Jeconiah also known as Coniah and as Jehoiachin ( jəhoːjɔːxiːn; ; ), was a king of Judah who was dethroned by the King of Babylon in the 6th Century BCE and was taken into captivity. Most of what is known about Jeconiah is found in the Hebrew Bible
Hebrew Bible
The Hebrew Bible is a term used by biblical scholars outside of Judaism to refer to the Tanakh , a canonical collection of Jewish texts, and the common textual antecedent of the several canonical editions of the Christian Old Testament...

. After many excavations in Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

, records of Jeconiah's existence have been unearthed, such as the Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets
Jehoiachin's Rations Tablets
Jehoiachin's rations tablets date from the 6th century BC and describe the rations set aside for a royal captive identified with Jehoiachin, king of Judah.Tablets from the royal archives of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon were unearthed in the ruins of Babylon that contain food rations paid to...

. These tablets were excavated near the Ishtar Gate
Ishtar Gate
The Ishtar Gate was the eighth gate to the inner city of Babylon. It was constructed in about 575 BC by order of King Nebuchadnezzar II on the north side of the city....

 in Babylon and have been dated to c. 592 BC. Written in Cuneiform, they mention Jeconiah ("Ia-'-ú-kinu") and his five sons as recipients of food ration in Babylon. Comparing Babylonian records with date references found in Hebrew biblical texts, the length of Jeconiah's captivity can accurately be determined. To some extent, even the dating of the Fall of Jerusalem can be established to 597 BCE.

Jeconiah's reign

King Jeconiah reigned three months and ten days, from December 9, 598 to March 15/16, 597 BCE. He succeeded his father, Jehoiakim
Jehoiakim .On Josiah's death, Jehoiakim's younger brother Jehoahaz was proclaimed king, but after three months pharaoh Necho II deposed him and replaced him with the eldest son, Eliakim, who adopted the name Jehoiakim and became king at the age of twenty-five...

, King of Judah in December 598, after raiders from surrounding lands invaded Jerusalem and killed Jehoiakim, his father. It is likely that the King of Babylon was behind this effort, as a response to Jehoiakim's revolt, starting sometime after 601 BCE. Three months and ten days after Jeconiah was established King, the armies of Nebuchadnezzar II seized Jerusalem that following spring. The intention was to take high class Judian captives
Babylonian captivity
The Babylonian captivity was the period in Jewish history during which the Jews of the ancient Kingdom of Judah were captives in Babylon—conventionally 587–538 BCE....

 and assimilate them into Babylonian society. On March 15/16th, 597 BCE, Jeconiah, his entire household and three thousand prestigious Jews, were exiled to Babylon.

Age discrepancy

Comparing certain sources, there is an age discrepancy as to how old Jeconiah was when he began his rule. Masoretic Text
Masoretic Text
The Masoretic Text is the authoritative Hebrew text of the Jewish Bible and is regarded as Judaism's official version of the Tanakh. While the Masoretic Text defines the books of the Jewish canon, it also defines the precise letter-text of these biblical books, with their vocalization and...

 versions of say that his rule began at the age of eighteen. The Septuagint and Syriac versions of , have his rulership starting at the age of eight. Of the Vulgate
The Vulgate is a late 4th-century Latin translation of the Bible. It was largely the work of St. Jerome, who was commissioned by Pope Damasus I in 382 to make a revision of the old Latin translations...

, Challenor's note in the Douay-Rheims Bible, reconciles this discrepancy: "He was associated by his father to the kingdom, when he was but eight years old; but after his father's death, when he reigned alone, he was eighteen years old."

During exile

After being deposed as king, Jeconiah's uncle, Zedekiah
Zedekiah or Tzidkiyahu was the last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon. He was installed as king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, after a siege of Jerusalem to succeed his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and...

, was allowed by Nebuchadnezzar, to rule Judah. However, while in captivity, the deported Jews still regarded Jeconiah as their legitimate king. Jeconiah would later be regarded as the first of the exilarch
Exilarch refers to the leaders of the Diaspora Jewish community in Babylon following the deportation of King Jeconiah and his court into Babylonian exile after the first fall of Jerusalem in 597 BCE and augmented after the further deportations following the destruction...

s. Even in the book of Ezekiel
Book of Ezekiel
The Book of Ezekiel is the third of the Latter Prophets in the Hebrew Bible, following the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah and preceding the Book of the Twelve....

, the author refers to Jeconiah as king and dates certain events by the number of years he was in exile. The author identifies himself as Ezekiel
Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

, a contemporary of Jeconiah, and he never mentions, by name, the successor to the Kingdom of Judah: Zedekiah.

Release from captivity

According to , Jeconiah was released from prison "in the 37th year of the exile", in the year that Amel-Marduk
Amel-Marduk Amel-Marduk Amel-Marduk (Akk.: Amēl-Marduk, 'man of Marduk' (died 560 BC) was the son and successor of Nebuchadrezzar, king of Babylon. He reigned only two years, 562 - 560 BC.- Biography :...

 (Evil-Merodach) came to the throne. The reference to "the year of the exile" is a reference to an era year number, and not an anniversary period, with the years running in accordance with the Hebrew calendar
Hebrew calendar
The Hebrew calendar , or Jewish calendar, is a lunisolar calendar used today predominantly for Jewish religious observances. It determines the dates for Jewish holidays and the appropriate public reading of Torah portions, yahrzeits , and daily Psalm reading, among many ceremonial uses...

 from autumn 1 Tishri, the start of the Hebrew civil or regnal year.

Babylonian records show that Amel-Marduk began his reign in October 562 BCE. However, the Babylonian regnal year began on 1 Nisan (in the spring), so that Amel-Marduk's accession year officially started on 1 Nisan 562. According to , Jeconiah was released from prison "on the 27th day of the twelfth month". However, it is not clear whether the Judahite or Babylonian year is being referred to. If Amel-Marduk's accession year was being referred to, the date of release would fall in the spring of 561 BCE. This would result in the first year of captivity being 598/597 BCE, according to Judah's Tishri-based calendar, so that his release from prison "in the 37th year" could be in the 562/561 BCE Tishri-based year.


Jeconiah was the son of Jehoiakim with Nehushta, the daughter of Elnathan of Jerusalem. He had at least seven children: Shealtiel
Shealtiel or Greek-derived variant Salathiel was the son of Jeconiah, king of Judah. The Gospels also list Shealtiel as the son of Jeconiah, while lists him as the son of an otherwise unknown man named Neri...

, Malkiram, Pedaiah, Shenazzar, Jekamiah, Hoshama and Nedabiah. Matthew 1:11
Matthew 1:11
Matthew 1:11 is the eleventh verse of the first chapter of the Gospel of Matthew in the New Testament. The verse is part of the section where the genealogy of Joseph, the father of Jesus, is listed...

 lists Josiah
Josiah or Yoshiyahu or Joshua was a king of Judah who instituted major reforms. Josiah is credited by most historians with having established or compiled important Jewish scriptures during the Deuteronomic reform that occurred during his rule.Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after...

 as the father of Jeconiah: "Josiah became the father of Jeconiah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile." It has been suggested that the word "son" here should be taken in the sense of "grandson," since says his father was Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah. A list of his descendants is given in .


Jeremiah (22:28-30) cursed Jeconiah that none of his descendants would ever sit on the throne of Israel:
Thus says the LORD: 'Write this man down as childless, A man who shall not prosper in his days; For none of his descendants shall prosper, Sitting on the throne of David, And ruling anymore in Judah.'"

Jeconiah is one of the kings mentioned in the genealogy of Jesus
Genealogy of Jesus
The genealogy of Jesus is described in two passages of the Gospels: Luke 3:23–38 and Matthew 1:1–17.* Matthew's genealogy commences with Abraham and then from King David's son Solomon follows the legal line of the kings through Jeconiah, the king whose descendants were cursed, to Joseph, legal...

 in the Gospel of Matthew
Gospel of Matthew
The Gospel According to Matthew is one of the four canonical gospels, one of the three synoptic gospels, and the first book of the New Testament. It tells of the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth...

, and after Jeconiah the genealogical line continues through his son, Shealtiel
Shealtiel or Greek-derived variant Salathiel was the son of Jeconiah, king of Judah. The Gospels also list Shealtiel as the son of Jeconiah, while lists him as the son of an otherwise unknown man named Neri...

. Jeconiah does not feature as one of the blood-ancestors of Jesus in Luke's genealogy which follows the line from Nathan (son of David)
Nathan (son of David)
Nathan was the third of four sons born to King David and Bathsheba in Jerusalem. He was an older brother of Solomon.In the New Testament, the genealogy of Jesus according to the Gospel of Luke traces Jesus' lineage back to King David through the line of Nathan, although the Gospel of Matthew...

 to Heli
Heli (Bible)
Heli is a Biblical individual mentioned in Luke 3:23 whom many Protestant scholars consider is the father of Mary, mother of Jesus.The Lukan genealogy mentions Joseph, not Mary, but does not have the word "son of" in the Greek text, leading to the suggestion that "son-in-law" of Heli is...

. However, because of this curse upon Jeconiah, Joseph would never be able to sit upon the throne of David, nor have any of his blood-descendants sit upon the throne of David.

Dating Jeconiah's reign

The Babylonian Chronicles
Babylonian Chronicles
The Babylonian Chronicles are many series of tablets recording major events in Babylonian history. They are thus one of the first steps in the development of ancient historiography...

 establish that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem the first time on 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC. Before Wiseman's publication of the Babylonian Chronicles in 1956, Thiele had determined from Biblical texts that Nebuchadnezzar's initial capture of Jerusalem and its king Jeconiah occurred in the spring of 597 BC, whereas Kenneth Strand points out that other scholars, including Albright, more frequently dated the event to 598 BC. This is one of several instances cited by Strand showing that Thiele's approach of starting with the Biblical texts and assuming they were correct until proven otherwise, combined with his extensive knowledge of the recording methods of ancient historians, produced results that were useful in correcting dates derived from secular history.

Assuming that Jeconiah's reign ended on the day that the Babylonians captured Jerusalem the first time, 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC, and further assuming that the Jewish calendar in the sixth century BC had the same number of days in the two preceding months as in the modern Jewish calendar, Jehoiachin's reign of three months and ten days would have started on 21 Heshvan (9 December) 598 BC.

Thiele's dates

As quoted above, Thiele said that the 25th anniversary of Jeconiah's captivity was April 25, 573 BC (10 Nisan 573), implying that he began the trip to Babylon on 10 Nisan 597, 24 years earlier. His reasoning in arriving at this exact date was based on Ezekiel 40:1, where Ezekiel, without naming the month, says it was the tenth day of the month, "on that very day," an expression that Thiele knew marked something important. Since this fit with his idea that Jeconiah's (and Ezekiel's) trip to Babylon began a month later than the capturing of the city, thus allowing a new Nisan-based year to begin, Thiele took these words in Ezekiel as referring to the day in which the captivity or exile proper began. He therefore ended Jehoiachin's reign of three months and ten days on this date. The dates he gives for Jeconiah's reign are then: 21 Heshvan (9 December) 598 BC to 10 Nisan (22 April) 597 BC.

Thiele's reasoning in this regard has been criticized by Rodger C. Young, who advocates the 587 date for the fall of Jerusalem. Young points out Thiele's inconsistent arithmetic, and adds an alternative explanation of the phrase "on that very day" (be-etsom ha-yom ha-zeh) in Ezekiel 40:1. This phrase is used three times in Leviticus 23:28-30 to refer the Day of Atonement
Yom Kippur
Yom Kippur , also known as Day of Atonement, is the holiest and most solemn day of the year for the Jews. Its central themes are atonement and repentance. Jews traditionally observe this holy day with a 25-hour period of fasting and intensive prayer, often spending most of the day in synagogue...

, always observed on the tenth of Tishri, and Ezekiel's writings in several places show familiarity with the Book of Leviticus. A further argument in favor of this interpretation is that in the same verse, Ezekiel says it was Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah
Rosh Hashanah , , is the Jewish New Year. It is the first of the High Holy Days or Yamim Nora'im which occur in the autumn...

 (New Year's Day) and also the tenth of the month, indicating the start of a Jubilee
Jubilee (Biblical)
The Jubilee year is the year at the end of seven cycles of Sabbatical years , and according to Biblical regulations had a special impact on the ownership and management of land in the territory of the kingdoms of Israel and of Judah; there is some debate whether it was the 49th year The Jubilee...

 year, since only in a Jubilee year did the year begin on the tenth of Tishri, the Day of Atonement (Leviticus 25:9). The Talmud (tractate Arakin 12a,b) and the Seder Olam (chapter 11) also say that Ezekiel saw his vision at the beginning of a Jubilee year, the 17th, consistent with this interpretation of Ezekiel 40:1.

Because this offers an alternative explanation to Thiele's interpretation of Ezekiel 40:1, and because Thiele's chronology for Jeconiah seems incompatible with the records of the Babylonian Chronicle, the infobox below dates the end of Jeconiah's reign to 2 Adar (16 March) 597 BC, the date of the first capture of Jerusalem as given in the Babylonian records. Thiele's dates for Jeconiah, however, and his date of 586 BC for the fall of Jerusalem, continue to hold considerable weight with the scholarly community. The 586 date for Jerusalem's fall will also continue to be popular with scholars who hold that, for one reason or another, Zedekiah's years must be measured in an accession sense (year one was not until his first full year of reign).

Dating the fall of Jerusalem using Jechoniah's dating

The reign of Jeconiah is considered important in establishing the chronology of events in the early sixth century BC in the Middle East
Middle East
The Middle East is a region that encompasses Western Asia and Northern Africa. It is often used as a synonym for Near East, in opposition to Far East...

. This includes resolving the date of the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar. According to , the city wall was breached in the summer month of Tammuz
Tammuz Tammuz Tammuz (Syriac: ܬܡܘܙ, Hebrew: תַּמּוּז, Transliterated Hebrew: Tammuz, Tiberian Hebrew: Tammûz, Arabic: تمّوز Tammūz; Turkish: Temmuz Akkadian: Duʾzu, Dūzu; Sumerian: Dumuzid (DUMU.ZI(D) "faithful or true son") was the name of a Sumerian god of food and vegetation.-Ritual mourning:In...

 in the eleventh year of Zedekiah
Zedekiah or Tzidkiyahu was the last king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon. He was installed as king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, after a siege of Jerusalem to succeed his nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only three months and...


Historians, however, have been divided on whether the year was 587 or 586 BC. A 1990 study listed eleven scholars who preferred 587 and eleven who preferred 586. The Babylonian records of the second capture of Jerusalem have not been found, and scholars looking at the chronology of the period must rely on the Biblical texts, as correlated with extant Babylonian records from before and after the event. In this regard, the Biblical texts regarding Jeconiah are especially important, because the time of his reign in Jerusalem was fixed by Donald Wiseman
Donald Wiseman
Donald John Wiseman OBE, FBA was a Biblical scholar, archaeologist and Assyriologist. He was Professor of Assyriology at the University of London from 1961 to 1982.-Early life and beliefs:...

's 1956 publication, and this is consistent with his thirty-seventh year of captivity overlapping the accession year of Amel-Marduk, as mentioned above.

Ezekiel , "God will strengthen" , is the central protagonist of the Book of Ezekiel in the Hebrew Bible. In Judaism, Christianity and Islam, Ezekiel is acknowledged as a Hebrew prophet...

's treatment of Jeconiah's dates are a starting point for determining the date of the fall of Jerusalem. He dated his writings according to the years of captivity he shared with Jeconiah, and he mentions several events related to the fall of Jerusalem in those writings. In , Ezekiel dates his vision to the 25th year of the exile and fourteen years after the city fell. If Ezekiel and the author of were both using Tishri-based years, the 25th year would be 574/573 BC and the fall of the city, 14 years earlier, would be in 588/587, i.e. in the summer of 587 BC. This is consistent with other texts in Ezekiel related to the fall of the city. relates that a refugee arrived in Babylon and reported the fall of Jerusalem in the twelfth year, tenth month of "our exile." Measuring from the first year of exile, 598/597, this was January of 586 BC, incompatible with Jerusalem falling in the summer of 586 BC, but consistent with its fall in the summer of 587 BC.

Thiele held to a 586 BC date for the capture of Jerusalem and the end of Zedekiah's reign. Recognizing to some extent the importance of Ezekiel's measuring time by the years of captivity of Jeconiah, and in particular the reference to the 25th year of that captivity in Ezekiel 40:1, he wrote,
Although the Babylonian tablets dealing with the final fall and destruction of Jerusalem have not been found, it should be noticed that the testimony of Ezekiel 40:1 is definitive in regard to the year 586. Since Ezekiel had his vision of the temple on the twenty-fifth anniversary of his and Jehoiachin's captivity (28 April 573), and since this was the fourteenth year after Jerusalem's fall, the city must have fallen eleven years after the captivity. Eleven years after 597 is 586.

