Malachi 2:5
My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear with which he feared me, and was afraid before my name.
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(5) Of life and peace.—Better, life and peacei.e., by it life and peace were guaranteed to him.

Life in its highest sense.

Peace as the sum total of blessing: the “fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace.” (Galatians 5:22; comp. Note on Zechariah 6:13.)

Them—viz., life and peace.

For the fear . . . me.—Better, As fear—(i.e., as a motive for the fear of God), and he did fear me. Or, perhaps, a still better interpretation is that which represents God and Levi as each having performed his part of the covenant—God in bestowing “life and peace,” Levi in rendering “fear.” According to this view, the words should be translated, My covenant was with him—viz., life and peaceand I gave them to him; fear, and he feared me, and trembled before My Name.

Malachi 2:5-6. My covenant was with him — The prophet here speaks of the succession of the ancient priests, such as Aaron, Eleazar, Phineas, and their successors, as of one single person, under the name of Levi, (see Zechariah 11:16,) and says, I gave him my covenant of life and peace, or of happiness and security; or I promised him a secure enjoyment of his office of the priesthood, on his due administration of his office before me. The words allude to Numbers 25:12-13, where God says concerning Phineas, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace, and he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement, &c. Or, as it is here expressed, For the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name — Here God declares what was the foundation of the terms upon which he entered into this covenant with Phineas and his successors in the priesthood, namely, an awful reverence of him, and zeal for his honour and service. The law of truth, &c. — In this verse is described how Phineas and others, who were his successors in piety as well as in the priesthood, behaved in their office: and 1st, The law of truth was in his mouth — He taught the people that which was agreeable to the divine laws, that is, Aaron, Eleazar, Phineas did this; and every one of those priests or Levites, in whatever age they lived, who feared God and were obedient to him. 2d, Iniquity was not found in his lips — He neither lived himself in any known sin, nor did he mix any thing with the instructions he gave the people which was false, and calculated to mislead them, but declared to them the pure word of God, or the divine laws, without any false glosses or comments. The words may also mean, He judged, without respect of persons, in all the causes between man and man which came before him. 3d, He walked with me in peace and equity — He made my word the rule, and my glory the end of all his actions, and discharged his duty with fidelity and care, maintaining peace with me, and endeavouring to live peaceably with all men. And, 4th, Did turn many away from iniquity — He was not content with being pious and virtuous himself, but endeavoured, by his instructions and admonitions, to make others pious and virtuous.2:1-9 What is here said of the covenant of priesthood, is true of the covenant of grace made with all believers, as spiritual priests. It is a covenant of life and peace; it assures all believers of all happiness, both in this world and in that to come. It is an honour to God's servants to be employed as his messengers. The priest's lips should not keep knowledge from his people, but keep it for them. The people are all concerned to know the will of the Lord. We must not only consult the written word, but desire instruction and advice from God's messengers, in the affairs of our souls. Ministers must exert themselves to the utmost for the conversion of sinners; and even among those called Israelites, there are many to be turned from iniquity. Those ministers, and those only, are likely to turn men from sin, who preach sound doctrine, and live holy lives according to the Scripture. Many departed from this way; thus they misled the people. Such as walk with God in peace and righteousness, and turn others from sin, honour God; he will honour them, while those who despise him shall be lightly esteemed.My covenant was with him life and peace; - literally "the life and the peace;" that, which alone is true "life and peace." The covenant was not with Levi himself, but with Aaron, his representative, with whom the covenant was made in the desert, as is indeed here expressed; and, in him, with all his race after him, who succeeded him in his office; as, when it is said, that 1 Chronicles 6:49, "Aaron and his sons offered upon the altar of burnt-offering," it must needs be understood, not of Aaron in person alone and his sons then living, but of any of his race that succeeded in his and their room. So our Lord promised to be with His Apostles Mat 28:20, "always to the end of the world," i. e., with them and those whom they should appoint in their stead, and these others, until He should Himself come. God promised, if they would keep the law, that they should live in peace on the earth; yea, that they should have peace of mind and a life of grace. "Life" is an indefectible being, which man does not forfeit by sin, to which death is no interruption, changing only the place of the soul's life.

And I gave them to him - , in, or as, "fear," "Fear, not servile but filial and pure, as Paul bids Christians Philippians 2:12, 'work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.'" God gave them an awful gift, to be held with fear and awe, for its very preciousness, as one would hold anxiously what is very precious, yet very fragile and easily marred.

And he feared Me, and was afraid before My Name - Malachi unites two words, the second expressive of strong fear, by which a man is, as it were, crushed or broken. They are often united in Hebrew, but as expressing terror, which men are bidden not to feel before men. Toward man it is ever said Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:9; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 20:15, 2 Chronicles 20:17; 2 Chronicles 32:7; Isaiah 51:7; Jeremiah 23:4; Jeremiah 30:10; Jeremiah 46:27; Ezra 2:6; Ezra 3:9, "fear not, neither be ye dismayed;" toward God Alone, it is a matter of praise. Man's highest fear is too little, for he knows not, who God is. So Isaiah says Isaiah 8:12-13, "Fear ye not their fear (the fear of this people), nor be afraid. Sanctify the Lord of hosts Himself, and let Him be your fear and let Him be your dread." "What can be more precious (than this fear)? For it is written Proverbs 13:13, 'He who feareth the Lord will be rewarded.' (Ecclesiasticus 1:11), 'The fear of the Lord is honor and glory and gladness and a crown of rejoicing.' He saith, "the fear, wherewith he feareth Me and was afraid," i. e., he received the fear of God in his whole heart and soul. For these reduplications and emphases suggest to the hearer how rooted in virtue are those thus praised."

5-9. He describes the promises, and also the conditions of the covenant; Levi's observance of the conditions and reward (compare Nu 25:11-13, Phinehas' zeal); and on the other hand the violation of the conditions, and consequent punishment of the present priests. "Life" here includes the perpetuity implied in Nu 25:13, "everlasting priesthood." "Peace" is specified both here and there. Maurer thus explains it; the Hebrew is, literally, "My covenant was with him, life and peace (to be given him on My part), and I gave them to him: (and on his part) fear (that is, reverence), and he did fear Me," &c. The former portion of the verse expresses the promise, and Jehovah's fulfilment of it; the latter, the condition, and Levi's steadfastness to it (De 33:8, 9). The Jewish priests self-deceivingly claimed the privileges of the covenant, while neglecting the conditions of it, as if God were bound by it to bless them, while they were free from all the obligation which it imposed to serve Him. The covenant is said to be not merely "of life and peace," but "life and peace"; for the keeping of God's law is its own reward (Ps 19:11). Here is one covenant that is more particular than any, a covenant of priesthood between God and a particular tribe.

With him: Levi is named Malachi 2:4, and I will rest there, though I know some would have it be Aaron, or Phinehas.

Of life and peace; of long life, and prosperous, by covenant under the provisoes therein contained, assured to the Levites in their due ministrations before God.

I gave them, both lives, (the word is dual,) or life and prosperity.

For the fear wherewith he feared me; religious fear, or that gracious qualification which appeared in the acts of it, for he feared before God.

And was afraid before my name; behaved himself with reverence and trembling before God. It is the same repeated for confirmation of the former, or perhaps it may imply the habitual name of reverence from a contrite heart, which is here pointed at, and commended in this person under the name of Levi. My covenant was with him of life and peace,.... Not with Aaron, nor with Phinehas; nor is it to be understood of a covenant, promising temporal life and outward prosperity to either of them; Aaron living a hundred and twenty three years, Numbers 33:39 and Phinehas, according to some Jewish writers, above three hundred years, which they gather from Judges 20:28 but of the covenant made with Christ from everlasting, called "a covenant of life", because it was made with Christ the Word of life, who was with the Father from all eternity, and in time was made manifest in the flesh; and was made in behalf of persons ordained to eternal life, and in which that was promised and given to them in him; and in which it was agreed that he should become man, and lay down his life as such, that they might enjoy it: and it is called a "covenant of peace", because the scheme of peace and reconciliation was drawn in it, and agreed unto; Christ was appointed in it to be the Peacemaker; and in consequence of which he was sent to procure peace, and he has made it by the blood of his cross: and this covenant may be said to have been and to be "with him"; because it was made with him from all eternity, as the head and representative of his people, and he had all the blessings and promises of it put into his hands; and it stands fast with him, and will do so for evermore.

And I gave them to him; namely, the blessings of life and peace; eternal life is the gift of God; and not only the promise of it, but that itself, was given to Christ in covenant for his people, and a power to give it to as many as the Father gave to him, Psalm 21:4 2 Timothy 1:1 he gave him also peace to make, put this work of peacemaking into his hand; and he allows it to be made by him, and that it is rightly effected; and from his blood and righteousness peace springs to his people; and they enjoy peace in him and through him, yea, all prosperity and happiness:

for the fear wherewith he feared me; because of his obedience to the precept and penalty of the law; because of his righteousness, and sufferings, and death, by means of which life and peace came to his people, and in which he showed great fear and reverence of God, Hebrews 5:7 the word "for" is not in the original text, and may be left out in a version, or supplied with "and"; and the sense be, besides the blessings of life and peace, I also gave him the fear with which he feared me; which must be understood of the grace of fear bestowed on him as man: so the Septuagint version, "I gave unto him in fear to fear me"; and the Vulgate Latin version, "and I gave him fear, and he feared me": and the Arabic version, "I gave him fear, that he might fear me": the Targum is,

"I gave him the perfect doctrine of the law, or the doctrine of the perfect law (see James 1:25) that he might fear before me.''

And was afraid before my name; frightened, and put into consternation, as he was when in the garden, and he began to be heavy and sore amazed, Mark 14:33 or he was broken and bruised, as Kimchi interprets the word here used, because of the name of the Lord, to satisfy his justice, fulfil his law, and glorify all his perfections.

My {g} covenant was with him of life and peace; and I {h} gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before {i} my name.

(g) He shows what were the two conditions of the covenant made with the tribe of Levi on God's part, that he would give them long life and felicity, and on their part, that they should faithfully serve him according to his word.

(h) I commanded Levi a certain law to serve me.

(i) He served me and set forth my glory with all humility and submission.

5. My covenant &c.] Comp. Numbers 25:12-13; Nehemiah 13:29.

for the fear wherewith he feared me] Lit. I gave them (viz. life and peace: I fulfilled my part of the covenant) to him (as) fear, (i.e. on condition that he should fulfil his part of it), that he might fear (R.V.); and (he did fulfil it, for) he feared Me, and was afraid before (stood in awe of, R.V.) My name.Verses 5-9. - § 5. In contrast with these evil ministers, the character of the true priest is sketched, and thus the faults of the former are shown in darker colours. Verse 5. - My covenant was with him of life and peace; rather, with him was life and peace. This is one side of the covenant, that which God gave - the blessing of life, abundance, prosperity, and secure and undisturbed enjoyment of these, in the everlasting priesthood, in agreement with the promise to Phinehas (Numbers 25:12; comp. Deuteronomy 33:8-11). I gave them to him for the fear, etc. I gave him life and peace. The pronominal suffix "them" is not expressed in the Greek and Latin Versions, and is absent from many Hebrew manuscripts, which read, "I gave him fear." So the Vulgate, Dedi eis timorem et timuit me; Septuagint, Αδωκα αὐτῷ ἐν φόβῳ φοβεῖσθαί με, "I gave him the fear of me." This expresses man's part in the covenant: God gave him certain blessings on condition that he feared, reverenced, worshipped, and obeyed the Lord. The last part of the verse as now read is more simply explained, "and (my covenant with him was, or, I gave him) fear, and he did fear me." God's gifts were life and peace. Levi's part was fear of God: this he performed. The ideal priest observed all the duties of piety and reverence, and therefore in his case the covenant stood firm and was duly carried out. Zechariah 6:1. "And again I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold four chariots coming forth between the two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of brass. Zechariah 6:2. In the first chariot were red horses, and in the second chariot black horses. Zechariah 6:3. And in the third chariot white horses, and in the fourth chariot speckled powerful horses. Zechariah 6:4. And I answered and said to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? Zechariah 6:5. And the angel answered and said to me, These are the four winds of heaven going out, after having stationed themselves by the Lord of the whole earth. Zechariah 6:6. Those in which the black horses are, go out into the land of the north, and the white have gone out behind them, and the speckled have gone out into the land of the south. Zechariah 6:7. And the powerful ones have gone out, and sought to go, to pass through the earth; and he said, Go ye, and pass through the earth; and they passed through the earth. Zechariah 6:8. And he called to me, and spake to me thus: Behold, those which go out into the land of the north let down my spirit in the land of the north." The four chariots are explained in Zechariah 6:5 by the interpreting angel to be the four winds of heaven, which go forth after they have taken their stand by the Lord of the whole earth, i.e., have appeared before Him in the attitude of servants, to lay their account before Him, and to receive commands from Him (התיצּב על, as in Job 1:6; Job 2:1). This addition shows that the explanation is not a real interpretation; that is to say, the meaning is not that the chariots represent the four winds; but the less obvious figure of the chariots is explained through the more obvious figure of the winds, which answers better to the reality. Since, for example, according to Zechariah 6:8, the chariots are designed to carry the Spirit (rūăch) of God, there was nothing with which they could be more suitably compared than the winds (rūăch) of heaven, for these are the most appropriate earthly substratum to symbolize the working of the Divine Spirit (cf. Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 7:2). This Spirit, in its judicial operations, is to be borne by the chariots to the places more immediately designated in the vision. As they go out, after having appeared before God, the two mountains, between which they go out or come forth, can only be sought in the place where God's dwelling is. But the mountains are of brass, and therefore are not earthly mountains; but they are not therefore mere symbols of the might of God with which His church is defended (Hengst., Neumann), or allusions to the fact that the dwelling-place of God is immovable and unapproachable (Koehler), or symbols of the imperial power of the world and the kingdom of God (Kliefoth), according to which the power of the world would be just as immovable as the kingdom of God. The symbol has rather a definite geographical view as its basis. As the lands to which the chariots go are described geographically as the lands of the north and south, the starting-point of the chariots must also be thought of geographically, and must therefore be a place or country lying between the northern and southern lands: this is the land of Israel, or more especially Jerusalem, the centre of the Old Testament kingdom of God, where the Lord had His dwelling-place. It is therefore the view of Jerusalem and its situation that lies at the foundation of the vision; only we must not think of the mountains Zion and Moriah (as Osiander, Maurer, Hofmann, and Umbreit do), for these are never distinguished from one another in the Old Testament as forming two separate mountains; but we have rather to think of Zion and the Mount of Olives, which stood opposite to it towards the east. Both are named as places where or from which the Lord judges the world, viz., the Mount of Olives in Zechariah 14:4, and Zion very frequently, e.g., in Joel 3:16. The place between the two mountains is, then, the valley of Jehoshaphat, in which, according to Joel 3:2., the Lord judges the nations. In the vision before us this valley simply forms the starting-point for the chariots, which carry the judgment from the dwelling-place of God into the lands of the north and south, which are mentioned as the seat of the imperial power; and the mountains are of brass, to denote the immovable firmness of the place where the Lord dwells, and where He has founded His kingdom.

