Jotham or Yotam (Hebrew יותם, YHWH is perfect) (783-vr. 768-r. 758-742 BC according to Ussher, or 775-vr. 750-r. 740-732 BC according to Thiele) was the tenth king of the Southern Kingdom of Israel in direct line of descent. His reign is notable for a significant military victory but also for the beginning of a defensive war against Syria and the Northern Kingdom.
Early Life and Family
His wife's name is not recorded in the Bible. When he was twenty-one years old, he had a son named Jehoahaz, or Ahaz for short. This Ahaz proved a very wicked son, for the time references given in the Books of the Kings indicate that Ahaz sired his own son, Hezekiah, when he, Ahaz, was only eleven years old. (This presents a problem for the Thiele system that might indeed be insurmountable: if Thiele's numbers are correct, then Ahaz sired his son when he, Ahaz, was but one year old!)
Viceregency or viceroyalty?
Uzziah, in the forty-second year of his reign, foolishly tried to burn incense in the Temple of Jerusalem and was stricken with leprosy as a result. Uzziah spent the rest of his reign and life in quarantine.
Therefore, at that time, Jotham had to assume the powers and duties of the crown. In Ussher's chronology, Jotham was fifteen years old at the time (and thus only one year younger than his own father was when he began to exercise affairs of state). In Thiele's system he was already twenty-five years old, and was not merely a viceregent but a true viceroy.
In the second year-of-reign of King Pekah of the Northern Kingdom, Jotham attained royal dignity—either by becoming sole ruler or viceroy. He was twenty-five years old at the time, and would hold this dignity for sixteen years.
The Bible credits him with right acts in the sight of the Lord. But it also says that he never attended any services in the Temple of Jerusalem, nor removed any high places. Sadly, the people did not follow any of his right acts—perhaps because he did not provide a sufficiently inspiring public example.
In the first year of his reign (or viceroyalty) he scored a great victory against the Ammonites. They paid the Southern Kingdom a tribute consisting of 100 talents of silver, 10,000 measures of wheat, and 10,000 measures of barley, for each of three successive years.
Death and Succession
Jotham died at the end of a sixteen-year reign, at the age of forty-one. His son Jehoahaz I succeeded him.
Ussher gives a terminus a quo and terminus ad quem for Jotham's reign with sixteen years between them. Thiele, however, seems to suggest that Jotham reigned for eighteen years, a discrepancy that begs explanation. Furthermore, Wood states that Jotham installed his son Jehoahaz I as his viceroy while he himself was viceroy to his father Uzziah.
- James Ussher, The Annals of the World, Larry Pierce, ed., Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2003 (ISBN 0890513600), pghh. 565, 580, 586, 598
- Leon J. Wood, A Survey of Israel's History, rev. ed. David O'Brien, Grand Rapids, MI: Academie Books, 1986 (ISBN 031034770X), pp. 300-301
- Authors unknown. "Entry for Jotham." WebBible Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- II_Kings 15:5
- II_Chronicles 26:21
- Claiborne, Winford. "Uzziah, Jotham, and Ahaz." The International Gospel Hour. Transcript of program first broadcast on radio on November 2, 2003. Retrieved June 5, 2007.
- II_Chronicles 27:1,8
- II_Chronicles 27:2
- II_Kings 15:34-35
- David Holt Boshert, Jr., and David Ettinger, Jotham King of Judah, Christ-Centered Mall. Retrieved June 5, 2007
- II_Chronicles 27:3-4
- II_Chronicles 27:5
- II_Kings 15:37