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.