Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,
Zec 8:1-23. Continuation of the Subject in the Seventh Chapter. After urging them to obedience by the fate of their fathers, he urges them to it by promises of coming prosperity.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
2. jealous for Zion—(Zec 1:14).
with great fury—against her oppressors.
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—that is, I am determined to return. My decree to that effect is gone forth.
Jerusalem … city of truth—that is, faithful to her God, who is the God of truth (Isa 1:21, 26; Joh 17:17). Never yet fully fulfilled, therefore still to be so.
the mountain of the Lord—(Isa 2:2, 3).
holy mountain—(Jer 31:23).
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. So tranquil and prosperous shall the nation be that wars shall no longer prematurely cut off the people: men and women shall reach advanced ages. The promise of long life was esteemed one of the greatest blessings in the Jewish theocracy with its temporal rewards of obedience (Ex 20:12; De 4:40). Hence this is a leading feature in millennial blessedness (Isa 65:20, 22).
for very age—literally, "for multitude of days."
And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
5. boys and girls playing—implying security and a numerous progeny, accounted a leading blessing among the Jews. Contrast Jer 6:11; 9:21.
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. However impossible these things just promised by Me seem to you, they are not so with God. The "remnant" that had returned from the captivity, beholding the city desolate and the walls and houses in ruins, could hardly believe what God promised. The expression "remnant" glances at their ingratitude in rating so low God's power, though they had experienced it so "marvellously" displayed in their restoration. A great source of unbelief is, men "limit" God's power by their own (Ps 78:19, 20, 41).
these days—"of small things" (Zec 4:10), when such great things promised seemed incredible. Maurer, after Jerome, translates, "in those days"; that is, if the thing which I promised to do in those days, seems "marvellous," &c.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
7. save my people from … east … west—that is, from every region (compare Ps 50:1; the "West" is literally, "the going down of the sun") to which they are scattered; they are now found especially in countries west of Jerusalem. The dispersion under Nebuchadnezzar was only to the east, namely, to Babylonia. The restoration, including a spiritual return to God (Zec 8:8), here foretold, must therefore be still future (Isa 11:11, 12; 43:5, 6; Eze 37:21; Am 9:14, 15; also Zec 13:9; Jer 30:22; 31:1, 33).
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—in good faith, both on their side and Mine: God being faithful to His everlasting covenant and enabling them by His Spirit to be faithful to Him.
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.
9-13. All adversities formerly attended them when neglecting to build the temple: but now God promises all blessings, as an encouragement to energy in the work.
hands … strong—be of courageous mind (2Sa 16:21), not merely in building, but in general, as having such bright prospects (Zec 8:13, &c.).
these days—the time that had elapsed between the prophet's having spoken "these words" and the time (Zec 8:10; compare Hag 2:15-19) when they set about in earnest restoring the temple.
the prophets—Haggai and Zechariah himself (Ezr 5:1, 2). The same prophets who promised prosperity at the foundation of the temple, now promised still greater blessings hereafter.
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. before these days—before the time in which ye again proceeded with the building of the temple (Zec 8:9), namely, at the time that the temple lay neglected.
no hire for man … beast—that is, no produce of the field to repay the labor of man and beast on it (Hag 1:6, 9, 10; 2:16).
neither … peace to him that went out or came in—(2Ch 15:5). No one could in safety do his business at home or abroad, in the city or in the country, whether going or returning.
because of the affliction—so sorely pressed were they by the foe outside. Maurer translates, "Because of the foe" (Ezr 4:1).
every one against … neighbour—There was internal discord, as well as foes from without.
But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
11. "But now that the temple has been built, I will not do as I had formerly done to those who returned from Babylon" [Jerome]. Henceforth I will bless you.
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. seed … prosperous—that is, shall not fair to yield abundantly (Ho 2:21, 22; Hag 2:19). Contrast with this verse Hag 1:6, 9-11; 2:16.
dew—especially beneficial in hot countries where rain is rare.
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—As the heathen have made you another name for "a curse," wishing to their foes as bad a lot as yours (Jer 24:9; 29:18); so your name shall be a formula of blessing, so that men shall say to their friend, May thy lot be as happy as that of Judah (Ge 48:20). Including also the idea of the Jews being a source of blessing to the Gentile nations (Mic 5:7; Zep 3:20). The distinct mention of "Judah" and "Israel" proves that the prophecy has not yet had its full accomplishment, as Israel (the ten tribes) has never yet been restored, though individuals of Israel returned with Judah.
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. I thought—I determined.
you—that is, your fathers, with whom ye are one; the Jewish Church of all ages being regarded as an organic whole (compare Hag 2:5; Mt 23:31, 32).
repented not—I changed not My purpose, because they changed not their mind (2Ch 36:16). With the froward God shows Himself froward (Ps 18:26). If the threatened punishment has been so unchangeably inflicted, much more will God surely give the promised blessing, which is so much more consonant to His nature (Jer 31:28).
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, 17. The promised blessings are connected with obedience. God's covenanted grace will lead those truly blessed by it to holiness, not licentiousness.
truth to … neighbour—not that the truth should not be spoken to foreigners too; but He makes it an aggravation of their sin, that they spared not even their brethren. Besides, and above all outward ordinances (Zec 7:3), God requires truth and justice.
judgment of … peace—Equitable decisions tend to allay feuds and produce peace.
gates—the place where courts of judicature in the East were held.
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.
17. all these … I hate—therefore ye too ought to hate them. Religion consists in conformity to God's nature, that we should love what God loves and hate what God hates.
And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,
18, 19. The prophet answers the query (Zec 7:3) as to the fast in the fifth month, by a reply applying to all their fasts: these are to be turned into days of rejoicing. So Jesus replied to His disciples when similarly consulting Him as to why fasting was not imposed by Him, as it was by John the Baptist. When the Sun of righteousness shines, tears are dried up (Mt 9:15). So hereafter (Isa 35:10).
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. fast of … fourth month—On the fourth month of the eleventh year of Zedekiah's reign, on the ninth day, Jerusalem was taken (Jer 39:2; 52:6, 7). It was therefore made a fast day.
fifth … seventh—(See on Zec 7:3; Zec 7:5).
tenth—On the tenth month and tenth day, in the ninth year of Zedekiah, the siege began (Jer 52:4).
therefore love the truth—or, "only love." English Version is better. God's blessing covenanted to Israel is not made to depend on Israel's goodness: but Israel's goodness should follow as the consequence of God's gracious promises (Zec 8:16, 17; Zec 7:9, 10). God will bless, but not those who harden themselves in sin.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:
20. (Isa 2:3; Mic 4:2).
Thus saith the Lord of hosts—a preface needed to assure the Jews, now disheartened by the perils surrounding them, and by the humble aspect of the temple. "Unlikely as what follows may seem to you, Jehovah of hosts, boundless in resources, saith it, therefore it shall be so." Just before Christ's coming, a feeling grew up among the heathen of the unsatisfactoriness of their systems of religion and philosophy; this disposed them favorably towards the religion of the Jew, so that proselytes embraced the worship of Jehovah from various parts of Asia; these again were predisposed to embrace Christianity when it was preached to them (Ac 2:9-12, 41). But the full accomplishment of the conversion of the Gentiles foretold here is reserved till "Jerusalem" (Zec 8:22) becomes the center of Christianized Jewry (Ro 11:12, 15).
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. Let us … I—manifesting zeal and love: converted themselves, they seek the conversion of others (So 1:4). To exhortation in general ("Let us go"), they add individual example ("I will go"). Or, the change from plural to singular implies that the general consent in religious earnestness leads each individual to decide for God.
go speedily—literally, "go, going"; implying intense earnestness.
pray—Hebrew, "entreat the face" (Zec 7:2); entreat His favor and grace.
Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
22. many … strong nations … in Jerusalem—In contrast to the few and weak Jews now building the temple and city, then such shall be their influence that many and strong nations shall come to worship Jehovah their God in Jerusalem (Isa 60:3; 66:23).
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—a definite number for an indefinite. So in Le 22:26; Nu 14:22.
of all languages of the nations—that is, of nations of all languages (compare Isa 66:18; Re 7:9).
take hold of the skirt—a gesture of suppliant entreaty as to a superior. Compare Isa 3:6; 4:1, on a different occasion. The Gentiles shall eagerly seek to share the religious privileges of the Jew. The skirt with a fringe and blue ribbon upon it (Nu 15:38; De 22:12) was a distinguishing badge of a Jew.
God is with you—the effect produced on unbelievers in entering the assemblies of the Church (1Co 14:25). But primarily, that produced on the nations in witnessing the deliverance of the Jews by Cyrus. Finally, that to be produced on the nations by the future grand interposition of Messiah in behalf of His people.