In Jeremiah 36:30, we see a prophecy that Jehoiakim will not have a descendent to sit on the throne:

“Therefore this is what the Lord says about Jehoiakim king of Judah: He will have no one to sit on the throne of David; his body will be thrown out and exposed to the heat by day and the frost by night.” ‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭36‬:‭30‬ ‭NIV‬‬

However we know that Jehoiakim did have a son that sat on the throne. His son’s reign was less than 3 months, leading many to assert that the meaning of “to sit” in the above prophecy implies a longer reign and not a mere temporary appointing of king as per the Hebrew use of the word.

Is there a strong case, grammatically and linguistically, to be made in arguing that the prophecy specifies a long reign instead of being on the throne for a short time? Or is this prophecy somewhat “unfulfilled”?


4 Answers 4


The MT for this verse is:

לָכֵן כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה עַל יְהוֹיָקִים מֶלֶךְ יְהוּדָה לֹא יִהְיֶה לּוֹ יוֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא דָוִד וְנִבְלָתוֹ תִּהְיֶה מֻשְׁלֶכֶת לַחֹרֶב בַּיּוֹם וְלַקֶּרַח בַּלָּיְלָה

The word in question, יוֹשֵׁב, yoshev, is a verb from the root ישב, which in this construction means "one who sits", but it does not stand alone in this verse. In this verse, yoshev is the first word in the direct object noun phrase, יוֹשֵׁב עַל כִּסֵּא דָוִד, yoshev al kisay Daweed, one who sits on the chair of David.

There is nothing in the verb ישב when used to mean "sit", or in the noun phrase in this verse that suggests any type of persistence, in this verse or any other OT verse, or in later layers of the Hebrew language.

When ישב is used to indicate dwelling in a geographic location, there is an implication that the dwelling is persistent or permanent.

So we are left with a clear-cut contradiction on the literal level. Jehoiakim in fact did have a son, Yehohachin, who reigned, and was considered a king in every sense (2 Chronicles 36:9-10), but for only three months and twenty days in Jerusalem. Yehohachin remained alive in exile, so he was still the king, and he retained his status as king of Judah with respect to the Babylonian authorities and no doubt also in the eyes of a significant party in the Jewish population both in exile and in Judah. Nothing in the grammar or usage helps to resolve this contradiction.

The classical commentators were not bothered much by this type of contradiction because it didn't occur to them to read the text in the literalist sense that is in some circles considered a mark of piety today. In fact, this verse could itself be considered an argument against overly literal readings. This particular contradiction was easy for the classical commentators to explain:

  1. Yehoyachin was a vassal king who's domestic policy followed foreign dictates, hardly a Davidic trait
  2. The policies that Yehoyachin followed are portrayed as being against God's will, very un-David
  3. Yehoyachin did not reign for long in Jerusalem and had no successor, being unworthy of the divine promise made to David
  4. The remainder of Yehoyachin's reign was in exile, while a competing king, Zedekiah, reigned in Jerusalem

In a practical sense, there was no throne of David to sit on after Jehoiakim, and thus the prophecy was fulfilled despite there being two further kings of Davidic descent in Jerusalem, Yehoyachin and Zedekiah (Zidkiyahu) before the final destruction.

  • so would you say that the grammar renders the idea open? either it could be the literal sense to “sit” on a throne, or could carry a more semantic weight that conveys it differently? i guess it’s just an ambiguous verse that we really don’t know it’s prophetic fulfilment completely
    – ellied
    Commented Oct 28, 2022 at 14:19
  • @ellied I have endeavored to reply to your question in the last edit of my post. HTH. Commented Oct 29, 2022 at 19:52

The prophecy of Jer 36:30 was fulfilled because Jehoiakim's son, Jehoiachin, never really reigned in view of the following facts:

  • he lasted less much less than 1 year on the throne had never even had an "accession" year (ie, a new year celebration of his reign)
  • 2 Kings 24:7 - the king of Babylon actually controlled the territory of Judah which was included in the area, "from the Brook of Egypt to the Euphrates River"; he thus exercised no regal/military power whatsoever.
  • he surrendered to the king of Babylon without even a fight (2 Kings 24:10)
  • he did evil in the sight of God (2 Kings 24:9) and thus his throne was never established (Prov 16:12, 25:5, Isa 16:5, Ps 97:2, etc)
  • he was taken captive to Babylon (2 Kings 24:12-16) where he was subject to the kings of Babylon for the rest of his life (2 Kings 25:27-30) - a terrible ignominy for a supposed king who displayed no courage nor regal responsibility
  • a foreign power appointed his successor (Zedekiah) who was not his son (2 Kings 24:17) and even changed Zedekiah's name at a whim.

Thus, there was nothing about Jehoiachin and his "reign" that deserved the title of "king" or royalty. He was briefly king in name only but not actuality.

Final note:

There is nothing unusual about the verb יָשַׁב (yashab) = "sit" used in Jer 36:30. The same verb is used of a king in other places as well such as:

  • Solomon, 1 Chron 29:23, 1 Kings 2:19
  • Saul, 1 Sam 20:25
  • Pharaoh, Ex 12:29
  • Jeroboam, 2 Kings 13:13
  • The LORD, Ps 29:10
  • Joash, 2 Kings 11:19

This answer focuses on answering:

Is there a strong case, grammatically and linguistically, to be made in arguing that the prophecy specifies a long reign instead of being on the throne for a short time? Or is this prophecy somewhat “unfulfilled”?

Notice similar vocabulary but different grammar and meaning of:

וּמֶ֣לֶךְ יִשְׂרָאֵ֡ל וִֽיהֹושָׁפָ֣ט מֶֽלֶךְ־יְהוּדָ֡ה יֹשְׁבִים֩ אִ֨ישׁ עַל־כִּסְאֹ֜ו (1 Kings 22:10, BHS2003)

יֹשְׁבִים֩ is Qal participle masculine plural absolute

The king of Israel and King Jehoshaphat of Judah were seated on their thrones, (1 Kings 22:10, JPS1985)

The phrase in Jeremiah 36:30 is:

לֹא־יִֽהְיֶה־לֹּ֥ו יֹושֵׁ֖ב עַל־כִּסֵּ֣א דָוִ֑ד (BHS2003)

יֹושֵׁ֖ב is Qal participle masculine singular absolute.

לֹא־יִֽהְיֶה־לֹּ֥ו literally it/there is not to him is a way Hebrew says he does not have, although אין לו is more common, but here expresses a future meaning.

He shall not have any of his line sitting on the throne of David;... (JPS1985)

However, "any of his line" is supplied as understood because the participle is acting as a noun/substantive. It is literally:

He shall not have sitting on the throne of David...

Note how Davidson described this use of the particlple;

Rem. 2. In order to express more distinctly the idea of duration, particularly in past, the verb היה is sometimes used with the ptcp., generally in a clause of circumstance explicative of the main narrative, but also in an independent statement.... Jer. ...; 36:30 ... -- Davidson, A. B. (1902). Introductory Hebrew grammar Hebrew syntax (3d ed., p. 136). T&T Clark.

Also note that יִֽהְיֶה is Qal imperfect third person masculine singular expressing a future tense meaning, rather than the perfect היה typically expressing a past tense meaning.

Let's look at this in more detail to see what duration means here.

Hebrew Tenses

Hebrew does not have past, present, and future tenses. It has perfect (completed action) and imperfect (incomplete action) tenses. Past action is usually expressed with perfect tense and future action imperfect tense. Present action is usually expressed with the participle.

Expressing is and are in Hebrew

While הָיָה is the being verb in Hebrew, pronouns are commonly used for a present tense meaning. The imperfect here has a future tense meaning.

The Hebrew Participle

While the verbal use of the participle in Hebrew often has a present tense meaning, in 1 Kings 22:10 יֹשְׁבִים֩ has a past imperfect meaning as it is translated in the Septuagint (LXX). However, in Jeremiah 36:30 יֹושֵׁ֖ב is used substantively as a noun. In languages such as Greek and English, a participle wih a being verb forms a paraphrastic, but in Hebrew it tends to make the participle substantive.


So, what does duration mean? If you say he shepherds, it refers to a particular instance. But if you say, he is a shepherd, it says more about what he does. Also, he farms versus he is a farmer. He builds versus he is a builder. Thus, what keeps Jehoiachin from contradicting this prophecy in Jeremiah 36:30 is he does not seem to be recognized internationally as the king of Judah. Nebuchadnezzar carried him off to Babylon and made his uncle king in Babylon.


[This doesn't directly answer the question; rather, it makes the question moot.]

Prince Charles, was circumcised at Buckingham Palace in 1948 by Rabbi Jacob Snowman, the official mohel of London’s Jewish community. But Snowman wasn’t the first royal mohel. The tradition goes as far back as King George I, who reigned from 1714 to 1727. Years later, believing they descended directly from King David, Queen Victoria had all her sons circumcised, too. And Queen Elizabeth II continued the tradition.
The Royal Mohel and the House of Windsor’s Relationship with the Jews

The prophecy can be taken literally, and it can be considered fulfilled.

Consider what happened after the king and his sons were killed:

But Johanan the son of Kareah and all the captains of the forces took all the remnant of Judah … men, women, children, the king’s daughters, … and Jeremiah the prophet and Baruch the son of Neriah. So they went to the land of Egypt, … .
— Jeremiah 43:5–7

Yes, the king and his sons are now dead, but his daughters are still alive and well, being cared for by Jeremiah himself. David's line is still intact.

… ‘Thus says the LORD: “Behold, what I have built I will break down, and what I have planted I will pluck up, that is, this whole land. … But I will give your life to you as a prize in all places, wherever you go.”’ — Jeremiah 45:4–5

David's throne was "broken down" with Zedekiah and his sons, but it was replanted in Ireland. Later, it was replanted in Scotland, and then a third time in England.

Overthrown, overthrown, I will make it overthrown! It shall be no longer, Until He comes whose right it is, And I will give it to Him.” ’ — Ezekiel 21:27

The story continues in secular history.

Volume 1 of the Journal of the British Archaeological Association" contains an article by R.H. McDonald, titled "The Hill of Tara". The theory is that, via Egypt, Jeremiah and Baruch brought the daughters of the royal line to Ireland, along with Jacob's Pillar (Stone of Destiny, the present British coronation stone) and the Ark of the Covenant (buried at the Hill of Tara (from Torah)). See: Journal of the British Archaeological Association — Google Books.


the booklet, The Throne of Britain: Its Biblical Origin and Future, describes in detail:

  • how David's throne was promised to last until the Messiah could claim it.
  • how the Davidic line didn't end with the death of King Zedekiah.
  • how Jeremiah was given a commission "over nations and over kingdoms, to pluck up and to pull down, to destroy and to overthrow, to build and to plant".
  • how the King's daughters were taken by Jeremiah and Baruch to Egypt, then to Spain, and finally to Ireland.
  • how they took with them Jacob's pillow, David's harp, and the Ark (containing the original Torah).
  • how the Ark was buried in the Hill of Tara (=Torah).
  • how princess Teia Tephi joined the Irish royal family.
  • how that line was transferred to Scotland (taking Jacob's pillow = Liá Fail = Stone of Scone = Stone of Destiny).
  • how that line was transferred to England.

For more details, see my answers to:

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