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Talk:Zechariah II

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Small Chronological Oversimplification

At first glance it looks like Ahaz would have had to be married at ten years old to father a son born when he was eleven.

If Ahaz's birthday was in the Spring, about April, he would have been 20 years and 11 months old on Nissan 1 when his first regnal year was counted as beginning. If Hezekiah's birthday was around February to March, he would have been about 25 years and one month.

Subtracting the two, Ahaz could have been 11 years and one month old when he sired his son, who was born when he was 11 and 11 months of age.

It's nothing major, but 11 is a lot more feasible for a boy having reached puberty than ten.Grifken 21:49, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Post any reference that would support the dates you gave above. With that, I can update the relevant articles with your analysis.
I was thinking of a criminal case in the United States involving a boy about that young. The less said about that case, of course, the better. But if we can rehabilitate Ahaz, then that knocks out a key secular argument against the historicity of the Kingdom of Judah and its royal line.

How do you want to be acknowledged, BTW? The reason I ask: if I want to submit this elsewhere, then I have to write it myself. But that's not a reason not to credit you with these ideas.

Or maybe you'd like to get an account at this other project, and we can submit our updates jointly.--TemlakosTalk 22:14, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

The math there is original to me. However, a reference for the accession-year dating system of the Kingdom of Judah is found on page 130 of "The Chronology of the Old Testament", by Floyd Nolan Jones, Master Books Edition, 1993. This reference shows that kings of Judah always counted their year as starting on "new years day" (Nissan 1) after taking the throne. So when you have lengths of reign for Kings of Judah in the Bible, they are always whole numbers from Nissan 1 to Nissan 1. The dead king gets the full year of his death counted as his. The successor's reign is counted as starting the following year. I could make a table for you solving this problem with greater precision if you wish.Grifken 23:13, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
Yes, please do that. I will e-mail you privately so that we can discuss the terms of our collaboration. And BTW: thank you for the reference. That's one reference I wish I owned, and it's nice to have title and page.
This might--or might not--require revisions to the synoptic king lists found at Kingdom of Judah and Biblical chronology dispute.--TemlakosTalk 07:32, 15 October 2007 (EDT)
You definitely should buy that book. He solved the chronological problems of the divided kingdom so thoroughly I don't think it will ever be improved upon.Grifken 08:47, 15 October 2007 (EDT)

Status of Ahaz' Marriage to Abi

While Ahaz's age at the birth of his son is unusually young, even by ancient standards, it should be remembered that the importance of producing an heir in a hereditary monarchy has led to many unusual marriage practices amongst the royalty of various nations throughout history. The general trend has been to arrange marriage of the son to a woman of high birth and the royal couple would marry young.

By Jewish law Hezekiah could not have been a citizen, much less king, if he had been a bastard (Deuteronomy 23:2). Furthermore the daughter of the high priest would have been a highly protected virgin in a society that practiced bride prices (see Exodus 22:17), even during the period of Judah's immorality. (People of high position tend to protect their financial assets, in this case a daughter of high birth, even if they have no other morals.) To suggest that Hezekiah was conceived by an immoral act, and was therefore a bastard, stretches credulity and also impugns the ancestry of Jesus Christ, the Messiah.

The fact that Hezekiah's mother was the daughter of the high priest strongly suggests that theirs was an arranged marriage. Given ancient marriage practices it would be likely that they were betrothed at a very young age and that when Ahaz came to puberty their marriage was consummated.

In light of the above, I suggest that you amend this page to correct the chronology, and to remove any negative aspersions on Hezekiah's parentage beyond what the Bible explicitly states. To call someone a bastard has been one of the worst of insults from ancient times. It is unseemly to accuse Hezekiah of it without extremely solid evidence. Grifken 17:05, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

OK, if you will provide some gold-standard references for the ancient marriage practices to which you refer. If what you have is accurate and corroborated, then you've just solved a riddle that puzzled even Larry Pierce, the editor and translator of the current edition of Ushser's Annals. Hence this requires an entire section all by itself, with at least one, and preferably two or three, references to back it up.--TemlakosTalk 20:46, 14 October 2007 (EDT)
OK. I will do what I can to provide some references - sufficient to prove the possibility if not probability that Ahaz had a royal child marriage around age ten or eleven. I don't plan to write a full research paper on this point, so these references are not necessarily of scholarly quality.
The burden of proof is upon the person who wishes to claim that Hezekiah was born of fornication. The Bible lists the sins of Ahaz in detail, and doesn't include that one. And this is not an argument from silence because the Word of God requires two witnesses to accuse someone of that kind of sin. For us to assume it was fornication 2700+ years after the fact with no proof other than his young age is uncharitable if not sinful. Really, accusing a woman of sexual unchastity is libel in the United States, so you really need some solid proof before you go accusing the daughter of the High Priest of having been disgraced as you have here and in the article Zechariah II.
Here is the evidence:
1. Could Ahaz have sired a son at age 11?
Conditions that accelerate skeletal maturation, such as peripheral precocious puberty (Leschek et al., 1999; Pescovitz et al., 1984; Holland et al., 1987; Merke et al., 2000), obesity (Vignolo et al., 1988) and Marfan syndrome (Erkula et al., 2002), hasten the onset of central puberty. This concordance between the rates of different maturational processes was observed by James Tanner who introduced the concept of “tempo” to refer to the overall pace of somatic maturation (Tanner 1987) which can include the rate of growth, skeletal maturation, and the timing of puberty.[1]
Ahaz, being the crown prince was undoubtedly well-fed and may have been obese. Therefore his social position may have increased his likelihood of early puberty.
The normal range for onset of puberty in boys in the study cited above was 11.4 ± 0.8 years. So Ahaz fell within the normal range for the first year of puberty if he sired Hezekiah at age 11.
2. Were child marriages known among middle eastern royalty in the first millennium B.C.?
Child marriages are common in 49 countries in the world today. This trend is decreasing rather than increasing - indicating it is an ancient traditional practice common in rural areas. There is sufficient evidence that child marriage was practiced by royal families of Israel's neighbors. Damien Mackey and others who have attempted to reconcile Egyptian history with Biblical chronology put Tutankamun around the time of King Ahab in the eighth century B.C., about a century before Ahaz and Hezekiah's time. It would seem that King Tut outdid Ahaz for youngest known royal wedding.
Pre-puberty marriages, however, were quite customary in the royal families, where for dynastic reasons they were often early unions of brother and sister. A well-known example is the marriage of Tutankhamun and Ankhesenamun. Since he died aged about 18 after a nine-year reign, he must have been nine when he married, although she may well have been older.[2]
From Wikipedia (I don't have time to write a major research paper to prove this point), "The second practice is a form of arranged marriage in which the parents of two children from different families arrange a future marriage. In this practice, the individuals who become betrothed often do not meet one another until the wedding ceremony, which occurs when they are both of a marriageable age. Which age this is differs by local custom. In most practicing cultures, this age is at or after the onset of puberty.[3]"
A photo of a recent child marriage in India: Bride 4 years old, groom 12 years old.
So the evidence is that, Ahaz was in the normal age range for puberty when he sired Hezekiah. Ahaz's neighbors in Egypt practiced royal child marriage. Given that Israel and Judah's apostate tendency was to imitate their pagan neighbors - Egyptian culture was influential in Judah since Solomon's time - it is quite reasonable to suppose that Ahaz may have had an Egyptian style child wedding when he was between the age of 9 and 11 years. This explanation, in addition to being reasonable, does not require us to accuse anyone of fornication or Hezekiah of being a bastard.
  1. Bone Age and Onset of Puberty in Normal Boys, Armando Flor-Cisneros, James N. Roemmich, Alan D. Rogol, and Jeffrey Baron, Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2006 July 25; 254-255: 202–206.
Grifken 22:46, 14 October 2007 (EDT)

Rehabilitation of Ahaz

To all editors:

As you can tell, this article has now been moved, and the discussion of the child marriage of Zechariah's daughter Abi and Prince Ahaz of Judah now presents their coupling in a far more favorable light. Those of you who suggested that the conception of Hezekiah by the eleven-year-old Ahaz was not an act of wickedness were correct all along. In order to understand this fully, I needed to research the entire line of high priests of Israel from Zadok I (who received his appointment from King Solomon) through Jehoiada (who famously assisted in the investiture of King Joash) and finally to Zechariah, and the stories of the matrimonial connections between the Houses of David and Aaron.

Those connections are three:

  1. The marriage of Princess Jehosheba to then-high priest Jehoiada,
  2. The marriage of Jerushah, daughter of Zadok II, to King Uzziah, and finally
  3. The marriage, probably a child marriage, of Abi, daughter of Zechariah II, to Prince Ahaz.

The only problem with the third marriage above is that it occurred when the bride and groom were children. The Bible is silent on the motives of King Jotham for proposing such a match, or of Zechariah for accepting it. I suspect that the secret lies in the tremendous psychological shock that young Prince Jotham must have suffered when his father Uzziah was stricken by leprosy when he tried to burn holy incense in the Temple of Jerusalem. Zechariah must have been present at that episode, one of the eighty priests whom his father Azariah II gathered to support him. He probably came to know Jotham well when Jotham found himself a pro-rex at fifteen. (Ussher wrongly assumes that Jotham became a pro-rex even earlier—that is to say, before he was born.) Jotham didn't even want to enter the Temple; perhaps he was afraid to. I can conceive it now: Zechariah probably became Jotham's closest adviser, and then Jotham grew desperate to have another link between his family and that of the high priests of Israel. His father had married a high priest's daughter; now his son would. So at the royal command they rushed this child marriage through—and neither father ever expected to become a grandfather within a year!

So what went wrong? Why did Ahaz turn out to be such a wicked king? I blame his own high priest, Urijah. What kind of high priest agrees to copy a pagan altar and to use that in addition to the original bronze altar described in the Book of Exodus? A faithless one. A compromiser. Perhaps one typical of all too many clergymen today. So why did Hezekiah turn out so much better? Perhaps we have to credit Zechariah for being a good grandfather to the boy until he was nine, and also credit Zechariah's own grandson Azariah III for being a much better high priest than his father was.--TemlakosTalk 01:43, 18 February 2009 (UTC)