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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Zechariah 12

Verse 1

The burden of the word of the LORD for Israel, saith the LORD, which stretcheth forth the heavens, and layeth the foundation of the earth, and formeth the spirit of man within him.

The burden weighty prophecy [ masaa' (H4853)], fraught with destruction to Israel's foes; the expression may also refer to the distresses of Israel implied as about to precede the deliverance.

Of the word of the Lord for Israel - concerning Israel (Maurer).

The Lord, which stretcheth forth the heavens - present: now; not merely 'hath stretched forth,' as if God only created and then left the universe to itself (John 5:17, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work"). To remove all doubts of unbelief as to the possibility of Israel's deliverance, God prefaces the prediction of it, and of the new and blessed order of things on earth which shall follow, by reminding us of His creative and sustaining power (cf. a similar preface, Isaiah 42:5; Isaiah 43:1; Isaiah 65:17-18).

And formeth the spirit of man within him - (Numbers 16:22; Hebrews 12:9).

Verse 2

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling - a cup, causing those who drink it to reel; from a Hebrew root to reel [ raa`al (H7477)]. Jerusalem, who drank the "cup of trembling" herself, shall be so to her foes (Isaiah 51:17; Isaiah 51:22; Jeremiah 13:13). Calvin, with the Septuagint, translates [ cap (H5592)], 'a threshold of destruction,' on which they shall stumble and be crushed when they attempt to cross it. The English version is better. However, the term is often used of a basin or large vessel placed at the upper threshold. And the Septuagint translate it, 'the vestibule' [prothura]. So that the cup of trembling is to be drunk by the enemy when he has reached as far as the very threshold of the city.

When they shall be in the siege both against Judah and Jerusalem. The Hebrew order of words is literally 'And also against Judah shall he (the foe) be in the siege against Jerusalem:' implying virtually that Judah, as it shares the invasion along with Jerusalem, so it shall, like the metropolis, prove a cup of trembling to the invaders. Maurer, with Jerome, translates, 'also upon Judah shall be the (cup of trembling); i:e., some Jews forced by the foe shall join in the assault on Jerusalem, and shall share the overthrow with the besiegers. But Zechariah 12:6-7, show that Judah escapes and proves the scourge of the foe.

Verse 3

And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces, though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it.

And in that day will I make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people: all that burden themselves with it shall be cut in pieces - (Zechariah 14:4; Zechariah 14:6-9; Zechariah 14:13). Jerome states it was a custom in Palestine to test the strength of youths by their lifting up a massive stone; the phrase, "burden themselves with it," refers to this custom. Compare Matthew 21:44; the Jews "fell" on the rock of offence, Messiah, and were "broken;" but the rock shall fall on Antichrist, who "burdens himself with it" by his assault on the restored Jews, and "grind him to powder."

Though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it. The anti-Christian confederacy against the Jews shall be almost universal.

Verse 4

In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with astonishment, and his rider with madness: and I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the people with blindness.

I will smite every horse with astonishment - the arm of attack especially formidable to Judah, who was unprovided with cavalry. So in the overthrow of Pharaoh (Exodus 15:19; Exodus 15:21, "The horse and his rider hath He (the Lord) thrown into the sea").

And I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah - in order to watch over Judah's safety. Heretofore Yahweh seemed to have shut His eyes, as having no regard for her.

And will smite every horse of the people with blindness - so as to rush headlong on their own ruin (cf. Zechariah 14:12-13).

Verse 5

And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the LORD of hosts their God.

And the governors of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength in the Lord of hosts their God. "Shall say" - namely, when they see the foe divinely smitten with "madness."

Judah ... Jerusalem - here distinguished as the country and the metropolis. Judah recognizes her "strength" to be "Jerusalem and its inhabitants" as the instrument, and "Yahweh of hosts their God" (dwelling especially there) as the author of all power (Joel 3:16). My strength is the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who have the Lord their God as their help. The repulse of the foe by the metropolis shall assure the Jews of the country that the same divine aid shall save them.

Verse 6

In that day will I make the governors of Judah like an hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left: and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.

In that day will I make the governors of Judah. On "governors of Judah" see note, Zechariah 9:7.

Like an hearth of fire among the wood - "hearth," or pan.

And like a torch of fire in a sheaf - though small, it shall consume the many foes around. One prophet supplements the other. Thus Isaiah 29:1-24; Joel 3:1, and Zechariah 12:1-14; Zechariah 13:1-9; Zechariah 14:1-21, describe more Antichrist's army than himself. Daniel (Daniel 7:8) represents him as a little horn growing out of the fourth beast or fourth kingdom; John (Revelation 13:1-18) as a separate beast, having an individual existence. Daniel dwells on his worldly conquests as a king; John more on his spiritual tyranny, whence he adds a second beast-namely, the false prophet coming in a semblance of spirituality (Revelation 16:13). What is briefly described by one is more fully prophesied by the other (Rosseau).

Verse 7

The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem do not magnify themselves against Judah.

The Lord also shall save the tents of Judah. Judah is to be 'first saved' because of her meek acknowledgment of dependence on Jerusalem, subordinate to Yahweh's aid.

The tents of Judah - shifting and insecure, as contrasted with the solid fortifications of Jerusalem. But God chooses the weak to confound the mighty, that all human glorying may be set aside.

Verse 8

In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them.

In that day shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem. Jerusalem, however, also shall be specially strengthened against the foe.

And he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David - to the Jew the highest type of strength and glory on earth (2 Samuel 17:8, "a man of war;" 2 Samuel 18:3; such shall the weakest citizen of Jerusalem become; Joel 3:10).

And the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the Lord before them - the Divine Angel that went "before them" through the desert, the highest type of strength and glory in heaven (Exodus 23:20; Exodus 32:34). "The house of David" is the "prince" and his family sprung from David (Ezekiel 45:7; Ezekiel 45:9). David's house was then in a comparatively weak state.

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.

I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem - I will set myself with determined earnestness to destroy, etc. (Haggai 2:22).

Verse 10

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace. The And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace. The future conversion of the Jews is to flow from an extraordinary outpouring of the Holy Spirit (Jeremiah 31:9; Jeremiah 31:31-34; Ezekiel 39:29).

The spirit of grace and of supplications. "Spirit" is here, not the spirit produced, but THE HOLY SPIRIT, producing a "gracious" disposition, and inclination for "supplication." Calvin explains "spirit of grace" as 'the grace of God Himself (whereby He "pours" out his bowels of mercy), conjoined with the sense of it in man's heart.' The "spirit of supplication" is the mercury whose rise of fall is an unerring test of the state of the Church (Moore). In the Hebrew [ cheen (H2580) wªtachanuwniym (H8469)] "grace" and "supplications" are kindred terms; translate, therefore, 'gracious supplications' The plural implies suppliant prayers "without ceasing." Herein not merely external help against the foe, as before, but internal grace, is promised subsequently.

They shall look upon me - with profoundly-earnest regard, as the Messiah whom they so long denied.

Whom they have pierced - implying, Messiah's humanity: as "I will pour the spirit" implies His divinity.

They shall look ... and they shall mourn. True repentance arises from the sight by faith of the crucified Saviour. It is the tear that drop from the eye of faith looking on Him. Terror only produces remorse. The true penitent weeps over his sins in love to Him who in love has suffered for them.

They shall look upon me ... and they shall mourn for him. The change of person is due to Yahweh-Messiah speaking in His own person first, then the prophet speaking of Him. The Jews, to avoid the conclusion that He whom they have "pierced" is Yahweh-Messiah, who says, "I will pour out the spirit," altered "me" [ 'eelay (H413)] into "him" [ 'eelayw (H413)], and represent the "pierced" One to be Messiah-Ben (son of) Joseph, who was to suffer in battle with Gog, before Messiah-Ben David should come to reign. But the Hebrew, Chaldaic, Syriac, and Arabic oppose this: and the ancient Jews interpreted it as of Messiah. Psalms 22:16 also refers to His being "pierced." "They pierced my hands and my feet." So John 19:37; Revelation 1:7 The actual piercing of His side was the culminating point of all their insulting treatment of Him. The act of the Roman soldier who pierced Him was their act, and is so accounted here in Zechariah, inasmuch as they took upon themselves the responsibility of the deed, saying, "His blood be on us and on our children" (Matthew 27:25). The Hebrew word [ daaqaaruw (H1856)] is always used of a literal piercing (so Zechariah 13:3, the same Hebrew verb is translated "shall thrust him through"), not of metaphorical piercing, 'insulted,' as Maurer and other Rationalists [from the Septuagint, katoorcheesanto] represent.

As one mourneth for his only son - (Jeremiah 6:26; Amos 8:10). A proverbial phrase, peculiarly forcible among the Jews, who felt childlessness as a curse and dishonour. Applied with special propriety to mourning for Messiah, "the first-born among many brethren" (Romans 8:29).

Verse 11

In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.

In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon. As in Zech In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon. As in Zechariah 12:10, the bitterness of their mourning is illustrated by a private case of mourning, so in this verse by a public one, the greatest recorded in Jewish history, that for the violent death in battle with Pharaoh-necho of the good King Josiah, whose reign had been the only gleam of brightness for the period from Hezekiah to the downfall of the state; lamentations were written by Jeremiah for the occasion (2 Kings 23:29-30; 2 Chronicles 35:22-27).

Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon - a place or city in the great plain of Esdraelon, the battlefield of many a conflict, near Megiddo; called so from the Syrian idol Rimmon. Hadad also was the name of the sun, a chief god of the Syrians, (Macrob, Saturnalia,' 1: 23).

Verses 12-14

And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;

And the land shall mourn, every family apart - a universal and an individual mourning at once.

The family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart: the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart - representing the highest and lowest of the royal order. Nathan, not the prophet, but a younger son of David (2 Samuel 5:14; Luke 3:31).

