Zechariah 1:21
Then said I, What come these to do? And he spoke, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
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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.

21. These are the horns—rather, Those, namely, the horns being distinguished from the "carpenters," or destroying workmen ("skilful to destroy," Ex 21:31), intended in the "these" of the question.

no man … lift up his head—so depressed were they with a heavy weight of evils (Job 10:15).

to fray—to strike terror into them (Eze 30:9).

lifted up … horn—in the haughtiness of conscious strength (Ps 75:4, 5) tyrannizing over Judah (Eze 34:21).

Then, so soon as I could propose the question, immediately upon sight of the carpenters,

said I, Zechariah,

What come these to do? he saw they were men, inquires not who they were, but what was their business and design; perhaps it is fittest for us to rest also in the knowledge of what they are to do, and inquire no further who they were.

And he spake; the Lord Christ informed the prophet.

These are the horns which have scattered Judah: Christ doth in order to satisfy the inquiry first point to the four horns, of which Zechariah 1:18,19, as if he should have said, Look you, there are four horns which have done mischief to Judah.

So that no man did lift up his head; kept them so under, none had either strength or courage to lift up the head, and thus these horns proudly and cruelly destroyed my people.

But these, these carpenters, or smiths, are emblems of those instruments God will employ in breaking these destroyers. Here are four carpenters to break the four horns.

To fray them; to strike a fear into them first; these kingdoms, signified by horns, shall lose their courage.

To cast out the horns; then their authority and power shall be cast out easily.

The Gentiles; heathen round about Judea.

Which lifted up their horn over, have employed their arms and strength against,

the land of Judah, the whole kingdom of Judah, God’s people,

to scatter it, to drive them out of God’s inheritance, See Zechariah 1:19. Then said I, What come these to do?.... That is, these four carpenters; for, being artificers or workmen, as the Targum renders the word, the prophet concluded there was some work for them to do:

And he spake, saying; meaning the angel that talked with him, and interpreted the visions to him:

These are the horns which have scattered Judah; not that the carpenters were the horns, for these two are distinct from, and opposite to, one another. The words should rather be rendered, "these horns which have scattered Judah", as before said, Zechariah 1:19,

so that no man did lift up his head; or, as the Targum paraphrases it, "did not suffer" (a man) "to go with an erect stature"; but, through oppression, sorrow, and misery, was obliged to stoop, and bow, and hang down his head:

but these are come to fray them; these carpenters are come to frighten the horns, to put terror into those kings and kingdoms;

to cast out the horns of the Gentiles; to destroy their kingdoms, and take away their power from them:

which lifted up their horns over the land of Judah to scatter it: who make use of their power, and do harm to the people of Israel, and triumph and insult over them; see Psalm 75:4 all which may be applied to the ministers of the Gospel, who are workmen; and whose business it is to fight or terrify the horns, wicked men, even men in power, the enemies of Christ's church and people; by their preaching, which has made a Felix to tremble; by their prayers, which they have been more afraid of than an army of men, as Mary queen of Scots said of the prayers of John Knox; and by their good lives and conversations, which made Herod stand in fear of John the Baptist; nay, even they have been a terror to the devil himself, and have been the means of casting him, and his principalities and powers, out of the Gentile world, and out of both the bodies and souls of men; and of casting down the strong holds of sin, and of breaking in pieces the kingdom and interest of Satan, and of building up the churches of Christ; the work of these spiritual carpenters is to cut down men, comparable to strong, sturdy, and lofty trees, for the pride and haughtiness of their hearts, the stiffness and stubbornness of their wills, and for their show of goodliness and beauty: this is done by the ministry of the word, the cutting doctrines of it, accompanied with the Spirit and power of God; as it is said, "I have hewed them by the prophets, I have slain them by, the words of my mouth", Hosea 6:5 whereas, when before, they grew up and stood on their own bottom, their morality, civility, and works of righteousness; now they are cut down, and die to all these things, as to any hope of salvation by them; and then, as the carpenter smooths and planes a timber he has hewed, and fitly frames it together, and joints it in, and lays it on a good foundation; so do Gospel ministers, as instruments in the hands of God, after hewing and cutting work through the ministration of the law, the killing letter, and which works wrath; speak comfortably to such souls, by directing them to the blood and righteousness of Christ for pardon of sin and justification of life; and ministerially lay them in the spiritual building, the church; or advise and exhort them to submit to the ordinances of Christ, and join themselves to Gospel churches; and, above all things, instruct them to build on Christ, the sure foundation in Zion; and ministerially lay him as the alone foundation to build upon for life and salvation, and not upon any works of righteousness done by them; and put them upon walking according to the line and rule of the divine word, in matters of worship, discipline, and conversation: and as there were in the first times of the Gospel many such builders, and have been more or less since; so there will be many more in the latter day, who will be very successfully employed in building, repairing, and beautifying the church of God; see Isaiah 58:12. Some by the four carpenters understand Zerubbabel, Joshua, Ezra, and Nehemiah; and so, by the four horns, those that opposed them in building the city and temple, as Rehum, Shimshai, Sanballat, and Tobiah; but these seem too inferior governors to be signified by horns; nor did they do what is here ascribed to them; rather their nations, Samaritans, Arabians, Ammonites, and Philistines, are meant.

