Zechariah 13:2
And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 13:2. I will cut off the names of the idols — I will utterly destroy idols and idolatry. The Jews were forbidden to mention the names of the heathen idols, Exodus 23:13; Joshua 23:7; and when idolatry should be utterly extirpated, the names of the idols should be buried in oblivion. “It has been urged, in proof that this prophecy was uttered before the Babylonish captivity, that idolatry and groundless pretensions to prophecy were common among the Jews at that time, which has not been the case since. But, admitting the Jews not to have been addicted to idolatry, or false prophesying, at any particular period, [since the Babylonish captivity,] who can say they will not fall into both those transgressions at some future time? It is probable they will do so; for Ezekiel, confessedly prophesying of the latter times, when Israel and Judah, incorporated again into one nation, shall return into their own land, says, to the same effect as Zechariah, Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols, nor with their detestable things, nor with any of their transgressions, Ezekiel 37:23. But besides, supposing the Jews themselves to remain untainted with those corruptions, it surely will not be denied that they do and may still prevail among other nations, who may be included in the term הארצ, taken in its most general sense, the earth; and so I conceive it should be: for we are taught to expect that the conversion of the Jews will be followed by a further reformation in the world, Romans 11:15; and that the time will come, when the kingdoms of this world shall become the kingdoms of our God and of his Christ, Revelation 11:15; and the beast, the emblem of idolatry, and with him the false prophet, shall be cast into a lake of fire and brimstone, Revelation 19:2.” — Blayney. I will cause the prophets — The false prophets; and unclean spirit — This seems to mean those that prophesy by means of an unclean spirit: see Acts 16:16; Revelation 16:13; and what is said in the next verse of any one that shall prophesy, must be understood of those that undertake to prophesy by means of an impure spirit, or other false pretences.

13:1-6 In the time mentioned at the close of the foregoing chapter, a fountain would be opened to the rulers and people of the Jews, in which to wash away their sins. Even the atoning blood of Christ, united with his sanctifying grace. It has hitherto been closed to the unbelieving nation of Israel; but when the Spirit of grace shall humble and soften their hearts, he will open it to them also. This fountain opened is the pierced side of Christ. We are all as an unclean thing. Behold a fountain opened for us to wash in, and streams flowing to us from that fountain. The blood of Christ, and God's pardoning mercy in that blood, made known in the new covenant, are a fountain always flowing, that never can be emptied. It is opened for all believers, who as the spiritual seed of Christ, are of the house of David, and, as living members of the church, are inhabitants of Jerusalem. Christ, by the power of his grace, takes away the dominion of sin, even of beloved sins. Those who are washed in the fountain opened, as they are justified, so they are sanctified. Souls are brought off from the world and the flesh, those two great idols, that they may cleave to God only. The thorough reformation which will take place on the conversion of Israel to Christ, is here foretold. False prophets shall be convinced of their sin and folly, and return to their proper employments. When convinced that we are gone out of the way of duty, we must show the truth of our repentance by returning to it again. It is well to acknowledge those to be friends, who by severe discipline are instrumental in bringing us to a sight of error; for faithful are the wounds of a friend, Pr 27:6. And it is always well for us to recollect the wounds of our Saviour. Often has he been wounded by professed friends, nay, even by his real disciples, when they act contrary to his word.I will cut off the names of the idols - This had been a fence against idolatry. To name evil is a temptation to evil. Wrong words are the parents of wrong acts. To speak of evil awakens curiosity or passion; curiosity is one of the strongest incentives to act. All public mention of terrible crimes (it has been observed) produces imitation of the specific form of crime. Hence, it was commanded, "make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth" Exodus 23:13. And Joshua names it in his dying charge to Israel, "Be ye therefore very strong to keep and to are all that is written in the book of the law of Moses - either make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them" Joshua 23:6-7. Hence, they "changed" the "names" of cities , which bare idol names. David speaks of it, as part of fealty to God. "I will, not take their names upon my lips" Psalm 16:4.

Hosea prophesies of the times of the new covenant; "I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall be no more remembered by their name" Hosea 2:17. Isaiah, "The idols he shall utterly abolish" Isaiah 2:18. Zechariah foretells their abolition with a turn of words, formed apparently on those of Hosea ; but slightly varied, because the worship of Baal, such a plague-spot in the time of Hosea, one, which continued until the year before the captivity , was gone, He implies nothing as to his own times, whether idolatry still existed. He predicts its entire abolition in the whole compass of the enlarged Judah, that is, of Christendom.

And also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land - False prophecy sets itself to meet a craving of human nature to know something of its future. False prophets there were, even in the time of Nehemiah , and those in some number, hired to prophesy against the word of God. Our Lord warns against them. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves" Matthew 7:15. "Many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many" Matthew 24:11. Many false prophets, John says, "are gone out into the world" John 4:1. False prophets attended the decline of Judaism. Such was the author of the Jewish Sibylline book, prophesying the destruction of the Romans , and fixing the mind of his people on temporal aggrandizement : false prophets were suborned by the Jewish "tyrants" and encouraged the Jews in the resistance which ruined the devoted city: , false prophets have arisen in Christianity; but, like the Phrygian women who led Tertullian astray, they "went out," were cast out "from it, as not being of it."

Cyril: "After that the Only Begotten Word of God appeared to us, the dull and childish toys of idolatry perished and were utterly destroyed, and with it were taken away the strange and impious devices of the false prophets, who were full of the evil, unclean spirit, and could be readily detected as laboring under a kindred disease to the idolaters. For both had one president of impiety, Satan." Not 50 years after the Crucifixion, a pagan wrote his work, "on the failure of oracles." The outpouring of the Holy "Spirit of grace and supplication" Zechariah 12:10, should sweep away "the unclean spirit" , (Zechariah alone anticipates the language of the New Testament) which became "a lying spirit in the mouth of the prophets" 1 Kings 22:21-23 sought to them.

2. Consequences of pardon; not indolence, but the extirpation of sin.

names of … idols—Their very names were not to be mentioned; thus the Jews, instead of Mephibaal, said Mephibosheth (Bosheth meaning a contemptible thing) (Ex 23:13; De 12:3; Ps 16:4).

out of the land—Judea's two great sins, idolatry and false prophecy, have long since ceased. But these are types of all sin (for example, covetousness, Eph 5:5, a besetting sin of the Jews now). Idolatry, combined with the "spirit" of "Satan," is again to be incarnated in "the man of sin," who is to arise in Judea (2Th 2:3-12), and is to be "consumed with the Spirit of the Lord's mouth." Compare as to Antichrist's papal precursor, "seducing spirits … doctrines of devils," &c., 1Ti 4:1-3; 2Pe 2:1.

the unclean spirit—Hebrew, spirit of uncleanness (compare Re 16:13); opposed to "the Spirit of holiness" (Ro 1:4), "spirit of error" (1Jo 4:6). One assuming to be divinely inspired, but in league with Satan.

In that day: see Zechariah 13:1.

I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land; utterly destroy idols and idolatry.

Satan fell from heaven like lightning, as Christ tells us, when the gospel was preached by those he sent; and it is known the birth of Christ silenced the devil, that he could no more give answer to those that inquired at his oracles: the light of the gospel is such, that none of the idols can bear it. The devil put it into the heads of the Romans to keep Christ from being received by public allowance for a God, because he would turn out all the rest of them.

They shall no more be remembered, with veneration, sacrifices, gifts, erecting of temples, depending on or consulting with them; they shall be remembered and abhorred, whereas before they were remembered and adored.

The prophets; either those that, being priests to idols, did consult with them, and pretend to foretell future events; or more likely the false prophets among the Jews, who are prophets as idols are gods.

The unclean spirit, i.e. the devil, which sets the false prophets on work. Christ cast many out of persons possessed, and by his doctrine still doth east out Satan.

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord of hosts,.... In the latter day, at the time of the conversion of the Jews, when they shall turn to the Lord, and their sins shall be forgiven, and washed away in the fountain of his blood; for this refers not to the times of the Babylonish captivity, and their deliverance from that, which was now over, when idolatry ceased among that people; nor to the times of Christ, when soon after the false prophets among the Heathens, and their lying oracles, ceased, and Paganism in the Roman empire was destroyed; but to the times before mentioned, of which it is predicted by the Lord, saying,

that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered; meaning the idols of gold, silver, brass, and wood; images of the Virgin Mary, and saints departed, worshipped by the Papists, Revelation 9:20 for at this time mystical Babylon will fall, the idolatry of the church of Rome will be at an end, and will never be revived more:

and also I will cause the prophets, and the unclean spirit, to pass out of the land; by "the prophets" are meant false prophets, as the Targum explains it, even all the Popish hierarchy, pope, cardinals, archbishops, bishops, priests, &c. all that wretched body, which goes by the name of the false prophet, who at the battle of Armageddon will be taken, and with the beast cast alive into the lake of fire, Revelation 19:20 and by "the unclean spirit", or "spirits", the singular for the plural, are meant the three unclean spirits like frogs, and which are the spirits of devils, that come out of the mouth of the dragon beast, and false prophet, the Jesuits, monks, and friars; these shall be no more then on the earth, after these times, Revelation 16:13. Jarchi and Kimchi interpret "the unclean spirit" of the corruption of nature; but that will not cease as long as men are in a mortal state. This prophecy is, by the ancient Jews, (p) applied to the times of the Messiah.

(p) Zohar in Gen, fol. 53. 4. & 73. 1.

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the {b} names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the {c} prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.

(b) He promises that God will also purge them from all superstition, and that their religion will be pure.

(c) Meaning, the false prophets and teachers, who are the corrupters of all religion, whom the Prophet here calls unclean spirits.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
2. I will cut off] Forgiveness (Zechariah 13:1) is the middle term between godly sorrow (Zechariah 12:10-14) and amendment (Zechariah 13:2-6). It has been argued that the sins which are here said to be abandoned were not the prevalent sins of the Jews after the captivity, and that therefore the prophecy must be assigned to an earlier date. But the fact that this was the case, so far as it is a fact, may be claimed as completing the then present and historical basis, on which Zechariah, writing after the captivity, grounded, as is the wont of the O. T. prophets, the greater future which he was commissioned to reveal. Jerusalem had already proved and should presently prove again to be a “bowl of reeling,” and a “burdensome stone” (Zechariah 13:2-3) to the enemies who sought to hinder the re-building of the Temple and city. (Ezra 6:6-7; Ezra 6:11-12; Nehemiah 4, 6) Already “the spirit of grace and of supplications” had been poured upon the people and had moved them to penitent sorrow for their sins (Jeremiah 50:4-5), and throughout the era of the return it should in like manner be poured upon them. (Ezra 9; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 8:9; Nehemiah 8:9) Already had they set themselves to “cut off the names of the idols,” and to “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” (Ezra 6:21; Ezra 10:2-44; Nehemiah 9:38; Nehemiah 10:28-30; Nehemiah 13:1-9; Nehemiah 13:23-31.) But all these things, the prophet assures them, are but as the scanty drops, the harbingers of the abundant shower, or the few ripe ears, the firstfruits of the plentiful harvest. In the coming age of Messiah, the King (chap. 9) and Shepherd (chap. 11) of Israel, when the Spirit shall indeed be poured from on high, and the true Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, the spiritual counterparts of deliverance, of penitence, of amendment shall flourish in the Church of Christ. (Comp. as regards the terms of this verse, “idols,” “prophets,” “unclean spirit,” 1 John 5:21; 1 John 4:1). But beyond that is another age, in which in all its particulars, and with a completeness, it may be, and exactness of detail which it had never before attained to, the whole prediction shall be fulfilled.

the unclean spirit] Comp. 1 Kings 22:22.

Verse 2. - I will cut off the names of the idols. Idols should be so utterly abolished that their very names should perish (Hosea 2:17; Micah 5:12, 13; Zephaniah 1:4). The prophet names the two chief sins which had brought ruin on the old theocracy - idolatry and false prophetism, and declares that these shall not be found in the new theocracy. As these two sins were not specially prevalent after the Captivity, some see in their mention here an argument for the pre-exilian authorship of this part of Zechariah. But the prophet, grounding his message on past history, does well to give assurance that such lapses shall not happen again. Nor is it altogether certain that the warning against these errors was not needed after the return. There were false prophets in Nehemiah's time (Nehemiah 6:14); and we read in the Book of Maccabees that many Jews adopted heathen rites and customs, among which the worship of idols must have been included (1 Macc. 1:11, etc.; 2 Macc. 4:13, etc.), and the people and even priests contracted marriages with heathen wives (Ezra 9:2; Nehemiah 13:23); so that there was real danger of relapse. The prophets. The false prophets are meant, as is evident from their being associated with idols and the unclean spirit, and from vers. 3-6. The Septuagint has, "the false prophets;" so the Vulgate. The unclean spirit. This is the lying spirit which works in the false prophets (see 1 Kings 22:19-23), and which we find later denounced by apostles (Acts 16:18; 1 Corinthians 10:20, 21; 2 Thessalonians 2:9, 10; 1 Timothy 4:1). Septuagint, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον (comp, Matthew 12:43; Revelation 18:2). Zechariah 13:2The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem represent the whole nation here, as in Zechariah 12:10. This cleansing will be following by a new life in fellowship with God, since the Lord will remove everything that could hinder sanctification. This renewal of life and sanctification is described in Zechariah 12:2-7. Zechariah 12:2. "And it will come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, they shall be remembered no more; and the prophets also and the spirit of uncleanness will I remove out of the land. Zechariah 12:3. And it will come to pass, if a man prophesies any more, his father and his mother, they that begat him, will say to him, Thou must not live, for thou hast spoken deceit in the name of Jehovah: and his father and his mother, they that begat him, will pierce him through because of his prophesying. Zechariah 12:4. And it will come to pass on that day, the prophets will be ashamed every one of his vision, at his prophesying, and will no more put on a hairy mantle to lie. Zechariah 12:5. And he will say, I am no prophet, I am a man who cultivates the land; for a man bought me from my youth. Zechariah 12:6. And if they shall say to him, What scars are these between thy hands? he will say, These were inflicted upon me in the house of my loves." The new life in righteousness and holiness before God is depicted in an individualizing form as the extermination of idols and false prophets out of the holy land, because idolatry and false prophecy were the two principal forms in which ungodliness manifested itself in Israel. The allusion to idols and false prophets by no means points to the times before the captivity; for even of gross idolatry, and therefore false prophecy, did not spread any more among the Jews after the captivity, such passages as Nehemiah 6:10, where lying prophets rise up, and even priests contract marriages with Canaanitish and other heathen wives, from whom children sprang who could not even speak the Jewish language (Ezra 9:2 ff.; Nehemiah 13:23), show very clearly that the danger of falling back into gross idolatry was not a very remote one. Moreover, the more refined idolatry of pharisaic self-righteousness and work-holiness took the place of the grosser idolatry, and the prophets generally depict the future under the forms of the past. The cutting off of the names of the idols denotes utter destruction (cf. Hosea 2:19). The prophets are false prophets, who either uttered the thoughts of their hearts as divine inspiration, or stood under the demoniacal influence of the spirit of darkness. This is evident from the fact that they are associated not only with idols, but with the "spirit of uncleanness." For this, the opposite of the spirit of grace (Zechariah 12:10), is the evil spirit which culminates in Satan, and works in the false prophets as a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:21-23; Revelation 16:13-14).

