Zechariah 9:9
Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, your King comes to you: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding on an ass, and on a colt the foal of an ass.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion — To give still greater encouragement to God’s people, the prophet, after uttering the foregoing promises, was carried on by the Divine Spirit, which influenced him, to announce a still more remarkable instance of God’s special kindness to them, namely, the coming of their Messiah, or king, with reference to which this passage is cited in two places of the New Testament, Matthew 21:5; John 12:15; so that we can have no doubt of the application. But, from comparing these three texts, we may perceive that the evangelical writers were not over-scrupulous of adhering to the exact words of their original, whether they cited from the Hebrew or from the Greek; but were satisfied with giving the true sense of the passage, and taking more or less of it, as circumstances seemed to require. Behold, thy king cometh unto thee — He that is so often described in the prophets as the king of Israel; that was known by that name among the Jews in our Saviour’s time, and is repeatedly called by the name of David their king: see the margin. To him the kingdom did properly belong, and to him the gathering of the people was to be, Genesis 49:10. He is just, and having salvation — Or, He is righteous, and the Saviour, as the ancient versions have it. He is that righteous branch, and the Lord our righteousness, as he is described by Jeremiah 23:5; who was to execute justice and judgment in the earth; and the righteousness and salvation, that is, the Righteous One and Saviour, promised Isaiah 62:1. Unlike the proud and destructive conquerors of the earth, he shall not enter with a mighty cavalcade of horse, but shall come lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Although it is certain that the ancient Jews understood this prophecy of the Messiah, yet that this divine person, this king of Israel, should come unto them riding upon an ass, which, notwithstanding that in former ages patriarchs and judges thought it no disgrace to ride upon them, yet was then looked upon as below the dignity of any person of eminence, must, at the uttering of this prophecy, have appeared a very mysterious and improbable circumstance. But we who know that the only time when the Lord Jesus entered publicly into Jerusalem, he thought proper, as an example of humility and meekness, and of indifference to worldly pomp, to ride upon a young ass, or colt; and that, at the same time, the whole multitude were seized with such a sudden and extraordinary impulse of joy, that they spread their garments in the way, and cut down branches of trees and strowed them in the way, shouting unanimously, HOSANNAH, BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD — we, that know this remarkable circumstance, cannot but be greatly struck with this prophecy, as an admirable instance of the divine prescience, and a strong proof of the truth of Christianity.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!This custom prevailed among several nations. Thus Virgil:

- scutorumque incendi victor acervos.

AEneid, viii. 562.

There can be no doubt, I think, that the prophet here has his eye on the victories of the Messiah, and that he means to say, that in those victories all armor would be for fuel of fire; that is, that they would be achieved without hostile arms. Applied to the Messiah, it means either that his victories would be complete, or that in his victories all necessity of such armor would cease. According to this, the passage teaches that peace should be introduced by him without a conflict, and thus harmonizes with the numerous parallel passages in which peace is represented as a characteristic mark of the times of the Messiah, when contention, war, and destruction shall cease; see Isaiah 11:6-7.

Zechariah 9:9From the protection, which God promised to His people and to His House, the prophet passes on to Him who was ever in his thoughts, and for whose sake that people and temple were preserved. He had described the great conqueror of this world, sweeping along in his course of victory. In contrast with such as he, he now exhibits to his people the character and procession of their king. "Rejoice greatly." Not with this world's joy. God never exhorts man to "rejoice greatly" in this world's fleeting joys. He allows us to be glad, as children, before Him; He permits such buoyancy of heart, if innocent; but He does not command it. "Now" He commands His people to burst out into a jubilee of rejoicing: they were to dance and shout for gladness of spirit; "despising the poor exultation of this world and exulting with that exceeding" yet chaste joy, which befits the true bliss to be brought by their King and Saviour. Rup.: "This word, 'greatly,' means that there should be no measure whatever in their exultation; for the exultation of the children of the bridegroom is far unlike to the exultation of the children of this world." Cyril: "He biddeth the spiritual Zion rejoice, inasmuch as dejection was removed. For what cause of sorrow is there, when sin has been removed, death trampled under foot, and human nature called to the dignity of freedom, and crowned with the grace of adoption and illumined with the heavenly gift?"

Behold, thy king cometh unto thee - He does not say "a king," but "'thy' king;" thy king, thine own, the long-promised, the long-expected; He who, when they had kings of their own, given them by God, had been promised as "the" king ; "the righteous Ruler among men" 2 Samuel 23:3, of the seed of David; He who, above all other kings, was "their" King and Savior; whose kingdom was to absorb in itself all kingdoms of the earth; "the King of kings, and Lord of lords." Her king was to come "to her." He was in a manner then "of her," and "not of her;" "of her," since He was to be "her king," "not of her," since He was to "come to her." As Man, He was born of her: as God, the Word made flesh, He "came to" her. "'To thee,' to be manifest unto thee; 'to be thine by communion of nature' 1 Timothy 3:16; 'as He is thine, by the earnest of the Eternal Spirit and the gift of the Father, to procure thy good' Hebrews 2:14. 'Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given' Isaiah 9:6." Of this, His entry into Jerusalem was an image. But how should he come? "He shall come to thee," says an old Jewish writing, , "to atone thee; He shall come to thee, to upraise thee; He shall come to thee, to raise thee up to His temple, and to espouse thee with an everlasting espousal."

He is just and having salvation - Just or righteous, and the Fountain of justice or righteousness. For what He is, "that" He diffuseth. Righteousness which God "Is," and righteousness which God, made Man, imparts, are often blended in Holy Scripture. Isaiah 45:21; Isaiah 53:11; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Jeremiah 33:15-16; Malachi 4:2. This is also the source of the exceeding joy. For the coming of their king in righteousness would be, to sinful man, a cause, not of joy but of fear. This was the source of the Angel's message of joy; "I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people; for unto you is born this day, in the city of David, a Saviour" Luke 2:10-11.

continued...

9. From the coming of the Grecian conqueror, Zechariah makes a sudden transition, by the prophetical law of suggestion, to the coming of King Messiah, a very different character.

daughter of Zion—The theocratic people is called to "rejoice" at the coming of her King (Ps 2:11).

unto thee—He comes not for His own gain or pleasure, as earthly kings come, but for the sake of His Church: especially for the Jews' sake, at His second coming (Ro 11:26).

he is just—righteous: an attribute constantly given to Messiah (Isa 45:21; 53:11; Jer 23:5, 6) in connection with salvation. He does not merely pardon by conniving at sin, but He justifies by becoming the Lord our righteousness fulfiller, so that not merely mercy, but justice, requires the justification of the sinner who by faith becomes one with Christ. God's justice is not set aside by the sinner's salvation, but is magnified and made honorable by it (Isa 42:1, 21). His future reign "in righteousness," also, is especially referred to (Isa 32:1).

having salvation—not passively, as some interpret it, "saved," which the context, referring to a "king" coming to reign, forbids; also the old versions, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, give Saviour. The Hebrew is reflexive in sense, "showing Himself a Saviour; … having salvation in Himself" for us. Endowed with a salvation which He bestows as a king. Compare Margin, "saving Himself." Compare Mt 1:21, in the Greek, "Himself shall save His people"; that is, not by any other, but by Himself shall He save [Pearson On the Creed]. His "having salvation" for others manifested that He had in Himself that righteousness which was indispensable for the justification of the unrighteous (1Co 1:30; 2Co 5:21; 1Jo 2:1). This contrasts beautifully with the haughty Grecian conqueror who came to destroy, whereas Messiah came to save. Still, Messiah shall come to take "just" vengeance on His foes, previous to His reign of peace (Mal 4:1, 2).

lowly—mild, gentle: corresponding to His "riding on an ass" (not a despised animal, as with us; nor a badge of humiliation, for princes in the East rode on asses, as well as low persons, Jud 5:10), that is, coming as "Prince of peace" (Zec 9:10; Isa 9:6); the "horse," on the contrary is the emblem of war, and shall therefore be "cut off." Perhaps the Hebrew includes both the "lowliness" of His outward state (which applies to His first coming) and His "meekness" of disposition, as Mt 21:5 quotes it (compare Mt 11:29), which applies to both His comings. Both adapt Him for loving sympathy with us men; and at the same time are the ground of His coming manifested exaltation (Joh 5:27; Php 2:7-9).

