Zechariah 7:2
When they had sent to the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,
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7:1-7 If we truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and ministers, but seek his direction by fervent prayer. Those who would know God's mind should consult God's ministers; and, in doubtful cases, ask advice of those whose special business it is to search the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purpose. There was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in it. Holy exercises are to be done to God, looking to his word as our rule, and his glory as our end, seeking to please him and obtain his favour; but self was the centre of all their actions. And it was not enough to weep on fast days; they should have searched the Scriptures of the prophets, that they might have seen what was the ground of God's controversy with their fathers. Whether people are in prosperity or adversity, they must be called upon to leave their sins, and to do their duty.When they held sent unto the house of God - Rather, "And Bethel sent;" that is, the inhabitants of Bethel sent. "The house of God" is nowhere in Holy Scripture called Bethel. Bethel is always the name of the place. . The "house of God" is designated by historians, Psalmists, prophets, by the name, "Beth-elohim," more commonly "Beth-Ha-elohim, the God;" or "of the Lord," YHVH. Zechariah and Haggai use these names. It is not likely that the name, Beth-el, should have first been given to the house of God, when it had been desecrated by the idolatries of Jeroboam. Bethel also is, in the Hebrew order of the words, naturally the subject . Nor is there any reason why they should have sent to Bethel, since they sought an answer from God. For it would be forced to say that they sent to Bethel, in order that those at Bethel should send to Jerusalem; which is not said.

It were unnatural also that the name of the sender should not have been mentioned, when the names of persons inferior, because sent, are recorded . Bethel, in Nehemiah's time Nehemiah 11:31, was one of the chief places of Benjamin. "Two hundred twenty and three of the men of Bethel and Ai" Ezra 2:28 had returned with Zerubbabel. The answer being to "the people" of the land, such were doubtless the enquirers, not those still in Babylon. The answer shows that the question was not religious, though put as matter of religion. It is remarkable that, whereas in the case of those who brought presents from Babylon, the names express some relation to God, these names are singularly, the one of a parricide son of Sennacherib Isaiah 37:38; 2 Kings 19:37, and of one, chief among the King of Babylon's princes ; the other probably a secular name, "the king's friend".

Osorius: "I do not see why under the name of Bethel, the city so called is not understood. For since Jerusalem was not yet fortified, the Jews chose them sites in various places, where they should be less harassed. All hatred was concentrated on that city, which the neighbors wished not to be restored to its former greatness. Other cities they did not so molest. Bethel then, that is, the assembly of the city, sent messengers to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God and consult the wise there."

To entreat the face of the Lord - They wished, it seems, (so to speak) to ingratiate themselves with God with an account of their past self-humiliation, on the day when the house of God was burned by Nebuchadnezzar. In regard to God, the word is always used of entreating Him by earnest prayer .

2. they … sent unto … house of God—The Jews of the country sent to the house of God or congregation at Jerusalem. The altar was long since reared (Ezr 3:3), though the temple was not completed till two years afterwards (Ezr 6:15). The priests' duty was to give decision on points of the law (De 17:9; Mt 2:4). Beth-el is here used instead of Beth-Jehovah, because the religious authorities, rather than the house itself (designated "Beth-Jehovah" in Zec 7:3), are intended. The old Beth-el had long ceased to be the seat of idol-worship, so that the name had lost its opprobrious meaning. "The house of the Lord" is used for the congregation of worshippers headed by their priests (Zec 3:7; Ho 8:1). Maurer makes the "house of God" nominative to "sent." Henderson makes "Beth-el" so.

Sherezer—an Assyrian name meaning, "Prefect of the treasury."

Regemmelech—meaning, "The king's official." These names perhaps intimate the semi-heathen character of the inquirers, which may also be implied in the name "Beth-el" (Hebrew for "house of God"), so notorious once for its calf-worship. They sent to Jehovah's house as their forefathers sent to old Beth-el, not in the spirit of true obedience.

pray before the Lord—literally, "to entreat the face of," that is, to offer sacrifices, the accompaniment of prayers, to conciliate His favor (1Sa 13:12).

