From BiblePortal Wikipedia

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [1]

(See Zacchai .)  Luke 19:1-10. The Lord Jesus had received Bartimaeus' application on the day of His entry into Jericho. (See Bartimaeus ; JERICHO . Later in His progress, when He had passed through Jericho and had healed the blind, He met Zacchaeus, chief among the publicans or tax gatherers, i.e. superintendent of customs and tribute in the district of Jericho famed for its balsam, and so rich. The Lord had shortly before encountered the rich young ruler, so loveable, yet lacking one thing, the will to part with his earthly treasure and to take the heavenly as his portion. He had said then, "how hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God;" yet to show us that "the things impossible with men are possible with God" ( Luke 18:18-27), and that riches are not an insuperable barrier against entrance into heaven, the case of the rich yet saved Zacchaeus follows. Holding his commission from his Roman principal contractor to the state (publicanus, manceps) to collect the dues imposed by Rome on the Jews, Zacchaeus had subordinate publicans under him.

The palm groves of Jericho and its balsam gardens (now no longer existing) were so valuable that Antony gave them as a source of revenue to Cleopatra, and Herod the Great redeemed them for his benefit. Zacchaeus "sought to see Jesus who He was." Evidently, Zacchaeus had not seen Jesus in person before, but had heard of His teachings and miracles. So, his desire was not merely from curiosity; as in the case of the young ruler, desire for "eternal life" entered into his wish to see the Saviour, but unlike the rich young ruler he had no self-complacent thought, "all the commandments I have kept from my youth up"; sense of sin and need on the contrary were uppermost in his mind, as the sequel shows.

Zacchaeus could not see Jesus "for the press, because he was little of stature"; but where there is the will there is a way; he ran before (eagerness and determination,  Hebrews 12:1; but God's love ran first toward Zacchaeus, Luke 19;  Luke 15:20), and climbed up into a sycamore to see Jesus as He was to pass that way. Etiquette and social rank would suggest such an act was undignified, but faith outweighs every other consideration. Jesus, on reaching the spot, singled him out among all the crowd for His regard. He looked up and saw Zaachaeus, as His eye had rested on Nathanael under the fig tree ( John 1:48); "Zacchaeus (Zacchaeus could not but have joyfully wondered at being thus accosted by name, though a stranger before:  John 10:3;  Isaiah 43:1;  Revelation 2:17;  Revelation 3:12.), make haste, and come down, for today ( Hebrews 4:7;  Hebrews 3:13;  2 Corinthians 6:2) I must (for thy salvation, verse 9 ( Luke 19:9),  Luke 19:5) abide at thy house" ( John 14:23). Zaachaeus made haste ( Psalms 119:60; contrast Felix,  Acts 24:25, the Athenians, 17:32) and came down (so we must,  2 Corinthians 10:4-5) and received Him joyfully ( Revelation 3:20;  Acts 16:34).

What a contrast to his joy, humility, and faith was the murmuring of the self-righteous bystanders, "He is gone to be guest with a sinner," self invited, not merely as before eating with such by special invitation! ( Luke 15:2;  Luke 5:29-30) a further loving condescension. Zaachaeus "stood" with prompt and deliberate purpose, and said, "Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor (now that I know Thee as my all; not I have given, which would savour more of the self-righteous Pharisee,  Luke 18:11; heretofore Zaachaeus often had taken wrongfully rather than given charitably; now he resolves from this moment to be a new man,  2 Corinthians 5:17; contrast the ruler's disinclination to Christ's testing command, 'sell all that thou hast and give to the poor,'  Luke 18:22); and if I have taken anything (i.e. whatsoever I have taken, confessing now past takings) from any man by false accusation I (now) restore him fourfold," an ingenuous confession and voluntary restitution; so the law ( Exodus 22:1).

True faith always works by love, and brings forth fruits meet for repentance. Zaachaeus, as his name and Jesus' subsequent declaration imply, was an Israelite. Jesus said then in respect to him, directing His words to the bystanders, "this day is salvation (embodied in Jesus, whose name means Jehovah Saviour) come to this house, forasmuch as he also is a son of Abraham, both by birth and by faith ( Galatians 3:7;  Romans 4:11-12;  Romans 4:16). The very day of conversion may often be known ( Philippians 1:5;  Acts 2:41). The believer tries and often succeeds in bringing his household to Christ ( Acts 16:34;  Acts 10:2-33;  Acts 10:44;  Acts 10:48). "For the Son of man (sympathizing therefore with man, however fallen by sin) is come to seek (Zaachaeus sought Jesus,  Luke 19:3, only because Jesus first sought Zaachaeus) and to save that which was lost." The Lord stayed all night at the house of Zaachaeus, as the Greek implies: verses 5 and 7 ( Meinai ... Katalusai ) ( Luke 19:5;  Luke 19:7). A Zaachaeus lived at Jericho at this time, father of the celebrated Rabbi Jochanan ben Zachai.

