The 2nd Exodus: From The Blood of Abel to The Blood Of Zechariah

Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and it was your fathers who killed them. So you are witnesses and approve the deeds of your fathers; because it was they who killed them, and you build their tombs.

For this reason, also the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets and apostles, and some of them they will kill and some they will persecute,  so that the blood of all the prophets, shed since the foundation of the world, maybe charged against this generation, fromthe blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the house of God; yes, I tell you, it shall be charged against this generation.’ ~ Luke 11 [1]

 

  • Who is the Zechariah Jesus refers to in Luke 11?

The Zechariah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 24:20-22 fits Jesus’ description very well in Luke 11. But if one was to compare Jesus’ statement ‘from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah’ as a chronological statement using the bible we have today, it would become obvious that the order of the Old Testament books in our bible does not line up with Jesus’ statement.

Chronicles is in the middle of our Old Testament with Malachi as the last book. However, if one was to read the Tanak that Jesus and His contemporaries were used to reading, Jesus’ statement fits perfectly, chronologically.

So let’s consider how the 1st Century Jewish believers would have understood Jesus’ statement in Luke.

When Jesus spoke the words in Luke 11:51 He was referring to martyrs. The first murder recorded in the Tanak was Abel in Genesis 4. While Zechariah was a priest murdered in the last book of the Tanak.


The TaNaK – Torah (Law), Nevi’im (Prophets), and Ketuvim (Writings)

In Jesus’ day, the Hebrew Tanak was a collection of books written on scrolls held in the local synagogues and the Jerusalem Temple. The order of the books of the Tanak, unlike in our English bibles, is divided into 3 sections, the Law, Prophets, and Writings. The last book of the Tanak is Chronicles and Zechariah’s murder is recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:20-21.

I do not believe that Jesus was making a statement about the orthodox accepted chronological structure of the Tanak when He made His statement. Rather, He was simply laying out the chronological history of how the evil people persecuted God’s people and compared those evil people with the generation He was now facing.
But this order brings up some interesting questions and even more exciting and interesting answers!

Having 2 Chronicles at the end gave the Jewish people hope and anticipation of their Promised Messiah who would be far greater than King Cyrus. Chronicles ends with an open-ended statement:

 

Who [is there] of you of all his people? his God shall be with him, and let him go up. 2 Chronicles 36:23 LXX

 

Our Old Testament order of the books is just as valid as Malachi spoke about the coming messenger in the last days, (John the Baptist in the spirit of Elijah) who would prepare the way for the Messiah. While the first books of the New Testament show its fulfillment.

God’s word is living and we have the freedom to make our up own order of the books based on the message we each want to make!

 


From The Blood of Abel to The Blood Of Zechariah

Zechariah was the son of the High Priest and after his father’s death, he condemned the King and the people for rebelling against Yahweh and worshipping idols. Speaking the truth resulted in the people appealing to King Joash for him to be killed.

However, King Joash had become wicked and had deliberately forgotten that Zechariah’s father, Jehoiada the High Priest had saved his life when he was a child. Jehoiada had saved Joash from his evil grandmother, Athaliah, daughter of Ahab and Jezebel. After her son Ahaziah, King of Judah was killed at Megiddo, she began killing her dead son’s children to assure her position as ruler over Judah. When Joash turned seven, Jehoiada the High Priest brought him out of hiding as the legitimate heir to the throne, a descendant of the House of David, and anointed him king over Judah (see 2 Chronicles 22:11).

King Joash agreed with the people and ordered Zechariah’s death. Zechariah was stoned to death by his fellow Jews in the priest’s courtyard in the 1st temple. Just like Abel, his blood was a testimony of the wickedness carried out and with Zechariah, his last words were ‘May the Lord see and avenge.’

17 But after the death of Jehoiada the officials of Judah came and bowed down to the king, and the king listened to them. 18 They abandoned the house of the Lord, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols; so wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this their guilt.19 Yet He sent prophets to them to bring them back to the Lord; though they testified against them, they would not listen.

20 Then the Spirit of God came on Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest; and he stood above the people and said to them, “Thus God has said, ‘Why do you transgress the commandments of the Lord and do not prosper? Because you have forsaken the Lord, He has also forsaken you.’”

