Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
Whilst the second vision sets forth the destruction of the powers that were hostile to Israel, the third (Zac 2:1-5) with the prophetic explanation (Zac 2:6-13) shows the development of the people and kingdom of God till the time of its final glory. The vision itself appears very simple, only a few of the principal features being indicated; but in this very brevity it presents many difficulties so far as the exposition is concerned. It is as follows: Zac 2:1. "And I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold a man, and in his hand a measuring line. Zac 2:2. Then I said, Whither goest thou? And he said to me, To measure Jerusalem, to see how great its breadth, and how great its length. Zac 2:3. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went out, and another angel went out to meet him. Zac 2:4. And he said to him, Run, speak to his young man thus: Jerusalem shall lie as an open land for the multitude of men and cattle in the midst of it. Zac 2:5. And I shall be to it, is the saying of Jehovah, a fiery wall round about; and I shall be for glory in the midst of it." The man with the measuring line in his hand is not the interpreting angel (C. B. Mich., Ros., Maurer, etc.); for it was not his duty to place the events upon the stage, but simply to explain to the prophet the things which he saw. Moreover, this angel is clearly distinguished from the man, inasmuch as he does not go out (Zac 2:3) till after the latter has gone to measure Jerusalem (Zac 2:2). At the same time, we cannot regard the measuring man as merely "a figure in the vision," since all the persons occurring in these visions are significant; but we agree with those who conjecture that he is the angel of Jehovah, although this conjecture cannot be distinctly proved. The task which he is preparing to perform - namely, to measure Jerusalem - leads unquestionably to the conclusion that he is something more than a figure. The measuring of the breadth and length of Jerusalem presupposes that the city is already in existence; and this expression must not be identified with the phrase, to draw the measure over Jerusalem, in Zac 1:15. Drawing the measure over a place is done for the purpose of sketching a plan for its general arrangement or the rebuilding of it. But the length and breadth of a city can only be measured when it is already in existence; and the object of the measuring is not to see how long and how broad it is to be, but what the length and breadth actually are. It is true that it by no means follows from this that the city to be measured was the Jerusalem of that time; on the contrary, the vision shows the future Jerusalem, but it exhibits it as a city in actual existence, and visible to the spiritual eye. While the man goes away to measure the city, the interpreting angel goes out: not out of the myrtle thicket, for this only occurs in the first vision; but he goes away from the presence of the prophet, where we have to think of him as his interpreter, in the direction of the man with the measuring line, to find out what he is going to do, and bring back word to the prophet. At the very same time another angel comes out to meet him, viz., the angelus interpres, not the man with the measuring line. For one person can only come to meet another when the latter is going in the direction from which the former comes. Having come to meet him, he (the second angel) says to him (the angelus interpres), "Run, say to this young man," etc. The subject to ויּאמר can only be the second angel; for if, on grammatical grounds, the angelus interpres might be regarded as speaking to the young man, such an assumption is proved to be untenable, by the fact that it was no part of the office of the angelus interpres to give orders or commissions to another angel. On the other hand, there is nothing at all to preclude another angel from revealing a decree of God to the angelus interpres for him to communicate to the prophet; inasmuch as this does not bring the angelus interpres into action any further than his function requires, so that there is no ground for the objection that this is at variance with his standing elsewhere (Kliefoth). But the other angel could not give the instructions mentioned in Zac 1:4 to the angelus interpres, unless he were either himself a superior angel, viz., the angel of Jehovah, or had been directed to do so by the man with the measuring line, in which case this "man" would be the angel of Jehovah. Of these two possibilities we prefer the latter on two grounds: (1) because it is impossible to think of any reason why the "other angel" should not be simply called מלאך יהוה, if he really were the angel of the Lord; and (2) because, according to the analogy of Eze 40:3, the man with the measuring line most probably was the angel of Jehovah, with whose dignity it would be quite in keeping that he should explain his purpose to the angelus interpres through the medium of another (inferior) angel. And if this be established, so far as the brevity of the account will allow, we cannot understand by the "young man" the man with the measuring line, as Hitzig, Maurer, and Kliefoth do. The only way in which such an assumption as this could be rendered tenable or in harmony with the rest, would be by supposing that the design of the message was to tell the man with the measuring line that "he might desist from his useless enterprise" (Hitzig), as Jerusalem could not be measured at all, on account of the number of its inhabitants and its vast size (Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Ewald, Umbreit, etc.); but Kliefoth has very justly replied to this, that "if a city be ever so great, inasmuch as it is a city, it can always be measured, and also have walls."
If, then, the symbolical act of measuring, as Kliefoth also admits, expresses the question how large and how broad Jerusalem will eventually be, and if the words of Zac 2:4, Zac 2:5 contain the answer to this question, viz., Jerusalem will in the first place (Zac 2:4) contain such a multitude of men and cattle that it will dwell like perâzōth; this answer, which gives the meaning of the measuring, must be addressed not to the measuring man, but simply to the prophet, that he may announce to the people the future magnitude and glory of the city. The measuring man was able to satisfy himself of this by the measuring itself. We must therefore follow the majority of both the earlier and later expositors, and take the "young man" as being the prophet himself, who is so designated on account of his youthful age, and without any allusion whatever to "human inexperience and dim short-sightedness" (Hengstenberg), since such an allusion would be very remote from the context, and even old men of experience could not possibly know anything concerning the future glory of Jerusalem without a revelation from above. Hallâz, as in Jdg 6:20 and Kg2 4:25, is a contraction of hallâzeh, and formed from lâzeh, there, thither, and the article hal, in the sense of the (young man) there, or that young man (cf. Ewald, 103, a, and 183, b; Ges. 34, Anm. 1). He is to make haste and bring this message, because it is good news, the realization of which will soon commence. The message contains a double and most joyful promise. (1) Jerusalem will in future dwell, i.e., to be built, as perâzōth. This word means neither "without walls," nor loca aperta, but strictly speaking the plains, and is only used in the plural to denote the open, level ground, as contrasted with the fortified cities surrounded by walls: thus ‛ārē perâzōth, cities of the plain, in Est 9:19, as distinguished from the capital Susa; and 'erets perâzōth in Eze 38:11, the land where men dwell "without walls, bolts, and gates;" hence perâzı̄, inhabitant of the plain, in contrast with the inhabitants of fortified cities with high walls (Deu 3:5; Sa1 6:18). The thought is therefore the following: Jerusalem is in future to resemble an open country covered with unwalled cities and villages; it will no longer be a city closely encircled with walls; hence it will be extraordinarily enlarged, on account of the multitude of men and cattle with which it will be blessed (cf. Isa 49:19-20; Eze 38:11). Moreover, (2) Jerusalem will then have no protecting wall surrounding it, because it will enjoy a superior protection. Jehovah will be to it a wall of fire round about, that is to say, a defence of fire which will consume every one who ventures to attack it (cf. Isa 4:5; Deu 4:24). Jehovah will also be the glory in the midst of Jerusalem, that is to say, will fill the city with His glory (cf. Isa 60:19). This promise is explained in the following prophetic words which are uttered by the angel of Jehovah, as Zac 2:8, Zac 2:9, and Zac 2:11 clearly show. According to these verses, for example, the speaker is sent by Jehovah, and according to Zac 2:8 to the nations which have plundered Israel, "after glory," i.e., to smite these nations and make them servants to the Israelites. From this shall Israel learn that Jehovah has sent him. The fact that, according to Zac 2:3, Zac 2:4, another angel speaks to the prophet, may be easily reconciled with this. For since this angel, as we have seen above, was sent by the angel of Jehovah, he speaks according to his instructions, and that in such a manner that his words pass imperceptibly into the words of the sender, just as we very frequently find the words of a prophet passing suddenly into the words of God, and carried on as such. For the purpose of escaping from this simple conclusion, Koehler has forcibly broken up this continuous address, and has separated the words of Zac 2:8, Zac 2:9, and Zac 2:11, in which the angel says that Jehovah has sent him, from the words of Jehovah proclaimed by the angel, as being interpolations, but without succeeding in explaining them either simply or naturally.
The prophecy commences thus in Zac 2:6-9 : Zac 2:6. "Ho, ho, flee out of the land of the north, is the saying of Jehovah; for I spread you out as the four winds of heaven, is the saying of Jehovah. Zac 2:7. Ho, Zion, save thyself, thou that dwellest with the daughter Babel. Zac 2:8. For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, After glory hath he sent me to the nations that have plundered you; for whoever toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His eye. Zac 2:9. For, behold, I swing my hand over them, and they become a spoil to those who served them; and ye will see that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me." The summons to flee out of Babylon, in Zac 2:6 and Zac 2:7, is addressed to the Israelites, who are all included in the one name Zion in Zac 2:7; and shows that the address which follows is not a simple continuation of the promise in Zac 2:4 and Zac 2:5, but is intended both to explain it, and to assign the reason for it. The summons contains so far a reason for it, that the Israelites are directed to flee out of Babylon, because the judgment is about to burst upon this oppressor of the people of God. The words nūsū, flee, and himmâletı̄, save thyself or escape, both point to the judgment, and in Zac 2:9 the judgment itself is clearly spoken of. the land of the north is Babylon (cf. Jer 1:14; Jer 6:22; Jer 10:22; and for the fact itself, Isa 48:20). The reason for the exclamation "Flee" is first of all given in the clause, "for like the four winds have I spread you out," not "dispersed you" (Vulg., C. B. Mich., Koehler). For apart from the fact that pērēs almost always means to spread out, and has the meaning to disperse at the most in Psa 68:15 and Eze 17:21, this meaning is altogether unsuitable here. For if Israel had been scattered like the four winds, it would of necessity have been summoned to return, not only from the north, but from all quarters of the globe (Hitzig, Kliefoth). Moreover, we should then have לארבּע, into the four winds; and the method suggested by Koehler for reconciling כּארבּע with his view, viz., by assuming that "like the four winds" is equivalent to "as chaff is pounded and driven away from its place by the four winds," according to which the winds would be mentioned in the place of the chaff, will hardly meet with approval. The explanation is rather that the perfect pērastı̄ is used prophetically to denote the purpose of God, which had already been formed, even if its realization was still in the future. To spread out like the four winds is the same as to spread out just as the four winds spread out to all quarters of the globe. Because God has resolved upon spreading out His people in this manner, they are to flee out of Babel, that they may not suffer the fate of Babel. That this thought lies at the foundation of the motive assigned, is evident from the further reasons assigned for the summons in Zac 2:8 and Zac 2:9.
Zion stands for the inhabitants of Zion, namely the people of God, who are for the time being still yōshebheth bath Bâbel, dwelling with the daughter Babel. As Zion does not mean the city or fortress of Jerusalem, but the inhabitants, so the "daughter Babel" is not the city of Babylon or country of Babylonia personified, but the inhabitants of Babel; and ישׁב is construed with the accusative of the person, as in Psa 22:4 and Sa2 6:2. What Jehovah states in explanation of the twofold call to flee out of Babel, does not commence with Zac 2:9 (Ewald), or with כּי הנּגע in Zac 2:8 (Koehler), but with אחר כּבוד וגו. The incorrectness of the two former explanations is seen first of all in the fact that כּי only introduces a speech in the same manner as ὅτι, when it follows directly upon the introductory formula; but not, as is here assumed, when a long parenthesis is inserted between, without the introduction being resumed by לאמר. And secondly, neither of these explanations furnishes a suitable meaning. If the words of God only followed in Zac 2:9, עליהם in the first clause would be left without any noun to which to refer; and if they commenced with כּי הנּגע (for he that toucheth), the thought "he that toucheth you," etc., would assign no reason for the call to flee and save themselves. For if Israel is defended or valued by God as a pupil of the eye, there can be no necessity for it to flee. And lastly, it is impossible to see what can be the meaning or object of the parenthesis, "After glory hath He sent me," etc. If it treated "of the execution of the threat of punishment upon the heathen" (Koehler), it would be inserted in an unsuitable place, since the threat of punishment would not follow till afterwards. All these difficulties vanish if Jehovah's words commence with 'achar kâbhōd (after glory), in which case shelâchanı̄ (He hath sent me) may be very simply explained from the fact that the address is introduced, not in a direct form, but indirectly: Jehovah says, He has sent me after glory. The sender is Jehovah, and the person sent is not the prophet, but the angel of the Lord. Achar kâbhōd: behind glory, after glory; not however "after the glory of success" (Hitzig, Ewald, etc.), still less "with a glorious commission," but to get glory upon the heathen, i.e., to display the glory of God upon the heathen through the judgment by which their power is broken, and the heathen world is made to serve the people of God. The manner in which the next two clauses, commencing with kı̄ (for), are attached, is the following: The first assigns the subjective motive; that is to say, states the reason why God has sent him to the heathen, namely, because they have plundered His people, and have thereby touched the apple of His eye. בּבת עין, the apple of the eye (lit., the gate, the opening in which the eye is placed, or more probably the pupil of the eye, pupilla, as being the object most carefully preserved), is a figure used to denote the dearest possession or good, and in this sense is applied to the nation of Israel as early as Deu 32:10. The second explanatory clause in Zac 2:9 adds the practical ground for this sending after glory. The speaker is still the angel of the Lord; and his acting is identical with the acting of God. Like Jehovah, he swings his hand over the heathen nations which plundered Israel (cf. Isa 11:15; Isa 19:16), and they become (והיוּ expressing the consequence), i.e., so that they become, booty to the Israelites, who had previously been obliged to serve them (cf. Isa 14:2). In what way the heathen would serve Israel is stated in Zac 2:11. By the execution of this judgment Israel would learn that Jehovah had sent His angel, namely to execute upon the heathen His saving purposes for Israel. This is the meaning of these words, not only here and in Zac 2:11, but also in Zac 4:9 and Zac 6:15, where this formula is repeated, not however in the sense imagined by Koehler, namely that he had spoken these words in consequence of a command from Jehovah, and not of his own accord, by which the "sending" is changed into "speaking."
The daughter Zion is to rejoice at this sending of the angel of the Lord. Zac 2:10. "Exult and rejoice, O daughter Zion: for, behold, I come, and dwell in the midst of thee, is the saying of Jehovah. Zac 2:11. And many nations will attach themselves to Jehovah in that day, and become a people to me: and I dwell in the midst of thee; and thou wilt know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me to thee." The daughter Zion, or the church of the Lord, delivered out of Babel, is to rejoice with joy, because her glorification is commencing now. The Lord comes to her in His angel, in whom are His name (Exo 23:21), and His face (Exo 33:14), i.e., the angel of His face (Isa 63:9), who reveals His nature, to dwell in the midst of her. This dwelling of Jehovah, or of His angel, in the midst of Zion, is essentially different from the dwelling of Jehovah in the Most Holy Place of His temple. It commences with the coming of the Son of God in the flesh, and is completed by His return in glory (Joh 1:14 and Rev 21:3). Then will many, or powerful, nations, attach themselves to Jehovah, and become His people (cf. Zac 8:20-21; Isa 14:1). This kingdom of God, which has hitherto been restricted to Israel, will be spread out and glorified by the reception of the heathen nations which are seeking God (Mic 4:2). The repetition of the expression, "I dwell in the midst of thee," merely serves as a stronger asseveration of this brilliant promise; and the same remark applies to the repetition of וידעתּ וגו (and thou shalt now): see at Zac 2:13. Jerusalem will thereby receive the expansion shown to the prophet in Zac 2:4; and through the dwelling of God in the midst of her, the promise in Zac 2:5 will also be fulfilled. The next verse refers to this.
"And Jehovah will take possession of Judah as His portion in the holy land, and will yet choose Jerusalem. Zac 2:13. Be still, all flesh, before Jehovah; for He has risen up out of His holy habitation." The first hemistich of Zac 2:12 rests upon Deu 32:9, where Israel, as the chosen nation, is called the chēleq and nachălâh of Jehovah. This appointment of Israel to be the possession of Jehovah will become perfect truth and reality in the future, through the coming of the Lord. Yehūdâh is Judah as delivered, i.e., the remnant of the whole of the covenant nation. This remnant, after being gathered out of Babel, will dwell upon holy ground, or in a holy land, as the possession of the Lord. The holy land is the land of Jehovah (Hos 9:3); but this is not to be set down without reserve as identical with Palestine. On the contrary, every place where Jehovah may be is holy ground (cf. Exo 3:5); so that even Palestine is only holy when the Lord dwells there. And we must not limit the idea of the holy land in this passage to Palestine, because the idea of the people of God will be so expanded by the addition of nation nations, that it will not have room enough within the limits of Palestine; and according to Deu 32:4, even Jerusalem will no longer be a city with limited boundaries. The holy land reaches just as far as the nations, which have become the people of Jehovah by attaching themselves to Judah, spread themselves out over the surface of the earth. The words "choose Jerusalem again" round off the promise, just as in Zac 1:17; but in Zac 2:13 the admonition is added, to wait in reverential silence for the coming of the Lord to judgment, after Hab 2:20; and the reason assigned is, that the judgment will soon begin. נעור, niphal of עוּר (compare Ewald, 140, a; Ges. 72, Anm. 9), to wake up, or rise up from His rest (cf. Psa 44:24). מעון קדשׁו, the holy habitation of God, is heaven, as in Deu 26:15; Jer 25:30. The judgment upon the heathen world-power began to burst in a very short time. When Babylon revolted against the king of Persia, under the reign of Darius, a great massacre took place within the city after its re-capture, and its walls were destroyed, so that the city could not rise again to its ancient grandeur and importance. Compare with this the remark made in the comm. on Haggai, concerning the overthrow of the Persian empire and those which followed it. We have already shown, what a groundless hypothesis the opinion is, that the fulfilment was interrupted in consequence of Israel's guilt; and that as the result of this, the completion of it has been deferred for centuries, or even thousands of years.