Easton's Bible Dictionary
(1) A priest of the course of Abia, the eighth of the
twenty-four courses into which the priests had been originally divided by David
( 1 Chronicles 23:1 - 19 ). Only four of these courses or "families" of the priests
returned from the Exile ( Ezra 2:36 - 39 ); but they were then re-distributed
under the old designations. The priests served at the temple twice each year,
and only for a week each time. Zacharias's time had come for this service. During
this period his home would be one of the chambers set apart for the priests on
the sides of the temple ground. The offering of incense was one of the most solemn
parts of the daily worship of the temple, and lots were drawn each day to determine
who should have this great honour, an honour which no priest could enjoy more
than once during his lifetime.
While Zacharias ministered at the golden altar of incense in the holy place, it
was announced to him by the angel Gabriel that his wife Elisabeth, who was also
of a priestly family, now stricken in years, would give birth to a son who was
to be called John, and that he would be the forerunner of the long-expected Messiah
( Luke 1:12 - 17 ). As a punishment for his refusing to believe this message,
he was struck dumb and "not able to speak until the day that these things should
be performed" (Luke 1:20). Nine months passed away, and Elisabeth's child was
born, and when in answer to their inquiry Zacharias wrote on a "writing tablet,"
"His name is John," his mouth was opened, and he praised God (60-79). The child
(John the Baptist), thus "born out of due time," "waxed strong in spirit" ( Luke
(2) The "son of Barachias," mentioned as having been slain between the temple
and the altar ( Matthew 23:35 ; Luke 11:51 ). "Barachias" here may be another
name for Jehoiada, as some think. (See ZECHARIAH.)
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(Greek form of Zechariah).
(1) Father of John the Baptist.
( Luke 1:5 ) etc. He was a priest of the course of Abia. the eighth of the twenty-four
courses who ministered at the temple in turn. He probably lived at Hebron. His
wifes name was Elisabeth. John was born to them in their old age, and the promise
of this son was communicated to Zacharias by an angel while he was offering incense
and praying in the temple.
(2) Son of Barachias, who, our Lord says, was slain by the Jews between the altar and the temple.
( Matthew 23:35 ; Luke 11:61 ) There has been much dispute who this Zacharias
was. Many of the Greek fathers have maintained that the father of John the Baptist
is the person to whom our Lord alludes but there can be little or no doubt that
the allusion is to Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, ( 2 Chronicles 24:20 , 24:21
) and he may have been called "the son" of Barachias from his grandfather. (B.C.
838.) He is mentioned as being the martyr last recorded in the Hebrew Scriptures
(as Abel was the first) -d Chronicles being the last book in their canon.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
(1) One of the "rulers of the temple" at the time of Josiah's Passover (1 Esdras
1:8) = "Zechariah" of 2 Chronicles 35:8.
(2) One of the "holy singers" at Josiah's Passover (1 Esdras 1:15); the name stands
in place of "Heman" in 2 Chronicles 35:15.
(3) In 1 Esdras 6:1; 7:3 = the prophet Zechariah.
(4) One of the sons of Pharos who returned with Ezra at the head of his family
(1 Esdras 8:30) = "Zechariah" of Ezra 8:3, and perhaps identical with (5).
(5) One of the "men of understanding" with whom Ezra consulted when he discovered
the absence of priests and Levites (1 Esdras 8:44) = "Zechariah" of Ezra 8:16,
and perhaps identical with (6).
(6) Zacharias (omitted in the King James Version), who stood on Ezra's left hand
as he expounded the Law (1 Esdras 9:44) = "Zechariah" of Nehemiah 8:4.
(7) One of the sons of Babi who went up at the head of his family with Ezra (1
Esdras 8:37) = "Zechariah" of Ezra 8:11.
(8) One of the sons of Elam who had taken foreign wives (1 Esdras 9:27) = "Zechariah"
of Ezra 10:26.
(9) The father of Joseph, one of the "leaders of the people" under Judas (1 Macc
(10) The King James Version = the Revised Version (British and American) "Zarains"
(1 Esdras 5:8).
(11) The King James Version = the Revised Version (British and American) "Zachariah"
of Matthew 23:35.
(12) Father of John the Baptist (Luke 1:5, etc.). He was a priest of the course
of ABIJAH (which see), of blameless life, who in his old age was still childless.
But on one occasion when it was the turn of the course of Abijah to minister in
the temple (see TEMPLE), Zacharias was chosen by lot to burn incense. While engaged
in this duty he was visited by Gabriel, who announced to him that he should become
the father of the precursor of the Messiah. Zacharias received the promise incredulously
and was punished by being stricken mute. When, however, the child was born and
Zacharias had obeyed the injunction of Gabriel by insisting on the name John,
his powers of speech returned to him. According to Luke 1:67 - 79, Zacharias was
the author of the hymn Benedictus, which describes God's deliverance of Israel
in language drawn entirely from the Old Testament, and which is unaffected by
the later Christian realization that the Kingdom is also for Gentiles.
Elisabeth, his wife, was of the daughters of Aaron (Luke 1:5) and kinswoman of
the Virgin (Luke 1:36; the relationship is altogether obscure). According to Luke
1:42 - 45, she was one of those who shared in the secret of the Annunciation.
A few manuscripts in Luke 1:46 ascribe the Magnificat to her, but this seems certainly
erroneous. See especially Zahn, Evangelium des Lucas, 98-101 and 745-751 (1913).
Burton Scott Easton
bible commentary, bible reference, bible study, define, father of john the baptist, history of, priest, stuck mute, visited by the angel gabriel, zacharias