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Zechariah: Chapter 1

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1In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, this word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo: a A clause like “Say to the people” is here understood; cf. 7.5 . 2The LORD was very angry with your fathers. 3Say to them further:

Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Turn back to me—says the LORD of Hosts—and I will turn back to you—said the LORD of Hosts. 4Do not be like your fathers! For when the earlier prophets called to them, “Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Come, turn back from your evil ways and your evil deeds, they did not obey or give heed to Me—declares the LORD. 5Where are your fathers now? And did the prophetslive forever? 6But the warnings and the decrees with which I charged My servants the prophets overtook your fathers—did they not?—and in the end they had to admit, ‘The LORD has dealt with us according to our ways and our deeds, just as He purposed.’”

7On the twenty‐fourth day of the eleventh month of the second year of Darius—the month of Shebat—this word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo:

8In the night, I had a vision. I saw a man, mounted on a bay horse, standing a‐ Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. among the myrtles ‐a Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. in the Deep, and behind him were bay, b Septuagint adds “dappled”; cf. 6.3 . sorrel, c Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Emendation yields “black”; cf. 6.2 . and white horses. 9I asked, “What are those, my lord?” And the angel who talked with me answered, “I will let you know what they are.” 10Then the man who was standing a‐ Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. among the myrtles ‐a Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. spoke up and said, “These were sent out by the LORD to roam the earth.”

11And in fact, they reported to the angel of the LORD who was standing a‐ Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. among the myrtles, ‐a Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance. “We have roamed the earth, and have found all the earth dwelling in tranquility.” d Upheavals at the start of Darius' reign had encouraged hopes of an early restoration of the Davidic dynasty (cf. Hag. 2.21 ff.). Now these hopes were dashed. 12Thereupon the angel of the LORD exclaimed, “O LORD of Hosts! How long will You withhold pardon from Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, which You placed under a curse seventy years ago?”

13The LORD replied with kind, comforting words to the angel who talked with me.

14Then the angel who talked with me said to me: “Proclaim! Thus said the LORD of Hosts: I am very jealous for Jerusalem—for Zion—15and I am very angry with those nations that are at ease; for I was only angry a little, but they overdid the punishment. 16Assuredly, thus said the LORD: I graciously return to Jerusalem. My House shall be built in her—declares the LORD of Hosts—the measuring line is being applied to Jerusalem. 17Proclaim further: Thus said the LORD of Hosts: My towns shall yet overflow with bounty. For the LORD will again comfort Zion; He will choose Jerusalem again.”

Notes:

a A clause like “Say to the people” is here understood; cf. 7.5 .

a‐a Septuagint reads “between the mountains”; cf. 6.1 . In 6.1 ff. four teams of horses leave the LORD's abode to roam the four quarters of the earth; in 1.8 ff. they are about to reenter His abode after such a reconnaissance.

b Septuagint adds “dappled”; cf. 6.3 .

c Meaning of Heb. uncertain. Emendation yields “black”; cf. 6.2 .

d Upheavals at the start of Darius' reign had encouraged hopes of an early restoration of the Davidic dynasty (cf. Hag. 2.21 ff.). Now these hopes were dashed.

Text Commentary view alone

1.1–6 :

Superscription, introduction, and call to repentance. The text assumes that the words of the earlier prophets are available and are being studied.

1 :

The month is Marḥeshvan, in fall 520 BCE. This divine communication is set slightly later than those reported in Hag. 1.1, 15; 2.1 , but slightly earlier than those in Hag. 2.10, 20 . This temporal note suggests to the readers of the book that they are supposed to read 1.2–6 in the light of the texts in Haggai and vice versa.

6 :

He purposed may also be understood as “He considered [doing],” thereby conveying a conditional element from the outset in God's plans: If the (monarchic period) Israelites had heard their prophets, the punishment would not have come.

1.7–6.15 :

Reports of eight visions. The visions are described in graphic, and highly symbolic, detail, as are most apocalyptic visions. The “tour” by an angelic being is also typical of apocalypse, as is the use of specific numbers. Unlike most later apocalyptic visions, however, the mediating angel is here anonymous.

1.7–17 :

The first vision: the horsemen.

7 :

Within the world of the present book, this date seems to apply to 1.7–6.15 , i.e., the entire series of eight visions. The date is just two months after the divine communications in Hag. 2.10, 20 . Given the closeness of the dates, and the similarity of the basic themes and of the formula itself, it seems that the readers of the book are supposed to read these two texts as informing each other; see also Ezra 5.1; 6.14 .

9 :

The term angel here and elsewhere in the book (e.g., vv. 11, 12, 4.1, 5.10 ) may be translated as “messenger,” in the sense of a divine messenger. Is this messenger the same man mentioned in these verses, as Ibn Ezra and others think? Or, are these two beings, one a “man” and the other a “messenger”? The text itself leaves the question open.

11 :

Tranquility carries here a negative connotation, because it is associated with a status quo in which Judah and Jerusalem have not been restored. The implicit connotation is that their (full) restoration necessitates much turmoil and probably judgment against the nations (see v. 15 and cf. ch 14 ). Some scholars associate this tranquility with the imperial peace achieved by Darius I in his second year, though the point is not made in the text. Darius plays no active role whatsoever in the book of Zechariah.

12 :

Seventy years is a clear reference to Jer. 25.11 (cf. 29.10 ), another clear indication that prophetic works were being studied at this period. That text also plays a crucial role in Dan. ch 9 .

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