Easton's Bible Dictionary
righteousness of Jehovah.
(1) The last king of Judah.
He was the third son of Josiah, and his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter
of Jeremiah of Libnah, and hence he was the brother of Jehoahaz ( 2 Kings 23:31
; 24:17 , 24:18 ). His original name was Mattaniah; but when Nebuchadnezzar placed
him on the throne as the successor to Jehoiachin he changed his name to Zedekiah.
The prophet Jeremiah was his counsellor, yet "he did evil in the sight of the
Lord" ( 2 Kings 24:19 , 24:20 ; Jeremiah 52:2 , 52:3 ). He ascended the throne
at the age of twenty-one years. The kingdom was at that time tributary to Nebuchadnezzar;
but, despite the strong remonstrances of Jeremiah and others, as well as the example
of Jehoiachin, he threw off the yoke of Babylon, and entered into an alliance
with Hophra, king of Egypt. This brought up Nebuchadnezzar, "with all his host"
(2 Kings 25:1 ), against Jerusalem. During this siege, which lasted about eighteen
months, "every worst woe befell the devoted city, which drank the cup of God's
fury to the dregs" ( 2 Kings 25:3 ; Lamentations 4:4 , 4:5 , 4:10 ). The city
was plundered and laid in ruins. Zedekiah and his followers, attempting to escape,
were made captive and taken to Riblah. There, after seeing his own children put
to death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains, he was carried
captive (B.C. 588) to Babylon ( 2 Kings 25:1 - 7 ; 2 Chronicles 36:12 ; Jeremiah
32:4 , 32:5 ; 34:2 , 34:3 ; 39:1 - 7 ; 52:4 - 11 ; Ezekiel 12:12 ), where he remained
a prisoner, how long is unknown, to the day of his death.
After the fall of Jerusalem, Nebuzaraddan was sent to carry out its complete destruction.
The city was razed to the ground. Only a small number of vinedressers and husbandmen
were permitted to remain in the land ( Jeremiah 52:16 ). Gedaliah, with a Chaldean
guard stationed at Mizpah, ruled over Judah ( 2 Kings 25:22 , 25:24 ; Jeremiah
40:1 , 40:2 , 40:5 , 40:6 ).
(2) The son of Chenaanah, a false prophet in the days of Ahab ( 1 Kings 22:11
, 22:24 ; 2 Chronicles 18:10 , 18:23 ).
(3) The son of Hananiah, a prince of Judah in the days of Jehoiakim ( Jeremiah
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
the Lord is my justice; the justice of the Lord
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(justice of Jehovah).
(1) The last king of Judah and Jerusalem.
He was the son of Josiah by his wife Hamutal, and therefore own brother to Jehoahaz.
( 2 Kings 24:18 ) comp. 2 Kings 23:31 His original name was Mattaniah, which was
changed to Zedekiah by Nebuchadnezzar when he carried off his nephew Jehoiachim
to Babylon and left him on the throne of Jerusalem.
Zedekiah was but twenty-one years old when he was thus placed in charge of an
impoverished kingdom, B.C. 597. His history is contained in a short sketch .of
the events of his reign given in ( 2 Kings 24:17 ; 25:7 ) and, with some trifling
variations in ( Jeremiah 39:1 - 7 ; 62:1 - 11 ) together with the still shorter
summary in ( 1 Chronicles 38:10 ) etc.; and also in Jeremiah 21 , 24 , 27 , 28
, 29 , 32 , 34 , 37 , 38 and ( Ezekiel 16:11 - 21 ) From these it is evident that
Zedekiah was a man not so much bad at heart as weak in will. It is evident from
Jeremiah 27 and 28 that the earlier portion of Zedekiah's reign was marked by
an agitation throughout the whole of Syria against the Babylonian yoke. Jerusalem
seems to have taken the lead, since in the fourth year of Zedekiahs reign we find
ambassadors from all the neighboring kingdoms --Tyre, Sidon, Edom and Moab --at
his court to consult as to the steps to be taken.
The first act of rebellion of which any record survives was the formation of an
alliance with Egypt, of itself equivalent to a declaration of enmity with Babylon.
As a natural consequence it brought on Jerusalem an immediate invasion of the
Chaldaeans. The mention of this event in the Bible though indisputable, is extremely
slight, and occurs only in ( Jeremiah 37:5 - 11 ; 34:21 ) and Ezekiel 17:15 -
20 but Josephus (x.7,3) relates it more fully, and gives the date of its occurrence,
namely, the eighth year of Zedekiah. (B.C. 589.) Nebuchadnezzar at once sent an
army to ravage Judea. This was done, and the whole country reduced, except Jerusalem
and two strong places in the western plain, Lachish and Azekah, which still held
out. ( Jeremiah 34:7 ) Called away for a time by an attack from Pharaoh and the
Egyptians, on the tenth day of the tenth month of Zedekiahs ninth year, the Chaldeans
were again before the walls. ( Jeremiah 52:4 ) From this time forward the siege
progressed slowly but surely to its consummation, The city was indeed reduced
to the last extremity. The bread had for long been consumed, ( Jeremiah 38:9 )
and all the terrible expedients had been tried to which the wretched inhabitants
of a besieged town are forced to resort in such cases. At last, after sixteen
dreadful months the catastrophe arrived. It was on the ninth day of the fourth
month, about the middle of July at midnight, as Josephus with careful minuteness
informs us, that the breach in those strong and venerable walls was effected.
The moon, nine days old, had gone down. The wretched remnants of the army acquitted
the city in the dead of night; and as the Chaldaean army entered the city at one
end, the king and his wives fled from it by the opposite gate. They took the road
toward the Jordan. As soon as the dawn of day permitted it, swift pursuit was
made. The kings party were overtaken near Jericho and carried to Nebuchadnezzar,
who was then at Riblah, at the upper end of the valley of Lebanon. Nebuchadnezzar,
with a refinement of barbarity characteristic of those cruel times ordered the
sons of Zedekiah to be killed before him, and lastly his own eyes to be thrust
out. He was then loaded with brazen fetters, and at a later period taken to Babylon,
where he died.
(2) Son of Chenaanah, a false prophet at the court of Ahab,
head, or, if not head, virtual leader, of the college. (B.C. 896.) He appears
but once viz. as spokesman when the prophets are consulted by Ahab on the result
of his proposed expedition to Ramoth-gilead. 1 Kings 22 ; 2 Chronicles 18. Zedekiah
had prepared himself for the interview with a pair of iron horns, with which he
illustrated the manner in which Ahab should drive the Syrians before him. When
Micaiah the prophet of the Lord appeared and had delivered his prophecy, Zedekiah
sprang forward and struck him a blow on the face, accompanying it by a taunting
(3) The son of Maaseiah, a false prophet in Babylon.
( Jeremiah 29:21 , 29:22 ) He was denounced in the letter of Jeremiah for having,
with Ahab the son of Kolaiah, buoyed up the people with false hopes, not for profane
and flagitious conduct. Their names were to become a by-word, tend their terrible
fate a warning. (B.C. 595.)
(4) The son of Hananiah, one of the princes of Judah in the time of Jeremiah.
( Jeremiah 38:12 ) (B.C. 605.)
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
zed-e-ki'-a (tsidhqiyahu, tsidhqiyah, "Yah my righteousness";
(1) The son of Chenaanah (1 Kings 22:11 , 24 ; 2 Chronicles 18:10 , 23).
Zedekiah was apparently the leader and spokesman of the 400 prophets attached
to the court in Samaria whom Ahab summoned in response to Jehoshaphat's request
that a prophet of Yahweh should be consulted concerning the projected campaign
against Ramoth-gilead. In order the better to impress his audience Zedekiah produced
iron horns, and said to Ahab, "With these shalt thou push the Syrians, until they
be consumed." He also endeavored to weaken the influence of Micaiah ben Imlah
upon the kings by asking ironically, "Which way went the Spirit of Yahweh from
me to speak unto thee?"
In Josephus (Ant., VIII, xv, 4) there is an interesting rearrangement and embellishment
of the Biblical narrative. There Zedekiah is represented as arguing that since
Micaiah contradicts Elijah's prediction as to the place of Ahab's death, he must
be regarded as a false prophet. Then, smiting his opponent, he prayed that if
he were in the wrong his right hand might forthwith be withered. Ahab, seeing
that no harm befell the hand that had smitten Micaiah, was convinced; whereupon
Zedekiah completed his triumph by the incident of the horns mentioned above.
(2) The son of Maaseiah (Jeremiah 29:21 - 23).
A false prophet who, in association with another, Ahab by name, prophesied among
the exiles in Babylon, and foretold an early return from captivity. Jeremiah sternly
denounced them, not only for their false and reckless predictions, but also for
their foul and adulterous lives, and declared that their fate at the hands of
Nebuchadnezzar should become proverbial in Israel.
(3) The son of Hananiah (Jeremiah 36:12).
One of the princes of Judah before whom Jeremiah's roll was read in the 5th year
(4) One of the officials who sealed the renewed covenant
(Nehemiah 10:1, the King James Version "Zid-kijah"). The fact that his name is
coupled with Nehemiah's suggests that he was a person of importance. But nothing
further is known of him.
(5) The last king of Judah (see following article).
The last king of Judah, uncle and successor of Jehoiachin; reigned 11 years, from
597 to 586, and was carried captive to Babylon.
I. SOURCES FOR HIS REGION AND TIME
Neither of the accounts in 2 Kings 24:18 - 25:7 and 2 Chronicles 36:11 - 21 refers,
as is the usual custom, to state annals; these ran out with the reign of Jehoiakim.
The history in 2 Kings is purely scribal and historianic in tone; 2 Chronicles,
especially as it goes on to the captivity, is more fervid and homiletic. Both
have a common prophetic origin; and indeed Jeremiah 52, which is put as an appendix
to the book of his prophecy, tells the story of the reign and subsequent events,
much as does 2 Kings, but in somewhat fuller detail.
Two prophets are watching with keen eyes the progress of this reign, both with
the poignant sense that the end of the Judean state is imminent: Jeremiah in Jerusalem
and Ezekiel, one of the captives in the deportation with Jehoiachin, in Babylon.
Dates are supplied with the prophecies of both: Jeremiah's numbered from the beginning
of the reign and not consecutive; Ezekiel's numbered from the beginning of the
first captivity, and so coinciding with Jeremiah's. From these dated prophecies
the principal ideas are to be formed of the real inwardness of the time and the
character of the administration.
The prophetic passages identifiable with this reign, counted by its years, are:
|Jeremiah 24, after the deportation of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah)--the inferior
classes left with Zedekiah (compare Ezekiel 11:15 ; 17:12 - 14);
Jeremiah 27 - 29, beginning of reign--false hopes of return of captives and futile
diplomacies with neighboring nations;
Jeremiah 51:59; 4th year--Zedekiah's visit to Babylon;
Ezekiel 4 - 7; 5th year--symbolic prophecies of the coming end of Judah;
Ezekiel 8 - 12; 6th year--quasi-clairvoyant view of the idolatrous corruptions
in Jerusalem; Ezekiel 17:11 - 21, same year--Zedekiah's treacherous intrigues
Ezekiel 21:18 - 23 ; 7th year--Nebuchadnezzar casting a divination to determine
his invasion of Judah; Jeremiah 21, undated but soon after--deputation from the
king to the prophet inquiring Yahweh's purpose; Jeremiah 34:1 - 7, undated--the
prophet's word to the king while Nebuchadnezzar's invasion is still among the
cities of the land;
Ezekiel 24:1 , 2 ; 9th year--telepathic awareness of the beginning of the siege,
synchronistic with Jeremiah 39:1 - 10 ; 2 Kings 25:1 - 7; Jeremiah 37 ; 38, undated,
but soon after--prophecies connected with the temporary raising of the siege and
the false faith of the ruling classes;
Jeremiah 32; 10th year--Jeremiah's redemption of his Anathoth property in the
midst of siege, and the good presage of the act;
Jeremiah 39; 11 th year--annalistic account of the breaching of the city wall
and the flight and eventual fate of the king. A year and a half later Ezekiel
(33:21 , 22) hears the news from a fugitive.
II. THE ADMINISTRATION OF THE LAST KING OF JUDAH
1. The Situation:
When Nebuchadnezzar took away Jehoiachin, and with him all the men of weight and
character (see under JEHOIACHIN), his object was plain: to leave a people so broken
in resources and spirit that they would not be moved to rebellion (see Ezekiel
17:14). But this measure of his effected a segmentation of the nation which the
prophets immediately recognized as virtually separating out their spiritual "remnant"
to go to Babylon, while the worldly and inferior grades remained in Jerusalem.
These are sharply distinguished from each other by Jeremiah in his parable of
the Figs (chapter 24), published soon after the first deportation. The people
that were left were probably of the same sort that Zephaniah described a few years
before, those who had "settled on their lees" (Zephaniah 1:12), a godless and
inert element in religion and state. Their religious disposition is portrayed
by Ezekiel in Zedekiah's 6th year, in his clairvoyant vision of the uncouth temple
rites, as it were a cesspool of idolatry, maintained under the pretext that Yahweh
had forsaken the land (see Ezekiel 8). Clearly these were not of the prophetic
stamp. It was over such an inferior grade of people that Zedekiah was appointed
to a thankless and tragic reign.
2. The Parvenu Temper:
For a people so raw and inexperienced in administration the prophets recognized
one clear duty: to keep the oath which they had given to Nebuchadnezzar (see Ezekiel
17:14 - 16). But they acted like men intoxicated with new power; their accession
to property and unwonted position turned their heads. Soon after the beginning
of the reign we find Jeremiah giving emphatic warning both to his nation and the
ambassadors of neighboring nations against a rebellious coalition (Jeremiah 27
mistakenly dated in the 4th year of Jehoiakim; compare 27:3 , 12); he has also
an encounter with prophets who, in contradiction of his consistent message, predict
the speedy restoration of Jehoiachin and the temple vessels. The king's visit
to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:59) was probably made to clear himself of complicity in
treasonable plots. Their evil genius, Egypt, however, is busy with the too headstrong
upstart rulers; and about the middle of the reign Zedekiah breaks his covenant
with his over-lord and, relying on Egypt, embarks on rebellion. The prophetic
view of this movement is, that it is a moral outrage; it is breaking a sworn word
(Ezekiel 17:15 - 19), and thus falsifying the truth of Yahweh.
This act of rebellion against the king of Babylon was not the only despite done
to "Yahweh's oath." Its immediate effect, of course, was to precipitate the invasion
of the Chaldean forces, apparently from Riblah on the Orontes, where for several
years Nebuchadnezzar had his headquarters. Ezekiel has a striking description
of his approach, halting to determine by arrow divination whether to proceed against
Judah or Ammon (Ezekiel 21:18 - 23). Before laying siege to Jerusalem, however,
he seems to have spent some time reducing outlying fortresses (compare Jeremiah
34:1 - 7); and during the suspense of this time the king sent a deputation to
Jeremiah to inquire whether Yahweh would not do "according to all his wondrous
works," evidently hoping for some such miraculous deliverance as had taken place
in the time of Sennacherib (Jeremiah 21:1). The prophet gives his uniform answer,
that the city must fall; advising the house of David also to "execute justice
and righteousness." Setting about this counsel as if they would bribe Yahweh's
favor, the king then entered into an agreement with his people to free all their
Hebrew bond-slaves (Jeremiah 34:8 - 10), and sent back a deputation to the prophet
entreating his intercession (Jeremiah 37:3), as if, having bribed Yahweh, they
might work some kind of a charm on the divine will. Nebuchadnezzar had meanwhile
invested the city; but just then the Egyptian army approached to aid Judah, and
the Babylonian king raised the siege long enough to drive the Egyptians back to
their own land; at which, judging that Yahweh had interfered as of old, the people
caused their slaves to return to their bondage (Jeremiah 34:11). This treachery
called forth a trenchant prophecy from Jeremiah, predicting not only the speedy
return of the Chaldean army (Jeremiah 37:6 - 10), but the captivity of the king
and the destruction of the city (Jeremiah 34:17 - 22). It was during this temporary
cessation of the siege that Jeremiah, attempting to go to Anathoth to redeem his
family property, was seized on the pretext of deserting to the enemy, and put
in prison (Jeremiah 37:11 - 15).
4. Character of the King:
During the siege, which was soon resumed, Zedekiah's character, on its good and
bad sides, was revealed through his frequent contact with the prophet Jeremiah.
The latter was a prisoner most of the time; and the indignities which he suffered,
and which the king heedlessly allowed, show how the prophet's word and office
had fallen in respect (compare the treatment he received, Jeremiah 26:16 - 19
with 37:15 ; 38:6). The king, however, was not arrogant and heartless like his
brother Jehoiakim; he was weak and without consistent principles; besides, he
was rather helpless and timid in the hands of his headstrong officials (compare
Jeremiah 38:5 , 24 - 26). His regard for the word of prophecy was rather superstitious
than religious: while the prophet's message and counsel were uniformly consistent,
he could not bring himself to follow the will of Yahweh, and seemed to think that
Yahweh could somehow be persuaded to change his plans (see Jeremiah 37:17 ; 38:14
- 16). His position was an exceedingly difficult one; but even so, he had not
the firmness, the wisdom, the consistency for it.
In his siege of the city Nebuchadnezzar depended mainly on starving it into surrender;
and we cannot withhold a measure of admiration for a body of defenders who, in
spite of the steadily decreasing food supply and the ravages of pestilence, held
the city for a year and a half.
5. His Fate:
During this time Jeremiah's counsel was well known: the counsel of surrender,
and the promise that so they could save their lives (Jeremiah 21:9 ; 38:2). It
was for this, indeed, that he was imprisoned, on the plea that he "weakened the
hands" of the defenders; and it was due to the mercy of a foreign slave that he
did not suffer death (Jeremiah 38:7 - 9). At length in the 11th year of Zedekiah's
reign, just as the supply of food in the city was exhausted, the Chaldean army
effected a breach in the wall, and the king of Babylon with his high officials
came in and sat in the middle gate. Zedekiah and his men of war, seeing this,
fled by night, taking the ill-advised route by the road to Jericho; were pursued
and captured in the plains of the Jordan; and Zedekiah was brought before the
king of Babylon at Riblah. After putting to death Zedekiah's sons and the nobles
of Judah before his eyes, the king of Babylon then put out the eyes of Zedekiah
and carried him captive to Babylon, where, it is uncertain how long after, he
died. Jeremiah had prophesied that he would die in peace and have a state mourning
(Jeremiah 34:4 , 5); Ezekiel's prophecy of his doom is enigmatic: "I will bring
him to Babylon to the land of the Chaldeans; yet shall he not see it, though he
shall die there" (Ezekiel 12:13).
6. Doom of the Nation:
The cruelly devised humiliation of the king was only an episode in the tragic
doom of the city and nation. Nebuchadnezzar was not minded to leave so stubborn
and treacherous a fortress on his path of conquest toward Egypt. A month after
the event at Riblah his deputy, Nebuzaradan, entered upon the reduction of the
city: burning the temple and all the principal houses, breaking down the walls,
carrying away the temple treasures still unpillaged, including the bronze work
which was broken into scrap metal, and deporting the people who were left after
the desperate resistance and those who had voluntarily surrendered. The religious
and state officials were taken to Riblah and put to death. "So," the historian
concludes, "Judah was carried away captive out of his land" (Jeremiah 52:27).
This was in 586 BC. This, however, was only the political date of the Babylonian
exile, the retributive limit for those leavings of Israel who for 11 years had
played an insincere game of administration and failed. The prophetic date, from
which Ezekiel reckons the years of exile, and from which the prophetic eye is
kept on the fortunes and character of the people who are to be redeemed, was 597
BC, when Jehoiachin's long imprisonment began and when the flower of Israel, transplanted
to a foreign home, began its term of submission to the word and will of Yahweh.
It was this saving element in Israel who still had a recognized king and a promised
future. By both Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Zedekiah was regarded not as Yahweh's anointed
but as the one whom Nebuchadnezzar "had made king" (Jeremiah 37:1 ; Ezekiel 17:16),
"the king that sitteth upon the throne of David" (Jeremiah 29:16). The real last
king of Judah was Jehoiachin; Ezekiel's title for Zedekiah is "prince" (Ezekiel
John A. Lees
John Franklin Genung
bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, define,
eyes cut out, history of, jeremiah counsellor, last king of judah, list of prophecies
during zedekiah's reign, mattaniah, prisoner of babylon, third son of josiah,