Then said I, What come these to do? And he spake, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head: but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
21. he spake] i.e. the interpreting angel.

have scattered] Rather, scattered, R.V.

to fray them] Either the wild animals bearing the horns, or more probably the nations symbolised by them, are here spoken of as being “frayed,” or “panic-stricken.” In the following word, “to cast out,” the figure of the horns is perhaps resumed.

The Third Vision. The man with the measuring line. Zechariah 2:1-13. (Heb., 2:5–17.) The vision which describes the destruction of her enemies is followed by another, in which the consequent growth and prosperity of Jerusalem are depicted, and which in the largeness of its predictions extends into the more distant future. The prophet sees now upon the stage, or field of view, a young man with a measuring line in his hand, Zechariah 1:1. He asks him where he is going, and is answered, that he is going to measure Jerusalem, Zechariah 1:2. Upon this, the interpreting angel quits the prophet’s side and “goes forth” upon the stage in pursuit, as it would seem, of the man with the measuring line, to bid him desist from his purpose. As he does so, he is met by another angel, to whom he delegates the errand on which he himself had started, and whom he commissions in the hearing of the prophet (thus fulfilling his office as “interpreter” of the visions, and removing the false impression which the man’s answer, Zechariah 1:2, had created) to go and bid the “young man” cease from measuring, because Jerusalem, in its coming populousness and security, should neither admit of nor require walls, Zechariah 1:3-5. The exiles still remaining in Babylon are now summoned to leave her, Zechariah 1:6-7, for God’s judgments are about to fall upon her, Zechariah 1:8-9; whereas in Zion, to which they are invited to return, He will dwell, Zechariah 1:10-11, making it again His portion and His choice, Zechariah 1:12, extending its blessings to the Gentiles, Zechariah 1:11, confirming by the happy event the truth of this prediction, Zechariah 1:9; Zechariah 1:11, and manifesting Himself as the Judge of all the earth, Zechariah 1:13.Verse 21. - And he spake. The interpreting angel spake. Which have scattered Judah. The LXX. adds, "and broke Israel in pieces." Did lift up his head. These powers laid Judah prostrate. To fray them. To terrify the powers symbolized by the four horns, and disturb their self-complacent Security (ver. 15). The LXX., mistaking the sense, gives, Τοῦ ὀξῦναι αὐτὰ εἰς χεῖρας αὐτῶν τὰ τέσσαρα κέρατα, "To sharpen them, even the four horns, in their hands." To cast out; to cast down, to overthrow these proud powers. Over (against) the land. The nations had treated Judah as a wild bull treats things that oppose him, tossing and scattering them to the wind.

