Zechariah 3:7
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts, and I will give thee places to walk among these that stand by.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah

A VISION OF JUDGEMENT AND CLEANSING

THE RIGHT OF ENTRY

Zechariah 3:7
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A WORD or two of explanation will probably be necessary in order to see the full meaning of this great promise. The Prophet has just been describing a vision of judgment which he saw, in which the high priest, as representative of the nation, stood before the Angel of the Lord as an unclean person. He is cleansed and clothed, his foul raiment stripped off him, and a fair priestly garment, with ‘Holiness to the Lord’ written on the front of it, put upon him. And then follow a series of promises, of which the climax is the one that I have read. ‘I will give thee a place of access,’ says the Revised Version, instead of ‘places to walk’; ‘I will give thee a place of access among those that stand by’; the attendant angels are dimly seen surrounding their Lord. And so the promise of my text, in highly figurative fashion, is that of free and unrestrained approach to God, of a life that is like that of the angels that stand before His Face.

So, then, the words suggest to us, first, what a Christian life may be.

There are two images blended together in the great words of my text; the one is that of a king’s court, the other is that of a temple. With regard to the former it is a privilege given to the highest nobles of a kingdom-or it was so in old days-to have the right of entrée, at all moments and in all circumstances, to the monarch. With regard to the latter, the prerogative of the high priest, who was the recipient of this promise, as to access to the Temple, was a very restricted one. Once a year, with the blood that prevented his annihilation by the brightness of the Presence into which he ventured, he passed within the veil, and stood before that mysterious Light that coruscated in the darkness of the Holy of Holies. But this High Priest is promised an access on all days and at all times; and that He may stand there, beside and like the seraphim, who with one pair of wings veiled their faces in token of the incapacity of the creature to behold the Creator; ‘with twain veiled their feet’ in token of the unworthiness of creatural activities to be set before Him, ‘and with twain did fly’ in token of their willingness to serve Him with all their energies. This Priest passes within the veil when He will. Or, to put away the two metaphors, and to come to the reality far greater than either of them, we can, whensoever we please, pass into the presence before which the splendours of an earthly monarch’s court shrink into vulgarity, and attain to a real reception of the light that irradiates the true Holy Place, before which that which shone in the earthly shrine dwindles and darkens into a shadow. We may live with God, and in Him, and wrap a veil and ‘privacy of glorious light’ about us, whilst we pilgrim upon earth, and may have hidden lives which, notwithstanding all their surface occupation with the distractions and duties and enjoyments of the present, deep down in their centres are knit to God. Our lives may on the outside thus be largely amongst the things seen and temporal, and yet all the while may penetrate through these, and lay hold with their true roots on the eternal. If we have any religious life at all, the measure in which we possess it is the measure in which we may ever more dwell in the house of the Lord, and have our hearts in the secret place of the Most High, amid the stillnesses and the sanctities of His immediate dwelling.

Our Master is the great Example of this, of whom it is said, not only in reference to His mysterious and unique union of nature with the Father in His divinity, but in reference to the humanity which He had in common with us all, yet without sin, that the Son of Man came down from heaven, and even in the act of coming, and when He had come, was yet the Son of Man ‘which is in heaven.’ Thus we, too, may have ‘a place of access among them that stand by,’ and not need to envy the angels and the spirits of the just made perfect, the closeness of their communion, and the vividness of their vision, for the same, in its degree, may be ours. We, too, can turn all our desires into petitions, and of every wish make a prayer. We, too can refer all our needs to His infinite supply. We, too may consciously connect all our doings with His will and His glory; and for us it is possible that there shall be, as if borne on those electric wires that go striding across pathless deserts, and carry their messages through unpeopled solitudes, between Him and us a communication unbroken and continuous, which, by a greater wonder than even that of the telegraph, shall carry two messages, going opposite ways simultaneously, bearing to Him the swift aspirations and supplications of our spirits, and bringing to us the abundant answer of His grace. Such a conversation in heaven, and such association with the bands of the blessed is possible even for a life upon earth.

Secondly, let us consider this promise as a pattern for us of what Christian life should be, and, alas! so seldom is.

All privilege is duty, and everything that is possible for any Christian man to become, it is imperative on him to aim at. There is no greater sin than living beneath the possibilities of our lives, in any region, whether religious or other it matters not. Sin is not only going contrary to the known law of God, but also a falling beneath a divine ideal which is capable of realisation. And in regard to our Christian life, if God has flung open His temple-gates and said to us, ‘Come in, My child, and dwell in the secret place of the Most High, and abide there under the shadow of the Almighty, finding protection and communion and companionship in My worship,’ there can be nothing more insulting to Him, and nothing more fatally indicative of the alienation of our hearts from Him, than that we should refuse to obey the merciful invitation.

What should we say of a subject who never presented himself in the court to which he had the right of free entr饿 His absence would be a mark of disloyalty, and would be taken as a warning-bell in preparation for his rebellion. What should we say of a son or a daughter, living in the same city with their parents, who never crossed the threshold of the father’s house, but that they had lost the spirit of a child, and that if there was no desire to be near there could be no love?

So, if we will ask ourselves, ‘How often do I use this possibility of communion with God, which might irradiate all my daily life?’ I think we shall need little else, in the nature of evidence, that our piety and our religious experience are terribly stunted and dwarfed, in comparison with what they ought to be.

There is an old saying, ‘He that can tell how often he has thought of God in a day has thought of Him too seldom.’ I dare say many of us would have little difficulty in counting on the fingers of one hand, and perhaps not needing them all, the number of times in which, to-day, our thoughts have gone heavenwards. What we may be is what we ought to be, and not to use the prerogatives of our position is the worst of sins.

Again, my text suggests to us what every Christian life will hereafter perfectly be.

Some commentators take the words of my text to refer only to the communion of saints from the earth, with the glorified angels, in and after the Resurrection. That is a poor interpretation, for heaven is here to-day. But still there is a truth in the interpretation which we need not neglect. Only let us remember that nothing-so far as Scripture teaches us-begins yonder except the full reaping of the fruits of what has been sown here, and that if a man’s feet have not learned the path into the Temple when he was here upon earth, death will not be the guide for him into the Father’s presence. All that here has been imperfect, fragmentary, occasional, interrupted, and marred in our communion with God, shall one day be complete. And then, oh! then, who can tell what undreamed-of depths and sweetnesses of renewed communion and of intercourses begun, for the first time then, between ‘those that stand by,’ and have stood there for ages, will then be realised?

‘Ye are come’-even here on earth-’to an innumerable company of angels, to the general assembly and Church of the first-born,’ but for us all there may be the quiet hope that hereafter we shall ‘dwell in the house of the Lord for ever’; and ‘in solemn troops and sweet societies’ shall learn what fellowship, and brotherhood, and human love may be.

Lastly, notice, not from my text but from its context, how any life may become thus privileged.

The promise is preceded by a condition: ‘If thou wilt walk in My ways, and if thou wilt keep My charge, then . . . I will give thee access among those that stand by.’ That is to say, you cannot keep the consciousness of God’s presence, nor have any blessedness of communion with Him, if you are living in disobedience of His commandments or in neglect of manifest duty. A thin film of vapour in our sky tonight will hide the moon. Though the vapour itself may be invisible, it will be efficacious as a veil. And any sin, great or small, fleecy and thin, will suffice to shut me out from God. If we are keeping His commandments, then, and only then, shall we have access with free hearts into His presence.

But to lay down that condition seems the same thing as slamming the door in every man’s face. But let us remember what went before my text, the experience of the priest to whom it was spoken in the vision. His filthy garments were stripped off him, and the pure white robes worn on the great Day of Atonement, the sacerdotal dress, were put upon him. It is the cleansed man that has access among ‘those that stand by.’ And if you ask how the cleansing is to be effected, take the great words of the Epistle to the Hebrews as an all-sufficient answer, coinciding with, but transcending, what this vision taught Zechariah: ‘Having, therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest of all, by the blood of Jesus, . . . and having a High Priest over the house of God; let us draw near with a true heart, in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience.’ Cleansed by Christ, and with Him for our Forerunner, we have boldness and ‘access with confidence by the faith of Him,’ who proclaims to the whole world, ‘No man cometh to the Father but by Me.’

3:6-10 All whom God calls to any office he finds fit, or makes so. The Lord will cause the sins of the believer to pass away by his sanctifying grace, and will enable him to walk in newness of life. As the promises made to David often pass into promises of the Messiah, so the promises to Joshua look forward to Christ, of whose priesthood Joshua's was a shadow. Whatever trials we pass through, whatever services we perform, our whole dependence must rest on Christ, the Branch of righteousness. He is God's servant, employed in his work, obedient to his will, devoted to his honour and glory. He is the Branch from which all our fruit must be gathered. The eye of his Father was upon him, especially in his sufferings, and when he was buried in the grave, as the foundation-stones are under ground, out of men's sight. But the prophecy rather denotes the attention paid to this precious Corner-stone. All believers, from the beginning, had looked forward to it in the types and predictions. All believers, after Christ's coming, would look to it with faith, hope, and love. Christ shall appear for all his chosen, as the high priest when before the Lord, with the names of all Israel graven in the precious stones of his breastplate. When God gave a remnant to Christ, to be brought through grace to glory, then he engraved this precious stone. By him sin shall be taken away, both the guilt and the dominion of it; he did it in one day, that day in which he suffered and died. What should terrify when sin is taken away? Then nothing can hurt, and we sit down under Christ's shadow with delight, and are sheltered by it. And gospel grace, coming with power, makes men forward to draw others to it.If thou wilt walk in My ways and if thou wilt keep My charge - Both of these are expressions, dating from the Pentateuch, for holding on in the way of life, well-pleasing to God and keeping the charge given by God. It was the injunction of the dying David to Solomon, "Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes ..." 1 Kings 2:3.

Then shalt thou also judge My house - Judgment, in the place of God, was part of the high priest's office Deuteronomy 17:9-13; Deuteronomy 19:17; Malachi 2:7. Yet these judgments also were given in the house of God. The cause was directed to be brought to God, and He through His priests judged it. Both then may be comprehended in the world, the oversight of the people itself and the judgment of all causes brought to it. Jonathan: "Thou shalt judge those who minister in the house of My sanctuary."

And I will give thee place to walk among those who stand by - that is, among the ministering spirits, who were "standing before the Angel of the Lord" Zechariah 3:4. This can be fully only after death, when the saints shall be received among the several choirs of angels. Jonathan: "In the resurrection of the dead I will revive thee and give thee feet walking among these Seraphim." Even in this this since "our conversation is in heaven" Philippians 3:20, and the life of priests should be an angel-life, it may mean, that he should have free access to God, his soul in heaven, while his body was on this earth.

7. God's choice of Jerusalem (Zec 3:2) was unto its sanctification (Joh 15:16; Ro 8:29); hence the charge here which connects the promised blessing with obedience.

my charge—the ordinances, ritual and moral (Nu 3:28, 31, 32, 38; Jos 1:7-9; 1Ki 2:3; Eze 44:16).

judge my house—Thou shalt long preside over the temple ceremonial as high priest (Le 10:10; Eze 44:23; Mal 2:7) [Grotius]. Or, rule over My house, that is, My people [Maurer] (Nu 12:7; Ho 8:1). We know from De 17:9 that the priest judged cases. He was not only to obey the Mosaic institute himself, but to see that it was obeyed by others. God's people are similarly to exercise judgment hereafter, as the reward of their present faithfulness (Da 7:18, 22; Lu 19:17; 1Co 6:2); by virtue of their royal priesthood (Re 1:6).

keep my courts—guard My house from profanation.

places to walk—free ingress and egress (1Sa 18:16; 1Ki 3:7; 15:17), so that thou mayest go through these ministering angels who stand by Jehovah (Zec 4:14; 6:5; 1Ki 22:19) into His presence, discharging thy priestly function. In Eze 42:4 the same Hebrew word is used of a walk before the priests' chambers in the future temple. Zechariah probably refers here to such a walk or way; Thou shalt not merely walk among priests like thyself, as in the old temple walks, but among the very angels as thine associates. Hengstenberg translates, "I will give thee guides (from) among these," &c. But there is no "from" in the Hebrew; English Version is therefore better. Priests are called angels or "messengers" (Mal 2:7); they are therefore thought worthy to be associated with heavenly angels. So these latter are present at the assemblies of true Christian worshippers (1Co 11:10; compare Ec 5:6; Eph 3:10; Re 22:9).

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; the Father, whose will Christ reveals to us.

If thou Joshua, wilt walk in my ways; obey the precepts and holy commands of the law.

Wilt keep my charge; the special charge and office of the high priest.

Thou shalt also judge my house: be chief and ruler in the temple, and in the things that pertain to the worship of God there.

And shalt also keep my courts; not as a door-keeper or servant, but as the chief, on whom others may wait and give attendance; and at last shalt have place among glorious angels, Hebrews 12:22.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; the Father, whose will Christ reveals to us.

If thou Joshua, wilt walk in my ways; obey the precepts and holy commands of the law.

Wilt keep my charge; the special charge and office of the high priest.

Thou shalt also judge my house: be chief and ruler in the temple, and in the things that pertain to the worship of God there.

And shalt also keep my courts; not as a door-keeper or servant, but as the chief, on whom others may wait and give attendance; and at last shalt have place among glorious angels, Hebrews 12:22.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts,.... For this Angel was no other than the Lord of armies in heaven and in earth:

If thou wilt walk in my ways; prescribed in the word of God, moral, ceremonial, and evangelical; in Christ the grand way, and indeed the only way of salvation; and in the paths of faith, truth, righteousness, and holiness; in the ways of God's commandments, which are pleasant, and attended with peace; such a walk and conversation, and such obedience, the grace of God teaches, and obliges to:

and if thou wilt keep my charge; the things he gave in charge, all his commands and ordinances, particularly such as belonged to the priestly office and Levitical service; see Numbers 3:7 all which might be expected after so many favours granted:

then thou shall also judge my house, and shalt also keep my courts: preside in the temple, be governor in it, and have the care of all the courts belonging to the people and the priests, and the advantages arising from thence. The meaning is, that whereas the office of the priesthood was in disuse through the captivity, and was become contemptible through the sins of the priests, it should now be restored to its former honour and glory: to have a place in the house of God, the church, is a great honour, and still more to be a governor and ruler in it:

and I will give thee places to walk among those that stand by; either among fellow priests, or fellow saints; or rather among the angels that stood before the Angel of the Lord, and ministered to him; signifying that he should enjoy their company, be like unto then, and join in service with them in heaven, in a future state: and "walking places" among them denote the pleasures of the heavenly state, as well, as the safety and glory of it; see Isaiah 57:2. The Targum very agreeably paraphrases the words thus,

"and in the resurrection or quickening of the dead, I will raise or quicken thee; and I will give thee feet walking among these seraphim.''

The allusion is to those walks that were in the temple, such as Christ walked in, John 10:23 and the pavement in Ezekiel's temple, Ezekiel 40:17.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If thou wilt walk in my ways, and if thou wilt keep my charge, then thou shalt also {h} judge my house, and shalt also keep my {i} courts, and I will give thee places to walk among {k} these that stand by.

(h) That is, have rule and government in my Church, as your predecessors have had.

(i) By which he means to have the whole charge and ministry of the Church.

(k) That is, the angels, who represented the whole number of the faithful: signifying that all the godly would willingly receive him.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
7. judge my house] This may mean “my people,” Numbers 12:7; Hosea 8:1; the Jewish Church being spoken of, like the Christian, as the house of God, 1 Timothy 3:15. “Judgment, in the place of God, was part of the High Priest’s office.” (Pusey.) See Deuteronomy 17:8-13. But it may be used in its more obvious and restricted sense (comp. “my courts,” in the parallel clause) of the Temple with its priests and ministers.

places to walk] a place of access, R. V. text; meaning presumably of access to God. Thou shalt be admitted to the immediate presence and throne of God. There is no need, however, to depart from the rendering of A. V. and R. V. margin. Comp. Ezekiel 42:4 for the word, and see next note.

among these that stand by] i.e. among the angels, who were still standing round the Angel of Jehovah, in attendance upon Him as He spoke, Zechariah 3:4. The courts and chambers of the material house, so the promise runs, shall be places where angels ever come and go. The obedient priest shall realise in his ministry their presence and their fellowship. The material and the sensible shall fade away as it were from his sight, lost in the higher glory of the spiritual and the heavenly. The promise directly refers to the ministry of Joshua and his fellows and successors on earth; even if it includes a pledge of a higher ministry after death: “In the resurrection of the dead I will raise thee to life, and give thee feet walking among these Seraphim.” Targum. To one priest, we know, who walked in the ways and kept the charge of the Lord (Luke 1:6), the promise was literally fulfilled by the appearance of an angel to him in the Temple (Luke 3:11); and the readiness with which the people surmised what had happened (Luke 3:22) might seem to shew that his was not an altogether singular and unheard of experience.

Verse 7. - Walk in my ways. God's ways are his commandments, as the next words explain (comp. 1 Kings 3:14). Keep my charge. The Vulgate retains the Hebraism, Custodiam meam custodieris (comp. Genesis 26:5; Malachi 3:14). The charge means the laws and ordinances of the Mosaic institution. Then. The apodosis rightly begins here, though Kimchi and others make it commence at "I will give thee," taking the following two clauses as denoting parts of his duties, the observance of which conditioned his acceptance. Thou shalt also judge my house. The mention of "my courts" in the following clause requires that "house" here should mean, not people or family, but, in a more restricted sense, the temple, looked upon as the spiritual centre of the nation. If the high priest kept the ordinances and commandments, he should rule and order Divine worship, and "judge," i.e. govern, the ministers of the sanctuary. Keep my courts. He was to preserve the temple, and that which the temple represented, from all idolatry and ungodliness. This duty, as Hengstenberg observes, is introduced as a reward, because it was an honour and a privilege to be entrusted with such an office, and the greatest favour which God could confer upon man. Places to walk. The LXX. takes the word as a participle, translating, ἀναστερεφομένους, "persons walking;" so the Syriac; Vulgate, ambulantes. This is explained to mean that God will give him out of the band of angels (ver. 4), some to accompany and aid him in his ministrationS. But the word is best taken as a noun meaning "walks," "goings." The Revised Version gives, "a place of access" in the text, restoring the Authorized Version in the margin; but there seems to be no good reason for the Revised rendering. The translation, "goings," "walks," gives much the same signification, and is consonant with the use of the word elsewhere (comp. Nehemiah 2:6; Ezekiel 42:4; Jonah 3:9, 4). It means that Joshua should have free access to God. The gloss of the Targum, that it is here intimated that the high priest should be admitted to the company of the angels after the resurrection, is unsuitable, as the other parts of the promise have respect to this present world. Among these that stand by; i.e. among the attendant angels who wait upon God to do his will, and a company of whom were gathered round the Angel of Jehovah in the vision (see ver. 4). It is natural piety to believe that the hosts of heaven join in the worship of the Church on earth, and assist godly ministers with their presence and fellowship. Here is adumbrated that access to God which the Christian enjoys in Christ (John 14:6; Ephesians 2:18). This is more fully revealed in the next verse. Zechariah 3:7In these verses there follows a prophetic address, in which the angel of the Lord describes the symbolical action of the re-clothing of the high priest, according to its typical significance in relation to the continuance and the future of the kingdom of God. Zechariah 3:6. "And the angel of the Lord testified to Joshua, and said, Zechariah 3:7. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, If thou shalt walk in my ways, and keep my charge, thou shalt both judge my house and keep my courts, and I will give thee ways among these standing here. Zechariah 3:8. Hear then, thou high priest Joshua, thou, and thy comrades who sit before thee: yea, men of wonder are they: for, behold, I bring my servant Zemach (Sprout). Zechariah 3:9. For behold the stone which I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone are seven eyes: behold I engrave its carving, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and I clear away the iniquity of this land in one day. Zechariah 3:10. In that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, ye will invite one another under the vine and under the fig-tree." In Zechariah 3:7 not only is the high priest confirmed in his office, but the perpetuation and glorification of his official labours are promised. As Joshua appears in this vision as the supporter of the office, this promise does not apply to Joshua himself so much as to the office, the continuance of which is indeed bound up with the fidelity of those who sustain it. The promise in Zechariah 3:7 therefore begins by giving prominence to this condition: If thou wilt walk in my ways, etc. Walking in the ways of the Lord refers to the personal attitude of the priests towards the Lord, or to fidelity in their personal relation to God; and keeping the charge of Jehovah, to the faithful performance of their official duties (shâmar mishmartı̄, noticing what has to be observed in relation to Jehovah; see at Leviticus 8:35). The apodosis begins with וגם אתּה, and not with ונתתּי. This is required not only by the emphatic 'attâh, but also by the clauses commencing with vegam; whereas the circumstance, that the tense only changes with venâthattı̄, and that tâdı̄n and tishmōr are still imperfects, has its simple explanation in the fact, that on account of the gam, the verbs could not be linked together with Vav, and placed at the head of the clauses. Taken by themselves, the clauses vegam tâdı̄n and vegam tishmōr might express a duty of the high priest quite as well as a privilege. If they were taken as apodoses, they would express an obligation; but in that case they would appear somewhat superfluous, because the obligations of the high priest are fully explained in the two previous clauses. If, on the other hand, the apodosis commences with them, they contain, in the form of a promise, a privilege which is set before the high priest as awaiting him in the future - namely, the privilege of still further attending to the service of the house of God, which had been called in question by Satan's accusation. דּין את־בּיתי, to judge the house of God, i.e., to administer right in relation to the house of God, namely, in relation to the duties devolving upon the high priest in the sanctuary as such; hence the right administration of the service in the holy place and the holy of holies. This limitation is obvious from the parallel clause, to keep the courts, in which the care of the ordinary performance of worship in the courts, and the keeping of everything of an idolatrous nature from the house of God, are transferred to him. And to this a new and important promise is added in the last clause (ונהתּי וגו). The meaning of this depends upon the explanation given to the word מהלכים. Many commentators regard his as a Chaldaic form of the hiphil participle (after Daniel 3:25; Daniel 4:34), and take it either in the intransitive sense of "those walking" (lxx, Pesh., Vulg., Luth., Hofm., etc.), or in the transitive sense of those conducting the leaders (Ges., Hengst., etc.). But apart from the fact that the hiphil of הלך in Hebrew is always written either הוליך or היליך, and has never anything but a transitive meaning, this view is precluded by the בּין, for which we should expect מבּין or מן, since the meaning could only be, "I give thee walkers or leaders between those standing here," i.e., such as walk to and fro between those standing here (Hofmann), or, "I will give thee leaders among (from) these angels who are standing here" (Hengstenberg). In the former case, the high priest would receive a promise that he should always have angels to go to and fro between himself and Jehovah, to carry up his prayers, and bring down revelations from God, and supplies of help (John 1:51; Hofmann). This thought would be quite a suitable one; but it is not contained in the words, "since the angels, even if they walk between the standing angels and in the midst of them, do not go to and fro between Jehovah and Joshua" (Kliefoth). In the latter case the high priest would merely receive a general assurance of the assistance of superior angels; and for such a thought as this the expression would be an extremely marvellous one, and theבּין would be used incorrectly. We must therefore follow Calvin and others, who take מהלכין as a substantive, from a singular מהלך, formed after מחצב, מסמר, מזלג, or else as a plural of מהלך, to be pointed מהלכים (Ros., Hitzig, Kliefoth). The words then add to the promise, which ensured to the people the continuance of the priesthood and of the blessings which it conveyed, this new feature, that the high priest would also receive a free access to God, which had not yet been conferred upon him by his office. This points to a time when the restrictions of the Old Testament will be swept away. The further address, in Zechariah 3:8 and Zechariah 3:9, announces how God will bring about this new time or future.

