was Jehoiachin when he began to reign?
the Bible have mistakes? Does this affect the inerrancy of Scriptures?
question of Jehoiachin's age at the beginning of his reign, is one of
a few that are commonly sent to us with an underlying motive. Sites
skeptical of the reliability of Scriptures also are known to feature
the same. Of course, in sending their question, they expect to
receive no answer, somehow believing that there isn't one. Do they
honestly believe that theologians haven't studied such things for
centuries past or that they have found the great question that will
bring down Christianity? A brief study, such as the one that follows,
will reveal a clear and decisive answer to the true inquirer.1
Since the question usually comes with two verses attached from the
King James Version, this too is where we will begin.
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. (KJV)
24:8 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. (KJV)
the question: eight or eighteen? Such a notable contradiction, they
believe, is proof that Biblical inerrancy is a myth. Before
specifically answering the Jehoiachin question, consider what we mean
when we claim Biblical inerrancy...
Bible was written by God using people chosen by Him (i.e. prophets
sometimes directly spoke or provided (i.e. Ten Commandments) what he
wanted written down, but also sovereignly utilized the personalities,
learning, and experiences of the writers.
result, at the time of the autographs, was a perfect record of God's Word.
have the autographs (the originals), but this is not a problem. God
who knows all that will happen and sovereignly acts throughout
history also has preserved His word for us. If God had wanted too, He
could have made sure that the originals were written on stone and
available for all future generations, of course requiring us all to
read the original languages. In fact God did something even more
amazing, He used his people to transmit and translate His word for
future generations. God knew that being people, they would be apt to
make mistakes; no matter how carefully they tried not too. And
certainly they did. In copying, sometimes a letter was dropped or
added, a pair of letters or words were transposed, even a line
repeated or inadvertently left out. Even through all of this God's
word still stands.
repeated Himself continually throughout the Bible, making every
doctrine of Scriptures clear. All manuscript variants do not
compromise one doctrine of Scriptures.
Because of the multitudes of copies preserved by those who revere
God's word, many copying errors can be readily recognized and
corrected by comparison.
knew that His word would need to be translated into a multitude of
languages over the millennia to follow. This meant that His word
would be able to transcend the limitations of language and be
understood even with a change of words, even paraphrase.
of translations, while changing the letter and phraseology of the
text from the original, still express God's word.
Comparison of the multitudes of translations, especially to the
original languages, also enables correction of copying errors and
revision of wording that may not sufficiently covey the original.
when the translated wording of one section of Scriptures is weak, the
built-in repetition of doctrine (by God), still enables His word to
to the matter of Jehoiachin, even if the text has the obvious error
and contradiction of eight versus eighteen it does not change or
compromise a doctrine of Scriptures. But we don't have to leave the
issue there. Notice that God repeated this statement in two separate
books. This repetition allows us to see which one is an error. Yes, I
said "an error"! This most certainly is a copying error
that entered into the text following the time it was written.
ancient Latin, the Hebrew language uses the letters of the alphabet
for numbers. The difference between eight and eighteen is the
presence of a "hook" symbol over the letters for eighteen,
and if the person who copied the manuscript failed to add the
"hook," the error would be recorded and repeated. These
occasional scribal errors in no way affect the inspiration of
Scripture and do not touch upon any major teaching in the Bible. (The
Bible Exposition Commentary: Old Testament © 2001-2004 by Warren
evidence in the text points to which one is the correct number.
24:8-15 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he
reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta
daughter of Elnathan; she was from Jerusalem. 9 He did evil in
the eyes of the Lord, just as his father had done. 10 At that time
the officers of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon advanced on Jerusalem
and laid siege to it, 11 and Nebuchadnezzar himself came up to the
city while his officers were besieging it. 12 Jehoiachin king of
Judah, his mother, his attendants, his nobles and his officials all
surrendered to him. In the eighth year of the reign of the king of
Babylon, he took Jehoiachin prisoner. 13 As the Lord had declared,
Nebuchadnezzar removed all the treasures from the temple of the Lord
and from the royal palace, and took away all the gold articles that
Solomon king of Israel had made for the temple of the Lord. 14 He
carried into exile all Jerusalem: all the officers and fighting men,
and all the craftsmen and artisans - a total of ten thousand. Only
the poorest people of the land were left. 15 Nebuchadnezzar took
Jehoiachin captive to Babylon. He also took from Jerusalem to Babylon
the king's mother, his wives, his officials and the leading
men of the land. (NIV)
clearly ascribes willful evil to this king, something not to be
expected if this was merely a boy of eight subject to the whims of
many royal advisors. Both Chronicles and Kings note that he reigned
only three months after which he was taken captive.2
At the time of this captivity his wives (note the plural) were taken
as well. This is clearly indicative of an eighteen year old king and
not an eight-year-old who would not even be considered a man under
Jewish law. Consider how he became king...
