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7:1-8:23 A QUESTION ABOUT CERTAIN FASTS
Mourning over the past (7:1-14)
In captivity the Jews had instituted four fasts to mourn the destruction of Jerusalem. One fast was in the tenth month, which was the month the Babylonians laid siege to the city. One was in the fourth month, to mark the day eighteen months later when the Babylonians broke through the walls and invaded the city. Another was in the fifth month, to mark the destruction of the temple. The other was in the seventh month, to mark the murder of Gedaliah, the last Jewish ruler in Jerusalem (see 8:18-19; cf. 2 Kings 25:1-4,2 Kings 25:8-9,2 Kings 25:25).
Now that the temple was beginning to take shape (for it had been under construction more than two years) a question arose in the minds of certain Jews. With the temple rebuilt, should they still keep the fasts that had been instituted in Babylon as memorials of destruction (7:1-3)?
Zechariah replies that those fasts had no value in God’s sight anyway. Self-pity, not repentance towards God, was what prompted the people to keep them. Furthermore, the destruction they commemorated came about only because they had been disobedient to God’s prophets. Through their own stubbornness, the people were driven out of what used to be a prosperous land (4-7).
The Jews of Zechariah’s day should not repeat the sins of their ancestors. Rather they should show their obedience to God in lives of active justice, love and mercy towards their fellows. They must avoid the temptation to exploit those who, for one reason or another, are disadvantaged (8-10). The heartless attitude of their ancestors towards the needy was a reflection of a more deep-seated problem, their hardness of heart towards God (11-12). Because they ignored God’s instruction to them through the prophets, God ignored their prayers to him when the enemy attacked. As a result they were taken into foreign captivity (13-14).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Brideway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent