JOTHAM (Heb. יוֹתָם; "yhwh is perfect"; c. 758–743 b.c.e.), king of Judah; son of *Uzziah (Azariah) and Jerusha, daughter of Zadok (ii Kings 15:32–33; ii Chron. 27:1). Jotham became king at the age of 25 and, according to ii Kings 15:33, reigned 16 years. This contradicts the statement three verses earlier that "*Hoshea son of Elah, made a conspiracy … in the twentieth year of Jotham son of Uzziah" (ii Kings 15:30), indicating that Jotham reigned at least 20 years. This may be the result of a miscalculation by a late historian who did not take the coregency (below) into account (Cogan and Tadmor, 181). The concluding phrase is missing from the Lucianic recension of the Septuagint. Apparently Jotham died close to the time of his father's death. According to ii Kings 15:5, he was co-regent with his father after the latter had contracted a dread skin disease (ẓaraʿat; traditionally but inaccurately rendered "leprosy"), and was isolated outside the city, while Jotham was "in charge of the palace" (al ha-bayit), and thus was actually second in rank to the king.
According to ii Chronicles 27, Jotham built cities and fortresses and engaged the Ammonites in battle to defend Judah's claims in Trans-Jordan. He was successful in subjugating the Ammonites to Judah and in collecting tribute from them for three years (ii Chron. 27:5). The rule of Judah in Transjordan is attested indirectly by i Chronicles 5:17, which tells of the census of the tribes of Israel in the area during the reigns of Jotham king of Judah and Jeroboam king of Israel. The notice that "the Lord began to send Rezin … and Pekah … against Judah" (ii Kings 15:37) may indicate that the King of Israel and the King of Aram were responding to Jotham's expansionist moves (Cogan and Tadmor, 182–83). The prosperity of the country during his reign enabled him to undertake projects of fortification throughout the country. The general description given by the Chronicler is that Jotham continued his father's work. He fortified the wall of the Ophel in Jerusalem (ii Chron. 27:3) and undertook repairs and made additions in the Temple area (ibid., ii Kings 15:35). The Chronicler contrasts the piety of Jotham with the impiety of his father Uzziah, whose skin disease he attributes to Uzziah's attempt to usurp priestly functions (ii Chron. 26:16–21). According to Josephus, Jotham built chambers in the Temple and possibly raised the height of the building.
[Encyclopaedia Hebraica /
S. David Sperling (2nd ed.)]
In the Aggadah
Jotham was one of the most righteous of the kings of Judah. He loyally observed the fifth commandment by being content to act as regent during his father's reign, without even aspiring to the throne. Moreover, he always gave a ruling in his father's name. Simeon b. Yohai referred to Jotham's piety in the statement: "I alone am able to exempt the world from judgment from the day I was born until now; were my son Eliezer with me, we could exempt it from creation until now; and were Jotham with us, we could exempt it from the creation of the world until its end" (Suk. 45b).
The difficulties presented by the conflicting scriptural datings of the reigns of Amaziah and Jotham are explained by the statement that Jotham ruled for 20 years during the illness of his father, Uzziah. The scriptural reference to the 20th year of Jotham's reign (ii Kings 15:30), as against the statement that he reigned only for 16 years (ii Chron. 27:1), is resolved by pointing out that because of his piety four years were deducted from Ahab's reign and added to those of Jotham (sor 22).
Bright, Hist, 240, 256; Aharoni, in: Tarbiz, 21 (1940), 94ff.; S. Yeivin, Luhot Kronologiyyim… (1962); E. Auerbach, Wueste und Gelobtes Land, 2 (1936), 85ff.; Tadmor, in: A. Malamat (ed.), Bi-Ymei Bayit Rishon (1961), 158ff.; em, s.v. (includes bibliography). aggadah: Ginzberg, Legends, index; I. Ḥasida, Ishei ha-Tanakh (1964), 197. add. bibliography: M. Cogan and H. Tadmor, ii Kings (ab; 1988); S. Japhet, i & ii Chronicles (1993), 889–93; J. Kuntz, in: abd, 3:1021–22.