I lifted up mine eyes again, and looked, and behold a man with a measuring line in his hand.
Verses 1-13. - § 5. The third vision: the man with the measuring line. Verse 1. - (Hebrews 2:5.) I lifted up mine eyes again (comp. Zechariah 5:1; Zechariah 6:1; Daniel 8:3). This third vision makes a further revelation of God's mercy to Israel. Consequent on the destruction of enemies shall be the growth and development of the chosen people till the time of their final glory (comp. Zechariah 1:16). There is some difficulty in arranging the details of this vision, depending in great measure on the decision we arrive at with regard to the identification of the "young man" of ver. 4. Those who, as Theodoret, Hitzig, Schegg, Trcehon, Wright, Perowne, etc., consider him to be the man with the measuring line of ver. 1, do not explain why the message should be given to him instead of to the prophet who had asked for information. Nor is it at all certain that the measurer is meant to be regarded as having made a mistake in attempting to define the limits of what was practically unlimited - viz. the restored Jerusalem - and was stopped accordingly in his proceedings. It seems preferable, with Jerome, Cornelius a Lapide, Pusey, Keil, Knabenbauer, etc., to regard the "young man" as Zechariah himself. Then the vision is thus presented: The prophet sees a man with a measuring line; he asks whither he is going, and is answered that he was going forth to measure Jerusalem. Upon this the interpreting angel leaves the prophet's side to receive the explanation of the man's proceedings, and is met by a superior angel, who bids him hasten to tell the prophet the meaning of the vision. A man. Probably an angel in human form, as Zechariah 1:8. A measuring line. This is not the same word as that in Zechariah 1:16; but the idea there proposed is taken up here, and its fulfilment is set forth (comp. Ezekiel 11:3; Revelation 11:1; Revelation 21:15, 16).
Then said I, Whither goest thou? And he said unto me, To measure Jerusalem, to see what is the breadth thereof, and what is the length thereof.
Verse 2. - What is the breadth thereof. The man measures to see what shall be the dimensions of the restored city, for from ver. 12 it is apparent that the building is not yet completed, nor are we to think that the rebuilding of the material ruined walls is meant.
And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him,
Verse 3. - Went forth. The interpreting angel leaves the prophet, and goes away to meet another angel who advances from the opposite side. Septuagint, εἰστήκει, "stood." Another angel went out; went forth, the word being the same as before. This latter angel, sent by God with a revelation, is superior to the interpreter, as the latter receives the message from him to deliver to the prophet.
And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein:
Verse 4. - And said unto him; i.e. the second angel said to the interpreter. Run. He was to hasten and deliver the message, because it was a joyful one and calculated to allay the prophet's solicitude. This young man. The Prophet Zechariah. The term applied to him is thought to show that he was still young when the vision appeared; but the word is used also for minister, or servant, or disciple, without necessarily defining the age. Others, not so suitably, consider that the measuring angel is meant, who is thus stopped in his intention of measuring Jerusalem, as being ignorant of God's counsels. Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls. Jerusalem shall be as open villages in a plain country. The word perazoth is used in Ezekiel 38:11, meaning "unwalled villages" where men dwelt "without walls, having neither bars nor gates." So Esther 9:19, where it means, "country towns," in contrast to the metropolis, which was walled and fortified. The idea in the text is that Jerusalem in the future shall be so extended that walls shall no longer contain its inhabitants, but they shall spread themselves in the open country on every side. It is certain that the city did greatly increase in after time, if we may believe Aristeas's account in his famous letter to his brother Philocrates; and the annunciation of this prosperity would be a comfort to the prophet (comp. Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 5:04, 2). But no material increase of this nature satisfies the prophecy, which can only have its fulfilment in the spiritual Jerusalem, whose Builder is Christ, in whose light the nations of them that are saved shall walk (Revelation 21:24; see Isaiah 49:18, etc.; Isaiah 54:2, 3). This open condition implies not only extent, but peace and safety also. The reason of this quiet security is given in the next verse. Septuagint, Κατακάρπως κατοικηθήσεται Ἰερουσαλὴμ, "Jerusalem shall be abundantly inhabited."
For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her.
Verse 5. - A wall of fire. She will not need walls. God will be her protection, not only defending her from attack, but consuming the enemy who may presume to assault her (comp. Deuteronomy 4:24; Psalm 68:2). The glory; εἰς δόξαν ἔσομαι (Septuagint). God will make his glory conspicuous by the mighty deeds he will do in Jerusalem and the providential care he will take of her. He shall be known to be dwelling there, as he revealed his presence by the pillar of fire and the Shechinah (comp. Isaiah 60:1, 2, 19).
Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.
Verse 6. - The superior angel of ver. 4 continues to speak. He calls on all the Hebrews still in dispersion to come and share this glorious state and escape the punishment which was about to fall upon the hostile kingdom. The exaltation of Jerusalem is connected with the downfall of her enemies. Ho, ho, come forth, and flee; Hebrew, "Ho, ho I and flee," or, "flee thou" (comp. Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 51:6, 45.) A great number of the exiles had remained in Babylonia, having established themselves there, according to the injunction in Jeremiah 29:5, etc., and grown rich. These people had refused to exchange their present prosperity for the doubtful future offered by a return to their desolate native land. But they are now called upon to "flee" from the danger that menaced the country of their adoption. Babylon is said to have been twice taken in the reign of Darius (see note on ver. 7). The land of the north; i.e. Babylonia (comp. Jeremiah 1:14; Jeremiah 4:6; Jeremiah 23:8). We should have nailed the Babylonians an Eastern people if we had dwelt in Palestine; but they always invaded this land from the north, and the great caravan route entered the country from the same quarter, so they were deemed to he a northern power. I have spread you abroad as the four winds (Ezekiel 17:21). The Jews had been dispersed through all parts of the extensive Babylonian empire, and that with a violence which is compared to the force of the combined winds of heaven. Keil, Wright, and others regard the words as a promise of future extension only to be obtained by a return to the promised land, translating, "I will spread you," the perfect of the text being taken to express prophetic certainty. But it is surely incongruous to comfort the dispersed Jews by the promise of a still wider dispersion. This appears to be as erroneous as the Septuagint rendering of the verb, συνάξω, "I will gather."
Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.
Verse 7. - Deliver thyself. Escape from the danger. O Zion. The exiled Jews are thus designated. Septuagint, Αἰς Σιὼν ἀνασώζεσθε "Go to Zion, and save yourselves." That dwellest (thou that dwellest) with the daughter of Babylon. The inhabitants of Babylon are called "the daughter of Babylon," in analogy with the common phrases, "the daughter of Zion," "the daughter of Jerusalem" (comp. Jeremiah 46:19). There is soma reproach implied in the clause, as if these Jews were content to dwell and remain in this heathen city. The immediate danger that menaced Babylon arose from two severe rebellions, in the course of which the city was twice taken. The first revolt was headed by Nidinta-Bel, B.C. 519, who was slain by Darius at Babylon. The second took place under Arakha, B.C. 514; he was defeated by a general of Darius, named Intaphernes, taken prisoner and crucified. A record of these occurrences is found in Darius's inscription on the rock at Behlstun, translated in 'Records of the Past,' vol. 1. The merciless Persians would doubtless treat the inhabitants of the captured city with their wonted cruelty.
For thus saith the LORD of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
Verse 8. - After the glory hath he sent me. After glory (there is no article in the original), i.e. to win honour, hath Jehovah sent me - the superior angel who speaks. As the words, "thus saith the Lord," precede, we should have expected, "have I sent thee," but such change of persons, and indirect address, are common in Hebrew (comp. Zechariah 14:5). The angel is sent to get glory over the heathen by taking vengeance on them (comp. Exodus 14:18). Such judgments are often represented to be inflicted by angelic agency (Genesis 19:13; 2 Kings 19:35; Ezekiel 9.) The apple of his eye. The language is human. Israel is very precious to God; and they who vex and harass him are as they who hurt that which God prizes inestimably, and which a mere touch offends and injures. The word rendered "apple" is usually considered in mean "aperture," or "gate," the pupil being the entrance to the visual organ; but Dr. Wright regards it rather as a natural word of endearment, like the Latin, pupa, pupilla, indicating "a doll," "little maiden of the eye." Similar, though not identical, expressions occur in Deuteronomy 32:10; Proverbs 7:2; Psalm 17:8.
For, behold, I will shake mine hand upon them, and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me.
Verse 9. - I will shake mine hand upon (over) them. The angel reports Jehovah's message now in the first person, or speaks as the representative of Jehovah. The action of shaking the hand over a nation is one of menace (Job 31:21; Isaiah 11:15; Isaiah 19:16). Shall be a spoil to their servants; to their slaves, those who once served them. This was true only in a spiritual sense, when the nations were won over to the true faith (see ver. 11; and comp. Isaiah 14:2; Isaiah 49:22, etc.; Ezekiel 16:61). Septuagint, τοῖς δουλεύουσιν αὐτοῖς, "to them that serve them." Ye shall know, etc. (Zechariah 4:9; Zechariah 6:15). When this comes to pass, the Israelites shall recognize and own the Divine mission of God's messenger.
Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion: for, lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, saith the LORD.
Verse 10. - Sing and rejoice. The Jews released from Babylon, and the whole Jewish nation, are bidden to exult in the promised protection and presence of the Lord. Lo, I come; Septuagint, ἰδοὺ ἐγὼ ἔρχομαι, So Christ is called, ὁ ἐρχόμενος, "he that cometh" (Matthew 11:3). I will dwell in the midst of thee (Zechariah 8:3; Zechariah 9:9). Not merely the rebuilding of the temple is siginified, and the re-establisihment of the ordained worship (though without the Shechinah), but rather the incarnation of Christ and his perpetual presence in the Church. Κατασκηνώσω ἐν μέσῳ σου (Septuagint), which recalls John 1:14, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt (ἐσκήνωσεν) among us" (comp. Isaiah 12:6; Ezekiel 43:9; Ezekiel 48:35; Malachi 3:1).
And many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and shall be my people: and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto thee.
Verse 11. - Many nations shall be joined (shall join themselves) to the Lord; "shall fly for refuge unto the Lord" (Septuagint). My people; unto me for a people; Septuagint, "shall be unto him for a people" (comp. Zechariah 8:20). No mere conversion of individuals among the heathen satisfies this promise. Whole nations shall become the Lord's people. That title shall be shared with Israel by countless multitudes (comp, Isaiah 2:2, 3; Isaiah 11:10; Micah 4:2; Zephaniah 2:11), I will dwell, etc. The promise of ver. 10 is repeated for assurance' sake. The LXX. has, "And they shall dwell in the midst of thee." Thou shalt know (as ver. 9).
And the LORD shall inherit Judah his portion in the holy land, and shall choose Jerusalem again.
Verse 12 - Shall inherit Judah. The Lord, though it is true that many other nations shall be converted, shall take Judah (i.e. the whole Jewish nation) as his portion, in accordance with Deuteronomy 32:9. In the holy land. This expression is not found elsewhere applied to Judaea, nor is it to be confined to that nation here. Every land is holy where the Lord dwells. The conversion of the heathen should emanate from Judaea (Luke 24:47), and spread through all the world, and thus the earth should be holy ground. Shall choose Jerusalem again; Revised Version, "shall yet choose Jerusalem" (comp. Zechariah 1:17). This points to Christ as King of the spiritual Zion.
Be silent, O all flesh, before the LORD: for he is raised up out of his holy habitation.
Verse 13. - Be silent; hush (comp. Habakkuk 2:20; Zephaniah 1:7, and notes there). In the expectation of these mighty events, men are called upon to wait in awe and reverence. He is raised up; he hath arisen. He had seemed to sleep when he let his people be trodden down by the heathen; but now he, as it were, waketh and cometh from heaven, his holy habitation (Deuteronomy 26:15), to inflict the threatened judgment on the nations, and to succour his own people (comp. Psalm 44:23, etc.).