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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers
Zechariah 10

 

 

Introduction

X.

This chapter is immediately connected with what precedes. The people are now directed to pray for that rain which alone could produce the fertility touched on in the concluding verses of Zechariah 9. It is probable, since the prophet mentions only the latter rain, that he was prophesying between the time of the former rains (Marcheshvan and Cislev), and of the latter rains (Nisan).


Verse 1

(1) Bright clouds.—Better, lightnings, which precede the longed-for rain. (Comp. Jeremiah 10:13; Psalms 135:7.)

Grass. . . .—Comp. Deuteronomy 11:15.


Verse 2

(2) Idols.—Better, as in margin, teraphim. (See on Judges 17:5.) Against the post-exilian origin of this passage, and of 13:2, it has been objected that idols and false prophets harmonise only with a time prior to the exile. It is true that after the captivity idolatry was not the sin to which the people were especially inclined, as they were in former times. Still, even if the prophet was not speaking of sins of the past, rather than those of his own day, it must be remembered that the marriage with heathen women, which is so often spoken of after the captivity, must have been, as was the case with Solomon, a continual source of danger in that respect. Moreover, idolatry, soothsaying, &c., were actually practised up to the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus. Thus we read of false prophets who opposed Nehemiah (Nehemiah 6:10-14), and of “sorcerers” in Malachi 3:5, and so, too, of false prophets in Acts 5:36-37; Acts 13:6, &c., and at the destruction of Jerusalem (Josephus, Bel. Jud. vi. 5, §§ 2, 3). And in the wars of the Maccabees we read (2 Maccabees 12:40), “under the coats of every one that was slain they found things consecrated to the idols of the Jannites, which is forbidden the Jews by their law.”

And have told false dreams.—Better, and dreams tell that which is vain. The prophet had, doubtless, in mind the words of Jeremiah 14:22 : “Are there any among the vanities of the Gentiles that can cause rain? or can the heavens give showers? Art not thou He, O Lord our God? therefore, we wait upon thee; for thou hast made all these things.” Zechariah refers here chiefly to those sins which had in former times caused their captivity. But such passages as Ezra 9; Nehemiah 13:23; Nehemiah 6:10; Nehemiah 6:12; Nehemiah 6:14, show that even after the restoration the people were in danger of falling into idolatry, and of being deceived by false prophets. (Comp. also Zechariah 13:2, and Note on Malachi 3:5.)

Went their way.—Better, migrated—viz., into captivity.

Troubled.—Or, humbled.

No shepherd.—i.e., none to guide and lead them aright. This is the interpretation which the context seems to require, and is in accordance with the use of the expression in Ezekiel 34:5; Ezekiel 34:8, as it is also our Lord’s application of the idea (Matthew 9:36; Mark 6:34); but some take “shepherd” here to mean native king. The paraphrase of the LXX., “because they had no healer” (meaning probably “because the True Shepherd of Israel had ceased to guide and protect them”) might possibly be defended.


Verse 3

(3) Was kindled.—Better, is kindled. (Comp. Note on Zechariah 8:2.)

Shepherds.—This term is used of native rulers and guides (Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 17:16; Jeremiah 23:1-4; Ezekiel 34:2, &c.), and also of foreign rulers and oppressors (Jeremiah 6:3-4; Jeremiah 25:34-38; Jeremiah 49:19).

I punished.—Better, I will punish.

The [he] goats are, probably, to be identified with “the shepherds” (as seems to be the case in Ezekiel 34), and both to be referred to foreign rulers and leaders, since the latter part of the verse seems to denote that the whole people (see Zechariah 10:6-7, and comp. Zechariah 9:13) is to be changed from a timid flock into a nation of warriors.


Verse 4

(4) Out of him.—Literally, from him. It is much disputed whether “him” means the Lord of Hosts or Judah. It appears to us best to take it as referring to “Judah”—i.e., to the whole Jewish nation.

Came forth.—Better, shall proceed. (Comp. Jeremiah 30:19; Jeremiah 30:21.)

Corner, or corner-stone, denotes a chieftain, on whom the whole national fabric is put together (1 Samuel 14:38; Isaiah 19:13).

Nail.—Also a chieftain, as him on which everything hangs, or depends (Isaiah 22:23); or the figure may be taken from the tent-peg which holds firm the ropes which support the tent.

Oppressor.—Either in the sense of ruler, as being one who keeps people to their work, or else it means oppressor of the heathen, and is so used in contrast with the heathen “oppressor” of Zechariah 9:8.

Together, or altogether, is added by way of emphasis. The meaning of the passage is that when the Lord of Hosts visits His flock, He will cause to arise from them such rulers and leaders as may be necessary to enable them to successfully resist their enemies.


Verses 5-7

(5-7) The preceding idea is now further dwelt on, and Ephraim not merely implicitly, but explicitly (as in Zechariah 9:13-16) included in the promise as one with Judah (Ezekiel 37:16-17; Ezekiel 37:22). For a fulfilment of the promises contained in this passage, see 1 Maccabees 3:39; 1Ma_4:7; 1Ma_4:31; 1Ma_6:30; 1Ma_6:35; 1Ma_9:4; 1Ma_9:11; 1Ma_10:73; 1Ma_10:77; 1Ma_15:13, &c.


Verse 8

THE FURTHER REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL (Zechariah 10:8-12).

(8) A yet further redemption of Israel was to take place before the consummation of these victorious promises. Some critics have considered this passage as conclusive against the assumption of a post-exilic origin of these latter chapters. But Zechariah 8:8 speaks in similar terms: “And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem;” and yet the genuineness of that passage has never been called in question. The fact is that the restoration under Zerubbabel was most incomplete: only some 42,360 returned from exile under him. There was a further return of exiles under Ezra, in 458 B.C., some twenty years posterior to the probable date of the prophecies contained in these last chapters, and numbers, no doubt, returned at various other times.

I have redeemed.—The decree had gone forth, and had been already, in part, executed.

As they have increased.—viz., in times past (e.g., Exodus 1:8). Jeremiah communicates a similar promise (Jeremiah 30:19-20).


Verse 9

(9) Sow is never used in a bad sense, i.e., “to scatter,” but rather means to spread and multiply (Hos. ; Jeremiah 31:27). There is, therefore, no word here of a new dispersion of the people, but rather of an increasing and in-gathering.

Shall live with.—Comp. Ezekiel 37:14.—i.e., survive with. They will “turn again,” because they “remember” God in the land of their captivity, and feel a yearning for the place where He hath set His name again.


Verse 10-11

(10, 11) These verses are evidently worded after the analogy of Isaiah 11:11-16. Compare especially the mention of Egypt and Assyria, the reference to the dividing of the Red Sea, and the unity of Ephraim and Judah, as spoken of by Isaiah (Isaiah 10:13), and by our prophet in the foregoing passage.

Egypt is, no doubt, mentioned here as the typical oppressor of Israel (Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3), as the exodus is the typical deliverance (Isaiah 11:16).

Assyria may be mentioned (and not Babylon or Persia), because it was thither that the ten tribes (Ephraim) were carried away; or “out of Egypt and Assyria” may be looked upon as a stereotyped expression for deliverance; or, again, “Assyria” may actually denote Persia, as in post-captivity times the king of Persia in Babylon is often called the king of Assyria (e.g., Ezra 6:22; 2 Kings 23:29; Judith 1:7; Judith 2:1; Herod. i. 178-188). The second interpretation seems to us the best, in view of the figurative reference to the passage of the Red Sea in Zechariah 10:11.

Gilead and Lebanon represent the old territory of the ten tribes on the other side and on this side of Jordan.


Verse 11

(11) He.—That is, God.

The sea with affliction.—Better, the sea [where is] affliction, or straitness; unless, with Ewald, we read “sea of affliction.” On the construction in the Hebrew, see my Student’s Commentary, pp. 95, 44.

 


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Bibliography Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Zechariah 10:4". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/zechariah-10.html. 1905.

Lectionary Calendar
Monday, December 9th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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