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.

The Prophets of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

The Prophets of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

Ahijah of Shiloh – The story of Jeroboam son of Nebat really starts and ends with Ahijah. (There are several Ahijah’s in the Bible the name means worshipper of [God] Jah). In 1 Kings 11 Jeroboam hears what he wants to form this aging prophet, that he will be king, and ignores the reason why he is getting it. So it would be safe to say that the counsel he gets in 1 Kings 12:28 is not from Ahijah because he does exactly what Solomon did to anger God. But like many before him when he is in need and it is something important he knows to seek God. So in 1 Kings 14 when Jeroboam sends his wife to Ahijah he is acknowledging the God he has forsaken. (He could not go himself because of pride and fear of his priest.) God proclaims an end to his family through this old prophet who still believes in God. Ahijah may have been the prophet who spoke against Solomon in 1 Kings 11:9 (see 2 Chronicles 9:29).

Man of God from Judah – was not a prophet, priest, apostle, pastor, or teacher just a MAN. He got a Word from God, now we are not told how or from whom but he knew what he had to do and was serious about doing. I normally would have added my own adjective to this man but no where is he called anything else, including the final mention of this tale in 2 Kings 23:19, but a man of God (this term is usually associated with a prophet). He spoke against the altar and predicted what would happen in 2 Kings, he prayed for Jeroboam’s hand, and even refused a meal and a gift. The mistake he made was to STOP (vs. 14). Who knows, possible he was the next prophet that would have been used to call Judah/Israel to repentance instead he symbolizes Judah and their stopping.

Old Prophet of Bethel – had not moved with God and was jealous. This character I like the least, feel sorry for the most, and never want to become. (He could be the lukewarm ones in the Book of Revelations 3: 16.) If he had gotten the word about the altar he did not act on it and he had not left his old way and moved to Judah like many other had done (2 Chronicles 11: 13 – 17).   He recognized the move of God and instead of helping the “man of God” finish his mission he condemned him to death. Jehovah even gave him a chance to repent; he could have gone with the man instead of grabbing a final moment of glory. His final wish to be buried with the man of God was so his bones would not be burned in 2 Kings 23.

Shemaiah Prophet/Man of God – This Shemaiah is found in 1Kings 12 and 2 Chronicles 11 and 12 (there are 24 other people with that name in the Bible). Like many prophets he is there when needed and is directed to one person, Rehoboam. He must have been known before this because just to walk up to a mad king bent on conquest and say, “Go home” and everyone listen to you speaks to a high level of credibility. In chapter 12:5 when he delivers the good news/bad news to Judah about Shishak king of Egypt; it is also received and seems to bring a change in Rehoboam. With that this Shemaiah fades from history having done his job. His name means Jah (God) has heard which is why I am sure there were so many people with that name.

Iddo the Seer – In 1 Samuel 9:9 it is explained that a seer was an old name for a prophet. This Iddo is mentioned three times in the Bible (there are five others) in 2 Chronicles 9:29, 12:15, and 13:22. (His name means timely.) He had visions about Jeroboam, recorded genealogies, and wrote about the reign of Abijah son of Rehoboam. He saw the struggles of Judah through the reigns of Solomon, Rehoboam, and Abijah. We can hope that he was a voice God used to speak righteousness to his people and priest during confusing time.