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Bible Commentaries

Ellicott's Commentary for English ReadersEllicott's Commentary

- Zechariah

by Charles John Ellicott






I. The Prophet.—He describes himself as “Zeehariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo,” which can only mean—(LXX., Jerome, and Cyril are in error)—that he was the grandson of the latter. But in Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14, he is called “the son of Iddo.” Similarly, Laban, the grandson of Nahor, is called his son (Genesis 29:5); and Jehu is in 2 Kings 9:14 called “the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi,” while in Haggai 2:20 he is styled simply “the son of Nimshi.” The supposition, therefore, that the words “son of Berechiah” (Zechariah 1:1) are an interpolation borrowed from Isaiah 8:2, where “Zechariah, the son of Jeberechiah,” is mentioned, is superfluous. The conjecture, too, that the Book of Zechariah is made up of the writings of three distinct prophets—Zechariah son of Iddo, Zechariah son of Jeberechiah, and Uriah, fellow-witness of the latter (Isaiah 8:2)—though ingenious, is but based on the erroneous idea that Zechariah 9-14 cannot be of post-exilian authorship. In Ezra 5:1-2, Zechariah is mentioned as prophesying, in conjunction with Haggai, during the time of Jeshua, the son of Josedech (the high priest). A certain Iddo is reckoned as among the heads of priests (and Levites) who came up with Zerubbabel (Nehemiah 12:1-4); and again, a Zechariah is spoken of as the lineal representative of Iddo, and one of the heads of the priestly houses in the days of Joiakim, the successor of Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:12-16). It may be not unreasonably assumed that this is Zechariah the Prophet, and that this Iddo is his grandfather. From these materials we may fairly deduce that (1) Zechariah was a young man when he entered upon his office; (2) that his father died early, and was, perhaps, never head of his house, which would account for his being passed over by Ezra; (3) that Zechariah, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was a priest as well as a prophet. The first of these deductions is sufficient to dispose of the fables of Epiphanius, Dorotheus, and Hesychius (see Köhler, Einleitung; Wright, Introduction), that Zechariah was an old man at the time of the return from the captivity, and that he had already foretold to Shealtiel the birth of Zerubbabel, and to Cyrus his victory over Crœsus, &c. The second of these fables is also contradicted by the fact that Zerubbabel was not the actual son of Shealtiel, but of his brother Pedaiah (1 Chronicles 3:19). Shealtiel seems to have died without male issue, and Pedaiah to have taken his deceased brother’s wife in accordance with Deuteronomy 25:5-10. Zerubbabel, or Sheshbazzar, seems to have been the son of this Levirate marriage.

The name Zechariah is compounded of the stem zâchôr, “to remember,” and Yâh, the first half of the Holy Name (see Notes on Exodus 15:2; Exodus 17:16; Psalms 68:0), and probably means “Yah remembers.” Some, however, take it as meaning “who remembers Yah.” (Comp. Μνησίβεος and Τιμόθεος.) Jerome explains it as Μνήμη Κυρίου, memoria Domini; Hesychius as Μνήμη Τψἰστου, “Memory of the Highest,” or Νικητἠς λεόντος, “Lion-conqueror;” Marck as “hero of Yah.” The last two are impossible. The name has probably no reference whatever to the contents of the prophecies.


Occasion of the Prophecies.—The genuineness of Zechariah 1-8 has never been called in question, and they are undoubtedly to be referred to the time of the re-building of the Temple (see Introduction to Haggai). The date and authorship of Zechariah 9-14 must be discussed separately.


Contents of Chapters 1-8—These chapters consist of three distinct prophetic utterances: viz., (1) Zechariah 1:1-6; (2) Zechariah 1:7Zechariah 6:15; (3) Zechariah 7:8.

(1) Zechariah 1:1-6.—A declaration of the prophet’s mission, and an earnest exhortation to the people to turn unto the Lord, that He might turn unto them, together with a warning not to fall into that error of neglect of God’s word which had proved so fatal to their fathers.

(2) Zechariah 1:7Zechariah 6:15.—A series of seven visions, with two appendices, Zechariah 2:6-13; Zechariah 6:9-15. Some commentators have maintained that these visions were not, even subjectively, seen by the prophet; but that he deliberately sets forth his experience under the similitude of dreams, as Bunyan does in the Pilgrims Progress. But it seems to us, from the prophet’s words, to be imperative to regard these visions as subjectively, though perhaps not objectively, visible to him, just as one would naturally so regard the visions of Amos (Amos 7-9).

First Vision (Zechariah 1:7-17).—The horsemen among the myrtles. This vision was intended to convey to the prophet the truth that, though as yet there may be little sign of God’s “overthrowing the kingdoms” (Haggai 2:22), yet He, with His all watchful eye, was scanning the horizon, and preparing to fulfil His word.

Second Vision (Zechariah 1:18-21).—The four horses and four workmen indicate that God would continue to remove the hostility of the Persians, even as He had already broken the power of the Assyrians, Egyptians, and Babylonians.

Third Vision (Zechariah 2:1-5).—The man with the measuring line. The enlargement and perfect security of the people of God. An appendix (Zechariah 2:6-13) prophetic of the ingathering of the nations in the days of BRANCH, the Messiah.

Fourth Vision (Zechariah 3:0)—Joshua, the high priest, arraigned before the angel of the Lord. The forgiveness of the sins of the priesthood, and of the people, whose representative he was.

Fifth Vision (Zechariah 4:0).—The candlestick with the two olive-trees. The diffusion of God’s grace by means of His two channels—the priesthood and civil power. It contains a promise (Haggai 2:9) that Zerubbabel’s hands should finish the building of the Temple.

Sixth Vision (Zechariah 5:1-11.)—The flying roll, and the woman in the ephah, denoting the curse on sinners, and the banishment of sin.

Seventh Vision (Zechariah 6:1-8).—The four chariots. God’s judgments on the nations. An appendix (Zechariah 6:9-15), the crowning of Joshua, which foreshadows the two-fold office of BRANCH, as king and priest. A probable lacuna in the text.

(3) Zechariah 7:8—The inquiry concerning the fasts. The prophet’s rebuke of the people for their formalism. The answer to their inquiry, in the form of a promise that their fasts should be turned into feasts.


Mede (who died in 1638) was the first to doubt the genuineness of this second part of the book. He was led to do so on observing that in Matthew 27:9, a passage, which is certainly a quotation from Zechariah 11:12-13, is ascribed to Jeremiah. On further investigation, he conceived that he found internal evidence in support of his theory: that these chapters were of an earlier date than the age of Zechariah. Since that time the question has been continually discussed by scholars of many nations, with such inconsistent results that chapters 9-14 have been ascribed to various times, ranging between 772 B.C. (Hitzig) and 330 (Böttcher).

We need not here attach any weight to the supposed external authority of St. Matthew in the matter. (See the New Testament Commentary, in loc.) But the question of internal evidence—first, with regard to style, secondly, with respect to historical standpoint—demands careful investigation. At the same time the reader will do well to bear in mind Pusey’s weighty remark: “It is obvious that there must be some mistake either in the tests applied, or in their application, which admits of a variation of at least 450 years.”

Seeing that the preponderance of authority appeared to be subversive of the view that the latter chapters were of as late a date as the age of Zechariah, we came to the special study of the subject with a certain inclination to accept the hypothesis that this portion is of pre-exilian origin. But we have since felt compelled to abandon this theory. We now proceed to put before the reader the process of reasoning which has led us to our present conclusions. We shall print the arguments of the impugners of the integrity of the book in italics, and give our answer to each objection.

I. Arguments against the genuineness of Zechariah 9-14 : (A) from style, (B) from the historical standpoint.

A. DIFFERENCE OF STYLE BETWEEN Zechariah 1-8, Zechariah 1:9-14.

1.Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 1:7 to Zechariah 6:8 consists almost entirely of visions, while in Zechariah 9-14. there are none.

Ans. When the prophet saw visions, he related them; when he did not see any, he could not do so. There is no reason in the nature of things why God should not at one time reveal His will to a prophet in visions, and at another by other means. Thus, as a fact, Amos has only visions in the second part, and none in the first; and so, too, Isaiah and Ezekiel related visions when they saw them, but at other times they delivered their oracles in a different manner. Moreover, Zechariah 7:8 do not consist of visions, and the genuineness of these chapters has not been called in question.


The angel-interpreter and Satan disappear from Zechariah 9-14.

Ans. And so they do from Zechariah 7:8, simply because they were actors, the one in the whole series of visions, and the other in one portion of it.


The seven eyes, as a symbol of Gods Providence, disappear from Zechariah 9-14.

Ans. True; but a writer is not compelled to use continually a certain symbol, because he happens to have done so on a former occasion. Moreover, a very similar expression, “for now have I seen it with mine eyes,” is actually used in Zechariah 9:8. (Comp. Zechariah 9:5.)


Exact dates are given many times in the former chapters, but none in the latter.

Ans. Similarly, we find dates prefixed to other visions, such as Isaiah 6:1; Ezekiel 1:1-3; Ezekiel 8:1-2; Ezekiel 40:1-2; and dates are frequently found in the prophets, where answers are recorded as given by Divine command to inquiries addressed to them.


In Zechariah 1-8 introductory formulas constantly occur, which are not found in the concluding six chapters.

Ans. So, too, Hosea uses introductory formulas in the first five chapters of his book, which are wanting in the last nine chapters; and yet no doubt is entertained of the integrity of that book.

6 a. The style of Zechariah 1-8 is utterly different to that of Zechariah 9-14.

Ans. So is that of Hosea 1-3 different to that of Zechariah 4-14; and the style of Ezekiel 4:5 is totally different to that of Zechariah 6:7, or of Zech. 27, 28

b. The style of the first eight chapters is prosaic, feeble, poor, while that of the remaining six is poetic, weighty, concise, glowing (Rosenmüller).

Böttcher, on the other hand, says: “In comparison with the lifeless language of these chapters (9-14), as to which we cannot at all understand how any can have removed them into so early pre-exile times, the Psalms attributed to the time of the Maccabees are amazingly fresh.

Ans. When critics so disagree as to the respective merits of the styles of the two sections, it seems hardly worth while to consider the argument. We will merely remark that neither sweeping statement is correct. When the prophet is describing a vision, or giving an answer to questions propounded, he naturally writes in the language best suited to his purpose, viz., prose. But when he comes to speak of the distant future, he naturally rises to a loftier style of diction; and this is the case even in the earlier chapters, when occasion requires: e.g., Zechariah 2:10-13, Zechariah 6:12-13. (See further, under The Integrity of the whole Book, 7.) Further, the argument from style must be, indeed, very strong to enable us to affirm that this chapter is by one author, and that by another. And even when the evidence appears most forcible to the propounder of the theory, facts may come to light which will prove it to be utterly fallacious. Thus an acute German has found reasons why the Laws of Plato should not be Plato’s, and yet Jowett (Translations of Platos Dialogues, vol. iv. 1) has shown them to be undoubtedly genuine by four sets of facts: (1) from twenty citations of them by Aristotle, who must have been intimate with Plato for some seventeen years; (2) by the allusion of Isocrates, writing two or three years after the composition of the Laws:

(3) by the references of the comic poet Alexis, a younger contemporary of Plato; (4) by the unanimous voice of later antiquity.
B. THE HISTORICAL STANDPOINT.—Those who impugn the integrity of the Book of Zechariah on historical grounds may be divided into two classes. (1) Those who ascribe Zechariah 9-14 to one author, and (2) those who attribute Zechariah 9-11 to one author, and Zechariah 12-14 to another; or who imagine that they discover the traces of three different pens in Zechariah 9-14. We will discuss the integrity of Zechariah 9-14 further on. At present we will content ourselves with disposing of the difference with regard to historical standpoint which has been urged in the two sections 1-8 and 9-14 generally. The particular passages in which such a difference has been urged we shall discuss in our Notes on those passages, viz., Zechariah 9:1-17; Zechariah 10:2-12; Zechariah 11:1-3; Zechariah 11:14; Zechariah 12:1-9; Zechariah 12:11; Zechariah 14:5; Zechariah 14:1-21.

1 a. In Zechariah 9-14 the historical standpoint is entirely changed. In Zechariah 1-8 the prophet is continually mentioning the rebuilding of the Temple, and the re-inhabiting of Jerusalem; but in Zechariah 9-14 he is occupied with quite different matters.

Ans. This is true, for the latter chapters were (we have good reason for supposing) written many years after the former, when the rebuilding of the Temple was a fait accompli, and when those abuses of the Temple-service, which so vexed the righteous spirit of Malachi, had not yet crept in. It would not, we suppose, be imagined strange if a Parisian, writing in 1871, spoke much of the siege of Paris, while, when writing in 1881, he said nothing whatever about that event, but was engrossed with the affairs of Tunis, and the possibility of eventual collision with other Powers. The case of Zechariah is still stronger, for not ten, but probably some forty years, intervened between the delivery of the prophecies of Zechariah 1-8, and those of Zechariah 9-14.

b. In the former chapters he mentions his contemporaries, such as Joshua and Zerubbabel, but not so in the latter portion.
In the former chapters he was chiefly occupied in contemporary events; in the latter he speaks of a more distant future, which none of his contemporaries would live to see. This difference of subject-matter accounts, also, for the occurrence of such expressions as “in that day,” “the people round about,” in the latter chapters, which are not found in the former.

2.Zechariah 9:1-8; Zechariah 9:1-8 is so like to Amos 1:0 and Amos 2:1-6, &c., that it seems impossible that two prophecies so similar should have been uttered at periods so wide apart.

Ans. There is this much of resemblance between the two passages: viz., that in both Damascus, Tyre, Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Ekron are threatened. But here the similarity ceases, and the great dissimilarity becomes apparent. (α) In Amos, Edom, Ammon, and Moab are included, but not so in Zechariah. And this is most natural, for, while in the time of Uzziah these were still powerful nations, on the return from the captivity they were so weak, that when in the time of Nehemiah “Sanballat and Tobiah, and the Arabians and the Ammonites and the Ashdodites” all conspire to hinder the Jews from rebuilding the Wall of Jerusalem, it was found sufficient to repel them that half of the returned exiles should stand to arms, while the other half went on with the work of building. (β) Amos expressly states that Aram-Damascus should be carried away to Kir, while there is no such intimation in Zechariah 9:0. (γ) The style of the two passages is not similar. That of Amos 1:1 to Amos 2:6 is of a marked character, but we find no echo of that style in Zechariah 9:1-8. (δ) In Amos 2:4-6, Judah and Israel are threatened equally with the other nations, and looked on equally with the other people there mentioned as separate governments. But in Zechariah 9:8 God’s “house” is promised special protection (see further in our Notes), and in Haggai 2:13 “Judah” and “Ephraim” are used as parallel terms.

Thus we see that the arguments in favour of the preexilian authorship of these chapters, whether urged on the score of style or of historical reference, fall to the ground. On the other hand, there is, we will show, strong internal testimony to the truth of the opposite opinion.

II. Internal Evidence in Favour of the Post-exilian Origin of Zechariah 9-14. Zechariah 9:1. The writer of Zechariah 9-14 shows such a familiarity with the writings of the later prophets as appears to some reconcilable only with the supposition that he wrote at a date posterior to them: e.g., the Deutero-Isaiah.[25] Compare

[25] See Introduction to Isaiah. Should the so-called Deutero Isaiah (chaps. 40—end) be eventually shown to be by the same author as Isaiah 1-39, our argument would not be injured, since the references to the other prophets mentioned afterwards are in themselves sufficient. Further, most critics who regard Zechariah 9-14 as pre-exilian, consider Isaiah 40:0—end as contemporaneous with the later prophets.


Zechariah 9:12 (a) with Isaiah 42:7; Isaiah 49:9; Isaiah 61:1.

Zechariah 9:12 (b) with Isaiah 61:7.

Zechariah 10:10 with Isaiah 49:19-20.

Zechariah 11:15-16 with Isaiah 56:11.

Zechariah 2:1 with Isaiah 51:13.

Zechariah 12:2 with Isaiah 51:22-23.

Zechariah 13:9 with Isaiah 48:10.

Zechariah 14:16 with Isaiah 60:6-9; Isaiah 66:23.

Zechariah 14:17 with Isaiah 60:12.

Zephaniah. Compare Zechariah 9:5-6 with Zephaniah 2:4-5.

Jeremiah, Compare

Zechariah 9:12 with Jeremiah 16:18.

Zechariah 11:3 with Jeremiah 25:34-36.

Zechariah 11:3 with Jeremiah 12:5, Jeremiah 49:19, Jeremiah 50:44.

Zechariah 11:5 with Jeremiah 2:3; Jeremiah 50:7.

Zechariah 11:6 with Jer. 26:29-33.

Zechariah 13:9 with Jeremiah 30:22.

(Comp. also with these Zechariah 8:8, and Hosea 2:23.)

(The only passages in which “The pride of Jordan” occurs.)

Zechariah 14:7 with Jeremiah 30:7-8.

Zechariah 14:10 with Jeremiah 31:38-40

Zechariah 14:20-21 with Jeremiah 31:40.

Obadiah. Compare

Zechariah 12:6 with Obadiah 1:18.

Zechariah 14:9 with Obadiah 1:9.

Ezekiel. Compare

Zechariah 9:2-4 with Ezekiel 28:1-23.

Zechariah 10:2 with Ezekiel 34:5; Ezekiel 34:8.

Zechariah 10:3 with Ezekiel 34:12; Ezekiel 34:17; Ezekiel 34:20; Ezekiel 34:22; Ezekiel 34:31.

Zechariah 11:0 with Ezekiel 34:0 especially Zechariah 11:4-5; Zechariah 11:16 with Ezekiel 34:3-4, and Ezekiel 34:9 with Ezekiel 34:16.

Zechariah 11:7; Zechariah 11:14 with Ezekiel 37:16-22.

Zechariah 12:10 with Ezekiel 39:29.

Zechariah 13:1-2 with Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 37:23.

Zechariah 13:8-9 with Ezekiel 5:2; Ezekiel 5:12; Ezekiel 11:20.

Zechariah 14:2 (Zechariah 12:2-9) with Ezekiel 38:14-18.

Zechariah 14:4 with Ezekiel 38:19-20.

Zechariah 14:8 with Ezekiel 47:1.

Zechariah 14:13 with Ezekiel 38:21.

Zechariah 14:14 with Ezekiel 39:10.

Zechariah 14:21 with Ezekiel 44:9.

Haggai. Compare

Zechariah 14:13 with Haggai 2:21-22.

Similarly Zechariah, in Zechariah 1-8, exhibits the same familiarity with the later prophetic books which we have shown to be a characteristic of Zechariah 9-14.

Compare, for example:

Zechariah 2:6 with Isaiah 48:20, or with Isaiah 52:11 and Jeremiah 51:6; Jeremiah 51:9.

Zechariah 2:9; Zechariah 2:11, and Zechariah 4:9, with Ezekiel 6:7; Ezekiel 6:10; Ezekiel 39:10, &c

Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, with Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15 (Isaiah 4:2).

