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And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;
In the fourth year of king Darius - two years after the previous prophecies, (Zechariah 1:1, etc.)
In the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu - meaning torpidity, the state in which nature is in November, answering to this month.
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regem-melech, and their men - the Jews of the country "sent to the House of God" or congregation at Jerusalem. The altar was long since reared (Ezra 3:3), though the temple was not completed until two years afterward "in the third day of the, mouth Adar, in the sixth year of Darius the king" (Ezra 6:15). The priests' duty was to give decision on rots of the law (Deuteronomy 17:9; Matthew 2:4). Bethel is here used instead of Beth-Jehovah, because the religious authorities rather than the house itself, designated Beth-Jehovah next verse, are intended. The old Bethel had long ceased to be the seat of idol worship, so that the name had lost its opprobrious meaning. "The house of the Lord" is used for the congregation of worshippers, headed by their priests (Zechariah 3:7; for Hosea 8:1). Thus the way was paved for the spiritual use of the expression "house of the Lord," as applied to the Church of the New Testament (Hebrews 3:6).
Maurer makes the "house of God" nominative to 'sent.' Henderson translates, instead of "house of God," "Bethel," and similarly, as Maurer 'When Bethel sent Sherezer,' etc. He objects to the English version that not [ Beeyt-'Eel (H1008)] Bethel, the house of God, but [ Beeyt (H1004) Yahweh (H3068)] Beth-Jehovah, the house of Yahweh, is always used of the temple. But it is not the case, as he alleges, that the temple is 'uniformly called the house of Yahweh.' For at this very time when Zechariah wrote Ezra (Zechariah 7:8,15; Zechariah 6:7; 7:20,23 ) uses the phrase "the house of God." [ beeyt (H1004) 'Elaahaa': the variation from 'Eel (H410) is slight; and probably is employed with designed allusion to Jacob's original employment of the name, Genesis 28:19, Beeyt-'Eel (H1008): Genesis 35:1, "Go up to Bethel"] The Jews' going up to the house of God now was exactly similar to Jacob's formerly. His house of God consisted as yet of but a pillar first, then an altar set up, in connection with which God manifested His favour (Genesis 28:17-18; Genesis 28:22; Genesis 35:1; Genesis 35:7).
So the house of God now consisted of merely the altar set up, and the congregation of priests, who were favoured So the house of God now consisted of merely the altar set up, and the congregation of priests, who were favoured with God's presence in connection with the worship at it. Thus, the Jews were reminded of God's power to bless the obedient, as He did their ancestor Jacob in connection with the bare altar, even before the temple was reared. See below another possible reason for the use of the term Bethel. "Speak unto the priests ... in the house of the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 7:3), is evidently parallel to, and explanatory of, "sent unto the house of God" in this Zechariah 7:2. Moreover, in Zechariah 7:5, it is not to the people of Bethel, as though they had been the inquirers, but "unto all the people of the land," that "the word of the Lord" came in reply.
Sherezer - an Assyrian name, meaning Prefect of the treasury.
Regem-melech - meaning The king's official. These names perhaps intimate the semi-pagan character of the inquirers, which may also be implied in the name "Bethel" (Hebrew for "house of God"), so notorious once for its calf-worship. They sent to Yahweh's house, as their forefathers sent to old Bethel, not (like Jacob at Bethel) in the spirit of true obedience.
To pray before the Lord, [ lªchalowt (H2470)] - literally, to stroke or entreat the face of, etc - i:e., to offer sacrifices, the accompaniment of prayers, to conciliate His favour (1 Samuel 13:12).
And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?
And to speak unto the priests ... and to the prophets - Haggai and Zechariah especially.
Should I weep in the fifth month - "I" represents here the people of God (cf. Zechariah 8:21). Their hypocrisy appeared, because they showed man concern about a ceremony of human institution (not improper in itself) than about moral obedience. If too, they had trusted God's promise as to the restoration of church and state, the fast would have now given place to joy, for which there was more cause than for grief (Pembellus). The 10th day of the 5th month was kept a fast, being the anniversary of the destruction of Jerusalem (Jeremiah 52:12-14). They ask, Should the fast be continued, now that the temple and city are being restored?
Separating myself, [ hinaazeer (H5144) Niphal conjugation, from gaazar (H5144), to separate one's self by a vow of consecration] - sanctifying myself by separation, not only from food, but from all defilements (cf. Joel 2:16), as was usual in a solemn fast.
Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying, No JFB commentary on this verse.
Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?
Speak unto all the people of the land. The question had been asked in the name of the people in general, by Sherezer and Regem-melech. The self-imposed fast they were tired of, not having observed it in the spirit of true religion.
When ye fasted and mourned in the ... seventh month. This fast was in memory of the murder of Gedaliah and those with him at Mizpah, issuing in the dispersion of the Jews (2 Kings 25:25-26; Jeremiah 41:1-3).
Did ye at all fast unto me, even to me? - No: it was to gratify yourselves in hypocritical will-worship. If it had been "unto me" ye would have "separated yourselves" not only from food, but from your sins (Isaiah 58:3-7). They falsely made the fast an end, intrinsically meritorious in itself, not a means toward God's glory in their sanctification. The true principle of piety, reference to God, was wanting; hence, the emphatic repetition of "unto me." Before settling questions as to the outward forms of piety (however proper, as in this case), the great question was as to piety itself; that being once settled, all their outward observances become sanctified being "unto the Lord" (Ram. 14:6).
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves? - literally, Is it not ye who did eat? and ye who did drink? - i:e., it is not unto ME and MY glory. It tends no more to My glory, your feasting than your fasting.
Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?
Should ye not hear the words which the Lord hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity - rather, thus supply the ellipsis, '(Should ye) not (do) the words which, etc;' as their question virtually was as to what they should do (Zechariah 7:3); "hearing" is not mentioned until Zechariah 7:12. "The sense is, It is not fasts, and such-like ceremonial performances, that Yahweh requires of you, but that ye should keep His precepts, given to you at the time when Jerusalem was in its integrity. Had ye done so then, ye would have had no occasion to institute fasts to commemorate its destruction, for it would never have been destroyed (Zechariah 7:9-14). (Maurer.) Or, as margin, 'Are not these the words of the older prophets, who similarly denounced the hypocrisy, and the consequent punishment, of fasts without obedience to God, when the people came similarly, as now in Zechariah's day affecting to desire to know the will of God? (Isaiah 58:2-3; Jeremiah 14:12.) Remember how your former prophets threatened a curse for disobedience, which the event has so awfully confirmed. If ye follow them in sin, ye must follow them in suffering. The English version is good sense: ye inquire anxiously in order to hear about the fasts, whereas ye ought to be anxious about hearing the lesson taught by the former prophets, and verified in the nation's punishment: penitence and obedience are what God mainly requires, rather than fasts.
When men inhabited the south and the plain? - "the south" [ wªha-Negeb (H5045)], the Negeb, a hilly tract; the word means, literally a dry and desert land, such as were the mountains in Judea. In contrast to "the plain," wªhashªpeelaah (H8219), the Shephelah (low-lying region). This champaign region lay southwest of Jerusalem. They then inhabited securely the region most unguarded. No part of the whole country was uninhabited.
And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,
No JFB commentary on this verse.
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts - implying that these precepts addressed to their ancestors were the requirements of Yahweh, not merely then, but now. Execute true judgment, and show mercy and compassions every man to his brother. We must not only not hurt, but help our fellow-men. God is pleased with such loving obedience, rather than with empty ceremonies.
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
Let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart - i:e., let none devise evil. The Septuagint take it, harbour not the desire of revenge (Leviticus 19:18). "Devise not evil against one another" is simpler (Psalms 36:4; Micah 2:1).
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
But they ... pulled away the shoulder, [ yitªnuw (H5414) kaateeep cowraaret] - literally, 'presented a refractory shoulder:' an image from beasts refusing to bear the yoke (margin, Nehemiah 9:29).
And stopped their ears - (Isaiah 6:10; Jeremiah 7:26; Acts 7:57).
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant - (Ezekiel 3:9; Ezekiel 11:19).
Lest they should hear the law, and the words which the Lord of hosts hath sent in his Spirit by the former prophets - i:e., sent by the former prophets inspired with his Spirit (cf. Haggai 1:13, the Lord's messenger in the Lord's message). Therefore came a great wrath from the Lord of hosts - (2 Chronicles 36:16). Since they pushed from them the yoke of obedience, God laid on them the yoke of oppression. Since they made their heart hard as adamant, God broke their hard hearts with judgments. Hard hearts must expect hard treatment. The harder the stone, the harder the blow of the hammer to break it.
Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried - by His prophets.
And they would not hear; so they cried - in their calamities.
And I would not hear - retribution in kind (Proverbs 1:24-26; Isaiah 1:15; Micah 3:4).
But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.
But I scattered them with a whirlwind - of wrath (Nahum 1:3).
Among all the nations whom they knew not - foreign and barbarous.
Thus the land was desolate after them - after their expulsion and exile. It was ordered remarkably by God's providence that no occupants, took possession of it, but that during the Jews' absence it was reserved for them against their return after seventy years.
For they laid the pleasant land desolate - the Jews did so by their sins. The blame of their destruction lay with themselves, rather than with the Babylonians (2 Chronicles 36:21).
The pleasant land - Canaan-literally, the land of desire (Jeremiah 3:19, margin)
(1) When we are in doubt as to any point of duty, our wisest course is to lay the whole case in prayer before the (1) When we are in doubt as to any point of duty, our wisest course is to lay the whole case in prayer before the Lord, asking to be directed by His good Spirit what He would have us to do.
(2) But in so asking for heavenly guidance, we must see that we ask in sincerity, and not self-deceit or hypocrisy. To have more regard to outward ordinances than to moral obedience is essentially hypocritical (Zechariah 7:3), Men will much more readily "separate themselves" from particular foods, and from outward contact with the world, than from the inward defilements of the heart, which are what mainly pollute us.
(3) In all our religious observances we should conscientiously sift our motives-Is it unto the Lord, or unto self, that we regard them? (Zechariah 7:5-6.) Where self is the center where all our actions and performances converge, God is dethroned from His rightful position. Holy services, as fastings, alms-givings, and humiliations, ought all to have reference to God and His glory as their main end.
(4) When we humble ourselves on account of bygone judgments inflicted on our country, our families, and ourselves, we must not stop short there: we must also search the Scriptures of "the prophets," in order to know the ground of the Lord's past visitations of wrath.
(5) The history of Judah and Jerusalem is especially profitable to study as a sample of the principle upon which God deals with His people (Zechariah 7:7). Once the whole country was filled with a prosperous people. Had the Jews then obeyed the warning voice of God by His prophets they would not have had to mourn and fast for the humiliation of their country. Too often the admonitions of ministers are disregarded by those who are flushed with prosperity. So it was with the Jews before the captivity: and their children, after the captivity, were now failing to learn the lesson to be derived from the case of their fathers. Let us learn heavenly wisdom from the bitter experience of others, rather than have to lament too late our self-destroying blindness and perverse impenitence.
(6) The word of the Lord of hosts (Zechariah 7:9) to past generations is as much addressed to us as to them; because His requirements are the same in all ages: He demands not merely religious profession, but the practice of every social duty. Not merely are we not to "imagine evil against" our fellow-men, but we are positively to "show mercy and compassions every man to his brother." Ceremonial observances, when accompanied with these "weightier matters of the law," are acceptable before God; but, without them, are a solemn mockery of the heart-searching Yahweh.
(7) Nothing is more amazing than the self-willed obstinacy of sinners. Though God seeks solely their good in His loving appeals, they virtually "pull away the shoulder, and stop, their ears," and make "their hearts as an adamant" (Zechariah 7:11-12).
(8) It is the Holy Spirit, in His inspired servants, and not mere man, that such persons resist. How just, then, is the retribution in kind wherewith they are visited! Since they cherish hard hearts, they must expect hard judgments. Since they will not hearken to the voice of God's mercy, they must hear the voice of God's "wrath" (Zechariah 7:12). As they will not hear His cry in their day of grace, so God will not hear their cry in His day of vengenace (Zechariah 7:13).
(9) They who sin, themselves "lay desolate" all that was once "pleasant" in their portion (Zechariah 7:14). In the coming day of retribution the lost shall lay all the blame of their misery on their own infatuation. Let us learn betimes to improve our spiritual privileges, and to hear God's loving voice appealing to us as a Father to His children (Zechariah 7:13); so shall we reach the heavenly "land of desire" (margin, Zechariah 7:14), where desolation is unknown, and where the sillier can never come.
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Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 7". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany