Forty women: 35. Jehosheba
The history of Athaliah made for pretty grim reading, but tied up in those same events was another woman. A very different woman. While Athaliah was busily murdering all of her grandchildren that she could lay her hands on, Jehosheba was quietly saving the life of one of them.
Jehosheba was the daughter of a king, and the sister of a king, which makes her the aunt to Athaliah’s grandchildren. She clearly knew what sort of woman her mother (or possibly stepmother) was and when she saw what was happening she acted, fast:
“But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. And he remained with her for six years, hidden in the house of the Lord, while Athaliah reigned over the land.” (2 Kings 11:2-3)
The child was a year old. He was not, of course, the first baby boy who needed to be hidden in order to save his life, and nor would he be the last. But he was the one (in the Bible) who was hidden for the longest. He couldn’t stay in the palace for that long and expect to escape his grandmother’s notice. So Jehosheba arranges for him to be smuggled out to the one place even Athaliah could not go: to the temple.
Jehosheba, unlike the women who saved Moses’s life, knows that she is doing more than protecting a baby. She knows that Athaliah is not the rightful ruler of the kingdom of Judah. She knows that God has made promises to David’s descendants which should pass to her nephew. She knows that Jehoash is God’s anointed king. And so, even though she can’t save all the children, she saves the one who God will use to save his people.
Jehoash isn’t absolutely the best king that Judah ever has, but he’s better than most, and infinitely better than Athaliah. At seven years old, he takes the throne, and under the guidance of the high priest who has hidden and protected him since he was a baby, ‘he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.’ (2 Kings 12:2).
One day, another woman would hide a baby from a murderous ruler. And that baby would also be God’s anointed king. That woman would not be able to save all the children from death either, but she too would save the one whom God would use to save his people. And he too would do what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
Thank God for women like that.