The Domain for Truth

Bible Contradiction? How long did Jotham reign?



For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: How long did Jotham reign?

Here are the answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:

At least 20 years.

And Hoshea the son of Elah made a conspiracy against Pekah the son of Remaliah, and struck him and put him to death and became king in his place, in the twentieth year of Jotham the son of Uzziah.” (2 Kings 15:30)

16 years.

In the second year of Pekah the son of Remaliah king of Israel, Jotham the son of Uzziah king of Judah became king. 33 He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem; and his mother’s name was Jerusha the daughter of Zadok.” (2 Kings15:32-33)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:

  1. When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
  2. One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible.  See the many examples of their error which we have responded to in this post:   Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do.  But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
  3. The skeptic tries to pit 2 Kings 15:30 as affirming the claim “Jotham reign for at least twenty years” against 2 Kings15:32-33 as affirming “Jotham reign sixteen years.”
  4. It does seem that given the two passage proximity with one another (the only thing separating the two passage is one verse, 2 Kings 15:31) that it might not be likely to have such a blatant contradiction next to each other; that is, it should make us suspicious that there’s a Bible contradiction here.
  5. One must always ask if the skeptics properly interpreted the verses.
    1. 2 Kings 15:30 does affirm the claim “Jotham reign for at least twenty years” since it mentioned Jotham’s twentieth year on the throne.
    2. 2 Kings15:32-33 does state “Jotham reign sixteen years” total.  Note the verse specifically said sixteen years Jotham reign “in Jerusalem.”  There might be something more going on.
  6. When one look at Scripture there are times when kings can reign “in Jerusalem” while also reigning in another place that was not Jerusalem.
    1. For instance 1 Kings 2:11 states “The days that David reigned over Israel were forty years: seven years he reigned in Hebron and thirty-three years he reigned in Jerusalem.”  Notice this verse mentioned David in Jerusalem for 33 years.  Yet David also reign seven years in Hebron.
    2. Sometimes it might not be a geographical location that’s meant by “in Jerusalem” but the sense of when officially someone begins ruling.
  7. When it says “Jotham the son of Uzziah” in both passages I think its important to ask who is Jotham’s father Uzziah.  Uzziah according to the same chapter in 1 Kings 15:5a was struck by God with leprosy: “The Lord struck the king, so that he was a leper to the day of his death.”  What was the result of this?  According to 1 Kings 15:5b the condition was so bad not only did he have to quarantine himself but Uzziah also had to have his son Jotham began juding over the people of the land: “And he lived in a separate house, while Jotham the king’s son was over the household, judging the people of the land.”  To state it another way there is a co-regency is that going on here because of Uzziah’s physical health condition.
  8. Synthesizing the data we can say that Jotham reign at least 20 years, and 16 of those years he was King in Jerusalem independent of the role of co-reigning with his father.
  9. This is not a cop-out and every day ordinary life we have to have nuances too of anniversary and years of experience, etc.  For instance when asked how long I have been in ministry as a pastor sometimes it can be difficult for me to say when.  I officially started getting paid full time in ministry eight years ago.  But before that time I was already doing full time ministry of preaching every Sunday and running different Bible studies for years.  So there’s a sense I felt I began ministry when I went to Seminary since I was working two 16 hours shift in order to make time for seminary and for all my church’s bible study and counseling.  But then for my denomination they see it that I began ministry on the day I was licensed as a pastor, going through their process, etc.  Still others count ministry years in terms of how many years have I been an ordained minister.  But in my denomination ordination takes a long time and Covid in 2020 put a wrench in the whole process where I finished my exam and everything early in 2020 but I have one more administrative process that hasn’t been done because everything is stopped at the moment.
  10. Thus there is no contradiction here.  Seems the skeptic needs to learn of How to Handle Bible Contradictions.
  11. We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity.  The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible.  In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview.  Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”