Zedekiah (/ˌzɛdɪˈkaɪə/), also written Tzidkiyahu,[a] originally
called Mattanyahu or Mattaniah, was a biblical character, the last
king of Judah before the destruction of the kingdom by Babylon.
Zedekiah had been installed as king of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar II,
king of Babylon, after a siege of
Jerusalem in 597 BC, to succeed his
nephew, Jeconiah, who was overthrown as king after a reign of only
three months and ten days.
William F. Albright
William F. Albright dates the start of Zedekiah's reign to 598 BC,
E. R. Thiele
E. R. Thiele gives the start in 597 BC. On that reckoning,
Zedekiah was born in c. 617 BC or 618 BC, being twenty-one on becoming
king. Zedekiah's reign ended with the siege and fall of
Nebuchadnezzar II, which has been dated to 587 or 586 BC.
Jeremiah was his counselor, yet he did not heed the
prophet and his epitaph is "he did evil in the sight of the Lord". (2
2 Life and reign
4 Chronological notes
5 Genealogical note
6 Book of Mormon
7 See also
Babylon rose against Assyria it caused upheavals that led to the
destruction of Judah. Egypt, concerned about the new threat, moved
northward to support Assyria. It set on the march in 608, moving via
Josiah attempted to block the Egyptian forces, and fell
mortally wounded in battle at Megiddo. Josiah's younger son Jehoahaz
was chosen to succeed his father to the throne. Three months later the
Egyptian pharaoh Necho, returning from the north, deposed Jehoahaz in
favor of his older brother, Jehoiakim. Jehoahaz was taken back to
Egypt as a captive.
After the Egyptians were defeated by the Babylonians at the Battle of
Carchemish in 605 BC,
Nebuchadnezzar II then besieged Jerusalem.
Jehoiakim changed allegiances to avoid the destruction of Jerusalem.
He paid tribute from the treasury, some temple artifacts, and some of
the royal family and nobility as hostages. The subsequent failure
of the Babylonian invasion into
Egypt undermined Babylonian control of
the area, and after three years,
Jehoiakim switched allegiance back to
the Egyptians and ceased paying the tribute to Babylon. In 599 BC,
Nebuchadnezzar II invaded Judah and again laid siege to Jerusalem. In
Jehoiakim died during the siege and was succeeded by his son
Jeconiah (also known as Jehoiachin).
Jerusalem fell within three
Jeconiah was deposed by Nebuchadnezzar, who installed
Zedekiah, Jehoiakim's brother, in his place.
Life and reign
Nebuchadnezzar faces off against Zedekiah, who holds a plan of
Jerusalem, in this Baroque-era depiction in
Zwiefalten Abbey in
According to the Hebrew Bible,
Zedekiah was made king of Judah by
Nebuchadnezzar II in 597 BC at the age of twenty-one. This is in
agreement with a Babylonian chronicle, which states, "The seventh
year: In the month Kislev the king of Akkad mustered his army and
marched to Hattu. He encamped against the city of Judah and on the
second day of the month Adar he captured the city (and) seized (its)
king. A king of his own choice he appointed in the city (and) taking
the vast tribute he brought it into Babylon."
The kingdom was at that time tributary to Nebuchadnezzar II. Despite
the strong remonstrances of Jeremiah, Baruch ben Neriah and his other
family and advisors, as well as the example of Jehoiakim, he revolted
against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with
Pharaoh Hophra of
Egypt. Nebuchadnezzar responded by invading Judah (2 Kings 25:1).
Nebuchadnezzar began a siege of
Jerusalem in December 589 BC. During
this siege, which lasted about thirty months, "every worst woe
befell the city, which drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs" (2
Kings 25:3; Lamentations 4:4, 5, 9).
At the end of Zedekiah's eleven-year reign, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded
in capturing Jerusalem.
Zedekiah and his followers attempted to
escape, making their way out of the city, but were captured on the
plains of Jericho, and were taken to Riblah.
There, after seeing his sons put to death, his own eyes were put out,
and, being loaded with chains, he was carried captive to
Kings 25:1–7; 2 Chronicles 36:12;
Jeremiah 32:4–5; 34:2–3;
39:1–7; 52:4–11; Ezekiel 12:13), where he remained a prisoner
until he died.
After the fall of Jerusalem,
Nebuzaradan was sent to destroy it. The
city was plundered and razed to the ground.
Solomon's Temple was
destroyed. Only a small number of vinedressers and husbandmen were
permitted to remain in the land (
Gedaliah, with a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah, was made governor
to rule over the remnant of Judah, the Yehud Province (2 Kings
Jeremiah 40:6–8). On hearing this news, all the Jews that
were in Moab, Ammon, Edom, and in other countries returned to Judah
Jeremiah 40:11–12). However, before long
Gedaliah was assassinated,
and the population that was left in the land and those that had
returned fled to
Egypt for safety (2 Kings 25:26,
In Egypt, they settled in Migdol, Tahpanhes, Noph, and Pathros.
Zedekiah's sons are slaughtered before his eyes, by Gustave Doré
Babylonian Chronicles give 2 Adar (16 March), 597 BC, as the date
that Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, thus putting an end to the
reign of Jehoaichin. Zedekiah's installation as king by
Nebuchadnezzar can therefore be firmly dated to the early spring of
597 BC. Historically there has been considerable controversy over the
Jerusalem was captured the second time and Zedekiah's reign
came to an end. There is no dispute about the month: it was the summer
month of Tammuz (
Jeremiah 52:6). The problem has been to determine the
year. It was noted above that Albright preferred 587 BC and Thiele
advocated 586 BC, and this division among scholars has persisted until
the present time. If Zedekiah's years are by accession counting,
whereby the year he came to the throne was considered his "zero" year
and his first full year in office, 597/596, was counted as year one,
Zedekiah's eleventh year, the year the city fell, would be 587/586.
Since Judean regnal years were measured from Tishri in the fall, this
would place the end of his reign and the capture of the city in the
summer of 586 BC. Accession counting was the rule for most, but not
all, of the kings of Judah, whereas "non-accession" counting was the
rule for most, but not all, of the kings of Israel.
The publication of the
Babylonian Chronicles in 1956, however, gave
evidence that the years of
Zedekiah were measured in a non-accession
sense. This reckoning makes year 598/597 BC, the year
installed by Nebuchadnezzar according to Judah's Tishri-based
calendar, to be year "one," so that the fall of
Jerusalem in his
eleventh year would have been in year 588/587 BC, i.e. in the summer
of 587 BC. The
Babylonian Chronicles allow the fairly precise dating
of the capture of
Jehoiachin and the start of Zedekiah's reign, and
they also give the accession year of Nebuchadnezzar's successor
Amel-Marduk (Evil Merodach) as 562/561 BC, which was the 37th year of
Jehoiachin's captivity according to 2 Kings 25:27. These Babylonian
records related to Jehoiachin's reign are consistent with the fall of
the city in 587 but not in 586, as explained in the
Jeconiah article, thus vindicating Albright's date.
Nevertheless, scholars who assume that Zedekiah's reign should be
calculated by accession reckoning will continue to adhere to the 586
date, and so the infobox contains this as an alternative.
Zedekiah was the third son of Josiah, and his mother was
Jeremiah of Libnah, thus he was the brother of Jehoahaz (2
Kings 23:31, 24:17-18, 23:31, 24:17-18).
His original name was Mattanyahu (Hebrew: מַתַּנְיָהוּ,
Mattanyāhû, "Gift of God"; Greek: Μαθθανιας; Latin:
Matthanias; traditional English: Mattaniah), but when Nebuchadnezzar
II placed him on the throne as the successor to Jehoiachin, he changed
his name to
Zedekiah (2 Kings 24:17).
Book of Mormon
According to the Book of Mormon, Zedekiah's son
Mulek escaped death
and traveled across the ocean to the Americas, where he founded a
nation, the Mulekites, which later merged with another Israelite
splinter group, the Nephites.
House of David
King of Judah
597–587 or 586 BC
Judah conquered by
Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon
Leader of the House of David
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zedekiah.
Jehoiachin for more complete discussion of 587 vs. 586
^ Hebrew: צִדְקִיָּהוּ, Modern Ṣidəqíyahū,
Tiberian Ṣiḏeqiyā́hû, "My righteousness is Yahweh"; Greek:
Σεδεκίας, Sedekías; Latin: Sedecias
^ a b Edwin Thiele, The Mysterious Numbers of the Hebrew Kings, (1st
ed.; New York: Macmillan, 1951; 2d ed.; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1965;
3rd ed.; Grand Rapids: Zondervan/Kregel, 1983).
ISBN 0-8254-3825-X, 9780825438257, 217.
^ Robb Andrew Young (3 May 2012).
Hezekiah in History and Tradition.
BRILL. p. 18. ISBN 90-04-21608-1.
^ Bakon, Shimon. "Zedekiah: Last King of Judah", Jewish Bible
Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 2, 2008.
^ C. Hassell Bullock. An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophetic
Books. p. 340.
^ Rollinson, Shirley J. (June 28, 2017). "The Divided Monarchy c.
931–586 BC". Retrieved March 14, 2018.
^ The Oxford History of the Biblical World, ed. by Michael D Coogan.
Published by Oxford University Press, 1999. pg 350
^ Readings from the Ancient Near East: Primary Sources for Old
Testament Study. Baker Academic. p. 159.
^ Knight, Doug and Amy-Jill Levine (2011). The Meaning of the Bible.
New York City: HarperOne. p. 31. ISBN 9780062067739.
^ D. J. Wiseman, Chronicles of Chaldean Kings in the British Museum
(London: Trustees of the British Museum, 1956) 73.
^ Leslie McFall, "A Translation Guide to the Chronological Data in
Kings and Chronicles," Bibliotheca Sacra 148 (1991) 45.
^ "Helaman 6". scriptures.lds.org.
^ "Helaman 8". scriptures.lds.org.
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