Zechariah 9

CHAPTER IX

Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine, were conquered by

Nebuchadnezzar, and afterwards by Alexander. Some apply the

beginning of this chapter (1-7) to the one event, and some to

the other. The close of the seventh verse relates to the number

of Philistines that should become proselytes to Judaism; (see

Joseph. Antiq. xiv. 15, 4;) and the eighth, to the watchful

providence of God over his temple in those troublesome times.

From this the prophet passes on to that most eminent instance

of God's goodness to his Church and people, the sending of the

Messiah, with an account of the peaceable tendency and great

extent of his kingdom, 9, 10.

God then declares that he has ratified his covenant with his

people, delivered them from their captivity, and restored them

to favour, 11, 12.

In consequence of this, victory over their enemies is promised

them in large and lofty terms, with every other kind of

prosperity, 13-17.

Judas Maccabeus gained several advantages over the troops of

Antiochus, who was of Grecian or Macedonian descent. But

without excluding these events, it must be allowed that the

terms of this prophecy are much too strong to be confined to

them; their ultimate fulfilment must therefore be referred to

Gospel times.

NOTES ON CHAP. IX

Verse 1. The burden of the word of the Lord] The oracle

contained in the word which Jehovah now speaks.

This is a prophecy against Syria, the Philistines, Tyre, and

Sidon, which were to be subdued by Alexander the Great. After this

the prophet speaks gloriously concerning the coming of Christ, and

redemption by him.

Most learned men are of opinion that this and the succeeding

chapters are not the work of Zechariah, but rather of Jeremiah;

Hosea, or some one before the captivity. It is certain that

Zec 11:12, 13, is quoted Mt 27:9, 10, as the language of

Jeremiah the prophet. The first eight chapters appear by the

introductory parts to be the prophecies of Zechariah: they stand

in connection with each other, are pertinent to the time when they

were delivered, are uniform in style and manner, and constitute a

regular whole; but the six last chapters are not expressly

assigned to Zechariah, and are unconnected with those that

precede:-the three first of them are unsuitable in many parts to

the time when Zechariah lived; all of them have a more adorned and

poetical turn of composition than the eight first chapters, and

they manifestly break the unity of the prophetical book.

I conclude, from internal marks, that these three chapters,

(ix., x., xi.,) were written much earlier than the time of

Jeremiah, and before the captivity of the ten tribes. They seem to

suit Hosea's age and manner; but whoever wrote them, their Divine

authority is established by the two quotations from them,

Zec 9:9; 11:12, 13. See below.

The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters form a distinct

prophecy, and were written after the death of Josiah, Zec 12:11;

but whether before or after the captivity, and by what prophet, is

uncertain, although I incline to think that the author lived

before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. See on

Zec 13:2-6. They are

twice quoted in the New Testament, Zec 12:10; 13:7.

-Newcome.

My own opinion is, that these chapters form not only a distinct

work, but belong to a different author. If they do not belong to

Jeremiah, they form a thirteenth book in the minor prophets, but

the inspired writer is unknown.

The land of Hadrach] The valley of Damascus, or a place near to

Damascus. Alexander the Great gained possession of Damascus, and

took all its treasures; but it was without blood; the city was

betrayed to him.

Damascus shall be the rest thereof] The principal part of this

calamity shall fall on this city. God's anger rests on those whom

he punishes, Eze 5:13; 16:42; 24:13. And his rod, or his

arm, rests upon his enemies, Ps 125:3; Isa 30:23. See

Newcome.

When the eye of man] Newcome translates thus:

"For the eye of Jehovah is over man,

And over all the tribes of Israel."

This is an easy sense, and is followed by the versions.

Verse 2. And Hamath also shall border thereby] Hamath on the

river Orontes; and Tyre and Sidon, notwithstanding their political

wisdom, address, and cunning, shall have a part in the punishment.

