Jeremiah 27:1—Is this passage about Jehoiakim or Zedekiah?

Problem: In the nkjv, this passage reads, “In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim.” However, verses 3 and 12 identify Zedekiah as king of Judah, and 28:1 indicates that the prophecy of chapter 27 was given during the time of the reign of Zedekiah, not Jehoiakim. Should it be Zedekiah or Jehoiakim here?

Solution: It is most likely the case that a scribe miscopied the text by inadvertently placing the heading of chapter 26 over chapter 27. There is good textual evidence from the Syriac and the Greek versions of the OT that there is a scribal error here. While the Syriac version reads “Zedekiah,” the Greek version omits this verse altogether. This could indicate that a problem had developed in the early stages of the transmission of this portion of Jeremiah’s text, and the Greek translators were not able to decipher the verse at all and merely left it out. The context and the historical situation indicates that the original read “Zedekiah” instead of “Jehoiakim.”

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This excerpt is from When Critics Ask: A Popular Handbook on Bible Difficulties (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1992). © 2014 Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Click here to purchase this book.