Zechariah – The Prophet With A Family History

The word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo.  Zechariah 1: 1(NIV)

When you do a study on people in the Bible it is good to look at the meaning of their names, and like this study who was related to them.  Given the fact that names were given to later generations in honor of their forefathers, this can prove tricky to be as accurate as people want.  This study is one of those that could have several possibilities but I will try my best; please be merciful.  So, first, we will look at the meanings of the names and a common city that turned up with several of them.  (The numbers are Strong’s Concordance Hebrew references numbers.)

  • Zechariah (#2148) Jah (God) has remembered
  • Berekiah (#1296) knee or “blessing” of Jah
  • Iddo – (#5714, 3260, 3035, 112) 5714 – timely; 3260 – appointed or JEDI (for you Star Wars fans); 3035 – praised; 112 may be related to Edom or worshipper of Him. It seems that changing the spelling of the name happened for the same person.

Zechariah – There are many people with that name in the Bible, so not much there.

Berekiah – It seems there are two “major” families that share that name.

  1. A relative of King Jehoiakim – 1 Chronicles 3:20 and probably the family in Nehemiah 3:4, 30, and 6: 18. They rebuilt a portion of the wall and married into the family of a troublemaker for Nehemiah.
  2. A Levite from the tribe of Merarites from Mahanaim – 1 Chronicles 9:16, 15:17,23

Iddo – Other than “our” Zechariah there are four people(s) with this name.

  1. 1 Kings 4:14 and 1 Chronicles 27:21 talk about an Iddo from Mahanaim who was an administrator for Solomon.
  2. The seer who wrote down history and genealogies for Solomon and Abijah. 2 Chronicles 9:29, 12: 15, and 13: 22
  3. A leader of Levites that Ezra asked for help. 1 Chronicles 6:21 and Ezra 8: 17
  4. A priest whose son (Zechariah) went to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel. Nehemiah 12:4, 16

Mahanaim is a city that was east of the Jordan River.  It is first mentioned in the Bible as the place where Jacob wrestled the angel (Genesis 32: 2).  It was a “city of refuge” for people who accidentally killed someone.  This is where King Saul’s general, Abner, set up Saul’s last son, Ish-Bosheth, to reign as king. Finally, it is where King David went when he ran from Absalom.  It is easy to see that this was a town of some importance in the area of Gilead.  So, Mahanaim was either a fortified city that was very important on the edge of the kingdom or they were trying to use the Law as protection against those looking to harm them.

Can we know for sure exactly who was the family of Zechariah?  No, but I will go with this idea.  He was a Levite (not the priest) whose family had lived in Mahanaim and his grandfather had been the seer and administrator who worked for Solomon.  This would mean that he was part of a family that had served God for many generations as prophets; that is quite a family legacy.