Zechariah 1:16
Therefore thus said the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, said the LORD of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth on Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:7-17 The prophet saw a dark, shady grove, hidden by hills. This represented the low, melancholy condition of the Jewish church. A man like a warrior sat on a red horse, in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. Though the church was in a low condition, Christ was present in the midst, ready to appear for the relief of his people. Behind him were angels ready to be employed by him, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Would we know something of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must apply, not to angels, for they are themselves learners, but to Christ himself. He is ready to teach those humbly desirous to learn the things of God. The nations near Judea enjoyed peace at that time, but the state of the Jews was unsettled, which gave rise to the pleading that followed; but mercy must only be hoped for through Christ. His intercession for his church prevails. The Lord answered the Angel, this Angel of the covenant, with promises of mercy and deliverance. All the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood; and his ministers are to preach them to all the world. The earth sat still, and was at rest. It is not uncommon for the enemies of God to be at rest in sin, while his people are enduring correction, harassed by temptation, disquieted by fears of wrath, or groaning under oppression and persecution. Here are predictions which had reference to the revival of the Jews after the captivity, but those events were shadows of what shall take place in the church, after the oppression of the New Testament Babylon is ended.Therefore - This being so, since God was so jealous for His people, so displeased with their persecutors, "thus saith the Lord," Dionysius, "I who "in wrath remember mercy, am returned" Habakkuk 3:2, not by change of place, who am uncircumscribed, not existing in place, to the people of Judah and Jerusalem in mercies, manifoldly benefiting them by various effects of My love." The single benefits, the rebuilding of His House, and so the restoration of His public worship, and the rebuilding of Jerusalem, are but instances of that all-containing mercy, His restored presence in tender mercies. "I am returned," God says, although the effects of His return were yet to come.

A line shall be stretched forth over Jerusalem - Before, when it stood, this had been done to destroy 2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11; now, when destroyed, to rebuild .

Osorius: "The temple was built then, when the foundations of the walls were not yet laid. In man's sight it would have seemed more provident that the walls should be first builded, that then the temple might be builded more securely. To God, in whom alone is the most firm stay of our life and salvation, it seemed otherwise. For it cannot be that he, to whom nothing is dearer fhan zeal for the most holy religion, should be forsaken of His help."

16. I am returned—whereas in anger I had before withdrawn from her (Ho 5:15).

with mercies—not merely of one kind, nor once only, but repeated mercies.

my house shall be built—which at this time (the second year of Darius, Zec 1:1) had only its foundations laid (Hag 2:18). It was not completed till the sixth year of Darius (Ezr 6:15).

line—(Job 38:5). The measuring-line for building, not hastily, but with measured regularity. Not only the temple, but Jerusalem also was to be rebuilt (Ne 2:3, &c.; compare Zec 2:1, 2). Also, as to the future temple and city, Eze 41:3; 42:1-44:31; 45:6.

Therefore; because the enemy hath so barbarously and inhumanly added affliction to the afflicted, it is time to save and relieve.

I am returned: when I was departed, and had withdrawn my presence, thus cruelly were my people handled; but now I will return, I will be with them, my presence shall restrain the violent and protect the innocent.

With mercies; with tender, abundant, and promised mercies now they shall be comforted indeed.

My house; the temple of God, the excellency of Jacob.

Shall be built in it; shall be finished, the impediments shall be removed, what glory I have promised by Haggai 2:9, I will put upon this house of mine in Jerusalem.

Saith the Lord of hosts: this confirms the promise, and establisheth our faith, if we know the import hereof.

A line, the builder’s measuring line, shall be stretched out, to mark out walls, gates, palaces, streets, and houses in Jerusalem, that they may be built again in beauty and strength, with skill and art; and shall be once more the glory of the earth, and joy of Israel.

Therefore; because the enemy hath so barbarously and inhumanly added affliction to the afflicted, it is time to save and relieve.

I am returned: when I was departed, and had withdrawn my presence, thus cruelly were my people handled; but now I will return, I will be with them, my presence shall restrain the violent and protect the innocent.

With mercies; with tender, abundant, and promised mercies now they shall be comforted indeed.

My house; the temple of God, the excellency of Jacob.

Shall be built in it; shall be finished, the impediments shall be removed, what glory I have promised by Haggai 2:9, I will put upon this house of mine in Jerusalem.

Saith the Lord of hosts: this confirms the promise, and establisheth our faith, if we know the import hereof.

A line, the builder’s measuring line, shall be stretched out, to mark out walls, gates, palaces, streets, and houses in Jerusalem, that they may be built again in beauty and strength, with skill and art; and shall be once more the glory of the earth, and joy of Israel. Therefore thus saith the Lord, I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies,.... Having returned the people of the Jews from their captivity to Jerusalem, in which he had shown abundant mercy to them:

my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts; meaning the temple where he dwelt and was worshipped; the foundation of which had been laid two months before this prophecy was delivered, Haggai 2:18 and which should be raised up and finished, notwithstanding all the opposition of the enemy, and the discouragements of the people:

and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem; to measure with it, and build by it, the wall, streets, and houses of Jerusalem. The meaning is, that not only the temple should be built, but the city likewise, and that in great order, and with great exactness and symmetry; see Zechariah 2:1. The Targum paraphrases it, "upon the building of the walls of Jerusalem".

Therefore thus saith the LORD; I have returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts, and a line {p} shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.

(p) To measure out the buildings.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. Therefore] because I am thus jealous for my people and angry with their enemies.

a line] i.e. a measuring line, to mark out the city with a view to its being rebuilt. Comp. Job 38:5. It had been measured before for destruction, 2 Kings 21:13; Lamentations 2:8.Verse 16. - Therefore. Because God loved his people and was incensed with the heathen. I am returned; I return. According to the promise in ver. 3 (see note on Zechariah 8:3). A line shall be stretched forth. A measuring line shall now be used to mark out the city for rebuilding (Job 38:5). The first proof of God's renewed mercy would be seen in the restoration of the temple, the symbol of the theocracy, and in the revival of the city, the type of national life. The "line" had been used for purposes of destruction (2 Kings 21:13; Isaiah 34:11; Lamentations 2:8). The believing confidence expressed in this verse does not appear to be borne out by what is actually done by God. The prophet proceeds to lay this enigma before God in Habakkuk 1:13-17, and to pray for his people to be spared during the period of the Chaldaean affliction. Habakkuk 1:13. "Art Thou too pure of eye to behold evil, and canst Thou not look upon distress? Wherefore lookest Thou upon the treacherous? and art silent when the wicked devours one more righteous than he? Habakkuk 1:14. And Thou hast made men like fishes of the sea, like reptiles that have no ruler. Habakkuk 1:15. All of them hath he lifted up with the hook; he draws them into his net, and gathers them in his fishing net; he rejoices thereat, and is glad. Habakkuk 1:16. Therefore he sacrifices to his net, and burns incense to his landing net; for through them is his portion rich, and his food fat. Habakkuk 1:17. Shall he therefore empty his net, and always strangle nations without sparing?" In Habakkuk 1:13, טהור עינים, with the two clauses dependent upon it, stands as a vocative, and טהור followed by מן as a comparative: purer of eyes than to be able to see. This epithet is applied to God as the pure One, whose eyes cannot bear what is morally unclean, i.e., cannot look upon evil. The purity of God is not measured here by His seeing evil, but is described as exalted above it, and not coming at all into comparison with it. On the relation in which these words stand to Numbers 23:21, see the remarks on Habakkuk 1:3. In the second clause the infinitive construction passes over into the finite verb, as is frequently the case; so that אשׁר must be supplied in thought: who canst not look upon, i.e., canst not tolerate, the distress which the wicked man prepares for others. Wherefore then lookest Thou upon treacherous ones, namely, the Chaldaeans? They are called בּוגדים, from their faithlessly deceptive and unscrupulously rapacious conduct, as in Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 24:16. That the seeing is a quiet observance, without interposing to punish, is evident from the parallel תּחרישׁ: Thou art silent at the swallowing of the צדיק ממּנּוּ. The more righteous than he (the ungodly one) is not the nation of Israel as such, which, if not perfectly righteous, was relatively more righteous than the Chaldaeans. This rabbinical view is proved to be erroneous, by the fact that in Habakkuk 1:2 and Habakkuk 1:3 the prophet describes the moral depravity of Israel in the same words as those which he here applies to the conduct of the Chaldaeans. The persons intended are rather the godly portion of Israel, who have to share in the expiation of the sins of the ungodly, and suffer when they are punished (Delitzsch). This fact, that the righteous is swallowed along with the unrighteous, appears irreconcilable with the holiness of God, and suggests the inquiry, how God can possibly let this be done.

This strange fact is depicted still further in Habakkuk 1:14-16 in figures taken from the life of a fisherman. The men are like fishes, whom the Chaldaean collects together in his net, and then pays divine honour to his net, by which he has been so enriched. ותּעשׂה is not dependent upon למּה, but continues the address in a simple picture, in which the imperfect with Vav convers. represents the act as the natural consequence of the silence of God: "and so Thou makest the men like fishes," etc. The point of comparison lies in the relative clause לא־משׁל בּו, "which has no ruler," which is indeed formally attached to כּרמשׂ alone, but in actual fact belongs to דּגי היּם also. "No ruler," to take the defenceless under his protection, and shelter and defend them against enemies. Then will Judah be taken prisoner and swallowed up by the Chaldaeans. God has given it helplessly up to the power of its foes, and has obviously ceased to be its king. Compare the similar lamentation in Isaiah 63:19 : "are even like those over whom Thou hast never ruled." רמשׂ, the creeping thing, the smaller animals which exist in great multitudes, and move with great swiftness, refers here to the smaller water animals, to which the word remes is also applied in Psalm 104:25, and the verb râmas in Genesis 1:21 and Leviticus 11:46. כּלּה, pointing back to the collective 'âdâm, is the object, and is written first for the sake of emphasis. The form העלה, instead of העלה, is analogous to the hophal העלה in Nahum 2:8 and Judges 6:28, and also to העברתּ in Joshua 7:7 : to take up out of the water (see Ges. 63, Anm. 4). יגרהוּ from גרר, to pull, to draw together. Chakkâh is the hook, cherem the net generally, mikhmereth the large fishing-net (σαγήνη), the lower part of which, when sunk, touches the bottom, whilst the upper part floats on the top of the water. These figures are not to be interpreted with such specialty as that the net and fishing net answer to the sword and bow; but the hook, the net, and the fishing net, as the things used for catching fish, refer to all the means which the Chaldaeans employ in order to subdue and destroy the nations. Luther interprets it correctly. "These hooks, nets, and fishing nets," he says, "are nothing more than his great and powerful armies, by which he gained dominion over all lands and people, and brought home to Babylon the goods, jewels, silver, and gold, interest and rent of all the world." He rejoices over the success of his enterprises, over this capture of men, and sacrifices and burns incense to his net, i.e., he attributes to the means which he has employed the honour due to God. There is no allusion in these words to the custom of the Scythians and Sauromatians, who are said by Herodotus (iv. 59, 60) to have offered sacrifices every year to a sabre, which was set up as a symbol of Mars. What the Chaldaean made into his god, is expressed in Habakkuk 1:11, namely, his own power. "He who boasts of a thing, and is glad and joyous on account of it, but does not thank the true God, makes himself into an idol, gives himself the glory, and does not rejoice in God, but in his own strength and work" (Luther). The Chaldaean sacrifices to his net, for thereby (בּהמּה, by net and yarn) his portion (chelqō) is fat, i.e., the portion of this booty which falls to him, and fat is his food ( בּראה is a neuter substantive). The meaning is, that he thereby attains to wealth and prosperity. In Habakkuk 1:17 there is appended to this the question embracing the thought: Shall he therefore, because he rejoices over his rich booty, or offers sacrifice to his net, empty his net, sc. to throw it in afresh, and proceed continually to destroy nations in so unsparing a manner? In the last clause the figure passes over into a literal address. The place of the imperfect is now taken by a periphrastic construction with the infinitive: Shall he constantly be about to slay? On this construction, see Ges. 132, 3, Anm. 1, and Ewald, 237, c. לא יחמול is a subordinate clause appended in an adverbial sense: unsparingly, without sparing.

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