Mt 23:35 - Which Zechariah is this?

GracieGracie Shipmate
In Matthew 23:35 Jesus says:
And so upon you will come all the righteous blood that has been shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Berekiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar.

The parallel text in Luke seems to confirm the idea that Jesus is saying the scribes (or possibly the scribes and the Pharisees) killed all the prophets from the first to the last.

There are a number of problems with this.

Firstly, there is no account in Scripture of Zechariah son of Berekiah, the prophet after whom the book of Zechariah is named, dying in such circumstances.

Secondly, he does not appear to be the last prophet chronologically by some way.

Several other Zechariahs are mentioned in the OT. The closest fit to the circumstances Jesus mentions seems to be Zechariah son of Jehoiada who was stoned in the temple courtyard (2 Chronicles 24:21). Although he was apparently not the last prophet to be slain in biblical history, he was the last mentioned in the traditional order of the Jewish canon.

Which Zechariah was Jesus (or Matthew) referring to here?

Comments

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Excellent research, thank you Gracie.
  • MargaretMargaret Shipmate
    Although it's probably almost entirely a work of pious fiction, the Infancy Gospel of James suggests he's Zachariah, the father of John the Baptist, murdered by Herod in the Temple at the same time as the massacre of the boys of Bethlehem (chapters 23-4). It's probably just that the writer picked up on the reference to Zechariah in Matthew and thought it would fit nicely into his story, especially as Zachariah's word in Luke 1 read as prophecy, but the work was written in the middle of the second century and you never know, it might just preserve some genuine traditions.
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    edited March 4
    I find The Jewish Annotated New Testament useful for this kind of conundrum. In the footnotes for the verses cited in the OP, the editors believe the Matthew and Luke have conflated the Zechariah of Zech. 1.1 with 2 Chronicles 24.20-22. They also note that "Jewish sources link shedding of blood to judgment" and cite several rabbinical writings (which I can post later if anyone's interested), and add that Jewish tradition did not regard Abel as a prophet. Finally, they add that Josephus, writing in Jewish Wars, mentions a Zechariah killed in the Temple during the first Jewish revolt against Rome.
  • I haven't got much to add except to note that Jesus wasn't necessarily indicating that this Zechariah (whoever he was) was the last of the prophets--he may have been intending a more generic "A to Z" style range, not necessarily time based. Abel might get a look-in because of the idea that his blood "spoke" or cried out to the Lord. Or maybe it's just because he's more or less the first martyr, given that his brother killed him over jealousy about his acceptance by the Lord.

    As for Zechariah, I'm not aware of anything that says he did not die in the same way the other Zechariah did--it could have happened twice. There is a tradition that Isaiah got sawn in half, but you won't find that in the Bible either. So it's inconclusive.

    I will note that "Berachiah" means "blessed of YHWH" and could conceivably be a poetic but well-deserved reference to Jehoiada, the faithful good priest who was father to the murdered Zechariah, and who gets really heavily referenced in the story of how the ungrateful King Joash murdered his son. Though Jesus doesn't usually seem given to such flowery designations for people.
  • GracieGracie Shipmate
    Mamacita wrote: »
    I find The Jewish Annotated New Testament useful for this kind of conundrum. In the footnotes for the verses cited in the OP, the editors believe the Matthew and Luke have conflated the Zechariah of Zech. 1.1 with 2 Chronicles 24.20-22. They also note that "Jewish sources link shedding of blood to judgment" and cite several rabbinical writings (which I can post later if anyone's interested), and add that Jewish tradition did not regard Abel as a prophet. Finally, they add that Josephus, writing in Jewish Wars, mentions a Zechariah killed in the Temple during the first Jewish revolt against Rome.

    Thanks, that's all very interesting - particularly the idea of the two Zechariahs being conflated...
    I haven't got much to add except to note that Jesus wasn't necessarily indicating that this Zechariah (whoever he was) was the last of the prophets--he may have been intending a more generic "A to Z" style range, not necessarily time based. Abel might get a look-in because of the idea that his blood "spoke" or cried out to the Lord. Or maybe it's just because he's more or less the first martyr, given that his brother killed him over jealousy about his acceptance by the Lord.

    I like the "A to Z" idea - and I find it somewhat amusing (though I'm not sure that amusing is exactly the right word) that this works better in languages based on a Latin alphabet than it does for Greek or Hebrew!

  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Now that is a disturbingly brilliant idea.
  • Its obvious: Jesus clearly foreknew the start and finish of the contemporary global alphabet :naughty:
  • KarlLBKarlLB Shipmate
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Its obvious: Jesus clearly foreknew the start and finish of the contemporary global alphabet :naughty:

    He would almost certainly have been aware of the Latin alphabet of his time. He lived under the Roman Empire
  • Dang. That was a (not quite) random example of what I meant, but upon googling I realize Rome DID have the letter Z.
  • KarlLB wrote: »
    Eutychus wrote: »
    Its obvious: Jesus clearly foreknew the start and finish of the contemporary global alphabet :naughty:

    He would almost certainly have been aware of the Latin alphabet of his time. He lived under the Roman Empire

    Good point.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Or the writer's mother tongue was Latin.
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