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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 1

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Zechariah exhorteth to repentance, Zechariah 1:1-6. His vision of the horses and their angelic riders, Zechariah 1:7-11. At the prayer of the angel comfortable promises are made to Jerusalem, Zechariah 1:12-17. The vision of the four horns, and the four carpenters, Zechariah 1:18-21.

Verse 1

In the eighth month; called both Marchesvan and Bul by the Hebrews, and answers to part of our October and November. Two months after Haggai began to encourage the Jews to build the temple.

Darius; son of Hystaspes, and the third Persian monarch: see Haggai 1:1; and again Zechariah 1:15, at large.

Came the word of the Lord: here is his warrant and Divine call, the Lord communicated to him what he was to communicate to, others.

Zechariah: his name bespeaks him a remembrancer of God, or it may speak God remembering him, and the rest of this people.

The son; the Jew called the descendants in right line sons, though they were grandsons, or great-grandsons; and in this sense some say Zechariah is the son of Baruch, and the son of Iddo. This Zechariah is not he that is mentioned 2 Chronicles 24:20, this is too early by many years; nor is this Zechariah the father of John Baptist, this is as much too late; but most likely it is that Zechariah whom the Jews slew between the temple and the altar, Matthew 23:35.

Berechiah: this name is expressly mentioned Matthew 23:0, and his time exactly suits the time pointed at by the evangelist.

Iddo: one of this name you have 2 Chronicles 9:29, but this is too old to be this in the text, for there will be found (as Wolphius in Ezram notes) four hundred and fifty years' distance between Iddo the seer and this Iddo mentioned in the text.

The prophet; whether Zechariah or Iddo I determine not.

Verse 2

The Lord, the holy, the mighty One, your God, the just Governor of the world, hath been sore displeased; so long provoked, that his displeasure at last enkindled within his breast, and broke out into that flame which hath consumed your land, city, and temple.

With your fathers; all that were progenitors, forefathers to the returned captives, from their entrance into Canaan, but especially since the apostacy in Jeroboam’s time; for many hundred years your predecessors have provoked God by their notorious sins, even to the days of their captivity.

Verse 3

Therefore, Heb.

And. Say; command and require.

Unto them of the captivity who are returned to their own land.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; in my name, by the authority I have over them as Lord of hosts, require they hear and obey.

Turn ye unto me; repent ye of all your sins, leave them, set your hearts on my law to obey it, on my worship to give me it, on my temple to re-edify it.

Saith the Lord of hosts; who can punish your refusal, who can protect you in your return, and reward your obedience.

I will turn unto you, with blessings, with all blessings, which my presence brings to a repenting people. It was woe with you, and your fathers, when I departed from them, but it shall be as well with them when I return unto them.

Saith the Lord of hosts; that you may be assured hereof, I promise it to you, and will be engaged to perform, as Lord of hosts, as having all things at my disposal.

Verse 4

Be ye; you who have seen the sorrows of a long captivity, who are wonderfully brought back, who are under the teachings of rod and staff.

The former prophets; all the former prophets, 2 Chronicles 36:15,2 Chronicles 36:16.

Cried; preached earnestly, frequently, and compassionately.

Turn ye now from your evil ways; now, to-day, yet before it is too late, O turn from vicious, sinful courses and ways; from your atheism, idolatry, murders, oppressions, and adulteries.

And from your evil doings: it is repeated that it might be more impressive upon them. The prophets importunately entreated them to cease from evil, Isaiah 1:16; Isaiah 31:6 Jeremiah 3:12; Ezekiel 18:30; Hosea 14:1.

They did not hear; they did not because they would not, they regarded not what I said by my prophets, neither could they be persuaded to it.

Nor hearken unto me: this obstinate disobedience is twice together charged on them, to make their sin appear in its greatness.

Verse 5

Your fathers, where are they? but where are your disobedient fathers? Are they not buried in a strange land? Did they not die of those diseases? Were they not consumed with famine and the sword, as was menaced against them?

And the prophets: some apply this to the false prophets who promised peace, but where are they now? But it is better understood of the true prophets, who died as others; they do not nor must live always to warn you.

Verse 6

But my words, the dreadful menaces which I spake by my prophets, and my statutes, the decreed judgments which my provoked justice resolved to execute on them, which I commanded my servants the prophets; which by my prophets as my heralds I proclaimed and published.

