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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Zechariah 2

 

 

Verse 1

A man with a measuring line in his hand - Probably the Angel of the Lord, of whom Ezekiel has a like vision. Jerome: “He who before, when he lift up his eyes, had seen in the four horns things mournful, now again lifts up his eves to see a man, of whom it is written, “Behold a man whose name is the Branch” Zechariah 6:12; of whom we read above, “Behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees, which were in the bottom” Zechariah 1:8. Of whom too the Father saith; He builded My city, “whose builder and maker is God” Hebrews 11:10. He too is seen by Ezekiel in a description like this, “a man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass” Ezekiel 40:3, that is, “burnished and shining as fire, with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed” Ezekiel 1:7. The office also seems to be one of authority, not to measure the actual length and breadth of Jerusalem, but to lay down what it should be, (Cyril), “to mark it out broad and very long.”


Verse 3

The angel that talked with me went forth - Probably to receive the explanation which was given him for Zechariah; and another angel, a higher angel, since he gives him a commission, “went forth to meet him,” being (it seems probable) instructed by the Angel of the Lord, who laid down the future dimensions of the city. The indefiniteness of the description, another angel, implies that he was neither the Angel of the Lord, nor (were they different) Michael, or the man with the measuring line, but an angel of intermediate rank, instructed by one higher, instructing the lower, who immediately instructed Zechariah.


Verse 4

And said unto him, Run, speak unto this young man - The prophet himself, who was to report to his people what he heard. Jeremiah says, “I am a youth” Jeremiah 1:6; and, “the young man,” “the young prophet,” carried the prophetic message from Elisha to Jehu. “Youth,‘” common as our English term in regard to man, is inapplicable and unapplied to angels, who have not our human variations of age, but exist, as they were created.

Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls - Or as villages (see the notes at Habakkuk 3:14), namely, an unconfined, uncramped population, spreading itself freely, without restraint of walls, and (it follows) without need of them. Clearly then it is no earthly city. To be inhabited as villages would be weakness, not strength; a peril, not a blessing. The earthly Jerusalem, so long as she remained unwalled, was in continual fear and weakness. God put it into the heart of His servant to desire to restore her; her wall was built, and then she prospered. He Himself had promised to Daniel, that “Her street shall be rebuilt, and her wall, even in strait of times” Daniel 9:25. Nehemiah mourned 73 years after this, 443 b.c., when it was told him, “The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire” Nehemiah 1:3. He said to Artaxerxes, “Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers‘ sepulehres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?” Nehemiah 2:3. When permitted by Artaxerxes to return, he addressed the rulers of the Jews, “Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire; come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach; and they said, let us rise and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work” Nehemiah 2:17-18. When “the wall was finished and our enemies heard, and the pagan about us saw it, they were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God” Nehemiah 6:15-16.

This prophecy then looks on directly to the time of Christ. Wonderfully does it picture the gradual expansion of the kingdom of Christ, without bound or limit, whose protection and glory God is, and the character of its defenses. It should “dwell as villages,” peacefully and gently expanding itself to the right and the left, through its own inherent power of multiplying itself, as a city, to which no bounds were assigned, but which was to fill the earth. Cyril: “For us God has raised a church, that truly holy and far-famed city, which Christ fortifies, consuming opponents by invisible powers, and filling it with His own glory, and as it were, standing in the midst of those who dwell in it. For He promised; “Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world.” This holy city Isaiah mentioned: “thine eyes shall see Jerusalem, a quiet habitation; a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken” Isaiah 33:20; and to her he saith, “enlarge the place of thy, tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; spare not; lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left” Isaiah 54:2-3. For the church of Christ is widened and extended boundlessly, ever receiving countless souls who worship Him.” Rup.: “What king or emperor could make walls so ample as to include the whole world? Yet, without this, it could not encircle that Jerusalem, the church which is diffused through the whole world. This Jerusalem, the pilgrim part of the heavenly Jerusalem, is, in this present world, inhabited without walls, not being contained in vile place or one nation. But in that world, where it is daily being removed hence, much more can there not, nor ought to be, nor is, any wall around, save the Lord, who is also the glory in the midst of it.”


Verse 5

And I, Myself in My own Being, will be to her a wall of fire - Not protection only, an inner circle around her, however near an enemy might press in upon her, but destructive to her enemies. Isaiah says, “No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise in judgment against thee thou shalt condemn” Isaiah 54:17. Its defense, Isaiah says, shall be immaterial. “We have a strong city; salvation shall God appoint for walls and bulwarks” Isaiah 26:1; “thou shalt call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise” Isaiah 60:18). By a different figure it is said, “I will encamp about mine house because of the army” Zechariah 9:8.

And glory will I be in the midst of her - As Isaiah says, “The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory” Isaiah 60:19; and of Christ, “In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be Beauty and Glory - to the escaped of Israel” Isaiah 4:2.


Verse 6

Ho! ho! and flee - Such being the safety and glory in store for God‘s people in Jerusalem, He who had so provided it, the Angel of the Lord, bids His people everywhere to come to it, saving themselves also from the peril which was to come on Babylon. So Isaiah bade them, “Go ye forth of Babylon; flee ye from the Chaldaeans with a voice of singing; declare ye, tell this, utter it to the end of the earth; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob” Isaiah 48:20. “Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence; touch no unclean thing: go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord” Isaiah 52:11; and Jeremiah, “Flee ye out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the Lord‘s vengeance. He will render unto her a recompense” (Jeremiah 51:6, add. Jeremiah 50:8). “My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye, every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord” Jeremiah 51:45.

The words, “flee, deliver thyself,” imply an imminent peril on Babylon, such as came upon her, two years after this prophecy, in the fourth year of Darius. But the earnestness of the command, its repetition by three prophets, the context in isaiah and Jeremiah, imply something more than temporal peril, the peril of the infection of the manners of Babylon, which may have detained there many who did not return. Whence in the New Testament, the words are cited, as to the great evil city of the world; “Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you” 2 Corinthians 6:17; and under the name of Babylon; “I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues” Revelation 18:4.

For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven - The north country, although its capital and center was Babylon, was the whole Babylonian empire, called “the North” Jeremiah 1:13-14; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 6:1, Jeremiah 6:22; Jeremiah 23:8 because its invasions always came upon Israel from the north. But the book of Esther shows that, sixty years after this, the Jews were dispersed over the 127 provinces of the Persian empire, from India (the Punjab) to Ethiopia Esther 1:1; Esther 3:8, Esther 3:12-14; Esther 8:5, Esther 8:9, whether they were purposely placed by the policy of the conquerors in detatched groups, as the ten tribes were in the “cities of the Medes” 2 Kings 17:6, or whether, when more trusted, they migrated of their own accord. God, in calling them to return, reminds them of the greatness of their dispersion. He had dispersed them abroad as the four winds of heaven. He, the Same, recalled them.


Verse 7

Dwellest with the daughter of Babylon - The unusual idiom is perhaps chosen as expressive of God‘s tenderness, even to the people who were to be destroyed, from which Israel was to escape.


Verse 8

After the glory - Jonathan: “Which it is promised to bring upon you.” This being the usual construction, the words involve a great course of God‘s dealing, of first showing favor to those who will receive favor, then abandoning or punishing the rest; as, when the eight souls had been received into the ark, the flood came; when Lot and his had escaped out of Sodom, the fire came down from heaven; when Israel had passed the Red Sea, Pharaoh‘s hosts were drowned; the election obtained what israel sought for, the rest were blinded. “The glory” then would be the glory, of which God says, “I will be the glory in the midst of you” Romans 11:7.

But further He who speaketh is Almighty God, “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, He hath sent me; For lo I wave My hand against them - and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me; Lo I come and dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord, and many nations shall cleave unto the Lord in that day, and they shall be to Me a people and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know, that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you” Zechariah 2:8-10. In all which series of promises, the I, of whom Israel were to know that the Lord of hosts had sent Him, is the I, who affirms of Himself what belongs to Almighty God only, inflicting punishment on the enemies of Judah, indwelling the Church and people, receiving the pagan as His own; and it is precisely by all these acts of power and love, that Israel shall know that the Lord of hosts had sent Him.

(Jerome: “In what follows, ‹Thus saith the Lord of hosts, After glory, He hath sent Me‘ etc., the Saviour is introduced speaking, who, being Almighty God, saith that He was sent by the Father Almighty, not according to that whereby He was Almighty, but according to that, that, after glory, He was sent, “who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and was made obedient unto the Father even unto death; and that, the death of the Cross” Philemon 2:6. Nor is it marvel that Christ is called Almighty, in whose Person we read in the Apocalypse of John, “These things saith the faithful Witness - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which was and which is and which is to come, the Almighty” Revelation 1:5, Revelation 1:8, “to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth” Matthew 28:18; and who saith, “All things of the Father‘s are Mine” John 16:15. But if all things, that is, God from God, Lord from. Lord, Light from Light, therefore also Almighty from Almighty; for it cannot be, that diverse should be the glory of those whose Nature is One.”

For he who toucheth - So as to injure, you, “toucheth the apple of His eye,” that is, of Him who sent Him, Almighty God. So Jerome, Theodoret Others, as Cyril, of his own eye, turning to evil to himself; but the analogy of the other passages is against it), as in the song of Moses, “He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye” Deuteronomy 32:10; and David prays, “Keep me as the apple of the eye” Psalm 17:8.


Verse 9

For behold I will shake My hand against them - As God promised of old against the enemies of His people, and they shall be a spoil to those who served them habitually.

And ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent Me - Theodoret: “He was sent, not as God, but as Man. For as God He is equal to the Father. For He saith, “I am in the Father and the Father in Me, and, The Father who dwelleth in Me He doeth the works” John 14:10, and, “I and My Father are one” John 10:30, and “He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father” John 14:9. But He is sent, as man, fulfilling the dispensation for us, not lessening the divine nature. The prophet then intimated not the duality only, but the equality of the persons.”


Verse 10

Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion - It is a great jubilee of joy, to which Zion is invited. Thrice beside is she invited with this same word, and all for the restored or renewed Presence of God. “Cry aloud for joy, thou barren which bare not” Isaiah 54:1, as here, on the coming in of the Gentiles, “Cry aloud for joy, O daughter of Zion; jubilate, O Israel; rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem; the Lord, the King of Israel, is in the midst of thee” Zephaniah 3:14-15. “Shout and cry aloud for joy, O inhabitant of Zion; for great in the midst of thee is the Holy One of Israel” Isaiah 12:6. The source of joy is a fresh coming of God, a coming, whereby He should dwell abidingly among them: truly what is this, but the Incarnation? As John saith, “The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us” John 1:14; and, “Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and shall be their God” Revelation 21:3.

Cyril: “Hence too you may learn how great a subject of contentment above is the Presence of the Saviour upon earth. He could not then but bid the spiritual Zion, “which is the Church of the Living God” 1 Timothy 3:15, the most sacred multitude of those saved by faith, to cry aloud for joy and rejoice. But it was announced that He should come and be in the midst of her. For John saith to us, The Word “was in the world” John 1:10, and, being God, was not severed from His creatures, but He was Himself the Source of life to all living, and holding all things together to well-being and life; but “the world knew Him not” John 1:10: for it worshiped the creature. But He came among us, when, taking our likeness, He was conceived by the holy Virgin, and “was seen upon earth and conversed with men”, and the divine David witnesseth saying, “Our God shall come manifestly, and shall not keep silence” Psalm 50:3. Then also was there a haven for the Gentiles. For now no longer was the race of Israel alone taught, but the whole earth was engoldened with the evangelical preachings, and in every nation and country “great is His Name.”

Jerome: “This too is to be understood of the Person of the Lord, that He exhorts His people, being restored from the captivity to their former abode, to be glad and rejoice, because the Lord Himself cometh and dwelleth in the midst of her, and many nations shall believe in Him, of whom it is said, “Ask of Me and I will give Thee nations for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession” Psalm 2:8, and He shall dwell in the midst of them, as He saith to His disciples, “Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world” Matthew 28:20.


Verse 11

And many nations shall join themselves - cleaving to Him by a close union. Isaiah had so spoken of single proselytes Isaiah 56:3-6; Jeremiah had used the word of Israel‘s self-exhortation after the return from Babylon; “going and weeping,” they shall go and seek the Lord their God, saying, “Come and let us join ourselves unto the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten” Jeremiah 50:4-5. This Zechariah now predicts of “many nations.” The Jews were scarcely half-restored themselves, a mere handful. They had wrought no conversions among the pagan, yet prophecy continues its unbroken voice, “many nations shall join themselves unto the Lord.”

And shall be My people - Literally, “be to Me a people.” This is exactly the history of the Christian church, unity amid diversity; many nations still retaining their national existence, yet owned by God as one people and His own. The words are those in which God adopted Israel in Egypt; “I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be your God” Exodus 6:7. This was the covenant with them, “that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, that He may establish thee today for a people unto Himself, and that he may be unto thee a God” (Deuteronomy 29:12-13, add Leviticus 26:12; Deuteronomy 27:9; 1 Samuel 12:22; 2 Samuel 7:23-24; 2 Kings 11:17; 1 Chronicles 17:22; 2 Chronicles 23:16; Jeremiah 7:23; Jeremiah 11:4). The contrary was the title of the pagan, “not a people; with whom God said, I will move Israel to jealousy” Deuteronomy 32:21. The closeness of union Jeremiah expresses; “As the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave to Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord, that they might be unto Me for a people and for a name and for a praise and for a glory” Jeremiah 13:11. This was the object of the existence of Israel; to this it was to be restored Jeremiah 24:7; Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:1; Jeremiah 32:38 by conversion Ezekiel 11:20; Ezekiel 14:11; Ezekiel 36:28; Ezekiel 37:23, Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 8:8; to this special privilege of Israel “many nations” were to be admitted; yet not so as to be separate from Israel, for He adds, “and I will dwell in, the midst of thee,” Judah. God would dwell in His Church, formed of Israel and the Gentiles, yet so that the Gentiles should be grafted into Israel, becoming one with them.


Verse 12

And the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion - The inheritance of the Lord is the title which God commonly gave to Israel (Deuteronomy 4:20; Deuteronomy 9:26, Deuteronomy 9:29; 1 Samuel 26:19; 2 Samuel 14:16; 2 Samuel 20:19; 2 Samuel 21:3; 1 Kings 8:51; Psalm 28:9; Psalm 33:12; Psalm 68:10; Psalm 78:62, Psalm 78:71; Psalm 119:1; Psalm 106:40, Joel 2:17; Joel 3:2, (Hebrew) Isaiah 19:25; Isaiah 47:6; Jeremiah 12:7-9; Jeremiah 50:11). God is said to be the portion of Israel Jeremiah 10:16; Jeremiah 51:19; of the pious Psalm 16:5; Psalm 73:26; Psalm 119:57; Psalm 142:6; Lamentations 3:24; once only beside, is Israel said to be the portion of God Deuteronomy 32:9; once only is God said to inherit Israel, “Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance” Exodus 34:9. Zechariah unites the two rare idioms.

