Has anyone wondered what happened to the child John the Baptist at the time King Herod put forth his decree to kill all the male children age two and under? For John was born about six months or so before Jesus to Elizabeth and Zacharias. How did he survive that evil time?
And did you ever wonder in Luke Chapter 11 when Jesus was giving the Pharisees a lashing with Woes unto them and held them responsible for all the blood shed from Able to Zacharias? Luke 11: 50 KJV “That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation; 51. From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias, which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.”
Did you ever wonder about who the Zacharias was that they were talking about? I sure did. The scripture didn’t clarify it, and generally when it doesn’t, it is something most all knew about at the time. Or a book explaining it was omitted for some decision or another. So as I had always wondered and it wasn’t in the footnotes of my study Bibles. I was supposed to just accept it was a prophet and be satisfied with that answer.
Instead, I kept it in the back of my mind as I kept searching for answers to all my little questions and decades later I eventually found an answer in the writings of James. Which is one of the writings the council of Nicaea or someone along the way didn’t deem orthodox, or felt didn’t need to be read. Yet, Jesus held the blood of this man Zecharias on the hands of the Pharisees and the entire generation of vipers. Oh, and depending on what Bible you are reading from, the name may be spelled as Zechariah. I’m using the King James Version and the forbidden book uses the same spelling Zacharias.
For those curious…please enjoy this most intriguing account of James on the departure of Jesus out of Bethlehem and John the Baptist out of Jerusalem. The part presented is verses 21 thru 24 and the author James, gives his oath that he wrote it at the end.
From the Protoevangelium of James
21. And, behold, Joseph was ready to go into Judea. And there was a great commotion in Bethlehem of Judea,
for Magi came, saying: Where is he that is born king of the Jews? For we have seen his star in the east, and have
come to worship him. And when Herod heard, he was much disturbed, and sent officers to the Magi. And he sent
for the priests, and examined them, saying: How is it written about the Christ? Where is He to be born? And they
said: In Bethlehem of Judea, for so it is written. And he sent them away. And he examined the Magi, saying to
them: What sign have you seen in reference to the king that has been born? And the Magi said: We have seen a
star of great size shining among these stars, and obscuring their light, so that the stars did not appear; and we
thus knew that a king has been born to Israel, and we have come to worship him. And Herod said: Go and seek
him; and if you find him, let me know, in order that I also may go and worship him.
And the Magi went out. And, behold, the star which they had seen in the east went before them until they came to the cave, and it stood over the top of the cave. And the Magi saw the infant with His mother Mary; and they brought forth from their bag gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by the angel not to go into Judea, they went into their own country by another road.
22. And when Herod knew that he had been mocked by the Magi, in a rage he sent murderers, saying to them:
Slay the children from two years old and under. And Mary, having heard that the children were being killed, was
afraid, and took the infant and swaddled Him, and put Him into an ox-stall.
And Elizabeth, having heard that they were searching for John, took him and went up into the hill-country, and kept looking where to conceal him. And there was no place of concealment. And Elizabeth, groaning with a loud voice, says: O mountain of God, receive mother and child. And immediately the mountain was cleft, and received her. And a light shone about them, for an angel of the Lord was with them, watching over them.
23. And Herod searched for John, and sent officers to Zacharias, saying: Where hast thou hid thy son?
And he,answering, said to them: I am the servant of God in holy things, and I sit constantly in the temple of the Lord: I
do not know where my son is. And the officers went away, and reported all these things to Herod. And Herod
was enraged, and said: His son is destined to be king over Israel. And he sent to him again, saying: Tell the
truth; where is thy son? for thou knowest that thy life is in my hand.
And Zacharias said: I am God’s martyr, if thou sheddest my blood; for the Lord will receive my spirit, because thou sheddest innocent blood at the vestibule of the temple of the Lord. And Zacharias was murdered about daybreak. And the sons of Israel did not know that he had been murdered.
