Zechariah 5:5
Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said to me, Lift up now your eyes, and see what is this that goes forth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 5:5-8. The angel that talked with me went forth — Or rather, went on, as the verb יצאoften signifies; (see 2 Chronicles 21:19; Jeremiah 25:32;) and so it may signify at the end of this verse, and in the next, where it occurs again. And I said, What is it? — What does this signify, or, what thing is this? And he said, This is an ephah — An ephah was a measure containing somewhat less than our bushel, and consequently too small for a woman to sit in; we must therefore understand here a measure, in the form only of an ephah, but of a larger size, which was probably the reason why Zechariah did not know what it was: and being the measure whereby they bought and sold dry things, it seems to have been intended to denote the unjust dealings of the Jews in buying and selling; their fraud, deceit, and extortion in commerce, were sins abounding among them; as they are among that people at this day. He said moreover, This is their resemblance — Or, as the LXX. render it, This is their iniquity (reading עונם, instead of עינם) through all the earth — Or, through all the land; that is, by this you may make an estimate of their unjust dealings all over the land. Besides the intimation given by this vision of the ephah, that the dealings of the Jews with each other were unjust, its largeness and its going forth corresponded with the iniquities that prevailed in the land, both as exceeding the ordinary measure, and also as continually increasing, so as already to have arisen to such a pitch as made it necessary to repress them. And behold there was lifted up a talent — Or, a huge mass; of lead — This seems to have been intended to denote the weight, or severity, of the judgments here threatened. And this is a woman, &c. — What thou seest besides, is a woman sitting carelessly upon the ephah, and fearing no evil. So Grotius, “super epha, superba et nihil mali metuens.” That she appeared at first sitting upon the ephah, is evident from what is said in the following words, namely, that the angel cast her into the midst of the ephah; which implies that she was not there before. And he said, This is wickedness — This woman denotes wickedness: or, this is iniquity itself, or corruption of heart, the mother or spring of thefts, perjuries, and all kind of crimes. Blayney renders it, This is the wicked one. Public states, or societies, are often represented by women, as the mothers of their people, as we see in the ancient coins. By the same analogy, corrupt societies are expressed by harlots, and women of lewd characters; so here, the corrupt state of the Jews is set forth by a wicked woman. And he cast it Rather, he cast her, into the midst of the ephah — So the LXX., ερριψεν αυτην εις μεσον του μετρου. So also the Vulgate. Newcome renders it, He cast her within the ephah, that is, (as he explains it,) “caused her to contract herself within the compass of the vessel, denoting the check given to her further progress.” And he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof — That is, of the epah, ne quis esset exitus, says Grotius, that there might be no exit, or way of escape. Or to signify, that when a people have filled up the measure of their iniquities, they sink under the weight of their sins, and cannot escape the judgment of God, and that thus it should fare with the Jewish people.5:5-11 In this vision the prophet sees an ephah, something in the shape of a corn measure. This betokened the Jewish nation. They are filling the measure of their iniquity; and when it is full, they shall be delivered into the hands of those to whom God sold them for their sins. The woman sitting in the midst of the ephah represents the sinful church and nation of the Jews, in their latter and corrupt age. Guilt is upon the sinner as a weight of lead, to sink him to the lowest hell. This seems to mean the condemnation of the Jews, after they filled the measure of their iniquities by crucifying Christ and rejecting his gospel. Zechariah sees the ephah, with the woman thus pressed in it, carried away to some far country. This intimates that the Jews should be hurried out of their own land, and forced to dwell in far countries, as they had been in Babylon. There the ephah shall be firmly placed, and their sufferings shall continue far longer than in their late captivity. Blindness is happened unto Israel, and they are settled upon their own unbelief. Let sinners fear to treasure up wrath against the day of wrath; for the more they multiply crimes, the faster the measure fills.Then the angel went forth - From the choirs of angels, among whom, in the interval, he had retired, as before (Zephaniah 2:3 (7 Hebrew)) he had gone forth to meet another angel. Zec 5:5-11. Seventh Vision. The Woman in the Ephah. Wickedness and idolatry removed from the Holy Land to Babylon, there to mingle with their kindred elements.

The ephah is the Hebrew dry measure containing about a bushel, or seven and a half gallons. Alluding to the previous vision as to theft and perjury: the ephah which, by falsification of the measure, they made the instrument of defrauding, shall be made the instrument of their punishment [Grotius]. Compare "this is their resemblance" (Zec 5:6), that is, this is a representation of what the Jews have done, and what they shall suffer. Their total dispersion ("the land of Shinar" being the emblem of the various Gentile lands of their present dispersion) is herein fortetold, when the measure (to which the ephah alludes) of their sins should be full. The former vision denounces judgment on individuals; this one, on the whole state: but enigmatically, not to discourage their present building [Pembellus]. Rather, the vision is consolatory after the preceding one [Calvin]. Idolatry and its kindred sins, covetousness and fraud (denounced in the vision of the roll), shall be removed far out of the Holy Land to their own congenial soil, never to return (so Zec 3:9; Isa 27:9; 52:1; 60:21; Jer 50:20; Zep 3:13). For more than two thousand years, ever since the Babylonian exile, the Jews have been free from idolatry; but the full accomplishment of the prophecy is yet future, when all sin shall be purged from Israel on their return to Palestine, and conversion to Christ.

5. went forth—The interpreting angel had withdrawn after the vision of the roll to receive a fresh revelation from the Divine Angel to communicate to the prophet.

Went forth; or went on, proceeded, or, as we read it, went forth from some more retired place, though he do not tell us what it was, or where he was with the prophet when the last vision appeared.

