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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Zechariah 13

Verse 1

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness.

In that day - connected with the close of Zechariah 12:1-14. The mourning penitents are here comforted.

There shall be a fountain opened. It has been long opened, but then first it shall be so "to the house of David" (representing all Israel), after their long and weary wanderings. Like Hagar in the wilderness, they remain ignorant of the refreshment near them, until God "opens their eyes" (Genesis 21:19). (Moore.) It is not the fountain, but their eyes that need to be opened. It shall be a "fountain" ever flowing: not a laver, needing constantly to be replenished with water, such as stood between the tabernacle and altar (Exodus 30:18).

For sin and for uncleanness - i:e., for judicial guilt and moral impurity. Thus justification and sanctification are implied in this verse as both flowing from the blood of Christ, not from ceremonial sacrifices (1 Corinthians 1:30; Hebrews 9:13-14; 1 John 1:7: cf. Ezekiel 36:25). "Sin" in Hebrew [ chaTaa't (H2403), from chaaTaa' (H2398)] is literally a missing the mark or way.

Verse 2

And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the LORD of hosts, that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered: and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.

I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered. Such are the consequences of pardon; not indolence, but the extirpation of sin.

Names of the idols. Their very names were not to be mentioned: thus the Jews, instead of Mephi-baal, said Mephi-bosheth (bosheth meaning a contemptible thing), (Exodus 23:13; Deuteronomy 12:3; Psalms 16:4), The "idols" [ haa`atsabiym (H6091)] here answer to the Seraphim in Zechariah 10:2 (margin), where the are associated with "the diviners" [haqowcmiym]. Malachi (Malachi 3:5), too, speaks of the "sorcerers [mªkashipiym]. Josephus ('Antiquities',

viii. 2, sec. 5) proves that such dealings with evil spirits and magic were prevalent among the Jews.

Out of the land. Judea's two great sins, idolatry and false prophecy, have long since ceased. But these are types of all sin (e.g., "covetousness, which is idolatry," Colossians 3:5; Ephesians 5:5; a besetting sin of the Jews now). Idolatry, combined with the "spirit" of "Satan," is again to be incarnated in "the man of sin" who is to arise in Judea (2 Thessalonians 2:3-12), and is to be "consumed with the Spirit of the Lord's mouth." Compare as to Antichrist's papal precursor, "seducing spirits ... doctrines of devils," etc., 1 Timothy 4:1-3; and "false prophets ... false teachers, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies," 2 Peter 2:1.

And I will also cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land - Hebrew [ ruwach (H7307) haTum'aah (H2932)], of spirit of uncleanness (cf. Revelation 16:13, "Three unclean spirits like frogs ... out of the mouth of the dragon ... the beast and ... the false prophet: they are the spirits of devils working miracles"); opposed to "the Spirit of holiness" (Romans 1:4), "the Spirit of error" (1 John 4:6). One assuming to be divinely inspired, but in league with Satan.

Verse 3

And it shall come to pass, that when any shall yet prophesy, then his father and his mother that begat him shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the LORD: and his father and his mother that begat him shall thrust him through when he prophesieth.

When any shall yet prophesy ... his father and his mother ... shall say unto him, Thou shalt not live; for thou speakest lies in the name of the Lord. The form of phraseology here is drawn from Deuteronomy 13:6-10; Deuteronomy 18:20. The substantial truth expressed is, that false prophecy shall be utterly abolished. If it were possible for it again to start up, the very parents of the false prophet would not let parental affection interfere, but would be the first to thrust him through. Love to Christ must be paramount to the tenderest of natural ties (Matthew 10:37). Much as the godly love their children, they love God and His honour more.

Verse 4

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:

The prophets shall be ashamed - of the false prophecies which they have uttered in times past, and which the event has confuted.

Neither shall they wear a rough garment - sackcloth. The badge of a prophet (2 Kings 1:8; Isaiah 20:2), to mark their frugality alike in food and attire. Such as Elijah and his antitype, John the Baptist, wore (Matthew 3:4); also, to be consonant to the mournful warnings which they delivered.

To deceive. It is not the dress that is here condemned, but the purpose of deception for which it was worn-namely, to conceal wolves under sheep's clothing (Calvin). The monkish hair-shirt of Popery, worn to inspire the multitude with the impression of superior sanctity, shall be then cast aside.

Verses 5-6

But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.

But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an farmer - the detection of one of the false prophets dramatically represented. He is seized by some zealous vindicator of the law, and in fear cries out "I am no prophet."

For Man_1:-1 :e., one. The Hebrew may mean Adam - i:e., our first parent was my pattern from my youth; I followed his agricultural (or pastoral, or both) occupations.

Taught me to keep cattle from my youth. As "keeping cattle" is not the same as to be "an farmer," and it would be no proof that a man was "an farmer" to say, "I was taught to keep cattle from my youth;" translate [ hiqnaniy (H7069)], rather, 'Has used (or 'appropriated') me as a servant'-namely, in husbandry. [ Qaanaah (H7069), to acquire gain: whence hiqnaah, to employ one to acquire gain: to force a man to be one's field servant] (Maurer), However, husbandry and keeping cattle might be regarded as jointly the occupation of the person questioned: then Amos 7:14, "herdman" ("I was no prophet, neither was I a prophet's son; but I was an herdman, and a gatherer (or cultivator) of sycamore fruit"), will accord with the English version. A Hebrew kindred word [ miqneh (H4735)] means cattle. Both occupations, the respondent implies, are inconsistent with my being a "prophet."

Verse 6 And one shall say unto him, What are these wounds in thine hands? The interrogator still suspects him: "If so, if you have never pretended to be a prophet, whence come those wounds?" The Hebrew [ beeyn (H996) yaadeykaa (H3027)] is rather, 'between thine hands.' The hands were naturally held up to ward off the blows, and so were "thrust through" (Zechariah 13:3) "between" the bones of the hand. Stoning was the usual punishment; "thrusting through" was also a fit retribution on one who tried to "thrust Israel away" from the Lord (Deuteronomy 13:10); and perfects the type of Messiah, condemned as a false prophet, and pierced with "wounds between his hands." Thus the transition to the direct prophecy of Him (Zechariah 13:7) is natural, which it would not be if He were not indirectly and in type alluded to here first.

Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends - an implied admission that he had pretended to prophecy, and that his friends had wounded him for it in zeal for God (Zechariah 13:3). The Holy Spirit in Zechariah alludes indirectly to Messiah, the antitype, wounded by those whom He came to befriend, who ought to have been His "friends," who were His kinsmen (cf. Zechariah 13:3, as to the false prophet's friends, with Mark 3:21, "His friend [margin, 'kinsmen,' hoi (G3588) par' (G3844) autou (G847)] went out to lay hold on Him," John 7:5; "His own," John 1:11; the Jews, "of whom as concerning the flesh, he came," Romans 9:5), but who "pierced" and "wounded" Him by the agency of the Romans (Zechariah 12:10).

Verse 7

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, and against the man that is my fellow, saith the LORD of hosts: smite the shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered: and I will turn mine hand upon the little ones.

Awake. O sword, against my Shepherd ... smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered.

Expounded by Christ as referring to Himself (Matthew 26:31-32). What is expressed by the prophet imperatively, "Smite," is expressed as an assertion by the Lord in quoting it, "I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad." For when God, "by his determinate counsel," delivered up Jesus to be smitten, He Himself smote Him. Thus Jesus' form of quotation is the divine commentary on the prophecy. The act of the sword, and of the guilty men who wielded it against Jesus, though they knew it not, and are therefore responsible for the awful sin, is God's act (Acts 2:23; Acts 3:18; Acts 4:28). Thus it is a resumption of the prophecy of His betrayal (Zechariah 11:4; Zechariah 11:10; Zechariah 11:13-14), and the subsequent punishment of the Jews. It explains the mystery why He, who came to be a blessing, was cut off while bestowing the blessing. God regards sin in such a fearful light that He spared not His own co-equal Son in the one Godhead, when that Son bore the sinners guilt.

Awake. Compare a similar address to the sword of justice personified (Jeremiah 47:6-7). So the prophecy, Isaiah 6:9, "Hear ye," is imperative; the fulfillment, as declared by Jesus, is future (Matthew 13:14), "ye shall hear."

Sword - the symbol of judicial power, the highest exercise of which is to take away the life of the condemned (Romans 13:4). "The wicked" are often made unconsciously to be "a sword of God's" (Psalms 17:13). Not merely a show or expression of justice (as Socinians think) is implied here, but an actual execution of it on Messiah the Shepherd, the substitute for the sheep, by God as judge. Yet God in this shows His love as gloriously as His justice. For God calls Messiah "my shepherd" - i:e., provided "from the foundation of the world" (Revelation 13:8) for sinners, by my love to them, and ever the object of my love (Isaiah 59:16), though judicially "smitten of God" (Isaiah 53:4) for their sins.

And against the man that is my fellow - literally, the man of my union [ geber (H1397) `ªmiytiy (H5997)]. The Hebrew for "man" [ geber (H1397)] is 'a mighty man,' one peculiarly man in his noblest ideal. "My fellow" -

i.e., my associate [from 'aamaah, to bind together. One not merely a neighbour in location, but one intimately conjoined]. 'My equal' (DeWette: a remarkable admission from a Rationalist). 'My nearest kinsman' (Hengstenberg). (John 10:30; John 14:10-11; Philippians 2:6.)

And the sheep shall be scattered. The scattering of Christ's disciples on His apprehension was the partial fulfillment (Matthew 26:31), a pledge of the dispersion of the Jewish nation (once the Lord's sheep, Psalms 100:3), consequent on their crucifixion of Him. The Jews, thought "scattered" are still the Lord's "sheep," awaiting their being "gathered" by Him (Isaiah 40:9-11).

And I will turn mine hand upon the little ones - i:e., I will interpose in favour of (cf. the phrase in a good sense, Isaiah 1:25) "the little ones" - namely, the humble followers of Christ from among the Jewish Church, despised by the world: "the poor of the flock" (Zechariah 11:7; Zechariah 11:11); comforted after His crucifixion at the resurrection (John 20:17-20): saved again, by a special interposition, from the destruction of Jerusalem, having retired to Pella when Cestius Gallus so unaccountably withdrew from Jerusalem. Ever since there has been a Jewish "remnant" of "the little ones," "according to the election of grace" The hand of Yahweh was turned in wrath upon the Shepherd, that His hand might be turned in grace upon the little ones.

Verses 8-9

And it shall come to pass, that in all the land, saith the LORD, two parts therein shall be cut off and die; but the third shall be left therein.

In all the land, saith the Lord, two parts therein shall be cut off ... but the third shall be left. Two-thirds of the Jewish nation were to perish in the Roman wars, and a third to survive (Henderson). Probably, from the context (Zechariah 14:2-9), which has never yet been fulfilled, the destruction of the two-thirds [ piy (H6310) shªnayim (H8147)] - literally, the proportion of two, or, the portion of two-and the saving of the remnant, the one-third, are still future, and to be fulfilled under Antichrist.

Verse 9. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and will refine them as silver is refined, and will try them as gold is tried - the fire of trial: implying at once the narrowness of their escape, "as a firebrand plucked out of the burning," and also the purifying effect of the fiery ordeal (Psalms 66:10; Amos 4:11; 1 Corinthians 3:15; 1 Peter 1:6-7).

They shall call on my name, and I will hear them. It hence appears that the Jews' conversion is not to precede, but to follow, their external deliverance by the special interposition of Yahweh; which latter shall be the main cause of their conversion, combined with a preparatory inward shedding abroad in their hearts of the Holy Spirit (Zechariah 12:10-14); and here, "they shall call on my name," in their trouble, which brings Yahweh to their help (Psalms 50:15).

I will say, It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God - (Jeremiah 30:18-22; Ezekiel 11:19-20; Hosea 2:23).

Remarks:

(1) The "fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness" (Zechariah 13:1) is the "pierced" (Zechariah 12:10) side of the Saviour. It is not a mere cistern, but an ever-flowing fountain. The laver between the tabernacle and the altar (Exodus 30:18), wherein the priests washed their hands and their feet before they ministered in the tabernacle, needed to be replenished with water from time to time. But the blood of Jesus is always all-powerful at once to justify believers from the guilt, and to cleanse them from the pollution of sin.

(2) The fountain of justification and of sanctification is always open, and has been so ever since Christ died for us. But the eyes, not only of the Jews, but of all unbelievers, are closed to the virtue and the preciousness of its healing and purifying waters. The Jews, like Hagar in the wilderness, have been long within reach of it, but have had their eyes blinded to it. The day is soon coming when "the vail" that is "upon their heart, shall be taken away" (2 Corinthians 3:15-16). Then shall the fountain be no longer sealed, but "opened" to them.

(3) "The unclean spirit" shall be forced to "pass out of the land" (Zechariah 13:2), when the good "Spirit of Grace" shall be poured out (Zechariah 12:10). A subtler form of idolatry (Revelation 13:15) shall be revived in the last days; and sorcery shall again prevail. Already we discern premonitory symptoms of this characteristic of Antichristianity, not only in the lying miracles of Rome, but in the widespread prevalence of so-called spiritualism, mesmerism, and such like unlawful arts. Compare Acts 19:13-19, "Sorcerers shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone, which is the second death" (Revelation 21:8; Revelation 22:15). But, in the coming day of grace to Israel, all unwarranted pretensions to superhuman knowledge shall be renounced (Zechariah 13:3-4). Love to God shall outweigh every other consideration. Parental affection itself, the strongest of natural instincts shall yield to the higher instinct of zeal for the honour of God. Even the dearest "friends" shall not spare him who falsely claims to be regarded as a prophet (Zechariah 13:5-6). Let us ever remember that, while we are bound to love our earthly relatives and friends in their proper place, yet, if we love "father, mother, son, or daughter more than Christ," we are not worthy of him (Matthew 10:37).

(4) The false prophet "thrust through" (Zechariah 13:3) "between the hands" (Zechariah 13:6) answers in the way of contrast to Messiah, who is the true Prophet, but who was condemned as a false prophet, and "pierced" between the hand "in the house of his friends." "He came to His own, but His own received Him not" (John 1:11). Even still He and His holy cause often receive the sorest wounds in the inconsistencies of professing Christians who form the visible Church, which ought to be "the house of his friends"

(5) How dreadful is the guilt of sin, when its expiation needed nothing short of the sword of divine justice awaking against "the man who is fellow of the Lord of hosts!" (Zechariah 13:7.) The "sword" is the symbol of the execution of justice. In giving it the charge against the Divine "Shepherd" God pronounced the sentence of His judicial wrath against man's sin. Therefore the Lord Jesus, in bearing its terrible stroke, has not merely left us an example of meekness under undeserved sufferings. but has endured the deserved penalty of our sin, though in Him was no sin. God spared not His own co-eternal Son, when His Son undertook to bear the sinner's guilt.

(6) Yet how wonderfully, too, does the love of God herein shine forth! For it was the Father's love that provided for the sinner's ransom Him whom He so infinitely loved, and whom He calls "My Shepherd," but whom He, for our sakes, spared not. How can we ever enough love Him who first loved us?

(7) When the Shepherd was smitten, "the sheep were scattered" (Zechariah 13:7). Christ bore the whole weight of the stroke alone. No apostles, no disciples, no saints, no angels, nor the Virgin Mother, helped in His redeeming work: for "He has trodden the wine-press alone" (Isaiah 63:3).

(8) Times of persecution are sifting times (Zechariah 13:7, end). The storm winnows the chaff from the wheat. But the Lord has always had a chosen remnant of "little ones." Whereas He turned His hand in judicial visitation upon Messiah for the imputed guilt which He bore, and upon the Jewish nation subsequently for their awful guilt personally in shedding Messiah's blood, God "turns his hand" in loving-kindness upon the humble who seek salvation through the Redeemer.

(9) A portion of the Jewish nation shall survive the fiery ordeal, and shall learn "in the fires" to "glorify the Lord" (Isaiah 24:15). Sore trouble shall, through the Spirit's inward operation, drive them to earnest prayers to Him who alone can "deliver in the day of trouble." We may bless God for those afflictions which lead us to "call on the name of God." Though we pass "through the fire," if we be believers, we shall not be consumed, but "refined," as gold and silver purified of their dross in the furnace. And when trials shall have accomplished their end fully, they shall be forever removed, in that perfect world wherein God shall say of His redeemed Church, "It is my people; and they shall say, The Lord is my God" (Zechariah 13:9).

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Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/zechariah-13.html. 1871-8.