INTRODUCTION TO ZECHARIAH 6
This chapter contains a vision of four chariots, and the explanation of it; and an order to make crowns of gold and silver for certain uses mentioned; and a famous prophecy concerning the Messiah as the builder of the temple, the church. The chariots are described by their number, four; by the place, the mountains, from whence they came out; and by the different colour of the horses in each of them, Zechariah 6:1 upon the prophets inquiry what these were, an explanation is given of them; and they are said to be the four spirits of the heavens; and are described by their situation, standing before the Lord of the whole earth; by their mission from him; by each of the places to which they were sent; and by their success, or by the good effects produced, at least by some of them, Zechariah 6:4 then follows the order to make the crowns; and it is declared what they should be made of, gold and silver; from whom they were to be had, and who were to be concerned herein; and what was to be done with them; they were to be put upon the head of Joshua the high priest, Zechariah 6:9 who, being an eminent type of Christ, a prophecy concerning him is ordered to be delivered to him; who is described by his name, the man, the Branch; by the place he should grow up from; by the work he should do, building the temple of the Lord; by the glory he should have on account of it; and by the offices of King, Priest, and Prophet, he should execute, Zechariah 6:12 and after this was done, then the crowns were to be laid up in the temple of the Lord for a memorial, by the four men above mentioned, Zechariah 6:14 and though the Messiah is the chief builder of the temple, the church, yet it is suggested that others, and even Gentiles, should come and build in it; and which when done, it would be evident that the prophet had his mission to the Jews of the Lord; and the chapter is closed with a promise of the accomplishment of all this, should they diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord, Zechariah 6:15.
And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked,.... When he saw another vision, as follows:
and, behold, there came four chariots; by which are meant, not the four Gospels; rather the apostles of Christ, who had their commission from Christ; were sent into all the world by him, and carried his name and Gospel thither; were the instruments Christ made use of in bringing many souls to him, and into his church, and for the defence of his Gospel, and of his interest; and were military chariots, who fought the good fight of faith; and triumphal ones, who were made to triumph in Christ, being more than conquerors through him; though others think angels are here meant, the chariots of the Lord, Psalm 68:17 since they are called the four spirits of the heavens; and are said to go forth from standing before the Lord of the earth, and are sent by him into each of the parts of it, Zechariah 6:5 and are represented by horses of various colours, as in Zechariah 1:8 these may be signified by chariots, for their glory, strength, and swiftness, in which Jehovah rides about the world, and executes his will; and are made use of for the destruction of the church's enemies, and for its protection and defence. The Jewish writers, after the Targum, generally interpret them of the four monarchies, the Persian, Grecian, and Roman, by whom were done the will of God in the world; and seem to be greatly the design of the vision:
these came out from between two mountains: and the mountains were mountains of brass; such in which this metal is found, as in Chalcis, where it is said to be first found
In the first chariot were red horses,.... If these are to be understood of the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the Gospel, they may be compared to "horses", for bearing the name of Christ, and drawing the chariot of the Gospel; for their strength to labour in the word and doctrine; for their courage in the cause of Christ; and for their swiftness in doing his work; and to "red" ones, for their flaming zeal for the honour of the Redeemer, and their bloody sufferings for his sake: and if of angels, they may be compared to "horses", because strong and swift to do the will of God; and to "red" ones, because they are the executioners of his wrath and vengeance on wicked men: but if by "the chariots" are meant the monarchies, then by these "red horses" must be designed the Babylonians and Chaldeans, so called because their soldiers were clothed in red, and their chariots were like flaming torches; and they were sanguinary, cruel, and bloody in their tempers, and in their actions to the Jews; and were signified by Nebuchadnezzar's head of gold in his image; see Nahum 2:3,
and in the second chariot black horses; which, applied to the apostles and ministers of the Gospel, may denote their mean and abject appearance outwardly, and their knowledge in the mysteries of grace, which are dark and obscure to others; and, if understood of angels, is applicable to them, when messengers of ill tidings, or executioners of judgment: but if the monarchies are meant, which seems best, the Medes and Persians are intended; and their "black" colour is expressive of the sorrowful estate of the Jews under them, especially in the time of Haman, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe: black horses were reckoned strong, well made, and fit for labour; and the Ethiopians and Moors chose to have their horses they used in war all of this colour, to strike the greater horror and terror into their enemies; and to see black horses in a dream was accounted a bad omen
And in the third chariot white horses,.... Which, as referring to Gospel preachers, may denote the purity of their lives and doctrines, and their conquests and victories over the souls of men by the ministry of the word; and, as applicable to angels, may express the purity of their nature and actions, the joyful messages they bring to the heirs of salvation, and their victories over the evil angels; but, as respecting the monarchies, point at the Grecians, and the conquests of Alexander, and his mildness and gentleness to the Jews: white horses were used in triumphs, in token of victory
and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses: signifying either the diversity of gifts in the ministers of the Gospel; or the different employment and services of angels; or rather the Romans are meant, who were collected out of various nations, and consisted of different people, and had dvarious forms of government, and emperors of different dispositions to the Jews; and particularly as two colours are assigned to these, it may respect the division of their kingdom into Pagan and Papal, as is predicted in Daniel 2:41. Kimchi thinks the "bay horses" design the kingdom of the Ishmaelites, or Turks, a strong and powerful people; as some think the word used signifies
Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me,.... After he had seen the chariots come out, and had observed the different colours of the horses in them:
what are these, my lord? that is, what do they signify? what is the meaning of this vision?
And the angel answered and said unto me,.... In order to grant him his request, and explain the vision of the chariots:
these are the four spirits of the heavens; or, "the four winds of the heavens"; the apostles and ministers of the Gospel may be compared to "the winds", because their ministry is the ministration of the Spirit, which is like wind that blows invisibly, powerfully, and where it listeth; and because in and by it the Spirit breathes life and comfort into the souls of men; and because of the powerful efficacy and penetrating nature of the word preached by them, and their swiftness and readiness to do the will of God: angels are called "spirits" or "winds", Psalm 104:3 they are created spirits, and so differ from God; are incorporeal ones, and so differ from men; and are immaterial and immortal, and so die not: they are spiritual subsistences, and spirits of the heavens, or heavenly spirits; heaven being the place of their abode and residence; and they may be compared to "winds", for their invisibility, wonderful penetration into places and things, their very great swiftness, and prodigious power and strength. The Targum paraphrases the words thus,
"these are the four kingdoms, which are as the winds of heaven;'
and so the same are signified by the four winds in Daniel 7:2 to which they may be compared for their swift and forcible carrying all before them, and for their fickleness and changeableness; and to which, the several parts of the world, into which they went, agree:
which go forth, from standing before the Lord of all the earth: so the apostles of Christ, and ministers of the Gospel, stood before him in his eternal purposes and decrees from everlasting; and went forth, having their commission from him in time; and were sent by him into the several parts of the world he is the Lord of; and by whom they were filled with gifts, grace, and courage, fitting them for their work. Angels also stand before him, ministering unto him; always behold him; are in his presence, and enjoy his favour; and go forth from him, being sent forth by him on various accounts into all the parts of the world; which Jehovah is the Creator, Upholder, and Governor of: moreover, this is applicable to the four monarchies; these stood before the Lord in his vast and infinite mind; in the secret decrees of it, before the world was; and the sending and going forth of them from him show that they were powers ordained of God, who has the government of the whole world in his hands.
The black horses which are therein,.... Which were in the second chariot: no further mention is made of the red horses in the first chariot, because the kingdom of the Chaldeans was now extinct: these design the Medes and Persians:
go forth into the north country: into the country of Babylon or Chaldea, which lay north of Judea; see Jeremiah 1:13 and other places; these went to Babylon, took that, and seized on the empire, and delivered the Jews, who were captives there:
and the white go forth after them; the Grecians under Alexander, who went after the Medes and Persians into the same country, and fought Darius the Persian, and conquered him:
and the grisled go forth toward the south country; the Romans under Julius Caesar, Augustus, and others before them, who went into Egypt, which lay south of Judea, Daniel 11:5 and conquered that, and other nations, and set up the fourth kingdom or monarchy.
And the bay went forth, and sought to go,.... Without leave: these design either the Romans; or, since distinct from the grisled, the Huns, Goths, and Vandals; who sought to go out of their own places into other countries: and were desirous
that they might walk to and fro through the earth: without control; overrunning as they, did the Roman empire, and set up ten kingdoms in it; unless this is to be understood of the land of Judea only, through which the Romans walked to and fro at pleasure, and subdued it:
and he said; that is, the Lord of the whole earth, before whom they stood:
Get ye hence, walk to and fro through the earth; as being filled with indignation at them, and yet suffered them to have their will; and so Kimchi interprets the phrase,
"he gave them power to go and subdue lands;'
and to the same purpose Jarchi,
"he gave them power to rule with great authority; and this is the kingdom of Edom or Rome:'
So they walked to and fro through the earth; either the land of Judea, as the Romans did, and made it a Roman province; and these may represent Rome Papal, set up and supported by the above people, even the beast of Rome, which has reigned over the kings of the earth, to whom the ten kings gave their kingdom and power.
Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying,.... That is, the Lord of the whole earth spoke to the prophet with a loud voice, and uttered the following words:
Behold, these that go toward the north country; meaning the Medes and Persians, which went towards Babylon:
have quieted my spirit in the north country; by executing the judgments of God upon the Chaldeans, and by helping, favouring, and delivering the people of the Jews; which were very agreeable to the will of God, and well pleasing in his sight, signified by the quieting or refreshing his Spirit.
And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying. Either "the word of prophecy from the Lord", as the Targum paraphrases it; the visions being ended, the prophetic part of the book begins; and many excellent prophecies concerning the Messiah, and his kingdom, are contained in this and the following chapters: or an order from the Lord, which is expressed in the next verses Zechariah 6:10.
Take of "them of" the captivity,.... That is, some of them that were returned from the captivity of Babylon, and who are mentioned by name:
even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon; either with Zerubbabel and Joshua, when they came from thence; or who were now just come from those that remained there:
and come thou the same day; this very day in which they were come from thence:
and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; where the above persons were; or where they were to go along with him: this Josiah might be either a goldsmith, and therefore the prophet is sent to him to make the crowns later mentioned; or else he might be a treasurer belonging to the temple, who had gold and silver in his hands, which had been put there for the use of it.
Then take silver and gold, &c. Which the Jewish writers suppose were brought by the above men from their brethren in Babylon, as a free will offering towards the building of the temple:
and make crowns; two at least, one of silver, and another of gold; the one to be put upon the head of Joshua the high priest; the other upon the head of Zerubbabel, as Kimchi conjectures; though, according to the text, they seem to be both, or all of them, be they as many as they will, to be put upon the head of Joshua; and may signify the different states of the priesthood in the present time, and when in its pristine glory; or that both the crown of the priesthood and the crown of the kingdom should meet in his antitype Christ, who is said to have on his head many crowns, Revelation 19:12. The Targum renders it, "thou shalt make a great crown"; as if only one crown was to be made of gold and silver mixed together; and so the Arabic version renders it; but more are certainly meant, for it follows:
and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech the high priest; on whose head a fair mitre was set; see Zechariah 3:5 and with the mitre was wore by the high priest the holy crown, made of pure gold; and which was no other than the plate or "flower" of gold, on which was engraved "Holiness to the Lord", Exodus 28:36 and this, according to the Jewish writers
"the golden crown surrounds (either the mitre, or perhaps rather the forehead or temples); and on it were three rows of cups or flowers, like those of the herb we call "saccharus"; and the Grecian botanists "hyosciamus";'
or henbane; and after describing the herb, and the figure of the buds, cups, or flowers of it, he adds,
"like to these is made a crown reaching from the hinder part of the head unto both temples; for the flowers do not encompass the forehead; but there is a golden plate, which has the name of God engraved in sacred letters;'
which seems to disagree with the accounts of other Jewish writers; unless, as Braunius
"the mitre under it kept the plate from touching the head, on which the "cidaris" or diadem was put; for it was like the cidaris which the eastern kings used for a diadem:'
and indeed this crown, and the three rows of flowers in it, were a hieroglyphic or emblem of the threefold office of Christ, whom the high priest represented, kingly, priestly, and prophetic; and so may be fitly signified here by crowns in the plural number; and it is usual with the Jewish writers to speak of three crowns, the crown of the law, the crown of the kingdom, and the crown of the priesthood
And speak unto him, saying,.... That is, to Joshua the high priest, having the crowns on his head:
thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; which is not to be understood of Zerubbabel, as some Jewish writers interpret it; for he was not "the Branch", by way of eminency, much less that righteous Branch of David, called the Lord our righteousness, Jeremiah 23:5 the same that is here meant; besides, he was already grown up out of his place; nor did he build a temple, from which he had great glory; nor was he either king or priest, only governor of Judah; and, however, not both, as this person is represented to be; and who is no other than the Messiah; and so the Targum paraphrases the words,
"behold the man Messiah is his name;'
and Jarchi owns that some of their Rabbins interpret the words of the King Messiah. The "Branch" is a name by which the Messiah goes in the Talmud
"we have heard (says he) one of the friends of Moses, i. e. Zechariah, saying thus, behold the man "whose name is the east", or rising sun (so the Greek version renders the words); a new appellation, if you can think it said of one consisting of soul and body; but if of that incorporeal one, bearing the divine image, you will own that the name is fitly given him, the ancient Sun, the Father of beings will cause to arise; whom otherwise he names the first begotten, and who, being begotten, imitates the ways of his Father; and looking at his archetypal exemplars, forms the same.'
"it is right that the Targum interprets it of the Messiah, for of him it is spoken; therefore it is written, "and he shall grow up out of his place"; for he shall go forth from him, and shall be of the seed of Zerubbabel,--and the King Messiah shall bear the glory of the kingdom, and he shall rule upon the throne of his kingdom;'
and when he is called a man, the meaning is not that he is a mere man, nor was he really man before his incarnation; but as he was to be man, and his incarnation was drawing near, he is so called: of his name the "Branch", see Isaiah 4:2, and Joshua, he is directed to look upon himself, with the crowns on his head, as a type of him; and so were the prophet, and those that were with him; and he is to be beheld, as before in type, so now in truth, by faith, with love and affection, with diligent attention, and great admiration:
and he shall grow up out of his place: or, "from under him"
and he shall build the temple of the Lord; not a material temple, but the spiritual temple, the Church; called so in allusion to the temple of Jerusalem, built by Solomon; which was typical of the church, in the builder of it, Solomon, the church being built by Christ the antitypical Solomon, the true Peace, and Peacemaker; in the situation of it on a mount, which denotes the safety, visibility, and exalted state of the church; in the matter of it, being made of choice stones, and excellent timber, to which believers in Christ, who as lively stones are built up a spiritual house, are fitly compared; in the magnificence and stateliness of it, especially as the church will be in the latter day, when the glorious things spoken of it will be fulfilled; and in its strength and firmness, as well as in its holiness: and it is called "the temple of the Lord", because it is of his building, where he dwells, and where he is worshipped; and in the building of it Christ has a great concern; he is not only the foundation and cornerstone of it, but he is the chief, the master builder of it; he builds it on himself, and builds it up by his Spirit, his ministers, his word and ordinances, making thereby continually an increase of it, and additions to it; see Matthew 16:18.
Even he shall build the temple of the Lord,.... Which is repeated, as Kimchi observes, for confirmation sake:
and he shall bear the glory; that is, of building the temple; and the phrase denotes that the glory of it shall be upon him, shall be hung upon him, as in Isaiah 22:24 and so shall be visible; that it would be weighty and heavy, he having many crowns on his head, put there by all the saints, who everyone of them ascribe glory to him; that it would continue, and not pass away like the glory of this world; and that he, and he alone, should bear it; not Joshua, nor Zerubbabel, nor the ministers of the word, nor members of churches, nor any other, but himself; he, and he alone, shall be exalted:
and shall sit and rule upon his throne; in heaven, having done his work on earth, where he is at ease and rest, and exercises power and authority; he rules over the whole world, and the kings of it in general, and in particular over his saints, by his Spirit, word, and ordinates, feeding, protecting, and defending them:
and he shall be a Prince upon his throne; he is both Priest and King, and exercises both offices at one and the same time, and even now in heaven; having offered himself as a sacrifice on earth, by which he has put away sin for ever, and perfected his people; he is set down upon his throne, as a King crowned with glory and honour; and ever lives as a Priest the throne, to make intercession for them; by appearing in the presence of God for them; by presenting his blood, sacrifice, and righteousness, to his divine Father; by offering up the prayers and praises of his people; by declaring it as his will that such and such blessings be bestowed upon them; and by applying the benefits of his death unto them:
and the counsel of peace shall be between them both; not between Joshua and Zerubbabel, who should agree together, as they did, in the administration of government belonging to their distinct offices; rather between the priestly and kingly offices of Christ; nor the council of peace between the Father and the Son, concerning the salvation of the elect; for that was past in eternity; but better the Gospel of peace, called the whole counsel of God, which, in consequence of Christ being a Priest on his throne, was preached to both Jews and Gentiles; which brought the glad tidings of peace and salvation by Christ to both, and was the means of making peace between them both.
And the crowns shall be to Helem,.... The same with Heldai, Zechariah 6:10,
and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah; the same with Josiah, Zechariah 6:10,
for a memorial in the temple of the Lord; the crowns, after they had been put upon the head of Joshua, were taken off, and laid up in some part of the temple, of which the Jews make mention in their Misna
And they that are afar off shall come,..... Into the temple; not the material temple; nor is this a prophecy which was fulfilled in Herod, a stranger, repairing that, as Kimchi suggests; but into the spiritual temple, the church; and is a prophecy of the calling of the Gentiles, who are said to be "afar off", Ephesians 2:12, from God; from having his image on them; from subjection to his law; from the knowledge and fear of him; and from communion with him: from Christ; from the knowledge of his person, righteousness, and salvation by him; from love to him, faith in him, and fellowship with him; from the Spirit of God, and from the people of God, and from any solid hope of eternal life: now these being called by grace, and brought to Christ under the drawings of the Father's love, shall come to his church, and join themselves to his people:
and build in the temple of the Lord; upon the foundation Christ; and be useful in building up others, either by private conversation, or by public preaching the word; it is not said, they shall "build the temple of the Lord"; that is Christ's work; but "build in" it:
and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you; that is, the Prophet Zechariah, who was sent to the Jews to declare these things to them; or, as the Targum adds, "to prophesy unto you": which they would fully know, and be assured of, when these things should have their accomplishment:
and this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God; not that the fulfilment of the above predictions depended upon their obedience; but when they should in the latter day obey the Gospel of Christ, or "the word of the Lord" their "God", as the Targum paraphrases it; then this would come to pass, that they should know that the prophet had his mission from the Lord.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 6:4". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/zechariah-6.html. 1999.