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Future Warfare and Final Victory


See, a day is coming for the L ord, when the plunder taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem to battle, and the city shall be taken and the houses looted and the women raped; half the city shall go into exile, but the rest of the people shall not be cut off from the city. 3Then the L ord will go forth and fight against those nations as when he fights on a day of battle. 4On that day his feet shall stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies before Jerusalem on the east; and the Mount of Olives shall be split in two from east to west by a very wide valley; so that one half of the Mount shall withdraw northward, and the other half southward. 5And you shall flee by the valley of the L ord’s mountain, for the valley between the mountains shall reach to Azal; and you shall flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the L ord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.

6 On that day there shall not be either cold or frost. 7And there shall be continuous day (it is known to the L ord), not day and not night, for at evening time there shall be light.

8 On that day living waters shall flow out from Jerusalem, half of them to the eastern sea and half of them to the western sea; it shall continue in summer as in winter.

9 And the L ord will become king over all the earth; on that day the L ord will be one and his name one.

10 The whole land shall be turned into a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem. But Jerusalem shall remain aloft on its site from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. 11And it shall be inhabited, for never again shall it be doomed to destruction; Jerusalem shall abide in security.

12 This shall be the plague with which the L ord will strike all the peoples that wage war against Jerusalem: their flesh shall rot while they are still on their feet; their eyes shall rot in their sockets, and their tongues shall rot in their mouths. 13On that day a great panic from the L ord shall fall on them, so that each will seize the hand of a neighbor, and the hand of the one will be raised against the hand of the other; 14even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. And the wealth of all the surrounding nations shall be collected—gold, silver, and garments in great abundance. 15And a plague like this plague shall fall on the horses, the mules, the camels, the donkeys, and whatever animals may be in those camps.

16 Then all who survive of the nations that have come against Jerusalem shall go up year after year to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, and to keep the festival of booths. 17If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the L ord of hosts, there will be no rain upon them. 18And if the family of Egypt do not go up and present themselves, then on them shall come the plague that the L ord inflicts on the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths. 19Such shall be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to keep the festival of booths.

20 On that day there shall be inscribed on the bells of the horses, “Holy to the L ord.” And the cooking pots in the house of the L ord shall be as holy as the bowls in front of the altar; 21and every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah shall be sacred to the L ord of hosts, so that all who sacrifice may come and use them to boil the flesh of the sacrifice. And there shall no longer be traders in the house of the L ord of hosts on that day.

Zechariah teaches us in this verse, that God would become the king of the world, so that all things would be applied to his service, and that nothing would be so profane as not to change its nature, so as to be sanctified for the service of God. This is the import of the whole. There is some obscurity in the words; but interpreters for the most part have been led astray, because they have not sufficiently attended to the design of the Prophet; and thus they have wrested the words to their own views, while they did not understand the subject.

There will be, he says, an inscription on the shades or head coverings of horses, Holiness to Jehovah. No interpreters have perceived that there is here an implied comparison between the mitre of the high priest and all profane things; for since the high priest was a type of Christ, there was inscribed on his tiara, Holiness to Jehovah, קדש ליהוה, kodash la-Ieve, and as the holiness of the temple, and of everything belonging to the service under the law, depended on the priesthood, this inscription must be viewed as extending to everything in the temple, to the altar, to the sanctuary, to the sacrifices, to the offerings, to the candlestick, to the incense, and in short, to all sacred things.

