Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, by Carl Friedrich Keil and Franz Delitzsh, [1857-78], at sacred-texts.com
All nations will be gathered together by the Lord against Jerusalem, and will take the city and plunder it, and lead away the half of its inhabitants into captivity (Zac 14:1, Zac 14:2). The Lord will then take charge of His people; He will appear upon the Mount of Olives, and by splitting this mountain, prepare a safe way for the rescue of those that remain, and come with all His saints (Zac 14:3-5) to complete His kingdom. From Jerusalem a stream of salvation and blessing will pour over the whole land (Zac 14:6-11); the enemies who have come against Jerusalem will be miraculously smitten, and destroy one another (Zac 14:12-15). The remnant of the nations, however, will turn to the Lord, and come yearly to Jerusalem, to keep the feast of Tabernacles (Zac 14:16-19); and Jerusalem will become thoroughly holy (Zac 14:20, Zac 14:21). From this brief description of the contents, it is perfectly obvious that our chapter contains simply a further expansion of the summary announcement of the judgment upon Israel, and its refinement (Zac 13:7-9). Zac 14:1, Zac 14:2 show how the flock is dispersed, and for the most part perishes; Zac 14:2-5, how the Lord brings back His hand over the small ones; vv. 6-21, how the rescued remnant of the nation is endowed with salvation, and the kingdom of God completed by the reception of the believers out of the heathen nations. There is no essential difference in the fact that the nation of Israel is the object of the prophecy in Zac 13:7-9, and Jerusalem in ch. 14. Jerusalem, as the capital of the kingdom, is the seat of Israel, the nation of God; what happens to it, happens to the people and kingdom of God.
The judgment and the deliverance. - Zac 14:1. "Behold, a day cometh for Jehovah, and thy spoil is divided in the midst of thee. Zac 14:2. And I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to war, and the city will be taken, and the houses plundered, and the women ravished, and half the city will go out into captivity; but the remnant of the nation will not be cut off out of the city." A day comes to the Lord, not inasmuch as He brings it to pass, but rather because the day belongs to Him, since He will manifest His glory upon it (cf. Isa 2:12). This day will at first bring calamity or destruction upon Israel; but this calamity will furnish occasion to the Lord to display His divine might and glory, by destroying the enemies of Israel and saving His people. In the second hemistich of Zac 14:1, Jerusalem is addressed. "Thy spoil" is the booty taken by the enemy in Jerusalem. The prophet commences directly with the main fact, in a most vivid description, and only gives the explanation afterwards in Zac 14:2. The Vav consec. attached to ואספתּי is also a Vav explicativum. The Lord gathers all nations together to war against Jerusalem, and gives up the city into their power, that they may conquer it, and let loose all their barbarity upon it, plundering the houses and ravishing the women (cf. Isa 13:16, where the same thing is affirmed of Babylon). Just as in the Chaldaean conquest the people had been obliged to wander into captivity, so will it be now, though not all the people, but only the half of the city. The remaining portion will not be cut off out of the city, i.e., be transported thence, as was the case at that time, when even the remnant of the nation was carried into exile (Kg2 25:22). It is obvious at once from this, that the words do not refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, as Theodoret, Jerome, and others have supposed.
This time the Lord will come to the help of His people. Zac 14:3. "And Jehovah will go forth and fight against those nations, as in His day of battle, on the day of slaughter. Zac 14:4. And His feet will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which lies to the east before Jerusalem; and the Mount of Olives will split in the centre from east to west into a very great valley, and half of the mountain will remove to the north, and its (other) half to the south. Zac 14:5. And ye will flee into the valley of my mountains, and the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel, and ye will flee as ye fled before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah. And Jehovah my God will come, all the saints with Thee." Against those nations which have conquered Jerusalem the Lord will fight כּיום וגו, as the day, i.e., as on the day, of His fighting, to which there is added, for the purpose of strengthening the expression, "on the day of the slaughter." The meaning is not "according to the day when He fought in the day of the war," as Jerome and many others suppose, who refer the words to the conflict between Jehovah and the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Exo 14:14); for there is nothing to support this special allusion. According to the historical accounts in the Old Testament, Jehovah went out more than once to fight for His people (cf. Jos 10:14, Jos 10:42; Jos 23:3; Jdg 4:15; Sa1 7:10; Ch2 20:15). The simile is therefore to be taken in a more general sense, as signifying "as He is accustomed to fight in the day of battle and slaughter," and to be understood as referring to all the wars of the Lord on behalf of His people. In Zac 14:4 and Zac 14:5 we have first of all a description of what the Lord will do to save the remnant of His people. He appears upon the Mount of Olives, and as His feet touch the mountain it splits in half, so that a large valley is formed. The splitting of the mountain is the effect of the earthquake under the footsteps of Jehovah, before whom the earth trembles when He touches it (cf. Exo 19:18; Jdg 5:5; Psa 68:8; Nah 1:5, etc.). The more precise definition of the situation of the Mount of Olives, viz., "before Jerusalem eastwards," is not introduced with a geographical purpose - namely, to distinguish it from other mountains upon which olives trees grow - but is connected with the means employed by the Lord for the salvation of His people, for whom He opens a way of escape by splitting the mountain in two. The mountain is splitמחציו מזרחה וימּה, from the half (i.e., the midst) of it to the east and to the west, i.e., so that a chasm ensues, which runs from the centre of the mountain both eastwards and westwards; so that the mountain is split latitudinally, one half (as is added to make it still more clear) removing to the south, the other to the north, and a great valley opening between them.
Into this valley the half of the nation that is still in Jerusalem will flee. גּיא הרי is the accusative of direction (Luther and others render it incorrectly, "before the valley of my mountains"). This valley is not the valley of the Tyropaeon, or the valley between Moriah and Zion (Jerome, Drus., Hofm.), but the valley which has been formed by the splitting of the Mount of Olives; and Jehovah calls the two mountains which have been formed through His power out of the Mount of Olives hârai, "my mountains." Nor is it connected with the valley of Jehoshaphat; for the opinion that the newly-formed valley is merely an extension of the valley of Jehoshaphat has no foundation in the text, and is not in harmony with the direction taken by the new valley - namely, from east to west. The explanatory clause which follows, "for the (newly-formed) valley of the mountains will reach אל אצל," shows that the flight of the people into the valley is not to be understood as signifying that the valley will merely furnish the fugitives with a level road for escape, but that they will find a secure place of shelter in the valley. 'El 'Atsal has been taken by different commentators, after Symm. and Jerome, in an appellative sense, "to very near," which Koehler interprets as signifying that the valley will reach to the place where the fugitives are. This would be to Jerusalem, for that was where the fugitives were then. But if Zechariah had meant to say this, he could not have spoken more obscurely. 'Atsal, the form in pause for 'âtsēl, as we may see by comparing Ch1 8:38 and Ch1 9:44 with Ch1 8:39 and Ch1 9:43 (cf. Olsh. Gramm. 91, d), is only met with elsewhere in the form אצל, not merely as a preposition, but also in the name בּית־האצל, and is here a proper name, as most of the ancient translators perceived, - namely, a contracted form of בּית־האצל, since בּית is frequently omitted from names of places constructed with it (see Ges. Thes. p. 193). This place is to be sought for, according to Mic 1:11, in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, and according to the passage before us to the east of the Mount of Olives, as Cyril states, though from mere hearsay, κώμη δὲ αὕτη πρὸς ἐσχατιαῖς, ὡς λόγος τοῦ ὄρους κειμένη. The fact that Jerome does not mention the place is no proof that it did not exist. A small place not far from Jerusalem, on the other side of the Mount of Olives, might have vanished from the earth long before this father lived. The comparison of the flight to the flight from the earthquake in the time of king Uzziah, to which reference is made in Amo 1:1, is intended to express not merely the swiftness and universality of the flight, but also the cause of the flight, - namely, that they do not merely fly from the enemy, but also for fear of the earthquake which will attend the coming of the Lord. In the last clause of Zac 14:5 the object of the coming of the Lord is indicated. He has not only gone forth to fight against the enemy in Jerusalem, and deliver His people; but He comes with His holy angels, to perfect His kingdom by means of the judgment, and to glorify Jerusalem. This coming is not materially different from His going out to war (Zac 14:3); it is not another or a second coming, but simply a visible manifestation. For this coming believers wait, because it brings them redemption (Luk 21:28). This joyful waiting is expressed in the address "my God." The holy ones are the angels (cf. Deu 33:2-3; Dan 7:9-10; Mat 25:31), not believers, or believers as well as the angels. In what follows, Zechariah depicts first of all the completion secured by the coming of the Lord (Zac 14:6-11), and then the judgment upon the enemy (Zac 14:12-15), with its fruits and consequences (Zac 14:16-21).
Complete salvation. - Zac 14:6. "And it will come to pass on that day, there will not be light, the glorious ones will melt away. Zac 14:7. And it will be an only day, which will be known to Jehovah, not day nor night: and it will come to pass, at evening time it will be light." The coming of the Lord will produce a change on the earth. The light of the earth will disappear. The way in which לא יהיה אור is to be understood is indicated more precisely by יקרות יקפאון. These words have been interpreted, however, from time immemorial in very different ways. The difference of gender in the combination of the feminine יקרות with the masculine verb יקפּאוּן, and the rarity with which the two words are met with, have both contributed to produce the keri יקרות וקפּאון, in which יקרות has either been taken as a substantive formation from קרר, or the reading וקרות with Vav cop. has been adopted in the sense of cold, and קפּאון (contraction, rigidity) taken to signify ice. The whole clause has then been either regarded as an antithesis to the preceding one, "It will not be light, but (sc., there will be) cold and ice" (thus Targ., Pesh., Symm., Itala, Luther, and many others); or taken in this sense, "There will not be light, and cold, and ice, i.e., no alternation of light, cold, and ice will occur" (Ewald, Umbr., Bunsen). But there is intolerable harshness in both these views: in the first, on account of the insertion of יהיה without a negation for the purpose of obtaining an antithesis; in the second, because the combination of light, cold, and ice is illogical and unparalleled in the Scriptures, and cannot be justified even by an appeal to Gen 8:22, since light is no more equivalent to day and night than cold and ice are to frost and heat, or summer and winter. We must therefore follow Hengstenberg, Hofmann, Koehler, and Kliefoth, who prefer the chethib יקפאון, and read it יקפּאוּן, the imperf. kal of קפא. קפא signifies to congeal, or curdle, and is applied in Exo 15:8 to the heaping up of the waters as it were in solid masses. יקרות, the costly or splendid things are the stars, according to Job 31:26, where the moon is spoken of as יקר הולך, walking in splendour. The words therefore describe the passing away or vanishing of the brightness of the shining stars, answering to the prophetic announcement, that on the day of judgment, sun, moon, and stars will lose their brightness or be turned into darkness (Joe 3:15; Isa 13:10; Eze 32:7-8, Mat 24:29; Rev 6:12). In Zac 14:7 this day is still more clearly described: first, as solitary in its kind; and secondly, as a marvellous day, on which the light dawns at evening time. The four clauses of this verse contain only two thoughts; each so expressed in two clauses that the second explains the first. יום אחד, unus dies, is not equivalent to tempus non longum (Cocceius, Hengst.), nor to "only one day, not two or more" (Koehler), but solitary in its kind, unparalleled by any other, because no second of the kind ever occurs (for the use of 'echâd in this sense, compare Zac 14:9, Eze 7:5, Sol 6:9). It is necessary to take the words in this manner on account of the following clause, "it will be known to the Lord;" i.e., not "it will be singled out by Jehovah in the series of days as the appropriate one" (Hitzig and Koehler), nor "it stands under the supervision and guidance of the Lord, so that it does not come unexpectedly, or interfere with His plans" (Hengstenberg), for neither of these is expressed in נודע; but simply, it is known to the Lord according to its true nature, and therefore is distinguished above all other days. The following definition, "not day and not night," does not mean that "it will form a turbid mixture of day and night, in which there will prevail a mongrel condition of mysterious, horrifying twilight and gloom" (Koehler); but it will resemble neither day nor night, because the lights of heaven, which regulate day and night, lose their brightness, and at evening time there comes not darkness, but light. The order of nature is reversed: the day resembles the night, and the evening brings light. At the time when, according to the natural course of events, the dark night should set in, a bright light will dawn. The words do not actually affirm that the alternation of day and night will cease (Jerome, Neumann, Kliefoth); but this may be inferred from a comparison of Rev 21:23 and Rev 21:25.
Zac 14:8. "And it will come to pass in that day, that living waters will go out from Jerusalem; by half into the eastern sea, and by half into the western sea: in summer and in winter will it be. Zac 14:9. And Jehovah will be King over all the land; in that day will Jehovah be one, and His name one. Zac 14:10. The whole land will turn as the plain from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem; and this will be high, and dwell in its place, from the gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate, to the corner gate, and from the tower of Chananeel to the king's wine-presses. Zac 14:11. And men will dwell therein, and there will be no more curse (ban); and Jerusalem will dwell securely." The living water which issues from Jerusalem, and pours over the land on both sides, flowing both into the eastern or Dead Sea, and into the hinder (i.e., western) or Mediterranean Sea (see at Joe 2:20), is, according to Joe 3:18 and Eze 47:1-12, a figurative representation of the salvation and blessing which will flow out of Jerusalem, the centre of the kingdom of God, over the holy land, and produce vigorous life on every hand. According to Joel and Ezekiel, the water issues from the temple (see at Joe 3:18). Zechariah adds, that this will take place in summer and winter, i.e., will proceed without interruption throughout the whole year, whereas natural streams dry up in summer time in Palestine. To this blessing there is added the higher spiritual blessing, that Jehovah will be King over all the land, and His name alone will be mentioned and revered. כּל־הארץ does not mean the whole earth, but, as in Zac 14:8 and Zac 14:10, the whole of the land of Canaan or of Israel, which is bounded by the Dead Sea and the Mediterranean. It by no means follows from this, however, that Zechariah is simply speaking of a glorification of Palestine. For Canaan, or the land of Israel, is a type of the kingdom of God in the full extent which it will have on the earth in the last days depicted here. Jehovah's kingship does not refer to the kingdom of nature, but to the kingdom of grace, - namely, to the perfect realization of the sovereignty of God, for which the old covenant prepared the way; whereas the old Israel continually rebelled against Jehovah's being King, both by its sin and its idolatry. This rebellion, i.e., the apostasy of the nation from its God, is to cease, and the Lord alone will be King and God of the redeemed nation, and be acknowledged by it; His name alone will be mentioned, and not the names of idols as well.
