The Visions and Prophecies of Zechariah/Chapter 20

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Behold, a day of Jehovah cometh, when thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle ; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished : and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city. Then shall Jehovah go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle. And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall be cleft in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley ; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. And ye shall flee by the valley of My mountains ; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azel : yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah : and Jehovah my God shall come, and all the holy ones with Thee. And it shall come to pass in that day, that there shall not be light : the bright ones shall withdraw themselves : but it shall be one day which is known unto Jehovah ; not day, and not night : but it shall come to pass, that at evening time there shall be light. And it shall come to pass in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem ; half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea : in summer and in winter shall it be. And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth : in that day shall Jehovah be one, and His name one. All the land shall be made like the Arabah, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem ; and she shall be lifted up, and shall dwell in her place, from Benjamin s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananel unto the king s winepresses. And men shall dwell therein, and there shall be no more curse ; but Jerusalem shall dwell safely. And this shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite all the peoples that have warred against Jerusalem : their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from Jehovah shall be among them ; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem ; and the wealth of all the nations round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel in great abundance. And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in those camps, as that plague. And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. And it shall be, that whoso of all the families of the earth goeth not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Jehovah of hosts, upon them there shall be no rain. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, neither shall it be upon them ; there shall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will smite the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment, of all the nations that go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles. In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, Holy unto Jehovah ; and the pots in Jehovah s house shall be like the bowls before the altar. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy unto Jehovah of hosts : and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and boil therein : and in that day there shall be no more a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah of hosts.



PERHAPS in connection with no other scripture do the contradictions and absurdities of the allegorising commentators appear so clearly as in their interpre tations of this 1 4th chapter of Zechariah. Thus, according to Hengstenberg, Keil, and others of the older German expositors, who are followed by such English scholars as Pusey and C. H. H. Wright, to whose works I have so often referred in this exposition, " Israel," in this last section of Zechariah, " denotes the people of God in contradistinction to the peoples of the world ; the inhabitants of Jerusalem with the house of David, and Judah with its princes, as the ! i representatives of Israel, are typical epithets applied to the representatives and members of the new-covenant people, namely, the Christian Church ; and Jerusalem and Judah, as the inheritance of Israel, are types of the seats and territories of Christendom." l

And yet, when it is a question of judgment, as, for instance, the statement that " two thirds shall be cut off and die in the land," then, of course, they are agreed that those "cut off" are literal Jews, and " the land " Palestine.

Or again, when it is a prediction which has already been fulfilled, such as the piercing of the Messiah in chap. xii. 10, or the smiting of the shepherd and the scattering of the flock in chap. xiii. 7, then it is to be understood literally ; but when the prophet speaks of things of which no fulfil ment can yet be found in history, then the words, however definite and particular, must be spiritualised, and " Jeru salem " is no longer the capital of the Promised Land, but

1 Keil.



" the Church," and " Israel " no longer the literal descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but " the people of God," by which, as is seen in the quotation given above, is meant " Christendom."

But that is not really a spiritual way of interpreting Scripture, which robs it of its simple and obvious sense.

Kliefoth, Keil, etc., speak of the views expressed by Koehler and Hoffmann in their works on Zechariah, that this chapter refers to a yet future siege of Jerusalem after the return of the Jews in a condition of unbelief, and of their deliverance by the appearing of Christ, as " Jewish Chiliasm," but Jewish Chiliasm was not all wrong. There is a Messianic Kingdom a literal reign of peace and righteousness on the earth, with Israel as its centre ; but where Jewish Chiliasm erred was that it overlooked, or explained away, the sufferings of the Messiah which precede the glory. The question is if these allegorising commentators are not as much in the dark in relation to the Second Coming and the glory that should follow, as the Jews were in relation to His First Advent and His atoning suffering and death.

In the words of a true master in Israel : " The literal fulfilment of many prophecies has already taken place. It belongs to history. But the Christian has no more diffi culty in believing the future fulfilment of prophecy than in crediting the record of history. He believes because God has spoken, because it is written. To believe that the Jews are scattered among all nations, that Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans, that of the Temple not one stone was left upon another, requires no spiritual faith it requires only common information. But to believe that Israel will be restored, Jerusalem rebuilt, and that all nations shall come up against the beloved city and besiege it, and that the Lord Jehovah shall appear and stand on the Mount of Olives, requires faith, for it is as yet only written in the Bible. But what difference does it make to the child of God whether the prophecy is fulfilled or not ? Can he for a moment doubt it ?


" And when we remember how literally prophecy has been fulfilled, we cannot but expect as literal a fulfilment in the future.

" How natural it would have been for those who lived before the First Advent, to think that only the spiritual features of the Messiah s Coming and Kingdom could be the object of inspired prophecy, and that the outward and minute circumstances predicted were either allegorical and figurative, or only the drapery and embellishment of important and essential truths. And yet the fulfilment was minute even in subordinate detail." 1 For our own part, it is unnecessary to say, after what we have already written on chaps, xii. and xiii., that we have here a great and solemn prophecy which will yet be literally fulfilled in the future. And when it is objected by some of the modern writers that the literal fulfilment is " impossible," because it would involve not only national upheavals, but physical convulsions of nature, our answer is that this is just what the prophet declares as most certainly to take place ; and, as if to anticipate the objection on the ground of its being naturally " impossible," or, according to human judgment, " improbable," he reminds us at the very outset of this section of his prophecy that it is the ivord of Jehovah, " Who stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him" 2 with whom nothing is impossible.


The first verses of this fourteenth chapter, which are an expansion and amplification of the last three verses of the preceding chapter, lead us back, I believe, to the point of time with which the twelfth chapter opens, and tells us

1 Adolph Saphir. a Chap. xii. I.

3 The exposition of the first seven verses of this chapter now slightly altered was originally written out and read as "a paper" at a meeting of the " Prophecy Investigation Society," which also printed it for private circulation among the members. This will account for its being slightly different in form and style from my exposition generally.


of the judgment which is first allowed of God to be inflicted on Jerusalem in the final great siege by means of the marshalled Gentile armies, whose subsequent sudden destruction these chapters prophetically set forth with all the vividness of an historic event depicted by an eye-witness.

Nor need we be surprised to find in this chapter a partial reiteration of events which had already been announced by the prophet in chaps, xii. and xiii. ; for, to quote a few sentences from a writer with whose interpreta tion of the last chapters of Zechariah I am utterly at variance, " the prophets frequently speak generally of the final results of an event, and afterwards proceed to give further details. Any attempt to regard all the statements of the prophets as necessarily succeeding one another in chronological order, would reduce many of these prophecies to a mass of confusion." This observation is true.

But it is necessary briefly to summarise the probable events which lead up to the supreme crisis into the midst of which we are introduced in this last chapter of Zechariah.

First of all we have to suppose a restoration of the Jews in a condition of unbelief not a complete restoration of the whole nation, which will not take place till after their conversion, but of a representative and influential remnant.

It seems from Scripture that in relation to Israel and the land there will be a restoration, before the Second Advent of our Lord, of very much the same state of things as existed at the time of His First Advent, when the threads of God s dealing with them nationally were finally dropped, not to be taken up again " until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled."

There was at that time a number of Jews in Palestine representative of the nation ; but compared with the number of their brethren, who were already a diaspora among the nations, they were a mere minority, and not in a politically independent condition.

So it will be again. There will be at first, as compared with the whole nation, only a representative minority in Palestine, and a Jewish state will be probably formed,


either under the suzerainty of one of the Great Powers, or under international protection.

The nucleus of this politically independent Jewish state is already to be seen in the 120,000 Jews who have wandered back from all regions of the earth to the land of their fathers.

Already Jerusalem before the war was almost a Jewish city, while the thirty and more Jewish colonies which dotted the land were described by a prominent English Jew as " so many milestones marking the advance which Israel is making towards national rehabilitation." And in no other country in the world do the Jews, to the same extent, represent the nation. In Jerusalem and in the other Jewish settlements in Palestine I have personally, in the course of my seven different visits to the land since 1890, met Jews from all parts from the east and the west ; from India and the burning plains of Southern Arabia, and from the extreme north of Siberia and the Caucasus ; and have heard them speaking in nearly all languages under heaven.

Around this nucleus a large number more from all parts of the world will in all probability soon be gathered ; but we shall only be able to speak of a restoration of the Jews as an accomplished fact when Palestine becomes by international consent (to quote from the Zionist programme) the " openly recognised and legally assured home " of the Jews, i.e., when the Jews are once more acknowledged as a nation with a land of their own to which they might go. 1

But what follows ? After a brief interval of prosperity there comes a night of anguish. What occasions the darkest hour in the night of Israel s sad history since their rejection of Christ is the gathering of the nations and the siege predicted in this chapter.

1 How rapidly things have developed on the lines here forecast since the above was originally written four or five years ago.

The " Declaration " of the British Government recognises the Jews as once more a nation, and promises to facilitate their re-establishment in Palestine ; while Jerusalem has been captured by the victorious British Army!


If we interpret Scripture rightly, they shall have entered into covenant and sworn allegiance to a false Messiah, thus culminating their national apostasy, and fulfilling the word of Christ, " If another shall come in his own name, him ye shall receive."

But the covenant of iniquity based upon apostasy will not stand. Infuriated, probably by the faithfulness to the covenant God of their fathers on the part of the godly remnant who shall then be found in the land, the Anti christ forms the purpose of utterly and finally exterminat ing this people, who can never cease, even in apostasy and unbelief, to be witnesses for the living God and His truth. The armies of the confederated nations, the very flower of their strength, are marshalled together in Palestine, their watchword being, " Come, let us cut them off from being a nation, that the name of Israel may be no more in remembrance."

