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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 3

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary

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A.M. 3484. B.C. 520.

In this chapter,

(1,) Zechariah sees Joshua the high-priest standing before an angel of the Lord, as it were soliciting to be admitted to the discharge of his sacred functions, and Satan standing by in the act of opposing him, Zechariah 3:1 .

(2,) The adversary receives a rebuke from the Lord himself, by whose special command Joshua is stripped of his filthy garments, and invested with the priestly robes of service, Zechariah 3:2-5 .

(3,) The angel delivers to him a solemn charge, Zechariah 3:6 , Zechariah 3:7 .

(4,) A clear and interesting prediction of the coming of the Messiah follows, and of the establishment of his church; and pardon and peace are held forth as the blessed effects of Christ’s coming, Zechariah 3:8-10 .

Verse 1

Zechariah 3:1. And he showed me He, that is, the angel, who talked with him, after delivering the message in the preceding chapter, proceeded to another representation; Joshua the high-priest, &c. We find from Haggai, that Joshua the son of Josedech was at this time high-priest. He stands here as representing the whole Jewish people. Standing before the angel of the Lord This angel was Christ, or the Logos, mentioned Zechariah 1:11, and called the Lord in the following verse, whose minister, or servant, the high-priest was, as well as a type of him. And Satan Or the adversary, as the word may be rendered; standing at his right hand to resist him That is, to be his accuser, as he is called Revelation 12:10. “So here he is represented as aggravating the faults of Joshua, the representative of the whole body of the Jews, (see Zechariah 3:2,) by this means to prevail with God to continue the Jews under the power of their adversaries. It was the custom in courts of judicature, for the accuser to stand at the right hand of the accused.” See Lowth, and notes on Job 1:6; and Psalms 109:6. “It appears to me,” says Blayney, “the most probable, that by Satan, or the adversary, is here meant the adversaries of the Jewish nation in a body, or perhaps some leading person among them, Sanballat for instance, who strenuously opposed the rebuilding of the temple, and of course the restoration of the service of the sanctuary, and the re-establishment of Joshua in the exercise of his sacerdotal ministry.”

Verses 2-5

Zechariah 3:2-5. And the Lord said, &c. The Logos, or Son of God, said unto Satan; The Lord Namely, God the Father; rebuke thee And not suffer thy mischievous imagination against Jerusalem and the temple to prosper. Even the Lord that hath chosen Jerusalem Who hath chosen that place for his especial residence. Christ, as a mediator, rather chooses to rebuke the adversary in his Father’s name than in his own. Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire “Is not this small remnant returned from captivity,” represented here by Joshua, “miraculously rescued from utter destruction, like a brand plucked out of the fire? and can it be thought that God will not preserve them?” Now Joshua was clothed with filthy garments Denoting the sins and pollutions of the people, of whom he was the representative. And he spake unto those that stood before him Christ spake to the inferior angels, his servants; Take away the filthy garments from him Remove, or cause them to be removed. These filthy garments those angels removed, but another and superior hand takes away the sins and pollutions signified by that emblem. And he Namely, Christ, the Lamb of God; said, Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee I have, by my merits and Spirit, removed the guilt, power, and pollution of thine iniquity. And I will clothe thee with change of raiment With other garments, namely, such as are not filthy or polluted, but clean and rich, an emblem of holiness. As the filthy garments denoted the sins of the people, whose representative Joshua was, the taking them away denoted God’s pardoning their public and national transgressions, and his restoring them to his favour and protection. “The Jews used to change their garments under any public calamity; which calamity being over, they expressed the change of their condition, and the greatness of their joy, by clothing themselves in garments adapted to their circumstances:” see Calmet. And I said I, the Lord, further said, or commanded. The LXX. omit these words, prefixing and to the following expression: and the Syriac and Vulgate read, He said, Let them set a fair mitre upon his head As the new garments put upon Joshua were such as belonged to the high- priest, and were contrived for glory and beauty, Exodus 28:2, so the mitre was the proper ornament for his head. And the angel of the Lord stood by Namely, Christ, through whose mediation, and at whose command, the above was done.

Verses 6-7

Zechariah 3:6-7 . And the angel of the Lord protested Solemnly declared; unto Joshua, If thou wilt walk in my ways If thou wilt diligently observe the commandments of my law; and wilt keep my charge The special charge and office of the high-priest. Then thou shalt also judge my house Thou shalt, for a long time, be ruler in my temple, and exercise all the authority and jurisdiction which belongs to the high-priest’s office; and shalt also keep my courts Not as a servant, but as the chief, on whom others wait, and at last thou shalt have a place among my angels: so many interpret the following clause. Some, however, render it, And I will appoint thee ministers among those that stand by; and by the ministers, Blayney understands, “not the angels attending upon God’s throne, but some of the subordinate priests who attended upon Joshua;” observing, “as it is promised to him that he should be reinstated in the honours of his high office, so it is also added, that he should be waited upon by those inferior priests, whose business it was to officiate in the service of the temple, under the authority of the high-priest. And the same persons are presently after designed, under the name of the companions of Joshua, that sat before him.”

Verse 8

Zechariah 3:8. Hear now, O Joshua, and thy fellows that sit before thee The angel directs his speech to Joshua and his assessors, or assistants in council. “Possibly these may have been some of those who were called chief priests; who, though subordinate to the high-priest, were entitled by their rank to assist in his councils.” Blayney. The rabbins call these, of whom doubtless Zerubbabel was one, the heads of the captivity, and the men of the great synagogue, by whom they suppose the Jewish affairs, both ecclesiastical and civil, to have been settled after the captivity, and the canon of the Old Testament to have been completed. The angel bespeaks their attention to what follows, as containing matter of great importance. For they are men wondered at Hebrew, מופת המה אנשׁי , men of wonder, or, men of sign are they: men intended for signs or tokens, or typical men, as some render the phrase. Thus Isaiah, walking naked and barefoot, was for a sign and wonder, or rather a type or example, to Egypt and Ethiopia, Isaiah 20:3; that is, a sign, or emblem, that they should be carried away without covering. So Ezekiel, in digging through the wall, &c., (as commanded chap. Zechariah 12:7-12,) and in not mourning for his wife, Ezekiel 24:24, was to be a sign, type, or emblem, to the Jews: in all which passages the same word, מופת , is used in the original. To this sense the Vulgate translates it here, viri portendentes, men foreshowing, namely, something to come, that is, the men that composed this council, with Joshua at the head of them, were an emblem, or figure, of the restoration of the church, under the government of the Messiah. Their wonderful deliverance from the Babylonish captivity; the fortitude and resolution which they manifested in returning to Jerusalem, when it lay in ruins; their perseverance amidst the various difficulties, hardships, and perils, which they had to encounter on their journey, and when they arrived in Judea; their preservation among their numerous, powerful, and inveterate enemies; not only rendered them objects of wonder to many, but proper types of the deliverance, restoration, and preservation of the church of God under the Messiah.

The next clause points out the person, of whom Joshua was to be a figure; as the verse following does those of whom his companions were to be representatives, or signs. For behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH Namely, the Messiah, to whom this title, the BRANCH, is often given in the prophets, as descended from the stock of David: see the places referred to in the margin; in all which the word in the original is צמח , tsemach, as here; and all which texts the Chaldee explains of the Messiah; who is elsewhere called God’s servant in an eminent sense, because he was sanctified and sent into the world upon a message of the highest importance. Some, indeed, would explain this passage, and Zechariah 6:12, of Zerubbabel; but, as Dr. Blayney justly observes, there is no reasonable ground to conclude that he is designed in either place. “It is true he was a descendant from David, and appointed under the authority of the kings of Persia to be a subordinate governor of the Jews who returned from Babylon, and in that capacity he presided, and took an active part with Joshua the high-priest, and with the chief of the fathers, in forwarding the building of the temple. But there surely does not appear, in what we know of his character or performances, any thing to merit the particular notice imagined to be here taken of him. The same person must needs be intended here as is spoken of under the same title Jeremiah 23:5; nor is it conceivable that terms so magnificent as those used in this latter place especially can be applicable to one of so limited power and authority as Zerubbabel enjoyed. Besides, it is evident that the Branch is promised as one that was to come, or be brought forth, and not as one that had already enjoyed his estate, such as it was, for many years past. In short, for these and for many other reasons, it may be concluded against Zerubbabel; and, I think, against any other of less consequence than the great Messiah himself, through whom alone iniquity is put away, and the reign of perfect peace and righteousness is to be established: compare Psalms 132:17; Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 33:15-16.” The word which here, and in the places above referred to, is translated Branch, is by the LXX. rendered Ανατολη , the east, or sun-rising, from whence it is applied to Christ, Luke 1:78, and is translated there the day-spring. Hence the name of Oriens was probably given to the supposed king of the Jews by the Roman writers: see Tacit. Hist., lib. 5. cap. 13.

