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Zechariah 2:1--4:14

Context
Vision Three: The Surveyor

2:1 (2:5) I looked again, and there was a man with a measuring line in his hand. 2:2 I asked, “Where are you going?” He replied, “To measure Jerusalem 1  in order to determine its width and its length.” 2:3 At this point the angelic messenger 2  who spoke to me went out, and another messenger came to meet him 2:4 and said to him, “Hurry, speak to this young man 3  as follows: ‘Jerusalem will no longer be enclosed by walls 4  because of the multitude of people and animals there. 2:5 But I (the Lord says) will be a wall of fire surrounding Jerusalem 5  and the source of glory in her midst.’”

2:6 “You there! 6  Flee from the northland!” says the Lord, “for like the four winds of heaven 7  I have scattered you,” says the Lord. 2:7 “Escape, Zion, you who live among the Babylonians!” 8  2:8 For the Lord who rules over all says to me that for his own glory 9  he has sent me to the nations that plundered you – for anyone who touches you touches the pupil 10  of his 11  eye. 2:9 “I am about to punish them 12  in such a way,” he says, “that they will be looted by their own slaves.” Then you will know that the Lord who rules over all has sent me.

2:10 “Sing out and be happy, Zion my daughter! 13  For look, I have come; I will settle in your midst,” says the Lord. 2:11 “Many nations will join themselves to the Lord on the day of salvation, 14  and they will also be my 15  people. Indeed, I will settle in the midst of you all.” Then you will know that the Lord who rules over all has sent me to you. 2:12 The Lord will take possession of 16  Judah as his portion in the holy land and he will choose Jerusalem once again. 2:13 Be silent in the Lord’s presence, all people everywhere, 17  for he is being moved to action in his holy dwelling place. 18 

Vision Four: The Priest

3:1 Next I saw Joshua the high priest 19  standing before the angel of the Lord, with Satan 20  standing at his right hand to accuse him. 3:2 The Lord 21  said to Satan, “May the Lord rebuke you, Satan! May the Lord, who has chosen Jerusalem, 22  rebuke you! Isn’t this man like a burning stick snatched from the fire?” 3:3 Now Joshua was dressed in filthy clothes 23  as he stood there before the angel. 3:4 The angel 24  spoke up to those standing all around, “Remove his filthy clothes.” Then he said to Joshua, “I have freely forgiven your iniquity and will dress you 25  in fine clothing.” 3:5 Then I spoke up, “Let a clean turban be put on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him, while the angel of the Lord stood nearby. 3:6 Then the angel of the Lord exhorted Joshua solemnly: 3:7 “The Lord who rules over all says, ‘If you live 26  and work according to my requirements, you will be able to preside over my temple 27  and attend to my courtyards, and I will allow you to come and go among these others who are standing by you. 3:8 Listen now, Joshua the high priest, both you and your colleagues who are sitting before you, all of you 28  are a symbol that I am about to introduce my servant, the Branch. 29  3:9 As for the stone 30  I have set before Joshua – on the one stone there are seven eyes. 31  I am about to engrave an inscription on it,’ says the Lord who rules over all, ‘to the effect that I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 32  3:10 In that day,’ says the Lord who rules over all, ‘everyone will invite his friend to fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree.’” 33 

Vision Five: The Menorah

4:1 The angelic messenger 34  who had been speaking with me then returned and woke me, as a person is wakened from sleep. 4:2 He asked me, “What do you see?” I replied, 35  “I see a menorah of pure gold with a receptacle at the top and seven lamps, with fourteen pipes going to the lamps. 4:3 There are also two olive trees beside it, one on the right of the receptacle and the other on the left.” 36  4:4 Then I asked the messenger who spoke with me, “What are these, 37  sir?” 4:5 He replied, “Don’t you know what these are?” So I responded, “No, sir.” 4:6 Therefore he told me, “These signify the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by strength and not by power, but by my Spirit,’ 38  says the Lord who rules over all.”

Oracle of Response

4:7 “What are you, you great mountain? 39  Because of Zerubbabel you will become a level plain! And he will bring forth the temple 40  capstone with shoutings of ‘Grace! Grace!’ 41  because of this.” 4:8 Moreover, the word of the Lord came to me as follows: 4:9 “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this temple, 42  and his hands will complete it.” Then you will know that the Lord who rules over all has sent me to you. 4:10 For who dares make light of small beginnings? These seven eyes 43  will joyfully look on the tin tablet 44  in Zerubbabel’s hand. (These are the eyes of the Lord, which constantly range across the whole earth.)

