Book Of Zechariah
From Bible Encyclopedia
Zechariah is broken into three parts in which the first six chapters are composed of eight visions that are bracketed by sermons, the first of which is retrospective and a call to repentance. The lack of response by the community is the catalyst for God’s judgment and the circumstances from which God promised to deliver them. (7:8–14, 8:1–8). In the sermons and in the visions the reversal of fortune and restoration is entirely at the Lord’s disposal. Zechariah’s work has been linked to Haggai’s where the first chapter of the latter attributes the nation’s ills to the fact that they have stopped work on the Temple in favour of restoring their own homes, and the second chapter attributes the improvement in the community’s standing to the fact that they have begun to restore the Temple.
The editors have placed Zechariah 1:2–6 between these two dates which is believed to interpret the return in Zechariah 1:6 as the theological premise of what the prophet sees in his visions. Chapters 7–8 addresses the quality of life that God wants His renewed people to enjoy, and these words contain many encouraging promises to the people. According to some commentators, the second and third sections of the book consist of a series of predictions that are to be read as Messianic prophecies, either directly or indirectly, and it seems that the Apocalypse is coloured by images taken from this book. It is thought that there was actually more than one contributor to the book that bears the name of Zechariah.
Chapters 1–8 are treated as being the work of the first, "original" Zechariah who was a contemporary of Haggai. His prophecies and writings were collected by his disciples and his prophetic mantle handed down to still other disciples. These were responsible for chapters 9–14; so, rather than a single author, there was an inspired tradition of Zechariah after the “original” prophet, and the character of this original is to be found within the lines of chapters 1–8.
We do not know a great deal about Zechariah’s life except what is inferred from the book, although it is believed that his ancestor, Iddo, was the head of a priestly family who returned with Zerrubbabel; the inference being that Zechariah was a priest and a prophet. These details are apparent from his interest in the temple and the priesthood and also from his preaching in First and Second Chronicles. His concern for purity is apparent in the temple, priesthood and all areas of life as the prophecy gradually eliminates the governor in favour of the high priest, and the sanctuary becomes ever more clearly the centre of messianic fulfillment. The prominence of prophecy is quite apparent in Zechariah but it is also true that Zechariah (along with Haggai) allows prophecy to yield to the priesthood; this is particularly apparent in comparing Zechariah to Third Isaiah (chapters 55–56 of the Book Of Isaiah), whose author was active sometime after the first return from exile.
The exact identity of Zechariah is only the first of a number of questions with regard to this prophecy. His name means "Jehovah has remembered." The purpose of this book is not strictly historical but theological and pastoral. As an example, even today historical details are often blended together to make a point or convey an overall impression and such is also true with regard to the transmission of religious traditions.
The main emphasis is that God is at work and plans to live again with His people in Jerusalem. He will save them from their enemies and cleanse them from sin. These same chapters helped the writers of the Gospel understand Jesus’ suffering, death and resurrection, which they quoted as they wrote of Jesus’ final days. Finally, Revelation draws on Zechariah as well as it narrates the denouement of history.
Few books of the Old Testament are as difficult of interpretation as the Book of Zechariah; no other book is as Messianic. Jewish expositors like Abarbanel and Jarchi, and Christian expositors such as Jerome, are forced to concede that they have failed “to find their hands” in the exposition of it, and that in their investigations they passed from one labyrinth to another, and from one cloud into another, until they lost themselves in trying to discover the prophet's meaning. The scope of Zechariah's vision and the profundity of his thought are almost without a parallel. In the present writer's judgment, his book is the most Messianic, the most truly apocalyptic and eschatological, of all the writings of the Old Testament.
1. The Prophet:
Zechariah was the son of Berechiah, and the grandson of Iddo (Zechariah 1:1, Zechariah 1:7). The same Iddo seems to be mentioned among the priests who returned from exile under Zerubbabel and Joshua in the year 536 BC (Nehemiah 12:4; Ezra 2:2). If so, Zechariah was a priest as well as a prophet, and presumably a young man when he began to preach. Tradition, on the contrary, declares that he was well advanced in years. He apparently survived Haggai, his contemporary (Ezra 5:1; Ezra 6:14). He was a poet as well as a prophet. Nothing is known of his end. The Targum says he died a martyr.
2. His Times and Mission:
The earliest date in his book is the 2nd year (520 BC) of the reign of Darius Hystaspis, and the latest, the 4th year of the same king's reign (Zechariah 1:1, Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 7:1). Though these are the only dates given in his writings, it is possible of course that he may have continued active for several additional years. Otherwise, he preached barely two years. The conditions under which he labored were similar to those in Haggai's times. Indeed, Haggai had begun to preach just two months before Zechariah was called. At that time there were upheavals and commotions in different parts of the Persian empire, especially in the Northeast Jeremiah's prophecies regarding the domination of Babylon for 70 years had been fulfilled (Jeremiah 15:11; Jeremiah 29:10). The returned captives were becoming disheartened and depressed because YHWH had not made it possible to restore Zion and rebuild the temple. The foundations of the latter had been already laid, but as yet there was no superstructure (Ezra 3:8-10; Zechariah 1:16). The altar of burnt offering was set up upon its old site, but as yet there were no priests worthy to officiate in the ritual of sacrifice (Ezra 3:2, Ezra 3:3; Zechariah 3:3). The people had fallen into apathy, and needed to be aroused to their opportunity. Haggai had given them real initiative, for within 24 days after he began to preach the people began to work (Haggai 1:1, Haggai 1:15). It was left for Zechariah to bring the task of temple-building to completion. This Zechariah did successfully; this, indeed, was his primary mission and work.
3. Contents and Analysis:
The prophecies of Zechariah naturally fall into two parts, chapters 1 through 8 and 9 through 14, both of which begin with the present and look forward into the distant future.
(1) Zechariah 1 through 8, consisting of three distinct messages delivered on three different occasions:
(a) Zechariah 1:1-6, an introduction, delivered in the 8th month of the 2nd year of Darius Hystaspis (520 BC). These words, having been spoken three months before the prophecies which follow, are obviously a general introduction. They are decidely spiritual and strike the keynote of the entire collection. In them the prophet issues one of the strongest and most intensely spiritual calls to repentance to be found in the Old Testament.
(b) Zechariah 1:7 through Zechariah 6:15, a series of eight night visions, followed by a coronation scene, all delivered on the 24th day of the 11th month of the same 2nd year of Darius (520 BC), or exactly two months after the corner stone of the temple had been laid (Haggai 2:18; Zechariah 1:7). These visions were intended to encourage the people to rebuild God's house. They are eight in number, and teach severally the following lessons:
(i) The vision of the horses (Zechariah 1:7-17), teaching God's special care for and interest in his people: “My house shall be built” (Zechariah 1:16).
(ii) The four horns and four smiths (Zechariah 1:18-21), teaching that Israel's foes have finally been destroyed; in fact that they have destroyed themselves. There is no longer, therefore, any opposition to building God's house.
(iii) The man with a measuring line (Zechariah 2:1-13), teaching that God will re-people, protect and dwell in Jerusalem as soon as the sacred edifice has been built. The city itself will expand till it becomes a great metropolis without walls; YHWH will be a wall of fire round about it.
(iv) Joshua, the high priest, clad in filthy garments, and bearing the sins both of himself and the people (Zechariah 3:1-10); but cleansed, continued and made typical of the Messiah-Branch to come.
(v) The candelabrum and the two olive trees (Zechariah 4:1-14), teaching that the visible must give place to the spiritual, and that, through “the two sons of oil,” Zerubbabel the layman, and Joshua the priest (Zechariah 4:14), the light of God's church will continue to burn with ever-flaming brightness. For it is “not by might” but by YHWH's Spirit, i.e. by divine life and animation, by divine vigor and vivacity, by divine disposition and courage, by divine executive ability and technical skill, that God's house shall be built and supplied with spiritual life (Zechariah 4:6).
(vi) The flying roll (Zechariah 5:1-4), teaching that when the temple is built and God's law is taught the land shall be purified from outward wickedness.
(vii) The Ephah (Zechariah 5:5-11); wickedness personified is borne away back to the land of Shinar, teaching that when the temple is rebuilt wickedness shall be actually removed from the land.
(viii) The four chariots (Zechariah 6:1-8), teaching that God's protecting providence will be over His sanctuary, and that His people, purified from sin, shall rest secure in Him. These eight visions are followed by a coronation scene, in which Joshua the high priest is crowned and made typical of the Messiah-Priest-King, whose name is Branch (Zechariah 6:9-15).
(c) Zechariah 7:1-14; 8, Zechariah's answer to the Bethel deputation concerning fasting; delivered on the 4th day of the 9th month of the 4th year of Darius (518 BC). The Jews had been accustomed to fast on the anniversaries of the following four great outstanding events in the history of their capital:
(i) when Nebuchadnezzar took Jerusalem, in the 4th month (Jeremiah 52:6);
(ii) when the Temple was burned in the 5th month (Jeremiah 52:12);
(iii) when Gedaliah was murdered in the 7th month (Jeremiah 41:2); and
(iv) when the siege of Jerusalem was begun in the 10th month (2 Kings 25:1).
(a) Fasting affects only yourselves; God requires obedience (Zechariah 7:4-7).
(b) Look at the lesson from your fathers; they forsook justice and compassion and God punished them (Zechariah 7:8-14).
(c) YHWH is now waiting to return to Jerusalem to save His people in truth and holiness. In the future, instead of a curse God will send blessing, instead of evil, good (Zechariah 8:1-17).
(d) In fact, your fasts shall be changed into festivals, and many nations shall in that day seek YHWH of hosts in Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:18-23).
(2) Zechariah 9 through 14, consisting of two oracles, without dates;
(a) Zechariah 9 through 11, an oracle of promise to the new theocracy. This section contains promises of a land in which to dwell, a return from exile, victory over a hostile world-power, temporal blessings and national strength, closing, with a parable of judgment brought on by Israel's rejection of YHWH as their shepherd; thus Judah and Ephraim restored, united and made victorious over their enemies, are promised a land and a king (Zechariah 9); Israel shall be saved and strengthened (Zechariah 10:1-12); Israel shall be punished for rejecting the shepherding care of YHWH (Zec 11);
(b) Zechariah 12 through 14, an oracle describing the victories of the new theocracy, and the coming day of YHWH. This section is strongly eschatological, presenting three distinct apocalyptic pictures: thus how Jerusalem shall be besieged by her enemies, but saved by YHWH (Zechariah 12:1-14); how a remnant of Israel purified and refined shall be saved (Zechariah 13:1-9); closing with a grand apocalyptic vision of judgment and redemption - the nations streaming up to Jerusalem to keep the joyous Feast of Tabernacles, and everything in that day becoming holy to YHWH.
4. The Critical Question Involved:
There are two opposing schools of criticism in regard to the origin of Zechariah 9 through 14; one holds what is known as the pre-exilic hypothesis, according to which chapters 9 through 14 were written before the downfall of Jerusalem; more specifically, that Zechariah 9 through 11 and Zechariah 13:7-9 spring from the 8th century BC, having been composed perhaps by Zechariah, the son of Jeberechiah mentioned in Isaiah 8:2; whereas Zechariah 12 through 14, except Zechariah 13:7-9, were composed by some unknown contemporary of Jeremiah in the 7th century BC. On the other hand, there are also those who advocate a late post-Zecharian origin for chapters 9 through 14, somewhere about the 3rd century BC. The latter hypothesis is today the more popular. Over against these the traditional view, of course, is that Zechariah, near the close of the 6th century, wrote the entire book ascribed to him. Only chapters 9 through 14 are in dispute. No one doubts the genuineness of Zechariah 1 through 8.
The following are the main arguments of those who advocate a pre-exilic origin for these oracles:
(1) Zechariah 11:8, “And I cut off the three shepherds in one month.” These “three shepherds” are identified with certain kings who reigned but a short time each in the Northern Kingdom; for example, Zechariah, Shallum and Menahem (2 Kings 15:8-14). But the difficulty with this argument is that they were not cut off “in one month”; Menahem, on the contrary, reigned 10 years in Samaria (2 Kings 15:17).
(2) Zechariah 12:11-14, which speaks of “a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon,” is claimed to fix the date of Zechariah 12 through 14. Josiah fell in the valley of Megiddo (2 Kings 23:29; 2 Chronicles 35:22). But surely the mourning of Judah for Josiah might have been remembered for a century, from 609 BC till 518 BC.
(3) Zechariah 14:5, referring to the “earthquake” in the days of Uzziah, is another passage fastened upon to prove the preexilic origin of these prophecies. But the earthquake which is here alluded to took place at least a century and a half before the date assigned for the composition of Zechariah 14. And surely if an earthquake can be alluded to by an author 150 years after it occurs, Zechariah, who lived less than a century later, might have alluded to it also.
(4) A much stronger argument in favor of a pre-exilic origin of these prophecies is the names given to theocracy, e.g. “Ephraim” and “Jerusalem” (Zechariah 9:10), “Judah” and “Ephraim” (Zechariah 9:13), “house of Judah” and “house of Joseph” (Zechariah 10:6), “Judah and Israel” (Zechariah 11:14), implying that the kingdoms of Israel and Judah are still standing. But subsequent to the captivity the Jews ever regarded themselves as representatives of the 12 tribes, as is obvious from their offering 12 sacrifices (Ezra 6:17; Ezra 8:35). Moreover, old names such as “Israel” and “Judah” long survived (compare Jeremiah 31:27-31; Zechariah 8:13).
(5) Zechariah 14:10, which defines the area occupied by Judah as extending “from Geba to Rimmon,” which corresponds, it is alleged, with the conditions which prevailed just prior to the captivity. But it satisfies equally well the conditions after the exile in Zechariah's own time.
(6) Again, it is argued that the national sins, the prevailing sins, idolatry, teraphim and false prophecy (Zechariah 10:2; Zechariah 13:2-6), are those of pre-exilic times. But the same sins persisted in the post-exilic congregation (Nehemiah 6:7-14; Malachi 2:11; Malachi 3:5), and there is no special emphasis laid upon them here.
