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Bible Commentaries

Expositor's Bible Commentary
Zechariah 9

 

 

Introduction

"ZECHARIAH" (9-14)

"Lo, thy King cometh to thee, vindicated and victorious, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass."

"Up, Sword, against My Shepherd! Smite the Shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered!"

"And I will pour upon the house of David and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look to Him whom they have pierced, and they shall lament for Him, as with lamentation for an only son, and bitterly grieve for Him, as with grief for a first-born."

CHAPTERS 9-14 OF "ZECHARIAH"

WE saw that the first eight chapters of the Book of Zechariah were, with the exception of a few verses, from the prophet himself. No one has ever doubted this. No one could doubt it: they are obviously from the years of the building of the Temple, 520-516 B.C. They hang together with a consistency exhibited by few other groups of chapters in the Old Testament.

But when we pass into chapter 9, we find ourselves in circumstances and an atmosphere altogether different. Israel is upon a new situation of history, and the words addressed to her breathe another spirit. There is not the faintest allusion to the building of the Temple-the subject from which all the first eight chapters depend. There is not a single certain reflection of the Persian period, under the shadow of which the first eight chapter were all evidently written. We have names of heathen powers mentioned which not only do not occur in the first eight chapters, but of which it is not possible to think that they had any interest whatever for Israel between 520 and 516: Damascus, Hadrach, Hamath, Assyria, Egypt, and Greece. The peace, and the love of peace, in which Zechariah wrote, has disappeared. Nearly everything breathes of war actual or imminent. The heathen are spoken of with a ferocity which finds few parallels in the Old Testament. There is a reveling in their blood of which the student of the authentic prophecies of Zechariah will at once perceive that gentle lover of peace could not have been capable. And one passage figures the imminence of a thorough judgment upon Jerusalem, very different from Zechariah’s outlook upon his people’s future from the eve of the completion of the Temple. It is not surprising, therefore, that one of the earliest efforts of Old Testament criticism should have been to prove another author than Zechariah for chaps, 9-14, of the book called by his name.

The very first attempt of this kind was made so far back as 1632 by the Cambridge theologian Joseph Mede, who was moved thereto by the desire to vindicate the correctness of St. Matthew’s ascription [Matthew 27:9] of "Zechariah" [Zechariah 11:13] to the prophet Jeremiah. Mede’s effort was developed by other English exegetes. Hammond assigned chapters 10-12, Bishop Kidder and William Whiston, the translator of Josephus, chapters 9-14 to Jeremiah. Archbishop Newcome divided them, and sought to prove that while chapters 9-11 must have been written before 721, or a century earlier than Jeremiah, because of the heathen powers they name, and the divisions between Judah and Israel, chapters 12-14, reflect the imminence of the Fall of Jerusalem. In 1784 Flugge offered independent proof that chapters 9-14 were by Jeremiah; and in 1814 Bertholdt suggested, that chapters 9-11 might be by Zechariah the contemporary of Isaiah, and on that account attached to the prophecies of his younger namesake. These opinions gave the trend to the main volume of criticism, which, till fifteen years ago, deemed "Zechariah" 9-14 to be pre-exilic. So Hitzig, who at first took the whole to be from one hand, but afterwards placed 12-14 by a different author under Manasseh. So Ewald, Bleek, Kuenen (at first), Samuel Davidson, Schrader, Duhm (in 1875), and more recently Konig and Orelli, who assign chapters 9-11 to the reign of Ahaz, but 12-14 to the eve of the Fall of Jerusalem, or even a little later.

Some critics, however, remained unmoved by the evidence offered for a pre-exilic date. They pointed out in particular that the geographical references were equally suitable to the centuries after the Exile. Damascus, Hadrach, and Hamath, [Zechariah 9:1] though politically obsolete by 720, entered history again with the campaigns of Alexander the Great in 332-331, and the establishment of the Seleucid kingdom in Northern Syria. Egypt and Assyria [Zechariah 10:10] were names used after the Exile for the kingdom of the Ptolemies, and for those powers which still threatened Israel from the north or Assyrian quarter Judah and Joseph or Ephraim, {Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 9:13 etc.} were names still used after the Exile to express the whole of God’s Israel; and in chapters 9-14, they are presented, not divided as before 721, but united. None of the chapters give a hint of any king in Jerusalem; and all of them, while representing the great Exile of Judah as already begun, show a certain dependence in style and even in language upon Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah 40:1-31; Isaiah 41:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-25; Isaiah 43:1-28; Isaiah 44:1-28; Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15; Isaiah 48:1-22; Isaiah 49:1-26; Isaiah 50:1-11; Isaiah 51:1-23; Isaiah 52:1-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 54:1-17; Isaiah 55:1-13; Isaiah 56:1-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21; Isaiah 60:1-22; Isaiah 61:1-11; Isaiah 62:1-12; Isaiah 63:1-19; Isaiah 64:1-12; Isaiah 65:1-25; Isaiah 66:1-24. Moreover, the language is post-exilic, sprinkled with Aramaisms and with other words and phrases used only, or mainly, by Hebrew writers from Jeremiah onwards.

But though many critics judged these grounds to be sufficient to prove the post-exilic origin of "Zechariah" 9-14, they differed as to the author and exact date of these chapters. Conservatives like Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, Kohler, and Pusey used the evidence to prove the authorship of Zechariah himself after 516, and interpreted the references to the Greek period as pure prediction. Pusey says that chapters 9-11 extend from the completion of the Temple and its deliverance during the invasion of Alexander, and from the victories of the Maccabees, to the rejection of the true shepherd and the curse upon the false; and chapters 11-12 "from a future repentance for the death of Christ to the final conversion of the Jews and Gentiles."

But on the same grounds Eichhorn saw in the chapters, not a prediction, but a reflection of the Greek period. He assigned chapters 9 and 10 to an author in the time of Alexander the Great; Zechariah 11:1-17 - Zechariah 13:6 he placed a little later, and brought down Zechariah 13:7. to the Maccabean period. Bottcher placed the whole in the wars of Ptolemy and Seleucus after Alexander’s death; and Vatke, who had at first selected a date in the reign of Artaxerxes Longhand, 464-425, finally decided for the Maccabean period, 170 ff.

In recent times the most thorough examination of the chapters has been that by Stade, and the conclusion he comes to is that chapters 9-14, are all from one author, who must have written during the early wars between the Ptolemies and Seleucids about 280 B.C., but employed, especially in chapters 9, 10, an earlier prophecy. A criticism and modification of Stade’s theory is given by Kuenen. He allows that the present form of chapters 9-14 must be of post-exilic origin: this is obvious from the mention of the Greeks as a world power; the description of a siege of Jerusalem by all the heathen; the way in which (Zechariah 9:11 f., but especially Zechariah 10:6-9) the captivity is presupposed, if not of all Israel, yet of Ephraim; the fact that the House of David are not represented as governing; and the thoroughly priestly character of all the chapters. But Kuenen holds that an ancient prophecy of the eighth century underlies chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, in which the several actual phrases of it survive; and that in their present form 12-14 are older than 9-11 and probably by a contemporary of Joel, about 400 B.C.

In the main Cheyne, Cornill, Wildeboer, and Staerk adhere to Stade’s conclusions. Cheyne proves the unity of the six chapters and their date before the Maccabean period. Staerk brings down Zechariah 11:4-17 and Zechariah 13:7-9 to 171 B.C. Wellhausen argues for the unity, and assigns it to the Maccabean times. Driver 9:1-57; 10:1-18; 11:1-40, with its natural continuation, Zechariah 13:7-9, as not earlier than 333; and the rest of 12-14 as certainly post-exilic, and probably from 432-300. Rubinkam places Zechariah 9:1-10 in Alexander’s time, the rest in that of the Maccabees, but Zeydner all of it to the latter. Kirkpatrick, after showing the post-exilic character of all the chapters, favors assigning 9-11 to a different author from 12-14. Asserting that to the question of the exact date it is impossible to give a definite answer, he thinks that the whole may be with considerable probability assigned to the first sixty or seventy years of the Exile, and is therefore in its proper place between Zechariah and "Malachi." The reference to the sons of Javan he takes to be a gloss, probably added in Maccabean times.

It will be seen from this catalogue of conclusions that the prevailing trend of recent criticism has been to assign "Zechariah" 9-14 to post-exilic times, and to a different author from chapters 1-8; and that while a few critics maintain a date soon after the Return, the bulk are divided between the years following Alexander’s campaigns and the time of the Maccabean struggles.

There are, in fact, in recent years only two attempts to support the conservative position of Pusey and Hengstenberg that the whole book is a genuine work of Zechariah the son of Iddo. One of these is by C.H.H. Wright in his Bampton Lectures. The other is by George L. Robinson, now Professor at Toronto, in a reprint (1896) from the American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, which offers a valuable history of the discussion of the whole question from the days of Mede, with a careful argument of all the evidence on both sides. The very original conclusion is reached that the chapters reflect the history of the years 518-516 B.C.

In discussing the question, for which our treatment of other prophets has left us too little space, we need not open that part of it which lies between a pre-exilic and a post-exilic date. Recent criticism of all schools and at both extremes has tended to establish the latter upon reasons which we have already stated, and for further details of which the student may be referred to Stade’s and Eckhardt’s investigations in the Zeitschrift fur A.T. Wissenschaft and to Kirkpatrick’s impartial summary. There remain the questions of the unity of chapters 9-14; their exact date or dates after the Exile, and as a consequence of this their relation to the authentic prophecies of Zechariah in chapters 1-8.

On the question of unity we take first chapters 9-11, to which must be added (as by most critics since Ewald) Zechariah 13:7-9, which has got out of its place as the natural continuation and conclusion of chapter 11.

Zechariah 9:1-8 predicts the overthrow of heathen neighbors of Israel, their possession by Jehovah and His safeguard of Jerusalem. Zechariah 9:9-12 follow with a prediction of the Messianic King as the Prince of Peace; but then come Zechariah 9:13-17, with no mention of the King, but Jehovah appears alone as the hero of His people against the Greeks, and there is indeed sufficiency of war and blood. Chapter 10 makes a new start: the people are warned to seek their blessings from Jehovah, and not from Teraphim and diviners, whom their false shepherds follow. Jehovah, visiting His flock, shall punish these, give proper rulers, make the people strong and gather in their exiles to fill Gilead and Lebanon. Chapter 11 opens with a burst of war on Lebanon and Bashan and the overthrow of the heathen (Zechariah 11:1-3), and follows with an allegory, in which the prophet first takes charge from Jehovah of the people as their shepherd, but is contemptuously treated by them (Zechariah 11:4-14), and then taking the guise of an evil shepherd represents what they must suffer from their next ruler (Zechariah 11:15-17). This tyrant, however, shall receive punishment, two-thirds of the nation shall be scattered, but the rest, further purified, shall be God’s own people (Zechariah 8:7-9).

In the course of this prophesying there is no conclusive proof of a double authorship. The only passage which offers strong evidence for this is chapter 9. The verses predicting the peaceful coming of Messiah (Zechariah 9:9-12) do not accord in spirit with those which follow predicting the appearance of Jehovah with war and great shedding of blood. Nor is the difference altogether explained, as Stade thinks, by the similar order of events in chapter 10, where Judah and Joseph are first represented as saved and brought back in Zechariah 10:6, and then we have the process of their redemption and return described in Zechariah 10:7 ff. Why did the same writer give statements of such very different temper as Zechariah 9:9-17? Or, if these be from different hands, why were they ever put together? Otherwise there is no reason for breaking up chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9. Rubinkam, who separates Zechariah 9:1-10 by a hundred and fifty years from the rest; Bleek, who divides 9 from 10; and Staerk, who separates 9-11:3 from the rest, have been answered by Robinson and others. On the ground of language, grammar, and syntax, Eckardt has fully proved that 9-11 are from the same author of a late date, who, however, may have occasionally followed earlier models and even introduced their very phrases.

