Zechariah 4:2
And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
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4:1-7 The prophet's spirit was willing to attend, but the flesh was weak. We should beg of God that, whenever he speaks to us, he would awaken us, and we should then stir up ourselves. The church is a golden candlestick, or lamp-bearer, set up for enlightening this dark world, and holding forth the light of Divine revelation. Two olive trees were seen, one on each side the candlestick, from which oil flowed into the bowl without ceasing. God brings to pass his gracious purposes concerning his church, without any art or labour of man; sometimes he makes use of his instruments, yet he needs them not. This represented the abundance of Divine grace, for the enlightening and making holy the ministers and members of the church, and which cannot be procured or prevented by any human power. The vision assures us that the good work of building the temple, should be brought to a happy end. The difficulty is represented as a great mountain. But all difficulties shall vanish, and all the objections be got over. Faith will remove mountains, and make them plains. Christ is our Zerubbabel; mountains of difficulty were in the way of his undertaking, but nothing is too hard for him. What comes from the grace of God, may, in faith, be committed to the grace of God, for he will not forsake the work of his own hands.And I said, I have looked and behold a candlestick all of gold - The candlestick is the seven-branched candlestick of the tabernacle Exodus 25:31, but with variations purposely introduced to symbolize the fuller and more constant supply of the oil, itself the symbol of God's Holy Spirit, who:

"Enables with perpetual light

The dullness of our blinded sight."

The first variation is "her bowl on the top of the candlestick," containing the oil; then (as dependent on this) the pipes to derive the oil into each lamp, "seven several pipes to the seven lamps," that is, seven to each; and the two olive trees on either side of the bowl, whose extreme and fine branches poured through two golden pipes the golden oil into the bowl which supplied the lamp. The multiplied conduits imply the large and perfect supply of oil unceasingly supplied, the seven being symbolic of perfection or of the reconciling of God (symbolized by 3) unto the world (symbolized by 4, its four quarters); the spontaneous flow of the golden oil from the olive trees symbolizes the free gift of God.

2. candlestick—symbolizing the Jewish theocracy; and ultimately, the Church of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the light-bearer (so the original is of "lights," Mt 5:14, 16; Php 2:15) to the world.

all … gold—all pure in doctrine and practice, precious and indestructible; such is the true ideal of the Church; such she shall be (Ps 45:13).

bowl upon the top—In the candlestick of the tabernacle the plural is used, bowls (Ex 25:31). The Hebrew implies that it was the fountain of supply of oil to the lamps. Christ at the head ("on the top") of the Church is the true fountain, of whose fulness of the Spirit all we receive grace (Joh 1:16).

his seven lamps—united in one stem; so in Ex 25:32. But in Re 1:12 the seven candlesticks are separate. The Gentile churches will not realize their unity till the Jewish Church as the stem unites all the lamps in one candlestick (Ro 11:16-24). The "seven lamps," in Re 4:5, are the "seven Spirits of God."

seven pipes—feeding tubes, seven apiece from the "bowl" to each lamp (see Margin) [Maurer and Calvin]; literally, "seven and seven": forty-nine in all. The greater the number of oil-feeding pipes, the brighter the light of the lamps. The explanation in Zec 4:6 is, that man's power by itself can neither retard nor advance God's work, that the real motive-power is God's Spirit. The seven times seven imply the manifold modes by which the Spirit's grace is imparted to the Church in her manifold work of enlightening the world.

What seest thou? what dost thou discern, of that thou didst before, half asleep half awake, see, but didst not observe?

I have looked; since awakened and roused, I have very diligently viewed and observed, and I see.

A candlestick: by God’s appointment there was a candlestick to be made, as an utensil and ornament of the temple, Exodus 25:31.

All of gold; so was the candlestick to be for the temple, all of pure gold, Exodus 37:17.

A bowl, or basin, or round and large oil cruet, capable of so much oil as would suffice to feed all the lamps in the candlestick.

Upon the top of it; on the highest part of the candlestick, on the top of the candlestick on the top of the shaft, or on the head of the candlestick.

Seven lamps; either so many, because the temple candlestick had just so many, or because of some perfection supposed to be in this septenary number.

Seven pipes; one pipe to each lamp, the mouth of which pipe joined to the bowl or basin, and received oil from it; the other end of the pipe fastened to the lamp conveyed oil into the lamp.

To the seven lamps; so each of the seven lamps had a pipe reaching from it to the bowl or basin.

On the top thereof: these lamps were so set as to stand somewhat higher than the body of the candlestick.

And said unto me, What seest thou?.... That is, after he was awake, and had looked about him:

And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold; such an one as was in the tabernacle of Moses, only with this difference; that had no bowl on the top, nor seven pipes to it, nor two olive trees on each side of it, with two pipes to them, Exodus 25:31 such a candlestick was never in being, only in vision; and is an emblem of the church of Christ, into which the light of the Gospel is put by Christ, and held forth by it, and especially by its ministers; see Revelation 1:12 for the light put into this candlestick, the church, is not the light of nature or reason, which is "the candle of the Lord searching into the inward parts" of man; by which he may discern somewhat the being and perfections of God in his works, and of moral good and evil; but it is too dim to direct and guide him in the affair of salvation: nor the law of Moses, said to be a light, and a lamp; by which men might come to the knowledge of sin, but not of a Saviour from it: but the light of the glorious Gospel of Christ, which was like a candle lighted up in the evening of the Jewish dispensation, and placed in the Christian church; and gave light, not only to the saints in Judea, but in all parts of the world, whither it has been carried; for this candlestick is portable, and has been removed from place to place; and wherever it is set, it gives light, and removes the darkness of error, infidelity, and immorality; and is useful to direct the saints in their walk and conversation, and render them more capable of working with delight and pleasure; and will blaze out more brightly in the end of the world, when it is about to be no more; and by the light of it lost sinners, like the lost piece of silver, are looked up, strayed ones are brought back, and backsliders restored; hypocrites and formalists, heretics and false teachers, and their doctrines, are discovered and detected; and saints are enlightened, comforted, and directed: and this candlestick being "all of gold" may denote the value of it; the true church of Christ, and the real members of it, are highly esteemed by Christ; the precious sons of Zion are comparable to fine gold, jewels, and precious stones; they are the excellent in the earth, in whom is his delight: and likewise its brightness and purity, splendour and glory; its members being possessed of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, of the pure and glorious doctrines of the Gospel, and exercising holy discipline, and living holy lives and conversations: and also the duration of it, which will be to the end of the world, the gates of hell not being able to prevail against it; and which is continued, not by might or power of man, but by the Spirit of the Lord, and his grace, which is sufficient for it, and with which it is supplied; not by any natural or artificial means, but by a wonderful and uncommon manner; signified by oil not pressed from the olive by the help of man, but flowing from two olive trees, on both sides the candlestick, of itself, freely, and constantly. This candlestick may primarily respect, and may be an emblem of, the then present state of the Jewish church, when this vision was seen; and point at how it was raised up, restored, and preserved; but has a further view to the church of God, under the Gospel dispensation, unto the end of the world:

with a bowl upon the top of it; an oil vessel, or cruet, round, and large enough to hold the oil, which supplied it, and each of its lamps, whereby its light was maintained and continued; and this may intend, either the fulness of grace in Christ, which is as "a fountain", as the word (l) here used signifies, Joshua 15:19 to supply his church and people; and from whence they have the oil of grace in measure, which is in him without measure, whereby their lamps are filled, and their lights are kept burning; and who is fitly placed as the Head of the church for this purpose, as this bowl was upon the top of the candlestick: or rather, since this "bowl" is but a measure, though it may be a large one it may signify that large portion of gifts and grace which is communicated to the church in all ages, and abides in it, and is severally divided to the ministers and members of it, for its profit and edification; to one one gift, to another another; to some greater, and others less; and all for mutual good; and which are given forth from Christ and his Spirit; who, as Capellus thinks, may be meant by the two olive trees, who of themselves, without pressing, having all fulness of grace in them without measure, freely and liberally impart it; and keep filling the bowl, so that there is constantly a supply of the Spirit, and grace for the church and people of Christ in all ages; according to Isaiah 59:21 "my Spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed's seed saith the Lord, from henceforth, and for ever". Cocceius thinks the merit of Christ is meant by this bowl or cup, by which he obtained the promise of the Spirit:

and his seven lamps thereon; on the candlestick; such a number of lamps were on the candlestick in the tabernacle, Exodus 25:37 and may design the many members of the church bearing the lamps of profession; or rather the ministers of the Gospel, who are the lights of the world, and bright and burning ones, that hold forth the word of life both in doctrine and conversation; unless the gifts and graces of the Spirit, qualifying them for such work, should be meant; see Revelation 4:5 but rather ministers themselves are designed, who are called lights and lamps, Matthew 5:14 and the number seven, being a number of perfection, may denote a fulness and sufficiency of Gospel ministers, which Christ furnishes his church with, and will do unto the end of the world; he having a perfection of gifts in his hands for them, to fit them for his service; just as these are called the "seven pillars" of Wisdom's house, Proverbs 9:1. Cocceius thinks by these seven lamps are intended the seven churches, or the seven states of the church under several periods in the Gospel dispensation; the same with the seven churches of Asia, and the seven golden candlesticks, in the midst of which Christ was seen by John, Revelation 1:4,

