King Jehoiakim - Biography

Chart of the Kings King Jehoiakim - Biography God's Judgment Regarding King Jehoiakim
Previous King: Jehoahaz   Next King: Jehoiachin

King Jehoiakim, 18th sovereign of the separate kingdom of Judah, enjoys the dubious distinction of being the first sovereign of Israelites placed on the throne by a foreign power. When Judah was conquered and King Josiah killed in battle by Egypt, Josiah's son, Jehoiakim's younger brother Jehoahaz, took Josiah's office as king. However, the Egyptian king found Jehoahaz rebellious, refusing to pay the tribute he imposed. So he dethroned him, placing Jehoiakim in power, and giving him that name in place of his original name, Eliakim, as a symbol of Egypt's power over the king of Judah. Jehoiakim paid the tribute, initiating a new tax to fund it.

Jehoiakim was selfish and fully committed to his sin. In spite of the heavy tax burden, Jehoiakim added to the people's burden by building lavish palaces with forced labor.1 He avidly practiced idol worship and the sins associated with it, including human sacrifice.2 God sent the prophets Urijah and Jeremiah to expose Jehoiakim's sins and call him to stop. Jehoiakim went to great lengths to kill Urijah.3 Jeremiah he persecuted. When Jeremiah circulated his prophecies in a hand-written book, Jehoiakim burned the book and tried to imprison Jeremiah, who escaped.4

Egypt's power in Judah was short-lived. Babylon invaded, as prophets had said they would. Jehoiakim submitted for three years, then declared his independence, and so the Babylonian king laid siege against Jerusalem. He intended to capture Jehoiakim and deport him to Babylon, but it didn't work out that way. Jehoiakim's people apparently judged him treasonous, killed him, and threw his body over the wall to appease Babylon.5

Jehoiakim's 18-year-old son Jehoiachin became king in his place. But in light of Jehoiakim's rebellion, God had prophesied6 that his descendents would not reign. Accordingly, Jehoiachin ruled only momentarily, and his royal line came to an end.

Where to read Jehoiakim's story: 2 Kings 23:36 - 24:6; 2 Chronicles 36:5-8

  1 Jeremiah 22:13-14
  2 Jeremiah 19:4-5
  3 Jeremiah 26:20-23
  4 Jeremiah 36
  5 Jeremiah 22:18-19
  6 Jeremiah 36:30

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