What now does the Prophet mean? There shall be, he says, that inscription which the high priest bears on his head, Holiness to Jehovah; there shall be, he says, this inscription on the stables of the horses

As to the word מצלות, metsalut, it is only found here. Some derive it from צול, tsul, and others from צלע, tsale; but the more received opinion is that it comes from צלל, tsalal, in which the ל, lamed, is doubled. And some render it trappings; others, reins; others, bells; and all only conjecture, for there is no certainty. 198198     It is rendered “bridle — [τὸν χαλινὸν],” by the Septuagint, the Syriac, and Jerome; “trappings,” by the Targum; “the deep — [βυθον],” by Aq. and Theod; “shady procession — [περίπατον συσχιον],” by Sym; and “bells,” by Drusius, Grotius, Marckius, Newcome, and Henderson. The last says, that they “were small metallic plates, suspended from the necks or heads of horses and camels for the sake of ornament, and making a tinkling noise by striking against each other like cymbals.” The notion of Blayney, that the horses and their bells were trophies taken from enemies and dedicated to God, seems not consistent with the tenor of the passage: for the things employed by the Jews are here mentioned, which were to be used in a holy manner, to the glory of God. — Ed. Some also render it the deep; and this sense may be also suitable. But what I have already stated seems to me more probable — that the shades or blinkers of horses are meant, and are here metaphorically called stables. Though then the stable of a horse is a mean and sordid place, and often filthy, yet the Prophet says that it would become holy to the Lord.

The meaning then is, that no place was so profane which would not be made holy when God reigned through the whole world. But if any one prefers trappings, or warlike harness, I do not object; for this view also is not unsuitable. Nothing is less holy than to shed human blood; and hence the Scripture says, that their hands are polluted who justly slay an enemy in war; not because slaughter is of itself sinful, but because the Lord intended to strike men with terror, that they might not rashly commit slaughter. It would not then ill suit this place to say, that the Lord would make holy the trappings of horses, so that nothing disorderly would hereafter be done in war, but that every one putting on arms would acknowledge God to be a judge in heaven, and would not dare, without a just cause, to engage with his enemy.

Ridiculous and puerile is what Theodore says in the first book of his Ecclesiastical history. He quotes this passage, and says that it was fulfilled when Helena, the mother of Constantine, adorned the trappings of a horse with a nail of the cross; for her purpose was to give this to her son as a sort of charm. One of those nails by which she thought Christ was crucified, she put in the royal diadem; of the other she caused the bit of a bridle to be made, or according to Eusebius, to be partly made; but Theodore says that the whole was made of it. These are indeed rank trifles; but yet I thought proper to refer to them, that you might know how foolish that age was. Jerome indeed rejects the fable; but as it was believed by many, we see how shamefully deluded at that time were many of those who were accounted the luminaries of the Church. I now return to the words of the Prophet.

He says, that upon the stables, or upon the trappings of the horses, there would be this inscription — Holiness to Jehovah קדש ליהוה, kodash la-Ieve: then he adds, All the pots in the house of Jehovah shall be as the vessels before the altar; that is, whatever was before only applied to profane uses, would be invested with holiness. I then give this interpretation — that pots or kettles would be like the vessels of the altar, as the whole apparatus for cooking would be converted to the service of God; as though he had said that there would be no profane luxuries, as before, but that common food would be made holy, inasmuch as men themselves would become holy to the Lord, and would be holy in their whole life and in all their actions.

But most go astray in supposing that the trappings would be made into pots; for the Prophet meant another things that holiness would exist among men in peace as well as in war, so that whether they carried on war, or rested at home, whether they ate or drank, they would still offer a pure sacrifice to God, both in eating and drinking, and even in warfare. Such then is the view we ought to take of the Prophet’s words — that all the pots in the house of Jehovah shall be like the vessels before the altar; that is, “whatever has hitherto been profaned by the intemperance and luxuries of men, shall hereafter become holy, and be like the vessels of the temple itself.”

Jerome philosophises here with great acuteness, as the Prophet intimated that the sacrifices offered under the law would be of no account, because God would no longer require the fat of beasts, nor any of the ritual observations, but would desire only prayers, which are the sacrifices approved by him; and hence he renders מזרקים, mesarekim, bowls, and not vessels, a word of wider meaning; but it signifies the latter.

We now see that what Zechariah meant was this — that God would so claim the whole world as his own, as to consecrate men and all their possessions wholly to his own service, so that there would be no longer any uncleanness, that whether they ate or drank, or engaged in war, or undertook any other work, all things would be pure and holy, for God would always be before their eyes. Let us proceed -

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