The colour of the horses, by which the four chariots are distinguished, is just as significant here as in Zechariah 1:8; and indeed, so far as the colour is the same, the meaning is also the same here as there. Three colours are alike, since beruddı̄m, speckled, is not essentially different from seruqqı̄m, starling-grey, viz., black and white mixed together (see at Zechariah 1:8). The black horses are added here. Black is the colour of grief (cf. "black as sackcloth of hair," Revelation 6:12). The rider upon the black horse in Revelation 6:5-6, holds in his hand the emblem of dearness, the milder form of famine. Consequently the colours of the horses indicate the destination of the chariots, to execute judgment upon the enemies of the kingdom of God. Red, as the colour of blood, points to war and bloodshed; the speckled colour to pestilence and other fatal plagues; and the black colour to dearness and famine: so that these three chariots symbolize the three great judgments, war, pestilence, and hunger (2 Samuel 24:11.), along with which "the noisome beast" is also mentioned in Ezekiel 14:21 as a fourth judgment. In the vision before us the fourth chariot is drawn by white horses, to point to the glorious victories of the ministers of the divine judgment. The explanation of the chariots in this vision is rendered more difficult by the fact, that on the one hand the horses of the fourth chariot are not only called beruddı̄m, but אמצּים also; and on the other hand, that in the account of the starting of the chariots the red horses are omitted, and the speckled are distinguished from the אמשצים instead, inasmuch as it is affirmed of the former that they went forth into the south country, and of the latter, that "they sought to go that they might pass through the whole earth," and they passed through with the consent of God. The commentators have therefore attempted in different ways to identify האמשצים in Zechariah 6:7 with אדמּים. Hitzig and Maurer assume that אמצים is omitted from Zechariah 6:6 by mistake, and that אמצים in Zechariah 6:7 is a copyist's error for אדמים, although there is not a single critical authority that can be adduced in support of this. Hengstenberg and Umbreit suppose that the predicate אמצּים, strong, in Zechariah 6:3 refers to all the horses in the four chariots, and that by the "strong" horses of Zechariah 6:7 we are to understand the "red" horses of the first chariot. But if the horses of all the chariots were strong, the red alone cannot be so called, since the article not only stands before אמצּים in Zechariah 6:7, but also before the three other colours, and indicates nothing more than that the colours have been mentioned before. Moreover, it is grammatically impossible that אמצּים in Zechariah 6:3 should refer to all the four teams; as "we must in that case have had אמצּים כּלּם" (Koehler). Others (e.g., Abulw., Kimchi, Calvin, and Koehler) have attempted to prove that אמצּים taht evo may have the sense of אדמּים; regarding אמוּץ as a softened form of חמוּץ, and explaining the latter, after Isaiah 63:1, as signifying bright red. But apart from the fact that it is impossible to see why so unusual a word should have been chosen in the place of the intelligible word 'ădummı̄m in the account of the destination of the red team in Zechariah 6:7, unless אמשצים were merely a copyist's error for 'ădummı̄m, there are no satisfactory grounds for identifying אמץ with חמוּץ, since it is impossible to adduce any well-established examples of the change of ח into א in Hebrew. The assertion of Koehler, that the Chaldee verb אלם, robustus fuit, is חלם in Hebrew in Job 39:4, is incorrect; for we find חלם in the sense of to be healthy and strong in the Syriac and Talmudic as well, and the Chaldaic אלם is a softened form of עלם, and not of חלם. The fact that in 1 Chronicles 8:35 we have the name תּארע in the place of תּחרע in 1 Chronicles 9:41, being the only instance of the interchange of א and ח in Hebrew, is not sufficient of itself to sustain the alteration, amidst the great mass of various readings in the genealogies of the Chronicles. Moreover, châmūts, from châmēts, to be sharp, does not mean red ( equals 'âdōm), but a glaring colour, like the Greek ὀξύς; and even in Isaiah 63:1 it has simply this meaning, i.e., merely "denotes the unusual redness of the dress, which does not look like the purple of a king's talar, or the scarlet of a chlamys" (Delitzsch); or, speaking more correctly, it merely denotes the glaring colour which the dress has acquired through being sprinkled over with red spots, arising either from the dark juice of the grape or from blood. All that remains therefore is to acknowledge, in accordance with the words of the text, that in the interpretation of the vision the departure of the team with the red horses is omitted, and the team with speckled powerful horses divided into two teams - one with speckled horses, and the other with black.