The dreadfulness of these hosts I have already dwelt on in my notes on the 1 2th chapter. They march in triumph through the land, easily treading down all opposi tion. And now the enemy in overwhelming force and irresistible fury attacks Jerusalem, which is soon at his mercy. The city is taken, and the " spoil " or booty leisurely " divided in the midst " of her, without any fear on the part of the enemy of interruption or molestation. There ensue scenes of cruel brutality, and lust, and horrors, which usually accompany the sack of cities by enraged enemies, only intensified in this particular case by the accumulated hatred of these confederated hosts against this land and people. Half of the remaining population in the city is dragged forth into captivity, and there is but a small and wretched remnant left, which probably, in the intention of the enemy, are also devoted to destruction.

Well might another prophet exclaim, " Alas! for that day is great, so that none is like it ; it is even the time of Jacob s trouble"

But though it is a day which begins with calamity and judgment to Israel, it is not going to end in triumph to


[srael s enemies. It is pre-eminently the rnifp Di* (yom la- Yehovah] "a day for Jehovah" the day set apart and ippointed by Him, not only for the display of His majesty md the vindication of the righteousness of His character ind ways, but it is the day of the manifestation of His Divine might and glory in the destruction of Israel s enemies, and the salvation of His own people. " Then shall Jehovah go forth, and fight against these nations, as when

  • He fought in the day of battle " ; or, " as in a day of His

nghting in a day of conflict" as the words in the original may more properly be rendered.

There are many instances recorded in the Old Testa ment when Jehovah manifestly fought for His people. In Josh. x. 14, for instance, we find words which seem echoed in this prophecy. " And there was no day like that before it or after it" we read there, "for Jehovah fought for Israel" But I think we must agree with the Jewish Targum and those commentators who regard the reference as being particularly to the conflict between Jehovah and (the Egyptians at the Red Sea ; for, " of all the wars in which human insolence could claim no part of the glory," ito quote the words of a well-known writer, " none was more wondrous than that in which Pharaoh and his army were isunk in the deep." It was after that great act of judg ment on Israel s enemies on the part of God that Israel sang, "Jehovah is a man of war ; Jehovah is His Name" (Ex. xv. 3). The reference is more likely to be to this outstanding event in the past history of the Jewish people, since we know that the prophetic Scriptures generally regard the deliverance from Egypt as typical, not only of the greater spiritual redemption accomplished by Christ, but of the future greater national deliverance of Israel ; and the overthrow of Pharaoh and his hosts as a fore- shadowment of the final overthrow of the enemies of God and of His people at the time of the end.

And it will be no other than Jehovah-Jesus, the El Gibbor, " God the Mighty Man," who will thus suddenly appear as Israel s deliverer in the hour of their sorest need :


" And His feet" we read, "shall stand in that day tipon the^ { Mount of Olives, ^vh^ch is before Jerusalem on the east"

The mountain which is so clearly defined and located, ,.,


in this prophecy is already associated with many events ^ and crises in Israel s history. We especially remember: j

that before the final overthrow of the Davidic throne and ...

the commencement of the Times of the Gentiles, it was AI: from this mountain, which is before Jerusalem on the east, , that the prophet Ezekiel saw the glory of Jehovah finally , ^ taking its departure.

It was from this mountain also that He, who was not i only the symbol, but the living personal revelation of the ,/ glory of Jehovah, finally took His departure from the land, ,. after He had already been rejected by the nation. He led n { His handful of disciples out as far as Bethany (on the Mount of Olives), and He lifted up His hands and blessed , them. "And it came to pass while He blessed them, He , , was parted from them, and carried up into heaven " ; l since n , when a still darker era in the long Ichabod period of Israel s history commenced.

But from the same direction whence he saw the n departure of the Glory of Jehovah, the prophet Ezekiel saw also its return. " Afterwards" we read, " He brought \ me to the gate that looketh toward the east, and behold, the ( Glory of the God of Israel came from the way of the east, and His voice was like the noise of many waters, and the earth shined with His glory." And what is this but a , ,

6 J lj es j

prophecy in symbolic language of the same event which


the heavenly messengers announced to the men of Galilee,

. "Ofl

that " this same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go up into ,, heaven" And not only " in like manner " that is, bodily, .,

visibly but He shall come to the same place whence He ,

top finally departed.

We love to think that this same mountain on which j He once shed tears of sorrow over Jerusalem, the slope of which witnessed His agony and bloody sweat, shall be the

I T 1 ""i

1 Luke xxiv. 50, 5 1 -


irst also to witness His manifestation in glory ; and that His blessed feet, which in the days of His flesh walked vearily over this mountain on the way to Bethany shall, in that day," be planted here in triumph and majesty.

In response to the actual presence of the Divine Tiajesty of the Son of God on this earth, the Mount of Dlives, on which He shall descend, shall be cleft in two from east to west ; half of it moving to the north and half to the south, forming " a very great valley."

Into this valley the remnant still remaining in Jeru-

lem will flee, 1 " like as ye fled from before the earthquake the days of UzziaJi king of Judah? of which earthquake

ere is no other mention in Scripture except in Amos i. I.

ut it must have been very terrible indeed, since the

emory of it survived for more than two centuries, and could still be referred to by the prophet as an occurrence

resh in the minds of the people. " Ye shall flee," as the

Hebrew Text reads, " into MY mountains " the lofty precipitous sides of this newly-formed chasm, or valley, being called His mountains, because they were formed by an act of His power. This may, in a sense, be regarded as a parallel to the passage through the Red Sea after it was divided by the power of God, and " the waters were a wall unto them on their right hand and on their left " (Ex. xiv. 22).

The occasion of this flight will not only be fear of the destroying enemy, and the terror inspired by the earth quake, but they shall flee most of all " for fear of Jehovah, and the glory of His majesty," when thus suddenly and

nexpectedly " the Lord my God shall come" in the person

f their long-rejected Messiah, " and all the holy ones with TJiee " by which are meant, not only the myriads of His holy angels, but His saints, who are also called CW" 1!?,

edosJdm (" holy ones "), and who shall have been caught up to meet the Lord in the air.

1 The Massoretic reading, onpfi, venastem, " Ye shall flee," is doubtless the correct one, and not 09511, venistant, " shall be stopped up," which is found in several MSS, and adopted in the Targum, the Septuagint, and other versions.



It is at this point, I believe, that the solemn events announced from the 4th verse of chap. xii. to the 2nd verse of chap. xiii. will transpire.

The first proof of the Lord s interposition on behalf of His people and land, will be His act of judgment on the besieging hosts. The pride of the glory of the marshalled armies will probably be in the mounted squadrons, which will no doubt include the finest horsemen of Europe and Arabia, and against them the Captain of the Lord s host shall first direct His hand : " In that day I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness." a

Then the extended ranks of infantry shall be visited with the plague described in chap. xiv. 12, and a great tumult from the Lord shall ensue among the confederated hosts, as happened in the past, when Jehovah fought for Israel ; so that each man s hand shall be against his neighbour.

And not only by the direct act of God shall the enemy be destroyed, but, as already shown in my Notes oh chap, xii., with the shout of a king in their midst, and conscious that Almighty power is now on their side, the remnant of Judah, too, will do valiantly, and tread down their enemies under their feet : " He that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David, and the house of David shall be as God, as the Angel of the Lord before them"

But suddenly the noise of war and the shout of triumph is turned into wailing and lamentation as the spirit of grace and supplication takes possession of the heart of the remnant of Israel, and the eyes of the blind are opened, and they behold in the King of Glory, at whose presence the earth trembles and the mountains are cleft, and who has so marvellously delivered them in the hour of their greatest need, none other than the one whom they have pierced, and whom for so many centuries they have rejected and despised. This look of recognition, as we have seen in chap, xii., will break Israel s heart, and " they shall mourn for Him as one mourneth for his only son, and

1 Chap. xii. 4.


shall be in bitterness for Him as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

And not only will the sorrow and mourning spread from Jerusalem to the whole land, but also to the whole earth ; for, though Jerusalem and Palestine will be the centre of these awful and solemn events, the whole world will be more or less involved in them.

When the final judgments of God are abroad in the earth, and when the anti-Christian rage and persecution will be everywhere directed not only against the confessors of Christ, but against those in Israel who are faithful to the God of their fathers, there will be weeping, and mourning, and heart-searching among the scattered tribes of Israel in all the lands of their dispersion.

And when at last, in the hour of their deepest need, their long-rejected, crucified Messiah appears for their deliverance when His blessed feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives they will almost simultaneously be made aware of it ; for, though they may not all at once behold Him with their eyes, the whole world, and nature generally, will be conscious of, and respond to, the visible appearing and presence of the Son of God.

And the spared remnant of the dispersed of Israel will, like their brethren in Jerusalem, hail Him though at first it may be from a distance whom they crucified, and turn to Him in true repentance.

But to proceed to the 6th verse.

In keeping with the awful solemn events shall be the outward natural phenomena and physical characteristics of that fateful day. It shall be a day of preternatural gloom. " There shall be no light, the " precious ones " (i.e., the stars, " the splendid heavenly bodies ") will contract themselves (or " wane "), which I believe to be the true meaning of the two last, somewhat difficult Hebrew words of the 6th verse, which have been variously rendered and interpreted by commentators. 1 This is in harmony with the plain declara-

1 The words in the Hebrew text are |it<^ n^jj;, yeqaroth ytqipatun : 15;, yaqor (" precious," " rare," " splendid ") is applied to the moon in Job xxxi. 26,


tions of other prophetic announcements concerning that day ; as, for instance, " The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining" x or, in the words of Isaiah : " The moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed when the Lord of Hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jerusalem, and before His ancients gloriously " ; 2 and again : " The stars of heaven, and the constellations thereof, shall not give their light : the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine" 3

" But in those days after that tribulation the sun shall be darkened and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall be falling from heaven^ and the powers that are in the heaven sliall be shaken" 4

And it shall be yom echad, " one day," we read in our prophecy " one " primarily in the sense of its being unique

which is described as " sailing resplendent" and it seems most probable that the plural yeqaroth is used here of "the resplendent heavenly bodies," i.e., the stars. The verb ttsfi, qapha (" thicken," " condense," " congeal ")is found in Ex. xv. 8, and describes the depths as becoming congealed, or consolidated, in the midst of the seas. But the difference of the gender in the combination of the feminine substantive yeqaroth with the masculine verb yeqipa ttn, the irregularity of con struction, and the rarity with which these words are met with in the Hebrew Bible, have occasioned many conjectural readings and explanations. The " keri" (marginal alternative reading in the Massoretic text) has JiN$p] n np;, yeqaroth rfqipa un the meaning of which is also not quite clear, but may be rendered "intense brightness, and waning." But it is pretty generally agreed by all scholars that the kethib (the Hebrew text) and not the keri, or margin, has the true reading. The "Jewish" explanation is embodied in Kimchi s comment, which is as follows : " In that day in which he says that this miracle shall occur, there shall also be this circumstance, that the light shall neither be yeqaroth ( " precious ") nor yeqipa un (" thickness "). The meaning is figurative, that the light of that day shall not be bright, which is the meaning of "precious lights," or "the moon walking in brightness" (Job xxxi. 26), nor light of thickness, i.e., dense and thick, which is like darkness. The sense is, the day shall not be entirely light nor entirely dark, i.e., it shall not pass entirely in tranquillity nor in affliction, for they two shall be in it ; and so he says afterwards, not day nor night. Jonathan has interpreted, "There shall be nothing that day but privation and coagulation."

The LXX reads KO.\ ^ux n * a Tayos, "and cold and frost."

The translation which I have given in the text seems to me the most satis factory.

1 Joel iii. 15. 3 Isa. xxiv. 23.

3 Isa. xiii. 10. 4 Mark xiii. 24, 25.


and different to all other days in the world s history, " so that none is like it," as Jeremiah expresses it, " and it shall be known to Jehovah" which phrase certainly reminds us of the words of our Lord : " Of that day and hour knoweth no man, not even the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father" 1 " Not day nor night" "like mysterious light when day and night are contending together." It shall not be day, for the natural sources of light will be withdrawn ; but it cannot be like the darkness of night, for there will be the transplendent light of the glory of the Lord, and the myriads of His holy angels, and of the glorified saints reflected on the earth.

" And it shall come to pass tJiat at evening time " when in the order of nature everything should sink into darkness " there shall be light " ; out of the contest between light and darkness on that eventful day light shall emerge victorious " the light of salvation breaking its way through the night of judgment," as Von Orelli observes ; and out of the apparent chaos beauty and order.

As far as its primary literal significance is concerned, the statement that " at evening time there shall be light," may perhaps be explained by the words of Isaiah : " The light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold, as the light of seven days, in the day that Jehovah bindeth up the hurt of His people and healeth the stroke of their wound." 2

But this literal physical phenomenon will answer also to the spiritual condition of the spared remnant. " At evening time " of that great and most solemn day the great Atonement Day for the nation when the long dark period of their national history shall end in bitter sorrow and universal mourning, not on account of their suffering, but for their sin ; when the glorious Sun of Righteousness shall at last rise upon them with healing in His wings, " there shall be light" the light and the joy of forgiveness and eternal reconciliation ; the light of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ which shall shine upon them.

1 Mark xiii. 32. * Isa. xxx. 26.


" We can in part conceive the feelings with which the spared remnant of Israel will behold the light of that evening the evening which is to introduce the new order of God. They have been described in the I 2th chapter as subdued, contrite, and mourning. And no marvel : carried as they will have been by a power that they knew not, through such a day of terror, strengthened for the Lord in it, and left at last in a scene of tranquil blessing received from the hands of One whom they had despised, but to whom they have now learned to say My Lord, and my God ; it would be strange indeed if they should not, number ing such mercies, be bowed in contrition of spirit. And when they shall at last be comforted, and the Spirit be poured out upon them from on high, when the knowledge of their own past history and of the Church s history will all be opened to them in the light of God, then, like so many Pauls, monuments of Sovereign grace, they shall go forth to the dark places of the earth, rich in experience and in the knowledge of God, and from them shall flow rivers of living waters." l

The blessed issues of the great and solemn events of " that day," as set forth in the first seven verses, are described in the verses that follow :

I. By means of the great earthquake spoken of in vers. 4 and 5, and other convulsions of nature which are immediately to precede and to accompany the visible appearing of the Messiah, when His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives great physical changes will take place in Palestine and the whole land, but particularly the position of Jerusalem will be greatly altered and trans formed. 2 " And it shall come to pass in that day that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea, and half of them toward the western sea ; in summer and in winter shall it be."

The " eastern " (haqqadmoni, which has sometimes also the meaning of " ancient ") is the Dead Sea, which shall then be healed by the streams of fresh, or " living," 1 B. W. Newton. 2 Isa. xxx. 25, 26.


water which will flow through it ; and the western Jia-acJtaron (literally, the " last " " or hindermost ") is the Mediterranean. And these waters will never run dry, as the streams in the south x are apt to do now : " summer drought shall not lessen them, nor winter cold bind them," but they shall ceaselessly flow " in summer and in winter." To these perennial waters flowing from the " river of God," 2 primarily so called, because it is formed, as it were, by a direct act of His power, there are many references in the prophetic Scriptures.

Thus Joel, speaking of the time when Jehovah shall manifestly dwell in Zion, and " Jerusalem shall be holy," into which nothing that defileth shall enter, says, " And a fountain shall come forth from the house of Jehovah and shall water the valley of Shittim " ; 3 and in Ps. xlvi., which is a great prophecy of the same solemn events which are described in these last chapters of Zechariah, the inspired Psalmist beholds in vision " a river the streams whereof make glad the city of God" 4 namely, restored and renewed Jerusalem, the vestibule, as it were, during the millennial period of the Jerusalem which is above which shall emerge from the catastrophe described in the first verses, when the earth shall " be removed," or " changed," and the " mountains shaken into the heart of the seas, and the waters roar and be troubled."

The allusion in all these scriptures, which speak of the river of living waters dividing themselves into streams flowing in different directions, is probably to Gen. ii. 10. There we read : " A nd a river went out of Eden to water the garden ; and from thence it was parted and became four

1 Ps. cxxvi. 4. 2 Ps. Ixv. 9.

3 Joeliii. 1 8. Some modern writers understand this as referring to a valley somewhere in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem ("a valley in connection with the Kidron Valley" Von Orelli), but I am inclined to think that the reference is to the Shittim of Num. xxv. I, the last encampment of the Israelites on the steppes of Moab before their entrance into Canaan the barren valley of the Jordan above the Dead Sea. Shittim means acacias, which grow only in arid regions, and the words of the prophecy imply that even the arid desert shall be fertilised by the waters issuing from this fountain.

4 Ps. xlvi. 4.


heads" or streams. Now, since for beauty and fertility, and as the earthly centre of God s dwelling and worship, Jerusalem and Palestine will, in the millennial period, answer, as it were, to the garden of Eden there is again the River, the streams whereof make glad the city of God, and flowing thence fertilise other parts of the earth.

Now, to repeat, we believe, in a literal fulfilment of this prophecy in Zechariah, and when we are told by a scholarly English writer that a literal fulfilment is out of the question because " the physical nature of the whole land would have to be changed to permit literal rivers to flow forth from Jerusalem," x our answer is, " Certainly ; this is just what the prophecy says will be the case" The physical nature of the whole land will be changed through the convulsions of nature, which are described here and in other scriptures, and which will be brought about by the Almighty power of God, with whom nothing is impossible. But while this literal fulfilment cannot be emphasised too strongly in order to a true understanding of these prophecies, it is important also to note that the literal, material river will be at the same time the visible symbol of the mighty river of God s grace and salvation, which, during the millennial period dividing itself into full streams of Messianic blessings, will start from Jerusalem as its source and centre, and carry life and salvation to all nations.

" We read in many parts of the Scripture that the land of Israel will in that day teem with evidences of the miraculous power of God in dispensing blessings. On the sides of Zion, for example, the wolf and the lamb, the leopard and the kid, shall be seen together, and a little child shall lead them. Nothing shall hurt or destroy throughout God s holy mountain. These will be sights

1 Dr. C. H. H. Wright, Zechariah and his Prophecies. His long chapter of nearly one hundred pages on "The Eschatology of Zechariah, or the Last Things as seen in the Light of the Old Dispensation," is an illustration and specimen of the phantomising method of interpreting Old Testament prophecy, to which I referred in the introductory remarks to this chapter. But though very dogmatic in his style, Dr. Wright succeeds, not in explaining, but in explaining away, these great prophecies.


that no one will deny to be in themselves blessed. But they are symbols also, living symbols, speaking of higher blessings ; for they indicate the peace and harmony and love that shall pervade all hearts and all peoples whom the power of Zion shall effectually reach. And if God has appointed that the spiritual influence of which I have spoken above should go forth from His forgiven and privileged nation in Jerusalem, we might expect to find some outward symbol of this, its relation. And, accord ingly, a symbol is given in the perennial flow of those streams which, going forth from the sanctuary in Jerusalem, shall heal waters, which, like the Dead Sea, have been accursed, and spread life and refreshment in the midst of desolation." l

As the symbol of the greater spiritual reality, let us pause and contemplate for a moment this " river of God." Its source is God Himself. " There" exclaims the prophet Isaiah that is, in renewed and glorified Jerusalem " The glorious Jehovah " (or, "Jehovah in His Majesty ") " will be unto us a place of broad rivers and streams" 2 Or, in the language of the beloved John in the Apocalypse, " He showed me a river of zvater of life bright as crystal proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb 3 Yes, " and of the Lamb" for though God is the Source, the Eternal Fountain of this pure Water of Life, the Lamb slain is the channel through which it flows.

