Zechariah 1:8
I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there red horses, speckled, and white.
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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.I saw in the night - that is, that following on "the twenty-fourth day." The darkness of the night perhaps was chosen, as agreeing with the dimness of the restored condition. Night too is, Dionysius), "through the silence of the senses and of the fancy, more suited for receiving divine revelations."

A man riding upon a red horse - The man is an angel of God, appearing in form of man, as Daniel says, "The man Gabriel, whom I had seen in the vision at the beginning, touched me" Daniel 9:21. He is doubtless the same who appeared to Joshua in form of man, preparing thereby for the revelation of God manifest in the flesh - He, before whom Joshua fell on his face and in him worshiped God, through whom also God required the same tokens of reverence as He had from Moses. "Joshua lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold there stood a man over against him with a sword drawn in his hand, who said, as Captain of the Lord's host am I come" (Joshua 5:13-15. See the note on "the Angel of the Lord" in Dr. Pusey's Daniel the Prophet, pp. 519-525). He rides here, as Leader of the host who follow Him; to Him the others report, and He instructs the Angel who instructs the prophet. Red, being the color of blood, symbolizes doubtless "the vengeance of God to be inflicted on the enemies of the Jews for their sins committed against the Jews" (Dionysius), exceeding the measure of chastisement allowed by God. It probably was Michael Daniel 10:13, who is entitled in Daniel, "your prince Daniel 10:21, the great prince which standeth up for the children of thy people" .

And he was standing - Almost as we say, stationary, abiding in that one place. The description is repeated Zechariah 1:10 apparently as identifying this angel, and so he and the "angel of the Zechariah 1:11 Lord" are probably one.

The myrtle trees - from their fragrance and lowness, probably symbolize the Church, as at once yielding a sweet odor, and in a low estate, or lowly. The natural habits of the myrtle make it the fitter symbol.

And behind him - The relation of the Angel as their chief is represented by their following him. This is consistent with their appearing subsequently as giving report to him. The red and white horses are well-known symbols of war and glory, whence He who sits on "the white horse" Revelation 6:2 in the revelations, "went forth conquering and to conquer." The remaining color is somewhat uncertain. If it be ashen gray, it would correspond to the pale horse of the revelations, and the union of the two colors, black and white, is calculated to be a symbol of a chequered state of things, whereas a mingled color like "chestnut" is not suggestive of any symbol.

8. by night—The Jews begin their day with sunset; therefore the night which preceded the twenty-fourth day of the month is meant (Zec 1:7).

a man—Jehovah, the second person of the Trinity, manifested in man's form, an earnest of the incarnation; called the "angel of Jehovah" (Zec 1:11, 12), "Jehovah the angel of the covenant" (Mal 3:1; compare Ge 16:7 with Zec 1:13; Ge 22:11 with Zec 1:12; Ex 3:2 with Zec 1:4). Being at once divine and human, He must be God and man in one person.

riding—implying swiftness in executing God's will in His providence; hastening to help His people.

red horse—the color that represents bloodshed: implying vengeance to be inflicted on the foes of Israel (compare 2Ki 3:22; Isa 63:1, 2; Re 6:4); also fiery zeal.

among the myrtle trees—symbol of the Jewish Church: not a stately cedar, but a lowly, though fragrant, myrtle. It was its depressed state that caused the Jews to despond; this vision is designed to cheer them with better hopes. The uncreated angel of Jehovah's presence standing (as His abiding place, Ps 132:14) among them, is a guarantee for her safety, lowly though she now be.

in the bottom—in a low place or bottom of a river; alluding to Babylon near the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, the scene of Judah's captivity. The myrtle delights in low places and the banks of waters [Pembellus]. Maurer translates, from a different root, "in a shady place."

red horses—that is, horsemen mounted on red horses; Zec 1:10, 11, confirm this view.

speckled … white—The "white" implies triumph and victory for Judah; "speckled" (from a root "to intertwine"), a combination of the two colors white and red (bay [Moore]), implies a state of things mixed, partly prosperous, partly otherwise [Henderson]; or, the connection of the wrath (answering to the "red") about to fall on the Jews' foes, and triumph (answering to the "white") to the Jews themselves in God's arrangements for His people [Moore]. Some angels ("the red horses") exercised offices of vengeance; others ("the white"), those of joy; others ("the speckled"), those of a mixed character (compare Zec 6:2, 3). God has ministers of every kind for promoting the interests of His Church.

