Jehoiakim

(Whom Jehovah will raise)

(2 Kings 23:34—24:6; 2 Chron. 36:5-8)

Contemporary Prophets: Jeremiah; Zephaniah; Ezekiel.

“His confidence shall be rooted out of his tabernacle, and it shall bring him to the king of terrors.”—Job 18:14

“Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old I when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord his God. Against him came up Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon. Nebuchadnezzar also carried [some] of the vessels of the house of the Lord to Babylon, and put them in his temple at Babylon.”

Jehoiakim was of most unlovely character—treacherous, revengeful, and bloodthirsty. He was several years Jehoahaz’ senior, and was not born of the same mother. “And his mother’s name was Zebudah (gainfulness), the daughter of Pedaiah of Ramah.” The mother’s name boded no good for her son; and so it came to be. He taxed the land to give the money according to the commandment of Pharaoh: “he exacted the silver and the gold of the people of the land, of every one according to his taxation, to give unto Pharaoh-Necho.” Having been slighted by the peo- ple in their choice of his younger half-brother, he would make no effort to ease the people’s burdens, but rather increase them. He was in no way under obligations to them; and having behind him the power of Egypt, he had little to fear from them. (See 2 Ki. 23:34, 35.) His wickedness is depicted figuratively in Ezek. 19:5-7. He too, like his deposed predecessor, “became a young lion, and learned to catch the prey, and devoured men. And he knew their desolate palaces, and he laid waste their cities; and the land was desolate, and the fulness thereof, by the noise of his roaring.” His violence and rapacity are graphically represented here.

In the fifth year of his reign a fast was proclaimed among his subjects (the king seems to have had no part in it), and Baruch, Jeremiah’s assistant, read in the ears of all the people the message of God to them from a book. Ready tools informed the king of what was being done, and he ordered the book brought and read before him. “Now the king sat in the winter house in the ninth month: and there was a fire on the hearth burning before him. And it came to pass, that when Jehudi had read three or four leaves, he cut it with the penknife [Heb., scribe’s knife], and cast it into the fire that was on the hearth, until all the roll was consumed in the fire that was on the hearth. Yet they were not afraid, nor rent their garments, neither the king, nor any of his servants that heard all these words.” It was an act of daring impiety, especially for a Jew, who was taught to look upon all sacred writing with greatest reverence. But Jehoiakim was fast hardening himself past all feeling, and no qualms of conscience are perceptible over his sacrilegious act. Jeremiah sent him a personal and verbal message, than which king never heard more awful. “And thou shalt say to Jehoiakim king of Judah, Thus saith the Lord, Thou hast burned this roll, saying, Why hast thou written therein, saying, The king of Babylon shall certainly come and destroy this land, and shall cause to cease from thence man and beast? Therefore thus saith the Lord of Jehoiakim king of Judah, He shall have none to sit upon the throne of David: and his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost. And I will punish him and his seed and his servants for their iniquity.” See Jer. 36.

He also attempted to put Urijah the prophet to death because he prophesied against Jerusalem and the land. The prophet fled to Egypt, whence Jehoiakim sent and fetched him, and “slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people”—his bitter hatred of God and His truth venting itself even on the body of His slaughtered servant, denying it the right of burial among the sepulchres of the prophets. See Jer. 26:20-24. In just retribution God repaid him in kind for his murder and insult. “Therefore thus saith the Lord concerning Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah: They shall not lament for him, saying, Ah my brother! or, Ah my sister!” (as in family mourning): “they shall not lament for him, saying, Ah lord! or, Ah his glory!” (public mourning.) “He shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem” (Jer. 22:18, 19). And so it happened unto him: Nebuchadnezzar defeated and drove out of Asia Jehoiakim’s master, Necho. (See 2 Kings 24:7.) “In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant three years: then he turned and rebelled against him.” And though Nebuchadnezzar could not immediately punish him, his punishment came from another quarter. “The Lord sent against him bands of the Chaldees, and bands of the Syrians, and bands of the Moabites, and bands of the children of Amnion, and sent them against Judah to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord which He spake by His servants the prophets.” Now as to his end: Scripture (historically) is silent. 2 Chron. 36:6 states that Nebuchadnezzar “bound him in fetters, to carry him to Babylon.” It does not say he was taken there. He may have been released after promising subjection to his conqueror. But even if it could be proven that he was actually carried to Babylon, it would in no wise contradict what is recorded in 2 Kings 24:6 (“So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers”); for he might easily have returned to Jerusalem, as other Jewish captives at a later date did. And though there is no historical record in Scripture concerning his death, this is nothing to show that the prophecies of Jeremiah concerning his end were not fulfilled to the letter. We do not really need the history of it, for prophecy in Scripture is only pre-written history—its advance sheets, we might say. It is enough to know what God had foretold concerning it; the fulfilment is certain. Josephus states that Nebuchadnezzar finally came and slew Jehoiakim, “whom he commanded to be thrown before the walls, without any burial”(Ant. x. 6, §4). “So Jehoiakim slept with his fathers” simply expresses his death; it is a distinct expression in Scripture from “ buried with his fathers,” as a comparison of 2 Kings 15:38 and 16:20 will readily show. So the king who denied the prophet’s body honorable burial was himself “buried with the burial of an ass.” He mutilated and burnt God’s book; and his body was in turn “drawn” (torn) and burnt unburied in the scorching sun.

His wicked life was a sad contrast to that of his righteous father. “Did not thy father eat and drink” (lived plainly), “and do justice and judgment, and then it was well with him?” asked Jeremiah; “He judged the cause of the poor and needy; then it was well with him: was not this to know Me? saith the Lord” (Jer. 22:15, 16). Necho changed his name, but could not change his nature.

“Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim12 and his abominations which he did, and that which was found in him, behold, they are written in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah: and Jehoiakin his son reigned in his stead.”

His name, like that of his brother, is omitted from the royal genealogy of Matt. 1. “His uncleanness and iniquity are mentioned in the Apocrypha (1 Esdras 1:42). During his reign (when Nebuchadnezzar took the kingdom) “the times of the Gentiles” began. And until they be “fulfilled,” Jerusalem “shall be trodden under foot,” even as it is this day.

12 Heb. saw-khob', translated “tear” in Jer. 15:3.