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2. The restoration of the true people ch. 10
The first part of this oracle focused particularly on the true King who would come and exercise sovereignty over the nations (ch. 9). Now the emphasis changes to the people of the King, the Israelites, who will return to the Promised Land and rule with the King (ch. 10). Like the revelation in chapter 9, this chapter also has a near and a far fulfillment, the near being the revival of Israel’s power under Judas Maccabeus in the second century B.C. and the far being the return and reign of Messiah.
"Chapter 9 presents the victory of God’s people from the positive side for the most part, showing how the true Israel shall be made strong by the Lord and shall prevail. Without abandoning this point of view, chapter 10 brings greater emphasis to bear upon the negative side of the victory, namely, how the enemies shall be brought low. Yet particular stress is at the same time laid upon the gathering of the scattered Israelites." [Note: Leupold, p. 189.]
The Lord urged His people, in the day of blessing just described, to ask Him to send rain when they needed it in the spring, when they sowed their seed. He promised to send it, and it would cause their crops and other vegetation to grow (cf. Zechariah 9:11; Deuteronomy 11:13-14). Asking Him is only reasonable since He is the One who creates storm clouds. The Canaanites gave credit to Baal for sending rain and producing fertility, but Yahweh was the true rainmaker (cf. Jeremiah 14:22; Amos 5:8). Since rain is often a symbol of many types of blessing in the Old Testament, spiritual as well as physical blessing is probably in view here (cf. Zechariah 12:10; Isaiah 55:10-12; Hosea 6:3; Joel 2:21-32). Many good commentators included this verse with Zechariah 9:11-17 because of the continuation of thought. However all of chapter 10 continues the thought of the previous pericope.
In contrast to the only true God, teraphim (household idols; cf. Genesis 31:19; Judges 17:5; Judges 17:13; Judges 18:5; 1 Samuel 15:23; Hosea 3:4) only led people into iniquity, and diviners saw misleading visions and dreams (cf. Deuteronomy 18:9-14; Jeremiah 23:30-32; Jeremiah 27:9-10). Their comfort was worthless. Consequently the people who rely on these false indicators of God’s will wander like shepherdless sheep and experience much needless trouble (cf. Mark 6:34).
"A modern parallel is the renewed interest in magic, spiritism and other survivals of primitive times. The more widespread modern equivalent is to ignore God altogether and tacitly to assume that no problem is beyond man’s unaided power to solve." [Note: Baldwin, p. 171.]
The Lord was angry with these false shepherds (rulers, i.e., kings, princes, nobles, prophets, and priests) and the other leaders who led His sheep astray like rams (cf. 1 Samuel 28:3-7; 1 Kings 16:31; 1 Kings 22:6-12; 2 Kings 1:2; 2 Kings 16:15; 2 Kings 21:6). The shepherds and rams may also include the foreign rulers under which the Jews had to live. [Note: See Chambers, p. 78, in Lange’s commentary.] The Lord would visit His flock, namely, the flock of Judah (the Israelites), and He would make His people like the horse He rode in battle to defeat His enemies. In other words, He would empower the Israelites. The weak sheep would become as strong as horses. The battle of Armageddon is probably in view (cf. Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 14:1-8).
From the house of Judah would come the cornerstone of the building (kingdom) He would build, namely, Messiah (cf. Zechariah 3:9; Genesis 49:10; Psalms 118:22; Isaiah 28:16; Jeremiah 30:21; Acts 4:11; Ephesians 2:20; 1 Peter 2:1-8). The cornerstone (Heb. pinnah) was a figure of a leader who would stabilize a nation and keep it from sliding down a slippery slope (cf. Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38; Isaiah 19:13). Messiah would also be like a tent peg (Heb. yathed) in that He would hold the tent (kingdom) firmly in place (cf. Judges 4:21-22; Isaiah 22:23-24; Acts 15:16). The Hebrew word also describes a peg inside a tent on which people hung beautiful things that glorified their homes (cf. Zechariah 6:13; Isaiah 22:22-24; Ezekiel 15:3). Messiah would also be Yahweh’s bow by which He would destroy His enemies (cf. Zechariah 9:13; Psalms 45:5; Revelation 19:11-16). All these figures picture the strong, stable, victorious, and trustworthy nature of Messiah’s rule.
"This verse constitutes one of the most far-reaching and meaningful Messianic prophecies in the Old Testament in which the seer summarizes a number of declarations by the former prophet [i.e., Isaiah], setting forth the character and ministry of Israel’s Redeemer-King." [Note: Unger, p. 177.]
From the house of Judah would also go forth (depart) every oppressing ruler (Heb. noges, cf. Zechariah 9:8; Exodus 3:7; Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 60:17; Daniel 11:20).
"Because the Messiah intervenes in the manner to be noted, every oppressor will depart from Judah. Cause and effect are clearly stated." [Note: Feinberg, God Remembers, p. 185.]
These Israelites would be like mighty men in battle (cf. David’s mighty men). They would subdue the Lord’s enemies in battle successfully because Yahweh would be with them. The opposing adversaries would be defeated and shamed even though they fought from positions of strength. The Lord’s infantry would defeat the world’s apparently superior cavalry.
"It is a great mistake to suppose that all will be accomplished by Jehovah single-handed." [Note: Kelly, p. 472.]
"The scene is that of the strengthening of the Jews in Palestine at the time of the invasion from the North under ’the beast’ (Daniel 7:8) in conjunction with the events of Armageddon (Revelation 16:14; Revelation 19:17-20)." [Note: Unger, p. 180.]
The Lord would strengthen, deliver, and restore the house of Judah and the house of Joseph (Ephraim), both the former Northern and Southern Kingdoms. He would do this simply because He had compassion on them, not because they deserved His blessing. He would restore the Israelites to a condition similar to the one they enjoyed before He sent them into captivity, including sovereignty within their own homeland. He would do this because He is Yahweh, their God. He would answer their prayers for His help.
Then the Israelites who previously had been weak from idolatry and apostasy would be strong. They and their children would rejoice in the Lord when He saved them (Psalms 32:11; Philippians 4:4).
The Lord, the true shepherd of His flock, would simply whistle and His people would follow Him because He had redeemed them (Exodus 12; Isaiah 35:10; Micah 6:4; John 10:11-16; 1 Peter 1:18-19). They would again be as numerous as they had been in the days of their greatest prosperity.
"Just as redemption, that is, election, theologically preceded the actual exodus escape from Egypt (Exodus 2:24; Exodus 3:7-8; Exodus 4:22-23; Exodus 6:2-8), so it is on the basis of an already effected redemption that YHWH’s people will enter into the eschatological land of promise." [Note: Merrill, p. 276.]
When the Lord scattered His people like seed among the other peoples of the world, they would remember Him even though they lived far from the Promised Land (cf. John 12:24; 1 Corinthians 15:36). Not only would the Lord remember them (the meaning of Zechariah’s name), but they would remember Him. They and their children would enter into new life and return to the land. Sowing anticipates reaping a harvest and so connotes hope.
". . . even after Israel had been restored to the land after the Babylonian exile, the prospect of a regathered, reunited nation still appeared in Zechariah 10:9-12. The importance of this passage and its late postexilic date should not be lost by those who interpret the promise of the land spiritually or as a temporal blessing which has since been forfeited by a rebellious nation due to her failure to keep her part of the conditional (?) covenant. On the contrary, this hope burned brighter as Israel became more and more hopelessly scattered." [Note: Kaiser, p. 255.]
Yahweh would bring the Israelites back from the land of Egypt to Israel’s south, where they had been slaves, and from the land of Assyria to its north, where they had been exiles, namely, from all over the world (cf. Isaiah 11:11-16; Isaiah 19:23; Hosea 11:10). Probably Zechariah used Assyria as his example of a northern enemy rather than Babylonia because Assyria, and Egypt, were Israel’s most persistent and hostile enemies historically. He would bring the Israelites back into the fruitful Promised Land, into Gilead with its rich pastures east of the Jordan River and Lebanon with its mighty forests west of the Jordan. Again, the whole land is in view.
"The Lebanon . . . is referred to in the Old Testament as a symbol of strength, dignity and splendour (e.g., 2 Kings 19:23; Isaiah 35:2), as are the mountains of Gilead. Hence the two are sometimes also mentioned together to denote power and pride . . . (Jeremiah 22:6). In our verse too this combination may be intended to demonstrate the future power and glory of the Messianic kingdom of Israel." [Note: The Illustrated . . ., 8:95.]
Eventually there would be no more room because so many blessed Israelites would live there (cf. Isaiah 49:19-21; Isaiah 54:2-3).
Yahweh’s representative, Messiah, would pass through the sea of His people’s distress and banish it, as He had done to the Red Sea when the Israelites left Egypt in the Exodus (and as Jesus did when He calmed the Sea of Galilee). He would humble all Israel’s enemies, of which Egypt and Assyria were only representatives. The Gentile leaders of the world, symbolized by Egypt’s scepter, would no longer hold sway over Israel in the world.
Messiah would also strengthen the Israelites in the Lord. They would walk all over the earth (exercise dominion over it) in His name (as His representatives and in harmony with His character). All of this was a promise from Yahweh.
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Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Zechariah 10". "Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent