Jehoiakim or Zedekiah?

Michelangelo painting of Josiah, Jeconiah, and Shealtel in the Sistine Chapel

Jehoiakim or Zedekiah?
Jeremiah 27:1 but see Jer 26:1, 28:1 and these chapters

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah … (KJV)
In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah… (NRSV)
— representative of how translations treat Jeremiah 27:1

The Hebrew text in most (but not all) manuscripts of the original language places the name Jehoiakim in verse one of Jeremiah chapter 27. This seems to be a copyist error, as the discussion regards the time frame of Zedekiah, not Jehoiakim, and the chapter refers to Zedekiah elsewhere in verses 3 and 12.

Nevertheless, there are reasonable arguments for retaining Jehoiakim in the locations, namely, because the Hebrew says so, and the possibility that the vision came to Jeremiah prior to his voicing of that vision.

The solution is not clear, but scholarship and translations today tend to prefer a solution of “fixing” 27:1 by replacing the “mistaken, mis-copied” Jehoiakim with Zedekiah.

Our Bible Bit here is simply to point out this anomaly in the various English translations. We will show a variety of 27:1 translation decisions below.

First, the Hebrew from the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartsenia , and its portrayal of “Jehoiakim” in most manuscript evidence:

בְּרֵאשִׁ֗ית מַמְלֶ֛כֶת יְהֹויָקִ֥ם בֶּן־יֹאושִׁיָּ֖הוּ מֶ֣לֶךְ יְהוּדָ֑ה הָיָ֞ה הַדָּבָ֤ר הַזֶּה֙ אֶֽל־יִרְמְיָ֔ה מֵאֵ֥ת יְהוָ֖ה לֵאמֹֽר׃

Where Jehoiakim = yə-hō-w-yā-qim = הוֹיָקִ֥ם

Three Hebrew manuscripts, plus the Syriac and Arabic versions, “fix” 27:1 by replacing “Jehoiakim” with “Zedekiah.” The Masoretic Text (represented above in the BHS), Targum, and Vulgate retain “Jehoiakim.”

The Septuagint Greek eliminates the verse altogether.

John Bright’s translation in the Anchor Bible likewise eliminates the verse. Bright rejects the “fix” solution, declaring (as do others) that the verse is a mistaken copy from 26:1, but continues to say that it is manifestly does not belong, and that its absence is consistent with other introductory lines.

Note that in the next chapter, where 28:1 declares that God spoke to Jeremiah “in that same year, the fourth year of Zedekiah,” this “fourth year” is “that same year” of 27:1. In other words, verse 27:1, if it exists, would also declare the vision to have occurred in the fourth year of Zedekiah.

Bright also points out that translations such as “in the beginning of the reign” are mistaken, and misinterpret a Hebrew technical term referring to the “year of accession” and the practice of distinguishing that portion of regnal term prior to, and following, the turn of the calendar year.


And now the English translations:

Zedekiah
Peshitta
In the beginning of the Kingdom of Tsedeqiah, son of Yoshiah, King of Judea, this message was with Jeremiah from before LORD JEHOVAH, and he said:

Lamsa Bible
IN the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

New Revised Standard Version
In the beginning of the reign of King Zedekiah son of Josiah of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord.

New English Bible
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came from the LORD to Jeremiah:

New Jerusalem Bible
(At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh:)

New International Version
Early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

New Living Translation
This message came to Jeremiah from the LORD early in the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah.

English Standard Version
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD.

Berean Study Bible
At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD.

New American Standard Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying—

NASB 1995
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying–

NASB 1977
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying—

Amplified Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

Christian Standard Bible
At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
At the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD:

Good News Translation
Soon after Josiah’s son Zedekiah became king of Judah, the LORD told me

GOD’S WORD® Translation
When Zedekiah, son of King Josiah of Judah, began to rule, the LORD spoke his word to Jeremiah.

NET Bible
The LORD spoke to Jeremiah early in the reign of Josiah’s son, King Zedekiah of Judah.


Jehoiakim
King James Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

New King James Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

King James 2000 Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

New Heart English Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

World English Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying,

American King James Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

American Standard Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word unto Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

Darby Bible Translation
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

English Revised Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

Webster’s Bible Translation
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah, came this word to Jeremiah from the LORD, saying,

Geneva Bible of 1587
In the beginning of the reigne of Iehoiakim the sonne of Iosiah King of Iudah came this worde vnto Ieremiah from the Lorde, saying,

Bishops’ Bible of 1568
In the begynnyng of the raigne of Iehoakim the sonne of Iosias kyng of Iuda, came this worde vnto Ieremie from the Lorde, which spake thus vnto me:

Coverdale Bible of 1535
In the begynnynge of the reigne of Ioachim the sonne of Iosias kynge of Iuda, came this worde vnto Ieremy from the LORDE, which spake thus vnto me:

Literal Standard Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, this word has been to Jeremiah from YHWH, saying,

Young’s Literal Translation
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah, king of Judah, hath this word been unto Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

Smith’s Literal Translation
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim son of Josiah king of Judah was this word to Jeremiah from Jehovah, saying,

Douay-Rheims Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Joakim the son of Josias king of Juda, this word came to Jeremias from the Lord, saying:

Catholic Public Domain Version
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying:

JPS Tanakh 1917
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, came this word unto Jeremiah from the LORD, saying:

Lexham English Bible
In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah, the king of Judah, this word came to Jeremiah from Yahweh, saying—


And so, there it is.

You might find this graphic helpful. It tries to package the final 23 years of turmoil under four kings into a nice, more or less accurate picture. 🙂 In geopolitical time, the final four kings practiced international gamesmanship while Assyria descended, Egypt descended (but seemed to offer security at times), and Babylon rolled its ascendant power into the region surrounding Judah. In Godly time, the four kings and Judeans widely practiced idolatry and polytheism, which drove Lord God to seek to destroy his city and temple and (for the most part) his people. The kings therefore ignored God, maintained their claims of security under their Jewish identity, kept Jeremiah at arms length, and trusted in geopolitical gamesmanship rather than Godly obedience.


We encourage you to find a good commentary, and read chapters 26, 27, and 28 in Jeremiah. Read especially the first verse of each chapter, and look for mentions of either king in these chapters. Take note also of the “fourth year” statement in 28:1. Pay close attention to the years of events, if your commentary or Bible make note of these.

What does your commentary say about the issues regarding the king — Jehoiakim or Zedekiah — stated in verse one of Jeremiah chapter 27?


God’s blessings to you!

And read the actual Bible for yourself!

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