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This Christian Journey:

 

The Joram-Jehoram Problem

 For years those who oppose the inerrancy and infallibility of the Bible have used 2 Kings 1.17; 8.16; 3.1 as a supposed trump card to prove that errors exist in the biblical record.  The passages read, 

2 Kings 1:17 17 So he died according to the word of the LORD which Elijah had spoken. And Jehoram reigned in his stead in the second year of Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah; because he had no son.

2 Kings 8:16 16 And in the fifth year of Joram the son of Ahab king of Israel, Jehoshaphat being then king of Judah, Jehoram the son of Jehoshaphat king of Judah began to reign.

2 Kings 3:1 1 Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years.

The problem is that according to 2 Kings 1.17 Joram began to reign in the second year of Jehoram.

 Date Map

But according to 2 Kings 8.16 Jehoram began to reign during the 5th year of Joram’s reign. 

Date Map 

 To further confuse the matter 2 Kings 3.1 states that Jehoram began to reign during the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat. 

Date Map

On the surface, in our modern minds, this seems to be an irresolvable problem. 

The Answer 

Edwin Thiele solved this problem in his book “The Mysterious Numbers Of The Hebrew Kings.”[1]  In his book Thiele reveals that part of this problem resolved around the differing dating methods used by the ten tribes called Israel and the two tribes called Judah. After the division of Israel, Judah continued to use the ascension year dating method that was handed down to them, while Israel began using the more common dating method of those countries that surrounded her.   

In ascension year dating, that used by Judah, the first year of a king’s reign was counted at the end of each year.  Hence, from the first day of a kings reign up to the beginning of the next year of his reign was counted as zero and the first year ran after his first anniversary.  Much as our American birthday’s are counted today.  However, the method adopted by Israel counted the first year as running from the first day until the first anniversary, after that the year would be counted as the second year.   This accounts for part of the dating problem found in the text. 

The second part of the problem is resolved in co-regency.  Historical records have proven that is was common in ancient days for a king, when there were times of great distress in the land, to set his son upon the throne as a co-regent.  Occasions of war were often the motivation for a king to take such action.  If Jehoram were set on the throne in Judah as a co-regent then this whole dating problem is fully solved and is mapped as follows:

Date Map

It might be important to note that the occasion that afforded Jehoram’s co-regency was the battle with Ramoth Gilead recorded in 1 Kings 22, which was the occasion of king Ahab’s death. 

From this we find that the Word of God is fully accurate and infallible in its historical record.  The Bible is fully trustworthy. 

A second excellent resource that explains this problem and its solution is “The Truth Project,” Video Lesson 4, by Focus On The Family.

 



[1] Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers Of The Hebrew Kings, (Kregel Academic & Professional , 1994)

 

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