Zechariah 4:7
Who are you, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel you shall become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace to it.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 4:7-9. Who, rather, What art thou, O great mountain — O great obstacle, apparently as insurmountable and immoveable as a high mountain. Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain — Thou shalt sink into nothing. The obstacle shall give way, the difficulty vanish, the opposition cease. Removing mountains, or levelling them into plains, are proverbial expressions, denoting the overcoming the greatest difficulties, and removing all obstacles. So that the angel here encourages Zerubbabel to go on with his undertaking of rebuilding the temple, and restoring the Jewish state, assuring him that all the endeavours of the Samaritans, and of others of the neighbouring people to hinder him, would be fruitless, and that nothing should be able to withstand him. As the words of the text proceed immediately from Jehovah, Blayney thinks they appear more dignified, if considered as expressing the same sense by an interrogation, closed by a brief answer, thus: “What art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel, a level plain.” He shall bring forth the headstone — Namely, of the temple. He shall lay the top or headstone upon the walls of the temple: agreeably to what is said in the next verse, that he should finish the temple, as well as lay the foundation of it; with shoutings, crying Grace, grace unto it — Which action of Zerubbabel shall be accompanied with the joyful acclamations of the people, as also with their earnest prayers, wishing all prosperity, and a long continuance of it, to the temple, and those that should worship God therein. As if he had said, As the free favour of God began and finished the building, may the same favour ever dwell in it and replenish it. But although this be the literal sense of the passage, it has undoubtedly also a mystical meaning. As Christ is figuratively intended by the stone laid before Joshua, (Joshua 3:9,) so here it is figuratively signified that God would bring forth, or bring into the world, the Messiah, as the top, or headstone, the last or finishing ornament of the church, God’s spiritual house, Ephesians 2:21. To this sense the Chaldee paraphrase expounds the words: “His Messiah shall come forth, who was named from all eternity, and shall obtain the empire of all the kingdoms of the earth.” And St. Jerome tells us upon the place, that the ancient Jews explained it so. His hands also shall finish — He shall have the happiness of seeing the great work, which he hath begun, finished and brought to perfection. And thou shalt know, &c. — These may either be the words of the prophet to Zerubbabel, signifying, that when the prediction now uttered was accomplished, it would evidently appear to have been delivered by a divine commission, in which sense similar words must be understood, Zechariah 2:9. Or they may be the words of the angel to the prophet, signifying that when the promise made in the preceding clause was fulfilled, then he would know that God had sent this divine instructer to him, and that the vision was really from God. 4:1-7 The prophet's spirit was willing to attend, but the flesh was weak. We should beg of God that, whenever he speaks to us, he would awaken us, and we should then stir up ourselves. The church is a golden candlestick, or lamp-bearer, set up for enlightening this dark world, and holding forth the light of Divine revelation. Two olive trees were seen, one on each side the candlestick, from which oil flowed into the bowl without ceasing. God brings to pass his gracious purposes concerning his church, without any art or labour of man; sometimes he makes use of his instruments, yet he needs them not. This represented the abundance of Divine grace, for the enlightening and making holy the ministers and members of the church, and which cannot be procured or prevented by any human power. The vision assures us that the good work of building the temple, should be brought to a happy end. The difficulty is represented as a great mountain. But all difficulties shall vanish, and all the objections be got over. Faith will remove mountains, and make them plains. Christ is our Zerubbabel; mountains of difficulty were in the way of his undertaking, but nothing is too hard for him. What comes from the grace of God, may, in faith, be committed to the grace of God, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands.Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt be a plain - The words have the character of a sacred proverb; "Every one that exalteth himself shall be abased" Luke 14:11; Luke 18:14. Isaiah prophesies the victories of the Gospel in the same imagery, "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain" Isaiah 40:4. And in the New Testament Paul says, "The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds, casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalteth itself against God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ" 2 Corinthians 10:4-5. As it is the character of antichrist, that he "opposeth and exalteth himself above everything that is called God" 2 Thessalonians 2:4, so of Satan himself it had been said in the former vision, that he stood at the right hand of Joshua "to to resist him" Joshua 3:1.

So then the mountain symbolizes every resisting power; Satan and all his instruments, who, each in his turn, shall oppose himself anti be brought low. In the first instance, it was Sanballat and his companions, who opposed the rebuilding of the temple, on account of the "exclusiveness" of Zerubbabel and Joshua , because they would not make the temple the abode of a mixed worship of him whom they call your God and of their own idolatries. In all and each of his instruments, the persecuting emperors or the heretics, it was the one adversary. Cyril: "The words seem all but to rebuke the great mountain, that is, Satan, who riseth up and leadeth against Christ the power of his own stubbornness, who was figuratively spoken of before Joshua 3:1. For that as far as it was allowed and in him lay, he warred fiercely against the Saviour, no one would doubt, who considered how he approached Him when fasting in the wilderness, and seeing Him saving all below, willed to make Him his own worshiper, showing Him "all the kingdoms of the world," saying that all should be His, if He "would fall down and worship him" Matthew 4:8-9. Then out of the very choir of the holy Apostles he snatched the traitor disciple, persuading him to became the instrument of the Jewish perverseness. He asks him, "Who art thou?" disparaging him and making him of no account, great as the mountain was and hard to withstand, and in the way of every one who would bring about such things for Christ, of whom, as we said, Zerubbabel was a type."

And he shall bring forth the headstone - The foundation of the temple had long been laid. Humanly it still hung in the balance whether they would be permitted to complete it Ezra 5:Zechariah foretells absolutely that they would. Two images appear to be used in Holy Scripture, both of which meet in Christ: the one, in which the stone spoken of is the foundation-stone; the other, in which it is the head cornerstone binding the two walls together, which it connects. Both were cornerstones; the one at the base, the other at the summit. In Isaiah the whole emphasis is on the foundation; "Behold Me who have laid in Zion a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, well-founded" Isaiah 28:16. In the Psalm, the building hall been commenced; those who were building had disregarded and despised the stone, but "it became the head of the corner," crowning and binding the work in one .

Both images together express, how Christ is the Beginning and the End, the First and the Last; the Foundation of the spiritual building, the Church, and its summit and completion; the unseen Foundation which was laid deep in Calvary, and the Summit to which it grows and which holds it firm together. Whence Peter unites the two prophecies, and blends with them that other of Isaiah, that Christ would "be a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence. To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of people but chosen of God and precious, ye also are built up a spiritual house - Whence also it is contained in the Scripture, Behold, I lay in Zion a chief cornerstone, elect, precious: unto you which believe He is precious, but unto them which be diobedient, the same stone which the builders refused is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, to them which stumble at the word being disobedient" 1 Peter 2:4-7.

A Jew paraphrases this of the Messiah; Jonathan: "And He shall reveal His Messiah, whose name was spoken from the beginning, and he shall rule over all nations."

With shoutings, grace, grace unto it - that is, all favor from God unto it, redoubled favors, grace upon grace. The completion of the building was but the commencement of the dispensation under it. It was the beginning not the end. They pray then for the continued and manifold grace of God, that He would carry on the work, which He had begun. Perseverance, by the grace of God, crowns the life of the Christian; our Lord's abiding presence in grace with His Church unto the end of the world, is the witness that He who founded her upholds her in being.

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).

Who art thou, O great mountain? the angel having resolved the question about building the temple, either himself doth deride all the power of opposers, or the prophet doth triumph over it, Who art thou? Sanballat and confederates, or Satan, or Babylon, or all put together, what are you all, compared with the power of God, the Lord of hosts, who by his Spirit will finish this work?

Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: thou standest in the way of my servant, and thinkest his weakness and poverty cannot remove thee; but if he cannot surmount thy height, I will bring it down and make thee as a plain, and my servant shall as easily go on with my work as a traveller goeth over a way plained before him.

And he, Zerubbabel, as the servant of Christ, shall bring forth the head-stone; shall, as is usual, assist at the laying of the last finishing stone, as well as he saw and assisted when the first foundation stone was laid.

Thereof; of the second temple.

With shoutings; with loud acclamations, the signs of great joy and satisfaction in the thing done.

