The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 15

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The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah by David Baron
The Gentile World-Conqueror and Israel's Prince of Peace

CHAPTER XIV

THE GENTILE WORLD-CONQUEROR AND ISRAEL S PRINCE OF PEACE

(CHAPTER ix)


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The burden of the word of Jehovah upon the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be its resting-place (for the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is toward Jehovah); and Hamath, also, which bordereth thereon; Tyre and Sidon, because they are very wise. And Tyre did build herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will dispossess her, and He will smite her power in the sea ; and she shall be devoured with fire. Ashkelon shall see it, and fear ; Gaza also, and shall be sore pained ; and Ekron, for her expectation shall be put to shame : and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth, and he also shall be a remnant for our God : and he shall be as a chieftain in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite. And I will encamp about My house against the army, that none pass through or return ; and no oppressor shall pass through them any more : for now have I seen with Mine eyes. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy king cometh unto thee : He is just, having salvation ; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraini, and the horse from Jerusalem ; and the battle-bow shall be cut oft"; and He shall speak peace unto the nations, and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth. As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I have set free thy prisoners from the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope ; even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee. For I have bent Judah for Me, I have filled the bow with Ephraim ; and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and will make thee as the sword of a mighty man. And Jehovah shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning, and the Lord Jehovah will blow the trumpet, and will go with whirlwinds of the south. And Jehovah of hosts will defend them, and they shall devour, and shall tread down the sling-stones ; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine ; and they shall be filled like bowls, like the corners of the altar. And Jehovah their God will save them in that day as the flock of His people : for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted on high over His land. For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty ! grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the virgins.


CHAPTER XIV

THE overthrow of world-power, and the establishment of Messiah s Kingdom, may be given as the epitome of the last chapters of Zechariah, to which we have now come. The two oracles which make up the whole of the second half of the book (chaps, ix. xi. and xii. xiv.) show by their headings, as well as by their contents, and even by their formal arrangement, that they are corre sponding portions of a greater whole. Both sections treat of war between the heathen world and Israel, though in different ways.

In the first (chaps, ix. xi.), the judgment through which Gentile world-power over Israel is finally destroyed, and Israel is endowed with strength to overcome all their enemies, forms the fundamental thought and centre of gravity of the prophetic description. In the second (chaps, xii. xiv.), the judgment through which Israel itself is sifted and purged in the final great conflict with the nations, and transformed into the holy nation of Jehovah, forms the leading topic.

" The formal or structural resemblance between the two long oracles into which the last six chapters divide them selves appears also in the fact that in the centre of each the announcement suddenly takes a different tone without any external preparation (chaps, xi. I and xiii. 7), so that it appears as if it were the commencement of a new prophecy ; and it is only by a closer study that the connection of the whole is brought out and the relation between the two is clearly seen namely, that the second section contains a more minute description of the manner in which the events announced in the first section are to be realised. In the

threatening word concerning the land of Hadrach,

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chaps, ix. and x. form the first section, chap. xi. the second. In that concerning Israel the first section extends from chap. xii. i to xiii. 6, and the second from chap. xiii. 7 to the end of the book." l

Chaps, ix. and x., as has just been observed, go together and form a continuous proohecy. The foreground, or more immediate future, to which it refers, is the course of the victories of Alexander the Great, " which circled round the Holy Land without hurting it," and ended in the overthrow of the Persian Empire though the foreground merges, as we shall see, into solemn events both of judgment and of mercy of a more distant future.

The prophecy begins with the word N&ip (massa), which the Authorised Version, together with all the ancient versions (with the exception of the Septuagint), have rendered " burden " ; but the majority of modern scholars translate simply " oracle," or " utterance," or " sentence."

It is not necessary to enter here into a long critical ex amination of the actual force of this word when used as a superscription to prophetic utterances ; but it is certainly true that NE>D (massa*), which is from the verb N^3 (nasa\ I " to lift," or " take up," as a man takes up a burden, " is never placed in the title," as is observed already by Jerome, " save when the vision is heavy, and full of burden and toil."

It is used by Isaiah entirely as the heading to the prophecies which contain threatenings and announce judg- msnts against the nations who have acted as oppressors of Israel, 2 and in Nahum it forms the introductory formula to the\ prophetic description of the destruction of Nineveh. In shcVt, in ordinary Hebrew " massa is unquestionably used in the sense of a burden, and the prophecies to which it is affixeVl are mainly prophecies of woe and disaster." Here, moreover (in Zech. ix. i and in chap. xii. i), massa

1 Keil. I have taken the liberty of recasting and slightly condensing his valuable remarks.

2 Isa. xiii. i, xiv. 2$, *v. I, xvii. i, xix. i, xxi. I, n, 13, xxii. i, xxiii. I. A full and able criticism, i ive pages long, on the use of the word will be found in Ilengstenberg (Christology / on Zech. ix.


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does not stand alone as the introductory formula, as is the case in Isaiah and Nahum, but is followed by nirr IJH (debhar Yehovah\ " the word of Jehovah " ; as is the case also in Mai. i. I, which begins, " The burden of the word of Jehovah to Israel

Very many pages have been devoted by commentators to the discussion as to the meaning of Hadrach, Because the name occurs nowhere else in the Bible, and because of the difficulty in identifying it with any known place or district in Syria, it has been generally understood by Jewish and Christian commentators as having a symbolical or mystical significance. Thus Kimchi says, " We find in the words of our Rabbis of blessed memory that Rabbi Benaiah says Hadrach is the name of the Messiah, who is sharp in (Jiad) to the Gentiles, and tender "P_ (rakli) to Israel." And this interpretation of Rabbi Benaiah is echoed also by other Jewish expositors. The explanations given by most Christian commentators have been quite as fanciful. Thus Hengstenberg (who devotes eight learned pages to it in his Christology), Kliefoth, Keil, and others explain Hadrach to be " a symbolic epithet, descriptive of the Medo-Persian Empire, which is called sharp-soft, or strong-weak, on account of its inwardly divided character." *

Gesenius, Bleek, and others have taken Hadrach as the name of some Syrian king who is supposed to have reigned in Damascus between Benhahad in. and Rezin, which utterly baseless supposition (since there is no trace whatever in history of the existence of such a king) has been taken by them as a support for the theory of a pre- exilic origin of these chapters.

Others have wrongly understood the word as standing for " an Assyrian fire-god," or as the name of " a deity of Eastern Aramea," of which also there is no trace in history ; while Olshausen, Von Ortenberg, Bredenkamp, and others regard Hadrach as a scribal error for Hauran, which is a district south of Damascus, and is mentioned also in con nection with Hamath and Damascus in Ezek. xlvii. 1 8.

1 Keil.


288 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

But it is now pretty certain that there was a city called Hadrach in the neighbourhood of Damascus, for compara tively recent monumental historical discoveries have in this, as in so many instances beside, confirmed and thrown light on the Hebrew text. In the list of Assyrian eponyms that is, the list of the various officers after whom the Assyrian years were named in a certain definite order, the kings themselves acting in due course as eponyms we read, in B.C. 772, in the eponymy of Assur-bel-ezer, governor of Calah, of an " expedition to Hadrach " (Ha-ta- ri-ka). This statement immediately follows the name of the governor of Sallat (or Salmat, as Rawlinson and Schrader give the name), who was the eponym in the previous year, when an expedition was made to the city of Damascus. Hadrach (or Hatarika) figures also in the expeditions in the eponyms of later Assyrian kings and generals.

Sir Henry Rawlinson says that in the catalogue of Syrian cities tributary to Nineveh (of which we have several copies in a more or less perfect state, and varying from each other both in arrangement and extent) there are three names which are uniformly grouped together, and which read Manatsuah, Magida (Megiddo), and Du ar (Dor). " As these names are associated with those of Samaria, Damascus, Arpad, Hamath, Carchemish, Hadrach (or Hatarika) and Zobah, there can be no doubt about the position of the cities." x

We proceed to the next line "And Damascus shall be its resting-place"; 2 that is, the judgment which is the " burden " of this prophecy shall first of all have Damascus

1 Those interested in this subject will find full notes and long quotations from Rawlinson, Schrader, etc. , in Dr. Wright s Zechariah and his Prophecies, and in Pusey in his Minor Prophets.

2 nrmp (menuchah) is indeed commonly used of "quiet, peaceful resting," and some (as already the Targum) have understood it as indicating the conversion of the people of Damascus. But this idea is contrary to the context. Rather is it to be understood of the lighting down of God s wrath, which shall there rest until it has accomplished His purpose of judgment. Dr. Wright suggests as a parallel Jer. xlix. 38, when, in allusion to His judgment impending over Elam, God says, " I will set My throne in Elam."

\


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as its goal, and from that centre it shall spread itself over the whole district which the passage goes on to describe.

The easiest and most natural translation of the second half of the first verse Ki la- Yehovah ein adam ve khol shibhte Israel is that given in the Authorised Version and in the text of the " Revised " i.e., "for the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is toward the Lord " ; but the margin of the Revised Version has another rendering, which is supported by the LXX, the Syriac, and the Targum, and is adopted also, with slight variations, by some modern scholars namely, "for Jehovah has an eye (or to Jehovah is an eye ) upon (or over ) man and the tribes of Israel" which is regarded as a parallelism to Jer. xxxii. 19 :" Great in counsel and mighty in work, for Thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings But the rendering given in the Authorised Version is doubtless the true one.

It primarily describes the consternation into which men would be thrown at the approach of the conqueror, who would be the executor of God s judgment, or, as another has expressed it, when the fulfilment of this prophecy takes place " upon Hadrach and Damascus, and the wrath of God descends upon those cities and districts, the eyes of the nations, as well as those of the people of Israel, will look toward Jehovah, and marvel at the wonders of judgment which will then be performed in their sight, in accordance with the solemn warnings of the prophet."

The eye of all the tribes of Israel is particularly speci fied as directed then toward Jehovah, probably because the Jews had special reason to fear the wrath of Alexander, their high priest having from a sense of loyalty to the Persians refused at first to pay tribute or allegiance to the Macedonian conqueror. But what is here foretold as primarily taking place as the result of the terror inspired among the nations which then constituted parts of the

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Medo-Persian Empire by the rapid march and conquests of Alexander the Great, also foreshadows what will take place in a yet future time, when, driven by fear and consternation of God s judgments which shall then be in the earth, the eyes of all men, and " of all the tribes of Israel " in particular, shall be directed toward Him who was once pierced, but now marches forth conquering and to conquer (Rev. i. 7).

In Isa. xvii. we have a somewhat parallel prediction of men s eyes, and specially of the eyes of Israel, being turned to God as the result of judgment, and there also it is primarily coupled with the burden, or oracle, against Damascus : " In that day" we read, " shall a man look unto his Maker, and his eyes shall have respect to the Holy One of Israel ; and he shall not look to the altars, the work of his hands, neither shall he have respect to that which his fingers have made" a passage which reminds us also of the language of the godly remnant in the 26th chapter: " Yea, in the way of Thy judgments, O Lord, have we waited for Thee : to Thy Name and to Thy Memorial is the desire of our soul. With my soul have I desired Thee in the night ; yea, with my spirit within me will I seek Thee early : for when Thy judgments are in the earth the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness" l

But to proceed to the 2nd verse: " And Ha math, also, which border eth thereon " i.e., on Damascus shall be involved in the like fate, and share in the burden of wrath of which Damascus is the " resting-place."

There was a district or small kingdom in Syria, as well as a city of that name (which was its capital), the present Hamath, and within its bounds " in the land of Hamath" Riblah was situated, associated in Jewish memory with terrible sufferings and humiliations at the hands of their conquering foes (2 Kings xxiii. 33, xxv. 6, 7, 20, 21).

Then, having spoken of the two capital cities which represent Syria, the prophet proceeds to speak of the two

1 Isa. xvii. 1-8, xxvi. 8, 9.


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capitals of Phoenicia : " Tyre and (or with ) Sidon, 1 because (or although ) she is very wise"

How Tyre especially showed her worldly wisdom, and the great material prosperity which she attained thereby, we see in the 3rd verse : " And Tyre built herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the street? The words in the Hebrew are vatibhen Tsor matsor. There is a kind of play on the word Tyre (Tsor]. The similarity of the sound and meaning may be somewhat imitated, as Dr. Wright suggests, by the English rendering, " Tyre built herself a tower" though the Hebrew word " matsor " has a much wider significance than the English "tower." "Tyre" (Tsor) was perhaps, in the first instance, so called because of her natural strength, or strong fortifications, the word suggesting a rocky stronghold. But she was not satisfied with that she built herself in addition a matsor a strong rocky fortress. This refers, no doubt, to the new Tyre, which was on an island thirty stadia (about seven hundred paces) from the mainland. This new Tyre is called in Isa. xxiii. 4, E n Tiyip, maoz hayyam, " the stronghold of the sea," because, although very small in extent, it was surrounded by a wall a hundred and fifty feet high, and was so strong a fortification that Shal- maneser besieged it for five years without success, and Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years, and apparently was unable to conquer it. This is confirmed by the heathen historian Diodorus Siculus, who says, " Tyre had the greatest confidence owing to her insular position and fortifications, and the abundant stores she had pre pared." Thus, thinking herself doubly strong and im pregnable, she gave herself up, as the capital of Phoenicia, to commercial enterprise, and " heaped up silver as the

1 Sidon is regarded as an annexe of Tyre, which, as Keil points out, answers to the historical relation in which the two cities stood to one another. Tyre was, indeed, originally a colony of Sidon, but it very soon overshadowed the mother city, and rose to be the capital of all Phoenicia, so that even in Isaiah and Ezekiel the prophecies concerning Sidon are attached to those concerning Tyre, and its fate appears interwoven with that of Tyre. Hence, after the mere mention of Sidon, Tyre only is spoken of in vexs. 3 and 4 of this prophecy.


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dust, and fine or shining gold (tiarutz) as the mire of the street." *

But worldly wisdom, natural strength, and material resources are of no avail if it is the Lord who rises in judgment against us ; and that is true of nations as of individuals.

" BeJiold, the Lord will dispossess her, and He shall smite her power (or her wealth ) in tJie sea ; and she shall be devoured with fire" " Behold " (hinneh} y by which word our special attention is directed to something very important. " Behold," though Tyre is so wise, so doubly strong, so rich yea, even though her strength were a hundred times as great, and she enclosed herself in a hundred strong walls of one hundred and fifty feet high, " the Lord will dispossess her " ; for cities or peoples cannot barricade themselves against God, and " it is altogether useless to build strongholds to keep Him out." It was the Lord who did it through Alexander, whom He used as His scourge against Phoenicia and the Persian power at that time.

"If the reference of a prophecy can be judged of by the event," says another writer, " there can be no doubt what ever to what period this prophecy must refer. The judg ments denounced against Damascus, Hadrach, and Hamath are expressed in such general terms that several events which occurred at very different periods might be adduced as fulfilments of the prophecy. But the prophecies referring to Tyre were not accomplished until the capture and destruction of that city by Alexander the Great. Tyre was unsuccessfully attacked, during the supremacy of the Assyrian power, by Shalmaneser. It was again besieged for many years by Nebuchadnezzar, and it is still a matter of doubt whether it was actually taken by that monarch. It is, indeed, highly probable that Nebuchadnezzar, though he failed in his attack on the island fortress, was so far

1 Compare especially Ezek. xxviii. No wonder the Prince of Tyre became the foreshadowing of Antichrist, and the King of Tyre (Ezek. xxviii. 12) the earthly foreground and type of the chief of the fallen angels.


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successful as to gain possession of the city on the mainland, which was possibly denuded of all that was valuable, and that the Tyrians after the loss of the city on the mainland made peace with the Chaldean monarch on favourable terms. But it is certain that if Tyre was captured at all by Nebuchadnezzar, it was not then burned with fire her sea-girt fortress was not destroyed nor her naval power ruined. Though she may have lost her independence, she did not lose the important position she occupied as the greatest commercial and naval city in the world, and the naval power of the Phoenicians proved in the Persian period of the greatest possible importance to that empire.

" The case was very different when Alexander the Great, having completely shattered the might of Persia in the de cisive battle of Issus, marched with his victorious army into Syria. Alexander directed the main division of his army against Phoenicia, while he dispatched Parmenio with a strong detachment to operate against Damascus. Damascus, where Darius had deposited his riches, opened its gates to that general, who overran all the land of Hadrach, and must also necessarily have occupied Hamath, which probably submitted without a struggle. Sidon surrendered without making any resistance ; but Tyre, after a vain attempt at negotiation, ventured to resist.

" Proudly confident in the strength of their island fortress, the Tyrians mocked the attempts of Alexander to reduce their city. Every engine of war suited for defence had been stored up in their bulwarks, and every device which their skilful engineers could suggest was had recourse to, and for a time with marked success. Ye despise this land army through confidence in the place that ye dwell in is an island, but I will show you that ye dwell on a continent, was the language of Alexander. The shallow channel between the mainland and the island was at last bridged over by a huge dam of earth erected after repeated failures, and the city which had stood a five years siege from the Assyrians, a thirteen years siege from the Chaldeans, was taken after a short siege of seven months by Alexander.


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Ten thousand of its brave defenders were either massacred or crucified, the rest were sold into slavery, and none escaped save those who were concealed by the Sidonians in the ships. O. Curtius adds distinctly that Alexander having slain all save those who fled to the temples, ordered the houses to be set on fire. l

" The city of Tyre was afterwards repeopled by fresh settlers, and recovered some of its prosperity. During the reigns of the Seleucidian monarchs it rose again to consider able importance. But the prophecy of Zechariah had been fulfilled to the letter. The city lost its insular position ; for the mole of Alexander was never removed, and covered over and strengthened by the deposits of sand and other matter, it remains even to this day a monument of the execution of the Divine wrath upon the proud, luxurious, and idolatrous city." 2

But the burden of judgment travels south. The over throw of the Phoenician stronghold and the approach of the powerful enemy greatly terrifies Philistia : " Ashkelon shall see it (or let Ashkelon see it } and fear ; Gaza also shall be sore pained (or greatly tremble ) ; and Ekron, for her expectation (or her hope ) shall be ashamed ; and a king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited (or shall not abide }. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines."

Only four of the five capital cities of the Philistines are mentioned, Gath being usually omitted in the later prophets, perhaps because it belonged, for a time at any rate, to the kingdom of Judah, and was, according to some, ultimately incorporated with it.

The order in which these Philistine cities are named is the same as in Jer. xxv., which prophecy was certainly not unknown to Zechariah.

1 There is a full and graphic account of the siege and capture of Tyre by Alexander in Professor George Rawlinson s Phoenicia ("The Story of the Nations " Series), pp. 216-236.

3 At present Tyre, now called Sur, is an unimportant place with 6000 inhabit ants, about half of whom are Moslems and the rest Latin Christians and " United Catholics."


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Though no special mention is made of Ashkelon, Ekron, or Ashdod in the histories of Alexander s march, they were no doubt occupied by the Macedonian troops. The fate of Gaza, however, at that time is fully recorded. " Strongly fortified, and occupying an important position, its very name, the strong, testified to its natural strength. Despite, therefore, of the terror caused by the overthrow of Tyre, Gaza ventured to resist Alexander, and was not reduced to submission for five months. Its king perished, and the city lost the semi-independence which it seems to have had under the Persian Empire. For the Persians, like their predecessors, the Assyrians and the Babylonians, were wont to permit many of the cities and districts which formed a portion of their empire to retain a state of semi-independence. Hence frequent mention is made of kings subject to the Persian King of kings. "

The one who actually bore the name of King of Gaza at the time of the siege of the city by Alexander was Betis, or Batis, who, though a Persian satrap and commander of the city, had assumed a relatively independent position. His end was tragic. After the fall of Gaza, when ten thousand of the inhabitants were slain and the rest sold into slavery, Batis was bound to a chariot with thongs thrust through the soles of his feet, and dragged through the city.

We cannot with certainty define what is meant by " a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod." The word " too, mamzer, is only found in one other place in the Hebrew Scriptures (Deut. xxiii. 3), and its etymology is somewhat obscure. Among the Jews the term is used of one born out of lawful wedlock, but some think that it properly describes only one who is mixed, or of ignoble birth, and not necessarily one illegitimately born. The ancient versions (the LXX, Syriac, Targum, Vulgate) render the word in our passage by " a foreigner." In any case, as Keil observes, it describes one whose birth has some blemish connected with it, so that he is " not an equal by birth with the citizens of a city or the inhabitants of a land." Hengstenberg has rendered it freely by " Gesindel " (a rabble).


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The second line in the 6th verse may be taken as explanatory of the first. By the dwelling of the mamzer in Ashdod " the pride of the Philistines shall be cut off"

" It would appear that the Philistines were wont to pride themselves upon their nationality, their prowess, and their independence. Their pride would be humbled by Gaza s being deprived of any ruler bearing the name of king, by the city of Ashkelon being removed from its ancient place (i.e., ceasing to exist), and by Ashdod being inhabited by a mixed and bastard population." *

In the 7th verse there is a ray of promised mercy shining out of the thick cloud of judgment which was to alight upon Philistia, for the end of the judgment is the deliverance of the people from their idolatrous abominations, and the incorporation of the remnant which shall remain, among God s people.

"And I will take away his blood and his abominations from between his teeth, and he also shall be a remnant (or shall remain ) for our God : and he shall be as a chieftain (or, as a small tribe, or family ) in Judah, and Ekron shall be as a Jebusite" It is the Philistine nation or people personified as one man who are here spoken of in the singular. The blood (or, literally, " bloods," for the word is in the plural) which God will " take," or " cause to pass away " from his mouth, is the blood of his idolatrous sacrifices, which in the next sentence are called shiqqutsim " abomina tions " and thus deprived of, or delivered from, their polluting idolatry, the remnant that remains shall belong to " our God " the living God of Israel who stands out so glorious in His holiness when contrasted with the " abomina tions " of the heathen, " and He shall be as a chieftain in Judah." 2

1 Wright.

2 The word ^N (alliiph) is used in the earlier books of the Bible of the "dukes," or tribal chiefs or princes of Edom and of the Horites (Gen. xxxvi.; Ex. xv. 15) ; but is applied by Zechariah in chap. xii. of the princes or chieftains of Judah. It is connected with ^N (elleph), "a thousand," and stands perhaps literally for chief, or " head of a thousand. Some critics would substitute eleph for alluph in our passage, and render it "he shall be as a thousand," i.e., a small


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" And Ekron shall be as the Jebusite" which latter, to quote the word of another commentator, " stands here for the former inhabitants of the citadel of Zion," who adopted the religion of Israel after the conquest of this citadel of David, and were incorporated into the nation of the Lord. " This is evident from the example of the Jebusite Araunah, who lived in the midst of the covenant nation (2 Sam. xxiv. and i Chron. xxi.) as a distinguished man of property, and not only sold his threshing-floor to King David as a site for the future Temple, but also offered to present the oxen with which he had been ploughing, as well as the plough itself, for a burnt-offering."

Here we are reminded once again that though the more immediate reference of the prophecy in this chapter was to Alexander s march and conquests, it looked on and merges into a more distant future. Koehler rightly points out that this 7th verse was not fulfilled by the deeds of Alexander, " since neither the remnant of the Phoenicians nor the other heathen dwelling in the midst of Israel were converted to Jehovah through the calamities connected with his expedi tion." On this ground this German scholar regards the conquests of Alexander as the commencement of the fulfil ment, which was then continued through the calamities caused by the wars of succession the conflicts between the Egyptians, Syrians, and Romans until it was completed by the fact that the heathen tribes within the boundaries of Israel gradually disappeared as separate tribes, and their remnants were received into the community of those who confessed Israel s God. But, as Keil observes, " we must

tribe or "clan" injudah. Calvin, however, gives quite a different interpretation to this somewhat difficult passage. He paraphrases the 7th verse thus : "I will rescue the Jew from the teeth of the Philistine" (the figure, according to him, being taken from wild beasts rending their prey with the teeth), "who would have devoured him as he would devour blood or flesh of his abominable sacrifices to idols ; and even /te, the seemingly ignoble remnant of the Jews, shall be sacred to our God ; and though so long in a servile position, and bereft of dignity, I will make them all to be as governors, or princes, ruling others ; and Ekron shall be as a tributary bondservant, as the Jebusite." Then the antithesis would be between the Jew that remaineth and the Ekronite. But the interpreta tion I have given above is doubtless the correct one.


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go a step further, and say that the fulfilment has not yet reached its end, and will not, until the kingdom of Christ shall attain that complete victory over the heathen world " which is foretold in the following verses of this chapter. Then, as has already been stated, when God s judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world shall learn righteousness, and after Israel as a nation is converted, all the tribes and families of the earth shall be blessed with and through them.

But while Israel s enemies in the north and south have occasion to tremble at the approach of the hostile army, God Himself would be the shield and protector of His people and His special dwelling-place in their midst. "And I will camp about My house, WE? iT:ro vechanithi lebhethi (or for i.e., on account, or for the protection of My house) because of the army " (which is most probably the correct reading, though some, by a slight alteration of the first vowel, would read nzisro {matsabhak\ instead of nayo (mitsabhaK), and translate : " I will encamp about, or for, My house, as a garrison, or guard "), " because (or on account ) of him who passeth through or returneth ; x and no oppressor shall pass through them any more, for now have I seen with Mine eyes"

" My house " stands not for the congregation of Israel, as some suppose, but for the Temple ; but the protection of the house carries with it also the protection of the people, which it is supposed will henceforth be under God s favour, so that in the next, or parallel line, the plural is used in the expression, " no oppressor shall pass through them any more."

The word tMis (noges), translated " oppressor," primarily means " taskmaster " one who compels slaves to perform their appointed tasks (Ex. iii. 7, v. 6 10). It is used

1 The phrase 3?p? laiyo (me obher umishabh), "because of him that passeth by and because of him that returneth " ; or, " because of him that passeth to and fro," occurs altogether only four times in the Hebrew Scriptures, and as it is found in Zech. vii. 14 and here in chap. ix. 8, it has rightly been taken (as the expres sion is so unusual) as an indication of the common authorship of the first and second halves of this book, as is pointed out in the Introduction to the second part of this book.


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also of cattle-drivers and tax-gatherers. Once only, and in this very prophecy (chap. x. 4), it is used in a good sense, as describing one who has absolute rule ; but here it stands for the foreign tyrants, the heads of the great Gentile kingdoms who oppressed Israel.

In the last sentence in the 8th verse, " For now have I seen with Mine eyes," we have an echo and reminiscence of Ex. iii. 7 : " / Jtave surely seen (or seeing I have seen ) the affliction of My people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters ; for I know their sorrows " ; where also the word " for I have seen " stands in connection with Israel s affliction at the hands of their " taskmasters," which is the same word in plural form as rendered " oppressor" in Zech. ix. 8. Yes, the God who delivered Israel from under the oppression of Egypt, and with Whom only to " see " the afflictions of His people is to be moved with compassion for their sorrows, will yet again look " with His own eyes," and interpose, and deliver them from the power of their oppressors ; which promise, whatever the more immediate reference, will not be exhaustively fulfilled until the final national deliverance of Israel, of which the deliverance from Egypt is regarded in the prophetic Scriptures as a type, and until the final over throw of the enemies of God and of His people, of which the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host in the Red Sea was a foreshadowing.

With regard to the special fulfilment of the prediction in the 8th verse in the more immediate future from the prophet s point of view, let me remind my readers of the account given by Josephus of the remarkable episode in Alexander s march through Palestine, which agrees also with traditions preserved in the Talmud and Midrashic litera ture. At the commencement of his campaign against Phoenicia, Alexander the Great sent messengers to the Jewish high priest in Jerusalem demanding aid from the Jews and the payment of the tribute which they used to pay to the King of Persia. The high priest, how ever, refused to break the oath of fidelity which he had


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sworn to Darius, and Alexander in consequence threatened to inflict a severe chastisement on Jerusalem as soon as he had captured Tyre, and reduced the Philistine strongholds.

" Now Alexander, when he had taken Gaza, made haste to go up to Jerusalem ; and Jaddua the high priest, when he heard that, was in an agony, and under terror, as not knowing how he should meet the Macedonians, since the king was displeased at his foregoing disobedience.

" He therefore ordained that the people should make supplications, and should join with him in making sacri fices to God, whom he besought to protect that nation, and to deliver them from the perils that were coming upon them ; whereupon God warned him in a dream, which came upon him after he had offered sacrifice, that he should take courage, and adorn the city, and open the gates ; that the rest should appear in white garments, but that he and the priests should meet the king in the habits proper to their order, without the dread of any ill consequences, which the providence of God would prevent. Upon which, when he rose from his sleep, he greatly rejoiced ; and declared to all the warning he had received from God. According to which dream he acted entirely, and so waited for the coming of the king.

" And when he understood that he was not far from the city, he went out in procession with the priests and the multitude of the citizens. The procession was venerable, and the manner of it different from that of other nations. It reached to a place called Sapha, which name, translated into Greek, signifies a prospect ; for you have thence a prospect both of Jerusalem and of the Temple. And when the Phoenicians and the Chaldeans that followed him thought they should have liberty to plunder the city and torment the high priest to death which the king s dis pleasure fairly promised them the very reverse of it happened ; for Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance in white garments, while the priests stood clothed in fine linen, $nd the high priest in purple and scarlet \

\ \


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clothing with his mitre on his head having the golden plate whereon the name of God was engraved, he approached by himself, and adored that name, and first saluted the high priest The Jews also did altogether, with one voice, salute Alexander and encompass him about ; whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alex- 5r ander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind. However, Parmenio alone went up to him and asked him how it came to pass that, when all others adored him, he should adore the high priest of the Jews ? To whom he replied, I did not adore him, but that God who hath honoured him with his high priesthood ; for I saw this very person in a dream, in this very habit, when I was at Dios in Macedonia, who, when I was considering with myself how I might obtain the dominion of Asia, exhorted me to make no delay, but boldly to pass over the sea thither, for that he would conduct my army, and would give me the dominion over the Persians ; whence it is, that having seen no other in that habit, and now seeing this person in it, and remembering that vision, and the exhortation which I had in my dream, I believe that I bring this army under Divine conduct, and shall therewith conquer Darius and destroy the power of the Persians, and that all things will succeed according to what is in my own mind.

" And when he had said this to Parmenio, and had given the high priest his right hand, the priests ran along by him and he came into the city ; and when he went up to the Temple, he offered sacrifice to God according to the high priest s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. And when the Book of Daniel was showed him wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended ; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him and bade them ask what favours they pleased of him ; whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws


302 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year." l


IsraePs Prince of Peace and His Mission in the World

From the victorious progress of the great Gentile world- conqueror, with his great army, which God uses as His rod to chastise the peoples and cities enumerated in the first verses of this chapter; and from the deliverance of the people and land of Israel by Jehovah, who would camp round about His house with an invisible host, " because of him who passeth by, and because of him that returneth " (the primary reference of which, as we have seen, was to a more immediate future) the prophet passes to the true King of Israel, whose strength rests not in chariots and horses, or in the multitude of an host ; and to the great deliverance and salvation which He shall bring, not only to Israel, but to " the nations."

And it is quite in keeping with the character of Old Testament prophecy that there is no perspective observed, nor clear indications given of the pauses and intervals between the different stages and acts by which Messiah s work would be accomplished, and His Kingdom finally established. Like the traveller who from a great distance beholds a whole mountain range as one mountain, without discerning the different peaks, with the long valleys between, so do the Old Testament seers often behold

1 Josephus Antiquities of the Jews, xi. 8. 3. " Rationalism, while it remains such," observes Pusey, "cannot admit of Daniel s prophecies which the high priest showed him, declaring that a Greek should destroy the Persian empire, which Alexander rightly interpreted of himself. But the facts remain that the conqueror, who above most gave way to his anger, bestowed privileges almost incredible on a nation, which under the Medes and Persians had been the most despised part of the enslaved (Tacitus), made them equal in privileges to his own Macedonians, who could hardly brook the absorption of the Persians, although in inferior condition, among themselves. The most despised of the enslaved became the most trusted of the trusted. They became a large portion of the second and third then known cities in the world they became Alex andrians, Antiochenes, Ephesians, without ceasing to be Jews. The law com manded faithfulness to oaths, and they who despised their religion respected its fruits."


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Messiah s Person and Mission without clearly discerning from their distant point of view the interval between the sufferings and the glory that should follow. And not only are their eyes always fixed on the distant and ultimate future, and the final great national and spiritual deliverance of Israel at the time of the end, but the distant future was always connected by them with the more immediate or proximate future. Every promised deliverance they re garded as a pledge of the final great deliverance, and in every redemption which God wrought for His people they saw already the last great redemption which was to be brought to the world by the advent of the Messiah. This we must bear in mind as we proceed to examine the prophecy which is now before us.

We shall not stop to argue with those who would give a non-Messianic, non-Christian interpretation to this great prophecy. Fortunately, such are in the minority, even among the critics.

The attempts of one and another rationalistic writer to apply this passage to Zerubbabel, or Nehemiah, or Judas Maccabeus, or to the entrance of Uzziah into Jerusalem after his victories over the Philistines, or to the entry of Hezekiah into Jerusalem on the day of his coronation (of which there is no historic record, and which, as well as its application to Uzziah, is bound up with the theory of a pre-exilic origin of the second part of Zechariah), have been sufficiently refuted by scholars of the same school.

" When we brush aside all the trafficking and bargain ing over words that constitutes so much of modern criticism, which in its care over the letter so often loses the spirit, there can, at least, be no question that this prophecy was intended to introduce, in contrast to earthly warfare and kingly triumph, another Kingdom, of which the just King would be the Prince of Peace, who was meek and lowly in His Advent, who would speak peace to the heathen, and whose sway would yet extend to earth s utmost bounds. Thus much may be said, that if there ever was a true picture of the Messiah-King and His


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Kingdom, it is this ; and that, if ever Israel was to have a Messiah, or the world a Saviour, He must be such as is described in this prophecy not merely in the letter, but in the spirit of it. And, as so often indicated, it was not the letter but the spirit of prophecy and of all prophecy which the ancient synagogue, and that rightly, saw fulfilled in the Messiah and His Kingdom. Accordingly, with singular unanimity, the Talmud and the ancient Rabbinic authorities have applied this prophecy to the Christ." :

But let us approach the Scripture itself. In view of the magnitude and the joyful character of the announce ment about to be made, the prophet exclaims, " Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion ; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem" which reminds us of the similar summons in the first part of this book : " Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion : for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith Jehovah" 2 which again is an inspired post-exilic echo of the joyous proclamation with which the Book of

1 Edersheim. Many pages could be filled with quotations from the Talmud, the Midrashim, and Jewish commentators, in which this passage is applied to the Messiah. In the Talmud Bab., fol. 98, we read Rabbi Joshua ben Levi asks : " It is written in one place, Behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven, but in another place it is written, lowly, and riding upon an ass. How is this to be understood ? The answer is, If they be righteous (or deserving) He shall come with the clouds of heaven ; if they be not righteous, then He shall come lowly, and riding upon an ass."

With the exception of Rabbi Moshe ha-Kohen (quoted by Aben-Ezra, who applied the prophecy to Nehemiah) and Aben-Ezra (who applies it to "Judas, the son of the Hasmonean ") all the Jewish commentators apply it to the Messiah. Rashi says, "This cannot be explained except of King-Messiah, for it is said of Him, And His dominion shall be from sea to sea ; but we do not find that such a one ruled over Israel in the time of the Second Temple."

Saadiah Gaon, commenting on the words in Dan. vii., " Behold, one like the Son of Man came with the clouds of heaven," says, "This is the Messiah our righteousness. But is it not written of the Messiah, Lowly, and riding upon an ass ? Yes, but this shows that He will come in humility, and not in pride upon horses."

Non-Jewish readers interested in Rabbinic interpretations must be referred to Schottgen, vol. ii. p. 20 ff. ; Pusey, The Minor Prophets (who has a fairly full collection of passages with references) ; Wiinsche, Die Leiden des Messias, pp. 66, 103, etc. ; Hengstenberg, in his Christology ; Alexander McCaul, in his Observations on the gth chapter of his (Kimchi s) Commentary, etc.

- Chap. ii. 10.


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Immanuel l closes: "Cry aloud and shout, thou inhabitress of Zion : for great is the Holy One of Israel in the midst of thee" But when the infinite Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, whom no man hath seen, or can see, manifests Him self, and comes visibly to dwell in the midst of His people, it is always in the person of the Messiah, and the " Lo, I come, and will dwell in the midst of thee," is explained therefore by the equivalent announcement, " Behold, thy King (Messiah) cometh unto thee."

The coming of the King, which is announced in our passage in Zech. ix. is, however, a different one from the coming foretold in the passages quoted from Isa. xii. and Zech. ii. For although, as already stated, there is no per spective observed in Old Testament prophecy, and the two advents of the Messiah are often seen and spoken of by the prophets as one, we know now, in the fuller light of the partial fulfilment, that there is a coming of the Redeemer first in humiliation to suffer and die, before He shall come again a second time in divine majesty to reign over this earth, and to fulfil in a literal sense the hope and promise contained in the name " Immanuel," by Himself, the God- Man, visibly dwelling " in the midst of them," so that Israel will at that time be able to say to the nations, " God is with us," 2 not only in the spiritual sense, in which His presence is a reality to us now, but in the literal sense of having their Divine Messiah-King dwelling and reigning among them.

It is to the first advent of Messiah, then, that attention is especially called by the word " Behold," in the pth verse of the chapter we are now considering, although, as we shall see, this very prophecy looks on also to the second advent, and beyond the sufferings of Messiah, to the glory that should follow.

I have already, in the exposition of chap. vi. 12, pointed out how the Messiah is introduced to us four different times in the Old Testament, and under four

1 Isa. vii.-xii. has been appropriately so styled. - Hebrew, " Immanu-El," Isa. viii. 10, the same as Isa. vii. 14. 20


3 o6 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

different aspects, by this word " Behold," which correspond also to the fourfold portraiture of Christ in the four Gospels. Here it is especially as Zion s King that we are called upon to contemplate Him : " Behold, thy King cometh unto thee" He does not say " a King," but " 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 ; l the Righteous Ruler among men, of the seed of David ; He who, above all other kings, was their King and Saviour, whose Kingdom was to absorb in itself all kingdoms of the earth, the King of kings and Lord of lords." 2

"Cometh unto thee" that is, to Zion, or Israel. He was in a manner, then, " of her," and not of her, as another writer observes. " 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."

But the word, ^, lakh, rendered " unto thee," means also "for thy good" as Keil points out, as is implied also from the whole context, " He cometh unto thee" that is, as thy Deliverer, or, as an ancient cabalistic Jewish writing para phrases it, " 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." 3

Zion s coming Saviour-King is described first as (tsaddik\ " righteous " (rendered in the English version " just "), which means, not " one who has a right cause," as one or two commentators have explained, nor merely " one righteous in character, answering in all respects to the will of Jehovah," as Koehler expresses it, but one animated with righteousness, and maintaining and displaying in His righteous rule this fundamental attribute of the ideal king.

Secondly, He is JWfo (noska \ which the English Bible renders " having salvation," in which it is supported by the

1 e.^., Ps. ii., Ixxii. ; Isa. xxxii. i ; Jer. xxiii. 5, 6 ; 2 Sam. xxiii. 3. a 1 usey. s Zohar.


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authority of the ancient versions (e.g., the LXX, the Targum, the Syriac, and Vulgate), who all render the word " Saviour."

A Jewish controversialist, who has written, perhaps, the best-known polemical work against Christianity, accuses the Christians of corrupting the text here, saying :

" The Nazarenes have altered the word JJEfa, nosha? (saved\ and written instead of it V^B, moshia (Saviour), in order to add some auxiliary confirmation to their faith." l But in the first place the accusation as it stands is false. The Christians have never altered this word. In every Christian edition of the Hebrew Bible it stands just as it does in those edited by Jews. But, in " the next place, allowing him to mean what he does not say, that some Christians, as the Vulgate, have translated the word Saviour, and not saved, as he would have it, they did not do this with a fraudulent intention to confirm their faith, but were led by Jews to think that this was the right sense of the word. The Jews, who translated Zechariah into Greek before the rise of Christianity, translated Wft (nosha } by (Tca&v, saving, or Saviour, and Christians simply followed them. The mistake, therefore, is not to be attributed to the Christians, but to the Jews themselves. But if Jews say that the Greek text has been altered, then we refer them to the Targum of Jonathan, who translates the word by p HEj (Phariq), Redeemer, or Saviour ; and surely Jonathan had no fraudulent desire to favour Christi anity. His translation shows that the meaning of the word originated, and was common, amongst the Jews themselves ; they, therefore, and not the Christians, are answerable for it." 2

But it is pretty generally agreed now that VEfa (noska } is the Niphal participle of the verb V^ (yasha }, and is used in the passive sense, so that the word must be rendered not "saving," but "saved"; though it may be used here, as

1 Rabbi Isaak ben Abraham, of Troki (born 1533, died 1594), in his Chizzuk Emunah.

" Alexander McCaul.


3 o8 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

Hengstenberg suggests, in a more general sense (as in Deut. xxxiii. 29 and Ps. xxxiii. 16, where nosha "saved" is found) as describing one " who is endowed with salva tion," or " furnished with the assistance of God " requisite for the fulfilment of His mission.

We shall see presently the application of the prophecy contained in this word to our Lord, Jesus of Nazareth, but to the prophet s contemporaries the expression would probably recall, as Dr. Wright suggests, the language of the 2nd Psalm, " where the Messiah is represented as saved and delivered, in spite of all the combinations made against Him, and destined to be one day seated on His royal throne."

But taken in its passive sense as meaning " saved," there is none the less promise in the word for the people as well as for the Messiah ; for, as has been well observed, if the King of Israel is " saved," His people (whose Head and Representative He is) must be saved likewise. " His deliverance, or salvation, is a sure sign of the deliverance of His people, which is to be accomplished by His means."

The ideal King of Israel is further characterised as ^y ( ani\ which is rendered in the English versions " lowly," but which primarily means "poor" " afflicted" This word, as is properly observed by Hengstenberg, Keil, and others, gathers up " the whole of the lowly, miserable, suffering condition " of the righteous Servant of Jehovah, as it is elaborately depicted in Isa. liii. ; l and those who feel them selves constrained to recognise in that great prophecy in Isaiah a vivid description of the suffering and death of the Messiah, cannot regard it as strange that Zechariah, who

1 Keil. The apparent paradox that the King who is endowed with salvation and comes to deliver should be " afflicted," or " poor," led the translators of the LXX, the Targumists, the majority of Jewish commentators, and many critics in modern days, to adopt the translation " lowly," or "meek," which is also the rendering given by the evangelists in the Gospels, who, however, simply quote the word from the Greek LXX. iy ( am ), and ijj? ( anav), both come from njj; ( ana/i), to be "bowed down," to be "humbled"; but Jj; (ani) seems, as Von Orelli points out, to refer more to the physical state (in the sense of being "poor" "wretched" " afflicted "), and ijj; ( anav) to qualities of the spirit (in the sense of being " harmless," "humble," " meek," etc.).


