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1. JUDGMENT UPON THE LAND OF HADRACH
A. A destructive Visitation befalls Hadrach and Damascus (Zechariah 9:1). B. It destroys also Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon (Zechariah 9:2-4). C. The Philistine Cities suffer likewise, but a Remnant is saved (Zechariah 9:5-7). D. The Covenant People are protected from all Harm (Zechariah 9:8).
1 The burden of the word of Jehovah upon the land of Hadrach,
And Damascus is its resting place;1
For Jehovah has an eye2 upon man,
And upon all the tribes of Israel—
2 And Hamath also [which]3 borders thereon,
Tyre and Sidon, because4 it is very wise.
3 And Tyre built for herself a stronghold,5
And heaped up silver as dust,
And gold as the mire of the streets.
4 Behold the Lord will seize6 her,
And smite her bulwark in7 the sea,
And she herself shall be consumed by fire.
5 Ashkelon sees it and is afraid,
Gaza also, and trembles exceedingly,
And Ekron, for her hope is put to shame,8
And the king perishes from Gaza,
And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
6 And a mongrel9 dwells in Ashdod,
And I cut off the pride of the Philistines.
7 And I take away his blood out of his mouth
And his abominations from between his teeth;
And even he10 remains to our God,
And he becomes like a prince11 in Judah,
And Ekron like the Jebusite,
Against him that goeth hither and thither,14
And no oppressor shall come over them any more,
For now I see with mine eyes.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
Zechariah 9:1. The burden of the word. The ancient interpretation of מַשָֹּא,=divine declaration, oracle, or vision (LXX., Vulgate), has been adopted by most modern interpreters (Cocceius, Vitringa, Gesenius, Ewald, Fürst); but the other,=minatory prophecy (Targum, Aquila, Peshito), has been accepted by Jerome, Luther, Calvin, Umbreit, Kliefoth, Pressel, and has especially been vindicated by Hengstenberg (Christology). Burden is the admitted meaning of the word in other connections; it is never joined with the name of God, or of any other person but the subject of the prophecy; and undeniably is in most instances prefixed to a threatening prediction. See Isaiah 22:1; Isaiah 14:28; Isaiah 15:1, etc., and especially Jeremiah 23:33 ff. The phrase, “burden of the word of Jehovah,” is peculiar to the post-exile prophets (Zechariah 12:1, Malachi 1:1). The land of Hadrach is a very obscure ἅπαξ λεγομενον Pressel recounts no less than seventeen different explanations of it. They may be thus classified: (1.) It is the name of an ancient city or land (Theodoret Mops., Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Pressel), but this has arisen from a confusion of the word with Edrei. (2.) An appellative noun denoting the South (Targum), or the surrounding region (Jun. and Tremellius), or the interior (Hitzig), or the depressed region=Cœle-Syria (Maurer). (3.) A corruption of the text is assumed, חַדרַךְ for חַוְרַךְ=Αὐρανῖτις (Ortenberg, Olshausen). (4.) The name of a Syrian king (Gesenius, Bleek, Vaihinger, Fürst). (5.) The name of a Syrian god (Movers, Van Alphen). (6.) Id is a symbolical name, like Ariel (Isaiah 29:1), Rahab (Psalms 87:4). This, the oldest interpretation (Jerome, Raschi, Kimchi), is sustained by the fact that the others are all purely conjectural. No such name as Hadrach is now or ever has been known. The translators of the LXX. and Vulgate were ignorant of it. All the other proper names in the passage are well understood; this one, the first, has resisted the efforts of the acutest scholars to give it any historical identification. We must, therefore, either say that it denotes a region now unknown, near Damascus, which is surely most unlikely in a country so long and thoroughly known as northern Syria; or else give it a figurative meaning. Assuming the latter, Hengstenberg, Kliefoth, Keil, after Calvin, explain it as a compound term denoting strong-weak or harsh-gentle,15 which the prophet employs as a mystical designation of the Persian Empire, which for prudential reasons he was unwilling to specify more distinctly, the epithet meaning, that the land now strong and mighty shall hereafter be humbled and laid low. The subsequent statements are then only enlargements or specifications of the general visitation directed against the great empire under which the Jews were now in subjection. Its resting-place. This clause commences the detail of the several parts of the whole designated as Hadrach. The burden is to abide permanently upon Damascus. Its native rule, which ceased on the Great Conquest, was never afterwards recovered. Has an eye, etc. Man, here, as in Jeremiah 32:20, signifies the rest of mankind as contrasted with Israel. The latter half of the verse gives the reason of the former, namely, that God’s providence extends over the whole earth, and He therefore cannot allow the existing disproportion between his people and the heathen to continue permanently. Some (Kimchi, Calvin, Henderson) render “the eye of man,” gen. subj., as E. V., but this requires an unusual rendering of כִי, and besides, does not suit the context.
Zechariah 9:2. And Hamath also. Hamath, the Greek Epiphania on the Orontes, shall also be a resting-place of the burden. Nearly all expositors concur in construing the last two words as a relative clause. Hamath and Damascus are closely connected as together representing Syria. Contiguous in territory, they were alike in doom. From them the prophet turns to Phoenicia. Tyre and Sidon is=Tyre with Sidon, as the following verb in the singular shows. Tyre was a colony of Sidon, but the daughter soon outstripped the mother, and as early as Isaiah’s time the elder city was viewed as an appendage of the younger. Because it is. There is no need of giving to the conjunction, the rare and doubtful meaning, although (Calvin, Henderson, E. V.), since its normal sense suits perfectly. Tyre was very wise, as the world counts wisdom, multiplying wealth and strength, and trusting in them; but this very pride of earthly wisdom brought the divine retribution (Ezekiel 28:2-6. Cf. 1 Corinthians 1:19; 1 Corinthians 1:27).
Zechariah 9:3. Describes the resources of the insular city. The stronghold doubtless refers to the immense double sea-wall which made the place apparently impregnable. For her vast accumulations of wealth, see Isaiah 23:0, Ezekiel 27:0. הרוּץ—shining, is simply a poetical name of gold.
Zechariah 9:4. Jehovah will seize. An earthly conqueror may perform the work, but the ultimate agency is the Lord, who beholds and controls all things. Her bulwark. It is of little consequence whether חֵילָהּ be rendered rampart, or might, so long as in is not converted into into. The point of the clause is that the insular position, which apparently rendered the city invincible, should feel the weight of Jehovah’s hand, and prove no protection. The prodigious power and wealth of the Tyrians, and their utter overthrow, are among the most familiar of historical truths.
Zechariah 9:5. The prophet turns to Philistia. Ashkelon sees, etc. A vivid description of the effect of the fall of Tyre upon the cities on the coast southward (cf. Isaiah 23:5). Only four of the Philistine capitals are mentioned, Gath being omitted, as in Amos 1:6-8, Jeremiah 25:20, Zephaniah 2:4. The omission seems due to the fact that Gath, after being dismantled by Uzziah (2 Chronicles 26:6), sank into political insignificance. “Sees” is to be supplied after Gaza, and both “sees” and “fears” after Ekron. The king, in Hebrew, lacks the article, and the sense is not simply that the reigning king perishes, but that Gaza henceforth has no king. Of course, such monarchs as it had at this time, were only vassal kings. תֵשֵׁב. Hengstenberg strenuously contends against the common passive rendering, but apparently without reason. He (with Ewald and Köhler) renders, it shall sit or remain, in opposition to passing on or passing away. But compare Isaiah 13:20, where the verb is used as exactly parallel with שָׁכַן. (J. A. Alexander in loc.)
Zechariah 9:6. And a mongrel dwells. מַמְזִרִ. A word of uncertain origin, which occurs in only one other place in Scripture, namely, Deuteronomy 23:3, where it means bastard. The rendering in the version is from Fürst (Dictionary), who deduces the verb from an assumed root, signifying to mix the sexes. It is used in the text to denote a person of blemished birth. Ashdod should lose its native population, and have their place supplied by a mongrel brood. The pride of the Philistines, i. e., all that constitutes their pride. This clause resumes what precedes in relation to the several cities, and applies it to the nation as a whole. In the next verse a further advance is made, and the conversion of the people is set forth.
Zechariah 9:7. And I take … blood. The singular suffixes refer to the ideal unity in which the Philistines are conceived of as a single person. See a similar case in Zechariah 7:2-3. The blood mentioned is that of sacrifices, which the heathen sometimes drank, and the abominations=not idols, as if he were going to hold on to them mordicus (Hengstenberg), but idolatrous offerings. The whole clause strikingly depicts the abolition of idolatry. The rest of the verse sets forth what comes in its place. And even he, i. e., the nation of the Philistines regarded as a person. To our God=the God of Israel. They shall become his worshippers. Like a prince, a tribe prince. אַלֻּף is a denominative from אֶלֶף, and denotes the head of a thousand (cf. Micah 5:2). In the earlier books it is applied only to the tribe-princes of Edom, but is transferred by Zechariah to the tribal heads of Judah. The remnant of the Philistines is to become like a chiliarch in Judah. The statement is completed by the final clause. And Ekron. This is mentioned not in and for itself, but simply to individualize the declaration; any other city would have answered as well. Like the Jebusite, i. e., like the ancient inhabitants of Jebus, who became incorporated with the covenant people and shared all their privileges. See the case of Araunah, 2 Samuel 24:18.
Zechariah 9:8. Not only shall a judgment fall on the neighboring heathen and the remnant of them be converted, but the Lord will carefully protect his own people. And I encamp for my house. House, dat. comm., stands for people or family of God (Hosea 8:1). An army is more precisely defined in the next clause as passing through and returning, i. e., marching to and fro. No oppressor, such as Egypt, Assyria, or Babylon. For now I see=am exercising my providential control. “In the estimation of men of little faith, God sees only when He is actually interfering” (Hengstenberg). But in fact He sees all the time.
“There can be no doubt that we have here as graphic an account of the expedition of Alexander the Great as is consistent with the permanent distinction between prophecy and history.” (Hengstenberg). The capture of Damascus, of Tyre, and of Gaza, are well-known historical facts; and these carry with them assurance that there was also a fulfillment of the prediction in reference to Hamath and the other cities of Philistia, of the fate of which we have no express account. This fulfillment, however, was manifestly only incipient, inasmuch as the incorporation of the Philistines with Israel did not take place until a later period. On the other hand, the attempt of the so-called later criticism to refer the passage to the conquests of Uzziah mentioned in 2 Chronicles 26:6-7, completely fails; because Uzziah did not attack Damascus and Hamath nor Tyre, which are here mentioned, while he did subdue other neighboring heathen, Edomites, Arabians, Maonites, who are not mentioned. The rapid celerity of these conquests is most appropriate to the agency of the “he-goat” whom Daniel saw (Zechariah 8:5) coming from the west “on the face of the whole earth, and he touched not the ground.” All the great captains from Sesostris down yield to Alexander in the swiftness and extent of his conquests. Even Tyre, with all its immense advantages and resources, stayed his march for only what was comparatively a short period.
DOCTRINAL AND MORAL
1. The word of the Lord endureth forever. Here is a prediction of a heavy calamity, which falls in succession upon Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Zidon, and the sea-coast cities of Philistia; yet the people of God are safe, guarded not by any human power, but by the unseen presence of their God. Even so it came to pass. The Syrian conquests of Alexander the Great fulfilled the prophecy to the letter. After the battle of Issus, he captured Damascus, which Darius had chosen as the strong depository of his wealth, and this opened to him all Cœle-Syria. Zidon soon surrendered. Tyre, strong in its position, its defenses, its wealth, and its wisdom, made a stubborn resistance, yet after a seven months’ siege was taken and “devoured by fire.” Gaza, too, although it was, as its name imports, the strong, was conquered after five months’ effort, and destroyed. The whole region fell a prey to the imperious conqueror, but the armies passed and repassed by Jerusalem without doing the least injury. Josephus accounts for this remarkable fact by the statement that when the conqueror drew near the city the high priest went forth to meet him, in his official robes, followed by a train of priests and citizens arrayed in white; and that Alexander was so impressed by the spectacle that he did reverence to the holy name on the high priest’s mitre; and when Parmenio expressed surprise at the act, he answered that he had seen in a vision at Dium in Macedon, the god whom Jaddua represented, who encouraged him to cross over into Asia and promised him success. Afterwards he entered the city, offered sacrifice, and heard a recital of the prophecies of Daniel which foretold his victory, in consequence of which he bestowed important privileges upon the Jews. (See Hengstenbreg, Genuineness of Daniel, 224–233; Smith’s Dictionary of the Bible, p. 60.) The truth of this narrative, although much questioned by Prideaux and others, has of late come to be considered extremely probable, on the ground of both its external evidence and its consistency with the character and policy of Alexander. But there is no doubt whatever of the main fact, that amid the storm of conquest which swept over the entire coterminous region, Jerusalem escaped unharmed. The holy city experienced what David said (Psalms 34:7) “The angel of the Lord encampeth around them that fear Him and delivereth them.” This “captian of Lord’s host” (Joshua 5:15) kept at bay the otherwise irresistible foe.
