Jehoiakim | Free Online Biblical Library

If you like our 14,000 Articles library, you'll love our Courses tailor-made for all stages of church life:

Courses cover a wide range of Bible, Theology and Ministry.


JEHOIAKIM (jē-hoi'a-kĭm, Heb. yehôyāqîm, Jehovah sets up). Second son of the godly Josiah, king of Judah. He was originally named “Eliakim” (whom God sets up). In 607 b.c., Pharaoh Neco of Egypt marched northward, intending to fight the king of Assyria at the Euphrates River. Josiah imprudently intercepted him and was mortally wounded at Megiddo near Mount Carmel. The people of Judah passed by Eliakim and made his youngest brother, Shallum, or Jehoahaz, king after Josiah (1Chr.3.15; 2Chr.36.1). Jehoahaz reigned for three months in Jerusalem, when Neco in displeasure “put him in chains at Riblah” in the north of Syria, then sent him to Egypt, where he died (2Kgs.23.33-2Kgs.23.34). The king of Egypt next took Eliakim, elder half-brother of Jehoahaz, changed his name to Jehoiakim, put the land under heavy tribute, and made Jehoiakim king over Jerusalem, where he reigned from 607-597. Jehoiakim was an oppressive and thoroughly godless king (2Kgs.23.36-2Kgs.24.7; 2Chr.36.4-2Chr.36.8; cf. Jer.22.1-Jer.22.30-Jer.36.1-Jer.36.32).

The prophecies of Jer.22.1-Jer.22.23 were uttered (if all at one time) soon after the death of Josiah and the taking away of Jehoahaz (Jer.22.10-Jer.22.12). They describe the wrongdoing and oppression by Jehoiakim (Jer.22.13-Jer.22.23). The prophet wrote about the dooms of Judah and the other nations at the direction of the Lord. When the princes heard these words, they let Jeremiah and his clerk Baruch hide themselves; then when the king heard the words of the book, he cut out the passages that displeased him and burned them, with the result that the Book of Jeremiah was rewritten and enlarged (Jer.36.1-Jer.36.32). Jehoiakim died in disgrace and had “the burial of a donkey” (Jer.22.19).

JEHOIAKIM jĭ hoi’ ə kĭm (יהוֹיָקִ֥ים; LXX ̓Ιωακιμ, may the Lord raise up, cf. 1 Sam 2:8, Hos 6:2, etc.). Throne name of Eliakim, son of Josiah, appointed king of Judah by Pharaoh Necho. The form Yoqim is found on a seal of unknown provenance (Diringer, IAE, 197 [perhaps 5th cent., Cook NSI, no. 150/8, p. 362]; the formation with the imperfect is rather unusual [Noth, Isr. Personennamen p. 28], but see 2 Kings 18:18 and postexilic examples including Joiakim, Neh 12:10).


The correlation of Jehoiakim’s fourth year with Nebuchadnezzar’s first (Jer 25:1) may be explained by taking “first” (ri’shonit) as the Akkad. res sarruti, accession period (Vogt, Finegan s. 314) or assuming that Jewish scribes regarded Nebuchadnezzar as already king (so Freedman, Finegan s. 327; cf. Jer 52:12 with 52:29). Daniel may have interpreted the standard correlation by Babylonian information, thus dating Carchemish in Jehoiakim’s third, and making no distinction of the years immediately following.


In 1 Chronicles 3:15, Jehoiakim is named as Josiah’s second son, ranking before Jehoahaz (Shallum). In 609 b.c., they were twenty-five and twenty-three respectively (2 Kings 23:31, 36); but Zedekiah, only ten (24:18), appears between them in Chronicles. W. F. Albright (JBL, LI, p. 92) would emend 2 Kings 23:36 to avoid making Josiah a father at fourteen; but 2 Chronicles 36:5 preserves the same reading, and in that year Jehoiakim’s son was already seven (2 Kings 24:8).

Egyptian overlordship.

Necho, committed in support of the failing power of Assyria, needed to secure the flank of his line of march up the coast. He had no time to turn aside at Megiddo, but on his return that fall, taking Jehoahaz as hostage, he appointed Eliakim to govern in the Egyp. interest, symbolizing his dependence by giving him a new name. The fact that he only altered the divine prefix suggests that he was aiming to conciliate Judean feeling. The tribute (a talent of gold and a hundred of silver) was more of a warning than a penalty.

Jehoiakim remained loyal to the Egyp. cause, if only from self-interest. The majority of the people also, or at any rate of the ruling class, preferred Egyp. overlordship to that of the Babylonians, if it came to a choice.

Relations with Nebuchadnezzar.

For nearly four years, Jehoiakim lived secure in Egypt’s shadow; then the “pot” of Jeremiah’s vision (Jer 1) was upset. The Babylonian victory at Carchemish not only finished the Assyrians, but spelled the end of Egyp. power in Asia, though for years the rulers of Judah could not believe this. The death of Nebuchadnezzar’s father interrupted his follow-through, but in 604 b.c. according to the Babylonian Chronicle, he received tribute from “all the kings of Hatti-land”; it is probable that Judah was included. Ashkelon fell early in 603 b.c. He became Nebuchadnezzar’s vassal for three years, but rebelled, evidently after the Egyp. repulse of the Babylonians (601). Thus he paid tribute in 604, 603, 602; or (Vogt) 603-1.

In December 599 b.c., Nebuchadnezzar returned to Syria, reestablishing his authority there as a preliminary to renewing the contest with Egypt. A year later he advanced S to recover Judah. Meanwhile, he induced the Ammonites and Moabites and the “Arameans” (2 Kings 24:2; possibly, as Peshitta, “Edomites,” cf. Jer 35:11) to raid Judah. Their incursions are explained by Ginsberg (Alex. Marx Jub. Vol.) as motivated by fear, that if he were successful, Jehoiakim would repeat the recovery of Israelite territory E of the Jordan, which Ginsberg attributes to Josiah; he appears to underrate the age-old enmity of these peoples, who would more readily have seen Judah as a prey than “fellow-vassal” (cf. Ps 137:7; Obad 10ff.).

Attitude to Jeremiah.

Jeremiah characterized Jehoiakim as “competing in cedar” (Jer 22:15), greedy and unprincipled. He ordered the death of Uriah of Kiriath-jearim, who prophesied as Jeremiah did (26:20ff.) “against this city,” but clearly it was the call to repent that was unacceptable to the people and leaders as well as to the king. In December 605, or, less probably, a year later, Jehoiakim burned the first written edition of Jeremiah’s prophecies, which had been confiscated after Baruch had read from it in the Temple; he would have arrested (and doubtless murdered) both Jeremiah and Baruch, “but the Lord hid them” (Jer 36). His antagonism might indicate determination to resist the Babylonians, or resentment that the outcome of his diplomacy was being questioned.

Death and burial.

If Jehoiachin’s reign ended with his surrender on 2 Adar (March 16) 597, Jehoiakim died about 7 December 598 b.c., before Nebuchadnezzar reached Jerusalem, but while the district was subject to raids from across the Jordan (2 Kings 24:2; Freedman, BA, XIX, p. 53, n. 2). Some mystery surrounds Jehoiakim’s burial. The phrase “slept with his fathers” (2 Kings 24:6) normally indicates a natural death, and as the same information was available to the Chronicler, he can hardly have meant that Jehoiakim ended his reign in captivity (2 Chron 36:6). However, several authorities note the possibility that he was murdered, referring either to Jer 22:19; 36:30, or to Josephus’ account of a double siege in 598/7 b.c. (Jos. Antiq. 10:6:3). The latter cannot be reconciled with the Babylonian Chronicle, but may have been constructed from Jeremiah’s words; whereas these may well have been fulfilled in an undignified burial because of the raids. There is a dispute whether a proper burial would have been in the palace or outside the city; Manasseh and Amon were buried in the “garden of Uzza,” which is named in 2 Chronicles 36:8 (LXX). Yeivin accepts this but locates the garden in the city; Myers and Gray draw the opposite conclusion.


W. F. Albright, JBL, LI (1932), 84-92; S. Yeivin, JNES, VII (1948), 34ff.; A. Honeyman, JBL, LXVII (1948), 18f.; A. Dupont-Sommer, Semitica I (1948), 43-68; H. Ginsberg, BASOR, CXI (1948), 24-27; J. Bright, BA XII (1949), 46-52; H. Ginsberg, Alexander Marx Jubilee Volume (1950), 350ff.; J. Montgomery, “Kings” ICC (1951); W. F. Albright, JBL, LXXI (1952), 31, 253; D. Wiseman, Chron. of the Chaldaean Kings (1956); J. Hyatt, JBL, LXXV (1956), 277-284; D. Freedman, BA, XIX (1956), 50-60; E. Thiele, BASOR, CXLIII (1956), 22-27; H. Tadmor, JNES, XV (1956), 226-230; A. Malamat, IEJ, VI (1956), 246-255; E. Vogt, Suppl. Vet Test, IV (1957), 67-97; E. Kutsch, ZATW, LXXI (1959), 270ff.; E. Auerbach, Vet Test, IX (1959), 113-121, X (1960), 69f.; J. Finegan, Handbook of Biblical Chronology (1964), ss. 309-318; J. Gray, Kings (1964); J. Myers, Chronicles (1965); J. Fitzmyer, Biblica XLVI (1965), 41-55.

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

The name given him by Pharaoh-necoh, who raised him to the throne as vassal king in place of his brother Jehoahaz, is changed from Eliakim (`elyaqim, "God will establish"). The change compounds the name, after the royal Judean custom, with that of Yahweh; it may also imply that Necoh claims Yahweh’s authorization for his act, as in a similar way Sennacherib had claimed it for his invasion of Judah (2Ki 18:25). He has represented the campaign with which Josiah interfered as undertaken by Divine command (’El, 2Ch 35:21); this episode of it merely translates the authorization, rather arrogantly, into the conquered nation’s dialect.

A king of Judah, elder (half-) brother and successor of Jehoahaz; reigned 11 years from 608 BC.

I. Sources for His Life and Time.

1. Annalistic:

The circumstances of his accession and raising of the indemnity to Pharaoh-necoh, followed by a brief resume of his reign, are narrated in 2Ki 23:34-24:6. The naming of the source for "the rest of his acts" (24:5) is the last reference we have to "the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah." The account in 2Ch 36:5-8, though briefer still, mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s looting of the temple at some uncertain date in his reign. Neither account has any good to say of Jehoiakim; to the writer of 2 Kings, however, his ill fortunes are due to Yahweh’s retributive justice for the sins of Manasseh; while to the Chronicler the sum of his acts, apparently connected with the desecration of the sanctuary, is characterized as "the abominations which he did." For "the rest of his acts" we are referred, also for the last time, to the "book of the kings of Israel and Judah."

2. Prophetic:

For the moral and spiritual chaos of the time, and for prophecies and incidents throwing much light on the king’s character, Jeremiah has a number of extended passages, not, however, in consecutive order.

The main ones clearly identifiable with this reign are: 2Ki 22:13-19, inveighing against the king’s tyrannies and predicting his ignominious death; 2 Kings 26, dated in the beginning of his reign and again predicting (as had been predicted before in 7:2-15) the destruction of the temple; 2 Kings 25, dated in his 4th year and predicting the conquest of Judah and surrounding nations by Nebuchadnezzar; 2 Kings 36, dated in the 4th and 5th years, and telling the story of the roll of prophecy which the king destroyed; 2 Kings 45, an appendix from the 4th year, reassuring Baruch the scribe, in terms of the larger prophetic scale, for his dismay at what he had to write; 2 Kings 46, also an appendix, a reminiscence of the year of Carchemish, containing the oracle then pronounced against Egypt, and giving words of the larger comfort to Judah. The Book of the prophet Habakkuk, written in this reign, gives expression to the prophetic feeling of doubt and dismay at the unrequited ravages of the Chaldeans against a people more righteous than they, with a sense of the value of steadfast faith and of Yahweh’s world-movement and purpose which explains the seeming enormity.

II. Character and Events of His Reign.

1. The Epoch:

The reign of Jehoiakim is not so significant for any personal impress of his upon his time as for the fact that it fell in one of the most momentous epochs of ancient history. By the fall of Nineveh in 606 to the assault of Nebuchadnezzar, then crown prince of the rising Babylonian empire, Assyria, "the rod of (Yahweh’s) anger" (Isa 10:5), ended its arrogant and inveterate sway over the nations. Nebuehadnezzar, coming soon after to the Chaldean throne, followed up his victory by a vigorous campaign against Pharaoh-necoh, whom we have seen at the end of Josiah’s reign (see under JOSIAH) advancing toward the Euphrates in his attempt to secure Egyptian dominion over Syria and Mesopotamia. The encounter took place in 605 at Carehemish on the northern Euphrates, where Necoh was defeated and driven back to the borders of his own land, never more to renew his aggressions (2Ki 24:7). The dominating world-empire was now in the hands of the Chaldeans, "that bitter and hasty nation" (Hab 1:6); the first stage of the movement by which the world’s civilization was passing from Semitic to Aryan control. With this world-movement Israel’s destiny was henceforth to be intimately involved; the prophets were already dimly aware of it, and were shaping their warnings and promises, as by a Divine instinct, to that end. It was on this larger scale of things that they worked; it had all along been their endeavor, and continued with increasing clearness and fervor, to develop in Israel a conscience and stamina which should be a leavening power for good in the coming great era (compare Isa 2:2-4; Mic 4:1-3).

