Matthew 23:35 Zecharias son of Barachias - Are all Greek texts wrong?
Matthew 23:35 Zachariah the son of Berechiah or Zechariah the son of Jehoiada?
Is there a copyist error in ALL texts and in ALL Bibles as many claim?
There is a textual reading found in the recorded words of our Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew 23:35 where the Lord is rehearsing the long, sad history of the rebellion of the children of Israel.
In Matthew 23:34-36 we read: “34 Wherefore, behold, I send unto you prophets, and wise men, and scribes: and some of them ye shall kill and crucify; and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues, and persecute them from city to city: 35 that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of BARACHIAS, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar. 36 Verily I say unto you, All these things shall come upon this generation.”
The “problem” many see in this text is that though there are about 27 different people called Zechariah in the Old Testament, it is not recorded that Zacharias the son of BARACHIAS (Berechiah) was killed in this way, but there IS a similar death recorded of Zechariah the son of JEHOIADA in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22.
Here we read: “20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of JEHOIADA the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the Lord, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the Lord, he hath also forsaken you. 21 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. 22 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.
A surprising number of Bible commentators tell us that this is a TEXTUAL ERROR that was either originally made by Matthew himself or that some later scribe misread the text and thus ALL the Greek manuscripts repeated this error.
Typical of this claim of TEXTUAL ERROR is The Expositor’s Greek Testament, which says: “υἱοῦ βαραχίου (son of Berechiah), the designation of the last but one of the minor prophets, applied here to the other Zechariah, BY INADVERTENCE EITHER OF THE EVANGELIST (Matthew himself) OR OF AN EARLY COPYIST.”
And Robertson’s Word Pictures in The New Testament says: “The usual explanation is that the reference is to Zachariah the son of Jehoiada the priest who was slain in the court of the temple (2 Chronicles 24:20.). HOW THE WORDS, “THE SON OF BARACHIAH” GOT INTO MATTHEW WE DO NOT KNOW.”
Many Bible commentators and even some books that attempt to explain alleged “contradictions” in the Bible, just omit any reference to this verse. They apparently cannot give a reasonable explanation.
ALL Bibles in all languages of the world I have looked at read the same here in Matthew 23:35 - Zechariah the son of BERECHIAH, and not Zechariah the son of Jehoiada.
A professing Christian who does not believe his Bible - ANY Bible - is the inerrant words of God, posts at one of our Facebook forums:
"Do you want more examples of error in the Bible? Here the name Jehoiada is wrongly given as Barachias - Mat. 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
Compare to - 2 Chron. 24:20 And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you." (End of Bible critic’s comments)
Is there a way to explain this apparent contradiction without resorting to the claim that the Bible is simply wrong?
Yes, there is. First of all, there IS a prophet named Zechariah who was the son of Berechiah and he is found in the book of Zechariah. What a coincidence!
Zechariah 1:1-3 KJB - “In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of BERECHIAH, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, 2 The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers. 3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts.”
Secondly, the Lord Jesus is drawing a contrast between the first and the last of the men of God whom wicked men had slain. He begins with Abel and ends with Zechariah the son of Berechiah.
Matthew 23:35 - “That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, FROM the blood of righteous Abel UNTO the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.”
The Zechariah the son of Jehoiada recorded in 2 Chronicles 24 lived died around 800 A.D. and was by no means the last of the Old Testament martyrs.
Gleason Archer points this out in his book Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties, 1982, Zondervan Corporation, pages 337-338. He says: “Hence he makes a poor balance to Abel, who certainly was the first.”
Mr. Archer then goes on to say: “The obvious solution is to start all over again and assume that Matthew 23:35 correctly reports the words of Jesus, and that He knew what He was talking about.
If so, then we discover that the Zechariah He was referring to was indeed the son of Berechiah (NOT Jehoiada), and that he was indeed the last of the Old Testament martyrs mentioned in the Hebrew Scriptures.”
Mr. Archer goes on to note that Christ is recalling to His audience the circumstances of the death of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah (Zechariah 1:1) whose ministry began some three centuries later than that of the other Zechariah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24.”
We are not told in the O.T. Scriptures how this later prophet, Zechariah the son of Berechiah, died. It is simply not recorded, but that does not mean it did not happen the way the Lord Jesus said it did.
There are several things the N.T. reveals that are not recorded in the Old Testament.
For example, the names of the Egyptian magicians Jannes and Jambres as found in 2 Timothy 3:8. Or how “Lot vexed his righteous soul from day to day” in 2 Peter 2:7-8. Or how that Michael the archangel contended with the devil about the body of Moses in Jude 1:9.
One difference between the two different Zechariahs is that the one referred to in 2 Chronicles was stoned “IN THE COURT OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD”, but the Zechariah the son of Berachiah Jesus refers to in Matthew 23 was slain “BETWEEN THE TEMPLE AND THE ALTAR.”
Mr. Archer concludes with these words, saying: “In the absence of any other information as to how the prophet Zechariah died, we may as well conclude that Jesus has given a true account of it and add him to the roster of the noble martyrs of biblical times.”
Most Bible commentators either tell us this is a textual error in Matthew 23:35 or they just skip over it because they don’t know how to explain it.
But I did find one Bible commentator who agrees with our view.
Peter Pett says in his Commentary on the Bible - “For the blood of ‘Zachariah the son of Berechiah’ we probably have to look to the Jewish tradition of the time of Jesus, which sadly is not available to us. For this was probably the Zechariah, son of Berechiah, of Zechariah 1. Certainly we know that he had many dangerous opponents whom he had outfaced (Zechariah 10:3; Zechariah 11:8), and his words had undoubtedly stirred up deep antagonism against him (Zechariah 11:8; Zechariah 11:12-14; Zechariah 13:7), as he described them as worthless shepherds (Matthew 11:16-17) so such a death is quite likely to have happened to him and to have been remembered in the tradition. He may thus well have been the last prophet to have been martyred. The description ‘between the sanctuary and the altar’ is specific and suggests some specific and well known tradition. This makes it unlikely that this refers to Zechariah the ‘son’ (probably grandson, and therefore he could have been a son of Berechiah, which was not an uncommon name, compare 1 Chronicles 6:39) of Jehoiada, who while he was slain in the courtyard of the Lord’s house (2 Chronicles 24:21), was not said to have been slain in this specific place (the priestly section of the courtyard).”
You either believe the Book or you do not, and this particular bible critic who brought up this objection in our Facebook forum, clearly is just another professing Christian who does NOT believe the Bible - ANY Bible - IS the complete and inerrant words of God.
The King James Bible is always right. Get used to it.
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