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God’s Promises to Zion


The word of the L ord of hosts came to me, saying: 2Thus says the L ord of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath. 3Thus says the L ord: I will return to Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem; Jerusalem shall be called the faithful city, and the mountain of the L ord of hosts shall be called the holy mountain. 4Thus says the L ord of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of their great age. 5And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. 6Thus says the L ord of hosts: Even though it seems impossible to the remnant of this people in these days, should it also seem impossible to me, says the L ord of hosts? 7Thus says the L ord of hosts: I will save my people from the east country and from the west country; 8and I will bring them to live in Jerusalem. They shall be my people and I will be their God, in faithfulness and in righteousness.

9 Thus says the L ord of hosts: Let your hands be strong—you that have recently been hearing these words from the mouths of the prophets who were present when the foundation was laid for the rebuilding of the temple, the house of the L ord of hosts. 10For before those days there were no wages for people or for animals, nor was there any safety from the foe for those who went out or came in, and I set them all against one another. 11But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in the former days, says the L ord of hosts. 12For there shall be a sowing of peace; the vine shall yield its fruit, the ground shall give its produce, and the skies shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things. 13Just as you have been a cursing among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so I will save you and you shall be a blessing. Do not be afraid, but let your hands be strong.

14 For thus says the L ord of hosts: Just as I purposed to bring disaster upon you, when your ancestors provoked me to wrath, and I did not relent, says the L ord of hosts, 15so again I have purposed in these days to do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah; do not be afraid. 16These are the things that you shall do: Speak the truth to one another, render in your gates judgments that are true and make for peace, 17do not devise evil in your hearts against one another, and love no false oath; for all these are things that I hate, says the L ord.

Joyful Fasting

18 The word of the L ord of hosts came to me, saying: 19Thus says the L ord of hosts: The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be seasons of joy and gladness, and cheerful festivals for the house of Judah: therefore love truth and peace.

Many Peoples Drawn to Jerusalem

20 Thus says the L ord of hosts: Peoples shall yet come, the inhabitants of many cities; 21the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, “Come, let us go to entreat the favor of the L ord, and to seek the L ord of hosts; I myself am going.” 22Many peoples and strong nations shall come to seek the L ord of hosts in Jerusalem, and to entreat the favor of the L ord. 23Thus says the L ord of hosts: In those days ten men from nations of every language shall take hold of a Jew, grasping his garment and saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”


He afterwards adds, And think not evil every one against his friend. Here the Prophet not only condemns open wrongs, but also the hidden purposes of evil. We hence learn, that the law was not only given to restrain men as it were by a bridle, and that it not only contains a rule of life as to outward duties, but that it also rules their hearts before God and angels. The law is indeed really spiritual; and extremely gross and foolish are they who think that they satisfy the law of Moses, when they abstain from murder and theft and other evil deeds; for we see that the Prophets everywhere required a right feeling in the hearts as Zechariah does in this place, who reminds the Jews, that they were not to devise evil against their friends, no, not in their hearts. He might have omitted the last words; but he meant to condemn those frauds which were wont to be covered by many and various disguises. Though then men may not bring forth their wickedness, yet Zechariah shows that God will punish it; for whatever dwells within, however concealed it may be from the eyes of men, however hidden it may be in the depth of the heart, it must yet come to an account before God.

He adds another kind of evil, even perjury, And love not the oath of falsehood. He might have said, swear not to the injury of thy neighbor; but there is to be observed here a contrast between the perverted love of men and the hatred of God. As then God hates a false oath as all other frauds and falsehoods, so he forbids us to desire it: for if we wish to please God, we must see what he requires from us, inasmuch as we designedly provoke his wrath when we desire or covet what he declares that he hates. In a word, Zechariah shows that God would be propitious and kind to the Jews, provided they truly and from the heart repented, and attended to what was right and just — not only to build the temple, to offer sacrifices, and to observe other rites, but also to form their life according to what integrity required; to labor not only by external acts to discharge their duties towards their neighbors; but also to cleanse their hearts from all hatred, all cruelty, and all depraved affections. It now follows —

He confirms the same truth, that such would be the restoration of the Church that all the memory of their sorrows would be obliterated. We have already said, that some fasts were observed by the Jews after the destruction of their city. Before two only were mentioned, but now the Prophet names four. In the fourth month the city was taken, and in the fifth the temple was destroyed and burnt down; in the seventh was Gedaliah slain, who had remained with the residue of the people who had been gathered by him; and the fast of the tenth month, as some think, was appointed when the city was besieged. If so, the fast of the tenth month preceded the rest, then followed the fast of the fourth month, in the third place the fast of the fifth month, and, lastly, the fast of the seventh month, on account of the death of Gedaliah.

These then were tokens of mourning to the time of the restoration; for when the city was besieged, God raised up, as it were, a sign of dreadful vengeance; and when Nebuchadnezzar broke through the wall of the city, it was then openly forsaken by God; after the burning of the temple there remained no hope, except that some of the common people continued in the land under the protection of Gedaliah. The root, as it were, of the people was cut off, but some thin fibres were remaining; and when even these were torn asunder, when all who could be found were led into exile, the favor of God had wholly disappeared as to the outward appearance. It behaved then the Jews to be in mourning and humiliation, that they might seek pardon from God. We shall not then say, that these fasts were without reason, and foolishly appointed by them, for they were at liberty to testify their sorrow; nay, it was an act of piety humbly in their guilt to deprecate the wrath of the celestial Judge, when they perceived that he was displeased with them. But God now promises joy, which was to extinguish all sorrow, as the rising of the sun drives away all the darkness of the night.

But the Prophet seems to allude to what he had before taught when he indirectly taunted the Jews, because they were too anxious about keeping fasts, while they neglected the main things. But the simple meaning is, that if the Jews really repented and sincerely sought to return to God’s favor, there would be an end to all their miseries, so that there would be no need of fasting.

We must also remember that the design of fasting is this, that those who have sinned may humble themselves before God, and go as suppliants before his throne, that they may confess their sins and condemn themselves. Fasting then is, as it were, the habit of criminals when they desire to obtain pardon from God; for Christ says, that there is no fasting at marriages and during festal days. (Matthew 9:15.) We then see that there is here promised a restoration which was to put an end to every former cause of sorrow among the people; not that these fasts of themselves displeased God, for they were appointed, as we have said, for a good purpose — that the people might thus exercise themselves in acts of piety, and also stimulate and support their hope till the time of their deliverance; but Zechariah pursues what he had begun — that God was now plainly reconciled, for he favored his people, and proved this by the blessings he bestowed.

With regard to festal days, we know that among other things they are expressly mentioned by Moses, “Thou shalt rejoice before thy God.” (Deuteronomy 12:18.) When therefore the Jews celebrated their festal meetings, it was the same as though they stood before God, and were thus fully persuaded that they were in his presence. Forasmuch then as God thus designed to exhilarate his people by festivals, the Prophet does not without reason say, that the fasts, which had been signs of mourning, would be turned into joy and into festal days. Moreover, the Prophet thus speaks, because the observance of the law, which prevailed while the people were in a state of security, had been interrupted in their exile — as though he had said, “As food expelled you to a foreign land, and made you while exiles from your country to grieve and mourn, so now being restored you shall have joy, and religiously keep your festal days.” And thus he indirectly reproves the Jews for having deprived themselves of their festal days, in which the law invited them to rejoice, for they had profaned them. God would not have suffered to be discontinued what he had commanded, had not religion been corrupted; for on this account it was that things changed for the worse, and that sorrow succeeded, which is here designated by fastings.

At length he concludes by saying, Love ye then truth and peace. By truth he means integrity, as we have said before; and Zechariah includes in this word the whole of what is just and right: for when our hearts are cleansed, then the rule of justice and equity is observed. When then we deal sincerely with our neighbors, all the duties of love freely flow from within as from a fountain. As to the word peace, it may be explained in two ways: either as in the former instance when he mentioned the judgment of peace in the sense of judgment rightly formed, and thus to love peace is to love good order; or it may be taken for God’s blessing, as though the Prophet said, “If ye wish to be in a good and prosperous state, observe integrity towards one another; for God will ever be present by his blessing, provided ye be sincere and faithful. 9090     It is better to regard “peace” here in its ordinary meaning, as opposed to strife and contention, as “truth” is to falsehood an deceit. They were to “love truth” and not falsehood, and also “peace” and concord, and not discord and contention.
   The [ו], vau, at the beginning of this sentence has been variously rendered: “only” by Jerome and Drusius; “therefore” by Calvin and Blayney; “but” by Newcome and Henderson. But there is no need of all this. Let the whole passage be rendered in a perceptive form, and it may have its usual meaning as a copulative, as in the following manner,—


   Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, — Let the fast of the fourth, and the fast of the fifth, And the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth month, Be to the house of Judah For exultation and joy, And for cheerful seasons; And love ye truth and peace.

   “Exultation,” [ששוז], is the outward expression of joy; the most obvious thing is mentioned first, as often is the case in Scripture, and then the source from which it proceeds, even joy. “Cheerful” is literally “good,” — good seasons, or festivals, or solemnities. “The Hebrews,” says Grotius, “were wont to call those days good which were appointed for rejoicing.” This passage contains the answer to the inquiry mentioned in chapter 7:3; but the answer refers not only to one fast but to all the fasts which the Jews had instituted. — Ed.
Ye have in a manner sought a curse for yourselves, and dried up as it were the fountain of God’s blessings by your wickedness and your frauds. If then truth reign among you, all felicity shall accompany it; for the Lord will bless you.” I shall not proceed farther now.

The Prophet here extends his discourse still farther; for he promises not only the complete restoration of his chosen people, but also the propagation of the Church; for God, he says, will gather a Church for himself from many and remote nations, and unite many nations in one body. And this ought to have availed especially to animate the Jews, as they were thus taught that the temple was built, not only that God might be worshipped by one nation, but by all nations. Moreover, as before this time some had come from distant lands to worship God, the Prophet may seem here to have this in view by using עוד, oud, the adverb of time. 9191     There is a difficulty in the construction here. The best solution is that of our version, followed by Grotius, Newcome, and others; there is understood the auxiliary verb, “it shall be:” so the rendering would be,
   Yet it shall be that come shall people
And the inhabitants of many cities.

   There is a similar instance in verse 23, where the auxiliary verb is to be understood, and [אשר] must be rendered that. — Ed.
But he not only declares that some would come, as in the time of Solomon, but as I have already said, he promises here something more remarkable — that the temple would not belong peculiarly to the Jews, but would be common to all nations; for there is to be no language and no nation which is not to unite in the true worship of God. But let us consider the words of the Prophet.

He begins by saying, that God was the author of this prophecy; and this was said to secure credit. There was need, as we have said, of no common authority, since he was here speaking of what was incredible. There was only a handful of people returned to their country, and many dangers surrounded them almost every day; so that many, wearied with their present condition, preferred exile, and regret for their return had now crept into the minds of many, for they thought that they had been deceived. Since then the state of the people was such, there was need of something more than ordinary to confirm what is here said — that the glory of the second temple would be greater and more eminent than that of the first: It shall yet be, he says. Though a comparison is implied, there is yet no equality expressed, as though some few only would come. But as there had been no temple for seventy years, and as the temple, now begun to be built, was in no high esteem, but mean and insignificant, the Prophet says, that the time would yet come, when nations and inhabitants of great cities would ascend into Jerusalem. We may indeed render רבות, rebut, many or great, for it means both; but the Prophet, I think, speaks of great cities; and the reason will presently appear.

It follows, Come shall the inhabitants of one to one, that is, the inhabitants of one city to another; saying, going let us go, etc. He means by these words, that there will be a mutual consent among all nations, so that they will stimulate one another, and thus unite together their exertions. We here see that the Prophet’s object was to encourage the Jews to entertain good hope, and thus to cause them to persevere, so that they might not doubt but that success would attend their work and labor, because the Lord would have himself worshipped at Jerusalem, not only by themselves but also by all nations. But as the Jews could not believe that nations could by force be drawn there, he teaches them, that their assembling would be voluntary; he says that those who had been before extremely refractory would be disposed to come of their own accord, so that there would be no need of external force to constrain them; for they would willingly come, nay, would excite one another, and by mutual exhortations stimulate themselves so as to come together to worship God at Jerusalem.

The ardor and vehemence of their zeal is to be noticed; for the Prophet says, that they would come of their own accord, and also encourage one another, according to what we have seen in the second chapter Zechariah 2:1, Lay hold will each on the hand of his brother, and say, let us go to the mount of the God of Jacob. But more is expressed in this place, for not only shall each one encourage his brother whenever met and an opportunity be offered, but he says that they will come from all quarters. We now then see the design of the Prophet in these words. And we hence learn, that faith then only produces its legitimate fruit when zeal is kindled, so that every one strives to increase the kingdom of God, and to gather the straying, that the Church may be filled. For when any one consults his own private benefit and has no care for others, he first betrays most clearly his own inhumanity, and where there is no love the Spirit of God does not rule there. Besides, true godliness brings with it a concern for the glory of God. It is no wonder then that the Prophet, when describing true and real conversion, says, that each would be solicitous about his brethren, so as to stimulate one another, and also that the hearts of all would be so kindled with zeal for God, that they would hasten together to celebrate his glory.

Then he adds, Let us go to entreat the face of Jehovah. The phrase is common in Scripture. But we must observe, that the Prophet in speaking of God’s worship, sets prayer in the first rank, for prayer to God is the chief part, yea, the main thing in religion. It is, indeed, immediately added, and to seek Jehovah: he explains the particular by the general; and in the next verse he inverts the order, beginning with the general. However, the meaning continues the same, for God seeks nothing else but that we should be teachable and obedient, so as to be prepared to follow wherever he may call us, and at the same time carefully to enquire respecting his will, as we have need of him as our leader and teacher, so that we may not foolishly go astray through winding and circuitous courses; for if we deem it enough to take presumptuously our own way, the endeavor to seek God will be superfluous. It must then be observed, that God is then only really sought when men desire to learn from his word how he is to be worshipped. But, as I have already said, the Prophet adds prayer here, for the design of the whole truth respecting salvation is to teach us, that our life depends on God, and that whatever belongs to eternal life must be hoped for and expected from him. 9292     The 20th and 21st I render thus—

   20. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts Yet it shall be that come shall people And the inhabitants of many cities; Yea, the inhabitants of one shall go to another, saying, “Going let us go to implore the favor of Jehovah; And to seek Jehovah of hosts, go also will I.”

   The verb rendered “implore,” means to solicit with importunity, or earnestness. “To conciliate the regard of Jehovah,” as rendered by Henderson, is too much in the style of modern phraseology; nor is the meaning conveyed. Blayney’s version is better, “To supplicate the favor of Jehovah.” It seems more suitable to connect the words “to seek Jehovah,” with the last sentence. We find the two clauses in the next verse, but in an inverted order—


   22. Yea, come shall many people and mighty nations To seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, And to implore the favor of Jehovah.

    — Ed.
We now then understand the import of the whole.

But we must enquire also why he says, that the nations would come to seek God at Jerusalem, and there to call on him. The Jews foolishly imagine that God cannot be otherwise worshipped than by offering sacrifices still in the temple. But the Prophet had something very different in view, that the light of truth would arise from that city, which would diffuse itself far and wide: and this prophecy ought to be connected with that of Isaiah,

“A law shall go forth from Sion,
and the word of Jehovah from Jerusalem.” (Isaiah 2:3.)

As then the doctrine of salvation which has filled the whole world flowed from that city, the Prophet says, that nations would come to Jerusalem, not that it would be necessary for them to assemble there, but because all were to seek there what could not be obtained elsewhere. Since then none could be accounted the children of God except they were brought up in that school and acknowledged that alone to be true religion which had its first habitation at Jerusalem, we hence see why the Prophet expressly mentions that city.

We must further bear in mind, that the temple was built for this end and purpose, — that the doctrine of salvation might continue there, and have there its seat until the coming of Christ; for then was fulfilled that prophecy in the hundred and tenth Psalm, “The scepter of thy power shall God send forth from Sion.” The Prophet here teaches us, that Christ would not be the king of one people only, whose power was to be confined to narrow limits, but that he would rule through the whole world, for God would extend his scepter to every quarter of the globe. As tell it behaved the Jews to have this end in view, the Prophet, in order to animate them that they might not fail in the middle of their work, says, that that place was sacred to God, so that salvation might thence be sought by the whole world, for all were to be the disciples of that Church who wished to be deemed the children of God.

But we ought carefully to notice what I have already referred to, the two things required in God’s worship — to seek him, and also to pray to him. For the superstitious, though they pretend great ardor in seeking God, yet amuse themselves with many delusions; for they hurry on presumptuously, and as it were at random, so that they seek not God, but leave him, and weary themselves without thought and without any judgment. As then the superstitious have no reason for what they do, they can not be said properly to seek God. But the faithful seek God, for they acknowledge that he is not to be worshipped according to the fancy of any one, but that there is a certain prescript and rule to be observed. To us then this is the beginning of religion — not to allow to ourselves liberty to attempt anything we please, but humbly and soberly to submit to God’s word; for when any one seeks and chooses an unfit teacher, he will not advance as he ought to do. But the Prophet shows, that all the godly succeed when they strive to be approved of God by confining themselves to his word, and by attempting nothing through their own promptings, but when they have such a discernment as not to blend, as it is said, profane with sacred things. The second chief thing is, to pray to God: and the Prophet thus reminds us why it is that God would have us especially to seek him. Nothing indeed results to his advantage and benefit from our efforts, but he would have us to seek him that we may learn to expect from him everything connected with our salvation. This seeking is also defined by the term prayer, and not useless is the word face, for though God is invisible, we yet ought not to wander with uncertainty, as it were through the air, when our purpose is to flee to him, but to go to him with full confidence. Unless then we are fully persuaded of what the Scripture teaches us — that God is ever nigh those who truly call on him, the door will be closed against our prayers, for God’s name will be profaned though we may express what we wish. As then the nearness of God ought to be impressed on our hearts when we prepare ourselves for prayer, the Scripture usually adopts this form, to entreat the face of God. But this is not to be understood of an ocular sight, but, on the contrary, of the conviction of the heart. Let us now proceed -

He pursues the same subject in this verse; for as he had before said, that the nations would willingly come to worship God, and that each would encourage his brother to undertake this pious and holy expedition, so he now adds, that ten men would lay hold on the border of a Jew’s garment: Ten men shall then take hold of the skirt of a Jew. He shows here more clearly what I have briefly referred to — that there would be no need of arms, or of any compulsion, in order to draw or compel the nations to engage in God’s service; for even ten would of themselves accompany one Jew; and it is a proof of a very great readiness when ten surrender themselves to be ruled by one. As one Jew could not be sufficient to draw so many nations, the Prophet declares that there would be everywhere a union of faith, so that those, before wholly alienated from God, would desire to join themselves as friends, or rather as companions to the Jews.

He says, From all languages. By these words he amplifies the miracle; for there cannot be a union between men far distant, especially when they are of different languages, as they are barbarians to one another. When the Prophet then says that they would come from all languages, and unite together, it more fully appears to be God’s work; for there is nothing here to be ascribed to human contrivances. It must then be that the hearts of those who cannot express their minds, and can hardly give a sign, are united together by the hidden power of the Spirit. We now perceive the Prophet’s object in this verse.

But he uses in the last clause a phrase different from the one he employed before — Let us go with you, for we have heard that with you is God. He had said, “Let us go to seek Jehovah, and to entreat his face;” but now he says “Let us go with you.” But yet he handles and confirms the same thing; for the nations could not have sought God without following the Jews going before them. For when any one separates himself from others, it so happens that he is led astray, and feeds on much that is very absurd, as we see to be the case with proud and morose men, who invent strange and monstrous things; for they shun society, and seem not to themselves to be wise, until they put off every feeling of humanity. The character then of faith has also this in it — that the elect, while they themselves obey God, desire to have many associates in this obedience, and many fellow-disciples in true religion. The Prophet thus intended to point out two things: be had said before — “Let us go to seek God;” and now — “We will go with you.” What else is this but to seek God? But he expresses more now — that the nations declare that they would come to seek God for this end — that they might learn from others, like rude beginners, who have their fellow-scholars as their teachers; so that every one who had made some progress, was to preside over others, and those as yet commencing, and still in the first elements of knowledge, were humbly to connect themselves with others better informed. Shame prevents many from making in this manner any advancement, and so they ever remain sunk in ignorance.

The Prophet at the same time not only commends humility, but also exhorts all God’s children to cultivate unity and concord. For whosoever tears asunder the Church of God, disunites himself from Christ, who is the head, and who would have all his members to be united together.

We now then understand that God ought to be sought in order to be rightly worshipped by us; and also, that he ought to be thus sought, not that each may have his own peculiar religion, but that we may be united together, and that every one who sees his brethren going before, and excelling in gifts, may be prepared to follow them, and to seek benefit from their labors. It is indeed true that we ought to disregard the whole world; and to embrace only the truth of God; for it is a hundred times better to renounce the society of all mortals, and union with them, then to withdraw ourselves from God; but when God shows himself as our leader, the Prophet teaches us that we ought mutually to stretch forth our hand and unitedly to follow him.

We have again to notice at the end of the verse what I have already referred to — that the nations would come, not compelled by force of arms or by violence, but drawn by hearing alone. We have heard. By hearing the Prophet means here the doctrine of salvation everywhere diffused; for there would be no care nor concern for worshipping were we not taught; for faith, as Paul says, is by hearing; and so prayer proceeds from faith. (Romans 10:17.) In short, the Prophet means that the knowledge of religion would be through the preaching of the truth, which would rouse all nations to the duty of worshipping God.

He now again confirms what we have also mentioned — that the Jews would have the precedence of all nations; for it appears that God would be among them. We hence see that primacy is not ascribed to the Jews in being leaders to others, because they excelled others by their own virtue or dignity, but because God presided over them. Then God is ever to be sought, though we may avail ourselves of the labors of men, and follow them when they show us the right way. We must ever bear this in mind — that those only exhort truly and honestly, who not only do so by word, but who really prove what they feel by their conduct; according to what the Prophet has said — Go will I also; and he says the same now — Let us go, or, we shall go with you. For many there are who are strenuous enough in stimulating others; but their vain garrulity appears evident; for while they bid others to run, they are standing still; and while they vehemently encourage others, they themselves delay and take their rest. Now follows —

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