By April 8, 2008 0 Comments Read More →

Zechariah 3-14: The Prophecy of Restoration

Zechariah by Michaelangelo in the Sistine ChapelThe prophecies of Zechariah date from 520-518 B.C.E. The prophet called for the rebuilding of the Temple and its ritual, as we see in the excerpts from chapters 3-4. The prophecies in the second half of the book, represented here by chapters 8 and 14, are taken by most modern scholars to be the work of later followers of Zechariah, most probably in the Persian period. These prophecies tell of the coming renewal of the Jewish people in their land which was expected to be inaugurated by a cataclysmic destruction of the evildoers. These visions were very influential in the later apocalyptic messianic movements.

3-1 He further showed me Joshua, 94 the high priest, standing before the angel of the Lord, and the Accuser standing at his right to accuse him. 2 But [the angel of] the Lord said to the Accuser, “The Lord rebuke you, O Accuser; may the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! For this is a brand plucked from the fire.” 3 Now Joshua was clothed in filthy garments when he stood before the angel. 4 The latter spoke up and said to his attendants, “Take the filthy garments off him!” And he said to him. “See, I have removed your guilt from you, and you shall be clothed in [priestly] robes.” 5 Then he gave the order, “Let a pure diadem be placed on his head.” And they placed the pure diadem on his head and clothed him in [priestly] garments, as the angel of the Lord stood by.

6 And the angel of the Lord charged Joshua as follows- 7 “Thus said the Lord of Hosts- If you walk in My paths and keep My charge, you in turn will rule My House and guard My courts, and I will permit you to move about among these attendants. 8 Hearken well, O High Priest Joshua, you and your fellow priests sitting before you! For those men are a sign that I am going to bring My servant the Branch. 9 For mark well this stone which I place before Joshua, a single stone with seven eyes. I will execute its engraving— declares the Lord of Hosts—and I will remove that country’s guilt in a single day. 10 On that day—declares the Lord of Hosts—you will be inviting each other to the shade of vines and fig trees….

4-1 The angel who talked with me came back and woke me as a man is wakened from sleep. 2 He said to me, “What do you see?” And I answered, “I see a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl above it. The lamps on it are seven in number, and the lamps above it have seven pipes; 3 and by it are two olive trees, one on the right of the bowl and one on its left.” 4 I, in turn, asked the angel who talked with me, “What do those things mean, my lord?” 5 “Do you not know what those things mean?” asked the angel who talked with me; and I said, “No, my lord.” 6 Then he explained to me as follows-

“This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel- Not by might, nor by power, but by My spirit—said the Lord of Hosts. 7 Whoever you are, O great mountain in the path of Zerubbabel, turn into level ground! For he shall produce that excellent stone; it shall be greeted with shouts of ‘Beautiful! Beautiful!’”

8 And the word of the Lord came to me- 9 “Zerubbabel’s hands have founded this House and Zerubbabel’s hands shall complete it. Then you shall know that it was the Lord of Hosts who sent me to you. 10 Does anyone scorn a day of small beginnings? When they see the stone of distinction in the hand of Zerubbabel, they shall rejoice. “Those are the seven eyes of the Lord ranging over the whole earth….”

8-1 The word of the Lord of Hosts came [to me]- 2 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- I am very jealous for Zion, I am fiercely jealous for her. 3 Thus said the Lord- I have returned to Zion, and I will dwell in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called the City of Faithfulness, and the mount of the Lord of Hosts the Holy Mount.

4 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- There shall yet be old men and women in the squares of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. 5 And the squares of the city shall be crowded with boys and girls playing in the squares. 6 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- Though it will seem impossible to the remnant of this people in those days, shall it also be impossible to Me?—declares the Lord of Hosts. 7 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- I will rescue My people from the lands of the east and from the lands of the west, 8 and I will bring them home to dwell in Jerusalem. They shall be My people, and I will be their God in truth and sincerity.

9 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- Take courage you who now hear these words which the prophets spoke when the foundations were laid for the rebuilding of the Temple, the House of the Lord of Hosts.

10 For before that time, the earnings of men were nil, and profits from beasts were nothing. It was not safe to go about one’s business on account of enemies; and I set all men against one another. 11 But now I will not treat the remnant of this people as before—declares the Lord of Host! 12 but what it sows shall prosper- the vine shall produce its fruit, the ground shall produce its yield, and the skies shall provide their moisture. I will bestow all these things upon the remnant of this people. 13 And just as you were a curse among the nations. O House of Judah and House of Israel, so, when I vindicate you, you shall become a blessing. Have no fear; take courage!

14 For thus said the Lord of Hosts- Just as I planned to afflict you and did not relent when your fathers provoked Me to anger—said the Lord of Hosts—15 so, at this time, I have turned and planned to do good to Jerusalem and to the House of Judah. Have no fear! 16 These are the things you are to do- Speak the truth to one another, render true and perfect justice in your gates. 17 And do not contrive evil against one and other, and do not love perjury, because all those are things that I hate—declares the Lord.

18 And the word of the Lord of Hosts came to me, saying. 19 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- the fast of the fourth month, the fast of the fifth month, the fast of the seventh month, and the fast of the tenth month shall become occasions for joy and gladness, happy festivals for the house of Judah; but you must love honesty and integrity. 20 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- Peoples and the inhabitants of many cities shall yet come—21 the inhabitants of one shall go to the other and say, “Let us go and entreat the favor of the Lord, let us seek the Lord of Hosts; I will go, too.” 22 The many peoples and the multitude of nations shall come to seek the Lord of Hosts in Jerusalem and to entreat the favor of the Lord. 23 Thus said the Lord of Hosts- In those days, ten men from nations of every tongue will take hold—they will take hold of every Jew by the corner of his cloak and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”

14-1 Lo, a day of the Lord is coming when your spoil shall be divided in your very midst! 2 For I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem for war. The city shall be captured, the houses plundered, and the women violated and a part of the city shall go into exile. But the rest of the population shall not be uprooted from the city.

3 Then the Lord will come forth and make war on those nations as He is wont to make war on a day of battle. 4 On that day. He will set His feet on the Mount of Olives, near Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall split across from east to west, and one part of the Mount shall shift to the north and the other to the south, a huge gorge. 5 And the Valley in the Hills shall be stopped up, for the Valley of the Hills shall reach only to Azal; it shall be stopped up as it was stopped up as a result of the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. 95 —And the Lord my God, with all the holy beings, will come to you.

6 In that day, there shall be neither sunlight nor cold moonlight, 7 but there shall be a continuous day—only the Lord knows when—of neither day nor night, and there shall be light at eventide.

8 In that day, fresh water shall flow from Jerusalem, part of it to the Eastern Sea and part to the Western Sea, throughout the summer and winter. 9 And the Lord shall be king over all the earth; in that day there shall be one Lord with one name.

10 Then the whole country shall become like the Arabah, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. The latter, however, shall perch high up where it is, and shall be inhabited from the Gate of Benjamin to the site of the Old Gate, down to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 96 11 Never again shall destruction be decreed and Jerusalem shall dwell secure.

12 As for those peoples that warred against Jerusalem, the Lord will smite them with this plague- Their flesh shall rot away, while they stand on their feet; their eyes shall rot away in their sockets; and their tongues shall rot away in their mouths.

13 In that day, a great panic from the Lord shall fall upon them, and everyone shall snatch at the hand of another, and everyone shall raise his hand against everyone else’s hand. 14 Judah shall join the fighting in Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the nations roundabout—vast quantities of gold, silver, and clothing—shall be gathered in.

15 The same plague shall strike the horses, the mules, the camels, and the asses; the plague shall affect all the animals in those camps.

16 All who survive of all those nations that came up against Jerusalem shall make a pilgrimage year by year to bow low to the King Lord of Hosts and to observe the Feast of Booths. 97 17 Any of the earth’s communities that does not make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to bow low to the King Lord of Hosts shall receive no rain….

20 In that day, even the bells on the horses shall be inscribed “Holy to the Lord.” The metal pots in the House of the Lord shall be like the basins before the altar, 21 indeed every metal pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holy to the Lord of Hosts. And all those who sacrifice shall come and take of these to boil [their sacrificial meat] in; in that day there shall be more traders in the House of the Lord of Hosts.

94. Son of Jehozadak.

95. Ruled ca. 783-742 B.C.E.

96. All places in Jerusalem.

97. The festival of Sukkot in the fall.

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