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Bible Commentaries

Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible

Zechariah 6

CHAP. VI.

The vision of the four chariots. By the crowns of Joshua are shewed the temple and kingdom of Christ, the Branch.

Before Christ 519.

THE main design and purport of the eighth and last vision, contained in the first part of this chapter, was to confirm the Jews in their faith and dependence upon God, by shewing them that, weak and defenceless as they seemed to be, they had nothing to fear from the greatest earthly powers, while they remained under the divine protection; since all those powers were the instruments of his providence, and could not subsist nor act but under his permission. After this the prophet is favoured with another revelation respecting a kingdom different from all the preceding, mentioned in the former part of the chapter. By God's command, in the presence of witnesses, and for a memorial to them, he places a crown, or crowns, upon the head of Joshua the high-priest, thereby constituting him a type of Christ the Branch, whom he proclaims as about to come to build the spiritual temple of Jehovah, and to preside over it, both as king and priest, for the great purpose of peace. The accession of strangers to assist in building the temple is foretold, and given as a proof of the prophet's divine mission.

Verses 1-3

Zechariah 6:1-3. Behold, there came four chariots These denote the four great empires which subdued the then known parts of the world. They are represented as coming from between two mountains, because mountains are the natural barriers which divide kingdoms; and which, though strong as brass, and here supposed to be broken through by those who invade and conquer their neighbours. This may expressly denote the narrow passage in Cilicia, through which the Babylonians and Persians, Alexander and his generals, passed into Syria, Judaea, and Egypt. These four chariots are said to be driven by four angels, Zec 6:5 or four princes, executors of the vengeance of the Lord. The colour of their horses is not without its mystery: the red horses denote the empire of the Chaldeans, bloody and cruel, particularly toward the Jews: the second chariot represents the Persian monarchy; and the black horses denote the sad state of the Jews under the successors of Cyrus in the Persian empire, when their enemies forged calumnies against them, and thereby put a stop to the building of the temple, and the whole nation was on the point of being destroyed by the interest of Haman in the Persian court. The third chariot, with white horses, denotes Alexander and his victories, who established the third great monarchy, and shewed much kindness to the Jews in confirming their religion, laws, and liberties. It was usual for conquerors to ride on white horses in the days of triumph. The fourth chariot, with grisled and bay horses, denotes the Roman empire; and the various colours of the horses, the various forms of the Roman government. The reader will observe, that the angel who explains the vision to Zechariah, says nothing of the first chariot, because the empire denoted by it no longer subsisted. See Zec 6:6 and Lowth and Calmet.

Verse 8

Zechariah 6:8. Then cried he upon me,—behold Then cried he unto me,—behold, &c. "The black horses, denoting the Persian empire, have appeased my wrath by conquering the Babylonians, and by executing that vengeance upon them, which they deserved for their cruelty towards my people." The word רוה ruach, rendered spirit, often signifies anger. See Grotius and Houbigant.

Verse 9

Zechariah 6:9. Came unto me After the night on which the foregoing eight visions were represented to the prophet.

Verse 10

Zechariah 6:10. Take of them of the captivity, &c.— Take a gift from the captives of the family of Heldai, namely from Tobijah, and from Jedaiah, and come, &c. into the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah, who is come from Babylon; Zec 6:11 even take the silver and the gold, &c. The persons here spoken of were those who brought the gold from Babylon, destined for the temple. Bishop Chandler observes, that the prophet's speech is directed to Joshua only; the two crowns are put only on the head of Joshua; to him only it is said, Behold the man whose name is the Branch; as much as to say, "Behold the sign of the Branch whom I promised to David in Solomon, and by the prophets after David to the Jews, by the name of the Branch."—He shall grow up from under him, out of David's root, his tribe and family; and shall build the temple which the Lord delights in, and act therein both as king and priest, (Zechariah 6:13.) that there be no more clashing of jurisdictions between the two dignities. Not a word of Zerubbabel in all this; the whole action and discourse centers in Joshua. Zerabbabel was then head of the captivity, and in right their king; but he enjoyed neither the name nor ensigns of majesty, nor had he the authority of the kings of Persia, though their substitute, to enforce obedience to the Jewish laws: such authority was not granted to the Jews before the reign of Artaxerxes Longimanus. The jurisdiction bring then voluntary, it seems to have lain chiefly in the high-priest, as being best able to carry it on without civil sanctions; and in his assistants in counsel, of which Zerubbabel was principal. At least, there is nothing said of Zerubbabel in this book but what is ministerial: and the temple being finished, his commission probably was recalled, and he remanded to Babylon, where, as the Jews say, he died. For this cause Zechariah might pass by Zerubbabel, and prefer Joshua to be the representative of the Branch to come; but especially, lest in crowning one of the house of David the people should mistake him for the Messiah, and raise a jealousy of him in the Persians. To provide against these consequences, he put the crowns on a high-priest from whose tribe the Messiah was known not to descend. Thus he was secure that they would suppose Joshua to be nothing more than a type of the Messiah; and that he was crowned, not for his own sake, but in figure of another who should in truth be king. They must be led to such a judgment, the rather from the prophet's address to Joshua and his assessors, chap. Zechariah 3:8. Joshua being distinguished as one of those typical persons meant by men of wonder, when the prophet, directing God's words to him, who was in no sense the Branch they expected, adds, Behold my servant the Branch, it was hardly possible they should misconstrue his words, or fancy that Joshua was principally intended in the prophesy. See Bishop Chandler's Defence, p. 200. Houbigant in the 11th verse, instead of crowns, reads crown.

Verse 14

Zechariah 6:14. And the crowns shall be to Helem And the crowns shall be for the family of Heldai, namely, to Tobijah, &c. Houbigant. See 1Ma 1:23; 1Ma 4:57. Though the last verse may refer literally to the Jews, and other artificers flowing in from all parts to build the temple; yet it has had, and will have, its more ample completion in the conversion of the world to Christ, that true temple of the living God. See Isa 60:10 and John 2:19.

REFLECTIONS.—1st, The vision of this chapter is of very difficult interpretation. The chariots coming from between the brazen mountains are supposed by some to represent,

1. The apostles and ministers of the Gospel, going forth into all lands. The different colours of the horses may denote their various messages of wrath or mercy; their ministry is accompanied with the powerful operations of the Spirit, compared to the wind, which acts invisibly; and they are sent from Christ, the Lord of the whole earth, to the different parts of the world; and by their labours sinners are brought back to God's favour, and his wrath is turned away, his Spirit quieted towards them. Or,

2. These signify the angelic hosts, the spirits of the heavens, coming forth from the mount of God into the earth, as executioners of God's commands, and instruments of wrath or mercy according as God is pleased to send them; and when they have gone to and fro, and accomplished their ministry, God is well pleased, and his Spirit quieted and refreshed. Or,

3. These are the four monarchies, called the winds of the heaven, Daniel 7:2. The Babylonish is represented by the red horses, the Persian by the black, the Grecian by the white, and the Roman by the grisled and bay horses, who walked to and fro in the earth, or through the land of Judaea, and subdued it. And a peculiar notice is taken of those who went forth into the north country, they have quieted my Spirit, having avenged on the Babylonians the violence that they had used towards God's captive Israel. Or,

4. They refer to the dispensations of Divine Providence in general. His chariots run at his will; chariots of love to his faithful people, to whom all things work together for good; chariots of war to his enemies, whom he treads under his horses' feet: from him the ministers of Providence take their directions, and each in his sphere accomplishes the work that is given him to do, and God is well pleased in beholding the counsels of his own will fulfilled by them.
2nd, Before, God taught the people by visions; here, he teaches them by type and figure.
1. Joshua the high-priest is crowned by Zechariah with crowns of gold and silver, made of the offerings which Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah brought from Babylon, and in their presence. They who came not yet up to the temple, sent their presents thither, and with their gifts endeavoured to compensate for their absence. The crowns on Joshua were designed to intimate the union of the kingly and sacerdotal offices in him whom he prefigured, and whose name he bore.
2. A prophesy, founded on this figure, is delivered to Joshua. Thus speaketh the Lord of Hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The Branch, the divine Messiah; and he shall grow up out of his place, from Bethlehem-Ephratah, the city appointed for the place of his birth; and he shall build the temple of the Lord, the gospel-church, of which he is the great architect; and by his power alone it is raised up and established; even he shall build the temple of the Lord; so God hath determined; and he shall bear the glory, to him the entire glory of it shall be ascribed; and every faithful member of that church will with delight cast down his golden crown at his feet; and own that he, who alone hath won it, deserves to wear it for ever; and he shall sit and rule upon his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne, having all power delivered to him, and able to save to the uttermost all that come unto God by him, in virtue of the oblation once offered: as a priest God hath highly exalted him; and as he ever lives to plead for his faithful saints, so, as their glorious king, he reigns to save them from all iniquity: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both; either between Jehovah and the man the Branch, or between the kingly and sacerdotal offices of Christ; or the counsel of peace is the Gospel, preached to both Jew and Gentile; and uniting them together in love. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the Lord, either for a constant testimony of the generous liberality of these good men; or to put the people in mind of him who should come, and to whom the crowns particularly referred. And they that are far off shall come, either the Jews yet in Babylon, or the Gentiles, Eph 2:12-13 who should be called by grace into the participation of all the privileges of the Gospel, and build in the temple of the Lord, as workers together helping forward the work of God; and by their labours bringing souls to Jesus Christ, as lively stones to be built upon him, the one great and glorious foundation; and ye shall know that the Lord of Hosts hath sent me unto you, the accomplishment of the prophesy would be a proof of his divine mission. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God: that is to say, as many as proved faithful and obedient would be convinced of the prophet's divine authority; or if they used their diligence in building the temple, God would take care that they should not want every needful assistance. Note; When we improve the graces and talents that we are intrusted with, then God giveth more grace.

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Bibliographical Information
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Zechariah 6". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/tcc/zechariah-6.html. 1801-1803.