2. The King’s Perverse Character:

Of all these prophetic meanings, however, neither the king nor the ruling classes had the faintest realization; they saw only the political exigencies of the moment. Nor did the king himself, in any patriotic way, rise even to the immediate occasion. As to policy, he was an unprincipled opportunist: vassal to Necoh to whom he owed his throne, until Necoh himself was defeated; enforced vassal to Nebuchadnezzar for 3 years along with the other petty kings of Western Asia; then rebelling against the latt er as soon as he thought he could make anything by it. As to responsibility of administration, he had simply the temper of a despotic self-indulgent Oriental. He raised the immense fine that Necoh imposed upon him by a direct taxation, which he farmed out to unscrupulous officials. He indulged himself with erecting costly royal buildings, employing for the purpose enforced and unpaid labor (Jer 22:13-17); while all just interests of his oppressed subjects went wholly unregarded. As to religion, he let matters go on as they had been under Manasseh, probably introducing also the still more strange and heathenish rites from Egypt and the East of which we see the effects in Eze 8:5-17. And meanwhile the reformed temple-worship which Josiah had introduced seems to have become a mere formal and perfunctory matter, to which, if we may judge by his conspicuous absence from fast and festal occasions (e.g. Jer 26; 36), the king paid no attention. His impious act of cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s roll (Jer 36:23), as also his vindictive pursuit and murder of Uriah for prophesying in the spirit of Jeremiah (26:20-23), reveal his antipathy to any word that does not prophesy "smooth things" (compare Isa 30:10), and in fact a downright perversity to the name and w ill of Yahweh.

3. The Prophetic Attitude:

With the onset of the Chaldean power, prophecy, as represented in the great seers whose words remain to us, reached a crisis which only time and the consistent sense of its Iarger issues could enable it to weather. Isaiah, in his time, had stood for the inviolability of Zion, and a miraculous deliverance had vindicated his sublime faith. But with Jeremiah, conditions had changed. The idea thus engendered, that the temple was bound to stand and with it Jerusalem, an idea confirmed by Josiah’s centralizing reforms, had become a superstition and a presumption (compare Jer 7:4); and Jeremiah had reached the conviction that it, with its wooden rites and glaring abuses, must go: that nothing short of a clean sweep of the old religious fetishes could cure the inveterate unspirituality of the nation. This conviction of his must needs seem to many like an inconsistency--to set prophecy against itself. And when the Chaldean appeared on the scene, his counsel of submission and prediction of captivity would seem a double inconsistency; not only a traversing of a tested prophecy, but treason to the state. This was the situation that he had to encounter; and for it he gave his tender feelings, his liberty, his life. It is in this reign of Jehoiakim that, for the sake of Yahweh’s word and purpose, he is engulfed in the deep tragedy of his career. And in this he must be virtually alone. Habakkuk is indeed with him in sympathy; but his vision is not so clear; he must weather disheartening doubts, and" cherish the faith of the righteous (Hab 2:4), and wait until the vision of Yahweh’s secret purpose clears (Hab 2:1-3). If the prophets themselves are thus having such an equivocal crisis, we can imagine how forlorn is the plight of Yahweh’s "remnant," who are dependent on prophetic faith and courage to guide them through the depths. The humble nucleus of the true Israel, which is some day to be the nation’s redeeming element, is undergoing a stern seasoning.

4. Harassing and Death:

After Syria fell into Nebuchadnezzar’s power, he seems to have established his headquarters for some years at Riblah; and after Jehoiada attempted to revolt from his authority, he sent against him guerrilla bands from the neighboring nations, and detachments from his Chaldean garrisons, who harassed him with raids and depredations. In 2Ch 36:6,7, it is related that Nebuchadnezzar carried some of the vessels of the temple to Babylon and bound the king in fetters to carry him also to Babylon--the latter purpose apparently not carried out. This was in Jehoiada’s 4th year. In Da 1:1,2, though ascribed to Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, this same event is related as the result of a siege of Jerusalem. It is ambiguously intimated also that the king was deported; and among "the seed royal and of the nobles" who were of the company were Daniel and his three companions (Da 1:3,6). The manner of Jehoiakim’s death is obscure. It is merely said (2Ki 24:6) that he "slept with his fathers"; but Josephus (Ant., X, vi, 3) perhaps assuming that Jeremiah’s prediction (Jer 22:19) was fulfilled, states that Nebuchadnezzar slew him and cast his body outside the walls unburied.