Note on the death of Zacharias, in Chap. 16.
There is a story both in the Jerusalem and Babylonish Talmud very similar to this. It is cited by Dr. Lightfoot, Talmud, Hierosol. in Taanith, fol. 69; and Talmud. Babyl. in Sanhedr., fol. 96. "Rabbi Jochanan said, Eighty thousand priests were slain for the blood of Zacharias. Rabbi Judas asked Rabbi Achan, Where did they kill Zacharias? Was it in the woman's court, or in the court of Israel? He answered, Neither in the court of Israel, nor in the court of women, but in the court of the priests; and they did not treat his blood in the same manner as they were wont to treat the blood of a ram or young goat. For of these it is written, He shall pour out his blood, and cover it with dust. But it is written here, The blood is in the midst of her: she set it upon the top of a rock; she poured it not upon the ground. (Ezek. xxiv. 7.) But why was this? That it might cause fury to come up to take vengeance: I have set his blood upon the top of a rock, that it should not be covered. They committed seven evils that day: they murdered a priest, a prophet, and a king; they shed the blood of the innocent: they polluted the court: that day was the Sabbath: and the day of expiation. When therefore Nebuzaradan came there (viz. to Jerusalem,) he saw his blood bubbling, and said to them, What meaneth this? They answered, It is the blood of calves, lambs, and rams, which we have offered upon the altar. He commanded then, that they should bring calves, and lambs, and rams, and said I will try whether this be their blood: accordingly they brought and slew them, but the blood of Zacharias still bubbled, but the blood of these did not bubble. Then he said, Declare to me the truth of this matter, or else I will comb your flesh with iron combs. Then said they to him, He was a priest, prophet, and judge, who prophesied to Israel all these calamities which we have suffered from you; but we arose against him, and slew him. Then, said he, I will appease him: then he took the rabbins and slew them upon his (viz. Zacharias's) blood, and he was not yet appeased. Next he took the young boys from the schools, and slew them upon his blood, and yet it bubbled. Then he brought the young priests and slew them in the-same place, and yet it still bubbled. So he slew at length ninety-four thousand persons upon his blood, and it did not as yet cease bubbling, then he drew near to it, and said, O Zacharias, Zacharias, thou halt occasioned the death of the chief of thy countrymen, shall I slay them all? then the blood ceased, and did bubble no more."
REFERENCES TO THE PROTEVANGELION.