Who was the Zachariah that was murdered in the temple?

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Jesus mentioned the name of this Zachariah when he denounced the apostasy of the pharisees and scribes by walking in the steps of their fathers who killed the Old Testament prophets, “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” (Matthew 23:35). These religious leaders at the time were plotting the death of Jesus and in few days actually succeeded in crucifying Him.

The Bible tells us that Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada the high priest, who was stoned to death in the courts of the Temple upon orders from King Joash, who reigned from 835 to 796 B.C. Jewish history outside the Bible also mentions this murder that shook the nation when it took place.

Zacharias was murdered because he warned the people of his time saying, “Thus says God: ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, He also has forsaken you” (2 Chron. 24:20). So, the people instead of repenting got angry against him, and at the command of the king they stoned Zacharias in the court of the house of the LORD.

And as he died the prophet of God said, “The LORD look on it, and repay!” (2 Chron. 24:20–22). Jehoiada had saved the life of the infant king Joash and elevated him to the throne, and now the king had so little gratitude for the kindness that had been shown him that he ordered the death of the son of the man that saved him.

Zechariah the son of Jehoiada (2 Chron. 24:20–22) is the only person by this name mentioned in Scripture as having been killed in the temple. As for the other Zechariahs in the Bible, the Scriptures don’t say that Zechariah the son of Berechiah (Zech. 1:1), was martyred and the same is true for “Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah” that is recorded in Isa. 8:2.

Jesus named Abel and Zechariah because, according to the order of books in Hebrew Bibles, they represent the first and the last recorded martyrs. For in Hebrew Bibles, the books of Chronicles appear as the last books of Scripture, in the same position occupied by Malachi in our English Bibles.

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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