Zechariah 9
Pulpit Commentary
The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD.
Verse 1-ch. 14:21. - Part III. THE FUTURE OF THE POWERS OF THE WORLD AND OF THE KINGDOM OF GOD. Verse 1-ch. 11:17. - A. THE FIRST BURDEN. Verses 1-8. - § 1. To prepare the land for Israel, and to prove God's care for his people, the neighbouring heathen shall be chastised, while Israel shall dwell in safety and independence. Verse 1. - The burden (see note on Nahum 1:1). (On the circumstances connected with this prophecy, see Introduction, § I.) Destructive critics attribute ch. 9-11, to an anonymous prophet, whose utterances have been by mistake appended to the genuine work of Zechariah. We have given reasons for disputing this conclusion in the Introduction, § II. In (upon) the land of Hadrach. This expression is found nowhere else, and has occasioned great trouble to the commentators. But Assyrian inscriptions have cleared away the difficulty, and shown that it was the name of a city and district near Damascus, called in the monuments Hatarakha or Hatarika (see Schrader, 'Keilinschr. und das Alt. Test,' p. 453). Expeditions against this place are mentioned as occurring in various years, e.g. B.C. 772. 765, 755 (see G. Smith, 'Assyrian Canon,' pp. 46, etc., 63; 'Records of the Past,' 5:46; Schrader, pp. 482, 484, etc., 2nd edit.). Damascus shall be the rest thereof. The "burden" shall light upon Damascus in wrath, and settle there (comp. Ezekiel 5:13). This district should be the first to suffer. The LXX. has, Καὶ Δαμασκοῦ θυσία αὐτοῦ, "In the land of Sedrach and Damascus is his sacrifice." When the eyes of man, etc.; literally, for to Jehovah (is, or will be) the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel. This gives the reason why Hadrach and Damascus are thus united. Because Jehovah has his eye on men and on Israel. Septuagint, "because the Lord looketh upon men" (comp. Zechariah 4:10; and ver. 8 below). We may then translate, "For to Jehovah is an eye over man," etc. He sees their evil doings and their oppression of Israel, and therefore the judgment falls upon them (comp. Jeremiah 32:19). The Authorized Version intimates a conversion of the Gentiles, of which, however, the context says nothing: and there is no sense in saying that judgment shall fall upon a particular nation when, or because, the eyes of all men look to the Lord. Wright explains thus: When the wrath of God falls on Damascus, the eyes of the heathen, as well as those of Israel, will look to the Lord, and they will marvel at the judgment and the close fulfilment of the prediction. This would be a very sound and probable exposition of the passage if the expression, "the eye of man being towards Jehovah," can mean that man marvels at his doings. All the tribes of Israel. God watches over them to guard them from evil (Deuteronomy 11:12; Ezra 5:5; Psalm 33:18).
And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.
Verse 2. - And Hamath also shall border thereby; Revised Version, and Hamath also which bordereth thereon. Hamath, which is near unto Damascus, shall share in the Divine judgment. The Authorized Version probably means that Hamath shall be the companion of Damascus in punishment. (For Hamath, see note on Amos 6:2.) These Syrian towns, as well as those below in Phoenicia and Philistia, shall be visited, because they were all once included in the territory promised to Israel (see Genesis 15:18; Exodus 23:3l; Numbers 34:2-12; Deuteronomy 11:25; and comp. 2 Samuel 8:6, etc.; 1 Kings 4:21; 1 Kings 8:65; 2 Kings 14:25). The judgment was inflicted by Alexander the Great after the battle of Issus, B.C. 333, when Damascus was betrayed into his hands and plundered of all its enormous treasures. Tyrus and Zidon. Tyre was taken after a siege of seven months, its walls were demolished, its houses burnt, ten thousand of its defenders were massacred, the women and children sold as slaves; and it never rose to greatness again. Zidon, originally the chief city of the country, had long been eclipsed by its daughter, Tyre: it submitted to Alexander without a struggle. Though it be very wise; or, because she is very wise. The pronoun refers to Tyre, the mention of Zidon being, as it were, parenthetical. In spite of, or because of, its boasted wisdom, Tyre should suffer heavy punishment. The wisdom of Tyre is spoken of in Ezekiel 28:3, 4. Wright, as the LXX., makes the clause refer to both cities, "though they be very wise." Vulgate, Assum pserunt quippe sibi sapientiam valde.
