The name, meaning “offspring of Babylon,” of a descendant of David who returned from the Babylonian exile (Ezra 2.2) to become governor of the Persian province of Yehud (Judah) under Darius I (522–486 BCE). He was a grandson of Jehoiachin (Jeconiah), the exiled king of Judah (1 Chron. 3.17–19). Zerubbabel and Joshua the high priest were responsible for the completion of the rebuilding of the Temple. Hopes for the restoration of the nation were probably attached to him because of his ancestry. Haggai 2.23 calls him the “servant of Yahweh” and the one he has “chosen.” The prophet Zechariah (3.8; 6.12) mentions a “branch,” which also may refer to Zerubbabel. Although the Temple was only begun in 520 BCE and was finished in 515 BCE, there is no mention of Zerubbabel at its dedication (Ezra 6.16–18). It may be that he was removed from power by the Persian authorities because of the threat of rebellion in Yehud. Zerubbabel appears in the genealogies of Jesus in Matthew 1 and Luke 3.

Russell Fuller