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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 9

Old & New Testament Restoration CommentaryRestoration Commentary

Verses 1-7

Zec 9:1-7

The Nations of Wicked men shall be Punished (Zechariah 9:1-7)

“The burden of the word of Jehovah upon the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be its resting place (for the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is toward Jehovah); and Hamath, also, which borders thereon; Tyre and Sidon, because they are very wise. And Tyre did build herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets” (Zechariah 9:1-3).

The word “burden” is also translated “oracle” in the ASV footnotes. Zechariah, like Nahum 1:1, is delivering an oracle (i.e., an utterance made to an agent by divine revelation). The revelation is in relation to Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon. These nations put their trust in worldliness. Zechariah reveals two burdens or oracles from chapter 9 – 14. This first oracle (i.e., chapters 9-11) is against the nations who put their trust in things other than God. The second oracle is directed toward Israel (cf. chapters 12 – 14).

“Behold, the Lord will dispossess her, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire. Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also, and shall be sore pained; and Ekron, for her expectation shall be put to shame; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth; and he also shall be a remnant for our God; and he shall be as a chieftain in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite” (Zechariah 9:4-7).

Tyre and Sidon were rich and “very wise” in the ways of the world. The Lord would “devour with fire” (ultimately achieved by Alexander the Great) Tyre and Sidon even though they were seemingly impenetrable. Zechariah moves from Tyre and Sidon to the chief cities of the Philistines (i.e., Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod). These Philistine cities would see the fall of Sidon and Tyre and fear for their own safety. The Philistines’ pride and idolatry would be taken from them as they are humbled by Jehovah. Some; however, the Lord would save as a remnant and they would be numbered with the people of God (probably fulfilled during the days of Christ when many of all nations were being baptized for the remission of sins).

Verses 1-8

Zec 9:1-8

THE TRIUMPH OF ZION THROUGH HER MESSIAH

JUDGEMENT AGAINST ISRAEL’S ENEMIES … Zechariah 9:1-8

The theme of chapter nine is struck in verse nine. It is the coming of the Messianic King (Zechariah 9:9-17). The judgement of God against Israel’s traditional enemies set forth in these opening verses are to be seen as preparation for that event. Not only God’s dealing with these nations as the enemies of His people, but all his dealings in history prior to Messiah’s coming were in preparation for it.

(Zechariah 9:1) The term “burden (more accurately “oracle”) of the word of Jehovah” is reminiscent of Malachi. It is calculated to place the stamp of divine origin on the second section of the book. The method of inspiration seems to differ from that of the first section in that the prophet does not claim here to have seen a vision. Nevertheless, what he is about to say is not a matter of his own subjective understanding of historic events. He is speaking from God as one moved by the Holy Spirit. (cp. 2 Peter 1:19-21, Hebrews 1:1)

Zerr: Burden (Zechariah 9:1) means that the Lord has something to say about certain places and it is recorded here. Hadrach refers to Assyria and Damascus the capital of ancient Syria. The prediction pertains to the fact that the eyes of mankind will be toward the Lord. This situation will be the result of God’s triumph for his people over all other nations.

The first part of this oracle is concerned with the land of Hadrach, and its focal point is Damascus. (cp. Isaiah 21:13) Hadrach is a symbolic name for Syria. The name itself was a little used one applying to a region of Syria also called Bikathanen. It is the western interior part of the country surrounded by hills. Hadrach takes its name from this surrounding. The word means literally “enclosed.”

The burden of Jehovah would focus on Damascus until that ancient enemy of Israel was utterly brought co its knees. History records the fulfillment of this prediction when Alexander the Great took the city, c. 344 B.C. It subsequently became Hellenized and is listed as the first of ten such cities which formed the Decapolis.

The parenthetical statement by which Zechariah explains this must not be overlooked if one would begin to understand the hand of Providence in the ebb and flow of history. The English text is misleading when it states, “the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is toward Jehovah.” The marginal rendering in the Standard Edition is more to the point, “Jehovah hath an eye upon men and upon the tribes of Israel.” The point being that God’s covenant purpose to bless all the nations of the earth in Israel’s Seed is the all determining factor in every historic development, even the defeat of one pagan nation by another.

(Zechariah 9:2-4) In rapid succession Zechariah deals with the future of the other enemies of Israel immediately adjacent to her. Tyre and Sidon were next in Alexander’s plan to conquest. Sidon, as Damascus, surrendered peaceably, but Tyre was subdued only after a siege. The city harbored a large squadron of mercenaries in the pay of the Persians. The resistance was so bitter that, when Tyre finally fell, Alexander departed from his usual policy of benevolence toward conquered cities and allowed his Macedonians to slaughter eight thousand Tyrians and sell thirty thousand into slavery.

Zerr: Hamath (Zechariah 9:2) was an important city of Syria and Tyrm and Zidon were cities of the Phoenicians. All these places were destined to see and recognize the greatness of God’s people after he has rescued them from the effects of the captivity. Tyrus (Tyre) was a strong commercial city (Zechariah 9:3) which is signified by the words heaped up silver as the dust. But this proud city felt the sting of defeat. Power in the sea (Zechariah 9:4) refers to the traffic carried on by Tyre on the Mediterranean Sea because the city was situated on the coast of that body of water, and that gave her good shipping accommodations in connection with the principal ports of the world in which to exchange her manufactured products for raw materials.

(Zechariah 9:5) Ashkelon, seeing the fate of Tyre, surrendered without resistance. Thus the ancient seaport of the Philistines became, in turn, a Greek city to plague Israel no more. Gaza, on the other hand, chose to resist the Macedonian conqueror. Durant records, “Gaza fought till every man in the city was dead and every woman raped.” Ekron, the southernmost of the Philistine cities, had hoped in vain that Alexander would be stopped by Tyre in his march through Palestine to Egypt. The hope was turned to disappointment as the Macedonian phalanx swept down the Mediterranean coast engulfing by either peaceful surrender or siege all who stood in its path.

Zerr: All of the towns named in Zechariah 9:5 were in the land of the Philistines. They were destined to witness the defeat of heathen nations and the success of Israel.

The king of Gaza comes in for special attention by the prophet, as well he might, considering what lay in store for him. When Gaza fell, following a two month siege, and ten thousand of its inhabitants were killed while the rest were sold to the slave merchants who followed in the wake of Alexander’s armies, special treatment was waking Betis, the Persian satrap. This puppet “king” found himself tied to Alexander’s chariot by two thongs through the soles of his feet and dragged through the city in one of the young conqueror’s characteristic fits of revenge against one who resisted his forward march.

(Zechariah 9:6-7) Ashdod shall be ruled by an alien race. (The rendering “bastard” here is misleading.) (The Septuagint is more accurate.) It is a clear prediction of the reign of the Greeks and Romans, beginning with Alexander. The pride of the Philistines has to do with the peculiar form of idolatry practiced in Philistia which included the drinking of the blood of sacrificed animals. Hence, when the Philistines are conquered by Alexander, Hellenized by the Ptolemaic dynasty of Egypt, and subsequently converted to Jehovah, the blood was taken “out of his mouth.”

Zerr: Bastard (Zechariah 9:6) is from MAMZOB which Strong defines, "From an unused root meaning to alienate: a mongrel i.e., born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother." The verse means that the proud heathen city of Ashdod would have to tolerate the presence of a half-breed, one with Jewish blood in his veins which would be humiliating to the high minded heathen people. Even this half-breed will be reformed from his practice of bloodshed. He will not talk about such acts but will imitate the principles of the rulers in Judah (Zechariah 9:7). The people of Ekron (a Philistine city) will act as if they were citizens of Jerusalem which is meant by a Jebusite.

The law made the drinking of blood an abomination (cf. Genesis 9:4, Leviticus 7:26). When in Philistia “the son of the stranger joined himself to the Lord” (Isaiah 56:3) the abomination would be taken “from between his teeth,” and the Philistine also became part of Jehovah’s faithful remnant! Just as the Jebusites, the original inhabitants of Jerusalem had been incorporated into the people of Judah (2 Samuel 24:16, etc.) in a subordinate position (1 Kings 9:20-21), so the Philistines, traditional enemies of Israel are to ultimately be assimilated as proselytes. Again history vindicates prophecy.

(Zechariah 9:8) The prophet reassures his readers, who have worked to rebuild the temple, that when all this is taking place around them, they, and their work will be protected by the Lord. History records that Alexander’s conquest of Jerusalem was by invitation, He did not oppress them, but rather afforded them privileges. No Jew was injured.

Zerr: The gist of Zechariah 9:8 is that God would be a sure protection against any passing group that might seek to disturb His people.

Questions

The Triumph of Zion Through Her Messiah

1. The theme of chapter nine is struck in verse _________________.

2. This theme is the coming of the _________________.

3. The term “burden of the word of Jehovah” is calculated to _________________.

4. The first part of the oracle is concerned with the land of _________________.

5. Hadrach is the symbolic name for _________________.

6. This prediction was fulfilled c. 344 B.C. by the invasion of _________________. by _________________.

7. God’s purpose to _____________ is the all-determining factor in every historic development.

8. List the traditional enemies of Israel mentioned in chapter nine, and give the symbolic name of each as given by Zechariah.

9. ____________ was the southern-most of the Philistine cities mentioned here.

10. What world conqueror fulfilled this predictive passage?. (Zechariah 9:1-8)

11. The predictions of this section find their immediate fulfillment in what historic event?

12. The ultimate fulfillment of this passage is found in the coming of _________________.

13. Describe the events leading to the Maccabean revolt.

14. To what three factors do historians attribute the failure of the Greeks to completely Hellenize the Jews?

15. Following the death of Alexander, the land of Palestine became at first part of what empire?

16. Antiochus IV was called Epiphanes meaning _________________.

17. Who were the Chasidim?

18. Whom did Antiochus Epiphanes blame for his defeat at the hand of the Egyptian Ptolemies?

19. What, in Jewish history, is referred to as “the abomination of desolation?”

20. Who was Mattathias?

21. Who was called “the hammer?”

22. Upon the death of Antiochus IV, Lysias offered the Jews complete religious freedom if they would lay down their arms. Why did they refuse?

23. What caused the Jewish civil war following their victory under Judas Maccabee?

24. What was the origin of the party of the Pharisees?

25. What was the origin of the Sadducees?

26. What finally ended the internal strife which followed the Maccabean revolt?

27. In Zechariah 9:11 -f the joyous coming of the Messiah is postponed by _________________.

28. Why does Zechariah mingle the prediction of the coming of Christ with that of the Maccabean revolt?

29. Show how the Jews in later rimes confused these two predictions.

30. What was Jesus’ attitude toward the desire of the Jews for a military independence and a political kingdom?

31. Contrast Antiochus IV with the Messiah King.

32. What is the symbolism of the ass upon which the Messiah would ride?

33. What New Testament event fulfills this prediction?

34. Beyond the traditional boundaries of Israel, the Messiah will speak peace to _________________.

35. The Jews understood such passages to indicate that _________________.

Verses 9-17

Zec 9:9-17

Days of Hope await the true Israel (Zechariah 9:8-10)

“And I will encamp about my house against the army, that none pass through or return; and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes” (Zechariah 9:8).

The Lord’s “house” is His people. Centuries past while God watched with His eyes the defeat and subsequent tributary made of His unfaithful people.

Such days were to end and no one will have the power to take His true people from Him. The only way God’s people are handed over to wickedness today is if we do so our selves. We have the power, through Christ, to achieve spiritual victory in this life (cf. Philippians 4:13).

“Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy king comes unto thee; he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, even upon a colt the foal of an ass. 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 unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth” (Zechariah 9:9-10).

The Lord’s true people (i.e., Zion) are called upon to rejoice for their king shall soon come. Note the characteristics of the king of the people of God. He is “just” (the opposite of the cheating people who robbed the poor with false balances). He will graciously offer “salvation” from the consequences of sin (i.e., he cares for people). He is “lowly” (illustrated by the way Jesus would make his triumphal entry into the city of Jerusalem / cf. Matthew 21:5 ff). While kings of other nations rode upon horses Jesus would ride an ass. The character of Jesus would oppose all things that world empires and powers would stand for (i.e., wealth, pride, and worldly ambition to conquer and divide). Matthew tells us, in this text, that Jesus was “meek;” i.e., (Greek praus) = “mild, soft, gentle, meek (“showing patience and humility; gentle... Easily imposed upon; submissive” – AHD 782) (LS 666) (see study # 16; Worldliness).

The rule of Christ would not be by carnal weapons of bows, chariots, and horses but he would rather rule His kingdom with peace. Said kingdom will have no bounds.

Jehovah addresses Zion (Zechariah 9:11-17)

“As for thee also, because of the blood of thy covenant I have set free thy prisoners from the pit wherein is no water. Turn you to the stronghold, ye prisoners of hope: even to-day do I declare that I will render double unto thee. For I have bent Judah for me, I have filled the bow with Ephraim; and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and will make thee as the sword of a mighty man” (Zechariah 9:11-13).

Zion was not a geographically centralized location but a people who believed in the promises of God throughout the earth. These faithful looked to the forgiveness of their sins. Zion was a people of “hope.” God is calling upon these people of hope to cast off the religious ideology brought about by the Macedonians (Grecians under Alexander the Great) and return to the Zion of hope.

“And Jehovah shall be seen over them; and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning; and the Lord Jehovah will blow the trumpet, and will go with whirlwinds of the south. Jehovah of hosts will defend them; and they shall devour, and shall tread down the sling-stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, like the corners of the altar” (Zechariah 9:14-15).

It seems that Zechariah is speaking of the people of God being used as His arrows over the foes of Zion. There would be many hard fought spiritual battles yet the Lord’s people would experience victory through Jehovah’s help.

“And Jehovah their God will save them in that day as the flock of his people; for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted on high over his land. For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! Grain shall make the young men flourish, and new wine the virgins” (Zechariah 9:16-17).

Though the Lord would use the Grecians to achieve His purpose of punishing the wicked nations many would be infected by their religious ideology. The true Zion; however, would not be infected with these pagan ways. Though the nations be devoured spiritually and physically Zion would flourish spiritually.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Zechariah 9". "Old & New Testament Restoration Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/onr/zechariah-9.html.
 
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