Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 3rd, 2023
the First Week of Advent
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day and support a great cause!
Click here to learn more!

Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 3

Barnes' Notes on the Whole BibleBarnes' Notes

Search for…
Enter query below:

Verse 1

And He - God, (for the office of the attendant angel was to explain, not to show the visions) “showed me Joshua the high priest, standing before the Angel of the Lord;” probably to be judged by him ; as in the New Testament, “to stand before the Son of Man;” for although “standing before,” whether in relation to man or God, , expresses attendance upon, yet here it appears only as a condition, contemporaneous with that of Satan’s, to accuse him. Although, moreover, the Angel speaks with authority, yet God’s Presence in him is not spoken of so distinctly, that the high priest would be exhibited as standing before him, as in his office before God.

And Satan - Etymologically, the enemy, as, in the New Testament, “your adversary the devil” 1 Peter 5:8, etymologically, the accuser. It is a proper name of the Evil one, yet its original meaning, “the enemy, was not lost. Here, as in Job, his malice is shown in accusation; “the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God, day and night” Revelation 12:10. In Job Job 1:8-11; Job 2:3-5, the accusations were calumnious; here, doubtless, true. For he accused Job of what would have been plain apostacy Job 1:11; Job 2:5; Joshua and Zerubbabel had shared, or given way to, the remissness of the people, as to the rebuilding of the temple and the full restoration of the worship of God Ezra 3:1-13; Ezra 4:0. For this, Haggai had reproved the people, through them Haggai 1:1-11. Satan had then a real charge, on which to implead them. Since also the whole series of visions relates to the restoration from the captivity, the guilt, for which Satan impleads him with Jerusalem and Jerusalem in him, includes the whole guilt, which had rested upon them, so that for a time God had seemed to have cast “away His people” Romans 11:1. Satan “stands at his right hand,” the place of a protector Psalms 16:8; Psalms 109:31; Psalms 121:5; Psalms 142:4, to show that he had none to save him, and that himself was victorious.

Verse 2

And the Lord said unto Satan, The Lord rebuke thee - Jerome: “This they so explain, that the Father and the Son is Lord, as we read in the Psalms 110:1-7, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand.” The Lord speaketh of another Lord; not that He, the Lord who speaketh, cannot rebuke, but that, from the unity of nature, when the Other rebuketh, He Himself who speaketh rebuketh. For “he who seeth the Son, seeth the Father also” John 14:9. It may be that God, by such sayings , also accustomed people, before Christ came, to believe in the Plurality of Persons in the One Godhead. The rebuke of God must be with power. “Thou hast rebuked the nations, Thou hast destroyed the ungodly” Psalms 9:5. “Thou hast rebuked the proud, accursed” Psalms 119:21. “They perish at the rebuke of Thy Countenance” Psalms 80:16. “At Thy rebuke, O God of Jacob, both the chariot and horse are cast into a deep sleep” Psalms 76:6. “God shall rebuke him, and he fleeth far off, and shall be chased as the chaff of the mountains before the wind” Isaiah 17:13. “He rebuked the Red Sea and it dried up” Psalms 106:9. “The foundations of the world were discovered at Thy rebuke, O Lord” (Psalms 18:15, add Nahum 1:4). He “rebuked the seed” Malachi 2:3, and it perished; the devourer” Malachi 3:11, and it no longer devoured. The rebuke then of the blasted spirit involved a withering rejection of himself and his accusations, as when Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit and he departed out of his victim Mark 1:25-26; Mark 9:25; Luke 4:35; Luke 9:42.

The Lord hath chosen Jerusalem - Joshua then is acquitted, not because the accusation of Satan was false, but out of the free love of God for His people and for Joshua in it and as its representative. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect? It is God that justifieth. Who is he that condemneth?” Romans 8:33-34. The high priest, being “himself also compassed with infirmity, needed daily to offer up sacrifices first for his own sins, and then for the people’s” Hebrews 5:2-3. As Isaiah said, on the sight of God, “I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips” Isaiah 6:5, and, until cleansed by the typical coal, dared not offer himself for the prophetic office, so here Satan, in Joshua, aimed at the whole priestly office, and in it, at Israel’s relation to God.

Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? - Cyril: “As if he should say, Israel confessedly has sinned, and is liable to these charges. Yet it has suffered no slight punishment; it has endured sufferings, and has scarce been snatched out of them, as a half-burned “brand out of the fire.” For not yet had it shaken off the dust of the harms from the captivity; only just now and scarely had it escaped the flame of that most intolerable calamity. Cease then imputing sin to them, on whom God has had mercy.”

Verse 3

Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments - Such, it is expressed, was his habitual condition; he was one so clothed. The “filthy garment,” as defilement generally, is, in Scripture, the symbol of sin. “We are all as the unclean, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags” Isaiah 64:6. “He that is left in Zion and he that remaineth in Jerusalem shall be called holy - when the Lord shall have washed away the filth of the daughters of Zion” Isaiah 4:3-4. “There is a generation, pure in its own eyes, and it is not washed from its filthiness” Proverbs 30:12. The same is expressed by different words, signifying pollution, defilement by sin; “Woe unto her that is filthy and polluted” Zephaniah 3:1; “The land was defiled with blood” Psalms 106:38; “they were defiled with their own works”. It is symbolized also by the “divers washings” Hebrews 9:10 of the law, representing restored purity; and the use of the word by Psalmists and prophets; “Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity” Psalms 51:4; “wash you, make you clean; put away the evil of your doings from before Mine eyes” Isaiah 1:16; “O Jerusalem, wash thy heart from wickedness” Jeremiah 4:14. In later times at least, the accused were clothed in black , not in defiled garments.

Verse 4

And He spake to those who stood before Him - the ministering angels who had waited on the Angel of the Lord to do His bidding.

See, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee - The pardoning words of the Lord to David by Nathan, “The Lord too hath put away thy sin” 2 Samuel 12:13. “And clothe thee with change of raiment, that is, such as were taken off and reserved for great occasions. As the filthy garments were not necessarily other than the high priest’s vesture, symbolically defiled through the sins of the people, so neither need these be other than the priestly garments in their purity and freshness. The words imply the condition, not the nature of the vestment. (Cyril: “The high priest having been thus taken to represent the whole people, the filthy garments would be no unclear symbol of the wickedness of the people. For clad, as it were, with their sins, with the ill-effaceable spot of ungodliness, they abode in captivity, subject to retribution, paying the penalty of their unholy deeds. But when God had pity on them, He bade them be freed from their defilements, and in a manner re-clad with justifying grace. He indicates to them the end of their toils. For where remission of sin is, there follows of necessity freedom from the evils brought through sin.” He adds that a clean mitre should be put upon his head, (Cyril), “that so we might understand that the glory of the priesthood ever, in a sort, concurs with the condition of the people. For the boast of the priesthood is the purity of those in their charge. As then when the people was in sin, the raiment of the priest also was in a manner defiled, so if it were again well-approved, pure and bright is the fashion of the priesthood, and free its access to God. So the inspired Paul having ministered to the Gentiles the Gospel of Christ, seeing them advancing in graces, writes, “By your boast, brethren, which I have in Christ Jesus” 1 Corinthians 15:31, and, “my joy and crown” Philippians 4:1.

Verse 5

And I said, let them set a fair mitre on his head - This seems to have been purposely omitted, in order to leave something, and that, the completion of all, to be done at the intercession of the prophet. The glory and complement of the high priest’s sacrificial attire was the mitre with the “holy crown upon it and the plate of prate gold, on which was graven, Holiness to the Lord” Exodus 28:36-38; Exodus 29:6; which was to “be upon” the high priest’s “forehead, that he may bear the iniquity of the holy things which the children of Israel shall hallow in all their holy gifts; which was always to be upon his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.” The renewed gift of this was reserved for the intercession of man co-working with God.

And the angel of the Lord standing by - Seeing that all was done aright, and, now that the acquittal was complete, standing to give the charge.

Verse 6

And the angel of the Lord protested - Solemnly (etymologically, called God to witness) as in, “Did I not make thee swear by the Lord and protested unto thee” 1 Kings 2:42, laying it as an obligation upon him. The charge is given to Joshua, and in him to all successive high priests, while Israel should continue to be God’s people, as the condition of their acceptance.

Verse 7

If thou wilt walk in My ways and if thou wilt keep My charge - Both of these are expressions, dating from the Pentateuch, for holding on in the way of life, well-pleasing to God and keeping the charge given by God. It was the injunction of the dying David to Solomon, “Keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes ...” 1 Kings 2:3.

Then shalt thou also judge My house - Judgment, in the place of God, was part of the high priest’s office Deuteronomy 17:9-13; Deuteronomy 19:17; Malachi 2:7. Yet these judgments also were given in the house of God. The cause was directed to be brought to God, and He through His priests judged it. Both then may be comprehended in the world, the oversight of the people itself and the judgment of all causes brought to it. Jonathan: “Thou shalt judge those who minister in the house of My sanctuary.”

And I will give thee place to walk among those who stand by - that is, among the ministering spirits, who were “standing before the Angel of the Lord” Zechariah 3:4. This can be fully only after death, when the saints shall be received among the several choirs of angels. Jonathan: “In the resurrection of the dead I will revive thee and give thee feet walking among these Seraphim.” Even in this this since “our conversation is in heaven” Philippians 3:20, and the life of priests should be an angel-life, it may mean, that he should have free access to God, his soul in heaven, while his body was on this earth.

Verse 8

Thou and thy companions which sit before thee; yea men of marvelous signs are they - o It seems probable that the words addressed to Joshua begin here; else the “men of signs” would be the companions of Joshua, to the exclusion of Himself. His companions are probably ordinary priests, who sit as sharing his dignity as priest, but “before him,” as inferiors. So Ezekiel says, “I was sitting in my house, and the elders of Israel were sitting before me” Ezekiel 8:1. They are “images of the things to come” Hebrews 10:1. Isaiah’s two sons, with their prophetic names, “Haste-spoil speed-prey, and a-remnant shall-return,” were with his own name, “salvation-of-the-Lord, signs and portents” Isaiah 8:18 of the future Israel. Isaiah, walking naked and barefoot, was “a sign and portent” Isaiah 20:3 against Egypt. God tells Ezekiel, that in the “removal of his stuff, as stuff for the captivity, I have set thee for a portent unto the house of Israel” Ezekiel 12:6.

I, he explains his act, “am your portent; like as I have done, so shall it be done unto you” Ezekiel 12:11. When forbidden to mourn on the death of his wife; “Ezekiel is unto you for a portent; according to all that he hath done, shall ye do; and when this cometh, ye shall know that I am the Lord God” Ezekiel 24:24. Wherein then were Joshua and the other priests portents of what should be? One fact alone had stood out, the forgiveness of sins. Accusation and full forgiveness, out of God’s free mercy, were the substance of the whole previous vision. It was the full reinstatement of the priesthood. The priesthood so restored was the portent of what was to come. To “offer the offering of the people, and make an atonement for them; Leviticus 9:7; “to make an atonement for the children of Israel for all their sins once a year” Leviticus 16:34, was the object of the existence of the priesthood. Typical only it could be, because they had “but the blood of bulls and goats to offer, which could,” in themselves, “never take away sins” Hebrews 10:4. But in this their act they were portents of what was to come. He adds here, “For, behold, I will bring My Servant the Branch.”

The Branch - Had now become, or Zechariah made it, a proper name. Isaiah had prophesied, “In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be beautiful and glorious for the escaped of Israel” Isaiah 4:2; and, in reference to the low estate of him who should come, “There shall come forth a rod out of the stump of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots” Isaiah 11:1; and Jeremiah, “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth, and this is the name whereby He shall be called, The Lord our Righteouness” Jeremiah 23:5-6; and, “In those days and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David, and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land” Jeremiah 33:15. Of him Zechariah afterward spoke as, “a man whose name is the Branch” Zechariah 6:12.

Here Zechariah names him simply, as a proper name, “My servant, the, Branch,” as Ezekiel prophesied of “My servant David.” The title “My servant,” which is Isaiah’s chiefest title of the Messiah, occurs in connection with the same image of ills youth’s lowly estate, and of His atoning Death. “He shall grow up before Him as a sucker, and as a root from a dry ground” Isaiah 53:2; “a scion shall grow out of his roots” Isaiah 11:1. . Lest then God should seem to have spoken untruly, in promising to the legal priesthood that it should ever have the oversight over His house, there was need to fore-announce the mystery of Christ, that the things of the law should cease and He Himself should judge His own house through the Scion from Himself, His Son.

Osorius: “Look ye to the Branch of the Lord; set Him as the example of life; in Him, as a most strong tower, place with most becoming faith all your hope of salvation and immortality. For He is not only a Branch, who shall fill you with the richness of divine fruit, but a stone also, to break all the essays of the enemy.”

Verse 9

For behold the stone, that I hare laid before Joshua - This must be an expansion of what he had said, or the ground of it, being introduced by, for. It must be something future, to be done by God Himself, since God says, “I will grave the graving thereof;” something connected with the remission of sins, which follows upon that graying. The stone, then, cannot be the stone of foundation of the material temple (Rashi). For this had long before been laid. The head-cornerstone, the completion of the building , had nothing remarkable, why God should be said to grave it. The plumbline was not a part even of the material temple. “The stone is one stone.” But to interpret it by other prophecy, one stone there is, of which God says, “Behold I lay in Zion for a foundation, a stone, a tried stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation, he that believeth shall not make haste” Isaiah 28:16; that stone, of which our Lord reminded the Jews, “the stone which the builders refused is become the head-stone of the corner” ; “Jesus Christ Himself, the chief cornerstone, in whom all the building, fitly framed together, groweth into an holy temple in the Lord, in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit” Ephesians 2:20-21.

On this stone had Joshua, with all those typical priests, to look, in whom alone they and all have forgiveness, whose Sacrifice their sacrifices pictured and pleaded. “It,” says an old mystical Jewish book , a “is the stone of foundation, on which the earth is founded, which God Himself laid, that the world might receive blessing from it” . “The Shechinah is called the stone, through which the world subsisteth; of which it is said, ‘A stone of seven eyes, and, the stone which the builders refused.’” This “stone,” God says, I have laid or set before Joshua, that is, for him to consider; as He speaks to Solomon and his children, of “My commandments which I have set before you” 1 Kings 9:6.

Rup.: “That the stone is the Lord Jesus Christ, the head cornerstone, elect, laid as a foundation; and that the seven eyes on the one stone are the sevenfold Spirit of God which rested upon Him, is or ought to be unknown to no one. For to Him “God giveth not the Spirit by measure” John 3:34, and “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” Colossians 2:9. This stone was rejected by people, but chosen and honored by God.” Osorius: “This stone then, on which the house of God and our whole salvation resteth, is placed by God before that high priest. That is, the most holy Name of Jesus, the virtue piety and largeness of Jesus is, by the Divine Spirit, showed to the priest, that he might understand the End of the law and holiness, to whom all the actions of life and the offices of the priesthood were to be referred. In which stone was foreshown to the divine man, not the invisible strength only, but also the manifold light of the Divine Intelligence. For it follows;”

