The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 14
INTRODUCTION TO THE SECOND PART OF ZECHARIAH
AN EXAMINATION OF THE MODERN CRITICISM IN REFERENCE TO THE LAST SIX CHAPTERS
THE aim which we set before us in these "Notes" on Zechariah was by God s help to make this precious portion of Old Testament revelation intelligible, and spiritually profitable, to the ordinary intelligent English reader, and in doing so to avoid as much as possible minute critical points, and lengthy discussions of the questions of dates and authorship.
We might, therefore, have accepted the contention of the more " moderate " of the modern critical writers, that the contents and " religious " or spiritual value of these sacred oracles are independent of the question as to whether they were, or were not, actually composed by the person, or persons, and at the time " traditionally " attached to them and have proceeded at once to the exposition of chap. ix. But this contention is only partially true. The ethical and spiritual character of a writing is not altogether indepen dent of its authorship and the circumstances in which it originated ; and then, too, as far as these chapters are concerned, it is not a question merely as to what " religious " value we can find in them for ourselves, or for the pro fessed people of God at the present day. The true believer and disciple is anxious above all to understand the meaning of the divine oracles, which holy men of old spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost ; and we are concerned here not only with the application, but with the interpreta tion of these chapters. Both Jews and Christians have always believed that they contain fore-announcements of great and solemn events, and that we have in them divine forecasts of things which were to transpire at a time, or times, which from the prophets then point of view, at any
rate, are contemplated as future.
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Now in order rightly to understand or explain the prophetic element in these chapters, and to know whether these forecasts have already been fulfilled or not, much will depend on the question of the date of their origin. It makes all the difference, for instance, whether chaps, xii. xiv. were composed by an unknown contemporary of Jeremiah, whose prophecies of a siege of Jerusalem, and " anticipations " of God s manifest interposition on behalf of His people in the hour of their greatest extremity (which, however, were falsified by the events), refer to the siege of Jerusalem and the destruction of the Temple by the Chaldeans, or whether the writer is the inspired post-exilic prophet under whose name these chapters stand, who not only lived after the destruction of the Temple, but witnessed the rebuilding of the Temple after the partial restoration from Babylon, and who therefore must speak of another Temple and a yet future siege.
Now, while Zechariah s authorship of the first eight chapters (with which I have already dealt so far) is uni versally acknowledged, strong objections have been raised in modern times against the assumed authorship and date of the last six chapters.
The Spirit of the Early English Criticism
On examining the great amount of criticism on this subject, we find that it divides itself into two separate streams, which are impelled by two different motives.
The earliest critics of the traditional authorship of these chapters were learned English divines, men who believed in the plenary inspiration of Holy Scripture, whose actuating motive was to justify the inerrancy of the citation in Matt, xxvii. 9, 10, which ascribes to Jeremiah a prophecy found in Zech. xi. Thus Joseph Mede * (the very first who sought to establish a pre-exilic authorship of these chapters) says, in his note on the above passage in Matthew : " It
1 Joseph Mede, born in 1586 at Borden, Essex, author of the Cla-vis Apoca- liptica; died in 1638.
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would seem the Evangelist would inform us that those latter chapters ascribed to Zachary . . . are indeed the prophecies of Jeremy, and that the Jews had not rightly attributed them : . . . there is no scripture saith they are Zachary s, but there is a scripture saith they are Jeremy s, as this of the Evangelist." And proceeding from this point of view, he discovered, as he thought, internal proof that these chapters belonged not to Zechariah s, but to Jeremiah s time. He was followed by Hammond, Kidder, Newcome, etc. 1
We shall see when we come (D.V.) to the exposition of chap. xi. as to whether there is any other possible explana tion of the occurrence of Jeremiah s name in that passage in Matthew ; meanwhile, without entering more fully into this point here, we would adopt the words of another English Biblical scholar, 2 and say :
" Is it not possible, nay, is it not much more probable, that the word lepe/uov (Jeremiah) may be written by mistake by some transcribers of Matthew s Gospel, than that those of the Jewish Church, who settled the canon of scripture, should have been so grossly ignorant of the right author of these chapters as to place them under a wrong name? It is not, I think, pretended that these chapters have been found in any copy of the Old Testament other wise placed than as they now stand. But in the New Testament there are not wanting authorities for omitting the word lepe/juov (Jeremiah). Nor is it impossible to account plausibly for the wrong insertion of Jeremiah (Matt, xxvii. 9) by observing that exactly the same words occur in Matt. ii. 1 7, where we read Tore eir\r}pwOtj ro prfOev VTTO (in some copies Sia see Wetstein) lepepiov TOV
1 Archbishop William Newcome on the Twelve Minor Prophets. The spirit of these early English critics may be judged from the following words. After stating his reasons for accepting Mede s riew that chaps, ix.-xi. were written by Jeremiah, Newcome says : " But whoever wrote them, their divine authority is established by the two quotations from them in the New Testament." How different this from modern criticism, which takes no account of the New Testa ment in this respect, nor even of the direct testimony of Christ !
2 Dr. Benjamin Blayney, author of Dissertation on the Seventy Weeks of Daniel, etc. ; died in 1801.
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7rpo<f)r)Tov, \eyovTos (Then was fulfilled what was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying). Now supposing a transcriber to have had in his copy either Sia rov Trpo^rov (through the prophet) only, or Sia Za%apiov TOV Trpofarov (through Zechariah the prophet), yet carrying in his mind what he had written a little before, he might inadvertently and without intention have written the same over again, as will easily be granted by those who are at all used to tran scribe."
The Rationalistic Criticism which reduces Prophecy to Human Divination
The other stream of criticism directed against the date and authorship of these chapters rises from a different source, and is impelled by the same motive which, alas, underlies the whole of the so-called " modern criticism." There are, no doubt, exceptions ; but reading the many, and for the most part conflicting opinions of modern writers on this question, one is struck with the truth of Keil s remarks, that the objections which modern critics offer to the unity of the book (and the same may be said also of much of their criticism of other books of the Bible) do not arise from the nature of these scriptures, but " partly from the dogmatic assumption of the rationalistic and naturalistic critics that the Biblical prophecies are nothing more than the productions of natural divination ; and partly from the inability of critics, in consequence of this assumption, to penetrate into the depths of the divine revelation, and to grasp either the substance or form of their historical development so as to appreciate it fully." l
In illustration of these remarks of Keil, it may not be out of place to quote a striking instance of the elimination of any reference to a distant future, and, indeed, of any supernatural element from the prophetic scriptures on the part of modern critics. Before me lies the last edition of what is regarded by many as a. standard work on the
1 Keil, in the Introduction to his Commentary on Zechariah.
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Literature of the Old Testament. The author (Canon Driver) is esteemed as one of the more " moderate " of this school. Like many others, he divides chaps, xii. xiv. from chaps, ix. xi., but he follows those of the German rational istic school, who ascribe a post-exilic origin to the second half of Zechariah, though he denies Zechariah s authorship. These are his words on the last three chapters :
" As regards the occasion of the prophecy it is impossible to do more than speculate. It is conceivable that in the post-exilic period where our history is a blank (B.C. 518 458; 432-300) the family of David assumed importance in Jerusalem, and supplied some of the leading judges and administrators, and that they had been implicated with the people of the capital in some deed of blood (xii. 1014), on the ground of which the prophet depicts Jehovah s appearance in judgment. In the heathen invaders of xii.- xiv. he perhaps has not in view any actual expected foe, but pictures an imaginary assault of nations, like Ezekiel (c. 3839), from which he represents Jerusalem, though not without severe losses, as delivered. In other features the prophecy appears to be one of those (cf. Isa. xxiv. xxvii.) in which not merely the figurative, but the imaginative, element is larger than is generally the case, especially in the pre-exilic prophets. But even when allowance has been made for this, many details in the prophecy remain per plexing, and probably no entirely satisfactory explanation of it is now attainable." The italics are Canon Driver s.
We refrain from characterising the remarks which ascribe the origin of some of the sublimest prophecies in the Old Testament in reference to the last things to the exercise of the " imaginative " faculty of the writers, but let us, for lack of space, look at one point only. The first reference, which is so easily disposed of with a stroke of the pen, is chap. xii. 10-14. Now this passage begins with the words : " And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and supplication ; and they shall look unto Me Whom they have pierced : and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for his only son, and
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tJiey shall be in bitterness for him, as one ttiat is in bitterness for his first-born " and proceeds to describe an intense universal mourning throughout " the whole land," when every tribe shall mourn apart, and " their wives apart."
Even Jews believed that this is a prophecy of solemn events in the future though, on grounds which we cannot stop here to indicate, they wrongly applied ver. 10 to a "Messiah ben Joseph," who, according to them, .was to precede the Messiah ben David.
Certainly the remarkable correspondence in this case, between the prediction and that part of it which has already been fulfilled in the Gospel narrative, is one of the most striking proofs of the divine inspiration of the prophecy, as well as of the Messiahship of our Lord Jesus of Nazareth. But for Canon Driver and the school which he represents, New Testament history is evidently non-existent, or, if it exists, it has no relation whatever to Old Testament pro phecy ; and rather than admit the possibility of a divine fore-announcement in reference to a distant future, this sublime scripture is made to refer to " some deed of blood " in which the leaders and the people were implicated some time before these chapters were zvritten, which, according to him, was some time between 518 and 300 B.C. of which " deed of blood " which could occasion such deep and universal mourning, history knows nothing !