Another glorious fact emphasised in the Scriptures in connection with these living waters is their fulness indica tive of the abundance of God s grace and salvation, which shall go forth during the period of Messiah s reign, from Jerusalem as its centre, into all parts of the world. The " River of God," we read, " is full of water" 4 and Ezekiel beholds it in vision " as a river which he could not pass through, for the waters were risen, waters to swim in, a river that could not be passed through 6

And as they are abundant in quantity, so also is the

1 B. W. Newton. 2 Isa. xxxiii. 21. s Rev. xxii. I.

4 Ps. Ixv. 9. 6 Ezek. xlvii. 1-12.


healing, life-giving efficacy of the living waters wonderful. The very desert shall be transformed by them, and the stagnant waters of the Dead Sea healed. " Everything" says Ezekiel, " and every living creature which swarmeth in every place whither the river shall come, shall live ; . . . and by the river upon the bank thereof on this side, and on that side, shall grow every tree for meat, whose leaf shall not ivither, neither shall the fruit thereof fail ; it shall bring forth new fruit every month, because the waters thereof issue out of the sanctuary ; and the fruit shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for healing" Yes, "for the healing of the nations" x as the beloved Apostle adds in the last chapter of the Apocalypse, where Ezekiel s imagery of the earthly but glorified Jerusalem during the millennial period is trans ferred also to the heavenly Jerusalem.

A foretaste of the great spiritual realities, which in the age to come will be symbolised also by literal and visible objects, we have indeed in the present dispensation, for those are not wholly wrong who point to the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as embodying the very qualities ascribed to these " living waters," and many there be who can testify from experience to its life-giving, healing, sanctifying power, and to the great and glorious transformations which it has effected in the world since Christ s first Advent. But, whereas its course now and all through the present period is an intermittent, chequered one, and its quickening power has been experienced only by individuals, by-and-by, when Israel as a nation is first quickened and transformed by it, and the national Saul of Tarsus is turned into a nation of Pauls, with the same burning love and self- consuming zeal for their Redeemer-King, which characterised the great Apostle to the Gentiles the blessings of Messiah s Gospel, and the beneficent effects of His reign will flow from Jerusalem as mighty rivers and streams into all parts of the world, so that it will not be long before " the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah as the waters cover the sea." 2

1 Rev. xxii. 2. - Hah. ii.1.


II. Another glorious issue of the solemn events described in the first seven verses of our chapter will be the establishment of Messiah s righteous and beneficent rule on earth, and the fulfilment of the prayer which has ascended from the yearning hearts of the faithful in all ages : " Thy Kingdom come." This is announced in the 9th verse : " And Jehovah shall be King over all the earth : in that day shall JeJiovah be one and His Name one." In this great and comprehensive prophecy we note especially two or three points : (a) "Jehovah shall be King " but according to the united and harmonious testimony of the prophetic Scriptures it will be Jehovah in the person of the Messiah, Jehovah-Jesus, Immanuel He whose feet shall in that day stand on the Mount of Olives which is before Jerusalem on the east who will thus set up His Kingdom and rule on this earth. And He will be King, not only in virtue of His being the Son of God, in whose coming and reign the long-promised rule of God Himself on this earth shall at last be realised in the fullest possible measure, but by reason of His being the Son of Man the second Adam the appointed Lord of creation, in whom the original purpose of God in the creation of man and of the world shall be fulfilled, and as the Son of David, in whom all the promises of the Messianic Kingdom are centred, before whose birth it was announced by the angel from heaven, " He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest ; and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David. And He shall reign over the House of Jacob for ever ; and of His Kingdom there shall be no end."

All that is implied in the blessed announcement that Jehovah Himself shall at last be King over this earth, and in the person of His own Son, who is at the same time the man after His own heart, visibly rule among the nations, we cannot yet fully conceive. " Our ideas of kingship," to quote the words of a master in Israel, " are limited, and do not come up to the Divine conception." * Man has had experience of rule, or kingship on earth, but " the true or

1 Adolph Saphir.


real king among men has not appeared yet." The nearest approach to His rule was David s ; but what are the last words of the son of Jesse, the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Israel and the sweet Psalmist of Israel ? His last testimony was that the Spirit of the Lord had spoken by him, and that he had heard the Rock of Israel, and that the sum and substance of these Divine revelations was the coming of the perfect King : " One tJiat ruleth over men righteously, that ruletJi in the fear of God, He shall be as the light of the morning when the sun riseth, a morning without clouds, when the tender grass springeth out of the earth through clear shining after rain" 1

For this ideal King, for this glorious " Sun " to usher in " the morning without clouds " on this groaning earth, the nations have long waited ; but He shall come, and the world will experience the blessedness of His righteous and beneficent sway.

() The extent of His rule " over all the earth" As explained more than once in the course of these notes, p.K, eretz, translated " earth," means both " land " and " earth " ; and the primary reference in this prophecy is doubtless to " the holy land," 2 as the enlarged and purified Land of Promise shall then be called. The word is used in this more restricted sense in the very next verse of our chapter, where it is rightly translated " land." But while the holy hill of Zion shall be the seat of His throne, and Palestine, with restored and converted Israel, the centre of His blessed rule, " He shall have dominion also from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth " ; yea, all kings shall fall down before Him, all nations shall serve Him, 3 for all the kingdoms of this world shall then become the Kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign for ever and ever.

That the prophet s vision of the theocratic kingdom ranged beyond even the enlarged boundaries of the " land," and extended to the whole " earth" is seen also from the 1 6th verse, where he speaks of all the nations coming up

1 2 Sam. xxxiii. 1-4 (R.V.). - Chap. ii. 12. 3 Ps. Ixxii. 8-1 1.


to Jerusalem " to worship the King-Jehovah of Hosts," whose sole rule they will then acknowledge. Yes, Messiah s kingship is to extend over the earth. God s will, accord ing to the petition which He teaches His disciples, is to be done on earth as it is in heaven.

" It is on earth, where God has been denied and forgotten ; where His honour has been disregarded and His commandments have been transgressed ; where nations and kingdoms, instead of seeking His glory and showing forth His praise have not bowed to His authority and reverenced His law ; it is on earth that the Lord shall reign ; injustice, cruelty and war shall be banished ; and instead of idolatry, selfishness and sin, the fear and love and beauty of God will be manifest. Christ and the glorified saints shall reign over Israel and the nations. The appearings of the risen Lord to His disciples during the forty days seem to be a prophetic parallel of the relation of the transfigured Church to the earth. Jerusalem is the centre of the world ; the land of Israel is restored to wonderful fertility and blessedness. We may not be able clearly to conceive the fulfilment of the predictions con cerning this earth during the Christocracy, but our danger does not lie in believing too implicitly or too literally what is written." 1 And this kingship over the " earth " is due to our Lord Jesus as an answer to His humiliation. " It is not sufficient that He is glorified in heaven it is a perfect delight to His own that He is to be glorified and adored in the very scene of His rejection and shame. God will see to this. Here, where His royal claims were scorned, every knee shall bow to Him ; here, where He was reviled and insulted, every tongue shall own that " He is Lord to the glory of God the Father. His Name shall be excellent in all the earth

HI. "/ that day" the prophet adds, " shall Jehovah be One " that is, recognised and acknowledged as such, and be known and called the " God of the whole earth," 2 the only

1 Adolph Saphir, lectures on the Lord s Prayer. - Is*, liv. 5.


and blessed Potentate ; l for the false gods of the nations, to whom even Israel was tempted in former days of apostasy to render worship, shall be " cut off," and all idols utterly abolished.

And His Name" which embodies His revealed character as the God of Redemption, the faithful covenant- keeping God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, now fully made known to us by our Lord Jesus Christ, who is Himself the fullest revelation of the Name, shall be " One " to the exclusion of all others as the only object of reverence, praise, and worship, " so t/tat he who blesseth himself in the earth sJiall bless Jiimself in the God of truth ; and he that sweareth in the earth shall swear by the God of truth ; 2 and the nations, even from " the ends of the earth," confess that the gods which they had formerly worshipped were " no gods," and the idolatries which they had inherited from their fathers were " nought but lies, even vanity, and things wherein there is no profit." 3

IV. As "the city of the great King" (Ps. xlviii. 2), whose dominion extends to earth s utmost bounds, and as the centre whence God s light and truth shall go forth among all the nations, Jerusalem is also to be physically exalted above the hills by which she has hitherto been surrounded and overshadowed. This is the announcement in the roth verse: " All the land shall be turned" (or " changed" so that it shall become " as" or) " like the Arabak" Then the district to be thus transformed is more closely

1 I Tim. vi. 15. 2 Isa. Ixv. 16.

3 Jer. xvi. 19-20 (R.V.). Von Orelli thinks that by the unity of the name Jehovah "is to be understood primarily unity of designation, which is important as the plurality of designations of the one God has led in various ways to plural conceptions of the Godhead," and refers to Hos. ii. 16. Lange, by simply referring his readers for an explanation of this clause to Hitzig, seemingly adopts it as his own namely, "that in consequence of the display of Jehovah s glory, the heathen who had hitherto worshipped God under other names, such as Moloch, Baal, etc., should from henceforth honour and adore Him as Jehovah, under which Name He had made Himself known to the people of Israel." But, as another has observed, " The idea that the heathen under the various names of their gods really n.eant to worship Jehovah, appears to be an attempt to engraft modern ideas (whicix I venture to add, have no basis in fact) upon those of the Old Testament prophets."


defined, namely, "from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem" Geba, probably the same as Gibeah of Saul, was in the tribe of Benjamin, 1 and is mentioned in 2 Kings xxiii. 8 as one of the northern border towns of the land of Judah. Rimmon was on the southern border of Palestine, and is identified by some scholars with the modern Umm-er- Rummamin, north of Beersheba. The words " south of Jerusalem " are added, to distinguish this latter place from the town Rimmon in Galilee 2 (identified with Rummaneh), and from the rock Rimmon in the hill range of Benjamin. 3

All this district from Geba to Rimmon is to be changed and become " as the Arabah " (nznyii). This word, trans lated " plain " in the A.V., is the proper name of the Jordan valley " that remarkable depression which runs from the slopes of Hermon to the Red Sea, known as the deepest depression in the surface of the globe " ; the sea of Galilee situated within it being 652 feet below the level of the Mediterranean, while the Dead Sea, which is also included in its course, is 1316 feet below that level, or the level of the Red Sea. Parts of this valley were distinguished for their luxurious vegetation, but the reference here is not to its fertility nor to its deep depression, which probably will itself undergo modification in that day of great physical as well as moral upheavals, but to the fact of its being a plain.

The whole hill-country specified shall be levelled or become a plain, " and she " (i.e., Jerusalem) " shall be lifted up" (or "exalted"} "and shall dwell" (or "become settled"} "in lier place" literally, "upon that which was under her," upon her own tel, or mound, as Jeremiah expresses it. 4

In this brief statement about the towering position of Jerusalem in that day the prophet Zechariah gives us also, as is his wont, a terse summary of the longer predictions of the former prophets ; for already Isaiah and Micah, as well as Ezekiel, announced that " it shall come to pass in the latter days that the mountain of Jehovah s house shall be

Josh, xviii. 24. 2 Josh. xix. 13.

a Judg. xx. 45-47.

4 *& ^V, Jer. xxx. 18. Translated in the A.V., " Upon its own heap."


established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills" J

And here again, as in the case of the " living waters " in the 8th verse, the literal fact will at the same time be emblematic of a great spiritual truth. Zion in the millennial age will be the city of truth, " the habitation of righteousness and mountain of holiness" and therefore will be raised conspicuously aloft in the view of all the nations ; it will be the source whence the living waters of God s grace and salvation are to issue in all directions, and therefore every obstacle which might hinder their flow shall be " changed " and turned into a plain. It will be the centre of God s governmental rule of the world, and the place to which " all nations shall flow " for instruction and guidance, and therefore it must be lifted high, and approach to it rendered easy.

In the words of the beautiful paraphrase of the prophetic announcement by Isaiah and Micah :

Behold! the mountain of the Lord

In latter days shall rise On mountain-tops above the hills,

And draw the wond ring eyes.

To this the joyful nations round,

All tribes and tongues, shall flow ; " Up to the hill of God," they ll say,

"And to His house we ll go!"

The beam that shines from Zion s hill

Shall lighten ev ry land ; The King who reigns in Salem s towers

Shall all the world command.

Among the nations He shall judge

His judgments truth shall guide ; His sceptre shall protect the just

And quell the sinner s pride.

The second half of the loth verse describes the bounds of the restored and enlarged city, which shall thus be " lifted up " and settled down to dwell safely " in her own place."

" From Benjamin s gate unto the place of the first (or

1 Isa. ii. 2.


former ) gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananel unto the king s winepresses?

I shall not trouble my readers with topographical letails, all the more as by general confession the gates and owers here named cannot with any certainty be identified, suffice it here to say that " Benjamin s gate," which is very >robably the same as " the gate of Ephraim," mentioned in

Kings xiv. 13, was in the north wall of the city through

/hich the road to Benjamin, and thence to Ephraim, an.

The first (or " former ") " gate," which no longer existed n Zechariah s time, since only the place where it once tood is referred to, is supposed to have been at the north- astern corner, and the " corner gate " (which is also men- ioned in 2 Kings xiv. I 3 as well as in Jer. xxxi. 38) at he north-western corner.

If these suppositions be correct, this line would describe he whole breadth of the city from east to west, while the ower of Hananel, 1 which stood at the north or north-east orner, and " the king s winepresses," which all are agreed /ere in the king s gardens south of the city, would indi- ate the northern and southern boundaries. But the chief Tiportance of these local and topographical details in this Teat prophecy is the proof which they afford that it must |e literally understood, and that it is of Jerusalem and alestine that the prophet primarily speaks, or what can the .llegorising commentators make of these physical land- ,iarks and boundaries, such as " the gate of Benjamin " nd " the corner gate " ? And in what part of the heavenly erusalem can " the tower of Hananel " and " the king s inepresses " be located ?

V. The i ith verse gives us in three brief sentences glimpse of the blessed condition of the inhabitants of erusalem, which shall be thus renewed and established.

(a) " And they shall dwell in her" that is, permanently and / peace, "nevermore to go forth from it either in captivity r in flight." 2 In the words of one of the former prophets,

1 See Jer. xxxi. 38 ; Neh. iii. I, xii. 39. * Koehler.



Jacob then " shall be quiet and at ease, and none shall make him afraid." 1

() " And there shall be no more curse " (or " ban," or " sentence of destruction," as the word may be rendered), because the causes which previously provoked the Holy One to inflict desolating and destructive judgments upon the land and people shall be no more. 2 Another glorious and blessed contrast with the past, when on account of /i? manifold and continuous transgressions He had to " profane jr the princes of the sanctuary, and give Jacob over to the curse K ; ( D ?.n, herein) and Israel to reproaches " (or " reviling"). 3 fc

(c] " A nd Jerusalem shall dwell (or shall be inhabited ) \i safely, or literally, in conscious security " ( n 9?/, labhetacli) or ); ,:, " in confidence " ; for, though it shall be surrounded neither fa by walls, nor fortifications, it shall have nothing to fear. K( " For I, saith Jehovah, will be unto her a wall of fire round fe about, and the glory in the midst of her," 4 and " salvation " {/ will Jehovah appoint for walls and bulwarks. 5 This outline picture of the blessed condition of restored and purified Jerusalem, which in the millennial period will be, so to say, /, the earthly vestibule and the reflection of the giory $

] k

1 Jer. xxx. 10.

2 The word Q"in, herein (which is a masculine noun), describes primarily something devoted usually for utter destruction, but occasionally also for sacred ;, uses. Thus, for instance, the cities and inhabitants of Canaan were devoted by< O f God to utter destruction, and of Jericho particularly we read: "And the cityj j,, shall be Dnn, herem (devoted) even it and all that is therein to Jehovah " ,, (Josh. vi. 17). Achan, by taking D"jnn |p, min hacherem, "of the devoted: j e thing," made the whole camp of Israel D"in, " accursed," or devoted to destructive judgment, until it was purged by the discovery and stoning of the transgressor, who became himself herem, like the "devoted" thing which he had stolen :ir (Josh. vi. 18, vii. 11-13). If an individual or a whole city in Israel forsook T Jehovah and turned to serve other gods, they became herem, devoted to utter \ destruction (Deut. vii. 25, 26, xiii. 12-17). In Lev. xxvii. 29, where we read, a "All devoted (herem}, that shall be devoted from among men, shall not be , ransomed, he shall surely be put to death," it is such cases which are con- ; templated, i.e., those devoted by God " from among men " for utter destruction, j, either on account of apostasy or because of some special crime. Thus Benha- dad is called Pin E> i<, " a man under my herem, or ban," " one whom I have |T devoted to utter destruction" (i Kings xx. 42). So likewise were the Amale- r kites, etc. The Septuagint properly renders onri in Zech. xiv. II, by anathema. - (

3 Isa. xliii. 28. 4 Zech. ii. 4, 5. 5 Isa. xxvi. i.


of the new or heavenly Jerusalem, which shall come down from God out of heaven, is filled in by the inspired utterances of the "former" prophets (on which the pro phecies of Zechariah are more or less based), but particularly in the last chapters of Isaiah : " For behold, I create new heavens and a new earth : and the former things shall not be remembered, nor come into mind. But be ye glad and rejoice for ever in that which 1 create : for behold, I create Jerusalem a rejoicing, and her people a joy. And I will rejoice in Jeru salem, and joy in My people : and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days : for the child shall die an hundred years old, and the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. . . . They shall not labour in vain, nor bring fort] i for calamity : for tJiey are the seed of the blessed of the Lord, and their offspring with them. And it shall come to pass that, before they call, I will answer, and while they are yet speaking- 1 vvill hear. The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, and the lion shall eat straw like the ox : and dust shall be the serpent s meat. They shall not fmrt nor destroy in all My holy mountain, saitJi the Lord" l

1 Isa. Ixv. 17-20, 23-25. Some have professed to find a contradiction between the words of Zechariah, " There shall be no curse," and this statement of Isaiah that " the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed." But first the passage in Isaiah instances what are probably two hypothetical cases illus trative of the general longevity and the very rare occurrence of sin in renewed Jerusalem. He that should happen to die "a hundred years old" will be regarded but as a mere "child," compared with the average length of days to hich man shall then attain ; and "the sinner" who is visited with God s curse and overwhelmed with the punishment, will not be swept away before the hundredth year of his life. Secondly, the words in the original are not the same. There will be rare, or isolated, instances of sin in the Millennium, and God s curse, nhh$, qelalah (Isa. Ixv. 20 literally, "a reviling" "a thing lightly esteemed "), will descend on individuals ; but there shall be no more cnn, herem (Zech. xiv. u), i.e., a ban, or a devoting to utter destruction of the city and people, which shall then in the aggregate be cleansed and holy. Isa. xxv. 8 carries us on to the glorious consummation. Before millennial dawn finally merges into the Eternal Day, every vestige of sin and death shall be swept away. " He will swallow up death for ever, and the Lord God will wipe away tears from off all faces, and the reproach of His people shall He take away from off all the earth : for Jehovah hath spoken it."


The glorious picture of salvation in vers. 8-12 has its obverse side, namely, the judgments which will be inflicted on the enemies of God and His people. Chrono logically, vers. 12-15 follow ver. 3, for the terrible punishment of the confederated anti-Christian hosts which they describe (and which are an amplification and supple ment to the prophetic announcement of the destruction of these same Gentile hosts in chap. xii. 410) are the immediate consequence of the manifest interposition of Jehovah in the person of the Messiah as the Deliverer of His people, when He shall " go forth and fight against those nations as when He fought in the day of battle " ; but the detailed description of the judgments on Israel s enemies is passed over by the prophet for a time in order that the wonderful deliverance of God s people and the glorious transformation of Jerusalem and the " Holy Land " might be first fully described.

Three weapons will be used by God for the destruction of the enemies of His Kingdom: (i) The fearful plague described in verse 1 2 ; (2) mutual destruction in conse quence of a great panic of terror " from Jehovah " ; and (3) the superhuman strength of the saved remnant of Judah, who shall suddenly become like " a pan of fire " among wood, and like " a flaming torch among sheaves " l and shall devour their enemies round about, on their right hand and on their left. Of these three simultaneous judgments, the first two are spoken of as being inflicted by God s own hand, for maggeplia, rendered " plague " (which is used in the Hebrew for " infliction? " slaughter," " plague," " pesti lence "), always denotes a plague or judgment sent direct by God. 2

The description of the " plague " is terribly realistic. Literally, " He (Jehovah} makes his flesli to rot (or consume away}, while he standeth on his feet " (1y?1 -^ "J$? Nim o vehu omed al rag-lav), which is perhaps intended to express the suddenness with which God s stroke will alight upon him : " And his eye (singular} shall consume aivay in their sockets

1 Chap. xii. 6. J See Ex. ix. 14 ; Num. xiv. 39 ; i Sam. vi. 4.


(plural} ; and Jus tongue (singular) shall consume away in their mouth (plural)" The thought which the prophet probably intends to express, by the use of the singular suffix, is that this terrible catastrophe shall overtake each one and the whole company. " It is," as another has expressed it, "the act of God in His individual justice to each one of all those multitudes gathered against Him." One by one their eyes, of which they said, " Let our eye look (or gaze ) upon Zion " x (i.e., with joy at her desolation), shall consume away in their sockets, and their tongue, with which (like Rabshakeh and the Assyrians in a former siege of Jerusalem 2 ) they blasphemed God, shall consume away in their mouth a truly terrible judgment, intended as a warning to men that it is a fearful thing to be arrayed against Jehovah and His Anointed, or against the people and the city with which He and His cause shall in that day be identified.

The niiT 1 . nroinD, m humatJi Yehovah literally, a " tumult of Jehovah," with which the gathered hosts shall also be seized in that day, is the supernatural panic and " con fusion " which Jehovah sends among His enemies, with a view to their utter discomfiture and self-destruction. It is the same as the " astonishment " and " madness " with which the horses and the riders of these same hosts are spoken of as smitten in chap. xii. 4, and as a consequence "they shall lay hold" (*\>^r}.,hecfiziqu, a verb which is used generally but not exclusively of " laying hold," or " seizing violently " with evil intent) " every one on the hand of his neighbour." Each in that tumultuous, panic-stricken throng shall seize the other s hand, " mastering him power fully," with a view to his destruction " and his hand (i.e., each man s hand) shall be lifted up against the hand of his neighbour," with a view to deliver a deadly blow.

Such " confusions " or tumult the Lord had sent be fore in the midst of Israel s enemies. Thus the hosts of Midian were discomfited before Gideon and his little band,

1 Mic. iv. ii.

- Isa. xxxvi. 18-22, xxxvii. 4.


and the multitude of Philistines at Michmash " melted away " before Jonathan and his armour-bearer. 1

But the historical instance of the self-destruction of the enemies of God s people by means of such a " confusion " or panic sent by the Lord, to which the prophet seems specially to allude as an illustration of what will overtake the confederated anti-Christian hosts in the future, is that recorded in 2 Chron. xx., when, in answer to the prayer of Jehoshaphet, the hosts of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which were gathered against Judah, suddenly fell on one another. " And when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set Hers in wait against the children of Ammon, Moab, and Mount Seir, which were come against Judah ; and they were smitten. For the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy them : and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another."

The first clause of the I4th verse has been rendered by some, " And Judah also shall fight against Jerusalem" but there is no justification for it in grammar, and it is altogether contrary to the context: 2 literally, " And Judah also " which stands here for the whole remnant of the people " shall fight at (or in ) Jerusalem" It indicates the third weapon which (in addition to the " plague " and the " tumult ") will be used by God for the destruction ol

1 Judg. vii. 22 ; I Sam. xiii. 16-20.

2 The Targum has the mistranslation "against," and so also the Vulgate ; but the Septuagint and the Syriac render properly "at" or "in." Luther, Calvin, Ewald, etc., follow the Vulgate ; but Koehler, Hengstenberg, Keil, Von Orelli, Pusey, Dr. Wright, and almost all competent modern Hebrew scholars, translate "in "or "at Jerusalem." After the verb cn^>j (fight) the preposition 3 (be) is often used in a local sense, especially when used in relation to places. The very same idiom as in this passage in Zech. xiv. 14 (3 cn^p) is found in Judg. v. 19, where it certainly means "fought in Taanach," and Ex. v. 8. Then came Amaleh and fought with Israel, OT?~)3 "in " or "at "(certainly not "against") Rephidim, and so in other places. The English Revised Version is very incon sistent ; for whereas it renders "against" in Zech. xiv. 14, it has translated the same proposition " at " or "in " in the other passages just quoted, and in other places. It is properly rendered "at Jerusalem" in the "American Standard Edition."


the confederated hosts, which had all but succeeded in utterly exterminating the remnant of His people.

While their foes are consumed by the " plague " and engaged in fighting with one another in consequence of the " confusion " or tumult sent among them by the Lord, the remnant of Judah, " also " conscious now that the Captain of the Lord s host is with them, and that Almighty power is now on their side, are suddenly stirred up to do valiantly and have a share in utterly destroying them.

One consequence of the utter discomfiture of these hosts around Jerusalem is that" the wealth of all the nations round about shall be gathered together, gold and silver and apparel in great abundance " ; where again we have an allusion by the prophet to historical incidents in the past history of the nation as foreshadowments of the future.

Thus, in 2 Chron. xx., to which reference has already been made, after the overthrow of the hosts of Ammon and Moab and the inhabitants of Mount Seir, we read that Jehoshaphat and his people gathered into Jerusalem " spoil in abundance, both riches and garments and precious jewels " ; and thus also, when the hosts of Syrians, who were besieg ing Samaria, were suddenly seized with panic, fled because the Lord had made them " hear a noise of chariots and horses and of a great host " they left behind abundance of silver and gold and raiment. 1

And inasmuch as these hosts, by their enmity against God and His people, have brought themselves under His ban for utter destruction, the animals which they have brought with them for this campaign against the holy land and city, will also be overtaken with the same fate as their masters.

" And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, and oj the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in those camps as their masters"

This, as Hengstenberg points out, is in accord with the Mosaic law in reference to the cJierem, or " ban." When a whole city had committed the crime of idolatry, not only

1 2 Kings vii. 2-8.


the inhabitants, but the animals also, were put to death ; in which case the same law affecting the relation between the irrational and rational portions of the creation was repeated on a small scale as that which caused the animal creation to be " subject to vanity," not willingly, " on account of the sin of man." An instance of this we have in the case of Achan, whose oxen, asses, and sheep were stoned and burned, along with himself and his children. 1

Blessed be God, " creation," which has become involved in the sin and consequent suffering and death of man, is to participate also in the benefits of the great redemption which has been accomplished by our Lord Jesus Christ, and shall yet be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. 2

But there is a beneficent end in the very judgments of God, for through them the nations will at last learn righteousness, and the fruit will be " universal homage to the Universal Ruler," 3 Jehovah of Hosts, and in the person of the Messiah, under whose sway all nations shall then be blessed. " And it shall come to pass that every one that is left of all the nations that come up against Jerusalem shall go up from year to year to worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts, and to keep the Feast of Tabernacles."

First, it should be observed that when it is said that all nations and families of the earth shall come up to Jerusalem from year to year to worship Jehovah, and in acknowledgment of Israel s national supremacy in the millennial earth, it is not meant that every individual in each nation shall come up, but that the nations shall come up representatively. " The actions of nations and all corporate bodies is always spoken of in Scripture with reference to those who are officially appointed to express or carry out their will. Thus in the great gathering against Jerusalem the nations concerned therein are represented by their armies. Every individual in each nation will not be present, yet each nation is said to be there." 4

1 Josh. vii. 24, 25. 2 Rom. viii. 20-22.

3 Von Orelli. 4 B. W. Newton.


The commentators differ as to ivhy the Feast of Tabernacles is singled out as the one which all the nations are represented in this prophecy as coming up to Jerusalem to celebrate ; and very few see the deep typical and spiritual truth set forth by this " Hag- Yehovah " the " Feast of Jehovah," x as it is emphatically called in Lev. xxiii., which has been properly styled " The Sacred Calendar of the History of Redemption," because it sets forth, by a series of striking types, not only the great facts, but the very order in which the various stages of God s great redemption scheme for the world were to unfold themselves in the course of time. Briefly, it may be said that the nations are represented as coming up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles because the spiritual truths set forth by this particular type shall then be realised for Jerusalem shall then be the metropolis of God s Kingdom on earth, and the joy and blessedness foreshadowed by that feast will then not only be the portion of saved Israel, but shall also pervade all nations of the earth.

But to understand this more clearly we must examine a little more fully the historical and prophetic character of this feast. Primarily 2 Tabernacles was, above all the other

1 Lev. xxiii. 39. Dr. Wright and others have built an argument against the literal interpretation of this prophecy on Isa. Ixvi. 23, which, according to them, represents the Gentile nations as going up to Jerusalem to worship, not only once a year, but at all the festivals, and even on the new moons and Sabbaths. But the words of Isaiah are these : " And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another, and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to "worship before Me, saith Jehovah." He says nothing about their going up to Jerusalem to keep these weekly and monthly festivals. Even Israel in the land did not go up to Jerusalem to celebrate their Sabbaths and their new moons, but wor shipped God wherever they were. And so "all flesh " in that renewed earth, in which shall dwell righteousness, shall come together (in their own lands) to worship Jehovah on these frequent regular occasions. Zechariah, however, speaks distinctly of their going up to Jerusalem at the annual Feast of Taber nacles not at all an impossible thing. An argument has been based on the opinion that the more distant nations could not obey this command because of the time required for the journey, but we do not yet know what the facilities of travel will be in the Millennium.

z This section on the Feast of Tabernacles is quoted here from the ist chapter of Types, Psalms, and Prophecies, entitled "The Sacred Calendar of the History of Redemption."


feasts, " the harvest festival of joy and thanksgiving, in celebration not only of the full ingathering of the labours of the field, but also of the fruit and of the vintage, and is therefore pre-eminently styled the Feast of Ingatherings (Ex. xxiii. 16; xxxiv. 22; Deut. xvi. 13).

It had, moreover, a clear retrospective or commemora tive significance, as is plainly stated in the command that they should dwell in booths : " And ye shall take you on the first day the fruit of the goodly trees, branches of palm trees, and boughs of thick trees, and willoivs of the brook, and ye shall rejoice before Jehovah your God seven days ; ... ye shall dwell in booths seven days, . . . that your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt ; I am Jehovah your God" (vers. 4043) an ordinance well calculated indeed to keep alive in their mind the grateful remembrance of the God of Israel, who sustained them miraculously in the wilderness, and led them by the hand of Moses, Aaron, and Joshua, safely into the promised land.

The Rabbis in later times regarded the SukkaJi (taber nacle), in which they dwelt during the feast, as more especially symbolical of the cloud of glory which hovered over the Tabernacle, and which led and shielded Israel by day and illumined them by night in their forty years wilderness wanderings ; but even the Mishna and the Talmud single out this feast from all the others as being of an anticipative or prophetic character, while Christian scholars and Bible students are in agreement that there is nothing in this dispensation to answer to the Feast of Tabernacles. No, its fulfilment is yet in the future, when, after Israel s national Day of Atonement shall have come to pass, and the nation which was destined of God from the beginning to be the channel of blessing to the world shall have been reconciled and cleansed, and equipped by the power of God to go forth on its mission of spreading the knowledge of their Messiah over the whole earth, the great "Feast of Ingathering" shall take place, and "all peoples " shall sit down to the " feast of fat things, yea, a


feast of wines on the lees, of fat things full of marrow," which Jehovah of hosts has prepared for them on Mount Zion. 1

Though not part of the original Mosaic appointment, the ceremonial service of this feast, which was in practice in the Temple, was also designed to point and emphasise its symbolic and prophetic significance. I will mention only two or three features of that ritual.

I. Simchat-bet-ha-Shdebhak literally, "Joy of the House of Drawing (the water) ; or, the Ceremonial of Water Libation."

Every morning of the feast, a joyous procession, accom panied by music and headed by a priest bearing a golden pitcher, measuring just a little over two pints, made its way from the Temple courts to the Pool of Siloam. At the same time another procession went to the place in the Kedron valley called Moza, or Colonia, whence they brought willow branches, which they bound on either side of the altar of burnt-offering, " bending them over towards it so as to form a kind of leafy canopy."

Then the ordinary sacrifice proceeded, " the priest who had gone to Siloam so timing it that he returned just as his brethren carried up the pieces of the sacrifice to lay them on the altar. As he entered by the Water Gate, which obtained its name from this ceremony, he was received by a threefold blast from the priests trumpets." Amid great demonstrations of excitement and joy this water was poured into a silver basin, or tube, on the altar, simultaneously with the prescribed libation of wine, which was poured into another tube.

On the seventh day, called the " Hoshanna rabba," the

1 Isa. xxv. "That these are not ideal comparisons, but the very design of the Feast of Tabernacles, appears not only from the language of the prophets and the peculiar services of the feast, but also from its position in the Calendar, and even from the names by which it is designated in Scripture. Thus in its refer ence to the harvest it is called Feast of Ingathering ; in that to the history of Israel in the past, the Feast of Tabernacles ; while its symbolic bearing on the future is brought out in its designation as emphatically the feast and the Feast of Jehovah. " Edersheim.


great Hosanna, the joy and excitement of the people reached their climax. The joyous crowds of worshippers on that day, seen from one of the flat roofs of Jerusalem overlooking the Temple area, would resemble a forest in motion, for all carried palm branches in their hands which were more than a man s height in length. Great silence would fall on the assembled throng as the choir of Levites commenced to sing the Hallel (the specially prescribed " Praise " for the great festivals, consisting of Pss. cxiii.- cxviii.), to each line of which the people had to respond with " Hallelujah." Soon the whole crowd fell into order, and, led by the priests, marched in procession round the altar. Seven times they encompassed it. As the singers reached vers. 25 to 29 of Ps. cxviii., and joined in the words, " Ana Adonai Hoshio-na!" ("Hosanna, make Thy salvation now manifest, O Lord!"), "Ana Adonai Hatslicha-na! " (" O Lord, send now prosperity! "), the people waved their palm branches and accompanied the song with loud exclamations of joy. And as they reached the words, " Blessed is He that cometli in tJie Name of Jehovah" the godly and spiritual among them would in their hearts greet the coming Messiah and King, to whom they well knew these words applied.

The joy accompanying this ceremonial was so great that it became a proverb. " He that hath not seen Simcliat-bet-Jia-Shdebkali, the joy of the drawing (and the pouring) of the water, hath not seen joy in this life." Now, though the Rabbis attached a symbolic significance to the ceremonial in connection with the dispensation of the rain, the amount of which for the year they imagined was determined by God at this feast ; and perhaps also a commemorative sense, as reminding them of the wonders God wrought in the wilderness in giving them water out of a rock, the main reference according to themselves, as already said, was to the future blessings to be bestowed on them in Messiah s time, and especially pointed to the pouring out of the Spirit ; as is to be inferred from the singing by the multitude of Isa. xii. 3, and from the distinct


statement in the Talmud (Jer., Sukkah v., also Tosefta Sukkah iv.). " Why is it called Bet-ha-ShtfebJuih ? (the joy of drawing or pouring). Because of the pouring of the Holy Spirit, according to what is said : WitJi joy sJiall ye draiv ivater out of the wells of salvation " Now, in a limited though very blessed degree, this has already been fulfilled, for it was in reference to this ceremonial of the pouring of water that our Lord Jesus " on the last day the great day of the feast " stood and cried, saying, " If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of His belly shall flow rivers of living- water : and this He spake of the Spirit which they that believed were about to receive " ; in accordance with which, when once Jesus was glorified, on being raised from the dead and taken up to the right hand of God, the Spirit came down from heaven like a rushing mighty wind, and the Church of this dispensation was formed, every living member of which knows experiment ally of the indwelling of this blessed heavenly Paraclete.

In its fulness, however, such a prophecy as Isa. xii. and the wonderful prediction of Joel "And it shall come to pass afterward tJtat I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh " will only be realised subsequent to Israel s great national Day of Atonement. Then " the ransomed of Jehovah shall return and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads ; they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away " (Isa. xxxv. 10). Then shall Israel nationally experience the truth of Christ s word, " But the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into eternal life " ; and then also " shall living waters go out from Jerusalem " for the quickening and refreshing of the whole world (Zech. xiv. 6).

2. Another feature in the Temple service of the Feast of Tabernacles also deserves mention, because of its rich symbolic import.

At the conclusion of the first day of the feast the worshippers congregated in the Court of the Women, where


a great illumination took place. Four huge golden lamps or candelabras were there, each with four golden bowls, against which rested four ladders. Four youths of priestly descent ascended these with large pitchers of oil from which they filled each bowl. The old worn breeches and girdles of the priests served for wicks for these lamps. So great and brilliant was the light that, according to a saying, " There was not a court in Jerusalem that was not lit up by it." Around these great golden burning lamps a sacred dance took place, in which even the Jiassidim (saints) and " the men of deed," or prominent leaders of the people, with flaming torches in their hands, danced before the people and sang before them hymns and songs of praise. " The Levites also, with harps, and lutes, and cymbals, and trumpets, and with instruments of music without number, stood upon the fifteen steps which led down from the Court of Israel to that of the Women, according to the number of the fifteen Songs of Degrees in the Book of Psalms."

This illumination, too, was regarded as of the same twofold symbolic significance as the pouring of the water. It reminded them of the past when God led them in the wilderness with the cloud of glory and the pillar of fire of the Shekinah glory which dwelt in the first Temple, but was, alas! already absent in the second ; but it also, and chiefly, was meant to remind them of the Messianic promises in the future when the light of Jehovah should arise upon their land and people.

Now this, too, has, in a partial degree, been already fulfilled, for He who cried, " If any man thirst let him come unto Me and drink," at this same feast, and in reference to this illumination, again spake unto them, saying, " I am the Light of the world ; he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the Light of Life " ; and since then hundreds of millions who have heard His voice, and have followed in His steps, have had their hearts and souls, their present and their future eternity illumined by His Gospel. But while this is so, Israel, as a nation, still walks in darkness, and the other peoples of the


earth are still covered by the shadow of death until the Sun of Righteousness shall arise with healing in His wings, and the word shall go forth : " Arise, shine, for thy light is come, and the glory of Jehovah is risen upon thee." Then " nations" as nations, " shall come to thy light ; and kings to the brightness of thy glory" (Isa. Ix. 13); and the promise confirmed by the oath of Him who cannot lie shall be fulfilled : " As truly as I live, all the earth shall be filled with the glory of Jehovah" (Num. xiv. 21).

