The Sovereignty of the Lord
1 A day of the Lord#sn The eschatological day of the Lord described here (and through v. 8) is considered by many interpreters to refer to the period known as the great tribulation, a seven year time of great suffering by God’s (Jewish) people culminating in the establishing of the millennial reign of the Lord (vv. 9-21). For other OT and NT references to this aspect of the day of the Lord see Amos 9:8-15; Joel 1:15–2:11; Isa 1:24-31; 2:2-4; 4:2-6; 26:16–27:6; 33:13-24; 59:1–60:22; 65:13-25; Jer 30:7-11; 32:36-44; Ezek 20:33-44; Dan 11:40; 12:1; Matt 24:21, 29; 25:31-46; Rev 19:11-16. is about to come when your possessions#tn Heb “your plunder.” Cf. NCV “the wealth you have taken.” will be divided as plunder in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem#map For location see Map5-B1; Map6-F3; Map7-E2; Map8-F2; Map10-B3; JP1-F4; JP2-F4; JP3-F4; JP4-F4. to wage war; the city will be taken, its houses plundered, and the women raped. Then half of the city will go into exile, but the remainder of the people will not be taken away.#tn Heb “not be cut off from the city” (so NRSV); NAB “not be removed.”
3 Then the Lord will go to battle#sn The statement the Lord will go to battle introduces the conflict known elsewhere as the “battle of Armageddon,” a battle in which the Lord delivers his people and establishes his millennial reign (cf. Joel 3:12, 15-16; Ezek 38–39; Rev 16:12-21; 19:19-21). and fight against those nations, just as he fought battles in ancient days.#tn Heb “as he fights on a day of battle” (similar NASB, NIV, NRSV). 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives which lies to the east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in half from east to west, leaving a great valley. Half the mountain will move northward and the other half southward.#sn This seismic activity provides a means of escape from Jerusalem so that the Messiah (the Lord), whose feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, may destroy the wicked nations in the Kidron Valley (the v. of Jehoshaphat, or of “judgment of the Lord”) without harming the inhabitants of the city. 5 Then you will escape#tc For the MT reading נַסְתֶּם (nastem, “you will escape”) the LXX presupposes נִסְתַּם (nistam, “will be stopped up”; this reading is followed by NAB). This appears to derive from a perceived need to eliminate the unexpected “you” as subject. This not only is unnecessary to Hebrew discourse (see “you” in the next clause), but it contradicts the statement in the previous verse that the mountain will be split open, not stopped up. through my mountain valley, for the mountains will extend to Azal.#sn Azal is a place otherwise unknown. Indeed, you will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah#sn The earthquake in the days of King Uzziah, also mentioned in Amos 1:1, is apparently the one attested to at Hazor in 760 b.c. of Judah. Then the Lord my God will come with all his holy ones with him. 6 On that day there will be no light – the sources of light in the heavens will congeal.#tn Heb “the splendid will congeal.” This difficult phrase (MT יְקָרוֹת יְקִפָּאוֹן, yÿqarot yÿqippa’on) is not clarified by the LXX which presupposes וְקָרוּת וְקִפָּאוֹן (vÿqarut vÿqippa’on, “and cold and ice,” a reading followed by NAB, NIV, NCV, NRSV, TEV). Besides the fact that cold and ice do not necessarily follow the absence of light, the idea here is that day will be night and night day. The heavenly sources of light “freeze up” as it were, and refuse to shine. 7 It will happen in one day (a day known to the Lord); not in the day or the night, but in the evening there will be light.#sn In the evening there will be light. The normal pattern is that light breaks through in the morning (Gen 1:3) but in the day of the Lord in judgment it would do so in the evening. In a sense the universe will be “de-created” in order to be “recreated.” 8 Moreover, on that day living waters will flow out from Jerusalem,#sn Living waters will flow out from Jerusalem. Ezekiel sees this same phenomenon in conjunction with the inauguration of the messianic age (Ezek 47; cf. Rev 22:1-5; also John 7:38). half of them to the eastern sea#sn The eastern sea is a reference to the Dead Sea (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT). and half of them to the western sea;#sn The western sea is a reference to the Mediterranean Sea (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT). it will happen both in summer and in winter.
