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Zechariah 12:1--14:21

Context
The Repentance of Judah

12:1 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 1  – says, 12:2 “I am about to make Jerusalem 2  a cup that brings dizziness 3  to all the surrounding nations; indeed, Judah will also be included when Jerusalem is besieged. 12:3 Moreover, on that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy burden 4  for all the nations, and all who try to carry it will be seriously injured; 5  yet all the peoples of the earth will be assembled against it. 12:4 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 6  of the nations 7  with blindness. 12:5 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.’ 12:6 On that day 8  I will make the leaders of Judah like an igniter 9  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. 12:7 The Lord also will deliver the homes 10  of Judah first, so that the splendor of the kingship 11  of David and of the people of Jerusalem may not exceed that of Judah. 12:8 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. 12  12:9 So on that day I will set out to destroy all the nations 13  that come against Jerusalem.”

12:10 “I will pour out on the kingship 14  of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me, 15  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. 16  12:11 On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad-Rimmon 17  in the plain of Megiddo. 18  12:12 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 19  by itself and their wives by themselves; 12:13 the clan of the descendants of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; and the clan of the Shimeites 20  by itself and their wives by themselves – 12:14 all the clans that remain, each separately with their wives.”

The Refinement of Judah

13:1 “In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty 21  of David and the people of Jerusalem 22  to cleanse them from sin and impurity. 23  13:2 And also on that day,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will remove 24  the names of the idols from the land and they will never again be remembered. Moreover, I will remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. 13:3 Then, if anyone prophesies in spite of this, his father and mother to whom he was born will say to him, ‘You cannot live, for you lie in the name of the Lord.’ Then his father and mother to whom he was born will run him through with a sword when he prophesies. 25 

13:4 “Therefore, on that day each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies and will no longer wear the hairy garment 26  of a prophet to deceive the people. 27  13:5 Instead he will say, ‘I am no prophet – indeed, I am a farmer, for a man has made me his indentured servant since my youth.’ 28  13:6 Then someone will ask him, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ 29  and he will answer, ‘Some that I received in the house of my friends.’

13:7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,

against the man who is my associate,”

says the Lord who rules over all.

Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered; 30 

I will turn my hand against the insignificant ones.

13:8 It will happen in all the land, says the Lord,

that two-thirds of the people 31  in it will be cut off and die,

but one-third will be left in it. 32 

13:9 Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire;

I will refine them like silver is refined

and will test them like gold is tested.

They will call on my name and I will answer;

I will say, ‘These are my people,’

and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” 33 

The Sovereignty of the Lord

14:1 A day of the Lord 34  is about to come when your possessions 35  will be divided as plunder in your midst. 14:2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem 36  to wage war; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be taken away. 37 

14:3 Then the Lord will go to battle 38  and fight against those nations, just as he fought battles in ancient days. 39  14:4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward. 40  14:5 Then you will escape 41  through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal. 42  Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah 43  of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come with all his holy ones with him. 14:6 On that day there will be no light – the sources of light in the heavens will congeal. 44  14:7 It will happen in one day (a day known to the Lord); not in the day or the night, but in the evening there will be light. 45  14:8 Moreover, on that day living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, 46  half of them to the eastern sea 47  and half of them to the western sea; 48  it will happen both in summer and in winter.

14:9 The Lord will then be king over all the earth. In that day the Lord will be seen as one with a single name. 49  14:10 All the land will change and become like the Arabah 50  from Geba to Rimmon, 51  south of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem will be raised up and will stay in its own place from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate 52  and on to the Corner Gate, 53  and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses. 54  14:11 And people will settle there, and there will no longer be the threat of divine extermination – Jerusalem will dwell in security.

14:12 But this will be the nature of the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that have fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will decay while they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot away in their sockets, and their tongues will dissolve in their mouths. 14:13 On that day there will be great confusion from the Lord among them; they will seize each other and attack one another violently. 14:14 Moreover, Judah will fight at 55  Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered up 56  – gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance. 14:15 This is the kind of plague that will devastate horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the other animals in those camps.

14:16 Then all who survive from all the nations that came to attack Jerusalem will go up annually to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles. 57  14:17 But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up to Jerusalem 58  to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, they will get no rain. 14:18 If the Egyptians will not do so, they will get no rain – instead there will be the kind of plague which the Lord inflicts on any nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 14:19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

14:20 On that day the bells of the horses will bear the inscription “Holy to the Lord.” The cooking pots in the Lord’s temple 59  will be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar. 60  14:21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will become holy in the sight of the Lord who rules over all, so that all who offer sacrifices may come and use some of them to boil their sacrifices in them. On that day there will no longer be a Canaanite 61  in the house of the Lord who rules over all.

1 tn Heb “who forms the spirit of man within him” (so NIV).

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 sn 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.

4 tn Heb “heavy stone” (so NRSV, TEV, NLT); KJV “burdensome stone”; NIV “an immovable rock.”

5 sn 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.

6 tn Heb “every horse.”

7 tn Or “peoples” (so NAB, NRSV).

8 sn 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).

9 tn Heb “a firepot” (so NASB, NIV); NRSV “a blazing pot”; NLT “a brazier.”

10 tn Heb “the tents” (so NAB, NRSV); NIV “the dwellings.”

11 tn 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.

12 sn 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.

13 tn Or “peoples.”

14 tn Or “dynasty”; Heb “house.”

15 tc 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 (’aleetasher, “to the one whom,” a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT’s אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (’elaetasher, “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.

tn Or “on me.”

16 tn The Hebrew term בְּכוֹר (bÿkhor, “firstborn”), translated usually in the LXX by πρωτότοκος (prwtotokos), 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).

17 tn “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.

18 map For location see Map1 D4; Map2 C1; Map4 C2; Map5 F2; Map7 B1.

19 sn 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.

20 sn 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.

21 tn Heb “house” (so NIV, NRSV), referring to dynastic descendants.

22 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

23 tn Heb “for sin and for impurity.” The purpose implied here has been stated explicitly in the translation for clarity.

sn This reference to the fountain opened up…to cleanse them from sin and impurity is anticipatory of the cleansing from sin that lies at the heart of the NT gospel message (Rom 10:9-10; Titus 3:5). “In that day” throughout the passage (vv. 1, 2, 4) locates this cleansing in the eschatological (church) age (John 19:37).

24 tn Heb “cut off” (so NRSV); NAB “destroy”; NIV “banish.”

25 sn Death (in this case being run…through with a sword) was the penalty required in the OT for prophesying falsely (Deut 13:6-11; 18:20-22).

26 tn The “hairy garment of a prophet” (אַדֶּרֶת שֵׁעָר, ’adderet shear) was the rough clothing of Elijah (1 Kgs 19:13), Elisha (1 Kgs 19:19; 2 Kgs 2:14), and even John the Baptist (Matt 3:4). Yet, אַדֶּרֶת alone suggests something of beauty and honor (Josh 7:21). The prophet’s attire may have been simple the image it conveyed was one of great dignity.

27 tn The words “the people” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation from context (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT).

28 tn Or perhaps “for the land has been my possession since my youth” (so NRSV; similar NAB).

29 tn Heb “wounds between your hands.” Cf. NIV “wounds on your body”; KJV makes this more specific: “wounds in thine hands.”

sn These wounds on your chest. Pagan prophets were often self-lacerated (Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1; 1 Kgs 18:28) for reasons not entirely clear, so this false prophet betrays himself as such by these graphic and ineradicable marks.

30 sn Despite the NT use of this text to speak of the scattering of the disciples following Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27), the immediate context of Zechariah suggests that unfaithful shepherds (kings) will be punished by the Lord precisely so their flocks (disobedient Israel) can be scattered (cf. Zech 11:6, 8, 9, 16). It is likely that Jesus drew on this passage merely to make the point that whenever shepherds are incapacitated, sheep will scatter. Thus he was not identifying himself with the shepherd in this text (the shepherd in the Zechariah text is a character who is portrayed negatively).

31 tn The words “of the people” are supplied in the translation for clarity (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT).

32 sn The fractions mentioned here call to mind the affliction of God’s people described by Ezekiel, though Ezekiel referred to his own times whereas Zechariah is looking forward to a future eschatological age. Ezekiel spoke of cutting his hair at God’s command (Ezek 5:1-4) and then of burning a third of it, striking a third with a sword, and scattering the rest. From this last third a few hairs would survive to become the nucleus of a new Israel. It is this “third” Zechariah speaks of (v. 9), the remnant who will be purified and reclaimed as God’s covenant people.

33 sn The expression I will say ‘It is my people,’ and they will say ‘the Lord is my God’ is reminiscent of the restoration of Israel predicted by Hosea, who said that those who had been rejected as God’s people would be reclaimed and once more become his sons and daughters (Hos 2:23).

34 sn The eschatological day of the Lord described here (and through v. 8) is considered by many interpreters to refer to the period known as the great tribulation, a seven year time of great suffering by God’s (Jewish) people culminating in the establishing of the millennial reign of the Lord (vv. 9-21). For other OT and NT references to this aspect of the day of the Lord see Amos 9:8-15; Joel 1:15–2:11; Isa 1:24-31; 2:2-4; 4:2-6; 26:16–27:6; 33:13-24; 59:1–60:22; 65:13-25; Jer 30:7-11; 32:36-44; Ezek 20:33-44; Dan 11:40; 12:1; Matt 24:21, 29; 25:31-46; Rev 19:11-16.

35 tn Heb “your plunder.” Cf. NCV “the wealth you have taken.”

36 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

37 tn Heb “not be cut off from the city” (so NRSV); NAB “not be removed.”

38 sn The statement the Lord will go to battle introduces the conflict known elsewhere as the “battle of Armageddon,” a battle in which the Lord delivers his people and establishes his millennial reign (cf. Joel 3:12, 15-16; Ezek 38–39; Rev 16:12-21; 19:19-21).

39 tn Heb “as he fights on a day of battle” (similar NASB, NIV, NRSV).

40 sn This seismic activity provides a means of escape from Jerusalem so that the Messiah (the Lord), whose feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, may destroy the wicked nations in the Kidron Valley (the v. of Jehoshaphat, or of “judgment of the Lord”) without harming the inhabitants of the city.

41 tc For the MT reading נַסְתֶּם (nastem, “you will escape”) the LXX presupposes נִסְתַּם (nistam, “will be stopped up”; this reading is followed by NAB). This appears to derive from a perceived need to eliminate the unexpected “you” as subject. This not only is unnecessary to Hebrew discourse (see “you” in the next clause), but it contradicts the statement in the previous verse that the mountain will be split open, not stopped up.

42 sn Azal is a place otherwise unknown.

43 sn The earthquake in the days of King Uzziah, also mentioned in Amos 1:1, is apparently the one attested to at Hazor in 760 b.c.

44 tn Heb “the splendid will congeal.” This difficult phrase (MT יְקָרוֹת יְקִפָּאוֹן, yÿqarot yÿqippaon) is not clarified by the LXX which presupposes וְקָרוּת וְקִפָּאוֹן (vÿqarut vÿqippaon, “and cold and ice,” a reading followed by NAB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV). Besides the fact that cold and ice do not necessarily follow the absence of light, the idea here is that day will be night and night day. The heavenly sources of light “freeze up” as it were, and refuse to shine.

45 sn In the evening there will be light. The normal pattern is that light breaks through in the morning (Gen 1:3) but in the day of the Lord in judgment it would do so in the evening. In a sense the universe will be “de-created” in order to be “recreated.”

46 sn Living waters will flow out from Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees this same phenomenon in conjunction with the inauguration of the messianic age (Ezek 47; cf. Rev 22:1-5; also John 7:38).

47 sn The eastern sea is a reference to the Dead Sea (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

48 sn The western sea is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

49 sn The expression the Lord will be seen as one with a single name is an unmistakable reference to the so-called Shema, the crystallized statement of faith in the Lord as the covenant God of Israel (cf. Deut 6:4-5). Zechariah, however, universalizes the extent of the Lord’s dominion – he will be “king over all the earth.”

50 tn Or “like a plain” (similar KJV, NAB, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT); or “like a steppe”; cf. CEV “flatlands.” The Hebrew term עֲרָבָה (’aravah) refers to an arid plain or steppe, but can be used specifically as the name of the rift valley running from the Sea of Galilee via the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba.

51 sn The expression from Geba to Rimmon is a way of indicating the extent of all Judah from north (2 Kgs 23:8) to south (Job 15:32; 19:7). Since Geba (Heb. גֶּבַע) means “hill” and Rimmon resembles the word for height (Heb. רָמָה, ramah), this could be a play on words suggesting that all the high country will be made low, like the great Arabah valley.

52 tn Or “old gate” (NLT); or “former gate” (NRSV).

53 sn From the Benjamin Gate…on to the Corner Gate marks the northern wall of the city of Jerusalem from east to west.

54 sn From the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses indicates the extent of Jerusalem from north to south.

55 tn The Hebrew phrase בִּירוּשָׁלָם (birushalam) with the verb נִלְחַם (nilkham, “make war”) would ordinarily suggest that Judah is fighting against Jerusalem (so NAB, CEV). While this could happen accidentally, the context here favors the idea that Judah is fighting alongside Jerusalem against a common enemy. The preposition בְּ (bÿ), then, should be construed as locative (“at”; cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

56 tn The term translated “gathered up” could also be rendered “collected” (so NIV, NCV, NRSV, although this might suggest a form of taxation) or “confiscated” (which might imply seizure of property against someone’s will). The imagery in the context, however, suggests the aftermath of a great battle, where the spoils are being picked up by the victors (cf. NLT “captured”).

57 sn Having imposed his sovereignty over the earth following the Battle of Armageddon, the Lord will receive homage and tribute from all who survive from all the nations. The Feast of Tabernacles was especially associated with covenant institution and renewal so it will be appropriate for all people to acknowledge that they are vassals to the Lord at that time (cf. Deut 31:9-13; Neh 8:12-18; 9:1-38).

58 sn The reference to any…who refuse to go up to Jerusalem makes clear the fact that the nations are by no means “converted” to the Lord but are under his compulsory domination.

59 tn Heb “house” (also in the following verse).

60 sn In the glory of the messianic age there will be no differences between the sacred (the bowls before the altar) and the profane (the cooking pots in the Lord’s temple) – all will be dedicated to his use.

61 tn Or “merchant”; “trader” (because Canaanites, especially Phoenicians, were merchants and traders; cf. BDB 489 s.v. I and II כְּנַעֲנִי). English versions have rendered the term as “Canaanite” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV), “trader” (RSV, NEB), “traders” (NRSV, NLT), or “merchant” (NAB), although frequently a note is given explaining the other option. Cf. also John 2:16.

sn This is not to preclude the Canaanite (or anyone else) from worship; the point is that in the messianic age all such ethnic and religious distinctions will be erased and all people will be eligible to worship the Lord.



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