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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Zechariah 8

 

 

Verse 1

Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,

After urging them to obedience by the fate of their fathers, he urges them to it by promises of coming prosperity.


Verse 2

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy - (Zechariah 1:14).

With great fury - against her oppressors. As "jealousy" implies God's great love to her, and zeal for His safety and honour; so "fury" expresses His indignation against her enemies.


Verse 3

Thus saith the LORD I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.

I am returned unto Zion - i:e., I am determined to return. My decree to that effect is gone forth.

And Jerusalem shall be called, A city of truth - i:e., faithful to her God, who is the God of truth (Isaiah 1:21; Isaiah 1:26; John 17:17). Never yet fully fulfilled, therefore still to be so.

And the mountain of the Lord of hosts - (Isaiah 2:2-3).

The holy mountain - (Jeremiah 31:23).


Verse 4

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.

There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem. So tranquil and prosperous shall the nation be, that wars shall no longer prematurely cut off the people: men and women shall reach advanced ages. The promise of long life was esteemed one of the greatest blessings in the Jewish theocracy, with its temporal rewards of obedience (Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 4:40). Hence, this is a leading feature in millennial blessedness (Isaiah 65:20; Isaiah 65:22).

For very age - literally, for multitude of days.


Verse 5

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.

And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing - implying security and a numerous progeny, accounted a leading blessing among the Jews. Contrast Jeremiah 6:11; Jeremiah 9:21.


Verse 6

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvelous in mine eyes? - However impossible these things just promised by me seem to you, they are not so with God. The "remnant" that had returned from the captivity, beholding the city desolate, and the walls and houses in ruins, could hardly believe what God promised. The expression "remnant" implies their preservation by the grace of God amidst all the trials of the Babylonian captivity, and glances at their ingratitude in rating so low God's power, though they had experienced it so 'marvelously' displayed in their restoration. A great source of unbelief is, men 'limit' the power of "the Holy One of Israel" by their own (Ps. ,41 ).

In these days - "of small things" (Zechariah 4:10), when such great things promised seemed incredible. Maurer, after Jerome, translates 'in those days;' i:e., if the thing which I have promised to do, in those days yet to come, seem 'marvelous,' etc. The Hebrew [ haaheem (Hebrew #1992)] here used usually means those. A different Hebrew word (Zechariah 8:9) [ haa'eeleh (Hebrew #428)] is used of "these days,"


Verse 7

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;

Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from, the west - i e., from every region (cf. Psalms 50:1. The "east" is literally, 'the rising of the sun;' the "west" is literally, 'the going down of the sun [ mizraach (Hebrew #4217) ... m


Verse 8

And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.

They shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth - in good faith, both on their side and mine: God being faithful to His everlasting covenant, and enabling them by His Spirit to be faithful to Him.

In righteousness. On the part of Cod, whose "righteousness" is set forth in he justification of His people through Messiah: and on their part, in the acceptance of the righteousness of God by faith, whereby they justify God, and bring forth the fruits of righteousness to His praise.


Verses 9-13

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.

-All adversities formerly attended them when neglecting to build the temple; but now God promises all blossoms, as an encouragement to energy in the work. -- Let your hands be strong - be of courageous mind (2 Samuel 16:21, end), not merely in building, but in general, as having such bright prospects, (Zechariah 8:13, etc.)

Ye that hear in these days these words - "these days," including, besides the present time, all the time, counted backward, between the prophet's now speaking "these words" and the time (Zechariah 8:10 : cf. Haggai 2:15-19) when they first set about in earnest restoring the temple (Ezra 3:12). "These words" include all the exhortations of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah, not only to perseverance on building the temple, but to truth, equity, and mercy (see Zechariah 8:16-17).

The prophets - Haggai and Zechariah himself (Ezra 5:1-2). The same prophets who promised prosperity at the rounding of the temple now promise yet greater blessings hereafter.

Verse 10. For before these days - before the time in which ye again proceeded with the building of the temple (Zechariah 8:9) - namely, at the time that the temple lay neglected.

There was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast - i:e., no produce of the field to repay the labour of man and beast on it (Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:9-10; Haggai 2:16).

Neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in - (2 Chronicles 15:5). No one could in safety do his business at home or abroad, in the city or in the country, whether going or returning.

Because of the affliction - so sorely pressed were they by the foe outside. Maurer translates [ hatsaar (Hebrew #6862)], 'because of the foe' (Ezra 4:1; Ezra 4:4, "The adversaries (the same Hebrew as here) of Judah" who "weakened the hands of the people ... and troubled them in building." But the Septuagint and the Vulgate support the English version.

Every one against his neighbour. There was intense discord, as well as "foes" from without.

Verse 11. But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the Lord of hosts - `But, now that the temple has been built, I will not do as I had formerly done to those who returned from Babylon' (Jerome). Henceforth, I will bless you because of your obedience in diligently building My temple.

Verse 12. For the seed shall be prosperous - i:e. shall not fail to yield abundantly (Hosea 2:21-22; Haggai 2:19). Contrast with this verse Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:9-11; Haggai 2:16.

The heavens shall give their dew - especially beneficial in hot countries, where rain is rare.

Verse 13. As ye were a curse ... so ... ye shall be a blessing - as the pagan have made you another name for a curse, wishing to their foes as bad a lot as yours (Jeremiah 24:9; Jeremiah 29:18), so your name shall be a formula of blessing, so that men shall say to their friend, May thy lot be as happy as that of Judah! (Genesis 48:20.) Including also the idea of the Jews being a source of blessing the Gentile nations (Micah 5:7; Zephaniah 3:20).

O house of Judah, and house of Israel. The distinct mention of "Judah" and "Israel" proves that the prophecy has not yet had its full accomplishment, since Israel (the ten tribes) has never yet been restored, though individuals of Israel returned with Judah.


Verse 14

For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:

As I thought - I determined.

To punish you - i:e., your fathers, with whom ye are one; the Jewish Church of all ages being regarded as an organic whole (cf. Haggai 2:5; Matthew 23:31-32).

When your fathers provoked me ... and I repented not - I changed not my purpose because they changed not their mind (2 Chronicles 36:16). With the froward, God shows Himself froward (Psalms 18:26). If the threatened punishment has been so unchangeably inflicted, much more will God surely give the promised blessing, which is so much more consonant to His nature (Jeremiah 31:28).


Verse 15

So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.

No JFB commentary on this verse.


Verse 16-17

These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:

-The promised blessings are connected with obedience-God's covenanted grace will lead those truly blessed by it to holiness, not licentiousness.

Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour - not that the truth should not be spoken to foreigners too; but he makes it an aggravation of their sin that they spared not even their brethren. Besides and above all outward ordinances (Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 7:9), God requires truth and justice.

Execute the judgment of truth and peace. Equitable decisions tend to allay feuds and produce peace.

In your gates - the place where courts of judicature in the East were held.

Verse 17. For all these are things that I hate - therefore ye, too, ought to hate them. Religion consists in conformity to God's nature-that we should love what God loves, and hate what God hates.


Verse 18-19

And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,

-The prophet answers the query (Zechariah 7:3) as to the fast in the fifth month, by a reply applying to all their fasts: these are to be turned into days of rejoicing.-So Jesus replied to His disciples when similarly consulting Him as to why fasting was not imposed by Him, as it was by John the Baptist. When the Sun of Righteousness shines, tears are dried up (Matthew 9:15). So hereafter (Isaiah 35:10).

The fast of the fourth month. On the 4th month of the 11th year of Zedekiah's reign on the 9th day, Jerusalem was taken (Jeremiah 29:2; Jeremiah 52:6-7). It was therefore made a fast day.

And the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh - (notes, Zechariah 7:3-5).

And the fast of the tenth - on the 10th month and 10th day in the 9th year of Zedekiah, the siege began (Jeremiah 52:4).

Shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts - i:e., the fasts shall be turned into feasts of joy, gladness, and cheerfulness.

Therefore love the truth - or, 'only love the truth and peace;' i:e., only, with this proviso-namely, that ye "love the truth and peace" - your fasts shall be turned into feasts. The English version is better. God's blessing covenanted to Israel is not made to depend on Israel's goodness: but Israel's goodness should follow as the consequence of God's gracious promises (Zechariah 8:16-17; Zechariah 7:9-10). God will bless, but not in order that men may harden themselves in sin.


Verse 20

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:

It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities - (Isaiah 2:3; Micah 4:2).

Thus saith the Lord of hosts - a preface needed to assure the Jews, now disheartened by the perils surrounding them, and by the humble aspect of the temple, 'Unlikely as what follows may seem to you, Yahweh of hosts, boundless in resources, saith it, therefore it shall he so.' Just before Christ's coming, a feeling grew up among the pagan of the unsatisfactoriness of their systems of religion and philosophy; this disposed them favourably toward the religion of the Jew, so that proselytes embraced the worship of Yahweh from various parts of Asia; these again were predisposed to embrace Christianity when preached to them (Acts 2:9-12; Acts 2:41). But the full accomplishment of the conversion of the Gentiles foretold here is reserved until "Jerusalem" (Zechariah 8:22) becomes the center of Christianized Jewry (Romans 11:12; Romans 11:15).


Verse 21

And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.

Let us ... I will go also - manifesting} zeal and love: converted themselves, they seek the conversion of others (Song of Solomon 1:4, "Draw me, we will run after thee"). To exhortation in general ("Let us go"), they add individual example ("I Will go"), Or, the change from plural to singular implies that the general consent in religious earnestness leads each individual to decide for God.

Go speedily - literally, go, going; implying intense earnestness and persevering determination.

To pray before the Lord - Hebrew, to entreat the face of the Lord (Zechariah 7:2); to entreat His favour and grace.


Verse 22

Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.

Many people and strong nations shall come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem - in contrast to the few and weak Jews now building the temple and city, then such shall be their influence that many and strong nations shall come to worship Yahweh their God in Jerusalem (Isaiah 60:3; Isaiah 66:23).


