Zechariah, a young man of priestly descent, was among the exiles who returned from Babylonian captivity to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. He is identified as the son of Berechiah, who was "the son of Iddo the Prophet." (Zech. 1:1.) Iddo was head of a priestly family who returned from exile (Neh. 12:4) when Zerubbabel went to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple.
Zechariah was a contemporary of Haggai. The first prophecy attributed to Zechariah was dated the eighth month of the second year of Darius Hystaspes or Darius I, or November of 520 B.C. His last recorded prophecy was during the ninth month of the fourth year of the king's reign, or December of 518 B.C. However, since Zechariah might have prophesied before and after these two dates, the exact length of his prophetic ministry remains unknown.One of Zechariah's main concerns was the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem. By the time Zechariah is mentioned in the scriptures, Haggai had already sounded the call for the completion of the temple in Jerusalem.
Zechariah and Haggai, while working toward the same goal, were very different. Haggai was practical and direct. There was little eloquence and no poetry about Haggai's delivery of his prophecy. He used "commonplace" language, stating plainly that the temple must be built or there would be no blessings for the people. Zechariah was also practical, but he spoke in language clothed in symbolism.
Zechariah lived during a time when the situation was very depressing in Jerusalem. The exiles had returned with high hopes and enthusiasm, but their gladness soon turned to sadness when they were faced with numerous challenges, among which were the failure of their crops and poverty that threatened to drive them from their homes. They also faced hostility at the hands of the Samaritans and the heathen nations that surrounded them.
Articles on this page may be used in conjunction with the Gospel Doctrine course of study.
Information compiled by Gerry Avant
Sources: Land and Leaders of Israel, by Ezra C. Dalby; The Voice of Israel's Prophets, by Sidney B. Sperry; Dictionary of the Bible, Charles Scribner's Sons Publishers.