Study Guide

Zedekiah in Book of Jeremiah

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Zedekiah's the last king of Judah before the Babylonians reduce the country to rubble. His refusal to heed the repeated, and we mean repeated and repeated, warnings God gives him—through Jeremiah and a few other prophets—ends up being his undoing. We might describe him as being in deep denial. In fact, he actively works against Jeremiah, imprisoning him in the court. He allows some of his lackeys to throw Jeremiah into a mud pit to slowly starve to death. But we have to give him some credit for also rescuing him from the same bit at the behest of Ebed-melech, Jeremiah's friend.

He secretly seems to believe in Jeremiah's prophecies. Though he can't bring himself to publicly admit it, he still consults Jeremiah for advice. But the fact that Zedekiah won't really listen to Jeremiah is probably because of the natural human tendency toward hopefulness: Zedekiah wants to believe that things will still work out okay. And Jeremiah has no good news to offer him—except for the promise of release from exile in future generations, too late for him. So viewed in this light, Zedekiah's position might actually seem understandable.

Anyway, whether you find him sympathetic or not, Zedekiah ends up seeing his sons murdered in front of him just before the Babylonians put both of his eyes out and drag him away into lifetime imprisonment. We're not sure, but he probably should have listened to Jeremiah.

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