Zechariah 8:13
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.
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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. Zechariah 8:13The whole blessing is finally summed up in one expression in Zechariah 8:13 : "And it will come to pass, as ye were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I endow you with salvation, that ye may be a blessing. Fear not, let your hands be strong." The formula, to be a curse among the nations, is to be interpreted according to Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 42:18; 2 Kings 22:19, as equivalent to being the object of a curse, i.e., so smitten by God as to serve as the object of curses. In harmony with this, the phrase to "become a blessing" is equivalent to being so blessed as to be used as a benedictory formula (cf. Genesis 48:22; Jeremiah 29:22). This promise is made to the remnant of Judah and Israel, and therefore of all the twelve tribes, who are to become partakers of the future salvation in undivided unity (cf. Zechariah 9:10, Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 10:6; Zechariah 11:14). Israel is therefore to look forward to the future without alarm.
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