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Bible Commentaries

Peake's Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 4

Verses 1-7

Zechariah 4:1-7 . The Golden Lampstand.— Zechariah dreams that he is aroused by the interpreting angel who shows him a golden lampstand. This section has suffered somewhat in transmission. In Zechariah 4:2 read with LXX . . . “ behold, a lampstand all of gold, and a bowl upon the top of it, and seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the lamps,” etc. Two insertions have been made. The former ( Zechariah 4:6 b Zechariah 4:10 a), which is a general encouragement to Zerubbabel, is probably due to some scribe’ s blunder; the second ( Zechariah 4:12) appears to be a fragment of a similar allegory by some other writer. Zechariah 4:10 b ought to follow immediately upon Zechariah 4:6 a, thus: ( Zechariah 4:6 a) “ Then he announced and spake unto me saying ( Zechariah 4:10 b), These seven are the eyes of the Lord,” etc. The lampstand (not “ candlestick” ) must be imagined as an upright standard with a reservoir for oil upon the top, and seven branches supporting the lamps, each of which is connected by a pipe with the reservoir. On each side of this lampstand are two olive-trees, by which the reservoir supplying the lamps is itself fed with oil. In Heb. idiom one word commonly covers both cause and effect; consequently a lamp, which suggests light, suggests also the result of light, i.e. safety, since darkness involved danger from the lawless ( Zechariah 14:6 ff.*, cf. Job 24:13-17). Seven lamps imply an intense light, i.e. a state of things in which there is nothing to fear, such as exists when the two eyes of the Lord are upon His people for good. This state of peace and safety is maintained by Joshua and Zerubbabel, who are compared to the olive-trees which supply the oil for the lamps.

Zechariah 4:14 . sons of oil is an absurdly literal translation. Heb. makes good its deficiency in adjectives in various ways, among them by the use of the word “ son.” Thus “ son of death” means “ liable to death” ; “ son of dawn” the star which heralds the dawn; “ son of fatness” ( Isaiah 5:1) means productive of luxuriance; similarly “ sons of oil” means “ productive of oil.” There is no idea here of anointing, for yiṣ? har (the word used here), which denotes vegetable oil, is never used of the oil of unction, which probably was originally animal oil, and is always called shemen.

Zechariah 4:6 b Zechariah 4:10 a is an address to Zerubbabel apparently belonging to about the same period as Haggai 2:2-9 or at any rate the earlier days of the Temple restoration. In Zechariah 4:6 read mg. Zechariah 4:7 reminds us of Isaiah 40:4, but is not necessarily a quotation. The meaning of the stone ( Zechariah 4:7) is doubtful It is scarcely equivalent to “ the head of the corner” ( Psalms 118:22), for not only would this naturally follow Zechariah 4:9 a, but “ bring forth” would not naturally be used in connexion with a building stone, and the Heb. (“ the stone the head” ) is impossible. It is more likely, therefore, though the text is too much mutilated to be corrected with certainty, that the stone belongs to a diadem which is to be placed on Zerubbabel’ s head ( cf. Zechariah 6:9 ff.). The last clause of Zechariah 4:7 is fragmentary; “ with” is not expressed in the Heb. The “ plummet” in the incomplete sentence ( Zechariah 4:10 a) is probably a sign of the rebuilding of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 4:12 . A fragment of some parallel allegory, probably a later imitation of Zechariah’ s. The translation “ the golden oil” is a desperate but hopeless attempt to make sense of a corrupt text.

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Bibliographical Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Zechariah 4". "Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". 1919.