Jehoiachin, son of Jehoiakim

Also called Jeconiah (Jer 24:1; 27:20) and Coniah (Jer 22:24; 37:1). As the last direct heir to the throne of Judah, he was succeeded by his uncle Mattaniah (Zedekiah).

“Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. His mother's name was Nehushta the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. And he did evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.” (2Ki 24:9-10)

Jehoiachin was appointed king by the Babylonians after the revolt and death of his father Jehoiakim.The 2 Chronicles 36:8-9 account states that Jehoiachin became king at eight years old. However, the 2 Kings account (above) of eighteen years old is preferred due to the full development of his wickedness. The 2 Chronicles account more precisely states his reign as three months and ten days — a short one hundred days. Jeremiah denounced his brief but wicked rule and foretold the demise of his dynasty:

“ 'As I live,' says the LORD, 'though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, were the signet on My right hand, yet I would pluck you off; and I will give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of those whose face you fear — the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon and the hand of the Chaldeans. So I will cast you out, and your mother who bore you, into another country where you were not born; and there you shall die. But to the land to which they desire to return, there they shall not return. Is this man Coniah a despised, broken idol — A vessel in which is no pleasure? Why are they cast out, he and his descendants, And cast into a land which they do not know? O earth, earth, earth, Hear the word of the LORD! Thus says the LORD: 'Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.” (Jer 22:24-30)

According to the Josephus (Antiquities 10. 99) Nebuchadnezzar changed his mind about the appointment of Jehoiachin and returned to besiege Jerusalem. The Ezekiel 19:1-14 lamentation predicts how Jehoiachin would be caged up and carried off like an animal:

“They put him in a cage with chains, And brought him to the king of Babylon; They brought him in nets, That his voice should no longer be heard on the mountains of Israel.” (Eze 19:9)

Jerusalem fell on 16 March 597 B.C. to the Babylonians. Judah's second to last king was deported along with his mother and wives, the nobility, his officers and military men, craftsmen and smiths. None remained except the poorest of the land (2Ki 24:12-16). Assyrian policy was to carry off most of the populace and then resettle a conquered land with foreigners. In contrast, Babylonian policy was to carry off the upper class citizenry and leave the lower classes whom they would elevate to positions of authority, thus gaining their fidelity. Simultaneously, Nebuchadnezzar grossly plundered Jerusalem's Holy Temple — an event predicted by Isaiah upon king Hezekiah's prideful act of showing off his sacred treasures to the Babylonian spies a century earlier (2Ki 20:12-19; 2Ch 32:31; Isa 39).

“Then the king of Babylon made Mattaniah, Jehoiachin's uncle, king in his place, and changed his name to Zedekiah.” (2Ki 24:17)

In Babylon, Jehoiachin was treated as a royal hostage. He is named Ya'u-kin in Babylonian tablets dated 595 to 570 B.C., which speak of him and his five sons as receiving rations at the Babylonian court. After Nebuchadnezzar's death, and upon ascension of his son Evil-Merodach to the Babylonian throne, Jehoiachin enjoyed special favor. After an imprisonment of thirty-seven years, he was freed by Evil-Merodach and given a place at the Babylonian king's table, receiving “every day a portion until the day of his death, all the days of his life” (2Ki 25:27-30; Jer 52:31-34).