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Dictionaries :: Zacchaeus

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Easton's Bible Dictionary


pure, a superintendant of customs; a chief tax-gather (publicanus) at Jericho (Luk 19:1-10). "The collection of customs at Jericho, which at this time produced and exported a considerable quantity of balsam, was undoubtedly an important post, and would account for Zacchaeus being a rich man." Being short of stature, he hastened on before the multitude who were thronging about Christ as he passed through Jericho on his way to Jerusalem, and climbed up a sycamore tree that he might be able to see him. When our Lord reached the spot he looked up to the publican among the branches, and addressing him by name, told him to make haste and come down, as he intended that day to abide at his house. This led to the remarkable interview recorded by the evangelist, and to the striking parable of the ten pounds (Luk 19:12-27). At Er-riha (Jericho) there is a large, venerable looking square tower, which goes by the traditional name of the House of Zacchaeus.

International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia


za-ke'-us (Zakchaios, from zakkay, "pure"):

(1) A publican with whom Jesus lodged during His stay in Jericho (Lu 19:1-10). He is not mentioned in the other Gospels. Being a chief publican, or overseer, among the tax-gatherers, Zaccheus had additional opportunity, by farming the taxes, of increasing that wealth for which his class was famous. Yet his mind was not entirely engrossed by material considerations, for he joined the throng which gathered to see Jesus on His entrance into the city. Of little stature, he was unable either to see over or to make his way through the press, and therefore scaled a sycamore tree. There he was singled out by Jesus, who said to him, "Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to-day I must abide at thy house" (Lu 19:5). The offer thus frankly made by Jesus was accepted eagerly and gladly by Zaccheus; and the murmurings of the crowd marred the happiness of neither. How completely the new birth was accomplished in Zaccheus is testified by his vow to give half of his goods to the poor, and to make fourfold restitution where he had wrongfully exacted. The incident reveals the Christian truth that just as the publican Zaccheus was regarded by the rest of the Jews as a sinner and renegade who was unworthy to be numbered among the sons of Abraham, and was yet chosen by our Lord to be His host, so the social outcast of modern life is still a son of God, within whose heart the spirit of Christ is longing to make its abode. "For the Son of man came to seek and to save that which was lost" (Lu 19:10).

(2) An officer of Judas Maccabeus (2 Macc 10:19).

(3) A Zaccheus is mentioned in the Clementine Homilies (iii.63) as having been a companion of Peter and appointed bishop of Caesarea.

(4) According to the Gospel of the Childhood, by Thomas, Zaccheus was also the name of the teacher of the boy Jesus.

Written by C. M. Kerr

Smith's Bible Dictionary


(pure) a tax‐collector near Jericho, who, being short in stature climbed up into a sycamore tree in order to obtain a sight of Jesus as he passed through that place (Luke 19:1-10). Zacchaeus was a Jew, as may be inferred from his name and from the fact that the Saviour speaks of him expressly as "a son of Abraham." The term which designates his office ‐ "the chief among the publicans" ‐is unusual, but describes him, no doubt, as the superintendent of customs or tribute in the district of Jericho, where he lived. The office must have been a lucrative one in such a region, and it is not strange that Zacchaeus is mentioned by the evangelists as a rich man. The Saviour spent the night probably in the house of Zacchaeus, and the next day pursued his journey. He was in the caravan from Galilee which was going to Jerusalem to keep the Passover.


The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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