Zechariah (priest)

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In the Bible, Zechariah (Ζαχαρίας in Greek, Zacharias in KJV, Zachary in the Douay-Rheims Bible; Arabic: زكرياZakariya or Zakkariya), was the husband of St. Elizabeth, the father of St. John the Baptist, and a relative by marriage of Jesus. In the Qur'an, Zechariah plays the same role as the father of John the Baptist and guardian of Mary and relative, through marriage, of prophet Jesus. But the Qur'an ranks Zechariah as a prophet alongside John and Jesus and his role as one of the men of God is frequently referenced in verses of the Qur'an.

Contents

Biblical account

According to the Gospel of Luke, Zechariah was a Jewish priest and Pharisee of the line of Abijah, during the reign of King Herod the Great, and husband of Elizabeth, a woman from the priestly family of Aaron. The parentage of John the Baptist is not recorded in the other Gospels. The evangelist states that both the parents were righteous before God, since they were blameless in observing the commandments and ordinances of the Lord. When the events related in Luke commenced, their marriage was still childless, because Elizabeth was barren and, like her husband, was advanced in years (Luke 1:5-7).

The duties at the temple in Jerusalem alternated between each of the families that had descended from those appointed by King David (1 Chronicles 23:1-19). The offering of incense was one of the most solemn parts of the daily worship and, owing to the large number of eligible priests, no priest could hope to perform the task more than once during his lifetime. Luke states that during the week when it was the duty of his family to serve at the temple in Jerusalem, the lot for performing the incense offering had fallen to Zechariah.

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