Zechariah 8:5
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
8:1-8 The sins of Zion were her worst enemies. God will take away her sins, and then no other enemies shall hurt her. Those who profess religion must adorn their profession by godliness and honesty. When become a city of truth and a mountain of holiness, Jerusalem is peaceable and prosperous. Verses 4,5, beautifully describe a state of great outward peace, attended with plenty, temperance, and contentment. The scattered Israelites shall be brought together from all parts. God will never leave nor forsake them in a way of mercy, for this he has promised them; and they shall never leave nor forsake him in a way of duty, as they have promised him. These promises were partly fulfilled in the Jewish church, betwixt the captivity and the time of Christ's coming; and they had fuller accomplishment in the gospel church; but the full import must be as to the future times of the Christian church, or the future restoration of the Jews. With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible; so far are God's thoughts and ways above ours. In the present low state of vital godliness, we can hardly conceive that so complete a change can be made; but a change thus extensive and glorious, can be brought to pass by the almighty power of the new-creating Spirit, in less time than he was pleased to employ in creating the world. Let the hands of all who labour in the cause of the gospel be strong, serving the Lord in true holiness, assured that their labour shall not be in vain.There shall yet dwell old men and old women - Dionysius: "Men and women shall not be slain now, as before in the time of the Babylonish destruction, but shall fulfill their natural course." It shall not be, as when "He gave His people over unto the sword; the fire consumed their young men and their maidens were not given to marriage; the priests were slain by the sword and their widows made no lamentation" Psalm 78:63-64; apart from the horrible atrocities of pagan war, when the unborn children were destroyed in their mothers' womb 2 Kings 15:16; Hosea 13:16; Amos 1:13, with their mothers. Yet (as in Zechariah 1:17), once more as in the days of old, and as conditionally promised in the law Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:16, Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 11:9; Deuteronomy 17:20; Deuteronomy 22:7; Deuteronomy 32:47; Ezekiel 20:17. As death is the punishment of sin, so prolongation of life to the time which God has now made its natural term, seems the more a token of His goodness. This promise Isaiah had renewed, "There shall no more be an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days" Isaiah 65:20. In those fierce wars neither young nor very old were spared. It implied then a long peace, that people should live to that utmost verge of human life.

The man, whose staff is in his hand for the multitude of days - The two opposite pictures, the old men, Dionysius), "so aged that they support with a staff their failing and trembling limbs," and the young in the glad buoyancy of recent life, fresh from their Creator's hands, attest alike the goodness of the Creator, who protecteth both, the children in their yet undeveloped strength, the very old whom He hath brought through "all the changes and chances of this mortal life," in their yet sustained weakness. The tottering limbs of the very old, and the elastic perpetual motion of childhood are like far distant chords of the diapason of the Creator's love. It must have been one of the most piteous sights in that first imminent destruction of Jerusalem Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:21, how "the children and the sucklings swooned in the streets of the city; how the young children fainted for hunger in the top of every street" Lamentations 2:11, Lamentations 2:19.

We have but to picture to ourselves any city in which one lives, the ground strewn with these little all-but corpses, alive only to suffer. We know not, how great the relief of the yet innocent, almost indomitable joyousness of children is, until we miss them. In the dreadful Irish famine of 1847 the absence of the children from the streets of Galway was told me by Religious as one of its dreariest features . In the dreary back-streets and alleys of London, the irrepressible joyousness of children is one of the bright sun-beams of that great Babylon, amid the oppressiveness of the anxious, hard, luxurious; thoughtless, careworn, eager, sensual, worldly, frivolous, vain, stolid, sottish, cunning, faces, which traverse it. God sanctions by His word here our joy in the joyousness of children, that He too taketh pleasure in it, He the Father of all. It is precisely their laughing, the fullness of her streets of these merry creations of His hands, that He speaks of with complacency.

5. boys and girls playing—implying security and a numerous progeny, accounted a leading blessing among the Jews. Contrast Jer 6:11; 9:21. The streets; every street.

Shall be full of boys and girls; have many young ones healthful, strong, brisk, and lively, the present joy and future hope of all; so will I fulfil the promise of multiplying your children.

Playing in the streets: Jerusalem shall be in that peace, health, and plenty, that parents shall neither fear danger to their children abroad, nor need their labour at home. So shall that Psalm 128 be fulfilled to them. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls,.... Denoting a large increase of inhabitants, in a literal sense; and may spiritually signify the large numbers of converts, of new born babes, who are regenerated by the grace and Spirit of God, and are accounted of by the Lord for a generation:

playing the streets thereof; being in health and rigour, and in great security. The Targum renders it, "singing" or "praising in the spacious places thereof"; singing the praises of God in Gospel strains; saying their Hosannas to the Son of David; rejoicing in the great salvation by Christ, and magnifying the grace of God, and setting forth the glories of it in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs; see Matthew 11:16. In Jerusalem, literally taken, there were various streets, besides the street of the temple, which led to it, Ezra 10:9 mention is made of others in Jewish writings, as of the upper street (k), and of the street of the butchers, and of the street of those that dealt in wool (l).

(k) Misn. Shekalim, c. 8. sect. 1.((l) Misn. Erubin, c. 10. sect. 9.

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
Verse 5. - Full of boys and girls. Jerusalem and the other cities had long been strangers to any such happy sight. Large increase of population is a blessing often promised in the latter days (Hosea 1:10; Micah 2:12). Perowne remarks that our Lord alludes to the games of children the marketplaces as a familiar incident his days (Matthew 11:16, 17; comp. Jeremiah 11). "In that day wilt thou not be ashamed of all thy doings, wherewith thou hast transgressed against me; for then will I remove from the midst of thee those that rejoice in thy pride, and thou wilt no more pride thyself upon my holy mountain. Zephaniah 3:12. And I leave in the midst of thee a people bowed down and poor, and they trust in the name of Jehovah. Zephaniah 3:13. The remnant of Israel will not do wrong, and not speak lies, and there will not be found in their mouth a tongue of deceit; for they will feed and rest, and no one will terrify them." The congregation, being restored to favour, will be cleansed and sanctified by the Lord from every sinful thing. The words of Zephaniah 3:11 are addressed to the Israel gathered together from the dispersion, as the daughter of Zion (cf. Zephaniah 3:14). "In that day" refers to the time of judgment mentioned before, viz., to the day when Jehovah rises up for prey (Zephaniah 3:8). לא תבושׁי, thou wilt not need to be ashamed of all thine iniquities; because, as the explanatory clauses which follow clearly show, they occur no more. This is the meaning of the words, and not, as Ewald imagines, that Jerusalem will no more be bowed down by the recollection of them. The perfect אשׁר פּשׁעתּ does indeed point to the sins of former times; not to the recollection of them, however, but to the commission of them. For the proud and sinners will then be exterminated from the congregation. עלּיזי גאוה is taken from Isaiah 13:3, where it denotes the heroes called by Jehovah, who exult with pride caused by the intoxication of victory; whereas here the reference is to the haughty judges, priests, and prophets (Zephaniah 3:3 and Zephaniah 3:4), who exult in their sinful ways. גּבהה a feminine form of the infinitive, like moshchâh in Exodus 29:29, etc. (cf. Ges. 45, 1, b, and Ewald, 236, a). גּבהּ, to be haughty, as in Isaiah 3:16. The prophet mentions pride as the root of all sins. The holy mountain is not Canaan as a mountainous country, but the temple mountain, as in the parallel passage, Isaiah 11:9. The people left by the Lord, i.e., spared in the judgment, and gathered together again out of the dispersion, will be ‛ânı̄ and dal. The two words are often connected together as synonyms, e.g., Isaiah 26:6 and Job 34:28. עני is not to be confounded with ענו, gentle or meek, but signifies bowed down, oppressed with the feeling of impotence for what is good, and the knowledge that deliverance is due to the compassionate grace of God alone; it is therefore the opposite of proud, which trusts in its own strength, and boasts of its own virtue. The leading characteristic of those who are bowed down will be trust in the Lord, the spiritual stamp of genuine piety. This remnant of Israel, the ἐκλογή of the people of God, will neither commit injustice, nor practise wickedness and deceit with word and tongue, will therefore be a holy nation, answering to its divine calling (Exodus 19:6), just as God does not wrong (Zephaniah 3:5), and the servant of Jehovah has no deceit in his mouth (Isaiah 53:9). What is stated here can, of course, not refer to those who were brought back from Babylon, as Calvin supposes, taking the words comparatively, because there were many hypocrites among the exiles, and adding, "because the Lord will thus wipe away all stains from His people, that the holiness may then appear all the purer." The prophetic announcement refers to the time of perfection, which commenced with the coming of Christ, and will be completely realized at His return to judgment. Strauss very appropriately compares the words of John, "Whatsoever is born of God doth not commit sin" (1 John 3:9). Zephaniah explains what he says, by adding the assurance of the blessing which is promised in the law as the reward of faithful walk in the commandments of the Lord. This reason rests upon the assumption that they only rejoice in the promised blessing who walk in the commandments of God. In this respect the enjoyment of the blessing yields a practical proof that wrong and wickedness occur no more. The words ירעוּ ורבצוּ may be explained from the comparison of the remnant of Israel to a flock both in Micah 7:14 and Luke 12:32 ("little flock;" for the fact itself, compare Micah 4:4). This blessing is still further developed in what follows, first of all by a reference to the removal of the judgments of God (Zephaniah 3:14-17), and secondly by the promise of God that all the obstacles which prevent the enjoyment of the blessing are to be cleared away (Zephaniah 3:18-20).
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