Now, to quote another author :
" The human authorship of any books of Holy Scripture and so of these chapters of Zechariah is, in itself, a matter which does not concern the soul. It is an untrue imputation that the date of books of the Bible is converted into matter of faith. In this case Jesus has not set His seal upon it ; God the Holy Ghost has not declared it. But, as in other cases, what lay as the foundation of the theory was the unbelief that God, in the way above nature, when it seemed good to Him, revealed a certain future to His creature man. It is the postulate (or axiom, as appears to these critics), that there is no superhuman prophecy, which gives rise to their eagerness to place these and other
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prophetic books, and portions of books, where they can say to themselves that they do not involve such prophecy. To believers it has, obviously, no religious interest at what time it pleased Almighty God to send any of His servants the prophets. Not the dates assigned by any of these self- devouring theories, but the grounds alleged in support of those dates, as implying unbelief of God s revelation of Himself, make the question one of religious interest, namely, to show that these theories are as unsubstantial as their assumed base is baseless." l
That it is not unjust to say that to most of these critics either prophecy in the Christian sense of the term does not exist ; or, to quote one of them, that " all definite prophecy relates to an immediate future " and has reference to events which, as men imbued with the ethical principles which determine God s dealings with men and nations, and as careful observers of the signs of the times, the prophets could well conjecture, or " anticipate," as likely to come to pass the following quotation from one of the chief fathers of the modern criticism shows :
" That which is most peculiar in this prophet " (writes Ewald, of the supposed unknown author of the last six chapters of Zechariah) " is the uncommon high and pious hope of the deliverance of Jerusalem and Judah, notwith standing all visible greatest dangers and threatenings. At a time when Jeremiah, in the walls of the capital, already despairs of any possibility of a successful resistance to the Chaldees and exhorts to tranquillity, this prophet still looks all these dangers straight in the face with swelling spirit and divine confidence ; holds, with unbowed spirit, firm to the like promises of older prophets, as Isa. xxix. ; and antici pates that, from that very moment when the blind fury of the destroyers would discharge itself on the sanctuary, a wondrous mtght would crush them in pieces, and that this must be the beginning of the Messianic weal within and without." 2
2 Professor H. Ewald, Die Propheten des Alten Bundcs.
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Chap. xiv. is, according to Ewald, a modification of the earlier " anticipations " of this prophet.
" This piece," he says, " cannot have been written till somewhat later, when facts made it more and more improb able that Jerusalem would not anyhow be conquered, and treated as a conquered city, by coarse foes. Yet then, too, this prophet could not part with the anticipations of older prophets, and those which he had himself at an earlier time expressed so boldly, amid the most visible danger, he holds firm to the old anticipation (in remembrance of) the great deliverance of Jerusalem in Sennacherib s time (Isa. xxxvii.), which appeared to justify the most fanatic hopes for the future (comp. Ps. lix.). And so now the prospect moulds itself to him thus, as if Jerusalem must indeed actually endure the horrors of the conquest, but that then, when the work of the conquerors was half-completed, the great deliver ance already suggested in that former piece would come, and so the sanctuary would notwithstanding be wonderfully preserved, the better Messianic time would notwithstanding still so come."
Principal George Adam Smith, to whose work, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, we shall have occasion to return presently, and who, like Canon Driver, follows those German critics who ascribe a post-exilic origin to these chapters, though denying Zechariah s authorship, after mentioning some grounds for a later date, says :
" But though many critics judged these grounds to be sufficient to prove the post-exilic origin of Zech. ix. xiv., they differed as to the author and exact date of these chapters. Conservatives, like Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, Kohler, and Pusey, used the evidence to prove the author ship of Zechariah himself after 516, and interpreted the references to the Greek period as pure prediction. . . . But on the same grounds Eichhorn saw in the chapters not a prediction, but a reflection, of the Greek period. He as signed chaps, ix. and x. to an author of the time of Alexander the Great ; xi.-xiii. 6 he placed a little later, and brought down xiii. 7-xiv. to the Maccabeean period."
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But it is a sad fact that the grounds, when closely examined, on which Eichhorn and the others, who, ad mitting a post-exilic origin of these chapters, yet deny that they were written by Zechariah, are neither " the geographical references " nor the historical or philological indications in the scripture in question, but the underlying presupposition on the part of these critics that " pure pre diction " is an impossibility, and the attempt to eliminate or explain away the supernatural element in the prophetic scriptures. And since, as an instance, there is too marked and striking a resemblance between the historic events connected with the march and conquest of Alexander the Great through Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, with the description in chaps, ix. and x., they cannot be prophetic of these events (for that would be admitting the possibility of " pure prediction "), but must be " a reflection," or, in other words, a description of the events after they had taken place.
But to come back to Ewald and those who ascribe a pre-exilic origin to the second part of Zechariah, it must be pointed out that the prophecy, had it preceded the destruction of Jerusalem by the Chaldeans, could not have been earlier than the reign of Jehoiakim, since the mourning for the death of Josiah is spoken of as a proverbial sorrow of the past. But in that case the prophecy which " anticipates " a miraculous interposition of God for the deliverance of Jerusalem would have been in direct contradiction to Jeremiah, " who for thirty-nine years in one unbroken dirge predicted the evil " which should come upon the city ; and the inventive prophet would have been " one of the false prophets who contradicted Jeremiah, who encouraged Zedekiah in his perjury, the punishment whereof Ezekiel solemnly denounced, prophesying his captivity in Babylon as its penalty ; he would have been a political fanatic, one of those who by encouraging rebellion against Nebuchad nezzar brought on the destruction of the city, and in the name of God told lies against God.
