the seed of Babylon, the son of Salathiel or Shealtiel ( Haggai 1:1 ; Zorobabel, Matthew 1:12 ); called also the son of Pedaiah ( 1 Chronicles 3:17-19 ), i.e., according to a frequent usage of the word "son;" the grandson or the nephew of Salathiel. He is also known by the Persian name of Sheshbazzar ( Ezra 1:8 Ezra 1:11 ). In the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, he led the first band of Jews, numbering 42,360 ( Ezra 2:64 ), exclusive of a large number of servants, who returned from captivity at the close of the seventy years. In the second year after the Return, he erected an altar and laid the foundation of the temple on the ruins of that which had been destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar ( 3:8-13 ; ch. 4-6). All through the work he occupied a prominent place, inasmuch as he was a descendant of the royal line of David.
a stranger at Babylon; dispersion of confusion
(born at Babel , i.e. Babylon ), the head of the tribe of Judah at the time of the return from the Babylonish captivity in the first year of Cyrus. The history of Zerabbabel in the Scriptures is as follows: In the first year of Cyrus he was living at Babylon, and was the recognized prince of Judah in the captivity, --what in later times was called "the prince of the captivity," or "the prince." On the issuing of Cyrus decree he immediately availed himself of it, and placed himself at the head of those of his countrymen "whose spirit God had raised to go up to build the house of the Lord which is in Jerusalem." It is probable that he was in the king of Babylons service, both from his having, like Daniel and the three children, received a Chaldee name, Sheshbazzar, and from the fact that he was appointed by the Persian king to the office of governor of Judea. On arriving at Jerusalem, Zerubbabels great work, which he set about immediately, was the rebuilding of the temple. In the second month of the second year of the return the foundation was laid with all the pomp which could be commanded. The efforts of the Samaritans were successful in putting a stop to the work during the seven remaining years of the reign of Cyrus and through the eight years of Cambyses and Smerdis. Nor does Zerubbabel appear quite blameless for this long delay. The difficulties in the way of building the temple were not such as need have stopped the work and during this long suspension of sixteen years Zerubbabel and the rest of the people had been busy in building costly houses for themselves. But in the second year of Darius, light dawned upon the darkness of the colony from Babylon. In that year --it was the most memorable event in Zerabbabels life --the spirit of prophecy suddenly blazed up with a most brilliant light among the returned captives. Their words fell like sparks upon tinder. In a moment Zerubbabel roused from his apathy, threw his whole strength into the work. After much opposition [see NEHEMIAH] and many hindrances find delays, the temple was at length finished, in the sixth pear of Darius, and was dedicated with much pomp and rejoicing. [TEMPLE] The only other works of Zerubbabel of which we learn from Scripture are the restoration of the courses of priests and Levites and of the provision for their maintenance, according to the institution of David ( Ezra 6:18 ; Nehemiah 12:47 ) the registering the returned captives according to their genealogies, ( Nehemiah 7:5 ) and the keeping of a Passover in the seventh year of Darius, with which last event ends all that we know of the life of Zerubbabel, His apocryphal history is told in 1 Esdr. 3-7. The exact parentage of Zerubbabel is a little obscure, from his being always called the son of Shealtiel, ( Ezra 3:2 Ezra 3:8 ; 5:2 ) etc.; ( Haggai 1:1 Haggai 1:12 Haggai 1:14 ) etc., end appearing as such in the genealogies of Christ ( Matthew 1:12 ; Luke 3:27 ) whereas in ( 1 Chronicles 3:19 ) he is represented as the son of Pedaiah, Shealtiel or Salathiels brother, and consequently as Salathiels nephew. Zerubbabel was the legal successor and heir of Jeconiahs royal estate, the grandson of Neri and the lineal descendant of Nathan the son of David. In the New Testament the name appears in the Greek form of Zorobabel.
ze-rub'-a-bel (zerubbabhel, probably a transliteration of the Babylonian name Zeru-Babili, "seed of Babylon"; Zorobabel):
Is commonly called the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2,8; 5:2; Nehemiah 12:1; Haggai 1:1,12,14; Matthew 1:12; Luke 3:27); but in 1 Chronicles 3:19 he is called the son of Pedaiah, the brother apparently of Shealtiel (Salathiel) and the son or grandson of Jeconiah. It is probable that Shealtiel had no children and adopted Zerubbabel; or that Zerubbabel was his levirate son; or that, Shealtiel being childless, Zerubbabel succeeded to the rights of sonship as being the next of kin.
Whatever may have been his blood relationship to Jeconiah, the Scriptures teach that Zerubbabel was his legal successor, of the 3rd or 4th generation. According to 1 Chronicles 3:19, he had one daughter, Shelomith, and seven sons, Meshullam, Hananiah, Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah and Jushab-hesed. In Matthew 1:13 he is said to have been the father of Abiud (i.e. Abi-hud). As it is the custom in Arabia today to give a man a new name when his first son is born, so it may have been, in this case, that Meshullam was the father of Hud, and that his name was changed to Abiud as soon as his son was named Hud. In Luke 3:27, the son of Zerubbabel is called Rhesa. This is doubtless the title of the head of the captivity, the resh gelutha', and would be appropriate as a title of Meshullam in his capacity as the official representative of the captive Jews. That Zerubbabel is said in the New Testament to be the son of Shealtiel the son of Neri instead of Jeconiah may be accounted for on the supposition that Shealtiel was the legal heir or adopted son of Jeconiah, who according to Jeremiah 36:30 was apparently to die childless.
3. Relation to Sheshbazzar:
It has been shown in the article on Sheshbazzar that he and Zerubbabel may possibly have been the same person and that the name may have been Shamash-ban (or bun)-zer-Babili-usur. It seems more probable, however, that Sheshbazzar, the prince of Judah, was governor under Cyrus and that Zerubbabel was governor under Darius. The former, according to Ezra 1:8 and 5:14-16, laid the foundations, and the latter completed the building of the temple (Ezra 2:2,68; 4:2; Haggai 1:14; Zechariah 4:9).
All that is known certainly about Zerubbabel is found in the canonical books of Zechariah, Haggai and Ezra-Nehemiah. According to these he and Jeshua, the high priest, led up a band of captives from Babylon to Jerusalem and began rebuilding the temple in the second year of Darius Hystaspis. They first constructed the altar of burnt offerings, and afterward built a temple, usually called the Second Temple, much inferior in beauty to that of Solomon. According to Josephus and the apocryphal Book of Ezra (1 Esdras 3,4), Zerubbabel was a friend of Darius Hystaspis, having successfully competed before him in a contest whose object was to determine what was the strongest thing in the world--wine, kings, women, or truth. Zerubbabel, having demonstrated that truth was the mightiest of all, was called the king's "cousin," and was granted by him permission to go up to Jerusalem and to build the temple. Zerubbabel was also made a governor of Jerusalem, and performed also the duties of the tirshatha, an official who was probably the Persian collector of taxes.
R. Dick Wilson
These files are public domain.