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 45  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 46  who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”

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

2 tn See the note on the expression “angelic messenger” in 1:9.

3 sn That is, to Zechariah.

4 tn Heb “Jerusalem will dwell as open regions (פְּרָזוֹת, pÿrazot)”; cf. NAB “in open country”; CEV “won’t have any boundaries.” The population will be so large as to spill beyond the ancient and normal enclosures. The people need not fear, however, for the Lord will be an invisible but strong wall (v. 5).

5 tn Heb “her”; the referent (Jerusalem) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

6 sn These are the scattered Jews of eschatological times (as the expression four winds of heaven makes clear) and not those of Zechariah’s time who have, for the most part, already returned by 520 b.c. This theme continues and is reinforced in vv. 10-13.

7 tn Or “of the sky.” The same Hebrew term, שָׁמַיִם (shamayim), may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.

8 tn Heb “live in [or “with” (cf. NASB), i.e., “among”] the daughter of Babylon” (so NIV; NAB “dwell in daughter Babylon”).

9 tn Heb “After glory has he sent me” (similar KJV, NASB). What is clearly in view is the role of Zechariah who, by faithful proclamation of the message, will glorify the Lord.

10 tn Heb “gate” (בָּבָה, bavah) of the eye, that is, pupil. The rendering of this term by KJV as “apple” has created a well-known idiom in the English language, “the apple of his eye” (so ASV, NIV). The pupil is one of the most vulnerable and valuable parts of the body, so for Judah to be considered the “pupil” of the Lord’s eye is to raise her value to an incalculable price (cf. NLT “my most precious possession”).

11 tc A scribal emendation (tiqqun sopherim) has apparently altered an original “my eye” to “his eye” in order to allow the prophet to be the speaker throughout vv. 8-9. This alleviates the problem of the Lord saying, in effect, that he has sent himself on the mission to the nations.

12 tn Heb “I will wave my hand over them” (so NASB); NIV, NRSV “raise my hand against them.”

13 sn This individualizing of Zion as a daughter draws attention to the corporate nature of the covenant community and also to the tenderness with which the Lord regards his chosen people.

14 tn Heb “on that day.” The descriptive phrase “of salvation” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

15 tc The LXX and Syriac have the 3rd person masculine singular suffix in both places (“his people” and “he will settle”; cf. NAB, TEV) in order to avoid the Lord’s speaking of himself in the third person. Such resort is unnecessary, however, in light of the common shifting of person in Hebrew narrative (cf. 3:2).

16 tn Heb “will inherit” (so NIV, NRSV).

17 tn Heb “all flesh”; NAB, NIV “all mankind.”

18 sn The sense here is that God in heaven is about to undertake an occupation of his earthly realm (v. 12) by restoring his people to the promised land.

19 sn Joshua the high priest mentioned here is the son of the priest Jehozadak, mentioned also in Hag 1:1 (cf. Ezra 2:2; 3:2, 8; 4:3; 5:2; 10:18; Neh 7:7; 12:1, 7, 10, 26). He also appears to have been the grandfather of the high priest contemporary with Nehemiah ca. 445 b.c. (Neh 12:10).

20 tn The Hebrew term הַשָּׂטָן (hassatan, “the satan”) suggests not so much a personal name (as in almost all English translations) but an epithet, namely, “the adversary.” This evil being is otherwise thus described in Job 1 and 2 and 1 Chr 21:1. In this last passage the article is dropped and “the satan” becomes “Satan,” a personal name.

21 sn The juxtaposition of the messenger of the Lord in v. 1 and the Lord in v. 2 shows that here, at least, they are one and the same. See Zech 1:11, 12 where they are distinguished from each other.

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

23 sn The Hebrew word צוֹאִים (tsoim) means “excrement.” This disgusting figure of speech suggests Joshua’s absolute disqualification for priestly service in the flesh, but v. 2 speaks of his having been rescued from that deplorable state by God’s grace. He is like a burning stick pulled out of the fire before it is consumed. This is a picture of cleansing, saving grace.

24 tn Heb “and he”; the referent (the angel, cf. v. 1) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

25 tn The occurrence of the infinitive absolute here for an expected imperfect 1st person common singular (or even imperative 2nd person masculine plural or preterite 3rd person masculine plural) is well-attested elsewhere. Most English translations render this as 1st person singular (“and I will clothe”), but cf. NAB “Take off…and clothe him.”

26 tn Heb “walk,” a frequent biblical metaphor for lifestyle or conduct; TEV “If you [+ truly CEV] obey.” To “walk” in the ways of the Lord is to live life as he intends (cf. Deut 8:6; 10:12-22; 28:9).

27 sn The statement you will be able to preside over my temple (Heb “house,” a reference to the Jerusalem temple) is a hint of the increasingly important role the high priest played in the postexilic Jewish community, especially in the absence of a monarchy. It also suggests the messianic character of the eschatological priesthood in which the priest would have royal prerogatives.

28 tn Heb “these men.” The cleansing of Joshua and his elevation to enhanced leadership as a priest signify the coming of the messianic age.

29 sn The collocation of servant and branch gives double significance to the messianic meaning of the passage (cf. Isa 41:8, 9; 42:1, 19; 43:10; 44:1, 2, 21; Ps 132:17; Jer 23:5; 33:15).

30 sn The stone is also a metaphor for the Messiah, a foundation stone that, at first rejected (Ps 118:22-23; Isa 8:13-15), will become the chief cornerstone of the church (Eph 2:19-22).

31 tn Some understand the Hebrew term עַיִן (’ayin) here to refer to facets (cf. NAB, NRSV, NLT) or “faces” (NCV, CEV “seven sides”) of the stone rather than some representation of organs of sight.

sn The seven eyes are symbolic of divine omniscience and universal dominion (cf. Zech 1:10; 4:10; 2 Chr 16:9).

32 sn Inscriptions were common on ancient Near Eastern cornerstones. This inscription speaks of the redemption achieved by the divine resident of the temple, the Messiah, who will in the day of the Lord bring salvation to all Israel (cf. Isa 66:7-9).

33 tn Heb “under the vine and under the fig tree,” with the Hebrew article used twice as a possessive pronoun (cf. NASB “his”). Some English translations render this as second person rather than third (NRSV “your vine”; cf. also NAB, NCV, TEV).

sn The imagery of fellowship under his vine and under his fig tree describes the peaceful dominion of the Lord in the coming messianic age (Mic 4:4; cf. 1 Kgs 4:25).

34 tn See the note on the expression “angelic messenger” in 1:9.

35 tc The present translation (along with most other English versions) follows the reading of the Qere and many ancient versions, “I said,” as opposed to the MT Kethib “he said.”

36 sn The vision apparently describes two olive trees providing olive oil by pipes to a large basin atop the menorah. From this basin two pipes extend to each of the seven lamps of the menorah, for a total of fourteen pipes in all. See vv. 11-12.

37 sn Here these must refer to the lamps, since the identification of the olive trees is left to vv. 11-14.

38 sn It is premature to understand the Spirit here as the Holy Spirit (the third Person of the Trinity), though the OT prepares the way for that NT revelation (cf. Gen 1:2; Exod 23:3; 31:3; Num 11:17-29; Judg 3:10; 6:34; 2 Kgs 2:9, 15, 16; Ezek 2:2; 3:12; 11:1, 5).

39 sn In context, the great mountain here must be viewed as a metaphor for the enormous task of rebuilding the temple and establishing the messianic kingdom (cf. TEV “Obstacles as great as mountains”).

40 tn The word “temple” has been supplied in the translation to clarify the referent (cf. NLT “final stone of the Temple”).

41 sn Grace is a fitting response to the idea that it was “not by strength and not by power” but by God’s gracious Spirit that the work could be done (cf. v. 6).

42 tn Heb “house” (so NAB, NRSV).

43 tn Heb “these seven.” Eyes are clearly intended in the ellipsis as v. 10b shows. As in 3:9 the idea is God’s omniscience. He who knows the end from the beginning rejoices at the completion of his purposes.

44 tn This term is traditionally translated “plumb line” (so NASB, NIV, NLT; cf. KJV, NRSV “plummet”), but it is more likely that the Hebrew בְּדִיל (bÿdil) is to be derived not from בָּדַל (badal), “to divide,” but from a root meaning “tin.” This finds support in the ancient Near Eastern custom of placing inscriptions on tin plates in dedicatory foundation deposits.

45 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.”

46 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.



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