In my NIV in 2King 15:30 it states: ” Then Hoshea son of Elah conspired
against Pekah son of Remaliah. He attacked and assassinated him, and then
succeeded him as king in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah.”
Then in 2King 17:1 it’s written: “In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of
Judah, Hoshea son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned
nine years. He did evil in the eyes of the LORD , but not like the kings
of Israel who preceded him.” What it look to me is that there is a
difference between the years…. Is there is any other explanation?
It is pretty easy to get confused about reignal years of
the kings of Judah. First, Uzziah ruled for something like forty-one
years. However, because of his illness, his son ruled as regent from
about 750-742 B.C.. When Uzziah died, Jotham ruled in his own right.
Therefore the year of Jotham’s reign is sometimes based on 750 and
sometimes on 742 B.C..
Both 2 Chronicles and 2 Kings agree that Jotham ruled for
only 16 years. Here is what I would speculate. For some reason, the
reign of Hoshea is dated from the time that Jotham ruled, beginning
somewhere around 750 B.C., even though Jotham had already died. Perhaps
this is to take honor away from Ahaz, who was an ungodly king, as 2
Chronicles clearly states. This would put the beginning of Hoshea’s reign
somewhere around 731 B.C.. As for 2 Kings 17:1, I can conceive of two
possibilities. Perhaps it reports the twelfth year of Ahaz because Ahaz
was ruling as regent for a time before he came to full power, or perhaps
there is some sort of scribal error in the years of reign in this passage.
One thing I caution people in looking at numbers in the Old
Testament. The Jews used a letter system for their numbers, somewhat like
Roman numerals. To make matters difficult, some of the letters used for
numbers are very similar in appearance, which is very likely to produce
scribal errors in copying. I advise OT readers to take numbers in the
text with great caution because these copyist errors are so easily made
and hard to fix after the fact.
Because of the high likelihood of the number-transcribing
errors, I cannot state for certain what is the solution to the problem in
the text in 2 Kings. By the way, a fairly trustworthy Bible archaeology
book I have on hand lists the years of reign for the relevant kings as:
Jotham 750-735 (note; as regent for about nine years)
If there is a number-transcribing error, then Hoshea began
to rule in about the fourth year of Ahaz. If there is a hidden regency,
then Ahaz became regent around 743.
Sorry I cannot give a really definite answer. If you
consulted an expert on Hebrew numbers, you might be able to learn what are
the most common number transcribing errors. I suggest that if you want a
more authoritative answer, you do some more research in some Bible