Zechariah 5:1
Then I turned, and lifted up my eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 5:1. Then I turned and lifted up — Or, again I lifted up, mine eyes — For the verb שׁוב, to return, is often used adverbially; and behold a flying roll — That is, a roll of a book, as the expression is Jeremiah 36:2; Ezekiel 2:9; the ancient way of writing being upon long scrolls of parchment, which used to be rolled up. This roll contained an account of the sins and punishments of the people, and is described as flying, both because it was open, and to denote the swiftness of God’s judgments. Hitherto, from the beginning of this prophecy, “all has been consoling, and meant to cheer the hearts of the Jewish people, by holding forth to them prospects of approaching prosperity. But, lest they should grow presumptuous and careless of their conduct, it was thought proper to warn them of the conditions on which their happiness would depend; and to let them see, that however God was at present disposed to show them favour, his judgments would assuredly fall upon them with still greater weight than before, if they should again provoke him by repeated acts of wickedness.” Accordingly, this warning and information are given them by the visions of this chapter, which are of a very different kind from the preceding ones. — Blayney.5:1-4 The Scriptures of the Old and New Testament are rolls, in which God has written the great things of his law and gospel; they are flying rolls. God's word runs very swiftly, Ps 147:15. This flying roll contains a declaration of the righteous wrath of God against sinners. Oh that we saw with an eye of faith the flying roll of God's curse hanging over the guilty world as a thick cloud, not only keeping off the sunbeams of God's favour, but big with thunders, lightnings, and storms, ready to destroy them! How welcome then would the tidings of a Saviour be, who came to redeem us from the curse of the law, being himself made a curse for us! Sin is the ruin of houses and families; especially the doing hurt to others and false witness. Who knows the power of God's anger? God's curse cannot be kept out by bars or locks. While one part of the curse of God ruins the substance of the sinner, another part will rest on the soul, and sink it to everlasting punishment. All are transgressors of the law, so we cannot escape this wrath of God, except we flee for refuge to lay hold on the hope set before us in the gospel.Hitherto all had been bright, full of the largeness of the gifts of God; of God's favor to His people ; the removal of their enemies ; the restoration and expansion and security of God's people and Church under His protection ; the acceptance of the present typical priesthood and the promise of Him, through whom there should be entire forgiveness : the abiding illumining of the Church by the Spirit of God . Yet there is a reverse side to all this, God's judgments on those who reject all His mercies. Augustine, de Civ. Del. 17:3.:Ribera: "Prophecies partly appertain to those in whose times the sacred writers prophesied, partly to the mysteries of Christ. And therefore it is the custom of the prophets, at one time to chastise vices and set forth punishments, at another to predict the mysteries of Christ and the Church."

And I turned and - Or, "Again I lifted up my eyes" Genesis 26:18; 2 Kings 1:11, 2 Kings 1:13; Jeremiah 18:14, having again sunk down in meditation on what he had seen, "and behold a roll flying;" as, to Ezekiel was shown "a hand with a roll of a book therein, and he spread it before me." Ezekiel's roll also was "written within and without, and there was written, therein lamentation and mourning and woe" Ezekiel 2:9-10. It was a wide unfolded roll, as is involved in its flying; but its "flight signified the very swift coming of punishment; its flying from heaven that the sentence came from the judgment-seat above" (Ribera).

CHAPTER 5

Zec 5:1-4. Sixth Vision. The Flying Roll. The fraudulent and perjuring transgressors of the law shall be extirpated from Judea.

1. flying roll—of papyrus, or dressed skins, used for writing on when paper was not known. It was inscribed with the words of the curse (De 27:15-26; 28:15-68). Being written implied that its contents were beyond all escape or repeal (Eze 2:9). Its "flying" shows that its curses were ready swiftly to visit the transgressors. It was unrolled, or else its dimensions could not have been seen (Zec 5:2). Being open to all, none could say in excuse he knew not the law and the curses of disobedience. As the previous visions intimated God's favor in restoring the Jewish state, so this vision announces judgment, intimating that God, notwithstanding His favor, did not approve of their sins. Being written on both sides, "on this and on that side" (Zec 5:3) [Vatablus] connects it with the two tables of the law (Ex 32:15), and implies its comprehensiveness. One side denounced "him that sweareth falsely (Zec 5:4) by God's name," according to the third commandment of the first table, duty to God; the other side denounced theft, according to the eighth commandment, which is in the second table, duty to one's neighbor.By the flying roll is showed the curse of thieves and of false swearers, Zechariah 5:1-4. By a woman in an ephah, pressed under a weight, and carried away to Shinar, is denoted wickedness, and the judgment of it, Zechariah 5:5-11.

Then, or And, Heb. i.e. after I had seen those comfortable visions, and been instructed in the true meaning of them.

I turned; changed his posture, though the occasion of it be not mentioned, nor the posture into which he put himself.

Lifted up mine eyes; looked up into the air where the vision appeared.

Looked, very diligently, and discerned clearly.

A flying roll; a volume, or book, which in those days were not written as now our books are printed and bound, but were written, as deeds are now, on large or long parchments, and rolled up upon a neat round stick, or else rolled upon themselves; such the roll here seen: much as our large geographical maps are rolled upon rollers, sad lodged in a convenient cavity, so were their books of old. But probably here now the roll was spread out at large, flying in the air swiftly, perhaps with some noise, that might make the prophet look about him.

Then I turned, and lift up mine eyes, and looked,.... The prophet turned himself from looking upon the candlestick and olive branches, having had a full and clear understanding of them, and looked another way, and saw another vision:

and behold a flying roll, a volume or book flying in the air; it being usual for books, which were written on parchment, to be rolled up in the form of a cylinder; whence they were called rolls or volumes.

Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1. I turned, and lift up mine eyes, and looked] Rather, I lifted up mine eyes again and saw a flying roll. Its flight signified the swift coming of punishment; its flying from heaven that the sentence proceeded from the judgment-seat above.Verses 1-4. - § 8. The sixth vision: the flying roll. Verse 1. - Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes; i.e. I lifted up mine eyes again, and saw the vision that follows. The prophet had seen, in the fourth vision, how in the new theocracy the priesthood should be pure and holy; in the fifth how the Church should be restored; he is now shown that sinners should be cut off, that no transgression should be left in the kingdom of God. A flying roll; volumen volans (Vulgate): comp. Ezekiel 2:9, 10. The Hebrews used parchment and leather scrolls for writing; the writing was divided into columns, and when completed the document was rolled round one or two sticks and kept in a case. In the present vision the scroll is unrolled and exhibited in its full length and breadth, showing that it was to be made known to all. Its flight denotes the speedy arrival of the judgment, and, as it is seen in the heaven, so the punishment proceeds from God. Theodotion and Aquila render the word, διφθέρα, "leather;" the Septuagint, by mistake, δρέπανον, "a sickle." Zephaniah 1:1 contains the heading, which has been explained in the introduction. Zephaniah 1:2 and Zephaniah 1:3 form the preface. - Zephaniah 1:2. "I will sweep, sweep away everything from the face of the earth, is the saying of Jehovah. Zephaniah 1:3. I will sweep away man and cattle, sweep away the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the sea, and the offences with the sinners, and I cut off men from the face of the earth, is the saying of Jehovah." The announcement of the judgment upon the whole earth not only serves to sharpen the following threat of judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem in this sense, "Because Jehovah judges the whole world, He will punish the apostasy of Judah all the more;" but the judgment upon the whole world forms an integral part of his prophecy, which treats more fully of the execution of the judgment in and upon Judah, simply because Judah forms the kingdom of God, which is to be purified from its dross by judgment, and led on towards the end of its divine calling. As Zephaniah here opens the judgment awaiting Judah with an announcement of a judgment upon the whole world, so does he assign the reason for his exhortation to repentance in Zephaniah 2:1-15, by showing that all nations will succumb to the judgment; and then announces in Zephaniah 3:9., as the fruit of the judgment, the conversion of the nations to Jehovah, and the glorification of the kingdom of God. The way to salvation leads through judgment, not only for the world with its enmity against God, but for the degenerate theocracy also. It is only through judgment that the sinful world can be renewed and glorified. The verb אסף, the hiphil of sūph, is strengthened by the inf. abs. אסף, which is formed from the verb אסף, a verb of kindred meaning. Sūph and 'âsaph signify to take away, to sweep away, hiph. to put an end, to destroy. Kōl, everything, is specified in Zephaniah 1:3 : men and cattle, the birds of heaven, and the fishes of the sea; the verb 'âsēph being repeated before the two principal members. This specification stands in unmistakeable relation to the threatening of God: to destroy all creatures for the wickedness of men, from man to cattle, and to creeping things, and even to the fowls of the heaven (Genesis 6:7). By playing upon this threat, Zephaniah intimates that the approaching judgment will be as general over the earth, and as terrible, as the judgment of the flood. Through this judgment God will remove or destroy the offences (stumbling-blocks) together with the sinners. את before הרשׁעים cannot be the sign of the accusative, but can only be a preposition, with, together with, since the objects to אסף are all introduced without the sign of the accusative; and, moreover, if את־הרשׁ were intended for an accusative, the copula Vv would not be omitted. Hammakhshēlôth does not mean houses about to fall (Hitzig), which neither suits the context nor can be grammatically sustained, since even in Isaiah 3:6 hammakhshēlâh is not the fallen house, but the state brought to ruin by the sin of the people; and makhshēlâh is that against which or through which a person meets with a fall. Makhshēlōth are all the objects of coarser and more refined idolatry, not merely the idolatrous images, but all the works of wickedness, like τὰ σκάνδαλα in Matthew 13:41. The judgment, however, applies chiefly to men, i.e., to sinners, and hence in the last clause the destruction of men from off the earth is especially mentioned. The irrational creation is only subject to φθορά, on account of and through the sin of men (Romans 8:20.).
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