And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.
Verse 3. - Tyrus (Zor) did build herself a stronghold (mazor). Wright endeavours to imitate the parouomasia, "Tyre built for herself a tower." It was in her strong fortifications and her amassing of riches that Tyre showed her worldly wisdom. The city was built partly on the mainland, and partly on an island nearly half a mile distant, which rose abruptly out of the water in rocky precipices, and was surrounded with walls a hundred and fifty feet high. The insular portion of the town was that which so long mocked the Macedonian's utmost efforts, which were only successful when he had united the island to the mainland by erecting an enormous mole between them. This causeway has now become an isthmus of some half mile in width, owing to accumulations of sand and debris. As the dust (comp. 2 Chronicles 9:27; Job 27:16).
Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.
Verse 4. - Will cast her out; will take possession of her; i.e. will conquer her by the hands of her enemies, as Joshua 8:7; Joshua 17:12. Septuagint, κληρονομήσει, "will inherit;" Vulgate, possidebit; Ewald and Hitzig render, "will impoverish her." Will smite her power in the sea. "Power" here includes all that made Tyre proud and confident - her riches, her fleets, her trade, her fortifications. God declares that she shall be smitten there as she stood in the midst of the sea, which formed her bulwark, and which should soon dash over her ruins. The LXX. translates, "shall smite into the sea." Zechariah seems here to have a reminiscence of Ezekiel 27:32, "What city is like Tyres, like the destroyed in the midst of the sea?" (comp. Ezekiel 26:4). With fire (comp. Amos 1:10). The city was burned by Alexander (see note on ver. 2. The siege is narrated by Arrian, 2:15-24; Quint. Curt., 4:2, etc.; Diod. Sic., 17:46, etc.).
Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
Verse 5. - Ashkelon shall see it. The ruin of so mighty a city as Tyre naturally filled neighbouring people with dismay. The prophet directs his attention to Philistia, and threatens its chief cities. The cities are enumerated in the same order as in Jeremiah 25:20. Gath is omitted, as in Amos 1:6-8 and Zephaniah 2:4:. It seems never to have recovered its destruction by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6). (For Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron, see note on Amos 1:6.) Her expectation shall be ashamed. The hope of aid from Tyre shall not be fulfilled. After the fall of Tyre, Alexander continued his march southwards towards Egypt, subduing the cities on his way. The siege of Gaze delayed him some months; and when it was taken, it shared the treatment of Tyre. Its governor, one Batis, a eunuch, was tied alive to the conqueror's chariot, and dragged round the walls, in cruel imitation of the fate of Hector. The king shall perish from Gaza. No particular king is meant; but the prediction says that henceforward no king should reign in Gaze. In contrast with the Eastern policy of allowing conquered nations to retain their own rulers as tributary sovereigns, Alexander always deposed or slew reigning monarchs, and consolidated his empire by replacing them with governors of his own. The various chastisements are meted out by the prophet among the various cities, though they equally apply to all.
And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
Verse 6. - A Bastard. The word (mamzer) occurs in Deuteronomy 23:2 (3, Hebrew), where it may possibly mean "a stranger." It is generally considered to signify one whose birth has a blemish in it - one born of incest or adultery. In Deuteronomy the LXX. renders, ἐκ πόρης, "one of harlot birth;" here, ἀλλογενής, "foreigner." The Vulgate has separator, which is explained as meaning either the Lord, who as Judge divides the just from the unjust, or the Conqueror, who divides the spoil and assigns to captives their fate. Here it doubtless signifies "a bastard race" (as the Revised Version margin translates); a rabble of aliens shall inhabit Ashdod, which shall lose its own native population. The Targum explains it differently, considering that by the expression is meant that Ashdod shall be inhabited by Israelites, who are deemed "strangers" by the Philistines. Ashdod (see note on Amos 1:8). The pride. All in which they prided themselves. This sums up the prophecy against the several Philistine cities. Their very nationality shall be lost.
And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.
Verse 7. - Personifying Philistia, the prophet declares that she shall cease to practise idolatry, and shall be incorporated in Israel. I will take away his blood out of his mouth. This refers to the practice of drinking the blood of sacrifices as an act of worship, or of eating the victims with the blood - a practice strictly forbidden to the Israelites (see Leviticus 3:17; Leviticus 7:26; Leviticus 17:10, 12; and comp. Genesis 9:4). Abominations. Sacrifices offered to idols, and afterwards eaten. The two clauses intimate the entire abolition of idolatry. Many see in this prediction a reference to the doings of the Maccabees; how, e.g., Judas destroyed the altars and idols in Azotus (1 Macc. 5:68); Jonathan again took that city, and burned it and the neighbouring towns, and, besieging Ashkelon, was received with great honour by the inhabitants, and confirmed in the possession of this place and Ekron (1 Macc. 10:84, etc.); and Simon stormed Gaza (? Gazara, a place near Ashdod), cleansed the houses of idols, "put all uncleanness out of it, and placed such men there as would keep the Law" (1 Macc. 13:47, 48). But though such events partially fulfil the prophecy, the seer looks forward to a greater issue, and in these comparatively petty details beholds the working of the great principle that all nations shall be subdued to the faith. He that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God; better, he too shall be left (or, a remnant) for our God. The Philistine shall become a choice and elect remnant unto the God of the Israelites, and no longer regarded as alien and impure. As a governor; Septuagint, χιλίαρχος, "head over a thousand." which the word alluph means (Zechariah 12:5, 6). It is used of the chiefs of Edom in Genesis 36:15, 16, etc., where the Authorized Version gives "dukes." The tribes of Israel were divided into thousands, consisting of families, each of which was held together by closer affinities than the mere tribal bond (see note on Micah 5:2). The meaning is that the Philistine shall be admitted into the commonwealth of Israel as one of her chiefs. Ekron as a Jebusite. "Ekron" is equivalent to "the Ekronite," who again stands in the place of all the Philistines. The Jebusites were the ancient possessors of Zion, who held their position till the days of David, and, when at last conquered by him (2 Samuel 5:6, etc.), were incorporated into his nation, and, as we may infer from Araunah's conduct, adopted his religion (2 Samuel 24:22; 1 Chronicles 21:23). God promises here that the Philistines, like the Jebusites, shall be absorbed into the Jewish Church. Mr. Drake ('Speaker's Commentary,' in loc.) curiously renders, "He shall be as Eleph (Joshua 18:28) in Judah, and Ekron as Jebusi," explaining that the cities of Philistia were to be incorporated into Judaea. The conquests of Alexander conduced to the conversion of the heathen and their reception into the Church of God; and the general principle enunciated by all the prophets was tiros abundantly confirmed. But it is rot easy to discover the exact historical fulfilment of the latter part of this prophecy, concerning the merging of the Philistines in the Jewish nation. Josephus ('Ant.,' 13:15. 4) tells us that, about B.C. 100, the Jews held most of their cities, destroying some whose inhabitants refused to become proselytes. In the time of our Lord, by reason of intermarriage and social intercourse, the Philistines had ceased to be regarded as a separate nation; and a little later Philistia, far from being considered as alien and hostile, under the form Palestine, gave its name to the whole country. Christianity, too, made rapid progress in this district, so that the psalmist's words received herein a fulfilment, "Behold Philistia, and Tyre, with Gush; this one was born there" (Psalm 87:4).
And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.
