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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.

But Zechariah speaks expressly of the Egyptians: and we indeed know that they were most inveterate enemies to true religion; and he might have also mentioned the Assyrians and the Chaldeans; but as the Egyptians were nearer and more contiguous to the holy land, their hatred towards the Jews was more virulent. This is the reason why Zechariah speaks of them particularly. It may at the same time appear strange that he threatens them with want of rain; for we know that Egypt expects no rain from above, because of the peculiar condition of the country; for according as the Nile overflows, do the inhabitants look for a fruitful produce of corn and of all other things. The Prophet then ought not to have thus threatened the Egyptians, for they might have justly laughed at him for saying that there would be no rain for them, the want of which is not much felt there. But the Prophet’s intention was simply what I have already explained, — that God would be a Father to the Jews, and also to others who joined in his worship according to the law. Though then the Egyptians had no need of rain, yet by this metaphor Zechariah denounced on them sterility as the punishment of impiety.

And we may further observe, that though the overflowing of the Nile irrigated the whole land and made it fruitful, yet rain was by no means useless; and it is said in Psalm 105:32, “He turned their rain into hail,” Egypt being the place spoken of; for the Lord destroyed all its fruit, because the rain was turned into hail. It appears also evident from history, that rain is desirable in Egypt in order to render the produce more abundant. But the Lord has favored that country with a peculiar benefit by supplying the want of rain by the Nile.

There is then nothing doubtful in the meaning of the Prophet, as his object was to show, that the Lord would constrain all people to become obedient to true religion, not only those Jews who were far removed from Judea, but even the Egyptians themselves, who had been always most alienated from true and pure worship.

He adds, There shall be upon them the plague. He now speaks more generally; and what he before specifically mentioned, he now declares in general terms, — that God would execute vengeance and destroy and reduce to nothing all those who took not on them the yoke, so as to worship him sincerely, together with the Jews, according to what the law prescribes. He again repeats the words, who ascended not into Jerusalem; not that he intended to confine the worship of God to ceremonies or rites under the law; but because it was necessary, until Christ abrogated all the ancient rites, that the worship of God should be thus described; nor could it then be separated from these external exercises.

But here it may be rightly inquired, why the Prophet speaks specifically of the feast of tabernacles, since the passover was deemed first among the festivals. The reason seems to me to have been this, — because it was difficult to believe that the Jews would return to their own country, that God would become again their redeemer. Many interpreters say, that the Prophet speaks of the feast of tabernacles, because it behaved them to be sojourners in the world: but a similar reason might be given for other days. We must then inquire why he mentions the feast of tabernacles and not other feasts. Now we know that when the Prophets speak of the second restoration of the people, they often call attention to that wonderful deliverance from Egypt by which God had proved that he possessed sufficient power to redeem and save his own people. To this instance does Zechariah now allude, as I think, and says, that God would restore his people by his wonderful and inexpressibly great power, so that they might justly celebrate the feast of tabernacles as their fathers formerly did: for we know why God commanded the Jews to dwell every year under the branches of trees; it was, that they might be mindful of that deliverance which had been granted to their fathers; for they had continued forty years in the desert, where they had no buildings, but huts only, made of branches of trees. When therefore they went forth from their houses, and dwelt as it were in the open air in tents, they thus revived the memory of the wonderful manner by which their fathers were delivered. Hence God, in order to show that their return from the Babylonian exile was worthy of being remembered, says here that the feast of tabernacles would be celebrated 195195     See Nehemiah 8:13-18.

In short, the Prophet means that God would be such a deliverer of his people, that all the nations, even from the remotest parts, would acknowledge it as a remarkable miracle: it is the sense then as though he had said, that the deliverance of the people would be an evidence of divine power so manifest and illustrious, that all nations would acknowledge that the God of Israel is the creator of heaven and earth, and is so endued with supreme power, that he governs the whole world; and, in a word, that he is the only true God who ought to be worshipped. 196196     The two verses, 17 and 18, I would render thus, —

   17. And it shall be, that whosoever shall not ascend, Of the families of the land, to Jerusalem, To worship the King, Jehovah of hosts.

   18. Not on them shall be rain; And if the family of Egypt Shall not ascend and shall not come,— On them shall be the plague, Which Jehovah will bring on all the people Who will not ascend to keep the feast of tabernacles.

   The “land” of Judah, not earth or the world, is what is meant, as it is evident from the contrast in the next verse, “the family of Egypt.” The word [ארף] means commonly in the Prophets the land of Canaan. The words [ולא] before “on them” in verse 18, are left out of four MS., in the Septuagint and the Syriac; and they seem to be wholly misplaced here. I render [גוים] “people,” and supply [כל] before it, as in verses 14 and 16, supported by very many MS., and by the Septuagint. The word here and everywhere in this chapter, in verses 2,3,14,16, and 19, is in my view improperly rendered “nations,” viewed as heathen nations. It has no doubt this meaning in many places, but it means also people or peoples, i.e., the people of Israel. See Deuteronomy 4:6; Joshua 5:6. It is a word of general import, signifying the body of a nation; and her and elsewhere in this chapter it means the whole community of the Jews, whether residing in the land of Canaan or in other parts of the world, especially in Egypt. Intestine broils, and not wars with heathens, are referred to in this chapter. Hence we clearly see the reason why “the feast of tabernacles” is mentioned, and why a curse is denounced on those who neglected it. — Ed.
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