Zedeki’ah (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. 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 Jer. 39:1–7; 52:1–11, together with the still shorter summary in 2 Chron. 36:10, etc.; and also in Jer. 21, 24, 27–29, 32, 34, 37–38, and Ezek. 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 Jer. 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 Chaldæans. 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 Chaldæans 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 quitted the city in the dead of night; and as the Chaldæan 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. 1 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 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 fact, accompanying it by a taunting sneer.
3. The son of Masseiah, 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, and for profane and flagitious conduct. Their names were to become a by-word, and 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. 36:12. (b.c. 605.)