A personage in some of the advanced Degrees, whose melancholy fate is described in the Second Book of Kings and in the prophecies of Jeremiah. He was the twentieth and last King of Judah. When Nebuchadnezzar had in his second siege of Jerusalem deposed Jehoiachin, whom he carried as a captive to Babylon, he placed Zedekiah on the throne in his stead.
By this act Zedekiah became tributary to the King of the Chaldees, who exacted from him a solemn oath of fidelity and obedience. This oath he observed no longer than till an opportunity occurred of violating it. In the language of the author of the Books of Chronicles, "he rebelled against King Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God" (Second Chronicles xxxvi, 13).
This course soon brought down upon him the vengeance of the offended monarch, who invaded the land of Judah with an immense army. Remaining himself at Riblah, a town of the northern hoarder of Palestine, he sent the army under his general, Nebuzaradan, to Jerusalem, which was invested by the Babylonian forces. After a siege of about one year, during which the inhabitants endured many hardships the city was taken by an assault, the Chaldeans entering it through breaches in the northern wall.
It is very natural to suppose, that when the enemy were most pressing in their attack upon the devoted city; when the breach which was to give them entrance had been effected; and when, perhaps, the streets most distant from the Temple were already filled with Chaldean soldiery, a Council of his princes and nobles should have been held by Zedekiah in the Temple, to which they had fled for refuge, and that he should ask their advice as to the most feasible method of escape from the impending danger.
History, it is true, gives no account of any such assembly; but the written record of these important events which is now extant is very brief, and, as there is every reason to admit the probability of the occurrence, there does not appear to be any historical objection to the introduction of Zedekiah into the legend of the Super-Excellent Master's Degree, as having been present and holding a Council at the time of the siege.
By the advice of this Council, Zedekiah attempted to make his escape across the Jordan. But he and his attendants were, says Jeremiah, pursued by the Chaldean army, and overtaken in the plains of Jericho and carried before Nebuchadnezzar. His sons and his nobles were slain, and, his eyes being put out, he was bound in chains and carried captive to Babylon, where at a later period he died.
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