Verse 8. - While the heathen world suffers the judgment of God, he protects his own people. I will encamp about (for the protection of) my house. God's house, or family, is the kingdom and Church of Israel, as Hosea 8:1. Septuagint, Υποστήσομαι τῷ οἴκῳ μου ἀνάστημα, "I will erect a fortification for my house." Because of the army. It may also be translated "against," or "from;" i.e. to defend it from the hostile army. Others, pointing differently, render, "as a garrison," or "rampart." Because of (against) him that passeth by, etc. Against all hostile attacks. The phrase, "him that passeth by and him that returneth," is used of an enemy making incursions, or attacking at various points (see note on Zechariah 7:14). The Vulgate gives the whole clause thus: Circumdabo domum meam ex his, qui militant mihi euntes et revertentes, "I will defend my house with a guard chosen from those who serve me and do my will," i.e. angels. But this seems far from the signification of the Hebrew. Pusey restricts the meaning to the proceedings of Alexander, who passed by Judaea on his way to Egypt, and returned by the same route, without doing any injury to Jerusalem. Here comes in the Talmudic story related by Josephus ('Ant.,' 11:08). The Jews "repaid the protection of Persia with a devoted loyalty, which prompted them to refuse the demand of submission made by Alexander during the siege of Tyre. He marched to chastise them after the fall of Gaza, and the beautiful city had already risen before his view on the hill of Zion, when he found the high priest Jaddua waiting his approach at the watch station of Sapha, clad in his robes of gold and purple, and followed by a train of priests and citizens in pure white. The conqueror bowed in reverence to the Holy Name upon the high priest's frontlet; and, being asked by Parmenio the reason of his conduct, said that in a dream at Dium, he had seen the God of Jaddua, who encouraged him to pass over into Asia, and promised him success. Then entering Jerusalem, he offered sacrifice in the temple, heard the prophecy of Daniel about himself; and granted certain privileges to all the Jews throughout his empire. The desire to honour a shrine so celebrated as, the Jewish temple is quite in accordance with the conduct of Alexander at Ilium and Ephesus, Gordium and Tyre. The privileges he is said to have conferred upon the Jews were enjoyed under his successors, and some minor matters have been adduced in confirmation of the story. On the other hand, the classical writers are entirely silent on the subject, and the details of Josephus involve grave historical inconsistencies. It seems not an unreasonable conjecture that the story is an embellishment of some incident that occurred when the high priest came to Gaza to tender the submission of the Jews. But we must not dismiss it without a remark on the vast influence which the conquests of Alexander had in bringing the Jews into closer relations with the rest of Asia, and so preparing them to fulfil their ultimate destiny as Christians" (P. Smith, 'History of the World,' 1:60, etc). Oppressor. The word is used for "taskmaster" in Exodus 3:7. Septuagint, ἐξελαύνων, "one who drives away;" Vulgate, exactor. This latter rendering would imply that Israel would no longer have to pay tribute to foreign nations, but should henceforward be independent. For now have I seen with mine eyes. It is as though, during Israel's calamities, God had not looked upon her; but now he notices her condition, and interposes for her succour (comp. Exodus 2:25; Exodus 3:7, 9; Acts 7:34). This is done by sending the personage mentioned in the following section.
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
Verses 9, 10. - § 2. Then shall the righteous King come to Zion in lowly fashion, and inaugurate a kingdom of peace. Verse 9. - The prophet invites Jerusalem to rejoice at the coming of the promised salvation in the Person of her King; no mighty earthly potentate and conqueror, like Alexander the Great, but one of different fashion (comp. Zephaniah 3:14). Thy King cometh unto thee. St. Matthew (Matthew 21:5) and St. John (John 12:15) see a fulfilment of this prophecy in Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first day of the week in which he was crucified. All attempts to disprove the Messianic import of this passage have been unavailing. Even critics who refer this part of Zechariah (ch. 9-11.) to an unknown author writing in the time of Hezekiah, allow that it is replete with Messianic ideas, and can be applied to no hero of Jewish story or event of Jewish history. There is no other "King" of Israel to whom it can refer. Our blessed Lord himself, by his abnormal actions on Palm Sunday, plainly assumed the part of the predicted King, and meant the people to recognize in him the promised Messiah (see the full discussion of the subject in Dr. Pusey's notes, pp. 556, etc.). Thy King. A king of thine own race, no stranger, but one predestined for thee. He who was foretold by all the prophets, who was to occupy the throne of David, and reign forever (Psalm 2:6; Psalm 45:1, 6, 7; Isaiah 32:1). Unto thee. For thy good, to bless thee (Isaiah 9:6). Just. Righteous in character and in practice, ruling in equity (Psalm 72:1-4, 7; Isaiah 11:2-4). Having salvation; Septuagint, σώζων, "saving." Vulgate, salvator; so the Syriac and Chaldee. The genius of the language requires the participle to be taken passively, as it is in two other passages where it occurs (Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 33:16). The context has seemed to some to demand that it be understood in an active sense, thus contrasting him who came to save with the haughty Grecian conqueror, whose progress was marked by bloodshed. But the usual meaning of the word affords a satisfactory