The last few verses of 2 Kings explains what happened to Jehoiachin, the king of Judah after Nebuchadnezzar hauled Jehoiachin and his family into captivity around 597 BC.
King Jehoiachin was 18 years old when the Babylonians invaded after Jehoiachin’s father, who was serving as a vassal king to Babylon, decided to rebel and no longer pay tribute (2 Kings 24:1).
At this point, Jehoiachin had only been on the throne three months and immediately surrendered to the invaders.
Nebuchadnezzar installed Jehoiachin’s uncle, Mattaniah to serve as the puppet king of Judah and renamed him Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:8-17).
But while Jehoiachin was in captivity we read that he was treated well by the Babylonians, particularly after Evil-Merodach (also known as Amel-Marduk) became king upon the death of his father, Nebuchadnezzar.
Evil-Merodach released Jehoiachin from prison and placed him under soft house arrest and allowed Jehoiachin to eat with the King, treating him better than the other kings taken captive. We are also told that Evil-Merodach gave Jehoiachin a regular allowance.
27 Now it came about in the thirty-seventh year of the exile of Jehoiachin king of Judah, in the twelfth month, on the twenty-seventh day of the month, that Evil-merodach king of Babylon, in the year that he became king, released Jehoiachin king of Judah from prison; 28 and he spoke kindly to him and set his throne above the throne of the kings who were with him in Babylon. 29 So Jehoiachin changed his prison clothes, and had his meals in the king’s presence regularly all the days of his life; 30 and as his allowance, a regular allowance was given to him by the king, a portion for each day, all the days of his life. (2 Kings 25:27-30 NASV).
The Biblical record of Jehoiachin’s treatment was confirmed through cuneiform tablets discovered by German archaeologists Robert Koldewey in his excavation of Babylon between 1899 and 1917.
He found several tablets that were receipts of goods given to people imprisoned by the Babylonians. It refers to provisions given to people from Tyre, Greece, and Egypt.
But in addition to that it specifically refers to the provisions given to King Jehoiachin of Judah, and his five sons.
In an article for Bible Archaeology Report, Bryan Windle provides a translation of what was found on three tablet fragments:
- “…to Jehoiachin, king…”
- “10 sila of oil to…Jehoiachin, king of Judah…2 ½ sila of oil to the five sons of the king of Judah.”
- “10 sila to Jehoiachin…2 ½ sila for the five sons of the king of Judah.”7
These tablets confirmed the Biblical record that Jehoiachin was briefly the King of Judah, but that he was also imprisoned in Babylon. They also confirm Jehoiachin’s better treatment because he was given substantially more provisions than the other prisoners mentioned in the tablets.
The only discrepancy between the Bible and the tablets is in regard to the number of sons. The Bible records that Jehoiachin had seven sons while imprisoned (1 Chronicles 3:17-18), while the Babylonian tablets report giving provisions to five.
Now the discrepancy can be easily explained. Two could have died or they were still children and not of the age to receive their own provisions or perhaps as Windle suggests not even born yet.
And, there may even be an explanation for why Evil-Merodach treated Jehoiachin so well. According to Wikipedia, there was tension between Evil-Merodach and his father, Nebuchadnezzar, who briefly had his son thrown in jail possibly because he was planning to overthrow his father.
Some have speculated that this would not have been the prison reserved for thieves, but rather the place where they would have imprisoned other members of royalty such as Jehoiachin.
This suggests there was a distinct possibility that Evil-Merodach developed a friendship with Judah’s king, while in prison. And his better treatment may have even been a reaction to his father.
Once again archaeology confirms the historical accuracy of the Bible to the smallest, seemingly irrelevant, details.
READ: King Jehoiachin: An Archaeological Biography AND Archaeology news: Bible scholar claims ‘evidence’ of Judah king proves Bible ‘accurate’ AND Amel-Marduk:Wikipedia