Zechariah 1:9
Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said to me, I will show you what these be.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 1:9-11. Then said I, O my Lord, what are these — What is the meaning of these appearances, or visions? And the angel that talked with me said — “This was another heavenly minister, sent, probably, to present the visions to the prophet’s imagination, as well as to explain them. Angelus comes et interpres, “an accompanying angel and interpreter.” And under his direction the prophet receives satisfactory information from the month of the first angel and his attendants.” — Blayney. I will show thee what these be — “I will cause that it shall be explained to thee by the angel who stands first among the myrtles. This may have been done by a sign given to that angel, or by words omitted in the relation.” — Newcome. And the man that stood among the myrtle-trees — This was an angel of an order superior to him mentioned in the preceding verse, who either prevents that angel, and takes upon him to return an answer to the prophet’s question, or else sends his answer to Zechariah by that angel, as Christ sent his revelation to St. John by an angel, Revelation 1:1. These are they whom the Lord hath sent — They are the messengers or ministering spirits of Jehovah. And they — The rest of the angels, implied at the end of Zechariah 1:8, and who came after the first; answered, We have walked to and fro through the earth — We have been diligent to execute that office which was allotted to us. And behold all the earth sitteth still, &c. — This must be understood here, and in many other places, in a restricted sense, for all the nations with whom the Jews had a connection. It means here chiefly the Persian empire, which enjoyed peace at that time. But the state of the Jews was unsettled: see Zechariah 1:16 : which circumstance gives occasion to the following intercession.1:7-17 The prophet saw a dark, shady grove, hidden by hills. This represented the low, melancholy condition of the Jewish church. A man like a warrior sat on a red horse, in the midst of this shady myrtle-grove. Though the church was in a low condition, Christ was present in the midst, ready to appear for the relief of his people. Behind him were angels ready to be employed by him, some in acts of judgment, others of mercy, others in mixed events. Would we know something of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, we must apply, not to angels, for they are themselves learners, but to Christ himself. He is ready to teach those humbly desirous to learn the things of God. The nations near Judea enjoyed peace at that time, but the state of the Jews was unsettled, which gave rise to the pleading that followed; but mercy must only be hoped for through Christ. His intercession for his church prevails. The Lord answered the Angel, this Angel of the covenant, with promises of mercy and deliverance. All the good words and comfortable words of the gospel we receive from Jesus Christ, as he received them from the Father, in answer to the prayer of his blood; and his ministers are to preach them to all the world. The earth sat still, and was at rest. It is not uncommon for the enemies of God to be at rest in sin, while his people are enduring correction, harassed by temptation, disquieted by fears of wrath, or groaning under oppression and persecution. Here are predictions which had reference to the revival of the Jews after the captivity, but those events were shadows of what shall take place in the church, after the oppression of the New Testament Babylon is ended.What are these? - He asks, not who, but what they import.

The angel that talked with me - Literally, "spake in me." The very rare expression seems meant to convey the thought of an inward speaking, whereby the words should be borne directly into the soul, without the intervention of the ordinary outward organs. God says to Moses, "If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, will make Myself known unto him in a vision, I will speak (literally) in him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so - In him will I speak mouth to mouth Numbers 12:6-9;" and Habakkuk says of the like inward teaching, "I will watch to see, what He will speak in me" . It is the characteristic title of one attendant-angel, who was God's expositor of the visions to Zechariah (Zechariah 1:13-14, Zechariah 1:19, (Zechariah 2:2 Hebrew) Zechariah 2:3; (7) Zechariah 4:1, Zechariah 4:4-5; Zechariah 5:5, Zechariah 5:10; Zechariah 6:4). Dionysius: "By his ministry God showed me things to come, in that that angel formed in the spirit and imaginative power of Zechariah phantasms or images of things which were foreshown him, and gave him to understand what those images signified."

9. the angel that talked with me—not the "man upon the red horse," as is evident from Zec 1:10, where he (the Divine Angel) is distinguished from the "angel that talked with me" (the phrase used of him, Zec 1:13, 14; Zec 2:3; 4:1, 4, 5; 5:5, 10; 6:4), that is, the interpreting angel. The Hebrew for "with me," or, "in me" (Nu 12:8), implies internal, intimate communication [Jerome].

show thee—reveal to thy mental vision.

Then; so soon as he had seen and observed. Said I; Zechariah.

O my Lord: this was Christ the Lord of hosts.

