Zechariah was the king of Israel.Zechariah’s reign marked the beginning of the end for the northern kingdom of Israel—the final, tumultuous thirty years before the Assyrian Empire finally sacked Samaria. He was the exclamation point on the last period of relative calm ever seen in the northern kingdom. Before Zechariah, Israel’s monarchy had enjoyed four peaceful successions.
Zechariah inherited the throne from his father, Jeroboam II, who inherited it from Zechariah’s grandfather, Jehoash, who inherited it from Zechariah’s great-grandfather, Jehoahaz, who inherited the throne from Zechariah’s great-great-grandfather, Joash.
After Zechariah, only one of Israel’s remaining kings successfully transferred power to his son. Only one died under peaceful conditions.
Four, including Zechariah, were assassinated by their successors. One was carried off into exile in 722 BC, when the Assyrians descended on the land as instruments of God’s judgment.
The four kings that preceded Zechariah averaged over thirty years apiece on the throne. His father, Jeroboam II, reigned for more than four decades. Together, Zechariah and the kings who followed him averaged less than seven years each. Zechariah himself only managed six months on the throne—a rather embarrassing performance, compared to the standard set by the rest of his family.
Like his royal predecessors, Zechariah did evil in God’s sight—he perpetuated the sins of his fathers, worshipping false gods. By this time, though, God had had enough. The endgame had begun. Zechariah was assassinated in front of his own people. Instead of his son, Zechariah’s assassin, Shallum, succeeded him as king.
If Zechariah had paid more attention to God, perhaps the end would not have come as much of a shock. Years before, God had promised Zechariah’s great-great-grandfather, Joash, that his dynasty would last for four generations—God’s reward to Joash (the closest thing Israel ever had to a good king) for purging the northern kingdom of Ahab’s family and their idolatry.
With the ascent of Zechariah, God’s promise had been fulfilled—and with his death, the monarchy descended into chaos.