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The most important of several biblical characters named Zedekiah was the man who became the last king of Judah. Others who bore the name Zedekiah were a prophet in the court of Ahab (1 Kings 2:11; 1 Kings 2:24), an administrator in the government of Jehoiakim (Jeremiah 36:12), a son of Jehoiakim (1 Chronicles 3:16) and a false prophet among the Jewish captives in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:21-23).

King of Judah

Zedekiah the king was the third son of Josiah to sit upon the throne of Judah. He was known also as Mattaniah (2 Kings 23:30; 2 Kings 23:34; 2 Kings 24:17). The king of Babylonian appointed him king after the former king and all Judah’s best people had been taken captive to Babylon (in 597 BC; 2 Kings 24:10-17). Little is known of the early part of Zedekiah’s reign, except that in his fourth year he paid a visit to Babylon (Jeremiah 51:59).

With all Jerusalem’s best administrators now captive in Babylon, Zedekiah’s government was immature and weak. His officials encouraged him to seek help from Egypt and rebel against Babylon. Jeremiah, who had been bringing God’s message to Judah for more than thirty years, opposed this policy. He warned that it would lead only to the horrors of siege and destruction. He advised the people to submit to Babylon, and so at least soften the judgment that was to fall upon them (2 Kings 24:18-20; 2 Chronicles 36:11-14; Jeremiah 27:1; Jeremiah 27:12-15).

Zedekiah, however, followed the advice of the pro-Egypt party and rebelled against Babylon. As a result he brought upon Jerusalem the besieging armies of Babylon (2 Kings 24:20 b; 25:1; Jeremiah 32:1-2). When he asked Jeremiah to pray that God would remove the Babylonians, Jeremiah replied that God would not remove them. The time of Jerusalem’s judgment had come. Jeremiah advised that it would be better to surrender and be taken captive to Babylon than to resist and die in the siege (Jeremiah 21:1-10). He also warned Zedekiah of the judgment to fall on him personally (Jeremiah 34:1-7).

When Egypt came to Jerusalem’s aid, Babylon lifted the siege temporarily, but Jeremiah warned Zedekiah that Babylon would return and crush both Egypt and Judah (Jeremiah 37:1-10). Meanwhile in Babylon, Ezekiel likewise warned of the increased suffering that Zedekiah’s rebellion against Babylon would bring upon Jerusalem (Ezekiel 17:12-21).

Back in Jerusalem, the pro-Egypt party accused Jeremiah of being a traitor and had him imprisoned. The weak Zedekiah easily gave in to Jeremiah’s opponents (Jeremiah 37:15; Jeremiah 38:5-6), but then was just as easily persuaded by a friend of Jeremiah to change his mind (Jeremiah 38:7-10). Zedekiah had secret meetings with Jeremiah in the hope of receiving better news, but Jeremiah merely repeated his former announcements (Jeremiah 37:16-21; Jeremiah 38:14-28).

After eighteen months of siege, the Babylonian army broke through the walls of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1-4; Jeremiah 39:1-3). Zedekiah tried to escape by night, but enemy soldiers quickly captured him. They then executed his sons in front of him, blinded him and took him in chains to Babylon, where later he died (2 Kings 25:4-7; Ezekiel 12:10-13; Ezekiel 21:25-27

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Used by Permission.

Bibliography Information
Fleming, Don. Entry for 'Zedekiah'. Bridgeway Bible Dictionary. 2004.

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