Zechariah 8:13
And it shall come to pass, that as you were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and you shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
8:9-17 Those only who lay their hands to the plough of duty, shall have them strengthened with the promises of mercy: those who avoid their fathers' faults have the curse turned into a blessing. Those who believed the promises, were to show their faith by their works, and to wait the fulfilment. When God is displeased, he can cause trade to decay, and set every man against his neighbour; but when he returns in mercy, all is happy and prosperous. Surely believers in Christ must not trifle with the exhortation to put away lying, and to speak every man peace with his neighbour, to hate what the Lord hates, and to love that wherein he delights.As ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you - The ten tribes bore the name of Israel, in contrast with the two tribes with the name of Judah, not only in the history but in the prophets; as Hosea says, "I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, and on the house of Judah I will have mercy" Hosea 1:6-7. Here he unites both; both, in the time of their captivity, were a curse, were held to be a thing accursed, as it is said, "He that is hanged is the curse of God" Deuteronomy 21:23, that is, a thing accursed by Him; and God foretold of Judah, that they should be "a desolation and a curse" 2 Kings 22:10, and by Jeremiah, "I will deliver them to be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth for hurt, a reproach and a proverb, a taunt and a curse in all places whither I shall drive them" ; and in deed, when it was so, "therefore is your land a desolation and an astonishment and a curse without an inhabitant, as at this day" Jeremiah 44:22.

Now the sentence was to be reversed as to both. "As ye were a curse, among the nations, naming each, so I will save you." There would have been no proportion between the curse and the blessing, unless both had been included under the blessing, as they were under the curse. But Israel had no share in the temporal blessing, not returning from captivity, as Zechariah knew they were not returned hitherto. Therefore the blessings promised must be spiritual. Even a Jewish commentator saw this. "It is possible, that this may have been spoken of the second temple, on condition that they should keep the commandments of the Lord; or, it is still future, referring to the days of the Messiah: and this is proved by the following verse which says, 'O house of Judah and house of Israel.' During the second temple the house of Israel did not return."

And ye shall be a blessing - This is a revival and an application of the original promise to Abraham, "thou shalt be a blessing" Genesis 12:2; which was continued to Jacob, "God give thee the blessing of Abraham, to thee and to thy seed with thee" Genesis 28:4. And of the future king, of whom it is said, "Thou gavest him length of days forever and ever," David says, "Thou hast made him blessings forever" Psalm 21:4, Psalm 21:6, and again, "They shall be blessed in Him" Psalm 72:17). So Isaiah had said of the days of Christ, "In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the land;" Isaiah 19:24; and symbolically of the cluster of grapes, "Destroy it not: for a blessing is in it" Isaiah 65:8; and Ezekiel, "I will make them and the places round about My hill a blessing" Ezekiel 34:26. They were this; for of them, "according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever" Romans 9:5; of them were the Apostles and Evangelists, of them every writer of God's word, of them those who carried the Gospel throughout the world. Osorius: "Was this fulfilled, when the Jews were under the Persians? or when they paid tribute to the Greeks? or when they trembled, hour by hour, at the mention of the Roman name? Do not all count those who rule much happier than those oppressed by the rule of others? The prediction then was fulfilled, not then, but when Christ, the Sun of Righteousness, shone on the earth, and He chose from the Hebrews lights, through whom to dissipate darkness and illumine the minds of people who were in that darkness. The Jews, when restored from the captivity, seemed born to slavery." They were reputed to be of slaves the most despised. "But when they had through Christ been put in possession of that most sure liberty, they overthrew, through their empire, the power and tyranny of the evil spirits."

13. a curse—As the heathen have made you another name for "a curse," wishing to their foes as bad a lot as yours (Jer 24:9; 29:18); so your name shall be a formula of blessing, so that men shall say to their friend, May thy lot be as happy as that of Judah (Ge 48:20). Including also the idea of the Jews being a source of blessing to the Gentile nations (Mic 5:7; Zep 3:20). The distinct mention of "Judah" and "Israel" proves that the prophecy has not yet had its full accomplishment, as Israel (the ten tribes) has never yet been restored, though individuals of Israel returned with Judah. As ye were a curse; as threatened Deu 28:37 Jeremiah 24:9 29:18, all which came upon them in this seventy years’ captivity, and the miseries that preceded.

Among the heathen; nations who knew the misery which they heaped on the Jews, nations among whom they were scattered.

House of Judah; two tribes.

House of Israel; ten tribes, or rather some of them which escaped Shalmaneser’s hand, and adhered to Judah; or some that from the division of the tribes did keep close to the house of David, and the temple worship.

So will I save you; in such a manner will I save you. so wonderfully, so graciously.

Ye shall be a blessing; a form or model of blessing, as Zephaniah 3:19,20.

