Zechariah 13:5
But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an farmer; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
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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.And he shall say - Repudiating his former claims, "I am a husbandman:" for a man hath taught me from my youth." There was no room then for his having been a false prophet, since he had had from his youth one simple unlettered occupation, as Amos said truly of himself; "I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son: but I was an herdsman and a gatherer of sycamore fruit" Amos 7:14. The prophet does not approve the lie, any more than our Lord did the injustice of the "unjust steward." Our Lord contrasted the wisdom "in their generation" of a bad man for his ends, with the unwisdom of "the children of light," who took no pains to secure their God. Zechariah pictures vividly, how people would anyhow rid themselves of all suspicion of false prophesying. 5, 6. The detection of one of the false prophets dramatically represented. He is seized by some zealous vindicator of the law, and in fear cries out, "I am no prophet."

man—that is, one.

taught me to keep cattle—As "keeping cattle" is not the same as to be "an husbandman," translate rather, "Has used (or 'appropriated') me as a servant," namely, in husbandry [Maurer]. However, husbandry and keeping cattle might be regarded as jointly the occupation of the person questioned: then Am 7:14, "herdman," will accord with English Version. A Hebrew kindred word means "cattle." Both occupations, the respondent replies, are inconsistent with my being a "prophet."

This verse is this reclaimed man’s recantation, or renunciation of his former course, and his solemn promise to take up his own calling, and become a plain honest man, and live upon his labour, to which he was trained up from his youth, and is sorry he ever left it.

This verse is this reclaimed man’s recantation, or renunciation of his former course, and his solemn promise to take up his own calling, and become a plain honest man, and live upon his labour, to which he was trained up from his youth, and is sorry he ever left it. But he shall say, I am no prophet,.... That he is not of the Romish clergy, or of any of their religious orders, having laid aside his habit:

I am an husbandman; he shall put on the habit of a husbandman, and work for his bread; for he will not be able to support himself, as before, with the sale of pardons and indulgences, and by praying souls out of purgatory; for no man hereafter will buy of his merchandise, Revelation 18:11 and he will be ashamed of his former calling and traffic, and will not own that he was ever concerned therein; but will affirm that he was never of the Romish clergy, but always a layman, and employed in husbandry:

for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth; he will say he was brought up to husbandry, or in some mechanic business, from his youth, and never was in any convent or monastery, or of any religious order: it may be rendered, "for man made me to work from my youth" (u); and is not to be restrained to keeping cattle, or any particular employment.

(u) "fecerunt me operari", Noldius; "homo operari fecit me", De Dieu, Burkius.

But he shall say, I am no {g} prophet, I am a farmer; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

(g) They will confess their former ignorance, and be content to labour for their living.

5. a husbandman] Lit. one tilling the ground, as Genesis 4:2. Comp. Amos 7:14, where however there is no repudiation as here of the prophetical office.

taught me to keep cattle] or possessed me as a serf, or chattel: adscriptus glebœ. I have been made a bondman, R. V.Verse 5. - I am an husbandman. The imposter shall confess the truth about himself, and own that he is only "a tiller of the ground (ἄνθρωπος ἐργαζόμενος τὴν γῆν)," as Genesis 4:2. The abnegation in Amos 7:14 is quite different in character. Man taught me to keep cattle; literally, man bought (or, possessed) me; Revised Version, I have been made a bondman. So eager is he now to hide his false pretensions, that he is willing, to be considered a slave, employed from his youth in farm work, and therefore incapable of executing the prophetical office. Vulgate, Quoniam Adam exemplum meum ab adoloscentia mea; i.e. "I have followed the example of Adam in tilling the ground and in earning my bread by the sweat of my brow." St. Cyril and some modern commentators hold that the false prophet says this in sorrow and repentant, not with any idea of deceiving; and that herein is exhibited a signal instance of the grace of God in the Messanic period, when even such sinners are converted from the error of their ways. The prophecy commences thus in Zechariah 2:6-9 : Zechariah 2:6. "Ho, ho, flee out of the land of the north, is the saying of Jehovah; for I spread you out as the four winds of heaven, is the saying of Jehovah. Zechariah 2:7. Ho, Zion, save thyself, thou that dwellest with the daughter Babel. Zechariah 2:8. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, After glory hath he sent me to the nations that have plundered you; for whoever toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye. Zechariah 2:9. For, behold, I swing my hand over them, and they become a spoil to those who served them; and ye will see that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me." The summons to flee out of Babylon, in Zechariah 2:6 and Zechariah 2:7, is addressed to the Israelites, who are all included in the one name Zion in Zechariah 2:7; and shows that the address which follows is not a simple continuation of the promise in Zechariah 2:4 and Zechariah 2:5, but is intended both to explain it, and to assign the reason for it. The summons contains so far a reason for it, that the Israelites are directed to flee out of Babylon, because the judgment is about to burst upon this oppressor of the people of God. The words nūsū, flee, and himmâletı̄, save thyself or escape, both point to the judgment, and in Zechariah 2:9 the judgment itself is clearly spoken of. the land of the north is Babylon (cf. Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 10:22; and for the fact itself, Isaiah 48:20). The reason for the exclamation "Flee" is first of all given in the clause, "for like the four winds have I spread you out," not "dispersed you" (Vulg., C. B. Mich., Koehler). For apart from the fact that pērēs almost always means to spread out, and has the meaning to disperse at the most in Psalm 68:15 and Ezekiel 17:21, this meaning is altogether unsuitable here. For if Israel had been scattered like the four winds, it would of necessity have been summoned to return, not only from the north, but from all quarters of the globe (Hitzig, Kliefoth). Moreover, we should then have לארבּע, into the four winds; and the method suggested by Koehler for reconciling כּארבּע with his view, viz., by assuming that "like the four winds" is equivalent to "as chaff is pounded and driven away from its place by the four winds," according to which the winds would be mentioned in the place of the chaff, will hardly meet with approval. The explanation is rather that the perfect pērastı̄ is used prophetically to denote the purpose of God, which had already been formed, even if its realization was still in the future. To spread out like the four winds is the same as to spread out just as the four winds spread out to all quarters of the globe. Because God has resolved upon spreading out His people in this manner, they are to flee out of Babel, that they may not suffer the fate of Babel. That this thought lies at the foundation of the motive assigned, is evident from the further reasons assigned for the summons in Zechariah 2:8 and Zechariah 2:9.

