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Zechariah

Whereas Haggai’s vision encompassed, for the most part, his immediate, temporal situation, the range of his contemporary and colleague was much more expansive; for Zechariah not only shared Haggai’s burden about the inertia of the postexilic community, but by vision and dream saw the unfolding of Divine purpose for all of God’s people and for all the ages to come. Rich in apocalyptic imagery and packed with messianic prediction and allusion, Zechariah’s writings became a favorite of the New Testament evangelists and apostles. The glorious hope expounded by the prophet was viewed by them as being fulfilled in the saving work and witness of Jesus Christ. No Minor Prophet excels Zechariah in the clarity and triumph by which he looks to the culmination of God’s program of redemption.

Introduction to Zechariah

    Historical Context

Zechariah commenced his ministry, so far as his own account is concerned, in the eighth month of the second year of the Persian king Darius Hystaspes (Zech. 1:1). He does not specify the day, but the eighth month (Julian calendar) would be between late October and late November, 520 B.C.148 The final two oracles of Haggai were delivered on the twenty-fourth day of that same month and year (or December 18, 520),149 so Zechariah’s public ministry overlapped that of Haggai by approximately one month.

Before the implications of that fact are explored, it is necessary to examine other chronological data of the book of Zechariah. Like Haggai, Zechariah is concerned to pinpoint the major turning points of his ministry by attaching them to a sequential, chronological framework. Thus, after the general introduction, dated in the eighth month of Darius’s second year (Zech. 1:1-6), Zechariah assigns the night visions (1:7-6:15) to the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (1:7), February 15, 519 B.C. His final chronological reference is to the fourth year of Darius and the fourth day of the ninth month (7:1). This is December 7, 518. If one accepts the unity of the whole book (a position accepted here and defended), this last date presumably marks the occasion for all the oracles and other messages of chapters 7-14.

It is difficult to determine what role Zechariah may have played in connection with the public ministry of Haggai, a ministry that commenced only two months before his own (Hag. 1:1). When they are mentioned together (Ezra 5:1; 6:14), Haggai’s name is always first, suggesting either his leadership or his prophetic and canonical priority. In any case, the two men of God together encouraged the resumption of Temple construction after it had lain dormant for 18 years (from 536 to 520 B.C.; cf. Ezra 3:8-10; 5:1-2). With Haggai, Zechariah provided the leadership to enable their compatriots to bring the building task successfully to completion by about March 13, 515 B.C. (Ezra 6:14-15).150

An integration of the chronological data of Haggai and Zechariah might yield further clues as to their relationship, though admittedly such clues would be deduced with some measure of speculation. The most critical part of Haggai’s appeal seems to occurs in Hag. 2:1-9, for there he addresses the profound pessimism that had begun to envelop the people a few weeks after Temple reconstruction began. They saw the new building as nothing compared to the glorious Temple of Solomon, so they needed the assurance that YHWH was with them (2:4) and that eventually the glory of the second Temple would exceed that of the first (2:7-9). Within weeks (or even days) Zechariah followed this up with a reminder of God’s displeasure with their fathers’ attitudes and actions in the past (Zech. 1:2) and assured them that, if they turned to YHWH, He would turn to them (1:3). Both prophets thus contrast the past with the present and future, with Haggai stressing the rebuilt Temple as a sign and source of God’s blessing and Zechariah emphasizing the role of repentance and renewal in achieving that end. The two prophets worked hand in glove, complementing each other’s message.

The general historical background of these early years of Darius has been reviewed in the Introduction to Haggai (pp. 3-10), so there is no need to do more here than to consider briefly the two years of Zechariah’s ministry that post-dated Haggai’s. Unfortunately, little can be said, for both biblical and extra-biblical sources are virtually silent. The OT witness is limited to the book of Ezra, which, though composed some 60 or 70 years after the last date in Zechariah, must be considered reliable.151 As just suggested, Ezra recounts the leadership of Haggai and Zechariah in the Temple project (Ezra 5:1-2) and relates in some detail the opposition to the work from Tattenai, governor of the satrapy eber-nari, and his allies (Ezra 5:13-17). Once Darius the king settled the matter of the legitimacy of the operation and authorized the work to continue (6:1-12), the Jews, under Haggai and Zechariah, brought it to an end (6:13). Apparently Darius’s edict forestalled any further interdiction of the work and allowed it to be finished. For Ezra is clear, in reviewing the whole history of the restoration, that the antagonism of the Jews’ enemies continued only until the reign of Darius, that is, until 520 B.C. (Ezra 4:5). Not until Xerxes came to power (486) did serious opposition begin again (Ezra 4:6). It is safe to assume, therefore, that the work went on unimpeded in the two years of Zechariah’s ministry (520-518).

Persian texts record a western campaign by Darius in the winter of 519-518 B.C., an itinerary that included Palestine. Many scholars propose that Zerubbabel, governor of Yehud (i.e., Judah), was deposed by Darius at that time, allegedly for rebellion or for having the misfortune of having been designated by Haggai (2:23) as successor to the Davidic throne.152 The only basis for such a view is the disappearance from the biblical record of any reference to Zerubbabel after 520. This argumentum e silentio is hardly conclusive of the deposition hypothesis, however.

What is clear is that Darius continued on to Egypt where he put down incipient rebellions by the end of November 518 B.C. and then returned home. The last date of Zechariah, December 7, follows or perhaps even generally coincides with Darius’s return trip through Judah. What effect this contact of the Persian king had on the message of Zechariah in chapters 7 through 14 cannot be determined. The commentary to follow offers some suggestions.

Kenneth Barker and other scholars account for some of the differences between Zechariah 1-8 and 9-14 by suggesting that the prophet may have lived well into the fifth century, possibly into the reign of the Persian king Artaxerxes I (465-424 B.C.).153 This can be supported by the reference to Zechariah in the genealogy of Neh. 12:10-16. The passing of at least 30 or 40 years from the time of Zechariah’s earlier oracles can easily explain the allegedly later historical references (such as to Greece in 9:13) and the clearly more eschatological perspective of the last six chapters.

    Literary Context

This commentary will proceed on the assumption that the book of Zechariah as it appears in its traditional and canonical form is a literary unity composed by the ascribed author, the prophet Zechariah. What is necessary now, before literary unity is defended, is to address matters of language and style through careful formcritical and literary analyses. Those that mark off the peculiar characteristics of the composition will be specially noted.

      Language and Style

Students of Zechariah have for years recognized that the predominant genres of the book are visions and oracles, the former contained in chapters 1-6 (1:8-15; 2:1-4 [EB 1:18-21]; 2:5-9 [EB 2:1-5]; 3:1-7; 4:1-6a, 10b-14; 5:1-4; 5:5-11; 6:1-8.154 The latter is found in both 1-6 (1:16-17; 2:10-17 [EB 2:6-13]; 3:8-10; 4:6b-10a; 6:9-15) and in 7-14 (7:4-14; 8:1-23; 9:1-11:17; 12:1-14:21).155 In addition there is the oracular introduction to the whole collection (1:1-6 [+7]). One will note that the oracles are of two kinds functionally: those that introduce or flow from visions (chaps. 1-6) and those that stand independently. How they function will be discussed throughout the commentary.

For now it is important to understand that prophetic visions, though lacking in Haggai, were not the invention of Zechariah. Indeed, visions were the stock in trade of all the prophets beginning with Amos.156 The oracle likewise, whatever its particular form or genre, is the essence of prophetic communication. What has to be understood then is the way Zechariah relates and makes use of the particular speech forms that constitute his argument. For the sake of convenience, the visions and oracles will be considered separately and in that order.

Modern studies of the visions of Zechariah began with the important work of J. W. Rothstein, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja (BWAT 8), published in 1910.157 Major subsequent works on the subject include those by L. G. Rignell (1950), Kurt Galling (1952), Klaus Seybold (1974), Christian Jeremias (1977), Gerhard Wallis (1978), and Baruch Halpern (1978).158 Ranging from Rothstein’s view that the visions are collections of phrases and glosses gathered over a period of time159 to that of contemporary scholars who see the visions as homogeneous and unified messages received by the prophet in one nocturnal revelation,160 these studies share in common the notion that the visions serve, among various purposes, the aim of bringing about the restoration of Temple and cult.

The book of Zechariah as it stands makes plain that the eight visions of chapters 1-6 came to the prophet in the course of one night, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (1:7). Whereas the question of the significance (if any) of the vision’s sequence must await later attention, for now it is important to look at the structures of the vision texts themselves to see if there is a discernible pattern.

Carol L. and Eric M. Meyers, in their commentary Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, have recently broken new ground in their analysis of the components of the Zechariah visions and the pattern of their sequence.161 They draw attention to common formulaic language such as “I raised my eyes,” “I looked/saw,” “(and) behold,” “again,” and others (p. lvii). Also common to the visions is extensive use of symbolism, the role of mediating beings, especially angels, a more transcendant view of God than in earlier prophecy; and an emphasis on the universal sovereignty of God.

David L. Petersen (Haggai and Zechariah 1-8) views the matter of kinship of the vision texts somewhat differently. He posits their commonality around the notions of “in betweenness,” motion, and the motif “the whole earth.”162 The first of these refers to Zechariah’s stance between “purely mundane concerns and a utopian vision of renewal.” This separates Zechariah from other exilic and postexilic prophets, such as Ezekiel and Haggai, but also betrays the content of his visions—he views reality as suspended somewhere between heaven and earth.

By motion is meant simply that all the visions are filled with activity, with earthly and heavenly figures alike on the go. Even visions one and two, which appear to be static, provide the occasion for responsive action. Finally, the “whole earth” theme, similar to the universalism noted by the Meyers and others, is a common unifying bond.

In answering the question why these motifs prevail in the visions, Petersen suggests the twofold response that Zechariah is doing theology and that the visions “comprise Zechariah’s experientially based responses to these problems of a community attempting to reorganize itself” (p. 115). The theology he is doing is attempting to explain why and how YHWH will deal with iniquity, how He will be present in Jerusalem, how the community’s leadership will be organized, and other such matters.

Although one might disagree in details with the two analyses just set forth, they do draw attention correctly to the use by the prophet of a literary vehicle that addresses the needs of a community in a specific historical context but in a way that transcends that context and opens the door to the cosmic, universal sovereignty of YHWH. They also agree in maintaining that the elements shared commonly by the visions give them a unity in themselves and a coherence among them. This aspect will be dealt with below.

The oracles, as a second major literary category in Zechariah, have also received a great deal of attention, particularly by W. A. M. Beuken (1967), Albert Petitjean (1969), Joyce Baldwin (1972), and D. L. Petersen (1984).163 Again, however, it was Rothstein who first showed that Zechariah 1-6 was a composite of visions and discourses. The latter he divided by form into two basic groups: those that were preceded by a formula of introduction in the first person (4:8-10a; 6:9-15) and those without any introductory statement (1:16-17; 2:10-17 [EB 2:6-13]; 3:8-10).164

Petitjean and other scholars have followed up on Rothstein’s early labors and have noted the function of oracles intertwined among the visions of chapters 1-6 as well as independent oracles pertaining to fasting (7-8) and eschatological matters (9-11; 12-14). Petersen agrees with Petitjean’s pattern as a whole, but his analysis differs in detail as the accompanying table shows. Both have provided a most plausible analysis of the delimitation and function of the various oracular units in Zechariah 1-6. According to Petersen 1:14-17 is an oracular response to the first vision (1:8-13), one consisting in fact of two separate oracles (vv. 14-15, 16-17). Similarly, 2:10-17 (EB 2:6-13) responds to vision three (2:5-9 [EB 2:1-5]), 3:8-10 (so Petitjean; Petersen, 3:6-10) responds to vision four (3:1-7 [or 1-5]), 4:6b-10a (thus Petitjean; Petersen, 4:6-7, 8-10, 12) appears within and is relevant to vision five (4:1-6a, 10b-14 [Petitjean; Petersen, 4:1-5, 11], and 6:9-15 (Petitjean; Petersen, 6:10-11, 14; 6:12-13) follows the eighth vision (Petitjean 6:1-8 [Petersen, 6:1-9, 15]).165

The Visions and Oracles of Zechariah 1-6

Albert Petitjean

David L. Petersen

Vision One

1:8-13

1:8-13

Oracle One

1:14-17

1:14-17

Vision Two

2:1-4 (EB 1:18-21)

2:1-4

Vision Three

2:5-9 (EB 2:1-5)

2:5-9

Oracle Two

2:10-17 (EB 2:6-13)

2:10-17

Vision Four

3:1-7

3:1-5

Oracle Three

3:8-10

3:6-10

Vision Five

4:1-6a, 10b-14

4:1-5, 11

Oracle Four

4:6b-10a

4:6-7, 8-10, 12

Vision Six

5:1-4

5:1-4

Vision Seven

5:5-11

5:5-11

Vision Eight

6:1-8

6:1-8, 15

Oracle Five

6:9-15

6:10-11, 14; 6:12-13

It is obvious that Petersen does not follow Petitjean exactly in his literary boundaries for the oracular material and, indeed, there is very little agreement on the matter across the spectrum of contemporary scholarship. This, however, little affects the near consensus that the oracles of Zechariah are, in the first section (chaps.1-6) at least, designed to introduce, clarify, or otherwise aid and assist in the proclamation of the visionary message.

The linkage between the visions and their complementary oracles extends to shared imagery and themes such as personified Zion, the cities of Judah, the nations coming to Zion, Zion shouting for joy, and others derived ultimately from Isaiah especially. As Petersen observes, “such continuities between oracle, vision, and Isaiah suggest that despite certain differences in perspective, there is shared discourse between the prophetic traditionists of the Isaianic circle, the prophet Zechariah, and those preserving Zechariah’s visions and oracles.”166 Even though the latter phrase implies redactionary work for which there is no evidence in the text, Petersen’s general point is well taken.

The oracles of Zechariah 7-8 are quite different from those of chapters 1-6 in that they stand independent of visions, coming rather in response to questions posed to the prophet by certain of his fellow citizens (7:1-3). Though they deal with the common theme of fasting, they do take the form of separate addresses marked usually by some kind of speech formula (thus 7:4-7, 8-14; 8:1-8, 9-13, 14-17, 18-23).

Despite the clear distinctions brought about by setting and function, these oracles partake of the standard oracular elements and show marked affinity with those in chapters 1-6. Such matters as the 70 years (1:12; 7:5), Jerusalem to be inhabited (2:8; 7:7), divine anger/wrath (2:15; 7:12), “Thus spoke YHWH of Hosts” (1:14, 17; 2:12; 3:7; 6:12; 7:9; 8:2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14, 19, 20, 23), and the return to Zion/Jerusalem (1:16; 8:3) bear this out. In addition to strengthening the case for the unity of 1-6 and 7-8 (a matter reserved for later discussion), such points are useful in delineating the prophet’s language and style.

It is a nearly unanimous conviction among critical scholars that Zechariah 9-14 is not original to the book. This commentary will later show the untenableness of that position, but for now it is necessary to say something about that last section in terms of its literary character.

Paul Lamarche, about whose work more will be said later, divides these chapters into the traditional sections 9-11 and 12-14.167 The first he then subdivides into an oracle concerning neighboring nations (9:1-8); the arrival and description of the king (9:9-10); the victorious war of Israel, return, and prosperity (9:11-10:1); the sin of idolatry and chastisement (10:2-3a); the restoration of Judah and Ephraim, return and prosperity, chastisement of enemies (10:3b-11:3); and the rejected shepherd (11:4-17).168 One can see the faint outlines of a chiastic structure here and, indeed, Lamarche’s analysis depends upon the chiasmus of which chapters 9-11 are the first part. This receives detailed treatment below.

As for chapters 12-14, Lamarche, again in line with an overall chiastic analysis, delimits the material into the following units: victorious war of Israel (12:1-9); the Lord’s agent slain, repentance, mourning, and purification (12:10-13:1); the rejection of idols (13:2-6); the shepherd smitten, purification, reconciliation with God (13:7-9); victorious war of Israel (14:1-15); and the nations obligated to go up to Jerusalem (14:16-21).169

Although this approach has more to say about structure than it does about language and style, one can hardly separate them. But more to the point of the latter, it is important to note the differences between chapters 1-8 and 9-14 in these respects. As has already been argued, the first part, except for chapters 7-8, is largely dominated by the vision genre with all that this implies in terms of literary criticism. The oracle sections of those chapters as well as the oracles of 7 and 8 (“sermon material” in the words of Baldwin,170) relate to the visions and reinforce their eschatological thrust. With the visions they also share some basic ingredients of apocalypticism. Chapters 9-14 move beyond the mere use of apocalyptic devices, however, and become full-blown apocalyptic treatises. This partly explains why many critics seek to divorce these chapters from the Zechariah corpus and why this material, when interpreted according to hermeneutical canons appropriate to the first eight chapters, remains so difficult of comprehension.

It is therefore necessary that some attention be given to the history and characteristics of apocalyptic language and literature, for Zechariah, more than any other OT prophet, employs it in his message to the second Temple community. The subject as a whole is vast and has been the object of so many comprehensive and adequate publications in recent years that there is no need here to do more than briefly summarize the apocalyptic as literary genre, as it relates to Zechariah.171

As recently as 1972 Klaus Koch172 lamented that “there are as yet no form-critical investigations of the apocalyptic writings,” a situation that has changed little since then. As a result, the best one can do is to try to develop a typological model on the basis of writings commonly regarded as apocalyptic and judge individual compositions, such as Zechariah, against that model. This is a kind of circular method to be sure. At the same time one must, as Paul Hanson has warned, avoid viewing apocalytpicism as a rigid, frozen form that always and under all circumstances exhibits common characteristics.173 Older scholarship (and some modern as well) maintained that apocalypticism was a late development, certainly postexilic, so that apocalyptic texts in purportedly preexilic writings had to be viewed as secondary to them.174 This is no longer a credible position in light of recent studies that show the roots of apocalyptic reaching deep into preexilic times. The corollary to the notion that apocalyptic was late, namely, that it was shaped by non-Jewish (primarily Zoroastrian) influences, has also come under attack and has been largely abandoned.175 It is somewhat surprising, then, to read in John J. Collins that Jewish apocalypticism, as found at least in 1 Enoch and Daniel, “was essentially a new creation, designed for the needs of a new age.” Though he distinguishes between the pure apocalypticism of Daniel and apocalyptic elements in works such as Isa. 24-27, Zech. 9-14, and Joel, Collins still largely reverts to an earlier position regarding the origin of apocalyptic.176

Zechariah, then, stood in an already ancient apocalyptic tradition from which he drew heavily and to which he made an enormously significant contribution, one particularly observable in the NT book of Revelation. Having said that, however, it is important to point out that apocalyptic did receive an incalculable impetus from the trauma of the Exile, for that calamity shook not only the social and political structures of Judah to their very foundations but was in danger of undermining the covenant faith itself. With no Temple and with Zion in wreck and ruin, on what basis could the eternal promises of YHWH to His people find fulfillment?

The answer lay in the shift of focus from the present to the future, from the local to the universal, from the earthly to the cosmic or heavenly. Even the restoration hardly changed the equation, for Judah was an insignificant client state of a mighty empire, there was no scion of David on her throne, and there were no signs that this dismal state of affairs would change in the normal course of events. Haggai had suggested that part of the problem was the indifference of the people who must rebuild the Temple if they expected a reversal of their circumstances. Even he, however, saw that a final and total change must await the eschaton when the glory of YHWH would fill His Temple (Hag. 2:6-9) and a descendant of David would rule from Zion (2:20-23).

Zechariah, even more than Haggai, lifted his gaze to horizons above and beyond his own age, though clearly much of his effort and message was directed to the immediate concerns of restoration of the community and cult. Apocalyptic was the vehicle by which this eschatological concern could be best articulated, the same vehicle that other prophets had employed when addressing the same issues (cf. Isa. 24-27; Ezek. 1:4-3:15; 38-39; Joel 3). Only apocalyptic could express the utter transcendence involved in the radical transformations that would accompany the irruption of the kingdom of YHWH and the consequent shattering of all human and earthly systems in its wake.

The typological model adduced above becomes such by virtue of certain literary and conceptual features that give it coherence. Koch is helpful in suggesting some of these. In the first place, apocalyptic as literary genre is characterized by “discourse cycles”177 frequently described as visions and revealing matters formerly concealed as mysteries and now understood only by an interpreter such as an angel. Another element is the spiritual turmoil into which the prophet is thrown as a result of his visual or auditory experience. A third is the paraenesis that accompanies the revelation report, the “sermon material” to use Baldwin’s terminology.178 The purpose obviously is to make application of the vision to the hearer/reader. Still another literary hallmark, one typical of late, postbiblical apocalyptic, is pseudonymity, a phenomenon some scholars apply to Zechariah 9-14 (without warrant in our view). Finally, Koch includes the use of “mythical images rich in symbolism” (p. 26) by means of which historical and terrestrial events are cast in the grotesque language of metaphor, a kind of encoding into a literary form that was common currency in late Jewish and early Christian times.

Apocalyptic as a conceptual, intellectual movement gives evidence, first of all, of understanding history in terms of an imminent overthrow of all earthly conditions. Moreover, that end of history appears as a vast cosmic catastrophe, one that inexorably follows the course of history which itself is perceived in a segmented, epochal manner. There are thus units of fours, sevens, or twelves, all marking eras and periods within which historical events take place. These events are predetermined by a sovereign God who often administers them through angelic subordinates. Following the great, final cataclysm a new salvation, paradisaical in character, arises in which all nations participate, though the covenant people continue to play a central role. The principal feature of this is the establishment of the kingdom of God in which He or His messianic agent sits enthroned. Overarching all is the glory of YHWH, which not only expresses His presence but marks the whole creation as a regenerated entity.

These general observations of Koch find more specific application to Zechariah in the superb study by Joyce Baldwin on the literary genre of the book.179 She sees apocalyptic as a principal unifying factor in the entire composition, a device characterized by visions of the submission of nations (1:21; 2:9; 8:20-23), the exaltation of Jerusalem (1:17; 2:4, 5, 10-12; 7:3), and the work of the Branch (3:8; 6:12). These same elements, with a note of conflict (11:4-14), appear in chapters 9-14 as well.

The apocalyptic visions of Zechariah, though filled with symbolism, are not as complicated and bizarre as those of Ezekiel, but do require angelic interpreters, at least in chapters 1-6. He goes beyond Ezekiel and other earlier apocalyptists, however, in his declarations that what he envisions is as good as done, for it is only an earthly reflection of what has in fact come to pass in heaven. The future is certain because of the inexorable pattern already revealed. This heavenly model is painted in symbolic imagery in the form of animals, numbers, objects, and persons.

Baldwin goes on to show that even the non-visionary parts of Zechariah (chaps. 7-14) reveal apocalyptic overtones. There is the historical retrospect of chapters 7 and 8 which, by demonstrating the patterning of Israel’s history, blends the historical past with the eschatological future. The whole is permeated by apocalyptic allusions to earthquake (14:4-6), miraculous intervention by YHWH (9:14; 12:3, 4), eschatological battle (12:1-9; 14:1-15), divine deliverance of Jerusalem (9:8; 12:7; 14:1-8), and bitter mourning (12:10-14) but ultimate joy (9:9; 14:16). In short, the entire work, if not apocalyptic as a whole, is permeated with apocalyptic life and spirit.

Finally, a brief word must be said about Zechariah’s use of apocalyptic and his role within that tradition. Beginning especially with the work of Otto Ploger in 1959180 there has developed the hypothesis that postexilic Judaism consisted of two major and conflicting parties, each of which was attempting to gain political and ideological control of the restoration community. These were the hierocratic element, whose agenda was the implementation of the priestly rule over the covenant people in line with Ezekiel, P, and the Chronicler, and the idealistic element, which viewed the present restoration efforts as so much wasted, humanistic enterprise and awaited the coming of the true theocracy to be set up by YHWH himself. The idealistic adherents’ inspiration was the second exodus message of “Second” Isaiah.

Paul Hanson, in his influential book The Dawn of Apocalyptic (1975), takes his point of departure from Ploger (though he curiously mentions him only once)181 but carries his central thesis much further. He maintains that the hierocratic sector was comprised of the Zadokite priesthood, which was in conflict with the Levites for domination of the cult. It also opposed the visionary element that, in the tradition of Deutero-Isaiah, awaited an apocalyptic breakthrough of divine sovereignty. Prophetic support for these movements, according to Hanson, revolves around Haggai and Zechariah particularly, both of whom championed the hierocratic cause. Deutero-Zechariah (i.e., chaps. 9-14), on the other hand, favored the idealists, expressing its message in the strong apocalyptic terms characteristic of that composition. Hanson does not deny apocalyptic to the hierocratic faction, arguing in fact that apocalyptic was common to both schools, but he sharply distinguishes between heirocratic apocalypticism, which viewed the end as already present, and visionary apocalpticism, which still awaited the eschaton.

The historical turning point that marked the victory of the hierocrats was the accession of Darius to the throne and his support of Temple construction and Jewish nationhood, even to the extent of allowing a Davidic offspring, Zerubbabel, to occupy high office. This apparent fulfillment of the earlier prophetic promises made it clear beyond question (so Hanson) that the long-awaited eschatological kingdom had come and the priests were at least its co-administrators. With the disappearance of Zerubbabel shortly thereafter, Joshua alone was in control, a turn of events that henceforth guaranteed to the priesthood the place of political as well as cultic dominance. Apart from the feeble ex post facto efforts of Deutero-Zechariah, especially, the hierocratic view of reality remained in place until the second century when new struggles revived the visionaries once more along with their particular brand of apocalypticism.182

Although there is much to commend in Hanson’s approach, his assumption of party strife with its accompanying notion of antithetical apocalyptic schools is totally without foundation, as many critics of his book have pointed out.183 The alleged differences between the Deutero-Isaiah tradition and that of Trito-Isaiah, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and the Chronicler can be sustained only by positing the hypothesis in the first place and then reading the various texts accordingly.184 In point of fact, there is a univocal message from apocalyptic and non-apocalyptic prophet alike that the present systems and structures of Jewish life—political, social, and religious—are short-lived and are to be replaced wholesale by the eschatological rule and domain of YHWH their God. Haggai, Zechariah, and the others do indeed exhort their countrymen to rebuild and restore, but they insist nevertheless that what they build is only anticipatory of something far more glorious in the age to come. History to them and to all the prophets is the threshold opening up to the kingdom of God, but it is not synonymous with it.

      Literary Integrity

Much of the previous discussion of the language and style of Zechariah has alluded to and indeed been informed by questions of its unity, date, authorship, and structure. This last point will be addressed separately below, but it cannot be avoided altogether in this section. It is hoped that many of the issues raised in the previous pages will also find clarification and support here.

A random check of commentaries on Zechariah reveals that few address the whole book and, if they do, they approach it as two separate works, each in need of its own commentary. Even more surprising, and indeed dismaying, is the lack of justification for this bifurcation of the book, except for such desultory comments as those of D. L. Petersen in his otherwise fine work on Zechariah 1-8: “In this commentary I follow the critical judgment of scholars over the years who have discerned a fundamental division between Zechariah 1-8 and 9-14.”185 Then, citing only Eissfeldt (1965) and Otzen (1964) for support, he proceeds to deal with Zechariah 1-8 as though that were the end of the matter, totally ignoring the fruit of twenty years of labor that has called the bifurcation of the book into question again.

Similarly, in their massive recent commentary on Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 (1987), Carol L. and Eric M. Meyers defend the limits of their work not only for reasons of length, but because “it is our present contention that these two works [Zechariah 9-14 and Malachi] emanate from the latter part of the first half of the fifth century.”186 Presumably a stronger defense for the division of Zechariah will appear in their forthcoming commentary on Zechariah 9-14 and Malachi.

There is, then, a consensus in critical scholarship that Zechariah is a composite of two or even three major works, Zechariah (1-8), Deutero-Zechariah (9-11), and Trito-Zechariah (12-14). This consensus is so deep-rooted and taken for granted that most modern commentaries, as just observed, take it as a given. Even standard introductions repeat the arguments for division raised many years ago. While this is perhaps to be lamented, it is incumbent on those who adhere to the book’s unity to provide some kind of credible rationale in light of this solid wall of contrary opinion.

Ironically enough, the first crack in the structure of unity of composition came at the devout hands of the seventeenth-century English scholar Joseph Mede, who noted that Matt. 27:9a attributed the following quotation (vv. 9b-10) to Jeremiah when in fact it appears to be based on Zech. 11:12-13. He took this to mean that the Holy Spirit was attempting in this manner to correct the tradition of authorship by attributing chapters 9-11 of Zechriah to Jeremiah instead.187

Subsequent investigation revealed that chapters 12-14 also must be denied to Zechariah, for this section too was incompatible with the chronological parameters of Zechariah.188 Specifically, chapters 9-11, with their references to Ephraim (i.e., Israel) and Assyria, must antedate 722 B.C., the year Samaria fell and Ephraim no longer existed. Chapters 12-14, on the other hand, depict Judah as still existing but seem to view Josiah as having already died (12:11). A date for this section between 609 and 586 thus seemed reasonable. In both cases, these sections were many decades earlier than Zechariah.

There remained the question as to why chapters 9-11 were allotted to Zechariah at all if he was indeed not their author. One answer was that a Zechariah in fact did write this section, but he was Zechariah son of Jeberechiah, a contemporary of Isaiah (Isa. 8:2). The ascription in Zech. 1:1, “Zechariah the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo,” was assumed to be a conflation of the name of the early Zechariah and that of the author of the first eight chapters, known elsewhere (Neh. 12:16) simply as the son of Iddo. As a result, Zechariah son of Jeberechiah became confused with Zechariah son of Iddo and the first eleven chapters at least were ascribed to Zechariah son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, making the author the grandson rather than the son of Iddo.189

Apart from the distinct difference between the names Berechiah and Jeberechiah, this thesis falls apart when it is recognized that the contents of chapters 9-14 are much later than the period of Isaiah, the extreme views of some scholars in that direction notwithstanding. This point was first elaborated systematically by Bernhard Stade (1881) who maintained the unity of 9-14 but insisted that it must be dated long after Zechariah, probably as late as the latter part of the wars of Alexander’s successions, the Diadochi (ca. 280 B.C.). The reason for this was the reference to Greece in Zechariah 9:13 and to what appears to be a series of conflicts involving either Alexander, the Diadochi, or even the Ptolemies of the third century B.C. (Zech 9:1-10).190

Once the lateness of the second part of the book had been conceded, it was an easy matter for some scholars to search for a Maccabean or even later milieu for its origin. The parable of the shepherds (11:4-17), for example, was thought to be based on three actual kings, ranging from the Israelite kings Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem (the preexilic view)191 to the Jewish priests Simon, Menelaus, and Lysimachus of the second century.192 The very latitude of interpretation suggested by these extreme positions on just one pericope is typical of the manner in which the whole section is dealt with. There is little wonder that attempts to date the various oracles on the basis of perceived historical settings have met with such little favor.

A little more moderation prevails in contemporary study of the matter of the unity of Zechariah but, as already indicated, virtually no critical scholar accepts the authorship of all book by Zechariah. Some, such as Hill193 and Hanson,194 come close by at least dating the two parts at about the same time. Others admit the close dependence of 9-14 on 1-8, attributing it to an early “Zechariah school,” or something of the sort.195 There are a few who still regard 9-14 as essentially a hodge-podge collection of originally independent pieces, a collection whose organization and coherence, if any, are to be attributed to sensitive and creative editorializing. Artur Weiser, who embraces this position, does admit that “it is not absolutely necessary to conjecture this since the discrepancies can also be explained by the author being dependent on earlier materials.”196

The remainder of the proponents of a Deutero-Zechariah position hold tenaciously either to a preexilic setting for some of the material, with the rest in the era of Zechariah or later,197 or to a late, post-Zechariah date, even as late as the Maccabean period.198 Those views are, however, dwindling in support for reasons to be adduced next and in the following section.

