Zechariah 1:17
Cry yet, saying, Thus saith 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. Zechariah 1:17Zechariah 1:8. "I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtles which were in the hollow; and behind him red, speckled, and white horses. Zechariah 1:9. And I said, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me said to me, I will show thee what these are. Zechariah 1:10. And the man who stood among the myrtles answered and said, These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth. Zechariah 1:11. And they answered the angel of Jehovah who stood among the myrtles, and said, We have gone through the earth, and, behold, the whole earth sits still, and at rest. Zechariah 1:12. Then the angel of Jehovah answered and said, Jehovah of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have compassion upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom Thou hast been angry these seventy years? Zechariah 1:13. And Jehovah answered the angel that talked with me good words, comforting words. Zechariah 1:14. And the angel that talked with me said to me, Preach, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I have been jealous for Jerusalem and Zion with great jealousy, Zechariah 1:15 and with great wrath I am angry against the nations at rest: for I had been angry for a little, but they helped for harm. Zechariah 1:16. Therefore thus saith Jehovah, I turn again to Jerusalem with compassion: my house shall be built in it, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and the measuring line shall be drawn over Jerusalem. Zechariah 1:17. Preach as yet, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, My cities shall yet swell over with good, and Jehovah will yet comfort Zion, and will yet choose Jerusalem." The prophet sees, during the night of the day described in Zechariah 1:7 (הלּילה is the accusative of duration), in an ecstatic vision, not in a dream but in a waking condition, a rider upon a red horse in a myrtle-bush, stopping in a deep hollow, and behind him a number of riders upon red, speckled, and white horses (sūsı̄m are horses with riders, and the reason why the latter are not specially mentioned is that they do not appear during the course of the vision as taking any active part, whilst the colour of their horses is the only significant feature). At the same time he also sees, in direct proximity to himself, an angel who interprets the vision, and farther off (Zechariah 1:11) the angel of Jehovah also standing or stopping among the myrtle-bushes, and therefore in front of the man upon a red horse, to whom the riders bring a report, that they have gone through the earth by Jehovah's command and have found the whole earth quiet and at rest; whereupon the angel of Jehovah addresses a prayer to Jehovah for pity upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and receives a good consolatory answer, which the interpreting angel conveys to the prophet, and the latter publicly proclaims in Zechariah 1:14-17.

The rider upon the red horse is not to be identified with the angel of Jehovah, nor the latter with the angelus interpres. It is true that the identity of the rider and the angel of Jehovah, which many commentators assume, is apparently favoured by the circumstance that they are both standing among the myrtles (‛ōmēd, stood; see Zechariah 1:8, Zechariah 1:10, and Zechariah 1:11); but all that follows from this is that the rider stopped at the place where the angel of Jehovah was standing, i.e., in front of him, to present a report to him of the state of the earth, which he had gone through with his retinue. This very circumstance rather favours the diversity of the two, inasmuch as it is evident from this that the rider upon the red horse was simply the front one, or leader of the whole company, who is brought prominently forward as the spokesman and reporter. If the man upon the red horse had been the angel of Jehovah Himself, and the troop of horsemen had merely come to bring information to the man upon the red horse, the troop of horsemen could not have stood behind him, but would have stood either opposite to him or in front of him. And the different epithets applied to the two furnish a decisive proof that the angel of the Lord and "the angel that talked with me" are not one and the same. The angel, who gives or conveys to the prophet the interpretation of the vision, is constantly called "the angel that talked with me," not only in Zechariah 1:9, where it is preceded by an address on the part of the prophet to this same angel, but also in Zechariah 1:13 and Zechariah 1:14, and in the visions which follow (Zechariah 2:2, Zechariah 2:7; Zechariah 4:1, Zechariah 4:4; Zechariah 5:5, Zechariah 5:10; Zechariah 6:4), from which it is perfectly obvious that הדּבר בּי denotes the function which this angel performs in these visions (dibber be, signifying the speaking of God or of an angel within a man, as in Hosea 1:2; Habakkuk 2:1; Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8). His occupation, therefore, was to interpret the visions to the prophet, and convey the divine revelations, so that he was only an angelus interpres or collocutor. This angel appears in the other visions in company with other angels, and receives instructions from them (Zechariah 2:5-8); and his whole activity is restricted to the duty of conveying higher instructions to the prophet, and giving him an insight into the meaning of the visions, whereas the angel of Jehovah stands on an equality with God, being sometimes identified with Jehovah, and at other times distinguished from Him. (Compare the remarks upon this subject in the comm. on Genesis, Pent. pp. 118ff.) In the face of these facts, it is impossible to establish the identity of the two by the arguments that have been adduced in support of it. It by no means follows from Zechariah 1:9, where the prophet addresses the mediator as "my lord," that the words are addressed to the angel of the Lord; for neither he nor the angelus interpres has been mentioned before; and in the visions persons are frequently introduced as speaking, according to their dramatic character, without having been mentioned before, so that it is only from what they say or do that it is possible to discover who they are. Again, the circumstance that in Zechariah 1:12 the angel of the Lord presents a petition to the Supreme God on behalf of the covenant nation, and that according to Zechariah 1:13 Jehovah answers the angelus interpres in good, comforting words, does not prove that he who receives the answer must be the same person as the intercessor: for it might be stated in reply to this, as it has been by Vitringa, that Zechariah has simply omitted to mention that the answer was first of all addressed to the angel of the Lord, and that it was through him that it reached the mediating angel; or we might assume, as Hengstenberg has done, that "Jehovah addressed the answer directly to the mediating angel, because the angel of the Lord had asked the question, not for his own sake, but simply for the purpose of conveying consolation and hope through the mediator to the prophet, and through him to the nation generally."

There is no doubt that, in this vision, both the locality in which the rider upon the red horse, with his troop, and the angel of the Lord had taken up their position, and also the colour of the horses, are significant. But they are neither of them easy to interpret. Even the meaning of metsullâh is questionable. Some explain it as signifying a "shady place," from צל, a shadow; but in that case we should expect the form metsillâh. There is more authority for the assumption that metsullâh is only another form for metsūlâh, which is the reading in many codd., and which ordinarily stands for the depth of the sea, just as in Exodus 15:10 tsâlal signifies to sink into the deep. The Vulgate adopts this rendering: in profundo. Here it signifies, in all probability, a deep hollow, possibly with water in it, as myrtles flourish particularly well in damp soils and by the side of rivers (see Virgil, Georg. ii. 112, iv. 124). The article in bammetsullâh defines the hollow as the one which the prophet saw in the vision, not the ravine of the fountain of Siloah, as Hofmann supposes (Weissagung u. Erfllung, i. p. 333). The hollow here is not a symbol of the power of the world, or the abyss-like power of the kingdoms of the world (Hengstenberg and M. Baumgarten), as the author of the Chaldee paraphrase in Babele evidently thought; for this cannot be proved from such passages as Zechariah 10:1-1215:59Isa Zechariah 44:27, and Psalm 107:24. In the myrtle-bushes, or myrtle grove, we have no doubt a symbol of the theocracy, or of the land of Judah as a land that was dear and lovely in the estimation of the Lord (cf. Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16), for the myrtle is a lovely ornamental plant. Hence the hollow in which the myrtle grove was situated, can only be a figurative representation of the deep degradation into which the land and people of God had fallen at that time. There is a great diversity of opinion as to the significance of the colour of the horses, although all the commentators agree that the colour is significant, as in Zechariah 6:2. and Revelation 6:2., and that this is the only reason why the horses are described according to their colours, and the riders are not mentioned at all. About two of the colours there is no dispute. אדום, red, the colour of the blood; and לבן, white, brilliant white, the reflection of heavenly and divine glory (Matthew 17:2; Matthew 28:3; Acts 1:10), hence the symbol of a glorious victory (Revelation 6:2). The meaning of seruqqı̄m is a disputed one. The lxx have rendered it ψαροὶ καὶ ποικίλοι, like בּרדּים אמצּים in Zechariah 6:3; the Itala and Vulgate, varii; the Peshito, versicolores. Hence sūsı̄m seruqqı̄m would correspond to the ἵππος χλωρός of Revelation 6:8. The word seruqqı̄m only occurs again in the Old Testament in Isaiah 16:8, where it is applied to the tendrils or branches of the vine, for which sōrēq (Isaiah 5:2; Jeremiah 2:21) or serēqâh (Genesis 49:11) is used elsewhere. On the other hand, Gesenius (Thes. s.v.) and others defend the meaning red, after the Arabic ašqaru, the red horse, the fox, from šaqira, to be bright red; and Koehler understands by sūsı̄m seruqqı̄m, bright red, fire-coloured, or bay horses. But this meaning cannot be shown to be in accordance with Hebrew usage: for it is a groundless conjecture that the vine branch is called sōrēq from the dark-red grapes (Hitzig on Isaiah 5:2); and the incorrectness of it is evident from the fact, that even the Arabic šaqira does not denote dark-red, but bright, fiery red. The Arabic translator has therefore rendered the Greek πυῤῥός by Arab. ašqaru in Sol 5:9; but πυῤῥός answers to the Hebrew אדום, and the lxx have expressed sūsı̄m 'ădummı̄m by ἵπποι πυῤῥοί both here and in Zechariah 6:2. If we compare this with ch. Zechariah 6:2, where the chariots are drawn by red ('ădummı̄m, πυῤῥοί), black (shechōrı̄m, μέλανες), white (lebhânı̄m, λευκοί), and speckled (beruddı̄m, ψαροί) horses, and with Revelation 6, where the first rider has a white horse (λευκός), the second a red one (πυῥῥός), the third a black one (μέλας), the fourth a pale horse (χλωρός), there can be no further doubt that three of the colours of the horses mentioned here occur again in the two passages quoted, and that the black horse is simply added as a fourth; so that the seruqqı̄m correspond to the beruddı̄m of Zechariah 6:3, and the ἵππος χλωρός of Revelation 6:8, and consequently sârōq denotes that starling kind of grey in which the black ground is mixed with white, so that it is not essentially different from bârōd, speckled, or black covered with white spots (Genesis 31:10, Genesis 31:12).

By comparing these passages with one another, we obtain so much as certain with regard to the meaning of the different colours, - namely, that the colours neither denote the lands and nations to which the riders had been sent, as Hvernick, Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, and others suppose; nor the three imperial kingdoms, as Jerome, Cyril, and others have attempted to prove. For, apart from the fact that there is no foundation whatever for the combination proposed, of the red colour with the south as the place of light, or of the white with the west, the fourth quarter of the heavens would be altogether wanting. Moreover, the riders mentioned here have unquestionably gone through the earth in company, according to Zechariah 1:8 and Zechariah 1:11, or at any rate there is no intimation whatever of their having gone through the different countries separately, according to the colour of their respective horses; and, according to Zechariah 6:6, not only the chariot with the black horses, but that with the white horses also, goes into the land of the south. Consequently the colour of the horses can only be connected with the mission which the riders had to perform. This is confirmed by Revelation 6, inasmuch as a great sword is there given to the rider upon the red horse, to take away peace from the earth, that they may kill one another, and a crown to the rider upon the white horse, who goes forth conquering and to conquer (Revelation 6:2), whilst the one upon the pale horse receives the name of Death, and has power given to him to slay the fourth part of the earth with sword, famine, and pestilence (Revelation 6:8). It is true that no such effects as these are attributed to the riders in the vision before us, but this constitutes no essential difference. To the prophet's question, mâh-'ēlleh, what are these? i.e., what do they mean? the angelus interpres, whom he addresses as "my lord" ('ădōnı̄), answers, "I will show thee what these be;" whereupon the man upon the red horse, as the leader of the company, gives this reply: "These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth;" and then proceeds to give the angel of the Lord the report of their mission, viz., "We have been through the earth, and behold all the earth sitteth still and at rest." The man's answer (vayya‛an, Zechariah 1:10) is not addressed to the prophet or to the angelus interpres, but to the angel of the Lord mentioned in Zechariah 1:11, to whom the former, with his horsemen (hence the plural, "they answered," in Zechariah 1:11), had given a report of the result of their mission. The verb ‛ânâh, to answer, refers not to any definite question, but to the request for an explanation contained in the conversation between the prophet and the interpreting angel. חארץ, in Zechariah 1:10 and Zechariah 1:11, is not the land of Judah, or any other land, but the earth. The answer, that the whole earth sits still and at rest (ישׁבת ושׁקטת denotes the peaceful and secure condition of a land and its inhabitants, undisturbed by any foe; cf. Zechariah 7:7; 1 Chronicles 4:40, and Judges 18:27), points back to Haggai 2:7-8, Haggai 2:22-23. God had there announced that for a little He would shake heaven and earth, the whole world and all nations, that the nations would come and fill His temple with glory. The riders sent out by God now return and report that the earth is by no means shaken and in motion, but the whole world sits quiet and at rest. We must not, indeed, infer from this account that the riders were all sent for the simple and exclusive purpose of obtaining information concerning the state of the earth, and communicating it to the Lord. For it would have been quite superfluous and unmeaning to send out an entire troop, on horses of different colours, for this purpose alone. Their mission was rather to take an active part in the agitation of the nations, if any such existed, and guide it to the divinely appointed end, and that in the manner indicated by the colour of their horses; viz., according to Revelation 6, those upon the red horses by war and bloodshed; those upon the starling-grey, or speckled horses, by famine, pestilence, and other plagues; and lastly, those upon the white horses, by victory and the conquest of the world.

