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5. FINAL CONFLICT AND TRIUMPH OF GOD’S KINGDOM
A. A great and at first successful Assault is made upon the Holy City (Zechariah 14:1-2). B. Then God miraculously interposes, grants Escape, and after a mingled Condition of Things gives a final and glorious Deliverance (Zechariah 14:3-7). C. A Stream of Salvation pours over the whole Land (vers.8–11). D. The Enemies are chastised (Zechariah 14:12-15). E. The Remnant of Them turn to the Lord (Zechariah 14:16-19). E. Jerusalem becomes thoroughly Holy (Zechariah 14:20-21).
1 Behold, a day cometh to Jehovah,1
And thy spoil is divided in the midst of thee.
2 And I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to battle;
And the city shall be taken and the houses2 rifled,
And the women shall be ravished;3
And half the city shall go forth into captivity,
And the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
3 And Jehovah shall go forth and fight against those nations,
As in4 his day of battle, in the day of conflict.
4 And his feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives
Which is before Jerusalem on the east; And the Mount of Olives shall be split in the centre
Eastward and westward, a very great valley,5
And half of the mountain shall recede towards the north,
And its (other) half toward the south.
5 And ye shall flee6 to the valley of my mountains,7
For the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal,
And ye shall flee as ye fled before the earthquake,
In the days of Uzziah the king of Judah;
And Jehovah my God shall come, All the saints with thee!8
6 And it shall come to pass in that day,
It will not be light, the glorious9
will withdraw themselves.
7 And the day shall be one,
It shall be known to Jehovah,
Not day and not night,
And at evening time there shall be light
8 And it shall be in that day,
Living waters shall go out from Jerusalem,
Half of them to the eastern10 sea,
And half of them to the western sea,
In summer and in winter shall it be.
9 And Jehovah shall be king over all the land;
In that day Jehovah shall be one11 and his name one.
10 All the land shall be changed like the plain
From Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem,
And she shall be high,12 and dwell in her place
From Benjamin’s gate to the place of the first gate,
To the corner gate,
And from the tower of Hananeel to the king’s wine-presses.
11 And they shall dwell in her,
And there shall be no more curse,13
And Jerusalem shall sit secure.14
12 And this shall be the plague
With which Jehovah will smite all the peoples15
Who have fought against Jerusalem;
His16 flesh shall consume away while he stands upon his feet,
And his eyes shall consume away in their sockets,
And his tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
13 And it shall be in that day that
There shall be among them a great confusion17 from Jehovah,
And they shall seize each his neighbor’s hand,
And his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbor;
14 And Judah also shall fight at18 Jerusalem,
And the riches of all the nations around shall be gathered,
Gold and silver and apparel in great abundance.
15 And so19 shall be the plague of the horse,
Of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass,
And of all the cattle that shall be in these camps,
Even as this plague.
16 And it shall be that
All that is left of the nations which came against Jerusalem
Shall20 go up from21 year to year
To worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts,
And to keep the feast of tabernacles.
17 And it shall be that whoso of the22 families of the earth
Shall not go up to Jerusalem
To worship the King, Jehovah of Hosts,
Upon them there shall be no rain.
18 And if the family of Egypt go not up and come not,
Upon23 them there shall be none,
[Upon them] shall be the plague
With which Jehovah shall plague the nations
Which go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
19 This shall be the sin24 of Egypt,
And the sin of all the nations
Which go not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
20 In that day there shall be on the bells25 of the horses,
Holiness to Jehovah,
And the pots in the house of Jehovah
Shall be as the bowls before the altar.
21 And every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah
Shall be holiness to Jehovah of Hosts.
And all who sacrifice shall come
And take of them and sacrifice therein,
And there shall no more be a Canaanite26
In the house of Jehovah of Hosts in that day.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL.
This concluding chapter of the Prophet has been very variously interpreted. Calvin, Grotius, and others supposed it to refer to the times of the Maccabees, which for a variety of reasons is scarcely possible. Marckius, following Cyril and Theodoret, applied its opening verses to the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus, and with him agree Lowth, Adam Clarke, and Henderson; but the circumstances here stated do not correspond with the facts of history, nor if they did, could the former part of the chapter be violently sundered from its plain connection with the latter part. The “later criticism” (Hitzig, Knobel, Maurer, Ewald, Bertheau, etc.), refer the passage to the period immediately preceding the Babylonish exile and the catastrophe then threatening Jerusalem; and when reminded of the contrast between the prediction and the facts, appeal to the ethical aim and conditional nature of prophecy as fully accounting for this, But even admitting their principle, it does not apply here, for this chapter has nothing to say of sin and judgment, of repentance and conversion on the part of the covenant people, but only of their dreadful trials and glorious deliverance. Such a prediction, addressed to Judah in the last decennium before the exile, could have exerted no healthful influence, and certainly the glowing statements of the latter part of it have no counterpart in any experience of the restored people. It only remains then either with Wordsworth, Blayney, Newcome, Moore, Cowles, etc., to refer it to a period yet future, or with Hengstenberg, Keil, etc., to suppose that it describes in general terms the whole development of the Church of God from the commencement of the Messianic era to its close. In either case the chapter must be taken as figurative and not literal. The cleaving of the Mount of Olives in two for the purpose of affording escape to fugitives from Jerusalem; the flowing of two perpetual streams from the holy city in opposite directions; the levelling of the whole land in order to exalt the temple-mountain; the yearly pilgrimage of all nations of the earth to Jerusalem; and the renewal of the old sacrifices of the Mosaic ritual; these are plainly symbolical statements, but not therefore by any means unmeaning or useless. The chapter does not stand alone in the Scriptures. Parallels are to be found in Isaiah (65–66), Ezekiel (38–39), and Daniel (12), as well as in the closing book of the New Testament.
The Prophet begins with the account of an attack made upon the holy city by all nations, who, instead of being destroyed (like Gog and Magog in Ezekial) before getting possession of the holy city, seize and plunder it and carry away half its population, and then are met and thwarted by Jehovah, who provides escape for his people. This feature of escape inclines one to regard the passage as an ideal picture of all the conflicts of the Church with its foes.
(a.) Zechariah 14:1-2. The Attack. Zechariah 14:1. Behold? a day cometh, etc. A day to Jehovah=one belonging to Him, appointed for the manifestation of his power and glory (cf. Isaiah 2:12). The final result makes this abundantly plain. Thy spoil, etc. The Prophet addresses the city and says that her booty, not (as T. V. Moore, following the Targum, strangely imagines) that which she takes, but that which is taken from her, is leisurely divided among the conquerors in the midst of the city. The details implied in this general announcement are stated in the next verse.
Zechariah 14:2. And I will gather…ravished. Jehovah collected these nations just as He roused Pharaoh to pursue Israel (Exodus 14:4), in the same way and with the same result. The divine purpose presides over all human wrath and wickedness, and gains its ends, not only in spite, but often by means, of them. The rifling of the houses and dishonoring of the women are expressions taken from Isaiah 13:16, where they are used in reference to Babylon. And half of the city, etc. Only a part of the inhabitants are to be driven into exile, the rest remain. It was different at the Chaldæan conquest of Jerusalem, for then the greater portion were carried away, and afterwards even “the remnant that was left” (2 Kings 25:11). The verse cannot therefore refer to that subjugation. Nor can it be applied to the overthrow of the holy city by Titus, who neither had all nations under his banner, nor left a half of the population in possession of their homes.
(b.) Zechariah 14:3-7. The Deliverance. Zechariah 14:3. Jehovah goeth forth…battle. God Himself goes forth against these foes, and fights for his people as He is accustomed to do in a day of battle. The latter clause does not seem to refer particularly to the conflict at the Red Sea (Jerome, Hengstenberg), but rather to the Lord’s general course, as shown in many former instances (Keil, Köhler), Joshua 10:14-42; Joshua 23:8; Jdg 4:15; 2 Chronicles 20:15.
Zechariah 14:4. His feet stand…south. The situation of the Mount of Olives—which is before Jerusalem—is not added as a geographical designation, which surely would be needless, but to indicate its suitableness for the position of one who intended to relieve the holy city. His feet touch it, and the effect is that of an earthquake (Psalms 68:8; Nahum 1:5). The mountain is split through the middle latitudinally, so that the two halves fill back from each other, one toward the north, the other toward the south. The consequence would be the formation of a very great valley running east and west. To one fleeing hastily from Jerusalem, the Mount of Olives presented an obstacle of no small importance, as it did to David once (2 Samuel 15:20); and hence the provision here made for removing the difficulty.
Zechariah 14:5. And ye shall flee…Judah. The people will flee into the valley of my mountains, not the Tyropœon (Jerome, etc.), but into the valley produced by the two halves of Olivet, which are properly called by Jehovah his, since He had just given them their separate existence (so nearly all critics). The reason why the fugitives should flee thither is that this level opening extends to Azal, which by almost all expositors, ancient and modern, is considered a proper name denoting a place near Jerusalem, but no trace of any such place now exists. Hengstenberg identifies it with the “Beth-Ezel” of Micah 1:11, and explains its meaning as=“standing still,” “ceasing,” so that what is promised is that the valley shall extend to a place which in accordance with its name will afford to the fugitives a cessation of danger. Köhler follows Symm. and Jerome in rendering it ad proximum, which he renders “to very near,” i. e., to the point where the fugitives actually are. It seems simpler to suppose that the term refers to a place east of Olivet, well known in the Prophet’s day, which by its position would show the valley to be long enough to furnish all needful shelter and escape for the fleeing people. The swiftness of the flight is expressed by comparison to that occasioned by the earthquake in the days of Uzziah, which is referred to in Amos 1:1, but of which we have no other information. Some think that the fleeing arises from fear of being swallowed up with their foes by the earthquake (Hengstenber, Keil); but it is more natural to refer it to fear of their enemies. The added clause, and Jehovah my God comes; etc., with the suffix of the last word in the second person, indicates the lively joy with which the Prophet hails the appearance of his God, so that as he sees in vision the shining retinue of his saints, he passes from indirect to direct address, and exclaims, all the saints with thee! The saints here, according to the analogy of other passages (Deuteronomy 33:2-3; Daniel 7:9-10; Matthew 25:31; Revelation 19:14), are the holy angels, and not (Vitringa) both holy angels and holy men.
Zechariah 14:6. And it shall be, etc. The former part of this verse is very plain, but the last two words are obscure. The Keri represents an early attempt to escape the difficulty by altering the text, giving וְקפָּאוֹן instead of יְקִפָּאוֹן. This was adopted by the old versions, which, besides, either assumed that יְקָרוֹת was synonymous with קָרוֹת, cold, or maintained that the true reading was וְקָרוֹת.Then, rendering the former noun ice, they got the sense, “It will not be light, but (there will be) cold and ice” (Targum, Peshito, Symm., Itala, and so Luther). Some later critics adopting the same text coordinate the three nouns, and bring them all under the negation, thus, “There will not be light and cold and ice,” i. e., no alternation of them (Ewald, Bunsen, Umbreit). But this is a very poor sense, unsustained by any analogy in Scripture, and without force in the connection. It is far better to adhere to the Chethib, in which the only grammatical difficulty is the combination of a feminine noun with a verb having a masculine suffix, which surely is not insuperable in Hebrew. יְקָרוֹת means here as elsewhere precious things, with the additional idea of splendor or brilliancy, as in Job 31:26, where the moon is said to walk יקר=in brightness or magnificently. The mention of light just before suggests the thought of the stars or heavenly bodies in general, as what is intended by the glorious things. The verb then is taken in its primary sense, to be contracted (h. to curdle, to congeal), here=withdraw themselves. The whole verse then indicates a day of darkness. The lights of the earth will all disappear. What the former clause states in plain prose, the latter expresses more figuratively.
Zechariah 14:7. And the day shall be one, etc. This verse continues the description of the sorrowful time just mentioned. The day shall be one in the sense of solitary, unique, peculiar. See the Lexicons. It is known to Jehovah, and by implication to no one else, in its true nature. Not day and not night=not an admixture of both, but neither, not a νυχθήμερον at all, because the lights of heaven being put out, there are no means of determining what is day and what night. The whole order of nature is miraculously reversed. The expression at evening time, etc., is the antithesis of the declaration in Amos 8:9, “I will cause the sun to go down at noon, and I wilt bring darkness upon the land in clear day.” At the time when according to the natural course of events darkness should set in, a bright light dawns. Some expositors compare with this verse Revelation 21:23-25, but the two passages are radically different. It is true not only at the end of all things, but at many a previous period in the history of the Church, that at evening time it becomes light. Some critics give the sense thus stated by Professor Cowles, “There is a gradation through three distinct stages: first, utter darkness; then, a dim twilight, like that of an eclipse; then, at the close, when you might expect darkness soon to cover the earth, lo, the effulgence of full and glorious day” (M. P., 374).
(c.) “Zechariah 14:8-11. Blessings from Jerusalem diffuse themselves over the whole land.
Zechariah 14:8. Living waters shall, etc. A lively image of the abundance and preciousness of spiritual blessings, as is evident from analogous Scriptures and from the fact that here the water flows in two opposite directions at once, and that it runs not only in winter, but in summer, when usually in Palestine the streams are altogether dry. These waters come not from occasional rainfalls, but are living, i. e., proceed from perennial fountains, and so cover the whole land from the Dead Sea lo the Mediterranean with fertility and beauty. They issue from Jerusalem, the central point of the kingdom of God under the Old Testament, and here therefore appropriately standing for the Christian Church, which is that centre under the New Testament.
Zechariah 14:9. And Jehovah shall be king, etc. Most expositors render “over all the earth,” but the connection before and after refers certainly to Palestine, and there seems no reason for departing from the usual rendering, and the less, inasmuch as beyond doubt Canaan here stands as a type of the kingdom of God in its fullest extent in this world. Of course the meaning is that He will be king not only potentia or de jure, but actu el de facto. In this sense He shall be one, i. e., recognized as such, and the same as to his name=outward manifestation of his nature. Not only will gross polytheism come to an end, but also that more refined system which regards all forms of worship as different but equally legitimate modes of worshipping the one Divine Being.
Zechariah 14:10. All the land…wine-presses. The whole land is to be leveled to a plain in order that Jerusalem may be elevated, and then the holy city is to be restored to its former grandeur. The article is emphatic in the plain, which in Hebrew always denotes the Arabah or Ghor, the largest and most celebrated of all the plains of Judæa, the great valley extending from Lebanon to the farther side of the Dead Sea. Geba was on the northern frontier of Judah (cf. 2 Kings 23:8). Rimmon, distinguished from two other Rimmons on the north (Joshua 19:13; Judges 20:45), by the added clause south of Jerusalem, was a city on the border of Edom, given up by Judah to the Simeonites (Joshua 15:32; Joshua 19:7). In consequence of this depression of all the surrounding country, Jerusalem becomes high. The capital seated on her hills shines conspicuous as the only elevation in a very wide region. Of course the physical elevation thus miraculously caused is only figurative of Jerusalem’s spiritual exaltation. An exact parallel is found in the repeated and remarkable prediction of Isaiah (2: 2) and Micah (4:1), in which, however, no leveling takes place, but the temple-mountain is so elevated that it overtops all the mountains of the earth. Professor Cowles connects the plain closely with the two following words so as to get the sense “like the plain from Geba to Rimmon;” but there was no such plain,—the whole territory between these points being hilly in the extreme. The exaltation of Jerusalem is followed by a complete recovery from the ruin brought upon it by the capture and plunder mentioned in Zechariah 14:1-2. The city shall dwell תַחְתֶּיהָ=on its ancient site(cf. 12:6), and have its old boundaries. These, as they are given here, cannot be determined with certainty. The last clause, From the tower…wine-presses (מִן being supplied before מִגְדַּל), is generally understood to give the extent north and south, the tower of Hanameel being at the northeast corner of the city (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39), and the wine-presses in the royal gardens at the south side (Nehemiah 3:15). As to the former clauses, the starting-point is Benjamin’s gate, whence some suppose that the line ran eastward to the first gate, i. q., old gate, (Nehemiah 3:6), and westward to the corner gate (2 Kings 14:13),—the gate of Benjamin being on this supposition in the middle of the northern wall (Hengstenberg, Keil). Others with less probability make the corner gate simply a more precise definition of the place of the first gate (Hitzig, Kliefoth). It is to be hoped that the topographical explorations at present in progress on the site of Jerusalem will shed such light upon the whole subject as will make plain what now can he only conjecturally determined. Still, whatever may be the precise force of terms here used, the general sense is clear. The city shall have its former limits.
Zechariah 14:11. And they shall dwell…secure. Instead of going out either as captives or fugitives, the inhabitants shall dwell securely and have no reason to dread further hostile attacks (Isaiah 65:19). The ground of this security is the exemption from the curse, the dreadful ban which always follows sin (Joshua 6:18); and the cessation of this implies that the people are a holy nation. This clause is used (Revelation 22:3) in the description of the holy city, the new Jerusalem.
(d.) Zechariah 14:12-15. The destruction of the hostile nations. The Prophet here pauses in his account of the blessings destined for the purified Church, to set forth more fully the punishment of the ungodly.
Zechariah 14:12. This will be the plague…month. מַגֵּפָה according to usage always denotes an infliction from the hand of God. The stroke here is the most terrible that can be conceived,—the whole frame rotting away even while the man stands upon his feet, i. e., is alive. To emphasize still more the condition of these living corpses, the Prophet adds the rotting of the eyes which had spied out the nakedness of the city of God, and of the tongue which had blasphemed God and his people. The singular suffixes are of course to be taken distributively.
Zechariah 14:13. A great confusion from Jehovah. Another means of destruction is civil discord. The allusion appears to be to a panic terror causing such confusion that each turns his hand upon the other. Instances occur in Israelitish history, Jdg 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:20 (and behold, every man’s sword against his neighbor, and there was a very great מְחוּמָה=confusion), 2 Chronicles 20:23. Seize the hand denotes a hostile grasp, and the next clause graphically depicts the effort of the assailant to give a home thrust.
Zechariah 14:14. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem, etc. An old and widely accepted view translates the final words of the first clause, “against Jerusalem” (Targum, Jerome, Kimchi, Luther, Calvin, Cocceius, and most of the moderns). But this is so flatly against the context, that it must be rejected, even though it be admitted that בְ after נִלְחַם usually points out the object of attack. In one case at least (Exodus 17:8), the preposition has a local sense, and this is true also of Isaiah 30:32, according to Ewald’s explanation of the Kethib in that passage. We therefore understand the clause as teaching that Judah=the whole covenant people, will take part in the conflict and carry it on at Jerusalem (LXX., Markius, Hengstenberg, Kleifoth, Keil, Köhler). The consequence of this will be the overthrow of the foes and the capture of all their costly possessions. Apparel. As fashions in the East did not and do not change as they do with us, garments of all kinds were kept in great number, and constituted a large part of oriental wealth (Job 27:16, Matthew 6:19, James 5:2).
Zechariah 14:15. And so…the plague of the horse, etc. This verse amplifies the crime and punishment, since it shows the guilt of these foes to be such that even their possessions are overtaken by the divine curse. The case is illustrated by the example of Achan, whose oxen and sheep and asses were burned, along with himself and his children (Joshua 7:24).
(e.) Zechariah 14:16-19. The remnant of the heathen shall be converted.
Zechariah 14:16. All that is left…tabernacles. The prophet states, with an evident allusion to Isaiah 66:23, that those of the heathen who are not destroyed will all go up yearly to the sanctuary of Jehovah to observe one of the great feasts. This, of course, is figurative, as the most intrepid literalist will scarcely maintain that all nations could by any possibility accomplish such a feat. Henderson seeks to avoid the difficulty by supposing that they will go up in the person of their representatives. But even this ingenious device fails to meet the terms used by Isaiah 50:10, where all flesh is said to come every Sabbath and every new moon. The verse is simply a striking method of depicting the entrance of the heathen into the kingdom of God. Why is the feast of tabernacles specified? Not because it occurred in autumn, which is the best season of the year for travelling (Theodoret, Grotius, Rosenmüller); nor because this feast was the holiest and most joyful (Koster, V. Ortenburg, Pressel); nor because of its relation to the ingathering of the harvest (Köhler); nor because such a festival could be observed without any compromise of the principles of the New Dispensation (Henderson); but rather in view of its interesting historical relations (Dachs, C. B. Michaelis, Hengstenberg). It was a feast of thanksgiving for the gracious protection afforded by the Lord during the pilgrimage of his people through the desert, and for their introduction into tire blessings of the land of Canaan. In like manner the nations will celebrate the goodness which has brought them through their tedious and perilous wanderings in this life to the true and everlasting kingdom of peace and rest. Carrying out this figurative representation, the prophet adds a penalty to be inflicted upon all absentees.
Zechariah 14:17. Whoso of the families…no rain. Rain seems to be mentioned as one of the principal blessings of God, that by which the fruitfulness is produced which occasions the joy of the harvest. It therefore appropriately stands here to represent the whole class of providential favors. Compare the notes on 10:1. It shall be withheld from those who fail to fulfill their duties to Him. See a similar threat, upon Israel, in Deuteronomy 11:16-17. Pressel calls attention to the fine use of the word family in this verse in connection with Jehovah as king, indicating that then the various nations of the earth shall be considered as so many families of the one people of God.
Zechariah 14:18. And if the family of Egypt go not up, etc. The menace of the preceding verse is repeated with especial application to Egypt. Many have sought the reason of this particular specification in the natural peculiarities of Egypt, which, being indebted for its fertility not to rain but to the Nile, might seem to be exempt from the threatened drought. But surely, apart from other considerations, this has no force nor application, when it is remembered that even the Nile is dependent upon rains at its source. It is far more natural to attribute the mention of Egypt to its historical relations to Israel as their hereditary foe. The old enemy of the Church shall either join the procession Zion-ward, or else feel the retributive curse.
Zechariah 14:19. This shall be the sin of Egypt, i “This,” namely, that no rain falls on them. Hence many adopt the version of חָטַּאת in the English Bible, punishment (Targum, Calvin, Henderson), and appeal to Lamentations 3:38; Lamentations 4:6, Isaiah 40:2. But it is at least doubtful if the word ever has this sense (see on Lamentations 4:6), and accordingly the difficulty is avoided by taking it=sin, including its consequences (Hengstenberg, Keil, Köhler). The inseparable connection between sin and punishment is well expressed in Numbers 32:23. The foregoing passage does not require us to believe that at the period spoken of there will still be godless heathen who refuse to acknowledge and worship Jehovah. It may be simply a rhetorical enforcement of the thought that all ungodliness will then entirely cease.
(f.) Zechariah 14:20-21. Jerusalem becomes thoroughly holy.
Zechariah 14:20. There shall he on the bells…altar, מְצִלוֹת, variously rendered by ancient authorities, is now acknowledged to mean bells, which were suspended from horses and mules for the sake of ornament. The phrase inscribed upon these, Holiness to Jehovah, is that which was engraved upon the diadem of the high, priest (Exodus 28:36). This does not mean that these bells should be employed for religious worship, or used to make sacred vessels (Jewish Critics, Cyril, Grotius); nor that the horses and other means of warfare should be consecrated to the Lord (C. B. Michaelis, Hitzig, Ewald, Maurer); but that the distinction between sacred and profane should cease (Calvin, Hengstenberg, Keil, etc.). Even the smallest outward things, such as have no connection with worship, will be as holy as those which formerly were dedicated by a special consecration to Jehovah. Of course this involves the cessation of the Levitical Economy. An advance upon this thought is contained in the second clause. Not only shall everything profane become holy, but the different degrees of holiness shall cease. The pots used for boiling the sacrificial flesh shall be just as holy as the sacred bowls which received the blood of the piacular victim’s. The two kinds of utensils stood at opposite points of the scale of sanctity; to put them on the same level was to say that all would not only be holy, but alike holy. Calvin on this passage cites with ridicule the opinion of Theodore!, that the former part of the verse was fulfilled when Helena, the mother of Constantine, adorned the trappings of a horse with a nail of the cross! Such trifling was too much even for Jerome.
Zechariah 14:21. And every pot…in that day. Here the thought is carried yet farther. Not only shall the temple-pots be equal to sacrificial bowls, but every common pot in the city and throughout the land, will become as sacred as the utensils of the temple, and be freely used by all for sacrificial purposes. The substance of the thought is the same, only more emphatic. This now is repeated in the closing words,—no more a Canaanite in the house of Jehovah. כֲּעֲנִי does not mean a merchant, as in Job 40:6, Proverbs 31:24 (Targum, Aquila, Jerome, Grotius, Bunsen, Hitzig), for there are no indications that traders in Old Testament times frequented the holy courts for traffic; nor literal Canaanites by birth, such as Gibeonites and Nethinim, who were employed in the lower functions of the temple service (Drusius, V. Hoffman, Kliefoth), for these classes lost none of their former esteem after the restoration; but the term is used as an emblematic designation of godless members of the covenant nation. Canaan was cursed among Noah’s children, and his descendants were under the ban (Deuteronomy 7:2; Deuteronomy 20:16-17). To say that these should no more be found in the Lord’s house, is simply to say that all its frequenters should be righteous and holy. Professor Cowles says, “Canaanite was the common Hebrew word for trafficker, merchant,—a business in bad repute among the Hebrews because so much associated with fraud and deceit. See Hosea 12:7-8.” I am quite unwilling to believe that the voice of inspiration put such a stigma upon a necessary and honorable occupation as this explanation implies. Besides, to say that the love of filthy lucre shall no more pollute the sanctuary, is far less than to say that no form of sin of whatever kind shall be found there. Further, such a view is excluded by the obvious analogy between these two closing verses of Zechariah and the statements in the concluding passages of the Apocalypse, where it is plain that universal holiness is promised as the characteristic feature of the kingdom of God in its final consummation.
THEOLOGICAL AND MORAL.
1. As this chapter is by most sound interpreters admitted to be either as yet wholly unfulfilled, or else an ideal sketch of the experiences of centuries extending from the beginning to the end of the Christian dispensation, there is, of course, considerable vagueness in the view taken of its details. This, however, is no valid objection to its place in the canon. Prophecy was never intended to be simply history written in advance. Had it been such, its own ends would have been defeated. Its obscurity prior to fulfillment is a sure evidence of its genuineness. But the broad outlines which defy literal explanation, yet serve to indicate great principles, to disclose the springs of God’s moral government, and to furnish useful hints for the guidance of his people, warning them against undue expectations and yet furnishing a sure basis for a reasonable and holy hope. Pictures of siege, assault, capture, plunder, and exile, as sure to occur in the future, forbid the least intelligent reader from forgetting that he belongs to the Church Militant, or from expecting a calm, steady, peaceful, equable advance of Zion to its destined prevalence over the earth. On the contrary, they show that trials of faith and patience must be encountered; that at times the whole outlook will be dark and discouraging; that Satan, like his angels of old in the case of the demoniacs, will fearfully convulse and rend the body from which he is doomed to be driven out. Such suggestions, therefore, however vaguely they may be expressed, furnish to believers real support in the season when the enemies of the truth seem to triumph, by reminding them that just this entered into God’s providential purpose. On the other hand, the same prophecy shows the silver lining of the cloud, shows that the check of the true cause is only temporary. The brilliant representations of future and final triumph console and uphold in the greatest “fight of afflictions.” And believers fall back upon the assurance of the Psalmist, “When the wicked spring as the grass and all the workers of iniquity do flourish, it is that they shall be destroyed forever” (92:7).
2. At evening time there shall be light. This has come to be a watchword of the Church. The corresponding proverb of the world, “the darkest hour is just before day,” has been questioned, both in its literal and its figurative aspects, and perhaps justly. But there is no question of the truth of Zechariah’s assertion. It is God’s way to test the J faith and patience of his people, to surround them with difficulties, to hedge up their way on every hand until they see and feel their own helplessness and dependence, and then He interposes in a signal manner. In the great trial of Abraham, when called to offer Isaac for a burnt-offering, the preparations had reached the last point, and the patriarch’s arm was uplifted to strike the fatal blow, when the voice from heaven stayed his hand, and the believer gratefully exclaimed, “Jehovah Jireh=The Lord will provide.” The experience of Abraham’s descendants in Egypt led to the proverbial saying which the Rabbins have preserved for us “When the straw fails, then comes Moses,” or as the modern phrase is, “Man’s extremity is God’s opportunity.” When Lazarus was sick our Lord was informed of the fact in ample time to proceed to his bedside and arrest the disease, as He had often done in other cases, but He deliberately remained away on the other side of Jordan, and came to Bethany only when the grave had held its victim for days. This was not through coldness or carelessness, but, as He said, for the glory of God (John 11:4; John 11:40), in order that a miracle so transcendent might confirm the faith of his disciples and intensify yet more the love and joy of the sisters in their brother whom they received back from the tomb. And so in all cases, whether of individuals or communities, faith is sustained by the assurance that a day of clouds and gloom cannot last forever, that a change will occur just so soon as the purposes of the visitation are accomplished, and that it will come just when, according to the natural course of things, a starless night is about to set in. Earnest prayer was made by the Church for the imprisoned Peter (Acts 12:5), but it was not until the very night before the day appointed for his execution that the angel of the Lord delivered him from his guards and fetters.
3. Water is a natural image of spiritual blessings, and especially of the chiefest of them all,—the influences of the Holy Spirit. The Psalmist speaks of a river whose streams make glad the city of God (46:4); Joel declares a fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord and shall water the valley of Shittim (3:18); Isaiah promises, “I will pour floods upon the dry ground: I will pour my Spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring” (44:3); but Ezekiel (47:1–12) furnishes a most striking parallel to Zechariah’s prediction. He saw water issuing from under the sanctuary, an ever widening, deepening stream, which swept through the desert bearing fertility in its course, until it reached the Sea of Sodom, the standing symbol of desolation and death, and healed its stagnant waters, filling them with animal life and covering its banks with trees whose fruit was food and their leaves medicine. Our prophet sees living streams which issue in different directions from Jerusalem, and reach to either sea, east and west; and as they flow without intermission, winter and summer, they make the land a terrestrial Paradise with undying verdure and perpetual abundance. No one of these figurative descriptions, however large and varied, is overwrought or extravagant. They rather fall short of the reality. The blessed Spirit is the author of all the holiness in the world. He indeed uses means. The prophecies put Him in close connection with Jerusalem and the Temple. But the means depend upon Him, just as the best appointed ship makes no progress without a breeze. The Apostles were not allowed to engage in their work until the Spirit was poured out from on high, but when the effusion was felt, the feeblest of them spake as with a tongue of fire. The grand feature of the latter day is copious and continuous effusions of such grace,—no longer intermittent, or scanty, or of small extent, but radiating in all directions at once, permanently filling every channel, and limited only by the wants of the race. Wherever these living streams reach, the barren soil of nature is fertilized and the dead live again. Quickly but surely, with the same noiseless energy with which the great providential forces work, these spiritual agencies perform their office of reconstructing human society and changing the face of the world.
4. The consequence of such streams of blessing is a degree of consecration never seen before. The form in which the universal prevalence of holiness is expressed, is noteworthy. Men are not to become monks or anchorites, the ordinary conditions of human life are not to be reversed; but on the contrary the infusion of grace will be so large and general that every rank and class will feel it, and its effects will be seen in all the relations of life, purifying and elevating without upturning or destroying. In business, in recreation, in politics, in art, in literature, in social life, in the domestic circle, there will be a distinct and cordial recognition of the claims of God and of the supremacy of his law. There will be no divorce anywhere between religion and morality, no demand that any department of human activity shall be deemed beyond the domain of conscience. When even the bells on the horses bear the same sacred inscription which once flashed from the diadem of the High Priest, nothing can be found too small or too familiar to be consecrated to the Lord. The religious spirit will prevail everywhere, securing justice, truth, kindness, and courtesy among men; doing away with wars, contentions, jealousies, and competitions; hallowing trades and handicrafts; softening the inevitable contrasts of ranks, gifts, and conditions; binding men to one another by their devotion to a common master in heaven; and thus introducing the true city of God on earth for which all saints long with an ever increasing desire. The idea of such a commonwealth originated in the Scriptures, and it can be realized only in the way they point out. All schemes of political, social, or even moral reform, apart from the principles of the Word, are the merest chimeras. They are impossible of accomplishment, and if accomplished, would disappoint their projectors. True religion, restoring the Lord to his rightful place in human thought and action, alone furnishes the sanction, the authority, and the power by which men become what they ought to be to themselves, to each other, and to the community. The last Canaanite will perish from the earth, and the people shall be all righteous, when the earth is filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord, as the waters cover the sea.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL.
Bradley: Zechariah 14:6-7. I. Mixed condition of the righteous in this world; in respect to their knowledge, their outward circumstances, their inward comforts, their wavering holiness. II. God’s wisdom in allowing it; to subdue their corruptions, to exercise their graces, to bring them to dependence on Himself. III. Our consolation under it; God notices it, the mixed events work together for good, the scene is short. IV. The happy termination of all; in a state of unmingled good, in an unexpected hour. Finally, Are we the people concerned in it?
Hengstenberg: Zechariah 14:11. Curse. All the dreadful things that can possibly be thought of are included in this one Word.
Calvin: Zechariah 14:12. The habitation of the godly is secure, not because they dread no attacks of foes, but because they firmly believe that they will be preserved by a power from above, even though the devil excites the peoples on all sides to contrive their ruin.
Payson: Zechariah 14:20-21. I. All common duties will be performed as seriously as solemn worship. II. Every building will be a house of God. III. Every day will be like a Sabbath. IV. Every meal will be what the Lord’s Supper is now. V. Yet the distinctions which now prevail will be ob served. VI. There will be no insincere worshippers. Infer (1.) How wretchedly we now live. (2.) See whether we have any religion or not. (3.) Learn what pursuits and pleasures are pleasing to God.
Zechariah 14:1; Zechariah 14:1.—לַןהוָֹה is to be connected with ווֹם=Jehovah’s day. See Exeg. and Crit.
Zechariah 14:2; Zechariah 14:2.—הַבָּתִּים. The Munach stands here in place of Metheg, to show that the rowel is long.
Zechariah 14:2; Zechariah 14:2.—תִּשָּׁגַלנָה. The Keri substitutes for this word, here as elsewhere (Deuteronomy 28:30, etc), the word שָׁכַב—a very needless euphemism.
Ver 3.—כְּיוֹם. The preposition is to be supplied from the next clause.
Zechariah 14:4; Zechariah 14:4.—גֵיא is not a cas. construc, of גַיְא (Ewald, Green), but an absolute form of the same noun (Fürst).
Zechariah 14:5; Zechariah 14:5.—In place of נַסְתֶּם several MSS. read נִכְתַּם which is the reading followed by LXX, Aq., Sym., Targ., Arab., the first of which renders ἐμφραχθήσεται, shall be stopped up. This is adopted by Flügge, Dathe, Blayney, and Boothroyd; but the sense is so inept that some modern critics refuse even to notice it,
Zechariah 14:5; Zechariah 14:5.—הָרַי is not a simple plural, but has the suffix of the first person.
Zechariah 14:5; Zechariah 14:5.—Instead of עִמָּךְ many MSS. and all the old versions read עִמּוֹ, but the former is to be preferred, both as the more difficult reading and as more vivid and expressive.
Zechariah 14:6; Zechariah 14:6.—Henderson claims a preponderance of MSS. authority for the Keri וְקִמָּ׳ over the Kethib יִכְפָ׳, and the ancient versions all favor it, yet exegetical necessity compels one to adopt the latter. So Hengstenberg, Hoffmann, Kliefoth, Köhler, Keil, Pressel, Dr. Van Dyck in new Arab. Bible, Fürst in his new German Version, etc.
Zechariah 14:8; Zechariah 14:8.—הַקַּדְמוֹנִי. The E. V. “former” is misleading. The Genevan gives “east” which is correct. The Hebrews determined the points of the compass by looking to the east, and so what was before them was the east, and what was אתר = behind, was west.
Zechariah 14:9; Zechariah 14:9.—Henderson objects to the rendering “Jehovah shall be one,” that it makes “the passage teach either that Jehovah was not one before, or that he will no longer be three or triune;” and he renders “Jehovah alone shall be.” But his scruples are idle. What is meant is the universal recognition of the divine unity and self-existence, and this is obtained just as well by the ordinary rendering as by the one he suggests (cf. Deuteronomy 6:4).
Zechariah 14:10; Zechariah 14:10—This is the only place where the form רָאַם occurs; in all other cases רוּם is used. True, here Furst takes רָאַמָה for a proper noun, and renders, “like the plain of Jordan shall Jerusalem and Ramah be fruitful and inhabited” (Lex. sub. voc), but this wholly disregards the accents, and furnishes no equivalent, since the mention of such an obscure place would be unmeaning. He himself in his new German Version returns to the old interpretation.
Zechariah 14:11; Zechariah 14:11.—הֶרֶם. The E. V. “utter destruction,” hardly expresses the force of this word, which means such destruction caused by a divine decree=curse (Malachi 4:6).
Zechariah 14:11; Zechariah 14:11.—יָשׁ׳ בֶטַת. Here, the strict rendering sit secure, is more vivid than the E. V., safely inhabited.
Zechariah 14:12; Zechariah 14:12.—עַמִּים=peoples, cf. on 8:22.
Zechariah 14:12; Zechariah 14:12.—His flesh, etc. The suffixes are all singular except in the case of the last noun, their mouth. Of course the meaning is “each one’s” flesh, etc.
Zechariah 14:13; Zechariah 14:13.—“Tumult” does not express the full sense of מהוּמה=a panic terror or confusion (1 Samuel 14:20).
Zechariah 14:14; Zechariah 14:14.—בִיר׳. The text of the E. V. is right, and the marginal reading against to be rejected. See Exeg. and Crit.
Zechariah 14:15; Zechariah 14:15.—כֵן here precedes its correlative כְ; elsewhere the order is just the reverse.
Zechariah 14:16; Zechariah 14:16.—The construction is anacolouthic; “the subject standing absolutely at the beginning, while the predicate is appended with vav conver. וְֹעָלוּ.
Zechariah 14:16; Zechariah 14:16.—מִדּי is literally “from the sufficiency of year to year,” but expresses nothing more than the simple preposition (cf. Isaiah 60:22).
Zechariah 14:17; Zechariah 14:17.— The “all” supplied by the E. V. is quite superfluous.
Zechariah 14:18; Zechariah 14:18.—וְלֹא עֲלֵיהֶם introduces the apodosis, and הַגֶּשֶׁם is to be supplied from the preceding verse.
Zechariah 14:19; Zechariah 14:19.—חַטַּאת (LXX.: ἁμαρτιά, Vulg.: peccatum) should surely be rendered sin, however it may be explained. Dr. Van Dyck, in the new Arabic Bible, conforms to the E. V., as does Fürst in his German Version, The Dutch Bible has, de zonde; Luther, Sunde.
Zechariah 14:20; Zechariah 14:20.—מְצִלּוֹת. LXX.: χαλίνον; Vulg., frœnum; Luther, Rüstung; but the meaning in E. V., bells, is now established. Dr. Riggs gives a wordy paraphrase, tinkling bridle ornaments.
Zechariah 14:21; Zechariah 14:21.—כְנַעֲנִי. LXX. transfer the word. Vulg. translates,—mercator; Fürst Kramer.
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Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Zechariah 14". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Week after Epiphany