More supporters have been found for a division of authorship between chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, and chapters 12-14. {less Zechariah 13:7-9} Chapter 12 opens with a title of its own. A strange element is introduced into the historical relation. Jerusalem is assaulted, not by the heathen only, but by Judah, who, however, turns on finding that Jehovah fights for Jerusalem, and is saved by Jehovah before Jerusalem in order that the latter may not boast over it. [Zechariah 12:1-9] A spirit of grace and supplication is poured upon the guilty city, a fountain opened for uncleanness, idols abolished, and the prophets, who are put on a level with them, abolished too, where they do not disown their profession. [Zechariah 12:10 - Zechariah 13:6] Another assault of the heathen on Jerusalem is described, half of the people being taken captive. Jehovah appears, and by a great earthquake saves the rest. The land is transformed. And then the prophet goes back to the defeat of the heathen assault on the city, in which Judah is again described as taking part; and the surviving heathen are converted, or, if they refuse to be, punished by the withholding of rain. Jerusalem is holy to the Lord (chapter 14). In all this there is more that differs from chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, than the strange opposition of Judah and Jerusalem. Ephraim, or Joseph, is not mentioned nor any return of exiles, nor punishment of the shepherds, nor coming of the Messiah, the latter’s place being taken by Jehovah. But in answer to this we may remember that the Messiah, after being described in Zechariah 9:9-12, is immediately lost behind the warlike coming of Jehovah. Both sections speak of idolatry, and of the heathen, their punishment and conversion, and do so in the same apocalyptic style. Nor does the language of the two differ in any decisive fashion. On the contrary, as Eckardt and Kuiper have shown, the language is on the whole an argument for unity of authorship. There is, then, nothing conclusive against the position, which Stade so clearly laid down and strongly fortified, that chapters 9-14 are from the same hand, although, as he admits, this cannot be proved with absolute certainty. So also Cheyne: "With perhaps one or two exceptions, chapters 9-11 and 12-14 are so closely welded together that even analysis is impossible."

The next questions we have to decide are whether chapters 9-14 offer any evidence of being by Zechariah, the author of chapters 1-8, and if not to what other post-exilic date they may be assigned.

It must be admitted that in language and in style the two parts of the Book of Zechariah have features in common. But that these have been exaggerated by defenders of the unity there can be no doubt. We cannot infer anything from the fact that both parts contain specimens of clumsy diction, of the repetition of the same word, of phrases (not the same phrases) unused by other writers; or that each is lavish in vocatives; or that each is variable in his spelling. Resemblances of that kind they share with other books: some of them are due to the fact that both sections are post-exilic. On the other hand, as Eckardt has dearly shown, there exists a still greater number of differences between the two sections, both in language and in style. Not only do characteristic words occur in each which are not found in the other, not only do chapters 9-14 contain many more Aramaisms than chapters 1-8, and therefore symptoms of a later date; but both parts use the same words with more or less different meanings, and apply different terms to the same objects. There are also differences of grammar, of favorite formulas, and of other features of the phraseology, which, if there be any need, complete the proof of a distinction of dialect so great as to require to account for it distinction of authorship.

The same impression is sustained by the contrast of the historical circumstances reflected in each of the two sections. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23, were written during the building of the Temple. There is no echo of the latter in "Zechariah" 9-14. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23 picture the whole earth as at peace, which was true at least of all Syria; they portend no danger to Jerusalem from the heathen, but describe her peace and fruitful expansion in terms most suitable to the circumstances imposed upon her by the solid and clement policy of the earlier Persian kings. This is all changed in, "Zechariah" 9-14. The nations are restless; a siege of Jerusalem is imminent, and her salvation is to be assured only by much war and a terrible shedding of blood. We know exactly how Israel fared and felt in the early sections of the Persian period: her interests in the politics of the world, her feelings towards her governors and her whole attitude to the heathen were not at that time those which are reflected in "Zechariah" 9-14.

