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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

Zechariah 8


The third section of the prophet’s answer is divided into seven separate sayings (Zechariah 8:2, Zechariah 8:3; Zechariah 8:4, Zechariah 8:5; Zechariah 8:6; Zechariah 8:7, Zechariah 8:8; Zechariah 8:9-13; Zechariah 8:14), and the fourth into three (Zechariah 8:19-22, and Zechariah 8:23), each of which commences with “Thus saith the Lord of Hosts:” as much as to say, Do not imagine that these are merely the words of man; they are an express revelation from God.

Verse 2

(2) I was.—Better, I am in both cases. Here God declares His determination to give expression to His burning love for Zion.

Verse 3

(3) Comp. Zechariah 2:10-13.

Of truthi.e., where truth and fidelity towards God have their home (comp. Isaiah 1:21), “the faithful city.” (For the other two titles, see Isaiah 2:2-3; Jeremiah 31:23.) Zion shall return to her former condition of faithfulness, and consequent favour with God. (Comp. Zechariah 8:8.)

Verses 4-5

(4-5) This promise may well be regarded as having been fulfilled to the letter in the days of Simon the Maccabee (1Ma. 14:4-15), when “the ancient men sat in all the streets . . . and the young men put on glorious and warlike apparel,” and “every man sat under his vine and his fig-tree, and there was none to fray them.”

Verse 6

(6) If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days.—Better, though it was marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, was it, therefore [or will it, therefore, be] marvellous in mine eyes? (Comp. “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible”—Matthew 19:26.)

Verse 7

(7) From the east . . . and from the west.—There were Jews in exile in the west as well as in the east (Joel 3:6); and, indeed, a very general dispersion may be almost implied from Isaiah 43:5-6.

Verse 8

(8) See Notes on Zechariah 10:8-12.

Verse 9

(9) Prophets.—It would almost seem that there were other prophets who spoke at the time besides Haggai and Zechariah.

That the temple might be built.—These words seem to be used in reference to the resumption of the building (Haggai 1:15), when the people set themselves to work with a will, as contrasted with the first laying of the foundation in the second year of Cyrus, king of Persia, B.C. 537 (Ezra 3:10, compared with Zechariah 1:1), which could hardly be said to have been done “that the temple might be built,” since the work of building was then suspended for about sixteen years. There is no reason to suppose that LXX. read a different preposition before the infinitive “to be built,” since the Hebrew preposition “to,” or rather “with reference to,” often denotes “with reference to the time when,” i.e., “from the time that.” (Comp. Zechariah 1:1.)

Verse 10

(10) Before . . . there was no hire for man, or cattle, because the land was so unproductive (Haggai 1:6, Haggai 1:9-11); but “from the day that the foundation of the Lord’s temple was laid . . . from this day will I bless you” (Haggai 2:18-19). LXX., ὁ μισθὸς . . . οὺκ ἔσται εἰς ὄνησιν, “the hire . . . would not be profitable,” reading the Hebrew verb, “was not,” as an Aramaic future, “will not be profitable.”

The affliction.—Better, the enemy. Not only were they oppressed by their neighbouring adversaries, but also during the time previous to their energetic resumption of the work of re-building, there took place the expedition of Cambyses against Egypt, when the march of the Persian hosts southwards through Palestine must have caused much distress to the Jews in their narrow circumstances.

Verse 12

(12) For the seed . . . prosperous.—Comp. the Syriac, “for the seed shall be peace.” Better, as in margin, For the seed of peace—viz., “the vine,” which is so called because it can flourish only in times of peace: so that to sit under the vine and under the fig. tree is a common figure to denote the enjoyment of peace and prosperity. For the word “seed” applied to the vine, comp. Jeremiah 2:21.

Comp. 1Ma. 14:8 : “Then did they till their ground in peace, and the earth gave her increase, and the trees of the field their fruit.”

Verse 13

(13) Comp. Isaiah 46:9 with Jeremiah 24:9. The contents of this verse is the converse of that of Joshua 23:15.

Verses 14-17

(14-17) As the Captivity had been brought about by God’s decree, so, too, the Restoration. The people, therefore, need not fear, if only they do that which is righteous in His sight.

Verse 16

(16) Judgment of truth and peacei.e., in accordance with the true facts of the case, and such judgment as would tend to peace between man and man. (Comp. Zechariah 7:9; and contrast Malachi 2:8-9.)

Verses 18-23

(18-23) This fourth section gives at last all that the prophet deigns to answer concerning the fast of the fifth month (Zechariah 7:3), and also concerning the other fasts. On the 9th or 17th of “the fourth” month (Tammuz) Jerusalem was taken by Nebuchadnezzar, in the eleventh year of Zedekiah (Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6-7). On the tenth of “the tenth” month (Tebeth) siege was laid to Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar, in the ninth year of Zedekiah (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4). As, on account of their sins, their feasts had been changed into fasts, and their days of rejoicing into mourning (Amos 8:10), so now the prophet promises that if only they will keep the required conditions their fasts should be transformed into feasts. No express command is given with respect to the abolition of the fasts; but according to Jewish tradition (T.B. Rosh Hashshanah, 18 b), when the nation was in peace and prosperity the fasts were held in abeyance; when it was in trouble again the fasts were resumed. Since the destruction of the Temple by Titus, the Jews have kept the following fasts: the seventeenth of Tammuz, the ninth of Ab, the third of Tishri, and the tenth of Tebeth, on account of various calamities which took place on those days.

Verse 19

(19) “The fast of the fourth [month].”—LXX., after the analogy of Genesis 1:31, renders “the fourth fast,” and so also with the others.

Verses 20-23

(20-23) The language of the promises contained in these verses is evidently borrowed from Micah 4:2; Isaiah 2:2-3. (Comp. Isaiah 45:14-17.) According to the figurative language of the Old Testament, the nations are represented as coming up to Jerusalem with the object, doubtless, of keeping there the festivals. (Comp. Zechariah 2:10-13; Zechariah 14:16-19.) But we must not look for a literal fulfilment of such prophecies. The one before us seems to be virtually fulfilled, in the fact that through Jesus Christ (who was a Jew according to the flesh) the knowledge of the true God has been spread among most nations of the world. Still, in view of Romans 11:0, we are not without warrant in looking forward to a more glorious and perfect fulfilment of such prophecies as this in the unknown future.

Verse 21

(21) And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another.—LXX., καὶ συνελεύσονται κατοικοῦντες πέντε πόλεις εἰς μίαν πόλιν, “and the inhabitants of five cities shall come together to one city,” borrowing the word “five” possibly from Isaiah 19:18, “In that day there shall be five cities . . . one shall be called . . .”

Verse 23

(23) Ten.—This number is used indefinitely, to express a large number (comp. Genesis 31:7); the number “seven” is used in a like sense in Isaiah 4:1.

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Bibliographical Information
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Zechariah 8". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". 1905.