(7) Finally, it is argued that the enemies of Israel mentioned in Zechariah 9 through 14 are those of pre-exilic times, Assyria and Egypt (Zechariah 10:10, Zechariah 10:11), Syria, Phoenicia and Philistia (Zechariah 9:1-7). But forms of expression are slow in changing: the name “Assyrians” occurs in Lamentations 5:6, and “Assyria” is employed instead of “Persia” in Ezra 6:22. Jeremiah prophesied against Damascus and Hamath long after their loss of independence (Jeremiah 49:23-27). After the exile, the Philistines resisted Israel's return (Nehemiah 4:7, Nehemiah 4:8). In short all these nations were Israel's hereditary foes, and, therefore, judgments pronounced against them were always in place. Furthermore, it may be said in general that there are reasons for thinking that, in both halves of the Book of Zechariah, the exile is represented as an event of the past, and that the restoration from exile both of Ephraim and Judah, though incomplete, has already begun. This is unquestionably true of Zechariah 1 through 8 (Zechariah 1:12; Zechariah 2:6-12; Zechariah 6:10; Zechariah 7:5; Zechariah 8:7, Zechariah 8:8). The exile is treated as a fact. It is almost equally true of Zechariah 9 through 14 (compare Zechariah 9:8, Zechariah 9:11; Zechariah 10:6, Zechariah 10:8-10). Moreover, it may with justice be claimed that the alleged authors of chapters 9 through 14 dissociate themselves from any definitely named person or any specific event known to be pre-exilic. God alone is described as Ruler of His people. The only king mentioned is the Messiah-King (Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 14:9). The “house of David” mentioned in Zechariah 12:7-12; Zechariah 13:1, is never described as in possession of the throne. It is David's “house,” and not any earthly ruler in it, of which the prophet speaks. Further, there are passages, indeed, in chapters 9 through 14 which, if pre-exilic in origin, would have been obscure and even misleading to a people confronted by the catastrophes of 722 and 586 BC. No specific enemy is alluded to. No definite army is named as approaching. Instead of Assyria, Javan is painted as the opposing enemy of theocracy (Zechariah 9:13), and even she is not yet raised up or even threatening. On the other hand, in Zechariah 12 through 14, it is not the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, but “all nations,” who are described as coming up against Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2, Zechariah 12:3; Zechariah 14:2). Moreover, victory and not defeat is promised (Zechariah 9:8, Zechariah 9:14, Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 12:4, Zechariah 12:7, Zechariah 12:8). The preexilic prophets Amos, Hosea and Jeremiah held out no such hopes. These oracles, however, promise even temporal prosperity and abundance (Jeremiah 9:17; Jeremiah 10:1, Jeremiah 10:8, Jeremiah 10:12; Jeremiah 12:8; Jeremiah 14:2, Jeremiah 14:14); and they exhort the people to rejoice rather than to fear (Jeremiah 9:9; Jeremiah 10:7); while in Jeremiah 14:16-19 all nations are represented as going up to Jerusalem to keep the Feast of Tabernacles, which was the most joyous feast of the Hebrew calendar. All this is quite the opposite of what the pre-exilic prophets (who are known to have been pre-exilic) actually prophesied. In Zec 9 through 14, there is sounded forth not one clear note of alarm or warning; judgment rather gives place to hope, warning to encouragement, threatening to joy and gladness, all of which is most inconsistent with the idea that these chapters are of preexilic origin. On the other hand, their are perfectly consistent with the conditions and promises of post-exilic times.
The other hypothesis remaining to be discussed is that known as the post-Zecharian. This may be said to represent the prevailing critical view at the present time. But it, like the pre-exilic hypothesis, is based upon a too literalistic and mechanical view of prophecy. Those, like Stade, Wellhausen, Kuenen, Marti, Kautzsch, Cornill, Cheyne, Driver, Kuiper, Echardt and Mitchell, who advocate this view, employ the same critical methods as those whose views we have just discussed, but arrive at diametrically opposite conclusions. Indeed, no two critics agree as to the historical circumstances which produced these oracles. Most are of the opinion, however, that these chapters were composed during the Greek period, i.e. after 333 BC. In examining the arguments urged by the representatives of this school special caution is needed in distinguishing between the grounds advanced in support of a post-exilic and those which argue a post-Zecharian date. The former we may for the most part accept, as Zechariah was himself a post-exilic prophet; the latter we must first examine. In favor of a very late or Grecian origin for Zechariah 9 through 14, the chief and all-important passage, and the one upon which more emphasis is placed than upon all others together, is Zechariah 9:13, “For I have bent Judah for me, I have filled the bow with Ephraim; and I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and will make thee as the sword of a mighty man.” Kuiper in summing up throws the whole weight of his argument in favor of a Greek date on this verse. Wellhausen makes it decide the date of these prophecies; while Stade declares that the announcement of the “sons of Javan” is alone sufficient to prove that these prophecies are after 333 BC. Two things are especially emphasized by critics in connection with this important passage:
(1) that the sons of Javan are the world-power of the author's day, namely, the Greek-Maccabean world-power; and
(2) that they are the enemies of Zion. But in opposition to these claims it should be observed
(1) that the sons of Javan are but one of several world-powers within the range of the prophet's horizon (Zechariah 9:1-7, Syria, Phoenicia, Philistia; Zechariah 12:2 f; Zechariah 14:2 f, all nations; and Zechariah 10:10, Zechariah 10:11, Assyria and Egypt); and
(2) that the Greeks under Alexander were not the enemies of Zion, and did not fight against the Jews, but against the Persians. Assuming the genuineness of the passage (Zechariah 9:13), the following considerations point to the Persian period as its probable historical background:
(a) The prophecy would be vague and meaningless if uttered after the invasion of Alexander.