2. Bloodshed and carnage prepare the way for the Prince of Peace. The conquest of Alexauder had aims and results far beyond any contemplated by himself even in the most extensive of his farreaching views. He tore down that others might build up. The humiliation of the Syrian powers and provinces was preliminary to their conversion to the true faith. Their cruel and debasing worship disappeared, and the remnant became incorporated with the Christian Church. They exhibited on a small scale what the entire career of Alexander exhibited on the world’s broad stage,—a secular preparation for the new and final form of the kingdom of God on earth. Well says Wordsworth, “We speak of the connection of sacred and profane history; but what history can rightly be called profane? What history is there, rightly studied, which is not sacred? What history is there in which we may not trace the footsteps of Christ?” A heathen historian (Arrian) said that Alexander, who was like no other man, could not have been given to the world without the special design of Providence. But what to Arrian was an inference from a narrow induction is to us a broad fact stamped upon the face of the world’s history, and confirmed by the concurrent testimonies of two divine seers, Daniel and Zechariah.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Wordsworth: Zechariah 9:1. Hadrach is the designation of the powers of this world generally (of which Persia was a specimen), strong for a while and proudly exulting in their strength, and opposing God and persecuting his Church, and in due time to be laid low and broken in pieces by Him. How many Hadrachs are now vaunting themselves as if they were all-powerful! how many are raging against Him, and how terrible will be their downfall!
Moore: Never has sin more proudly entrenched herself than in godless but magnificent Tyre. Yet all was swept like chaff before the whirlwind of the wrath of God, when the time for the fulfillment of his threatenings had come. Two hundred years passed away after these threatenings were uttered, and Tyre seemed stronger than ever; yet when the day of doom dawned, the galleys that had left her the queen of seas, when they returned found her but a bare and blackened rock, a lonely monument of the truth that our God is a consuming fire.… God will not make Himself a liar to save man in his sins.
Jay: Ekron as the Jebusite. 1. It is a great thing to be a Jebusite. 2. Jebusites may be derived from Ekronites. Hence let none despair, either for themselves or for their fellows. God is able of these stones to raise up children to Abraham.
Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 9:1.—מְנֻחָתוֹ= resting-place, permanent abode.
Zechariah 9:1; Zechariah 9:1.—עֵין אָדָם, gen. obj., an eve upon man. So LXX. and most critics.
Zechariah 9:2; Zechariah 9:2.— Before תִגְבָל we must supply אֲשֶׁר. The latter half of Zechariah 9:1 is parenthetical. “Hamath also,” i. e. as well as Damascus, is a resting-place of the burden.
Zechariah 9:2; Zechariah 9:2.—כִי takes its usual sense, because. To render although is enfeebling as well as needless.
Zechariah 9:3; Zechariah 9:3.—The paronomasia in עוֹר מָצוֹר cannot be reproduced in English.
Zechariah 9:4; Zechariah 9:4.—יוֹרשׁנּח is not will dispossess (Burg., Hend.), nor impoverish (Hitzig, Ewald), nor deliver up (Heng., Kliefoth), but seize, conquer, as in exactly similar connection, Joshua 8:7; Joshua 17:12 (Maurer, Kohler).
Zechariah 9:4; Zechariah 9:4.—בַיָּם. In, not into, as Henderson and Noyes render.
Zechariah 9:5; Zechariah 9:5.—הוֹבִישׁ. Here, as elsewhere (Jeremiah 2:26), the Hiphil takes a passive sense: the subject of the verb is not Ekron (as some editions of the E. V. punctuate the clause), but מֶבָּטָהּ.
Zechariah 9:6; Zechariah 9:6.—מַמְזֵר. Mongrel is a better, because more significant rendering than alien (Genevan, stranger), adopted by most critics, after the LXX. ἀλλογενής Dr. Van Dyck, in the Arabic Bible, gives زذـيم =bastard.
Zechariah 9:7; Zechariah 9:7.—נשְׁאַר גַם־הוּא. The E. V., he that remaineth, is not warranted by grammar nor by the connection.
Zechariah 9:7; Zechariah 9:7.—“prince,” literally, tribe-prince or head of a thousand, a Pentateuch word.
Zechariah 9:8; Zechariah 9:8.—מִן, lit., because of, here is= against.
Zechariah 9:8; Zechariah 9:8.—מִצָּבָה. The keri undoubtedly given the true text, מִצָּבָא, nor is there any need of adopting the vowel changes proposed by Ortenberg and Ewald.
Zechariah 9:8; Zechariah 9:8.—מֵעֹבֵר וּמשּׁב, the same phrase that occurs in Zechariah 8:14, where however, the connection requires a variation in the rendering.
Pressel derides this view, saying, Diese elymologischen Versucht sind in dtr That audi Bcides, gar zu scharf und gar zu zart, gat zu stark und gar zu schwach. But where all are groping in the dark, ridicule is scarcely in place.
2. ZION’S KING OF PEACE.
A. The Character of the King (Zechariah 9:9). B. The Nature and Extent of his Kingdom(Zechariah 9:10)
9 Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion,
Shout,16 daughter of Jerusalem,
Behold, thy king cometh to17 thee,
Just and saved is He,
Afflicted and riding upon an ass,
Even upon a colt, the she-asses’18 foal,
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,
And the horse from Jerusalem,
And the battle-bow shall be cut off;
And he shall speak peace to the nations,
And his dominion shall be from sea to sea,
And from the river to the ends of the earth.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
From the description of deliverance wrought and blessings conferred by means of destructive judgments upon the heathen, the Prophet turns abruptly to a royal personage who is to appear without armies or weapons, and yet will establish general peace and set up a kingdom of unlimited extent.
Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice. The value of this blessing is expressed by a summons to joy in view of it. Cocceius justly says, that the summons itself contains a prophecy. Daughter of Zion, see on Zechariah 2:7-10. The Prophet says, Behold! as if he saw the animating spectacle, thy king—not any ruler, but thine, i. e., the one long promised and expected (Psalms 45, 82.), he who alone is thy king, in the highest sense of the word.
This king is described by four features of character and condition: (1.) Just. The leading virtue in a king, and hence emphasized in the Messianic utterances (Isaiah 11:3-5; Jeremiah 23:5; Psalms 45:6-7). (2.) Saved. נוֹשָׁץ is rendered actively by all the ancient versions (Luther, Grotius, Marckius, Henderson); but the participle is Niphal which, although it may be reflexive, is never active save in verbs which have no Kal form. Calvin, Cocceius, and most of the moderns, give the passive rendering. A tertium quid has been sought by Hengstenberg, Keil, and others, in the sense endued with salvation, but for this I can see no authority in the passages quoted (Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalms 33:16). Pressel follows Fürst in rendering victorious, which is arbitrary. Nor is there here an exigentia loci, as Henderson claims; for the king is saved not for his own sake only, but for his people’s, and the blessing, therefore, is not a personal one, but extends to all his subjects. Thus the passive suits the connection. (3.) Afflicted, עָנִי. The root עָנָה=to be bowed down, in its primary sense, of bowed by outward circumstances=afflicted, gives the adjective found here, but in the secondary sense of inwardly bowed, gives the adjective עָנָו=meek, patient, lowly. While there is a constant tendency of the two significations to pass into each other, yet the distinction is generally maintained, and עָנִי is found coupled with כאֹב דַל אֶביוֹן. The E. V. is sustained by the LXX. (πραύ̈ς), Targum, Kimchi, and most of the moderns, who cannot see the relevancy of this feature to the character of a triumphant king. But our king triumphs through suffering. His crown springs out of his cross. Hence we agree with the Vulgate (pauper), Aben Esra, Calvin, Cocceius, Hengstenberg, Tholuck, Keil, in considering this one word as summing up the elaborate picture of suffering contained in Isaiah 53:0. It is true, Matthew (Matthew 21:5) apparently sustains the other view, but he merely quotes the LXX as he found it, without endorsing its absolute accuracy in all particulars. Besides, he omits two of the traits mentioned, and dwells only on the last one, for the sake of which his quotation was manifestly made. (4.) Biding upon an ass. Lit., “upon an ass, even upon a young ass, a foal of she-asses.” The וְ is epexegetical, just as it is in 1 Samuel 17:40, “in a shepherd’s bag, even in a scrip.” אֲתֹכוֹת is simply the plural of species. Genesis 21:7 : “who would have said that Sarah should give children suck?” Yet Sarah had but one child. In this case the youthfulness of the animal is emphasized, since the expression implies that it was one not yet ridden, but still running behind the she-asses. But what does this trait mean? Many affirm that it points to the peaceful character of the king, as set forth in the next verse. But this does not account for the marked emphasis given to the youth of the animal. It is better therefore (Hengstenberg, Keil, etc.) to regard it as a token of poverty and meanness. The ass was indeed ridden by distinguished persons in the early days of Israel when horses were not used at all; but after the time of Solomon no instance occurs of its being employed on state occasions. That this king should ride not upon a horse but upon an ass, and that an untrained foal, indicated how far he should be from possessing any worldly splendor. The close correspondence between this account and our Lord’s entry into Jerusalem is well known; and Matthew (Matthew 21:4) and John (John 12:15) speak of the latter as a fulfillment of the former. And while it is true, as Vitringa says, that the prophecy would have been fulfilled in Christ, even if He had not made his entry into Jerusalem in this manner; still it is apparent that our Lord designedly framed the correspondence which we observe, and that he intended thus to embody the thought which lies at the basis of the whole passage, namely, that the king Messiah would rise through lowliness and suffering, to might and glory, and would conquer the world not by arms but by suffering and dying.
Zechariah 9:10. This verse describes the character and extent of the Messiah’s kingdom. And I will cut off, etc. Not only will this king extend his reign by peaceful methods, but all the instruments of war will be effectually removed from his people. The chariot, the horse, and the battle-bow are merely specifications, standing for the whole class of offensive weapons, which are to be cut off. This last word is the one used above (Zechariah 9:6) in reference to the pride of the Philistines, and denotes extermination. Both passages rest upon Micah 5:10-11. The Lord will take away all the outward defenses upon which a carnal reliance is placed. The occurrence of the word Ephraim here does not prove that this prophecy was written before the exile, but only that Zechariah uses the familiar designation of the different parts, of the country which still survived after the separation of the two kingdoms had ceased. See mention of Israel in Zechariah 8:13. the post exilium origin of which is admitted by all. Speak peace, not that He will teach peace, nor command peace, nor speak peacefully, but that He will speak peace, and that effectually, accomplishing by a single word what worldly kings bring about only by force of arms (cf. Psalms 72:6-7; Micah 5:5). He will do so not merely to the covenant people, but to the nations at large. This point is farther expanded in the boundaries assigned to his sway. From sea to sea, etc. The expressions are borrowed from the statement of Israel’s “bounds” in Exodus 23:31, whence some (Eichhorn, Hitzig) have inferred that they mean simply the restoration of the earthly Israel to its widest geographical limits. But there are changes in the phraseology which compel a different view. Instead of saying, from one particular sea to another, Zechariah leaves out all qualifying epithets and even the articles, so that the first clause must mean, from any one sea to any other, even the most distant, or from any sea around to the same point again. The other clause will mean, from the Euphrates, or from any other river as a terminus a quo, to the ends of the earth. נָהָרֹ with the article always means the Euphrates, and probably does so here, but an equivalent sense may be gained by the alternative rendering given above. What is meant is that the kingdom should be strictly universal. Our passage is a reproduction of Psalms 72:8.
The History of the Interpretation. The early Jewish authorities held that the Messiah is the subject. Thus the Book of Zohar, “On this account it is said of Messiah, Lowly and riding upon an ass.” The same view is given by Joshua ben Levi, Saadias-Gaon, and others. The testimonies may be found in Wetstein on Matthew 21:4. Jarchi, known among the Jews as the prince of Commentators, declares that “it is impossible to interpret it of any other than the Messiah.” In the twelfth century other opinions prevailed. One found in the Bab. Talmud evaded the difficulty by saying, “If the Israelites are worthy, the Messiah will come with the clouds of heaven (Daniel 7:13); if they are unworthy, he will come poor and riding upon an ass (Zechariah 9:9).” Another resorted to the device of two Messiahs, one of whom should be suffering, and the other, triumphant. Yet manifestly it is one and the same person who is described by the Prophet as uniting in himself the extremes of majesty and humiliation,—a combination which on the New Testament view of the case is intelligible and self-consistent, but on any other quite impossible. Alien-Ezra refuted the opinion of Rabbi Moses, the priest who referred the prophecy to Nehemiah, but himself went as far astray by interpreting it of Judas Maccabæus. There were those, however, who adhered to the Messianic interpretation, and resorted to strange expedients to get rid of the implication of weakness and lowliness. One of these was the fable that the ass created at the end of the six days of creation was the same which Abraham saddled when he went to offer Isaac, and which Moses set his wife and sons upon when he came out of Egypt; and that this distinguished animal was to bear the Messiah. Another was that the ass of King Messiah should be of an hundred colors. The more intelligent expositors (Kimchi, Abarbanel, et al.) explained the reference to the ass as a sign of humility. It is supposed that this prophecy in some way gave rise to the foolish statement of Tacitus, that the Jews consecrated the image of an ass in the inmost shrine of their temple, and hence probably arose the calumny upon the early Christians, who were often confounded with the Jews, that they worshipped an ass’s head,—a fable which Tertullian takes the trouble to confute (Ad Nationes, i. 11).
Among Christians the reference to Christ was uniform until the time of Grotius, who asserted that its first and literal application was to Zerubbabel, but that in a higher sense it referred to our Saviour. This view “excited universal displeasure, and called forth a host of replies, the first of which was written by Bochart.” Such a view refutes itself. Later, the rationalists felt themselves pressed by the same difficulty as the Jews. They could easily account on natural principles for the anticipation of a Messiah in glory, but were quite unable in this way to explain the prophecy of a suffering Messiah. They therefore resorted to the Jewish evasions, and sought for somebody else than Christ as the subject. Bauer chose Simon Maccabæus; Paulus, John Hyrcanus; Forberg, King Uzziah. But the most (Eichhorn, Gesenius, Ewald, etc.) devised the theory of an ideal Messiah, maintaining that this and all other similar prophecies arose simply from the vague expectation that there would appear in the future some great deliverer springing from the Davidic line, who after enduring great personal trials would institute a righteous government, restore the nation to its old prosperity, and overcome its unjust oppressors. So that what the New Testament considers a distinct prediction of the Messiah is merely a patriotic dream. For a thorough refutation of this preposterous theory, see Hengstenberg’s Christology, Appendix Zechariah 5:0 : For a brief outline, see Theological and Moral, 3.
DOCTRINAL AND MORAL
1. Here is an unequivocal prediction of the Lord Jesus Christ. It is so declared, as we have seen, by the New Testament. It is confirmed by a very peculiar proceeding on the part of our Lord,—his triumphal entry into Jerusalem,—which was simply exhibiting in symbol what is here expressed in words. It contains striking parallels with other passages unquestionably Messianic; such as the boundaries of the kingdom compared with Psalms 72:8, and the destruction of foes compared with Micah 5:9. But the strongest evidence is found in the contents of the prophecy itself. It presents a person in whom the greatest grandeur, magnificence, power, and influence are associated, without confusion or contradiction, with the greatest humility, gentleness, poverty, suffering, and weakness. No judge, king, or ruler of any sort in all Jewish history ever united in his character or experience these two extremes. None was so lowly, none so exalted. None without arms spoke peace even to his own people, much less to the heathen, and least of all to the entire known world. It is true of only one being in all human history that he had not where to lay his head and rode upon an ass, and yet acquired a limitless dominion over land and sea.
2. What other kings accomplish by force, Zion’s king effects without weapons or armies. Our Lord told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world.” Pilate in surprise said to Him, “Thou art a king then?” Jesus answered, “Thou sayest [the truth], for I am a king. To this end was I born and for this cause came I into the world, that I might bear witness to the truth; every one that is of the truth heareth my voice” (John 18:37). Truth, the revealed truth of God, is the only weapon this great conqueror employs, and yet with it He has built up the mightiest kingdom the earth has ever seen. It was an unconscious prophecy when the inscription over his cross, This is the King of the Jews, was recorded in three languages, indicating the comprehensive and far-reaching extent of the spiritual monarchy thus founded. Christ’s followers in different ages have been slow to learn the lesson, and have often invoked the secular arm, but always to their own damage. They that take the sword shall perish by the sword. But the weapons which are not carnal are mighty through God. They have pulled down many a stronghold, have dismantled many an intellectual fortress, and time and again have brought the world’s best thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.
3. The “later criticism” altogether denies the existence of Messianic prophecies in the sense in which the historical Church has from the beginning held that they were contained in the Scriptures. This school maintains that what is called the Messianic idea arises out of the dissatisfaction which men in every age have had with the existing condition of things. Deeming the continuance of this inconsistent with the benevolence of God, they instinctively longed and looked for a regeneration of humanity, when all things would be restored to the state originally designed by the Creator. Hence the classic expectation of a golden age. Moreover, every man is dissatisfied with his own moral condition as well as with that of the race. He is weak and imperfect. He does not live in harmony with what he knows to be true and right. Thence arises the ideal of a perfect man, of one whose whole mode of thought, feeling, and action is in accordance with the highest and purest truth. This is the idea of the Messiah of God. But as no such Messiah is to be found within or around us, it is natural to look for Him in the same future in which we expect the regeneration of society. And the more so as we know by observation how much the advancement of the race has depended upon the appearance from time to time of single persons distinguished by lofty endowments. Now this Messianic idea was developed in a very high degree among the Jews, because they had more of the general spirit of prophecy than other nations. The Hebrew Prophet was a man of genius, enthusiasm, and intense moral energy. His pure reason, illumined of God, enabled him to understand the character of the divine government and foresee events hidden from common eyes. His exalted imagination and sensitive conscience presented to him the visions of God. Thus he foresaw not only the general triumph of truth and the exaltation of Israel, but also the means by which these were to be obtained, namely, the Messiah, which term sometimes means a Jewish King, at others the Jewish people, and in a third class of instances, the better portion of that people. But these predictions were always in their nature subjective; their authors neither had nor thought they had any objective revelation made to them of actions or events in the life of any future historical person. They were great and excellent men, but not directly inspired nor infallible. And all their sayings can be easily explained by the actings of their own minds according to the time and the circumstances in which they were placed.
A detailed refutation of this ingenious argument would be beyond the limits of a Commentary. It is enough to say that the parallel instituted between Ethnic and Hebrew views on the subject does not hold. The former were mere scattered, vague, and individual suggestions respecting the future, and even these, there is good reason for supposing, were mere echoes of the voice of the Old Testament or traditions from the primeval revelation which filtered down through the ages. Among the Hebrews, on the contrary, the idea of the Messiah was the central thought of their Scriptures and the organizing basis of their national existence. The statement of it begins with the protevangelium in Genesis, and passes with a closer definition and a greater development through Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Hosea, Joel, Amos, Isaiah, Micah, Jeremiah, Ezekial, Daniel, Haggai, and Zechariah, and at last terminates with Malachi, who closed the Hebrew Canon. What was at first a promise to the race, limits itself in succession to a nation, to a tribe, to a family. The person set forth is described in turn as a prophet, as a priest, as a king, or as a combination of any two, or of all three, of these characters; and sometimes as in a state of great humiliation and suffering, and again, as in a position of the greatest power and glory. And the writers all with one consent speak of the conception not as a suggestion of their own minds, but as a disclosure from without or rather from above. Their common formula is, Thus saith the Lord. And it is not possible to reconcile their honesty with the view that they were uttering merely subjective notions. Moreover, the origin and continuance of the nation are traced to the divine purpose of sending a Messiah. For this Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees, the line of his posterity carefully preserved, Israel kept in Egypt, afterwards put in possession of the promised land, the Mosaic economy instituted, priests and kings and prophets raised up, the nation long maintained, then exiled, and then restored. Their theocratic constitution was not owing to a blind and odious particularism, but was the result of God’s wisdom in choosing one race to be the depository of the truth and blessing destined one day to be coextensive with the race. The Jews were trustees for the whole human family. It pleased God to make a gradual and thorough preparation through a long tract of ages for the full and final revelation of his grace. The seed of Abraham was simply the means by which this preparation was accomplished. On this view of their history, all its parts and features are easily understood, and are seen to constitute merely successive stages in the development of God’s purpose to bring many sons unto glory through a captain of salvation. On any other view it is a mystery which baffles all thought and comprehension. But what was a mystery before the coming of Christ is an “open secret” under the Gospel, and the key which fits all the wards of the lock must be the right one. “The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” The remarkable correspondence between his life, words, and works, and the hints and promises and types and predictions of the Old Testament, indicate beyond question to any unprejudiced person, a presiding mind which coördinated the two Testaments, and brought about that wondrous harmony of theme and tone which is wholly unexampled in all human literature. And this Messiah objectively revealed is not only the link between the Hebrew Scriptures and the Greek, but the one great thought which gives purpose, symmetry, and consistency to the entire scheme of the Old Testament.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Moore: Zechariah 9:9. Christians should be happy. No people have a better right or a better reason to rejoice. A suffering people can find great comfort in the fact that they have a suffering Saviour (Hebrews 4:15).
Zechariah 9:10. War will cease on the earth only when wickedness ceases, and wickedness will cease only when Christ’s universal empire begins.
Wordsworth: It is remarkable that St. John’s narrative of the triumphal entry of Christ, riding into Jerusalem on the foal of an ass, is immediately followed by the mention of an incident in the history: “Certain Greeks wished to see Jesus.” The entry itself was like a vision of the coming of the Gentile world to Jesus; these Greeks were its first fruits.
Jno. Newton: Messiah is king of Zion. Happy the subjects who dwell under his shadow. He rules them not with the rod of iron by which He bruises and breaks the power of his enemies, but with his golden sceptre of love. He reigns by his own right, and by their full and free consent, in their hearts. He reigns upon a throne of grace to which they at all times have access, and from whence they receive the pardon of all their sins, grace to help in time of need, and a renewed supply answerable to all their wants, cares, services, and conflicts.
Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:9.—“Shout,” E. V., is the exact rendering of הָרִיעִי, which means, to make a load noise; whether of joy or sorrow depends upon the context.
Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:9.—לָךְ. Not only to thee, but for thee, for thy good. Cf. Isaiah 9:5.
Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 9:9.—The E. V., foal of an ass, by making the last noun a singular instead of a plural, misses the emphasis laid upon the youth of the animal as one not yet old enough to go by itself.
3. VICTORY OVER THE SONS OF JAVAN
A. Deliverance promised (vers.11, 12). B. Name of the Foe (Zechariah 9:13). C. Jehovah fights for his People (Zechariah 9:14-15). D. Salvation (Zechariah 9:16). E. General Prosperity (Zechariah 9:17).
11 As for thee also,—for the sake of thy covenant-blood,19
I send forth20 thy prisoners from the pit wherein is no water.
12 Return to the strong hold,21 O prisoners of hope,
Even to-day I declare, I will repay double22 to you.
And stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Javan,
And make thee like the sword of a hero.
14 And Jehovah shall appear above them,
And like lightning shall his arrow go forth,
And the Lord Jehovah shall blow the trumpet
And go forth in the storms of the South.
15 Jehovah of Hosts shall protect25 them,
And they devour, and tread down sling-stones,26
And they drink and make a noise as from27 wine,
And become full as the sacrificial bowl,28 as the corners of the altar,
16 And Jehovah their God saves them in that day,
(Saves) like a flock29 his people,
For jewels of a crown shall they be,
Sparkling over his land,
17 For how great is his goodness, and how great his beauty!
Corn makes the young men thrive,30 and new wine the maidens.
EXEGETIGAL AND CRITICAL
A new scene opens. The prophet turns away from the beautiful picture of a peaceful king extending his beneficent sway over all the earth, to describe a period of distress and weakness, to which, however, he gives a promise of full deliverance, to be gained by actual conflict. This warlike period evidently belongs to a nearer future than the one just described, and the prevalent opinion justly refers it to the Maccabean age. The passage begins with a general assurance of deliverance (Zechariah 9:11-12); the foe is mentioned by name (Zechariah 9:13); the Lord fights for his chosen (Zechariah 9:14-15); the result is salvation (Zechariah 9:16); this is followed by general prosperity (Zechariah 9:17).
Zechariah 9:11-12 contain a promise of deliverance. As for thee also. The person addressed is the whole nation, as is apparent from the mention of Ephraim and Jerusalem in Zechariah 9:10, and of Zion in Zechariah 9:13, and also from the phrase “blood of the covenant,” which belonged to the twelve tribes; see Exodus 24:8. גַּמ־אַתְּ, even thou, stands absolutely at the head of the sentence for the sake of emphasis (cf. Genesis 49:8), and the sense is, Even though you are in such a forlorn condition, seemingly lost, yet I have mercy in store for you. The ground of this promise is stated before the promise itself, in the peculiar Mosaic expression covenant blood, the force of which is well expressed by Hengstenberg. “The covenant-blood, which still separates the Church from the world, was a sure pledge to the covenant nation of deliverance out or all trouble, provided, that is, that the nation did not make the promises of God nugatory by wickedly violating the conditions He had imposed.” Thy prisoners resumes and explains the thou at the opening of the verse. It does not mean “such of the Jews as were still captives in foreign lands” (Henderson, Köhler), but the entire people. The pit without water, an allusion to the history of Joseph (Genesis 37:24), denotes not so much a condition of captivity as of general distress. The escape from this condition to one of security and prosperity is predicted under the form of a command, Return to the strong hold. See the same figure in Psalms 40:2, where the rock and the pit are put in sharp contrast. Since the people had this prospect, they were justly entitled prisoners of hope, a beautiful expression which explains itself. Even to-day, i.e., in spite of all threatening circumstances (Ewald, Hengstenberg). Repay double, namely, double the prosperity you formerly enjoyed. Cf. Isaiah 40:2; Isaiah 41:7.
Ver.13. The prophet proceeds to show more particularly how the deliverance just promised is to be effected. It is to be by a glorious victory over their oppressors. The method of this victory is represented by a bold and beautiful figure. Judah is the extended bow; Ephraim the arrow which the Lord shoots at the foe. Israel therefore is to carry on the conflict, and Jehovah to give them success. For I bend for me Judah, i.e., as a bow. The word rendered bend, literally means tread; because a bow was often stretched by setting the foot upon it, this term came into use. Fill the bow. As only one arrow ran be shot at a time from a bow, it is full when this is placed upon it. The complete sense of both clauses is, Judah and Ephraim are bow and arrow in the hand of Jehovah. I stir up, not brandish as a lance (Hitzig, Köhler), which would require the object to be expressed. Javan, the name of the fourth son of Japhet (Genesis 10:2), is the Hebrew word for Greece, usually identified with Ion or Ionia. Some suppose the persons meant by the sons of Zion are the Hebrews held as slaves in Greece (Ewald, Hitzig), who are now incited to insurrection. It is enough to say in reply that the contest here spoken of is manifestly carried on in the Lord’s own land. A comparison with Daniel 8:21 shows that we must regard Greece here as a formidable secular power, the Græco-Macedonian monarchy, especially in its successor in Syria, the Seleucidæ. To refer the passage to the days of Uzziah on account of the mention of Greece in Joel 4:6 (cf. Amos 1:6; Amos 1:9), is wholly unreasonable; since that passage does not allude to any conflict with the Greeks, but simply speaks of them as the parties to whom the Tyrians had sold certain Jewish captives. And it is the Tyrians, not the Greeks, who are there censured.
Ver.14. Will appear above them, because He fights from heaven on their behalf. The remainder of the verse is a poetical description of a battle in the imagery of a tempest. The lightnings are Jehovah’s arrows, the thunderblast is the signal of his trumpet, and He Himself marches in a furious storm sweeping up from the great southern desert. Storms of the South (cf. Isaiah 21:1; Hosea 13:15) were always the most violent.
Ver.15. Jehovah shall protect, etc. The Lord not only fights for his people, but is also their shield, covering their heads in the day of battle. And they devour, etc. The image is that of a lion who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of his victim. Cf. Numbers 23:24. The figure is vigorous, but need not be called “a heathenish abomination” (Pressel). Tread down sling stones= subdue the enemy, contemptuously styled sling-stones or mere pebbles from the brook. Flesh is to be supplied as the object of devour, and blood as that of drink. The vessel mentioned in the last clause denotes, not any bowl, but one in which the priests catch the blood of a sacrifice. Corners, of course, include the horns which stood upon them. These figures are priestly, and intimate a holy war and victory.
Ver.16 gives the result of this victory,—salvation. By an exquisite change of figure this is represented as bestowed upon them in the character of the Lord’s flock, which at once suggests the peaceful blessings recounted in the 23d Psalm. In the next clause, with a designed antithesis to the sling stones in the previous verse, the prophet compares Zion’s sons to jewels of a crown, which sparkle over his land, i. e., Jehovah’s. Hengstenberg takes the participle here in the same way as in Psalms 60:6= rising up. But, as Keil says, crown stones do not lift themselves up. It is better to take the word in the sense of shining, glittering (Ewald, Maurer, Köhler, Fürst). The reference is to precious gems set in a crown and flashing from the brow of a conqueror as he stalks over the land.
Ver.17. For how great, etc. The passage closes with an exulting exclamation. The pronouns in the first clause refer to Jehovah (Hengstenberg, Ewald, Pressel), but mean the goodness and the beauty which He bestows (Henderson). This avoids the difficulty of ascribing beauty to the Lord,31 and yet retains the full force of the apostrophe. Corn and new wine are the customary expressions of abundance (Deuteronomy 33:28; Psalms 4:8), and are here rhetorically divided between the youths and the maidens. Copious supplies of food lead to a rapid increase of population. Psalms 72:16. “The drinking of must by young females is peculiar to this passage; but its being here expressly sanctioned by divine authority, furnishes an unanswerable argument against those who would interdict all use of the fruit of the vine” (Henderson). “We know that when there is but a small supply of wine, it ought by right of age to be reserved for the old, but when wine so overflows that young men and young women may freely drink of it, it is a proof of great abundance” (Calvin).
THEOLOGICAL AND MORAL
1. Few words are so precious to a devout believer as covenant. It suggests thoughts of grace, privilege, and security which are not easily attained in any other way. Our trust for this world and the next rests not upon voices of nature or conclusions of reason, but upon the promise of God,—a promise which He has chosen to present in the form of a compact with stipulations (and sometimes even when the stipulations were all on one side, Genesis 9:9), and not only so, but to confirm it by sacrifice. This was vividly set before Israel when the law was given on Sinai. Moses sprinkled the blood of the offerings both upon the altar and upon the people, saying, “Behold the blood of the covenant which Jehovah has made with you concerning all these words.” Now it is true that the Mosaic dispensation was a national compact with the Hebrew people, and that it also contained a complete and absolute rule of human duty, but besides these aspects it was a covenant of grace, representing the merciful provision God had made for the salvation of his people, and in this sense its relation to the Gospel economy was that of sunrise to the blaze of noon. It confirmed the promise made to Abraham, and rendered the believer’s hope still more firm and clear, as resting upon an immutable bond. The force of that bond continued unimpaired down through the generations. “The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers [only], but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day” (Deuteronomy 5:3). Again and again, in times of emergency or doubt, did the Old Testament saints reassure their souls and reanimate their hopes by recurring to that old covenant, “the word which He commanded for a thousand generations” (Psalms 105:8). They might be involved in gloom and perplexity, and the eye of sense could see no way out; but they knew that God had made with them a covenant ordered in all things and sure, and this was all their salvation, and all their desire. The same blessed assurance continues to believers under the Gospel. Nay, it is stronger now, for we have the blood of a new covenant (Mark 14:24), i. e., of a new administration of the old covenant, to confirm our faith. The covenant blood, on which the faith of Christians lays hold, is not that of bulls and goats, but of a lamb without spot, not the crimson stream of a typical sacrifice, but that which poured from the gaping wounds of the incarnate Son of God. The compact which has been ratified by such an oblation as was made at Golgotha, is necessarily imperishable. It can never fail. The blood of the cross is the blood of an everlasting covenant (Hebrews 13:20). Here the devout soul rests in peace and security. The malice of the world, the roar of Satan, the clamor of conscience, all are still before the thought of the pledged and ratified word of Jehovah. The grass withereth, the flower fadeth, but the Word of our God abideth forever. The Strength of Israel will not lie nor repent; for He is not a man that He should repent.