Zechariah 6:15 with Jeremiah 17:24.

Zechariah 7:5-10 with Isaiah 58:3-7.

Zechariah 7:9 with Ezekiel 18:8 and Jeremiah 7:5-7; Jeremiah 22:3.

Zechariah 7:12 with Ezekiel 11:19.

Zechariah 7:13 with Jeremiah 11:11.

Zechariah 7:14 with Jeremiah 16:13, &c.

Zechariah 8:3 with Jeremiah 31:23.

Zechariah 8:4 with Isaiah 65:20.

Zechariah 8:6 with Jeremiah 32:17; Jeremiah 32:27.

Zechariah 8:7 with Isaiah 43:6.

Zechariah 8:8 with Isaiah 48:1.

This argument seemed so convincing to De Wette that, after having in the first three editions of his Introduction declared for two authors, he felt compelled to change his mind, and in his fourth edition admitted the post-exilian origin of Zechariah 9-14, and even the possibility of their having been written by Zechariah. We are not, however, prepared to regard this argument as conclusive. We own the difficulty that there is in computing the exact weight due to the argument derived from the consideration of parallel passages, and concur with Cheyne’s pertinent remarks on the subject (The Prophecies of Isaiah, vol. 2, p. 210): “The argument from parallel passages is sometimes much overrated. How prone we are to fancy an imitation where there is none, has been strikingly shown by Munro’s parallel between the plays of Shakspeare and Seneca (Journal of Philology, vol. vi., Camb. 1876, pp. 70-72); and even when an imitation on one side or the other must be supposed, how difficult it is to choose between the alternatives! A recent revolution of opinion among patristic students may be a warning to us not to be too premature in deciding such questions. It has been the custom to argue from the occurrence of almost identical sentences in the Octavius of Minucius Felix and the Apologeticum of Tertullian, that Minucius must have written later than the beginning of the third century, on the ground that a brilliant genius like Tertullian’s cannot have been such a servile imitator as the hypothesis of the priority of Minucius would imply. But Adolf Ebert seems to have definitely proved that Tertullian not only made use of Minucius, but did not even understand his author rightly.”

2. In no way can they be so consistently interpreted as by supposing them to have been written after the captivity (as will be seen in our Notes). This is especially the case with regard to the mention of the “sons of Greece” (Zechariah 9:13), which can refer to no event of which we have cognizance before the time of Alexander or of the Maccabees; and with regard to the prophecies contained in Zechariah 12-14, they would be simply untrue if uttered in reference to the destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar.

We conclude, therefore, that the last six chapters are, equally with the first eight, of post-exilian origin.
We come next to the question of—

III. The Integrity of chapters 9-14.—The theory, which Bunsen has called one of the triumphs of modern criticism, that Zechariah 9-11 and Zechariah 12-14 are the work of two different prophets: viz., Zechariah 9-11 that of a contemporary of Isaiah, perhaps Zechariah son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2), and Zechariah 12-14, possibly that of Urijah son of Shemaiah (Jeremiah 26:20-23), falls to the ground with the establishment of the post-exilian origin of the whole section. Archbishop Newcome, who originated this theory, concluded that Zechariah 9-11 were written much earlier than the time of Jeremiah, and before the captivity of the tribes; but was not so positive as his followers with regard to the pre-exilian authorship of Zechariah 12-14, though he thinks the mention of idols (Zechariah 13:2) to be in favour of that supposition. We must therefore discuss a little more fully what have been termed the grounds for separating Zechariah 12-14 from Zechariah 9-11.

(1) Zechariah 11:0 has a distinct introductory formula. But since this formula is the same as that of Zechariah 9:1, and that a formula which recurs only in Malachi 1:1, this-argument tends rather in the other direction.

(2) The former chapters speak of Israel and Judah, but the latter do not mention Israel.” On the contrary, Zechariah 12:1 states that the whole of the following prophecy is concerning “Israel.”

(3) In the former, Syrians, Phœnicians, Philistines, and Greeks are mentioned, but Assyrians and Egyptians described as the most powerful. These chapters belong therefore to early times. We have shown in our Notes that the manner in which the Greeks are here described as enemies of Israel fixes the date of these chapters to the post-exilian period. Egypt and Assyria are spoken of (Zechariah 10:10) as the nations who had carried off the people, and whence they were to be brought back, while in Haggai 2:11 the stereotyped language of former prophets is evidently used in a figurative sense.

(4) The anticipations of the two prophets are different. The first trembles for Ephraim, but for Judah he has no fear. On the contrary, Ephraim and Judah are included equally in the promised protection.

(5) The second prophet does not mention the northern kingdom, but is full of alarm for Judah, and sees the enemy laying siege to Jerusalem. “Ephraim” does not denote “the northern kingdom” in Zechariah 9-11 (see Notes). If Jerusalem was to be besieged at any time after its rebuilding, there is no reason why the same prophet who spoke before in general terms of wars, should not afterwards speak more particularly of a siege. In prophesying concerning a siege of Jerusalem it is only natural that Judah, in which tribe it partly stood, should be especially mentioned. Moreover, as we remarked above, the section is expressly addressed to all “Israel.”

(6) Difference of style: “And it shall come to pass” does not occur in Zechariah 9-11; “in that day,” which occurs so often in Zechariah 12-14, occurs only once in Zechariah 9-11, and “saith the Lord” occurs only twice in Zechariah 9-11. There are also favourite expressions in Zechariah 12-14, such as “all peoples,” “all nations round about,” “family of Egypt,” &c. This is true, but Zechariah 12-14 are admitted by all to be a separate section, delivered probably on a different occasion to the former section, and pointing on the whole to a much further distant future. These facts are quite sufficient to account for such very slight differences of style.

IV. The Integrity of the whole Book.—We now proceed to adduce some arguments to prove that there is sufficient correspondence between Zechariah 1-8, Zechariah 1:9-14 to justify us, in default of any positive evidence to the contrary, in regarding the whole book as the work of one prophet.


Both portions exhibit, as we have shown, an extensive acquaintance with the writings of the later prophets.


They both exhibit also an extensive acquaintance with the earlier books: thus, in Zechariah 1:4-6, Zechariah 7:12, reference is made to “the former prophets” generally:—

Zechariah 2:12 (E. V. 8) recalls the thought, though not the phraseology, of Psalms 17:8.

Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12, allude to Isaiah 4:2, as well as to Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15.

Zechariah 3:10 is from Micah 4:4.

Zechariah 6:13 evidently refers to Psalms 110:4.

Zechariah 8:8 recalls Hosea 2:21 (E.V. 19).

Zechariah 8:20-22 in substance may be compared with Micah 4:1-2, Isaiah 2:2-3.

And in the second part:—

Zechariah 9:1-8 bears some resemblance to Amos 1:3; Amos 2:6.

Zechariah 9:10 (first half) is borrowed from Micah 5:10, and (second half) from Psalms 72:8.

Zechariah 13:2 is a quotation from Hosea 2:17 or Micah 5:12-13

(comp. Isaiah 2:18; Isaiah 2:20); and Haggai 2:9, from Hosea 2:20 (E.V. 23).

Comp. also Zechariah 9:16 with Isaiah 11:12.

Zechariah 10:12 with Micah 4:5.

Zechariah 10:10-12 with Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 14:25; Isaiah 10:24-27; Isaiah 30:31, &c.

Zechariah 12:8 with Joel 4:10.

Zechariah 12:10 with Joel 3:1-2.

Zechariah 14:3 with Isaiah 34:1-4.

Zechariah 14:6-7 with Amos 5:18; Amos 5:20, Joel 4 (E.V. 3) Joel 3:15, Isaiah 30:26.

Zechariah 14:8 with Isaiah 11:9; Isaiah 2:3, Micah 4:2.

Zechariah 14:11 with Amos 9:13-15.

Zechariah 14:20 with Isaiah 23:18.

Zechariah 14:21 with Isaiah 4:3; Isaiah 35:8, Joel 4 (E.V. 3) Joel 3:17, &c.

But we cannot lay much stress on this argument, since prophets, belonging as they did in most cases to a school, were in all probability acquainted with the works of their predecessors.

3. In both portions the whole people are similarly styled “the house of Israel, and the house of Judah (Zechariah 8:13); or, “house of Judah, and house of Joseph” (Zechariah 10:6); or “Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:19); or “Judah and Ephraim” (Zechariah 9:13); or “Judah and Israel” (Zechariah 11:14). And in both portions (see the above reference), as was done by Jer. (Jeremiah 23:6; Jeremiah 50:20) and Ezek. (Ezekiel 37:16-19), a future is promised to the re-united Israel-Judah.

4. In both parts (Zechariah 2:9; Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 11:11) we have the prototype of our Lord’s saying (John 14:29): “And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass ye might believe” (John 13:19; John 16:4). In both (Zechariah 8:10; Zechariah 11:6) internal discord is directly attributed to God’s Providence. In both (Zechariah 8:12; Zechariah 10:1) the prophet promises God’s gifts of the produce of the earth. In both (Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 9:9) he bids Jerusalem burst out for joy. The only king of Israel mentioned in either portion is the Messiah (Zechariah 6:12-13; Zechariah 9:9).

5. Both portions are written in pure Hebrew, free from Aramaisms. Both (Zechariah 7:14; Zechariah 9:8) contain the expression “passes to and fro,” in the sense of “all inhabitants,” which elsewhere occurs only in Ezekiel 35:7. (But we must be careful not to lay too much stress on this latter argument, since, if more Biblical Hebrew were extant, the expression would probably occur often.)