(b) The passage does not describe a victory for the sons of Javan, but rather a defeat.
(c) It is introduced by an appeal to those still in exile to return, which would have been quite meaningless after Alexander's conquest.
(d) In short, Zechariah 9:13-17, as a whole, is not a picture of actual war, but rather an apocalyptic vision of the struggle of Israel with the world-power of the West, hence, its indefiniteness and figurative language.
Furthermore, it must not be forgotten that in Zechariah's own day the Greeks were rapidly becoming a menacing world-power. In the first 3 years (521-519 BC) of Darius' reign, 12 different revolts took place, principally in the North and East But, in 518, Darius was compelled to move westward at the head of his royal armies; Darius' visit to Egypt in 517 BC was cut short by the disturbances of the Greeks (compare Wiedemann, Gesch., 236). In the year 516 BC the Greeks of the Hellespont and Bosporus, with the island of Samos, were made to submit to Pets rule. The next year (515 BC), Darius led an expedition against the Scythians across the Danube, the failure of which encouraged the Ionians subsequently to revolt. In 500 BC the great Ionian revolt actually took place. In 499 BC Sardis, the most important stronghold for Persia in Asia Minor, was burned by the Athenians. In 490 BC Marathon was fought and Persia was conquered. In 480 BC Xerxes was defeated at Salamis. But it is unnecessary to sketch the rise of Jayan further. Enough has been related to show that already in the reign of Darius Hystaspis - in whose reign Zechariah is known to have lived and prophesied - the sons of Greece were a rising world-power, and a threatening world-power. This is all really that is required by the passage. The sons of Jayan were but one of Israel's enemies in Zechariah's day; but they were of such importance that victory over them carried with it momentous Messianic interests. The language of chapter 9 is vague, and, in our judgment, too vague and too indefinite to have been uttered after Marathon (490 BC), or even after the burning of Sardis (500 BC); for, in that case, the author would have been influenced more by Greece and less by the movements and commotions of the nations.
Other arguments advanced by the post-Zecharian school are:
(1) Zechariah 14:9, “And YHWH shall be King over all the earth: in that day shall YHWH be one, and his name one.” To Stade this passage contains a polemic against the conditions in Greek times when all gods were conceived of as only different representations of one and the same god. But, on the contrary, the post-exilic congregation was as truly a theocracy in the days of Darius Hystaspis as in the period subsequent to Alexander's conquest. The Jewish colony of the Restoration was a religious sect, not a political organization. Zechariah often pictures the close relation of YHWH to His people (Zechariah 2:10-13; Zechariah 8:3, Zechariah 8:13), and the author of chapters 9 through 14 describes similar conditions. The “yearning for a fuller theocracy,” which Cheyne (Bampton Lectures, 120) discovers in Zechariah 9-14, is thoroughly consistent with the yearning of a struggling congregation in a land of forsaken idols shortly after the return from exile.
(2) Zechariah 12:2, interpreted to mean that “Judah also, forced by the enemy, shall be in the siege against Jerusalem,” is a proof, it is alleged, that the children of the Diaspora had served as soldiers. The verse, accordingly, is said to be a description of the hostile relations which actually existed between Jerusalem and Judah in the beginning of the Maccabean struggle. The validity of these claims, however, is vitiated by a correct exegesis of the passage in hand. The text is apparently corrupt. In order to obtain a subject for “shall be,” the preposition before Judah had better be stricken out, as in the Targum. The passage then translated reads, “And Judah also shall be in the siege against Jerusalem.” But this is ambiguous. It may mean that Judah shall fight against Jerusalem, or it may mean that Judah, too, shall be besieged. The latter is obviously the true meaning of the passage, as Zechariah 12:7 indicates. For, as one nation might besiege Jerusalem (a city), so all nations, coming up are practically going to besiege Judah. The Septuagint favors this interpretation; likewise the Coptic version; and Zechariah 14:14. Wellhausen frankly concedes that “no characteristic of the prophecy under discussion in reality agrees with the conditions of the Maccabean time. The Maccabees were not the Jews of the lowland, and they did not join themselves with the heathen out of hatred to the city of Jerusalem, in order finally to fall treacherously upon their companions in war. There is not the slightest hint in our passage of religious persecution; that alone decides, and hence, the most important sign of Maccabean times is wanting.”
(3) Zechariah 10:10, Zechariah 10:11, which mentions “Egypt” and “Assyria” (and which, strange to say, is also one of the strongest proofs in support of the preexilic hypothesis), is singularly enough interpreted to refer respectively to the Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucids of Syria. But this is quite impossible, and especially so in view of the prominence which is given to Egypt in Zechariah 14:19, which points to Persian rather than Greek conditions; for then Egypt, in consequence of her perpetual efforts to throw off the Persian yoke, was naturally brought under the observation of the Jews in Palestine, who repeatedly beheld the Persian armies passing on their way to the valley of the Nile.
(4) Still another argument advanced in favor of a late post-Zecharian date for these oracles is that from language and style: Aramaisms, scriptio plena, the preponderance of the shorter form of the personal pronoun “I,” the Hebrew ending ōn, the frequent use of the nota accusativi, especially with suffixes, the omission of the article, the use of the infinitive absolute, and the clumsy diction and weary repetition of these prophecies are pointed to as evidence of their origin in Grecian times. But in opposition to these claims, it may be remarked in general that their force is greatly weakened by two considerations:
(a) the fact that the author of Zechariah 9 through 14 depends so largely on older prophecies for his thoughts, and consequently more or less for his language; and
(b) the fact that these prophecies are so very brief. There is no mode of reasoning so treacherous as that from language and style. (For the technical discussion of this point, see the present writer's The Prophecies of Zechariah, 54-59.)
5. The Unity of the Book:
Among the further objections made to the genuineness of Zechariah 9 through 14, and consequently to the unity of the book, the following are the chief:
(1) There are no “visions” in these oracles as in Zechariah 1 through 6. But there are none either in Zechariah 7:1-14; 8, and yet these latter are not denied to Zechariah. As a matter of fact, however, visions do actually occur in chapters 9 through 14, only of a historico-parabolic (Zechariah 11:4-17) and eschatological character (Zechariah 9:13-17; Zechariah 12:1-14; 14).
(2) There are “no dates,” as in Zechariah 1:1, Zechariah 1:7; Zechariah 7:1. But dates are seldom attached to “oracles” (Isaiah 13:1; Isaiah 15:1; Nahum 1:1; Habakkuk 1:1; Malachi 1:1). There is but one instance in the entire Old Testament (Isaiah 14:28 margin); whereas “visions” are frequently dated.
(3) There is “no Satan.” But Satan is never mentioned elsewhere in any prophetic book of the Old Testament.
(4) There is “no interpreting angel” in Zechariah 9 through 14. But “oracles” need no interpreting angel. On the other hand, “the Angel of YHWH” is mentioned in both parts (Zechariah 3:1 ff; Zechariah 12:8), a fact which is far more noteworthy.
(5) Proper names are wanting in Zechariah 9 through 14, e.g. Zerubbabel and Joshua. But neither do these names occur in chapters 7; 8.
(6) The sins alluded to are different, e.g. theft and false swearing in Zechariah 5:3, Zechariah 5:1; while in Zechariah 10:2 seeking teraphim and in Zechariah 13:2 ff false prophecy are named. But these sins may have existed side by side. What is far more noteworthy, in both parts the prophet declares that all these evils shall be taken away and removed out of the land (Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 5:9-11; Zechariah 13:1, Zechariah 13:2).
(7) The Messianic pictures are different, e.g. in Zechariah 1 through 8 the Messiah is spoken of as Branch-Priest (Zechariah 3:8, Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13); whereas in chapters 9 through 14, as King, (Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:10). But in Zechariah 6:13 it is expressly stated that the Branch-Priest “shall sit and rule upon his throne.” Of far greater moment is the picture of the nations coming to Zion to worship YHWH. This remarkable picture recurs in all the different sections of the book (Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13, Zechariah 6:15; Zechariah 8:20-23; Zechariah 12:6; Zechariah 14:16-19).
On the other hand, the following are some of the arguments which favor the genuineness of these disputed chapters:
(1) The fundamental ideas of both parts are the same. By this we mean that the deeper we go the nearer we approach unity. As Dr. G.A. Smith argues against Graetz, who divides Hosea 1 through 3 from Hosea 4 through 14, “in both parts there are the same religious principles and the same urgent and jealous temper”; the same is equally true of Zec 1 through 8 and Zec 9 through 14. Certain similarities are especially noteworthy, e.g.
(a) an unusually deep, spiritual tone pervades the entire book. The call to a true repentance, first sounded forth in the introduction (Zechariah 1:1-7), is developed more and more throughout the entire 14 chapters; thus, in the sanctifying of Joshua (Zechariah 3:4), in the message to Zerubbabel, “not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6), in the conditions of future blessing (Zechariah 6:15), in the answer to the Bethel deputation (Zechariah 7:5-9; Zechariah 8:16 ff); and in Zechariah 9 through 14, in the consecration of the remnant of the Philistines (Zechariah 9:7), in the blessings to Ephraim (Zechariah 10:12), in the baptism of grace upon Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:10), in the fountain for sin (Zechariah 13:1), in the worship of YHWH (Zechariah 13:9), in the living waters going forth from Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:8), and in the dedication of everything as holy unto the Lord (Zechariah 14:20, Zechariah 14:21). The tone which tempers these prophecies is an extraordinarily deep and spiritual one throughout. And this argument cannot be set aside by rejecting wholesale certain passages as later interpolations, as is done by Mitchell (ICC, 242-44).
(b) There is a similar attitude of hope and expectation in both parts. This is especially important. For example,
(iii) and that the temple shall be built and become the center of the nation's religious life (Zechariah 1:16, Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 3:7; Zechariah 6:15; Zechariah 7:2, Zechariah 7:3; Zechariah 9:8; Zechariah 14:20, Zechariah 14:21).
(iv) Messianic hope is peculiarly strong in both (Zechariah 3:8, Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13; Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 11:12, Zechariah 11:13; Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:1, Zechariah 13:7-9).
(v) Peace and prosperity are expected (Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 3:10; Zechariah 6:13; Zechariah 8:12, Zechariah 8:19; Zechariah 9:10, Zechariah 9:12-17; Zechariah 10:1, Zechariah 10:7, Zechariah 10:8, Zechariah 10:10, Zechariah 10:12; Zechariah 12:8; Zechariah 14:11, Zechariah 14:16-19).
(vi) The idea of God's providence as extending to the whole earth (Zechariah 1:14-17; Zechariah 2:9, Zechariah 2:12; Zechariah 4:10; Zechariah 6:5; Zechariah 9:1, Zechariah 9:8, Zechariah 9:14; Zechariah 10:3, Zechariah 10:1, Zechariah 10:9, Zechariah 10:12; Zechariah 12:2-4, Zechariah 12:8; Zechariah 13:7; Zechariah 14:3, Zechariah 14:9). Again,
(c) the prophet's attitude toward Judah is the same in both parts. It is an attitude of supreme regard for Judah's interests, making them second only to the capital (Zechariah 2:2, Zechariah 2:4, Zechariah 2:16; Zechariah 8:19; Zechariah 1:12; Zechariah 8:13, Zechariah 8:15; Zechariah 12:2; Zechariah 14:14; Zechariah 10:3; Zechariah 12:4, Zechariah 12:6, Zechariah 12:7; Zechariah 14:21; Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 10:6; Zechariah 11:14; Zechariah 14:5). The prophet's attitude toward the nations, the enemies of theocracy, is the same in both parts. The whole assembled world are the enemies of Israel. But though they have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:11), and are still coming up to besiege Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:2; Zechariah 14:2), yet they shall be joined to the Lord in that day (Zechariah 2:11) and worship YHWH like the Jews (Zechariah 8:20-23; Zechariah 14:16-19). These are all striking instances of similarity in the fundamental ideas of the two parts of the book.
(2) There are peculiarities of thought common to both parts: e.g.
(a) the habit of dwelling on the same thought (Zechariah 2:1, Zechariah 2:4, Zechariah 2:5, Zechariah 2:11; Zechariah 6:12, Zechariah 6:13; Zechariah 8:4, Zechariah 8:5; Zechariah 8:21, Zechariah 8:22; Zechariah 11:8; parallel Zechariah 13:3; Zechariah 14:5, Zechariah 14:16, Zechariah 14:18, Zechariah 14:19);
(c) the habit of referring to a thought already introduced: e.g. to the “Branch” (Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 6:12); “eyes” (Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 4:10); measuring “line” (Zechariah 1:16; Zechariah 2:5, Zechariah 2:6); choosing Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:17; Zechariah 2:12; Zechariah 3:2); removing iniquity (Zechariah 3:9; Zechariah 5:3 ff; Zechariah 13:2); measurements (Zechariah 5:2; Zechariah 14:10); colors of horses (Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 6:2, Zechariah 6:6); the idea of Israel as a “flock” (Zechariah 9:16; Zechariah 10:2; Zechariah 11:4 f; Zechariah 13:7); idols (Zechariah 10:2; Zechariah 13:2); shepherds (Zechariah 11:3 ff; Zechariah 13:7); and of “all nations” (Zechariah 11:10; Zechariah 12:3 ff; Zechariah 14:2 ff); Mitchell in attempting to answer this argument has failed utterly to grasp the point (ICC, 243);
(d) the use made of the cardinal number “two”; thus, two olive trees (Zechariah 4:3); two women (Zechariah 5:9); two mountains (Zechariah 6:1); two staves (Zechariah 11:7); two parts (Zechariah 14:2, Zechariah 14:4); with which compare Zechariah 6:13; Zechariah 9:12; Zechariah 14:8;
(e) the resort in each part of the book to symbolic actions as a mode of instruction; e.g. the coronation scene in Zechariah 6:9-15, and the breaking of the two staves in Zechariah 11:4-14.
(3) Certain peculiarities of diction and style favor unity of authorship; e.g. the phrase “no man passed through nor returned” (Zechariah 7:14; Zechariah 9:8) never occurs elsewhere in the Old Testament. The author's preference for and frequent use of vocatives (Zechariah 2:7, Zechariah 2:10; Zechariah 3:2, Zechariah 3:8; Zechariah 4:7; Zechariah 9:9, Zechariah 9:13; Zechariah 11:1, Zechariah 11:2; Zechariah 13:7); and especially the frequent alternation of the scriptio plena and the scriprio defectiva orthography in the Hebrew (compare Zechariah 1:2, Zechariah 1:5 with Zechariah 1:4, Zechariah 1:6 and Zechariah 8:14; Zechariah 2:11 with Zechariah 5:7; Zechariah 1:11 with Zechariah 7:7; Zechariah 9:5 with Zechariah 10:5, Zechariah 10:11; and Zechariah 10:4 with Zechariah 9:9).
Accordingly, we conclude,
(1) that Zechariah 9 through 14 are of post-exilic origin;
(2) that they are not, however, late post-exilic;
(3) that they had their origin in the period just before the completion of the temple, 516 BC, and
(4) that they were probably composed by Zechariah himself.
This conclusion is based upon the text taken as a whole, without an arbitrary dissection of the prophecies in the interests of a false theory. Mitchell (ICC, 258-59), after eliminating numerous individual passages, arrives at the conclusion that Zechariah 9 through 14 were written by four different writers;
(1) Zechariah 9:1-10, soon after 333 BC;
(3) Zechariah 11:4-17 and Zechariah 13:7-9, between 217 and 204 BC; and
(4) Zechariah 12:1 through Zechariah 13:6 and chapter 14, about the same time. Tradition points to a saner and securer conclusion, that these oracles were written by Zechariah himself; which in turn is corroborated by internal evidence, as has been shown above. One wonders why these oracles, written so late in Israel's history, should have been appended by the collectors of the Canon to the genuine prophecies of Zechariah, if, as is alleged, that prophet had nothing whatever to do with them!
(1) Those Who Defend the Unity of the Book:
C. H. H. Wright, Zechariah and His Prophecies (Bampton Lectures), London, 1879; G. L. Robinson, The Prophecies of Zechariah, with Special Reference to the Origin and Date of Chapters 9 through 14, Leipzig Dissertation, reprinted from American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, XII, 1896; W.H. Lowe, Hebrew Student's Commentary on Zechariah, Hebrew and the Septuagint, London, 1882; O.J. Bredenkamp, Der Prophet Sach., Erklart, 1879; Marcus Dods, The Post-Exilian Prophets: Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (“Handbook for Biblical Classes”), Edinburgh, 1879; E.B. Pusey, Minor Prophets, 1877; W. Drake, “Commentary on Zechariah” (Speaker's Commentary), 1876; T. W. Chambers, “The Book of Zechariah” (Lange's Bible Work), 1874; A. Van Hoonacker, in Revue Biblique, 1902, 161 ff; idem, Les douze petits prophetes, 1908; Wm. Moeller, article “Zechariah” in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by W.C. Piercy, 1908.
(2) Those Who Advocate a Preexilic Origin for Zechariah 9 Through 14:
Hitzig-Steiner, Die zwolf kleinen Propheten, 1881; Samuel Davidson, An Introduction to the Old Testament, 1862-63; W. Pressel, Commentar zu den Schriften der Propheten Haggai, Sacharja und Maleachi, 1870; C. A. Bruston, Histoire critique de la litterature prophetique des Hebreux, 1881; Samuel Sharpe, History of the Hebrew Nation, Literature and Chronology, 1882; G. von Orelll, Das Buch Ezechiel u. die zwolf kleinen Propheten, 1888; Ferd. Montet, Etude critique sur la date assignable aux six derniers chapitres de Zac, 1882; H. L. Strack, Einleitung in das Altes Testament, 1895; F. W. Farrar, Minor Prophets, in “Men of the Bible” series.
(3) Those Who Advocate a Post-Zecharian Origin for Zecharaih 9 Through 14:
B. Stade, “Deuterozacharja, eine krit. Studie,” in ZATW, 1881-82; T. K. Cheyne, “The Date of Zec 9-14,” in JQR, I, 1889; C. H. Cornill, Einleitung in das Altes Testament, 1891; S. R. Driver, Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament, 1910; J. Wellhausen, Die kleinen Propheten ubersetzt, 1893; N. I. Rubinkam, The Second Part of the Book of Zechariah, 1892; Karl Marti, Der Prophet Sacharja, 1892; A. F. Kirkpatrick, Doctrine of the Prophets, 1892; R. Eckardt, “Der Sprachgebrauch von Zach 9 through 14,” ZATW, 1893, 76-109; A. K. Kuiper, Zacharja 9 through 14; eine exegetischcritische Studie, 1894; J. W. Rothstein, Die Nachtgesichte des Sacharja, 1910; G.A. Smith in Expositor's Bible, 1896-97; S. R. Driver In the New Century Bible; H. G. Mitchell, ICC, 1912.