The complete extermination of this unclean spirit is depicted thus in Zechariah 13:3-6, that not only will Israel no longer tolerate any prophet in the midst of it (Zechariah 13:3), but even the prophets themselves will be ashamed of their calling (Zechariah 13:4-6). The first case is to be explained from the law in Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and Deuteronomy 18:20, according to which a prophet who leads astray to idolatry, and one who prophesies in his own name or in the name of false gods, are to be put to death. This commandment will be carried out by the parents upon any one who shall prophesy in the future. They will pronounce him worthy of death as speaking lies, and inflict the punishment of death upon him (dâqar, used for putting to death, as in c. Zechariah 12:10). This case, that a man is regarded as a false prophet and punished in consequence, simply because he prophesies, rests upon the assumption that at that time there will be no more prophets, and that God will not raise them up or send them any more. This assumption agrees both with the promise, that when God concludes a new covenant with His people and forgives their sins, no one will teach another any more to know the Lord, but all, both great and small, will know Him, and all will be taught of God (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Isaiah 54:13); and also with the teaching of the Scriptures, that the Old Testament prophecy reached to John the Baptist, and attained its completion and its end in Christ (Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16, cf. Matthew 5:17). At that time will those who have had to do with false prophecy no longer pretend to be prophets, or assume the appearance of prophets, or put on the hairy garment of the ancient prophets, of Elias for example, but rather give themselves out as farm-servants, and declare that the marks of wound inflicted upon themselves when prophesying in the worship of heathen gods are the scars of wounds which they have received (Zechariah 13:4-6). בּושׁ מן, to be ashamed on account of (cf. Isaiah 1:29), not to desist with shame. The form הנּבאתו in Zechariah 13:4 instead of הנּבאו (Zechariah 13:3) may be explained from the fact that the verbs לא and לה frequently borrow forms from one another (Ges. 75, Anm. 20-22). On אדּרת שׂער, see at 2 Kings 1:8. למען כּחשׁ, to lie, i.e., to give themselves the appearance of prophets, and thereby to deceive the people. The subject to ואמר in Zechariah 13:5 is אישׁ from Zechariah 13:4; and the explanation given by the man is not to be taken as an answer to a question asked by another concerning his circumstances, for it has not been preceded by any question, but as a confession made by his own spontaneous impulse, in which he would repudiate his former calling. The verb הקנה is not a denom. of מקנה, servum facere, servo uti (Maurer, Koehler, and others), for miqneh does not mean slave, but that which has been acquired, or an acquisition. It is a simple hiphil of qânâh in the sense of acquiring, or acquiring by purchase, not of selling. That the statement is an untruthful assertion is evident from Zechariah 13:6, the two clauses of which are to be taken as speech and reply, or question and answer. Some one asks the prophet, who has given himself out as a farm-servant, where the stripes (makkōth, strokes, marks of strokes) between his hands have come from, and he replies that he received them in the house of his lovers. אשׁר הכּיתי, ἅς (sc., πληγάς) ἐπλήγην: cf. Ges. 143, 1. The questioner regards the stripes or wounds as marks of wounds inflicted upon himself, which the person addressed had made when prophesying, as is related of the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:28 (see the comm.). The expression "between the hands" can hardly be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms of the hands and their continuation up; the arms, since, according to the testimony of ancient writers (Movers, Phniz. i. p. 682), in the self-mutilations connected with the Phrygian, Syrian, and Cappadocian forms of worship, the arms were mostly cut with swords or knives. The meaning of the answer given by the person addressed depends upon the view we take of the word מאהבים. As this word is generally applied to paramours, Hengstenberg retains this meaning here, and gives the following explanation of the passage: namely, that the person addressed confesses that he has received the wounds in the temples of the idols, which he had followed with adulterous love, so that he admits his former folly with the deepest shame. But the context appears rather to indicate that this answer is also nothing more than an evasion, and that he simply pretends that the marks were scars left by the chastisements which he received when a boy in the house of either loving parents or some other loving relations.

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