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Tuesday, May 21st, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 5

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary



This is to be regarded as essentially one vision in three dissolving views (Zechariah 5:1-11).

Verse 1

(1) Then I turned . . . eyes.—Better, And I again lifted up my eyes. (Comp. Zechariah 4:1.)

Flying roll.—A scroll floating in the air. The form of the vision seems to be suggested by Ezekiel 2:9-10. LXX., omitting the final ah of the word for “scroll,” render δρέπανον, “sickle.”

Verses 1-11


Zechariah 1:7 to Zechariah 6:15. Between the commencement of Zechariah’s prophetic labours and the incidents recorded in Zechariah 1:7 to Zechariah 6:15, the Prophet Haggai received the revelation contained in Haggai 2:10-23. On the four-and-twentieth day of the eleventh month, just five months after the re-building of the Temple was resumed, Zechariah sees a succession of seven visions in one night, followed by a symbolic action (Zechariah 6:9-15).

Verse 2

(2) He.—The angel-interpreter. (Comp. Zechariah 5:5.)

The length . . . and the breadth . . .—These were the dimensions of the holy place of the Mosaic Tabernacle, also of the porch of Solomon’s Temple. If, then, we are to consider the measurement of the scroll as symbolical, we may regard it as indicating that the measure of the sanctuary is the measure of sin: that is, the sinner must not say, “I am not worse than my neighbour,” but should measure his conduct by the standard: “Become ye holy, for I am holy” (Leviticus 11:44; comp. Matthew 5:48).

Verse 3

(3) The whole earth.—Better, the whole land: viz., of Israel.

For every one . . . on this side . . . on that side according to iti.e., according to the curse written on this side and on that side of the scroll. But the Hebrew will hardly bear this interpretation. Koehler proposes to render, instead of “on this side” and “on that side,” “from hence” in both cases—viz., from the land. (Comp. Exodus 11:1). But the contrast, which is evidently implied here, precludes this interpretation. We prefer to render, For every one that stealeth, on the one hand, shall, in accordance therewith, be certainly destroyed; and every one that sweareth [falsely], on the other hand, shall, in accordance therewith, be certainly destroyed. Thieves are mentioned as a specimen of sinners against the second table of the Decalogue: viz., as false to man; and false swearers as sinners against the first table: viz., as false to God.

Verse 4

(4) It.—The curse, as borne on the scroll.

Bring forth.—As it were, from His treasure-house, where all pre-ordained events are stored up (Deuteronomy 32:34-35).

And shall consume it.—In Herodotus (Book vi:86) there is an interesting parallel to this verse. A Milesian had deposited with Glaucus a sum of money on trust. When the sons of the depositor came to claim it, Glaucus consulted the oracle of Delphi whether he might perjure himself and keep the money. The priestess told him that it was best for the present to do as he desired, for that death was the common lot of the honest and the dishonest. “Yet,” added she, “Oath hath a son, nameless, handless, footless, but swift he pursues, until he seize and destroy the whole race and house.”

Verse 5

(5) Angel . . . went forth.—The first scene of the vision disappears, and with it, apparently, the angel-interpreter, who now “went forth,” i.e., appeared again (see Note on Zechariah 2:3); so, too, “that goeth forth” means, that emerges from the region of the invisible into that of the visible.

Verse 6

(6) What is it?—i.e., What does it symbolise? For, of course, he could see that it was an ephah.

This is an ephah . . . all the earth.—Better, This, the ephah that cometh forth, this, continued he, is their resemblance throughout the whole lands: i.e., this is a symbol of the sinners mentioned above. (For “resemblance” the LXX., by the change of one letter, read iniquity.) The nature of the comparison is seen by some to be as follows. As in an ephah the separate grains are all collected together, so will the individual sinners over the whole length and breadth of the land be brought into one confused heap. (Comp. Matthew 13:30.) It is not mentioned till later that they are to be carried away.

Verses 7-8

(7, 8) Talent.—Better, disc. The construction of these verses is rather difficult. They should be taken as the words of the angel-interpreter, and be rendered: And behold (i.e., and you may see) a leaden disc being lifted up, and this [which you now see on the removal of the disc] is a woman sitting in the ephah; this, continued he, is wickedness. Observe the climax: first, representatives of the two classes of sinners are spoken of; then they are heaped into an undistinguishable mass, and afterwards they are spoken of as one woman, who impersonates wickedness.

Cast it.—Better, her, the woman.

Verse 9

(9) Behold . . .—Here commences the third scene of the vision. We need not enter into the minute details of the verse, as they are, probably, introduced merely to give greater distinctness to the picture. (Comp. Note on Zechariah 1:8.) The wings of the woman seem, however, to be represented as filled with the wind to enable them to carry their burden with greater ease and velocity through the air. The prophet, perhaps, borrowed his imagery from some of the grotesque figures he had seen in Babylon.

Verse 11

(11) Land of Shinar.—Where mankind had first organised a rebellion against God (Genesis 12:2); it was also the land of the Captivity of the Jews (Babylonia).

This vision is a circumstantial symbolisation of the promise given in Zechariah 3:9 : “I will remove the iniquity of the land in one day.” While it is a promise of the remission of the punishment of their iniquity (for in Hebrew, “iniquity” often means punishment), it serves also as an exhortation to the returned exiles to leave in Babylon the iniquity which had been the cause of their being transported thither.

Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Zechariah 5". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ebc/zechariah-5.html. 1905.
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