Just when you think you’ve heard every zippy z-name the Good Book has to offer, another one pops up.

Thanks Lyndsay for suggesting our Name of the Day: Zedekiah.

Once rare creatures like Ezekiel (#248), Nehemiah (#363) and Zachariah (#444) also rank in the Top 500 in the US. In their company, Zedekiah seems only a little different, though in fact he’s quite rare – he’s never cracked the US Top 1000.

Zedekiah can be found back in the Old Testament, where he was the very last king of Judah. You’ll also see him called Tzidkiyahu and Zedekias. History tells us that he was born Mattanyahu or Mattaniah, and changed his name when he ascended to the throne.

He’s Hebrew in origin, of course, and his name means something like “justice of God” or “God is my righteousness.”

While his story is an unhappy one – under his watch, Jerusalem fell and most of his people died in the siege or the invasion – his story is obscure. It’s not quite like naming your son Judas.

We hear tell that Puritans sometimes bestowed this rarity on their children. It’s certainly possible, but we can’t find one in the historical record. The first Zedekiahs we discovered were in the late 19th century and early 20th century US census records. One of the earliest, Zedekiah Kidwell, was active in Virginia and West Virginia politics in the 1800s.

In fact, the use that comes to mind for most is probably Zedekiah’s Caves, the underground limestone quarry covering acres beneath the city of Jerusalem. They’re also known as Solomon’s Quarries, and apparently, if you find yourself by the Damascus Gate of the Old City Wall, you can enter the caves for about four bucks. It’s said that the ill-fated king fled through this subterranean labyrinth, giving it his name on the way out. Solomon’s name is attached because legend also tells us that it served as the source of limestone for his temple.

It’s an interesting little tale that might appeal to archeology buffs who aren’t about to call their son Indiana.
While we’re convinced that the name should be said zeh de KY ah, we also came across references to zeh DEE kee ah. Putting the emphasis on the third syllable is familiar from other, more familiar choices like Jeremiah, so odds are that it’s the pronunciation your Zedekiah would share.
Zedekiah might be a lot of name, but like many Biblical boys, he offers appealing short forms: Zed, Zeke and Ky all spring to mind. Some might argue that Zed is the pronunciation for the terminal letter of the alphabet in many English-speaking nations. While we recognize that puts some parents off, we know at least one Zachary content to answer to Z.
If you’re looking for a truly rare boys’ name that fits with current trends and has a legitimate backstory of his own, Zedekiah is one of the more original choices you might pluck out of the family Bible.

About Abby Sandel

Whether you're naming a baby, or just all about names, you've come to the right place! Appellation Mountain is a haven for lovers of obscure gems and enduring classics alike.

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What do you think?


  1. Funny, my other half has Hezekiah at the top of his list for a boy, because it is a family name, and I think, because of that country/cowboy feel. We live in the southwest and have a simple last name, so it might not be too hard to wear for one of ours. It is growing on me, but I still have yet to find the appeal in other -iah ending names, and Zedekiah seems especially out-there to me.

  2. I love biblical names, but this one (and all the other four-syllable “-iah” names) seems rather difficult to wear, and it does scream “country boy” to me. If I were to use one, I think I’d be somewhat picky about the Bible character I was naming my son after — Hezekiah (nickname Zeke, perhaps?) might be my favorite option, since he had a reputation for being a good king, but his name isn’t very often used. (In 2007, he ranked #919.)

    However, I much prefer my Bible names to fit just a little bit more with common American naming conventions. I like the ones that sounds as if they should be as common as Matthew and Thomas and Isaac but make you wonder why they’re not. I love Gideon and Simeon (which end in N like so many popular American names) and Judah, Asher, Silas, and even Moses (which are two syllables like so many popular American names).

  3. I think I’l leave this one for those people who like to have 17 or more babies, homeschool them, and raise them to fear god, the outside world, and television. (Was hat too harsh?)

  4. I think black pants, suspenders and straw hats are dead sexy. But this one is too much, even for me. My major problem with the name is -kiah. I think most name civilian’s ears wouldn’t catch the Zede- and ASSume a girl. Oh the problems I have had with my Ezra. *shakes head* And I consider Ezra much, much more common that Zed here. This leads me to his accessibility to the public. I think he would be mistaken for Jedidiah, Jeremiah, and Zachariah on a regular basis. At first glance, I even mistook him for Zephaniah, though I doubt that would be an issue for many people. If the masses can’t even handle the simple, 4 letter Ezra, I just don’t see them being able to grasp Zedekiah. It might even be labeled creative, in the derogatory sense.

  5. Thanks for this one! I love the feel of Zedekiah, but then I also like Jedediah, Zebadiah and the like. I was seriously considering him for a day or two, because I think Zed makes him quite usable. But the fact that I’m not religious, and that I plan to have a few children and Zedekiah is totally incongruent with my general taste in names are the main reasons I’ve decided against him.

  6. Better hope he’s got the build for black pants, suspenders, and straw hats, cause he’s going to have to move to Amish country to fit in with that name.

  7. interesting, but I don’t think I’d go for this or the other male Biblical names ending in -iah. Zed’s a good nickname but yes I think it’s true that British and others outside of U.S. use zed for letter z.

  8. Eh. I’m not a fan of overt and obscure Biblical names. They seem very “more-Christian-than-thou” to me. I like Paul, John, Eli, Isaac, etc, but these wacky ones lose me. It seems weird for the sake of being weird.

  9. Zedekiah’s interesting, alright. Intuitive to spell, at least for me. I didn’t have to refer back to spell him! He’s a bit too Biblical for my taste, I prefer Popes to Bibile boys but I would probably be intrigued to meet one. Zed is cool in the States, but isn’t that how the other English speaking pople on the planet say the letter Z? Katharine, help me out here! (another point in the “Yanks are weird” folder if I’m correct) I’m reminded of ‘Men in Black’ when i hear Zed, too. So yeah, to this Yank, Zedekiah’s pretty neat all the way around (but then, I like the odd ones, always have)!