Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
A man with a measuring line in his hand - Probably the Angel of the Lord, of whom Ezekiel has a like vision. Jerome: "He who before, when he lift up his eyes, had seen in the four horns things mournful, now again lifts up his eves to see a man, of whom it is written, "Behold a man whose name is the Branch" Zac 6:12; of whom we read above, "Behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle trees, which were in the bottom" Zac 1:8. Of whom too the Father saith; He builded My city, "whose builder and maker is God" Heb 11:10. He too is seen by Ezekiel in a description like this, "a man whose appearance was like the appearance of brass" Eze 40:3, that is, "burnished and shining as fire, with a line of flax in his hand and a measuring reed" Eze 1:7. The office also seems to be one of authority, not to measure the actual length and breadth of Jerusalem, but to lay down what it should be, (Cyril), "to mark it out broad and very long."
The angel that talked with me went forth - Probably to receive the explanation which was given him for Zechariah; and another angel, a higher angel, since he gives him a commission, "went forth to meet him," being (it seems probable) instructed by the Angel of the Lord, who laid down the future dimensions of the city. The indefiniteness of the description, another angel, implies that he was neither the Angel of the Lord, nor (were they different) Michael, or the man with the measuring line, but an angel of intermediate rank, instructed by one higher, instructing the lower, who immediately instructed Zechariah.
And said unto him, Run, speak unto this young man - The prophet himself, who was to report to his people what he heard. Jeremiah says, "I am a youth" Jer 1:6; and, "the young man," "the young prophet," carried the prophetic message from Elisha to Jehu. "Youth,'" common as our English term in regard to man, is inapplicable and unapplied to angels, who have not our human variations of age, but exist, as they were created.
Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls - Or as villages (see the notes at Hab 3:14), namely, an unconfined, uncramped population, spreading itself freely, without restraint of walls, and (it follows) without need of them. Clearly then it is no earthly city. To be inhabited as villages would be weakness, not strength; a peril, not a blessing. The earthly Jerusalem, so long as she remained unwalled, was in continual fear and weakness. God put it into the heart of His servant to desire to restore her; her wall was built, and then she prospered. He Himself had promised to Daniel, that "Her street shall be rebuilt, and her wall, even in strait of times" Dan 9:25. Nehemiah mourned 73 years after this, 443 b.c., when it was told him, "The remnant that are left of the captivity there in the province are in great affliction and reproach: the wall of Jerusalem also is broken down, and the gates thereof are burned with fire" Neh 1:3. He said to Artaxerxes, "Why should not my countenance be sad, when the city, the place of my fathers' sepulehres, lieth waste, and the gates thereof are consumed with fire?" Neh 2:3. When permitted by Artaxerxes to return, he addressed the rulers of the Jews, "Ye see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lieth waste, and the gates thereof are burned with fire; come, and let us build up the wall of Jerusalem, that we be no more a reproach; and they said, let us rise and build. So they strengthened their hands for this good work" Neh 2:17-18. When "the wall was finished and our enemies heard, and the pagan about us saw it, they were much cast down in their own eyes; for they perceived that this work was wrought of our God" Neh 6:15-16.
This prophecy then looks on directly to the time of Christ. Wonderfully does it picture the gradual expansion of the kingdom of Christ, without bound or limit, whose protection and glory God is, and the character of its defenses. It should "dwell as villages," peacefully and gently expanding itself to the right and the left, through its own inherent power of multiplying itself, as a city, to which no bounds were assigned, but which was to fill the earth. Cyril: "For us God has raised a church, that truly holy and far-famed city, which Christ fortifies, consuming opponents by invisible powers, and filling it with His own glory, and as it were, standing in the midst of those who dwell in it. For He promised; "Lo, I am with you always even unto the end of the world." This holy city Isaiah mentioned: "thine eyes shall see Jerusalem, a quiet habitation; a tabernacle that shall not be taken down; not one of the stakes thereof shall ever be removed, neither shall any of the cords thereof be broken" Isa 33:20; and to her he saith, "enlarge the place of thy, tent, and let them stretch forth the curtains of thine habitation; spare not; lengthen thy cords and strengthen thy stakes. For thou shalt break forth on the right hand and on the left" Isa 54:2-3. For the church of Christ is widened and extended boundlessly, ever receiving countless souls who worship Him." Rup.: "What king or emperor could make walls so ample as to include the whole world? Yet, without this, it could not encircle that Jerusalem, the church which is diffused through the whole world. This Jerusalem, the pilgrim part of the heavenly Jerusalem, is, in this present world, inhabited without walls, not being contained in vile place or one nation. But in that world, where it is daily being removed hence, much more can there not, nor ought to be, nor is, any wall around, save the Lord, who is also the glory in the midst of it."
And I, Myself in My own Being, will be to her a wall of fire - Not protection only, an inner circle around her, however near an enemy might press in upon her, but destructive to her enemies. Isaiah says, "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper, and every tongue that shall rise in judgment against thee thou shalt condemn" Isa 54:17. Its defense, Isaiah says, shall be immaterial. "We have a strong city; salvation shall God appoint for walls and bulwarks" Isa 26:1; "thou shalt call thy walls salvation and thy gates praise" Isa 60:18). By a different figure it is said, "I will encamp about mine house because of the army" Zac 9:8.
And glory will I be in the midst of her - As Isaiah says, "The Lord shall be unto thee an everlasting light, and thy God thy glory" Isa 60:19; and of Christ, "In that day shall the Branch of the Lord be Beauty and Glory - to the escaped of Israel" Isa 4:2.
Ho! ho! and flee - Such being the safety and glory in store for God's people in Jerusalem, He who had so provided it, the Angel of the Lord, bids His people everywhere to come to it, saving themselves also from the peril which was to come on Babylon. So Isaiah bade them, "Go ye forth of Babylon; flee ye from the Chaldaeans with a voice of singing; declare ye, tell this, utter it to the end of the earth; say ye, The Lord hath redeemed His servant Jacob" Isa 48:20. "Depart ye, depart ye, go ye out from thence; touch no unclean thing: go ye out of the midst of her; be ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" Isa 52:11; and Jeremiah, "Flee ye out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul; be not cut off in her iniquity, for this is the time of the Lord's vengeance. He will render unto her a recompense" (Jer 51:6, add. Jer 50:8). "My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye, every man his soul from the fierce anger of the Lord" Jer 51:45.
The words, "flee, deliver thyself," imply an imminent peril on Babylon, such as came upon her, two years after this prophecy, in the fourth year of Darius. But the earnestness of the command, its repetition by three prophets, the context in isaiah and Jeremiah, imply something more than temporal peril, the peril of the infection of the manners of Babylon, which may have detained there many who did not return. Whence in the New Testament, the words are cited, as to the great evil city of the world; "Wherefore come out from among them and be ye separate, and touch not the unclean thing, and I will receive you" Co2 6:17; and under the name of Babylon; "I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, My people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues" Rev 18:4.
For I have spread you abroad as the four winds of heaven - The north country, although its capital and center was Babylon, was the whole Babylonian empire, called "the North" Jer 1:13-14; Jer 3:18; Jer 4:6; Jer 6:1, Jer 6:22; Jer 23:8 because its invasions always came upon Israel from the north. But the book of Esther shows that, sixty years after this, the Jews were dispersed over the 127 provinces of the Persian empire, from India (the Punjab) to Ethiopia Est 1:1; Est 3:8, Est 3:12-14; Est 8:5, Est 8:9, whether they were purposely placed by the policy of the conquerors in detatched groups, as the ten tribes were in the "cities of the Medes" Kg2 17:6, or whether, when more trusted, they migrated of their own accord. God, in calling them to return, reminds them of the greatness of their dispersion. He had dispersed them abroad as the four winds of heaven . He, the Same, recalled them.
Dwellest with the daughter of Babylon - The unusual idiom is perhaps chosen as expressive of God's tenderness, even to the people who were to be destroyed, from which Israel was to escape.
After the glory - Jonathan: "Which it is promised to bring upon you." This being the usual construction, the words involve a great course of God's dealing, of first showing favor to those who will receive favor, then abandoning or punishing the rest; as, when the eight souls had been received into the ark, the flood came; when Lot and his had escaped out of Sodom, the fire came down from heaven; when Israel had passed the Red Sea, Pharaoh's hosts were drowned; the election obtained what israel sought for, the rest were blinded. "The glory" then would be the glory, of which God says, "I will be the glory in the midst of you" Rom 11:7.
But further He who speaketh is Almighty God, "Thus saith the Lord of Hosts, He hath sent me; For lo I wave My hand against them - and ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me; Lo I come and dwell in the midst of thee, saith the Lord, and many nations shall cleave unto the Lord in that day, and they shall be to Me a people and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know, that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto you" Zac 2:8-10. In all which series of promises, the I, of whom Israel were to know that the Lord of hosts had sent Him, is the I, who affirms of Himself what belongs to Almighty God only, inflicting punishment on the enemies of Judah, indwelling the Church and people, receiving the pagan as His own; and it is precisely by all these acts of power and love, that Israel shall know that the Lord of hosts had sent Him.
(Jerome: "In what follows, 'Thus saith the Lord of hosts, After glory, He hath sent Me' etc., the Saviour is introduced speaking, who, being Almighty God, saith that He was sent by the Father Almighty, not according to that whereby He was Almighty, but according to that, that, after glory, He was sent, "who being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, and was made obedient unto the Father even unto death; and that, the death of the Cross" Phi 2:6. Nor is it marvel that Christ is called Almighty, in whose Person we read in the Apocalypse of John, "These things saith the faithful Witness - I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which was and which is and which is to come, the Almighty" Rev 1:5, Rev 1:8, "to whom all power is given in heaven and in earth" Mat 28:18; and who saith, "All things of the Father's are Mine" Joh 16:15. But if all things, that is, God from God, Lord from. Lord, Light from Light, therefore also Almighty from Almighty; for it cannot be, that diverse should be the glory of those whose Nature is One."
For he who toucheth - So as to injure , you, "toucheth the apple of His eye," that is, of Him who sent Him, Almighty God. So Jerome, Theodoret Others, as Cyril, of his own eye, turning to evil to himself; but the analogy of the other passages is against it), as in the song of Moses, "He led him about, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye" Deu 32:10; and David prays, "Keep me as the apple of the eye" Psa 17:8.
For behold I will shake My hand against them - As God promised of old against the enemies of His people , and they shall be a spoil to those who served them habitually.
And ye shall know that the Lord of hosts hath sent Me - Theodoret: "He was sent, not as God, but as Man. For as God He is equal to the Father. For He saith, "I am in the Father and the Father in Me, and, The Father who dwelleth in Me He doeth the works" Joh 14:10, and, "I and My Father are one" Joh 10:30, and "He who hath seen Me hath seen the Father" Joh 14:9. But He is sent, as man, fulfilling the dispensation for us, not lessening the divine nature. The prophet then intimated not the duality only, but the equality of the persons."
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion - It is a great jubilee of joy, to which Zion is invited. Thrice beside is she invited with this same word, and all for the restored or renewed Presence of God. "Cry aloud for joy, thou barren which bare not" Isa 54:1, as here, on the coming in of the Gentiles, "Cry aloud for joy, O daughter of Zion; jubilate, O Israel; rejoice and exult with all the heart, O daughter of Jerusalem; the Lord, the King of Israel, is in the midst of thee" Zep 3:14-15. "Shout and cry aloud for joy, O inhabitant of Zion; for great in the midst of thee is the Holy One of Israel" Isa 12:6. The source of joy is a fresh coming of God, a coming, whereby He should dwell abidingly among them: truly what is this, but the Incarnation? As John saith, "The Word was made Flesh and dwelt among us" Joh 1:14; and, "Behold the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself shall be with them and shall be their God" Rev 21:3.
Cyril: "Hence too you may learn how great a subject of contentment above is the Presence of the Saviour upon earth. He could not then but bid the spiritual Zion, "which is the Church of the Living God" Ti1 3:15, the most sacred multitude of those saved by faith, to cry aloud for joy and rejoice. But it was announced that He should come and be in the midst of her. For John saith to us, The Word "was in the world" Joh 1:10, and, being God, was not severed from His creatures, but He was Himself the Source of life to all living, and holding all things together to well-being and life; but "the world knew Him not" Joh 1:10 : for it worshiped the creature. But He came among us, when, taking our likeness, He was conceived by the holy Virgin, and "was seen upon earth and conversed with men" , and the divine David witnesseth saying, "Our God shall come manifestly, and shall not keep silence" Psa 50:3. Then also was there a haven for the Gentiles. For now no longer was the race of Israel alone taught, but the whole earth was engoldened with the evangelical preachings, and in every nation and country "great is His Name."
Jerome: "This too is to be understood of the Person of the Lord, that He exhorts His people, being restored from the captivity to their former abode, to be glad and rejoice, because the Lord Himself cometh and dwelleth in the midst of her, and many nations shall believe in Him, of whom it is said, "Ask of Me and I will give Thee nations for Thine inheritance, and the ends of the earth for Thy possession" Psa 2:8, and He shall dwell in the midst of them, as He saith to His disciples, "Lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" Mat 28:20.
And many nations shall join themselves - cleaving to Him by a close union. Isaiah had so spoken of single proselytes Isa 56:3-6; Jeremiah had used the word of Israel's self-exhortation after the return from Babylon; "going and weeping," they shall go and seek the Lord their God, saying, "Come and let us join ourselves unto the Lord, in a perpetual covenant that shall not be forgotten" Jer 50:4-5. This Zechariah now predicts of "many nations." The Jews were scarcely half-restored themselves, a mere handful. They had wrought no conversions among the pagan, yet prophecy continues its unbroken voice, "many nations shall join themselves unto the Lord."
And shall be My people - Literally, "be to Me a people." This is exactly the history of the Christian church, unity amid diversity; many nations still retaining their national existence, yet owned by God as one people and His own. The words are those in which God adopted Israel in Egypt; "I will take you to Me for a people, and I will be your God" Exo 6:7. This was the covenant with them, "that thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God, that He may establish thee today for a people unto Himself, and that he may be unto thee a God" (Deu 29:12-13, add Lev 26:12; Deu 27:9; Sa1 12:22; Sa2 7:23-24; Kg2 11:17; Ch1 17:22; Ch2 23:16; Jer 7:23; Jer 11:4). The contrary was the title of the pagan, "not a people; with whom God said, I will move Israel to jealousy" Deu 32:21. The closeness of union Jeremiah expresses; "As the girdle cleaveth to the loins of a man, so have I caused to cleave to Me the whole house of Israel and the whole house of Judah, saith the Lord, that they might be unto Me for a people and for a name and for a praise and for a glory" Jer 13:11. This was the object of the existence of Israel; to this it was to be restored Jer 24:7; Jer 30:22; Jer 31:1; Jer 32:38 by conversion Eze 11:20; Eze 14:11; Eze 36:28; Eze 37:23, Eze 37:27; Zac 8:8; to this special privilege of Israel "many nations" were to be admitted; yet not so as to be separate from Israel, for He adds, "and I will dwell in, the midst of thee," Judah. God would dwell in His Church, formed of Israel and the Gentiles, yet so that the Gentiles should be grafted into Israel, becoming one with them.
And the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion - The inheritance of the Lord is the title which God commonly gave to Israel (Deu 4:20; Deu 9:26, Deu 9:29; Sa1 26:19; Sa2 14:16; Sa2 20:19; Sa2 21:3; Kg1 8:51; Psa 28:9; Psa 33:12; Psa 68:10; Psa 78:62, Psa 78:71; Psa 119:1; Psa 106:40, Joe 2:17; Joe 3:2, (Hebrew) Isa 19:25; Isa 47:6; Jer 12:7-9; Jer 50:11). God is said to be the portion of Israel Jer 10:16; Jer 51:19; of the pious Psa 16:5; Psa 73:26; Psa 119:57; Psa 142:6; Lam 3:24; once only beside, is Israel said to be the portion of God Deu 32:9; once only is God said to inherit Israel, "Pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for thine inheritance" Exo 34:9. Zechariah unites the two rare idioms.
In the holy land - The land is again made holy by God, and sanctified by His Presence. So He calls the place where He revealed Himself to Moses, "holy ground" Exo 3:5. So it is said, "the holy place" Lev 10:17; Lev 14:13, "the holy house" Ch1 29:3, "the holy ark" Ch2 35:3, "the holy city" Neh 11:1, Neh 11:18; Isa 48:2; Isa 52:1, "the holy mountain" Isa 27:13; Jer 31:23; Zac 8:3, "the holy people" Isa 62:12, "the holy chambers" (Eze 42:13 all), or, with reference to their relation to God who consecrates them, "My holy mountain" Psa 2:6; Isa 11:9; Isa 56:7; Isa 57:13; Isa 65:11, Isa 65:25; Isa 66:20; Eze 20:40; Joe 2:1; Joe 3:17; Oba 1:16. Zep 3:11, "Thy holy habitation" Exo 15:13, "Thy holy dwelling-place" (Deu 26:15. "His holy hab." Psa 68:6; Jer 25:30; Zac 2:1-13 :17) "thy holy temple" (Psa 5:8; Psa 79:1; Psa 138:2; Jon 2:5, Jon 2:8, "His holy temple," Mic 1:2; Hab 2:20), "Thy holy mountain" (Psa 15:1; Psa 43:3; Dan 9:16. "His holy hill," Psa 3:5; Psa 48:2; Psa 99:9), "Thy holy oracle" Psa 28:2, "Thy holy city" Dan 9:24, "cities" Isa 64:9, "His holy place" Psa 24:1-10 :, "His holy border." Psa 78:54. It is not one technical expression, as people now by a sort of effort speak of "the holy land." Everything which has reference to God is holy. The land is holy, not for any merits of theirs, but because God was worshiped there, was specially present there. It was an anticipation and type of "Thy holy Church throughout all the world doth acknowledge Thee." This land their fathers had "polluted with blood" Psa 106:38; God says, "they defiled My land" Jer 2:7; Jer 3:9; Jer 16:18; Ezekiel called her eminently, "the land that is not cleansed" Eze 22:24. Now God said, "I will remove the iniquity of the land" Zac 3:9, and she was again a holy land, as hallowed by Him.
It is not a mere conversion of the pagan, But, as Isaiah Isa 2:3 and Micah Mic 4:2 foretold; a conversion, of which Jerusalem should be the center, as our Lord explained to the Apostles after His Resurrection, "that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem" Luk 24:47.
Be silent - Literally, "hush all flesh, before the Lord" (see at Hab 2:20, p. 207); man in his weakness Gen 6:3; Ch2 32:8; Job 10:4; Psa 56:4; Psa 78:39; Isa 31:3; Jer 17:5, "flesh and blood" in the language of the New Testament Mat 16:17; Co1 15:50; Gal 1:16, before God his Maker. "All flesh," the whole human race Gen 6:12; Psa 65:3; Psa 145:21; Isa 40:5-6; Isa 49:26; Isa 66:23; Joe 3:1; Eze 21:4, Eze 21:9-10, is to be hushed before God, because His judgments, as His mercies, are over all.
For God ariseth - God seemeth to be quiescent, as it were, when He bears with us; to arise, when He puts forth His power, either for us, when we pray, "Lord, awake to help me" (Psa 59:4, add Psa 7:7; Psa 44:24); or in displeasure. His "holy habitation" is alike the tabernacle Sa1 2:29, Sa1 2:32; Psa 26:9; Psa 68:6, temple Ch2 36:15, heaven Deu 26:15; Jer 25:30; Ch2 30:27, since His presence is in all.