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The first word of the Lord was addressed to the prophet Zechariah in the eighth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, and therefore about two months after Haggai's first prophecy and the commencement of the rebuilding of the temple, which that prophecy was intended to promote (compare Zechariah 1:1 with Haggai 1:1 and Haggai 1:15), and a few weeks after Haggai's prophecy of the great glory which the new temple would receive (Haggai 2:1-1 Samuel :). Just as Haggai encouraged the chiefs and the people of Judah to continue vigorously the building that had been commenced by this announcement of salvation, so Zechariah opens his prophetic labours with the admonition to turn with sincerity to the Lord, and with the warning not to bring the same punishment upon themselves by falling back into the sins of the fathers. This exhortation to repentance, although it was communicated to the prophet in the form of a special revelation from God, is actually only the introduction to the prophecies which follow, requiring thorough repentance as the condition of obtaining the desired salvation, and at the same time setting before the impenitent and ungodly still further heavy judgments.
(Note: “The prophet is thus instructed by God, that, before exhibiting to the nation the rich blessings of God for them to look at under the form of symbolical images, he is to declare the duty of His people, or the condition upon which it will be becoming in God to grant them an abundant supply of these good things.” - Vitringa, Comm. in Sach. p. 76.)
Zechariah 1:1. Bachōdesh hasshemı̄nı̄ does not mean “on the eighth new moon” (Kimchi, Chr. B. Mich., Koehl.); for chōdesh is never used in chronological notices for the new moon, or the first new moon's day (see at Exodus 19:1). The day of the eighth month is left indefinite, because this was of no importance whatever to the contents of this particular address. The word of the Lord was as follows: Zechariah 1:2. “Jehovah was angry with wrath concerning your fathers. Zechariah 1:3. And thou shalt say to them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Return ye to me, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, so will I return to you, saith Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 1:4. Be not like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Turn now from your evil ways, and from your evil actions! But they hearkened not, and paid no attention to me, is the saying of Jehovah.” The statement in Zechariah 1:2 contains the ground for the summons to turn, which the prophet is to address to the people, and is therefore placed before ואמרתּ in Zechariah 1:3, by which this summons is introduced. Because the Lord was very angry concerning the fathers, those who are living now are to repent with sincerity of heart. The noun qetseph is added as the object to the verb, to give it greater force. The nation had experienced the severe anger of God at the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, and of Jerusalem and the temple, and also in exile. The statement in Zechariah 1:15, that Jehovah was angry מעט , is not at variance with this; for מעט does not refer to the strength of the anger, but to its duration. ואמרתּ is the perf. with Vav consec., and is used for the imperative, because the summons to repentance follows as a necessary consequence from the fact stated in Zechariah 1:2 (cf. Ewald, §342, b and c). אלהם does not refer to the fathers, which might appear to be grammatically the simplest interpretation, but to the contemporaries of the prophet, addressed in the pronoun your fathers, the existing generation of Judah. שׁוּבוּ אלי does not presuppose that the people had just fallen away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a thorough conversion of heart. So had Jehovah also turned to the people again, and had not only put an end to the sufferings of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had returned (compare אני אתּכם in Haggai 1:13); but the more earnestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to Him, the more faithfully and the more gloriously would He bestow upon them His grace and the promised salvation. This admonition is shown to be extremely important by the threefold “saith the Lord of Zebaoth,” and strengthened still further in Zechariah 1:4 by the negative turn not to do like the fathers, who cast the admonitions of the prophets to the winds. The “earlier prophets” are those before the captivity (cf. Zechariah 7:7, Zechariah 7:12). The predicate ראשׁנים points to the fact that there was a gap between Zechariah and his predecessors, namely the period of the exile, so that Daniel and Ezekiel, who lived in exile, are overlooked; the former because his prophecies are not admonitions addressed to the people, the latter because the greater part of his ministry fell in the very commencement of the exile. Moreover, when alluding to the admonitions of the earlier prophets, Zechariah has not only such utterances in his mind as those in which the prophets summoned the people to repentance with the words שׁוּבוּ וגו (e.g., Joel 2:13; Hosea 14:2-Leviticus :; Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:12., Zechariah 7:13, etc.), but the admonitions, threatenings, and reproofs of the earlier prophets generally (compare 2 Kings 17:13.). The chethib מעליליכם is to be read מעליליכם , a plural form עלילים from עלילה , and is to be retained, since the preposition min is wanting in the keri; and this reading has probably only arisen from the offence taken at the use of the plural form ‛ălı̄lı̄m , which does not occur elsewhere, in the place of ‛ălı̄lōth , although there are many analogies to such a formation, and feminine forms frequently have plurals in ־ים , either instead of those in ־ות or in addition to them.
