Zechariah 1:17
Cry yet, saying, Thus said the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose 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.Cry yet - A further promise; not only should Jerusalem be rebuilt, but should as we say, overflow with good ; and God, who had seemed to cast off His people, should yet comfort her, and should show in act that He had chosen her. "love." In all the cases, which Gesenius cites as meaning "love" Genesis 6:2; 1 Samuel 20:30; 2 Samuel 15:15; Proverbs 1:29; Proverbs 3:31; Isaiah 1:29, the sense would be injured by rendering, "loved") Zechariah thrice repeats the promise, given through Isaiah Isa 14:1 to Jerusalem, before her wasting by the Chaldaeans, reminding the people thereby, that the restoration, in the dawn whereof they lived, had been promised two centuries before. Yet, against all appearances. My cities shall overflow with good, as being God's; yet would the Lord comfort Zion; yet would He choose Jerusalem.

Osorius: "What is the highest of all goods? what the sweetest solace in life? what the subject of joys? what the oblivion of past sorrow? That which the Son of God brought upon earth, when He illumined Jerusalem with the brightness of His light and heavenly discipline. For to that end was the city restored, that in it, by the ordinance of Christ, for calamity should abound bliss; for desolation, fullness; for sorrow, joy; for want, affluence of heavenly goods."

This first vision having predicted the entire restoration, the details of that restoration are given in subsequent visions.

17. yet—though heretofore lying in abject prostration.

My cities—not only Jerusalem, but the subordinate cities of Judah. God claims them all as peculiarly His, and therefore will restore them.

through prosperity … spread abroad—or overflow; metaphor from an overflowing vessel or fountain (compare Pr 5:16) [Pembellus]. Abundance of fruits of the earth, corn and wine, and a large increase of citizens, are meant; also spiritual prosperity.

comfort Zion—(Isa 40:1, 2; 51:3).

choose—(Zec 2:12; 3:2; Isa 14:1). Here meaning, "show by acts of loving-kindness that He has chosen." His immutable choice from everlasting is the fountain whence flow all such particular acts of love.

Cry yet: the prophet’s commission is either enlarged, or more full instructions given to him, to raise the hope and stablish the faith of the people of God.

My cities: Jerusalem and the cities of Judah are mine, saith the Lord, and as mine I will build, beautify, enrich, fortify, defend, and enlarge them.

Through prosperity, through increase of families and persons, they shall send forth colonies, and plant new towns and cities; and through increase of wealth and cattle be able to build their cities, and stock their colonies.

Be spread abroad; swarm as bees, and send out their young ones.

The Lord, their God, shall yet comfort Zion, Zion his church, with comforts fit for a church.

Choose Jerusalem; type of the civil state as here joined with Zion; the kingdom shall be blest in itself, and be a blessing to others, much like that Hosea 14:5: all this an effect of my choosing it, and dwelling in it. Cry yet, saying,.... That is, "prophesy again", as the Targum paraphrases it; publish and declare openly before all:

Thus saith the Lord of hosts, My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad; or, according to the Targum, "the cities of my people shall be yet filled with good"; and so the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, "my cities shall yet flow with good things"; with all temporal prosperity and happiness; which was fulfilled in the times of Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and the Maccabees; and especially in the times of the Messiah, when, in a spiritual sense, they were filled with good; with him who is goodness itself, and with all blessings of grace in him; and with the good news and glad tidings of the everlasting Gospel preached by him and his apostles; or, the meaning is, through the increase of men, and the affluence of all temporal mercies, not only the city of Jerusalem, but other cities of Judea, called the Lord's, because of his peculiar regard unto them, should be enlarged, and be spread here and there; or rather, abound with plenty of all good things, as the word in the Arabic (w) language signifies:

