Fausset's Bible Dictionary


JEHOIAKIM or ELIAKIM ("whom El, God, established") at first; 25 years old at his accession. Second son of Josiah and Zebudah, daughter of Pedaiah of Rumah (Arumah in Manasseh, near Shechem? Jdg_9:41); Johanan was the oldest son. Raised to the throne by Pharaoh Necho, who named him Jehoiakim (whom Jehovah establishes), having deposed Jehoahaz, the people's nominee, his younger brother. (See JEHOAHAZ.) Pharaoh bound Jehoiakim to exact tribute from Judah, for Josiah's having taken part with Babylon against him: one talent of gold and 100 talents of silver (40,000 British pounds). So "Jehoiakim valued ('taxed') the land to give the money to Pharaoh ... he exacted the silver and gold of every one according to his valuation" ("taxation"): 2Ki_23:33-34; Jer_22:10-12; Eze_19:4. In Jehoiakim's fourth year Necho suffered his great defeat from Babylon at Carehemish, wherein he lost his possessions between Euphrates and the Nile, and returned no more to Judaea; so that Josiah's death was not unavenged (2Ki_24:7; Jer_46:2).

The change of Jehoiakim's name marked his vassalage (Gen_41:45; Ezr_5:14; Dan_1:7). The names were often from the pagan gods of the conqueror. In this case not so; the pagan kings Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar made Jehoiakim and Zedekiah ("Jehovah's righteousness") confirm their covenant of subjection with the seal of Jehovah's name, the Jews' own God, by whom they had sworn fealty. Jehoiakim reigned 11 years, doing evil throughout, as his forefathers before him. "His eyes and heart were only for covetousness, shedding innocent blood, oppression, and violence" (Jer_22:13-17). "He built his house by unrighteousness and wrong, using his neighbour's service without wages," using his people's forced labour to build himself a splendid palace, in violation of Lev_19:13; Deu_24:14-15; compare Mic_3:10; Hab_2:9; Jam_5:4.

God will repay those who repay not their neighbour's work. His "abominations which he did, and that which was found in him," are alluded to 2Ch_36:6. God finds all that is in the sinner (Jer_17:11; Jer_23:24). Sad contrast to his father Josiah, who "did justice, and it was well with him." Nebuchadnezzar from Carchemish marched to Jerusalem, and fettered him as Pharaoh Necho's tributary, in the third (Dan 1) or fourth year of his reign (the diversity being caused by reckoning Jehoahaz' reign as a year, or not), intending to take him to Babylon; bat afterward for the sake of his former ally Josiah, his father, restored him as a vassal. At this time Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah, were taken to Babylon. Three years subsequently Jehoiakim rebelled with characteristic perfidy, sacrificing honour and truth in order to spend the tribute on his own costly luxuries (Jer_22:13-17). Nebuchadnezzar, not able in person to chastise him, sent marauding "bands" of Chaldaeans, Syrians, Moabites, and Ammonites (2Ki_24:1-7).

Ammon had seized on Gad's territory, upon Israel's exile, and acted as Nebuchadnezzar's agent to scourge Judah (Jer_49:1-2; Eze_25:3). Jehovah was the primary sender of these scourges (rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, after promising fealty, was rebellion against God: Jer_27:6-8; Eze_17:16-19), not only for Jehoiakim's sins but for those of his forefather Manasseh, in whose steps he trod, and the "innocent blood which Jehovah would not pardon." Jeremiah (Jer_22:18-19) foretold "concerning Jehoiakim, they shall not lament for him, Ah, my brother! or Ah, my sister!" (his queen, the lamentation of blood relatives for a private individual) nor, "Ah, lord; ah, his glory (the public lamentations of subjects for a king; alas, his majesty), he shall be buried with the burial of an ass, drawn and cast forth beyond the gates of Jerusalem"; again, Jer_36:30, "he shall have none to sit (i.e. firmly established and continuing) upon the throne of David (for his son Jeconiah's reign of three months is counted as nothing, and Zedekiah was not his son but uncle); his dead body shall be cast out in the day to the heat, and in the night to the frost." (See JECONIAH.)

Jehoiakim was probably slain in a battle with Nebuchadnezzar's Chaldean and other "bands," and had no burial; possibly his own oppressed subjects slew him, and "cast out" his body to conciliate his invaders. Nor is this inconsistent with "Jehoiakim slept with his fathers" (2Ki_24:6); it simply expresses his death, not his burial with his royal ancestors (Psa_49:16); "slept with his fathers" and "buried with his fathers" are found distinct (2Ki_15:38; 2Ki_16:20). He reigned 11 years. Early in his reign (Jer_26:1-20, etc.) Jehoiakim showed his vindictive malice against Jehovah's prophets. Urijah, son of Shemaiah, of Kirjath Jearim, prophesied against Jerusalem and Judah in the name of Jehovah thereupon Jehoiakim sought to kill him; he fled to Egypt, but Jehoiakim sent Elnathan of Achbor, and men with him, who brought Urijah back from Egypt, the Egyptian king allowing his vassal Jehoiakim to do so. Jehoiakim "slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people," instead of burial in the cemetery of the prophets (Mat_23:29).

Jehoiakim gained by it only adding sin to sift, as the argument of the elders in Jeremiah's behalf implies, the notorious prostration of the state at the time intimating that heavier vengeance would ensue if Jeremiah too, as was threatened, should be slain. By God's retribution in kind Jehoiakim's own body fared as he had treated Urijah's body. 1 Esdras 1:42 speaks of "his uncleanness and impiety." His intense selfishness and indifference to the people's sufferings appear in his lavish expenditure upon building palaces for himself at the very time the people were overwhelmed with paying heavy tribute to Pharaoh (Jer_22:13-18). His crowning impiety, which had no parallel in Jewish history, was his cutting up, and burning in the fire before him, the written roll of Jeremiah's inspired prophecies (Jeremiah 36). Jeremiah being "shut up," i.e. prevented by fear of the king, sent Baruch to read them to the people assembled out of Judah to the Lord's house on the fasting day.

"In the fifth year of Jehoiakim they (the princes) proclaimed a fast to all the people," or (Michaelis) "all the people proclaimed a fast"; in either reading Jehoiakim had no share in appointing it, but chose this season of all seasons to perpetrate such an audacious act. On hearing of the roll, Jehoiakim sent Jehudi his ready tool to fetch it from Elishama the scribe's chamber; for sinners fleeing from God yet, by an involuntary instinct, seek to hear His words against them. Then, as often as Jehudi read three or four columns of the long roll, Jehoiakim cut the parts read consecutively, until all was destroyed. Yet he and his servants "were not afraid," a contrast even to the princes who "were afraid both one and other when they had heard all the words"; a still sadder contrast to his father Josiah whose "heart was tender," and who "rent his clothes" on hearing the words of the law just found (2Ki_22:11; 2Ki_22:13; 2Ki_22:19-20).

Even Elnathan, who had been his tool against Urijah, recoiled from this, and interceded with Jehoiakim not to burn the roll; but he would not hear, nay even commanded his minions to apprehend Baruch and Jeremiah: but the Lord hid them (Psa_31:20; Psa_83:3; Isa_26:20). Judicial blindness and reprobation! The roll was rewritten, not one word omitted, and with awful additions (Mat_5:18; Act_9:5; Act_5:39; Rev_22:19); his body should be exposed to the sun's "heat," even as he had exposed the roll to be burnt by the heat of the fire. Sinners only gain additional punishment by fighting with God's word, which is a sharp sword; they cut themselves, when trying to cut it. Compare the rewriting of the law's two tables (Exo_34:15-16; Exo_31:18; Exo_34:1-23; Deu_31:9). The two-edged sword of God's Spirit converts the humble and tender as Josiah, draws out the latent hatred of the ungodly as J. (2Co_2:15-16; Heb_4:12-13). Jehoiakim reigned from 609 B.C. to 598 B.C.


Taken from: Fausset's Bible Dictionary by Andrew Robert Fausset (1821-1910)