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Zechariah 14

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
The Day of the Lord The Final Warfare and the Final Victory Jerusalem and the Nations The Eschatological Battle; the Splendor of Jerusalem
14:1-2 14:1-5 14:1-5 14:1-5
14:3-7      
  14:6-7 14:6-7 14:6-11
14:8-11 14:8 14:8-9  
  14:9    
  14:10-11 14:10-11  
14:12-15 14:12-15 14:12 14:12-15
    14:13-14  
The Nations Worship the King   14:15  
14:16-19 14:16-19 14:16-19 14:16-19
14:20-21 14:20-21 14:20-21 14:20-21

READING CYCLE THREE (see "Guide to Good Bible Reading")

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

CONTEXTUAL INSIGHTS

A. There have been many interpretations of this chapter. There are two extremes.

1. to take it very literally as national Israel

2. to spiritualize it to fit the church exclusively

 

B. We must assert that this section, chapters 9-14, is very Messianic. As chapters 1-8 are quoted most often by John in the Revelation, so chapters 9-14 are quoted most often in the Gospels. Yet, the entire book points toward the end-time. It seems that the OT authors used past and current events to overshadow future events. When the last generation comes I think that this prophecy and all prophecy will be more easily understood.

 

C. Although, as historical-grammatical interpreters, we look closely at the text, we must remember that Christ is the focus of the OT. These passages are very Messianic, even though the historical setting is ambiguous.

 

D. It is obvious that God is still involved in national Israel. Their repentance and faith is coming (cf. Rom. 9-11). The Church, in many ways, has supplemented, complemented, and fulfilled Israel's initial task, which was to be a kingdom of priests to bring all humans to YHWH through the Messiah (cf. Gen. 3:15; 12:3; 18:18; Exod. 19:4-6; I Pet. 2:5,9; Rev. 1:6).

 

E. Be careful of being too dogmatic concerning your personal interpretation. Often we are overly influenced by theories which are current in our day.

 

F. Chapter 14 is a picture of the sons of God's victory in history (cf. Rev. 11:15). It is not as Messianic as chapters 10-13. The Father is the focus and the ideal age is the setting. However, OT functions, as well as titles for God, are transferred to the Son. This apocalyptic literature is an idealized future scene in terms of ancient Israel's capital.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:1-5
 1Behold, a day is coming for the Lord when the spoil taken from you will be divided among you. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city will be captured, the houses plundered, the women ravished and half of the city exiled, but the rest of the people will not be cut off from the city. 3Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, as when He fights on a day of battle. 4In that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which is in front of Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley, so that half of the mountain will move toward the north and the other half toward the south. 5You will flee by the valley of My mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel; yes, you will flee just as you fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all the holy ones with Him!

14:1 This is a summary of the entire chapter which emphasizes God's fighting on behalf of His people. In this chapter His people are depicted as ancient Israel. God judged them and dispersed them, but now He restores their losses (cf. Isa. 53:12) and their place (i.e. Promised Land).

"a day is coming for the Lord" The "day of the Lord" is a common theme of chapters 12-14, but this phrase has an added Hebrew PREPOSITION "of" (BDB 750 #5), which denotes that the day is His day!

The VERB (BDB 97, KB 112, Qal ACTIVE PARTICIPLE) denotes an approach or arrival. YHWH will be publicly acknowledged as King and victor (cf. v. 9).

"you" This is FEMININE SINGULAR referring to Jerusalem (cf. v. 2).

14:2 "For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle" Notice the emphasis is on God's control of history (cf. v. 9; 12:2,3,6,9; Ps. 2; Isa. 8:9-10; 17:12-14; Ezek. 38-39; Joel 3:9-17; Rev. 16:14-16; 19:17-19).

