Who was Zerubbabel in the Bible?

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Zerubbabel was the grandson of Jeconiah, penultimate king of Judah (Haggai 1:1). He was a governor of the Achaemenid Empire’s province Judea – Yehud Medinata. King Darius I of Persia appointed him a ruler there.

The Old Testament

The book of Ezra recorded that Zerubbabel was the political leader that led the first group of Jews (around 50,000) back to Jerusalem. The Babylonians had taken these Jews captives 70 years earlier. The Jews returned to Jerusalem following the freedom decree of Cyrus around 538 and 520 BC (Ezra 2:1-2). The high priest Joshua son of Jozadak accompanied Zerubbabel and they laid the foundation of the Second Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 2:1–2, 64; 3:8; 5:2).

Also, the Book of Nehemiah briefly mentioned Zerubbabel. “These are the priests and the Levites which came back with Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel and with Jeshua” (Nehemiah 12:1)

And First Chronicles mentioned Zerubbabel’s lineage and descendants. “The sons of Pedaiah: Zerubbabel and Shimei. The sons of Zerubbabel: Meshullam and Hannaniah; they had a sister Shelomith. There were five others: Hashubah, Ohel, Berechiah, Hasadiah, and Jushab-hesed” (1 Chronicles 3:19).


In Ezra and elsewhere, Zerubbabel was called the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2). However, in 1 Chronicles he was listed among the sons of Pedaiah, a brother of Shealtiel (1 Chronicles 3:19).
This apparent difference can be explained by assuming a levirate marriage (Deuteronomy 25:5–10) between Shealtiel’s childless widow and his brother Pedaiah, whose first male child by such a marriage would be regarded the inheritor of Shealtiel (Matthew1:12).

Zerubbabel, though truly the son of Pedaiah, was named the son of Shealtiel in most of the references that refer to him. The fact that in the only place where Zerubbabel was named Pedaiah’s son, Shealtiel seemed without inheritors, though older than his brother Pedaiah, gave evidence of a levirate marriage.


Zerubbabel appears in the prophecies of Haggai and Zecharia as follows:

Haggai wrote, “‘On that day, says the Lord of Hosts, I will take you Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, my servant, and wear you like a signet ring; for it is you whom I have chosen. This is the word of the Lord of Hosts'” (Haggai 2:23). These amazing words of promise to Zerubbabel are an encouragement to believers in all times. For the Lord will not allow one of His faithful servants to be left alone to struggle against difficulties and be overcome.

Zechariah mentioned Zerubbabel four times.  These references are found in one short prophecy written in chapter 4. “…This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ Says the LORD of hosts…” (Zechariah 4:5-8). Here, Zerubbabel and his companions were discouraged. They were overwhelmed by their weakness and their lack of resources in finishing the work of restoration. Also, they were faced with the opposition of their enemies. But the Lord comforted them. He revealed that His plans for them would be achieved not by human “might” or “power,” but by His own Spirit.

The New Testament

The name Zerubbabel was recorded in the genealogy of Jesus in the gospels. In Matthew’s genealogy from Solomon, we read: “Jechoniah was the father of Shealtiel, and Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel, and Zerubbabel the father of Abiud” (Matthew 1:12–13). In Luke’s genealogy from Nathan (son of David), we read: “the son of Joannas, the son of Rhesa, the son of Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, the son of Neri (Luke 3:27).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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