Blessings to be sought from the Lord. (1-5) God will restore his people. (6-12)
Verses 1-5 Spiritual blessings had been promised under figurative allusions to earthly plenty. Seasonable rain is a great mercy, which we may ask of God when there is most need of it, and we may look for it to come. We must in our prayers ask for mercies in their proper time. The Lord would make bright clouds, and give showers of rain. This may be an exhortation to seek the influences of the Holy Spirit, in faith and by prayer, through which the blessings held forth in the promises are obtained and enjoyed. The prophet shows the folly of making addresses to idols, as their fathers had done. The Lord visited the remnant of his flock in mercy, and was about to renew their courage and strength for conflict and victory. Every creature is to us what God makes it to be. Every one raised to support the nation, as a corner-stone does the building, or to unite those that differ, as nails join the different timbers, must come from the Lord; and those employed to overcome their enemies, must have strength and success from him. This may be applied to Christ; to him we must look to raise up persons to unite, support, and defend his people. He never will say, Seek ye me in vain.
Verses 6-12 Here are precious promises to the people of God, which look to the state of the Jews, and even to the latter days of the church. Preaching the gospel is God's call for souls to come to Jesus Christ. Those whom Christ redeemed by his blood, God will gather by his grace. Difficulties shall be got over easily, and effectually, as those in the way of the deliverance out of Egypt. God himself will be their strength, and their song. When we resist, and so overcome our spiritual enemies, then our hearts shall rejoice. If God strengthen us, we must bestir ourselves in all the duties of the Christian life, must be active in the work of God; and we must do all in the name of the Lord Jesus.
Zechariah 10:1-12 . PRAYER AND PROMISE.
Call to prayer to Jehovah, as contrasted with the idol-worship which had brought judgments on the princes and people. Blessings promised in answer to prayer: (1) rulers of themselves; (2) conquest of their enemies; (3) restoration and establishment of both Israel and Judah in their own land in lasting peace and piety.
1. Ask . . . rain--on which the abundance of "corn" promised by the Lord ( Zechariah 9:17 ) depends. Jehovah alone can give it, and will give it on being asked ( Jeremiah 10:13 , 14:22 ).
rain in . . . time of . . . latter rain--that is, the latter rain in its due time, namely, in spring, about February or March ( Job 29:23 , Joel 2:23 ). The latter rain ripened the grain, as the former rain in October tended to fructify the seed. Including all temporal blessings; these again being types of spiritual ones. Though God has begun to bless us, we are not to relax our prayers. The former rain of conversion may have been given, but we must also ask for the latter rain of ripened sanctification. Though at Pentecost there was a former rain on the Jewish Church, a latter rain is still to be looked for, when the full harvest of the nation's conversion shall be gathered in to God. The spirit of prayer in the Church is an index at once of her piety, and of the spiritual blessings she may expect from God. When the Church is full of prayer, God pours out a full blessing.
bright clouds--rather, "lightnings," the precursors of rain [MAURER].
showers of rain--literally, "rain of heavy rain." In Job 37:6 the same words occur in inverted order [HENDERSON].
grass--a general term, including both corn for men and grass for cattle.
2. idols--literally, "the teraphim," the household gods, consulted in GESENIUS from an Arabic root, "comfort," indicating them as the givers of comfort. Or an Ethiopian root, "relics." Herein Zechariah shows that the Jews by their own idolatry had stayed the grace of God heretofore, which otherwise would have given them all those blessings, temporal and spiritual, which they are now ( Zechariah 10:1 ) urged to "ask" for.
diviners--who gave responses to consulters of the teraphim: opposed to Jehovah and His true prophets.
seen a lie--pretending to see what they saw not in giving responses.
comfort in vain--literally, "give vapor for comfort"; that is, give comforting promises to consulters which are sure to come to naught ( Job 13:4 , 16:2 , 21:34 ).
therefore they went their way--that is, Israel and Judah were led away captive.
as a flock . . . no shepherd--As sheep wander and are a prey to every injury when without a shepherd, so the Jews had been while they were without Jehovah, the true shepherd; for the false prophets whom they trusted were no shepherds ( Ezekiel 34:5 ). So now they are scattered, while they know not Messiah their shepherd; typified in the state of the disciples, when they had forsaken Jesus and fled ( Matthew 26:56 ; compare Zechariah 13:7 ).
3. against the shepherds--the civil rulers of Israel and Judah who abetted idolatry.
punished--literally, "visited upon." The same word "visited," without the upon, is presently after used in a good sense to heighten the contrast.
goats--he-goats. As "shepherds" described what they ought to have been, so "he-goats" describes what they were, the emblem of headstrong wantonness and offensive lust ( Isaiah 14:9 , Margin; Ezekiel 34:17 , Daniel 8:5 , Matthew 25:33 ). The he-goats head the flo ck. They who are first in crime will be first in punishment.
visited--in mercy ( Luke 1:68 ).
as his goodly horse--In Zechariah 9:13 they were represented under the image of bows and arrows, here under that of their commander-in-chief, Jehovah's battle horse ( Solomon 1:9 ). God can make His people, timid though they be as sheep, courageous as the charger. The general rode on the most beautiful and richly caparisoned, and had his horse tended with the greatest care. Jehovah might cast off the Jews for their vileness, but He regards His election or adoption of them: whence He calls them here "His flock," and therefore saves them.