The earthly soil of the kingdom of God will then experience a change. The whole land will be levelled into a plain, and Jerusalem will be elevated in consequence; and Jerusalem, when thus exalted, will be restored in its fullest extent. יסּב (imperf. kal, not niphal; see Ges. 67, 5), to change like the plain, i.e., to change so as to become like the plain. הערבה is not a plain generally, in which case the article would be used generically, but the plain, so called κατ ̓ ἐξοχήν, the plain of the Jordan, or the Ghor (see at Deu 1:1). The definition "from Geba to Rimmon" does not belong to כּערבה (Umbreit, Neum., Klief.), but to כּל־הארץ; for there was no plain between Geba and Rimmon, but only an elevated, hilly country. Geba is the present Jeba, about three hours to the north of Jerusalem (see at Jos 18:24), and was the northern frontier city of the kingdom of Judah (Kg2 23:8). Rimmon, which is distinguished by the clause "to the south of Jerusalem" from the Rimmon in Galilee, the present Rummaneh to the north of Nazareth (see at Jos 19:13), and from the rock of Rimmon, the present village of Rummon, about fifteen Roman miles to the north of Jerusalem (see Jdg 20:45), is the Rimmon situated on the border of Edom, which was given up by the tribe of Judah to the Simeonites (Jos 15:32; Jos 19:7), probably on the site of the present ruins of Um er Rummanim, four hours to the north of Beersheba (see at Jos 15:32). To וראמה וגו we must supply as the subject Jerusalem, which has been mentioned just before. ראמה is probably only an outwardly expanded form of רמה from רוּם, like קאם in Hos 10:14. The whole land will be lowered, that Jerusalem alone may be high. This is, of course, not to be understood as signifying a physical elevation caused by the depression of the rest of the land; but the description is a figurative one, like the exaltation of the temple mountain above all the mountains in Mic 4:1. Jerusalem, as the residence of the God-King, is the centre of the kingdom of God; and in the future this is to tower high above all the earth. The figurative description is attached to the natural situation of Jerusalem, which stood upon a broad mountain ridge, and was surrounded by mountains, which were loftier than the city (see Robinson, Palestine). The exaltation is a figurative representation of the spiritual elevation and glory which it is to receive. Moreover, Jerusalem is to dwell on its ancient site (ישׁב תּחתּיה, as in Zac 12:6). The meaning of this is not that the exaltation above the surrounding land will be the only alteration that will take place in its situation (Koehler); but, as a comparison with Jer 31:38 clearly shows, that the city will be restored or rebuilt in its former extent, and therefore is to be completely recovered from the ruin brought upon it by conquest and plunder (Zac 14:1). The boundaries of the city that are mentioned here cannot be determined with perfect certainty. The first definitions relate to the extent of the city from east to west. The starting-point (for the use of למן, see Hag 2:18) is Benjamin's gate, in the north wall, through which the road to Benjamin and thence to Ephraim ran, so that it was no doubt the same as Ephraim's gate mentioned in Kg2 14:13 and Neh 8:16. The terminus ad quem, on the other hand, is doubtful, viz., "to the place of the first gate, to the corner gate." According to the grammatical construction, עד־שׁער הפּנּים is apparently in apposition to עד־מקום שׁער הר, or a more precise description of the position of the first gate; and Hitzig and Kliefoth have taken the words in this sense. Only we cannot see any reason why the statement "to the place of the first gate" should be introduced at all, if the other statement "to the corner gate" describes the very same terminal point, and that in a clearer manner. We must therefore assume, as the majority of commentators have done, that the two definitions refer to two different terminal points; in other words, that they define the extent both eastwards and westwards from the Benjamin's gate, which stood near the centre of the north wall. The corner gate (sha‛ar happinnı̄m is no doubt the same as sha‛ar happinnâh in Kg2 14:13 and Jer 31:38) was at the western corner of the north wall. "The first gate" is supposed to be identical with שׁער היּשׁנה, the gate of the old (city), in Neh 3:6 and Neh 12:39, and its place at the north-eastern corner of the city. The definitions which follow give the extent of the city from north to south. We must supply מן before מגדּל. The tower of Hananeel (Jer 31:38; Neh 3:1; Neh 12:39) stood at the north-east corner of the city (see at Neh 3:1). The king's wine-presses were unquestionably in the king's gardens at the south side of the city (Neh 3:15). In the city so glorified the inhabitants dwell (ישׁבוּ in contrast to going out as captives or as fugitives, Zac 14:2, Zac 14:5), and that as a holy nation, for there will be no more any ban in the city. The ban presupposes sin, and is followed by extermination as a judgment (cf. Jos 6:18). The city and its inhabitants will therefore be no more exposed to destruction, but will dwell safely, and have no more hostile attacks to fear (cf. Isa 65:18. and Rev 22:3).
Punishment of the hostile nations. - Zac 14:12. "And this will be the stroke wherewith Jehovah will smite all the nations which have made war upon Jerusalem: its flesh will rot while it stands upon its feet, and its eyes will rot in their sockets, and its tongue will rot in their mouth. Zac 14:13. And it will come to pass in that day, the confusion from Jehovah will be great among them, and they will lay hold of one another's hand, and his hand will rise up against the hand of his neighbour. Zac 14:14. And Judah will also fight at Jerusalem, and the riches of all nations will be gathered together round about, gold and silver and clothes in great abundance. Zac 14:15. And so will be the stroke of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the cattle, that shall be in the same tents, like this stroke." To the description of the salvation there is appended here as the obverse side the execution of the punishment upon the foe, which was only indicated in Zac 14:3. The nations which made war against Jerusalem shall be destroyed partly by the rotting away of their bodies even while they are alive (Zac 14:12), partly by mutual destruction(Zac 14:13), and partly by Judah's fighting against them (Zac 14:14). To express the idea of their utter destruction, all the different kinds of plagues and strokes by which nations can be destroyed are grouped together. In the first rank we have two extraordinary strokes inflicted upon them by God. Maggēphâh always denotes a plague or punishment sent by God (Exo 9:14; Num 14:37; Sa1 6:4). המק, the inf. abs. hiphil in the place of the finite verb: "He (Jehovah) makes its flesh rot while it stands upon its feet," i.e., He causes putrefaction to take place even while the body is alive. The singular suffixes are to be taken distributively: the flesh of every nation or every foe. To strengthen the threat there is added the rotting of the eyes which spied out the nakednesses of the city of God, and of the tongue which blasphemed God and His people (cf. Isa 37:6). The other kind of destruction is effected by a panic terror, through which the foes are thrown into confusion, so that they turn their weapons against one another and destroy one another, - an occurrence of which several examples are furnished by the Israelitish history (compare Jdg 7:22; Sa1 14:20, and especially that in Ch2 20:23, in the reign of Jehoshaphat, to which the description given by our prophet refers). The grasp of the other's hand is a hostile one in this case, the object being to seize him, and, having lifted his hand, to strike him dead. Zac 14:14 is translated by Luther and many others, after the Targum and Vulgate, "Judah will fight against Jerusalem," on the ground that נלחם ב generally signifies "to fight against a person." But this by no means suits the context here, since those who fight against Jerusalem are "all the heathen" (Zac 14:2), and nothing is said about any opposition between Jerusalem and Judah. ב is used here in a local sense, as in Exo 17:8, with נלחם, and the thought is this: Not only will Jehovah smite the enemies miraculously with plagues and confusion, but Judah will also take part in the conflict against them, and fight against them in Jerusalem, which they have taken. Judah denotes the whole of the covenant nation, and not merely the inhabitants of the country in distinction from the inhabitants of the capital. Thus will Judah seize as booty the costly possessions of the heathen, and thereby visit the heathen with ample retribution for the plundering of Jerusalem (Zac 14:2). And the destruction of the enemy will be so complete, that even their beasts of burden, and those used in warfare, and all their cattle, will be destroyed by the same plague as the men; just as in the case of the ban, not only the men, but also their cattle, were put to death (cf. Jos 7:24). Moreover, there is hardly any need for the express remark, that this description is only a rhetorically individualizing amplification of the thought that the enemies of the kingdom of God are to be utterly destroyed - namely, those who do not give up their hostility and turn unto God. For the verses which follow show very clearly that it is only to these that the threat of punishment refers.
Conversion of the heathen. - Zac 14:16. "And it will come to pass, that every remnant of all the nations which came against Jerusalem will go up year by year to worship the King Jehovah of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. Zac 14:17. And it will come to pass, that whoever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King Jehovah of hosts, upon them there will be no rain. Zac 14:18. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, then also not upon them; there will be (upon them) the plague with which Jehovah will plague all nations which do not go up to keep the feast of tabernacles. Zac 14:19. This will be the sin of Egypt, and the sin of all the nations, which do not go up to keep the feast of tabernacles." The heathen will not be all destroyed by the judgment; but a portion of them will be converted. This portion is called "the whole remnant of those who marched against Jerusalem" (בּוא על as in Zac 12:9). It will turn to the worship of the Lord. The construction in Zac 14:16 is anacolouthic: כּל־הנּותר, with its further definition, is placed at the head absolutely, whilst the predicate is attached in the form of an apodosis with ועלוּ. The entrance of the heathen into the kingdom of God is depicted under the figure of the festal journeys to the sanctuary of Jehovah, which had to be repeated year by year. Of the feasts which they will keep there every year (on מדּי, see Delitzsch on Isa 66:23), the feast of tabernacles is mentioned, not because it occurred in the autumn, and the autumn was the best time for travelling (Theod. Mops., Theodoret, Grot., Ros.), or because it was the greatest feast of rejoicing kept by the Jews, or for any other outward reason, but simply on account of its internal significance, which we must not seek for, however, as Koehler does, in its agrarian importance as a feast of thanksgiving for the termination of the harvest, and of the gathering in of the fruit; but rather in its historical allusion as a feast of thanksgiving for the gracious protection of Israel in its wanderings through the desert, and its introduction into the promised land with its abundance of glorious blessings, whereby it foreshadowed the blessedness to be enjoyed in the kingdom of God (see my bibl. Archologie, i. p. 414ff.). This feast will be kept by the heathen who have come to believe in the living God, to thank the Lord for His grace, that He has brought them out of the wanderings of this life into the blessedness of His kingdom of peace. With this view of the significance of the feast of tabernacles, it is also possible to harmonize the punishment threatened in Zac 14:17 for neglecting to keep this feast, - namely, that the rain will not be (come) upon the families of the nations which absent themselves from this feast. For rain is an individualizing expression denoting the blessing of God generally, and is mentioned here with reference to the fact, that without rain the fruits of the land, on the enjoyment of which our happiness depends, will not flourish. The meaning of the threat is, therefore, that those families which do not come to worship the Lord, will be punished by Him with the withdrawal of the blessings of His grace. The Egyptians are mentioned again, by way of example, as those upon whom the punishment will fall. So far as the construction of this verse is concerned, ולע באה is added to strengthen תעלה and לא עליהם contains the apodosis to the conditional clause introduced with אם, to which יהיה הגּשׁם is easily supplied from Zac 14:17. The positive clause which follows is then appended as an asyndeton: It (the fact that the rain does not come) will be the plague, etc. The prophet mentions Egypt especially, not because of the fact in natural history, that this land owes its fertility not to the rain, but to the overflowing of the Nile, - a notion which has given rise to the most forced interpretations; but as the nation which showed the greatest hostility to Jehovah and His people in the olden time, and for the purpose of showing that this nation was also to attain to a full participation in the blessings of salvation bestowed upon Israel (cf. Isa 19:19.). In Zac 14:19 this thought is rounded off by way of conclusion. זאת, this, namely the fact that no rain falls, will be the sin of Egypt, etc. חטּאת, the sin, including its consequences, or in its effects, as in Num 32:23, etc. Moreover, we must not infer from the way in which this is carried out in Zac 14:17-19, that at the time of the completion of the kingdom of God there will still be heathen, who will abstain from the worship of the true God; but the thought is simply this: there will then be no more room for heathenism within the sphere of the kingdom of God. To this there is appended the thought, in Zac 14:20, Zac 14:21, that everything unholy will then be removed from that kingdom.
Zac 14:20. "In that day there will stand upon the bells of the horses, Holy to Jehovah; and the pots in the house of Jehovah will be like the sacrificial bowls before the altar. Zac 14:21. And every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to Jehovah of hosts, and all who sacrifice will come and take of them, and boil therein; and there will be no Canaanite any more in the house of Jehovah of hosts in that day." The meaning of Zac 14:20 is not exhausted by the explanation given by Michaelis, Ewald, and others, that even the horses will then be consecrated to the Lord. The words קדשׁ ליהוה were engraven upon the gold plate on the tiara of the high priest, in the characters used in engravings upon a seal (Exo 28:36). If, then, these words are (i.e., are to stand) upon the bells of the horses, the meaning is, that the bells of the horses will resemble the head-dress of the high priest in holiness.
(Note: It follows from this passage, that it was an Israelitish custom to hang bells upon the horses and mules as ornaments, and probably also for other purposes, as with us. This custom was a very common one in antiquity (see the proofs which have been so diligently collected in Dougtaei Analecta sacr. p. 296ff.).)
This does not merely express the fact that the whole of the ceremonial law will be abolished, but also that the distinction between holy and profane will cease, inasmuch as even the most outward things, and things having no connection whatever with worship, will be as holy as those objects formerly were, which were dedicated to the service of Jehovah by a special consecration. In Zac 14:20 and Zac 14:21, the graduated distinction between the things which were more or less holy is brought prominently out. The pots in the sanctuary, which were used for boiling the sacrificial flesh, were regarded as much less holy than the sacrificial bowls in which the blood of the sacrificial animals was received, and out of which it was sprinkled or poured upon the altar. In the future these pots will be just as holy as the sacrificial bowls; and indeed not merely the boiling pots in the temple, but all the boiling pots in Jerusalem and Judah, which have hitherto been only clean and not holy, so that men will use them at pleasure for boiling the sacrificial flesh. In this priestly-levitical drapery the thought is expressed, that in the perfected kingdom of God not only will everything without exception be holy, but all will be equally holy. The distinction between holy and profane can only cease, however, when the sin and moral defilement which first evoked this distinction, and made it necessary that the things intended for the service of God should be set apart, and receive a special consecration, have been entirely removed and wiped away. To remove this distinction, to prepare the way for the cleansing away of sin, and to sanctify once more that which sin had desecrated, was the object of the sacred institutions appointed by God. To this end Israel was separated from the nations of the earth; and in order to train it up as a holy nation, and to secure the object described, a law was given to it, in which the distinction between holy and profane ran through all the relations of life. And this goal will be eventually reached by the people of God; and sin with all its consequences be cleansed away by the judgment. In the perfected kingdom of God there will be no more sinners, but only such as are righteous and holy. This is affirmed in the last clause: there will be no Canaanite any more in the house of Jehovah. The Canaanites are mentioned here, not as merchants, as in Zep 1:11; Hos 12:8 (as Jonathan, Aquila, and others suppose), but as a people laden with sin, and under the curse (Gen 9:25; Lev 18:24.; Deu 7:2; Deu 9:4, etc.), which has been exterminated by the judgment. In this sense, as the expression לא עוד implies, the term Canaanite is used to denote the godless members of the covenant nation, who came to the temple with sacrifices, in outward self-righteousness. As עוד presupposes that there were Canaanites in the temple of Jehovah in the time of the prophet, the reference cannot be to actual Canaanites, because they were prohibited by the law from entering the temple, but only to Israelites, who were Canaanites in heart. Compare Isa 1:10, where the princes of Judah are called princes of Sodom (Eze 16:3; Eze 44:9). The "house of Jehovah" is the temple, as in the preceding verse, and not the church of Jehovah, as in Zac 9:8, although at the time of the completion of the kingdom of God the distinction between Jerusalem and the temple will have ceased, and the whole of the holy city, yea, the whole of the kingdom of God, will be transformed by the Lord into a holy of holies (see Rev 21:22, Rev 21:27).
