The action takes place in the kingdom of Judea, in the temple of Jerusalem. Joram, the seventh king of the Jews of the dynasty of David, married to Athaliah, the daughter of Ahab and Jezebel, who ruled over the kingdom of Israel. Athaliah, like her parents, an idolater who inclined her husband to build a temple in Baal in Jerusalem. Joram soon died of a terrible illness. Intending to exterminate the entire lineage of David, Athaliah betrayed the executioners of all the grandchildren of Joram (his children had already died by that time). However, the daughter of Joram from another wife, Josavef, saved the last grandson and only heir of the kingdom of David, Joas, and hid in the temple of her husband the high priest Jehoiada. The boy does not know that he is
Once, during the service in the temple, Athaliah suddenly entered and saw Eliakim, who in white robes served Jehodah with the son of Jehoiada Zacharias. The appearance of an idolater is considered a desecration, and Jehoiai demanded that she leave the temple. But Athaliah noticed the boy and now wants to know who he is, for she had a dream in which her mother had predicted her death, and then a youth in white robes with a dagger appeared, and in Eliakim she suddenly recognizes that boy. The apostate apostate Matfan, who became the priest of Baal, says that the boy must be killed, since
Athaliah wants to look closer to the boy, since the child can not be hypocritical and will tell her who he is, what kind. When Joas is brought in, he responds that he is an orphan and the King of Heaven cares for him, that his parents abandoned him. The truthfulness and charm of the child touched Athaliah. She invites him to live in her palace and believe in her God, and not in Baal. She has no heirs, the boy will be like her son.
Later, Athaliah sends Joseph to Matthew to say that for the right to pray to his God in the temple, Jehoiada and the Levites must give her the foundling Eliakim. If they refuse, they will confirm the suspicions and rumors that a child from a well-born family and raise him for a hidden purpose. Josapeth narrates the words of Mattanus to Jehoiada and proposes to flee with the child into the wilderness. However, the high priest accuses her of cowardice and decides that it is time to act and can no longer hide Eliakim – he must appear in royal dress and crown. The choir of the girls sings glory to the Lord. This choir and the Levites are the only protection of the heir to the throne of David, there is no one else in the temple, but Jehoiada believes that the Lord will give such strength to this army that no one will break them.
In the temple, the ceremony of erecting the kingdom is being prepared, Josavef tries on Joas (Eliakim) the royal crown. He does not understand yet, what is the matter, and believes that he will only help to perform the rite of Jodi, who honors as a father. Jodai asks if the boy is ready to follow David’s example in life, and he answers that he is ready. Then Jehoiada kneels before him and proclaims that he honors his new king. Other priests also swear an oath of allegiance to him.
The Levite appears and reports that the temple is surrounded by troops. Jehoiada places people to protect the temple and speaks to the chorus of the virgins, so that they call upon the Creator.
Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, tells his sister Sulamite how the Levites are organized to defend the temple. The priests begged his father to hide the ark of the covenant, but he told them that this cowardice was not to their face, for the ark always helped to crush the enemy.
A commander Abner appears, whom Athaliah dismissed from the dungeon to say that the priests will be spared if they give her Eliakim and the treasure that was once given by David to be kept in the temple. Abner advises to give Toophia all the values and thus save the temple. He himself is ready to go to execution instead of Eliakim, if it brings peace and peace. The fate of the boy is in the hands of the Lord, and no one knows how the queen will behave – has God already pity in her heart? Abner asks Jodhay to try “a blow of concessions to delay,” and he himself in the meantime will take measures to save the temple and the priests. Jehoiada reveals the secret of Eliakim to Abner. He is ready to give the queen the treasures and tell her what kind of boy, when she enters the temple without her soldiers – to do this, she must persuade Abner. Jehoiada instructs the Levite to close the gates of the temple, as soon as the queen is inside to cut her way back, and all the other priests will call the people to the rescue. The armed Levites and the Tsar will be hidden behind the veils.
Appears Athaliah and, calling Jehoiada a rebel, says that he could destroy him and the temple, but by arrangement he is ready to take only the treasure and the boy. Jodai is ready to show her. The veils are parted, and Jehoiada calls on the king of the Jews to appear. Joash and the armed Levites come out. Athaliah is terrified, and Jehoiada tells her that the Lord Himself cut off the path to her retreat. The head of the priests Ismail comes in and informs that the hired soldiers of Athaliah are fleeing – the Lord has instilled fear into their hearts, the people rejoice when they learn that a new king has come to occupy the throne. Baal is cast into the dust, and the priest Matthan is killed. Athaliah recognizes Joash by the scar from the blow of her knife when he was still a baby. Athaliah is ready for death, but at last she predicts that the hour will come when Joas, like her, will turn away from her God and, desecrating his altar, will avenge her. Joash is terrified and says, that it is better for him to die than to become an apostate. Jodai reminds the king of the Jews that in heaven there is a God – a judge to earthly kings and “an orphaned parent”.