Did Coniah/Jechoniah Have Children? Jeremiah 22, Matthew 1:12

Are Jeremiah 22:28-30 and Matthew 1:12 contradictory concerning whether Coniah/Jechoniah had children? Learn the answer to this alleged contradiction.
Bible "contradictions"
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Quick Answer

  1. Coniah, or Jechoniah, was "childless" in that "none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David."
  2. This curse on Jechoniah was only for a limited time—Jechoniah would "not succeed in his days." This means that Jechoniah's later offspring, including Zerubbabel and Jesus, could sit on the throne of David.

The argument

Some argue that the Bible is contradictory concerning whether Coniah, or Jechoniah, had children or not. Coniah is a shortened form of Jechoniah. Jeremiah 22:28-30 says that he was childless, and Matthew 1:12 says that he had a child. Here are the relevant passages.

Coniah was childless

Jeremiah 22:28-30 - 28 Is this man Coniah a despised, broken pot, a vessel no one cares for? Why are he and his children hurled and cast into a land that they do not know? 29 O land, land, land, hear the word of the Lord! 30 Thus says the Lord: “Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah.”

Jechoniah had a child

Matthew 1:12 - And after the deportation to Babylon: Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel,[a] and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,

The solution

The context of Jeremiah 22:28-30 provides the solution

The very context of Jeremiah 22:28-30 gives us the answer to this alleged contradiction. It says, "Write this man down as childless, a man who shall not succeed in his days, for none of his offspring shall succeed in sitting on the throne of David and ruling again in Judah."

The passage tells us what it means that Coniah will be counted as "childless"—it means that "none of his offspring" will sit on the throne of David or rule in Judah. Therefore, Jeremiah 22:28-30 does not contradict the statement in Matthew 1:12 that Jechoniah had children.

Why is Jechoniah in Matthew's genealogy?

If Jeremiah 22:28-30 teaches that none of Jechoniah's offspring will sit on the throne of David, then why is he listed in Matthew's genealogy? Doesn't this mean that Matthew contradicts Jeremiah 22:28-30, since Jesus is one of Jechoniah's offspring and he sat, and sits, on the throne of David?

"in his days"

One key phrase in Jeremiah 22:28-30 helps resolve this apparent difficulty. Verse 30 says that Jechoniah "shall not succeed in his days," which means that the curse was not a perpetual curse, but rather only lasted for a limited amount of time.

Haggai 2:23 reverses the curse for Zerubbabel, Jechoniah's descendent

There is another passage in Scripture that helps resolve this apparently contradiction. Haggai 2:23 is an explicit reversal of the curse of Jeremiah 22:28-30. It tells us that God declares that He has chosen Zerubbabel, who was the son of Shealtiel, who was the son of Jechoniah.

Haggai 2:23 - On that day, declares the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerubbabel my servant, the son of Shealtiel, declares the Lord, and make you like a signet ring, for I have chosen you, declares the Lord of hosts.

Since the curse on Jechoniah was reversed for Zerubbabel, it was therefore also reversed for all the offspring of Jechoniah after Zerubbabel, which includes Jesus.

"I don't buy that explanation"

Some people have trouble accepting possible explanations to alleged contradictions in the Bible, especially ones that they consider a stretch. For example, Dan Barker, president of the Freedom From Religion Foundation, says this:

I have received numerous replies from Christians who think that these contradictions are either trivial or easily explained. Yet not a single "explanation" has been convincing.

Fact vs Opinion

The fact is that there are plausible explanations for every alleged contradiction in the Bible. That there is a plausible explanation for an alleged contradiction does not mean that it is definitely the correct explanation for the alleged contradiction.

However, as long as a possible explanation has been suggested, then it has been objectively demonstrated that there is no necessary contradiction regarding the Bible verses and passages brought up.

When people like Dan Barker say that they don't find a particular explanation for a contradiction "convincing," then that is merely their opinion. A plausible explanation has been suggested that eliminates the necessary alleged contradiction. They simply don't like it, which is not at all a relevant argument against the explanation.

Additional Resources

To read more about solutions to Bible contradictions and difficulties, check out Norman Geisler's The Big Book of Bible Difficulties: Clear and Concise Answers from Genesis to Revelation. While we do not agree with some of Geisler's theology, particularly concerning his view of predestination, this book is still an excellent resource. It is thorough and filled with research.

Another book to check out is Tim Chaffey's Demolishing Supposed Bible Contradictions: Exploring Forty Alleged Contraditions, which also answers many alleged contradictions in the Bible.

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