Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, July 18th, 2024
the Week of Proper 10 / Ordinary 15
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 2

Layman's Bible CommentaryLayman's Bible Commentary

Verses 1-5

Vision of a Man with a Measuring Line (2:1-5)

Again the vision changes, and Zechariah sees a man with the ancient equivalent of a tape measure in his hand. Asked where he is going, the man answers, "To measure Jerusalem, to see what is its breadth and what is its length." The meaning of this measuring is explained to Zechariah through a brief interchange between another angel and the angel who had been talking with him. Jerusalem is to be inhabited as villages without walls, because of the tremendous number of people and cattle in it. The lack of visible walls need not disturb the prophet or those to whom he will communicate this message, for God promises to be a wall of fire around her and to be "the glory within her."

To the people of Zechariah’s time, the modern city with its suburbs extending in all directions without visible limit would have been incomprehensible. For them a great city must be protected by mighty walls, so that in time of war those who spent much of their time living beyond the walls might retreat for safety within the fortified area of the "mother-city." Zechariah could visualize Jerusalem as a city so populous that its dependent people could not be contained in walls. But although Jerusalem had no walls in Zechariah’s time, the prophet did not envision the city as lacking in security. God would provide a wall of fire to protect his chosen city.

The glory within Jerusalem will be the presence of God in her midst, as symbolized in Ezekiel 43:4, and this presence will protect her from all harm. Zechariah’s spiritual view of God permits only the protection of God’s presence and the relative immateriality of a wall of fire. No warlike preparations appear in the background of his thought to disturb the assurance of the city of God’s choice.

Verses 6-13

An Interjection: Call to Return from Babylon (2:6-13)

The first three visions have been concerned with conditions as they were at the time of the prophesying of Haggai and Zechariah. The Jews have begun to return; they are assured of the presence of God and of the future greatness of Jerusalem. Now, the prophet interjects a special appeal to those who dwell in Babylon. Addressing his kinsmen, particularly those in Babylon, but also those who have been spread abroad "as the four winds of the heavens," the prophet urges them to flee from the land of the north and escape to Zion. The precise location of all to whom the prophet addresses his appeal is not a matter of great concern, but the reference to the north should be explained: the road to Babylon from Jerusalem went north, making a great arc around the Arabian desert; along this road in the "land of the north" many of the Jews may have been settled.

The word of the Lord declares that conditions will be reversed: those who plundered will now become plunder; those who have been serving — in captivity — will possess their masters. "He who touches you," the prophet declares to the captives of Babylon, will find that they have touched the pupil of God’s own eye. And the very nations who have "furthered the disaster" for God’s people (Zechariah 1:15) will come and join themselves to the Lord and be God’s people.

In the manner of the rhapsodies of Isaiah 40-55 the word of the Lord invites the daughter of Zion to sing and rejoice, declaring, "I come and 1 will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord. . . . And the Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem" (Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 2:12). These appeals to the exiles in Babylon agree with the message of the first three visions as they point to the days of glory ahead for Jerusalem, but they go beyond the visions when they include the joining of "many nations" to the people of God. This idea, which is found in Isaiah 2:2-4 (Micah 4:1-3) and Isaiah 56:6-8, distinguishes the interjected exhortation of Zechariah from the visions.

Another feature of the interjection is the way in which the prophet calls attention to himself, twice declaring that those to whom his word comes "will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me" (Zechariah 2:9; Zechariah 2:12). Again in connection with promises to Zerubbabel (Zechariah 4:9; Zechariah 6:15) this same self-conscious declaration appears. The expression is perhaps another evidence of the state of prophecy in the postexilic period.

The appeals close with a word to "all flesh": "Be silent . . . before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling." It is probable that the "holy dwelling" is God’s heavenly home, since the accompanying promises look forward to the re-establishment of Jerusalem, but the words may derive from a moment in the ritual anticipating God’s enthronement in the earthly Temple. This final call summarizes the evidence for God’s renewed concern for his people seen in the first of Zechariah’s visions, and invites the modern reader to be alert for a new demonstration of God’s power.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Zechariah 2". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/zechariah-2.html.
 
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