This grand monument is built into the rock on the foothills of Mount of Olives. According to tradition it is the tomb of the Zechariah son of Jehoiada the priest.
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The Tomb of Zechariah is a grand monument in the upper Kidron valley (Yehoshafat valley), on the foothills of Mount of Olives, and facing the temple mount. It is cut into the rock and made entirely from that rock.
2 Chronicles 24: 20: “And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest… and they conspired against him and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king”
The tomb is built on the lower western foothills of Mount of Olives, facing the old city of Jerusalem, on the eastern side of Kidron valley. This entire area is a large cemetery with thousands of tombs. It is located south to the tomb of Absalom, and adjacent to the Bnei-Hezir tombs cluster.
History of the place:
According to tradition, this tomb is named after Zecharia the prophet. Who was Zecharia?
Zechariah, son of Jehodia the priest
Zechariah was the son of Jehoiada the priest, who lived in the 9th C BC during the period of the first temple. He was a priest and a prophet who delivered God’s message against the deviation from the Lord’s commandments. The Bible tells us (2 Chronicles 24) that he was killed, stoned to death, in the temple by the orders of King Yoash (King of Judah, son of Ahaziah).
There is no certainty, nor documentation, that certifies that this monumental tomb is indeed the tomb of Zechariah son of Jehoiadia. The Jewish tradition of the name of the tomb is from the middle ages; it is first described in 1215 AD by Menachem Hachevroni (according to Z. Vilani).
Tombs of Zachariah (right) and Bnei-Hezir (left) – photo by P. Bergheim, P. 1860-1880 – Photos of the Library of Congress
The tomb was a site of Jewish prayers, especially in 9th of the month of Av – the day of the destruction of the temple. There were some documented stories that told of prayers for rain on dry winters (such as in years 1651 and 1690) which succeeded and stopped the drought.
Prophet Zechariah (son of Berechiah)
There is another prophet Zechariah who lived 300 years later – a prophet in Judea in the second temple period (6th C BC), the son of Berechiah. According to the Biblical dating his prophets were from 520-518BC at the time Darius, as described in the book of Zechariah. This book was written by the prophet, although the second part of the book (Chapters 9-14) may have been compiled earlier.
The place of the prophet’s tomb is not known and is not linked to this site. According to tradition, he is buried on Mount of Olives, in the nearby cluster called the tombs of the Prophets.
The entire tomb is cut into the natural rock and is indeed a remarkable memorial. It is composed of a base with external stairs, a middle part in the shape of a cube with half columns, and a rectangular pyramid top.
On the bottom of the front of the tomb is a hole, and stairs lead to an inner chamber. This hole was revealed by the Jordanians while clearing the area.
(a) Day photos:
A view of the area of the tomb, in the bottom of the large Jewish cemetery on the lower foothills of Mount of Olives. On the right side is the Tomb of Zechariah, and to its left is the cluster of tombs known as the tombs of Bnei-Hezir. There are also side steps that lead from the tomb into Bnei-Hezir tomb.
On the bottom of the tombs is the Kidron valley.
Click on the photos to view in higher resolution…
This is a close up of the tomb.
(b) Night photos:
In June 2010, as part of the Jerusalem Light Festival, the tomb was illuminated with special effects. The following photos are some of the amazing views of the tomb of Zechariah.
- With Mt Olives in the background:
- With the cemetery of Mt Olives bathed in a golden light:
- And with a spooky light:
(a) 2 Chronicles 24: 20-21 :
Zechariah son of Jehodiada the priest was stoned to death in the temple during the Judean kingdom of Joash (Yoash), in the 9th C BC. According to Jewish tradition, the grand tomb is where he was buried.
“And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you. And they conspired against him, and stoned him with stones at the commandment of the king in the court of the house of the LORD. Thus Joash the king remembered not the kindness which Jehoiada his father had done to him, but slew his son. And when he died, he said, The LORD look upon it, and require it.”
(b) Zechariah 1: 1-2 :
The prophet Zecharia, son of Berechiah, lived 300 years later during the 2nd temple, and is not associated with this tomb. This is the preface of the book of the prophet Zechariah:
“In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying, The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers”.
We thank Mike Stevens for clarifying the issue of the identity of Zechariah.
Etymology (behind the name):
Har Hazeitim – In Hebrew: Har (Mount) Ha (the) Zeitim (Olives)
Zechariah – In Hebrew: God will remember him. (Zechar – remember; Iah – God).
Berechiah – the father of the prophet Zachariah. The name means “Blessed by God”. A short of YeverechYahu (Yeverech means blessed by; Yahu = God).
Jehoiada – the priest, father of Zecharia. The name means “knows God” (Jeho/Yeho – God, Yada – know).
Ahazia – father of King Yoash. The name means “Held on God” (Ia is God, Achaz is holds-on).
Iddo – grandfather of Zechariah. May have been derived from Hebrew: Ye-oded-dehu (“God will encourage him”).
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This page was last updated on Dec 26, 2020 (Add LOC photos)