Zachariah

(Jah has remembered)

2 Kings 15:8-12

Contemporary Prophet: Amos.

“Righteousness keepeth him that is upright in the way: but wickedness overthroweth the sinner.”—Proverbs 13:6

“In the thirty and eighth year of Azariah king of Judah did Zachariah the son of Jeroboam reign over Israel in Samaria six months.” There appears to be (from a comparison of dates) a period unaccounted for, of about eleven years, between Jeroboam’s death and the beginning of his son Zachariah’s reign. This is not surprising when we see what quickly followed his accession to the throne. “And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord, as his fathers had done: he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin. And Shallum the son of Jabesh conspired against him, and smote him before the people, and slew him, and reigned in his stead.”

Anarchy probably prevailed during the above-noted interregnum. Hosea, whose prophecy dates about this time (as regards Israel, see Hos. 1:1), seems to allude frequently to this season of lawlessness and revolution. See his prophecy, chaps. 7:7; 10:3, 7; 13:10—the last of these reads in the New Translation, “Where then is thy king?” etc. The people were probably unwilling to have Zachariah succeed his father to the throne. He appears to have been quite unpopular with the mass of the nation, for Shallum slew him without fear “before the people.” But God has said next to nothing as to this parenthetic period, and we dare not say more. To speculate here would be worse than folly, since God’s wisdom has chosen to give us no record of it; and where no useful end is gained, He always hides from the gaze of the curious the sins and errors of His people. Contemporary Scripture-dates, however, show that such an interval must have elapsed between the close of Jeroboam’s and the beginning of his son’s reign, though God has passed over the interregnum in silence.24

The assassination of Zachariah ended the dynasty of Jehu, five generations in all, and extending over a period of more than a hundred years. But at last God avenged “the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu” (Hos. 1:4). God’s eyes were upon “the sinful kingdom” (Amos 9:8), and its sinful kings; and from the time of Jeroboam’s death, declension set in, ending, less than seventy years later, in its final overthrow and dissolution. Prophetic ministry was from this time greatly increased. “Such is the way of our gracious God,” an unknown writer says, “that when judgment is near to approach, then testimony is multiplied.” How much it was needed in Israel the prophecies of Hosea and Amos abundantly testify.

“And the rest of the acts of Zachariah, behold, they are written in the book of the chronicles of the kings of Israel. This was the word of the Lord, which He spake unto Jehu, saying, Thy sons shall sit upon the throne of Israel unto the fourth generation. And so it came to pass.” And thus was it written by the prophet, “At daybreak shall the king of Israel utterly be cut off” (Hos. 10:15, N. Tr.).

Zachariah’s name— Jah has remembered—was strikingly significant. God did not forget the wholesale slaughter of men—many of them, perhaps, better than their executioner. Though a century had passed, Jah remembered, and made the inevitable “inquisition for blood,” upon the fifth and final member of the murderer’s succession.

24 “The English laws of to-day do not recognize the validity of Charles the First’s deposition and execution, nor that of any laws in Parliament or decisions delivered by judges between 1641 and 1660. That whole period of nineteen years is treated as a legal blank, and Charles the Second’s reign is counted in the statute-book from his father’s death—no reckoning being made of Oliver Cromwell’s sovereignty.”