sense. The King who comes is "saved," endowed with salvation, either as being protected and upheld by God (Psalm 18:50; Psalm 110:1, 2, 5; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:8), or as being victorious and so able to aid his people. In this latter view, the active sense is included in the passive. His own deliverance is a sure sign of the deliverance of his people. Lowly; Septuagint, πραύς, "meek;" Vulgate, pauper - meek and lowly, as Christ himself says (Matthew 11:29),far removed from warlike pomp and worldly greatness. The word is also rendered "afflicted," and would then be in accordance with the description in Isaiah 52:13-53:5; Psalm 22:6. Riding upon an ass. In illustration of his poor or afflicted estate; it is this, and not merely the peace. fulness of his reign, that is meant by this symbolical action, as we see by the following clause, where the youthfulness of the animal is the point enforced. And (even, and that) upon a colt the foal of an ass; such as she asses bear, and one not trained; as the evangelist says, "whereon never man sat." Christ sat upon the foal. In old times judges and men of distinction rode upon asses (Genesis 22:3; Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4); but from Solomon's days the horse had been used, not only in war, but on all state occasions (Jeremiah 17:25); and the number of horses brought back on the return from Babylon is specially mentioned (Ezra 2:66). So to predicate of a King that he would come to his capital riding, not on a war horse, but on a young, unbroken ass, showed at once that he himself was not to be considered a victorious general or a worldly potentate, and that his kingdom was not to be won or maintained by carnal arms. This is signified more fully in the following verse, which describes the character and extent of Messiah's kingdom.
And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
Verse 10. - I will cut off the chariot. All the apparatus of war will be removed, Messiah's rule being not established by physical force, or maintained by military defences. The Jews seem to have used war chariots from the time of Solomon, who, we are told, had fourteen hundred of them (1 Kings 10:26). Ephraim...Jerusalem. The former term denotes the kingdom of the ten tribes; the latter, that of Judah; the two together comprising the whole Israelite nation. From the use of these terms here it cannot be concluded that the author wrote at a time when the two kingdoms existed side by side. In the first place, the description of the whole people is given poetically, and must not be taken to have more significance than is intended; and secondly, in ch. 8:13, which is confessedly post-exilian, the "house of Judah," and the "house of Israel" are distinguished. Dr. Cheyne notes, too, that in Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:15-28), who prophesied during the Captivity, the ten tribes are distinguished by the name of Ephraim, and pertinently asks why such term may not be also used by one who wrote after the Captivity. The battle bow stands for all weapons of war. That Messiah's kingdom should be peaceful and peace-bringing, see the prophecies (Psalm 72:7; Isaiah 2:4; Isaiah 9:4-7; comp. Micah 5:10, 11). He shall speak peace unto the heathen. He will extend this peace to all the world, teaching the heathen to receive his spiritual rule, to compose their differences, to lay aside their arms, and live as one united family (comp. Ephesians 2:17). From sea even to sea. Geographically, the phrase means from the Dead Sea on the east to the Mediterranean on the west, as in Exodus 23:31 and Psalm 72:8, from whence our passage is derived. Poetically, an Eastern sea, perhaps, is supposed to bound that side of the earth. From the river even to the ends of the earth. From the Enphrates unto the utmost limits of the world (see Amos 8:12; Micah 7:12). Both expressions obtain an unlimited significance, and show the universal extent of Messiah's kingdom; for in him, according to the promise made to Abraham, all the families of the earth should be blessed.
As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
Verses 11-17. - § 3. All Israel, united into one people, shall wage successful war against adversaries, and attain to high glory, and increase largely in numbers. Verse 11. - As for thee also. The prophet addresses the daughter of Zion, the covenant people (comp. vers. 10, 13). "Also" is inserted to intimate that this deliverance is given in addition to the blessings promised in the two preceding verses. All who are living far from their native Zion are invited to come to her and partake of her good things. By (because of) the blood of thy covenant. The covenant is that made at Sinai, sealed and ratified by blood (Exodus 24:4-8), which still held good, and was the pledge to the nation of deliverance and help. This was a token of that everlasting covenant sealed with the blood of Christ, by which God's people are delivered from the bondage of sin (comp. Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:14-23; Hebrews 13:20). I have sent forth; I send forth - the prophetic perfect. The Greek and Latin Versions render, "thou sentest forth," not so correctly. Thy prisoners. Those members of the nation who were still oppressed or captives in foreign lands, as Babylon and Egypt (comp. Obadiah 1:20; Joel 3:6, etc.; Amos 1:6, 9, etc.). The pit wherein is no water. "Pit," or cistern, is a common name for a prison (Genesis 40:15; Exodus 12:29; Jeremiah 37:16). The absence of water may be notified either to imply that the tortures of thirst were added to the horror of the situation, or to intimate that the prisoners were not hopelessly drowned therein. We Christians see in this paragraph a figure of the redemption of a lost world by the blood of Christ.
