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In Jeremiah 27 the chapter begins by discussing the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim, but in verse 3 pivots to talking about Zedekiah.

1 In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word unto Jeremiah from the Lord, saying,

2 Thus saith the Lord to me; Make thee bonds and yokes, and put them upon thy neck,

3 And send them to the king of Edom, and to the king of Moab, and to the king of the Ammonites, and to the king of Tyrus, and to the king of Zidon, by the hand of the messengers which come to Jerusalem unto Zedekiah king of Judah;

The subsequent record appears to confirm we're talking about King Zedekiah, not King Jehoiakim. (Jer. 27:12, 28:1)

Why does Jeremiah refer to the same king with the names Zedekiah & Jehoiakim? Is Zedekiah a name by which multiple kings were known? Or is the name of the king in verse 1 or 3 an error?

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  • Zedekiah succeeded the two kings named Jehoiakim, a father and a son, whose reigns preceded the Babylonian invasion. Either we are dealing with a prophecy concerning future events, or Zedekiah is called king anachronistically (like referring to Bush Jr. as President Bush in a biography, even when treating events in his life that preceded his presidency).
    – Lucian
    Apr 30 at 4:11
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Indeed, the standard MT has Jehoiakim. The BSB and many modern versions have "Zedekiah". The BSB has this footnote:

A few Hebrew manuscripts and Syriac (see also verses 3 and 12, and Jeremiah 28:1); most Hebrew manuscripts Jehoiakim

Ellicott expresses a possible explanation:

(1) In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim.—The mention of the name of Zedekiah as king of Judah in Jeremiah 27:3 shows that the Hebrew text has here perpetuated an error, due probably to the transcriber or first editor of the collected prophecies. We have to think, accordingly, of the state of things which followed on the death of Jehoiakim, and the deposition and exile of Jehoiachin. The tone of the prophecy seems to indicate a time about the middle of Zedekiah’s reign. His position was that of a tributary sovereign, subject to Nebuchadnezzar. He and the neighbouring kings, who were in a like position, had not quite renounced the hope of throwing off the yoke, and asserting their independence.

Benson makes similar comments:

Jeremiah 27:1. In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim — Instead of Jehoiakim here, Dr. Waterland, Houbigant, Blaney, and many others, read Zedekiah, because it is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile the common reading with what follows. Lowth also, in his commentary upon the place, gives it as his opinion, that “the least forced way of solving the difficulty is, to say that Jehoiakim has crept into the text by the negligence of the scribes, (who might have their eyes fixed upon the beginning of the last chapter or section,) instead of Zedekiah. This emendation is confirmed by comparing this verse with the 3d, 12th, and 20th verses of this chapter, and with the beginning of the next. Such little verbal mistakes must be allowed by all impartial readers to have sometimes happened in transcribing the Holy Scriptures, as well as in other books, and may easily be corrected, by comparing the suspected reading with other parts of the sacred text, which admit of no difficulty or uncertainty.”

Other commentators offer similar remarks.

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  • It could not have been an exposition by the narrator(for verse 12), or else prophecy? 'it must have been an error'
    – user21676
    Apr 7 at 15:30
  • @Dottard thank you for the helpful textual analysis. BTW, congrats on the reputation milestone. Apr 9 at 11:39
  • @HoldToTheRod - many thanks - you noticed before I did.
    – Dottard
    Apr 9 at 21:23

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