ZECHARIAH, THE SON OF BERECHIAH


In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 23, verse 35; our Lord Jesus Christ said, speaking to the people of Jerusalem:

“Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.”
Matthew 23:34-35

Many have questioned this declaration of our Lord, from the most sceptics, by saying that Jesus committed a mistake in his humanity, confusing the name of the prophet. Others attribute this declaration to a copyist’s mistake, by saying that he confused the name Berechiah (Zachariah 1:1), with Jehoiada (2Chronicles 24:20), and that in fact, our Lord Jesus was speaking of the son of the High Priest, Zechariah who was stoned to death by  Jehoash, King of Judah, in the court of the temple (2Chronicles 24:21)

THREE MAJOR THEORIES

OUR LORD’S MISTAKE
Some ‘Christians scholars’, have put forward the idea that Jesus, as a human, committed some misjudgements. Like when he said that many of his time will not see death before they see him coming in his Kingdom (Matthew 16:28), which they attribute it to a misjudgement, since he openly declared that he did not know when he was going to return (Matthew 24:36); they also attribute this declaration to be a mistake, mentioning Berechiah instead of Jehoiada, as the father is this Zechariah, the son of the High Priest who was in fact murdered in the Temple court.

COPYST’S ERROR
Since the same declaration is mentioned in Luke 11:51, and not the name of the father of Zechariah; it has been assumed that the addition or alteration of this name has been made by later scribes. At least the Codex Sinaiticus, from the 4th century, holds no name of the father of Zechariah in its Matthew version, however, it is the only one among many.

JOHN THE BATIST’S FATHER
The apocryphal Gospel of James describes the murder of Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist, in the Temple. This story is also said to be sustained by Origen.  

CONSIDERATION

Considering that the humanity of Jesus did not eliminate his divine capacity, but that it was only restricted of his own free will; we can say that Jesus really knew the time of his coming, but tried to demonstrate his submission to the Father’s decision over his own initiative. To declare that Jesus committed mistakes in his declarations, totally distorts the person of the Son of God; by totally depriving him of his divinity, rendering him totally unfit as a spiritual guide.

On the other side, it is possible that a copyist’s mistake may have filtered into the sacred text; however, the unanimous testimony holds the name Berechiah, as the father of this Zechariah. This would mean also that many other sections of the Scripture may be manipulated, rendering the Scriptures susceptible to be adulterated and not worthy of trust.

Finally, the story of Zechariah, as being John Baptist’s father, holds no support in the canonical Scriptures, neither the name of Zechariah’s father being Berechiah. This theory relies more in fiction than history.

CONCLUSION

The only credible solution is the possibility that Jesus was correct when he spoke of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, making this Zechariah to be the prophet whose book has his name.

This Zechariah, in comparison with the other possibilities, is universally considered to be an indisputable Prophet of God, whose death we know nothing about, and whose historical position would fit the story.

Considering that he started his ministry around the year 520 BCE, during the second year of King Darius (Zechariah 1:1), and the second temple was consecrated around the year 516 BCE; it is quite possible that prophet Zechariah may have been murdered through power struggle and jealousy within the Second Temple walls, “between the sanctuary and the altar”; and that our NT records are correct.

Omar Flores.

Comments