Zechariah 6:6
The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the spotted go forth toward the south country.
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Zechariah 6:6-7. The black horses go forth into the north country — The Persians (signified, as before observed, by the black horses) marched from Persia into Chaldea, which lay north of Judea, and is commonly denominated the north country. And the white go forth after them — Alexander, with his Macedonians, signified, as we have said, by the white horses, marched from Greece through Asia Minor to Babylon, after the Persians, who retired before his victorious army. And the grizzled go forth toward the south country — This probably was intended to denote the Romans conquering Egypt, frequently called the south country in Scripture: see Daniel 11:6. This was the last country the Romans subdued, under Augustus, whereby they became masters of the greatest part of the known world. And the bay sought to go, &c., that they might walk to and fro through the earth — As the bay horses, as well as the grizzled, belonged to the fourth chariot, representing the Roman empire, (see note on Zechariah 6:3,) and the bay horses are mentioned after the grizzled, this verse may be intended to describe the ambition of the Romans, especially under the last form of their government, the imperial, to extend their conquests to every quarter of the globe; and the divine permission granted them so to do, signified in the latter part of the verse. Or, as Lowth supposes, a different branch of that empire may be here intended, which should arise and extend its conquests in the latter times; namely, the empire of the Goths and Vandals, whose power rose out of the ruins of the first Roman empire, and who set up the kingdom of the ten horns, mentioned Revelation 13:1; Revelation 17:3.6:1-8 This vision may represent the ways of Providence in the government of this lower world. Whatever the providences of God about us are, as to public or private affairs, we should see them all as coming from between the mountains of brass, the immoveable counsels and decrees of God; and therefore reckon it as much our folly to quarrel with them, as it is our duty to submit to them. His providences move swiftly and strongly as chariots, but all are directed and governed by his infinite wisdom and sovereign will. The red horses signify war and bloodshed. The black, signify the dismal consequences of war, famines, pestilences, and desolations. The white, signify the return of comfort, peace, and prosperity. The mixed colour, signify events of different complexions, a day of prosperity and a day of adversity. The angels go forth as messengers of God's counsels, and ministers of his justice and mercy. And the secret motions and impulses upon the spirits of men, by which the designs of Providence are carried on, are these four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from God, and fulfil what the God of the spirits of all flesh appoints. All the events which take place in the world spring from the unchangeable counsels of the Lord, which are formed in unerring wisdom, perfect justice, truth, and goodness; and from history it is found that events happened about the period when this vision was sent to the prophet, which seem referred to therein.The black horses which are therein go forth - Literally, "That chariot wherein the black horses are, these go forth." Jerome: "Most suitably is the first chariot, wherein the red homes were, passed over, and what the second, third, fourth did is described. For when the prophet related this, the Babylonian empire had passed, and the power of the Medes possessed all Asia." Red, as the color of blood, represented Babylon as sanguinary; as it is said in the Revelation, "There went out another horse, red, and power was given to him that sat thereon, to take peace from the earth, and that they should kill one another, and there was given him a sharp sword" Revelation 6:4. "The black" were to go forth to the north country, the ancient title of Babylon. For Babylon, though taken, was far from being broken. They had probably been betrayed through the weakness of their king's. Their resistance, in the first carefully prepared (Herodotus, iii. 150) revolt against Darius, was more courageous than that against Cyrus: and more desperate .

Since probably more Jews remained in it, than returned to their own country, what was to befall it had a special interest for them. They had already been warned in the third vision Zechariah 2:7 to escape from it. The color black doubtless symbolizes the heavy lot, inflicted by the Medo-Persians; as in the Revelation it is said, "the sun became black as sackcloth of hair" Revelation 6:12; and to the beast in Daniel's vision which corresponded with it, it was said, "Arise, devour much flesh" Daniel 7:5; and in the Revelation, "he that sat on the black horse" Revelation 6:5-6 was the angel charged with the infliction of famine. Of the Medes, Isaiah had said, "I will stir up the Medes against them (Babylon), which shall not regard silver; and gold, they shall not delight in it. Their bows also shall dash the young men to pieces; and they shall have no pity on the fruit of the womb; their eye shall not spare children" Isaiah 13:17-18.

