By Esther

I grab onto the cold walls of the palace as another dizzy spell takes over. Catching my balance and leaning my head against the hard surface, my body trembles and a wave of nausea and shaking overwhelms me. The cut from a blow to the back of my head seems to have stopped bleeding for now.

I want to hurry, to save them all – do something. But my body won’t respond and I know my efforts would be pointless. It’s too late. The nightmare has already descended upon us and I can feel evil swirling in every corner of the palace. The eerie silence, momentary after the horrors of the morning, envelopes me like fog.

I slump to the marble tiles again. All of the children – gone! Carnage. They’ll no longer fill the hallways with the their laughter and the sound of their running feet. Their chubby little arms will no longer circle my waist. Their fragrant warmth after bath time will no longer fill my heart with love.

Images of when I first arrived at the palace swirl through my mind. I was petrified, naïve – missing my mum and the comfort of my own family. Impressive marble floors. Soaring pillars. Gold ornaments shimmering in the sunlight.

Then I’d seen her. A beautiful, bejewelled creature with full crimson lips and thick black kohl outlining her eyes. Instinctively, I’d shrunk back, my stomach flipping over with fear. I knew, even at such a young age, that there was something sinister about her.

In time, I discovered that Queen Athaliah was truly a woman nobody messed with.  She didn’t tolerate nonsense – and solved every problem with the executioner’s axe. 

Every morning, when I woke early to pray, she was already singing and burning incense to Baal in the garden. She came alive as she worshiped this god. But she was wicked – just as her parents, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel had been. Iniquity flowed through the veins of her family, like blood.

Now I’m defeated. Powerless. How can I, a mere slave, stop this murderous woman?

My heart freezes. I hear running. A shout. A shrill cry. Silence.

My empty stomach heaves pure bile onto the tiles beside me and I lean for a moment on both arms, then lift a shaky hand to wipe the vomit, tears and snot from my face. Another heir to the throne – gone in this awful royal purge.

An agonised wail threatens to rush from my body. No one can stop this power-hungry woman. No one can stand in her way.

After Athaliah’s husband had died, her son Ahaziah became king. She had the real power while he was still young, and revelled in it. She taught him many things she’d learned from her father Ahab, and I’d heard them plotting and laughing together. An iron woman, no one and nothing else moved her but her son. When he suddenly died she shed not a tear, but a strange resolve seemed to overtake her.

A thought suddenly hits me: maybe there’s still one? I get to my feet, lean into the pillar for a moment and orientate myself, then make for the north wing. Baby Joash’s nursery is in a different part of the palace to the other children. Maybe him? Speed! I must get there!

Through my tears I see the staircase. A few deep gulps of air steadies my heartbeat and I start my ascent.

How power can send a person over the edge! According to tradition, the queen should pass on her power to her grandsons, but she is slaughtering them – her own flesh and blood! Every male in her way, dead.

Maybe there’s this one left? Beautiful baby Joash.

I have to save him! Lifting the long skirt of my dress, I run. Never have these stairs felt so eternal. Finally at the top, I pause and hear a faint rustling in the apartment along the hall. No!!

A hooded figure runs in the opposite direction, and I hear the soft gurgle of a baby.

They have him! My heart convulses. I can’t breathe. Seconds too late. Now he will die like all of the others!

A furious stomping comes from behind me, and soldiers push me out of the way before bursting into Joash’s nursery. What are they looking for? Hasn’t the queen just taken the baby?

“He’s gone!” They shout obscenities and run back out.

As the realisation hits me, my blood starts to flow again. Renewed hope surges through my body. The baby is alive! But who was that hooded person? Who’d be brave enough to defy the queen?


The story of Queen Athaliah is fascinating. You can read about her parents, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, in 1 Kings 16:29-34. This will tell you a lot about her heritage of evil and hate!

Keep reading to 2 kings 11, to get to the end of this murderous family saga. Queen Athaliah did great evil in the sight of God.

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