At least forty years after Joash became king of Judah
In the twenty-third year of Joash the son of Ahaziah, king of Judah, Jehoahaz the son of Jehu became king over Israel at Samaria, and he reigned seventeen years.
2 Kings 13:1  NASB


In the thirty seventh year of Joash’s reign
In the thirty-seventh year of Joash king of Judah, Jehoash the son of Jehoahaz became king over Israel in Samaria, and reigned sixteen years.
2 Kings 13:10  NASB


SAB Contradiction 248


Mysterious numbers of the Hebrew kings
The numbers of the Hebrew kings have often been shown to be difficult issues for Bible readers and students. And of course Bible critics have always pounced upon them to show that the Bible is so very wrong. Here we have the question: when did Jehoash start as king in Israel? In the 40th or the 37th year of king Joash (who was king over the southern part of the country, Judah).


How the critic counts
– 2 Kings 13:1 says that Jehoahaz (the father of Jehoash) was king for seventeen years. This period started in the 23rd year of Joash the king of Judah. Taking the figures together the critic suggests: 23rd + 17 = 40th year of Joash which was the last year of Jehoahaz' reign.

– 2 Kings 13:10 says that Jehoash became king in the 37th year of Joash. That would be three years too early, isn’t it? What now?


It seems a serious problem, but it is well known that a reigning period may include two extra’s: a part of a year at the start and another part of the finishing year. And so the 17 years of Jehoahaz cover in fact 15 complete years.


And so …
With these presuppositions in mind it is proper to start the counting of the (incomplete) 17 years of Jehoahaz at the end of the 23rd year of Joash, the king of Judah. Than we have to count 15 full years: 23 + 15 = 38 years. Than follows an incomplete last year which makes the 39th year of Joash as his last. And not as the critic suggests the 40th year of Joash.

                                   15 full years of Jehoahaz

                       _ [ ______________________________ ] _

   Part of year 23              15 full years of Joash               Part of year 39 
   of Joash                                                                     of Joash


Final question: When did Jehoash become king?
Now it’s time to get to the son of Jehoahaz named Jehoash, who is said to be king in the 37th year of Joash and not in the 39th year that his father Jehoahaz died. Is this a Bible Contradiction? Not a bit of it!

Jehoash followed his father on the thrown for a couple of years earlier for good reasons. Apparently his father abdicated two years before his death keeping the title of ‘king’ with the privileges, but without the duties of the function. This is a sound explanation as Jehoahaz had to fight against the king of Aram during the time of his government: “…the king of Aram had destroyed them and made them like the dust at threshing.” (2 Kings 13:7) In the end Jehoahaz had only ten chariots left in his army. There is a great chance that he had so much bodily defects due to the wars that he had to abdicate and to make place for his son Jehoash.


Examples of a stand-in
1. Jotham was the son of king Uzziah who in the last period of his life suffered leprosy and in that time Jotham took over the government over Judah for several years. See the article: How long did Jotham reign?
2. The high priest Ahimelech (1 Samuel 1:21) who had installed his son Abjathar, before his death, as a high priest to bear the ephod of the high priest (1 Samuel 23:6, Mark 2:26). See the article: Ehrman-Contradictions.


No Bible Contradiction