Jehoiachin


Jehoiachin was born to Jehoiakim and his wife Nehushta during the reign of the godly Josiah, his grandfather. According to 2Kgs.24.8, he was eighteen when he came to the throne, but 2Chr.36.9 (see niv footnote) gives his age as eight. Probably an early scribe made a mistake of ten years in copying one of these two books. The evidence favors the record in 2 Kings, for 24:15 speaks of his wives, and he would hardly have been married at eight years of age. Jehoiakim displayed his contempt for the Word of God by cutting up and burning the prophecies of Jeremiah (Jer.36.23, Jer.36.32), thereby adding to the curses that the Lord pronounced on Jerusalem.

In Ezek.19.5-Ezek.19.9, Jehoiachin is characterized as “a strong lion. He learned to tear the prey and he devoured men.” The prophet announced that the “strong lion” would be taken to Babylon, and this was literally fulfilled later. Although Jeremiah was prophesying with mighty power all through the youth of Jehoiachin, the influences of the palace were stronger than those of the prophet. Jehoiakim had been rapacious, violent, and oppressive. He had “the burial of a donkey—dragged away and thrown outside the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer.22.18-Jer.22.19). In these sad conditions and under the threatening shadow of Nebuchadnezzar, Jehoiachin became king; and in his three months of power “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done” (2Kgs.24.9). “In the spring King Nebuchadnezzar sent for him and brought him to Babylon” (2Chr.36.10), where he remained a captive the rest of his life, though apparently not under extremely hard conditions. Nebuchadnezzar died in 561 b.c., and his son Evil-Merodach, who succeeded almost immediately, took Jehoiachin from prison and “spoke kindly to him and gave him a seat of honor higher than those of the other kings who were with him in Babylon. So Jehoiachin put aside his prison clothes....” and after thirty-seven years of captivity was given a daily allowance of food the rest of his life (2Kgs.25.27-2Kgs.25.30).——ABF


JEHOIACHIN jĭ hoi’ ə kĭn (יְהוֹיָכִ֣ין, LXX ̓Ιωακιμ, may the Lord establish, Albright JBL, LI [1932], 81, root kyn; less prob. protect, Noth, Israelitische Personennamen, 28, 62, 202 n. 1, from root knn, argued from the alternate form JECONIAH [1 Chron 3:16f., Jer 24:1 etc., cf. CONIAH 22:24, 37:1]). Albright thinks this was vocalized Yekenyahu, cf. Canaanite Yakin-el, BASOR XCIX (1945), 11 (cf. Gordon, Ugaritic Handbook, 234, and Akkad. Yaukin, BA [1942]), 52. Son of Jehoiakim, and the last king of Judah before the Exile (597 b.c.).

Chronology.

Jehoiachin reigned three months and ten days (2 Chron 36:9), from the death of his father till the capture of Jerusalem (March 16, 597 b.c., dated by the Babylonian Chronicle). This means that Jehoiakim died early in Dec. 598 (D. J. Wiseman, Documents from OT Times, 81); E. Vogt and E. Auerbach consider that Jehoiachin’s reign ended on his departure for Babylon in April, but agree that he became king before the city was besieged. If the first year of his exile (spring reckoning) was 597/6, the thirty-seventh was 561/0, the first (full, regnal) of Amel-Marduk (Evil-Merodach, 2 Kings 25:27; Jer 52:31).

Names.

Jehoiachin (Jojachin, Yaukin) prob. was the throne name, because (1) it parallels Jehoiakim, Jehoahaz, and Josiah; (2) it occurs in the Babylonian “ration tablets” and the seal of Eliakim steward of Yaukin (Ywkn); (3) (Je)Coniah, like Shallum (see Jehoahaz), is used by Jeremiah (cf. the very personal 22:28), whereas Kings and Chronicles use “Jehoiachin.” On the other hand, “Jeconiah” and “Shallum” occur in 1 Chronicles 3.

Reign.

Jehoiachin came to the throne at the age of eighteen (2 Kings 24:8; cf. 2 Chron 36:9). “Eight” is certainly a scribal error, as it is shown from the “ration tablets” that he had five sons at latest by 592 b.c.; if he was born in 615 b.c., Jehoiakim’s early paternity would be consistent with that of all the last kings of Judah.

