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Jehosheba: The Princess Hero

Who was Jehosheba Princess Hero Image

When we think of brave women of the Bible, Deborah and Esther come straight to mind, but have you ever heard of Jehosheba? Honestly, until yesterday, I had not. The story of this princess hero appears in only two Bible verses and she is easily overshadowed by the weight of the other protagonists in that chapter. It also doesn’t help that her name is spelled two different ways, Jehosheba and Jehoshabeath (II Kings 11:2 and II Chronicles 22:11, respectively).

As many times as I have read through this section of scripture, I clearly missed this very important nugget of information. Her bravery, which I believe was based on an unshakable faith, preserved David’s “seed.” God put the right person, in the right place, at the right time and assured the eventual fulfillment of his prophecy to King David that the Messiah, the King of kings, would stem from his royal line. (For a more  detailed explanation on the Davidic Covenant and its importance, click here.) So who was Jehosheba?

Jehosheba’s Story (in my own words)

Biblical References: 2 Kings 11 and 2 Chronicles 22.

Based on what I learned from the scriptures, I imagine that Jehosheba’s story went something like this:

It is 841 BC in the city of Jerusalem, the capitol of the southern kingdom of Judah. Word arrives to the palace that Jehosheba’s half-brother and the king of Judah, Ahaziah, has just been killed. King Ahaziah had taken a trip to the northern kingdom of Israel. He embroiled himself in a chariot’s captain’s coup against a wicked royal family and got himself killed.

Back in Jerusalem, the Princess Jehosheba sees soldiers storming the royal palace, rushing from room to room, killing Ahaziah’s sons. She learns from one of the servants that her evil step-mother Athaliah is cementing her rule in a bold power grab now that her son, the king, is dead. She has ordered the execution of anyone that may have a claim to the throne even if it means killing her own grandchildren. Jehosheba is not surprised by the length that Athaliah will go to achieve her purposes. After all, she is the daughter of the evil king Ahab and the wicked Jezebel. Her son Ahaziah, might have been the only person Athaliah loved, and without him, she is determined to destroy anyone and anything that challenges her throne.

Jehosheba is instantly gripped by fear at the carnage before her. But fear turns to sadness at the realization that she is about to lose all of her nephews, ending the royal line of the mighty King David. “God help them,” she whispers through sobs and tears. In a brief moment of clarity, she remembers that the infant Joash’s room is at the opposite end of the palace from where they are conducting the searches. The screams that are echoing through the halls almost paralyze her, but time is of the essence. With razor sharp focus she rushes to the young prince’s room hoping to beat the soldiers there. She tries desperately not to think about what would happen if Athaliah found out of her betrayal.

Jehosheba is greatly relieved to find the baby soundly sleeping in the arms of his frightened nurse. “Praise God,” she says quietly and ushers the nurse to follow her. Jehosheba checks to make sure the coast is clear and leads both to a bedroom out of the soldiers path. Unable to find the missing child, the soldiers who are following orders but not loyal to Athaliah, report to her that all the princes have been killed. While Athaliah is reveling in her victory, Jehosheba instructs the nurse to keep the baby quiet and leaves them temporarily.

She needs to find the best way to escape and get to God’s temple, the least likely place the Baal worshiper Athaliah will ever visit. After determining a clear path of safety, Jehosheba finds a trusted servant to relay a message to her husband. “I was unusually detained, but I will meet you this evening at the House of the Lord.” She returns to her nephew and his nurse with food and water.  After waiting for the cover of night, all three sneak out of the palace grounds and head towards the temple.

The Levite Priest Jehoaida is comforted at the news that his wife is alive despite the horrors that occurred in the palace grounds. He anxiously awaits for the arrival of his beloved. At last, he sees two shadows approaching the temple grounds. He rushes out to meet them and is stopped in his tracks when he sees that Jehosheba is holding an infant child.

“Who is this?” he says.

“It is Joash, King Ahaziah’s only remaining son and heir to the throne. With God’s help, I managed to save him before he too was murdered.”

“Oh what a great wife that the Lord has blessed me with!” he exclaims. “Many generations will know what you have done this day!”

Jehoaida and Jehosheba would hide the child for six more years until Athaliah was forcefully overthrown and the young child was able to ascend to his throne.

Doing the Work of A Theologian Helped Uncover Jehosheba

Obviously, since her account appears in only three scriptures, the story I relay here is mostly a product of my wild imagination. But the real story was probably worse and more horrific. Athaliah was an evil woman, the daughter of evil parents, and a woman who had influenced her son Ahaziah to do evil things. I learned these things because I was able to take the time to unpack the story.

The Bible is full of little nuggets of information that can go right over our heads if we don’t take the time to meditate on them and dig a little deeper. Many times I get lazy and just keep on reading when I don’t understand something. This time however, I finally stopped and did dig a little deeper. The result was that I was able to get a full appreciation of the extent of this woman’s accomplishment.

I began my research because I felt confused by so many names being thrown at me in that chapter of II Chronicles. So I set out to put together a family tree. As I researched each name and each familial connection, a much clearer picture emerged on what exactly was happening and why it was so significant. I mention this only to encourage you that at least every once in a while, don’t be afraid to roll up your sleeves and do the hard work of a theologian. It is so worth it.

That the best princesses are those that honor and love God. Click To Tweet

Lessons Learned from Jehosheba

I have learned so much from studying this account, but as I look at this brave woman, this princess hero, I also know that it will be a great lesson for my two daughters. So what exactly do I want them to take away from Jehosheba’s story?

–That she was willing to do what was right regardless of the potential consequences to herself.

–That she was a light in a dark place because she held true to God’s laws when much of Judah at the time had strayed away.

–That God also used women to accomplish very heroic tasks.

–That you have to be ready at any moment’s notice to accomplish God’s work.

–That you should not be afraid to be a woman that girds up her loins.

–That even in the darkest of times, God is still working and moving.

–That the best princesses are those that honor and love God.

A great lesson from the biblical account of Jehosheba is that God also used women to accomplish very heroic tasks. Click To Tweet

Other articles that may interest you:

Women, Gird Up Your Loins

When Jesus Broke Racial Barriers: The Woman at the Well

Author’s note: In my story, I claim that Athaliah was Jehosheba’s stepmother. It is very possible since kings during this time period had multiple wives and concubines. However, the scripture is not abundantly clear on the matter so Athaliah could have potentially been her mother.

I am interested in your thoughts and comments! Please share your insights or your own lessons learned from this account below.

20 Comments

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  3. JesuslovesMelodiehotmess

    You are such a great story teller that allows me to understand the Bible better!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thanks Mel! When I wrote this article, I had my daughters in mind. I wanted them to be able to understand and I thought retelling of the account in story format would do just that. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Reply
      1. JesuslovesMelodiehotmess

        I loved it – so great job!

        Reply
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  5. Melinda Viergever Inman

    This is one of the most chilling stories in the Bible. It gives me the willies every time I examine it. What kind of grandmother kills her own grandchildren – the offspring of her own son? It’s a horror story. The pagan legacy of Jezebel eventually destroyed Judah as it had Israel. Then off they went into captivity. Jezebel brought her evil practices from her Phoenician upbringing, and they poisoned the Jew’s worship of Yahweh with pagan practices, even child sacrifice. Men, be careful when choosing a wife. What kind of woman do you want mothering or grandmothering your own offspring? Women, be prepared for bravery when you encounter this type of evil. Seek to be godly women who advance God’s kingdom in your own homes and abroad. Be one who will stand against evil like Jochabeath.

    Reply
  6. Beth Bingaman

    There are so many of these strong and courageous women in God’s word! You did a great job telling the story and drove me to read about girding up loins. Thanks for some insight I can apply.

    Reply
  7. tonysimms857tony

    Frightening times and sadly a scene played out in many places in the world to day, where mothers, sisters , friends and professionals seek to save children singled out for slaughter. Well told.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Yes, we tend to forget that this is still the reality for many people in the world today.

      Reply
  8. Brianna Martin

    Luisa, I love thinking about the stories of those in the Bible that we don’t hear much about! Jehosheba and Jehoida are some incredible people, and I love the story of Joash! Thank you for sharing this story and your insights. I love how the quieter people in the Bible come alive with a little bit of research.

    Reply
  9. Carly

    I love the stories of strong wo.en in the bible. Great account!

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thanks Carly!

      Reply
  10. Wendy Wallace

    Your account of this story was riveting. I’m ready to go to my Bible and review the exact source. Thank you for sharing.

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Wendy!

      Reply
  11. Edna Davidsen

    Dear Luisa!

    Thanks for sharing your perspective on the story of Jehosheba.

    You wrote: “The Bible is full of little nuggets of information that can go right over our heads if we don’t take the time to meditate on them and dig a little deeper.”

    That’s a great observation; we always learn something new when we re-read the Bible.

    As they say; repetition is the best teacher.

    Kindly
    Edna Davidsen

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Edna!

      Reply
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  13. Barak M. Seener

    Thank you so much as your account creatively and faithfully brings to life this biblical story to life! Do you know who Jehosheba’s son, Benayahu married?

    Reply
    1. Luisa Rodriguez (Post author)

      Thank you Barak! I presume that you are making the connection between Benayahu and Jehosheba because the Bible, II Samuel 23, says that Benayahu was the son of Johoiada. However, that Johoiada was a contemporary of King David. Benayahu was one of David’s great warriors, greatest in my opinion. The Johoiada that was married to Jehosheba was a high priest during the reign of Ahaziah, that is several kings later. So the father of Benayahu and Johaida the high priest, husband of Jehosheba, are not one and the same and therefore I do not believe Benayahu to be the son of Jehosheba. Please let me know if I am missing something. That being said, I don’t believe the scripture mentioned who Benayahu, the warrior, was married to. Sorry I couldn’t be more helpful on that end.

      Reply

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