Son of Jeroboam II, and 14th king of Israel. He was the 4th of the line of Jehu, and reigned six months. Zechariah succeeded to a splendid inheritance, as he was king, not only of the ten tribes of Israel, but of the Syrian state of Damascus, which his father had subdued. In the unusual wealth and dignity of this position lay his peril. Also there were two dark shadows falling across his path, though both probably unseen by him. One was the promise to Jehu, as the reward of his destroying the worship of Baal in Israel, that his sons should sit on the throne of Israel to the 4th generation (2 Kings 10:30; 15:12). Zechariah was Jehu's great-great-grandson. The other was the word of Amos to the priest of Bethel: "Then said the Lord. ... I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword" (Amos 7:8,9).
The only brief notice of Zechariah personal to himself is that he gave his support to the worship of the calves, since Jeroboam I established the religion of the state. He hardly had time, however, to identify himself with this or any institution before he was publicly assassinated by Shallum, the son of Jabesh (he "smote him before the people"). The prophet Hosea was then alive, and there is probably allusion to this crime when, addressing Ephraim, he says:
"Where is thy king, that he may save thee in all thy cities?. ... I have given thee a king in mine anger, and have taken him away in my wrath" (Hosea 13:10,11; compare 1:4).
There has long been difficulty with the chronology of this period. Archbishop Ussher assumed an interregnum of 11 years between the death of Jeroboam II and Zechariah's accession. This is accepted as probable by a recent writer, who sees "at least 10 years of incessant conflict between rival claimants to the throne on Jeroboam's death" (see article "Zechariah" in HDB, IV). It seems more likely that there is error in certain of the synchronisms. The year of Zechariah's accession was probably 759 BC (some put it later), and the 6 months of his reign, with that given to Shallum, may be included in the 10 years of Menahem, who followed them (2 Kings 15:17).
See CHRONOLOGY OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
W. Shaw Caldecott
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