Upon this one stone are seven eyes - Whether they are the eyes of God, resting in loving care upon it, or whether, as the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision were “full of eyes round about” Ezekiel 1:18; Ezekiel 10:12, the eyes are pictured as on the stone itself, marking that it symbolized a being with manifold intelligence. Zechariah speaks of the eyes of “the Lord which run to and fro on the earth” Zechariah 4:10, and John, of the “Lamb, as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God, seat forth into all the earth” Revelation 5:6. Either symbol harmonizes with the context, and is admissible in language. before and afterward, I have laid it, I will engrave the graving thereof; and so it corresponds to the “It shall grow up before Him as a tender plant” Isaiah 53:2. But the contrast, that on one stone there are seven eyes, perhaps rather suggests that the eyes are on the stone itself, and He, the “Living Stone,” is pictured with an universality of sight, whereby, with a divine knowledge, He surveys and provides for the well-being of His whole Church. It has some analogy too to the sevenfold Spirit which was to rest upon Him. . “For this stone to have seven eyes is to retain in operation the whole virtue of the Spirit of seven-fold grace. For according to the distribution of the Holy Spirit, ones receives prophecy; another, knowledge; another, miracles; another, kinds of tongues; another, interpretation of words; but no one attaineth to have all the gifts of that same Spirit. But our Creator taking on Him our infirmities, because, through the power of His Divinity, He showed that He had at once in Him all the virtues of the Holy Spirit, united beyond doubt the bright gleams of the sevenfold constellation.” “None among men had together all the operations of the Holy Spirit, save the Mediator of God and man alone, whose is that same Spirit, who proceeds from the Father before all worlds.”

Osorius: “The stone is one. For as we have in God One Spirit, one faith, one sacrament of that most pure laver, so we worship One Christ, the one only Deliverer of the human race, and Author of our righteousness and everlasting salvation; and strengthened by His guardianship, we hope for immortality and eternal glory. Who, though He be One, governs all things with ineffable wisdom. For His wisdom is aptly described by the seven eyes. For the number seven generally describes an universality of good.”

Behold I will engrave the graving thereof - As of a costly stone. What the graving is, is not explained; but manifestly it is everything which concurs to its beauty. . “This stone is of earth, and of the power and workmanship of God.” . “It signifies Him who had His birth in virgin-earth, but framed skillfully by the power of the Holy Spirit.” That Precious Stone was further graven, through the providence and will of God, when Jerome: “He caused it to be wounded by the nails of the Cross and the soldier’s lance, and in His passion took away the iniquity of the earth in one day, of which it is written, “This is the day which the Lord hath made, we will rejoice and be glad in it” Psalms 118:24. Beautiful were the gifts and graces which Christ received, as Man; but beautiful beyond all beauty must be those glorious scars, with which He allowed His whole Body to be riven, that , “throughout the whole frame His love might be engraven.” Ribera: “What even in the Body of the Lord can be lovelier or more lightful than those five Wounds, which He willed to retain in His immortal Being, lest the blessed should be deprived of that splendor, surpassing far the light of sun had stars?”

And I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day - On “one day” in the year was the typical atonement; in one day absolutely, God Himself would make the iniquity of that land to depart. “One day” is always emphatic , that things are crowded into it, which seemed too much for one day. Year by year came the day of atonement: its yearly repetition showed that nothing lasting was effected. On “one day” that removal should be, which needed no renewal . A Jewish writer confessed the mystery, while he said, (Rashi), “One day; I know not what that day is.” Ask any Christian child, “On what day was iniquity removed, not from the land only, but from all lands?” he would say, “On the day when Jesus died.”

Verse 10

Under the vine and under the fig tree - Micah had already made the description of the peaceful days of Solomon 1 Kings 4:25, a symbol Micah 4:4 of the universal fearless peace of the time of Christ. Lap.: “Christ by His passion shall not only take away iniquity, but also bring peace, delight, free communication of all things, so that all things among Christians should be common. For the law of Christ enjoineth charity, forgiveness of injuries, patience, love of enemies etc., all which bring temporal peace.”

Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Zechariah 3". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/zechariah-3.html. 1870.
adsFree icon
Ads FreeProfile