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Assessing Jotham

Although his memory is enshrined among the ancestors of the Savior (Matt. 1:9), we know rather little about Jotham. This eleventh king of Judah receives the attention of just seven verses of 2 Kings (15:32–38) and only ten in 2 Chronicles (26:23—27:9). We do know that his father, Uzziah, being struck with leprosy as a punishment for his sins, was obliged to take Jotham as a coregent in the latter part of his life. This period seems to have lasted from about 750 to Uzziah’s death in 742 (Is. 6:1).

Jotham then reigned in his own name from 742 to 735. His sixteen years on the throne (2 Kings 15:33; 2 Chr. 27:1), then, must include both of these periods. This chronological complexity would explain why Josephus (Antiquities 9.11.2; 9.12.1) leaves out all time references for Jotham.

Both Kings and Chronicles attest of Jotham that “he did what was right in the eyes of the Lord,” each also admitting the king’s inability to exercise much influence over an unfaithful nation. From Isaiah and Micah, both books partly composed during his reign (Is. 1:1; Micah 1:1), we gain some sense of the national infidelity that Jotham was obliged to face.

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Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).

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