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
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.
But according to 2 Kings 8.16 Jehoram began to reign during
the 5th year of Joram’s reign.
To further confuse the matter 2 Kings 3.1 states
that Jehoram began to reign during the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat.
On the surface, in our modern minds, this seems to be an
Edwin Thiele solved this problem in his book “The Mysterious
Numbers Of The Hebrew Kings.”
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
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.
Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious
Numbers Of The Hebrew Kings, (Kregel Academic
& Professional , 1994)