Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
III. Future of the World-Powers, and of the Kingdom of God - Zechariah 9-14
The two longer prophecies, which fill up the last part of our book (ch. 9-11 and 12-14), show by their headings, as well as by their contents, and even by their formal arrangement, that they are two corresponding portions of a greater whole. In the headings, the fact that they have both the common character of a threatening prophecy or proclamation of judgment, is indicated by the application of the same epithet, Massâ' debhar Yehōvâh (burden of the word of Jehovah), whilst the objects, "land of Hadrach" (Zac 9:1) and "Israel' (Zac 12:1), point to a contrast, or rather to a conflict between the lands of Hadrach and Israel. This contrast or conflict extends through the contents of both. All the six chapters treat of the war between the heathen world and Israel, though in different ways. In the first oracle (ch. 9-11), the judgment, through which the power of the heathen world over Israel is destroyed and Israel is endowed with strength to overcome all its enemies, forms the fundamental thought and centre of gravity of the prophetic description. In the second (ch. 12-14), the judgment through which Israel, or Jerusalem and Judah, is sifted in the war with the heathen nations, and translated into the holy nation of the Lord by the extermination of its spurious members, is the leading topic. And lastly, in a formal respect the two oracles resemble one another, in the fact that in the centre of each the announcement suddenly takes a different tone, without any external preparation (Zac 11:1 and Zac 13:7), so that it is apparently the commencement of a new prophecy; and it is only by a deeper research into the actual fact, that the connection between the two is brought out, and the relation between the two clearly seen, - namely, that the second section contains a more minute description of the manner in which the events announced in the first section are to be realized. In the threatening word concerning the land of Hadrach, ch. 9 and Zac 10:1-12 form the first section, ch. 11 the second; in that concerning Israel, the first section extends from Zac 12:1 to Zac 13:6, and the second from Zac 13:7 to the end of the book.
Fall of the Heathen World, and Deliverance and Glorification of Zion - Zechariah 9 and Zac 10:1-12
Whilst the judgment falls upon the land of Hadrach, upon Damascus and Hamath, and upon Phoenicia and Philistia, so that these kingdoms are overthrown and the cities laid waste and the remnant of their inhabitants incorporated into the nation of God (Zac 9:1-7), Jehovah will protect His people, and cause His King to enter Zion, who will establish a kingdom of peace over the whole earth (Zac 9:8-10). Those members of the covenant nation who are still in captivity are redeemed, and endowed with victory over the sons of Javan (Zac 9:11-17), and richly blessed by the Lord their God to overcome all enemies in His strength (Zac 10:1-12). The unity of the two chapters, which form the first half of this oracle, is evident from the close substantial connection between the separate sections. The transitions from one complex of thought to the other are so vanishing, that it is a matter of dispute, in the case of Zac 10:1, Zac 10:2, for example, whether these verses should be connected with ch. 9, or retained in connection with Zac 10:4.
Judgment upon the Land of Hadrach; and Zion's King of Peace. - Zac 9:1. The true interpretation of this section, and, in fact, of the whole prophecy, depends upon the explanation to be given to the heading contained in this verse. The whole verse reads thus: "Burden of the word of Jehovah over the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its resting-place; for Jehovah has an eye upon the men, and upon all the tribes of Israel." There is a wide divergence of opinion concerning the land of חדרך. We need not stop to give any elaborate refutation to the opinion that Hadrach is the name of the Messiah (as some Rabbins suppose), or that it is the name of an unknown Syrian king (Ges., Bleek), or of an Assyrian fire-god, Adar or Asar (Movers), or of a deity of Eastern Aramaea (Babylonia), as Hitzig maintained, since there is no trace whatever of the existence of such a king or deity; and even Hitzig himself has relinquished his own conjecture. And the view defended by J. D. Mich. and Rosenmller, that Hadrach is the name of an ancient city, situated not far from Damascus, is destitute of any tenable basis, since Hengstenberg (Christol. iii. p. 372, transl.) has proved that the historical testimonies adduced in support of this rest upon some confusion with the ancient Arabian city of Dra, Adra, the biblical Edrei (Deu 1:4). As the name Hadrach or Chadrach never occurs again, and yet a city which gives its name to a land, and occurs in connection with Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon, could not possibly have vanished so completely, that even the earlier Jewish and Christian commentators heard nothing of it, Chadrach can only be a symbolical name formed by the prophet himself (as Jerome maintained, according to a Jewish tradition), from chad, acris, sharp, brave, ready for war (in Arabic, ḥdd, vehemens fuit, durus in ira, pugna), and râkh, soft, tender, in the sense of sharp-soft, or strong-tender, after the analogy of the symbolical names. Dumah for Edom, in Isa 21:11; Sheshach for Babylon, in Jer 25:26; Jer 51:41; Ariel for Jerusalem, in Isa 29:1-2, Isa 29:7. This view can no more be upset by the objection of Koehler, that the interpretation of the name is a disputed point among the commentators, and that it is doubtful why the prophet should have chosen such a symbolical epithet, than by the circumstance that the rabbinical interpretation of the word as a name for the Messiah is evidently false, and has long ago been given up by the Christian commentators. That Hadrach denotes a land or kingdom, is raised above all reach of doubt by the fact that 'erets (the land) is placed before it. But what land? The statement in the following sentence by no means compels us to think of a province of Syria, as Hitzig, Koehler, and others suppose. As the cities and lands which follow are quoted under their ordinary names, it is impossible to imagine any reason for the choice of a symbolical name for another district of Syria bordering upon Damascus and Hamath. The symbolical name rather points to the fact that the land of Hadrach denotes a territory, of which Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Sidon, and Philistia formed the several parts. And this is favoured by the circumstance that the words, "Burden of the word of Jehovah upon the land of Hadrach," form the heading to the oracle, in which the preposition ב is used as in the expression משּׂא בּערב in Isa 21:13, and is to be explained from the phrase נפל דּבר ב in Isa 9:7 : The burdensome word falls, descends upon the land of Hadrach. The remark of Koehler in opposition to this, to the effect that these words are not a heading, but form the commencement of the exposition of the word of Jehovah through the prophet, inasmuch as the following clause is appended with ו, is quite groundless. The clause in Isa 14:28, "In the year that king Ahaz died was this burden," is also a heading; and the assertion that the ו before דּמּשׂק is not a ו explic., but an actual ו conjunct., rests upon the assumption that the cities and lands mentioned in the course of this prophecy have not already been all embraced by the expression ארץ חדרך - an assumption which has not been sustained by any proofs. On the contrary, the fact that not only is Damascus mentioned as the resting-place of the word of Jehovah, but Hamath and also the capitals of Phoenicia and Philistia are appended, proves the very opposite. This evidently implies that the burden resting upon the land of Hadrach will affect all these cities and lands.
The exposition of the burden announced upon the land of Hadrach commences with ודמּשׂק. This is attached to the heading with Vav, because, so far as the sense is concerned, massâ' is equivalent to "it presses as a burden." The exposition, however, is restricted, so far as Damascus and Hamath are concerned, to the simple remark that the burdensome word upon Hadrach will rest upon it, i.e., will settle permanently upon it. (The suffix in מנחתו refers to משּׂא דבר יי.) It is only with the lands which stood in a closer relation to Judah, viz., Tyre, Sidon, and the provinces of Philistia, that it assumes the form of a specially prophetic description. The contents of the heading are sustained by the thought in the second hemistich: "Jehovah has an eye upon men, and upon all the tribes of Israel." עין אדם with the genit. obj. signifies the rest of mankind, i.e., the heathen world, as in Jer 32:20, where "Israel" and "men" are opposed to one another. The explanatory clause, according to which the burden of Jehovah falls upon the land of Hadrach, and rests upon Damascus, because the eyes of Jehovah looks upon mankind and all the tribes of Israel, i.e., His providence stretches over the heathen world as well as over Israel, is quite sufficient in itself to overthrow the assumption of Hofmann and Koehler, that by the land of Hadrach we are to understand the land of Israel. For if the explanatory clause were understood as signifying that the burden, i.e., the judgment, would not only fall upon Hamath as the representative of the human race outside the limits of Israel, but also upon the land of Hadrach as the land of all the tribes of Israel, this view would be precluded not only by the circumstance that in what follows heathen nations alone are mentioned as the objects of the judgment, whereas salvation and peace are proclaimed to Israel, but also by the fact that no ground whatever can be discovered for the application of so mysterious an epithet to the land of Israel. According to Hofmann (Schriftb. ii. 2, p. 604), ארץ חדרך signifies the whole of the territory of the kingdom of David, which is so called as "the land of Israel, which, though weak in itself, was, through the strength of God, as sharp as a warrior's sword." But if a judgment of destruction, which Hofmann finds in our prophecy, were announced "to all the nations dwelling within the bounds of what was once the Davidic kingdom," the judgment would fall upon Israel in the same way as upon the heathen nations that are named, since the tribes of Israel formed the kernel of the nations who dwelt in what was once the Davidic kingdom, and Israel would therefore show itself as a sharp-soft people. Hence Koehler has modified this view, and supposes that only the heathen dwelling within the limits of the nation of the twelve tribes are threatened with Jehovah's judgment, - namely, all the heathen within the land which Jehovah promised to His people on their taking possession of Canaan (Num 34:1-12). But apart from the unfounded assumption that Hadrach is the name of a district of Syria on the border of Damascus and Hamath, this loophole is closed by the fact that, according to Num 34:1., Hamath and Damascus are not included in the possession promised to Israel. According to Num 34:8, the northern boundary of the land of Israel was to extend to Hamath, i.e., to the territory of the kingdom of Hamath, and Damascus is very far beyond the eastern boundary of the territory assigned to the Israelites (see the exposition of Num 34:1-12). Now, if the land of Hadrach, Damascus, and Hamath were not within the ideal boundaries of Israel, and if Hamath and Hadrach did not belong to the Israelitish kingdom in the time of David, the other lands or cities mentioned in our oracle cannot be threatened with the judgment on account of their lying within the Mosaic boundaries of the land of Israel, or being subject to the Israelites for a time, but can only come into consideration as enemies of Israel whose might was to be threatened and destroyed by the judgment. Consequently the land of Hadrach must denote a land hostile to the covenant nation or the kingdom of God, and can only be a symbolical epithet descriptive of the Medo-Persian empire, which is called sharp-soft or strong-weak on account of its inwardly divided character, as Hengstenberg and Kliefoth assume. Now, however difficult it may be satisfactorily to explain the reason why Zechariah chose this symbolical name for the Medo-Persian monarchy, so much is certain, that the choice of a figurative name was much more suitable in the case of the dominant empire of that time, than in that of any small country on the border of Damascus or Hamath. All the cities and land enumerated after "the land of Hadrach," as losing their glory at the same time, belonged to the Medo-Persian monarchy. Of these the prophet simply refers to Damascus and Hamath in general terms; and it is only in the case of the Phoenician and Philistian cities that he proceeds to a special description of their fall from their lofty eminence, because they stood nearest to the kingdom of Israel, and represented the might of the kingdom of the world, and its hostility to the kingdom of God, partly in the worldly development of their own might, and partly in their hostility to the covenant nation. The description is an individualizing one throughout, exemplifying general facts by particular cities. This is also evident from the announcement of salvation for Zion in Zac 9:8-10, from which we may see that the overthrow of the nations hostile to Israel stands in intimate connection with the establishment of the Messianic kingdom; and it is also confirmed by the second half of our chapter, where the conquest of the imperial power by the people of God is set forth in the victories of Judah and Ephraim over the sons of Javan. That the several peoples and cities mentioned by name are simply introduced as representatives of the imperial power, is evident from the distinction made in this verse between (the rest of) mankind and all the tribes of Israel.
Zac 9:2. "And Hamath also, which borders thereon; Tyre and Sidon, because it is very wise. Zac 9:3. And Tyre built herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver like dust, and gold like dirt of the streets. Zac 9:4. Behold, the Lord will cause it to be taken, and smite its might in the sea, and she will be consumed by fire." Chămâth is appended to Damascus by vegam (and also). Tigbol-bâh is to be taken as a relative clause; and bâh refers to chămâth, and not to 'erets chadrâkh (the land of Hadrach). "Hamath also," i.e., Ἐπιφάνεια on the Orontes, the present Hamah (see at Gen 10:18), which borders on Damascus, i.e., which has its territory touching the territory of Damascus, sc. will be a resting-place of the burden of Jehovah. The relative clause connects Hamath with Damascus, and separates it from the names which follow. Damascus and Hamath represent Syria. Tyre and Sidon, the two capitals of Phoenicia, are connected again into a pair by the explanatory clause כּי חכמה מאד. For although חכמה is in the singular, it cannot be taken as referring to Sidon only, because Tyre is mentioned again in the very next verse as the subject, and the practical display of its wisdom is described. The singular חכמה cannot be taken distributively in this sense, that being wise applies in just the same manner to both the cities (Koehler); for the cases quoted by Gesenius (146, 4) are of a totally different kind, since there the subject is in the plural, and is construed with a singular verb; but צידון is subordinate to צר, "Tyre with Sidon," Sidon being regarded as an annex of Tyre, answering to the historical relation in which the two cities stood to one another, - namely, that Tyre was indeed originally a colony of Sidon, but that it very soon overshadowed the mother city, and rose to be the capital of all Phoenicia (see the comm. on Isaiah 23), so that even in Isaiah and Ezekiel the prophecies concerning Sidon are attached to those concerning Tyre, and its fate appears interwoven with that of Tyre (cf. Isa 23:4, Isa 23:12; Eze 28:21.). Hence we find Tyre only spoken of here in Zac 9:3, Zac 9:4. This city showed its wisdom in the fact that it built itself a fortress, and heaped up silver and gold like dust and dirt of the streets. Zechariah has here in his mind the insular Tyre, which was built about three or four stadia from the mainland, and thirty stadia to the north of Palae-tyrus, and which is called מעוז היּם in Isa 23:4, because, although very small in extent, it was surrounded by a wall a hundred and fifty feet high, and was so strong a fortification, that Shalmaneser besieged it for five years without success, and Nebuchadnezzar for thirteen years, and apparently was unable to conquer it (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, at Isa 23:18). This fortification is called mâtsōr. Here Tyre had heaped up immense treasures. Chârūts is shining gold (Psa 68:14, etc.). but the wisdom through which Tyre had acquired such might and such riches (cf. Eze 28:4-5) would be of no help to it. For it was the wisdom of this world (Co1 1:20), which ascribes to itself the glory due to God, and only nourishes the pride out of which it sprang. The Lord will take the city. Hōrı̄sh does not mean to drive from its possession - namely, the population (Hitzig) - for the next two clauses show that it is not the population of Tyre, but the city itself, which is thought of as the object; nor does it mean to "give as a possession" - namely, their treasures (Calv., Hengst., etc.) - but simply to take possession, to take, to conquer, as in Jos 8:7; Jos 17:12; Num 14:24 (Maurer, Koehler). And will smite in the sea חילהּ, not "her bulwarks:" for חיל, when used of fortifications, neither denotes the city wall nor earthworks, but the moat, including the small outer wall (Sa2 20:15) as distinguished from the true city wall (chōmâh, Isa 26:1; Lam 2:8), and this does not apply to the insular Tyre; moreover, חיל cannot be taken here in any other sense than in Eze 28:4-5, which Zechariah follows. There it denotes the might which Tyre had acquired through its wisdom, not merely warlike or military power (Koehler), but might consisting in its strong situation and artificial fortification, as well as in the wealth of its resources for defence. This will be smitten in the sea, because Tyre itself stood in the sea. And finally, the city will be destroyed by fire.
Zac 9:5. "Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza, and tremble greatly; and Ekron, for her hope has been put to shame; and the king will perish out of Gaza, and Ashkelon will not dwell. Zac 9:6. The bastard will dwell in Ashdod; and I shall destroy the pride of the Philistines. Zac 9:7. And I shall take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth; and he will also remain to our God, and will be as a tribe-prince in Judah, and Ekron like the Jebusite." From the Phoenicians the threat turns against the Philistines. The fall of the mighty Tyre shall fill the Philistian cities with fear and trembling, because all hope of deliverance from the threatening destruction is thereby taken away (cf. Isa 23:5). תּרא is jussive. The effect, which the fall of Tyre will produce upon the Philistian cities, is thus set forth as intended by God. The description is an individualizing one in this instance also. The several features in this effect are so distributed among the different cities, that what is said of each applies to all. They will not only tremble with fear, but will also lose their kingship, and be laid waste. Only four of the Philistian capitals are mentioned, Gath being passed over, as in Amo 1:6, Amo 1:8; Zep 2:4, and Jer 25:20; and they occur in the same order as in Jeremiah, whose prophecy Zechariah had before his mind. To ועזּה we must supply תּרא from the parallel clause; and to עקרון not only תּרא, but also ותירא. The reason for the fear is first mentioned in connection with Ekron, - namely, the fact that the hope is put to shame. הובישׁ is the hiphil of בּושׁ (Ewald, 122, e), in the ordinary sense of this hiphil, to be put to shame. מבּט with seghol stands for מבּט (Ewald, 88, d, and 160, d), the object of hope or confidence. Gaza loses its king. Melekh without the article is the king as such, not the particular king reigning at the time of the judgment; and the meaning is, "Gaza will henceforth have no king," i.e., will utterly perish, answering to the assertion concerning Ashkelon: לא תשׁב, she will not dwell, i.e., will not come to dwell, a poetical expression for be inhabited (see at Joe 3:20). The reference to a king of Gaza does not point to times before the captivity. The Babylonian and Persian emperors were accustomed to leave to the subjugated nations their princes or kings, if they would only submit as vassals to their superior control. They therefore bore the title of "kings of kings" (Eze 26:7; cf. Herod. iii. 15; Stark, Gaza, pp. 229, 230; and Koehler, ad h. l.). In Ashdod will mamzēr dwell. This word, the etymology of which is obscure (see at Deu 23:3, the only other passage in which it occurs), denotes in any case one whose birth has some blemish connected with it; so that he is not an equal by birth with the citizens of a city or the inhabitants of a land. Hengstenberg therefore renders it freely, though not inappropriately, by Gesindel (rabble). The dwelling of the bastard in Ashdod is not at variance with the fact that Ashkelon "does not dwell," notwithstanding the individualizing character of the description, according to which what is affirmed of one city also applies to the other. For the latter simply states that the city will lose its native citizens, and thus forfeit the character of a city. The dwelling of bastards or rabble in Ashdod expresses the deep degradation of Philistia, which is announced in literal terms in the second hemistich. The pride of the Philistines shall be rooted out, i.e., everything shall be taken from them on which as Philistines they based their pride, viz., their power, their fortified cities, and their nationality. "These words embrace the entire contents of the prophecy against the Philistines, affirming of the whole people what had previously been affirmed of the several cities" (Hengstenberg).
A new and important feature is added to this in Zac 9:7. Their religious peculiarity - namely, their idolatry - shall also be taken from them, and their incorporation into the nation of God brought about through this judgment. The description in Zac 9:7 is founded upon a personification of the Philistian nation. the suffixes of the third pers. sing. and the pronoun הוּא in Zac 9:7 do not refer to the mamzēr (Hitzig), but to pelishtı̄m (the Philistines), the nation being comprehended in the unity of a single person. This person appears as an idolater, who, when keeping a sacrificial feast, has the blood and flesh of the sacrificial animals in his mouth and between his teeth. Dâmı̄m is not human blood, but the blood of sacrifices; and shiqqutsı̄m, abominations, are not the idols, but the idolatrous sacrifices, and indeed their flesh. Taking away the food of the idolatrous sacrifices out of their mouth denotes not merely the interruption of the idolatrous sacrificial meals, but the abolition of idolatry generally. He also (the nation of the Philistines regarded as a person) will be left to our God. The gam refers not to the Phoenicians and Syrians mentioned before, of whose being left nothing was said in Zac 9:1-4, but to the idea of "Israel" implied in לאלהינוּ, our God. Just as in the case of Israel a "remnant" of true confessors of Jehovah is left when the judgment falls upon it, so also will a remnant of the Philistines be left for the God of Israel. The attitude of this remnant towards the people of God is shown in the clauses which follow. He will be like an 'alluph in Judah. This word, which is applied in the earlier books only to the tribe-princes of the Edomites and Horites (Gen 36:15-16; Exo 15:15; Ch1 1:51.), is transferred by Zechariah to the tribe-princes of Judah. It signifies literally not a phylarch, the head of an entire tribe (matteh, φυλή), but a chiliarch, the head of an 'eleph, one of the families into which the tribes were divided. The meaning "friend," which Kliefoth prefers (cf. Mic 7:5), is unsuitable here; and the objection, that "all the individuals embraced in the collective הוּא cannot receive the position of tribe-princes in Judah" (Kliefoth), does not apply, because הוּא is not an ordinary collective, but the remnant of the Philistines personified as a man. Such a remnant might very well assume the position of a chiliarch of Judah. This statement is completed by the addition "and Ekron," i.e., the Ekronite "will be like the Jebusite." The Ekronite is mentioned fore the purpose of individualizing in the place of all the Philistines. "Jebusite" is not an epithet applied to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, but stands for the former inhabitants of the citadel of Zion, who adopted the religion of Israel after the conquest of this citadel by David, and were incorporated into the nation of the Lord. This is evident from the example of the Jebusite Araunah, who lived in the midst of the covenant nation, according to Sa2 24:16., Ch1 21:15., as a distinguished man of property, and not only sold his threshing-floor to king David as a site for the future temple, but also offered to present the oxen with which he had been ploughing, as well as the plough itself, for a burnt-offering. On the other hand, Koehler infers, from the conventional mode of expression employed by the subject when speaking to his king, "thy God," and the corresponding words of David, "my God" instead of our God, that Araunah stood in the attitude of a foreigner towards the God of Israel; but he is wrong in doing so. And there is quite as little ground for the further inference drawn by this scholar from the fact that the servants of Solomon and the Nethinim are reckoned together in Ezr 2:58 and Neh 7:60, in connection with the statement that Solomon had levied bond-slaves for his buildings from the remnants of the Canaanitish population (Kg1 9:20), viz., that the Jebusites reappeared in the Nethinim of the later historical books, and that the Nethinim "given by David and the princes" were chiefly Jebusites, according to which "Ekron's being like a Jebusite is equivalent to Ekron's not only meeting with reception into the national fellowship of Israel through circumcision, but being appointed, like the Jebusites, to service in the sanctuary of Jehovah." On the contrary, the thought is simply this: The Ekronites will be melted up with the people of God, like the Jebusites with the Judaeans. Kliefoth also observes quite correctly, that "there is no doubt that what is specially affirmed of the Philistians is also intended to apply to the land of Chadrach, to Damascus, etc., as indeed an absolute generalization follows expressly in Zac 9:10.... Just as in what precedes, the catastrophe intended for all these lands and nations is specially described in the case of Tyre alone; so here conversion is specially predicted of the Philistines alone."
If we inquire now into the historical allusion or fulfilment of this prophecy, it seems most natural to think of the divine judgment, which fell upon Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia through the march of Alexander the Great from Asia Minor to Egypt. After the battle at Issus in Cilicia, Alexander sent one division of his army under Parmenio to Damascus, to conquer this capital of Coele-Syria. On this expedition Hamath must also have been touched and taken. Alexander himself marched from Cilicia direct to Phoenicia, where Sidon and the other Phoenician cities voluntarily surrendered to him; and only Tyre offered so serious a resistance in its confidence in its own security, that it was not till after a seven months' siege and very great exertions that he succeeded in taking this fortified city by storm. On his further march the fortified city of Gaza also offered a prolonged resistance, but it too was eventually taken by storm (cf. Arrian, ii. 15ff.; Curtius, iv. 12, 13, and 2-4; and Stark, Gaza, p. 237ff.). On the basis of these facts, Hengstenberg observes (Christol. iii. p. 369), as others have done before him, that "there can be no doubt that in Zac 9:1-8 we have before us a description of the expedition of Alexander as clear as it was possible for one to be given, making allowance for the difference between prophecy and history." But Koehler has already replied to this, that the prophecy in Zac 9:7 was not fulfilled by the deeds of Alexander, since neither the remnant of the Phoenicians nor the other heathen dwelling in the midst of Israel were converted to Jehovah through the calamities connected with Alexander's expedition; and on this ground he merely regards the conquests of Alexander as the commencement of the fulfilment, which was then continued throughout the calamities caused by the wars of succession, the conflicts between the Egyptians, Syrians, and Romans, until it was completed by the fact that the heathen tribes within the boundaries of Israel gradually disappeared as separate tribes, and their remnants were received into the community of those who confessed Israel's God and His anointed. But we must go a step further, and say that the fulfilment has not yet reached its end, but is still going on, and will until the kingdom of Christ shall attain that complete victory over the heathen world which is foretold in Zac 9:8.
Whilst the heathen world falls under the judgment of destruction, and the remnant of the heathen are converted to the living God, the Lord will protect His house, and cause the King to appear in Jerusalem, who will spread out His kingdom of peace over all the earth. Zac 9:8. "I pitch a tent for my house against military power, against those who go to and fro, and no oppressor will pass over them any more; for now have I seen with my eyes. Zac 9:9. Exult greatly, O daughter Zion; shout, daughter Jerusalem: behold, thy King will come to thee: just and endowed with salvation is He; lowly and riding upon an ass, and that upon a foal, the she-ass's son. Zac 9:10. And I cut off the chariots out of Ephraim, and the horses out of Jerusalem, and the war-bow will be cut off: and peace will He speak to the nations; and His dominion goes from sea to sea, and from the river to the ends of the earth." Chânâh, to encamp, to pitch a tent. לביתי, dat. commod. "for my house," for the good of my house. The house of Jehovah is not the temple, but Israel as the kingdom of God or church of the Lord, as in Hos 8:1; Hos 9:15; Jer 12:7, and even Num 12:7, from which we may see that this meaning is not founded upon the temple, but upon the national constitution given to Israel, i.e., upon the idea of the house as a family. In the verse before us we cannot think of the temple, for the simple reason that the temple was not a military road for armies on the march either while it was standing, or, as Koehler supposes, when it was in ruins. מצּבה stands, according to the Masora, for מצּבא = מן־צבא, not however in the sense of without an army, but "on account of (against) a hostile troop," protecting His house from them. But Bttcher, Koehler, and others, propose to follow the lxx and read מצּבה, military post, after Sa1 14:12, which is the rendering given by C. B. Michaelis and Gesenius to מצּבה. But this does not apply to חנה, for a post (מצּבה, that which is set up) stands up, and does not lie down. מצּבה is more precisely defined by מעבר וּמשּׁב, as going through and returning, i.e., as an army marching to and fro (cf. Zac 7:14). There will come upon them no more (עליהם, ad sensum, referring to בּיתי) nōgēs, lit., a bailiff or taskmaster (Exo 3:7), then generally any oppressor of the nation. Such oppressors were Egypt, Asshur, Babel, and at the present time the imperial power of Persia. This promise is explained by the last clause: Now have I seen with mine eyes. The object is wanting, but it is implied in the context, viz., the oppression under which my nation sighs (cf. Exo 2:25; Exo 3:7). ‛Attâh (now) refers to the ideal present of the prophecy, really to the time when God interposes with His help; and the perfect ראיתי is prophetic.
God grants help to His people, by causing her King to come to the daughter Zion. To show the magnitude of this salvation, the Lord calls upon the daughter Zion, i.e., the personified population of Jerusalem as a representative of the nation of Israel, namely the believing members of the covenant nation, to rejoice. Through מלכּך, thy King, the coming one is described as the King appointed for Zion, and promised to the covenant nation. That the Messiah is intended, whose coming is predicted by Isaiah (Isa 9:5-6), Micah (Mic 5:1.), and other prophets, is admitted with very few exceptions by all the Jewish and Christian commentators.
(Note: See the history of the exposition in Hengstenberg's Christology.)
לך, not only to thee, but also for thy good. He is tsaddı̄q, righteous, i.e., not one who has right, or the good cause (Hitzig), nor merely one righteous in character, answering in all respects to the will of Jehovah (Koehler), but animated with righteousness, and maintaining in His government this first virtue of a ruler (cf. Isa 11:1-4; Jer 23:5-6; Jer 33:15-16, etc.). For He is also נושׁע, i.e., not σώζων, salvator, helper (lxx, Vulg., Luth.), since the niphal has not the active or transitive sense of the hiphil (מושׁיע), nor merely the passive σωζόμενος, salvatus, delivered from suffering; but the word is used in a more general sense, endowed with ישׁע, salvation, help from God, as in Deu 33:29; Psa 33:16, or furnished with the assistance of God requisite for carrying on His government. The next two predicates describe the character of His rule. עני does not mean gentle, πραΰ́ς (lxx and others) = ענו, but lowly, miserable, bowed down, full of suffering. The word denotes "the whole of the lowly, miserable, suffering condition, as it is elaborately depicted in Isa 53:1-12" (Hengstenberg). The next clause answers to this, "riding upon an ass, and indeed upon the foal of an ass." The ו before על עיר is epexegetical (Sa1 17:40), describing the ass as a young animal, not yet ridden, but still running behind the she-asses. The youthfulness of the animal is brought out still more strongly by the expression added to עיר, viz., בּן־אתנות, i.e., a foal, such as asses are accustomed to bear (עתנות is the plural of the species, as in כּפיר אריות, Jdg 14:5; שׂעיר העזּים, Gen 37:31; Lev 4:23). "Riding upon an ass" is supposed by most of the more modern commentators to be a figurative emblem of the peacefulness of the king, that He will establish a government of peace, the ass being regarded as an animal of peace in contrast with the horse, because on account of its smaller strength, agility, and speed, it is less adapted for riding in the midst of fighting and slaughter than a horse. But, in the first place, this leaves the heightening of the idea of the ass by the expression "the young ass's foal" quite unexplained. Is the unridden ass's foal an emblem of peace in a higher degree than the full-grown ass, that has already been ridden?
(Note: We may see how difficult it is to reconcile the emphasis laid upon the ass's foal with this explanation of the significance of the ass, from the attempts made by the supporters of it to bring them into harmony. The assertion made by Ebrard, that עיר denotes an ass of noble breed, and בּן־אתנות signifies that it is one of the noblest breed, has been already proved by Koehler to be a fancy without foundation; but his own attempt to deduce the following meaning of this riding upon a young ass from the precepts concerning the sacrifices, viz., that the future king is riding in the service of Israel, and therefore comes in consequence of a mission from Jehovah, can be proved to fail, from the fact that he is obliged to collect together the most heterogeneous precepts, of which those in Num 19:2; Deu 21:3, and Sa1 6:7, that for certain expiatory purposes animals were to be selected that had never borne a yoke, have a much more specific meaning than that of simple use in the service of Jehovah.)
