Zechariah 9:12
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
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Zechariah 9:12. Turn you to the strong hold — To Zion, to the church of God, the strong city, mentioned Isaiah 26:1, which has salvation for walls and bulwarks; to the name of the Lord, which is a strong tower, his mercy, truth, and grace: ye that are under any bondage or oppression, any trouble or distress, do not despair, be not discouraged, but apply to and rely upon the blood of the new covenant; hasten to Christ, through whose blood alone you can have redemption, reconciliation, peace, and comfort. Ye prisoners of hope — Captives, yet not without hope. The Jews that were returned out of captivity into their own land were yet, in effect, but prisoners, servants, as they confess themselves to be, even in the land which God had given them, Nehemiah 9:36; yet prisoners of hope, or expectation, for God had given them a little reviving in their bondage, Ezra 9:8-9. Those that continued still in Babylon, detained by their affairs there, yet lived in hope, some time or other, to see their own land again: now both these descriptions of Jews are here directed to turn their eyes to the Messiah, set before them in the promise, as their strong hold, to take shelter in him and stay themselves upon him, for the perfecting of the mercy which, by his grace, and for his sake, was so gloriously begun. But, as their deliverance was typical of our redemption by Christ, Zechariah 9:11, so this invitation to the strong hold speaks the language of the gospel call. Sinners are prisoners, but they are prisoners of hope; their case is sad, but it is not desperate; there is yet hope in Israel concerning them. Christ is a strong hold for them, a strong tower, in whom they may be safe and quiet from the fear of the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the assaults of their spiritual enemies: to him they must turn by a lively faith, to him they must flee, and in his name they must trust.

Even to-day — In this day of lowest distress, when things appear to be at the worst, and you think your case deplorable to the last degree, I declare — I solemnly promise, that I will render double unto thee — To thee, O Jerusalem, to every one of you prisoners of hope; I will give you comforts double to the sorrows you have experienced; or blessings double to what I ever bestowed upon your fathers, even when their condition was at the best; the glory of your latter state, as well as of your latter house, shall be greater, yea, twice as great as that of your former. Now this it was no otherwise than by the coming of the Messiah, the preaching of the gospel, and the setting up of his kingdom. These spiritual blessings in heavenly things were double to what they had ever enjoyed in their most prosperous state. Now as a pledge of this, to be enjoyed in the fulness of time, God in the next verses promises to the Jews victory, plenty, and joy, in their own land, which yet would be but a type and shadow of more glorious victories, riches, and joys, in the kingdom of Christ.

9:9-17 The prophet breaks forth into a joyful representation of the coming of the Messiah, of whom the ancient Jews explained this prophecy. He took the character of their King, when he entered Jerusalem amidst the hosannas of the multitude. But his kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. It shall not be advanced by outward force or carnal weapons. His gospel shall be preached to the world, and be received among the heathen. A sinful state is a state of bondage; it is a pit, or dungeon, in which there is no water, no comfort; and we are all by nature prisoners in this pit. Through the precious blood of Christ, many prisoners of Satan have been set at liberty from the horrible pit in which they must otherwise have perished, without hope or comfort. While we admire Him, let us seek that his holiness and truth may be shown in our own spirits and conduct. These promises have accomplishment in the spiritual blessings of the gospel which we enjoy by Jesus Christ. As the deliverance of the Jews was typical of redemption by Christ, so this invitation speaks to all the language of the gospel call. Sinners are prisoners, but prisoners of hope; their case is sad, but not desperate; for there is hope in Israel concerning them. Christ is a Strong-hold, a strong Tower, in whom believers are safe from the fear of the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the assaults of spiritual enemies. To him we must turn with lively faith; to him we must flee, and trust in his name under all trials and sufferings. It is here promised that the Lord would deliver his people. This passage also refers to the apostles, and the preachers of the gospel in the early ages. God was evidently with them; his words from their lips pierced the hearts and consciences of the hearers. They were wondrously defended in persecution, and were filled with the influences of the Holy Spirit. They were saved by the Good Shepherd as his flock, and honoured as jewels of his crown. The gifts, graces, and consolations of the Spirit, poured forth on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2 and in succeeding times, are represented. Sharp have been, and still will be, the conflicts of Zion's sons, but their God will give them success. The more we are employed, and satisfied with his goodness, the more we shall admire the beauty revealed in the Redeemer. Whatever gifts God bestows on us, we must serve him cheerfully with them; and, when refreshed with blessings, we must say, How great is his goodness!Turn ye to the stronghold - that is, Almighty God; as the Psalmists so often say, "The Lord is the defense of my life" (Psalm 27:1, add Psalm 31:5; Psalm 37:39; Psalm 43:2; Psalm 52:9); and Joel, "The Lord shall be a stronghold of the children, of Israel" ; and Nahum, "The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble" Nahum 1:7; And, David said, "Thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower against the enemy" Psalm 61:3; "the Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and is safe" Proverbs 18:10; and again, "Be Thou to me a rock of strength, a house of defense to save me - Bring me forth out of the net that they have laid privily for me; for Thou art my stronghold" . The "stronghold," "cut off" from all approach from an enemy, stands in contrast with the deep dungeon of calamity. The "return" must be a willing return, one in their own power; "return to the stronghold," which is Almighty God, must be by conversion of heart and will. Even a Jewish commentator Kimchi paraphrases, "Turn ye to God; for He is a stronghold and tower of strength."

