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yet lovely myrtle in a deep valley. Similar is the comparison of the Theocracy with the still waters of Siloa, in contrast with the roaring waters of the Euphrates. Is. chap. 8. While outward splendor surrounded the kingdoms of the world, the kingdom of God was always small and obscure, and appeared, especially at that time, to be near its extinction. That the angel of the Lord halts among the myrtle bushes, indicates the high protection which the church of God, helpless in itself, enjoys. The import of the appearance of the angel of the Lord as sitting on a horse, and indeed on a red horse, we cannot better express than in the words of Theodoret : 10ŭtov δρά εποχούμενον μεν ίππω διά την οξύτητα των δρωμένων, το δε τού ίππου πυόρον την κατά των πολεμίων εθνών αγανάκτησιν δηλοί' ύφαιμον γάρ και υπέρυθρον το θυμοειδές. Red is the color of blood; in red garments, Is. 63; the angel of the Lord comes from Bozrah, after he has crushed the enemies of his kingdom; on a red horse, Apoc. 6: 4, Satan appears, to whom it is given to take peace from the earth, that men shall slay each other, and who bears a great sword. By the color of the horse, therefore, is symbolized what the angel of the Lord, v. 15, says of himself: “I am inflamed with great wrath against the secure and quiet nations," comp. Is. 47: 6. The inferior angels, which surrounded the angel of the Lord, symbolize the thought, that all means for the prosperity of his people, and the destruction of his enemies, are at his command. The color of their horses signifies the judgments impending over the latter, about to be executed with victorious might. White is the color of victory; comp. Apoc. 6: 2; “ And I saw, and behold a white horse : and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him : and he went forth conquering, and to conquer." That the angels are sent to spy out the condition of the earth, and that they bring back the answer, that the whole earth is at rest, is designed to symbolize the thought, that it is now time for the accomplishment of the promises in favor of the covenant people, and the threatenings against their enemics. There reigned in the second year of Darius a general peace; all the nations of the former Chaldean kingdom enjoyed a peaceful and uninterrupted prosperity. Even the Babylonians (that to them the words, " the whole earth is at rest,” principally refer, appears from v. 15. Jun. and Trem. appropriately remark: “Delitias agit Babylonius et quisquis adversarius ecclesia, dum ecclesia tua maximis tempestatibus agitatur”) had soon recovered from the disadvantages they had suffered from the capture of the city by Cyrus, which was still rich and prosperous. Judea alone, the seat of the people of God, exhibited a mournful aspect ; the capital still lay for the most part in ruins; no protecting walls surrounded it; the building of the temple, which had been some inonths before recommenced at the exhortation of Haggai, had hitherto been obstructed by difficulties, which the dispirited people despaired of being able to overcome; the number of inhabitants was but small; the greatest portion of the land still lay waste; comp. Neh. chap. 1. This state of things must have been a great temptation to the pious; and have served the wicked as an excuse for their ungodliness; comp. Mal. 2: 17, where the latter inquire,
Every one that doeth evil is good in the sight of the Lord, and he delighteth in them; or, Where is the God of judgment?” and 3: 15, “Therefore we praise only the despisers, for the ungodly increase, they tempt God and all goes well with them.” It required great strength of faith, under such circumstances, not to doubt either the truth of God or his omnipotence. His promises to the covenant people had only begun, and that in a small degree, to be fulfilled by their return; his predicted judgments upon Babylon extended much farther than to a mere capture of the city, and even this beginning of their fulfilment had apparently ceased, since the city was continually regaining its former prosperity. To counteract the temptations, destructive of all active zeal for the Theocracy, which this condition of things must bring with it, is the object of the prophecy. That the angel of the Lord appears as protector of his people, afforded them of itself a rich source of consolation. That he presented an intercession for his people, showed still more clearly, that the time of compassion was at hand. For his intercession cannot be in vain, nor the will of God unknown to him.
By the answer, which the Lord imparts to him, must every remnant of fear and despondency be removed ; it showed, that his promises and threatenings though gradually, and at the time determined in his holy and wise counsel, would yet certainly be fulfilled. We have now still to remark a few words concerning the fulfilment. Its commencement ensued even in the nearest future. The rebellion of the Babylonians under Darius the son of Hystaspes, brought the city near to its predicted entire destruction. Not to insist that it may be regarded as a consequence of the capture by Cyrus, it inflicted upon the city still deeper wounds. A great slaughter was occasioned and its walls were destroyed. The building of the temple was happily completed in the sixth year of Darius. The arrival of Ezra, and somewhat later, that of Nehemiah, who restored the walls of the city, and greatly increased its population, were a strong proof to the people of the divine mercy, and a sign of their enduring election. But we must not seek for the fulfilment in all its extent at this early period. The prophecies of Zechariah, like those of the earlier prophets, embrace the whole complexus of the salvation and of the judgments of God, with the exclusion only of what had already taken place, as, namely, the capture of Babylon and the return of the covenant people. What, therefore, is here said in reference to the anger of the Lord upon Babylon, and the remaining enemies of the kingdom of God, has its completion only in their entire destruction; what is said of the renewed mercy of God towards his people, in the sending of the Messiah. The beginning of the fulfilment in the nearest future served the people for a pledge of the certainty of its completion.
2. The Four Horns and the Four Smiths.
Chap. 2: v. 1-4.
This vision also is of a consoling import. The prophet sees four horns, and receives from the angelus interpres the disclosure, that they signify the enemies of the kingdom of God. He then sees four smiths, who break the horns in pieces. The sense is obvious. The enemies of the people of God shall be punished for their crimes; the Lord will secure his feeble church against every assault. So far all interpreters agree; the number of the horns, or of the enemies, has, however, occasioned a multitude of arbitrary hypothe
The true interpretation was seen even by Theodoret : técoupa δε λέγει, ουκ εθνών τινών αριθμών δηλών, αλλ' επειδή τέσσαρα της οικουμένης τα τμήματα, το εωον, το εσπέριον, το νότιον, το βόρειον, επήλθον δε αυτούς οι μεν ένθεν, οι δε εκείθεν, ποτέ μέν 'Ασσύριοι και Βαβυλώνιοι, ποτέ δε 'Aλλόφυλοι και Αιγύπτιοι, άλλοτε δε Ιδουμαίοι και Μωαβίται και 'Αμμωνίται, τέσσαρα κέρατα τους εκ των τεσσάρων τμημάτων αυτοϊς επελθόντας προσηγόρευσε.. That the number of the horns relates to the fact, that the covenant people were surrounded by enemies on all sides, all quarters of the heavens, appears from v.
“ According to all the four winds have I scattered you ; ” but still more clearly from chap. 6, as we shall there see.
3. The Angel with the Measuring Line.
Chap. 2 : v. 5 – 17.
The symbolical apparatus is here but small. The prophet, like Ezekiel before him, chap. 40: 3, sees a form employed in measuring the future circumference of Jerusalem, since its present limits will not be sufficient when the city shall be enlarged by the mercy of the Lord. This form is in all probability none other than the angel of the Lord ; that the employment is entirely suited to him, who, as the protecting Lord of the covenant people should' accomplish this enlargement, needs no proof. His sending an inferior angel to the angelus interpres, and imparting commands to him, indicates a higher dignity than that of an inferior angel. We then have the advantage of an accurate agreement with Dan. chap. 12, where entirely the same persons appear in action, Michael, the angel of the Lord, in company with Gabriel, the angelus interpres, and another angel, (comp. Beitr. 1, p. 167 ff.) The angelus interpres, who had hitherto remained with the prophet, who was a somewhat distant spectator of the scene, withdraws himself from him, in order to receive from the angel of the Lord a disclosure concerning the import of his conduct. But scarcely has he departed, when the angel of the Lord sends him this disclosure by another angel, with the command to impart it to Zechariah. From the designation of the latter, in the discourse of the angel, as “this young man,” the youthful age of Zechariah at the time has been justly inferred ; but still there is certainly something else also as the ground of this designation. This was perceived by Jerome, who remarks, “ Ad comparationem dignitatis angelicæ omnem humanam naturam pueritiam vocari, quia non angeli in nos, sed nos in angelos proficimus.” In like manner, Vitringa : “ Hominem brevis ævi multarum rerum imperitum, cælestium maxime ignarum non tam contemtus, quam differentiæ causa appellat W., et liceat dicere rudem, multa docendum, quo eodem sensu Ezechiel passim 078 appellatur.” The interpreters have erred only in adopting exclusively one of the two references. The youthful age of the prophet is made prominent, because youth is a type of the condition of man in relation to God and his holy angels. What the other angel imparts to the angelus interpres for Zechariah, is as follows; the city shall be extended far beyond its previous limits and protected and glorified by the Lord. This should excite all the Jews remaining behind in Babylon to a speedy return to their native land, that they may participate with their brethren in the promised blessings, and escape the judgments which the Lord has determined upon Babylon, and all the other nations, who have showed themselves hostile to the covenant people. Lastly, Jerusalem shall experience the highest exaltation from the fact, that the Lord himself shall make her his dwelling-place, the consequence of which will be, that many nations shall join themselves to the Theocracy when glorified by his presence. We have yet some remarks to make on this prediction. 1. “Flee out of the north country, deliver thyself from Babylon,” v. 10, 11, points to a great calamity coming upon Babylon. That such a calamity actually fell upon the city under the reign of Darius the son of Hystaspes, we have already
With these words, v. 12, 13, are connected by the causative ', since the general proposition, the annunciation that the angel of the Lord would punish the enemies of his people for their crimes, and indeed in such a manner, that they would fall under the power of Israel, as it happened in respect to several neighbouring people in the time of the Maccabees, constitutes the ground of the special direction which had preceded. Hence it appears with what justice some have denied the genuineness of the second part of Zechariah, because several nations are threatened in it with divine judgments, who in his time were subject to the Persians. If their independence could hence be inferred, so also could that of the Babylonians from this prophecy and the foregoing, and, therefore, even the first part could not belong to Zechariah. 2. The prediction of prosperity for Jerusalem here also relates in the end to the time of the Messiah. We must refer exclusively to this time what is said, v. 14, 15, of the dwelling of the Lord with Jerusalem, and the consequent pressing of the heathen nations to the Theocracy, as a splendid demonstration of the divine mercy, which, according to v. 17, all flesh shall behold with astonishment and wonder. That he, who will glorify the Theocracy by his presence, is the angel of the Lord, the sharer of his dignity and his name, who, according to the prediction of the prophet, shall appear in the Messiah (comp. Vol. I. p. 183), is evident from v. 15, “ And then will I dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt experience, that the Lord of Sabaoth has sent me to thee." According to this, he, who will dwell in the midst of the covenant people, in like manner as he was formerly