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Zechariah 5:2 . What seest thou? I see a flying roll. Hebrews meghilla, a parchment, a terrific scroll, twenty cubits in length, and ten in breadth, an oblong in measure like the courts of the temple. A banner which the hand of an angel only could wave and carry through the air. The writing was large, as on our flags, that the people might read the curse on the thief, and on the false-swearer. This couplet of crimes generally go together. The thief, who has carried off the wealth of the industrious, will swear to a thousand lies to cover his crimes. The Greeks swore μα δια , by Jupiter, by Hercules; the Romans by Cæsar, or by the gods; the papists swear by Jesus, by his blood and wounds, or by the holy virgin. Ah, little do they think that heaven will exact their oaths, and make the extortioner “vomit up his riches.” Job 20:15. Better to hear the oracle of truth, “swear not at all.” Matthew 5:34. This banner is the harbinger of Theos, the allseeing God. He will bring the curse on him who swears falsely by the name of the Lord, as he did on the princes of Judah. Jeremiah 31:18; Jeremiah 39:6. See the case of Ruth Pearce, recited on Acts 5:0.
Zechariah 5:6 . This is an ephah, the short bushel, that goeth forth. Exodus 29:40. The bowl of Poland, the amphora of the Romans, and this dry measure of the Hebrews were nearly alike, and adapted to labour and trade. This ephah was to be seen in the air, so magnified as to hold a woman, the feminine representative of the jewish nation. Mythology has mostly preferred a goddess as a titular deity, Pallas for Athens, and Britannia for our Island. The vision designates the merchant accumulating a fortune by various unlawful gains, and then spreading his wings to fly away from a character that will not bear inspection: but he takes with him the talent of lead at the bottom of the bushel, which sinks his soul lower than the grave.
Zechariah 5:9 . There came out two women, and the wind was in their wings. The LXX, “my fury was in their wings.” The woman imprisoned in the ephah was the jewish nation. The two women that bore her away to Shinar, the country about Babylon, seem to be emblematical of the double deportation of the jews; that of Jehoiakim fourteen years before that of Zedekiah, which followed after. Their wings were not like those of the eagle, but the more slow and heavy ones of the stork, the swan or the kite. The prophets were very exact and ingenious in the use of figures. Building the house in the provinces of Babylon denotes the long duration of the captivity. Jeremiah wrote to the jews to build houses and plant gardens: Jeremiah 29:5.
Sin is the reproach of any people. The sins in trade develope the covetousness and pride of the heart. They hide and cover those latent sins, which the righteous Lord will publish to all the world, with a banner too large for mortal arms to bear; a banner loaded with execrations, which rouses the guilty conscience to arms.
Wicked men, detected in the sins of theft and fraud, and brought to a hearing, not only cover their crimes, but often deny them with perjuries. They call heaven to witness the truth of their words, as though the Holy One were a sinner like themselves. The thief, who carries off the hard earnings of industry, excites every revolting feeling in the man he robs; and though he steals under the cover of ingenious concealment, he cannot conceal his crime: every thing about him excites suspicion, and tends to detection. But the prophet’s views were higher than the rebuke of private delinquencies and frauds; he aimed his blows at a nation of robbers of God, and of perjured princes to the king of Babylon.
We learn also the severe and equal lesson, that the sins of the fathers attach temporally to their children, and even to the third and fourth generation. It was the grandchildren that returned from Babylon, though exceptions were made to a few aged men, who had seen the former temple. Punishments on earth, and torments in hell, are both united to deter mankind from acquiring riches by injustice. Oh that the Lord would write his purer law on our hearts, to love him with all our mind and strength, and our neighbour as ourselves. The only remedy for national crimes is regeneration, connected with all the institutions of religious charity and goodwill. The poor must all be employed, else the idle and hungry will rob and steal.
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Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 5". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany