How Old Was Jehoiachin, 8 or 18?
2 Chronicles 36:9
"Jehoiachin was EIGHT years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days."
2 Kings 24:8
"Jehoiachin was EIGHTEEN years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months."
This particular "contradiction" is frequently brought up and thrown in the face of the Christian as proof that the Holy Bible is not the inspired word of God. Unfortunately, many Christian websites tell the curious and the skeptics that indeed there are several scribal errors in their bibles.
Apologetics Press -"Even though it is possible to know the ages of Ahaziah and Jehoiachin when they began their respective reigns in Judah, the ages of these two kings in Chronicles are incorrect.
In Gleason Archer's "Encyclopedia of Biblical Difficulties," the author writes, "obviously there has been a textual error committed by the copyist. Another book, "When Critics Ask," also deals with such problems. Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, the authors, give the same answer to the dilemma. They write, "This is probably a copyist error.
A man who writes for Insight Magazine who calls himself Pastor Steve has this to say to a skeptic who writes to him. " But I’m guessing that the “contradiction” you’re pointing out is Jehoiachin’s age when he became king. The King James Version says “eight years” in 2 Chronicles 36:9 and “eighteen years” in 2 Kings 24:8, 9. I usually prefer the New International Version, though, which takes into account ancient manuscripts found since the King James Version was written. The NIV includes with 2 Chronicles 36:9 a footnote explaining that most Hebrew manuscripts record the word “eight,” but one Hebrew manuscript and some Septuagint and Syriac manuscripts record “eighteen.” The Bible isn’t a manuscript free of all typos. Since God’s chosen to communicate His Word through mistake-making humans, there are “errors” or “contradictions.” What’s amazing to me is how much consistency there really is."
Well, what is amazing to me, Pastor Steve, is that this muddled-headed response by a modern version proponent would probably be considered quite sound and charitable by most Christians today.
Notice pastor Steve has no final authority. He "usually prefers" the NIV. Of course, he doesn't believe the NIV or any other Bible on this earth is the infallible words of God, but he does have his "personal preferences". His information is also wrong about the ancient manuscripts. The King James translators knew all about the Septuagint and the Syriac versions. "One" Hebrew manuscript, (unidentified by the way), can say almost anything.
Does Pastor Steve know that the NIV unnecessarily departs from the Hebrew Masoretic text over 80 times in the Old Testament alone? Pastor Steve says: "The Bible isn't free of typos" ?!? Has it ever occurred to Steve that if we can't trust the numbers in the Bible, then how can we be sure about the words that are written between the numbers? When does God start telling the truth?
As for Pastor Steve’s logic in coming to the conclusion there must be errors because God is using mistake making men, did it ever occur to Steve that God also used fallible, sinful men like Moses, David, Solomon, Peter, Paul and John to give us His words in the first place?
I firmly believe the King James Bible is God's preserved, pure, perfect and inspired words in the English language and there are no scribal errors in it at all.
Israel's scribes are legendary when it comes to the precision by which they wrote and kept the scriptures. Bernard Ramm speaks of the accuracy of the Biblical manuscripts, "Jews preserved them as no other manuscripts have been preserved. They kept tabs on every letter, syllable, word, paragraph." They never copied from memory but always looked at each word before writing. If there were one mistake on a page, they started over with a new copy. God has promised to preserve every word. Not one jot nor tittle will pass from the law till all be fulfilled.
We in modern times need to give more credit to the intelligence and editing skills of the Hebrew scribes. There are many other "problems" like this one throughout the histories of Israel's kings. To suggest all of them are copyist errors is almost non-sensical in light of the Hebrew scribal techniques, yet that is exactly what the majority of biblical scholars in our day do.
Brother Elisha Weismann, who is fluent in both Hebrew and Greek, states: “To an English speaking person, you may confuse the chet and miss the yod (chet being 8 and the yod for 10 added to the chet) but a Hebrew speaking/writing person wouldn't miss this from a mile away, and since it was JEWS that maintained the Hebrew texts, I find the argument for "scribal errors" rather silly and sloppy guesswork about an APPARENT contradiction. What these KJVO critics don't realize about transmitting copies is that they think that merely one scribe made the translation and then passed it on. That's not how it works. Even if one scribe would have somehow mistaken the chet (and as I said, NEVER HAPPENS), the likelihood that TWO IN A ROW (the other scribe reading aloud the script and then proof reading the copied text) would have made the same mistake is about as a reliable explanation as the theory of evolution.”
It is clear that the Hebrew Masoretic text says "8 years old" in 2 Chronicles 36:9. The following versions read also 8 and not 18. The Hebrew translations of 1917, 1936, and the 1998 Complete Jewish Bible translation, the Hebrew Names Version, and the 2011 Orthodox Jewish Bible - "Y’hoyakhin was EIGHT YEARS OLD when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Yerushalayim"
Other English Bibles that also follow the Hebrew text and say "8 years old" are Wycliffe 1395, Coverdale 1535, the Great Bible 1540, Matthew's Bible (John Rogers) 1549, the Bishop's Bible 1568, the Geneva Bible 1599, KJB, Webster's translation 1833, NKJV 1982, Young's literal, Revised Version 1885, the American Standard Version 1901, Rotherham's Emphasized bible 1902, the Douay Version 1950, NASB 1963-1995, RSV 1973, NRSV 1989, the 2001 ESV edition, the NEB 1970, Revised English Bible 1989, God's Word Translatiion 1995, the Third Millenium Bible 1998, Green's literal translation 2000, the Names of God Bible 2011, the International Standard Version of 2012 and The Voice of 2012.
Among foreign language Bibles that follow the Hebrew text and read "EIGHT years old" are the Latin Vulgate 405 A.D., the Spanish Reina Valera 1909, 1960, 1995, La Biblia de las Américas 1997, La Nueva Biblia de los Hispanos 2005 and the Reina Valera Gómez 2010 -"Joaquín tenía ocho años cuando comenzó a reinar", the Italian Diodati 1649, Riveduta 1927, Nuova Diodati 1991 and the 2008 Nuova Riveduta - "Ioiachin aveva otto anni quando cominciò a regnare", the French Martin 1744, Louis Segond 1910, the Nouvelle Edition de Geneve 1979, and the French Ostervald 1996 -"Jojakin avait huit ans", the Portuguese Ferreira de Almeida Actualizada, and the 2000 O Livro - "Joaquim oito anos quando começou a reinar", Luther's German Bible of 1545 and the German Schlachter of 2000 - "Es war nach 8 Jahren, dass Jojachin König wurde", and the Romanian Fidela Bible of 2014.
The recent Judaica Press Tanach 2004 follows the Hebrew texts in 2 Chronicles 36:9 saying: " Jehoiachin was EIGHT YEARS OLD when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord."
The Catholic Connection
The Catholic versions are in their usual disarray. The older Douay-Rheims 1610, the Douay of 1950, and even the Jerusalem bible of 1968 followed the Hebrew reading and have "EIGHT years old" in 2 Chron. 36:9.
But then the St. Joseph NAB of 1970 and the New Jerusalem bible of 1985 rejected the traditional Hebrew reading and went with "EIGHTEEN years old". But wait! They are not done yet. Now the 2009 Catholic Public Domain Version of the Sacred Bible has come out, and it once again goes back to the traditional Hebrew reading of "Jehoiachin was EIGHT years old when he had begun to reign". You can see this 2009 Catholic version here -
The versions that have rejected the Hebrew text and followed SOME Septuagint versions (some of them supposedly say 8 while others have 18. The most common Septuagint version is that of Brenton's LXX printed by Zondervan. I have a hard copy of this and it clearly says EIGHT years and not 18!), the Syriac, the NIV, Darby's, New Century Version, Bible in Basic English 1961, Dan Wallace and company's NET version, the Holman Standard 2003, The Message, the Common English bible, the Living Translation, the Catholic St. Joseph New American bible 1970, the Catholic New Jerusalem bible 1985 and the ESV 2007 edition.
The ESV 2001 edition said "EIGHT years old" but then they changed it again in 2007 to "18 years old" after "further scholarly inquiry, don't ya know".
The NIV has rejected the Hebrew text over 80 times, while the NASB has done the same, but not always in the same places, over 40 times, and the ESV more times than them both. The King James Bible is the only major, popular English translation that is based solely on the Hebrew Masoretic text.
Here are two links that show many examples of where the new Vatican Versions like the NIV, ESV, NASB reject the clear Hebrew readings -
So, how do we reconcile the apparent contradiction between 8 and 18? Here are the three best possible explanations I have come across without changing the Hebrew texts nor the King James Bible.
The Geneva Bible notes: "36:9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD. That is, he began his reign at eight years old, and reigned ten years when his father was alive, and after his father's death, which was in his eighteenth year, he reigned alone three months and ten days."
During a monarchy a king would make a son co-regent with him while he was still alive. This practice would assure the king's favored son, (usually the first-born of the favored wife), as being the next king. Some of the kings had more than one wife, and thus several sons from these wives. To prevent civil war and fighting among the family, he would appoint the selected son as co-regent, so when he died, the co-regent son would be in place to take over completely. An example of this is seen in the life of David. In 1 Kings 1 and 2, David in his dying days, called Solomon before him and had the high priest and the prophet Nathan anoint him before the people. David, though he was still king, made his son Solomon co-regent. In 2 Kings 24:8, the biblical record is giving the age of Jehoiachin as 18. The cross reference of "8 years old" in 2 Chronicles 36:9 could be his age when he was made the co-regent with his father.
Brother Jim Gordon offers this very simple and quite possibly correct answer to this apparent contradiction. He says: "2 Chronicles 36:9 says he is but eight years old, which may be reconciled by observing that he might have been made king by his father, in the first year of his reign, who reigned for eleven years. So that he was eight years old when he began to reign with him, and eighteen when he began to reign alone."
This is the view also held by fellow King James Bible believer Dr. Larry Bednar. His article can be seen at his site called KJV Textual Technology - http://www.kjvtextualtechnology.com/--age-of-king-jehoiachin.php
Mr. Bednar writes:
Age of king Jehoiachin
2 Kings 24:8 says Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to rule in Judah, but 2 Chron.36:9 says he was 8 years old at this time. In this matter we learn that Kings is amplified by Chronicles to provide additional information about Jehoiachin's reign.
That this is a typical case of amplification is immediately evident in that Chronicles adds information to the Kings account. Chronicles shows that the 3-month reign of Jehoiachin is a rounded-off figure, the more exact one being 3 months & 10 days. Further, Chronicles adds the detail that the king was taken to Babylon after the end of the year in which he reigned, so there would have been some delay in his removal from the throne and the subsequent departure to Babylon.
In regard to the seeming disparity in the king's age when he began to rule, we note that king Joash (or Jehoash) began to rule Judah at age 7 (2 Kings 11:21; 12:1,2 and 2 Chron.24:1), but he was under the tutelage and control of the high priest Jehoiada, who thus was the real ruler for a time. In similar fashion, Jehoichin would be the official ruler in Judah at age 18, but Chronicles amplification of Kings reveals that his father let him participate in ruling Judah to prepare him for the future, beginning at age 8. Jehoiachin would likely be an unofficial co-regent for a few years, then an official co-regent receiving formal instruction for several years, finally ruling alone at age 18 (after the death of his father) for just 3 months & 10 days. There would then be a delay in taking him to Babylon after his removal from the throne, this occurring at the end of the year during which he reigned. Thus there is no basis to speak of a contradiction in the reported numbers.
Another way of looking at this passage is to view the pronoun "he" in the phrase "Jehoiachin was eight years old when 'he' began to reign", as referring to his father Jehoiakim spoken of in verses 4 - 8. Only in the 2 Chronicles passage is there an antecedent in the previous verse referring to his father.
"Now the rest of the acts of Jehoiakim, 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 Jehoiachin his son reigned in his stead. Jehoiachin was eight years old when he ( Jehoiakim - his father ) began to reign, and he ( Jehoiachin - his son) reigned three months and ten days." The passage in 2 Kings 24:8 where it says Jehoiachin was 18 years old when he began to reign has no such antecedent
The very next verse here in Chronicles contains a similar pronoun "his" that can be misleading. In fact the NKJV, NIV and NASB have all changed or added to the Hebrew text in some way, though they all differ from each other.
The Hebrew text and the KJB say in verse 10: "And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah, HIS brother king over Judah and Jerusalem."
Do the words "HIS brother" refer back to Nebuchadnezzar, so it would be Nebuchadnezzar's brother, or do they refer to the unnamed Jehoiachin? They refer to Jehoiachin, and so his brother (blood relative) Zedekiah was made king. The Hebrew word here is # 251 awkh, brother as found also in verse 4 twice.
The NKJV adds to the Hebrew text by saying; "made Zedekiah, JEHOIAKIM'S brother, king over Judah and Jerusalem." Then it has a footnote telling us the Hebrew literally reads "his".
The NIV changed it to : "and he made JEHOIACHIN'S UNCLE, Zedekiah king..."
While the NASB has "he made HIS KINSMAN Zedekiah king..."
Here the word "his" does not refer to Nebuchadnezzar but rather to Jehoiachin. We thus need to look at the context and the rest of the Bible to determine whom the "he" or "his" refers to.
Jehoiachin's father Jehoiakim reigned 11 years in Jerusalem. 2 Chronicles 36: 5 "Jehoiakim was twenty and five years old 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."
Numbers are often rounded and any part of a year may be counted or not depending on the intent of the writer. An example in this is found in the two passages we are considering. In Chronicles we are told Jehoiachin reigned 3 months and ten days , but in Kings that he reigned three months.
There is no real discrepancy. If you tell me you are 35 years old, and you tell another you are 35 years and 6 months old, we will not accuse you of being a liar.
Another example of a period of 6 months making a change of a full year is recorded in 2 Kings 15: 8 and 13. In the 38th year of king Azariah, Zachariah began to reign in Israel. He reigned only 6 months and was killed. Then in the 39th year of Azariah (Uzziah - same king, different name) Shallum began to reign for one month. Only 6 months had passed but the numbering changed from the 38th to the 39th year of Azariah, king of Judah.
In this same chapter of 2 Kings 15 comparing verses 17 and 23 we see a period of ten years being counted as eleven years when the next king started to reign.
2 Kings 15:17 and 23
"In the 39th year of Azariah king of Judah began Menahem the son of Gadi to reign over Israel, and reigned 10 years in Samaria."
Verses 22, 23 "And Menahem slept with his fathers; and Pekahiah his son reigned in his stead. In the 50th year of Azariah king of Judah Pekahiah began to reign."
Menahem begins to reign in the 39th year of Azariah, reigns 10 years, then Pekahiah begins to reign 10 years later but it is counted as Azariah's 50th year.
This second view suggests that Jehoiachin was eight years old when his father Jehoiakim began to reign, and that he was 18 years old when he himself began to reign for only about three months.
If Jehoiachin were 8 years and a month old when his father Jehoiakim began to reign and he reigned for something like 10 years and 9 months, this would be counted as 11 years, yet when his son Jehoiakim began to reign, he would still be physically only 18 years old. He would be 2 months shy of his 19 birthday.
This explanation may be wrong or it may be correct. I offer it as a possible explanation of what happened. This explanation is quite possible and it keeps the Hebrew reading and the King James Bible reading intact with no contradiction.
Number 3 - This explanation has a lot to recommend it. It is provided by Dr. Floyd Nolen Jones.
6. JEHOIACHIN (JECONIAH) - EIGHT OR EIGHTEEN
Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he began to reign, and he reigned in Jerusalem three months. And his mother's name was Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem (II Ki.24:8).
Jehoiachin was eight years old when he began to reign, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem: and he did that which was evil in the sight of the LORD (II Chr.36:9).
The solution offered, and that preferred by this author in light of that which follows, is that Josiah must have anointed Jehoiachin, his grandson, to succeed him just prior to his encounter with Pharaoh Neco.
Realizing that his sons were wicked, godly Josiah must have hoped that his grandson Jehoiachin (Jeconiah), though only eight years old at the time, would turn out better. As Josiah himself was but eight when he began to reign, he would have few qualms in placing so young a child upon the throne of Judah. Josiah fully realized that he might not return from this conflict with the Egyptians.
In the first place, he was going up against a much larger contingency. Secondly, it had been prophesied that he would die young and also prior to the judgment that God would send upon the Kingdom of Judah (2 Ki.22, 2 Chr.34). Having already reigned thirty-one years, Josiah was now about 39 years of age. Thus he knew that his time was very possibly at hand.
The only Biblical and legal way that a grandson etc., could be made to inherit the throne while his father and uncles were still alive was that of adoption to the status of a full son. (See Gen.48 where Joseph's sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are placed as sons, adopted by Jacob [vs.5, cp. vv.12 and 16 for the ritual] so that they could become equal heirs with his other sons.) It is the contention of this writer that Josiah did adopt and name as his successor young Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) just prior to departing for his fatal encounter with Neco at Megiddo. Moreover, this scenario enjoys Scriptural corroboration:
"And Josiah begat Jeconiah and his brethern, about the time they were carried away to Babylon:" (Mat.1:11).
This Scripture occurs in Matthew's roll of Christ Jesus' ancestors. Beginning with David and Solomon at the sixth verse, it continues through the eleventh listing the kings of Judah in His lineage. Verse eleven asserts that Josiah begat Jeconiah (Jehoiachin being his "throne" name) though he was not his son. Although in a larger Biblical sense, it is permissible to speak of "begetting" descendants beyond the generation of one's own offspring, the context of this "begetting" would have occurred at the time of the adoption. The truth of this is clearly seen in that which follows: "and his brothers".
Now this is indeed very strange, for the allusion is clearly to Josiah's sons and as such, are Jehoiachin's uncles and father -- unless he had been adopted. Then and only then could it be said that Josiah's sons are Jehoiachin's brothers! Lest there remain any reservations, consider:
"And when the year was expired, king Nebuchadnezzar sent, and brought him (Jehoiachin, see vs.9) to Babylon, with the goodly vessels of the house of the LORD, and made Zedekiah his brother king over Judah and Jerusalem" (II Chr.36:10). Again, how can Zedekiah be Jehoiachin's brother? Only by his being adopted to full sonship.
However the people of the land did not abide by Josiah's decision, placing instead Josiah's twenty three year old son Jehoahaz (not his eldest, 2 Ki.23:36) on the throne (2 Ki.23:30). After reigning but three months, Jehoahaz was removed by Pharaoh Neco and carried prisoner to Egypt where he died. Placing the land under tribute, Neco installed Jehoahaz's older brother Jehoiakim (father of Jehoiachin) as his vassal on the throne of Judah (2 Ki.23:33-37) where he reigned eleven years.
Of course, this does not demand that he reigned eleven years to the very day. For example, if he reigned ten years and three months, that would qualify as being "in his eleventh year". Thus, whereby Jehoiachin (Jeconiah) was anointed to be King when but a child (II Chr.36:9), he did not actually occupy the throne until he was eighteen years of age (2 Ki.24:8-12) ˆ a span of eleven years when numbered inclusively.
Moreover, Chronicles is stating the situation as viewed from the priest's/Temple's/God's perspective whereas the Book of Kings is presenting it from the historical political/throne view.
The "discrepancy" or "scribal error" between 2 Kings 24:8 and 2 Chronicles 36:9 is thus resolved. The verses are seen to signify that Jehoiachin's first year upon the throne would have been his "year of accession"; hence he would have been eight during his first official year of reign (Judaic method of reckoning). Thus II Kings 24:8, II Chronicles 36:9, and Matthew 1:11. Scriptures long held by liberals, agnostics, infidels, and most scholars to be in error, when placed together, actually explain, confirm and sustain one another.
Thus, like his "father" David, Jehoiachin was anointed to reign but many years passed before he actually ascended to the head of the Monarchy. The first time "he came unto his own" and presented himself as their anointed King "his own received him not" (John 1:11) saying "we will not have this man to reign over us" (Luke 19:14). The second time, he was welcomed as King, for no one is said to have installed him. Both thereby become types of another and far greater in this same dynasty, even the Lord Jesus, the Christ. Jesus was anointed to rule by the last of the Old Testament prophets, John the Baptist. The Father confirmed the same at that occasion by audibly speaking from heaven (Mat.3:13-17; 11:7-15); yet the Lord Jesus has not yet occupied "the throne of His father, David" (Luke 1:31-32). Dr. Floyd Nolen JonesThe King James Bible is always right,
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