🔼The name Zaccheus: Summary
- Yah Remembers
- Yah Is Pure
- From (1) the verb זכר (zakar), to remember, and (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
- From (1) the verb זכך (zakak), to be pure, and (2) יה (yah), the shortened name of the Lord.
🔼The name Zaccheus in the Bible
Only the gospel of Luke tells the familiar story of Zaccheus (Luke 19:2, 19:5 and 19:8). Zaccheus was a tax-collector of Jericho, who wanted to see Jesus but was forced to resort to climbing up a sycamore tree due to his small stature. When Jesus passed beneath the tree and saw Zaccheus, he told him to come down and invited himself to Zaccheus' house.
The people who saw all this were disgruntled about Jesus associating with a man who collected the hated Roman taxes, but that was possibly because they benefitted from Zaccheus' operation (see our article on the word καταλυω, kataluo, mostly meaning to dismantle). These Roman taxes proved later to be one of the major catalysts in provoking the Great Jewish Revolt, which culminated in the destruction of the temple of YHWH in Jerusalem (see our article on the name Annas for a discussion on these taxes and their Jewish collectors).
Zaccheus, however, exclaimed that he would give half of his possessions to the poor, and any excess he might have extorted, he would pay back fourfold. Upon hearing this, Jesus declared the man and his house saved and him a son of Abraham (Luke 19:9).
🔼Etymology of the name Zaccheus
The name Zaccheus is most likely a Hellenized version of the Hebrew name Zaccai. Some scholars believe that the name Zaccai in turn is a compressed version of the fiercely popular name Zechariah, which consists of an expression of the verb זכר (zakar), meaning to remember (see our article on Zaccai for a closer look at this verb), and an abbreviation of the name YHWH.
But most scholars believe that the core of both these names comes from the verb זכך (zakak), meaning to be pure:
The verb זכך (zakak) means to be pure or clean. Adjective זך (zak) means pure or clean and the noun זכוכית (zekokit) is the word for glass.
The verb זכה (zaka) is obviously related to the previous and means to be clear.
If Zaccheus is the same as Zechariah, it means Yahweh Remembers, or Remembering YHWH (which might describe an academic pursuit of knowledge of the Lord; Theology, in short).
But it seems more plausible that Zaccheus means Pure Of The Lord or YHWH Is Pure, or even Pure Yahwism; Only The Lord.