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 David (1 Chr. 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 (Luke 1:12-17). 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" (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 (60-79). The child (John the Baptist), thus
"born out of due time," "waxed strong in spirit" (1:80).

(2.) The "son of Barachias," mentioned as having been slain
between the temple and the altar (Matt. 23:35; Luke 11:51).
"Barachias" here may be another name for Jehoiada, as some
think. (See ZECHARIAH T0003892.)