Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
The commencement of this chapter relates to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and to the calamities consequent on that event. From this great Jewish tragedy the prophet immediately passes to the utter extermination of the enemies of Christianity in the latter days. God will display his power in behalf of his people in a manner so astonishing and miraculous, that even they themselves, and much more their enemies, shall be struck with terror, Zac 14:4, Zac 14:5. The national prosperity of the Jews shall then be permanent and unmixed, Zac 14:6, Zac 14:7; and these people shall be made the instruments of converting many to the faith of the Messiah, Zac 14:8, Zac 14:9. The great increase and prosperity of the Christian Church, the New Jerusalem, is then described in terms accommodated to Jewish ideas; and the most signal vengeance denounced against all her enemies, Zac 14:10-19. From that happy period God's name will be honored in every thing, and his worship every where most reverently observe, Zac 14:20, Zac 14:21.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh - This appears to be a prediction of that war in which Jerusalem was finally destroyed, and the Jews scattered all over the face of the earth; and of the effects produced by it.
I will gather all nations - The Romans, whose armies were composed of all the nations of the world. In this verse there is a pitiful account given of the horrible outrages which should be committed during the siege of Jerusalem, and at its capture.
The residue of the people shad not be cut off - Many were preserved for slaves, and for exhibition in the provincial theatres.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations - Against the Romans, by means of the northern nations; who shall destroy the whole empire of this once mistress of the world. But this is an obscure place.
And his feet shall stand - He shall appear in full possession of the place, as a mighty conqueror.
And the mount of Olives shall cleave - God shall display his miraculous power as fully in the final restoration of the Jews, as he did when he divided the Red Sea that their forefathers might pass through dry-shod. Some refer this to the destruction of the city by the Romans. It was on the mount of Olives that Titus posted his army to batter Jerusalem. Here the tenth legion that came to him from Jericho was placed. Joseph. De Bello, lib. 6 c. 3. It was from this mountain that our Lord beheld Jerusalem, and predicted its future destruction, Luk 19:41, with Mat 24:23; and it was from this mountain that he ascended to heaven, (Act 1:12), utterly leaving an ungrateful and condemned city.
And half of the mountain shall remove - I really think that these words refer to the lines of circumvallation, to intrenchments, redoubts, etc., which the Romans made while carrying on the siege of this city; and particularly the lines or trenches which the army made on Mount Olivet itself.
Ye shall flee to the valley - Some think this refers to the valley through which Zedekiah and others endeavored to escape when Nebuchadnezzar pressed the siege of Jerusalem: but it appears to speak only of the Jewish wars of the Romans.
Azal - This, as a place, is not known. If a place, it was most probably near to Jerusalem; and had its name from that circumstance.
The light shall not be clear, nor dark - Metaphorically, there will be a mixture of justice and mercy in all this; or a bright light and darkness. Mercy shall triumph over judgment. There shall be darkness - distress, etc.; but there shall be more light - joy and prosperity - than darkness.
At evening time it shall be light - At the close of this awful visitation, there shall be light. The light of the glorious Gospel shall go forth from Jerusalem; and next, from the Roman empire to every part of the earth.
Living waters shall go out - There shall be a wide diffusion of Divine knowledge, and of the plan of human salvation, which shall go out by apostles and preachers, first from Jerusalem, then to Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, the isles of the sea, Britain, etc.
The former sea, and - the hinder sea - The Dead Sea and the Mediterranean; see on Joe 2:20 (note). These are metaphors.
In summer - In time of drought; or in the countries where there was no knowledge of God, there shall these waters flow. The stream shall never cease; it shall run in summer as well as winter. These are living waters - perennial, incessant, and waters that shall preserve life. See Joh 7:37.
And the Lord shall be King - When this universal diffusion of Divine knowledge shall take place. Wherever it goes, the laws of God shall be acknowledged; and, consequently, he shall be King over the whole earth.
One Lord, and his name one - There shall be in those blessed days, only one religion, and one form of religion. There shall not be gods many, and lords many. All mankind shall be of one religion, the essence of which is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy Neighbor as thyself."
All the land shall be turned as a plain - Or rather, "He shall encompass the whole land as a plain." He shall cast his defence all around it; from Geba, in Benjamin, north of Jerusalem, (Jos 21:17), to Rimmon in Judah, to the south of Jerusalem, Jos 15:32.
It shall be lifted up - The city shall be exalted.
And inhabited in her place - Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt In the very place in which it originally stood. From Benjamin's gate, which was probably on the north side of Jerusalem, unto the place of the first gate, supposed to be that called the old gate, Neh 3:6; Neh 12:39, placed by Lightfoot towards the southwest.
Unto the corner gate - See Kg2 14:13.
The tower of Hananeel - This tower and the corner gate seem to be placed as two extremities of the city.
Unto the king's wine-presses - Near to the king's gardens, southward. - See Newcome.
There shall be no more utter destruction - After this final restoration of Jerusalem it shall never more be destroyed; but as this was the first city of the living God upon earth, so shall it be the last; it shall be safely inhabited. It shall see war no more.
And this shall be the plague - All her enemies shall be destroyed.
Their flesh shall consume away - These are the effects of famine which are described in this verse.
A great tumult from the Lord - Among those enemies of his Church, who shall engage and destroy each other.
And Judah also shall fight - They shall have little else to do than take the spoil, the wealth of all the heathen round about; gold, silver, and apparel.
So shall be the plague of the horse, and the mule - There shall be plagues on the substance of the enemies of the Church, as there were on the cattle and goods of the Egyptians.
Shall even go up from year to year - The Jews had three grand original festivals, which characterized different epochs in their history, viz.: -
1. The feast of the passover, in commemoration of their departure from Egypt.
2. The feast of pentecost, in commemoration of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai.
3. The feast of tabernacles, in commemoration of their wandering forty years in the wilderness.
This last feast is very properly brought in here to point out the final restoration of the Jews, and their establishment in the light and liberty of the Gospel of Christ, after their long wandering in vice and error.
Upon them shall be no rain - Those who do not worship God shall not have his blessing; and those who do not attend Divine ordinances cannot have the graces and blessings which God usually dispenses by them. On such slothful, idle Christians, there shall be no rain!
If the family of Egypt - This may allude to those Jews who, flying from the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, settled in Egypt, and built a temple at Heliopolis, under the direction of Onias, son of the high priest. Josephus Antiq. lib. xiii., c. 6, and War, lib. vii., c. 36. If these do not rejoin their brethren, they shall have no rain, no interest in the favor of God.
This shall be the punishment - of all nations that come not up - God will have his public worship established everywhere, and those who do not worship him shall lie under his curse.
Upon the bells of the horses - They appear, formerly, to have had bells on horses, camels, etc., as we have now, to amuse the animals, and encourage them in their work. In some very fine Asiatic paintings now before me, I see bells both on horses, mules, and camels; little bells tied to their legs, and larger ones about their necks, particularly in the representation of a caravan passing through the valley of serpents, in the island of Serendib, now Ceylon. The margin reads bridles.
Holiness Unto The Lord - As the Gospel is a holy system, preaching holiness and producing holiness in those who believe, so all without, as well as within, shall bear this impress; and even a man's labor shall be begun and continued, and ended in the Lord; yea, and the animals he uses, and the instruments he works with, shall be all consecrated to God through Christ.
The pots - "The meanest utensil in the house of God, Neh 10:29, shall be as the vessels of silver, and gold used in solemn sacrifice; they shall be like the bowls before the altar." - See Newcome.
Yea, every pot in Jerusalem - "The utensils of the Jews shall be treated as holy, and the worshippers shall use them reverently. The idea of preparing food in them (they that - seethe therein) is taken from the custom of feasting after sacrifice. And no trafficker (see Eze 18:4) shall pollute the house of God, as was the custom when our blessed Lord cleansed the temple." - See Newcome. This is what is called the Canaanite in the house of God. The Canaanite is the merchant; and where such are tolerated in a place dedicated to Divine worship, that is not the house of the Lord of hosts. In churches and chapels, collections may be made for the simple purpose of supporting and extending the worship of Jehovah; but for no other purpose, especially on the Lord's day. Amen.