colt—untamed, "whereon yet never man sat" (Lu 19:30). The symbol of a triumphant conqueror and judge (Jud 5:10; 10:4; 12:14).

foal of an ass—literally, "asses": in Hebrew idiom, the indefinite plural for singular (so Ge 8:4, "mountains of Ararat," for one of the mountains). The dam accompanied the colt (Mt 21:2). The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at His first coming is a pledge of the full accomplishment of this prophecy at His second coming. It shall be "the day of the Lord" (Ps 118:24), as that first Palm Sunday was. The Jews shall then universally (Ps 118:26) say, what some of them said then, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (compare Mt 21:9, with Mt 23:39); also "Hosanna," or "Save now, I beseech thee." "Palms," the emblem of triumph, shall then also be in the hands of His people (compare Joh 12:13, with Re 7:9, 10). Then also, as on His former entry, shall be the feast of tabernacles (at which they used to draw water from Siloam, quoting Isa 12:3). Compare Ps 118:15, with Zec 14:16.

Rejoice greatly: the prophet calls for such a joy as expresseth itself in outward gesture, as indeed the daughters of Zion did in their hosannas, when this had its accomplishment.

Daughter of Zion; Jerusalem’s inhabitants, or the church.

Shout; proclaim aloud your joy at the news I now tell you. Before it was

daughter of Zion, now it is daughter of Jerusalem, both the church and state among the Jews had great cause to triumph at this.

Thy King; the Redeemer, expected, promised Messiah, Son of David, the only restorer of your lapsed state.

Cometh unto thee; Christ cometh to thee, to redeem and save thee; he cometh for thee, as well as to time. He is just; the righteous One, who cometh to fulfil all righteousness, and to be our righteousness.

Having salvation; designs to save, and hath that in his eye, that he can save, it is in his power; he can save us as he did save himself, by raising himself from the dead.

Lowly; low and mean of state, and meek or lowly of mind.

Riding upon an ass; a beast of no state or price, an emblem of his outward state.

And upon a colt the foal of an ass: in this some footsteps of sovereignty appeared in the colt’s taking and bearing him quietly, Luke 19:35. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem,.... By whom are meant, not the inhabitants of Jerusalem in common; nor the children in it, that said Hosannas to the son of David; but the church of God, and true believers in Christ, who are called upon to "rejoice" and "shout": not merely in an external way, by showing marks of outward joy, but in a spiritual manner, for which there was good reason, as follows:

behold, thy King cometh unto thee; Aben Ezra says that interpreters are divided about the sense of this prophecy; some say it is Messiah the son of David; and others, Messiah the son of Joseph. R. Moses, the priest, he observes, thinks that Nehemiah the Tirshathite is meant; and he himself is of opinion that Judas Maccabeus is intended; but Jarchi affirms that it is impossible to interpret it of any other than the King Messiah; and this is the sense of many of their writers, both ancient and modern. It is applied to him in the Talmud; they say (r), he that sees an ass in his dream, let him look for salvation, as it is said, behold, thy king cometh unto thee, "riding on an ass". R. Alexander relates that R. Joshua ben Levi opposed these two phrases to each other, "in its time", and "I will hasten it", Isaiah 60:22 and gave this as the sense to reconcile them: if they (the Israelites) are worthy, i.e. of the coming of the Messiah, "I will hasten it"; if they are not worthy, it shall be "in its time"; and that he also put these Scriptures together, and compared them to that Scripture, "behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven", Daniel 7:13 and also what is written, "poor, and riding on an ass"; if they are worthy, he will come with the clouds of heaven; if they are not worthy, he will come poor and riding on an ass (s). In an ancient book (t) of theirs, at least so reckoned, it is said the King Messiah shall prevail over them all (the nations of the world, and the Israelites); as it is said, "poor, and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass": and in several other places of that work, and other treatises in it (u), the text is applied to the Messiah; as it likewise is in their ancient Midrashes or expositions. In one (w) it is observed,

"the Rabbins say an ox; this is the anointed for war, as it is said, "his glory is like the firstling of his bullock", Deuteronomy 33:17 an ass; this is the King Messiah, as it is said, "poor, and riding on an ass";''

and again (x), on these words, "binding his foal to the vine, and his ass's colt unto the choice vine", Genesis 49:11, this remark is made; this shall be when that shall come to pass which is written of him, "poor, and riding on an ass". And in another (y) of their expositions, the two Redeemers, Moses and the Messiah, are compared together; and, among the several things in which they agree, this is one; as it is said of the former redeemer, "and Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them on an ass", Exodus 4:20 so it is said of the latter Redeemer (the Messiah), "poor, and riding on an ass". And thus it is interpreted by many of their more modern writers (z). This is to be understood of Christ's coming, not merely to Jerusalem, when he rode on an ass, after mentioned; but of his coming in the flesh, when he came to Zion, and for her good; and which was wonderful, and therefore a "behold" is prefixed to it; and is matter of great joy, which she is called to show, because of the birth of him who is her Saviour; and because of the good things that come by him; and because of his appearing as a King, and her King; for, as he was prophesied of as such, as such he came, though his kingdom was not of this world; and as Zion's King, being placed there by his Father, and to which he has a right by virtue of redemption, and is owned as such by his people in the effectual calling, and to whom all the following characters belong.

He is just: not only essentially righteous as God, but just and upright in the whole course of, his life as man; and faithful in the administration of his office as Mediator; and the author and bringer in of righteousness to his people:

and having salvation; the salvation of his church and people; which he not only had at heart, but had it to execute, being appointed to that service by his Father, and having agreed unto it as the surety of his people, and was the business he was coming into the world to do, here prophesied of; yea, he is called salvation itself, as in a parallel text, Isaiah 62:11 the purpose of it was purposed in him; God resolved to save his people by him, and by him only; he never intended to save any but in and through him; and the thing was not only consulted with him, but the scheme of it was drawn in him; God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The covenant of grace, in which salvation is a principal article, was made with him; and he, as the surety of that covenant, undertook it; and in the fulness of time being sent, came to effect it; for which he was abundantly qualified, being God and man in one person, and so had something to offer as a sacrifice for satisfaction to law and justice, in order to obtain it; and could put a sufficient virtue therein to answer the end, being the mighty God; and having as Mediator a commission from his divine Father, he is become, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, the author of eternal salvation to his people; and in him salvation is, and in no other; and in vain it is to expect it from any other, or in any other way, than by him, Acts 4:12. Some render the word "saved" (a); as he was by his divine Father, when he was raised from the dead, and not suffered to see corruption; see Hebrews 5:7 others, "saving himself" (b); when he raised himself from the dead, and thereby declared himself to be the Son of God; and when he brought salvation to his body, the church, which is himself, Isaiah 63:5

lowly; meek, and humble, as he appeared to be in the assumption of human nature; in his carriage to sinners, conversation with them, and reception of them; in his ministrations to his disciples; and in not seeking his own, but his Father's glory. Or "poor" (c); as Jesus the Messiah was; born of poor parents, had not where to lay his head, and was ministered unto by others; See 2 Corinthians 8:9

and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass; which was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, Matthew 21:4 not that he rode upon them both, but on the foal only; for so it should be rendered, "upon an ass, that is, upon a colt, the foal of an ass" (d). The Jews have a fable, that the ass Abraham saddled, when he went to sacrifice his son Isaac, was the foal of the ass that was created on the evening of the sabbath, that is, at the creation; and that the same Moses set his wife and sons upon, when he came out of Midian; and the same ass, they say, Messiah the son of David was to ride upon at his coming (e); but one of such a prodigious age surely could not be called a colt, or a foal; however, this fable shows the conviction of their minds that this is a prophecy of the Messiah, and that they expected the Messiah to ride upon an ass, according to it, as our Messiah Jesus did. And the Greeks have another fable, which perhaps took its rise from this prophecy, that when Antiochus entered the temple at Jerusalem, he found in it an image of a man in wood, with a long beard, riding on an ass (f). And a like falsehood is told by Tacitus (g), that the Jews consecrated the effigies of an ass in the inmost part of the temple; because a flock of wild asses, as he pretends, directed them to fountains of water, when in the wilderness, and ready to die with thirst; and yet he himself afterwards says, the Jews have no images, neither in their cities, nor in their temple: and from hence it may be arose the calumny cast upon the primitive Christians, who were sometimes confounded with the Jews, that they worshipped an ass's head; and which is refuted by Tertullian (h).

(r) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 56. 2.((s) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 98. 1. Vid. etiam ib. fol. 99. 10. (t) Zohar in Gen. fol. 127. 3.((u) Zohar in Numb. fol. 83. 4. & in Deut. fol. 117. 1. & 118. 3. Raya Mehimna apud ib. in Lev. fol. 38. 3. & in Numb. fol. 97. 2.((w) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 75. fol. 66. 2.((x) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 98. fol. 85. 3.((y) Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.((z) Jarchi in Isaiah 26.6. Baal hatturim on Exod. fol. 88. 2. Abarbinel, Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 15. 4. R. Abraham Seba, Tzeror Hammor, fol. 46. 2. Caphtor Uperah, fol. 81. 2.((a) "et salvatus ipse", Pagninus, Montanus, Cocceius; "servatus", Calvin, De Dieu. Schultens (i) observes, that in the Arabic language, signifies large, ample, spacious, and denotes amplitude of riches, power, knowledge, happiness, and glory; and in this place the word describes a king endued with most ample salvation, and brought into this amplitude out of poverty and straits, darkness and misery. (b) "Servabit seipsum", Vatablus. (c) pauper, V. L. Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "inops", Cocceius (d) "id est, super pullum", Noldius. (e) Pirke Eliezer, c. 31. fol. 32. 1. Caphtor Uperah, fol. 81. 2.((f) Diodor. Sicul. Excerpta, l. 34. p. 901, 902. (g) Hist. l. 5. c. 3, 4, 5. (h) Apologet. c. 16. ad nationes, l. 1. c. 11. (i) Origines Hebr. l. 1. p. 18, 19, 20. & indicul. voc. Hebr. in calce ejus.

Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh to thee: {m} he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon a {n} donkey, and upon a colt the foal of a donkey.

(m) That is, he has righteousness and salvation in himself for the use and benefit of his Church.

(n) Which declares that they should not look for such a king as would be glorious in the eyes of man, but should be poor, and yet in himself have all power to deliver his own: and this is meant of Christ, as in Mt 21:5.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. thy King cometh] The reference to Christ, the true King of Israel, is direct and immediate. Even if the prophecy be placed before the exile, no event in Jewish history answers, even typically, to this prediction. After the exile no Jewish ruler bore the title of King. “The prophet here briefly shews the manner in which the church is to be restored, namely, because a King will come forth of the tribe and family of David, to bring all things to their pristine order. And this line of argument constantly occurs in the Prophets, since the hope of the ancient people rested, as ours does, on Christ.” Calvin.

unto thee] not only to thee locally, but for thy benefit. “He teaches us that this King will not come for His own sake, as earthly princes rule after their own lust, or for their own advantage: but that this kingdom will be shared by the whole people, because, that is, of the prosperous condition which it will introduce.” Calvin.

having salvation] Rather, saved. The Jewish and Christian (LXX. σώζων; Vulg. salvator) versions render actively, “Saviour.” But there is no need to depart from the grammatical and usual (Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 33:16; Isaiah 45:17) meaning of the word. “He trusted in Jehovah that He would deliver Him,” was not only a prediction of the taunt of His enemies (Matthew 27:43), but an exposition of the ruling principle of the mediatorial work of the man Christ Jesus. And as the reward of that trust He was “saved.” Hebrews 5:7. At the same time, as Calvin (whose whole note on this verse is worth consulting) points out, the active signification of saving others is really included in the passive of being saved Himself. For inasmuch as the King comes not for Himself but “for” Sion (see last note), He is “just and saved” not for Himself but for her. “Si veniret sibi privatim, esset etiam sibi justus et servatus, hoc est, utilitas justitiæ et salutis resideret penes ipsum solum, vel in ejus persona. Sed quum aliorum respectu venerit, etiam in eorum gratiam et justitia et salute præditus est. Ergo justitia et salus quarum hic fit mentio pertinent ad totum corpus Ecclesiæ, neque restringi debent ad personam Regis … Neque certe humanitus loquendo dicemus Regem esse salvum et integrum, si expulsus sit a suo imperio; si deinde ab hostibus vexentur subditi, vel pereant in totum.”

lowly] or meek. πραῦς. LXX. and Matthew 21:5. The sense, “afflicted,” which the Heb. word will bear, and which Pusey says is necessarily contained in it, does not seem to be the prominent one here; but rather the meekness and lowliness (Matthew 11:29) of His character and coming.

upon an ass] In keeping with and as an illustration of His “lowliness.” “In itself it would, if insulated, have been unmeaning. The Holy Ghost prophesied it, Jesus fulfilled it, to shew the Jews of what nature His kingdom was.” Pusey. So Calvin observes that the prophecy was at once metaphorical and literal. “Nam propheta intelligit Christum fore quasi obscurum hominem, qui sese non extollet supra communem vulgi modum. Hic est genuinus sensus. Verum est: sed tamen hoc non obstat, quominus Christus etiam ediderit hujus rei specimen, ubi asinum illum conscendit.”

the foal of an ass] Lit. of she-asses; i.e. such as those animals bear. So Jephthah is said (Jdg 12:7) to have been buried “in the cities of Gilead;” i.e. (as the A. V. and R. V. supply) in “one of” them. Comp. Genesis 19:29; Genesis 37:31. The clause is added to define more exactly the words, “upon an ass:” even upon a colt, R. V. It was upon the colt that our Lord actually rode. The Evangelist’s addition, “whereon never man sat” (Mark 11:2), would seem to indicate that it was chosen, rather than the mother, on account of the sacred use to which it was to be put. Comp. Numbers 19:2; 1 Samuel 6:7; Luke 23:53.

9–17. The Coming of the King

The great event for which all that had been foretold in the preceding verses of the chapter, and indeed all the preceding history of Israel and of the world, had been a preparation, and in which as purposed and promised by God was the pledge of Israel’s preservation for its accomplishment, is now announced and its consequences are unfolded. Sion is called upon to welcome with exultation her just and lowly King, who comes to her in humble state (Zechariah 9:9), whose kingdom of peace shall cover all the land and embrace all nations (Zechariah 9:10), and who, mindful of His covenant with her, shall give deliverance to the captives of Israel (Zechariah 9:11-12). Using them, now once more an united nation, as the instruments of His warfare (Zechariah 9:13), Himself fighting for them and manifesting Himself as their Protector (Zechariah 9:14), He will make them victorious over all their enemies (Zechariah 9:15), and will promote them to safety and honour (Zechariah 9:16), magnifying His “goodness” and His “beauty” in the prosperity with which He crowns them (Zechariah 9:17).Verses 9, 10. - § 2. Then shall the righteous King come to Zion in lowly fashion, and inaugurate a kingdom of peace. Verse 9. - The prophet invites Jerusalem to rejoice at the coming of the promised salvation in the Person of her King; no mighty earthly potentate and conqueror, like Alexander the Great, but one of different fashion (comp. Zephaniah 3:14). Thy King cometh unto thee. St. Matthew (Matthew 21:5) and St. John (John 12:15) see a fulfilment of this prophecy in Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem on the first day of the week in which he was crucified. All attempts to disprove the Messianic import of this passage have been unavailing. Even critics who refer this part of Zechariah (ch. 9-11.) to an unknown author writing in the time of Hezekiah, allow that it is replete with Messianic ideas, and can be applied to no hero of Jewish story or event of Jewish history. There is no other "King" of Israel to whom it can refer. Our blessed Lord himself, by his abnormal actions on Palm Sunday, plainly assumed the part of the predicted King, and meant the people to recognize in him the promised Messiah (see the full discussion of the subject in Dr. Pusey's notes, pp. 556, etc.). Thy King. A king of thine own race, no stranger, but one predestined for thee. He who was foretold by all the prophets, who was to occupy the throne of David, and reign forever (Psalm 2:6; Psalm 45:1, 6, 7; Isaiah 32:1). Unto thee. For thy good, to bless thee (Isaiah 9:6). Just. Righteous in character and in practice, ruling in equity (Psalm 72:1-4, 7; Isaiah 11:2-4). Having salvation; Septuagint, σώζων, "saving." Vulgate, salvator; so the Syriac and Chaldee. The genius of the language requires the participle to be taken passively, as it is in two other passages where it occurs (Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 33:16). The context has seemed to some to demand that it be understood in an active sense, thus contrasting him who came to save with the haughty Grecian conqueror, whose progress was marked by bloodshed. But the usual meaning of the word affords a satisfactory sense. The King who comes is "saved," endowed with salvation, either as being protected and upheld by God (Psalm 18:50; Psalm 110:1, 2, 5; Isaiah 42:1; Isaiah 49:8), or as being victorious and so able to aid his people. In this latter view, the active sense is included in the passive. His own deliverance is a sure sign of the deliverance of his people. Lowly; Septuagint, πραύς, "meek;" Vulgate, pauper - meek and lowly, as Christ himself says (Matthew 11:29),far removed from warlike pomp and worldly greatness. The word is also rendered "afflicted," and would then be in accordance with the description in Isaiah 52:13-53:5; Psalm 22:6. Riding upon an ass. In illustration of his poor or afflicted estate; it is this, and not merely the peace. fulness of his reign, that is meant by this symbolical action, as we see by the following clause, where the youthfulness of the animal is the point enforced. And (even, and that) upon a colt the foal of an ass; such as she asses bear, and one not trained; as the evangelist says, "whereon never man sat." Christ sat upon the foal. In old times judges and men of distinction rode upon asses (Genesis 22:3; Judges 5:10; Judges 10:4); but from Solomon's days the horse had been used, not only in war, but on all state occasions (Jeremiah 17:25); and the number of horses brought back on the return from Babylon is specially mentioned (Ezra 2:66). So to predicate of a King that he would come to his capital riding, not on a war horse, but on a young, unbroken ass, showed at once that he himself was not to be considered a victorious general or a worldly potentate, and that his kingdom was not to be won or maintained by carnal arms. This is signified more fully in the following verse, which describes the character and extent of Messiah's kingdom. "Who is left among you, that saw this house in its former glory? and how do ye see it now? Is it not as nothing in your eyes? Haggai 2:4. And now be comforted, Zerubbabel, is the saying of Jehovah; and be comforted, Joshua son of Jozadak, thou high priest; and be comforted all the people of the land, is the saying of Jehovah, and work: for I am with you, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:5. The word that I concluded with you at your coming out of Egypt, and my Spirit, stand in the midst of you; fear ye not." The prophet, admitting the poverty of the new building in comparison with the former one, exhorts them to continue the work in comfort, and promises them that the Lord will be with them, and fulfil His covenant promises. The question in Haggai 2:3 is addressed to the old men, who had seen Solomon's temple in all its glory. There might be many such men still living, as it was only sixty-seven or sixty-eight years since the destruction of the first temple. הנּשׁאר is the predicate to the subject מי, and has the article because it is defined by the reflex action of the relative clause which follows (compare Ewald, 277, a). The second question, וּמה אתּם וגו, et qualem videtis, In what condition do ye see it now? is appended to the last clause of the first question: the house which ye saw in its former glory. There then follows with הלוא, in the form of a lively assurance, the statement of the difference between the two buildings. כּמהוּ כּאין, which has been interpreted in very different ways, may be explained from the double use of the כ in comparisons, which is common in Hebrew, and which answers to our as - so: here, however, it is used in the same way as in Genesis 18:25 and Genesis 44:18; that is to say, the object to be compared is mentioned first, and the object with which the comparison is instituted is mentioned afterwards, in this sense, "so is it, as having no existence," in which case we should either leave out the first particle of comparison, or if it were expressed, should have to reverse the order of the words: "as not existing (nothing), so is it in your eyes." Koehler gives this correct explanation; whereas if כּמהוּ be explained according to Joel 2:2, its equal, or such an one, we get the unsuitable thought, that it is not the temple itself, but something like the temple, that is compared to nothing. Even in Genesis 44:18, to which Ewald very properly refers as containing a perfectly equivalent phrase, it is not a man equal to Joseph, but Joseph himself, who is compared to Pharaoh, and described as being equal to him. Nevertheless they are not to let their courage fail, but to be comforted and to work. Châzaq, to be inwardly strong, i.e., to be comforted, 'Ash, to work or procure, as in Ruth 2:19 and Proverbs 31:13, in actual fact, to continue the work of building bravely, without there being any necessity to supply מלאכה from Haggai 1:14. For Jehovah will be with them (cf. Haggai 1:13).

In confirmation of this promise the Lord adds, that the word which He concluded with them on their coming out of Egypt, and His Spirit, will continue among them. "The word" ('eth-haddâbhâr) cannot be either the accusative of the object to the preceding verb ‛ăsū (Haggai 2:4), or to any verb we may choose to supply, or the preposition 'ēth, with, or the accusative of norm or measure (Luther, Calvin, and others). To connect it with ‛ăsū yields no suitable meaning. It is not the word, which they vowed to the Lord, at the conclusion of the covenant, that they are to do now, but the work which they had begun, viz., the building of the temple, they are now to continue. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply the verb zikhrū, remember (Ewald and Hengstenberg), and to understand the prophet as reminding them of the word "fear not" (Exodus 20:17-20). That word, "fear not," with which Moses, not God, infused courage into the people, who were alarmed at the terrible phenomenon with which Jehovah came down upon Sinai, has no such central significance as that Haggai could point to it without further introduction, and say that Jehovah had concluded it with them on their coming out of Egypt. The word which the Lord concluded with Israel when He led it out of Egypt, can only be the promise which established the covenant, to the fulfilment of which God bound Himself in relation to the people, when He led them out of Egypt, namely, the word that He would make Israel into His own property out of all nations (Exodus 19:5-6; Deuteronomy 7:6; cf. Jeremiah 7:22-23, and Jeremiah 11:4). It would quite agree with this to take 'ēth as the accusative of the norm, and also to connect it as a preposition, if this could only be shown to be in accordance with the rules of the language. But although the accusative in Hebrew is often used, in the relation of free subordination, "to express more precisely the relation of measure and size, space and time, mode and kind" (cf. Ewald, 204-206), it is impossible to find any example of such an accusative of norm as is here assumed, especially with 'ēth preceding it. But if 'ēth were a preposition instead of אתּכם, we should have עמּכם, inasmuch as the use of את־הדּבר, as a parallel to אתּכם, makes the words clumsy and awkward. The thought which Haggai evidently wishes to express requires that haddâbhâr should stand upon the same line with rūchı̄, so that 'eth-haddâbhâr is actually the subject to ‛ōmedeth, and 'ēth is simply used to connect the new declaration with the preceding one, and to place it in subjection to the one which follows, in the sense of "as regards," quoad (Ewald, 277, d, pp. 683-4), in which case the choice of the accusative in the present instance may either be explained from a kind of attraction (as in the Latin, urbem quam statuo vestra est), as Hitzig supposes, or from the blending together of two constructions, as Koehler maintains; that is to say, Haggai intended to write את־הדּבר ורוּחי העמדתּי, but was induced to alter the proposed construction by the relative clause אשׁר כּרתּי וגו attaching itself to הדּבר. Consequently ‛ōmedeth, as predicate, not only belongs to rūchı̄, but also to haddâbhâr, in the sense of to have continuance and validity; and according to a later usage of the language, עמד is used for קוּם, to stand fast (compare Isaiah 40:8 with Daniel 11:14). The word, that Israel is the property of Jehovah, and Jehovah the God of Israel, still stands in undiminished force; and not only so, but His Spirit also still works in the midst of Israel. Rūăch, in parallelism with the word containing the foundation of the covenant, is neither the spirit of prophecy (Chald., J. D. Mich.), nor the spirit which once filled Bezaleel and his companions (Exodus 31:1., Exodus 36:1.), enabling them to erect the tabernacle in a proper manner, and one well-pleasing to God (Luc., Osiander, and Koehler). Both views are too narrow; rūăch is the divine power which accompanies the word of promise and realizes it in a creative manner, i.e., not merely "the virtue with which God will establish their souls, that they may not be overcome by temptations" (Calvin), but also the power of the Spirit working in the world, which is able to remove all the external obstacles that present themselves to the realization of the divine plan of salvation. This Spirit is still working in Israel ("in the midst of you"); therefore they are not to fear, even if the existing state of things does not correspond to human expectations. The omnipotence of God can and will carry out His word, and glorify His temple. This leads to the further promise in Haggai 2:6-9, which gives the reason for the exhortation, "Fear ye not."

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