and seven pipes to the seven lamps which were upon the top thereof; these pipes, infusers or funnels, were at the bottom of the bowl, in which were so many holes, that let out the oil into them, by which it was carried to the lamps; a pipe to every lamp. In the Hebrew text it is, "seven and seven pipes" (m); that is, fourteen, two to every lamp; which Fortunatus Scacchus (n) thinks, they being joined to one another, the one put in the neck of the other, were for the better cleansing and purifying of the oil from any dregs that might be in it. Jarchi is of opinion there were seven to every lamp, in all forty nine, but without any foundation: by these are meant, not the seven sacraments, as say the Papists; but either the various gifts of the Spirit, fitting ministers for their service; or the various means they make use of to learn the mind of Christ in the Scriptures, to know the Gospel, and more of it, that they may hold it forth to others; such as reading, meditation, and prayer.

(l) "fons", Pembellus; "scaturigo", Sanctius. (m) "septem et septem", Pagninus, Montanus, Calvin, Piscator. (n) Sacrer. Elaeochrism. Myrothec. l. 1. c. 10. p. 53.

And said to me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a {a} lamp stand all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and its seven lamps, and seven {b} pipes to the seven lamps, which were upon the top of it:

(a) Which was ever in the midst of the temple, signifying that the graces of God's Spirit would shine, here in most abundance, and in all perfection.

(b) Which conveyed the oil that dropped from the trees into the lamps, so that the light never went out: and this vision was to strengthen and encourage the faithful that God had sufficient power in himself to continue his graces, and to bring his promise to pass even though he had no help from man.

2. I have looked] Rather, I have seen, the word being the same as in the Angel’s question, What seest thou?

A candlestick all of gold] The word here used for candlestick (though not restricted to that, 2 Kings 4:10) is always used of the candlestick in the Tabernacle. That too, like this, was “all of gold.” Exodus 25:31. “It has been calculated to have been worth £5,076, exclusive of workmanship.” Dict. of Bible, Art. Candlestick. In Solomon’s Temple there were ten candlesticks (1 Kings 7:49; 2 Chronicles 4:7; comp. Jeremiah 52:19), either in addition to, or instead of, the one in the Tabernacle. In Zerubbabel’s Temple one candlestick only again was seen, as we learn from this passage and 1Ma 1:23; 1Ma 4:49; as well as from the sculpture on the Arch of Titus.

a bowl] Rather, its bowl, or reservoir. The candlestick in the Tabernacle had no bowl of this kind. The “bowls” which it had (Exodus 25:31; Exodus 25:33-34; Exodus 37:17; Exodus 37:19-20;—quite a different Heb. word from that here used, and rendered cups in R. V.) were ornaments like scallop-shells, or the calix of a flower, on the shaft and branches of the candlestick. The lamps were trimmed daily by the priests (Exodus 27:21). “They were each supplied with cotton and half a log of the purest olive-oil (about two wine-glasses) which was sufficient to keep them burning during a long night.” Dict. of Bible. The use of the same word as here for the bowl of a hanging lamp, suspended from the ceiling by a “silver cord,” the giving way of which causes the lamp to fall to the ground and be shattered, Ecclesiastes 12:6, has led some to think that the lamp in Zechariah’s vision was hanging also. This, however, is improbable. The addition of the bowl to the holy candlestick has its obvious meaning: “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit,” Zechariah 4:6. No human agency is now needed. The bowl yields a ceaseless supply of oil.

seven pipes to the seven lamps] This has been variously interpreted to mean either one, two, or seven pipes connecting each lamp with the oil-bowl. The most natural interpretation of our present Hebrew text is, that each lamp of the candlestick was connected by seven pipes with the bowl which fed it with oil, and that the large and perfect number of pipes is intended to symbolise the plentifulness of the supply. There are seven pipes to each of the lamps. R. V.

Verse 2. - What seest thou? The angel does not show the vision to the prophet, but makes him describe it, and then explains its import. This vision of the candlestick, with its seven lamps fed by two olive trees, signifies that the work of rebuilding the temple, and preparing the way for the Church of the true Israel, was to be accomplished by relying, not on human resources, but on Divine aid. Thus were Zerubbabel and his people roused to perseverance and energy in their good work, of which the final sucess is assured. I have looked; ἑώρακα (Septuagint), "I have seen." A candlestick all of gold. The candelabrum as described differs in some particulars from that in the tabernacle, though the same word, menorath, is used in both cases (Exodus 25:31; Exodus 37:17, etc.). In Solomon's temple there were ten candelabra (1 Kings 7:49), which were carried away to Babylon when Jerusalem was taken (Jeremiah 52:19). The single candelabrum of Zerubbabel's temple is mentioned in 1 Macc. 1:21 1 Macc. 4:49, 50. The one sculptured on the arch of Titus may be a truthful representation of that in Herod's temple, but probably is not the same as that in the second edifice (comp. Josephus, 'Ant.,' 14:04, 4). The candelabrum in the vision differed from the original one in three particulars: it had a central reservoir; it had also seven pipes; and it was supplied with oil by two olive trees. With a (its) howl upon the top of it. The "bowl" (gullah) is a reservoir for oil placed at the top of the candelabrum; and from it tubes led the oil for the supply of the lamps. In the tabernacle each lamp was separate, and trimmed and filled by the ministering priests; the mystic lamps needed no human agency to keep them supplied. They were fed by the "bowl." The word is translated in the Septuagint, λαμπάδιον: in the Vulgate, lampas; hence some have supposed that, besides the seven lamps, there was another large light in the centre; but the Greek and Latin rendering is mistaken, the word meaning "a fountain" (Joshua 15:19), or "a ball" (1 Kings 7:41), or "a round bowl" (Ecclesiastes 12:6). And seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof. The Hebrew is, literally rendered, seven and seven pipes to the lamps which are upon its top. The LXX. translates, Καὶ ἑπτὰ ἐπαρυστρίδες τοῖς λύχνοις τοῖς ἐπάνω αὐτῆς, "And seven vessels for the lamps which are upon it;" so the Vulgate, Septem infusoria lucernis, quae erant super caput ejus. These versions imply that there was one supply pipe to each of the lamps, which seems most natural. In this case, the first "seven" in the text must be an interpolation. Commentators who regard the present reading as correct have taken various ways in explaining it. Some multiply the number into itself, and make the pipes forty-nine; but this is unwarranted by Hebrew usage (Henderson). Others add the numbers together, making fourteen; but here again the copulative vau, which implies diversity, is an objection. The Revised Version has, "There are seven pipes to each of the lamps, taking the words distributively; but the number of tubes seems here to be unnecessarily large. Dr. Wright considers that there were two pipes to each lamp, one set connecting each to the central bowl, and one connecting the several lamps together. One, however, does not see of what particular use the second set is. Dr. Wright, p. 84, gives a drawing of the candelabrum with its appurtenances, according to his notion of the vision. The Authorized Version seems to give the correct idea of the passage, whether we arrive at it by rejecting the first "seven," or by considering that it is repeated for emphasis' sake, as Cornelius Lapide and Pressel think: "Seven are the lamps upon it - seven, I say, and seven the pipes." Take it as we may, the point is that the oil is well and copiously supplied to the several lights. Zechariah 4:2Zechariah 4:1. "And the angel that talked with me returned and waked me, like a man who is waked out of his sleep." After the prophet has seen four visions one after another, probably with very short intervals, and has heard the marvellous interpretation of them, he is so overpowered by the impression produced by what he has seen and heard, that he falls into a state of spiritual exhaustion resembling sleep, just as Peter and his companions were unable to keep awake at the transfiguration of Christ (Luke 9:32). He has not only fallen back into the state of ordinary human consciousness, but his ordinary spiritual consciousness was so depressed that he resembled a man asleep, and had to be waked out of this sleep-like state by the mediating angel, in order to be qualified for further seeing. It is evident from the expression ויּשׁב (and he returned) that the angelus interpres had left the prophet after the termination of the previous visions, and now came back to him again. The fresh vision which presents itself to his spiritual intuition, is described according to its principal features in Zechariah 4:2 and Zechariah 4:3. Zechariah 4:2. "And he said to me, What seest thou? And I said, I see, and behold a candlestick all of gold, and its oil-vessel up above it, and its seven lamps upon it, seven pipes each for the lamps upon the top of it. Zechariah 4:3. And two olive trees (oil trees) by it, one to the right of the oil-vessel, and one to the left of it." The second ויאמר (chethib) in Zechariah 4:2 might, if necessary, be explained in the way proposed by L. de Dieu, Gusset., and Hofmann, viz., by supposing that the mediating angel had no sooner asked the prophet what he saw, than he proceeded, without waiting for his answer, to give a description himself of what was seen. But this is at variance with the analogy of all the rest of the visions, where the visions seen by the prophet are always introduced with ראיתי or ואראה followed by והנּה (cf. Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 2:1, Zechariah 2:5; Zechariah 5:1; Zechariah 6:1), and it remains quite inflexible; so that we must accept the keri ואמר, which is adopted by the early translators, and found in many codd., as being the true reading, and pronounce ויאמר a copyist's error. On the combination מנורת זהב כּלּהּ, in which the last two words are construed as a relative clause in subordination to menōrath, see Ewald, 332, c.