A reason for the warning not to resist the words of the Lord, like the fathers, is given in Zechariah 1:5, Zechariah 1:6, by an allusion to the fate which they brought upon themselves through their disobedience. Zechariah 1:5. “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, can they live for ever? Zechariah 1:6. Nevertheless my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your fathers, so that they turned and said, As Jehovah purposed to do to us according to our ways and our actions, so has He done to us?” The two questions in Zechariah 1:5 are meant as denials, and are intended to anticipate the objection which the people might have raised to the admonitions in Zechariah 1:4, to the effect that not only the fathers, but also the earlier prophets, had died long ago; and therefore an allusion to things that had long since passed by could have no force at all for the present generation. Zechariah neutralizes this objection by saying: Your fathers have indeed been long dead, and even the prophets do not, or cannot, live for ever; but notwithstanding this, the words of the earlier prophets were fulfilled in the case of the fathers. The words and decrees of God uttered by the prophets did reach the fathers, so that they were obliged to confess that God had really done to them what He threatened, i.e., had carried out the threatened punishment. אך , only, in the sense of a limitation of the thing stated: yet, nevertheless (cf. Ewald, §105, d). דּברי and חקּי are not the words of Zechariah 1:4, which call to repentance, but the threats and judicial decrees which the earlier prophets announced in case of impenitence. דּברי as in Ezekiel 12:28; Jeremiah 39:16. חקּי , the judicial decrees of God, like chōq in Zephaniah 2:2. Hissı̄g , to reach, applied to the threatened punishments which pursue the sinner, like messengers sent after him, and overtake him (cf. Deuteronomy 28:15, Deuteronomy 28:45). Biblical proofs that even the fathers themselves did acknowledge that the Lord had fulfilled His threatenings in their experience, are to be found in the mournful psalms written in captivity (though not exactly in Psalms 126:1-Joshua : and Psalms 137:1-1 Samuel :, as Koehler supposes), in Lamentations 2:17 ( עשׂה יהוה אשׁר זמם , upon which Zechariah seems to play), and in the penitential prayers of Daniel (Daniel 9:4.) and of Ezra (Ezra 9:6.), so far as they express the feeling which prevailed in the congregation.
Three months after his call to be a prophet through the first word of God that was addressed to him, Zechariah received a comprehensive revelation concerning the future fate of the people and kingdom of God, in a series of visions, which were given him to behold in a single night, and were interpreted by an angel. This took place, according to Zechariah 1:7, “on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, i.e., the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius,” that is to say, exactly five months after the building of the temple had been resumed (Haggai 1:15), with which fact the choice of the day for the divine revelation was evidently connected, and two months after the last promise issued through Haggai to the people, that the Lord would from henceforth bless His nation, and would glorify it in the future (Haggai 2:10-Isaiah :). To set forth in imagery this blessing and glorification, and to exhibit the leading features of the future conformation of the kingdom of God, was the object of these visions, which are designated in the introduction as “word of Jehovah,” because the pictures seen in the spirit, together with their interpretation, had the significance of verbal revelations, and are to some extent still further explained by the addition of words of God (cf. Zechariah 1:14., Zechariah 2:10-1 Chronicles :). As they were shown to the prophet one after another in a single night, so that in all probability only short pauses intervened between the different views; so did they present a substantially connected picture of the future of Israel, which was linked on to the then existing time, and closed with the prospect of the ultimate completion of the kingdom of God.
Zechariah 1:8. “I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtles which were in the hollow; and behind him red, speckled, and white horses. Zechariah 1:9. And I said, What are these, my lord? Then the angel that talked with me said to me, I will show thee what these are. Zechariah 1:10. And the man who stood among the myrtles answered and said, These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth. Zechariah 1:11. And they answered the angel of Jehovah who stood among the myrtles, and said, We have gone through the earth, and, behold, the whole earth sits still, and at rest. Zechariah 1:12. Then the angel of Jehovah answered and said, Jehovah of hosts, how long wilt Thou not have compassion upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with whom Thou hast been angry these seventy years? Zechariah 1:13. And Jehovah answered the angel that talked with me good words, comforting words. Zechariah 1:14. And the angel that talked with me said to me, Preach, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I have been jealous for Jerusalem and Zion with great jealousy, Zechariah 1:15 and with great wrath I am angry against the nations at rest: for I had been angry for a little, but they helped for harm. Zechariah 1:16. Therefore thus saith Jehovah, I turn again to Jerusalem with compassion: my house shall be built in it, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and the measuring line shall be drawn over Jerusalem. Zechariah 1:17. Preach as yet, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, My cities shall yet swell over with good, and Jehovah will yet comfort Zion, and will yet choose Jerusalem.” The prophet sees, during the night of the day described in Zechariah 1:7 ( הלּילה is the accusative of duration), in an ecstatic vision, not in a dream but in a waking condition, a rider upon a red horse in a myrtle-bush, stopping in a deep hollow, and behind him a number of riders upon red, speckled, and white horses ( sūsı̄m are horses with riders, and the reason why the latter are not specially mentioned is that they do not appear during the course of the vision as taking any active part, whilst the colour of their horses is the only significant feature). At the same time he also sees, in direct proximity to himself, an angel who interprets the vision, and farther off (Zechariah 1:11) the angel of Jehovah also standing or stopping among the myrtle-bushes, and therefore in front of the man upon a red horse, to whom the riders bring a report, that they have gone through the earth by Jehovah's command and have found the whole earth quiet and at rest; whereupon the angel of Jehovah addresses a prayer to Jehovah for pity upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, and receives a good consolatory answer, which the interpreting angel conveys to the prophet, and the latter publicly proclaims in Zechariah 1:14-Esther :.
The rider upon the red horse is not to be identified with the angel of Jehovah, nor the latter with the angelus interpres . It is true that the identity of the rider and the angel of Jehovah, which many commentators assume, is apparently favoured by the circumstance that they are both standing among the myrtles ( ‛ōmēd , stood; see Zechariah 1:8, Zechariah 1:10, and Zechariah 1:11); but all that follows from this is that the rider stopped at the place where the angel of Jehovah was standing, i.e., in front of him, to present a report to him of the state of the earth, which he had gone through with his retinue. This very circumstance rather favours the diversity of the two, inasmuch as it is evident from this that the rider upon the red horse was simply the front one, or leader of the whole company, who is brought prominently forward as the spokesman and reporter. If the man upon the red horse had been the angel of Jehovah Himself, and the troop of horsemen had merely come to bring information to the man upon the red horse, the troop of horsemen could not have stood behind him, but would have stood either opposite to him or in front of him. And the different epithets applied to the two furnish a decisive proof that the angel of the Lord and “the angel that talked with me” are not one and the same. The angel, who gives or conveys to the prophet the interpretation of the vision, is constantly called “the angel that talked with me,” not only in Zechariah 1:9, where it is preceded by an address on the part of the prophet to this same angel, but also in Zechariah 1:13 and Zechariah 1:14, and in the visions which follow (Zechariah 2:2, Zechariah 2:7; Zechariah 4:1, Zechariah 4:4; Zechariah 5:5, Zechariah 5:10; Zechariah 6:4), from which it is perfectly obvious that הדּבר בּי denotes the function which this angel performs in these visions ( dibber b e , signifying the speaking of God or of an angel within a man, as in Hosea 1:2; Habakkuk 2:1; Numbers 12:6, Numbers 12:8). His occupation, therefore, was to interpret the visions to the prophet, and convey the divine revelations, so that he was only an angelus interpres or collocutor . This angel appears in the other visions in company with other angels, and receives instructions from them (Zechariah 2:5-Ruth :); and his whole activity is restricted to the duty of conveying higher instructions to the prophet, and giving him an insight into the meaning of the visions, whereas the angel of Jehovah stands on an equality with God, being sometimes identified with Jehovah, and at other times distinguished from Him. (Compare the remarks upon this subject in the comm. on Genesis, Pent. pp. 118ff.) In the face of these facts, it is impossible to establish the identity of the two by the arguments that have been adduced in support of it. It by no means follows from Zechariah 1:9, where the prophet addresses the mediator as “my lord,” that the words are addressed to the angel of the Lord; for neither he nor the angelus interpres has been mentioned before; and in the visions persons are frequently introduced as speaking, according to their dramatic character, without having been mentioned before, so that it is only from what they say or do that it is possible to discover who they are. Again, the circumstance that in Zechariah 1:12 the angel of the Lord presents a petition to the Supreme God on behalf of the covenant nation, and that according to Zechariah 1:13 Jehovah answers the angelus interpres in good, comforting words, does not prove that he who receives the answer must be the same person as the intercessor: for it might be stated in reply to this, as it has been by Vitringa, that Zechariah has simply omitted to mention that the answer was first of all addressed to the angel of the Lord, and that it was through him that it reached the mediating angel; or we might assume, as Hengstenberg has done, that “Jehovah addressed the answer directly to the mediating angel, because the angel of the Lord had asked the question, not for his own sake, but simply for the purpose of conveying consolation and hope through the mediator to the prophet, and through him to the nation generally.”
There is no doubt that, in this vision, both the locality in which the rider upon the red horse, with his troop, and the angel of the Lord had taken up their position, and also the colour of the horses, are significant. But they are neither of them easy to interpret. Even the meaning of m e tsullâh is questionable. Some explain it as signifying a “shady place,” from צל , a shadow; but in that case we should expect the form m e tsillâh . There is more authority for the assumption that m e tsullâh is only another form for m e tsūlâh , which is the reading in many codd., and which ordinarily stands for the depth of the sea, just as in Exodus 15:10 tsâlal signifies to sink into the deep. The Vulgate adopts this rendering: in profundo. Here it signifies, in all probability, a deep hollow, possibly with water in it, as myrtles flourish particularly well in damp soils and by the side of rivers (see Virgil, Georg. ii. 112, iv. 124). The article in bamm e tsullâh defines the hollow as the one which the prophet saw in the vision, not the ravine of the fountain of Siloah, as Hofmann supposes (Weissagung u. Erfüllung, i. p. 333). The hollow here is not a symbol of the power of the world, or the abyss-like power of the kingdoms of the world (Hengstenberg and M. Baumgarten), as the author of the Chaldee paraphrase in Babele evidently thought; for this cannot be proved from such passages as Zechariah 10:1-2 Kings ::16, Isaiah 44:27, and Psalms 107:24. In the myrtle-bushes, or myrtle grove, we have no doubt a symbol of the theocracy, or of the land of Judah as a land that was dear and lovely in the estimation of the Lord (cf. Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16), for the myrtle is a lovely ornamental plant. Hence the hollow in which the myrtle grove was situated, can only be a figurative representation of the deep degradation into which the land and people of God had fallen at that time. There is a great diversity of opinion as to the significance of the colour of the horses, although all the commentators agree that the colour is significant, as in Zechariah 6:2. and Revelation 6:2., and that this is the only reason why the horses are described according to their colours, and the riders are not mentioned at all. About two of the colours there is no dispute. אדום , red, the colour of the blood; and לבן , white, brilliant white, the reflection of heavenly and divine glory (Matthew 17:2; Matthew 28:3; Acts 1:10), hence the symbol of a glorious victory (Revelation 6:2). The meaning of s e ruqqı̄m is a disputed one. The lxx have rendered it ψαροὶ καὶ ποικίλοι , like בּרדּים אמצּים in Zechariah 6:3; the Itala and Vulgate, varii ; the Peshito, versicolores. Hence sūsı̄m s e ruqqı̄m would correspond to the ἵππος χλωρός of Revelation 6:8. The word s e ruqqı̄m only occurs again in the Old Testament in Isaiah 16:8, where it is applied to the tendrils or branches of the vine, for which sōrēq (Isaiah 5:2; Jeremiah 2:21) or s e rēqâh (Genesis 49:11) is used elsewhere. On the other hand, Gesenius ( Thes. s.v.) and others defend the meaning red, after the Arabic ašqaru , the red horse, the fox, from šaqira , to be bright red; and Koehler understands by sūsı̄m s e ruqqı̄m , bright red, fire-coloured, or bay horses. But this meaning cannot be shown to be in accordance with Hebrew usage: for it is a groundless conjecture that the vine branch is called sōrēq from the dark-red grapes (Hitzig on Isaiah 5:2); and the incorrectness of it is evident from the fact, that even the Arabic šaqira does not denote dark-red, but bright, fiery red. The Arabic translator has therefore rendered the Greek πυῤῥός by Arab. ašqaru in Song of Solomon 5:9; but πυῤῥός answers to the Hebrew אדום , and the lxx have expressed sūsı̄m 'ădummı̄m by ἵπποι πυῤῥοί both here and in Zechariah 6:2. If we compare this with ch. Zechariah 6:2, where the chariots are drawn by red ( 'ădummı̄m , πυῤῥοί ), black ( sh e chōrı̄m , μέλανες ), white ( l e bhânı̄m , λευκοί ), and speckled ( b e ruddı̄m , ψαροί ) horses, and with Revelation 6, where the first rider has a white horse ( λευκός ), the second a red one ( πυῥῥός ), the third a black one ( μέλας ), the fourth a pale horse ( χλωρός ), there can be no further doubt that three of the colours of the horses mentioned here occur again in the two passages quoted, and that the black horse is simply added as a fourth; so that the s e ruqqı̄m correspond to the b e ruddı̄m of Zechariah 6:3, and the ἵππος χλωρός of Revelation 6:8, and consequently sârōq denotes that starling kind of grey in which the black ground is mixed with white, so that it is not essentially different from bârōd , speckled, or black covered with white spots (Genesis 31:10, Genesis 31:12).
By comparing these passages with one another, we obtain so much as certain with regard to the meaning of the different colours, - namely, that the colours neither denote the lands and nations to which the riders had been sent, as Hävernick, Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, and others suppose; nor the three imperial kingdoms, as Jerome, Cyril, and others have attempted to prove. For, apart from the fact that there is no foundation whatever for the combination proposed, of the red colour with the south as the place of light, or of the white with the west, the fourth quarter of the heavens would be altogether wanting. Moreover, the riders mentioned here have unquestionably gone through the earth in company, according to Zechariah 1:8 and Zechariah 1:11, or at any rate there is no intimation whatever of their having gone through the different countries separately, according to the colour of their respective horses; and, according to Zechariah 6:6, not only the chariot with the black horses, but that with the white horses also, goes into the land of the south. Consequently the colour of the horses can only be connected with the mission which the riders had to perform. This is confirmed by Revelation 6, inasmuch as a great sword is there given to the rider upon the red horse, to take away peace from the earth, that they may kill one another, and a crown to the rider upon the white horse, who goes forth conquering and to conquer (Revelation 6:2), whilst the one upon the pale horse receives the name of Death, and has power given to him to slay the fourth part of the earth with sword, famine, and pestilence (Revelation 6:8). It is true that no such effects as these are attributed to the riders in the vision before us, but this constitutes no essential difference. To the prophet's question, mâh - 'ēlleh , what are these? i.e., what do they mean? the angelus interpres , whom he addresses as “my lord” ( 'ădōnı̄ ), answers, “I will show thee what these be;” whereupon the man upon the red horse, as the leader of the company, gives this reply: “These are they whom Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth;” and then proceeds to give the angel of the Lord the report of their mission, viz., “We have been through the earth, and behold all the earth sitteth still and at rest.” The man's answer ( vayya‛an , Zechariah 1:10) is not addressed to the prophet or to the angelus interpres , but to the angel of the Lord mentioned in Zechariah 1:11, to whom the former, with his horsemen (hence the plural, “they answered,” in Zechariah 1:11), had given a report of the result of their mission. The verb ‛ânâh , to answer, refers not to any definite question, but to the request for an explanation contained in the conversation between the prophet and the interpreting angel. חארץ , in Zechariah 1:10 and Zechariah 1:11, is not the land of Judah, or any other land, but the earth. The answer, that the whole earth sits still and at rest ( ישׁבת ושׁקטת denotes the peaceful and secure condition of a land and its inhabitants, undisturbed by any foe; cf. Zechariah 7:7; 1 Chronicles 4:40, and Judges 18:27), points back to Haggai 2:7-Ruth :, Haggai 2:22-Isaiah :. God had there announced that for a little He would shake heaven and earth, the whole world and all nations, that the nations would come and fill His temple with glory. The riders sent out by God now return and report that the earth is by no means shaken and in motion, but the whole world sits quiet and at rest. We must not, indeed, infer from this account that the riders were all sent for the simple and exclusive purpose of obtaining information concerning the state of the earth, and communicating it to the Lord. For it would have been quite superfluous and unmeaning to send out an entire troop, on horses of different colours, for this purpose alone. Their mission was rather to take an active part in the agitation of the nations, if any such existed, and guide it to the divinely appointed end, and that in the manner indicated by the colour of their horses; viz., according to Revelation 6, those upon the red horses by war and bloodshed; those upon the starling-grey, or speckled horses, by famine, pestilence, and other plagues; and lastly, those upon the white horses, by victory and the conquest of the world.
In the second year of Darius there prevailed universal peace; all the nations of the earlier Chaldaean empire were at rest, and lived in undisturbed prosperity. Only Judaea, the home of the nation of God, was still for the most part lying waste, and Jerusalem was still without walls, and exposed in the most defenceless manner to all the insults of the opponents of the Jews. Such a state of things as this necessarily tended to produce great conflicts in the minds of the more godly men, and to confirm the frivolous in their indifference towards the Lord. As long as the nations of the world enjoyed undisturbed peace, Judah could not expect any essential improvement in its condition. Even though Darius had granted permission for the building of the temple to be continued, the people were still under the bondage of the power of the world, without any prospect of the realization of the glory predicted by the earlier prophets (Jer. 31; Isaiah 40), which was to dawn upon the nation of God when redeemed from Babylon. Hence the angel of the Lord addresses the intercessory prayer to Jehovah in Zechariah 1:12: How long wilt Thou not have compassion upon Jerusalem, etc.? For the very fact that the angel of the Lord, through whom Jehovah had formerly led His people and brought them into the promised land and smitten all the enemies before Israel, now appears again, contains in itself one source of consolation. His coming was a sign that Jehovah had not forsaken His people, and His intercession could not fail to remove every doubt as to the fulfilment of the divine promises. The circumstance that the angel of Jehovah addresses an intercessory prayer to Jehovah on behalf of Judah, is no more a disproof of his essential unity with Jehovah, than the intercessory prayer of Christ in John 17 is a disproof of His divinity. The words, “over which Thou hast now been angry for seventy years,” do not imply that the seventy years of the Babylonian captivity predicted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 25:11 and Jeremiah 29:10) were only just drawing to a close. They had already expired in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (2 Chronicles 36:22; Ezra 1:1). At the same time, the remark made by Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and others, must not be overlooked, - namely, that these seventy years were completed twice, inasmuch as there were also (not perhaps quite, but nearly) seventy years between the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, and the second year of Darius. Now, since the temple was still lying in ruins in the second year of Darius, notwithstanding the command to rebuild it that had been issued by Cyrus (Haggai 1:4), it might very well appear as though the troubles of the captivity would never come to an end. Under such circumstances, the longing for an end to be put to the mournful condition of Judah could not fail to become greater and greater; and the prayer, “Put an end, O Lord, put an end to all our distress,” more importunate than ever.
Jehovah replied to the intercession of the angel of the Lord with good and comforting words. D e bhârı̄m tōbhı̄m are words which promise good, i.e., salvation (cf. Joshua 23:14; Jeremiah 29:10). So far as they set before the people the prospect of the mitigation of their distress, they are nichummı̄m , consolations. The word nichummı̄m is a substantive, and in apposition to d e bhârı̄m . Instead of the form nichummı̄m , the keri has the form nichumı̄m , which is grammatically the more correct of the two, and which is written still more accurately nichūmı̄m in some of the codd. in Kennicott. The contents of these words, which are addressed to the interpreting angel either directly or through the medium of the angel of Jehovah, follow in the announcement which the latter orders the prophet to make in Zechariah 1:14-Esther :. קרא (Zechariah 1:14) as in Isaiah 40:6. The word of the Lord contains two things: (1) the assurance of energetic love on the part of God towards Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:14, Zechariah 1:15); and (2) the promise that this love will show itself in the restoration and prosperity of Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:16, Zechariah 1:17). קנּא , to be jealous, applied to the jealousy of love as in Joel 2:18; Numbers 25:11, Numbers 25:13, etc., is strengthened by קנאה גדולה . Observe, too, the use of the perfect קנּאתי , as distinguished from the participle קצף . The perfect is not merely used in the sense of “I have become jealous,” expressing the fact that Jehovah was inspired with burning jealousy, to take Jerusalem to Himself (Koehler), but includes the thought that God has already manifested this zeal, or begun to put it in action, namely by liberating His people from exile. Zion, namely the mountain of Zion, is mentioned along with Jerusalem as being the site on which the temple stood, so that Jerusalem only comes into consideration as the capital of the kingdom. Jehovah is also angry with the self-secure and peaceful nations. The participle qōtsēph designates the wrath as lasting. Sha'ănân , quiet and careless in their confidence in their own power and prosperity, which they regard as secured for ever. The following word, אשׁר , quod, introduces the reason why God is angry, viz., because, whereas He was only a little angry with Israel, they assisted for evil. מעט refers to the duration, not to the greatness of the anger (cf. Isaiah 54:8). עזרוּ לרעה , they helped, so that evil was the result ( לרעה as in Jeremiah 44:11), i.e., they assisted not only as the instruments of God for the chastisement of Judah, but so that harm arose from it, inasmuch as they endeavoured to destroy Israel altogether (cf. Isaiah 47:6). It is no ground of objection to this definition of the meaning of the words, that לרעה in that case does not form an appropriate antithesis to מעט , which relates to time (Koehler); for the fact that the anger only lasted a short time, was in itself a proof that God did not intend to destroy His people. To understand עזרוּ לרעה as only referring to the prolonged oppression and captivity, does not sufficiently answer to the words. Therefore ( lâkhēn , Zechariah 1:16), because Jehovah is jealous with love for His people, and very angry with the heathen, He has now turned with compassion towards Jerusalem. The perfect שׁבתּי is not purely prophetic, but describes the event as having already commenced, and as still continuing. This compassion will show itself in the fact that the house of God is to be built in Jerusalem, and the city itself restored, and all the obstacles to this are to be cleared out of the way. The measuring line is drawn over a city, to mark off the space it is to occupy, and the plan upon which it is to be arranged. The chethib קוה bihtehc , probably to be read קוה , is the obsolete form, which occurs again in 1 Kings 7:23 and Jeremiah 31:39, and was displaced by the contracted form קו ( keri). But the compassion of God will not be restricted to this. The prophet is to proclaim still more (“cry yet,” Zechariah 1:17, referring to the “cry” in Zechariah 1:14). The cities of Jehovah, i.e., of the land of the Lord, are still to overflow with good, or with prosperity. Pūts , to overflow, as in Proverbs 5:16; and תּפוּצנּה for תּפוּצינה (vid., Ewald, §196, c). The last two clauses round off the promise. When the Lord shall restore the temple and city, then will Zion and Jerusalem learn that He is comforting her, and has chosen her still. The last thought is repeated in Zechariah 2:1-1 Chronicles ::16 and Zechariah 3:2.
In this vision it is shown to the prophet, and through him to the people, that although the immediate condition of things presents no prospect of the fulfilment of the promised restoration and glorification of Israel, the Lord has nevertheless already appointed the instruments of His judgment, and sent them out to overthrow the nations of the world, that are still living at rest and in security, and to perfect His Zion. The fulfilment of this consolatory promise is neither to be transferred to the end of the present course of this world, as is supposed by Hofmann ( Weiss. u. Erfüll. i. 335), who refers to Zechariah 14:18-Psalms : in support of this, nor to be restricted to what was done in the immediate future for the rebuilding of the temple and of the city of Jerusalem. The promise embraces the whole of the future of the kingdom of God; so that whilst the commencement of the fulfilment is to be seen in the fact that the building of the temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius, and Jerusalem itself was also restored by Nehemiah in the reign of Artaxerxes, these commencements of the fulfilment simply furnished a pledge that the glorification of the nation and kingdom of God predicted by the earlier prophets would quite as assuredly follow.
The second vision is closely connected with the first, and shows how God will discharge the fierceness of His wrath upon the heathen nations in their self-security (Zechariah 1:15). Zechariah 1:18. “And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. Zechariah 1:19. And I said to the angel that talked with me, What are these? And he said to me, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. Zechariah 1:20. And Jehovah showed me four smiths. Zechariah 1:21. And I said, What come these to do? And He spake to me thus: These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no one lifted up his head; these are now come to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations which have lifted up the horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.” The mediating angel interprets the four horns to the prophet first of all as the horns which have scattered Judah; then literally, as the nations which have lifted up the horn against the land of Judah to scatter it. The horn is a symbol of power (cf. Amos 6:13). The horns therefore symbolize the powers of the world, which rise up in hostility against Judah and hurt it. The number four does not point to the four quarters of the heaven, denoting the heathen foes of Israel in all the countries of the world (Hitzig, Maurer, Koehler, and others). This view cannot be established from Zechariah 1:10, for there is no reference to any dispersion of Israel to the four winds there. Nor does it follow from the perfect זרוּ that only such nations are to be thought of, as had already risen up in hostility to Israel and Judah in the time of Zechariah; for it cannot be shown that there were four such nations. At that time all the nations round about Judah were subject to the Persian empire, as they had been in Nebuchadnezzar's time to the Babylonian. Both the number four and the perfect zērū belong to the sphere of inward intuition, in which the objects are combined together so as to form one complete picture, without any regard to the time of their appearing in historical reality. Just as the prophet in Zechariah 6:1-Ezra : sees the four chariots all together, although they follow one another in action, so may the four horns which are seen simultaneously represent nations which succeeded one another. This is shown still more clearly by the visions in Daniel 2 and 7, in which not only the colossal image seen in a dream by Nebuchadnezzar (ch. 2), but also the four beasts which are seen by Daniel to ascend simultaneously from the sea, symbolize the four empires, which rose up in succession one after the other. It is to these four empires that the four horns of our vision refer, as Jerome, Abarb., Hengstenberg, and others have correctly pointed out, since even the picturing of nations or empires as horns points back to Daniel 7:7-Ruth :, and Daniel 8:3-1 Samuel :. Zechariah sees these in all the full development of their power, in which they have oppressed and crushed the people of God (hence the perfect zērū ), and for which they are to be destroyed themselves. Zârâh , to scatter, denotes the dissolution of the united condition and independence of the nation of God. In this sense all four empires destroyed Judah, although the Persian and Grecian empires did not carry Judah out of their own land.
The striking combination, “Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem,” in which not only the introduction of the name of Israel between Judah and Jerusalem is to be noticed, but also the fact that the nota acc. את is only placed before Y e hūdâh and Yisrâ'ēl , and not before Y e rūshâlaim also, is not explained on the ground that Israel denotes the kingdom of the ten tribes, Judah the southern kingdom, and Jerusalem the capital of the kingdom (Maurer, Umbreit, and others), for in that case Israel would necessarily have been repeated before Judah, and 'ēth before Y e rūshâlaim . Still less can the name Israel denote the rural population of Judah (Hitzig), or the name Judah the princely house (Neumann). By the fact that 'ēth is omitted before Y e rūshâlaim , and only Vav stands before it, Jerusalem is connected with Israel and separated from Judah; and by the repetition of 'ēth before Yisrâ'ēl , as well as before Y e hūdâh , Israel with Jerusalem is co-ordinated with Judah. Kliefoth infers from this that “the heathen had dispersed on the one hand Judah, and on the other hand Israel together with Jerusalem,” and understands this as signifying that in the nation of God itself a separation is presupposed, like the previous separation into Judah and the kingdom of the ten tribes. “When the Messiah comes,” he says, “a small portion of the Israel according to the flesh will receive Him, and so constitute the genuine people of God and the true Israel, the Judah; whereas the greater part of the Israel according to the flesh will reject the Messiah at first, and harden itself in unbelief, until at the end of time it will also be converted, and join the true Judah of Christendom.” But this explanation, according to which Judah would denote the believing portion of the nation of twelve tribes, and Israel and Jerusalem the unbelieving, is wrecked on the grammatical difficulty that the cop. ו is wanting before את־ישׂראל . If the names Judah and Israel were intended to be co-ordinated with one another as two different portions of the covenant nation as a whole, the two parts would necessarily have been connected together by the cop. Vav. Moreover, in the two co-ordinated names Judah and Israel, the one could not possibly stand in the spiritual sense, and the other in the carnal. The co-ordination of 'eth - Y e hūdâh with 'eth - Yisrâ'ēl without the cop. Vav shows that Israel is really equivalent to the Jerusalem which is subordinated to it, and does not contain a second member (or part), which is added to it, - in other words, that Israel with Jerusalem is merely an interpretation or more precise definition of Y e hūdâh ; and Hengstenberg has hit upon the correct idea, when he takes Israel as the honourable name of Judah, or, more correctly, as an honourable name for the covenant nation as then existing in Judah. This explanation is not rendered questionable by the objection offered by Koehler: viz., that after the separation of the two kingdoms, the expression Israel always denotes either the kingdom of the ten tribes, or the posterity of Jacob without regard to their being broken up, because this is not the fact. The use of the name Israel for Judah after the separation of the kingdoms is established beyond all question by 2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 15:17; 2 Chronicles 19:8; 2 Chronicles 21:2, 2 Chronicles 21:4; 2 Chronicles 23:2; 2 Chronicles 24:5, etc.
(Note: Gesenius has correctly observed in his Thesaurus, p. 1339, that “from this time (i.e., from the severance of the kingdom) the name of Israel began to be usurped by the whole nation that was then in existence, and was used chiefly by the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deutero(?)-Isaiah, and after the captivity by Ezra and Nehemiah; from which it came to pass, that in the Paralipomena, even when allusion is made to an earlier period, Israel stands for Judah,” although the proofs adduced in support of this from the passages quoted from the prophets need considerable sifting.)
Jehovah then showed the prophet four chârâshı̄m , or workmen, i.e., smiths; and on his putting the question, “What have these come to do?” gave him this reply: “To terrify those,” etc. For the order of the words מה אלּה בּאים לעשׂות , instead of מה לעשׂות אלּה בּאים , see Genesis 42:12; Nehemiah 2:12; Judges 9:48. אלּה הקּרנות is not a nominative written absolutely at the head of the sentence in the sense of “these horns,” for that would require הקרנות האלּה ; but the whole sentence is repeated from Zechariah 1:2, and to that the statement of the purpose for which the smiths have come is attached in the form of an apodosis: “these are the horns, etc., and they (the smiths) have come.” At the same time, the earlier statement as to the horns is defined more minutely by the additional clause כּפי אישׁ וגו , according to the measure, i.e., in such a manner that no man lifted up his head any more, or so that Judah was utterly prostrate. Hachărı̄d , to throw into a state of alarm, as in 2 Samuel 17:2. Them ( 'ōthâm ): this refers ad sensum to the nations symbolized by the horns. Yaddōth , inf. piel of yâdâh , to cast down, may be explained as referring to the power of the nations symbolized by the horns. 'Erets Y e hūdâh (the land of Judah) stands for the inhabitants of the land. The four smiths, therefore, symbolize the instruments “of the divine omnipotence by which the imperial power in its several historical forms is overthrown” (Kliefoth), or, as Theod. Mops. expresses it, “the powers that serve God and inflict vengeance upon them from many directions.” The vision does not show what powers God will use for this purpose. It is simply designed to show to the people of God, that every hostile power of the world which has risen up against it, or shall rise up, is to be judged and destroyed by the Lord.
The Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary is a derivative of a public domain electronic edition.
Keil, Carl Friedrich & Delitzsch, Franz. "Commentary on Zechariah 1". Keil & Delitzsch Old Testament Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 25 / Ordinary 30