I saw: in a vision God communicates his word, mind, or will to the prophet.

By night; either literally, it was by night that Zechariah had this vision, or with this it may note the obscurity and mysteriousness of the vision, for it may be emblematical, as the myrtles and the bottom are.

Behold; mark well what I saw, as now I relate it to you.

A man; one in human shape, Christ Jesus in shape of a man so he appeared to Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:26 40:3\, and to Daniel, Daniel 7:13.

Riding; in a posture of readiness, speed, and resolution to help his people, and to appear for them in some tokens of greatness and majesty, Psalm 45:4.

Upon a red horse: both the beast is noted, a horse, bold, strong, speedy, and gallant; and the colour is noted also; in the same colour he appeared to Isaiah, see Isaiah 63:1-3 Revelation 6:4. This colour is a symbol of his coming to avenge his own just quarrel, and the unjust dealings of his and his people’s enemies.

He stood among the myrtle trees; he posteth himself in a convenient place to observe and be ready, (as needful,) among humble, verdant, fragrant, pleasant, and much-valued trees, emblem of the flourishing, fruitful, and excellent saints and servants of God.

In the bottom: this bottom or low valley, in which the myrtles grew, (probably on some river’s bank,) is an emblem of the church in a low, mourning, afflicted state; then it is most verdant, and fragrant as these trees, or as spices bruised in a mortar.

Behind him; Christ was, as beseems a captain, in the head; the rest, as his soldiers or servants, are behind attending on him.

Red horses; horses of the same colour, not without their riders, though they are not expressed; but it is a synecdoche, horses and horsemen are both intended, and these are angels, Zechariah 1:10. Now the colour of these horses is,

1. Red, denoting probably the bloody condition of states and kingdoms by wars one against another, either when God punisheth his church, or when he avengeth himself and his church on his enemies and hers; which will appear on a survey of the times past, when Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, or Roman empires did successively by wars do God’s work, his strange work, &c.; Isaiah 10 Isa 14.

2. Speckled; a mixed colour, made up of white, red, and black, as some guess, an emblem of affairs of different complexion; not all prosperous, nor all unprosperous; not all dark, nor all light, as the day the prophet describes neither day nor night; such times did the Jews know, during the seventy prophetic weeks, from the beginning of them to the Messiah’s coming.

3. White; an emblem of the best days and state the church should be in, so Revelation 19:11,14, and the empire too with it.

I saw by night,.... Or, "that night" (m); the night of the twenty fourth of Sebat; a proper and usual time for visions; and it may denote the obscurity of the vision, as it was in some respects to the prophet; and the state of the church at this time, it being a night season with it, and in a low estate; and the care that the Lord, who is Israel's Keeper, has of them in such seasons, being in the midst of them:

and behold! this is prefixed to the vision, to denote the wonderfulness of it, and to excite attention to it; there being something in it not only amazing, but of moment and importance:

a man riding upon a red horse; not any mere "man", as Alexander on his Bucephalus, as Abarbinel interprets it; and so Arias Montanus, as Sanctius on the place observes; though the time this vision refers to, and the state of the Jews then, will not admit of such an interpretation; for at this time all the earth was still and at rest, there were no wars in it, Zechariah 1:11 which agrees not with the times of Alexander, and of his reign, which was wholly spent in war; and the whole world in a manner was involved in it by him; but best agrees with the times of Cyrus and Darius, after they had subdued the Babylonian monarchy: besides, the Jews were now in a very low estate, like a grove of myrtle trees in a bottom, plain, or valley; and not only surrounded and overtopped by other states and kingdoms, which were greatly superior to them; but oppressed by their enemies, who hindered them in the rebuilding of their city and temple; whereas this was not their case in the times of Alexander, when they were in better circumstances, and which were two hundred years after this; nor was he so very beneficial and serviceable to the Jews, as to be represented, in such a vision, as in the midst of them, for their relief and protection; but an angel of the Lord is here meant, as this man is expressly called, Zechariah 1:11 and not a created angel; for he is distinguished from the angel that talked with the prophet, Zechariah 1:9. The Jews, as Jerom relates, think that the Angel Michael is meant, by whom they understand a created angel; for otherwise, if they took him to be, as he is, the Son of God, the Archangel, the Head of principalities, who is, as his name signifies, like unto God, and equal to him, it would not be amiss: and it is usual for a divine Person to be called the Angel of the Lord, as was he that called to Abraham when sacrificing his son, and to Moses out of the bush; and who went before the Israelites in the wilderness, and who is called the Angel of God's presence, and the messenger and Angel of the covenant; and the ancient Jews themselves own that a divine Person is here meant; for, on quoting these words, "I saw a man", &c. they say (n), there is no man but the holy blessed God; as it is said, "the Lord is a man of war, the Lord is his name"; and though he is distinguished from the Lord of hosts, Zechariah 1:12, the reason of this (or otherwise it is the title of this angel also, see Hosea 12:4,) is because he here appears in the form of a man; and because of his office as an intercessor and advocate for his people, Zechariah 1:12 a character which well agrees with Christ, who is the advocate with the Father for his saints, and whoever lives to make intercession for them, and is always heard and answered with good and comfortable words: and he is called a "man"; not that he is a mere man, or was really man when this vision was seen; but he then appeared in a human form, because he should become man, and quickly would be, as it was purposed, prophesied, and agreed he should be: and he is represented as "riding", to denote his majesty and glory as a king, or as a general of an army, in which he rode prosperously; see Psalm 45:4 as also his readiness, swiftness, and haste he made to help and save his people; as the people of the Jews, in this their present time of distress, being opposed and hindered in building their city, in particular; so, in general, all his people, in whatsoever case or circumstances they may be: thus riding, when ascribed to a divine Person, is an emblem of haste and quick dispatch, to assist and relieve the distressed; see Deuteronomy 33:26 so Christ, who here appears as a man, was ready and forward, in the council and covenant of grace, to agree to become man, and be the surety of his people, and die in their place and stead, in order to save them: his frequent appearances in a human form, before his incarnation, show how willing and ready he was really to assume the human nature; and as soon as the time appointed for it was up, he tarried not; when the fulness of time was come, God sent him, and he came at once, and immediately; and as soon as possible he went about the business he came upon, took delight and pleasure in it, was constant at it till he had finished it; and even his sufferings and death, which were disagreeable to nature, considered in themselves, were wished and longed for, and cheerfully submitted to by him: and he is quick in all his motions to help his people in all their times of need; nor can any difficulties prevent him giving an early and speedy relief; he comes to them leaping on the mountains, and skipping on the hills; and at the last day he will come quickly to put them into the possession of salvation he has wrought out for them; and will be a swift witness for them, and against wicked men that hate them, and oppose them: and he is upon a "red horse", signifying either his incarnation, and his bloody sufferings and death; and his taking peace from the earth when on it, not intentionally, but eventually, through the wickedness of men; see Revelation 6:4 or his indignation against his enemies, and his wrath and vengeance upon them, and the destruction of them; and may have a particular reference to those who opposed the building of the temple; see Isaiah 63:1,

and he stood among the myrtle trees which were in the bottom: by the "myrtle trees" may be meant the Israelites, as Kimchi interprets it; and that either as in Babylon, which he supposes is designed by "the bottom"; agreeably to the Targum, which paraphrases the words, "and he stood among the myrtle trees which are in Babylon"; or rather, as now returned to their own land; and so may denote the low estate and condition in which they were when they began to rebuild the temple, being feeble, and opposed by their enemies, mightier than they; but yet, inasmuch as the Lord was in the midst of them, they had encouragement to go on in the work, as is suggested in Haggai 2:3, though the saints and people of God in general may be here meant by the "myrtle trees"; and the ancient Jews (o) interpret them of the righteous, saying, there are no myrtle trees but the righteous; and give this as a reason why Esther was called Hadassah, Esther 2:7 which signifies a myrtle tree, because this is the name of the righteous (p); and these may fitly be compared to such trees for their goodliness and beauty to look at, for their sweet and fragrant smell, for their verdure and greenness, and for their flourishing in valleys and watery places (q), signified here by "the bottom"; all which is true of the saints, who are pleasant plants, comely through Christ's comeliness; whose graces, when in exercise, send forth a sweet smell; whose prayers are odours, and whose good works are acceptable, being done in faith; whose leaves never wither, and who flourish much, being planted by the river of divine love; and in whom the grace of God ever remains, and they persevere in grace to the end: these may be said to be "in the bottom"; or in a low estate; not only before conversion, but after; when corruptions prevail, temptations are strong, grace is weak; God hides his face, Christ is absent, and the Spirit withdraws his influences; and so it is true of the church in general, when under persecution, or pestered with false teachers, and when the life and power of religion are almost gone; and yet even then Christ stands in the midst of them, to sympathize with them, and as ready to help and assist them, to deliver them out of their troubles, to protect them from their enemies, and to restore them to their former state and condition. A grove of myrtle trees in a plain, in which they delight, being dark and shady, is thought by some to be an emblem of this world, in which there is a mixture of good and bad men; and of the care of Providence over human affairs, consulting the good of man, especially the raising up of the church of God out of a low estate by Christ, and his apostles, and other ministers of the word, performing their offices, according to the different abilities and gifts God has bestowed upon them (r):