" It is such an intense paradox that the writing of one
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convicted by the event of uttering falsehood in the name of God, incorrigible even in the thickening tokens of God s displeasure, should have been inserted among the Hebrew prophets, in times not far removed from those whose events convicted him, that one wonders that any one should have invented it. Great indeed is the credulity of the incredulous ! " l
The Uncertainties and conflicting " Results " of Rationalistic Criticism
But though the preponderating weight of modern critical opinion since the beginning of the nineteenth century is that these chapters belong to a period before the Captivity (chaps, ix. xi., somewhere in the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, or Hezekiah, and chaps, xii. xiv., because of the mention of the mourning for that king as an event of the past in chap, xii., after the death of Josiah 2 ), yet over against them stands another group of critics of equal repute, who transfer these chapters to late post-exilic, post- Zecharian days.
We have already referred to Eichhorn, who, " after long vacillation," assigned these chapters (which, according to him, are made up of different fragments) to different epochs of the Greek -Maccabaean period (332 B.C. to 161 B.C.). And to him must be added H. E. G. Paulus, Bottcher, Vatke, Bernard Stade, and others.
Principal George Adam Smith is so sure of the correct ness of Stade s theory, who assigns " between 300 and 280 B.C." as the date of these chapters, that he has carried it out even in his arrangement of the order of the books. In his Book of the Twelve Prophets he places Malachi after the first part of Zechariah (chaps, i. viii.) ; then Joel,
2 Some have not been satisfied with merely two unknown writers for these six chapters. One B. G. Fliigge, in a work published in Gottingen in 1818, entitled, Die Weissagungen welche die Schriften des Propheten Zacharias bcigebogen sind, not only referred these chapters to pre-exilic days, but split them up into nine fragments, of different dates.
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for whose assignment to so late a date there is no justifica tion in fact, and is only part of the newest destructive critical theories of the Pentateuch, to the baselessness of which (if the generally accepted older date be admitted) Joel s prophecy testifies. Then, after Malachi and Joel, as a section by itself, he places Zech. ix.-xiv. 1
But there is truth in the remark that " Criticism which reels to and fro in a period of nearly 500 years, from the earliest of the prophets to a period a century after Malachi, and this on historical and philological grounds, certainly has come to no definite basis, either as to history or philology. Rather, it has enslaved both to preconceived opinions ; and at last, as late a result as any has been, after this weary round, to go back to where it started from, and to suppose these chapters to have been written by the prophet whose name they bear." 2
1 In the large edition of Die Heilige Schrift des Alien Testaments (the New Critical German Translation of the Old Testament), by Kautzsch and others, in the notes and appendices to which are embodied all the "results "of German scholarship and criticism of the nineteenth century, I read the following note to Zech. ix.-xiv. :
"In Betreff dieser sechs Kapitel die wegen ihre Stellung hinter den Weissagungen Sacharyas schon frlihzeitig diesem Propheten zugeschrieben worden sind, ist noch immer streitig, ob wenigstens ein vorexilischer Kem (und zwar fur kap. ix.-xi. aus dem 8 Jahrhundert, fur xii.-xiv. aus dem Ende des ^ Jahrhundert). Auzunehmen, oder ob das Ganze erst aus der spatern nach exilischen Zeit (dem 4 oder gar 3 Jahrhundert) herzuleiten sei namely, In reference to these six chapters, which, on account of their position after the prophecies of Zechariah, were already in early times ascribed to this prophet, it is still a matter of dispute if we are to regard them as containing at least a pre- exilic kernel (or foundation namely, for chapters ix.-xi. from the eighth century, and for chapters xii.-xiv. from the end of the seventh century, B.C.), or if the whole is to be referred to the later post-exilic time (namely, the fourth or even the third century B.C.). "
2 Pusey. In the last sentences he has, no doubt, the case of De Wette in his mind, who, after advocating a pre-exilic origin of these chapters in the first three editions of his Einleitung ins Alte Testament, changed his mind in the 4th edition.
Stahelin, in his Einleitung in die Kanonischc Biicher des Alten Testaments, says: " De Wette often assured me orally, that since he felt himself compelled to admit that this portion evinces acquaintance with the latest prophets, he could not deny it to be Zechariah s." De Wette s characterisation of these chapters was that they are "prophecies of fanatic contents, which deny all historical explanation. "
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It is obvious that there must be some mistake either in the tests applied or in their application, which admits of a variation of at least 450 years from somewhere in the reign of Uzziah (say 770 B.C.) to later than 330 B.C.]
The Arguments against the Unity of Zechariah examined
But now let us very briefly examine the arguments against the unity of the Book of Zechariah. They are summarised by Professor von Orelli of Basel, one of the " moderate " of the modern school, 1 whose own conclusion in the end is that " chaps, ix.-xi. is a prophecy of a later contemporary of Hosea," and chaps, xii.-xiv. are " by an unnamed prophet at Jerusalem in the time of Jeremiah." The critical grounds are these :
(a) " The great diversity of literary form and manner existing generally between Parts I. and II. In Part II. are wanting those careful headings with indications of author and date which are found in Zechariah I. and Haggai. The style in Parts I. and II. is very different, both as relates to the phraseology in particular and the tenour of discourse generally. . . . The peculiar expres sions of Part I. are not found in Part II., and conversely. The different tenour of the whole is of still greater import ance. To put it in brief, the first part on the whole offers a somewhat awkward prosaic style ; whereas in the second, where there are no visions, exhibits in the discourses a spirit and a fire of enthusiasm such as one meets with elsewhere only in the early prophetic writings, but there all the oftener."
Now, in reference to the arguments based on supposed differences of literary form and style, which play such an important part in modern criticism, which is directed not only against these chapters, but against almost all the books of the Bible, it is sufficient to repeat a truism which
1 In his Introduction to Zechariah in his Commentary on the Twelve Minor Prophets.
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has been often stated, that diversity of subject is sufficient to account for differences of form and style where such exist. Headings and indications of authorship and date were necessary as introducing the series of visions at the beginning of the prophet s ministry, and to the address which formed the reply to the deputation from Bethel (chaps, vii., viii.) ; but no argument can be based on their absence from the oracles in the second part.
Some of the other prophets, too, use headings and attach dates to some of their utterances, and omit them in others. 1 Introductory formulas are, for instance, " made use of by Hosea in the first five chapters of his book, which are completely wanting in the last nine chapters, and yet no doubt is entertained of the integrity of that book. The style, moreover, of that prophet is very different in chaps, i.-iii. from what it is in chaps, iv.-xiv. ; and the style of Ezek. iv., v., is totally different from that of chaps, vi., vii., or of xxvii., xxviii." *
But even those critics who agree in denying the unity of Zechariah do not agree among themselves on the points of style. Thus, Rosenmuller speaks of the first eight chapters as being " prosaic, feeble, poor," and of the last six chapters as " poetic, weighty, concise, glowing " ; while Bottcher, on the other hand, speaks of the " lifeless language " of the last chapters, and compares them with the " amaz ingly fresh " style of the Psalms attributed to the time of the Maccabees.
The argument from style, however, to quote from W. H. Lowe s Hebrew Student s Commentary, must always remain a doubtful one. Pusey has given an instance of the precarious nature of such arguments in the following : " An acute German critic imagined to have proved from their style that the Laws of Plato were not the work of Plato; and yet Jowett (trans., Plato, Dialog, iv. p. i) has shown their genuineness by twenty citations in Aristotle (who must have been intimate with Plato for some
1 Isa. i. i, vi. I ; Ezek. i. 1-3, viii. i, 2, xl. I, 2.
2 C. H. H. Wright. 18
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seventeen years), by allusions of Isocrates (writing a year after Plato s death), by references of the comic poet Alexis (a younger contemporary), besides the unanimous voice of later antiquity.
" But it would not at all be surprising, as Keil, Stahelin, and others have observed, to find that the style of Zechariah varies in chaps, i.-viii. from that in chaps, ix.-xiv., as the subject-matter treated of in the two portions is radically different. In the former portion the prophet had to narrate a series of visions seen by him in one night, and to record divers exhortations of a practical kind suggested by the inquiry of the deputation from Bethel ; in the second portion he speaks of the distant future. In the former he might be expected to write in simple prose ; in the latter he might at times rise to lofty heights of poetry.
" Moreover, and this must not be forgotten, it is exceedingly probable that the second portion was composed many years after the first long after the Temple had been completed and matters had assumed a kind of normal condition as regards the Jewish colony, and also at a time when the realization of the bright hope of attaining their national independence seemed to be as far off as ever. " l
" That Gentle Lover of Peace"
Principal George Adam Smith finds a great argument against Zechariah s authorship of the last six chapters in the fact that " the peace, and the love of peace, in which Zechariah wrote, has disappeared. Nearly everything in the last part breathes of war, actual or imminent. The heathen are spoken of with a ferocity which finds few parallels in the Old Testament. There is revelling in their blood, of which the student of the authentic prophecies of Zechariah will at once perceive that gentle lover of peace could not have been capable."
We confess that we fail to " perceive " the truth of this statement, or to find any " ferocity," or " a revelling in the 1 C. H. II. Wright.
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blood of the heathen," on the part of the writer of these chapters.
What is true is that the prophet, who already in the First Part was commissioned to announce God s " great fury " against the nations who oppressed Israel, and already there foretells the overthrow of Gentile world-power, does in the last chapters, when he comes to prophesy more particularly of the last days, and of the solemn events which are to usher in the day when Jehovah shall at last be " King over all the eartli" set forth in realistic language the final great conflict, and the terrible judgments which are to come, not only on " the heathen," but on Israel also.
