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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 10

 

 

Verse 1-2

JEHOVAH THE SOURCE OF PROSPERITY, 1, 2.

Zechariah 10 is joined closely to Zechariah 9:17, by means of Zechariah 10:1-2. Zechariah 9:17, contains a promise of prosperity in the future, but, while anticipating the glories of the future, the prophet is anxious to transform the present; hence he exhorts his contemporaries to turn even now to Jehovah, the giver of every good and perfect gift.

R.V. gives a more satisfactory translation of Zechariah 10:1 : “Ask ye of Jehovah rain in the time of the latter rain, even of Jehovah that maketh lightnings; and he will give them showers of rain, to every one grass in the field.”

Time of the latter rain — See on Joel 2:23. These rains are specified because they are indispensable for the proper ripening of the crops.

That maketh lightnings (R.V.) — Which are the harbingers of rain. Jehovah is described as the Lord of nature, therefore appeal should be made to him.

Showers of rain — Literally, rain of heavy rain; that is, abundant rain (compare Job 37:6). As a result there will be for everyone grass — Better, in a more general sense, vegetation; the term includes all the products suitable for man’s diet (Genesis 1:29). Rain is specified as a divine blessing, so as to connect the exhortation with Zechariah 9:17; but as there grain and wine represent prosperity in general, so here rain represents all blessings needed to bring about the prosperity.


Verse 2

2. The exhortation to appeal to Jehovah is supported by a reference to the inability of the idols to help those who put their trust in them (compare Hosea 2:5 ff.; Amos 2:4).

Idols — Better, R.V., “teraphim.” See on Hosea 3:4.

Have spoken vanity — In promising rain and fertility which they could not give.

Diviners — The men who claimed to be able, by the use of various illegitimate means, to determine the will of the deity. The mass of the people seemed to be unable to distinguish between the true prophet and the fraudulent diviner, and at times the latter appears to have been exceedingly popular (Isaiah 2:6; Isaiah 3:2).

Have seen a lie — In the visions in which they claimed to have received the divine revelation.

False dreams — Dreams were a second means of divine revelation (Numbers 12:6) which was imitated by the diviners; they gave instructions which they claimed had come to them from God in dreams.

They comfort in vain — Their words are powerless; they remain unfulfilled, and therefore do not help the people in their distress. That the prophet, when speaking of the helplessness of the idols, is thinking of past experiences of the nation is made plain by the rest of the verse, though R.V. uses present tenses.

Therefore — Because the people appealed to teraphim and diviners rather than to Jehovah.

They — The Israelites.

Went their way as a flock — Literally, pulled up their stakes. The metaphor is taken from the pulling up of the stakes of a tent or sheepfold. The reference appears to be to the exile. The verb form indicates that the act itself took place in the past but that its effects continue to the present (G.-K., 106g.).

Were troubled — R.V., “afflicted”; or, oppressed; by the hostile powers. The form of the verb is not the same as the preceding; it expresses continuity of action; they were oppressed continually.

Because there was no shepherd — The last word is equivalent to ruler (see p. 603). There was no ruler strong enough to guard and care for the people (Numbers 27:17; Hosea 10:3; Hosea 10:15; Hosea 13:10-11; compare Jeremiah 23:4), or to ward off the calamity. The use of the term shepherd prepares the way for the next oracle.


Verse 3

RESTORATION OF THE JEWS AND OVERTHROW OF THE HOSTILE NATIONS, Zechariah 10:3 to Zechariah 11:3.

When the Jews came into the power of hostile nations (Zechariah 10:2) they were governed by bad shepherds, that is, by cruel foreign rulers. But a change is about to take place; Jehovah will cut off the bad shepherds and deliver the oppressed flock (3). Judah and Ephraim will be transformed into mighty men (4-7), and Jehovah will bring them back from Assyria and Egypt to dwell in their own land (8-12), where they may rejoice over the wonderful deliverance, while the hostile powers wail and lament over their own complete undoing (Zechariah 11:1-3).


Verses 3-7

Rejuvenation of Judah and Ephraim, 3-7.

Jehovah has resolved to deliver the oppressed people; his anger will be kindled against the oppressors. The exiles will be made strong, so that they can trample their enemies under foot; then they will be restored to their own land, because Jehovah will have mercy upon them.

In Zechariah 10:3-4 the prophet looks into the future, therefore the tenses of R.V. are to be preferred.

The shepherds — Now ruling over the Jews, the representatives of the foreign nations.

