Day 101: The Troubling Curse of Coniah

Jeremiah 22:24-30

“As I live,” says Yahweh, “though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim king of Judah were the signet on my right hand, I would still pluck you from there. I would give you into the hand of those who seek your life, and into the hand of them of whom you are afraid, even into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, and into the hand of the Chaldeans. I will cast you out with your mother who bore you into another country, where you were not born; and there you will die. But to the land to which their soul longs to return, there they will not return.”
Is this man Coniah a despised broken vessel?
Is he a vessel in which no one delights?
Why are they cast out, he and his offspring,
and cast into a land which they don’t know?
O earth, earth, earth,
hear Yahweh’s word!
Yahweh says,
“Record this man as childless,
a man who will not prosper in his days;
for no more will a man of his offspring prosper,
sitting on David’s throne,
and ruling in Judah.”

This passage holds so many things that could be confusing and lead to criticism of the Bible that I don’t think I would be able to do it justice in a single devotional. First of all Coniah isn’t mentioned in the Bible anywhere but here. To make matters even more interesting, Jehoiakim’s son had two other names: Jeconiah and Jehoiachin. It appears that this person had three names. Not only that, we learn in 2 Chronicles 36:9 that he took the throne at 8 years old. He’s the guy that the Bible said did evil in God’s sight even at that young age.

The second thing we read here is that God says that even if Coniah were his special ring on His right hand He would still take it of and give it to Judah’s enemies. It might sound as if Coniah’s behavior wouldn’t matter; that even if he was a good king God would give him over to his enemies, but that would appear to be a wrong interpretation too. The Bible tells us that Jehoiachin was a bad king. The issue must be one of God’s desire to prize David’s family. God appears to be demonstrating the fact that no matter how much He wanted to help David’s kingly line, He was obligated to curse them because of sin.

Next, the curse appears to be saying that Jehoiachin was to never have children. We know that is wrong because we have a genealogy in the Bible that traces back to Jehoiachin. More on that later, but how can this not be an error? Well, just because someone has children doesn’t mean that God recognizes them as an heir to the throne. Notice that God carefully said: “Record this man as childless.” In context that would make sense. God was not going to recognize this man’s children as kings anymore.

Finally, this curse is a horrible prophetic dilemma. God both promised the kingdom to David forever and cursed his kingly line right here! How can that be anything but a discrepancy in the Bible? This is where you are going to have to do some study. The answer appears to be in another thing that looks like a discrepancy. There are two very different genealogies for Jesus given in the Bible. One in Luke and the other in Matthew. Scholars have come to see that one of the genealogies follows the line of Joseph and the other follows the line of Mary. Joseph’s line was the cursed line of Jehoiachin. He was the legal father of Jesus but not a physical father. Mary was also in the line of Judah but not in the line of Jehoiachin.

God really knows what He’s doing doesn’t He? There are many places in the Bible that are challenging to a critical mind. I believe that God expects us to address these things, but I also believe that He wants us to trust Him when we can’t see the answers yet. He allows the temptation to doubt to exist but our job is to believe with out wavering and wait for God to show Himself to be true when we don’t understand.