4. Out of him--Judah is to be no more subject to foreigners, but from itself shall come its rulers.
the corner--stone, Messiah ( Isaiah 28:16 ). "Corners" simply express governors ( 1 Samuel 14:38 , Margin; Isaiah 19:13 , Margin). The Maccabees, Judah's governors and deliverers from Antiochus the oppressor, are primarily meant; but Messiah is the Antitype. Messiah supports and binds together the Church, Jews and Gentiles.
the nail--( Judges 4:21 , Isaiah 22:23 ). The large peg inside an Oriental tent, on which is hung most of its valuable furniture. On Messiah hang all the glory and hope of His people.
bow--( Zechariah 9:13 ). Judah shall not need foreign soldiery. Messiah shall be her battle-bow ( Psalms 45:4 Psalms 45:5 , Revelation 6:2 ).
every oppressor--rather, in a good sense, ruler, as the kindred Ethiopic term means. So "exactor," in Isaiah 60:17 , namely, one who exacts the tribute from the nations made tributary to Judah [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU].
5. riders on horses--namely, the enemy's horsemen. Though the Jews were forbidden by the law to multiply horses in battle ( Deuteronomy 17:16 ), they are made Jehovah's war horse ( Zechariah 10:3 , Psalms 20:7 ), and so tread down on foot the foe with all his cavalry ( Ezekiel 38:4 , Daniel 11:40 ). Cavalry was the chief strength of the Syro-Grecian army (I Maccabees 3:39).
6. Judah . . . Joseph--that is, the ten tribes. The distinct mention of both Judah and Israel shows that there is yet a more complete restoration than that from Babylon, when Judah alone and a few Israelites from the other tribes returned. The Maccabean deliverance is here connected with it, just as the painter groups on the same canvas objects in the foreground and hills far distant; or as the comparatively near planet and the remote fixed star are seen together in the same firmament. Prophecy ever hastens to the glorious final consummation under Messiah.
bring them again to place them--namely, securely in their own land. The Hebrew verb is compounded of two, "I will bring again," and "I will place them" ( Jeremiah 32:37 ) MAURER, from a different form, translates, "I will make them to dwell."
7. like a mighty man--in the battle with the foe ( Zechariah 10:3 Zechariah 10:5 ).
rejoice--at their victory over the foe.
children shall see it--who are not yet of age to serve. To teach patient waiting for God's promises. If ye do not at present see the fulfilment, your children shall, and their joy shall be complete.
rejoice in the Lord--the Giver of such a glorious victory.
8. hiss for them--Keepers of bees by a whistle call them together. So Jehovah by the mere word of His call shall gather back to Palestine His scattered people ( Zechariah 10:10 , Isaiah 5:26 , Ezekiel 36:11 ). The multitudes mentioned by JOSEPHUS [Wars of the Jews, 3:2], as peopling Galilee two hundred years after this time, were a pledge of the future more perfect fulfilment of the prophecy.
for I have redeemed them--namely, in My covenant purpose "redeemed" both temporally and spiritually.
as they have increased--in former times.
9. sow them among . . . people--Their dispersion was with a special design. Like seed sown far and wide, they shall, when quickened themselves, be the fittest instruments for quickening others (compare Micah 5:7 ). The slight hold they have on every soil where they now live, as also the commercial and therefore cosmopolitan character of their pursuits, making a change of residence easy to them, fit them peculiarly for missionary work [MOORE]. The wide dispersion of the Jews just before Christ's coming prepared the way similarly for the apostles' preaching in the various Jewish synagogues throughout the world; everywhere some of the Old Testament seed previously sown was ready to germinate when the New Testament light and heat were brought to bear on it by Gospel preachers. Thus the way was opened for entrance among the Gentiles. "Will sow" is the Hebrew future, said of that which has been done, is being done, and may be done afterwards [MAURER], (compare Hosea 2:23 ).
shall remember me in far countries--( Deuteronomy 30:1 , 2 Chronicles 6:37 ). Implying the Jews return to a right mind in "all the nations" where they are scattered simultaneously. Compare Luke 15:17 Luke 15:18 , with Psalms 22:27 , "All the ends of the world remembering and turning unto the Lord," preceded by the "seed of Jacob . . . Israel . . . fearing and glorifying Him"; also Psalms 102:13-15 .
live--in political and spiritual life.
10. Egypt . . . Assyria--the former the first, the latter among the last of Israel's oppressors (or representing the four great world kingdoms, of which it was the first): types of the present universal dispersion, Egypt being south, Assyria north, opposite ends of the compass. MAURER conjectures that many Israelites fled to "Egypt" on the invasion of Tiglath-pileser. But Isaiah 11:11 and this passage rather accord with the view of the future restoration.
Gilead . . . Lebanon--The whole of the Holy Land is described by two of its boundaries, the eastern ("Gilead" beyond Jordan) and the northern ("Lebanon").
place shall not be found for them--that is, there shall not be room enough for them through their numbers ( Isaiah 49:20 , 54:3 ).
11. pass . . . sea with affliction--Personifying the "sea"; He shall afflict the sea, that is, cause it to cease to be an obstacle to Israel's return to Palestine ( Isaiah 11:15 Isaiah 11:16 ). Vulgate translates, "The strait of the sea." MAURER, "He shall cleave and smite." English Version is best ( Psalms 114:3 ). As Jehovah smote the Red Sea to make a passage for His people ( Exodus 14:16 Exodus 14:21 ), so hereafter shall He make a way through every obstacle which opposes Israel's restoration.
the river--the Nile ( Amos 8:8 , 9:5 ), or the Euphrates. Thus the Red Sea and the Euphrates in the former part of the verse answer to "Assyria" and "Egypt" in the latter.
sceptre of Egypt . . . depart--( Ezekiel 30:13 ).
12. I . . . strengthen them in . . . Lord--( Hosea 1:7 ). I, the Father, will strengthen them in the name, that is, the manifested power, of the Lord, Messiah, the Son of God.
walk . . . in his name--that is, live everywhere and continually under His protection, and according to His will ( Genesis 5:22 , Psalms 20:1 Psalms 20:7 , Micah 4:5 ).