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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Zechariah 4



Verse 1

And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep, And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,

The golden candlestick and the two olive trees-The temple shall be completed by the aid of God's Spirit.

And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me. The prophet was lying in a state of ecstatic slumber, with astonishment at the previous vision. "Came again, and waked me," does not imply that the angel had departed and now returned, but is an idiom for "waked me again."

Verse 2

And said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:

Behold, a candlestick - or chandelier with seven lights: borrowed from the candlestick of the Mosaic tabernacle (Ezek. , etc.), symbolizing the Jewish theocracy, and ultimately the Church, of which the Jewish portion is to be the head: the light-bearer (so the original [foosteeres] is of "lights," Philippians 2:15, "among whom ye shine as lights in the world;" cf. Matthew 5:14; Matthew 5:16) to the world.

All of gold - all pure in doctrine and practice, precious and indestructible; such is the true ideal of the Church; such she shall be (Psalms 45:13).

With a bowl upon the top of it - in the candlestick of the tabernacle the plural is used, bowls (Exodus 25:31). The Hebrew [ gulaah (Hebrew #1543), Song of Solomon 4:12] implies that it was the fountain of supply of oil to the lamps. 'A candlestick, with its bowl' or 'spring' for supply. Christ at the head ("upon the top") of the Church is the true fountain, of whose fullness of the Spirit all we receive grace (John 1:16).

And his seven lamps thereon - united in one stem; so in Exodus 25:32. But in Revelation 1:12 the seven candlesticks are separate. The Gentile churches will not realize their unity until the Jewish Church, as the stem, unites all the lamps in one candlestick (Romans 11:16-24). The "seven lamps" in Revelation 4:5 are the "seven Spirits of God" - i:e., the Holy Spirit, in His infinite fullness and perfection.

And seven pipes to the seven lamps - feeding tubes, seven a-piece from the "bowl" to each lamp (see margin, Maurer and Calvin) [ shib`aah (Hebrew #7651) w

Verse 3

And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.

And two olive trees by it - supplying oil to the bowl. The Holy Spirit is meant, who fills with His fullness Messiah (the anointed, the "bowl"), from whom flow supplies of grace to the Church. The Holy Spirit supplies with His infinite fullness Jesus the "bowl," or fount at the head of the Church, for the two-fold function (answering to the two olive trees) of bringing to man the grace of atonement, as our great Priest, and the grace of sanctification and glorification, as our King.

By it , [ `aaleyhaa (Hebrew #5921)] - literally upon it - i:e., growing so as somewhat to overtop it. For the explanation of the "two," see Zechariah 4:12; Zechariah 4:14.

Verse 4

So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?

What are these, my lord? The prophet instructed in the truths meant, that we may read them with the greater reverence and attention (Calvin).

Verse 5

Then the angel that talked with me answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

Then the angel that talked with me answered ... Knowest thou not what these be? Not a reproof of his ignorance, but a stimulus to reflection on the mystery.

And I said, No, my lord - ingenuous confession of ignorance: as a little child, he casts himself for instruction at the feet of the lord.

Verse 6

Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.

This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit. As the lamps burned continually, supplied with oil from a source (the living olive trees) which man did not make, so Zerubbabel need not be disheartened because of his weakness; because as the work is one to be effected by the living Spirit which God had promised should "remain among" His people (cf. Haggai 2:5), man's weakness is no obstacle; because God's might will perfect strength out of weakness (Hosea 1:7; 2 Corinthians 12:9-10; Hebrews 11:34). "Might" and "power" express human strength of every, description, physical, mental, or moral. Or, "might" is the strength of many combined [an "army," literally, chayil (Hebrew #2428)]; "power," that of one man (Pembellus). [Others make kowach, "power," to signify strenuousness and mighty exploits: chayil (Hebrew #2428), "might," valour, ability.] God can save, "whether with many, or with them that have no power" (2 Chronicles 14:11 : cf. 1 Samuel 14:6, "There is no restraint to the Lord, to save by many or by few"). So, in the conversion of sinners, the whole work is God's ultimately; ministers are only "mighty through God" (1 Corinthians 3:6; 2 Corinthians 10:4). "Zerubbabel" is addressed as the chief civil authority in directing the work.

Verse 7

Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.

Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain - all mountain-like obstacles (Isaiah 40:4; Isaiah 49:11) in Zerubbabel's way shall be removed, so that the crowning topstone shall be put on, and the completion of the work be acknowledged as wholly of "grace." Antitypically, the Antichristian last foe of Israel, the obstacle preventing her establishment in Palestine, about to be crushed before Messiah, "the stone cut out of the mountain without hands," is probably meant (it is foreshadowed by Babylon, the "destroying mountain," Jeremiah 51:25; Daniel 2:34; Daniel 2:45; Matthew 21:44).

And he shall bring forth the head-stone thereof - primarily, He shall bring it forth from the place where it was chiseled, and give it to the workmen to put on the top of the building. It was customary for chief magistrates to lay the foundation and also the crowning top-stone (cf. Ezra 3:10). Antitypically, the reference is to the time when the full number of spiritual Israel, the Church, shall be completed, and also when "all (literal) Israel shall be saved" (cf. Romans 11:26; Hebrews 11:40; Hebrews 12:22-23; Rev. 7:49 ).

With shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it! The repetition expresses, Grace, perfect; grace from first to last (margin, Isaiah 26:3; Isaiah 57:19). Thus the Jews are urged to pray perseveringly and earnestly that the same grace which completed it may always preserve it. "Shoutings," of acclamation, "with a great shout ... of joy," accompanied the foundation of the literal temple (Ezra 3:11; Ezra 3:13). So shoutings, of "Hosanna" greeted the Saviour in entering Jerusalem (Matthew 21:9), when about to complete the purchase of salvation by His death: His body being the second temple, or place of God's inhabitation (John 2:20-21). So, when the full number of the saints and of Israel shall be complete, and God shall say, "It is done," then again shall "a great voice of much people in heaven" attribute all to the "grace" of God, saying, "Alleluia! Salvation, and glory, and honour, and power unto the Lord our God" (Revelation 19:1; Revelation 19:6). Psalms 118:22 regards Him as "the head-stone of the corner" - i:e., the foundation-stone. Compare the angels' acclamations at His birth, Luke 2:14. Here it is the top-stone. Messiah is not only the "Author," but also the "Finisher of our faith" (Hebrews 12:2). "Grace" is ascribed "unto it" - i:e., the stone, Messiah. Hence, the benediction begins, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Corinthians 13:14).

Verse 8

Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 9

The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you.

The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it - (Ezra 6:15). This came to pass "on the third day of the month Adar," in the sixth year of Darius' reign.

And thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you - (Zechariah 2:9). The Divine Angel announces that in what He has just spoken, He has been commissioned by God the Eather.

Verse 10

For who hath despised the day of small things? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.

For who hath despised the day of small things? He reproves their ungrateful unbelief, which they felt because of the humble beginning compared with the greatness of the undertaking; and encourages them with the assurance that their progress in the work, though small, was an earnest of great and final success, because Yahweh's eye is upon Zerubbabel and the work, to support him with His favour. Contrast "great shall be the day of Jezreel" (Hosea 1:11) with "the day small of things" here.

For they shall rejoice ... with those seven; they are the eyes of the Lord - rather (as there is no with in the Hebrew), 'they, even those seven eyes of the Lord (cf. Zechariah 3:9), which run to and fro though the whole earth, shall rejoice and see (i:e., shall rejoicingly see) the plummet (literally, the stone of tin) in the hand of Zerubbabel' (Moore): the plummet in his hand indicating that the work is going forward to its completion. The Hebrew punctuation and collocation of the words, however, favour the English version, of which the sense is, They who incredulously "despised" such "small" beginnings of the work as are made now, shall rejoicingly see it going on to completion under Zerubbabel, "with" (the aid of) those seven" - namely, the "seven eyes upon one stone" (Zechariah 3:9); which are explained, "they are the eyes of the Lord which," etc. (Pembellus.) So differently do men and Yahweh regard the "small" beginnings of God's work. Thus "many of the priests and Levites, and chief of the fathers, who were ancient men, that had seen the first house, when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, wept with a loud voice" (Ezra 3:12; Haggai 2:3). Men "despised" the work in its early stage: God rejoicingly regards it, and shall continue to do so.

Which run to and fro through the whole earth. Nothing in the whole earth escapes the eye of Yahweh, so that He can ward off all danger from His people, come from what quarter it may, and can "open great and effectual doors of usefulness," in spite of the "many adversaries," in prosecuting His work (Proverbs 15:3; 1 Corinthians 16:9).

Verse 11-12

Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof?

What are these two olive trees? Zechariah three times (Zechariah 4:4; Zechariah 4:11-12) asks as to the two olives before he gets an answer; the question becomes more minute each time. What he at first calls "two olive trees," he afterward calls "branches," as, on closer looking, he observes that the "branches" of the trees are the channels through which a continual flow of oil drops into the bowl of the lamps (Zechariah 4:2), and that this is the purpose for which the two olive trees stand beside the candlestick. Primarily, the "two" refer to Joshua and Zerubbabel. God, says Auberlen, at each of the transition periods of the world's history, has sent great men to guide the Church. So the two witnesses shall appear before the destruction of Antichrist.

