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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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
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). The word of God was as follows: Haggai 2:11. "Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Ask now the priests for instruction, saying, Haggai 2:12. Behold, one carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and touches with his lappet the bread, and that which is boiled, the wine, and the oil, and any kind of food: does it then become holy? And the priests answered and said, No. Haggai 2:13. And Haggai said, If one who is unclean on account of a corpse touches all this, does it become unclean? And the priests answered and said, It does become unclean. Haggai 2:14. Then Haggai answered and said, So is this people, and so this nation before my face, is the saying of Jehovah; and so is all the work of their hands, and what they offer to me there: it is unclean." In order to impress most earnestly upon the hearts of the people the fact that it was through their sin that they brought upon themselves the failure of crops that had hitherto prevailed, viz., as a punishment from God, the prophet proposes two questions concerning holy and clean for the priests to answer, in order that he may make an application of the answer they give to the moral condition of the nation. Tōrâh in Haggai 2:11, without the article, is used in its primary signification of instruction, and is governed by שׁעל, accus. rei: to ask a person anything, for to ask or solicit anything from him. The first question has reference to the communication of the holiness of holy objects to other objects brought into contact with them: whether, if a person carried holy flesh in the lappet of his garment,

(Note: Luther: "in the geren of his dress." The gehren, or gehre, middle high German gre, old high German kro (English goar), is a triangular piece, forming the gusset of a dress or shirt, then that portion of the dress in which it is inserted, viz., below the waist, probably derived from the Gothic gis, and the conjectural root geisan equals to thrust or strike (Weigand, Germ. Dict.).)

and touched any food with the lappet, it would become holy in consequence. Hēn, behold, pointing to an action as possible, has almost the force of a conditional particle, "if," as in Isaiah 54:15; Jeremiah 3:1 (cf. Ewald, 103, g). "Holy flesh" is flesh of animals slain as sacrifices, as in Jeremiah 11:15. Nâzı̄d, that which is boiled, boiled food (Genesis 25:29; 2 Kings 4:38.). The priests answer the question laid before them quite correctly with "No;" for, according to Leviticus 6:20, the lappet of the dress itself was made holy by the holy flesh, but it could not communicate this holiness any further. The second question (Haggai 2:13) has reference to the spread of legal defilement. טמא נפשׁ is not one who is unclean in his soul; but, as Leviticus 22:4 shows, it is synonymous with טמא לנפשׁ in Numbers 5:2; Numbers 9:10, "defiled on a soul;" and this is a contraction of טמא לנפר אדם, or טמא לנפשׁ מת, in Numbers 9:6-7, "defiled on (through) the soul of a dead man" (Numbers 6:6; Leviticus 21:11 : see at Leviticus 19:28), hence one who has been defiled through touching a dead body. This uncleanness was one of the strongest kinds; it lasted seven days, and could only be removed by his being twice purified with sprinkling water, prepared from the ashes of the red cow (see at Numbers 19). This question the priests also answered correctly. According to Numbers 19:22, he who was defiled by touching a dead body made everything unclean that he touched. The prophet now applies these provisions of the law to the ethical relation in which the people stood to Jehovah. "So is this people before me, saith Jehovah." הגּוי is quite synonymous with העם, as in Zephaniah 2:9, without any subordinate meaning of a contemptuous kind, which could at the most be contained in hazzeh (this), but in that case would apply to hâ‛âm just as well. Kēn, ita, refers to the substance of the two legal questions in Haggai 2:12 and Haggai 2:13. The nation, in its attitude towards the Lord, resembles, on the one hand, a man who carries holy flesh in the lappet of his garment, and on the other hand, a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. "Israel also possesses a sanctuary in the midst of its land, - namely, the place which Jehovah has chosen for His own abode, and favoured with many glorious promises. But just as no kind of food, neither bread nor vegetables, neither wine nor oil, is sanctified by the fact that a man touches it with his sanctified garment, so will all this not be rendered holy by the fact that it is planted in the soil of the land which surrounds and encloses the sanctuary of Jehovah. For though the land itself becomes a holy land in consequence, it cannot spread this holiness any further, nor communicate it to what grows upon it. All that Israel raises on its holy land, whether corn, wine, or oil, remains unholy or common. No special blessing rests upon the fruits of this land, on account of the holiness of the land itself, so as of necessity to produce fruitfulness as its result; nor, on the other hand, does it in itself communicate any curse. But if, as experience shows, a curse is resting notwithstanding upon the productions of this land, it arises from the fact that they are unclean because Israel has planted them. For Israel it utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and consequently even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of Jehovah are unclean" (Koehler). Shâm, there, i.e., upon the altar built immediately after the return from Babylon (Ezra 3:3).

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