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Bible Commentaries

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Zechariah 8

A.M. 3486. B.C. 518.

The prophet, having accounted for God’s past severity to the Jews, proceeds, in this chapter,

(1,) To inform them, that the anger of the Lord was now appeased; and that he was again disposed to be gracious unto his people, and to restore Jerusalem, Zechariah 8:1-8 . He therefore,

(2,) Exhorts them to proceed vigorously with the building of the temple, and assures them that they would, from that instant, experience a happy revolution in their affairs, Zechariah 8:9-15 .

(3,) He renews his exhortation to the practice of moral righteousness, and promises that, on that condition, their fasts should be turned into joyful feasts; and they should be so distinguished by the divine favour, that many nations would be eager to embrace their religion, and sue for their alliance, Zechariah 8:16-23 .

Verse 2

Zechariah 8:2. I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy With great care that she should not, as formerly, sin against my love and her own welfare, and with a great desire to do her good, and rescue her from her enemies. Jealousy is properly the passion of a lover, or husband, made up of love, care, and anger, in their highest degrees, for his beloved, and against all that he thinks hurtful to her. Thus God had greatly loved Zion, had been careful of her honour and welfare, and displeased with her sins, which first hurt her, and then with the Chaldeans, who violated her. And I was jealous for her Or toward, or against her, as לה may be rendered; with great fury Hebrew, חמה , heat, or wrath, namely, for her sins. In a note on Zechariah 1:14, Blayney gives it as his opinion, that the jealousy there spoken of was God’s resentment against his people for their disloyalty and misbehaviour toward him. “In this opinion,” he here says, “I am confirmed by the present passage, where not the least mention is made of the persecuting nations. That God’s jealousy bespeaks wrath toward the object of it, needs no other proof than his own words, Numbers 25:11.”

Verse 3

Zechariah 8:3. I am returned unto Zion “I have punished her infidelities with all the rigour of despised and abused love; but, though sensible of her fault, my tenderness has continued, and my love is rekindled for her, upon her change in conduct, and return in true repentance to me. I have received her, restored my love to her, and will render to her my former kindnesses.” And will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem Once more, as of old, I will manifest my presence and fix my residence there: according to my promise, repeated to my people, Jerusalem shall be my dwelling-place: see the note on Zechariah 2:10. Jerusalem shall be called, A city of truth That is, it shall be such: the truth of God shall be known, believed, loved, and adhered to therein; the true God, and he only, shall be worshipped there, and that in sincerity and truth, and in the manner which he hath prescribed. Its citizens shall love and speak the truth, shall practise and execute true justice and judgment, and be faithful to Jehovah; and the mountain of the Lord, The holy mountain On account of the pure and holy worship performed there, and the holy conduct of its inhabitants. We see a shadow of the accomplishment of this prophecy in the Jews, after their return from captivity; but this faithful city, this city of truth and holiness, in the strictness of the letter, is no other than the Christian Church, that chaste and faithful spouse of Jesus Christ, Ephesians 5:27.

Verses 4-5

Zechariah 8:4-5. There shall yet old men, &c., dwell in Jerusalem Namely, both at this time and afterward. Formerly war, or famine, or pestilence, or wasting diseases cut off men and women before they grew to old age; but now it shall be otherwise: I will bless the people with a state of peace, and with health and long life. And every man, or, every one, man or woman, with his staff in his, or her, hand for very age It shall not be from weakness and diseases that they lean upon their staves, but mere old age shall bring them to do it. And the streets, &c., shall be full of boys and girls Strong, brisk, and lively; playing in the streets As in a time of perfect peace and security.

