Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
While the Jews were rebuilding their temple, their adversaries endeavored to stop the work, Ezra 5. This vision is therefore calculated to give them the strongest encouragement that God, after plucking them as brands out of the fire (or captivity of Babylon), would not now give them up, but would continue to prosper and favor them; and that notwithstanding the interruptions they should meet with, the work should be finished under the gracious superintendence of Providence; and their high priest, clothed in his pontifical robes, would soon officiate in the holy of holies, Zac 3:1-7. The subject is then, by an easy transition, applied to a much greater future deliverance and restoration, of which Joshua and his companions, delivered now, are declared to be figures or types; for that the Messiah or Branch, the great high priest typified by Joshua, would be manifested; and, like the principal stone represented in the vision, become the chief corner stone of his Church; that the all-seeing eye of God would constantly guard it; and that by his atonement he would procure for it peace and pardon, Zac 3:8-10.
And he showed me Joshua the high priest - The Angel of the Lord is the Messiah, as we have seen before; Joshua, the high priest, may here represent the whole Jewish people; and Satan, the grand accuser of the brethren. What the subject of dispute was, we perhaps learn from Jde 1:9. Michael and Satan disputed about the body of Moses. This could not refer to the natural body of the Jewish lawgiver, which had been dead about owe thousand years; it must therefore refer to that body of laws given to the Jews by Moses, for the breach of which Satan, who was their tempter to disobedience, now comes forward as their accuser; that, exciting the justice of God against them, they may be all brought to perdition. There is a paronomasia here: -
Satan standing at his right hand to resist him - שטן Satan signifies an adversary. לשטנו lesiteno, to be his adversary, or accuser.
Is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? - The Jews were nearly destroyed because of their sins; a remnant of them is yet left, and God is determined to preserve them. He has had mercy upon them, and forgiven them their sins. Wouldst thou have them destroyed? It is God that hath justified them; who art thou that condemnest them? The Lord rebuke thee! God confound thee for what thou hast done, and for what thou desirest farther to do! It is evident that Jde 1:9 relates to this circumstance - the very same phraseology which occurs here. See the notes on Jde 1:9, where the subject is largely considered. With difficulty has this remnant escaped, and God will not permit fresh evils to fall upon them, by which they might be totally consumed. This was Satan's design, who accuses the followers of God day and night. See Rev 12:10.
Joshua was clothed with filthy garments - The Jewish people were in a most forlorn, destitute, and to all human appearance despicable, condition; and besides all, they were sinful, and the priesthood defiled by idolatry; and nothing but the mercy of God could save them.
Take away the filthy garments - The Jews wore sackcloth in times of public calamity; probably the filthy garments refer to this. Let their clothing be changed. I have turned again their captivity; I will fully restore them, and blot out all their iniquities.
A fair mitre upon his head - To signify that he had renewed to him the office of the high priesthood, which had been defiled and profaned before. The mitre was the bonnet which the high priest put on his head when he entered into the sanctuary, Exo 28:4, etc.
Clothed him with garments - Referring to the vestments of the high priest. The true high priest, who is over the house of God, will establish his office among them, when they shall acknowledge him as their Messiah, and seek redemption in the blood of the sacrifice which he has offered for their sins; and not for theirs only, but for the sins of the whole world.
If thou wilt walk in my ways - If ye, Israelites, priests and people, now restored to your own land, will walk in my ways, etc., ye shall be a part of my family; and have places - mansions - in eternal glory, with all them that are sanctified.
O Joshua - thou, and thy fellows - Thy countrymen, who have now returned from your captivity, in a very wonderful manner. אנשי מופת anshey mopheth, figurative men, men whose office and ministration prefigured the Lord Jesus Christ; and therefore it is immediately added, "I will bring forth my servant The Branch." Abp. Newcome thinks this means Zerubbabel, so called because he was the grandson of Jehoiakim, or Jeconiah, king of Judah, Mat 1:12, and heir to the throne of Judah. The Chaldee has, "My servant the Messiah." See the note on Isa 4:2 (note). I think the word cannot apply to Zerubbabel, except as a type of Christ; in that sense it may be understood of him. See Zac 6:11, Zac 6:12.
For behold the stone that I have laid - Alluding no doubt to the foundation stone of the temple: but this represented Christ Jesus: "Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a Stone, a tried stone, a precious Corner Stone, a Sure Foundation," Isa 28:16. This means Christ, and none other; on him his whole Church rests, as a building does on its foundation.
Upon one stone shall be seven eyes - This is supposed to mean the providence of God, as under it all the work should be completed.
There may be an allusion to the seven counsellors, which stood always about the persons of the Asiatics sovereigns; and those who were the governors of provinces were termed the eyes of the king. To this there is an allusion in Rev 1:4. In Christ there is a plentitude of wisdom, power, goodness, mercy, truth, love, and compassion, to direct, protect, save, uphold, purify, govern, and preserve all the souls that trust in him.
I will engrave the graving thereof - This is an allusion to engraving precious stones, in which the ancients greatly excelled. Heads, animals, and various devices were the subjects of those engravings. But what was this engraving? Was it not the following words? I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day;" and was not this when Jesus Christ expired upon the cross? This was the grand, the only atonement, satisfaction, and sacrifice for the sins of the whole world. Does not our Lord refer to this place, Joh 6:27 (note)? Him hath God thy Father sealed; and on the inscription there was, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." See the note on the above passage.
Shall ye call every man his neighbour - See on Isa 36:16 (note). Every one shall be inviting and encouraging another to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ; and thus taste and see that God is good. See on Isa 2:2 (note), Isa 2:3 (note). And there shall be the utmost liberty to preach, believe on, and profess the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ.