Zechariah 1:19
And I said to the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
1:18-21 The enemies of the church threaten to cut off the name of Israel. They are horns, emblems of power, strength, and violence. The prophet saw them so formidable that he began to despair of the safety of every good man, and the success of every good work; but the Lord showed him four workmen empowered to cut off these horns. With an eye of sense we see the power of the enemies of the church; look which way we will, the world shows us that; but it is only with an eye of faith that we see it safe. The Lord shows us that. When God has work to do, he will raise up some to do it, and others to defend it, and to protect those employed in doing it. What cause there is to look up in love and praise to the holy and eternal Spirit, who has the same care over the present and eternal interests of believers, by the holy word bringing the church to know the wonderful things of salvation!These are the horns which have scattered - o "The four horns which scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, are four nations, Babylonians, Medes and Persians, Macedonians and Romans; as the Lord, on the prophet's enquiry, explains here, and Daniel unfolds most fully Daniel 2; who in the vision of the image with golden head, silver breast, belly and thighs of brass, feet of iron and clay, explained it of these four nations, and again in another vision of four beasts Daniel 7, lion, bear, leopard and another unnamed dreadful beast, he pointed out the same nations under another figure. But that the Medes and Persians, after the victory of Cyrus, were one kingdom, no one will doubt, who reads secular and sacred literature. When this vision was beheld, the kingdom of the Babylonians had now passed away, that of the Medes and Persians was instant; that of Greeks and Macedonians and of the Romans was yet to come.

What the Babylonians, what the Medes and Persians, what the Greeks that is, the Macedonians, did to Judah, Israel and Jerusalem, a learned man acknowledgeth, especially under Antiochus, surnamed Epiphanes, to which the history of the Maccabees belongs. After the Coming of our Lord and Saviour, when Jerusalem was encompassed, Josephus, a native writer, tells most fully, what the Israelites endured, and the Gospel fore-announced. These horns dispersed Judah almost individually, so that, bowed down by the heavy weight of evils, no one of them raised his head." Though these were successive in time, they are exhibited to Zechariah as one. One whole are the efforts against God's Church; one whole are the instruments of God, whether angelic or human, in doing or suffering, to repel them. Zechariah then exhibits these hostile powers as past and gone, as each would be at the end, having put forth his passing might, and perishing. They scattered, each in its day, and disappeared; for the next displaced it.

The long schism being ended, Judah and Israel are again one; and Jerusalem, the place of God's worship, belongs to Israel as well as to Judah.

The explanation of the number four, as symbolizing contemporaneous attacks from the four quarters of the heavens, fails in matter of fact, that, in these later times, the Jews suffered always from one power at a time. There was no such fourfold attack. In Zechariah's time all around was Persian.

Osorius: "Those horns, broken by the angels' ministry, portended that no guilt against the church of Christ should be unpunished. Never will there be wanting fierce enemies from east, west, north, or south, whom God will strengthen, in order by them to teach His own. But when He shall see His work finished, that is, when He shall have cleansed the stains of His own and brought back His Church to her former purity, He will punish those who so fiercely afflicted her."

Spiritually, (Jerome), "those who destroy vices, build up virtues, and all the saints who, possessing these remedies, ever build up the Church, may be called 'builders.' Whence the Apostle says, "I, as a wise builder, laid the foundation" 1 Corinthians 3:10; and the Lord, when wroth, said that He would "take away from Jerusalem artificer and wise man" Isaiah 3:3. And the Lord Himself, Son of the Almighty God and of the Creator of all, is called "the son of the carpenter" Matthew 13:55.

19. Judah, Israel—Though some of the ten tribes of Israel returned with Judah from Babylon, the full return of the former, as of the latter, is here foretold and must be yet future. The prophet prays for information from the Angel, from Christ, who is the best Teacher.

What be these? what may be the meaning of these horns, which I see, and know to be horns, and four in number?

These are the horns, powers, states, and kingdoms, which have from all sides pushed at, broken, and tossed my people, sorely bruised some and destroyed others: these horns are probably, on the north, the Syrians, Assyrians, and Babylonians; on the east, the Moabites and Ammonites; on the south, Edomites and Egyptians; on the west, the Philistines; all which had many a time spoiled the Jews.

Judah; the two tribes, which were the kingdom of Judah.

Israel; the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser; or the relics of Israel, which adhered to the house of David. And I said unto the angel that talked with me,.... Zechariah 1:9,

What be these? that is, who do these horns signify? and what or whom do they represent?

and he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem; which may design the distresses, vexations, and captivities of the people of Israel by their enemies, as by the Moabites, Ammonites, &c. in the times of the judges; and the captivity of the ten tribes of Israel by Shalmaneser; and of the two tribes of Benjamin and Judah, and of the destruction of Jerusalem, by Nebuchadnezzar; when they were ventilated or fanned, as the word (x) signifies, and so scattered abroad; see Jeremiah 6:11 and also their troubles in the times of the Medes and Persians, under Cambyses, until this second year of Darius; and may likewise have reference prophetically to their after troubles and captivity by the Romans; and to Rome Pagan, which persecuted and scattered the churches of Christ and people of God in the several parts of the world; and the antichristian states, the persecutors of the same.

(x) "quae ventilaverunt", V. L. Pagninus, Montanus, Vatablus, Drusius, Cocceius.

And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What be these? And he answered me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
19. Judah, Israel and Jerusalem] The two tribes, the ten tribes, and the capital of the whole nation. So inclusive a description must be held to refer to the whole Jewish people, so that the vision predicts the overthrow of the oppressors of Israel as well as of Judah.Verse 19. - Which have scattered, etc. Some see here an allusion to the prophecy of Daniel concerning the Babylonians, Medo-Persians, Macedonians, and Romans. Against this view it is urged that the prophet is speaking of past events, not of a far distant future. Others Lake the four horns to represent Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Medo-Persia, all of which had scattered Israel. But it is well to lay no special stress on such explanations of symbolical language, which are at best mere conjectures, liable to be overthrown by a new theory. The word "scattered," which Jerome renders ventilaverunt, means properly, as Wright observes, "to winnow," to separate and scatter by means of the wind. The perfect tense of this verb must not be pressed so as to exclude all notion of coming events. The prophets see at one glance past and future, and combine in one expression far distant occurrences. Doubtless Zechariah's vision has some relation to Daniel's, and his description of the powers hostile to the Church of God runs on parallel lines with that of his predecessor. Whether be refers to the same four empires must be left in uncertainty. Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. All the tribes and the capital. According to Ewald, Judah is named first as occupying the place of honour, even as Benjamin is named before Judah in Psalm 68:27, because the capital city lay in its territory. Jerusalem was the centre of worship and government for all the people, the northern tribes being represented by Israel. the southern by Judah. Some critics cancel the word "Israel" here, and there is no doubt that it is often written for "Jerusalem" by mistake (comp. Jeremiah 23:6 [where see Professor Cheyne's note]; 32:30, 32; 51:49; Zephaniah 3:14; Malachi 2:11). Gratz supposes that in the present passage the scribe discovered his mistake, and wrote the right word "Jerusalem" after the wrong one "Israel," but leaving the latter still in the manuscript. Of course, there is no proof of this supposition. Some manuscripts of the Septuagint omit "Jerusalem" here. 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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