Fear not, but let your hands be strong; be not discouraged, neither slack your hands, in the building of the temple, and restoring the worship of God, for God will be with you, and finish all by and for you. And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen,.... Reproached, vilified, and called accursed by them; see Jeremiah 24:9 as true Christians, and real believers in Christ, are by the men of this world, 1 Corinthians 4:12,

O house of Judah, and house of Israel; both being carried captive at different times, and were typical of the true and Spiritual Israel of God:

so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing; be blessed in themselves with the above blessings of plenty and prosperity in outward things; see Haggai 2:19 and a blessing to others, and blessed by them; and all those who are saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation are blessed with all spiritual blessings in him:

fear not; neither their enemies, nor the accomplishment of these promises:

but let your hands be strong; as in Zechariah 8:9.

And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. a curse … a blessing] Either, the object of cursing and blessing, as men cursed you before so now they shall bless you (Jeremiah 22:9); or a formula of imprecation or benediction, God make thee like them (Jeremiah 29:22; Genesis 48:20; Ruth 4:11-12).

heathen] nations, R. V.

house of Judah, and house of Israel] Not only the two tribes but the ten. This has never yet been fulfilled.Verse 13. - As ye were a curse among the heathen. As your fate was used as a formula of imprecation among the heathen; e.g. "May your fate be that of the Jews" (see examples of this, 2 Kings 22:19; Isaiah 65:15; Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:22). The other way of taking the expression as meaning the object of curse (i.e. as the heathen once used to curse you), is not so suitable. Judah... Israel. This expression includes the twelve tribes, of all of which some members had returned, and continued to return, from the Captivity. They were united now and formed one nation (see note on Zechariah 9:10). So will I save you. In as open and significant a manner will I show that I am delivering and favouring you. Ye shall be a blessing. This must be taken correspondingly to the former phrase, being a "curse;" ye shall be used as a formula for blessing; e.g. "God make thee as Ephraim and as Manasseh" (Genesis 48:20; comp. Ruth 4:11, 12). Fear not (Zephaniah 3:16). "If God be for us, who can be against us?" (Romans 8:31; comp. Numbers 14:9). Let your hands be strong (see note on ver. 9). The LXX. takes the paragraph differently and erroneously: "And it shall be that in like manner as ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing," i.e. a cause of blessing, Ητε ἐν κατάρᾳ... ἔσεσθε ἐν εὐλογίᾳ. "I gather together those that mourn for the festive meeting; they are of thee; reproach presses upon them. Zephaniah 3:19. Behold, at that time I will treat with all thine oppressors, and will save the limping, and gather together that which is dispersed, and make them a praise and a name in every land of their shame. Zephaniah 3:20. At that time will I bring you and gather you in time; for I will make you a name and a praise among all the nations of the earth, when I turn your captivity before your eyes, saith Jehovah." The salvation held up in prospect before the remnant of Israel, which has been refined by the judgments and delivered, was at a very remote distance in Zephaniah's time. The first thing that awaited the nation was the judgment, through which it was to be dispersed among the heathen, according to the testimony of Moses and all the prophets, and to be refined in the furnace of affliction. The ten tribes were already carried away into exile, and Judah was to share the same fate immediately afterwards. In order, therefore, to offer to the pious a firm consolation of hope in the period of suffering that awaited them, and one on which their faith could rest in the midst of tribulation, Zephaniah mentions in conclusion the gathering together of all who pine in misery at a distance from Zion, and who are scattered far and wide, to assure even these of their future participation in the promised salvation. Every clause of Zephaniah 3:18 is difficult. נוּגי is a niphal participle of יגה, with וּ instead of ו, as in Lamentations 1:4, in the sense of to mourn, or be troubled. Mō‛ēd, the time of the feast, when all Israel gathered together to rejoice before Jehovah, as in Hosea 12:10, except that the word is not to be restricted to the feast of tabernacles, but may be understood as relating to all the feasts to which pilgrimages were made. The preposition min is taken by many in the sense of far from; in support of which Hitzig appeals to Lamentations 1:4. But that passage is rather opposed to the application of the meaning referred to, inasmuch as we have מבּלי there, in which min denotes the cause. And this causal signification is to be retained here also, if only because of the close connection between נוּגי and ממּועד, according to which the dependent word can only denote the object or occasion of the nōgâh. Those who are troubled for the festal meeting are they who mourn because they cannot participate in the joy of assembling before the face of the Lord, namely, on account of their banishment into foreign lands. Mimmēkh hâyū, from thee were they, i.e., they have been thine (min expressing descent or origin, as in Isaiah 58:12; Ezra 2:59; Psalm 68:27; and the whole clause containing the reason for their meeting). The explanation given by Anton and Strauss is unsuitable and forced: "They will be away from thee, namely, separated from thee as mourners." In the last clause it is a matter of dispute to what the suffix in עליה refers. The explanation of Strauss, that it refers to Zion, is precluded by the fact that Zion is itself addressed, both in what precedes and what follows, and the thought does not require so rapid a change of persons. It is more natural to refer it to נוּגי, in which case the singular suffix is used collectively as a neuter, like the feminines הצּלעה and הנּדּחה; and the meaning takes this form: a burden upon them, viz., those who mourned for the feasts, was the reproach, sc. of slavery among the heathen (compare Zephaniah 3:19, at the close). Consequently the clause assigns a still further reason for the promise, that they are to be gathered together.

In Zephaniah 3:19, עשׂה with את signifies neither to handle in an evil sense, nor comprimere, conculcare, but to treat or negotiate with a person, as in Ezekiel 23:25 and Ezekiel 17:17, where אות, according to a later usage of the language, is a preposition, and not a sign of the accusative. The more precise definition of the procedure, or of the kind of negotiation, is evident from the context. The reference is to a punitive procedure, or treating in wrath. מענּיך as in Psalm 60:14, the heathen nations who had subjugated Israel. What follows is taken almost verbatim from Micah 4:6; and the last clause points back to Deuteronomy 26:19, to tell the people that the Lord will assuredly realize the glorification promised to the people of His possession, and make Israel an object of praise to the whole earth. בּכל־הארץ בּשׁתּם, in all lands, where they have suffered shame. Boshtâm is epexegetical of hâ'ârets, which governs it; this explains the use of the article with the nomen regens (cf. Ewald, 290, d). In order to paint the glory of the future salvation in still more vivid colours before the eyes of the people, the Lord ends by repeating this promise once more, with a slight change in the words. At that time will I lead you. The indefinite אביא might be expounded from the context, by supplying the place to which God will lead them, after such passages as Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 43:5. But it is more natural to think of the phrase, to lead out and in, according to Numbers 27:17, and to take אביא as an abbreviation of הוציא והביא, picturing the pastoral fidelity with which the Lord will guide the redeemed. The following words קבּצי אתכם point to this: compare Isaiah 40:11, where the gathering of the lambs is added to the feeding of the flock, to give prominence to the faithful care of the shepherds for the weak and helpless. קבּצי is the infinitive: my gathering you, sc. will take place. The choice of this form is to be traced, as Hitzig supposes, to the endeavour to secure uniformity in the clauses. A fresh reason is then assigned for the promise, by a further allusion to the glorification appointed for the people of God above all the nations of the earth, coupled with the statement that this will take place at the turning of their captivity, i.e., when God shall abolish the misery of His people, and turn it into salvation ("turn the captivity," as in Zephaniah 2:7), and that "before your eyes;" i.e., not that "ye yourselves shall see the salvation, and not merely your children, when they have closed your eyes" (Hitzig) - for such an antithesis would be foreign to the context - but as equivalent to "quite obviously, so that the turn in events stands out before the eye," analogous to "ye will see eye to eye" (Isaiah 52:8; cf. Luke 2:30). This will assuredly take place, for Jehovah has spoken it.

On the fulfilment of this promise, Theodoret observes that "these things were bestowed upon those who came from Babylon, and have been offered to all men since then." This no doubt indicates certain points of the fulfilment, but the principal fulfilment is generalized too much. For although the promise retains its perfect validity in the case of the Christian church, which is gathered out of both Jews and Gentiles, and will receive its final accomplishment in the completion of the kingdom of heaven founded by Christ on the earth, the allusion to the Gentile Christians falls quite into the background in the picture of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20, and the prophet's eye is simply directed towards Israel, and the salvation reserved for the rescued ἐκλογὴ τοῦ Ἰσραήλ. But inasmuch as Zephaniah not only announces the judgment upon the whole earth, but also predicts the conversion of the heathen nations to Jehovah the living God (Zephaniah 3:9-10), we must not restrict the description of salvation in Zephaniah 3:11-20 to the people of Israel who were lineally descended from Abraham, and to the remnant of them; but must also regard the Gentiles converted to the living God through Christ as included among them, and must consequently say that the salvation which the Lord will procure through the judgment for the daughter Zion or the remnant of Israel, commenced with the founding of the Christian church by the apostles for Judah and the whole world, and has been gradually unfolded more and more through the spread of the name of the Lord and His worship among all nations, and will be eventually and fully realized at the second coming of Christ, to the last judgment, and to perfect His kingdom in the establishment of the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21 and 22). It is true that both the judgment and the salvation of the remnant of Israel seeking Jehovah and His righteousness commenced even before Christ, with the giving up of Judah, together with all the tribes and kingdoms falling within the horizon of Old Testament prophecy, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the imperial rulers who followed him; but so far as the question of the fulfilment of our prophecy is concerned, these events come into consideration merely as preliminary stages of and preparations for the times of decision, which commenced with Christ not only for the Jews, but for all nations.

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