When they, either the captives which still continued in Babylon, or the Jews returned out of captivity, but who dwelt in the country at distance from Jerusalem,

had sent unto the house of God; the temple, which now, half built, began to be frequented by priests and people, and where Haggai and Zechariah might be found true prophets.

Sherezer and Regem-melech: it appears not who these were, but no doubt they were eminent in dignity and piety,

And their men; a train either of friends that accompanied them, or of servants that waited on them.

To pray before the Lord, in most solemn manner, and with sacrifices no doubt, for the altar was set up long ago. Now these come to entreat the face of the Lord by prayer, in the house of prayer, for pardon of what was past, and acceptance of them at present, and for answer to their inquiry. When they had sent unto the house of God,.... It is, in the Hebrew text, "when he sent Bethel"; which some, as Kimchi observes, take to be the name of a man that was sent along with those after mentioned; but the Targum and the Septuagint render it, "when", or "after he had sent unto Bethel": not the place so called in Jacob's time; but Jerusalem, where the temple or house of God was now building; and it may be observed, that the words are expressed in the singular number, "when he had sent" (t); and not, as we render them, "when they had sent"; and agreeably, in Zechariah 7:3, it is said, "should I weep", &c. as if these messengers were sent by a single person, and yet a body of people is meant; and not the captives that remained in Babylon, as most interpreters understand it; but the Jews that were returned from thence, and were in Judea, as Junius and Tremellius observe; for to them the answer is returned, and to them does the Lord by the prophet direct his speech throughout the whole chapter. The persons sent were

Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men; who these persons were is not known; they were, no doubt, principal men of the people, by whom they were sent, and the chief of the embassy, and had others with them inferior to them: part of their business at Bethel, or the house of God, was,

to pray before the Lord; that they might be directed aright, and have a proper answer returned to the question they came with. The temple at Jerusalem was the place where men used to go up to pray; see Luke 18:10.

(t) "cum misisset, sub. populus", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Drusius, Tarnovius; "et misit", Pagninus, Montanus; "miserat autem sub". Israel, Vatablus; "et miserat", Cocceius; "et misit Bethelum", i. e. "urbem", Burkius.

When {b} they had sent to the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,

(b) That is, the rest of the people that yet remained in Chaldea, sent to the Church at Jerusalem for the resolution of these questions, because these feasts were consented upon by the agreement of the whole Church, the one in the month that the temple was destroyed, and the other when Gedaliah was slain; Jer 41:2.

2. when they had sent unto the house of God] Rather, And (or now) Bethel sent. “Now they of Bethel had sent.” R. V. Having announced the fact and the date of the word of Jehovah coming to him again in Zechariah 7:1, the prophet breaks off, as it were, to state the occasion of its coming in Zechariah 7:2-3—now, why it came was that Bethel sent, &c. Then in Zechariah 7:4 he resumes by repeating the phrase of Zechariah 7:1, “and (as I said) the word of the Lord came unto me,” and passes on to the message itself. We have a similar construction, with the repetition of the word “take” Zechariah 6:10-11. It is best to regard Bethel here as a proper name. It was one of the cities to which captives had returned (Ezra 2:1; Ezra 2:28, “every one unto his own city”), and from it the question here proposed emanated.

Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men] It is better to take these, as in A. V. and R. V., to be the deputation, or persons sent. It is possible, however, to render, when Bethel, viz. Sharezer, &c. sent (men). In that case Sharezer and Regem-melech would probably be the chief men of the city, their names being those which were given them in Babylon. For Sharezer comp. Isaiah 37:38; 2 Kings 19:37. Regemmelech has been supposed to be an official title and to signify, “friend of the king.”

to pray before] Lit. smooth or stroke the face of, i.e. propitiate or seek the favour of. Comp. chap. Zechariah 8:21-22; Exodus 32:11; Psalm 45:12. It is also used of imploring the favour of man, Job 11:19; Proverbs 19:6.Verse 2. - When they had sent unto the house of God. The Vulgate supports this version, Et miserunt ad domum Dei; the LXX. gives, Καὶ ἐξαπέστειλεν εἰς Βαιθὴλ Σαρασὰρ καὶ Ἀρβεσεὲρ ὁ βασιλεὺς καὶ οἱ ἄνδρες αὐτοῦ, "And Sarasar and Arbescer the king and his men sent to Bethel" - which is far from clear. But the temple is never called Beth-el, while a mission to the town Bethel would be unmeaning. So "Bethel" is to be taken as the subject of the sentence, thus: "Now Bethel (i.e. they of Bethel) sent." The persons named may be taken either as the deputation or as the persons meant by "they of Bethel." The former seems most likely to be intended. The Bethelites sent these men to Jerusalem to make the inquiry. The exiles returned each to his own city, as we read in Ezra it.; among them were many people of Bethel (Ezra 2:28; Nehemiah 7:32), which town they rebuilt (Nehemiah 11:31). They seem to have tacitly acquiesced in the spiritual supremacy of Jerusalem, notwithstanding the associations Connected with their own city. Sherezer. The names of the deputies are Assyrian; they seem to have retained them on their return. Sherezer, equivalent to Assyrian Sar-usur or Asur-sar-usur, "Asur protect the King," is the name borne by a sen of Sennacherib (2 Kings 19:37). Regem-melech; "Friend of the King." The first half of the word is probably Assyrian (see Schrader, 'Die Keilinschr. und Alt. Test.,' pp. 206, 417). And their men. Certain persons associated with them in the business. To pray before the Lord; literally, to stroke the face of the Lord (Zechariah 8:21, 22; Exodus 32:11); so Latin, mulcere caput. Hence it means, "to entreat the favour of God" for their city. This was one object of their mission. The other purpose is mentioned in the next verse. The judgment upon Joab and Ammon. - Zephaniah 2:8. "I have heard the abuse of Moab, and the revilings of the sons of Ammon, who have abused my nation, and boasted against its boundary. Zephaniah 2:9. Therefore, as I live, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, the God of Israel: Yea, Moab shall become like Sodom, and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrha, an inheritance of nettles and salt-pits, and desert for ever. The remnant of my nation will plunder them, the residue of my nation will inherit them. Zephaniah 2:10. Such to them for their pride, that they have despised and boasted against the nation of Jehovah of hosts." The threat now turns from the Philistines in the west to the two tribes to the east, viz., the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descended from Lot, and therefore blood-relations, and who manifested hostility to Israel on every possible occasion. Even in the time of Moses, the Moabitish king Balak sought to destroy Israel by means of Balaam's curses (Numbers 22), for which the Moabites were threatened with extermination (Numbers 24:17). In the time of the judges they both attempted to oppress Israel (Judges 3:12. and Judges 10:7.; cf. 1 Samuel 11:1-5 and 2 Samuel 10-12), for which they were severely punished by Saul and David (1 Samuel 14:47, and 2 Samuel 8:2; 2 Samuel 12:30-31). The reproach of Moab and the revilings of the Ammonites, which Jehovah had heard, cannot be taken, as Jerome, Rashi, and others suppose, as referring to the hostilities of those tribes towards the Judaeans during the Chaldaean catastrophe; nor restricted, as v. Clln imagines, to the reproaches heaped upon the ten tribes when they were carried away by the Assyrians, since nothing is know of any such reproaches. The charge refers to the hostile attitude assumed by both tribes at all times towards the nation of God, which they manifested both in word and deed, as often as the latter was brought into trouble and distress. Compare Jeremiah 48:26-27; and for giddēph, to revile or blaspheme by actions, Numbers 15:30; Ezekiel 20:27; also for the fact itself, the remarks on Amos 1:13-2:3. יגדּילוּ על גב, they did great things against their (the Israelites') border (the suffix in gebhūlâm, their border, refers to ‛ammı̄, my people). This great doing consisted in their proudly violating the boundary of Israel, and endeavouring to seize upon Israelitish territory (cf. Amos 1:13). Pride and haughtiness, or high-minded self-exaltation above Israel as the nation of God, is charged against the Moabites and Ammonites by Isaiah and Jeremiah also, as a leading feature in their character (cf. Isaiah 16:6; Isaiah 25:11; Jeremiah 48:29-30). Moab and Ammon are to be utterly exterminated in consequence. The threat of punishment is announced in Zephaniah 2:8 as irrevocable by a solemn oath. It shall happen to them as to Sodom and Gomorrha. This simile was rendered a very natural one by the situation of the two lands in the neighbourhood of the Dead Sea. It affirms the utter destruction of the two tribes, as the appositional description shows. Their land is to become the possession of nettles, i.e., a place where nettles grow. Mimshâq, hap leg., from the root mâshaq, which was not used, but from which mesheq in Genesis 15:2 is derived. Chârūl: the stinging nettle (see at Job 30:7), which only flourishes in waste places. Mikhrēh melach: a place of salt-pits, like the southern coast of the Dead Sea, which abounds in rock-salt, and to which there is an allusion in the threat of Moses in Deuteronomy 29:22. "A desert for ever:" the emphasis lies upon ‛ad ‛ōlâm (for ever) here. The people, however, i.e., the Moabites and Ammonites themselves, will be taken by the people of Jehovah, and be made their possession. The suffixes attached to יבזּוּם and ינחלוּם can only refer to the people of Moab and Ammon, because a land turned into an eternal desert and salt-steppe would not be adapted for a nachălâh (possession) for the people of God. The meaning is not, they will be their heirs through the medium of plunder, but they will make them into their own property, or slaves (cf. Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 61:5). גּויי is גּוי with the suffix of the first person, only one of the two י being written. In Zephaniah 2:10 the threat concludes with a repetition of the statement of the guilt which is followed by such a judgment.

The fulfilment or realization of the threat pronounced upon Philistia, Moab, and Ammon, we have not to look for in the particular historical occurrences through which these tribes were conquered and subjugated by the Chaldaeans, and to some extent by the Jews after the captivity, until they eventually vanished from the stage of history, and their lands became desolate, as they still are. These events can only come into consideration as preliminary stages of the fulfilment, which Zephaniah completely passes by, since he only views the judgment in its ultimate fulfilment. We are precluded, moreover, from taking the words as relating to that event by the circumstance, that neither Philistia on the one hand, nor Moabites and Ammonites on the other, were ever taken permanent possession of by the Jews; and still less were they ever taken by Judah, as the nation of God, for His own property. Judah is not to enter into such possession as this till the Lord turns the captivity of Judah (Zephaniah 2:7); that is to say, not immediately after the return from the Babylonish captivity, but when the dispersion of Israel among the Gentiles, which lasts till this day, shall come to an end, and Israel, through its conversion to Christ, be reinstated in the privileges of the people of God. It follows from this, that the fulfilment is still in the future, and that it will be accomplished not literally, but spiritually, in the utter destruction of the nations referred to as heathen nations, and opponents of the kingdom of God, and in the incorporation of those who are converted to the living God at the time of the judgment, into the citizenship of the spiritual Israel. Until the eventual restoration of Israel, Philistia will remain an uninhabited shepherds' pasture, and the land of the Moabites and Ammonites the possession of nettles, a place of salt-pits and a desert; just as the land of Israel will for the very same time be trodden down by the Gentiles. The curse resting upon these lands will not be entirely removed till the completion of the kingdom of God on earth. This view is proved to be correct by the contents of Zephaniah 2:11, with which the prophet passes to the announcement of the judgment upon the nations of the south and north.

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