A VERSE BY VERSE COMMENTARY OF THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH
Zechariah Chapter Six
We Looked Again, More Diligently, Still Very Calm
This chapter continues visions whose primary purpose is to persist in reassuring the leaders of the nation that the time is right in the world to rebuild the Temple. The first vision in this chapter is given entirely to this primary purpose. The rest of the chapter contains the same purpose but with secondary mystical references to the King-Priest whose coming is future but is connected spiritually with building the Temple of God.
As in other places references to the Messiah arise among events and predictions that relate to the future Temple and nation. In the latter part of the chapter two crowns are made to be placed in the not yet finished Temple to memorialize the volunteer youth groups or "chalutsiym" who gave great and talented assistance to rebuilding and beautifying the Temple. The two memorial crowns are first placed on Joshua's head as a symbol of the union of king and priest in the Messiah. That trips the "eternity" lever and Zechariah calls the name of the "Branch" which calls for further mystic looks to the future, in the midst of a historical event of placing a memorial in the Temple.
Zec. 6:1 And I turned, and lifted up my eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
The vision of chariots, "markavoth," , containing, rather than being drawn by, horses represents the four winds of heaven. The Hebrew in verse 2 clearly says the horses are in the chariots. That seems to me to preclude the idea that they represent "war chariots" or that the mission is vengeance or sending of distress as some say. In fact the opposite purpose is intended. The vision of the horsemen in chapter 1:8 found the earth quiet. In like manner the mission of this vision is a search but also added intervention to hasten the goal of quieting that which may not yet be fully at rest. Since the building of the Temple has only just been restarted, the purpose of the vision is to make known this divine intervention so as to further encourage the leaders to get on with the building.
Zec. 6:2 In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses; 6:3 And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
The color of the horses must not be of great significance because, except for the white and black, they are not consistently described in the verses that follow. They are listed first as red, black, white, and the description of the last may not be colors but may indicate "strong and active." In the description when they were sent off, the red is omitted and there is no satisfactory explanation for this. The black and white groups both go north while the "strong and active" or grisled and bay are divided into two groups, one to the south and one at his own request walking to and fro, that is, ranging all over the area.
Zec. 6:4 Then I answered and said to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord? 6:5 And the angel answered and said to me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
They are called the "four spirits" in the KJV but should be "winds." Hebrew "ruchoth hashamayim" , is a common figure translated usually "four winds of heaven" as in Jer. 49:36 where the winds scatter the enemies and in Eze. 37:9 where they bring life to the dry bones, and in Dan. 7:2 where they are the source of political change, and Dan. 8:8 and Dan. 11:4 where the figure simply means "all directions," and in Zec. 2:6 where the same form means wide spread. There is nothing in the figure of "four winds" itself to narrow its meaning to be destruction or judgment. The references above show applications that are not always negative. The concept of a widespread, diligent search is indicated here rather than a destructive visit.
Zec. 6:6 The black horses which are there go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country. 6:7 And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth; and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.
"Sought to go." Hebrew "yevaqeshu," . The root means they requested respectfully. It is the modern Hebrew word for "please."
As noted above both the black and the white horses went to search out the north and the bay would have ranged there as well. This would assure that a search would be made of the whole earth and the north country would have more than twice the coverage.
Zec. 6:8 Then he cried to me, and spoke to me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.
"Have quieted." Hebrew "heniychu," , "they caused rest," is a causative plural verb. It means that the messengers directly caused the rest. This is what makes their mission different than that of those in 1:8 who merely reported their findings.
The figures in this vision are the same and the message is the same as the first vision of the horses among the willows who had also gone to and fro in the earth and found it quiet and at rest. (Zec. 1:8-11) The conclusion there is that it is now time to get on with the building because they will not suffer future disturbances. The search here may be more far reaching. But the reason for the repeat message is seen in the notes on Zec. 3:6. God taught Joshua by means of repetitive witnessing. The need to repeat the same message is certain and there is nothing more meant here than making the same message plainer, except that the addition of divine intervention assures the continuing relative tranquility. Again, the color of the horses is not material to the message and useless speculation will only cloud the clear message. That is, God's four spirits or winds have gone all over the earth and two messengers have been assigned to the north, the location most feared; they searched and all is quiet. Then further assurance is given in the text, that God's spirit in the north is quieted. The text says the messengers accomplished this. The other locations do not matter. This is because it is from that direction, the north, that most trouble is to be expected. So we can be doubly sure that the land of the north is secure since two teams have been sent and a third goes every-where as well, including the north. This is the direction from which those in Mesopotamia would enter Israel. Thus Babylon, Assyria, Persia, and Chaldea would travel up the Euphrates valley and descend between the Anti-Lebanon mountains into Israel from the north. Thus they say, "All is quiet and God is not going to stir up anything! Let us build the Temple."
The Memorial for the "Chalutsiym."
Zec. 6:9 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 6:10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and you go the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah
. "Take." Hebrew "laqo-ach," , is an infinitive absolute, a verbal noun, translated here and in Jer 32:14 as an imperative. Literally "taking."
"Them of the captivity." Hebrew "meyeth hagolah mey-helday etc." Literally "from the captivity, from Heldai, etc." Probably means that the family of Heldai contains those names following. He is not asked to take Heldai but take from Heldai. There is a difference in the names here and where they are mentioned again in verse 14 below. As in most cases in Hebrew the names have a literal meaning. The Septuagint actually gives the meaning as a description of a group rather than a personal name. Heldai is translated "rulers," Tobijah is translated "those that are useful, Jedaiah is translated "those who are well known." The Hebrew text leaves room for more people than the two who are named here. In this method of interpretation Heldai is probably the family, while Tobijah and Jedaiah would be subordinate families in the Heldian clan of the captivity. The Hebrew text leaves this possibility open and verse 14 names more than three people whose names are to be associated with the memorial. This may support the view that these names represent groups rather than three or four workmen.
"Which are come from Babylon" probably means they have recently arrived as "'oliym chadashiym," , or new immigrants and "chalutsiym," , who are now staying in the house of one Josiah. Some, at least, will stay permanently; some may return after the construction is complete, but they probably have come from Babylon in anticipation of being used as craftsmen in the rebuilding of the Temple. See notes on verse 14 below.
These mentioned are craftsmen who are to make crowns of gold and silver. They are to make two crowns. Obviously silver is inferior to gold. Those who say there was one crown or two mingled as one miss the point of the vision. The point is Messianic and speaks of the King-Priest who will wear both crowns.
Zec. 6:11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;
"Crowns." Hebrew "ataroth," , or wreath like crowns. The verbal form can mean to surround or encircle as with a wreath. It is significant that the verbal form "to crown" is not used in reference to Joshua. Zechariah did not crown Joshua! He set crowns on his head as a type of a future King-Priest who would be crowned with many crowns when he would come! If he, Joshua, were the one meant to receive the full significance of these crowns the text would have used the verbal form, "he crowned," instead of "he set the crowns" on Joshua's head.
"You take" and "you make" and "you set" are all singular verbs. Zechariah at the LORD's instruction made the arrangements and the design for the crowns. The craftsmen made them and Zechariah set them both on Joshua's head.
Joshua is to wear both crowns. This has to be a picture of the King-Priest who is to come, since Joshua did not share the political power. The political power was in the hands of Zerubbabel. Thus the vision is prophetic of another priest in a different time.
The Douay Confraternity Version has a completely unwarranted and confused rendering here. Unwarranted because the Vulgate follows the Hebrew exactly. They add the name Zerubbabel to verse 11, as do some others, only because they think two crowns mean two people. The point of the passage is to predict two crowns and one priest like Melchizedek who was a King-Priest, after whose order Jesus came (See Heb 5-7). There is no textual reasons for any addition.
Zec. 6:12 And speak to him, saying, Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the Temple of the LORD.
This was spoken directly to Joshua but could not be meant to apply to him except as a type of a greater builder to come.
"Branch." Hebrew "tsemach," . "He shall grow up" is "yitsmach," . (See also notes on Zec. 3:8.) Joshua can not fulfill the Branch prophecies. He is of the Levitical family while the Branch according to Jer 23:5 and Jer. 33:15 is of the house of David (See notes on 3:8). Isaiah says he is a root out of Jesse. The one who is to build the Temple who has the mystical name, sits in the Temple and rules as a King. Joshua as a Levite could not fit this picture. Only the "Yehoshua ha-meshiach," Jesus the Messiah, can fill this picture as a priest of Melchizedek's order.
Zec. 6:13 Even he shall build the Temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
This plain statement places the throne in the Temple so that he as a King-Priest has to move beyond the realm of Mosaic law which did not allow that position. Joshua can only be meant as a type of him who is to come.
"Bear the glory" refers to earlier descriptions of God's glory being in the midst of his people, i.e. the second presence of the "Skekinah" spoken of earlier. There is a promise of a return of the Mosaic "Shekinah Glory" when the Temple is reconstructed soon after these prophecies were written. There is also a distant prediction of the Messianic presence using the same motif of a glorious presence. This verse must refer to the second Messianic "Shekinah.".
"Between them both." Hebrew "beyn shneyhem," , means "between the two of them." Zerubbabel and Joshua are not in the context so they do not seem to be referred to. The Temple and the throne are mentioned and must be meant. There has, in the past, been conflict between the king and the High Priest. Here the "council of peace" will be a reality between both the worship and the government. In either case the same Messianic figure does both. He sits on the throne and bears the glory in the Temple. These verses are not poetic descriptions of a glorified position for Joshua the High Priest but speak of a future King-Priest who will be the glory of the Temple he himself builds. Who else could be meant but Jesus of Nazareth, the Branch?
He now returns to the temporal significance of the memorial crowns.
Zec. 6:14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the Temple of the LORD.
Here Heldai is omitted for which Helem may be substituted, or it may be a collective description as in the Septuagint where Helem is translated "those who leave it behind." This may imply that some of the craftsmen were merely visiting volunteers who returned to Babylon after the work was completed. The Septuagint translates Tobijah and Jedaiah the same here as in verse eleven above, that is, "Those who are useful and those who are well known." Hen, which does not appear in verse 11, is translated "grace" in the Septuagint. Hen is Hebrew "chen," , which means "grace." Thus the crowns are a memorial to the craftsmen whose artistry is to glorify the future Temple. They are also a memorial to the graciousness of the household of Josiah son of Zephaniah, who gave hospitality to these visiting craftsmen. These crowns were made when the work on the Temple was near completion and their purpose is prophetic; therefore the mystical aspects of eternity overlap their more imminent fulfillments.
"For a memorial." Hebrew "lezikkaron," , means "for their memorial." The memorial is to commemorate these above mentioned men or groups and is also a memorial of the prophecy of the future crowning of the King-Priest which will heighten Messianic anticipation by their presence in the Temple. It does not commemorate crowning Joshua as a King-Priest except as a type. Joshua was not crowned. See above in verse 11
. "In the Temple." Hebrew "heykal," , a palace, great house, Temple, means the building itself although it refers to God's dwelling place in heaven in Isa. 6:1. The crowns are to be made first and they will be kept to be placed later in the Temple when it is finally built. It is now only a prospect. The memorial crowns, when hung in the Temple, will be retrospective of this remembered event when the Temple was still only hoped for. They will also be prospective after being hung in the Temple. -- looking for the King-Priest, the Branch, who is to come and who will wear the two crowns. Just as Zechariah predicted, these crowns were later placed in the Temple, nearly sixty feet high on the wall, and were viewed for almost 600 years by young priests who climbed golden chains to their location, up to the time of the destruction in 70 C.E.*
* Mishnah: Midd. 3:8Zec. 6:15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the Temple of the LORD, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
"They that are far off." Again we have the figure of the call of the Gentiles. This is so pervasive in the prophets relating to the Messianic times that it is one of the main proofs which establish the identity of the Messiah. For almost 2000 years the Gentiles, through Jesus, have been possessors of the spiritual heritage of Israel; they have been spiritually taken for Levites and priests; they have made Zion their homeland. Isaiah 66 contains a Gentile prophecy that is similar and would have to be fulfilled spiritually. Let us look at a few of those predictions and see that they could never be fulfilled literally.
The future nation of Zion is to be born in one day! "Shall a nation be born at once? for as soon as Zion travailed, she brought forth her children." The blessings of that nation are pictured as though a new born is sucking the breasts of his mother for full satisfaction. (Isa. 66:11) "That ye may suck, and be satisfied with the breasts of her consolations; that ye may milk out, and be delighted with the abundance of her glory." The glory of the Gentiles is then mentioned to be a part of this Messianic time: (Isa. 66:12) "For thus says the Lord, Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river, and the glory of the Gentiles like a flowing stream." At least one song writer has set these poetic expressions to music to refer to the blessings brought to us through Jesus. He continues the mother child symbol, then goes into poetic figures to show the spiritual battle when the LORD will use his people of Zion to conquer the Gentiles. "And the hand of the Lord shall be known toward his servants, and his indignation toward his enemies. (Isa. 66:15) For, behold, the Lord will come with fire, and with his chariots like a whirlwind, to render his anger with fury, and his rebuke with flames of fire. (Isa. 66:16) For by fire and by his sword will the Lord plead with all flesh: and the slain of the Lord shall be many." In the third chapter of Joel this figure of the slain is used again in the Bible to refer to the victory of God when his people and the Gentiles trust in him, where in the valley of Jehoshaphat a similar destruction is predicted in the same spiritual terms. In Isaiah the figure goes on to include evangelism. "I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory. (Isa. 66:19) And I will set a sign among them, and I will send those that escape of them unto the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, that draw the bow, to Tubal, and Javan, to the isles afar off, that have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory; and they shall declare my glory among the Gentiles." This passage could not be fulfilled literally but has been marvelously fulfilled through Jesus of Nazareth. Isaiah goes on to say that army of evangelists, captured from among the Gentiles, will bring their brothers back to Jerusalem as an offering and they, the Gentiles, will become priests and Levites! Thus: (Isa. 66:21) "And I will also take of them for priests and for Levites, says the Lord." They will then keep the religious practices of the nation of Israel. (Isa. 66:23) "And it shall come to pass, that from one new moon to another, and from one sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before me." Only spiritually can these passages be seen as fulfilled or able to be fulfilled. The Messianic portions of Zechariah must be seen in the same way. This can be particularly applied here and at the close of chapter 14 in Zechariah.
Return to Commentary Directory
Go Back to Moellerhaus Homepage