Zedekiah (597-586 B.C.E.) was the last king of Judah, the monarch at the time Jerusalem fell to the forces of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylonia. He was himself taken captive when the city fell and, after his sons had been killed before his eyes, Zedekiah was blinded and taken into exile in Babylon. There he died some years later. On several occasions the Bible records that Zedekiah “did evil in the eyes of the LORD” (2 Kings 24:19), and on the whole the Bible portrays him as a weak-willed ruler whom his nobles were able to manipulate.
In later Jewish literature, the negative portrait of Zedekiah begins to take on more positive overtones. The Talmud says at one point, ÒThe Holy One, blessed be He, planned to turn the world back to chaos and formlessness because of the generation of Zedekiah. Taking a closer look at Zedekiah, however, His anger calmed” (Arakin 17a). Josephus also calls Zedekiah “by nature kind and just” (Ant. 6.213).
The present scroll fragment appears to be another witness to the notion of a good king Zedekiah. Here he is seen entering a covenant instituted by the archangel Michael, in which he agrees himself to live uprightly and to use his power as king to see that others also obey God. The idea that angels mediate covenants also appears in the New Testament (Acts 7:53; Gal. 3:19; Heb. 2:2). Thus the assignment of this role to angels was probably a commonplace in the Judaism of this period.
For further adventures of Michael, note especially The Words of the Archangel Michael (text 111).
Frag. 1 2[ . . . ] Michael [ . . . ] 30n [th]at day, Zedekiah [shall en]ter a co[ven]ant 4[ . . . ] to live by the whole Law, and to cause others to do so 5[ . . . At] that time, M[ich]ael shall say to Zedekiah 6[ . . . ] “I will make a [cove]na[nt] with you witnessed by the entire congregation.” 7[ . . . to d]o and [ . . . ]