21 So they conspired against him and at the command of the king they stoned him to death in the court of the house of the Lord. 22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness which his father Jehoiada had shown him, but he murdered his son. And as he died he said, “May the Lord see and avenge!”  ~ 2 Chronicles 24:17-22

 

This murder was memorable in Jewish history as it seemed to affect the moral conscience of the people. The 1st Century Jewish believers would have been very aware of this historic event. Even the Talmud speaks of the murder and it records that he was killed on the Day of Atonement and that one-day Nebuchanezzar would avenge his death. (200 years later).[2]

Lightfoot notes in his book that this Zechariah was ‘Christlike’ as the nation wanted him to be killed because he spoke the truth and from the time that Zechariah was killed the nation started its decline. [3]

 


The Hope And Anticipation Of The Jews

Amber Dillon has written an article showing the remarkable unity between Chronicles and the Gospels, especially with Matthew. Here is an exert:

If you’re reading 2 Chronicles in Hebrew (which most of us aren’t, so it helps to have someone tell us what’s going on!), it’s crystal clear that Cyrus’ decree ends with an incomplete sentence: “and let him go up…” It’s not incomplete in English, but it is in Hebrew, which raises the question: Was this a mistake? No way.

To understand what’s happening with the incomplete sentence at the end of the TaNaK, let’s jump to Daniel 9. Daniel is sitting in Babylon reading the scroll of Jeremiah, which announced the seventy-year exile. From where Daniel sat, those seventy years were almost at their end, and he ponders when Israel will be restored. While he is praying, an angel appears to him (Daniel 9:21) and tells him that Israel’s sin, even after seventy years, hasn’t been adequately dealt with. So just as the Israelites took 490 years to break the covenant, there will be a corresponding seventy times seven years to restore the covenant. The exile’s punishment is not over; another 490 years are necessary before the messianic kingdom of God will come.

Now, back to 2 Chronicles 36. The question remains as to why Chronicles—and the Hebrew canon—ends with the incomplete decree from Cyrus. When the formation of the canon took place, the compiler placed Cyrus’ decree at the end of Chronicles to remind us that the promise to David of the messianic king was not fulfilled when many Israelites returned after seventy years (the story’s told in Ezra-Nehemiah). Rather, there will be another seventy sevens, that is, another super-Jubilee cycle. The unfinished sentence of Cyrus’ decree functions as a hyperlink that says, “go read Daniel 9 ” and when we make the connection, it’s clear that Israel still has another round of exile ahead of them before the real kingdom of God comes.[4]

… and we know that the Kingdom of God came manifested in Jesus, and then in power in 70 AD.

The Bible Project Team has also made a video about Chronicles and the hope and anticipation that it gave the Jewish people about their coming Messiah.

 


So When Were The Deaths Of These Tanak Martyrs Avenged?

Jesus came back in His Kingdom within that same generation with great power and glory. In 70AD the blood of all the martyrs including those from the Tanak was avenged as the curses of the Old Covenant were poured out on His enemies – the unrepentant Jews.

Jesus was NOT a false prophet  – He said in Luke 11 that it would happen within His generation “this generation” and it did! The temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and His eternal Kingdom came and was inaugurated through the New Covenant.

This is the first post in the series The 2nd Exodus and in my next post I’ll be covering the significance of 40 years.

 


Further resources:

This Generation blog post


Footnotes:

[1] The same woes are recorded in Matthew but the name of the Zechariah is different.

29 “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets and adorn the monuments of the righteous, 30 and say, ‘If we had been living in the days of our fathers, we would not have been partners with them in shedding the blood of the prophets.’ 31 So you testify against yourselves, that you are sons of those who murdered the prophets. 32 Fill up, then, the measure of the guilt of your fathers. 33 You serpents, you brood of vipers, how will you escape the sentence of hell?

34 “Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, 35 so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. 36 Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation.
37 “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, the way a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, and you were unwilling. 38 Behold, your house is being left to you desolate! 39 For I say to you, from now on you will not see Me until you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” ~Matthew 23

 

Some scholars claim that the Zechariah in the New Testament is not the same as the one killed in 2 Chronicles. They say that there were two Zechariahs killed and the one that is referred to in Luke and Matthew was John the Baptist’s father. They write that when Jesus uses the word You – it refers to the Pharisees who must have murdered him. Though there is no historical record of this happening.

While some say that it is the prophet Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo in Zech 1:1, however, there is no biblical or historical record of this prophet being murdered.

None of the scholars who propose any of the above suggestions take into consideration the order of the books of the Tanak. 

There is the possibility that Jehoiada was Zechariah’s grandfather and Berechiah was his father as people in the bible could go under two names.

But what is even more important to note is that the phrase the son of Berechiah is missing in the original Codex Sinaiticus. The ESV has a text-critical footnote stating ‘Some manuscripts omit the son of Barachiah.’ What this means is that when the text was redacted, the phrase was possibly a scribal addition. 

[2] http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/15201-zechariah-ben-jehoiada

[3] Lightfoot pages 302 – 308 Horae Hebraicae et Talmudicae  

[4]The Sense of An Ending – What is the Real Last Book of the Bible. 

 

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