The logic here is mistaken. In order to justify his 586 date, Thiele had assumed that the years of captivity for Jeconiah must be calendar years starting in Nisan, in contrast to the Tishri-based years that he used everywhere else for the kings of Judah. He also assumed that Jeconiah's captivity or exile was not to be measured from Adar of 597 BC, the month Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem and its king according to the Babylonian Chronicle, but in the next month, Nisan, when Thiele assumed Jeconiah began the trip to Babylon. These assumptions are not unreasonable, and, granting them, the first year of captivity would be the year starting in Nisan of 597 BC. The twenty-fifth year of captivity would start in Nisan of 573 BC, (573/572) twenty-four years later. Years of captivity must be measured in this non-accession sense (the year in which the captivity started was considered year one of the captivity), otherwise the 37th year of captivity, the year in which Jeconiah was released from prison, would start on Nisan 1 of 560 BC (597 – 37), two years after the accession year of Amel-Marduk, according to the dating of his accession year that can be fixed with exactitude by the Babylonian Chronicle. Thiele then noted that Ezekiel 40:1 says that this 25th year of captivity was 14 years after the city fell. Fourteen years before 573/572 is 587/586, and since Thiele is assuming Nisan years for the captivity, this period ended the day before Nisan 1 of 586. But this is three months and nine days before Thiele's date for the fall of the city on 9 Tammuz 586 BC. Even Thiele's assumption that the years of captivity were measured from Nisan does not reconcile Ezekiel's chronology for the captivity of Jeconiah with a 586 date, and the calculation given above that uses the customary Tishri-based years yields the summer of 587, consistent with all other texts in Ezekiel related to Jeconiah's captivity.

Another text in Ezekiel offers a clue to why there has been such a conflict over the date of Jerusalem's fall in the first place. (NIV) records the following:
In the ninth year, in the tenth month on the tenth day, the word of the Lord came to me: "Son of man, record this date, this very date, because the king of Babylon has laid siege to Jerusalem this very day."

Assuming that dating here is according to the years of exile of Jeconiah, as elsewhere in Ezekiel, the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem began on January 27, 589 BC. This can be compared to a similar passage in (NIV):
So in the ninth year of Zedekiah's reign, on the tenth day of the tenth month, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon marched against Jerusalem with his whole army. He encamped outside the city and built siege works all around it.

The ninth year, tenth month, tenth day in Ezekiel is identical to the period in 2 Kings. In Ezekiel, the years are everywhere else measured according to Jeconiah's captivity, which must be taken in a non-accession sense, so that the beginning of the siege was eight actual years after the beginning of the captivity. The comparison with 2 Kings 25:1 would indicate that Zedekiah's years in 2 Kings were also by non-accession reckoning. His eleventh year, the year in which Jerusalem fell, would then be 588/587 BC, in agreement with all texts in Ezekiel and elsewhere that are congruent with that date.

Some who maintain the 586 date therefore maintain that in this one instance, Ezekiel, without explicitly saying so, switched to the regnal years of Zedekiah, although Ezekiel apparently regarded Jeconiah as the rightful ruler and never names Zedekiah in his writing. Another view is that a later copyist, aware of the 2 Kings passage, modified it and inserted it into the text of Ezekiel. This interpretation would be compatible with viewpoints that maintain that God is incapable of imparting specific information to humans, or perhaps is unwilling to do so, even to His prophets.

Archeological Findings

During his excavation of Babylon in 1899-1917, Robert Koldeway discovered a royal archive room of King Nebuchadnezzar near the Ishtar Gate. It contained tablets dating to 595-570 BC. The tablets were translated in the 1930s by the German Assyriologist, Ernst Weidner. Four of these tablets list rations of oil and barley given to various individuals—including the deposed King Jehoiachin—by Nebuchadnezzar from the royal storehouses, dated five years after Jehoiachin was taken captive.

One tablet reads:

10 (sila of oil) to the king of Judah, Yaukin; 2 1/2 sila (oil) to the offspring of Judah’s king; 4 sila to eight men from Judea.

Another reads,
1 1/2 sila (oil) for three carpenters from Arvad, 1/2 apiece; 11 1/2 sila for eight wood workers from Byblos. . .; 3 1/2 sila for seven Greek craftsman, 1/2 sila apiece; 1/2 sila to the carpenter, Nabuetir; 10 sila to Ia-ku-u-ki-nu, the son of Judah’s king[1]; 2 1/2 sila for the five sons of the Judean king.

Notice how much more Jehoiachin got than everyone else. Obviously he had the king’s favor.
  • This confirms the existence of Jehoiachin.
  • This confirms the Biblical account of his rations.

The Babylonian chronicles are currently housed in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin.

See also

  • Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC)
    Siege of Jerusalem (597 BC)
    In 601 BC, in the fourth year of his reign, Nebuchadnezzar II, king of Babylon, unsuccessfully attempted to invade Egypt and was repulsed with heavy losses...

  • Kingdom of Judah
    Kingdom of Judah
    The Kingdom of Judah was a Jewish state established in the Southern Levant during the Iron Age. It is often referred to as the "Southern Kingdom" to distinguish it from the northern Kingdom of Israel....

  • Elnathan, maternal grandfather who was a high court official

External links

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