Jehoahaz, King of Judah

King Jehoahaz DId Evil in the Sight of God, but His Reign was Shortlived

The account of Jehoahaz is both tragic and pitiful. His father, Josiah, Judah's last great and godly king, was dead. All Judah and Jerusalem mourned for Josiah. Jeremiah also lamented for Josiah, knowing by revelation from God the catastrophes which were imminent. King Josiah's son, Jehoahaz, was anointed as king instead of his older brother, Eliakim (later renamed by Pharaoh Necho).

Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he became king, and he reigned three months in Jerusalem. But Jehoahaz was unprepared and shortsighted. He failed to see what was right and appropriate, considering the circumstances. He foolishly did the same evils that many of his predecessors had done, but not for long.

Egypt's Pharaoh Necho came and took Jehoahaz from Jerusalem to Egypt and put him in prison, abruptly ending his three-month reign in Jerusalem. Necho imposed a tax on Judah of nearly four tons of silver and 75 pounds of gold. Then Necho made Josiah's son, Eliakim, king over Judah, instead of Jehoahaz, changing his name to Jehoiakim.

The prophet Jeremiah prophesied regarding the spiritually deteriorated condition of Judah, and the pathetic leadership that followed Josiah. Judah had once been a prized nation, likened to Gilead, a prominent and favored city in Lebanon from where the wood was taken to build the temple. But through Jeremiah, God prophesied a time when Judah would become a forsaken wilderness. He had already set in motion the enemies that were coming to destroy Judah.

The sins of the people of Judah were many. As a result, the judgment of God was sure. God said that the surrounding nations that witness the destruction of the southern kingdom will ask why He would do such a thing to His people. But the answer will be clear: Judah had completely abandoned the Lord, breaking their covenant with Him by worshiping and serving other gods.

As for Jehoahaz, God had become exceedingly displeased with him. Although his father, Josiah, had done well in the sight of the Lord, Jehoahaz had not followed in his father's footsteps. The prophet Jeremiah spoke to him as well, delivering a message of death: “For thus says the Lord concerning Shallum [Jehoahaz] the son of Josiah, king of Judah, who reigned instead of Josiah his father, who went from this place: He shall not return here anymore, but he shall die in the place where they have led him captive, and shall see this land no more.” (Jeremiah 22:11-12)

God's words proved true when, somewhere in a prison in Egypt, Jehoahaz died. But his brother, Jehoiakim, proved to be no better, pushing the nation of Judah ever closer to the ultimate and final judgment of God. (2 Kings 23:30-34; 2 Chronicles 36:1-4)

Written by: Pete Miller