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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible
Zechariah 2

 

 

Verse 1-2

1, 2. A man with a measuring line — An expansion of the promise in Zechariah 1:16. The man is distinct from the interpreting angel; he is left undefined, because his personality is unimportant; his act alone is of significance. Again the prophet seeks an explanation.

Whither goest thou? — In the other visions the prophet addresses himself to the interpreting angel, here to the man with the measuring line. The interpreter appears after the man has given the desired information.

To measure Jerusalem — To determine the extent of the city. Zechariah 2:4-5 suggest that it was for the purpose of determining the location of the walls, which were still in ruins in the days of Zechariah.


Verses 1-13

The third vision — the man with the measuring line, 1-13.

The overthrow of the hostile nations (Zechariah 1:18-21) will prepare the way for the exaltation of the oppressed people. Jerusalem will be rebuilt, Jehovah will return to live in Zion, and many nations will join themselves to the redeemed community. To bring these truths before the prophet and the people is the purpose of the third vision, in which Zechariah sees a man with a measuring line in his hand, going forth to measure Jerusalem, for the purpose of determining the location of the new walls (Zechariah 2:1-2). He is informed that walls are not necessary because (Zechariah 2:1) the city will be too populous to be contained within walls, (Zechariah 2:2) Jehovah himself will be a wall of fire around her (Zechariah 2:3-5). The vision proper is followed by an exhortation to the exiled Jews to get ready to flee from the land of exile (Zechariah 2:6-7), for Jehovah is about to shake the nations (Zechariah 2:8-9) and to return to Zion, to take his permanent abode there (Zechariah 2:10-13).


Verse 3

3. Now the interpreting angel appears upon the scene.

Went forth — The same verb is translated in the next clause “went out.” This raises the question, whence did the one or the other go forth? For the first verb LXX. reads “stood”; that is, beside the prophet. If the present Hebrew text is retained we must think of the angel as stepping forward from the place where he stood beside the prophet, or from the background to which he had retired after he had interpreted the preceding vision. As he stood forth he was met by another angel who came upon the scene from the opposite direction. This thought is implied also in the reading of LXX. To express the thought more clearly Zechariah 2:3 might be translated, “And, behold, the angel that talked with me stood forth, and another angel came forth to meet him.” Less natural is the interpretation which makes the interpreting angel come upon the scene from the presence of Jehovah with a new message for the prophet, when he is met by the other angel.


Verse 4-5

4, 5. And said unto him — The interpreting angel is the speaker. The other angel becomes his servant, so that he himself may remain with the prophet, whose guide and interpreter he is to be throughout the entire series of visions.

Run, speak to this young man — Not to the prophet, but to the man with the measuring line, who meanwhile had gone to his task. The messenger is exhorted to run, so that the man may be stopped quickly, for his efforts are wasted.

As towns without walls — The new Jerusalem will not be like the capital of the pre-exilic kingdom; it cannot be measured, nor confined within walls; it will resemble rather a wide-open country, covered with towns and villages. This extension becomes necessary as a result of the wonderful increase in the number of inhabitants and their possessions (Isaiah 49:19-20; Ezekiel 38:11), all of which will be an evidence of the restored favor of Jehovah.

The absence of walls might be distressing to some, for it would seem to expose them to hostile attacks, but there need be no fear, for the protection granted to the new city will be superior to anything that could be offered even by the strongest wall; Jehovah himself will be round about her (compare Psalms 125:1-2).

A wall of fire — A defense of fire that will consume everyone who dares to come near it (Isaiah 26:1; Isaiah 33:20).

The glory in the midst of her — Jehovah will manifest himself in all his glory, so that the whole city will be filled with it.

The vision is followed by an exhortation addressed to the Jews who are still in exile, to prepare for a return, for Jehovah is about to manifest himself in mercy and power. Some consider the verses a part of the account of the vision. The interpreting angel is thought to have uttered the words in the hearing of the prophet, so that the latter might pass them on. It seems more natural, however, to suppose that the vision closes with Zechariah 2:5, and that Zechariah 2:6-13 are an expansion of the vision by the prophet (compare Amos 8:4 ff; Amos 9:2 ff.). He has seen the glories of the future; now he thinks of the exiles still far from home, and to them he addresses this message of hope; they too will share, and that speedily, in the promised glory.


Verses 6-9

6. Ho, ho — The Hebrew word is translated also “woe” or “alas”; it is more than a call to attention; it always expresses a feeling of pain on the part of the speaker, arising from compassion with those who are addressed.

Flee — The time of restoration has come, when Jehovah will send judgment upon their present abode.

The land of the north — Babylonia, the land of exile (Zechariah 2:7; compare Jeremiah 3:12; Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 23:8; see on Joel 2:20).

I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven — The more important of the numerous interpretations suggested for these words are: (1) Spread out=scatter (in exile), as the four winds=to the four winds, that is, in every direction; the whole clause referring to the past judgment upon the Jews, by which they were scattered in every direction; now the prophet urges them to return from these places. This interpretation would make the land of the north, as the land of exile, practically equivalent to the four winds of heaven, an identification which may not be altogether impossible, but which is highly improbable. Another objection is the presence of the preposition as, which cannot be used in the sense of to (compare Ezekiel 17:21; LXX. reads “from”; see below).

(2) On the assumption that the present text is correct, a more satisfactory interpretation, which retains the natural meaning of the words, regards the tense as the so-called prophetic perfect, used by the prophet because he “so transposes himself in imagination into the future that he describes the future event as if it had been already seen or heard by him” (G.-K., 106n). With this interpretation the clause supplies the reason for the appeal. The people are to flee because Jehovah does not want them to perish with their captors; he has decreed to make of them a great nation, whose influence will be felt everywhere, just as the winds of heaven blow in every direction. LXX. offers a slightly different reading, which suits the context very well, “for I will gather you from the four winds of heaven,” that is, from every direction; a promise found frequently in the Old Testament. The beginning is to be made in Babylon.

The appeal is repeated in Zechariah 2:7 in a slightly different form.

Zion — Understood ordinarily as a vocative, equivalent to inhabitant of Zion; applied here to those who still dwell in the land of exile, called in Zechariah 2:10 “daughter of Zion.” LXX. takes “Zion” as an accusative of direction — to Zion; the whole clause, “escape to Zion.” If “to Zion” is read with LXX., Zechariah 2:7 carries further the thought of Zechariah 2:6. The exiles are to escape from Babylon to Zion. This translation necessitates a change in the verb forms of Zechariah 2:7, which are in the feminine singular; if they are co-ordinated with “flee” in Zechariah 2:6 the masculine plural must be read. Since the common translation does not require any change, it should probably be retained.

With the daughter of Babylon — Among the inhabitants of Babylon. If interpreted like the common phrase daughter of Zion, the phrase used here might mean either the city of Babylon without its inhabitants (compare Lamentations 2:8), or the inhabitants without the city (compare Micah 4:10), or the city including its inhabitants (so most frequently); here the emphasis seems to be on dwelling among the inhabitants.

Zechariah 2:8-9 give one reason why they are to flee: Jehovah is about to execute judgment upon the oppressors. Zechariah 2:8 is one of the verses that try the patience and skill of commentators, more especially the clause, “after the glory hath he sent me.” With these words omitted the meaning becomes clear. Jehovah is sending a message of judgment to the nations, because they have “touched” his dearest possession.

Toucheth — Roughly, for the purpose of inflicting pain and suffering.

The apple of his eye — Literally, door of his eye; a different word is used in Deuteronomy 32:10, where the same idea is expressed. The reference is to the pupil of the eye, which is peculiarly sensitive to the slightest touch; so Jehovah is very sensitive to any wrong inflicted upon his people.

After the glory hath he sent me — These words have proved a puzzle to all commentators. To enumerate the various interpretations suggested would take up considerable space, while nothing would be gained by it. If the words are original it seems best to regard not only the words quoted but the entire sentence, “After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you,” as a parenthetical clause, spoken by the prophet. In Zechariah 2:6-7 he has addressed the exiles, in Zechariah 2:8-9 he announces judgment upon the nations; parenthetically he exclaims, I have a message not only to you exiles, but also to the nations who are oppressing you. The glory after which the speaker is sent must be understood as the fame or honor which comes to a messenger when his words are fulfilled; by the fulfillment the prophet will be attested as a true and reliable messenger of Jehovah. In the Messages of the Prophets the first part is paraphrased “the fulfillment of the prediction will bring honor to me” (compare Isaiah 8:18). The meaning remains practically the same if the words are interpreted as a relative clause, “who sent me after glory.…” The expression to send after glory is peculiar in this connection; the words may be out of place, or the text may have suffered corruption.

The message of judgment is contained in Zechariah 2:9.

For — Hebrews ki; should be left untranslated; it simply introduces the direct address, like the Greek οτι (G.-K., 157b).

I will shake — Better, I am about to shake. The Hebrew construction calls attention to the imminence of the event (G.-K., 116p.). Shake the hand is equivalent to strike (Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16).

A spoil to their servants — R.V., “to those that served them.” The judgment will be according to the lex talionis. The nations have enslaved the Jews; when Jehovah interferes the Jews will enslave the nations.

Ye shall know — The exiles, for whose encouragement even the words of judgment against the nations are uttered. When the nations are overthrown these exiles will be convinced that the prophet is a messenger of Jehovah, and they will be ready to place confidence in his other utterances.


Verses 10-13

In Zechariah 2:10-13 Jehovah urges the “daughter of Zion” to rejoice.

Daughter of Zion — Identical with “Zion” in Zechariah 2:7, the exiles to be delivered from Babylon; they are to rejoice greatly in anticipation of the glorious redemption.

Come,… dwell — The construction is the same as in Zechariah 2:9, “I am about to come.” The coming is imminent, but the divine purpose can be carried out only if the temple is completed (Zechariah 1:16).

In the midst of thee — In the midst of the exiles to help and comfort them (see on Joel 2:27). The sway of Jehovah will extend also over other nations.

Many nations shall be joined to Jehovah — They will recognize him as the true God and render homage to him (see on Haggai 2:7; Micah 4:1-5; compare Isaiah 2:2-4).

In that day — When the promises made to the exiles receive their fulfillment. These “converted” nations will become the people of Jehovah, and with the Jews they will form one people, in whose midst Jehovah will dwell as helper and protector (see on Joel 2:27). 11b is a repetition of 9b and has the same significance (see on Zechariah 2:9).

Zechariah 2:12 repeats the thought of Zechariah 1:17, that Jehovah will select Jerusalem to be his royal dwelling place.

Inherit — Equivalent to take possession. There may be a reference to Deuteronomy 32:9, where Israel is called the “portion” of Jehovah and the “lot of his inheritance.”

Judah — The remnant escaped from Babylon.

Holy land — So called because Jehovah will dwell there (see on Joel 2:1; compare Exodus 3:5).

Choose Jerusalem — See on Zechariah 1:17.

13. The crisis is at hand, the judgment is about to break forth; it behooves all to await in awe the terrible manifestation of Jehovah.

Be silent — Wait in reverential silence (Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7).

All flesh — Not only the Jews, but all the nations of the earth, for all will be affected by the coming of Jehovah.

He is raised up — R.V., “waked up”; from his inactivity. He has already started to carry out his redemptive purpose, as indicated in the preceding verses (compare Haggai 2:6).

His holy habitation — In the heavens (compare Amos 9:6). While his people suffered he seemed to take no interest in the affairs of the world; now all is changed; he is about to execute judgment, and to establish a new and more glorious kingdom of God upon the earth.

 


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Bibliography Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Zechariah 2:4". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/zechariah-2.html. 1874-1909.

Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, November 20th, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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