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Zechariah 9:8

8. And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.

8. Et castra metabor ad domum meam ab exercitu, a transeunte et redeunte; et non transibit super eos amplius exactor; quia nunc vidi oculis meis.


He concludes what he had been speaking of, — that God would be the guardian of his chosen people, so as to repel on every side the violent assaults of enemies. It is then the same as though he had said, “though the Church is not strongly fortified, it shall yet be impregnable, for God’s protection is of more value than all human strength, than all aids and helps.” God then compares himself here to a moat and a bulwark, and other kinds of fortresses, I will be, he says, a camp to my house. He mentions here house rather than city, that the Jews might feel confident that there was sufficient help in God alone, though they might dwell in a private house or in a cottage. “My Church, though it be a small house, will I yet surround with my defences, so as to render it safe from all harm.”

He says, from the army; and then, from him that passes through, and from him that returns. He places the army in opposition to the house; and thus he exhorts the Jews, not to regard their own strength, but to know that God alone is far better shall all armies. Though then the whole world united together and collected all its forces, he still bids them to be calmly confident, for God alone would be sufficient to put to flight all armies. And according to the same meaning he refers to him that passes through and who returns; as though he had said, “Though enemies may wander through the whole earth and occupy it from one end to the other, yet I will cause my house to remain safe.” By him that returns, he intimates, that though enemies renewed their armies the second and the third time, yet God’s strength would be always sufficient to check their assaults. In a word, what is here taught is the perpetuity of the safety of God’s people, for he will never be wearied in defending them, nor will his power be ever lessened. It often happens that those who with the best intention succor their neighbors, by degrees grow wearied, or they may have their efforts prevented by various events; but the Prophet tells us, that God is not like men, wearied or unable, after having once helped his people and repelled their enemies; for he will be always ready to aid his people, were enemies to renew the battle a hundred times.

By enemy then he means forces; by passing through, the obstinate cruelty of enemies; and by returning, new wars, which one undertakes, when disappointed of his hope, by collecting a new army and repairing his strength. 101101     Perhaps this is too great a refinement. Marckius gives this meaning, that the “army” is a marshalled force, and that the passer through and the returner are individual enemies. But our version is very literal, only that passing through and returning may be applied to the army, —
   And I will be a camp to mine house from an host,
From it when passing through and from it when returning.

   Or literally,

   From the passing through and from the returning (i.e. host.)

   Newcome’s version is,

   And I will encamp about mine house with an army.
So that none shall pass through or return.

   This is neither grammatically correct, nor consistent with posterior facts; for armies did pass through the land, though the house or temple of God was not invaded. Henderson’s version is in substance the same with what I have given,

   And I will encamp about my house because of the army,
Both when it passeth through and when it returneth.

   The following line may be thus rendered—

   And come upon them shall no more the oppressor.

   The Septuagint give for oppressor [ἐξελαύνων], the driver away or banisher; the Targum has “tyrant,” which Grotius adopts. “Oppressor” is the word used by Drusius, Newcome, and Henderson. It has been said that no foreign oppressor, like the Babylonians, had invaded the land from this time to the advent of Christ, though the Jews had suffered much both from the Eygptian and Syrian kings; but the language here is so strong, that the promise must be considered as conditional, as all those promises were which were connected with their national covenant. “No more” has no limit: hence the promise must be viewed as conditional.

   “This promise,” says Dr. M‘Caul, “is of the same nature as most of the others made to Israel; that is, conditional upon their obedience. Moses has repeatedly laid down this as the general principle of God’s dealings with the Jews, especially in reference to the possession of blessing and prosperity in the land. (Deuteronomy 30:15-18.)” — Ed.

At length he adds, And pass shall no more the extortioner through them. This sentence explains what he had figuratively expressed, — that though the Jews had been exposed to the will of their enemies, yet God would not hereafter suffer them to be unjustly treated and to be plundered as they had been: for under the name of extortioner he includes all plunderers who had spoiled the miserable Jews of their goods. Then he says, For I have seen with mine eyes. It would be frigid, nay insipid, to explain this clause as some do, that is, as though the Prophet had said, — that he related what had been made known to him from above: for on the contrary God testifies here, that he had seen with his eyes how cruelly and disgracefully the Jews had been treated. And some, while they regard God as the speaker, very unwisely give this explanation, — that God already foresaw what he would do. But evidently God assigns here, as I have said, a reason why he purposed to deliver the Jews from injuries, and for the future to keep them safe and defend them; and the reason given is, because he saw what grievous wrongs they were suffering. And the Prophet speaks according to the usual manner adopted in Scripture; for though nothing is hid from God’s eyes, yet he is rightly said to see what he takes notice of, and what he declares must be accounted for before his tribunal. Though then God saw even before the creation of the world what was to take place afterward in all ages, yet he is rightly said to see what he begins to call to judgment. The Jews indeed thought they were neglected by him; for the Scripture everywhere says, that God closes his eyes, is asleep, lies down, forgets, cares not, when he hides himself and appears not as the avenger of wrongs. Hence, on the other hand, the Lord declares here, that he saw with his eyes those things which were not to be tolerated, inasmuch as enemies had passed all bounds, and had so far advanced and indulged in wantonness, that their pride and cruelty were become intolerable.

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