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Warnings From the Past
Chs.7 and 8 go together, and were spoken on a date (fourth day of the ninth month in the fourth year of Darius) two years later than the series of visions described above, viz. in 518 b.c. (On contemporary events see on Zechariah 6:8.) They are Zechariah’s answer to a question put to him by certain visitors to Jerusalem, who asked whether the fast observed by the Jews in the fifth month, in memory of the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, should still be kept. Zechariah says, ’No; God demands not fasts, but observance of moral laws, by neglecting which your forefathers suffered punishment.’ Zechariah 8. God has assuredly come to dwell with His people. The Messianic age is at hand. Fast days will soon become joyful feast days; and even the heathen will desire to worship with the Jews.
1. In the fourth year of king Darius] 518 b.c. Chisleu] or ’Chislev,’ corresponds very nearly to December.
2. When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer] RV ’now they of Beth-el had sent Sherezer.’ The v. is difficult. Some scholars suggest the translation: ’Now Bethel, Sharezer, and Regem-melech.. had sent’; or, ’Now Bel-Sharezer sent Regem-melech.. and his men.’ This latter is the reading favoured by those who think the deputation came from Babylon. But from what follows it is evident that the deputation was a local one—from Bethel rather than from Babylon. To pray before the Lord] RV ’to entreat the favour of God.’
3. Separating myself] The word is the root whence the term ’Nazirite’ is derived. The fast involved abstinence from other things besides food and drink: see Leviticus 16:29, Leviticus 16:31.
5. Fifth and seventh month] The fasts were four (see Zechariah 8:19), viz. in the fourth month commemorating the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6-7), in the seventh month for the murder of Gedaliah (2 Kings 25:25), in the tenth month for the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 39:1), and specially in the fifth month when the Temple was burned (Jeremiah 52:12-14). But these fasts seemed now out of place. The form remained, but the spirit was gone.
7. Rather than lay stress on these mechanical devices of religious faith, they should study the words spoken by the old prophets, such as Amos and Hosea, before the exile, before the south land was denuded of its inhabitants.
8. Most scholars omit Zechariah 7:8: the sense is preserved. Zechariah 7:9 tells us what the former prophets said.
9, 10. Cp. Hosea 6:6; Isaiah 1:16-20; Micah 6:6-8; Jeremiah 5:21-23.
11. Pulled away the shoulder] like an obstinate man refusing to listen to good advice, turning away quickly when a hand is laid upon his shoulder: cp. ’to give the cold shoulder.’
12. Hath sent] better, ’had sent.’
14. The prophet wishes to emphasise the truth, that to obey God’s word is the supreme demand of religious life: cp. 1 Samuel 15:22. The rejection of God’s message in days gone by brought desolation and exile. The true fast is to abstain from sin, and to listen to the voice of God.
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Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent