Is the dating of Zedekiah a contradiction with the birth-order in 1 Chronicles?
Got this question:
Hi. I'm an inerrantist, and I believe you are too. I've been involved in apologetics most of my life and learned that most of the so-called errors in the Bible can be attributed to scribal errors of various kinds, or misinterpretations, or not accounting for the type of literature, etc. There is one passage, though, that's been brought to my attention that I cannot reconcile. I'm hoping you can help me with it.
1 Chron. 3:15 gives the immediate sons of Josiah in birth order. There we learn that Zedekiah was born before Jehoahaz (=Shallum, 2 Kings 23:30), i.e. Zedekiah was older than Jehoahaz.
Jehoahaz was 23 years old when he began to reign (2 Kings 23:31; 2 Chron. 36:2). He reigned a while and was succeeded by Jehoiakim who was succeeded by Jehoiachin who was succeeded by Zedekiah.
2 Kings 24:18 and 2 Chron. 36:11 say that Zedekiah was 21 years old when he became king. All the books I've referenced say that this is the same Zedekiah who was the son of Josiah, i.e., Jehoahaz's older brother.
So the question is, how could Zedekiah, who is older than Jehoahaz, be younger than him when he began to reign, in light of the passage of time between Jehoahaz's kingship and Zedekiah's??
Thank you so much for your thoughts on this. In all my years of tracking down apparent discrepancies, this is the first one I've come across that I have no explanation for.
So, here's what I came up with:
One: As far as I can tell, most commentators do not take the 1 Chron 3.15 verse as stating 'birth order'. They generally cannot find any clear logic to the sequence, but offer a few conjectures for why/how the names were listed in that order:
· "The linear pattern found in 3:10–14, however, is broken at 3:15 with the introductory phrase “the sons of Josiah,” which initiates a genealogical pattern that will structure the remainder of the list. Although the list from this point on will include individuals who reigned on Judah’s throne after Josiah (Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah), it is not presented as following the order of their reigns as was the case from Solomon to Josiah. Additionally, an individual called Johanan (identified as the firstborn of Josiah) is named first, yet he did not reign in Judah, creating a break in the list of monarchs that began with Solomon. For every generation following Josiah (except one Shemaiah, son of Shecaniah, 3:22), a list of multiple (at least two and sometimes up to seven) potential heirs is provided for each generation before the son of the chosen potential heir is then identified to carry the line to the next generation." [Mark J. Boda, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1-2 Chronicles (vol. 5; Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010), 53–54.]
· "The kings of the house of David from Solomon till the exile.—Until Josiah the individual kings are mentioned in their order, each with the addition בְּנֹו, son of the preceding, vv. 10–14; the only omission being that of the usurper Athaliah, because she did not belong to the posterity of David. But in v. 15 four sons of Josiah are mentioned, […] because with Josiah the regular succession to the throne in the house of David ceased. For the younger son Jehoahaz, who was made king after his father’s death by the people, was soon dethroned by Pharaoh-Necho, and led away captive to Egypt; and of the other sons Jehoiakim was set up by Pharaoh, and Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar, so that both were only vassals of heathen lords of the land, and the independent kingship of David came properly to an end with the death of Josiah….But in our genealogy Zedekiah is introduced after Jehoiakim, and before Shallum, because, on the one hand, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah had occupied the throne for a longer period, each having been eleven years king; and on the other, Zedekiah and Shallum were sons of Hamutal (2 Kings 23:31; 24:18), while Jehoiakim was the son of Zebudah (2 Kings 23:36). According to age, they should have followed each other in this order—Johanan, Jehoiakim, Shallum, and Zedekiah; and in respect to their kingship, Shallum should have stood before Jehoiakim. But in both cases those born of the same mother, Hamutal, would have been separated. To avoid this, apparently, Shallum has been enumerated in the fourth place, along with his full brother Zedekiah." [Keil&Delitzsch]
· "There is some debate over the list in 3:15–16. The name Johanan, which appears at the head of the list of Josiah’s sons in 3:15, is unique to the Chronicler and is considered by many to be a firstborn son who was outlived by his father Josiah. The rest of the names in 3:15, however, do not follow birth order (Jehoiakim, Jehoahaz/Shallum, Zedekiah) or reign order (Jehoahaz/Shallum, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah). Some have suggested a complicated text-critical solution in which Johanan replaced two variants of Jehoahaz/Shallum at the beginning of the list and that this replacement pushed Shallum to the end of the verse. However, in keeping with classic text-critical reasoning, the more difficult reading in the present text is to be preferred and may be explained by the Chronicler’s agenda to heighten the line of Jehoiakim-Jehoiachin over those of Zedekiah and Jehoahaz/Shallum. In 3:16 the NLT translates “sons of” as “successors of” and calls Zedekiah “his brother” rather than “his son” as it appears in the Hebrew text (see NLT mg). This translation suggests that the Zedekiah in 3:16 is Jehoiakim’s brother Zedekiah, already listed in 3:15. However, the Chronicler identifies a son of Jehoiakim and brother of Jehoiachin whose name was Zedekiah (to name a son after a brother would not be an oddity, see 2:9, 25). This would follow the dominant pattern from 3:15–24 to identify a favored individual from a multiple list of potential heirs. " [Mark J. Boda, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1-2 Chronicles (vol. 5; Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010), 53–54.]
· "Four sons of Josiah are named. The first of these, Johanan, is otherwise unknown, and the fourth, Shallum, is in Jer. 22:11 identified with Jehoahaz. Their rather unusual order of rule appears to have been Shallum, Jehoiakim, Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah (2 Kings 23-25; 2 Chron. 36). It has been conjectured that Shallum rather than Jehoiakim may have been chosen to rule after Josiah’s death because of the pro-Egyptian posture of the latter, who was duly placed upon the throne by the Egyptians after the brief reign of his younger brother" [James Luther Mays, ed., Harper’s Bible Commentary (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 346.]
· "15. And the sons of Josiah: the firstborn Johanan—This refers to Jehoahaz, who was captured by Pharaoh-Neco and exiled to Egypt, where he died. He was called by two names. Why is Jehoahaz called Josiah's firstborn, if his brother, Jehoiakim, was older than he? Scripture states (II Kings 23:31) that Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and in verse 36, it says that Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king. Since Jehoahaz reigned only three months and was immediately succeeded by Jehoiakim, Jehoiakim was two years his senior. The Sages (Ker. 5b) explain that Scripture means that he was the first to occupy the throne.—[Redak] " [Judaica Books, Chronicles, volume 1, pp 22/23]
· "15. the first-born Johanan. In 2 Kings xxiii. 30 Josiah's successor is named Jehoahaz. Though he was the second son of Josiah (cf. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 2, 5) he is here described as the first-born because he ascended the throne before his elder brother, Jehoiakim. … the second. In succession to the throne." [Soncino books of the bible, Chronicles, p.19]
· "And the sons of Josiah: Johanan the firstborn, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum: The order of the successors of Josiah on the throne were (1) his son Jehoahaz (2 Chr 36:1), also known as Shallum (Jer 22:11); (2) his son Jehoiakim (2 Chr 36:4), also known as Eliakim; (3) Jehoiakim’s son Jehoiachin (2 Chr 36:8), called Jeconiah in vv. 16–17 and Coniah elsewhere; and finally (4) Josiah’s son Zedekiah (2 Chr 36:10), also known as Mattaniah. The birth order of Josiah’s sons was: Jehoiakim, born in 634; Jehoahaz, born in 632; and Zedekiah, born in 619. Hence the order of Josiah’s sons in this verse corresponds neither to their chronological ages (since Shallum should precede Zedekiah), nor to the sequence of their reigns (since Shallum should precede Jehoiakim) despite the fact that they are called the firstborn, second, third, and fourth. Even the age of Josiah, born in 648, is somewhat of a problem. Josiah would have been only fourteen when Jehoiakim was born, and Johanan would have been born even earlier, though with kings having more than one wife the birth date need not be much earlier" [Ralph W. Klein, 1 Chronicles: A Commentary (ed. Thomas Krüger; Hermeneia—a Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible; Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2006), 117–118.]
· "15 Similar is the name Shallum (as in Jer 22:11) for Jehoahaz (2 Chronicles 36:1–4; 2 Kings 23:31–34). Though younger than Jehoiakim, he was preferred to him for the throne, following Josiah’s death in 609 B.C. (see 2 Chronicles 36:2 mg.); and though older in fact than Zedekiah (36:2, 11), he is here listed after him, probably because his reign was so much shorter." [ J. Barton Payne, “1, 2 Chronicles,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: 1 & 2 Kings, 1 & 2 Chronicles, Ezra, Nehemiah, Esther, Job (ed. Frank E. Gaebelein; vol. 4; Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1988), 4338–339.]
So, even though most of the suggestions are conjectural, there seems to be a consensus that the four names are not in birth order.
TWO: But the most persuasive explanation of this order is given by Kalimi (drawing upon Zakovitch and Weiss) in [The Reshaping of Ancient Israelite History in Chronicles. Isaac Kalimi. Eisenbrauns:2005, chapter 18, "Numerical Patterns"]:
"Numerical patterns are whole numbers used in a literary unit to structure a "pattern in which the number of component parts is X + 1, with the final component being the decisive one." These whole numbers not only shape what is being said in the unit but also constitute a means of emphasizing the item that matters most. Sometimes the number is mentioned explicitly in the literary unit, but on other occasions the reader must discover it by reading the unit carefully. This literary feature is common in almost all genres of the Bible as well as in postbiblical literature" [p. 362]
He discusses two patterns in this chapter: the 3-4 and the 7-8.
The 3-4 pattern ("Shaping a Text in a Three-Four Numerical Pattern") uses the 4th place position (last) to be the preeminent item, regardless of actual birth/chronological order.
He gives 3 relevant examples: Solomon, Shallum, Ish-bosheth.
For Solomon, he cites the Chroniclers formulation of Bathshua's sons in 1 Chron 3.5-8. The Chronicler uses the list given in 2 Sam 5.14-16, adding an interjection to delineate Bathshua's offspring.
· 2 Sam 5.13ff reads "And David took more concubines and wives from Jerusalem, after he came from Hebron, and more sons and daughters were born to David. 14 And these are the names of those who were born to him in Jerusalem: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada, and Eliphelet."
· 1 Chron 3.5-8 reads "These were born to him in Jerusalem: Shimea, Shobab, Nathan and Solomon, four by Bath-shua, the daughter of Ammiel; 6 then Ibhar, Elishama, Eliphelet, 7 Nogah, Nepheg, Japhia, 8 Elishama, wEliada, and Eliphelet, nine."
The addition by the Chronicler represents Solomon as fourth/youngest/last of Bath-shua, but the narrative in 2 Sam 12:15, 25-24-25 presents Solomon as the second son (or the only/first surviving/named son). The chronicler has placed Solomon LAST to give him the PREEMINENCE over those younger than him (or less distinguished than him). Thus, birth order is not maintained by the Chronicler (as it was not maintained by 2 Samuel 5 either). [TN: Kalimi understands this differently, ascribing an error/contradiction to the narrative in 2 Sam 12, but I see no reason that this conclusion need be adopted.]
For Shallum, the same pattern is noted:
"l Chr 3:15 reads: 'The sons of Josiah: the firstborn was Johanan, the second Jehoiakim, the third Zedekiah, and the fourth Shallum'. Shallum (= Jehoahaz) was born after Jehoiakim and before Zedekiah. Placing him in the fourth slot, after Zedekiah, stems from wanting to formulate the list according to the "three-four" pattern; that is, Shallum, who succeeded his father on the throne and reigned before his brothers Jehoiakim and Zedekiah (2 Kgs 23:30-24:17 // 2 Chr 36:1-10), is presented here in fourth place." [p. 364]
And similarly for Ish-bosheth:
"The list of Saul's sons in 1 Chr 8:33 (= 9:39) reads: 'Saul begat Jonathan, Malchi-shua, Abinadab, and Esh-baal'. Esh-baal (= Ish-bosheth = Ishui), who succeeded his father, is here listed in fourth place for the sake of the "three-four" pattern, in contrast to second place, where he appears in 1 Sam 14:49." [p. 364]
So this explanation both removes the age-problem, and shows the 'normalcy' of this literary device.
THREE: We should note that the identity of this "Shallum" is disputed, with different scholars taking different positions. Some even identify him with another name in the list (making the list only 3 sons instead of 4).
Probably most argue that Shallum is Jehoahaz (who does not show up in the list of Josiah's sons otherwise).
· "Johanan, the first-born of the sons of Josiah, is not to be identified with Jehoahaz, whom the people raised to the throne. For, in the first place, it appears from the statement as to the ages of Jehoahaz and Jehoiakim in 2 Kings 23:31, 36, 2 Chron. 36:2, 5, that Jehoahaz was two years younger than Jehoiakim, and consequently was not the first-born. In Jer. 22:11 it is expressly declared that Shallum, the fourth son of Josiah, was king of Judah instead of his father, and was led away into captivity, and never saw his native land again, as history narrates of Jehoahaz. From this it would appear that Shallum took, as king, the name Jehoahaz." [Keil&Delitzsch]
· "3:15 Jehoahaz. The name Shallum appears in the Hebrew text (NLT mg). Jeremiah 22:10–12 (see NLT mg) informs us that Shallum was the name of the king who succeeded Josiah, but 2 Chr 36:2, 4 as well as 2 Kgs 23:30–34 call him Jehoahaz or Joahaz. This must be the same person." [Mark J. Boda, Cornerstone Biblical Commentary: 1-2 Chronicles (vol. 5; Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers, 2010), 53–54.]
· "Four sons of Josiah are named. The first of these, Johanan, is otherwise unknown, and the fourth, Shallum, is in Jer. 22:11 identified with Jehoahaz." [James Luther Mays, ed., Harper’s Bible Commentary (San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988), 346."]
But the older Jewish sages had a different reconstruction (although they were not always in agreement):
"15. And the sons of Josiah: the firstborn Johanan—This refers to Jehoahaz, who was captured by Pharaoh-Neco and exiled to Egypt, where he died. He was called by two names. Why is Jehoahaz called Josiah's firstborn, if his brother, Jehoiakim, was older than he? Scripture states (II Kings 23:31) that Jehoahaz was twenty-three years old when he became king, and in verse 36, it says that Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he became king. Since Jehoahaz reigned only three months and was immediately succeeded by Jehoiakim, Jehoiakim was two years his senior. The Sages (Ker. 5b) explain that Scripture means that he was the first to occupy the throne.—[Redak]; --- the third Zedekiah, the fourth Shallum—Our Sages say (ad loc.) that Shallum and Zedekiah are the same person. He was called Shallum because he was perfect in his deeds; he was a very righteous man in a wicked generation. Another reason is that the kingdom of the house of David ended, or was completed, in his time. He was the third of the sons of Josiah, but the fourth to occupy the throne. Redak maintains that according to the simple meaning of the verse, Shallum was Jehoiachin the son of Jehoiakim, the son of Josiah. We cannot say that Josiah had another son because we find among the kings after Josiah only Jehoahaz, Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah; yet in Jeremiah (22:11), Shallum is mentioned as a king : "For so said the Lord concerning Shallum son of Josiah, king of Judah," referring to Jehoiachin. Although he was his grandson, he is referred to as a son, as is common in Scripture. For that reason, he is referred to here as one of Josiah's sons, and is listed here because he occupied the throne of Josiah before his uncle, Zedekiah. [Note that Rashi in his commentary on Jeremiah explains that passage as referring to Zedekiah.]" [Judaica Books, Chronicles, volume 1, pp 22/23]
"15. the first-born Johanan. In 2 Kings xxiii. 30 Josiah's successor is named Jehoahaz. Though he was the second son of Josiah (cf. 2 Chron. xxxvi. 2, 5) he is here described as the first-born because he ascended the throne before his elder brother, Jehoiakim.--- Shallum. He is identified by some with Jehoiachin, and by others with Jehoahaz (cf. Jer. xxii. 11 with 2 Chron. xxxvi. 1)." [Soncino books of the bible, Chronicles, p.19]
In the Talmud, b. Ker. 5b and b. Hor. 11b state that Zedekiah was the last king, and they identify Shallum with Zedekiah and Johanan with Jehoahaz [passages below are from Jacob Neusner, The Babylonian Talmud: A Translation and Commentary (vol. 22a; Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2011).]
The passage from b. Keritot:
V.12 A. “Jehoahaz because of the claim of his brother, Jehoiakim, who was two years older:”
B. But was he really older? And has it not been written, “And the sons of Josiah: the first born, Yohanan; the second, Jehoiakim, the third, Zedekiah, and the fourth, Shallum” (1 Chr. 3:15)? And in this connection R. Yohanan said, “Yohanan was the same as Jehoahaz, and Zedekiah the same as Shallum” [so Jehoahaz was the firstborn].
C. Indeed Jehoiakim was older, but the other was called first born because he was first in the line of succession to the throne.
D. But can one give preference to the younger over the elder son in that context? Is it not written, “And the kingdom he gave to Jehoram for he was firstborn” (2 Chr. 31:3)?
E. That one had followed in his father’s footsteps [but the one who did not do so had no right of firstborn].
V.13 A. A master has said, “Zedekiah the same as Shallum.”
B. But lo, they are specified by ordinal numbers [so these cannot be identical]!
C. Zedekiah is called “the third” because he was the third among the sons, and why fourth? because he was fourth in line to the throne, because Jeconiah ruled before him; Jehoahaz was the first successor, then came Jehoiakim, then Jeconiah, then Zedekiah.
V.14 A. Our rabbis have taught on Tannaite authority:
B. Zedekiah is the same as Shallum, and why is he called Shallum? Because he was whole and complete in all his deeds.
C. Another explanation: he was called Shallum, because the kingdom of the house of David came to its completion and conclusion in his days.
D. But what was his real name? It was Mattaniah, as it is written, “And the king of Babylonian made Mattaniah, his father’s brother, king in his stead, and he changed his name to Zedekiah” (2 Kgs. 24:17).
E. For [Nebuchadnezzar] said to him, “May God deal in strict justice with you if you rebel against me.”
F. So it is written, “And he brought him to Babylonia” (2 Chr. 36:10), “and he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by the Lord” (2 Chr. 36:13).
And from b. Horayot:
I.8 A. Joahaz because of Jehoiakim, who was two years older than he:
B. But was he really older than he? And is it not written, “Now the sons of Joash were: the first born, Yohanan; the second, Jehoiakim, the third, Zedekiah, the fourth, Shallum” (1 Chr. 3:15). And said R. Yohanan, “Shallum and Zedekiah were one and the same person, and Yohanan and Jehoahaz were one and the same person.”
C. In point of fact, Jehoiakim was the older, for what is the meaning of “first born” here? It means, “first in the succession to the throne” [but not older].
D. Sure, but then do the younger heirs to the throne take precedence over the older ones? In point of fact the opposite is stated in context: “And their father gave them many gifts, but the kingdom he gave to Joram, for he was firstborn” (2 Chr. 21:3).
E. But Joram filled the place of his fathers, while Jehoiakim did not fill the place of his fathers [but transgressed the Torah]. [Jaffee: since Jehoiakim proved unsuitable, the term firstborn applied to him describes the order of his succession, not that of his birth.
I.9 A. The master has said: Shallum and Zedekiah were one and the same person, and Yohanan and Jehoahaz were one and the same person.
B. But are they not reckoned individually, since it is written, “the third, Zedekiah, the fourth, Shallum”?
C. What is the meaning of “third”? Third of the sons. And what is the meaning of the fourth? Fourth in royal succession. For to begin with Jehoahaz ruled, then Jehoiakim, then Jekoniah, and finally Zedekiah [Shallum].
I.10 A. Our rabbis have taught on Tannaite authority:
B. Shallum and Zedekiah were one and the same person.
C. When why is he called Shallum? Because his deeds were whole [and without flaw].
D. There are those who say:
E. Shallum—because the kingdom of the House of David was finished in his time.
F. And what was his name? It was Mattaniah: “And the king of Babylonia placed Mattaniah … on the throne instead of him and he changed his name to Zedekiah” (2 Kgs. 24:17).
G. He said to him, “May the Lord execute justice against you if you rebel against me.”
H. And it is written, “Look, the King of Babylonia is coming to Jerusalem, and he will take her king and her princes and will bring them to him in Babylonia. Then he will take a royal descendant and make a pact with him and bind him with an oath” (Ez. 17:12–13).
I. And concerning Zedekiah: “And further he rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzer, to whom he had sworn by God’s name” (2 Chr. 36:13).
So, modern interpreters see 4 names in the list, whereas the ancient Sages saw only 3.
FOUR: We probably should have known that something was 'odd' about this verse and the birth order, because AT MOST TWO of the names in the list are actually BIRTH NAMES (i.e., Johanan, who is believed to never have ascended to the throne; and Shallum--if you accept that he took 'Jehoahaz' as a throne-name). Every name is a throne-name or alternate name.
· "From this it would appear that Shallum took, as king, the name Jehoahaz. Johanan, the first-born, is not met with again in history, either because he died early, or because nothing remarkable could be told of him. Jehoiakim was called Eliakim before he was raised to the throne (2 Kings 23:24). Zedekiah was at first Mattaniah (2 Kings 24:17)." [Keil&Delitzsch]
· "Similarly Shallum (v. 15) is given his throne name, Jehoahaz (cf. Jer 22:11). … The other three sons of Josiah, Jehoiakim, Zedekiah (whose name originally was Mattaniah; cf. 2 Kgs 24:17), and Shallum are listed here in the order of their age and not in the order of their accession to the throne, which was Jehoahaz (2 Kgs 23:30), Jehoiakim (Eliakim, 2 Kgs 23:34), and Zedekiah. Jehoiachin (whose name in the Heb. text here is Jeconiah; cf. Esth 2:9; Jer 24:1; 27:20; 28:4; 29:2)…" [J. A. Thompson, 1, 2 Chronicles (vol. 9; The New American Commentary; Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994), 69.]
So, if it were a birth-name list it would be "Johanan, Eliakim, Mattaniah, Shallum/Jehoahaz".
This mixture of types of names might have tipped us off that it was not strictly a birth-order list.
FIVE: We could have also suspected that the names were not in order since they were grouped by maternal origins and there is no reason to assume that each mother finished their birth periods before the next one 'took over'. The multitude of wives and concubines necessary in royal households would have generated many 'overlapping birth sequences' without being mentioned in the text (unlike the birthing of the 12 sons of Jacob). And the case of the sons of Jacob have the birth order given specifically as alternating between wives and wife-maidens.
So, in our case we have Johoiakim and Jonanan as sons of the wife Zebidah, and Zedekiah and Jehoahaz (=Shallum) as sons of Hamutal.
Keil and Delitzch had remarked on that ordering, in their discussion:
"But in our genealogy Zedekiah is introduced after Jehoiakim, and before Shallum, because, on the one hand, Jehoiakim and Zedekiah had occupied the throne for a longer period, each having been eleven years king; and on the other, Zedekiah and Shallum were sons of Hamutal (2 Kings 23:31; 24:18), while Jehoiakim was the son of Zebudah (2 Kings 23:36). According to age, they should have followed each other in this order—Johanan, Jehoiakim, Shallum, and Zedekiah; and in respect to their kingship, Shallum should have stood before Jehoiakim. But in both cases those born of the same mother, Hamutal, would have been separated. To avoid this, apparently, Shallum has been enumerated in the fourth place, along with his full brother Zedekiah." [Keil&Delitzsch]
The reality of overlapping can be seen in the summary, for example, of Rehoboam's marriages and progeny in 2 Chron 11.18-22:
"Rehoboam took as wife Mahalath the daughter of Jerimoth the son of David, and of Abihail the daughter of Eliab the son of Jesse, 19 and she bore him sons, Jeush, Shemariah, and Zaham. 20 After her he took Maacah the daughter of Absalom, who bore him Abijah, Attai, Ziza, and Shelomith. 21 Rehoboam loved Maacah the daughter of Absalom above all his wives and concubines (he took eighteen wives and sixty concubines, and fathered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters). 22 And Rehoboam appointed Abijah the son of Maacah as chief prince among his brothers, for he intended to make him king."
Since mothers typically nursed their children for 18 months after birth, the period between births would have been at least 9+18 months (or two-plus years). If 28 sons and 60 daughters (88 children) were done in 'maternal sequence', it would have required 88 x 2 year or 176 years from the start of the first marriage… Rehoboam died at around 58 years of age… HAD TO BE some overlap in there somewhere [even if 'wet nurses' were used, it would have required some 88 children x 9 months]…
So, again, the presumption would actually be AGAINST it being a birth-order, since there were two wives.
Okay, where does this leave us?
Basically without a 'concrete contradiction'. There are problems in the sequences and terminology between the various passages (and the LXX), due to the difficulty of identifying the various 'Zedekiahs'. But, although we cannot decisively work out all the sequences, we CAN say that we cannot affirm this issue to be a contradiction in the true sense of the word. We may not know exactly and with confidence what it IS saying, but we can know for sure that we CANNOT prove that it is contradicting this (or any other) passage.
Hope this helps,