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was doubtless acquainted with the writings of Isaiah, and who in all his Messianic passages both in the first and second parts of his book tersely summarises the great predictions of " the former prophets," should be led to describe Israel s Redeemer-King as " afflicted " and suffering.

And in keeping with His character shall be the manner in which He shall present Himself to His people. Not in outward pomp or with display of worldly power, shall He appear, but " riding upon an ass, even upon a colt, the foal * of an ass."

The second sentence in this line more precisely defines the kind of ass which the Messiah shall ride upon. It shall be a young animal not yet ridden on, but still accustomed to run behind the she-asses, as the last qualifying words of the description imply.

The question is discussed by commentators whether the riding upon an ass is to be regarded as an emblem of Messiah s " lowliness," in keeping with the description of Him as " ani" " poor," " afflicted," or as an outward sign of the peacefulness of His mission. But it seems to me that both ideas are merged in the prophecy of this symbolic action. It is true that in the East the ass is generally of a nobler breed, and is not so despised as in the West, and in the earliest times of Jewish history we read of judges and rulers riding on asses ; but that was only, as Hengstenberg has shown by a full discussion of all the references, until horses were introduced, when it was no longer in accordance with the dignity of kings and rulers of Israel to ride on asses. 2 "In fact, from the time of Solomon downwards, we do not meet with a single example of a king, or of any distinguished personage, riding upon an ass."

In Jeremiah s time, for instance, it was certainly regarded as becoming royal dignity for kings and princes to be " sitting in chariots and riding on horses," 3 so that when the Messiah is here represented as " riding on an ass,"

1 Lit., "the son of she-asses." 2 Hengstenberg.

3 Jer. xvii. 25.


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it does suggest the idea of lowliness, in keeping with what had just been said of Him as being " poor " or " afflicted." At the same time, as there is a contrast suggested in the context between the great Gentile world-conqueror, who with his chariots and horses comes to subdue and tread down, and Israel s Redeemer-King, who comes to " speak peace," and as in the loth verse, the horse is certainly one of the emblems of war, His riding upon an ass does also symbolise $&& peaceable character of His mission.

Before passing on to the roth verse, let me very briefly point out the fulfilment of this prophetic picture of the Messiah in the Christ of history :

(a) The Messiah was to be, in a peculiar manner, Zion s King; and our Lord Jesus Christ was born " King of the Jews," and the very inscription on His cross, Jesus Nasa- renus, Rex Jud&orum, still proclaims this everlasting, indis soluble relationship between Christ and Israel. It is true that the Jews as a nation still say, " We will not have this Man to reign over us," and that the " many days during which the children of Israel abide without a king and with out a prince " still continue. But Jesus of Nazareth is Israel s King; and, as sure and certain as there was once a cross raised for Him on Golgotha, so certain is it that " the Lord God " will yet " give unto Him the throne of His Father David," and that He will " reign on Mount Zion and before His ancients gloriously."

(V) " Behold, thy King cometh unto thee" which reminds us of the pathetic lament of the evangelist, " He came unto His own," i.e., His own estate, His own possession (the word being in the neuter), the land and people where above all other places in the world He had a right to expect a welcome, and to be greeted with the enthusiastic joy depicted by the prophet ; but, alas ! as the sequel proved, " His own " they that were His by reason of peculiar and manifold relationship, and who ought to have been prepared for Him as a bride for the bridegroom " received Him not? (c) And Christ is the only Person in all history whose character and experience answer to the description of the


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ideal King in this prophecy. He alone, among the sons of men, can be described as the true Tsaddik the Righteous One, who did no violence, nor was deceit found in His mouth ; the One who always loved righteousness and hated iniquity, whose purity and beauty of character is borne witness to even by those who have not learned to bow their knees in allegiance before Him as the Son of God.

(d} The Lord Jesus Christ, for us men and our salvation also became " poor " and " afflicted " so poor that He Himself could say : " The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man hath not where to lay His head."

(e) And of Him alone also is it true that He is endowed with, and is the bringer of, salvation, because He was Himself " saved " or " delivered," or " made victorious " (as some would render) in the great conflict which He came to wage on our behalf with the powers of darkness. " He trusted in Jehovah that He would deliver Him," l and the chief priests and scribes taunted Him with it on the cross, saying : " Let Him deliver Him now if He desireth Him : if He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe on Him : He saved others, Himself He cannot save! 2 Thus in their blindness and ignorance uttering unconsciously an eternal truth, for it was because He came to save others, and His life, as He Himself had predicted, had to be laid down " a ransom for many," that He could not save Himself.

But though He willingly drank the cup of shame and sorrow which the Father had given Him to drink, and was not delivered from the death on the cross, " He was delivered in very deed from the hand of the great destroyer, for God raised Him from the dead, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it." 3 Thus He was saved by the almighty power of the Father, " and declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead. And because He

1 Ps. xxii. 8. a Matt, xxvii. 39-43. * Acts ii. 23, 24.


3 i2 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

became obedient unto death even the death of the cross

He was made perfect as Redeemer and Mediator, and

is now the Author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey Him." :

We cannot enter here into the significance of Christ s triumphal entry into Jerusalem, which believers in the New Testament can never dissociate from this prophecy in Zechariah.

But I agree with the view of Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and Koehler, that though this scripture then received a literal accomplishment, " that triumphal procession was not, in the main, the fact which the prophecy was designed to depict. The prophecy would have been as truly and really fulfilled if the triumphal procession had never taken place. That single incident in the life of our Lord is not the point which the prophet had in view. It was rather the whole of the Saviour s life, the entire series of events connected with Christ s first advent, which was presented in one striking picture. The actual entrance of Christ into Jeru salem in the manner described in the Old Testament prophecy was an express declaration that this passage was indeed Messianic in the fullest sense, and was fulfilled in His Person and work." 2

It is in this sense that Matthew and John 3 quote this passage in connection with that entry ; not, however, in the stiffness and deadness of the letter. " On the contrary (as so often in Jewish writings), two prophecies Isa. Ixii. 1 1 and Zech. ix. 9 are made to shed their blended light upon this entry of Christ, as exhibiting the reality, of which the prophetic vision had been the reflex. Nor yet are the words of the prophets given literally as modern criticism would have them weighed out in the critical balances- cither from the Hebrew text, or from the LXX rendering ; but their meaning is given, and they are " Targumed " by the sacred writers according to their wont. Yet who that sets the prophetic picture by the side of the reality the

1 Rom. i. 3 ; Phil. ii. 8 ; Heh. v. 9. 2 C. H. H. Wright.

s Matt. xxi. 4, 5 ; John xii. 14, 15.


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description by the side of Christ s entry into Jerusalem can fail to recognise in the one the fulfilment of the other ? " l

From the Messiah s humiliation, the depths of which are reached in the words " poor," or " afflicted," and " riding upon an ass " (ver. 9), the prophet s vision is directed to the glory that should follow, and to the blessed results of the advent of this Redeemer-King, not only in relation to Zion and Israel, but to the whole earth :

" And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim? and the horse from Jerusalem, and tJie battle-bow shall be cut off ; and He shall speak peace unto the nations : and His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth"

As the deliverance which Israel s Prince of Peace shall bring will not be by means of chariots and horses, or by the multitude of a host, so also shall His Kingdom not be founded on worldly might ; nor shall those subject to His rule have need to rely on any of these things. This is in keeping with what the Lord had already spoken through one of the earlier prophets : " / will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and I will save them by (or in ) Jehovah ttieir God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen" 3 In other words, Jehovah alone, in the Person of the Messiah, shall then be the hope and confidence of His people, for " He is their Help and their Shield " ; 4 or, as He had already said of restored Jerusalem, through Zechariah, in the third vision : " /, saith Jehovah, ivill be unto her a wall of fire round about, and I will be the glory in the midst of her " 6 that is, her all-sufficient outward protection and inward illumination.

1 Edersheim.

2 The mention of Ephraim alongside of Jerusalem in this place is considered by some commentators as proof of the pre-exilic origin of the second half of Zechariah "when the kingdoms of Israel, on the one hand, and of Judah on the other, were independent nations." Von Orelli even sees in this passage a proof that Ephraim "at the time, apparently, rejoiced in considerable military strength." But, as I have shown in the "Introduction to the Second Part of Zechariah," the argument rests on a misconception, and has no real basis in fact.

3 Hos. i. 7. 4 Ps. cxv. 9. 5 Chap. ii. 5.


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He will, therefore, "cut off" the instruments of war and emblems of worldly power, first of all from His own people because they shall have no need of them, and lest they should still be tempted to be like the Gentile world-powers, some of whom " trust in chariots and some in horses." l

But the mission of the Jewish Messiah the Prince of p eace extends not only to Israel and Palestine : " He shall speak peace to the nations " an expression which does not mean exactly that Messiah would command peace to the nations, as Koehler and others interpret ; or that He " would bring about peace by compassing the disputes and quarrels of the contending nations," as some other writers understand it. The phrase Di?^ ~\y\ t daber shalom ( to speak peace "), is used in some instances in the sense of speaking that which avowedly has peace for its object, whether the profession be sincere or not ; 2 or simply speaking in the sense of announcing peace and the removal of hostility. Thus God is said to " speak peace to His people and to His saints." 3

It is in this latter sense, I believe, that the words are to be understood here. Israel s Redeemer-King comes to publish peace to the nations not only peace from outward strife and conflict with one another, but that deeper inner peace, and the removal of hostility between man and God, which has been the cause of all outward restlessness and strife though it is implied also that there is both power and authority in the word which He shall speak to bring about the blessed end which He has in view.

"And His dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth" which is a verbal quotation by our prophet from the 72nd Psalm, where the effects of the blessed reign of the true Son of David, Israel s ideal " King," is so beautifully depicted, and where we read that " He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth. They that dwell in the wilderness shall bow before Him ; and His enemies shall lick the dust. . . . Yea, all kings shall fall down before Him ; all nations sJtall serve Him"

1 PS. jcx. 7. * Ps. xxviii. 3, xxxv. 20. * Ps. Ixxxv. 8.


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The phrase QJ "W DJO, miyyam ad yam from sea to sea is idiomatic, and equivalent to " from the sea to the other end of the world where the sea begins again." The nahar (" river ") is the Euphrates, and is mentioned as the remotest eastern boundary of the promised land, according to Gen. xv. 1 8 ; Ex. xxiii. 3 1 .

In short, from the Holy Land, which will then be extended to the limits originally promised to the fathers, and which will be the centre of Messiah s blessed rule, His dominion will extend even " unto the ends of the earth."

Before finally taking leave of the loth verse, we must note once more that, in keeping with the special style and characteristic of our prophet (which we had occasion to observe again and again in our study of the first half of the book), Zechariah not only bases his prophecy of Messiah s Person and Mission on the utterances about Israel s coming Redeemer of the " former prophets," but gives, so to say, a terse summary of God s previous revela tions on this great theme. This indeed is one reason why this short prophetic book of only fourteen chapters is so marvellously rich in its contents ; for, in addition to new Divine communications granted to this priest-prophet, we have in it, as it were, an inspired condensation, or summary, of the great prophecies and promises contained in the earlier prophets.

We have already noted the verbal quotation from the 72nd Psalm, but there are also earlier prophetic utterances which are interwoven in this inspired picture of Messiah s Person and Mission as presented by Zechariah. The chief of these is Mic. v. : " But thou, Bethlehem-Ephratah, which art little (or least ) to be among the cities of Judah, out of thee shall One come forth unto Me that is to be Ruler in Israel ; whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. . . . And He shall stand and feed in the strengtli of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God : and they shall abide, for now shall He be great unto the ends of the earth. And this One shall be our peace. . . . And it shall come to pass in that day, saith Jehovah, that I will cut off thy


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horses out of the midst of thee, and I will destroy thy chariots, and I will cut the (walled) cities of thy land, and 1 will throw down all thy strong holds x

Here we have a Child born in time, in a small obscure place in Palestine, and of a race despised by the other nations, whose " goings forth " are from eternity, and who would be great unto the ends of the earth, and not only be the bringer of peace, but Himself " be our peace"

And the same picture of the true Son of David and ideal King of Israel, with the same enigmatical and apparently paradoxical combination of characteristics of humiliation and helplessness on the one hand, and of power and dominion on the other, which is to spread over the whole earth, not by force of arms but by means of His simple Word, is given also by Micah s contemporary Isaiah the son of Amos, 2 and was also doubtless in the mind of Zechariah as he spoke of the King who should appear in lowliness but would yet speak peace to the nations, and exercise a sway which would extend to the ends of the earth.

Secondly, I must once again repeat what has been stated at the beginning of my remarks on the 9th verse, that there is no perspective observed in the Old Testament prophecy, and that the prophets behold from their distant point of view the two advents of Messiah as one, not observing the different stages and long pauses in the process of the fulfilment of His mission on earth.

A pause of nearly two thousand years has already ensued between the Qth and loth verses of this great prophecy between the time when Jesus, " that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet" Zechariah, presented Himself to the daughter of Zion as her true King, " meek, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt, the foal of an ass, 3 and the time when He shall " speak peace to the nations," and shall visibly " stand and feed (or rule ) in the strength of Jehovah, in the majesty of the name of Jehovah His God."

1 Mic. v. 2, 4, 10, II. - Isa. ix. 1-7 (R.V.). 3 Matt. xxi. 4, 5.


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Indeed, we know by comparing scripture with scripture that before the instruments of war shall finally be " cut off," and the Messiah is manifested as the Judge and " Reprover " of strong nations, so that they " shall beat their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning-hooks," and neither learn nor practise war any more, the greatest war which this afflicted earth has ever seen is to take place, during which time the nations will " beat their plough shares into swords, and pruning-hooks into spears."

But this is sure and certain, that however long the pause may last, God never loses the thread of the purpose which He has formed for this earth ; and as surely as the prophecies of the sufferings of Christ have been literally fulfilled, so surely will those also be which relate to His glory and reign ; and although Israel and the nations have had to wait long for it, the angels song at the birth of our Saviour, " Peace on earth and goodwill toward men," will yet be realised, and Christ will not only be owned by His own people as " the King of the Jews," but His rule will extend " from sea to sea, and from the river even unto the ends of the earth."

Meanwhile, while He is still rejected on earth, He is exalted at the right hand of God in heaven ; and to those who already recognise Him as King, and render to Him the glad allegiance of their hearts, He already " speaks peace," yea, a peace which passeth all understanding even in the midst of outward strife and travail such as the world can never give nor take away.

The last seven verses of the pth chapter (to which the whole of the I oth chapter is linked) set forth in fuller detail the results of the advent and mission of the Redeemer- King, more particularly in relation to Israel nationally. The prophet had spoken of Messiah in the loth verse, as the One who would also " speak peace to the (Gentile) nations," whose dominion would extend even " to the ends of the earth " ; now he turns again to Zion and Israel. " As for thee (or, literally, thou also ), by (or because of ) the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth " (or release,


3 i8 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

or send free) " thy prisoners " (or captives : literally, " thy bound ones ") " out of the pit wherein is no water

It is the whole nation which is thus addressed, as we see from the context, where the inclusive terms " Ephraim and Judah " and " Judah and Ephraim " l are used. This is clear also from the words which follow, for the covenant which God made, whether with Abraham or with the people at the foot of Mount Sinai, included the whole people, and there was no provision or promise in it which applied to one part, or to some of the tribes and not to the others.

The primary reference of the phrase =ir i n .? E"!?, bedam berithekh " the blood of thy covenant " is most probably to Ex. xxiv., when, at the ratification of the Sinaitic cove nant, we read that Moses took the blood of the slain animals in basins, and, after sprinkling half on the altar, which represented God, and half on the people, he ex claimed, " Behold, the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words." 2

To that covenant Israel proved itself unfaithful ; and as they still persist as a nation in taking their place before God on the ground of a broken law, and strive, though vainly, to establish a righteousness of their own, they have been permitted to have a long and bitter taste of the curses which the law proclaims against disobedience to its pre cepts. But though Israel proved themselves unfaithful, and this particular covenant itself was " broken," 3 " the blood of the covenant" on which emphasis is laid in this prophecy, was a sign and pledge of the faithfulness of God (though all men prove liars), and typically set forth the provision which God has made by which eventually His disobedient and rebellious people would be brought back within the sphere of blessing.

But the covenant of Sinai was not the only one which God made with and for Israel ; there was a much earlier one the one He made with Abraham, which was in the nature, not of a contract between two parties, but of a promise to the fulfilment of which God alone was pledged.

1 Vers. 10-13. 2 Ex. xxiv. 8. 3 Jer. xxxi. 31.


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And in connection with that covenant, too, there was the shedding of the blood of the animals and birds which Abram was commanded to slay l which, as well as the blood-shedding on Sinai, and indeed of all the blood of the sacrifices which were " on Jewish altars slain," pointed to the great sacrifice " of nobler name," and to the much more precious blood which alone secures to sinful man God s covenanted blessings.

The antitypical ratification of the covenant, therefore (whatever the primary reference of these words in Zechariah), took place when Israel s Messiah, Jesus, appeared as the " minister of the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the fathers." 2

" This is My blood of the new covenant," He said, when about to lay down His life a ransom for many ; and since the great sacrifice on the cross, all the promises of God, " how many soever," or whatever they may be, whether made to Israel nationally, or intended for all men generally ratified as they now are in His own precious blood, have become, so to say, doubly sure and certain , for " in Him is the Yea, and in Him the Amen, to the glory of God by us." 3

But to return to our prophecy. Because of the ever lasting covenant-relationship which exists between Him and His people, sealed and ratified with blood, " / have sent forth" God says, " thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water"

The perfect tense of the verb nn?B> (shillachti) " I have sent forth," or " released " is prophetic of what God intends to do, there being many instances in the prophetic Scriptures where the perfect is used for the future. With the eternal, unchangeable God, His promises, however distant be the set time of their fulfilment, are already as good as accomplished.

The description " prisoners " in a " pit," or " dungeon," " wherein is no water," primarily describes, figuratively, Israel s condition in captivity, out of which God, in virtue of His covenant promise, will deliver them.

It reminds us of the description of Jacob, when given

1 Gen. xv. 9, 10. 2 Rom. xv. 8, 9. * 2 Cor. i. 20.


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over for a time " for a spoil," and " Israel to the robbers," which we find in Isaiah : " But this is a people robbed and spoiled ; they are all of them snared in holes, and they are hid in prison houses : they are for a prey, and none deliver eth ; for a spoil, and none saith, Restore" x But though in " prison," and " robbed," and " spoiled," they are not given over to death, this being already hinted at in the expres sion bor ein mayim bo " the pit (or dungeon ) without water in it" which is an echo of Gen. xxxvii. 24 (where exactly the same phrase is found), with an evident allusion to the story of Joseph. It was with a view to save him from a violent death that Reuben proposed that Joseph should be thrown into the pit, which was doubtless a dis used cistern, such being on occasion also used as dungeons. But it made all the difference to Joseph that there was no water in that pit or cistern ; for had there been water in it, he would have been drowned.

So it is with Israel. They are likened to one bound and in a " pit," or " dungeon," which, alas ! has also been literally the case with multitudes of Israel s sons and daughters during the period of their " captivity " ; but God sees to it that there should be no water in the pit, and that His people, which is still bound to Him by covenant blood, should not utterly perish. And eventually, at the word of God, Israel, like Joseph, shall be freed from the pit and lifted from the position of humiliation and suffering to become a nation of princes on the earth.

And Israel s deliverance from national bondage will synchronise, and be, so to say, the outward sign of their still greater spiritual deliverance, for the words " prisoners " (asirim, literally, " bound ones ") and " pit " (bor) are used in other scriptures to describe the condition of men, who are not only in outward bodily captivity, but who are in the bondage of sin and captives to Satan.

Thus the Messiah is anointed and sent to open the prison-gates " to them that are bound " ; 2 and in the day

1 Isa. xlii. 22.

3 Asurttn, Isa. Ixi. I ; the same as "prisoners" hi Zech. ix. u.


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when Israel, by a look at their crucified Messiah, is " redeemed from all his iniquities " and experiences God s " plenteous redemption," l it will be this greater spiritual deliverance that they will celebrate in words which are already familiar and precious to us who know the Messiah of Israel as our personal Redeemer.

" He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay ; and He set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings" (Ps. xl. 2, 3).

And the same double promise of national and spiritual deliverance and blessing is contained also in the I 2th verse:

" Turn ye to the stronghold, ye prisoners of /wpe."

The pi-p, bhitsaron " stronghold," or " fortress " to which the captives are invited to return, is perhaps primarily their own land, which is as a rocky and fortified " fastness " as compared with the low-lying " pit " of their captivity. But even the Jewish commentator Kimchi sees in it a reference also to God, who is the strength and sure refuge of His people, and paraphrases the first words of this verse, " Turn ye to God, for He is a stronghold and tower of strength." And this agrees also with earlier prophetic utterances in which God Himself is spoken of as the safe hiding-place and defence of His people, as, for instance, Joel iii. (which seems to me to be one of the scriptures from i the earlier prophets which was in the mind of Zechariah when writing the last verses of the 9th chapter), where we read that in the day when the Lord shall gather the nations for judgment, and the whole order of nature shall be shaken, "Jehovah will be the refuge of His people , and a stronghold to the children of Israel" z

The expression njpnn "V DN, asirei hatiqvah " prisoners of hope," or of " the hope " truly describes the Jewish people in their banishment and scattering, and marks the difference between the nation which stands in an indissoluble relationship to God by reason of the " blood of the covenant," and all other nations as nations. The

1 Ps. cxxx. 7, 8.

- Joel iii 1-6. Here the word for stronghold is rijfl? (moat). 21


322 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

Jewish nation may for its sins be sent into captivity as " prisoners " ; Jacob may be " given over for a spoil, and Israel to the robbers," " but there is hope (tiqvaJt) for thy latter end, saith Jehovah," 1 or, to quote from an earlier chapter of the same prophet : " For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you nipfN n^nx (acharith vethiqvah)" literally, " a latter end and hope " 2 that is, a " latter end " according to the hope based on God s own promise. Therefore the Psalmist, in response to the agonising cry of the remnant of Israel " from the depths " of their national tribulation and anguish in Ps. cxxx. which at the same time breathes such a spirit of confident reliance on God s word of promise as is expressed in the words : " / wait on Jehovah ; my soul doth wait, and in His word do I hope " is inspired to address to them the encouraging exhortation : " O Israel, hope in Jehovah (for it is a hope which will not be put to shame) ; for with Jehovah there is mercy, and with Him, there is plenteous redemption, and He shall redeem Israel from all his iniquities" 3 And since his iniquities have been the underlying cause of all his sufferings and sorrows, when God forgives Israel his sins, and removes his transgressions, He shall " redeem " him also " out of all his troubles." 4

And there is a certain analogy in this respect between Israel and the Church, or rather between Israel in their present condition as " prisoners of hope," and those who, in and through Christ, have already set their hope upon God. We are not in outward or bodily dispersion and banish ment, as Israel is ; nor, praise be to God, are we in bondage to sin or Satan. In Christ we have even now " redemption by His blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace " ; already we have been delivered out of the power of darkness and are translated into the kingdom of the Son of His love, and are made heirs and joint-heirs with Christ of an inheritance which is incor ruptible and undefiled, and that fadeth not away. Yet,

1 Jer. xxxi. 17. 2 Jer. xxix. n.

8 Ps. cxxx. 7, 8. * Ps. xxv. 22.


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inasmuch as we are still environed by an unrenewed creation, which, on account of man s sin, was subjected to vanity ; so long as we still carry about " the body of this death " and know the motions of sin and death within us ; so long as we are still in this present evil age, and not actually in our glorious promised land, and our Father s own house we are " prisoners of hope," for not only do we still form part of that creation which groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now, but ourselves also, which have the first-fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for our adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. For by hope are we saved ; but hope that is seen is not hope : for who hopeth for that which he seeth ? But if we hope for that which we see not, then do we with patience wait for it." l

We are therefore longing and looking for the realisation of " the Blessed Hope," namely, " the appearing of the glory of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ," who also shall bring rest and deliverance to a groaning creation and fashion anew the body of our humiliation that it may be conformed to the body of His glory, according to the working whereby He is able even to subject all things unto Himself. 2

1 Rom. viii. 22-25.

2 Zech. ix. 12 is the only place in the Hebrew Bible where the word for hope has the article. It is therefore, as has been observed, not any hope, or general hope, that the prophet speaks about, but THE SPECIAL hope of Israel, " the hope which sustained him through all the years of patient expectation." The centre and essence of it is the Messiah, and the great promised national and spiritual redemption which He was to accomplish, and which will not be fully realised till He shall appear a second time apart from sin unto salvation, and to establish His righteous rule on the earth.

The hope is carried over therefore from the Old Testament into the New. Paul speaks of it as " the hope of Israel," for which the Jews of Rome saw him bound as a prisoner in a chain (Acts xxviii. 20), or, as he said in his defence before Agrippa : " I stand here to be judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes earnestly serving God night and day hope to attain. And concerning this hope I am accused by the Jews, O King" (Acts xxvi. 6, 7).

It was doubtless in his mind when he spoke of "the blessed hope and the appearing of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ" (Tit. ii. 13), for then the hope as regards the Church, and Israel, and the world, will be fully realised.


324 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

But, to proceed to the second half of the 1 2th verse, " even to-day" in thy present adversity and in spite of all appearances, " do I declare " (or " tell " you as good news, from which you may already draw consolation and hope) " that I will render " (or " cause to return ") " double unto thee."

There are several scriptures in which the word " double " occurs as expressing a principle of God s dealing with His own people. The key and explanation of it is found in His own appointment in reference to the first-born. According to the law, the first-born son inherited a double portion of his father s property as compared with the other members of the family. This, except it were forfeited by personal unfitness, or trans gression, was his inalienable right. If, contrary to God s original appointment, any man of Israel had two wives, " the one beloved and the other hated, and they had borne him children, both the beloved and the hated, and if the first-born son be hers that was hated, then it shall be in the day that he causeth his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved the first-born before the son of the hated, . . . but he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the hated, by giving him a double portion (shenayini} of all that he hath ; . . . the right of the first-born is his." : An illustration of this principle we have in the case of Joseph. Reuben having, by an act of personal moral defilement, disqualified himself to inherit the birthright, it was transferred to Joseph, 2 and as a consequence his descendants were counted as two tribes Ephraim and Manasseh who had two portions of the land instead of one ; and Joseph himself became by this act entitled to a double portion of Jacob s personal possessions. Now Israel is God s " son," God s " first-born " in relation to the other nations, 3 and He deals with them on the principles of His own law. In his own land, and under the protection of the Covenant-keeping God of his fathers, Israel enjoys a " double portion " of favour and 1 Deut. xxi. 15-17. a I Chron. v. i, 2. 3 Ex. iv. 22.


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blessing. But commensurate with privilege is responsi bility, and of him to whom much is given much is required. Therefore when Israel sinned he was visited with " double " punishment. This is the explanation of such passages as " She hath received of the Lord s hand double " (kiphlayim " twofold ") " for all her sins " ; x or, " I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double " (mishneh " a repeti tion " ; once and again) " because they have defiled My land . . . and have filled Mine inheritance with their abominations." 2 This is the key and explanation of the woeful history of the Jewish people during the centuries of their banishment and dispersion. This is why under the whole heaven it hath not been done as has been done upon Jerusalem ; 3 and that, as Josephus complains, Israel s sorrows and sufferings surpass that of all the rest of mankind.

But Israel s disobedience and consequent sufferings are not to last for ever. Even in their dispersion they are, as we have seen, " prisoners of the hope," and when restored to their land and brought back into favour as God s " first born " among the nations, then "for their shame they shall have double " mishneh " and for the " (or, instead of) " confusion they shall rejoice in their portion ; therefore in their land they shall possess the double. Everlasting joy sJiall be unto them" 4

And it is particularly this grand prophecy in Isa. Ixi., to which, as it seems to me, there is this inspired reference in our passage in Zechariah when he announces to them in their then still national day of gloom that God will cause the double to return to them.

From the final results to Israel and the nations of the advent and mission of the Messiah we are in the next three verses taken back to the process.

Before Judah shall finally be saved, and Israel possess again in their land the " double " portion of blessing and privilege, Gentile world-power must be broken, and the

1 Isa. xl. 2. 2 Jer. xvi. 18.

3 Dan. ix. 12. * Isa. Ixi. 7.


326 VISIONS AND PROPHECIES OF ZECHARIAH

enemies of God s kingdom be finally overthrown. The figures in vers. 1 3 to I 5 are very bold and graphic : " For I will bend (or stretch ) Judah for Me as a bow, and I will fill it with Ephraim ; l and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and I will make thee as the sword of a mighty man. And Jehovah shall appear above them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning : and the Lord Jehovah shall blow the trumpet, and shall go forth (or march ) with whirlwinds (or in the tempests ) of the south" Judah is the drawn bow, Ephraim the arrow, and Zion the sword in the hand of Jehovah, by means of which the foe is thoroughly subjugated.

The ! ""P.2, Benei- Yavan, sons of Javan, who come within the range of the prophet s vision in this passage, are " the Greeks as the world-power," or the Graeco- Macedonian kingdom ; but, as we shall see, the more immediate merges here also into the more distant future. The "weak beginnings" of the fulfilment of this prophecy, to borrow an expression from Keil, is to be seen " in the wars between the Maccabees and the Seleucidae, or Greek rulers of Syria," to which also some ancient Jews applied this prophecy :

" The wars of the Jews against Greece, under the heroic leadership of the Maccabees, were occasioned by the attempt to overturn the Jewish religion and substitute in its place Grecian customs (comp. I Mace. viii. 9-18; 2 Mace. iv. 13-15). Those wars were essentially religious in their character. The Maccabean heroes went forth to the con test with the full conviction that the cause in which they were engaged was the cause of God, and that the Lord was with them in all their various difficulties and trials. In the glowing language of the prophet (ver. 14), Jehovah was seen over them, and His arrow went forth as the lightning ; yea, the Lord Jehovah blew with the trumpet, for He was the real Captain of His host, and the war waged by the Jews was in defence of His truth. The

1 on?* fix 1 ??. Von Orelli regards Ephraim as the quiver the object filled with arrows for God s u<e.


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Lord is further described as going forth in the storms of the south ; because the storms from that quarter, coming from the desert, were generally the most violent (Isa. xxi. i). The language used is highly figurative, but it need not surprise us that the exploits of the Maccabees should be so described when we call to mind the vivid language in which David depicts his own deliverance in the remarkable song in the day when God delivered him from his foes. 1 Small as were the armies which Judas and his brethren commanded, those armies were the armies of Israel, and they went forth to battle in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, who was then defied by the Grecian foe, even as in former days He had been defied by the Philistine (i Sam. xvii. 45). Thus doing battle against the enemies of their God, out of weakness they were made strong, they waxed valiant in fight, and turned to flight the armies of the aliens (Heb.

xi- 34)-"

But that the prophecy cannot be altogether restricted to the Maccabean struggle with the Syrian Greeks is mani fest, for the whole passage points to the complete subjuga tion of imperial world-power.

No ; Zion and Greece, as has been well observed by another writer, are in this prophecy of Zechariah opposed to one another as the city of God and the city of the world (the " civitas Dei, and the civitas mundi" as Augustine has it), and the defeat of Antiochus Epiphanes and his suc cessors at the hands of comparative handfuls of despised Jews, to which this passage may primarily refer, foreshadows the final conflict with world-power, and the judgments to be inflicted on the confederated armies who shall be gathered against Jerusalem, not only directly by the hand of God, but also by the hand of Israel, who shall then be made strong in Jehovah, so that " the feeble among them shall in that day be as David, and the house of David shall be as God, as the Angel of Jehovah before them."

1 Ps. xviii. 6-9 ; comp. also Ps. cxliv. 6, 7 ; Ps. Ixxvii. 16-19 ; and especially Hab. iii. 12-14.


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Then, in a literal sense, Jehovah in the person of their Messiah "shall be seen over them, and His arrow shall go forth as the lightning," and He Himself as the Captain of the Host " shall blow the trumpet," * and " shall go forth and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle." z

The 1 5th verse illustrates the word of the Psalmist, " Through God we shall do valiantly, for He it is that shall tread down our adversaries." 3 "Jehovah of hosts" we read, " shall defend them ; 4 and they shall devour ; and they shall tread down the sling stones ; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine : and they shall be filled like bowls, like the corners of the altar" The devouring (or " eating ") and " drinking " must, of course, be understood in a figurative sense for it is only to a perverted imagination, worthy of those who from time to time seek to revive the diabolical lie which is known by the name of the " Blood Accusation," that the thought could ever occur that the Jews did literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of their conquered adversaries. 5

The figure which is here before the prophet s mind is

1 See the somewhat parallel passage Isa. xxx. 30-33, where the enemy primarily referred to is the Assyrian.

2 Chap. xiv. 3.

3 Ps. Ix. 12, cviii. 13.

4 Ci !T.?y }5J, yagen aleihem literally, "shall be a shield over them." Pusey points out that the word is used before only by Isaiah (xxxvii. 33, xxxviii. 6). This image of complete protection stands first in God s word to Abraham, "I am thy shield" (Gen. xv. i). But it is laid hold of by David when he appeals to God : " Thou, Lord, art a shield around me " (Ps. iii. 3).

5 A German scholar named Ghillany, in a treatise on Die Menschenopfer der Alien Hcbraer, published in Nuremberg in 1842, does actually descend to this absurdity. He adduces this verse in Zechariah in proof that the prophet "in his dreams of victory let us have an insight into the barbarism of the victorious Hebrews," who, according to him, "did actually in ancient times eat their fallen foes as food, and drank their blood in the rage of victory, as well as partook of portions of their bodies " !

But whatever cannibal "barbarisms" may have existed among some of the Gentile nations, both in the East and in the West, Israel had never sunk quite so low even in the most "ancient" times, and the very idea of actually drinking blood is repugnant to the Jewish religion, as Dr. Wright well observes, and is condemned in both the Law and the Prophets.


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that which was used by Balaam ages before : " Behold the people (Israel) shall rise up as a great lion, and lift up himself as a young lion. He shall not lie down till he eat the prey and drink the blood of the slain " (Num. xxiii. 24). It is also found in Mic. v. 8 : "And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the nations, in the midst of many people as a lion among the beasts of the forest, as a young lion among the flocks of sheep : who, if he go through, treadeth down and teareth in pieces, and there is none to deliver."

" The idea of actually drinking blood was repugnant to the Jewish religion, and condemned in both the Law and the Prophets ; but when nations are compared to wild animals, language must be used characteristic of the habits and usages of such animals." 1 " The one thought seems to be that their enemies should cease to be, so as not to molest them any more. . . . They should disappear as completely as fuel before the fire, or food before the hungry." z

The Authorised Version renders J^g 33K WMl (yekha- bhshu abhnei qela j \ " and they shall subdue with sling stones " ; but the sling stones cannot, as Keil points out, for gram matical reasons, if the whole sentence be considered, be taken in an instrumental sense that is, that Israel would overcome their enemies with mere sling stones, as David did Goliath.

The true meaning is rather that given in the Revised Version, " they shall tread down sling stones " ; and since in the next verse Israel is likened to the precious stones set in a crown, it is probably correct to suppose, with Heng- stenberg, Keil, Hitzig, Pusey, etc., that " the sling stones " are, in comparison, to be taken " as a figure denoting the enemy, who is trampled under the feet like stones."

The idea is further carried out in figurative language when the victorious Israelites are described in the second half of the I5th verse as making a noise like men drunk with wine the drink with which they are made drunk being the blood of the enemies of the Lord. " With this

1 Wright. a Pusey.


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blood the prophet describes the victorious Jews as being filled, like the sacrificial bowls in which the priests were wont to catch the blood of the victims which were slain ; and they would be sprinkled with it like the corners of the altar, which expression includes the horns of the altar, which were wont to be sprinkled with the sacrificial blood." x

The climax is reached in the last two verses. The final overthrow and subjugation of world-power is followed by the exaltation and the glorification of the people of God. " And Jehovah their God shall save them in that day as the flock of His people : for they shall be as the stones of a crown lifted on high"

The picture in the i6th verse changes from war and bloodshed to that of the Shepherd and His flock, which plays so prominent a part in the last chapters of this pro phetic book.

Jehovah in that day shall "save them" This does not mean here merely that He will help and deliver them. This, as another writer points out, would affirm much too little after what has gone before. " When Israel has trodden down his foes, he no longer needs deliverance." The mean ing is rather that God will in that day endow them with salvation, not only in the negative sense of deliverance, but in the positive sense ; and, if we want to know what is implied in it, we have it in the figure of the next clause. He will do for them and be to them all that a shepherd does and is to his flock, which implies that He will not only seek, and deliver, and gather them, but He Him self, in the person of the Messiah, as all the prophets bear witness, will tend, and feed, and lead, and rule over them all which is implied in the Hebrew word " Shepherd." That most beautiful " nightingale song," Ps. xxiii., which is so precious to us now, will then express the experience of saved Israel. "Jehovah is my Shepherd, I shall not want" because in His Shepherd-care the fullest provision is made for every need, both spiritual and temporal, for His own flock.

1 C. H. H. Wright.


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Another aspect of this positive " Salvation " which Jehovah shall then bestow upon His people, is brought before us in the second half of this verse. In contrast to their enemies, who are likened to " sling stones," which shall then be contemptuously trodden under foot, saved Israel shall be "\T3 "oaK, abhnei-nezer " stones of a crown " (or jewels set in a consecrated crown), 1 lifted on high over His land which reminds us of Isa. Ixii., where we read that after " Zion s righteousness shall go forth as brightness, and her salvation as a lamp that burneth," so that " the nations shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory" then " Thou shalt also be a crown of beauty in the hand of Jehovah, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God" We note the expression in this verse, " over His land," which reminds us of the unique relationship in which Jehovah stands to the land, as well as to the people of Israel. " The land is Mine," 2 He said of Palestine in a very special sense, though the whole earth belongs to Him ; and this, as Pusey observes, " was laid down as the title-deed to its whole tenure." He appointed it in His sovereign right, and with a gracious purpose in view, as the inheritance of the seed of Abraham ; but the ownership remains vested in Him. It is called also " Immanuets Land" 3 because the theocratic King-Messiah is the true heir to it, not only by reason of His being the true Son of Abraham, and Son of David, to whom the land was promised, but because He is the Son of God, to Whom it, in a special sense, belongs.

For a long time Israel has been banished from their possession on account of sin, and Jerusalem and Palestine are being trodden down of the Gentiles ; but the counsel of Jehovah, both as regards the land and the people, standeth for ever, the gifts and the calling of God are without repentance ; and when the covenant relations between God

1 The primary meaning of the masculine noun i?}, nezer, is separation, or con secration. Then it is used also of the sign of consecration as, for instance, the long hair of the " Nazarite," and the crown of the king, or priest. The word is first found in Ex. xxix. 6, where it is used of the " holy crown " which the high priest was to wear over the " mitre."

2 Lev. xxv. 23. s Isa. viii. 8


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and " His own " people Israel are restored, "Jehovah shall inherit Judah, His portion in the Holy Land, and shall choose Jerusalem again *

The prophet ends this section of the prophecy with the exclamation : " For how great is His goodness, and how great is His beauty! ^ no* iaro np ^3, Ki mah tubho umah yaphyo corn shall make the young men to flourish and new wine the maids"

There is difference of opinion among commentators to whom the first half of this verse is to be applied. On strict grammatical grounds it must be applied to God, to whom the suffixes " His land," " His people," refer in the verse immediately preceding ; but it is argued by Koehler and others that since beauty is never attributed to Jehovah Himself in the Old Testament, it is better to understand the words as applying to the people. And this is the view taken by most modern scholars. With this contention, however, I cannot concur ; for, first, though it be true that the term ""S), yaphi (beauty), was not used before of God, it is used of the Messiah in such scriptures as, " Thou art fairer " (or more beautiful) " than the sons of men," and " Thine eyes shall see the King in His beauty." And it is in the face of their Messiah-King that Israel shall behold, even as we do already, the glory and beauty of the invisible God.

" Goodness " is very frequently attributed to God in the Old Testament, as, for instance, in Ps. xxxi. 19:" Oh how great is Thy goodness, which Thou hast laid up for them that fear Thee. Which Thou hast wrought for them that put their trust in Thee, before the sons of men " ; and Ps. cxlv. 7 : " They shall utter the memory of Thy great goodness"

I take the words then, with Hengstenberg and others, as referring to God, " whose great doings had been the prophet s theme throughout."

Let me, in closing the exposition of this chapter, echo this exclamation of the prophet, " How great is His goodness ! " " Goodness is that attribute of God whereby

1 Chap. ii. 12.


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He loveth to communicate to all who can or will receive it, all good yea, Himself, who is the fulness and universality of good, Creator of all good, not in one way, not in one kind of goodness only, but absolutely, without beginning, without limit, without measure, save that whereby without measurement He possesseth and embraceth all excellence, all perfection, all blessedness, all good."

" This good His goodness bestoweth on all and each, according to the capacity of each to receive it ; nor is there any limit to His giving, save His creatures capacity of receiving, which also is a good gift from Him. From Him all things sweet derive their sweetness, all things fair their beauty, all things bright their splendour, all things that live their life, all things sentient their sense, all that move their vigour, all intelligences their knowledge, all things perfect their perfection, all things in any wise good their goodness." l

" And how great h His beauty ! " This we cannot fully know until we are fully transformed into His image and can gaze upon His unveiled glory. But even now we may pray with David : " One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after, that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple " (Ps. xxvii. 4). And the more we behold it even now by faith and with the veil of flesh between, and inquire about it, the more shall we be changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Lord the Spirit.

But, to come back to the context, this goodness and beauty of Jehovah shall in that future day also be reflected by restored and converted Israel, when " they shall be as precious stones of a crown lifted up high over His land."

And of the abundance of spiritual blessing and " glory " which shall then dwell in the land, 2 material prosperity and temporal abundance will, as is not the case in the present dispensation, be the outward sign and accompaniment. " Corn" exclaims the prophet, " shall make the young men 1 Quoted by Pusey. a Ps. Ixxxv. 9.


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cheerful" (yenobhabh, literally, to " grow" or to "increase"), " and new wine the maids (or virgins )."

But the mention of young men and maidens is, as has been observed, merely intended to " heighten the picture of prosperity given by the prophet," and is in some respects a parallel to the prophetic description of the prosperity of the land and people in the earlier portion of the book, where the streets of Jerusalem are spoken of as being again " full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof " l

1 Chap. viii. 5.