Zechariah 12

The Repentance of Judah

The revelation of the word of the Lord concerning Israel: The Lord – he who stretches out the heavens and lays the foundations of the earth, who forms the human spirit within a person
Heb “who forms the spirit of man within him” (so NIV).
– says,
“I am about to make Jerusalem a cup that brings dizziness
The image of a cup that brings dizziness is that of drunkenness. The Lord will force the nations to drink of his judgment and in doing so they will become so intoxicated by his wrath that they will stumble and become irrational.
to all the surrounding nations; indeed, Judah will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged.
Moreover, on that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy burden
Heb “heavy stone” (so NRSV, TEV, NLT); KJV “burdensome stone”; NIV “an immovable rock.”
for all the nations, and all who try to carry it will be seriously injured;
In Israel’s and Judah’s past they had been uprooted by various conquerors such as the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In the eschaton, however, they will be so “heavy” with God’s glory and so rooted in his promises that no nation will be able to move them.
yet all the peoples of the earth will be assembled against it.
In that day,” says the Lord, “I will strike every horse with confusion and its rider with madness. I will pay close attention to the house of Judah, but will strike all the horses
Heb “every horse.”
of the nations
Or “peoples” (so NAB, NRSV).
with blindness.
Then the leaders of Judah will say to themselves, ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are a means of strength to us through their God, the Lord who rules over all.’ On that day
On that day (referring to the day of the Lord) the Davidic monarchy will be restored and the Lord’s people will recognize once more the legitimacy and divine sanction of David’s dynasty. But there will also be a democratizing that will not give Jerusalem and its rulers undue priority over the people of the countryside (v. 7).
I will make the leaders of Judah like an igniter
Heb “a firepot” (so NASB, NIV); NRSV “a blazing pot”; NLT “a brazier.”
among sticks and a burning torch among sheaves, and they will burn up all the surrounding nations right and left. Then the people of Jerusalem will settle once more in their place, the city of Jerusalem.
The Lord also will deliver the homes
Heb “the tents” (so NAB, NRSV); NIV “the dwellings.”
of Judah first, so that the splendor of the kingship
Heb “house,” referring here to the dynastic line. Cf. NLT “the royal line”; CEV “the kingdom.” The same expression is translated “dynasty” in the following verse.
of David and of the people of Jerusalem may not exceed that of Judah.
On that day the Lord himself will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the weakest among them will be like mighty David, and the dynasty of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them.
The statement the dynasty of David will be like God is hyperbole to show the remarkable enhancements that will accompany the inauguration of the millennial age.
So on that day I will set out to destroy all the nations
Or “peoples.”
that come against Jerusalem.”

10  “I will pour out on the kingship
Or “dynasty”; Heb “house.”
of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me,
Because of the difficulty of the concept of the mortal piercing of God, the subject of this clause, and the shift of pronoun from “me” to “him” in the next, many mss read אַלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ale et asher, “to the one whom,” a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT’s אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’ela et asher, “to me whom”). The reasons for such alternatives, however, are clear – they are motivated by scribes who found such statements theologically objectionable – and they should be rejected in favor of the more difficult reading (lectio difficilior) of the MT.
Or “on me.”
the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn.
The Hebrew term בְּכוֹר (bekhor, “firstborn”), translated usually in the LXX by πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos), has unmistakable messianic overtones as the use of the Greek term in the NT to describe Jesus makes clear (cf. Col 1:15, 18). Thus, the idea of God being pierced sets the stage for the fatal wounding of Jesus, the Messiah and the Son of God (cf. John 19:37; Rev 1:7). Note that some English translations supply “son” from the context (e.g., NIV, TEV, NLT).
11 On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad-Rimmon
“Hadad-Rimmon” is a compound of the names of two Canaanite deities, the gods of storm and thunder respectively. The grammar (a subjective genitive) allows, and the problem of comparing Israel’s grief at God’s “wounding” with pagan mourning seems to demand, that this be viewed as a place name, perhaps where Judah lamented the death of good king Josiah (cf. 2 Chr 35:25). However, some translations render this as “for” (NRSV, NCV, TEV, CEV), suggesting a person, while others translate as “of” (KJV, NAB, NASB, NIV, NLT) which is ambiguous.
in the plain of Megiddo.
For location see Map1-D4; Map2-C1; Map4-C2; Map5-F2; Map7-B1.
12 The land will mourn, clan by clan – the clan of the royal household of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the family of Nathan
By the time of Zechariah the line of descent from David had already been transferred from the Solomon branch to the Nathan branch (the clan of the family of Nathan). Nathan was a son of David (2 Sam 5:14) through whom Jesus eventually came (Luke 3:23–31). Matthew traces Jesus’ ancestry back through Solomon (Matt 1:6–16) but apparently this is to tie Joseph into the Davidic (and thus messianic) line. The “official” descent of Jesus may be viewed as passing through Solomon whereas the “physical” descent came through Nathan.
by itself and their wives by themselves;
13 the clan of the descendants of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; and the clan of the Shimeites
The Shimeites were Levites (Exod 6:16–17; Num 3:17–18) who presumably were prominent in the postexilic era. Just as David and Nathan represented the political leadership of the community, so Levi and Shimei represented the religious leadership. All will lament the piercing of the Messiah.
by itself and their wives by themselves –
14 all the clans that remain, each separately with their wives.”

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