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Undoubtedly Jehoiakim was one of Judah’s worst kings. When his father Josiah was killed in battle with Pharaoh Necho (609 BC), the people of Judah made one of Josiah’s younger sons king in preference to the older Jehoiakim (2 Chronicles 35:20-25; 2 Chronicles 36:1-2). Pharaoh Necho, considering himself the master of Judah, replaced the people’s choice with his own. His choice was Jehoiakim (also known as Eliakim) (2 Chronicles 36:3-5).

In order to raise the large amount of money that Pharaoh Necho demanded each year from Judah, Jehoiakim taxed his people heavily (2 Kings 23:35). At the same time he built himself luxurious royal buildings, forcing people to work in his selfish projects without payment (Jeremiah 22:13-19).

Conflict with Jeremiah

The chief opponent of Jehoiakim was the prophet Jeremiah, who had begun his preaching earlier, in the reign of Josiah (Jeremiah 1:1-3). At the beginning of Jehoiakim’s reign, Jeremiah announced God’s judgment on the sinful kingdom (Jeremiah 26:1-6). This brought opposition from the palace (Jeremiah 26:10-11), but Jeremiah escaped unharmed. Another prophet, however, did not. Jehoiakim was angry at his preaching and executed him (Jeremiah 26:20-24).

Jeremiah warned that because of the idolatry of the king and his people, God would send the Babylonians against Jerusalem in judgment (Jeremiah 25:1-9). This judgment began in 605 BC, the year in which Babylon conquered Egypt at Carchemish and so replaced it as Judah’s overlord. In returning to Babylon, the conquerors took with them selected captives from the leading families of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:7; Jeremiah 46:2; Daniel 1:1-4).

At God’s direction, Jeremiah wrote down all the prophecies of the previous twenty-three years. After his secretary Baruch read them in the temple, the city leaders became so disturbed that they read them to Jehoiakim. The king defiantly burnt the scroll, and tried unsuccessfully to arrest Jeremiah and Baruch (Jeremiah 36:1-26). Jeremiah then rewrote the scroll, with additions, and gave some encouragement to the frightened Baruch (Jeremiah 36:27-32; Jeremiah 45).

Conflict with Babylon

After submitting to Babylon’s overlordship for three years, Jehoiakim rebelled by refusing to pay further tribute (2 Kings 24:1). In depending upon foreign nations to support his rebellion, he met further opposition from Jeremiah (Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:36). Babylon did not attack Jerusalem immediately, but encouraged other countries within its empire to raid Judah and so gradually weaken it (2 Kings 24:2-4).

In due course Babylon attacked Jerusalem (597 BC). Jehoiakim was taken captive and chained ready to be sent to Babylon, but he died before the journey began. No one mourned his death, and his body was thrown on the garbage dump outside Jerusalem, as if it were the carcass of an unclean animal (2 Chronicles 36:6; Jeremiah 22:18-19; Jeremiah 36:30).

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Jehoiakim'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 12th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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