and behind him were there red horses, speckled and white; that is, with riders on them. Some (s) Jewish writers interpret this vision of the four kingdoms; and understand by the red horse with the man upon it, in the former clause, the Babylonian monarchy, of which Nebuchadnezzar was the head; and, by these three sorts here, the Medes, Greeks, and Romans, by inverting the order of them; they interpreting the white horses with the riders on them of the Medes and Persians; who were kind to the Jews, and under whom they were dismissed from their captivity, and their temple rebuilt: the speckled, or those of different colours, the Macedonians or Grecians; some of which were friends, and kind and benevolent to the Jews; and others cruel persecutors of them; and the red, the Romans, who were bloody, and slew multitudes of them, and destroyed their city and temple: but others, as Jerom observes, who relates the above sense, keep the order of the text, and explain the particulars of it thus; the red horse on which the man rode, and the red horses behind him, of the Assyrians and Chaldeans, who were sanguine; the one carried away the ten tribes under Shalmaneser; and the other the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin, burning the city of Jerusalem, and laying waste the temple; the speckled, or those of various colours, the Medes and Persians; some of whom were mild and gentle, as Cyrus, and Darius the son of Hystaspes, and Ahasuerus, whom the Greeks call Artaxerxes, under whom was the history of Esther; and others were cruel, as Cambyses, &c.: those who think that Alexander the great is meant on the red horse suppose that those that succeeded him are meant by the other horses of various colours; namely, the Lagidae and the Seleucidae, or the kings of Egypt and Syria, who were sometimes very fierce and furious, and sometimes very friendly to the Jews; at least different kings, and at different times: but it seems better to interpret them of saints, the godly and faithful followers of Christ; not only the godly among the Jews, who were made as his goodly horse in the battle, Zechariah 10:3 but the church and people of God in general, who are compared to a company of horses in Pharaoh's chariot, Sol 1:9, for their strength, courage, serviceableness, and the value Christ has them: thus, as he is elsewhere represented as riding on a white horse, under the Gospel dispensation, as the general of an army, and mighty conqueror; so the armies of heaven that follow him on white horses, and clothed in white, are the called, and faithful, and chosen, Revelation 17:14 and some of these being described by red horses, with riders on them, may signify, such who have been called to shed their blood, and lay down their lives, for Christ and his Gospel, and their profession of it, even the martyrs of Jesus; and others by speckled horses, or of various colours, may intend such professors of religion, who, though not called to die for Christ, yet suffer persecution in various ways, both by reproach and affliction; and whose lives may be a chequered work of comforts and troubles, of prosperity and adversity: and others by white horses may point at such who are not only clothed with fine linen, clean and white, the righteousness of the saints; and who are more than conquerors through Christ, who has loved them, which are characters common to all saints; but who enjoy a great deal of liberty, peace, and prosperity, all their days. Some (t) restrain this to the apostles of Christ, and succeeding ministers of the word; and observe, that as horses carry men and other things into the various parts of the world, so the ministers of the Gospel bear the name of Christ, and carry his Gospel into the whole world; and as horses do not go into any part of it of themselves, but as they are directed by their masters, so the Gospel ministers are sent under the direction of Christ, some here, and some there; and as horses going through towns and villages are mostly annoyed by the barking of dogs, which yet they regard not, so as to stop their speed; thus likewise faithful preachers are followed with the calumnies of wicked men, with their scoffs and jeers, reproaches and persecutions; but none of these things move them, or cause them to desist from their work; and as Christ the Son of God stood among these horses, so he is, and has promised to be, with his ministering servants unto the end of the world; and as they are like horses, docile and laborious, so the various colours of these may have respect to them; some of whom are called to resist even unto blood; and others to various trials; as well as they have different gifts, and are of different usefulness, and all of them at last victorious over their enemies; and are under Christ their Head, and are ready to do his will in whatsoever he directs them; though the more commonly received opinion is, that angels are designed, and as it seems from Zechariah 1:10 compared with Zechariah 6:1 see also 2 Kings 2:11 signified by horses, for their strength, courage, swiftness, serviceableness, and disposition for war; and these different colours may represent the different state and condition of the nations with whom they were concerned, and to whom they were sent, as cruel or kind, to the people of God; and their different employments and services, both to help the saints, and render vengeance to their enemies; and the various offices they perform, with respect to Christ and his people, in things temporal and spiritual; and the place and situation of these horses being "behind" Christ may denote his superiority over them: he is superior to all monarchs and monarchies, kingdoms and states; he is King of kings, and Lord of lords; the kingdoms of this world are his, and he is the Governor among the nations; they are all behind and under him, and disposed of by him at his pleasure; and he can restrain them, when he thinks fit, from doing any harm to his people: he is superior to all men, even the best and greatest; he is the Head of the church, and King of saints; and it is their business, and even their honour and privilege, to follow him whithersoever he goes: and he is superior to angels, has a more excellent name and nature than they, is the Creator and Maker of them, and is worshipped by them; and even, as Mediator, is in a greater office, and in a higher place, at the right hand of God, than they are; they are at his beck and command, and at hand to be sent forth on all occasions to do his business, to minister for him, and to his people; they are his servants, and devoted to his service, and are ready to do his pleasure.

(m) "hac nocte", Drusius. (n) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1. Pesikta Rabbati apud Yalkut Simeoni, par. 2. fol. 85. 4. (o) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 93. 1.((p) T. Bab. Megilla, fol. 13. 1.((q) "----Et amantes littora myrtos." Virgil. Georgic. l. 4. (r) Vid. Levin. Lemnii Herb. Bibl. Explicat. c. 39. p. 108. (s) In Abendana, Not. in Miclol Yophi in loc. (t) Vid. Frantzii Hist. Animal. Sacr. par. 1. c. 12. p. 130, 131.

I {i} saw by night, and behold {k} a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom; and behind him were there {l} red horses, speckled, and white.

(i) This vision signifies the restoration of the Church: but as yet it would not appear to man's eyes, which is here meant by the night, by the bottom, and by the myrtle trees, which are black, and give a dark shadow. Yet he compares God to a King who has his posts and messengers abroad, by whom he still works his purpose and brings his matters to pass.

