Matthew 23:35, Which Zechariah was murdered in the Temple? Part I of IV
That on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.
//Here is a puzzle that continues to intrigue Bible scholars. Who is the Zechariah that Jesus is talking about? In the next four posts, I’ll present four different opinions.
Let’s start with a discovery that I made while researching for my book about Revelation. Josephus, a Jewish historian, describes the death of a man named Zechariah, son of Baruch, who died during the uprising of the Zealots. Baruch is, essentially, the same name as Berechiah. Only the -YH suffix makes a difference.
This Zechariah was brought before the court on trumped-up charges, and was declared not guilty. The Zealots executed him anyway, at the temple: “Two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him, and said, Thou hast also our verdict, and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other. They also threw him down out of the temple immediately into the valley beneath it.” Zechariah’s blood spilled “in the holy place,” and dead bodies were heaped around the altar, until it ran with blood.
This would have happened about 35 years after Jesus died, but before Matthew’s Gospel was penned. Early Christians, of course, recognized the great war (in which the Temple was destroyed) as sort of a necessary tribulation ending the prior age and preceding the age of God’s rule; thus, Jesus’ message in today’s verse described all of mankind’s history from beginning (Abel) to end (Zechariah).
But is this the Zechariah Matthew refers to? How strange would it be for Jesus to predict the death of a man in this fashion? More possibilities tomorrow.