“On the twenty-fourth day
Of the eleventh month,
The month of Shebat,
In the second year
Of King Darius,
The word of Yahweh
Came to the prophet Zechariah,
The son of Berechiah,
The son of Iddo.”
This apparently is the first of 8 visions that Zechariah had. This oracle of Yahweh took place on the 24th day of the 11th month in the 2nd year of King Darius, either late 520 BCE or early 519 BCE. This month was called Shebat. Once again, there is a mention of Zechariah’s lineage, via Berechiah and Iddo, with Iddo the most well-known.
“Moreover, certain chiefs of the Ephraimites, Azariah son of Johanan, Berechiah son of Meshillemoth, Jehizkiah son of Shallum, and Amasa son of Hadlai, stood up against those who were coming from the war. The chiefs said to them. ‘You shall not bring the captives in here. You propose to bring on us guilt against Yahweh in addition to our present sins and guilt. For our guilt is already great. There is a fierce wrath against Israel.’ So the warriors left the captives and the booty before the officials and all the assembly. Then those mentioned by name got up and took the captives. With the booty they clothed all that were naked among them. They clothed them. They gave them sandals. They provided them with food and drink. They anointed them. They carried all the feeble among them on donkeys. They brought them to their kindred at Jericho, the city of palm trees. Then they returned to Samaria.”
The men of Ephraim play a strange role. They were willing to fight with Judah, but then King Amaziah refused to let them fight with him because of a prophetic interdiction in chapter 25. There they were mad but somehow seemed closer to Judah than the other northern tribes. Here the 4 Ephraimite leaders, Azariah, Berechiah, Jehizkiah, and Amasa, were kind to the captives. They treated them like humans. They clothed them, gave them food and drink, and let the weak ride on donkeys. They gave them their stolen goods back. Finally they brought them to Jericho, which was in the Benjamin area before returning to Samaria. They were the original good Samaritans.
“Some of the Levites returning were Shemaiah son of Hasshub, son of Azrikam, son of Hashabiah, of the sons of Merari. Bakbakkar, Heresh, Galal, and Mattaniah son of Mica, son of Zichri, son of Asaph also returned. Obadiah the son of Shemaiah, son of Galal, son of Jeduthun, and Berechiah son of Asa, son of Elkanah, who had lived in the villages of the Netophathites, also returned to Jerusalem.”
The Levites seem to be different from the priests. However, there is no listing as to how many returned. The first group was from the clan of Merari, the son of Levi. Shemaiah was a prominent name among Levities, with over 25 people with that name. In fact there are 2 people with that name in this paragraph, just as there are 2 people with the name of Galal mentioned here. Hasshub was a Levite chief. It is not clear whether this Levite is also the son of Azel or not, probably not. There are 8 Levite Merarites with this name of Hashabiah. Some may be the same. There also was a group of Levites descended from Asaph, the music conductor at the time of King David. Bakbakkar and Heresh are only mentioned here. It is hard to tell if they are the same or not. Mattaniah was also a descendent of Asaph who became a Levite cantor leader of the temple choir after its restoration. There were 2 other people with the name of Mica. There were 3 Benjaminites with the name of Zichri. There were 12 people with the name of Obadiah, with the most famous the prophet and book Obadiah. Jeduthun was a Levite director of music at the temple. There were 7 people with the name of Berechiah. There was one another more famous Asa that was the King of Judah (911-870 BCE). There were 8 other people with the name of Elkanah, mostly Levites. The villages of Netophathites refer to small towns northeast of Bethlehem.
“The brother of Heman, Asaph, stood on his right hand, that is Asaph, son of Berechiah, son of Shimea, son of Michael, son of Baaseiah, son of Malchijah, son of Ethni, son of Zerah, son of Adaiah, son of Ethan, son of Zimmah, son of Shimei, son of Jahath, son of Gershom, son of Levi.”
Here we have a truncated reverse genealogy that goes back 15 generations to (1) Levi, but via (2) Gershom, not Kohath, even though Asaph was called a brother of Heman. There are 2 other people with the name of (15) Asaph. Some Psalms (73-83) are attributed to this Asaph as well as a group of singers who called themselves the sons of Asaph later in this book. Here we may be close to the genealogy of Gershom earlier in this chapter that mentioned Levi, Gershom, Libni, (3) Jahath, (4) Shimei and (5) Zimmah. (6) Ethan is the name of 3 people in the biblical literature including another singer from Merari. There were 8 people with the name of (7) Adaiah. (8) Zerah was the same name as Perez’s twin brother, the son of Judah. In fact there were 4 other biblical persons with the name of Zerah. (11) Baaseiah and (9) Ethni only appear here, but there were 13 biblical different people with the name of (10) Malchijah, a popular name. There are 11 people named (12) Michael, including an archangel. There were 4 people with the name of (13) Shimea in the biblical literature, including someone in the family of Merari. There were 7 different people with the name of (14) Berechiah in the biblical literature.