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. 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.

  2. @Peter,
    Great commentary 8 years ago from today [21 Nov 2023]. I am not very sure of what your conclusion was if it was on the word “slew” as it pertains to Matthew 23:35 of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah or something else. The website, Bible Study Tools with Strong’s 5407 of the Greek word phoneuō, was something I tried to include, but my post did not go through twice. That link as of today’s date mentioned above, phoneuō is used only 12 times. As the Old Testament was not written in Greek, I would assume that phoneuō is only a New Testament word and I am unsure where 4 of these phoneuō would have disappeared to with 8 years of you accessing whatever resources you used to say 16 count in November 2015 when I only see 12 use of the word 8 years later in November 2023.

    I had concur with your logical reasoning that Zechariah, the son of Berechiah mentioned in Matthew 23:35 was the same introduced in Zechariah 1:1. I read and re-read all 5 chapters of Lamentations and did not feel like looking up commentaries that might have supposed that Lamentations 4:13-14 copied from NKJV below might be the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah of other “prophets” and “priests” potentially slaying this righteous prophet:

    Lamentations 4:13-14
    Because of the sins of her prophets
    And the iniquities of her priests,
    Who shed in her midst
    The blood of the just.

    They wandered blind in the streets;
    They have defiled themselves with blood,
    So that no one would touch their garments.

    John 14:26 isa great guide, so even when I fall short by assuming something is correct as I had not dug deeply enough as had occurred earlier in agreeing with Zechariah 1:1; I looked further and corrected myself. The entirety of Matthew 23 is speaking of the lawlessness/wrong doing of the Pharisees (religious men) and that past righteous prophets (messengers of the One True Creator) were slaughtered by children of the devil (John 8:31-50) in the past, and that the One True Creator’s Spirit of Truth (who was speaking using Yeshua’s aka “Jesus” vocal cords (indwelled in Yeshua’s body as spoken of clearly in John 14) will send future righteous prophets, sages, and scribes who children of the devil will also slaughter.

    After looking up commentary on Bible Study Tools on the subject matter of Matthew 23:35 and saw that Jerom mentioned the Hebrew Matthew of the Nazarenes has Matthew 23:35 as Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, I consulted my copy of Original Gospel of Matthew According to the Hebrew (OGM) and saw that indeed it is listed by Jerom. I understand that commentaries over the past approximately 2,000 years are confounded by “this generation” in Matthew 23:36, however these commentaries are confounded because they lack comprehension and understanding of words as it has not been revealed to them by the Spirit of Truth (John 14:26). When one look at Matthew 24:34, the same thing was said “about this generation not passing away until all this occur” in response to Matthew 24:3 when will be the end of this age/aeon/similar epithets. Creation/generation/age/aeon are all the same thing. This creation/generation started with let there be light and will end in a new city, Jerusalem, where there will continually be light as there will be no darkness in the new Jerusalem. The commentary listed 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, but in the same breathe said it could not be so as that was 800 years earlier and defeated themselves with the misunderstanding of the word “this generation” in Matthew 23:36 when Abel was murdered well before that time and the same verb tense was also applied cojointly to Zechariah the son of [Jehoiada] which clearly mean they are both past tense and not a future prophetic Zechariah. Not only this, John the Baptist’s father was identified in Luke 1 as Zacharias, of the division of Abijah.

    Thus Abel and Zechariah, the son of Berechiah [Jehoiada] were past tense in Matthew 23:35 and future happenings of a similar kind will and is still occurring even prior to those words being written down.

    All in all, I thank you for your insightful comment that enrich my search more so that this article.


  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. [...]

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