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6. Zechariah - Part 4 Oracle Concerning Israel (12:1-14:21)

Repentance of Judah

The final great oracle of Zechariah, embracing all of chapters 12-14, stands in sharp contrast with what has immediately preceded in chapter 11. There the prophet has reviewed the dismal history of the chosen nation Israel throughout monarchial times, emphasizing over and over again the failure of her kings, the shepherds, to discharge their responsibilities as undershepherds of YHWH Himself. Even more tragic is that wicked and foolish leadership had not come to an end with the Exile. It will continue on into Judah’s future, finally reaching its climax in an evil shepherd par excellence who will violently persecute and destroy the flock only to be incapacitated himself by the wrathful intervention of YHWH.

The oracle of chapters 12-14, on the other hand, picks up the eschatological themes of chapters 9-10.690 The triumph of Jerusalem over her foes in 12:1-9 has a counterpart in 9:11-17. The rejection of the false prophets and their idolatrous ways in 13:1-6 is an echo of the same thing in 10:1-3. YHWH as the good shepherd who gathers His remnant flock in 13:7-9 finds precedent in 10:4-7. The triumphant advent and conquest of YHWH in 14:1-8 is the subject of 9:1-8 as well. The manifestation of YHWH as king in 14:9-11 is addressed in 9:9-10. Finally, the restoration of the people of YHWH in the manner of a second exodus and their dominion with YHWH over all creation is the theme of both 14:12-21 and 10:8-12. The major difference between the two oracles (chap. 11 excepted) is that 12-14 expands greatly on the themes of 9-10 and introduces a cosmic, universalistic motif that is not as clearly perceived in the latter.691 Moreover, 12-14 focuses on the messianic aspect of the eschatological redemption, going so far as to identify YHWH Himself as the messianic figure (12:10-14; 13:7-9). Nothing in 9-10, with the possible exception of 9:9-10, comes close to this idea.

Few writings of the OT are so consistently and persistently rooted in the eschaton as this. That classic eschatological formula “in that day” or the like occurs 19 times in just 45 verses, or once in every 2 1/2 verses. All the hallmarks of eschatological language, style, and motif are here and will be pointed out in the course of the exposition. No more fitting conclusion could be found for the writings of a prophet who lived and ministered among the tiny, disappointed, frustrated, and pessimistic community of postexilic Judah. With his friend Haggai he is saying, in effect, that the small beginnings of restoration they see in the undertaking of the Zerubbabel temple will be eclipsed beyond comprehension by the glory that someday will fill that place (Hag. 2:7) and, indeed, the whole earth (Zech. 14:9).

    A. Security of God’s People (12:1-9)


1The oracle of the Word of YHWH concerning Israel: Says YHWH, He who stretches out the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth, who forms the spirit of man within him, 2 “I am about to make Jerusalem a cup that causes reeling to all the surrounding nations; indeed, Judah *will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged. 3Also in that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy burden for all the nations, and all who carry it will be heavily scarred; yet all the peoples of the earth will be gathered against it. 4In that day,” says YHWH, “I will strike every horse with confusion and its rider with madness. I will open My eyes on behalf of the house of Judah, but I will strike every horse of the nations with blindness. 5Then the leaders of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a *strength to *me in YHWH of hosts, their God. 6In that day I will make the leaders of Judah like a firepot among sticks and a burning torch among sheaves, and they will devour all the surrounding nations right and left. Then (the people of) Jerusalem will settle once more in their place, Jerusalem. 7YHWH also will deliver the tents of Judah first, so that the splendor of the house of David and that of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not exceed that of Judah. 8In that day YHWH Himself will defend the *inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that in that day the stumbler among them will be like David and the house of David (will be) like God, like the Angel of YHWH before them. 9Thus it will be in that day that I will seek to destroy all the peoples that come against Jerusalem.”

Exegesis and Exposition

The oracle is introduced by the technical term aC*m^ (massa) as was the previous one (9:1). But this oracle concerns Israel primarily, in contrast to chapters 9-11, which mainly are concerned with the other nations. It is, of course, an oversimplification to say that the headings of the respective oracles denote their exclusive content, for both deal with the nations and Israel. However, the emphasis of each is clearly suggested by their opening statements.

One of the clues that the thrust of the oracle is eschatological is the fact that it concerns “Israel” as opposed to Judah. Israel, from Zechariah’s standpoint, was a thing of the past, for the northern tribes had gone into exile two centuries before his time, never to return as an entity. But he, as well as other prophets, understand a day when all the exiled and scattered people of YHWH will be regathered and become Israel once again (9:1; 12:1; cf. Jer. 13:11; 31:10-12, 31; Ezek. 40-48 [passim]; Joel 2:27; 3:2; Zeph. 3:14-15; Mal. 1:5). This initial reference to Israel thus sets an eschatological tone for the entire oracle.692

That tone is reinforced by the set of epithets in participial form that describe YHWH—they are of a cosmic, creative nature. He is the “one who stretches out” (hf#n{, noteh) the heavens, the “one who lays the foundations” (ds@Y{, yosed) of the earth, and the “one who forms” (rx@Y{, yoser) the spirit of man (v. 1). Isaiah is particularly rich in such use of divine self-predication.693 In a veiled polemic against Babylonian deities, YHWH refers to Himself as the creator who “stretched out” the heavens (42:5; cf. 40:22). Then, in defense of His role as redeemer, He again calls Himself “the stretcher forth” (hf#n), noteh) of the heavens (44:24), using in both places the same verb as Zechariah’s. It is a word at home in the field of architecture and building, referring either to the measuring line (Isa. 34:11; Lam. 2:8) or to the erection of a tent (Jer. 10:12).

Isaiah describes YHWH also as the “founder” (ds@Y{, yosed) of the earth (51:13), exactly as Zechariah does. This creation language is common in contexts where YHWH’s skill and power are being noted and/or praised (Job 38:4; Pss. 24:2; 104:5). The stretching out of the heavens speaks of superstructure, whereas the laying of foundations obviously speaks of the basis upon which things rest. It is a merismus, describing the totality of YHWH’s creation.

As for YHWH’s being the “former” of man’s spirit, Isaiah once more provides parallels. The verb (rx^y` [yasar], “form”) is indigenous to craftsmen who work in clay and other malleable materials. As such a craftsman, YHWH refers to Himself as the “former” of Israel (43:1; cf. vv. 7, 21) and of the servant (49:5). He also formed the earth (45:18), thus again attesting to His power as Creator. Though Zechariah uniquely describes YHWH as the former of man’s spirit, the psalmist is close when he speaks of YHWH as the one who forms the hearts of people (Ps. 33:15).

The theological purpose for these epithets in Zechariah, as well as in Isaiah 40-55, is to underline the creative and redemptive role of YHWH.694 He redeems because He is the omnipotent creator, and He creates new things in order to redeem. Here at the brink of a new age it is important to know that the same God who brought everything into existence in the first place is well able to usher in the new creation of a restored people in a renewed and universal kingdom.

That renewal will take place through and find expression in YHWH’s chosen people Judah, and in that order. YHWH will use them as an instrument by which He does battle with the nations and brings them under His dominion. First, He says, he will make Jerusalem a “cup of reeling,” that is, a cup, which, when drunk by the nations, will cause them to stagger and stumble as a drunken man (v. 2).695 The same metaphor (with a different word for “cup”) occurs in Isa. 51:17, 22. There it is explained as a manifestation of divine wrath. Jeremiah is commanded to serve the nations a “cup of the wine of wrath” that will cause them to “reel to and fro and be mad” because of the sword YHWH will send upon them (Jer. 25:15-16).

That is the effect of the cup in Zechariah’s oracle. All the surrounding nations will “drink” of Jerusalem, that is, will partake of her in hostility and conquest, but they will end up inebriated. Judah, too, will cause the same reaction by extension. This seems to be the best understanding of the second half of v. 2 in light of the parallel construction.696 The participial form of the verb <yc! (sm, “set/make”) suggests that what YHWH is going to do is imminent: “I am about to make Jerusalem a cup.” Thus the ultimate act of YHWH in the eschaton has its roots and initial stages in the present, in history.

Changing the metaphor, YHWH says that “in that day” he will make Jerusalem “a stone of a burden” or a very heavy, rough burden. Here the chosen people are likened to pillage being carried off by the victors. But they will be heavier than the looters bargained for, so heavy and jagged that they will scrape and lacerate the shoulders of those who try to spirit them away (v. 3). This is similar to Ezekiel’s description of the armies of Nebuchadnezzar that had become “bald of head and worn of shoulder” in their unsuccessful siege of Tyre (Ezek. 29:18). This appears to refer to their carrying of material for siege-works, but the imagery is the same.697 In spite of these grievous results, all the nations will nonetheless be gathered about Jerusalem with evil intent.

Drunken and scarred already, the nations come in for further judgment. Their horses and their cavalrymen will become confused. This latter expression (/ouG`v! [sigga`on], “madness”) occurs in 2 Kings 9:11 to refer to the prophet whom Elisha had sent to Jehu to inform him that he was to be king. The young man had run so hard and long that he was out of breath and appeared to be beside himself. In other words, he acted like a madman. The pagan ecstatic prophets, having worked themselves up into a frenzy, also were considered mad (Jer. 29:26; Hos. 9:7).698 To add to their incapacitation YHWH will blind the horses of the enemy. He, however, will open His own eyes on behalf of the house of Judah.

When all this comes to pass, the leaders of Judah will realize that the people of Jerusalem have been their greatest strength, for in their being used by YHWH of hosts as a discomfit to their enemies these people have guaranteed that the nation also would survive (v. 5).699 This is in sharp contrast to the attitude of the evil kings of Israel in the past who had no compassion for the people (11:5) and that foolish shepherd to come who neither oversees, seeks out, or heals those committed to him (11:16).

The rulers, thus encouraged, will themselves be a source of divine judgment on the nations (v. 6). YHWH compares them to a “firepot among sticks” and a “burning torch among sheaves.” This is an unusual use of this word for pot (roYK!, kyyor). Normally it designates a cooking vessel (1 Sam. 2:14) or a basin for water, such as the laver of the tabernacle (Ex. 30:18) or Temple (1 Kings 7:30).700 Here, in an ironic twist, the bowls for water will become receptacles of fiery coals that will burn up all the surrounding woods that threaten Israel. One must think of the poem introducing chap. 11, where the prophet refers to the leaders of the nations as trees and speaks of their destruction in terms of a fiery conflagration (11:1-3).

The nations on both left and right will be consumed. Because the inhabitants of Palestine oriented themselves to the east, the left side would be the north and the right side the south. These are the directions in which the chariot horses of Zechariah’s eighth vision rode in undertaking their conquest of the whole earth (6:6). Once this conquest has been achieved, the people of Jerusalem can once more settle down in their rightful place (12:6b). The repetition of “Jerusalem” in the last clause of v. 6 prompted certain LXX traditions to delete the second occurrence.701 Other scholars suggest <olv*B= (besalom), “in peace,” for <]l*v*^WryB! (brusalaim), “in Jerusalem.”702 This insensitivity to poetic device undercuts the impact that is intended. “Jerusalem shall again settle in its own place, Jerusalem.” There can be no doubt where Jerusalem belongs.

The eschatological favor will not be limited to Jerusalem, however. In fact, Jerusalem will not even enjoy pride of place among all of God’s people, for there will be even-handed distribution of God’s blessing. This is clear from His promise to begin the saving and restoring process with the “tents of Judah” first (v. 7). This is logically understandable in that Jerusalem’s security cannot be assured until all the surrounding territory is brought under YHWH’s protection. Theologically it is important to remember that the whole nation of David, the tribe of Judah, is included in the plan of ultimate redemption (cf. Jer. 30:18).703

“Tent,” of course, should not be taken literally here, for it is synonymous with a dwelling-place in general. But the habitations of the villagers outside Jerusalem must have suffered by comparison to the grander, more substantial abodes of the upper classes of the city. Hence, says YHWH, in that day of blessing to come He will deliver the outlying villages first so that their comparative inferiority to the splendor of the city, and particularly the splendor of the royal palace, might enjoy some compensation (v. 7b). “Splendor” (hr`a*p=T!, tipara) is a term not so much of aesthetic significance as of quality. The democratization of the eschatological kingdom will ensure that all its elements are of equal standing before YHWH.704

An even more remarkable comparison follows in v. 8. “In that day,” YHWH says, He will defend the residents of Jerusalem in such a powerful way that the weakest among them will be like David. This is a reference to David the warrior who, the maidens sang, had “slain his ten thousands” (1 Sam. 18:7). The weak here are literally the “stumblers” (lv*k=n], niksal) or “feeble ones.” Hannah in her prayer sang of these when she said, “The bows of heroes are broken, but the stumblers are girded with strength” (1 Sam. 2:4). Isaiah said with reference to the restoration of the exiles, “The young men will faint and tire and the youths will stumble indeed, but those who wait for YHWH will renew their strength” (40:30-31).

It is such weak ones that YHWH promises to make like mighty David. But in an even more startling hyperbole He says He will make the house (i.e., dynasty) of David like God. Then, as though this were an overstatement, He qualifies His comparison by saying that David’s house will resemble the Angel of YHWH,705 that manifestation of God who was before them, that is, who led the people of Israel in bygone days (cf. Ex. 14:19; 33:2; cf. 1 Sam. 29:9; 2 Sam. 14:17, 20; 19:27). The comparison to God (<yh!Oa^, elohm) is not, however, without precedent. When Moses was reluctant to return to Egypt to lead his people to freedom, YHWH said that He would make Aaron Moses’ mouth and that Moses would “be to him [Aaron] as God” (Ex. 4:16). Admittedly, the comparison is between functions and not ontologies, but the comparison is nonetheless striking.

(One must not, in any case, allow literary device such as hyperbole to determine one’s understanding of theological content in a passage such as this. All that is being done is the erection of an argument a posteriori to magnify YHWH’s glorious redemption of His people. The weak become strong and the strong become stronger, as powerful as God Himself if the syllogism requires it to be so.)

Granting this extravagant language and the truth it conveys, it is no wonder that YHWH rounds off this message about the security of God’s people as He does (v. 9). Once more employing the eschatological clich “in that day,” He summarizes His intentions by saying that in the ways just described in vv. 1-8 He will bring about the destruction of the people who come against Jerusalem. This done, He will effect a change within His people, one encouraged no doubt by the marvelous display of His grace and power just described.

Additional Notes

12:2 The difficult phrase <]l*v*Wry+-lu^ roxM*b^ hyh=y] hd*Why+-lu^ <g~w+, translated here “indeed, Judah will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged,” reads literally, “also against Judah will be in the siege against Jerusalem.” The LXX suggests: “and against Judah will be a siege” with “against Jerusalem” evidently to be taken as an appositional gloss. BHS proposes that the present text reflects a mixed reading consisting originally of “and also against Judah there will be a siege” and “and also Judah will be in a siege,” presumably against Jerusalem. The passage certainly is obtuse, but our rendering must reflect at least the thrust of the message. Its difficulty alone does not justify the arguments raised for the suggested alternatives.

12:5 The hapax hx*m=a^, “strength,” is rendered by the LXX as though from ax*m*, “to find,” thus, yl! ax*m=a#; “May I find the inhabitants of Jerusalem (to be) in YHWH of hosts, their God.” This kind of aural similarity could easily occur, but the meaning, if anything, is less clear than before.

The reference to the plural “leaders” seems to require that yl!, “to me,” be Wnl*, “to us,” or something else agreeable. The Tg. Neb. seeks to resolve the disharmony by presupposing yb@v=Yl= for yb@v=Y yl!. Thus one would translate not “to me the inhabitants of” but “to the inhabitants of.” The full line might be rendered, “(There will be) strength to the inhabitants of Jerusalem in YHWH of hosts, their God.” While this is ingenious and may be correct, the more difficult reading is likely to have remained unaltered from the original.

12:8 MT has singular bv@oy for expected yb@v=y) (LXX). There is no need for emendation, however, because the singular clearly is intended to be taken collectively, and the following singular participle lv*k=n] may also have influenced the use of the singular accusative substantive.

    B. Mourning of God’s People (12:10-14)


10 “I will pour out upon the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to Me, the one they have pierced through. They will lament for Him as one laments for his only son, and (there will be) a bitter cry for Him as the bitter cry for the first-born. 11In that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation of Hadad-Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo. 12The land will lament, each clan by itself—the clan of the house of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the house of Nathan by itself and their wives by themselves; 13the clan of the house of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; and the clan of the Shimeites by itself and their wives by themselves— 14all the clans that remain, each one by itself and their wives by themselves.”

Exegesis and Exposition

Once YHWH has accomplished His work of judgment on the nations through Judah and Jerusalem and has secured His people against further danger from them, He will begin to work a work of grace among the redeemed. Whether or not there is a cause-and-effect relationship here—the act of judgment elicits a response of mournful repentance—is not clear. There can be no doubt, however, that the one follows the other, nor can there be any question as to the ultimate means whereby the contrition of this passage comes to pass. It is YHWH who pours out a spirit of grace and supplications.706

It would be theologically premature to identify the spirit here with the third person of the Godhead. The term j^Wr (ruah) in this case should be understood as a persuasion or conviction from YHWH that prompts a course of action. But it is a spirit of grace and supplications. This means that there is divine motivation to repentance, that it is not something worked up by the people themselves. Grace (/j@, hen) essentially has to do with a favorable disposition or act in the OT.707 When God or even men show grace, they act without reciprocating for a previous gesture of kindness. As in the language of Christian theology it is an expression of unmerited favor.

The spirit of grace, then, is the spirit that YHWH pours out upon His people though they little deserve it. It is the spirit of conviction that what they have done in violation of YHWH’s will has been wrong, and it is the spirit of desire to seek forgiveness and restoration. Thus there is also the spirit of supplications (<yn]Wnj&T^, tahanunm). This Hebrew word, cognate to /j@, (hen, “grace”) conveys the idea of seeking for favor and so is the other side of the coin of grace.708 In short, YHWH has extended His grace to enable His people to seek it in the first place. Without that spirit having moved them so, they would never have sought the face of YHWH in repentance.

Grace, however, is an abstraction. There must be some occasion in or from which it takes shape, some act or object that produces an awareness of one’s need for the divine favor. This, YHWH says, comes about in the eschaton when His people, who have rejected Him for the most part through the aeons of history, look on Him, the one they have pierced (v. 10b). This is an extremely difficult text within the confines of its OT setting, not least because of differing text traditions. It is important that the text first be established; then its meaning can be considered.

In this disputed section the majority of the Hebrew MSS read
 ta@ yl^a@ WfyB!h!w+ (wehibbtu elay et aser-daqaru), “they will look to Me, the one they have pierced through.” A few, however, read rv#a& ta@ yl@a^ (eley et aser), “to the one whom,” etc., employing the poetic form of the preposition la#.709 Other Hebrew MSS, however, reflect a vorlage that requires a rendering, “they will look on Me in place of him whom they pierced.”710 The end result is that it is not YHWH who is pierced but someone else. Clearly the notion of YHWH being subjected to such a highly anthropomorphic conception was more than some devout scribes could countenance. The Hebrew evidence overwhelmingly favors the traditional reading of the MT.

There is no textual reason, then, for rejecting the reading, “they will look to Me, the one they have pierced through.” The difficulty lies, therefore, in the hermeneutical and theological aspects of the question. As to the former, the passage clearly teaches that YHWH (the speaker throughout in the absence of clues to the contrary), having poured out the spirit of grace leading to the people’s supplications, will be seen by them as having been pierced by them. This will cause the people to break out in lament for Him, the one over whom they will grieve as they would over the death of a first-born son.

It is immediately apparent that the shift in pronoun from “they will look to Me” to “they will lament for him” is at the crux of the matter. If YHWH has been pierced through, who is the “him” who is being lamented? Or, to put it another way, why should the lament not be for YHWH, the one who has been pierced through? It is questions like these, of course, that gave rise to the textual options adduced above.

The most satisfying resolution, it seems, is to admit of a change in pronoun as a grammatical, stylistic feature without a change of the subject. That is, it is YHWH throughout who is describing the situation, and it is He who is the subject at every point. It is He who has been pierced and He whom His people, having come to their senses as to what they have done, mourn in repentance. From YHWH’s viewpoint it is “Me” that is the focus; from the standpoint of the people it is “Him.” Such a transition from one person to another is not at all uncommon in Hebrew composition, especially in poetic and prophetic language (GKC 144p).

The theological question is even more profound, particularly in a strict OT confinement.711 At the outset it must be affirmed that the OT witness knows nothing of a “mortal God,” one who can be fatally wounded as in this passage. Even at its most anthropomorphic extreme there is nothing approaching what occurs here in a literal reading of the text. The great fourth servant song of Isaiah 52:13-53:12 is no exception, for the servant there, in terms of the OT understanding alone, is totally distinct from God.

This leads one to conclude that the piercing here in Zechariah 12:10 is figurative or substitutionary. The first of these will be considered and then the other. First, YHWH has been pierced by His people in the sense that they have wounded His holiness and violated His righteousness.712 The verb “to pierce” (rq^D*, daqar) occurs only 11 times in the OT, twice in Zechariah. Besides here in 12:10 it appears in the very next pericope, in 13:3. A comparison of the two passages is most striking and enlightening. The main thesis of 13:1-6 is that idolatry and false prophecy will be removed from the land in the day of YHWH. If a false prophet arises and continues his deceitful ways, his father and mother will “pierce him through” (daqar) in accordance with the law of Moses at this point (Deut. 13:6-11).

The use of this uncommon verb (daqar) in both passages, coupled with the idea of the parents of the false prophet putting him to death, on the one hand, and the “death” of YHWH who will be mourned as a son, on the other hand, compels one to view the two units as reflecting the same basic theme. The false prophet must, according to the law, be slain for his perfidy. The true “prophet,” however, has been slain for his righteousness and integrity, something not unheard of in the annals of Israelite religious history. Zechariah 12:10-14 stands, then, in radical juxtaposition and contrast to 13:1-6, the one focusing on the true prophet and the other on the false.

A second possibility is that YHWH was pierced in the sense that someone who represented Him was pierced.713 This allows the text to stand as is and to direct the focus on the persons represented by both the “Me” and the “him.” YHWH is pierced, only indirectly of course, so the eyes of those who wounded Him are directed to the person who directly received the mortal blow. The problem with this interpretation is that it is impossible to identify this second party short of concluding that it is a messianic figure—to the Christian, Jesus Christ.714 While the NT witness, to be discussed below, makes this not only possible but necessary in the fullest sense, ordinary hermeneutics would insist that the figure have some relevance, if only typological, to the time and audience of the prophet himself.715 It seems best, then, to adopt the interpretation that it is YHWH who has been pierced, if only in a figurative way.

As far as the messianic character of 12:10 is concerned, there can be no question of its being taken that way in early Jewish tradition, to say nothing of NT Christology.716 The gospel of John reports: “Another scripture says, ‘They will look on him whom they pierced’” (John 19:37). Though John appears to follow a non-Masoretic reading717 here, he is “quoting” Zech. 12:10 in support of the prediction of Jesus’ crucifixion. The same author, in the Apocalypse, refers to the second advent of Christ with the words: “Every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him” (Rev. 1:7). This allusion to Zechariah goes beyond that of the gospel to include the idea of looking as well as piercing.718

The description of the reaction to the pierced one is also suggestive of messianic language. When the people see what they have done in their spiritual blindness, they will lament as one laments for his “only son” (dyj!Y`h^, hayyahd), his “first-born” (rokB=h^, habbekor). dyj!y` (from dj^y`, hahad, “be united”) conveys the idea of a one and only.719 It is the term YHWH chose when speaking to Abraham about Isaac whom he was about to slay on Moriah: “Take your son, your only son (;d=yj!y+, yehdeka), whom you love” (Gen. 22:2). The LXX renders the Hebrew word yahd as ajgaphto" (agapetos, “beloved”), the same word the NT writers use to describe Jesus, “the beloved Son” of God (e.g., Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Luke 9:35). The NT dependence here is obvious.

The word rokB=, (bekor) also is a messianic term as far as the NT is concerned. The LXX usually renders this by prwtovtoko", (prototokos, “firstborn”), a term used several times with reference to Jesus in the NT.720 Paul describes God’s Son as “the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15), certainly not in the sense of a chronological priority but as the Son par excellence. He is also the “beginning, the firstborn from among the dead” (Col. 1:18), the apostle goes on to say. Again, it is most evident that the NT depends on the idea of the firstborn in the OT (cf. Ex. 4:22; Num. 3:13; Ps. 89:27 [HB 89:28]; Jer. 31:9) for its technical language as well as its theological concept.

In summary, v. 10 anticipates the day when the royal house of David and all Jerusalem will receive from YHWH a spirit of grace, enabling those people to seek His forgiveness for millennia of waywardness. Once this is granted, or simultaneous with it, they will look to YHWH, the one they have mortally wounded by their heartbreaking behavior, a look that produces in them a sense of great sorrow. The only sorrow comparable is that of the loss of a first-born son in death. Such sorrow is a sign of genuine repentance, as the following verses on into chapter 13 make clear.

The only apt comparison to the grief that Jerusalem will display is that expressed with reference to Hadad-Rimmon in the plain of Megiddo (v. 11). Many scholars take this to be the weeping that attended the violent and premature death of King Josiah at Megiddo when he foolishly interposed his tiny army between the Egyptians under Pharaoh Necho and the Assyrians under Ashurbanipal (2 Kings 23:28-30).721 The chronicler reports that Jeremiah composed a lament (Jer. 22:10?) over Josiah and to the very day of the chronicler singers commemorated the tragic event. In fact, it became a statute (qj), hoq) that the observance be recited from that time on (2 Chron. 35:25).

The major difficulty with this is the reference to Hadad-Rimmon. The grammar of the passage seems to demand that Hadad-Rimmon be either a subjective or objective genitive with “lamentation.” That is, it can be the lamentation that is voiced by Hadad-Rimmon or the lamentation caused by Hadad-Rimmon. The name itself is a compound of two Amorite or Canaanite divine names, that of the god of storm and that of the god of thunder.722 Both phenomena are appropriate to a single function, that of the rain or fertility god.

In the case of a subjective genitive, Hadad-Rimmon would have to be a place name, it seems, for it is unlikely that the lamentation of a pagan deity would be an apt point of comparison to an act of repentance by God’s people for being idolatrous in the first place. There is, however, no place of this name known in either the OT or in other prosopography. The objective genitive view—that there was lamentation in Megiddo because of Hadad-Rimmon—is much more plausible but not without its difficulties. There is no known shrine in Megiddo associated with Hadad-Rimmon,723 nor is there any extant myth describing his death or similar calamity that would occasion such lament. The “weeping for Tammuz” in Ezek. 8:14 comes to mind, as does the Baal epic from Ugarit in which there is great lamentation over Baal upon his death at the hands of Mot.724 Baal, of course, is just another way of describing Hadad.

Again, the major objection to this is the lack of any evidence for a Hadad-Rimmon shrine at Megiddo where such lamentation might have taken place at such an exaggerated level as to make it a point of comparison. Moreover, the fact that deep sorrow for sin in Judah should be compared to the lament of pagans over a catastrophe that had befallen one of their mystic deities seems most unlikely.725 It might be best in the final analysis to assume that there was a place by this name at or near Megiddo, one perhaps marking the spot where Josiah fell, and that it was there that the periodic lamentations for the godly king took place.

To return to the present passage, it is noteworthy how the lamentation over the pierced one will be manifest. Each clan (so hj*p*v=m!, mispaha, is best rendered) of Judah will lament by itself (v. 12a). This suggests that a community or corporate repentance will not be sufficient, for each member and entity of that community is individually culpable and must individually give account before God. Even wives cannot depend upon the repentance of their husbands, for, as Ezekiel said in respect to personal responsibility, the old proverb to the effect that the fathers have eaten sour grapes and their children’s teeth are set on edge will be annulled. From now on the principle will apply that “the person who sins, that one will die” (Ezek. 18:4).

The particularizing of the mourning begins at the top of the socio-political-economic ladder, the royal house. The clan of David is not exempt from repentance, for with few exceptions the dynasty of David, which ruled over Judah, failed to discharge its responsibility as shepherd over the flock. That it is the succession of Davidic kings and not literally David is made clear by the reference to the clan of Nathan that follows (v. 12b).

Nathan was the third son of David born in Jerusalem, apparently an elder brother of Solomon by a different wife (2 Sam. 5:14; 1 Chron. 3:5). Though the kings of Judah from Solomon to the tribe of the Exile were descendants of Solomon (1 Chron. 3:10-16), it is quite apparent that a change occurred at that point and that royal descent began to be traced through Nathan.726 This is hinted at in the OT genealogical and dynastic records and made explicit in the NT. Zerubbabel, as we have noted already (see pp. 146ff.) was of royal blood but was not of the line of Solomon. Though in one list he is called the son of Pedaiah (1 Chron. 3:17-19), he is usually considered to be the son of Shealtiel (Ezra 3:2, 8; 5:2; Neh. 12:1; Hag. 1:12, 14; Matt. 1:12; Luke 3:27). Probably he was, in fact, the grandson of Shealtiel. Jehoiachin, however, left no male heir (Jer. 22:3) and yet had “sons” (1 Chron. 3:17). These sons may have been offspring of a daughter who, according to Luke’s genealogy, married Neri, a descendant of David in a parallel line through Nathan (Luke 3:27). Luke also records that Zerubbabel was of the Nathan lineage, as was Jesus Himself (Luke 3:23-31). Because the prophet Zechariah was a contemporary of Zerubbabel, he would naturally refer to the Davidic house of his own time as the “clan of Nathan,” for by then the line of descent had already shifted from Solomon to Nathan.727

The “clan of Levi” (v. 13) refers to the whole priestly or religious side of Israel’s life, just as “clan of David” spoke of the political. The Shimeites, then, were the descendants of Levi who presumably dominated the Levitical classes in the postexilic era. Shimei was, according to the genealogies, the grandson of Levi through Gershom (Ex. 6:16-17; cf. Num. 3:17-18). He was not a priest inasmuch as the priests traced their lineage back to Gershom’s brother Kohath (1 Chron. 6:1-3), so he represents specifically the Levites.728 Yet the priests and their wives would also be included under the general Levitical umbrella, for the purpose here is to suggest a general repentance embracing the totality of political and religious life.

This is clear from the last verse (v. 14) which summarizes by including all the rest, that is, those not included before. Thus, the entire society of Judah will, in the day of YHWH’s coming, repent of their sins as they face up to His inexpressible salvation opened up to them by the pouring out of His grace.

Refinement of Judah

    A. Cleansing of God’s People (13:1-6)


1 “In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for impurity. 2And it will also be in that day,” says YHWH of hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they will ever again be remembered. Moreover, I will remove the prophets and unclean spirit from the land. 3Then if anyone prophesies still, his father and mother who gave him life will say to him, ‘You cannot live, for you lie in the name of YHWH.’ Then his father and mother who gave him life will pierce him through when he prophesies. 4So it will be in that day that each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies and will no longer wear the hairy cloak to deceive. 5Instead he will say, ‘I am no prophet—indeed, I am a farmer, for a man has *made me his bondsman from my youth.’ 6Then someone will ask him, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ and he will answer, ‘Some which I suffered in the house of my friends.’

Exegesis and Exposition

The lamentation of repentance that results when Judah sees the one whom they have pierced by their apostate disobedience will in turn result in their forgiveness, an act described in the present unit as a purification or cleansing.729 As is always the case with genuine conversion there are both negative and positive aspects. The positive consists of the restoration to fellowship that takes place when sin has been forgiven (v. 1). The negative involves the removal of those habits and attitudes that occasioned the interruption of fellowship between God and His people in the first place (vv. 2-6).

This is true of all times and circumstances, but the present oracle continues to be rooted firmly in the eschaton as “in that day” of v. 2 makes most clear (cf. vv. 2, 4). Therefore, the cleansing here has to do with a final work of YHWH, one that the context specifically links to His elect people Israel. It is described in the metaphor of a fountain, an artesian well (roqm*, maqor), that gushes forth to provide cleansing for the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem. In particular it will remove “sin” (taF*j^, hattat) and “impurity” (hD*n], nidda), the former having to do with lack of conformity to the divine will and the latter with the condition or state of defilement brought about by any breach of the principles of holiness.730 One is more an active expression of sin and the other a passive result. Here in the passage both have to do with the matter of idolatry and false prophets. The sin was the rejection of YHWH and violation of His covenant. The impurity is the condition of the people because of their sin of repudiating YHWH and turning instead to idols and false prophets. Thus the two are the obverse and reverse of the same coin.

The cleansing fountain is opened specifically to the house of David and inhabitants of Jerusalem, for they are the two entities singled out in 12:10, the ones upon whom YHWH will pour out the spirit of grace and supplication. They, however, are only representative of the whole redeemed people as 12:12-14 puts beyond doubt. What is important to note here is that the cleansing fountain of 13:1 is presupposed by the divine initiative of grace in 12:10. It is only when the people of YHWH face up to Him as the one whom they have wounded and then repent sincerely of their wickedness that the fountain of cleansing is opened up to them. This is not in any way contrary to the Christian gospel message (Rom. 10:9-10; cf. Tit. 3:5).

As part and parcel of the cleansing—indeed, as its manifestation—is the cutting off of the very names of the idols that Israel and Judah had embraced so frequently in the course of their history. The verb “to cut off” (tr^K*, karat) is particularly poignant here because it is the technical term used to describe the making of a covenant (tyr]B= tr^K*, karat bert), that is, “to cut a covenant.” Israel had broken the covenant time and time again, particularly in the worship of other gods in idolatry. Now YHWH has restored the covenant relationship and will “cut off” the names of the idols. This means not only to do away with them by some destructive act such as that of Elijah on Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:38-40), but to remove their very remembrance from the minds and hearts of the people (v. 2; cf. Hos. 2:19).

The main focus of the passage is not on the idols, however, but on the false prophets who either speak falsely in the name of YHWH or as spokesmen of the false gods represented by the prophets. In either case they are not motivated by the spirit of YHWH but by an “unclean spirit,” unclean both because of its inherent nature as demonic and because it inspires the prophets to proclaim lies and other misleading and unclean speech.731 A classic illustration of this combination of a false prophet and an unclean spirit occurs in the heavenly scene described by the prophet Micaiah (1 Kings 22:19-23) who tells Ahab and Jehoshaphat that he saw YHWH surrounded by His royal court and seeking their counsel as to how to confound Ahab. Finally a “lying spirit” (rq#v# j^Wr, ruah seqer) volunteers to inspire Ahab’s prophets to advise him to go to battle and to assure him of victory.

According to Judges 9:23 God sent an “evil spirit” hu*r` j^Wr, ruah ra`a) between Abimelech and the Shechemites. Its task was to cause the Shechemites to become traitorous toward Abimelech and turn on him. An “evil spirit” (also ra`a) from YHWH also came upon Saul once the spirit of YHWH had left him (1 Sam. 16:14). This spirit terrified him and could be controlled only when David played soothing music on his harp (16:23). Though not involving prophesying in these cases, the notion of harmful, evil spirits is very much at home in the OT.

It is in light of the ultimate sovereignty of YHWH over all creation, including the spirit world, that these instances must be understood. Though not the source of the wickedness that these unclean spirits purvey, YHWH could and did release them to accomplish His own mysterious purposes of judgment and discipline. Even Satan, the epitome of the evil spirits, could become a servant of YHWH, testing and evaluating the character of godly Job (Job 1:6-12; cf. 1 Chron. 21:1).

It is evident, then, that the unclean spirit of our passage is a spirit inspiring the false prophets who prophesy lies in the name of YHWH. He allows them to carry out their pernicious ministry, but when the time of repentance and renewal comes, He banishes them from the land (v. 2). If any persists in prophesying (clearly as a false prophet, as v. 3 shows), the ancient Mosaic penalty must be brought to bear: his father and mother must put him to death (Deut. 13:6-11; cf. 18:20-22). Though the penalty of Deuteronomy is in immediate connection with false prophets who urge the people to follow other gods (Deut. 13:1-5), those who speak lies in YHWH’s name are subject to the same judgment (Deut. 18:20).

As noted with reference to Zech. 12:10, the false prophet, though a beloved son of his parents, must be slain by them by being pierced through (rq^D*, daqar), presumably with a spear or lance. The same verb occurs not only in 12:10 but in Num. 25:8 where an Israelite man and Midianite woman, engaged in a pagan act of sexual intercourse designed to facilitate the worship of Baal at Peor (Num. 25:1-3), were slain by being thrust through with a spear. The conceptual connections between that incident and the idolatry and false prophetism of Zech. 13:1-6 are quite apparent.

The result of such exposure and subsequent application of the death penalty will be an attempt on the part of the charlatan prophets to deny their involvement in false prophesying. They will be ashamed of their visions and will cast aside the clothing customarily worn by prophets to indicate their profession (v. 4). “Ashamed” is a literal translation of voB (bos), the verb used here, but it is shame in the sense of a refusal to divulge what one knows or has seen. This is certainly a rare nuance of the verb, but its essential correctness is sustained by consideration of the parallel structure. Leaving aside the introductory formula, “in that day,” the verse reads as follows:

Each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies,
and they will no longer wear the hairy cloak to deceive.

Besides the assonance of the underlined verbs (Wvboy}, yebosu, and WvB=l=y], yilbesu), “wear to deceive” clearly corresponds to “be ashamed.” Thus, just as the removal of the hairy cloak is for the purpose of hiding the true identity of the false prophet, so his being ashamed of his vision also accomplishes that objective.

The “hairy garment” (ru*c@ trD#a^, adderet se`ar) was the distinctive attire of many of the OT prophets, notably Elijah. He wrapped his face in such an apparel when confronted by the living God at Horeb (1 Kings 19:13) and, on transferring his office to Elisha, did so by casting the hairy cloak upon him (19:19). He used it also to part the Jordan River (2 Kings 2:8), a feat Elisha was able to duplicate using the same cloak (2:14). John the Baptist, a NT prophet in the tradition of Elijah, was recognized as such by his clothing of camel’s hair (Matt. 3:4).

Though this no doubt communicated something of a rustic, casual nature, the word dderet itself connotes a garment of glory or magnificence. The office of prophet, after all, was one of exalted privilege, for the prophet was none other than the herald of the Great King. His very apparel should be a token of the lofty position he held. The word (without “hairy”) appears in Josh. 7:21 to describe the beautiful Babylonian garment found by Achan in the ruins of Jericho.732 So highly prized was it that he took it for himself rather than give it over to YHWH, as the herem on Jericho required.

The false prophets of the age to come will not only deny that they have had visions, then, but they will also remove the visible sign of their glory—their hairy garments. These they had worn, not as the regular attire of false prophets, but to simulate true prophets and thus to deceive those who heard them. Now they will even seek to conceal that they were prophets at all, for the risk of exposure was too great. Their true nature would be found out after all, and they will face the penalty the law demanded of pagan prophets.

Beyond this denial of vision and change of apparel, the false prophet in that day will verbally affirm that he is no prophet (v. 5). Like Amos (who was telling the truth, unlike these), he will assert that he is a farmer (Amos 7:14). The repetition of the first person independent personal pronoun yk!n)a& (anok), “I,” suggests the vigor of his protestations.733 Literally, he will say, “Not a prophet am I; a worker of the soil am I!” That farming is not a recent occupation, he says, is evident from the fact that he has been a bondman from the days of his youth.

Those who have known him know better, however, and one will ask, “If you are no prophet, how do you explain these wounds on your chest?” (v. 6) His answer is a feeble lie, “I got them in the house of friends.”734 Even without the hairy cloak, then, the false prophet can be identified—by the wounds on his chest. Such translations for this last phrase as “between the arms” or the like are much too literal. Comparative Semitic evidence has been very helpful in clarifying the idiom.735 The OT itself makes clear that it is the thorax that is intended, for in 2 Kings 9:24 the arrow Jehu shoots at King Joram of Israel strikes him “between the arms,” piercing his heart.

Incisions on the body were characteristic of many of the religious practitioners of the ancient Near East, particularly among the Canaanites. The OT, in response to this sign of paganism, warns the priest and prophets of Israel (and, indeed, the people at large) to forgo such things in the interests of maintaining pure faith toward YHWH (Lev. 19:28; Deut. 14:1). The purpose of these self-lacerations is not entirely clear, but they apparently had something to do with sympathetic rituals undertaken to induce certain action by the gods. A biblical case no doubt is that of the contest between Elijah and the Baal prophets at Carmel. After those prophets had prayed and pleaded for Baal to ignite their sacrifices, with abysmal lack of success, they became frenzied and began to cut themselves until the blood poured from their veins and arteries (1 Kings 18:28).736 The objective was to impress the deity with their act of wholesale devotion and self-denial so much that Baal would have no recourse but to be moved to send the fire from heaven for which he was so famous.

It is not possible to know whether that was a common feature of Canaanite or pagan Israelite practice and particularly whether such self-induced wounds were ad hoc in response to particular crises or were a regular part of the markings of a prophet. Our passage in Zechariah would suggest the correctness of the latter view, for the marks the prophet bears are so typical of those of the prophets that they betray him as one. His excuse that they came from a brawl in the house of friends convinces no one. The Hebrew translated here “friends” usually means “lovers” and could mean that here as well.737 Because “lovers” in the OT is a term regularly applied to illicit relationships, particularly in the cultic realm where the gods were the “lovers,” the prophet’s plight in such a case would be all the more damning, because he may be confessing that he was the victim of self-inflicted wounds in a pagan temple. In any event, his charade is unconvincing, for in the day of YHWH such pretense will be exposed for what it is.

Additional Notes

13:5 yn]n~q=h! (“indentured me”): The Hebrew of MT says literally, “a man made me his bondsman from my youth.” This unexpected addition to the statement that he is a farmer had led some scholars to suggest that yn]n~q=h! <d*a*, “a man acquired me,” be read yn]y`n+q! hm*d*a&, “the land is mine” (cf. hm*d*a& in the previous phrase); so Alfons Deissler, Zwlf Propheten III. Zefanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1988), 309. Wellhausen had first proposed such an emendation in 1898 in his Die Kleinen Propheten, 201. R. P. Gordon has now adduced a Targum witness to this reading, giving Wellhausen unexpected support (R. P. Gordon, “Targum Variant Agrees with Wellhausen,” ZAW 87 [1975]: 218-19. This hardly yields better sense and, in fact, is not nearly as persuasive an argument as to say that he is a farmer and has been one for years.

    B. Preservation of God’s People (13:7-9)


7Awake, sword, against My shepherd,
against the man (who is) My associate,
says YHWH of hosts.
*Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered;
I will turn My hand against the insignificant ones.

8It will happen in all the land, says YHWH,
that two there will be cut off and die,
but the third will be left there.

9Then I will bring the third into the fire,
and I will refine them like silver is refined
and will try them as gold is tried.
They will call on My name and I will answer,
I will say, ‘It is My people,’ and they will say, ‘YHWH is my God.’” (13:7-9)

Exegesis and Exposition

Because of the many affinities between this poem and the shepherd themes of chapter 11, many scholars connect the two, viewing the poem as a climax to the entire shepherd metaphor that commences in chapter 11 (or even in 10:2-3) and continues, though in more hidden form, through chapters 12 and 13.738 Some even go so far as to argue that the poem is misplaced, having originally followed 11:15-17.739 Although there clearly are especially close links between the poem and chapter 11, there is no need to conclude that the poem is not at home in its present place. In fact, there are good reasons for its appearance precisely where it is as a continuation of and response to the diatribe against idolatry and false prophets that immediately precedes it (13:1-6).

By using such terms as “fountain,” “sin,” “uncleanness,” idols,” and “unclean spirit” (13:1-2a), the prophet has obliquely at least addressed the matter of corrupt cult and priesthood. Then, turning to the prophets who preach lies and practice pagan divination, he has obviously brought wicked prophetism within his purview (13:2b-6). The third element of Israel’s institutional life, the monarchy, yet remains to be censured and judged; that is the burden of the present poem.

As noted repeatedly, Zechariah’s favorite way of referring to Israel’s kings is as shepherd. There can be no doubt that he has the kings in view here as well but in an exclusively eschatological setting as the whole context of chapter 13 makes plain. Thus the connection is not so much with previous shepherd sections, as with its own canonical setting. For example, the false prophet suffers death at the hands of his own parents by being pierced through (v. 3). In the poem the shepherd becomes the victim of a sword, invoked to come and slay him (v. 7). Bearing self-inflicted wounds (toKm^, makkot) which he says were the result of blows inflicted (yt!yK!h%, hukkt) by friends, the false prophet stands condemned (13:6). In the poem the call goes out to strike (Eh^, hak) the shepherd for his faithlessness in carrying out his regal responsibilities (v. 7). In all three places where “wound” or “strike” occurs the same verb, a form of hk*n` (naka) is used. The connection between 13:4-6 and 13:7-9 could hardly be stronger.740

The poem (if, indeed, it is that) consists of three stanzas, the first of which (v. 7) concerns the shepherd-king, the second (v. 8) the decimation of the flock, and the third (v. 9) the purification and restoration of the remnant of the flock. In a loose way this third section harks back to v. 1, the idea of purification forming an inclusio around the whole chapter.741

By means of apostrophe YHWH summons the sword against “My shepherd.” The use of the possessive pronoun suggests a closeness of relationship in which the king functions alongside and on behalf of YHWH. This is a notion thoroughly grounded in the OT (Deut. 17:14-17; Pss. 2:6-9; 45:1-2 [HB 45:2-3]; 72:1-4). A remarkable confirmation of this ideology follows in the description of the shepherd as “My fellow,” or “associate.” This noun (tym!u*, `amt) occurs otherwise only in Leviticus where it appears in parallel to YHWH (6:2) and God (25:17) but usually as a general term for fellow-man (19:11, 15, 17; 25:14, 15). In the two parallel constructions the parallelism is not poetic, but the juxtaposition is such as to afford an unusually close connection between `amt and the divine name. Thus, 6:2 reads in part, “If anyone commits a trespass against YHWH and deals falsely with his fellowman,” etc. The other, 25:17, says, “You shall not wrong one another (that is, your fellow), but you shall fear your God.”

This language of association pales in comparison to the bold assertion by YHWH that the shepherd-king, in effect, is his “fellow-man.”742 All the more poignant, then, is the command to the sword to strike this one so that the flock may become scattered. In this act not only will the leaders of the community suffer the blow of YHWH’s righteous indignation, but so will the flock, “the insignificant ones” as they are described. This command is akin to the determination of YHWH, expressed earlier, to deliver the inhabitants of the land, the “poor of the flock,” into the hands of their persecutors (11:5, 6, 9). He will, in the last day, turn His hand against these least ones, for they too stand condemned with their rulers.

Some scholars understand the second line of the verse to mean “strike the shepherd and the flock will scatter” rather than “that the flock may be scattered.”743 This is often the result of assuming that the flock is innocent, and it is only because of judgment on the shepherd that the sheep also suffer. Others see an exclusively messianic motif here in which the shepherd himself is innocent, being condemned and put to death unjustly.744 This view no doubt is greatly influenced by the piercing of YHWH, the messianic prototype, in 12:10. The two passages, however, have very little in common otherwise. Moreover, the innocence of the shepherd is refuted by the fact that it is YHWH’s command, not permission, that he be slain. Any appeal to Isaiah 53:10—745 “it pleased YHWH to bruise him” —seems wide of the mark if for no other reason than that Zech. 13:7-9 is solidly imbedded in a context (13:1-6) that insists on the whole as being an indictment of Israel’s leadership—priestly, prophetic, and royal. To this one should add the observation that to “turn the hand upon” almost always connotes an act of judgment (cf. especially Ps. 81:14 [HB 81:15]; Isa. 1:25; Amos 1:8).746

In addition to all this, the scattering of the sheep, far from being an accidental consequence of the striking of the shepherd, is, in fact, for the purpose of ridding the flock of the elements that must be purged. This consists of two-thirds of the sheep, a figure that most likely means the majority as opposed to the remnant, the one-third (v. 8). The remnant who survive the purging will pass through a refining process designed to equip them to have minds and hearts that are open and responsive to the sovereign claims of YHWH (v. 9).

The fractions here call to mind a passage in Ezekiel which sheds considerable light on the problem of the scattered sheep in Zechariah and how their affliction is to be understood.747 YHWH had commanded Ezekiel to cut his hair and then to burn a third of it at the conclusion of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (5:2). A second third must then be struck (hK#T^, takkeh, from hk*n` [naka], “smite”) with the sword and the third scattered to the wind. These last, the dispersed ones, will provide the matrix from which a remnant will issue, a select number of “hairs” that will pass through the refining fires (5:3-4).748 Ezekiel goes on to define the fire of v. 2 more narrowly as pestilence, the sword as slaughter in war, and the scattering as exile (v. 12; cf. 6:8). The “hairs” that remain of the deportation he identifies as the remnant who, in captivity, will remember YHWH and come to know that he indeed is YHWH (6:8-10).

There appears to be some contradiction in Zechariah’s description in terms of the destiny of the third one-third. He agrees with Ezekiel that two-thirds die, but implies that the rest remain in the land. However, there is no contradiction at all. What Zechariah says conforms to the historical fact, reflected in Ezekiel, that after the population of Judah and Jerusalem died of hunger and sword, only the survivors (those remaining alive) obviously were left in the land. But they too went “into the fire” (v. 9), that is, the fire of exile as Ezekiel described it (Ezek. 5:4; cf. 5:12). It is in exile that they were refined like silver and tried or assayed like gold. It was there, in the crucible of purification, that they called upon the name of YHWH and that He answered them. It is there, finally, that they became again the true people of YHWH and that they said of Him, “YHWH is my God” (cf. Hos. 2:23).

In an eschatological repetition of exile, then, the shepherd-kings of Israel will suffer the wrath of God (cf. 11:8), the flock-people will endure pestilence and sword (cf. 11:6, 9), and the surviving community will be scattered (cf. 11:16). But from the dispersed population will emerge a purified remnant that knows and confesses YHWH, one that will experience the incomparable joy of being known as His people. These are the ones in view at the beginning of chapter 13, those of the house of David, and of the inhabitants of Jerusalem to whom the fountains of cleansing will be opened up. They are the redeemed who will remember YHWH while in exile and who, in a mighty second exodus, will return to the land to exercise dominion in His name (10:8-12).

The foregoing understanding of the identity of the shepherd and sheep must, however, be balanced by careful attention to the NT use of the passage, especially of v. 7. Both Matthew and Mark cite the verse as a quotation of Jesus who, anticipating His forthcoming suffering and death, said, “all of you will be offended in me tonight, for it is written, ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered abroad’” (Matt. 26:31; Mark 14:27 is not significantly different). Clearly both evangelists regard the Zechariah text as a messianic testimonial as, indeed, must Jesus Himself have done.749 How, then, can this use of the text be squared with the view of a king (or monarchy itself) who is condemned and punished by God and a dispersed Israel?

The answer (as in the case with 12:10) must be either that Jesus and the authors of the gospels see in Zech. 13:7 a prefiguring or prototype of a suffering Messiah, a kind of exegesis well known in first-century rabbinic circles;750 or they merely use the language in a proverb-like way to express what happens when a shepherd becomes incapacitated or removed altogether. One could say that it is a maxim that when shepherds are struck down sheep inevitably scatter.751 Such an interpretation has in its favor the fact that the sub-pericope 13:7-9 has strong linkage to 13:1-6, and the whole together appears to speak of divine judgment in the eschaton against priests, prophets, and kings.752 In addition, it can be argued that neither Matthew nor Mark has Jesus’ comment saying that He is fulfilling prophecy. He seems to be simply affirming the aphorism of the cause and effect established by the removal of a shepherd from his flock.

The history of Christian exegesis insists on more than this, however, almost univocally understanding Zechariah 13:7 as a messianic prophecy pure and simple.753 Such a long standing and persistent tradition cannot be ignored for surely it is based on the correct assumption that Jesus and the evangelists saw in the shepherd and sheep more than did Zechariah in his own time and context. That is, Jesus viewed the verse as transcending the narrow confines of its historical and literary environment and as having allusion to Himself and His disciples as well. As has been noted, this kind of exegesis was commonly employed by the rabbis and by Jesus and the early Church.754 Although it might appear to be incompatible with the view that insists that an OT text (or any other) be understood exclusively within its own context, such a method, when used or sanctioned by Jesus Christ and the authoritative apostles, must be accepted as a legitimate prophecy in every sense of the term. This does not invalidate the meaning of Zech. 13:7-9 as developed above, but it raises it to another dimension in which messianic truth can be communicated by a text that may never have been so intended by the original prophet-author.

Additional Notes

13:7 For the masc. sg. imperative Eh^, “strike,” some LXX recensions presuppose an infinitive absolute construction hK#a^ hK@h^, “I will surely strike.” The same tradition is followed in Matthew who renders the verb as patavxw. Matthew’s use of the LXX has no bearing, however, on the correctness of the MT here, a reading that should be retained precisely because of its comparative difficulty.

Sovereignty of YHWH

The second great oracle and the entire prophecy of Zechariah end on the grand and glorious note of the sovereignty of YHWH and the establishment of His universal and eternal kingdom. The cosmic, eschatological sweep of this last portion, nine times punctuated by the phrase “in that day” or the like, is almost without compare in the prophetic literature of the OT for the richness of its imagery, the authority of its pronouncements, and the majestic exaltation of the God of Israel who will be worshiped as the God of all the earth.

Again, however, it is the people of YHWH who are central to the revelation. The pivotal concern of the passage is to show that YHWH comes on their behalf in order to complete at long last all the purposes for which He had elected, redeemed, and preserved them. It is, in fact, as YHWH proves true to His covenant word to Israel that He most effectively and dramatically evinces His glory. When Israel has finally fulfilled her covenant mandate as a kingdom of priests, drawing the nations of earth redemptively to YHWH her God, then, and only then, will her mission and the course of human history simultaneously come to an end. Then and only then will YHWH be all in all. This is the organizing principle of Zechariah’s climactic word, the summation of all that has gone before.

    A. Deliverance of His People (14:1-8)

      1. Their Tribulation (14:1-2)


1A day of YHWH is about to come when your spoil will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to do battle; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and *the women violated. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be cut off from the city.

Exegesis and Exposition

It is indigenous to the purposes of God in the face of the Fall that triumph comes through tribulation. Sacred history from beginning to end testifies to this, for the inflexible law that a grain of wheat, unless it falls into the earth and dies, remains alone is applicable to the very creation itself. It “groans and travails in pain with us until now … waiting for the redemption” (Rom. 8:22-23).

It is not surprising therefore that the prophet here speaks of the day of YHWH in the context of struggle and conflict (vv. 1-2). Hanson describes the whole of Zech. 14 as a composition whose structure “is derived from the ancient ritual pattern of the conflict myth, as that pattern was mediated on Israelite soil by the Jerusalem royal cult.” The first two verses, he says, embody the motif of the “attack of the nations” in a salvation-judgment oracle.755 The restoration and dominion cannot come until all the forces of evil that seek to subvert it are put down once and for all. Specifically, the redemption of Israel will be accomplished on the ruins of her own suffering and those of the malevolent powers of this world that, in the last day, will consolidate themselves against her and seek to interdict forever any possibility of her success. The nations of the whole earth will come against Jerusalem, and, having defeated her, will divide up their spoils of war in her very midst.

It is important to note that it is YHWH who gathers the nations, for His design is not only to purify His people in tribulation (cf. 13:8-9) but to provide an occasion for the destruction of their enemies. Joel speaks of that day as a time when YHWH will bring His people back into the land but will also gather the nations in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (that is, “YHWH judges”) so that He might judge them there for the mistreatment of His people (Joel 3:1-3). Micah also describes the assembling of the nations against Zion and says that they little realize why they are there, namely, to be sheaves on the threshing-floor of YHWH’s judgment (Mic. 4:11-13). But it is Ezekiel who provides the fullest account (chaps. 38-39).756 The nations, he says, will come to war against Israel, a land living in peace and prosperity (38:11). But they come, again unawares, so that they might know YHWH in His mighty power (38:16). When it looks as though all is lost, YHWH will intervene and reduce the invading hordes to ignominious defeat (39:4-6).

There is, however, something unique to the account of Jerusalem’s siege in Zech. 14:1-2, and that is the clear statement that the city falls to the enemy and suffers subsequent spoliation, rape, and deportation. It seems, then, that Zechariah cannot be referring to the same invasion as that recounted by Joel, Micah, and Ezekiel, for their narratives explicitly or implicitly affirm that the city goes unscathed, having been delivered by YHWH peremptorily. In fact, Zechariah himself has already described a scene in which Jerusalem, though attacked, has suffered no loss and, indeed, is able to administer her enemies a lethal blow (12:1-9). Zechariah also distinguishes between a battle in which Jerusalem is overrun and one in which she escapes through divine intervention.757

This distinction is carefully drawn elsewhere in the OT prophets but even more so in the NT. It is necessary, then, to give at least brief attention to some details of eschatological chronology, lest it appear that all end-time events are simultaneous. Our analysis of Zech. 9:9-10, an eschatological message divided between the two advents of the Messiah, is enough to show that the day of YHWH may and, indeed, does have multiple aspects, the difference among which may not be apparent apart from the NT witness.

The discussion should begin in our present context, with Zech. 14:3-8. Here it is clear that the deliverance of Jerusalem will be coincident with the triumphant coming of YHWH, an epiphany so marvelous that it changes the very topography of the holy land. There is no reason to take this in any but a literal way, unless one is prepared to deny a literal coming of YHWH as well. The effect of His coming is not only victory for His people (v. 3) but the establishment of His earthly kingdom (vv. 9-11). This cannot be the everlasting kingdom, however, for rebellion continues (vv. 13-15) and national distinctions remain in place (v. 16). Those nations that refuse His sovereignty and fail to do him obeisance will suffer plague (vv. 17-19). This, too, falls short of an eternal kingdom in which YHWH’s rule is over a redeemed, obedient people. But it is not the kingdom of this age and world either, as the reference to the holiness of all things in it makes clear (vv. 20-21).

Zechariah thus distinguishes between the kingdom of YHWH’s universal, unchallenged dominion and a preliminary one in which His lordship prevails and His own people are secure only as He exercises direct and forcible hegemony. And even this preliminary reign is contingent on His coming among His people, a coming that does not take place until Jerusalem has been savagely attacked, defeated, despoiled, and exiled (vv. 1-2).758

To return to the passage immediately at hand (vv. 1-2), it best fits those prophetic texts that refer to a great tribulation of God’s people that precedes His cataclysmic intervention and deliverance. Amos is aware of this complex of events when he prophesies of the destruction of all but a remnant of God’s people “in that day,” followed by the raising up of the fallen tent of David, that is, the revival of the Davidic kingdom (Amos 9:8-15). Joel also knows of a day of destruction (1:15—2:11) to be followed by divine deliverance (2:18-20; 3:9-21 [HB 4:9-21]). Isaiah, too, predicts the purging of Zion (1:24-31) and her subsequent exaltation among the kingdoms who will, in the latter days,” confess YHWH’s sovereignty (2:2-4; cf. 4: 2-6; 26:16—27:6; 33:13-24; 59:1—60:22; 65:13-25). Micah promises that YHWH will gather the people He has afflicted and that from them He will make the nucleus of a universal kingdom (Mic. 4:6-8). Jeremiah refers to the time of Judah’s future judgment as the “time of Jacob’s trouble” (Jer. 30:7), a day of unimaginable suffering that will be alleviated only by YHWH’s coming and the reestablishment of the kingdom of David (vv. 8-11). He also envisions the day when YHWH, having given His people over to destruction and exile, will gather them out of all nations, make a new covenant with them, and bless them with unprecedented prosperity (32:36-44; cf. 33:10-18). Ezekiel adds to this his word of witness when he foresees the purifying wrath of God upon Israel succeeded by their restoration as His servant people in His holy mountain, that is, His kingdom to come (20:33-44).

It is Daniel, however, who provides the language of tribulation picked up by the NT in its revelation of eschatological detail painted only on broad strokes in the OT prophets. Referring to the end times (“at that time”; cf. 11:40), Daniel says that “there will be a time of trouble” unparalleled in world history and that “at that time your people will be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book” (Dan. 12:1). The word for “trouble” here (hr`x*, sara) is the same as in Jer. 30:7 which speaks of the time of Jacob’s trouble.

The usual rendering of sara in the LXX is qli'yi" (thlipsis), the very word used by Jesus in describing the Great Tribulation to come at the end of the age (Matt. 24:21, 29; cf. Mark 13:24). When asked by His disciples about His coming and the end of the age (v. 3), He said it must be preceded by wars and cosmic dislocations (vv. 4-8) and by personal suffering or tribulation (thlipsis) by his disciples (vv. 9-14). This is all preparatory for a “great tribulation” (qli'yi" megavlh, thlipsis megale) in which His own elect people would be totally annihilated were He not to intervene (vv. 15-23). That intervention will come about with His sudden and dramatic return (vv. 27-28). Then, our Lord goes on to say, after the Tribulation will the Son of Man come on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory to regather His people (vv. 29-31). He will then sit on His glorious throne and gather all the nations before Him for judgment (Matt. 25:31-46).

The triumphant coming described in Jesus’ Olivet discourse (esp. Matt. 24:30-31; 25:31) is the subject also of Revelation 19. The apostle John there sees the “King of kings and Lord of lords” descending from heaven and riding a white war horse. He wears a royal crown, and once He puts down His foes in battle, He will “rule them with a rod of iron” (Rev. 19:11-16). This rule will last for a thousand years and will involve the people of the Lord in positions of royal priesthood (20:1-6). After that period the wicked elements of the world will assemble for one last confrontation with the King, but they will be totally and eternally defeated and destroyed (20:7-15). Then at last the everlasting kingdom of God, on a recreated earth, will come to pass, and He and His redeemed ones will enjoy unbroken and unbreakable fellowship forever (chaps. 21-22).

The fully developed scenario of the Olivet Discourse and the Apocalypse clarifies and considerably amplifies the less fully elaborated presentation of the prophets, particularly Zechariah. What they do is to make it clear that the day of YHWH comes not as a single climactic event, but that it arrives in stages. That is to say, it is a process and not an act, a process that commenced with every intervention of YHWH in salvation and judgment from the time of the prophets onward, and that will find its culmination, its ultimate and climactic expression, in the final judgment against the nations and the eternal salvation of the redeemed of all time.

To return once more to Zech. 14:1-2, the prophet’s telescoped vision in which all of YHWH’s actions seem simultaneous must be reexamined in the light of the full canonical witness. The day of YHWH will indeed include the defeat and pillaging of Jerusalem and the deportation of half her people. But this tragic circumstance is not the end of the story, for shortly thereafter YHWH will regather and restore them (cf. Zech. 8:1-8; 9:1-10; 10:8-12) and will make them an instrument of His own judgment against the nations who tormented them (12:1-9).

Additional Notes

14:2 There is an interesting example of Masoretic sensitivity to explicit sexual language in the Qere reading hn`b=k^V*T!, “be lain with,” for Kethib hn`l=g~V*T!, “be raped” or “violated.” Apart from its insight into early Jewish personal and social mores, this euphemistic substitution has little to commend it.

      2. Their Salvation (14:3-8)


3Then YHWH will go forth and fight against those nations just as He fought in the day of battle. 4His feet will stand, in that day, on the Mount of Olives which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, (leaving) a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. 5Then *you will flee (by) *my mountain valley, for the valley mountains will extend to *Azel; indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. And YHWH my God will come and all the holy ones with you. 6It will also come about in that day that there will be no light—the splendid (things) *will congeal. 7It will happen in one day, one known to YHWH; not day or night, but at evening-time there will be light. 8Moreover, in that day living waters will issue from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western; it will happen in summer and in winter.

Exegesis and Exposition

The day of tribulation described in vv. 1-2 will be followed by the triumphant “going forth” of YHWH to do battle. This is the language of holy war as the last clause of v. 3 makes clear— “just as he fought in the day of battle.”759 The Hebrew construction, namely, the use of the infinitive construct of <j^l=n] (nilham, “to fight”), suggests here a traditional or customary modus operandi. One could render the verse as follows: “Then YHWH will go forth and fight (<j^l=n], nilham) against those nations like his (usual) fighting (omj&L*h!, hillahamo), in the day of battle.”760 That is, YHWH will employ the same tactics and strategy and be driven by the same motivations as in the days of old when He entered into conflict with the nations on behalf of His people. The classic example is the defeat of Egypt in the Red Sea at the time of the Exodus, the most graphic account being the poem of celebration of YHWH’s triumph, Ex. 15:1-18 (cf. 14:14; Deut. 1:30; 3:22; 20:4; Judg. 5:1-5; Ps. 68; Hab. 3:1-19).761 Zechariah himself has already vividly described YHWH in this role of warrior (9:1-17; 10:4-5; 12:1-9).

The coming of YHWH to do battle will bring about cataclysmic changes in the terrain itself, as well as in the patterns of light and darkness and in the seasons (vv. 4-8).762 Such cosmic phenomena are a regular part of the biblical descriptions of the establishment of YHWH’s rule in the ages to come (Isa. 13:6-16; Joel 2:1-2, 10-11, 30-31 [HB 3:3-4]; 34:1-7; Amos 5:18-20; Zeph. 1:14-18; Matt. 24:29-31; Mark 13:8; 2 Pet. 3:16). They attest to His power as Creator and to the new creation that will be founded upon the ashes of the old. The shaking of the heavens and earth, as Haggai points out (2:6-7), will accompany the shaking of the nations as YHWH comes to assert His dominion over them.

He apparently proceeds from Jerusalem, leading His people across the Kidron Valley to the Mount of Olives (vv. 3-4).763 This was the route followed by David when he was forced into exile by his son Absalom (2 Sam. 15:16, 30), and it is the direction that the departing glory of YHWH went as a sign of YHWH’s personal “exile” and that of the nation that would shortly follow (Ezek. 11:22-25). In fact, King Zedekiah of Judah, in an effort to elude capture by the Babylonians, slipped out of the city and went “by the way of the Arabah” (2 Kings 25:4), that is, the lower Kidron Valley. He must have gone over or around the Mount of Olives, for he was eventually seized by the Babylonians at Jericho (Jer. 39:5). These examples demonstrate the significance of YHWH’s leadership of His people as they escape the city preparatory to its eventual recovery through YHWH’s victory.

One cannot help but compare Joel’s account of these events with Zechariah’s.764 Joel exhorts the nations to gather in the Valley of Jehoshaphat (fp*v*ohy+, yehosapat) for there YHWH will judge (fp^v*, sapat) them (3:12 [HB 4:12]). The sun, moon, and stars will be darkened, the heavens and earth will quake, but YHWH will provide a place of refuge for His people (3:15-16 [HB 4:15-16]). Jerusalem, having been delivered and purified of the contamination of the nations, will be holy to YHWH, reserved from then on for the redeemed ones alone (3:17 [HB 4:17]).

The “valley of Jehoshaphat” is the same as the Valley of Kidron, the steep ravine between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives to the east. The scene in Zech. 14 is that of invading armies that surround Jerusalem, pouring into the valley from north and south, thus preventing any escape in that direction. When all is lost, YHWH leads His people forth, and like Moses at the Red Sea, parts the mountain by the very act of treading upon it (v. 4). Evidence of an exodus motif continues in the choice of verb to describe the division of the mountain, for it (uq^B* [baqa`] “split”) is the same as that used to speak of the division of the waters (Ex. 14:16, 21; Neh. 9:11; Ps. 78:13; Isa. 65:12).

The splitting of the mountain creates a new valley, one that is on an east-west axis. This is clear from the compass points of the narrative which suggests that the cleft goes from east to west, exactly as the waters of the Red Sea were separated (Ex. 14:21-22). Zechariah explains the mechanics of it for them by pointing out that half the mountain moves northward and half southward. The “great valley” that emerges from this becomes a route of escape for Jerusalem’s population so that the enemy forces alone are left in the valley of judgment.

The valley is called by YHWH “My mountain valley” (v. 5),765 for it is He who created it for the occasion. His people, He says, will flee through it and run as far as Azel (see Additional Notes). This place is otherwise not mentioned but obviously lay at some distance east of Jerusalem. The plural “mountain valleys” that follows may suggest that a whole range of hills east of Jerusalem had to be breached to provide access all the way to Azel. The need for such means of egress is clear—there is no time to waste. Indeed, Zechariah compares the urgency of the flight to that which attended the escape from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah. This is the same quake as the one by which Amos the prophet dated his initial visions— “in the days of Uzziah king of Judah … two years before the earthquake” (Amos 1:1). Recent research at Hazor gives evidence of such a seismic event in 760 B.C., one that must have been so significant as to provide a point of reference 250 years later.766 The analogy is most apropos, for anyone who has ever experienced an earth tremor knows how important it is to remove himself from collapsing structures.

This is no mere earthquake in Zechariah, however, but a shaking of the whole universe as YHWH comes in judgment. Zechariah’s account of what transpires beginning with v. 5 is somewhat convoluted because of the radical shifting of subjects but the overall thrust of the message is clear. YHWH is speaking and refers to “My” mountain valley, but then Zechariah appears to be the interlocutor with the words “YHWH my God.” This is not sustained, however, for the speaker goes on to say that all the holy ones will come with “you” (rather than the expected “him”).

The ancient versions were very much aware of the problems generated by this awkward syntax and offered their solutions.767 The LXX, for “you will flee” (<T#s=n~, nastem), presupposes <T^s=n] (nistam),”will be stopped up.” Thus, “My valley-mountain will be stopped up.” Then, a few Hebrew MSS read <yh!Oa^ (elohm), “God,” for yh^Oa^ (elohay), “my God.” This permits a rendering “and YHWH God will come,” thereby eliminating the troublesome first person suffix. Finally, there is some evidence for the reading in oMu! (`immo), “with him,” for MT EM*u! (`immak), “with you” — “all the holy ones with him.” The only difficulty left after all this is done is YHWH’s own self-reference as “YHWH God,” which, of course, is not unusual anyway.

The reasons for the versional and MSS variations are most understandable, for it is clear that the ancients were bothered by the shifting subjects and made textual adjustments to bring some harmony to the material. It is best, however, to leave the text as it is and to try to understand it on its own terms. This calls for one to recognize the well-attested (and frequently mentioned) fact that biblical authors, especially in poetry, often are inconsistent in subject in passages where there is great movement and excitement. With this in mind I suggest that YHWH is the speaker in v. 5a (up through “king of Judah”) and that Zechariah then interjects his own statement about “YHWH my God.” This still leaves the difficult “holy ones with you,” but Zechariah can still be the subject if he is addressing first the people and then YHWH. In any case, the singular suffix “you” at the end of the verse requires that the addressee be an individual, thus disqualifying the “people,” who have hitherto been addressed.

The statement that “YHWH will come” rounds off the passage that begins in v. 3 with “YHWH will go forth.” Just as His going forth was in the terminology of holy war, so His coming is, as the reference to the “holy ones” suggests. This phrase (<yv!d)q=, qedosm) occurs in the famous hymn (Ps. 89) extolling YHWH as warrior, to describe the heavenly assembly (vv. 5, 7 [HB 6, 8]).768 He is YHWH of hosts, the one to be feared because of His exploits (vv. 7, 10 [HB 8, 11]). In fact, the “hosts” (toab*x=, sebaot) themselves are the “holy ones,” His celestial army. It is YHWH with His armies, then, that Zechariah sees. They are coming, now that Jerusalem is evacuated and her people safe, to destroy the hostile nations.

Far more problematic, but for different reasons, is Zech. 14:6-7. The prophet declares that there will be no light in the day of YHWH and then elaborates— “the splendid will congeal.” The Greek, supported by other ancient versions, reads “and cold and ice,” suggesting /oaP*q!w+ tWrq*w+ (weqarut weqippaon) for the MT /oaP*q!y+ torq*y+ (yeqarot yeqippaon).769 Cold and ice are not the necessary consequence of no light, however, so this is hardly convincing. The meaning is that the loss of light is explained by the congealing of the heavenly bodies, their “thickening” as it were to the point that they cannot shine. Again, the Song of the Sea in Exodus 15 is helpful, for the same verb, “congeal,” is used to speak of the thickening (or, perhaps, hardening) of the depths of the sea so that they could stand like walls on either side (v. 8).770 Job speaks of his own formation in the womb as a “curdling” like that of cheese as it thickens (Job 10:10). The only other use of the verb, in Zeph. 1:12, also uses the language of a congealing of substance such as wine as a metaphor for insensitive self-confidence. Thus, the luminaries of heaven will become clouded over, thickened or congealed, so that their light will not shine forth.

This phenomenon will occur on a day known only to YHWH (v. 7; cf. Matt. 24:36; Acts 1:7), one unlike any other in that it will have no day or night. That is, it will not be divided up into the usual cycles of light and darkness. Instead, everything will be reversed so that in the evening, when darkness is expected, there will be daylight. The imagery here is strikingly reminiscent of that of the Genesis creation account. There is the phrase “one day” (dj*a# <oy, yom ehad) common to both, in Genesis referring to the first day of creation (Gen 1:5).771 But it was precisely at the beginning of that day that there was “no light,” but only chaos. The establishment of order demanded the creation of light, so on that first day, a period of no daytime or nighttime, YHWH created light (v. 3). As a result there was now an evening (bru#, `ereb) and a morning (rq#B), boqer), together making up (and in that order) “one day.”

The similar motifs in the two passages must not conceal the fundamental difference, however, and that is that whereas Genesis is describing creation out of chaos, Zechariah speaks of chaos out of creation.772 The “one day” of Genesis was unique because light shone out of darkness in the morning. The “one day” of Zechariah is unique because darkness will obscure the light until, in a reversal of the normal course of nature, the light will shine out of darkness in the evening. The eschatological day of YHWH is a de-creation in its judgment, but one that gives way to an even more glorious re-creation (cf. Isa. 13:10; 34:4; Jer. 4:23; Joel 2:2, 10, 31 [HB 3:4]; 3:15 [4:15]; Zeph. 1:2, 3; contrast Rev. 21:1, 5, 23-24; 22:5).

A token of that recreation is the issuance of living waters from Jerusalem, half of which flow to the eastern (that is, the Dead) sea and half to the western (Mediterranean) sea (v. 8). Contrary to the normal climatic pattern of Palestine, where the wadis and streams dry up in the summer, this river will flow with its refreshing waters the year round.

The Hebrew construction here requires “living” (<yY]j^, hayym) to function as an adjective and not a genitive noun, so that the idea is not waters that give life but waters that are “alive.” This is a way of describing fast-flowing, sparkling streams that by their constant movement and shifting course appear to be living things. Frequently the term “living water” is translated “running water” (Lev. 14:5, 6, 50, 51, 52; 15:13; Num. 19:17), but in the prophetic literature it is used as a metaphor for YHWH’s blessing (as in our passage) or even for YHWH Himself (Jer. 2:13; 17:13).773

Most instructive in understanding both the temporal setting and the function of these living waters is Ezekiel 47, for though Ezekiel does not describe the waters there as “living” there can be no doubt that he has the same phenomenon in mind. Virtually all scholars, whatever their particular eschatological position, agree that Ezek. 40-48 is millennial. That is, it is a vision of a glorious day yet to come whether ideal or literal and actual.774 Consistent hermeneutics favors the latter, so it seems that Ezekiel (and Zechariah) is anticipating the millennial reign of YHWH on earth and the building of a new temple in which He will dwell among His people (cf. Ezek. 48:35).

Ezekiel, like Zechariah, sees waters flowing from Jerusalem, but he specifies that they originate in the temple (v. 1). The stream that comes forth and runs toward the east increases in depth and width until it becomes a mighty river, impossible to cross (v. 5). It makes its way down into the Arabah and thence into the sea, obviously the Dead Sea since the result of the inflow of the river is that the sea is “healed” and begins to teem with life (vv. 8-9). Alongside the river are trees whose leaves never fade and whose fruit never fails, all because of the fructifying qualities of the waters (v. 12).

Though the scene in Zechariah differs in that he envisions streams flowing both east and west and fails to mention the details about the enlarging of the river and its energizing of the trees, the overall similarity is compelling.775 Both prophets are looking at the imagery of millennial refreshment that attends the presence and power of YHWH as He comes to establish His sovereignty and to restore His people. John’s Apocalypse describes the same glorious vision (Rev. 22:1-5).776 He sees a river flowing from the throne of God, a stream lined with the tree of life. Most interesting and significant is that John, like Zechariah, connects this living stream with the reigning of YHWH through His redeemed ones (v. 5; cf. Zech. 14:9-11).

Additional Notes

14:5 As noted in the comments, some Mss and versions read <T^s=n]w+ for <T#s=n~w+. The rationale for this is the unexpected introduction of an audience not previously mentioned (“you”) and the possibility of a vorlage that indeed did contain the verb <t^s*, “stop up,” rather than sWn, “flee.” However, <T#s=n~ does occur in the next line in an apparently emphatic repetition of this one. Moreover, if the remainder of the text is left as is, it is strange to think that “my mountain valley” will be stopped up when it has just been opened for the purpose of providing an escape route.

Many scholars suggest an emendation <N)h! ayG}, “valley of Hinnom,” for yr^h* ayG}, “the valley of my mountain” or “my mountain valley.” This is most unsuitable geographically since Hinnom lies to the west of Jerusalem, not to the east as Zechariah’s vision requires. Furthermore, the ancient textual witnesses reveal no such option.

Inasmuch as a place named Azel is otherwise unattested, some scholars propose olx=a#, “near it.” The relevant lines would then be rendered, with the alterations previously suggested, “My mountain valley will be stopped up, for the valley mountains will be near it.” This would provide the idea that the Kidron will be blocked up at its northern and southern ends so that the people of Jerusalem can go straight through the defile created by the splitting of the Mount of Olives without interference from the enemy on either side. Though ingenious, this approach is gratuitous, lacking any support in ancient texts. Cf. Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 131-32.)

14:6 The problem with the Hebrew here is primarily one of gender disagreement, for the word for “the splendid (things)” is feminine while the predicate is masculine. For this reason the Qere has /oaP*q! (qippaon), a noun (rather than the verb of Kethib) meaning “congelation” (BDB, 891). This yields the extremely elliptical “the splendid (things will come to a state of) congelation,” or the like.

Because gender agreement is by no means consistent in Hebrew, it is best to take torq*y+ (yeqarot) as the substantized adjective rq*y` (yaqar) in the feminine plural meaning “splendid” or “precious,” with some feminine noun or nouns such as vm#v# (semes), “sun,” understood. Lacocque, e.g., supplies the missing words as follows: “Il arrivera en ce jour-l qu’il n’y aura plus de lumire (naturelle): (elle viendra) des choses prcieuses en condensation”; Andr Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, CAT (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981), p. 208. The predicate is likely the imperfect qal of ap*q* (qapa) “congeal,” with an irregular long holem (o) that should be repointed to sureq (W) and with a reversal of the first two vowels, thus /oaP*q=y]w+ or, as Horst and other scholars suggest, /Wap@Q*y], niph. impf. 3 m. p.; Friedrich Horst, Die Zwlf kleinen Propheten. Nahum bis Maleachi, HAT 14 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), p. 258. Cf. Saeb, Sacharja 9—14, p. 115. The various remedies that are needed to bring the form into conformity with standard Hebrew orthography show how intractable the problem is.

    B. Exaltation of His People (14:9-21)

      1. Their Security (14:9-11)


9YHWH will then be king over all the earth. In that day YHWH will be one and His name one. 10All the land will change (and be) like the Arabah from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem; and *she will be raised up and will dwell in her place from the gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate to the corner gate, and from the *tower of Hananel to the royal winepress. 11And people will dwell there, and there will no longer be a ban—Jerusalem will dwell in security.

Exegesis and Exposition

The victory of YHWH over the nations and the deliverance of Jerusalem from their malice will make possible the kingship of YHWH. This was the inevitable result of the pursuit of holy war, a point made already in Zechariah (1:11; 6:7; 9:1-10; 10:12). But in the eschaton He is king not merely in Jerusalem but from Jerusalem and over all the earth (cf. Isa. 2:2-4; Mic. 4:1-3). He has established His claims as sovereign by conquest and by recreation (Isa. 65:17-19; 66:18-21).

With unmistakable reference to the Shema, the very heart of Israel’s covenant faith and confession (Deut. 6:4-5), Zechariah proclaims that “in that day YHWH will be one (dj*a# hw`hy+, YHWH ehad) and His name one (dj*a# omv=, semo ehad). The Shema declares, “Hear, O Israel, as for YHWH our God, YHWH is one (YHWH ehad).” It is generally held by scholars of all persuasions that this is a confession not only of YHWH’s self-consistency but of His uniqueness, His exclusivity.777 In terms of comparative religion, it is a statement of monotheism. It was as the climax to the basic principles of the Deuteronomic Covenant that the Shema was first articulated (Deut. 5:1—6:3). In that more limited context it was an encapsulation of Israel’s faith alone (“our God”), so that any nuance about His oneness in terms of exclusivity must be understood accordingly.

Zechariah, however, breaks out of that restricted viewpoint and speaks of the oneness of YHWH on a universal scale.778 There is no reference to “our God,” for YHWH will be the one and only God of all the nations. There will be only one name, the name of YHWH, upon the lips of the whole world of worshipers. This is precisely the point Isaiah makes when he speaks the word of YHWH: “There is no God but Me … none besides Me. Look to Me and be saved, all the extent of the earth, for I am God and there is no other. I have sworn by Myself that … every knee will bend and every tongue swear [that in Him is] righteousness and strength” (Isa. 45:21-24; cf. Phil. 2:10).

This does not cancel out the centrality of Israel to YHWH’s salvific purposes, however. Jerusalem will continue to be the center from which will radiate the grace of God to all the earth. To express this centrality the prophet visualizes the leveling of the remainder of the Holy Land and the elevation of Jerusalem so that the city stands high above, overlooking the surrounding terrain from a position of eminence and security (v. 10). It is likely that this is to be understood as a figurative flattening and exaltation (cf. Isa. 2:2; 40:9-10; 56:7; 65:11),779 but regardless of that, the distinction between the dwelling-place of YHWH and the rest of the land is clearly drawn.

Geba, in one passage at least (2 Kings 23:8), represents the northernmost extent of Judah (cf. 1 Sam. 13:3, 16; 14:5; Isa. 10:29).780 The name in Hebrew (ub^G, Geba`) is related to the word for “hill” (hu*b=G], gib`a), so there is every likelihood that Zechariah is also using paronomasia to his advantage when he speaks of making every hill flat like the Arabah. Rimmon was in the far south of Judah (Job 15:32; 19:7) and thus marked her farthest extent in that direction.781 The name may be related to that of the Semitic storm-god Rimmon, but its similarity to Hebrew hm*r` (rama), “height,” could easily lend itself to a further play on words. The whole land, from northern hill to southern height, will become level as the Arabah.

