Zechariah 2
Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.
Ch. Zechariah 2:1. a man] Probably an angel in human form, called a “young man,” Zechariah 2:4, where see note

a measuring line] The word is not the same as in Zechariah 1:16; but the promise there is taken up here, and its literal fulfilment, which the action of the man with the line seemed about to secure, is merged in a greater blessing. In Ezekiel 40:3, Revelation 11:1; Revelation 21:15, a reed is used, in addition to, or instead of, a line as here.

Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.
And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him,
3. went forth] from the place where he was standing beside me. Comp. Isaiah 26:21.

went out] Rather, went forth, the Hebrew word being the same as before. This second angel is seen going forth from the opposite side of the stage on which the vision appears, to meet the interpreting angel as he went forth.

And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
4. and said unto him] Rather, and he said unto him; i.e. the interpreting angel said to the second angel whom he met. That he might remain himself near the prophet, whose interpreter he was appointed to be throughout the whole series of visions, he sent his brother angel instead of going himself in pursuit of the man with the measuring line, who by this time had passed on his errand out of the field of view, giving him a message for him in the hearing of the prophet, and so discharging his interpreting function, so far as this vision is concerned.

this young man] Some commentators refer this to Zechariah himself, and understand it to be the second angel in Zechariah 2:3, who meeting the interpreting angel bids him run back to the prophet with the announcement that follows. It is difficult, however, to see why on this view the angel should be told to “run;” whereas on the view taken above the messenger is directed to hasten after one who has already started on his errand, and the scenic character of the vision is altogether better maintained.

as towns without walls] as open, unwalled country villages. The word is rendered, “unwalled villages,” Ezekiel 38:11, and is there explained to be places where men are “at rest and dwell safely, all of them dwelling without walls, and having neither bars nor gates.” Comp. Deuteronomy 3:5; Esther 9:19. The prophecy of this and the next verse, however it may include, yet far exceeds the rebuilding of the walls by Nehemiah, or any prosperity and extension into suburbs of Jerusalem, that has yet taken place.

For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
6. Ho, ho, come forth and flee] The words “come forth” are not in the Hebrew, and the R.V. omits them: Ho, ho, flee. Some would supply, “hear:” “Ho, ho (hear) and flee.”

the land of the north] i.e. Babylonia. Comp. Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 23:8.

have spread you abroad] Some regard this as a promise of future extension, consequent upon obedience to the call to return from Babylon. But it is rather to be understood of their past dispersion, from which the command and the providence of God are now recalling them and saying, “flee from the land of the north, and from the four winds of the heaven, for thereunto have I scattered you.” So God promises by Jeremiah that they should say, “The Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all countries whither I had driven them,” Jeremiah 23:8; and again, “I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth,” Jeremiah 31:8.

The north country, although its capital and centre was Babylon, was the whole Babylonian empire, called ‘the north’ because its invasions always came upon Israel from the north. But the Book of Esther shews that sixty years after this the Jews were dispersed over the 127 provinces of the Persian empire, from India (the Punjaub) to Ethiopia (Esther 1:1; Esther 3:8; Esther 3:12-14; Esther 8:5; Esther 8:9); whether they were purposely placed by the policy of the conquerors in detached groups, as the ten tribes were in the cities of the Medes, or whether, when more trusted, they migrated of their own accord.” Pusey.

the four winds] comp. Matthew 24:31.

6–13. That they may share in the promised favour to Zion, but also (and this is put first and urgently, because the judgment was imminent) that they may escape the coming punishment of Babylon, the Jews still remaining there are called upon to return to their own country.

Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
7. Deliver thyself] Lit. “Ho, Zion, deliver thyself: thou that dwellest with, &c.” The reason for this urgent call to escape, viz. the impending judgment upon Babylon, follows immediately, Zechariah 2:8-9. In like manner Jeremiah (Jeremiah 50:8; Jeremiah 50:10; Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:45), and before him Isaiah (Jeremiah 48:14; Jeremiah 48:20), connects the punishment of Babylon with the escape of Israel. The immediate reference of those prophecies is to the taking of Babylon by Cyrus, which preceded and led to the return from the 70 years’ captivity. But the prophecies reach on, in the largeness of their terms, to the final and utter destruction of Babylon, and include such later calls to escape as that of Zechariah here. The immediate reference here would appear to be to one or both of those occasions in the reign of Darius, on which Babylon “had risen against the Persians and made an effort to regain its independence”. “What these dangers were may be seen from the great inscription of Darius cut into the rock at Behistun, and supposed by Sir H. Rawlinson to have been executed in the fifth year of the reign of Darius (two or three years after this prophecy was uttered). That inscription records two great rebellions in Babylonia, and two captures of the city of Babylon, one effected by Darius in person, the other by one of his generals. The Jews in Babylon who did not listen to the prophetic warning suffered no doubt severely in the confusions of that period; while those who returned to Palestine, and obeyed the command to flee out of Babylon, delivered their souls, that is their lives, and were not cut off in her iniquity.” Rev. C. H. H. Wright, Bampton Lectures, 1878.

