God's defence of his church. (1-8) Christ's coming and his kingdom. (9-11) Promises to the church. (12-17)
Verses 1-8 Here are judgements foretold on several nations. While the Macedonians and Alexander's successors were in warfare in these countries, the Lord promised to protect his people. God's house lies in the midst of an enemy's country; his church is as a lily among thorns. God's power and goodness are seen in her special preservation. The Lord encamps about his church, and while armies of proud opposers shall pass by and return, his eyes watch over her, so that they cannot prevail, and shortly the time will come when no exactor shall pass by her any more.
Verses 9-17 The prophet breaks forth into a joyful representation of the coming of the Messiah, of whom the ancient Jews explained this prophecy. He took the character of their King, when he entered Jerusalem amidst the hosannas of the multitude. But his kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. It shall not be advanced by outward force or carnal weapons. His gospel shall be preached to the world, and be received among the heathen. A sinful state is a state of bondage; it is a pit, or dungeon, in which there is no water, no comfort; and we are all by nature prisoners in this pit. Through the precious blood of Christ, many prisoners of Satan have been set at liberty from the horrible pit in which they must otherwise have perished, without hope or comfort. While we admire Him, let us seek that his holiness and truth may be shown in our own spirits and conduct. These promises have accomplishment in the spiritual blessings of the gospel which we enjoy by Jesus Christ. As the deliverance of the Jews was typical of redemption by Christ, so this invitation speaks to all the language of the gospel call. Sinners are prisoners, but prisoners of hope; their case is sad, but not desperate; for there is hope in Israel concerning them. Christ is a Strong-hold, a strong Tower, in whom believers are safe from the fear of the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the assaults of spiritual enemies. To him we must turn with lively faith; to him we must flee, and trust in his name under all trials and sufferings. It is here promised that the Lord would deliver his people. This passage also refers to the apostles, and the preachers of the gospel in the early ages. God was evidently with them; his words from their lips pierced the hearts and consciences of the hearers. They were wondrously defended in persecution, and were filled with the influences of the Holy Spirit. They were saved by the Good Shepherd as his flock, and honoured as jewels of his crown. The gifts, graces, and consolations of the Spirit, poured forth on the day of Pentecost, ( Acts 2 ) and in succeeding times, are represented. Sharp have been, and still will be, the conflicts of Zion's sons, but their God will give them success. The more we are employed, and satisfied with his goodness, the more we shall admire the beauty revealed in the Redeemer. Whatever gifts God bestows on us, we must serve him cheerfully with them; and, when refreshed with blessings, we must say, How great is his goodness!
Zechariah 9:1-17 . NINTH TO FOURTEENTH CHAPTERS ARE PROPHETICAL.
Written long after the previous portions of the book, whence arise the various features which have been made grounds for attacking their authenticity, notwithstanding the testimony of the Septuagint and of the compilers of the Jewish canon in their favor.
ALEXANDER'S CONQUESTS IN SYRIA ( Zechariah 9:1-8 ). GOD'S PEOPLE SAFE BECAUSE HER COMETH LOWLY, BUT A SAVIOUR ( Zechariah 9:9-10 ). THE MACCABEAN DELIVERANCE A TYPE THEREOF ( Zechariah 9:11-17 ).
1. in . . . Hadrach--rather, concerning or against Hadrach (compare Isaiah 21:13 ). "Burden" means a prophecy BURDENED with wrath against the guilty. MAURER, not so well, explains it, What is taken up and uttered, the utterance, a solemn declaration.
Hadrach--a part of Syria, near Damascus. As the name is not mentioned in ancient histories, it probably was the less-used name of a region having two names ("Hadrach" and "Bikathaven," Amos 1:5 , Margin); hence it passed into oblivion. An ancient Rabbi Jose is, however, stated to have expressly mentioned it. Ant Arab, Jos. Abassi, in 1768 also declared to MICHAELIS that there was then a town of that name, and that it was capital of the region Hadrach. The name means "enclosed" in Syrian, that is, the west interior part of Syria, enclosed by hills, the Coelo-Syria of STRABO [MAURER]. JEROME considers Hadrach to be the metropolis of Coelo-Syria, as Damascus was of the region about that city. HENGSTENBERG regards Hadrach as a symbolical name of Persia, which Zechariah avoids designating by its proper name so as not to offend the government under which he lived. But the context seems to refer to the Syrian region. GESENIUS thinks that the name is that of a Syrian king, which might more easily pass into oblivion than that of a region. Compare the similar "land of Sihon," Nehemiah 9:22 .
Damascus . . . rest thereof--that is, the place on which the "burden" of the Lord's wrath shall rest. It shall permanently settle on it until Syria is utterly prostrate. Fulfilled under Alexander the Great, who overcame Syria [CURTIUS, Books 3 and 4].
eyes of man, as of all . . . Israel . . . toward the Lord--The eyes of men in general, and of all Israel in particular, through consternation at the victorious progress of Alexander, shall be directed to Jehovah. The Jews, when threatened by him because of Jaddua the high priest's refusal to swear fealty to him, prayed earnestly to the Lord, and so were delivered ( 2 Chronicles 20:12 , Psalms 23:2 ). Typical of the effect of God's judgments hereafter on all men, and especially on the Jews in turning them to Him. MAURER, PEMBELLUS and others, less probably translate, "The eyes of the Lord are upon man, as they are upon all Israel," namely, to punish the ungodly and to protect His people. He, who has chastised His people, will not fail to punish men for their sins severely. The "all," I think, implies that whereas men's attention generally (whence "man" is the expression) was directed to Jehovah's judgments, all Israel especially looks to Him.
2. Hamath--a Syrian kingdom with a capital of the same name, north of Damascus.
shall border thereby--shall be joined to Damascus in treatment, as it is in position; shall share in the burden of wrath of which Damascus is the resting-place. MAURER understands "which"; "Hamath, which borders on Damascus, also shall be the resting-place of Jehovah's wrath" (the latter words being supplied from Zechariah 9:1 ). Riblah, the scene of the Jews' sufferings from their foe, was there: it therefore shall suffer ( 2 Kings 23:33 , 2 Kings 25:6 2 Kings 25:7 2 Kings 25:20 2 Kings 25:21 ).
Tyrus . . . Zidon--lying in the conqueror's way on his march along the Mediterranean to Egypt (compare Isaiah 23:1-18 ). Zidon, the older city, surrendered, and Abdolonymus was made its viceroy.
very wise--in her own eyes. Referring to Tyre: Zechariah 9:3 shows wherein her wisdom consisted, namely, in building a stronghold, and heaping up gold and silver ( Ezekiel 38:3 Ezekiel 38:5 Ezekiel 38:12 Ezekiel 38:17 ). On Alexander's expressing his wish to sacrifice in Hercules' temple in New Tyre on the island, she showed her wisdom in sending a golden crown, and replying that the true and ancient temple of Hercules was at Old Tyre on the mainland. With all her wisdom she cannot avert her doom.
3. The heathen historian, DIODORUS SICULUS [17.40], confirms this. "Tyre had the greatest confidence owing to her insular position and fortifications, and the abundant stores she had prepared." New Tyre was on an island seven hundred paces from the shore. As Isaiah's and Ezekiel's ( Ezekiel 27:1-36 ) prophecies were directed against Old Tyre on the mainland and were fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar, so Zechariah's are against New Tyre, which was made seemingly impregnable by a double wall one hundred fifty feet high, as well as the sea on all sides.
4. ( Ezekiel 26:4 Ezekiel 26:12 , 27:27 ).
cast her out--Hebrew, "dispossess her," that is, will cast her inhabitants into exile [GROTIUS]. Alexander, though without a navy, by incredible labor constructed a mole of the ruins of Old Tyre (fulfilling Ezekiel 26:4-12 , &c., by "scraping her dust from her," and "laying her stones, timber, and dust in the midst of the water"), from the shore to the island, and, after a seven months' siege, took the city by storm, slew with the sword about eight thousand, enslaved thirteen thousand, crucified two thousand, and set the city on "fire," as here foretold [CURTIUS, Book 4].
smite her power in the sea--situated though she be in the sea, and so seeming impregnable (compare Ezekiel 28:2 , "I sit in the seat of God, in the midst of the sea"). "Her power" includes not only her fortifications, but her fleet, all of which Alexander sank in the sea before her very walls [CURTIUS, Book 4]. Ezekiel 26:17 corresponds, "How art thou destroyed which wast strong in the sea!"
5. Ashkelon, &c.--Gath alone is omitted, perhaps as being somewhat inland, and so out of the route of the advancing conqueror.
Ekron . . . expectation . . . ashamed--Ekron, the farthest north of the Philistine cities, had expected Tyre would withstand Alexander, and so check his progress southward through Philistia to Egypt. This hope being confounded ("put to shame"), Ekron shall "fear."
king shall perish from Gaza--Its government shall be overthrown. In literal fulfilment of this prophecy, after a two month's siege, Gaza was taken by Alexander, ten thousand of its inhabitants slain, and the rest sold as slaves. Betis the satrap, or petty "king," was bound to a chariot by thongs thrust through the soles of his feet, and dragged round the city.
6. bastard--not the rightful heir; vile and low men, such as are bastards ( Deuteronomy 23:2 ) [GROTIUS]. An alien; so the Septuagint; implying the desolation of the region wherein men shall not settle, but sojourn in only as aliens passing through [CALVIN].
7. take . . . his blood out of . . . mouth--Blood was forbidden as food ( Genesis 9:4 , Leviticus 7:26 ).
abominations--things sacrificed to idols and then partaken of by the worshippers ( Numbers 25:2 , Acts 15:29 ). The sense is, "I will cause the Philistines to cease from the worship of idols."
even he shall be for our God--"even he," like Hamath, Damascus, Tyre, &c., which, these words imply, shall also be converted to God ( Isaiah 56:3 , "son of the stranger joined himself to the Lord") [ROSENMULLER]. The "even," however, may mean, Besides the Hebrews, "even" the Philistine shall worship Jehovah (so Isaiah 56:8 ) [MAURER].
he shall be as a governor in Judah--On the conversion of the Philistine prince, he shall have the same dignity "in Judah as a governor"; there shall be no distinction [HENDERSON]. The Philistine princes with their respective states shall equally belong to the Jews' communion, as if they were among the "governors" of states "in Judah" [MAURER].
Ekron as a Jebusite--The Jebusites, the original inhabitants of Jerusalem, who, when subjugated by David, were incorporated with the Jews ( 2 Samuel 24:16 , &c.), and enjoyed their privileges: but in a subordinate position civilly ( 1 Kings 9:20 1 Kings 9:21 ). The Jebusites' condition under Solomon being that of bond-servants and tributaries, CALVIN explains the verse differently: "I will rescue the Jew from the teeth of the Philistine foe (image from wild beasts rending their prey with their teeth), who would have devoured him, as he would devour blood or flesh of his abominable sacrifices to idols: and even he, the seemingly ignoble remnant of the Jews, shall be sacred to our God (consecrated by His favor); and though so long bereft of dignity, I will make them to be as governors ruling others, and Ekron shall be a tributary bond-servant as the Jebusite? Thus the antithesis is between the Jew that remaineth (the elect remnant) and the Ekronite.
8. encamp about--( Psalms 34:7 ).
mine house--namely, the Jewish people ( Zechariah 3:7 , Hosea 8:1 ) [MAURER]. Or, the temple: reassuring the Jews engaged in building, who might otherwise fear their work would be undone by the conqueror [MOORE]. The Jews were, in agreement with this prophecy, uninjured by Alexander, though he punished the Samaritans. Typical of their final deliverance from every foe.
passeth by . . . returneth--Alexander, when advancing against Jerusalem, was arrested by a dream, so that neither in "passing by" to Egypt, nor in "returning," did he injure the Jews, but conferred on them great privileges.
no oppressor . . . pass through . . . any more--The prophet passes from the immediate future to the final deliverance to come ( Isaiah 60:18 , Ezekiel 28:24 ).
seen with mine eyes--namely, how Jerusalem has been oppressed by her foes [ROSENMULLER] ( Exodus 3:7 , 2:25 ). God is said now to have seen, because He now begins to bring the foe to judgment, and manifests to the world His sense of His people's wrongs.
9. From the coming of the Grecian conqueror, Zechariah makes a sudden transition, by the prophetical law of suggestion, to the coming of King Messiah, a very different character.
daughter of Zion--The theocratic people is called to "rejoice" at the coming of her King ( Psalms 2:11 ).
unto thee--He comes not for His own gain or pleasure, as earthly kings come, but for the sake of His Church: especially for the Jews' sake, at His second coming ( Romans 11:26 ).
he is just--righteous: an attribute constantly given to Messiah ( Isaiah 45:21 , 53:11 , Jeremiah 23:5 Jeremiah 23:6 ) in connection with salvation. He does not merely pardon by conniving at sin, but He justifies by becoming the Lord our righteousness fulfiller, so that not merely mercy, but justice, requires the justification of the sinner who by faith becomes one with Christ. God's justice is not set aside by the sinner's salvation, but is magnified and made honorable by it ( Isaiah 42:1 Isaiah 42:21 ). His future reign "in righteousness," also, is especially referred to ( Isaiah 32:1 ).