and the Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem; for his habitation, building again the city and temple in it: according to Capellus, though the temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius, Ezra 6:15 yet the rebuilding of Jerusalem was not till seventy years after; namely, in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes Longimanus, in which Nehemiah was sent to rebuild it, Nehemiah 2:1 for Darius reigned thirty six years; Xerxes, who succeeded him, reigned twenty years; and in the twentieth of Artaxerxes the walls of Jerusalem were rebuilt by Nehemiah; so that from the finishing of the temple are to be reckoned thirty years of the remainder of the reign of Darius, twenty years of Xerxes, and as many of Artaxerxes; and he observes that the seventieth number thrice occurs in the restoration of the Jews, not without mystery, as it should seem: from the Babylonish captivity under Jeconiah, to the putting an end to it by Cyrus, were seventy years; from the taking of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple under Zedekiah, to the rebuilding of it under Darius Hystaspis, were also seventy years; then from the rebuilding of the temple to the rebuilding of Jerusalem under Artaxerxes Longimanus were likewise seventy years; so that the walls of Jerusalem lay in ruins twice seventy years, that is, one hundred and forty years; and it may be further observed, that from the decree granted to Nehemiah in the twentieth year of Artaxerxes, seven weeks, or forty nine years, are allowed in Daniel's prophecy for the finishing that event; namely, the building again the walls and streets of Jerusalem in troublesome times, Daniel 9:25 which carries the completion of this affair so many years further; which, when effected, would be a comfort to Zion, the inhabitants of it, and all that wished well unto it; and be a proof and evidence of God's choice of it for his worship and service; and, especially, this was fulfilled by bringing into Jerusalem, and the temple there, the messenger of the covenant, the Messiah, the Consolation of Israel; and this may have a further reference to the latter day, when the people of the Jews shall be converted, and all Israel shall be saved; which will be the consolation of them, and show that God has chosen them, and not cast them off.

(w) Vid. Schultens, Origines Hebr. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 4. p. 116.

Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; My cities through prosperity shall yet {q} be spread abroad; and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.

(q) The abundance will be so great, that the places of storage will not be able to contain these blessings that God will send, but will even break because of fullness.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
17. be spread abroad] Some would render “overflow,” comparing Proverbs 5:16. But the more usual sense of the word, “spread abroad, or “disperse,” gives a good meaning. Not only shall the Temple be rebuilt, and the metropolis restored, but cities, owned and blessed by God (“my cities”), shall be scattered throughout the land.

The scope, then, of the first vision is clear. It conveys a distinct promise and prophecy of three future events. “My house shall be built,” Zechariah 1:16. This was accomplished four years later in the sixth year of Darius (Ezra 6:15). “A line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem,” Zechariah 1:16. This was done some seventy years later, when the city was rebuilt by Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:15). “My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad,” Zechariah 1:17. The fulfilment of this is to be found in the history of the Jews under the Asmonean princes. Beyond this the first prophecy does not expressly go; though its concluding words, “The Lord shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem,” are at least an implied promise of better things, than any which befell the Jews before the coming of Christ.

The Second Vision. The four horns and the four workmen. Zechariah 1:18-21. (Heb., 2:1–4.) The scene changes. The first vision had foretold as certain the punishment of the heathen, with which the prosperity of Israel was bound up. This vision takes a step in advance and depicts that punishment as already come. The prophet turns again to the field of view, which he had ceased to contemplate while he gave heed to the words of the interpreting angel, or pursued the thoughts which those words suggested. Looking up, he sees now before him four mighty horns. The beast, or beasts, which bear them are hidden from his view. The horns alone stand out from the surrounding gloom (Zechariah 1:18). In answer to the question, which he addresses to the interpreting angel, he is told that these horns represent the powers which have scattered his people (Zechariah 1:19). And now he sees, in the unfolding of this vision granted him by Jehovah, four artificers or smiths coming out to view, and proceeding one towards each of the four towering horns (Zechariah 1:20). In answer to a further question by the prophet, the interpreting angel tells him that these artificers are come to demolish and drive away these horns (Zechariah 1:21).Verse 17. - Cry yet, saying. This introduces the second part of the prophet's message. The LXX. begins the verse with the words, "And the angel that spake in me said unto me." My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad. "Yet," in this verse, is better rendered again. God calls the cities his, to show his love for Judah; and he promises that they shall not only be reoccupied by returning immigrants, but increased in extent and number by reason of the enlarged population. So Josephus tells us that in later times Jerusalem had outgrown its walls, and that the fourth quarter, Bezetha, was added ('Bell. Jud.,' 5:04. 2). But it seems' best to translate the clause thus: "My cities shall yet overflow with prosperity." Vulgate, Adhuc affluent civitates meae bonis; LXX., Ατι διαχυθήσονται πόλεις ἐν ἀγαθοῖς. Shall yet comfort Zion, for all her afflictions. Shall yet choose Jerusalem (Zechariah 2:12 [16, Hebrew]; 3:2). God will show that the election of Israel remains unimpaired and secure (comp. 2 Kings 21:7; 2 Chronicles 6:5). The partial fulfilment of the items of this prophecy are to be found in the rebuilding of the temple, the restoration of Jerusalem by Nehemiah, and the prosperity of Judah under the Asmonean princes. A hint of further blessings is given in the final clause, but their nature is not expressly mentioned. 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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