THE LORD REMEMBERS
© 2008 John H Mattox

    The name Zechariah means in Hebrew
The LORD Remembers, a meaning which is filled with significance when we consider the rather amazing part that this name has played in the history of the Jews. It was borne by nearly thirty individuals, but we are concerned here with only three of them. The first to claim our attention is Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, the priest; who saved the boy Joash from being put to death by his wicked grandmother, Athalaiah. She had seized the throne of Judah upon the death of her son Jehoram, the father of Joash. Athaliah was deposed and slain and Joash was placed on the throne through the efforts of Jehoiada, and as long as the good priest lived, Joash was a good king. However, after the death of Jehoiada, Joash departed from the path of righteousness and was rebuked by Zechariah, son of Jehoiada.

"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. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it and require it."
II Chron. 24:21-22.

The expression he remembered not is in stark contrast with the meaning here of the name Zechariah - the LORD remembers.
    We also catch a glimpse of a time (then future) when the goodness of another Father would be forgotten and His Son slain by those who had been the recipients of His goodness.
    Thus the first temple of the Jews was desecrated by the murder of a righteous man within its precincts. This atrocity occurred about 800 years before Christ, and about two hundred years later (in 597 B.C.) the first temple was destroyed and the Jews were carried into captivity by Babylon. After the fall of Babylon to the Medes and Persians, the Jews were allowed to return to their land and rebuild their temple. This they did under the leadership of Zerubbabel (and later, Ezra and Nehemiah) and the second temple was finished about 516 B.C. Urging the people on in this work were two prophets Haggai, and Zechariah, son of Berechiah, whose written prophecies form part of the O.T. However, the prodding of Zechariah must have incensed the people for, according to the testimony of Jesus, they slew him between the temple and the altar.

"That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias (Greek spelling of Zechariah) son of Barachias(Greek spelling of Berechiah), whom ye slew between the temple and the altar".
Matt. 23:35.

continued at top of next column

The Lord Remembers (cont)

    Some have argued that this Zechariah was the same as the son of Jehoiada previously mentioned, since there is no historical reference to such a murder of the Prophet Zechariah. However, those who make such an identification find some difficulty in explaining why Jesus called him the son of Berechiah, when the fact that he was the son of the good priest Jehoiada made his murder even more shameful. The writer is willing to believe that Jesus knew what he was talking about and that the Jews desecrated the second, as well as the first, temple by the murder therein of a righteous man whose name also was Zechariah. However, even if this understanding of the words of Jesus is incorrect, it still remains that the second temple was desecrated by the murder of an innocent man, for Josephus, in Ant. Jud. XII-A, records that the High Priest, John, slew his brother, Jesus, in the temple; and though the Jews were incensed by the outrage, John still retained the High Priesthood. It is no wonder that several generations later. God allowed Antiochus Epiphanes to subdue the Jews and, (in their eyes) pollute the temple by offering a sow upon the altar. How could Antiochus pollute with the blood of a sow what had already been polluted by the blood of a righteous man?

The Lord Remembers (cont)

    However, the pattern is not yet complete. The second temple was ravaged by one conqueror after another until it was thoroughly dilapidated. When Herod the Great came to the throne of Judea, he undertook the work of building a third temple - a work which was not completely finished until a short time before it was destroyed in A. D. 70. This was the temple which was in existence during the life and ministry of Jesus. Josephus tells the story of a most interesting event which took place not long before the final destruction of the city and the temple:

"And now these Zealots and Idumeans were quite weary of barely killing men, so they had the impudence of setting up fictitious tribunals and judicatures for that purpose and as they intended to have Zacharias, the son of Baruch, one of the most eminent of the citizens slain - so what provoked them against him was, that hatred of wickedness and love of liberty which were so eminent in him: he was also a rich man, so that by taking him off, they did not only hope to seize his effects; but also to get rid of a man that had great power to destroy them. So they called together by a public proclamation seventy of the principal men of the populace, for a show, as if they were real judges, while they had no proper authority. Before these was Zacharias accused of a design to betray their polity to the Romans, and having traitorously sent to Vespasian for that purpose. Now there appeared no proof or sign of what he was accused; but, they affirmed themselves that they were well persuaded that it was so, and desired that such their affirmation might be taken for sufficient evidence. Now when Zacharias clearly saw that there was no way remaining for his escape from them, as having been treacherously called before them, and then put in prison, but not with any intention of a legal trial, he took great liberty of speech in that despair of life he was under. Accordingly, he stood up and laughed at their pretended accusation, and in a few words confuted the crimes laid to his charge; after which he turned his speech to his accusers, and went over distinctly all their transgressions of the law; and made heavy lamentation upon the confusion they had brought public affairs to. In the meantime, the Zealots grew tumultuous, and had much ado to abstain from drawing their swords, although they designed to preserve the appearance and show of judicature to the end. They were also desirous, on other accounts, to try the judges, whether they would be mindful of what was just at their own peril. Now the seventy judges brought in their verdict that the person accused was not guilty, as choosing rather to die themselves with him, than to have his death laid at their doors: hereupon there arose a great clamour of the Zealots upon his acquittal, and they all had indignation at the judges for not understanding that the authority that was given them was but in jest. So two of the boldest of them fell upon Zacharias in the middle of the temple, and slew him and as he fell down dead, they bantered him, and said, 'Thou has also our verdict, and this will prove a more sure acquittal to thee than the other.' They also threw him down from the temple immediately into the valley beneath it."
Bella Judorum, Book IV, 5:4.

    Thus, each of the three temples of the Jews was desecrated by the murder of a righteous man named Zechariah, if we may believe the testimony of Jesus.
    The name Zechariah not only means the LORD remembers, but also suggests male-child, or son, of the LORD. Zachar as a noun, means male-child, or son, and is so translated a number of times. How appropriate that the male-child of the LORD should be killed in each of the three temples of the Jews, for at the very zenith of the most sacred festival of their religion, they did seize and put to death God's Zachar. But a few years later, in A.D. 70, they were made to realize that the LORD remembers, when Titus beseiged Jerusalem, captured it, and destroyed it - including the temple.

John H Mattox

return to index