Zion stands for the inhabitants of Zion, namely the people of God, who are for the time being still yōshebheth bath Bâbel, dwelling with the daughter Babel. As Zion does not mean the city or fortress of Jerusalem, but the inhabitants, so the "daughter Babel" is not the city of Babylon or country of Babylonia personified, but the inhabitants of Babel; and ישׁב is construed with the accusative of the person, as in Psalm 22:4 and 2 Samuel 6:2. What Jehovah states in explanation of the twofold call to flee out of Babel, does not commence with Zechariah 2:9 (Ewald), or with כּי הנּגע in Zechariah 2:8 (Koehler), but with אחר כּבוד וגו. The incorrectness of the two former explanations is seen first of all in the fact that כּי only introduces a speech in the same manner as ὅτι, when it follows directly upon the introductory formula; but not, as is here assumed, when a long parenthesis is inserted between, without the introduction being resumed by לאמר. And secondly, neither of these explanations furnishes a suitable meaning. If the words of God only followed in Zechariah 2:9, עליהם in the first clause would be left without any noun to which to refer; and if they commenced with כּי הנּגע (for he that toucheth), the thought "he that toucheth you," etc., would assign no reason for the call to flee and save themselves. For if Israel is defended or valued by God as a pupil of the eye, there can be no necessity for it to flee. And lastly, it is impossible to see what can be the meaning or object of the parenthesis, "After glory hath He sent me," etc. If it treated "of the execution of the threat of punishment upon the heathen" (Koehler), it would be inserted in an unsuitable place, since the threat of punishment would not follow till afterwards. All these difficulties vanish if Jehovah's words commence with 'achar kâbhōd (after glory), in which case shelâchanı̄ (He hath sent me) may be very simply explained from the fact that the address is introduced, not in a direct form, but indirectly: Jehovah says, He has sent me after glory. The sender is Jehovah, and the person sent is not the prophet, but the angel of the Lord. Achar kâbhōd: behind glory, after glory; not however "after the glory of success" (Hitzig, Ewald, etc.), still less "with a glorious commission," but to get glory upon the heathen, i.e., to display the glory of God upon the heathen through the judgment by which their power is broken, and the heathen world is made to serve the people of God. The manner in which the next two clauses, commencing with kı̄ (for), are attached, is the following: The first assigns the subjective motive; that is to say, states the reason why God has sent him to the heathen, namely, because they have plundered His people, and have thereby touched the apple of His eye. בּבת עין, the apple of the eye (lit., the gate, the opening in which the eye is placed, or more probably the pupil of the eye, pupilla, as being the object most carefully preserved), is a figure used to denote the dearest possession or good, and in this sense is applied to the nation of Israel as early as Deuteronomy 32:10. The second explanatory clause in Zechariah 2:9 adds the practical ground for this sending after glory. The speaker is still the angel of the Lord; and his acting is identical with the acting of God. Like Jehovah, he swings his hand over the heathen nations which plundered Israel (cf. Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16), and they become (והיוּ expressing the consequence), i.e., so that they become, booty to the Israelites, who had previously been obliged to serve them (cf. Isaiah 14:2). In what way the heathen would serve Israel is stated in Zechariah 2:11. By the execution of this judgment Israel would learn that Jehovah had sent His angel, namely to execute upon the heathen His saving purposes for Israel. This is the meaning of these words, not only here and in Zechariah 2:11, but also in Zechariah 4:9 and Zechariah 6:15, where this formula is repeated, not however in the sense imagined by Koehler, namely that he had spoken these words in consequence of a command from Jehovah, and not of his own accord, by which the "sending" is changed into "speaking."

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