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Bible Commentaries

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments
Zechariah 9

 

 

Verse 1

Zechariah 9:1. The burden, &c. — A heavy judgment appointed of God to be borne: or, a prophecy of a calamitous kind. See the note on Isaiah 13:1. The word of the Lord in the land of Hadrach — Hadrach is not elsewhere mentioned as the name of a country; the context however shows it must have been some part of Syria, of which Damascus was the capital city. According to some Jewish rabbis it was a place near Damascus. The prophecy is thought to relate to Alexander the Great conquering Syria; Damascus being at the same time betrayed to him, and all Darius’s treasure, which was laid up there, delivered into his hands. And Damascus shall be the rest thereof — Or, It shall rest upon Damascus; that is, the burden of the word of the Lord. Damascus shall in particular be afflicted with the judgment now threatened; when — Or rather, for the eyes of man, as of all Israel, shall be toward the Lord — For as all men’s appeals, in case of wrong, are made to Heaven, so they who have been wronged by Syrian injustice shall look to Heaven for right, and the Lord will right them. The words however may be better translated: When the eyes of men, even of all the tribes of Israel, &c.; when the Jews saw the conqueror approach Jerusalem it was proper for them to look up to God, and to implore his protection. This, according to Josephus, (Antiq., lib. 11. cap. 8,) when Alexander was besieging Tyre, Jaddua the Jewish high-priest did, and was directed by a vision to meet the conqueror in his pontifical robes, by whom he was received very graciously. The clause however will admit of yet another translation, namely, For the eyes of the Lord are upon man, as well as upon all the tribes of Israel. That is, God is the ruler and judge of all the nations of the earth, as well as of the tribes of Israel, and will punish the heathen for their sins, as well as his professing people. This, considering the context, seems to be the most probable interpretation.


Verses 2-5

Zechariah 9:2-5. And Hamath also shall border there by — Or, Hamath also shall be within its borders. That is, the borders of this prophecy. Hamath shall be involved in the calamities which this prophecy denounces. “I suppose,” says Newcome, “that Hamath on the river Orontes is meant.” It was the capital of one part of Syria, and formed, some time, an independent kingdom. See note on Jeremiah 49:23. Tyrus and Zidon — These cities also, shall be reached by the judgments threatened in this prophecy; though it be very wise — Although Zidon prides itself so much for its skill and knowledge of things, and puts much confidence in its crafty counsels. Blayney renders the latter clause of this verse and the next, And Sidon, though she be very wise, and hath built Tyre, a fortress, for herself; and hath heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Zidon was the capital of Phenicia, and mother of Tyre. For Justin informs us, (lib. 18. cap. 3,) that the Sidonians, when their city was taken by the king of Ascalon, betook themselves to their ships and built Tyre. Hence Tyre is called the daughter of Sidon, Isaiah 23:12. The Sidonians were famous all over the world for their knowledge and skill in arts and sciences, and for their great riches, acquired by their traffic: see notes on Isaiah 23:2; Isaiah 23:4; Isaiah 23:12; Ezekiel 27:8; Ezekiel 28:2.

Behold, the Lord will cast her out — Will cast out her inhabitants. And he will smite her power in the sea, &c. — The Sidonians, according to Diodorus Siculus, (lib. 16. p. 116;) on the approach of the army sent against them by Ochus, king of Persia, first of all destroyed their shipping at sea; and then retiring within the walls of the city, when they found they could hold out no longer, set fire to their houses, and burned themselves with all their families and effects together. Thus their wealth was effectually smitten, when by burning their ships, their commerce, the source of their riches, was annihilated; and this last act of desperation completely fulfilled the remaining part of the prophecy. No wonder if their neighbours, the Philistines, (as is signified in the next verse,) were struck with consternation at seeing the disastrous fate of those on whose assistance they depended. See Blayney. Probably also the destruction of Tyre by Alexander the Great may be predicted in these verses; of which see the places referred to above. Ashkelon shall fear; Gaza also be very sorrowful, and Ekron — These cities flattered themselves, that if Tyre could withstand Alexander, they also should be able to escape his hand; but Tyre being taken, all these hopes vanished. Alexander made himself master of Gaza immediately after the taking of Tyre; 10,000 of the inhabitants were slain, and the governor Betis dragged round the city wall till he was dead. King is a general word for any governor, in Hebrew, as has been before observed. Strabo, speaking of Gaza, lib. 16., says, “It was formerly a city of note, but was destroyed by Alexander the Great.” Or, according to Josephus, having suffered severely, upon being taken by Alexander, it was at length totally ruined and destroyed by Alexander Jannæus, one of the Asmonean kings of Judah. Hence we read, Acts 8:26, Gaza which is desert. And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited — Blayney reads, shall not be established; literally, shall not sit. “Ashkelon, and the other cities of the Philistines, having been subjugated by Nebuchadnezzar, as foretold Jeremiah 47., never recovered their former independence, but, falling under the dominion of the great empires in succession, were almost continually involved in their wars, and suffered considerably, till by degrees they dwindled away, and at last sunk to nothing.”


Verse 6-7

Zechariah 9:6-7. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod — Newcome reads, strangers, understanding by the expression, “a strange and spurious race; a despicable race; born of harlots.” But Blayney, who reads, a stranger, observes, that the Hebrew word, ממזרhere used, does not imply an illegitimate offspring. In proof of which he quotes Psalms 69:8, where מוזר, a word from which the above is derived, is translated a stranger, so that he supposes the sense of this clause to be, that the city of Ashdod should be peopled with strangers, not descended from its present possessors. The LXX. and Chaldee understand the expression in the same sense. And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines — Ashdod, or Azotus, was burned and destroyed by Jonathan, brother of Judas Maccabeus, and eight thousand of its men burned or slain, 1 Maccabees 10:84-85. These were probably intended here by the pride of the Philistines, that is, the pride, or excellence, of the ancient inhabitants, in whose room the strangers were introduced. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth — The Philistine shall be brought down so low, that he shall not be in a condition to molest or threaten slaughter to his neighbours, as he did formerly. And his abominations from between his teeth — He shall be reduced to such poverty, that he shall no more make banquets in honour of his idols, and feast upon them. “The idolatrous and abominable practices of the Philistines shall cease. The metaphor is taken from beasts of prey, who gorge themselves with blood.” Ashdod is mentioned by Josephus among the cities of the Phenicians which were under the dominion of the Jews; and it is well known that they exacted of all who were under their authority, a conformity, in a certain degree, to their religious rites and ceremonies. This will explain what is meant by taking his blood, &c. The stranger was required to abstain from eating blood, and from such things as were held in abomination by the Jewish law. But he that remaineth, even he shall be for our God — This was fulfilled in the times of the Maccabees, and also in the times of Alexander Jannæus, who subdued their principal cities, as Josephus relates, (Antiq., lib. 13. cap. 23,) and made them part of the Jewish dominions, the inhabitants of several of which embraced the Jewish religion. And he shall be as a governor in Judah — Shall be regarded and honoured. Blayney renders it, Shall be as a citizen in Judah, considering the expression as being used in contrast to the word which he renders stranger, Zechariah 9:6; and signifying that the stranger who should come to dwell in Ashdod, would, after renouncing all his heathenish practices, become a convert to the true God, and, as a governor in Judah, entitled to all the same privileges in that city, as a prime citizen enjoyed among the Jews: terms these which exactly correspond with those used by St. Paul, who, having called the unconverted Gentiles, ξενοι και παροικοι, strangers and foreigners, entitles them, after their conversion, συμπολιται των αγιων και οικειοι του θεου, fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, Ephesians 2:19. And Ekron as a Jebusite — And the Philistines shall have the same privileges allowed them, and be put on the same footing, as the Jebusites, the ancient inhabitants of Jerusalem were, when the Israelites conquered them: see 1:21.


Verse 8

Zechariah 9:8. I will encamp about my house — About this temple, and my church, of which this temple is an emblem, that I may defend it from all its enemies. Because of the army — The Persian and Grecian army marching to and fro through Judea. The Hebrew is literally, I will encamp about my house as a garrison, the word מצבה, here used, meaning properly a military guard set to keep watch and ward against any hostile approach. “The purport of this passage is, that, while these revolutions were taking place in the neighbouring states, God would act as a guard in favour of his household, or family, against the armies that were marching forward and backward, so as not to suffer any enemy to come near to molest them; for which purpose his eyes, he says, were now, that is, at the time he was speaking of, continually upon the watch.” — Blayney. Many think this alludes to the Maccabees, who were defenders of the house of God against Antiochus Epiphanes. They were as a wall of brass round about the sanctuary. From their days God preserved the temple against the profanation of strangers, till after the death of Jesus Christ, when he forsook it entirely; choosing the Christian Church for his temple, and making it his peculiar care to watch over, encamp round about, and protect it. And no oppressor shall pass through any more — Or rather, any longer. None of those that now threaten to invade or oppress them shall prosper in their attempts against them. For now have I seen with mine eyes — I am not regardless of my people, but look upon their condition with an eye of pity and compassion.


Verse 9

Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion — To give still greater encouragement to God’s people, the prophet, after uttering the foregoing promises, was carried on by the Divine Spirit, which influenced him, to announce a still more remarkable instance of God’s special kindness to them, namely, the coming of their Messiah, or king, with reference to which this passage is cited in two places of the New Testament, Matthew 21:5; John 12:15; so that we can have no doubt of the application. But, from comparing these three texts, we may perceive that the evangelical writers were not over-scrupulous of adhering to the exact words of their original, whether they cited from the Hebrew or from the Greek; but were satisfied with giving the true sense of the passage, and taking more or less of it, as circumstances seemed to require. Behold, thy king cometh unto thee — He that is so often described in the prophets as the king of Israel; that was known by that name among the Jews in our Saviour’s time, and is repeatedly called by the name of David their king: see the margin. To him the kingdom did properly belong, and to him the gathering of the people was to be, Genesis 49:10. He is just, and having salvation — Or, He is righteous, and the Saviour, as the ancient versions have it. He is that righteous branch, and the Lord our righteousness, as he is described by Jeremiah 23:5; who was to execute justice and judgment in the earth; and the righteousness and salvation, that is, the Righteous One and Saviour, promised Isaiah 62:1. Unlike the proud and destructive conquerors of the earth, he shall not enter with a mighty cavalcade of horse, but shall come lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. Although it is certain that the ancient Jews understood this prophecy of the Messiah, yet that this divine person, this king of Israel, should come unto them riding upon an ass, which, notwithstanding that in former ages patriarchs and judges thought it no disgrace to ride upon them, yet was then looked upon as below the dignity of any person of eminence, must, at the uttering of this prophecy, have appeared a very mysterious and improbable circumstance. But we who know that the only time when the Lord Jesus entered publicly into Jerusalem, he thought proper, as an example of humility and meekness, and of indifference to worldly pomp, to ride upon a young ass, or colt; and that, at the same time, the whole multitude were seized with such a sudden and extraordinary impulse of joy, that they spread their garments in the way, and cut down branches of trees and strowed them in the way, shouting unanimously, HOSANNAH, BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD — we, that know this remarkable circumstance, cannot but be greatly struck with this prophecy, as an admirable instance of the divine prescience, and a strong proof of the truth of Christianity.


Verse 10

Zechariah 9:10. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim — This plainly shows that the character given of the Messiah, that he should ride on an ass, was in opposition to the pride of their warlike kings, to set an example of humility, and to show that his kingdom was not of this world. To the same purpose speaks the Prophet Hosea 1:7; and Micah 5:10-11 : passages which mutually support and cast light on each other, and show undeniably what the prophet had in view when he foretold that the Messiah should ride on an ass. This verse is also intended to signify that the kingdom of the Messiah should be a kingdom of peace, by which characteristic it is frequently described in the prophetic writings. Not that wars were immediately to cease on the earth at his coming, but because his doctrine, example, and grace, naturally tend to produce and promote universal peace and harmony; to diffuse among men a spirit of benevolence and humility, of meekness and forbearance; of doing to others, in every case, as we would they should do unto us in the like case. So that, if Christ’s religion were truly and universally received and practised, certain it is there would be a universal peace among men, and we should no longer see or hear of wars and slaughters. And undoubtedly, before the consummation of all things, his religion will diffuse peace over all the earth. Another thing intended in this prediction is, that Christ’s kingdom should not be set up, nor advanced, by external force and violence, by carnal weapons, or an arm of flesh; but by the power of truth and grace. For it follows, He shall speak peace unto the heathen, or, unto the nations, as the Hebrew is, namely, to the Gentile nations that were afar off, as well as to the Jews that were nigh; his gospel being the gospel of peace, proclaiming and ensuring peace to all the truly penitent that believe in him with their heart unto righteousness; even peace with God, peace of conscience, tranquillity of mind, and a disposition, as far as possible, to live peaceably with all men. And his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river, &c. — As was foretold by David, Psalms 72:8, from whence these words are taken: see the note there. The sense is, his kingdom shall extend itself to all parts of the world, in defiance of the opposition made to it. The preachers of his gospel shall carry it from one country to another; from one island and continent to another; till the remotest parts of the earth are enlightened, and reduced by it to the obedience of the faith, and the practice of love and holiness.


Verse 11

Zechariah 9:11. As for thee also — O Jerusalem, or church of God; for the prophet, speaking in the name of God, must be supposed to direct his discourse to her, the pronoun and the affixes, in the Hebrew, being in the feminine gender; by the blood of thy covenant — By the blood of the Messiah, in which thy covenant is confirmed: for though it is God’s covenant as made by him, and Christ’s as made in and through him, it is Zion’s covenant as made for her. I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, &c. — By the prison here, Blayney thinks the land of Egypt is metaphorically intended, in which Israel were heretofore detained as in a prison, until God delivered them out of it, and at the same time entered into covenant with them. But it seems more probable the deliverance from Babylon, so lately experienced, is referred to. So most interpreters understand the passage. Bishop Hall paraphrases it thus: “As for thee, O Zion, whose covenant with me is made, and confirmed by the precious blood of the Messiah. I do herein give thee a type of thy future deliverance from all thy spiritual miseries, in that I have brought forth thy captives out of the miserable captivity at Babylon.” Deep, dry pits, says Capellus, were frequently prisons in the East. Or by the pit here may be meant the lowest part of the prison, called the dungeon, (see Isaiah 51:14,) as the Hebrew word בורis translated; Jeremiah 37:16; Jeremiah 38:6; Lamentations 3:53-55, where see the notes. Into one of these prisons Jeremiah was cast. But something further, and more interesting to the human race than the deliverance of God’s ancient people either from Egypt or Babylon, is evidently here intended to be signified, even the deliverance of mankind in general from the bondage of sin and guilt, and of depravity, weakness, and wretchedness, that miserable prison in which all are naturally detained, into the glorious liberty of the children of God, by virtue of the covenant sealed with the blood of Christ the Mediator: see Isaiah 61:1-3; Hebrews 13:20. Observe well, reader, a state of sin and guilt is a state of bondage; it is a spiritual prison; it is a pit, or a dungeon, in which there is no water, no comfort to be had: we are all by nature prisoners in this pit; the Scripture has concluded us all under sin, and bound us over to the justice of God. God has been pleased to deal with these prisoners upon new terms, to enter into another covenant with them; the blood of Christ is the blood of that covenant, having purchased it and all its benefits for us; and by that blood effectual provision is made for the sending forth of these prisoners upon easy and honourable terms: and a proclamation of liberty to the captives is issued from the court of heaven, followed by the opening of the prison to them that were bound, (like Cyrus’s proclamation to the Jews in Babylon,) which all those, whose spirits God stirreth up, ought to come and take the benefit of.


Verse 12

Zechariah 9:12. Turn you to the strong hold — To Zion, to the church of God, the strong city, mentioned Isaiah 26:1, which has salvation for walls and bulwarks; to the name of the Lord, which is a strong tower, his mercy, truth, and grace: ye that are under any bondage or oppression, any trouble or distress, do not despair, be not discouraged, but apply to and rely upon the blood of the new covenant; hasten to Christ, through whose blood alone you can have redemption, reconciliation, peace, and comfort. Ye prisoners of hope — Captives, yet not without hope. The Jews that were returned out of captivity into their own land were yet, in effect, but prisoners, servants, as they confess themselves to be, even in the land which God had given them, Nehemiah 9:36; yet prisoners of hope, or expectation, for God had given them a little reviving in their bondage, Ezra 9:8-9. Those that continued still in Babylon, detained by their affairs there, yet lived in hope, some time or other, to see their own land again: now both these descriptions of Jews are here directed to turn their eyes to the Messiah, set before them in the promise, as their strong hold, to take shelter in him and stay themselves upon him, for the perfecting of the mercy which, by his grace, and for his sake, was so gloriously begun. But, as their deliverance was typical of our redemption by Christ, Zechariah 9:11, so this invitation to the strong hold speaks the language of the gospel call. Sinners are prisoners, but they are prisoners of hope; their case is sad, but it is not desperate; there is yet hope in Israel concerning them. Christ is a strong hold for them, a strong tower, in whom they may be safe and quiet from the fear of the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the assaults of their spiritual enemies: to him they must turn by a lively faith, to him they must flee, and in his name they must trust.

Even to-day — In this day of lowest distress, when things appear to be at the worst, and you think your case deplorable to the last degree, I declare I solemnly promise, that I will render double unto thee — To thee, O Jerusalem, to every one of you prisoners of hope; I will give you comforts double to the sorrows you have experienced; or blessings double to what I ever bestowed upon your fathers, even when their condition was at the best; the glory of your latter state, as well as of your latter house, shall be greater, yea, twice as great as that of your former. Now this it was no otherwise than by the coming of the Messiah, the preaching of the gospel, and the setting up of his kingdom. These spiritual blessings in heavenly things were double to what they had ever enjoyed in their most prosperous state. Now as a pledge of this, to be enjoyed in the fulness of time, God in the next verses promises to the Jews victory, plenty, and joy, in their own land, which yet would be but a type and shadow of more glorious victories, riches, and joys, in the kingdom of Christ.


Verses 13-16

Zechariah 9:13-16. When I have bent Judah for me — “A strong and sublime manner of expressing that God would use Judah and Ephraim as his instruments of destruction.” — Newcome. As if he had said, When I have made Judah my bow, and Ephraim my arrow, have used them as my instruments of war. Judah and Ephraim are equivalent to Judah and Israel. The men of Ephraim being expert archers, the expression of filling the bow with Ephraim, seems to allude to that circumstance. And raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece — Enabled the Jews, under the conduct of the Maccabees, to destroy the forces of the Syrian kings, Antiochus Epiphanes, and others, who were the successors of Alexander, the founder of the Grecian monarchy: see note on Daniel 8:22. And made thee as the sword of a mighty man — Given success to thy arms, that none shall withstand thee. And the Lord shall be seen over them — Shall give conspicuous tokens of his presence with them, and his presiding over them and directing them in all their enterprises, leading them on and protecting them, as when they came out of Egypt. And his arrow shall go forth as the lightning — He shall fight for them with a force that shall be irresistible: the lightning is often called God’s arrow. And the Lord shall blow the trumpet — Shall give the signal of war, shall animate them to, and assist them in battle. And shall go with whirlwinds of the south — Shall discomfit his enemies as a whirlwind tears in pieces every thing that stands in its way; or shall scatter them as the dust is scattered by the whirlwind. The most vehement storms to which Judea was subject came from the great desert country to the south of it: see note on Isaiah 21:1. The Lord of hosts shall defend them — The hand of God shall visibly appear in protecting the Maccabees. And they shall devour and subdue with sling- stones — They shall conquer their enemies with as unequal a force as that of David, in respect of Goliath, when he subdued him with a sling-stone. And they shall drink and rejoice — In their festivals, when they shall offer sacrifices of thanksgivings for their victories; and make a noise as through wine — Raise shouts of triumph, as men are wont to do whose hearts are glad with success, and cheered with wine. And they shall be filled like bowls, &c. — They shall be filled, or shall fill themselves, with the spoil of their enemies; and as the corners of the altar. — As the horns of the altar are with the blood of the victims. And the Lord shall save them as the flock of his people — Or, shall save them, his people, as a flock. He shall take care of them and preserve them, as a shepherd does his flock. They shall be as the stones of a crown — Precious in his sight; lifted up as an ensign, or trophy, upon his land — In other words, God shall make it known to the world how dear they are to him, and his favour toward them shall be an encouragement to others to become proselytes to the true religion: see Isaiah 62:3; Malachi 3:17.


Verse 17

Zechariah 9:17. How great is his goodness — Infinite goodness is the fountain of all the good done for his people. And how great is his beauty — How wonderful is the beauty of divine providence in Israel’s deliverance and salvation. Corn shall make the young men cheerful — Plentiful harvests shall make the young men cheerful in sowing, reaping, and partaking of the fruits thereof. And new wine the maids — There shall be such plenty of wine that all, young and old, shall be cheered with it. Or rather, new wine is put here for the grapes which make it, as bread is frequently put for bread- corn, and then the sense will be, that the young men, employed in bringing in the harvest, should rejoice at seeing the great plenty of it, and the young women, occupied in gathering the grapes, should be as cheerful on account of the plenty of the vintage: or that, by the divine blessing, both those who reaped the corn, and those who gathered in the vintage, should thrive and be happy in their respective occupations.

 


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Bibliography Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 9:4". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/zechariah-9.html. 1857.

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