What’s in the name “John”? eh, Gabe?

Why did the angel Gabriel want Zechariah to name his son “John”?

Luke 1:13 “But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 

The name “John” (means Yahweh has shown favor [J. Fitzmyer, Yale Anchor, Luke vol. 1 3325] ).  John was a  “leader of the Hasmonean Dynasty of Judea from 161 to 143 BCE.”

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Could his name have been chosen for Maccabean associations?

Jonathan Apphus was the youngest of the five sons of Mattathias. His father was a Kohen credited as the founding figure of the rebellion of the Maccabees against Antiochus IV Epiphanes of the Seleucid Empire. However Mattathias died in 167 BCE while the rebellion was only beginning.

There are some intriguing parallels between John the Maccabean hero and John the baptist that Luke may have found compelling.  John the Maccabean, one of original sons of Matthias, at the outset, was content to serve under his younger brother Judas.  After Judas’ death, John took over, beginning his exploits in a desert region near the Jordan River.  John eventually became a successful military leader and shrewd politician, attaining the status of High Priest, until he died by capture and execution.  His brother Simon Maccabaeus succeeded him. Simon “became the first prince of the Hebrew Hasmonean Dynasty.”  Simon reigned from 142 to 135 BC.

(source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Maccabaeus).

Names of Maccabean leaders among Apostles: Matthew, Judas, Simon, John.

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