2. This portion of the chapter presents a remarkable contrast to the two verses which precede it. There we read of an eminently peaceful king under whom all weapons of war are destroyed. Without noise or conflict he quietly extends his dominion till it becomes universal. Here, on the contrary, Judah is the Lord’s bow and Ephraim his arrow, and there is a terrible struggle set forth by images taken from the storm, the lightning, and the whirlwind. The language is not an exaggeration of what occurred in the heroic struggle for Judæan independence under the sons of the aged priest Mattathias. That struggle was essentially a religious one. It began in a determined resistance to the attempt of Antiochus Epiphanes to exterminate the faith of the Jews and impose the impure and idolatrous worship of the Greeks; and although other elements were developed in the course of time, this always was the chief consideration. During the course of it, the “good report through faith” of which the Epistle to the Hebrews speaks (Hebrews 11:36-39), was obtained by many who “were tortured, not accepting deliverance that they might obtain a better resurrection. Others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover, of bonds and imprisonments. They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, they were slain with the sword.” The atrocities of heathen persecution roused a flame which was irresistible. Neither Antiochus nor any of his successors on the Syrian throne was able to subdue the zeal of the Jews for their ancestral faith. Again and again the armies of the alien were put to rout in pitched battles, and veterans of many a Well-fought field were no match for men who fought for God as well as their native land. The Maccabees really earned the name (Maccabœus=hammerer) by which they are now generally known, and although disregarded by the haughty heathen, still they shine as jewels of a crown among all disinterested observers. “None have surpassed them in accomplishing a great end with inadequate means; none ever united more generous valor with a better cause” (Milman). They began with a few personal followers, and they ended with a strong and well-organized nation. The struggle lasted for a quarter of a century (B. C. 168–143), and notwithstanding the unequal resources of the parties, Jehovah of Hosts made feeble Jews like the sword of a hero, while the mailed warriors of Syria were trodden down like the small stones of a sling.
3. For more than one half of the four centuries which elapsed between the close of the Old Testament and the opening of the New, the history of the Jews is almost a total blank, and of the other half there is much less information to be drawn from Ethnic sources than might have been anticipated. But it is very apparent from many scattered indications that Israel had often occasion to say, How great is his goodness and how great his beauty! The population multiplied with a rapidity like that of their forefathers in Egypt. The few feeble struggling colonists gradually emerged into a strong, energetic, and well-organized commonwealth. Their land resumed its ancient fertility. Just as in the palmy days of old, its rocks were crowned with mould and its sands covered with verdure, and a wide-spread commerce on both seas furnished the conditions of growing wealth. At the same time a spirit of enterprise, or a love of adventure, led many to distribute themselves all over the Roman world, so that there was scarcely a province either in the east or the west, where they were not found in numbers. Still in every quarter, under every form of government, and in the midst of every social system, they retained their national faith and usages with unconquerable tenacity. This was manifested not only by a persistent refusal to amalgamate with the various peoples among whom they lived, but by their regular and liberal contributions to the temple. A curious illustration of the latter is seen in the fact mentioned by Cicero, that Flaccus was compelled to forbid such offerings from the province of Asia, because the enormous export of gold affected the markets of the world. Thus even the emigrating Jews contributed to the prosperity of those who remained at home. It is evident then that the statements of increase contained in this chapter and the one that follows were verified to the letter. Parts of the land were as thickly settled as any portions of modern Europe. And notwithstanding all the outward conflicts in which they were engaged, or the suffering they may have experienced, from the contentions of rival kingdoms around, “corn made the young men thrive, and new wine the maidens,” and the covenant people were preserved in their integrity and distinctness, until He came, for whose appearing they had been appointed and preserved for more than twenty centuries.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Moore: Ver.11. The covenant love of God and his faithful promises that are sealed with blood are the hope of the Church in time of trouble.—“Ver.12. Let sinners who are also prisoners of hope, turn to the stronghold Christ, ere it be forever too late, and God will give them a double blessing.
Pressel: Vers.11, 12. How wide is the range of God’s covenant with man! It extends so far that it forms, as our Lord said to the Sadducees, the immovable basis of our hope of eternal life. But if the salvation of this covenant, whether in its older or newer form, is ever to become ours, the first condition and the last is—Turn to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Again: (1) There is no imprisonment without hope, for the covenant-blood speaks louder than our sins, and the Lord can break every fetter; but (2) There is no hope without conversion, for without conversion we are still in the pit without water, and fall short of the strong-hold which alone secures return to fellowship with God.
Cowles: Ver.12. It is altogether the way of the Lord to send grief and affliction only in single measure, but joy and blessing in double, weighing out the retributions of justice carefully, and the inflictions of his rod very tenderly; but pouring forth the bounties of his mercy as if He could not think of measuring them by any rule less than the impulses of infinite love!
Wordsworth. [This learned man spiritualizes the entire passage, but is not quoted here, because, as Hengstenberg says, “While the outward conflict was undoubtedly the prelude of a still grander conflict between Israel and Greece, to be fought with spiritual weapons, it is opposed to all the principles of sound interpretation to refer the words immediately to the latter.”]
Jay: Ver.16. Here we see the dignity of the Lord’s people. They are “stones,” precious stones, set in the “crown” of the King of kings. Here is also their exhibition; these stones of a crown are “lifted up.” They are not to be concealed. Here is also their utility; these stones are to be lifted up “as an ensign upon the land.” An oriflamme suspended over the royal tent; designed to attract followers to the cause in which he is engaged.
Zechariah 9:11; Zechariah 9:11. —בְדַם׳ being in thy covenant-blood=being sprinkled with it. The covenant of Jehovah with his people was sealed with sprinkled blood. Exodus 24:8. The compound term covenant-blood best represents the form and force of the original phrase.
Zechariah 9:11; Zechariah 9:11.—שִׁלַּחְתִי is the common prophetic preterite.
Zechariah 9:12; Zechariah 9:12.— בִצָּרוֹן, a cut off place, h. inaccessible, fortified, ὀχύρωμα (LXX.), munitio (Vulg.).
Zechariah 9:12; Zechariah 9:12. —מִשְׁנֶה. Pressel seems to be alone in giving to this word the sense, the second place. The rendering of the E. V. is sustained both by usage and the connection.
Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 9:13. —The E. V. needlessly continues here the sentence of the previous verse, and renders כִי when. A literal rendering is at once more forcible and more accurate.
Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 9:13. —קֶשֶׁת. Some connect this with what precedes, but nothing is gained by departing from the Masoretic interpunction.
Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 9:15. —יָגֵן= covers protectingly. Cf. Zechariah 12:8.
Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 9:15. —“With sling-stones,” in the text of E. V., introduces a needless preposition. The marginal rendering is to be preferred.
Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 9:15.— כְמוֹ־יַיִן is an abbreviated comparison. Cf. Zechariah 10:7.
Zechariah 9:15; Zechariah 9:15.—“Sacrificial bowl.” The qualifying epithet must be introduced in order to give the full force of מִזְרק. Cf. Zechariah 14:20.
Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 9:16.—The E. V. “flock of his people,” is grammatically impossible.
Zechariah 9:17; Zechariah 9:17. —יִנוֹבב The first marginal rendering of the B. V., make grow, is better than its text, make cheerful. The word is derived from the sprouting of plants, and evidently refers to a prolific increase. Fürst gives to make eloquent, which is conjectural and inept.
“The beauty of the Lord,” In Psalms 90:17, represents a different word (נֹעם), which, however, is best explained thus: May the loveliness of Jehovah—all that renders Him an object of affection and desire—be made known to us in our experience. Cf. Psalms 27:4.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Zechariah 9". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/
the First Week of Advent