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12

Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope;

today I declare that I will restore to you double.


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Zechariah proceeds with the same subject. He bids the Jews suddenly to retake themselves to their fortress. There is no doubt but that he means by that term the holy land; nor do I oppose the opinion of those who think the temple to be intended: for Jerusalem and the whole of Judea is called a fortress, and for this reason, because God had chosen his sanctuary there. It is then the same, as though one wishing to collect a dispersed and straggling band of soldiers were to say, “To the standard, to the standard;” or, “To the troop, to the troop.” For though Judea was not then fortified, nay, Jerusalem itself had no high wall or strong towers, yet they had God as their stronghold, and this was impregnable; for he had promised that the Jews would be safe under the shadow of his wings, though exposed to the caprices of all around them. Nor does he here address them only who had returned, or the exiles who still remained scattered in the East; but by this declaration he encourages the whole Church, that they might be fully persuaded that when assembled under the protection of God, they were as fortified as though they were on every side surrounded by the strongest citadels, and that there would be no access open to enemies.

Return ye then to the stronghold. This could not have appeared unreasonable; for we know that when they were building the city their work was often interrupted; and we know also that the temple was not then fortified by a wall. But Zechariah teaches them, that in that state of things there was sufficient defense in God alone. Though then the Jews were not made safe by moats, or by walls, or by mounds, he yet reminds them, that God would be sufficient to defend them, and that he would be to them, as it is said in another place, a wall and a rampart. (Isaiah 26:1.)

But it is not without reason that he calls them the captives of hope; for many had wholly alienated themselves from God and altogether fallen away, so as to be unworthy of any promise. By this mark then he distinguishes between the faithful captives and those who had wholly degenerated and separated themselves from the family of God, so as no more to be counted among his people. And this ought to be carefully noticed, which interpreters have coldly passed by. They have indeed said, that they are called captives of hope, because they hoped to be saved; but they have not observed the distinction, by which Zechariah intended to convey reproof to the unbelieving Jews. It was therefore not without meaning that he directed his word to the faithful only, who were not only captives, but also captives having hope. I cannot finish today.




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