It might be true that, according to his natural disposition, Zechariah, " that gentle lover of peace," might not find it a congenial task to prophesy of war and judgment, or to describe the destruction of the enemies of God and of His people ; but other " gentle lovers of peace " among Israel s inspired prophets also had to utter some terribly heavy things against the ungodly in Israel and the nations who forget God, when compelled so to do by the hand and the Spirit of God. There was no gentler man nor greater lover of peace than Jeremiah, and when he had to announce im pending calamities and judgments he shrank from his task and did it with a broken heart ; but Jehovah s word came to him saying, " Behold, I have put My words in thy mouth : see, I have set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to pluck up and to break down, and to destroy and to over throw ; to build and to plant" He who was the embodiment of gentleness and love, and loved to reveal the Father s heart, had yet to warn men of the place of doom " where the worm dieth not, and where the fire is not quenched."
But let us turn briefly to the other arguments against the unity of Zechariah, as summarised by Von Orelli. We pass over the statement under the heading (b], namely, that " the circle of thought is quite different in the two parts of the book" for, as he himself observes, " this cannot be conclusive against the unity of the author, as, e.g., we cannot demand that Zechariah, in his later discourses, should use again the
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entire angelology of the visionary part : the figure of Satan,
the seven eyes of God," etc.
(c) " A much more important point is that the outward,
historical, and political situation presupposed in chaps, ixxiv.
is not that of the age of Zerubbabel" But is that so really ?
Let me put over against this statement, one by another
German commentator, who was certainly not less scholarly
nor less painstaking than those against whom he contends.
" The current opinion of these critics, that the chapters in question date from the time before the Captivity" writes
Professor Keil, " is completely overthrown by the circumstance that even in these oracles the condition of the covenant nation AFTER THE CAPTIVITY forms the historical ground and starting-point for the proclamation of the picture of the future development of the Kingdom of God" which state ment he proceeds to prove (to my mind satisfactorily) by a number of references in these chapters. And that the historic foreground and starting-point of these chapters are not only post-exilic, but might very well fit in with the time of Zerubbabel, is also shown by Hengstenberg, Stahelin, Havernick, Koehler, Kliefoth, Lange, Bredenkamp, and other prominent Bible scholars and commentators.
To show that the critics themselves are far from sure of "the historic and political situation presupposed in chaps, ix. xiv.," we might point again to the group which includes Eichhorn, H. E. G. Paulus, Vatke, B. Stade, etc., and their English exponents Driver, George Adam Smith, etc., who, though denying Zechariah s authorship, yet ascribe a post- exilic origin for these chapters, some of tJiem as late, or even later, than joo B.C., which guesses are also based chiefly on the supposed " historical and political situation " which they discover in these chapters.
Misconceptions and Misinterpretations
It can be shown, however, that many of the supposed " results " and conclusions of modern critics are based, not only on misconceptions as to the " outward, historical, and
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political situation presupposed " in the scriptures with which they deal, but on misunderstandings and misinterpretations of the text.
This will appear more clearly when we come to the exposition of these chapters ; but an illustration of this fact is found in the summarised arguments against the unity of Zechariah given by Von Orelli under the last two headings of (d] and (e\ We will quote them one by one, and very briefly examine them. The italics in all cases are, of course, ours.
(i.) " As relates to the circumstances of Israel in chaps. ix.xi., chap. ix. is of the nation as found in foreign lands (ix. 1 1) ; but a more general exile is still to come (x. 29)."
We confess we cannot see how, supposing this is admitted, it would go to prove a pre-exilic origin of these two chapters, but we may quote words written by an English divine already before the end of the eighteenth century. " It is urged" says Benjamin Blayney, " that many things are mentioned in these chapters which by no means correspond with Zechariah s time, as when events are foretold which had actually taken place. But it may be questioned whether those subjects of prophecy have been rightly understood, and whether that which has been construed as having a reference to past transactions may not in reality terminate n others of a later period, and some perhaps which are yet o come."
Taking it for granted, as we do, that it is possible for an
nspired prophet, speaking by the Spirit of God, to utter
hings not only in reference to an immediate, but also of a
distant future, the references quoted from chaps, ix. and x.
as relates to the circumstances of Israel," answer exactly
to the facts as contemplated from the starting-point of
Zechariah s time ; for the actual conditions were these : A
remnant had returned after the seventy years Captivity, but
many of Zion s children indeed by far the majority were
" prisoners of hope " (ix. I 2) in the hands of the Gentiles.
In the end, all the dispersed, wherever they may be found
whether in the lands " of the rising of the sun," or in those
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" of the going down of the sun " (viii. 7, 8) will be gathered ; but that Zechariah foresaw a second stage in the dispersion, a more universal scattering before the final and universal gathering, we have already seen in the exposition of vers. i o and 1 1 of chap, ii., and of vers. 7 and 8 of chap. viii.
(ii.) " The Temple in Jerusalem was still standing (xi. 13)." Why not? Did not Zechariah early in his ministry see the completion of the building of a temple in Jerusalem after the partial restoration ? And here again, supposing the difficult prophecy in chap. xi. refers (as, in the light of its striking and manifest fulfilment in Christ, it assuredly does) to a more distant future from the point of view of the prophet, when a temple would exist in Jerusalem ?
(iii.) " Nay, even Ephraim has not gone into exile, . . . but is presupposed as a still existing power (ix. 10-13, x. 6, xi. 7-14)"
Now, this would be a very serious argument against the post-exilic date of these chapters if the statement were true ; but here also the conclusion is not justified by r proper understanding of the references given. It is based on the mention of " Ephraim " or " the house of Joseph," which are used as designations of " Israel " (xi. 14) in the narrower sense namely, for those who during the long schism belonged to the northern kingdom in contrast to " Judah," or " the house of Judah," or " Jerusalem," which stand, when thus contrasted, for the southern kingdom. But if the mention of Ephraim, or " Israel," together with " Judah " and " Jerusalem," is to be taken as a proof that " Ephraim had not gone into exile " when these chapters were written, then on the same ground we might conclude that the northern kingdom still existed when chaps, vii. and viii. were written ; and not only chaps, vii. and viii,, but even the vision of the Horns and Carpenters in chap, i., for there also we read of the " house of Judah and the house of Israel" (viii. 13), and of "Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem" (i. 1 9, ii. 2) ; and yet it is universally admitted, even by the critics, that chaps, vii. and viii., as well as the visions, were written by Zechariah long after the overthrow not
AN EXAMINATION OF MODERN CRITICISM 279
only of Ephraim or the northern kingdom, but even of " Judah."
But in truth these full designations, " house of Judah and house of Joseph," or " Judah and Ephraim," or " Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem," are used by the prophet as all- inclusive terms, for the whole people, after both kingdoms had been overthrown, and the schism which had existed so long had ceased with the Captivity. " The entire nation," as I wrote in my note on chap. viii. 13, "which had previous to the Exile been divided for a time into two kingdoms, are now, after the partial restoration from Babylon, included in both parts of the book, in undivided unity in one common destiny." Together they are, during the Lo-ammi period, " scattered " and " a curse among the nations," and together (the prophet foretells) Jehovah shall " redeem " and gather them, " so that they shall be a blessing."
(iv.) The last of the internal grounds against the unity of Zechariah advanced by the critics, as summarised by Von Orelli, is that " the chief moral and religious faults presupposed in Part II. are pre-exilic. This part still contends chiefly against idolatry (x. 2), and regards the extirpation of false prophets as still future ; their number must still have been great at the time when Zechariah xiii. 2-6 was written."
In reference to idolatry, let me quote the words of another writer :
" Idolatry certainly was not the prevailing national sin after God had taught the people through the Captivity. It is commonly taken for granted that there was none. But where is the proof? Malachi would hardly have laid the stress on marrying the daughters of a strange god, had there been no danger that the marriage would lead to idolatry. Nehemiah speaks of the sin into which Solomon was seduced by outlandish women, as likely to occur through the heathen marriages ; but idolatry was that sin. Half of the children could only speak the language of their mothers. It were strange if they had not imbibed their mothers idolatry too. In a battle in the Maccabee war it is related,
280 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH
Under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jamnites, which is forbidden the Jews by their law (2 Mace. xii. 40).
" The Teraphim were, moreover, an unlawful and for bidden means of attempting to know the future not any coarse form of idolatry ; much as the people now, who, more or less, earnestly have their fortunes told, would be surprised at being called idolaters." l
But it is very probable that Zechariah is speaking in chaps, x. 2, xiii. 2, etc., of the sin which brought on the Captivity, and not of it as existing in his own day. The prediction repeated from one of the former prophets, that God will cut off the very names and memory of idols from restored and converted Israel of the future, does not neces sarily imply that they existed when the prophet wrote. And as to false prophets, they continued to exist after the Captivity such, for instance, were Shemaiah, who "pro phesied" against Nehemiah, and the prophetess Noadiah, and " the rest of the prophets " of whom we read in Neh. vi. 12-14. But here again it is overlooked that it is the distant future of Israel s final deliverance and cleansing which is before the prophet s range of vision, though it is linked to promises which have for their starting-point the more immediate future. There were false prophets at the time of the Lord s first advent, and He Himself warns His disciples against " false prophets " who would appear in the professing Church " in sheep s clothing, but inwardly are ravening wolves," and predicts that before the time of the end " many false prophets would arise and deceive many " (Matt. vii. 15, xxiv. 1 1-24, etc.).
Internal Marks of the Unity of Zechariah
We must draw this already lengthy disquisition to a close. We think we have shown that the objections raised by modern critics against the unity of Zechariah have no sufficient basis in fact.
AN EXAMINATION OF MODERN CRITICISM 281
On the other hand, there are strong reasons, even apart from " tradition " (which in this case includes the testimony of the compilers of the Old Testament Prophetic Canon
- centuries before Christ, and of the Talmud) which has
t ;| always ascribed this scripture to Zechariah to believe that it was the same human pen which committed to writing the series of visions in chaps, i. vi. and the address to the deputation from Bethel in chaps, vii., viii., that the Spirit of God used also to write the last six chapters. The internal proofs of the integrity of the whole book have been thus summarised by another writer, of which, for the sake of conciseness, I gladly avail myself:
"(i) Both portions exhibit an extensive acquaintance with the writings of the later prophets.
" (2) They both exhibit also an extensive acquaintance with the earlier books, thus: In chap. i. 46, chap. vii. 12, reference is made to the former prophets generally. 1
"(3) In both divisions there are similar if not identical expressions to represent the whole people, such as the house of Israel and the house of Judah (viii. 1 3), the house of Judah and the house of Joseph (x. 6).
"(4) Chap. xi. I i is very similar to ii. 911, and the promise x. i to that of viii. 12. In both portions Jerusalem is bid rejoice (ii. 10, ix. 9), and in both the only King of Israel mentioned is the Messiah.
"(5) In both portions there are promises of the bring-
1 Chap. ii. 12 (E.V. 8) recalls the thought, though not the phraseology, of Ps. xvii. 8 ; chap. iii. 8, vi. 12, alludes to Isa. iv. 2, as well as to Jer. xxiii. 5 and xxxiii. 15 ; chap. iii. 10 is from Mic. iv. 4; chap. vi. 13 evidently refers to Ps. ex. 4; chap. viii. 8 recalls Hos. ii. 21 (E.V. 19); chap. viii. 20-22 in substance may be compared with Mic. iv. I, 2, Isa. ii. 2, 3. And in the Second Part, chap. ix. 1-8 bears some resemblance to Amos i. 3, ii. 6 ; chap. ix. IO (first half) is borrowed from Mic. v. 10, and (second half) from Ps. Ixxii. 8 ; chap. xiii. 2 is a quotation from Hos. ii. 17 or Mic. v. 12, 13 (comp. Isa. ii. 18,
- 20) ; and ver. 9 from Hos. ii. 20 (E.V. 23) ; compare also chap. ix. 16 with Isa.
xi. 12; chap. x. 12 with Mic. iv. 5; chap. x. 10-12 with Isa. xi. 15, xiv. 25, x. 24-27, xxx. 31, etc. ; chap. xii. 8 with Joel iv. 10; chap. xii. IO with Joel iii. i, 2; chap. xiv. 3 with Isa. xxxiv. 1-4; chap. xiv. 6, 7 with Amos v. 18-20; Joel iv. (E.V. iii.) 15; Isa. xxx. 26; chap. xiv. 8 with Isa. xi. 9, ii. 3, Mic. iv. 2; chap. xiv. n with Amos ix. 13-15; chap. xiv. 20 with Isa. xxiii. 18; chap. xiv. 21 with Isa. iv. 3, xxxv. 8, Joel iv. (E.V. iii.) 17, etc.
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ing back of the exiles (comp. ii. 6-13, viii. 6-8, with ix. 1 1, 12 and x. 10-12).
" (6) In both there is the habit of dwelling on the same thought or word (e.g., ii. 10, II, vi. 10, vi. 12, 13, viii. 4, 5, viii. 23, xi. 7, xiv. 10, xiv. 4, xiv. 5). In both the whole and its part are mentioned together for emphasis, as v. 4, x. 4 ; and in xii. 1 2 we have every family apart, and then in ver. I 3, the specification. In both parts we have the unusual number of five sections to a verse, e.g., vi. 13, ix. 5-7.
" (7) Both divisions are written in Hebrew free from Aramaisms. In both the expressions me dbker umishabh occurs (vii. 14, ix. 8), an expression which occurs elsewhere only in Ezek. xxxv. 7.
" (8) The highly poetic language and deep prophetic insight of chaps, ix.-xiv. we consider as an additional argument in favour of the unity of authorship of the whole book. For the man to whom in his youth such mystic visions as those of chaps, i.-vi. were vouchsafed, is just such an one to whom we should not be surprised to find that in his later years such profound revelations as those contained in chaps, ix. xiv. were revealed, and who from his poetic and imaginative temperament would be likely to find suitable poetic language and metaphors wherewith to clothe them when revealed to him.
" The internal evidence being favourable to the hypo thesis of the post-exilian origin of chaps, ix. xiv., as well as of chaps, i.-viii., and to that of unity of authorship, rather than adverse to it, and there being no positive external evidence to the contrary, we conclude that it is probable that the whole of the so-called Book of Zechariah is the work of Zechariah, grandson of Iddo." x
1 \V. H. Lowe, M.A., "Hebrew Studenfs Commentary."