Zechariah 9:1-17

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

Zechariah 9


 IV.     The Oracles Concerning the Future, 9:1 - 14:21

            A.  The First Oracle, 9:1 - 11:17

                        1.   The victories of Alexander the Great, 9:1-8


(BKC) The final division of the book consists of two oracles . . . that look forward to the messianic King and kingdom. Chapters 9-11 refer (for the most part) to the First Advent of Christ, stressing the theme of His rejection but also outlining Israel’s prophetic history to the end times. Chapters 12-14 focus on Messiah’s Second Advent and emphasize His enthronement as the commencement of the grand finale of Israel’s history.


(BKC) Alexander the Great was probably the human cause of the destruction set forth in these and the following verses (the order of the cities seems to correspond generally with Alexander’s line of march). But his involvement is bypassed in this prophecy to stress the ultimate cause of the judgment on certain cities and countries beginning north of Israel.


In verses 1-8 God is using the Greeks to bring judgment on the cities north and west of Jerusalem just as he previously used the Medes and Persians to bring judgment on the Babylonian empire. Zechariah is prophesying in the late 500s B.C., but these events will not occur until the late 300s B.C., between 333 B.C. and 323 B.C.


Zechariah 9:1 The burden of the word of the LORD [i.e. a “burden” is an oracle announcing God’s judgment] in the land of Hadrach [i.e. against the land of Hadrach], and Damascus shall be the rest thereof [i.e. with Damascus as its resting place = it will come to rest upon Damascus]: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD [i.e. for the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel shall be on the LORD].


(BKC) The northernmost location, Hadrach, was probably Hatarikka a city and country lying north of Hamath and mentioned in Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions. Damascus was the capital of Aram (Syria). The words, the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel are on the Lord indicate the awe of all peoples at the divine judgment brought on their cities.


Zechariah 9:2 And [i.e. and also against] Hamath [i.e. a city in northern Syria north of Damascus] also shall border thereby [i.e. and also against Hamath which borders on Damascus]; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise [i.e. and against Tyre and Sidon though they are very wise].


Zechariah 9:3 And Tyrus [i.e. Tyre] did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire [or dirt] of the streets.


(BKC) Tyre was a stronghold, a citadel of defense which had withstood a 5-year siege by the Assyrians under Shalmaneser V and, years later, a 13-year siege by the Babylonian army of Nebuchadnezzar. Her commercial and economic self-sufficiency is reflected in figures of speech which speak of silver being as common as dust and gold as common as the dirt. . . . Her impoverishment and destruction by Alexander’s relatively brief five month siege are ascribed to God’s ultimate action in destroying her power on the sea. . . .


Zechariah 9:4 Behold, the Lord will cast her [i.e. Tyre] out, and he will smite [i.e. destroy] her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.


9:3-4 – (RSB) strong hold. The prosperous island city, which had survived several long sieges, was destroyed by Alexander after only a five-month siege because of God’s involvement (v. 4).


Following the capture of Jerusalem (586 B.C.), the Babylonians under the leadership of Nebuchdnezzar lay siege to the city of Tyre for 13 years without success. During the siege most of the people in Tyre abandoned the city and moved from the mainland to an island in the Mediterranean about a half mile offshore.


About 250 years later Alexander the Great, using the debris from ancient Tyre, led his army to build a causeway from the mainland to the island and captured the island city after a brief siege.


Zechariah 9:5 Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed [i.e. her hope will wither (or dry up)]; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited [i.e. it will be completely deserted].


Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron were ancient Philistine cities.


Zechariah 9:6 And a bastard [i.e. a mixed race] shall dwell in Ashdod [i.e. another Philistine city], and I [i.e. God] will cut off the pride of the Philistines.


Zechariah 9:7 And I [i.e. God] will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.


(BKC) The blood and the forbidden food [i.e. referring to his abominations] (from idolatrous sacrifices) removed from the very mouths and clenched teeth of some Philistines indicate their removal from idolatry to belong to the God of Israel and even become leaders in Judah. Like the Jebusites, they will be absorbed into the population of God’s people. Since there is no evidence that this was fulfilled in the invasion of Alexander, it apparently awaits future fulfillment as part of the blessing that will result from the messianic rule . . . .


Zechariah 9:8 And I [i.e. God] will encamp about mine house because of the army [i.e. I will guard my Temple and protect it from invading armies], because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more [i.e. no foreign oppressor will ever again overrun my people’s land]: for now have I [i.e. God] seen with mine eyes.


Before Alexander the Great died in 323 B.C., he had conquered the Persian Empire. Following his death, his kingdom was divided into four parts with four of his generals ruling over the four divisions. A general named Seleucid reigned over Syria, and a general named Ptolemy reigned over Egypt. For many years the Seleucids and Ptolemies warred against each other with Israel in the middle. This means that the armies of the Seleucids passed through Israel and then went back home again and the armies of the Ptolemies passed through Israel and then went back home again. These armies passing through Israel caused much havoc in Israel. Eventually the Lord will put a stop to this. As a result, no oppressor will ever pass through Israel again. This awaits a fulfillment after the second coming of Christ.


                        2.   The comings of the King, 9:9-10

Zechariah sees the coming of Christ but does not see the church age separating the first and second comings of Christ. The same is true of other Old Testament prophets. The church age was a mystery.

The first coming of Christ –

Zechariah 9:9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion [i.e. a personification of the inhabitants of Israel]; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem [i.e. another personification of the inhabitants of Israel]: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass [i.e. upon a donkey, upon the foal of a donkeythere is only one donkey involved, and it is a young donkey]


A foal is a young donkey, horse, or mule up to a year old. It means that Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a young donkey.


