Click here to join the effort!
Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature
Zechariah , 1
Zechariah, son of Jeroboam II, and fourteenth king of Israel. He ascended the throne in B.C. 772, and reigned six months. The few months of Zechariah's reign just sufficed to evince his inclination to follow the bad course of his predecessors; and he was then slain by Shallum, who usurped the crown. With his life ended the dynasty of Jehu (; ).
Zechariah , 2
Zechariah, high priest in the time of Joash, king of Judah. He was son, or perhaps grandson, of Jehoiada and Jehosheba; the latter was the aunt of the king, who owed to her his crown, as he did his education and throne to her husband [JOASH]. Zechariah could not bear to see the evil courses into which the monarch eventually fell, and by which the return of the people to their old idolatries was facilitated, if not encouraged. Therefore, when the people were assembled at one of the solemn festivals, he took the opportunity of lifting up his voice against the growing corruptions. This was in the presence of the king, in the court of the temple. The people were enraged at his honest boldness, and with the connivance of the king, if not by a direct intimation from him, they seized the pontiff, and stoned him to death, even in that holy spot, 'between the temple and the altar.' His dying cry was not that of the first Christian martyr, 'Lord, lay not this sin to their charge' (), but 'The Lord look upon it, and require it' (). It is to this dreadful affair that our Lord is supposed to allude in ; .
Zechariah , 3
Zechariah, described as one 'who had understanding in the visions of God' (). It is doubtful whether this eulogium indicates a prophet, or simply describes one eminent for his piety and faith. During his lifetime Uzziah, king of Judah, was guided by his counsels, and prospered: but went wrong when death had deprived him of his wise guidance. Nothing is known of this Zechariah's history. It is possible that he may be the same whose daughter became the wife of Ahaz, and mother of Hezekiah (; ).
Zechariah , 4
Zechariah, son of Jeberechiah, a person whom, together with Urijah the high priest, Isaiah took as a legal witness of his marriage with 'the prophetess' (). This was in the reign of Ahaz, and the choice of the prophet shows that Zechariah was a person of consequence.
Zechariah , 5
Zechariah, the eleventh in order of the Minor Prophets, was 'the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, the prophet.' He seems to have entered upon his office in early youth (). The period of his introduction to it is specified as the eighth month of the second year of Darius, a very short time later than the prophet Haggai. The mission of Zechariah had especial reference to the affairs of the nation that had been restored to its territory. The second edict, granting permission to rebuild the temple, had been issued, and the office of Zechariah was to incite the flagging zeal of the people, in order that the auspicious period might be a season of religious revival as well as of ecclesiastical reorganization; and that the theocratic spirit might resume its former tone and energy in the breasts of all who were engaged in the work of restoring the 'holy and beautiful house,' where their fathers had praised Jehovah. The prophet assures them of success in the work of re-erecting the sacred edifice, despite of every combination against them; for Zerubbabel 'should bring forth the head stone with shouting, Grace, grace unto it'—comforts them with a solemn pledge that, amid fearful revolutions and conquests by which other nations were to be swept away, they should remain uninjured; for, says Jehovah, 'He that toucheth you toucheth the apple of mine eye'—sketches in a few vivid touches the blessings and glory of the advent of Messiah—imparts consolation to those who were mourning over their un-worthiness, and pronounces a heavy doom on the selfish and disobedient, and on such as in a remote age, imbibing their spirit, 'should fall after the same example of unbelief.' The pseudo-Epiphanius records some prodigies wrought by Zechariah in the land of Chaldea, and some wondrous oracles which he delivered; and he and Dorotheus both agree in declaring that the prophet died in Judea in a good old age, and was buried beside his colleague Haggai.
The book of Zechariah consists of four general divisions.
I. The introduction or inaugural discourse ().
II. A series of nine visions, extending onwards to Zechariah 7, communicated to the prophet in the third month after his installation. These visions were—
A rider on a roan horse among the myrtle-trees, with his equestrian attendants, who report to him the peace of the world, symbolizing the fitness of the time for the fulfillment of the promises of God, his people's protector.
Four horns, symbols of the oppressive enemies by which Judah had been on all sides surrounded, and four carpenters, by whom these horns are broken, emblems of the destruction of these anti-theocratic powers.
A man with a measuring-line describing a wider circumference for the site of Jerusalem, as its population was to receive a vast increase, foreshowing that many more Jews would return from Babylon and join their countrymen, and indicating the conversion of heathen nations under the Messiah, when out of Zion should go forth the law and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem.
The high-priest Joshua before the angel of the Lord, with Satan at his right hand to oppose him. The sacerdotal representative of the people, clad in the filthy garments in which he had returned from captivity, seems to be a type of the guilt and degradation of his country; while forgiveness and restoration are the blessings which the pontiff symbolically receives from Jehovah, when he is reclad in holy apparel and crowned with a spotless turban, the vision at the same time stretching into far futurity, and including the advent of Jehovah's servant the Branch.
A golden lamp-stand fed from two olive-trees, one growing on each side, an image of the value and divine glory of the theocracy as now seen in the restored Jewish church, supported, not 'by might nor by power, but by the Spirit of Jehovah,' and of the spiritual development of the old theocracy in the Christian church, which enlightens the world through the continuous influence of the Holy Ghost.
A flying roll, the breadth of the temple-porch, containing on its one side curses against the ungodly, and on its other anathemas against the immoral, denoting that the head of the theocracy, the Lord of the temple, would from his place punish those who violated either the first or the second table of his law.
A woman in an ephah (at length pressed down into it by a sheet of lead laid over its mouth), borne along in the air by two female figures with storks' wings, representing the sin and punishment of the nation. The fury, whose name is Wickedness, is repressed, and transported to the land of Shinar; i.e. idolatry, in the persons of the captive Jews, was forever removed at that period from the Holy Land, and, as it were, taken to Babylon, the home of image-worship.
Four chariots issuing from two copper mountains, and drawn respectively by red, black, white, and spotted horses, the vehicles of the four winds of heaven, a hieroglyph of the swiftness and extent of divine judgments against the former oppressors of the covenant people. Judgments seem issuing from God's holy habitation in the midst of the 'mountains which are round about Jerusalem,' or from between those two hills, the ravine dividing which forms the valley of Jehoshaphat, directly under the temple mountain, where dwelt the head of the theocracy.
The last scene is not properly a vision, but an oracle in connection with the preceding visions, and in reference to a future symbolical act to be performed by the prophet. In presence of a deportation of Jews from Babylon, the prophet was charged to place a crown on the head of Joshua the high-priest, a symbol which, whatever was its immediate signification, was designed to prefigure the royal and sacerdotal dignity of the man whose name is Branch, who should sit as 'a priest upon his throne.'
The meaning of all the preceding varied images and scenes is explained to the prophet by an attendant angelic interpreter.
III. A collection of four oracles delivered at various times in the fourth year of Darius, and partly occasioned by a request of the nation to be divinely informed, whether, now on their happy return to their fatherland, the month of Jerusalem's overthrow should be registered in their sacred calendar as a season of fasting and humiliation. The prophet declares that these times should in future ages be observed as festive solemnities.
IV. Zechariah 8-11 contains a variety of prophecies unfolding the fortunes of the people, their safety in the midst of Alexander's expedition, and their victories under the Maccabean chieftains, including the fate of many of the surrounding nations, Hadrach (Persia), Damascus, Tyre, and Philistia.
V. Zechariah 12-14 graphically portrays the future condition of the people, especially in Messianic times, and contains allusions to the siege of the city, the means of escape by the cleaving of the Mount of Olives, with a symbol of twilight breaking into day, and living water issuing from Jerusalem, concluding with a blissful vision of the enlarged prosperity and holiness of the theocratic metropolis, when upon the bells of the horses shall be inscribed 'holiness unto the Lord.'
The language of Zechariah has not the purity and freshness of a former age. A slight tinge of Chaldaism pervades the composition. The symbols with which he abounds are obscure, and their prosaic structure is diffuse and unvaried. The rhythm of his poetry is unequal, and its parallelisms are inharmonious and disjointed. His language has in many phrases a close alliance with that of the other prophets, and occasional imitations of them, especially of Ezekiel, characterize his oracles. He is also peculiar in his introduction of spiritual beings into his prophetic scenes.
Zechariah , 6
Zechariah, the father of John the Baptist [JOHN THE BAPTIST].
Kitto, John, ed. Entry for 'Zechariah'. "Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature". https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/kbe/z/zechariah.html.