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Zechariah: Chapter 1

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1In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo, saying: 2The LORD was very angry with your ancestors. 3Therefore say to them, Thus says the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. 4Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the former prophets proclaimed, “Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.” But they did not hear or heed me, says the LORD. 5Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not overtake your ancestors? So they repented and said, “The LORD of hosts has dealt with us according to our ways and deeds, just as he planned to do.”

7On the twenty‐fourth day of the eleventh month, the month of Shebat, in the second year of Darius, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo; and Zechariah a Cn: Heb sea, and those who cause the wicked to stumble said, 8In the night I saw a man riding on a red horse! He was standing among the myrtle trees in the glen; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9Then I said, “What are these, my lord?” The angel who talked with me said to me, “I will show you what they are.” 10So the man who was standing among the myrtle trees answered, “They are those whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.” 11Then they spoke to the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have patrolled the earth, and lo, the whole earth remains at peace.” 12Then the angel of the LORD said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which you have been angry these seventy years?” 13Then the LORD replied with gracious and comforting words to the angel who talked with me. 14So the angel who talked with me said to me, Proclaim this message: Thus says the LORD of hosts; I am very jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15And I am extremely angry with the nations that are at ease; for while I was only a little angry, they made the disaster worse. 16Therefore, thus says the LORD, I have returned to Jerusalem with compassion; my house shall be built in it, says the LORD of hosts, and the measuring line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem. 17Proclaim further: Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.

18 a Heb who thicken And I looked up and saw four horns. 19I asked the angel who talked with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” 20Then the LORD showed me four blacksmiths. 21And I asked, “What are they coming to do?” He answered, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no head could be raised; but these have come to terrify them, to strike down the horns of the nations that lifted up their horns against the land of Judah to scatter its people.” b Cn Compare Gk Syr: Heb before a decree is born; like chaff a day has passed away

Notes:

a Cn: Heb sea, and those who cause the wicked to stumble

c Heb who thicken

a Cn Compare Gk Syr: Heb before a decree is born; like chaff a day has passed away

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–8.23 : Visions and oracles about the restoration of Jerusalem.

This first major section of the book contains three parts, each introduced by a date formula ( 1.1; 1.7; 7.1 ).

1.1–6 : Introduction: a call to repentance.

1 :

Eighth monthsecond year, mid‐October to mid‐November 520 BCE. Darius I reigned over the Persian Empire, which extended “from India to Ethiopia” (Esth 8.9 ), from 522 to 486. Zechariah means “the LORD has remembered.” The phrase son of Berechiah son of Iddo is open to interpretation. Iddo could be the prophet's grandfather, although elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible Iddo alone is listed as Zechariah's father (Ezra 5.1; 6.14; Neh 12.16 ). There were several Zechariahs in the Bible (in this regard, note “Zechariah son of Jeberechiah” in Isa 8.2 ), and this may have led to scribal confusion (compare Mt 23.35 with 2 Chr 24.20–22 ).

3 :

Cf. Mal 3.7 .

4 :

The former prophets proclaimed, e.g., Jer 18.11; 25.5; Ezek 33.11 .

6 :

Overtake, Deut 28.45 . So they repented and said, see Lam 1.18; 3.40–42; 5.7 . But see Zech 7.11 .

1.6–6.15 : The eight visions of Zechariah.

Note the pattern: (a) vision, (b) question about its meaning, (c) angelic interpretation.

1.7–17 : The first vision: divine horsemen patrol the earth.

7 :

Mid‐January to mid‐February 519.

8 :

The glen, a deep hollow; no ordinary place.

9 :

My lord, a term of respect for the angel.

11 :

Patrolled the earth, see also Job 1.6–7; 2.2 . The whole earth remains at peace, i.e., the nations have not yet received their judgment (cf. 1.15; Hag 2.6 ).

12 :

Seventy years, the length of time since the destruction of Jerusalem was slightly less ( 586–519 ), but seventy years was a conventional term of punishment (Isa 23.15–17; Jer 25.11–12; 29.10 ).

13 :

Gracious and comforting words, e.g., Isa 40.1–2; Jer 29.10; 33.14 .

16 :

The measuring line, the first signs of new construction; see 2.1–5; Jer 31.38–39 .

17 :

Compare with 8.3; Isa 44.26; contrast with 2 Kings 23.27 .

1.18–21 : The second vision: four horns and four smiths.

The four horns symbolize powerful nations (cf. Dan 2.36–40; 7.19–27 ) which the blacksmiths (the LORD's agents of destruction as in Isa 54.16; Ezek 21.31 ) will smash.

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