2 Chronicles 22 - Athaliah - Solomon's Temple

Athaliah's murder in 2 Chronicles 22 - 23 outside of Solomon's temple and the Levitical musicians is not an approved example for Christian worship.

A legalistic approach to the instrumental music in worship issue is to say that

  • God commanded instrumental music in worship as the law;
  • the people practiced instrumental music in worship;
  • Christ did not outlaw instrumental music in worship;
  • therefore, instruments are still legal.

Those who use legalistic music are totally convinced that every mention of an instrument under the Monarchy is a "proof-text" for the same practice in the spiritual worship under Christ. And I keep requesting:

"I would love to have one passage which shows that the "congregation" of the people worshiped with instruments.


Michael responded: "Wait no longer"

To keep the articles short I will look at one example at a time. One example is:

2 Chronicles 23:13 "She looked, and there was the king, standing by his pillar at the entrance.

The officers and the trumpeters were beside the king, and all the people of the land were rejoicing and blowing trumpets,
and singers with musical instruments were leading the praises."

Sounds pretty convincing as legalistic proof-text for "the congregation worshiping with instruments." That is, until "the brain kicks in" and you define the context, the congregation and the nature of the "praise." The majority context of musical instruments by the Levites is in connection with the horrendious slaughter at the temple to show people the horror of their own guilt. Now, we have the Levites sounding the censure as Athaliah is murdered. Not a good "legalistic proof text" for congregational worship.

This is the story of Athaliah who would murder even her grandchildren to usurp rulership of Judah. However, Joash (22:11) had been spared against her will. The expression "congregation" or "all the people" is most often defined earlier in the passage. It would never be hundreds of thousands of people but would be limited by the definition:

But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah. 2 Chronicles 22:10

But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the kings sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not. 2 Chronicles 22:11

And he was with them hid in the house of God six years: and Athaliah reigned over the land. 2 Chronicles 22:12

"All the people" is then defined:

AND in the seventh year Jehoiada strengthened himself, and took the captains of hundreds, Azariah the son of Jeroham, and Ishmael the son of Jehohanan, and Azariah the son of Obed, and Maaseiah the son of Adaiah, and Elishaphat the son of Zichri, into covenant with him 2 Chronicles 23: 1 .

And they went about in Judah, and gathered the Levites out of all the cities of Judah, and the chief of the fathers of Israel, and they came to Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 23: 2

And all the congregation made a covenant with the king in the house of God. And he said unto them, Behold, the kings son shall reign, as the Lord hath said of the sons of David. 2 Chronicles 23: 3

So to this point the "congregation" did not consist of people in general but the Levites who were the warriors because they their "praise" is leading to murder. A battle plan was established and:

But let none come into the house of the Lord, save the priests, and they that minister of the Levites; they shall go in, for they are holy:

but all the people shall keep the watch of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 23: 6

And the Levites shall compass the king round about, every man with his weapons in his hand; and
whosoever else cometh into the house, he shall be put to death: but be ye with the king when he cometh in, and when he goeth out. 2 Chronicles 23: 7

Paul speaks of us finding Christ "outside the camp" which was away from the Tabernacle guarded by the Levites against the common people. It is also "outside the gates" of early and later Jerusalem.

Image From

All Judah, every man or all the people were not every Israelite, but were the Levites who had the weapons in their hands. From the above illustration you can see that not many people could get inside and none but the clergy would be at #3 or the altar. By space limitation the common people would be "outside the gates" which is considered to be "outside the camp" in the Tabernacle era. The Levites in fact were ordained in the first place to stand like flaming cherubim to keep the common people away from the tabernacle:

So the Levites and all Judah did according to all things that Jehoiada the priest had commanded, and took every man his men that were to come in on the sabbath, with them that were to go out on the sabbath: for Jehoiada the priest dismissed not the courses. 2 Chronicles 23:8

