The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleMatthew 23:35
That upon you may come all the righteous blood…
"the blood of all the righteous men", as the Syriac: Arabic, Persic,
and Ethiopic versions read; for there is no righteousness in blood,
nor any conveyed by it: all men are of one blood, and that is
tainted, they that are righteous, are not so naturally, nor by any
righteousness of their own, but by the righteousness of Christ: and
such were the persons here meant, whose blood being shed in the
cause of righteousness, God would revenge; and the punishment for
such a crime, and the vengeance of God for it, were to come upon the
nation of the Jews by this means, through their crucifying of
Christ, and killing, and persecuting his apostles; whereby they
would make it manifest, that they approved of, and consented to,
what others had done to all the righteous men, whose blood had been
shed upon the earth;
whether in Judea, or elsewhere; and continued
in the same wicked practices, or committed worse, and so justly
incurred the wrath of God to the uttermost; which would quickly come
upon them, when the measure of their fathers' sin were filled up by
them, from the beginning of time, to the present age: even
from the blood of righteous Abel:
who was the first person in the
world that was killed, and that for righteousness sake too, because
his works were righteous, his person being so; not by his works, but
through the righteousness and sacrifice of the Messiah, which were
to be brought in; in the faith of which he offered up his sacrifice,
whereby he obtained a testimony from God, that he was righteous,
having respect to his person in Christ, and so to his offering. This
epithet of "righteous" seems to be what was commonly given him by
the Jews: hence, with a peculiar emphasis, he is called, (qyduh lbh) ,
"Abel the righteous" F20; as he is also said to be (Mygrhnl var) , "the
head of them that killed" F21; he being the first man that was
slain; for which reason he is mentioned here by Christ; and also,
because his blood cried for vengeance, and still continued to do,
upon all such persons that should commit the like crime. It is an
observation frequently made by the Jews, on those words in (Genesis 4:10)
"the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me", that
``it is not said in the Hebrew text, the blood of thy
brother, but the bloods of thy brother; his blood, and the
blood of his seed F23; and that from hence may be learned,
that the blood of his children, and of his children's
children, and of all his offspring, to the end of all
generations, that should proceed from him, all stood and
cried before the Lord F24.''
The Jerusalem Targum paraphrases the words in this remarkable
``the price of the bloods of "the multitude of the
righteous", that shall spring from Abel thy brother.''
And Onkelos thus,
``the voice of the blood of the seed that shall rise from
unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between
the temple and the altar.
Learned men are very much divided about
this person, who he was. Some think our Lord speaks prophetically of
Zechariah, the son of Baruch; who, as Josephus says F25, was slain
in the middle of the temple, just before the siege of Jerusalem; and
who was, as he also relates, a rich man, of an illustrious family, a
hater of wickedness, and a friend to liberty: and because, as Abel
was the first man that was slain, and this man being killed in the
temple, at the close of the Jewish state; and because the words may
be rendered, "whom ye shall have slain", therefore he is thought to
be intended: but there are several things that do not agree with
him, besides its being a narration of a fact, as past, according to
the usual rendering of the word: for this Zacharias was the son of
Baruch, and not Barachias, which are two different names; he was
killed in the middle of the temple, not between the temple and the
altar; nor does he appear to be a man of such great character, as to
be distinguished in this manner; and besides, his death was what the
Jews did not consent to in general, and therefore could not be
charged with it; he was acquitted by the sanhedrim of the charge of
treachery laid against him, and was assassinated by two zealots.
Others have thought that Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist,
is meant, who is supposed to be murdered by the Jews very lately;
and it being a recent action, is mentioned by our Lord: the reason
of it is a tradition, which several ancient writers F26 speak of,
and is pretended to be this; that there was a place, in the temple
appropriated to virgins, and that Mary, the mother of our Lord,
after his birth, came and took her place here, as a virgin, when the
Jews, knowing her to have a child, objected to it; but Zechariah,
who was acquainted with the mystery of the incarnation, ordered her
to keep her place, upon which the Jews slew him upon the spot: but
this tradition is not to be depended on; nor does it appear that
there ever was any such particular place in the temple assigned to
virgins; nor that the father of this Zacharias was Barachias; or
that the son was slain by the Jews, and in this place. Others have
been of opinion, that Zechariah the prophet is designed; and indeed,
he is said to be the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, (Zechariah 1:1) and
the Jewish Targumist speaks of a Zechariah, the son of Iddo, as
slain by the Jews in the temple. His words are these F1;
``as ye slew Zechariah, the son of Iddo, the high priest,
and faithful prophet, in the house of the sanctuary of the
Lord, on the day of atonement; because he reproved you,
that ye might not do that evil which is before the Lord.''
And him the Jews make to be the same with Zechariah the son of
Jeberechiah, in (Isaiah 8:2) and read Berechiah F2: but the Targumist
seems to confound Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada, with him; for the
prophet Zechariah was not an high priest, Joshua was high priest in
his time; nor does it appear from any writings, that he was killed
by the Jews; nor is it probable that they would be guilty of such a
crime, just upon their return from captivity; and besides, he could
not be slain in such a place, because the temple, and altar, were
not yet built: it remains, that it must be Zechariah, the son of
Jehoiada the priest, who was slain in the court of the house of the
Lord, (2 Chronicles 24:20-22) who, as Abel was the first, he is the last
of the righteous men whose death is related in the Scriptures, and
for whose blood vengeance was required, as for Abel's. He was slain
in the court of the house of the Lord; and so the Ethiopic version
here renders it, in the midst of the holy house. It is often said by
the Jewish writer F3, that
``R. Joden (sometimes it is R. Jonathan) asked R. Acha,
whether they slew Zechariah, in the court of the
Israelites, or in the court of the women? he answered him,
neither in the court of the Israelites, nor in the court
of the women, but in the court of the priests.''
And elsewhere they say F4, that they
``slew a priest and a prophet in the sanctuary; this is
Zechariah the son of Jehoiada.''
Now it should be observed, that the temple, or sanctuary, is
sometimes put for the whole sacred building, with all its courts and
appurtenances; and sometimes, as in this text, for that part of it
that was covered, between which, and the altar of burnt offerings,
in the court of the priests, which must he here meant, and not the
altar of incense, in the most holy place, was a space of twenty two
cubits F5, frequently called, in Jewish writings, the space between
the porch and the altar; that is, the porch which led into the
temple, and the brazen altar in the court of the priests, which was
open to the air, and is the very spot here intended. Now this was a
very sacred place, and is mentioned as an aggravation of the sin of
the Jews, that they should enter where none but priests might; nor
these neither that had any defect in them; and defile it also by
shedding innocent blood.
``The court of the Israelites is holier than the court of
the women; because those that wanted atonement might not
enter there; and a defiled person that entered there, was
obliged to be cut off: the court of the priests was holier
than that, because the Israelites might not enter there,
but in the time of their necessities, for laying on of
hands for atonement, for killing and waving: the place
between the porch and the altar was holier than that; for
such that had any blemishes, or were bareheaded, or had
their garments rent, might not enter F6.''
Hence they say F7, that
``the Israelites committed seven transgressions on that day:
they slew a priest, and a prophet, and a judge; and they
shed innocent blood, and they blasphemed God, and defiled
the court, and it was a sabbath day, and the day of
The chief objections to its being this Zechariah are, that the names
do agree; the one being the son of Jehoiada, the other the son of
Barachias; and the killing of him was eight hundred years before
this time; when it might have been thought our Lord would have
instanced in a later action: and this he speaks of, he ascribes to
the men of that generation: to which may be replied, that as to the
difference of names, the father of this Zechariah might have two
names, which is no unusual thing; besides, these two names signify
much the same thing; Jehoiada signifies praise the Lord, and
Barachias bless the Lord; just as Eliakim and Jehoiakim, are names of
the same person, and signify the same thing, (2 Chronicles 36:4) . Moreover,
Jerom tells us, that in the Hebrew copy of this Gospel used by the
Nazarenes, he found the name Jehoiada instead of Barachias: and as
to the action being done so long ago, what has been suggested
already may be an answer to it, that it was the last on record in
the writings of the Old Testament; and that his blood, as Abel's, is
said to require vengeance: and Christ might the rather pitch upon
this action, because it was committed on a very great and worthy
man, and in the holy place, and by the body of the people, at the
command of their king, and with their full approbation, and consent:
and therefore, though this was not done by the individual persons in
being in Christ's time, yet by the same people; and so they are said
to slay him, and his blood is required of them: and their horrible
destruction was a punishment for that load of national guilt, which
had been for many hundreds of years contracting, and heaping upon
F20 Tzeror Hammor, fol. 8. 2.
F21 Juchasin, fol. 5. 2.
F23 Bereshit Rabba, sect. 22. fol. 20. 1. Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect.
5. Moses Kotsensis Mitzvot Tora pr. affirm. 98.
F24 Abot. R. Nathan, c. 31.
F25 De Bello Jud. l. 5. c. 1.
F26 Origen. in Matth. T. 3. Homil. 26. fol. 44. Greg. Nyssen. in diem
nat. Christ. Vol. 2. p. 777. Basil. de human. gen. Christ. &
Theophylact. in loc.
F1 Targum in Lam. ii. 20.
F2 T. Bab. Maccot, fol. 24. 2.
F3 T. Hieros. Tannioth, fol. 69. 1. Praefat. ad Echa Rabbati, fol. 36.
4. & Echa Rabbati, fol. 52. 4. & 58. 3. Midrash Kohelet, fol. 68. 3.
F4 Echa Rabbati, fol. 55. 1.
F5 Misn. Middot, c. 3. sect. 6.
F6 Maimon. Beth. Habbechira, c. 7. sect. 18, 19, 20. Bemidbar Rabba,
sect. 7. fol. 188. 4.
F7 T. Hieros. Taanioth, fol. 69. 1. Echa Rabbati, fol. 53. 1. & 58. 3.
Midrash Kobelet, fol. 68. 4.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Matthew 23:35". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=mt&chapter=023&verse=035>. 1999.