What are these? what is the meaning of these appearances or visions?

The angel; Christ, the Angel of the covenant; so I take this Angel, that promiseth to inform the prophet, to be the same that appears, a man on the red horse among the myrtles.

Then; so soon as he had seen and observed. Said I; Zechariah.

O my Lord: this was Christ the Lord of hosts.

What are these? what is the meaning of these appearances or visions?

The angel; Christ, the Angel of the covenant; so I take this Angel, that promiseth to inform the prophet, to be the same that appears, a man on the red horse among the myrtles. Then said I, O my Lord,.... These are the words of the Prophet Zechariah to the angel that showed him this vision:

what are these? what is the meaning of this vision? particularly who are meant by the horses, red, speckled, and white, and those upon them?

And the angel that talked with me; who seems to be different from the Angel of the Lord, the man among the myrtle trees, Zechariah 1:8 he was one of the ministering spirits; see Revelation 17:1,

said unto me, I will show thee what these be; that is, give an interpretation of the vision, and point out the persons intended by the horses.

Then said I, O my lord, what are these? And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. O my lord] This question is addressed to the interpreting angel, of whose presence we are for the first time made aware by the fact that he replies to it.

the angel that talked with me] This is the title by which this angel is distinguished throughout the visions: Zechariah 1:13-14 (where the A. V. has “communed with me”), 19, Zechariah 2:3, Zechariah 4:1; Zechariah 4:4-5, Zechariah 5:10, Zechariah 6:4. The phrase has been variously interpreted. Some would render “in me,” “in that that angel formed in the spirit and imaginative power of Zechariah phantasms or images of things which were foreshown him, and gave him to understand what those images signified.” Others take it to mean “by me,” “the prophet being the channel through whom the divine revelations were made.” But there is no reason to depart from the rendering of the A. V., which accurately describes the office of the angel as actually discharged by him in explaining the visions, and which is supported by Hebrew usage. Comp. Numbers 12:8, where it is difficult to understand how God should speak “face to face,” either “in,” or “by,” a man.Verse 9. - O my lord. The prophet speaks to the angel of the Lord, who answers briefly, and is succeeded by the interpreting angel. What are these? Not "who," but "what;" i.e. what do they signify? (comp. Amos 7:8). That talked with me; literally, as the LXX. and Vulgate, that spake in me. So vers. 13, 14, and in the following visions. Hence some regard the expression as intimating a communication berne inwardly to the soul without the aid of external organs, or that the angel overpowered and influenced the prophet as the evil spirit possessed the demoniac. But the same term is used, as Dr. Wright points out, in the sense of to commune with a person (Numbers 12:6, 8; 1 Samuel 25:39), and to speak to a person (Hosea 1:2; and perhaps Habakkuk 2:1). It may, however, be that the angel of the Lord presented matters objectively, and the prophet's own angel interpreted subjectively. But the Authorized Version is probably correct. I will show thee. This he does through the chief angel (ver. 10). Announcement of this work. - Habakkuk 1:6. "For, behold, I cause the Chaldaeans to rise up, the fierce and vehement nation, which marches along the breadths of the earth, to take possession of dwelling-places that are not its own. Habakkuk 1:7. It is alarming and fearful: its right and its eminence go forth from it. Habakkuk 1:8. And its horses are swifter than leopards, and more sudden than evening wolves: and its horsemen spring along; and its horsemen, they come from afar; they fly hither, hastening like an eagle to devour. Habakkuk 1:9. It comes all at once for wickedness; the endeavour of their faces is directed forwards, and it gathers prisoners together like sand. Habakkuk 1:10. And it, kings it scoffs at, and princes are laughter to it; it laughs at every stronghold, and heaps up sand, and takes it. Habakkuk 1:11. Then it passes along, a wind, and comes hither and offends: this its strength is its god." הנני מקים, ecce suscitaturus sum. הנּה before the participle always refers to the future. הקים, to cause to stand up or appear, does not apply to the elevation of the Chaldaeans into a nation or a conquering people, - for the picture which follows and is defined by the article הגּויו וגו presupposes that it already exists as a conquering people, - but to its being raised up against Judah, so that it is equivalent to מקים עליכם in Amos 6:14 (cf. Micah 5:4; 2 Samuel 12:11, etc.). Hakkasdı̄m, the Chaldaeans, sprang, according to Genesis 22:22, from Kesed the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham; so that they were a Semitic race. They dwelt from time immemorial in Babylonia or Mesopotamia, and are called a primeval people, gōI mē‛ōlâm, in Jeremiah 5:15. Abram migrated to Canaan from Ur of the Chaldees, from the other side of the river (Euphrates: Genesis 11:28, Genesis 11:31, compared with Joshua 24:2); and the Kasdı̄m in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are inhabitants of Babel or Babylonia (Isaiah 43:14; Isaiah 47:1; Isaiah 48:14, Isaiah 48:20; Jeremiah 21:9; Jeremiah 32:4, Jeremiah 32:24, etc.; Ezekiel 23:23). Babylonia is called 'erets Kasdı̄m (Jeremiah 24:5; Jeremiah 25:12; Ezekiel 12:13), or simply Kasdı̄m (Jeremiah 50:10; Jeremiah 51:24, Jeremiah 51:35; Ezekiel 26:29; Ezekiel 23:16). The modern hypothesis, that the Chaldaeans were first of all transplanted by the Assyrians from the northern border mountains of Armenia, Media, and Assyria to Babylonia, and that having settled there, they afterwards grew into a cultivated people, and as a conquering nation exerted great influence in the history of the world, simply rests upon a most precarious interpretation of an obscure passage in Isaiah (Isaiah 23:18), and has no higher value than the opinion of the latest Assyriologists that the Chaldaeans are a people of Tatar origin, who mingled with the Shemites of the countries bordering upon the Euphrates and Tigris (see Delitzsch on Isaiah 23:13). Habakkuk describes this people as mar, bitter, or rough, and, when used to denote a disposition, fierce (mar nephesh, Judges 18:25; 2 Samuel 17:8); and nimhâr, heedless or rash (Isaiah 32:4), here violent, and as moving along the breadths of the earth (ἑπὶ τὰ πλάτη τῆς γῆς, lxx: cf. Revelation 20:9), i.e., marching through the whole extent of the earth (Isaiah 8:8): terram quam late patet (Ros.). ל is not used here to denote the direction or the goal, but the space, as in Genesis 13:17 (Hitzig, Delitzsch). To take possession of dwelling-laces that are not his own (לא־לו equals אשׁר לא־לו), i.e., to take possession of foreign lands that do not belong to him. In Habakkuk 1:7 the fierce disposition of this people is still further depicted, and in Habakkuk 1:8 the violence with which it advances. אים, formidabilis, exciting terror; נורא, metuendus, creating alarm. ממּנּוּ וגו, from it, not from God (cf. Psalm 17:2), does its right proceed, i.e., it determines right, and the rule of its conduct, according to its own standard; and שׂאתו, its eminence (Genesis 49:3; Hosea 13:1), "its δόξα (1 Corinthians 11:7) above all other nations" (Hitzig), making itself lord through the might of its arms. Its horses are lighter, i.e., swifter of foot, than panthers, which spring with the greatest rapidity upon their prey (for proofs of the swiftness of the panther, see Bochart, Hieroz. ii. p. 104, ed. Ros.), and חדּוּ, lit., sharper, i.e., shooting sharply upon it. As qâlal represents swiftness as a light rapid movement, which hardly touches the ground, so châda, ὀξὺν εἶναι, describes it as a hasty precipitate dash upon a certain object (Delitzsch). The first clause of this verse has been repeated by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 4:13), with the alteration of one letter (viz., מנּשׁרים for מנּמרים). Wolves of the evening (cf. Zephaniah 3:3) are wolves which go out in the evening in search of prey, after having fasted through the day, not "wolves of Arabia (ערב equals ערב, lxx) or of the desert" (ערבה Kimchi).

Pâshū from pūsh, after the Arabic fâš, med. Ye, to strut proudly; when used of a horse and its rider, to spring along, to gallop; or of a calf, to hop or jump (Jeremiah 50:11; Malachi 4:2). The connection between this and pūsh (Nahum 3:18), niphal to disperse or scatter one's self, is questionable. Delitzsch (on Job 35:15) derives pūsh in this verse and the passage cited from Arab. fâš, med. Vav, in the sense of swimming upon the top, and apparently traces pūsh in Nahum 3, as well as pash in Job 35:15, to Arab. fšš (when used of water: to overflow its dam); whilst Freytag (in the Lexicon) gives, as the meaning of Arab. fšš II, dissolvit, dissipavit. Pârâshı̄m are horsemen, not riding-horses. The repetition of פּרשׁיו does not warrant our erasing the words וּפשׁוּ פּרשׁיו as a gloss, as Hitzig proposes. It can be explained very simply from the fact, that in the second hemistich Habakkuk passes from the general description of the Chaldaeans to a picture of their invasion of Judah. מרחוק , from afar, i.e., from Babylonia (cf. Isaiah 39:3). Their coming from afar, and the comparison of the rushing along of the Chaldaean horsemen to the flight of an eagle, points to the threat in Deuteronomy 28:49, "Jehovah shall bring against thee a nation from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth," which is now about to be fulfilled. Jeremiah frequently uses the same comparison when speaking of the Chaldaeans, viz., in Jeremiah 4:13; Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22, and Lamentations 4:19 (cf. 2 Samuel 1:23). The ἁπ. λεγ. מגמּה may mean a horde or crowd, after the Hebrew גם werbeH , and the Arabic jammah, or snorting, endeavouring, striving, after Arab. jmm and jâm, appetivit, in which case גמם would be connected with גמא, to swallow. But the first meaning does not suit פּניהם קדימה, whereas the second does. קדימה, not eastwards, but according to the primary meaning of קדם, to the front, forwards. Ewald renders it incorrectly: "the striving of their face is to storm, i.e., to mischief;" for qâdı̄m, the east wind, when used in the sense of storm, is a figurative expression for that which is vain and worthless (Hosea 12:2; cf. Job 15:2), but not for mischief. For ויּאסף, compare Genesis 41:49 and Zechariah 9:3; and for כּחול, like sand of the sea, Hosea 2:1. In Habakkuk 1:10 והוּא and הוּא are introduced, that the words בּמּלכים and לכל־מבצר, upon which the emphasis lies, may be placed first. It, the Chaldaean nation, scoffs at kings and princes, and every stronghold, i.e., it ridicules all the resistance that kings and princes offer to its advance, by putting forth their strength, as a perfectly fruitless attempt. Mischâq, the object of laughter. The words, it heaps up dust and takes it (the fortress), express the facility with which every fortress is conquered by it. To heap up dust: denoting the casting up an embankment for attack (2 Samuel 20:15, etc.). The feminine suffix attached to ילכּדהּ refers ad sensum to the idea of a city (עיר), implied in מבצר, the latter being equivalent to עיר מבצר in 1 Samuel 6:18; 2 Kings 3:19, etc. Thus will the Chaldaean continue incessantly to overthrow kings and conquer kingdoms with tempestuous rapidity, till he offends, by deifying his own power. With this gentle hint at the termination of his tyranny, the announcement of the judgment closes in Habakkuk 1:11. אז, there, i.e., in this appearance of his, as depicted in Habakkuk 1:6-10 : not "then," in which case Habakkuk 1:11 would affirm to what further enterprises the Chaldaeans would proceed after their rapidly and easily effected conquests. The perfects חלף and ויּעבור are used prophetically, representing the future as occurring already. חלף and עבר are used synonymously: to pass along and go further, used of the wind or tempest, as in Isaiah 21:1; here, as in Isaiah 8:8, of the hostile army overflowing the land; with this difference, however, that in Isaiah it is thought of as a stream of water, whereas here it is thought of as a tempest sweeping over the land. The subject to châlaph is not rūăch, but the Chaldaean (הוּא, Habakkuk 1:10); and rūăch is used appositionally, to denote the manner in which it passes along, viz., "like a tempestuous wind" (rūăch as in Job 30:15; Isaiah 7:2). ואשׁם is not a participle, but a perfect with Vav rel., expressing the consequence, "and so he offends." In what way is stated in the last clause, in which זוּ does not answer to the relative אשׁר, in the sense of "he whose power," but is placed demonstratively before the noun כּחו, like זה in Exodus 32:1; Joshua 9:12-13, and Isaiah 23:13 (cf. Ewald, 293, b), pointing back to the strength of the Chaldaean, which has been previously depicted in its intensive and extensive greatness (Delitzsch). This its power is god to it, i.e., it makes it into its god (for the thought, compare Job 12:6, and the words of the Assyrian in Isaiah 10:13). The ordinary explanation of the first hemistich is, on the other hand, untenable (then its courage becomes young again, or grows), since רוּח cannot stand for רוּחו, and עבר without an object given in the context cannot mean to overstep, i.e., to go beyond the proper measure.

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