In Zechariah 12:10-14, why do the men and women mourn separately?:

ESV Zechariah 12:10-14 “And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and pleas for mercy, so that, when they look on me, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadad-rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12 The land shall mourn, each family[a] by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; 13 the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the Shimeites by itself, and their wives by themselves; 14 and all the families that are left, each by itself, and their wives by themselves.

  • 1
    Related? But certainly not duplicate: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/a/13706/6192
    – Joshua
    Jul 18, 2016 at 17:12
  • Why do the men and women mourn separately ? - Pretty much for the same reason for which they do almost anything else separately. Until this day, in traditional Abrahamic religions, men and women are separated during worship, for instance.
    – Lucian
    Sep 19, 2018 at 19:25

1 Answer 1


In Hebrew, a fulfilled prophecy requires fulfillment through a pattern. To the Western (Greek) mind, which looks simply at prophecy and fulfillment, any fulfillment is acceptable. In Hebrew, failure to follow the pattern is essentially an unfulfilled prophecy.

That Jesus' death by crucifixion fulfilled the prophecy and the pattern described in Zechariah is one of the central aspects to fulfillment of that Scripture as God's plan of redemption of all creation1:

But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you may believe. For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, “Not one of His bones shall be broken.” And again another Scripture says, “They shall look on Him whom they pierced.” (John 19:34-37)

The fulfillment of Zechariah is a key Old Testament prophecy to how God would bring about redemption and ultimately recreation.

The crucifixion of Jesus took place during the time of Passover which is an annual reminder of what occurred in Egypt:

And they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses where they eat it. (Exodus 12:7)

Individual families mourning separately are a key component in Zechariah 12:12-14. This follows the pattern of The First Passover where each family entered their house and ate.

Zechariah adds the element of men and women being separated. This is not how The First Passover was observed. It is possible that customs may have changed so that men and women ate separately during the time of the crucifixion. However, the New Testament is clear that Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover meal before His crucifixion.2 So while the time of Passover and separation by family is central to the understanding Zechariah, the Passover meal is not part of this pattern.

After the crucifixion, the New Testament states the men disciples went to their own homes separate from Mary, which shows that at least some of the women disciples were staying in separate houses:

Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead. Then the disciples went away again to their own homes. (John 20:8-10)

Zechariah’s prophecy ends describing events which followed the crucifixion: this is the essence of the prophecy. The disciples went to their own homes and mourned. The House of David would be His family members. They had traveled from Galilee to Jerusalem and would have temporary living arrangements, men with men and women with women.

His mother, who was not of the House of David, did not stay with His brothers or sister(s):

Now there stood by the cross of Jesus His mother, and His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus therefore saw His mother, and the disciple whom He loved standing by, He said to His mother, “Woman, behold your son!” Then He said to the disciple, “Behold your mother!” And from that hour that disciple took her to his own home. (John 19:25-27)

Thus one of His final acts on the cross was to ensure His mother stayed in a different house so that Zechariah would be accurately fulfilled. In doing so He indicates He was aware of the significance of Zechariah and thinking clearly at that time.

The period of mourning which extended to and past the resurrection fell during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Thus in terms of the Passover in Egypt the pattern is that of removing leaven. This points to the separation of men and women in Zechariah and the Gospel, both during the mourning and the discovery of the Resurrection separaetly by women then men.

1. All Scripture from New King James Version

2. There may be dispute as to whether a Passover Meal is observed or the exact date relative to the Passover, but there is no question the meal was before His death.

  • You have any research notes on how Passover was observed in 1st Century...women/women men/men or otherwise? Jul 18, 2016 at 22:04
  • 1
    So this understanding requires that 1) this passage of Zechariah was completely fulfilled in Christ's first coming, 2) we connect Zechariah 12 to the Passover 3) being taken into a different home than you were before is the same as mourning by yourself. 4) that Mary and one or two others represent All the wives of the house of David, the house of Nathan, the house Shimei, and the wives of all the other families that are left. No? I'm really trying to see it but this all seems a bit contrived. Did anyone ever connect Zechariah 12 to Passover before Christ?
    – Joshua
    Jul 18, 2016 at 22:11
  • @Joshua I do not mean that Zechariah was completely fulfilled by the crucifixion and resurrection. I am just answering the perspective of the text within the question: why the separate households and why men and women are separate. Obviously there is a future (as yet unfulfilled) aspect corresponding to His Return. As far as the Passover reference, I am just reading the text. Since the crucifixion occurred at the time of Passover and Unleavened Bread and John says Zechariah was fulfilled, it seems reasonable to see Zechariah in that light and it seems to apply. Jul 18, 2016 at 22:22
  • @wilberteric No. My knowledge is from either Jewish sources or present day Messianic Jewish Christians. If you know of a good source I'd like to get it. One of the challenges is the movement of The Church away from observing the Passover and so what has been preserved by traditions are only the Jewish observances. Jul 18, 2016 at 22:28

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.