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Zechariah 1:14-21

Context
1:14 Turning to me, the messenger then said, “Cry out that the Lord who rules over all says, ‘I am very much moved 1  for Jerusalem and for Zion. 1:15 But I am greatly displeased with the nations that take my grace for granted. 2  I was a little displeased with them, but they have only made things worse for themselves.

The Oracle of Response

1:16 “‘Therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘I have become compassionate 3  toward Jerusalem 4  and will rebuild my temple 5  in it,’ says the Lord who rules over all. ‘Once more a surveyor’s measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.’ 1:17 Speak up again with the message of the Lord who rules over all: ‘My cities will once more overflow with prosperity, and once more the Lord will comfort Zion and validate his choice of Jerusalem.’”

Vision Two: The Four Horns

1:18 (2:1) 6  Once again I looked and this time I saw four horns. 1:19 So I asked the angelic messenger 7  who spoke with me, “What are these?” He replied, “These are the horns 8  that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.” 9  1:20 Next the Lord showed me four blacksmiths. 10  1:21 I asked, “What are these going to do?” He answered, “These horns are the ones that have scattered Judah so that there is no one to be seen. 11  But the blacksmiths have come to terrify Judah’s enemies 12  and cut off the horns of the nations that have thrust themselves against the land of Judah in order to scatter its people.” 13 

1 tn Heb “jealous for” (so KJV, ASV); NIV, NRSV “very jealous for”; CEV “very protective of.” The meaning is that Jerusalem/Zion is the special object of God’s grace and purposes. This results in his unusual protection of his people, a protection not accorded others with whom he does not have such a close relationship.

2 tn Or “the nations that are at ease” (so ASV, NRSV). The Hebrew word in question is שַׁאֲנָן (shaanan) which has the idea of a careless, even arrogant attitude (see BDB 983 s.v. שַׁאֲנָן); cf. NAB “the complacent nations.” Here it suggests that the nations take for granted that God will never punish them just because he hasn't already done so. Thus they presume on the grace and patience of the Lord. The translation attempts to bring out this nuance rather than the more neutral renderings of TEV “nations that enjoy quiet and peace” or NLT “enjoy peace and security.”

3 tn Heb “I have turned.” This suggests that the Lord has responded to the “turning” (i.e., repentance) of the people (v. 6) and now, with great love and forgiveness, allows construction of the temple to proceed.

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

5 tn Heb “house.”

6 sn This marks the beginning of ch. 2 in the Hebrew text. Beginning with 1:18, the verse numbers through 2:13 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 1:18 ET = 2:1 HT, 1:19 ET = 2:2 HT, 1:20 ET = 2:3 HT, 1:21 ET = 2:4 HT, 2:1 ET = 2:5 HT, etc., through 2:13 ET = 2:17 HT. From 3:1 the verse numbers in the English Bible and the Hebrew Bible are again the same.

7 tn See the note on the expression “angelic messenger” in v. 9.

8 sn An animal’s horn is a common OT metaphor for military power (Pss 18:2; 75:10; Jer 48:25; Mic 4:13). The fact that there are four horns here (as well as four blacksmiths, v. 20) shows a correspondence to the four horses of v. 8 which go to four parts of the world, i.e., the whole world.

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

10 tn Heb “craftsmen” (so NASB, NIV; KJV “carpenters”), a generic term which can mean “metalworker, smith, armorer” (HALOT 358 s.v. חָרָשׁ). “Blacksmiths” was chosen for the present translation because of its relative familiarity among contemporary English readers.

sn The horns are perhaps made of iron, the strongest of all metals known to the ancient Near Eastern world, since military activity is implied in the context. Only blacksmiths can cut the horns off. If the horns represent oppressive nations, the blacksmiths must represent deliverers whom the Lord raises up, kings like Cyrus of Persia (cf. Isa 54:16).

11 tn Heb “so that no man lifts up his head.”

12 tn Heb “terrify them”; the referent (Judah’s enemies) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

13 tn Heb “to scatter it.” The word “people” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.



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