Zechariah 14:12
And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 14:12-13. And this shall be the plague, &c. — Those that do not die in battle, nor fall by the hand of their brethren, shall be destroyed by famine, or consumption. Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet — They shall be miserably emaciated, even while they stand in arms ready to fight; or so suddenly, that they shall hardly have time to lie or sit down. And their eyes shall consume away in their holes — A dreadful and exemplary blindness shall seize them. A great tumult — That is, confusion; from the Lord — Hebrew, of the Lord, that is, one caused or permitted by him; shall be among them — Shall take place and prevail, as a punishment of their hostility to God’s church. Those that are confederated and combined against God and his people, will be justly separated, and set against one another; and their tumults raised against God will be avenged in tumult among themselves. And they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour — That is, they shall seek help from one another, but instead of helping they shall turn their arms against one another. And his hand shall rise up, &c. — The sum of the verse is, that intestine divisions and hostilities shall be added to the foregoing divine judgments.

14:8-15 Some consider that the progress of the gospel, beginning from Jerusalem, is referred to by the living waters flowing from that city. Neither shall the gospel and means of grace, nor the graces of the Spirit wrought in the hearts of believers by those means, ever fail, by reason either of the heat of persecution, or storms of temptation, or the blasts of any other affliction. Tremendous judgments appear to be foretold, to be sent upon those who should oppose the settlement of the Jews in their own land. How far they are to be understood literally, events alone can determine. The furious rage and malice which stir up men against each other, are faint shadows of the enmity which reigns among those who have perished in their sins. Even the inferior creatures often suffer for the sin of man, and in his plagues. Thus God will show his displeasure against sin.Again, upon the restoration of His people follows the destruction of His enemies. It shall, first and chiefly, be God's doing, not man's. "This shall be the plague." The word is used of direct infliction by pestilence, "wherewith the Lord shall smite all the people (peoples) that fought against Jerusalem." The awful description is of living corpses. Lap.: "The enemies of Jerusalem shall waste, not with fever or disease, but by a plague from God, so that, being sound, standing, living, in well-being, they should waste and consume away," as Isaiah speaks of the "carcasses of the men, that have transgressed against Me; for their worm shall not die - and they shall be an abhorring unto all flesh" Isaiah 66:24.

Their flesh shall consume away - Rather, "wasting away the flesh of each one." It is the act of God, in His individual justice to each one of all those multitudes gathered against Him. One by one, "their eyes," of which they said, "let our eye look on Zion" Micah 4:11, that is, with joy at its desolation, "shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue," wherewith they blasphemed God, "shall consume away in their mouths" (compare Psalm 12:3; Isaiah 36:15, Isaiah 36:18; Isaiah 37:3-4, Isaiah 37:17, Isaiah 37:23, Isaiah 37:29). Appalling, horrible, picture! "standing on their feet," yet their flesh mouldering away as in a grave-yard, their sightless balls decaying in their holes, the tongue putrefying in their mouth, a disgust to themselves and to others! Yet what, compared to the horrible inward decay of sin, whereby men "have a name that they live and are dead?" Revelation 3:1. Jerome: "Let us read Ecclesiastical histories, what Valerian, Decius, Diocletian, Maximian, what the savagest of all, Maximin, and lately Julian suffered, and then we shall prove by deeds, that the truth of prophecy was fulfilled in the letter also."

12. Punishment on the foe, the last Antichristian confederacy (Isa 59:18; 66:24; Eze 38:1-39:29; Re 19:17-21). A living death: the corruption (Ga 6:8) of death combined in ghastly union with the conscious sensibility of life. Sin will be felt by the sinner in all its loathsomeness, inseparably clinging to him as a festering, putrid body. That have fought against; maliciously to destroy, and waste, and extirpate Jerusalem; the ringleaders, especially such as Antiochus, Herod, &c.

Their flesh shall consume away; when they are fat, fleshy, and strong, their flesh or strength shall utterly perish.

While they stand on their feet; either in arms ready to fight, or so suddenly they shall not have time to sit down; a very sudden death is threatened to them.

Their eyes shall consume away in their holes; a dreadful and exemplary blindness shall seize them.

Their tongue shall consume away in their mouth; in which member, by strange judgments on them, some persecutors also have felt God’s hand.

And this shall be the plagues,.... This respects one or more, or all, of the seven plagues, which will be inflicted on the antichristian states, mentioned in Revelation 15:1,

wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; who have been the enemies and persecutors of his church; and with which plague or plagues they shall be utterly consumed and destroyed:

their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet; antichrist will be consumed with the breath of Christ's mouth; the flesh of the whore of Rome, which is her substance, shall be eaten and devoured by the kings of the earth; and her destruction will be in a moment, suddenly, and at unawares, as is here suggested; see 2 Thessalonians 2:8,

and their eyes shall consume away in their holes; the right eye of the idol shepherd shall be utterly dried up, and the kingdom of the beast will be full of darkness, Zechariah 11:17,

and their tongues shall consume away in their mouth; with which antichrist and his followers have blasphemed the name of God, his tabernacle, and his saints; and which they will gnaw for pain, when the plagues of God are inflicted on them, Revelation 13:5.

And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. the people] Lit. peoples, as R. V., i.e. nations.

their flesh] Lit. his flesh, i.e. the flesh of each one of them; and so, his eyes, his tongue; though, to show that the plague is at once individual and universal, it is at the end of the verse, “in their mouth”.

while they stand upon their feet] Lit. and he standing upon his feet. The plague comes upon them in a moment, as they stand in serried ranks before the holy city. “Appalling, horrible picture! standing on their feet, yet their flesh mouldering away, as in a graveyard, their sightless balls decaying in their holes, the tongue putrefying in their mouth, a disgust to themselves and to others.” Pusey.

holes] sockets, R. V.

12–15. The Destruction of Hostile Nations

The deliverance and prosperity of Jerusalem shall be accomplished by a terrible plague sent upon those who fought against her, Zechariah 14:12; and by a panic which shall cause them to slay one another, Zechariah 14:13, and also by the courage and prowess of Judah. The wealth of their enemies shall be the spoil of the Jews, Zechariah 14:14; while the consuming pestilence shall extend to all the cattle in the hostile camp, Zechariah 14:15.

Verses 12-15. - § 8. Having noted the blessings on the true Israelites, the prophet gives further details concerning the destruction of the enemies: they shall perish by plague, by mutual slaughter, by the sword of Judah. Verse 12. - This shall be the plague. These are the instruments which the Lord uses when he fights against the nations (not the people, as in the Authorized Version), ver. 3. The plague, or smiting (maggephah), is some contagions affliction sent by God, as in Exodus 9:14; Numbers 14:37; 1 Samuel 6:4. Their. It is, in the Hebrew, "his flesh, his feet," etc., to show that the general plague extends to every individual. In the last clause the plural is used, "their mouth." With body, eye, and tongue they opposed the holy city, and took pleasure in its discomfiture: in all their members they shall suffer retributive punishment. While they stand upon their feet. The flesh of each shall putrefy and moulder away, while he is still alive and arrayed against the city of God. Holes; soakers. The eyes had spied out the weak places in the defence, and looked with malicious pleasure on the defeat and fall. Tongue. They had blasphemed God, and cried against his holy place, "Down with it, even to the ground!" Zechariah 14:12Punishment of the hostile nations. - Zechariah 14:12. "And this will be the stroke wherewith Jehovah will smite all the nations which have made war upon Jerusalem: its flesh will rot while it stands upon its feet, and its eyes will rot in their sockets, and its tongue will rot in their mouth. Zechariah 14:13. And it will come to pass in that day, the confusion from Jehovah will be great among them, and they will lay hold of one another's hand, and his hand will rise up against the hand of his neighbour. Zechariah 14:14. And Judah will also fight at Jerusalem, and the riches of all nations will be gathered together round about, gold and silver and clothes in great abundance. Zechariah 14:15. And so will be the stroke of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the cattle, that shall be in the same tents, like this stroke." To the description of the salvation there is appended here as the obverse side the execution of the punishment upon the foe, which was only indicated in Zechariah 14:3. The nations which made war against Jerusalem shall be destroyed partly by the rotting away of their bodies even while they are alive (Zechariah 14:12), partly by mutual destruction(Zechariah 14:13), and partly by Judah's fighting against them (Zechariah 14:14). To express the idea of their utter destruction, all the different kinds of plagues and strokes by which nations can be destroyed are grouped together. In the first rank we have two extraordinary strokes inflicted upon them by God. Maggēphâh always denotes a plague or punishment sent by God (Exodus 9:14; Numbers 14:37; 1 Samuel 6:4). המק, the inf. abs. hiphil in the place of the finite verb: "He (Jehovah) makes its flesh rot while it stands upon its feet," i.e., He causes putrefaction to take place even while the body is alive. The singular suffixes are to be taken distributively: the flesh of every nation or every foe. To strengthen the threat there is added the rotting of the eyes which spied out the nakednesses of the city of God, and of the tongue which blasphemed God and His people (cf. Isaiah 37:6). The other kind of destruction is effected by a panic terror, through which the foes are thrown into confusion, so that they turn their weapons against one another and destroy one another, - an occurrence of which several examples are furnished by the Israelitish history (compare Judges 7:22; 1 Samuel 14:20, and especially that in 2 Chronicles 20:23, in the reign of Jehoshaphat, to which the description given by our prophet refers). The grasp of the other's hand is a hostile one in this case, the object being to seize him, and, having lifted his hand, to strike him dead. Zechariah 14:14 is translated by Luther and many others, after the Targum and Vulgate, "Judah will fight against Jerusalem," on the ground that נלחם ב generally signifies "to fight against a person." But this by no means suits the context here, since those who fight against Jerusalem are "all the heathen" (Zechariah 14:2), and nothing is said about any opposition between Jerusalem and Judah. ב is used here in a local sense, as in Exodus 17:8, with נלחם, and the thought is this: Not only will Jehovah smite the enemies miraculously with plagues and confusion, but Judah will also take part in the conflict against them, and fight against them in Jerusalem, which they have taken. Judah denotes the whole of the covenant nation, and not merely the inhabitants of the country in distinction from the inhabitants of the capital. Thus will Judah seize as booty the costly possessions of the heathen, and thereby visit the heathen with ample retribution for the plundering of Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2). And the destruction of the enemy will be so complete, that even their beasts of burden, and those used in warfare, and all their cattle, will be destroyed by the same plague as the men; just as in the case of the ban, not only the men, but also their cattle, were put to death (cf. Joshua 7:24). Moreover, there is hardly any need for the express remark, that this description is only a rhetorically individualizing amplification of the thought that the enemies of the kingdom of God are to be utterly destroyed - namely, those who do not give up their hostility and turn unto God. For the verses which follow show very clearly that it is only to these that the threat of punishment refers.
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