Zechariah 9:15
The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
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!The Lord of hosts, shall defend them - As God says, "I will defend this city to save it, for Mine own sake and for My servant David's sake" . The word is used by Isaiah only before Zechariah, and of the protection of Almighty God. The image of the complete protection on all sides stands first in God's words to Abraham, "I am thy shield" Genesis 15:1; David thence says to God, "Thou, O Lord, art a shield around me" (Psalm 3:4, (Psalm 3:3 in English)).

And they shall devour, and subdue - Or more probably (as in the margin), "shall tread on, the stones of the sling," as in the image of leviathan in Job, "The son of the bow will not make him flee; sling-stones are to him turned into stubble; clubs are counted as stubble; he laugheth at the shaking of a spear" (Job 41:20-21 (28, 29 English)). Their enemies shall fall under them, as harmless and as of little account as the slingstones which have missed their aim, and lie as the road to be passed over. It is not expressed what they shall devour, and so the image is not carried out, but left indefinite, as destruction or absorption only; as in that, "thou shalt consume (literally, eat) all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee" Deuteronomy 7:16; and, "they are our bread" Numbers 14:9; and in that, "they shall devour (literally, eat) all the people round about" Zechariah 12:6, where the image is of fire, not of eating. The one thought seems to be, that their enemies should cease to be, so as to molest them any more, whether by ceasing to be their enemies or by ceasing to be. There is no comparison here, (as in Balaam) with the lion; or of eating flesh or drinking blood, which, apart from the image of the wild beast, would be intolerable to Israel, to whom the use of blood, even of animals, was so strictly forbidden. They should disappear, as completely as fuel before the fire, or food before the hungry. The fire was invigorated, not extinguished, by the multitude of the fuel: the multitude of the enemies but nerved and braced those, whom they sought to destroy.

And they shall be filled like bowls, like the corners of the altar - They shall be consecrated instruments of God; they shall not prevail for themselves, but for Him; they shall be hallowed like the bowls of the temple, from which the sacrificial blood is sprinkled on His altar, or "as the corners of the altar" which receive it.

15. devour—the flesh of their foes.

drink—the blood of their foes; that is, utterly destroy them. Image (as Jer 46:10) from a sacrifice, wherein part of the flesh was eaten, and the blood poured in libation (compare Isa 63:1, &c.).

subdue with sling-stones—or, "tread under foot the sling-stones" hurled by the foe at them; that is, will contemptuously trample on the hostile missiles which shall fall harmless under their feet (compare Job 41:28). Probably, too, it is implied that their foes are as impotent as the common stones used in slinging when they have fallen under foot: in contrast to the people of God (Zec 9:16), "the (precious) stones of a crown" (compare 1Sa 25:29) [Maurer]. English Version is good sense: The Jews shall subdue the foe at the first onset, with the mere slingers who stood in front of the line of battle and began the engagement. Though armed with but sling-stones, like David against Goliath, they shall subdue the foe (Jud 20:16; 1Ch 12:2) [Grotius].

noise—the battle shout.

through wine—(Zec 10:7). The Spirit of God fills them with triumph (Eph 5:18).

filled—with blood.

like bowls—the bowls used to receive the blood of the sacrifices.

as … corners—or "horns" of the altar, which used to be sprinkled with blood from the bowls (Ex 29:12; Le 4:18).

The Lord of hosts shall defend them; in the most dangerous attempts the Jews, under their captains in the wars against the Grecians, were preserved to a miracle, according to this promise.

They shall devour; a few of them destroy many of their enemies.

Subdue with sling stones: as we read this passage, it seems to refer to the slaughter of Goliath with a sling, by David, a stripling; so weak means, in the hand and trader the blessing of the great God, shall do mighty things: others read the words, they shall subdue the sling-stones, that is, conquer the Grecians, who in their wars used the sling, and that with great dexterity and success.

They shall drink, in their festivals, when they offered sacrifices of thanksgiving for their victories.

Make a noise, shout with shouts of triumph, make a great noise, as through wine; as men do whose hearts are glad with success, and cheered with wine.

They shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar; rather, they shall fill, i.e. with the blood of the sacrifices they offer, both the bowls and corners of the altars, all shall be full of the blood of eucharistical sacrifices.

The Lord of hosts shall defend them; in the most dangerous attempts the Jews, under their captains in the wars against the Grecians, were preserved to a miracle, according to this promise.

They shall devour; a few of them destroy many of their enemies.

Subdue with sling stones: as we read this passage, it seems to refer to the slaughter of Goliath with a sling, by David, a stripling; so weak means, in the hand and trader the blessing of the great God, shall do mighty things: others read the words, they shall subdue the sling-stones, that is, conquer the Grecians, who in their wars used the sling, and that with great dexterity and success.

They shall drink, in their festivals, when they offered sacrifices of thanksgiving for their victories.

Make a noise, shout with shouts of triumph, make a great noise, as through wine; as men do whose hearts are glad with success, and cheered with wine.

They shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar; rather, they shall fill, i.e. with the blood of the sacrifices they offer, both the bowls and corners of the altars, all shall be full of the blood of eucharistical sacrifices. The Lord of hosts shall defend them,.... Against all their enemies; against Satan, and his temptations, and all the opposition made by him; against the world, and all the rage and reproach of men; this was remarkably verified in the apostles, who were preserved by the Lord amidst a thousand snares and dangers; and who was able to do it, being Jehovah, and the Lord of armies in heaven and in earth; he was as a shield unto them, as the word (t) used signifies; and to which he is often compared in Scripture. The Targum renders it,

"the Lord of hosts shall have mercy on them;''

he encompassed them about with his favour as with a shield:

and they shall devour; or "eat" (u); spiritual food; Christ the bread of life; whose flesh is meat indeed, and who is lived upon by faith; the blessings and promises of the everlasting covenant, of which the meek eat, and are satisfied; the Gospel and the truths of it, the words of faith and good doctrine, with which faithful ministers are nourished; all which is necessary, that they may be strengthened, and qualified to feed others with knowledge and understanding:

and subdue with sling stones; such who are stouthearted, and far from righteousness; who become by their ministry penitent and humble, and subject to Christ, his Gospel and ordinances, even by the means of preaching of the word, which seem very unpromising and unlikely; being to men foolishness, and like the scrip and sling David took with him, and by which he brought Goliath down to the ground:

and they shall drink; of the love of God, which, for its antiquity, purity, and refreshing nature, is like the best wine; and of the blood of Christ, which is drink indeed; and of the grace of the Spirit, which revives, strengthens, and extinguishes thirst:

and make a noise as through wine; being full of joy and thankfulness for their spiritual food and drink; and so warm, zealous, and fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; free and open in their ministrations, loudly proclaiming the grace of God; bold, and fearless of danger:

and they shall be filled like bowls; that were full of the blood of the offerings, as Jarchi and Kimchi explain it; or rather, as the Targum, that were full of fine flour and oil; they having their souls filled with good things, as the first of the above writers observes; a comfortable view of interest in the love of God; a large measure of spiritual joy, and a fulness of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, qualifying them for their work:

and, as the corners of the altar; the Targum is,

"they shall shine as the blood that shines upon the wall of the altar;''

at the corners of which it was poured out; signifying that they should be as full of the Spirit, and spiritual things, as the altar was of blood: so the Jewish writers say, when the priest took the blood in the bowl, he sprinkled of it two sprinklings upon the two corners of the altar, on the diameter of it, and below upon the northeast horn, and upon the southwest horn; and he ordered it so, as to sprinkle the blood on the horn, that it might surround the corners, and that the blood might be on the four sides of the altar round about (w).

(t) "obteget", Burkius. (u) "ut comedant", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Tarnovius, "et edent", Burkius. (w) Maimon. Maase Hakorbanot, c. 5. sect. 6.

The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, {z} and subdue the sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.

(z) He promises that the Jews will destroy their enemies, and have abundance and excess of all things, as there is abundance on the altar when the sacrifice is offered. And these things are not to move them to excess, but to sobriety, and a thankful remembrance of God's great liberality.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
15. The Lord of hosts shall defend them] See, for examples of the first fulfilment, 1Ma 3:16-24; 1Ma 4:6-16; 1Ma 7:40-50.

devour] It is not said what they shall devour. Calvin takes this and what follows literally of eating and drinking, i.e. of enjoying plenty: “Adjungit etiam fore illis copiam panis et vini, ut saturentur.” Others, as Pusey, supply “their enemies” after “devour” and take it as an image of “destruction or absorption only, as in that, thou shall consume [lit. eat] all the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee, Deuteronomy 7:16.” Comp. Numbers 14:9. But then no adequate sense is given to the following clauses, Thou shalt drink, &c. It seems best to regard the whole as a figurative description of a wild beast devouring its prey: they shall devour (the flesh of their enemies, comp. Numbers 23:24); they shall tread on (them, as on) sling stones; they shall drink (their blood) and make a noise as through wine; they shall be filled (with it) like bowls (which hold the blood of the sacrifices), like the corners of the altar (round which it is copiously poured). See Leviticus 4:7; Leviticus 4:18; Leviticus 4:30.

sling stones] Comp. Job 41:28-29. The comparison of the Israelites to the precious “stones of a crown” in the next verse favours the view that their enemies themselves, and not the weapons which they hurl at them, are here compared to the “stones of a sling.” “Their enemies shall fall under them, as harmless and as of little account, as the sling-stones which have missed their aim (or spent their force), and lie as the road to be passed over.” Pusey.Verse 15. - Shall defend them; ὑπερασπιεῖ αὐτούς, "shall put his shield over them" (Septuagint). There are numerous examples, in the Books of Maccabees, of God's special interposition in his people's favour, and thus far and in part fulfilling this prophecy (see 1 Macc. 3:16-24 1 Macc. 4:6-16 1 Macc. 7:40-50; 2 Macc. 2:21, 22 2Macc. 3:24, etc.; 5:2-4; 11:8; 12:11,15, 22, 28, 37; 15:7, etc.). They shall devour. The prophet seems to have had in view Numbers 23:24, where Israel is compared to a lion, eating of the prey and drinking the blood of the slain. So here he says they shall "devour," i.e. the flesh of their enemies (comp. Micah 5:8). Subdue with sling stones. So the Vulgate, and virtually the Septuagint, taking the case of the noun as instrumental; but it is best to take it as accusative of the object, as in the margin of the Authorized Version, "They shall tread down the stones of the sling." The "slingstones" are the enemies, as in the next verse "the stones of a crown" are the Jews; and the sentence means that the Jews shall tread their enemies underfoot like spent slingstones, which are of no account. Or it may signify simply and without metaphor that they shall despise the enemies' missiles, which shall fall harmless among them (Job 41:28, 29). They shall drink the blood of the slain, like lions. Make a noise. As men exhilarated with wine. Vulgate, Bibentes inebriabuntur quasi a vino (Isaiah 49:26; Ezekiel 39:17-19). Shall be filled like bowls. They shall be filled with blood like the sacrificial vessels in which the blood of victims was received (Zechariah 14:20). The corners of the altar. The blood was also sprinkled on the corners or sides of the altar (Leviticus 1:5, 11; Leviticus 3:2). There may be included the notion that the war against God's enemies was a sacred war, and accepted by him as a sacrifice. In the Maccabean struggle the bloodshed was often very considerable (see 1 Macc. 7:32, 46 1 Macc. 11:47; 2 Macc. 8:30 2Macc. 10:17, 23, 31, etc.). Return of the Blessings of Nature. - Haggai 2:10. On the 24th day of the ninth month of the same year, that is to say, exactly three months after the congregation had resumed the building of the temple (cf. Haggai 1:15), and about two months after the second prophecy (Haggai 2:1), a new word of the Lord was uttered through Haggai to the people. It was now time, since the despondency which had laid hold of the people a few weeks after the recommencement of the building had been dispelled by the consolatory promises in vv. 6-9, and the work was vigorously pursued, to confirm the people in the fidelity which they had manifested, by bestowing upon them the blessing which had been withdrawn. To this end Haggai received the commission to make it perfectly clear to the people, that the curse which had rested upon them since the building of the temple had been neglected, had been nothing but a punishment for their indolence in not pushing forward the work of the Lord, and that from that time forth the Lord would bestow His blessing upon them again. The ninth month (Khislēv) corresponds very nearly to the period between the middle of November and the middle of December, when the sowing of the winter corps, that commenced after the feast of tabernacles, was finished, and the autumnal rain (early rain) had set in, so that in the abundant fall of this rain they might discern a trace of the divine blessing.
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