We cannot find any support in this for the interpretation of the four chariots as denoting the four imperial monarchies of Daniel, since neither the fact that there are four chariots nor the colour of the teams furnishes any tenable ground for this. And it is precluded by the angel's comparison of the four chariots to the four winds, which point to four quarters of the globe, as in Jeremiah 49:36 and Daniel 7:2, but not to four empires rising one after another, one of which always took the place of the other, so that they embraced the same lands, and were merely distinguished from one another by the fact that each in succession spread over a wider surface than its predecessor. The colour of the horses also does not favour, but rather opposes, any reference to the four great empires. Leaving out of sight the arguments already adduced at Zechariah 1:8 against this interpretation, Kliefoth himself admits that, so far as the horses and their colour are concerned, there is a thorough contrast between this vision and the first one (Zechariah 1:7-17), - namely, that in the first vision the colour assigned to the horses corresponds to the kingdoms of the world to which they are sent, whereas in the vision before us they have the colour of the kingdoms from which they set out to convey the judgment to the others; and he endeavours to explain this distinction, by saying that in the first vision the riders procure information from the different kingdoms of the world as to their actual condition, whereas in the vision before us the chariots have to convey the judgment to the kingdoms of the world. But this distinction furnishes no tenable ground for interpreting the colour of the horses in the one case in accordance with the object of their mission, and in the other case in accordance with their origin or starting-point. If the intention was to set forth the stamp of the kingdoms in the colours, they would correspond in both visions to the kingdoms upon or in which the riders and the chariots had to perform their mission. If, on the other hand, the colour is regulated by the nature and object of the vision, so that these are indicated by it, it cannot exhibit the character of the great empires.

If we look still further at the statement of the angel as to the destination of the chariots, the two attempts made by Hofmann and Kliefoth to combine the colours of the horses with the empires, show most distinctly the untenable character of this view. According to both these expositors, the angel says nothing about the chariot with the red horses, because the Babylonian empire had accomplished its mission to destroy the Assyrian empire. But the Perso-Median empire had also accomplished its mission to destroy the Babylonian, and therefore the team with the black horses should also have been left unnoticed in the explanation. On the other hand, Kliefoth asserts, and appeals to the participle יצאים in Zechariah 6:6 in support of his assertion, that the chariot with the horses of the imperial monarchy of Medo-Persia goes to the north country, viz., Mesopotamia, the seat of Babel, to convey the judgment of God thither; that the judgment was at that very time in process of execution, and the chariot was going in the prophet's own day. But although the revolt of Babylon in the time of Darius, and its result, furnish an apparent proof that the power of the Babylonian empire was not yet completely destroyed in Zechariah's time, this intimation cannot lie in the participle as expressing what is actually in process, for the simple reason that in that case the perfects יצאוּ which follow would necessarily affirm what had already taken place; and consequently not only would the white horses, which went out behind the black, i.e., the horses of the imperial monarchy of Macedonia, have executed the judgment upon the Persian empire, but the speckled horses would have accomplished their mission also, since the same יצאוּ is affirmed of both. The interchange of the participle with the perfect does not point to any difference in the time at which the events occur, but simply expresses a distinction in the idea. In the clause with יצאים the mission of the chariot is expressed through the medium of the participle, according to its idea. The expression "the black horses are going out" is equivalent to, "they are appointed to go out;" whereas in the following clauses with יצאוּ the going out is expressed in the form of a fact, for which we should use the present.

A still greater difficulty lies in the way of the interpretation of the colours of the horses as denoting the great empires, from the statement concerning the places to which the teams go forth. Kliefoth finds the reason why not only the black horses (of the Medo-Persian monarchy), but also the white horses (of the Graeco-Macedonian), go forth to the north country (Mesopotamia), but the latter after the former, in the fact that not only the Babylonian empire had its seat there, but the Medo-Persian empire also. But how does the going forth of the speckled horses into the south country (Egypt) agree with this? If the fourth chariot answered to the fourth empire in Daniel, i.e., to the Roman empire, since this empire executed the judgment upon the Graeco-Macedonian monarchy, this chariot must of necessity have gone forth to the seat of that monarchy. But that was not Egypt, the south country, but Central Asia or Babylon, where Alexander died in the midst of his endeavours to give a firm foundation to his monarchy. In order to explain the going out of the (fourth) chariot with the speckled horses into the south country, Hofmann inserts between the Graeco-Macedonian monarchy and the Roman the empire of Antiochus Epiphanes as a small intermediate empire, which is indicated by the speckled horses, and thereby brings Zechariah into contradiction not only with Daniel's description of the empires, but also with the historical circumstances, according to which, as Kliefoth has already observed, "Antiochus Epiphanes and his power had not the importance of an imperial monarchy, but were merely an offshoot of another imperial monarchy, namely the Graeco-Macedonian."

(Note: Kliefoth (Sach. p. 90) adds, by way of still further argument in support of the above: "The way in which Antiochus Epiphanes is introduced in Daniel 8 is in perfect accordance with these historical circumstances. The third monarchy, the Graeco-Macedonian, represented as a he-goat, destroys the Medo-Persian empire; but its first great horn, Alexander, breaks off in the midst of its victorious career: four horns of kingdoms grow out of the Graeco-Macedonian, and one of these offshoots of the Macedonian empire is Antiochus Epiphanes, the 'little horn,' the bold and artful king." But Zechariah would no more agree with this description in Daniel than with the historical fulfilment, if he had intended the speckled horses to represent Antiochus Epiphanes. For whereas, like Daniel, he enumerates four imperial monarchies, he makes the spotted horses appear not with the third chariot, but with the fourth, and expressly combines the spotted horses with the powerful ones, which, even according to Hofmann, were intended to indicate the Romans, and therefore unquestionably connects the spotted horses with the Roman empire. If, then, he wished the spotted horses to be understood as referring to Antiochus Epiphanes, he would represent Antiochus Epiphanes not as an offshoot of the third or Graeco-Macedonian monarchy, but as the first member of the fourth or Roman, in direct contradiction to the book of Daniel and to the historical order of events.)

Kliefoth's attempt to remove this difficulty is also a failure. Understanding by the spotted strong horses the Roman empire, he explains the separation of the spotted from the powerful horses in the angel's interpretation from the peculiar character of the imperial monarchy of Rome, - namely, that it will first of all appear as an actual and united empire, but will then break up into ten kingdoms, i.e., into a plurality of kingdoms embracing the whole earth, and finally pass over into the kingdom of Antichrist. Accordingly, the spotted horses go out first of all, and carry the spirit of wrath to the south country, Egypt, which comes into consideration as the kingdom of the Ptolemies, and as that most vigorous offshoot of the Graeco-Macedonian monarchy, which survived Antiochus Epiphanes himself. The powerful horses harnessed to the same chariot as the Roman horses go out after this, and wander over the whole earth. They are the divided kingdoms of Daniel springing out of the Roman empire, which are called the powerful ones, not only because they go over the whole earth, but also because Antichrist with his kingdom springs out of them, to convey the judgments of God over the whole earth. But however skilful this interpretation is, it founders on the fact, that it fails to explain the going forth of the speckled horses into the land of the south in a manner corresponding to the object of the vision and the historical circumstances. If the vision represented the judgment, which falls upon the empires in such a manner that the one kingdom destroys or breaks up the other, the speckled horses, which are intended to represent the actual and united Roman empire, would of necessity have gone out not merely into the south country, but into the north country also, because the Roman empire conquered and destroyed not only the one offshoot of the Graeco-Macedonian empire, but all the kingdoms that sprang out of that empire. Kliefoth has given no reason for the exclusive reference to the southern branch of this imperial monarchy, nor can any reason be found. The kingdom of the Ptolemies neither broke up the other kingdoms that sprang out of the monarchy of Alexander, nor received them into itself, so that it could be mentioned as pars pro toto, and it had no such importance in relation to the holy land and nation as that it could be referred to on that account. If the angel had simply wished to mention a vigorous offshoot of the Graeco-Macedonian empire instead of mentioning the whole, he would certainly have fixed his eye upon the kingdom of the Seleucidae, which developed itself in Antiochus Epiphanes into a type of Antichrist, and have let the speckled horses also go to the north, i.e., to Syria. This could have been explained by referring to Daniel; but not their going forth to the south country from the fact that the south country is mentioned in Daniel 11:5, as Kliefoth supposes, inasmuch as in this prophecy of Daniel not only the king of the south, but the king of the north is also mentioned, and that long-continued conflict between the two described, which inflicted such grievous injury upon the holy land.

