The End of the Line Part One
World War II was a little before my time—a very little. But I don’t recall a day in my life that I didn’t know about it. Growing up Jewish, and being a first-generation American with family who died in the Holocaust, it feels as though I’ve known the name Adolf Hitler from the cradle.
By the time I was in third grade, I was already reading books about how the Nazis had hunted down my people like animals and tortured them in concentration camps before finally herding them into ovens and gassing them alive. By the time I was 12, I probably knew more about the Holocaust than most Gentiles knew at fifty.
I also knew that if it hadn’t been for the “righteous Gentiles” who had risked their lives to hide Jewish people, far fewer of us would be alive today.
I never met Nina Katz. But my editor-in-chief, Elwood McQuaid, did. She was a Jewish Holocaust survivor who shared with him her memories of Corrie ten Boom, a deeply committed evangelical Christian from Holland, whose family hid many Jews from the Nazis until, one day, they, too, were arrested. Corrie’s father died in custody in Holland; her sister, Betsie, died in a German labor camp.
Nina met Corrie after the war and asked her a poignant question:
We Jews, because of who we were, had no choice. You and your family did. You knew that if you were caught hiding Jews, it would cost you your life. Still you did it. Why?
[Corrie replied] “Oh, my child. My father felt that he too had no choice. As a good Christian, he had to do what he could to save God’s Chosen People.”1
Most people would say that everyone has a choice: do right or do wrong. But people like the Ten Booms, who truly loved the Lord Jesus, believed there was no choice. If you serve the living God, you must always do right. To do otherwise is to serve the Devil.
Unfortunately, the Devil is a powerful adversary; and Israel’s history is filled with rulers who didn’t do right. During one such bloodcurdling, horrendous period, the house of David was almost obliterated. Had it not been for a lone woman who risked her life to hide the only remaining heir to the Davidic throne, Satan would have succeeded in destroying the entire Messianic line and preventing the Redeemer from being born.
The woman, a righteous Jewess from the tribe of Judah, was Jehoshabeath (also called Jehosheba). Her family tree looks like a worst-case scenario of what can happen when godly people unite with those who hate the lord.
Jehoshabeath was the granddaughter of Jehoshaphat, a godly king of the southern kingdom of Judah who truly loved Jehovah but foolishly aligned himself, both personally and politically, with one of the northern kingdom’s wickedest kings: Ahab. In a monumental demonstration of poor judgment, Jehoshaphat allowed his eldest son, Jehoram (Joram, from now on), the heir to the Davidic throne, to marry Ahab’s daughter Athaliah, thus merging Ahab’s evil and idolatrous family with the seed of David.
At one point, both the kings of Judah and Israel (Samaria) were named Jehoram. They were, in fact, brothers-in-law: Jehoram of Samaria was Ahab’s son (2 Ki. 1:17; 3:1) and Athaliah’s brother.
Jehoshabeath was the daughter of Joram, king of Judah (2 Ki. 11:2). However, scripture never refers to her as Athaliah’s daughter. Athaliah was probably her stepmother, since Joram had more than one wife (2 Chr. 21:17). Bible scholar Alfred edersheim wrote, “every probability attaches to the statement of Josephus (Ant. 9.7, 1), that Jehosheba was the daughter of Jehoram [Joram]…by another mother than Athaliah.”2
Neither Joram nor Athaliah were anything to write home about. Both were evil, selfish, power-hungry idol worshipers who murdered people more righteous than they. Of Joram, the Bible says, “And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for he had the daughter of Ahab as a wife; and he did evil in the sight of the Lᴏʀᴅ” (2 Chr. 21:6). It is probably a wonder Jehoshabeath was given in marriage to the Israelites’ godly high priest, Jehoiada. In fact, she was the only princess in the nation’s history to marry a high priest. Bible commentator C. F. Keil believed Jehoshabeath’s marriage was actually proof that her mother was not Athaliah, “as this worshipper of Baal would hardly have allowed her own daughter to marry the high priest.”3
Sadly, Jehoshabeath saw much of her family murdered. First came her uncles. Soon after Joram became king, he decided to remove any chance that his brothers might usurp the throne, and he killed all six of them “and also others of the princes of Israel” (v. 4). The word princes probably refers to his nephews and cousins. The only direct heirs he left were his own children.
Although the Lord was greatly displeased with Joram, He “would not destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that He had made with David, and since He had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever” (v. 7). But He destroyed Joram. First He warned him through a letter from the prophet Elijah; then, as He always does, He made good His promise.
Next Jehoshabeath saw the Philistines and Arabians raid Jerusalem and carry off all her brothers and possibly even her mother. The Bible says the marauders took all the king’s sons but the youngest and all his wives (but Athaliah) (v. 17). Then her father died when God struck Joram himself (vv. 18–20).
Consequently, the Davidic kingdom fell to Jehoshabeath’s youngest and only surviving brother, Joram’s child by Athaliah: Ahab’s grandson Ahaziah (22:2). Not surprisingly, Ahaziah was no better than his parents. And to make matters worse, because Ahaziah followed his mother’s advice and that of Ahab’s family, the Davidic kingdom was bonding with samaria under a satanically driven rule.
It was not long before Jehoshabeath was faced with a choice: do right or do wrong. Had it not been for people like the ten Booms, Hitler would have come close to exterminating all of european Jewry. Had it not been for Jehoshabeath, the entire Davidic dynasty would have been exterminated. It was the end of the line. And like the ten Booms, Jehoshabeath probably felt she, too, had no choice. so she did right—at the risk of her own life.
continued next issue
- Elwood McQuaid, The Zion Connection (Eugene, OR: Harvest House, 1996), 60–61.
- Alfred Edersheim, Bible History: Old Testament (1890; reprint, 7 vols. in 1, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1995), 836 n. 6.
- C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, “The Second Book of Kings” in Commentary on the Old Testament in Ten Volumes (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, n.d.), 3:356.