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The Sixth and Seventh Visions
1-4. A flying roll inscribed with curses comes down upon the earth. The previous visions had promised many blessings to the people; and the sixth and seventh teach that wickedness will be removed from the land; for if evil still remained, the blessings would be worthless. The first part of this process consists in the punishment of evildoers. The flying roll signifies the sin of the evildoer coming home to roost.
5-11. The Seventh Vision: A woman (typifying the besetting sins of Israel) is shut up in an ephah-measure, and carried off to the land of Shinar, the detested and sinful place, where she finds a fitting abode.
1. A flying roll] Rolls were of skin or parchment, on which all writing was inscribed. The document was rolled up much in the same way as a wall-map is rolled now. This roll was evidently unfolded, flying like a bird of prey, and seemed of enormous size (Zechariah 5:2).
2. He] the attendant angel who is God’s immediate messenger to Zechariah. Twenty cubits] over 30 ft.
3. Earth] RV ’land,’ i.e. Palestine. For every one that stealeth, etc.] better, perhaps, ’for every thief shall be swept away from hence.’ But the expressions are difficult. The exact meaning of the phrase ’on the one side according to it.. on the other side according to it’ (RV) is most obscure. LXX renders, ’For every thief shall suffer death.’ Some scholars refer the phrases to the roll, which does not seem likely. Others, by a very slight change in the Heb., render, ’For every thief has been too long unpunished, and every (false) swearer has been too long unpunished.’ It is probable that there is a reference to certain people who did not subscribe to the rebuilding of the Temple, swearing (falsely) that they had no money.
4. Shall remain] RV ’shall abide,’ but better, ’shall roost,’ The idea is still of this roll as a huge bird of prey, descending upon the home of the evildoer and utterly consuming it. Zechariah’s aim is still to encourage his desponding countrymen. Never again will the nation, as a whole, suffer for sin; only the sinner and his house shall perish.
6. Ephah] the greatest measure among the Jews, a round vessel holding about 7 gals. This vision describes the fulfilment of the promise given in Zechariah 3:9. Resemblance] A very slight change of one Heb. letter gives the reading, ’This is their transgression in all the land.’ This makes much better sense. The prophet is referring to the deep consciousness of sin which weighs upon the people from the high priest downward.
7. A talent of lead] lit. ’a circle or round piece of lead,’ the heavy lid of the ephah. The later use of the word is ’talent,’ a Jewish weight somewhat over 1 cwt. When the lid was lifted, the woman was disclosed in the ephah.
8. Cast it into] RV, ’cast her down into.’ The woman, typifying the sin of the nation, is thrust down into the ephah and covered with the lid.
9. The wind was in their wings] bore them along like long-winged birds (’storks’) on a windy day.
11. Shinar] i.e. Babylonia: see Genesis 10:10; Genesis 11:2; Isaiah 11:11. Here regarded as the counterpart of Zion and the proper home of all that is evil, especially of sins such as fraud and false swearing. The vision is remarkable. God not only forgives the sins of His people, but carries them altogether away from their land, that they may deceive them no more. Sin is typified by the figure of a woman; but it is worthy of note that it is through women that the land is purified from its sin.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 5". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 20 / Ordinary 25