Anointing Bible Kings

By Mark Morgan | David

Oct 26
Anointing Bible kings:

Appointing kings

Many countries that have kings or queens, and even those with prime ministers or presidents, have ornate ceremonies for appointing a new person to the position.  The rules for choosing who the new leader will be and the associated rituals are considered important and followed carefully. The same was true for anointing Bible kings.

What happened to make a king into a king?

Here is a quick list of how some of the kings of Israel and Judah were made king.  A common factor is anointing.

  • Saul was first anointed by Samuel (1 Samuel 10:1) and later made king by the people who sacrificed peace offerings and rejoiced (1 Samuel 11:15).
  • David was first anointed by Samuel (1 Samuel 16:12-13) and several years later anointed by the “men of Judah” (2 Samuel 2:4) who made him king over Judah.  Several years later still the “elders of Israel” made a covenant with him and anointed him king over Israel as well (2 Samuel 5:3; 1 Chronicles 11:3).
  • Absalom was anointed by his followers when he rebelled against David (2 Samuel 19:10).
  • At David’s instigation (1 Chronicles 23:1), Solomon was anointed by Zadok the priest and made king (1 Kings 1:39).  Later, “the assembly” anointed him to make him king a second time (1 Chronicles 29:22).
  • Jeroboam the son of Nebat was called to the assembly of Israel and made king (1 Kings 12:20).
  • Omri was made king of Israel by all the troops in the camp (1 Kings 16:16).
  • Elijah was told to anoint Jehu as king of Israel (1 Kings 19:16), although this was eventually done by one of the sons of the prophets at the command of Elisha some time later (2 Kings 9:1-3, 6).
  • Ahaziah was made king “by the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (2 Chronicles 22:1).
  • Jehoiada the High Priest anointed 7-year-old Joash as king (2 Kings 11:9-12; or “Jehoiada and his sons” in 2 Chronicles 23:11).  A covenant was also made between God, and Joash and the people, as well as between Joash and the people (2 Kings 11:17; 2 Chronicles 23:3).
  • Uzziah was made king by “all the people of Judah” (2 Chronicles 26:1).
  • Jehoahaz was anointed by “the people of the land” and made king (2 Kings 23:30).
  • Lamentations 4:20 suggests that Zedekiah was also anointed.

From the list above, we conclude that anointing Bible kings was the ordinary procedure – normally done by a priest or prophet as a representative of God.  This is likely to have been followed whether or not the anointing was at the command of God.

There are many other references to kings being anointed.  David often refers to his predecessor King Saul as “the Lord’s anointed”, while God calls King Cyrus of Persia “his anointed” (Isaiah 45:1).  Several passages – sprinkled throughout the Old Testament – mention an anointed one, and are clearly referring to Jesus (e.g., 1 Samuel 2:10, 35; Psalm 2:2; Daniel 9:24-26).

The last five kings of Judah

Five kings of Judah reigned during the time while Jeremiah was a prophet before the kingdom of Judah was destroyed.  It is interesting to look at how these kings were appointed, but first there is one complication with these kings.

More than one name

Josiah was king when Jeremiah began to prophesy, and he was only ever known by that name.  However, the last four kings were all known by more than one name, which can be confusing.  Here are the kings in order, with the most common name for each highlighted:

  • Jehoahaz / Shallum, son of Josiah (reigned 3 months)
  • Eliakim / Jehoiakim, son of Josiah (reigned 11 years)
  • Jehoiachin / Jeconiah / Coniah, son of Jehoiakim (reigned 3 months and 10 days)
  • Mattaniah / Zedekiah, son of Josiah (reigned 11 years)

Who and how?

For each of the last five kings, let’s look at who made them king and what ceremony may have happened when they were appointed.  There is no direct mention of any of them being anointed (although there is a suggestion of this with Zedekiah), but we can probably assume that they were all anointed, since that seems to have been the normal procedure.


When Amon his father was assassinated, his attackers were executed and Josiah was made king by “the people of the land” (2 Kings 21:24; 2 Chronicles 33:25).


When Josiah died, Jehoahaz / Shallum was also made king by “the people of the land” (2 Chronicles 36:1).


Pharaoh Neco deposed Jehoahaz / Shallum and appointed his older brother Eliakim / Jehoiakim as king (2 Kings 23:34).  Although there is no mention of him being anointed, it seems likely that he too would have been made king in the normal way for the kingdom.  Appearances are important, even when they are at the command of a foreign king like Neco.


After Eliakim / Jehoiakim died, Jehoiachin / Jeconiah / Coniah, his son, became king (2 Kings 24:6).


Nebuchadnezzar then deposed Jehoiachin / Jeconiah / Coniah (2 Kings 24:12, 15) and made Mattaniah / Zedekiah, his uncle, king (2 Kings 24:17).  Lamentations 4:20 suggests that Zedekiah was anointed.

Anointing Bible kings – a closing thought

When we discuss anointing Bible kings, everyone seems to assume that we all know that the oil used is olive oil, not automotive oil!  We’ll point it out here just in case, and observe that olive trees were common in Israel and olive oil made from pressing the olives was used for many different things, including anointing.

See Olive oil and Holy Anointing Oil on Wikipedia.

Terror on Every Side!

This article is one of a series of articles on Jeremiah published as back-up material for the Bible-based fiction series Terror on Every Side!
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