Verses 6-7

Zechariah 8:6-7. If it be marvellous If these things promised appear difficult, and in a manner impossible; in the eyes of the remnant of this people In the judgment and opinion, or rather to the unbelief, of this people, who are few in number, exceedingly poor, and perpetually surrounded with dangers; in these days Which are days of small things; should it also be marvellous in mine eyes Impossible, or so much as difficult to me, who am the Almighty God. Thus saith the Lord of hosts Here God engages his almighty power to make good his promise. Behold, I will save my people Or, bring them safe; from the east country From Persia and Media, which lay east from Jerusalem, and were now masters of Babylon; and from the west country From the countries of Europe, in which many of the Jews were, or would afterward be dispersed. The original words may be literally rendered, From the rising to the going down of the sun, including all parts of the world. This implies the general restoration of the Jewish nation from all their dispersions: an event foretold by most of the prophets of the Old Testament: see note on Isaiah 11:11. The west country here mentioned, has a particular relation to their present dispersion, great numbers of them being, in these latter ages, settled in the western parts of the world. “The Jews, upon the completion of the Babylonish captivity, returned from the north, or from the east, but not from the west: nor can any other time here be pointed out, than the last return of the Jews; when they shall flow from all parts of the world to the New Jerusalem, and there constitute a new republic, the fame of whose sanctity shall allure and draw to it many nations, as is foretold at the end of this chapter. We cannot understand this either of the Jews or of the Gentiles, who embraced the faith upon the preaching of the apostles. Not of the Jews, because the Lord did not save at that time the Jewish nation, which he was about to disperse in a very short period; not of the Gentiles, because the Gentiles were not the people of God, ( my people,) before he had called them from the east and from the west.” Dodd.

Verse 8

Zechariah 8:8. And I will bring them Though many things interpose to hinder, none shall prevent their returning; I will lead the way, guard them in it, supply their necessities, give strength to the weak and support to the dejected, and bring them safe to the end of their journey. And they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem They shall inhabit their capital city as in old times. And they shall be my people, &c. They shall duly perform their duty to me, and I will perform my promises to them; they shall truly worship me, and I will protect and bless them. In truth and in righteousness If we refer these words to God only, the word righteousness is equivalent to mercy, as it is often used; and, joined with truth, implies God’s faithfulness in performing his gracious promises. Or, this may be understood of the people, implying that, as God was faithful to them, so they should live in obedience to him.

Verses 9-10

Zechariah 8:9-10. Let your hands be strong Be of good courage, and go on with resolution and perseverance in the work you have begun, the rebuilding of the temple, since you have received such assurances from God’s prophets, even from the very first of your entering upon it, that he would prosper you in it, enable you to finish it, and bless you on account of your labour bestowed on it. Ye that hear these words of the prophets He refers to the prophecies of Haggai, as well as those of Zechariah; which were in the day, or, who spake in the day, that the foundation of the house was laid The prophet speaks of the carrying on of the building as if it were the laying a new foundation: see Haggai 2:18. For before these days there was no hire for man, &c. Or rather, There was no reward for man, nor any reward for beast: so the word שׂכר , here used, often signifies; that is, the fruits of the earth would not pay for the labour of those who cultivated it: see the margin. For I set all men everyone against his neighbour I suffered many molestations to be given you. The enemies of the Jews ceased not to molest them from without, Ezra 4:1, &c.; and civil dissensions, it seems, prevailed within.

Verses 11-13

Zechariah 8:11-13. But now I will not be as in the former days But now, seeing that ye have proceeded in rebuilding my temple, I will order, by my divine providence, that things shall happen otherwise to you than they did before, or that your affairs shall be more prosperous. For the seed shall be prosperous This in the Hebrew is, For the seed shall be of peace, which seems intended to express that they should have peaceable times, or be a seed or nation at peace. And, as ye were a curse A standing form of imprecation; among the heathen Who wished that their enemies might be as miserable as the Jews. This was to be changed into a blessing, to the contrary effect; May you be as happy as the Jews who are restored. See Grotius and Calmet. O house of Judah and house of Israel By Israel may be understood here those of the ten tribes who returned to Judea with the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin. But the mentioning both Judah and Israel, which had been so long separated, shows that both the curse and the blessing here spoken of, in their ultimate sense, belong to the whole body of the Jews, who, as they are public instances of God’s judgments now, so shall they be hereafter of his blessings; namely, at the general restoration and conversion of that nation, to which several promises in this chapter relate.

Verses 14-15

Zechariah 8:14-15. As I thought to punish you As my wisdom saw it to be fit and necessary to punish your nation; and I accordingly did punish it, when your fathers transgressed my laws in such a manner that my justice and wisdom could no longer suffer it; So again, &c. So now my wisdom sees it to be fit, since you have been reformed by your sufferings, that I should be favourable to you, bestow my blessings upon you, and protect you from your enemies.

Verses 16-17

Zechariah 8:16-17 . These are the things that ye shall do, &c. But these my promises of good to you are conditional, and the performance of them will depend upon your observing the laws of justice and righteousness; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour Let no one deceive another by guile or falsehood. Execute the judgment of truth True judgment; and peace in your gates Use all means to restore and establish peace among you. Or, Let those who have the administration of justice committed to their charge endeavour to search out the truth from the witnesses, in the trials which come before them; and decide according to the law, and do all in their power to uphold truth and integrity, and maintain the public peace. The judges, it is to be remembered, used to execute their office at the gates of each city, and therefore it is said here, Execute judgments, &c., in your gates. Let none of you imagine evil in your hearts See note on Zechariah 7:10. And love no false oath See note on Zechariah 5:3-4. For all these are things which I hate God, as he essentially, by his nature, loves that which is good and excellent, so must he hate that which is the contrary.

Verse 19

Zechariah 8:19. The fast of the fourth month and of the fifth, &c. See the note on Zechariah 7:5. The siege of Jerusalem was begun in the tenth month, and in the fourth of the year following the city was taken. God here informs the people, by his prophet, in answer to the question proposed, chap. Zechariah 7:3, that they might now disuse these fasts, and lay aside the mournful ceremonies with which they had been solemnized, the judgments, which had given occasion to them, being removed. Therefore Rather, but, love the truth and peace But take care to have a regard to truth in your dealings and conversation with each other; and cultivate a meek and peaceable disposition; which will be far more pleasing to God than any of your outward performances. Such divine instructions as these prepared men’s minds for the reception of the gospel. See Jeremiah 31:33.

Verses 20-22

Zechariah 8:20-22. It shall yet come to pass, &c. The design of this and the three following verses is evidently to show the high degree of estimation in which Jerusalem and the Jews would hereafter be held, by foreign nations, when those among them, who were piously disposed to worship Jehovah the true God, would come to worship him at Jerusalem, as a place of peculiar sanctity; and those who wanted protection would humbly sue to the Jews for it, convinced that the men of that nation were especial objects of divine favour. It must be observed, however, that though the prediction contained in these verses might, in the primary sense, refer to those times of the Jewish republic which should precede the coming of the Messiah, and to the proselytes, which should then be made to the Jewish religion; yet the expressions are such, that it can scarce be doubted that the times of the gospel are also and more especially intended, when many more, of various nations, should be brought to the knowledge of the true God, and engaged to worship him in an acceptable manner. There shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities Great multitudes of different cities and nations. Saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord The expressions allude to the Jews going up in companies to Jerusalem at the solemn feasts. I will go also So every single person shall express his willingness to go along with them. Many people, &c., shall come to seek the Lord in Jerusalem Understanding the words literally, we find the first-fruits of these mentioned Acts 2:10-12; but mystically Jerusalem means the church of Christ. To pray before the Lord To perform all parts of gospel worship.

Verse 23

Zechariah 8:23. In those days ten men That is, many men, a definite number being put for an indefinite. Out of all languages of the nations From many different and remote countries, no nation being any longer excluded; shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew Christians are sometimes called by the name of Jews, as being confessors of the true religion, and those to whom the promises, made to the fathers of the Jewish nation, chiefly belong. In this sense especially the word is here to be taken. To take hold of another is a gesture of entreating his friendly assistance: see the notes on Isaiah 3:6; Isaiah 4:1. The meaning of the passage, therefore, is, that the heathen should apply themselves to the Christians, particularly to Christian pastors and ministers, for instruction, in order to qualify themselves for admittance into the church.

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Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 8". Benson's Commentary. 1857.