These prophecies are more suitable to the days of Jeremiah than

to those of Zechariah; for there is no evidence-although Alexander

did take Damascus, but without bloodshed-that it was destroyed

from the times of Zechariah to the advent of our Lord. And as Tyre

and Sidon were lately destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar, it is not

likely that they could soon undergo another devastation.

Verse 3. And Tyrus did build herself] The rock on which Tyre was

built was strongly fortified; and that she had abundance of riches

has been already seen, Eze 28:1, &c.

Verse 4. Will smite her power in the sea] See Eze 26:17. Though

Alexander did take Tyre, Sidon, Gaza, &c.; yet it seems that the

prediction relative to their destruction was fulfilled by

Nebuchadnezzar. See Am 1:6-8; Zep 2:4, 7.

Verse 5. Ashkelon shall see it, and fear] All these prophecies

seem to have been fulfilled before the days of Zechariah; another

evidence that these last chapters were not written by him.

Her expectation shalt be ashamed] The expectation of being

succoured by Tyre.

Verse 6. A bastard shall dwell in Ashdod] This character would

suit Alexander very well, who most certainly was a bastard; for

his mother Olympia said that Jupiter Ammon entered her apartment

in the shape of a dragon, and begat Alexander! Could her husband

Philip believe this? The word signifies a stranger.

Verse 7. I will take away his blood out of his mouth] The

Philistines, when incorporated with the Israelites, shall abstain

from blood, and every thing that is abominable.

And Ekron as a Jebusite.] As an inhabitant of Jerusalem. Many of

the Philistines became proselytes to Judiasm; and particularly the

cities of Gaza, and Ashdod. See Joseph. Antiq. lib. xlii., c. 15,

s. 4.

Verse 8. I will encamp about mine house] This may apply to the

conquests in Palestine by Alexander, who, coming with great wrath

against Jerusalem, was met by Jaddua the high priest and his

fellows in their sacred robes, who made intercession for the city

and the temple; and, in consequence, Alexander spared both, which

he had previously purposed to destroy. He showed the Jews also

much favour, and remitted the tax every seventh year, because the

law on that year forbade them to cultivate their ground. See

this extraordinary account in Joseph. Antiq. lib. xi., c. 8, s. 5.

Bishop Newcome translates: "I will encamp about my house with an

army, so that none shall pass through or return."

Verse 9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion] See this prophecy

explained on Mt 21:5.

Behold, thy King cometh] Not Zerubbabel, for he was never king;

nor have they had a king, except Jesus the Christ, from the days

of Zedekiah to the present time.

He is just] The righteous One, and the Fountain of

righteousness.

Having salvation] He alone can save from sin, Satan, death,

and hell.

Lowly] Without worldly pomp or splendour; for neither his

kingdom, nor that of his followers, is of this world.

Riding upon an ass] God had commanded the kings of Israel not to

multiply horses. The kings who broke this command were miserable

themselves, and scourgers to their people. Jesus came to fulfil

the law. Had he in his title of king rode upon a horse, it would

have been a breach of a positive command of God; therefore, he

rode upon an ass, and thus fulfilled the prophecy, and kept the

precept unbroken. Hence it is immediately added-

Verse 10. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse

from Jerusalem] No wars shall be employed to spread the kingdom of

the Messiah; for it shall be founded and established, "not by

might nor by power, but by the Spirit of the Lord of hosts,"

Zec 4:6.

Verse 11. As for thee also (Jerusalem) by the blood of thy

covenant] The covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the

Israelites in general, and ratified by the blood of many victims;

until the time should come in which the Messiah should shed his

blood, as typified by the ancient sacrifices.

I have sent forth thy prisoners] Those who were under the arrest

of God's judgments; the human race, fast bound in sin and misery,

and who by the pitifulness of his tender mercy were loosed, he

dying in their stead.

Verse 12. Turn you to the strong hold] Ye who feel your sins,

and are shut up under a sense of your guilt, look up to him who

was delivered for your offences, and rose again for your

justification. Ye have hope; let that hope lead you to faith, and

that faith to the blood of the covenant; and, through that blood,

to GOD, the Father of all.

I will render double unto thee] Give thee an abundance of peace

and salvation.

Verse 13. When I have bent Judah] Judah is the bow, and Ephraim

is the arrows; and these are to be shot against the Greeks. I am

inclined, with Bp. Newcome, to consider that the language of this

prophecy is too strong to point out the only trifling advantage

which the Maccabees gained over Antiochus, who was of Macedonian

descent; and it is probable that these prophecies remain to be

fulfilled against the present possessors of Javan or Greece,

Macedonia, and a part of Asia Minor.

Verse 14. The Lord shall be seen over them] Shadowing and

refreshing them, as the cloud did the camp in the wilderness.

His arrow shall go forth as the lightning] They shall be

conquered in a way that will show that God fights for his

followers.

The description here is very sublime; we have a good imitation

of it in Nonnus:-

καιτοτεγαιαναπασανεπεκλυσενυετιοςζευς

πυκνωσαςνεφεεσσινολονπολονουρανιηγαρ

βρονταιοιςπαταγοισιδιοςμυκησατοσαλπιγξ

NONN. DIONYS., lib. 6. ver. 229.

"When heaven's dread trumpet, sounding from on high,

Breaks forth in thunders through the darken'd sky;

The pregnant clouds to floods of rain give birth.

And stormy Jove o'erwhelms the solid earth."

J. B. B. C.

In these two verses there is a fine image, and an allusion to a

particular fact, which have escaped the notice of every

commentator. I must repeat the verses: 13: When I have bent Judah

for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O

Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a

mighty man. 14: And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his

arrows shall go forth like lightning. The reader will consult what

is said on Ho 7:16, relative to the

oriental bow, which resembles a [figure "C"] in its quiescent

state, and must be recurved in order to be strung. Here, Judah is

represented as the recurved bow; Ephraim, as an arrow placed on

the string, and then discharged against the Javanites or Greeks

with the momentum of lightning; the arrow kindling in its course

through the air, and thus becoming the bolt of death to them

against whom it was directed.

Volat illud, et incandescit eundo,

Et quos non habuit, sub nubibus invenit ignes.

"It flies apace; and, heating, mounts on high,

Glows in its course, and burns along the sky."

Verse 15. The Lord of hosts shall defend them] He alone is the

sure trust of his Church.

Subdue with sling-stones] This was an ancient and powerful

instrument in the hands of the Hebrews.

See Clarke on Jud 20:16.

They shall drink] After the victory gained as above, thy people

shall hold a feast, and drink and be filled with wine. There is no

intimation here that they shall drink the blood of their enemies,

as some barbarous nations were accustomed to do. When they have

gained the victory, they shall banquet abundantly on the spoils

taken from the enemy.

As the corners of the altar.] They shall pour out libations of

wine at the foot of the altar, as the priests were accustomed to

pour out the blood of the victims.

Verse 16. Shall save them in that day] They are his flock, and

he is their Shepherd; and, as his own, he shall save and defend

them.

As the stones of a crown] abney nezer

mithnosesoth, "crowned stones erecting themselves;" i.e., being

set up by themselves, as monuments of some deliverance, they

seem to be lifting themselves up; offering themselves to the

attention of every passenger. It may however refer to stones

anointed with oil; a sort of temporary altars set up to the Lord

for a victory gained. The same word is used, Le 21:12: "Because

the crown, nezer, of the anointing oil of his God is upon

him." Perhaps most of those upright stones, standing in circles,

which pass for druidical monuments, were erected to commemorate

victories, or to grace the tomb of an illustrious chief. These

verses may refer to some final victory over the enemies of God's

people.

Verse 17. How great is his goodness] In himself and towards

them.

And how great is his beauty!] His comeliness, holiness, and

purity, put in and upon them.

Corn shall make the young men cheerful] They shall be gladdened

and strengthened by plenty of food; and they shall speak aloud of

God's mercies in their harvest home.

And new wine the maids.] Who shall prepare the wine from an

abundant vintage.

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