We read the following statement in the gospel of Matthew:
Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
The Old Testament makes mention of several Zacharias’ (Zechariah)---we wonder which one is Christ referring to? In order to answer this question let’s examine the Biblical evidence.
First, we do indeed find an historical account in which a man named Zechariah is slain in the court of the house of the LORD.
2 Chronicles 24:20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you.
21 And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD.
This account matches the description Jesus gave in Matthew 23. We find it is the religious leaders of Israel that conspired and violently put to death Zechariah. We also find that the place of his execution (in the court of the house of LORD) agrees with the language of “between the temple and the altar”.
But, what has some commentators confused is that Jesus said it was “Zacharias son of Barachias” that was killed. The account in 2 Chronicles 24 doesn’t mention Barachias, it says that the Zechariah who was stoned to death was the son of Jehoiada the priest.
However, when the Bible speaks of a ‘son’ it often can mean a descendant of an individual and not an immediate father to son relationship. Considering that Jehoida the priest died at the age of 130, it’s very likely that he was the grandfather (or even great grandfather) of Zechariah. Yet Zechariah is still accurately called his son.
Since the Bible allows for Zechariah to be the son of Barachias and yet still be called the son of Jehoida, this answers the one problem presented in the text regarding the identity of the Zechariah that was slain between the temple and the altar.
Let’s look at the other option. Some theologians view the Zechariah used of God to write the book of Zechariah as the one Christ was referring to as being slain between the temple and the altar. This Zechariah lived a couple of hundred years after the Zechariah who was stoned in the court of the LORD’s house. The reason theologians believe the prophet Zechariah is the one named by Jesus is solely based on this verse:
Zechariah 1:1 In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
Well, there it is, theologians say. Obviously this is the Zechariah Christ was referring to. He is the only Zechariah that is said to be the son of Berechiah.
However, Zechariah is mentioned in the book of Ezra, and in the book of Zechariah, but there is no hint of any danger or threats to his life found in those books.
In fact, we find that the spiritual leaders of Israel during the time Zechariah (and Haggai) prophesied were not in opposition to them, but operated according to their prophesying:
Ezra 5:1 Then the prophets, Haggai the prophet, and Zechariah the son of Iddo, prophesied unto the Jews that were in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, even unto them.
2 Then rose up Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, and Jeshua the son of Jozadak, and began to build the house of God which is at Jerusalem: and with them were the prophets of God helping them.
Ezra 6:14 And the elders of the Jews builded, and they prospered through the prophesying of Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo. And they builded, and finished it, according to the commandment of the God of Israel, and according to the commandment of Cyrus, and Darius, and Artaxerxes king of Persia.
The prophets of God “helped them” in building. There is no record of any animosity between Zechariah and the Jewish leaders that came out of Babylon.
Also, when we look at the two Zechariahs and the time period in history that each lived, we find that the Zechariah who was stoned to death fits perfectly with what Christ was teaching spiritually; while the time period for the other Zechariah does not.
For example, Jesus was giving an all encompassing statement regarding the religious leaders and their responsibility for killing the people of God from Abel (his death signifies the beginning) to Zecharias (his death signifies the end or completion of this awful thing). Again, Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada matches up perfectly. Actually, Zechariah dies after his father (likely grandfather) Jehoida the priest dies at the age of 130 years old. It’s very likely, that the reason God says Zechariah is the son of Jehoiada is to make that tie in with his death age of 130. The reason for this is that 130 (10 x 13) points to 13,000 years (10 x 10 x 10 x 13), the year in which the Church Age came to an end, and the corporate church, as it were, spiritually stoned to death the elect people of God by driving them out of the congregations.
When we look at Zechariah the prophet, we do not find that kind of significance. Instead, we find a time in which the people of Judah have come out of Babylon---and have been humbled and chastened through the experience of captivity for a long seventy years. We find hope in the laying of the temple foundation and a renewed desire to do or to keep the law of God (as Ezra establishes the law in Jerusalem). The time period or setting for the prophesying of Zechariah simply does not match well with the spiritual teaching Jesus is giving in Matthew 23 of an apostate corporate church.
Let’s summarize: Zechariah, said to be the son of Jehoida, identifies with Christ’s statement in Matthew 23 in the following ways:
1. He was killed by the religious leaders of Israel
2. The location of his death in the court of the house of the LORD matches “between the temple and altar”
3. The timing of it, after Jehoiada died at age 130 agrees perfectly with Jesus’ all encompassing statement of ‘Abel (beginning) to Zacharias (end/13,000th year)
4. Biblical language allows for Zechariah to have been the son of Barachias as well as the son of Jehoiada. Jehoiada is the one mentioned because of his death age of 130.
The only thing that points to Zechariah the prophet is that the Bible says he was the son of Berechiah. Yet this is far from definitive proof. Names were often handed down from generation to generation. For example, Joseph, the stepfather of Jesus, had Jacob for his father:
Matthew 1:16 And Jacob begat Joseph the husband of Mary, of whom was born Jesus, who is called Christ.
Jacob begat Joseph. Where have we heard that before? About two thousand years earlier. Jacob, in the year 1916 BC begat his son Joseph.
Over 1900 years later we find that a man named Jacob named one of his sons Joseph, and he wold be the Lord’s stepfather. There is nothing unusual about this.
Which means, that a line of Jehoiada, Berichah, Zechariah could have occurred in the days of Joash the king. And then, a couple of hundred years later (roughly), a man named Berechiah had a son that he named Zechariah.
As we look at all the Biblical evidence it is very clear that the Zacharias Jesus referred to in Matthew 23 had to be the man that was stoned to death in the court of the LORD’s house. Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest.