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How old was Jehoiachin when he became king? I agree with Michael’s answer that this was probably a copyist error. Most likely, Jehoiachin was 18 when he became king. The age given in 2 Kings 24:8 is most likely accurate because he had wives at that time (2 Kings 24:15). An 8-year-old doesn’t have wives!
Jehoiachin was the grandson of King Josiah. Josiah had four sons, I Chronicles 3:15. The firstborn, Johanan, is never heard from again. (After the first, the order is not by birth.) But the other three along with his grandson ruled as kings of Judah after his death in the following order: Shallum or Jehoahaz, son of Josiah, II Kings 23:30, II Chronicles 36:1, Jeremiah 22:11 Jehoiakim or Eliakim, son of Josiah, II Kings 23:34, II Chronicles 36:4 Jehoiachin, Josiah’s grandson and son of Jehoiakim, II Kings 24:6, II Chronicles 36:8 Mattaniah or Zedekiah, son of Josiah, II Kings 24:17, II Chronicles 36:10, Jeremiah 37:1 When it comes to Jehoiachin there seems to be a discrepancy about his age when he became king. II Chronicles 36:9 says “eight” while II Kings 24:8 says “eighteen.” Many think a copyist omitted the small Hebrew letter “yod” in the number “eighteen,” but there is good reason to see both numbers as accurate. One explanation suggests the eight years were dated from some event instead of the birth year. Supposedly in this case, it was from the time Nebuchadnezzar became ruler of Babylon, II Kings 24:12. This system of dating from an event was used a few times, such as Asa’s 36th year, likely dated from the division of the kingdom, II Chronicles 16:1. However, it is uncertain if II Chronicles 36:9 is the same. It is more probable that about the time Jehoiachin’s father Jehoiakim began his reign, he invited his son at the age of eight, to sit on a throne with him. The eleven-year reign of Jehoiakim and the co-regency of his son Jehoiachin coincide. Jehoiachin would have been eighteen at the end of his father’s reign. The wording of Jeremiah 17:20, 19:3 in which God addresses kings in the plural, unlike Jeremiah 22:2, seem to suggest the co-regency. In the eleventh year of his reign, Jehoiachin’s father Jehoiakim, having been a vassal of Nebuchadnezzar for three years, rebelled against him. Nebuchadnezzar bound him in bronze fetters intending to carry him off to Babylon, II Chronicles 36:6. Somehow, Jehoiakim died an ignominious death, somewhere “beyond the gates of Jerusalem,” Jeremiah 22:18-19, 36:30-31, and joined his ancestors in rest, II Kings 24:6. Upon his father’s death, Jehoiachin at the age of eighteen, reigned on his own for three months and ten days, hardly a reign of any consequence, Jeremiah 36:30. He was then taken into captivity by Nebuchadnezzar. Even though Jehoiachin had seven sons, I Chronicles 3:17-18, none of them succeeded him, Jeremiah 22:28-30. Instead, another son of Josiah reigned, Mattaniah, who Nebuchadnezzar renamed Zedekiah, II Kings 24:17. Jehoiachin spent the rest of his life in Babylon, as a captive until Nebuchadnezzar died and then Evil-Merodach, Nebuchadnezzar’s son and successor released him from prison in his 37th year of captivity (at age 55), II Kings 25:27-30. The Scriptures are trustworthy in the details about Jehoiachin. Jehoiachin was eight when he first served as co-regent and was eighteen when he reigned alone as king.
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