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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 12

 

 

Verses 1-14


The Deliverance of Jerusalem

Many scholars believe that in Zechariah 12-14 (omitting Zechariah 13:7-9) we have a third separate prophecy, the oldest in the book of Zechariah, written subsequent to the death of king Josiah, 609 b.c. (cp. the mourning in the valley of Megiddon, Zechariah 12:11), but prior to the fall of the kingdom of Judah, 586 b.c. For this view there are some strong arguments—(a) frequent references to the House of David (Zechariah 12:7-8, Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 12:12; Zechariah 13:1); (b) Judah and Jerusalem represent the whole nation; (c) idolatry is rampant (Zechariah 13:2); (d) prophets are in evil repute (Zechariah 13:2-6 cp. Jeremiah 23:9-40); (e) Jerusalem is besieged (Zechariah 12:2; Zechariah 14:2 cp. 2 Kings 24:10; 2 Kings 25:1).

Others produce arguments, perhaps more conclusive, in favour of a much later date. On the applicability of the chapters to the times of the Maccabees see Intro.

1-9. The natives gather to the siege of Jerusalem, but are miraculously smitten by the Lord, who comes to her help. Judah, at first taking part with the nations, perceives that God is fighting for Jerusalem, takes the side of the latter, and shares her salvation.

10-14. A national mourning.

1. Burden] see Zechariah 9:1. God's omnipotence is the guarantee that this prophecy will be fulfilled.

2. Trembling] RV 'reeling.' The nations assailing Jerusalem would stagger like a drunken man. The figure is common: cp. Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 24:20; Jeremiah 51:7. Against Judah and against Jerusalem] This does not make sense; and most scholars, omitting two letters, render, 'Even Judah shall be at the siege of Jerusalem.' But, as no time is known when Judah was actively opposed to Jerusalem, it is simpler to read: 'And there shall be a siege against Jerusalem.'

3. Those nations that take in hand to capture and rule Jerusalem will find it difficult. Probably the idea is that of raising and carrying a boulder that is too heavy for a man's strength.

4. Every horse of the people] RV 'peoples,' i.e. nations attacking Jerusalem. The eyes of the Lord will be opened to look favourably upon His people, but their enemies will be blinded.

5, 6. The mutual reliance and helpfulness of Judah and Jerusalem. The victory is to be with Jerusalem, so that Judah may not boast over Jerusalem. The contrast between these two points to a post-exilic date, when the social and economic ideals of the city differed from those of the peasant population.

Jerusalem shall be inhabited again] 100,000 Jews were deported from Jerusalem by Ptolemy, king of Egypt, in 321 b.c.; 80,000 were either killed or carried away captive by Antiochus in 167 b.

6, 7. These vv. would refer more fittingly to the latter period, and the subsequent uprising of the Maccabees: cp. 1 Mac. On the Maccabsean revolt and the causes which led to it see Jos. 'Ant.' 15, 6, and 1 Mac. Judas Maccabæus drove the Syrians from the surrounding country of Judah before attempting to relieve Jerusalem.

8. The angel of the Lord] that led Israel in the wilderness: cp. Exodus 23:20.

10. Even repentance comes of the grace of God. Upon me] better, 'unto me.' The text is obscure. Some read 'him,' when the reference would be to some unknown martyr in the cause of Jerusalem,

11. The mourning is likened to some great national lamentation. Some connect it with the worship of Adonis (Tammuz, Ezekiel 8:14), taking Hadadrimmon as one of the titles of Adonis. Others refer it to a mourning over Ramman, the Assyrian thunder god; others ascribe the mourning to the sacrifice of children to this god; and many take it as the mourning at the death of Josiah, who was slain at Megiddo in the plain of Esdraelon. In any case, the ultimate application of the prophecy to the sufferings and death of Christ is most appropriate.

Megiddon] Elsewhere Megiddo—in central Palestine, the battlefield of Israel. Here fought Barak, Joshua, Saul, and Josiah; here the Jews believed would be the final battlefield of the nations—the Har-Magedon of Revelation 16:16. Such a place where so many had been slain might well be a place of mourning.

12-14. Every family apart] indicating the deep personal significance of the mourning. Such had doubtless been the mourning for Josiah, whose death was one of the greatest calamities that could have befallen the Jewish nation. The depth and reality of the mourning is shown by the singling out of certain leading families. Nathan] a son of David and Bathsheba. Levi] a son of Jacob, and progenitor of the priestly tribe which bears his name.

Shimei] son of Gershon (Exodus 6:17; Numbers 3:11). LXX reads, 'the family of Simeon.'

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 12:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/zechariah-12.html. 1909.

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