Zechariah 3:4

4 So He[a] spoke to those[b] standing before Him, "Take off his filthy clothes!"[c] Then He said to him, "See, I have removed your guilt from you,[d] and I will clothe you with splendid robes."

Zechariah 3:4 Meaning and Commentary

Zechariah 3:4

And he answered, and spake
That is, the Angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua stood, answered to the accusations of Satan, and the entreaties of Joshua: and spake unto those that stood before him;
not the fellows that sat before Joshua, ( Zechariah 3:8 ) for the priests, who were Joshua's fellows, could not take away sin; nor indeed can ministers of the Gospel, only ministerially or declaratively, as instruments, in bringing the good news of pardon to the comfort of distressed minds; whom the ministering angels may here represent, that stood before Christ the Archangel, the Head of all principalities and powers, and who are ministering spirits to him; and so the Targum paraphrases it,

``and he said to them who ministered before him;''
who, though they can not expiate sin, or make atonement for it, may bring the tidings of pardon to a poor fallen believer: saying, Take away the filthy garments from him;
it may be observed, that the garments of the priests were to be new and fair, according to the Jewish canons F9; and if they became filthy, they did not whiten them, nor wash them, but left them for threads (or wicks of candles), and put on new; and so orders are here given not to wash the filthy garments of Joshua, but to take them away: it is not, take him, Satan, the address is not to him; nor angels, who are spoken to, take away this filthy creature from me, I can not bear the sight of him; but take away his sins, not the being, power, or sense of them; nor does it signify making atonement for them, or removing them out of the sight of justice; but a taking them away out of Joshua's sight, and giving him a sense of pardon, a comfortable view of it, in which angels and ministers of the word may be assisting; see ( Isaiah 6:6 Isaiah 6:7 ) ( 40:2 ) and is effectually done, when Christ, who has power to forgive sin, makes an application of forgiving grace himself, as follows: and unto him he said;
that is, the Angel of the Lord said to Joshua: Behold, I have caused thine iniquity to pass from thee;
which shows that he had sinned, and interprets the filthy garments he was clothed with: Christ took his iniquity upon himself, bore and made satisfaction for it, and removed it as far from him as the east from the west; and now caused the guilt of it to pass from his conscience, and gave him a comfortable view of the free and full pardon of it. The word "behold" is prefixed to this declaration of pardon, to ascertain the truth of it, to fix his attention to it, and raise his admiration at it: and I will clothe thee with change of raiment;
garments to put on and off; for, in those hot countries, they used to shift their garments often; and these do not design priestly garments, such as the high priest put on, on the day of atonement, when he put off his common garments, and, having done his work, shifted again, ( Leviticus 16:23 Leviticus 16:24 ) such change of garments the high priest, indeed, had; and so had the common priests; for they did not wear the same garments, when out of service, as when in it; (See Gill on Ezekiel 42:14) (See Gill on Ezekiel 44:19); but priestly garments seem rather to be intended in the following verses, which were put on along with the mitre: change of raiment here rather signify such as used to be wore on festivals and holy days, rich, valuable, precious garments; such as men wore when they went abroad, and appeared in company, and upon return home put off again; and especially clean neat garments, as some render the word F11, in opposition to filthy ones Joshua was clothed with: when arraigned persons put on sordid garments, they were said, "moutare vestem", to change their apparel; but here clean, instead of filthy garments, are called change of raiment with great propriety; and a happy exchange is this indeed! The word is in the plural number, and may point at more garments than one, different suits of apparel, with which changes might be frequently made, both for delight and refreshment; and may have regard to the several garments of believers in Christ, of all good men, partakers of the grace of God: they have the garment of an outward holy conversation, which they are to watch and keep, lest they walk naked; and which, as it is often spotted with sin, they wash and make white in the blood of the Lamb: and there is the integrity and faithfulness of the saints in the performance of their duty, in their several stations of life; and especially of those in public office, in the discharge of that; who, as Job, put on righteousness, and it clothes them, and judgment is as a robe and diadem to them, ( Job 29:14 ) and there is the garment of internal holiness, the new man, consisting of the various graces of the spirit, which is put on as a garment, and makes believers all glorious within; as well as their clothing is of wrought gold, the righteousness of Christ; the principal garment, called the robe of righteousness, and garments of salvation; the best robe, and wedding garment, fine linen, clean and white, which is the righteousness or righteousnesses of the saints, ( Revelation 19:8 ) and so the Targum renders the word here, "with righteousnesses": though, as one change of raiment, or suit of apparel, may be meant, so one sort of righteousness only may be pointed at, even the one obedience of Christ, or his justifying righteousness; which may be so called, to denote the excellency and fulness of it, being sufficient to clothe and justify all the elect of God; like raiment, this is not in the saints, but put upon them, and covers them, and keeps them warm; protects from injuries, and beautifies and adorns: this robe of righteousness Christ has wrought out for his people, and he clothes them with it; it is his gift unto them, and they receive it from him; by which they are freed from all sin and condemnation, and their persons and services are accepted with God.

F9 Maimon. Cele Hamikdash, c. 8. sect. 4, 5.
F11 (twulxm) "vestibus aliis", i. e. "puris", Munster; "mundas et pretiosas", Vatablus; "vestes elegantiores et cultiores", Drusius; "vestibus mundioribus", Grotius; "vestibus mundis", Burkius; "significat in genere vestes decoras et pretiosas", ib.

Zechariah 3:4 In-Context

2 The Lord said to Satan: "The Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Isn't this man a burning stick snatched from the fire?"
3 Now Joshua was dressed with filthy clothes as he stood before the Angel.
4 So He spoke to those standing before Him, "Take off his filthy clothes!" Then He said to him, "See, I have removed your guilt from you, and I will clothe you with splendid robes."
5 Then I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So a clean turban was placed on his head, and they clothed him in garments while the Angel of the Lord was standing nearby.
6 Then the Angel of the Lord charged Joshua:

Footnotes 4

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