In the holy land - The land is again made holy by God, and sanctified by His Presence. So He calls the place where He revealed Himself to Moses, “holy ground” Exodus 3:5. So it is said, “the holy place” Leviticus 10:17; Leviticus 14:13, “the holy house” 1 Chronicles 29:3, “the holy ark” 2 Chronicles 35:3, “the holy city” Nehemiah 11:1, Nehemiah 11:18; Isaiah 48:2; Isaiah 52:1, “the holy mountain” Isaiah 27:13; Jeremiah 31:23; Zechariah 8:3, “the holy people” Isaiah 62:12, “the holy chambers” (Ezekiel 42:13 all), or, with reference to their relation to God who consecrates them, “My holy mountain” Psalm 2:6; Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 56:7; Isaiah 57:13; Isaiah 65:11, Isaiah 65:25; Isaiah 66:20; Ezekiel 20:40; Joel 2:1; Joel 3:17; Obadiah 1:16. Zephaniah 3:11, “Thy holy habitation” Exodus 15:13, “Thy holy dwelling-place” (Deuteronomy 26:15. “His holy hab.” Psalm 68:6; Jeremiah 25:30; Zechariah 2:1-13:17) “thy holy temple” (Psalm 5:8; Psalm 79:1; Psalm 138:2; Jonah 2:5, Jonah 2:8, “His holy temple,” Micah 1:2; Habakkuk 2:20), “Thy holy mountain” (Psalm 15:1; Psalm 43:3; Daniel 9:16. “His holy hill,” Psalm 3:5; Psalm 48:2; Psalm 99:9), “Thy holy oracle” Psalm 28:2, “Thy holy city” Daniel 9:24, “cities” Isaiah 64:9, “His holy place” Psalm 24:1-10:, “His holy border.” Psalm 78:54. It is not one technical expression, as people now by a sort of effort speak of “the holy land.” Everything which has reference to God is holy. The land is holy, not for any merits of theirs, but because God was worshiped there, was specially present there. It was an anticipation and type of “Thy holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee.” This land their fathers had “polluted with blood” Psalm 106:38; God says, “they defiled My land” Jeremiah 2:7; Jeremiah 3:9; Jeremiah 16:18; Ezekiel called her eminently, “the land that is not cleansed” Ezekiel 22:24. Now God said, “I will remove the iniquity of the land” Zechariah 3:9, and she was again a holy land, as hallowed by Him.

It is not a mere conversion of the pagan, But, as Isaiah Isaiah 2:3 and Micah Micah 4:2 foretold; a conversion, of which Jerusalem should be the center, as our Lord explained to the Apostles after His Resurrection, “that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” Luke 24:47.


Verse 13

Be silent - Literally, “hush all flesh, before the Lord” (see at Habakkuk 2:20, p. 207); man in his weakness Genesis 6:3; 2 Chronicles 32:8; Job 10:4; Psalm 56:4; Psalm 78:39; Isaiah 31:3; Jeremiah 17:5, “flesh and blood” in the language of the New Testament Matthew 16:17; 1 Corinthians 15:50; Galatians 1:16, before God his Maker. “All flesh,” the whole human race Genesis 6:12; Psalm 65:3; Psalm 145:21; Isaiah 40:5-6; Isaiah 49:26; Isaiah 66:23; Joel 3:1; Ezekiel 21:4, Ezekiel 21:9-10, is to be hushed before God, because His judgments, as His mercies, are over all.

For God ariseth - God seemeth to be quiescent, as it were, when He bears with us; to arise, when He puts forth His power, either for us, when we pray, “Lord, awake to help me” (Psalm 59:4, add Psalm 7:7; Psalm 44:24); or in displeasure. His “holy habitation” is alike the tabernacle 1 Samuel 2:29, 1 Samuel 2:32; Psalm 26:9; Psalm 68:6, temple 2 Chronicles 36:15, heaven Deuteronomy 26:15; Jeremiah 25:30; 2 Chronicles 30:27, since His presence is in all.

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Zechariah 2:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/zechariah-2.html. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 13th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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