Elisabeth, Greek Elisabeth from Hebrew Elisheba God her with, was wife of the priest Zacharias and mother of John the Baptist. She was a descendant of Aaron. Luke when describing she and her husband wrote: «They were both righteous before God, walking in all the commandments and ordinances of the Lord blameless (Luke 1:5, 6).

They were well advanced in years and still childless when an angel foretold of the birth of John to Zacharias. Elisabeth conceived (Luke 1:7-24) but for five months concealed her condition. However, the angel revealed Elisabeth’s condition to Mary of Nazareth when telling her that she was to be the mother of Jesus (Luke 1:24-38).

Mary hastily went to see her cousin Elisabeth with whom she stayed three months during which they exchanged congratulations and praised God (Luke 1:39-50). When the child was circumcised relatives and neighbors thought the child should be named Zacharias after his father.

But Elisabeth objected, insisting the child was to be named John over the objections of that there was no kindred having that name. At last the appealed to Zacharias, who lacked the ability to speak, asking him what the child was to be named. He took a writing tablet upon which he wrote «His name is John,» and immediately his speech was restored (Luke 1:58-64). A.G.H.


Unger, Merrill F., Unger’s Bible Dictionary, Chicago, Moody Press, 1966, p. 307