4. FURTHER BLESSINGS OF GODS PEOPLE
A. God sends Blessing, but the Idols Sorrow ( Zechariah 10:1-2). B. Blessings upon native Rulers ( Zechariah 10:3-5). C. Former Mercies restored to Judah and Ephraim ( Zechariah 10:6-9). D. Messianic Mercies ( Zechariah 10:10-12)
1 Ask of Jehovah rain in the time of the latter rain;
Jehovah creates lightnings,
And showers of rain[FN1] will He give them,
To every one grass in the field.
2For the teraphim[FN2] have spoken vanity,
And the diviners have seen a lie,
And speak dreams of deceit,
They comfort in vain;
Therefore they have wandered[FN3] like a flock,
They are oppressed[FN4] because there is no shepherd.
3Against the shepherds my anger is kindled,
And the Hebrews -goats will I punish;[FN5]
For Jehovah of Hosts visits his flock, the house of Judah,
And makes them like his goodly horse in war.
4From him the corner-stone, from him the nail,
From him the war-bow, from him will every ruler[FN6] come forth together.
5 And they shall be like heroes treading down [i.e., foes]
Into the mire of the streets in the battle;
And they fight, for Jehovah is with them,
And the riders on horses are put to shame.[FN7]
6 And I will strengthen the house of Judah,
And the house of Joseph will save,
And will make them dwell,[FN8] because I pity them,
And they shall be as if I had not cast them off,
For I am Jehovah their God, and will hear them.
7 And Ephraim[FN9] shall become like a hero,
And their heart shall rejoice as with wine,
And their sons shall see and rejoice,
Their heart shall exult in Jehovah.
8 I will hiss to them and gather them,
For I have redeemed them,
And they shall increase as they did increase [before]
And with their children they shall live and return.
10 And I will bring them back from the land of Egypt,
And from Assyria will I gather them,
And to the land of Gilead and Lebanon will I bring them,
And room shall not be found for them.[FN12]
11And He passes through the sea, the affliction,[FN13]
And He smites the waves in the sea,
And all the depths of the Nile are put to shame;
And the pride of Assyria is brought down,
And the sceptre of Egypt shall depart.
12And I will strengthen them in Jehovah,
And in his name shall they walk,[FN14] saith Jehovah.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
This chapter does not commence a fresh train of thought, but is rather an expansion of the foregoing prophecy. First, there is a promise of rain and fruitful seasons ( Zechariah 10:1); a reference to idolatry as cause of their afflictions ( Zechariah 10:2-3 a); deliverance by Gods blessing upon native rulers ( Zechariah 10:3 b, 4, 5); restoration of ancient mercies ( Zechariah 10:6); special mention of Ephraim as participating in the growth and enlargement promised to the whole people ( Zechariah 10:7-9); farther promises to the nation couched in historic allusions to their former experience, and fulfilled only in the Messiahs kingdom ( Zechariah 10:10-12). Some maintain that Zechariah 10:1 belongs to the preceding chapter, and ought not to have been separated from it (Hengstenberg), while others affirm the same of Zechariah 10:2 also (Hofmann, Köhler); but Zechariah 10:2 is plainly as closely connected with Zechariah 10:3 as it is with Zechariah 10:1. The question is of no importance to the interpretation.
Zechariah 10:1. Ask of Jehovah. This summons to prayer is not a mere expression of Gods readiness to give (Hengstenberg), but, both from the force of the words and the connection, is to be literally understood. Rain stands as a representative for all blessings, temporal and spiritual. In the time of the latter rain, is merely a rhetorical amplification, for it cannot be shown that the latter rain was more necessary than the early rain for maturing the harvest. Cf. Deuteronomy 11:13-15, from which the expressions here are taken. Lightnings are mentioned as precursors of rain. Cf. Jeremiah 10:13; Psalm 135:7, where, however, a different word (בְרָקִים) is used. Give them, i. e., every one who asks.
Zechariah 10:2. The call to prayer is sustained by a reference to the misery caused by their former dependence upon idols and soothsayers. Teraphim, a kind of household gods=Penates, who appear also to have been looked upon as oracles ( Hosea 3:4), in which latter light they are regarded here. The etymology of the word is still unsettled. The prevalence of impostors, of the kinds here mentioned, just before the overthrow of Judah, is abundantly established. Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8; Jeremiah 23:9; Jeremiah 23:14; Jeremiah 23:32; Ezekiel 21:34, Ezekiel 22:28. Therefore, the consequence was that they were compelled to wander away, and were without a ruler, i. e., one of their own Davidic line, a state of things still in existence when Zechariah wrote.
Zechariah 10:3. Against the shepherds. Israel having lost its native rulers, fell under the power of heathen governors, here styled shepherds and Hebrews -goats, ( Isaiah 14:9, Heb.). These are to be. punished, because Jehovah regards those whom they oppress as his flock, whom He visits and protects. House of Judah is mentioned not in distinction from Ephraim (see Zechariah 10:6-7), but as the central point and representative of the covenant people. A striking comparison indicates that the deliverance is effected by an actual military struggle. Just as in Zechariah 9:13, Jehovah called Judah and Ephraim his bow and arrow, so here He calls the former his goodly-horse, such a horse as for his extraordinary qualities is chosen, and splendidly equipped as the war-horse of the general. The House of Judah, therefore will be well prepared to meet its enemies.
Zechariah 10:4. From him the corner-stone. מִּמֶּנּוּ refers not to Jehovah (Hitzig, Kohler, Pressel), but to Judah, as appears from the connection and from the passage in Jer. ( Jeremiah 30:21) on which this one leans. Prom themselves was to come forth every one of their rulers, which is expressed in the former part of the verse by figures, namely, the corner-stone, cf. Psalm 118:22; the nail, the large ornamental pin, built into the wall of oriental houses for the purpose of suspending household utensils ( Isaiah 22:23); the war-bow, which denotes military forces and weapons in general ( Zechariah 9:10).
Zechariah 10:5. The consequence will be the annihilation of foes. And. like heroes. Some explain the allusion as=they trample the mire of the streets, i. e, their foes considered as such (like the sling-stones in Zechariah 9:15); so Hengstenberg, Keil, etc. But the verb in Kal is always elsewhere transitive, and the ב ought not to be overlooked. We should render, therefore, treading down (foes) in or into the mire (Fürst, Köhler). Riders on horses. Cavalry, the arm in which Israel was always weak, is mentioned in Daniel 11:40 as the principal strength of the Asiatic rulers (comp. also 1 Maccabees 3:39, Zechariah 4:1). Hence the force of the promise here.
Zechariah 10:6. And I will strengthen, etc. Judah and Joseph comprehend the entire people as a whole. Make them dwell, i. e., securely and happily as in the olden time, which is suggested also in the next clause but one (cf. Ezekiel 36:11). And I will hear them, is a very comprehensive promise.
Zechariah 10:7. And Ephraim wine. In this verse and the following, the prophet refers particularly to Ephraim (but not to the exclusion of Judah), for the reason that heretofore the ten tribes had not participated as largely as it was intended they should, in the return from exile. They and their sons shall share in the coming conflict, and equally with Judah prove themselves to be like a hero. Their exultation in Jehovah is expressed by a comparison which is applied by the Psalmist to the Lord Himself. Psalm 78:65.
Zechariah 10:8. I will hiss. increase. The hissing or whistling is mentioned as a signal (cf. Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18). It alludes to the ancient method of swarming bees. This verse explains how Israel, so large a part of whom were still in exile, should take part in the victorious struggle. The Lord would bring them back. The utter downfall of the northern kingdom, so long before that of Judah, had removed nearly every political reason for maintaining the old disruption, and all the circumstances of the time inclined the various tribes to coalesce again into one people. I have redeemed, pret. proph. to express Jehovahs unalterable purpose. The last clause, like Zechariah 10:6 b, refers to Ezekiel 36:11. The extraordinary multiplication of the Jews at and after this period is one of the most familiar facts of history. See Merivale, History of the Romans, Zech 39. Josephus informs us that two hundred years after the time here referred to, Galilee was peopled to an amazing extent, studded with cities, towns, and villages; and adds that the villages were not what are usually called by that name, but contained, some of them, fifteen thousand inhabitants. Henderson, in loc.
Zechariah 10:9. And I will sow. . return. The word זָרַע never means scatter in the sense of banishing or destroying (Fürst, Henderson, Hitzig), but always has the sense of sowing (σπερῶ, LXX.; seminabo, Vulg.), and when applied to men, denotes increase ( Hosea 2:24; Jeremiah 31:27). The passage means, then, that Israel while among the nations will repeat the experience of their ancestors in Egypt, the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew ( Exodus 1:12). They shall live, is explained in Ezekiel 37:14. The mention of the children with them implies that the blessing would not be transient, but abiding.
Zechariah 10:10. And I will bring Egypt. Some expositors suppose that by Egypt and Assyria are meant the lands so named, and vainly attempt to show that many of the ten tribes were carried or escaped to Egypt. It is far better to adopt the opinion of Gesenius, that Egypt and Assyria are mentioned here in place of the different countries into which the Jews were scattered. Such a typical use of names is neither unnatural nor unusual. Egypt was the first oppressor of the covenant people, and Assyria was the final instrument of overthrowing the ten tribes, and the two terms might well be combined as a general statement of the lands of the dispersion. See this combination in a similar case in Isaiah 27:13, and cf. Isaiah 10:24; Isaiah 11:11; Isaiah 11:16; Isaiah 19:23; Isaiah 52:4; Hosea 11:11. Köhlers objection that in this case Assyria must be taken in its most literal sense, is surely groundless, for the prophet could not have meant that the Ephraimites should be restored from certain regions and not from others. The general terms of the preceding verses forbid such a narrow view. Nor can Pressel claim the mention of Assyria as favoring the theory which dates the prophecy before the Captivity, because the subject of it is not Judah alone, but the whole nation, with special reference to Ephraim, and therefore Assyria was just the country which it suited the prophet to mention. The land of Gilead and Lebanon=northern Palestine on both sides of the Jordan, the former home of the ten tribes. Room found, because of their increase. Merivale, in the place above cited, accounts for the manner in which the Jews in the centuries just before Christ, swarmed over the whole Roman world, from the Tiber to the Euphrates, from the pines of the Caucasus to the spice groves of Arabia Felix, by the insufficiency of their native land to support the immense population.
Zechariah 10:11. And he passes. The subject, of course, is Jehovah, the discourse passing from direct to indirect address, in accordance with the Hebrew usage allowing such rapid transitions. To make צרה the subject (Calvin, Cocceius, Syr.), is unnatural and frigid, besides connecting a feminine noun with a verb having a masculine suffix. This verse continues the figurative allusions of the preceding. Just as of old God gloriously vindicated his people in the passage over the Red Sea, so now He marches through the deep at the head of his chosen and smites down the roaring waves. The article in the sea points to the particular body of water through which Israel had once before been led,the Arabian Gulf. יְאוֹר almost always=Nile. Here the term depths or floods is properly applied to its vast and regular inundations. In the last clause the characteristic feature of Assyria is well expressed by pride ( Isaiah 10:7), and that of Egypt by the sceptre or rod of the taskmasters.
Zechariah 10:12. And I strengthen. The whole section is appropriately wound up with this emphatic promise. The entire strength, conduct, hope, and destiny of Israel lay in Jehovah. The name of Jehovah is a comprehensive expression denoting his glory as manifested in history (Hengstenberg). Trusting and serving the God thus revealed, they would find the past a pledge of the future, and see the divine perfections as gloriously illustrated in their behalf as at any former period.
This chapter, as has been said, continues and enlarges the promises of the preceding. After tracing the distresses of the people to their apostasy, it sets forth their deliverance as effected through actual conflicts, in which the might of Jehovah gives to the native leaders a force and courage which suffice to subdue foes otherwise far superior. This victory is followed by a large increase of population, not confined to Judah but also including Israel. Nor is there reason to doubt that the independence achieved by the Maccabees attracted very many of the exiles from the northern kingdom, who forgot the old causes of dissension, and united heartily in maintaining the reestablished national centre in Jerusalem. This fusion at home led to a similar fusion abroad; and wherever Jews were found who preserved their hereditary faith at all, they still remembered Jehovah as the one who had chosen Zion, and considered themselves as constituent parts of one covenant people. So far the predictions of the chapter were fulfilled historically in the period extending from the establishment of Jewish independence to the time of the advent. In the last three verses the Prophet describes a far greater because spiritual blessing in terms borrowed from the old experience of the people. The drying up of the sea, the humiliation of Assyria, the overthrow of Egypt simply set forth the removal of all possible obstacles in the way of a spiritual return to God. The Lord will reclaim and bless them by procedures as marvelous as any that ever occurred in their former history.
But before this great event takes place, before the Church of the Old Testament passes into the form and character of the Church of the New Testament, a sad and peculiar experience is to be gone through. This is set forth in the striking imagery of the next chapter.
THEOLOGICAL AND MORAL
1. In the opening verse of this chapter the Prophet comes into direct opposition many of the Song of Solomon -called Scientists of our day. They affirm that without a disturbance of natural law quite as serious as the stoppage of an eclipse or the rolling the St. Lawrence up the Falls of Niagara, no act of humiliation, individual or national, could call one shower from heaven (Tyndall). It follows, of course, that only those who believe that the miraculous is still active in nature can consistently join in prayers for fair weather and for rain. The Prophet, on the contrary, directs the people whenever the heavens withhold their moisture, to ask from the Lord what they need, and assures them that asking they shall obtain; and yet neither he nor his hearers supposed that this process involved a miracle in any proper sense of that term. It certainly implies the attainment of an end which without this means would not be accomplished. It is the combining and directing of natural forces so as to secure a certain result. This is what men are doing all the time, without dreaming that they are miracle-workers. Much more may God do it, who is not, like us, limited by second causes. In this very matter of rain, a scientific man announced some years ago at certain process by which an adequate rain-fall could at any time be secured. Whether his theory was valid or not, no one scouted it as impossible, or preposterous. Yet learned men deny to God what they allow to themselves. Creatures may compel the clouds, but the Creator may not. They may employ one and another natural law so as to achieve novel effects, but the Maker of the whole,
Who sets the bright procession on its way,
And marshals all the order of the year,
is shut up in the workmanship of his hands, and cannot possibly escape from the regular sequence of cause and effect. But this is simply the rejection, not merely of Christianity or of the Old Testament, but of all religion whateZech Zechariah 10 : A God who has no control over nature is to all intents and purposes no God. Sentiments of reverence, gratitude, obligation, love, and dependence toward such a Being, are impossible. The doctrine of prayer, therefore, is a vital one. There never has been, there never can be a religion without communion with the object of worship. To deny the efficacy of prayer, even in such matters as the giving or withholding of rain, is to remand the human race into a state of practical atheism.
2. The question with man never is whether he will have a religion or not, but always whether he will have that which is true, or one that is false. Not only his intuitions, his moral convictions, but his dependent condition, his exposure to change, want, sorrow, and death, all compel him to look up to some superior invisible power, something nobler and better than himself. If this craving be not met by the truth, it surely will be by falsehood. A permanent state of atheistic unbelief is impossible. Such a state has never been seen in all the worlds history. In ancient Israel there was a constant oscillation between the worship of Jehovah and the service of idols, but never the abnegation of all worship. And this is the alternative which confronts every man and every age. They may reject the true God and the revealed religion; but the inevitable result is superstition in some form, more or less refined. Just as among the Jews whenever they apostatized, diviners came to the front. When Saul could get no answer from the Lord, either by dreams, or by Urim, or by Prophets, he went to the Witch of Endor.
Intelligence and culture are no guard against such a result. If men will not believe the rational and true, they will believe the absurd and the false Our own land at this day furnishes conspicuous examples. Table-turnings and spirit-rappings have led captive many who turned away in scorn from the teachings of Christ and his Apostles. The voice of God, uttered with every kind and degree of evidence in his Word, has been given up for the sake of the pretended disclosures of the spirits of the dead; and the necromancy of the nineteenth century before Christ has been revived in the nineteenth century after Christ. And the results have been what was to be expected. On one hand a degree of unnatural excitement of the feelings and the imagination which terminated in an eclipse of reason, and on the other, a lowering of the tone of morals which undermined the family constitution, and swept away the surest safeguards of human society. It is as criminal and as dangerous to consult diviners now as it ever was in the days of ancient Israel. Should not a people seek unto their God? [Should they seek] for the living to the dead? To the law and to the testimony; if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them ( Isaiah 8:19-20).
3. The prediction of the return of Ephraim in this chapter ( Zechariah 10:6) has been sometimes cited as evidence that the ten tribes are still somewhere existing as a separate community, and as such are yet to be restored to their own land. But this is an error. The words of the Prophet were fulfilled in the period to which he refers. Many of the transplanted Ephraimites fell away from the faith and became absorbed in the heathen by whom they were surrounded, but many who remained true to Jehovah, joined their fortunes with those of their brethren of Judah. Their common calamities softened and at last obliterated the old feelings of enmity toward each other. Jerusalem became again the central point of the whole nation, and while not a few actually shared in the restoration, others who remained in exile, yet adhered to the second temple, aided it by their gifts, and often attended the yearly festivals. Hence all the latter were comprehended under the term, the Diaspora ( James 1:1). In the New Testament there are repeated allusions to the twelve tribes, conveying the distinct impression that the inhabitants of Palestine in our Lords day represented both parts of the nation. There is no reason, therefore, for the pains which have been taken to discover them in some remote or obscure part of the globe. And indeed the hopeless disagreement of those who seek a historical identification of these exiles shows the vanity of the attempt. The foot of the Himalayas, the coast of Malabar, the interior of China, the Nestorians of Persia, and the Indians of North America, have all been claimed as containing the veritable descendants of the Hebrews whom Sargon carried away. This whole subject is treated with ability and learning in an article in the Princeton Review for April, 1873, by the Rev. John H. Shedd. The conclusions to which Mr. Shedd comes are thus stated:
1. That the apostate Israelites were lost among the idolaters of the Assyrian Empire at the time of their apostasy.
2. That the true Israelites under Persian rule became identified with the captivity of Judah, and the nationality of the Ten Tribes was extinct.
3. That these Jews, embracing, since the time of Cyrus, the faithful of both Judah and Israel, greatly increased in Numbers, were reinforced by emigrants from Palestine, and have sent off colonies to all the East, throughout Persia, Tartary, and Thibet; but there is no Scriptural or historical basis for the idea that the Ten Tribes are living as a body in some obscure region or are found in any one nation.
4. That some at least of the communities of Jews still living in the land of their original exile, are lineal descendants of the Ten Tribes; and considering the history of those Jews, their present numbers of fifty or sixty thousand souls in Persia and Assyria, and several thousand more in Babylonia, they sufficiently solve the problem.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Melvill: Ask ye rain. Men seem practically to have but little remembrance that the mainspring of all the mechanism of second causes is in the hands of an invisible Creator; that it is not from what goes on in the hidden laboratories of what they call nature that season succeeds season, and shower and sunshine alternate with so much of beautiful and beneficent order, but that the whole arrangement is momentarily dependent upon the will and energy of that supreme Being who sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers.
Calvin: Grass in the field. The Prophet no doubt includes here under one kind all things necessary for a happy life; for it is not the will of God to fill his faithful people in this world as though they were swine, but his design is to give them by means of earthly things, a taste of the spiritual life. I am Jehovah their God. He means by this that although he had for a time rejected the Jews, their adoption would not be void; for by calling Himself their God He reminds them of his covenant, as if He said that He had not in vain made a covenant with Abraham, and promised that his seed should be blessed. And 1 will sow them. This was an instance of the wonderful grace of God; for hence it happened that the knowledge of celestial truth shone everywhere; and at length when the Gospel was proclaimed, a freer access was had to the Gentiles, because Jews were dispersed through all lands. The first receptacles (hospitia) of the Gospel were the Synagogues. God thus scattered his seed here and there that it might in due time produce fruit beyond the expectation of all.
Pressel: Diviners have seek a lie. Unbelief has recourse to a crowd of superstitious devices, and by their folly and impotence is put to shame: Faith on the contrary turns to prayer and through it works wonders. Passes through the sea. For how many has Israels wonderful passage through the Red Sea been a pattern of a wonderful escape through straits and sorrows of every kind! The text is one of the oldest examples of this use of the deliverance, but new ones are constantly occurring.
Jay: I will strengthen them in the Lord. The very assurance our hearts want. Its fulfillment will keep us in our work, not cause us to cease. It will be seasonable and proportioned to our needs. As thy days, etc. It will come in Gods own way, that Isaiah, in the use of the means He has appointed. These we are to employ, especially when we are not in a proper or lively frame; as fire u most needful when we are cold.
FN#1 - Zechariah 10:1.מְטַר־גֶשֶׁם lit rain of rain=copious rains. See Job 37:6, where the words are transposed.The text of the E. V. gives a singularly inappropriate rendering of the previous noun חֲזִיזִים, for what consistency is there between bright clouds and heavy showers?
FN#2 - Zechariah 10:2. ·תְרָפִים As this word denotes a peculiar species of idolatrous image, it is best to transfer it.
FN#3 - Zechariah 10:2. נסעוּ, lit, break up, as an encampment, h. to wander. They, i. e., the people.
FN#4 - Zechariah 10:2. יַעֲנוּ oppressed, sorely afflicted. The troubled of the E. V. is too feeble. The tense is future, implying that the condition still exists.
FN#5 - Zechariah 10:3. There is a play here upon the two meanings of the word פָקַד, the one to care for, the other to punish; or in general to visit, for good or for ill. Jehovah visits for evil, i. e., punishes, the goats; but visits for good, i. e., cares for, his flock. Keil, Henderson, and Cowles err in saying that the meaning to punish requires to be followed by עַל pers. See Job 31:14; Isaiah 26:14. Henderson (following the E. V.) makes the extraordinary mistake of rendering אֶפְקוֹד as a preterite, and claiming the vav before עַל as a vav conZech Zechariah 10 : He also renders כִי=nevertheless, a meaning which it never has.
FN#6 - Zechariah 10:4.נֹגשׂ=ruler, as in Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 60:17. Hengstenberg insists upon the original meaning, oppressor, but thinks the harshness implied is directed against foes.
FN#7 - Zechariah 10:5. הֹבִישׁוּ. The Hiphil takes a passive sense, just as in Zechariah 9:5.
FN#8 - Zechariah 10:6. הוֹשְׁבוֹתִים. This anomalous form is best explained as the Hiphil of יָשַׁב for הוֹשַׁבְתִים. (Gesenius, Hengstenberg, Maurer). Ewald derives it from שׁוּב, and Kimchi explains it as a compound of both words uniting the senses of both, as in the E. V, I will bring them again to place them. But it is far better to interpret it like the similar form in Ezekiel 36:11, than to adopt this Rabbinical refinement, which has no precedent elsewhere.
FN#9 - Zechariah 10:7. וְחָיוּ. As Ephraim is a collective noun, there seems to be no reason for the periphrasis of the E. V, they of Ephraim.
FN#10 - Zechariah 10:9. Hendersons rendering, Though I have scattered them,. yet they shall, etc, is grammatically impossible, is opposed to the true sense of זָרַע, and is not required by the context. His distant regions is no improvement upon the E. V.s far countries.
FN#11 - Zechariah 10:9. עַמִּים. Peoples. See on Zechariah 8:20.
FN#12 - Zechariah 10:10.לֹא יִמָּצֵא. cf. Joshua 17:16. (The necessary room) shall not be found for them.
FN#13 - Zechariah 10:11.צַרָה is best taken as in apposition to the preceding noun. To make it a verb meaning to cleave, after an Aramaic analogy (Maurer, Henderson, et al.), is far-fetched and needless. As a noun, it serves to show that the previous noun does not mean a literal sea, but affliction represented under that figure.
FN#14 - Zechariah 10:12. הִהְהַלָכוּ. The force of the Hithpael conjugation here is to express more distinctly than the Kal, the idea of continuous habitual action. For the sentiment, cf. Micah 4:5, where, however, Kal forms are used.
These files are a derivative of an electronic edition available at BibleSupport.com. Public Domain.
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Zechariah 10". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week after Epiphany