Nor is there any such resemblance between the religious principles of the two sections of the Book of Zechariah as could prove identity of origin. That both are spiritual, or that they have a similar expectation of the ultimate position of Israel in the history of the world, proves only that both were late offshoots from the same religious development, and worked upon the same ancient models. Within these outlines there are not a few divergences. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23, were written before Ezra and Nehemiah had imposed the Levitical legislation upon Israel; but Eckardt has shown the dependence on the latter of "Zechariah" 9-14.

We may, therefore, adhere to Canon Driver’s assertion, that Zechariah in chapters 1-8 "uses a different phraseology, evinces different interests, and moves in a different circle of ideas from those which prevail in chapters 9-14. Criticism has indeed been justified in separating, by the vast and growing majority of its opinions, the two sections from each other. This was one of the earliest results which modern criticism achieved, and the latest researches have but established it on a firmer basis."

If, then, chapters 9-14 be not Zechariah’s, to what date may we assign them? We have already seen that they bear evidence of being upon the whole later than Zechariah, though they appear to contain fragments from an earlier period. Perhaps this is all we can with certainty affirm. Yet something more definite is at least probable. The mention of the Greeks, not as Joel mentions them about 400, the most distant nation to which Jewish slaves could be carried, but as the chief of the heathen powers, and a foe with whom the Jews are in touch and must soon cross swords, [Zechariah 9:13] appears to imply that the Syrian campaign of Alexander is happening or has happened, or even that the Greek kingdoms of Syria and Egypt are already contending for the possession of Palestine. With this agrees the mention of Damascus, Hadrach, and Hamath, the localities where the Seleucids had their chief seats. {Zechariah 9:1 f} In that case Asshur would signify the Seleucids and Egypt the Ptolemies: it is these, and not Greece itself, from whom the Jewish exiles have still to be redeemed. All this makes probable the date which Stade has proposed for the chapters, between 300 and 280 B.C. To bring them further down, to the time of the Maccabees, as some have tried to do, would not be impossible so far as the historical allusions are concerned; but had they been of so late a date as that, viz., 170 or 160, we may assert that they could not have found a place in the prophetic canon, which was closed by 200, but must have fallen along with Daniel into the Hagiographa.

The appearance of these prophecies at the close of the Book of Zechariah has been explained, not quite satisfactorily, as follows. With the Book of "Malachi" they formed originally three anonymous pieces, which because of their anonymity were set at the end of the Book of the Twelve. The first of them begins with the very peculiar construction "Massa’ Debar Jehovah," "oracle of the word of Jehovah," which, though partly belonging to the text, the editor read as a title, and attached as a title to each of the others. It occurs nowhere else. The Book of "Malachi" was too distinct in character to be attached to another book, and soon came to have the supposed name of its author added to its title. But the other two pieces fell, like all anonymous works, to the nearest Writing with an author’s name. Perhaps the attachment was hastened by the desire to make the round number of Twelve Prophets.

ADDENDA

Whiston’s work is "An Essay towards restoring the True Text of the O.T. and for vindicating the Citations made thence in the N.T.," 1722, pp. 93 ff (not seen). Besides those mentioned (seen.) as supporting the unity of Zechariah there ought to be named De Wette, Umbreit, von Hoffmann, Ebrard, etc. Kuiper’s work is "Zachariah 9-14," Utrecht, 1894 (not seen). Nowack’s conclusions are: 9-11:3 date from the Greek period (we cannot date them more exactly, unless 9:8 refers to Ptolemy’s capture of Jerusalem in 320); 11, 13:7-9, are post-exilic; 12-13:6 long after Exile; 14 long after Exile, later than "Malachi."


Verses 1-3

6. WAR UPON THE SYRIAN TYRANTS

Zechariah 9:1-3

This is taken by some with the previous chapter, by others with the passage following. Either connection seems precarious. No conclusion as to date can be drawn from the language. But the localities threatened were on the southward front of the Seleucid kingdom. "Open, Lebanon, thy doors" suits the Egyptian invasions of that kingdom. To which of these the passage refers cannot of course be determined. The shepherds are the rulers.

"Open, Lebanon, thy doors, that the fire may devour in thy cedars. Wail, O pine-tree, for the cedar is fallen; wail, O oaks of Bashan, for fallen is the impenetrable wood. Hark to the wailing of the shepherds! for their glory is destroyed. Hark how the lions roar! for blasted is the pride of Jordan."


Verses 1-8

1. THE COMING OF THE GREEKS

Zechariah 9:1-8

This passage runs exactly in the style of the early prophets. It figures the progress of war from the north of Syria southwards by the valley of the Orontes to Damascus, and then along the coasts of Phoenicia and the Philistines. All these shall be devastated, but Jehovah will camp about His own House and it shall be inviolate. This is exactly how Amos or Isaiah might have pictured an Assyrian campaign, or Zephaniah a Scythian. It is not surprising, therefore, that even some of those who take the bulk of "Zechariah" 9-14, as post-exilic should regard Zechariah 9:1-5 as earlier even than Amos, with post-exilic additions only in Zechariah 9:6-8. This is possible. Zechariah 9:6-8 are certainly post-exilic, because of their mention of the half-breeds, and their intimation that Jehovah will take unclean food out of the mouth of the heathen; but the allusions in Zechariah 9:1-5 suit an early date. They equally suit, however, a date in the Greek period. The progress of war from the Orontes valley by Damascus and thence down the coast of Palestine follows the line of Alexander’s campaign in 332, which must also have been the line of Demetrius in 315 and of Antigonus in 311. The evidence of language is mostly in favor of a late date. If Ptolemy I took Jerusalem in 320, then the promise, no assailant shall return (Zechariah 9:8), is probably later than that.

In face, then, of Alexander’s invasion of Palestine, or of another campaign on the same line, this oracle repeats the ancient confidence of Isaiah (Zechariah 9:1). God rules: His providence is awake alike for the heathen and for Israel. "Jehovah hath an eye for mankind, and all the tribes of Israel." The heathen shall be destroyed, but Jerusalem rest secure; and the remnant of the heathen be converted, according to the Levitical notion, by having unclean foods taken out of their mouths.

Oracle

"The Word of Jehovah is on the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its goal-for Jehovah hath an eye upon the heathen, and all the tribes of Israel-and on Hamath, which borders upon it, Tyre and Sidon, for they were very wise. And Tyre built her a fortress, and heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. Lo, the Lord will dispossess her, and strike her rampart, into the sea, and she shall be consumed in fire. Ashklon shall see and shall fear, and Gaza writhe in anguish, and Ekron, for her confidence is abashed, and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon lie uninhabited. Half-breeds shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut down the pride of the Philistines. Ana I will take their blood from their mouth and their abominations from between their teeth, and even they shall be left for our God, and shall become like a clan in Judah, and Ekron shall be as the Jebusite. And I shall encamp for a guard to My House, so that none pass by or return, and no assailant again pass upon them, for now do I regard it with Mine eyes."


Verses 1-17

THE CONTENTS OF "ZECHARIAH"

Chapters 9-14

FROM the number of conflicting opinions which prevail upon the subject, we have seen how impossible it is to decide upon a scheme of division for "Zechariah" 9-14. These chapters consist of a number of separate oracles, which their language and general conceptions lead us on the whole to believe were put together by one hand, and which, with the possible exception of some older fragments, reflect the troubled times in Palestine that followed on the invasion of Alexander the Great. But though the most of them are probably due to one date and possibly come from the same author, these oracles do not always exhibit a connection, and indeed sometimes show no relevance to each other. It will therefore be simplest to take them piece by piece, and; before giving the translation of each, to explain the difficulties in it and indicate the ruling ideas.


Verses 9-12

2. THE PRINCE OF PEACE

Zechariah 9:9-12

This beautiful picture, applied by the Evangelist with such fitness to our Lord upon His entry to Jerusalem, must also be of post-exilic date. It contrasts with the warlike portraits of the Messiah drawn in pre-exilic times, for it clothes Him with humility and with peace. The coming King of Israel has the attributes already imputed to the Servant of Jehovah by the prophet of the Babylonian captivity. The next verses also imply the Exile as already a fact. On the whole, too, the language is of a late rather than of an early date. Nothing in the passage betrays the exact point of its origin after the Exile.

The epithets applied to the Messiah are of very great interest. He does not bring victory or salvation, but is the passive recipient of it. This determines the meaning of the preceding adjective, "righteous," which has not the moral sense of "justice," but rather that of "vindication," in which "righteousness" and "righteous" are so frequently used in Isaiah 40:1-31; Isaiah 41:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-25; Isaiah 43:1-28; Isaiah 44:1-28; Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15; Isaiah 48:1-22; Isaiah 49:1-26; Isaiah 50:1-11; Isaiah 51:1-23; Isaiah 52:1-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 54:1-17; Isaiah 55:1-13. He is "lowly," like the Servant of Jehovah; and comes riding not the horse, an animal for war, because the next verse says that horses and chariots are to be removed from Israel, but the ass, the animal not of lowliness, as some have interpreted, but of peace. To this day in the East asses are used, as they are represented in the Song of Deborah, by great officials, but only when these are upon civil, and not upon military, duty.

It is possible that this oracles closes with Zechariah 9:10, and that we should take Zechariah 9:11-12, on the deliverance from exile, with the next.

"Rejoice mightily, daughter of Zion! shout aloud, daughter of Jerusalem! Lo, thy King cometh to thee, vindicated and victorious, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt the she-ass’ foal. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem, and the war-bow shall be cut off, and He shall speak peace to the nations, and His rule shall be from sea to sea and from the river even to the ends of the earth. Thou, too, - by thy covenant-blood, I have set free thy prisoners from the Return to the fortress, ye prisoners of hope; even today do I proclaim: Double will I return to thee." [Isaiah 61:7]


Verses 13-17

3. THE SLAUGHTER OF THE GREEKS

Zechariah 9:13-17

The next oracle seems singularly out of keeping with the spirit of the last, which declared the arrival of the Messianic peace, while this represents Jehovah as using Israel for His weapons in the slaughter of the Greeks and heathens, in whose blood they shall revel. But Stade has pointed out how often in chapters 9-14 a result is first stated and then the oracle goes on to describe the process by which it is achieved. Accordingly we have no ground for affirming Zechariah 9:13-17 to be by another hand than Zechariah 9:9-12. The apocalyptic character of the means by which the heathen are to be overthrown, and the exultation displayed in their slaughter, as in a great sacrifice (Zechariah 9:15), betray Israel in a state of absolute political weakness, and therefore suit a date after Alexander’s campaigns, which is also made sure by the reference to the "sons of Javan," as if Israel were now in immediate contact with them. Kirkpatrick’s note should be read, in which he seeks to prove "the sons of Javan" a late gloss; but his reasons do not appear conclusive. The language bears several traces of lateness.

"For I have drawn Judah for My bow, I have charged it with Ephraim; and I will urge thy sons, O Zion, against the sons of Javan, and make thee like the sword of a hero. Then will Jehovah appear above them, and His shaft shall go forth like lightning; and the Lord Jehovah shall blow a blast on the trumpet, and travel in the storms of the south. Jehovah will protect them, and they shall devour(?) and trample; and they shall drink their blood like wine, and be drenched with it, like a bowl and like the corners of the altar. And Jehovah their God will give them victory in that day How good it is, and how beautiful! Corn shall make the young men flourish and new wine the maidens."

 


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Bibliography Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Zechariah 9:4". "Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/teb/zechariah-9.html.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, November 16th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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