Matthew 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood...

KJV Verse: 

Mat 23:35 That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.

Greek Verse: 

Literal Alternative: 

So on you might start, all the blood of virtue, draining out on the dirt, from the blood of Abel of virtue to the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias? Him you murdered between the temple and the altar.

Hidden Meaning: 

Christ is making a serious charge here, but clearly having fun with it as well. However, there is a question about what kind of fun he is having. People that get caught up in debates about the meaning here and about whether Christ made a mistake in citing the wrong Zecharia (sooo specifically) never consider the sense of play that Christ has in his teaching. That play here is obvious from the first line with a play the idea on blood pouring out and virtue being forgotten. All of this is, of course, lost in translation.

The word translated as "that" is one of those Greek words that introduce a new phrase that offers an explanation. It can be translated as a dependent clause, but if we start a new sentence with it, we get fewer run-on sentences. We would usually say "So..."

The word translated as "upon" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

The word translated as "may come" primarily means "to start out." It indicates movement, especially beginning of a move, without indicating a direction toward or away from anything, so it works either as "come" or "go," but it is more like our phrase "being underway." this is in a form that indicates something that might happen.

The word translated as "all" is from the Greek adjective meaning "all", "the whole", "every," and similar ideas. When it is used as a noun, we would say "everything." As an adverb, it means "in every way", "on every side," and "altogether."

The word translated as "the righteous" either be the adjective that means "observant of the rules", "virtuous" and "just." Christ often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below.

"Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood", "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship. It is modified by the "all" above.

The Greek word translated as "shed" means "to pour out," and "spill," but it is a metaphor for "to be forgotten" and to be "overcome with emotion." It is in the form that modifies "virtue," but not "blood," but it is a play on the word "blood," so the sense is "to be forgotten."

The word translated as "unto" means "against", "before", "by" or "on."

The word translated as "earth" means the physical planet, not society, which Christ describes as the world. See this article for more on these words. Like our word "earth" it also means "dirt."

The word translated as "from" means "from" referring to a location, a time, and a source. Here, it is a play on two meanings: the time and the source of the blood.

"Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood", "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

The word translated as "of righteous" means "observant of the rules", "virtuous" and "just." Christ often uses it as a noun, but usually in the plural, referring to a group of people. Here, it is singular and in the possessive, modifying "blood" below. He also uses it commonly to refers to his opponents who "appear" righteous. It is an adjective here, modifying "Abel."

Abel is the Hebrew name, not a Greek version, of the second son of Adam and Eve. The form is not a Greek word, but we can infer that it is possessive from the form of "righteous."

The word translated as "unto" means "until" but it also means "in order that." The clear meaning here is "until the time. "

"Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood", "bloodshed," and "kinship. Christ uses it commonly with the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

"Zacharias" is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zechariah. Unlike "Abel" it has a normal Greek word ending. There are three Zechariahs in the OT, 1) Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah."one of two witnesses to Isaiah's prophecy, 2) Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the minor prophet who wrote the book of the same name and Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, a priest who is slain in the book of Chronicles.

The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations.

"Of Barachias" is from the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Berechiah." Berachiah was the father of the prophet Zechariah. However, Berachiah, is a form of the name, Je-bereachiah, the father of the witness to Isaiah, a confusing and entertaining Biblical coincidence, which Christ seems to be poking fun at.

"Kill" is from the Greek word for "murder," and killing a way the stains the murder with blood.

The "between" the sense of "between" to parties to an agreement or discussion.

The word translated as "temple" means "temple", "the inner room of the temple," and "shrine." this is an uncommon word for Christ to use. It is different emotionally from our term "church" or even "cathedral" because there was only one temple, the one in Jerusalem.

The word for "altar" means "altar" but an altar wasn't a table in Christ's time. It was a grill with a fire under it for burning sacrifices.

NOTE: The A-Z (Abel to Zechariah) play on words is obvious but wrong, though perhaps a coincidence or prophecy. The English alphabet runs from A-Z, but Z is the fifth letter of the Greek alphabet.

Wordplay: 

The play on blood pouring out and virtue being drained out.

Abel to  Zachariah is a play on the fact that they are the first and last virtuous figures killed in the OT. The Jewish Old Testament ended with Chronicles 2. 

The Spoken Version: 

"So," he continued after the threat sank in and then indicating his accusers. "By you it started."

He made a gesture as if pouring from a large container, and said, "All the blood."

The crowd was silent, staring at Christ's accusers.

"Virtue," he continued, indicating the ground. "Draining, being forgotten, in the dirt.

"From the blood of good Abel," he went on. "Until the blood of Zachariah."

He then hesitated, as if trying to sort something out. The crowd sensed a lighter mood in his little smile.

"The son of, uh," he hesitated, as his sense of fun reemerged as he counted on three fingers. "Barachiah?"

He asked the crowd as if guessing. Some in the crowd and among his accusers chuckled at the reference to that fact there are three Zecahrais one each in the law, prophets, and writings.

"The one you killed," he said, with an amused nod, spreading his hands as if locating the man precisely. "Between the temple and the altar."

Though the accusation was serious, the delivery was so entertaining that crowd joined in the laughter.

