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ZECHARIAH CHAPTER 8
The restoration of Jerusalem, Zechariah 8:1-8. The people are encouraged to build the temple by a promise of God’s blessing, Zechariah 8:9-15. Truth and justice required of them, Zechariah 8:16,Zechariah 8:17. Joy and enlargement of the church promised, Zechariah 8:18-23.
Again, or And, Heb.; as the word of reproof in the former chapter, so the word of consolation in this chapter, was from God.
The Lord of hosts: hereby God assureth the Jews that what he promiseth he can perform, and therefore in this chapter, where so many things, so great, are promised, this name is very many times repeated, viz. eighteen.
I was; I have been in time past, in days of old before the captivity, and I have been so since the captivity for some years past.
Jealous for Zion: properly it is the passion of a lover or husband, mixed of love, care, and anger in their highest degrees for the beloved, and against all that is hurtful to it; so God had greatly loved Zion, had been careful of her honour and welfare, and displeased with her sins, which first hurt her, and then with the Chaldeans, which violated her.
With great jealousy; with great care that she should not, as formerly, sin against my love and her own welfare, and with a great love to do her good now, and to rescue her from her enemies.
I was jealous for her; on her behalf, and not as formerly against her, I am jealous in favour to her, as the Hebrew phrase importeth.
With great fury; with heat of anger against her enemies, as Zechariah 1:14,Zechariah 1:15, See Poole "Zechariah 1:14", See Poole "Zechariah 1:15".
I am returned; I did in anger depart from sinful, and incorrigible, and unhumbled Israel, and sent them into a long captivity, and a far distance from my house; but now I am pacified, they punished, and I will be no longer absent from them; I am returned, not by change of place, but by change of my dealings with them.
Unto Zion; literally, to my place of ancient residence, where the temple and city of David stood; spiritually, to the church, wheresoever it was humbled in distresses.
And will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; once more, as of old, I will fix my residence and afford my presence there, as 1 Kings 6:13; Psalms 68:16, according to promise repeated to my people. Jerusalem shall be my dwelling-place.
Jerusalem shall be called, it shall be, for I will make it, a city of truth; her citizens shall love the truth and speak it, shall worship me in truth of heart as well as in the true manner prescribed to them, and they shall inherit the truth of my promises too: much like to this is that of Ezekiel 37:23-28.
And the mountain of the Lord of hosts the holy mountain; either Jerusalem shall be called
the mountain of the Lord of hosts; or Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, shall be called, and be, the holy mountain, for that the temple is rebuilt there, and the holy worship of God restored there; impure idols, which were worshipped there by your impure fathers, and thereby was the mountain defiled, shall now be cast out, and none but the holy God worshipped in his holy temple.
Old men; very old men, and very old women: formerly war, or famine, or pestilence and wasting disease, or wild beasts, did cut off men and women before they grew to old age; but now it shall be otherwise, I will bless with health and long life in a peaceful state.
Old women; though naturally the weaker, though by child-bearing further weakened, yet there shall be many of these very old; or possibly it may intimate a very long life with their beloved mates, and so old men will be ancient husbands, old women their ancient wives. However, this old age shall be a crown of honour to this city.
Every man, every one, as the Hebrew will bear it,
with his staff in his hand for very age; through multitude of days; it shall not be from weakness and diseases that they lean upon their staff, but very age shall bring them to it.
The streets; every street.
Shall be full of boys and girls; have many young ones healthful, strong, brisk, and lively, the present joy and future hope of all; so will I fulfil the promise of multiplying your children.
Playing in the streets: Jerusalem shall be in that peace, health, and plenty, that parents shall neither fear danger to their children abroad, nor need their labour at home. So shall that Psalms 128:0 be fulfilled to them.
If it be marvellous: these things promised may perhaps seem very strange and difficult, if not impossible.
In the eyes; in the judgment and opinion, or rather, to the unbelief of this people.
The remnant of this people: few in number, exceedingly poor, and perpetually surrounded with dangers.
In these days; which are days of small things.
Should it also be marvellous, impossible, or so much as difficult, to me?
Saith the Lord of hosts: the Almighty God will do this.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: here again God engageth his almighty power to make good his promise.
Behold; consider well what power is to do this.
I will save my people, bring them safe,
from the east country; Persia and Media, which lay east from Jerusalem, and, being now masters of Babylon and the captive Jews, they are said to be brought out of the east, though otherwhiles they are brought out of the north; both very consistent.
And from the west country: no doubt some of the Jews were carried westward; the trade of selling men was known in those days, and Tyre is noted and threatened for it by Ezekiel, Ezekiel 27:13, beside other sea-towns west of Canaan, which would be ready to buy captive Jews, and convey them westward. But if this promise should look to the Roman empire, and secure the Jews a return from that captivity, it is plain how their empire lay west from the Jews. Or perhaps it is a synecdoche, these two parts of the world mentioned, but all parts intended, as Psalms 1:1; Psalms 113:3; Malachi 1:11.
I will bring them; though many things interpose to hinder, none shall keep them from returning; I will lead the way, I will guard them in it, I will supply their necessities, I will give strength to the weak and cheer up the dejected, I will gather and carry too.
They shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; settle their habitation in Jerusalem. They shall be my people; a peculiar people to obey and honour me; it contains very much, Jeremiah 30:22; Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:37,Jeremiah 32:38; Ezekiel 11:20.
I will be their God; I will own them, perform all my promises to them.
In truth and in righteousness, both on God’s part and on their part; on God’s in truth, on theirs in righteousness, in obedience to God’s righteous law.
Let your hands be strong; be of good courage, and hearten on each other to the expectation of God’s promise, and the doing your duty.
Ye, you returned captives, that hear: this is an argument to revive their courage, they hear God by his word very fairly proposing great things.
In these days; in these days of Darius Hystaspes, some twelve, or fifteen, or perhaps eighteen years since the time I point at. In these days of hope from Darius favourably helping, but most from God assisting and blessing.
These words, promises, exhortations, and counsels, by the mouth of the prophets, Haggai and Zechariah.
In the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid; in the second year of Cyrus, which if reckoned from his succeeding of his father Cambyses in the Persian crown, and his father-in-law Cyaxares in the crown of Media, which happened near about A.M. 3167, unto the second of Darius Hystaspes, A.M. 3485, that is eighteen years ago, will make it likely that Haggai and Zechariah are intended there: but to lay it so that this re-edifying of the temple be in the second of Darius Nothus, is to make these two prophets either to be silent one hundred and twelve years together, or to preach with little success and less complaint, for I do not remember that either of them chargeth this people with this particular fault.
That the temple might be built, according to God’s command and your duty.
For before these days, for eighteen years together, there was no hire; reward or recompence, no profit by the labour of man or beast, sowing or planting: see Haggai 1:6-11; Haggai 2:15-17; Malachi 3:10,Malachi 3:11. Or else, though the poor Jew laboured and received wages, it profiled him not, God blasted it.
Neither was there any peace; no safety, or content, and rest, at home or abroad; nothing prospered as might be hoped, in field or house; if they went out it was trouble to see all unprosperous there, if they came home it was not one whit better: perhaps it may intimate troubles by war, but I incline to interpret אֵין־שָׁלוֹם as I have done, with respect partly to the Hebrew, partly to the 12th verse.
Because of the affliction; distress, or straitness, and want, through such great barrenness as attended all their labour.
For I; God just and holy.
Set all men every one against his neighbour; let out or took off the restraints which kept men in some order; and when they were thus let out, they did discompose all, fell into seditions, and taking of parties, and breaking their own and others’ peace.
But now; since this people go about building the temple and restoring my worship with some cheerfulness.
I will not be unto the residue of this people: God changeth not, his not being what he was to this people is a change of his providence and his dealings with them. Our affairs will be to us as God is to us.
As in the former days: see Zechariah 8:10.
For the seed, which before brought nothing, or very little, forth, shall now prosper into a plentiful harvest, such as Malachi 3:10.
The vine shall give her fruit: this was very much the wealth and support of that people; this had been blasted, as Haggai 1:11, now it shall be blest, and bring forth her expected fruit.
The ground shall give her increase; summarily, the ground you plant shall abundantly bring forth her fruit to your satisfaction.
The heavens shall give their dew; the heavens, which before were as brass, and made your earth as iron, hard, barren, shall now drop down their rain, and make the earth fruitful. Much like that Psalms 72:3; Hosea 2:18.
I will cause, by my special, singular providence, and blessing on them.
To possess; to enjoy, have the things, and the comfort of them; whereas before, though they ate, they were not satisfied, had not enough, Haggai 1:6.
As ye were a curse; as threatened Deuteronomy 28:37; Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:18, all which came upon them in this seventy years’ captivity, and the miseries that preceded.
Among the heathen; nations who knew the misery which they heaped on the Jews, nations among whom they were scattered.
House of Judah; two tribes.
House of Israel; ten tribes, or rather some of them which escaped Shalmaneser’s hand, and adhered to Judah; or some that from the division of the tribes did keep close to the house of David, and the temple worship.
So will I save you; in such a manner will I save you. so wonderfully, so graciously.
Ye shall be a blessing; a form or model of blessing, as Zephaniah 3:19,Zephaniah 3:20.
Fear not, but let your hands be strong; be not discouraged, neither slack your hands, in the building of the temple, and restoring the worship of God, for God will be with you, and finish all by and for you.
As I thought, determined first, then declared my resolution, in my threats and many warnings given,
to punish you, Jews, the body of that nation; you, one with your fathers.
When your fathers provoked; highly, obstinately, and till there was no remedy, my wrath being kindled and continually increased by increase of your fathers’ sins and yours.
I repented not; I did not fail to do as I said I would, I neither changed my mind, for I am not a man, nor changed the course of my providence, but executed my threats.
So again; so with like steadiness of mind with an equal unchangeableness, I have purposed and promised to do well to you, O inhabitants of Jerusalem and house of Judah.
Fear ye not; for if in punishing, which I love not, I was constant, in blessing, which pleaseth me, I cannot but be constant.
These are the things that ye shall do; you to whom I am returned, whom I have promised to bless, you have something to do that the blessing may come upon you, and look you do it. Beside building the temple and restoring public worship in sacrifices, these things ye must do.
Speak ye every man the truth; be true of your word, and lie not one to another, as becomes such a people, Psalms 24:4; Proverbs 12:19; Hosea 4:1.
To his neighbour; to all men: it hath been the sin of your fathers, they have lived, deceived, and cheated, not strangers, but brothers and neighbours; but do not ye so; every one you deal with is your neighbour, do you speak truth to every such one.
Execute the judgment of truth: see Zechariah 7:9.
And peace; that may restore, settle, and promote peace among you, as righteous judgments will do.
In your gates; either referring to the places of judicature, where the judges sat; or more generally and comprehensively through the whole land, Exodus 20:10.
Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour: see Zechariah 7:10.
Love no false oath: see Zechariah 5:4; you that must not lie to a man, must not swear to a lie before God, Psalms 15:4; Ezekiel 17:18,Ezekiel 17:19.
For all these are things that I hate; so that I cannot be reconciled to them; so that I must not, will not let them go unpunished. If your will be blest as I promise, look you do as I prescribe. This is reason enough why you should not do them.
This 19th verse is a final decision of the proposed case, and the whole of this verse stands on a proviso or condition, that they do those things required, Zechariah 8:16,Zechariah 8:17; then shall their fasting cease, and turn into joy and feasts.
The fast of the fourth month; wherein the city was taken by the Babylonians, who on the ninth day of this month broke into the city, Jeremiah 52:6,Jeremiah 52:7.
Of the fifth; of which on the tenth day the temple was burnt.
Of the seventh; wherein Gedaliah was killed, Jeremiah 41:1.
Of the tenth; on the tenth day whereof the king of Babylon’s army sat down before the city and besieged it.
Shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness; good days, in which they shall rejoice for all the goodness that God hath showed them in their private affairs.
And cheerful feasts, for public; these days of fasting shall be turned into solemn and public festivals, days of thanksgiving to the Lord, for turning back their captivity, and restoring church and state.
Therefore love the truth and peace; let your hearty affection be set on truth in all concerns of religion, and on peace in all converse with your neighbours.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: this solemn attestation, that it is the Lord of hosts who will do that great thing next promised, calls both for our heeding and believing of it.
It shall yet come to pass; how low soever the state of my church doth appear, and really is, yet a time shall come when it shall be more considerable.
There shall come people; that is, multitudes of people, for they shall be inhabitants of many and great cities, which is added to explain what was more obscure in that one word,
people. The Gentiles shall be added to the church, and increase her greatly.
The inhabitants of one city shall go to another; great was the zeal and forwardness of primitive converts to bring others into the church, and to acquaint them with the doctrine of Christ; and this is here foretold under the zeal and forwardness of the Jews to gather one another, and to ascend thus to the temple.
Let us go speedily; in going let us go, set forth presently, hold on constantly and cheerfully, Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2.
To seek the Lord of hosts; to call upon his name, entreat his favour, or face, as it is in the Hebrew, one part of religious worship put for all, and explained by seeking the Lord for counsel and supply, for grace, comfort, and glory.
I will go also: this foretells a readiness in the invited, they shall with as much zeal embrace the motion as others made it.
This verse is both confirmation and illustration to the former; there it was people, here it is many people, and mighty, or great; not the poor, and contemptible. and few, but people of a greater figure in the world. The gospel first spread itself through the Roman empire, and triumphed in Rome the lady of the world.
Strong nations submitted to the gospel.
Shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem; literally understood you have the firstfruits Of them mentioned in Acts 2:9-11. Mystically, Jerusalem is the church of Christ, or the state of it in the times of the gospel, Psalms 110:2; Isaiah 2:3.
To pray; to perform all gospel worship to the Lord.
The Lord seems delighted with the reporting what should be done in those days of the building up his Jerusalem, and therefore he bids his prophet report it again, as he doth in this last verse of the chapter.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts: once more the Lord avows this as his design, so his work as his purpose, so he would effect it.
In those days it shall come to pass; in the days which shall be the shadow of better, that shall be brought to pass which shall be proportioned to them: thus in the deliverance of the church from Haman’s conspiracy, many in the provinces of that mighty kingdom became Jews; but in the gospel days it shall be more full.
Ten men, that is, many men,
shall take hold; as children lay hold on the nurse’s or mother’s skirt to go with them.
Out of all languages; no nation any longer excluded.
Of him that is a Jew; to whom the gospel was first preached, nay, who were the first preachers of it, as the apostles, and the seventy disciples.
We will go with you; we will go, that we may learn your religion, and be of it.
For we have heard, and now see, believe, and are assured,
that God, the true God, the only true God, whom to know is life eternal,
is with you. Our gods are vanity, a doctrine of lies, and a pernicious cheat; we will cast them off. and no more trust to lies: God is with you only, and we must be with you, and of you, that God the Saviour may be with us too: having hold on you, we will not let you go without us; we seek your God and our God.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Zechariah 8". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent