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1911 Encyclopedia Britannica
son of Berechiah, son of Iddo (or by contraction, son of Iddo), a prophet of the Old Testament. He appeared in Jerusalem along with Haggai, in the second year of Darius Hystaspis (520 B.C.), to warn and encourage the 1 A connexion with a divine name (cf. Baal-Zebul) is not improbable; see H. W. Hogg, Ency. Bib., art. " Zebulun." Jews to address themselves at length to the restoration of the Temple.' Supported by the prophets, Zerubbabel and Joshua set about the work, and the elders of Judah built and the work went forward (Ezra v. i seq., vi. 14). The first eight chapters of the book of Zechariah exactly fit into this historical setting. They are divided by precise chronological headings into three sections - (a) chap. i. 1-6, in the eighth month of the second year of Darius; (b) chap. i. 7 - vi. 15, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month of the same year; (c) chap. vii. - viii., on the fourth day of the ninth month of the fourth year of Darius. The first section is a preface containing exhortation in general terms. The main section is the second, containing a series of night visions, the significant features of which are pointed out by an angel who stands by the prophet and answers his questions.
i. 7-17. The divine chariots and horses that make the round of the world by Yahweh's orders return to the heavenly palace and report that there is still no movement among the nations, no sign of the Messianic crisis. Seventy years have passed, and Zion and the cities of Judah still mourn. Sad news! but Yahweh gives a comfortable assurance of His gracious return to Jerusalem and the rebuilding of His temple.
i. 18-21 (Heb. ii. 1-4). Four horns, representing the hostile world-power that oppresses Israel and Jerusalem, are cast down by four smiths.
ii. 1-13 (Heb. ii. 5-17). The new Jerusalem is laid out with the measuring line. It is to have no walls, that its population may not be limited, and it needs none, for Yahweh is its protection. The catastrophe of " the land of the north " is near to come; then the exiles of Zion shall stream back from all quarters, the converted heathen shall join them, Yahweh Himself will dwell in the midst of them, and even now He stirs Himself from His holy habitation.
iii. 1 - to. The high priest Joshua is accused before Yahweh by Satan, but is acquitted and given rule in Yahweh's house and courts, with the right of access to Yahweh in priestly intercession. The restoration of the temple and its service is a pledge of still higher things. The promised " branch " (or " shoot,". imah), the Messiah, will come; the national kingdom is restored in its old splendour; and a time of general felicity dawns, when every man shall sit happy under his vine and under his fig tree. As by rights the Messianic kingdom should follow immediately on the exile, it is probable that the prophet designs to hint in a guarded way that Zerubbabel, who in all other places is mentioned along with Joshua, is on the point of ascending the throne of his ancestor David. The jewel with seven facets is already there, the inscription only has still to be engraved on it (iii. 9). The charges brought against the high priest consist simply in the obstacles that have hitherto impeded the restoration of the temple and its service; and in like manner the guilt of the land (iii. 9) is simply the still continuing domination of foreigners.
iv. 1-14. Beside a lighted golden candlestick of seven branches stand two olive trees - Zerubbabel and Joshua, the two anointed ones - specially watched over by Him whose seven eyes run through the whole earth. This explanation of the vision is separated from the description by an animated dialogue, not quite clear in its expression, in which it is said that the mountain of obstacles shall disappear before Zerubbabel, and that, having begun the building of the temple, he shall also bring it to an end in spite of those who now mock at the day of small beginnings.
v. 1-4. A written roll flies over the Holy Land; this is a concrete representation of the curse which in future will fall of itself on all crime, so that, e.g., no man who has suffered theft will have occasion himself to pronounce a curse against the thief (cf. Judges xvii. 2).
v. 5-11. Guilt, personified as a woman, is cast into. an ephahmeasure with a heavy lid and carried from Judah to Chaldaea, where it is to have its home for the future.
vi. 1-8. The divine teams, four in number, again traverse the world toward the four winds, to execute Yahweh's commands. That which goes northward is charged to wreak His anger on the north country. The series of visions has now reached its close, returning to its starting-point in i. 7 sqq.
' The alleged foundation of the second temple in 536 (Ezra iii. 8-13; cf. iv. 1-5, 24) is open to doubt, because (a) the statements of the compiler of Ezra are not contemporary evidence, (b) the contemporary Haggai and Zechariah seem to imply that this work first began in 520 (Hag. ii. 18; Zech. viii. 9; cf. Ezra v. 2). If, on the ground of Ezra v. 16, we accept the truth of an original foundation in 536 (so Driver, Minor Prophets, p. 148), that event was admittedly formal only and without success, so that the real beginning was made in 520. Wellhausen (Isr. and Jild. Gesch., 3rd ed., p. 160) rejects the earlier foundation; on the other hand, he insists, with the majority of scholars and against Kosters, on the actual return of exiles in 537 to form the nucleus of the post-exilic community (loc. cit., p. 157 n.).
An appendix follows (vi. 9-15). Jews from Babylon have brought gold and silver to Jerusalem; of these the prophet mist make a crown designed for the " branch " who is to build Yahweh's house and sit king on the throne, but retain a good understanding with the high priest. Zerubbabel is certainly meant here, and, if the received text names Joshua instead of him (vi. ii), this is only a correction, made for reasons easy to understand, which breaks the context and destroys the sense and the reference of " them both " in verse 13.
The third section (chaps. vii. - viii.), dated from the fourth year of Darius, contains an inquiry whether the fast days that arose in the captivity are still to be observed, with a comforting and encouraging reply of the prophet.
Thus throughout the first eight chapters the scene is Jerusalem in the early part of the reign of Darius. 2 Zerubbabel and Joshua, the prince and the priest, are the leaders of the community. The great concern of the time and the chief practical theme of these chapters is the building of the temple; but its restoration is only the earnest of greater things to follow, viz., the glorious restoration of David's kingdom. The horizon of these prophecies is everywhere limited by the narrow conditions of the time, and their aim is clearly seen. The visions hardly veil the thought, and the mode of expression is usually simple, except in the Messianic passages, where the tortuousness and obscurity are perhaps intentional. Noteworthy is the affinity between some notions evidently not first framed by the prophet himself and the prologue to Job - the heavenly hosts that wander through the earth and bring back their report to Yahweh's throne, the figure of Satan, the idea that suffering and calamity are evidences of guilt and of accusations presented before God.
Passing from chaps. i. - viii. to chaps. ix. seq., we at once feel ourselves transported into a different world.
(1) Yahweh's word is accomplished on Syria-Phoenicia and Philistia; and then the Messianic kingdom begins in Zion, and the Israelites detained among the heathen, Judah and Ephraim combined, receive a part in it. The might of the sons of Javan is broken in battle against this kingdom (ch. ix.). After an intermezzo of three verses (x. 1-3: " Ask rain of Yahweh, not of the diviners ") a second and quite analogous Messianic prophecy follows. The foreign tyrants fall; the lordship of Assyria and Egypt has an end; the autonomy and martial power of the nation are restored. The scattered exiles return as citizens of the new theocracy, all obstacles in their way parting asunder as when the waves of the Red Sea gave passage to Israel at the founding of the old theocracy (x. 3-12). Again there is an interlude of three verses (xi. 1-3): fire seizes the cedars of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan.3 (2) The difficult passage about the shepherds follows. The shepherds (rulers) of the nation make their flock an article of trade and treat the sheep as sheep for the shambles. Therefore the inhabited world shall fall a sacrifice to the tyranny of its kings, while Israel is delivered to a shepherd who feeds the sheep for those who make a trade of the flock (lri y n ??zs?, xi. 7, 11 = " they that sell them," ver. 5) and enters on his office with two staves, " Favour " and " Union." He destroys " the three shepherds " in one month, but is soon weary of his flock and the flock of him. He breaks the staff " Favour," i.e. the covenant of peace with the nations, and asks the traders for his hire. Receiving thirty pieces of silver, he casts it into the temple treasury and breaks the staff " Union," i.e. the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. He is succeeded by a foolish shepherd, who neglects his flock and lets it go to ruin. At length Yahweh intervenes; the foolish shepherd falls by the sword; two-thirds of the people perish with him in the Messianic crisis, but the remnant of one-third forms the seed of the new theocracy (xi. 4-17 taken with xiii. 7-9, according to the necessary transposition proposed by Ewald). All this must be an allegory of past events, the time present to the author and his hopes for the future beginning only at xi. 17, xiii. 7-9.
(3) Chap. xii. presents a third variation on the Messianic promise. All heathendom is gathered together against Jerusalem and perishes there. Yahweh first gives victory to the countryfolk of Judah and then they rescue the capital. After this triumph the noblest houses of Jerusalem hold, each by itself, a great lamentation over a martyr " whom they have pierced " (or " whom men have The historical occasion of the emergence of Haggai and Zechariah was supplied by the series of revolts following the succession of Darius in 522 (cf. Driver, o p. cit., p. 150). His reconquest of Babylon in 520 may, in particular, have seemed the prelude to the Messianic age (Wellhausen, Gesch., p. 161 n.).
" The cedars of Lebanon, the oaks of Bashan, the forest of Jordan represent the national might of the heathen kingdoms " (Wellh., Die Kl. Proph., 3rd ed., p. 192).
pierced "). It is taken for granted that the readers will know who the martyr is, and the exegesis of the Church applies the passage to our Lord. Chap. xiii. 1-6 is a continuation of chap. xii.; the dawn of the day of salvation is accompanied by a general purging away of idolatry and the enthusiasm of false prophets.
(4) Yet a fourth variation of the picture of the incoming of the Messianic deliverance is given in chap. xiv. The heathen gather against Jerusalem and take the city, but do not utterly destroy the inhabitants. The Yahweh, at a time known only to Himself, shall appear with all His saints on Mount Olivet and destroy the heathen in battle, while the men of Jerusalem take refuge in their terror in the great cleft, that opens where Yahweh sets His foot. Now the new era begins, and even the heathen do homage to Yahweh by bringing due tribute to the annual feast of tabernacles. All in Jerusalem is holy down to the bells on the horses and the cooking-pots.
There is a striking contrast between chaps. i. - viii. and chaps. ix. - xiv. The former prophecy is closely linked to the situation and wants of the community of Jerusalem in the second year of Darius I., and relates to the restoration of the temple and, perhaps, the elevation of Zerubbabel to the throne of David. In chaps. ix. - xiv., however, " there is nothing about the restoration of the temple, or about Joshua and Zerubbabel; but we read of the evil rulers, foreign and native alike, who maltreat their subjects, and enrich themselves at their expense.' There are corresponding differences in style and speech, and it is particularly to be noted that, while the superscriptions in the first part name the author and give the date of each oracle with precision, those in the second part (ix. i., xii. i) are without name or date. That both parts do not belong to the same author is now generally admitted, as is also the fact that chaps. ix. - xiv. are of much later date.' The predictions of these chapters have no affinity either with the prophecy of Amos, Hosea and Isaiah, or with that of Jeremiah. The kind of eschatology which we find in Zech. ix. - xiv. was first introduced by Ezekiel, who in particular is the author of the conception that the time of deliverance is to be preceded by a joint attack of all nations on Jerusalem, in which they come to final overthrow (Ezek. xxxviii. seq.; Isa. lxvi. 18-24; Joel). The importance attached to the temple service, even in Messianic times (Zech. xiv.), implies an author who lived in the ideas of the religious commonwealth of post-exile times. A future king is hoped for; but in the present there is no Davidic king, only a Davidic family standing on the same level with other noble families in Jerusalem (xii. '7, 12). The " bastard " (mixed race) of Ashdod reminds us of Neh. xiii. 23 sqq.; and the words of ix. 12 (" to-day, also, do I declare that I will render double unto thee ") have no sense unless they refer back to the deliverance from Babylonian exile. But the decisive argument is that in ix. 13 the sons of Javan, i.e. the Greeks, appear as the representatives of the heathen world-power. This part of the prophecy, therefore, is later than Alexander, who overthrew the Persian empire in 333. Egypt and Assyria (x. 10, II) must be taken to represent the Ptolemaic and Seleucid kingdoms, which together made up for the Jews the empire of the sons of Javan.3 The whole prophecy, however, is not a unity. By reference to the analysis given above, it will be seen that there are four sections in Zech. ix. - xiv., viz. (I) ix., x. (xi. 1-3); (2) xi. 4-17, xiii. 7-9; (3) xii., xiii. 1-6; (4) xiv., which are more or less independent of each other. Of these (3) and (4) are of marked eschatological character, and show little contact with definite historical events ' Driver, op. cit., p. 229, who also refers to the differences of Messianic outlook, and the substitution of an atmosphere of war for one of peace.
Earlier critics made the second part the older. Chaps. ix. - xi. were ascribed to a contemporary of Amos and Hosea, about the middle of the 8th century B.C., because Ephraim is mentioned as well as Judah, and Assyria along with Egypt (x. to), while the neighbours of Israel appear in ix. I sq. in the same way as in Amos i. - ii. That chaps. xii. - xiv. also were pre-exilic was held to appear especially in the attack on idolatry and lying prophecy (xiii. 1-6); but, as this prophecy speaks only of Judah and Jerusalem, it was dated after the fall of Samaria, and assigned to the last days of the Judaean kingdom on the strength of xii. 11, where an allusion is seen by some to the mourning for King Josiah, slain in battle at Megiddo.
3 What follows is summarized from Wellhausen, Die Kleinen Propheten, pp. 190, 192, 195-197.
(except xii. 7, which suggests the Maccabean age). On the other hand (I) implies a period when the Jews were governed by the Seleucids, since it is against these that the anger of Yahweh is first directed (ix. I, 2). 4 This section, therefore, belongs to the first third of the 2nd century B.C., when the Jews were first held in the power of the Seleucids. 5 The same date may be assigned to (2), where the traffickers in the sheep may be regarded as the Seleucid rulers, and the shepherds as the Jewish high priests and ethnarchs; the prelude to the Maccabean revolt largely consisted of the rapid and violent changes here figured. In particular, the evil shepherd of xi. 15 f. may be Menelaus; whilst the disinterested speaker may be Hyrcanus ben Tobias (cf. xi. 13 and II. Macc. ill. II).
Recent criticism (for further details see G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets, ii. pp. 450 f., and Driver, Minor Prophets, pp. 232-234) shows some difference of opinion as to the question of unity, and also of actual date within the Greek period. Whilst G. A. Smith (following Stade) and Marti find no adequate ground for the further division of Zech. ix. - xiv., Driver (following Nowack) accepts the fourfold division indicated above (" Four anonymous Prophecies, perhaps the work of four distinct Prophets," op. cit., p. 2 35). In regard to date, G. A. Smith (here also following Stade) accepts the earlier part of the Greek period (306-278). With this Driver provisionally agrees, whilst Nowack thinks no more can be said than that (I) belongs to the Greek and (2) - (4) to the postexilic period in general. On the other hand, Marti assigns the whole to 160 B.C. (Maccabean period; a little later than Wellhausen) and sees a number of references to historical personages of that age. The chief arguments to be urged against this late date are the character of the Hebrew style (Driver, op. cit., p. 233) and the alleged close of the prophetic canon by 200; but perhaps neither of these can be regarded as very convincing.
RECENT LITERATURE. - Nowack, Die Kleinen Propheten (1897; ed. 2, 1903); Wellhausen, Die Kleinen Propheten, 3 (1898); G. A. Smith, The Book of the Twelve Prophets (in The Expositor's Bible), vol. ii. (pp. 2 53 - 3 28, 447-490) (1898); Marti, Dodekapropheton, ii. (1904); Driver, Minor Prophets, ii. (in The Century Bible, 1906; the most useful for the general reader). The article in Hastings's Dictionary of the Bible (vol. iv., pp. 967-970) (1902), by Nowack, is a reproduction from his work cited above; the article in the Ency. Bibl. by Wellhausen is a revision of his article in the 9th edition of the Ency. Brit., and the present independent revision is in some points indebted to it. (J. WE.; H. W. R.*)
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Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Zechariah'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/​encyclopedias/​eng/​bri/​z/zechariah.html. 1910.