Fausset Bible Dictionary
1. Eleventh of the 12 minor prophets. Son of Berechiah, grandson of Iddo; Ezra (Ezr_5:1; Exr_6:14) says son of Iddo, omitting Berechiah the intermediate link, as less known, and perhaps having died early. Zechariah was probably, like Ezekiel, priest as well as prophet, Iddo being the priest who returned with Zerubbabel and Joshua from Babylon (Neh_12:4; Neh_12:16). His priestly birth suits the sacerdotal character of his prophecies (Zec_6:13).
He left Babylon, where he was born, very young. Zechariah began prophesying in youth (Zec_2:4), “this young man. In the eighth month, in Darius’ second year (520 B.C.), Zechariah first prophesied with Haggai (who began two months earlier) in support of Zerubbabel and Shealtiel in the building of the temple, which had been suspended under Pseudo-Smerdis Artaxerxes (Ezr_4:24; Ezr_5:1-2; Ezr_6:14). The two, “Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the son of Iddo” the priest prophet, according to a probable tradition composed psalms for the liturgy of the temple: Psalms 137; 146 to 148, according to Septuagint; Psalm 125, 126 according to the Peshito; Psalm 111 according to Vulgate.
The Hallelujah characterizes the post exile psalms, it occurs at both beginning and end of Psalms 146 to 150; these are all joyous thanksgivings, free from the lamentations which appear in the other post exile psalms. Probably sung at the consecration of the walls under Nehemiah; but Hengstenberg thinks at the consecration of the second temple. Jewish tradition makes Zecharia a member of the great synagogue.
Thus saith the Lord of hosts – Jerome: “At each word and sentence, in which good things, for their greatness, almost incredible are promised, the prophet premises, “Thus saith the Lord of hosts,” as if he would say, Think not that what I pledge you are my own, and refuse me not credence as man. What I unfold are the promises of God.”
I was jealous – Literally, “I have been and am jealous for.” . He repeats in words slightly varied, but in the same rhythm, the declaration of tits tender love wherewith He opened the series of visions, thereby assuring beforehand that this was, like that, an answer of peace. The form of words shows, that this was a jealousy for, not with her; yet it was one and the same strong, yea infinite love, whereby God, as He says, “clave unto their fathers to love them and chose their seed after them out of all nations” Deu_10:15. His jealousy of their sins was part of that love, whereby, (Dionysius), “without disturbance of passion or of tranquillity, He inflicted rigorous punishment, as a man fearfully reproves a wife who sins.” They are two different forms of love according to two needs. Rup.: “The jealousy (Zelus) of God is good, to love people and hate the sins of people. Contrariwise the jealousy of the devil is evil, to hate people and love the sins of people.” Osorius: “Since God’s anger had its origin in the vehemence of His love (for this sort of jealousy arises from the greatness of love), there was hope that the anger might readily be appeased toward her.”
I am returned – Dionysius: “Without change in Myself, I am turned to that people from the effect of justice to the sweetness of mercy, “and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem,” in the temple and the people, indwelling the hearts of the good by charity and grace. Christ also, Very God and Very Man, visibly conversed and was seen in Zion.” Osorius: “When He says, ‘I am turned,’ He shows that she was turned too. He had said, “Turn unto Me and I will turn unto you;” otherwise she would not have been received into favor by Him. As the fruit of this conversion, He promises her His presence, the ornaments of truth, the hope of security, and adorns her with glorious titles.”
God had symbolized to Ezekiel the departure of His special presence, in that the “glory of the God of Israel” which was over the temple, at “the very place where they placed the image of jealousy, “went up from the Cherub” Eze_8:4-5, whereupon it was, “to the threshold of the house” Eze_9:3; then “stood over the Cherubim” Eze_10:4, Eze_10:18; and then “went up from the midst of the city and stood upon the mountain, which is on the east side of the city” Eze_11:23, so removing from them. He had prophesied its return in the vision of the symbolic temple, how “the glory of the Lord came into the house by the way of the gate looking toward the East, and the Spirit took me up and brought me into the inner court, and behold, the glory of the Lord filled the house” Eze_43:4. This renewed dwelling in the midst of them, Zechariah too prophesies, in the same terms as in his third vision, “I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem” (Zec_2:1-13 :14, Hebrew (Zec_2:10 in English)).
And Jerusalem shall be called the city of truth – , being what she is called, since God would not call her untruly; so Isaiah says, “afterward thou shalt be called the city of righteousness, the faithful city” Isa_1:26, and they shall call thee the city of the Lord, the Zion of the Holy One of Israel” . So Zephaniah had prophesied, “The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity, nor speak lies” Zep_3:13. Truth embraces everything opposite to untruth; faithfulness, as opposed to faithlessness; sincerity, as opposed to simulation; veracity, as opposed to falsehood; honesty, as opposed to untruth in act; truth of religion or faith, as opposed to untrue doctrine. Dionysius: “It shall be called the city of truth, that is, of the True God or of truth of life, doctrine, and justice. It is chiefly verified by the Coming of Christ, who often preached in Jerusalem, in whom the city afterward believed.”
And the mountain of the Lord of hosts – Mount Zion, on which the temple shall be built, shall be called and be “the mountain of holiness.” This had been the favorite title of the Psalmists , and Isaiah (Isa_11:9; Isa_56:7; Isa_57:13; Isa_65:11, Isa_65:25; Isa_66:20; also in Joe_2:1; Joe_3:17; Oba_1:16; Zep_3:11; Dan_9:16, Dan_9:20); and Obadiah had foretold, “upon Mount Zion there shall be holiness” Oba_1:17; and Jeremiah, “As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The Lord shall bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness” Jer_31:23. It should be called and be; it should fulfill the destination of its titles; as, in the Apostles’ Creed we profess our belief of “the holy Catholic Church,” and holiness is one of its characteristics.
There shall yet old men … dwell (sit), etc. A picture of happy security and plenty, in vivid contrast to the desolation deplored in Lam_2:1-22.; 5. In the days of the Maccabees it is noted, among other tokens of peace and prosperity, that “the ancient men sat all in the streets, communing together of good things” (1 Macc 14:9). For very age; Hebrew, for multitude of days. People shall reach the utmost limits of human life. According to the old Law, length of days was the reward of obedience (Gen_15:15; Exo_20:12; Deu_4:40), and an early death was inflicted as a punishment of sin (Deu_28:20; Psa_54:1-7 :23; Psa_78:33). Such promises are made also in Messianic times (Isa_65:20), though in a different sense.
Full of boys and girls. Jerusalem and the other cities had long been strangers to any such happy sight. Large increase of population is a blessing often promised in the latter days (Hos_1:10; Mic_2:12). Perowne remarks that our Lord alludes to the games of children the marketplaces as a familiar incident his days (Mat_11:16, Mat_11:17; comp. Jer_11:1-23).
If it should be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those – (not these) days, shall it be marvelous in Mine eyes also? saith the Lord of hosts Man’s anticipations, by reason of his imperfections and the chequered character of earthly things, are always disappointing. God’s doings, by reason of His infinite greatness and goodness, are always beyond our anticipations, past all belief. It is their very greatness which staggers us. It is not then merely that the temporal promises seemed “too good to be true” (in our words) (Jerome), “in the eyes of the people who had come from the captivity, seeing that the city almost desolate, the ruins of the city-walls, the charred houses showed the doings of the Babylonians.” It is in the day of the fulfillment, not of the anticipation, that they would seem marvelous in their eyes, as the Psalmist says, “This is the Lord’s doing: and it is marvelous in our eyes” .
The temporal blessings which God would give were not so incredible. They were but the ordinary gifts of His Providence: they involved no change in their outward relations. His people were still to remain under their Persian masters, until their time too should come. It was matter of gladness and of God’s Providence, that the walls of Jerusalem should be rebuilt: but not so marvelous, when it came to pass. The mysteries of the Gospel are a marvel even to the blessed angels. That fulfillment being yet future, so the people, in whose eyes that fulfillment should be marvelous, were future also. And this was to be a remnant still. It does not say, “this people which is a remnant,” nor “this remnant of the people,” that is, those who remained over out of the people who went into captivity, or this remnant, but “the remnant of this people,” that is, those who should remain over of it, that is, of the people who were returned. It is the remnant of the larger whole, this people (see at Amo_1:8, vol. i. p. 247, n. 28, and on Hag_1:12, p. 305). It is still “the remnant according to the election of grace;” that election which obtained what all Israel sought, but, seeking wrongly, were blinded Rom_11:5-7.
Shall it be marvelous in Mine eyes also? – It is an indirect question in the way of exclamation . “It be marvelous in Mine eyes also,” rejecting the thought, as alien from the nature of God, to whom “all things are possible, yea, what with men is impossible” Mat_19:26. As God says to Jeremiah, “Behold, I am, the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” Jer_32:27. “For with God nothing shall be impossible” Luk_1:37. “The things which are impossible with men are possible with God” Luk_18:27. “For with God all things are possible.” Mar_10:27 Cyril: “For He is the Lord of all powers, fulfilling by His will what exceedingly surpasseth nature, and efecting at once what seemeth Him good. The mystery of the Incarnation passeth all marvel and discourse, and no less the benefits redounding to us. For how is it not next to incredible, that the Word, Begotten of God, should be united with the flesh and be in the form of a servant, and endure the Cross and the insults and outrages of the Jews? Or how should one not admire above measure the issue of the dispensation, whereby sin was destroyed, death abolished, corruption expelled, and man, once a recreant slave, became resplendent with the grace of an adopted son?”
Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown
Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from, the west – i e., from every region (cf. Psa_50:1. The “east” is literally, ‘the rising of the sun;’ the “west” is literally, ‘the going down of the sun [ mizraach (H4217) … mªbow’ (H3996) hashaamesh (H8121)] to which they are scattered. They are now found especially in countries west of Jerusalem. The dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar was only to the east-namely, to Babylonia, The restoration, including a spiritual return to God (Zec_8:8), here foretold, must, therefore, be still future (Isa_11:11-12; Isa_43:5-6; Eze_37:21; Amo_9:14-15; also Zec_13:9; Jer_30:22; Jer_31:1; Jer_31:33).
They shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem – Not the literal Jerusalem; for this would not contain the Jews from all quarters of the world, whom, as they multiplied, the whole land could not contain; but the promised Jerusalem, the Jerusalem, which “should be inhabited as towns without walls,” to which the Lord should be a wall of fire round about.
And they shall be My people – He promises this as to those who were already His people; “I will save My people – and will bring them, and they shall dwell – and they shall be My people.” And this they were to be in a new way, by conversion of heart, as Jeremiah says, “I will give them an heart to know Me, that I am the Lord, and they shall be My people, and I will be their God: for they shall return unto Me with their whole heart” (Jer_24:7; add Jer_30:22), and, “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put My law in their inward parts, and will write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be My people” Jer_31:33.
Osorius: “The circuit of one city will not contain so great a multitude. But one confession of faith, one conspiration of sanctity, one communion of religion and righteousness, can easily enfold all born of the holy fathers, united to them in faith and piety. And God is specially called the God of all these. For He specially consults for these, loads them with benefits, fences them in with most strong protection, illumines them with His light, crowns them, when confirmed in the image of His beauty, with glory immortal and divine.”
In truth and in righteousness – This too is on account of their former relation to God. Isaiah had upbraided them for a worship of God, “not in truth and righteousness” Isa_48:1. Jeremiah had said, “Thou shalt swear, the Lord liveth, in truth, in judgment, and in righteousness” Jer_4:2. God should be their God in truth and righteousness; Ribera: “truth in fulfilling His promises; righteousness in rewarding every man according to his works.”
thy King cometh] The reference to Christ, the true King of Israel, is direct and immediate. Even if the prophecy be placed before the exile, no event in Jewish history answers, even typically, to this prediction. After the exile no Jewish ruler bore the title of King. “The prophet here briefly shews the manner in which the church is to be restored, namely, because a King will come forth of the tribe and family of David, to bring all things to their pristine order. And this line of argument constantly occurs in the Prophets, since the hope of the ancient people rested, as ours does, on Christ.” Calvin.
unto thee] not only to thee locally, but for thy benefit. “He teaches us that this King will not come for His own sake, as earthly princes rule after their own lust, or for their own advantage: but that this kingdom will be shared by the whole people, because, that is, of the prosperous condition which it will introduce.” Calvin.
having salvation] Rather, saved. The Jewish and Christian (LXX. σώζων; Vulg. salvator) versions render actively, “Saviour.” But there is no need to depart from the grammatical and usual (Deu_33:29; Psa_33:16; Isa_45:17) meaning of the word. “He trusted in Jehovah that He would deliver Him,” was not only a prediction of the taunt of His enemies (Mat_27:43), but an exposition of the ruling principle of the mediatorial work of the man Christ Jesus. And as the reward of that trust He was “saved.” Heb_5:7. At the same time, as Calvin (whose whole note on this verse is worth consulting) points out, the active signification of saving others is really included in the passive of being saved Himself. For inasmuch as the King comes not for Himself but “for” Sion (see last note), He is “just and saved” not for Himself but for her. “If he came privately for himself, he might have been for himself just and saved, that is, his righteousness and salvation might have belonged to himself or to his own person: but as he came for the sake of others, and has been for them endued with righteousness and salvation; then the righteousness and salvation of which mention is made here, belong to the whole body of the Church, and ought not to be confined to the person of the king… And certainly when we speak of men, we say not that a king is safe and secure, when he is expelled from his kingdom, or when his subjects are disturbed by enemies, or when they are wholly destroyed.”
[lowly] or meek. πραῦς. LXX. and Mat_21:5. The sense, “afflicted,” which the Heb. word will bear, and which Pusey says is necessarily contained in it, does not seem to be the prominent one here; but rather the meekness and lowliness (Mat_11:29) of His character and coming.
upon an ass] In keeping with and as an illustration of His “lowliness.” “In itself it would, if insulated, have been unmeaning. The Holy Ghost prophesied it, Jesus fulfilled it, to shew the Jews of what nature His kingdom was.” Pusey. So Calvin observes that the prophecy was at once metaphorical and literal. “for the Prophet means, that Christ would be as it were an obscure person, who would not make an appearance above that of the common people. That this is the real meaning is no doubt true. But yet there is no reason why Christ should not afford an example of this in mounting an ass.”
the foal of an ass] Lit. of she-asses; i.e. such as those animals bear. So Jephthah is said (Jdg_12:7) to have been buried “in the cities of Gilead;” i.e. (as the A. V. and R. V. supply) in “one of” them. Comp. Gen_19:29; Gen_37:31. The clause is added to define more exactly the words, “upon an ass:” even upon a colt, R. V. It was upon the colt that our Lord actually rode. The Evangelist’s addition, “whereon never man sat” (Mar_11:2), would seem to indicate that it was chosen, rather than the mother, on account of the sacred use to which it was to be put. Comp. Num_19:2; 1Sa_6:7; Luk_23:53.
I will cut off] Like Himself and His advent shall the character of His kingdom be. Not by weapons of earthly warfare shall it be established. As a kingdom of peace it shall cover the widest extent of the promised land, and thence extend over all the heathen nations of the world. Compare Isaiah’s prophecy (Zec_9:4-6): “for every greave of the warrior tramping with noise, and every (military) cloak rolled in blood shall be consigned to burning as fuel of fire. For unto us a Child is born … and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called … the Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and of peace there shall be no end.”
from Ephraim] The use of this name to denote the ten tribes (comp. Zec_9:13 and Zec_10:7) is not, as has been alleged, conclusive as to the ante-captivity date of this part of this Book. It is true that the name is not so used in “acknowledged post-captivity writings,” but it does not follow that because a writer so uses it, he is not a post-captivity writer. In chap. Zec_8:13 of this Book, which is confessedly written after the captivity, the “house of Judah” and the “house of Israel” are distinguished. And in a prophecy during the captivity, and why not therefore in one after it? the ten tribes are distinguished from the two by this very name of Ephraim. Eze_37:15-28.
from sea even to sea, &c.] Identical with Psa_72:8, where Dean Perowne quotes Pusey (Daniel, p. 480), “From the Mediterranean, their Western boundary, to the encircling sea beyond Asia’s utmost verge; and from their Eastern boundary, the river, the Euphrates, unto the ends of the earth,” and adds, “But perhaps we have only a poetical expression, not to be construed into the prose of geography, or to be explained (as by Rashi and others) as indicating the extent of territory laid down in Exo_23:31.”
As for thee also] Lit. also thou, i.e. as regards thee (O daughter of Sion), I will also (in addition to all that has been promised, Zec_9:9-10) liberate thy captives.” So Maurer: “Gaude, Sionia! veniet rex tuus tibi, justus cet.; removebuntur instrumenta belli, alta pax erit; auctum erit imperium tuum mirum in modum; etiam captivos tuos, qui in terris exteris detinentur, tibi restituam memor fœderis facti cum majoribus.”
by the blood of thy covenant] because of, &c. R. V., i.e. the covenant which I have made with thee. Exo_24:5-8. Comp. for the higher reference, Mat_26:28; Heb_9:15.
the pit wherein is no water] The “pit,” Gen_40:15, or “house of the pit,” Exo_12:29; Jer_37:16, as denoting the nature of its dungeons, which may in some cases have been actually empty wells (comp. Gen_37:24), is a common name for a prison in the O. T. The expression, “wherein is no water,” is probably added to emphasize the horrors of such a dungeon. “The prisoner in the land of his enemies was left to perish in the pit (Zec_9:11). The greatest of all deliverances is that the captive exile is released from the slow death of starvation in it (Isa_51:14). The history of Jeremiah, cast into the dungeon or pit (Jer_38:6; Jer_38:9), let down into its depths with cords, sinking into the filth at the bottom (here also there is no water), with death by hunger staring him in the face, shews how terrible an instrument of punishment was such a pit. The condition of the Athenian prisoners in the stone-quarries of Syracuse (Thuc. vii. 87), the Persian punishment of the σπόδος (Ctesias, Pers. 48), the oubliettes of mediζval prisons present instances of cruelty more or less analogous.” Bible Dict., Art. “Pit.”
This verse coheres closely with the verse which precedes it, and a full stop should be printed at the end of it, as in R. V. There is a sharp contrast between the stronghold here and the pit there. And the prisoners of hope in this verse are the prisoners to whom, while yet in the pit, the promise and hope of deliverance had been given in that verse.
strong hold] There may be a reference to the hill of Zion, or to the rocky fastnesses of Palestine, to which the exiles who had escaped from the pit or dungeon in Babylon were to turn, or return; but it may be merely a figurative expression (comp. Psa_40:2), and certainly is so in its higher spiritual and Christian application (Luk_4:18-21).
prisoners of hope] Comp. ἡ κτίσις ὑπετάγη ἐπʼ ἐλπίδι, κ. τ. λ., Rom_8:20-21.
double] Comp. Isa_61:7. From Exo_16:22, Job_42:10, it would appear that this means a very large and full measure (lit. twice as much as before) of blessing and prosperity.
Turn ye to the stronghold – that is, Almighty God; as the Psalmists so often say, “The Lord is the defense of my life” (Psa_27:1, add Psa_31:5; Psa_37:39; Psa_43:2; Psa_52:9); and Joel, “The Lord shall be a stronghold of the children, of Israel” ; and Nahum, “The Lord is a stronghold in the day of trouble” Nah_1:7; And, David said, “Thou hast been a shelter for me, a strong tower against the enemy” Psa_61:3; “the Name of the Lord is a strong tower, the righteous runneth into it and is safe” Pro_18:10; and again, “Be Thou to me a rock of strength, a house of defense to save me – Bring me forth out of the net that they have laid privily for me; for Thou art my stronghold” . The “stronghold,” “cut off” from all approach from an enemy, stands in contrast with the deep dungeon of calamity. The “return” must be a willing return, one in their own power; “return to the stronghold,” which is Almighty God, must be by conversion of heart and will. Even a Jewish commentator Kimchi paraphrases, “Turn ye to God; for He is a stronghold and tower of strength.”
Ye prisoners of – (the) hope Not, accordingly, any hope, or generally, “hope,” but the special hope of Israel, “the hope” which sustained them in all those years of patient expectations, as Paul speaks of “the hope of Israel,” for which he says, “I am bound with this chain” Act_28:20. “I stand to be judged for the hope of the promise made by God unto our fathers, unto which promise our twelve tribes, serving God instantly day and night, hope to come; for which hope’s sake, King Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews” Act_26:6-7. And in his Epistles, “the hope laid up for you in heaven” Col_1:5; “the hope of the Gospel” Col_1:23; and, “looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” Tit_2:13. He writes also of “keeping the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end” Heb_3:6; of “the full assurance of the hope unto the end” Heb_6:11; of “fleeing to lay hold on the hope set before us; which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast” Heb_6:18-19. He does not speak of hope as a grace or theological virtue, but, objectively, as the thing hoped for. So Zechariah calls to them as bound, held fast by “the hope,” bound, as it were, to it and by it, so as not to let it go, amid the persecution of the world, or weariness of expectation; as Paul also says, “before faith came, we were guarded, kept in ward, under the law, shut up unto the faith which was about to be revealed” Gal_3:23.
Even to-day – Amid all contrary appearances, “do I declare, that I will render double unto thee;” as He had said by Isaiah, “For your shame ye shall have double” Isa_61:7.