1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Zedekiah

ZEDEKIAH (Hebrew for “righteousness of Yah[weh]”), son of Josiah, and the last king of Judah (2 Kings xxiv. 17 sqq.; 2 Chron. xxxvi. 10 seq.). Previously known as Mattaniah (“gift of Yah[weh]”), he was appointed king by Nebuchadrezzar, after the capture of Jerusalem (597 B.C.) and his name changed to Zedekiah. He held his position under an oath of allegiance, but after three years (cf. Jehoiakim, 2 Kings xxiv. i) began an intrigue with Moab, Edom, Ammon, Tyre and Sidon, which the prophet Jeremiah vigorously denounced (Jer. xxvii. seq.; cf. also Ezek. xvii. 11-21). It is possible that he was summoned to Babylon to explain his conduct (Jer. li. 59; the Septuagint reads “from Zedekiah”; see also xxix. 3). Nevertheless, relations were maintained with Egypt and steps were taken to revolt. The Babylonian army began to lay siege to Jerusalem in the ninth year of his reign, and a vain attempt was made by Pharaoh Hophra to cause a diversion. The headings to the prophecies in Ezek. xxix. sqq. suggest that fuller details of the events were once preserved, and the narratives in Jer. xxxii.-xxxiv., xxxvii. give some account of the internal position in Jerusalem at the time. After six months a breach was made in the city, Zedekiah's flight was cut off in the Jordan Valley and he was taken to Nebuchadrezzar at Riblah. His sons were killed, and he was blinded and carried to Babylon in chains (cf. Ezek. xii. 10-14). Vengeance was taken upon Jerusalem, and, on the seventh day of the fifth month, 586 B.C., Nebuzaradan sacked the temple, destroyed the walls and houses, and deported the citizens, only the poorest peasantry of the land being left behind. See Jews (History), § 17 seq.  (S. A .C.)