Vocabulary: 

ὅπως "That" is from hopos, which is a conjunction that means "in such a manner as", "in order that", "in the manner in which", "how," [with negative] "there is no way that," and [in questions] "in what way."

ἔλθῃ (verb 3rd sg aor subj) "May come" is from erchomai, which means "to start," "to set out", "to come", "to go," and any kind of motion. It means both "to go" on a journey and "to arrive" at a place.

ἐφ᾽ "Upon" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

ὑμᾶς (pron 2nd pl acc) "You" is from humas which is the plural form of su the pronoun of the second person, "you." -- The "you" here is plural, indicating all Christ's listeners.

πᾶν (adj sg neut nom) "All" is from pas, which means "all", "the whole", "every", "anyone", "all kinds," and "anything." In the adverbial form, it means "every way", "on every side", "in every way," and "altogether."

αἱμα (noun sg neut nom) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood", "anything like blood," "spirit", "courage", "bloodshed", "murder", "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship."

δίκαιον (adj sg masc gen ) "The righteous" is from dikaios which means "observant of rules", "observant of customs", "well-ordered", "civilized," and "observant of duty." Later it means "well-balanced", "impartial," and "just." As a verb, it means to "set right", "hold or deem right", "claim or demand as a right", "pronounce judgment", "do a man right or justice", "chastise", "punish, and in passive, "have right done one."

ἐκχυννόμενον (part sg pres mp masc acc) "Shed" is from ekcheo, which means to "pour out", "pour away", " spill", "squander", "waste", "spread out", "throw down," and, as a metaphor, "to be cast away", "forgotten", "give oneself up to any emotion," and "to be overjoyed."

ἐπὶ "Upon" is from epi. which means "on", "upon", "at", "by", "before", "across," and "against."

τῆς γῆς (noun sg fem gen) "Earth" is from ge, which means "the element of earth", "land (country)", "arable land", "the ground," and "the world" as the opposite of the sky. Like our English word "earth," it means both dirt and the planet.

ἀπὸ "From" is from apo, a preposition of separation which means "from" or "away from" from when referring to place or motion, "from" or "after" when referring to time, "from" as an origin or cause.

τοῦ αἵματος (noun sg neut gen) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood", "anything like blood," "spirit", "courage", "bloodshed", "murder", "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship."

Ἅβελ "Abel" is from Abel, which is the Hebrew name for Adam's second son. It means "transitory" and is a metaphor for "vanity." As with most biblical names, it is not in the form of a Greek word.

τοῦ δικαίου (adj sg masc gen) "The righteous" is from dikaios which means "observant of rules", "observant of customs", "well-ordered", "civilized," and "observant of duty." Later it means "well-balanced", "impartial," and "just." As a verb, it means to "set right", "hold or deem right", "claim or demand as a right", "pronounce judgment", "do a man right or justice", "chastise", "punish, and in passive, "have right done one."

ἕως "Unto" is from heos which means "until", "till," and "in order that" and "up to the point that."

τοῦ αἵματος (noun sg neut gen) "The blood" is haima (haima), which means "blood," "streams of blood", "anything like blood," "spirit", "courage", "bloodshed", "murder", "blood relationship,"kin," and "kindship." -- "Blood" is from the Greek word that means "blood", "bloodshed," and "kinship." Clearly, it is used here because of the double meaning of bloodshed and kinship.

Ζαχαρίου (noun sg masc gen) "Zacharias" is from Zacharias, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name Zechariah.

υἱοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "Son" is from huios, which means a "son," and more generally, a "child." -- The word translated as "son" more generally means "child." It refers to all offspring in later generations, just like "father" refers to all previous generations. Christ also used it metaphorically to describe those that follow a way of thought or set of beliefs that descend from an individual. More about it in this article.

Βαραχίου, (noun sg masc gen) "Barachias" is from Barachias, which is the Greek form of the Hebrew name "Berechiah."

ὅν (pron sg masc acc) "Whom" is from hos, which means "this", "that", "he", "she", "which", "what", "who", "whosoever", "where", "for which reason," and many similar meanings.

ἐφονεύσατε (verb 2nd pl aor ind act) "Ye slew" is from phoneuō, which means "to kill", "to murder", "to be slain [passive], and "to stain with blood."

μεταξὺ (adv)"Between" is from metaxy, which means "in the midst" and therefore (of Place) "between," (of Time) "meanwhile," (of Qualities) "intermediate," and (of Degree) "the difference." As a preposition, it takes the genitive case and has the sense of "between" to parties to an agreement or discussion.

τοῦ ναοῦ (noun sg masc gen) "The temple" is from naos, which means "temple," "inmost part of a temple", "shrine," and "portable shrine carried in processions."

καὶ "And" is from kai, which is the conjunction joining phrases and clauses, "and," or "but." After words implying sameness, "as" (the same opinion as you). Used in series, joins positive with negative "Not only...but also." Also used to give emphasis, "even", "also," and "just."

τοῦ θυσιαστηρίου. "The altar" is from thysiastērion , which means "altar." It is a derivative of thysia, which means "sacrifice" or "victim."

Related Verses: 

Jul 5 2016