Chronicles 36:5-8 Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became
king, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem; and he did evil in
the sight of the Lord his God. 6 Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came
up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to
Babylon. 7 Nebuchadnezzar also brought some of the articles of the
house of the Lord to Babylon and put them in his temple at Babylon. 8
Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim and the abominations which he
did, and what was found against him, behold, they are written in the
Book of the Kings of Israel and Judah. And Jehoiachin his son became
king in his place. (NASU)
was the reason Jehoiachin became king after his father was deposed
in 597 B.C. It is highly improbable that Nebuchadnezzar would have
placed an eight-year-old into this position as he would not have one
individual to hold responsible, as any young king would be subject to
a multitude of advisors. In fact, when Nebuchadnezzar subsequently
removed Jehoiachin he made his uncle king and not one of Jehoiachin's
very young children.3 Also, if
Jehoiachin was only eight years old, it's unlikely that he would have
been imprisoned in Babylon (2 Kings 24:15, 25:27).
translations now legitimately have corrected this error in the text...
Chronicles 36:9 Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became
king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months and ten days. He did
evil in the eyes of the Lord. (NIV)
translations at least footnote it and acknowledge that it has been
corrected or that there is other ancient witness that it should be
eighteen. The NASU, which leaves the text as eight, merely footnotes
it with a reference to 2 Kings.
Footnote for 2 Chronicles 36:9 "One Hebrew manuscript, some
Septuagint manuscripts and Syriac (see also 2 Kings 24:8); most
Hebrew manuscripts eight"
Christian Standard Bible Footnote for 2 Chronicles 36:9 "Some
Hebrew manuscripts, LXX [Septuagint]; other Hebrew manuscripts read
eight; 2 Kings 24:8"
The NIV is
correct in noting that a majority of Hebrew manuscripts read eight,
but a majority, especially when newer, don't make it right and are to
be expected if diligently copied from an earlier manuscript having
the numerical copying error. It's not a surprise that the Septuagint,
a Greek translation from the Hebrew made a few centuries before the
time of Christ, generally reflects the correct number, as those
closer to the original would.
line is that with confidence we can state that Jehoiachin was
eighteen years old when he began to reign.
Lord willing, we intend to post studies on additional "pet"
questions we have and continue to receive. While a majority of
answers we provide on www.bibleistrue.com are to those actually
seeking answers, what differs here is that most skeptics sending
these confrontational inquiries really don't expect an answer,
something that can be seen from the tone of their letters. Even
though they perhaps hope that it would tear down our faith and truly
don't seek an answer we hope they will read it anyway and perhaps
reconsider their antagonism to Scriptures and find the eternal God
they are running from.
The reign duration of three months as recorded in 2 Kings 24:8 and
the three month and ten days of 2 Chronicles 36:9 are not a
contradiction either. It was quite common for reigns to be rounded to
even years. That one writer recording a specific and the other a
rounded value was at the discretion of the writer. In fact
Jehoiachin's reign was so short (not even a year) that Jeremiah would
prophesy of his father Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 37:1)...
36:30-31 Therefore, this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim
king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David;
his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the
frost by night. 31 I will punish him and his children and his
attendants for their wickedness; I will bring on them and those
living in Jerusalem and the people of Judah every disaster I
pronounced against them, because they have not listened.'" (NIV)
In Jeremiah's prophecy that Jehoiachin would have no child sit on
the throne of David, we find indication that he had children by at
least one of his wives. Again, this is impossible if he was only
eight years old.
22:24-30 "As surely as I live," declares the Lord,
"even if you, Jehoiachin son of Jehoiakim king of Judah, were a
signet ring on my right hand, I would still pull you off. 25 I will
hand you over to those who seek your life, those you fear - to
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and to the Babylonians. 26 I will hurl
you and the mother who gave you birth into another country, where
neither of you was born, and there you both will die. 27 You will
never come back to the land you long to return to." 28 Is this
man Jehoiachin a despised, broken pot, an object no one wants? Why
will he and his children be hurled out, cast into a land they
do not know? 29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! 30
This is what the Lord says: "Record this man as if childless, a
man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring
will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in