Antitypically, "the two anointed ones" (Zechariah 4:14) are the two-fold supports of the Church, the civil power (answering to Zerubbabel) and the ecclesiastical (answering to Joshua the high priest), which, in the restored Jewish polity and temple, shall "stand by," i:e., minister to, "the Lord of the whole earth," as He shall be called in the day that He sets up His throne in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:9; Daniel 2:44; Revelation 11:15). Compare the description of the offices of the "priests" and "prince;" and in Isaiah 49:23, being the nursing fathers of the Church, and of Israel and Jerusalem primarily; and Ezekiel 44:1-31; Ezekiel 45:1-25; Ezekiel 46:1-24. As in Revelation 11:3-4, the "two witnesses" are identified with the two olive trees and the two candlesticks. Wordsworth explains them to mean the Law and the Gospel: the two Testaments that witness in the Church for the truth of God. But this is at variance with the sense here, which requires Joshua and Zerubbabel to be primarily meant. So Moses (the prophet and lawgiver) and Aaron (the high priest) ministered to the Lord among the covenant-people at the exodus; Ezekiel (the priest) and Daniel (a ruler) in the Babylonian captivity; so it shall be in restored Israel. Some think Elijah will appear again (cf. the transfiguration-the type of the millennial Church-wherein Elijah and Moses appear, Matthew 17:3; Matthew 17:11, with Malachi 4:4-5; John 1:21) with Moses. Revelation 11:16, which mentions the very miracles performed by Elijah and Moses (shutting heaven, so as not to rain, and turning water into blood), favours this (cf. Exodus 7:19; 1 Kings 17:1; Luke 4:25; James 5:16-17). The period is the same, "three years and six months;" the scene also is in Israel-Jerusalem (Revelation 11:8), "where our Lord was crucified."

It is supposed that for the first three and a half years, of the hebdomad (Daniel 9:1-27) God will be worshipped in the temple; in the latter three and a half years Antichrist will break the covenant (Daniel 9:27), and set himself up in the temple to be worshipper as God (2 Thessalonians 2:4). The witnesses prophesy the former three and a half years, while corruptions prevail and "faith" is rare (Luke 18:8); then they are slain, and remain dead three and a half years. Probably, besides individual witnesses and literal years, there is a fulfillment in long periods and general witnesses, such as the Church and the Word, the civil and religious powers, so far as they have witnessed for God.

So "the beast" in Revelation answers to the civil power of the apostasy; "the false prophet" to the spiritual power. Man needs the priest to atone for guilt, and the prophet king to teach holiness with kingly authority. These two typically united in Melchizedek were divided between two until they meet in Messiah the antitype. Zechariah 6:11-13 accords with this. The Holy Spirit in this His two-fold power of applying to man the grace of the atonement through Christ our high priest, and that of sanctification and glorification through Christ our King, must in one point of view be meant by the two olive trees which supply the bowl at the top of the candlestick - i:e., Messiah at the head of the Church; because it is He who filled Jesus with all the fullness of His unction (John 3:34). But this does not exclude the primary application to Joshua and Zerubbabel, the two that were "anointed" (Zechariah 4:14) with grace, to minister to the Jewish Church: and so applicable to the two-fold supports of the Church, who are anointed with the Spirit, the prince and the priest, or minister. For as He is the two-fold "tree," so they are the "branches." This probably is the design of the change of phrase from "trees" to "branches" (Zechariah 4:3; Zechariah 4:11-12). So the Lord Jesus saith, "I am the vine, ye are the branches" (John 15:5).

Branches , [shibelet] - literally, ears; so the olive branches are called, because as ears are full of grain, so the olive branches are full of olives.

Which through - literally, by the hand of - i:e., by the agency of "the golden pipes."

Empty the golden oil - literally, gold - i:e., gold-like liquor.

Out of themselves. Ordinances and ministers are channels of grace, not the grace itself. The supply comes not from a dead reservoir of oil, but through living olive trees (Psalms 52:8; Romans 12:1) fed by God.

Verse 13

And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.

And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? God would awaken his people to zeal in learning His truth.

Verse 14

Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the LORD of the whole earth.

Then said he, These are the two anointed ones [ b


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 4:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". 1871-8.

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Thursday, January 23rd, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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