To show the importance of what follows, Joshua is called upon to "hear." It is doubtful where what he is to hear commences; for the idea, that after the summons to attend, the successive, chain-like explanation of the reason for this summons passes imperceptibly into that to which he is to give heed, is hardly admissible, and has only been adopted because it was found difficult to discover the true commencement of the address. The earlier theologians (Chald., Jerome, Theod. Mops., Theodoret, and Calvin), and even Hitzig and Ewald, take כּי הנני מביא (for behold I will bring forth). But these words are evidently explanatory of אנשׁי מופת המּה (men of wonder, etc.). Nor can it commence with ūmashtı̄ (and I remove), as Hofmann supposes (Weiss. u. Erfll. i. 339), or with Zechariah 3:9, "for behold the stone," as he also maintains in his Schriftbeweis (ii. 1, pp. 292-3, 508-9). The first of these is precluded not only by the fact that the address would be cut far too short, but also by the cop. Vav before mashtı̄; and the second by the fact that the words, "for behold the stone," etc., in Zechariah 3:9, are unmistakeably a continuation and further explanation of the words, "for behold I will bring forth my servant Zemach," in Zechariah 3:9. The address begins with "thou and thy fellows," since the priests could not be called upon to hear, inasmuch as they were not present. Joshua's comrades who sit before him are the priests who sat in the priestly meetings in front of the high priest, the president of the assembly, so that yōshēbh liphnē corresponds to our "assessors." The following kı̄ introduces the substance of the address; and when the subject is placed at the head absolutely, it is used in the sense of an asseveration, "yea, truly" (cf. Genesis 18:20; Psalm 118:10-12; Psalm 128:2; and Ewald, 330, b). 'Anshē mōphēth, men of miracle, or of a miraculous sign, as mōphēth, τὸ τέρας, portentum, miraculum, embraces the idea of אות, σημεῖον (cf. Isaiah 8:18), are men who attract attention to themselves by something striking, and are types of what is to come, so that mōphēth really corresponds to τύπος τῶν μελλόντων (see at Exodus 4:21; Isaiah 8:18). המּה stands for אתּם, the words passing over from the second person to the third on the resuming of the subject, which is placed at the head absolutely, just as in Zephaniah 2:12, and refers not only to רעיך, but to Joshua and his comrades. They are men of typical sign, but not simply on account of the office which they hold, viz., because their mediatorial priesthood points to the mediatorial office and atoning work of the Messiah, as most of the commentators assume. For "this applies, in the first place, not only to Joshua and his priests, but to the Old Testament priesthood generally; and secondly, there was nothing miraculous in this mediatorial work of the priesthood, which must have been the case if they were to be mōphēth. The miracle, which is to be seen in Joshua and his priests, consists rather in the fact that the priesthood of Israel is laden with guilt, but by the grace of God it has been absolved, and accepted by God again, as the deliverance from exile shows," and Joshua and his priests are therefore brands plucked by the omnipotence of grace from the fire of merited judgment (Kliefoth). This miracle of grace which has been wrought for them, points beyond itself to an incomparably greater and better act of the sin-absolving grace of God, which is still in the future.

This is the way in which the next clause, "for I bring my servant Zemach," which is explanatory of 'anshē mōphēth (men of miracle), attaches itself. The word Tsemach is used by Zechariah simply as a proper name of the Messiah; and the combination ‛abhdı̄ Tsemach (my servant Tsemach) is precisely the same as ‛abhdı̄ Dâvid (my servant David) in Ezekiel 34:23-24; Ezekiel 37:24, or "my servant Job" in Job 1:8; Job 2:3, etc. The objection raised by Koehler - namely, that if tsemach, as a more precise definition of ‛abhdı̄ (my servant), or as an announcement what servant of Jehovah is intended, were used as a proper name, it would either be construed with the article (הצּמח), or else we should have עבדּי צמח שׁמו as in Zechariah 6:12 - is quite groundless. For "if poets or prophets form new proper names at pleasure, such names, even when deprived of the article, easily assume the distinguishing sign of most proper names, like bâgōdâh and meshūbhâh in Jeremiah 3" (Ewald, 277, c). It is different with שׁמו in Zechariah 6:12; there shemō is needed for the sake of the sense, as in 1 Samuel 1:1 and Job 1:1, and does not serve to designate the preceding word as a proper name, but simply to define the person spoken of more precisely by mentioning his name. Zechariah has formed the name Tsemach, Sprout, or Shoot, primarily from Jeremiah 23:5 and Jeremiah 33:15, where the promise is given that a righteous Sprout (tsemach tsaddı̄q), or a Sprout of righteousness, shall be raised up to Jacob. And Jeremiah took the figurative description of the great descendant of David, who will create righteousness upon the earth, as a tsemach which Jehovah will raise up, or cause to shoot up to David, from Isaiah 11:1-2; Isaiah 53:2, according to which the Messiah is to spring up as a rod out of the stem of Jesse that has been hewn down, or as a root-shoot out of dry ground. Tsemach, therefore, denotes the Messiah in His origin from the family of David that has fallen into humiliation, as a sprout which will grow up from its original state of humiliation to exaltation and glory, and answers therefore to the train of thought in this passage, in which the deeply humiliated priesthood is exalted by the grace of the Lord into a type of the Messiah. Whether the designation of the sprout as "my servant" is taken from Isaiah 52:13 and Isaiah 53:11 (cf. Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:3), or formed after "my servant David" in Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:24, is a point which cannot be decided, and is of no importance to the matter in hand. The circumstance that the removal of iniquity, which is the peculiar work of the Messiah, is mentioned in Ezekiel 37:9, furnishes no satisfactory reason for deducing ‛abhdı̄ tsemach pre-eminently from Isaiah 53:1-12. For in Zechariah 3:9 the removal of iniquity is only mentioned in the second rank, in the explanation of Jehovah's purpose to bring His servant Tsemach. The first rank is assigned to the stone, which Jehovah has laid before Joshua, etc.

The answer to the question, what this stone signifies, or who is to be understood by it, depends upon the view we take of the words עינים ... על אבן. Most of the commentators admit that these words do not form a parenthesis (Hitzig, Ewald), but introduce a statement concerning הנּה האבן. Accordingly, הנּה האבן וגו is placed at the head absolutely, and resumed in על אבן אחת. This statement may mean, either upon one stone are seven eyes (visible or to be found), or seven eyes are directed upon one stone. For although, in the latter case, we should expect אל instead of על (according to Psalm 33:18; Psalm 34:16), שׂים עין על does occur in the sense of the exercise of loving care (Genesis 44:21; Jeremiah 39:12; Jeremiah 40:4). But if the seven eyes were to be seen upon the stone, they could only be engraved or drawn upon it. And what follows, הנני מפתּח וגו, does not agree with this, inasmuch as, according to this, the engraving upon the stone had now first to take place instead of having been done already, since hinnēh followed by a participle never expresses what has already occurred, but always what is to take place in the future. For this reason we must decide that the seven eyes are directed towards the stone, or watch over it with protecting care. But this overthrows the view held by the expositors of the early church, and defended by Kliefoth, namely, that the stone signifies the Messiah, after Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:2, - a view with which the expression nâthattı̄, "given, laid before Joshua," can hardly be reconciled, even if this meant that Joshua was to see with his own eyes, as something actually present, that God was laying the foundation-stone. Still less can we think of the foundation-stone of the temple (Ros., Hitz.), since this had been laid long ago, and we cannot see for what purpose it was to be engraved; or of the stone which, according to the Rabbins, occupied the empty place of the ark of the covenant in the most holy place of the second temple (Hofmann); or of a precious stone in the breastplate of the high priest. The stone is the symbol of the kingdom of God, and is laid by Jehovah before Joshua, by God's transferring to him the regulation of His house and the keeping of His courts (before, liphnē, in a spiritual sense, as in 1 Kings 9:6, for example). The seven eyes, which watch with protecting care over this stone, are not a figurative representation of the all-embracing providence of God; but, in harmony with the seven eyes of the Lamb, which are the seven Spirits of God (Revelation 5:6), and with the seven eyes of Jehovah (Zechariah 4:10), they are the sevenfold radiations of the Spirit of Jehovah (after Isaiah 11:2), which show themselves in vigorous action upon this stone, to prepare it for its destination. This preparation is called pittēăch pittuchâh in harmony with the figure of the stone (cf. Ezekiel 28:9, Ezekiel 28:11). "I will engrave the engraving thereof," i.e., engrave it so as to prepare it for a beautiful and costly stone. The preparation of this stone, i.e., the preparation of the kingdom of God established in Israel, by the powers of the Spirit of the Lord, is one feature in which the bringing of the tsemach will show itself. The other consists in the wiping away of the iniquity of this land. Mūsh is used here in a transitive sense, to cause to depart, to wipe away. הארץ ההיא (that land) is the land of Canaan or Judah, which will extend in the Messianic times over the whole earth. The definition of the time, beyōm 'echâd, cannot of course mean "on one and the same day," so as to affirm that the communication of the true nature to Israel, namely, of one well pleasing to God, and the removal of guilt from the land, would take place simultaneously (Hofmann, Koehler); but the expression "in one day" is substantially the same as ἐφάπαξ in Hebrews 7:27; Hebrews 9:12; Hebrews 10:10, and affirms that the wiping away of sin to be effected by the Messiah (tsemach) will not resemble that effected by the typical priesthood, which had to be continually repeated, but will be all finished at once. This one day is the day of Golgotha. Accordingly, the thought of this verse is the following: Jehovah will cause His servant Tsemach to come, because He will prepare His kingdom gloriously, and exterminate all the sins of His people and land at once. By the wiping away of all guilt and iniquity, not only of that which rests upon the land (Koehler), but also of that of the inhabitants of the land, i.e., of the whole nation, all the discontent and all the misery which flow from sin will be swept away, and a state of blessed peace will ensue for the purified church of God. This is the thought of the tenth verse, which is formed after Micah 4:4 and 1 Kings 5:5, and with which the vision closes. The next vision shows the glory of the purified church.

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