654 Prophet Nahum active?
631 Ashurbanipal, king of Assyria, dies; Babylonians rebel
626 Babylonian general Nabopolassar recognized as king of the Babylonians
Another possible date for Nahum
623 Nabopolassar takes Uruk for the Babylonians
622 Naobpolassar wins Nippur for Babylonia
622 Hilkiah finds Book of the Law; Josiah begins reforms, celebrates Passover as climax of reforms. Late reign of Josiah a possible date for Habakkuk
616 Egypt allies with Assyria by sending aid in Assyria’s fight against Babylonia
615 Nabopolassar fails to conquer cities of Nineveh and Asshur
614 Nabopolassar makes alliance with the Medes with a peace treaty with king Cyxaxerses. The Medes with the Scythians then take Asshur
612 Another possible date for Nahum’s prophethood. The Babylonians and Medes conquer Nineveh, drive remnants of Assyrian leadership into exile in Haran.
610 Nabopolassar attacks city of Haran, drives off Assurballit II, remnant king of Assyria. Neco II becomes Pharaoh of Egypt
609 Assuruballit II, king of Assyria mostly in name, attempts to retake Haran. Neco II marches army from Egypt to aid Assyria against Babylon across Palestine. Josiah meets Neco’s army at Meggido, is killed (perhaps defying Neco, perhaps to give Neco someone more pliable in Judah). Judah crowns Shallum, Josiah’s fourth son, their new king under royal name Jehoahaz. Three months later Neco summons Jehoahaz to him at Riblah in Syria, imprisons him, and puts Josiah’s second son Eliakim, on the throne of Judah as Jehoiakim, imposing tribute on Judah. Jeremiah’s Temple sermon is thought to have been given in Jehoiakim’s ascension year.
jṓ-sī´a (יאשׁיּהוּ, yō’shīyāhū, “Yahweh supports him”; Ἰωσείας, Iōseías; the King James Version Josias (which see)):
I. SOURCES FOR HIS LIFE AND TIMES
II. TRAITS OF HIS REIGN
1. Situation at the Beginning
2. Finding of the Law
3. The Great Reform
4. Disaster at Megiddo
The name given 6 years before the death of his grandfather Manasseh resumes the Judaic custom, suspended in the case of that king and Amon, of compounding royal names with that of Yahweh; perhaps a hint of the time, when, according to the Chronicler, Manasseh realized Yahweh’s claim on his realm (2Ch_33:12, 2Ch_33:13). One of the most eminent of the kings of Judah; came to the throne at 8 years of age and reigned circa 637-608 BC.
I. Sources for His Life and Times.
The earliest history (2Ki_22:1) is dispassionate in tone, betraying its prophetic feeling, however, in its acknowledgment of Yahweh’s wrath, still menacing in spite of Josiah’s unique piety (2Ki_23:26, 2Ki_23:27). For “the rest of his acts” (to which the rather bald account of his death is relegated as a kind of appendix), it refers to “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” In the later history (2 Ch 34; 35), written from the developed ecclesiastical point of view, he is considerably idealized: the festal and ceremonial aspects of his reform are more fully detailed, and the story of his campaign and death is more sympathetically told in the sense of it as a great national calamity.
For the spiritual atmosphere of his time and the prophetic consciousness of a day of wrath impending, the prophet Zephaniah is illuminating, especially for the first half of the reign. Jeremiah, born at about the same time as Josiah, began prophesying in the 13th year of the reign (Jer_1:2). His intimate connection with state affairs, however, belongs to succeeding reigns; but some prophecies of his, notably those revealing his attitude toward the temple misuse (Jer_7:1-15) and toward the Deuteronomic reform (Jer_11:1-13), throw much light on the prevailing conditions. Nahum, writing near the end of the reign, and from an outlying village, is less concerned with home affairs than with the approaching end of Nineveh (fell 606 BC).
In Jesus Sirach’s Praise of Famous Men there is a passage (Sirach 49:1-4), wholly eulogistic of Josiah, on the score that “in the days of wicked men he made godliness to prevail”; and along with David and Hezekiah he is one of the three who alone did not “commit trespass.” Jeremiah’s lamentation for. Josiah, mentioned in 2Ch_35:25, is not preserved to us; instead there is only an allusion (Jer_22:10), naming his successor Shallum (Jehoahaz) as a fitter subject. The lamentations which became “an ordinance in Israel” (2Ch_35:25) are not to be referred to the Scripture book of that name; which has no hint of Josiah, unless Lam_4:20 be so construed.
II. Traits of His Reign.
1. Situation at the Beginning:
Until his 18th year 2 Kings gives no events of Josiah’s reign; 2 Chronicles, however, relates that in his 8th year (at 16 years of age) he “began to seek after the God of David his father,” and that in the 12th year he began the purgation of Judah and Jerusalem. The Chronicler may be mistaken in putting the completion of this work before the finding of the law (2Ch_34:8), but of his disposition and of his beginning without documentary warrant on a work which Hezekiah had attempted before him, there is no reason to doubt. And indeed various influences were working together to make his procedure natural. The staunch loyalty to the Davidic house, as emphasized by the popular movement which seated him, would in itself be an influence to turn his mind to the God of David his father. Manasseh’s all-embracing idolatry had indeed reduced his aristocracy to a people “settled on their lees, that say in their heart, Yahweh will not do good, neither will he do evil” (Zep_1:12); but these represented merely the inertia, not the intelligence, of the people. Over against them is to be reckoned the spiritually-minded “remnant” with which since Isaiah the prophets had been working; a remnant now seasoned by persecution, and already committed to the virtue of meekness (Zep_2:3) and the willing acceptance of affliction as their appointed lot, as against the arrogance of the “proudly exulting ones” (Zep_3:11-13). To such courage and hope the redeeming element of Israel had grown in the midst of a blatant infidelity and worldliness. Nor were they so unconnected with the established order as formerly. The ministers of the temple-service, if not subjected to persecution, had been ranked on a level with devotees of other cults, and so had a common cause which would work to unite the sympathies of priests and prophets in one loyalty to Yahweh. All this is adduced as indicating how the better elements of the nation were ripening for a forward step in enlightened religious progress.
2. Finding of the Law:
The providential moment arrived when in the 18th year of his reign Josiah sent Shaphan the scribe to the temple to arrange with Hilkiah the high priest for the prescribed temple repairs. On giving his account of the funds for that purpose, Hilkiah also delivered to Shaphan a book which he had found in the “house of Yahweh,” that is, in the temple proper; which book, when Shaphan read therefrom to the king, caused the latter to rend his robe in dismay and consternation. It was a book in which were commands of Yahweh that had long been unknown or disregarded, and along with these, fearful curses to follow the infraction of them. Such a discovery could not be treated lightly, as one might spurn a prophet or priest; nay, it immediately called the authority of the prophet into requisition. The king sent a deputation to Huldah the prophetess for her verdict on the book; and she, whether aware of its contents or not, assured him that the curses were valid, and that for impieties against which the prophets continually warned, all the woes written in the book were impending. One of the most voluminous discussions of Biblical scholarship has centered round the question what this book was, what its origin, and how it came there in the temple. The Chronicler says roundly it was “the book of the law of Yahweh by the hand of Moses.” That it was from the nation’s great first prophet and lawgiver was the implicit belief of the king and all his contemporaries. There can be little doubt, judging from the nature of the reforms it elicited and the fact that the curses it contained are still extant, that this “book of the law” was virtually identical with our Book of Deuteronomy. But is this the work of Moses, or the product of a later literary activity? In answer, it is fair to say that it is so true to the soundest interpretation of the spirit and power of Moses that there need be no hesitation in calling it genuinely Mosaic, whatever adaptations and supplementations its laws received after his time. Its highly developed style, however, and its imperfect conformity to the nomadic conditions of Moses’ time, make so remote an origin of its present form very doubtful. It comes to us written with the matured skill of Israel’s literary prime, in a time too when, as we know, men of letters were keenly interested in rescuing and putting to present use the literary treasures of their past. As to how it came to be left in the temple at a time so much before its discovery that none questioned its being what it purported to be, each scholar must answer for himself. Some have conjectured that it may have been a product of Solomon’s time, and deposited, according to immemorial custom in temple-building, in the foundation of Solomon’s temple, where it was found when certain ruins made repairs necessary. To the present writer it seems likelier that it was one of the literary products of Hezekiah’s time, compiled from scattered statutes, precedents, and customs long in the keeping – or neglect – of priests and judges, put into the attractive form of oratory, and left for its providential moment.
3. The Great Reform:
Josiah’s immediate procedure was to call to the temple a representative assemblage – elders, prophets, priests, populace – and to read to them this “book of the covenant” (2Ki_23:2). Then he made a solemn covenant before Yahweh to obey it, and all the people stood to the covenant. So, perhaps for the first time, the people of Judah and Jerusalem had for their guidance not only the case decisions of judges and priests, nor only the emergency warnings and predictions of prophets, but a written and accessible document, covering in a large and liberal way the duties of their civic, social and religious life. One of the most momentous productions of all history, the book became the constitution of the Jewish race; nor were its noble provisions superseded when, centuries later, the tethers of race were broken and a Christian civilization came into its heritage. But the book that was destined to have so large a significance in all coming history had its immediate significance too, and never had this been so pressing. Josiah’s consternation arose from the sense of how much of the nation’s obvious duty had been left undone and unregarded. First of all, they had through heedless years and ages drifted into a medley of religious ideas and customs which had accumulated until all this lumber of Manasseh’s idolatry was upon them. Hezekiah had tried to clear away some of its most crude and superstitious elements, but he was handicapped by the lack of its clear issue and objective, which now this book supplied. Zephaniah too was showing what Yahweh’s will was (Zep_1:2-6); there must be a clean sweep of the debasing and obscuring cults, and the purgation must be done to stay. So Josiah’s first reforming step was to break up the high places, the numerous centers of the evil, to destroy the symbols and utensils of the idolatrous shrines and rites, and to defile them past resuscitation. His zeal did not stop with Jerusalem and Judah; he went on to Bethel, which had been the chief sanctuary of the now defunct Northern Kingdom, and in his work here was recognized the fulfillment of an old prophecy dating from the time of its first king (2Ki_23:17; compare 1Ki_13:1, 1Ki_13:2). This necessitated the concentration of public worship in the temple at Jerusalem, and in Dt was found the warrant for this, in the prescript, natural to Moses’ point of view, that the worship of Israel must have a single center as it had in the wilderness. From this negative procedure he went on to the positive measure of reviving the festival services inseparable from a religion requiring pilgrimage, instituting a grand Passover on a scale unheard of since the time of the Judges (2Ki_23:21, 2Ki_23:22), a feature of his reform on which the Chronicler dwells with peculiar zest (2Ch_35:1-15). Thus both in the idolatries they must abolish and in the organized worship that they must maintain, the people were committed to a definite and documented issue; this it was which made Josiah’s reform so momentous. That the reform seemed after Josiah’s untimely death to have been merely outward, is what might reasonably be expected from the inveteracy of the unspirituality that it must encounter. Jeremiah had small faith in its saving power against the stubborn perversity of the people (Jer_11:1-14); and the historian of 2 Kings intimates that more than the piety of a zealous king was needed to turn away the stern decree of Yahweh’s anger (2Ki_23:26, 2Ki_23:27). In spite of all hardness and apostasy, however, the nation that had once “stood to the covenant” of Deuteronomy could never again be at heart the nation it was before.
4. Disaster at Megiddo:
Ardent and pious as he was, there seems to have been a lack of balance in Josiah’s character. His extreme dismay and dread of the curse pronounced on the realm’s neglect of the law seems to have been followed, after his great reform had seemed to set things right, by an excess of confidence in Yahweh’s restored favor which went beyond sound wisdom, and amounted to presumption. The power of Assyria was weakening, and Pharaoh-necoh of Egypt, ambitious to secure control of Mesopotamia, started on the campaign in which he was eventually to suffer defeat at Carchemish. Josiah, whose reforming zeal had already achieved success in Northern Israel, apparently cherished inordinate dreams of invincibility in Yahweh’s name, and went forth with a little army to withstand the Egyptian monarch on his march through the northern provinces. At the first onset he was killed, and his expedition came to nothing. In his untimely death the fervid hopes of the pious received a set-back which was long lamented as one of the cardinal disasters of Israel. It was a sore calamity, but also a stern education. Israel must learn not only the enthusiasm but also the prudence and wisdom of its new-found faith.
Fausset Bible Dictionary
(“supported or healed by Jehovah”.)
1. Son of Amon and Jedidab; began to reign at eight years old (641 B.C.) and reigned 31 years, to 610 B.C. (2 Kings 22 to 24; 2 Chronicles 34-35). The first 12 chapters of Jeremiah may refer to this period. At the age of 16, “while he was yet young, he began to seek after the God of David his father.” Since Amon was wicked it is likely that Jedidah (“beloved”), like Lois and Eunice (2Ti_1:5), had early instilled into her child pious principles which bore fruit betimes, for in spite of the closing error which cost him his life the Holy Spirit, who remembers the graces and ignores the exceptional fails of believers, testifies “he declined neither to the right hand nor to the left.” At the age of 20, in the 12th year of his reign, he began to purge Judah and Jerusalem of the high places or Asherah, and images of the sun and Baal, and strewed their dust on the graves of their former worshippers.
The events of the purging out idolatry, the temple repair, and the finding of the law, in Kings are arranged according to subject matter; but in Chronicles chronologically. The repairing of the temple recorded 2Ki_22:3-7, in a period by itself, subordinate to the discovery of the law, in the 18th year of Josiah’s reign, must have been chronologically before that date, since in that year the builders were already repairing and the money for the work had been collected by the Levites who kept the door. The abolishing of the idols must have begun before the people made the covenant (2Ki_23:3). The discovery of the law Hilkiah quickened his zeal in abolishing them throughout the whole kingdom.(See HILKIAH.) In 2 Kings their suppression is narrated more minutely, the Passover celebration is summarized; in Second Chronicles their suppression is summarized (2Ch_34:3-7; 2Ch_34:33), but the Passover fully described (2Ch_35:1-19).
Josiah spared not even the high places which pious Hezekiah had left, nor those of Solomon in his apostasy, nor their priests (Chemarim), as Zep_1:4 foretold; also Manasseh his grandfather’s grove (Asherah) in the Lord’s house (2Ki_21:7; 2Ki_23:6). He defiled Tophot in the valley of the children of Hinnom, where the people used to make their children pass through the fire to Moloch; and burned the chariots of the sun, and took away the stored horses, and destroyed Ahaz’ altars on the housetop. (See HINNOM.) He fulfilled on the Bethel calf altar the prophecy of the man of God to Jeroboam, given three centuries before, and declaring his very name (as Isaiah did that of Cyrus ages before), but respected the prophet’s sepulchre (1 Kings 13). His purgation thus extended to northern Israel as far as Naphtali, as well as to Judah. It was in repairing the temple that Moses’ copy of the law, in his own handwriting, or at, least the original temple copy from his, was found. That the law was not previously unknown appears from the king’s conduct on its discovery.
He at once accepted its authority without mistrust as genuine and authentic; and read or caused it to be read in the ears of all the men of Judah, the priests and the prophets (“Levites” in 2Ch_34:30). These too all accepted it, evidently because they and he had always recognized its truths generally (as his extirpation of idolatry already implied), but now he and they are brought into immediate contact, as it were, with Moses himself, through the original temple copy. His tenderness of heart (conscience) and his humbling himself before God with tears and rent garments brought God’s promise through Huldah that he should be “gathered to his grave in peace,” and “should not see the evil God was about to bring on” Jerusalem. It is true he fell in battle; but his remains were (and were the last) buried in his fathers’ sepulchres “in peace,” before seeing the enemy overthrow his capital (compare Jer_34:5; Isa_57:1-2). “Because thou humblest thyself when thou heardest what I spake … I also have heard thee.” God is toward men what they are toward Him (Psa_18:25-26).
In this same year, the 26th of his age, the 18th of his reign, Josiah and his people entered into a covenant to keep the law of Jehovah with all their heart and all their soul (2Ki_23:3; 2Ch_34:31-33). His only fault was his supposition that by frustrating Necho’s expedition to the Euphrates against Assyria he might avert God’s predicted judgment on Judah. He scarcely realized the depth of Israel’s apostasy, and hoped his reformation would enlist God’s cooperation against the Egyptians. Nineveh was falling, if not already fallen. The Syrian princes, those independent as Josiah as well as Assyria’s vassals, hoped now to be free from every foreign yoke; it was therefore necessary now to check the Egyptian, for though Necho was not marching against Judah but against Carchemish by Euphrates, Josiah knew that if once the Egyptians gained Coelosyria his independence would be gone.
Necho appealed in vain to Josiah to leave him alone, as it was “against the house of his war” (his hereditary enemy) that he was marching, and that God commanded him, so that if Josiah interfered he would be “meddling with God.” He thought the reference to God would have weight with Josiah. Of course Pharaoh’s view of the Godhead was distinct from Josiah’s. Josiah forgot his ancestor Solomon’s inspired counsel (Pro_17:14; Pro_26:17). Josiah’s reformation had not removed the deep seated evil (as Jeremiah and Zephaniah testify), so that the deceased Manasseh’s sin, acting still far and wide though hiddenly now, awaited God’s fierce anger on Jerusalem, as he was warned by God through Huldah (2Ki_22:16-20). Hence Josiah was permitted, not without culpability on his part, to meddle in the ungodly world’s wars, and so to fall, and with himself to withdraw the last godly ruler from the people henceforth given over to punishment (2Ki_23:25-30).
Necho came by sea to Palestine, landing at Accho. If he had come by Philistia Josiah would have met him there, and not allowed him to advance to Megiddo. There, in the great battle field of Palestine, Esdraelon plain, Necho, when they met face to face, slew him. Josiah was carried wounded from Hadadrimmon to die before be reached Jerusalem. He was buried with every honour, and Jeremiah composed a dirge, annually chanted at Hadadrimmon (not the “Lamentations” over Jerusalem after its fall). Compare Jer_22:10 “weep not for the dead, neither bemoan him” (namely, Josiah slain at Megiddo or Magdolum in Herodotus); he is at peace. The church, while potent in the world for God, must not descend to the world’s level and use the world’s weapons for even a good end. Her controversy must first be with herself so long as corruption is in her, and then she must yield herself to God to be wielded by Him in the world for His glory.
Antichrist superseding spiritual Babylon appropriately falls at Armageddon, i.e. the hill of Megiddo, the scene of godly Josiah’s fall through descending to the world’s carnal strifes as Babylon’s ally (Rev_16:14-18); the Jews’ future mourning for Him whom they pierced, before God’s interposition against all nations confederate against Jerusalem, answers to their mourning for Josiah at Megiddo (Zec_12:10-11). Josiah’s greatness harmonizes with the parallel decline and fall of Assyria. Josiah exercised a sovereignty over Samaria and Galilee (2Ch_34:6), besides Judah. In 633 B.C. the Medes attacked Nineveh. Then the Scythians (from whom Bethshan got its Greek name Scythopolis) desolated western Asia. Then Egypt cast off the Assyrian yoke, and Psammetik I attacked southern Syria. Finally, in 626 or 624 B.C., the Medes, Babylonians, and Susianians destroyed Nineveh and divided the empire.This gave Josiah the opportunity to free Judah from the Assyrian yoke which his grandfather had borne, and to enlarge his kingdom.
nē´kō (נכה פּרעה, par‛ōh nekhōh, also נכו, nekhō; Νεχαώ, Nechaṓ (2Ki_23:29, 2Ki_23:33, 2Ki_23:34; 2Ch_35:22; 2Ch_36:4, the King James Version, Necho, the Revised Version (British and American) NECO; Jer_46:2; 2Ch_35:20, the King James Version Necho, the Revised Version (British and American) NECO)):
1. Pharaoh-Necoh, 610-594 BC:
Nekau II of the monuments – Greek Nekōs – was the 2nd king of the XXVIth Dynasty, being the son of Psammetichus I, famous in Greek contemporary history, whose long reign has left so many memorials both in Upper and Lower Egypt (Herodotus ii. 153, 158, 169). The great event of his reign (610-594 BC) was his expedition across Syria to secure for himself a share in the decaying empire of Assyria. In the days of Esarhaddon and Ashurbanipal, Egypt had been tributary to Assyria, and, when it began to break up, Egypt and other subject kingdoms saw their opportunity to throw off its yoke. Psammetichus had turned back the Scythian hordes which had reached his border on their western march, and now his son Necoh was to make a bold stroke for empire.
2. Battle of Megiddo, 608 BC:
On his expedition toward the East, he had to pass through the territory of Judah, and he desired to have Josiah its king as an ally. Whatever may have been his reasons, Josiah remained loyal to his Assyrian suzerain, declined the Egyptian alliance, and threw himself across the path of the invader. The opposing armies met on the battlefield of Megiddo, 608 BC, where Josiah was mortally wounded and soon after died amid the lamentations of his people. Necoh marched northward, captured Kadesh, and pressed on to the Euphrates. Not having met an enemy there, he seems to have turned back and established himself for a time at Riblah in Syria. To Riblah he summoned Jehoahaz whom the people had anointed king in room of his father Josiah, deposed him after a brief reign of 3 months, and set his brother Jehoiakim on the throne as the vassal of Egypt. Jehoiakim paid up the tribute of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold which Necoh had imposed upon the land, but he recovered it by exactions which he made from the people (2Ki_23:35).
3. Battle of Carchemish, 604 BC:
The Egyptian monarch still kept some hold upon Syria, and his presence there had attracted the attention of the newly established power at Babylon. The Chaldeans under Nebuchadrezzar set out for the Euphrates, and, meeting the army of Pharaoh-necoh at Carchemish, inflicted upon him a signal defeat. The Chaldeans were now undisputed masters of Western Asia, and the sacred historian relates that “the king of Egypt came not again any more out of his land; for the king of Babylon had taken, from the brook of Egypt unto the river Euphrates, all that pertained to the king of Egypt” (2Ki_24:7).
4. Commercial Development of Egypt:
While Pharaoh-necoh II was ambitious to extend his empire, he was bent also upon the commercial development of Egypt. For this he set himself to collect a navy. He had two fleets built, composed of triremes, one of them to navigate the Mediterranean, the other to navigate the Red Sea. In order to secure a combination of his fleets, he conceived the idea of reopening the canal between the Nile and the Red Sea which had been originally constructed by Seti I and Rameses II, two Pharaohs of the days of the Israelite oppression, but had become silted up by desert sands. He excavated this old canal, following the line of the former cutting, and widening it so that two triremes might meet and pass each other in it. According to Herodotus he was obliged to desist from the undertaking in consequence of the mortality among the laborers, and it was left to Darius to complete. He also resolved to try whether it was possible to circumnavigate Africa, and, manning his ships with Phoenician sailors, he sent them forth with instructions to keep the coast of Africa on their right and to return to Egypt by way of the Mediterranean. They succeeded, and, rounding the Cape of Good Hope from the East, anticipated by two millenniums the feat which Vasco da Gama accomplished from the West. The enterprise took more than two years, and the result of it was of no practical value. Herodotus, when he visited Egypt in 450 BC, saw still remaining the docks which Necoh had built for the accommodation of his fleet.
Flinders Petrie, History of Egypt, III, 335 ff; Wiedemann, Geschichte von Alt-Aegypten, 179-90; Rawlinson, Egypt (“Story of the Nations”), 354 ff; Herodotus ii. 158, 159.
(2) A king of Judah, son and successor of Josiah; reigned three months and was deposed, 608 bc. Called “Shallum” in Jer_22:11; compare 1Ch_3:15. The story of his reign is told in 2Ki_23:30-35, and in a briefer account in 2Ch_36:1-3. The historian o 2 Kings characterizes his reign as evil; 2 Ch passes no verdict upon him. On the death of his father in battle, which threw the realm into confusion, he, though a younger son (compare 2Ki_23:31 with 2Ki_23:36; 1Ch_3:15 makes him the fourth son of Josiah), was raised to the throne by “the people of the land,” the same who had secured the accession to his father; see under JOSIAH. Perhaps, as upholders of the sterling old Davidic idea, which his father had carried out so well, they saw in him a better hope for its integrity than in his elder brother Jehoiakim (Eliakim), whose tyrannical tendencies may already have been too apparent. The prophets also seem to have set store by him, if we may judge by the sympathetic mentions of him in Jer_22:11 and Eze_1:3, Eze_1:4. His career was too short, however, to make any marked impression on the history of Judah.
Josiah’s ill-advised meddling with the designs of Pharaoh-necoh (see under JOSIAH) had had, in fact, the ill effect of plunging Judah again into the vortex of oriental politics, from which it had long been comparatively free. The Egyptian king immediately concluded that so presumptuous a state must not be left in his rear unpunished. Arrived at Riblah on his Mesopotamian expedition, he put Jehoahaz in bonds, and later carried him prisoner to Egypt, where he died; raised his brother Jehoiakim to the throne as a vassal king; and imposed on the realm a fine of a hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. So the fortunes of the Judean state, so soon after Josiah’s good reign, began their melancholy change for the worse.
Fausset Bible Dictionary
3. Son of Josiah; at his father’s death the people took and made him king, 610 B.C., in preference to his two elder brothers, Johanan and Jehoiakim (1Ch_3:15; Jer_22:11; 2Ki_23:30-31; 2Ki_23:36; 2Ch_36:2). Zedekiah, though put before Jehoahaz or Shallum in 1Ch_3:15, was younger; 2Ch_36:11 he is given precedence because of his longer reign, namely, eleven years, whereas Jehoahaz reigned but three months, then was carried by Pharaoh Necho to Egypt, never to return. Jehoahaz, or Shallum, was born of the same mother as Zedekiah, namely, Hamutal; so they are put together, whereas Jehoiakim was son of Zebudah. With Josiah the regular succession of David’s house ceased. The people set up Jehoahaz out of order; Johanan is never after mentioned; the pagan Pharaoh set up Jehoiakim; Nebuchadnezzar Zedekiah.
Jeremiah gave Jehoahaz the significant name Shallum, i.e. “to whom it is requited”; a second “Shallum,” son of Jabesh, who reigned only one mouth in Samaria (2Ki_15:13), instead of Shalom, “peaceful,” like Solomon: bitter irony! The popular party set great hopes upon him (Jer_22:10-12), as though he would deliver the kingdom from Pharaoh Necho, and “anointed” him with extraordinary ceremony to compensate for his defective title to the throne. Eze_19:3-4 compares him to “a young lion” which “learned to catch the prey and devoured men.”
His mother, “Jerusalem,” is called “a lioness,” referring to her heathenish practices in sad contrast to Jerusalem’s name (Isa_29:1) Ariel, “the lion of God,” and Judah, “a lion’s whelp … an old lion” in a good sense (Gen_49:9). Meditating revenge for his father’s death at Megiddo (2Ki_23:29-30), Jehoahaz was carried captive from “Riblah” in Hamath to Egypt by Pharaoh Necho; “they brought him with chains (or hooks or rings, fastened in wild beasts’ noses, appropriate figure as he was compared to a ‘lion’; the Assyrian king literally put a hook through the nose of captives, as appears in the Ninevite remains) unto … Egypt.” “He did evil in the sight of the Lord according to all that his fathers had done.” Josephus says “he was godless and tyrannical (literally, polluted) in disposition.” In 2Ch_36:3 “Jerusalem” is stated to be the place where the king of Egypt deposed him.
Doubtless Pharaoh, having there dethroned him, took him thence to “Riblah.” After his victory at Megiddo, Necho intended to march forward to the Euphrates, but hearing that Jehoahaz had ascended the throne as the people’s favorite, whose leanings would be on the side of Babylon against Egypt, like Josiah’s, he sent a division of his army, which took Jerusalem and dethroned Jehoahaz, and laid a heavy tribute on the land. Eliakim would readily act as his vassal, as owing his elevation to the throne, under the name Jehoiakim to Necho.
Indeed Pharaoh did not recognize the reign of Jehoahaz because elevated without his consent; therefore the words are “Pharaoh made Eliakim king in the room of Josiah his father” (2Ki_23:34). The main army marched slowly to Riblab, his head quarters, and thither he had Jehoahaz brought, then chained and taken to Egypt. The people, feeling Jehoiakim’s heavy taxation for the tribute to Egypt (2Ki_23:35), lamented for their favorite in spite of his faults. Jer_22:10; “weep ye not for the dead (Josiah; 2Ch_35:24-25), (so much as) for him that goeth away; for he shall return no more,” namely, Jehoahaz. Dying saints are to be envied, living sinners to be pitied. Jeremiah’s undesigned coincidence with the facts recorded in the history confirms the truth of both.
jē̇-hoi´a-kim (יהויקים, yehōyāḳīm, “Yahweh will establish”; Ἰωακείμ, Iōakeím): The name given him by Pharaoh-necoh, who raised him to the throne as vassal king in place of his brother Jehoahaz, is changed from Eliakim (אליקים, ‘elyāḳīm, “God will establish”). The change compounds the name, after the royal Judean custom, with that of Yahweh; it may also imply that Necoh claims Yahweh’s authorization for his act, as in a similar way Sennacherib had claimed it for his invasion of Judah (2Ki_18:25). He has represented the campaign with which Josiah interfered as undertaken by Divine command (‘Ēl, 2Ch_35:21); this episode of it merely translates the authorization, rather arrogantly, into the conquered nation’s dialect.
A king of Judah, elder (half-) brother and successor of Jehoahaz; reigned 11 years from 608 bc.
I. Sources for His Life and Time
The circumstances of his accession and raising of the indemnity to Pharaoh-necoh, followed by a brief résumé of his reign, are narrated in 2 Ki 23:34 through 24:6. The naming of the source for “the rest of his acts” (2Ki_24:5) is the last reference we have to “the book of the chronicles of the kings of Judah.” The account in 2Ch_36:5-8, though briefer still, mentions Nebuchadnezzar’s looting of the temple at some uncertain date in his reign. Neither account has any good to say of Jehoiakim; to the writer of 2 Kings, however, his ill fortunes are due to Yahweh’s retributive justice for the sins of Manasseh; while to the Chronicler the sum of his acts, apparently connected with the desecration of the sanctuary, is characterized as “the abominations which he did.” For “the rest of his acts” we are referred, also for the last time, to the “book of the kings of Israel and Judah.”
For the moral and spiritual chaos of the time, and for prophecies and incidents throwing much light on the king’s character, Jeremiah has a number of extended passages, not, however, in consecutive order.
The main ones clearly identifiable with this reign are: 2Ki_22:13-19, inveighing against the king’s tyrannies and predicting his ignominious death; 2 Kings 26, dated in the beginning of his reign and again predicting (as had been predicted before in 2Ki_7:2-15) the destruction of the temple; 2 Kings 25, dated in his 4th year and predicting the conquest of Judah and surrounding nations by Nebuchadnezzar; 2 Kings 36, dated in the 4th and 5th years, and telling the story of the roll of prophecy which the king destroyed; 2 Kings 45, an appendix from the 4th year, reassuring Baruch the scribe, in terms of the larger prophetic scale, for his dismay at what he had to write; 2 Kings 46, also an appendix, a reminiscence of the year of Carchemish, containing the oracle then pronounced against Egypt, and giving words of the larger comfort to Judah. The Book of the prophet Habakkuk, written in this reign, gives expression to the prophetic feeling of doubt and dismay at the unrequited ravages of the Chaldeans against a people more righteous than they, with a sense of the value of steadfast faith and of Yahweh’s world-movement and purpose which explains the seeming enormity.
II. Character and Events of His Reign
1. The Epoch
The reign of Jehoiakim is not so significant for any personal impress of his upon his time as for the fact that it fell in one of the most momentous epochs of ancient history. By the fall of Nineveh in 606 to the assault of Nebuchadnezzar, then crown prince of the rising Babylonian empire, Assyria, “the rod of (Yahweh’s) anger” (Isa_10:5), ended its arrogant and inveterate sway over the nations. Nebuehadnezzar, coming soon after to the Chaldean throne, followed up his victory by a vigorous campaign against Pharaoh-necoh, whom we have seen at the end of Josiah’s reign (see under JOSIAH) advancing toward the Euphrates in his attempt to secure Egyptian dominion over Syria and Mesopotamia. The encounter took place in 605 at Carehemish on the northern Euphrates, where Necoh was defeated and driven back to the borders of his own land, never more to renew his aggressions (2Ki_24:7). The dominating world-empire was now in the hands of the Chaldeans, “that bitter and hasty nation” (Hab_1:6); the first stage of the movement by which the world’s civilization was passing from Semitic to Aryan control. With this world-movement Israel’s destiny was henceforth to be intimately involved; the prophets were already dimly aware of it, and were shaping their warnings and promises, as by a Divine instinct, to that end. It was on this larger scale of things that they worked; it had all along been their endeavor, and continued with increasing clearness and fervor, to develop in Israel a conscience and stamina which should be a leavening power for good in the coming great era (compare Isa_2:2-4; Mic_4:1-3).
2. The King’s Perverse Character
Of all these prophetic meanings, however, neither the king nor the ruling classes had the faintest realization; they saw only the political exigencies of the moment. Nor did the king himself, in any patriotic way, rise even to the immediate occasion. As to policy, he was an unprincipled opportunist: vassal to Necoh to whom he owed his throne, until Necoh himself was defeated; enforced vassal to Nebuchadnezzar for 3 years along with the other petty kings of Western Asia; then rebelling against the latt er as soon as he thought he could make anything by it. As to responsibility of administration, he had simply the temper of a despotic self-indulgent Oriental. He raised the immense fine that Necoh imposed upon him by a direct taxation, which he farmed out to unscrupulous officials. He indulged himself with erecting costly royal buildings, employing for the purpose enforced and unpaid labor (Jer_22:13-17); while all just interests of his oppressed subjects went wholly unregarded. As to religion, he let matters go on as they had been under Manasseh, probably introducing also the still more strange and heathenish rites from Egypt and the East of which we see the effects in Eze_8:5-17. And meanwhile the reformed temple-worship which Josiah had introduced seems to have become a mere formal and perfunctory matter, to which, if we may judge by his conspicuous absence from fast and festal occasions (e.g. Jer 26; 36), the king paid no attention. His impious act of cutting up and burning Jeremiah’s roll (Jer_36:23), as also his vindictive pursuit and murder of Uriah for prophesying in the spirit of Jeremiah (Jer_26:20-23), reveal his antipathy to any word that does not prophesy “smooth things” (compare Isa_30:10), and in fact a downright perversity to the name and w ill of Yahweh.
3. The Prophetic Attitude
With the onset of the Chaldean power, prophecy, as represented in the great seers whose words remain to us, reached a crisis which only time and the consistent sense of its Iarger issues could enable it to weather. Isaiah, in his time, had stood for the inviolability of Zion, and a miraculous deliverance had vindicated his sublime faith. But with Jeremiah, conditions had changed. The idea thus engendered, that the temple was bound to stand and with it Jerusalem, an idea confirmed by Josiah’s centralizing reforms, had become a superstition and a presumption (compare Jer_7:4); and Jeremiah had reached the conviction that it, with its wooden rites and glaring abuses, must go: that nothing short of a clean sweep of the old religious fetishes could cure the inveterate unspirituality of the nation. This conviction of his must needs seem to many like an inconsistency – to set prophecy against itself. And when the Chaldean appeared on the scene, his counsel of submission and prediction of captivity would seem a double inconsistency; not only a traversing of a tested prophecy, but treason to the state. This was the situation that he had to encounter; and for it he gave his tender feelings, his liberty, his life. It is in this reign of Jehoiakim that, for the sake of Yahweh’s word and purpose, he is engulfed in the deep tragedy of his career. And in this he must be virtually alone. Habakkuk is indeed with him in sympathy; but his vision is not so clear; he must weather disheartening doubts, and” cherish the faith of the righteous (Hab_2:4), and wait until the vision of Yahweh’s secret purpose clears (Hab_2:1-3). If the prophets themselves are thus having such an equivocal crisis, we can imagine how forlorn is the plight of Yahweh’s “remnant,” who are dependent on prophetic faith and courage to guide them through the depths. The humble nucleus of the true Israel, which is some day to be the nation’s redeeming element, is undergoing a stern seasoning.
4. Harassing and Death
After Syria fell into Nebuchadnezzar’s power, he seems to have established his headquarters for some years at Riblah; and after Jehoiada attempted to revolt from his authority, he sent against him guerrilla bands from the neighboring nations, and detachments from his Chaldean garrisons, who harassed him with raids and depredations. In 2Ch_36:6, 2Ch_36:7, it is related that Nebuchadnezzar carried some of the vessels of the temple to Babylon and bound the king in fetters to carry him also to Babylon – the latter purpose apparently not carried out. This was in Jehoiada’s 4th year. In Dan_1:1, Dan_1:2, though ascribed to Jehoiakim’s 3rd year, this same event is related as the result of a siege of Jerusalem. It is ambiguously intimated also that the king was deported; and among “the seed royal and of the nobles” who were of the company were Daniel and his three companions (Dan_1:3, Dan_1:6). The manner of Jehoiakim’s death is obscure. It is merely said (2Ki_24:6) that he “slept with his fathers”; but Josephus (Ant., X, vi, 3) perhaps assuming that Jeremiah’s prediction (Jer_22:19) was fulfilled, states that Nebuchadnezzar slew him and cast his body outside the walls unburied.
Fausset 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.
2Ki 23:29-37 NET. During Josiah’s reign Pharaoh Necho king of Egypt marched toward the Euphrates River to help the king of Assyria. King Josiah marched out to fight him, but Necho killed him at Megiddo when he saw him. (30) His servants transported his dead body from Megiddo in a chariot and brought it to Jerusalem, where they buried him in his tomb. The people of the land took Josiah’s son Jehoahaz, poured olive oil on his head, and made him king in his father’s place. (31) Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. His mother was Hamutal the daughter of Jeremiah, from Libnah. (32) He did evil in the sight of the LORD as his ancestors had done. (33) Pharaoh Necho imprisoned him in Riblah in the land of Hamath and prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem. He imposed on the land a special tax of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. (34) Pharaoh Necho made Josiah’s son Eliakim king in Josiah’s place, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. He took Jehoahaz to Egypt, where he died. (35) Jehoiakim paid Pharaoh the required amount of silver and gold, but to meet Pharaoh’s demands Jehoiakim had to tax the land. He collected an assessed amount from each man among the people of the land in order to pay Pharaoh Necho. (36) Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. His mother was Zebidah the daughter of Pedaiah, from Rumah. (37) He did evil in the sight of the LORD as his ancestors had done.
2Ch 35:20-27 NET. After Josiah had done all this for the temple, King Necho of Egypt marched up to do battle at Carchemish on the Euphrates River. Josiah marched out to oppose him. (21) Necho sent messengers to him, saying, “Why are you opposing me, O king of Judah? I am not attacking you today, but the kingdom with which I am at war. God told me to hurry. Stop opposing God, who is with me, or else he will destroy you.” (22) But Josiah did not turn back from him; he disguised himself for battle. He did not take seriously the words of Necho which he had received from God; he went to fight him in the Plain of Megiddo. (23) Archers shot King Josiah; the king ordered his servants, “Take me out of this chariot, for I am seriously wounded.” (24) So his servants took him out of the chariot, put him in another chariot that he owned, and brought him to Jerusalem, where he died. He was buried in the tombs of his ancestors; all the people of Judah and Jerusalem mourned Josiah. (25) Jeremiah composed laments for Josiah which all the male and female singers use to mourn Josiah to this very day. It has become customary in Israel to sing these; they are recorded in the Book of Laments. (26) The rest of the events of Josiah’s reign, including the faithful acts he did in obedience to what is written in the law of the LORD (27) and his accomplishments, from start to finish, are recorded in the Scroll of the Kings of Israel and Judah.
2Ch 36:1-5 NET. The people of the land took Jehoahaz son of Josiah and made him king in his father’s place in Jerusalem. (2) Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. (3) The king of Egypt prevented him from ruling in Jerusalem and imposed on the land a special tax of one hundred talents of silver and a talent of gold. (4) The king of Egypt made Jehoahaz’s brother Eliakim king over Judah and Jerusalem, and changed his name to Jehoiakim. Necho seized his brother Jehoahaz and took him to Egypt. (5) Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned for eleven years in Jerusalem. He did evil in the sight of the LORD his God.
The prose account of this same incident is very likely that found in Jeremiah 26. Here are a few bios of persons mentioned there:
(מיכה, mīkhāh; Μειχαίας, Meichaías; an abbreviation for Micaiah (Jer_26:18), and this again of the longer form of the word in 2Ch_17:7; compare 1Ki_22:8):
1. Name and Person:
The name signifies “who is like Yah?”; compare Michael, equal to “who is like El?” (i.e. God). As this name occurs not infrequently, he is called the “Morashtite,” i.e. born in Moresheth. He calls his native city, in Mic_1:14, Moresheth-gath, because it was situated near the Philistine city of Gath. According to Jerome and Eusebius, this place was situated not far eastward from Eleutheropolis. The prophet is not to be confounded with Micah ben Imla, in 1Ki_22:8, an older prophet of the Northern Kingdom.
2. Time of Micah:
According to Jer_26:18, Micah lived and prophesied in the reign of Hezekiah; according to Mic_1:1, he labored also under Jotham and Ahaz. This superscription has, it must be said, great similarity to Isa_1:1 and is probably of a later date. Yet the contents of his first discourse confirm the fact that he prophesied, not only before the destruction of Samaria, but also before the reformation of Hezekiah (compare Mic_1:5). Accordingly, Micah 1 is probably a discourse spoken already under Ahaz, and Micah 2 through 5 under Hezekiah. No mention is any longer made of Samaria in Mic_2:1-13 to 5. This city has already been destroyed; at any rate, is being besieged. Accordingly, these discourses were pronounced after the year 722 BC, but earlier than 701 BC, as the reformation of Hezekiah had not yet been entirely completed. It is impossible to date exactly these discourses, for this reason, that all the separate sentences and addresses were afterward united into one well-edited collection, probably by Micah himself. The attacks that have been made by different critics on the authenticity of Mic_4:1-13 and Mic_5:1-15 have but a poor foundation. It is a more difficult task to explain the dismal picture of the conditions of affairs as described in Micah 6 and 7 as originating in the reign of Hezekiah. For this reason, scholars have thought of ascribing them to the reigns of Jotham and Ahaz. But better reasons speak for placing them in the degenerate reign of Manasseh. There is no reason for claiming that Micah no longer prophesied in the times of this king. It is true that a number of critics declare that Micah did not write these chapters, especially the so-called psalm in Mic_7:7-20, which, it is claimed, clearly presupposes the destruction of Jerusalem (Mic_7:11)! But it is a fact that Micah did really and distinctly predict this destruction and the exile that followed this event in Mic_3:12; and accordingly he could in this concluding hymn very easily have looked even beyond this period.
Micah is, then, a younger contemporary of Isaiah, and, like the latter, he prophesied in Judah, perhaps also in Jerusalem. To the writings of this great prophet his book bears a close resemblance both in form and in contents, although he did not, as was the case with Isaiah, come into personal contact with the kings and make his influence felt in political affairs.
3. Relation to Isaiah:
The statement in Mic_4:1 ff is found almost literally in Isa_2:2 ff. Opinions differ as to who is to be credited with the original, Isaiah or Micah. In the latter, the passage seems to suit better into the connection, while in Isa 2 it begins the discourse abruptly, as though the prophet had taken it from some other source. However, Mic_4:4 f is certainly a sentence added by Micah, who, accordingly, was not the first to formulate the prophecy itself. It is possible that both prophets took it from some older prophet. But it is also conceivable that Isaiah is the author. In this case, he placed this sentence at the head of his briefer utterances when he composed his larger group of addresses in Micah 2 – 4, for the purpose of expressing the high purposes which God has in mind in His judgments.
4. Contents of the Prophecies:
Micah combats in his discourses, as does Isaiah, the heathenish abuses which had found their way into the cult, not only in Samaria, but also in Judah and Jerusalem, and which the reformation of Hezekiah could counteract only in part and not at all permanently (compare Mic_1:5-7; Mic_5:11-13; Mic_6:7, Mic_6:16). Further, he rebukes them for the social injustice, of which particularly the powerful and the great in the land were guilty (Mic_2:1 ff; Mic_3:2 f.10 f); and the dishonesty and unfaithfulness in business and in conduct in general (compare Mic_6:10 ff; Mic_7:2 ff). At all times Micah, in doing this, was compelled to defend himself against false prophets, who slighted these charges as of little importance, and threatened and antagonized the prophet in his announcements of impending evil (compare Mic_2:5 ff, 11 ff). In pronounced opposition to these babblers and their predictions of good things, Micah announces the judgment through the enemies that are approaching, and he even goes beyond Isaiah in the open declaration that Jerusalem and the temple are to be destroyed (Mic_3:12; Mic_4:10; Mic_5:1). The first-mentioned passage is also confirmed by the event reported in Jer_26:17 ff. The passage Mic_4:10, where in a surprising way Babylon is mentioned as the place of the exile, is for this reason regarded as unauthentic by the critics, but not justly. Micah predicts also the deliverance from Babylon and the reestablishment of Israel in Jerusalem, and declares that this is to take place through a King who shall come forth from the deepest humiliation of the house of David and shall be born in Bethlehem, and who, like David, originally a simple shepherd boy, shall later become the shepherd of the people, and shall make his people happy in peace and prosperity. Against this King the last great onslaught of the Gentiles will avail nothing (Mic_4:11-13; Mic_5:4 ff). As a matter of course, he will purify the country of all heathen abuses (Mic_5:9 ff). In the description of this ruler, Micah again agrees with Isaiah, but without taking the details from that prophet.
5. Form of the Prophecies:
The form of the prophecies of Micah, notwithstanding their close connection with those of his great contemporary, has nevertheless its unique features. There is a pronounced formal similarity between Mic_1:10 ff and Isa_10:28 ff. Still more than is the case in Isaiah, Micah makes use of the names of certain places. Witty references, which we can understand only in part, are not lacking in this connection; e.g. Lachish, the “city of horses,” is made the object of a play on words. (Recently in the ruins of this city a large wall has been unearthed.) The style of Micah is vigorous and vivid. He loved antitheses. It is a peculiarity of his style that he indulges in dramatic interruptions and answers; e.g. Mic_2:5, Mic_2:12; Mic_3:1; Mic_6:6-8; Mic_7:14 f. He also loves historical references; as e.g. Mic_1:13, Mic_1:15; Mic_5:5; Mic_6:4 f, 6, 16; Mic_7:20. He makes frequent use of the image of the shepherd, Mic_2:12; Mic_3:2 f; Mic_4:6; Mic_5:3 ff; Mic_7:14. The fact that these peculiarities appear in all parts of his little book is an argument in favor of its being from one author. He is superior to Isaiah in his tendency to idyllic details, and especially in a deeper personal sympathy, which generally finds expression in an elegiac strain. His lyrical style readily takes the form of a prayer or of a psalm (compare Mic 7).
C. P. Caspari; Ueber Micha den Morasthiten, 1851; T.K. Cheyne, Micah with Notes and Introduction, 1882; V. Ryssel, Untersuchungen uber Textoeatalt und Echtheit des Buches Micha, 1887. See the commentaries on the 12 minor prophets by Hitzig, Ewald, C. F. Keil, P. Kleinert, W. Nowack, C. v. Orelli, K. Marti; Paul Haupt, The Book of Micah, 1910; Pusey, The Minor Prophets, 1860.
Fausset’s Bible Dictionary
2. MICAH THE PROPHET. The oldest form of the name was Mikaiahuw, “who is as Jah?” (compare MICHAEL.) In Mic_7:18 Micah alludes to the meaning of his name as embodying the most precious truth to a guilty people such as he had painted the Jews, “who is a God like unto Thee that pardon iniquity,” etc. Sixth of the minor prophets in the Hebrew canon, third in the Septuagint. The Morasthite, i.e. of Moresheth, or Moresheth Gath (near Gath in S.W. of Judaea), where once was his tomb, but in Jerome’s (Ep. Paulae 6) days a church, not far from Eleutheropolis. Micah prophesied in the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah somewhere between 756 and 697 B.C. Contemporary with Isaiah in Judah, with whose prophecies his have a close connection (compare Mic_4:1-3 with Isa_2:2-4, the latter stamping the former as inspired), and with Hosea and Amos during their later ministry in Israel.
His earlier prophecies under Jotham and Ahaz were collected and written out as one whole under Hezekiah. Probably the book was read before the assembled king and people on some fast or festival, as certain elders quoted to the princes and people assembled against Jeremiah (Jer_26:18) Mic_3:12, “Micah the Morasthite in the days of Hezekiah, and spoke to all the people of Judah, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Zion shall be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps, and the mountain of the house as the high places of a forest. Did Hezekiah put him … to death? Did he not fear the Lord and besought the Lord, and the Lord repented Him of the evil which He had pronounced against them?” The idolatries of Ahaz’ reign accord with Micah ‘s denunciations. He prophesies partly against Israel (Samaria), partly against Judah.
Shalmaneser and Sargon took Samaria in the sixth year of Hezekiah (722 B.C.). The section in which is (Mic_1:6) “I will make Samaria as an heap” was therefore earlier. The “high places” (Mic_1:5) probably allude to those in Jotham’s and Ahaz’ reigns (2Ki_15:35; 2Ki_16:4). The “horses and chariots” (Mic_5:10) accord with Jotham’s time, when Uzziah’s military establishments still flourished (2Ch_26:11-15). Mic_5:12-14; Mic_6:16, “the statutes of Omri are kept and all the works of the house of Ahab,” accord with the reign of Ahaz who “walked in the way of the kings of Israel” (2Ki_16:3).
DIVISIONS. The thrice repeated phrase “Hear ye” (Mic_1:2; Mic_3:1; Mic_6:1) divides the whole into three parts. The middle division (Micah 3-5) has Messiah and His kingdom for its subject. The first division prepares for this by foretelling the overthrow of the world kingdoms. The third division is the appeal based on the foregoing, and the elect church’s anticipation of God’s finally forgiving His people’s sin completely, and restoring Israel because of the covenant with Jacob and Abraham of old. The intimations concerning the birth of Messiah as a child and His reign in peace, and Jacob’s remnant destroying adversaries as a “lion,” but being “a dew from the Lord amidst many people” (Mic_4:9-5:5), correspond to Isa_7:14-16; Isa_9:6-7.
This middle section is the climax, failing into four strophes (Mic_4:1-8; Mic_4:9-5;Mic_4:2; Mic_5:8-9; Mic_5:10-15). Mic_6:7, form a vivid dialogue wherein Jehovah expostulates with Israel for their sinful and monstrous ingratitude, and they attempt to reply and are convicted (Mic_6:6-8). Then the chosen remnant amidst the surrounding gloom looks to the Lord and receives assurance of final deliverance. Zacharias (Luk_1:72-73) reproduces the closing anticipation (Mic_7:16-20), “Thou wilt perform the truth to Jacob and the mercy to Abraham which Thou hast sworn unto our fathers from the days of old.” Sennacherib’s invasion is foreseen, Mic_1:9-16; especially Mic_1:13-14, compare 2Ki_18:14-17. Jerusalem’s destruction in Mic_3:12; Mic_7:13.
The Babylonian captivity and deliverance in Mic_4:10; Mic_4:1-8; Mic_7:11, confirming the genuineness of the latter half of Isaiah his contemporary, with whom Micah has so much in common and who (Isaiah 39-66) similarly foretells the captivity and deliverance. The fall of Assyria and Babylon are referred to (Mic_5:5-6; Mic_7:8; Mic_7:10). Hengstenberg thinks that Micaiah’s words (1Ki_22:28), “hearken, O people, every one of you,” were intentionally repeated by Micah to intimate that his own activity is a continuation of that of his predecessor who was so jealous for God, and that he had more in common with him than the mere name.
STYLE. His diction is pure and his parallelisms regular. His description of Jehovah (Mic_7:18-19), “who is a God like unto Thee, forgiving?” etc., alludes to the meaning of his own name and to Exo_15:11; Exo_34:6-7, and is a fine specimen of his power and pathos. He is dramatic in Micah 6; 7. His similarity to Isaiah in style is due to their theme being alike (Mic_1:2; Isa_1:2; Mic_2:2; Isa_5:8; Mic_2:6; Mic_2:11; Isa_30:10; Mic_2:12; Isa_10:20-22; Mic_6:6-8; Isa_1:11-17).
He is abrupt in transitions, and elliptical, and so obscure; the contrast between Babylon, which triumphs over carnal Israel, and humble Bethlehem out of which shall come forth Israel’s Deliverer and Babylon’s Destroyer, is a striking instance: Mic_4:8-5:7. Pastoral and rural imagery is common (Mic_1:6; Mic_1:8; Mic_2:12; Mic_3:12; Mic_4:3; Mic_4:12-13; Mic_5:4-8; Mic_6:15; Mic_7:1; Mic_7:4; Mic_7:14). Flays upon words abound (Mic_1:10-15). (See APHRAH; BETHEZEL; MAROTH; ACHZIB; MARESHAH.) New Testament quotations of Micah: Mat_2:5-6 (Mic_5:2); Mat_10:35-36 (Mic_7:6); Mat_9:13 (Mic_6:6-8); Mar_13:12; Luk_12:53 (Mic_7:6); Joh_7:42 (Mic_5:2); Eph_2:14 (Mic_5:5).
el-nā´than (אלנתן, ‘elnāthān, “God has given”):
(1) The grandfather of Jehoiachin (2Ki_24:8).
(2) A courtier of Jehoiakim; he was one of those sent to Egypt to bring back the prophet Uriah (Jer_26:22), and one of those who heard the reading of Jeremiah’s roll and entreated Jehoiakim not to burn the roll (Jer_36:12, Jer_36:25) – possibly the same person as (1) above.
a-hī´kam (אחיקם, ‘aḥīḳām, “my brother has risen up”): A prominent man of the time of King Josiah and the following decades (2Ki_22:12, 2Ki_22:14; 2Ki_25:22; 2Ch_34:20; Jer_26:24; Jer_39:14; Jer_40:5; Jer_41:1; Jer_43:6). He was the son of Shaphan, who very likely is to be identified with Shaphan the scribe, who was at that time so prominent. Ahikam was the father of Gedaliah, whom, on the capture of Jerusalem, Nebuchadnezzar made governor of the land. Ahikam was a member of the deputation sent by Josiah to the prophetess Huldah to consult her concerning the contents of the Book of the Law which had been found. Under Jehoiakim he had sufficient influence to protect Jeremiah from being put to death. On the capture of Jerusalem Nebuchadnezzar committed Jeremiah into the care of Gedaliah. It is clear that both Shaphan and his son, like Jeremiah, belonged to the party which held that the men of Judah were under obligation to keep the oath which they had sworn to the tang of Babylon.