▣ "the city will be captured" The VERB (BDB 539, KB 530) is a Niphil PERFECT. This final, ultimate confrontation between the kingdoms of this world and the kingdom of our God will result in the partial fall of Jerusalem (cf. 13:8). This fall is described in vivid terms from Jerusalem's past experience with conquering invaders. However, a remnant will remain (in 13:8 only 1/3, but here 1/2). This is a stark contrast to the divine protection promised in 12:1-9.

14:3 YHWH fights on behalf of His people as He did in the exodus from Egypt and the conquest and settlement of Canaan.

In an eschatological sense God is depicted as once-and-for-all fighting on behalf of His people and setting up a new order (cf. Ps. 2; Isa. 2:2-4; Ezek. 38-39; Zech. 14; also in intertestamental, apocalyptic literature, I Enoch 56:5-8 and IV Ezra 13:1-13,25-53; and in the NT in Rev. 20:7-9.

14:4 "And in that day His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives" The PRONOUN anthropomorphically reflects YHWH (cf. "LORD" of vv. 1,3,5 and PRONOUN of v. 2a). However, the Messiah often takes on the titles and functions of the Father. In context, this chapter is oriented toward God the Father.

▣ "the Mount of Olives will be split in its middle from east to west by a very large valley" The Mount of Olives is a 2½ mile ridge running to the east of Jerusalem and culminates in the city of Bethany. Apparently this earth-shaking event will occur for two purposes: (1) the return of the Lord to do battle for His people and (2) a way of escape for the remnant that are still left in the city.

This splitting will be for (1) the remnant to flee (cf. v. 5) and (2) the water of life to flow (cf. v. 8; 13:1; Ps. 46:4; Ezek. 47:1-12; Rev. 22:1).

14:5

NASB"And you will flee by the valley of My mountains"
NKJV"then you shall flee through My mountain valley"
NRSV"and you shall flee by the valley of the Lord's mountain"
TEV"You will escape through the valley that divides the mountain in two"
NJB"the valley between the hills will be filled"

There has been much confusion in the translation of this verse. The word "flee" occurs three times in v. 5 (BDB 630, KB 681, Qal PERFECTS), but the ancient translations fluctuate the translation from "flee" to "you shall be stopped" (BDB 711) The Masoretic Text is followed by the Peshitta and the Vulgate, while the Septuagint and Symmachus' translation follow the Aramaic Targums.

NASB"Azel"
NKJV, NRSV"Azal"
TEV----
NJB"Jasol"

This seems to refer to a city, possibly also mentioned in Micah 1:11 ("Beth-ezel"), which shows the terminus of this supernaturally-made valley (cf. NRSV).

▣ "the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah" Josephus (Antiq. 9.225) links it with II Chr. 26:16-23, when Uzziah offered a sacrifice and was struck with leprosy. This same earthquake is referred to in Amos 1:1 (i.e. 750 b.c.). This may imply that an earthquake will form the valley, but this is not a certainty. Earthquakes are used to describe God's presence in judgment (cf. Isa. 29:6; Ezek. 38:19).

▣ "the Lord. . .will come and all the holy ones" This refers to YHWH's coming with angels (cf. Deut. 33:2-3). Angels are called holy ones in Job 5:1; 15:5; Ps. 89:5,7; Dan. 8:13. The term "holy" is also used of believers in the OT (cf. Ps. 16:3; 34:9; Isa. 4:3; Dan. 7:18,21,22,25,27; 8:24). In the NT it refers to Jesus' Second Coming and may include angels and believers (cf. Matt. 16:27; 25:31; Mark 8:38; II Thess. 1:7; Rev. 19:14).

▣ "with Him" The Masoretic Text has "with You," which may refer to Jerusalem (FEMININE SINGULAR, cf. v. 1).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:6-7
 6In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle. 7For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord, neither day nor night, but it will come about that at evening time there will be light.

