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Bible Commentaries

Pett's Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 9

Verses 1-8

God Declares Judgment on the Surrounding Nations and Security to His People (Zechariah 9:1-38.9.8 ).

The section begins by indicating that all are watching for what YHWH will do, and that those who pride themselves over God’s people will be summarily dealt with, although we then receive the surprising news that the Philistines are not finally to be destroyed but to be converted. They are to become one with God’s people. And then God will stand guard over His people and they will dwell securely.

Zechariah 9:1

‘The burden (or oracle) of the word of YHWH on the land of Hadrach, and Damascus its resting place. For the eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is towards YHWH.’

‘Burden’ - ‘massa’. A ‘heavy load’ or ‘a pronouncement’. The latter meaning is most relevant here. But the prophet did not find what he had to announce as easy to say and his oracle was also a burden.

‘The word of YHWH’. Here not just a prophetic word but an effective word. It is a word which will accomplish His purpose (Isaiah 55:11). YHWH Himself will act through His divine ‘word’ of power bringing about what He says.

Hadrach and Damascus were to the north of Palestine in Syria. Hadrach is mentioned in an Aramaic inscription of Zakur of Hamath, and is called Hatarikka in Assyrian inscriptions, and was once the seat of a district governor. Damascus was the capital of Syria. Thus both were important places. ‘Its resting place’ (or ‘its rest’) may signify the close relation between the two, and possibly includes the thought that Hadrach now relies on Damascus. Alternately we may read as ‘the word of YHWH is on Hadrach and it rests on Damascus’. Either way the thought is of God’s activity in judgment against these two places.

‘The eye of man and of all the tribes of Israel is towards YHWH.’ The rest of the world, and especially the tribes of Israel, are, as it were, looking expectantly towards YHWH to see what He will do. The world waits on God with foreboding, His people with expectation.

‘The tribes of Israel.’ A phrase rare in the prophets except in Ezekiel where it looks to the future restoration. Zechariah can use ‘Israel’ (see Zechariah 12:1) or ‘Judah’ or both to signify God’s people. ‘Israel’ on its own is looking back towards the once united nation and seeing it as that again, Judah is stressing the present situation as the limited area to which the exiles have returned. But the people who have returned, and those they have joined up with in the land, include people from both Israel and Judah.

Zechariah 9:2-38.9.4

‘And Hamath also which borders on it. Tyre and Sidon though she be very wise. And Tyre built herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver as the dust and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold Yahweh will dispossess her and he will smite her power in the sea and she will be devoured with fire.’

The catalogue of God’s judgments is described. Hamath, which borders on Damascus, will be included, as will Tyre and Sidon. Some of these were the nations that were making life very difficult for the returning exiles, and had often done so in the past for Israel and Judah. They now gloried in their position, and over the weakness of Judah. But it is their general behaviour that brings them into judgment as epitomised by God’s words against Tyre. For Tyre here is seen in a similar way to the way that Isaiah saw Babylon. They epitomised the pride of the ‘wise’ and the arrogant. Note the stress on the fact that Tyre was so ‘very wise’.

Tyre is vividly described. Difficult to get at by land it had long been a sea power and traded prosperously. It saw itself as self-sufficient and had great pride in itself and its own ability, building up great riches. No doubt they thought that they would last for ever. But God will bring judgment on Tyre, breaking her sea power and destroying her with fire by the hands of conquerors. Indeed every nation that exalts itself will fall.

Zechariah 9:5-38.9.6

“Ashkelon will see it and be afraid, Gaza also and will be sorely pained, and Ekron will be ashamed for her expectation, and the king will perish from Gaza and Ashkelon will not be inhabited, and a mongrel race will dwell in Ashdod and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”

The Philistine cities in the coastal plains are now brought into view. As they see the fate of Tyre they will be filled with fear, and then their time will come. They too will be devastated, and replaced by ‘a mongrel race’, no longer of pure antecedents. Again pride and self satisfaction is one of their great sins and it is in that sphere that they will be punished. (For judgment on the Philistines see also Jeremiah 25:20; Amos 1:6 on; Zephaniah 2:4-36.2.7).

Zechariah 9:7

‘And I will take away his blood from his mouth, and his abomination from between his teeth. And he also shall be a remnant for our God, and he shall be as a chieftain (or ‘a clan’) in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.’

But for these there is hope as a result of their experience of being humbled. God will remove from them all that displeases Him. The eating of blood was forbidden in the Law. Philistia indulged both in this and the eating of unclean things. ‘Abomination’ regularly has reference to idolatry and we may thus see here also food sacrificed to idols with all its ramifications. But the Philistines will be delivered from these things. They are not without hope for God’s mercy is available.

‘He also shall be a remnant for our God.’ Once they have suffered they too will come to the Lord and will find acceptance by Him along with the remnant of Israel.

‘And he will be as a chieftain (or friend or clan) in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.’ The Jebusites were absorbed into ‘Israel’ when Jerusalem was captured by David. Thus the idea is of Philistia being absorbed into ‘Israel’. The unpointed Hebrew consonants for ‘chieftain’ could also mean ‘clan, family tribe’ which seems a preferable translation, but even with its present pointing it can mean ‘friend’ as well as ‘chieftain’. (‘Pointing’ refers to vowel sound marks introduced late into the Hebrew text long after the time of Christ. Originally Hebrew texts consisted almost solely of consonants). Thus just as Ekron is accepted into the confederation of Israel and Judah on friendly terms, like the Jebusites were earlier in the time of David, so also will all the Philistines be accepted. In other words they will be incorporated into the people of God. (From the time of the Maccabees ( 1Ma 3:41 ) the Philistines historically disappear from view, no doubt being absorbed into their neighbours).

The overall point behind these verses would seem to be that while those who are lifted up in their pride will come into judgment, (as they did as a result of the activities of Alexander the Great), those who humbled, even the most surprising of them, can find mercy.

Zechariah 9:8

“And I will encamp about my house against the army (or possibly ‘as a garrison’) that none pass through or return. And no oppressor will pass through them any more, for now I have seen with my eyes.”

Meanwhile God will surround His people with His protection so that they are safe from enemies. His eyes will be on them to save them from oppression. No enemies will pass through them. No returning armies will pillage them. Thus in the last days when all God purposes come to fruition the people of God, His house, will be safe in His hands. The basic idea is of the final security of the people of God.

‘About my house.’ Compare Hosea 8:1 where ‘the house of YHWH’ is His people. It is not the Temple which will be preserved, but His people (see also on Zechariah 14:20).

Verses 9-10

The Coming of God’s King Who Will Deliver His People (Zechariah 9:9-38.9.10 ).

This establishment of the security of God’s people will be brought about by the coming of its King. He will not come as a warrior, but as a just and lowly Saviour, bringing salvation to God’s own (Zion). So the proud will have been brought low (Zechariah 9:2-38.9.6) while the lowly will triumph.

Zechariah 9:9

“Rejoice greatly, Oh daughter of Zion, shout, Oh daughter of Jerusalem, behold your king is coming to you. He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on an ass, even on a colt, the foal of an ass.”

God’s coming protection is now connected with His coming king. His coming should cause great rejoicing. Yet He does not come as a mighty world conqueror, for He is lowly. But He brings what is better. He brings justice and He brings deliverance. He is the lowly and just Deliverer. His lowliness is in stark contrast with the pride of Tyre. Salvation is not to be found in riches and prosperity, but through lowliness and righteousness and justice.

‘Just.’ The One Who comes will come bringing justice. When Israel as a whole thought of their coming Messiah their stress tended to be on His deliverance. (They wanted to be like Tyre). Had they recognised that He would render truly according to men’s desserts they might have been a little less enthusiastic. Like all men they tended to play down their own sins compared with the sins of others. When He came an account would have to be given. Only those who were truly righteous or who sought true righteousness had cause to welcome His coming.

‘Having salvation.’ He it is Who will bring about the fulfilment of God’s promises to His people and the world. He brings salvation and deliverance for all men as the prophets elsewhere make clear. But this is deliverance from themselves and their sins as well as from others.

‘Lowly.’ The word means ‘poor, afflicted, lowly’. It was the word that all overlooked. He would thus be despised and rejected by man but acknowledged by God (Isaiah 53:3).

‘On an ass.’ Riding on an ass is not necessarily symbolic of lowliness. The ass was regularly the beast on which kings rode in honour (see 1 Kings 1:33; 1 Kings 1:44). But it is a symbol of peace not of war. It was the triumphant conqueror who rode on a warhorse. When Jesus wished to reveal Himself as the One Whom God had sent He rode into Jerusalem on an ass not a warhorse.

Only God could have foreseen that the One Who would transform the world would be such as is described here.

Zechariah 9:10

“And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be cut off. And he will speak peace to the nations, and his dominion will be from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.”

The remarkable nature of the prophecy continues. This coming king will not operate through chariots, war horses and battle bows. These will not be required and will be disposed of. His weapons will be words of peace for the nations, and His lordship will be worldwide in its effect. His dominion will be from sea to sea, and reaching even to the ends of the earth.

‘Ephraim’. As a large tribe Ephraim was often utilised as a synonym of Israel. ‘The River’ is the river Euphrates. (Note here that it is Ephraim and Jerusalem who now represent the whole people of God. To Zechariah the terms Israel, Ephraim, Joseph and Judah can all refer to God’s whole people.)

‘From sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth.’ The description is intended to be all-inclusive.

So the coming king will come in lowliness and poverty, He will be just and righteous and will bring deliverance to mankind, He will avoid all signs of war, He will come speaking words of peace and He will exercise worldwide control. This is in interesting conflict with what follows, demonstrating that the latter is not the work of the Messianic prince.

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Bibliographical Information
Pett, Peter. "Commentary on Zechariah 9". "Pett's Commentary on the Bible ". 2013.