In the second year of Darius there prevailed universal peace; all the nations of the earlier Chaldaean empire were at rest, and lived in undisturbed prosperity. Only Judaea, the home of the nation of God, was still for the most part lying waste, and Jerusalem was still without walls, and exposed in the most defenceless manner to all the insults of the opponents of the Jews. Such a state of things as this necessarily tended to produce great conflicts in the minds of the more godly men, and to confirm the frivolous in their indifference towards the Lord. As long as the nations of the world enjoyed undisturbed peace, Judah could not expect any essential improvement in its condition. Even though Darius had granted permission for the building of the temple to be continued, the people were still under the bondage of the power of the world, without any prospect of the realization of the glory predicted by the earlier prophets (Jeremiah 31; Isaiah 40), which was to dawn upon the nation of God when redeemed from Babylon. Hence the angel of the Lord addresses the intercessory prayer to Jehovah in Zechariah 1:12 : How long wilt Thou not have compassion upon Jerusalem, etc.? For the very fact that the angel of the Lord, through whom Jehovah had formerly led His people and brought them into the promised land and smitten all the enemies before Israel, now appears again, contains in itself one source of consolation. His coming was a sign that Jehovah had not forsaken His people, and His intercession could not fail to remove every doubt as to the fulfilment of the divine promises. The circumstance that the angel of Jehovah addresses an intercessory prayer to Jehovah on behalf of Judah, is no more a disproof of his essential unity with Jehovah, than the intercessory prayer of Christ in John 17 is a disproof of His divinity. The words, "over which Thou hast now been angry for seventy years," do not imply that the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity predicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11 and Jeremiah 29:10) were only just drawing to a close. They had already expired in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1). At the same time, the remark made by Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and others, must not be overlooked, - namely, that these seventy years were completed twice, inasmuch as there were also (not perhaps quite, but nearly) seventy years between the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, and the second year of Darius. Now, since the temple was still lying in ruins in the second year of Darius, notwithstanding the command to rebuild it that had been issued by Cyrus (Haggai 1:4), it might very well appear as though the troubles of the captivity would never come to an end. Under such circumstances, the longing for an end to be put to the mournful condition of Judah could not fail to become greater and greater; and the prayer, "Put an end, O Lord, put an end to all our distress," more importunate than ever.