Verse 23

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.

In those days ... ten men - "ten," a definite number for an indefinite. So in Leviticus 26:26; Numbers 14:22.

Out of all languages of the nations - i:e., out of nations of all languages (cf. Isaiah 66:18; Revelation 7:9).

Shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew - a gesture of suppliant entreaty as to a superior. Compare Isaiah 3:6; Isaiah 4:1, on a different occasion. The Gentiles shall eagerly seek to share the religious privileges of the Jew. The skirt with a fringe and blue ribbon upon it (Numbers 15:38; Deuteronomy 22:12) was a distinguishing badge of a Jew.

Saying ... God is with you - the effect which, according to Paul, was often produced on unbelievers in entering the assemblies of the Church (1 Corinthians 14:25). But, primarily, that produced on the nations in witnessing the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus. Finally, that to be produced on the nations by the future grand interposition of Messiah in behalf of His people.

Remarks:

(1) The love of God, and His gracious promises, are even stronger motives to urge His people to repentance, faith, and obedience, than His threats. Though He has punished Zion for her sins (Zechariah 8:2), yet He still loves her; and therefore He is "jealous for her with great jealousy," and is indignant against her adversaries. The time accordingly shall yet come when Jerusalem shall be no longer unfaithful to her God, but "shall be called, A city of truth" (Zechariah 8:3).

(2) Not until God is returned unto" His people do they truly return unto Him (Zechariah 8:3). He must first turn us unto Himself, so shall we be turned (Jeremiah 31:18-19; Lamentations 5:21).

(3) The consequence of God's return to His people, and of His "dwelling in the midst of" them (Zechariah 8:3), shall be, they shall enjoy every national, social, and personal blessing (Zechariah 8:4-5). When God, in accordance with His everlasting covenant of grace, shall have taken away His people's sin, He will take away all their sorrows and sufferings forever.

(4) How much larger are God's infinite mercies than man's narrow conceptions! Too often even the Lord's people limit the powers of the Holy One of Israel to the petty measure of their own puny abilities. What is "marvelous," yea, even impossible, "in the eyes of men (Zechariah 8:6), is nothing marvelous or impossible with God. Nothing is impossible, or even hard; but everything is sure to come to pass which God hath premised (Luke 1:20; Luke 1:37). And however hard to conceive, so wonderful and universal a conversion as that of Israel and of the nations may appear now, in our present low state of Christianity, the same Almighty Spirit which moved upon the dark waters of creation, can cause the spiritual light of the glorious Gospel of Christ to shine over the whale earth from Jerusalem.

(5) Those whose hands are busy in duty shall have them strengthened with the promises of divine mercy. As all adversities befell the Jews while they neglected to labour in the house of the Lord, so all blessings were appointed as their portion now that they were bringing forth the fruits of faith and obedience (Zechariah 8:10-12). And these blessings are but the guarantee of greater ones which yet await the people when they shall turn to the Lord (Zechariah 8:13). As their name has been long made a name for "a curse," so shall it be a name of "blessing," the people being at once blessed themselves, and becoming the source of blessing to all others. For as surely as God has been faithful to His threats of punishment for their sin, so shall He be faithful to His promises of mercy, according to His electing love and His covenant of grace.

(6) God's covenanted grace is inseparably connected with His peoples obedience. There can be no blessedness and happiness apart from righteousness and holiness (Zechariah 8:16-17). True religion and its consequence, peace, necessarily imply conformity to the image of our Lord-that we should, love what God loves, and hate what God "hates" (Zechariah 8:17).

(7) The presence of the Lord with His people turns the mournful fast of His people into the joyous and cheerful feast (Zechariah 8:19) But it is a feast of spiritual "gladness." God blesses His people, that they may "love" Him, and therefore "love the truth and peace"

(8) Already, in some measure, the Lord has poured out on His people the Spirit of prayer, so that in many places men have stirred up one another, saying, "Let us go speedily to pray before the Lord, and to seek the Lord of hosts" (Zechariah 8:21). This gracious spirit is carefully to be cherished: and in no better way can each do so than by personal example, acting on the words, "I will go also" Let us seek to have collectively and individually, this spirit of supplication. So shall we have therein the pledge of still greater and more universal blessings to come.

(9) The past fulfillments of God's Word are an assurance that the remaining prophecies, wonderful as are the things which they promise, shall also be all fulfilled. The time shall come when all nations and tongues shall know that "God is of a truth with" His people, and so will desire to be joined to them, saying, "We will go with you" (Zechariah 8:23). Meanwhile, let us Christians be so plainly seen to have the Lord with us and in us, that unbelievers may be attracted to take their portion with us for time and for eternity!

Written long after the previous portions of the book, whence arise the various features which have been made grounds for attacking their authenticity, notwithstanding the testimony of the Septuagint, and of the compliers of the, Jewish canon, in their favour. (See 'Introduction.')

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 8:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/zechariah-8.html. 1871-8.

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Sunday, November 17th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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