Habakkuk 2:1-3 form the introduction to the word of God, which the prophet receives in reply to his cry of lamentation addressed to the Lord in Habakkuk 1:12-17. Habakkuk 2:1. "I will stand upon my watchtower, and station myself upon the fortress, and will watch to see what He will say in me, and what I answer to my complaint. Habakkuk 2:2. Then Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon the tables, that he may run who reads it. Habakkuk 2:3. For the vision is yet fore the appointed end, and strives after the end, and does not lie: if it tarry, wait for it; for it will come, it does not fail." Habakkuk 2:1 contains the prophet's conversation with himself. After he has poured out his trouble at the judgment announced, in a lamentation to the Lord (Habakkuk 1:12-17), he encourages himself - after a pause, which we have to imagine after Habakkuk 1:17 - to wait for the answer from God. He resolves to place himself upon his observatory, and look out for the revelation which the Lord will give to his questions. Mishmereth, a place of waiting or observing; mâtsōr, a fortress, i.e., a watch-tower or spying-tower. Standing upon the watch, and stationing himself upon the fortification, are not to be understood as something external, as Hitzig supposes, implying that the prophet went up to a steep and lofty place, or to an actual tower, that he might be far away from the noise and bustle of men, and there turn his eyes towards heaven, and direct his collected mind towards God, to look out for a revelation. For nothing is known of any such custom as this, since the cases mentioned in Exodus 33:21 and 1 Kings 19:11, as extraordinary preparations for God to reveal Himself, are of a totally different kind from this; and the fact that Balaam the soothsayer went up to the top of a bare height, to look out for a revelation from God (Numbers 23:3), furnishes not proof that the true prophets of Jehovah did the same, but is rather a heathenish feature, which shows that it was because Balaam did not rejoice in the possession of a firm prophetic word, that he looked out for revelations from God in significant phenomena of nature (see at Numbers 23:3-4). The words of our verse are to be taken figuratively, or internally, like the appointment of the watchman in Isaiah 21:6. The figure is taken from the custom of ascending high places for the purpose of looking into the distance (2 Kings 9:17; 2 Samuel 18:24), and simply expresses the spiritual preparation of the prophet's soul for hearing the word of God within, i.e., the collecting of his mind by quietly entering into himself, and meditating upon the word and testimonies of God. Cyril and Calvin bring out the first idea. Thus the latter observes, that "the watch-tower is the recesses of the mind, where we withdraw ourselves from the world;" and then adds by way of explanation, "The prophet, under the name of the watch-tower, implies that he extricates himself as it were from the thoughts of the flesh, because there would be no end or measure, if he wished to judge according to his own perception;" whilst others find in it nothing more than firm continuance in reliance upon the word of God.

(Note: Theodoret very appropriately compares the words of Asaph in Psalm 73:16., "When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, until I entered into the sanctuaries of God, and gave heed to their end;" and observes, "And there, says the prophet, will I remain as appointed, and not leave my post, but, standing upon such a rock as that upon which God placed great Moses, watch with a prophet's eyes for the solution of the things that Iseek.")

Tsippâh, to spy or watch, to wait for the answer from God. "This watching was lively and assiduous diligence on the part of the prophet, in carefully observing everything that took place in the spirit of his mind, and presented itself either to be seen or heard" (Burk). ידבּר־בּי, to speak in me, not merely to or with me; since the speaking of God to the prophets was an internal speaking, and not one that was perceptible from without. What I shall answer to my complaint (‛al tōkhachtı̄), namely, first of all to myself and then to the rest. Tōkhachath, lit., correction, contradiction. Habakkuk refers to the complaint which he raised against God in Habakkuk 1:13-17, namely, that He let the wicked go on unpunished. He will wait for an answer from God to this complaint, to quiet his own heart, which is dissatisfied with the divine administration. Thus he draws a sharp distinction between his own speaking and the speaking of the Spirit of God within him. Jehovah gives the answer in what follows, first of all (Habakkuk 2:2, Habakkuk 2:3) commanding him to write the vision (châzōn, the revelation from God to be received by inward intuition) upon tables, so clearly, that men may be able to read it in running, i.e., quite easily.