(k) Who was the chief among the rest of the horsemen.

(l) These signify the various offices of God's angels, by whom God sometimes punishes, and sometimes comforts, and brings forth his works in various ways.

8. by night] or, in the night, R. V. As the Jewish day began at sunset, this would be the night preceding the twenty-fourth day of the month. If so, Zechariah may have recited these visions to the people for their encouragement, on the very day on which, five months before, they had re-commenced their work on the Temple. Haggai 1:14-15.

a man riding upon a red horse] There is some difficulty in deciding how many persons take part in this vision. If, however, we suppose them to have been

Verse 8. - I saw by night; in the night; i.e. the night of the twenty-fourth day (ver. 7). The visions were seen in this one night at short intervals. There is nothing to make one suppose that they came in dreams (Isaiah 29:7). The prophet is awake, but whether he sees these scenes with his bodily eyes, or was rapt in ecstasy, cannot be decided. A man riding upon a red horse. This is the Angel of Jehovah, mentioned again in ver. 10 and in ver. 11, in both of which places the description, "that stood among the myrtle trees," serves to identify him. He is different from the interpreting angel, and is the leader of the company of horsemen that follow him. Keil and Wright consider that the rider on the red horse cannot be identified with the Angel of Jehovah, because otherwise he would have been represented as standing opposite to the other horsemen to receive the information which they brought him, and they would not have been spoken of as "behind" hint. But the expression in ver. 8 may mean merely that the prophet sets his eyes first on the leader and then on the attendants. Or in ver. 10 he is the spokesman who begins the account of the riders' doings, which these themselves complete in ver. 11. Thus there are in the scene only

(1) the prophet;

(2) the angel rider and his attendants; and

(3) the interpreting angel.

The red colour of the horse is supposed to represent war and bloodshed, as in Revelation 6:4; but this seems unsuitable in this piece, where nothing of the kind is intimated, but rather the contrary (ver. 11). It is, indeed, impossible to affix any satisfactory explanation to the colour. If, as we may well suppose, this personage is the Angel of the covenant, who was the leader and guide of the Israelites (comp. Joshua 5:13), his standing in the valley among the myrtles may represent the depressed and humbled condition of the chosen people, which yet was well pleasing unto God, like the sweet scent of odoriferous myrtles is agreeable to men. The myrtle trees. The myrtle is indigenous in the hilly regions of Northern Palestine, and is still seen in the glens near Jerusalem, though no longer on the Mount of Olives, where the returned captives found it when celebrating their first Feast of Tabernacles (Nehemiah 8:15). In the bottom; the valley. Myrtles love such places. "Amantes littora myrtos" (Virgil, 'Georg.,' 4:124). The term would suit the valley of the Kidron. Others render, "the shady place," or "the tabernacle," but not so appropriately. LXX., ἀναμέσον τῶν [Alex., 860] ὀρέων τῶν κατασκίων, "between the shady mountains." The Greek translators seem to have borrowed their reading from ch. 6, where the chariots issue from between two mountains of brass. Behind him were them red horses; i.e. horses mounted by riders (ver. 11). Speckled. It is not clear what colour is meant by this word. The Revised Version gives sorrel; Wright, "bay or chestnut;" LXX., ψαροί καὶ ποιλίλοι: "dapple-grey and spotted;" Vulgate, varii. The Septuagint Version is probably a double rendering. The word occurs elsewhere only in Isaiah 16:8, where it is applied to the tendrils of the vitae. What is intended by the different colours of the horses is a matter of great dispute, and cannot be known. There is some reason for considering that they represent the world powers at this particular period - the Babylonian, the Medo-Persian, the Greek; three of those concerning which Daniel prophesied; the fourth, the Roman, not having yet come in view. The notion of tutelary angels, presiding over countries, was familiar to the Hebrew mind (see Daniel 10:12, 13, 20, 21). These horsemen are evidently not post couriers, but warriors on military service. Zechariah 1:8Zechariah 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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