Jeremiah 1:2-3 tells us the names of the kings who ruled during the time when Jeremiah was prophesying. They are:
So, let’s go through a chronology of the kings of Judah during this time period.
First, Let’s Fill in the Blanks
We’ve just noticed three kings mentioned so far in Jeremiah 1:2-3 – Josiah, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah.
But there’s also a king between Josiah and Jehoiakim. His name was Shallum (A.K.A. Jehoahaz).
And there’s a king between Jehoiakim and Zedekiah. That’s Jehoiachin (A.K.A. Jeconiah or Coniah).
And then there’s not a king after Zedekiah but a Babylonian-appointed governor named Gedaliah. A man named Ishmael follows and lastly we have a Johanan. These last three were not kings, but did have some form of ruling power over the Jews after the Babylonian exile.
The Longer List of Kings
So, the longer list of kings looks like this:
- (Maybe Gedaliah and Ishmael and Johanan)
Now that we have our complete list of kings, let’s remind ourselves of some facts about these six men.
First, Josiah was 8 years old when he assumed the throne (2 Kings 22:1; 2 Chronicles 34:1). He was king for 31 years. He died battling Pharaoh of Egypt at Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29).
Then Shallum or Jehoahaz his son was made king (2 Chronicles 36:1). He was 23 years old at that point (2 Chronicles 36:1). He reigned for only 3 months and was then exiled to Egypt by the Pharaoh (2 Chronicles 36:3).
Pharaoh then set up Eliakim or Jehoiakim a son of Josiah to be king at the age of 25 (2 Chronicles 36:4). He ruled 11 years (2 Chronicles 36:5). Then he was exiled to – not Egypt like what happened to Shallum/Jehoahaz – but to Babylon with some Temple things (2 Chronicles 36:6-7). His death is mysterious and we don’t seem to know how it happened.
Then Jehoiachin the son of Jehoiakim was made king. He was 18 years old at that point. And he reigned only 3 months and 10 days (2 Chronicles 36:9). He was then exiled to Babylon with some more Temple stuff, 10,000 people, 7,000 soldiers, 1,000 craftsmen, and all the best warriors. Only the poorest were left.
Jehoiachin surrendered to Babylon in Nebuchadnezzar’s eighth year (2 Kings 24:12). We see him in the last chapter of the book of Jeremiah treated well by the king of Babylon (Jeremiah 52:31-34).
In his place, with only losers left in Jerusalem, Mattaniah or Zedekiah was made king of Israel.
Now, in 2 Kings 24:17 it says that Zedekiah was Jehoiachin’s uncle. But 2 Chronicles 36:10 says he was Jehoiachin’s brother. How do we deal with this seeming contradiction?
It’s pretty simple. The term brother [אח or ach] in 2 Chronicles can be more general and refer to kinsman or countryman or relative. So then Zedekiah was Jehoiachin’s uncle – which makes him Josiah’s son.
Zedekiah was 21 years old when he becomes king. He reigns 11 years (2 Chronicles 36:11). Under his rule everything is exiled and destroyed.
And if you’re calculating the years – Jeremiah was probably about fifty-two years old when Jerusalem was destroyed by Babylon in 586 BC.
Then we have Gedaliah, the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan.
Ahikam by the way is a man who delivered Jeremiah from Jehoiakim’s murderous intentions.
Gedaliah reigned – if you can call it that – for two months. Then he was murdered by Ishmael who was from the royal family.
I don’t know that you can say that Ishmael reigned at all in any sort of way. But he was the next man to “rule” the Jews in a twisted sort of way. He ran away with the people to the neighboring nation of Ammon.
And lastly, the would-be hero Jehohanan rescues the Jews from Ishmael. But then he goes against God’s will and brings the Jews to Egypt.
And historically in the book of Jeremiah, that’s the last we know of the Jews and their rulers in the land of Israel.
So, that’s the list of kings who ruled during Jeremiah’s prophetic ministry from 641 BC to some time after the exile in 586 BC.