1 In the eighth month of Darius’#sn Darius is Darius Hystaspes, king of Persia from 522-486 b.c. second year,#sn The eighth month of Darius’ second year was late October – late November, 520 b.c., by the modern (Julian) calendar. This is two months later than the date of Haggai’s first message to the same community (cf. Hag 1:1). the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah,#sn Both Ezra (5:1; 6:14) and Nehemiah (12:16) speak of Zechariah as a son of Iddo only. A probable explanation is that Zechariah’s actual father Berechiah had died and the prophet was raised by his grandfather Iddo. The “Zechariah son of Barachiah” of whom Jesus spoke (Matt 23:35; Luke 11:51) was probably the martyred prophet by that name who may have been a grandson of the priest Jehoiada (2 Chr 24:20-22). son of Berechiah son of Iddo, as follows:
2 The Lord was very angry with your ancestors.#tn Heb “fathers” (so KJV, NAB); NIV “forefathers” (also in vv. 4, 5). 3 Therefore say to the people:#tn Heb “to them”; the referent (the people) has been specified in the translation for clarity. The Lord who rules over all#sn The epithet Lord who rules over all occurs frequently as a divine title throughout Zechariah (53 times total). This name (יְהוָה צְבָאוֹת, yÿhvah tsÿva’ot), traditionally translated “Lord of hosts” (so KJV, NAB, NASB; cf. NIV, NLT “Lord Almighty”; NCV, CEV “Lord All-Powerful”), emphasizes the majestic sovereignty of the Lord, an especially important concept in the postexilic world of great human empires and rulers. For a thorough study of the divine title, see T. N. D. Mettinger, In Search of God, 123-57. says, “Turn#tn The Hebrew verb שׁוּב (shuv) is common in covenant contexts. To turn from the Lord is to break the covenant and to turn to him (i.e., to repent) is to renew the covenant relationship (cf. 2 Kgs 17:13). to me,” says the Lord who rules over all, “and I will turn to you,” says the Lord who rules over all. 4 “Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the former prophets called out, saying, ‘The Lord who rules over all says, “Turn now from your evil wickedness,”’ but they would by no means obey me,” says the Lord. 5 “As for your ancestors, where are they? And did the prophets live forever? 6 But have my words and statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, not outlived your fathers?#tc BHS suggests אֶתְכֶם (’etkhem, “you”) for the MT אֲבֹתֵיכֶם (’avotekhem, “your fathers”) to harmonize with v. 4. In v. 4 the ancestors would not turn but in v. 6 they appear to have done so. The subject in v. 6, however, is to be construed as Zechariah’s own listeners. Then they paid attention#tn Heb “they turned” (so ASV). Many English versions have “they repented” here; cf. CEV “they turned back to me.” and confessed, ‘The Lord who rules over all has indeed done what he said he would do to us, because of our sinful ways.’”
The Introduction to the Visions
7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, the month Shebat, in Darius’ second year,#sn The twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month…in Darius’ second year was February 15, 519 b.c. the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo, as follows:
The Content of the First Vision
8 I was attentive that night and saw a man seated#tn Heb “riding,” but since this verb in English is usually associated with horses in motion rather than standing still, the translation uses “seated.” Cf. NAB “the driver of a red horse.” on a red horse that stood among some myrtle trees#tc The LXX presupposes הֶהָרִים (heharim, “mountains”) rather than the MT הַהֲדַסִּים (hahadassim, “myrtles”), probably because of reference to the ravine. The MT reading is preferred and is followed by most English versions. in the ravine. Behind him were red, sorrel,#sn The Hebrew שְׂרֻקִּים (sÿruqqim) means “red” (cf. NIV, NCV, NLT “brown”). English translations such as “speckled” (KJV) or “dappled” (TEV) are based on the reading of the LXX (ψαροί) that attempts to bring the color of this horse into conformity with those described in Zech 6:2-3. However, since these are two different and unrelated visions, this is a methodological fallacy. and white horses.
The Interpretation of the First Vision
9 Then I asked one nearby, “What are these, sir?” The angelic messenger#tn Heb “messenger” or “angel” (מַלְאָךְ, mal’akh). This being appears to serve as an interpreter to the prophet (cf. vv. 13, 14). who replied to me said, “I will show you what these are.” 10 Then the man standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to walk about#sn The stem used here (Hitpael) with the verb “walk” (הָלַךְ, halakh) suggests the exercise of dominion (cf. Gen 13:17; Job 1:7; 2:2-3; Ezek 28:14; Zech 6:7). The Lord is here about to claim sovereignty over the nations. Cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, NLT “to patrol”; TEV “to go and inspect.” on the earth.” 11 The riders then agreed with the angel of the Lord,#sn The angel of the Lord is a special being who throughout the OT represents God himself and on occasion almost approaches divine hypostatization or incarnation (cf. Gen 18:2, 13, 17, 22; Exod 23:20-21; Josh 5:13-15; Judg 6:11-24; 13:2-20). who was standing among the myrtle trees, “We have been walking about on the earth, and now everything is at rest and quiet.” 12 The angel of the Lord then asked, “Lord who rules over all,#sn Note that here the angel of the Lord is clearly distinct from the Lord who rules over all himself. how long before you have compassion on Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. and the other cities of Judah which you have been so angry with for these seventy years?”#sn The seventy years refers to the predicted period of Babylonian exile, a period with flexible beginning and ending points depending on the particular circumstances in view (cf. Jer 25:1; 28:1; 29:10; Dan 9:2). Here the end of the seventy years appears to be marked by the completion of the temple in 516 b.c., exactly seventy years after its destruction in 586. 13 The Lord then addressed good, comforting words to the angelic messenger who was speaking to me. 14 Turning to me, the messenger then said, “Cry out that the Lord who rules over all says, ‘I am very much moved#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. for Jerusalem and for Zion. 15 But I am greatly displeased with the nations that take my grace for granted.#tn Or “the nations that are at ease” (so ASV, NRSV). The Hebrew word in question is שַׁאֲנָן (sha’anan) 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.” I was a little displeased with them, but they have only made things worse for themselves.
The Oracle of Response
16 “‘Therefore,’ says the Lord, ‘I have become compassionate#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. toward Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. and will rebuild my temple#tn Heb “house.” in it,’ says the Lord who rules over all. ‘Once more a surveyor’s measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.’ 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
18 (2:1)#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. Once again I looked and this time I saw four horns. 19 So I asked the angelic messenger#tn See the note on the expression “angelic messenger” in v. 9. who spoke with me, “What are these?” He replied, “These are the horns#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. that have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. 20 Next the Lord showed me four blacksmiths.#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). 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.#tn Heb “so that no man lifts up his head.” But the blacksmiths have come to terrify Judah’s enemies#tn Heb “terrify them”; the referent (Judah’s enemies) has been specified in the translation for clarity. and cut off the horns of the nations that have thrust themselves against the land of Judah in order to scatter its people.”#tn Heb “to scatter it.” The word “people” has been supplied in the translation for clarity.