Problem: Jesus mixes up his Zechariahs
Verses: 2 Chronicles 24:20-21, Matthew 23:34-35; Status: Minor

2 Chronicles 24:20-21 describes the death of Zechariah the son of Jehoiada:

Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, "Thus says God, 'Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.'" But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD. (ESV)

It's important to note that this is not the Zechariah who wrote the Book of Zechariah. That Zechariah is instead the son of Berechiah. Furthermore, we know that the second Zechariah lived about 300 years after the first. So we have:

Yet Jesus appears to mix up these Zechariahs. This is Matthew 23:34-35 where Jesus is condemning the Pharisees:

Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of innocent Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar. (ESV)

I think it's fairly obvious this is just a mistake by Jesus; or more likely, by Matthew. The corresponding verse in Luke (Luke 11:51) contains no such error. However, since there's no record of how the later Zechariah died, it's possible to claim that he also happened to be murdered in the temple, just like the other Zechariah. I don't find this very likely, but it would solve the problem.

Updated: 2009-02-15

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