The visionary candlestick, all of gold, with its seven lamps, is unquestionably a figurative representation of the seven-branched golden candlestick in the tabernacle, and differs from this only in the three following additions which are peculiar to itself: (1) That is has its gullâh (גּלּהּ for גּלּתה, with the feminine termination resolved; cf. Hosea 13:2, and Ewald, 257, d), i.e., a can or round vessel for the oil, which was omitted altogether from the candlestick of the holy place, when the lamps were filled with oil by the priests, "at the top of it" (על־ראשׁהּ); (2) That it had seven mūtsâqōth (pipes) each for the lamps, that is to say, tubes through which the oil poured from the gullâh into the lamps, or was conducted to them, whereas the candlestick of the tabernacle had no pipes, but only seven arms (qânı̄m), for the purpose of holding the lamps, which of course could not be wanting in the case of the visionary candlestick, and are merely omitted from the description as being self-evident. The number of the pipes is also a disputed point, viz., whether שׁבעה ושׁבעה means seven and seven, i.e., fourteen, or whether it is to be taken distributively, seven each for the lamps, i.e., seven for each lamp, and therefore forty-nine for the seven. The distributive view is disputed by Hitzig and Koehler as at variance with the usage of the language: the former proposing to alter the text, so as to obtain seven pipes, i.e., one for each lamp; and the latter, on the other hand, assuming that there were fourteen pipes, and inferring from the statement "seven and seven," instead of fourteen, that the second seven are to be sought in a different place from the first, that is to say, that the first seven led from the oil-vessel to the seven different lamps, whilst the second seven connected the seven lamps with one another, which would have been a very strange and perfectly useless provision. But there is no foundation whatever for the assertion that it is at variance with the usage of the language. For although a distributive relation is certainly expressed as a rule by the simple repetition of the number without any connecting Vav, such passages as 2 Samuel 21:20 and 1 Chronicles 20:6 show quite indisputably that the repetition of the same number with the Vav cop. between is also to be taken distributively. When, for example, it is stated in 2 Samuel 21:20, with regard to the hero of Gath, that the fingers of his hands and the fingers (toes) of his feet were "shēsh vâshēsh, four-and-twenty in number," it is evident that shēsh vâshēsh cannot mean "six and six," because six and six do not make twenty-four; and a division of the shēsh between the hands and feet is also untenable, because his two hands had not six fingers on them, but twelve, and so his two feet had not six toes on them, but twelve. Consequently shēsh vâshēsh must be taken distributively: the fingers of his (two) hands and the toes of his (two) feet were six each; for it is only 2 + 2(( equals 4) x 6 that can give 24. This is shown still more clearly in 1 Chronicles 20:6 : "and his fingers were shēsh vâshēsh, four-and-twenty." It is in this distributive sense, which is thus thoroughly established, so far as the usage of the language is concerned, that שׁבעה ושׁבעה מוּץ is to be taken: seven pipes each for the lamps, i.e., forty-nine for the seven lamps; inasmuch as if fourteen pipes were meant, it would be impossible to imagine any reason why "seven and seven" should be written instead of fourteen. And we cannot be shaken in this conviction, either by the objection "that if there was any proportion between the pipes and the size of the oil-vessel, such a number of pipes could not possibly (?) spring from one oil-can" (Koehler), or by the statement that "forty-nine would be quite as much at variance with the original as fourteen, since that had only one pipe for every lamp" (Hitzig). For the supposed original for the pipes had no existence, inasmuch as the Mosaic candlestick had no pipes at all; and we can form no opinion as to the possibility of forty-nine pipes issuing from one oil-vessel, because we have no information as to the size either of the oil-vessel or of the pipes. (3) The third peculiarity in the visionary candlestick consists in the olive trees on the right and left of the oil-vessel, which supplied it with oil, and whose connection with the candlestick is first described in Zechariah 4:12. These three additions which were made to the golden candlestick seen by Zechariah, as contrasted with the golden candlestick of the tabernacle, formed the apparatus through which it was supplied with the oil required to light it continually without the intervention of man.

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