In that day] The day, or period, so often mentioned before (Zec_12:3-4; Zec_12:6; Zec_12:8-9; Zec_12:11), in which this whole prophecy shall be fulfilled.
a fountain opened … for sin and for uncleanness] The form of the promise is Jewish, the substance Christian. For the lustral waters of the Law, the “water of sin” (Num_8:7) and the “water of uncleanness” (Num_19:9, where the word is the same as here, though rendered, “water of separation,” A. V. and R. V.), which were contained and renewed in bowl or laver, and which did but “sanctify to the purifying of the flesh,” shall be substituted the living fountain of the Gospel, opened once but remaining open ever (comp. θύρα ἠνεῳγμένη Rev_4:1), which “purges the conscience from dead works to serve the living God.” (Heb_9:13-14; 1Jn_1:7.)
In that day there shall be a fountain opened – Zechariah often repeats, “in that day” Zec_12:3-4, Zec_12:6, Zec_12:8-9, Zec_12:11; Zec_13:1-2, Zec_13:4; Zec_14:6, Zec_14:8, Zec_14:13, Zec_14:20, resuming his subject again and again, as a time not proximate, but fixed and known of God, of which he declared somewhat. It is “that day” which “Abraham desired to see, and saw it” Joh_8:56, whether by direct revelation, or in the typical sacrifice of Isaac, “and was glad:” it was “that day” which “many prophets and kings and righteous men desired to see” Mat_13:17; Luk_10:24, and in patience waited for it,: “the” one “day of salvation” of the Gospel. He had spoken of repentance, in contemplation of Christ crucified; he now speaks of forgiveness and cleansing, of sanctification and consequent obedience. The “fountain shall be” not simply “opened,” but shall remain open. Isaiah had already prophesied of the refreshment of the Gospel. “When the poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst, I, the Lord, will hear them, I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will open rivers in high places and fountains in the midst of the valleys” Isa_41:17-18; here it is added, “for sin. and for uncleanness.”
There were “divers” Heb_9:10 symbolical “washings” under the law; the Levites were “sprinkled with the water of purifying” Num_8:7, literally, “the water of taking away of sin: living waters” Num_19:17, put to the ashes of an heifer, were appointed as a “water for” (removing) “defilements” (Num_19:9, Num_19:13, Num_19:20-21 bis; Num_31:23); “a cleansing of sin” Num_19:9. Now, there should be one ever-open fountain for all “the house of David.” Theodoret: “Who that fountain is, the Lord Himself teacheth through Jeremiah, ‘they have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters’ Jer_2:13; and in the Gospel He says, ‘If any man thirst, let him come unto Me and drink’ Joh_7:37; and ‘The water which I shall give him, is a fountain of living water, gushing up to everlasting life’ Joh_4:14. This was ‘open to the house of David;’ for of that kindred He took human nature. It was opened also ‘for the dwellers of Jerusalem,’ for the sprinkling of holy baptism; through which we have received remission of sins.” Cyril: “That, receiving divine and holy baptism, we are sprinkled with the Blood of Christ to the remission of sins, who can doubt?” Dionysius: “Of this fountain much was foretold by Ezekiel, ‘that a fountain should issue forth from the temple of the Lord, and ‘go down into the desert’ Eze_47:1, Eze_47:8-9, and ‘every soul, to whom it shall come, shall live;’ and Joel, ‘A fountain shall come forth of the house of the Lord, and water the valley of Shillim’ Joe_3:18. Of this fountain Peter said to the Jews, when ‘pricked in the heart’ and seeking forgiveness, ‘Let everyone of you be baptized in the Name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins’” Act_2:37-38.
I will cut off] Forgiveness (Zec_13:1) is the middle term between godly sorrow (Zec_12:10-14) and amendment (Zec_13:2-6). It has been argued that the sins which are here said to be abandoned were not the prevalent sins of the Jews after the captivity, and that therefore the prophecy must be assigned to an earlier date. But the fact that this was the case, so far as it is a fact, may be claimed as completing the then present and historical basis, on which Zechariah, writing after the captivity, grounded, as is the wont of the O. T. prophets, the greater future which he was commissioned to reveal. Jerusalem had already proved and should presently prove again to be a “bowl of reeling,” and a “burdensome stone” (Zec_13:2-3) to the enemies who sought to hinder the re-building of the Temple and city. (Ezr_6:6-7; Ezr_6:11-12; Nehemiah 4, 6) Already “the spirit of grace and of supplications” had been poured upon the people and had moved them to penitent sorrow for their sins (Jer_50:4-5), and throughout the era of the return it should in like manner be poured upon them. (Ezra 9; Ezr_10:1; Neh_8:9; Neh_8:9) Already had they set themselves to “cut off the names of the idols,” and to “cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.” (Ezr_6:21; Ezr_10:2-44; Neh_9:38; Neh_10:28-30; Neh_13:1-9; Neh_13:23-31.) But all these things, the prophet assures them, are but as the scanty drops, the harbingers of the abundant shower, or the few ripe ears, the firstfruits of the plentiful harvest. In the coming age of Messiah, the King (chap. 9) and Shepherd (chap. 11) of Israel, when the Spirit shall indeed be poured from on high, and the true Fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, the spiritual counterparts of deliverance, of penitence, of amendment shall flourish in the Church of Christ. (Comp. as regards the terms of this verse, “idols,” “prophets,” “unclean spirit,” 1Jn_5:21; 1Jn_4:1). But beyond that is another age, in which in all its particulars, and with a completeness, it may be, and exactness of detail which it had never before attained to, the whole prediction shall be fulfilled.
the unclean spirit] Comp. 1Ki_22:22.
I will cut off the names of the idols. Idols should be so utterly abolished that their very names should perish (Hos_2:17; Mic_5:12, Mic_5:13; Zep_1:4). The prophet names the two chief sins which had brought ruin on the old theocracy—idolatry and false prophetism, and declares that these shall not be found in the new theocracy. As these two sins were not specially prevalent after the Captivity, some see in their mention here an argument for the pre-exilian authorship of this part of Zechariah. But the prophet, grounding his message on past history, does well to give assurance that such lapses shall not happen again. Nor is it altogether certain that the warning against these errors was not needed after the return. There were false prophets in Nehemiah’s time (Neh_6:14); and we read in the Book of Maccabees that many Jews adopted heathen rites and customs, among which the worship of idols must have been included (1 Macc. 1:11, etc.; 2 Macc. 4:13, etc.), and the people and even priests contracted marriages with heathen wives (Ezr_9:2; Neh_13:23); so that there was real danger of relapse. The prophets. The false prophets are meant, as is evident from their being associated with idols and the unclean spirit, and from verses 3-6. The Septuagint has, “the false prophets;” so the Vulgate. The unclean spirit. This is the lying spirit which works in the false prophets (see 1Ki_22:19-23), and which we find later denounced by apostles (Act_16:18; 1Co_10:20, 1Co_10:21; 2Th_2:9, 2Th_2:10; 1Ti_4:1). Septuagint, τὸ πνεῦμα τὸ ἀκάθαρτον (comp, Mat_12:43; Rev_18:2).
I will cut off the names of the idols – This had been a fence against idolatry. To name evil is a temptation to evil. Wrong words are the parents of wrong acts. To speak of evil awakens curiosity or passion; curiosity is one of the strongest incentives to act. All public mention of terrible crimes (it has been observed) produces imitation of the specific form of crime. Hence, it was commanded, “make no mention of the name of other gods, neither let it be heard out of thy mouth” Exo_23:13. And Joshua names it in his dying charge to Israel, “Be ye therefore very strong to keep and to are all that is written in the book of the law of Moses – either make mention of the name of their gods, nor cause to swear by them” Jos_23:6-7. Hence, they “changed” the “names” of cities , which bare idol names. David speaks of it, as part of fealty to God. “I will, not take their names upon my lips” Psa_16:4.
Hosea prophesies of the times of the new covenant; “I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall be no more remembered by their name” Hos_2:17. Isaiah, “The idols he shall utterly abolish” Isa_2:18. Zechariah foretells their abolition with a turn of words, formed apparently on those of Hosea ; but slightly varied, because the worship of Baal, such a plague-spot in the time of Hosea, one, which continued until the year before the captivity , was gone, He implies nothing as to his own times, whether idolatry still existed. He predicts its entire abolition in the whole compass of the enlarged Judah, that is, of Christendom.
And also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land – False prophecy sets itself to meet a craving of human nature to know something of its future. False prophets there were, even in the time of Nehemiah , and those in some number, hired to prophesy against the word of God. Our Lord warns against them. “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” Mat_7:15. “Many false prophets shall arise and shall deceive many” Mat_24:11. Many false prophets, John says, “are gone out into the world” Joh_4:1. False prophets attended the decline of Judaism. Such was the author of the Jewish Sibylline book, prophesying the destruction of the Romans , and fixing the mind of his people on temporal aggrandizement : false prophets were suborned by the Jewish “tyrants” and encouraged the Jews in the resistance which ruined the devoted city: , false prophets have arisen in Christianity; but, like the Phrygian women who led Tertullian astray, they “went out,” were cast out “from it, as not being of it.”
shall be ashamed] Pusey compares Act_19:18-20.
