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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 10

 

 

Introduction

The occurrence of a new heading, "The burden of the word of the Lord," which occurs again in Zechariah 12:1, and elsewhere only in Malachi 1:1, warns us that a new section begins here. We are no longer concerned with Joshua and Zerubbabel, the small community of Judah, and the hopes and aspirations of their time, but to a great extent with a larger Judaism which is in conflict with a world-power described as Greek, whose strongholds are not Babylon, but Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and the Philistine towns. No Jewish king or governor is mentioned, and the High Priest appears to be the head of the subject Jewish community. At the same time there is a sharp cleavage in the Jewish community itself; Judah and Jerusalem are opposed to one another, and the greatest Jewish families are regarded as blameworthy. The post-exilic date of Zechariah 9-14 is certain, not merely from the absence of any reference to a king, but also from the widespread dispersion of the Jews, from the mention of Greeks, and from the utter difference in tone between this section and the utterances of the pre-exilic prophets. The mention of Egypt and Assyria side by side is not in itself evidence for a pre-exilic date, since in Ezra 6:22, which can scarcely be earlier than the Greek period, "Assyria" denotes the great empire of W. Asia, which, having originally been Assyrian, passed successively to the Chaldeans, the Persians, and the Greeks (Numbers 24:22 f.*, Isaiah 11:11*, Isaiah 27:13). A late date is also suggested by the obvious use of other passages of Scripture, particularly Ezek. Here, as in Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, we have compositions saturated with Biblical terms, evidently emanating from "the people of a book." There are likewise numerous agreements with late Pss. and late post-exilic sections of Is. Like many of the Pss., these chapters appear to have been composed in a time of storm and stress, when the Jews were oppressed by the heathen, and disunited among themselves; and of such a time we have no record before the second century B.C. That they are written in classical Heb. as distinct from the Heb. of the Midrash is no proof to the contrary; for not only did Ben Sira (c. 180 B.C.) write in the older language, but many of the Pss. are as late as the Maccabean age. Space forbids at this point a detailed examination of these six chapters. It must suffice to state what will afterwards be shown in detail that, apart from some points as yet unexplained on any theory of date, every section of these chapters is quite consistent with the known history of the second century B.C. It is scarcely conceivable that a number of compositions dealing both with internal and external affairs should be equally applicable to two or more distinct periods.

These chapters fall into two main divisions (note the new heading in Zechariah 12:1, though the divisions are not necessarily homogeneous). Hebrew methods of arrangement, being based originally on oral rather than on written tradition, are fundamentally different from English; catchwords and prominent phrases being considered rather than logical arrangement. The analytical study of the Synoptic Gospels has shown that an apparently continuous section may be made up of many disjointed fragments, and this fact must be kept in view in the criticism of prophetical literature.

Of the two sections into which. Zechariah 9-14 falls, the first (Zechariah 9-11) is in the main poetical or based upon poetical prophecies, the second (Zechariah 12-14) is entirely prose. In Zechariah 9-11, however, there are some evident divisions, and perhaps we have hero the work of several authors. The mere fact that two poems are composed in a somewhat unusual metre does not prove, apart from subject-matter, that they are from the same hand, for a poet who produced a great impression by a novel form of verse may well have had imitators. If the date given above is correct (the second century B.C.), we may assume that the prophecies were first published in synagogues, and that, after the triumph of the Maccaban party, they passed to Jerusalem and became incorporated in the Scriptures. Sirach 49:10 tells us nothing as to the contents of the books of the twelve, the Minor Prophets, as we call them. A new edition of the Heb. text of Jeremiah, enlarged and rearranged, was issued after the Gr. translation had been made from an earlier edition; and though no new name would have been received as canonical, it was evidently possible for some time after the fixing of the list of canonical prophets to enlarge a canonical book by the incorporation of additional matter.


Verse 1

Zechariah 10:1 f. An isolated fragment addressed to the nation in the time of its deepest distress, probably during the persecution under Antiochus Epiphanes. The heathen prognosticators have foretold a peace which has not come to pass; yet even in the direst straits the Lord can save. Even when the winter rain has not fallen, and the time of harvest is approaching, He can send a rain which will bring fertility to the land. The figure of the rain is probably proverbial. The term teraphim" (p. 101) might be employed in the post-exilic period to designate idols by men accustomed to use the language of Scripture.


Verses 3-12

Zechariah 10:3-12. This is made up of several fragments. Zechariah 10:3 a is apparently the beginning of a denunciation of Israel's leaders founded upon Ezekiel 34, whereas Zechariah 10:3 b describes the Lord as visiting His distressed sheep, and making them as his warhorse. The cue which has caused Zechariah 10:3 b to be attached to Zechariah 10:3 a is the word "visit," which the EV renders "punish" in the first instance. The Jewish sheep became warhorses in the Maccabean struggle.

Zechariah 10:4, which is a later insertion, presents considerable difficulty.

Zechariah 10:4 a apparently means that Judah possesses all the requisites of an autonomous state; the last clause, however, seems to mean that the foreign exaotors of tribute will depart from the land (cf. Zechariah 9:8, 1 Maccabees 13:36 ff.).

Zechariah 10:5 originally followed Zechariah 10:3; it describes the Maccabean victory, the description being continued in Zechariah 10:7.

Zechariah 10:6 is an insertion from another source, though perhaps of the same date.

Zechariah 10:8-10. A Prediction of the Return of the Dispersion.—"Will hiss," or better, "will whistle" (i.e. as a signal), is perhaps suggested by Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18. The sowing of Israel among the nations may imply the increase of Israel, as seed increases when it is sown (cf. Hosea 2:23). Zechariah 10:11 is an independent prediction of the return of the dispersion, perhaps by the author of Zechariah 9:1-8. For "the sea of affliction read with Wellhausen "the sea of Egypt," i.e. the Gulf of Suez. The smiting of the sea is here, as in Isaiah 11:15, a metaphorical description of the removal of the political obstacles in the way of the return of the dispersion. Assyria, as is stated above, means the Syro-Greek empire (cf. Ezra 6:22, Isaiah 11:11*, Isaiah 19:23 f.). This passage strongly resembles Isaiah 11:11 f. For "they shall walk up and down" the LXX has rightly "they shall make their boast."

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Zechariah 10:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/zechariah-10.html. 1919.

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Saturday, January 25th, 2020
the Second Week after Epiphany
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