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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 6

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.

Four chariots - symbolizing the various dispensations of Providence toward the Gentile or "pagan" nations, which had been more or less brought into contact with Judea, especially in punishing Babylon. Compare Zechariah 6:8 ("the north country," i:e., Babylon); Zechariah 1:15; Zechariah 2:6. The number "four" is specified not merely in reference to the four quarters of the horizon (implying universal judgments), but in allusion to the four world-kingdoms of Daniel.

Behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains - in the valley of Jehoshaphat, between Moriah and mount Olivet (Moore); or the valley between Zion and Moriah, where the Lord is (Zechariah 2:10), and whence He sends forth His ministers of judgment on the pagan (Maurer). The temple on mount Moriah is the symbol of the theocracy; hence, the nearest spot accessible to chariots in the valley below is the most suitable for a vision affecting Judah in relation to the Gentile world-powers. The chariot is the symbol of war, and so of judgments.

And the mountains were mountains of brass - the metal among the ancients representing hard solidity: so the immoveable and resistless firmness of God's people (cf. Jeremiah 1:18). Calvin explains the "two mountains" thus: The secret purpose of God from eternity does not come forth to view before the execution, but is hidden and kept back irresistibly until the fit time, as it were between lofty mountains; the chariots are the various changes worked in nations, in Chaldea, Judea, and other places, which changes, when they come to pass, as swift heralds, announce to us God's purposes which before we knew not. The "two" may thus correspond to the number of the "olive trees" (Zechariah 4:3); the allusion to the "two mountains" near the temple is not necessarily excluded in this view. Menochius makes the two refer to the fore-ordering and the execution of God's counsels. Henderson explains them to be the Medo-Persian kingdom, represented by the "two horns" (Daniel 8:3-4), now employed to execute God's purpose in punishing the nations; but the prophecy reaches far beyond those times.

Verse 2

In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;

In the first chariot were red horses - implying carnage.

In the second chariot black horses - representing sorrow; also famine (Revelation 6:5-6: cf. Zechariah 1:8 - there only red, speckled and white horses were seen; here there are also black horses).

Verse 3

And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.

And in the third chariot white horses - implying joy and victory (Calvin).

In the fourth chariot grisled - piebald. Implying a mixed dispensation, partly prosperity, partly adversity, answering to the "speckled" (Zechariah 1:8). All four dispensations, though various in character to the Gentile nations, portended alike good to God's people.

Bay - [ 'ªmutsiym (H554), from 'aamats (H553), to be strong] - rather, 'strong' or 'fleet;' so Vulgate (Gesenius). The horses have this epithet, whose, part it was to "walk to and fro through the earth" (Zechariah 6:7). However, the Septuagint and the Cbaldaic agree with the English version in referring the Hebrew to colour, not strength. [Thus, it is akin to chaamuwts ashen-gray or dapple-gray: in Isaiah 63:1 it means 'garments dyed' or sprinkled with red upon the white. Otherwise, as Bochart explains it here literally, sharp in taste; and then of a bright red, whereby they are distinguished from the horses of the first chariot, which were simply red]. See, however, Zechariah 6:7, where the Hebrew, which in the English version is translated "bay," seems to be used of the red horses. See my note there. There is no "and" in the Hebrew; so that the epithet in question does not characterize a distinct class of horses, but applies to all four, whether it means bright, or strong, or fleet.

Verse 4

Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?

What are these, my lord? The prophet humbly and teachably seeks instruction from God, and therefore seeks not in vain.

Verse 5

And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.

These are the four spirits of the heavens - the heavenly spirits, who "stand before Yahweh" to receive God's commands (Zechariah 4:14; 1 Kings 22:19; Job 2:1; Luke 1:19) in heaven (of which Zion is the counterpart on earth, note, Zechariah 6:1), and proceed with chariot-speed (2 Kings 6:17; Psalms 68:17) to execute them on earth, in its four various quarters (Psalms 104:4; Hebrews 1:7; Hebrews 1:14). (Pembellus.) Or, the secret impulses of God, which emanate from his counsel and providence; the prophet implies that all the revolutions in the four quarters of the world are from the Spirit of God, and are as it were His messengers or spirits (Calvin).

Verse 6

The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.

The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country - Babylon (note Jeremiah 1:14). The North is the quarter specified in particular whence Judah and Israel are hereafter to return to their own land (Zechariah 2:6; Jeremiah 3:18). "The black horses" go to Babylon, primarily to represent the awful desolation with which Darius visited it in the fifth year of his reign (two years after this, prophecy) for revolting (Henderson). The "white" go after the "black" horses to the same country: two sets being sent to it because of its greater cruelty and guilt in respect to Judea. The white represent Darius' triumphant subjugation of it (Moore). Rather, I think, the white are sent to victoriously subdue Medo-Persia, the second world-kingdom, lying in the same quarter as Babylon-namely, north.

And the grisled go forth toward the south - i:e., to Egypt, the other great foe of God's people. It being a part of the Groeco-Macedonian kingdom, stands for the whole of it, the third world-kingdom. Perowne (Smith's 'Bible Dictionary') less probably supposes the reference to be to the subjugation of Egypt (called Mudraja), which had revolted from Darius I. (according to recently deciphered inscriptions.) The weakening and overthrow of the Persian empire was, in this view, regarded by Zechariah as the forerunner of the setting up of the kingdom of God. But, if so, Zechariah would have 'anticipated' that which the result did not warrant. The believer's conviction that "all scripture is given by inspiration of God" confutes at once such rationalistic interpretations.

Verse 7

And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.

The bay - rather, the 'fleet' (or 'strong' or bright- coloured: see note, Zechariah 6:3). Since the "red," are not otherwise mentioned, the epithet 'fleet' (strong or bright, as the Hebrew for "bay" ought to be translated), in Zechariah 6:3, seems to apply to all four, and here especially to the red. The red doubtless have the quality implied in a pre-eminent degree. Their office is to complete hereafter the work already in part executed by the previous three, who have stilled Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Graeco-Macedonia-namely, to punish finally the last great foe of Israel, the final form assumed by the fourth world-kingdom, Rome, which is to continue down to the second advent of Christ. Hence, they "walk to and fro through the earth," counter-working Satan's "going to and fro in the earth" (Job 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 2:8-9; 1 Timothy 4:1), in connection with the last awful development of the fourth world-kingdom. Their 'fleetness' is needed to counteract his restless activity; their bright-red colour implies the final great carnage (Ezekiel 39:1-29; Revelation 19:17-18; Revelation 19:21).

Verse 8

Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.

Behold, these that go toward the north ... quieted my spirit in the north country - i:e., have caused my anger to rest (margin, Judges 8:3; Ecclesiastes 10:4; Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 16:42). Babylon alone of the four great world-kingdoms had in Zechariah's time been finally punished; therefore, in its case alone does God now say His anger is satisfied; the others had as yet to expiate their sins; the fourth has still to do so.

The Crowning of Joshua.-The double crown is placed on Joshua's head, symbolizing that the true priesthood and the kingdom shall be conferred on the one Messiah. Compare Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-21, respecting Melchizedek, who similarly combined the kingdom and the priesthood, as a type of Messiah.

Verse 9

And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 10

Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; Take of them of the captivity - take silver and gold (Zechariah 6:11) from them. The three named came from Babylon (where some of the exiled Jews still were left) to present gifts of silver and gold toward the building of the temple. But, in Zechariah 6:11; Zechariah 6:14, "crowns" are directed to be made of them, then to be set on Joshua's head, and to be deposited in the temple as a memorial of the donors until Messiah shall appear.

Even of Heldai - a name meaning robust. Called Helem below.

Tobijah - i:e., the goodness of God.

Jedaiah - i:e., God knows.

Which are come from Babylon. This clause in the Hebrew comes after "Josiah the son of Zephaniah." Therefore Moore thinks Josiah as well as the three "came from Babylon." But as he has a "house" at Jerusalem, he is plainly a resident, not a visitor. Therefore, the English version is right; or, Maurer, 'Josiah, son of Zephaniah, to whom they are come (as guests) from Babylon.'

And come thou the same day. No time was to be lost, to mark the significancy of their coming from afar to offer gifts to the temple, typifying, in the double crown made of their gifts, and set on Joshua's head, the gathering in of Israel's outcasts to Messiah hereafter, who shall then be recognized as the true king and priest.

Verse 11

Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

The high priest wore a holy crown, or 'golden plate,' 'upon his fore-front,' above the mitre (Zechariah 3:5; Leviticus 8:9). Messiah shall wear many crowns, one surmounting the other (Revelation 19:12). It was a thing before unknown in the Levitical priesthood, that the same person should wear at once the crown of a king and that of a high priest. The same combination appears in the prophecy of Messiah (Psalms 110:1-2; Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:10). Messiah shall be revealed fully in his two-fold dignity, when he shall "restore the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6).

Verse 12

And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:

Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold the man - namely, shall arise. Pilate unconsciously spake God's will concerning Him, "Behold the man!" (John 19:5.) The sense here is, 'Behold in Joshua a remarkable shadowing forth of Messiah.' It is not for his own sake that the crown is placed on him, but as type of Messiah, about to be at once King and Priest. Joshua could not individually be crowned king, not being of the royal line of David, but only in his representative character.

Whose name is The BRANCH - (note, Zechariah 3:8; Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 23:5; Jeremiah 33:15).

And he shall grow up out of his place - retaining the image of a "branch." 'He shall sprout up from His place' -

i.e., the place special to Him: not merely from Bethlehem or Nazareth but by His own power, without man's aid, in His miraculous conception (Henderson), a sense brought out in the original [mitachtaayw] 'from under Himself' or 'from (of) Himself' (Calvin). Moore makes it refer to his growing lowly in his place of obscurity, "as a tender plant, and a root out of a dry ground" (Isaiah 53:2), for 30 years unknown except as the reputed son of a carpenter. Maurer translates, "Under Him there shall be growth (in the Church).' The English version accords better with the Hebrew (cf. Exodus 10:23). The idea in a Branch is that Christ's glory is growing, not yet fully manifested as a full-grown tree. Therefore men reject Him now.

And he shall build the temple of the Lord - the promise of the future true building of the Spiritual Temple by Messiah (Matthew 16:18; 1 Corinthians 3:17; 2 Corinthians 6:16; Ephesians 2:20-22; Hebrews 3:3) is an encouragement to assure the Jews that the material temple will be built by Joshua and Zerubbabel, in spite of all seeming obstacles. It also raises their thoughts beyond the material to the spiritual temple, and also to the future glorious temple to be reared in Israel under Messiah's superintendence, (Ezekiel 40:1-49; Ezekiel 41:1-26; Ezekiel 42:1-20; Ezekiel 43:1-27.) The repetition of the same clause. "Even he shall build the temple of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:13), gives emphasis to the statement as to Messiah's work.

Verse 13

Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.

And he shall bear the glory - i:e., He shall wear the insignia of the kingly glory, "the crowns" (Psalms 21:5; Psalms 102:16; Isaiah 52:13). He himself shall bear the glory, not thou, Joshua, though thou dost bear the crowns. The Church's dignity is in her head alone, Christ. So Eliakim, type of Messiah, was to have "all the glory of his father's house hung upon him" (Isaiah 22:24).

And shall sit - implying security and permanence (Psalms 9:4).

And rule upon his throne - as the King (Psalms 110:2, to end).

And he shall be a priest upon his throne - the Antitype to Melchizedek, who was the sole Representative of a priesthood, prior and superior to the Aaronic priesthood, in that it centered in himself, and was neither derived from nor transmitted to any other man: also, in that it combined the kingship with the priesthood, (Genesis 14:18; Psalms 110:4; Hebrews 5:6; Hebrews 5:10; Hebrews 6:20; Hebrews 7:1-28.) And the counsel of peace shall be between them both. Joshua and Zerubbabel, the religious and civil authorities cooperating in the temple, typify the peace or harmonious union between both the kingly and priestly offices. The kingly majesty shall not depress the priestly dignity, nor the priestly dignity the kingly majesty (Jerome). The peace of the Church, formerly sought for in the mutual "counsels" of the kings and the priests who had been always distinct, shall be perfectly ensured by the concurrence of the two offices in the one Messiah, who by His mediatorial priesthood purchases it, and by His kingly rule maintains it. Vitringa takes "His throne" to be Yahweh the Father's. Thus it will be, 'there shall be the counsel of peace between the Branch and Yahweh' (Ludovicus de Dieu). The other view is better-namely, 'Messiahs throne.' Messiah shall be a priest upon His own throne. As Priest, He expiates sin; as King, extirpates it. "Counsel of peace" implies that it is the plan of infinite "wisdom," whence Messiah is called "Counsellor," and the scheme of redemption is called God's counsel (Isaiah 9:6; Ephesians 1:8; Ephesians 1:11, to end; Hebrews 6:17). Peace between the kingly and priestly attributes of Messiah implies, the harmonizing of the conflicting claims of God's justice as a King and His love as a Father and Priest. Hence, is produced peace to man (Luke 2:14; Acts 10:36; Ephesians 2:13-17).

It is only by being pardoned through His sacerdotal atonement, and ruled by His Kingly laws, that we can find "peace." The royal "throne" was always connected with the "temple," as is the case in the Apocalypse (Revelation 7:15), because Christ is to be a king on His throne and a priest; and because the people, whose "king" the Lord is, cannot approach Him except by a priestly mediation (Roos). Jesus shall come to effect, by His presence (Isaiah 11:4; Daniel 7:14), that which is looked for, in His absence, by other means in vain. He shall exercise His power mediatorially as priest on His throne (Zechariah 6:13); therefore His reign is for a limited period, which it could not be if it were the final and everlasting state of glory. But being for a special purpose, to reconcile all things in this world, now disordered by sin, and so present it to God the Father, that He may again for the first time since the fall come into direct connection with His creatures; therefore it is limited, forming the dispensation in the fullness of times (Ephesians 1:10), when God shall gather in one all things in Christ, the final end of which shall be, "God all in all" (1 Corinthians 15:24-28).

Verse 14

And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial - deposited in the temple to the honour of the donors (cf. the acceptance Cornelius' prayers and alms of faith, which "came up for a memorial before God," Acts 10:4); a memorial, too, of the coronation of Joshua, to remind all of Messiah, the promised antitypical King-priest, soon to come. Helem, the same as Heldai above. So Hen [ Cheen (H2581)] (i e., favour) is another name for Josiah (i:e., God founds) above. The same persons often had two names.

Verse 15

And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.

They that are far off shall come and build. The reason why the crowns were made of gold received from afar-namely, from the Jews of Babylon, was to typify the conversion of the Gentiles to Messiah, King of Israel. This, too, the call of those "that are afar off," was included in the "peace" spoken of in Zechariah 6:13 (Acts 2:39; Ephesians 2:12-17). Primarily, however, the return of the dispersed Israelites "from afar" (Isaiah 60:9), to the king of the Jews at Jerusalem, is intended; to be followed, secondly, by the conversion of the Gentiles from "far off" (Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 8:22-23; Isaiah 60:10; Isaiah 57:19, "Peace, peace to him that is far off").

And build in the temple of the Lord. Christ "builds the temple" (Zechariah 6:12-13; Hebrews 3:3-4): His people "build in the temple" (cf. Hebrews 3:2, "Moses in his house").

And ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you - when the event corresponds to the prediction. The same solemn formula occurs (Zechariah 2:9; Zechariah 4:9). The Jews' non-recognition of Messiah's divine mission has been the source of all their misery, as it has been their chief sin, and the root of all their other sins. Therefore, their recognition of Him hereafter shall be the source of all their coming blessedness and holiness.

And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God. To the Jews of Zechariah's day a stimulus is given to diligent prosecution of the temple building, the work which it was meanwhile their duty to fulfil, relying on the hope of the Messiah, who should afterward glorify it. The completion of the temple shall "come to pass," if ye diligently on your part "obey the Lord." It is not meant that their unbelief could set aside God's gracious purpose as to Messiah's coming. But there is, secondarily, meant, that Messiah's glory as Priest-king of Israel shall not be manifested to the Jews until they turn to Him with obedient penitence. They meanwhile are castaway "branches" until they be "graffed" in again on the Branch and their own olive tree (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 12:10-12; Matthew 23:39; Romans 11:16-24).


(1) The history of the world is all ordered,with a view to the final establishment of Messiah's universal kingdom upon earth. The various events which occur in the providence of God here below are to be regarded as all emanating from the immoveable decrees of God, which are symbolized by the two mountains of solid unyielding brass (Zechariah 6:1). Yahweh from His holy mount sends forth the swift messengers of His will to accomplish the various purposes of His counsel. Some go on errands of mourning and bloodshed (Zechariah 6:2): others are heralds of joy and victory (Zechariah 6:3): others have a mission of a mixed character, partly joyous, partly mournful. But all alike move with powerful and chariot-like fleetness: and all alike subserve the grand end proposed, the glory of God and the final salvation of His people. As it has been well said (Moore), 'Political changes are only the moving of the shadow on the earthly dial-plate that marks the mightiest motions going forward in the heavens.'

(2) When we are at a loss to understand the spiritual meaning of the Word, our wisdom is, like the prophet, humbly, reverently, and teachably, to seek instruction from God (Zechariah 6:4). "If any lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally" (James 1:5).

