Zacharias: 1. A priest of the course of Abia, the eighth of the twenty-four
courses into which the priests had been originally divided by
(1 Chronicles 23:1-19) Only four of these courses or "families"
of the priests returned from the Exile
(Ezra 2:36-39) but they
were then re-distributed under the old designations. The priests
served at the temple twice each year, and only for a week each
time. Zacharias's time had come for this service. During this
period his home would be one of the chambers set apart for the
priests on the sides of the temple ground. The offering of
incense was one of the most solemn parts of the daily worship of
the temple, and lots were drawn each day to determine who should
have this great honour, an honour which no priest could enjoy
more than once during his lifetime. While Zacharias ministered
at the golden altar of incense in the holy place, it was
announced to him by the angel Gabriel that his wife Elisabeth,
who was also of a priestly family, now stricken in years, would
give birth to a son who was to be called John, and that he would
be the forerunner of the long-expected Messiah
As a punishment for his refusing to believe this message, he was
struck dumb and "not able to speak until the day that these
things should be performed"
(Luke 1:20). Nine months passed
away, and Elisabeth's child was born, and when in answer to
their inquiry Zacharias wrote on a "writing tablet," "His name
is John," his mouth was opened, and he praised God
(Luke 1:60-79). The child (John the Baptist), thus "born out of
due time," "waxed strong in spirit"
2. The "son of Barachias," mentioned as having been slain between
the temple and the altar
(Matthew 23:35; Luke 11:51) "Barachias" here may
be another name for Jehoiada, as some think.