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Reference: Zedekiah


1. The twentieth and last king of Judah, son of Josiah and Hamutal, and uncle to Jeconiah his predecessor, 2Ki 24:17,19; Jer 52:1. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he carried Jeconiah to Babylon, with his wives, children, officers, and the best artificers in Judea, and put in his place his uncle Mattaniah, whose name he changed to Zedekiah, and made him promise with an oath that he would maintain fidelity to him. He was twenty-one years old when he began to reign at Jerusalem, and he reigned there eleven years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, committing the same crimes as Jehoiakim, 2Ki 24:18-20; 2Ch 36:11-13. Compare Jer 29:16-19; 34; 38:5; Eze 17:12,14,18. In the ninth year of his reign, he revolted against Nebuchadnezzar, trusting to the support of Pharaoh-hophra king of Egypt, which proved ineffectual, and despising the faithful remonstrance's of Jeremiah, Jer 37:2,5,7-10. In consequence of this the Assyrian marched his army into Judea, and took all the fortified places. In the eleventh year of his reign, on the ninth day of the fourth month, (July,) Jerusalem was taken, 588 BC. The king and his people endeavored to escape by favor of the night; but the Chaldean troops pursuing them, they were over-taken in the plain of Jericho. Zedekiah was taken and carried to Nebuchadnezzar, then at Riblah, in Syria, who reproached him with his perfidy, caused his children to be slain before his face and his own eyes to be put out; and then loading him with chains of brass, he ordered him to be sent to Babylon, 2Ki 25; Jer 39; 52; Eze 19. All these events remarkably fulfilled the predictions of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, in the chapters preciously referred to. Compare also, with respect to Zedekiah's blindness, Jer 34:3; Eze 12:13.

2. A false prophet, exposed by Micaiah when urging Ahab to fight with the Syrians, 1Ki 22:11-37. His fate is foreshadowed in 1Ki 22:25.

3. Another false prophet, denounced by Jeremiah, Jer 29:21-22.

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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 (2Ki 23:31; 24:17-18). 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" (2Ki 24:19-20; Jer 52:2-3). 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" (2Ki 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" (2Ki 25:3; La 4:4-5,10). 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 (2Ki 25:1-7; 2Ch 36:12; Jer 32:4-5; 34:2-3; 39:1-7; 52:4-11; Eze 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 (Jer 52:16). Gedaliah, with a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah, ruled over Judah (2Ki 25:22,24; Jer 40:1-2,5-6).

(2.) The son of Chenaanah, a false prophet in the days of Ahab (1Ki 22:11,24; 2Ch 18:10,23).

(3.) The son of Hananiah, a prince of Judah in the days of Jehoiakim (Jer 36:12).

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1. Judah's last king, 599 to 588 B.C. (See JEREMIAH .) Youngest son of Josiah and Hamutal (Jer 1:3; 37:1), brother to Jehoahaz (2Ki 24:17-18; 23:31). Ten years old when his father died, 21 when he mounted the throne. Originally named Mattaniah; Nebuchadnezzar changed his name to Zedekiah when he deposed Zedekiah's nephew Jehoiachin. This proves that Nebuchadnezzar treated his vassal kindly, allowing him to choose a new name (Zedekiah is Hebrew, "righteousness of Jehovah") and confirming it as a mark of his supremacy; this name was to be the pledge of his righteously keeping his covenant with Nebuchadnezzar who made him swear by God (Eze 17:12-16; 2Ch 36:13).

In 1Ch 3:15 Johanan is oldest, then Jehoiakim, Zedekiah is third in order, Shallum fourth, because Jehoiakim and Zedekiah reigned longer, namely, 11 years each; therefore Shallum, though king before Jehoiakim, is put last; on the other hand Zedekiah and Shallum were both sons of Hamutal, therefore put together. Had Zedekiah kept his oath of fealty he would have been safe, though dependent. But weak, vacillating, and treacherous, he brought ruin on his country and on himself. It was through the anger of Jehovah against Judah that Zedekiah was given up to his own rebellious devices, "stiffening his neck and hardening his heart from turning unto the Lord God of Israel" who warned him by Jeremiah; like Pharaoh of old (2Ch 36:12-13), he would "not humble himself" (Jer 38:5; 39:1-7; 52:1-11; and Jeremiah 21; 24; 27; 28; 29; 32; 33; 34; 37; 38).

In Jer 27:1 read "Zedekiah" for "Jehoiakim" with Syriac, Arabic, and one of Kennicott's manuscripts (compare Jer 27:3,12; and Jer 28:1, "in the fourth year ... of the reign of Zedekiah") The kings of Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Sidon sent ambassadors in his fourth year to urge Zedekiah to conspire with them against Nebuchadnezzar. But Jeremiah symbolized the futility of the attempt by sending "yokes" back by the ambassadors. Hananiah, who broke the yoke off Jeremiah's neck, died that year according to the Lord's sentence by Jeremiah. Baruch (Bar 1:8) represents Zedekiah as having caused silver vessels to be made to replace the golden ones carried off by Nebuchadnezzar; possibly this may have been owing to the impression made on Zedekiah by Hananiah's death.

In his eighth year (Josephus Ant. 10:7, Section 3) Zedekiah actually leagued with Egypt in treacherous violation of his compact with Nebuchadnezzar. But evidently (Jeremiah 27-28) Zedekiah had been secretly plotting before, in his fourth year; in that year he had gone to Babylon to allay Nebuchadnezzar's suspicion (Jer 51:59), and also sent messengers to Babylon (Jer 37:5-11; 34:21; Eze 17:13-20). Zedekiah disregarded Jehovah's words by Jeremiah, notwithstanding the warning given in Jeconiah's punishment. Still while the issue between the Chaldaeans and Pharaoh Hophra was undecided, he sent begging Jeremiah, Pray now unto the Lord our God for us.

Nebuchadnezzar on learning Zedekiah's treachery had sent a Chaldaean army which reduced all Judaea except Jerusalem, Lachish, and Azekah (Jeremiah 34). Zedekiah had in consequence induced the princes and people to manumit their Hebrew bond servants. But when Pharaoh Hophra compelled the Chaldaeans to raise the siege of Jerusalem, the princes and people in violation of the covenant enslaved their Hebrew servants again. So God by Jeremiah gave the enslavers a "liberty" (Jer 34:17) fatal to them, manumission from God's free service (Ps 119:45; Joh 8:36; 2Co 3:17), to pass under the bondage of the sword, pestilence, and famine.

Then followed Jeremiah's attempt to escape to his native place and his arrest. Zedekiah sent and took him out of prison, and asked, Is there any word from the Lord? to which the prophet, without regard to his personal interests, replied, "there is, for thou shalt be delivered into the hand of the king of Babylon." Zedekiah showed his sense of Jeremiah's faithfulness by ordering bread to be given him out of the bakers' street until all the bread in the city was spent (Pr 28:23; Ps 37:19). However, in consequence of his prophesying death to those that remained in the city and life to those who should go forth to the Chaldaeans, who had returned to the siege in the tenth month of Zedekiah's ninth year (Jer 52:4), Jeremiah was again imprisoned. Zedekiah was too weak to resist, but answered his princes "the king is not he that can do anything against you."

At Ebedmelech's intercession Zedekiah rescued him, and again consulted him. Again Jeremiah told him his only hope was in going forth to the Chaldaeans. But Zedekiah was afraid lest the Chaldaeans should give him up to Jewish deserters, who would treat him ignominiously. Jeremiah told him in reply that, by not going forth, he should bring burning upon the city, and upon himself the very evil he feared if he went forth, ignominious treatment from not only the deserters but the very women of the palace (Jeremiah 38). So afraid was Zedekiah of his princes that he imposed on Jeremiah a subterfuge, concealing the real purpose of his interview from the princes. The terrible concomitants of a siege soon followed (Jer 38:9), so that mothers boiled and ate the flesh of their own infants (La 4:5,8,10) and the visage of their nobles was blacker than coal, their skin clave to their bones and became withered.

On the ninth day of the fourth month in the middle of July (Josephus) after a year and a half's siege (from the tenth month of the ninth year to the fourth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah) about midnight a breach was made in the wall The Babylonian princes took their seats in state in the middle gate, between the upper and the lower city. Zedekiah fled in the opposite direction, namely, southwards, with muffled face to escape recognition, and like one digging through a wall to escape (Eze 12:12,6), between the two walls on the E. and W. sides of the Tyropoeon valley, by a street issuing at the gate above the royal gardens and the fountain of Siloam. Zedekiah was overtaken in the plains of Jericho. He was taken for judgment to Riblah at the upper end of Lebanon; there Nebuchadnezzar first killed his sons before his eyes, then caused the eyes of Zedekiah to be "dug out" (Jeremiah 39; Jer 52:4-11).

