Zechariah 1

Listen to Zechariah 1

A Call to Return to the Lord

1 In the eighth month, 1in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet 2Zechariah, the son of 3Berechiah, son of 4Iddo, saying,
2 5"The LORD was very angry with your fathers.
3 Therefore say to them, Thus declares the LORD of hosts: 6Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and 7I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.
4 8Do not be like your fathers, 9to whom the former prophets cried out, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, 10Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.' But 11they did not hear or pay attention to me, declares the LORD.
5 Your fathers, where are they? And 12the prophets, do they live forever?
6 13But my words and my statutes, which I commanded 14my servants the prophets, did they not 15overtake your fathers? So they repented and said, 16As the LORD of hosts purposed to deal with us for 17our ways and 18deeds, so has he dealt with us."

A Vision of a Horseman

7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet 19Zechariah, the son of 20Berechiah, son of 21Iddo, saying,
8 "I saw in the night, and behold, 22a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen, and behind him were 23red, sorrel, and white horses.
9 Then I said, 'What are these, my lord?'24The angel who talked with me said to me, 'I will show you what they are.'
10 So 25the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, 26'These are they whom the LORD has sent to 27patrol the earth.'
11 And they answered 28the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, and said, 29'We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth 30remains at rest.'
12 Then 31the angel of the LORD said, 32'O LORD of hosts, 33how long will you 34have no mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, against which you have been angry these 35seventy years?'
13 And the LORD answered 36gracious and comforting words to 37the angel who talked with me.
14 So 38the angel who talked with me said to me, 'Cry out, Thus says the LORD of hosts: 39I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion.
15 40And I am exceedingly angry with the nations that are 41at ease; 42for while I was angry but a little, 43they furthered the disaster.
16 Therefore, thus says the LORD, 44I have returned to Jerusalem with mercy; 45my house shall be built in it, declares the LORD of hosts, and 46the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.
17 Cry out again, Thus says the LORD of hosts: 47My cities shall again overflow with prosperity, 48and the LORD will again comfort Zion and again 49choose Jerusalem.'"

A Vision of Horns and Craftsmen

18 [a] And I lifted my eyes and saw, and behold, 50four horns!
19 And I said to 51the angel who talked with me, "What are these?" And he said to me, 52"These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem."
20 Then the LORD showed me four craftsmen.
21 And I said, "What are these coming to do?" He said, 53"These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one raised his head. And these have come 54to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations 55who lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter it."

Zechariah 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This prophecy is suitable to all, as the scope is to reprove for sin, and threaten God's judgments against the impenitent, and to encourage those that feared God, with assurances of the mercy God had in store for his church, and especially of the coming of the Messiah, and the setting up his kingdom in the world.

An exhortation to repentance. (1-6) A vision of the ministry of angels. (7-17) The security of the Jews and the destruction of their enemies. (18-21)

Verses 1-6 God's almighty power and sovereign dominion, should engage and encourage sinners to repent and turn to Him. It is very desirable to have the Lord of hosts for our friend, and very dreadful to have him for our enemy. Review what is past, and observe the message God sent by his servants, the prophets, to your fathers. Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings. Be persuaded to leave your sins, as the only way to prevent approaching ruin. What is become of our fathers, and of the prophets that preached to them? They are all dead and gone. Here they were, in the towns and countries where we live, passing and repassing in the same streets, dwelling in the same houses, trading in the same shops and exchanges, worshipping God in the same places. But where are they? When they died, there was not an end of them; they are in eternity, in the world of spirits, the unchangeable world to which we hasten apace. Where are they? Those of them who lived and died in sin, are in torment. Those who lived and died in Christ, are in heaven; and if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly and eternally. If they minded not their own souls, is that a reason why their posterity should ruin theirs also? The prophets are gone. Christ is a Prophet that lives for ever, but all other prophets have a period put to their office. Oh that this consideration had its due weight; that dying ministers are dealing with dying people about their never-dying souls, and an awful eternity, upon the brink of which both are standing! In another world, both we and our prophets shall live for ever: to prepare for that world ought to be our great care in this. The preachers died, and the hearers died, but the word of God died not; not one jot or title of it fell to the ground; for he is righteous.

