The Life Spans of the Kings of Judah


When reading through the Old Testament it is interesting to note how the sovereign will of God is illustrated with regard to the life span of the various Kings of Israel and Judah, even more so when one takes the time to observe which Kings were deemed as being “good” or “evil”.

In all, there were 42 kings (and one queen who ruled instead of a king). Saul was the first king, and he ruled over all of the 12 tribes of Israel for 40 years. After Saul’s death, the kingdom became temporarily divided, with Saul’s son Ishbosheth ruling 11 of the tribes for two years, while David ruled Judah. After Ishbosheth was assassinated, David became king over all 12 tribes. His son Solomon followed him as king, and also ruled over a unified kingdom of 12 tribes. Both David and Solomon ruled for 40 years each.

After Solomon’s reign ended, the kingdom divided into what became known as the Southern Kingdom (Judah and Benjamin: but simply called Judah) and the Northern Kingdom (the remaining 10 tribes: called Israel). This resulted in a string of 19 kings ruling over Israel and 19 kings (plus one queen) ruling over Judah.

Of these, 15 were killed by other people, God killed 3, and 2 killed themselves. Interestingly, of the 19 kings of Israel, 7 were killed by individuals who killed the king and took his spot. However, this happened to none of the kings (or queen) of Judah.

The Bible says ALL of the kings of Israel were evil. Among the kings of Judah, 12 were evil and 8 were good (Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Azariah, Jotham, Hezekiah, and Josiah).

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King David: died at the age of 70.  We know he was 70 years old because 1 Kings 2:11 says he reigned for 40 years and 2 Samuel 5:4 says he began his reign at the age of 30.

King Solomon: died at around the age of 80 years old.

King Asa: The Bible does not say how old Asa was when he began to reign. However, his grandfather Rehoboam died at the age of 58, and Asa began to reign a scant two years later, following the death of his father (Abijam). Thus Asa must have been quite young when he began to reign—probably as young as 18 and not much older than 22. The Bible says that he reigned for 41 years. So King Asa was between the ages of 59 and 63 years old when he died.

King Jehoshaphat: 1 Kings 22:42 NIV “Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi.” So King Jehoshaphat would have been 60 years old when he died.

King Jehoash: Jehoash was 7 years old when his reign began, and he reigned for 40 years. (2 Kings12:1,2 Chronicles 24:1) So, King Jehoash would have been 47 years old when he died.

King Amaziah: 2 Kings 14:2 NIV “He was twenty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-nine years. His mother’s name was Jehoaddan; she was from Jerusalem.” So King Amaziah would have been 54 years old when he died.

King Azariah: He became king when he was just 16 years old and He reigned for 52 years. So King Azariah would have been 68 years old when he died.

King Jotham: He was 25 years old when he took the throne and he ruled Judah for 16 years. That means he was 41 years old when he died.

King Hezekiah: Hezekiah assumed the throne of Judah at the age of 25 and reigned for 29 years (2 Kings 18:2). So King Hezekiah would have been 54 years old when he died.

King Josiah: Josiah became king of Judah at the age of eight, after the assassination of his father, King Amon, and reigned for thirty-one years. He is described as a very righteous king, a king who “walked in all the way of David his father, and turned not aside to the right hand or to the left” (2 Kings 22:2). King Josiah died at the age of 39.

All of these “good” Kings have their own unique histories but it is interesting to note the ages in which they died. Their deaths range from a relatively young 39 years of age (King Josiah) to approximately 80 years old (King Solomon).

Now lets look at the Priest Jehoiada and King Azah.

Jehoiada was a prominent priest during the reigns of Ahaziah, Athaliah, and Joash. Jehoiada became the brother-in-law of King Ahaziah as a result of his marriage with princess Jehosheba. Jehosheba and Jehoiada rescued from Athaliah’s slaughter, Athaliah’s one-year-old grandson, Joash. For six years, they hid the sole surviving heir to the throne within the Temple. Jehoiada was instrumental in the staging of the coup that dethroned and killed Athaliah. Under Jehoiada’s guidance, Baal-worship was renounced and the altar and temple of Baal were destroyed. Jehoiada is also noteworthy for the national covenant that he made “between him, and between all the people, and between the king, that they should be the LORD’s people” (2 Chronicles 23:16). Jehoiada lived 130 years. That’s not a typo error, 130 years.

And lastly, King Ahaz. King Ahaz is not one of the “good” kings. King Ahaz was twenty years old when he succeeded his father Jotham to the throne of Judea. He was a weak and idolatrous king. He even made his son walk through the fire of Moloch, copying the abominable custom of the Phoenicians. King Ahaz reigned for 16 years. That means that King Ahaz was 36 years old when he died.

The life spans of the Priest Jedoiada (130 years), the “good” King Josiah (39 years) and the “bad” King Azah (36 years) were the ones that caught my attention. God’s sovereign will to accomplish His purposes goes against what one might expect, especially with regard to the “good” King Josiah and unexpectedly so with the life span of the Priest Jedoiada. What we might consider as a normal long live of 70 or 80 years can easily be exceeded when God chooses to make it so. Likewise, His sovereign will can also determine to cut a “good” life short or a “bad” life short, again to meet His purposes.

A couple of Bible verses come to mine:

Isaiah 55:8 NIV “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD.”

1 Corinthians 13:12 NIV “For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.”

Just something to be mindful of.

Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!