Zechariah 3:1

A Vision of Joshua the High Priest

1 Then he showed me 1Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and 2Satan[a] standing at his right hand to accuse him.

Zechariah 3:1 Meaning and Commentary

Zechariah 3:1

And he showed me Joshua the high priest
Who was one that came up out of the captivity, and was principally concerned in building the temple, and had many enemies to obstruct him in it; and who falling into sin, or his sons, in marrying strange wives, ( Ezra 10:18 ) , which he might connive at, Satan was ready to catch it up, and accuse him before God; though rather Joshua is to be considered, not personally, but typically, representing the state and condition of the priesthood, in which office he was; and which was very low, mean, and abject, under the second temple; or the church of God, which the priests, especially the high priest, were representatives of: and indeed this vision may be accommodated to the case of any single believer, fallen into sin, and accused by Satan, and whose advocate Christ is: standing before the Angel of the Lord;
not any created angel, but Christ the Angel of God's presence, who is called Jehovah, ( Zechariah 3:2 ) is the rebuker of Satan, and the advocate of his people; and who takes away their sins, and clothes them with his righteousness: and "standing before" him does not mean barely being in his sight and presence, but as ministering to him; this being the posture both of angels and men, the servants of the Lord, ( Daniel 7:10 ) ( Psalms 134:1 ) ( Psalms 135:1 Psalms 135:2 ) , either he was offering sacrifice for the people, or asking counsel of God for them; or rather giving thanks for his and their deliverance from captivity, being as brands taken out of the fire; and praying to be stripped of his filthy garments, and to be clothed with others more decent, and becoming his office; and for help and assistance in the building of the temple, and against those that obstructed him: also he was brought and placed here as a guilty person, charged with sin, and to be tried before him, Satan standing at his right hand to resist him;
either to hinder him in his work of building the temple, by stirring up Sanballat, and other enemies; or rather to accuse him of sin, and bring a charge against him, and get sentence passed upon him; so the accuser used to stand at the right hand of the accused. The Targum paraphrases it,

``and sin standing at his right hand to resist him:''
when the people of God fall into sin, Satan the accuser of the brethren, their avowed enemy, observes it, and accuses them before the Lord, and seeks their condemnation. Maimonides F16 understands this of his standing at the right hand of the angel; but it was not usual for the prosecutor, accuser, or pleader, whether for or against a person arraigned, to stand the right hand of the judge: indeed, in the Jewish sanhedrim, or grand court of judicature, there were two scribes stood before the judges; the one on the right hand, the other on the left; who took down in writing the pleadings in court, and the sentences of those that were acquitted, and of those that were condemned; he on the right hand the former, and the other on the left hand the latter F17. The prince or chief judge of the court sat in the middle; and his deputy, called "Ab Beth Din", or father of the court, sat at his right hand; and a wise man, a principal one, at his left F18; but it was usual for the pleader, who was called (byr leb) , "Baal Rib", to stand on the right hand of the party cited into the court, whether he pleaded for or against him F19: and to this custom is the allusion here, and in ( Psalms 106:6 Psalms 106:31 ) where Satan, who is the accuser of men, and pleads against them, is placed at the right hand, as here; and God, who pleads the cause of his poor people, is also represented as standing on their right hand. The business of Satan here was to accuse, to bring charges, to plead for condemnation, and endeavour to get the sentence of it passed against Joshua; for he was at his right hand, to be an "adversary" to him, as his name (Satan) signifies, which he has from the word here used; being an enemy to mankind in general, and especially to the people of God, and more especially to persons in sacred public offices; to whom he is (antidikov) , "a court adversary", as the Apostle Peter calls him, ( 1 Peter 5:8 ) who appears in open court against them, and charges them in a most spiteful and malicious manner; and is a most, implacable, obstinate, and impudent one, as his name signifies, and the word from whence it is derived F20; though Maimonides F21 thinks the name is derived from (hjv) , which signifies to decline, or go back from anything; since he, without doubt, makes men to decline from the way of truth to the way of falsehood and error.

F16 Moreh Nevochim, par. 3. c. 22. p. 398.
F17 Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3. Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 1. sect. 9. Mosis Kotsensis Mitzvot Torah, Pr. Affirm. 97.
F18 Maimon. ib. sect. 3. Vid. Cocceium in Misn. Sanhedrin, c. 4. sect. 3.
F19 Godwin's Moses and Aaron, l. 5. c. 3.
F20 Vid. Schultens in Job i. 6.
F21 Moreh Nevochim, ut supra. (par. 3. c. 22. p. 398.)

Zechariah 3:1 In-Context

1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.
2 And the LORD said to Satan, "The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?"
3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.
4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, "Remove the filthy garments from him." And to him he said, "Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments."
5 And I said, "Let them put a clean turban on his head." So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the LORD was standing by.

Cross References 2

  • 1. Zechariah 6:11; See Ezra 3:2
  • 2. [1 Chronicles 21:1; Psalms 109:6]

Footnotes 1

  • [a]. Satan means the accuser