6. In both parts alike may be observed the habit of dwelling on the same thought or word—e.g., in Zechariah 6:10, Zechariah 6:12-13, Zechariah 8:4-5, Zechariah 8:23; Zechariah 11:7; Zechariah 14:10-11; Zechariah 14:4-5. In both the whole and its parts are, for emphasis, mentioned together—e.g., in Zechariah 5:4; Zechariah 10:4; Zechariah 10:11, we have “every family apart,” and then in Haggai 2:12-13 the specification. And as an outcome of this fulness of diction we find, in each, instances of one fundamental idea expanded into the unusual number of five parallel clauses, e.g.:

Zechariah 6:13

“And shall build the temple of the Lord;”
“And He shall bear Majesty;”

“And He shall sit and rule upon His throne;”

“And shall be a priest upon His throne;”
“And a counsel of peace shall be between these twain.”

Zechariah 9:5

“Ashkelon shall see it, and shall fear;”
“Gaza, and shall tremble exceedingly;”
“And Ekron, and disappointed is her expectation;”
“And perished is a king from Gaza;”
“And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.”

Zechariah 9:7

“And I will take away his blood from his mouth;”
“And his abominations from between his teeth;”
“And he too shall be left to our God;”
“And he shall be as a governor in Judah;”
“And Ekron as a Jebusite.”

7. So far from looking upon the difference between the contents of the first eight and of the last six chapters as a sign of difference of authorship, we consider that the high-flown poetic language and imagery and deep prophetic insight of the latter chapters are just such as might have been expected, in his later years, from one who, in his youth, saw and related the mysterious series of visions contained in the former portion. For, as with other gifts of the Spirit, so with the gift of prophecy: we may well suppose that God gives to a man in accordance with that which he hath, and not according to that which he hath not. When, therefore, the seer, who even in his youth was found worthy of such mysterious revelations, had spent many years in communion with God, and meditation on the promises revealed by “the former prophets”—the deep things of God—it seems only in accordance with our experience of the workings of Divine Providence that he should, in after life, become the recipient of the stupendous revelations contained in the concluding chapters.
Thus the internal evidence of the two portions has been shown to be on the whole in favour of the integrity of the Book of Zechariah. It remains only to state that there is no external evidence (except that which originally led to a doubt on the subject) to the contrary. (1) In the Jewish Canon Zechariah is the eleventh in the book called “the twelve.” The books of the Hebrew Scriptures have usually in MSS.[26] no headings; but after each of the prophets, whether major or minor, three lines are usually, according to rule,[27] left empty, and then the next prophet is written. Thus between Haggai and Zechariah three lines ought to be left, just as between Jeremiah and Ezekiel. But between Zechariah 8:9[28] there is but an “open section” (pârâshâh pethûchâh), like that between Zechariah 7:8, denoting merely that the matter which follows is not so closely connected with what precedes, as would have been denoted by there being only a “closed section” (pârâshâh sethûmâh) left between: as, for instance, between Zechariah 9:8-9. Thus the very manner in which the book is written, when the laws on the subject are observed, points—from a negative, if not from a positive, point of view—to there being no doubt in the opinion of the Synagogue as to its integrity. (2) Neither in Rabbinical or Patristic writings, nor in the ancient versions, is there any trace known to us of a doubt having, in early times, been entertained on the subject. On the contrary, Zechariah 11:1 is distinctly ascribed to “Zechariah son of Iddo” (Talmud Babli, Yoma 39a). While, on the other hand, Rabbi Akivah, in a remarkable piece of exegesis (Talmud Babli, Maccoth 24b), identifies Zechariah the son of Jeberechiah with the author of Zechariah 8:4, although he is perfectly aware that Zechariah prophesied during the time of the Second Temple. At the same time it must be observed that the so-called “external evidence of the Jewish Canon” has, by previous writers, been much too strongly stated; for it must not be forgotten that the fact that a passage occurs in a book ascribed to a certain prophet is not looked on by the Jews as absolute proof that it was pronounced by him (Talmud Babli, Baba Bathra 14b). Thus Rabbi Simon, of the third and fourth centuries (Vayyikrâ Rabbah, xv. 2), ascribes Isaiah 8:19-20, to Beeri (father of Amos), and says these verses were not written in a separate book, because there was not enough to constitute one. Again, in Maccoth 24b the verse Micah 3:12 is ascribed, without remark, to Urijah the priest, the co-witness with Zechariah son of Jeberechiah (Isaiah 8:2). Whatever people may think of the critical value of these rabbinical statements, they are most significant as pointing to an acknowledged tradition of the Synagogue with regard to the manner of putting together the canonical books. If, therefore, it should be thought that Zechariah 11:1-3; Zechariah 13:7-9 have no apparent connection with the context in the places in which they stand, it would be quite admissible to suppose them to be fragments, say of Ezekiel and Jeremiah respectively, which had not been included in those books, and which were now inserted in the prophecies of Zechariah to prevent their becoming lost. With regard to the Minor Prophets in particular, Rabbi Shelomoh Yitzchaki (or Rashi, the great Jewish traditionalist of the eleventh century) says, in his commentary on Talmud Babli, Baba Bathra 15a: “As for the Twelve, since their prophecies were short, the prophets did not themselves write each his own book. But, when Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi came, and said that the spirit of prophecy was on the point of ceasing (for they were the last of the prophets), they arose and wrote down their own prophecies, and combined therewith short prophecies, and made them into one large book, in order that they should not be lost on account of their brevity.” By which he means that they took the nine other “Minor Prophets,” as we call them, and combined them with their own prophecies into one book. His words leave room also for the theory which we have propounded above, that small fragments of prophecies, which had not yet been embodied in the prophetic writings, may have been included in the “Minor Prophets.” Such is the tradition. It need not be taken as implying that Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were actual contemporaries (indeed it appears probable—see Introduction to Malachi—that Malachi prophesied some fifty years after the time of Zechariah’s latest productions), but merely that the prophets of the postexilian period formed their own prophecies and the smaller works of earlier prophets into one book. This tradition is in itself probable, and in so far as concerns the late redaction of even the older books of “the Twelve,” is corroborated by the following minute piece of internal evidence. The Massóreth tells us that with the exception of the passage Song of Solomon 4:4 (on the date of which see Introduction), the name David is written fully (i.e., with a yod between the v and the d) only in three passages of Kings, one of Ezekiel, and throughout the Minor Prophets (viz., in Hosea, Amos, and Zechariah, in which only it occurs). Thus the spelling of the name David, even in the early books, Hosea and Amos, agrees with the tradition that they were edited, so to speak, at a late date.

[26] In the Cambridge MS. of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, marked Add. 465. a scribe of the latter half of the fourteenth century has supplied running titles to the various books, according to the Jewish divisions. At the end of this MS. there is, for the purpose, as is expressly stated, of ready reference in controversy with Christians, a table of the Christian divisions of the books, in a hand not later than the early part of the fourteenth century; and a later scribe still has adopted the ordinary Christian divisions, and added them to the MS. throughout.

[27] Tûr and Shûlchân ‘Ârûc, Yorch Dçâh, § 283.

[28] These remarks will apply equally to the case of Isaiah 39, 40.

The voice of antiquity is thus unanimous in accepting the last six chapters, without question, as the work of Zechariah, the contemporary of Haggai, equally with the first eight.
In conclusion: seeing that external evidence has nothing to say against the integrity of the book, and that internal evidence (from style and contents) is rather in favour of it than otherwise, we conclude that the whole book called “Zechariah” is probably by Zechariah, grandson of Iddo.

V. Probable Date of Zechariah 9-14.—Prophets, we hold, are by Divine inspiration enabled to foretell events. Therefore it is not necessary to suppose that these chapters were written after the events to which we suppose them to refer. But, on the other hand, prophets (except with regard to the Messianic times, which were ever present in anticipation) cannot be supposed to speak of things which are not more or less pointed to by “the signs of the times” (Matthew 16:3). If they did so, they could not expect to command an audience; for why should people be expected to listen to what could have no interest for them? Accordingly, in fixing the date of these prophecies, we have two guides: it must not be so late that Zechariah could not be still alive, nor so early that the Jews could have as yet had no occasion to fear the Greeks. Supposing Zechariah to have been about twenty-one years of age in the second year of Darius (520), he would have been little over fifty soon after the battle of Marathon (490), nor much over sixty when the Persians sustained their great naval defeat at Salamis (480). It will be easily perceived how, on hearing of the victories of the Greeks over their Persian protectors, the Jews would begin to tremble lest the Greeks, confounding them with the Phœnicians—whose fleets had been requisitioned by the Persians for the subjugation of the rebellious Ionians—should wreak their vengeance on the Holy Land as well as the seaboard. At this time, then—about 489 or 479 B.C.—it seems to us probable that Zechariah was commissioned to encourage his nation with promises of God’s continued protection, and with hopes for the time to come.

VI. Contents of Zechariah 9-14.

Zechariah 9:10. Doom of adjacent nations. The struggles, but eventual triumph and security, of Israel. The coming of the King (Zechariah 9:9, sqq.).

Zechariah 11:0. [Zechariah 13:7-9(?)]. The storm threatens the shepherds. Rejection of the Good Shepherd. Doom of the foolish shepherd.

Zechariah 12:1-9. Struggles of Israel with the nations.

Zechariah 13:1-4. Zeal against prophets in general.

Zechariah 12:10-14. Mourning over Him whom they pierced.

Zechariah 13:5-6. General disclaiming of prophetic powers.

[Zechariah 13:7-9 (?)].

Zechariah 14:0 “The last things,” as seen in the light of the old dispensation.

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