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [2]

ZACCHAEUS ( Ζακχαῖος; Heb. וַכּי ‘pure’).—The graphic narrative of  Luke 19:1-10 tells us all that we know of Zacchaeus, and his name does not occur elsewhere in the NT. The importance of Jericho as a trade centre, the abundance and value of whose products called forth the enthusiastic approbation of Josephus ( BJ iv. viii. 2, 3), required the employment of a considerable number of tax-collectors, and these were under the general direction of Zacchaeus (cf. ἀρχιτελώνης,  Luke 19:2), who may, in point of fact, have been himself the fortunate leaseholder of the customs of that particular district. In other words, he may have purchased from the authorities the right to be as exacting as he pleased in his demands upon the people, provided he knew enough of the law to avoid the risk of exposure. There is no reason to believe that Zacchaeus was a notoriously bad representative of his class; but, on the other hand, having regard to that remorseful cry of his which seems to have been the product of an awakened conscience ( Luke 19:8), it does not appear that his methods were always strictly equitable. He was, so far as one may gather, a publicanus (see art. Publican) of more than average respectability, yet not above some of the questionable ways associated with his profession. To paint his character in lurid colours, as distinguished by unusual heartlessness and selfishness, is not in accordance with the impression conveyed by the narrative.

One is never quite safe in venturing upon a pronouncement with regard to motives—they are generally so curiously mixed; and possibly a variety of motives contributed to the impulse which brought Zaechaeus into contact with Jesus that day. But while it might be too much to say that higher motives were entirely absent, it is quite obvious that the part played by a naturally lively curiosity was not inconsiderable. In this connexion, the contrast between Matthew sitting at the receipt of custom and Zacchaeus leaving all thoughts of business behind and climbing a tree with eager speed, is sufficiently great to indicate a vital difference in character between the two men.

More interesting than the attitude of Zacchaeus towards Jesus is the attitude of Jesus towards him. If we look for an explanation of the wonderful transformation, implicated in the resolve in which Zacchaeus gave expression to his feelings, we find it, undoubtedly, in the delightful frankness of Christ’s first salutation, and in His courageous brushing aside of popular prejudice. In no other way could He have so completely gained, first, the attention, and then the heart of one whom society united in passing by. Nothing, surely, could be more remarkable than the delicate insight which led Jesus to choose Zacchaeus as His host. It was an irresistible touch, and, mingled with the other happy recollections of that day, it would abide in the mind of the publican as a peculiarly grateful memory.

Literature.—In addition to the various Comm., see A. B. Davidson, Called of God , 275; Matheson, Representative Men of the NT , 205; F. W. Robertson, Serm . i. v., ii. xvi.; Lynch, Serm, for my Curates , 71; A. Maclaren, Paul’s Prayers , etc. 88; Seeley, Ecce Homo , xx.; C. S. Horne, Rock of Ages , 281; artt. ‘Jericho’ and ‘Publican’ in Hasting's Dictionary of the Bible.

A. G. Campbell.

Smith's Bible Dictionary [3]

Zacchae'us. (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 .

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [4]

ZACCHÆUS (= Zaccai,   Ezra 2:9 ,   Nehemiah 7:14 , lit. ‘pure’). 1 . An officer put to death by Judas Maccabæus for treachery ( 2Ma 10:18-22 ). 2 . A ‘chief publican’ of Jericho who entertained our Lord (  Luke 19:1-10 ). He was a rich man, a Jew (  Luke 19:8 ), of a higher grade than St. Matthew, but, like all his class, hated by his countrymen. Being short of stature, he had climbed up into a ‘fig-mulberry’ tree to see Jesus; our Lord called him down and invited Himself to his house. On hearing the murmuring of the people at the distinction conferred on a publican, Zacchæus justifies himself. Jesus passes this by, but in effect replies to the murmurers: ‘If he is a sinner, I have come to save him.’

A. J. Maclean.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [5]

A chief of the tax-collectors, who, in his anxiety to see Jesus, climbed a tree; he was agreeably surprised to hear that Jesus wished to abide at his house. On being called a sinner, Zacchaeus said "The half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken anything from any man by false accusation, I restore fourfold," showing apparently that he had a tender conscience and a generous heart; but the Lord declared that He had brought salvation to the house; for though a tax-gatherer, he was a son of Abraham.  Luke 19:1-10 .

Easton's Bible Dictionary [6]

 Luke 19:1-10 Luke 19:12-27

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [7]

( Ζακχαῖος , for the Heb. Zaccai [q.v.]), the name of two Jews, mentioned the one in the Apocrypha, and the other in the New Test.

1. An officer of Judas Maccabaeus left with two others to besiege the citadel of Zion ( 2 Maccabees 10:19). Grotius, from a mistaken reference to 1 Macc. 5, 56, wishes to read Καὶ Τὸν Τοῦ Ζαχαρίου .

2. The name of 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 only has related the incident (19, 1-10). Zacchaeus was a Jew, as may be inferred from his name and from the fact that the Savior speaks of him expressly as "a son of Abraham" ( Υἱὸς Ἀβραάμ ) . So the latter expression should be understood, and not in a spiritual sense; for it was evidently meant to assert that he was one of the chosen race, notwithstanding the prejudice of some of his countrymen that his office under the Roman government made him an. alien and outcast from the privileges of the Israelite. The term which designates this office ( Ἀρχιτελώνης ) is unusual, but describes him, no doubt, as the superintendent of customs or tribute in the district of Jericho, where he lived, as one having a commission from his Roman principal (manceps, publicaous) to collect the imposts levied on the Jews by the Romans, and who in the execution of that trust employed subalterns (the ordinary Τελῶναι ) , who were accountable to Dim, as he in turn was accountable to his superior, whether he resided at Rome, as was more commonly the case, or in the province itself. (See Publican).

The office must have been a lucrative one in such a region, and it is not strange that Zacchaeus is mentioned by the evangelist as a rich man ( Ουτος Ην Πλούσιος ). Josephus states ( Ant. 15:4, 2) that the palm-groves of Jericho and its gardens of balsam were given as a source of revenue by Antony to Cleopatra, and, on account of their value, were afterwards redeemed by Herod the Great for his own benefit. The sycamore-tree is no longer found in that neighborhood (Robinson, Bibl. Res. 1, 559); but no one should be surprised at this, since "even the solitary relic of the palm-forest, seen as late as 1838" which existed near Jericho, has now disappeared (Stanley, Sinai and Pal. p 307). The eagerness of Zacchaeus to behold Jesus indicates a deeper interest than that of mere curiosity. He must have had some knowledge, by report at least, of the teachings of Christ, as well as of his wonder-working power, and could thus have been awakened to some just religious feeling, which would make him the more anxious to see the announcer of the good tidings, so important to men as sinners.

The readiness of Christ to take up his abode with him, and his declaration that "salvation" had that day come to the house of his entertainer, prove sufficiently that "He who knows what is in man" perceived in him a religious susceptibility which fitted him to be the recipient of spiritual blessings. Reflection upon his conduct on the part of Zacchaeus himself appears to have revealed to him deficiencies which disturbed his conscience, and he was ready, on being instructed more fully in regard to the way of life, to engage to "restore fourfold" for the illegal exactions of which he would not venture to deny ( Εἴ Τινός Τι Ἐσυκοφάντησα ) that he might have been guilty. At all events, he had not lived in such a manner as to overcome the prejudice which the Jews entertained against individuals of his class, and their censure fell on him as well as on Christ when they declared that the latter had not scorned to avail himself of the hospitality of "a man that was a sinner." The Savior spent the night probably ( Μεῖναι , ver. 5, and Καταλῦσαι ,  1 Maccabees 5:56, are the terms used) in the house of Zacchaeus, and the next day pursued his journey to Jerusalem. He was in the caravan from Galilee, which was going up thither to keep the Passover. The entire scene is well illustrated by Oosterzee (Lange, Bibelwerk, 3, 285).

We read in the Rabbinic writings also of a Zacchaeas who lived at Jericho at this same period, well known an his own account, and especially as the father of the celebrated rabbi Jochanan ben-Zachai (see Sepp, Leben Jesu, 3, 166). This person may have been related to the Zacchaeus named in the sacred narrative. The family of the Zacchaei was an ancient one, as well as very numerous. They are mentioned in the books of Ezra ( Ezra 2:9) and Nehemiah ( Nehemiah 7:14) as among those who returned from the Babylonian captivity under Zerubbabel, when their number amounted to seven hundred and sixty. For the modern traditions respecting Zacchaeus's house, see Robinson ( Bibl. Res. 2, 543). According to ecclesiastical tradition, Zacchaeus eventually became bishop of Caesarea in Palestine ( Const. Nat. Apost. 7:46; comp. Clement, Recogn. 3, 65 sq.). See Sturemberg, Zacchaeus Illustratus, in the Symbol. Duisb.; Kresse, De Sycamoro Zacchcei (Lips. 1694); Crossman, Hist. Of Zacchaeus (Lond. 1854); and the literature referred to by Darling, Cyclop. Bibliog. col. 1031, 1032. (See Jesus Christ).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia [8]

za - kē´us ( Ζακχαῖος , Zakchaı́os , from זכּי , zakkay , "pure"):

(1) A publican with whom Jesus lodged during His stay in Jericho ( Luke 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 sycomore 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" ( Luke 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" ( Luke 19:10 ).

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

(3) A Z accheus 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.