Zechariah 9:11
As for you also, by the blood of your covenant I have sent forth your prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.
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Zechariah 9:11. As for thee also — O Jerusalem, or church of God; for the prophet, speaking in the name of God, must be supposed to direct his discourse to her, the pronoun and the affixes, in the Hebrew, being in the feminine gender; by the blood of thy covenant — By the blood of the Messiah, in which thy covenant is confirmed: for though it is God’s covenant as made by him, and Christ’s as made in and through him, it is Zion’s covenant as made for her. I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit, &c. — By the prison here, Blayney thinks the land of Egypt is metaphorically intended, in which Israel were heretofore detained as in a prison, until God delivered them out of it, and at the same time entered into covenant with them. But it seems more probable the deliverance from Babylon, so lately experienced, is referred to. So most interpreters understand the passage. Bishop Hall paraphrases it thus: “As for thee, O Zion, whose covenant with me is made, and confirmed by the precious blood of the Messiah. I do herein give thee a type of thy future deliverance from all thy spiritual miseries, in that I have brought forth thy captives out of the miserable captivity at Babylon.” Deep, dry pits, says Capellus, were frequently prisons in the East. Or by the pit here may be meant the lowest part of the prison, called the dungeon, (see Isaiah 51:14,) as the Hebrew word בורis translated; Jeremiah 37:16; Jeremiah 38:6; Lamentations 3:53-55, where see the notes. Into one of these prisons Jeremiah was cast. But something further, and more interesting to the human race than the deliverance of God’s ancient people either from Egypt or Babylon, is evidently here intended to be signified, even the deliverance of mankind in general from the bondage of sin and guilt, and of depravity, weakness, and wretchedness, that miserable prison in which all are naturally detained, into the glorious liberty of the children of God, by virtue of the covenant sealed with the blood of Christ the Mediator: see Isaiah 61:1-3; Hebrews 13:20. Observe well, reader, a state of sin and guilt is a state of bondage; it is a spiritual prison; it is a pit, or a dungeon, in which there is no water, no comfort to be had: we are all by nature prisoners in this pit; the Scripture has concluded us all under sin, and bound us over to the justice of God. God has been pleased to deal with these prisoners upon new terms, to enter into another covenant with them; the blood of Christ is the blood of that covenant, having purchased it and all its benefits for us; and by that blood effectual provision is made for the sending forth of these prisoners upon easy and honourable terms: and a proclamation of liberty to the captives is issued from the court of heaven, followed by the opening of the prison to them that were bound, (like Cyrus’s proclamation to the Jews in Babylon,) which all those, whose spirits God stirreth up, ought to come and take the benefit of.9:9-17 The prophet breaks forth into a joyful representation of the coming of the Messiah, of whom the ancient Jews explained this prophecy. He took the character of their King, when he entered Jerusalem amidst the hosannas of the multitude. But his kingdom is a spiritual kingdom. It shall not be advanced by outward force or carnal weapons. His gospel shall be preached to the world, and be received among the heathen. A sinful state is a state of bondage; it is a pit, or dungeon, in which there is no water, no comfort; and we are all by nature prisoners in this pit. Through the precious blood of Christ, many prisoners of Satan have been set at liberty from the horrible pit in which they must otherwise have perished, without hope or comfort. While we admire Him, let us seek that his holiness and truth may be shown in our own spirits and conduct. These promises have accomplishment in the spiritual blessings of the gospel which we enjoy by Jesus Christ. As the deliverance of the Jews was typical of redemption by Christ, so this invitation speaks to all the language of the gospel call. Sinners are prisoners, but prisoners of hope; their case is sad, but not desperate; for there is hope in Israel concerning them. Christ is a Strong-hold, a strong Tower, in whom believers are safe from the fear of the wrath of God, the curse of the law, and the assaults of spiritual enemies. To him we must turn with lively faith; to him we must flee, and trust in his name under all trials and sufferings. It is here promised that the Lord would deliver his people. This passage also refers to the apostles, and the preachers of the gospel in the early ages. God was evidently with them; his words from their lips pierced the hearts and consciences of the hearers. They were wondrously defended in persecution, and were filled with the influences of the Holy Spirit. They were saved by the Good Shepherd as his flock, and honoured as jewels of his crown. The gifts, graces, and consolations of the Spirit, poured forth on the day of Pentecost, Ac 2 and in succeeding times, are represented. Sharp have been, and still will be, the conflicts of Zion's sons, but their God will give them success. The more we are employed, and satisfied with his goodness, the more we shall admire the beauty revealed in the Redeemer. Whatever gifts God bestows on us, we must serve him cheerfully with them; and, when refreshed with blessings, we must say, How great is his goodness!As for thee also - The prophet turns from the deliverance of the whole world to the former people, the sorrows which they should have in the way, and the protection which God would bestow upon them for the sake of Him, who, according to the flesh, was to be born of them. "Thou too;" he had spoken of the glories of the Church, such as her king, when He should come, should extend it, embracing earth's remotest bounds: he turns to her, Israel after the flesh, and assures her of the continued protection of God, even in her lowest estate. The deliverance under the Maccabees was, as those under the judges had been, an image of the salvation of Christ and a preparation for it. They were martyrs for the One God and for the faith in the Resurrection, and, whether by doing or by suffering, preserved the sacred line, until Christ should come.

By the blood of thy covenant - Osorius: "Not by the blood of those victims of old, but by the blood of thy covenant, wilt thou be united to the empire of Christ, and so obtain salvation. As the Lord Himself says, This is the blood of covenant, which is shed for you." "The gifts and calling of God are without repentance" Romans 11:29. That symbolic blood, by which, fore-signifying the New Covenant, He made them His own people, "Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord hath made with you concerning all these words," Exodus 24:8, endured still, amid all their unfaithfulness and breaches of it. By virtue of it God would send forth her imprisoned ones "out of the" deep, dry "pit," "the dungeon" wherein they could be kept securely, because life was not threatened (as in Genesis 37:24). Out of any depth of hopeless misery, in which they seemed to be shut up, God would deliver them; as David says, "He brought me up also out of a horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock and established my goings" Psalm 40:2; and Jeremiah, "They have cut off my life in the dungeon, and cast a stone upon me. I called upon Thy Name, O Lord; out of the low dungeon Thou hast heard my voice" Lamentations 3:53, Lamentations 3:55-56. Augustine, de Civ. Dei. xviii. 35. 3): "The dry and barren depth of human misery, where are no streams of righteousness, but the mire of iniquity."

11. As for thee also—that is, the daughter of Zion," or "Jerusalem" (Zec 9:9): the theocracy. The "thee also," in contradistinction to Messiah spoken of in Zec 9:10, implies that besides cutting off the battle-bow and extending Messiah's "dominion to the ends of the earth," God would also deliver for her her exiled people from their foreign captivity.

by the blood of thy covenant—that is, according to the covenant vouchsafed to thee on Sinai, and ratified by the blood of sacrifices (Ex 24:8; Heb 9:18-20).

pit wherein … no water—Dungeons were often pits without water, miry at the bottom, such as Jeremiah sank in when confined (Ge 37:24; Jer 38:6). An image of the misery of the Jewish exiles in Egypt, Greece, &c., under the successors of Alexander, especially under Antiochus Epiphanes, who robbed and profaned the temple, slew thousands, and enslaved more. God delivered them by the Maccabees. A type of the future deliverance from their last great persecutor hereafter (Isa 51:14; 60:1).

As for thee, O Zion, and Jerusalem, thou Jewish church: these words are Christ’s words to her, not the prophet’s words to Christ, though papists would have it so, to countenance a limbus patrum.

By the blood, by my blood, saith Christ,

of thy covenant, in which thy covenant is confirmed: it is God’s covenant as made by him, it is Zion’s covenant as made for her, it is Christ’s also as made in him.

I have sent forth thy prisoners; I have delivered and released. Cyrus indeed by his edict sent the Jews home, but in this he was Christ’s servant, and Christ was mindful of the covenant, and, to perform this, brought them up.

Out of the pit wherein is no water; Babylon, compared to a pit in which no water was, wherein the Jews must have perished, had not mercy from Christ visited them; here is no limbus patrum, though some say so among the popish commentators. As for thee also,.... These words are not spoken to Christ, for "thee", is of the feminine gender; but the congregation of Israel, as Kimchi observes; or the church of God: nor are they the words of Christ to her; he is the person before spoken of; but of God the Father, who, having given out prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, and the peaceableness and extensiveness of his kingdom, declares to the church the benefits that she and those that belonged to her should receive by the incarnation, sufferings, and death of Christ:

by the blood of thy covenant; not of the covenant of works, nor of circumcision, nor of that that was made at Sinai, as the Jewish writers interpret it; all which were a yoke of bondage; but of the covenant of grace, namely, the blood of Jesus, which is a considerable article in that covenant; that by which it is ratified and confirmed, and through which all the blessings of it come, as redemption, peace, pardon, justification, and admission into heaven: and this covenant is called the church's covenant, because it is made with her in Christ, her covenant Head, in whom she was considered; and it was made on her account, and she has an interest in it, and in all things contained therein. God is her covenant God and Father; Christ her surety, Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, and the covenant itself unto her; and all things in it, the blessings of grace and promises of good things, are hers: and though the covenant at Sinai is not the covenant here intended, that being a covenant which gendered to bondage, and under which men were held as convicted and condemned malefactors; and so cannot be that, the blood of which is the cause of a release from prison, and of bringing into a state of liberty; yet the allusion is unto it, which was a typical covenant; and the blood of the sacrifices then sprinkled on the people is called "the blood of the covenant", Exodus 24:8. It was not unusual with the Heathens, at making covenants, to use blood, even human blood: it was a custom with them to draw it from each other, and drink it, at least lick and taste of it, as particularly with the Medes and Lydians (k); and was reckoned by them the most sacred bond of covenants; and such covenants with the Carmeni and Scythians were accounted the chief covenants of friendship, and their mutual blood they used the greatest bond of concord (l); and the surest pledge of keeping faith, and that it would abide (m): but the blood of Christ shed is a far greater proof, as well as cement, of love, concord, and friendship; and a much firmer bond of the covenant of grace; and a surer pledge of the continuance of it, and of its being faithfully performed; and which, having the nature of a will or testament, becomes of force through the death of him the testator; see Daniel 9:27,

I have sent forth thy prisoners: that is, the church's prisoners; not prisoners to her, or in her; for the church of Christ is no prison; nor are those that have a name and a place in her prisoners; they walk at large, and walk at liberty; are fellow citizens with the saints; are Christ's freemen, and are possessed of many privileges and immunities: but these design such persons as are in a secret relation to her, and yet, being in a state of nature, are prisoners; and so are such as are not members of any visible church; nor as yet converted persons and believers in Christ, who have an open relation to the invisible church; but they are such who secretly belong to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, written in heaven, whose names are in the Lamb's book of life; or are chosen in Christ, and also redeemed by his blood: but, being as yet in a state of unregeneracy, are prisoners to sin; are under the power, dominion, and guilt of it; and, being transgressors of the law, are arraigned by it as guilty persons; are convicted and condemned, and shut up in it, and held under it; and are also the captives of Satan, being led as such by him, at his will; and thus they are prisoners, though there is a secret connection between the church and them: and sooner or later, by virtue of the blood of that covenant, which she and they have an interest in, they are brought

out of the pit wherein is no water; which is expressive of the state and condition men are in by sin, and while in unregeneracy; they are in mire and clay, in a most filthy and famishing condition, in a very wretched and uncomfortable one; as in a dark and lonesome dungeon, and where no refreshment can be had; where there are no true peace, joy, and comfort. The allusion is to the custom of the eastern countries, and still continues, who, in the nighttime, put their slaves into a well or pit, and there shut them up till the morning, when they are let out for business: now, from this state of captivity and bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, and from all the miseries of such a state, are the Lord's people, and who belong to Zion, the general assembly and church of the first born, delivered by virtue of the blood of Christ, shed for the redemption of them; in consequence of which it is said to these prisoners of sin, Satan, and the law, go forth; these are made sensible of their wretched condition, and are called and drawn out of it, and delivered from it, and brought into a state of liberty. Ben Melech interprets this pit of the captivity of the Jews.

(k) Herodot. Clio, sive l. 1. c. 74. (l) Alex. ab Alex. Genial. Dier. l. 5. c. 3.((m) Mela de situ Orbis, l. 2. c. 1.

{r} As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy {s} prisoners out of the pit in which is no water.

(r) Meaning Jerusalem, or the Church which is saved by the blood of Christ, of which the blood of the sacrifices was a figure. And it is here called the covenant of the Church, because God made it with his Church: and left it with them because of the love that he had for them.

(s) God shows that he will deliver his Church out of all dangers, no matter how great they may seem.

11. As for thee also] Lit. also thou, i.e. as regards thee (O daughter of Sion), I will also (in addition to all that has been promised, Zechariah 9:9-10) liberate thy captives.” So Maurer: “Gaude, Sionia! veniet rex tuus tibi, justus cet.; removebuntur instrumenta belli, alta pax erit; auctum erit imperium tuum mirum in modum; etiam captivos tuos, qui in terris exteris detinentur, tibi restituam memor fœderis facti cum majoribus.”

by the blood of thy covenant] because of, &c. R. V., i.e. the covenant which I have made with thee. Exodus 24:5-8. Comp. for the higher reference, Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15.

the pit wherein is no water] The “pit,” Genesis 40:15, or “house of the pit,” Exodus 12:29; Jeremiah 37:16, as denoting the nature of its dungeons, which may in some cases have been actually empty wells (comp. Genesis 37:24), is a common name for a prison in the O. T. The expression, “wherein is no water,” is probably added to emphasize the horrors of such a dungeon. “The prisoner in the land of his enemies was left to perish in the pit (Zechariah 9:11). The greatest of all deliverances is that the captive exile is released from the slow death of starvation in it (Isaiah 51:14). The history of Jeremiah, cast into the dungeon or pit (Jeremiah 38:6; Jeremiah 38:9), let down into its depths with cords, sinking into the filth at the bottom (here also there is no water), with death by hunger staring him in the face, shews how terrible an instrument of punishment was such a pit. The condition of the Athenian prisoners in the stone-quarries of Syracuse (Thuc. vii. 87), the Persian punishment of the σπόδος (Ctesias, Pers. 48), the oubliettes of mediæval prisons present instances of cruelty more or less analogous.” Bible Dict., Art. “Pit.”Verses 11-17. - § 3. All Israel, united into one people, shall wage successful war against adversaries, and attain to high glory, and increase largely in numbers. Verse 11. - As for thee also. The prophet addresses the daughter of Zion, the covenant people (comp. vers. 10, 13). "Also" is inserted to intimate that this deliverance is given in addition to the blessings promised in the two preceding verses. All who are living far from their native Zion are invited to come to her and partake of her good things. By (because of) the blood of thy covenant. The covenant is that made at Sinai, sealed and ratified by blood (Exodus 24:4-8), which still held good, and was the pledge to the nation of deliverance and help. This was a token of that everlasting covenant sealed with the blood of Christ, by which God's people are delivered from the bondage of sin (comp. Matthew 26:28; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 10:14-23; Hebrews 13:20). I have sent forth; I send forth - the prophetic perfect. The Greek and Latin Versions render, "thou sentest forth," not so correctly. Thy prisoners. Those members of the nation who were still oppressed or captives in foreign lands, as Babylon and Egypt (comp. Obadiah 1:20; Joel 3:6, etc.; Amos 1:6, 9, etc.). The pit wherein is no water. "Pit," or cistern, is a common name for a prison (Genesis 40:15; Exodus 12:29; Jeremiah 37:16). The absence of water may be notified either to imply that the tortures of thirst were added to the horror of the situation, or to intimate that the prisoners were not hopelessly drowned therein. We Christians see in this paragraph a figure of the redemption of a lost world by the blood of Christ. "For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Once more, in a short time it comes to pass, I shake heaven and earth, and the sea, and the dry. Haggai 2:7. And I shake all nations, and the costly of all nations will come, and I shall fill this house with glory, saith Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:8. Mine is the silver, and mine the gold, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Haggai 2:9. The last glory of this house will be greater than the first, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in this place shall I give peace, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts." Different explanations have been given of the definition of the time עוד אחת מעט היא. Luther, Calvin, and others, down to Ewald and Hengstenberg, follow the Chaldee and Vulgate, and either take achath in the sense of the indefinite article or as a numeral, "adhuc unum modicum est," or "it is yet a little thither." But if achath belonged to מעט as a numeral adjective, either in the one sense or the other, according to the arrangement adopted without exception in Hebrew (for 'echâd is not an adjective in Daniel 8:13), it could not stand before מעט, but must be placed after it. The difference of gender also precludes this combination, inasmuch as מעט is not construed as a feminine in a single passage. We must therefore take מעט היא as forming an independent clause of itself, i.e., as a more precise definition of עוד אחת. But 'achath does not mean one equals one time, or a short space of time (Burk, Hitzig, Hofmann); nor does it acquire this meaning from the clause מעט היא; nor can it be sustained by arbitrarily supplying עת. 'Achath is used as a neuter in the sense of "once," as in Exodus 30:10; 2 Kings 6:10; Job 40:5 (cf. Ewald, 269, b). מעט היא , a little, i.e., a short time is it, equivalent to "soon," in a short time will it occur (cf. Hosea 8:10; Psalm 37:10). The lxx have rendered it correctly ἔτι ἅπαξ, only they have left out מעט היא. The words, "once more and indeed in a short time I shake," etc., have not the meaning which Koehl. attaches to the correct rendering, viz., "Once, and only once, will Jehovah henceforth shake heaven and earth," in which the עוד standing at the head is both moved from its place, and taken, not in the sense of repetition or of continuance from the present to the future, but simply in the sense of an allusion to the future; in other words, it is completely deprived of its true meaning. For עוד never loses its primary sense of repetition or return any more than the German noch (still or yet), so as to denote an occurrence in the future without any allusion whatever to an event that has already happened or is in existence still, not even in 2 Samuel 19:36 and 2 Chronicles 17:6, with which Koehler endeavours to support his views, without observing that in these passages עוד is used in a very different sense, signifying in 2 Sam. raeterea, and in 2 Chronicles moreover." In the verse before us it is used with reference to the previous shaking of the world at the descent of Jehovah upon Sinai to establish the covenant with Israel, to which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has quite correctly taken it as referring (Hebrews 12:26).

On the other hand, the objection offered by Koehler, that that shaking did not extend beyond Sinai and the Sinaitic region, either according to the historical account in Exodus 19:16-18, or the poetical descriptions in Judges 5:4-5, and Psalm 68:8-9, is incorrect. For not only in the two poetical descriptions referred to, but also in Habakkuk 3:6, the manifestation of God upon Sinai is represented as a trembling or shaking of the earth, whereby the powers of the heaven were set in motion, and the heavens dropped down water. The approaching shaking of the world will be much more violent; it will affect the heaven and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, and also the nations. Then will the condition of the whole of the visible creation and of the whole of the world of nations be altered. The shaking of the heaven and the earth, i.e., of the universe, is closely connected with the shaking of all nations. It is not merely a figurative representation of symbol, however, of great political agitations, but is quite as real as the shaking of the nations, and not merely follows this and is caused by it, but also precedes it and goes side by side with it, and only in its completion does it form the conclusion to the whole of the shaking of the world. For earthquakes and movements of the powers of heaven are heralds and attendants of the coming of the Lord to judgment upon the whole earth, through which not only the outward form of the existing world is altered, but the present world itself will finally be reduced to ruins (Isaiah 24:18-20), and out of the world thus perishing there are to be created a new heaven and a new earth (Isaiah 65:17; Isaiah 66:22; 2 Peter 3:10-13). But if the shaking of heaven and earth effects a violent breaking up of the existing condition of the universe, the shaking of all nations can only be one by which an end is put to the existing condition of the world of nations, by means of great political convulsions, and indeed, according to the explanation given in Haggai 2:22, by the Lord's overthrowing the throne of the kingdoms, annihilating their power, and destroying their materials of war, so that one falls by the sword of the other, that is to say, by wars and revolutions, by which the might of the heathen world is broken and annihilated. It follows from this, that the shaking of the heathen is not to be interpreted spiritually, either as denoting "the marvellous, supernatural, and violent impulse by which God impels His elect to betake themselves to the fold of Christ" (Calvin), or "the movement to be produced among the nations through the preaching of the gospel, with the co-operation of the Holy Spirit." The impulse given by the preaching of the gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit to such souls among the nations as desire salvation, to seek salvation from the living God, is only the fruit of the shaking of the heathen world, and is not to be identified with it; for the coming of the chemdth kol-haggōyı̄m is defined by וּבאוּ with the Vav consec. as a consequence of the shaking of the nations.

