Zechariah 10:2
For the idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.
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Zechariah 10:2. For the idols have spoken vanity — What I have said will certainly be verified when, with sincere and pious minds, you apply to God in prayer for his blessing on you and your land; but the case was quite otherwise when your fathers asked for any thing of idols; the priests, who answered in the names of the idols, could only give vain answers, which were not fulfilled by the events according to their promises. And the diviners have seen a lie — Those who pretended to divine, or predict future things, have uttered falsehoods. They comfort in vain — Rather, they comfort vainly, or with vain words. This they certainly did, because they promised prosperity to the people though they continued in their sins. Therefore they went their way as a flock — They were carried into captivity, and brought into great distress, as sheep are driven away and scattered, when there is no one to guide or take care of them. Because there was no shepherd — No ecclesiastical or civil governors, that would faithfully do their duty.

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.For the teraphim have spoken vanity - Rather, "spake vanity." He appeals to their former experience. Their father had sought of idols, not of God; therefore they went into captivity. The "teraphim" were used as instruments of divination. They are united with the "ephod," as forbidden, over against the allowed, means of enquiry as to the future, in Hosea, "without an ephod and without teraphim" Hosea 3:4; they were united in the mingled worship of Micah Jdg 17:5; Judges 18:14, Judges 18:17-18, Judges 18:20; Josiah "put" them "away" together with the "workers with familiar spirits and the wizards" 2 Kings 23:24, to which are added, "the idols." It was probably, a superstition of Eastern origin. Rachel brought them with her from her father's house, and Nebuchadnezzar used them for divination. Ezekiel 21:21. Samuel speaks of them, apparently, as things which Saul himself condemned. "Rebellion is as the sin of divination, and stubbornness as iniquity or idolatry, and teraphim" 1 Samuel 15:23. For it was probably in those his better days, that "Saul had put away those that had familiar spirits and wizards out of the land" 1 Samuel 28:3. Samuel then seems to tell him, that the sins to which he clave were as evil as those which he had, in an outward zeal, like Jehu, condemned. Anyhow, the "teraphim" stand united with the "divination" which was expressly condemned by the law Deuteronomy 18:13-14. The use of the teraphim by Rachel Genesis 31:19, Genesis 31:34-35 and Michal 1 Samuel 19:13, 1 Samuel 19:16 (for whatever purpose) implies that it was some less offensive form of false worship, though they were probably the "strange gods" Genesis 35:2, Genesis 35:4 which Jacob bade his household to put away, or, anyhow, among them, since Laban calls them, "my gods" Genesis 31:30, Genesis 31:32.

Zechariah uses anew the words of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, "Hearken ye not to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers" Jeremiah 27:9; and, "let not your prophets and your diviners, that be in the midst of you, deceive you, neither hearken to your dreams, which ye cause to be dreamed" Jeremiah 29:8; and Ezekiel, "While they see vanity unto thee, while they divine a lie unto thee" (Ezekiel 21:29; add Ezekiel 22:28). The words not only joined on the prophet's warning with the past, but reminded them of the sentence which followed on their neglect. The echo of the words of the former prophets came to them, floating, as it were, over the ruins of the former temple.

Therefore they went their way as a flock - Which, having no shepherd, or only such as would mislead them, removed, but into captivity. "They were troubled." The trouble lasted on, though the captivity ended at the appointed time. Nehemiah speaks of the exactions of former governors, "The former governors which were before me, laid heavy weights upon the people, and took from them in bread and wine, after forty shekels of silver; also their servants used dominion over the people; and I did not so, because of the fear of God" Nehemiah 5:15.

Because there was no shepherd - As Ezekiel said of those times, "They were scattered, because there is no shepherd; and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered: My flock was scattered upon all the face of the earth; and none did search or seek after them" Ezekiel 34:5-6.

2. idols—literally, "the teraphim," the household gods, consulted in divination (see on [1187]Ho 3:4). Derived by Gesenius from an Arabic root, "comfort," indicating them as the givers of comfort. Or an Ethiopian root, "relics." Herein Zechariah shows that the Jews by their own idolatry had stayed the grace of God heretofore, which otherwise would have given them all those blessings, temporal and spiritual, which they are now (Zec 10:1) urged to "ask" for.

diviners—who gave responses to consulters of the teraphim: opposed to Jehovah and His true prophets.

seen a lie—pretending to see what they saw not in giving responses.

comfort in vain—literally, "give vapor for comfort"; that is, give comforting promises to consulters which are sure to come to naught (Job 13:4; 16:2; 21:34).

therefore they went their way—that is, Israel and Judah were led away captive.

as a flock … no shepherd—As sheep wander and are a prey to every injury when without a shepherd, so the Jews had been while they were without Jehovah, the true shepherd; for the false prophets whom they trusted were no shepherds (Eze 34:5). So now they are scattered, while they know not Messiah their shepherd; typified in the state of the disciples, when they had forsaken Jesus and fled (Mt 26:56; compare Zec 13:7).

The idols; images which before the captivity they venerated, and at them consulted their idols about plenty er barrenness, and concerning future events, Judges 10:14 Isaiah 19:3.

Have spoken vanity; their predictions were vain, nothing of certainty in them.

The diviners, soothsayers, and consulters with familiar spirits, have seen a lie; foretold good, when all issued in evil, no good came.

And have told false dreams; they pretended a revelation from heaven, but it was a dream of their own head, or a cheat put on them by the father of lies.

They comfort in vain; their lies for the present comfort the deceived, but the vanity of these comforts soon appears in the disappointment which followeth.

Therefore they; either they that consulted, or those who sent them, indeed almost all the Jews were thus foolish in consulting and believing these liars, and so, confounded at last, fell into all the misery, they thought to escape.

Went their way; they went int captivity into Babylon.

They were troubled, miserably oppressed and afflicted, because there was no shepherd; without guide or protection; without ecclesiastical or civil governors, that would faithfully do their duty; and this was one reason that they were so afflicted and captivated.

For the idols have spoken vanity,.... The vanities of the Gentiles cannot give rain; if they promise it, they speak vain things; God only can give it, and therefore it must, be asked of him, Jeremiah 14:22. The word for idols is "teraphim", the same as in Genesis 31:19 and here signifies worshippers of idols, as the Targum interprets it; and may be understood of the idolatrous Papists who worship idols of gold, silver, brass, and wood, Revelation 9:20 and who speak lies in hypocrisy, great swelling words of vanity, and even blasphemy against God, his name, his tabernacle, and them that dwell in heaven, 1 Timothy 4:1. Jarchi on 2 Kings 23:24, says, the teraphim are images that speak by sorcerers or sorceries; and to such evils the followers of the man of sin are addicted, Revelation 9:21 and the Jews (l) have a notion that those images were so formed, that they were capable of speaking and talking with men; see Hosea 3:4 they seem to confound them with the "talisman":

and the diviners have seen a lie; delivered it out, and others believed it, being given up to judicial blindness, because they received not the love of the truth, 2 Thessalonians 2:10. The Targum is,

"the diviners prophesy falsehood;''

or preach false doctrine, as the Romish clergy do, who are meant by the diviners:

and have told false dreams; about transubstantiation, purgatory, &c. which are visionary things; false doctrines are compared to dreams, Jeremiah 23:25,

they comfort in vain; by works of supererogation, by selling pardons, and praying souls out of purgatory:

therefore they went their way as a flock; as a flock of sheep straying from the fold. The Targum is,

"they are scattered as sheep are scattered;''

that is, the Jews, being hardened against the Christian religion, by the idolatry, lies, and dreams of the Papists, wander about in their mistakes and errors concerning the Messiah; which is their case to this day, and will be until the man of sin is destroyed:

they were troubled, because there was no shepherd; or, "no king", as the Targum paraphrases it; that is, the King Messiah, according to them, is not yet come; which is their affliction and trouble, that they are as sheep without a shepherd: or, "they answered", that there "is no shepherd" (m); they replied to the diviners, the tellers of false dreams and idolaters, and affirmed that the Messiah is not come, and that the pope of Rome is not the shepherd and bishop of souls.

(l) Targum Jon. in Genesis 31.19. R. Eliezer Pirke, c. 36. fol. 40. 1.((m) "testificati sunt nullum fuisse pastorem", Junius & Tremellius, Heb.; "responderunt", Piscator; "respondebunt quod non sit pastor", Burkius.

For the {b} idols have spoken vanity, and the diviners have seen a lie, and have told false dreams; they comfort in vain: therefore {c} they went their way as a flock, they were troubled, because there was no shepherd.

(b) He calls to remembrance God's punishments in times past, because they trusted not in him, but in their idols and sorcerers who always deceived them.

(c) That is, the Jews went into captivity.

2. idols] Lit. teraphim. They were of human form, whether busts or full-length figures, and were apparently sometimes (1 Samuel 19:13), if not always (Genesis 31:19), of life size. Compare, for the use of them in divination, as here, Ezekiel 21:21.

they comfort in vain] when they promise rain and fruitful seasons. Comp. Jeremiah 14:22.

therefore they went their way] therefore (because they have had recourse to idols and diviners) they (the Israelites) wander and stray about to their hurt, like sheep without a shepherd.

Verse 2. - For. The prophet supports his exhortation to pray to Jehovah by showing the worthlessness of trust in idols. Idols; teraphim. What these were is not known for certain. They seem to have been images of human form and sometimes of life size, corresponding in some degree to the lares or penates of the Romans (Genesis 31:19; 1 Samuel 19:13). They were supposed to be capable of bestowing temporal blessings and giving oracles (Judges 17:5; Judges 18:5, 24; Ezekiel 21:21). Have spoken vanity. Gave worthless, misleading responses. The mention of teraphim in this passage is thought to indicate a date anterior to the Captivity; but the prophet is speaking of past events, of the results of these base superstitions in former, not present, time. Three kinds of superstition are mentioned. Septuagint, οἱ ἀποφθεγγόμενοι, "speaking" images. These are the first. Secondly come the soothsayers, the diviners, persons who pretended to predict the future (Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8; Ezekiel 21:21; Habukkuk 2:18). Have told false dreams; Vulgate, somniatores locuti sunt frustra; LXX., τὰ ἐνύπνια ψευδῆ ἐλάλουν, "spake false dreams." The Vulgate seems to be correct, "dreams, i.e. dreamers, spake deceit." This is the third class among the practisers of superstitious observances. They comfort in vain, when they promise temporal blessings (Job 21:34). Therefore they went their way as a flock. Because they trusted in these vain superstitions, the Israelites had to leave their own place, were led into exile like a flock of sheep driven away for sale or slaughter (Jeremiah 1:17). They were troubled. They were and are still oppressed by the heathen. Because there was (is) no shepherd. Because they had no king to guard and lead them, they fell under the power of foreign rulers, who ill treated and oppressed them (Ezekiel 34:5; Nehemiah 5:15). Zechariah 10:2"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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