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
8. after the glory] rather, after glory. There is no article to shew that there is a reference, as has been supposed, to Zechariah 2:5, so that it would mean, “after the glory which I have promised has come upon Israel,” &c. The more probable meaning therefore is, “after,” i.e. in pursuit, or in prosecution of glory; to get the glory, to manifest My glory, in their punishment for having spoiled My people, and so touched Me in the apple of Mine eye.

hath he sent me] “hath He (Jehovah, the speaker), sent me (the agent commissioned).” We should have expected, “have I sent thee,” and, “of my eye,” at the end of the verse, especially as the actual words of Jehovah follow in the next verse. But such changes of person are not uncommon in Hebrew.

the apple of his eye] lit. “the cavity or gate of his eye.” Comp. Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalm 17:8, where however the Heb. word is different.

For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.
9. shake mine hand] Job 31:21; Isaiah 19:16.

a spoil to their servants] They “which spoiled you,” Zechariah 2:8, shall be themselves “a spoil,” and that to those whom they held in servitude, those that served them R. V.

hath sent me] The divine mission of the angel who foretells these things shall be attested by the event. Comp. Zechariah 2:11, Zechariah 4:9, Zechariah 6:15.

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
10. I will dwell in the midst of thee] This prophecy had a fulfilment, when the Temple was rebuilt and the worship of God was resumed on Mount Zion. But it had a higher fulfilment when “the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14, Malachi 3:1), and the promise of the Gentiles being joined to the Lord, Zechariah 2:11, was also accomplished. It awaits its highest fulfilment in both particulars in the times that are yet future. Revelation 7:15; Revelation 21:3; Revelation 21:22-26.

And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
11. be joined] join themselves. R. V.

And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
12. the holy land] made so by God dwelling there. Comp. Exodus 3:5. again] shall yet choose Jerusalem. R. V.

Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
13. be silent] Comp. Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7.

raised up] waked up. R. V.

his holy habitation] From heaven, “the habitation of His holiness” (Deuteronomy 26:15; Jeremiah 25:30), where He had seemed to dwell, far off from the affairs of earth, Jehovah should arise, or awake, and come forth to judgment, to succour His people and discomfit His enemies. Let all flesh be hushed before Him in awful silence.

The Fourth Vision. Joshua the High Priest before the Angel of Jehovah, Zechariah 3:1-10. The former visions had foretold that the “rest” of the nations should be disturbed (Zechariah 1:8-17), that the enemies of Israel should be “cast out” (Zechariah 1:18-21), and that Jerusalem should become the habitation of Jehovah (Zechariah 2:1-13). But in order to the fulfilment of these promises, there must be a moral and spiritual reformation of the people. With this the next vision is concerned. Judgment begins at the house of God (comp. Malachi 3:3). The prophet sees Joshua the High Priest, the representative not only of the whole priesthood, but also of the entire nation, standing before the Angel of the Lord. At his right hand stands the Adversary, to play an adversary’s part against him (Zechariah 2:1). But before the charge can be preferred, Jehovah Himself interposes and rebukes the Adversary. Would the same hand, He asks, that had plucked from the fire the brand, charred, blackened and half-consumed already, cast it back again into the flames? And should He, who had delivered the remnant of His people from the furnace of Babylon, now listen to the charges of the accuser and yield them again to destruction? (Zechariah 2:2.) Doubtless, matter of accusation is not wanting. The very garb of Joshua testifies against him. Instead of the pure white linen in which the High Priest should have been arrayed, he is “clothed with filthy garments” (Zechariah 2:3). But this obstacle shall by an act of mere grace be removed. The angel attendants are commanded to take away his filthy garments; while their action is interpreted to him by the assurance that his iniquity is put away, and the promise of pure raiment is given him (Zechariah 2:4). At the instance of the prophet, who would fain see God’s High Priest arrayed in the complete attire of his office, a fair mitre is added. The angel of Jehovah stands by to seal by his presence and approval the transaction (Zechariah 2:5). Nor does he quit the scene till he has revealed to Joshua the full dignity of the priesthood to which he is now restored. As exercised by himself and his successors, it shall, while it moves in the ways of holy obedience in the restored Temple on earth, move also in spirit among the heavenly ministrations of angels (Zechariah 2:6-7). But it shall furthermore, by virtue of its typical character, foreshadow and prepare the way for Him who, Himself its chief cornerstone, shall rear the true Temple on which the eyes of Jehovah are fixed (Zechariah 2:8-9), who by one act shall remove iniquity for ever (Zechariah 2:9), and restore prosperity and festal joy to man (Zechariah 2:10).

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