The Name Tzidkiyahu – Zedekiah

How I came to embrace my father’s amazing but unusual name.

| Topics: Hebrew Names
The grave of my father, Zedekiah Zedekiah, a man who sought justice and righteousness during his life. Photo: Anat Schneider

My father had a special name; his name was Zedekiah (Tzidkiyahu in Hebrew). And his last name was also very special; guess what it was… Zedekiah as well. My father’s name was Zedekiah Zedekiah – as we say in Hebrew… “Twice good.”

When I was a girl in elementary school, there was a custom at the beginning of each school year in which the teacher would read the full names of all the students from her booklet, and each child had to also say what his or her father’s name was. And she would put this information in the booklet as well.

I remember this as a traumatic event. I sat and waited huddled in my chair for my turn to come. The teacher’s list of pupils was arranged in alphabetical order according to surnames. My last name was almost at the end of the list; and so my dread and suffering seemed to go on and on.

I wanted the earth to open its mouth and swallow me.

Finally the teacher arrived at my name Anat Tzidkiyahu (Zedekiah), and in a weak voice I answered “Yes, it’s me.” Then the teacher asked my father’s name, and in an even weaker voice I said “Zedekiah.” And the teacher repeated the question again reproachingly, “I asked for your father’s last name.” And on the verge of tears, I answered “Zedekiah.”

And the teacher without emotion said, “Ah Zedekiah Zedekiah,” and a chuckle rippled through the class. It happened like this every year. I was very embarrassed.

Over the years I realized how much meaning every person’s name has in their life. Beyond that, I came to understand the special meaning of my own father’s name. Zedekiah was the last king in the Kingdom of Judah. In his time Jerusalem and the Temple were destroyed; and he and his sons were taken into exile. Zedekiah was a king hated by the people. He had many conversations with Jeremiah, but did not take the prophet’s advice.

Now if we look at this name and interpret it, within the name Zedekiah we see the entire gospel. Zedekiah (Tzidkiyahu) literally means: “He is the righteousness of God.” And with my father it was doubly emphasized.

Over the years I was able to increasingly connect with my father’s name, to love his name and carry it proudly. My father’s family came to Israel from Kurdistan in 1928 and settled in Jerusalem. The family lived all around Jerusalem’s Mahane Yehuda outdoor market area; and to this day you can find many shops belonging to the family there. There is no other family in Israel with the last name Zedekiah. Every Zedekiah you find is related in one way or another to that family that immigrated to Israel. I even claim it is very possible that the Zedekiah family is a scion of the Kingdom of Judah that returned to Israel.

When my father passed away, as his family we decided to take my father’s name and personality and immortalize it on his tombstone. On the tombstone we inscribed: “Righteousness. Righteousness you shall pursue” (Deuteronomy 16-20). My father Zedekiah, or as everyone called him “Tzidki” (my justice), was a man who pursued righteousness and justice all his life.

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