Zechariah 10:1
Ask ye of the LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.
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Zechariah 10:1. Ask ye of the Lord rain, &c. — Make supplication to Jehovah, and not to idols. The promise of future plenty made in the preceding verse, with which this appears to be closely connected, suggested the mentioning the means by which it might be procured. As if he had said, The fulfilling of the promise of fruitful seasons depends on the people’s asking them of God, who will hear their petitions if offered to him with sincerity and fervour, and will give them both the former and the latter rain in its season. Of which rains see notes on Deuteronomy 11:14; Hosea 6:3. So the Lord shall make bright clouds — Or lightnings, as the margin reads, and as the word is rendered Job 28:25. Great rains usually accompany thunder and lightning. And give them — Namely, the Jews; showers of rain — Or rather, abundance of rain, as the Hebrew means; to every one grass in the field — Or, to every man the herb, or fruits of the field, as the original word signifies. The sense is, that God, upon their asking it of him, would give plenty of all kinds of herbs and fruits that were useful to men, or to the animals which men make use of.

10:1-5 Spiritual blessings had been promised under figurative allusions to earthly plenty. Seasonable rain is a great mercy, which we may ask of God when there is most need of it, and we may look for it to come. We must in our prayers ask for mercies in their proper time. The Lord would make bright clouds, and give showers of rain. This may be an exhortation to seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, in faith and by prayer, through which the blessings held forth in the promises are obtained and enjoyed. The prophet shows the folly of making addresses to idols, as their fathers had done. The Lord visited the remnant of his flock in mercy, and was about to renew their courage and strength for conflict and victory. Every creature is to us what God makes it to be. Every one raised to support the nation, as a corner-stone does the building, or to unite those that differ, as nails join the different timbers, must come from the Lord; and those employed to overcome their enemies, must have strength and success from him. This may be applied to Christ; to him we must look to raise up persons to unite, support, and defend his people. He never will say, Seek ye me in vain.Ask ye of the Lord rain - "Ask and ye shall receive" our Lord says. Zechariah had promised in God's name blessings temporal and spiritual: all was ready on God's part; only, he adds, ask them of the Lord, the Unchangeable, the Self-same not of Teraphim or of diviner, as Israel had done aforetime Isaiah 2:5-22; Jeremiah 44:15-28. He had promised, "If ye shall hearken diligently unto My coramandments, to love the Lord your God, I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, and I will send grass in thy field for thy cattle" Deuteronomy 11:13-15. God bids them ask Him to fulfill His promise. The "latter rain" alone is mentioned, as completing what God had begun by the former rain, filling the ears before the harvest. Both had been used as symbols of God's spiritual gifts, and so the words fit in with the close of the last chapter, both as to things temporal and eternal. Osorius: "He exhorts all frequently to ask for the dew of the divine grace, that what had sprung up in the heart from the seed of the word of God, might attain to full ripeness."

The Lord maketh bright clouds - (Rather) "lightnings, into rain," as Jeremiah says, "He causeth the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; He maketh lightnings into rain" Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 51:16; and the Psalmist, "He maketh lightnings into rain" Psalm 135:7, disappearing as it were into the rain which follows on them. "And giveth them." While man is asking, God is answering. "Showers of rain" , "rain in torrents," as we should say, or "in floods," or, inverted, "floods of rain." "To every one grass," rather, "the green herb, in the field," as the Psalmist says, "He causeth the grass to grow for the cattle, and green herb for the service of men" (Psalm 104:14, see also Genesis 1:30; Genesis 3:18). This He did with individual care, as each had need, or as should be best for each, as contrariwise He says in Amos, "I caused it to rain upon one city, and caused it not to rain upon another city; one piece was rained upon, and the piece, whereon it rained not, withered" (Amos 4:7; see note).

The Rabbis observed these exceptions to God's general law, whereby He "sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" Matthew 5:49, though expressing it in their way hyperbolically; , "In the time when Israel doeth the will of God, He doeth their will; so that if one man alone, and not the others, wants rain, He will give rain to that one man; and if a man wants one herb alone in his field or garden, and not another, He will give rain to that one herb; as one of the saints used to say, This plot of ground wants rain, and that plot of ground wants not rain" (Cyril). Spiritually the rain is divine doctrine bedewing the mind and making it fruitful, as the rain doth the earth. So Moses saith, "My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distill as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb and as the showers upon the grass" Deuteronomy 32:2. Cyril: "The law of Moses and the prophets were the former rain."


Zec 10:1-12. Prayer and Promise.

Call to prayer to Jehovah, as contrasted with the idol-worship which had brought judgments on the princes and people. Blessings promised in answer to prayer: (1) rulers of themselves; (2) conquest of their enemies; (3) restoration and establishment of both Israel and Judah in their own land in lasting peace and piety.

1. Ask … rain—on which the abundance of "corn" promised by the Lord (Zec 9:17) depends. Jehovah alone can give it, and will give it on being asked (Jer 10:13; 14:22).

rain in … time of … latter rain—that is, the latter rain in its due time, namely, in spring, about February or March (Job 29:23; Joe 2:23). The latter rain ripened the grain, as the former rain in October tended to fructify the seed. Including all temporal blessings; these again being types of spiritual ones. Though God has begun to bless us, we are not to relax our prayers. The former rain of conversion may have been given, but we must also ask for the latter rain of ripened sanctification. Though at Pentecost there was a former rain on the Jewish Church, a latter rain is still to be looked for, when the full harvest of the nation's conversion shall be gathered in to God. The spirit of prayer in the Church is an index at once of her piety, and of the spiritual blessings she may expect from God. When the Church is full of prayer, God pours out a full blessing.

bright clouds—rather, "lightnings," the precursors of rain [Maurer].

showers of rain—literally, "rain of heavy rain." In Job 37:6 the same words occur in inverted order [Henderson].

grass—a general term, including both corn for men and grass for cattle.God is to be sought unto, and not idols, Zechariah 10:1,2. As he visited his flock for sin, so will he save and restore them, Zechariah 10:3-12.

Ask: it was a time of great scarcity with the Jews while the temple and city lay waste, and the prophets from God assure them it is for neglecting to rebuild the temple, to which work the Lord does earnestly call by Haggai and Zechariah, with promises of great blessings, which forthwith God would give to them, if they set to this work, and seek the Lord by prayer, to which duty he doth direct them in this chapter: to the building of city and temple they must add prayer, for the blessing is prepared, and shall be given when asked.

Ye Jews, returned from Babylon, settled in your city, and returned to the worship of God, and to whom many excellent promises are made; you must pray.

Rain in the time of the latter rain; which usually came about spring to fill the eared corn, and to bring forth the grass, to make the trees and plants with their fruit to be full and large: this latter rain made plenty of all provision, and is proverbially used to signify a great blessing, Hosea 6:3.

The Lord shall make; by making the vapours ascend from the earth, he will cover the heavens with clouds: see how Job, Job 38:28, doth elegantly describe this work of God. Bright clouds; clouds which bring rain, and pour it out abundantly, when they are opened with thunders and lightnings, which do as it were broach the clouds; they unstop these bottles: and they are bright clouds through the lightnings which break from them, Job 28:26 38:25,26.

And give them, the Jews, his people, showers of rain; plentiful showers of rain, that shall fatten the earth, and make it fruitful.

To every one grass in the field; none shall miss it, nor the effect of it on corn or grass; corn for man, and grass for the beast.

Ask ye of the Lord rain in the time of the latter rain,.... There was the former and the latter rain, of which see Hosea 6:3. The former rain was in autumn, a little before or about seed time; the latter was in the spring, and a little before harvest, which is here referred to. So Hesiod (g) calls those rains the autumnal and vernal rains; and between these two rains there was seldom any more. Jerom says (h) that he never saw in the eastern countries, especially in Judea, any rain at the end of the month of June, or in July; and now, at Aleppo, a little more northerly, for three or four months after May, they have scarce so much as any dew upon the ground, as Pemble on the place observes. So Dr. Shaw says (i), little or no rain falls in this climate (of Algiers and Tunis), during the summer season; and in most parts of the Sahara, particularly in the Jereede, they have seldom any rain at all. It was likewise the same in the holy land, Proverbs 26:1 where rain is accounted an unusual thing in "harvest", 2 Samuel 21:10 where it is also mentioned, "from harvest till rain dropped on them"; i.e. their rainy season fell out, as in Barbary, in the autumnal and winter months.

"The first rains (he observes) fall here some years in September, in others a month later; after which the Arabs break up their ground, in order to sow wheat, and plant beans: this commonly falls out about the middle of October.''

If the latter rains fall as usual in the middle of April, (in the holy land we find they were a month sooner, Joel 2:23.) the crop is reckoned secure; the harvest coming on in the latter end of May, or in the beginning of June, according to the heat and quality of the preceding seasons: wherefore, since there was so little rain fell in these countries, and particularly in Judea; if these former and latter rains failed, a scarcity followed; for, for want of the former rain, the earth was hard, and not easily ploughed up; and for want of the latter the grain withered away in the blade, and did not ear, at least did not produce ears plump and good; so that these rains were great temporal blessings, and to be asked for, as they were by the Jews, when they were wanted; and for which they appointed fasts (k), and were emblems of spiritual blessings here designed; for rain here is not to be literally understood, but mystically and spiritually; and designs either the love and favour of God, and the comfortable discoveries of it; see Proverbs 16:15 which may be compared to rain in its original; it is from above, from on high, it comes from heaven; it is not owing to anything in man, but to the will of God; and is distinguishing, as rain falls on one city, and not on another; in its objects, undeserving persons, as rain is sent on the just and unjust; in its manner of communication, it tarries not for the will and works of men; it comes at times in great abundance, and the discoveries of it are to be asked for; in its effects, it softens and melts the heart into evangelical repentance; it cools and extinguishes the flaming wrath of a fiery law in the conscience; it refreshes and revives the drooping spirit, and makes the barren soul fruitful: or the blessings of grace in general may be meant; these are from above, depend on the will of God; are to be sought after, and asked for; are free grace gifts; are given largely and plentifully, and make fruitful: or the coming of Christ in the flesh in particular is intended; see Hosea 6:3 who came down from heaven; is a free gift of God to men, was sought after, and greatly desired, and to be desired, by the Old Testament saints, and very grateful to such when he came. This may also be applied to his spiritual coming in his power and kingdom in the latter day, which is to be earnestly wished and prayed for, Psalm 72:7 or else the Gospel may be designed; see Deuteronomy 32:2 this is of God, and from above; comes and falls upon the sons of men, according to divine direction; softens hard hearts, when it becomes effectual; comforts the souls of God's people; is a blessing to be desired, and asked for; and will be enjoyed in great plenty in the latter day:

so the Lord shall make bright clouds; by which may be meant the ministers of the Gospel, who are of God's making, and not man's: these may be compared to "clouds" for their number, especially as they will be in the latter day; and for their moving to and fro, to communicate spiritual knowledge: and to "bright" ones, such as from whence lightning springs, thunderclouds, full of water; (the same word is used for lightning, Job 38:25;) because full of Gospel truths, and because of that clear light they diffuse to others:

and give them showers of rain: productive, under a divine influence, of large conversions among Jews and Gentiles:

to everyone grass in the field: on whom these showers fall with efficacy, and a divine blessing; everyone of these have a spiritual knowledge of Christ, faith in him, repentance towards God, food and fulness of it; and are filled with the fruits of righteousness, or good works, to the glory of God; see Isaiah 55:10. The Targum is,

"that he may give to them (the children of men) corn to eat, and grass to the beasts in the field;''

taking the words literally.

(g) Opera & Dies, l. 2.((h) Comment. in Amos iv. 7. fol. 39. F. (i) Travels, p. 136, 137. Ed. 2.((k) Misn. Taanith, c. 1. sect. 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

Ask ye of the {a} LORD rain in the time of the latter rain; so the LORD shall make bright clouds, and give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.

(a) The Prophet reproves the Jews, because by their own infidelity they turn away God's promised graces, and so famine came by God's just judgment. Therefore to avoid this plague, he exhorts them to turn to God, and to pray in faith to him, and so he will give them abundance.

1. the latter rain] Would you have even now a measure at least of the promised abundance, seek it of Jehovah; look to Him for the rain that prepares (Psalm 65:9-10), as well as for the crowning gift itself (Ib. Zechariah 10:11) of “corn” and “wine.” The latter rain fell in March or April and served to swell the grain now coming to maturity. The former rain fell in the autumn. (Deuteronomy 11:14; Joel 2:23. Comp. Jeremiah 3:3.)

so the Lord shall make bright clouds] Rather, it is the Lord who makes lightnings (as in the margin, or, even of the Lord that maketh lightnings, R. V.), which usher in and accompany rain: therefore of Him must you ask it. Comp. “He hath made lightnings for the rain,” Psalm 135:7. “For the rain; i.e. so that the rain follows the lightning; see Jeremiah 10:13; Jeremiah 51:16. The lightning is supposed to precede the rain. A common Arabic proverb says of a man who turns out other than was expected of him, that he lightens but does not rain.” Dean Perowne.

grass] Rather, herb, including food for man, Genesis 1:29.

Verses 1, 2. - § 4. A connecting link between the last section and the next. The condition for obtaining the promised blessings is that they are to be sought from the Lord, not from idols. Verse 1. - Ask ye of the Lord rain. The promise of abundance at the end of the last chapter suggests to the prophet to make a special application to the practice of his countrymen. They must put their trust in God alone for the supply of temporal as well as spiritual bounties. The latter rain was due at the time of the vernal equinox, and was necessary in order to swell the maturing grain (comp. Deuteronomy 11:14). The early rain occurred at the autumnal equinox. It was considered as a special manifestation of God's providential care that these periodical rains were received (see Isaiah 30:23; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 2:23). So the Lord shall make bright clouds; rather, Jehovah maketh the lightnings. Thunderstorms accompany the periodical rains. Ye must ask of him, and ye shall have. Septuagint, Κύριος ἐποίησε φαντασίας," The Lord makes flashes" (of lightning?); Vulgate, Domiaus faciet nives, where the right reading is supposed to be nubes (comp. Psalm 135:7; Job 38:25, 26). Give them showers of rain. Abundant rain, as Job 37:6. The address is now in the third person. Grass. All vegetable food for man and beast, as in Genesis 1:11, 29; Psalm 104:14; Amos 7:2. Zechariah 10:1"Ask ye of Jehovah rain in the time of the latter rain; Jehovah createth lightnings, and showers of rain will He give them, to every one vegetation in the field. Zechariah 10:2. For the teraphim have spoken vanity, and the soothsayers have seen a lie, and speak dreams of deceit; they comfort in vain: for this they have wandered like a flock, they are oppressed because there is no shepherd." The summons to prayer is not a mere turn of the address expressing the readiness of God to give (Hengstenberg), but is seriously meant, as the reason assigned in Zechariah 10:2 clearly shows. The church of the Lord is to ask of God the blessings which it needs for its prosperity, and not to put its trust in idols, as rebellious Israel has done (Hosea 2:7). The prayer for rain, on which the successful cultivation of the fruits of the ground depends, simply serves to individualize the prayer for the bestowal of the blessings of God, in order to sustain both temporal and spiritual life; just as in Zechariah 9:17 the fruitfulness of the land and the flourishing of the nation are simply a concrete expression, for the whole complex of the salvation which the Lord will grant to His people (Kliefoth). This view, which answers to the rhetorical character of the exhortation, is very different from allegory. The time of the latter rain is mentioned, because this was indispensable to the ripening of the corn, whereas elsewhere the early and latter rain are connected together (e.g., Joel 2:23; Deuteronomy 11:13-15). The lightnings are introduced as the harbingers of rain (cf. Jeremiah 10:13; Psalm 135:7). Metar geshem, rain of the rain-pouring, i.e., copious rain (compare Job 37:6, where the words are transposed). With lâkem (to them) the address passes into the third person: to them, i.e., to every one who asks. עשׂב is not to be restricted to grass or herb as the food of cattle, as in Deuteronomy 11:15, where it is mentioned in connection with the corn and the fruits of the field; but it includes these, as in Genesis 1:29 and Psalm 104:14, where it is distinguished from châtsı̄r. The exhortation to pray to Jehovah for the blessing needed to ensure prosperity, is supported in Zechariah 10:2 by an allusion to the worthlessness of the trust in idols, and to the misery which idolatry with its consequences, viz., soothsaying and false prophecy, have brought upon the nation. The terâphı̄m were house-deities and oracular deities, which were worshipped as the givers and protectors of the blessings of earthly prosperity (see at Genesis 31:19). Along with these קוסמים are mentioned, i.e., the soothsayers, who plunged the nation into misery through their vain and deceitful prophesyings. חלמות is not the subject of the sentence, for in that case it would have the article like הקּוסמים; but it is the object, and הקּוסמים is also the subject to ידבּרוּ and ינחמוּן. "Therefore," i.e., because Israel had trusted in teraphim and soothsayers, it would have to wander into exile. נסע, to break up, applied to the pulling up of the pegs, to take down the tent, involves the idea of wandering, and in this connection, of wandering into exile. Hence the perfect נסעוּ, to which the imperfect יענוּ is suitably appended, because their being oppressed, i.e., the oppression which Israel suffered from the heathen, still continued. The words apply of course to all Israel (Ephraim and Judah); compare Zechariah 9:13 with Zechariah 10:4, Zechariah 10:6. Israel is bowed down because it has no shepherd, i.e., no king, who guards and provides for his people (cf. Numbers 27:17; Jeremiah 23:4), having lost the Davidic monarchy when the kingdom was overthrown.
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