This series began with The Genealogies of Christ — Two Genealogies on the two listings in Matthew 1 and Luke 3. It continued with Zerubbabel and the Genealogies of Christ on the “crossing” of the genealogies. Rations for Jehoiachin dealt with evidence from a clay tablet discovered in Babylon about the last king of Judah in the line of Christ. This post looks at a few more details about Jehoiachin / Jeconiah.
Jeconiah / Jehoiachin had more than one name. In II Chronicles 36:8, the son and successor of Jehoiakim is called “Jehoiachin” which means “Jehovah will uphold” or “Jehovah will fortify.” Jeremiah 24:1 calls him “Jeconiah” (“Jehovah will be steadfast”). Perhaps he was born as “Jehoiachin” but took the name “Jeconiah” when he ascended the throne.
The third name is “Coniah,” which only only appears three times, all in prophetic words of Jeremiah. It means “Jehovah has upheld.”
II Chronicles 36:9
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD.
II Kings 24:8-9
8 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother’s name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem.
9 And he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.
Chronicles says he was eight years old, Kings says 18. Eight and eighteen are not the same thing. 🙂 Some claim one author made a mistake. Others say they were right but one passage was copied wrongly (thus, they use this as a “proof” against the doctrine of preservation). Those are the simple answers, of course — but they aren’t the only ones.
A different explanation is that the boy Jehoiachin was made co-regent with his father and shared the rule for ten years, then at eighteen he became the sole king (for three months and ten days), after which he went to Babylon as a prisoner.
Reasons to think there was a co-regency:
- The verse from II Kings above says he did evil “according to all that his father had done.” This language does not require a co-regency, but would fit with one. It would be unusual for such a comprehensive denunciation of one so young with such a short reign.
- He was considered the true king. One example is in the words of a false prophet in Jeremiah 28. Somehow, he gained a strong hold in the minds of the people — unusual if his reign was very short and associated with defeat by Babylon, but if he had been co-regent for years, it would be more understandable.
- Jeconiah must have been the “young lion” of Ezekiel 19:5-9 (the captivity details don’t fit his father, note Jeremiah 22:18-19). The description fits neither a brief reign of three months nor the reign of an eight-year-old. It could, however, describe evilly lived teenage years as co-ruler with his wicked father. (If your teenage son misbehaves, call him “Jeconiah” — and don’t share your throne with him! :))
We can’t know there was a co-regency, of course. There may be another explanation. But there is no reason to assume the Scriptural texts are inaccurate when there are possible and reasonable explanations for the differences. In any event, the Ezekiel passage, and the fact that he is described as so evil in II Kings, convinces me that the time of his sole reign (and his captivity) began at the age of 18, not the age of 8.
What Jeconiah’s Age Means
II Kings 25:27-30
27 And it came to pass in the seven and thirtieth year of the captivity of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the seven and twentieth day of the month, that Evilmerodach king of Babylon in the year that he began to reign did lift up the head of Jehoiachin king of Judah out of prison;
28 And he spake kindly to him, and set his throne above the throne of the kings that were with him in Babylon;
29 And changed his prison garments: and he did eat bread continually before him all the days of his life.
30 And his allowance was a continual allowance given him of the king, a daily rate for every day, all the days of his life.
Jeconiah (Jehoiachin) spent 37 years in captivity before these events. It implies he lived for some time (“all the days of his life”) after that. If he was captured at the age of eighteen, this event happened when he was fifty-five years old. In any event, Jeconiah almost certainly lived well beyond the age of fifty, and probably beyond the age of sixty.
Jeconiah Sons Were His Own
In the last post, I said that if the Babylonian record was accurate, Jeconiah did not die childless. The Scriptural evidence of his age supports the same conclusion.
We know (I Chronicles 3 and Matthew 1) that Jeconiah had legal descendants. A legal descendant might not be a biological descendant, if a man died childless (see my post on Zerubbabel and the genealogies and the description of Levirate marriage). But a man could only have an heir through a Levirate marriage if his widow were able to bear children. Since Jeconiah lived to 60 or older, his widow would almost certainly have been past child-bearing age when he died. If he didn’t have biological children in his own lifetime, he wouldn’t have had children at all — but both the Scriptures and the Babylonian records say he did. They must have been his own biological sons.
All the evidence points to Jeconiah’s sons being his own children. The Babylonian records spoke of his sons as being alive in his lifetime. The age to which he lived rules out a Levirate marriage. The Talmud and other Jewish writings spoke of Jeconiah having sons. Jeconiah’s sons were his biological children.
Jeconiah’s Grandsons were Almost Certainly His Own
Since the Babylonian records showed Jeconiah as having five sons during his lifetime (and I Chronicles may list seven), it is almost certain that Jeconiah’s grandsons were his own descendants (“of his seed”). If his eldest son died childless, it would not have required a far search to find the nearest kinsman — there were brothers available to marry the widow. Her firstborn son would be the legal heir of Jeconiah’s firstborn, but the physical descendant of another of Jeconiah’s sons — still biologically descended from Jeconiah.
Jeconiah’s Grandsons and the Genealogies of Christ
When we start to talk about Jeconiah’s grandson, we are talking about Salathiel or Zerubbabel — who both appear in both genealogies of Christ.
Jesus Christ, legal descendant of Jeconiah, was heir to the throne (Matthew 1). When we put together all the evidence, we see that, almost certainly, Salathiel and Zerubbabel are not only legal but physical descendants of Jeconiah. They are in Luke’s genealogy of Mary. Thus, Jesus is almost certainly also a biological descendant of Jeconiah, “of his seed” to use the common Scriptural terminology.
By now, if you haven’t heard of “Jeconiah’s Curse,” you are saying, “Who cares?” And if you have heard of it, you are saying, “We’ve got a problem. Jon must be wrong.” 🙂 Which is possible, of course, but the evidence (Biblical, archaeological, and Jewish tradition) is strong that Jesus physically descended from Jeconiah.
So we’ll have to take another article to look at “Jeconiah’s Curse” — coming soon, Lord willing.
The Genealogies of Christ — Summary with links to other articles