(Je·hoiʹa·kim) [possibly, Jehovah Raises Up].
One of the last Judean kings, son of Josiah by Zebidah, and originally called Eliakim. (2Ki 23:34, 36; 1Ch 3:15) Jehoiakim’s bad rule of about 11 years (628-618 B.C.E.) was marked by injustices, oppression, and murder. (2Ch 36:5; Jer 22:17; 52:2) Also, during his reign Judah experienced much harassment from Chaldean, Syrian, Moabite, and Ammonite marauder bands.—2Ki 24:2.
After the death of King Josiah, the people of Judah for some reason constituted Eliakim’s younger brother Jehoahaz king. About three months later Pharaoh Necho (Nechoh) took King Jehoahaz captive and made 25-year-old Eliakim king, changing the new ruler’s name to Jehoiakim. Necho also imposed a heavy fine on the kingdom of Judah. King Jehoiakim exacted the silver and gold for this fine from his subjects by taxation. (2Ki 23:34-36; 2Ch 36:3-5) Despite the financial burden that was therefore already on the people, Jehoiakim made plans for building a new, luxurious palace. Probably to keep down the cost, he oppressively withheld the laborers’ wages. Consequently Jehovah, through Jeremiah, pronounced woe upon this wicked ruler, indicating that he would have the burial of a he-ass.—Jer 22:13-19.
Early in Jehoiakim’s reign Jeremiah warned that unless the people repented, Jerusalem and her temple would be destroyed. Thereafter the prophet was threatened with death. However, the prominent man Ahikam stood up for Jeremiah and saved the prophet from harm. Previously, similar prophesying by Urijah had so enraged Jehoiakim that he had determined to kill him. Although fearful Urijah had fled to Egypt, he did not escape the king’s wrath. Jehoiakim had had Urijah brought back and then had killed him with the sword.—Jer 26:1-24.
The fourth year of the reign of Jehoiakim (625 B.C.E.) saw Nebuchadnezzar defeat Pharaoh Necho in a battle over the domination of Syria-Palestine. The battle took place at Carchemish by the Euphrates, over 600 km (370 mi) N of Jerusalem. (Jer 46:1, 2) In that same year Jeremiah began dictating to his secretary Baruch the words Jehovah directed against Israel, Judah, and all the nations, recording messages that had begun to be delivered from the 13th year of Josiah’s reign (at which time Jehoiakim had been about six years old) onward. Nearly a year later, in the ninth lunar month (Chislev, November/December), the scroll containing the dictated message was read before King Jehoiakim. As soon as Jehudi read three or four page-columns, that section was cut off and thrown into the fire burning in the brazier of the king’s winter house. Thus the entire scroll was committed to the flames section by section. Jehoiakim ignored the pleas of three of his princes not to burn the roll. He particularly objected to the prophetic words that pointed to the desolation of Judah at the hands of Babylon’s king. This suggests that Nebuchadnezzar had not yet come against Jerusalem and made Jehoiakim his vassal.—Jer 36:1-4, 21-29.
Second Kings 24:1 shows that Nebuchadnezzar brought pressure upon the Judean king “and so Jehoiakim became his servant [or vassal] for three years. However, he [Jehoiakim] turned back and rebelled against him [Nebuchadnezzar].” Evidently it is to this third year of Jehoiakim as a vassal king under Babylon that Daniel refers at Daniel 1:1. It could not be Jehoiakim’s third year of his 11-year reign over Judah, for at that time Jehoiakim was a vassal, not to Babylon, but to Egypt’s Pharaoh Necho. It was not until Jehoiakim’s fourth year of rule over Judah that Nebuchadnezzar demolished Egyptian domination over Syria-Palestine by his victory at Carchemish (625 B.C.E. [apparently after Nisan]). (Jer 46:2) Since Jehoiakim’s revolt against Babylon led to his downfall after about 11 years on the throne, the beginning of his three-year vassalage to Babylon must have begun toward the end of his eighth year of rule, or early in 620 B.C.E.
Daniel’s account (1:1, 2) states that Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem and laid siege to it and that Jehoiakim, along with some of the temple utensils, was given into the Babylonian king’s hand. However, the account at 2 Kings 24:10-15 describes the siege of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and shows that Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin, whose reign lasted only three months and ten days, was the one who finally capitulated and went out to the Babylonians. It therefore appears that Jehoiakim died during the siege of the city, perhaps in the early part thereof. Jehovah’s prophecy through Jeremiah (22:18, 19; 36:30) indicated that Jehoiakim was not to receive a decent burial; his corpse was to lie unattended outside the gates of Jerusalem, exposed to the sun’s heat by day and the frost by night. Just in what way Jehoiakim was ‘given into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar’ (Da 1:2) is not revealed. It may have been in the sense of his dying under siege and of his son’s thereafter having to go out into captivity, so that Jehoiakim’s line suffered the loss of the kingship at Nebuchadnezzar’s hands. There is no way to confirm the Jewish tradition (recorded by Josephus) that Nebuchadnezzar killed Jehoiakim and commanded that his dead body be thrown outside Jerusalem’s walls. (Jewish Antiquities, X, 97 [vi, 3]) By whatever means Jehoiakim’s death came, it appears that the copper fetters Nebuchadnezzar had brought along to bind Jehoiakim were not used as planned.—2Ch 36:6.
Following the siege of Jerusalem during Jehoiakim’s “third year” (as vassal king), Daniel and other Judeans, including nobles and members of the royal family, were taken as exiles to Babylon. There being no record of an earlier Babylonian exile, this appears to place the event in the short reign of Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s successor.—2Ki 24:12-16; Jer 52:28.
After Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin surrendered, Nebuchadnezzar elevated Jehoiachin’s uncle Zedekiah to the throne of Judah. (2Ch 36:9, 10) This fulfilled Jeremiah’s prophecy that Jehoiakim would have no one sitting on the throne of David. (Jer 36:30) Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin ruled a mere three months and ten days.