By chemdath kol-haggōyı̄m most of the earlier orthodox commentators understood the Messiah, after the example of the Vulgate, et veniet desideratus gentibus, and Luther's "consolation of the Gentiles." But the plural בּאוּ is hardly reconcilable with this. If, for example, chemdath were the subject of the clause, as most of the commentators assume, we should have the singular וּבא. For the rule, that in the case of two nouns connected together in the construct state, the verb may take the number of the governed noun, applies only to cases in which the governed noun contains the principal idea, so that there is a constructio ad sensum; whereas in the case before us the leading idea would be formed, not by kol-haggōyı̄m, but by chemdath, desideratus, or consolation, as a designation of the Messiah. Hence Cocc., Mark, and others, have taken chemdath as the accusative of direction: "that they (sc., the nations) may come to the desire of all nations - namely, to Christ." It cannot be objected to this, as Koehler supposes, that to designate Christ as the desire of all nations would be either erroneous, inasmuch as in the time of Haggai only a very few heathen knew anything about Israel's hope of a Messiah, or perfectly unintelligible to his contemporaries, especially if the meaning of the epithet were that the heathen would love Him at some future time. For the latter remark is at once proved to be untenable by the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, to the effect that all nations will flow to the mountain of God's house. After such prophecies, the thought that the heathen would one day love the Messiah could not be unintelligible to the contemporaries of our prophet; and there is not the smallest proof of the first assertion. In the year 520 b.c., when the ten tribes had already been scattered among the heathen for 200 years, and the Judaeans for more than seventy years, the Messianic hope of Israel could not be any longer altogether unknown to the nations. It may with much better reason be objected to the former view, that if chemdh were the accusative of direction, we should expect the preposition 'el in order to avoid ambiguity. But what is decisive against it is the fact, that the coming of the nations to the Messiah would be a thought completely foreign to the context, since the Messiah cannot without further explanation be identified with the temple. Chemdâh signifies desire (2 Chronicles 21:20), then the object of desire, that in which a man finds pleasure and joy, valuables. Chemdath haggōyı̄m is therefore the valuable possessions of the heathen, or according to Haggai 2:8 their gold and silver, or their treasures and riches; not the best among the heathen (Theod. Mops., Capp., Hitzig). Hence chemdath cannot be the accusative of direction, since the thought that the heathen come to the treasures of all the heathen furnishes no suitable meaning; but it is the nominative or subject, and is construed as a collective word with the verb in the plural. The thought is the following: That shaking will be followed by this result, or produce this effect, that all the valuable possessions of the heathen will come to fill the temple with glory. Compare Isaiah 60:5, where the words, "the possessions (riches) of the heathen (chēl gōyı̄m) will come to thee," i.e., be brought to Jerusalem, express the same thought; also Isaiah 60:11. With the valuable possessions of the heathen the Lord will glorify His temple, or fill it with kâbhōd. Kâbhōd without the article denotes the glory which the temple will receive through the possessions of the heathen presented there. The majority of the commentators have referred these words to the glorification of the temple through the appearance of Jesus in it, and appeal to Exodus 40:34-35; 1 Kings 8:10-11; 2 Chronicles 5:13-14, according to which passages the glory of Jehovah filled the tabernacle and Solomon's temple at their dedication, so that they identify kâbhōd (glory) with kebhōd Yehōvâh (glory of Jehovah) without reserve. But this is impracticable, although the expression kâbhōd is chosen by the prophet with a reference to those events, and the fulfilment of our prophecy did commence with the fact that Jehovah came to His temple in the person of Jesus Christ (Malachi 3:1).

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