24. But at the hour of the salutation the priests went away, and Zacharias did not come forth to meet them with
a blessing, according to his custom. And the priests stood waiting for Zacharias to salute him at the prayer, and
to glorify the Most High. And he still delaying, they were all afraid. But one of them ventured to go in, and he saw
clotted blood beside the altar; and he heard a voice saying: Zacharias has been murdered, and his blood shall not
be wiped up until his avenger come.
And hearing this saying, he was afraid, and went out and told it to the priests. And they ventured in, and saw what had happened; and the fretwork of the temple made a wailing noise, and they rent their clothes from the top even to the bottom. And they found not his body, but they found his blood turned into stone.
And they were afraid, and went out and reported to the people that Zacharias had been murdered. And all the tribes of the people heard, and mourned, and lamented for him three days and three nights. And after the three days, the priests consulted as to whom they should put in his place; and the lot fell upon Simeon. For it was he who had been warned by the Holy Spirit that he should not see death until he should see the Christ in the flesh.
And I James that wrote this history in Jerusalem, a commotion having arisen when Herod died, withdrew myself
to the wilderness until the commotion in Jerusalem ceased, glorifying the Lord God, who had given me the gift
and the wisdom to write this history. And grace shall be with them that fear our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be
glory to ages of ages. Amen
THOUGHTS ON FORBIDDEN WRITING
When we read all the different accounts to the events of that time, everyone has their own perspective, and their own manner of recalling the things they see or were foretold to them. I read these types of historic documents with that in mind. In my discernment of reading a lot of these forbidden writings. I find it as a story told from memories of those recalling. And I admit…if we were to have been presented a Bible with all of the different variations of accounts of the time of Jesus, we would be very confused. I do not take these writings as the Word Of God, but I do take them as a historic account of what happened based on the author who wrote it (which ever one I read) and how they perceived or recalled or documented the events. In these writings I find nuggets of answers and a pleasure to read what the person saw or accounted for.
From reading this particular piece, I believe that the anger from Jesus toward the Pharisees who allowed the King to do such murderous things without challenging the decree for their children is now more vivid for me in hearing the story with a deeper perception. For some of them were witness and part of the culling. He was very justified in what he said of all their woes. Remember this was a very political time and Herod wasn’t in line to be King (neither of the Herod Kings) and Caiaphas was not in line to be priest and Jesus had both the lineage to be king and High Priest in Jerusalem. In the book of McCabbees it tells us that Herod was appointed King by Caesar as favor to Mark Anthony. Josephus Flavius tells the whole account with many detail in his books of the Antiquities of the Jews.
I can also understand the anger and saddness Jesus felt in the entire state of affairs in Jerusalem. For they had a stolen kingship, a stolen High Priest, a fortress named after a Roman and everything about their fine array of architecture stunk to high heavens. Herod’s Antonia was now the Garrison for the Roman Guard and home to Pontius Pilot the new Roman Governor. The Temple mount was surrounded with Roman Armed Guard. I imagine he looked upon this new Fortess of Antonia with the same distain and saddness that patriots now feel when they look at the Capitol and all of Washington, D.C. And both have the blood of innocent children on their hands.
In the writings of the Jewish historian Josephus, he tells us that in return for being appointed King, Herod rebuilt the Temple with a grand fortress and temple wall, where the priests and temple guard stayed and named it Antonia Fortress after Mark Anthony. He also built a coliseum as grand as the one in Rome. Antonia’s Fortress was located south of a moat and on a rock 25 meters high. It was located exactly where the Dome of the Rock is today. The Temple would have been located 17 meters below the Al-Kas fountain.
Josephus Flavius born AD 37/38 died AD 100, was a Jewish priest, scholar, and historian who wrote valuable works on the Jewish revolt of AD 66–70 and on earlier Jewish history. He wrote the History of the Jewish War from AD 75 to 79 and The Antiquities of the Jews and other great writings.