Jehosheba or Jehoshabeath (Hebrew: יהושבע, Yehōshẹḇaʻ; "Name means::YHWH has sworn") (b. ca. 907–m. 889 BC according to Ussher, or b. ca. 862–m. 844 BC according to Thiele) was a princess of the House of David with two important distinctions:
- She married a Levite who probably had recently become high priest of Israel, and
- She saved alive an infant king when that infant's grandmother sought to kill him.
She was the daughter of King Jehoram of the Kingdom of Judah, and half-sister to King Ahaziah, Jehoram's son, who reigned only one year after his father's death. Her father arranged for her to marry Jehoiada, the high priest in the Temple of Jerusalem, probably in the year that he succeeded to that title after his father died.
Role in the Accession of Joash
In 886 BC (Ussher) or 841 BC (Thiele), General Jehu seized the throne of the Kingdom of Israel and killed every prince of the House of Omri that he could find. King Ahaziah was in Jezreel at the time, and Jehu killed him, too, along with several of his cousins who were traveling with him.
King Jehoram's most prominent wife Athaliah had been the power-behind-the-throne ever since the death of old King Jehoshaphat five years earlier (or eight according to Thiele). Now that Ahaziah was dead, Athaliah determined to seize the crown for herself. To that end she hunted down and killed every remaining member of the royal family that she could find.
But Jehosheba would not allow this to happen to Ahaziah's infant son, Joash. So she took Joash and his nurse out of the palace and hid them in a bedroom in the Temple complex. There they stayed for six years while Athaliah ruled.
Eventually Jehoiada recruited his own bodyguard force from among the Levites and had Joash crowned in the Temple. Athaliah screamed that everyone present was a traitor, and Jehoiada had her taken out of the Temple and executed.
In 1997, J. David Hoke commented that Jehosheba is a metaphor for all those in any form of ministry who seek to preserve the lives of children, both spiritual and physical, from the campaigns of those who seek to destroy those lives by one means or another. But the Alabaster Jars ministry suggests that perhaps Jehosheba acted as she did primarily because she was Athaliah's political opponent—and thus serves as an example of those who do the "right" things because those things serve their self-interests.
- Kachelman JL, "Jehosheba: A Heroic Aunt," Christian Library, 1999. Accessed February 16, 2009.
- "Jehosheba." The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 1994, 2000-2006, on Infoplease. © 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Accessed February 16, 2009. <http://www.infoplease.com/ce6/people/A0826130.html>.
- "Jehosheba," WebBible Encyclopedia, n.d. Accessed February 16, 2009.
- Hoke JD, "If Jehosheba Doesn't Get Him, Athaliah Will!", <http://www.jdavidhoke.com/cms/>, August 17, 1997. Accessed February 16, 2009. Requires registration (free of charge).
- "Women of the Bible: Jehoshabeath," Alabaster Jars, n.d. Accessed February 16, 2009.