Thus does our prophecy close with a prospect of the completion of the kingdom of God in glory. All believing commentators are agreed that the final fulfilment of Zac 14:20 and Zac 14:21 lies before us in Rev 21:27 and Rev 22:15, and that even Zac 12:1-14 neither refers to the Chaldaean catastrophe nor to the Maccabaean wars, but to the Messianic times, however they may differ from one another in relation to the historical events which the prophecy foretels. Hofmann and Koehler, as well as Ebrard and Kliefoth, start with the assumption, that the prophecy in ch. 12-14 strikes in where the preceding one in ch. 9-11 terminates; that is to say, that it commences with the time when Israel was given up to the power of the fourth empire, on account of its rejection of the good shepherd, who appeared in Christ. Now since Hofmann and Koehler understand by Israel only the chosen people of the old covenant, or the Jewish nation, and by Jerusalem the capital of this nation in Palestine, they find this prophecy in Zac 12:1-14, that when Jehovah shall eventually bring to pass the punishment of the bad shepherd, i.e., of the imperial power, with its hostility to God, it will assemble together again in its members the nations of the earth, to make war upon the material Jerusalem and Israel, which has returned again from its dispersion in all the world into the possession of the holy land (Palestine), and will besiege the holy city; but it will there be smitten by Jehovah, and lose its power over Israel. At that time will Jehovah also bring the previous hardening of Israel to an end, open its eyes to its sin against the Saviour it has put to death, and effect its conversion. But they differ in opinion as to ch. 14. According to Koehler, this chapter refers to a future which is still in the distance - to a siege and conquest of Jerusalem which are to take place after Israel's conversion, through which the immediate personal appearance of Jehovah will be brought to pass, and all the effects by which that appearance is necessarily accompanied. According to Hofmann (Schriftbeweis, ii. p. 610ff.), Zac 14:1. refers to the same occurrence as Zac 12:2., with this simple difference, that in Zac 12:1-14 the prophet states what that day, in which the whole of the world of nations attacks Jerusalem, will do with the people of God, and in ch. 14 to what extremity it will be brought. Ebrard and Kliefoth, on the other hand, understand by Israel, with its capital Jerusalem, and the house of David (in Zechariah 12:1-13:6), rebellious Judaism after the rejection of the Messiah; and by Judah with its princes, Christendom. Hence the prophecy in this section announces what calamities will happen to Israel according to the flesh - that has become rebellious through rejecting the Messiah - from the first coming of Christ onwards, until its ultimate conversion after the fulness of the Gentiles has come in.
(Note: Kliefoth accordingly finds the siege of Jerusalem, predicted in Zac 12:2, fulfilled in the siege of that city by Titus. The besieging nations then drank the reeling-cup; for the subjection of Judah was the last act in the victory of the Roman empire over the Macedonian. Rome was then at the summit of its imperial greatness; and from that time forth it became reeling and weak. This weakening was indeed prepared and effected through the Christina church; but it was just the siege of Jerusalem which transferred the centre of the Christian church from Jerusalem to the Roman empire. The fulfilment of Zac 12:3 is to be found in the Crusades, the Oriental question, the Haute Finance, and the Emancipation of the Jews. Jerusalem has thus become a burden-stone for all nations, etc.)
The section Zac 13:7-9 (the smiting of the shepherd) does not refer to the crucifixion of Christ, because this did not lead to the consequences indicated in Zac 13:8, so far as the whole earth was concerned, but to the "cutting off of the Messiah" predicted in Dan 9:26, the great apostasy which forms the beginning of the end, according to Luk 17:25; Th2 2:3; Ti1 4:1, and Ti1 4:2 Time. Zac 3:1, and through which Christ in His church is, according to the description in Rev 13:17, so cut off from historical life, that it cannot be anything on earth. Lastly, ch. 14 treats of the end of the world and the general judgment.
Of these two views, we cannot look upon either as well founded. For, in the first place, the assumption common to the two, and with which they set out, is erroneous and untenable, - namely, that the prophecy in ch. 12ff. strikes in where the previous one in ch. 9-11 terminated, and therefore that ch. 12-14 is a direct continuation of ch. 9-11. This assumption is at variance not only with the relation in which the two prophecies stand to one another, as indicated by the correspondence in their headings, and as unfolded in Zac 12:1, Zac 12:2, but also with the essence of the prophecy, inasmuch as it is not a historical prediction of the future according to its successive development, but simply a spiritual intuition effected by inspiration, in which only the leading features of the form which the kingdom of God would hereafter assume are set forth, and that in figures drawn from the circumstances of the present and the past. Again, the two views can only be carried out by forcing the text. If the prophecy in Zac 12:1-14 started with the period when Israel came into power of the Roman empire after the rejection of the Messiah, it could not leap so abruptly to the last days, as Hofmann and Koehler assume, and commence with the description of a victorious conflict on the part of Israel against the nations of the world that were besieging Jerusalem, but would certainly first of all predict, if not the destruction of the Jewish nation by the Romans (which is merely indicated in ch. 11), at all events the gathering together of the Jews, who had been scattered by the Romans over all the world, into Palestine and Jerusalem, before an attack of the nations of the world upon Israel could possibly be spoken of. Moreover, even the difference between Hofmann and Koehler with regard to the relation between Zac 12:1-9 and Zac 14:1-5 shows that the transference of the whole to the last times cannot be reconciled with the words of these sections. The hypothesis of Koehler, that after the gathering together of Israel out of its dispersion, the nations of the world would make an attack upon Jerusalem in which they would be defeated, and that this conflict would for the first time bring Israel to the recognition of its guilt in putting Christ to death, is at variance with the whole of the prophecy and teaching of both the Old and New Testaments. For, according to these, Israel is not to be gathered together from its dispersion among the nations till it shall return with penitence to Jehovah, whom it has rejected. But Hofmann's statement as to the relation between the two sections is so brief and obscure, that it is more like a concealment than a clearing up of the difficulties which it contains. Lastly, when Hofmann correctly observes, that "by the Israel of the heading in Zac 12:1 we can only understand the people of God, in contradistinction to the world of nations, which is estranged from God," this cannot apply to the unbelieving Jews, who have been given into the power of the last empire on account of their rejection of Christ, or Israel according to the flesh, for that Israel is rejected by God. The people of God exists, since the rejection of Christ, only in Christendom, which has been formed out of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, or the church of the New Testament, the stem and kernel of which were that portion of Israel which believingly accepted the Messiah when He appeared, and into whose bosom the believing Gentile peoples were received. Ebrard and Kliefoth are therefore perfectly right in their rejection of the Jewish chiliasm of Hofmann and Koehler; but when they understand by the Israel of the heading belonging to ch. 12-14, which we find in Zac 12:1-9, only the unbelieving carnal Israel, and by that in ch. 14 the believing Israel which has been converted to Christ, and also introduce into Zac 12:1-9 an antithesis between Israel and Judah, and then understand by Jerusalem and the house of David in Zac 12:1-14 the hardened Jews, and by Judah, Christendom; and, on the other hand, by Jerusalem and Judah in ch. 14 the Christendom formed of believing Jews and believing Gentiles, - we have already shown at Zac 12:10 that these distinctions are arbitrarily forced upon the text.
