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The name Zechariah means one whom Jehovah remembers: a common name, four others of the same name occurring in the Old Testament. Like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, he was a priest as well as a prophet, which adapts him for the sacerdotal character of some of his prophecies (Zec 6:13). He is called "the son of Berechiah the son of Iddo" (Zec 1:1); but simply "the son of Iddo" in Ezr 5:1; 6:14. Probably his father died when he was young; and hence, as sometimes occurs in Jewish genealogies, he is called "the son of Iddo," his grandfather. Iddo was one of the priests who returned to Zerubbabel and Joshua from Babylon (Ne 12:4).
Zechariah entered early on his prophetic functions (Zec 2:4); only two months later than Haggai, in the second year of Darius' reign, 520 B.C. The design of both prophets was to encourage the people and their religious and civil leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel, in their work of rebuilding the temple, after the interruption caused by the Samaritans (see Introduction to Haggai). Zechariah does so especially by unfolding in detail the glorious future in connection with the present depressed appearance of the theocracy, and its visible symbol, the temple. He must have been very young in leaving Babylonia, where he was born. The Zechariah, son of Barachias, mentioned by our Lord (Mt 23:35) as slain between the porch and the altar, must have been the one called the son of Jehoiada in 2Ch 24:21, who so perished: the same person often had two names; and our Lord, in referring to the Hebrew Bible, of which Second Chronicles is the last book, would naturally mention the last martyr in the Hebrew order of the canon, as He had instanced Abel as the first. Owing to Mt 27:9 quoting Zec 11:12, 13 as the words of Jeremiah, Mede doubts the authenticity of the ninth through the fourteenth chapters, and ascribes them to Jeremiah: he thinks that these chapters were not found till after the return from the captivity, and being approved by Zechariah, were added to his prophecies, as Agur's Proverbs were added to those of Solomon. All the oldest authorities, except two manuscripts of the old Italian or Pre-Vulgate version, read Jeremiah in Mt 27:9. The quotation there is not to the letter copied from Zechariah, Jer 18:1, 2; 32:6-12, may also have been in the mind of Matthew, and perhaps in the mind of Zechariah, whence the former mentions Jeremiah. Hengstenberg similarly thinks that Matthew names Jeremiah, rather than Zechariah, to turn attention to the fact that Zechariah's prophecy is but a reiteration of the fearful oracle in Jer 18:1-19:15, to be fulfilled in the destruction of the Jewish nation. Jeremiah had already, by the image of a potter's vessel, portrayed their ruin in Nebuchadnezzar's invasion; and as Zechariah virtually repeats this threat, to be inflicted again under Messiah for the nation's rejection of Him, Matthew, virtually, by mentioning Jeremiah, implies that the "field of blood" [Mt 27:8, 9], now bought by "the reward of iniquity" [Ac 1:18] in the valley of Hinnom, was long ago a scene of prophetic doom in which awful disaster had been symbolically predicted: that the present purchase of that field with the traitor's price renewed the prophecy and revived the curse—a curse pronounced of old by Jeremiah, and once fulfilled in the Babylonian siege—a curse reiterated by Zechariah, and again to be verified in the Roman desolation. Lightfoot (referring to B. Bathra and Kimchi) less probably thinks the third division of Scripture, the prophets, began with Jeremiah, and that the whole body of prophets is thus quoted by the name "Jeremiah." The mention of "Ephraim" and "Israel" in these chapters as distinct from Judah, does not prove that the prophecy was written while the ten tribes existed as a separate kingdom. It rather implies that hereafter not only Judah, but the ten tribes also, shall be restored, the earnest of which was given in the numbers out of the ten tribes who returned with their brethren the Jews from captivity under Cyrus. There is nothing in these characters to imply that a king reigned in Judah at that time. The editor of the Hebrew canon joined these chapters to Zechariah, not to Jeremiah; the Septuagint, three hundred years B.C., confirms this.
The prophecy consists of four parts: (1) Introductory, Zec 1:1-6. (2) Symbolical, Zec 1:7, to the end of the sixth chapter, containing nine visions; all these were vouchsafed in one night, and are of a symbolical character. (3) Didactic, the seventh and eighth chapters containing an answer to a query of the Beth-elites concerning a certain feast. And (4) Prophetic, the ninth chapter to the end. These six last chapters predict Alexander's expedition along the west coast of Palestine to Egypt; God's protection of the Jews, both at that time and under the Maccabees; the advent, sufferings, and reign of Messiah; the destruction of Jerusalem by Rome, and dissolution of the Jews' polity; their conversion and restoration; the overthrow of the wicked confederacy which assailed them in Canaan; and the Gentiles' joining in their holy worship [Henderson]. The difference in style between the former and the latter chapters is due to the difference of subject; the first six chapters being of a symbolical and peculiar character, while the poetical style of the concluding chapters is adapted admirably to the subjects treated. The titles (Zec 9:1; 12:1) accord with the prophetic matter which follows; nor is it necessary for unity of authorship that the introductory formulas occurring in the first eight chapters should occur in the last six. The non-reference in the last six chapters to the completion of the temple and the Jews' restoration after the captivity is just what we should expect, if, as seems likely, these chapters were written long after the completion of the temple and the restoration of the Jews' polity after the captivity, in circumstances different from those which engaged the prophet when he wrote the earlier chapters.
The style varies with the subject: at one time conversational, at another poetical. His symbols are enigmatical and are therefore accompanied with explanations. His prose is like that of Ezekiel—diffuse, uniform, and repetitious. The rhythm is somewhat unequal, and the parallelisms are not altogether symmetrical. Still, there is found often much of the elevation met with in the earlier prophets, and a general congruity between the style and the subjects. Graphic vividness is his peculiar merit. Chaldæisms occur occasionally. Another special characteristic of Zechariah is his introduction of spiritual beings into his prophetic scenes.
Zec 1:1-17. Introductory Exhortation to Repentance. The Visions. The man among the myrtles: Comforting explanation by the angel, an encouragement to the Jews to build the city and temple: The four horns and four artificers.
1. See Introduction.
2. God fulfilled His threats against your fathers; beware, then, lest by disregarding His voice by me, as they did in the case of former prophets, ye suffer like them. The special object Zechariah aims at is that they should awake from their selfish negligence to obey God's command to rebuild His temple (Hag 1:4-8).
sore displeased—Hebrew, "displeased with a displeasure," that is, vehemently, with no common displeasure, exhibited in the destruction of the Jews' city and in their captivity.
3. saith the Lord of hosts—a phrase frequent in Haggai and Zechariah, implying God's boundless resources and universal power, so as to inspire the Jews with confidence to work.
Turn ye unto me … and I will turn—that is, and then, as the sure consequence, "I will turn unto you" (Mal 3:7; Jas 4:8; compare also Jer 3:12; Eze 18:30; Mic 7:19). Though God hath brought you back from captivity, yet this state will not last long unless ye are really converted. God has heavier scourges ready, and has begun to give symptoms of displeasure [Calvin]. (Hag 1:6).
4. Be ye not as your fathers—The Jews boasted of their fathers; but he shows that their fathers were refractory, and that ancient example and long usage will not justify disobedience (2Ch 36:15, 16).
the former prophets—those who lived before the captivity. It aggravated their guilt that, not only had they the law, but they had been often called to repent by God's prophets.
5. Your fathers … and the prophets, do they live for ever?—In contrast to "My words" (Zec 1:6), which "endure for ever" (1Pe 1:25). "Your fathers have perished, as was foretold; and their fate ought to warn you. But you may say, The prophets too are dead. I grant it, but still My words do not die: though dead, their prophetical words from Me, fulfilled against your fathers, are not dead with them. Beware, then, lest ye share their fate."
6. statutes—My determined purposes to punish for sin.
which I commanded my servants—namely, to announce to your fathers.
did they not take hold—that is, overtake, as a foe overtakes one fleeing.
they returned—Turning from their former self-satisfaction, they recognized their punishment as that which God's prophets had foretold.
thought to do—that is, decreed to do. Compare with this verse La 2:17.
our ways—evil ways (Jer 4:18; 17:10; 23:2).
7. The general plan of the nine following visions (Zec 1:8-6:15) is first to present the symbol; then, on a question being put, to subjoin the interpretation. Though the visions are distinct, they form one grand whole, presented in one night to the prophet's mind, two or three months after the prophet's first commission (Zec 1:1).
Sebat—the eleventh month of the Jewish year, from the new moon in February to the new moon in March. The term is Chaldee, meaning a "shoot," namely, the month when trees begin to shoot or bud.
8. by night—The Jews begin their day with sunset; therefore the night which preceded the twenty-fourth day of the month is meant (Zec 1:7).
a man—Jehovah, the second person of the Trinity, manifested in man's form, an earnest of the incarnation; called the "angel of Jehovah" (Zec 1:11, 12), "Jehovah the angel of the covenant" (Mal 3:1; compare Ge 16:7 with Zec 1:13; Ge 22:11 with Zec 1:12; Ex 3:2 with Zec 1:4). Being at once divine and human, He must be God and man in one person.
riding—implying swiftness in executing God's will in His providence; hastening to help His people.
red horse—the color that represents bloodshed: implying vengeance to be inflicted on the foes of Israel (compare 2Ki 3:22; Isa 63:1, 2; Re 6:4); also fiery zeal.
among the myrtle trees—symbol of the Jewish Church: not a stately cedar, but a lowly, though fragrant, myrtle. It was its depressed state that caused the Jews to despond; this vision is designed to cheer them with better hopes. The uncreated angel of Jehovah's presence standing (as His abiding place, Ps 132:14) among them, is a guarantee for her safety, lowly though she now be.
in the bottom—in a low place or bottom of a river; alluding to Babylon near the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, the scene of Judah's captivity. The myrtle delights in low places and the banks of waters [Pembellus]. Maurer translates, from a different root, "in a shady place."
red horses—that is, horsemen mounted on red horses; Zec 1:10, 11, confirm this view.
speckled … white—The "white" implies triumph and victory for Judah; "speckled" (from a root "to intertwine"), a combination of the two colors white and red (bay [Moore]), implies a state of things mixed, partly prosperous, partly otherwise [Henderson]; or, the connection of the wrath (answering to the "red") about to fall on the Jews' foes, and triumph (answering to the "white") to the Jews themselves in God's arrangements for His people [Moore]. Some angels ("the red horses") exercised offices of vengeance; others ("the white"), those of joy; others ("the speckled"), those of a mixed character (compare Zec 6:2, 3). God has ministers of every kind for promoting the interests of His Church.
9. the angel that talked with me—not the "man upon the red horse," as is evident from Zec 1:10, where he (the Divine Angel) is distinguished from the "angel that talked with me" (the phrase used of him, Zec 1:13, 14; Zec 2:3; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:5, 10; 6:4), that is, the interpreting angel. The Hebrew for "with me," or, "in me" (Nu 12:8), implies internal, intimate communication [Jerome].
show thee—reveal to thy mental vision.
10. answered—The "angel of the covenant" here gives the reply instead of the interpreting angel, to imply that all communications through the interpreting angel come from Him as their source.
Lord hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth—If "Satan walks to and fro in the earth" (implying restless activity) on errands of mischief to God's people (Job 1:7), the Lord sends other angels to "walk to and fro" with unceasing activity everywhere to counterwork Satan's designs, and to defend His people (Ps 34:7; 91:11; 103:20, 21; Heb 1:14).
11. The attendant angels report to the Lord of angels, "the earth … is at rest." The flourishing state of the heathen "earth," while Judah was desolate and its temple not yet restored, is the powerful plea in the Divine Angel's intercession with God the Father in Zec 1:12. When Judah was depressed to the lowest point, and the heathen elated to the highest, it was time for Jehovah to work for His people.
sitteth still—dwells surely.
12. Not only does Messiah stand among His people (the "myrtles," Zec 1:8), but intercedes for them with the Father ("Lord," or "Jehovah of hosts") effectively (Zec 1:13; Heb 7:25). Compare Ps 102:13-20; Isa 62:6, 7, as to Judah's restoration in answer to prayer.
answered and said—said in continuation of the discourse: proceeded to say.
how long—Messiah's people pray similarly to their Head. Re 6:10, "How long," &c. Heretofore it was vain to pray, but now that the divinely appointed "threescore and ten years" (Jer 25:11; 29:10) are elapsed, it is time to pray to Thee for the fulfilment of Thy promise, seeing that Thy grace is not yet fully manifested, nor Thy promise fulfilled. God's promises are not to make us slothful, but to quicken our prayers. Henderson, dating the seventy years from the destruction of Jerusalem (588 B.C.), supposes two years of the seventy had yet to run (520 B.C.).
13. the Lord—Jehovah, called "the angel of the Lord (Jehovah)" (Zec 1:12).
good words and comfortable words—literally, "words, consolations." The subject of these consolatory words is stated in Zec 1:14, &c.; the promise of full re-establishment, Jer 29:10, 11 (compare Isa 57:18; Ho 11:8).
14. Cry—Proclaim so as to be heard clearly by all (Isa 40:6; 58:1).
I am jealous for Jerusalem—As a husband jealous for his wife, wronged by others, so Jehovah is for Judah, who has been injured wantonly by the heathen (Zec 8:2; Nu 25:11, 13; 1Ki 19:10; Joe 2:18).
15. very sore displeased with the heathen—in contrast with "I was but a little displeased" with My people. God's displeasure with His people is temporary and for their chastening; with the heathen oppressors, it is final and fatal (Jer 30:11). God's instruments for chastising His people, when He has done with them, He casts into the fire.
are at ease—carnally secure. A stronger phrase than "is at rest" (Zec 1:11). They are "at ease," but as I am "sore displeased" with them, their ease is accursed. Judah is in "affliction," but as I love her and am jealous for her, she has every reason to be encouraged in prosecuting the temple work.
helped forward the affliction—afflicted My people more than I desired. The heathen sought the utter extinction of Judah to gratify their own ambition and revenge (Isa 47:6; Eze 25:3, 6; Ob 10-17).
16. I am returned—whereas in anger I had before withdrawn from her (Ho 5:15).
with mercies—not merely of one kind, nor once only, but repeated mercies.
my house shall be built—which at this time (the second year of Darius, Zec 1:1) had only its foundations laid (Hag 2:18). It was not completed till the sixth year of Darius (Ezr 6:15).
line—(Job 38:5). The measuring-line for building, not hastily, but with measured regularity. Not only the temple, but Jerusalem also was to be rebuilt (Ne 2:3, &c.; compare Zec 2:1, 2). Also, as to the future temple and city, Eze 41:3; 42:1-44:31; 45:6.
17. yet—though heretofore lying in abject prostration.
My cities—not only Jerusalem, but the subordinate cities of Judah. God claims them all as peculiarly His, and therefore will restore them.
through prosperity … spread abroad—or overflow; metaphor from an overflowing vessel or fountain (compare Pr 5:16) [Pembellus]. Abundance of fruits of the earth, corn and wine, and a large increase of citizens, are meant; also spiritual prosperity.
comfort Zion—(Isa 40:1, 2; 51:3).
choose—(Zec 2:12; 3:2; Isa 14:1). Here meaning, "show by acts of loving-kindness that He has chosen." His immutable choice from everlasting is the fountain whence flow all such particular acts of love.
Zec 1:18-21. Second Vision. The power of the Jews foes shall be dissipated.
18. four horns—To a pastoral people like the Jews the horns of the strongest in the herd naturally suggested a symbol of power and pride of conscious strength: hence the ruling powers of the world (Re 17:3, 12). The number four in Zechariah's time referred to the four cardinal points of the horizon. Wherever God's people turned, there were foes to encounter (Ne 4:7); the Assyrian, Chaldean, and Samaritan on the north; Egypt and Arabia on the south; Philistia on the west; Ammon and Moab on the east. But the Spirit in the prophet looked farther; namely, to the four world powers, the only ones which were, or are, to rise till the kingdom of Messiah, the fifth, overthrows and absorbs all others in its universal dominion. Babylon and Medo-Persia alone had as yet risen, but soon Græco-Macedonia was to succeed (as Zec 9:13 foretells), and Rome the fourth and last, was to follow (Da 2:1-49; 7:1-28). The fact that the repairing of the evils caused to Judah and Israel by all four kingdoms is spoken of here, proves that the exhaustive fulfilment is yet future, and only the earnest of it given in the overthrow of the two world powers which up to Zechariah's time had "scattered" Judah (Jer 51:2; Eze 5:10, 12). That only two of the four had as yet risen, is an argument having no weight with us, as we believe God's Spirit in the prophets regards the future as present; we therefore are not to be led by Rationalists who on such grounds deny the reference here and in Zec 6:1 to the four world kingdoms.
19. Judah, Israel—Though some of the ten tribes of Israel returned with Judah from Babylon, the full return of the former, as of the latter, is here foretold and must be yet future.
20. four carpenters—or "artificers." The several instrumentalities employed, or to be employed, in crushing the "Gentile" powers which "scattered" Judah, are hereby referred to. For every one of the four horns there was a cleaving "artificer" to beat it down. For every enemy of God's people, God has provided a counteracting power adequate to destroy it.
21. These are the horns—rather, Those, namely, the horns being distinguished from the "carpenters," or destroying workmen ("skilful to destroy," Ex 21:31), intended in the "these" of the question.
no man … lift up his head—so depressed were they with a heavy weight of evils (Job 10:15).
to fray—to strike terror into them (Eze 30:9).
lifted up … horn—in the haughtiness of conscious strength (Ps 75:4, 5) tyrannizing over Judah (Eze 34:21).
Zec 2:1-13. Third Vision. The man with the measuring-line.
The city shall be fully restored and enlarged (Zec 2:2-5). Recall of the exiles (Zec 2:6, 7). Jehovah will protect His people and make their foes a spoil unto them (Zec 2:8, 9). The nations shall be converted to Jehovah, as the result of His dwelling manifestly amidst His people (Zec 2:10-13).
1. man with a measuring-line—the same image to represent the same future fact as in Eze 40:3; 47:4. The "man" is Messiah (see on Zec 1:8), who, by measuring Jerusalem, is denoted as the Author of its coming restoration. Thus the Jews are encouraged in Zechariah's time to proceed with the building. Still more so shall they be hereby encouraged in the future restoration.
2. To measure Jerusalem—(Compare Re 11:1; 21:15, 16).
to see what is the breadth … what is the length—rather, "what is to be the due breadth and length."
3. angel that talked with me … another angel—The interpreting angel is met by another angel sent by the measuring Divine Angel to "run" to Zechariah (Zec 2:4). Those who perform God's will must not merely creep, nor walk, but run with alacrity.
went forth—namely, from me (Zechariah).
went out—from the measuring angel.
4. this young man—So Zechariah is called as being still a youth when prophetically inspired [Grotius]. Or, he is so called in respect to his ministry or service (compare Nu 11:27; Jos 1:1) [Vatablus]. Naturally the "angel that talked with" Zechariah is desired to "speak to" him the further communications to be made from the Divine Being.
towns without walls for the multitude … Cattle—So many shall be its inhabitants that all could not be contained within the walls, but shall spread out in the open country around (Es 9:19); and so secure shall they be as not to need to shelter themselves and their cattle behind walls. So hereafter Judea is to be "the land of unwalled villages" (Eze 38:11). Spiritually, now the Church has extended herself beyond the walls (Eph 2:14, 15) of Mosaic ordinances and has spread from cities to country villages, whose inhabitants gave their Latin name (pagani) to pagans, as being the last in parting with heathenism.
5. I … wall of fire round—Compare Zec 2:4. Yet as a city needs some wall, I Jehovah will act as one of fire which none durst approach (Zec 9:8; Isa 26:1).
glory in the midst—not only a defense from foes outside, but a glory within (Isa 60:19; Re 21:23). The same combination of "glory and defense" is found in Isa 4:5, alluding to the pillar of cloud and fire which defended and enlightened Israel in the desert. Compare Elisha in Dothan (2Ki 6:17). As God is to be her "glory," so she shall be His "glory" (Isa 62:3).
6. flee from the land of the north—that is, from Babylon: a type of the various Gentile lands, from which the Jews are to be recalled hereafter; hence "the four winds of heaven" are specified, implying that they are to return from all quarters (De 28:64; Jer 16:15; Eze 17:21). The reason why they should flee from Babylon is: (1) because of the blessings promised to God's people in their own land; (2) because of the evils about to fall on their foe (Zec 2:7-9). Babylon was soon to fall before Darius, and its inhabitants to endure fearful calamities (Isa 48:20; Jer 50:8; 51:6, 45). Many of the Jews in Zechariah's time had not yet returned to Judea. Their tardiness was owing to (1) unbelief; (2) their land had long lain waste, and was surrounded with bitter foes; (3) they regarded suspiciously the liberty of return given by Cyrus and Darius, as if these monarchs designed suddenly to crush them; (4) their long stay in Babylon had obliterated the remembrance of their own land; (5) the wealth and security there contrasted with Judea, where their temple and city were in ruins. All this betrayed foul ingratitude and disregard of God's extraordinary favor, which is infinitely to be preferred to all the wealth of the world [Calvin and Pembellus].
for I have spread you abroad—The reasoning is: I who scattered you from your land to all quarters, can also gather you again to it.
7. O Zion … daughter of Babylon—Thou whose only sure dwelling is "Zion," inseparably connected with the temple, art altogether out of thy place in "dwelling with the daughter of Babylon" (that is, Babylon and her people, Ps 137:8; Isa 1:8).
After the glory—After restoring the "glory" (Zec 2:5; Isa 4:5; Ro 9:4) of Jehovah's presence to Jerusalem, He (God the Father) hath commissioned ME (God the Son, Isa 48:16, the Divine Angel: God thus being at once the Sender and the Sent) to visit in wrath "the nations which spoiled you." Messiah's twofold office from the Father is: (1) to glorify His Church; (2) to punish its foes (2Th 1:7-10). Both offices manifest His glory (Pr 16:4).
toucheth … the apple of his eye—namely, of Jehovah's eye (De 32:10; Ps 17:8; Pr 7:2). The pupil, or aperture, through which rays pass to the retina, is the tenderest part of the eye; the member which we most sedulously guard from hurt as being the dearest of our members; the one which feels most acutely the slightest injury, and the loss of which is irreparable.
9. shake … hand—A mere wave of God's hand can prostrate all foes (compare Ru 1:13; Job 31:21; Isa 11:15; 19:16; Ac 13:11).
a spoil to their servants—to the Jews whom they had once as their slaves (compare Isa 14:2). As the Jews' state between the return from Babylon and Christ's coming was checkered with much adversity, this prophecy can only have its fulfilment under Christ.
sent me—(Isa 48:16; 61:1; Joh 10:36).
10. I will dwell in … midst of thee—primarily at Messiah's first advent (Ps 40:7; Joh 1:14; Col 2:9; 1Ti 3:16); more fully at His second advent (Isa 40:10). So Zec 9:9, where see on Zec 9:9 (Isa 12:6; Eze 37:27; Zep 3:14). Meanwhile God dwells spiritually in His people (2Co 6:16).
11. many nations … joined to the Lord in that day—The result of the Jews' exile in Babylon was that, at their subsequent return, through the diffusion of knowledge of their religion, many Gentiles became proselytes, worshipping in the court of the Gentiles (1Ki 8:41). Cyrus, Darius, Alexander, Ptolemy Philadelphus, Augustus, and Tiberius, paid respect to the temple by sending offerings [Grotius]. But all this is but a shadow of the future conversion of the Gentiles which shall result from Jehovah dwelling in Jerusalem (Ps 102:15, 16; Php 2:10, 11).
sent me unto thee—"unto thee" is here added to the same formula (Zec 2:9). Zion first shall "know (generally) that Jehovah of hosts hath sent" Messiah, by the judgments inflicted by Him on her foes. Subsequently, she shall know experimentally the particular sending of Messiah unto her. Jehovah here says, "I will dwell," and then that Jehovah of hosts sent Him; therefore Jehovah the Sender and Jehovah the Sent must be One.
12. Judah his portion in the holy land—Lest the joining of the Gentile "nations to Jehovah" (Zec 2:11) should lead the Jews to fear that their peculiar relation to Him (De 4:20; 9:29; 32:9) as "His inheritance" should cease, this verse is added to assure them of His making them so hereafter "again."
choose Jerusalem again—The course of God's grace was interrupted for a time, but His covenant was not set aside (Ro 11:28, 29); the election was once for all, and therefore shall hold good for ever.
13. Be silent, O all flesh—(Hab 2:20). "Let all in silent awe and reverence await the Lord's coming interposition in behalf of His people!" The address is both to the Gentile foes, who prided themselves on their power as if irresistible, and to the unbelieving Jews, who distrusted God's promises as incredible. Three reasons why they must be silent are implied: (1) they are but "flesh," weak and ignorant; (2) He is Jehovah, all-wise and all-powerful; (3) He is already "raised up out of His place," and who can stand before Him? [Pembellus], (Ps 76:8, 9).
he is raised up out of his holy habitation—that is, out of heaven (De 26:15; 2Ch 30:27; Isa 63:15), to judge and avenge His people (Isa 26:21); or, "out of His holy" temple, contemptible and incomplete as it looked then when Zechariah urged them to rebuild it [Calvin]. But the call to all to "be silent" is rather when God has come forth from heaven where so long He has dwelt unseen, and is about to inflict vengeance on the foe, before taking up His dwelling in Zion and the temple. However, Ps 50:1, 2 ("Out of Zion"), Ps 50:3 (compare Hab 2:3), Ps 50:4, favors Calvin's view. God is now "silent" while the Gentile foe speaks arrogance against His people; but "our God shall come and no longer keep silence"; then in turn must all flesh "be silent" before Him.
Zec 3:1-10. Fourth Vision. Joshua the high priest before the angel of Jehovah; accused by Satan, but justified by Jehovah through Messiah the coming Branch.
1. Joshua as high priest (Hag 1:1) represents "Jerusalem" (Zec 3:2), or the elect people, put on its trial, and "plucked" narrowly "out of the fire." His attitude, "standing before the Lord," is that of a high priest ministering before the altar erected previously to the building of the temple (Ezr 3:2, 3, 6; Ps 135:2). Yet, in this position, by reason of his own and his people's sins, he is represented as on his and their trial (Nu 35:12).
he showed me—"He" is the interpreting angel. Jerusalem's (Joshua's) "filthy garments" (Zec 3:3) are its sins which had hitherto brought down God's judgments. The "change of raiment" implies its restoration to God's favor. Satan suggested to the Jews that so consciously polluted a priesthood and people could offer no acceptable sacrifice to God, and therefore they might as well desist from the building of the temple. Zechariah encourages them by showing that their demerit does not disqualify them for the work, as they are accepted in the righteousness of another, their great High Priest, the Branch (Zec 3:8), a scion of their own royal line of David (Isa 11:1). The full accomplishment of Israel's justification and of Satan the accuser's being "rebuked" finally, is yet future (Re 12:10). Compare Re 11:8, wherein "Jerusalem," as here, is shown to be meant primarily, though including the whole Church in general (compare Job 1:9).
Satan—the Hebrew term meaning "adversary" in a law court: as devil is the Greek term, meaning accuser. Messiah, on the other hand, is "advocate" for His people in the court of heaven's justice (1Jo 2:1).
standing at his right hand—the usual position of a prosecutor or accuser in court, as the left hand was the position of the defendant (Ps 109:6). The "angel of the Lord" took the same position just before another high priest was about to beget the forerunner of Messiah (Lu 1:11), who supplants Satan from his place as accuser. Some hence explain Jude 9 as referring to this passage: "the body of Moses" being thus the Jewish Church, for which Satan contended as his by reason of its sins; just as the "body of Christ" is the Christian Church. However, Jude 9 plainly speaks of the literal body of Moses, the resurrection of which at the transfiguration Satan seems to have opposed on the ground of Moses' error at Meribah; the same divine rebuke, "the Lord rebuke thee," checked Satan in contending for judgment against Moses' body, as checked him when demanding judgment against the Jewish Church, to which Moses' body corresponds.
2. the Lord—Jehovah, hereby identified with the "angel of the Lord (Jehovah)" (Zec 3:1).
rebuke thee—twice repeated to express the certainty of Satan's accusations and machinations against Jerusalem being frustrated. Instead of lengthened argument, Jehovah silences Satan by the one plea, namely, God's choice.
chosen Jerusalem—(Ro 9:16; 11:5). The conclusive answer. If the issue rested on Jerusalem's merit or demerit, condemnation must be the award; but Jehovah's "choice" (Joh 15:16) rebuts Satan's charge against Jerusalem (Zec 1:17; 2:12; Ro 8:33, 34, 37), represented by Joshua (compare in the great atonement, Le 16:6-20, &c.), not that she may continue in sin, but be freed from it (Zec 3:7).
brand plucked out of … fire—(Am 4:11; 1Pe 4:18; Jude 23). Herein God implies that His acquittal of Jerusalem is not that He does not recognize her sin (Zec 3:3, 4, 9), but that having punished her people for it with a seventy years' captivity, He on the ground of His electing love has delivered her from the fiery ordeal; and when once He has begun a deliverance, as in this case, He will perfect it (Ps 89:30-35; Php 1:6).
3. filthy garments—symbol of sin (Pr 30:12; Isa 4:4; 64:6); proving that it is not on the ground of His people's righteousness that He accepts them. Here primarily the "filthy garments" represent the abject state temporally of the priesthood and people at the return from Babylon. Yet he "stood before the angel." Abject as he was, he was before Jehovah's eye, who graciously accepts His people's services, though mixed with sin and infirmity.
4. those that stood before him—the ministering angels (compare the phrase in 1Ki 10:8; Da 1:5).
Take away the filthy garments—In Zec 3:9 it is "remove the iniquity of that land"; therefore Joshua represents the land.
from him—literally, "from upon him"; pressing upon him as an overwhelming burden.
change of raiment—festal robes of the high priest, most costly and gorgeous; symbol of Messiah's imputed righteousness (Mt 22:11). The restoration of the glory of the priesthood is implied: first, partially, at the completion of the second temple; fully realized in the great High Priest Jesus, whose name is identical with Joshua (Heb 4:8), the Representative of Israel, the "kingdom of priests" (Ex 19:6); once clad in the filthy garments of our vileness, but being the chosen of the Father (Isa 42:1; 44:1; 49:1-3), He hath by death ceased from sin, and in garments of glory entered the heavenly holy place as our High Priest (Heb 8:1; 9:24). Then, as the consequence (1Pe 2:5), realized in the Church generally (Lu 15:22; Re 19:8), and in Israel in particular (Isa 61:10; compare Isa 3:6; 66:21).
5. And I said—Here the prophet, rejoicing at the change of raiment so far made, interposes to ask for the crowning assurance that the priesthood would be fully restored, namely, the putting the miter or priestly turban on Joshua: its fair color symbolizing the official purity of the order restored. He does not command, but prays; not "Set," but "Let them set." Vulgate and Syriac version read it, "He then said," which is the easier reading; but the very difficulty of the present Hebrew reading makes it less likely to come from a modern corrector of the text.
angel of … Lord stood by—the Divine Angel had been sitting (the posture of a judge, Da 7:9); now He "stands" to see that Zechariah's prayer be executed, and then to give the charge (Zec 3:6, 7).
6. protested—proceeded solemnly to declare. A forensic term for an affirmation on oath (Heb 6:17, 18). God thus solemnly states the end for which the priesthood is restored to the people, His own glory in their obedience and pure worship, and their consequent promotion to heavenly honor.
7. God's choice of Jerusalem (Zec 3:2) was unto its sanctification (Joh 15:16; Ro 8:29); hence the charge here which connects the promised blessing with obedience.
my charge—the ordinances, ritual and moral (Nu 3:28, 31, 32, 38; Jos 1:7-9; 1Ki 2:3; Eze 44:16).
judge my house—Thou shalt long preside over the temple ceremonial as high priest (Le 10:10; Eze 44:23; Mal 2:7) [Grotius]. Or, rule over My house, that is, My people [Maurer] (Nu 12:7; Ho 8:1). We know from De 17:9 that the priest judged cases. He was not only to obey the Mosaic institute himself, but to see that it was obeyed by others. God's people are similarly to exercise judgment hereafter, as the reward of their present faithfulness (Da 7:18, 22; Lu 19:17; 1Co 6:2); by virtue of their royal priesthood (Re 1:6).
keep my courts—guard My house from profanation.
places to walk—free ingress and egress (1Sa 18:16; 1Ki 3:7; 15:17), so that thou mayest go through these ministering angels who stand by Jehovah (Zec 4:14; 6:5; 1Ki 22:19) into His presence, discharging thy priestly function. In Eze 42:4 the same Hebrew word is used of a walk before the priests' chambers in the future temple. Zechariah probably refers here to such a walk or way; Thou shalt not merely walk among priests like thyself, as in the old temple walks, but among the very angels as thine associates. Hengstenberg translates, "I will give thee guides (from) among these," &c. But there is no "from" in the Hebrew; English Version is therefore better. Priests are called angels or "messengers" (Mal 2:7); they are therefore thought worthy to be associated with heavenly angels. So these latter are present at the assemblies of true Christian worshippers (1Co 11:10; compare Ec 5:6; Eph 3:10; Re 22:9).
8. Hear—On account of the magnitude of what He is about to say, He at once demands solemn attention.
thy fellows that sit before thee—thy subordinate colleagues in the priesthood; not that they were actually then sitting before him; but their usual posture in consultations was on chairs or benches before him, while he sat on an elevated seat as their president.
they are—From speaking to Joshua He passes to speaking of him and them, in the third person, to the attendant angels (compare Zec 3:9).
men wondered at—Hebrew, "men of wonder," that is, having a typical character (Isa 8:18; 20:3; Eze 12:11; 24:24). Joshua the high priest typifies Messiah, as Joshua's "fellows" typify believers whom Messiah admits to share His Priesthood (1Pe 2:5; Re 5:10). This, its typical character, then, is a pledge to assure the desponding Jews that the priesthood shall be preserved till the great Antitype comes. There may be also an indirect reproof of the unbelief of the multitude who "wonder" at God's servants and even at God's Son incredulously (Ps 71:7; Isa 8:18; 53:1, &c.).
behold—marking the greatness of what follows.
my servant—the characteristic title of Messiah (Isa 42:1; 49:3; 50:10; 52:13; 53:11; Eze 34:23, 24).
the Branch—Messiah, a tender branch from the almost extinct royal line of David (Zec 6:12; Isa 4:2; 11:1; Jer 23:5; 33:15). Lu 1:78, where for "day spring," "branch" may be substituted (Mal 4:2, however, favors English Version). The reference cannot be to Zerubbabel (as Grotius thinks), for he was then in the full discharge of his office, whereas "the Branch" here is regarded as future.
9. For—expressing the ground for encouragement to the Jews in building the temple: I (Jehovah) have laid the (foundation) stone as the chief architect, before (in the presence of) Joshua, by "the hand of Zerubbabel" (Zec 4:10; Ezr 3:8-13), so that your labor in building shall not be vain. Antitypically, the (foundation) stone alluded to is Christ, before called "the Branch." Lest any should think from that term that His kingdom is weak, He now calls it "the stone," because of its solidity and strength whereby it is to be the foundation of the Church, and shall crush all the world kingdoms (Ps 118:22; compare Isa 28:16; Da 2:45; Mt 21:42; 1Co 3:11; 1Pe 2:6, 7). The angel pointing to the chief stone lying before Him, intimates that a deeper mystery than the material temple is symbolized. Moore thinks the "stone" is the Jewish Church, which Jehovah engages watchfully to guard. The temple, rather, is that symbolically. But the antitype of the foundation-stone is Messiah.
upon one stone shall be seven eyes—namely, the watchful "eyes" of Jehovah's care ever fixed "upon" it (Zec 4:10) [Maurer]. The eye is the symbol of Providence: "seven," of perfection (Re 5:6; compare 2Ch 16:9; Ps 32:8). Antitypically, "the seven eyes upon the stone" are the eyes of all angels (1Ti 3:16), and of all saints (Joh 3:14, 15; 12:32), and of the patriarchs and prophets (Joh 8:56; 1Pe 1:10, 11), fixed on Christ; above all, the eyes of the Father ever rest with delight on Him. Calvin (perhaps better) considers the seven eyes to be carved on the stone, that is, not the eyes of the Father and of angels and saints ever fixed on Him, but His own sevenfold (perfect) fullness of grace, and of gifts of the Spirit (Isa 11:2, 3; Joh 1:16; 3:34; Col 1:19; 2:9), and His watchful providence now for the Jews in building the temple, and always for His Church, His spiritual temple. Thus the "stone" is not as other stones senseless, but living and full of eyes of perfect intelligence (1Pe 2:4, "a living stone"), who not only attracts the eyes (Joh 12:32) of His people, but emits illumination so as to direct them to Him.
engrave … graving—implying Messiah's exceeding beauty and preciousness; alluding to the polished stones of the temple: Christ excelled them, as much as God who "prepared His body" (Heb 10:5; compare Joh 2:21) is superior to all human builders.
remove … iniquity of that land in one day—that is, the iniquity and its consequences, namely the punishment to which the Jews heretofore had been subjected (Hag 1:6, 9-11). The remission of sin is the fountain of every other blessing. The "one day" of its removal is primarily the day of national atonement celebrated after the completion of the temple (Le 23:27) on the tenth day of the seventh month. Antitypically, the atonement by Messiah for all men, once for all ("one day") offered, needing no repetition like the Mosaic sacrifices (Heb 10:10, 12, 14).
10. under … vine … fig tree—emblem of tranquil prosperity (1Ki 4:25). Type of spiritual peace with God through Christ (Ro 5:1); and of millennial blessedness (Mic 4:4).
Zec 4:1-14. Fifth Vision. The golden candlestick and the two olive trees. The temple shall be completed by the aid of God's Spirit.
1. waked me—The prophet was lying in a state of ecstatic slumber with astonishment at the previous vision. "Came again, and waked me," does not imply that the angel had departed and now returned, but is an idiom for "waked me again."
2. candlestick—symbolizing the Jewish theocracy; and ultimately, the Church of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the light-bearer (so the original is of "lights," Mt 5:14, 16; Php 2:15) to the world.
all … gold—all pure in doctrine and practice, precious and indestructible; such is the true ideal of the Church; such she shall be (Ps 45:13).
bowl upon the top—In the candlestick of the tabernacle the plural is used, bowls (Ex 25:31). The Hebrew implies that it was the fountain of supply of oil to the lamps. Christ at the head ("on the top") of the Church is the true fountain, of whose fulness of the Spirit all we receive grace (Joh 1:16).
his seven lamps—united in one stem; so in Ex 25:32. But in Re 1:12 the seven candlesticks are separate. The Gentile churches will not realize their unity till the Jewish Church as the stem unites all the lamps in one candlestick (Ro 11:16-24). The "seven lamps," in Re 4:5, are the "seven Spirits of God."
seven pipes—feeding tubes, seven apiece from the "bowl" to each lamp (see Margin) [Maurer and Calvin]; literally, "seven and seven": forty-nine in all. The greater the number of oil-feeding pipes, the brighter the light of the lamps. The explanation in Zec 4:6 is, that man's power by itself can neither retard nor advance God's work, that the real motive-power is God's Spirit. The seven times seven imply the manifold modes by which the Spirit's grace is imparted to the Church in her manifold work of enlightening the world.
3. two olive trees—supplying oil to the bowl. The Holy Ghost, who fills with His fulness Messiah (the anointed: the "bowl"), from whom flow supplies of grace to the Church.
by it—literally, "upon it," that is, growing so as somewhat to overtop it. For the explanation of the "two" see Zec 4:12, 14.
4. The prophet is instructed in the truths meant, that we may read them with the greater reverence and attention [Calvin].
5. Knowest thou not, &c.—Not a reproof of his ignorance, but a stimulus to reflection on the mystery.
No, my lord—ingenious confession of ignorance; as a little child he casts himself for instruction at the feet of the Lord.
6. Not by might … but by my Spirit—As the lamps burned continually, supplied with oil from a source (the living olive trees) which man did not make, so Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because of his weakness; for as the work is one to be effected by the living Spirit (compare Hag 2:5) of God, man's weakness is no obstacle, for God's might will perfect strength out of weakness (Ho 1:7; 2Co 12:10; Heb 11:34). "Might and power" express human strength of every description, physical, mental, moral. Or, "might" is the strength of many (an "army," literally); "power," that of one man [Pembellus]. God can save, "whether with many, or with them that have no power" (2Ch 14:11; compare 1Sa 14:6). So in the conversion of sinners (1Co 3:6; 2Co 10:4). "Zerubbabel" is addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the work.
7. All mountain-like obstacles (Isa 40:4; 49:11) in Zerubbabel's way shall be removed, so that the crowning top-stone shall be put on, and the completion of the work be acknowledged as wholly of "grace." Antitypically, the antichristian last foe of Israel, the obstacle preventing her establishment in Palestine, about to be crushed before Messiah, is probably meant (Jer 51:25; Da 2:34, 44; Mt 21:44).
bring forth the head-stone—Primarily, bring it forth from the place where it was chiselled and give it to the workmen to put on the top of the building. It was customary for chief magistrates to lay the foundation, and also the crowning top-stone (compare Ezr 3:10). Antitypically, the reference is to the time when the full number of the spiritual Church shall be completed, and also when "all Israel shall be saved" (compare Ro 11:26; Heb 11:40; 12:22, 23; Re 7:4-9).
Grace, grace—The repetition expresses, Grace from first to last (Isa 26:3, Margin). Thus the Jews are urged to pray perseveringly and earnestly that the same grace which completed it may always preserve it. "Shoutings" of acclamation accompanied the foundation of the literal temple (Ezr 3:11, 13). So shoutings of "Hosanna" greeted the Saviour in entering Jerusalem (Mt 21:9), when about to complete the purchase of salvation by His death: His Body being the second temple, or place of God's inhabitation (Joh 2:20, 21). So when the full number of the saints and of Israel is complete, and God shall say, "It is done," then again shall "a great voice of much people in heaven" attribute all to the "grace" of God, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honor, and power, unto the Lord our God" (Re 19:1, 6). Ps 118:22 regards Him as "the head-stone of the corner," that is, the foundation-stone. Compare the angels acclamations at His birth, Lu 2:14. Here it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but also the Finisher (Heb 12:2). "Grace" is ascribed "unto it," that is, the stone, Messiah. Hence the benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2Co 13:14).
9. Zerubbabel … shall … finish it—(Ezr 6:15) in the sixth year of Darius' reign.
Lord … sent me unto you—(Zec 2:9). The Divine Angel announces that in what He has just spoken, He has been commissioned by God the Father.
10. who … despised … small things—He reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt because of the humble beginning, compared with the greatness of the undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress in the work, though small, was an earnest of great and final success, because Jehovah's eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support Him with His favor. Contrast, "great is the day of Jezreel" (Ho 1:11) with "the day of small things" here.
they shall rejoice … with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord—rather, "they, even those seven eyes of the Lord (compare Zec 3:9), which … shall rejoice and see (that is, rejoicingly see) the plummet (literally, the 'stone of tin') in the hand of Zerubbabel" [Moore]; the plummet in his hand indicating that the work is going forward to its completion. The Hebrew punctuation, however, favors English Version, of which the sense is, They who incredulously "despised" such "small" beginnings of the work as are made now, shall rejoicingly see its going on to completion under Zerubbabel, "with (the aid of) those seven," namely, the "seven eyes upon one stone" (Zec 3:9): which are explained, "They are the eyes of the Lord which," &c. [Pembellus]. So differently do men and Jehovah regard the "small" beginnings of God's work (Ezr 3:12; Hag 2:3). Men "despised" the work in its early stage: God rejoicingly regards it, and shall continue to do so.
run to and fro, &c.—Nothing in the whole earth escapes the eye of Jehovah, so that He can ward off all danger from His people, come from what quarter it may, in prosecuting His work (Pr 15:3; 1Co 16:9).
11, 12. Zechariah three times (Zec 4:4, 11, 12) asks as to the two olives before he gets an answer; the question becomes more minute each time. What he at first calls "two olive trees," he afterwards calls "branches," as on closer looking he observes that the "branches" of the trees are the channels through which a continual flow of oil dropped into the bowl of the lamps (Zec 4:2), and that this is the purpose for which the two olive trees stand beside the candlestick. Primarily, the "two" refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel. God, says Auberlen, at each of the transition periods of the world's history has sent great men to guide the Church. So the two witnesses shall appear before the destruction of Antichrist. Antitypically, "the two anointed ones" (Zec 4:14) are the twofold supports of the Church, the civil power (answering to Zerubbabel) and the ecclesiastical (answering to Joshua, the high priest), which in the restored Jewish polity and temple shall "stand by," that is, minister to "the Lord of the whole earth," as He shall be called in the day that He sets up His throne in Jerusalem (Zec 14:9; Da 2:44; Re 11:15). Compare the description of the offices of the "priests" and the "prince" (Isa 49:23; Eze 44:1-46:24). As in Re 11:3, 4, the "two witnesses" are identified with the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. Wordsworth explains them to mean the Law and the Gospel: the two Testaments that witness in the Church for the truth of God. But this is at variance with the sense here, which requires Joshua and Zerubbabel to be primarily meant. So Moses (the prophet and lawgiver) and Aaron (the high priest) ministered to the Lord among the covenant-people at the exodus; Ezekiel (the priest) and Daniel (a ruler) in the Babylonian captivity; so it shall be in restored Israel. Some think Elijah will appear again (compare the transfiguration, Mt 17:3, 11, with Mal 4:4, 5; Joh 1:21) with Moses. Re 11:6, which mentions the very miracles performed by Elijah and Moses (shutting heaven so as not to rain, and turning water into blood), favors this (compare Ex 7:19; 1Ki 17:1; Lu 4:25; Jas 5:16, 17). The period is the same, "three years and six months"; the scene also is in Israel (Re 11:8), "where our Lord was crucified." It is supposed that for the first three and a half years of the hebdomad (Da 9:20-27), God will be worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half years, Antichrist will break the covenant (Da 9:27), and set himself up in the temple to be worshipped as God (2Th 2:4). The witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while corruptions prevail and faith is rare (Lu 18:8); then they are slain and remain dead three and a half years. Probably, besides individual witnesses and literal years, there is a fulfilment in long periods and general witnesses, such as the Church and the Word, the civil and religious powers so far as they have witnessed for God. So "the beast" in Revelation answers to the civil power of the apostasy; "the false prophet" to the spiritual power. Man needs the priest to atone for guilt, and the prophet-king to teach holiness with kingly authority. These two typically united in Melchisedek were divided between two till they meet in Messiah, the Antitype. Zec 6:11-13 accords with this. The Holy Spirit in this His twofold power of applying to man the grace of the atonement, and that of sanctification, must in one point of view be meant by the two olive trees which supply the bowl at the top of the candlestick (that is, Messiah at the head of the Church); for it is He who filled Jesus with all the fulness of His unction (Joh 3:34). But this does not exclude the primary application to Joshua and Zerubbabel, "anointed" (Zec 4:14) with grace to minister to the Jewish Church: and so applicable to the twofold supports of the Church which are anointed with the Spirit, the prince and the priest, or minister.
12. through—literally, "by the hand of," that is, by the agency of.
branches—literally, "ears"; so the olive branches are called, because as ears are full of grain, so the olive branches are full of olives.
golden oil—literally, "gold," that is, gold-like liquor.
out of themselves—Ordinances and ministers are channels of grace, not the grace itself. The supply comes not from a dead reservoir of oil, but through living olive trees (Ps 52:8; Ro 12:1) fed by God.
13. Knowest thou not—God would awaken His people to zeal in learning His truth.
14. anointed ones—literally, "sons of oil" (Isa 5:1, Margin). Joshua the high priest, and Zerubbabel the civil ruler, must first be anointed with grace themselves, so as to be the instruments of furnishing it to others (compare 1Jo 2:20, 27).
Zec 5:1-4. Sixth Vision. The Flying Roll. The fraudulent and perjuring transgressors of the law shall be extirpated from Judea.
1. flying roll—of papyrus, or dressed skins, used for writing on when paper was not known. It was inscribed with the words of the curse (De 27:15-26; 28:15-68). Being written implied that its contents were beyond all escape or repeal (Eze 2:9). Its "flying" shows that its curses were ready swiftly to visit the transgressors. It was unrolled, or else its dimensions could not have been seen (Zec 5:2). Being open to all, none could say in excuse he knew not the law and the curses of disobedience. As the previous visions intimated God's favor in restoring the Jewish state, so this vision announces judgment, intimating that God, notwithstanding His favor, did not approve of their sins. Being written on both sides, "on this and on that side" (Zec 5:3) [Vatablus] connects it with the two tables of the law (Ex 32:15), and implies its comprehensiveness. One side denounced "him that sweareth falsely (Zec 5:4) by God's name," according to the third commandment of the first table, duty to God; the other side denounced theft, according to the eighth commandment, which is in the second table, duty to one's neighbor.
2. length … twenty cubits … breadth … ten cubits—thirty feet by fifteen, the dimensions of the temple porch (1Ki 6:3), where the law was usually read, showing that it was divinely authoritative in the theocracy. Its large size implies the great number of the curses contained. The Hebrew for "roll" or "volume" is used of the law (Ps 40:7).
3. curse … earth—(Mal 4:6). The Gentiles are amenable to the curse of the law, as they have its substance, so far as they have not seared and corrupted conscience, written on their hearts (Ro 2:15).
cut off—literally, "cleared away."
as on this side … as on that side—both sides of the roll [Vatablus]. From this place … from this place (repeated twice, as "the house" is repeated in Zec 5:4) [Maurer]; so "hence" is used, Ge 37:17 (or, "on this and on that side," that is, on every side) [Henderson]. None can escape, sin where he may: for God from one side to the other shall call all without exception to judgment [Calvin]. God will not spare even "this place," Jerusalem, when it sins [Pembellus]. English Version seems to take Vatablus' view.
according to it—according as it is written.
4. The "theft" immediately meant is similar sacrilege to that complained of in Ne 13:10; Mal 3:8. They robbed God by neglecting to give Him His due in building His house, while they built their own houses, forswearing their obligations to Him; therefore, the "houses" they build shall be "consumed" with God's "curse." Probably literal theft and perjury accompanied their virtual theft and perjury as to the temple of God (Mal 3:5). Stealing and perjury go together; for the covetous and fraudulent perjure themselves by God's name without scruple (see Pr 30:9).
enter … the house—In vain they guard and shut themselves up who incur the curse; it will inevitably enter even when they think themselves most secure.
consume … timber … stones—not leaving a vestige of it. So the "stones" and "timber" of the house of a leper (type of the sinner) were to be utterly removed (Le 14:15; compare 1Ki 18:38).
Zec 5:5-11. Seventh Vision. The Woman in the Ephah. Wickedness and idolatry removed from the Holy Land to Babylon, there to mingle with their kindred elements.
The ephah is the Hebrew dry measure containing about a bushel, or seven and a half gallons. Alluding to the previous vision as to theft and perjury: the ephah which, by falsification of the measure, they made the instrument of defrauding, shall be made the instrument of their punishment [Grotius]. Compare "this is their resemblance" (Zec 5:6), that is, this is a representation of what the Jews have done, and what they shall suffer. Their total dispersion ("the land of Shinar" being the emblem of the various Gentile lands of their present dispersion) is herein fortetold, when the measure (to which the ephah alludes) of their sins should be full. The former vision denounces judgment on individuals; this one, on the whole state: but enigmatically, not to discourage their present building [Pembellus]. Rather, the vision is consolatory after the preceding one [Calvin]. Idolatry and its kindred sins, covetousness and fraud (denounced in the vision of the roll), shall be removed far out of the Holy Land to their own congenial soil, never to return (so Zec 3:9; Isa 27:9; 52:1; 60:21; Jer 50:20; Zep 3:13). For more than two thousand years, ever since the Babylonian exile, the Jews have been free from idolatry; but the full accomplishment of the prophecy is yet future, when all sin shall be purged from Israel on their return to Palestine, and conversion to Christ.
5. went forth—The interpreting angel had withdrawn after the vision of the roll to receive a fresh revelation from the Divine Angel to communicate to the prophet.
6. This is their resemblance—literally, "eye" (compare Eze 1:4, 5, 16). Hengstenberg translates, "Their (the people's) eye" was all directed to evil. But English Version is better. "This is the appearance (that is, an image) of the Jews in all the land" (not as English Version, "in all the earth"), that is, of the wicked Jews.
This—Here used of what was within the ephah, not the ephah itself.
7. lifted up—The cover is lifted off the ephah to let the prophet see the female personification of "wickedness" within, about to be removed from Judea. The cover being "of lead," implies that the "woman" cannot escape from the ponderous load which presses her down.
talent—literally, "a round piece": hence a talent, a weight of one hundred twenty-five pounds troy.
woman—for comparison of "wickedness" to a woman, Pr 2:16; 5:3, 4. In personifying abstract terms, the feminine is used, as the idea of giving birth to life is associated with woman.
8. wickedness—literally, "the wickedness": implying wickedness in its peculiar development. Compare "the man of sin," 2Th 2:3.
cast it—that is, her, Wickedness, who had moved more freely while the heavy lid was partially lifted off.
weight—literally, "stone," that is, round mass.
9. The agents to carry away the "woman" are, consistently with the image, "women." God makes the wicked themselves the agents of punishing and removing wickedness. "Two" are employed, as one is not enough to carry such a load [Maurer]. Or, the Assyrians and Babylonians, who carried away idolatry in the persons, respectively, of Israel and Judah [Henderson]. As two "anointed ones" (Zec 4:14) stand by the Lord as His ministers, so two winged women execute His purpose here in removing the embodiment of "wickedness": answering to the "mystery of iniquity" (the Septuagint here in Zechariah uses the same words as Paul and "the man of sin," whom the Lord shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming, 2Th 2:3, 7, 8). Their "wings" express velocity. The "stork" has long and wide wings, for which reason it is specified; also it is a migratory bird. The "wind" helps the rapid motion of the wings. The being "lifted up between heaven and earth" implies open execution of the judgment before the eyes of all. As the "woman" here is removed to Babylon as her own dwelling, so the woman in the Apocalypse of St. John is Babylon (Re 17:3-5).
11. To build … house in … Shinar—Babylonia (Ge 10:10), the capital of the God-opposed world kingdoms, and so representing in general the seat of irreligion. As the "building of houses" in Babylon (Jer 29:5, 28) by the Jews themselves expressed their long exile there, so the building of an house for "wickedness" there implies its permanent stay.
set … upon her own base—fixed there as in its proper place. "Wickedness" being cast out of Judah, shall for ever dwell with the antichristian apostates (of whom Babylon is the type), who shall reap the fruit of it, which they deserve.
Zec 6:1-8. Eighth Vision. The Four Chariots.
1. four chariots—symbolizing the various dispensations of Providence towards the Gentile nations which had been more or less brought into contact with Judea; especially in punishing Babylon. Compare Zec 6:8 ("the north country," that is, Babylon); Zec 1:15; 2:6. The number "four" is specified not merely in reference to the four quarters of the horizon (implying universal judgments), but in allusion to the four world kingdoms of Daniel.
from between two mountains—the valley of Jehoshaphat, between Moriah and Mount Olivet [Moore]; or the valley between Zion and Moriah, where the Lord is (Zec 2:10), and whence He sends forth His ministers of judgment on the heathen [Maurer]. The temple on Mount Moriah is the symbol of the theocracy; hence the nearest spot accessible to chariots in the valley below is the most suitable for a vision affecting Judah in relation to the Gentile world powers. The chariot is the symbol of war, and so of judgments.
of brass—the metal among the ancients representing hard solidity; so the immovable and resistless firmness of God's people (compare Jer 1:18). Calvin explains the "two mountains" thus: The secret purpose of God from eternity does not come forth to view before the execution, but is hidden and kept back irresistibly till the fit time, as it were between lofty mountains; the chariots are the various changes wrought in nations, which, as swift heralds, announce to us what before we knew not. The "two" may thus correspond to the number of the "olive trees" (Zec 4:3); the allusion to the "two mountains" near the temple is not necessarily excluded in this view. Henderson explains them to be the Medo-Persian kingdom, represented by the "two horns" (Da 8:3, 4), now employed to execute God's purpose in punishing the nations; but the prophecy reaches far beyond those times.
2. red—implying carnage.
black—representing sorrow; also famine (Re 6:5, 6; compare Zec 1:8).
3. white—implying joy and victory [Calvin].
grizzled—piebald. Implying a mixed dispensation, partly prosperity, partly adversity. All four dispensations, though various in character to the Gentile nation, portended alike good to God's people.
bay—rather, "strong" or "fleet"; so Vulgate [Gesenius]. The horses have this epithet, whose part it was to "walk to and fro through the earth" (Zec 6:7). However, the Septuagint and Chaldee agree with English Version in referring the Hebrew to color, not strength.
4. The prophet humbly and teachably seeks instruction from God, and therefore seeks not in vain.
5. four spirits of the heavens—heavenly spirits who "stand before Jehovah" to receive God's commands (Zec 4:14; 1Ki 22:19; Job 2:1; Lu 1:19) in heaven (of which Zion is the counterpart on earth, see on Zec 6:1), and proceed with chariot speed (2Ki 6:17; Ps 68:17) to execute them on earth in its four various quarters (Ps 104:4; Heb 1:7, 14) [Pembellus]. Or, the secret impulses of God which emanate from His counsel and providence; the prophet implies that all the revolutions in the world are from the Spirit of God and are as it were, His messengers or spirits [Calvin].
6. north country—Babylon (see on Jer 1:14). The north is the quarter specified in particular whence Judah and Israel are hereafter to return to their own land (Zec 2:6; Jer 3:18). "The black horses" go to Babylon, primarily to represent the awful desolation with which Darius visited it in the fifth year of his reign (two years after this prophecy) for revolting [Henderson]. The "white" go after the "black" horses to the same country; two sets being sent to it because of its greater cruelty and guilt in respect to Judea. The white represent Darius triumphant subjugation of it [Moore]. Rather, I think, the white are sent to victoriously subdue Medo-Persia, the second world kingdom, lying in the same quarter as Babylon, namely, north.
grizzled … toward the south—that is, to Egypt, the other great foe of God's people. It, being a part of the Græco-Macedonian kingdom, stands for the whole of it, the third world kingdom.
7. bay—rather, the "fleet" (or "strong"). As the "red" are not otherwise mentioned, the epithet "fleet" (as the Hebrew for "bay" ought to be translated) in Zec 6:3 seems to apply to all four, and here especially to the "red." Their office is to complete hereafter the work already in part executed by the previous three who have stilled Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Græco-Macedonia; namely, to punish finally the last great foe of Israel, the final form assumed by the fourth world kingdom, Rome, which is to continue down to the second advent of Christ. Hence they "walk to and fro through the earth," counterworking Satan's "going to and fro in the earth" (Job 1:7; 2Th 2:8, 9; 1Ti 4:1), in connection with the last awful development of the fourth world kingdom. Their "fleetness" is needed to counteract his restless activity; their red color implies the final great carnage (Eze 39:1-29; Re 19:17, 18, 21).
8. north … quieted … my spirit—that is, caused My anger to rest (Jud 8:3, Margin; Ec 10:4; Eze 5:13; 16:42). Babylon alone of the four great world kingdoms had in Zechariah's time been finally punished; therefore, in its case alone does God now say His anger is satisfied; the others had as yet to expiate their sin; the fourth has still to do so.
Zec 6:9-15. Ninth Vision. The Crowning of Joshua.
The double crown is placed on Joshua's head, symbolizing that the true priesthood and the kingdom shall be conferred on the one Messiah. Compare Heb 6:20; 7:1-21, on Melchisedek, who similarly combined the kingdom and priesthood as type of Messiah.
10. Take of them of the captivity—Take silver and gold (Zec 6:11) from them. The three named came from Babylon (where some of the exiled Jews still were left) to present gifts of silver and gold towards the building of the temple. But in Zec 6:11, 14, "crowns" are directed to be made of them, then to be set on Joshua's head, and to be deposited in the temple as a memorial of the donors, until Messiah shall appear.
Heldai—meaning "robust." Called Helem below.
Tobijah—that is, "the goodness of God."
Jedaiah—that is, "God knows."
which are come from Babylon—This clause in the Hebrew comes after "Josiah son of Zephaniah." Therefore, Moore thinks Josiah as well as the three "came from Babylon." But as he has a "house" at Jerusalem, he is plainly a resident, not a visitor. Therefore English Version is right; or Maurer, "Josiah son of Zephaniah, to whom they are come (as guests) from Babylon."
the same day—No time was to be lost to mark the significancy of their coming from afar to offer gifts to the temple, typifying, in the double crown made of their gifts and set on Joshua's head, the gathering in of Israel's outcasts to Messiah hereafter, who shall then be recognized as the true king and priest.
11. The high priest wore a crown above the miter (Zec 3:5; Le 8:9). Messiah shall wear many crowns, one surmounting the other (Re 19:12). It was a thing before unknown in the Levitical priesthood that the same person should wear at once the crown of a king and that of a high priest (Ps 110:4; Heb 5:10). Messiah shall be revealed fully in this twofold dignity when He shall "restore the kingdom to Israel" (Ac 1:6).
12. Behold, the man—namely, shall arise. Pilate unconsciously spake God's will concerning Him, "Behold the man" (Joh 19:5). The sense here is, "Behold in Joshua a remarkable shadowing forth of Messiah." It is not for his own sake that the crown is placed on him, but as type of Messiah about to be at once king and priest. Joshua could not individually be crowned king, not being of the royal line of David, but only in his representative character.
Branch—(See on Zec 3:8; Isa 4:2; Jer 23:5; 33:15).
he shall grow up out of his place—retaining the image of a "Branch"; "He shall sprout up from His place," that is, the place peculiar to Him: not merely from Beth-lehem or Nazareth, but by His own power, without man's aid, in His miraculous conception [Henderson]; a sense brought out in the original, "from under Himself," or "from (of) Himself" [Calvin]. Moore makes it refer to His growing lowly in His place of obscurity, "as a tender plant and a root out of a dry ground" (Isa 53:2), for thirty years unknown except as the son of a carpenter. Maurer translates, "Under Him there shall be growth (in the Church)." English Version accords better with the Hebrew (compare Ex 10:23). The idea in a Branch is that Christ's glory is growing, not yet fully manifested as a full-grown tree. Therefore men reject Him now.
build the temple—The promise of the future true building of the spiritual temple by Messiah (Mt 16:18; 1Co 3:17; 2Co 6:16; Eph 2:20-22; Heb 3:3) is an earnest to assure the Jews, that the material temple will be built by Joshua and Zerubbabel, in spite of all seeming obstacles. It also raises their thoughts beyond the material to the spiritual temple, and also to the future glorious temple, to be reared in Israel under Messiah's superintendence (Eze 40:1-43:27). The repetition of the same clause (Zec 6:13) gives emphasis to the statement as to Messiah's work.
13. bear the glory—that is, wear the insignia of the kingly glory, "the crowns" (Ps 21:5; 102:16; Isa 52:13). He himself shall bear the glory, not thou, Joshua, though thou dost bear the crowns. The Church's dignity is in her head alone, Christ. So Eliakim, type of Messiah, was to have "all the glory of his father's house hung upon him" (Isa 22:24).
sit—implying security and permanence.
priest … throne—(Ge 14:18; Ps 110:4; Heb 5:6, 10; 6:20; 7:1-28).
counsel of peace … between … both—Joshua and Zerubbabel, the religious and civil authorities co-operating in the temple, typify the peace, or harmonious union, between both the kingly and priestly offices. The kingly majesty shall not depress the priestly dignity, nor the priestly dignity the kingly majesty [Jerome]. The peace of the Church, formerly sought for in the mutual "counsels" of the kings and the priests, who had been always distinct, shall be perfectly ensured by the concurrence of the two offices in the one Messiah, who by His mediatorial priesthood purchases it, and by His kingly rule maintains it. Vitringa takes "His throne" to be Jehovah the Father's. Thus it will be, "there shall be … peace between the Branch and Jehovah" [Ludovicus De Dieu]. The other view is better, namely, "Messiah's throne." As Priest He expiates sin; as King, extirpates it. "Counsel of peace," implies that it is the plan of infinite "wisdom," whence Messiah is called "Counsellor" (Isa 9:6; Eph 1:8, 11; Heb 6:17). Peace between the kingly and priestly attributes of Messiah implies the harmonizing of the conflicting claims of God's justice as a King, and His love as a Father and Priest. Hence is produced peace to man (Lu 2:14; Ac 10:36; Eph 2:13-17). It is only by being pardoned through His atonement and ruled by His laws, that we can find "peace." The royal "throne" was always connected with the "temple," as is the case in the Apocalypse (Re 7:15), because Christ is to be a king on His throne and a priest, and because the people, whose "king" the Lord is, cannot approach Him except by a priestly mediation [Roos]. Jesus shall come to effect, by His presence (Isa 11:4; Da 7:17), that which in vain is looked for, in His absence, by other means. He shall exercise His power mediatorially as priest on His throne (Zec 6:13); therefore His reign is for a limited period, which it could not be if it were the final and everlasting state of glory. But being for a special purpose, to reconcile all things in this world, now disordered by sin, and so present it to God the Father that He may again for the first time since the fall come into direct connection with His creatures; therefore it is limited, forming the dispensation in the fulness of times (Eph 1:10), when God shall gather in one all things in Christ, the final end of which shall be, "God all in all" (1Co 15:24-28).
14. the crowns shall be to Helem … a memorial—deposited in the temple, to the honor of the donors; a memorial, too, of the coronation of Joshua, to remind all of Messiah, the promised antitypical king-priest, soon to come. Helem, the same as Heldai above. So Hen (that is, "favor") is another name for Josiah (that is, "God founds") above. The same person often had two names.
15. they … far off shall … build—The reason why the crowns were made of gold received from afar, namely, from the Jews of Babylon, was to typify the conversion of the Gentiles to Messiah, King of Israel. This, too, was included in the "peace" spoken of in Zec 6:13 (Ac 2:39; Eph 2:12-17). Primarily, however, the return of the dispersed Israelites "from afar" (Isa 60:9) to the king of the Jews at Jerusalem is intended, to be followed, secondly, by the conversion of the Gentiles from "far off" (Zec 2:11; 8:2-2, 23; Isa 60:10; 57:19).
build in the temple—Christ "builds the temple" (Zec 6:12, 13; Heb 3:3, 4): His people "build in the temple." Compare Heb 3:2, "Moses in His house."
ye shall know, &c.—when the event corresponds to the prediction (Zec 2:9; 4:9).
this shall come to pass, if ye … obey, &c.—To the Jews of Zechariah's day a stimulus is given to diligent prosecution of the temple building, the work which it was meanwhile their duty to fulfil, relying on the hope of the Messiah afterwards to glorify it. The completion of the temple shall "come to pass," if ye diligently on your part "obey the Lord." It is not meant that their unbelief could set aside God's gracious purpose as to Messiah's coming. But there is, secondarily, meant, that Messiah's glory as priest-king of Israel shall not be manifested to the Jews till they turn to Him with obedient penitence. They meanwhile are cast away "branches" until they be grafted in again on the Branch and their own olive tree (Zec 3:8; 12:10-12; Mt 23:39; Ro 11:16-24).
Zec 7:1-14. II. Didactic Part, Seventh and Eighth chapters. Obedience, Rather than Fasting, Enjoined: Its Reward.
1. fourth year of … Darius—two years after the previous prophecies (Zec 1:1, &c.).
Chisleu—meaning "torpidity," the state in which nature is in November, answering to this month.
2. they … sent unto … house of God—The Jews of the country sent to the house of God or congregation at Jerusalem. The altar was long since reared (Ezr 3:3), though the temple was not completed till two years afterwards (Ezr 6:15). The priests' duty was to give decision on points of the law (De 17:9; Mt 2:4). Beth-el is here used instead of Beth-Jehovah, because the religious authorities, rather than the house itself (designated "Beth-Jehovah" in Zec 7:3), are intended. The old Beth-el had long ceased to be the seat of idol-worship, so that the name had lost its opprobrious meaning. "The house of the Lord" is used for the congregation of worshippers headed by their priests (Zec 3:7; Ho 8:1). Maurer makes the "house of God" nominative to "sent." Henderson makes "Beth-el" so.
Sherezer—an Assyrian name meaning, "Prefect of the treasury."
Regemmelech—meaning, "The king's official." These names perhaps intimate the semi-heathen character of the inquirers, which may also be implied in the name "Beth-el" (Hebrew for "house of God"), so notorious once for its calf-worship. They sent to Jehovah's house as their forefathers sent to old Beth-el, not in the spirit of true obedience.
pray before the Lord—literally, "to entreat the face of," that is, to offer sacrifices, the accompaniment of prayers, to conciliate His favor (1Sa 13:12).
3. Should I weep in the fifth month—"I" represents here the people of God (compare Zec 8:21). This rather favors Maurer's view, taking "the house of God," the congregation, as nominative to "sent." Their hypocrisy appeared because they showed more concern about a ceremony of human institution (not improper in itself) than about moral obedience. If, too, they had trusted God's promise as to the restoration of Church and State, the fast would have now given place to joy, for which there was more cause than for grief [Pembellus].
to the prophets—Haggai and Zechariah especially. The tenth day of the fifth month was kept a fast, being the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem (Jer 52:12-14). They ask, Should the fast be continued, now that the temple and city are being restored?
separating myself—sanctifying myself by separation, not only from food, but from all defilements (compare Joe 2:16) as was usual in a solemn fast.
5. Speak unto all—The question had been asked in the name of the people in general by Sherezer and Regemmelech. The self-imposed fast they were tired of, not having observed it in the spirit of true religion.
seventh month—This fast was in memory of the murder of Gedaliah and those with him at Mizpah, issuing in the dispersion of the Jews (2Ki 25:25, 26; Jer 41:1-3).
did ye … fast unto me?—No; it was to gratify yourselves in hypocritical will-worship. If it had been "unto Me," ye would have "separated yourselves" not only from food, but from your sins (Isa 58:3-7). They falsely made the fast an end intrinsically meritorious in itself, not a means towards God's glory in their sanctification. The true principle of piety, reference to God, was wanting: hence the emphatic repetition of "unto Me." Before settling questions as to the outward forms of piety (however proper, as in this case), the great question was as to piety itself; that being once settled, all their outward observances become sanctified, being "unto the Lord" (Ro 14:6).
6. did not ye eat for yourselves?—literally, "Is it not ye who eat?" that is, it is not unto Me and My glory. It tends no more to My glory, your feasting than your fasting.
7. Should ye not hear the words—rather, "Should ye not do the words," as their question naturally was as to what they should do (Zec 7:3); "hearing" is not mentioned till Zec 7:12. The sense is, It is not fasts that Jehovah requires of you, but that ye should keep His precepts given to you at the time when Jerusalem was in its integrity. Had ye done so then, ye would have had no occasion to institute fasts to commemorate its destruction, for it would never have been destroyed (Zec 7:9-14) [Maurer]. Or, as the Margin, "Are not these the words" of the older prophets (Isa 58:3; Jer 14:12) which threatened a curse for disobedience, which the event has so awfully confirmed. If ye follow them in sin, ye must follow them in suffering. English Version is good sense: Ye inquire anxiously about the fasts, whereas ye ought to be anxious about hearing the lesson taught by the former prophets and verified in the nation's punishment; penitence and obedience are required rather than fasts.
the plain—southwest of Jerusalem. They then inhabited securely the region most unguarded.
9. speaketh—implying that these precepts addressed to their ancestors were the requirements of Jehovah not merely then, but now. We must not only not hurt, but we must help our fellow men. God is pleased with such loving obedience, rather than with empty ceremonies.
10. imagine evil—that is, devise evil. The Septuagint takes it, Harbor not the desire of revenge (Le 19:18). "Devise evil against one another" is simpler (Ps 36:4; Mic 2:1).
11. pulled away the shoulder—literally, "presented a refractory shoulder"; an image from beasts refusing to bear the yoke (Ne 9:29, Margin).
stopped … ears—(Isa 6:10; Jer 7:26; Ac 7:57).
12. hearts … adamant—(Eze 3:9; 11:19).
Lord … sent in Spirit by … prophets—that is, sent by the former prophets inspired with His Spirit.
therefore … great wrath—(2Ch 36:16). As they pushed from them the yoke of obedience, God laid on them the yoke of oppression. As they made their heart hard as adamant, God brake their hard hearts with judgments. Hard hearts must expect hard treatment. The harder the stone, the harder the blow of the hammer to break it.
13. he cried—by His prophets.
they cried—in their calamities.
I … not hear—retribution in kind (Pr 1:24-26; Isa 1:15; Mic 3:4).
14. whirlwind—of wrath (Na 1:3).
nations whom they knew not—foreign and barbarous.
desolate after them—after their expulsion and exile. It was ordered remarkably by God's providence, that no occupants took possession of it, but that during the Jews' absence it was reserved for them against their return after seventy years.
they laid … desolate—The Jews did so by their sins. The blame of their destruction lay with themselves, rather than with the Babylonians (2Ch 36:21).
pleasant land—Canaan. Literally, "the land of desire" (Jer 3:19).
Zec 8:1-23. Continuation of the Subject in the Seventh Chapter. After urging them to obedience by the fate of their fathers, he urges them to it by promises of coming prosperity.
2. jealous for Zion—(Zec 1:14).
with great fury—against her oppressors.
3. I am returned—that is, I am determined to return. My decree to that effect is gone forth.
Jerusalem … city of truth—that is, faithful to her God, who is the God of truth (Isa 1:21, 26; Joh 17:17). Never yet fully fulfilled, therefore still to be so.
the mountain of the Lord—(Isa 2:2, 3).
holy mountain—(Jer 31:23).
4. So tranquil and prosperous shall the nation be that wars shall no longer prematurely cut off the people: men and women shall reach advanced ages. The promise of long life was esteemed one of the greatest blessings in the Jewish theocracy with its temporal rewards of obedience (Ex 20:12; De 4:40). Hence this is a leading feature in millennial blessedness (Isa 65:20, 22).
for very age—literally, "for multitude of days."
5. boys and girls playing—implying security and a numerous progeny, accounted a leading blessing among the Jews. Contrast Jer 6:11; 9:21.
6. However impossible these things just promised by Me seem to you, they are not so with God. The "remnant" that had returned from the captivity, beholding the city desolate and the walls and houses in ruins, could hardly believe what God promised. The expression "remnant" glances at their ingratitude in rating so low God's power, though they had experienced it so "marvellously" displayed in their restoration. A great source of unbelief is, men "limit" God's power by their own (Ps 78:19, 20, 41).
these days—"of small things" (Zec 4:10), when such great things promised seemed incredible. Maurer, after Jerome, translates, "in those days"; that is, if the thing which I promised to do in those days, seems "marvellous," &c.
7. save my people from … east … west—that is, from every region (compare Ps 50:1; the "West" is literally, "the going down of the sun") to which they are scattered; they are now found especially in countries west of Jerusalem. The dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar was only to the east, namely, to Babylonia. The restoration, including a spiritual return to God (Zec 8:8), here foretold, must therefore be still future (Isa 11:11, 12; 43:5, 6; Eze 37:21; Am 9:14, 15; also Zec 13:9; Jer 30:22; 31:1, 33).
8. in truth—in good faith, both on their side and Mine: God being faithful to His everlasting covenant and enabling them by His Spirit to be faithful to Him.
9-13. All adversities formerly attended them when neglecting to build the temple: but now God promises all blessings, as an encouragement to energy in the work.
hands … strong—be of courageous mind (2Sa 16:21), not merely in building, but in general, as having such bright prospects (Zec 8:13, &c.).
these days—the time that had elapsed between the prophet's having spoken "these words" and the time (Zec 8:10; compare Hag 2:15-19) when they set about in earnest restoring the temple.
the prophets—Haggai and Zechariah himself (Ezr 5:1, 2). The same prophets who promised prosperity at the foundation of the temple, now promised still greater blessings hereafter.
10. before these days—before the time in which ye again proceeded with the building of the temple (Zec 8:9), namely, at the time that the temple lay neglected.
no hire for man … beast—that is, no produce of the field to repay the labor of man and beast on it (Hag 1:6, 9, 10; 2:16).
neither … peace to him that went out or came in—(2Ch 15:5). No one could in safety do his business at home or abroad, in the city or in the country, whether going or returning.
because of the affliction—so sorely pressed were they by the foe outside. Maurer translates, "Because of the foe" (Ezr 4:1).
every one against … neighbour—There was internal discord, as well as foes from without.
11. "But now that the temple has been built, I will not do as I had formerly done to those who returned from Babylon" [Jerome]. Henceforth I will bless you.
12. seed … prosperous—that is, shall not fair to yield abundantly (Ho 2:21, 22; Hag 2:19). Contrast with this verse Hag 1:6, 9-11; 2:16.
dew—especially beneficial in hot countries where rain is rare.
13. a curse—As the heathen have made you another name for "a curse," wishing to their foes as bad a lot as yours (Jer 24:9; 29:18); so your name shall be a formula of blessing, so that men shall say to their friend, May thy lot be as happy as that of Judah (Ge 48:20). Including also the idea of the Jews being a source of blessing to the Gentile nations (Mic 5:7; Zep 3:20). The distinct mention of "Judah" and "Israel" proves that the prophecy has not yet had its full accomplishment, as Israel (the ten tribes) has never yet been restored, though individuals of Israel returned with Judah.
14. I thought—I determined.
you—that is, your fathers, with whom ye are one; the Jewish Church of all ages being regarded as an organic whole (compare Hag 2:5; Mt 23:31, 32).
repented not—I changed not My purpose, because they changed not their mind (2Ch 36:16). With the froward God shows Himself froward (Ps 18:26). If the threatened punishment has been so unchangeably inflicted, much more will God surely give the promised blessing, which is so much more consonant to His nature (Jer 31:28).
16, 17. The promised blessings are connected with obedience. God's covenanted grace will lead those truly blessed by it to holiness, not licentiousness.
truth to … neighbour—not that the truth should not be spoken to foreigners too; but He makes it an aggravation of their sin, that they spared not even their brethren. Besides, and above all outward ordinances (Zec 7:3), God requires truth and justice.
judgment of … peace—Equitable decisions tend to allay feuds and produce peace.
gates—the place where courts of judicature in the East were held.
17. all these … I hate—therefore ye too ought to hate them. Religion consists in conformity to God's nature, that we should love what God loves and hate what God hates.
18, 19. The prophet answers the query (Zec 7:3) as to the fast in the fifth month, by a reply applying to all their fasts: these are to be turned into days of rejoicing. So Jesus replied to His disciples when similarly consulting Him as to why fasting was not imposed by Him, as it was by John the Baptist. When the Sun of righteousness shines, tears are dried up (Mt 9:15). So hereafter (Isa 35:10).
19. fast of … fourth month—On the fourth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, on the ninth day, Jerusalem was taken (Jer 39:2; 52:6, 7). It was therefore made a fast day.
fifth … seventh—(See on Zec 7:3; Zec 7:5).
tenth—On the tenth month and tenth day, in the ninth year of Zedekiah, the siege began (Jer 52:4).
therefore love the truth—or, "only love." English Version is better. God's blessing covenanted to Israel is not made to depend on Israel's goodness: but Israel's goodness should follow as the consequence of God's gracious promises (Zec 8:16, 17; Zec 7:9, 10). God will bless, but not those who harden themselves in sin.
20. (Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2).
Thus saith the Lord of hosts—a preface needed to assure the Jews, now disheartened by the perils surrounding them, and by the humble aspect of the temple. "Unlikely as what follows may seem to you, Jehovah of hosts, boundless in resources, saith it, therefore it shall be so." Just before Christ's coming, a feeling grew up among the heathen of the unsatisfactoriness of their systems of religion and philosophy; this disposed them favorably towards the religion of the Jew, so that proselytes embraced the worship of Jehovah from various parts of Asia; these again were predisposed to embrace Christianity when it was preached to them (Ac 2:9-12, 41). But the full accomplishment of the conversion of the Gentiles foretold here is reserved till "Jerusalem" (Zec 8:22) becomes the center of Christianized Jewry (Ro 11:12, 15).
21. Let us … I—manifesting zeal and love: converted themselves, they seek the conversion of others (So 1:4). To exhortation in general ("Let us go"), they add individual example ("I will go"). Or, the change from plural to singular implies that the general consent in religious earnestness leads each individual to decide for God.
go speedily—literally, "go, going"; implying intense earnestness.
pray—Hebrew, "entreat the face" (Zec 7:2); entreat His favor and grace.
22. many … strong nations … in Jerusalem—In contrast to the few and weak Jews now building the temple and city, then such shall be their influence that many and strong nations shall come to worship Jehovah their God in Jerusalem (Isa 60:3; 66:23).
23. ten—a definite number for an indefinite. So in Le 22:26; Nu 14:22.
of all languages of the nations—that is, of nations of all languages (compare Isa 66:18; Re 7:9).
take hold of the skirt—a gesture of suppliant entreaty as to a superior. Compare Isa 3:6; 4:1, on a different occasion. The Gentiles shall eagerly seek to share the religious privileges of the Jew. The skirt with a fringe and blue ribbon upon it (Nu 15:38; De 22:12) was a distinguishing badge of a Jew.
God is with you—the effect produced on unbelievers in entering the assemblies of the Church (1Co 14:25). But primarily, that produced on the nations in witnessing the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus. Finally, that to be produced on the nations by the future grand interposition of Messiah in behalf of His people.
Zec 9:1-17. Ninth to Fourteenth Chapters Are Prophetical.
Written long after the previous portions of the book, whence arise the various features which have been made grounds for attacking their authenticity, notwithstanding the testimony of the Septuagint and of the compilers of the Jewish canon in their favor. See Introduction.
Alexander's Conquests in Syria (Zec 9:1-8). God's People Safe because Her King Cometh Lowly, but a Saviour (Zec 9:9-10). The Maccabean Deliverance a Type Thereof (Zec 9:11-17).
1. in … Hadrach—rather, concerning or against Hadrach (compare Isa 21:13). "Burden" means a prophecy BURDENED with wrath against the guilty. Maurer, not so well, explains it, What is taken up and uttered, the utterance, a solemn declaration.
Hadrach—a part of Syria, near Damascus. As the name is not mentioned in ancient histories, it probably was the less-used name of a region having two names ("Hadrach" and "Bikathaven," Am 1:5, Margin); hence it passed into oblivion. An ancient Rabbi Jose is, however, stated to have expressly mentioned it. An Arab, Jos. Abassi, in 1768 also declared to Michaelis that there was then a town of that name, and that it was capital of the region Hadrach. The name means "enclosed" in Syrian, that is, the west interior part of Syria, enclosed by hills, the Cœlo-Syria of Strabo [Maurer]. Jerome considers Hadrach to be the metropolis of Cœlo-Syria, as Damascus was of the region about that city. Hengstenberg regards Hadrach as a symbolical name of Persia, which Zechariah avoids designating by its proper name so as not to offend the government under which he lived. But the context seems to refer to the Syrian region. Gesenius thinks that the name is that of a Syrian king, which might more easily pass into oblivion than that of a region. Compare the similar "land of Sihon," Ne 9:22.
Damascus … rest thereof—that is, the place on which the "burden" of the Lord's wrath shall rest. It shall permanently settle on it until Syria is utterly prostrate. Fulfilled under Alexander the Great, who overcame Syria [Curtius, Books 3 and 4].
eyes of man, as of all … Israel … toward the Lord—The eyes of men in general, and of all Israel in particular, through consternation at the victorious progress of Alexander, shall be directed to Jehovah. The Jews, when threatened by him because of Jaddua the high priest's refusal to swear fealty to him, prayed earnestly to the Lord, and so were delivered (2Ch 20:12; Ps 23:2). Typical of the effect of God's judgments hereafter on all men, and especially on the Jews in turning them to Him. Maurer, Pembellus and others, less probably translate, "The eyes of the Lord are upon man, as they are upon all Israel," namely, to punish the ungodly and to protect His people. He, who has chastised His people, will not fail to punish men for their sins severely. The "all," I think, implies that whereas men's attention generally (whence "man" is the expression) was directed to Jehovah's judgments, all Israel especially looks to Him.
2. Hamath—a Syrian kingdom with a capital of the same name, north of Damascus.
shall border thereby—shall be joined to Damascus in treatment, as it is in position; shall share in the burden of wrath of which Damascus is the resting-place. Maurer understands "which"; "Hamath, which borders on Damascus, also shall be the resting-place of Jehovah's wrath" (the latter words being supplied from Zec 9:1). Riblah, the scene of the Jews' sufferings from their foe, was there: it therefore shall suffer (2Ki 23:33; 25:6, 7, 20, 21).
Tyrus … Zidon—lying in the conqueror's way on his march along the Mediterranean to Egypt (compare Isa 23:1-18). Zidon, the older city, surrendered, and Abdolonymus was made its viceroy.
very wise—in her own eyes. Referring to Tyre: Zec 9:3 shows wherein her wisdom consisted, namely, in building a stronghold, and heaping up gold and silver (Eze 38:3, 5, 12, 17). On Alexander's expressing his wish to sacrifice in Hercules' temple in New Tyre on the island, she showed her wisdom in sending a golden crown, and replying that the true and ancient temple of Hercules was at Old Tyre on the mainland. With all her wisdom she cannot avert her doom.
3. The heathen historian, Diodorus Siculus [17.40], confirms this. "Tyre had the greatest confidence owing to her insular position and fortifications, and the abundant stores she had prepared." New Tyre was on an island seven hundred paces from the shore. As Isaiah's and Ezekiel's (Eze 27:1-36) prophecies were directed against Old Tyre on the mainland and were fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, so Zechariah's are against New Tyre, which was made seemingly impregnable by a double wall one hundred fifty feet high, as well as the sea on all sides.
4. (Eze 26:4, 12; 27:27).
cast her out—Hebrew, "dispossess her," that is, will cast her inhabitants into exile [Grotius]. Alexander, though without a navy, by incredible labor constructed a mole of the ruins of Old Tyre (fulfilling Eze 26:4-12, &c., by "scraping her dust from her," and "laying her stones, timber, and dust in the midst of the water"), from the shore to the island, and, after a seven months' siege, took the city by storm, slew with the sword about eight thousand, enslaved thirteen thousand, crucified two thousand, and set the city on "fire," as here foretold [Curtius, Book 4].
smite her power in the sea—situated though she be in the sea, and so seeming impregnable (compare Eze 28:2, "I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the sea"). "Her power" includes not only her fortifications, but her fleet, all of which Alexander sank in the sea before her very walls [Curtius, Book 4]. Eze 26:17 corresponds, "How art thou destroyed which wast strong in the sea!"
5. Ashkelon, &c.—Gath alone is omitted, perhaps as being somewhat inland, and so out of the route of the advancing conqueror.
Ekron … expectation … ashamed—Ekron, the farthest north of the Philistine cities, had expected Tyre would withstand Alexander, and so check his progress southward through Philistia to Egypt. This hope being confounded ("put to shame"), Ekron shall "fear."
king shall perish from Gaza—Its government shall be overthrown. In literal fulfilment of this prophecy, after a two month's siege, Gaza was taken by Alexander, ten thousand of its inhabitants slain, and the rest sold as slaves. Betis the satrap, or petty "king," was bound to a chariot by thongs thrust through the soles of his feet, and dragged round the city.
6. bastard—not the rightful heir; vile and low men, such as are bastards (De 23:2) [Grotius]. An alien; so the Septuagint; implying the desolation of the region wherein men shall not settle, but sojourn in only as aliens passing through [Calvin].
7. take … his blood out of … mouth—Blood was forbidden as food (Ge 9:4; Le 7:26).
abominations—things sacrificed to idols and then partaken of by the worshippers (Nu 25:2; Ac 15:29). The sense is, "I will cause the Philistines to cease from the worship of idols."
even he shall be for our God—"even he," like Hamath, Damascus, Tyre, &c., which, these words imply, shall also be converted to God (Isa 56:3, "son of the stranger joined himself to the Lord") [Rosenmuller]. The "even," however, may mean, Besides the Hebrews, "even" the Philistine shall worship Jehovah (so Isa 56:8) [Maurer].
he shall be as a governor in Judah—On the conversion of the Philistine prince, he shall have the same dignity "in Judah as a governor"; there shall be no distinction [Henderson]. The Philistine princes with their respective states shall equally belong to the Jews' communion, as if they were among the "governors" of states "in Judah" [Maurer].
Ekron as a Jebusite—The Jebusites, the original inhabitants of Jerusalem, who, when subjugated by David, were incorporated with the Jews (2Sa 24:16, &c.), and enjoyed their privileges: but in a subordinate position civilly (1Ki 9:20, 21). The Jebusites' condition under Solomon being that of bond-servants and tributaries, Calvin explains the verse differently: "I will rescue the Jew from the teeth of the Philistine foe (image from wild beasts rending their prey with their teeth), who would have devoured him, as he would devour blood or flesh of his abominable sacrifices to idols: and even he, the seemingly ignoble remnant of the Jews, shall be sacred to our God (consecrated by His favor); and though so long bereft of dignity, I will make them to be as governors ruling others, and Ekron shall be a tributary bond-servant as the Jebusite? Thus the antithesis is between the Jew that remaineth (the elect remnant) and the Ekronite.
8. encamp about—(Ps 34:7).
mine house—namely, the Jewish people (Zec 3:7; Ho 8:1) [Maurer]. Or, the temple: reassuring the Jews engaged in building, who might otherwise fear their work would be undone by the conqueror [Moore]. The Jews were, in agreement with this prophecy, uninjured by Alexander, though he punished the Samaritans. Typical of their final deliverance from every foe.
passeth by … returneth—Alexander, when advancing against Jerusalem, was arrested by a dream, so that neither in "passing by" to Egypt, nor in "returning," did he injure the Jews, but conferred on them great privileges.
no oppressor … pass through … any more—The prophet passes from the immediate future to the final deliverance to come (Isa 60:18; Eze 28:24).
seen with mine eyes—namely, how Jerusalem has been oppressed by her foes [Rosenmuller] (Ex 3:7; 2:25). God is said now to have seen, because He now begins to bring the foe to judgment, and manifests to the world His sense of His people's wrongs.
9. From the coming of the Grecian conqueror, Zechariah makes a sudden transition, by the prophetical law of suggestion, to the coming of King Messiah, a very different character.
daughter of Zion—The theocratic people is called to "rejoice" at the coming of her King (Ps 2:11).
unto thee—He comes not for His own gain or pleasure, as earthly kings come, but for the sake of His Church: especially for the Jews' sake, at His second coming (Ro 11:26).
he is just—righteous: an attribute constantly given to Messiah (Isa 45:21; 53:11; Jer 23:5, 6) in connection with salvation. He does not merely pardon by conniving at sin, but He justifies by becoming the Lord our righteousness fulfiller, so that not merely mercy, but justice, requires the justification of the sinner who by faith becomes one with Christ. God's justice is not set aside by the sinner's salvation, but is magnified and made honorable by it (Isa 42:1, 21). His future reign "in righteousness," also, is especially referred to (Isa 32:1).
having salvation—not passively, as some interpret it, "saved," which the context, referring to a "king" coming to reign, forbids; also the old versions, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, give Saviour. The Hebrew is reflexive in sense, "showing Himself a Saviour; … having salvation in Himself" for us. Endowed with a salvation which He bestows as a king. Compare Margin, "saving Himself." Compare Mt 1:21, in the Greek, "Himself shall save His people"; that is, not by any other, but by Himself shall He save [Pearson On the Creed]. His "having salvation" for others manifested that He had in Himself that righteousness which was indispensable for the justification of the unrighteous (1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21; 1Jo 2:1). This contrasts beautifully with the haughty Grecian conqueror who came to destroy, whereas Messiah came to save. Still, Messiah shall come to take "just" vengeance on His foes, previous to His reign of peace (Mal 4:1, 2).
lowly—mild, gentle: corresponding to His "riding on an ass" (not a despised animal, as with us; nor a badge of humiliation, for princes in the East rode on asses, as well as low persons, Jud 5:10), that is, coming as "Prince of peace" (Zec 9:10; Isa 9:6); the "horse," on the contrary is the emblem of war, and shall therefore be "cut off." Perhaps the Hebrew includes both the "lowliness" of His outward state (which applies to His first coming) and His "meekness" of disposition, as Mt 21:5 quotes it (compare Mt 11:29), which applies to both His comings. Both adapt Him for loving sympathy with us men; and at the same time are the ground of His coming manifested exaltation (Joh 5:27; Php 2:7-9).
colt—untamed, "whereon yet never man sat" (Lu 19:30). The symbol of a triumphant conqueror and judge (Jud 5:10; 10:4; 12:14).
foal of an ass—literally, "asses": in Hebrew idiom, the indefinite plural for singular (so Ge 8:4, "mountains of Ararat," for one of the mountains). The dam accompanied the colt (Mt 21:2). The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at His first coming is a pledge of the full accomplishment of this prophecy at His second coming. It shall be "the day of the Lord" (Ps 118:24), as that first Palm Sunday was. The Jews shall then universally (Ps 118:26) say, what some of them said then, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (compare Mt 21:9, with Mt 23:39); also "Hosanna," or "Save now, I beseech thee." "Palms," the emblem of triumph, shall then also be in the hands of His people (compare Joh 12:13, with Re 7:9, 10). Then also, as on His former entry, shall be the feast of tabernacles (at which they used to draw water from Siloam, quoting Isa 12:3). Compare Ps 118:15, with Zec 14:16.
10. (Isa 2:4; Ho 2:18; Mic 5:10).
Ephraim … Jerusalem—the ten tribes, and Judah and Benjamin; both alike to be restored hereafter.
speak peace—command it authoritatively.
dominion … from sea … river … ends of … earth—fulfilling Ge 15:18; Ex 23:31; and Ps 72:8. "Sea … sea," are the Red Sea and Mediterranean. The "river" is the Euphrates. Jerusalem and the Holy Land, extended to the limits promised to Abraham, are to be the center of His future dominion; whence it will extend to the remotest parts of the earth.
11. As for thee also—that is, the daughter of Zion," or "Jerusalem" (Zec 9:9): the theocracy. The "thee also," in contradistinction to Messiah spoken of in Zec 9:10, implies that besides cutting off the battle-bow and extending Messiah's "dominion to the ends of the earth," God would also deliver for her her exiled people from their foreign captivity.
by the blood of thy covenant—that is, according to the covenant vouchsafed to thee on Sinai, and ratified by the blood of sacrifices (Ex 24:8; Heb 9:18-20).
pit wherein … no water—Dungeons were often pits without water, miry at the bottom, such as Jeremiah sank in when confined (Ge 37:24; Jer 38:6). An image of the misery of the Jewish exiles in Egypt, Greece, &c., under the successors of Alexander, especially under Antiochus Epiphanes, who robbed and profaned the temple, slew thousands, and enslaved more. God delivered them by the Maccabees. A type of the future deliverance from their last great persecutor hereafter (Isa 51:14; 60:1).
12. stronghold—in contrast to the "pit" (Zec 9:11); literally, "a place cut off from access." Maurer thinks, "a height" (Ps 18:33). An image for the security which the returning Jews shall have in Messiah (Zec 9:8) encamped about His people (Ps 46:1, 5; compare Isa 49:9; Pr 18:10).
prisoners of hope—that is, who in spite of afflictions (Job 13:15; Ps 42:5, 11) maintain hope in the covenant-keeping God; in contrast to unbelievers, who say, "There is no hope" (Jer 2:25; 18:12). Especially those Jews who believe God's word to Israel (Jer 31:17), "there is hope in the end, that thy children shall come again to their own border," and do not say, as in Eze 37:11, "Our hope is lost." Primarily, the Jews of Zechariah's time are encouraged not to be dispirited in building by their trials; secondarily, the Jews before the coming restoration are encouraged to look to Messiah for deliverance from their last oppressors.
even to-day—when your circumstances seem so unpromising; in contrast with the "day of the Lord," when Zion's King shall come to her deliverance (Zec 9:9).
I will render double—Great as has been thy adversity, thy prosperity shall be doubly greater (Isa 61:7).
13. bent Judah—made Judah as it were My bow, and "filled" it "with Ephraim," as My arrow, wherewith to overcome the successor of the Grecian Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes (compare Notes, see on Da 8:9; Da 11:32; 1 Maccabees 1:62; 2:41-43), the oppressor of Judah. Having spoken (Zec 9:1-8) of Alexander's victories, after the parenthesis (Zec 9:9, 10) as to Messiah the infinitely greater King coming, he passes to the victories which God would enable Judah to gain over Alexander's successor, after his temporary oppression of them.
O Zion … O Greece—God on one hand addresses Zion, on the other Greece, showing that He rules all people.
14. Another image: "Jehovah shall be seen (conspicuously manifesting His power) over them" (that is, in behalf of the Jews and against their foes), as formerly He appeared in a cloud over the Israelites against the Egyptians (Ex 14:19, 24).
his arrow … as … lightning—flashing forth instantaneous destruction to the foe (Ps 18:14).
blow … trumpet—to summon and incite His people to battle for the destruction of their foe.
go with whirlwinds of the south—that is, go forth in the most furious storm, such as is one from the south (Isa 21:1). Alluding, perhaps, to Jehovah's ancient miracles at Sinai coming "from Teman" ("the south," in the Margin).
15. devour—the flesh of their foes.
drink—the blood of their foes; that is, utterly destroy them. Image (as Jer 46:10) from a sacrifice, wherein part of the flesh was eaten, and the blood poured in libation (compare Isa 63:1, &c.).
subdue with sling-stones—or, "tread under foot the sling-stones" hurled by the foe at them; that is, will contemptuously trample on the hostile missiles which shall fall harmless under their feet (compare Job 41:28). Probably, too, it is implied that their foes are as impotent as the common stones used in slinging when they have fallen under foot: in contrast to the people of God (Zec 9:16), "the (precious) stones of a crown" (compare 1Sa 25:29) [Maurer]. English Version is good sense: The Jews shall subdue the foe at the first onset, with the mere slingers who stood in front of the line of battle and began the engagement. Though armed with but sling-stones, like David against Goliath, they shall subdue the foe (Jud 20:16; 1Ch 12:2) [Grotius].
noise—the battle shout.
through wine—(Zec 10:7). The Spirit of God fills them with triumph (Eph 5:18).
like bowls—the bowls used to receive the blood of the sacrifices.
as … corners—or "horns" of the altar, which used to be sprinkled with blood from the bowls (Ex 29:12; Le 4:18).
16. save them … as the flock of his people—as the flock of His people ought to be saved (Ps 77:20). Here the image of war and bloodshed (Zec 9:15) is exchanged for the shepherd and flock, as God will give not only victory, but afterwards safe and lasting peace. In contrast to the worthless sling-stones trodden under foot stand the (gems) "stones of the crown (Isa 62:3; Mal 3:17), lifted up as an ensign," that all may flock to the Jewish Church (Isa 11:10, 12; 62:10).
17. his goodness … his beauty—the goodness and beauty which Jehovah-Messiah bestows on His people. Not as Maurer thinks, the goodness, &c., of His land or His people (Ps 31:19; Jer 31:12).
make … cheerful—literally, "make it grow."
new wine the maids—supply, "shall make … to grow." Corn and wine abundant indicate peace and plenty. The new wine gladdening the maids is peculiar to this passage. It confutes those who interdict the use of wine as food. The Jews, heretofore straitened in provisions through pressure of the foe, shall now have abundance to cheer, not merely the old, but even the youths and maidens [Calvin].
Zec 10:1-12. Prayer and Promise.
Call to prayer to Jehovah, as contrasted with the idol-worship which had brought judgments on the princes and people. Blessings promised in answer to prayer: (1) rulers of themselves; (2) conquest of their enemies; (3) restoration and establishment of both Israel and Judah in their own land in lasting peace and piety.
1. Ask … rain—on which the abundance of "corn" promised by the Lord (Zec 9:17) depends. Jehovah alone can give it, and will give it on being asked (Jer 10:13; 14:22).
rain in … time of … latter rain—that is, the latter rain in its due time, namely, in spring, about February or March (Job 29:23; Joe 2:23). The latter rain ripened the grain, as the former rain in October tended to fructify the seed. Including all temporal blessings; these again being types of spiritual ones. Though God has begun to bless us, we are not to relax our prayers. The former rain of conversion may have been given, but we must also ask for the latter rain of ripened sanctification. Though at Pentecost there was a former rain on the Jewish Church, a latter rain is still to be looked for, when the full harvest of the nation's conversion shall be gathered in to God. The spirit of prayer in the Church is an index at once of her piety, and of the spiritual blessings she may expect from God. When the Church is full of prayer, God pours out a full blessing.
bright clouds—rather, "lightnings," the precursors of rain [Maurer].
showers of rain—literally, "rain of heavy rain." In Job 37:6 the same words occur in inverted order [Henderson].
grass—a general term, including both corn for men and grass for cattle.
2. idols—literally, "the teraphim," the household gods, consulted in divination (see on Ho 3:4). Derived by Gesenius from an Arabic root, "comfort," indicating them as the givers of comfort. Or an Ethiopian root, "relics." Herein Zechariah shows that the Jews by their own idolatry had stayed the grace of God heretofore, which otherwise would have given them all those blessings, temporal and spiritual, which they are now (Zec 10:1) urged to "ask" for.
diviners—who gave responses to consulters of the teraphim: opposed to Jehovah and His true prophets.
seen a lie—pretending to see what they saw not in giving responses.
comfort in vain—literally, "give vapor for comfort"; that is, give comforting promises to consulters which are sure to come to naught (Job 13:4; 16:2; 21:34).
therefore they went their way—that is, Israel and Judah were led away captive.
as a flock … no shepherd—As sheep wander and are a prey to every injury when without a shepherd, so the Jews had been while they were without Jehovah, the true shepherd; for the false prophets whom they trusted were no shepherds (Eze 34:5). So now they are scattered, while they know not Messiah their shepherd; typified in the state of the disciples, when they had forsaken Jesus and fled (Mt 26:56; compare Zec 13:7).
3. against the shepherds—the civil rulers of Israel and Judah who abetted idolatry.
punished—literally, "visited upon." The same word "visited," without the upon, is presently after used in a good sense to heighten the contrast.
goats—he-goats. As "shepherds" described what they ought to have been, so "he-goats" describes what they were, the emblem of headstrong wantonness and offensive lust (Isa 14:9, Margin; Eze 34:17; Da 8:5; Mt 25:33). The he-goats head the flock. They who are first in crime will be first in punishment.
visited—in mercy (Lu 1:68).
as his goodly horse—In Zec 9:13 they were represented under the image of bows and arrows, here under that of their commander-in-chief, Jehovah's battle horse (So 1:9). God can make His people, timid though they be as sheep, courageous as the charger. The general rode on the most beautiful and richly caparisoned, and had his horse tended with the greatest care. Jehovah might cast off the Jews for their vileness, but He regards His election or adoption of them: whence He calls them here "His flock," and therefore saves them.
4. Out of him—Judah is to be no more subject to foreigners, but from itself shall come its rulers.
the corner—stone, Messiah (Isa 28:16). "Corners" simply express governors (1Sa 14:38, Margin; Isa 19:13, Margin). The Maccabees, Judah's governors and deliverers from Antiochus the oppressor, are primarily meant; but Messiah is the Antitype. Messiah supports and binds together the Church, Jews and Gentiles.
the nail—(Jud 4:21; Isa 22:23). The large peg inside an Oriental tent, on which is hung most of its valuable furniture. On Messiah hang all the glory and hope of His people.
bow—(Zec 9:13). Judah shall not need foreign soldiery. Messiah shall be her battle-bow (Ps 45:4, 5; Re 6:2).
every oppressor—rather, in a good sense, ruler, as the kindred Ethiopic term means. So "exactor," in Isa 60:17, namely, one who exacts the tribute from the nations made tributary to Judah [Ludovicus De Dieu].
5. riders on horses—namely, the enemy's horsemen. Though the Jews were forbidden by the law to multiply horses in battle (De 17:16), they are made Jehovah's war horse (Zec 10:3; Ps 20:7), and so tread down on foot the foe with all his cavalry (Eze 38:4; Da 11:40). Cavalry was the chief strength of the Syro-Grecian army (1 Maccabees 3:39).
6. Judah … Joseph—that is, the ten tribes. The distinct mention of both Judah and Israel shows that there is yet a more complete restoration than that from Babylon, when Judah alone and a few Israelites from the other tribes returned. The Maccabean deliverance is here connected with it, just as the painter groups on the same canvas objects in the foreground and hills far distant; or as the comparatively near planet and the remote fixed star are seen together in the same firmament. Prophecy ever hastens to the glorious final consummation under Messiah.
bring them again to place them—namely, securely in their own land. The Hebrew verb is compounded of two, "I will bring again," and "I will place them" (Jer 32:37). Maurer, from a different form, translates, "I will make them to dwell."
7. like a mighty man—in the battle with the foe (Zec 10:3, 5).
rejoice—at their victory over the foe.
children shall see it—who are not yet of age to serve. To teach patient waiting for God's promises. If ye do not at present see the fulfilment, your children shall, and their joy shall be complete.
rejoice in the Lord—the Giver of such a glorious victory.
8. hiss for them—Keepers of bees by a whistle call them together. So Jehovah by the mere word of His call shall gather back to Palestine His scattered people (Zec 10:10; Isa 5:26; Eze 36:11). The multitudes mentioned by Josephus [Wars of the Jews, 3:2], as peopling Galilee two hundred years after this time, were a pledge of the future more perfect fulfilment of the prophecy.
for I have redeemed them—namely, in My covenant purpose "redeemed" both temporally and spiritually.
as they have increased—in former times.
9. sow them among … people—Their dispersion was with a special design. Like seed sown far and wide, they shall, when quickened themselves, be the fittest instruments for quickening others (compare Mic 5:7). The slight hold they have on every soil where they now live, as also the commercial and therefore cosmopolitan character of their pursuits, making a change of residence easy to them, fit them peculiarly for missionary work [Moore]. The wide dispersion of the Jews just before Christ's coming prepared the way similarly for the apostles' preaching in the various Jewish synagogues throughout the world; everywhere some of the Old Testament seed previously sown was ready to germinate when the New Testament light and heat were brought to bear on it by Gospel preachers. Thus the way was opened for entrance among the Gentiles. "Will sow" is the Hebrew future, said of that which has been done, is being done, and may be done afterwards [Maurer], (compare Ho 2:23).
shall remember me in far countries—(De 30:1; 2Ch 6:37). Implying the Jews' return to a right mind in "all the nations" where they are scattered simultaneously. Compare Lu 15:17, 18, with Ps 22:27, "All the ends of the world remembering and turning unto the Lord," preceded by the "seed of Jacob … Israel … fearing and glorifying Him"; also Ps 102:13-15.
live—in political and spiritual life.
10. Egypt … Assyria—the former the first, the latter among the last of Israel's oppressors (or representing the four great world kingdoms, of which it was the first): types of the present universal dispersion, Egypt being south, Assyria north, opposite ends of the compass. Maurer conjectures that many Israelites fled to "Egypt" on the invasion of Tiglath-pileser. But Isa 11:11 and this passage rather accord with the view of the future restoration.
Gilead … Lebanon—The whole of the Holy Land is described by two of its boundaries, the eastern ("Gilead" beyond Jordan) and the northern ("Lebanon").
place shall not be found for them—that is, there shall not be room enough for them through their numbers (Isa 49:20; 54:3).
11. pass … sea with affliction—Personifying the "sea"; He shall afflict the sea, that is, cause it to cease to be an obstacle to Israel's return to Palestine (Isa 11:15, 16). Vulgate translates, "The strait of the sea." Maurer, "He shall cleave and smite." English Version is best (Ps 114:3). As Jehovah smote the Red Sea to make a passage for His people (Ex 14:16, 21), so hereafter shall He make a way through every obstacle which opposes Israel's restoration.
the river—the Nile (Am 8:8; 9:5), or the Euphrates. Thus the Red Sea and the Euphrates in the former part of the verse answer to "Assyria" and "Egypt" in the latter.
sceptre of Egypt … depart—(Eze 30:13).
12. I … strengthen them in … Lord—(Ho 1:7). I, the Father, will strengthen them in the name, that is, the manifested power, of the Lord, Messiah, the Son of God.
walk … in his name—that is, live everywhere and continually under His protection, and according to His will (Ge 5:22; Ps 20:1, 7; Mic 4:5).
Zec 11:1-17. Destruction of the Second Temple and Jewish Polity for the Rejection of Messiah.
1. Open thy doors, O Lebanon—that is, the temple so called, as being constructed of cedars of Lebanon, or as being lofty and conspicuous like that mountain (compare Eze 17:3; Hab 2:17). Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the tract called "Massecheth Joma" states, its doors of their own accord opened, and Rabbi Johanan in alarm said, I know that thy desolation is impending according to Zechariah's prophecy. Calvin supposes Lebanon to refer to Judea, described by its north boundary: "Lebanon," the route by which the Romans, according to Josephus, gradually advanced towards Jerusalem. Moore, from Hengstenberg, refers the passage to the civil war which caused the calling in of the Romans, who, like a storm sweeping through the land from Lebanon, deprived Judea of its independence. Thus the passage forms a fit introduction to the prediction as to Messiah born when Judea became a Roman province. But the weight of authority is for the former view.
2. fir tree … cedar—if even the cedars (the highest in the state) are not spared, how much less the fir trees (the lowest)!
forest of … vintage—As the vines are stripped of their grapes in the vintage (compare Joe 3:13), so the forest of Lebanon "is come down," stripped of all its beauty. Rather, "the fortified" or "inaccessible forest" [Maurer]; that is, Jerusalem dense with houses as a thick forest is with trees, and "fortified" with a wall around. Compare Mic 3:12, where its desolate state is described as a forest.
3. shepherds—the Jewish rulers.
their glory—their wealth and magnificence; or that of the temple, "their glory" (Mr 13:1; Lu 21:5).
young lions—the princes, so described on account of their cruel rapacity.
pride of Jordan—its thickly wooded banks, the lair of "lions" (Jer 12:5; 49:19). Image for Judea "spoiled" of the magnificence of its rulers ("the young lions"). The valley of the Jordan forms a deeper gash than any on the earth. The land at Lake Merom is on a level with the Mediterranean Sea; at the Sea of Tiberias it falls six hundred fifty feet below that level, and to double that depression at the Dead Sea, that is, in all, 1950 feet below the Mediterranean; in twenty miles' interval there is a fall of from three thousand to four thousand feet.
4. The prophet here proceeds to show the cause of the destruction just foretold, namely, the rejection of Messiah.
flock of … slaughter—(Ps 44:22). God's people doomed to slaughter by the Romans. Zechariah here represents typically Messiah, and performs in vision the actions enjoined: hence the language is in part appropriate to him, but mainly to the Antitype, Messiah. A million and a half perished in the Jewish war, and one million one hundred thousand at the fall of Jerusalem. "Feed" implies that the Jews could not plead ignorance of God's will to execute their sin. Zechariah and the other prophets had by God's appointment "fed" them (Ac 20:28) with the word of God, teaching and warning them to escape from coming wrath by repentance: the type of Messiah, the chief Shepherd, who receives the commission of the Father, with whom He is one (Zec 11:4); and Himself says (Zec 11:7), "I will feed the flock of slaughter." Zechariah did not live to "feed" literally the "flock of slaughter"; Messiah alone "fed" those who, because of their rejection of Him, were condemned to slaughter. Jehovah-Messiah is the speaker. It is He who threatens to inflict the punishments (Zec 11:6, 8). The typical breaking of the staff, performed in vision by Zechariah (Zec 11:10), is fulfilled in His breaking the covenant with Judah. It is He who was sold for thirty pieces of silver (Zec 11:12, 13).
5. possessors—The buyers [Maurer], their Roman oppressors, contrasted with "they that sell men." The instruments of God's righteous judgment, and therefore "not holding themselves guilty" (Jer 50:7). It is meant that they might use this plea, not that they actually used it. Judah's adversaries felt no compunction in destroying them; and God in righteous wrath against Judah allowed it.
they that sell them—(Compare Zec 11:12). The rulers of Judah, who by their avaricious rapacity and selfishness (Joh 11:48, 50) virtually sold their country to Rome. Their covetousness brought on Judea God's visitation by Rome. The climax of this was the sale of the innocent Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. They thought that Jesus was thus sold and their selfish interest secured by the delivery of Him to the Romans for crucifixion; but it was themselves and their country that they thus sold to the Roman possessors."
I am rich—by selling the sheep (De 29:19; Ho 12:8). In short-sighted selfishness they thought they had gained their object, covetous self-aggrandizement (Lu 16:14), and hypocritically "thanked" God for their wicked gain (compare Lu 18:11).
say … pity—In Hebrew it is singular: that is, each of those that sell them saith: Not one of their own shepherds pitieth them. An emphatical mode of expression by which each individual is represented as doing, or not doing, the action of the verb [Henderson]. Hengstenberg refers the singular verbs to Jehovah, the true actor; the wicked shepherds being His unconscious instruments. Compare Zec 11:6, For I will no more pity, with the Hebrew "pitieth not" here.
6. Jehovah, in vengeance for their rejection of Messiah, gave them over to intestine feuds and Roman rule. The Zealots and other factious Jews expelled and slew one another by turns at the last invasion by Rome.
his king—Vespasian or Titus: they themselves (Joh 19:15) had said, unconsciously realizing Zechariah's words, identifying Rome's king with Judah's ("his") king, "We have no king but Cæsar." God took them at their word, and gave them the Roman king, who "smote (literally, 'dashed in pieces') their land," breaking up their polity, when they rejected their true King who would have saved them.
7. And—rather, "Accordingly": implying the motive cause which led Messiah to assume the office, namely, the will of the Father (Zec 11:4, 5), who pitied the sheep without any true shepherd.
I will feed—"I fed" [Calvin], which comes to the same thing, as the past tense must in Zechariah's time have referred to the event of Messiah's advent then future: the prophets often speaking of the future in vision as already present. It was not My fault, Jehovah implies, that these sheep were not fed; the fault rests solely with you, because ye rejected the grace of God [Calvin].
even you, O poor of the flock—rather, "in order that (I might feed, that is, save) the poor (humble; compare Zec 11:11; Zep 3:12; Mt 5:3) of the flock"; literally, not you, but, "therefore (I will feed)" [Moore]. See Margin, "Verily the poor." It is for the sake of the believing remnant that Messiah took charge of the flock, though He would have saved all, if they would have come to Him. They would not come; therefore, as a nation, they are "the flock of (that is, doomed to) slaughter."
I took … two staves—that is, shepherds' staves or rods (Ps 23:4). Symbolizing His assumption of the pastor's office.
Beauty—The Jews' peculiar excellency above other nations (De 4:7), God's special manifestation to them (Ps 147:19, 20), the glory of the temple ("the beauty of holiness," Ps 29:2; compare Ps 27:4; 90:17; 2Ch 20:21), the "pleasantness" of their land (Ge 49:15; Da 8:9; 11:16), "the glorious land."
Bands—implying the bond of "brotherhood" between Judah and Israel. "Bands," in Ps 119:61, Margin, is used for confederate companies: The Easterns in making a confederacy often tie a cord or band as a symbol of it, and untie it when they dissolve the confederacy [Ludovicus De Dieu]. Messiah would have joined Judah and Israel in the bonds of a common faith and common laws (Zec 11:14), but they would not; therefore in just retribution He broke "His covenant which He had made with all the people." Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Pompey were all kept from marring utterly the distinctive "beauty" and "brotherhood" of Judah and Israel, which subsisted more or less so long as the temple stood. But when Jehovah brake the staves, not even Titus could save the temple from his own Roman soldiery, nor was Jurian able to restore it.
8. Three shepherds … I cut off—literally, "to cause to disappear," to destroy so as not to leave a vestige of them. The three shepherds whom Messiah removes are John, Simon, and Eleazar, three leaders of factions in the Jewish war [Drusius]. Or, as Messiah, the Antitype, was at once prophet, priest, and king, so He by the destruction of the Jewish polity destroyed these three orders for the unbelief of both the rulers and people [Moore]. If they had accepted Messiah, they would have had all three combined in Him, and would have been themselves spiritually prophets, priests, and kings to God. Refusing Him, they lost all three, in every sense.
one month—a brief and fixed space of time (Ho 5:7). Probably alluding to the last period of the siege of Jerusalem, when all authority within the city was at an end [Henderson].
loathed them—literally, "was straitened" as to them; instead of being enlarged towards them in love (2Co 6:11, 12). The same Hebrew as in Nu 21:4, Margin. No room was left by them for the grace of God, as His favors were rejected [Calvin]. The mutual distaste that existed between the holy Messiah and the guilty Jews is implied.
9. Then said I—at last when all means of saving the nation had been used in vain (Joh 8:24).
I will not—that is, no more feed you. The last rejection of the Jews is foretold, of which the former under Nebuchadnezzar, similarly described, was the type (Jer 15:1-3; 34:17; 43:11; Eze 6:12). Perish those who are doomed to perish, since they reject Him who would have saved them! Let them rush on to their own ruin, since they will have it so.
eat … flesh of another—Let them madly perish by mutual discords. Josephus attests the fulfilment of this prophecy of threefold calamity: pestilence and famine ("dieth … die"), war ("cut off … cut off"), intestine discord ("eat … one … another").
10. covenant which I made with all the people—The covenant made with the whole nation is to hold good no more except to the elect remnant. This is the force of the clause, not as Maurer, and others translate. The covenant which I made with all the nations (not to hurt My elect people, Ho 2:18). But the Hebrew is the term for the elect people (Ammim), not that for the Gentile nations (Goiim). The Hebrew plural expresses the great numbers of the Israelite people formerly (1Ki 4:20). The article is, in the Hebrew, all the or those peoples. His cutting asunder the staff "Beauty," implies the setting aside of the outward symbols of the Jews distinguishing excellency above the Gentiles (see on Zec 11:7) as God's own people.
11. poor … knew—The humble, godly remnant knew by the event the truth of the prediction and of Messiah's mission. He had, thirty-seven years before the fall of Jerusalem, forewarned His disciples when they should see the city compassed with armies, to "flee unto the mountains." Accordingly, Cestius Gallus, when advancing on Jerusalem, unaccountably withdrew for a brief space, giving Christians the opportunity of obeying Christ's words by fleeing to Pella.
waited upon me—looked to the hand of God in all these calamities, not blindly shutting their eyes to the true cause of the visitation, as most of the nation still do, instead of referring it to their own rejection of Messiah. Isa 30:18-21 refers similarly to the Lord's return in mercy to the remnant that "wait for Him" and "cry" to Him (Zep 3:12, 13).
12. I said—The prophet here represents the person of Jehovah-Messiah.
If ye think good—literally, "If it be good in your eyes." Glancing at their self-sufficient pride in not deigning to give Him that return which His great love in coming down to them from heaven merited, namely, their love and obedience. "My price"; my reward for pastoral care, both during the whole of Israel's history from the Exodus, and especially the three and a half years of Messiah's ministry. He speaks as their "servant," which He was to them in order to fulfil the Father's will (Php 2:7).
if not, forbear—They withheld that which He sought as His only reward, their love; yet He will not force them, but leave His cause with God (Isa 49:4, 5). Compare the type Jacob cheated of his wages by Laban, but leaving his cause in the hands of God (Ge 31:41, 42).
So … thirty pieces of silver—thirty shekels. They not only refused Him His due, but added insult to injury by giving for Him the price of a gored bond-servant (Ex 21:32; Mt 26:15). A freeman was rated at twice that sum.
13. Cast it unto the potter—proverbial: Throw it to the temple potter, the most suitable person to whom to cast the despicable sum, plying his trade as he did in the polluted valley (2Ki 23:10) of Hinnom, because it furnished him with the most suitable clay. This same valley, and the potter's shop, were made the scene of symbolic actions by Jeremiah (Jer 18:1-19:15) when prophesying of this very period of Jewish history. Zechariah connects his prophecy here with the older one of Jeremiah: showing the further application of the same divine threat against his unfaithful people in their destruction under Rome, as before in that under Nebuchadnezzar. Hence Mt 27:9, in English Version, and in the oldest authorities, quotes Zechariah's words as Jeremiah's, the latter being the original author from whom Zechariah derived the groundwork of the prophecy. Compare the parallel case of Mr 1:2, 3 in the oldest manuscripts (though not in English Version), quoting Malachi's words as those of "Isaiah," the original source of the prophecy. Compare my Introduction to Zechariah. The "potter" is significant of God's absolute power over the clay framed by His own hands (Isa 45:9; Jer 18:6; Ro 9:20, 21).
in the house of the Lord—The thirty pieces are thrown down in the temple, as the house of Jehovah, the fit place for the money of Jehovah-Messiah being deposited, in the treasury, and the very place accordingly where Judas "cast them down." The thirty pieces were cast "to the potter," because it was to him they were "appointed by the Lord" ultimately to go, as a worthless price (compare Mt 27:6, 7, 10). For "I took," "I threw," here Matthew has "they took," "they gave them"; because their (the Jews' and Judas') act was all His "appointment" (which Matthew also expresses), and therefore is here attributed to Him (compare Ac 2:23; 4:28). It is curious that some old translators translate, for "to the potter," "to the treasury" (so Maurer), agreeing with Mt 27:6. But English Version agrees better with Hebrew and Mt 27:10.
14. The breaking of the bond of union between Judah and Israel's ten tribes under Rehoboam is here the image used to represent the fratricidal discord of factions which raged within Jerusalem on the eve of its fall, while the Romans were thundering at its gates without. See Josephus [Wars of the Jews]. Also the continued severance of the tribes till their coming reunion (Ro 11:15).
15. yet—"take again"; as in Zec 11:7 previously he had taken other implements.
instruments—the accoutrements, namely, the shepherd's crook and staff, wallet, &c. Assume the character of a bad ("foolish" in Scripture is synonymous with wicked, Ps 14:1) shepherd, as before thou assumedst that of a good shepherd. Since the Jews would not have Messiah, "the Good Shepherd" (Joh 10:11), they were given up to Rome, heathen and papal, both alike their persecutor, especially the latter, and shall be again to Antichrist, the "man of sin," the instrument of judgment by Christ's permission. Antichrist will first make a covenant with them as their ruler, but then will break it, and they shall feel the iron yoke of his tyranny as the false Messiah, because they rejected the light yoke of the true Messiah (Da 11:35-38; 12:1; 9:27; 2Th 2:3-12). But at last he is to perish utterly (Zec 11:17), and the elect remnant of Judah and Israel is to be saved gloriously.
16. in the land—Antichrist will probably he a Jew, or at least one in Judea.
not visit … neither … seek … heal … broken, nor feed … but … eat … flesh … tear—Compare similar language as to the unfaithful shepherds of Israel in Eze 34:2-4. This implies, they shall be paid in kind. Such a shepherd in the worst type shall "tear" them for a limited time.
those … cut off—"those perishing" [Septuagint], that is, those sick unto death, as if already cut off.
the young—The Hebrew is always used of human youths, who are really referred to under the image of the young of the flock. Ancient expositors [Chaldee Version, Jerome, &c.] translate, "the straying," "the dispersed"; so Gesenius.
standeth still—with faintness lagging behind.
tear … claws—expressing cruel voracity; tearing off the very hoofs (compare Ex 10:26), giving them excruciating pain, and disabling them from going in quest of pasture.
17. the idol—The Hebrew expresses both vanity and an idol. Compare Isa 14:13; Da 11:36; 2Th 2:4; Re 13:5, 6, as to the idolatrous and blasphemous claims of Antichrist. The "idol shepherd that leaveth the flock" cannot apply to Rome, but to some ruler among the Jews themselves, at first cajoling, then "leaving" them, nay, destroying them (Da 9:27; 11:30-38). God's sword shall descend on his "arm," the instrument of his tyranny towards the sheep (2Th 2:8); and on his "right eye," wherewith he ought to have watched the sheep (Joh 10:12, 13). However, Antichrist shall destroy, rather than "leave the flock." Perhaps, therefore, the reference is to the shepherds who left the flock to Antichrist's rapacity, and who, in just retribution, shall feel his "sword" on their "arm," which ought to have protected the flock but did not, and on their "eye," which had failed duly to watch the sheep from hurt. The blinding of "the right eye" has attached to it the notion of ignominy (1Sa 11:2).
Zec 12:1-14. Jerusalem the Instrument of Judgment on Her Foes Hereafter; Her Repentance and Restoration.
1. burden—"weighty prophecy"; fraught with destruction to Israel's foes; the expression may also refer to the distresses of Israel implied as about to precede the deliverance.
for Israel—concerning Israel [Maurer].
stretcheth forth—present; now, not merely "hath stretched forth," as if God only created and then left the universe to itself (Joh 5:17). To remove all doubts of unbelief as to the possibility of Israel's deliverance, God prefaces the prediction by reminding us of His creative and sustaining power. Compare a similar preface in Isa 42:5; 43:1; 65:17, 18.
formeth … spirit of man—(Nu 16:22; Heb 12:9).
2. cup of trembling—a cup causing those who drink it to reel (from a Hebrew root "to reel"). Jerusalem, who drank the "cup of trembling" herself, shall be so to her foes (Isa 51:17, 22; Jer 13:13). Calvin with the Septuagint translates, "threshold of destruction," on which they shall stumble and be crushed when they attempt to cross it. English Version is better.
both against Judah—The Hebrew order of words is literally, "And also against Judah shall he (the foe) be in the siege against Jerusalem"; implying virtually that Judah, as it shares the invasion along with Jerusalem, so it shall, like the metropolis, prove a cup of trembling to the invaders. Maurer with Jerome translates, "Also upon Judah shall be (the cup of trembling); that is, some Jews forced by the foe shall join in the assault on Jerusalem, and shall share the overthrow with the besiegers. But Zec 12:6, 7 show that Judah escapes and proves the scourge of the foe.
3. (Zec 14:4, 6-9, 13). Jerome states it was a custom in Palestine to test the strength of youths by their lifting up a massive stone; the phrase, "burden themselves with it," refers to this custom. Compare Mt 21:44: The Jews "fell" on the rock of offense, Messiah, and were "broken"; but the rock shall fall on Antichrist, who "burdens himself with it" by his assault on the restored Jews, and "grind him to powder."
all … people of … earth—The Antichristian confederacy against the Jews shall be almost universal.
4. I will smite … horse—The arm of attack especially formidable to Judah, who was unprovided with cavalry. So in the overthrow of Pharaoh (Ex 15:19, 21).
open mine eyes upon … Judah—to watch over Judah's safety. Heretofore Jehovah seemed to have shut His eyes, as having no regard for her.
blindness—so as to rush headlong on to their own ruin (compare Zec 14:12, 13).
5. shall say—when they see the foe divinely smitten with "madness."
Judah … Jerusalem—here distinguished as the country and the metropolis. Judah recognizes her "strength" to be "Jerusalem and its inhabitants" as the instrument, and "Jehovah of hosts their God" (dwelling especially there) as the author of all power (Joe 3:16). My strength is the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who have the Lord their God as their help. The repulse of the foe by the metropolis shall assure the Jews of the country that the same divine aid shall save them.
6. On "governors of Judah," see on Zec 9:7.
torch … in a sheaf—Though small, it shall consume the many foes around. One prophet supplements the other. Thus Isa 29:1-24; Joe 3:1-21; Zec 12:1-14:21, describe more Antichrist's army than himself. Daniel represents him as a horn growing out of the fourth beast or fourth kingdom; St. John, as a separate beast having an individual existence. Daniel dwells on his worldly conquests as a king; St. John, more on his spiritual tyranny, whence he adds a second beast, the false prophet coming in a semblance of spirituality. What is briefly described by one is more fully prophesied by the other [Roos].
7. Judah is to be "first saved," because of her meek acknowledgment of dependence on Jerusalem, subordinate to Jehovah's aid.
tents—shifting and insecure, as contrasted with the solid fortifications of Judah. But God chooses the weak to confound the mighty, that all human glorying may be set aside.
8. Jerusalem, however, also shall be specially strengthened against the foe.
feeble … shall be as David—to the Jew, the highest type of strength and glory on earth (2Sa 17:8; 18:3; Joe 3:10).
angel of the Lord before them—the divine angel that went "before them" through the desert, the highest type of strength and glory in heaven (Ex 23:20; 32:34). "The house of David" is the "prince," and his family sprung from David (Eze 45:7, 9). David's house was then in a comparatively weak state.
9. I will seek to destroy—I will set Myself with determined earnestness to destroy, etc. (Hag 2:22).
10. Future conversion of the Jews is to flow from an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Jer 31:9, 31-34; Eze 39:29).
spirit of grace … supplications—"spirit" is here not the spirit produced, but THE Holy Spirit producing a "gracious" disposition, and inclination for "supplications." Calvin explains "spirit of grace" as the grace of God itself (whereby He "pours" out His bowels of mercy), "conjoined with the sense of it in man's heart." The "spirit of supplications" is the mercury whose rise or fall is an unerring test of the state of the Church [Moore]. In Hebrew, "grace" and "supplications" are kindred terms; translate, therefore, "gracious supplications." The plural implies suppliant prayers "without ceasing." Herein not merely external help against the foe, as before, but internal grace is promised subsequently.
look upon me—with profoundly earnest regard, as the Messiah whom they so long denied.
pierced—implying Messiah's humanity: as "I will pour … spirit" implies His divinity.
look … mourn—True repentance arises from the sight by faith of the crucified Saviour. It is the tear that drops from the eye of faith looking on Him. Terror only produces remorse. The true penitent weeps over his sins in love to Him who in love has suffered for them.
me … him—The change of person is due to Jehovah-Messiah speaking in His own person first, then the prophet speaking of Him. The Jews, to avoid the conclusion that He whom they have "pierced" is Jehovah-Messiah, who says, "I will pour out … spirit," altered "me" into "him," and represent the "pierced" one to be Messiah Ben (son of) Joseph, who was to suffer in the battle with Cog, before Messiah Ben David should come to reign. But Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic oppose this; and the ancient Jews interpreted it of Messiah. Ps 22:16 also refers to His being "pierced." So Joh 19:37; Re 1:7. The actual piercing of His side was the culminating point of all their insulting treatment of Him. The act of the Roman soldier who pierced Him was their act (Mt 27:25), and is so accounted here in Zechariah. The Hebrew word is always used of a literal piercing (so Zec 13:3); not of a metaphorical piercing, "insulted," as Maurer and other Rationalists (from the Septuagint) represent.
as one mourneth for … son—(Jer 6:26; Am 8:10). A proverbial phrase peculiarly forcible among the Jews, who felt childlessness as a curse and dishonor. Applied with peculiar propriety to mourning for Messiah, "the first-born among many brethren" (Ro 8:29).
11. As in Zec 12:10 the bitterness of their mourning is illustrated by a private case of mourning, so in this verse by a public one, the greatest recorded in Jewish history, that for the violent death in battle with Pharaoh-necho of the good King Josiah, whose reign had been the only gleam of brightness for the period from Hezekiah to the downfall of the state; lamentations were written by Jeremiah for the occasion (2Ki 23:29, 30; 2Ch 35:22-27).
Hadad-rimmon—a place or city in the great plain of Esdraelon, the battlefield of many a conflict, near Megiddo; called so from the Syrian idol Rimmon. Hadad also was the name of the sun, a chief god of the Syrians [Macrobius, Saturnalia, 1.23].
12-14. A universal and an individual mourning at once.
David … Nathan—representing the highest and lowest of the royal order. Nathan, not the prophet, but a younger son of David (2Sa 5:14; Lu 3:31).
apart—Retirement and seclusion are needful for deep personal religion.
wives apart—Jewish females worship separately from the males (Ex 15:1, 20).
13. Levi … Shimei—the highest and lowest of the priestly order (Nu 3:18, 21). Their example and that of the royal order would of course influence the rest.
14. All … that remain—after the fiery ordeal, in which two-thirds fall (Zec 13:8, 9).
Zec 13:1-9. Cleansing of the Jews from Sin; Abolition of Idolatry; the Shepherd Smitten; the People of the Land Cut Off, except a Third Part Refined by Trials.
1. Connected with the close of the twelfth chapter. The mourning penitents are here comforted.
fountain opened—It has been long opened, but then first it shall be so "to the house of David," &c. (representing all Israel) after their long and weary wanderings. Like Hagar in the wilderness they remain ignorant of the refreshment near them, until God "opens their eyes" (Ge 21:19) [Moore]. It is not the fountain, but their eyes that need to be opened. It shall be a "fountain" ever flowing; not a laver needing constantly to be replenished with water, such as stood between the tabernacle and altar (Ex 30:18).
for sin … uncleanness—that is, judicial guilt and moral impurity. Thus justification and sanctification are implied in this verse as both flowing from the blood of Christ, not from ceremonial sacrifices (1Co 1:30; Heb 9:13, 14; 1Jo 1:7; compare Eze 36:25). Sin in Hebrew is literally a missing the mark or way.
2. Consequences of pardon; not indolence, but the extirpation of sin.
names of … idols—Their very names were not to be mentioned; thus the Jews, instead of Mephibaal, said Mephibosheth (Bosheth meaning a contemptible thing) (Ex 23:13; De 12:3; Ps 16:4).
out of the land—Judea's two great sins, idolatry and false prophecy, have long since ceased. But these are types of all sin (for example, covetousness, Eph 5:5, a besetting sin of the Jews now). Idolatry, combined with the "spirit" of "Satan," is again to be incarnated in "the man of sin," who is to arise in Judea (2Th 2:3-12), and is to be "consumed with the Spirit of the Lord's mouth." Compare as to Antichrist's papal precursor, "seducing spirits … doctrines of devils," &c., 1Ti 4:1-3; 2Pe 2:1.
the unclean spirit—Hebrew, spirit of uncleanness (compare Re 16:13); opposed to "the Spirit of holiness" (Ro 1:4), "spirit of error" (1Jo 4:6). One assuming to be divinely inspired, but in league with Satan.
3. The form of phraseology here is drawn from De 13:6-10; 18:20. The substantial truth expressed is that false prophecy shall be utterly abolished. If it were possible for it again to start up, the very parents of the false prophet would not let parental affection interfere, but would be the first to thrust him through. Love to Christ must be paramount to the tenderest of natural ties (Mt 10:37). Much as the godly love their children, they love God and His honor more.
4. prophets … ashamed—of the false prophecies which they have uttered in times past, and which the event has confuted.
rough garment—sackcloth. The badge of a prophet (2Ki 1:8; Isa 20:2), to mark their frugality alike in food and attire (Mt 3:4); also, to be consonant to the mournful warnings which they delivered. It is not the dress that is here condemned, but the purpose for which it was worn, namely, to conceal wolves under sheep's clothing [Calvin]. The monkish hair-shirt of Popery, worn to inspire the multitude with the impression of superior sanctity, shall be then cast aside.
5, 6. The detection of one of the false prophets dramatically represented. He is seized by some zealous vindicator of the law, and in fear cries out, "I am no prophet."
man—that is, one.
taught me to keep cattle—As "keeping cattle" is not the same as to be "an husbandman," translate rather, "Has used (or 'appropriated') me as a servant," namely, in husbandry [Maurer]. However, husbandry and keeping cattle might be regarded as jointly the occupation of the person questioned: then Am 7:14, "herdman," will accord with English Version. A Hebrew kindred word means "cattle." Both occupations, the respondent replies, are inconsistent with my being a "prophet."
6. wounds in thine hand—The interrogator still suspects him: "If so, if you have never pretended to be a prophet, whence come those wounds?" The Hebrew is literally, "between thine hands." The hands were naturally held up to ward off the blows, and so were "thrust through" (Zec 13:3) "between" the bones of the hand. Stoning was the usual punishment; "thrusting through" was also a fit retribution on one who tried to "thrust Israel away" from the Lord (De 13:10); and perfects the type of Messiah, condemned as a false prophet, and pierced with "wounds between His hands." Thus the transition to the direct prophecy of Him (Zec 13:7) is natural, which it would not be if He were not indirectly and in type alluded to.
wounded in … house of my friends—an implied admission that he had pretended to prophecy, and that his friends had wounded him for it in zeal for God (Zec 13:3). The Holy Spirit in Zechariah alludes indirectly to Messiah, the Antitype, wounded by those whom He came to befriend, who ought to have been His "friends," who were His kinsmen (compare Zec 13:3, as to the false prophet's friends, with Mr 3:21, "His friends," Margin, "kinsmen"; Joh 7:5; "His own," Joh 1:11; the Jews, "of whom as concerning the flesh He came," Ro 9:5), but who wounded Him by the agency of the Romans (Zec 12:10).
7. Expounded by Christ as referring to Himself (Mt 26:31, 32). Thus it is a resumption of the prophecy of His betrayal (Zec 11:4, 10, 13, 14), and the subsequent punishment of the Jews. It explains the mystery why He, who came to be a blessing, was cut off while bestowing the blessing. God regards sin in such a fearful light that He spared not His own co-equal Son in the one Godhead, when that Son bore the sinner's guilt.
Awake—Compare a similar address to the sword of justice personified (Jer 46:6, 7). For "smite" (imperative), Mt 26:31 has "I will smite." The act of the sword, it is thus implied, is God's act. So the prophecy in Isa 6:9, "Hear ye," is imperative; the fulfilment as declared by Jesus is future (Mt 13:14), "ye shall hear."
sword—the symbol of judicial power, the highest exercise of which is to take away the life of the condemned (Ps 17:13; Ro 13:4). Not merely a show, or expression, of justice (as Socinians think) is distinctly implied here, but an actual execution of it on Messiah the shepherd, the substitute for the sheep, by God as judge. Yet God in this shows His love as gloriously as His justice. For God calls Messiah "My shepherd," that is, provided (Re 13:8) for sinners by My love to them, and ever the object of My love, though judicially smitten (Isa 53:4) for their sins (Isa 42:1; 59:16).
man that is my fellow—literally, "the man of my union." The Hebrew for "man" is "a mighty man," one peculiarly man in his noblest ideal. "My fellow," that is, "my associate." "My equal" ([De Wette]; a remarkable admission from a Rationalist). "My nearest kinsman" [Hengstenberg], (Joh 10:30; 14:10, 11; Php 2:6).
sheep shall be scattered—The scattering of Christ's disciples on His apprehension was the partial fulfilment (Mt 26:31), a pledge of the dispersion of the Jewish nation (once the Lord's sheep, Ps 100:3) consequent on their crucifixion of Him. The Jews, though "scattered," are still the Lord's "sheep," awaiting their being "gathered" by Him (Isa 40:9, 11).
I will turn … hand upon … little ones—that is, I will interpose in favor of (compare the phrase in a good sense, Isa 1:25) "the little ones," namely, the humble followers of Christ from the Jewish Church, despised by the world: "the poor of the flock" (Zec 11:7, 11); comforted after His crucifixion at the resurrection (Joh 20:17-20); saved again by a special interposition from the destruction of Jerusalem, having retired to Pella when Cestius Gallus so unaccountably withdrew from Jerusalem. Ever since there has been a Jewish "remnant" of "the little ones … according to the election of grace." The hand of Jehovah was laid in wrath on the Shepherd that His hand might be turned in grace upon the little ones.
8, 9. Two-thirds of the Jewish nation were to perish in the Roman wars, and a third to survive. Probably from the context (Zec 14:2-9), which has never yet been fulfilled, the destruction of the two-thirds (literally, "the proportion of two," or "portion of two") and the saving of the remnant, the one-third, are still future, and to be fulfilled under Antichrist.
9. through … fire—of trial (Ps 66:10; Am 4:11; 1Co 3:15; 1Pe 1:6, 7). It hence appears that the Jews' conversion is not to precede, but to follow, their external deliverance by the special interposition of Jehovah; which latter shall be the main cause of their conversion, combined with a preparatory inward shedding abroad in their hearts of the Holy Spirit (Zec 12:10-14); and here, "they shall call on My name," in their trouble, which brings Jehovah to their help (Ps 50:15).
my people—(Jer 30:18-22; Eze 11:19, 20; Ho 2:23).
Zec 14:1-21. Last Struggle with the Hostile World-Powers: Messiah-Jehovah Saves Jerusalem and Destroys the Foe, of Whom the Remnant Turns to the Lord Reigning at Jerusalem.
1. day of the Lord—in which He shall vindicate His justice by punishing the wicked and then saving His elect people (Joe 2:31; 3:14; Mal 4:1, 5).
thy spoil … divided in the midst of thee—by the foe; secure of victory, they shall not divide the spoil taken from thee in their camp outside, but "in the midst" of the city itself.
2. gather all nations, &c.—The prophecy seems literal (compare Joe 3:2). If Antichrist be the leader of the nations, it seems inconsistent with the statement that he will at this time be sitting in the temple as God at Jerusalem (2Th 2:4); thus Antichrist outside would be made to besiege Antichrist within the city. But difficulties do not set aside revelations: the event will clear up seeming difficulties. Compare the complicated movements, Da 11:1-45.
half … the residue—In Zec 13:8, 9, it is "two-thirds" that perish, and "the third" escapes. There, however, it is "in all the land"; here it is "half of the city." Two-thirds of the "whole people" perish, one-third survives. One-half of the citizens are led captive, the residue are not cut off. Perhaps, too, we ought to translate, "a (not 'the') residue."
3. Then—In Jerusalem's extremity.
as … in … day of battle—as when Jehovah fought for Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 14:14; 15:3). As He then made a way through the divided sea, so will He now divide in two "the Mount of Olives" (Zec 14:4).
4. The object of the cleaving of the mount in two by a fissure or valley (a prolongation of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and extending from Jerusalem on the west towards Jordan, eastward) is to open a way of escape to the besieged (compare Joe 3:12, 14). Half the divided mount is thereby forced northward, half southward; the valley running between. The place of His departure at His ascension shall be the place of His return: and the "manner" of His return also shall be similar (Ac 1:11). He shall probably "come from the east" (Mt 24:27). He so made His triumphal entry into the city from the Mount of Olives from the east (Mt 21:1-10). This was the scene of His agony: so it shall be the scene of His glory. Compare Eze 11:23, with Eze 43:2, "from the way of the east."
5. ye shall flee to the valley—rather "through the valley," as in 2Sa 2:29. The valley made by the cleaving asunder of the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:4) is designed to be their way of escape, not their place of refuge [Maurer]. Jerome is on the side of English Version. If it be translated so, it will mean, Ye shall flee "to" the valley, not to hide there, but as the passage through which an escape may be effected. The same divinely sent earthquake which swallows up the foe, opens out a way of escape to God's people. The earthquake in Uzziah's days is mentioned (Am 1:1) as a recognized epoch in Jewish history. Compare also Isa 6:1: perhaps the same year that Jehovah held His heavenly court and gave commission to Isaiah for the Jews, an earthquake in the physical world, as often happens (Mt 24:7), marked momentous movements in the unseen spiritual world.
of the mountains—rather, "of My mountains," namely, Zion and Moriah, peculiarly sacred to Jehovah [Moore]. Or, the mountains formed by My cleaving Olivet into two [Maurer].
Azal—the name of a place near a gate east of the city. The Hebrew means "adjoining" [Henderson]. Others give the meaning, "departed," "ceased." The valley reaches up to the city gates, so as to enable the fleeing citizens to betake themselves immediately to it on leaving the city.
Lord my God … with thee—The mention of the "Lord my God" leads the prophet to pass suddenly to a direct address to Jehovah. It is as if "lifting up his head" (Lu 21:28), he suddenly sees in vision the Lord coming, and joyfully exclaims, "All the saints with Thee!" So Isa 25:9.
saints—holy angels escorting the returning King (Mt 24:30, 31; Jude 14); and redeemed men (1Co 15:23; 1Th 3:13; 4:14). Compare the similar mention of the "saints" and "angels" at His coming on Sinai (De 32:2, 3; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2). Phillips thinks Azal is Ascalon on the Mediterranean. An earthquake beneath Messiah's tread will divide Syria, making from Jerusalem to Azal a valley which will admit the ocean waters from the west to the Dead Sea. The waters will rush down the valley of Arabah, the old bed of the Jordan, clear away the sand-drift of four thousand years, and cause the commerce of Petra and Tyre to center in the holy city. The Dead Sea rising above its shores will overflow by the valley of Edom, completing the straits of Azal into the Red Sea. Thus will be formed the great pool of Jerusalem (compare Zec 14:8; Eze 47:1, &c.; Joe 3:18). Euphrates will be the north boundary, and the Red Sea the south. Twenty-five miles north and twenty-five miles south of Jerusalem will form one side of the fifty miles square of the Lord's Holy Oblation (Eze 48:1-35). There are seven spaces of fifty miles each from Jerusalem northward to the Euphrates, and five spaces of fifty miles each southward to the Red Sea. Thus there are thirteen equal distances on the breadth of the future promised land, one for the oblation and twelve for the tribes, according to Eze 48:1-35. That the Euphrates north, Mediterranean west, the Nile and Red Sea south, are to be the future boundaries of the holy land, which will include Syria and Arabia, is favored by Ge 15:8; Ex 23:31; De 11:24; Jos 1:4; 1Ki 4:21; 2Ch 9:26; Isa 27:12; all which was partially realized in Solomon's reign, shall be antitypically so hereafter. The theory, if true, will clear away many difficulties in the way of the literal interpretation of this chapter and Eze 48:1-35.
6. light … not … clear … dark—Jerome, Chaldee, Syriac, and Septuagint translate, "There shall not be light, but cold and ice"; that is, a day full of horror (Am 5:18). But the Hebrew for "clear" does not mean "cold," but "precious," "splendid" (compare Job 31:26). Calvin translates, "The light shall not be clear, but dark" (literally, "condensation," that is, thick mist); like a dark day in which you can hardly distinguish between day and night. English Version accords with Zec 14:7: "There shall not be altogether light nor altogether darkness," but an intermediate condition in which sorrows shall be mingled with joys.
7. one day—a day altogether unique, different from all others [Maurer]. Compare "one," that is, unique (So 6:9; Jer 30:7). Not as Henderson explains, "One continuous day, without night" (Re 22:5; 21:25); the millennial period (Re 20:3-7).
known to … Lord—This truth restrains man's curiosity and teaches us to wait the Lord's own time (Mt 24:36).
not day, nor night—answering to "not … clear nor … dark" (Zec 14:6); not altogether daylight, yet not the darkness of night.
at evening … shall be light—Towards the close of this twilight-like time of calamity, "light" shall spring up (Ps 97:11; 112:4; Isa 30:26; 60:19, 20).
8. living waters—(Eze 47:1; Joe 3:18).
former sea—that is, the front, or east, which Orientalists face in taking the points of the compass; the Dead Sea.
hinder sea—the west or Mediterranean.
summer … winter—neither dried up by heat, nor frozen by cold; ever flowing.
9. king over all … earth—Isa 54:5 implies that this is to be the consequence of Israel being again recognized by God as His own people (Da 2:44; Re 11:15).
one Lord … name one—Not that He is not so already, but He shall then be recognized by all unanimously as "One." Now there are "gods many and lords many." Then Jehovah alone shall be worshipped. The manifestation of the unity of the Godhead shall be simultaneous with that of the unity of the Church. Believers are one in spirit already, even as God is one (Eph 4:3-6). But externally there are sad divisions. Not until these disappear, shall God reveal fully His unity to the world (Joh 17:21, 23). Then shall there be "a pure language, that all may call upon the name of the Lord with one consent" (Zep 3:9). The Son too shall at last give up His mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the purposes for which it was established shall have been accomplished, "that God may be all in all" (1Co 15:24).
10. turned—or, "changed round about": literally, "to make a circuit." The whole hilly land round Jerusalem, which would prevent the free passage of the living waters, shall be changed so as to be "as a (or the) plain" (Isa 40:4).
from Geba to Rimmon—Geba (2Ki 23:8) in Benjamin, the north border of Judah. Rimmon, in Simeon (Jos 15:32), the south border of Judah; not the Rimmon northeast of Michmash. "The plain from Geba to Rimmon" (that is, from one boundary to the other) is the Arabah or plain of the Jordan, extending from the Sea of Tiberias to the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea.
it shall be lifted up—namely, Jerusalem shall be exalted, the hills all round being lowered (Mic 4:1).
inhabited in her place—(Zec 12:6).
from Benjamin's gate—leading to the territory of Benjamin. The same as Ephraim's gate, the north boundary of the city (2Ki 14:13).
the first gate—west of the city [Grotius]. "The place of," &c. implies that the gate itself was then not in existence. "The old gate" (Ne 3:6).
the corner gate—east of the city [Grotius]. Or the "corner" joining the north and west parts of the wall [Villalpandus]. Grotius thinks "corners" refers to the towers there built (compare Zep 3:6, Margin).
tower of Hananeel—south of the city, near the sheep gate (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Jer 31:38) [Grotius].
king's wine-presses—(So 8:11). In the interior of the city, at Zion [Grotius].
11. no more utter destruction—(Jer 31:40). Literally, "no more curse" (Re 22:3; compare Mal 4:6), for there will be no more sin. Temporal blessings and spiritual prosperity shall go together in the millennium: long life (Isa 65:20-22), peace (Isa 2:4), honor (Isa 60:14-16), righteous government (Isa 54:14; 60:18). Judgment, as usual, begins at the house of God, but then falls fatally on Antichrist, whereon the Church obtains perfect liberty. The last day will end everything evil (Ro 8:21) [Auberlen].
12. Punishment on the foe, the last Antichristian confederacy (Isa 59:18; 66:24; Eze 38:1-39:29; Re 19:17-21). A living death: the corruption (Ga 6:8) of death combined in ghastly union with the conscious sensibility of life. Sin will be felt by the sinner in all its loathsomeness, inseparably clinging to him as a festering, putrid body.
13. tumult—consternation (Zec 12:4; 1Sa 14:15, 20).
lay hold … on … hand of … neighbour—instinctively grasping it, as if thereby to be safer, but in vain [Menochius]. Rather, in order to assail "his neighbor" [Calvin], (Eze 38:21). Sin is the cause of all quarrels on earth. It will cause endless quarrels in hell (Jas 3:15, 16).
14. Judah … fight at Jerusalem—namely, against the foe: not against Jerusalem, as Maurer translates in variance with the context. As to the spoil gained from the foe, compare Eze 39:10, 17.
15. The plague shall affect the very beasts belonging to the foe. A typical foretaste of all this befell Antiochus Epiphanes and his host at Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 13:49; 2 Maccabees 9:5).
16. every one … left—(Isa 66:19, 23). God will conquer all the foes of the Church. Some He will destroy; others He will bring into willing subjection.
from year to year—literally, "from the sufficiency of a year in a year."
feast of tabernacles—The other two great yearly feasts, passover and pentecost, are not specified, because, their antitypes having come, the types are done away with. But the feast of tabernacles will be commemorative of the Jews' sojourn, not merely forty years in the wilderness, but for almost two thousand years of their dispersion. So it was kept on their return from the Babylonian dispersion (Ne 8:14-17). It was the feast on which Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:8); a pledge of His return to His capital to reign (compare Le 23:34, 39, 40, 42; Re 7:9; 21:3). A feast of peculiar joy (Ps 118:15; Ho 12:9). The feast on which Jesus gave the invitation to the living waters of salvation ("Hosanna," save us now, was the cry, Mt 21:9; compare Ps 118:25, 26) (Joh 7:2, 37). To the Gentiles, too, it will be significant of perfected salvation after past wanderings in a moral wilderness, as it originally commemorated the ingathering of the harvest. The seedtime of tears shall then have issued in the harvest of joy [Moore]. "All the nations" could not possibly in person go up to the feast, but they may do so by representatives.
17. no rain—including every calamity which usually follows in the East from want of rain, namely, scarcity of provisions, famine, pestilence, &c. Rain is the symbol also of God's favor (Ho 6:3). That there shall be unconverted men under the millennium appears from the outbreak of Gog and Magog at the end of it (Re 20:7-9); but they, like Satan their master, shall be restrained during the thousand years. Note, too, from this verse that the Gentiles shall come up to Jerusalem, rather than the Jews go as missionaries to the Gentiles (Isa 2:2; Mic 5:7). However, Isa 66:19 may imply the converse.
18. if … Egypt go not up—specified as Israel's ancient foe. If Egypt go not up, and so there be no rain on them (a judgment which Egypt would condemn, as depending on the Nile's overflow, not on rain), there shall be the plague … . Because the guilty are not affected by one judgment, let them not think to escape, for God has other judgments which shall plague them. Maurer translates, "If Egypt go not up, upon them also there shall be none" (no rain). Ps 105:32 mentions "rain" in Egypt. But it is not their main source of fertility.
19. punishment—literally, "sin"; that is, "punishment for sin."
20. shall there be upon the bells—namely, this inscription, "Holiness to the Lord," the same as was on the miter of the high priest (Ex 28:36). This implies that all things, even the most common, shall be sacred to Jehovah, and not merely the things which under the law had peculiar sanctity attached to them. The "bells" were metal plates hanging from the necks of horses and camels as ornaments, which tinkled (as the Hebrew root means) by striking against each other. Bells attached to horses are found represented on the walls of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik.
pots … like … bowls—the vessels used for boiling, for receiving ashes, &c., shall be as holy as the bowls used for catching the blood of the sacrificial victims (see on Zec 9:15; 1Sa 2:14). The priesthood of Christ will be explained more fully both by the Mosaic types and by the New Testament in that temple of which Ezekiel speaks. Then the Song of Solomon, now obscure, will be understood, for the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven (Re 19:1-21), and on earth it will be a Solomonic period, peaceful, glorious, and nuptial. There will be no king but a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return, but not with the Old Testament, but New Testament glory (Isa 1:26; Eze 45:1-25) [Roos].
21. every pot—even in private houses, as in the temple, shall be deemed holy, so universal shall be the consecration of all things and persons to Jehovah.
take of them—as readily as they would take of the pots of the temple itself, whatever number they wanted for sacrifice.
no … Canaanite—no unclean or ungodly person (Isa 35:8; 52:1; Joe 3:17). Compare as to the final state subsequent to the millennium, Re 21:27; 22:15. Maurer not so well translates "merchant" here, as in Pr 31:24. If a man would have the beginnings of heaven, it must be by absolute consecration of everything to God on earth. Let his life be a liturgy, a holy service of acted worship [Moore].