JEHOIAKIM


JEHOIAKIM (Heb. יְהוֹיָקִם ,יְהוֹיָקִים; "YHWH raises up"), king of Judah (609–598 B.C.E.). Pharaoh Neco made Jehoiakim king of Judah after he captured *Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim's younger brother, who was the choice of the *am ha-areẓ and who reigned for only three months. Jehoiakim, who was 25 when he ascended the throne (according to I Chron. 3:15 he was the second son of Josiah), was most likely selected because of his known support of a pro-Egyptian policy. Jehoiakim's original name Eliakim was changed by the Pharaoh in order to indicate the Judahite king's subservience to Egypt (II Kings 23:34; II Chron. 36:4). Egypt also imposed a heavy tax on Judah – 100 talents of silver and a talent of gold – which Jehoiakim exacted by levying a tax upon all people of the land (II Kings 23:33, 35).

During the first three years of Jehoiakim's reign Judah was a vassal of Egypt, which controlled Syria and Palestine and clashed with the Babylonian forces in the area of the Euphrates River (according to the Babylonian Chronicle). In 605 B.C.E. Babylon defeated Egypt at *Carchemish (II Kings 24:7; Jer. 46:2) and Babylon seized Syria and Palestine. The Babylonian army reached the borders of Judah and apparently took prisoners of war from Judah (Jos., Apion, 1:19). The following year, in the month of Kislev, *Nebuchadnezzar captured Ashkelon and exiled its king. Simultaneously, in the ninth month of the fifth year of Jehoiakim's reign, a fast day of the Lord was proclaimed in Jerusalem (Jer. 36:9). Jeremiah warned the people that the king of Babylon would destroy the land, and indeed after the fall of Ashkelon, Judah, too, came under the Babylonian yoke. According to the Bible, Jehoiakim was a vassal of Babylon for three years before he rebelled (II Kings 24:1). Although the Babylonian Chronicle cites neither the subjugation nor the rebellion of Judah, it does mention the campaign against Syria and Palestine, and a brief expedition against nomadic groups in the sixth year of Nebuchadnezzar's reign. Thus, although Nebuchadnezzar sent troops from Moab, Ammon, and Aram (or, according to the Peshitta, Edom; II Kings 24:2) against the border regions of Judah (cf. Jer. 35:11), Judah was able to continue its rebellion during this period. Only in the seventh year of the reign of Nebuchadnezzar (the 11th of Jehoiakim or perhaps, after his death, during the brief reign of his son Jehoiachin) did the siege of Jerusalem begin. It ended on the second day of Adar, on March 15/16, 597 B.C.E., with the surrender and exile of the new king, Jehoiachin.

The internal political and economic conditions in Judah during this period were undermined both by large-scale military movements along its border and by the incursions of robber bands from the neighboring countries. The persecutions of the prophets, whose influence had increased during the days of Josiah, also sharpened internal conflicts. The book of Jeremiah contrasts Jehoiakim with his pious forbear Hezekiah by telling how Hezekiah reacted piously to Micah's prophecy of doom. In contrast, Jehoiakim persecuted and killed the prophet Uriah the son of Shemaiah, and would have done the same to Jeremiah (Jer. 26). Similarly, Jeremiah 36 contrasts Jehoiakim's lack of contrition upon hearing Jeremiah's scroll with that of the pious *Josiah, who had torn his garments upon hearing the words of the scroll of Torah (cf. II Kings 22:11–14 with Jer. 36:23–24). According to the Book of Kings, Jehoiakim shed much innocent blood in Jerusalem (II Kings 24:4; cf. Jer. 22:17).

II Chronicles 36:6ff. relates that Nebuchadnezzar bound Jehoiakim in fetters in order to carry him to Babylon. A year later he also brought Jehoiachin to Babylon. This version not only contradicts the account given in Kings but also does not appear in the Babylonian Chronicle. Thus, the question remains if the Chronicles' account reflects an oral tradition that did not take into account that the king who surrendered and was exiled was not the same one who had rebelled. In II Kings 24:6 it is related that he "slept with his fathers," indicating that, at least according to this source, he died a peaceful death. Two oracles relating to Jehoiakim's death are found in Jeremiah (22:18–19; 36:30).

[Jacob Liver /

S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]

In the Aggadah

Jehoiakim is portrayed as the very incarnation of wickedness and defiant flouting of God. When he ascended the throne he said: "My predecessors did not know how to anger God." He claimed that his generation, which was in possession of the "gold of Parvaim," did not even need God to provide them with light. He therefore proceeded to flout God's word publicly by engraving the name of an idol (or according to others the name of God Himself) on his person and by the deliberate wearing of sha'atnez, by epistasis, and by incestuous relationships with his mother, daughter-in-law, and his father's wife. He violated women, murdered their husbands, and confiscated their wealth (Lev. R. 19:6; Sanh. 103a). He cut out from the Book of Lamentations all references to God and threw them into the fire (MK 26a). He had a dishonorable death and was even denied honorable burial. When he refused to accede to the Sanhedrin's request to surrender in order to save the Temple, he was seized and let down over the city wall to Nebuchadnezzar, according to one opinion, dying while descending. Nebuchadnezzar then either took him around the cities of Judah in a public triumph, placed him inside the carcass of an ass (cf. Jer. 22:19), or threw him piecemeal to the dogs (Lev. R., loc. cit.). His disgrace, however, did not end there. The grandfather of R. Perida found a skull at the gates of Jerusalem and recognized it as that of Jehoiakim, because the earth refused to cover it when he tried to bury it, and because it carried the inscription "This and yet another." He took it home and placed it in a cupboard. His wife found it, and thinking it to be the skull of her husband's first wife, she threw it into the fire; thus was fulfilled "this" (desecration of his body at death) and "yet another" (Sanh. 82a). Jehoiakim is still undergoing punishment for his sins. Although the Babylonian Talmud does not include him among those who have no place in the world to come (cf. Sanh. 103b), the Palestinian Talmud cites him as an example of one who has forfeited his place in heaven by publicly transgressing the law.

BIBLIOGRAPHY:

Bright, Hist., 303ff.; Malamat, in: BIES, 20 (1956), 179–87; Noth, in: ZDPV, 74 (1958), 133–57; O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament, an Introduction (1965), 296–7, n. 60 (extensive bibl.); EM, S.V. (includes bibliography). IN THE AGGADAH: Ginzberg, Legends, 4 (1947), 284–5; 6 (1946), 379–80; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 168–9. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, II Kings (AB; 1988), 304–8; S. Japhet, I & II Chronicles (1993), 1064–67; J. Berridge, in: ABD, 5:664–66.


Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.