14:6

NASB"In that day there will be no light; the luminaries will dwindle"
NKJV"there will be no light, the lights will diminish"
NRSV"on that day there shall not be either cold or frost"
TEV"when the time comes, there will no longer be cold or frost"
NJB"that Day, there will be no light, but only cold and frost"

The Septuagint and the Vulgate interpret the last phrase as "no cold and ice" (cf. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol. 3, pp. 952, 995). However, the eschatological context may refer to the dwindling light (BDB 21) of the heavenly bodies (cf. Isa. 13:10; 24:23; 60:19; Jer. 4:23; Ezek. 32:7,8; Joel 2:31; 3:15; Matt. 24:29; Acts 2:19).

The second Hebrew phrase has two words: (1) "precious," "rare," "splendid," "weighty" (BDB 429) and (2) "thicken," "condense," "congeal" (BDB 891, KB 1117, Qal IMPERFECT). The NASB footnote has "glorious ones will congeal."

14:7 "For it will be a unique day which is known to the Lord" This possibly refers to Matt. 24:36 and reenforces the understanding that this section refers to God the Father. The uniqueness may be that there is no more night (cf. TEV).

▣ "at evening time there will be light" God's presence provides continual light (cf. Isa. 60:19,20; Rev. 21:25; 22:5), as it did before the creation of the sun, stars, and moon (cf. Gen. 1:3-5 versus 1:14-19).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:8
 8And in that day living waters will flow out of Jerusalem, half of them toward the eastern sea and the other half toward the western sea; it will be in summer as well as in winter.

14:8 "living waters will flow out of Jerusalem" This seems to be used in the sense of life-giving, supernatural waters (cf. Gen. 2:10), which issue not only in physical bounty, but also in spiritual bounty. These waters are often referred to in the Bible (cf. Ps. 46:4; Isa. 33:21-23; 49:10; Ezek. 47:1-12; Joel 3:18; John 4:13-15; 6:35; 7:37-38; Rev. 22:1,2 and in a negative way in Jer. 2:13; Zech. 9:11). Jerusalem, because of YHWH's presence, is the center of all creation. The King is enthroned there!

▣ "the eastern sea. . .the western sea" This refers to the Dead Sea (which will no longer be dead!) and the Mediterranean Sea.

▣ "it will be in summer as well as in winter" In Palestine there are really only two seasons. This verse implies continual water, which is not related to the seasonal changes. This whole context speaks of a new natural order which is not dependent on regular cycles of nature.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:9
 9And the Lord will be king over all the earth; in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one.

14:9 "the Lord will be king" This continues the motif of YHWH as King of the earth (cf. 14:16,17; I Sam. 8:7; 12:12; Ps. 93:1; 97:1; 99:1). In 9:9 it is the Messiah who is king (cf. Isa. 9:6-7; Jer. 10:7; 23:5). YHWH does not become King. He has always been King, but now all humans recognize it (cf. Matt. 6:10).

▣ "over all the earth" Here is the continuing theme of the universal reign of God (cf. v. 16; Ps. 22:27-28; 47:8-9; Isa. 2:2-4; 45:2-3).

▣ "in that day the Lord will be the only one, and His name the only one" This is an emphasis on monotheism (cf. Exod. 8:10; 9:14; Deut. 4:35,39; 6:4-5; 33:26; I Sam. 2:2; II Sam. 22:32; I Kgs. 8:23; Ps. 86:8; Isa. 46:9; Jer. 10:6-7).

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:10-11
 10All the land will be changed into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem; but Jerusalem will rise and remain on its site from Benjamin's Gate as far as the place of the First Gate to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king's wine presses. 11People will live in it, and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.

14:10 "All the land will be changed into a plain from" This supernatural altering of the earth's terrain has been interpreted in several ways: (1) as a theological symbol of the holiness of the area; (2) as universal access to the place where God dwells; or (3) as the equal distribution of this living water to all people. Some see an allusion to this topographical preparation in Isa. 40:4.

▣ "Geba" This is a city located six miles north of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in II Kgs. 23:8. Its name means "height." It was the northern boundary of Judah (cf. Josh. 18:24).

"Rimmon south of Jerusalem" This village is mentioned several times in the OT (cf. Josh. 15:32; 19:7; and Neh. 11:29), but its exact location is uncertain. It was in the tribal allocation of Simeon. It is not the same as Rimmon mentioned in Josh. 19:13, which was in the tribal allocation of Zebulun.

"Jerusalem will rise" This topological rising (BDB 926 or 910, KB 1163, Qal PERFECT) of the city above its surrounding area was predicted by Isa. 2:2 and Micah 4:1, which are both eschatological passages that predict the nations will come in great numbers to YHWH in Jerusalem (cf. 8:20-23). Is this symbolic of access to God or is it an actual physical modification of Judah? Other prophets speak of a completely new and permanent earth (cf. Isa. 65:17; 66:22). This tension is one reason (along with expecting all prophecies relating to Israel's geographical promises to be literally fulfilled) that many see an earthly kingdom (millennium, Rev. 20:1-6) before the eternal kingdom (cf. Dan. 7:13; Rev. 21-22). My problem is that no NT writer reaffirms these national, geographical promises. Jesus even asserts that true worship is not connected to any mountain (cf. John 4:20-26).

"and remain on its site" The VERB (BDB 442, KB 444) is a Qal PERFECT. This verse is very specific. Although all of the sites and gates within the city are now uncertain, it is obvious that it refers to the entire city of Jerusalem. Jerusalem is secure (cf. 12:6; Jer. 30:18).

14:11 "And people will live in it, and there will be no more curse" The curse mentioned may have several origins: (1) the curse of Gen. 3:17, which is related to mankind's sin; (2) the curse of Deut. 28, which is related to Israel's breaking the covenant (cf. Zech. 8:18 and Rev. 22:3); or (3) the curse of complete destruction (i.e. Jericho, cf. Josh. 6:17,21; Jer. 25:9). It is obvious that Jerusalem will be densely populated, which was a change from the prevailing attitude of Zechariah's own day (cf. Neh. 7:4; 11:1-2).

This "no more curse" is picked up in Rev. 22:3.

"for Jerusalem will dwell in security" This VERB (BDB 442, KB 444, Qal PERFECT #4) has the meaning of "abide in its place" (cf. 2:8; 9:5; 14:11; Lev. 26:5; Jer. 23:6; Ezek. 28:26; 34:25-31; 38:8). They are secure (BDB 105) and dwell in the land because YHWH and His Messiah (cf. Isa. 7:14) dwell with them!

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:12-15
 12Now this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples who have gone to war against Jerusalem; their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongue will rot in their mouth. 13It will come about in that day that a great panic from the Lord will fall on them; and they will seize one another's hand, and the hand of one will be lifted against the hand of another. 14Judah also will fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered, gold and silver and garments in great abundance. 15So also like this plague will be the plague on the horse, the mule, the camel, the donkey and all the cattle that will be in those camps.

14:12 "Now this will be the plague" God will defeat the nations (cf. vv. 2-3) by a means (i.e. plague BDB 620) which He had employed earlier in His defense of Jerusalem against Sennacherib in 701 b.c. (cf. II Kgs. 19:35; Isa. 37:36). This may be a reference to Deut. 28:20-24, which is now turned against Israel's enemies (e.g. Deut. 28:7; Ps. 89:22-24).

▣ "the Lord will strike" This VERB (BDB 619, KB 669, Qal IMPERFECT) is often used of God's defense of His people (but there are exceptions, cf. Exod. 21:22; Ps. 91:12; Pro. 3:23).

14:13 "a great panic from the Lord will fall on them" This is another supernatural means whereby the army of the nations will fall. They will simply destroy themselves (cf. Exod. 15:16; 23:27; Jdgs. 7:22; I Sam. 14:15-20; II Chr. 20:22-23; Hag. 2:22). Confusion (BDB 223) of the enemies of YHWH is part of the Day of the Lord (cf. Deut. 7:23; 28:20; Isa. 22:5).

14:14 "and Judah also will fight at Jerusalem" The VERB (BDB 535, KB 526) is a Niphil IMPERFECT. The PREPOSITION "at" (i.e. place) is also used in the NIV, while the RSV changes it to "against" (cf. Vulgate, Targums). The same PRONOUN is translated "against" in v. 3.

"the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered" The VERB (BDB 62, KB 74) is a Pual PERFECT. See verse 1.

14:15 This information seems out of place. It should go with the plague on humans mentioned in v. 12. It seems to refer to the complete destruction of this invading army's military capabilities.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:16-19
 16Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 17And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, there will be no rain on them. 18If the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, then no rain will fall on them; it will be the plague with which the Lord smites the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19This will be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all the nations who do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.

14:16 "any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts" This magnifies the eternal redemptive plan of God. This could mean (1) that some few soldiers survived or (2) that some from the nations they represent survived, but those of the nations who are left will be converted (cf. 8:20-23)! There is an allusion to the world-wide annual worship in Isa. 2:2-4 (cf. Isa. 66:19-24).

▣ "to celebrate the Feast of Booths" This feast is described in Lev. 23:34-44 and Deut. 16:13-17. Foreigners were welcome to participate (cf. Deut. 16:14). It was basically a time for (1) thanksgiving for the harvest; (2) God's provision for the poor; and (3) a time for reading the Torah (cf. Neh. 8:14-18). The mention of living waters in 8:14 and their use in John 7, during the Feast of Tabernacles (Booths), seems to be significant. During the Feast of Tabernacles several ceremonies pointed toward this living water as a symbol of spiritual strength.

14:17-19 "there will be no rain on them" All of the remaining pagans seem to be converted to faith in YHWH at this eschatological period. Any who refuse to come and worship at least annually are cursed with the plague of Deut. 28:22-24. Egypt had seen the plagues of YHWH before! It is surprising that some nations may not come. It is possible to interpret this as "not everyone is fully converted to faith in Christ." Some see this as characteristic of the millennium of Rev. 20:1-6.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:14:20-21
 20 In that day there will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, "HOLY TO THE LORD." And the cooking pots in the Lord's house will be like the bowls before the altar. 21Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts; and all who sacrifice will come and take of them and boil in them. And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day.

14:20,21 "In that day there will be inscribed. . .'Holy to the Lord'" These two verses describe human society that has now become entirely sanctified and holy. This can be seen by the insignia which was originally on the turban of Aaron, the high priest (cf. Exod. 28:36), and now on the eschatological High Priest (cf. Zech. 3:9, is also on the common things and people). The different aspects of society which were affected are (1) the bells of the horses; (2) the cooking pots in the Lord's house; and (3) the cooking pots in the homes of the people of Jerusalem and Judea (who are now partakers of the holy food of the temple; joint heirs with the Levites and priests).

14:21 "And there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts in that day" The term "Canaanite" (NASB, NKJV, NIV) can refer to any unholy person not included in the covenant people, but there should not be any of these remaining. Therefore, many translators interpret this term as "merchant" (BDB 489 II, i.e. one who weighs out gold and silver, cf. Prov. 31:24; Isa. 23:8; Ezek. 16:29; 17:4; Hos. 12:7) and this is how it is used in the NT of money changers and sellers in the court of the Gentiles in the temple (cf. Matt. 21:12-13; Mark 11:15-17; Luke 19:45-46; John 2:13-16).

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary, which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought-provoking, not definitive.

1. Will this chapter be fulfilled literally or symbolically? Why?

2. Is this chapter apocalyptic literature and if so, what does that imply in its interpretation?

3. Relate the significant themes of chapter 12-14 and compare them with a reference Bible throughout the Old Testament.

4. Is this chapter Messianic or YHWH oriented? Why?

5. How and why is Zechariah's prophecy so influential on NT writers?