse the target with your peripheral vision. You must look at the shadows to fully appreciate the image…
I found the same to be true with this story. When I looked directly at the main characters, none of it made sense. How could a nobody-queen, marry a nobody-king, and bully an entire nation? The answers were in the people and events surrounding the main characters. When I began researching genealogies and historical events leading up to these horrendous executions—that’s when…as they say…the plot thickened!
A Dark Family Shadow
Athaliah didn’t wake up one day and decide to kill her grandbabies. Queen Athaliah was Jezebel’s daughter (2 Chron. 22:2)—every maniacal, evil, power-hungry, pagan inclination of her heart. And Jezebel was the daughter of Eth-Baal (1 Kings 16:31), a Phoenician king and priest of Baal-Melkart who would make your stomach roll. Athaliah brought all that with her when she married Jehoram, son of faithful King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Their marriage sealed a peace treaty and trade agreement between Israel and Judah—and shrouded Judah in Jezebel’s shadowy influence for two generations.
Yahweh’s Temple stood faithful in Judah’s capital city, Jerusalem; and the high priest, Jehoiada, married King Jehoram’s daughter, Jehosheba (born to him through a wife other than Athaliah). Just as the marriage of Athaliah and Jehoram became Judah’s downfall, the marriage between Princess Jehosheba and the high priest of Yahweh’s Temple became Judah’s salvation. The high priest, Jehoiada, helped his wife hide King David’s only living heir for six years before the boy took his rightful place on Judah’s throne.
How dark must those six years have been—a pagan queen ruling Yahweh’s people?
Lessons From the Shadows
I always learn so much during the research and writing process of a new book—not just history and facts, but spiritual challenges that stretch me in unexpected ways. Writing In the Shadow of Jezebel was tough. The main character, Jehosheba, struggles to heal after a lifetime of emotional abuse from a mentally ill mother. Jehoiada, our hero, realizes that even those who lead “good lives” sometimes have some serious sin issues to deal with. Secondary characters, like the prophet Obadiah, share nuggets of wisdom that pierce the heart; and some of those we want so badly to become faithful followers—simply refuse to let Yahweh rule their hearts.
As is so often the case, I lived out many of these circumstances as I wrote this manuscript—just like many of you share similar experiences as you read the books. My dad passed away while I wrote the section about Princess Jehosheba saying her final good-bye to her abba, King Jehoram. Our daughters struggled with nursing a newborn during the time I researched details of a royal wet nurse. Isn’t it fascinating how the Lord seems to bring to life the lessons He wants us to learn? And so often they coordinate with Bible reading, sermons, leisure reading, and Bible study—all pointing to a single lesson during a single week. I love that…
Eight Months ‘Til Launch
In the Shadow of Jezebel will release on March 1, 2014. It seems like forever, doesn’t it? I hope to have a few fun surprises for you during the wait. A new book trailer? Announcement of future projects? Who knows what God has planned?
- Wanna know which Scripture piqued my curiosity enough to write another book?
- How can AVERTED VISION help you see a Scripture passage more clearly?
- How did a nobody-queen, married to a nobody-king, bully an entire nation?
- What questions do you have about Queen Athaliah and her rampage of terror?