And secondly, it is indeed correct that the ass was only used in war as the exception, not the rule, and when there were no horses to be had (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. p. 158, ed. Ros.); and also correct that in the East it is of a nobler breed, and not so despised as it is with us; but it is also a fact that in the East, and more especially among the Israelites, it was only in the earlier times, when they possessed no horses as yet, that distinguished persons rode upon asses (Jdg 5:10; Jdg 10:4; Jdg 12:14; Sa2 17:23; Sa2 19:27), whereas in the time of David the royal princes and kings kept mules for riding instead of asses (Sa2 13:29; Sa2 18:9; Kg1 1:33; 38:44); and from the time of Solomon downwards, when the breeding of horses was introduced, not another instance occurs of a royal person riding upon an ass, although asses and mules are still constantly used in the East for riding and as beasts of burden; and lastly, that in both the ancient and modern East the ass stands much lower than the horse, whilst in Egypt and other places (Damascus for example), Christians and Jews were, and to some extent still are, only allowed to ride upon asses, and not upon horses, for the purpose of putting them below the Mohammedans (for the proofs, see Hengstenberg's Christology, iii. pp. 404-5). Consequently we must rest satisfied with this explanation, that in accordance with the predicate עני the riding of the King of Zion upon the foal of an ass is an emblem, not of peace, but of lowliness, as the Talmudists themselves interpreted it. "For the ass is not a more peaceful animal than the horse, but a more vicious one" (Kliefoth).
Just as the coming of the King does not contain within itself a sign of earthly power and exaltation, so will His kingdom not be established by worldly power. The war-chariots and horses, in which the kingdoms of the world seek their strength, will be exterminated by Jehovah out of Ephraim and Jerusalem (cf. Mic 5:9). And so also will the war-chariots, for which "the battle-bow" stands synecdochically. Ephraim denotes the former kingdom of the ten tribes, and Jerusalem is mentioned as the capital in the place of the kingdom of Judah. Under the Messiah will the two kingdoms that were formerly divided be united once more, and through the destruction of their military power will their nature be also changed, the covenant nation be divested of its political and worldly character, and made into a spiritual nation or kingdom. The rule of this King will also speak peace to the nations, i.e., will not command peace through His authoritative word (Hitzig, Koehler, etc.), but bring the contests among the nations to an end (Mic 4:3); for dibbēr shâlōm does not mean to command peace, but it either simply denotes such a speaking as has peace for its subject, giving an assurance of peace and friendship, i.e., uttering words of peace (a meaning which is inapplicable here), or signifies to speak peace for the purpose of bringing disputes to an end (Est 10:3). But this is done not by authoritative commands, but by His gaining the nations over through the spiritual power of His word, or establishing His spiritual kingdom in the midst of them. It is only as thus interpreted, that the statement concerning the extension of His kingdom harmonizes with the rest. This statement rests upon Psa 72:8, "from sea to sea," as in Amo 8:12 and Mic 7:12, viz., from the sea to the other end of the world where sea begins again. "From the river:" i.e., from the Euphrates, which is intended here by nâhâr without the article, as in Mic 7:12 and Isa 7:20, and is mentioned as the remotest eastern boundary of the land of Israel, according to Gen 15:18; Exo 23:31, as being the terminus a quo, to which the ends of the earth are opposed as the terminus ad quem.
The leading thought in the promise (Zac 9:8-10) is therefore the following: When the catastrophe shall burst upon the Persian empire, Israel will enjoy the marvellous protection of its God, and the promised King will come for Zion, endowed with righteousness and salvation, but in outward humiliation; and through the extermination of the materials of war out of Israel, as well as by the peaceful settlement of the contests of the nations, He will establish a kingdom of peace, which will extend over all the earth. On the fulfilment of this prophecy, we learn from the gospel history, that when Jesus took His last journey to Jerusalem, He so arranged His entrance into this city, that our prophecy (Zac 9:9), "Say ye to the daughter Zion, Behold, thy King cometh," etc., was fulfilled (cf. Mat 21:2., Mar 11:2., Luk 19:30., and Joh 12:14.). The exact agreement between the arrangement made by Jesus on this occasion and our prophecy is especially evident from the account given by Matthew, according to which Jesus ordered not only the ass's foal (πῶλον ὀνάριον), upon which He rode into Jerusalem, to be brought, as Mark, Luke, and John relate, but a she-ass and a foal with her (Mat 21:2, Mat 21:7), "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet" (Mat 21:4), although He could really only ride upon one animal. The she-ass was to follow, to set forth Zechariah's figurative description with greater completeness. For we see, from the corresponding accounts of the other three evangelists, that Jesus only mounted the ass's foal. John, even when quoting our prophecy, only mentions the "sitting on an ass's colt" (Joh 12:15), and then adds in Joh 12:16, that the allusion in this act of Jesus to the Old Testament prophecy was only understood by the disciples after Jesus was glorified. By this mode of entering Jerusalem before His death, Jesus intended to exhibit Himself to the people as the King foretold by the prophets, who, coming in lowliness, would establish His kingdom through suffering and dying, so as to neutralize the carnal expectations of the people as to the worldly character of the Messianic kingdom. The fulfilment, however, which Jesus thereby gave to our prophecy is not to be sought for in this external agreement between His act and the words of the prophet. The act of Jesus was in itself simply an embodiment of the thought lying at the basis of the prophecy, - namely, that the kingdom of the Messiah would unfold itself, through lowliness and suffering, to might and glory; that Jesus, as the promised Messiah, would not conquer the world by the force of arms, and so raise His people to political supremacy, but that He would found His kingdom by suffering and dying, - a kingdom which, though not of this world, would nevertheless overcome the world. The figurative character of the prophetic picture, according to which "riding upon an ass" merely serves to individualize עני, and set forth the lowliness of the true King of Zion under appropriate imagery, has been already pointed out by Calvin
(Note: Calvin says: "I have no doubt that the prophet added this clause (viz., 'riding upon an ass,' etc.) as an appendix to the word עני, as much as to say: The King of whom I speak will not be illustrious for His magnificent and splendid state, as earthly princes generally are." He then gives this explanation of the riding upon the ass: "He will not prevail by His great exaltation; nor will He be conspicuous for arms, riches, splendour, the number of his soldiers, or even the royal insignia, which attract the eyes of the people.")
and Vitringa; and the latter has also correctly observed, that the prophecy would have been fulfilled in Christ, even if He had not made His entry into Jerusalem in this manner.
(Note: Vitringa says, on Isa 53:4 : "In that passage of Zechariah, indeed, according to its spiritual and mystical sense, his meaning would have been evident without this accident of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem; but when God would put all the emphasis of which the words are capable upon the predictions uttered by the prophets, His own providence took care that this accident should also occur, so that no part of the machinery might be wanting here.")
Hengstenberg and Koehler adopt the same view. Nevertheless, this entry of Christ into Jerusalem forms the commencement of the fulfilment of our prophecy, and that not merely inasmuch as Jesus thereby declared Himself to be the promised Messiah and King of Zion, and set forth in a living symbol the true nature of His person and of His kingdom in contrast with the false notions of His friends and foes, but still more in this respect, that the entry into Jerusalem formed the commencement of the establishment of His kingdom, since it brought to maturity the resolution on the part of the Jewish rulers to put Him to death; and His death was necessary to reconcile the sinful world to God, and restore the foundation of peace upon which His kingdom was to be built. With the spread of His kingdom over the earth, treated of in Zac 9:10, the fulfilment continues till the annihilation of all the ungodly powers, after which all war will ceased. But this end can only be reached through severe conflicts and victory. This is the subject of the following section.
Israel's Redemption from Captivity, and Victory over the Heathen. - Zac 9:11. "Thou also, for the sake of thy covenant blood, I release thy captives out of the pit wherein there is no water. Zac 9:12. Return to the fortress, ye prisoners of hope. Even to-day I proclaim: Double will I repay to thee." This is addressed to the daughter Zion, i.e., to all Israel, consisting of Ephraim and Judah. We not only learn this from the context, since both of them are spoken of before (Zac 9:10) and afterwards (Zac 9:13); but it is also obvious from the expression bedam berı̄thēkh, since the covenant blood belonged to all Israel of the twelve tribes (Exo 24:8). גּם־אתּ stands at the head absolutely, on account of the emphasis lying upon the אתּ. But as the following clause, instead of being directly attached to אתּ, is so constructed that the pronoun אתּ is continued with suffixes, the question arises, to what the גּם is to be taken as referring, or which is the antithesis indicated by גּם. The answer may easily be obtained if we only make it clear to ourselves which of the two words, with the second pers. suffix, forms the object of the assertion made in the entire clause. This is not בּדם־בּריתך, but אסיריך: thou also (= thee) - namely, thy prisoners - I release. But the emphasis intended by the position in which גּם־אתּ is placed does not rest upon the prisoners of Israel in contrast with any other prisoners, but in contrast with the Israel in Jerusalem, the daughter Zion, to which the King is coming. Now, although גּם actually belongs to אסיריך, it refers primarily to the אתּ to which it is attached, and this only receives its more precise definition afterwards in אסיריך. And the allusion intended by גּם is simply somewhat obscured by the fact, that before the statement to which it gives emphasis בּדם־בּריתך is inserted, in order from the very first to give a firm pledge of the promise to the people, by declaring the motive which induced God to make this fresh manifestation of grace to Israel. This motive also acted as a further reason for placing the pronoun אתּ at the head absolutely, and shows that אתּ is to be taken as an address, as for example in Gen 49:8. בּדם־בּריתך: literally, being in thy covenant blood, because sprinkled therewith, the process by which Israel was expiated and received into covenant with God (Exo 24:8). "The covenant blood, which still separates the church and the world from one another, was therefore a certain pledge to the covenant nation of deliverance out of all trouble, so long, that is to say, as it did not render the promise nugatory by wickedly violating the conditions imposed by God" (Hengstenberg). The new matter introduced by גּם־אתּ in Zac 9:11 is therefore the following: The pardon of Israel will not merely consist in the fact that Jehovah will send the promised King to the daughter Zion; but He will also redeem such members of His nation as shall be still in captivity out of their affliction. The perfect shillachtı̄ is prophetic. Delivering them out of a pit without water is a figure denoting their liberation out of the bondage of exile. This is represented with an evident allusion to the history of Joseph in Gen 37:22, as lying in a pit wherein there is no water, such as were used as prisons (cf. Jer 38:6). Out of such a pit the captive could not escape, and would inevitably perish if he were not drawn out. The opposite of the pit is בּצּרון, a place cut off, i.e., fortified, not the steep height, although fortified towns were generally built upon heights. The prisoners are to return where they will be secured against their enemies; compare Psa 40:3, where the rock is opposed to the miry pit, as being a place upon which it is possible to stand firmly. "Prisoners of hope" is an epithet applied to the Israelites, because they possess in their covenant blood a hope of redemption. גּם־היּום, also to-day, i.e., even to-day or still to-day, "notwithstanding all threatening circumstances" (Ewald, Hengstenberg). I repay thee double, i.e., according to Isa 61:7, a double measure of glory in the place of the sufferings.
This thought is supported in Zac 9:13. by a picture of the glory intended for Israel. Zac 9:13. "For I stretch Judah as my bow, fill it with Ephraim, and stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Javan, and make thee like the sword of a hero. Zac 9:14. And Jehovah will appear above them, and like the lightning will His arrow go forth; and the Lord Jehovah will blow the trumpets, and will pass along in storms of the south. Zac 9:15. Jehovah of hosts will shelter above them, and they will eat and tread down sling-stones, and will drink, make a noise, as if with wine, and become full, like the sacrificial bowls, like the corners of the altar." The double recompense which the Lord will make to His people, will consist in the fact that He not only liberates them out of captivity and bondage, and makes them into an independent nation, but that He helps them to victory over the power of the world, so that they will tread it down, i.e., completely subdue it. The first thought is not explained more fully, because it is contained implicite in the promise of return to a strong place; the "double" only is more distinctly defined, namely, the victory over Javan. The expression, "I stretch," etc., implies that the Lord will subdue the enemies by Judah and Ephraim, and therefore Israel will carry on this conflict in the power of its God. The figurative description is a bold one. Judah is the extended bow; Ephraim the arrow which God shoots at the foe. קשׁת is indeed separated from יהוּדה by the accents; but the lxx, Targ., Vulg., and others, have taken it more correctly, as in apposition to יהוּדה; because with the many meanings that דּרך possesses, the expression דּרך יהוּדה needs a more precise definition; whereas there is no difficulty in supplying in thought the noun qesheth, which has been mentioned only just before, to the verb מלּאתי (I fill). מלּאתי is to be understood as signifying the laying of the arrow upon the bow, and not to be explained from Kg2 9:24, "to fill the hand with the bow." A bow is filled when it is supplied with the arrow for shooting. We must bear in mind that the matter is divided rhetorically between the parallel members; and the thought is this: Judah and Ephraim are bow and arrow in the hand of Jehovah. עוררתּי, I stir up, not I swing thy children as a lance (Hitzig and Koehler); for if עורר had this meaning, חנית could not be omitted. The sons of Zion are Judah and Ephraim, the undivided Israel, not the Zionites living as slaves in Javan (Hitzig). The sons of Javan are the Greeks, as the world-power, the Graeco-Macedonian monarchy (cf. Dan 8:21), against which the Lord will make His people into a hero's sword. This took place in weak beginnings, even in the wars between the Maccabees and the Seleucidae, to which, according to Jerome, the Jews understood our prophecy to refer; but it must not be restricted to this, as the further description in Zac 9:14, Zac 9:15 points to the complete subjugation of the imperial power.
Jehovah appears above them, i.e., coming from heaven as a defence, to fight for them (the sons of Zion), as a mighty man of war (Psa 24:8). His arrow goes out like the lightning (כ the so-called כ veritatis; for the fact described, compare Hab 3:11). Marching at the head of His people, He gives the signal of battle with a trumpet-blast, and attacks the enemy with terribly devastating violence. The description rests upon the poetical descriptions of the coming of the Lord to judgment, the colours of which are borrowed from the phenomena of a storm (cf. Psalm 18 and Hab 3:8.). Storms of the south are the most violent storms, as they come from the Arabian desert, which bounds Canaan on the south (Isa 21:1; cf. Hos 13:15). But Jehovah not only fights for His people; He is also a shield to them in battle, covering them against the weapons of the foe. This is affirmed in יגן עליהם in Zac 9:15. Hence they are able to destroy their enemies, and, like devouring lions, to eat their flesh and drink their blood. That this figure lies at the foundation of the horrible picture of ואכלוּ, is evident from Num 23:24, which was the passage that Zechariah had in his mind: "Behold a people like the lioness; it rises up, and like the lion does it lift itself up: it lies not down till it devour the prey, and drink the blood of the slain." Hence the object to אכלוּ is not the possessions of the heathen, but their flesh. כּבשׁוּ אבני קלע does not mean, they tread down (subdue) the enemy with sling-stones (lxx, Vulg., Grot.); for אבני ק cannot, when considered grammatically, be taken in an instrumental sense, and is rather an accus. obj.; but they tread down sling-stones. The sling-stones might be used per synecdochen to signify darts, which the enemy hurls at them, and which they tread down as perfectly harmless (Kliefoth). But the comparison of the Israelites to the stones of a crown, in Zac 9:16, leads rather to the conclusion that the sling-stones are to be taken as a figure denoting the enemy, who are trampled under the feet like stones (Hitzig, Hengstenberg). Only we cannot speak of eating sling-stones, as Koehler would interpret the words, overlooking כּבשׁוּ, and appealing to the parallel member: they will drink, reel as if from wine, which shows, in his opinion, that it is the sling-stones that are to be eaten. But this shows, on the contrary, that just as there no mention is made of what is to be drunk, so here what is to be eaten is not stated. It is true that wine and sacrificial blood point to the blood of the enemy; but wine and blood are drinkable, whereas sling-stones are not edible. The description of the enemy as sling-stones is to be explained from the figure in Sa1 25:29, to hurl away the soul of the enemy. They drunk (sc., the blood of the enemy) even to intoxication, making a noise, as if intoxicated with wine (כּמו יין, an abbreviated comparison; cf. Ewald, 221, a, and 282, e), and even to overflowing, so that they become full, like the sacrificial bowls in which the blood of the sacrificial animals was caught, and like the corners of the altar, which were sprinkled with the sacrificial blood. זויּת are corners, not the horns of the altar. The sacrificial blood was not sprinkled upon these; they were simply smeared with a little blood applied with the finger, in the case of the expiatory sacrifices. According to the law (Lev 1:5, Lev 1:11; Lev 3:2, etc.), the blood was to be swung against the altar. This was done, according to rabbinical tradition (Mishn. Seb. Sa1 25:4., and Rashi on Lev 1:5), in such a manner, that with two sprinklings all the four sides of the altar were wetted, - a result which could only be ensured by swinging the bowls filled with blood, so as to strike the corners of the altar.
Through this victory over the world-power Israel will attain to glory. Zac 9:16. "And Jehovah their God will endow them with salvation in that day, like a flock His people; for stones of a crown are they, sparkling in His land. Zac 9:17. For how great is its goodness, and how great its beauty! Corn will make youths to sprout, and new wine maidens." הושׁיע does not mean to help or deliver here; for this would affirm much too little, after what has gone before. When Israel has trodden down its foes, it no longer needs deliverance. It denotes the granting of positive salvation, which the explanatory clause that follows also requires. The motive for this is indicated in the clause, "like a flock His people." Because Israel is His (Jehovah's) people, the Lord will tend it as a shepherd tends his flock. The blessings which Jehovah bestows upon His people are described by David in Psa 23:1-6. The Lord will do this also, because they (the Israelites) are crown-stones, namely as the chosen people, which Jehovah will make a praise and glory for all nations (Zep 3:19-20). To the predicate אבני נזר the subject המּה may easily be supplied from the context, as for example in מגּיד in Zac 9:12. To this subject מתנוססות וגו attaches itself. This verb is connected with nēs, a banner, in Psa 60:6, the only other passage in which it occurs; but here it is used in the sense of nâtsats, to glitter or sparkle. The meaning, to lift up, which is given by the lexicons, has no foundation, and is quite unsuitable here. For crown-stones do not lift themselves up, but sparkle; and the figure of precious stones, which sparkle upon the land, denotes the highest possible glory to which Israel can attain. The suffix attached to אדמתו refers to Jehovah, only we must not identify the land of Jehovah with Palestine. The application of this honourable epithet to Israel is justified in Zac 9:17, by an allusion to the excellence and beauty to which it will attain. The suffixes in טוּבו and יפיו cannot refer to Jehovah, as Ewald and Hengstenberg suppose, but refer to עמּו, the people of Jehovah. יפי is quite irreconcilable with an allusion to Jehovah, since this word only occurs in connection with men and the Messianic King (Psa 45:3; Isa 33:17); and even if it were used of Jehovah, it would still be unsuitable here. For though the vigorous prosperity of the nation is indeed a proof of the goodness of God, it is not a proof of the beauty of God. Mâh is an exclamation of Amazement: "how great!" (Ewald, 330, a). טוּב, when affirmed of the nation, is not moral goodness, but a good appearance, and is synonymous with יפי, beauty, as in Hos 10:11. This prosperity proceeds from the blessings of grace, which the Lord causes to flow down to His people. Corn and new wine are mentioned as such blessings, for the purpose of individualizing, as indeed they frequently are (e.g., Deu 33:28; Psa 72:16), and are distributed rhetorically between the youths and the maidens.