Verses 7-17 The prophet saw a dark, shady grove, hidden by hills. This represented the low, melancholy condition of the Jewish church. A man like a warrior sat on a red horse, in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. Though the church was in a low condition, Christ was present in the midst, ready to appear for the relief of his people. Behind him were angels ready to be employed by him, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Would we know something of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must apply, not to angels, for they are themselves learners, but to Christ himself. He is ready to teach those humbly desirous to learn the things of God. The nations near Judea enjoyed peace at that time, but the state of the Jews was unsettled, which gave rise to the pleading that followed; but mercy must only be hoped for through Christ. His intercession for his church prevails. The Lord answered the Angel, this Angel of the covenant, with promises of mercy and deliverance. All the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood; and his ministers are to preach them to all the world. The earth sat still, and was at rest. It is not uncommon for the enemies of God to be at rest in sin, while his people are enduring correction, harassed by temptation, disquieted by fears of wrath, or groaning under oppression and persecution. Here are predictions which had reference to the revival of the Jews after the captivity, but those events were shadows of what shall take place in the church, after the oppression of the New Testament Babylon is ended.

Verses 18-21 The enemies of the church threaten to cut off the name of Israel. They are horns, emblems of power, strength, and violence. The prophet saw them so formidable that he began to despair of the safety of every good man, and the success of every good work; but the Lord showed him four workmen empowered to cut off these horns. With an eye of sense we see the power of the enemies of the church; look which way we will, the world shows us that; but it is only with an eye of faith that we see it safe. The Lord shows us that. When God has work to do, he will raise up some to do it, and others to defend it, and to protect those employed in doing it. What cause there is to look up in love and praise to the holy and eternal Spirit, who has the same care over the present and eternal interests of believers, by the holy word bringing the church to know the wonderful things of salvation!

Cross References 55

  • 1. See Haggai 1:1
  • 2. Ezra 6:14; Matthew 23:35
  • 3. 1 Chronicles 6:39
  • 4. Nehemiah 12:4, 16
  • 5. [Jeremiah 2:5]
  • 6. Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:1, 22; Ezekiel 18:30; Malachi 3:7
  • 7. Jeremiah 12:15; Micah 7:19
  • 8. [Psalms 78:8]
  • 9. See 2 Chronicles 36:15
  • 10. [See ver. 3 above]
  • 11. Zechariah 7:11; 2 Chronicles 36:16; See Jeremiah 35:15
  • 12. [John 8:52]
  • 13. [Isaiah 40:8; Matthew 24:35]
  • 14. See Daniel 9:6
  • 15. Deuteronomy 28:2, 15
  • 16. Lamentations 2:17
  • 17. [Ezekiel 36:31]
  • 18. [Ezekiel 36:31]
  • 19. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 20. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 21. [See ver. 1 above]
  • 22. [Revelation 6:4]
  • 23. [Rev. 6:4, 5, 8]; See Zechariah 6:2-7
  • 24. [Revelation 22:6]
  • 25. [See ver. 8 above]
  • 26. [Hebrews 1:14]
  • 27. Zechariah 6:7; [Job 1:7]
  • 28. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 29. [See ver. 10 above]
  • 30. [ver. 15]
  • 31. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 32. Psalms 80:4; Psalms 89:46; Habakkuk 2:6; Revelation 6:10
  • 33. Psalms 80:4; Psalms 89:46; Habakkuk 2:6; Revelation 6:10
  • 34. Psalms 102:13
  • 35. Zechariah 7:5; Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 29:10
  • 36. See Jeremiah 29:10, 11
  • 37. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 38. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 39. Zechariah 8:2; Joel 2:18
  • 40. [Joel 3:2]
  • 41. [ver. 11]
  • 42. [Isaiah 54:7, 8]
  • 43. [Isaiah 47:6]
  • 44. Zechariah 8:3
  • 45. [Zechariah 4:9; Ezra 6:14]
  • 46. Jeremiah 31:39; Ezekiel 40:3; Ezekiel 47:3
  • 47. Zechariah 2:4
  • 48. Isaiah 40:1; Isaiah 51:3
  • 49. Zechariah 2:12
  • 50. [1 Kings 22:11]
  • 51. [See ver. 9 above]
  • 52. [See ver. 18 above]
  • 53. [See ver. 18 above]
  • 54. Deuteronomy 28:26; Jeremiah 7:33
  • 55. [Psalms 75:4, 5]

