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?
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:
The meanings of these names vary between dictionaries, 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.
These uses are all in one chapter and could be called “editorial comment”. They closely follow the text found in 2 Kings 25.
This name is used by God, the false prophet Hananiah and the writer of chapters 24 and 29.
This name is used by God and possibly by Jeremiah as well as the author of chapter 37.
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.
Notes I looked in Hitchcock Bible Names, ISBE and Easton’s Bible Dictionary (or here).