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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 12

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



Jerusalem a cup of trembling, and a burdensome stone, to the confusion of her adversaries, Zechariah 12:1-5. The victorious restoring of Judah, Zechariah 12:6-9. The repentance of Jerusalem, Zechariah 12:10-14.

Verse 1

The burden of the word of the Lord: see this whole passage Zechariah 9:1.

For Israel; or touching, concerning, as the Gallic version; upon, against, the Hebrew bears it; and some take it in one, some in the other sense, though I think the main of the chapter persuades it is to be rendered, for, in the behalf of Israel, i.e. the church of Christ among the Jews until their rejection, and among the Gentiles ever since their vocation; both have their concern in the things here foretold.

Saith the Lord; who giveth out promises of great things to a people in a very low state, and therefore to raise their hope tells them by his prophet what he hath done.

Which stretcheth forth the heavens, as a curtain, saith Isaiah, Isaiah 40:22; who did more easily spread abroad the heavens, than any creature can spread forth a curtain about your bed, or a canopy over your head; by an almighty power going along with the act of his will, saying, Let it be, all that immense body of the material, visible heavens immediately spread forth itself.

And layeth the foundation of the earth, upon his own almighty word; on that the chief corner-stones thereof do lie, Job 38:4-6; Isaiah 51:13.

Formeth; in admirable wisdom, and with more especial artifice, framed, so the Hebrew imports, as Isaiah 43:7; Isaiah 46:11.

The spirit; the immortal soul, that spiritual being which animateth us. Who hath done all this he can do all that is here promised for Israel, and threatened against Israel’s enemies.

Verse 2

I will make Jerusalem; that weak, unwalled, poor, and thinly inhabited city, type of the church; and much more the church, which is antitype to Jerusalem.

A cup of trembling; they shall drink their own bane whose swords be drinking the blood of the inhabitants of this Jerusalem; there is poison mixed in the cup of the wrath of God, which he will put into the hands of such wicked ones, and they must drink it off.

Unto all the people round about; to the heathen round about, to all of them; all have more or less at one time or other molested Jerusalem, and God remembers it, and hath provided for them a cup of astonishment against the day in which they besiege her, thinking then to finish all their attempts against Jerusalem.

When they shall be in the siege: strange siege laid against a whole country, and mighty powers will be little enough to do this, it requires a most extraordinary provision; now when all this is in readiness and no visible means of escape, then will God make them drink the wine of astonishment and cast them into a dead sleep.

Against Judah; the land of Judah.

Against Jerusalem; typical and mystical, the church of Christ.

Verse 3

In that day; in the times of the heathens afflicting the church, from the repair of Jerusalem till Christ’s coming in the flesh, and in succeeding times since; but the day of the full accomplishment of this prophecy is a day known to the Lord. A burdensome stone; too heavy for them, though many join together to remove it.

For all people; though all people of this known world should burden themselves with her. Shall be cut in pieces: they would be crushed to pieces, as a man that falls under a weighty and massy stone.

Though all the people of the earth be gathered together against it: many nations have been confederate, now if you would suppose all through the whole world in league against Jerusalem, yet they could not stand under the weight of his displeasure, who is provoked by such attempts, he would grind them to powder.

Verse 4

In that day: see Zechariah 4:3.

I will smite every horse: horses are of very great use in wars; they were the main strength of Antiochus Epiphanes, his best preparations. With astonishment; a dull, sottish fear and perplexity.

And his rider with madness; an impotency of mind both in the understanding, which is folly and imprudence, and in the will and resolution, which is either cowardice or unconstancy, like madmen that neither know how to resolve or act. God will turn all their counsel into foolishness, their strength into weakness, their courage into fear, and so overturn them all.

I will open mine eyes upon the house of Judah; a while I seemed as one that slept or winked at the proceedings of my church’s enemies, yet now I will open mine eyes, and see all that is going forward against them, and I will watch over my people for good; against their enemies, to confound and destroy them and their enterprises: this eye of God open upon his people is his wise, powerful, gracious providence for them, Psalms 31:22; Jeremiah 24:6.

I will smite every horse of the people with blindness; all their warriors in their projecting and consults shall be as full of improvidence, and have as little foresight, as a stark blind man hath of sight to see by.

Verse 5

The governors of Judah, the counsellors and rulers at home, and the leaders and captains abroad, the Maccabees and others, every one for himself,

shall say in their heart; shall think, believe, and reckon upon it, and be hearty in it.

The inhabitants of Jerusalem, though but few and poor, yet they shall be my strength: and these shall be ready and forward to go forth against their enemies, with a handful of men to encounter mighty and numerous armies, because their strength and help lieth in the name of the Lord of hosts; not in their own power, but in the power of the almighty sovereign Lord of all, who can save by few as by many. And because

their God he will give them victory.

Verse 6

The governors: see Zechariah 12:5.

Like a hearth of fire; a hearth on which fire is thoroughly kindled.

Among the wood; the more is laid on, the more is consumed and burnt up: so the enemies of Judah and Jerusalem shall be, their multitudes shall no more save themselves than much wood cast on a great fire in the hearth can preserve itself.

Like a torch of fire in a sheaf; which immediately sets the whole sheaf on fire, and it is consumed.

They shall devour, & c.; the governors of Judah with their handful of men shall thus surely and speedily consume their enemies which set upon them.

Jerusalem shall be inhabited again; as indeed it was, and continued so till Christ’s death, and forty years after; for of these times doth the prophet speak, and not of times still to come.

In her own place; not built as Nineveh, Tyre, Babylon, or Rome, in some place near to the old cities of that name, but in the very same place where old Jerusalem did, shall re-edified Jerusalem again stand.

Even in Jerusalem; so you shall find Jerusalem in Jerusalem; or thus, spiritual Jerusalem shall be that Jerusalem in which you ought to look, and where you shall find the old typical Jerusalem, which though it lie waste, and I fear must never be built, yet is in more ample manner built up in the church, spiritual Jerusalem.

Verse 7

Shall save; rescue from the power and rage of the Antiochuses, nay, subdue their armies, and put them to flight before the Jews.

The tents; the unfenced places, the open country, the shepherd-like cottages or tents of Judah.

Of Judah first; before he saveth Jerusalem, before he put Jerusalem into arms, or bring her inhabitants into the field, to fight, and help the country and its inhabitants; first the weaker are saved, next the stronger.

That the glory of the house of David, that the illustrious house of David, and so the glorious citizens of Jerusalem,

do not magnify themselves against Judah; boast of their power, policy, courage, and forwardness, and how much Judah owed to these for their deliverance: this would exasperate Judah, and provoke God, who would do all this: so that all might magnify their God, none think greatly of themselves.

Verse 8

In that day: see Zechariah 12:3.

Shall the Lord defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem: as he had defended and saved Judah, anti the tents thereof, so will he also defend Jerusalem and its inhabitants against all their enemies, during the Persian, Grecian, and beginnings of the Roman empire, during which days many wars were raised against the Jews; but most visible was this, when the Maccabees succeeded so far, as to restore religion, and cleanse the temple.

He that is feeble, reeleth through weakness,

shall be as David: a mighty man of valour was David; so these, through faith, of weak became strong, as Hebrews 11:34.

The house of David shall be as God; those of the royal line shall be, for prudence and prowess in the conduct of the armies of Israel, most excellent, expressed here in a hyperbole.

As God; or, as angels, so Elohim is translated Psalms 8:3; and so I find the French reads it, cornme des anges. Nay, like the Angel of the Lord, which is head of principalities; like Christ, who is Captain of our salvation. In these exploits and in this deliverance of the church they were types, and so must have somewhat in them which may be sufficient to resemble them to him.

Before them: these excellent ones of the royal line were to be leaders and commanders in these wars, and in their conduct they should show prudence and valour like that of an angel, rather than that of an ordinary man.

Verse 9

And it shall come to pass; this also shall certainly come to pass.

That I; God, the Defender and Saviour of Israel.

Will seek: this speaks not any difficulty to God in the work, as with men, who sometimes do seek to do what they cannot do; but this implieth God would thoroughly do it, his right hand should find out these his enemies, he will hunt them ont.

To destroy; not to restrain, but to overthrow and destroy.

All nations; without partiality, every nation that sets itself to oppress and destroy Jerusalem; God, viii pay them in their own coin: they said, Blot out her name; but God will blot out theirs. Let us, say they, cut them off from being a nation; but this God will turn upon their own heads.

That come against; combine, and attempt to destroy her; and this was evidently seen upon those that sought to destroy Jerusalem and the second temple before Christ’s incarnation; for by the Romans God destroyed the Antiochian power which had often mischiefed the Jews, and destroyed the other kingdoms which had been enemies to the Jews, who were never in danger of being cut off from being a nation, till their horrid murdering of the Lord of life.

Jerusalem; literally and historically the city which the captives returned from Babylon did build; but mystically the catholic church, which God will never suffer to be destroyed, he will rather destroy all nations than suffer them to destroy his church.

Verse 10

And I; God the Father, so Acts 2:17,Acts 2:18; Isaiah 44:3.

Will pour, in plentiful measures, as a plentiful rain is poured forth on a thirsty ground: this was fulfilled on Christ’s exaltation, when he received gifts for men, and, being glorified, gave the Spirit, sent the Comforter to his disciples and believers; this is daily performed to the children of God, and will be continually performed till we all are made perfect, and are brought to be with Christ for ever.

Upon the house of David; on some of that royal family; or, typically considered, it is the whole family of Christ, his house, who was the seed of David, and who is called David their king, Ezekiel 37:24; Hosea 3:5. Upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem; literally understood it was fulfilled extraordinarily, Acts 2:4,Acts 2:5; and, no doubt, in the ordinary manner to many of whom no mention is made: mystically, the inhabitants of Jerusalem are all the members of Christ, all believers of all ages.

The Spirit of grace; which is the fountain of all graces in us, and which makes us lovely in the eye of our God; grace to purify us and to beautify us, that God may delight in us.

And of supplications, or prayer, which is an early, inseparable fruit of the Spirit of grace: by the Spirit we cry, Abba, Father, and are helped to perform this duty, Romans 8:26.

They, all those who have received this Spirit, shall look upon me, with an eye of faith, and turn to Christ, love, obey, and wait for him.

Whom they have pierced: every one of us by our sins pierced him, but many of the Jews nailed him to the cross, and actually murdered the Lord of life. This, as foretold, so was very punctually fulfilled, and recorded in the account of his death given by John, John 19:34,John 19:35,John 19:37; this hath then a particular respect to the Jews, though not confined to them.

They shall mourn for him; grieve, and heartily lament the crucifying the Lord Jesus Christ, not only as the sinful, cruel act of their fathers, but as that in which their sins had a great share.

As one mourneth for his only son; with a very great and deep, with a long and continued sorrow, with an unfeigned and real sorrow, such as is the sorrow of a father in the death of an only son; they shall retain it inwardly, and express it outwardly, as in the funeral mournings on such occasions.

Shall be in bitterness for him: this speaks the inwardest affection of the mourner; there may be tears in some cases without grief or bitterness in the spirit, but here both are joined; true repentance will bitterly lament the sins which brought sorrows and shame upon our Lord.

As one that is in bitterness for his first-born: this bitterness is compared to the grief of one who loseth his first-born, to confirm and illustrate what he had just before spoken of Christians mourning for Christ.

Verse 11

In that day, when the Jews shall know, own, and mourn for their sins and for that great sin in crucifying the Lord of glory, shall there be a great mourning; a very great mourning, which is expressed by the greatest the Jews ever were acquainted with. and which for its greatness grew up into a proverb:

The mourning of Hadadrimmon, or the mourning for Josiah slain at Hadadrimmon, a town in the valley of Megiddon. Of this mourning see 2 Chronicles 35:24,2 Chronicles 35:25.

Verse 12

The land; land put for the inhabitants of it, the land in general for the land of Judea, or that where the Jews dwelt, who should every where bear a share in this mourning. Thus some of the Jews from every country where they dwelt, being met at Jerusalem, were pricked at heart, and did mourn over the crucified Messiah, Acts 2:5,Acts 2:37,Acts 2:41.

Every family apart; or family by family, expressed in Hebrew, families, families. The royal family in both branches of it, Solomon’s and Nathan’s. This family, as having greatest portion in Christ, should have been most tender of him, who had been heir on the throne if his kingdom had been of this world, and by descent from David: but since they forgot him, neglected to do their duty to him alive, they remember him, and do their duty towards him, dead; they mourn really and truly.

Their wives apart: the manner of the Jews in mourning was by shutting up themselves, retiring from company and pleasure; here families retire, nay, in the family, wives retire to bewail their sin and their fathers’ sin in rejecting Christ. Some there were of this family who believed in Christ, and mourned, when the gospel was first published to the Jews before it was carried to the Gentiles.

Verse 13

The sacerdotal tribe were the most bitter and fierce persecutors of Christ, they hired the traitor, they sought witness; the high priest (head of that family) condemned him to die; for all which they shall one day reckon with God, and therefore above other tribes they are particularly named as chief mourners for their injustice and cruelty to Christ. Here is one particular branch of Levi’s family mentioned, the family of Shimei, of whom 1 Chronicles 6:17; 1 Chronicles 23:10. These two families had been deeply guilty; now they do as eminently concern themselves to mourn for him, to lament the sin, deprecate the fierce wrath of God, and submit to his kingdom, which their fathers did not, would not do. In this family, where most were bitter, bloody enemies to Christ, some had other thoughts of him, and mourned for him.

Verse 14

It would be somewhat tedious to repeat every family and their wives once, therefore a general comprehensive account may serve; some of every family of the whole remnant of Israel mourn, believe, look to, and obey Christ the Messiah. So the mourning for Christ bears Some proportion to their violent dealing against Christ, and they through faith live by the blood they did spill, and get to glory by him whom they loaded with reproaches. What will not grace do, when it converteth, accepteth, comforteth, glorifieth such offenders!

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zechariah 12". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/zechariah-12.html. 1685.
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