Goats [“he-goats”] — Who lead the herds — bell-wethers; practically synonymous with “shepherds.” There is no reason for supposing that the prophet means to make a distinction between the monarchs (shepherds) and the nobles or officials (he-goats). Against the oppressors the anger of Jehovah is kindled.

Hath visited — A perfect of prophetic certainty; Jehovah has already decided upon the act, and he will surely carry out his purpose. The verb is used here in a favorable sense (compare Jeremiah 23:2), visit with blessing.

Flock — The picture of the shepherd and the sheep is continued.

House of Judah — In apposition to his flock. Ephraim is not to be excluded (Zechariah 10:6-7), but Judah forms the nucleus, to which Ephraim will be joined.

As his goodly horse — Literally, horse of splendor; a splendid war horse. Not only will the oppressors be cut off, but Israel will be transformed from an oppressed and trembling flock into a strong and victorious host, resembling in courage and swiftness a spirited war horse.


Verses 4-6

4. Henceforth the nation will be governed by native rulers.

Out of him — Does the pronoun refer to Judah or to Jehovah? On this point commentators are not agreed; the former is the more probable, the thought being that in the future the rulers called corner, nail, etc., will come forth not from the foreign nations but from Judah.

Corner — R.V., “corner stone.” The term is applied to the Messiah in Isaiah 28:16, but here it is equivalent to leader (Isaiah 19:13; 1 Samuel 14:38). The leader stands out prominently like the corner.

Nail — The origin of the metaphor is not quite clear. It may, perhaps, be traced to the pin with which the tent is fastened down (Judges 4:21-22), or to the peg on which articles and vessels are hung on the wall. Here it represents those in the community on whose counsel and support others depend, the leaders (Isaiah 22:23).

Battle bow — Military leaders, or, perhaps, warriors in general.

Every oppressor — R.V., “every ruler”; margin, “exactor.” The same word is translated in Exodus 3:7; Exodus 5:10, etc., “taskmaster”; here it appears to be used in the general sense ruler (compare Isaiah 3:12; Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 60:17), though the idea may be implied that these rulers will oppress the enemies who now oppress the Jews.

Together — The force of this word is not certain; it cannot be taken with the verb, “shall go forth together,” since the two are separated in Hebrew; taken with “every ruler” it would seem to indicate that the prophet expects more than one ruler to come forth. Some commentators take it with the next verse (see below).

Zechariah 10:5 seems to be an expansion of 3b.

Mighty men — Heroes, courageous warriors.

Tread down — See on Zechariah 9:15, where, however, a different verb is used.

In the mire — Perhaps better, with a slight alteration, as the mire (compare Micah 7:10). They will fight so bravely because Jehovah will be with them.

The riders on horses — Of the hostile army. The present Hebrew text of Zechariah 10:5 is awkward, and most recent commentators suggest one or more alterations, all of them very simple. Marti would read 5a, “together shall they tread down in battle the mighty men as dirt in the streets.”

Zechariah 10:6 contains a promise that Ephraim will share in the blessings.

I will strengthen — The verb is a derivative of the noun mighty men (Zechariah 10:5), equivalent to I will make heroes.

Joseph — Ephraim (Zechariah 10:7; Zechariah 9:13), Israel, the northern kingdom.

I will save — From oppression; this deliverance will be the first blessing.

I will bring them again to place them — R.V., “I will bring them back”; from exile. The form of the verb is peculiar, but the translation of R.V. fits better into the context. The deliverance is wrought, not because they deserve it, but because Jehovah has decided to have mercy on them once more.

As though I had not cast them off — The exile seemed to prove that Jehovah had cast them off, but in the glorious future all traces of the divine disfavor will disappear. In spite of their sins Jehovah is still their God, and when in distress they cry unto him he will hear them. For “I will hear them” G.A. Smith translates, “I will hold converse with them.”


Verse 7

7. Ephraim, like Judah, is transformed into a nation of heroes, and realizing that once more the divine favor is theirs, they will rejoice greatly.

As through wine — They will be beside themselves for joy (compare Zechariah 9:15). The magnitude of rejoicing is indicated in the rest of the verse. It will become contagious; all will join in it, and all will give the glory to Jehovah who has wrought the wonderful salvation.

Their children — Not young boys and girls, but the individual Ephraimites; compare “sons (the same word in Hebrew) of Zion” (Zechariah 9:13).


Verses 8-12

Restoration of the exiles from Assyria and Egypt, 8-12.

These verses describe more minutely the deliverance of Ephraim. 8.

I will hiss — Give the signal to return (compare Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 7:18).

Have redeemed — The redemption is already decreed, though its execution is still future.

As they have increased — As they were great in numbers before the calamity fell upon them, so they will be again. 9.

I will sow — An obscure and much-discussed expression. The marginal reading, “though I sow,” is to be preferred; but even that leaves it an open question whether the sowing is already passed or still in the future, nor does it indicate the exact force of sow. The meaning scatter seems most suitable, though Hebrew usage may not support it. The Hebrew, if interpreted naturally, places the sowing in the future; a change of one vowel point would throw it in the past, and to the past it seems to refer — “Though I scattered them among the peoples,” that is, during the exile. The succeeding clause is the apodosis.

They shall remember me — With the above suggested translation of the first clause, the verb here should not be rendered as a simple future but as a past tense expressing the idea of continuation (G.-K., 107d) — “though I scattered them, yet they continued to remember me.”

Far countries — The lands of exile, here Egypt and Assyria (Zechariah 10:10).

Shall live with their children — With this clause begins the promise. Those who are now in exile shall not perish, but they and their children shall live (Hosea 6:2; Ezekiel 37:1 ff.) and return to their old home. LXX. reads, “bring up their children”; which is probably meant to express a similar idea. They will raise families, which are considered a gift from God (Psalms 127:3-5), and with them they will return home.

Zechariah 10:10 takes up the promise of restoration from Zechariah 10:8.

Egypt,… Assyria — The two long-time enemies of the people of Israel (see on Hosea 8:13; Hosea 9:3; compare Isaiah 11:11-12). On the use of these names here and their bearing on the date of the prophecy see Introduction, p. 584.

Gilead… Lebanon — The former is the territory east of the Jordan (see on Amos 1:3), the latter is the mountain range in the north of the territory west of the Jordan (compare Hosea 14:4-8). Gilead was rich in pasture land, Lebanon in forests; hence the two districts might be named as types of extreme fertility. If so, the thought would be that the restored exiles will be settled in the most fertile regions of Palestine. Or the two districts might represent all the territory east and west of the Jordan respectively; then the promise would be that the restored exiles will occupy all the ancient territory of Israel; and even then the land will not be able to hold them (Isaiah 49:19-20).

Zechariah 10:11 elaborates upon the promise of 10a. The prophet describes the future deliverance in language which is strongly colored by the memory of the exodus. The details of interpretation are uncertain.

He — LXX., “they”; the exiles. The pronoun in Hebrew refers to Jehovah, which is, perhaps, to be preferred (see below).

Shall pass through the sea with affliction — He will bring affliction upon the sea (the Red Sea), so that it will dry up and let the exiles pass through. R.V., “he will pass through the sea of affliction”; literally, the sea, affliction (in apposition), which expresses a similar thought, namely, the sea which caused affliction, that is, at the time of the exodus — the Red Sea. The expression is peculiar. Von Orelli, following some of the ancient versions, takes affliction as the subject and renders “affliction shall pass over the sea,” which expresses a thought similar to that of A.V. Some take affliction in a physical sense — narrowness — and read “the sea of narrowness” — the narrow sea, the Red Sea. If the present Hebrew text is correct, R.V. is to be preferred. Jehovah will pass through the sea to smite it, so that the exiles may be able to cross dry-shod (compare Isaiah 11:15). Various emendations have been suggested. Marti, for example, reads 11a, “and they shall pass through the Sea of Egypt, and dry up shall all the depths of the Nile.”

The waves in the sea — Another very peculiar construction.

The deeps of the river shall dry up — R.V. rightly understands “river” of the Nile (see on Amos 8:8, where the same word is used). The Nile will dry up to permit the exiles to return. Passages like Isaiah 11:15, and even the context here might lead one to understand river of the Euphrates, though the word river used in the Isaiah passage and elsewhere is not the one used here. The Red Sea will dry up to let the exiles return from Egypt, the Euphrates to let them return from Assyria.

Pride — The blow which will fall upon the nation will result in its utter humiliation.

Scepter — The symbol of power. The taking away of the scepter symbolizes the withdrawal of power and authority; Egypt also will be humbled.

12. Strengthen them in Jehovah — Jehovah himself will be the strength, that is, the source of the strength, of the exiles. With Jehovah on their side they need not fear.

Walk… in his name — See on Micah 4:5. Up and down would better be omitted; it is a useless and confusing addition by the English translators. Practically all the Hebrew prophets expect the restoration of the scattered Jews; hence from this promise the date of this utterance cannot be determined.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Zechariah 10:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/zechariah-10.html. 1874-1909.

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Tuesday, December 10th, 2019
the Second Week of Advent
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