Jehoiachin

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Jehoiachin (Hebrew יְהֹויָכִין, YHWH has established[1]) or Jeconiah (Hebrew יְכָנְיָה‎, YHWH shall fortify, or Greek Ἰεχονίας) or Coniah (617 BC-vr. 609 BC?-r. 599-599 BC- d. 560 BC according to Ussher[2], or 615 BC-vr. 607 BC?-r. 597-597 BC-d. ca. 560 BC according to Thiele[3][4]) was the eighteenth king of the Southern Kingdom of Israel. His reign was short and, by at least one account, ugly and tragic.

Contents

Early Life and Family

Jehoiachin was the son of King Jehoiakim by Jehoiakim's wife Nehushta.[5][6][4] The names of his wives are nowhere recorded in the Bible.

He is known to have had at least one son, named Shealtiel.[7][4]. The Chronicler lists other descendants of his, but does not give a definitive genealogical relationship: Malkiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama, and Nedabiah[8]

He might or might not have been viceroy under his father Jehoiakim for most of the latter's reign.[9][10][11] His viceroyalty, if he had one, is the subject of speculation concerning two different reports of his age-at-accession. Details of the controversy are presented below.

Accession

Jehoiachin became king, or at least sole ruler, at eighteen, this after his father's probable execution.[2][12][13][4][14][15][16][17] The author of Kings gives his length of reign at three months.[5] The Chronicler gives a more specific period: three months and ten days.[18]

Political situation

Eight years earlier, Nebuchadnezzar II had expelled Egypt's Pharaoh Necho II from Carchemish and chased him all the way back to Egypt.[19] Babylonia was now the dominant power in the region--which is to say, the known world from the point-of-view of the ancient Israelites. Nebuchadnezzar had allowed Jehoiakim (who had been Necho's vassal) to remain on his throne, on condition that Jehoiakim should pay homage and tribute to Nebuchadnezzar, not Necho.[20] Jehoiakim had rebelled within three years, and perhaps the only reason why Nebuchadnezzar had not dealt with Jehoiakim at once was that Necho had challenged him one last time.[3] Necho lost, and thus his influence in the region was at an end.[21]

In any case, Nebuchadnezzar removed Jehoiakim by force of arms and installed Jehoiachin as king in his place.[22]

Domestic Policy

Of Jehoiachin's specific domestic policy, the Bible says little, beyond declaring that he "did evil in the sight of YHWH" after the fashion of his father, Jehoiakim.[5][18][16][17] But of the reaction of God, the Bible says much. Jeremiah says that God wouldn't have fellowship with Jehoiachin if that man were God's own signet ring.[23] God also regarded Jehoiachin as
a despised, broken idol...a vessel wherein is no pleasure. Jeremiah 22:28 (KJV)
Jeremiah specifically predicted that Jehoiachin would be handed over to the man he most feared, the man who, according to all his advisers, wanted him dead: Nebuchadnezzar.[24] Furthermore, Jehoiachin's mother would join him in exile, where they would both die.[25] But by far the worst prophecy was this:

Write ye this man childless, a man that shall not prosper in his days: for no man of his seed shall prosper, sitting upon the throne of David, and ruling any more in Judah. Jeremiah 22:30 (KJV)

This curse would have an effect that was somewhat further-reaching than Jehoiachin, perhaps, was able to appreciate.

Exile and Succession

All of Jeremiah's baleful prophecies came true. Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to Jerusalem yet again; the Chronicler says that he did this "when the year was expired" (presumably at the end of the month Adar).[26] Jehoiachin surrendered almost at once.[27][16] Nebuchadnezzar deported a total of ten thousand captives, including seven thousand soldiers, a thousand skilled craftsmen, and two thousand other prisoners also of military age. He also deported Jehoiachin himself, and Nehushta, and Jehoiachin's unnamed wives, and the magistrates, in addition to appropriating a large amount of treasure from the palace and from the Temple of Jerusalem.[28][2][12][13][4][14][15][16]

Nebuchadnezzar left only the poorest of the poor in the land, and nominated Jehoiachin's uncle Zedekiah to be king in his place.[29][13][15][16]

Life in Exile and Eventual Death

When Nebuchadnezzar died, his son Evil-Merodach began to reign. Almost all authorities agree that this occurred in 562 BC. The Bible says that Jehoiachin had been a captive for thirty-seven years by then. Evil-Merodach had him released from prison and given a pension for the rest of his life.[30][12][13][4][14][15][16]

This probably did not last long, however. Evil-Merodach was murdered within two years by his brother-in-law Neriglissar. Ussher says that the only reasonable inference is that Jehoiachin was executed at that time.[31]

Controversies

Jehoiachin's Age

Jehoiachin's age-at-reign is a source of continuing controversy. The author of Kings says that Jehoiachin became king at eighteen.[5] However, the original version of the Chronicles states that Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign.[32][4].

Almost no scholar assumes that Jehoiachin began a lone reign at the age of eight.[33] Ussher himself said that Jehoiachin was born eighteen years before his accession. Fred Butler, however, suggests that Jehoiachin could have begun to reign at the age of eight, with his mother as regent.[9]

The major point of controversy concerns the difference in Jehoiachin's reported age between the accounts given in II Kings and II Chronicles. Different authorities offer three possible resolutions:

  1. The copyist who copied the Chronicles made an error--or to be more specific, an omission of the Hebrew letter yodh which stands for "ten."[10][3] That the New International Version, perhaps drawing from the Septuagint, changes the verse in Chronicles to bring it into accord with the verse in Kings,[18] might or might not be significant.[34]
  2. Two different men are in view as the antecedents of the two uses of the pronoun rendered "he" in English. The first of these is not Jehoiachin at all, but his father Jehoiakim. According to this suggestion, the verse in Chronicles should read, "Jehoiachin was eight years old when Jehoiakim began to reign, and Jehoiachin reigned for three months and ten days."[9][11]
  3. Jehoiachin was eight years old when he was made viceroy of the Southern Kingdom, and became sole ruler at the age of eighteen.[9][10][11]

Synchrony with Nebuchadnezzar

The Bible says that Nebuchadnezzar arrested Jehoiachin "in the eighth year of his reign."[27] The Bible also says that Nebuchadnezzar's son Evil-Merodach began to reign "in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah."[30] Both Ussher's and Thiele's chronologies agree on this first point. But the second creates a conflict. Ussher's system agrees with thirty-seven years for Jehoiachin's captivity, by assuming that Nebuchadnezzar began as viceroy in 607 BC, two years before his father died. But Thiele's system assumes that Nebuchadnezzar began to reign at 605 BC, in the same year that his father died. This requires one of three resolutions, none of which is attractive:

  1. Jehoiachin's captivity did not last a full thirty-seven years--in other words, the copyists made yet another mistake.
  2. Evil-Merodach had to wait for a two-year interregnum before solidifying his hold on the throne in Babylon after Nebuchadnezzar died.
  3. The Biblical Evil-Merodach is not Nebuchadnezzar's son at all, but Neriglissar, who murdered Evil-Merodach two years after Nebuchadnezzar had died.

Extrabiblical Evidence

In 1900, archaeologist Robert Koldewey found a number of cuneiform tablets attesting to, and giving the amount of, the pension paid to Jehoiachin and to his sons.[4] Five sons are mentioned, rather than the seven descendants named above. This suggests that two of the sons were dead by then, or that those two sons had independent means.[35][36]

In addition to Jehoiachin, those tablets mention similar pensions paid to the king of the city-state of Ashkelon and to other skilled craftsmen among Nebuchadnezzar's many captives.

Genealogy of Jesus Christ

Jehoiachin, or rather his Greek name Jechonias, is named twenty-eighth in the list of the ancestors of Joseph of Nazareth.[37][4] Jeremiah, however, reports that God directed him to "write this man childless."[38] The resolution is that Jesus Christ was not a direct descendant of Jehoiachin at all, but rather descended from King David through a son of David different from King Solomon. At least one commentator, however, suggests that God had rescinded the curse two generations later.[39]

References and Notes

  1. Mike Campbell, Behind the Name: Jehoiachin, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 795-7
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 317-8
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 "Jeconiah." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 1 April 2007, 23:45 UTC. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. Retrieved 13 April 2007.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 II_Kings 24:8 (NASB)
  6. Ussher, op. cit., pgh. 749
  7. I_Chronicles 3:17 (NASB)
  8. I_Chroncles 3:18 (NASB)
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 9.3 Fred Butler, The Problem of Jehoiachin's Age 2 Kings 24:8 vs. 2 Chronicles 36:9, Fred's Bible Talk, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007. Requires PDF reader. For the HTML version, see here.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Matthew J. Slick, How old was Jehoiachin when he became king?, Bible Difficulties, Christian Apologetics Research Ministry, 2006. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 Will Kinney, How Old was Jehoiachin, 8 or 18?, Another King James Bible Believer, retrieved April 13, 2007.
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 Anonymous, Jehoiachin, Encyclopedia Britannica online, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 Anonymous, King Jehoiachin: Biography and God's Judgment, retrieved April 13, 2007 from the Kings of Israel site.
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 "Jehoiachin". The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia. © 1994, 2000-2006, on Infoplease. © 2000–2007 Pearson Education, publishing as Infoplease. Retrieved 13 April 2007.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Matthew G. Easton and Paul S. Taylor, "Jehoiachin", The Web Bible Encyclopedia, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 16.4 16.5 Anonymous, "Jehoiachin", Holy Spirit Interactive, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  17. 17.0 17.1 David Holt Boshert, Jr., and David Ettinger, Jehoiachin King of Judah, Christ-Centered Mall. Retrieved April 9, 2007
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 II_Chronicles 36:9 (NIV)
  19. Ussher, op. cit., pgh. 770
  20. Ussher, op. cit., pghh. 775-6
  21. II_Kings 24:7 (NASB)
  22. II_Kings 24:6 (NASB)
  23. Jeremiah 22:24 (NASB)
  24. Jeremiah 22:25 (NASB)
  25. Jeremiah 22:26-27 (NASB)
  26. II_Chronicles 36:10 (KJV). The New International Version says "in the spring."
  27. 27.0 27.1 II_Kings 24:12 (NASB)
  28. II_Kings 24:13-16 (NASB)
  29. II_Kings 24:17 (NASB)
  30. 30.0 30.1 II_Kings 25:27-30 (NASB) Jeremiah 52:31-34 (NASB)
  31. Ussher, op. cit., pgh. 900
  32. II_Chronicles 36:9 (KJV)
  33. Nor would this seem likely, considering that he had wives when he went into captivity.
  34. Was Jehoiachin 8 or 18 Years Old When He Became King of Israel And Did He Rule for 3 Months or 3 Months and 10 Days?, BibleStudyManuals.net. Retrieved April 13, 2007
  35. Jona Lendering, Jehoiachin in Babylonia, Livius.org, April 9, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007.
  36. Author unknown, King Jehoiachin, BibleHistory.net, 2007. Retrieved April 13, 2007. Requires PDF reader.
  37. Matthew 1:11-12 (NASB)
  38. Jeremiah 22:30 (KJV)
  39. Rachmiel Frydland, Messiah to Descend from Jehoiachin and Zerubabel, What The Rabbis Know About The Messiah, Messianic Literature Outreach. Retrieved April 13, 2007 from Menorah.org

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