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The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic
ON THE BOOKS OF THE
By the REV. JAMES WOLFENDALE
Author of the Commentaries on Deuteronomy and Chronicles
FUNK & WAGNALLS COMPANY
LONDON AND TORONTO
ON THE BOOKS OF THE BIBLE
WITH CRITICAL AND EXPLANATORY NOTES, INDEXES, ETC., BY VARIOUS AUTHORS
THE WRITER. Our prophet, like Jeremiah and Ezekiel, was of priestly descent,—a son of Berechiah, and grandson of Iddo (ch. Zechariah 1:1-7), the chief of one of the priestly families that returned from exile along with Zerubbabel and Jeshua (Nehemiah 12:4). He followed his grandfather in that office under the high priest Joiakim (Nehemiah 12:16), from which it has been justly concluded that he returned from Babylon while still a youth, and that his father died young. This also probably serves to explain the fact that Zechariah is called the son (grandson) of Iddo, in Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14, and that his father is passed over [Keil].
THE TIME. We learn from ch. Zechariah 2:4, that the prophet was quite a young man when he commenced his labours. In the second year of Darius Hystaspes (B. C. 520), together with Haggai, he sought to stimulate the Jews in rebuilding the temple, which had been suspended from the first year of Cyrus (B. C. 536). Haggai is thought to have commenced two or three months before Zechariah, but Zechariah prophesied for a longer period than that of Haggai. His predictions are a sequel to those of his contemporary, and stretch out in a series of visions from his own days to the first and even the second advent of Christ.
THE BOOK opens with a very simple, touching call to those returned from the captivity, linking himself on to the former prophets, but contrasting the transitoriness of all human things, those who prophesied and those to whom they prophesied with the abidingness of the word of God [Pusey].
1. ITS CONTENTS. There are four parts, differing in outward character, yet with a remarkable unity of purpose. All begin with a foreground subsequent to the captivity; all reach on to a further end; the two first to the coming of our Lord; the third, from the deliverance of the house then built, during the invasion of Alexander, and from the victories of the Maccabees, to the rejection of the true shepherd and the curse upon the false. The last, which is connected with the third by its title, reaches from a future repentance for the death of Christ to the final conversion of the Jews and Gentiles [Pusey]. Besides the introduction (ch. Zechariah 1:1-6), we have four longer prophetic announcements: viz.
(1) A series of seven visions which Zechariah saw during the night on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month in the second year of Darius (ch. Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 6:8), together with a symbolic transaction, which brought the visions to a close (Zechariah 6:9-15);
(2) the communication to the people of the answer of the Lord to a question addressed to the priests and prophets by certain Judæans as to their continuing any longer to keep the day appointed for commemorating the burning of the temple and Jerusalem by the Chaldæans as a fast-day, which took place in the fourth year of Darius (ch. 7 and 8);
(3) a burden, i.e., a prophecy of threatening import, concerning the land of Hadrach, the seat of the ungodly world-power (ch. 9–11); and
(4) a burden concerning Israel (ch. 12–14) [Keil]. The Messianic predictions abound. It has been remarked that Zechariah is distinguished for his insight into the moral and spiritual meaning of the Mosaic economy, and his illustration of the Apostle’s statement that the law is a schoolmaster unto Christ, (cf. Zechariah 3:8 with Zechariah 6:12-13; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 8:7).
2. ITS STYLE. In point of style, our prophet varies according to the nature of his subjects and the manner in which they were presented to his mind. He now expresses himself in simple conversational prose, now in poetry. At one time he abounds in the language of symbols; at another, in that of direct prophetical announcement. His symbols are, for the most part, enigmatical, and require the explanations which accompany them. His prose resembles most that of Ezekiel; it is diffuse, uniform, and repetitious. His prophetic poetry possesses much of the elevation and dignity to be found in the earlier prophets, with whose writings he appears to have been familiar; only his rhythm is sometimes harsh and unequal, while his parallelisms are destitute of that symmetry and finish which form some of the principal beauties of Hebrew poetry [Henderson].
The Hebrew is considered pure and free from Chaldæisms. Some forms are peculiar, but on the whole the language corresponds to the earlier forms, and exhibits few traces of decay. “The prophet, who returned as a child to Judæa, formed his language upon that of the older prophets” [Pusey]. Hengstenberg suggests two considerations which aid the interpreter. One, that Zechariah leans much upon his predecessors prior to the Captivity; hence much light is gained from parallel passages. The other, that being a prophet of the Restoration, one element of uncertainty which is found in the earlier prophets here ceases. “The beautiful harmonies of Zechariah’s prophecies are awakened by the breath of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel, as by a heavenly breeze stirring and attuning the golden strings of a Divine harp. The one is adjusted to the other. The one proves the Divine origin of the other” [Wordsworth].
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