Verse 9

Zechariah 3:9. For behold the stone, &c. Or, as some render the former part of the verse, For this is the stone which I lay before Joshua; there are in the same stone seven eyes: I will engrave it with its engravings, saith the Lord There seems to be an allusion in these words to the foundation, or chief corner stone of the temple, which probably was laid with great solemnity in the presence of Joshua. Christ is not only the rod out of the stem of Jesse, and the branch that should grow out of his roots, the fruit of which is excellent and comely for the remnant of Israel that escape the corruption which is in the world, but the foundation of the spiritual temple laid in Zion. And it is here foretold, that when he should be brought forth, seven, that is, many, eyes should be upon him. “The eye of the Father was upon him, to take care of him and protect him, especially in his sufferings. The eyes of all the prophets and Old Testament saints were upon this one stone: Abraham rejoiced to see Christ’s day, and he saw it and was glad. The eyes of all believers are upon him, as the eyes of the stung Israelites were upon the brazen serpent. They look unto him and are saved.” Henry. Or, the seven eyes upon this stone may be explained, as the eyes upon the wheels in Ezekiel’s vision: they may signify the perfection and plenitude of knowledge and wisdom which were in Jesus Christ for the good of his church, and his ever watchful care of his people: or the various gifts and graces of the Holy Spirit, with which he was endued: for he hath the seven spirits of God, as well as the seven stars, Revelation 3:1; and his eyes are as a flame of fire, piercing through all disguises, and searching the reins and the heart of every human creature, and especially of every one that professes to be his disciple. “The Branch and the Stone,” says Dr. Dodd, “are the same; which stone hath seven eyes, because the Messiah is the searcher of hearts, whom God engraved with his engraving; as in John the evangelist, him the Father sealed, endowed him with those gifts, virtues, and powers of the Spirit, which the prophets had foretold should be in the Messiah, by whom, dying on the cross, God removed the iniquity of that land in one day. In a day when every man ( Zec 3:10 ) called his neighbour, &c., that is, when the whole world was in profound peace.” But, instead of, Upon one stone shall be seven eyes, Blayney reads, From one stone seven fountains, the word עין signifying a fountain as well as an eye. “It seems,” says he, “as if the prophet saw in his vision a stone or rock, set before Joshua, with seven fountains springing out of it, which God says were opened by himself.” There is, he thinks, here “a plain allusion to the rock which Moses smote in the wilderness, and brought waters out of it for the refreshment of the people of God; and that rock, St. Paul says, was Christ, 1 Corinthians 10:4. In speaking of which transaction, the psalmist says, He opened the rock and the waters gushed out, Psalms 105:41:” in which passage the same verb, פתח , is used, which in the next clause is translated, I will engrave, &c., which Blayney renders, Behold, I open the passage thereof; that is, the hole or orifice through which the fountains shall flow. Again, it is said, Isaiah 41:18, I will open rivers in the high places, where not only the same verb is used, but is followed by the same preposition as is here placed before the word rendered stone. And it is said chap. Zechariah 13:1, In that day shall there be opened a fountain (the same verb being again used) to the house of David, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem. For what purpose? for sin and for uncleanness. “This was spoken of the gospel times; and, in like manner, it is here said of the same, And I will remove, or take away, the iniquity of the land in one day, namely, that one day on which Christ died to put away sin by the offering of himself. There cannot, surely, remain a doubt of what is intended, nor that עינים must signify fountains of living waters, issuing from Christ. The living waters are the doctrines of the gospel, and the fountains, the dispensers of them, the apostles and evangelists, who are said to be fellow-workers with Christ, and therefore aptly represented by the companions of Joshua. The number seven is frequently used in Scripture to denote multitudes, 1 Samuel 2:5; Jeremiah 15:9, &c., &c.” It must be observed, however, that both the LXX. and the Vulgate read seven eyes, and not seven fountains.

Verse 10

Zechariah 3:10. In that day In the day of removing the sins of my people; literally referring to the returned captive Jews, and mystically to the whole church in gospel days, when Christ the chief corner stone should have purged away sin and established his church; and when sinners should come to him in repentance and faith, and obtain reconciliation with God and peace of conscience; shall ye call every man his neighbour Invite, with love and kindness, such as become neighbours by partaking of the same divine grace and blessing of the gospel; under the vine, and under the fig- tree To associate together in holy duties and godly fellowship, sitting under the shadow of the true vine with delight, and finding its fruits sweet to your taste; as in Judea men used to feast together under the shade, and upon the fruit of their vines and fig-trees. When the guilt and power of iniquity are taken away, and we are in Christ new creatures, we receive precious privileges and blessings, as the fruit of our justification, regeneration, and union with Christ; yea, more precious than the products of the vine or fig-tree. And we repose ourselves in sweet tranquillity under his protection and care, being saved from the fear of evil, and possessed of a peace that passeth all understanding. “This may perhaps have a special reference to that day when the eyes of the Jews shall be fixed upon Christ, the precious corner stone, which they have hitherto rejected. Then their load of national guilt shall at once be removed; and they shall enjoy spiritual peace and temporal security in their own land, as in the days of Solomon.” Scott.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 3". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/zechariah-3.html. 1857.
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