Ye prisoners of - (the) hope Not, accordingly, any hope, or generally, "hope," but the special hope of Israel, "the hope" which sustained them in all those years of patient expectations, as Paul speaks of "the hope of Israel," for which he says, "I am bound with this chain" Acts 28:20. "I stand to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, serving God instantly day and night, hope to come; for which hope's sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews" Acts 26:6-7. And in his Epistles, "the hope laid up for you in heaven" Colossians 1:5; "the hope of the Gospel" Colossians 1:23; and, "looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" Titus 2:13. He writes also of "keeping the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" Hebrews 3:6; of "the full assurance of the hope unto the end" Hebrews 6:11; of "fleeing to lay hold on the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast" Hebrews 6:18-19. He does not speak of hope as a grace or theological virtue, but, objectively, as the thing hoped for. So Zechariah calls to them as bound, held fast by "the hope," bound, as it were, to it and by it, so as not to let it go, amid the persecution of the world, or weariness of expectation; as Paul also says, "before faith came, we were guarded, kept in ward, under the law, shut up unto the faith which was about to be revealed" Galatians 3:23.

Even to-day - Amid all contrary appearances, "do I declare, that I will render double unto thee;" as He had said by Isaiah, "For your shame ye shall have double" Isaiah 61:7.

12. stronghold—in contrast to the "pit" (Zec 9:11); literally, "a place cut off from access." Maurer thinks, "a height" (Ps 18:33). An image for the security which the returning Jews shall have in Messiah (Zec 9:8) encamped about His people (Ps 46:1, 5; compare Isa 49:9; Pr 18:10).

prisoners of hope—that is, who in spite of afflictions (Job 13:15; Ps 42:5, 11) maintain hope in the covenant-keeping God; in contrast to unbelievers, who say, "There is no hope" (Jer 2:25; 18:12). Especially those Jews who believe God's word to Israel (Jer 31:17), "there is hope in the end, that thy children shall come again to their own border," and do not say, as in Eze 37:11, "Our hope is lost." Primarily, the Jews of Zechariah's time are encouraged not to be dispirited in building by their trials; secondarily, the Jews before the coming restoration are encouraged to look to Messiah for deliverance from their last oppressors.

even to-day—when your circumstances seem so unpromising; in contrast with the "day of the Lord," when Zion's King shall come to her deliverance (Zec 9:9).

I will render double—Great as has been thy adversity, thy prosperity shall be doubly greater (Isa 61:7).

Turn you: the prophet exhorts the Jews, both those in Babylon still, and those already in Canaan, to hasten up to

the strong hold; to Jerusalem, say some, which had been a strong hold, and which was now to be built again, as the high places of the earth; or to Christ, who is the salvation and high tower of his church.

Ye prisoners of hope; captives in Babylon, yet under a promise from God, and under an edict from Cyrus, that you shall return; this gives you hope, this maketh you prisoners of expectation.

Even today, in this day of lowest distress,

I declare that I will render double unto thee; either more than thy fathers ever received, or double, that is, twice as much, good enjoyed as ever was thy evil suffered, as Isaiah 40:2.

Turn you: the prophet exhorts the Jews, both those in Babylon still, and those already in Canaan, to hasten up to

the strong hold; to Jerusalem, say some, which had been a strong hold, and which was now to be built again, as the high places of the earth; or to Christ, who is the salvation and high tower of his church.

Ye prisoners of hope; captives in Babylon, yet under a promise from God, and under an edict from Cyrus, that you shall return; this gives you hope, this maketh you prisoners of expectation.

Even today, in this day of lowest distress,

I declare that I will render double unto thee; either more than thy fathers ever received, or double, that is, twice as much, good enjoyed as ever was thy evil suffered, as Isaiah 40:2.

Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope,.... "That hope for redemption", as the Targum paraphrases it; not for redemption from the Babylonish captivity, at the end of seventy years, which was now over; but for redemption and salvation by Christ; for not the people of the Jews, who stayed in Babylon, can be meant; for, as they were at liberty to go from thence by the edict of Cyrus, they can not be said to be prisoners, much less prisoners hoping for deliverance, when they had, or might have it; but rather the Jews, who were come out of Babylon, as out of a pit, wherein was no water; out of an uncomfortable state and condition, and yet in their own land were encompassed with many straits and difficulties, through the opposition they met with from many, who discouraged and hindered them in their work; but were hoping they should surmount all their difficulties, and get out of their troubles: though it seems better to understand it of such, who, about the time of the Messiah's coming, were looking for the consolation and redemption of Israel, and hoping and waiting for it; as good old Simeon, and others, who were prisoners under the former dispensation; but expecting deliverance and salvation by the Messiah. It may be applied to all sensible sinners, in every age and period of time; all men are concluded in sin, shut up under the law, and led captive by Satan; but some are not sensible of their imprisoned state, nor desirous of being out of it, nor have any hope concerning it; others groan under their bondage, long for deliverance, and are hoping for it: they hope that Christ will receive them, and save them; that he will pardon their sins; that the Spirit of God has begun a good work in them, and will perform it; and that they shall enjoy eternal glory and happiness; for all which there is good ground to hope: as that Christ will receive sinners sensible of their lost perishing condition into his arms of mercy; since he is the good Samaritan, the merciful High Priest, the compassionate Saviour; who, in his love and pity, has redeemed the sons of men; and seeing he died for sinners, even the chief of them; and therefore it need not be doubted that he will receive them; and, besides, he has made kind invitations to them to come to him, and has promised he will in no wise reject them; and has actually received sinners, and most kindly and tenderly embraced them: as also that they shall be saved by him; since complete salvation is wrought out by him, and that for such as are lost, and even the most abandoned of sinners; and which is freely to be had, not according to the works of men, or as they shall deserve; but purely through the free grace of God, and his abundant mercy in Christ: as well as that their sins shall be pardoned of God for his sake, seeing there is forgiveness with God; he has promised, proclaimed, and published it; the blood of Christ has been shed for it; and he is exalted as a Saviour to give it, and has ordered it to be preached in his name; and some of the greatest of sinners have had their sins forgiven them: likewise such have good ground to hope that the work of God is begun in them; though it may be at present but a day of small things with them; there being some light let into them, as to their state, and the way of salvation by Christ; some fear of God, and love to him, to Christ, his people, truths, ordinances, ways, and worship; sin is become odious, and Christ precious: and good reason they have to hope, and even to be confident, that this good work will be performed in them, though at times they have many fears about it; since it is in such good hands, and the glory of all the divine Persons is concerned in it; wherefore they may most safely go on to hope for eternal life, which God has promised, before the world began, is in Christ, and in his hands to give; and is the free gift of God through him, whose righteousness entitles to it, and whose grace makes meet for it; wherefore, having the one, they may truly hope for the other; for grace is a well of living water, springing up unto eternal life: such as these may well be called prisoners of hope; partakers of that grace, and as it were shut up in it, and under the influence and in the exercise of it; which is a gift of grace; is of the operation of the Spirit of God, through whose power it is exercised; is founded on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; is encouraged by the promises of the Gospel; and is increased through the discoveries of the love of God; and deals with things unseen and future: and those who have the least share of it, as these described are supposed to have, are here encouraged "to turn to the strong hold"; by which is meant, not Judea, nor Jerusalem, nor the temple in it, nor the church of God; but rather the blessed God, as Kimchi interprets it; and indeed a divine Person is intended, even the Messiah, who is a "strong hold" for refuge, and was typified by the cities of refuge, whither the manslayer fled, and was safe; to which the allusion may well be thought to be, since one of the names of the cities of refuge was Bezer, which signifies a fortress, or strong hold; and comes from the same root as the word here used: and such who are enabled and encouraged to flee to Christ for refuge, are safe from vindictive justice, which is fully satisfied by the blood, righteousness, and atoning sacrifice of Christ; and from the law, its curses, and condemnation; Christ being made a curse for them, and having had its sentence of condemnation executed on him; and from all their sins, and the sad effects of them; from the guilt of them, and obligation to punishment by them; from Satan, and all enemies, in whose power it is not to destroy them, being out of their reach; and from the wrath of God, everlasting destruction, and the second death: and such find Christ to be a strong habitation, or a dwellingplace; where they may and do dwell safely, pleasantly, and comfortably, enjoying plenty of all good things; their bread in this munition of rocks being given to them, and their water sure unto them; and to "turn" to it is to quit all other dependencies, and to believe in Christ, and trust all with him:

even today do I declare that I will render double unto thee; which is said, either to the church, or rather to her prisoners, to each of them, to encourage them to flee to Christ, and trust in him; seeing, by the present declaration of grace made, they may expect to enjoy all fulness of grace, plenty of blessings, temporal and spiritual; the promise of this life, and that which is to come; all spiritual blessings in Christ, grace here, and glory hereafter. So "double" signifies anything large, sufficient, plentiful, Isaiah 40:2 particularly the Spirit and his grace; and double comfort from him, instead of distress and trouble before experienced: according to the accents, the word for "double" is to be connected with the word "declare", and be read "this day", at this present time, however distressing it may be, or you in it be attended with uncomfortable and distressed circumstances, "I declare double" (n); double grace, as some supply it, an abundance of it; which "I will render unto thee"; to everyone of the prisoners of hope, who turn to the strong hold Christ, in whom they will find a fulness of all grace, and shall receive out of it grace for grace; double grace, a large measure of it; double to what was received under the former dispensation. Cocceius renders it "another declarer", discoverer, or shewer forth, "do I render unto thee" (o); meaning the Spirit of God, the other Comforter from the Father: Christ was the first declarer, who declared his Father, his nature, perfections, purposes, mind, and will, John 1:18 the Holy Spirit is the second, or the other declarer, who was to bring all things to remembrance spoken by Christ, and to lead into all truth, and show things to come, and to take of the things of Christ, and show them to his people, John 14:16 and who was sent after Christ, was received up into heaven, as his second, his deputy, to officiate in his room and stead; as this word is used sometimes of the second priest, or sagan, or deputy of the high priest, Jeremiah 52:24.

(n) "annuncians duplicem gratiam, quam reddam tibi", Vatablus. (o) "Indicem alterum reddo tibi", Cocceius.

Turn ye to the {t} strong hold, ye {u} prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render {x} double to thee;

(t) That is, into the holy land where the city and the temple are, where God will defend you.

(u) Meaning the faithful, who seemed to be in danger of their enemies on every side, and yet lived in hope that God would restore them to liberty.

(x) That is, double benefits and prosperity, in respect of that which your fathers enjoyed from David's time to the captivity.

12. This verse coheres closely with the verse which precedes it, and a full stop should be printed at the end of it, as in R. V. There is a sharp contrast between the stronghold here and the pit there. And the prisoners of hope in this verse are the prisoners to whom, while yet in the pit, the promise and hope of deliverance had been given in that verse.

strong hold] There may be a reference to the hill of Zion, or to the rocky fastnesses of Palestine, to which the exiles who had escaped from the pit or dungeon in Babylon were to turn, or return; but it may be merely a figurative expression (comp. Psalm 40:2), and certainly is so in its higher spiritual and Christian application (Luke 4:18-21).

prisoners of hope] Comp. ἡ κτίσις ὑπετάγη ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, κ. τ. λ., Romans 8:20-21.

double] Comp. Isaiah 61:7. From Exodus 16:22, Job 42:10, it would appear that this means a very large and full measure (lit. twice as much as before) of blessing and prosperity.

Verse 12. - The prophet calls on the prisoners to avail themselves of the offered deliverance. Turn you to the stronghold. Return ye to Zion, the city defended by God (Zechariah 2:5), and able to afford you a safe asylum. (For the spiritual meaning, see Luke 4:18-21.) Ye prisoners of hope. Captives who have good hope of deliverance because they are still in covenant with God. Septuagint, δέσμιοι τῆς συναγωγῆς, "prisoners of the synagogue." Pusey remarks that "hope" here and nowhere else has the article, and that what is meant is "the Hope of Israel," that of which St. Paul spoke (Acts 26:6, 7 and Acts 28:20). Even today. In spite of all contrary appearances. Septuagint, ἀντὶ μιᾶς ἡμέρας παροικεσίας σου, "for one day of thy sojourning." Double. A double measure of blessing in compensation for past suffering (Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 61:7). There ought to be a full stop at the end of this verse, as in the Revised Version. Zechariah 9:12Israel's Redemption from Captivity, and Victory over the Heathen. - Zechariah 9:11. "Thou also, for the sake of thy covenant blood, I release thy captives out of the pit wherein there is no water. Zechariah 9:12. Return to the fortress, ye prisoners of hope. Even to-day I:proclaim: Double will I repay to thee." This is addressed to the daughter Zion, i.e., to all Israel, consisting of Ephraim and Judah. We not only learn this from the context, since both of them are spoken of before (Zechariah 9:10) and afterwards (Zechariah 9:13); but it is also obvious from the expression bedam berı̄thēkh, since the covenant blood belonged to all Israel of the twelve tribes (Exodus 24:8). גּם־אתּ stands at the head absolutely, on account of the emphasis lying upon the אתּ. But as the following clause, instead of being directly attached to אתּ, is so constructed that the pronoun אתּ is continued with suffixes, the question arises, to what the גּם is to be taken as referring, or which is the antithesis indicated by גּם. The answer may easily be obtained if we only make it clear to ourselves which of the two words, with the second pers. suffix, forms the object of the assertion made in the entire clause. This is not בּדם־בּריתך, but אסיריך: thou also ( equals thee) - namely, thy prisoners - I release. But the emphasis intended by the position in which גּם־אתּ is placed does not rest upon the prisoners of Israel in contrast with any other prisoners, but in contrast with the Israel in Jerusalem, the daughter Zion, to which the King is coming. Now, although גּם actually belongs to אסיריך, it refers primarily to the אתּ to which it is attached, and this only receives its more precise definition afterwards in אסיריך. And the allusion intended by גּם is simply somewhat obscured by the fact, that before the statement to which it gives emphasis בּדם־בּריתך is inserted, in order from the very first to give a firm pledge of the promise to the people, by declaring the motive which induced God to make this fresh manifestation of grace to Israel. This motive also acted as a further reason for placing the pronoun אתּ at the head absolutely, and shows that אתּ is to be taken as an address, as for example in Genesis 49:8. בּדם־בּריתך: literally, being in thy covenant blood, because sprinkled therewith, the process by which Israel was expiated and received into covenant with God (Exodus 24:8). "The covenant blood, which still separates the church and the world from one another, was therefore a certain pledge to the covenant nation of deliverance out of all trouble, so long, that is to say, as it did not render the promise nugatory by wickedly violating the conditions imposed by God" (Hengstenberg). The new matter introduced by גּם־אתּ in Zechariah 9:11 is therefore the following: The pardon of Israel will not merely consist in the fact that Jehovah will send the promised King to the daughter Zion; but He will also redeem such members of His nation as shall be still in captivity out of their affliction. The perfect shillachtı̄ is prophetic. Delivering them out of a pit without water is a figure denoting their liberation out of the bondage of exile. This is represented with an evident allusion to the history of Joseph in Genesis 37:22, as lying in a pit wherein there is no water, such as were used as prisons (cf. Jeremiah 38:6). Out of such a pit the captive could not escape, and would inevitably perish if he were not drawn out. The opposite of the pit is בּצּרון, a place cut off, i.e., fortified, not the steep height, although fortified towns were generally built upon heights. The prisoners are to return where they will be secured against their enemies; compare Psalm 40:3, where the rock is opposed to the miry pit, as being a place upon which it is possible to stand firmly. "Prisoners of hope" is an epithet applied to the Israelites, because they possess in their covenant blood a hope of redemption. גּם־היּום, also to-day, i.e., even to-day or still to-day, "notwithstanding all threatening circumstances" (Ewald, Hengstenberg). I repay thee double, i.e., according to Isaiah 61:7, a double measure of glory in the place of the sufferings.
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