Jehovah replied to the intercession of the angel of the Lord with good and comforting words. Debhârı̄m tōbhı̄m are words which promise good, i.e., salvation (cf. Joshua 23:14; Jeremiah 29:10). So far as they set before the people the prospect of the mitigation of their distress, they are nichummı̄m, consolations. The word nichummı̄m is a substantive, and in apposition to debhârı̄m. Instead of the form nichummı̄m, the keri has the form nichumı̄m, which is grammatically the more correct of the two, and which is written still more accurately nichūmı̄m in some of the codd. in Kennicott. The contents of these words, which are addressed to the interpreting angel either directly or through the medium of the angel of Jehovah, follow in the announcement which the latter orders the prophet to make in Zechariah 1:14-17. קרא (Zechariah 1:14) as in Isaiah 40:6. The word of the Lord contains two things: (1) the assurance of energetic love on the part of God towards Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:14, Zechariah 1:15); and (2) the promise that this love will show itself in the restoration and prosperity of Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:16, Zechariah 1:17). קנּא, to be jealous, applied to the jealousy of love as in Joel 2:18; Numbers 25:11, Numbers 25:13, etc., is strengthened by קנאה גדולה. Observe, too, the use of the perfect קנּאתי, as distinguished from the participle קצף. The perfect is not merely used in the sense of "I have become jealous," expressing the fact that Jehovah was inspired with burning jealousy, to take Jerusalem to Himself (Koehler), but includes the thought that God has already manifested this zeal, or begun to put it in action, namely by liberating His people from exile. Zion, namely the mountain of Zion, is mentioned along with Jerusalem as being the site on which the temple stood, so that Jerusalem only comes into consideration as the capital of the kingdom. Jehovah is also angry with the self-secure and peaceful nations. The participle qōtsēph designates the wrath as lasting. Sha'ănân, quiet and careless in their confidence in their own power and prosperity, which they regard as secured for ever. The following word, אשׁר, quod, introduces the reason why God is angry, viz., because, whereas He was only a little angry with Israel, they assisted for evil. מעט refers to the duration, not to the greatness of the anger (cf. Isaiah 54:8). עזרוּ לרעה, they helped, so that evil was the result (לרעה as in Jeremiah 44:11), i.e., they assisted not only as the instruments of God for the chastisement of Judah, but so that harm arose from it, inasmuch as they endeavoured to destroy Israel altogether (cf. Isaiah 47:6). It is no ground of objection to this definition of the meaning of the words, that לרעה in that case does not form an appropriate antithesis to מעט, which relates to time (Koehler); for the fact that the anger only lasted a short time, was in itself a proof that God did not intend to destroy His people. To understand עזרוּ לרעה as only referring to the prolonged oppression and captivity, does not sufficiently answer to the words. Therefore (lâkhēn, Zechariah 1:16), because Jehovah is jealous with love for His people, and very angry with the heathen, He has now turned with compassion towards Jerusalem. The perfect שׁבתּי is not purely prophetic, but describes the event as having already commenced, and as still continuing. This compassion will show itself in the fact that the house of God is to be built in Jerusalem, and the city itself restored, and all the obstacles to this are to be cleared out of the way. The measuring line is drawn over a city, to mark off the space it is to occupy, and the plan upon which it is to be arranged. The chethib קוה bihtehc , probably to be read קוה, is the obsolete form, which occurs again in 1 Kings 7:23 and Jeremiah 31:39, and was displaced by the contracted form קו (keri). But the compassion of God will not be restricted to this. The prophet is to proclaim still more ("cry yet," Zechariah 1:17, referring to the "cry" in Zechariah 1:14). The cities of Jehovah, i.e., of the land of the Lord, are still to overflow with good, or with prosperity. Pūts, to overflow, as in Proverbs 5:16; and תּפוּצנּה for תּפוּצינה (vid., Ewald, 196, c). The last two clauses round off the promise. When the Lord shall restore the temple and city, then will Zion and Jerusalem learn that He is comforting her, and has chosen her still. The last thought is repeated in Zechariah 2:1-13 :16 and Zechariah 3:2.

In this vision it is shown to the prophet, and through him to the people, that although the immediate condition of things presents no prospect of the fulfilment of the promised restoration and glorification of Israel, the Lord has nevertheless already appointed the instruments of His judgment, and sent them out to overthrow the nations of the world, that are still living at rest and in security, and to perfect His Zion. The fulfilment of this consolatory promise is neither to be transferred to the end of the present course of this world, as is supposed by Hofmann (Weiss. u. Erfll. i. 335), who refers to Zechariah 14:18-19 in support of this, nor to be restricted to what was done in the immediate future for the rebuilding of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem. The promise embraces the whole of the future of the kingdom of God; so that whilst the commencement of the fulfilment is to be seen in the fact that the building of the temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius, and Jerusalem itself was also restored by Nehemiah in the reign of Artaxerxes, these commencements of the fulfilment sim

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