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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Zechariah 14


The destroyers of Jerusalem destroyed. The coming of Christ, and the graces of his kingdom. The plague of Jerusalem's enemies. A remnant will turn to the Lord, and their spoils shall be holy.

Before Christ 517.

THIS chapter goes on to foretel a siege, in which Jerusalem will be taken and sacked, and half of its inhabitants carried into captivity, while the rest will be enabled to stand their ground. In this critical situation they will be relieved by the arm of divine power, exerting itself wonderfully in their behalf, and attended with the most beneficial consequences; such as living waters going forth out of Jerusalem; the name and majesty of the true God acknowledged through the whole earth; and the entire re-establishment of Jerusalem in security. In the mean time the hostile invaders, debilitated by sickness, thrown into confusion, and falling foul on each other, will yield themselves and their wealth an easy conquest to the assailing Jews. After this, all things in Judah and Jerusalem, from the least to the greatest, shall thenceforward be accounted holy. Such are the great outlines of this extraordinary prophesy; to fill up which with any tolerable certainty, it will be necessary, perhaps, to wait the times of its accomplishment.

Verse 2

Zechariah 14:2. The residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city It is impossible to reconcile these words with the state of facts at the time when Jerusalem was taken by the Romans; for at that time, we are well assured by Josephus, who was an eye-witness, not only all that were in the city were either slain or made captives, but also the city itself was razed to the ground, so as to leave no vestige of a habitation. BBell. Jud. lib. vi. c. 9. and lib. vii. c. 1. Ed. Havercamp. How then could there be a residue not cut off from the city? And if there has been no capture since to which these words can be applied, we must look forward to futurity for the completion of the prophesy. From its being said, that a residue shall not be cut off from the city, together with what follows, the course of proceeding, it should seem, will be this: upon the city being taken, the most warlike part of the inhabitants will retire in a body to some strong post near at hand, and stand upon their defence; till, being encouraged by manifest tokens of God's declaring himself in their favour, and perhaps reinforced by their brethren of Judah at large, they shall sally forth, and with the divine assistance completely defeat their enemies, and effect their own deliverance; so that, as is said, Jerusalem shall again sit in her own place at Jerusalem. Compare chap. Zechariah 12:5-7. See Blaney. Houbigant is of the same opinion—that this whole chapter refers not to the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, but to some future and unknown events of the great and final restoration of the Jews.

Verse 3

Zechariah 14:3. As when he fought Literally, According to the day of his fighting; that is, with thunder and lightning, storms of wind and hail, earthquakes, &c. See Psalms 18:7-16. Habakkuk 3:5; Habakkuk 3:19.

Verse 4

Zechariah 14:4. And his feet shall stand, &c.— Calmet thinks, that by this cleaving of the mount of Olives is meant those incisions which the Romans made in it, to carry matter thence for the siege of the city; not observing that the simile is drawn from things which exceed nature, not from those which happen according to the common course of it. But it is certainly beyond nature, that a mountain should so cleave, as to leave between the parts which are cleft a great valley: it is much more so, that one part of the mountain should remove to the north, the other to the south. Therefore in this place facts and not similes are delivered; and those miracles seem to be foretold which shall happen near Jerusalem at the last return of the Jews. Houbigant. See Ezekiel 11:23. Mount Olivet, we are told by Maundrel, had three tops or eminences, one on the north, one on the south, and one in the middle, whence our blessed Saviour ascended, and where Christians in after times erected a cross, to point out the place of this great transaction.

Verse 5

Zechariah 14:5. And the Lord my God shall come, &c.— And JEHOVAH shall go, the God of all holy ones, with thee. This is a literal translation of the Hebrew text, and affords a sense beyond exception or improvement. The same Jehovah, of whom it is said Zec 14:3 that he would go forth and fight against the unsanctified nations, he as the God, the patron and protector of all holy ones, all true believers, it is here said, will march with thee, O Jerusalem, as thine ally and auxiliary. So the preposition עם im, properly imports. The address is here to Jerusalem in the second person, as it evidently is also, Zechariah 14:1.

Verse 6

Zechariah 14:6. And it shall come to pass, &c.— How this will be fulfilled we cannot know till the time of its completion shall arrive; for a fact certainly, not a simile, is here again delivered. We know that in the Scripture, light denotes joy and prosperity, and darkness adversity. See Houbigant.

Verse 7

Zechariah 14:7. One day An extraordinary, or very singular day.

Verse 8

Zechariah 14:8. Living waters shall go out, &c.— Here again, real waters, not the figurative ones of baptism, or of the Christian doctrine, are meant; for these waters go out only to the east and to the west, whereas the evangelical waters went forth into all quarters of the world. Houbigant; who, instead of former sea, reads eastern sea; and instead of hinder sea,—the western sea.

Verse 9

Zechariah 14:9. And the Lord shall be king, &c.— Upon this grand conversion and restoration of the Jews, and coming-in of the fulness of the Gentiles, God shall be glorified with one mind and one mouth over all the earth. There shall be one Lord, and his name shall be one. A name was so peculiar an adjunct to a local tutelary deity, that the one supreme God had no name or title of distinction of the local kind. Thus Zechariah, evidently alluding to these notions, when he prophesies of the worship of the Supreme God, unmixed with idolatry, says, In that day there shall be one Lord, and his name one. See Divine Legation, book 4: sect. 6.

Verse 10

Zechariah 14:10. All the land shall be turned, &c.— And he shall surround the whole land as a plain, from Geba even to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem; which shall be high, and shall stand firm, &c. The latter part of this verse describes the extent of the new city of Jerusalem, which the Jews were to rebuild and inhabit; and the words in the next verse, There shall be no more destruction, or anathema, shew that the city of Jerusalem itself is here meant, and not the church under that period; for the church can never be said to have been at any time under a curse.

And it shall be lifted up And she shall be raised up. That is, Jerusalem, which is here, as elsewhere, represented as a female figure, raised from the ground, and sitting tranquil on her ancient seat.

From Benjamin's gate, &c.— These points are given, no doubt, to signify that Jerusalem shall again occupy as much space as ever it did in its most flourishing times. The same intention appears Jeremiah 31:38-40. Both these places may derive some illustration from comparing them together, and at the same time inspecting the plan of Jerusalem in the Ancient Universal History, vol. 1: b. 1 which seems to have been laid down pretty accurately according to the circuit of the walls made by the two companies, Neh 12:31-40 and the information collected from other parts of Scripture.

Verse 13

Zechariah 14:13. And his hand shall rise up, &c.— And the hand of one shall cleave to the hand of another. Houbigant.

Verse 14

Zechariah 14:14. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem And Judah also shall fight for Jerusalem. Not only, the Lord shall fight, (see Zechariah 14:3.) but also Judah.

Verse 17

Zechariah 14:17. Of all the families of the earth If, according to the opinion of many learned commentators, by going up to Jerusalem to worship, and to keep the feast of tabernacles, be only meant a conformity to the worship of the one true God, or, which is the same thing, to the Christian religion, there can be no objection to understanding a strict universality of the nations: for it is repeatedly foretold, that a time will come, when "all the ends of the world shall remember and turn unto the Lord, and all the families of the nations shall worship before him," Psalms 22:27. Compare Psalms 72:11; Psalms 86:9. Revelation 11:15.

Verse 18

Zechariah 14:18. That have no rain; there, &c.— Upon them shall be the plague wherewith the Lord, &c. Houbigant. The reader will observe, that the prophet, foretelling the blessings arising from the restoration of the Jews, and the conversion of the Gentiles to the Christian faith, draws his images from the old dispensation; and, as is usual throughout the prophetic writings, expresses the rewards and punishments of the new dispensation, under figures borrowed from the old.

Verses 20-21

Zechariah 14:20-21. In that day, &c.— This and the following verse seem to imply the promise of universal peace and holiness; blessings often mentioned in the prophets as concomitants of the flourishing state of Christ's kingdom. The meaning of the passage therefore is, that the bells, or furniture of war, belonging to the horses, shall no more be applied to their former use; but shall be looked upon as sacred, and laid up in the armoury of the temple of the Lord, as a memorial of the remarkable success that he had given his people. Yea, every thing under this state shall be holy. Houbigant renders the last clause of Zechariah 14:20. And the pots in the house of Judah shall be [holy] as the bowls before the altar. The meaning of the last clause of Zechariah 14:21. There shall be no more the Canaanite, &c. is, "There shall be no more a profane or impious person in the societies of the faithful; nor shall there be any more distinction between Jew and Canaanite." The name of Canaanite and stranger shall be utterly abolished: whoever commences a real believer, shall enter into the house of the Lord, and what he was shall be wholly forgotten. Canaanite, Jew, Barbarian, shall be all equal, "provided they truly believe in Christ, are just and faithful." See Calmet.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, We have here,

1. A day of judgment, which many refer to the taking of Jerusalem by the Romans, when all the brutal rage of war was let loose, and half the people carried into captivity, a remnant being left, even those who, according to the divine warnings, had before saved themselves by flight. Or this may much better refer to the time just preceding the restoration of the Jews and their establishment in their own country, and the fulness of the Gentiles.

2. A day of mercy, when Christ shall go forth to fight his people's battles, to destroy their destroyers.* And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, as when he ascended up thence, and quickly after made a way for the Gentile world to draw near unto God, signified by the dividing asunder the mountain, and opening a great valley between, in which Jews and Gentiles should assemble together and incorporate, eager to be admitted into the church which shall now be exceedingly enlarged, flying thither with as much speed as those in the days of Josiah fled from the earthquake; and there God's presence in the midst of his saints shall eminently appear.

* In these Reflections, I would wish to consider the chapter chiefly, if not intirely, in a spiritual sense, which is certainly implied, and carries with it far the most important meaning.

Some refer this to the second coming of Christ, when they suppose that he will descend on that very spot from which he ascended; that the valley shall be the place where the dead shall be raised and assembled, many of whom will then be flying to the mountains to cover them from the presence of the Judge, now appearing with ten thousands of his saints, and be more terrified at his coming than those were who fled from the earthquake in Uzziah's days, which threatened to swallow them up. It must be confessed, that this prophesy is of very difficult interpretation. However, we may learn, (1.) That the Lord Jesus will come to judge the world, and that it highly imports us to be ready to meet him. (2.) That it will be too late then to fly from his wrath, if we have not before betaken ourselves to the refuge of his mercy. (3.) That they will then be truly happy who can say, My God shall come; for he will be most welcome to all who have an interest in his love and favour.

3. It shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark: which may refer either to the imperfect attainments of Christ's saints upon earth, compared with what they expect hereafter; or to the dispensations of God's providence toward his church, over which there still hang clouds of trouble whilst in this militant state below. But it shall be one day, a short time that this will be the case, which shall be known to the Lord, who takes notice of his faithful people under all their remaining infirmities and troubles. At evening-time it shall be light: when the day of time shall come to its period, and eternity open to view, then all shall be light to God's faithful people for ever; when their faith and patience shall be crowned with glory, their sun shall no more go down, nor their moon withdraw itself; and therefore in our present darkness and troubles we should wait still upon God, and hope for a happy issue at last out of all.

Some refer all this to the spiritual reign of Christ, when his Gospel shall be spread abroad in the latter day, and the darkness of Mohammedism, paganism, and popery be utterly dispelled.
2nd, Farther blessings are promised to God's Israel.
1. Living waters shall go out from Jerusalem, even the Gospel, which began to be preached at Jerusalem, and went forth from east to west, into all parts of the world, and will continue to the end of time to flow, till the earth shall be covered with the knowledge of the Lord as the waters cover the sea.

2. Christ will erect an universal kingdom in the earth. All competitors will at last be destroyed: there shall be one Lord owned and acknowledged through the whole world: and his name one, every distinction of party, and difference of opinion and worship, will be laid aside, and all with one heart and one mouth shall unite in prayer and praise before him.

3. The church shall be glorious, abundantly replenished, and the abode of peace for ever. All the land shall be turned as a plain, every mountain and hill laid low, from Geba to Rimmon, all opposition destroyed, and Jerusalem, the Gospel-church, lifted up as a beacon on a hill, whither all the converts shall flock together; so that it shall be filled with inhabitants from one end to the other. Wars shall then cease; no civil discords nor ecclesiastical anathemas shall disturb the peace of God's people; they shall dwell in safety, and none evermore make them afraid.

4. The enemies of the church shall be utterly cut off. Their once pampered flesh shall be emaciated, and consume away; their eyes, full of covetousness, envy, and lasciviousness, shall rot in their sockets; and their tongues, defiled with blasphemy, reproach, and falsehood, shall perish. God will put his terrors in the midst of them; and in their confusion every man's sword shall be against his fellow, so that they shall be their own executioners. The saints of God, who go forth to fight, will have nothing to do but to gather the immensity of rich spoils; and the very beasts of these sinners shall share their plagues, and be destroyed with them.

3rdly, The destruction of the wicked shall bring a great accession of converts to the church.
1. Every one that is left—all who have been faithful to the grace of God offered to them, and who have dwelt among the enemies of Christ, shall now be brought home to him, and with his people go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles: not that these Jewish festivals will be then observed; but Christ's believing people will, with such joy as they testified on this occasion, commemorate his wonderful deliverance of them from the bondage of sin and Satan, and be ceaseless in their supplications to him that he would perfect their redemption, and bring them into the heavenly Canaan, the final and eternal rest which remaineth for the people of God.

2. They who refuse or neglect this holy worship shall be punished with famine; either literally, for want of rain the earth shall give them no food; or, spiritually, they shall be destitute of the heavenly influences of grace, and deprived of the Gospel; given up to the curse of barrenness, and perishing in their iniquities. And if Egypt, which owes its fertility to the overflowing of the Nile more than to the clouds, be found among those who are culpable, her punishment shall be the same: he, who prevents the rain from falling on others, will prevent the Nile from overflowing their land, and give them the same curse of barrenness and famine. Note; (1.) Though some sinners may think their situation will be a protection to them from the threatened evils, they will find that God's arm can as easily reach them as others. (2.) They who live in neglect of God's worship will surely die under his curse.

3. When the wicked are consumed, the church shall appear glorious in the beauty of holiness. Upon the very bells of their horses shall be engraven, as on the high-priest's mitre, Holiness unto the Lord, the people of Jesus being a holy priesthood, their profession public, their conversation exemplary; and in all their actions, civil as well as religious, one uniform tenor of holiness will appear. And the pots in the Lord's house, which the priests used in their apartments, shall be like the bowls before the altar, consecrated to God, and employed in a holy manner; God's spiritual priests making even their common meals a sacrifice, by their prayers, thanksgiving, and gracious use of God's creatures; whether they eat or drink, doing all to the glory of God. And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of Hosts, consecrated to his glory as the vessels of the sanctuary. And all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein, the ceremonial distinction between one vessel and another no longer subsisting, and the real holiness of heart and life in every member of the church rendering their offerings acceptable, through Jesus Christ, in every place. And in that day there shall he no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of Hosts, the church being thoroughly purged of all the ungodly and profane. O Lord, hasten the day!

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Zechariah 14". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. 1801-1803.