Is Shallum’s reign a Bible Contradiction?

He reigned between Josiah and Jehoiakim.

In Jer 22:10-11, we find a “problem” text or what a critic would call a “contradiction”.  It says, “Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him: but weep sore for him that goeth away: for he shall return no more, nor see his native country.  For thus saith the LORD touching Shallum the son of Josiah king of Judah, which reigned instead of Josiah his father, which went forth out of this place; He shall not return thither any more.”

According to 1 Chr 3:15, Josiah had four sons and they are listed in the order of their birth.  His sons were Johanan, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah and Shallum.  While 3 of these sons actually reigned in Judah after Josiah, only 2 of them “reigned in stead of Josiah.”  One of them was Jehoahaz (a.k.a. Johanan); the people of the land “made him king in his father’s stead,” (2 Ki 23:30).  The other was Jehoiakim; “Pharaohnechoh made Eliakim the son of Josiah king in the room of Josiah his father, and turned his name to Jehoiakim,” (2 Ki 23:34).  Zedekiah reigned after his nephew, so he didn’t reign in stead of Josiah.

In reading 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles, we don’t find a king named Shallum reigning instead of Josiah, his father.  The sons who reigned were Jehoahaz in 2 Ki 23:30-31 and 2 Chr 36:1, Jehoiakim (also called Eliakim in 2 Ki 23:34and 2 Chr 36:4), and Zedekiah (also called Mattaniah in 2 Ki 24:17; 2 Chr 36:10).  There is only one other king that reigned.  He was Jehoiachin, Jehoiakim’s son and Josiah’s grandson, who reigned between Jehoiakim and Zedekiah (2 Ki 24:8; 2 Chr 36:9).

So, where does Shallum fit in?  Is Jehoahaz, the first king to rule after Josiah, just another name for Shallum, the fourth born son?  No.

Some expositors say that Shallum, the fourth son, was actually Jehoahaz, and that Johanan, the first born, never reigned.  But this won’t work because Shallum was too young.  Watch.  Jehoiakim, the second son, was 25 when he began to reign and he reigned 11 years.  Then 3 months after his reign, Zedekiah, the third son, took the throne when he was 21 years old.  Therefore, working backwards, Zedekiah would have been 10 when Jehoiakim began his reign and Shallum, the fourth son, would have been 10 or less.  As it turns out, Jehoahaz, the first king to rule after Josiah’s death, was 23 years old when he began to reign.  So, Jehoahaz couldn’t have been the other name for Shallum.  Jehoahaz would have to be Johanan.

So, where does Shallum fit it?  There are just two possibilities.

The first possibility is that Shallum was another name given to Jehoahaz (also called Johanan, the first born [1 Chr 3:15]).  Therefore, “Shallum” was a name given to both the first born son and the fourth born son.  This was true of Jehoshaphat’s sons in 2 Chr 21:2; the first and fourth men in this list are both called Azariah. (My older brother and I both have the same first name but we are called by our middle names to distinguish us).  The second possibility is that Shallum, the fourth born, co-reigned with his oldest brother and went into captivity to Egypt with him (2 Chr 36:4).  Those are the only two possibilities and neither of them is a contradiction or an error.

Look again carefully at Jer 22.  When Jeremiah prophesied in Jer 22, Shallum was already in captivity (Jer 22:11) and Jehoiakim, the second king to rule in his father’s stead, was on the throne (Jer 22:18).  Jeremiah prophesied Jehoiakim’s death (Jer 22:18), so he wasn’t dead yet.  Furthermore, we know that Jehoiakim died before his son, Jehoiachin, (also called “Coniah” in Jer 22:24) ascended to the throne (2 Ki 24:6).  So, the prophecy had to be given during the reign of Jehoiakim.  Therefore, the reference to Shallum, in Jer 22:11, has to be a reference to a king who was already in captivity when Jehoiakim was reigning.

The only king who had “reigned instead of his father Josiah” and that was in captivity when Jehoiakim was on the throne was Jehoahaz (the first born, also called Johanan).  Therefore, “Shallum” in Jer 22:11 would be another name for Jehoahaz.  If Shallum, the fourth born, co-reigned with his oldest brother and went into Egypt with him, then “Shallum” in Jer 22:11would be a reference to the fourth son of Josiah.  Both explanations work and both show that this is not a provable “error” in your King James Bible.

Don’t let those Bible correctors and apostates fool you!!  God leaves little “problems” like this in your Bible to fool them!!  Amen!

Hope this helps,

Pastor Bevans Welder