The Feast of Tabernacles was the only one that had an octave, " the last and great day of the feast," the Azereth " conclusion," or " crowning feast of all the feasts of the year," as Philo, the Alexandrian, called it ; on which Israel dwelt no longer in booths to remind them of the wilderness but returned to their homes to rejoice there, and to begin, so to say, a cycle beyond the one of seven which they had just completed.

Now the eighth day in Scripture is the Resurrection Day, and points, I believe, to the Eternal Day, after the cycle of time in which the history of the earth, as set forth in the Sacred Calendar of the History of Redemption, shall have been finished, when the consummation of earthly rest shall synchronise with the commencement of heavenly glory "when a great voice out of the throne shall go forth, saying : Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He shall dwell with them, and they shall be His people. And God Himself shall be with them and be their God. And God shall wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain : for the former things have passed away" (Rev. xxi. 1-8).

" Then," to conclude with the words of an old divine, " the mystery of the water which was poured upon the sacrifices shall be fulfilled, when He who is the Alpha and the Omega shall proclaim, // is done. / will give to him that is athirst of the water of life freely. Then He who, at the Feast of Tabernacles, invited sinners to come to Him and drink, shall lead His redeemed people by living


fountains of water ; and make them drink of tJie river of His pleasures. Then, too, the symbol of the palm branches shall be accomplished in the final victory of the redeemed over Death and Hades ; and they shall realise the blessed fulfilment of the promise, He that overcometh shall inherit all thing s ; and I will be his God, and he shall be My Son!

" Then, too, shall be the great Hosanna, when that great multitude, which no man could number, out of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, shall stand before the throne of God, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands, and shall cry with a loud voice, saying : Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb (Rev. vii. 9, 10)."

During that blessed millennial period the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah shall indeed cover the earth, and all nations shall walk in His light. Sin and iniquity will no longer be allowed to lift up their head, and apostasy and rebellion will be visited with instant punishment whenever they manifest themselves. Yet we know from prophetic Scripture that the hearts of multitudes among the Gentile nations will not be fully subdued to God and His truth, even in the Millennium, and that many of them will render only a feigned submission to the Divine King, whose throne shall be on Mount Sion. There follows therefore the warning to the nations against disobedience to His com mand to come up to Jerusalem to render homage to the King, Jehovah of hosts. " And it shall be tJiat whoso of the families of the earth goetJi not up unto Jerusalem to worship the King, Jeliovah of Hosts, upon them there shall be no rain" which commentators take to mean the " early rain," which generally falls in Palestine about the end of October and the beginning of November soon after Tabernacles, but D ^?. (geshem the word here used) usually stands simply for heavy, torrential rain, i"nv (yoreli), being the special word for the " early rain." Besides, this is a threat uttered, not against Israel and Palestine, but the Gentile nations, whose seasons and climates may be altogether different.

The word is to be taken first of all in its literal sense.


The withholding of rain was one of the ways by which God was wont to punish the apostasy of His own people in the days of the theocracy, 1 and He now threatens to inflict it on the Gentile nations in case of disobedience. At the same time, there is also here a blending of the literal and the piritual, and the punishment threatened includes also the withholding from the disobedient nations, or " families," of the showers of God s grace and blessing, of which the literal rain is often used in Scripture as an emblem.

For this punishment, in case of disobedience, there will be no exception and escape. This is the thought ex pressed in the two following verses : " And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, then also not upon them ; tJtere sJiall be the plague wherewith Jehovah will plague the nations that go not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles"

This is the literal rendering of the words as they stand in the Hebrew text, but the actual meaning is not ab solutely certain. 2

Egypt is especially named according to Von Orelli, Koehler, and others, because of its peculiar conditions and climate for however it ultimately depended on the equa torial rains, which overfilled the lakes which supply the Nile, it did not need that fine arrangement of the rains ot autumn and spring which were essential to the fruitfulness of Palestine. Hence it may perhaps encourage itself in the thought that the threatened infliction in case of disobedience would be no punishment to them. The prophet therefore

1 Comp. I Kings xvii., xviii.

2 Most commentators supply the words Dffan nvr, yihyeh haggashem, " and not upon (or neither upon them ) shall be the rain." It is possible, however, that the adverb, vh (" not") before the word DivVy, "upon them," has crept in by mistake from the previous line, and that the Septuagint is in this case likely to be correct. By omitting one of the negatives, it reads simply, " And if the tribe of Egypt does not go up nor come, the plague will be upon them with which Jehovah will smite all the nations." Lange, following Hitzigand Bunsen, renders the passage interrogatively : " And if the family of Egypt will not go up and will not come, then will the plague not fall upon them with which Jehovah shall smite the nation which will not go up in order to keep the Feast of Tabernacles?" to which question the igth verse is, according to this rendering, supposed to be the answer. But this translation is rejected by most scholars on grammatical grounds.



emphasises the fact that, notwithstanding Egypt s apparent independence of rain, it would suffer the consequences that follow the withholding of rain, as much as the other nations that are dependent on it. It may be also, as Pusey sug gests, that the words are left undefined "with a purposed abruptness " (the word rain not being mentioned in the Hebrew in the I 8th verse), " there shall not be upon them" namely, " whatever they need." x

The thought that Egypt if disobedient will be overtaken in the same judgment is solemnly repeated in the 19th verse : " This shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that go not up to keep the Feast of Tabernacles." The word used here for punishment is nxipn, hattath, which primarily means " sin " ; but it signifies also sin in its effects, as bringing punishment in its train. The word stands also sometimes for " sin-offering," which reminds us of the intimate relation that exists in God s moral government of the world between sin and its punishment, and helps us to understand such a statement as that Christ, who knew no sin, was made sin for us namely, a sin-offering, enduring and bearing the conse quence of sin on our behalf.

In the last two verses we reach the glorious goal and climax of vision and prophecy. God s original purpose in the calling and election of Israel " Ye shall be unto Me a Kingdom of priests, an holy nation " shall at last be realised ; the aim and purpose of the whole law, namely, that His people might learn the meaning of holiness and become holy because Jehovah their God is holy ; but to which, so long as they were in bondage to the law, they could not attain, shall at last be fulfilled when they are brought into a condition of grace, and when God shall put His law into their inward parts and write it on their hearts

1 Kiel, Breclenkamp, and others contend, however, that the prophet mentions Egypt especially, not because of the fact in natural history that this land owes its fertility not to rain, but to the overflowing of the Nile but as the nation which showed the greatest hostility to Jehovah and His people in the olden time, and for the purpose of showing that this nation was also to attain a full participation in the blessings of salvation bestowed upon Israel (comp. Isa. xix. 19-25).


Then the world shall witness for the first time the glorious

pectacle of a whole nation, and every individual member

it, wholly consecrated to Jehovah, and an earthly capital which shall truly answer to its name, " The Holy City," Because it shall in many ways be the earthly counterpart and reflection of the glory of the New Jerusalem, which will come down out of heaven from God.

And not only shall nin!> Knp> Qodesh la-Yehovah Holiness (or holy ) unto the Lord " be written on their persons, and on all the outward and inward life of the whole community, but on everything they possess. " In tJiat day shall there be (engraven} on the bells of the horses, Holy unto Jehovah : and the pots in Jehovah s House " which were used for the boiling of the sacrificial flesh, of which the common people, as well as the priests, could eat, and were therefore regarded as less holy " shall be like the bowls before the altar" in which the blood of the sacrifices was received, and out of which it was sprinkled, or poured, upon the altar, and therefore regarded as most holy. In the words of a deep student of Scripture, " The whole external character of life that which is exhibited in the streets of a city (represented by the tinkling sound of the bells of the passing horses) shall bear in all its parts, throughout all its detail, the impress of holiness unto the Lord. Religious life and fellowship shall be holy also ; for the pots in the Lord s House, vessels which of old the priests had so often defiled, shall be like the bowls of the altar. Private and domestic life shall be hallowed too ; for every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah (that is, througJiout the holy land) shall be holy unto Jehovah of Hosts : and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them and seethe (or boil) in them. For everything alike shall be holy, and all such distinctions as profane, holy, and most holy, shall completely cease in that day. "

" The distinction between holy and profane can only cease, however," to quote yet another writer, " when the sin and moral defilement njhich first evoked this distinction, and made it necessary that the things intended for the service


of God should be set apart and receive a special consecra tion, have been entirely removed and wiped away. To remove this distinction, to prepare the way for the cleansing away of sin, and to sanctify once more that which sin had desecrated, was the object of the sacred institutions ap pointed by God. To this end Israel was separated from the nations of the earth ; and in order to train it up as a holy nation, and to secure the object described, a law was given to it, in which the distinction between holy and profane ran through all the relations of life. And this goal will be eventually reached by the people of God, and sin with all its consequences be cleansed away by the judgment. In the perfected Kingdom of God there will be no more sinners, but only such as are righteous and holy."!

Finally, " there shall be no more a Canaanite in the House of Jehovah of Hosts in that day! The Hebrew word S ?V^, Klienaani, means also " trader," or " merchant," because in early times the Canaanites, especially the Phoenicians, were known in the world as traders. Some therefore prefer to render the clause, " There shall no more be a trafficker in the House of the Lord," which is also the rendering of the Jewish Targum. But whether we take the term Canaanite to stand for the unclean and the godless, or understand it as meaning merchant or trafficker, the sense is practically the same. Nothing that defileth, or that maketh an abomination or a lie, or that could disturb the peace or mar the holiness, shall in anywise be permitted to enter that House, which " in that day " shall be the House of Prayer for all nations.

" For this shall be the law of the House : upon the top of the mountain the whole limit thereof round about shall be most holy. Behold, this is the law of the House." -

1 Kcil. - Ezek. xliii. 12.