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


This book is in the Hebrew copies called "the Book of Zechariah"; in the Vulgate Latin version, "the Prophecy of Zechariah"; and, in the Syriac and Arabic versions, the Prophecy of the Prophet Zechariah. His name, according to Jerom, signifies "the memory of the Lord": but, according to Hillerus {a}, "the Lord remembers": either us, or his covenant; his promises of grace, and concerning the Messiah, of which there are many in this book. The writer of this prophecy could not be, as some have imagined, Zacharias the father of John the Baptist; since there must be some hundreds of years difference between them; nor the Zacharias, the son of Barachias, slain between the temple and the altar, our Lord speaks of in Mt 23:35 for though their names agree, yet it does not appear that this prophet was slain by the Jews; indeed the Jewish Targumist, on La 2:20, speaks of a Zechariah, the son of Iddo, a high priest, slain in the temple; but it could not be this Zechariah, since he was no high priest; Joshua was high priest in his time; nor could he be slain in such a place, seeing the temple and altar were not yet built; nor was this prophet Zechariah the son of Jehoiada, slain in the court of the Lord's house, 2Ch 24:20,21 for, as their names do not agree, so neither their office, he being a high priest, this a prophet; nor the times in which they lived, Zechariah the son of Jehoiada lived in the times of Joash king of Judah, two or three hundred years before this; but this was one of the captivity of Babylon, and who came up from thence with Zerubbabel, Ne 12:16 and was contemporary with the Prophet Haggai; so that the time of his prophecy was after the Babylonish captivity, and was delivered to the Jews that were returned from thence; and the design of it is to stir them up to build the temple, and restore the pure worship of God; and to encourage their faith and hope in the expectation of the Messiah; for the book consists of various visions and prophecies relating to him, and to the times of the Gospel; and the visions are, as some Jewish writers {b} observe, very obscure, and like the visions of Daniel, and difficult of interpretation. There are several passages cited out of this book in the New Testament, as

Zec 8:16 in Eph 4:25 Zec 9:9 in Mt 21:5, Joh 12:14,15 Zec 11:12,13 in Mt 27:9 Zec 12:10 in Joh 19:37, Re 1:7 Zec 13:7 in Mt 26:31, Mr 14:27

which abundantly confirm the authenticity of it. This prophet seems to have lived and died in Jerusalem; and, according to Pseudo-Epiphanius {c}, was buried near Haggai the prophet; and with which agree the Cippi Hebraici {d}, which inform us that Haggai was buried in a cave in the downward slope of the mount of Olives; and at the bottom of that mount was a large statue called the hand of Absalom, near to which was the grave of Zechariah the prophet, in a cave shut up, and over it a beautiful monument of one stone: and Monsieur Thevenot {e} tells us, that now is shown, near the sepulchres of Absalom and Jehoshaphat, on the descent of the mount of Olives, the sepulchre of the Prophet Zacharias.---It is cut in a diamond point upon the rock, with many pillars about it. Sozomen {f} the historian, indeed, makes mention of Caphar Zechariah, a village on the borders of Eleutheropolis, a city in Palestine, where it is pretended the body of this prophet was found in the times of Theodosius, to which no credit is to be given; nor is there any dependence to be had on the former accounts.

{a} Onomastic. Sacr. p. 508, 957, 958. {b} Aben Ezra & Jarchi in loc. & R. Abendana in Miclol Yophi in loc. & Kimchi in ver. 8. {c} De Prophet. Vita & Interitu, c. 21. {d} P. 29. Ed. Hottinger. {e} Travels, par. 1. B. 2. ch. 37. p. 184. {f} Hist. Eccles. l. 9. c. 17.


In this chapter, after the account of the prophet, and the time of the prophecy by him, are an exhortation of the people of the Jews to repentance; the vision of a rider upon a red horse, and the intercession of the angel of the Lord for Jerusalem; and another vision of the enemies of the Jews, and of their deliverers. In Zec 1:1 is the general inscription of the book; in which an account is given of the time of its writing, and of the writer of it: then follows the exhortation to repentance, enforced from the wrath of God, which came upon their fathers for not hearkening to the Lord, and turning from their evil ways; and from the advantage that would be received thereby, the Lord would return to them; and from the certain accomplishment of the divine word; for, though both their fathers and prophets died, the word of the Lord had its sure effect, Zec 1:2-6 and next the vision of the rider on the red horse is presented; the year, month, day, and night, in which it was seen, are mentioned, Zec 1:7 and the rider is described by his form, a man; by the horse he rode upon, a red one; by the place he stood in among the myrtle trees in the bottom; and by his attendants behind, red horses, speckled and white, Zec 1:8. The interpretation of which last is given to the prophet by the angel, by the man among the myrtle trees, and by the answer of them to the angel of the Lord themselves, Zec 1:9-11. After which the angel is represented as making intercession for Jerusalem, who is answered by good and comfortable words, Zec 1:12,13 upon which the prophet is bid to publish the jealousy of the Lord for Jerusalem; his displeasure at the heathens for afflicting them; his promise to return to the Jews, that the temple and city of Jerusalem should be rebuilt, and other cities of Judea, which should enjoy great prosperity, Zec 1:14-17 and the chapter is concluded with a vision of four horns, signifying the enemies of Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem; and of four carpenters that should destroy them, Zec 1:18-21.

Zechariah 1 Commentaries

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.