Our prophecy treats in both parts - Zechariah 12:1-13:6 and ch. 13:7-14:21 - of Israel, the people of God, and indeed the people of the new covenant, which has grown out of the Israel that believed in Christ, and believers of the heathen nations incorporated into it, and refers not merely to the church of the new covenant in the last times, when all the old Israel will be liberated by the grace of God from the hardening inflicted upon it, and will be received again into the kingdom of God, and form a central point thereof (Vitringa, C. B. Mich., etc.), but to the whole development of the church of Christ from its first beginning till its completion at the second coming of the Lord, as Hengstenberg has in the main discovered and observed. As the Israel of the heading (Zac 12:1) denotes the people of God in contradistinction to the peoples of the world, the inhabitants of Jerusalem with the house of David, and Judah with its princes, as the representatives of Israel, are typical epithets applied to the representatives and members of the new covenant people, viz., the Christian church; and Jerusalem and Judah, as the inheritance of Israel, are types of the seats and territories of Christendom. The development of the new covenant nation, however, in conflict with the heathen world, and through the help of the Lord and His Spirit, until its glorious completion, is predicted in our oracle, not according to its successive historical course, but in such a manner that the first half announces how the church of the Lord victoriously defeats the attacks of the heathen world through the miraculous help of the Lord, and how in consequence of this victory it is increased by the fact that the hardened Israel comes more and more to the acknowledgment of its sin and to belief in the Messiah, whom it has put to death, and is incorporated into the church; whilst the second half, on the other hand, announces how, in consequence of the slaying of the Messiah, there falls upon the covenant nation a judgment through which two-thirds are exterminated, and the remainder is tested and refined by the Lord, so that, although many do indeed fall and perish in the conflicts with the nations of the world, the remnant is preserved, and in the last conflict will be miraculously delivered through the coming of the Lord, who will come with His saints to complete His kingdom in glory by the destruction of the enemies of His kingdom, and by the transformation and renewal of the earth. As the believing penitential look at the pierced One (Zac 12:10) will not take place for the first time at the ultimate conversion of Israel at the end of the days, but began on the day of Golgotha, and continues through all the centuries of the Christian church, so did the siege of Jerusalem by all nations (Zac 12:1-9), i.e., the attack of the heathen nations upon the church of God, commence even in the days of the apostles (cf. Act 4:25.), and continues through the whole history of the Christina church to the last great conflict which will immediately precede the return of our Lord to judgment. And again, just as the dispersion of the flock after the slaying of the shepherd commenced at the arrest and death of Christ, and the bringing back of the hand of the Lord upon the small ones at the resurrection of Christ, so have they both been repeated in every age of the Christian church, inasmuch as with every fresh and powerful exaltation of antichristian heathenism above the church of Christ, those who are weak in faith flee and are scattered; but as soon as the Lord shows Himself alive in His church again, they let Him gather them together once more. And this will continue, according to the word of the Lord in Mat 24:10., till the end of the days, when Satan will go out to deceive the nations in the four quarters of the earth, and to gather together Gog and Magog to battle against the camp of the saints and the holy city; whereupon the Lord from heaven will destroy the enemy, and perfect His kingdom in the heavenly Jerusalem (Rev).
So far as the relation between Zac 12:2-9 and Zac 14:1-5 is concerned, it is evident from the text of both these passages that they do not treat of two different attacks upon the church of God by the imperial power, occurring at different times; but that, whilst Zac 12:1-14 depicts the constantly repeated attack in the light of its successful overthrow, ch. 14 describes the hostile attack according to its partial success and final issue in the destruction of the powers that are hostile to God. This issue takes place, no doubt, only at the end of the course of this world, with the return of Christ to the last judgment; but the fact that Jerusalem is conquered and plundered, and the half of its population led away into captivity, proves indisputably that the siege of Jerusalem predicted in ch. 14 must not be restricted to the last attack of Antichrist upon the church of the Lord, but that all the hostile attacks of the heathen world upon the city of God are embraced in the one picture of a siege of Jerusalem. In the attack made upon Jerusalem by Gog and Magog, the city is not conquered and plundered, either according to Ezekiel 38 and 39, or according to Rev 20:7-9; but the enemy is destroyed by the immediate interposition of the Lord, without having got possession of the holy city. But to this ideal summary of the conflicts and victories of the nations of the world there is appended directly the picture of the final destruction of the ungodly power of the world, and the glorification of the kingdom of God; so that in Zechariah 14 (from vv. 6-21) there is predicted in Old Testament form the completion of the kingdom of God, which the Apostle John saw and described in Revelation in New Testament mode under the figure of the heavenly Jerusalem.