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Zechariah 9

 

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Israel Defended Against Enemies The Restoration of Israel; the Day of the Lord
(9:1-11:17)
Judgment on Neighboring Nations The New Promised Land
9:1-8 9:1-8 9:1-4 9:1-8
    9:5-8  
The Coming King The Prince of Peace The Future King The Royal Savior
9:9-10 9:9-10 9:9-10 9:9-10
God Will Save His People The Ingathering of Dispersed Israelites The Restoration of God's People The Restoration of Israel
9:11-13 9:11-13 9:11-13 9:11-17
9:14-17 9:14-15 9:14-15  
  9:16-17 9:16-17  

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 INSIGHT

A. This begins a new section of the book. Zechariah 9:2-11:3 is in a poetic format (NASB, NKJV, NRSV, NJB). As chapters 1- 8 are dated specifically and the author is specified (cf. 1:1), chapters 9-14 are undated and the author's name is not mentioned. This pattern is common in the prophetic books (cf. Isa. 1-39 and 40-66; Ezek. 1-39 and 40-48; Dan. 1-6 and 7-12).

 

B. Chapters 1-8 are quoted often in the book of the Revelation, while chapters 9-14 are quoted often in the Gospels. Zechariah had an important theological message which still has relevance.

 

C. This chapter, so it seems to me, depicts God as invading Palestine from the north in an eschatological sense. His invasion is for spiritual renewal and reunification, not only of Judah and Israel, but also the surrounding ancient enemies (Hadrach, Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia).

 

D. It is possible from this passage to see YHWH coming in judgment in vv. 1, 4-8. Many commentators see these verses as referring to Alexander's conquest of Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia, but his sparing of Jerusalem in the early 330's b.c. If this is so then v. 1 involves all men of the area watching the coming of Alexander as God's instrument of judgment.

 

E. In his commentary on Zechariah H. C. Leupold assumes that vv. 1-10 reflect the conquest of Alexander the Great of Palestine in the 330's b.c., while vv. 11-17 reflect the Maccabean period, 168-165 b.c. The historical setting is uncertain; possibly it is a prophetic collage of:

1. the past

2. the post-exilic present

3. the eschatological future.

 

F. There are dramatic theological-historical paradoxes in this chapter.

1. destruction of the surrounding nations versus their inclusion in the covenant people

2. the reference to peace in vv. 8-10 versus a great war of vv. 13-15

3. the first coming of the Messiah in v. 9 versus the second coming of the Messiah in v. 10.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:9:1-10
 1The burden of the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach, with Damascus as its resting place (for the eyes of men, especially of all the tribes of Israel, are toward the Lord),
  2And Hamath also, which borders on it;
 Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
  3For Tyre built herself a fortress
 And piled up silver like dust,
 And gold like the mire of the streets.
  4Behold, the Lord will dispossess her
 And cast her wealth into the sea;
 And she will be consumed with fire.
  5Ashkelon will see it and be afraid.
 Gaza too will writhe in great pain;
 Also Ekron, for her expectation has been confounded.
 Moreover, the king will perish from Gaza,
 And Ashkelon will not be inhabited.
  6And a mongrel race will dwell in Ashdod,
 And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
  7And I will remove their blood from their mouth
 And their detestable things from between their teeth.
 Then they also will be a remnant for our God,
 And be like a clan in Judah,
 And Ekron like a Jebusite.
  8But I will camp around My house because of an army,
 Because of him who passes by and returns;
 And no oppressor will pass over them anymore,
 For now I have seen with My eyes.
  9Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion!
 Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem!
 Behold, your king is coming to you;
 He is just and endowed with salvation,
 Humble, and mounted on a donkey,
 Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
  10I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim
 And the horse from Jerusalem;
 And the bow of war will be cut off.
 And He will speak peace to the nations;
 And His dominion will be from sea to sea,
 And from the River to the ends of the earth.

9:1

NASB, NKJV"The burden"
NRSV"An Oracle"
TEV"message"
NJB"a proclamation"

This Hebrew term (BDB 672) is used in several senses.

1. a load or burden carried by a donkey or camel (e.g. Isa. 46:1-2), metaphorical for people (e.g. Num. 11:11,17; Deut. 1:12)

2. Levites carrying the tabernacle (e.g. Num. 4:15,19,24,27,49) and, in worship, possibly Levitical singers lifting their voices

3. a prophetic utterance (e.g. Isa. 14:28; Jer. 23:33,34,38; Ezek. 12:10; Zech. 9:2; 12:1; Mal. 1:1)

Zechariah had a message from God he had to deliver. There was a sense of urgency.

"against" This is one of the meanings of this Hebrew PREPOSITION (BDB II 89, e.g. Gen. 16:12; I Sam. 3:9). The negative connotation to vv. 1-2 is supported by vv. 3-7. However, it is not the most common usage and probably if this was the author's intent, another Hebrew PREPOSITION would have been used (cf. USB, Handbook, pp. 229-230). Verses 1-2 seem very positive. YHWH's message was not only to Judah, but also to the surrounding nations. It was a message of hope and forgiveness (cf. vv. 2,10).

▣ "Hadrach" Verses 1-4 deal with the northernmost geographical areas of the Promised Land (cf. Num. 34:1-12). This chapter depicts a spiritual invasion by YHWH beginning in the north and moving south. This first term, Hadrach, appears only here in the OT. It referred to: (1) a district near Damascus or (2) a city in North Syria mentioned in the Assyrian documents.

▣ "Damascus" This was the capital of Syria, Israel's traditional northern enemy (cf. Jer. 49:23-27).

"as its resting place" This Hebrew term (BDB 629) could mean that (1) YHWH's word is focused on His people's enemies or (2) YHWH's word was resting or abiding in Damascus.

The term does not have a negative connotation (e.g. II Sam. 14:17; Isa. 32:18). It is even used of God's resting place in II Chr. 6:41 and Ps. 132:8. It is also used in connection with the nations coming to YHWH in Isa. 11:10.

NASB, NKJV,
NIV"for the eyes of men"
NRSV, REB"the capital of Aram"
TEV"the capital of Syria"
NJB"for the source of Aram"
NAB"for the cities of Aram"
JPSOA"for all men's eyes"

This phrase is literally "the eye of man" ("Adam" BDB 9). The focus and attention of (1) all human creation will be on the covenant-making God, as well as His covenant people (cf. 8:20-23); (2) YHWH's care and desire for all humans to know Him and serve Him (cf. v. 10); or (3) the inhabitants of the ancient Near East, especially Palestine, are on Alexander the Great's conquest, as he was an instrument in the hand of God (The Expositor's Bible Commentary, vol. 7, pp. 657-658).

The NRSV and TEV translations require textual changes to arrive at their wording (Adam to Aram with the addition of "cities of").

9:2 The NKJV adds the word "against" from v. 1 here (twice) assuming the context refers to punishment, but TEV links this verse with the phrase "belong to the Lord" (cf. NJB, v. 1) and thereby turns it into an affirmation of YHWH's love for the nations. The context, especially v. 4, favors NKJV's understanding.

"Hamath" This is a city in the northern part of the Promised Land, which is mentioned in II Kgs. 14:28. It is often depicted as the northern-most limit of God's geographical covenant with Abraham (cf. Num. 13:21; 34:1-12; Josh. 13:5; Jdgs. 3:3).

▣ "Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise" This refers to the Phoenician coastal cities mentioned in Ezek. 28:3-5,7 as being proverbially wise. However, judgment came on them because of their pride (cf. Ezek. 28:2,5-6) and arrogance (cf. Ezek. 28:2,6,9).

Now, the contextual question returns, is this context positive (the nations turn to YHWH) or negative (YHWH judges the nations)? The Hebrew CONJUNCTION (BDB 453-455) in v. 2b has many possible meanings. The TEV has "with"; REB has "for," not "though." Phoenicia was the source of artisans who designed and built Solomon's temple (cf. I Kgs. 7:13-14; II Chr. 2). This could be the intent of the phrase "they are very wise."

When we look at the following context the same paradox of blessing and cursing repeats itself. It is obvious that vv. 3-6 are negative, but look at vv. 7-10!

9:3 "Tyre. . .fortress" There is a play on the Hebrew word for "Tyre," which is sor (BDB 862), and the Hebrew word for fortress, masor ("rampart" or "siege work" BDB 848). There was an old city of Tyre and a new Tyre. New Tyre was an island fortress about a half-mile off the coast, with walls over 150 feet high. It was besieged by several Assyrian kings and finally fell to Shelmanezzar V after a five-year siege. It was besieged by Nebuchadnezzar II, but after thirteen years without it falling, Ezek. 29:18 implies that he gave up. It fell to Alexander the Great in 322 b.c. in a seven-month siege. Many commentators speculate that this chapter reflects Alexander the Great's conquest of Palestine in the 330's b.c. as he moved toward Egypt because:

1. he destroyed the old Tyre and used the rubble to build a causeway to the island fortress (cf. v. 4b)

2. he destroyed the island fortress with fire (cf. v. 4c).

 

▣ "plied up silver like dust and gold like the mire of the streets" These are metaphors reflecting the commercial power of the city of Tyre from their extensive maritime activities (cf. Isa. 23; Ezek. 27).

9:4

NASB"the Lord will dispossess her"
NKJV"the Lord will cast her out"
NRSV"the Lord will strip it of its possessions"
TEV"the Lord will take away everything she has"
NJB"the Lord is going to dispossess her"

There is irony here. The Hebrew term (BDB 439, KB 441) means to inherit, but in certain contexts in the Hiphil form can mean dispossess or disinherit (e.g. Num 14:12). YHWH wants to include the nations into His family and give them an inheritance, but they must turn from idolatry and materialism and trust in Him.

Also notice that NASB, NKJV and NRSV have "Lord" in all capitals which denotes YHWH, but the term here is Adon, as in TEV and NJB.

NASB"cast her wealth into the sea"
NKJV"will destroy her power in the sea"
NRSV"hurl its wealth into the sea"
TEV"will throw her wealth into the sea"
NJB"at sea he will break her power"
NET"shove her fortifications into the sea"

The question is over the OBJECT of the VERB.

1. wealth (BDB 298 #3, cf. Zech. 14:14)

2. power (BDB 298 #1)

3. fortifications

The NET Bible (p. 1672) asserts that the form can reflect the word "fortress" and that the chiastic structure supports this root. Alexander the Great used the rubble of the old city of Tyre to reach the island fortress and then threw (BDB 645, KB 697, Hiplil PERFECT, "hurl") its walls into the ocean (332 b.c.).

However, as the UBS Handbook notes (p. 234) the Hebrew term can refer to sea power (cf. NKJV, NAB, REB, NIV). Sea power was the source of Phoenicia's wealth and power.

"she will be consumed with fire" This VERB (BDB 37, Niphal IMPERFECT) means "devoured." This was predicted in Amos 1:9-10 (cf. Isa. 23; Ezek. 26) and fulfilled by Alexander the Great in 332 b.c.

9:5 "Askelon. . .Gaza. . .Ekron. . .Ashdod" These are four of the five city states of the Philistines in the Promised Land (Gath was earlier destroyed by the Assyrians). The Philistines invaded Egypt around the 1200's, but were defeated and then settled in the southern coastal areas of Palestine. They were apparently of the same racial stock as the Phoenicians, possibly from Cypress or the Aegean Islands. They are the only uncircumcized people in Canaan and were traditional enemies of the people of God (cf. Judges, I Samuel). Because of vv. 5-7b, although they are going to be judged, they are also going to be included in the covenant people (cf. v. 7c-d). What a surprising message of grace!

NASB, NRSV"will see it and be afraid"
NKJV"shall see it and fear"
TEV"will see this and be afraid"
NJB"seeing this. . .will be terrified"

The NASB has "it" italicized, which means that the word does not appear in the Hebrew text. From the immediate context, "it" must refer to the siege and utter destruction of the powerful city of Tyre.

Verse 5 may be an allusion to the prophecy of destruction in Amos 1:6-8 (esp. v. 8).

"will writhe in great pain" This Hebrew term (BDB 296, KB 297, Qal IMPERFECT) is used of childbirth (e.g. Isa. 26:12; 45:10) and became an idiom for judgment (cf. Isa. 13:8; Jer. 30:7; Micah 4:9-10; Matt. 24:8; Mark 13:8; Acts 2:24; I Thess. 5:3). This fear and pain was brought on by the destruction of Tyre, Philistia's northern ally. With Phoenicia conquered by Greece, Philistia was next!

▣ "Ekron" We learn from Josh. 15:45-47 that Ekron, Ashdod, and Gaza were considered to be in the tribal allocation of Judah and were its traditional enemy!

NASB"her expectation has been confounded"
NKJV"He dried up her expectation"
NRSV"its hopes are withered"
TEV"her hopes will be shattered"
NJB"at the ruin of her prospects"
JPSOA"at the collapse of her hopes"

There is confusion of whether this Hiphil VERB is "be ashamed" (BDB 101, KB 116, cf. 10:5) or "be dried up" (BDB 386). The second one is found in Zechariah in 10:11 (Hiphil) and 11:17 (Qal). However, Joel, which I think is early post-exilic, also has four places where these same two roots are confused (Joel 1:10,12[twice] and 17).

If "be ashamed" is adopted then the idiom reflects defeat in battle (cf. 10:5; II Kgs. 19:26; Isa. 37:27; 41:11; Jer. 46:24; 48:20; 50:11-16; 51:45-58; Ezek. 32:30; Micah 7:16), which fits this context.

9:6 "a mongrel race" This seems to refer to the Assyrian exile of the Jewish people from Israel (722 b.c.) and the import of pagan people from Media; therefore, this area was populated by people of mixed national origins. The rabbis later use this term (BDB 561, an Aramaic word for incest) to describe a child of the union between a Jew and a pagan (cf. Deut. 23:2-3) or to a child born of rape or incest.

▣ "I will cut off the pride of the Philistines" In this VERB (BDB 503, KB 500, Hiphil PERFECT) there is a change from the THIRD PERSON to the FIRST PERSON. This is common in prophecy as God begins to speak for Himself through the prophet.

As YHWH overthrew Phoenicia (Tyre and Sidon) because of their pride (cf. vv. 2-4; Isa. 23; Ezek. 27-28), so too, Philistia and also Egypt (cf. Ezek. 30:18; 32:12) and Assyria (cf. 10:11).

9:7 "I will remove their blood from their mouth" This may mean that the Philistines will keep the Jewish food laws (cf. Lev. 11; 17:10-16; Deut. 14) and thereby be God's people. Even God's people were accused of eating forbidden, bloody meat (cf. Ezek. 33:25), which violated the Levitical laws. They were destroyed (cf. Ezek. 33:27-28), but these uncircumcized pagans will be saved.

▣ "then they also will be a remnant for our God" The concept of "remnant" (BDB 983) is a very important historical and theological concept. The multiple uses can be seen in the New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis, vol. 4, p. 15.

1. those who survived a divine catastrophe (e.g. Philistines, cf. Amos 1:8; Jer. 47:4 and Jews, cf. Isa. 37:4,31-32; 40:11; 42:2; Jer. 25:20)

2. those who remain faithful and obedient to YHWH (e.g. Isa. 10:20-22; Amos 5:15; Micah 5:3,7,8)

3. those who form the eschatological people of God (e.g. Amos 9:12; Jer. 23:3; 31:7; Isa. 11:11,16)

This is a very strong statement for the inclusion of these hated Philistine enemies. Some see this prophecy fulfilled in the ministry of Philip in Acts 8:26-40.

NASB, NRSV,
TEV, NJB"and be like a clan in Judah"
NKJV"shall be like a leader of Judah"

The Hebrew term (BDB 48-49) is literally "thousands." It is used in several senses.

1. literally (e.g. Gen. 20:16; Exod. 32:28)

2. family units or leaders (e.g. Josh. 22:14; Jdgs. 6:15; I Sam. 23; Zech. 9:7)

3. military units or leaders (e.g. Exod. 18:21,25; Deut. 1:15)

4. symbolically (e.g. Gen. 24:60; Exod. 20:6; 34:7; Deut. 7:9; Jer. 32:18)

The difference between NKJV and the others is over vocalization. The ancient versions (Septuagint and Vulgate) translated it as "leader," but most modern English translations have "clan" (cf. 12:5-6). The contextual issue is not leadership, but covenant inclusion. This inclusion is all the more shocking when the traditional area enemy of Judah becomes part of Judah!

▣ "Ekron like a Jebusite" The Jebusites were the original Canaanite inhabitants of the city of Jebus, also called Salem (cf. Gen. 14), and later called Jerusalem. When David finally defeated their stronghold (cf. II Sam. 5:6-10; I Chr. 11:45-9) he did not relegate them to the sword, but allowed them to live (cf. Joshua 15:63; Judges 1:21; I Kings 9:20-21). This Philistine city is now included into the very heart of Judah—Jerusalem.

9:8 "But I will camp around My house" The VERB (BDB 333, KB 332) is a Qal PERFECT. This may be an allusion to 2:5 (cf. Ps. 34:8), which speaks of God's protecting His people (cf. Isa. 60:15-22) in a military sense. The Promised Land had been invaded again and again because of its strategic location, but there will come a day when God will personally indwell and protect the Promised Land.

NASB"because of an army" 
NKJV"because of the army"
NRSV"as a guard"
TEV"I will guard my land and keep armies from passing through it"
NJB"to defend it against all comers"

The BDB Lexicon (663) speculates that this form, which is found only here, is from one of two roots, "to stand guard" or "to garrison" (BDB 662, cf. NRSV and TEV). However, it also mentions that the MT notes suggest that it may come from another term, "because of a host" or "because of an army" (NASB, NKJV).

▣ "For now I have seen with My eyes" There will be no more invasions of the Promised Land because of God's personal presence and power (cf. Deut. 11:12). This idiom of God's all-knowing presence possibly refers to 4:10.

9:9 "Rejoice greatly" This (BDB 162, KB 189, plus ADVERB 547) is a Qal IMPERATIVE (cf. Zech. 2:10; Zeph. 3:14,15). This is a shout of joy over the military conquest by YHWH's Messiah. This rejoicing includes both Jews and Gentiles (cf. 2:10-13). This inclusion is so surprising and unexpected (cf. Zeph. 3:14-20).

▣ "O daughter of Zion" This idiomatic phrase is often used in judgment passages, but here is an allusion to the love that God has for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

"shout in triumph" This (BDB 929, KB 1206) is a Hiphil IMPERATIVE. This phrase is parallel to "rejoice greatly."

▣ "Behold, your king is coming to you" The VERB (BDB 97, KB 112) is a Qal IMPERFECT. This is one of many quotes from this section of Zechariah. It is used in the Gospels for Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (cf. Matt. 21:5; John 12:15). For the concept of God and the Messiah as King see I Sam. 8:7; 12:12.

NASB"He is just and endowed with salvation"
NKJV"He is just and having salvation"
NRSV"triumphant and victorious is he"
TEV"He comes triumphant and victorious"
NJB"he is vindicated and victorious"

This first term "just" or "righteous" (BDB 841-843) seems to be used in several passages in the prophets to describe the ethical reign of the Messiah (cf. Isa. 9:7; 11:4,5; 16:5; 32:1; Jer. 23:5-6). The Messiah is called "the Righteous One" in the Suffering Servant song of Isa. 53:11. He is qualified to reign by lineage and actions.

The term "salvation" (BDB 446, KB 448) is a Niphal PARTICIPLE used in the sense of someone who is made victorious or someone who is delivered. Both of these terms are used together in Isa. 45:8; 46:13; 51:4,5.

▣ "Humble" This word (BDB 776) is used in several ways in Zechariah: (1) in the sense of "afflicted" (cf. 11:7,11; Isa. 14:32; 49:13; 51:21; 54:11) or "poor" (cf. 7:10; Isa. 3:14-15; 10:30; 11:4; 32:7; 41:17; 58:7; 61:1). "Afflicted" describes the Suffering Servant of Isa. 53, although vv. 2 and 3 use a different term. Isaiah 53:7 uses the same root (BDB 776 III) or (2) here it is the sense of "lowly" or "meek" (e.g. Prov. 16:19).

▣ "and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt the foal of a donkey" Donkeys were the royal mount of Israeli kings (cf. II Sam. 13:29; 16:2; 18:9; I Kgs. 1:33-34,38,44). They were a symbol of royalty, however, the colt of a donkey was used because only the king could ride on this donkey. Therefore, this would be the first time the colt had been ridden. This entire verse reflects Gen. 49:8-12, which is a prophecy about the tribe of Judah, but is also a description of the coming Messiah. He will be (1) of the royal line of Judah (cf. II Sam. 7); (2) humble; and (3) a suffering servant (cf. Isa. 53).

9:10 "And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim" Verse 9 speaks of Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem, while v. 10 describes the Second Coming. Also notice YHWH speaks (cf. vv. 6,8) in v. 10a,c, but the Messiah is spoken of in 10d-f.

▣ "And he will speak peace to the nations" This latter part of v. 10 seems to reflect Ps. 72:8-11, where the peace of Palestine is used in a universal sense of the reign of the Messiah. However, it is significant that the Messiah will speak peace to all the nations as well as the Jews (e.g. 8:20-23; Isa. 2:2-4; Micah 4:1-3; 5:4). This surprising, yet prophesied inclusion (cf. Gen. 12:3; 18:18; 22:16; Exod. 19:5), is the ultimate fulfillment of Gen. 3:15, which relates to all humanity, not only the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob!

The last two poetic lines of v. 10 are parallel in the ideal limits of the Promised Land (cf. Exod. 23:31; Num. 34:1-12; I Kgs. 4:21). "The River" refers to the head waters of the Euphrates.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT:9:11-17
 11As for you also, because of the blood of My covenant with you,
 I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
  12Return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope;
 This very day I am declaring that I will restore double to you.
  13For I will bend Judah as My bow,
 I will fill the bow with Ephraim.
 And I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against your sons, O Greece;
 And I will make you like a warrior's sword.
 14Then the Lord will appear over them,
 And His arrow will go forth like lightning;
 And the Lord God will blow the trumpet,
 And will march in the storm winds of the south.
 15The Lord of hosts will defend them.
 And they will devour and trample on the sling stones;
 And they will drink and be boisterous as with wine;
 And they will be filled like a sacrificial basin,
 Drenched like the corners of the altar.
  16And the Lord their God will save them in that day
 As the flock of His people;
 For they are as the stones of a crown,
 Sparkling in His land.
  17For what comeliness and beauty will be theirs!
 Grain will make the young men flourish, and new wine the virgins.

9:11 "the blood of My covenant" This is a CONSTRUCT of BDB 196 and 136. This can either refer to the original covenant of God with Abraham mentioned in Gen. 15:9-11 or to the Mosaic covenant in Exod. 24:8. This phrase is also used by Jesus in the Upper Room in Mark 14:24. See SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT at Zech. 6:15.

▣ "I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit" The VERB (BDB 1018, KB 1511) is a Piel PERFECT. Apparently this is a metaphor describing the returning Jewish exiles (cf. Isa. 24:22; 51:14).

9:12 "Return" This is a Qal IMPERATIVE. Verses 11 and 12 both are encouragement to the returning remnant (cf. Ezra and Nehemiah). Very few of the Jews in exile ever returned to Palestine.

This term (BDB 996, KB 1427), however, is often used for repentance (cf. 1:3,4). God's people must return to Him, not just to a geographical location or even to an ancient promise. Biblical faith is personal. See Special Topic: Repentance at Zech. 1:3.

NASB, NKJV"the stronghold"
NRSV"your stronghold"
TEV"your place of safety"
NJB"the fortress"
JPSOA"Bizzaron"

This term (BDB 131) is found only here in the OT. Its basic root means (1) "is cut off" (used of grapes); (2) "inaccessible" (used most often for fortifications, e.g. Zeph. 1:16); or (3) "fortress by enclosure" (cf. Isa. 22:10). The TEV takes it as a metaphor for God's care and protection in the Promised Land (cf. Jer. 16:19; Joel 3:16). The JPSOA, in its footnote, thinks it is a nickname ("fortress") for Samaria, the northern capital of Israel destroyed in 722 by Assyria.

NASB"prisoners who have the hope"
NKJV"you prisoners of hope"
NRSV"O prisoners of hope"
TEV"you exiles who now have hope"
NJB"you prisoners waiting in hope"

The hope is in the covenant-making (cf. v. 11), promise-keeping, deliverance-giving God. This phrase is given either to encourage those who have returned or to motivate others to return (NJB).

▣ ""I will restore double to you" The VERB (BDB 996, KB 1427) is a Hiphil IMPERFECT. This is an idiom for something that is complete and full. It can relate to YHWH's judgment (cf. Isa. 40:2; Jer. 16:18) or YHWH's promise of restoration (cf. Isa. 61:7). YHWH is just and acts according to His word.

9:13 "I will bend Judah as My bow" This chapter is filled with paradoxes! The coming Messianic peace is mentioned in vv. 8-11 and yet v. 13 speaks again of war (BDB 201, KB 231 Qal PERFECT). Possibly this verse shows the promise of v. 8!

As verse 10 mentioned "Ephraim" and "Jerusalem," which denotes Israel and Judah, so too, v. 13a,b. The divided kingdom will be reunited! As a bow and arrow are used as one instrument, so too, God's reunited people (cf. 10:4d).

▣ "'I will stir'" The term (BDB 734 I, KB 802, Polel PERFECT) is used several times in Zechariah.

1. YHWH is aroused from His holy habitation, 2:13

2. the interpreting angel wakes the prophet, 4:1 (twice)

3. YHWH arouses the inhabitants of Zion against the Greeks, 9:13

4. YHWH arouses His sword against His own Shepherd, 13:7

Two other prophets use this same term in connection with Greece, Dan. 11:2 and Joel 3:6. Isaiah uses this term often in connection with God directing the history of His people (e.g. "the Medes," 13:17; "one from the east," 41:2; "one from the north," 41:25; "Cyrus," 45:13; "Jerusalem and Zion," 51-52). Isaiah's use of this term in chapters 51 and 52 may parallel Zech. 9:13d, "I will make you like a warrior's sword." It is God's strength and purpose, but He chooses to use human instrumentality.

"'O Zion, against your son, O Greece'" The term here for Greece is Jawan or Javan, which was used originally in the OT for a descendant of Japheth (cf. Gen. 10:2,4; Isa. 66:19), while in Isa. 66:19 it is used for a nation. In the books of Daniel and Joel, it is used to designate Greece (cf. Dan. 8:21; 10:20; Joel 3:6). I agree with Joyce Baldwin, Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries, that it is used in its Gen. 10 sense of a distant people on the fringe of civilization, which is how it is used in this eschatological context (cf. p. 169).

9:14 "Then the Lord will appear over them" The VERB (BDB 906, KB 1157) is a Niphal IMPERFECT. This may be an allusion to the promise of protection in 2:5 (cf. 9:8a). It also may be an allusion to Isa. 31:5, where God is a protecting bird of prey (cf. Exod. 19:4b) or a mother bird hovering overhead (cf. Deut. 32:11; Ps. 91:4). The third possibility is borrowing the imagery of Assyria where their god fluttered over his troops in battle.

Verses 14-17 are the hyperbolic language of theophany. The phrases are reminiscent of other prophetic texts. They are patterned, standard idioms (see Plowshares and Pruning Hooks: Rethinking the Language of Biblical Prophecy and Apocalyptic, D. Brent Sandy).

"His arrows will go forth like lightning" Lightning and arrows are often used metaphorically of YHWH's fighting on behalf of His people (cf. Ps. 18:14; 144:6; Hab. 3:11). The concept of YHWH's arrows being like lightning is found in Ps. 7:12-13, where it may refer to arrows set on fire to incinerate wooden defenses.

"the Lord God" This is the combination of the Hebrew term YHWH (BDB 217) and adon (BDB 10). Because it would be repetitive in English to say "Lord, LORD," when these two terms appear together (so too, YHWH and Elohim, e.g. v. 16 and Gen. 2:4). They are translated, "Lord God."

"Blow the trumpet" "Trumpet" (shofar) has an uncertain etymology. It came to be used in Hebrew for a ram's horn (BDB 1051). The rabbis designated it to be made (softened and lengthened by soaking it in water) from the left horn of a male goat. It is used for

1. military purposes, Josh. 6:4,5,20; Jdgs. 7:8,16

2. religious purposes, Exod. 19:13,16,19; Lev. 25:9; II Sam. 6:15; II Chr. 15:14; Ps. 81:3; 98:6; 150:3

3. information gathering (usually about military matters), Jdgs. 3:27; 6:34; I Sam. 13:3

4. coronation of a king, I Kgs. 1:34,39; Ps. 47:5

5. invasion of the land, Jer. 4:5; 6:1; Hos. 5:8; 8:1; Joel 2:1; Amos 2:2; 3:6; Zeph. 1:16

Notice in this context it is YHWH who blows (i.e. "sounds," BDB 1075, Qal IMPERFECT) the trumpet (cf. Isa. 27:13; Matt. 24:31; I Cor. 15:52; I Thess. 4:16; Rev. 11:15).

▣ "the storm winds of the south" This could be a reference to (1) the Siniatic covenant (cf. Exod. 24); (2) God's presence as a desert storm (cf. Isa. 29:6; Ezek. 1:4; 13:11,13); or (3) "the south" being the antonym to "the north," which was a metaphor for invasion. The south is a metaphor for salvation and deliverance (cf. Jdgs. 5:4-5; Hab. 3:3).

9:15 "The Lord of hosts will defend them" God Himself will act on His people's behalf. His victory is their victory. The term "hosts" in this context would refer to the angelic army at YHWH's command. See Special Topic at Dan. 4:2.

The VERB "defend" (BDB 170, KB 199, Hiphil IMPERFECT) can be translated "cover," "surround," or "defend" (cf. 12:8). In Isa. 31:5 it is used of a mother bird protecting her young (cf. Deut. 32:11; Ps. 91:4). Here it is used as a shield protecting the soldiers from projectiles.

"the sling stones" These were stones used in sling weapons (BDB 887 I), which were used to defend cities and forts (cf. Jdgs. 20:16; I Sam. 17:40,50; II Chr. 26:14; Job 41:28). This is a metaphor for the complete destruction of a military foe.

"they will drink and be boisterous as with wine" Both VERBS (BDB 1059, KB 1667 and BDB 242, KB 250) are Qal PERFECTS. This refers to the victory celebration of God's soldiers (cf. Ps. 78:65).

"filled like a sacrificial basin" English translations differ on how to understand these last two poetic lines. They seem to refer to the previous line about God's people rejoicing with wine over His victory (i.e. another Qal PERFECT VERB, BDB 569, KB 583). The wine reminded our author about (1) the blood of the slain enemies, captured in a bowl or (2) blood as an aspect of sacrifice to YHWH. The corners of the altar are where the blood in the bowl was poured out at the base of the altar of sacrifice.

YHWH made a blood covenant with the descendants of Abraham (cf. v. 11). Now He defends them by spilling the blood of their enemies.

9:16 "the Lord their God will save them in that day" This is parallel to the opening lines of vv. 14 and 15. As v. 14 had Adon YHWH, this verse has YHWH Elohim.

The term "save" (BDB 446, KB 448, Hiphil PERFECT) includes several connotations from the context: (1) military victory; (2) spiritual renewal and inclusion; and (3) God's personal care, protection, and provision.

"as the flock of His people" This whole section of Zechariah reflects Jer. 31:10-14. God is the shepherd (e.g. Ps. 23) who acts on behalf of His flock. Later in this section of Zechariah the Messiah will be described as the wounded shepherd (cf. chapters 12-13) and His people as the afflicted flock (cf. chapter 11).

"as the stones of a crown" This may be (1) a contrast to the sling stones mentioned in v. 15; (2) an allusion to Isa. 62:3, the precious stones used to describe God's people; or (3) an allusion to the coronation of the new king (the Messiah as YHWH's representative)

NASB"Sparkling in His land"
NKJV"Lifted like a banner over His land"
NRSV"they shall shine on his land"
NJB"sparkle over his country"

The VERB in the Hithpoel form is rare and ambiguous.

1. BDB - "to be high," "conspicuous," "prominent" (BDB 651 II)

2. Lexicon, William Holladay, "rally around the banner" (p. 240). This comes from Ps. 60:4, which may refer to Exod. 17:15 or possibly Isa. 62:10.

3. KB - "to assemble under the banner" (KB 704)

4. "sparkle," "glitter," "shine" are the most common English translations (cf. Isa. 62:3)

 

9:17 As the previous verses may be an allusion to Jer. 31:10-11, so too, this may refer to the return from exile, but extends it to the eschatological future and the time of the "new covenant" (cf. Jer. 31:31-34).

The promised days of abundance and stability for an obedient covenant people (cf. Deut. 27-29) have now been realized by the gracious actions of YHWH, not human performance (cf. Jer. 31:31-34).

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. Why is this chapter so difficult to place in its historical setting?

2. Does this chapter refer to the judgment of pagan nations or to their inclusion in the covenant people?

3. Is there a definite historical separation between vv. 1-10 and vv. 11-17? Why?

4. Explain the Messianic elements in v. 9 and show their NT counterpoints.

5. To whom does Javan refer? Why is the nation mentioned?