The Book of Zechariah, because of its great variation in style, content, and language, is widely believed to be a composite work. Made up of First Zechariah (chaps. 1–8) and Second Zechariah (chaps. 9–14), the book has been attributed to at least two different prophets. The prophecies of First Zechariah can be dated to the late sixth century B.C., contemporary with those of Haggai; the oracles of Second Zechariah are somewhat later.
The most striking feature of First Zechariah is a series of visions in which the prophet describes the centrality of Jerusalem, its Temple, and its leaders, who function both in the politics of the region and of the Persian empire and in God’s universal rule. These visions clearly relate to the Temple restoration begun in 520 B.C.
The prophecies of First Zechariah can be divided into three literary units. A brief introductory unit (1:1–6) links the prophecies of chaps. 1–8 with those of Haggai. The visionary unit (1:7–6:15) consists of seven visionary images plus an associated vision dealing with the high priest Joshua. The third unit (7:1–8:23) consists of two parts: (1) an address (7:1–14) to a delegation sent from Bethel in anticipation of the end of the seventy years of exile; (2) a series of oracles (8:1–23): seven oracles dealing with the restoration of Judah and Zion (vv. 1–17), followed by three oracles of hope concerning Judah and the nations (vv. 18–23).
Coming nearly a century later, the prophecies of Second Zechariah are extraordinarily diverse. A complex assortment of literary genres appears in these six chapters, which consist of two distinct parts (chaps. 9–11 and chaps. 12–14), each introduced by an unusual Hebrew word for “oracle.” Despite the diversity of materials, the structural links among the chapters along with verbal and thematic connections point to an overall integrity for Zec 9–14.
Second Zechariah draws heavily on the words and ideas of earlier biblical prophets. The prophet is acutely aware of the devastation that comes from disobedience to God’s word, as had been spoken by God’s prophetic emissaries. Yet, it was now clear in this century after the rebuilding of the Temple and the repatriation of many of the exiles, that Judah would not soon regain political autonomy and a Davidic king. So the various poems, narratives, oracles, and parables of Second Zechariah maintain the hope of previous prophets by depicting a glorious eschatological restoration. At that time all nations will recognize Jerusalem’s centrality and acknowledge God’s universal sovereignty.
Call for Obedience. 1In the second year of Darius,* in the eighth month, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: 2The LORD was very angry with your ancestors.* a 3Say to them: Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return to me—oracle of the LORD* of hosts—and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. 4Do not be like your ancestors to whom the earlier prophets* proclaimed: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Turn from your evil ways and from your wicked deeds.b But they did not listen or pay attention to mec—oracle of the LORD.— 5Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, can they live forever? 6But my words and my statutes, with which I charged my servants the prophets, did these not overtake your ancestors?d Then they repented* and admitted: “Just as the LORD of hosts intended to treat us according to our ways and deeds, so the LORD has done.”
First Vision: Horses Patrolling the Earth.e 7In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, the eleventh month,* the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:
8* I looked out in the night,* and there was a man mounted on a red horse standing in the shadows among myrtle trees; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9I asked, “What are these, my lord?”* Then the angel who spoke with me answered, “I will show you what these are.” 10Then the man who was standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.”f 11And they answered the angel of the LORD,* who was standing among the myrtle trees: “We have been patrolling the earth, and now the whole earth rests quietly.” 12Then the angel of the LORD replied, “LORD of hosts, how long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?”* g 13To the angel who spoke with me, the LORD replied favorably, with comforting words.
Oracular Response. 14The angel who spoke with me then said to me, Proclaim: Thus says the LORD of hosts:
I am jealous for Jerusalem
and for Zion* intensely jealous.h
15I am consumed with anger
toward the complacent nations;*
When I was only a little angry,
they compounded the disaster.i
16Therefore, thus says the LORD:
I return to Jerusalem in mercy;j
my house* will be rebuilt therek—oracle of the LORD of hosts—
and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.
17Proclaim further: Thus says the LORD of hosts:
My cities will again overflow with prosperity;
the LORD will again comfort Zion,
and will again choose Jerusalem.l
* [1:1] Darius: Darius I, emperor of Persia from 522 to 486 B.C. The second year…eighth month: October/November 520 B.C., i.e., prior to the latest date in Haggai (Dec. 18, 520 B.C., Hg 2:10). Unlike other prophets, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 contain specific chronological information, probably because they were sensitive to the imminent end of the expected seventy years of exile. See note on Zec 1:12.
* [1:2] Your ancestors: refers to the preexilic people of Judah, who were subjected to Babylonian destruction and exile.
* [1:3] Oracle of the LORD: a phrase used extensively in prophetic books to indicate divine speech.
* [1:4] Earlier prophets: preexilic prophets of the Lord. There are many allusions to them in Zechariah, indicating their influence on the postexilic community (see 7:7, 12).
* [1:6] Repented: the Hebrew word shub literally means “turn back.” This term is often used to speak of repentance as a return to the covenantal relationship between Israel and the Lord.
* [1:7] The second year…eleventh month: February 15, 519 B.C. The largest set of visions (1:7–6:15) is dated to a time just prior to the beginning of the new year in the spring.
* [1:8–11] Four riders on horses of three different colors are sent by God to patrol the four corners of the earth. Compare the four chariots of the seventh vision, 6:1–8.
* [1:8] In the night: nighttime, or this night. This setting of darkness is meant only for the first vision.
* [1:9] My lord: this expression in Hebrew (‘adoni) is used as a polite form of address. Angel who spoke with me: angelic being (not identical to the angel of the Lord who is one of the four horsemen) who serves as an interpreter, bringing a message from God to the prophet, who himself is a messenger of God.
* [1:11] Angel of the LORD: chief angelic figure in God’s heavenly court, and perhaps the “man” of 1:8.
* [1:12] These seventy years: allusion to the period of divine anger mentioned in Jer 25:11–12 and 29:10. Here the symbolic number seventy is understood to mark the period without a Temple in Jerusalem. Since these seventy years would have been almost over at this point, this symbolic number would have provided motivation for rebuilding the Temple as a sign of the end of the exile.
* [1:14] For Jerusalem and for Zion: rather than the usual order, Zion and Jerusalem, elsewhere in the Bible. The reversal highlights the centrality of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in all three of the brief oracles of 1:14–17.
* [1:15] Complacent nations: probably a reference to the Persian empire, which in its imperial extent included many national groups that maintained separate identities. Compounded the disaster: the surrounding nations took advantage of the Lord’s anger against Judah to further their own interests.
* [1:16] My house: the Temple. See note on Hg 1:4. Measuring line: a builder’s string, not for devastation, as in Is 34:11, but for reconstruction.
a. [1:2] Mi 3:7.
b. [1:4] Is 55:7.
c. [1:4] Lk 20:15.
d. [1:6] Zec 7:7–14.
e. [1:7] Zec 6:1–7; Rev 5:6; 6:1–9.
f. [1:10] Zec 7:5; Jer 25:11–12; 29:10.
g. [1:12] Rev 6:10.
h. [1:14] Zec 8:2.
i. [1:15] Is 47:6.
j. [1:16] Is 54:6–10.
k. [1:16] Zec 2:5–9.
l. [1:17] Zec 2:15; 13:9.
Second Vision: The Four Horns and the Four Smiths. 1I raised my eyes and looked and there were four horns.* 2Then I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are those?” He answered, “Those are the horns that scattered* Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”a
3Then the LORD showed me four workmen.* 4And I said, “What are these coming to do?” And the LORD said, “Those are the horns that scattered Judah, so that none could raise their heads any more;b and these have come to terrify them—to cut down the horns of the nations that raised their horns to scatter the land of Judah.”
Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Cord. 5I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord* in his hand.c 6I asked, “Where are you going?” And he said, “To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.”
7Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him 8and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official:* Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst.d 9I will be an encircling wall of fire* for it—oracle of the LORD—and I will be the glory in its midst.”e
Expansion on the Themes of the First Three Visions. 10Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north*—oracle of the LORD;—For like the four winds of heaven I have dispersed you—oracle of the LORD.f 11Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell in daughter Babylon! 12For thus says the LORD of hosts after the LORD’s glory had sent me, concerning the nations that have plundered you: Whoever strikes you strikes me directly in the eye.g 13Now I wave my hand over them, and they become plunder for their own servants.h Thus you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. 14Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the LORD. 15Many nations will bind themselves to the LORD on that day.i They will be my people,* and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 16The LORD will inherit Judahj as his portion of the holy land,* and the LORD will again choose Jerusalem. 17Silence, all people, in the presence of the LORD, who stirs forth from his holy dwelling.k
* [2:1] Four horns: symbols of the total political and military might of Judah’s imperial adversaries, probably representing Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. The number four represents universality rather than any specific number of foes.
* [2:2] Scattered: sent part of the population into exile. This was standard imperial policy initiated in the ancient Near East by the Assyrians for dealing with a conquered state.
* [2:3] Four workmen: four agents of God’s power. The imagery follows that of four horns: the workers cut down, or make ineffectual, the horns, i.e., enemy.
* [2:5] Measuring cord: a string for measuring, as opposed to a builder’s string, 1:16.
* [2:8] That official: probably the man with the measuring cord of v. 5.
* [2:9] Encircling wall of fire: divine protection for an unwalled Jerusalem. Urban centers were generally walled, and Jerusalem’s walls were eventually rebuilt in the late fifth century B.C. (Neh 2:17–20).
* [2:10] Land of the north: refers to Babylon (v. 11), in a geographic rather than a political sense, as the place from which exiles will return. The designation is “north” because imperial invaders historically entered Palestine from that direction (see Jer 3:18; 23:8).
* [2:15] Many nations…my people: a way of expressing God’s relationship to people in covenant language. The covenant between God and Israel (see Jer 31:33; 32:38) is here universalized to include all nations.
* [2:16] The holy land: the Lord’s earthly territory, a designation found only rarely in the Old Testament.
a. [2:2] Dt 33:17; Dn 7:8.
b. [2:4] Jer 48:25.
c. [2:5] Jer 31:38–39; Ez 41:13; Rev 11:1; 21:15.
d. [2:8] Is 49:19–20; 54:2–3; Jer 31:27; Ez 38:11.
e. [2:9] Rev 21:23; 22:3–5.
f. [2:10] Zec 6:5; Is 48:20; Jer 50:8; 51:6.
g. [2:12] Dt 32:10; Ps 17:8.
h. [2:13] Is 14:2; Zep 3:15.
i. [2:15] Is 56:6; 66:18.
j. [2:16] Zec 1:17.
k. [2:17] Hb 2:20; Zep 1:7; Rev 8:1a.
Prophetic Vision: Joshua the High Priest. 1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, while the adversary* stood at his right side to accuse him.a 2And the angel of the LORD said to the adversary, “May the LORD rebuke you, O adversary; may the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!b Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”c
3* Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clad in filthy garments. 4Then the angel said to those standing before him, “Remove his filthy garments.”d And to him he said, “Look, I have taken your guilt from you,e and I am clothing you in stately robes.” 5Then he said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” And they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the garments while the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6Then the angel of the LORD charged Joshua: 7“Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you walk in my ways and carry out my charge, you will administer my house and watch over my courts;* and I will give you access to those standing here.”
Supplementary Oracle. 8“Hear, O Joshua, high priest! You and your associates who sit before you! For they are signs of things to come!* f I will surely bring my servant the Branch. 9Look at the stoneg that I have placed before Joshua. On this one stone with seven facets* h I will engrave its inscription—oracle of the LORD of hosts—and I will take away the guilt of that land in one day. 10On that day—oracle of the LORD of hosts—you will invite one another under your vines and fig trees.”i
* [3:1] Adversary: Hebrew satan, here, the prosecuting attorney, a figure in the Lord’s heavenly courtroom. Cf. Jb 1:6–2:7. Later tradition understands this figure to be Satan.
* [3:3–4] The filthy garments of Joshua symbolized the guilt of the Israelite people who have become unclean by going into exile. The angel of the Lord purifies the high priest by the removal of his garments.
* [3:7] If you walk…watch over my courts: four components of priestly activity: (1) following God’s commandments and teaching them to the people, (2) carrying out cultic functions, (3) participating in the judicial system in certain difficult cases, and (4) administering the laborers and lands in the Temple’s domain.
* [3:8] Signs of things to come: the restoration of the priesthood is a sign of the expected restoration of the Davidic line. The Branch: a tree metaphor for the expected future ruler as a descendant of the Davidic dynasty. This imagery also appears in Is 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; and Zec 6:12.
* [3:9] Stone with seven facets: represents both the precious stones that were part of the high priest’s apparel and the building stone (see 4:7, 10) that initiated a major construction project. The seven facets (or “eyes”) indicate the totality of its role as an instrument of God’s vigilance and action. Inscription: can refer both to words engraved on the high priest’s apparel (Ex 28:9, 11) and to words chiseled on a cornerstone.
a. [3:1] Jb 1:6–2:7; 1 Chr 21:1.
b. [3:2] Jude 9.
c. [3:2] Am 4:11.
d. [3:4] Lk 15:22; Rev 19:8.
e. [3:4] Is 6:7; Jer 31:34; Ez 36:33.
f. [3:8] Is 8:18.
g. [3:9] Zec 4:7, 10; Is 28:16.
h. [3:9] Rev 5:6.
i. [3:10] 1 Kgs 5:5; Mi 4:4.
Fourth Vision: The Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees. 1Then the angel who spoke with me returned and aroused me, like one awakened from sleep. 2He said to me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a lampstand* all of gold,a with a bowl on top of it. There are seven lamps on it, with seven spouts on each of the lamps that are on top of it. 3And beside it are two olive trees,* one on the right of the bowl and one to its left.” 4Then I said to the angel who spoke with me, “What are these things, my lord?” 5And the angel who spoke with me replied, “Do you not know what these things are?” I said, “No, my lord.”
An Oracle. 6Then he said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit,* b says the LORD of hosts. 7Who are you, O great mountain?* Before Zerubbabel you become a plain. He will bring forth the first stone amid shouts of ‘Favor, favor be upon it!’”
8Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house, and his hands will finish it. Thus you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 10For whoever has scorned such a day of small things will rejoice to see the capstone* in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Resumption of the Vision: Explanation of Lamps and Trees. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD that range over the whole earth.”c 11I then asked him, “What are these two olive trees, on the right of the lampstand and on its left?” 12A second time I asked, “What are the two streams from the olive trees that pour out golden oil through two taps of gold?” 13He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I answered, “No, my lord.” 14Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones* who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”d
* [4:2] Lampstand: receptacle for lamps and one of the furnishings of the main room of the Temple. This visionary object does not correspond to the biblical descriptions of the menorah in either the tabernacle (Ex 25:31–40) or the Solomonic Temple (1 Kgs 7:49) but rather has properties of both. Seven lamps…seven spouts: seven lamps, each with seven pinched wick holes. Such objects were part of the repertoire of cultic vessels throughout the Old Testament period. Here they symbolize God’s eyes, i.e., divine omniscience; see v. 10.
* [4:3] Olive trees: visionary image that picks up the botanical language describing the Israelite cultic lampstands, with the olive trees specifically connoting fertility, permanence, and righteousness.
* [4:6] Not by might…my spirit: one of the most quoted verses from the Old Testament, particularly in Jewish tradition, which connects it with the theme of Hanukkah, sometimes called the Festival of Lights.
* [4:7] Great mountain: part of symbolic imagery for the Temple on Mount Zion, as embodiment of the cosmic mountain where heaven and earth connect. Plain: leveled ground serving as the foundation area for the construction of the Temple, and symbolizing the foundation of the cosmos. First stone: foundation stone of a major public building. Such stones were laid with great ceremony in foundation rituals when monumental buildings were newly built or rebuilt in the biblical world.
* [4:10] Capstone: topmost stone of a structure, which finishes the construction. This translation is based on the context. Other translations read: “stone of distinction,” “plummet,” “tin-stone.”
* [4:14] Two anointed ones: two leadership positions in the ideal restored nation. The concept of a state headed by both priestly and political leaders harks back to premonarchic traditions (Aaron and Moses) and finds an echo in the two messianic figures—a Davidic and a levitical messiah—in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in apocryphal literature. See also the two crowns of 6:11–14.
a. [4:2] Ex 25:31–40; 1 Kgs 7:49; Rev 11:4.
b. [4:6] Hos 1:7.
c. [4:10] Zec 1:11; 6:7; Rev 5:6.
d. [4:14] Jos 3:11; Mi 4:13; Rev 11:4.
Fifth Vision: The Flying Scroll. 1Then I raised my eyes again and saw a flying scroll. 2He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.”* a 3Then he said to me: “This is the curse which is to go forth over the whole land. According to it, every thief and every perjurer* will be expelled. 4I will send it forth—oracle of the LORD of hosts—so that it will come to the house of the thief, and into the house of the one who swears falsely by my name.b It shall lodge within each house, consuming it, timber and stones.”
Sixth Vision: The Basket of Wickedness. 5Then the angel who spoke with me came forward and said to me, “Raise your eyes and look. What is this that comes forth?” 6I said, “What is it?” And he answered, “This is the basket* that is coming.” And he said, “This is their guilt in all the land.” 7Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket.* 8He said, “This is Wickedness,” and he thrust her inside the basket, pushing the leaden weight into the opening.
9Then I raised my eyes and saw two women coming forth with wind under their wings*—they had wings like the wings of a stork—and they lifted the basket into the air. 10I said to the angel who spoke with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” 11He replied, “To build a temple for it in the land of Shinar.* When the temple is constructed, they will set it there on its base.”
* [5:2] Twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide: ca. thirty feet by fifteen feet. These dimensions may represent the ratio of height to width in the exposed portion of a scroll being opened for liturgical reading; at the same time it may symbolize the approach to God’s presence since the entryway to the Temple has the same measurements (1 Kgs 6:3). The scroll itself may represent God’s covenant with the people, insofar as it contains curses against those who break the law.
* [5:3] Thief…perjurer: a pair of miscreants representing all those who disobey God’s covenant (see note on v. 2) and who must therefore be punished according to covenant curses.
* [5:6] Basket: literally, ephah, a dry measure; see note on Is 5:10.
* [5:7] Woman sitting inside the basket: figure representing wickedness or foreign idolatry being transported back to Babylonia (vv. 1–11). Returning exiles were apparently worshiping deities they had learned to accept in Babylonia, and that “wickedness” (v. 8) must be removed.
* [5:9] Two women…wings: composite beings, part human and part animal, similar to the cherubim flanking the holy ark (Ex 25:18–22; 1 Kgs 6:23–28; Ez 10:18–22). Such creatures accompany foreign deities as here, or the biblical God.
* [5:11] Shinar: land of Babylonia; this name for Babylonia is found also in Gn 1:10; 11:2; 14:1; Is 11:11; and Dn 1:2.
a. [5:2] Ez 2:9–10; Rev 10:9–11.
b. [5:4] Ex 20:7, 16.
Seventh Vision: Four Chariots.a 1Again I raised my eyes and saw four chariots* coming out from between two mountains; and the mountains were of bronze. 2The first chariot had red horses, the second chariot black horses, 3the third chariot white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong horses. 4I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5The angel answered me, “These are the four winds of the heavens,* which are coming forth after presenting themselves before the LORD of all the earth.b 6The one with the black horses is going toward the land of the north, and the white horses go toward the west, and the dappled ones go toward the land of the south.” 7These strong horses went out, eager to set about patrolling the earth, for he said, “Go, patrol the earth!” So they patrolled the earth. 8Then he cried out to me and said, “See, those who go forth to the land of the north provide rest for my spirit in the land of the north.”*
The Crowning. 9Then the word of the LORD came to me: 10Take from the exiles—Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah—and go the same day to the house of Josiah, son of Zephaniah. (These had come from Babylon.) 11You will take silver and gold, and make crowns;* place one on the head of Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12And say to him: Thus says the LORD of hosts: There is a man whose name is Branch* c—and from his place he will branch out and he will build the temple of the LORD. 13He will build the temple of the LORD, and taking up the royal insignia, he will sit as ruler upon his throne. The priest will be at his right hand, and between the two of them there will be peaceful understanding.* d 14The other crown will be in the temple of the LORD as a gracious reminder to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and the son of Zephaniah. 15And they who are from afar will come and build the temple of the LORD, and you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you truly obey the LORD your God.e
* [6:1] Four chariots: vehicles with horses of four different colors (vv. 2–3) represent God’s presence throughout the world and correspond to the four horses of 1:7–11.
* [6:5] Four winds of the heavens: four compass directions and therefore the whole world.
* [6:8] Land of the north: the enemy (cf. 2:10). This emphasis on the land of the north refers to the fact that God will deal with Israel’s foes and order will be re-established.
* [6:11] Crowns: two crowns made of precious metals and representing two high offices (compare the symbolism of the two olive trees in 4:14). One crown is for the high priest Joshua, who, with the governor Zerubbabel, was one of the recognized rulers of the Persian province of Judah. The other crown would have been for a royal ruler, a Davidic descendant. Zerubbabel was a Davidide but could not be king because the Persians would not allow such autonomy. The second crown was thus put in storage in the Temple (v. 14) for the crowning of a future king, or “branch” (see 3:8), from the house of David.
* [6:12] Branch: future Davidic ruler. See note on 3:8.
* [6:13] Peaceful understanding: harmonious rule of both the high priest and the king.
a. [6:1] Rev 6:2–8.
b. [6:5] Rev 7:1.
c. [6:12] Zec 3:8; Jer 23:5.
d. [6:13] Zec 4:14.
e. [6:15] Dt 28:1.
A Question About Fasting. 1In the fourth year of Darius the king, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Kislev.* 2Bethelsarezer sent Regem-melech and his men to implore the favor of the LORD 3and to ask the priests of the house of the LORD of hosts, and the prophets, “Must I weep and abstain in the fifth month* as I have been doing these many years?” 4Then the word of the LORD of hosts came to me: 5Say to all the people of the land and to the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh month* these seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?a 6When you were eating and drinking, was it not for yourselves that you ate and for yourselves that you drank?
7Are these not the words which the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets,* when Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were inhabited and secure, when the Negeb and the Shephelah were inhabited? 8The word of the LORD came to Zechariah: 9Thus says the LORD of hosts: Judge with true justice, and show kindness and compassion toward each other.b 10Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the resident alien or the poor;* do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.c 11But they refused to listen; they stubbornly turned their backs and stopped their ears so as not to hear.d 12And they made their hearts as hard as diamonde so as not to hear the instruction and the words that the LORD of hosts had sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. So great anger came from the LORD of hosts: 13Just as when I called out and they did not listen, so they will call out and I will not listen, says the LORD of hosts. 14And I will scatter them among all the nations that they do not know.f So the land was left desolate behind them with no one moving about, and they made a pleasant land into a wasteland.
* [7:1] The fourth year of Darius…the ninth month, Kislev: December 7, 518 B.C., the last chronological heading in Zechariah.
* [7:3] Weep…fifth month: a mourning ritual commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple on the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (ca. 587/586 B.C.; see 2 Kgs 25:8).
* [7:5] Seventh month: the time of a fast in memory of the murder of Gedaliah, the governor installed by the Babylonians after they conquered Jerusalem (see 2 Kgs 25:25; Jer 41:1–3). Seventy years: see note on 1:12.
* [7:7, 12] Earlier prophets: see note on 1:4.
* [7:10] Widow…orphan…resident alien…poor: four categories of socially and economically marginalized persons. Concern for their well-being is commanded in both pentateuchal and prophetic literature.
a. [7:5] Am 5:21.
b. [7:9] Is 1:17; 58:6.
c. [7:10] Ex 22:20–24; Dt 24:17; Jer 5:28; Mi 2:1.
d. [7:11] Ex 32:9; Is 48:4.
e. [7:12] Ez 11:19.
f. [7:14] Dt 4:27.
Seven Oracles: Judah and Zion Restored. 1Then the word of the LORD of hosts came: 2Thus says the LORD of hosts:
I am intensely jealous for Zion,a
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
3Thus says the LORD:
I have returned to Zion,
and I will dwell within Jerusalem;
Jerusalem will be called the faithful city,* b
and the mountain of the LORD of hosts, the holy mountain.
4Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of old age.c 5The city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
6Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it seem impossible in my eyes also?d—oracle of the LORD of hosts.
7Thus says the LORD of hosts:
I am going to rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. 8I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God,e in faithfulness and justice.
9Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Let your hands be strong, you who now hear these words which were spoken by the prophets when the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid* for the building of the temple.f 10For before those days, there were no wages for people, nor hire for animals. Those who came and went were not safe from the enemy, for I set neighbor against neighbor. 11But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in former days—oracle of the LORD of hosts.
12For there will be a sowing of peace:
the vine will yield its fruit,
the land will yield its crops,
and the heavens* will yield their dew.
I will give all these things to the remnant of this people to possess. 13Just as you became a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you that you may be a blessing.g Do not fear; let your hands be strong.
14Thus says the LORD of hosts:
Just as I intended to harm you when your ancestors angered me—says the LORD of hosts—and I did not relent, 15so again in these days I intend to favor Jerusalem and the house of Judah; do not fear! 16These then are the things you must do: Speak the truth to one another;h judge with honesty and complete justice in your gates.* i 17Let none of you plot evil against another in your heart, nor love a false oath. For all these things I hate—oracle of the LORD.
Three Oracles: Judah and the Nations. 18The word of the LORD of hosts came to me:
19Thus says the LORD of hosts:
The fast days of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months* j will become occasions of joy and gladness, and happy festivals for the house of Judah.k So love faithfulness and peace!
20Thus says the LORD of hosts:
There will yet come peoples and inhabitants of many cities;l 21and the inhabitants of one city will approach those of another, and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the LORD and to seek the LORD of hosts. I too am going.” 22Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the LORD.
23Thus says the LORD of hosts:
In those days ten people from nations of every language will take hold,m yes, will take hold of the cloak of every Judahite and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
* [8:3] Faithful city: a unique biblical epithet for Jerusalem, signaling the importance of the holy city and its leaders for establishing justice in society (see also vv. 8, 16, 19). Holy mountain: Jerusalem and its Temple, the sacred center of the holy land (2:16) and of the whole world.
* [8:9] When the foundation…was laid: December 18, 520 B.C., the date of the Temple refoundation ceremony, marking the beginning of the project to restore the Temple (see Hg 2:10, 18, 20).
* [8:12] Vine…land…heavens: future prosperity, reversing the hardships of Hg 1:10.
* [8:16] Gates: important gathering places in ancient Near Eastern cities, where legal proceedings were often carried out.
* [8:19] Fast days of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months: all these fast days were probably held in connection with Jerusalem’s demise. The fasts of the fourth month (commemorating the departure of Judahite leadership from Jerusalem, 2 Kgs 25:3–7) and of the tenth month (marking the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, 2 Kgs 25:1) were added to the fasts of the fifth and seventh months mentioned in Zec 7:3 and 5 (see notes).
a. [8:2] Zec 1:14.
b. [8:3] Is 1:26.
c. [8:4] Dt 4:40.
d. [8:6] Jer 32:27.
e. [8:8] Zec 13:9; Jer 31:33.
f. [8:9] Hg 1:14.
g. [8:13] Gn 12:3; Ps 72:17.
h. [8:16] Eph 4:25.
i. [8:16] Zec 7:9; Dt 21:19; 22:24; Ru 4:1, 11.
j. [8:19] Zec 7:1–3; Mt 9:14–15.
k. [8:19] Is 35:10; Jer 31:13.
l. [8:20] 1 Kgs 8:43.
m. [8:23] 1 Sm 15:27; Tb 13:11.
1An oracle:* the word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrach,
and Damascus is its destination,
For the cities of Aram are the LORD’s,
as are all the tribes of Israel.
2Hamath also on its border,
Tyre too, and Sidon, no matter how clever they be.
3Tyre built itself a stronghold,
and heaped up silver like dust,
and gold like the mud of the streets.
4But now the Lord will dispossess it,
and cast its wealth into the sea,
and it will be devoured by fire.
5Ashkelon will see it and be afraid;
Gaza too will be in great anguish;
Ekron also, for its hope will wither.
The king will disappear from Gaza,
Ashkelon will not be inhabited,
6and the illegitimate will rule in Ashdod.
I will destroy the pride of the Philistines
7and take from their mouths their bloody prey,
their disgusting meat from between their teeth.
They will become merely a remnant for our God,a
and will be like a clan in Judah;
Ekron will be like the Jebusites.*
8I will encamp at my house,
a garrison against invaders;
No oppressor will overrun them again,
for now I have seen their affliction.
9Exult greatly, O daughter Zion!
Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
Behold: your king* is coming to you,
a just savior is he,
Humble, and riding on a donkey,
on a colt, the foal of a donkey.b
10He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,c
and the horse from Jerusalem;
The warrior’s bow will be banished,
and he will proclaim peace to the nations.d
His dominion will be from sea to sea,
and from the River* to the ends of the earth.e
11As for you, by the blood of your covenant,* f
I have freed your prisoners from a waterless pit.
12Return to a fortress,*
O prisoners of hope;
This very day, I announce
I am restoring double to you.
13For I have bent Judah as my bow,
I have set Ephraim as its arrow;
I will arouse your sons, O Zion,
against your sons, O Yavan,*
and I will use you as a warrior’s sword.
14The LORD will appear over them,
God’s arrow will shoot forth as lightning;
The Lord GOD will sound the ram’s horn,
and come in a storm from the south.g
15The LORD of hosts will protect them;
they will devour and conquer with sling stones,
they will drink and become heated as with wine;
they will be full like bowls—like the corners of the altar.h
16And the LORD their God will save them:
the people, like a flock on that day;i
For like gemstones of a crown*
they will shine on the land.
17Then how good and how lovely!
Grain will make the young men flourish,
and new wine the young women.j
* [9:1–8] The opening verses of Second Zechariah delineate the ideal boundaries of a restored Israel. Echoing the ideas of Haggai and First Zechariah (chaps. 1–8), the prophet reiterates the notion that the rebuilt Temple will bring about peace. The areas to be returned to Israel include Syria (Aram), with the cities of Hadrach and Damascus; Phoenicia, with the cities of Tyre and Sidon; and Philistia, with the cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod.
* [9:1] An oracle: this designation also introduces Zec 12:1 and Mal 1:1, suggesting a connection among the three units. The term functions as both a title to the larger literary unit (Zec 9–11) and a part of the message of the opening oracular statement.
* [9:7] The Jebusites: the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Jerusalem, conquered by David and incorporated into Israel.
* [9:9–10] These two verses form the centerpiece of chap. 9. The restoration of a royal figure connects the first part of the chapter (vv. 1–8), which depicts the restored land of Israel, with the second part (vv. 11–17), which concerns the restoration of the people Israel.
* [9:9] Your king: a just savior, a figure of humble demeanor, but riding on a donkey like royalty in the ancient Near East (Gn 49:11; Jgs 5:10; 10:4). The announcement of the coming of such a king marks a departure from the view of the royal figure as a conquering warrior. This depiction is in keeping with the tone of First Zechariah (3:8; 4:6–10; 6:12) but contrasts with Haggai (2:20–23). New Testament authors apply this prophecy to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:4–5; Jn 12:14–15).
* [9:10] The River: probably the Euphrates; see note on Ps 72:8.
* [9:11] The blood of your covenant: the covenant between the Lord and Israel sealed with sacrificial blood (Ex 24:8).
* [9:12] Fortress: the Hebrew word for “fortress” (bissaron) plays upon the Hebrew word for Zion (siyyon). Those who return to Zion will be protected by the Lord. O prisoners of hope: imagery of exile, conveying a sense that the future in Israel will be better.
* [9:13] Your sons, O Yavan: the reference is to the Greeks and their struggle with the Persians for control of Syria-Palestine and the eastern Mediterranean in the mid-fifth century B.C.
* [9:16] Like gemstones of a crown: imagery reminiscent of First Zechariah (3:9; 4:7, 10; 6:11, 14) and evocative of the Temple and the priestly headgear (cf. Ex 29:6 and Lv 8:9).
a. [9:7] Is 4:3.
b. [9:9] Is 9:6; 62:11; Jer 23:5; Mt 21:5; Jn 12:15.
c. [9:10] Mi 5:9.
d. [9:10] Is 2:4; 11:6; Hos 2:20; Eph 2:17.
e. [9:10] Ps 72:8.
f. [9:11] Ex 24:4–8; Mt 26:28; Heb 13:20.
g. [9:14] Dt 33:2; Ps 18:14; Hb 3:4.
h. [9:15] Ex 27:3; 38:3; Nm 4:14.
i. [9:16] Ez 34:11.
j. [9:17] Jer 31:12–13.
1Ask the LORD for rain in the spring season,a
the LORD who brings storm clouds, and heavy rains,b
who gives to everyone grain in the fields.
2For the teraphim* have spoken nonsense,c
the diviners have seen false visions;
Deceitful dreams they have told,
empty comfort they have offered.
This is why they wandered like sheep,
wretched, for they have no shepherd.d
3My wrath is kindled against the shepherds,*
and I will punish the leaders.
For the LORD of hosts attends to the flock, the house of Judah,
and will make them like a splendid horse in battle.
4From them will come the tower,
from them the tent peg,
from them the bow of war,
from them every officer.
5Together they will be like warriors,
trampling the mud of the streets in battle.
They will wage war because the LORD is with them,
and will put the horsemen to shame.
6I will strengthen the house of Judah,e
the house of Joseph* I will save;
I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them;
they will be as if I had never cast them off,
for I am the LORD their God, and I will answer them.f
7Then Ephraim will be like a hero,
and their hearts will be cheered as by wine.g
Their children will see and rejoice—
their hearts will exult in the LORD.
8I will whistle for them and gather them in;
for I will redeem them
and they will be as numerous as before.*
9I sowed them among the nations,
yet in distant lands they will remember me;
they will bear their children and return.h
10I will bring them back from the land of Egypt,
and gather them from Assyria.
To the land of Gilead and to Lebanon I will bring them,
until no room is found for them.
11I will cross over to Egypt
and smite the waves of the sea,
and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
The pride of Assyria will be cast down,
and the scepter of Egypt disappear.
12I will strengthen them in the LORD,i
in whose name they will walk—oracle of the LORD.
* [10:2] Teraphim: household idols or cult objects (see Gn 31:19, 30–35; Jgs 17:5; 1 Sm 19:11–17), or ancestor statuettes (see 2 Kgs 23:24; Hos 3:4).
* [10:3] Against the shepherds: bad leaders or false prophets.
* [10:6] The house of Joseph: represents the Northern Kingdom (Israel), as does Ephraim in v. 7 below.
* [10:8] Gather them in…be as numerous as before: God’s intention is to bring back the exiles and redeem them as at the time of the exodus. This image, resumed in vv. 10–11, anticipates an expanded population, echoes the ancestral promise (Gn 1:22, 28; 9:1, 7; 35:11), and also suggests an awareness of the acute demographic decline of Jews in Palestine in the Persian period.
a. [10:1] Dt 11:14.
b. [10:1] Ps 135:7.
c. [10:2] 1 Sm 15:23.
d. [10:2] Ez 34:5; Mt 9:36.
e. [10:6] Zec 12:5.
f. [10:6] Is 41:17.
g. [10:7] Ps 104:15.
h. [10:9] Dt 30:1–3; Bar 2:30–32.
i. [10:12] Zec 12:5.
1Open your doors, Lebanon,
that fire may devour your cedars!
2Wail, cypress trees,
for the cedars are fallen,
the mighty are destroyed!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
for the dense forest is cut down!
3Listen! the wailing of shepherds,
their glory has been destroyed.
Listen! the roaring of young lions,
the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed.
The Shepherd Narrative.* a 4Thus says the LORD, my God: Shepherd the flock to be slaughtered.b 5For they who buy them slay them and are not held accountable; while those who sell them say, “Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich!” Even their own shepherds will not pity them. 6For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the earth—oracle of the LORD.—Yes, I will deliver them into each other’s power, or into the power of their kings; they will crush the earth, and I will not deliver it out of their power.
7So I shepherded the flock to be slaughtered for the merchants of the flock. I took two staffs: one I called Delight, and the other Union. Thus I shepherded the flock. 8In a single month, I did away with the three shepherds, for I wearied of them, and they disdained me. 9“I will not shepherd you,” I said. “Whoever is to die shall die; whoever is to be done away with shall be done away with; and those who are left shall devour one another’s flesh.”
10Then I took my staff Delight and snapped it in two, breaking my covenant which I had made with all peoples. 11So it was broken on that day. The merchants of the flock, who were watching me, understood that this was the word of the LORD. 12Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, withhold them.”c And they counted out my wages,d thirty pieces of silver. 13Then the LORD said to me, Throw it in the treasury—the handsome price at which they valued me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the LORD. 14Then I snapped in two my second staff, Union, breaking the kinship between Judah and Israel.
15The LORD said to me: This time take the gear of a foolish shepherd.e 16For I am raising up a shepherd in the land who will take no note of those that disappear, nor seek the strays, nor heal the injured,f nor feed the exhausted; but he will eat the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs!
17Ah! my worthless shepherd
who forsakes the flock!g
May the sword fall upon his arm
and upon his right eye;
His arm will surely wither,
and his right eye surely go blind!
* [11:4–17] This narrative has features of an allegory, a parable, and a commissioning narrative. The use of a symbolic action (vv. 7, 10, 14), however, places this text squarely in the tradition of classical prophecy. For example, the staff “Delight” signifies the Mosaic covenant, and the staff “Union” signifies the union of Israel and Judah. Breaking the staffs signifies the breaking of the Mosaic covenant (resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile) and the historical schism between north and south. In this narrative the prophet is the “shepherd” of God’s flock, which is to be slaughtered. The “three shepherds” of v. 8 represent either leaders responsible for the decay in Israelite society or false prophets (cf. vv. 15, 17 and 13:2–6). The service of the good shepherd is contemptuously valued at thirty pieces of silver, the legal indemnity for a gored slave (Ex 21:32). The prophet throws the money into the Temple treasury, showing how poorly God’s love is requited (cf. Mt 26:14–16; 27:5). With great rhetorical irony, payment is rejected. The entire wage-payment scenario may be regarded as another symbolic action, embedded within the primary action.
a. [11:4] Ez 34:1.
b. [11:4] Jer 12:3.
c. [11:12] Mt 27:3–10.
d. [11:12] 2 Kgs 12:11; 22:4.
e. [11:15] Ez 34:1–10.
f. [11:16] Is 42:3; Mt 12:20.
g. [11:17] Jer 23:1; Jn 10:12–13.
Oracles Concerning the Nations and Judah.* 1An oracle:* The word of the LORD concerning Israel—oracle of the LORD, who spreads out the heavens, lays the foundations of the earth, and fashions the human spirit within:a 2See, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling* for all peoples round about.b Judah will be besieged, even Jerusalem. 3On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all peoples. All who attempt to lift it will injure themselves badly, though all the nations of the earth will gather against it. 4On that day—oracle of the LORD—I will strike every horse with fright, and its rider with madness. But over the house of Judah I will keep watch, while I strike blind all the horses of the peoples. 5Then the clans of Judah will say to themselves, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem have their strength in the LORD of hosts, their God.”c 6On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a brazier of fire in the woodland and like a burning torch among sheaves, and they will devour right and left all the surrounding peoples; but Jerusalem will again inhabit its own place.d
7The LORD will save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over Judah. 8On that day the LORD will shield the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the weakest among them will be like David on that day; and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD before them.
9On that day I will seek the destruction of all nations that come against Jerusalem.e 10I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication, so that when they look on him whom they have thrust through,* f they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and they will grieve for him as one grieves over a firstborn.g
Catalogue of Mourners. 11On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.* 12And the land shall mourn, each family apart: the family of the house of David, and their women; the family of the house of Nathan, and their women; 13the family of the house of Levi, and their women; the family of Shimei, and their women; 14and all the rest of the families, each family apart, and the women apart.
* [12:1–10] The oracles deal with (1) the status of Judah in relation to other political powers in the world that threaten its existence and (2) the reordering of Judah’s internal structures so that its future can be realized. That future is linked to the fortunes of the house of David, which is mentioned five times between 12:7 and 13:1 (12:7, 8, 10, 12; 13:1).
* [12:1] An oracle: part two of Second Zechariah begins with the same heading as that of part one (9:1; also Mal 1:1), suggesting two distinct blocks of material. The unusual cluster of introductory terms that follow the heading greatly intensifies the claim of prophetic authority, apparently an issue in postexilic prophecy.
* [12:2] Cup of reeling: like a cup filled with intoxicating drink, Jerusalem will cause the nations to stumble and fall (cf. Is 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15; 49:12; Lam 4:21).
* [12:10] They look on him…thrust through: another possible rendering is “they shall look to me concerning him…thrust through.” In either case, the victim is an enigmatic figure, perhaps referring to a Davidic descendant, a priestly leader, or even a true prophet. Some historical event, unknown to us from any surviving source, may underlie this reference. The Gospel of John applies this text to the piercing of Christ’s side after his death (19:37).
* [12:11] The mourning for the pierced victim in Jerusalem is compared to the annual ritual mourning in the plain of Megiddo over the death of the Phoenician fertility god, Hadadrimmon. According to others, Hadadrimmon is the name of a place near Megiddo, and the reference would then be to the mourning over the death of King Josiah at the hands of Pharaoh Neco in 609 B.C.; cf. 2 Kgs 23:29–30; 2 Chr 35:22–25.
a. [12:1] Gn 2:7; Is 42:5.
b. [12:2] Is 51:17.
c. [12:5] Zec 10:6, 12.
d. [12:6] Zec 14:10.
e. [12:9] Zec 14:3.
f. [12:10] Jn 19:37; Rev 1:7.
g. [12:10] Am 8:10.
Oracles Concerning the End of False Prophecy.* 1On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David* and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to purify from sin and uncleanness.a
2On that day—oracle of the LORD of hosts—I will destroy the names of the idols from the land, so that they will be mentioned no more; I will also remove the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness from the land. 3If any still prophesy, their father and mother who bore them will say, “You will not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the LORD.” Their father and mother who bore them will thrust them through when they prophesy.b
4On that day, all prophets will be ashamed of the visions they prophesy; and they will not put on the hairy mantle* to mislead,c 5but each will say, “I am not a prophet. I am a tiller of the soil, for I have owned land since my youth.”d 6And if anyone asks, “What are these wounds on your chest?”* each will answer, “I received these wounds in the house of my friends.”e
7Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
against the one who is my associate
—oracle of the LORD of hosts.
Strike the shepherd
that the sheep may be scattered;* f
I will turn my hand against the little ones.
8In all the land—oracle of the LORD—
two thirds of them will be cut off and perish,
and one third will be left.
9I will bring the one third through the fire;
I will refine them as one refines silver,g
and I will test them as one tests gold.
They will call upon my name, and I will answer them;h
I will say, “They are my people,”i
and they will say, “The LORD is my God.”
* [13:1–6] False prophecy is a major theme of Second Zechariah (chaps. 9–14) and figures in many other passages (10:1–2; 11; 12:10). Problems of idolatry and false prophecy occurred in postexilic Judah as they had in preexilic times. The understanding of the role of the prophet as an intermediary was challenged because (1) there was no king in Jerusalem, and (2) the texts of earlier prophets were beginning to be accorded the authority of prophetic tradition.
* [13:1] For the house of David: anticipation that a cleansed leadership will enable the re-established monarchy to be rid of the misdeeds of its past.
* [13:4] Hairy mantle: worn by prophets as a sign of their calling, for example, Elijah (1 Kgs 19:13; 2 Kgs 1:8) and John the Baptist (Mt 3:4).
* [13:6] Wounds on your chest: lit., “wounds between your hands.” The false prophets, like the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:28), apparently inflicted wounds on themselves. Here it seems that persons accused of false prophecy deny having inflicted wounds on themselves and instead claim that they have received them at the houses of their friends.
* [13:7] Strike the shepherd…may be scattered: in Matthew’s Gospel (26:31) Jesus makes use of this text before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the flight of the disciples.
a. [13:1] Ez 36:25; 47:1; Jn 7:38.
b. [13:3] Jn 19:34.
c. [13:4] 2 Kgs 1:8; Mt 3:4.
d. [13:5] Am 7:14.
e. [13:6] 1 Kgs 18:28.
f. [13:7] Ez 34:1–8; Mt 26:31.
g. [13:9] Is 1:25; 48:10.
h. [13:9] Ps 91:15; Is 65:24.
i. [13:9] Zec 8:8; Jer 31:31.
Devastation and Rescue of Jerusalem. 1* A day is coming for the LORD when the spoils taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: The city will be taken, houses will be plundered, women raped; half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be removed from the city. 3Then the LORD will go forth and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day of battle.a 4On that day God’s feet will stand* on the Mount of Olives, which is opposite Jerusalem to the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west by a very deep valley,b and half of the mountain will move to the north and half of it to the south. 5You will flee by the valley between the mountains, for the valley between the mountains will reach to Azal. Thus you will flee as you fled because of the earthquake* in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.c Then the LORD, my God, will come, and all his holy ones with him.d
Jerusalem Restored. 6On that day there will no longer be cold or frost. 7There will be one continuous day—it is known to the LORD—not day and night, for in the evening there will be light. 8On that day, fresh water will flow from Jerusalem,e half to the eastern sea, and half to the western sea. This will be so in summer and in winter. 9The LORD will be king over the whole earth;f on that day the LORD will be the only one, and the LORD’s name the only one. 10All the land will turn into a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, which will stand exalted in its place—from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate, to the Corner Gate and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. 11The city will be inhabited; never again will it be doomed. Jerusalem will dwell securely.g
The Fate of Jerusalem’s Foes. 12And this will be the plague with which the LORD will strike all the peoples that have fought against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.h 13On that day a great panic from the LORD will be upon them.i They will seize each other’s hands, and their hands will be raised against each other. 14Even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. The riches of all the surrounding nations will be gathered together—gold, silver, and garments—in great abundance. 15Like the plague on human beings will be the plague upon the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and upon all the beasts that are in those camps.
The Future: Jerusalem, Judah, and the Nations. 16Everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to bow down to the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the feast of Booths.* j 17Should any of the families of the earthk not go up to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, the LORD of hosts, then there will be no rain for them. 18And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, upon them will fall the plague,l with which the LORD strikes the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths. 19This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths.
20On that day, “Holy to the LORD”m will be written on the horses’ bells.* The pots in the house of the LORD will be as the basins before the altar. 21Every pot* in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the LORD of hosts. All who come to sacrifice will take them and cook in them. No longer will there be merchants in the house of the LORD of hosts on that day.
* [14:1–21] The marked eschatalogical thrust of Zec 9–14 culminates in this apocalyptic description, with its astonishing images of the day of the Lord. This last and longest chapter focuses on the restoration of Jerusalem and the return of the people of Zion so that the rest of the world will acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Four units constitute this chapter: vv. 1–5 concentrate on the destruction and rescue of Jerusalem and the escape of a remnant; vv. 6–11 describe the transformation of the climate and the topography of Jerusalem; vv. 12–15 depict the defeat of Jerusalem’s enemies; and vv. 16–21 outline a vision for the end time, in which even foreign nations will make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to acknowledge God’s universal reign.
* [14:4] God’s feet will stand: a remarkable anthropomorphic image adds emphasis to the traditional Old Testament scene of God appearing on a mountain and causing extreme reactions such as quaking, melting, shattering (see Ex 19:18; Ps 97:5; Hb 3:6). The Mount of Olives is split, which opens a way for those fleeing from the Lord’s appearance to escape from Jerusalem.
* [14:5] Earthquake: Amos 1:1 mentions an earthquake in the time of King Uzziah (cf. Is 6:4).
* [14:16] Feast of Booths: fall harvest festival, also known as the “festival of Ingathering” (Ex 23:16; 34:22) or “Booths” (Lv 23:33–36; Dt 16:13–15; 31:9–13). The singling out of this festival indicates its special status in the sacred calendar; it is frequently referred to as “the feast” (1 Kgs 8:1–2; 2 Chr 5:3; Ez 45:25).
* [14:20] Horses’ bells: even these bells, part of the trappings of animals used for war, will become holy in the end time, like the bells of the high priest’s garb (cf. Ex 28:34).
* [14:21] Every pot: vessels used for mundane food preparation will, in the end time, be as holy as Temple vessels.
a. [14:3] Is 31:4.
b. [14:4] Mi 1:4.
c. [14:5] Am 1:1.
d. [14:5] Dt 33:2–3; Mt 16:27; 1 Thes 3:13.
e. [14:8] Zec 13:1; Ez 47:1–8; Jl 4:18.
f. [14:9] Ps 96:7–10; 97:1; 98:4–6; Rev 11:15.
g. [14:11] Dt 33:28; Jer 31:40; Rev 22:3.
h. [14:12] Is 66:24.
i. [14:13] 1 Sm 5:9, 11; 14:18–20; Is 22:5.
j. [14:16] Lv 23:33–36; Dt 16:13–15.
k. [14:17] Zec 8:20–23; Is 2:1–4; Mi 4:1–3.
l. [14:18] Ex 5:3; 9:15.
m. [14:20] Lv 23:20; 27:30, 32.