Crying, Grace, grace unto it; praying, and wishing all prosperity, and a long continuance of it, to the temple, and those that are to worship God in it; as grace and favour of God began, and finished, so may the same grace ever dwell in it, and replenish it. Who art thou, O great mountain?.... This is said in reference to those who opposed the building of the temple, as Sanballat, and others; or the Persian monarchy, and Babylon the capital of it; a mountain being a symbol of a kingdom, or capital city; so Babylon is called, Jeremiah 51:25 hence the Targum paraphrases the words thus,

"how art thou accounted a foolish kingdom before Zerubbabel!''

and may denote the opposition made to Christ, and to the building of his church, both by Rome Pagan and Rome Papal; Rome is signified by a burning mountain cast into the sea, Revelation 8:8 and may include all the enemies of the church and people of God, as sin, Satan, and the world; who, though they may look like high and great mountains, and make much opposition, and throw many difficulties in their way, yet in the issue will he of no avail; See Gill on Isaiah 49:11. Some Jewish writers (p), by "the great mountain", understand the Messiah, but very wrongly; for he is designed by Zerubbabel in the next clause; but not by the "headstone", as the Targum interprets it:

before Zerubbabel thou shall become a plain; as all opposition and difficulties were surmounted by Zerubbabel in building the temple; so all vanish and disappear before Christ, the antitype of Zerubbabel, in the building up of his church, through the conversion of sinners, and in the protection and preservation of it:

and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof; that is, he, Zerubbabel, shall finish the building of the temple, as in Zechariah 4:9 the headstone being the last and uppermost stone in the building, which is last laid, and completes the whole; and in the spiritual sense designs, not Christ the headstone of the corner, for it is he that is Zerubbabel's antitype, who brings it in; but the last man that will be converted, when the number of God's elect will be completed in regeneration: they are all in Christ's hands, and under his care; before conversion they are secretly his, his hidden ones; in conversion he brings them forth, and makes them to appear what they are; and, when the last of this number is born again, the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven, will be wholly built, and nothing wanting in it; and the work of grace will have the last hand put to it, and be perfect in all. Christ is indeed sometimes called the headstone of the corner, and the chief cornerstone, Psalm 118:22 and he is the principal one in the spiritual building the church; he is the foundation stone, on which the whole is laid; and he is the cornerstone, that joins, knits, and keeps all together; he is both the stability, safety, and ornament of the building; Christ is the first, but not the last stone laid, which this must be: rather the perfection of grace is designed, or the bringing of the work of God to perfection; which may be signified hereby, in allusion to an edifice, which, when the last or top stone is laid, is then completed; and, if taken in this sense, must be understood, not of justifying grace, which is complete at once; Christ's righteousness being a perfect justifying righteousness, and every believer complete in it; but of sanctifying grace, which, though, as to the principle of it, is all wrought together, yet is not at once perfected; it is gradually brought to perfection; there is a perfection of parts, but not of degrees; no man is perfectly holy in himself, only as he is in Christ; but holiness in the saint will be perfected, for without it no man can see the Lord; and this is done at death in every individual believer; and then follows a state of sinless perfection; and the last measure of grace given, which perfects the work, may be called the headstone, the crowning, finishing part: and this wilt be brought in by Christ, the author and finisher of faith; who is a rock, and his work is perfect; he is able to do it; and who so fit, as he who is full of grace? and who so proper, as the master builder, and Head of the church? this grace, which perfects all, is in Christ; he brings it out from himself, in whom it has pleased the Father all fulness should dwell: but it is best of all to interpret the headstone of the last of the elect of God, and redeemed of the Lamb, that will be called by grace; who has this name, not from any superior excellency in him to any of the other lively stones, laid in the spiritual building; but because he is the last that is put there; and which shows, that not one of those God has chosen, and Christ has redeemed, shall be lost; it is the will of God, and it is the care of Christ, that none should perish, but all should come to repentance, to the glory of his rich grace; or otherwise the building would not be complete, nor the church the fulness of him that filleth all in all. The Targum indeed paraphrases the words of Christ,

"and he shall reveal his Christ, whose name is said from eternity, and he shall rule over all kingdoms:''

and mention being made of a capital and principal stone, in this vision of the candlestick, may put one in mind of the stone the Jews (q) speak of, which was before the candlestick in the temple, which had three steps, and on which the priest stood, and trimmed the lamps: and this will be attended

with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it; as the people of the Jews shouted, when the first stone was laid in the foundation of the temple, Ezra 3:11 so it is here intimated that their acclamations would be very great when the last stone would be brought in, and the building finished; which they would ascribe to the grace, favour, and good will of God to them: so likewise, as the work of conversion is wholly owing to the grace of God, an abundance of which is displayed in it; when it is finished in the hearts of all the Lord's people, and the last man designed to be called by it is converted, and so the spiritual building of the church finished; this will be attended with the shouts of angels, who rejoice at the conversion of every sinner, and much more when all the elect are gathered in; and the acclamations of all the saints, for the marriage of the Lamb, will now be come, and the church be ready, as a bride prepared for her husband; see Revelation 19:6. The repetition of the phrase, "grace, grace", denotes that the work of conversion in all the saints, from the first to the last, is only owing to the grace of God, and not to any merit, motive, and condition in man; that they are saved and called, not according to their works, but according to the purpose and grace of God, his abundant mercy, free favour, and great love; and that this grace is exceeding abundant, which is displayed in the conversion of a single individual; and how large and copious must it be, which is given forth to them all. It is also expressive of the vehemency of those that use the phrase; and shows that they have a deep sense of it on their hearts; and are warmed, and glow with it; and cannot sufficiently express their admiration of it; and strive to magnify it to the uttermost of their power, being sensible of their obligations to God for it, and what gratitude is due to him on account of it: and this will be the cry of every saint in glory, throughout the endless ages of eternity; nor will the least sound be heard that is jarring, or contrary to it; all will be of one mind, and in one tone, and strive to outdo each other in exalting the free grace of God in the highest strains, with the greatest fervency of soul, and with the loudest acclamations, and those continually repeated.

(p) Tanchuma in Yalkut Simeoni in loc. (q) T. Bab. Menachot, fol. 92. 1. & Tamid, fol. 30. 2. Maimon. Beth Habechira, c. 3. sect. 11.

Who art thou, O {e} great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and {f} he shall bring forth its headstone with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace to it.

(e) He compares the power of the adversaries to a great mountain, who thought the Jews were nothing with regard to them, and would have hindered Zerubbabel, who represented Christ, whom the enemies daily labour to stop in the building of his spiritual Temple, but all in vain.

(f) Though the enemies think to stop this building, yet Zerubbabel will lay the highest stone of it, and bring it to perfection, so that all the godly will rejoice, and pray to God that he would continue his grace and favour toward the Temple.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. great mountain] Comp. Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 49:11; Matthew 17:20; Matthew 21:21; 1 Corinthians 13:2. So had the mountain-like obstacles of the power of their captors (Ezra 1:1), and the unwillingness of the people, first to return (Zechariah 4:5), and then to persevere in the work (Haggai 1:14), already “become a plain,” by the “Spirit of the Lord,” stirring up the spirit of man.

Grace, grace unto it] i.e. all favour rest upon it! “Faveat ei Deus, faveant homines.” Maurer.Verse 7. - Who art thou, O great mountain? The "mountain" is a figurative expression to denote the various difficulties that stood in Zerubbabel's way and impeded the carrying out of his great design. Before Zerubbabel. The Vulgate affixes these words to the former part of the clause, but the accent is in favour of the Authorized Version. Thou Shall become a plain; literally, into a plain! A command. All obstacles shall be removed (comp. Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 49:11; Matthew 17:20; Luke 3:4, 5). Septuagint, τοῦ κατορθῶσαι (intrans.), "that thou shouldst prosper;" "ut corrigas" (Jerome). He shall bring forth the headstone thereof. "He" is evidently Zerubbabel. He shall commence and put the finishing stroke to the work of rebuilding the temple. Many commentators take this stone to be the one that completes the building, "the topstone." But it may well be questioned whether a building like the temple could have any such stone. An arch or a pyramid may have a crowning stone, but no other edifice; nor is there any proof that such a topstone was known or its erection celebrated. It may be a mere metaphor for the completion of the work. It is better, however, to take it as the cornerstone, to which we know great importance was attached (comp. Job 38:6; Psalm 118:22, etc.). This stone, on which the building rests, Zerubbabel will bring forth from the workshop; as the next verses say, his hands have laid the foundation. That action, already past, is represented as future, the regular commencement of the work under Zerubbabel's direction being intimated, and its happy conclusion promised. Septuagint, Καὶ ἐξοίσω τὸν λίθον τῆς κληρονομίας, "And I will bring forth the stone of the inheritance" - the meaning of which is obscure, though Jerome explains it by considering it an allusion to Christ. With shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it! All the by standers, as the stone is placed, shout in acclamation, "God's favour rest upon it!" (Ezra 3:10). The LXX. seems to have mistaken the sense, rendering, Ἰσότητα χάριτος χάριτα αὐτῆς, "The grace of it the equality of grace" (John 1:16); and to have led St. Jerome astray, who translates, "Et exsaequabit gratiam gratiae ejus," and comments thus: "We all have received of his fulness, and grace for grace, that is, the grace of the gospel for the grace of the Law, in order theft the Israelites and the heathen who believe may receive equal grace and a like blessing." The Targum recognizes here a Messianic prophecy: "He will reveal the Messiah whose Name is spoken of from all eternity, and he shall rule over all the kingdoms." In Habakkuk 3:12 there follows a description of the judgment upon the nations for the rescue of the people of God. Habakkuk 3:12. "In fury Thou walkest through the earth, in wrath Thou stampest down nations. Habakkuk 3:13. Thou goest out to the rescue of Thy people, to the rescue of Thine anointed one; Thou dashest in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one, laying bare the foundation even to the neck. Selah. Habakkuk 3:14. Thou piercest with his spears the head of his hordes, which storm hither to beat me to powder, whose rejoicing is, as it were, to swallow the poor in secret. Habakkuk 3:15. Thou treadest upon the sea: Thy horses, upon the heap of great waters." The Lord, at whose coming in the terrible glory of the majesty of the Judge of the world all nature trembles and appears to fall into its primary chaotic state, marches over the earth, and stamps or tramples down the nations with His feet (compare the kindred figure of the treader of the winepress in Isaiah 63:1-6). Not all nations, however, but only those that are hostile to Him; for He has come forth to save His people and His anointed one. The perfects in Habakkuk 3:13-15 are prophetic, describing the future in spirit as having already occurred. יצא, referring to the going out of God to fight for His people, as in Judges 5:4; 2 Samuel 5:24; Isaiah 42:13, etc. ישׁע, rescue, salvation, is construed the second time with an accusative like an inf. constr. (see Ewald, 239, a). The anointed of God is not the chosen, consecrated nation (Schnur., Ros., Hitzig, Ewald, etc.); for the nation of Israel is never called the anointed one (hammâshı̄ăch) by virtue of its calling to be "a kingdom of priests" (mamlekheth kohănı̄m, Exodus 19:6), neither in Psalm 28:8 nor in Psalm 84:10; Psalm 89:39. Even in Psalm 105:15 it is not the Israelites who are called by God "my anointed" (meshı̄chai), but the patriarchs, as princes consecrated by God (Genesis 23:6). And so here also משׁיחך is the divinely-appointed king of Israel; not, however, this or that historical king - say Josiah, Jehoiakim, or even Jehoiachin - but the Davidic king absolutely, including the Messiah, in whom the sovereignty of David is raised to an eternal duration, "just as by the Chaldaean king here and in Psalm 2:1-12 we must understand the Chaldaean kings generally" (Delitzsch), wince the prophecy spreads from the judgment upon the Chaldaeans to the universal judgment upon the nations, and the Chaldaean is merely introduced as the possessor of the imperial power. The Messiah as the Son of David is distinguished from Jehovah, and as such is the object of divine help, just as in Zechariah 9:9, where He is called נושׁע in this respect, and in the royal Messianic psalms. This help God bestows upon His people and His anointed, by dashing in pieces the head from the house of the wicked one. The râshâ‛ (wicked one) is the Chaldaean, not the nation, however, which is spoken of for the first time in Habakkuk 3:14, but the Chaldaean king, as chief of the imperial power which is hostile to the kingdom of God. But, as the following clause clearly shows, the house is the house in the literal sense, so that the "head," as part of the house, is the gable. A distinction is drawn between this and yeshōd, the foundation, and צוּאר, the neck, i.e., the central part looking from the gable downwards. The destruction takes place both from above and below at once, so that the gable and the foundation are dashed in pieces with one blow, and that even to the neck, i.e., up to the point at which the roof or gable rests upon the walls. עד, inclusive, embracing the part mentioned as the boundary; not exclusive, so as to leave the walls still rising up as ruins. The description is allegorical, the house representing the Chaldaean dynasty, the royal family including the king, but not "including the exalted Chaldaean kingdom in all its prosperity" (Hitzig). ערות, a rare form of the inf. abs., like שׁתות in Isaiah 22:13 (cf. Ewald, 240, b), from ערה, to make bare, to destroy from the very foundation, the infinitive in the sense of the gerund describing the mode of the action.

The warlike nation meets with the same fate as the royal house (Habakkuk 3:14). The meaning of the first clause of the verse depends upon the explanation to be given to the word perâzâv. There is no foundation for the meaning leaders or judges, which has been claimed for the word perâzı̄m ever since the time of Schroeder and Schnur. In Hebrew usage perâzı̄ signifies the inhabitant of the plain (Deuteronomy 3:5; 1 Samuel 6:18), and perâzōth the plains, the open flat land, as distinguished from walled cities (Ezekiel 38:11). Perâzōn has the same meaning in Judges 5:7 and Judges 5:11. Consequently Delitzsch derives perâzâv from a segholate noun perez or pērez, in the sense of the population settled upon the open country, the villagers and peasantry, whence the more general signification of a crowd or multitude of people, and here, since the context points to warriors, the meaning hordes, or hostile companies, which agrees with the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi, who explain the word as signifying warriors or warlike troops. ראשׁ, the head of his hordes, cannot be the leader, partly because of what follows, "who come storming on," which presupposes that not the leader only, but the hordes or warriors, will be destroyed, and partly also because of the preceding verse, in which the destruction of the king is pronounced, and also because the distinction between the king and the leader of the army is at variance with the complex character of the prophetic description. We must take ראשׁ in the literal sense, but collectively, "heads." The prophet was led to the unusual figure of the piercing of the head by the reminiscence of the piercing of Sisera's head by Jael (Judges 5:26). The suffixes in בּמטּיו and פּרזו refer back to רשׁע. מטּיו, sticks, for lance or spears, after 2 Samuel 18:14. The meaning of the words is this: with the spear of the king God pierces the heads of his warlike troops; and the thought expressed is, that the hostile troops will slay one another in consequence of the confusion, as was the case in the wars described in 1 Samuel 14:20 and 2 Chronicles 20:23-24, and as, according to prophecy, the last hostile power of the world is to meet with its ruin when it shall attack the kingdom of God (Ezekiel 38:21; Zechariah 14:13). יסערוּ להף is to be taken relatively: "which storm hither (sâ‛ar, approach with the swiftness and violence of a storm) to destroy me." The prophet includes himself along with the nation, and uses hēphı̄ts with reference to the figure of the dispersion or powdering of the chaff by a stormy wind (Isaiah 41:16; Jeremiah 13:24; Jeremiah 18:17). עליצתם forms a substantive clause by itself: "their rejoicing is," for they who rejoice, as if to swallow, i.e., whose rejoicing is directed to this, to swallow the poor in secret. The enemies are compared to highway murderers, who lurk in dark corners for the defenceless traveller, and look forward with rejoicing for the moment when they may be able to murder him. עני forms the antithesis to רשׁע. Inasmuch as "the wicked" denotes the Chaldaean; "the poor" is the nation of Israel, i.e., the congregation of the righteous, who are really the people of God. To devour the poor, i.e., to take violent possession of his life and all that he has (cf. Proverbs 30:14, and for the fact itself, Psalm 10:8-10), is, when applied to a nation, to destroy it (vid., Deuteronomy 7:16 and Jeremiah 10:25).

In order that these enemies may be utterly destroyed, God passes through the sea. This thought in Habakkuk 3:15 connects the conclusion of the description of the judicial coming of God with what precedes. The drapery of the thought rests upon the fact of the destruction of Pharaoh and his horsemen in the Red Sea (Exodus 14). The sea, the heap of many waters, is not a figurative expression for the army of the enemy, but is to be taken literally. This is required by דּרכתּ ביּם, since דּרך with ב, to tread upon a place, or enter into it (cf. Micah 5:4; Isaiah 59:8; Deuteronomy 11:24-25), does not suit the figurative interpretation; and it is required still more by the parallel passages, viz., Psalm 77:20 (בּיּם דּרכּך), which floated before the prophet's mind, and Zechariah 10:11. Just as God went through the Red Sea in the olden time to lead Israel through, and to destroy the Egyptian army, so will He in the future go through the sea and do the same, when He goes forth to rescue His people out of the power of the Chaldaean. The prophet does not express the latter indeed, but it is implied in what he says. סוּסיך is an accusative, not instrumenti, however, but of more precise definition: thou, namely, according to thy horses; for "with thy horses," as in Psalm 83:19; Psalm 44:3 (אתּה ידך); cf. Ewald, 281, c, and 293, c. The horses are to be taken, as in Habakkuk 3:8, as harnessed to the chariots; and they are mentioned here with reference to the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, which were destroyed by Jehovah in the sea. Chōmer, in the sense of heap, as in Exodus 8:10, is not an accusative, but is still dependent upon the ב of the parallel clause. The expression "heap of many waters" serves simply to fill up the picture, as in Psalm 77:20.

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