Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, June 16th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 4

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



By the golden candlestick is foreshowed the good success of Zerubbabel’s foundation, Zechariah 4:1-10; by the two olive trees the two anointed ones, Zechariah 4:11-14.

Verse 1

The angel that talked with me; Christ, who for some time had left Zechariah, and bestowed some time on new dressing, and cleansing, and adorning Joshua, the high priest.

Came again: this is the fourth time of Christ’s revealing his mind to this prophet by vision.

Waked me; either roused him out of a drowsy fit and bodily sleep, or out of an ecstasy, or wonder, that surprising him, he was as if asleep; or shaked him out of a sluggish negligence, or an observance of these things.

Verse 2

What seest thou? what dost thou discern, of that thou didst before, half asleep half awake, see, but didst not observe?

I have looked; since awakened and roused, I have very diligently viewed and observed, and I see.

A candlestick: by God’s appointment there was a candlestick to be made, as an utensil and ornament of the temple, Exodus 25:31.

All of gold; so was the candlestick to be for the temple, all of pure gold, Exodus 37:17.

A bowl, or basin, or round and large oil cruet, capable of so much oil as would suffice to feed all the lamps in the candlestick.

Upon the top of it; on the highest part of the candlestick, on the top of the candlestick on the top of the shaft, or on the head of the candlestick.

Seven lamps; either so many, because the temple candlestick had just so many, or because of some perfection supposed to be in this septenary number.

Seven pipes; one pipe to each lamp, the mouth of which pipe joined to the bowl or basin, and received oil from it; the other end of the pipe fastened to the lamp conveyed oil into the lamp.

To the seven lamps; so each of the seven lamps had a pipe reaching from it to the bowl or basin.

On the top thereof: these lamps were so set as to stand somewhat higher than the body of the candlestick.

Verse 3

Two olive trees; some say branches; better trees, which, well rooted, will continue, and perpetually supply the bowls, and that will supply the lamps.

One; not more, or fewer than two.

Upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof; so placed that the candlestick stood between them, and each tree stood at distance from the candlestick, on the right and left hand thereof, that they might distil their oil into the bason or bowl: all which is an emblem of the church, both what it is made of, pure gold; what made for, to be light in the world; to shine as lamps that continually burn, maintained with pure oil, distilled from the olive trees, not pressed out by man, but continually, freely, and abundantly dropping or flowing from these olive trees.

Verse 4

So, after that I had seen and discerned,

I answered: see Zechariah 3:4.

Spake to the angel that talked with me: see Zechariah 1:19; Zechariah 2:3.

What are these? see Zechariah 1:9.

Verse 5

Then; when the prophet had inquired into the meaning of these emblems.

The angel that talked with me: see Zechariah 1:19.

Knowest thou not? it is not a question either to upbraid the prophet as an ignoramus, Christ doth not reproach his for not knowing deep and dark mysteries at first sight of them; nor is it the question of one that was uncertain about the thing inquired into, Christ knew the prophet’s ignorance though he ask the question; but it is to excite him to attend and learn.

And I said, No; Zechariah freely confesseth he knew not, he pretends not to know what indeed he did not know.

My lord: he owns the greatness and sovereignty of Christ.

Verse 6

Then; so soon as Zechariah had owned his nescience.

He; Christ.

This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel; or, This word of the Lord is to Zerubbabel, it is particularly designed to him, and in an emblem prefigureth what a church, how precious as gold, how full of light; how framed, how maintained it should be by God himself. This hieroglyphic is a representation of what the church should be.

Zerubbabel; the governor, on whose hand much of the care and trouble of building the temple did lie; yet let him not be discouraged, for this work lieth on God.

Not by might; or, by an army, as the word bears, Hebrew; you may think you shall need all army to defend you in carrying on this building, which ill-will of neighbours about you hindereth, but I tell you there is no need of an army.

Nor by power; courage and valour, all which make, arms considerable; no need of this neither. Or might and power here may be of the same import, and added only for elegancy and assurance of the thing.

But by my spirit; which garnished the heavens and can beautify the church; which moved upon the darkness in the creation, and brought forth a beautiful and mighty structure, and can do as much now. By spirit we may understand either the Third Person of the Trinity engaged in building the church, with the Father and the Son; or by spirit you may understand the power of God. Either is encouragement enough, and secureth the future effect, and promiseth a future state of the church, pure and precious as gold, full of knowledge in the doctrines of God, as this candlestick with seven lamps, full of holiness from abundant measures of grace; persevering in it by continued supplies from the Spirit of grace in ordinances, &c.

Verse 7

Who art thou, O great mountain? the angel having resolved the question about building the temple, either himself doth deride all the power of opposers, or the prophet doth triumph over it, Who art thou? Sanballat and confederates, or Satan, or Babylon, or all put together, what are you all, compared with the power of God, the Lord of hosts, who by his Spirit will finish this work?

Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: thou standest in the way of my servant, and thinkest his weakness and poverty cannot remove thee; but if he cannot surmount thy height, I will bring it down and make thee as a plain, and my servant shall as easily go on with my work as a traveller goeth over a way plained before him.

And he, Zerubbabel, as the servant of Christ, shall bring forth the head-stone; shall, as is usual, assist at the laying of the last finishing stone, as well as he saw and assisted when the first foundation stone was laid.

Thereof; of the second temple.

With shoutings; with loud acclamations, the signs of great joy and satisfaction in the thing done.

Crying, Grace, grace unto it; praying, and wishing all prosperity, and a long continuance of it, to the temple, and those that are to worship God in it; as grace and favour of God began, and finished, so may the same grace ever dwell in it, and replenish it.

Verse 8

Either at another time, or else at the same time, was added what now Zechariah declares.

Verse 9

The hands; perhaps (as is customary) he did lay the first stone with his own hands; or rather, his direction, and command, and under his conduct.

Have laid the foundation, in the second year of Cyrus, perhaps forty years ago, likelier seventeen, but be those years more or less,

he shall finish it: thus the prophet expressly promiseth from the Lord, both continuance of Zerubbabel’s life, care, and power, as also his success in this work, to encourage both him and the Jews.

And thou, whoever thou art that dost hear me, both Zerubbabel and all among the Jews, shalt know, shall be fully assured, and certainly know,

that the Lord of hosts, God of truth and mercy, our God from our fathers, who remembers his covenant, hath sent me, commanded me to preach these things, unto you, returned captives and poor builders of this stately and magnificent house.

Verse 10

And now for those that despised small beginnings; who they are is well known, and to them I say, and promise what they expected not.

Despised the day of small things; of which Haggai 2:3.

For, or

but, notwithstanding they so much undervalued the meanness of the second temple, yet when finished they shall, with many others, rejoice in it.

The plummet; the perpendicular with which Zerubbabel shall try the finished work, or the work near finishing.

With those seven; in subordination to and co-working with the Divine Providence, expressed emblematically by the seven eyes, which were on that stone, of which Zechariah 3:9. Though Zerubbabel were prudent in managing all the affairs of the Jews, Jerusalem, and the temple, yet not his prudence, but the infinite wisdom of God, gave success; and when the success appears in the finishing of the temple, then shall it be acknowledged an admirable work of the Divine wisdom, and the Jews shall confess that

the eyes of the Lord, which run to and fro through the whole earth, have been upon them in this work for good, and that God hath showed himself on their behalf.

Verse 11

In this verse the prophet proposeth a question to which no answer is given, but he doth immediately proceed to ask one more question, though somewhat, yet not much, different from the former, and in the answer of this latter question the prophet acquiesceth. The explication of this verse you have Zechariah 4:3.

Verse 12

I answered; I went on to discourse, which is the signification of the Hebrew phrase here used.

Again, Heb. a second time. Said unto him, the angel that talked with the prophet.

What be these two olive branches? two principal branches, one in each tree, fuller of berries, higher than the rest, and hanging over the golden pipes.

Which through the two golden pipes: these were fastened to the golden bowl, on each side one, with a hole through the sides of the bowl, to let the oil that distilled into them from those olive branches run into the bowl, and out of that bowl it was, through so many golden pipes, conveyed into the seven lamps.

Empty; freely, without any violence offered, drop the oil out of themselves, yet so that still they are full of oil for perpetual supply to the lamps.

Golden oil, because of its preciousness, or from its colour.

Out of themselves: a supernatural work, and, emblem of supernatural grace: these branches, filled from the true olive tree, ever empty themselves, and are ever full; so are the gospel ordinances, filled by Christ, always filling his members, true Christians, and ever full for all believers.

Verse 13

See Zechariah 1:4.

Verse 14

Not Enoch and Elias, nor the two witnesses, nor Peter and Paul, nor the two churches of Jew and Gentile; nor principally Zerubbabel and Joshua, though perhaps the exposition may glance upon them, and the two orders, magistracy and ministry, in them; as these are types of Christ in his two offices. King and Priest, or Christ and the Comforter: in this I determine nothing.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zechariah 4". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/zechariah-4.html. 1685.
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