Thus were fulfilled the seemingly inconsistent prophecies, "his eyes shall behold his eyes," Jer 32:4, and Eze 12:13 "he shall not see Babylon, though he shall die there." Zedekiah was put "in prison," literally, "the house of visitations" or "punishments," where there was penal work enforced on the prisoners, as grinding, from whence Septuagint reads "in the house of the mill." So Samson "did grind" (Jg 16:21). He probably died before Evil Merodach, successor of Nebuchadnezzar, treated kindly Jehoiachin in the 37th year of his captivity, 26 years after the fall of Jerusalem; for no mention is made of him (Jer 52:31).

2. Son of Chenaanah. (See MICAIAH, son of Imlah). 22'>1 Kings 22; 2 Chronicles 18. He is distinguished by Jehoshaphat ("is there not here besides a prophet of Jehovah, that we might inquire of him?") from Jehovah's prophets. Zedekiah therefore was one of the "400 prophets of the GROVES", (Asheerah Ashtaroth) who apparently were not slain when Elijah slew the 450 prophets of Baal (1Ki 18:19,22,24), or rather a prophet of the calves symbolizing "Jehovah," for they spoke in Jehovah's name (1Ki 22:8). Compare as to his assumption of horns Am 6:13. Josephus adds (Ant. 8:15, section 3) that Zedekiah denounced Micaiah as contradicting Elijah, who foretold that dogs should lick up Ahab's blood in the vineyard of Naboth of Jezreel; and defied Micaiah to wither the hand with which he smote his cheek, as the prophet from Judah had done to Jeroboam.

3. Son of Maaseiah, a false prophet in Babylon, among the captives with Jeconiah. Jeremiah (Jer 29:21-22,25) denounces him for adultery and lying prophecies, buoying up the captives with delusive promises of a speedy restoration. A proverbial formula of cursing should be taken up by all the captives, "Jehovah make thee like Zedekiah and like Ahab whom the king of Babylon roasted in the fire!" (Isa 65:15.) Brother of Zephaniah.

4. Son of Hananiah. One of the princes assem

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1. Son of Chenaanah, and one of Ahab's four hundred court prophets (1Ki 22:11,24-25; 2Ch 18:10,23-24). 2. A prophet deported to Babylon with Jehoiachin. He and another, named Ahab, are denounced by Jeremiah (Jer 29:21-23) for gross immorality as well as for falsely prophesying a speedy restoration from Babylon. It was probably their action as political agitators that brought on them the cruel punishment of being roasted in the fire by order of Nebuchadrezzar. 3. Son of Hananiah, one of the princes in the reign of Jehoiakim (Jer 36:12). 4. A signatory to the covenant (Ne 10:1). 5. See next article.

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1. The name given by Nebuchadnezzar to Mattaniah, son of Josiah, whom he set on the throne of Judah. Zedekiah reigned eleven years, B.C. 599-588, and was the last king of Judah. His reign was evil; he did not humble himself before the prophet Jeremiah, and profaned the name of Jehovah by breaking his oath to the king of Babylon. The chief priests and the people also transgressed greatly. On Zedekiah revolting from Nebuchadnezzar, he formed an alliance with Egypt (cf. Eze 17:3-20); but Egypt was defeated, and then Nebuchadnezzar pushed on the siege of Jerusalem.

Zedekiah was many times warned by Jeremiah against his course, and was advised to submit to Babylon; but for this Jeremiah was persecuted by the princes of Judah. When the city was taken, Zedekiah, with his wives and children, attempted to escape, but he was captured. Two prophecies respecting him are remarkable: one that he shall speak with the king of Babylon, and "his eyes shall behold his eyes," Jer 32:4; and the other that "he shall be brought to Babylon, yet shall he not see it, though he shall die there." Eze 12:13. And thus it came to pass: on being carried before Nebuchadnezzar at Riblah, his sons were slain before his face, then his eyes were put out, and he was carried to Babylon. 7'>2Ki 24:17,20; 25:2,7; 1Ch 3:15; 2Ch 36:10-11; Jer 1:3; 21:1-7; 24:8; 27:3,12; 28:1; 29:3; 32:1-5; 34:2-21; Jer. 37

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(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.

2Ki 24:18

comp. 2Kin 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

17'>2Ki 24:17,1; 25:7

and, with some trifling variations in

Jer 39:1-7; 52:34

together with the still shorter summary in

1Ch 29:30

etc.; and also in Jere 21,24,27,28,29,32,34,37,38 and

Eze 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 Jere 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 Zedekiah's 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

Jer 37:5-11; 34:21

and Ezek 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.

Jer 34:7

Called away for a time by an attack from Pharaoh and the Egyptians, on the tenth day of the tenth month of Zedekiah's ninth year the Chaldeans were again before the walls.

Jer 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,

Jer 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 king's 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. 1Kin 22; 2Chr

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 sneer.

3. The son of Maaseiah, a false prophet in Babylon.

Jer 29:21-22

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.

Jer 38:12

(B.C. 605.)

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ZEDEKIAH, or MATTANIAH, was the last king of Judah before the captivity of Babylon. He was the son of Josiah, and uncle to Jehoiachin his predecessor, 2Ki 24:17,19. When Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, he carried Jehoiachin to Babylon, with his wives, children, officers, and the best artificers in Judea, and put in his place his uncle Mattaniah, whose name he changed into Zedekiah, and made him promise, with an oath, that he would continue in fidelity to him, A.M. 3405, 2Ch 36:13; Eze 17:12,14,18. He was twenty-one years old when he began to reign at Jerusalem, and he reigned there eleven years. He did evil in the sight of the Lord, committing the same crimes as Jehoiakim, 2Ki 24:18-20; 2Ch 36:11-13; and regarded not the menaces of the Prophet Jeremiah, from the Lord; but hardened his heart. The princes of the people, and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, imitated his impiety, and abandoned themselves to all the abominations of the Gentiles. In the first year of his reign, Zedekiah sent to Babylon Elasah, the son of Shaphan, and Gemariah, the son of Hilkiah, probably to carry his tribute to Nebuchadnezzar. By these messengers Jeremiah sent a letter to the captives at Babylon, Jer 29:1-23. Four years afterward, either Zedekiah went thither himself, or at least he sent thither; for the Hebrew text may admit either of these interpretations, Jer 51:59; Baruch 1:1; Jer 32:12. The chief design of this deputation was to entreat Nebuchadnezzar to return the sacred vessels of the temple, Baruch 1:8. In the ninth year of his reign, he revolted against Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kings 25. It was a sabbatical year, in which the people should set their slaves at liberty, according to the law, Ex 21:2; De 15:1-2,12; Jer 34:8-10. Then King Nebuchadnezzar marched his army against Zedekiah, and took all the fortified places of his kingdom, except Lachish, Azekah, and Jerusalem. He sat down before the last-mentioned city on the tenth day of the tenth month of the holy year, which answers to our January. Some time afterward, Pharaoh Hophrah, king of Egypt, marched to assist Zedekiah, Jer 37:3-5,10. Nebuchadnezzar left Jerusalem, and went to meet him, defeated him, and obliged him to return into Egypt; after which he resumed the siege of Jerusalem. In the mean while, the people of Jerusalem, as if freed from the fear of Nebuchadnezzar, retook the slaves whom they had set at liberty, which drew upon them great reproaches and threatenings from Jer 34:11,22. During the siege Zedekiah often consulted Jeremiah, who advised him to surrender, and pronounced the greatest woes against him if he should persist in his rebellion, Jer 37:3,10; 21. But this unfortunate prince had neither patience to hear, nor resolution to follow, good counsels. In the eleventh year of Zedekiah, on the ninth day of the fourth month, (July,) Jerusalem was taken, 2Ki 25:2-4; Jer 39:2-3; 52:5-7. Zedekiah and his people endeavoured to escape by favour of the night; but the Chaldean troops pursuing them, they were overtaken in the plains of Jericho. He was seized and carried to Nebuchadnezzar, then at Riblah, a city of Syria. The king of Chaldea, reproaching him with his perfidy, caused all his children to be slain before his face, and his eyes to be put out; then loading him with chains of brass, he ordered him to be sent to Babylon, 2Ki 25:4-7; Jer 32:4-7; 52:4-11. Thus were accomplished two prophecies which seemed contradictory: one of Jeremiah, who said that Zedekiah should see and yet not see, Nebuchadnezzar with his eyes, Jer 32:4-5; 34:3; and the other of Eze 12:13, which intimated that he should not see Babylon, though he should die there. The year of his death is not known. Jeremiah had assured him that he should die in peace; that his body should be burned, as those of the kings of Judah usually were; and that they should mourn for him, saying," Ah, lord!" Jer 34:4-5.

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