Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,Chap. Zechariah 8:1-17. The Answer. Third Section
1. Again] Rather, And. See Zechariah 7:8, note.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.2. Thus saith the Lord of hosts] “At each word and sentence, in which good things, for their greatness almost incredible, are promised, the prophet premises, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, as if he would say, Think not that what I pledge you are my own, and refuse me not credence as man. What I unfold are the promises of God.” Jerome, quoted by Pusey.
I was] Rather, I am. Comp. Zechariah 1:14, where the same tense is so rendered.
with great fury] i.e. against her enemies, as Zechariah 1:15.
Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.3. I am returned … and will dwell] A repetition of the promises Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 2:10.
a city of truth] Rather, The city of truth. Comp. Zechariah 8:16, Zephaniah 3:13; and by way of contrast, Nahum 3:1.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.4, 5. We read, as a fulfilment of this prophecy, that in the days of Simon, in the times of the Maccabees, “the ancient men sat all in the streets, communing together of good things” (1Ma 14:9); while our Lord alludes to the games of children in the market-place, as a familiar incident in His own days. Matthew 11:16-17.
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.6. in these days] Rather, in those days (as in R. V.), viz. in which it comes to pass. “It is in the day of the fulfilment, not of the anticipation, that they would seem marvellous in their eyes, as the Psalmist says, This is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes.” Pusey.
should it also be marvellous] Some would render, it shall also be marvellous, i.e. if in the eyes of those who in those days see the fair, prosperous city that has grown out of these blackened ruins, it is marvellous (as it will be), so shall it be also in My eyes. In other words, I Myself count it a marvellous work that I will achieve. It is better, however, to take this clause as a question, as in A. V. and R. V., and to understand it to mean, “the things that are impossible with men are possible with God.”
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;7. from the east country, and from the west country] Comp. Isaiah 43:5-6. The promise is larger than has yet been fulfilled.
And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.8. in truth and in righteousness] “These are the conditions of the covenant on both sides.” Speak. Comm.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.9. by the mouth] Rather, from the mouth. R. V.
the prophets, which were, &c.] Remember that “these words” of promise (e.g. Zechariah 8:3-8 supra) which you are hearing in “these days” are spoken to you by the same prophets who first urged you to the work, and whose earlier promises then made are already being fulfilled to you, Zechariah 8:10-11; Haggai 2:15-19.
that the temple might be built] Rather, even the temple, that it might he built, as R. V. This clause seems to be added to shew that it is not the first laying of the foundation, which was followed by no further progress (Ezra 3:10-12), but the vigorous resumption of the work, a second founding, as it were, with a view to building, in which “the prophets” (Ezra 5:1-2) bore so prominent a part, that is here referred to.
9–13. These verses, introduced by the phrase, Thus saith the Lord of hosts, and beginning and ending with the same words, Let your hands be strong, form one continuous exhortation to persevere in rebuilding the Temple. The exhortation is grounded upon a comparison of their condition, before and after the time when they began in earnest to build the house of the Lord. The improvement which had already taken place since that time should encourage them to go on building, cheered by fresh prophecies and promises from the mouth of the same prophets who had urged them to begin the work, and of Him whose messengers of good they were.
For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.10. these days] Rather, those days, in which you began to build again.
hire] i.e. return for his labour. See Haggai 1:6; Haggai 1:9-11.
the affliction] Rather, the adversary. Ezra 4:4.
every one against his neighbour] This was the third evil which prevailed—dearth, harassing by their enemies, their own dissensions—in those days when the Temple lay neglected.
But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.11. now I will not be] Rather, now (in this period since ye began to build) I am not. My attitude towards you is already changed.
the residue] Rather, the remnant, as in Zechariah 8:12, i.e. the returned captives. See Haggai 1:12, and note.
For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.12. the seed shall be prosperous] Lit. The seed of peace (there shall be). This gives a very good sense, when we remember that the Hebrew words here used have a wide meaning. Seed is not only that which is sown, but sometimes seed-time, or sowing (Genesis 8:22), sometimes produce or harvest (Job 39:12). Peace is prosperity and plenty. So that the words may be paraphrased, The processes of agriculture shall prosper. Another rendering, however, according to which this clause is in apposition with the words immediately following, The seed (or plant) of peace, namely, the vine, shall give, &c., has been strongly supported. The vine is then thought to be called “the seed of peace,” because “it can only flourish in peaceful times, and not when the land is laid waste by enemies.” But one fails to see how this is a peculiarity of the vine. It would seem to be equally true of corn and other products of the earth. Moreover, such an apposition destroys the balance of the three following clauses, which form a threefold expansion of the general statement with which the verse begins. In the Speaker’s Commentary it is said, “The vine is pre-eminently a plant of peace.” But in all the passages referred to in support of the assertion the fig-tree is associated with the vine. It is difficult, therefore, to see how the vine can be singled out as the plant of peace.
to possess] Lit. to inherit. Comp. ὁ νικῶν κληρονμήσει ταῦτα, Revelation 21:7.
And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.13. a curse … a blessing] Either, the object of cursing and blessing, as men cursed you before so now they shall bless you (Jeremiah 22:9); or a formula of imprecation or benediction, God make thee like them (Jeremiah 29:22; Genesis 48:20; Ruth 4:11-12).
heathen] nations, R. V.
house of Judah, and house of Israel] Not only the two tribes but the ten. This has never yet been fulfilled.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:14–17. “The ground upon which the promise rests is given in Zechariah 8:14-15, and it is closed in Zechariah 8:16-17, by the addition of the condition on which it is to be fulfilled.” Keil.
So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:16. the judgment of truth and peace] Rather, truth and the judgment of peace judge ye, as in R. V. margin. Jerusalem would indeed “be called a city of truth” (Zechariah 8:3), when alike in the private intercourse of her citizens (speak ye every one the truth to his neighbour), and in the public administration of justice (in your gates, Deuteronomy 25:7; Job 5:4), truth reigned supreme. The judgment of peace is righteous judgment, which alone secures peace.
“If ye judge righteousness, there will be peace between the parties in the lawsuit, according as our rabbies have said in a proverb of the children of men, ‘He that hath his coat taken from him by the tribunal, let him sing and go his way.’ And they have adduced in proof that verse, ‘And all this people shall also go to their place in peace’ (Exodus 18:23). ‘All the people,’ even he that is condemned in judgment. And our rabbies of blessed memory have interpreted, and the judgment of peace, of reconciliation, for it is said, ‘What sort of judgment is that in which there is peace? They answered, ‘That of arbitration.’ ” Kimchi (McCaul’s Trans.), quoted by Wright.
And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,18–23. The Answer. Fourth Section
In coming now to a direct answer to the question, out of which the whole prophecy arose, Almighty God enumerates not only the fast of the fifth month to which the question immediately referred (Zechariah 8:3), but three other fasts (one of which, the fast of the seventh month, had been already mentioned, Zechariah 7:5), which were all governed by the same general principles. All these, He promises, shall become seasons of joy.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.19. The fast of the fourth month] had been instituted, because on that day, under the extremity of famine, Jerusalem opened her gates to Nebuchadnezzar. Jeremiah 39:2-3; Jeremiah 52:6-7.
the fast of the tenth] The siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar commenced in that month. 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1.
therefore love] Lit. and (in order that this may happen to you, as the condition of the fulfilment of the promise), love truth and peace. Comp. Zechariah 8:16-17.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:20. people] Lit. peoples. Here probably the tribes of Israel (comp. Deuteronomy 33:3; Deuteronomy 33:19, where the word is used in that sense). In Zechariah 8:22, many peoples, refers to foreign nations, to whom the prophecy extends itself in that and the following verses.
20–23. The joyful change shall extend, in its influence, to the heathen nations of the world. Comp. Isaiah 2:2-3; Micah 4:1-2.
And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.21. speedily] Lit. come let us go, to go, which may merely express the earnestness of the exhortation. “Omnes una et magno studio.” Rosenm.
to pray before] or to entreat the favour, as in Zechariah 7:2.
I will go also] The response of one city to the invitation of another. In like manner the inhabitants of a city speak of themselves in the sing. number, 1 Samuel 5:10.
Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.23. ten men] i.e. a large number. Comp. Genesis 31:7; Leviticus 26:26; Numbers 14:22; Nehemiah 4:12.
take hold of the skirt] See Haggai 2:12, and comp. Isaiah 4:1.