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Athaliah was the queen of Judah. At times it is simply astounding how pervasive the effects of one person’s sin can be. From the alcoholic to the busybody to the self-indulgent, one person’s sin can affect not only those around that person but also those who come after him or her.

Athaliah is a sad demonstration of the pervasiveness of her father, Ahab’s, sin. Most Bible readers are already familiar with the wicked deeds of King Ahab of Israel (including his clashes with the prophet Elijah), but few realize that his sin continued even in the life of his daughter Athaliah.

Athaliah married Jehoram, the oldest son of the godly king Jehoshaphat of Judah, and soon her wicked influence became visible. Jehoram “did evil in the eyes of the LORD,” and the same was said of Ahaziah, the son born to him and Athaliah (2 Kings 8:18, 27).

After Ahaziah was killed by
Jehu (2 Kings 9:27), Athaliah saw her chance to seize the throne—and she attempted to kill off all the royal family of Judah. Only young Joash escaped as his aunt stole him away and hid him with a nurse in the temple for six years.

After six years of Athaliah’s rule over Judah, a priest named Jehoiada staged a rebellion and brought out Joash to anoint him as king. Athaliah was killed, and the wicked influence of Ahab finally came to an end. The pervasive sin of Athaliah stands as a strong reminder to watch our own lives carefully for unchecked sinful attitudes or behaviors.

Athaliah’s wickedness (and that of her father, Ahab) extended even into the temple of the Lord, for at some point her sons “had broken into the temple of God and had used even its sacred objects for the Baals” (2 Chronicles 24:7).