It may be assumed that Jehoiachin had virtually no chance of developing an independent policy, because it is recorded that he endorsed the religious and social attitudes of his father (2 Kings 24:9). At his accession, Judah was already under pressure from Moabites and other Trans-Jordanians, who had been encouraged by Nebuchadnezzar. The Babylonian king now advanced S from Syria, where he had reestablished his authority after recovering from his repulse by Egypt in 601 b.c. He invested Jerusalem, which offered surprisingly little resistance. In view of the sieges that the city has withstood (for instance, a few years later under Zedekiah), it is obvious that the Jewish leaders thought it politic to make terms with Nebuchadnezzar (see Albright, JBL, LI, who argues that Nehushta the queen-mother, of a Jerusalem family, would have exercised no small influence). Nebuchadnezzar aimed at rendering Judah powerless to hinder his operations against Egypt. Accordingly he deported the nobility, trained soldiers and men of ability, leaving only a population sufficient to maintain agriculture; appointed a puppet king (Zedekiah), binding him by a special oath of loyalty; and stripped the capital of significant wealth, even from the Temple, leaving only what was needed for the religious service. Thus there is no need to see, with Gray, a contradiction in 2 Kings 24:13 with Jeremiah 27:19f.; moreover, the Babylonian Chronicle mentions heavy tribute, and it appears that the prisoners and booty were not moved till late April or May (cf. 2 Chron 36:9, 10, Wiseman [Chronicles, p. 34], and Kutsch).

Exile.

Jehoiachin was not a hostage for the good behavior of those left in Jerusalem, else his story would have ended at Zedekiah’s revolt. Taken with his people, he was treated as their chief representative, under duress and later in relaxation; for toward the end of the thirty-seventh year (spring 560 b.c.), King Amel-Marduk released him from prison and gave him a place at court. Tablets have been found in the ruins of a storehouse in Babylon, recording issues of oil rations to prisoners, among whom “Jehoiachin king of Judah” is named with his sons and their Jewish governor; the sons, five of the seven named in 1 Chronicles 3:17, were therefore children. One of the Jehoiachin tablets published by Weidner is dated (592 b.c.); others in the find date from 595 to 569 (cf. 2 Kings 25:27-30).

The discovery of two impressions at Tell Beit Mirsim, and one at Beth-shemesh, from a seal of Eliakim “steward of Joiachin,” suggests that Jehoiachin’s estates were not confiscated, and prob. his needs were largely supplied from them. It seems that the Babylonians regarded him as the legitimate king, even in prison, whereas Zedekiah and Gedaliah were virtually regents. A party in Jerusalem yet hoped and schemed for his return; and it has been pointed out that dating by years of captivity (Ezekiel) was equivalent to dating by the reign of Jehoiachin (Albright, JBL, LI, 93 ff.; cf. May, AJSL, LVI). Jeremiah, however, although he saw the exiles as “good figs” and heirs of the promise, would have nothing to do with the idea of the king’s return (Jer, chs. 28, 29), and had even denied that his posterity would reign (22:24-30).

Bibliography

W. F. Albright, JBL, LI (1932), 77, 84, 91-103; D. Diringer, Iscrizzioni Ant. Ebr. (1934), 126, 127; H. May, AJSL, LVI (1939), 146-148; E. Weidner, Melanges Syriens II (1939), 923-935; W. F. Albright, BA, V (1942), 49-55; A. Honeyman, JBL, LXVII (1948), 13ff.; A. Malamat, JNES, IX (1950), 224, PEQ (1951), 81-87; J. Montgomery, Kings ICC (1951); W. F. Albright, JBL, LXXI (1952), 253ff.; J. B. Pritchard, ANET2 (1955), 308; D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of the Chaldaean Kings (1956); D. Freedman, BA, XIX (1956), 56ff.; H. Tadmor, JNES, xv (1956), 226-230; J. Hyatt, JBL, LXXV (1956), 279ff.; E. Thiele, BASOR, CXLIII (1956), 22-27; W. F. Albright, ibid., 28; A. Malamat, IEJ, vi (1956), 246-256; E. Vogt, Vet Test Supplement 4 (1957), 92-97; D. W. Thomas (ed.), Documents from OT Times (1958), 81; E. Kutsch, ZATW, LXXI (1959), 270-274; E. Auerbach, Vet Test, IX (1959), 113ff., XI (1961), 128ff.; J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964), ss. 319-329; E. Thiele, Mysterious Numbers2 (1965), 163-173.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

A king of Judah; son and successor of Jehoiakim; reigned three months and surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar; was carried to Babylon, where, after being there 37 years a prisoner, he died.

1. Sources:

The story of his reign is told in 2Ki 24:8-16, and more briefly in 2Ch 36:9-10. Then, after the reign of his successor Zedekiah and the final deportation are narrated, the account of his release from prison 37 years afterward and the honor done him is given as the final paragraph of 2Ki (25:27-30). The same thing is told at the end of the Book of Jer (52:31-34). Neither for this reign nor for the succeeding is there the usual reference to state annals; these seem to have been discontinued after Jehoiakim. In Jer 22:24-30 there is a final pronouncement on this king, not so much upon the man as upon his inevitable fate, and a prediction that no descendant of his shall ever have prosperous rule in Judah.

2. His Reign:

Of the brief reign of Jehoiachin there is little to tell. It was rather a historic landmark than a reign; but its year, 597 BC, was important as the date of the first deportation of Jewish captives to Babylon (unless we except the company of hostages carried away in Jehoiakim’s 3rd (4th) year, Da 1:1-7). His coming to the throne was just at or near the time when Nebuchadnezzar’s servants were besieging Jerusalem; and when the Chaldean king’s arrival in person to superintend the siege made apparent the futility of resistance, Jehoiachin surrendered to him, with all the royal household and the court. He was carried prisoner to Babylon, and with him ten thousand captives, comprising all the better and sturdier element of the people from prince to craftsman, leaving only the poorer sort to constitute the body of the nation under his successor Zedekiah. With the prisoners were carried away also the most valuable treasures of the temple and the royal palace.

3. The Two Elements:

Ever since Isaiah fostered the birth and education of a spiritually-minded remnant, for him the vital hope of Israel, the growth and influence of this element in the nation has been discernible, as well in the persecution it has roused (see under MANASSEH), as in its fiber of sound progress. It is as if a sober sanity of reflection were curing the people of their empty idolatries. The feeling is well expressed in such a passage as Hab 2:18-20. Hitherto, however, the power of this spiritual Israel has been latent, or at best mingled and pervasive among the various occupations and interests of the people. The surrender of Jehoiachin brings about a segmentation of Israel on an unheard-of principle: not the high and low in wealth or social position, but the weight and worth of all classes on the one side, who are marked for deportation, and the refuse element of all classes on the other, who are left at home. With which element of this strange sifting Jeremiah’s prophetic hopes are identified appears in his parable of the Good and Bad Figs (Jer 24), in which he predicts spiritual integrity and upbuilding to the captives, and to the home-staying remainder, shame and calamity. Later on, he writes to the exiles in Babylon, advising them to make themselves at home and be good citizens (Jer 29:1-10). As for the hapless king, "this man Coniah," who is to be their captive chief in a strange land, Jeremiah speaks of him in a strain in which the stern sense of Yahweh’s inexorable purpose is mingled with tender sympathy as he predicts that this man shall never have a descendant on David’s throne (Jer 22:24-30). It is as if he said, All as Yahweh has ordained, but--the pity of it!

4. Thirty-seven Years Later:

In the first year of Nebuchadnezzar’s successor, perhaps by testamentary edict of Nebuchadnezzar himself, a strange thing occurred. Jehoiachin, who seems to have been a kind of hostage prisoner for his people, was released from prison, honored above all the other kings in similar case, and thenceforth to the end of his life had his portion at the royal table (2Ki 25:27-30; Jer 52:31-34). This act of clemency may have been due to some such good influence at court as is described in the Book of Daniel; but also it was a tribute to the good conduct of that better element of the people of which he was hostage and representative. It was the last event of Judean royalty; and suggestive for the glimpse it seems to afford of a people whom the Second Isaiah could address as redeemed and forgiven, and of a king taken from durance and judgment (compare Isa 53:8), whose career makes strangely vivid the things that are said of the mysterious "Servant of Yahweh."