|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
12:1-8 Here is a Divine prediction, which will be a heavy burden to all the enemies of the church. But it is for Israel; for their comfort and benefit. It is promised that God will make foolish the counsels, and weaken the courage of the enemies of the church. The exact meaning is not clear; but God often begins by calling the poor and despised; and in that day even the feeblest will resemble David, and be as eminent in courage and every thing good. Desirable indeed is it that the examples and labours of Christians should render them as fire among wood, as a torch in a sheaf, to kindle the flame of Divine love, to spread religion on the right hand and on the left.
Verse 3 - A burdensome stone. Jerusalem shall prove to all the nations that attack it a weight not only too heavy to lift, but one which, itself remaining unhurt, shall wound and injure those who attempt to carry it. Jerome supposes here an allusion to a custom in the towns of Palestine, which prevailed to his day (and, indeed, in Syria even now), of placing round stones of great weight at certain distances, by lifting which the youths tested their bodily strength. But we do not know that this custom existed in Zcehariah's time, and the nations are not gathered together for amusement or display of strength, but for hostile attack. Septuagint, λίθον καταπατούμενον, "a stone trodden down," which reminds one of Luke 21:24, Ἱερουσαλὴμ ἔσται πατουμένη ὑπὸ ἐθνῶν. Shall be cut in pieces; i.e. by the sharp edges of the stone, or, as the Revised Version, shall be sore wounded. Though; rather, and; Septuagint, καὶ ἐπισυναχθήσονται: Vulgate, et colligentur. All the people (peoples) of the earth. This indicates that the struggle spoken of is no mere local conflict, waged in Maccabean or other times, but the great battle of the world against the Church, which shall rage in the Messianic era.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people,.... The Targum renders it "a stone of offence"; at which they shall stumble and fall; but it seems to design the immovableness of the state and condition of Jerusalem, that those who attempt to remove her out of her place, or to make any alteration in her happy circumstances, will not be able to do it, Psalm 125:1. Jerom makes mention of a custom in the cities of Palestine, and which continued to his times throughout all Judea, that large, huge, round stones, used to be placed in the towns and villages, which the youths exercised themselves with, by trying to lift them up as high as they could, by which they showed their strength; and the same ancient writer observes that a like custom obtained in Greece; for he says he himself saw in the tower at Athens, by the image of Minerva, a globe of brass, of at very great weight, which he, through the weakness of his body, could not move; and asking the meaning of it, he was told that the strength of wrestlers was tried by it; and no man might be admitted a combatant, until it was known, by the lifting up of that weight, with whom he should be matched; and the throwing of the "discus" was an ancient military exercise, as old as the times of Homer, who speaks (z) of it; and is mentioned by Latin writers, as appears from some lines of Martial (a); see the Apocrypha:
"In like manner also Judas gathered together all those things that were lost by reason of the war we had, and they remain with us,'' (2 Maccabees 2:14)
and this, as it tried the strength of men, so it was sometimes dangerous to themselves, or to bystanders, lest it should fall upon their heads: and as it was usual to defend themselves and oppress enemies by casting stones at them, so young men used to exercise themselves by lifting up and casting large stones; to which Virgil (b) sometimes refers; and it is well known that Abimelech was killed even by a woman casting a piece of a millstone upon his head, Judges 9:53 and such heavy stones, and the lifting of them up, in order to cast them, may he alluded to here:
all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces; all that attempt to unsettle and remove it shall be pressed down with the weight of it, and be utterly destroyed: or, "shall be torn to pieces" (c); as men's hands are cut and torn with rough and heavy stones, The Targum is,
"all that injure her shall be consumed;''
which gives the sense of the passage:
though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it; so safe and secure will the people of God be; he being a wall of fire round about them, and the glory in the midst of them.
(z) Iliad. 2. & 23. (a) "Splendida cum volitent Spartani pondera disci Este procul pueri; sit se nel ille nocens." ---Epigr. l. 14. Ep. 157. (b) "Certabant Troes contra defendere saxis." ---Aeneid. l. 9. "Mijaculis, illi certent defendere saxis." --Aeneid. l. 10. --Vid. Lydium de Re Militari, l. 5. c. 2. p. 178, 179. & Menochium de Republica Hebr. l. 6. col. 555, 556. (c) "incidendo incidentur", Montanus, Burkius; "lacerando lacerabuntur", Pagninus, Cocceius.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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