Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
Zec 14:1-21. Last Struggle with the Hostile World-Powers: Messiah-Jehovah Saves Jerusalem and Destroys the Foe, of Whom the Remnant Turns to the Lord Reigning at Jerusalem.
1. day of the Lord—in which He shall vindicate His justice by punishing the wicked and then saving His elect people (Joe 2:31; 3:14; Mal 4:1, 5).
thy spoil … divided in the midst of thee—by the foe; secure of victory, they shall not divide the spoil taken from thee in their camp outside, but "in the midst" of the city itself.
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. gather all nations, &c.—The prophecy seems literal (compare Joe 3:2). If Antichrist be the leader of the nations, it seems inconsistent with the statement that he will at this time be sitting in the temple as God at Jerusalem (2Th 2:4); thus Antichrist outside would be made to besiege Antichrist within the city. But difficulties do not set aside revelations: the event will clear up seeming difficulties. Compare the complicated movements, Da 11:1-45.
half … the residue—In Zec 13:8, 9, it is "two-thirds" that perish, and "the third" escapes. There, however, it is "in all the land"; here it is "half of the city." Two-thirds of the "whole people" perish, one-third survives. One-half of the citizens are led captive, the residue are not cut off. Perhaps, too, we ought to translate, "a (not 'the') residue."
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
3. Then—In Jerusalem's extremity.
as … in … day of battle—as when Jehovah fought for Israel against the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex 14:14; 15:3). As He then made a way through the divided sea, so will He now divide in two "the Mount of Olives" (Zec 14:4).
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 object of the cleaving of the mount in two by a fissure or valley (a prolongation of the valley of Jehoshaphat, and extending from Jerusalem on the west towards Jordan, eastward) is to open a way of escape to the besieged (compare Joe 3:12, 14). Half the divided mount is thereby forced northward, half southward; the valley running between. The place of His departure at His ascension shall be the place of His return: and the "manner" of His return also shall be similar (Ac 1:11). He shall probably "come from the east" (Mt 24:27). He so made His triumphal entry into the city from the Mount of Olives from the east (Mt 21:1-10). This was the scene of His agony: so it shall be the scene of His glory. Compare Eze 11:23, with Eze 43:2, "from the way of the east."
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. ye shall flee to the valley—rather "through the valley," as in 2Sa 2:29. The valley made by the cleaving asunder of the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:4) is designed to be their way of escape, not their place of refuge [Maurer]. Jerome is on the side of English Version. If it be translated so, it will mean, Ye shall flee "to" the valley, not to hide there, but as the passage through which an escape may be effected. The same divinely sent earthquake which swallows up the foe, opens out a way of escape to God's people. The earthquake in Uzziah's days is mentioned (Am 1:1) as a recognized epoch in Jewish history. Compare also Isa 6:1: perhaps the same year that Jehovah held His heavenly court and gave commission to Isaiah for the Jews, an earthquake in the physical world, as often happens (Mt 24:7), marked momentous movements in the unseen spiritual world.
of the mountains—rather, "of My mountains," namely, Zion and Moriah, peculiarly sacred to Jehovah [Moore]. Or, the mountains formed by My cleaving Olivet into two [Maurer].
Azal—the name of a place near a gate east of the city. The Hebrew means "adjoining" [Henderson]. Others give the meaning, "departed," "ceased." The valley reaches up to the city gates, so as to enable the fleeing citizens to betake themselves immediately to it on leaving the city.
Lord my God … with thee—The mention of the "Lord my God" leads the prophet to pass suddenly to a direct address to Jehovah. It is as if "lifting up his head" (Lu 21:28), he suddenly sees in vision the Lord coming, and joyfully exclaims, "All the saints with Thee!" So Isa 25:9.
saints—holy angels escorting the returning King (Mt 24:30, 31; Jude 14); and redeemed men (1Co 15:23; 1Th 3:13; 4:14). Compare the similar mention of the "saints" and "angels" at His coming on Sinai (De 32:2, 3; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2). Phillips thinks Azal is Ascalon on the Mediterranean. An earthquake beneath Messiah's tread will divide Syria, making from Jerusalem to Azal a valley which will admit the ocean waters from the west to the Dead Sea. The waters will rush down the valley of Arabah, the old bed of the Jordan, clear away the sand-drift of four thousand years, and cause the commerce of Petra and Tyre to center in the holy city. The Dead Sea rising above its shores will overflow by the valley of Edom, completing the straits of Azal into the Red Sea. Thus will be formed the great pool of Jerusalem (compare Zec 14:8; Eze 47:1, &c.; Joe 3:18). Euphrates will be the north boundary, and the Red Sea the south. Twenty-five miles north and twenty-five miles south of Jerusalem will form one side of the fifty miles square of the Lord's Holy Oblation (Eze 48:1-35). There are seven spaces of fifty miles each from Jerusalem northward to the Euphrates, and five spaces of fifty miles each southward to the Red Sea. Thus there are thirteen equal distances on the breadth of the future promised land, one for the oblation and twelve for the tribes, according to Eze 48:1-35. That the Euphrates north, Mediterranean west, the Nile and Red Sea south, are to be the future boundaries of the holy land, which will include Syria and Arabia, is favored by Ge 15:8; Ex 23:31; De 11:24; Jos 1:4; 1Ki 4:21; 2Ch 9:26; Isa 27:12; all which was partially realized in Solomon's reign, shall be antitypically so hereafter. The theory, if true, will clear away many difficulties in the way of the literal interpretation of this chapter and Eze 48:1-35.
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
6. light … not … clear … dark—Jerome, Chaldee, Syriac, and Septuagint translate, "There shall not be light, but cold and ice"; that is, a day full of horror (Am 5:18). But the Hebrew for "clear" does not mean "cold," but "precious," "splendid" (compare Job 31:26). Calvin translates, "The light shall not be clear, but dark" (literally, "condensation," that is, thick mist); like a dark day in which you can hardly distinguish between day and night. English Version accords with Zec 14:7: "There shall not be altogether light nor altogether darkness," but an intermediate condition in which sorrows shall be mingled with joys.
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—a day altogether unique, different from all others [Maurer]. Compare "one," that is, unique (So 6:9; Jer 30:7). Not as Henderson explains, "One continuous day, without night" (Re 22:5; 21:25); the millennial period (Re 20:3-7).
known to … Lord—This truth restrains man's curiosity and teaches us to wait the Lord's own time (Mt 24:36).
not day, nor night—answering to "not … clear nor … dark" (Zec 14:6); not altogether daylight, yet not the darkness of night.
at evening … shall be light—Towards the close of this twilight-like time of calamity, "light" shall spring up (Ps 97:11; 112:4; Isa 30:26; 60:19, 20).
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. living waters—(Eze 47:1; Joe 3:18).
former sea—that is, the front, or east, which Orientalists face in taking the points of the compass; the Dead Sea.
hinder sea—the west or Mediterranean.
summer … winter—neither dried up by heat, nor frozen by cold; ever flowing.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
9. king over all … earth—Isa 54:5 implies that this is to be the consequence of Israel being again recognized by God as His own people (Da 2:44; Re 11:15).
one Lord … name one—Not that He is not so already, but He shall then be recognized by all unanimously as "One." Now there are "gods many and lords many." Then Jehovah alone shall be worshipped. The manifestation of the unity of the Godhead shall be simultaneous with that of the unity of the Church. Believers are one in spirit already, even as God is one (Eph 4:3-6). But externally there are sad divisions. Not until these disappear, shall God reveal fully His unity to the world (Joh 17:21, 23). Then shall there be "a pure language, that all may call upon the name of the Lord with one consent" (Zep 3:9). The Son too shall at last give up His mediatorial kingdom to the Father, when the purposes for which it was established shall have been accomplished, "that God may be all in all" (1Co 15:24).
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—or, "changed round about": literally, "to make a circuit." The whole hilly land round Jerusalem, which would prevent the free passage of the living waters, shall be changed so as to be "as a (or the) plain" (Isa 40:4).
from Geba to Rimmon—Geba (2Ki 23:8) in Benjamin, the north border of Judah. Rimmon, in Simeon (Jos 15:32), the south border of Judah; not the Rimmon northeast of Michmash. "The plain from Geba to Rimmon" (that is, from one boundary to the other) is the Arabah or plain of the Jordan, extending from the Sea of Tiberias to the Elanitic Gulf of the Red Sea.
it shall be lifted up—namely, Jerusalem shall be exalted, the hills all round being lowered (Mic 4:1).
inhabited in her place—(Zec 12:6).
from Benjamin's gate—leading to the territory of Benjamin. The same as Ephraim's gate, the north boundary of the city (2Ki 14:13).
the first gate—west of the city [Grotius]. "The place of," &c. implies that the gate itself was then not in existence. "The old gate" (Ne 3:6).
the corner gate—east of the city [Grotius]. Or the "corner" joining the north and west parts of the wall [Villalpandus]. Grotius thinks "corners" refers to the towers there built (compare Zep 3:6, Margin).
tower of Hananeel—south of the city, near the sheep gate (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Jer 31:38) [Grotius].
king's wine-presses—(So 8:11). In the interior of the city, at Zion [Grotius].
And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
11. no more utter destruction—(Jer 31:40). Literally, "no more curse" (Re 22:3; compare Mal 4:6), for there will be no more sin. Temporal blessings and spiritual prosperity shall go together in the millennium: long life (Isa 65:20-22), peace (Isa 2:4), honor (Isa 60:14-16), righteous government (Isa 54:14; 60:18). Judgment, as usual, begins at the house of God, but then falls fatally on Antichrist, whereon the Church obtains perfect liberty. The last day will end everything evil (Ro 8:21) [Auberlen].
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. Punishment on the foe, the last Antichristian confederacy (Isa 59:18; 66:24; Eze 38:1-39:29; Re 19:17-21). A living death: the corruption (Ga 6:8) of death combined in ghastly union with the conscious sensibility of life. Sin will be felt by the sinner in all its loathsomeness, inseparably clinging to him as a festering, putrid body.
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—consternation (Zec 12:4; 1Sa 14:15, 20).
lay hold … on … hand of … neighbour—instinctively grasping it, as if thereby to be safer, but in vain [Menochius]. Rather, in order to assail "his neighbor" [Calvin], (Eze 38:21). Sin is the cause of all quarrels on earth. It will cause endless quarrels in hell (Jas 3:15, 16).
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. Judah … fight at Jerusalem—namely, against the foe: not against Jerusalem, as Maurer translates in variance with the context. As to the spoil gained from the foe, compare Eze 39:10, 17.
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. The plague shall affect the very beasts belonging to the foe. A typical foretaste of all this befell Antiochus Epiphanes and his host at Jerusalem (1 Maccabees 13:49; 2 Maccabees 9:5).
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. every one … left—(Isa 66:19, 23). God will conquer all the foes of the Church. Some He will destroy; others He will bring into willing subjection.
from year to year—literally, "from the sufficiency of a year in a year."
feast of tabernacles—The other two great yearly feasts, passover and pentecost, are not specified, because, their antitypes having come, the types are done away with. But the feast of tabernacles will be commemorative of the Jews' sojourn, not merely forty years in the wilderness, but for almost two thousand years of their dispersion. So it was kept on their return from the Babylonian dispersion (Ne 8:14-17). It was the feast on which Jesus made His triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:8); a pledge of His return to His capital to reign (compare Le 23:34, 39, 40, 42; Re 7:9; 21:3). A feast of peculiar joy (Ps 118:15; Ho 12:9). The feast on which Jesus gave the invitation to the living waters of salvation ("Hosanna," save us now, was the cry, Mt 21:9; compare Ps 118:25, 26) (Joh 7:2, 37). To the Gentiles, too, it will be significant of perfected salvation after past wanderings in a moral wilderness, as it originally commemorated the ingathering of the harvest. The seedtime of tears shall then have issued in the harvest of joy [Moore]. "All the nations" could not possibly in person go up to the feast, but they may do so by representatives.
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. no rain—including every calamity which usually follows in the East from want of rain, namely, scarcity of provisions, famine, pestilence, &c. Rain is the symbol also of God's favor (Ho 6:3). That there shall be unconverted men under the millennium appears from the outbreak of Gog and Magog at the end of it (Re 20:7-9); but they, like Satan their master, shall be restrained during the thousand years. Note, too, from this verse that the Gentiles shall come up to Jerusalem, rather than the Jews go as missionaries to the Gentiles (Isa 2:2; Mic 5:7). However, Isa 66:19 may imply the converse.
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. if … Egypt go not up—specified as Israel's ancient foe. If Egypt go not up, and so there be no rain on them (a judgment which Egypt would condemn, as depending on the Nile's overflow, not on rain), there shall be the plague … . Because the guilty are not affected by one judgment, let them not think to escape, for God has other judgments which shall plague them. Maurer translates, "If Egypt go not up, upon them also there shall be none" (no rain). Ps 105:32 mentions "rain" in Egypt. But it is not their main source of fertility.
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—literally, "sin"; that is, "punishment for sin."
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. shall there be upon the bells—namely, this inscription, "Holiness to the Lord," the same as was on the miter of the high priest (Ex 28:36). This implies that all things, even the most common, shall be sacred to Jehovah, and not merely the things which under the law had peculiar sanctity attached to them. The "bells" were metal plates hanging from the necks of horses and camels as ornaments, which tinkled (as the Hebrew root means) by striking against each other. Bells attached to horses are found represented on the walls of Sennacherib's palace at Koyunjik.
pots … like … bowls—the vessels used for boiling, for receiving ashes, &c., shall be as holy as the bowls used for catching the blood of the sacrificial victims (see on Zec 9:15; 1Sa 2:14). The priesthood of Christ will be explained more fully both by the Mosaic types and by the New Testament in that temple of which Ezekiel speaks. Then the Song of Solomon, now obscure, will be understood, for the marriage feast of the Lamb will be celebrated in heaven (Re 19:1-21), and on earth it will be a Solomonic period, peaceful, glorious, and nuptial. There will be no king but a prince; the sabbatic period of the judges will return, but not with the Old Testament, but New Testament glory (Isa 1:26; Eze 45:1-25) [Roos].
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. every pot—even in private houses, as in the temple, shall be deemed holy, so universal shall be the consecration of all things and persons to Jehovah.
take of them—as readily as they would take of the pots of the temple itself, whatever number they wanted for sacrifice.
no … Canaanite—no unclean or ungodly person (Isa 35:8; 52:1; Joe 3:17). Compare as to the final state subsequent to the millennium, Re 21:27; 22:15. Maurer not so well translates "merchant" here, as in Pr 31:24. If a man would have the beginnings of heaven, it must be by absolute consecration of everything to God on earth. Let his life be a liturgy, a holy service of acted worship [Moore].