בּאר as in Deuteronomy 27:8; see at Deuteronomy 1:5. The article attached to הלּחות does not point to the tables set up in the market-places for public notices to be written upon (Ewald), but simply means, make it clear on the tables on which thou shalt write it, referring to the noun implied in כּתב (write), though not expressed (Delitzsch). קורא בו may be explained from קרא בּספר in Jeremiah 36:13. The question is a disputed one, whether this command is to be understood literally or merely figuratively, "simply denoting the great importance of the prophecy, and the consequent necessity for it to be made accessible to the whole nation" (Hengstenberg, Dissertation, vol. i. p. 460). The passages quoted in support of the literal view, i.e., of the actual writing of the prophecy which follows upon tables, viz., Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 30:8, and Jeremiah 30:2, are not decisive. In Jeremiah 30:2 the prophet is commanded to write all the words of the Lord in a book (sēpher); and so again in Isaiah 30:8, if כּתבהּ על־לוּח is synonymous with על־ספר חקּהּ. But in Isaiah 8:1 there are only two significant words, which the prophet is to write upon a large table after having taken witnesses. It does not follow from either of these passages, that luchōth, tables, say wooden tables, had been already bound together into books among the Hebrews, so that we could be warranted in identifying the writing plainly upon tables with writing in a book. We therefore prefer the figurative view, just as in the case of the command issued to Daniel, to shut up his prophecy and seal it (Daniel 12:4), inasmuch as the literal interpretation of the command, especially of the last words, would require that the table should be set up or hung out in some public place, and this cannot for a moment be thought of. The words simply express the thought, that the prophecy is to be laid to heart by all the people on account of its great importance, and that not merely in the present, but in the future also. This no doubt involved the obligation on the part of the prophet to take care, by committing it to writing, that it did not fall into oblivion. The reason for the writing is given in Habakkuk 2:3. The prophecy is למּועד, for the appointed time; i.e., it relates to the period fixed by God for its realization, which was then still (עוד) far off. ל denotes direction towards a certain point either of place or time. The vision had a direction towards a point, which, when looked at from the present, was still in the future. This goal was the end (הקּץ towards which it hastened, i.e., the "last time" (מועד קץ, Daniel 8:19; and עת קץ, Daniel 8:17; Daniel 11:35), the Messianic times, in which the judgment would fall upon the power of the world. יפח לקּץ, it pants for the end, inhiat fini, i.e., it strives to reach the end, to which it refers. "True prophecy is inspired, as it were, by an impulse to fulfil itself" (Hitzig). יפח is not an adjective, as in Psalm 27:12, but the third pers. imperf. hiphil of pūăch; and the contracted form (יפח for יפיח), without a voluntative meaning, is the same as we frequently meet with in the loftier style of composition. ולא יכזּב, "and does not deceive," i.e., will assuredly take place. If it (the vision) tarry, i.e., be not fulfilled immediately, wait for it, for it will surely take place (the inf. abs. בּוא to add force, and בּוא applying to the fulfilment of the prophecy, as in 1 Samuel 9:6 and Jeremiah 28:9), will not fail; אחר, to remain behind, not to arrive (Judges 5:28; 2 Samuel 20:5).

(Note: The lxx have rendered כּי בא יבא, ὅτι ἐρχόμενος ἥξει, which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 10:37) has still further defined by adding the article, and, connecting it with μικρὸν ὅσον ὅσον of Isaiah 26:20 (lxx), has taken it as Messianic, and applied to the speedy coming of the Messiah to judgment; not, however, according to the exact meaning of the words, but according to the fundamental idea of the prophetic announcement. For the vision, the certain fulfilment of which is proclaimed by Habakkuk, predicts the judgment upon the power of the world, which the Messiah will bring to completion.)

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