Zecharian Chapter Two
The Restrained Political Power of Former Oppressors
In Hebrew, Chapter 2 begins here.
Zec. 1:18 Then lifted I up my eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. Zec. 1:19 And I said to the angel that talked with me, What are these? And he answered me, these are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
The four horns represent four governments or states as in all other places in prophecy (i.e., .the ten horns and little horn of Dan. 7 and Rev. 13 & 17 and the four horns of Dan. 8 are symbols of states.) These four refer to the nations that had part in scattering Judah and the now dissolved Israel and hindering the return and rebuilding. They have now been assigned four angels or craftsmen to restrain them. The four horns are most probably Persia, Babylon, Assyria, and Egypt. A period of tranquil interstate relations is indicated and divine protection promised to Judah in the days ahead. Rebuilding now is assured! Other bad periods are forecast in this book but the period following Zechariah is not to be one of them. There would be relative peace for the Jews in the world from the reign of Darius until Antiochus Epiphanes (521 B.C.E. to 165 B.C.E.), since even Alexander spared the Jews and gave special privileges to them during the transition of power from Persians to Greeks.
Zec. 1:20 And the Lord showed me four carpenters. Zec. 1:21) Then said I, What come these to do? And he spoke, saying, These are the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man lifted up his head; but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles, which lifted up their horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
"Carpenters" is too specific for this generic word. Craftsmen is offered as a better substitute. Four angelic powers are employed to use other world powers to restrain the four horns. Which powers are meant specifically is open to opinion but the intent is clear. God is restraining and shaping the former power of the four horns, thus it is time to rebuild the Temple
Come Home, I've Returned!In Hebrew, verse 5 follows
Zec. 2:1 I Lifted up my eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand. Zec. 2:2 Then said I, Where are you going? And he said to me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth of it, and what is the length of it.
This is a fuller vision of surveying and laying out the plans for the future city which, according to the prophecy, would greatly exceed the current dimensions occupied by the partially rebuilt city which was Zechariah's audience. The reality of the future is so exciting it is something to shout about.
Zec. 2:3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him.
It is fruitless to speculate as to why another angel is introduced, but God has many powerful beings at his work.
Zec. 2:4 And said to him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein.
A Young Man
Zechariah the prophet was a youth. Hebrew "Na'ar," , is translated child in Jer. 1:6, "Then said I, Ah, Lord God! behold, I cannot speak: for I am a child." Zechariah was later a priest, the grandson of the priest Iddo who was a priest of the return from exile. (See Ezr. 5:1; 6:14; Neh. 12:4; 12:16) Therefore, Zechariah was first a young prophet and afterward a priest, since a priest was not of age until he was 30 years old. He is called "this young man." The word "this" is not "zeh," , but "halaz," , a different and less used demonstrative-- more emphatic. Zechariah was a youth!
"Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls." The word for towns means hamlets that are connected together and that run on and on, like London, for instance--a metropolitan area too large to enclose by a wall. However, divine protection is promised as a wall.
Zec. 2:5 For I will be to her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her, says the Lord.
In spite of the return of the "Skekinah" (see notes on 8:3) taking place in Zechariah's time not too far distant from this prophecy, this verse may also be Messianic. The meaning in Hebrew is grammatically closer to "her glory will be my presence." Literally the text says "and for glory I will be in her midst." The Messianic prophecies begin obscurely and develop to a crescendo at the close of the book. But it is more likely that Zechariah anticipated the return of the "Cavod YHWH" , or "Glory of the LORD" to a soon to be restored Temple as God so announces here.
Zec. 2:6 Ho, Ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, says the Lord: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, says the Lord.
"Come forth" and "Flee." This is an appeal for further "aliyah" (remigration) of the dispersed and those of the "galut" or exiles of the nation, the majority of whom are still in Babylon. Only about 50,000 of the whole nation returned including slaves. The number is given in Ezra:
(Ezr. 2:64) The whole congregation together was forty two thousand three hundred and sixty, (Ezr. 2:65) Beside their servants and their maids, of whom there were seven thousand three hundred thirty seven: and there were among them two hundred singing men and singing women.Most of the exiles would stay in Babylon in spite of further appeals and warnings not to dwell with the "daughter of Babylon." Babylon would become the center of world Jewry whose population would outnumber the Jews of Palestine and whose scholars, such as Hillel and Shammai, would outshine the Pharisees of Judea of the first century C.E. in importance. Many fled to Babylon after the dispersions of 70 C.E., first at the destructions of the Temple under Titus, and then at the destruction of 135 C.E. under Hadrian, after the abortive attempt at national restoration led by Akibah and Bar Cochbah. After the Jews were expelled from Judea by Hadrian, the Mishnaic scholars settled in Tiberius on the Sea of Galilee, but Babylonian scholarship continued to gain recognition and superiority. The more important Jewish traditions and the major contributions to legal study would be found in the future Babylonian, and not the Palestinian, Talmud.
Emphasis on study of these Babylonian writings has occupied Jewish sages for many centuries and keeps them from study of the Scriptures in the same depth. Consequently they never see the relationship of their nation with Jesus of Nazareth that is so clearly predicted in the pages of the prophets and with remarkably astonishing clarity in the pages of Zechariah.
Zec. 2:7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, who dwells with the daughter of Babylon.
"Himmalti," , translated "deliver yourself," is often translated "escape" or "slip away" as in secret. If you are a child of Zion you should not live with the daughter of Babylon, for the time may come when "escape" is impossible! One does not need to be a poet to see the spiritual applications here. The responsibility for the escape is placed squarely on the Zionist! Zion is the spiritual church of all ages. Babylon has always been the synonym for false religion and sin. Application can be made for the need to abandon the confines of false religion but the appeal here is literal. The appeal is for the exiles to escape now from Babylon.
Zec. 2:8 For thus says the Lord of hosts; After the glory has he sent me to the nations [Gentiles] which spoiled you; for he that touches you touches the apple of his eye.
This verse is also Messianic. "After glory" means "for the purpose of glory" he is sent. Who is sent? Not Zechariah since it is the LORD that is speaking and he says "he has sent me." The man of destiny who is spoken of in these pages will appear more clearly as we go along. But who is it who has received glory from the Gentiles? Let the reader decide.
"The apple of his eye." "Babah," , or "Bavah" , means the pupil of the eye, thus that which is looked at closely. "Bivthi," , and other cognates mean "my bavah" or "my friend with whom I have an intimate amorous relationship." The use of this idiom implys a very dear relationship.
Zec. 2:9 For, behold, I will shake my hand over them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me.
"I will shake." Hebrew "maniph," , a participle, indicates a continuity of action in the present. The word means to "rock to and fro." Thus it means "I am shaking."
"Over them." Probably not the nations mentioned in the last verse but the major enemy, Babylon, is meant. Their own servants (slaves) will spoil them. Babylon's fall from elegance as a world center, while Zion continues, is a sign of Divine providence and foreknowledge over which we can, with the Jews of Zechariah's day, join in rejoicing! Thus the next verse:
Zec. 2:10 Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion; for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of you, says the Lord. "Dwell in the midst," Hebrew "shakanthi," . (A direct reference to the "Skekinah.") Rejoice for the reason that the Almighty will take his abode with us. "Shakanthi" means "I will live in your neighborhood." This obviously refers to the return of the "Skekinah" mentioned in 8:3. The promise is at the same time Messianic. He will actually be a neighbor! The allusion to the "Skekinah" denoting the actual physical presence of God in the fiery pillar of cloud which led the Israelites in the wilderness adds to the mysticism of this promise. See the chapter on the "Skekinah" in this book.
Zec. 2:11 And many nations [Gentiles] shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of you, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you.
Zechariah's primary purpose is to predict the rebirth of the nation with the restored Temple and the "Skekinah" presence. This purpose reaches beyond his initial purpose and he also sees the final stage of the "yishuv," and that is the Kingdom of the Messiah who will call the Gentiles. The supernaturalness of the promises in this verse can only be understood by applying them to the plurality of the Godhead. The LORD, my, I, and me, all refer to the same person in this verse. The Gentiles being joined to the Lord is obviously Messianic and is similar to all the Gentile promises in all the prophets and has most certainly been fulfilled through Jesus of Nazareth.
Gentiles "Joined to the Lord" and "The Gentiles" shall be "my people" is a picture of the Messianic times mentioned in the David prophecies when Zion will be composed of Israel and the subdued nations of the world. And to Zion he says, "I will dwell among you." The word "dwell" is "Shakanthi" again. It is a further Messianic reference to a future second "Skekinah" presence in the days of the Messiah. And you will know "the LORD" has sent "me." Who is "me?" Not Zechariah. But the man of destiny who was to also have a "Skekinah" presence and become a neighbor in Zion! The passages which pair the LORD (YHWH) and the Messiah are all complex, confusing, and not understandable in a three-dimensional time frame. Zechariah contains several passages where the infinite and the finite are fused. This is one of them.
Zec. 2:12 And the Lord shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
"Holy land." It is not necessary to see this passage as part of the mystical overlapping into Messianic times in verse 11 but rather as a reversion to the genre of this prophecy that the actual earth "admath haqodesh," , the holy earth of Judea, will again be the habitation of God's people, the Jews, and he will claim it again as an inheritance, his portion; and Jerusalem though desolate now, when Zechariah wrote, will be the abode of God's name again. This was fulfilled physically, as this passage indicates it would be, by using the physical designation of "admath haqodesh." Unmistakably it means the Holy Land in Palestine.
It is necessary to have in view a desolate holy land at the time of this prophecy. Jerusalem was only a small city and Judea lay desolate with few if any inhabited towns; the hill country and the south or negev was empty and nearly devoid of settlement. God had revealed the imminent change of this condition and it excited Zechariah to a poetic appeal for reverence in the next verse.
Zec. 2:13 Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord; for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
. Zechariah himself cannot hold in the emotion of the moment and emits this call to holiness and reverence in view of the reality of these promises.
"Be Silent." In Hebrew the word "has," , is phonetically similar to "Hush."
"His holy habitation." Not "mishkan," , that is, neighborhood house, often translated "tabernacle," nor even "moshav," , that is, dwelling place, but "me'on," , a much more intimate place of abode which adds poetic emotion to this appeal to reverence. The word refers to the tabernacle in Ps 76:2 "In Salem also is his tabernacle, "suk," , and his dwelling place, "me'on," , in Zion." This word, "me'on," like "bavah," in verse eight above, carries with it feelings of intimacy (as are shared only by husband and wife) which the Lord has for his people and which are difficult to render into English.
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