ADONI-ZEDEK (Heb. אֲדֹנִי צֶדֶק; "[the god] Zedek [the god of justice] is lord" or, "my Lord is righteousness"), king of *Jerusalem at the time of the Israelite conquest of Canaan (Josh. 10:1–3). Adoni-Zedek was the leader of a coalition together with four of the neighboring *Amorite cities – Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon. The coalition was formed as a reaction to the conclusion of a covenant between the Israelites and the *Gibeonites as well as to the conquest of *Ai by the Israelites, who threatened the region and the sovereignty of the city-states over this area. The members of the coalition attacked Gibeon. The Gibeonites, however, solicited the aid of Joshua, who preferred to fight against the Amorites in an open area. The Amorites were defeated at Gibeon, and, finding no alternative route of escape, retreated to Beth-Horon where their pursuers routed them with the help of a hailstorm; the five allied kings hid in a cave at Makkedah but were found and killed. Nothing is said about the capture of Jerusalem, although its king had lost his life; a reduction of Jerusalem's influence, however, did result from the war.
It is apparent that Jerusalem was an important city-state at the time, as is clear not only from this biblical passage but also from the *El-Amarna letters (14th century b.c.e.). Six of these letters, sent by the king of Jerusalem (Abdi-Ḥepa) to the pharaoh of Egypt, warrant the conclusion that Jerusalem (and Shechem) controlled the hill country of Judah and Ephraim and ruled over "the land of Jerusalem" (Pritchard, Texts, 487–9). Adoni-Zedek is unknown from other sources, but he fits well into the above picture of pre-lsraelite Jerusalem. Some identify him with *Adoni-Bezek (Judg. 1:5–7), because the Septuagint reads Adoni-Bezek in place of the masoretic Adoni-Zedek.
Noth, Personennamen, 114, 161 ff.; idem, in: pjb, 33 (1937), 23–26; idem, Das Buch Josua (19532), 60–63; Yeivin, in: Ma'arakhot, 26–27 (1945), 63; Albright, in: jbl, 54 (1935), 193, n. 66; Levy, in: huca, 18 (1943–44), 435. add. bibliography: B. Batto, in: ddd, 929–34.