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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 14

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes


“The Jews,” Jerome says, “say that these things are to be fulfilled under Gog; others that they were accomplished in part, in the times of the Macedonians, Egyptians, and other nations. We, leaving the truth of the time to the judgment of the Lord, would explain what is written.” Eusebius points out that it cannot be said to have been fulfilled under Antiochus Epiphanes; “If any think that these things are, then let him consider again and again, whether he can refer the rest of the prophecy also to the times of Antiochus; as, that ‘the feet of the Lord stood on the mount of Olives’ Zechariah 14:4, that ‘the Lord in that day’ Zechariah 14:9, became ‘king over the whole earth;’ and so, as to the rest of the prophecy.” And although more was fulfilled in the last siege by the Romans, still those who would explain it solely of this, are obliged to mingle explanations partly literal, as that Jerusalem should be the earthly Jerusalem, which was destroyed, partly metaphorical, as to the mount of Olives, its division into two parts etc. It seems then probable that, like the kindred prophecy of Joel Joel 2:30; Joel 3:18, it relates chiefly to the time of the end, and that as our Lord unites the destruction of Jerusalem with His Coming in the Day of Judgment, so here are united that first destruction with the last rebellion of man, in the times of antichrist. Since then much or most may be yet future, it seems safer, as Jerome suggests, to explain the prophet’s symbolic language, leaving the times of the fulfillment to Him, in whose hands they are.

Verse 1

Behold the Day of the Lord cometh - Literally, “a day cometh, the Lord’s,” in which He Himself shall be Judge, and no longer leave man to fulfill his own will, and despise God’s; in which His glory and holiness and the righteousness of all His ways shall be revealed.

And thy spoil shall be in the midst of thee - Jerome: “How great will the strait be, that the spoils should be divided in the midst of her. It often happens that what, by a sudden assault, is plundered in the city, is divided in the field or in solitude, lest the enemy should come upon them. But now there will be such a heavy weight of ills, such will be the security of conquest, that the spoils shall be divided in the midst of the city.”

Verse 2

I Will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle - This is a feature which belongs to the end. It had been dwelt upon by Joel; Joel 3:2-9, Joel 3:11; Ezekiel spoke of the “many nations” Ezekiel 38:6, Ezekiel 38:15, Ezekiel 38:22 which should come under Gog. John foretells of an universal strife at the end, when “The spirits of devils, working miracles, go forth unto the king; of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty” Revelation 16:14; and “Satan shall be loosed out of his prison and shall go out to deceive the nations which are in the four quarters of the earth, Gog and Magog, to gather them together to battle, the number of whom is as the sand of the sea. And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints round about, and the beloved city” Revelation 20:7-9. Since no creature can do aught but what God wills, and, in his phrensy against God’s people, is but His instrument, “to try them and to purge and to make white to the time of the end” Daniel 11:35; Daniel 12:10; and the strength of body or intellect, which is abused against His law, He continuously in the order of nature supplies, God may be said to do what Satan does against Him. Satan, in his blind fury, crowns martyrs, fills the thrones of heaven, works, against his will, the All-wise Will of God.

And the houses rifled, and the women ... - The horrors of pagan war repeat themselves through people’s ever-recurring passions. What was foretold as to Babylon is repeated in the same words as to the Church of God. Seemingly “all things” come “alike to all Ecclesiastes 9:2 : there is one event to the righteous and to the wicked; to the good and to the clean and to the unclean: to him that sacrificeth and to him that sacrificeth not: as is the good, so is the sinner.” The outward event is the same, the hidden part is known to God alone. “And the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city,” unlike the lot of the earthly Jerusalem, in the destruction both by Nebuchadnezzar (which was past) and the Romans (see at Micah 3:12, pp. 46-50). At the first, “Nebuzaradan, the captain of the guard, carried away the rest of the people left in the city, and the fugitives that fell away to the king of Babylon, with the remnant of the multitude” 2 Kings 25:11, so that Jeremiah mourned over it, “Because of the mountain of Zion which is desolate, foxes walk” (habitually) “upon it” Lamentations 5:18. The Romans (see at pp. 46, 47) “effaced the city.” Now “a remnant is not cut off,” because “for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened” Matthew 24:32; for our Lord had said, that “the gates of hell should not prevail against” His Church Matthew 16:18.