having salvation--not passively, as some interpret it, "saved," which the context, referring to a "king" coming to reign, forbids; also the old versions, the Septuagint, Syriac, and Vulgate, give Saviour. The Hebrew is reflexive in sense, "showing Himself a Saviour; . . . having salvation in Himself" for us. Endowed with a salvation which He bestows as a king. Compare Margin, "saving Himself." Compare Matthew 1:21 , in the Greek, "Himself shall save His people"; that is, not by any other, but by Himself shall He save [PEARSON On the Creed]. His "having salvation" for others manifested that He had in Himself that righteousness which was indispensable for the justification of the unrighteous ( 1 Corinthians 1:30 , 2 Corinthians 5:21 , 1 John 2:1 ). This contrasts beautifully with the haughty Grecian conqueror who came to destroy, whereas Messiah came to save. Still, Messiah shall come to take "just" vengeance on His foes, previous to His reign of peace ( Matthew 4:1 Matthew 4:2 ).
lowly--mild, gentle: corresponding to His "riding on an ass" (not a despised animal, as with us; nor a badge of humiliation, for princes in the East rode on asses, as well as low persons, Judges 5:10 ), that is, coming as "Prince of peace" ( Zechariah 9:10 , Isaiah 9:6 ); the "horse," on the contrary is the emblem of war, and shall therefore be "cut off." Perhaps the Hebrew includes both the "lowliness" of His outward state (which applies to His first coming) and His "meekness of disposition," as Matthew 21:5 quotes it (compare Matthew 11:29 ), which applies to both His comings. Both adapt Him for loving sympathy with us men; and at the same time are the ground of His coming manifested exaltation ( John 5:27 , Philippians 2:7-9 ).
colt--untamed, "whereon yet never man sat" ( Luke 19:30 ). The symbol of a triumphant conqueror and judge ( Judges 5:10 , 10:4 , 12:14 ).
foal of an ass--literally, "asses": in Hebrew idiom, the indefinite plural for singular (so Genesis 8:4 , "mountains of Ararat," for one of the mountains). The dam accompanied the colt ( Matthew 21:2 ). The entry of Jesus into Jerusalem at His first coming is a pledge of the full accomplishment of this prophecy at His second coming. It shall be "the day of the Lord" ( Psalms 118:24 ), as that first Palm Sunday was. The Jews shall then universally ( Psalms 118:26 ) say, what some of them said then, "Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord" (compare Matthew 21:9 , with Matthew 23:39 ); also "Hosanna," or "Save now, I beseech thee." "Palms," the emblem of triumph, shall then also be in the hands of His people (compare John 12:13 , with Revelation 7:9 Revelation 7:10 ). Then also, as on His former entry, shall be the feast of tabernacles (at which they used to draw water from Siloam, quoting Isaiah 12:3 ). Compare Psalms 118:15 , with Zechariah 14:16 .
10. ( Isaiah 2:4 , Hosea 2:18 , Micah 5:10 ).
Ephraim . . . Jerusalem--the ten tribes, and Judah and Benjamin; both alike to be restored hereafter.
speak peace--command it authoritatively.
dominion . . . from sea . . . river . . . ends of . . . earth--fulfilling Genesis 15:18 , Exodus 23:31 ; and Psalms 72:8 . "Sea . . . sea," are the Red Sea and Mediterranean. The "river" is the Euphrates. Jerusalem and the Holy Land, extended to the limits promised to Abraham, are to be the center of His future dominion; whence it will extend to the remotest parts of the earth.
11. As for thee also--that is, the daughter of Zion," or "Jerusalem" ( Zechariah 9:9 ):the theocracy. The "thee also," in contradistinction to Messiah spoken of in Zechariah 9:10 , implies that besides cutting off the battle-bow and extending MESSIAH'S "dominion to the ends of the earth," God would also deliver for her her exiled people from their foreign captivity.
by the blood of thy covenant--that is, according to the covenant vouchsafed to thee on Sinai, and ratified by the blood of sacrifices ( Exodus 24:8 , Hebrews 9:18-20 ).
pit wherein . . . no water--Dungeons were often pits without water, miry at the bottom, such as Jeremiah sank in when confined ( Genesis 37:24 , Jeremiah 38:6 ). An image of the misery of the Jewish exiles in Egypt, Greece, &c., under the successors of Alexander, especially under Antiochus Epiphanes, who robbed and profaned the temple, slew thousands, and enslaved more. God delivered them by the Maccabees. A type of the future deliverance from their last great persecutor hereafter ( Isaiah 51:14 , 60:1 ).
