4:11 Next I asked the messenger, “What are these two olive trees on the right and the left of the menorah?” 4:12 Before he could reply I asked again, “What are these two extensions 1 of the olive trees, which are emptying out the golden oil through the two golden pipes?” 4:13 He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” And I said, “No, sir.” 4:14 So he said, “These are the two anointed ones 2 who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
1 tn The usual meaning of the Hebrew term שְׁבֹּלֶת (shÿbolet) is “ears” (as in ears of grain). Here it probably refers to the produce of the olive trees, i.e., olives. Many English versions render the term as “branches,” but cf. NAB “tufts.”
2 tn The usual word for “anointed (one),” מָשִׁיַח (mashiakh), is not used here but rather בְנֵי־הַיִּצְהָר (vÿne-hayyitshar), literally, “sons of fresh oil.” This is to maintain consistency with the imagery of olive trees. In the immediate context these two olive trees should be identified with Joshua and Zerubbabel, the priest and the governor. Only the high priest and king were anointed for office in the OT and these two were respectively the descendants of Aaron and David.