Second Vision: The Four Horns and the Four Smiths. 1I raised my eyes and looked and there were four horns.#Four horns: symbols of the total political and military might of Judah’s imperial adversaries, probably representing Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. The number four represents universality rather than any specific number of foes. 2Then I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are those?” He answered, “Those are the horns that scattered#Scattered: sent part of the population into exile. This was standard imperial policy initiated in the ancient Near East by the Assyrians for dealing with a conquered state. Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”#Dt 33:17; Dn 7:8.
3Then the Lord showed me four workmen.#Four workmen: four agents of God’s power. The imagery follows that of four horns: the workers cut down, or make ineffectual, the horns, i.e., enemy. 4And I said, “What are these coming to do?” And the Lord said, “Those are the horns that scattered Judah, so that none could raise their heads any more;#Jer 48:25. and these have come to terrify them—to cut down the horns of the nations that raised their horns to scatter the land of Judah.”
Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Cord. 5I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord#Measuring cord: a string for measuring, as opposed to a builder’s string, 1:16. in his hand.#Jer 31:38–39; Ez 41:13; Rev 11:1; 21:15. 6I asked, “Where are you going?” And he said, “To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.”
7Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him 8and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official:#That official: probably the man with the measuring cord of v. 5. Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst.#Is 49:19–20; 54:2–3; Jer 31:27; Ez 38:11. 9I will be an encircling wall of fire#Encircling wall of fire: divine protection for an unwalled Jerusalem. Urban centers were generally walled, and Jerusalem’s walls were eventually rebuilt in the late fifth century B.C. (Neh 2:17–20). for it—oracle of the Lord—and I will be the glory in its midst.”#Rev 21:23; 22:3–5.
Expansion on the Themes of the First Three Visions. 10Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north#Land of the north: refers to Babylon (v. 11), in a geographic rather than a political sense, as the place from which exiles will return. The designation is “north” because imperial invaders historically entered Palestine from that direction (see Jer 3:18; 23:8).—oracle of the Lord;—For like the four winds of heaven I have dispersed you—oracle of the Lord.#Zec 6:5; Is 48:20; Jer 50:8; 51:6. 11Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell in daughter Babylon! 12For thus says the Lord of hosts after the Lord’s glory had sent me, concerning the nations that have plundered you: Whoever strikes you strikes me directly in the eye.#Dt 32:10; Ps 17:8. 13Now I wave my hand over them, and they become plunder for their own servants.#Is 14:2; Zep 3:15. Thus you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. 14Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord. 15Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day.#Is 56:6; 66:18. They will be my people,#Many nations
my people: a way of expressing God’s relationship to people in covenant language. The covenant between God and Israel (see Jer 31:33; 32:38) is here universalized to include all nations. and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 16The Lord will inherit Judah#Zec 1:17. as his portion of the holy land,#The holy land: the Lord’s earthly territory, a designation found only rarely in the Old Testament. and the Lord will again choose Jerusalem. 17Silence, all people, in the presence of the Lord, who stirs forth from his holy dwelling.#Hb 2:20; Zep 1:7; Rev 8:1a.