And he set all the people, every man having his weapon in his hand, from the right side of the temple to the left side of the temple, along by the altar and the temple, by the king round about. 2 Chronicles 23:10

Then they brought out the kings son, and put upon him the crown, and gave him the testimony, and made him king. And Jehoiada and his sons anointed him, and said, God save the king. 2 Chronicles 23:11

They crowned Joash and as king he could be in the temple. Athaliah presuming to be queen went into the house and the musical sound she heard was, like most civil temple states, praising the king. Those not of the clergy or princely class would have been outside the gates or outside the restricted house. Surely we do not want to make "running" into an act of Christian worship:

Outside: Now when Athaliah heard the noise of the people running and praising the king,

Inside: she came to the people into the house of the Lord: 2 Chronicles 23:12

And she looked, and, behold, the king stood at his pillar at the entering in, and the princes and the trumpets by the king:

and all the people of the land rejoiced, and sounded with trumpets,
also the
singers with instruments of musick, and such as taught to sing praise.

        Then Athaliah rent her clothes, and said,
Treason, Treason. 2 Chronicles 23:13

If the people "outside" were also sounding with trumpets this would have been legal as a way to gather all of the people together as a signal:

But when the congregation is to be gathered together, ye shall blow (sound), but ye shall not sound an alarm. Nu.10:7

However, sounding an alarm would not have been lawful unless it was to panic the enemy in warfare or to sound the censure of the enemy. This alarm or triumph over is from the Hebrew:

Ruwa (h7321) roo-ah'; a prim. root; to mar (espec. by breaking); fig. to split the ears (with sound), i. e. shout (for alarm or joy): - blow an alarm, cry (alarm, aloud, out), destroy, make a joyful noise, smart, shout (for joy), sound an alarm, triumph.

Therefore, none of the evidence supports the idea of a "worship service" for or by the people. As proof, Jehoida set up an obstacle course outside of the restricted house:

Then Jehoiada the priest brought out the captains of hundreds that were set over the host, and said unto them, Have her forth of the ranks: and whoso followeth her, let him be slain with the sword. For the priest said, Slay her not in the house of the Lord. 2 Chronicles 22:14

So they laid hands on her; and when she was come to the entering of the horse gate by the kings house, they slew her there. 2 Chronicles 23: 15

Then Jehoida set the temple organization in order. Remember that the Monarchy government was a change from that of the Law of Moses. There could be no "like the nations" worship without making changes to the "as written in the Law of Moses." See what David Changed

Also Jehoiada appointed the offices of the house of the Lord by the hand of the priests the Levites,
David had distributed in the house of the Lord,

The Law: to offer the burnt offerings of the Lord, as it is written in the law of Moses,

Consistent with all of the examples (with 1 Chron 29:25 not being totally clear) the rejoicing and singing was ordained by David:

Added by David: with rejoicing and with singing, as it was ordained by David. 2 Chronicles 23: 18

Nothing can be ordained by God which is ordained by a human like David. If God had ordained instruments we would find the law in the book of the law which could not be altered "either to the left or to the right."

The LIV reads:

Jehoiada now appointed the Levite priests as guards, and to

The Law: sacrifice the burnt offering to the Lord as prescribed in the law of Moses.

Added by David: He made the identical assignments of the Levite clans that King David had.

They sang with joy as they worked. 2 Chronicles 23:18LIV

The Levites were ordained to lighten the load of the priests and not to be "musical worship ministers." The music was around the altar and praising the Lord helped hide the unspeakable horror of sin made visible by animal sacrifices.

This was never congregational worship. Rather, like all of the temple animal sacrifices, the priests and Levites made the offering while the common people were always outside of the gates. The Levites had been the warrior musicians until the victories had been won. Then, they were ministers of the king and commanders of the army for the civil state.

In this event we have a "purification" ritual where God passed judgment upon the usurping queen as a prelude to putting her to death "to the beat of the instruments." (Isaiah 30)

Kenneth Sublett

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