Verse 3

The Lord shall go forth and shall fight - Jerome: “Is to be taken like that in Habakkuk, ‘Thou wentest forth for the salvation of Thy people, for salvation with Thine Anointed” Habakkuk 3:13, and in Micah, ‘For behold, the Lord cometh forth out of His place, and will come down and will tread upon the high places of the earth, and the mountains shall be molten under Him, and the valleys shall be cleft” Micah 1:3-4; and Isaiah also, “The Lord shall go forth as a mighty man; He shall stir up jealousy like a man of war; He shall cry; He shall prevail over His enemies” Isaiah 42:13. “God is said to ‘go forth,’ when by some wondrous deed He declares His Presence - His Deity is, as it were, laid up, so long as He holds Himself in, and does not by any token show His power. But He ‘goes forth,’ and bursts forth, when He exercises some judgment, and worketh some new work, which striketh terror.” God then will “go forth out of His place,” when He is constrained to break through His quietness and gentleness and clemency, for the amendment of sinners. He who elsewhere speaketh through the prophet, ‘I, the Lord, change not’ Malachi 3:6, and to whom it is said, ‘Thou art the same’ Psalms 102:28, and in the Epistle of James, ‘With whom is no change’ James 1:17, now ‘goeth forth’ and fighteth ‘as in the day of battle,’ when He overwhelmed Pharaoh in the Red sea; and ‘fought for Israel.’” “The Lord shall fight for you,” became the watchword of Moses Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 1:30; 13:22; Deuteronomy 20:4 and the warrior Joshua in his old age (Joshua 23:10; compare Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3), after his life’s experience Joshua 10:14, Joshua 10:42; Joshua 23:3, and Nehemiah. “Be not afraid by reason of this great multitude” Nehemiah 4:20, said Jahaziel, son of Zachariah, when the “Spirit of the Lord came upon” him; “for the battle is not your’s, but God’s” 2 Chronicles 20:15.

As He fought in the day of battle - Osorius: “All wars are so disposed by the power of God, that every victory is to be referred to His counsel and will. But this is not seen so clearly, when people, elate and confident, try to transfer to themselves all or the greater part of the glory of war. Then may the war be eminently said to be the Lord’s, when no one drew sword, as it is written, “The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace” Exodus 14:14. Of all God’s wars, in which human insolence could claim no part of the glory, none was more wondrous than that, in which Pharaoh and his army were sunk in the deep. “The Lord,” said Moses Exodus 15:3, “is a man of war: the Lord is His Name.” “That day of battle” was the image of one much greater. In that, Pharaoh’s army was sunk in the deep; in this, the power of evil, in Hell: in that, what could in some measure be conquered by human strength, was subdued; in this, a tyranny unconquerable; in that, a short-lived liberty was set up; the liberty brought by Christ through subdual of the enemy, is eternal. As then the image yields to the truth, earthly goods to heavenly, things perishable to eternal, so the glory of that ancient victory sinks to nothing under the greatness of the latter.”

Verse 4

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives - “Over against Jerusalem to the east, wherein riseth the Sun of Righteousness.” The Mount of Olives is the central eminence of a line of hills, of rather more than a mile in length, overhanging the city, from which it is separated only by the narrow bed of the valley of the brook Cedron. It rises 187 feet above Mount Zion, 295 feet above Mount Moriah, 443 feet above Gethsemane, and lies between the city and the wilderness toward the dead sea: around its northern side, wound the road to Bethany and the Jordan . There, probably, David worshiped 2 Samuel 15:32; his son, in his decay, profaned it 1 Kings 11:7; Josiah desecrated his desecrations 2 Kings 23:13; there “upon the mountain, which is on the east side of the city, the glory of the Lord stood,” when it had “gone up from the midst of the city” Ezekiel 11:23; it united the greatest glory of the Lord on earth, His Ascension, with its deepest sorrow, in Gethsemane. Since the Angel said, “This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven” Acts 1:11, the old traditional opinion is not improbable, that our Lord shall come again to judge the earth, where He left the earth, near the place of His Agony and Crucifixion for us. So shall “the Feet” of God literally, “stand upon the Mount of Olives.” Elsewhere it may be that “the Feet of the uncircumscribed and simple God are to be understood not materially, but that the loving and fixed assistance of His power is expressed by that name” (Dionysius).

Which is true, or whether, according to an old opinion, the last act of antichrist shall be an attempt to imitate the Ascension of Christ (as the first antichrist Simon Magus was said to have met his death in some attempt to fly) and be destroyed by His Coming there, the event must show.

And the Mount of Olives shall cleave - (be cleft) in (from) the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west that is, the cleft shall be east and west, so as to form a “very great valley” through it - from Jerusalem toward the Jordan eastward; and this shall be, in that “half of the mountain shall remove northward, and half thereof southward.” If this be literal, it is to form an actual way of escape from Jerusalem; if figurative, it symbolizes how that which would be the greatest hindrance to escape, the mountain which was higher than the city, blocking, as it were, the way, should itself afford the way of escape; as Zechariah speaks, “O great mountain, before Zerubbabel” thou shalt become a “plain” Zechariah 4:7; and Isaiah, “Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill shall be brought low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain” Is. Isaiah 40:4; that is, every obstacle should be removed.

Verse 5

And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains - Rather, along the valley of My mountains namely, of those mountains, which God had just formed by dividing the mount of Olives. “For the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal, that is, Azel,” the same word which enters into Beth-Azel of Micah, where the allusion probably is to its firm-rootedness. It is more probable that the name of a place should have been chosen with an allusive meaning, as in Micah, than that an unusual appellative should have been chosen to express a very common meaning. Cyril had heard of it as the name of a village at the extremity of the mountain. Elsewhere it might very probably have been destroyed in the destructive Roman wars: The Roman camp in the last siege must have been very near it . The destruction of villages, after the frantic revolt under Bar-Kochba, was enormous.

Yea, ye shall flee like as ye fled from before the earthquake - An earthquake in the time of Uzziah, whose memory survived the captivity to the time of Zechariah, nearly two centuries, must have been very terrible, but no historical account remains of it, Josephus having apparently described the past earthquake in the language which Zechariah uses of the future (see the introduction to Amos). Such an earthquake is the more remarkable a visitation in Jerusalem, because it was out of the line of earthquakes. These were to the north and east of Palestine: within it, they were almost unknown (see Amos 4:11, vol. i. p. 286). Interpositions of God even in man’s favor, are full of awe and terror. They are tokens of the presence of the all-holy among the unholy. Fear was an accompaniment of special miracles in the Gospel, not only among the poor Gadarenes Mark 5:15; Luke 8:25, or the people , but even the Apostles ; apart from the effect of the sight of angels on us who are in the flesh . It is then quite compatible, that the valley so formed should be the means of deliverance, and yet an occasion of terror to those delivered through it. The escape of the Christians in Jerusalem to Pella, during the break of the siege, after the withdrawal of Cestius Gallus was a slight image of this deliverance.

And the Lord thy God shall come, and all the saints with Thee, O God - The prophet, having spoken of God as “my God,” turns suddenly to speak to Him, as present. Jerome on Zechariah 14:6-7 : “This is manifestly said of the second Coming of the Saviour, of which John too in his Apocalypse says, ‘Behold He shall come with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they also which pierced Him’ Revelation 1:7. And the Lord Himself in the Gospel declareth, that ‘the Son of Man shall come in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory’ Matthew 24:30. He shall ‘come with the clouds,’ that is, with the angels, who are ‘ministering spirits’ and are sent for different offices, and with the prophets and apostles.” Ribera: “Whenever Scripture says that the saints and angels come with Christ, it is always speaking of His second Coming, as in that, ‘When the Son of Man shall come in His glory and all His holy angels with Him’ Matthew 25:31, and in the Epistle of Jude, ‘Behold the Lord cometh with ten thousand of His saints, to execute judgment’ Jude 1:14-15.”

Verse 6

The light shall not be clear nor dark - Or, more probably, according to the original reading , “In that day there will be no light; the bright ones will contract themselves,” as it is said, “The stars shall withdraw their shining.”

This is evermore the description of the Day of Judgment, that, in the presence of God who is Light, all earthly light shall grow pale. So Joel had said, “The sun and moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” Joel 3:15. And Isaiah, “The moon shall be confounded and the sun ashamed, when the Lord of hosts shall reign in Mount Zion and in Jersalem and before His ancients gloriously” Isaiah 24:23; and, “Behold the day of the Lord cometh, The stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine” Isaiah 13:9-10. All know well our Lord’s words Matthew 24:29. John, like Zechariah, unites the failure of the heavenly light “with a great earthquake, and the sun became as sackcloth of hair: and the moon become as blood; and the stars of heaven fell upon the earth” Revelation 6:12-13.

Verse 7

And it shall be one day: it shall be known unto the Lord: not day, and not night; and at the eventide it shall be light - “One” special “day; one,” unlike all beside; known unto God, and to Him alone. For God alone knows the day of the consummation of all things, as He saith, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no one, neither the angels in Heaven, nor the Son, (so as to reveal it) but the Father only” Mark 13:32. Neither wholly “day,” because overclouded with darkness; nor wholly “night,” for the streaks of light burst through the darkness chequered of both; but in “eventide,” when all seems ready to sink into the thickest night, “there shall be light.” Divine light always breaks in, when all seems darkness; but then the chequered condition of our mortality comes to an end, then comes the morning, which has no evening; the light which has no setting; “perpetual light, brightness infinite;” when “the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun shall be sevenfold” Isaiah 30:26; and “the glory of God doth lighten” Revelation 21:23 the eternal city, “and the Lamb is the light” thereof; and “in Thy light we shall see light” Psalms 36:9. “Christ shall be to us eternal light, a long perpetual day.”

Verse 8

And it shall be, that living waters - Kimchi: “This is what is said in the prophecy of Joel, ‘A fountain shall come forth from the house of the Lord’ Joel 3:18; and in that of Ezekiel, ‘And behold there ran out waters.’ Ezekiel 47:2.” Zechariah leaves to the mind to supply what the former prophets had said of the fertilizing life-giving character of those waters. He adds that they should pervade the whole land, west as well as east; “to the former,” rather “the Eastern Sea” , into which they would by nature flow, and toward “the hinder,” that is, the Western Sea, the Mediterranean, which natural waters could not “reach.” This their flow, he adds, should be perpetual , “These streams shall not dry up and their waters shall not fail”; therefore drought shall not lessen them, nor winter-cold bind them. “From Jerusalem as from a fountain shall stream forth living waters of wisdom and grace to all nations” .

Cyril: “Again he tells us, under a figure, that exceeding great and large shall be that outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon the saints, especially when they shall be removed to that holy eternal life in the world to come. For now through faith in Christ we are enriched, as with an earnest, with the firstfruits of the Holy Spirit. But after the Resurrection, sin being wholly taken away, the Holy Spirit will be in us, not as an earnest or in a measure; but richly bounteously and perfectly shall we enjoy the grace through Christ. He calleth, then, ‘living water,’ the Spirit which, he says, will come forth from the Jerusalem which is from above. But that the Holy Scripture is accustomed to liken the Divine Spirit to ‘water,’ the Giver thereof, the Son, accredits, saying, ‘he that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, Out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water’ John 7:38. This the Evangelist explains, ‘This spake He of the Spirit, which they who believe in Him should receive’ John 7:39. Since then the Spirit is life-giving, rightly does he liken it to that, which is life-giving to the frame.”

Verse 9

And the Lord shall be king over all the earth - Such should be the influence of the living water, that is, of the Spirit of God. God who has ever reigned and will reign, “a great King over all the earth” Psalms 47:3, Psalms 47:8, shall be owned by His creatures, as what He is.

There shall be one Lord - More exactly, “The Lord shall be One, and His Name One.” He had before prophesied, “I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land” Zechariah 13:2. The Church being thus cleansed, no other lord or object of worship should be named but “Himself.” This is one of those prophecies, of continued expansion and development, ever bursting out and enlarging, yet never, until the end, reaching its full fulfillment. Dionysius: “Since in this life we contemplate God in His effects, in which His whole perfection shineth not forth now we know Him obscurely and imperfectly, His perfections being in divers diversely represented. In our home we shall see Him as He is, face to Face, through His Essence. Therefore then He will be represented by one name, as He shall be beheld by one gaze.”

Verse 10

All the land shall be turned as a plain from Rimmon to Gebah - Kimchi: “All the land, which is round about Jerusalem, which is now mountains, as is said, “The mountains are round about Jerusalem” Psalms 125:2, shall be level as a plain, but Jerusalem itself shall be exalted, and high above all the earth.” The dignity of the Church, as “a city set upon a hill, which cannot be hid” Matthew 5:14, is symbolized here by the sinking of all around and its own uprising; as in Micah and Isaiah, “The mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills” Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1. Gebah, literally, hill,” now, “Jeva,” was a frontier-garrison, held once by the Philistines 1 Samuel 14:5, and fortified by Asa 1 Kings 15:22, in the northern boundary of Benjamin , together with Michmash (1 Sam. loc. cit.) (now Mukhmas), commanding an important pass, by which Jerusalem was approached Isaiah 10:28-29. “Rimmon, south of Jerusalem” is mentioned in Joshua among the southern towns of Judah Joshua 15:32, given to Simeon Joshua 19:7; 1 Chronicles 4:32. Both survived the Captivity . They mark then the north and south of the kingdom of Judah, a long mountain chain, which is pictured as sinking down into a plain, that Jerusalem alone might be exalted.

From Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate - Benjamin’s gate must obviously be a gate to the north, and doubtless the same as “the gate of Ephraim” , the way to Ephraim lying through Benjamin. This too has probably reference to the prophecy of Jeremiah, that “the city shall be built to the Lord from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner” Jeremiah 31:38. “Jehoash, king of Israel, broke down the wall of Jerusalem from the gate of Ephraim to the corner-gate, four hundred cubits” 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 25:23, after the war with Amaziah. Zechariah seems to speak of Jerusalem, as it existed in his time. For the tower of Hananeel Nehemiah 3:1 still existed; the “first gate” was probably destroyed, since he speaks not of it, but of its “place;” the gate of Benjamin and the corner-gate probably still existed, since Nehemiah Nehemiah 3:1, Nehemiah 3:3, Nehemiah 3:6, Nehemiah 3:13-15 mentions the building of the sheep-gate, the fish-gate, the old gate, or gate of the old city, the valley-gate, the dung-gate, the gate of the fountain; but not these.

Verse 11

And they shall dwell in it - In peace, going forth from it, neither into “captivity,” nor in flight Zechariah 14:2, Zechariah 14:5; for God should exempt from curse the city which He had chosen, against which the gates of hell shall not prevail, and He says of the heavenly Jerusalem, “there shall be no more curse” Revelation 22:3.

Verse 12

Again, upon the restoration of His people follows the destruction of His enemies. It shall, first and chiefly, be God’s doing, not man’s. “This shall be the plague.” The word is used of direct infliction by pestilence, “wherewith the Lord shall smite all the people (peoples) that fought against Jerusalem.” The awful description is of living corpses. Lap.: “The enemies of Jerusalem shall waste, not with fever or disease, but by a plague from God, so that, being sound, standing, living, in well-being, they should waste and consume away,” as Isaiah speaks of the “carcasses of the men, that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die - and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh” Isaiah 66:24.

Their flesh shall consume away - Rather, “wasting away the flesh of each one.” It is the act of God, in His individual justice to each one of all those multitudes gathered against Him. One by one, “their eyes,” of which they said, “let our eye look on Zion” Micah 4:11, that is, with joy at its desolation, “shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue,” wherewith they blasphemed God, “shall consume away in their mouths” (compare Psalms 12:3; Isaiah 36:15, Isaiah 36:18; Isaiah 37:3-4, Isaiah 37:17, Isaiah 37:23, Isaiah 37:29). Appalling, horrible, picture! “standing on their feet,” yet their flesh mouldering away as in a grave-yard, their sightless balls decaying in their holes, the tongue putrefying in their mouth, a disgust to themselves and to others! Yet what, compared to the horrible inward decay of sin, whereby men “have a name that they live and are dead?” Revelation 3:1. Jerome: “Let us read Ecclesiastical histories, what Valerian, Decius, Diocletian, Maximian, what the savagest of all, Maximin, and lately Julian suffered, and then we shall prove by deeds, that the truth of prophecy was fulfilled in the letter also.”

Verse 13

A great tumult - And panic fear, such as God said He would send upon the Canaanites before Israel Deuteronomy 7:23, or on Israel itself, if disobedient Deuteronomy 28:20; or which fell on the Philistines after Jonathan’s capture of the garrison at Michmash, when every man’s “sword was against his fellow” . There is no real unity, except in God; elsewhere, since each seeks his own, all must be impregnated with mutual suspicion, ready at any moment to be fanned into a flame; as when, at the blowing of Gideon’s trumpets, “the Lord set every man’s sword against his fellow” Judges 7:22; or when, at Jehoshaphat’s prayer, “the children of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir, utterly to slay and destroy; and when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, every one helped to destroy another” 2 Chronicles 20:32.

And they shall lay hold, every one on the hand of his neighbor - Every one shall be every one’s foe. Each shall, in this tumultuous throng, grasp the other’s hand, mastering him powerfully. “And his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor,” as was prophesied of Ishmael, “his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him” Genesis 16:12.

Verse 14

And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem - This seems more probable than the alternative rendering of the English margin, “against.” For Judah is united with Jerusalem as one, in the same context Zechariah 14:21; and, if it had shared with the pagan, it must also have shared their lot. It is Judah itself, not “a remnant of Judah,” as it is “every one that is left of all the nations” Zechariah 14:16, which is thus united to Jerusalem: it is that same Judah, as a whole, of which it is said, “it shall fight.” Nor is anything spoken of” conversion,” which is said of those left from the pagan nations, who had fought against her. Yet for Judah to have joined an exterminating pagan war against Jerusalem, even though constrained, had, like the constrained sacrifices to pagan gods, been apostasy. But there is not even a hint that, as Jonathan apologetically paraphrases , they were “constrained.”

The war is to be Judah’s free act: “Judah also shall fight.” Again, those gathered against Jerusalem, and their warfare against it, had been described at the outset, as “all nations” (Zechariah 14:2-3 : here the subject is not the gathering or fighting, but the overthrow. Nor is there any decisive contrary idiom; for, although when used of people, it always means “fight against,” yet, of place, it as often, means “fight in”. Probably then the prophet means, that not only should God fight for His people, but that “Judah also” should do its part, as Paul says, “We, then, as workers together with Him” 2 Corinthians 6:1; and, “we are laborers together with God” 1 Corinthians 3:9; and, “I labored more abundantly than they all; yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” 1 Corinthians 15:10; or, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” Philippians 2:12. God so doth all things in the Church, for the conversion of the pagan, and for single souls, as to wait for the cooperation of His creature. : “God made thee without thee; He doth not justify thee without thee.”

And the wealth of all the pagan round about shall be gathered - Whatever the world had taken in their war against the Church shall be abundantly repaid. “All the pagan” had combined to plunder Jerusalem; “the wealth of all the pagan” Zechariah 14:2 shall be gathered to requite them. Lap.: “As Isaiah says, The nations, converted to Christ, brought all their wealth to the Church, whence he congratulates the Church, saying, “Thou shalt also suck the milk of the Gentiles, and shalt suck the breasts of kings - For brass I will bring gold, and for iron I will bring silver” Isaiah 60:16-17; under which he typically understands, (Dionysius), “wisdom, philosophy, eloquence, learning, and all the other arts and sciences, liberal and mechanical, wherewith the pagan shall be adorned, who are converted to the faith. So shall the gifts of nature be perfected by the gifts of grace, and ‘they’ shall defend the Church who erstwhile attacked it.”

Verse 15

And so shall be the plague of the Lord ... - Dionysius: “So, when God sendeth the plague, all the irrational animals of antichrist and his satellites shall perish as the aforesaid men, who used them, perished. For, for the sins of men, God, to their greater confusion, sometimes slays their beasts, sometimes also for their loving correction.” “The imagery is from the Mosaic law of the ban. If a whole city became guilty of idolatry, not the inhabitants only, but the beasts were to be destroyed Deuteronomy 13:15, so that here, in miniature, should be repeated the relation of the irrational to the rational part of the creation, according to which, for the sins of men, ‘the creature is,’ against its will, ‘made subject to vanity.’ Analogous is it also, that on the offence of Achan Joshua 7:24-25, beside him and his children, his oxen, asses and sheep were (stoned and) burned with him.”

Verse 16

Every one that is left of the nations - God so gives the repentance, even through His visitations, that, in proportion to the largeness of the rebellion and the visitation upon it, shall be the largeness of the conversion. “Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles shall be fulfilled” Luke 21:24. And Paul, “Blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles shall be come in; and so all Israel shall be saved” Romans 11:25-26. Hitherto prophets had spoken of a “remnant” of Jacob, who should “return to the mighty God” Isaiah 10:21, and should be saved; now, upon this universal rebellion of the pagan. He foretells the conversion of a remnant of the pagan also.

Shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts - There is a harmony between the rebellion and the repentance. The converted shall go to worship God there, where they had striven to exterminate His worshipers. The prophet could only speak of the Gospel under the image of the law. “The Feast of Tabernacles” has its counterpart, not, like the Pascha or the Pentecost, in any single feast, but in the whole life of the Gospel. It was a thanksgiving for past deliverance; it was a picture of their pilgrim-life from the passage of the Red Sea, until the parting of the Jordan opened to them the entrance to their temporary rest in Canaan (see at greater length Hosea 12:9, vol. i. p. 122). Jerome: “In that vast, wide, terrible wilderness, where was no village, house, town, cave, it made itself tents, wherein to sojourn with wives and children, avoiding by day the burning sun, by night damp and cold and hurt from dew; and it was ‘a statute forever in their generations; ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all, that are Israelites born, shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know, that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt’ Leviticus 23:41-43.”

Lap.: “Much more truly do Christians keep the feast of tabernacles, not once in the year only, but continually, unceasingly. This is, what Peter admonisheth, ‘Dearly beloved, I beseech you, as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts’ 1 Peter 2:11. And Paul often teacheth that we, like Abraham, are strangers on earth, but ‘citizens’ of heaven ‘with the saints, and of the household of God’ Ephesians 2:19. ‘Faith,’ he says, ‘is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. By faith Abraham sojourned in the land of promise as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise; for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God’ Hebrews 11:1, Hebrews 11:9-10.” Jerome: “As long as we are in progress, in the course and militant, we dwell in tabernacles, striving with all our mind to pass from the tabernacles to the firm and lasting dwelling-place of the house of God. Whence, also holy David said, ‘I am a stranger with Thee and a sojourner, as all my fathers were’ Psalms 39:12. So speaketh he, who is still in Egypt and yet placed in the world. But he who goeth forth out of Egypt, and entereth a desert from vices, holdeth his way and says in the Psalm, ‘I will pass through to the place of the tabernacle of the Wonderful unto the house of God’ (Psalms 41:5, Vulgate). Whence, also he says elsewhere, ‘How amiable are Thy dwellings. Thou Lord of hosts; my soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord’ and a little after, ‘Blessed are they who dwell in thy house, they shall be alway praising Thee’ Psalms 41:4. ‘The voice of rejoicing and salvation is in the tabernacles of the righteous’ Psalms 118:15. ‘One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord and to enquire in His temple’ Psalms 27:4.

Whoso dwelleth in such tabernacles, and hastes to go from the tabernacles to the court, and from the court to the house, and from the house to the temple of the Lord, ought to celebrate the feast of Tabernacles etc.” It symbolizes how, (Dionysius), “in the New Testament, Christians, being delivered through Christ from the slavery to sin and satan, and sojourning in this vale of misery, by making progress in virtues go up to the home of the heavenly paradise, the door of glory being open by the merit of the Lord’s Passion, and so the faithful of Christ celebrate the feast of tabernacles; and, after the destruction of antichrist, they will celebrate it the more devoutly, as there will then be among them a fuller fervor of faith.”

Verse 17

Whoso will not go up - Cyril: “To those who ‘go not up,’” he threatens the same punishment as persecutors would endure. For enemies, and they who will not love, shall have the same lot. This is, I think, what Christ Himself said, ‘Whoso is not with Me is against Me, and whoso gathereth not with Me scattereth’ Luke 11:23.”

Upon them there shall be no rain - Rain was the most essential of God’s temporal gifts for the temporal well-being of His people. Moses marked out this, as his people were entering on the promised land, with recent memory of Egypt’s independence of rain in Egypt itself, and that this gift depended on obedience. “The land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, whence, ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs” Deuteronomy 11:10-11 : but a “land of hills and valleys, it drinketh water of the rain of heaven; a land which the Lord thy God careth for; the eyes of the Lord are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year. And it shall be, if ye shall hearken diligently unto My commandments - I will give you the rain of your land in its season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn and thy wine and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.”

But the threat on disobedience corresponded therewith. “Take heed to yourselves,” Moses continues, “that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside and serve other gods - and the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit, and ye perish quickly from off the good land, which the Lord giveth you” Deut. 16-17; and, “Thy heaven, that is over thee, shall be brass, and the earth, that is under thee, shall be iron; the Lord shall make the rain of thy land powder and dust” Deuteronomy 28:23-24. Amos speaks of the withdrawal of rain as one of God’s chastisements (Amos 4:7. See vol. i. p. 28): the distress in the time of Ahab is pictured in the history of the woman of Sarepta 1 Kings 17:9-16, and Ahab’s directions to Obadiah 1 Kings 18:5. But it is also the symbol of spiritual blessings; both are united by Hosea Hosea 6:3 and Joel Joel 2:23. as Joel and Amos also speak of spiritual blessings exclusively under the figure of temporal abundance Joel 3:18; Amos 9:13. In Isaiah it is simply a symbol, “Drop down, ye heavens, from above, and let the skies pour down righteousness; let the earth open, and let them bring forth salvation, and let righteousness spring up together” (Isaiah 45:8. See also Isaiah 5:6, both together Isaiah 30:23)

Verse 18

And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain - Rather, “and there shall not be.” It may be that the prophet chose this elliptical form, as well knowing that the symbol did not hold as to Egypt, which, however it ultimately depended on the equatorial rains which overfilled the lakes which supply the Nile, did not need that fine arrangement of the rains of Autumn and Spring which were essential to the fruitfulness of Palestine. The omission leaves room for the somewhat prosaic supply of Jonathan, “The Nile shall not ascend to them.” More probably the words are left undefined with a purposed abruptness, “there shall not be upon them,” namely, whatever they need: the omission of the symbol in these two verses might the more suggest, that it is a symbol only. Egypt, the ancient oppressor of Israel, is united with Judah as one, in the same worship of God, as Isaiah had said, “In that day shall Israel be the third with Egypt and with Assyria” Isaiah 19:24; and since it is united in the duty, so also in the punishment for despising it.

Osorius: “Let not Egypt be proud, that it is watered by the Nile, as if it needed no rain: that is, let no one be secure in this life. For though we stand by faith, yet may we fall. For although bedewed by the efflux of divine grace, and filled with its richness, yet if we give not thanks continually for such great gifts, God will count us as the rest, to whom such copious goodness never came. The safety of all then lies in this, that while we are in these tabernacles, we cherish the divine benefits, and unceasingly praise the Lord, who hath heaped such benefits upon us.”

Cyril: “Under the one nation of the Egyptians, he understands those who are greatly deceived, and chose idolatry most unreasonably, to whom it will be a grave inevitable judgment, the pledge of destruction, that they despise the acceptable grace of salvation through Christ. For they are murderers of their own souls, if, when they could lay hold of eternal life and the divine gentleness, open to all who will choose it and put off the burden of sin, they die in their errors; the stain and pollution from transgression and error uncleansed, although the Divine Light illumined all around and called those in darkness to receive sight. Of each of these I would say, ‘Better is an untimely birth than he; for he cometh in with vanity, and departeth in darkness, and his name shall be covered with darkness” Ecclesiastes 6:3-4. “Good had it been for them, if they had never been born” Matthew 26:24, is the Saviour’s word. That this is not said of the Egyptians only, but shall come true of all nations, who shall altogether be punished, if they are reckless of the salvation through Christ and honor not His festival, he will establish in these words;

Verse 19

This shall be the sin of Egypt and the sin of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles - For before the coming of the Saviour, good perhaps had been in part the excuse of the pagan, that they had been called by none. For no one had preached unto them. Wherefore the Saviour also, pointing out this in the Gospel parables, said, ‘the laborers’ Matthew 20:7, called ‘at the eleventh hour, said, No man hath hired us.’ But when Christ cast His light upon us, ‘bound the strong man’ Matthew 12:29, removed from his perverseness those subject to him, justified by faith those who came to Him, laid down His life for the life of all, they will find no sufficient excuse who admit not so reverend a grace. It will be true of the pagan too, if Christ said of them, ‘If I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin: but now they have no cloke for their sin’ John 15:22.”

The prophet says “sin,” not punishment , for sin includes “the punishment,” which is its due, and which it entails: it does not express the punishment, apart from the sin. It was “the sin” which comprised and involved all other sin, the refusal to worship God as He had revealed Himself, and to turn to Him. It was to say, “We will not have” Him “to reign over us” Luke 19:14.

Verse 20

In that day there shall be upon the bells of the horses, Holiness unto the Lord - He does not say only, that they should be consecrated to God, as Isaiah says of Tyre, “Her merchandise and her hire shall be holiness to the Lord” Isaiah 23:18; he says that, “the bells of the horses,” things simply secular, should bear the same inscription as the plate on the high priest’s forehead. Perhaps the comparison was suggested by the bells on the high priest’s dress ; not the lamina only on his forehead, but bells (not as his, which were part of his sacred dress), bells, altogether secular, should be inscribed with the self-same title, whereby he himself was dedicated to God.

Holiness to the Lord - He does not bring down what is sacred to a level with common things, but he uplifts ordinary things, that they too, should be sacred, as Paul says, “whether ye eat or drink or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God” 1 Corinthians 10:31.

And the pots of the Lord’s house shall be like bowls before the altar - The pots are mentioned, together with other vessels of the Lord’s house Ezekiel 38:3; 1Ki 7:45; 2 Kings 25:14; 2 Chronicles 4:11, 2 Chronicles 4:16; Jeremiah 52:18-19, but not in regard to any sacred use. They were used, with other vessels, for dressing the victims 2 Chronicles 35:13 for the partakers of the sacrifices. These were to be sacred, like those made for the most sacred use of all, “the bowls for sprinkling,” whence, that sacrificial blood was taken, which was to make the typical atonement.

Verse 21

And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness to the Lord - Everything is to be advanced in holiness. All the common utensils everywhere in the people of God shall not only be holy, but “holiness,” and capable of the same use as the vessels of the temple.

And there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts - The actual Canaanite had long since ceased to be; the Gibeonites, the last remnant of them, had been absorbed among the people of God. But “all Israel” were not “of Israel.” Isaiah had called its princes and people, “rulers of Sodom, people of Gomorrah” Isaiah 1:10. Ezekiel had said, “Thus saith the Lord God unto Jerusalem; Thy birth and thy nativity is of the land of Canaan; thy father was an Amorite, and thy mother a Hittite” Ezekiel 16:3. Hosea used at least the term of two-fold meaning, “Canaan, in whose hands are the balances of deceit” Hosea 12:7; and Zephaniah, “All the people of Canaan are destroyed” Zephaniah 1:11. After the time of the Canon, Daniel is introduced saying, “O thou seed of Canaan and not of Judah” . Ezekiel had spoken of ungodly priests, not only as uncircumcised in heart (according to the language of Deuteronomy Deuteronomy 10:16; Deuteronomy 30:6), but uncircumcised in flesh also, altogether alien from the people of God Ezekiel 44:7. The prophet then speaks, as Isaiah, “It shall be called the way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it” Isaiah 35:8, and Joel, “then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more” Joel 3:17 This shall have its full fulfillment in the time of the end. “There shall in no wise enter into it anything that defileth, neither” whatsoever “worketh abomination or a lie;” and, “without” are “dogs and sorcerers and whoremongers and murderers and idolaters, and whatsoever loveth and maketh a lie” Revelation 21:27; Revelation 22:15.

Cyril: “Although born of the blood of Israel, those of old eagerly imitated the alien Canaanites. But after that the Only-Begotten Word of God came among us, and, having justified by faith sealed with the Holy Spirit, those who came to His grace, our mind hath been steadfast, unshaken, fixed in piety. Nor will anyone persuade those who are sanctified, to honor any other god save Him who is, by nature and in truth, God, whom we have known in Christ. For in Himself He hath shown us the Father, saying, “He that hath seen Me hash seen the Father” John 14:9. Wherefore “in that” day, that is, at that time, he says, “there shall be no Canaanite,” that is, alien and idolater, “in the house of the Lord Almighty?” Theodoret: “But may the Almighty God bring the saying true at this time also, that no Canaanite should be seen among us, but that all should live according to the Gospellaws. and await that blessed hope and the appearance of our great God and Saviour Jesus Christ, with whom be glory to the Father with the Holy Spirit, now and ever and to endless ages. Amen.”

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Zechariah 14". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/zechariah-14.html. 1870.
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