The Arabah is the southern extension of the Great Rift depression, which in Palestine runs from Lake Huleh in the north to the Gulf of Eilat in the south.782 Specifically it refers to the region of the Dead Sea southward, an area unexcelled in all the land for flatness, particularly in the basin south of the Dead Sea. All the land will be as level as the Arabah while Jerusalem towers over it.

The boundaries of the city are hinted at (v. 10) but with too little data to be able to retrace them. Benjamin’s Gate (cf. Jer. 37:13; 38:7), clearly on the north side of the city and opening toward the tribal area of Benjamin, was evidently where the king held court to pass on legal matters. The First Gate must also have existed on the north wall, for the next one named, the Corner Gate, is on a line with the Ephraim Gate, which is on the north (2 Kings 14:13).783 The Tower of Hananel, Jeremiah says, is at the opposite extremity of the city from the Corner Gate (Jer. 31:38; cf. Neh. 3:1). The wall from the Tower of Hananel ends at the royal winepresses.784

To reconstruct the outline of the gates and walls, one must begin with the known and deduce the rest. The royal winepresses were at the extreme south of the city, near the Royal Pool and Royal Gardens (Neh. 2:14; 3:15). The Tower of Hananel was on the extreme north, so a line between the two would mark the greatest length of the city. This means the Corner Gate must, in fact, be on the northwest corner. The so-called First Gate, then, must be somewhere else, possibly, as Simons suggests, to be identified with the Ephraim Gate.785 Since Jerusalem in the post-exilic period occupied an area roughly in the shape of an isosceles triangle, with its base to the north, the two corners then would be the Corner Gate and the Benjamin Gate, west and east respectively, and the third corner would be the apex in the south near the royal winepresses. The Hananel Gate would be somewhere along the northern wall, probably at the northwest corner of the Temple area.786

The purpose of this description is not so much to give the precise delineations of the eschatological city but to enable Zechariah’s own generation (and any other) to understand that the idealism of the future is rooted and grounded in the present, in actual history and geography. The God who led His people through spatial, temporal history will recreate the cosmos in those same categories.787 This is why a literal hermeneutic is essential in the absence of compelling evidence otherwise.

Within the confines just elaborated, people once more will occupy Jerusalem (v. 11). No longer will there be fear of the “ban,” for Jerusalem will from then on live in peace and safety. Reference to the “ban” (<rj@, herem) may appear strange here, for God’s people were never subject to this radical expression of His wrath in which all living things were slain and all material things destroyed or confiscated. The prophet therefore must be harking back to the days of conquest when Jerusalem, a Jebusite city, was condemned to herem (cf. Deut. 7:2; 20:17; Judg. 1:21).788 Unlike the Jebusites, God’s people, living security in Jerusalem, need never fear His wrath or that of the nations.

Additional Notes

14:10 The unusual verb form hm*a&r`w+ is a variation of the normal hm*r`w+, “she will be raised up.” It is noteworthy that this word also involves a wordplay with the place-name /oMr]. The latter will be leveled, but Jerusalem will be exalted. The Syr and Vg are certainly correct in suggesting lD^g+M!m!. The preposition evidently was lost by haplography.

      2. Their Victory Over Enemies (14:12-15)


12But this will be the plague with which YHWH will strike all the nations that have made war against Jerusalem: Their flesh will decay while they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot away in their sockets, and their tongue will melt away in their mouth. 13And there will be in that day a great confusion from YHWH among them; they will seize each other’s hands and will lay hold upon one another. 14Moreover, Judah will fight at Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered—gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance. 15Thus will be the plague upon horse, mule, camel, ass, and every animal in those camps—like that plague.

Exegesis and Exposition

In sharp contrast to the absence of herem upon God’s people is the infliction of plague upon all the peoples who have persecuted and tormented them. What YHWH administers is literally a “blow” or “strike” (hp*G}m^, maggepa, from [g~n`, nagap, “to smite”), but in its qualifying context a horrible plague or pestilence of some kind.789 The same word occurs with reference to the debilitation of the Philistines in the ark narrative (1 Sam. 6:4) and in the choices YHWH gave David when he sinned in taking the census of his armies (2 Sam. 24:21, 25). It refers also to a disease in which the “bowels fall out” because of it (2 Chron. 21:14-15), implying some kind of extreme dysentery.

Here in Zechariah it attacks both man (v. 12) and animal (v. 15), completely disabling them. Its effects are described by the same verb (qq^m*, maqaq) in three different forms. The flesh will decay (qm@h*, hameq) while the warriors are on their feet, so sudden will the onset be. The eyes will rot away (hn`q=M^T!, timmaqna) in their very sockets, and the tongue will melt (qM^T!, timmaq) in the mouth. The rapidity with which this occurs may suggest hyperbole, but certainly YHWH’s judgment, whether in spiritual or physical ways, is instantaneous in its administration and can be instantaneous in its effects as well.

As though that were not incapacitating enough, YHWH will send confusion (hm*Whm=, mehuma) among the warring nations (v. 13). The result will be a mutual decimation, for they will, in their madness, lash out at one another and thus destroy each other. Again, the ark narrative comes to mind, for after the Philistines of Gath had received the ark of the covenant from Ashdod, they experienced the plague and were thrown into confusion or discomfiture (1 Sam. 5:9).

A clearer parallel in terms of the results of the confusion—smiting one another in ignorance—is in the narrative of the battle between Saul and Jonathan, on the one hand, and the Philistines, on the other, near Beth-aven (1 Sam. 14:16-23). The historian relates that there was an uproar in the Philistine camp, so much so that they took up sword against each other in their confusion (mehuma).

The setting of this conflict, the prophet says, is Jerusalem (v. 14).790 The battle narrative here, then, is a continuation of the one already described in connection with the escape of God’s people through the valley opened up to them (vv. 4-8). Having thoroughly discomfited the enemy nations, YHWH will lead His people back to the battlefield where they will complete the defeat YHWH has already begun. Once this is done, the enormous wealth of the nations will be gathered up as the spoils of war.

The order of events thus far appears to be as follows: (1) YHWH allows the nations to attack, despoil, and deport His people in Jerusalem (vv. 1-2); (2) He comes to their defense in a triumphant march that brings with it cosmic and terrestrial transformation (vv. 3-8). (3) He defeats the hostile nations and takes their treasures as booty (vv. 12-15). (4) Jerusalem is elevated and becomes the center of YHWH’s universal reign (vv. 9-11). Thus, vv. 12-15 logically and thematically follow vv. 3-8. Lamarche suggests that the present structure reflects a chiasm, one that alone is sufficient to account for the order of events.791 His approach (somewhat abbreviated here) is as follows:

    a) “A day is coming” (1-2a)

      b) Jerusalem attacked and insecure (2a-b)

        c) “in that day” (3-5)

          d) “and it will come to pass in that day” (6)

            e) “there will be a unique day” (7a)

          d) “and it will come to pass in that day” (7b-8)

        c) “in that day” (9-10a)

      b) Jerusalem protected and secure (10b-11)

    a) “it will come to pass in that day” (12-15)

The same battle is addressed by Ezekiel who refers to the nations as Magog, Meshech, and Tubal (38:2; 39:1).792 They will come against Jerusalem but will fall upon the mountains of Israel in ignominious defeat (39:4-5). Then Judah will “plunder those who plundered them and rob those who robbed them” (v. 10). Thus the spoil of Judah that had been divided among the nations (Zech. 14:1) will be returned to them.

The “wealth of all the surrounding nations” (v. 14) calls to mind the “precious things of all nations” of Hag. 2:7, including silver and gold in both instances. The words used to designate these “precious things” are different in each case (hD*m=j#, hemda, and lyj@, hel, respectively in Haggai and Zechariah), but the silver and gold of Hag. 2:8 suggests that they are indeed the same as the spoils in Zechariah. Haggai says that these will come in the day when YHWH “shakes all nations” (2:7), a shaking accomplished in part at least by war as YHWH comes to deliver His people (cf. Joel 3:9, 12, 16 [HB 4:9. 12, 16]). It is war also that yields the “wealth of all the nations” to Jerusalem in the eschatological triumph described by Zechariah. The precious things that come in the last days come not so much as voluntary offerings but as the tribute of the defeated nations to YHWH, whom they must confess as king (v. 9).793

This brief pericope (vv. 12-15) ends as it began, with a reference to the plague that YHWH will bring upon the enemy nations. The armies will disintegrate under its impact (v. 12), and so will the animals upon which ancient armies depended (v. 15). The passage is rounded off chiastically to bring the whole section about eschatological war to an end.

      3. Their Place as a Center of Pilgrimage (14:16-21)


16It will come to be that all who are left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up annually to worship the King, YHWH of hosts, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. 17But as for the one from all the clans of earth who does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, YHWH of hosts, upon him there will be no rain. 18If the clan of Egypt will not go up and come, *it will not (fall) upon them; there will be the plague with which YHWH smites the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 20In that day there will be on the bells of the horses “Holy to YHWH.” The pots in the house of YHWH will be like the bowls before the altar. 21Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to YHWH of hosts, and all who sacrifice will come and take some of them to boil in them. There will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of YHWH of hosts in that day.

Exegesis and Exposition

Once the great conflagration that marks the beginning of YHWH’s millennial reign is over, the survivors among the nations, having of necessity come to acknowledge Him as king (v. 9), will come to Him regularly to offer Him homage. This is not to suggest that they have undergone conversion in the religious sense, for there is abundant evidence in this passage that such is not the case at all (vv. 17-19).794 Rather, the pilgrimage that is made is akin to that required of all vassals in the ancient Near Eastern world who must, on stated occasions, proffer their allegiance to the overlord and seal it with tangible tribute of taxation and other material offerings.795

This is not contradicted by the use of the verb “worship” in v. 16, for that verb (hw`j&T^v=h!, histahawa), in noncultic contexts, frequently means only to bow down or do obeisance (Gen. 43:28; Ruth 2:10; 1 Sam. 24:9; 2 Sam. 14:4; 1 Kings 1:31; 2 Kings 4:37).796 Here in Zechariah, those who come are those who were “left over rt*oNh^, hannotar) from the conflict of vv. 12-15. They have been reduced to vassalage by YHWH and must now come to bow before Him and to render the signs of their submission. This is precisely the picture in Isa. 60:4-14. “The wealth of the nations will come,” Isaiah declares (v. 5), and they will bring tribute to the altar of YHWH (v. 7). Kings will serve Him (v. 10), bowing down before Him and calling Jerusalem “the city of YHWH, the Zion of the holy one of Israel” (v. 14).797

The particular occasion of pilgrimage is the Feast of Tabernacles. This was one of the three stated times in Israel’s calendar when YHWH’s people were obligated to appear before Him at the central sanctuary (cf. Lev. 23:34-44). Its purpose was both commemorative and agricultural in intent.798 It was to celebrate YHWH’s provision for them in the wilderness journey and also to mark the end of the annual harvests. Later its significance extended beyond the observance of these events to include the Day of Atonement on the tenth day of the seventh month and the first day of the month, that is, Rosh ha-Shanah, or New Year’s Day. Thus, from the first through the twenty-second day of Tishri, the seventh month, Israel gathered in solemn assembly at Jerusalem, the whole complex of holy times being designated by the one celebration, the Feast of Tabernacles.

Though one should not go to the extremes of some scholars who view the Feast of Tabernacles as especially a time marking the enthronement of Israel’s kings,799 there is evidence that this was an occasion for some kind of recognition of the king as YHWH’s son and representative.800 It is likely that in the person of the king, YHWH would sit enthroned and receive through His earthly representative the offerings brought in tribute by the people. For the nations to observe the Feast of Tabernacles was for them to come in submission before the King of all the earth and render to Him their expressions of subservience.

One of the features of the Feast of Tabernacles was the public reading of the Torah, that is, the covenant text that bound YHWH and Israel together (Deut. 31:9-13). It is quite possible that this reading involved the king, for he was to read from it all the days of his life (Deut. 17:18-20) in order that he might remain true to its demands upon him and the nation.801 Ezra, the postexilic theocratic mediator, read the Torah publicly on the first day of the seventh month, that is, on New Year’s Day (Neh. 8:2). He then led the people in reading about the Feast of Tabernacles and officiated in its observance (Neh. 8:13-18).

Immediately following the celebration of the Feast of Tabernacles, the Levites led the assembly in a great ceremony of covenant renewal (Neh. 9:1-38) culminating in a solemn commitment by the people to reaffirm their covenant allegiance to YHWH (9:38; cf. 10:29). Thus the Feast of Tabernacles, by this time at least (c. 440 B.C.), was firmly connected to covenant remembrance and renewal at which the community leadership played a central role.802

That the Zechariah passage should also be viewed against a covenant background is evident from v. 17 where it is stated that all who fail to go up to Jerusalem to acknowledge the sovereignty of YHWH will suffer the absence of rain.803 This was a very specific covenant curse in the great covenant texts of the OT (cf. Lev. 26:4; Deut. 28:12, 24) and no doubt stands for a pars pro toto here. Because the Feast of Tabernacles was a celebration of the last great harvest, a time also associated with the “former rains,” the withholding of rain would be a particularly appropriate reminder of covenant violation.804 The vassal who withholds his tribute may expect the Great King to withhold the means of its production.

Egypt in the Bible is frequently a type of the world at large (Isa. 27:13; Rev. 11:8). Here it is not distinguished, therefore, from the nations just mentioned but appears as a synonym for them. Furthermore, Egypt was not dependent on rain for its nourishment, so it is mentioned here to ensure that no nation escapes judgment.805 Whether sustained by the showers or the Nile, the peoples who fail to submit to YHWH’s kingship will suffer the consequences. Perhaps in an ironic twist of the exodus itself, YHWH says that if Egypt does not “go up” (hl*u*, `ala) and “come” (aB), bo), it will not enjoy the refreshing floods but rather will be inflicted with “plague” (hp*G}m^, maggepa), the same word that occurs in v. 12. A related term ([g , negep) is used in the narratives of the Exodus plagues against Egypt, specifically of that which struck the people with death (Ex. 12:13). There will be both “natural” disasters and direct divine judgment on those who refuse to fulfill their roles as subject peoples.

In light of both negep as referring to the death of Egypt’s firstborn in the Exodus and the use of the cognate maggepa in Zech. 14:12, one must conclude that the idea in 14:18 is that of punishment by death. Not only Egypt, but all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles, will experience the severest repercussions. The prophet views this extreme measure not as a whimsical or arbitrary act of God but as a “punishment” (v. 19). The word here is literally “sin” (taF*j^, hattat) but by use of the metonymy of effect he speaks of the result in place of the cause.806 That is, the plague is the aftermath of sin in the sense that it is its punishment. The sin is of the most egregious kind, for in the covenant context of the passage it is nothing short of rebellion and repudiation of YHWH’s dominion.

The final unit of the chapter is enveloped by the recurring eschatological clich “in that day” (aWhh^ <oYB^, bayyom hahu) (vv. 20a, 21b), a fitting finale to this book, which has such a profound eschatological interest. One may see, in addition to this enveloping, a chiastic arrangement centering in the phrase “Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to YHWH of hosts” (v. 21a). The following schema may be helpful in seeing how the structure contributes to the focus on this idea of the lowliest and most profane becoming the holiest of all.

    A In that day

      B There will be on the bells of the horses “Holy to YHWH”

        C The pots in the house of YHWH will be like bowls before the altar

          D Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to YHWH of hosts

        C All who sacrifice will come and take some of them to boil in them

      B There will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of YHWH

    A In that day

The holy bells contrast with the unholy Canaanites; the common pots, transformed into sacred basins, will be used in Temple worship, and the despised vessels of profane use will become holy in the hands of YHWH.

The horse, though important in Israel, especially in a military capacity, was an unclean animal according to the ritual criteria (cf. Lev. 11:1-8).807 In the day of YHWH, however, they not only will be free of that onus but will wear tinkling bells or plates bearing the inscription “Holy to YHWH.” This, of course, was the inscription on the plate affixed to the miter of the high priest (Ex. 28:36-38). In the OT era he epitomized the principle of holiness, but in the age to come even the unclean animal will be radically transformed into something considered to be holy by YHWH. This is something the apostle Peter had to learn with regard to the acceptance of unclean Gentiles into the saving purpose of the Lord (Acts 10:9-16).

The pots (torys!, srot)808 were the lowliest vessels of all in the inventory of the tabernacle and Temple. They were used as receptacles for ashes (Ex. 27:3), and presumably, for other mundane purposes (Ps. 60:10 [EB 60:8]; Eccl. 7:6). In the Temple of the Millennium they will enjoy a much more exalted function, that of the bowls (<yq!r`z+m!, mizraqm) before the altar. Their connection with the altar attests to their exalted and holy purpose, but the day will come when they will be joined by their less honored fellows as holy instruments of worship.

Even more astounding, the pots of profane use, those of every household, will be transformed into holy containers for sacrifice (v. 21). Ordinarily used for household cooking (Ex. 16:3; 2 Kings 4:38), and even as a symbol for wicked Jerusalem (Ezek. 11:3; 24:3, 6), these domestic vessels, unclean by virtue of their very lack of consecration to sacred use, will be purified and made serviceable to the worship of YHWH.

Finally, Zechariah makes what appears to be a most negative conclusion to the whole matter of the secular becoming sacred when he foresees the day when there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of YHWH (v. 21b). The Canaanite, of course, symbolized what was most reprehensible to YHWH, a lifestyle and worship completely antithetical to all He intended His people to embrace. They were a cursed people (Gen. 9:25), a nation to be annihilated by the conquest of Israel (Josh. 3:10). To think of their participation in the worship of YHWH at all was scandalous, and to envision their doing so within the holy precincts of the Temple was incomprehensible. In the day of YHWH, however, all are welcome. There is, in that sense, no longer a Canaanite, for all will be the people of YHWH.809

It is impossible to improve on St. Paul’s own assessment of the transformation that will characterize that glorious day, for already in his own age, the age of the gospel that prepares the way for and makes possible the ultimate redemption of the world, he was able to say: “There can be neither Jew nor pagan, there can be neither slave nor freeman, there can be no male and female, for you all are one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28).

Additional Notes

14:18 The LXX and Syr. omit the aOw+ and read “if the clan of Egypt does not go up and come among them, there will be a plague,” etc. This alternative is attractive in that it removes the problem of the absence of rain from Egypt as a curse when, in fact, Egypt does not depend on rain for its survival in the first place. However, it seems that Egypt here stands for all the nations so that the lack of rain is significant. Moreover, the lectio difficilior of MT is presumptively in its favor. Van der Woude emends w+ ha*b* aOw+ to Wja* ba^l*w+, “the pasture will remain arid” (A. S. Van der Woude, “Sacharja 14, 18,” ZAW 97 [1985]:254-55). Were there support from ancient witnesses, this would be a most attractive resolution of the bothersome extra aO.

690 The following analysis agrees with that of Lamarche in a general way, though in details, such as the delimitation of the relevant passages, there is some difference. See P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961), 112-13, and the Introduction to this commentary, 82ff.

691 I cannot accept Hanson’s view that the reverse is the case—that chapters. 12-14 “are written from a perspective which has narrowed from the very broad international scope of the earlier Divine Warrior Hymns to a myopic concern with Judah and Jerusalem” (Paul Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic [Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975], 355). He belies his own position by subsequent reference to the universalism of this section, especially in chapter 14 (cf. pp. 374, 376-77, 378, 379, 381, 383, 386). What Hanson fails to see is that, though Judah and Jerusalem become the focus of chapters. 12-14, they do so only because it is in relationship to His own people that YHWH will at last bring about his universal dominion.

692 Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 114-15.

693 Eugene H. Merrill, “Literary Genres in Isaiah 40-55,” BSac 144 (1987):144-56.

694 Andr Lacocque, Zechariah 9-14, CAT (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981), 185-86. Lamarche points out that the creation theme at the beginning of this final oracle “nous prpare a l’branlement cosmique du c.14 d’o naissant de nouveaux cieux (14, 7) et une nouvelle terre (14, 8-10)” (“prepares us for the cosmic convulsion of chapter 14 in which are brought to birth the new heavens and a new earth”). Thus, new creation must find its roots in the original creation (Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 75).

695 Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 188-89. The word translated “cup,” [s^, has a homonym meaning “threshold” and this is the rendering in some versions, e.g., NEB: “I am making the steep approaches (lit. threshold) to Jerusalem slippery for all the nations pressing round her.” Though this has some LXX support (cf. Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 111-12), the context clearly favors the idea of a cup, particularly because this is a well-known idiom. By a series of text relocations Driver also makes a case for [s^ as threshold: Jerusalem will become “a slippery glacis for all the nations (gathered) round against Judah, and it (sc. Judah) will be (involved) in the siege (directed) against Jerusalem” (G. R. Driver, “Old Problems Re-examined,” ZAW 80 [1968]:178-79. Such handling of the text is less than persuasive.

696 The text here is very obtuse. It reads literally (v. 2b), “moreover, upon Judah will it be in the siege against Jerusalem.” It might be best, as NIV apparently does, to construe v. 2b with v. 3 and render it, “Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. (3) On that day,” etc. Cf. Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in The EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:680-81; R. Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’ Isral,” RB 81 (1974):358.

697 Lacocque refers to Isa. 8:14-15 and 28:16 for parallels. In the former God is a “stone of stumbling,” and in the latter Zion is a cornerstone; Lacocque, Sacharie 9-14, 186. Sellin draws attention to references in 2 Mac. 4:12-15 where presumably heavy stones were lifted as part of gymnastic competitions (D. Ernest Sellin, Das Zwlfprophetenbuch, [Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1922], 521). This is more an inference than anything else. The stone, in fact, is usually taken to be the discus. Cf. G. R. Driver, “Old Problems Re-examined,” 180. He cites and rejects the view of scholars who follow Jerome in making comparison with athletic contests in Jerome’s own day, c. A.D. 400.

698 Abraham J. Heschel, The Prophets (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), 395-405. As Heschel points out, the prophets of YHWH were not indeed mad as their pagan counterparts were, but at times they were accused of being so in the intensity of their inspiration and utterance.

699 Though Chary is correct in suggesting that v. 5 introduces the elevation of the Davidic royal house that finds its culmination in v. 8, he appears to overlook the fact that it is the people of Jerusalem (not the king) who inspire the national leaders, something emphasized in vv. 2-3 (Theophane Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, [Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969], 199). Tournay proposes that the final yodh on yb@v=y is a dittograph so that the line should read, “La force pour moi, o habitants de Jrusalem, est en Yahv Sabaot leur Dieu” (“My strength, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, is in Yahweh of Hosts, their God”) (Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Isral,” 360-61). This is an attractive proposal but lacks support in the versions.

700 James L. Kelso, The Ceramic Vocabulary of the Old Testament. (New Haven, Conn.: ASOR, 1948), 20. As Kelso argues, the kiyyor of Zech. 12:6 must be a pottery bowl since it contains burning charcoal with which to start a fire. Otherwise it is always made of copper. R. P. Gordon cites Targumic ?wkl (now attested also in 11 Q tg Job, col. 36, line 6) for rwyk, but offers no translation. Possibly it means “like a reed” or “like straw” (R. P. Gordon, “The Targum to the Minor Prophets and the Dead Sea Texts: Textual and Exegetical Notes,” RQum 8 [1974]:428-29.

701 Taeke Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 115.

702 See, e.g., Friedrich Horst, Die Zwlf Kleinen Propheten, HAT (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), 254. For a contrary view see Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 263.

703 Tournay cites such texts as Gen. 49:8-10; Num. 24; 1 Chron. 28:4; Pss. 18:51 [EB 18:50]; 78:68; and 89:4, 21, 50 [EB 89:3, 20, 49); Isa. 55:3; Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Isral,” 362.

704 Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 212.

705 Chary suggests that this is not a concession but that the prophet is equating the Angel with God (clearly a possibility given the apposition) and perhaps as a messianic figure such as that of Mal. 3:1 (T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 200).

706 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 190.

707 Mason’s translation “pity” for /j@ seems much too weak in that the entire subsequent context speaks of repentance (vv. 10b-14), something that is prompted by more than mere pity (Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 118). Even the translation “compassion” of D. N. Freedman and J. R. Lundbom (TDOT, 5:35, s.v. /n~j*) seems wide of the mark. It is after the spirit of grace is poured out that the people look to the pierced one and commence to mourn. Hanson sees the sequence correctly but insists on translating “pity” (P. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 356). Van Hoonacker has caught the intent, I believe, with his observation that “c’est Jahv qui rpand sur les habitants de Jerusalem l’esprit de grce et de prire; c’est vers lui, comme consquence de l’opration de cet esprit, que le peuple lve ses regards” (“it is Yahweh who pours out on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and prayer; it is towards Him, as a result of the work of this spirit, that the people lift up their eyes”) (A. Van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophtes, [Paris: Librairie Victor Lecoffre, 1908], 683).

708 Ap-Thomas takes it as epexegetical to /j@ and renders, “a spirit of favour, or rather, of supplications for favour.” This hardly affects the sense as a whole and, in fact, explains well the use of these cognate terms (D. R. Ap-Thomas, “Some Aspects of the Root HNN in the Old Testament,” JSS 2 [1957]:138).

709 Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 118 n. 56.

710 Jansma, 118, cites 38 Mss of Kennicott’s edition, and 13 Mss of de Rossi’s.

711 For an excellent presentation of the major views, see Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 190-92.

712 M. Delcor, “Un Problme de Critique Textuelle et d’Exgse,” RB 58 (1951):193-95. Winandy draws attention to a parallel in Luke 2:34-35 where the piercing clearly must be taken metaphorically (J. Winandy, “La Prophtie de Symon,” RB 72 [1965]:341-44). Winandy does not understand Zech. 12:10 this way, however.

713 This is held by the majority of scholars. See, e.g, Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. 83; Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 202; C. von Orelli, The Twelve Minor Prophets. (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1893), 366-67; A. F. Kirkpatrick, The Doctrine of the Prophets (London: Macmillan, 1901), 473.

714 Jewish tradition links Zech. 12:10 with the well-known messianic figure, the “son of Ephraim,” mentioned in 2 Esd. 7:28-31; Apoc. Baruch 29, 30, 40; Enoch 90:38; C. C. Torrey, “The Messiah Son of Ephraim,” JBL 66 (1947):253-77.

715 R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, (London: Tyndale, 1971), 83-86, 153, 154.

716 For a host of rabbinic and medieval Jewish scholars who take Zech. 12:10 messianically, see Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 191; France, Jesus and the Old Testament, 190-92. Cf. M.-J. Lagrance, Le Messianisme chez les Juifs (Paris: Librairie Victor LeCoffre, 1909), 251-56; R. Schnackenburg, “Das Schriftzitat in Joh 19, 37,” Wort, Lied und Gottesspruch, FS für Joseph Ziegler, ed. Josef Schreiner (Würzburg: Echter Verlag, 1972), 2:239-47.

717 That is, he reads “on him” rather than “on me” with MT. See Raymond E. Brown, The Gospel According to John (xiii-xxi), AB (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1970), 938.

718 As France indicates, John 19:37 concentrates on the past fact of piercing and Rev. 1:7 on its future effect. The latter passage also connects the pierced one with the parousia of the Son of Man predicted in Dan 7:13 (R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, 207).

719 Paul R. Gilchrist, TWOT, 1:372-73, s.v. dj^y`.

720 Michaelis points out that prwtovtoko" occurs 130 times in the LXX, translating rokB= 111 times (W. Michaelis, s.v. prwtovtoko", TDNT, ed. G. W. Bromiley [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1968], 6:871-82).

721 R. Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d Isral,” 369; Raphael Giveon, “‘In the Valley of Megiddon’ (Zech. xii: ii[sic],” JJS 8(1957):160; C. F. Keil, The Twelve Minor Prophets (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1871), 2:390. This interpretation is based largely on the Tg. Neb., which reads (in the English of Jansma): “Like the mourning for Ahab the son of Omri whom killed Hadadrimmon the son of Thabrimmon and like the mourning for Josiah the son of Aaron whom killed Pharaoh Hagira (the lame)” (Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 118).

722 M. Delcor, “Deux Passages Difficiles: Zach XII 11 et XI 13,” VT 3 (1953):68-69; Flemming F. Hvidbverg, Weeping and Laughter in the Old Testament (Leiden: Brill, 1962), 117-20; Jonas C. Greenfield, “The Aramean God Ramman/Rimmon,” IEJ 26 (1976):195-98.

723 Greenfield notes that Ramman had a shrine in Damascus and that King Ben-Hadad’s father, who ruled in Damascus, was named Tabrimmon. Damascus is close to Megiddo but hardly close enough to qualify as “in” the Valley of Megiddo (Greenfield, “The Aramean God Ramman/Rimmon,” 187). Tournay connects the place of lamentation with Carmel and its foothills, an area famous for the worship of Baal-Hadad (Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Isral,” 368-69).

724 Hvidberg, Weeping and Laughter in the Old Testament, 118.

725 Indeed, Delcor finds such a comparison “bien rpugner la notion de transcendance du Dieu d’Israel” (“most repugnant to the idea of the transcendance of the God of Israel”) (M. Delcor, “Deux Passages Difficiles: Zach XII 11 et XI 13,” 70). He argues, therefore, that the Tg. Neb. and Syr. readings that speak of a “Son of Amon” underlie the MT and should be retained. Thus /oMr]-dd^h& by slight emendation becomes d(y)d!y` (cf. dyj!y`, v. 10) or (more drastic) /oma*-/B#, “son of Amon.” Josiah was, of course, a son of Amon (Delcor, 72). In response, it is far more likely that the MT is correct and that Tg. Neb. and Syr. have tried to make sense of an obtuse text and at the same time avoid reference to places or persons connected with paganism.

726 Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 205.

727 Alfred Plummer, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Gospel According to S. Luke, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1905), 104.

728 R. Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Isral,” 369-70.

729 Many scholars connect 13:1 with chapter 12 and commence the next pericope with 13:2. Otzen, e.g., joins 13:1 to 12:12-14 because of a common “kultischen charakter”; Benedikt Ozten, Studien über Deuterosacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 179. It seems more likely, however, that 13:1 represents the positive side of Israel’s conversion and 13:2-6 the negative so that the two must go together.

730 See, respectively, K. Koch, TDOT, 4:310, s.v. af*j* (“religious disqualification of specific human acts and modes of conduct”); J. Milgrom and G. E. Wright, TWAT, V 1/2: cols. 251-52, s.v. hD*n] (“Unreinheit”); Milgrom and Wright suggest that hD*n] in Zech. 13:1 is a synonym of taF*j^.

731 Otzen points out that the phrase ha*m=F%h^ j^Wr is a hapax legomenon and refers here to cultic uncleanness because that is the regular meaning of ha*m=f% (cf. 6:10; Jer. 2:23; Ezek. 22:3; 23:7; Hos. 5:3); Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 195. In that case, the false prophets in view here are instrumental in leading the people into ritual defilement, an idea that finds support in the hD*n] of v. 1. In other words, they would appear to be “cult prophets” rather than “ordinary” false prophets. On the other hand, the context suggests that “unclean” cannot be taken too technically, for the prophets are described as “speaking lies” (v. 3) and wearing the “hairy garment” (v. 4), one associated not exclusively with cultic prophets. It might be better to follow Mitchell who says that the spirit of uncleanness “must be the disposition to neglect the precepts of Yahweh, or even worship the abominations of other peoples” (H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC [Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912], 337).

732 Woudstra notes the connection between the garment of Josh. 7:21 and the mantle of Elijah and says of the latter that “though made of hair it may have been a beautiful article of clothing” (Marten H. Woudstra, The Book of Joshua, NICOT [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981], 129 n. 48).

733 So also the word order. Cf. Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 227.

734 H. L. Ginsberg suggests that yn]n~q=h! <d*a* (“a man indentured me”) be emended to yn]Wqv=h! <d)a* (“I was plied with the red stuff”). His point is that this prophet has become hallucinatory because of his wild drinking, a condition that even results in physical wounds (cf. Prov. 23:29-35). The “tiller of the soil,” he says, is reminiscent of Noah (Gen. 9:20 ff.) who became drunk on his wine (H. L. Ginsberg, “The Oldest Record of Hysteria with Physical Stigmata, Zech. 13:2-6,” in Studies in the Bible and the Ancient Near East, ed. Y. Avishur and J. Blau [Jerusalem: E. Rubinstein, 1978], 23-27). Although ingenious and to be applauded for its polemic against the commonly held view that postexilic prophetism was becoming anathema, Ginsberg’s approach is highly fanciful and based on arbitrary emendation.

735 The Ugaritic Ba’al Epic offers an example:

          ylm ktp zbl ym

          bn ydm tpt nhr (CTA 2, iv:16)

          It struck the shoulders of prince Yam,
          Between the arms of Judge Nahar.

Here the parallel to shoulders (ktp) makes it clear that “between the arms” (lit. “hands”), bn ydm, refers to the chest. See J. C. L. Gibson, Canaanite Myths and Legends (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1977), 44.

736 John Gray, I & II Kings (London: SCM, 1970), 399; H. H. Rowley, “Elijah on Mount Carmel,” BJRL 43 (1960-61): 208-9; D. R. Ap-Thomas, “Elijah on Mount Carmel,” PEQ, (1960), 146-55.

737 The word yb*h&a^m= (pi. ptc. of bh@a*, “to love”) means lit., “my lovers” or “those who love me.” The gender indicates male lovers, so many scholars suggest that the prophet here is professing to have been in the pagan temple associating with fellow practitioners of the rites carried on there (cf. Jer. 22:20; Ezek. 16:33; Hos. 2:5). So Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 122. It makes more sense to take the word in a normal social sense as “friend,” however, for if the man is trying to deny his association with prophetism, why would he admit to having been in the company of false prophets whose ritual frequently involved bodily laceration?

738 For a summary of such views, see Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 192-93. Van Hoonacker takes the extreme position of arranging the “allgorie du prophete pasteur” as follows: 11:4-17 + 13:7-9 + 10:3c-12 (A. Van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophetes, 671-80).

739 So, e.g., Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8-Sacharja 9-14-Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 227-28; Van Hoonacker, previous note.

740 Lamarche shows the indispensability of 13:7-9 in its present place in his analysis of the unity of 12:10-13:9:

Quelqu’un est transperc;


Pasteur frapp par

(Someone is pierced through)


(The shepherd struck by)

deuil, purification et retour


l’pe; purification et

(mourning, purification and return)


(the sword; purification and)

Dieu (12:10-13:1)


retour Dieu (13:7-9).

(to God)


(return to God)


Idoles et faux prophetes


(Idols and false prophtes)


supprims (13:2-6)




Thus 13:7-9 serves as a counterpoint to 12:10-13:1, the whole revolving around the idea of the rejection of idolatry (P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme [Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961], 108). So also R. Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Israel,” RB 81 (1974): 372.

741 Lamarche divides the poem into two strophes, vv. 7-8 and v. 9. The first, he says, describes the chastisement that falls on the shepherd and the flock. The second describes the purification and return to God (Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 92).

742 Lacocque, quoting S. B. Frost (OT Apocalyptic), renders the term “my peer” (Andr Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, CAT [Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981], 197). He goes on to suggest (incorrectly, in our view) that this “fellow” is the high priest. This goes against the overwhelming OT evidence that “shepherd” is a royal epithet.

743 Thus Unger, Zechariah, 233. Unger (and most evangelicals), however, views the shepherd as the Messiah only, so the smiting of the shepherd is not punishment for wrong but his deliverance over to a vicarious death for sinners. The whole context of 13:1-9 can hardly sustain such a limited view.

744 R. C. Dentan, “The Book of Zechariah,” IB (Nashville: Abingdon, 1956), 6:1109-10.

745 So Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 198.

746 Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 111. Tournay, citing Isa. 56:11; Jer. 10:21; 12:10; 23:1-3; and Ezek. 34 says the text is speaking of “un mauvais pasteur qui doit payer de sa vie ses ngligences et ses fautes”; (“an evil shepherd who must pay with his own life for his negligence and shortcomings”) (Tournay, “Zacharie XII-XIV et L’Histoire d’Israel,” 372).

747 Saeb, Sacharja 9-14. Untersuchungen von Text und Form (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchen Verlag, 1969), 279; Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 193. It is important to remember, of course, that Ezekiel’s vision related primarily to the historical event of Babylonian exile, whereas Zechariah’s oracle is exclusively eschatological. One could say, however, that Ezekiel provides a typological model of a future judgment described by Zechariah.

748 Charles L. Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel (Chicago: Moody, 1969), 36-37.

749 For matters such as Matthew’s use of the LXX and his citation of the Zechariah text otherwise, see Donald A. Carson, “Matthew,” in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:540-41.

750 See Michael Fishbane, Biblical Interpretation in Ancient Israel (Oxford: Clarendon, 1985), 350-79, 501-3.

751 Lane appears to take the reference in Mark 14:27 to reflect a proverbial saying: “Even as sheep are scattered in panic when their shepherd falls, so the death of Jesus will cause the disciples to desert him” (William L. Lane, The Gospel According to Mark, NICNT [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1974], 511).

752 F. F. Bruce shows that the Zadokite document (the “Damascus Document”), which cites Zech. 13:7, suggests that the shepherd is evil (F. F. Bruce, Biblical Exegesis in the Qumran Texts [London: Tyndale, 1960], 38-39.) This, of course, cannot prove that Jesus, too, interpreted Zech. 13:7 that way, but it does show that there was some such exegetical tradition. France proposes that the shepherd in view was identified by the Qumran community as the Teacher of Righteousness who was neither a messianic figure nor evil (R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament [London: Tyndale, 1971], 177).

753 See, e.g., Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:686-87.

754 James D. Smart, The Interpretation of Scripture (London: SCM, 1961), esp. 104-15.

755 Paul D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 371-72. While one may quibble over the presuppositions that inform his language, his assessment of the material as conflict language is appropriate.

756 M. Nobile draws several parallels between Zech. 14 and Ezekiel, especially Ezek. 36-48. His objective is to clarify some of the imagery of Ezek. 37:1-14 in terms of its relevance to a New Year festival. Of interest to us is his evidence for Zechariah’s verbal and conceptual dependence on Ezekiel; Marco Nobile, “Ez 37, 1-14 come costitutivo di uno schema cultuale,” Bib 65 (1984): 481-89.

757 Unger makes these distinctions in detail. See Merrill F. Zechariah, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), pp. 238-71 passim, esp. pp. 254-55.

758 It is impossible here to do more than outline a biblical eschatology of the kingdoms. For more complete treatments, particularly (but not exclusively) from the premillennial persuasion accepted here, see J. Dwight Pentecost, Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1958); Charles C. Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody, 1965); John F. Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Findlay, Ohio: Dunham, 1959); Robert H. Gundry, The Church and the Tribulation (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973); George E. Ladd, Crucial Questions About the Kingdom of God (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957); various essays in Carl E. Armerding and W. Ward Gasque, eds., Dreams, Visions and Oracles (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977); Stanley D. Toussaint, “A Biblical Defense of Dispensationalism,” in Walvoord: A Tribute, ed. Donald K. Campbell (Chicago: Moody, 1982), pp. 81-91; Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979).

759 So Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, p. 374; cf. Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 155-56.

760 Hanson takes the verb to mean “go forth” toward Zion, not from it. This is in line with the procession of holy war in which the warrior makes triumphal entry into the holy precincts; (Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 374-75. However, the new exodus imagery is even more compelling, requiring YHWH to lead His people out of Zion and not in. There is, of course, a later triumphant return (v. 5b).

761 Theophane Chary, Agge - Zacharie, Malachie, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969), p. 211; cf. Richard D. Patterson, “The Psalm of Habakkuk,” GTJ 8 (1987): 163-94.

762 P. D. Miller, The Divine Warrior in Early Israel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ., 1973), 140-41.

763 This movement provides a typological setting for Jesus’ Olivet Discourse (Matt. 24:1—25:46), a sermon by our Lord that in many points is an exposition of Zech. 14. See Donald A. Carson, “Matthew,” in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:496-523, for a host of allusions. As Carson says, the Mount of Olives is “an appropriate site for a discourse dealing with the Parousia” (496).

764 See Magne Saeb, Sacharja 9-14. Untersuchungen von Text und Form (Neukirchen-vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1969), pp. 292, 294-95.

765 It is literally “valley of my mountains,” that is, a valley between mountains. This most likely refers to the two mountains created by the splitting of the Mount of Olives. Cf. Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 202.

766 E. H. Merrill, Kingdom of Priests: A History of Old Testament Israel (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1987), p. 383.

767 See Taeke Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 131-32; cf. Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deutero-Sacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 267-68.

768 E. Theodore Mullen, Jr. The Assembly of the Gods, (Chico, Calif.: Scholars Press, 1980), 189-94.

769 Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 132-33.

770 This was noted already by C. F. Keil, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament. The Twelve Minor Prophets (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1871), 2:405. By rendering /oaP*q! (with Q) as a noun, “frost,” rather than the verb ap*q*, “congeal, thicken,” Hanson has missed an opportunity to connect Ex. 15 with the “conflict myth” that he rightly sees elsewhere in Zech. 14 (Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 371).

771 It is also possible to take dj*a# <oy as “unique day,” that is, one of a kind, one known only to God and never in human experience. See A. Van Hoonacker, Les Douzes Petits Prophetes, (Paris: Librairie Victor Lecoffre, 1908), p. 689. Chary suggests that “known only to God” means that the day is predetermined by God and so known only to Him (cf. Matt. 24:36) (T. Chary, Agge - Zacharie, Malachie, 215).

772 Hanson has caught the binary nature of the Urzeit and Endzeit nicely in his discussion of vv. 6-9 as recreation (Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 376-79).

773 William L. Holladay, Jeremiah 1, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1986), 92.

774 Charles L. Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel, (Chicago: Moody, 1969), pp. 233-39; John B. Taylor, Ezekiel, TOTC (London: Tyndale, 1969), 253-54; Walther Eichrodt, Ezekiel: A Commentary (London: SCM, 1970), 530-31; John W. Wevers, Ezekiel: The Century Bible (London: Nelson, 1969), 295-96; G. A. Cooke, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Ezekiel, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1936), pp. 425-27; Keith W. Carley, The Book of the Prophet Ezekiel, CBC (London: Cambridge, 1974), 267; R. G. Hamerton-Kelly, “The Temple and the Origins of Jewish Apocalyptic,” VT 20 (1970): 5.

775 Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel, 271; Walther Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 513, 15.

776 Zimmerli, Ezekiel 2, 515.

777 So G. Braulik, Deuteronomium 1-16, 17, KAT (Wurzburg: Echter Verlag, 1986), 55-56; P. C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), 168-69; G. von Rad, Deuteronomy: A Commentary, OTL (London: SCM, 1966), 63; J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy, TOTC (London: Tyndale, 1974), 121-22. Gordon now cites evidence from Ebla attesting to the otherwise well-known notion of describing the chief deity as “number one” (Cyrus H. Gordon, “Eblaitica,” in Eblaitica: Essays on the Ebla Archives and Eblaite Language, ed. Cyrus H. Gordon, Cary A. Rendsburg, Nathan H. Winter [Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1987], 25).

778 Hanson expresses the emphasis on YHWH’s oneness in v. 9 as “the resolution of the pairs of opposites” of vv. 6-8. That is, the old order, having been vanquished and redeemed by YHWH, will merge with the new in a harmonious whole (Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 379).

779 Unger takes it in both senses, the physical elevation of Jerusalem suggesting its spiritual eminence (Unger, Zechariah, 260).

780 Aharoni argues that even though Geba (now Jeba’) was somewhat south of the border of Judah in Josiah’s time, as an administrative center it marked the major northern extent of the kingdom (Yohanan Aharoni, The Land of the Bible [London: Burns & Oates, 1966], 350-51).

781 Kallai identifies Rimmon (or En-Rimmon) as or near H. Umm-er-Ramamm, c. 10 km. south of Tell Beit Mirsim; Zecharia Kallai, Historical Geography of the Bible (Jerusalem: Magnes, 1986), 357.

782 For an excellent overview, see Denis Baly, The Geography of the Bible (London: Lutterworth, 1957), 191-209, esp. 206-9.

783 J. Simons argues plausibly that the “First Gate” is identical to the “Ephraim Gate,” between the Gate of Benjamin on the east and the Corner Gate on the West (J. Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament [Leiden: Brill, 1952], 277-78).

784 Simons emends El#M#h^ yb@q=y], “royal winepresses,” to El#M#h^ yr@b=q!, “royal sepulchers,” on no other grounds than the fact that the royal winepresses are mentioned only here in the OT. That does not seem convincing, especially in light of the univocal textual support for “winepresses” (Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament, 208 n. 2).

785 See n. 29.

786 Simons, Jerusalem in the Old Testament, 231.

787 Lacocque correctly draws attention to the covenant promises involved here (cf. v. 11) when he takes note of the delineations of the walls and towers as an expression of “la nouvelle assurance du caractere inexpugnable de la Ville” (“a fresh assurance of the impregnable nature of the city”) (Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 210).

788 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 204-5.

789 H. Preuss, TWAT, V, 1/2: cols. 229-30, s.v. [g~n`.

790 The phrase <]l*v*WryB!, “in Jerusalem,” should normally be translated “against Jerusalem,” in connection with the verb <j^l=n] (“made war”). However, the context here makes it clear that Judah is joined with Jerusalem in battle, probably in or near the city. Chary reviews the problem and concludes that the preposition b should be taken in the “sens local.” He does, however, reject the reference to Judah as part of the original text (Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 218-19). The Targums suggest that the surrounding peoples compel Judah to attack Jerusalem, the same understanding they have of 12:2; Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 138. Cf. G. R. Driver, “Old Problems Re-examined,” ZAW 80 (1968):182. Driver thinks the preposition is ambiguous (as opposed to lu^, for example) because Judah, though intent on fighting the enemy, might by accident attack fellow Jews.

791 P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961), 11.

792 C. Feinberg, The Prophecy of Ezekiel, 218-19; Taylor, Ezekiel, 243. Chary notes the common use by Zechariah (14:12, 13) and Ezekiel (38:21-22) of the terms hp*G}m^ (“plague”) and hm*Whm= (“panic”) and says that their use by Ezekiel “a inspir notre auteur” (“has inspired our author”), i.e., Zechariah; Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 218).

793 That the offerings are involuntary is intimated at least by the verb form [S^a%, “gathered.” This is the pu. of [s^a*, a term that elsewhere refers to forced gatherings (cf. Isa. 24:22; 33:4; Ezek. 38:12; Hos. 10:10). Elliger draws attention to a similar pillaging in Ezek. 39:10, a passage, as we noted, that describes the same eschatological battle (K. Elliger, Die Propheten Nahum, Habakuk, Zephania, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, ATD [Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982], 184).

794 Unger takes <y]oGh^-lK*m! rt*oNh^ (“everyone left of all the nations”) in v. 16 to refer to the converted, whereas the disobedient of vv. 17-19 are the unconverted. He offers no evidence for this use of rt*on except the fact that they worship YHWH (Unger, Zechariah, 265).

795 Paul Kalluveettil, Declaration and Covenant, AnBib 88 (Rome: Biblical Institute, 1982), 27; Dennis J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant, AnBib. 21 A (Rome: Biblical Institute, 1978), 104, 126, 132, 150, 287-88. Cf. ANET, 203.

796 H. Preuss, TDOT, 4 248-56, s.v. hwj.

797 Westermann correctly sees that this passage has nothing to do with the salvation of the nations. Rather, he says, “The aliens will rebuild the walls of Zion and their kings be obliged to serve Israel” (Claus Westermann, Isaiah 40-66: A Commentary [London: SCM, 1969], 360).

798 Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel, (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), 2:495-502.

799 So especially Sigmund Mowinckel, The Psalms in Israel’s Worship (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1962), 1:118-22.

800 J. de Fraine, L’Aspect Religieux de la Royaut Isralite, AnBib 3 (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1954), 132-36.

801 For ancient Near Eastern parallels see J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy, 206.

802 Harrelson emphasizes this point and sees Zech. 14:16-21 as an expression of covenant observance, albeit involuntarily, on the part of the unconverted nations (Walter Harrelson, “The Celebration of the Feast of Booths According to Zech. XIV 16-21,” in Religions in Antiquity, ed. J. Neusner [Leiden: Brill, 1968], 88-96).

803 Though one may reject his general “myth and ritual” approach, Aubrey Johnson properly connects the withholding of rain in v. 17 with failure to observe the Feast of Tabernacles (Aubrey R. Johnson, Sacral Kingship in Ancient Israel [Cardiff: Univ. of Wales, 1955], 49-52).

804 Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” The EBC, ed. by Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:696.

805 So Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8-Sacharja 9-14-Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 239.

806 K. Koch, TDOT, 4:309-19, s.v. af*j*. As Koch puts it, “chattath means not only the evil deed, but also the associated consequences” (p. 312).

807 Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 215. Lacocque draws attention to the same theme in Isa. 66:20.

808 James L. Kelso, The Ceramic Vocabulary of the Old Testament, BASOR Supp. 5-6 (New Haven, Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1948), 27. Kelso notes in reference to our passage that “sr is the generic term used for all the ceramic cooking-pots of Jerusalem in contrast to mizraq, the generic term for the metal bowls used at the altar:—the secular vs. the sacred.”

809 The view of many scholars that “Canaanite” should be rendered “merchant” or “trader” here (so, e.g., Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 133), though possible semantically, is deficient in that it is unlikely that a merchant would be singled out from among all trades and professions as disqualified to worship. The point is that no one is disqualified, hence there will no longer be such a person as a “Canaanite.” Lacocque understands this as a possibility, though apparently does not favor it (Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 215).

Related Topics: Dispensational / Covenantal Theology, Prophecy/Revelation

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