Last king of Judah (597–587/586 BCE). A younger son of Josiah, he was placed on the throne by Nebuchadrezzar of Babylon to replace his uncle, Jehoiachin, whom Nebuchadrezzar had deposed. Nine years later, Zedekiah rebelled against Nebuchadrezzar, prompting him to besiege and destroy Jerusalem (2 Kings 24.18–25.7; 2 Chron. 36.11–14).

In the book of Jeremiah, Zedekiah's reign is described in fatalistic tones: destruction by Babylon is inevitable (Jer. 21.1–7; 24.1–10; 32.1–5; 34.1–3; 37.6–10); submission to Nebuchadnezzar is Zedekiah's only option (27.12–15); he and the people refuse to heed Jeremiah's warnings and should expect punishment (37.2); the insincerity of repentance is exposed (34.8–22). On one occasion, Zedekiah reveals his belief in the truth of Jeremiah's warnings, yet he fears certain Judahites more than God's wrath (38.14–28). In the end, he attempts to escape under cover of darkness, but is captured by the Babylonians and led away in shame (Jer. 39.1–7; see Ezek. 12.1–16).

Timothy M. Willis