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.

1 Comment

  1. The book of Zechariah says ‘..came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet.’

    Targum (or commentary) on Lamentations also tells that Zechariah the son of Iddo was killed in the temple. (The authors of the Targum were most probably not confused between father Berechiah and grandfather Iddo but it is a common custom just like Muhammad bin Nayef bin Abdulaziz bin Saud is shortened to Muhammad bin Saud (bin here means ‘son of’ ) though Saud is his great grandfather. Also this custom of skipping less famous generations is commonly used, for example David son of Abraham though they lived hundred of years apart.

    why do they mention Zechariah in a commentary on Lamentations . . . is because its a commentary.
    Even now people mention current events in a commentary to prove a point. A commentary on Isaiah written now will mention how the current or recent past events are predicted there accurately. So though Lamentations was written before Zechariah the commentary or a copy of the commentary on Lamentations written after Zechariah could easily include it.

    So logically the Zechariah mentioned by Jesus is indeed Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet. This was common knowledge then as the commentary on Lamentations was read by the Israelites.

    the greek word phoneuō used in Matt. 23:35 to signify ‘slew’ has never been used in the past tense except in two places. It was translated 16 times in present or future tense. the only other time this is translated in past tense has half of that statement in present tense and half in past tense. Here I believe Jesus is telling them about the future. but that is my opinion.


  1. 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, Which Zechariah was murdered in the Temple? Part IV of IV | The Dubious Disciple - [...] Post 1: A man killed in the Zealot uprising of 66-70 AD. [...]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>