(3) As the foretold purposes of God concerning the three former world-kingdoms, Babylon, Medo-Persia, and Greece, have been all fulfilled to the letter, so shall they be fulfilled in the destruction of the last and worst form of the God-opposed fourth world-kingdom, Rome. (4) As Satan and his demons "go to and fro in the earth," so do the angelic messengers of, Yahweh "walk to and fro through the earth" (Zechariah 6:7) to counterwork him. This is the consolation of the saints; restlessly active and formidable as are the powers of darkness, they that are on the side of the Church are more powerful than all that are against her; the ultimate issue of the struggle is not dubious; the victory of the Lord and His people is most certain. Not until then shall the Lord's anger be caused to rest, and, His justice having been satisfied in the destruction of all His enemies, His mercy shall have free scope to His, people.

(5) The two crowns set upon Joshua's head symbolize the combination, in the person of Messiah, of both the priesthood and the kingdom. There can be no royal rule of the Lord set up in the heart, unless first there be applied to it the blood of atonement which He offered for us as our great High Priest. He is our antitypical Melchizedek, "the (king) priest of the Most High God." Let us never sever what God hath joined; and, on the one hand let us not think we belong to Him, as our Lord and King, unless we have come to Him as our Priest, who hath reconciled us to God by the sacrifice of Himself: nor, on the other hand, let us suppose that we can have the benefit of His meritorious Priesthood and sacrifice, unless we are willing to submit ourselves, body, and soul, and spirit, to Him as our King.

(6) The gifts of gold and silver presented to the temple by the Jews from Babylon, and converted into the crowns which were put upon, the high priest, foreshadow the time when Israel's outcasts shall come from the various lauds of their dispersion afar off to Messiah, their Priest-King (Zechariah 6:10-11). Already the Gentiles, who were once "far off" (Zechariah 6:15; Ephesians 2:17), are coming and building in the spiritual temple of the Lord. But the fully manifested glory of Messiah and His Church shall not be, until He shall "restore the kingdom to Israel" (Acts 1:6). Then shall all eyes with adoring joy "behold the man" (Zechariah 6:12) of whom once Pilate in contempt said, "Behold the man!" (John 19:5).

(7) He, as THE BRANCH, once a "tender plant," but then about to be the fully, matured tree, under whose shadowing boughs "shall dwell all fowl of every wing" (Ezekiel 17:23), shall not merely build in the temple but "even He shall build the temple of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:13). He shall not merely bear the crowns, like Joshua the type, but "He shall bear the glory." It shall be an "exceeding and eternal weight of glory," too great for mere mortal to bear, but not too weighty for the infinite Yahweh-Jesus to bear. His people, by union with Him, shall share in the blessed burden of glory, as He, and they after Him, have borne the trying burden of the cross.

(8) When Christ sits as the King-Priest upon His throne (Zechariah 6:13), the "counsel" of God shall be realized in the establishment of "peace," between the seemingly conflicting claims of God's justice as a King and God's mercy as a Father and Priest. From this harmonious union flows "peace" to them that are afar off, and to them that are nigh. When Israel, which has so long rejected Messiah, "shall obey the voice of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:15), and acknowledge that "the Lord of hosts hath sent" Jesus to be the Saviour and "King of the Jews" thee shall the spiritual temple be completed, and the glory of Messiah be fully manifested to Israel, and through her to the remotest Gentiles.

(9) Meanwhile let us remember, every exertion, prayer, and self-denying gift, for the setting up of Messiah's kingdom among the Jews and the pagan, shall be, like the crowns of Hen, Helem, Tobijab. and Jedaiah, laid up "for a memorial in the temple of the Lord" above (Zechariah 6:14). Like the general body of the Jews in Babylon, we may not be able to go in person to the mission fields; but we can, like them, send our representatives to act in our stead, and to hasten the time when Jesus shall wear his many crowns. "Diligent obedience to the voice of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:15) is the condition or share in the coming inheritance of glory: and if we are not laying up a memorial to our eternal remembrance before the Lord as His people, we are laying up a treasure of wrath against the day of wrath. Missionary activity is the sign of spiritual life; the absence of it is the sign of spiritual deadness. Let us then come with all our heart, and build in the temple of the Lord" (Zechariah 6:15). So shall our "prayers and alms," as the fruits of our justification by faith alone, "come up for a memorial before God" (Acts 10:4).

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 6". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/zechariah-6.html. 1871-8.
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