What should we call him?

By Mark Morgan | Jeremiah

Aug 21
What should we call him:

What should we call him?

Many of us have nicknames that only our friends would use. Others may have a short form of their name that most people will use and friends may use a longer form. With a name like “Mark” no-one can shorten it much, so sometimes friends call me “Marcus” instead!

In the Bible there are many people who are given more than one name. Abraham and Sarah were names given by God to replace the their original names. Jacob was renamed Israel and even King Solomon was given another name. Can you think of other examples? If you can, why not send me a list?

A king with several names

The second-last king of Judah was a grandson of the righteous king Josiah and he had three different names. In the series Terror on Every Side! about the life of Jeremiah, I had to decide which name Jeremiah would use for this king.

The three names used in the Old Testament are:

  • Jehoiachin, which people suggest means “God will uphold” or “preparation of the Lord” or even “strength of the Lord”. This name is used a total of 14 times: 8 times in 2 Kings; twice in 2 Chronicles; 3 times in Jeremiah; once in Ezekiel.
  • Jeconiah, which commentators suggest means “God will be steadfast” or “preparation of the Lord” or “stability of the Lord”. It is used 7 times: twice in 1 Chronicles; 4 times in Jeremiah; once in Esther.
  • Coniah, which people suggest means “God is creating” or “God has upheld him” or “strength of the Lord” (as for Jehoiachin also). This name is used 3 times – all in Jeremiah.

The meanings of these names vary between dictionaries,[1] but are all fairly similar.

At first glance, those statistics suggest that the book of Jeremiah seems to use the names fairly interchangeably, but let’s look at the usage in a little more detail. With a bit of detective work, we can start to see a pattern in the usage throughout Jeremiah.

Jehoiachin (used 3 times in 2 verses):
  • Jeremiah 52:31 In the 37th year of his exile, Jehoiachin was freed from prison (the passage is almost identical to the wording in 2 Kings 25:27, although the given date is different by two days).
  • Jeremiah 52:33 Jehoiachin dined regularly at the table of the king of Babylon (the wording is identical to 2 Kings 25:29).

These uses are all in one chapter and could be called “editorial comment”. They closely follow the text found in 2 Kings 25.

Jeconiah (used 4 times in 4 verses):
  • Jeremiah 24:1 After Jeconiah was taken into captivity.
  • Jeremiah 27:20 God speaking at the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah about the temple items that were not taken when Jeconiah was taken away.
  • Jeremiah 28:4 In the 5th month of 4th year of Zedekiah, quoting false prophet Hananiah using the name “Jeconiah”.
  • Jeremiah 29:2 When Jeremiah sent a letter to Babylon after Jeconiah was taken into captivity.

This name is used by God, the false prophet Hananiah and the writer of chapters 24 and 29.

Coniah (used 3 times in 3 verses):
  • Jeremiah 22:24 A statement from God that he would get rid of Coniah.
  • Jeremiah 22:28 Possibly a question from Jeremiah about why Coniah is despised.
  • Jeremiah 37:1 Reporting that Zedekiah replaced Coniah as king, but he would not listen to Jeremiah.

This name is used by God and possibly by Jeremiah as well as the author of chapter 37.

Putting it together

Tying the threads of usage together we see that “Jehoiachin” is used only in Jeremiah chapter 52 with text that very closely matches the text in 2 Kings 25.

Apart from that, the book of Jeremiah uses “Jeconiah” and “Coniah” in all other places.

In two places where God is quoted speaking about the king, the name “Jeconiah” is used once (Jeremiah 27:20), and the name “Coniah” is used the other time (Jeremiah 22:24). Jeremiah 22:28 also uses the name “Coniah” and may also be directly from God, or it may be Jeremiah matching the name God had used in verse 24.

The false prophet Hananiah is reported as using the name “Jeconiah,” so maybe it was a little more formal or respectful.

As usual, no certain conclusions can be drawn, but it seems more likely that Jeremiah would have used the names “Jeconiah” and “Coniah” rather than “Jehoiachin”.

After concluding this investigation, I made sure that in the series Terror on Every Side!, Jeremiah and others use the names “Jeconiah” and “Coniah” throughout.



[1] I looked in Hitchcock Bible Names, ISBE and Easton’s Bible Dictionary (or here).