Zacharias (father of John)

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The Archangel Gabriel appears to Zacharias (France, 15th century)

The priest Zacharias is a New Testament person . According to the Gospel of Luke , he lived in the time of King Herod , was married to Elizabeth and is the father of John the Baptist .


The personal name Zacharias ( ancient Greek Ζαχαρίας ) is the Greek form of the Hebrew name זְכַרְיָה zəkharjāh . It is a verb sentence name, consisting of subject (and at the same time theophoric element ) and predicate. The predicate is derived from the verb rootזכר zkhr , German 'to remember' from, the subjectיָה jāh is a short form of the name of God YHWH . The name can thus be translated as "YHWH remembered".

Biblical narration

In the biblical story , the birth of John the Baptist is announced to his old father Zacharias by the Archangel Gabriel during his priestly service in the temple in Jerusalem ( Lk 1.5–25  EU ). The priestly service duties in the Temple of Jerusalem changed annually between 24 family lines established by King David ( 1 Chr 24,1-19  EU ). That week the lot for entry to the most holy place of the temple fell on Zacharias.

While Zacharias is alone in the temple and is making the smoke offering in front of the altar , an angel of God appears to him . He announced that his wife would give birth to a son, who would be named John. He quotes the announcement of the prophet Malachi in the last book of the Greek Bible, with which the Septuagint ends ( Mal 3, 22–24  EU ).

Zacharias objects that his wife is sterile and also too old. He asks for an affirmative sign. In response, the angel introduces himself as Gabriel, whom God sent to make this announcement. Zacharias will remain silent and “cannot speak until all of this has happened”. When Zacharias goes out to the waiting worshipers in the temple courtyard, he cannot give the usual blessing.

In the birth story ( Lk 1.57–66  EU ) the angel's promise is fulfilled. Zacharias can only speak again after confirming the name his wife suggested when his son was circumcised . Without knowing of the angel's promise, she had wanted to call him "John" too. Then Zacharias speaks a hymn of praise, which is also called Benedictus after its Latin incipit ( Lk 67-79  EU ). The temporary silence of Zacharias is also thematized in the medieval John Hymn by Paulus Diaconus .

In the apocrypha

In the historically very influential apocryphal protoevangelium of James it is said that a (fictional) high priest Zacharias initiated the marriage between Mary (mother of Jesus) and Joseph at an oracle in the Jerusalem temple by calling the latter among the widowers of Judea as a husband for those under Zacharias' Selected the Virgin Mary raised in the temple. The high priest Zacharias is equated in this story with the father of the Baptist from the Gospel of Luke. In an appendix, the death of Zacharias is described as a martyr : King Herod has him killed in the anteroom of the temple. The Proto-Gospel identifies the figure of Zacharias from the Gospel of Luke with that of another priest named Zacharias (the son of Barachias) mentioned in the canonical gospels, who was murdered between the temple and the altar ( Mt 23.35  EU ; Lk 11.51  EU ) .

In the Koran

Also in the Koran is Zakariya (زكريا) as a prophet of God called. According to Muslim tradition, his wife, the mother of Yaḥyā (يَحْيَى) (John the Baptist), is called Ashā . Ashā is the sister of Hanna , the mother of Maryam (Maria), who in turn is the mother of the prophet ʿĪsā (Jesus) and is the only woman mentioned by name in the Koran. Motifs from the Proto-Gospel of James, possibly mediated by the Arabic childhood gospel , can be recognized in Muslim tradition and in the Koran.


The day of remembrance for Zacharias in the Catholic Church is the 23. September , in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America , the Lutheran Missouri Synod and the Orthodox , Armenian and Coptic Church of 5. September and in the Syrian Orthodox Church , the first of there six Advent Sundays .

A head reliquary of Zacharias is shown on a side altar in Stams Abbey .

See also


Web links

Commons : Saint Zachary  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Hans Rechenmacher : Old Hebrew personal names , Münster 2012, p. 137.