Apart - retirement and seclusion are needful for deed personal religion.

Their wives apart - Jewish females worship separately from the males (Exodus 15:1; Exodus 15:20).

The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart - the highest and lowest of the priestly order (Numbers 3:18; Numbers 3:21). Their example, and that of the royal order, would of course influence the rest.

Verse 14. All the families that remain - after the fiery ordeal, in which two-thirds shall fall (Zechariah 13:8-9).

Remarks:

(1) The remembrance of God's omnipotence as the Creator and Sustainer of the universe, which is as much put forth now as in the first day when he called worlds into existence out of nothing, and breathed into man's nostrils the breath of life, is well calculated to remove all doubts of His power to fulfill His promises to Israel and to the Church (Zechariah 12:1). God as really maintains in being the vast system of nature as He originated it. To ignore this, and to substitute for the personal God, distinct from His own creation, the theory of the government and maintenance of the world by the so-called laws of nature, from which all deviation at the will of a superior being is impossible, is to confound nature with the God who rules it; and however such pantheism may pass current as philosophy in the world, it is against the sure Word of God; and the step from it to the grossest fetishism and idolatry of nature is an easy and certain one. (2) Jerusalem, which has for so long drunk "the cup of trembling" herself, shall at last become a cup of trembling to her foes (Zechariah 12:2). The anti-Christian foes who oppress the Church shall find that they, have been burdening themselves with a "stone" which shall, in the end, "grind them to powder" (Zechariah 12:3). Those of the Jews who fell on "the stone of stumbling" have been "broken" thereby. Still, an elect remnant shall be left. But none of the confederate hosts of Antichrist upon whom that stone shall fall shall escape. They shall, in blind and mad infatuation, rush upon their own ruin (Zechariah 12:4). The Lord, who has heretofore seemed to have no regard for His ancient people, shall again "open His eyes upon the house of Judah" (Zechariah 12:4). So in the case of the Church, though God may for a time hide His face, yet in due season He will look upon her, and upon every true believer, with manifested mercy, and it shall be seen that "He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep" (Psalms 121:4).

(3) While we look to human instruments of help as our "strength," we must look above them to the "Lord of hosts their God," who alone is the author of their and our strength (Zechariah 12:5)

(4) A small "torch of fire" is enough to destroy a large "sheaf" (Zechariah 12:6): so a small band of believers can be made by the Lord more than a match for all the hosts of Satan.

(5) Forsaken and weak as is Jerusalem now (Zechariah 12:6), "she shall be inhabited again in her own place" (Zechariah 12:6). The Lord will begin by delivering the weakest, lest the stronger should "magnify" or attribute any "glory" to themselves (Zechariah 12:7). So God in His Church often calls the poor, the unlearned, and the despised, among the foremost, lest those higher in position, circumstances, or education, when they are called, should be tempted to glory over their humbler brethren.

(6) When once the Lord interposes in His people's behalf, even the "feeble" among them becomes mighty like "David;" and those strong in the faith of David become strengthened with no less a might than that of "God," the Lord of David, the Divine Angel of the Lord that went "before" Israel in the days of old (Zechariah 12:8). Let us seek to be indeed thus "strong in the Lord, and in the power of His might" (Ephesians 6:10).

(7) The spiritual restoration of Jerusalem shall precede the temporal restoration, and shall result from a special outpouring upon them of "the spirit of grace and of supplications" (Zechariah 12:10). We must not expect any great and universal state of outward blessedness unless there has been first worked in men an inward and spiritual regeneration. And this is to be looked for only in connection with an outpouring of the Spirit of God. To hope for a revival of religion apart from the Holy Spirit's operation, would be as unreasonable as to look for the growth of crops without the air and rains of heaven.

(8) True repentance is inseparable from faith in the crucified Saviour. The sight, by faith, of His sufferings on account of our sins produces in us tender sorrow for His pains, and bitter mourning for our transgressions which caused them, and a hearty renunciation henceforth of all sin. It is not written, they shall first mourn, and then look upon Him whom they have pierced, but, "they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn." Such mourning is no ordinary sorrow. It is the "bitterness" of one mourning for "the first-born among many brethren" (Zechariah 12:10; Romans 8:29). It is the sorrowing of one deeply grieved at having pained One who has loved us so wonderfully, and forgiven us so freely. It flows from faith and produces love.

(9) True religion is a personal thing, and leads the penitent believer to "mourn apart" (Zechariah 12:11-14). It is also a "family" concern: and, in the coming day of grace to Jerusalem, each "family shall mourn apart." It will at last be a national concern: "the land shall mourn" (Zechariah 12:12). Prayer and supplication before the throne of Him who was "pierced" by our sins, are the precursors of all the partial revivals which are vouchsafed now to the Church, and shall precede the universal revival, and final and complete triumph of Christianity throughout the earth. "Lord, teach us to pray!"

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 12". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/zechariah-12.html. 1871-8.