Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
And it came to pass in the fourth year of king Darius, that the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah in the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu;Chap. Zechariah 7:1-3. The Deputation and their Question
1. in the fourth year] This was nearly two years after Zechariah saw his visions (Zechariah 1:7), and about the same time before the completion of the Temple (Ezra 6:15). See General Introd. chap. II. p. 18.
Chisleu] Chislev. R. V.
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,2. when they had sent unto the house of God] Rather, And (or now) Bethel sent. “Now they of Bethel had sent.” R. V. Having announced the fact and the date of the word of Jehovah coming to him again in Zechariah 7:1, the prophet breaks off, as it were, to state the occasion of its coming in Zechariah 7:2-3—now, why it came was that Bethel sent, &c. Then in Zechariah 7:4 he resumes by repeating the phrase of Zechariah 7:1, “and (as I said) the word of the Lord came unto me,” and passes on to the message itself. We have a similar construction, with the repetition of the word “take” Zechariah 6:10-11. It is best to regard Bethel here as a proper name. It was one of the cities to which captives had returned (Ezra 2:1; Ezra 2:28, “every one unto his own city”), and from it the question here proposed emanated.
Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men] It is better to take these, as in A. V. and R. V., to be the deputation, or persons sent. It is possible, however, to render, when Bethel, viz. Sharezer, &c. sent (men). In that case Sharezer and Regem-melech would probably be the chief men of the city, their names being those which were given them in Babylon. For Sharezer comp. Isaiah 37:38; 2 Kings 19:37. Regemmelech has been supposed to be an official title and to signify, “friend of the king.”
to pray before] Lit. smooth or stroke the face of, i.e. propitiate or seek the favour of. Comp. chap. Zechariah 8:21-22; Exodus 32:11; Psalm 45:12. It is also used of imploring the favour of man, Job 11:19; Proverbs 19:6.
And to speak unto the priests which were in the house of the LORD of hosts, and to the prophets, saying, Should I weep in the fifth month, separating myself, as I have done these so many years?3. unto the priests] See Haggai 2:11 and note.
which were in] of R.V.
and to the prophets] i.e. Haggai and Zechariah.
Should I weep] Similarly the sing. num. is used of a community or nation, Numbers 20:18-19; Joshua 9:7, and elsewhere.
in the fifth month] 2 Kings 25:8-9; Jeremiah 52:12-13, from a comparison of which passages it appears that “from the seventh to the tenth day (of the fifth month) Jerusalem was in flames” (Pusey). While the Temple lay in ruins the Jews had marked this time by an annual fast. Now that it was being rebuilt the question naturally arose, should the fast be continued?
separating myself] Or, abstaining from meat and drink (Zechariah 7:5 with 6), and from all pleasure, Isaiah 58:5.
Then came the word of the LORD of hosts unto me, saying,
Speak unto all the people of the land, and to the priests, saying, When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh month, even those seventy years, did ye at all fast unto me, even to me?4–7. The Answer. First Section
5. seventh month] This fast appears to have been observed during the captivity, because in the seventh month “the murder of Gedaliah, whom the king of Babylon made governor of the land, completed the calamities of Jerusalem, in the voluntary but prohibited exile to Egypt, for fear lest the murder should be avenged on them.” Pusey. See 2 Kings 25:25-26; Jeremiah 41-43.
even to me] For the emphatic repetition of the pronoun comp. Haggai 1:4 and note.
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?6. did eat and … did drink] Rather, eat and drink, as R. V.
did not ye eat for yourselves, &c.?] Lit. is it not you who are eating, and you who are drinking? i.e. is it not simply an act terminating upon yourselves, which in no way affects Me? Comp. 1 Corinthians 8:8.
Should ye not hear the words which the LORD hath cried by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, and the cities thereof round about her, when men inhabited the south and the plain?7. Should ye not hear the words] Comp. Isaiah 58:3-7; 1 Samuel 15:22. To that old teaching it is that you have need to take heed and return. It was uttered in the time of your national prosperity. By neglecting it that prosperity was lost. Only by returning to it can it be regained.
the south and the plain] two of the three divisions of the territory of the tribe of Judah; the Negeb and the Shepçlah (or lowland, R. V.). Perhaps the third division, “the hill country,” Luke 1:39, is pointed at in the words, “Jerusalem and the cities thereof round about her.” Jdg 1:9; Obadiah 1:19 and note.
And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,8–11. The Answer. Second Section
8. the word of the Lord came] It is not necessary to suppose that there was a break, or interval of time, between the sections which are introduced by this formula. The frequent appeal to Jehovah, as the Author of their prophecies, is a characteristic of the post-captivity prophets. Comp. chap. 8 (in which the phrase “thus saith Jehovah,” or “Jehovah of hosts,” occurs thirteen times), Haggai 2:6, note.
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:9. thus speaketh] Rather, thus saith. Some would render, thus said the Lord of hosts, i.e. to your fathers by the former prophets (Zechariah 7:7), a summary of whose teaching is then given, Zechariah 7:9-10. But a comparison of Zechariah 8:1-2 sq. supports the rendering, thus saith, &c. always, to you now, as to your fathers of old. Let their disobedience and its consequences, Zechariah 7:11-14, be your warning. The rendering, Thus hath the Lord of hosts spoken, R. V., comes much to the same thing.
Execute true judgment] Lit. Judge judgment of truth. The phrase, judgment of truth, occurs only here and Ezekiel 18:8.
And oppress not the widow, nor the fatherless, the stranger, nor the poor; and let none of you imagine evil against his brother in your heart.
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.11. pulled away the shoulder] Nehemiah 9:29; Hosea 4:16.
stopped] Lit. made heavy, i.e. dull. Comp. Isaiah 6:10. The same word is used of the eyes, Genesis 48:10, and of the tongue, Exodus 4:10.
Yea, they made their hearts as an adamant stone, lest they should hear the law, and the words which the LORD of hosts hath sent in his spirit by the former prophets: therefore came a great wrath from the LORD of hosts.12. an adamant] perhaps diamond, “so called from its cutting and perforating (the original meaning of the word being a sharp point, or thorn), as the point of a stylus was made of diamonds, Jeremiah 17:1.” Gesen. “The stone, whatever it be, was hard enough to cut ineffaceable characters (Jeremiah 17:1): it was harder than flint (Ezekiel 3:9). It would cut rocks; it could not be graven itself, or receive the characters of God.” Pusey.
in his spirit] Rather, by His Spirit, as R. V. The preposition is the same as in the next clause, by the hand of His prophets. The Holy Ghost was the Divine Agent, the prophets were the human instruments. Comp. Nehemiah 9:30.
Therefore it is come to pass, that as he cried, and they would not hear; so they cried, and I would not hear, saith the LORD of hosts:
But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations whom they knew not. Thus the land was desolate after them, that no man passed through nor returned: for they laid the pleasant land desolate.14. with a whirlwind] Amos 1:14; Job 27:21.
whom they knew not] Deuteronomy 28:33; Jeremiah 16:13.
after them] i.e. after they are removed from it.
passed through nor returned] as we say, went backward and forward. Ezekiel 35:7. See note on Zechariah 9:8.
they laid] Either to be taken impersonally, it was laid; or they (the Jews) by their sins.