The phrase “slept with his fathers” (NASB / KJV) does not imply a natural and peaceful death. It's just another way of saying that he died. 1 Kings 22:40 says that “Ahab slept with his fathers” (NASB / KJV), but he died in battle by being shot with an arrow and bleeding all over the floor of his chariot (1 Kings 22:29-40).
Daniel 1:1-2 (NASB) does not actually say that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon in fetters. It only says that Nebuchadnezzar successfully laid siege to Jerusalem and carried some of the temple articles to Babylon:
1 In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. 2 The Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, along with some of the vessels of the house of God; and he brought them to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.
Additional temple articles were carried away to Babylon afterwards, during the reign of Jehoiachin (2 Kings 24:8-13 & 2 Chronicles 36:9-10) and again during the reign of Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17-20; 25:1, 13-15 & 2 Chronicles 36:11-13, 18).
Jeremiah 22:18-19 (NASB) does say that Jehoiakim would have the burial of a donkey:
18 Therefore thus says the Lord in regard to Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, "They will not lament for him: 'Alas, my brother!' or, 'Alas, sister!' They will not lament for him: 'Alas for the master!' or, 'Alas for his splendor!' 19 "He will be buried with a donkey's burial, Dragged off and thrown out beyond the gates of Jerusalem.
which would be quite undignified and not really any burial at all. Jeremiah 36:30 (NASB) later portrays that his dead body would be cast aside, again implying he would not have any real burial:
Therefore thus says the Lord concerning Jehoiakim king of Judah, "He shall have no one to sit on the throne of David, and his dead body shall be cast out to the heat of the day and the frost of the night.
2 Chronicles 36:6 (NASB) says that Nebuchadnezzar put Jehoiakim in chains to carry him to Babylon:
Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up against him and bound him with bronze chains to take him to Babylon.
but it's important to note that, like in Daniel 1, it doesn't actually say Jehoiakim ever made it to Babylon—only that Nebuchadnezzar intended to take him there.
The exact circumstances of Jehoiakim's death were not recorded, and what is an even more interesting question to me is why they weren't recorded by the author of 2 Kings or the Chronicler. However, from the book of Jeremiah, we can be assured that Jehoiakim did not die peacefully and only received the burial of a donkey, which involved his dead body essentially being cast aside with no real burial at all.
In response to a comment that said:
I still remain unconvinced that Jehoiakim never made it to Babylon. The authors of Daniel and Chronicles clearly intended to convey that the Judean king ended up in Shinar, though you have tried to interpret it alternatively. But i do agree that the term "slept with his fathers" does not necessarily convey a peaceful death. Still the manner of his death and end of Nebuchadnezzar's siege still remains a mystery.
I find it very strange that I am accused of interpreting the authors alternatively to what they said, especially when 2 Chronicles very clearly says that Jehoiachin was taken to Babylon in the next few verses, but most definitely does not say that about Jehoiakim. 2 Chronicles 36:9-10 (NASB):
9 Jehoiachin was eight years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem, and he did evil in the sight of the Lord. 10 At the turn of the year King Nebuchadnezzar sent and brought him to Babylon with the valuable articles of the house of the Lord, and he made his kinsman Zedekiah king over Judah and Jerusalem.
Daniel and 2 Chronicles never say that Jehoiakim "ended up in Shinar." Daniel 1:1 says it was the third year of Jehoiakim's reign, but 2 Kings 23:36 and 2 Chronicles 36:5 both say he reigned for 11 years in Jerusalem. So I would argue that it is very clear that Jehoaikim never went to Shinar at all.
In response to another comment that said:
Why do you insist that Jehoiakim did not end up in Shinar since you agree that Nebuchadnezzar captured him, and that the former died a violent death and did not even get a proper burial? I'll repeat again, 2 Chronicles 36:6 strongly suggests that he was taken to Babylon; though the verse only says that he "intended to" take him there, it is assumed that he was taken there, and the verse does not have to spell it out! If Nebuchadnezzar intended to take him there but wasn't able to (for whatever reason you'll come up with) the verse wouldn't be silent about it.
Again I'm accused of misinterpreting for reasons I don't really understand. As I have already pointed out, 2 Chronicles 36:6 does not strongly suggest that Jehoiakim was taken to Babylon, only that Nebuchadnezzar intended to take him there.
2 Kings 24:1 (NASB) clearly says that when Nebuchadnezzar came up to Jerusalem, he made Jehoiakim his servant for 3 years until Jehoiakim rebelled:
In his days Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came up, and Jehoiakim became his servant for three years; then he turned and rebelled against him.
You don't become another king's servant unless you lose the battle. And you don't rebel some time later unless you are still in Jerusalem. Furthermore, Jeremiah 36:9 (NASB) states that Jehoiakim was still in Jerusalem in the 5th year of his reign:
Now in the fifth year of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah, king of Judah, in the ninth month, all the people in Jerusalem and all the people who came from the cities of Judah to Jerusalem proclaimed a fast before the Lord.
And as I previously mentioned, Jehoiakim reigned in Jerusalem 11 years.
Nebuchadnezzar came against Jerusalem 3 times:
- the first time was during Jehoiakim's reign (2 Kings 24:1)
- the second was during Jehoiachin's short reign (2 Kings 24:8-16), when Jehoiachin surrendered to Nebuchahnezzar (2 Kings 24:12)
- the third was during Zedekiah's reign (2 Kings 24:17--25:21), when Jerusalem was pretty much burned to the ground (2 Kings 25:8-10)
It doesn't really matter whether he ended up in Babylon or not, the real problem here is: what happened to king Jehoiakim? and why the book of Kings is so silent about it? These were my original questions and i'm still in the dark.
I already answered this as best as could be expected when I said that the exact circumstances of his death were not recorded.
I also said I'd like to know why the author of Kings didn't record how Jehoiakim died too. Was it such a horrible death that it shouldn't be recorded, such as him getting dismembered, or some other terribly painful or humiliating death? Or was there some other reason?
Unfortunately not all of these questions can be answered, but what can be answered is that Jehoiakim did not die peacefully and he did not end up in Shinar.