Did they not take hold of your fathers? overtake as a pursuing enemy overtakes and seizeth on his enemy and spoileth him; have not my judgments thus taken hold both on your fathers and on you?

They returned and said: by this it should seem that Zechariah gave them time to consider what answer to give.

So hath he dealt with us; it is true, as God said he would do, so he hath done against us, our fathers, our families, our cities and temples. God’s words have not failed, they died not, though our fathers did. This may be an abstract of their repentance.

Verse 7

Sebat, which answers to part of our January.

Darius. see Haggai 1:1,Haggai 1:15.

Came the word of the Lord, & c. see Zechariah 1:1. The first sermon Zechariah preached was three months before this, and that sermon was reproof, which probably had good effect, as Zechariah 1:6.

Verse 8

I saw: in a vision God communicates his word, mind, or will to the prophet.

By night; either literally, it was by night that Zechariah had this vision, or with this it may note the obscurity and mysteriousness of the vision, for it may be emblematical, as the myrtles and the bottom are.

Behold; mark well what I saw, as now I relate it to you.

A man; one in human shape, Christ Jesus in shape of a man so he appeared to Ezekiel, Ezekiel 1:26; Ezekiel 40:3, and to Daniel, Daniel 7:13.

Riding; in a posture of readiness, speed, and resolution to help his people, and to appear for them in some tokens of greatness and majesty, Psalms 45:4.

Upon a red horse: both the beast is noted, a horse, bold, strong, speedy, and gallant; and the colour is noted also; in the same colour he appeared to Isaiah, see Isaiah 63:1-3; Revelation 6:4. This colour is a symbol of his coming to avenge his own just quarrel, and the unjust dealings of his and his people’s enemies.

He stood among the myrtle trees; he posteth himself in a convenient place to observe and be ready, (as needful,) among humble, verdant, fragrant, pleasant, and much-valued trees, emblem of the flourishing, fruitful, and excellent saints and servants of God.

In the bottom: this bottom or low valley, in which the myrtles grew, (probably on some river’s bank,) is an emblem of the church in a low, mourning, afflicted state; then it is most verdant, and fragrant as these trees, or as spices bruised in a mortar.

Behind him; Christ was, as beseems a captain, in the head; the rest, as his soldiers or servants, are behind attending on him.

Red horses; horses of the same colour, not without their riders, though they are not expressed; but it is a synecdoche, horses and horsemen are both intended, and these are angels, Zechariah 1:10. Now the colour of these horses is,

1. Red, denoting probably the bloody condition of states and kingdoms by wars one against another, either when God punisheth his church, or when he avengeth himself and his church on his enemies and hers; which will appear on a survey of the times past, when Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Grecian, or Roman empires did successively by wars do God’s work, his strange work, &c.; Isaiah 10:0; Isaiah 14:0.

2. Speckled; a mixed colour, made up of white, red, and black, as some guess, an emblem of affairs of different complexion; not all prosperous, nor all unprosperous; not all dark, nor all light, as the day the prophet describes neither day nor night; such times did the Jews know, during the seventy prophetic weeks, from the beginning of them to the Messiah’s coming.

3. White; an emblem of the best days and state the church should be in, so Revelation 19:11,Revelation 19:14, and the empire too with it.

Verse 9

Then; so soon as he had seen and observed. Said I; Zechariah.

O my Lord: this was Christ the Lord of hosts.

What are these? what is the meaning of these appearances or visions?

The angel; Christ, the Angel of the covenant; so I take this Angel, that promiseth to inform the prophet, to be the same that appears, a man on the red horse among the myrtles.

Verse 10

The man that stood among the myrtle trees: see Zechariah 1:8.

Answered; gave answer to what I asked.

These; horsemen.

They whom the Lord hath sent; a periphrasis of angels, who are servants and ministers of the Divine Providence in the government of the world.

To walk to and fro through the earth: God is pleased after the manner of men to speak of his managing the affairs of the world; men must employ others, because they need them, God will employ angels, though he needs them not.

The earth; the empires which his churches were either helped or injured by: these were, partly by the pride of their emperors, partly by the flattery of their servants and ministers, and partly by the ignorance of the world at that time in matters of geography, thought to be the whole earth; and the Scripture sometimes useth phrases used and well known among men, though there be some impropriety in them.

Verse 11

They; the ministerial angels, signified by the horses and horsemen.

Answered the angel of the Lord; or rather, the Angel the Lord, the uncreated Angel, who sent them out, and receives account what they had done.

We have walked to and fro; as men who would give an exact account, survey every part, so we have searched all nations and kingdoms, walked the length and breadth of them.

Through the earth; the world, but chiefly through the Babylonish empire, which accounts itself lord of all the earth.

Behold; it is wonderful to be seen, and therefore we beseech time, O Lord, to behold and consider this.

All the earth sitteth still; as having ended their toil, or weathered the storm, composed their differences, and sheathed their swords; are full of peace, and sit still to take their ease.

And is at rest; either the same thing repeated, to heighten the quiet of these states, or to confirm the truth of the thing, or to express the inward quiet of mind the people had with their outward quiet. The public peaceable, and every one’s mind satisfied, this is the state of the earth, the empire which at that time ruled all.

Verse 12

Then, when the surveying angels had made their report of the prosperity of the heathen, the angel of the Lord, the Angel, the Lord Christ, Mediator of the church, and Head of the church, answered and said; prays as one interceding.

O Lord of hosts: Christ speaks to his Father, speaks as one much affected with the state of his afflicted church.

How long wilt thou not have mercy? it is the expostulation that well befits a praying soul; it is not the inquiry of a discontented mind, but the request of one longing for mercy. So David, Psalms 13:1,Psalms 13:2; and the souls under the altar, Revelation 6:10.

On Jerusalem, thy chosen mountain, heir of promises to be re-edified; and on Judah’s cities too, of whose rebuilding, peace, and prosperity thou hast, O Lord, spoken great things, Jeremiah 30:0; Jeremiah 31:0; Jeremiah 32:0; Jeremiah 33:0, and Ezekiel 36:0; Ezekiel 37:0, &c.

Thou hast had indignation; they have felt thine anger and hot displeasure, it was just, and is so still; but it is not to be perpetual. Thine anger hath smoked against the sheep of thy pasture.

These threescore and ten years; the term prefixed for the captivity is fully come, it is the seventieth year of their miserable captivity; now show mercy, build Zion, and glorify thyself in doing it, for the set time is come. It is now seventy years since thy temple was burnt, and Jerusalem sacked; and full eighty years since Jeconiah with many of thy people were carried captive into Babylon, and somewhat more since many were carried with Jehoiakim, from which to the second of Darius are much about eighty-eight or nine years.

Verse 13

The Lord, God the Father, answered the angel; Christ, the uncreated Angel, Lord of angels and Redeemer of Israel.

That talked with me; who had first talked by signs and visions, and next by explaining the mind and meaning of them, and answering the inquiries Zechariah made.

Good words; suitable and seasonable.

Comfortable words: the words ministered comfort to Jerusalem and the captives, the words imported deliverance and blessings.

Verse 14

So, i.e. when the Father had heard the Son and answered him; this is spoken to our apprehension, and so must be understood.

The angel of the covenant, the Lord Christ. That communed with me: see Zechariah 1:13.

Cry thou; now publish what thou hearest, preach by commission from me, and assure my poor captive, impoverished church, that God, my God and her God, will do good for her.

Saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; publish what God, Lord of hosts, and Father of his people, promised to do for them.

I am jealous; I have been jealous against, but now am jealous for Jerusalem; my love is now heightened to a very high degree of compassion for my people, and of indignation against her enemies and oppressors.

For Jerusalem; the city called by my name.

For Zion; where my temple stood; those gates of Zion, which I loved more than all the dwellings of Jacob.

With a great jealousy; that zeal I bear, and now will, show for them, is great to a wonder; it is the zeal of a God who infinitely loves and pitieth his people.

Verse 15

And I; the Lord of hosts, God of Israel,

am very sore displeased with the heathen; exceedingly angry, and will show it, that they may see and feel it, my displeasure is grown up to the highest against them.

At ease; secure in their strength, sing a requiem to themselves and trouble to Israel. See Zechariah 1:11.

I was but a little displeased with mine own people, i.e. in comparison with the anger I bear against the heathen it was little, Psalms 137:0

And they, the heathen, Babylonians, helped forward; attempted to destroy whom I would but correct, Isaiah 10:0; Isaiah 14:0. I whipped to smart, you wounded to blood; I did wound to bind up, you did wound to kill, &c. It is an anthropopatheia.

The affliction: it was more than they could do to provoke me here against them than their own sins did; but what I permitted for a while they did, and added to the affliction of Israel. I would prune, but they struck at the root.

Verse 16

Therefore; because the enemy hath so barbarously and inhumanly added affliction to the afflicted, it is time to save and relieve.

I am returned: when I was departed, and had withdrawn my presence, thus cruelly were my people handled; but now I will return, I will be with them, my presence shall restrain the violent and protect the innocent.

With mercies; with tender, abundant, and promised mercies now they shall be comforted indeed.

My house; the temple of God, the excellency of Jacob.

Shall be built in it; shall be finished, the impediments shall be removed, what glory I have promised by Haggai 2:9, I will put upon this house of mine in Jerusalem.

Saith the Lord of hosts: this confirms the promise, and establisheth our faith, if we know the import hereof.

A line, the builder’s measuring line, shall be stretched out, to mark out walls, gates, palaces, streets, and houses in Jerusalem, that they may be built again in beauty and strength, with skill and art; and shall be once more the glory of the earth, and joy of Israel.

Verse 17

Cry yet: the prophet’s commission is either enlarged, or more full instructions given to him, to raise the hope and stablish the faith of the people of God.

My cities: Jerusalem and the cities of Judah are mine, saith the Lord, and as mine I will build, beautify, enrich, fortify, defend, and enlarge them.

Through prosperity, through increase of families and persons, they shall send forth colonies, and plant new towns and cities; and through increase of wealth and cattle be able to build their cities, and stock their colonies.

Be spread abroad; swarm as bees, and send out their young ones.

The Lord, their God, shall yet comfort Zion, Zion his church, with comforts fit for a church.

Choose Jerusalem; type of the civil state as here joined with Zion; the kingdom shall be blest in itself, and be a blessing to others, much like that Hosea 14:5; all this an effect of my choosing it, and dwelling in it.

Verse 18

Then; after I had seen those things, and heard those comfortable words, and received commission to publish all the good news I had heard.

I lifted up mine eyes: he was so intent before, that he looked on nothing else; now he lifts up his eyes.

Saw; clearly, certainly, and distinctly.

Behold four horns; emblems of the enemies of the Jews, for strength, fierceness, and pride, and for their number, from all parts of the world.

Verse 19

The prophet prays for information from the Angel, from Christ, who is the best Teacher.

What be these? what may be the meaning of these horns, which I see, and know to be horns, and four in number?

These are the horns, powers, states, and kingdoms, which have from all sides pushed at, broken, and tossed my people, sorely bruised some and destroyed others: these horns are probably, on the north, the Syrians, Assyrians, and Babylonians; on the east, the Moabites and Ammonites; on the south, Edomites and Egyptians; on the west, the Philistines; all which had many a time spoiled the Jews.

Judah; the two tribes, which were the kingdom of Judah.

Israel; the ten tribes, carried away by Shalmaneser; or the relics of Israel, which adhered to the house of David.

Verse 20

The Lord; Jehovah, who before is the Angel, i.e. Christ, he is the eternal One, the great God.

Showed me; both proposed the thing to be seen, and gave eyes to see and discern it.

Four carpenters; known by their garb and tools to be carpenters, or smiths, as the Hebrew bears it.

Verse 21

Then, so soon as I could propose the question, immediately upon sight of the carpenters,

said I, Zechariah,

What come these to do? he saw they were men, inquires not who they were, but what was their business and design; perhaps it is fittest for us to rest also in the knowledge of what they are to do, and inquire no further who they were.

And he spake; the Lord Christ informed the prophet.

These are the horns which have scattered Judah: Christ doth in order to satisfy the inquiry first point to the four horns, of which Zechariah 1:18,Zechariah 1:19, as if he should have said, Look you, there are four horns which have done mischief to Judah.

So that no man did lift up his head; kept them so under, none had either strength or courage to lift up the head, and thus these horns proudly and cruelly destroyed my people.

But these, these carpenters, or smiths, are emblems of those instruments God will employ in breaking these destroyers. Here are four carpenters to break the four horns.

To fray them; to strike a fear into them first; these kingdoms, signified by horns, shall lose their courage.

To cast out the horns; then their authority and power shall be cast out easily.

The Gentiles; heathen round about Judea.

Which lifted up their horn over, have employed their arms and strength against,

the land of Judah, the whole kingdom of Judah, God’s people,

to scatter it, to drive them out of God’s inheritance, See Zechariah 1:19.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zechariah 1". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/zechariah-1.html. 1685.
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