|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
3:1-5 The angel showed Joshua, the high priest, to Zechariah, in a vision. Guilt and corruption are great discouragements when we stand before God. By the guilt of the sins committed by us, we are liable to the justice of God; by the power of sin that dwells in us, we are hateful to the holiness of God. Even God's Israel are in danger on these accounts; but they have relief from Jesus Christ, who is made of God to us both righteousness and sanctification. Joshua, the high priest, is accused as a criminal, but is justified. When we stand before God, to minister to him, or stand up for God, we must expect to meet all the resistance Satan's subtlety and malice can give. Satan is checked by one that has conquered him, and many times silenced him. Those who belong to Christ, will find him ready to appear for them, when Satan appears most strongly against them. A converted soul is a brand plucked out of the fire by a miracle of free grace, therefore shall not be left a prey to Satan. Joshua appears as one polluted, but is purified; he represents the Israel of God, who are all as an unclean thing, till they are washed and sanctified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God. Israel now were free from idolatry, but there were many things amiss in them. There were spiritual enemies warring against them, more dangerous than any neighbouring nations. Christ loathed the filthiness of Joshua's garments, yet did not put him away. Thus God by his grace does with those whom he chooses to be priests to himself. The guilt of sin is taken away by pardoning mercy, and the power of it is broken by renewing grace. Thus Christ washes those from their sins in his own blood, whom he makes kings and priests to our God. Those whom Christ makes spiritual priests, are clothed with the spotless robe of his righteousness, and appear before God in that; and with the graces of his Spirit, which are ornaments to them. The righteousness of saints, both imputed and implanted, is the fine linen, clean and white, with which the bride, the Lamb's wife, is arrayed, Re 19:8. Joshua is restored to former honours and trusts. The crown of the priesthood is put on him. When the Lord designs to restore and revive religion, he stirs up prophets and people to pray for it.
Verses 1-10. - § 6. The fourth vision: Joshua the high priest before the angel. Verse 1. - He showed me. The Septuagint and Vulgate give, "The Lord showed me." Some suppose that it was the interpreting angel who showed this vision; but his duty was to explain, not to present, the visions. So in Zechariah 1:20 it is the Lord who shows the "four craftsmen." This vision is closely connected with the last. In that it was declared that the Lord would again dwell in Jerusalem, and visit his people with blessings. But to fit them for the presence and favour of Jehovah they must be pure. To this end they must have a holy priesthood to train them in righteous ways, to oppose the attacks of the adversary, and to intercede for them effectually. The removal of their impurity is represented in the fourth vision. Joshua the high priest (see note on Haggai 1:1). The name is written Joshua in Ezra 2:2, etc. He was the first of the high priests after the Captivity, succeeding, as by hereditary right, his father Josedech, who died in Babylon. For his services in restoring the temple he is praised among great men in Ecclus. 49:12. Standing before the angel of the Lord. Joshua is the representative of the priesthoood, and through that also of the whole people. The angel of Jehovah (see notes on Zechariah 1:11, 13) is the representative of and endowed with attributes of Jehovah, the Friend and Leader of Israel. The phrase, "standing before," is used in a ministerial sense, as of a servant rendering service to a superior (Genesis 41:46; 1 Kings 12:6, 8), and a priest or Levite performing his official duties (Deuteronomy 10:8; Ezekiel 44:15) : also, in a judicial sense, of a person appearing before a judge, either as plaintiff (Numbers 27:2; 1 Kings 3:16) or defendant (Numbers 35:12). Many commentators find in this scene a judicial process, Joshua appearing before the angel as before his judge; and Ewald supposes that it adumbrates his actual accusation at the Persian court, The mention of the adversary at the right hand (Psalm 109:6) is supposed to confirm this interpretation. But it is obvious that the adversary might stand at the right hand, not as a formal accuser in a trial, but in order to resist and hinder Joshua's proceedings; the angel, too, is not represented as sitting on a throne of judgment, but standing by (ver. 5), and there is no further intimation of any judicial process in the vision. It is therefore best to conceive that Joshua is interceding for the people in his official capacity in the presence of the representative of Jehovah. The locality is not specified; it may have been before the altar, which, we know, was built and used at this time. The special mention of his garments implies that he was engaged in official duties in a consecrated spot; but the place is immaterial. Satan; the adversary, or accuser. The personality of Satan is here plainly recognized, as in Job 1:6, etc.; Job 2:1, etc., rendered by the LXX. in all these places, ὁ διάβολος (see Appendix B, in Archdeacon Perowne's 'Commentary on Zechariah'). At his (Joshua's) right hand. Not as a judicial accuser, but as an enemy to resist his efforts for the good of the people, and to thwart his interests with the angel of the Lord. To resist him; to act the adversary to him. The verb is cognate to, the noun above. From what follows we must suppose that Satan objects against Joshua both his own personal sin and the transgressions of the people whose burden he bore (comp. ver. 9, where his sin is called "the iniquity of the land," which would include the guilt which had led to the Captivity, their dilatoriness in building the temple, and all their backslidings since the return).
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And he showed me Joshua the high priest,.... Who was one that came up out of the captivity, and was principally concerned in building the temple, and had many enemies to obstruct him in it; and who falling into sin, or his sons, in marrying strange wives, Ezra 10:18, which he might connive at, Satan was ready to catch it up, and accuse him before God; though rather Joshua is to be considered, not personally, but typically, representing the state and condition of the priesthood, in which office he was; and which was very low, mean, and abject, under the second temple; or the church of God, which the priests, especially the high priest, were representatives of: and indeed this vision may be accommodated to the case of any single believer, fallen into sin, and accused by Satan, and whose advocate Christ is:
standing before the Angel of the Lord; not any created angel, but Christ the Angel of God's presence, who is called Jehovah, Zechariah 3:2 is the rebuker of Satan, and the advocate of his people; and who takes away their sins, and clothes them with his righteousness: and "standing before" him does not mean barely being in his sight and presence, but as ministering to him; this being the posture both of angels and men, the servants of the Lord, Daniel 7:10, either he was offering sacrifice for the people, or asking counsel of God for them; or rather giving thanks for his and their deliverance from captivity, being as brands taken out of the fire; and praying to be stripped of his filthy garments, and to be clothed with others more decent, and becoming his office; and for help and assistance in the building of the temple, and against those that obstructed him: also he was brought and placed here as a guilty person, charged with sin, and to be tried before him,
Satan standing at his right hand to resist him; either to hinder him in his work of building the temple, by stirring up Sanballat, and other enemies; or rather to accuse him of sin, and bring a charge against him, and get sentence passed upon him; so the accuser used to stand at the right hand of the accused. The Targum paraphrases it,
"and sin standing at his right hand to resist him:''
when the people of God fall into sin, Satan the accuser of the brethren, their avowed enemy, observes it, and accuses them before the Lord, and seeks their condemnation. Maimonides (p) understands this of his standing at the right hand of the angel; but it was not usual for the prosecutor, accuser, or pleader, whether for or against a person arraigned, to stand the right hand of the judge: indeed, in the Jewish sanhedrim, or grand court of judicature, there were two scribes stood before the judges; the one on the right hand, the other on the left; who took down in writing the pleadings in court, and the sentences of those that were acquitted, and of those that were condemned; he on the right hand the former, and the other on the left hand the latter (q). The prince or chief judge of the court sat in the middle; and his deputy, called "Ab Beth Din", or father of the court, sat at his right hand; and a wise man, a principal one, at his left (r); but it was usual for the pleader, who was called , "Baal Rib", to stand on the right hand of the party cited into the court, whether he pleaded for or against him (s): and to this custom is the allusion here, and in Psalm 106:6 where Satan, who is the accuser of men, and pleads against them, is placed at the right hand, as here; and God, who pleads the cause of his poor people, is also represented as standing on their right hand. The business of Satan here was to accuse, to bring charges, to plead for condemnation, and endeavour to get the sentence of it passed against Joshua; for he was at his right hand, to be an "adversary" to him, as his name (Satan) signifies, which he has from
the word here used; being an enemy to mankind in general, and especially to the people of God, and more especially to persons in sacred public offices; to whom he is "a court adversary", as the Apostle Peter calls him, 1 Peter 5:8 who appears in open court against them, and charges them in a most spiteful and malicious manner; and is a most, implacable, obstinate, and impudent one, as his name signifies, and the word from whence it is derived (t); though Maimonides (u) thinks the name is derived from which signifies to decline, or go back from anything; since he, without doubt, makes men to decline from the way of truth to the way of falsehood and error.
(p) Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22. p. 398. (q) Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3. Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 9. Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, Pr. Affirm. 97. (r) Maimon. ib. sect. 3. Vid. Cocceium in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3.((s) Godwin's Moses and Aaron, l. 5. c. 3.((t) Vid. Schultens in Job i. 6. (u) Moreh Nevochim, ut supra. (par. 3. c. 22. p. 398.)
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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