Why Does Jeremiah Mention Only Three Kings in Jeremiah 1:2-3?

Jeremiah's 3 Kings

We’ve already studied the kings who ruled during the ministry of the prophet Jeremiah. But if you read that post you may have noticed something. In fact, I stated it pretty clearly. In Jeremiah 1:2-3 there are only three kings listed — Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.

Even if we allow for Gedaliah, Ishmael, and Jehohanan to be excluded because they weren’t real kings, we still have Shallum and Jehoiachin missing from the list of kings who ruled while Jeremiah was ministering.

In other words, Jeremiah 1:2-3 says that…

  1. Jeremiah received God’s word in the days of Josiah.
  2. He skips Shallum.
  3. The word came in the days of Jehoiakim.
  4. He skips Jeconiah.
  5. The word came in the days of Zedekiah.
  6. And then he skips Gedaliah — again, probably because he wasn’t a real king.

So, I wonder why does he skip mentioning these other kings?

Jeremiah Purposely Excluded Them

Here’s one possible reason for excluding Shallum and Jehoiachin. They both ruled for 3 months or less. They really were rather minor in terms of their tenure of ruling the Jews. Maybe since they were so minor in terms of the length of their ruling Jeremiah saw fit to leave them out of the list of kings.

Jeremiah Didn’t Prophesy When They Reigned

And here’s the second possibility. Maybe during the short 3-month reigns of Shallum and Jehoiachin – Jeremiah actually didn’t receive any message from the Lord at those times.

Jeremiah mentions Shallum once in Jeremiah 22:11. But there he seems to be speaking of him in the past tense as if Shallum had already been exiled by that point.

But it’s a little harder to see Jeremiah not prophesying during the reign of Jehoiachin. While there are a number of references in which Jehoiachin is spoken of as if he’s already been exiled (Jeremiah 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2; 37:1; 52:31-34) yet Jeremiah 22:24-30 is particularly difficult to interpret in this way. So, perhaps this second explanation for why these two kings aren’t mentioned in Jeremiah 1:2-3 is not as strong as the first.