9:9 – (RSB) This great prophecy was fulfilled completely at the first advent of Jesus Christ when He presented Himself to Israel as her King during His Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday (Matt. 21:4-5). In sharp contrast to Alexander, Messiah is just, brings salvation, and is lowly.


(RSB) the foal of an ass. Lit., the son of a she-ass.


Matthew 21:4-54 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and [i.e. even] a colt the foal of an ass.


(BKC) . . . The announcement that your King comes to you refers to the long-awaited King and Messiah. . . . Righteous describes both His character and His reign. . . . The phrase having salvation denotes that He will come as a Deliverer, as One to give salvation to others. . . . His peaceful entrance – riding on a donkey – was fulfilled when He presented Himself to Israel in the Triumphal Entry (Matt. 21:1-5). In the ancient Near East, if a king came in peace, he would ride on a donkey instead of on a war stallion. Christ rode on a colt, the foal (lit., “son”) of a donkey. . . . Like some other Old Testament prophecies this one (Zech. 9:9-10) blends two events into one perspective – events that the New Testament divides into two distinct advents of Christ separated by the present Church Age. . . . In His First Advent He rode on a donkey and presented Himself to the nation Israel but they rejected Him as their King. So His universal rule (Zech. 9:10) will be established when He comes again.

The second coming of Christ –

Zechariah 9:10 And I [i.e. God] will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse [i.e. the war horses] from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he [i.e. the Messiah] shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion [i.e. the Messiah’s rule] shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river [i.e. the Euphrates River] even to the ends of the earth.


9:10 – (RSB) Because Israel rejected her Messiah at His first coming, the fulfillment of this prophecy of universal peace awaits the second advent of Christ.


(BKC) Messiah will establish peace. . . . God’s destruction of war instruments – removing the chariots, the war horses, and the battle bow – signifies the end of war in the Millennium (cf. Isa. 2:4; Micah 4:3 ). This peaceful rule of the coming messianic King will extend from the River (the Euphrates; cf. Micah 7:12 . . .) to the ends of the earth. These expressions clearly indicate the worldwide extent of the messianic kingdom.


Isaiah 2:4 And he shall judge among the nations, and shall rebuke many people: and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


Micah 4:3 And he shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more.


Micah 7:12 In that day also he shall come even to thee from Assyria, and from the fortified cities [i.e. the term translated “fortified” is a name for Egypt], and from the fortress [i.e. from Egypt – the same word translated “fortified” in the previous phrase] even to the river [i.e. to the Euphrates River], and from sea to sea, and from mountain to mountain [i.e. from around the globe].


                        3.   The victories of the Maccabees, 9:11-17


Zechariah 9:11 As for thee [i.e. Israel] also, by the blood of thy covenant I [i.e. God] have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.


(RSB) blood of thy covenant. probably the Abrahamic covenant, which was ratified with a blood sacrifice (Gen. 15:9-10), though possibly the Mosaic, which required many blood sacrifices.


(RSB) pit wherein is no water. Cisterns used as dungeons.


(BKC) The pit wherein is no water is probably a figure for the place of exile [i.e. Babylon].


Zechariah 9:12 Turn you to the strong hold [i.e. a reference to Jerusalem], ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I [i.e. God] declare that I will render double unto thee [i.e. I will restore double to you];


9:11-12 – (RSB) Restoration and blessing for those still in Babylon is promised.


(BKC) His blessings in the Millennium will far exceed anything Israel has ever known.


9:13-17 – (RSB) These verses predict the defeat of Greece (particularly of Antiochus Epiphanes) by the Jewish people during the Maccabean era (second century B.C.).


(BKC) This Jewish victory foreshadowed Israel’s final conflict and victory when God will bring them into millennial blessing.


Zechariah 9:13 When I [i.e. God] have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee [i.e. made you Judah] as the sword of a mighty man.


(BKC) As the bow and arrow (that which “fills” the bow) are each essential to the other, so Judah and Ephraim (Ephraim represents the 10 Northern tribes of Israel) will be reunited. The reference to these weapons of warfare (including the warrior’s sword) indicates that God will empower His people to defeat the enemy, the sons of Greece.


Between the years of 333 B.C. and 323 B.C. Alexander the Great led Greece to conquer all the territory held by the Medo-Persian empire. When Alexander died in 323, his kingdom was divided among his four generals. Seleucus ruled over Syria, and Ptolemy rule over Egypt. Their descendants, known as the Seleucids and the Ptolemies fought many battles over the next 150 years with Judah and Israel in the middle between them.


In 168 B.C. a Seleucid king named Antiochus IV Epiphanes desecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and the Jews revolted under the leadership of Judas Maccabees.


Zechariah 9:14 And the LORD shall be seen over them [i.e. Israel], and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south [i.e. the Lord will go out against His enemies like whirlwinds out of the south].


Zechariah 9:15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them [i.e. Israel]; and they shall devour, and subdue [i.e. overcome] with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine [i.e. roar (or shout) in battle as though drunk with wine]; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar [i.e. They will be filled with blood like a bowl, drenched with blood like the corners of the altar].


9:14-15. (BKC) The description of a thunderstorm controlled by God (v. 14) pictures poetically Israel’s empowerment for victory over her enemies (v. 15). The divine appearance was through providential means in the Maccabean period but will be literal and visible when Christ appears victoriously at His Second Advent. The last part of verse 15 pictures Israel’s unrestrained joy and fulness of rejoicing because of God’s mighty deliverance.


Zechariah 9:16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day [i.e. that day refers to the end time] as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land [i.e. For they shall be like the jewels of a crown, lifted like a banner over His land].


Zechariah 9:17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn [i.e. grain] shall make the young men cheerful [i.e. thrive], and new wine the maids [i.e. the young women].