Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, June 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 6

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-15

The Eighth Vision. The Symbolic Crowning

1-8. Four war-chariots, with variously coloured horses, go forth to execute God’s judgments against the enemies of oppressed Israel in different parts of the earth. Two, in particular, go. northwards, to ’quiet His spirit’ (i.e. to satisfy His anger) upon Babylon.

9-15. Zechariah is commanded to take gold and silver from the Temple offerings, and make a crown for Joshua the high priest. At the same time, the Messiah (’Branch’) is again promised. Under Him the Temple will be completed with the help of people from afar, probably returned exiles.

1. It is noteworthy that the first vision showed God’s universal providence in mercy (messengers coming from all parts of the earth), the last vision reveals God’s universal providence in judgment (war chariots going forth in all directions). And I turned, and lifted] RV ’Then again I lifted.’ In Heb. to ’turn’ and do something is to do it ’again.’ Chariots] used for military purposes, and also on state occasions, therefore symbolical of power and majesty. They are four because they go to the four quarters of the earth.

3. Grisled and bay] lit. ’spotted, vigorous.’ It is difficult to explain the two adjectives. The first etymologically means ’spotted as with a hailstorm’; and those who see a significance in the colours of the horses connect hail with the judgment which the fourth chariot carries: cp. Revelation 8:7; Revelation 16:21. The second adjective has, in reality, no reference to colour (see RM), and some scholars omit it. Grisled] = ’grizzled,’ ’grey.’

5. The four spirits of the heavens] RV ’winds’ (the word for ’wind’ in Heb. means also ’spirit,’ i.e. breath); but would the prophet speak of winds ’standing before the Lord’? The addition of a single letter in the Heb. gives the following reading: ’These (i.e. the chariots and horses) go forth to the four winds of heaven after they have presented themselves before the Lord.’

6. North country] Babylonia. South country] Egypt. Egypt, like Babylon, was at this time part of the Persian empire, Cambyses having overcome the Egyptians in the battle of Pelusium in 527 b.c. Two of the chariots go north, a double doom on Babylon. But some scholars consider that the Heb. words for ’behind them’ (RV ’after them’) are a corruption for words meaning ’to the east.’

7. Through the earth] as a reserve force to go wherever they may be required, but some scholars read ’to the west.’ Bay] or ’strong.’ Some read ’red,’ see RM.

The reading of the vision is somewhat complicated, but its meaning is clear. Jehovah will defend Judah against her enemies, and especially He will deprive Babylon of the power to do her harm.

8. Quieted my spirit in] lit. ’caused my spirit to rest in.’ The meaning may be either, (1) ’brought peace to,’ or (2) ’sated my fury by stirring up trouble in.’ The historical situation supports the second interpretation. Even while Cambyses was yet alive (in 522 b.c.) the magician Gautama, who pretended to be Smerdis, the brother of Cambyses, had been proclaimed king. Cambyses died of an accidental wound on his way to fight Gautama. The latter was in turn slain by Darius, who ascended the Persian throne in 521. Immediately revolts broke out in all parts of the empire, which were not subdued finally till 514.

9-15. A party of Jews had just come from Babylon. Zechariah is instructed to take part of the silver and gold which they have brought for the Temple, and to make a set of circlets for Joshua, the high priest. Thus he will more fully be a type of One to come, who is both Priest and King to His people.

11. Then take silver] RV ’yea, take of them silver.’ Crowns] some read ’a crown.’

12. 13. These vv. are somewhat difficult. The simplest way out of the difficulty is to suppose that, after the word head in Zechariah 6:11, the words ’of Zerubbabel and’ have accidentally fallen out. This explains the use of the plural ’crowns’ in Zechariah 6:11, Zechariah 6:14, but it does not explain why only one of these rulers is addressed in Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13. Many scholars hold that the crown is really for Zerubbabel, the civil ruler, whose name, for political reasons, has been suppressed, and. that Zechariah 6:12-13 refer to him, as fulfilling the prophecy of the Branch (see Isaiah 11:1) and completing the Temple. However this may be, the ultimate fulfilment of the prophecy is in Him, through whom we have the far more glorious Temple, ’not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.’

13. And he shall be a priest] RM ’there shall be a priest.’ If the preceding clauses refer to Zerubbabel, this would refer to Joshua. We should then have a clear meaning for the following sentence, ’and the counsel of peace shall be between them both,’ i.e. these two (Joshua and Zerubbabel) would rule together in harmony. Thus these vv. give the same thought as the vision of the golden candlestick.

14. The crowns (RV ’crown’) are to be laid up in the Temple, as a memorial of the generosity of the deputation which brought the silver and gold. Helem should probably be ’Heldai’; Hen seems to be a corruption of ’Josiah’: see Zechariah 6:10.

15. As a sign of the fulfilment of Zechariah’s word, more people will come (from Babylon) to assist in completing the Temple. And this shall come to pass, if] better, ’and it shall come to pass that if.’ The v. breaks off unfinished.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 6". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/zechariah-6.html. 1909.
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