Jehoiakim was the king of Judah. Jehoiakim’s reign marked the beginning of the end for the kingdom of Judah. Jehoiakim was originally named Eliakim by his father, Josiah, but Pharaoh Neco of Egypt changed his name after he took his brother King Jehoahaz captive to Egypt and installed Jehoiakim as the new king.
Jehoiakim was required to pay Pharaoh Neco a large sum of money, so he imposed a real estate tax to raise the money. The Bible characterizes Jehoiakim’s reign as evil (2 Kings 23:34–36).
Later the Babylonians gained control over Judah, and at first Jehoiakim chose to make Judah a vassal, or dependent state, of Babylon, rather than risk challenging their rule. Three years later, however, Jehoiakim rebelled, and King Nebuchadnezzar exiled him and many other leaders to Babylon (2 Chronicles 36:6)
Nebuchadnezzar then installed Jehoiakim’s son as king, later deposing and exiling him, too, and installing Jehoiakim’s brother as king. After that, the Babylonians broke down the walls of Jerusalem, and the temple itself was destroyed, bringing the kingdom of Judah to an end. For many years to come, the country would simply be a province of foreign powers.
Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were among those who were exiled to Babylon along with Jehoiakim (Daniel I). Though this exile was devastating to Judah as a country, and no doubt traumatic for those who were exiled, it appears that a few Judeans such as Daniel and his friends gained positions of leadership within the Babylonian government.
Daniel’s leadership even continued under the Persians, who conquered the Babylonians (Daniel 6:28).