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- This article concerns the high priest who agreed to a child marriage with Prince Ahaz of Judah. For the high priest who was summarily executed, see Zechariah I. For other characters of this name or variants thereof, see Zechariah (disambiguation).
Zechariah II (Hebrew: זכריה, Zeḵaryāh; "YHWH has remembered") (ca. 803/2801 BC
3202 AM–fl. 756/5754 BC
3249 AM–743/2 BC741 BC
3262 AM) was the twenty-first high priest of Israel. He is best remembered for having an unusual and highly sensitive duty to perform under difficult circumstances.
Zechariah was likely born on or near the eighth regnal year of King Uzziah of Judah. When Uzziah attempted to burn incense in the Temple of Jerusalem, Zechariah was old enough to be a priest himself. He might even have been present at the fateful confrontation between his father and the king, and personally witnessed the king being stricken by leprosy.
Zechariah had a son, Urijah, who would succeed him as high priest. He also had a daughter, Abi, who participated in a marriage unusual in the House of David and unattested in the royal houses of Israel. Specifically, King Jotham arranged a child marriage between his son, the future King Jehoahaz I, and Zechariah's daughter Abi or Abijah. Prince Ahaz was ten years old at the time, and logically Abi was perhaps two years older than that. Remarkably, the two children were intimate, and Abi actually conceived and bore a son, the future king Hezekiah. This marriage was the second major matrimonial connection between the House of David and the house of Aaron.
Zechariah's career as a priest, as mentioned, includes the year that Uzziah tried to burn incense in the Temple, was stricken with leprosy, and had to be removed from the Temple. Uzziah spent the remainder of his reign in quarantine, and Prince Jotham had to assume most of the powers and duties of the crown as pro-rex. So Zechariah might have had an enhanced opportunity to come to know Jotham as a man.
On or shortly after Jotham became king, Zechariah became high priest. Jotham was twenty-five years old at the time, and already had a four-year-old son (Prince Ahaz). For reasons that the Bible does not make clear, Jotham never entered the Temple during his reign; perhaps his father's experience traumatized him. (That he had to take special precautions with his father's body on account of his leprosy might have weighed even more heavily on his mind; see 2_Chronicles 26:23 ).
Six years later, as one may infer from the chronological data in the Bible, Jotham came to Zechariah to propose the child marriage. Jotham and Zechariah likely knew each other well, and perhaps their children knew one another also. Why the king would propose such a marriage, and why Zechariah would accept such a proposal, the Bible does not say. Whether either man might have expected the marriage to produce a child within a year is impossible to determine—but a child was born, on or about 3252 or 3253 AM.
The characters of Ahaz and his son, Hezekiah, were vastly different. Ahaz was an evil-doing king; Hezekiah was a right-doing king and indeed one of Judah's two greatest reformers. Perhaps the most important service that Zechariah would render to the realm was not his duties as high priest, but his contact with the young Hezekiah during the first nine or ten years of his life.
Zechariah would not live to see Hezekiah become king, and indeed would die without ever knowing whether his efforts to provide a moral compass for Hezekiah would ever be effective. His son and successor Urijah would prove one of the least worthy successors that any high priest ever had.
3249 AM754 BC
3249 AM–3262 AM741 BC
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