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Restoration of Judah and Israel


Ask rain from the L ord

in the season of the spring rain,

from the L ord who makes the storm clouds,

who gives showers of rain to you,

the vegetation in the field to everyone.


For the teraphim utter nonsense,

and the diviners see lies;

the dreamers tell false dreams,

and give empty consolation.

Therefore the people wander like sheep;

they suffer for lack of a shepherd.



My anger is hot against the shepherds,

and I will punish the leaders;

for the L ord of hosts cares for his flock, the house of Judah,

and will make them like his proud war-horse.


Out of them shall come the cornerstone,

out of them the tent peg,

out of them the battle bow,

out of them every commander.


Together they shall be like warriors in battle,

trampling the foe in the mud of the streets;

they shall fight, for the L ord is with them,

and they shall put to shame the riders on horses.



I will strengthen the house of Judah,

and I will save the house of Joseph.

I will bring them back because I have compassion on them,

and they shall be as though I had not rejected them;

for I am the L ord their God and I will answer them.


Then the people of Ephraim shall become like warriors,

and their hearts shall be glad as with wine.

Their children shall see it and rejoice,

their hearts shall exult in the L ord.



I will signal for them and gather them in,

for I have redeemed them,

and they shall be as numerous as they were before.


Though I scattered them among the nations,

yet in far countries they shall remember me,

and they shall rear their children and return.


I will bring them home from the land of Egypt,

and gather them from Assyria;

I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon,

until there is no room for them.


They shall pass through the sea of distress,

and the waves of the sea shall be struck down,

and all the depths of the Nile dried up.

The pride of Assyria shall be laid low,

and the scepter of Egypt shall depart.


I will make them strong in the L ord,

and they shall walk in his name,

says the L ord.


The same is the object of this verse. By the word whistle, Zechariah means what it imports in other passages, — that it will not be an arduous world for God; for we are wont to measure his works by what our flesh understands. Since then the Jews might have easily raised this objection, — that their brethren were dispersed through various countries and among many nations, so that the assembling of them was incredible, the Prophet meets this objection and says, that God was able by mere whistling or by a single nod to restore them to their country. God is sometimes said to whistle for the wicked, when he constrains them unwillingly to do him service, and employs them as instruments to execute his hidden purposes; for when great armies daily assemble, it is no doubt through the secret appointment of God. When therefore trumpets sound and drums beat, the Lord whistles from heaven, to lead the reprobate here and there as it pleases him. But in this passage the Prophet simply means, that though God may not have many heralds nor an equipped army to open a way for his people, he will be satisfied with whistling only; for when it should please him, a free passage would be made for captives, though the whole world were to hinder their return. These two words then are to be joined together, I will whistle for them and gather them; as though Zechariah had said, that the nod of God would alone be sufficient, whenever he designed to gather the people. 124124     The word rendered here “whistle,” is rendered “hist,” by Lowth, in Isaiah 5:26; 7:18; and he quotes Cyril, who says, “it is a metaphor taken from the practice of those who keep bees; who draw them out of their hives into the fields, and lead them back again by a hiss or a whistle.” This is probable, for it is connected in Isaiah 7:18 with the fly and the bee. Grotius takes the metaphor from the whistle of the shepherd, by which he collects his sheep. — Ed.

He then adds, For I have redeemed them. Here also I retain the past time, as the verb is in the past tense: for God speaks of redemption already begun, as though he had said, “I have promised that your exile would only be for a time; I have already appeared in part as your Redeemer, and I will not discontinue my work until it be completed.” God then no doubt confirms here what I have stated, — that as he had begun in some measure to redeem his people, a complete redemption was to be expected, though the distressed could hardly believe this. But they ought to have felt assured, that God, as it is said in Psalm 138:1, would not forsake the work of his hands. Hence by the consideration of what had commenced he encourages the Jews here to entertain confidence, so that they might with composed minds look for the end, and doubt not but that the whole people would be saved; for the Lord had already proved himself to be their Redeemer. 125125     The verb for “redeem” is in the past time, preceded by [כי], for, because, or when. The Septuagint give the future time, “because I shall redeem them.” Jun. and Trem., and Piscator read thus, “when I shall redeem them.” There is a similar phrase in verse 6, and in a like manner connected, which may be rendered in the same way, “when I shall pity them,” instead of, “for I have pitied them:” for [כי], as well as [ו], has sometimes a conversive power, at least it turns the past to a future time. — Ed. It is indeed true that this had not been fulfilled as to all the Israelites: but we must ever remember, that gratuitous election so existed as to the whole people, that God had notwithstanding but a small flock, as Paul teaches us. (Romans 11:5.) The Prophet at the same time intimates that Christ would be the head of the Church, and would gather from all parts of the earth the Jews who had been before scattered; and thus the promised restoration is to be extended to all the tribes. It afterwards follows —

He continues the same subject, and employs here a most suitable metaphor — that the dispersion of the people would have a better issue than what any one then could have conceived, for it would be like sowing. The verb for scattering or sowing is often taken in a bad sense; for when people rested in their country, they ought then to have considered that they were living under God’s protection. Dispersion, then, was an evidence of a curse, and it is often so taken by Moses. Now God uses it here in an opposite meaning, as though he had said, that he would at his pleasure turn darkness into light. The meaning then is, that the people had been dispersed through God being angry with them, but that the issue of this dispersion would be joyful; for the Jews would dwell everywhere, and be God’s seed, and thus be made to produce abundant fruit. We then see that the meaning is, that God’s favor would surpass the wickedness of the people; for those would bear fruit who had been scattered, and scattered because God would no longer exercise care over them, and defend them in the promised land. As God then had so often threatened by Moses that he would scatter the Jews, he now says in another sense, that he would sow them, and for this ends that they might everywhere produce fruit. 126126     The sowing here, as admitted by all, evidently means scattering; yet the verse is rendered differently. Dathius and Henderson render the first [ו] “though,” and the second “yet.” This and the following verse may be thus translated —

   9. Though I shall scatter them among the nations, Yet in remote parts shall they remember me; And they shall live, even their children, and return:

   10. Yea, I will restore them from the land of Egypt, And from Assyria will I gather them; And to the land of Gilead and Lebanon will I bring thm, And no place shall be found for them.

   “And they shall live” I take to mean, that they should live, not themselves, but in their children. But Dathius and Newcome follow the Septuagint — “And they shall cherish (or, preserve) their children,” which the Hebrew will not bear; and Marckius and Henderson give the same version with Calvin — “And they shall live with their children.” — Ed.

It was an instance of the wonderful grace of God, that he so ordered his dreadful judgment as to make the dispersion, as it has been said, a sowing of the people; for it hence happened, that the knowledge of celestial truth shone everywhere; and at length when the gospel was proclaimed, a freer access was had to the Gentiles, because Jews were dispersed through all lands. The first receptacles (Hospitia) of the gospel were the synagogues. We see that the apostles everywhere went first to the Jews, and when a few were converted, the door was now opened that more might come, and Gentiles were also added to the Jews. Thus the punishment of exile, which had been inflicted on them, was the means of opening the door for the gospel; and God thus scattered his seed here and there, that it might in due time produce fruit beyond the expectation of all; and this consideration availed not a little to moderate the impatient desires of the people; for the Prophet intimates that this alone ought to have satisfied them — that their exile would be productive of good, for the Lord would thereby gather much people to himself. Had the Jews been confined within their own borders, the name of the God of Israel would not have been heard of elsewhere; but as there was no part of the East, no part of Asia and of Greece, which had not some Jews — and they inhabited many cities of Italy — hence it was that the Apostles found, as we have said, wherever they came, some already prepared to embrace the gospel.

He afterwards adds, They shall remember me in distant lands. He shows the manner how the memory of God would be preserved: though the Jews sacrificed not in the temple, though they dwelt not in the holy land, they would yet ever worship the only true God; as then the seed cast on the ground, though it may not appear, and seem even to be wholly lost, being apparently consumed by rottenness, does yet germinate in its season, and produces fruit; so God teaches us, that the memory of his name will occasion this people to fructify in their dispersion. But as God promises this, we hence learn that it is through his singular kindness that we cherish piety in our hearts, when he sharply and severely chastises us. When therefore we cease not to worship God, it is certain that we are kept by his Spirit; for were this in the power of man, this promise would be useless, and even absurd.

He says further, They shall live with their sons, and shall return. He again speaks of sons, that the Jews might not make too much haste; for we know that men, having strong desires, hurry on immoderately. That they might not then prescribe time to God, the Prophet reminds them that it ought to have been enough for them that the Lord would quicken them as it were from the dead, together with their children. He however promises them a return, not that they would return to their own country, but that they would be all united by the faith of the gospel. Though then they changed not their place, nor moved a foot from the lands where they sojourned, yet a return to their country would be that gathering which would be made by the truth of the gospel, as it is well known, according to the common mode of speaking adopted by all the Prophets. It follows —

He confirms the same prediction — that though the Jews were like broken pieces, they were yet to entertain hope of their return and future restoration, since God was able to gather them from the remotest parts whenever he stretched forth his hand. He then names Egypt and Assyria, that the Jews might know that the redemptions here promised is equally open to them all, however far separated they might be. For though Egypt was not very far from Assyria, yet they who had fled to Egypt were regarded with more dislike than the rest, who had been forcibly driven into exile; for God had pronounced a curse on the flight of those who sought refuge in Egypt. Since then they were hated by the others, and as a hostile discord existed between them, the Prophet says that the gathering of which he speaks would belong to both. 127127     This promise of restoration from Egypt and Assyria is considered by Grotius, Dathius, and Henderson, as having been fulfilled literally. Grotius says that one hundred and twenty thousand were restored from Egypt [a larger number than what was restored from Babylon] by Ptolemy Philadelphus, and that many were restored from Assyria by Alexander, the son of Antiochus Epiphanes, and by Demetrius; and he refers to Josephus’s of the Fathers, and some moderns, such as Marckius and Henry, viewed the prophecy as fulfilled in a spiritual sense, that is, in the spiritual restoration of the Jews, the language being taken from what belonged to a temporal restoration. But Scott and Adam Clarke seemed disposed to regard this prophecy as yet to be fulfilled, in the restoration of the Jews to their own land, as well as to the faith of the gospel. — Ed.

He then adds, that such would be the number of men, that there would be no place for them; for so ought these words to be understood, There shall not be found for them; that is, “They will cover the whole land,” according to what we have observed elsewhere. It is said in Isaiah, “Secede from me,” not that the faithful, when God shall increase his Church, will molest one another, or desire to drive away their brethren; but by this mode of speaking Isaiah means that the Church will be filled with such number of men that they will press on one another. So also now Zechariah says, that the number of people will be so great, that the place will be hardly large enough for so vast a multitude. It follows —

The Prophet confirms what he had said respecting the power of God, which is so great that it can easily and without any effort lay prostrate all the mighty forces of the world. As then the impediments which the Jews observed might have subverted their hope, the Prophet here removes them; he reminds the Jews that God’s power would be far superior to all the impediments which the world could throw in their way. But the expressions are figurative, and allusions are made to the history of the first redemption.

Pass through the sea shall distress. As God formerly gave to his people a passage through the Red Sea, (Exodus 14:21;) so the Prophet now testifies that this power was unchangeable, so that God could easily restore his people, though the sea was to be dried up, and rivers were to be emptied. He says first, Pass shall distress through the sea, that is, spread shall distress, etc., for so the verb עבר, ober, is to be taken here. Pass then shall distress through the sea, 128128     So Pagninus, Drusius, and the Syriac. The Septuagint, the Arabic, the Vulgate, and also Jerome, give a different version — “And he shall pass through the narrow sea,” or, “through the straits of the sea;” and this is the obvious meaning of the Hebrew, which is literally, “and he shall pass through the sea of straitness,” or narrowness, i.e., through the (or a) narrow sea; the allusion is evidently to the Red Sea, which is narrow. Henderson connects [צרה] as a verb with the following line —
   He shall cleave and smite the waves of the sea.

   He derives the peculiar sense of “cleaving” from the Chaldee [צרא]: but this is not necessary, for the other meaning is quite suitable, and countenanced by good authorities. Blayney give this version —

   And some shall pass over the sea to Tyre;

   which is quite without any meaning in this connection, there being nothing in the passage to lead us to Tyre. — Ed.
that is, the Lord will terrify the sea, and so shake it with his power that the waters will obey his command. But he afterwards explains himself in other words, He will smite the waves in the sea. He means that God’s command is sufficient to change the order of nature, so that the waters would immediately disappear at his bidding. He then adds, All the depths of the river shall dry up; some read, “shall be ashamed,” deriving the verb from בוש, bush; but it comes from יבש, ibesh: and this indeed means sometimes to be ashamed, but it means here to dry up. Others regard it as transitive, “The wind shall dry up the depths.” But as to the object of the Prophet, the passive or active sense of the verb is of no moment; for the Prophet no doubt means here, that there would be so much force in the very nod of God as to dry up rivers suddenly, according to what happened to Jordan; which being smitten by the rod of Moses dried up and afforded a passage to the people.

He at length speaks clearly, Cast down shall be the pride of Asshur, and the scepter of Egypt shall depart. In the preceding metaphor Zechariah alludes, as I have said, to the first redemption, as it was usual with all the Prophets to remind the people of the former miracles, that they might expect from the Lord in future what their fathers had witnessed. He now however declares, that God would be the Redeemer of his people, though the Assyrians on one side, and the Egyptians on the other, were to attempt to frustrate his purpose; for they could effect nothing by their obstinacy, as God could easily subdue both. He at last adds —

Here at length he includes the substance of what we have noticed, that there would be sufficient help in God to raise up and support his people, and to render them victorious over all their enemies. He had already proved this by saying, that God had formerly sufficiently testified by many miracles how much superior he was to the whole world; but he briefly completes the whole of this proof, and shows, that the Jews, provided that they relied on God and expected from him what he had promised, would be sufficiently strong, though the whole power of the world were to rise up against them.

He also mentions the name of God, They shall walk, he says, in his name, that is, under his auspices. In short, there is here an implied contrast between the name of God and the wealth and the forces of their enemies, which might have filled the minds of the faithful with fear, and cast them down. Hence the Prophet bids the Jews to give the glory to God, and not to doubt but that they would be victorious, whatever hindrance the world might throw in their way. And by this word walk, he means a continued course of life, as though he had said, that the people indeed had returned from exile, that is, in part; but that more of them were to be expected, for the Lord had not only been a leader in their return, but that he would be also their perpetual guardian, and defend them to the end.

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