Then answered I, and said to him, What are these two olive trees on the right side of the candlestick and on the left side thereof?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Zechariah 4:11-14. Then answered I — Or, Then spake I, the Hebrew word ענהbeing not only used of giving an answer to a question, but likewise of beginning or continuing a discourse. What are these two olive-trees, &c. — The prophet had learned the meaning of the candlestick and its lamps, and now wants to know what the two olive-trees signify; and no answer being given to his question, he immediately proceeds to ask another; and in the answer given to it he acquiesces. Observe, reader, those that would be acquainted with the things of God, must be inquisitive concerning them. They must inquire of those who understand them, and they shall receive information; and if satisfactory answers be not given them at first, or quickly, let them renew their inquiries, praying for light from God, and the vision shall at length speak, and not lie. The prophet’s second question differs a little, yet not much, from the former.
I answered again, says he, What be these two olive-branches? — Two principal branches, one from each tree, extending to the golden candlestick, and communicating to it, through two golden pipes, fastened to the golden bowl, the golden oil, out of themselves — That is, the clear, bright oil, the best of its kind, and of great value. And he answered, Knowest thou not what these be? — If thou knowest the candlestick to be the church, must thou not suppose that the olive-trees and the olive-branches are emblems of the means which God hath provided to communicate to it his truth and grace? The prophet having again acknowledged his ignorance, the angel says, These are the two anointed ones — Hebrew, בני היצהר, sons of oil, as in the margin. As by the candlestick we understand the visible church, particularly that of the Jews at that time, for whose comfort this vision was primarily intended, these sons of oil, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth, are the two great ordinances and offices of the magistracy and ministry, at that time lodged in the hands of those two great and good men, Zerubbabel and Joshua. This prince, this priest, were sons of oil, anointed of God, or endued with the gifts and graces of his Spirit, to qualify them for the work to which they were called. They stood before the Lord of the whole earth, to minister to him, and to receive direction from him; and a great influence they had upon the affairs of the church at that time; for their wisdom, courage, and zeal were continually emptying themselves into the golden bowl, to keep the lamps burning; and when they should be removed, others would be raised up to carry on the same work, and Israel should not be left without prince and priest. Thus Grotius, Lowth, Henry, Dodd, and several later interpreters, understand the clause. By the two anointed ones, says Archbishop Newcome, “Zerubbabel and Joshua may be meant; who presided over the temporal and spiritual affairs of the Jews; were the ministers, or vicegerents, of Jehovah; and acted not by their own strength, but by the divine assistance;” Zechariah 4:6. “It is plain,” adds he, “that the golden candlestick is the Jewish state, both civil and religious: and that the oil, with which the lights are supplied, is the Spirit of God, in opposition to human efforts.” But though the candlestick here may primarily signify the Jewish Church, yet, in a secondary sense, it was also undoubtedly intended to be a figure of the Christian Church; and Zerubbabel and Joshua were types of the Messiah, and their offices emblematical of his offices, who, as is said Zechariah 6:13, sits and rules upon his throne, and is a priest upon his throne: who is not only the anointed one himself, but in his mysterious person, as God and man, is the good olive to his church, supplying it with the golden oil of saving grace, and communicating to believers out of his fulness the unction, or anointing of the Holy Spirit, John 1:16; 1 John 2:20-27.
Dr. Blayney, however, gives a different explanation of this passage. By the candlestick, indeed, he understands the church of God, both under the Jewish and Christian dispensations: but, in Zechariah 4:12, instead of two olive- branches, he reads, two orderers of the olive-trees, understanding by the olive-trees “the two dispensations of the law and the gospel, under which were communicated the precious oracles of divine truth, which illuminate the soul, and make men wise unto salvation;” and by the orderers, or directors, of these dispensations, Moses and Christ, the two sons of oil, or anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth, fulfilling his will and executing his commands. “Of the latter of these,” says he, “it is expressly said, Isaiah 61:1, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because the Lord hath anointed me, &c. Nor do I conceive that any other can be meant by the two witnesses, appointed to prophesy for a certain time, clothed in sackcloth, Revelation 11:3; the next verse plainly showing, that an allusion is there made to this prophecy of Zechariah, concerning the candlestick and olive-trees, though not with all that accuracy of citation which we should look for at present. These are the two olive-trees and the two candlesticks, standing before the God of the earth, Revelation 11:4.” Zechariah 4:3. Zechariah 4:1,
What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick, and upon the left side thereof? in Zechariah 4:2 they are said to be on each side of the bowl. The mystery of the candlestick being explained to Zechariah by the angel, the prophet desires to know the meaning of the two olive trees that were on the right and left of it, one on one side, and the other on the other side.Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)Verse 11. - Then answered I. The prophet had received a general explanation of the vision; he had probably understood that the candelabrum represented the theocracy, of whose restoration and life the temple was the symbol and vehicle. One point was still obscure, and he asks, What are these two olive trees? (ver. 3). To this question no answer is immediately forthcoming, the answer being delayed in order to augment the prophet's desire of understanding the vision, and to induce him to make the question more definite. Habakkuk 3:16-19 form the second part of the psalm, in which the prophet describes the feelings that are produced within himself by the coming of the Lord to judge the nations, and to rescue His own people; viz., first of all, fear and trembling at the tribulation (Habakkuk 3:16, Habakkuk 3:17); then exulting joy, in his confident trust in the God of salvation (Habakkuk 3:18, Habakkuk 3:19). Habakkuk 3:16. "I heard it, then my belly trembled, at the sound my lips yelled; rottenness forces itself into my bones, and I tremble under myself, that I am to wait quietly for the day of tribulation, when he that attacketh it approacheth the nation. Habakkuk 3:17. For the fig-tree will not blossom, and there is no yield on the vines; the produce of the olive-tree disappoints, and the corn-fields bear no food; the flock is away from the fold, and no ox in the stalls." שׁמעתּי is not connected with the theophany depicted in Habakkuk 3:3-15, since this was not an audible phenomenon, but was an object of inward vision, "a spectacle which presented itself to the eye." "I heard" corresponds to "I have heard" in Habakkuk 3:2, and, like the latter, refers to the report heard from God of the approaching judgment. This address goes back to its starting-point, to explain the impression which it made upon the prophet, and to develop still how he "was afraid." The alarm pervades his whole body, belly, and bones, i.e., the softer and firmer component parts of the body; lips and feet, i.e., the upper and lower organs of the body. The lips cried leqōl, at the voice, the sound of God, which the prophet heard. Tsâlal is used elsewhere only of the ringing of the ears (1 Samuel 3:11; 2 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 19:3); but here it is applied to the chattering sound produced by the lips, when they smite one another before crying out, not to the chattering of the teeth. Into the bones there penetrates râqâbh, rottenness, inward consumption of the bones, as an effect of alarm or pain, which paralyzes all the powers, and takes away all firmness from the body (cf. Proverbs 12:4; Proverbs 14:30). Tachtai, under me, i.e., in my lower members, knees, feet: not as in Exodus 16:29; 2 Samuel 2:23, on the spot where I stand (cf. Ewald, 217, k). אשׁר אנוּח might mean, "I who was to rest;" but it is more appropriate to take 'ăsher as a relative conjunction, "that I," since the clause explains the great fear that had fallen upon him. אשׁר is used in a similar way viz., as a conjunction with the verb in the first person, in Ezekiel 29:29. Nūăch, to rest, not to rest in the grave (Luther and others), nor to bear quietly or endure (Ges., Maurer), but to wait quietly or silently. For it could hardly occasion such consuming pain to a God-fearing man as that which the prophet experienced, to bear misfortune quietly, when it has already come, and cannot be averted; but it might be to wait quietly and silently, in constant anticipation. Tsârâh, the trouble which the Chaldaeans bring upon Judah. לעלות is not subordinate to ליום צרה, but co-ordinate with it, and is still dependent upon אנוּח; and יגוּדנּוּ, as a relative clause (who oppresses it), is the subject to לעלות: "that I am to wait quietly for him that attacketh to approach my nation." For if לעלוי were dependent upon ליום, it would be necessary to supply יום as the subject: "when it (the day) comes." But this is precluded by the fact that עלה is not used for the approach or breaking of day. לעם, to the people, dativ. incomm., is practically equivalent to על עם, against the people. עם, used absolutely, as in Isaiah 26:11; Isaiah 42:6, is the nation of Israel. Gūd, as in Genesis 49:19-20, i.e., gâdad, to press upon a person, to attack him, or crowd together against him (cf. Psalm 94:21). In Habakkuk 3:17 the trouble of this day is described; and the sensation of pain, in the anticipation of the period of calamity, is thereby still further accounted for. The plantations and fields yield no produce. Folds and stalls are empty in consequence of the devastation of the land by the hostile troops and their depredations: "a prophetic picture of the devastation of the holy land by the Chaldaean war" (Delitzsch). Fig-tree and vine are mentioned as the noblest fruit-trees of the land, as is frequently the case (see Joel 1:7; Hosea 2:14; Micah 4:4). To this there is added the olive-tree, as in Micah 6:15; Deuteronomy 6:11; Deuteronomy 8:8, etc. Ma‛asēh zayith is not the shoot, but the produce or fruit of the olive-tree, after the phrase עשׂה פרי, to bear fruit. Kichēsh, to disappoint, namely the expectation of produce, as in Hosea 9:2. Shedēmôth, which only occurs in the plural, corn-fields, is construed here as in Isaiah 16:8, with the verb in the singular, because, so far as the sense was concerned, it had become almost equivalent to sâdeh, the field (see Ewald, 318, a). Gâzar, to cut off, used here in a neuter sense: to be cut off or absent. מכלה, contracted from מכלאה: fold, pen, an enclosed place for sheep. Repheth, ἁπ. λεγ., the rack, then the stable or stall.
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