12. stronghold--in contrast to the "pit" ( Zechariah 9:11 ); literally, "a place cut off from access." MAURER thinks, "a height" ( Psalms 18:33 ). An image for the security which the returning Jews shall have in Messiah ( Zechariah 9:8 ) encamped about His people ( Psalms 46:1 Psalms 46:5 ; compare Isaiah 49:9 , Proverbs 18:10 ).
prisoners of hope--that is, who in spite of afflictions ( Job 13:15 , Psalms 42:5 Psalms 42:11 ) maintain hope in the covenant-keeping God; in contrast to unbelievers, who say, "There is no hope" ( Jeremiah 2:25 , 18:12 ). Especially those Jews who believe God's word to Israel ( Jeremiah 31:17 ), "there is hope in the end, that thy children shall come again to their own border," and do not say, as in Ezekiel 37:11 , "Our hope is lost." Primarily, the Jews of Zechariah's time are encouraged not to be dispirited in building by their trials; secondarily, the Jews before the coming restoration are encouraged to look to Messiah for deliverance from their last oppressors.
even to-day--when your circumstances seem so unpromising; in contrast with the "day of the Lord," when Zion's King shall come to her deliverance ( Zechariah 9:9 ).
I will render double--Great as has been thy adversity, thy prosperity shall be doubly greater ( Isaiah 61:7 ).
13. bent Judah--made Judah as it were My bow, and "filled" it "with Ephraim," as My arrow, wherewith to overcome the successor of the Grecian Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes (compare Notes, Judah. Having spoken ( Zechariah 9:1-8 ) of Alexander's victories, after the parenthesis ( Zechariah 9:9 Zechariah 9:10 ) as to Messiah the infinitely greater King coming, he passes to the victories which God would enable Judah to gain over Alexander's successor, after his temporary oppression of them.
O Zion . . . O Greece--God on one hand addresses Zion, on the other Greece, showing that He rules all people.
14. Another image: "Jehovah shall be seen (conspicuously manifesting His power) over them" (that is, in behalf of the Jews and against their foes), as formerly He appeared in a cloud over the Israelites against the Egyptians ( Exodus 14:19 Exodus 14:24 ).
his arrow . . . as . . . lightning--flashing forth instantaneous destruction to the foe ( Psalms 18:14 ).
blow . . . trumpet--to summon and incite His people to battle for the destruction of their foe.
go with whirlwinds of the south--that is, go forth in the most furious storm, such as is one from the south ( Isaiah 21:1 ). Alluding, perhaps, to Jehovah's ancient miracles at Sinai coming "from Teman" ("the south," in the Margin).
15. devour--the flesh of their foes.
drink--the blood of their foes; that is, utterly destroy them. Image (as Jeremiah 46:10 ) from a sacrifice, wherein part of the flesh was eaten, and the blood poured in libation (compare Isaiah 63:1 , &c.).
subdue with sling-stones--or, "tread under foot the sling-stones" hurled by the foe at them; that is, will contemptuously trample on the hostile missiles which shall fall harmless under their feet (compare Job 41:28 ). Probably, too, it is implied that their foes are as impotent as the common stones used in slinging when they have fallen under foot: in contrast to the people of God ( Zechariah 9:16 ), "the (precious) stones of a crown" (compare 1 Samuel 25:29 ) [MAURER]. English Version is good sense: The Jews shall subdue the foe at the first onset, with the mere slingers who stood in front of the line of battle and began the engagement. Though armed with but sling-stones, like David against Goliath, they shall subdue the foe ( Judges 20:16 , 1 Chronicles 12:2 ) [GROTIUS].
noise--the battle shout.
through wine--( Zechariah 10:7 ). The Spirit of God fills them with triumph ( Ephesians 5:18 ).
like bowls--the bowls used to receive the blood of the sacrifices.
as . . . corners--or "horns" of the altar, which used to be sprinkled with blood from the bowls ( Exodus 29:12 , Leviticus 4:18 ).
16. save them . . . as the flock of his people--as the flock of His people ought to be saved ( Psalms 77:20 ). Here the image of war and bloodshed ( Zechariah 9:15 ) is exchanged for the shepherd and flock, as God will give not only victory, but afterwards safe and lasting peace. In contrast to the worthless sling-stones trodden under foot stand the (gems) "stones of the crown ( Isaiah 62:3 , Malachi 3:17 ), lifted up as an ensign," that all may flock to the Jewish Church ( Isaiah 11:10 Isaiah 11:12 , 62:10 ).
17. his goodness . . . his beauty--the goodness and beauty which Jehovah-Messiah bestows on His people. Not as MAURER thinks, the goodness, &c., of His land or His people ( Psalms 31:19 , Jeremiah 31:12 ).
make . . . cheerful--literally, "make it grow."
new wine the maids--supply, "shall make . . . to grow." Corn and wine abundant indicate peace and plenty. The new wine gladdening the maids is peculiar to this passage. It confutes those who interdict the use of wine as food. The Jews, heretofore straitened in provisions through pressure of the foe, shall now have abundance to cheer, not merely the old, but even the youths and maidens [CALVIN].