To obtain a simple explanation of the vision, we must consider, above all things, that in all these visions the interpretations of the angel do not furnish a complete explanation of all the separate details of the vision, but simply hints and expositions of certain leading features, from which the meaning of the whole may be gathered. This is the case here. All the commentators have noticed the fact, that the statement in Zechariah 6:8 concerning the horses going forth into the north country, viz., that they carry the Spirit of Jehovah thither, also applies to the rest of the teams - namely, that they also carry the Spirit of Jehovah to the place to which they go forth. It is also admitted that the angel confines himself to interpreting single features by individualizing. This is the case here with regard to the two lands to which the chariots go forth. The land of the north, i.e., the territory covered by the lands of the Euphrates and Tigris, and the land of the south, i.e., Egypt, are mentioned as the two principal seats of the power of the world in its hostility to Israel: Egypt on the one hand, and Asshur-Babel on the other, which were the principal foes of the people of God, not only before the captivity, but also afterwards, in the conflicts between Syria and Egypt for the possession of Palestine (Daniel 11). If we observe this combination, the hypothesis that our vision depicts the fate of the four imperial monarchies, is deprived of all support. Two chariots go into the north country, which is one representative of the heathen world-power: viz., first of all the black horses, to carry famine thither, as one of the great plagues of God with which the ungodly are punished: a plague which is felt all the more painfully, in proportion to the luxury and excess in which men have previously lived. Then follow the white horses, indicating that the judgment will lead to complete victory over the power of the world. Into the south country, i.e., to Egypt, the other representative of the heathen world-power, goes the chariot with the speckled horses, to carry the manifold judgment of death by sword, famine, and pestilence, which is indicated by this colour. After what has been said concerning the team that went forth into the north country, it follows as a matter of course that this judgment will also execute the will of the Lord, so that it is quite sufficient for a chariot to be mentioned. On the other hand, it was evidently important to guard against the opinion that the judgment would only affect the two countries or kingdoms that are specially mentioned, and to give distinct prominence to the fact that they are only representatives of the heathen world, and that what is here announced applies to the whole world that is at enmity against God. This is done through the explanation in Zechariah 6:7 concerning the going out of a fourth team, to pass through the whole earth. This mission is not received by the red horses, but by the powerful ones, as the speckled horses are also called in the vision, to indicate that the manifold judgments indicated by the speckled horses will pass over the earth in all their force. The going forth of the red horses is not mentioned, simply because, according to the analogy of what has been said concerning the other teams, there could be no doubt about it, as the blood-red colour pointed clearly enough to the shedding of blood. The object of the going forth of the chariots is to let down the Spirit of Jehovah upon the land in question. הניח רוּח יי, to cause the Spirit of Jehovah to rest, i.e., to let it down, is not identical with הניח חמתו, to let out His wrath, in Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 16:42; for rūăch is not equivalent to chēmâh, wrath or fury; but the Spirit of Jehovah is rūăch mishpât (Isaiah 4:4), a spirit of judgment, which not only destroys what is ungodly, but also quickens and invigorates what is related to God. The vision does not set forth the destruction of the world-power, which is at enmity against God, but simply the judgment by which God purifies the sinful world, exterminates all that is ungodly, and renews it by His Spirit. It is also to be observed, that Zechariah 6:6 and Zechariah 6:7 are a continuation of the address of the angel, and not an explanation given by the prophet of what has been said by the angel in Zechariah 6:5. The construction in Zechariah 6:6 is anakolouthic, the horses being made the subject in יצאים, instead of the chariot with black horses, because the significance of the chariots lay in the horses. The object to ויּאמר in Zechariah 6:7 is "the Lord of the whole earth" in Zechariah 6:5, who causes the chariots to go forth; whereas in ויּזעק אתי in Zechariah 6:8 it is the interpreting angel again. By יזעק, lit., he cried to him, i.e., called out to him with a loud voice, the contents of the exclamation are held up as important to the interpretation of the whole.

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