9 The Lord will then be king over all the earth. In that day the Lord will be seen as one with a single name.#sn The expression the Lord will be seen as one with a single name is an unmistakable reference to the so-called Shema, the crystallized statement of faith in the Lord as the covenant God of Israel (cf. Deut 6:4-5). Zechariah, however, universalizes the extent of the Lord’s dominion – he will be “king over all the earth.” 10 All the land will change and become like the Arabah#tn Or “like a plain” (similar KJV, NAB, NASB, NCV, NRSV, NLT); or “like a steppe”; cf. CEV “flatlands.” The Hebrew term עֲרָבָה (’aravah) refers to an arid plain or steppe, but can be used specifically as the name of the rift valley running from the Sea of Galilee via the Jordan Valley and the Dead Sea to the Gulf of Aqaba. from Geba to Rimmon,#sn The expression from Geba to Rimmon is a way of indicating the extent of all Judah from north (2 Kgs 23:8) to south (Job 15:32; 19:7). Since Geba (Heb. גֶּבַע) means “hill” and Rimmon resembles the word for height (Heb. רָמָה, ramah), this could be a play on words suggesting that all the high country will be made low, like the great Arabah valley. south of Jerusalem; and Jerusalem will be raised up and will stay in its own place from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate#tn Or “old gate” (NLT); or “former gate” (NRSV). and on to the Corner Gate,#sn From the Benjamin Gate…on to the Corner Gate marks the northern wall of the city of Jerusalem from east to west. and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.#sn From the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses indicates the extent of Jerusalem from north to south. 11 And people will settle there, and there will no longer be the threat of divine extermination – Jerusalem will dwell in security.
12 But this will be the nature of the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that have fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will decay while they stand on their feet, their eyes will rot away in their sockets, and their tongues will dissolve in their mouths. 13 On that day there will be great confusion from the Lord among them; they will seize each other and attack one another violently. 14 Moreover, Judah will fight at#tn The Hebrew phrase בִּירוּשָׁלָם (birushalam) with the verb נִלְחַם (nilkham, “make war”) would ordinarily suggest that Judah is fighting against Jerusalem (so NAB, CEV). While this could happen accidentally, the context here favors the idea that Judah is fighting alongside Jerusalem against a common enemy. The preposition בְּ (bÿ), then, should be construed as locative (“at”; cf. KJV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT). Jerusalem, and the wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered up#tn The term translated “gathered up” could also be rendered “collected” (so NIV, NCV, NRSV, although this might suggest a form of taxation) or “confiscated” (which might imply seizure of property against someone’s will). The imagery in the context, however, suggests the aftermath of a great battle, where the spoils are being picked up by the victors (cf. NLT “captured”). – gold, silver, and clothing in great abundance. 15 This is the kind of plague that will devastate horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all the other animals in those camps.
16 Then all who survive from all the nations that came to attack Jerusalem will go up annually to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, and to observe the Feast of Tabernacles.#sn Having imposed his sovereignty over the earth following the Battle of Armageddon, the Lord will receive homage and tribute from all who survive from all the nations. The Feast of Tabernacles was especially associated with covenant institution and renewal so it will be appropriate for all people to acknowledge that they are vassals to the Lord at that time (cf. Deut 31:9-13; Neh 8:12-18; 9:1-38). 17 But if any of the nations anywhere on earth refuse to go up to Jerusalem#sn The reference to any…who refuse to go up to Jerusalem makes clear the fact that the nations are by no means “converted” to the Lord but are under his compulsory domination. to worship the King, the Lord who rules over all, they will get no rain. 18 If the Egyptians will not do so, they will get no rain – instead there will be the kind of plague which the Lord inflicts on any nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and of all nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
20 On that day the bells of the horses will bear the inscription “Holy to the Lord.” The cooking pots in the Lord’s temple#tn Heb “house” (also in the following verse). will be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar.#sn In the glory of the messianic age there will be no differences between the sacred (the bowls before the altar) and the profane (the cooking pots in the Lord’s temple) – all will be dedicated to his use. 21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will become holy in the sight of the Lord who rules over all, so that all who offer sacrifices may come and use some of them to boil their sacrifices in them. On that day there will no longer be a Canaanite#tn Or “merchant”; “trader” (because Canaanites, especially Phoenicians, were merchants and traders; cf. BDB 489 s.v. I and II כְּנַעֲנִי). English versions have rendered the term as “Canaanite” (KJV, NKJV, NASB, NIV), “trader” (RSV, NEB), “traders” (NRSV, NLT), or “merchant” (NAB), although frequently a note is given explaining the other option. Cf. also John 2:16.sn This is not to preclude the Canaanite (or anyone else) from worship; the point is that in the messianic age all such ethnic and religious distinctions will be erased and all people will be eligible to worship the Lord. in the house of the Lord who rules over all.