The white went forth after them - For the Greek empire occupied the same portion of the earth as the Persian. White is a symbol of joy, gladness Ecclesiastes 9:8, victory Revelation 6:2, perhaps also, from its relation to light, of acute intelligence. It may relate too to the benevolence of Alexander to the Jewish nation. "Alexander used such clemency to the conquered, that it seemed as though he might be called rather the founder than the destroyer of the nations whom he subdued."

And the grizzled - The Romans in their mingled character, so prominent in the fourth empire of Daniel, "go forth" Daniel 2:41-43 to the south country, that is, Egypt; as Daniel speaks of "the ships of Chittim" Daniel 11:30 and the intervention of the Romans first in regard to the expulsion of Antiochus Epiphanes from Egypt; in Egypt also, the last enduring kingdom of any successor of Alexander, that of the Ptolemies, expired. "30 years afterward, the Son of God was to bring light to the earth. The prophet so interweaves the prediction, that from the series of the four kingdoms it is brought to the Birth of the Eternal King" .

6. north country—Babylon (see on [1178]Jer 1:14). The north is the quarter specified in particular whence Judah and Israel are hereafter to return to their own land (Zec 2:6; Jer 3:18). "The black horses" go to Babylon, primarily to represent the awful desolation with which Darius visited it in the fifth year of his reign (two years after this prophecy) for revolting [Henderson]. The "white" go after the "black" horses to the same country; two sets being sent to it because of its greater cruelty and guilt in respect to Judea. The white represent Darius triumphant subjugation of it [Moore]. Rather, I think, the white are sent to victoriously subdue Medo-Persia, the second world kingdom, lying in the same quarter as Babylon, namely, north.

grizzled … toward the south—that is, to Egypt, the other great foe of God's people. It, being a part of the Græco-Macedonian kingdom, stands for the whole of it, the third world kingdom.

The angel signified by the

black horses the executioners of God’s just displeasure against sinners.

Which are therein; in the second chariot, for nothing is said more of the first, (the red horses,) say some, because that bloody and cruel state was expired; but the sad things portended by the black horses are to come next on the scene.

Go forth into the north country; Babylon, the whole kingdom of Babylon, which lay so much north from Judea, and because the metropolis lay north the whole kingdom is called the north country; which must feel the effects of these black horses, which was executed by the hands of the Medes and Persians, assisted by that squadron of angels which appeared in the second place.

The white go forth after them; ministers of goodness, mercy, and kindness, went after the black, and their business was, say some, to dispose affairs for the benefit and joy of God’s people in Babylon, whither these were sent to preserve them, to conduct them, and bring them back; and here was great work in this, for many staid behind till Ezra’s and Nehemiah’s time.

The grisled go forth; the angels signified by these, and whose business, as some guess, lay in managing the Roman power, which was a mixture of many different people, and which were sometimes favourable, sometimes fierce and severe, to those they had to do with.

Toward the south country; Egypt and Arabia, which lay south of Judea, and which the Romans did, though late, subdue; it may perhaps point at their invading Africa too, whose punishments were mixed somewhat with kindness and mercy more than the punishments of Babylon were. The black horses which are therein,.... Which were in the second chariot: no further mention is made of the red horses in the first chariot, because the kingdom of the Chaldeans was now extinct: these design the Medes and Persians:

go forth into the north country: into the country of Babylon or Chaldea, which lay north of Judea; see Jeremiah 1:13 and other places; these went to Babylon, took that, and seized on the empire, and delivered the Jews, who were captives there:

and the white go forth after them; the Grecians under Alexander, who went after the Medes and Persians into the same country, and fought Darius the Persian, and conquered him:

and the grisled go forth toward the south country; the Romans under Julius Caesar, Augustus, and others before them, who went into Egypt, which lay south of Judea, Daniel 11:5 and conquered that, and other nations, and set up the fourth kingdom or monarchy.

The black horses which are in it go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the spotted go forth toward the {h} south country.

(h) That is, towards Egypt, and other countries there about.

6. the black horses which are therein] Lit. (that) wherein are the black horses, (they, the horses) are going forth, &c., i.e. The chariot wherein are the black horses goeth forth, &c. R. V.

the north country] The land of Babylon, see Zechariah 2:6.

the south country] probably Egypt. Comp. Daniel 11:5.Verse 6. - The angel now (vers. 6, 7) indicates the various destinations of the chariots, except the first with the red horses. Why this is omitted has never been satisfactorily explained. Some regard ver. 7 as giving the destination of this chariot, by making a slight change in the word rendered "bay" in the Authorized Version, which would cause it to mean "red." The Syriac, indeed, which omits the word in ver. 3, translates it here by "red." If we retain the Masoretic reading, we must let this difficulty remain unsolved, and suppose that the angel explains only part of the vision, leaving the rest for the prophet's meditation. The black horses which are therein; literally, that wherein are the black horses, they go forth, etc.; which is equivalent to "the chariot wherein are the black horses goeth forth." So the Revised Version. The north country. Babylonia (see note on Zechariah 2:6). After them; behind them. The white horses go to the same quarter; and thus is indicated the overwhelming destruction that was coming on Babylon, and the victory and triumph of the conquerors over it. The south country; i.e. Egypt (Isaiah 30:6; Daniel 11:5), another hostile power, also, perhaps, Edom and Ethiopia. One chariot only is seen to go towards it, drawn by the speckled horses that denote a mixed judgment, perhaps of war and pestilence (see on ver. 3). The north and south symbolize the whole earth and the powers hostile to the true Israel. In the midst of this tribulation the sinners will perish without counsel or help. Zephaniah 1:17. "And I make it strait for men, and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against Jehovah; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their flesh like dung. Zephaniah 1:18. Even their silver, even their gold, will not be able to save them on the day of Jehovah's fury, and in the fire of His wrath will the whole earth be devoured; for He will make an end, yea a sudden one, to all the inhabitants of the earth." והצרתי reminds of the threat of Moses in Deuteronomy 28:52, to which Zephaniah alluded in Zephaniah 1:16. And in הלכוּ כּעורים the allusion to Deuteronomy 28:29 is also unmistakeable. To walk like the blind, i.e., to seek a way out of the trouble without finding one. This distress God sends, because they have sinned against Him, by falling away from Him through idolatry and the transgression of His commandments, as already shown in Zephaniah 1:4-12. But the punishment will be terrible. Their blood will be poured out like dust. The point of comparison is not the quantity, as in Genesis 13:16 and others, but the worthlessness of dust, as in 2 Kings 13:7 and Isaiah 49:23. The blood is thought as little of as the dust which is trodden under foot. Lechūm, which occurs again in Job 20:23, means flesh (as in the Arabic), not food. The verb shâphakh, to pour out, is also to be taken per zeugma in connection with this clause, though without there being any necessity to associate it with 2 Samuel 20:10, and regard lechūm as referring to the bowels. For the fact itself, compare 1 Kings 14:10 and Jeremiah 9:21. In order to cut off all hope on deliverance from the rich and distinguished sinners, the prophet adds in Zephaniah 1:18 : Even with silver and gold will they not be able to save their lives. The enemy will give no heed to this (cf. Isaiah 13:17; Jeremiah 4:30; Ezekiel 7:19) in the day that the Lord will pour out His fury upon the ungodly, to destroy the whole earth with the fire of His wrathful jealousy (cf. Deuteronomy 4:24). By kol-hâ'ârets we might understand the whole of the land of Judah, if we looked at what immediately precedes it. But if we bear in mind that the threat commenced with judgment upon the whole earth (Zephaniah 1:2, Zephaniah 1:3), and that it here returns to its starting-point, to round off the picture, there can be no doubt that the whole earth is intended. The reason assigned for this threat in Zephaniah 1:18 is formed after Isaiah 10:23; but the expression is strengthened by the use of אך־נבהלה instead of ונחרצה, the word round in Isaiah. Kâlâh: the finishing stroke, as in Isaiah l.c. (see at Nahum 1:8). אך, only, equivalent to "not otherwise than," i.e., assuredly. נבהלה is used as a substantive, and is synonymous with behâlâh, sudden destruction, in Isaiah 65:23. The construction with 'ēth accus. as in Nahum 1:8.
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