In his important critical commentary H. G. Mitchell, though a staunch advocate of a multiple authorship thesis, marshaled some strong support in favor of the unity of Zechariah, if only for the purpose of exposing its weakness.199 He particularly cited G. L. Robinson, The Prophecies of Zechariah (1896), who compiled an exhaustive list of items that he believed betrayed common authorship. Many of these, upon closer examination, are doubtless of little value because of their generalities, but the following appear to be noteworthy and to have elicited from Mitchell some rather unconvincing rebuttal.

Robinson points out five major areas of comparison. First of all, the two parts, he says, contain the same fundamental ideas such as “an unusually deep spiritual tone”; a similar attitude of hope and expectation regarding the return of the nation, the habitation of Jerusalem, the building of the Temple, a messianic hope, and God’s universal providence; the prophet’s attitude toward Judah; and his attitude toward the nations.

Second, Robinson notes common “peculiarities of thought.” Specifically he lists “the habit of dwelling on the same thought,” the tendency to expand a fundamental thought into five parallel clauses (cf. 1:17; 3:8; 6:13, etc.), the use made of the cardinal number two, the resort to symbolic actions, and the habit of drawing lessons from the past.

He next cites “certain peculiarities of diction and style” and offers an extensive list, many of which, to be sure, are questionable. That many others are significant is tacitly admitted by Mitchell, who has to resort to assuming interpolations in a few of the passages that Robinson adduces, fewer examples of other types than Robinson lists, and the possibility that many of the similarities may be accounted for by copyists’ mistakes.

The last compelling comparison Robinson draws is the citation by both parts of Zechariah of the same earlier prophets. This Mitchell dismisses by observing that “although most of the books with which parallels may be found are the same, the number of coincidences with some of them is very different.”200 He fails to give any specific examples that would support his objection.201

Joyce Baldwin offers many of the same evidences for unity as propounded by Robinson, as well as a few more.202 She draws attention to similarity of phraseology between 2:10 and 9:9 and between 7:14 and 9:8, for example. Other fruitful comparisons are in 6:10, 11, 13; 8:4, 5; 14:5; and 14:9 where, in each case, there is repetition of a key idea. The predilection for the vocative is common to both parts as well.

Though the arguments for divided authorship are quite substantial, as the previous survey shows, they are not insuperable and, in fact, even at the level of vocabulary, style, motifs, and themes a strong case can be made for the contrary and traditional persuasion that the entire book originated from the pen of one man, its attributive author, and from the last quarter of the sixth century. Recent studies of a more rhetorical-literary kind are even more devastating to the prevailing source-critical approaches, threatening even to dismantle them entirely, at least in the form in which they have appeared in the past two centuries. It is appropriate now to turn to some of these newer analyses.

      Literary Structure

It is impossible here to do more than focus on two or three recent studies of the form and structure of Zechariah and/or its major sections. This will be accomplished by looking first at Zechariah 1-8 as addressed by Meyers and Meyers, 9-14 by Lamarche, and the synthesis of the whole proposed by Baldwin.

The very first sentence of the lengthy section of their introduction to Haggai-Zechariah 1-8 entitled “Literary Considerations” reveals the position of Meyers and Meyers (hereafter, the Meyers) concerning the relationship of Haggai to Zechariah and the unity of Zechariah 1-8: “Haggai and the first eight chapters of the canonical book of Zechariah belong together as a composite work.”203 They then proceed to build their case by first of all citing common themes, such as reorganization of national life and institutions, common casts of characters, and common sets of questions and answers addressed to and responded to by the respective prophets.

The unity goes beyond this in their view, however, for the Meyers suggest a time close after the last date in Zechariah (Dec. 7, 518 B.C.) when a redaction of the whole collection took place. This must have preceded the Temple dedication of 516 or 515, because that event is not mentioned, but the completion of the Temple, on the other hand, may have given the prophets the sanction that would allow their works to be rounded off and combined as one publication. This redactionary work explains, in their opinion, the mixing of genres within and between the books so as to produce an unmistakable coherence and pattern.

Though admitting that the redactor’s identity can never be known for certain, the Meyers are quite comfortable in attributing the final work to Zechariah himself (cf. Zech. 7:4; 8:1). The interlocking of the chronological data of both books was a device he used to provide a unifying structure, and it is of interest to note that, though there are eight date formulae, there are only seven dates, two in Haggai being the same (Hag. 2:19, 20). This repeated date is in the center of the list of dates, and it marks the Temple refoundation ceremony. Moreover, the pattern 7 + 1 for the dates establishes a pattern followed throughout the collection. For example, seven of the date formulae have month/day/year, whereas an eighth (Zech. 1:1) omits it; seven dates are in Darius’s second year and an eighth is in his fourth; and seven dates precede the unit for which they provide information, while one (Hag . 1:15) follows. The pattern 7 + 1 has other applications, to be noted later.

The Meyers next point out correspondences between Haggai and Zechariah 7-8, beginning with the date formula in Haggai 1:1 and Zechariah 7:1, the only two in which the regnal year of the Persian king is the first item. Then in a chart they list 17 more features shared by Haggai 1-2 and Zechariah 7-8.204 Some of these may not be significant (e.g., “be strong” or “blessing”) but the cumulative effect is quite impressive.

As for Zechariah 1-8 itself, the Meyers admit the threefold division of 1:1-6, 1:7-6:15, and 7:1-8:23 but see interconnections of style and subject matter that bind the whole together. Thus, part one is introductory narrative, part two is primarily vision material, and part three oracular. The three parts appear to reflect chronological development as well, as the date formulae make clear. Though narration dominates in part one, however, there is also oracle; visions are central in part two, but there are also oracles; and oracles prevail in part three, but not without narration.205

Phraseology and vocabulary also are distributed repetitively among the three sections. Thus between parts one and three are such words as “word of YHWH came to” (1:1 and 7:1, 4; 8:1, 8), “earlier prophets” (1:4, 5, 6 and 7:7, 12), “proclaim” (1:4 and 7:7, 13), ancestors (1:4-6 and 7:11-12), divine anger/wrath (1:2 and 7:12), “Thus spoke YHWH of Hosts” (1:3, 4 and 7:9; 8:2, 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 14, 19, 20, 23), and “decided to” (1:6 and 8:14, 15). The list of commonalities between parts two and three is even more impressive. A few (out of 14 listed by the Meyers) are: “seventy years” (1:12 and 7:5), Jerusalem inhabited (2:8 and 7:7), holy mountain (2:17 and 8:3), “They will be my people” (2:15 and 8:8), and Yehud as holy land (2:16 and 8:22-23).

Within part two (1:7-6:15) the Meyers have observed a further 7 + 1 pattern in the distribution of the visions. As is well known, there are eight of these arranged (so the Meyers) in three subsets: three (1-3) at the beginning, three (5-7) at the end, and two (“prophetic” vision and number 4) in the middle. This arrangement is defended by the parallels drawn between the first three and the last three visions, namely, subject matter (e.g., horses in 1 and 7), internal structure, and language. Moreover, the units of visions 5-7 are in inverse order to those same units in visions 1-3. This focuses attention on the two middle visions which become, for that reason, the heart of the discourse.

That central point becomes clear also by considering the purview of the visions. By means of concentric circles the Meyers graphically demonstrate that the outer circle (visions 1 and 7) is universal in its outlook, with number 1 emphasizing God’s omniscience and number 7 His omnipotence. The next circle (visions 2 and 6) is international, stressing Judah and the empires (2) and Yehud and Persia (6). The third circle (visions 3 and 5) is national in character, dealing with Jerusalem’s territory (3) and the self-rule of Yehud (5). The center then (prophetic vision + 4) is Jerusalem, specifically the Temple and leadership.

In an admittedly arbitrary way, the Meyers have not included Zech. 3:1-7 as one of the numbered visions, though they offer reasons why. Primarily it is because this vision lacks the standard formulaic language of the others and because of the 7 + 1 pattern that seems to be a dominant element of Zechariah’s composition. Yet, it is clearly a vision and, in fact, is complementary to vision 4. Therefore it cannot be eliminated entirely.

As for part three (7:1-8:23), the Meyers point out the literary integrity of these two chapters by themselves and also their relationship to Haggai as framework for Zechariah 1-6. They have their own date formula (7:1) but lack visions, clear signs of their independence of part two, but with part one (1:1-6) they share a retrospective interest and with part two (1:7-6:15) common oracular language. There can be no question therefore of the unity of the third part and of its intrinsic connection to both part one and part two.

All in all, the Meyers have made a bold and creative statement concerning the unity of Zechariah 1-8 and its relationship to Haggai. Whether their analysis will stand the test of rigid criticism remains to be seen, but its general position is likely to prove correct.

It is unfortunate that they fail to follow up their own method by applying it both to Zechariah 9-14 (which they may indeed do in their forthcoming commentary) and to the whole matter of the unity of 1-14, something they have almost dismissed out of hand.206 Happily, however, Paul Lamarche has redressed the first lack in his revolutionary study, Zacharie IV-XIV: Structure Litteraire et Messianisme (1961).207 Of particular interest here is his rhetorical-critical analysis of this section, an analysis that has led him to conclude that these chapters are all of one piece, a unity designed and composed in such an intricate manner as to leave no doubt as to its integrity.208 The method employed or, better, discovered in the composition itself, is that of chiasmus, an arrangement by which a pattern of inverse relationships forms the organization of the piece in question.209

To illustrate his approach Lamarche turns first to Zechariah 14:1-15.210 He then finds the structure a, b, c, d, e, d’, c’, b’, a’, with vv. 1-2a and 12-15 forming the outer envelope, 2a-b and 10b-11 the next inner, 3-5 and 9-10a the next, 6 and 7b-8 next, and finally 7a in the center. That focal point is the unique day of YHWH, around which the entire passage revolves.

After reviewing earlier approaches (pp. 20-23), Lamarche presents his own method (pp. 23-33) before applying it to each of the pericopes of the section (pp. 34-104) and setting out his conclusions in terms of both structure and meaning (pp. 105-23). It is clearly impossible to do more than consider the former of these—the literary structure—at this point, though some of the exegetical insights will receive due attention in the commentary.

Lamarche begins by noting chiastic structures in the last part of the section, chapters 12-14. He suggests a parallelism between 12:1-9 and 14:1-15, one confirmed by several verbal correspondences (12:3 and 14:2; 12:6 and 14:10; 12:9 and 14:12). Next, there clearly is an inclusio surrounding 12:10-13:1 and 13:7-9 (cf. 12:10 and 13:7; 13:1 and 13:9; 12:10 and 13:9). As for 13:7-9, which most critics say is misplaced here, belonging rather to the shepherd text of chapter 11, Lamarche replies that it is perfectly in place here, both text-critically and literary-critically, as his chiasm shows beyond question.211

Turning to chapters 9-11, Lamarche cites the pairing of 9:1-8 with 14:16-21; 9:9-10 with 11:4-17; and 9:11-10:1 with 10:3b-11:3. The brief “idol-oracle” of 10:2-3a is left as the centerpiece.

Lamarche has clearly made his point about the unity of 9-11 and 12-14 respectively, but he goes beyond that to show the unity between them established through a remarkable integration of the two chiastic structures. As pointed out above, he has linked 9:1-8 and 14:16-21, providing thereby a bracket around the whole of the material. Both pericopes deal with the nations, the neighboring and the distant as well. 9:9-10 (arrival and description of the king) and 11:4-17 (rejection of the shepherd by the people) correspond within 9-11 but also with a matched pair in 12-14, namely, 12:10-13:1 (the piercing of the representative of YHWH) and 13:7-9 (the smiting of the shepherd). Whereas this second element (9:9-10) immediately follows the first in chapters 9-11, in 12-14 it (12:10-13:1) is third; i.e., there is an inversion of the second and third components. It follows, then, that the third element in 9-11 (9:11-10:1) and its companion (10:3b-11:3) correspond to the second element in 12-14 (12:1-9 and 14:1-15). The middle text of 12-14 concerns the suppression of idols and false prophets (13:2-6), precisely the message of the centerpoint of 11-13 (10:2-3a).

The chart of the preceding (without the content labels) is as follows:

It is readily apparent that a cohesive structure exists in which nothing is omitted and to which nothing need be added. As Lamarche concludes, one can hardly account for such symmetry and integration apart from single authorship.212

Between them the Meyers and Lamarche appear to have made redoubtable cases for the unity of Zechariah 1-8 and 9-14, respectively. But what may be said of the unity of the entire book? To our knowledge no one has yet attempted a full-scale investigation of the problem along rhetorical-critical lines, though some efforts have been made in the area of linguistic and statistical analyses.213 An exception is the brief statement of Joyce Baldwin in her commentary,214 but her remarks are quite preliminary and need considerable testing and elaboration.

Baldwin draws attention to chiastic patterns within Zechariah 1-6, suggesting that the eight visions are arranged abbccbba, with the theological climax in the middle, the fourth and fifth (so also the Meyers). Moreover, the introductory call of 1:1-6 is repeated in the sermons of 7:4-14 and 8:9-17, themselves part of a chiastic pattern. The climax of 1-8, Baldwin shows, is the flocking of the nations to Jerusalem (8:20-23), a theme repeated in 14:16-21. Other chiasms she adduces are in 1:14-17; 8:9-13; 10:10, 11; and 14:1-15, where the misfortunes of vv. 1-6 are balanced by the joys of vv. 7-14. On the whole, when linguistic, literary, and theological aspects are given careful and sympathetic consideration, there is more to favor the unity of the book than its division.

As far as literary form is concerned, the same confusion in the matter as has marked the study of Haggai also prevails in the study of Zechariah. A glance at the two major editions of the MT will show that BHK regards all of Zechariah as prose, whereas BHS takes the following to be poetic: 1:3b, 5-6, 14b-17; 2:8b-14; 3:7-10; 4:6b-10a; 5:4; 6:12b-13; 7:5, 9-10; 8:2-13, 20-22; 9:9-10, 11-17; 10:1-12; 11:1-3, 17; 14:1-19. The distinction between Hebrew prose and poetry is notoriously difficult to make, so one ought not be dogmatic, especially when the major hallmarks of poetry, such as parallelism, are either missing or poorly developed.

Andrew Hill has examined the matter to some extent, especially in chapters 9-14, and concludes on the basis of the “prose-particle” method of Andersen and Freedman that “Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, and Malachi are representative of Hebrew prose, while Second Zechariah appears to be a mixture of poetry (chapter 9) and prose (chapters 10-14).”215 Portnoy and Petersen basically concur,216 though they broaden the range of poetry to include most of chapters 9-11. It seems, then, that though poetic elements do occur sporadically throughout the book, especially in the great eschatological oracles of chapters 9-11, Zechariah has composed his message primarily in prose.

As a result of the literary/rhetorical analyses just surveyed, it is apparent that several modes of outlining the material come to mind. For the purpose of dealing with the units in a manageable way, however, some of the interlocking patterns that appear to be plausible cannot be followed in the format of a commentary. The following outline will therefore reveal the structure around which the exposition proceeds.

