Zechariah 12:4
In that day, said the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open my eyes on the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 12:4-5. In that day — This expression, in the prophetical writings, is of large extent, and not only signifies that particular point of time last spoken of, but some time afterward. I will smite every horse with astonishment — Many commentators explain this of the victories which Judas Maccabæus gained over Antiochus’s captains, whose chief force consisted in cavalry. But, as Archbishop Newcome observes, the language is much too strong, as it is also Zechariah 12:6-9, to denote the successes of the Maccabees against the Seleucidæ. This prophecy therefore, he thinks, remains to be accomplished. And many commentators, who are of the same opinion, consider it as a prediction of victories that will be obtained over Gog and Magog by the Jews, upon their restoration to their own land. One circumstance in favour of this interpretation is, that Gog and Magog are represented, Ezekiel 38:15, as riders on horses. And if by that people the Turks be intended, we know that they have been, and still are, famous for their cavalry, wherein chiefly the strength of their armies consists. But it is here foretold, that in order to their discomfiture God will send such distraction among their horses and their riders, and throw them into such a state of confusion, that they shall fall foul one upon another,

(see Zechariah 14:13,) and not be able to distinguish between their friends and their foes. And I will turn mine eyes upon the house of Judah — I will have an especial concern for their preservation. And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart — Shall say within themselves, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord — “The text here,” says Blayney,” has been supposed corrupt, and many attempts have been made to amend it. But, without any alteration, it well expresses the sentiments of the men of Judah, concerning the interest they had in the safety of Jerusalem and its inhabitants, on which their own strength and security depended in a great degree; so that they would, of course, be influenced to bring that assistance, the efficacy of which is set forth in the verse that follows.”12:1-8 Here is a Divine prediction, which will be a heavy burden to all the enemies of the church. But it is for Israel; for their comfort and benefit. It is promised that God will make foolish the counsels, and weaken the courage of the enemies of the church. The exact meaning is not clear; but God often begins by calling the poor and despised; and in that day even the feeblest will resemble David, and be as eminent in courage and every thing good. Desirable indeed is it that the examples and labours of Christians should render them as fire among wood, as a torch in a sheaf, to kindle the flame of Divine love, to spread religion on the right hand and on the left.Koster further refers to Zechariah 1:4, Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 3:5, Zechariah 3:9 and, on the other hand, to Zechariah 9:9-10, Zechariah 9:13, Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 10:11; Zechariah 11:2, Zechariah 11:7, Zechariah 11:9, Zechariah 11:17; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 14:4, Zechariah 14:8.

With one considerable exception , those who would sever the six last chapters from Zechariah, are now at one in placing them before the captivity. Yet, Zechariah here too speaks of the captivity as past. Adopting the imagery of Isaiah, who foretells the delivery from the captivity as an opening of a prison, he says, in the name of God, "By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water" Zechariah 9:11. Again, "The Lord of hosts hath visited His flock, the house of Judah. I will have mercy upon them (Judah and Joseph) and they shall be as though I had not cast them off" Zechariah 10:3-5. The mention of the mourning of all the "families that remain" Zechariah 12:14 implies a previous carrying away. Yet more; Zechariah took his imagery of the future restoration of Jerusalem, from its condition in his own time. "It shall be lifted up and inhabited in its place from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner-gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses" Zechariah 14:10. "The gate of Benjamin" is doubtless "the gate of Ephraim," since the road to Ephraim lay through Benjamin; but the gate of Ephraim existed in Nehemiah's time Nehemiah 8:16; Nehemiah 12:39, yet was not then repaired, as neither was the tower of Hananeel Nehemiah 3:1, having been left, doubtless, at the destruction of Jerusalem, being useless for defense, when the wall was broken down. So at the second invasion the Romans left the three impregnable towers, of Hippicus, Phasaelus, and Mariamne, as monuments of the greatness of the city which they had destroyed. Benjamin's gate, the corner gate, the tower of Hananeel, were still standing; "the king's winepresses" were naturally uninjured, since there was no use in injuring them; but "the first gate" was destroyed, since not itself but "the place" of it is mentioned.

The prophecy of the victory over the Greeks fits in with times when Assyria or Chaldaea were no longer the instruments of God in the chastisement of His people. The notion that the prophet incited the few Hebrew slaves, sold into Greece, to rebel against their masters, is so absurd, that one wonders that any one could have ventured to forge it and put it upon a Hebrew prophet .

Since, moreover, all now, who sever the six last chapters from the preceding, also divide these six into two halves, the evidence that the six chapters are from one author is a separate ground against their theory. Yet, not only are they connected by the imagery of the people as the flock of God Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 10:3, whom God committed to the hand of the Good Shepherd Zechariah 11:4-14, and on their rejecting Him, gave them over to an evil shepherd Zechariah 11:15-17; but the Good Shepherd is One with God Zechariah 11:7-12; Zechariah 13:7. The poor of the flock, who would hold to the Shepherd, are designated by a corresponding word.

A writer has been at pains to show that two different conditions of things are foretold in the two prophecies. Granted. The first, we believe, has its foreground in the deliverance during the conquests of Alexander, and under the Maccabees, and leads on to the rejection of the true Shepherd and God's visitation on the false. The later relates to a later repentance and later visitation of God, in part yet future. By what law is a prophet bound down to speak of one future only?

For those who criticize the prophets, resolve all prophecy into mere "anticipation" of what might, or might not be, denying to them all certain knowledge of any future, it is but speaking plainly, when they imagine the author of the three last chapters to have "anticipated" that God would interpose miraculously to deliver Jerusalem, then, when it was destroyed. It would have been in direct contradiction to Jeremiah, who for 39 years in one unbroken dirge predicted the evil which should come upon Jerusalem. The prophecy, had it preceded the destruction of Jerusalem, could not have been earlier than the reign of the wretched Jehoiakim, since the mourning for the death of Josiah is spoken of as a proverbial sorrow of the past. This invented prophet then would have been one of the false prophets, who contradicted Jeremiah, prophesying good, while Jeremiah prophesied evil; who encouraged Zedekiah in his perjury, the punishment whereof Ezekiel solemnly denounced Ezekiel 13:10-19, prophesying his captivity in Babylon as its penalty; he would have been one of those, of whom Jeremiah said that they spake lies Jeremiah 14:14; Jeremiah 23:22; Jeremiah 27:15; Jeremiah 28:15; Jeremiah 29:8-9 in the name of the Lord. It was not "anticipation" on either side.

It was the statement of those who spoke more certainly than we could say, "the sun will rise tomorrow." They were the direct contradictories of one another. The false prophets said, "the Lord hath said, Ye shall have peace" Jeremiah 8:11; Jeremiah 23:17; the true, "they have said, 'Peace, peace,' when there is no peace" Ezekiel 13:2-10; the false said, "sword and famine shall not be in the land" Jeremiah 14:15; the true "By sword and famine shall their prophets be consumed;" the false said, "ye shall not serve the king of Babylon; thus saith the Lord, even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years" Jeremiah 27:9-14; Jeremiah 28:11; the true, "Thus saith the Lord of hosts, Now have I given all these lands into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon, My servant, and all nations shall serve him, and his son and his son's son" Jeremiah 27:4, Jeremiah 27:6-7. The false said, "I will bring again to this place Jeconiah, with all the captives of Judah, that went into Babylon, for I will break the yoke of the king of Babylon" Jeremiah 28:4; the true, "I will cast thee out and the mother that bare thee, into another country, where ye were not born, and there ye shall die. But to the land, whereunto they desire to return, thither they shall not return" Jeremiah 22:26-27. The false said; "The vessels of the Lord's house shall now shortly be brought again from Babylon" Jeremiah 27:16; the true "the residue of the vessels that remain in this city, - they shall be carried to Babylon" Jeremiah 27:19-22.

If the writer of the three last chapters had lived just before the destruction of Jerusalem in those last reigns, he would have been a political fanatic, one of those who, by encouraging rebellion against Nebuchadnezzar, brought on the destruction of the city, and, in the name of God, told lies against God. "That which is most peculiar in this prophet," says one , "is the uncommon high and pious hope of the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah, notwithstanding all visible greatest dangers and threatenings. At a time when Jeremiah, in the walls of the capital, already despairs of any possibility of a successful resistance to the Chaldees and exhorts to tranquility, this prophet still looks all these dangers straight in the face with swelling spirit and divine confidence, holds, with unbowed spirit, firm to the like promises of older prophets, as Isaiah 29, and anticipates that, from that very moment when the blind fury of the destroyers would discharge itself on the sanctuary, a wondrous might would crush them in pieces, and that this must be the beginning of the Messianic weal within and without."

Zechariah 14 is to this writer a modification of those anticipations. In other words there was a greater human probability, that Jeremiah's prophecies, not his, would be fulfilled: yet, he cannot give up his sanguineness, though his hopes had now become fanatic. This writer says on Zechariah 14 , "This piece cannot have been written until somewhat later, when facts made it more and more improbable, that Jerusalem would not any how be conquered, and treated as a conquered city by coarse foes. Yet, then too, this prophet could not yet part with the anticipations of older prophets and those which he had himself at an earlier time expressed: so boldly, amid the most visible danger, he holds firm to the old anticipation, after that the great deliverance of Jerusalem in Sennacherib's time Isaiah 37 appeared to justify the most fanatic hopes for the future, (compare Psalm 59). And so now the prospect moulds itself to him thus, as if Jerusalem must indeed actually endure the horrors of the conquest, but that then, when the work of the conquerors was half-completed, the great deliverance, already suggested in that former piece, would come, and so the Sanctuary would, notwithstanding, be wonderfully preserved, the better Messianic time would notwithstanding still so come."

It must be a marvelous fascination, which the old prophets exercise over the human mind, that one who can so write should trouble himself about them. It is such an intense paradox, that the writing of one convicted by the event of uttering falsehood in the name of God, incorrigible even by the thickening tokens of God's displeasure, should have been inserted among the Hebrew prophets, in times not far removed from those whose events convicted him, that one wonders that anyone should have invented it, still more that any should have believed in it. Great indeed is "the credulity of the incredulous."

And yet, this paradox is essential to the theories of the modern school which would place these chapters before the captivity. English writers, who thought themselves compelled to ascribe these chapters to Jeremiah, had an escape, because they did not bind down prophecy to immediate events. Newcome's criticism was the conjectural criticism of his day; i. e. bad, cutting knots instead of loosing them. But his faith, that God's word is true, was entire. Since the prophecy, placed at the time where he placed it, had no immediate fulfillment, he supposed it, in common with those who believe it to have been written by Zechariah, to relate to a later period. That German school, with whom it is an axiom, "that all definite prophecy relates to an immediate future," had no choice but to place it just before the destruction of the temple by the Chaldees, or its profanation by Antiochus Epiphanes; and those who placed it before the Captivity, had no choice, except to believe, that it related to events, by which it was falsified.

Nearly half a century has passed, since a leading writer of this school said , "One must own, that the division of opinions as to the real author of this section and his time, as also the attempts to appropriate single oracles of this portion to different periods, leave the result of criticism simply "negative;" whereas on the other hand, the view itself, since it is not yet carried through exegetically, lacks the completion of its proof. It is not till criticism becomes "positive," and evidences its truth in the explanation of details, that it attains its completion; which is not, in truth, always possible." Hitzig did what he could, "to help to promote the attainment of this end according to his ability." But although the more popular theory has of late been that these chapters are to be placed before the captivity, the one portion somewhere in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, or Hezekiah; the other, as marked in the chapters themselves, after the death of Josiah; there have not been wanting critics of equal repute, who place them in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. Yet, criticism which reels to and fro in a period of near 500 years, from the earliest of the prophets to a period a century after Malachi, and this on historical and philological grounds, certainly has come to no definite basis, either as to history or philology.

