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Zechariah ben Jehoiada

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Zechariah Ben Jehoiada was the son of Jehoiada, the high priest in the times of Ahaziah and Jehoash of Judah (Joash).

After the death of Jehoiada, Zechariah boldly condemned both king Jehoash and the people for their rebellion against God (2 Chronicles 24:20). This so stirred up their resentment against him that at the king's commandment they stoned him, and he died "in the court of the house of the Lord" (24:21).

In Rabbinical Literature

According to the Rabbis, Zechariah was the son-in-law of the king, and, being also a priest, prophet, and judge, he dared censure the monarch. He was killed in the priests' courtyard of the Temple on a Sabbath which was likewise the Day of Atonement. Later, when Nebuzar-adan, the captain of Nebuchadnezzar's body-guard, came to destroy the Temple, Zechariah's blood began to boil. The Assyrian asked the Jews what that phenomenon meant, but when they replied that it was the blood of sacrifices, he proved the falsity of their answer. The Jews then told him the truth, and Nebuzar-adan, wishing to appease Zechariah's blood, slew in succession the Great and Small Sanhedrins, the young priests, and school-children, till the number of the dead was 940,000. Still the blood continued to boil, whereupon Nebuzar-adan cried: "Zechariah, Zechariah! for thee have I slain the best of them; wouldst thou that I destroy them all?" And at these words the blood ceased to effervesce.[1]

In Apocryphal Literature

According to the ancient apocryphal Lives of the Prophets, after the death of Zechariah Ben Jehoiada, the priests of the Temple could no more, as before, see the apparitions of the angels of the Lord, nor could make divinations with the Ephod, nor give responses from the Debir.

Possible allusion by Jesus

It is possible that this is the Zechariah whose murder Jesus alluded to in Matthew 23:35 and Luke 11:50-51. The Gospel of Matthew records his name as "Zechariah son of Berechiah". This identification can be reconciled if Jehoiada was Zechariah's grandfather, and Berechiah his father.

Other identifications of the person Jesus was referring to include the tradition of the Eastern Orthodox Church, which considers "Zechariah son of Berechiah" as Zechariah the father of John the Baptist, and his slaying is understood as taking place during the slaughter of the Innocents by Herod.[2]


According to Jewish tradition, an ancient monument in the Kidron Valley outside the Old City of Jerusalem is identified as the tomb of Zechariah.


  1. Giṭ. 57b; Sanh. 96b; Lam. R. iv. 13.
  2. John MacPherson, Zacharias: A Study of Matthew 23:35, The Biblical World, Jan 1897. Available at JSTOR (subscription required)

External links

ar:زكريا يهوياداع

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