Zechariah 14:5
And you shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal: yes, you shall flee, like as you fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
14:1-7 The Lord Jesus often stood upon the Mount of Olives when on earth. He ascended from thence to heaven, and then desolations and distresses came upon the Jewish nation. Such is the view taken of this figuratively; but many consider it as a notice of events yet unfulfilled, and that it relates to troubles of which we cannot now form a full idea. Every believer, being related to God as his God, may triumph in the expectation of Christ's coming in power, and speak of it with pleasure. During a long season, the state of the church would be deformed by sin; there would be a mixture of truth and error, of happiness and misery. Such is the experience of God's people, a mingled state of grace and corruption. But, when the season is at the worst, and most unpromising, the Lord will turn darkness into light; deliverance comes when God's people have done looking for it.And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains - Rather, along the valley of My mountains namely, of those mountains, which God had just formed by dividing the mount of Olives. "For the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal, that is, Azel," the same word which enters into Beth-Azel of Micah, where the allusion probably is to its firm-rootedness. It is more probable that the name of a place should have been chosen with an allusive meaning, as in Micah, than that an unusual appellative should have been chosen to express a very common meaning. Cyril had heard of it as the name of a village at the extremity of the mountain. Elsewhere it might very probably have been destroyed in the destructive Roman wars: The Roman camp in the last siege must have been very near it . The destruction of villages, after the frantic revolt under Bar-Kochba, was enormous.

Yea, ye shall flee like as ye fled from before the earthquake - An earthquake in the time of Uzziah, whose memory survived the captivity to the time of Zechariah, nearly two centuries, must have been very terrible, but no historical account remains of it, Josephus having apparently described the past earthquake in the language which Zechariah uses of the future (see the introduction to Amos). Such an earthquake is the more remarkable a visitation in Jerusalem, because it was out of the line of earthquakes. These were to the north and east of Palestine: within it, they were almost unknown (see Amos 4:11, vol. i. p. 286). Interpositions of God even in man's favor, are full of awe and terror. They are tokens of the presence of the all-holy among the unholy. Fear was an accompaniment of special miracles in the Gospel, not only among the poor Gadarenes Mark 5:15; Luke 8:25, or the people , but even the Apostles ; apart from the effect of the sight of angels on us who are in the flesh . It is then quite compatible, that the valley so formed should be the means of deliverance, and yet an occasion of terror to those delivered through it. The escape of the Christians in Jerusalem to Pella, during the break of the siege, after the withdrawal of Cestius Gallus was a slight image of this deliverance.

And the Lord thy God shall come, and all the saints with Thee, O God - The prophet, having spoken of God as "my God," turns suddenly to speak to Him, as present. Jerome on Zechariah 14:6-7 : "This is manifestly said of the second Coming of the Saviour, of which John too in his Apocalypse says, 'Behold He shall come with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him' Revelation 1:7. And the Lord Himself in the Gospel declareth, that 'the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory' Matthew 24:30. He shall 'come with the clouds,' that is, with the angels, who are 'ministering spirits' and are sent for different offices, and with the prophets and apostles." Ribera: "Whenever Scripture says that the saints and angels come with Christ, it is always speaking of His second Coming, as in that, 'When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all His holy angels with Him' Matthew 25:31, and in the Epistle of Jude, 'Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment' Jde 1:14-15."

5. ye shall flee to the valley—rather "through the valley," as in 2Sa 2:29. The valley made by the cleaving asunder of the Mount of Olives (Zec 14:4) is designed to be their way of escape, not their place of refuge [Maurer]. Jerome is on the side of English Version. If it be translated so, it will mean, Ye shall flee "to" the valley, not to hide there, but as the passage through which an escape may be effected. The same divinely sent earthquake which swallows up the foe, opens out a way of escape to God's people. The earthquake in Uzziah's days is mentioned (Am 1:1) as a recognized epoch in Jewish history. Compare also Isa 6:1: perhaps the same year that Jehovah held His heavenly court and gave commission to Isaiah for the Jews, an earthquake in the physical world, as often happens (Mt 24:7), marked momentous movements in the unseen spiritual world.

of the mountains—rather, "of My mountains," namely, Zion and Moriah, peculiarly sacred to Jehovah [Moore]. Or, the mountains formed by My cleaving Olivet into two [Maurer].

Azal—the name of a place near a gate east of the city. The Hebrew means "adjoining" [Henderson]. Others give the meaning, "departed," "ceased." The valley reaches up to the city gates, so as to enable the fleeing citizens to betake themselves immediately to it on leaving the city.

Lord my God … with thee—The mention of the "Lord my God" leads the prophet to pass suddenly to a direct address to Jehovah. It is as if "lifting up his head" (Lu 21:28), he suddenly sees in vision the Lord coming, and joyfully exclaims, "All the saints with Thee!" So Isa 25:9.

saints—holy angels escorting the returning King (Mt 24:30, 31; Jude 14); and redeemed men (1Co 15:23; 1Th 3:13; 4:14). Compare the similar mention of the "saints" and "angels" at His coming on Sinai (De 32:2, 3; Ac 7:53; Ga 3:19; Heb 2:2). Phillips thinks Azal is Ascalon on the Mediterranean. An earthquake beneath Messiah's tread will divide Syria, making from Jerusalem to Azal a valley which will admit the ocean waters from the west to the Dead Sea. The waters will rush down the valley of Arabah, the old bed of the Jordan, clear away the sand-drift of four thousand years, and cause the commerce of Petra and Tyre to center in the holy city. The Dead Sea rising above its shores will overflow by the valley of Edom, completing the straits of Azal into the Red Sea. Thus will be formed the great pool of Jerusalem (compare Zec 14:8; Eze 47:1, &c.; Joe 3:18). Euphrates will be the north boundary, and the Red Sea the south. Twenty-five miles north and twenty-five miles south of Jerusalem will form one side of the fifty miles square of the Lord's Holy Oblation (Eze 48:1-35). There are seven spaces of fifty miles each from Jerusalem northward to the Euphrates, and five spaces of fifty miles each southward to the Red Sea. Thus there are thirteen equal distances on the breadth of the future promised land, one for the oblation and twelve for the tribes, according to Eze 48:1-35. That the Euphrates north, Mediterranean west, the Nile and Red Sea south, are to be the future boundaries of the holy land, which will include Syria and Arabia, is favored by Ge 15:8; Ex 23:31; De 11:24; Jos 1:4; 1Ki 4:21; 2Ch 9:26; Isa 27:12; all which was partially realized in Solomon's reign, shall be antitypically so hereafter. The theory, if true, will clear away many difficulties in the way of the literal interpretation of this chapter and Eze 48:1-35.

And ye, you that are members of the church, and whom God doth in wonderful power and majesty come to save,

shall flee; filled with apprehensions of such strange things, and troubled at the convulsions and strugglings of nations against God and you, shall, as in a great fear, flee to some place of safety and repose; you will flee the valley itself which God maketh: by terrible things in righteousness doth God answer, and his people tremble before him when he cometh to save them. So here are represented to us a people wonderfully saved, and astonished at the methods of it; God makes valleys in the midst of mountains, and they (for whose good they are made) flee those valleys. So the words were better read; our marginal readings and the Gallic version do so read it.

For, or although, or

notwithstanding, this

valley reach unto Azal, which speaks, say some, a separate place, i.e. provided of God for their safety a Zoar for Lot, or Pella for the citizens of Jerusalem. They shall, as is usual in great frights and consternation of mind, not see how safe they are, or whither to go, but some will run for a while from or beyond their refuge.

As ye fled from before the earthquake: this was some dreadful earthquake, and put the people into a mighty fear, and made them flee in all haste; it is mentioned Amos 1:1; and the prophet tells us, that when God shakes the kingdoms of his enemies, to make a plain and level way for his ransomed ones, it shall make them flee for fear too.

The Lord my God shall come: as thus rendered it gives reason of this commotion of mind and this hasty flight. But it would be plainer if it were, as it may be, I think, read, and, or yet, O Lord my God, come, and bring all the saints with thee. As if it were said, Though it will, O Lord, put us into such fears; yet without such wonderful works we shall not have our hopes, nor see thy salvation; therefore, O Lord my God, come, and bring thy saints, holy ones, angels, with thee: and so will this be like that of St. John, Revelation 22:20, shutting up the visions of the new heaven and the new earth, and the appendages of them, with,

Come, Lord Jesus. And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains,.... To seek for shelter and safety in them, for fear of the Lord, and the glory of his majesty, whom every eye shall see, Isaiah 2:19,

for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal; a name of a place not known; it may be thought to be at some considerable distance:

yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah; two years before which Amos prophesied, Amos 1:1 and which, according to Josephus (i), was at the time when King Uzziah was stricken with a leprosy for invading the priest's office; when, as he says, at a place before the city called Eroge, half part of the mountain towards the west was broken, and rolled half a mile towards the eastern part, and there stood; so that the ways were stopped up to the king's gardens:

and the Lord my God shall come; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is truly God, and the God of his people; and who will appear to be so at his second coming, which is here meant, by raising the dead, gathering all nations before him, and separating them; by bringing to light all secret and hidden things; judging the whole world, and executing the sentence on them; and particularly by taking his own people to himself:

and all the saints with thee: the Targum, and the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, "with him"; meaning either the holy angels; so Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; who will attend him partly for the glory of his majesty, and partly for terror to the wicked, and also for service; or rather glorified saints, the spirits of just men made perfect, whom Christ will bring with him to be united to their bodies, which will now be raised, and to be with him in the new heavens and new earth, which will now be formed, and to be presented to him, and dwell with him, during the thousand years.

(i) Antiqu. l. 9. c. 10. sect. 4.

And ye shall flee to the {e} valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach to Azal: yea, ye shall flee, as ye fled from before the {f} earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD {g} my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.

(e) He speaks of the hypocrites, who could not abide God's presence, but would flee into all places, where they might hide themselves among the mountains.

(f) Read Am 1:1.

(g) Because they did not credit the Prophet's words, he turns to God and comforts himself in that that he knew that these things would come, and says, You, O God, with your angels will come to perform this great thing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. to the valley of the mountains] Rather, by the valley of My mountains, i.e. a way of escape from the city shall be opened to you along the valley formed by My mountains, those mountains, that is, which I have just made for that very purpose, by cleaving the mount of Olives.

unto Azal] Jerome and others render, very near, “usque ad proximum.” If, however, Azal is a proper name, it denotes some then familiar locality, either at the eastern extremity of the newly-formed valley, or more probably at its western extremity, close to the walls of Jerusalem. In any case the meaning is that the way of escape shall be made easy.

the earthquake in the days of Uzziah] There is no mention of this in the historical books. The references to it here and in Amos 1:1 show that it made a deep impression on the people and was long remembered. The story of Josephus (see Stanley, Jewish Church, ii. 439) connecting it with Uzziah’s attempt to burn incense (2 Chronicles 26:19) is probably only an embellishment of this passage of Zechariah. Ewald puts the earthquake in “one of the first years of Uzziah.”

all the saints] Rather, holy ones, i.e. angels. Comp. Deuteronomy 33:2; Matthew 25:31; Judges 14.

with thee] i.e. with the Lord, to whom the prophet turns in direct address. These abrupt changes of person are not uncommon in Hebrew. See chap. Zechariah 2:8, note.Verse 5. - Ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; ye shall flee by the valley of my mountains; i.e. by the ravine made by the cleaving of Olivet into two, which God calls "my mountain," because effected by his special interposition. Septuagint, Φραχθήσεται ἡ φάραγξ τῶν ὀρέων μου, "The valley of my mountains shall be blocked;" Vulgate, Fugietis ad vallem montium eorum. The last word is probably an error for meorum. Into the chasm thus miraculously formed the remnant shall flee for refuge. Unto Azal; ἕως Ἰασόδ (Septuagint); usque ad proximum (Vulgate); so Symmachus. If Azal, or Azel, be a proper name, it is with some probability identified with Beth-ezel, mentioned in Micah 1:11, a village on the east of Olivet. The meaning in this case is that the valley should extend from the west unto the east side of the Mount of Olives, and that in it the people shall find an asylum, that they might not be involved in the judgments which fall on the enemy. Some take Azal to mean "union," and see in it a symbol of the union of the Law and the gospel, or the Jew and Gentile, in one Church - the valley of God's mountain extending to "union;" that is, to enfolding all the faithful (see Wordsworth, in loc.). The earthquake in the days of Uzziah. This is mentioned in Amos 1:1, but not in the historical books (see note on Amos, loc. cit.). The intervention of the Lord is here accompanied by an earthquake, which produces the same panic as on the former occasion, and drives the inhabitants to flight. Shall come. To smite his enemies and to defend his people. All the saints (holy ones) with thee. The versions have, "with him;" and thus many Hebrew manuscripts. But such abrupt changes of persons are not uncommon (see note on Zechariah 2:8). The "holy ones" are the angels (comp. Deuteronomy 33:2; Job 5:1; Daniel 7:10; and the parallel predictions in Matthew 24:30, 31; Matthew 25:31). In this and the following visions the prophet is shown the future glorification of the church of the Lord. Zechariah 3:1. "And he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of Jehovah, and Satan stood at his right hand to oppose him. Zechariah 3:2. And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, O Satan; and Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem rebuke thee. Is not this a brand saved out of the fire? Zechariah 3:3. And Joshua was clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. Zechariah 3:4. And he answered and spake to those who stood before him thus: Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, Behold, I have taken away thy guilt from thee, and clothe thee in festal raiment. Zechariah 3:5. And I said, Let them put a clean mitre upon his head. Then they put the clean mitre upon his head, and clothed him with garments. And the angel of Jehovah stood by." The subject to ויּראני is Jehovah, and not the mediating angel, for his work was to explain the visions to the prophet, and not to introduce them; nor the angel of Jehovah, because he appears in the course of the vision, although in these visions he is sometimes identified with Jehovah, and sometimes distinguished from Him. The scene is the following: Joshua stands as high priest before the angel of the Lord, and Satan stands at his (Joshua's) right hand as accuser. Satan (hassâtân) is the evil spirit so well known from the book of Job, and the constant accuser of men before God (Revelation 12:10), and not Sanballat and his comrades (Kimchi, Drus., Ewald). He comes forward here as the enemy and accuser of Joshua, to accuse him in his capacity of high priest. The scene is therefore a judicial one, and the high priest is not in the sanctuary, the building of which had commenced, or engaged in supplicating the mercy of the angel of the Lord for himself and the people, as Theodoret and Hengstenberg suppose. The expression עמד לפני furnishes no tenable proof of this, since it cannot be shown that this expression would be an inappropriate one to denote the standing of an accused person before the judge, or that the Hebrew language had any other expression for this. Satan stands on the right side of Joshua, because the accuser was accustomed to stand at the right hand of the accused (cf. Psalm 109:6). Joshua is opposed by Satan, however, not on account of any personal offences either in his private or his domestic life, but in his official capacity as high priest, and for sins which were connected with his office, or for offences which would involve the nation (Leviticus 4:3); though not as the bearer of the sins of the people before the Lord, but as laden with his own and his people's sins. The dirty clothes, which he had one, point to this (Zechariah 3:3).

But Jehovah, i.e., the angel of Jehovah, repels the accuser with the words, "Jehovah rebuke thee;... Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem."

(Note: The application made in the Epistle of Jude (Jde 1:9) of the formula "Jehovah rebuke thee," namely, that Michael the archangel did not venture to execute upon Satan the κρίσις βλασφημίας, does not warrant the conclusion that the angel of the Lord places himself below Jehovah by these words. The words "Jehovah rebuke thee" are a standing formula for the utterance of the threat of a divine judgment, from which no conclusion can be drawn as to the relation in which the person using it stood to God. Moreover, Jude had not our vision in his mind, but another event, which has not been preserved in the canonical Scriptures.)

The words are repeated for the sake of emphasis, and with the repetition the motive which led Jehovah to reject the accuser is added. Because Jehovah has chosen Jerusalem, and maintains His choice in its integrity (this is implied in the participle bōchēr). He must rebuke Satan, who hopes that his accusation will have the effect of repealing the choice of Jerusalem, by deposing the high priest. For if any sin of the high priest, which inculpated the nation, had been sufficient to secure his removal or deposition, the office of high priest would have ceased altogether, because no man is without sin. גּער, to rebuke, does not mean merely to nonsuit, but to reprove for a thing; and when used of God, to reprove by action, signifying to sweep both him and his accusation entirely away. The motive for the repulse of the accuser is strengthened by the clause which follows: Is he (Joshua) not a brand plucked out of the fire? i.e., one who has narrowly escaped the threatening destruction (for the figure, see Amos 4:11). These words, again, we most not take as referring to the high priest as an individual; nor must we restrict their meaning to the fact that Joshua had been brought back from captivity, and reinstated in the office of high priest. Just as the accusation does not apply to the individual, but to the office which Joshua filled, so do these words also apply to the supporter of the official dignity. The fire, out of which Joshua had been rescued as a brand, was neither the evil which had come upon Joshua through neglecting the building of the temple (Koehler), nor the guilt of allowing his sons to marry foreign wives (Targ., Jerome, Rashi, Kimchi): for in the former case the accusation would have come too late, since the building of the temple had been resumed five months before (Haggai 1:15, compared with Zechariah 1:7); and in the latter it would have been much too early, since these misalliances did not take place till fifty years afterwards. And, in general, guilt which might possibly lead to ruin could not be called a fire; still less could the cessation or removal of this sin be called deliverance out of the fire. Fire is a figurative expression for punishment, not for sin. The fire out of which Joshua had been saved like a brand was the captivity, in which both Joshua and the nation had been brought to the verge of destruction. Out of this fire Joshua the high priest had been rescued. But, as Kliefoth has aptly observed, "the priesthood of Israel was concentrated in the high priest, just as the character of Israel as the holy nation was concentrated in the priesthood. The high priest represented the holiness and priestliness of Israel, and that not merely in certain official acts and functions, but so that as a particular Levite and Aaronite, and as the head for the time being of the house of Aaron, he represented in his own person that character of holiness and priestliness which had been graciously bestowed by God upon the nation of Israel." This serves to explain how the hope that God must rebuke the accuser could be made to rest upon the election of Jerusalem, i.e., upon the love of the Lord to the whole of His nation. The pardon and the promise do not apply to Joshua personally any more than the accusation; but they refer to him in his official position, and to the whole nation, and that with regard to the special attributes set forth in the high priesthood - namely, its priestliness and holiness. We cannot, therefore, find any better words with which to explain the meaning of this vision than those of Kliefoth. "The character of Israel," he says, "as the holy and priestly nation of God, was violated - violated by the general sin and guilt of the nation, which God had been obliged to punish with exile. This guilt of the nation, which neutralized the priestliness and holiness of Israel, is pleaded by Satan in the accusation which he brings before the Maleach of Jehovah against the high priest, who was its representative. A nation so guilty and so punished could no longer be the holy and priestly nation: its priests could no longer be priests; nor could its high priests be high priests any more. But the Maleach of Jehovah sweeps away the accusation with the assurance that Jehovah, from His grace, and for the sake of its election, will still give validity to Israel's priesthood, and has already practically manifested this purpose of His by bringing it out of its penal condition of exile."

After the repulse of the accuser, Joshua is cleansed from the guilt attaching to him. When he stood before the angel of the Lord he had dirty clothes on. The dirty clothes are not the costume of an accused person (Drus., Ewald); for this Roman custom was unknown to the Hebrews. Dirt is a figurative representation of sin; so that dirty clothes represent defilement with sin and guilt (cf. Isaiah 64:5; Isaiah 4:4; Proverbs 30:12; Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:14). The Lord had indeed refined His nation in its exile, and in His grace had preserved it from destruction; but its sin was not thereby wiped away. The place of grosser idolatry had been taken by the more refined idolatry of self-righteousness, selfishness, and conformity to the world. And the representative of the nation before the Lord was affected with the dirt of these sins, which gave Satan a handle for his accusation. But the Lord would cleanse His chosen people from this, and make it a holy and glorious nation. This is symbolized by what takes place in Zechariah 3:4 and Zechariah 3:5. The angel of the Lord commands those who stand before Him, i.e., the angels who serve Him, to take off the dirty clothes from the high priest, and put on festal clothing; and then adds, by way of explanation to Joshua, Behold, I have caused thy guilt to pass away from thee, that is to say, I have forgiven thy sin, and justified thee (cf. 2 Samuel 12:13; 2 Samuel 24:10), and clothe thee with festal raiment. The inf. abs. halbēsh stands, as it frequently does, for the finite verb, and has its norm in העברתּי (see at Haggai 1:6). The last words are either spoken to the attendant angels as well, or else, what is more likely, they are simply passed over in the command given to them, and mentioned for the first time here. Machălâtsōth, costly clothes, which were only worn on festal occasions (see at Isaiah 3:22).; They are not symbols of innocence and righteousness (Chald.), which are symbolized by clean or white raiment (Revelation 3:4; Revelation 7:9); nor are they figurative representations of joy (Koehler), but are rather symbolical of glory. The high priest, and the nation in him, are not only to be cleansed from sin, and justified, but to be sanctified and glorified as well.

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