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
Verse 12. - The prophet calls on the prisoners to avail themselves of the offered deliverance. Turn you to the stronghold. Return ye to Zion, the city defended by God (Zechariah 2:5), and able to afford you a safe asylum. (For the spiritual meaning, see Luke 4:18-21.) Ye prisoners of hope. Captives who have good hope of deliverance because they are still in covenant with God. Septuagint, δέσμιοι τῆς συναγωγῆς, "prisoners of the synagogue." Pusey remarks that "hope" here and nowhere else has the article, and that what is meant is "the Hope of Israel," that of which St. Paul spoke (Acts 26:6, 7 and Acts 28:20). Even today. In spite of all contrary appearances. Septuagint, ἀντὶ μιᾶς ἡμέρας παροικεσίας σου, "for one day of thy sojourning." Double. A double measure of blessing in compensation for past suffering (Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 61:7). There ought to be a full stop at the end of this verse, as in the Revised Version.
When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
Verse 13. - The Lord proceeds to explain the promised blessings in detail. First is signified the victorious resistance of the Maccabees against the Seleucidae - a figure of Messiah's victory over all the enemies of God. When (for) I have bent Judah for me. The verbs are in the prophetical perfect, and may be rendered future By a grand figure God is represented as a warrior armed for battle, who uses his people for the weapons of his warfare. The Hebrews speak of "treading" the bow, where we say "bend," because they used the foot in bending it. In the present case Judah is God's bow. Filled the bow with Ephraim. Ephraim is the arrow (comp. Psalm 127:4, 5). Judah and Ephraim, the united people, are God's instruments, and fight against the world power in his strength. And raised up; better, and I will stir up; Septuagint, ἐξεγερῶ: Vulgate, suscitabo. Greece; Javan. Not a vague term for the tar west, whither some prisoners had been carried, but to be taken strictly as the appellation of Greece. Nothing but inspiration could have enabled Zechariah and Daniel to foresee the rise of the Macedonian dynasty, and the struggle between the Jews and the Syro-Grecian power in Maccabean times, which is here plainly announced. The earlier the date assigned to this part of Zechariah's prophecy, the more incredible is it that any mere human sagacity or prescience should have enabled a man to fore. tell these events, or to see in Greece a power arrayed in conflict with the people of God. And made thee; rather, and I will make thee. God will make his people into a hero's sword to execute vengeance on the enemy.
And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
Verse 14. - The Lord shall be seen over them. To encourage the chosen people in the contest, the Lord shall make iris presence manifest as their Leader. His arrow. God's arrows are the judgments which he inflicts upon his enemies, which come forth suddenly as the lightning flash, and cannot be avoided (Psalm 18:14; Habakkuk 3:11). Shall blow the trumpet. As the signal of battle and calamity (Numbers 10:9; Judges 7:19, 20; Ezekiel 7:14; Amos 3:6; Zephaniah 1:16). Whirlwinds of the south. He shall come upon the enemy and sweep them away with irresistible force. Storms from the south were the most violent, coming from the Arabian desert (Job 37:9; Isaiah 21:1; Hosea 13:15). Septuagint, Πορεύσεται ἐν σάλῳ ἀπειλῆς αὐτοῦ," He shall go in the surge of his menace."
The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.
Verse 15. - Shall defend them; ὑπερασπιεῖ αὐτούς, "shall put his shield over them" (Septuagint). There are numerous examples, in the Books of Maccabees, of God's special interposition in his people's favour, and thus far and in part fulfilling this prophecy (see 1 Macc. 3:16-24 1 Macc. 4:6-16 1 Macc. 7:40-50; 2 Macc. 2:21, 22 2Macc. 3:24, etc.; 5:2-4; 11:8; 12:11,15, 22, 28, 37; 15:7, etc.). They shall devour. The prophet seems to have had in view Numbers 23:24, where Israel is compared to a lion, eating of the prey and drinking the blood of the slain. So here he says they shall "devour," i.e. the flesh of their enemies (comp. Micah 5:8). Subdue with sling stones. So the Vulgate, and virtually the Septuagint, taking the case of the noun as instrumental; but it is best to take it as accusative of the object, as in the margin of the Authorized Version, "They shall tread down the stones of the sling." The "slingstones" are the enemies, as in the next verse "the stones of a crown" are the Jews; and the sentence means that the Jews shall tread their enemies underfoot like spent slingstones, which are of no account. Or it may signify simply and without metaphor that they shall despise the enemies' missiles, which shall fall harmless among them (Job 41:28, 29). They shall drink the blood of the slain, like lions. Make a noise. As men exhilarated with wine. Vulgate, Bibentes inebriabuntur quasi a vino (Isaiah 49:26; Ezekiel 39:17-19). Shall be filled like bowls. They shall be filled with blood like the sacrificial vessels in which the blood of victims was received (Zechariah 14:20). The corners of the altar. The blood was also sprinkled on the corners or sides of the altar (Leviticus 1:5, 11; Leviticus 3:2). There may be included the notion that the war against God's enemies was a sacred war, and accepted by him as a sacrifice. In the Maccabean struggle the bloodshed was often very considerable (see 1 Macc. 7:32, 46 1 Macc. 11:47; 2 Macc. 8:30 2Macc. 10:17, 23, 31, etc.).
And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.
Verse 16. - Shall save them. He shall give them a positive blessing beyond mere deliverance from enemies. Keil, "Shall endow them with salvation." As the flock of his people; so the Vulgate; literally, as a flock, his people; Septuagint, ὡς πρόβατα, λαὸν αὐτοῦ. He will tend his people as a shepherd tends his flock (Psalm 77:20; Psalm 100:3; Jeremiah 23:1; Ezekiel 34:2, 8, etc.), So Christ calls himself the "good Shepherd," and his followers "little flock" (John 10:11; Luke 12:32). Stones of a crown. The valuable gems set in crowns and diadems, or in the high priest's official dress. The people shall be in God's sight as precious as these in the eyes of men, and shall be highly exalted. The Septuagint and Vulgate render, "sacred stones;" and Knabenbauer thinks that by the term is meant the temple of God, which shall arise or shine in the Holy Laud, as a reward for its faithful defence. But the sense given above is satisfactory and simpler. Lifted up as an ensign upon his land; better, as the Revised Version margin, glittering upon his land. "His" may refer to Jehovah, or Israel; probably the latter is meant. The "land" is the crown or diadem in which the precious stones, the redeemed people, are set. They shall be raised to the highest possible glory and honour. If the words be taken in the sense of "raised on high over his land," they must be considered to indicate that the crown which contained the gems shall be raised aloft in victorious triumph.
For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
Verse 17. - His goodness. The goodness, i.e. the prosperity, of Israel or the land. Revised Version margin, "their prosperity." If the affix "his" is referred to Jehovah, the nouns "goodness" and "beauty" must be taken, not as his attributes, but as gifts bestowed by him, the prosperity and beauty which he confers. But it is more suitable to the context to consider the reference to be to the people, who in the next clause are divided into young men and maidens, and to take the "goodness," or goodliness, as appertaining more especially to the former, and the "beauty" to the latter. His beauty (comp. Ezekiel 16:14). (For the Messianic interpretation, see Psalm 45:2; Isaiah 33:17.) Corn...new wine. This is an expression often found to denote great abundance and prosperity. The two are distributed poetically between the youths and maidens (Deuteronomy 33:28; Psalm 72:16; Jeremiah 31:12, 13; Joel 2:18, 19). Make...cheerful; literally, make sprout. It probably refers to the increase of population occurring in times of plenty. This outward prosperity is a symbol of God's favour and the uprightness of the people. In these things, too, we may see adumbrated the spiritual blessings of the gospel, which are, as corn and wine, to strengthen and refresh the soul.

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Zechariah 8
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