Who was Eliakim (Jehoiakim)?
After the capture of Jehoahaz, Pharaoh Neco appointed Eliakim, the twenty-five year old son of Josiah, king over Judah and changed his name to Jehoiakim (2 Kings 23:34 and 36 and 2 Chronicles 36:4). Notice that Pharaoh Neco appointed Jehoiakim to reign “in the place of Josiah his father” (2 Kings 23:34) rather than in the place of Jehoahaz. This suggests that Pharaoh never recognized or acknowledged Jehoahaz’s succession. Like so many before him, Jehoiakim also “did evil in the sight of the Lord” (2 Kings 23:37 and 2 Chronicles 36:5). During his eleven-year reign he taxed the people of Judah in order to pay tribute to Pharaoh Neco. Read Jeremiah 36 to learn of the account of Jehoiakim burning the scroll of Jeremiah, which contained a call from God to repentance.
Practical Consideration: God’s Word is indestructible.
When the scroll containing the words which God had spoken to Jeremiah “concerning Israel, and concerning Judah, and concerning all the nations” (Jeremiah 36:2) was read in the presence of Jehoiakim, “the king and all his servants who heard all these words were not afraid, nor did they rend their garments” (Jeremiah 36:24). Instead, the king showed his disrespect for the word of God by burning the scroll (Jeremiah 36:23 and 27). Perhaps he thought he could abrogate God’s Word by burning it. How wrong he was.
Jeremiah dictated the words of the Lord to Baruch once again, with an added message about the fate of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:27-32). Men do not break God’s Word, they only break themselves against it. Isaiah reminds us, “The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever” (Isaiah 40:8).
Note: The name Eliakim means “whom God has set.” The name Jehoiakim means “whom Jehovah has set.” Some suggest that Neco made the following distinction: He felt that God (El) was a supreme being but that Jehovah (Yah) was merely a local deity. Therefore he changed Eliakim’s name to Jehoiakim to show his (Neco) authority over him (Jehoiakim).
What problems did he encounter during his reign?
The Babylonians gained military momentum during his reign and spread their empire as far as Egypt (2 Kings 24:7). Jehoiakim became a vassal of the Babylonian Empire for a period of three years (2 Kings 24:1). When Jehoiakim rebelled against Babylon, they, along with other nations, swept into Judah “to destroy it, according to the word of the Lord” (2 Kings 24:2-4). Nebuchadnezzar took Jehoiakim captive to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6). The Babylonian king also plundered the house of the Lord (2 Chronicles 36:7). It was at this time that Daniel and his friends were taken into exile by the Babylonians (see Daniel 1:1-7).
Practical Consideration: When God is not for you, you are at the mercy of those who are against you.
Judah’s last kings were not concerned about pleasing God. They persisted in leading the nation in a way contrary to God’s will. As a result, God marked them for destruction and allowed their enemies to harass them. In the final years of the kingdom of Judah, the nation was unable to withstand even the attacks of marauding bands from the surrounding nations. It was also unable to stand against the Babylonian war machine. A nation without God is defenseless.
Who was Jehoiachin?
Jehoiachin, the son of Jehoiakim, became king over Judah at the age of eighteen (2 Kings 24:8). His three-month reign was also characterized by evil (2 Kings 24:9). He is also known as Coniah in Scripture (Jeremiah 22:24). Read Jeremiah 22:24-30 for more information on Jehoiachin, the last king in a direct line from Solomon to rule over Judah.
What problems did he encounter during his reign?
During the reign of Jehoiachin, Nebuchadnezzar besieged Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:10-11 and 2 Chronicles 36:10a). During the siege, Jehoiachin, his family, and his leaders, surrendered to the Babylonians (2 Kings 24:12) and were taken away into exile along with thousands of others (2 Kings 24:14-16). Only the poorest people of the land were left behind (2 Kings 24:14). Nebuchadnezzar also took with him the treasures of the house of the Lord and of the king’s house (2 Kings 24:13). Jehoiachin remained in prison until Evil-merodach became king of Babylon (2 Kings 25:27). Jehoiachin remained a house prisoner and was treated kindly by the Babylonian monarch until his (Jehoiachin’s) death (2 Kings 25:28-30).
Who became king over Judah after Jehoiachin’s surrender?
Nebuchadnezzar appointed Mattaniah, Jehoiachin’s twenty-one year old uncle, king over Judah and changed his name to Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17-18 and 2 Chronicles 36:10b). In typical fashion, he too, did evil in the Lord’s sight and showed no respect for God, God’s Word, or God’s prophets (2 Kings 24:19 and 2 Chronicles 36:11-16). He too, rebelled against Nebuchadnezzar (2 Kings 24:20).