Much has been written about Peter, Andrew, James, and John, but what of Zebedee, the man they left behind to follow Jesus? Here’s what we know:
Zebedee was a successful businessman, running a fishing operation on that sea of Galilee that employed his sons, their partners (Peter and Andrew) as well as other hired hands (see Mark 1:19-20). He also owned at least one large fishing boat, so he was apparently a man of some financial means.
He was married to a woman named Salome, and after the crucifixion he allowed his wife to use their money to buy burial spices for Jesus (Mark 16:1). Through Salome, his sons, or directly, he may have also supported Jesus’ ministry with monetary contributions from time to time. Some think that, like his sons, he may have been a disciple of John the Baptist first, and then became a follower of Jesus (from a distance) as well.
Some historians also speculate that Zebedee had been contracted to supply fish for the high priest’s palace in Jerusalem. That would explain, the thinking goes, why his son John was known and welcomed into the high priest’s courtyard during the trial of Jesus (John 18:15-16).
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