Scofield Reference Notes
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;
ninth month, Chisleu i.e. December.
When they had sent unto the house of God Sherezer and Regemmelech, and their men, to pray before the LORD,
"They," i.e. of the captivity in Babylon. The mission of these Jews of the captivity concerned a fast day instituted by the Jews in commemoration of the destruction of Jerusalem, wholly of their own will, and without warrant from the word of God. In the beginning there was doubtless sincere contrition in the observance of the day; now it had become a mere ceremonial. The Jews of the dispersion would be rid of it, but seek authority from the priests. The whole matter, like much in modern pseudo-Christianity, was extra-Biblical, formal, and futile. Jehovah takes the occasion to send a divine message to the dispersion. That message is in five parts:
(1) Their fast was a mere religious form; they should rather have given heed to the "former prophets" (vs. 4-7; Cf. Isa 1:12 Mt 15:1-10
(2) they are told why their 70 years' prayer has not been answered (Zech 7:8-14); cf. Ps 66:18 Isa 1:14-17
(3) the unchanged purpose of Jehovah, and the blessing of Israel in the kingdom Zech 8:1-8 cf. a like order in Isa 1:24-31 2:1-4
(4) the messengers of the captivity are exhorted to hear the prophets of "these days," i.e, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, and to do justly; then all their fasts and feasts will become gladness and joy Zech 8:9-19.
(5) they are assured that Jerusalem is yet to be the religious centre of the earth Zech 8:20-23 Isa 2:1-3 Zech 14:16-21.
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?
Margin fifth month
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?
And when ye did eat, and when ye did drink, did not ye eat for yourselves, and drink for yourselves?
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?
And the word of the LORD came unto Zechariah, saying,
Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Execute true judgment, and shew mercy and compassions every man to his brother:
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.
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.
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.