Lift up now thine eyes: now the prophet was come forth with the angel, he is commanded to took up and observe what he seeth going forth from Jerusalem or the temple. Then the angel that talked with me went forth,.... From the place where he was, and had been interpreting the vision of the flying roll, unto another more convenient for showing and explaining the following one; and, as it should seem, took the prophet along with him:

and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth; either out of the temple or out of heaven, into some open place, where it might be seen.

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
5. went forth] or, came forth. During the intervals between the visions, when the prophet was overpowered by, or lost in contemplation of, what he had seen, the Interpreting Angel falls into the background. In this case his coming forth again, or appearing on the scene, is expressly mentioned.

goeth forth] or, cometh forth, i.e. from the surrounding darkness into clear view.Verses 5-11 - § 9. The seventh vision: the woman in the ephah. Verse 5. - Went forth. While the prophet meditated on the last vision, the interpreting angel retired into the background or among the company of angels; he now comes into view again to explain a new revelation closely connected with the former. That goeth forth. That comes into sight from the surrounding darkness. As the preceding vision denoted that sinners should be extirpated, so the present vision shows how iniquity itself, the very principle of evil, should be removed from the Holy Land. The judgment coming upon the whole earth with all its inhabitants will fall especially upon Judah and Jerusalem. Zephaniah 1:4. "And I stretch my hand over Judah, and over all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and cut off from this place the remnant of Baal, the name of the consecrated servants, together with the priests. Zephaniah 1:5. And those who worship the army of heaven upon the roofs, and the worshippers who swear to Jehovah, and who swear by their king. Zephaniah 1:6. And those who draw back from Jehovah, and who did not seek Jehovah, and did not inquire for Him." God stretches out His hand (יד) or His arm (זרוע) to smite the ungodly with judgments (compare Zephaniah 6:6, Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 5:15, with Isaiah 5:25; Isaiah 9:11, Isaiah 9:16, Isaiah 9:20; Isaiah 10:4; Isaiah 14:26.). Through the judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem He will cut off שׁאר הבּעל, the remnant of Baal, i.e., all that remains of Baal and of idolatry; for Baal or the Baal-worship stands per synecdochen for idolatry of every kind (see at Hosea 2:10). The emphasis lies upon "the remnant," all that still exists of the Baal-worship or idolatry, even to the very last remnant; so that the emphasis presupposes that the extermination has already begun, that the worship of Baal no longer exists in undiminished force and extent. It must not be limited, however, to the complete abolition of the outward or grosser idolatry, but includes the utter extermination of the grosser as well as the more refined Baal-worship. That the words should be so understood is required by the parallel clause: the name of the consecrated servants together with the priests. Kemârı̄m are not prophets of Baal, but, as in 2 Kings 23:5 and Hosea 10:5, the priests appointed by the kings of Judah for the worship of the high places and the idolatrous worship of Jehovah (for the etymology of the word, see at 2 Kings 23:5). The kōhănı̄m, as distinguished from these, are idolatrous priests in the stricter sense of the word (i.e., those who conducted the literal idolatry). The names of both the idolatrous priests of Jehovah and the literal priests of the idols are to be cut off, so that not only the persons referred to will disappear, but even their names will be heard no more. Along with the idols and their priests, the worshippers of idols are also to be destroyed. Just as in Zephaniah 1:4 two classes of priests are distinguished, so in Zephaniah 1:5 are two classes of worshippers, viz., (1) the star-worshippers, and (2) those who tried to combine the worship of Jehovah and the worship of idols; and to these a third class is added in Zephaniah 1:6. The worship of the stars was partly Baal-worship, the sun, moon, and stars being worshipped as the bearers of the powers of nature worshipped in Baal and Asherah (see at 2 Kings 23:5); and partly Sabaeism or pure star-worship, the stars being worshipped as the originators of all growth and decay in nature, and the leaders and regulators of all sublunary things (see at 2 Kings 21:3). The worship took place upon the roofs, i.e., on altars erected upon the flat roofs of the houses, chiefly by the burning of incense (Jeremiah 19:13), but also by the offering of sacrifices (2 Kings 23:12; see the comm. in loc.). "They offered the sacrifices upon the roofs, that they might be the better able to see the stars in the heavens" (Theodoret). Along with the star-worshippers as the representatives of literal idolatry, Zephaniah mentions as a second class the worshippers who swear partly to Jehovah, and partly by their king, i.e., who go limping on two sides (1 Kings 18:21), or try to combine the worship of Jehovah with that of Baal. Malkâm, their king, is Baal, who is distinctly called king in the inscriptions (see Movers, Phnizier, i. pp. 171-2), and not the "earthly king of the nation," as Hitzig has erroneously interpreted the Masoretic text, in consequence of which he proposes to read milkōm, i.e., Moloch. נשׁבּע with ל signifies to take an oath to Jehovah, i.e., to bind one's self on oath to His service; whereas נשׁבּע with ב (to swear by a person) means to call upon Him as God when taking an oath. The difference between the two expressions answers exactly to the religious attitude of the men in question, who pretended to be worshippers of Jehovah, and yet with every asseveration took the name of Baal into their mouth. In Zephaniah 1:6 we have not two further classes mentioned, viz., "the vicious and the irreligious," as Hitzig supposes; but the persons here described form only one single class. Retiring behind Jehovah, drawing back from Him, turning the back upon God, is just the same as not seeking Jehovah, or not inquiring after Him. The persons referred to are the religiously indifferent, those who do not trouble themselves about God, the despisers of God.
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