Zedekiah (lit. righteousness of Jehovah) was the last king of Judah. Albright has dated his reign to 597 - 587 BC, while Thiele offers the dates 597 - 586 BC. He was the third son of Josiah, and his mother's name was Hamutal, the daughter of Jeremiah of Libnah, thus he was the brother of Jehoahaz (2 Kings 23:31; 24:17, 18).
His original name was Mattaniah; but when Nebuchadnezzar II placed him on the throne as the successor to Jehoiachin he changed his name to Zedekiah. The prophet Jeremiah was his counsellor, yet "he did evil in the sight of the Lord" (2 Kings 24:19, 20; Jeremiah 52:2, 3).
He ascended the throne at the age of twenty-one years. The kingdom was at that time tributary to Nebuchadnezzar II. Despite the strong remonstrances of Jeremiah and others, as well as the example of Jehoiachin, he revolted against Babylon, and entered into an alliance with Pharaoh Hophra, king of Egypt. This brought up Nebuchadnezzar, "with all his host" (2 Kings 25:1), against Jerusalem. Nebuchadnezzar began a siege of Jerusalem about 589 BC During this siege, which lasted about eighteen months, "every worst woe befell the devoted city, which drank the cup of God's fury to the dregs" (2 Kings 25:3; Lamentations 4:4, 5, 10).
In the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, Nebuchadnezzar succeeded in conquering Jerusalem. The city was plundered and reduced to ruins. Zedekiah and his followers attempted to escape, making their way out of the city, but were captured on the plains of Jericho, and were taken to Riblah.
There, after seeing his own children put to death, his own eyes were put out, and, being loaded with chains, he was carried captive (587 BC) to Babylon (2 Kings 25:1-7; 2 Chronicles 36:12; Jeremiah 32:4,5; 34:2, 3; 39:1-7; 52:4-11; Ezekiel 12:12), where he remained a prisoner, how long is unknown, to the day of his death.
After the fall of Jerusalem, Nebuzaraddan sent to carry out its complete destruction. The city was razed to the ground. Only a small number of vinedressers and husbandmen were permitted to remain in the land (Jer. 52:16). Gedaliah, with a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah, were left to rule over Judah (2 Kings 25:22, 24; Jer. 40:1, 2, 5, 6).
This is an article adapted from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary (1897). Please update and revise as necessary.