On the fourth day of the ninth month (the month of Chislev) in Darius' fourth year as king, the LORD spoke his word to Zechariah.
Now, [the people from] Bethel sent Sharezer and Regem Melech with their men to ask the LORD for a blessing.
They asked the priests from the house of the LORD of Armies as well as the prophets, "Should we mourn and fast in the fifth month as we have done for so many years?"
Then the LORD of Armies spoke his word to me. He said,
"Tell all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these past 70 years, did you really do it for me?
When you ate and drank, didn't you do it to benefit yourselves?
Aren't these the same words that the LORD announced through the earlier prophets, when Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were inhabited and undisturbed and the Negev and the foothills were still inhabited?'"
Then the LORD spoke his word to Zechariah. He said,
"This is what the LORD of Armies says: Administer real justice, and be compassionate and kind to each other.
Don't oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and poor people. And don't even think of doing evil to each other.
"But people refused to pay attention. They shrugged their shoulders at me and shut their ears so that they couldn't hear.
They made their hearts as hard as flint so that they couldn't hear the LORD's teachings, the words that the LORD of Armies had sent by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. So the LORD of Armies became very angry.
"When I called, they wouldn't listen. So now when they call, I won't listen, says the LORD of Armies.
I used a windstorm to scatter them among all the nations, nations they hadn't even heard of. They left behind a land so ruined that no one is able to travel through it. They have turned a pleasant land into a wasteland."