hath prophesied] Rather, prophesieth, as R. V.
a rough garment] Lit. a cloak of hair: a hairy mantle, R. V. The word for cloak, or cape, is that used for the mantle of Elijah (1Ki_19:13; 1Ki_19:19; 2Ki_2:13-14), “the cape or wrapper, which, with the exception of a strip of skin or leather round his loins, formed, as we have every reason to believe, his sole garment.” Bibl. Dict., Art. Mantle. This cloak or cape was either woven of camels’ hair or was perhaps a sheep’s skin (μηλωτής LXX. Comp. 2Ki_1:8; Gen_25:25; Mat_3:4). It would seem from this passage that it had been worn by succeeding prophets in imitation of Elijah, and so had come to be regarded as the badge of a prophet.
I am an husbandman. The imposter shall confess the truth about himself, and own that he is only “a tiller of the ground (ἄνθρωπος ἐργαζόμενος τὴν γῆν),” as Gen_4:2. The abnegation in Amo_7:14 is quite different in character. Man taught me to keep cattle; literally, man bought (or, possessed) me; Revised Version, I have been made a bondman. So eager is he now to hide his false pretensions, that he is willing, to be considered a slave, employed from his youth in farm work, and therefore incapable of executing the prophetical office. Vulgate, Quoniam Adam exemplum meum ab adoloscentia mea; i.e. “I have followed the example of Adam in tilling the ground and in earning my bread by the sweat of my brow.” St. Cyril and some modern commentators hold that the false prophet says this in sorrow and repentant, not with any idea of deceiving; and that herein is exhibited a signal instance of the grace of God in the Messanic period, when even such sinners are converted from the error of their ways.
What are these wounds in thine hands? or rather, between thy hands, i.e. on thy breast; Revised Version, between thine arms. Cheyne compares, “between his arms,” i.e; in his back (2Ki_9:24) and “between your eyes” i.e. on your foreheads (Deu_11:18). Not satisfied with the assertion in Zec_13:5, the questioner asks the meaning of these wounds which he sees on his body. Jerome considers these scars to be marks of correction and punishment at the hands of his parents. More probably they are thought to be self-inflicted in the service of some idol, according to the practice mentioned in 1Ki_18:28; Jer_48:37. Those with which I was wounded in the house of my friends. This may be a confession of guilt, the impostor owning that his friends, had thus punished him for his pretensions; or, as the word rendered “friends” is generally used in the case of illicit or impure love or spiritual fornication, it may be here applied to the idols whom he served. But it seems most probable that the answer is intentionally false and misleading; as if he had said, “The wounds were not made as you suppose, but are the result of something that happened to me in my friends’ house.” The LXX. renders, ἂς ἐπλήγην ἐν τῷ οἴκῳ τῷ ἀγαπητῷ μου, “with which I was struck in my beloved house.” To see in this passage a reference to our blessed Lord and his crucifixion, though such an opinion has the support of the Roman Liturgy and of many interpreters, is to do violence to the context, and to read into the words a meaning wholly alien from the subject of false prophets, which is the matter in hand.
Awake, O sword] We have a similar apostrophe in Jer_47:6.
my shepherd] This may refer primarily to any Jewish king or ruler, for even a heathen king raised up by God to befriend His people is called by Him “My shepherd,” Isa_44:28. But it is at the same time a distinct prophecy of Christ. See chap. Zec_11:4, note.
my fellow] The word occurs only here and in Leviticus, where it is frequently found (e.g. Lev_6:2 [Heb., 5:21]; Lev_19:15; Lev_19:17), and is usually rendered, “neighbour,” ὁ πλησίον, LXX. In its highest sense it belongs exclusively to the Shepherd who could say, “I and my Father are one.” Joh_10:26-30.
True to the sound canon of interpretation which he always adopts, Calvin, while fully acknowledging the reference of this passage to Christ and its complete fulfilment in Him, contends that just as the prediction of “a prophet” in Deuteronomy (Deu_18:15) embraces the whole prophetical order, as well as “the Prophet” to whom they all gave witness, so here, while the Chief Shepherd is distinctly pointed at, the shepherds of God’s people generally are included, and called His “fellows,” because they are associated with Him in the work of government. As then Christ possesses a supremacy among the Prophets, and hence rightly applied to him are the words of Moses; so also as he is the head and prince of shepherds, this pre-eminence justly belongs to him. But what is said by the Prophet is however to be viewed as a general truth…This is the reason why they are called the associates of God, that is, on account of the connection between them, for they are co-workers with God, as Paul also teaches us. In short, the Prophet calls pastors the associates of God in the same sense in which Paul calls them fellow-workers. (συνεργους 1Co_3:9.) In applying this canon, however, to the prophecies of the O. T. it must be borne in mind that, as the stars grow pale before the rising sun, so as the coming of Christ draws near, typical persons and offices fade more and more out of sight, and the terms and reference of the promises belong more immediately and exclusively to Him.
the sheep shall be scattered] In interpreting this prophecy of His own death and its consequences, our Lord seems to restrict the “sheep” here to the Apostles, of whom we are told that, when He was apprehended, they all “forsook Him and fled” (Mat_26:31; Mat_26:56). We may say, with Bengel, that “the disciples were the representatives of the whole flock (instar totius gregis) which should afterwards be gathered by them.” But with Zechariah the flock is the Jewish Church, and it is better therefore to regard our Lord’s words as intimating the completeness of the dispersion which the prophet had foretold. Not only the flock at large, which had rejected Him as their shepherd, but even His own sheep, the faithful poor (“the poor of the flock,” chap. Zec_11:11; the “little ones” of this verse) shall be scandalized at first and flee away from the Cross.
I will turn mine hand upon] For correction, but in mercy, Zec_13:8-9. Comp. Isa_1:25, where the phrase is used in the same sense. Stier has some interesting remarks on the reference to this part of the prophecy in our Lord’s promise to His disciples in Mat_26:32. “The hand and power of God in the risen Shepherd returned from death is turned upon them and gathers them together.”
In all the land, two parts therein shall be cut off and die – “In all the land of Israel,” says a Jewish interpreter; (Kimchi); ” – the land, in which the Good Shepherd had been slain and the sheep scattered, “that upon you.” our Lord had said, “may come all the righteous blood.” As David punished Moab, “with two lines measured he to put to death, and with one full line to keep alive” 2Sa_8:2; and Ezekiel prophesied, “A third part of thee shall die with the pestilence, and with famine shall they be consumed in the midst of thee: and a third part shall fall by the sword round about thee” Eze_5:12; so now, the greater part should be destroyed, but a remnant should be saved. “But the third part shall be left therein. Even so then at this present time also,” Paul says, “there is a remnant according to the election of grace” Rom_11:5. Osorius: “The third part only shall be saved from the common destruction; yet not so, that they should suppose that glory was to be obtained amid ease.”
I will bring the third part through the fire – Such is always God’s ways. “Thou hast proved us, O God; Thou hast tried us, like as silver is tried. Thou broughtest us into the snare, Thou laidest trouble upon our loins: we went through fire and water, and Thou broughtest us out into a wealthy place” Psa_66:9-11. “I have refined thee, but not with silver, I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction” Isa_48:10; and, “Through much tribulation we must enter into the kingdom of God” Act_14:22.
Dionysius: “In adversity virtue is most tried, and it is shown what advance a person has made; for ‘patience’ hath ‘a perfect work’ Jam_1:4; and it is called the touchstone of all other virtues, as is written; ‘God tried His elect as gold in the furnace and received them as a burnt offering’ ; and, ‘All the faithful who have pleased the Lord have passed through many tribulations’ . And the angel Raphael saith to Tobias, ‘Because thou wert accepted of God, need was that temptation should prove thee’ .” “Adversities are granted to the elect of God, and therefore to be rejoiced in with the whole heart.” “Fire, crosses, racks were prepared; swords executioners torturers were put in action; new forms of suffering were invented, and yet Christian virtue remained moveless, unconquered: the fiercer the onslaught, the more glorious was the triumph.” : “The more suffered, the more believed in Christ.” Osorius: “Whose virtue they adimired, these they imitated, and shared the suffering, that they might be partakers of the glory. This was that fire, whereby God willed that His own should be tried and purified, that, with Christ whom they gave themselves to imitate, they might enjoy everlasting glory.”
I will bless him and will say, It is My people – Dionysius: “not only by creation as the rest, but by devotion and worship, by predestination and infusion of grace, by singular Providence, by mutual love; ‘and it shall say, The Lord is my God,’ whom alone above all things, I long for, love, worship.”
This promise is oftentimes renewed through the prophets, oftentimes fulfilled in Christ, whenever the Church is recalled from listlessness by fiery trials, and through them her children are restored to deeper devotedness and closer union with God.
Through the fire. This third part, like its Master, passes through much tribulation, and is thereby refined and purified (comp. Psa_66:10; Isa_48:10; Jer_9:7; Dan_12:10; Mal_3:3; 1Pe_1:6, 1Pe_1:7). Call on my Name. In their distress they shall turn in faith to Jehovah, as the covenant God, a very present Help in trouble (Isa_65:24). Thus is represented God’s dealing with his Church in every age.