View Full Version : When did Hoshea become king of Israel?

Yaku Lee
05-24-2010, 05:38 PM
This is not a question of historical facts. This is rather a question of internal logic of Biblical accounts, all in the Second Kings, Chapters 15-17, concerning the year when Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel.

Let’s start with King Pekah of Israel. He became king of Israel in the 52nd year of Azariah (or Uzziah) king of Judah or at the last year of Azariah’s reign, and reigned 20 years (2Ki 15:27, 15:2).

And let’s make the 1st year Pekah’s reign the year 1 for the sake of counting here.

Jotham the son of Azariah became king in the 2nd year of Pekah, and Jotham was 25 years old when he became king and he reigned 16 years (2Ki 15:32-33). In other words, Jotham became king of Judah in year 2 and his reign lasted until year 17.

Now Hoshea killed Pekah, his predecessor, and “became king in his place, in the 20th year of Jotham” (2Ki 15:30). So that would be year 21 when Hoshea became king of Israel since Jotham became king in year 2. And since year 21 is right after Pekah completed his 20 years of reign, that sounds OK. But,

Question No. 1: Jotham reigned only 16 years (2Ki 15:33). How then can there be “the twentieth year of Jotham” (2Ki 15:30)?

Now, Jotham’s son Ahaz became king of Judah after his father in the 17th year of Pekah and he also reigned 16 years (2Ki 15:38-16:2), and it was pointed out above that the 17th year of Pekah’s reign is the last year of Jotham’s reign. So Ahaz became king in year 17 when his father Jotham died. And that is perfectly all right.

But Hoshea is also said to have become king “in the 12th year of Ahaz” (2Ki 17:1). And 12th year of Ahaz would be year 28, since Ahaz became king in year 17.

Question No. 2: Hoshea is said to have become king in year 21 (2Ki 15:30) on the one hand, and he is also said to have become king in year 28 (2Ki 17:1) on the other hand. How can these two conflicting statements be reconciled?

For all the verses quoted above, there is no Qere reading indicated in WTT, and there is no NET notes to clarify the difficulties. Also BW Timeline turns out to be very confusing at least in this regard. (According to BW Timeline: Azariah (Uzziah) 792~740, Jotham 750~732, Ahaz 743~716, Pekah 752~732, Hoshea 732~722.)

Thanks for your response in advance.

05-24-2010, 08:52 PM
Unfortunately, because the Kings only date their reigns in relation to other persons (and not as we do in "modern" times to an external date - i.e. 2010), it is sometimes difficult to make the dates "match" properly.

Various factors come in to play.

Was the king involved in a co-regency with his predecessor? In other words, did the two of them reign at the same time.
How did the kingdom calculate its years. Some marked "Year 1" from the beginning of the king's reign, while others referred to that as his "accession year" (Year 0)and began "Year 1" from the New Year.
At different times, Judah and Israel may have changed their "New Year" holding it at different times in relation to one another, thus creating more confusions between the two.
With respect to question 1, 2 Kings 15:5 indicates that because of Uzziah/Azariah's leprosy, Jotham "had charge of the palace and governed the people of the land". It is therefore probable that, while Jotham reigned in his own right for 16 years after his father's death, his overall period of running the country was somewhat longer because of his joint rule with his father before his father's death, allowing for the 20 year figure.

Likewise, with your second question, it may be necessary to assume a co-regency between Jotham and Ahaz in order to account for these figures. This could bring up the question as to whether "Year 1" of Ahaz commenced at his father's death, or sometime during his father's reign. To make everything "fit", this must be assumed.

Thiele, in his A Chronology of the Hebrew Kings devotes most of Chapter 7 to just this problem of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hoshea. Others have also written about this matter, and I would suggest that you refer to these other books for more details than can be gone into here.

05-26-2010, 09:26 PM
Jotham reigned only 16 years (2Ki 15:33). How then can there be “the twentieth year of Jotham” (2Ki 15:30)?

Because, Jotham became king of Judah at age 25, but when he, Jotham was 20 years of age, Hoshea became king over Israel. I take it that the twentieth year is not of the the ruling period of Jotham but rather how old he at the time Hoshea became king. So, he did rule for 16 years. Or, another point of view might be that he ruled for 20 total years, but only 16 over the area of Judah.

Rather than, checking for qere, it would be better to take a look at the Massorah Parva and Massorah Magna and if you found nothing of interest there to check out how the Meforshim deal with these issues.

Please keep this in mind as you study scripture: Nothing is new under the sun.

In other-words I am saying there probably isn't a question you can ask about Biblical text that, hasn't been asked and answered in someway before. That is not to say we have nothing new to add to this on going discussion, but rather that we are far, far, far from being alone.

Finally, like jimofbentley,

I also recommend Thiele's book and here are a few others:

(1) Edwin R. Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings. 3rd edition; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1983 [reprinted: Grand Rapids, MI: Kregel, 1994; first edition, 1951].

An interesting time line from that book can be found online here:

(2) T. C. Mitchell, "Israel and Judah until the Revolt of Jehu (931–841 BC)" in Cambridge Ancient History 3, Part 1, ed. John Boardman et al. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991) 326.

(3) John j.Davis, Biblical Numerology: A Basic study of the Use of Numbers in the Bible Baker books 1968

(4) Alleged Discrepancies of the Bible
by Haley John

Paperback: 452 pages
Publisher: Whitaker House; Updated edition (February 1, 2004)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0883689855

(5) Big Book for Bible Difficulties, the clear and concise Answer from Genesis to Revelation
by Thomas Howe and Norman L. Geisler

Continue to seek out and search for the answers through reading of the original language texts, and you are sure to find the answers.

Yaku Lee
05-28-2010, 03:45 AM
Regarding the suggestion that Hoshea became king when Jotham was 20 years old and Jotham reigned 16 years, I would like to make the following two observations.

First, Jotham became king when he was 25 years old and that was in the 2nd year of Pekah’s reign (2Ki 15:32,33). Now, if Hoshea became king when Jotham was 20 years old, then Hoshea became king 3 years before Pekah became king who reigned 20 years (2Ki 15:27), and this is impossible because that makes Pekah the last king of Israel since Hoshea reigned only 9 years. Obvious fact is that “Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah … and put him to death and became king in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah” (2Ki 15:30, NAU), and Hoshea was the last king of Israel.

Second, certain patterns of expression are observed in the verses consulted in this regard.

(1) When the age of a person is indicated, שְׁנָה הָיָה … בֶּן־ pattern is used (2Ki 15:2, 33; (16:2); 18:2). And the pattern is translated as ‘he was … years old.’

(2) When the length of reign of a king is indicated, שְׁנָה מָלַךְ … pattern is found (2Ki 15:2, (27), 33; 16:2; 18:2). And the translation is ‘he reigned … years.’

(3) When a point of time in a king’s reign is indicated, …לְ … בִּשְׁנַת pattern is used (2Ki 15:30, 32; 17:1; 18:1, 10), which is translated as ‘in the …th year of ….’ And the case of Jotham falls into this pattern: בִּשְׁנַת עֶשְׂרִים לְיוֹתָם ‘in the 20th year of Jotham’ (2Ki 15:30). It would be odd to take this particular instance of the pattern and translate it differently as “when Jotham was 20 years old” or in some other words to that effect.

The two observations above lead me to conclude that it was not when Jotham was 20 years old, but it was in the 20th year of Jotham’s reign, that Hoshea became king. And Thiele’s Mysterious Numbers has to be consulted for the meaning of “in the 20th year of Jotham.”

Thank both of you for your kind remarks and help.

05-28-2010, 10:22 AM
Mr. Lee,

Thank you for posting such an interesting question. I must admit I had never thought about the issue before. Here are four interesting quotes about this, the first two are from the Jewish Encylopedia and the last two are from Keil and Franz Delitszch's commentary(this can be added to Bibleworks see this link (http://bibleworks.oldinthenew.org/?page_id=151)):

“The length of Pekah's reign is stated (II Kings xv. 27) to have been twenty years. This extent is impossible if reckoned from the usurpation of Pekahiah's throne (736) to the succession of Hoshea (733-31). There is, however, an explanation that has some plausibility. When Zechariah, the son of Jeroboam II., was slain by Shallum, it was the beginning of general anarchy in Israel. Shallum reigned a short time in Samaria; but east of the Jordan Pekah and his Gileadite followers assumed independence, with Pekah as king. That was about 750 or 751. At the accession of Pekahiah, Pekah and his valiant followers may have offered their services to the king at Samaria. Pekahiah may have innocently accepted the offer and have thus given Pekah the long-wished-for opportunity to become king of all Israel. Such an explanation would account for the round number of twenty years of kingship (750-731)"( Link) (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=159&letter=P&search=pekah)

“The chronology of Hoshea's reign is involved indifficulties. The Biblical statement in II Kings xv. 30, giving the twentieth year of Jotham as the beginning of the reign, is to be dismissed either as due to a scribal error or as dating from the beginning of Jotham's reign. The "nine years" given Hoshea extend from 733, the year of Pekah's assassination, to 724, the year of Hoshea's capture and three years before the fall of Samaria. These dates, however, are not accepted by all modern scholars (see Hommel, l.c. pp. 964 et seq.; idem, "Assyria," in Hastings, "Dict. Bible"; Tiele, "Babylonisch-Assyrische Gesch. "i. 232; Winckler, "Gesch. Babyloniens und Assyriens," p. 230). References to the events of Hoshea's reign are found in Hosea xi-xiv. and Isa. xxviii." (link) (http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/view.jsp?artid=934&letter=H&search=Hoshea#ixzz0pETfMan8)

From Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the OT

2Ki 15:27-29 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:27-29%27%29)
Reign of Pekah. - Pekah the son of Remaliah reigned twenty years.
(Note: As this is apparently at variance not only with 2Ki 15:30 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:30%27%29), according to which Pekah was slain in the twentieth year of Jotham, i.e., in the fourth year of Ahaz, abut also with 2Ki 17:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2017:1%27%29), according to which Hosea the murderer of Pekah became king in the twelfth year of Ahaz and reigned nine years, Ewald has added ותשׁע after עשׂרים without any hesitation, and lengthened Pekah's reign to twenty-nine years, whereas Thenius proposes to alter twenty into thirty. But we do not thereby obtain an actual agreement either with 2Ki 15:30 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:30%27%29) or with 2Ki 17:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2017:1%27%29), so that in both these passages Thenius is obliged to make further alterations in the text. For instance, if Pekah had reigned for thirty years from the fifty-second or closing year of Uzziah's reign, Hosea would have ascended the throne in the fourteenth year of Ahaz, supposing that he really became king immediately after the murder of Pekah, and not in the twelfth, as is stated in 2Ki 17:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2017:1%27%29). It is only with a reign of twenty-eight years and a few months (one year of Uzziah, sixteen of Jotham, and eleven of Ahaz), which might be called twenty-nine years, that the commencement of Hosea's reign could fall in the twelfth year of Ahaz. But the discrepancy with 2Ki 15:30 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:30%27%29), that Hosea conspired against Pekah and slew him in the twentieth year of Jotham, is not removed thereby. For further remarks see at 2Ki 15:30 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:30%27%29) and 2Ki 17:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2017:1%27%29).)

2Ki 15:30-31 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:30-31%27%29)
Pekah met with his death in a conspiracy organized by Hosea the son of Elah, who made himself king “in the twentieth year of Jotham.” There is something very strange in this chronological datum, as Jotham only reigned sixteen years (2Ki 15:33 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:33%27%29)), and Ahaz began to reign in the seventeenth year of Pekah (2Ki 16:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:1%27%29)); so that Pekah's death would fall in the fourth year of Ahaz. The reason for this striking statement can only be found, as Usher has shown (Chronol. sacr. p. 80), in the fact that nothing has yet been said about Jotham's successor Ahaz, because the reign of Jotham himself is not mentioned till 2Ki 15:32 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:32%27%29).
(Note: Other attempts to solve this difficulty are either arbitrary and precarious, e.g., the conjectures of the earlier chronologists quoted by Winer (R. W. s. v. Jotham), or forced, like the notion of Vaihinger in Herzog's Cycl. (art. Jotham), that the words בן־עזיה ליותם are to be eliminated as an interpolation, in which case the datum “in the twentieth year” becomes perfectly enigmatical; and again the assertion of Hitzig (Comm. z. Jesaj. pp. 72, 73), that instead of in the twentieth year of Jotham, we should read “in the twentieth year of Ahaz the son of Jotham,” which could only be consistently carried out by altering the text of not less than seven passages (viz., 2Ki 15:33 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:33%27%29); 2Ki 16:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:1%27%29), and 2Ki 16:2 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:2%27%29), 2Ki 16:17 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:17%27%29); 2Ch 27:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ch%2027:1%27%29) and 2Ch 27:8 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ch%2027:8%27%29), and 2Ch 28:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ch%2028:1%27%29)); and lastly, the assumption of Thenius, that the words from בשׁנת to עזיה have crept into the text through a double mistake of the copyist and an arbitrary alteration of what had been thus falsely written, which is much too complicated to appear at all credible, even if the reasons which are supposed to render it probable had been more forcible and correct than they really are. For the first reason, viz., that the statement in what year of the contemporaneous ruler a king came to the throne is always first given when the history of this king commences, is disproved by 2Ki 1:17 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%201:17%27%29); the second, that the name of the king by the year of whose reign the accession of another is defined is invariably introduced with the epithet king of Judah or king of Israel, is shown by 2Ki 12:2 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2012:2%27%29) and 2Ki 16:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:1%27%29) to be not in accordance with fact; and the third, that this very king is never described by the introduction of his father's name, as he is here, except where the intention is to prevent misunderstanding, as in 2Ki 14:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2014:1%27%29), 2Ki 14:23 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2014:23%27%29), or in the case of usurpers without ancestors (2Ki 15:32 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2015:32%27%29), 2Ki 16:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:1%27%29) and 2Ki 16:15 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2016:15%27%29)), is also incorrect in its first portion, for in the case of Amaziah in 2Ki 14:23 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2014:23%27%29) there was no misunderstanding to prevent, and even in the case of Joash in 2Ki 14:1 (http://javascript%3Cb%3E%3C/b%3E:BwRef%28%272Ki%2014:1%27%29) the epithet king of Israel would have been quite sufficient to guard against any misunderstanding.)