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" (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" ( 1:80 ).
(Greek form of Zechariah ).
[E] indicates this entry was also found in Easton's Bible Dictionary
(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 5:18,56).
(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.
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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
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