Part One: The Night Visions (1:1-6:15)

    1. Introduction (1:1-6)

          Visions (1:7-6:8)

    2. Vision One: The Four Horsemen (1:7-17)

      A. Introduction to the Visions (1:7)

      B. Content of the Vision (1:8)

      C. Interpretation of the Vision (1:9-15)

      D. Oracle of Response (1:16-17)

    3. Vision Two: The Four Horns (1:18-21 [HB 2:1-4)])

      A. Content of the Vision (1:18, 20 [HB 2:1, 3])

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (1:19, 21 [HB 2:2, 4])

    4. Vision Three: The Surveyor (2:1-13 [HB 2:5-17])

      A. Content of the Vision (2:1-2 [HB 2:5-6])

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (2:3-5 [HB 2:7-9])

      C. Oracle of Response (2:6-13 [HB 2:10-17])

        1. Warning to Babylon (2:6-9 [HB 2:10-13])

        2. Blessing for Judah (2:10-13 [HB 2:14-17])

    5. Vision Four: The Priest (3:1-10)

      A. Content of the Vision (3:1-5)

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (3:6-7)

      C. Oracle of Response (3:8-10)

    6. Vision Five: The Menorah (4:1-14)

      A. Content of the Vision (4:1-3)

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (4:4-6, 11-14)

      C. Oracle of Response (4:7-10)

    7. Vision Six: The Flying Scroll (5:1-4)

      A. Content of the Vision (5:1-2)

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (5:3-4)

    8. Vision Seven: The Ephah (5:5-11)

      A. Content of the Vision (5:5-7)

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (5:8-11)

    9. Vision Eight: The Chariots (6:1-8)

      A. Content of the Vision (6:1-4)

      B. Interpretation of the Vision (6:5-8)

    10. Concluding Oracle (6:9-15)

      A. The Selection of the Priest (6:9-12a)

      B. The Significance of the Priest (6:12b-15)

Part Two: Oracles Concerning Hypocritical Fasting (7:1-8:23)

    1. Introduction and Concern (7:1-3)

    2. Hypocrisy of Fasting (7:4-14)

      A. Criticism of Fasting (7:4-7)

      B. Instruction Concerning Fasting (7:8-14)

        1. Basis for Genuine Fasting (7:8-10)

        2. Rebellion Against YHWH’s Word (7:11-12)

        3. Judgment Because of Rebellion (7:13-14)

    3. Blessing of True Fasting (8:1-23)

      A. Restoration of Jerusalem (8:1-8)

      B. Prosperity of Jerusalem (8:9-13)

      C. Expectations for Jerusalem (8:14-17)

      D. Pilgrimage to Jerusalem (8:18-23)

Part Three: Oracle Concerning YHWH’S Sovereignty (9:1-11:17)

    1. Coming of the True King (9:1-17)

      A. Historical and Eschatological Preparation for His Coming (9:1-8)

      B. Historical and Eschatological Event of His Coming (9:9-10)

      C. Deliverance and Conquest of His People (9:11-17)

    2. Restoration of the True People (10:1-12)

      A. Rejection of Judah’s Wicked Leadership (10:1-3a)

      B. Selection of Judah’s Righteous Leadership (10:3b-7)

      C. Judah and the Second Exodus (10:8-12)

    3. History and Future of Judah’s Wicked Kings (11:1-17)

      A. Summation of Their Judgment (11:1-3)

      B. The Prophet as a Shepherd(-king) (11:4-14)

        1. His Charge Because of Judah’s Wicked Kings (11:4-6)

        2. His Enactment of YHWH’s Rejection of the Wicked Kings (11:7-11)

        3. His Fee for Serving as the Shepherd (11:12-14)

      C. The Evil Shepherd(-king) to Come (11:15-17)

Part Four: Oracle Concerning Israel (12:1-14:21)

    1. Repentance of Judah (12:1-14)

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

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

    2. Refinement of Judah (13:1-9)

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

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

    3. Sovereignty of YHWH (14:1-21)

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

        1. Their Tribulation (14:1-2)

        2. Their Salvation (14:3-8)

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

        1. Their Security (14:9-11)

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

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

      Distinctive Teaching

The overall message of Zechariah, though occasionally obscure, is largely clear and plain. The prophet is concerned to comfort his discouraged and pessimistic compatriots, who are in the process of rebuilding their Temple and restructuring their community but who view their efforts as making little difference in the present and offering no hope for the future. With his eye on both the temporal task at hand and the eschatological day to come, he challenges members of the restored remnant to go to work with the full understanding that what they do, feeble as it appears, will be crowned with success when YHWH, true to His covenant word, will bring to pass the fulfillment of His ancient promises to the fathers.

The media through which he communicates this word of encouragement and triumph are those of apocalyptic vision and interwoven and separately articulated oracles of eschatological salvation. Thus, horses and horns, measuring lines and menorahs, communicate symbolically that YHWH’s house will be built (Zech 1:16), His cities made prosperous (1:17), and secure (7:5). The nations will join in pilgrimage to them (2:11), a pilgrimage that will lead to the dwelling place of YHWH which He will bring to completion by His own might and power (4:6-10). Evil will be removed from the land (5:8-11), so that the son of David might reign in peace as priest and king (6:8, 12-13).

The hypocrisy of the present day (7:6) will become a thing of the past, for YHWH will first judge His people (7:14), then bring them back to the land (8:8) so that they might worship Him in truth and righteousness (8:14-17). So mighty will be His display of grace to His people that many nations will take note and desire to become one with them (8:20-23). Johan A. Burger sees two levels of meaning in Zechariah, the particularistic and the universalistic. He sees them, however, in contradiction to each other, with the latter the only appropriate one for the Christian. These bipolar themes are, indeed, the central foci of the book, but that they are in contradiction is without theological basis. Zechariah views Israel as the special object of YHWH’s saving grace, but in the development of eschatological hope Israel becomes the vehicle by which the nations come to faith as well. Thus the particularistic gives way to the universalistic.217

Those who do not respond to YHWH’s call will be like His enemies of old, whom He reduced to ignominy and disgrace (9:1-7). Led by their conquering king, the armies of YHWH will establish universal peace (9:9-10). Their ability to do this will be predicated on YHWH’s mighty arm. For as in days of old when He brought His redeemed people out of Egypt, He will repeat this act so that they might once more enter the land of promise over which they exercise dominion (10:8-12). The wicked rulers of the past (chap. 11) will be replicated in the future, but not for long, for they will be replaced by the godly house of David (12:7-8). From that house one figure will stand out, a pierced One who will be a nexus of repentance and forgiveness (12:10). YHWH Himself will purify His people (13:1) and restore them to covenant oneness with Himself (13:9). Then He Himself will come to deliver His beleagured people once and for all and to rule over them and over all nations that in that day will make pilgrimage to Jerusalem and offer homage to His sovereignty (14:9, 16).

This is not the message of either a “hierocratic realist” or an “apocalyptic idealist.” It is, rather, that of a man of God who has his feet firmly planted in both worlds—that of the struggling, disappointed, disillusioned, post-exilic Jewish community and that of the glorious redeemed kingdom of YHWH yet to come.218 The one, important as it is in the here and now, will give way to the other. It is sufficient for the people of the remnant to know this and, motivated by it, to be about the business of serving their God in the day in which He placed them.

    Transmission of the Text

The text of Zechariah is in excellent repair, there being but few places (to be noted in the commentary) where the MT may be improved from the versions or other Hebrew traditions. In no case does the material appear to be dislocated, either from text-critical or internal considerations.

H. G. Mitchell has provided an exhaustive list219 of textual modifications on the basis of “additions, omissions and distortions through the fault of careless or ignorant transcribers.”220 For the most part the items he lists rest on purely conjectural emendations, an approach that enjoys little favor today, though some must and will be given serious consideration in the commentary.

Taeke Jansma has made a comprehensive study of all the textual data of Zechariah 9-14, something that sorely needs to be done for the first eight chapters as well.221 Again, his evidence would tend to support the conclusion stated above that the MT is in a remarkably good state of preservation and that only in extremely superficial (and probably, in most cases, tendentious) ways do the manuscripts and versions depart from it. In conclusion, Jansma’s observation about the relative role and significance of text-criticism in general is worth noting: “Judging and weighing is the work of exegesis. Every text-critical work only goes part of the way. It may find its completion by an exegetical study.”222 To that task we must now turn our attention.


148 Richard A. Parker and Waldo H. Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology 626 B.C.-A.D. 75 (Providence: Brown University, 1956), p. 30.

149 See commentary on Haggai above, 3-4, 45.

150 Parker and Dubberstein, Babylonian Chronology, 30.

151 H. G. M. Williamson, Ezra, Nehemiah, WBC (Waco, Tex: Word, 1985), xxviii-xxxii.

152 A. T. Olmstead, History of the Persian Empire (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1948), 142.

153 Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:597; cf. Gleason L. Archer, Jr., A Survey of Old Testament Introduction, rev. ed. (Chicago: Moody, 1985), 437.

154 Klaus Seybold, Bilder zum Tempelbau. Die Visionen des Propheten Sacharja (Stuttgart: KBW Verlag, 1974), 24-30.

155 Albert Petitjean, Les Oracles du Proto-Zacharie (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969), viii.

156 Christian Jeremias, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1977), 88-106.

157 J. W. Rothstein, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja, BWAT 8 (Leipzig: J. C. Hinrichs’sche Buchhandlung, 1910).

158 L. G. Rignell, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja (Lund: Gleerup, 1950); Kurt Galling, “Die Exilswende in der Sicht des Propheten Sacharja,” VT 2 (1952): 18-36 (reprinted in Studien zur Geschichte Israels im Persischen Zeitalter [Tübingen: J.C.B. Mohr, 1964], 109-26); Klaus Seybold (see n. 7); Christian Jeremias (see n. 9 above); Gerhard Wallis, “Die Nachtgesichte des Propheten Sacharja: zur Idee einer Form,” Congress Volume Gttingen, 1977, ed. W. Zimmerli, et al. (Leiden: Brill, 1978), 377-91; Baruch Halpern, “The Ritual Background of Zechariah’s Temple Song,” CBQ 40 (1978): 167-90.

159 Rothstein, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja, 3-7.

160 Georg Fohrer, Introduction to the Old Testament (London: SPCK, 1970), 463.

161 Carol L. Meyers and Eric M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, AB (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1987).

162 David L. Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1984), 113-14.

163 W.A.M. Beuken, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8 (Assen: van Gorcum, 1967); Albert Petitjean (see n. 8 above); Joyce Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (London: Tyndale, 1972); David L. Petersen (see n. 15 above).

164 Cited by Petitjean, Les Oracles, viii.

165 Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 121.

166 Ibid., 122.

167 Paul Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961), 34.

168 Ibid., 35.

169 Ibid., 72-73.

170 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 70.

171 For important surveys see Michael A. Knibb, “Prophecy and the Emergence of the Jewish Apocalypses,” Israel’s Prophetic Tradition, eds. Richard Coggins, Anthony Phillips, and Michael Knibb (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1982), 155-80; John N. Oswalt, “Recent Studies in Old Testament Eschatology and Apocalyptic,” JETS 24 (1981): 289-301. For Zechariah’s special contribution to apocalyptic, see Samuel Amsler, “Zacharie et L’Origin de L’Apocalyptique,” Congress Volume, Uppsala, 1971, ed. H. Nyberg (Leiden: Brill, 1972), 227-31.

172 Klaus Koch, The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic, SBT 22 (London: SCM, 1972), 24.

173 Paul D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 4-8.

174 S.R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1913), 219-23. See also William R. Millar, Isaiah 24-27 and the Origin of Apocalyptic (Missoula, Mont.: Scholars Press, 1976). Millar traces apocalyptic to Isaiah 24-27, which he dates to the last half of the sixth century B.C., about the time of Zechariah (p. 120).

175 D. S. Russell, The Method and Message of Jewish Apocalyptic (London: SCM, 1964), 264-71.

176 John J. Collins, “The Place of Apocalypticism in the Religion of Israel,” in Ancient Israelite Religion, eds. Patrick D. Miller, Jr., Paul D. Hanson, S. Dean McBride (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1987), 549-58.

177 Koch, The Rediscovery of Apocalyptic, 24-33.

178 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 70.

179 Ibid., 7-74.

180 Otto Plger, Theokratie und Eschatologie, WMANT 2 (Neukirchen: Neukircher-Vluyn), 1959.

181 Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 278.

182 Ibid., 410.

183 See, e.g., P. R. Ackroyd, Int 30 (1976): 414; Robert P. Carroll, JSOT 14 (1979): 19-20; Alden Thompson, AUSS 15 (1977): 78; Ina Willi-Plein, VT 29 (1979): 124-25.

184 Carroll, JSOT 14, 25.

185 Petersen, Haggai and Zechariah 1-8, 109.

186 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, ix.

187 Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharia (Copenhagen: Prostand Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 11-13. This study contains a full history of research on this matter (pp. 11-34); see also Magne Saeb, “Die deuterosacharjanische Frage,” ST 23 (1969): 115-40.

188 This view was popularized especially by Leonhard Bertholdt. See Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharia, 20-22.

189 Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), 435.

190 Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 27-29.

191 So F. Hitzig, cited by Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 24.

192 So Willy Staerk, cited by Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 29.

193 Andrew E. Hill, “Dating Second Zachariah: A Linguistic Reexamination,” HAR 6 (1982): 132.

194 Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 27.

195 Carroll Stuhlmueller, Haggai & Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 47; Rex. A. Mason, “The Relation of Zech 9-14 to Proto-Zechariah,” ZAW 88 (1976): 227-39.

196 Artur Weiser, Introduction to the Old Testament (London: Darton, Longman & Todd, 1961), 274. For suggestions as to these “earlier materials,” see M. Delcor, “Les Sources du Deutro-Zacharie et Ses Procedes D’Emprunt,” RB 59 (1952): 385-411. Delcor does, however, view 9-14 as a unity, a work composed by a single author/editor (p. 411).

197 Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharia.

198 Marco Treves, “Conjectures Concerning the Date and Authorship of Zechariah IX-XIV,” VT 13 (1963): 196-207.

199 H. G. Mitchell, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 242-44.

200 Ibid., 244.

201 Other scholars have also drawn attention to connections between Zechariah 1-8 and 9-14. In addition to those mentioned by Robinson, B. S. Childs provides several others in his Introduction to the Old Testament As Scripture (London: SCM, 1979), 482-83.

202 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 68-69.

203 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, p. xliv. To show how far modern scholarship has come in 40 years in terms of an essentially unified view of Zechariah’s composition of chaps. 1-8, see Donald F. Robinson, “A Suggested Analysis of Zechariah 1-8,” ATR 33 (1951):65-70. Robinson limits the “authentic” material to 1:1-7, 14b-17; 2:6-13; 3:7-10; 4:6b-10a; 6:9-8:23 (pp. 67-68).

204 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, p. xlix. For further support of the Haggai-Zechariah 7-8 connection, see David J. Clark, “Discourse Structure in Zechariah 7.1-8.23,” BT 36 (1985): 334-35.

205 Meyers and Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8, li, chart 4.

206 Ibid., ix.

207 See note 20 above.

208 Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 154-55.

209 For an important but unpublished critique of Lamarche’s chiastic approach see G. Michael Butterworth, “The Structure of the Book of Zechariah” (diss. for King’s College, London, 1989), esp. 165-94. See also the book reviews by F. Buck, CBQ 24 (1962): 319-20; J. A. Emerton, JTS 14 (1963): 113-16; W. Harrelson, JBL 82 (1963): 116-17; R. Tournay, RB 69 (1962): 588-92. Meredith Kline (“The Structure of the Book of Zechariah,” JETS 34 [1991]: 192-93) has also suggested a structural interlocking on the basis of what he describes as “an intricate triple-hinge mechanism.” So sophisticated is this arrangement that there is no doubt, he says, that the entire book must be “attributed to an original master for the whole work.”

210 Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 11.

211 Ibid., 108.

212 Ibid., 106.

213 See, e.g., Yehuda T. Radday and Dieter Wickmann, “The Unity of Zechariah Examined in the Light of Statistical Linguistics,” ZAW 87 (1975): 30-55; Andrew E. Hill (see n. 46 above); Stephen L. Portnoy and David L. Petersen, “Biblical Texts and Statistical Analysis: Zechariah and Beyond,” JBL 103 (1984): 11-21; James A. Hartle, “The Literary Unity of Zechariah,” JETS 35 (1992):145-57.

214 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 80-81.

215 Hill, “Dating Second Zechariah: A Linguistic Reexamination,” 108.

216 Portnoy and Petersen, “Biblical Texts and Statistical Analysis: Zechariah and Beyond,” 20.

217 Johan A. Burger, “Two Levels of Meaning in the Book of Zechariah,” ThEv 14 (1981): 12-17.

218 Zechariah represents a position described by Patterson as “emergent apocalyptic.” See Richard D. Patterson, Nahum, Habbakuk, Zephaniah. WEC (Chicago: Moody, 1991), 288.

219 Mitchell, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 86-97, 222-31.

220 Ibid., 85.

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

222 Ibid., 59.

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines