Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.1. the day of the Lord cometh] Lit. a day to (or, of) Jehovah, i.e. which is in a special manner His. The previous prophecy (Zechariah 13:7-9) is now expanded, attention being concentrated, however, on the city rather than on the land (Zechariah 13:8), and on the final act rather than on the long previous process of purifying discipline. It is impossible satisfactorily to adapt the terms of this prophecy, either to the taking of Jerusalem under the Maccabees, or to its destruction by the Romans. As Pusey well remarks, “those who explain it solely of this, are obliged to mingle explanations partly literal, as that Jerusalem should be the earthly Jerusalem which was destroyed, partly metaphorical, as to the mount of Olives, its division into two parts, &c.” It should moreover be observed that there is no word here of the city being destroyed.
in the midst of thee] So complete shall be the subjugation of the city, that the enemy shall, in perfect security, portion out her spoil amongst the victorious hosts in the very midst of her.
Chap. Zechariah 14:1-7. The final Conflict and Deliverance
All nations shall come against Jerusalem. The city shall be taken, with the attendant horrors of barbarous warfare, and half its population enslaved, Zechariah 14:1-2. Then Jehovah shall appear, as in olden time, to deliver His people, Zechariah 14:3. Beneath His feet, as He descends upon the Mount of Olives, the mountain shall cleave asunder, the two parts moving northward and southward, and being separated by a wide valley running east and west, Zechariah 14:4. By this valley (which shall reach across the ravine of Kedron up to the city wall) the people that remain shall flee from Jerusalem, as they fled from the earthquake in Uzziah’s time. Jehovah shall come with all His holy ones, Zechariah 14:5, and this “day of the Lord,” unlike all other days and known to Him alone, shall be marked by strange phenomena of mingled light and darkness, and shall have for its evening the dawn of the everlasting day, Zechariah 14:6-7.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.2. all nations] Comp. Joel 3:2; Joel 3:9-11; Ezekiel 38, 39; Revelation 20:7-9.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.3. in the day of battle] Some, as Calvin, refer this generally to God’s manifold interpositions on behalf of His people, throughout the course of their history; but it is better to confine it to the first great typical interposition, when the word of command was, “Jehovah shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace”; and even the enemy was fain to confess, “Jehovah fighteth for them against the Egyptians,” Exodus 14:14; Exodus 14:25; comp. Habakkuk 3:15. A comparison may perhaps be suggested between the dividing of the Red Sea (Psalm 136:13), and of the Mount of Olives as here predicted.
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.4. the mount of Olives] Comp. Acts 1:12. “The mount of Olives is the central eminence of a line of hills, of rather more than a mile in length, overhanging the city, from which it is separated only by the narrow bed of the valley of the Brook of Cedron. It rises 187 feet above mount Zion, 295 above mount Moriah, 443 above Gethsemane, and lies between the city and the wilderness toward the Dead Sea.” Pusey.
a very great valley] The cleft in the mountain which is to form this valley will run E. and W., and will be caused by the two parts of the divided mountain moving N. and S.
And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.5. to the valley of the mountains] Rather, by the valley of My mountains, i.e. a way of escape from the city shall be opened to you along the valley formed by My mountains, those mountains, that is, which I have just made for that very purpose, by cleaving the mount of Olives.
unto Azal] Jerome and others render, very near, “usque ad proximum.” If, however, Azal is a proper name, it denotes some then familiar locality, either at the eastern extremity of the newly-formed valley, or more probably at its western extremity, close to the walls of Jerusalem. In any case the meaning is that the way of escape shall be made easy.
the earthquake in the days of Uzziah] There is no mention of this in the historical books. The references to it here and in Amos 1:1 show that it made a deep impression on the people and was long remembered. The story of Josephus (see Stanley, Jewish Church, ii. 439) connecting it with Uzziah’s attempt to burn incense (2 Chronicles 26:19) is probably only an embellishment of this passage of Zechariah. Ewald puts the earthquake in “one of the first years of Uzziah.”
all the saints] Rather, holy ones, i.e. angels. Comp. Deuteronomy 33:2; Matthew 25:31; Judges 14.
with thee] i.e. with the Lord, to whom the prophet turns in direct address. These abrupt changes of person are not uncommon in Hebrew. See chap. Zechariah 2:8, note.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:6. the light shall not be clear, nor dark] Rather, there shall not be light, the bright ones shall be contracted; as in R. V. margin, i.e. the heavenly bodies shall be darkened. It shall be a day of deep gloom. Comp. “The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining,” Joel 3:15, and Matthew 24:29; Revelation 6:12-13.
But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.7. one day] i.e. an unique day, unlike any other: prorsus singularis. Maurer. Comp. Ezekiel 7:5, and for the idea Jeremiah 30:7.
shall be known to the Lord] Rather, is known, R. V. Comp. Mark 13:32. “Quo temporis momento ingruet soli Deo est notum.” Maurer.
not day nor night] Neither wholly day nor wholly night, but a chequered mixture of both. The new creation shall be ushered in, as the first was, by a day of lurid gloom and “darkness visible,” which shall not, however, deepen into night, but brighten at its close into the everlasting dawn. “At evening time there shall be light.”
And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.8. former sea, … hinder sea] Rather, eastern sea, western sea, R. V.: i.e. the Dead Sea on the E., and the Mediterranean Sea on the W. Comp. Ezekiel 47:1; Joel 3:18. This would be the natural watershed, the whole country being level and Jerusalem alone elevated above it, Zechariah 14:10.
in summer and in winter] “ut aquæ istæ nec gelu constringantur hiemis, nec æstatis nimio fervore siccentur.” Hieron. Comp. by way of contrast, Job 6:15-20.
8–11. The Prosperity of the Land
Perennial streams flowing from Jerusalem both to the E. and to the W. shall irrigate and fertilise the land, Zechariah 14:8. One God shall be worshipped without a rival, Zechariah 14:9. The whole face of the country shall become a level plain, Jerusalem alone standing aloft on its ancient hills, Zechariah 14:10, the populous abode of blessing and security, Zechariah 14:11.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.9. the earth] Rather, the land, as in Zechariah 14:10. The wider scope is virtually included, but is not here directly under consideration.
shall there be one Lord, &c.] Rather, Jehovah shall be one, &c., i.e. He shall be one in the recognition and worship of men, as He is unchangeably in His essence and in fact.
and his name one] i. e., as Calvin who discusses this clause at length points out, not only shall one supreme God and fountain as it were of Deity be acknowledged—for many even of the heathen acknowledged that—but His manifold revelations of Himself shall no longer be regarded as so many distinct and inferior deities, but as parts and aspects of the one sole Name by which He makes Himself known to men. Even the Three Persons of the blessed Trinity are included in the One Name. Matthew 28:19.
All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.10. turned as a plain] i.e. changed so as to become as, or like, a plain. Some would render, as the Arabah (R. V.) or Jordan valley, a meaning which the word will bear. Dean Stanley writes, “As a general rule, Palestine is not merely a mountainous country, but a mass of mountains, rising from a level sea-coast on the west, and from a level desert on the east, only cut asunder by the valley of the Jordan from north to south, and by the valley of Jezreel from east to west. The result of this peculiarity is, that not merely the hill-tops, but the valleys and plains of the interior of Palestine, both east and west, are themselves so high above the level of the sea as to partake of all the main characteristics of mountainous history and scenery. Jerusalem is of nearly the same elevation as the highest ground in England, and most of the chief cities of Palestine are several hundred feet above the Mediterranean Sea.” (Sinai and Palestine, p. 129; see also p. 170.) The “plain,” therefore, which the prophet here pictures to himself, may be a table-mountain or elevated platform, all other hills and mountains sinking down to the present level of the “valleys and plains” of Palestine, and leaving Jerusalem standing aloft on this elevated base, the queen-like city and mistress of the world.
“See Salem built, the labour of a God!
Bright as a sun the Sacred City shines;
All kingdoms and all princes of the earth
Flock to that light; the glory of all lands
Flows into her; unbounded is her joy,
And endless her increase.”
Geba] A town of Benjamin, Joshua 21:17; 1 Chronicles 6:60; Nehemiah 11:31. It is spoken of, as it is here, as the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah, in 2 Kings 23:8. “Exactly in accordance with this (the mention of the position of Geba in 1 Samuel 13:3) is the position of the modern village of Jeba, which stands picturesquely on the top of its steep-terraced hill, on the very edge of the great Wady Suweinit.… Standing as it does on the south bank of this important wady—one of the most striking natural features of this part of the country—the mention of Geba as the northern boundary of the lower kingdom is very significant.” Bible Dict. Art. “Geba.”
Rimmon] A town in the south of Palestine, Joshua 15:21; Joshua 15:32, allotted to Simeon, Ib. Joshua 19:1; Joshua 19:7. Its site is now unknown.
it shall be lifted up] she shall be lifted up, R.V., i.e. Jerusalem, which has just been mentioned, shall retain its former elevation, when all the country round has sunk into a plain. “Humiliatis omnibus circumquaque montibus collibusque, urbs primaria Judæ totiusque orbis terrarum (Zechariah 14:9, cf. Micah 4:1), immota suo loco, elata et conspicua mansura dicitur.” Maurer.
from Benjamin’s gate] These limits cannot be defined with certainty; but it seems probable that “the gate of Benjamin” is identical with “the gate of Ephraim” (2 Kings 14:13; Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39), a gate, that is, in the N. wall of the city, which led to the territory of Benjamin and then to that of Ephraim beyond, and which was therefore called indifferently by either name. If we suppose that this gate stood in the middle of the N. wall, we have the breadth of the restored city, measured from it, first westward to “the corner gate” (2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23; Jeremiah 31:38), which was at the N. W. corner of the wall, and then eastward to “the first gate” (the same perhaps as that called “the old gate,” Nehemiah 12:39), which was at the N. E. corner. The length of the city is given, from the tower of Hananeel (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39; Jeremiah 31:38) in the N. to “the king’s winepresses” in the S. The site of these winepresses has not been discovered, but it is not improbable that they were in or near “the king’s garden” (Nehemiah 3:15), at the S. E. extremity of the city.
And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.11. utter destruction] Lit. curse. ἀνάθεμα οὐκ ἔσται ἔτι. LXX. Comp. Revelation 22:3.
And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.12. the people] Lit. peoples, as R. V., i.e. nations.
their flesh] Lit. his flesh, i.e. the flesh of each one of them; and so, his eyes, his tongue; though, to show that the plague is at once individual and universal, it is at the end of the verse, “in their mouth”.
while they stand upon their feet] Lit. and he standing upon his feet. The plague comes upon them in a moment, as they stand in serried ranks before the holy city. “Appalling, horrible picture! standing on their feet, yet their flesh mouldering away, as in a graveyard, their sightless balls decaying in their holes, the tongue putrefying in their mouth, a disgust to themselves and to others.” Pusey.
holes] sockets, R. V.
12–15. The Destruction of Hostile Nations
The deliverance and prosperity of Jerusalem shall be accomplished by a terrible plague sent upon those who fought against her, Zechariah 14:12; and by a panic which shall cause them to slay one another, Zechariah 14:13, and also by the courage and prowess of Judah. The wealth of their enemies shall be the spoil of the Jews, Zechariah 14:14; while the consuming pestilence shall extend to all the cattle in the hostile camp, Zechariah 14:15.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.13. tumult] Comp. 1 Samuel 14:20, where the same word is rendered “discomfiture,” and where, as also in Jdg 7:22; 2 Chronicles 20:23, the foes are described, as here, as fighting against one another in their panic.
And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.14. at Jerusalem] This, or in Jerusalem, and not against Jerusalem (R. V. and margin, A. V.), which would be a wholly meaningless and irrelevant statement here (comp. Zechariah 12:2, note), is the rendering that must be adopted. There is no question here of the strength or allies of the opposing force, but only of the threefold cause of their destruction, viz. (1) the plague sent by God, Zechariah 14:12; (2) mutual slaughter, Zechariah 14:13; (3) the onslaught of Judah, rallying to defend the capital, Zechariah 14:14. “A still further element of ‘confusion’ would be added to the adversaries. When Jonathan gained his wonderful victory over the Philistines’ garrison at Michmash, there was a confusion caused by God in the ranks of the Philistines (1 Samuel 14:20), which resulted, as here, in a terrible conflict taking place in their own ranks. Those Hebrews who on that occasion were with the Philistines, as well as Israelites who had fled into the holes or fastnesses of the mountains, plucked up courage when they saw the confusion of their adversaries, and stood up boldly against them. Thus in the picture here given, when the ranks of the enemies are thinned by pestilence and mutual slaughter, the prophet represents the whole of the people of Judah, not merely those who had escaped out of the city, but also those who were outside its walls, as once more fighting at Jerusalem, or in its very streets, against the terror-driven, plague-stricken, God-confounded foe.” (Rev. C. H. H. Wright.)
the heathen] the nations, R.V., as in Zechariah 14:16, where the same Heb. word is translated “nation” in A.V.
And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.15. tents] camps, R.V.
as this plague] viz. that described in Zechariah 14:13. Comp. for this including the cattle in the curse, Deuteronomy 13:15; Joshua 7:24.
And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.16. the feast of tabernacles] The Jews had been required to appear three times in the year before God at His sanctuary. Of the Gentile nations, distant as they are and scattered over the face of the earth, only one such appearance is required. Various reasons have been suggested why, out of the three great festivals, the feast of tabernacles is selected: because it fell in autumn when travelling is most convenient; because, as a thanksgiving festival for the fruits of the earth, it was one in which all nations might more readily take part; or (which is more probable), because it was the last and greatest festival of the Jewish year, gathering up into itself, as it were, the year’s worship, and at the same time typifying the ingathering of all nations into the Church of God. Comp. Revelation 7:9.
“From every clime they come
To see thy beauty, and to share thy joy,
O Sion! an assembly such as earth
Saw never, such as heav’n stoops down to see.”
16–19. The Homage of the Residue of the Nations
The deliverance of Israel and judgments on her enemies shall have a converting influence on the residue of the Gentiles, who shall become worshippers of Jehovah, and keep the Feast of Tabernacles every year at Jerusalem, Zechariah 14:16. From any nation that refuses so to worship rain shall be withheld as a punishment, Zechariah 14:17. Egypt, the ancient foe of Israel, shall be liable to the same punishment, Zechariah 14:18, which shall fall upon all nations that neglect the feast, Zechariah 14:19.
And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.17. will not come up] goeth not up, R. V.
no rain] Comp. 1 Kings 17; Luke 4:25; Amos 4:7-8. “Pluviæ defectus omnem fere quæ inde oriri in illis terris solet comprehendit calamitatem, annonæ caritatem, seditiones, pestem.” Rosenm.
And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.18. that have no rain] Rather, then not on them, &c. The words are an exact and obviously intended repetition of the first words of the clause at the end of Zechariah 14:17, then not on them shall there be rain. The writer, however, seems to have broken off his sentence suddenly, when he had written, then not on them, perhaps from the remembrance that Egypt was not directly dependent upon rain like other countries (Deuteronomy 11:10-11), and instead of finishing it with the words shall there be rain, to have changed its form, and written “(upon them) there shall be (in its equivalent form, and ultimately owing to the same cause—for the rising of the Nile which fertilizes Egypt is due to the rainfall) the plague, &c. The LXX. escape the difficulty by omitting the negative, καὶ ἐπὶ τούτους ἔσται ἡ πτῶσις: “even upon them shall be the plague.”
This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.19. punishment] Lit. sin, as in margin of A. V. and R. V., but sin here as manifested in its consequences. Comp. Lamentations 3:39, where it is literally, a man for his sins.
In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.20. Holiness unto the Lord] Holy unto the Lord, R. V., and so in Zechariah 14:21; Exodus 28:36.
pots in the Lord’s house] 1 Samuel 2:14; 2 Chronicles 35:13.
bowls before the altar] chap. Zechariah 9:15, note.
20, 21. The perfect and crowning holiness of Jerusalem and Judah
The ornaments of worldly pomp and warlike power shall be as truly consecrated as the very mitre of the High Priest, and every vessel used in the meanest service of the Temple as holy as the vessels of the altar itself, Zechariah 14:20. Nay every common vessel throughout the city and the whole land shall be so holy as to be meet for the service of the sanctuary, and every profane person shall be for ever banished from the house of the Lord, Zechariah 14:21.
Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.21. take of them] All distinction between sacred and secular shall be at an end, because all shall now be alike holy.
the Canaanite] a Canaanite, R. V. Some would render, the merchant, a meaning which the word bears in Job 41:6 [Heb., 40:30]; Proverbs 31:24, and understand the prediction to be, that as any and every vessel that came to hand would serve his purpose, the sacrificer would no longer need to buy a special vessel, and therefore the traffickers in such wares (comp. John 2:14; Matthew 21:12) would cease to frequent the Temple courts. The whole scope of the passage, however, is in favour of the view that “the Canaanite” here means any unclean person, whether heathen who had not accepted the religion and consecrated himself to the service of Jehovah (Nehemiah 13:4-9; Acts 21:28-29), or Jew who in heart and life was no better than a heathen (comp. “O thou seed of Chanaan and not of Juda,” Story of Susanna, ver. 56). The true scope of the prophecy is that city of which it is written, “There shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth, neither whatsoever worketh abomination or maketh a lie: but they which are written in the Lamb’s book of life,” Revelation 21:27.
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