|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
6:1-8 This vision may represent the ways of Providence in the government of this lower world. Whatever the providences of God about us are, as to public or private affairs, we should see them all as coming from between the mountains of brass, the immoveable counsels and decrees of God; and therefore reckon it as much our folly to quarrel with them, as it is our duty to submit to them. His providences move swiftly and strongly as chariots, but all are directed and governed by his infinite wisdom and sovereign will. The red horses signify war and bloodshed. The black, signify the dismal consequences of war, famines, pestilences, and desolations. The white, signify the return of comfort, peace, and prosperity. The mixed colour, signify events of different complexions, a day of prosperity and a day of adversity. The angels go forth as messengers of God's counsels, and ministers of his justice and mercy. And the secret motions and impulses upon the spirits of men, by which the designs of Providence are carried on, are these four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from God, and fulfil what the God of the spirits of all flesh appoints. All the events which take place in the world spring from the unchangeable counsels of the Lord, which are formed in unerring wisdom, perfect justice, truth, and goodness; and from history it is found that events happened about the period when this vision was sent to the prophet, which seem referred to therein.
Verse 6. - The angel now (vers. 6, 7) indicates the various destinations of the chariots, except the first with the red horses. Why this is omitted has never been satisfactorily explained. Some regard ver. 7 as giving the destination of this chariot, by making a slight change in the word rendered "bay" in the Authorized Version, which would cause it to mean "red." The Syriac, indeed, which omits the word in ver. 3, translates it here by "red." If we retain the Masoretic reading, we must let this difficulty remain unsolved, and suppose that the angel explains only part of the vision, leaving the rest for the prophet's meditation. The black horses which are therein; literally, that wherein are the black horses, they go forth, etc.; which is equivalent to "the chariot wherein are the black horses goeth forth." So the Revised Version. The north country. Babylonia (see note on Zechariah 2:6). After them; behind them. The white horses go to the same quarter; and thus is indicated the overwhelming destruction that was coming on Babylon, and the victory and triumph of the conquerors over it. The south country; i.e. Egypt (Isaiah 30:6; Daniel 11:5), another hostile power, also, perhaps, Edom and Ethiopia. One chariot only is seen to go towards it, drawn by the speckled horses that denote a mixed judgment, perhaps of war and pestilence (see on ver. 3). The north and south symbolize the whole earth and the powers hostile to the true Israel.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
The black horses which are therein,.... Which were in the second chariot: no further mention is made of the red horses in the first chariot, because the kingdom of the Chaldeans was now extinct: these design the Medes and Persians:
go forth into the north country: into the country of Babylon or Chaldea, which lay north of Judea; see Jeremiah 1:13 and other places; these went to Babylon, took that, and seized on the empire, and delivered the Jews, who were captives there:
and the white go forth after them; the Grecians under Alexander, who went after the Medes and Persians into the same country, and fought Darius the Persian, and conquered him:
and the grisled go forth toward the south country; the Romans under Julius Caesar, Augustus, and others before them, who went into Egypt, which lay south of Judea, Daniel 11:5 and conquered that, and other nations, and set up the fourth kingdom or monarchy.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
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.
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