What is the curse of Jeconiah?
Question: "What is the curse of Jeconiah?"
Answer: Jeconiah, also called “Jehoiachin” (1 Chronicles 3:16, NIV) and “Coniah” (Jeremiah 22:24), was a king of Judah who was deported as part of the Babylonian captivity (Esther 2:6; 1 Chronicles 3:17). He is also listed in the genealogy of Jesus, in Joseph’s family line (Matthew 1:12).
The curse of Jeconiah is found in Jeremiah 22. First, the LORD likens the king to a signet ring on God’s hand—a ring that God will pull off (verse 24). Then, God pronounces a curse: “Record this man as if childless, a man who will not prosper in his lifetime, for none of his offspring will prosper, none will sit on the throne of David or rule anymore in Judah” (verse 30).
The problem is that the curse of Jeconiah seems to invalidate Jesus’ right to the throne of David. The Davidic Covenant promised that the Messiah, the “Son of David,” would reign forever on Jerusalem’s throne (1 Chronicles 17:11-14). If Jesus is a descendant of Jeconiah, then how can He be the Messiah, since the curse bars any of Jeconiah’s descendants from assuming David’s throne?
There are three possible solutions to this difficulty. First, the “offspring” of Jeconiah mentioned in the curse could be a limited reference to the king’s own children—his immediate offspring, in other words. On a related note, the phrase “in his lifetime” could apply to the entire verse. The curse would only be in force while the king lived. This is exactly what happened, as Jeconiah was not successful as a king (he only reigned for three months before he surrendered to Nebuchadnezzar’s forces), and none of his sons (he had seven of them, 1 Chronicles 3:17–18) reigned over Judah.
A second solution concerns the virgin birth. Jesus only had one human parent, Mary. His mother was of David’s line, but not through Jeconiah (Luke 3:31). Joseph was Jesus’ legal father, but not His physical one. Thus, Jesus was of royal blood through Mary, but the curse of Jeconiah stopped with Joseph and was not passed on to Jesus.
A third possible solution is that God reversed the curse on Jeconiah’s family. This is hinted at by the prophet Haggai, who told Zerubbabel, Jeconiah’s grandson, that God would make him a “signet ring” on God’s hand (Haggai 2:23). Zerubbabel was blessed by God as the governor of Judea, and he prospered in that role when the Jewish exiles returned to Jerusalem. The “signet ring” imagery of Jeconiah’s curse is repeated in Zerubbabel’s blessing, which must be more than coincidence. Several rabbinic sources teach that Jeconiah repented in Babylon and that God forgave him and lifted the curse.
Recommended Resource: The Moody Handbook of Theology by Paul Enns
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Questions about Apologetics and Worldview
What is the curse of Jeconiah?