Rather, it has enslaved both to preconceived opinions; and at last, as late a result as any has been, after this weary round, to go back to where it started from, and to suppose these chapters to have been written by the prophet whose name they bear .

It is obvious that there must be some mistake either in the tests applied, or in their application, which admits of a variation of at least 450 years from somewhere in the reign of Uzziah (say 770 b.c.) to "later than 330 b.c."

continued...

4. I will smite … horse—The arm of attack especially formidable to Judah, who was unprovided with cavalry. So in the overthrow of Pharaoh (Ex 15:19, 21).

open mine eyes upon … Judah—to watch over Judah's safety. Heretofore Jehovah seemed to have shut His eyes, as having no regard for her.

blindness—so as to rush headlong on to their own ruin (compare Zec 14:12, 13).

In that day: see Zechariah 4:3.

I will smite every horse: horses are of very great use in wars; they were the main strength of Antiochus Epiphanes, his best preparations. With astonishment; a dull, sottish fear and perplexity.

And his rider with madness; an impotency of mind both in the understanding, which is folly and imprudence, and in the will and resolution, which is either cowardice or unconstancy, like madmen that neither know how to resolve or act. God will turn all their counsel into foolishness, their strength into weakness, their courage into fear, and so overturn them all.

I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah; a while I seemed as one that slept or winked at the proceedings of my church’s enemies, yet now I will open mine eyes, and see all that is going forward against them, and I will watch over my people for good; against their enemies, to confound and destroy them and their enterprises: this eye of God open upon his people is his wise, powerful, gracious providence for them, Psalm 31:22 Jeremiah 24:6.

I will smite every horse of the people with blindness; all their warriors in their projecting and consults shall be as full of improvidence, and have as little foresight, as a stark blind man hath of sight to see by. In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness,.... The meaning is, the enemies of God's people shall be astonished at the failure of their attempts, and be filled with fury and madness because they cannot accomplish their designs; and shall be at their wits' end, not knowing what course to take: perhaps reference is had to the Turkish armies, that shall be brought against Jerusalem to recover it into their possession, which generally consist of a large cavalry; see Revelation 9:16,

and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah; which phrase is sometimes used, as expressive of the wrath of God against his enemies, Amos 9:4 and, if the house of Judah signifies the same as Judah, joined with the nations of the earth in the siege, Zechariah 12:2, it must be so understood here; but rather it seems to be different, and to intend those who will inhabit other parts of Judea, and who will be truly the people of God, Jews not only literally, but spiritually; and so is to be interpreted in a good sense, of the divine love to them, care of them, and protection over them; see Job 14:13 and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"and upon those of the house of Judah, I will reveal my power to do them good:''

and will smite every horse of the people with blindness: that is, every rider of them, either with blindness of mind or body, or both. It may be, as the former smiting, mentioned in the beginning of the verse, respects the mind, this may regard the body; so that they shall not see their way, and their hands shall not perform their enterprise.

In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
4. astonishment] This and the two following words, madness, blindness, occur together also in Deuteronomy 28:28, in a description of God’s judgments upon Israel, as here upon the armies that gather against Jerusalem.

I will open mine eyes upon] i.e. will regard with favour. Comp. Psalm 32:8.Verse 4. - I will smite every horse with astonishment (consternation). Cavalry represents the forces of the enemy. Astonishment, madness, and blindness are threatened against Israel in Deuteronomy 28:28; here they arc inflicted on the enemy. Madness. The riders should be so panic stricken that they knew not what they did, and shall turn their arms against each other (Haggai 2:22). Open mine eyes upon the house of Judah; i.e. will regard with favour and protect (Deuteronomy 11:12; 1 Kings 8:29; Isaiah 32:8). With blindness. They shall be blinded with terror. The previous threat is repeated with this emphatic addition. Zechariah 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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