Jehoiachin, the Bible, and Archaeology
For centuries, God had warned the sinful nation of Judah to turn from its wicked, idolatrous ways. Judah refused, and strayed farther from the true God. Due to Judah’s immoral, rebellious behavior, God sent His prophets to foretell the nation’s destruction and exile at the hands of the Babylonians. Just as God had predicted, the Babylonians crushed the forces of Judah and took them into exile.
The ruling king of Judah at the time of the Babylonian invasion was an 18-year-old young man named Jehoiachin. His brief reign of three months is chronicled in 2 Kings 24:12-15. The text states that he did evil in the sight of the Lord and that the Babylonian king (Nebuchadnezzar) came against the capital city of Jerusalem and besieged it. In response to this siege, the text states: “Then Jehoiachin king of Judah, his mother, his servants, his princes, and his officers went out to the king of Babylon; and the king of Babylon, in the eighth year of his reign, took him prisoner” (2 Kings 24:12).
Jehoiachin’s miserable state of affairs lasted over thirty years, throughout the entire reign of Nebuchadnezzar. Yet, when Evil-Merodach became king of Babylon, he took pity on Jehoiachin and released him from prison. The biblical text mentions that the Babylonian king “spoke kindly” to Jehoiachin, and “gave him a more prominent seat than those of the kings who were with him in Babylon” (2 Kings 25:28). In addition to releasing him from prison, the Bible says that Evil-Merodach gave Jehoiachin a set amount of provisions: “And as for his provisions, there was a regular ration given him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life” (2 Kings 25:30).
These rations given to Jehoiachin have become increasingly important in light of an interesting archaeological discovery. Several administrative documents have been found in ancient Babylon that record events and transactions that took place during the reign of Evil-Merodach. These documents were preserved on clay cuneiform tablets, of which many have been found broken into several pieces. Jehoiachin’s name, however, is clearly legible on the tablets. Not only is he mentioned, but documentation for an allotment of grain, oil, and foodstuffs also is also provided. Alfred J. Hoerth mentions the find in his book Archaeology and the Old Testament and includes a picture of the cuneiform tablet that mentions Jehoiachin (1998, pp. 378-379).
The significance of this find is not lost on the observant reader. The Bible mentions Jehoichin’s captivity and subsequent elevation and daily rations at the hand of Evil-Merodach. The secular record uncovered in the ruins of ancient Babylon verifies the facts to an exacting degree. Biblical accuracy is unparalleled by any ancient or modern book in existence. Only due to the superintending of a divine hand could a book as extensive, exhaustive, and historically infallible as the Bible have been produced.
Hoerth, Alfred J. (1998), Archaeology and the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
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