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It is, however, peculiar to Zechariah, that he designates the most special concern of God for the stone by the resting of his seven eyes upon it. It appears, that he had here in view the symbolic representations of the Babylonians or Persians. That similar figurative designations were employed, particularly by the Persians, appears from the fact, that certain confidential servants of the king were called opfaĀuoi Baoilews; comp. Suidas and Hesychius s. v., Brisson. de reg. Pers. princ. p. 264 sq. ; a designation probably borrowed from their theology, as the whole Persian kingdom was supposed to be a visible representation of the heavenly kingdom of Ormuz, of whom the king was the representative, (comp. Beiträge, 1, p. 125 sq.) It is further to be inquired, what is meant by the stone, to which the seven eyes are directed. It is almost unanimously supposed by the older interpreters to be the Messiah. But this is contradicted by “which I have laid before Joshua,” whereby the stone appears as something already present only to be ornamented hereafter, as also by, “I will grave it.” Others suppose it to be the foundation stone of the temple; but we do not perceive how this was to be graved. The correct view is rather, that the unhewn stone, to be polished and graven by the Lord, is an image of the Theocracy, and its seat, the temple, signifying its present low condition, and its future glorification by the Lord. The stone is then with entire propriety described as lying before Joshua, since, as had been said, v. 7, the chief oversight of the Theocracy, at that time, devolved upon him. The polishing and graving of the rough, precious stone, (comp. Exod. 28 : 9, 11, 21, 36, 39, 40,) consists preëminently in the sending of the Messiah, though without excluding the earlier mercies of God. According to the cotemporary prophecy of Haggai, chap. 2: 7 – 10, the second temple was to be filled with glory, and made more illustrious than the first, through him. Dining nno, to open openings, to grave. The verb wir, elsewhere intrans. recedere, here transitive. This land, Judea, which, although the deliverance from sin to be effected by the Messiah should extend further, even over the whole heathen world, is here alone mentioned, because in this whole prediction the prophet aims only to comfort the troubled minds of his people. The expression, “ in one day,” where day stands for the shortest portion of time, implies, that the removal of sin, to be effected by the Messiah, would not be continually repeated, like that accomplished by the typical priesthood, but completed in a single action.
V, 10. “At that time ye shall call one to another, to the vine and to the fig tree !" So translates correctly De Dieu, Crit. Sacr. More feebly others; “ Ye shall invite one another under." The words contain an image of the rest, peace, and prosperity, ("summa et lætissima tranquillitas in amena omnium copia," De Dieu,) which would be a consequence of the forgiveness of sins procured by the Messiah.
5. The Candlestick with the Two Olive Trees.
Between this and the preceding vision a pause is to be supposed. The angelus interpres had withdrawn for a time from the prophet, and the latter, his ecstasy having ceased, had recovered his ordinary condition of mind. Jerome: “Quotiescunque humana fragilitas suæ relinquitur imbecillitati, deus a nobis et angelorum ejus auxilium abire credendum est," “And the angel who conversed with me,” it is said, 1, "returned and awoke me, as a man who is awakened from sleep.” We have here the deepest designation of the condition of the prophets while prophesying (comp. Vol. I. p. 217), in comparison with their ordinary state. They stand related to each other as sleep to being awake. The ordinary condition, in which, given up to sensible impressions, we are unable to raise the spiritual eye to the contemplation of what is divine, is that of spiritual sleep; the ecstasy on the contrary, when the senses are at rest, and the whole of our conscious agency ceases, and the images of divine things are represented in the soul as in a pure and smooth mirror, is a state of spiritual watchfulness. This sense, which is the only true one, Cyril alone among all the interpreters has perceived, who remarks: “Our condition, in comparison with that of the angels, is to be regarded as a state of sleep." The rest, as Theodoret, Jerome, Vitringa, have been led astray by their erroneous preconceived opinions respecting the condition of the prophets while prophesying. (Comp. Vol. I. p. 217.) They suppose the prophet was so absorbed in the contemplation of the vision, chap. 3, as to need the admonition of the angelus interpres to attend to the new scene which presented itself. But this supposition is untenable, since it leaves out of view," and the angel returned," and indeed makes his going away to be without meaning,
The new vision, which now presents itself to the prophet is as follows; he sees a candlestick of pure gold, and on it an oil vessel, out of which the oil flows down into each of the seven lamps of the candlestick through seven tubes. On both sides of the candlestick, and rising above, stand two olive trees. The angelus interpres gives the meaning of this emblem, after he has reminded the prophet of his human weakness, and called his attention to the deep import of the vision by the inquiry : “Knowest thou not what this imports ?" v. 6, 7, also in the expression, “This vision (so far as it was prophetical) is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel ; not by might and not by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts. Who art thou, thou great mountain before Zerubbabel ? Become a plain ! He brings forth the top stone (so is 70x9 138.7 to be translated, not, with most interpreters, the foundation stone, as this had already been laid many years before, comp. also v. 9, "his hands have founded this house, and his hands will also complete it,'') * with the shouting of the angels), 'Grace, grace unto it!'” Accordingly this is the import of the vision; the affairs of the Theocracy will not be promoted by human power, but by the Spirit of God alone, who animates, protects, sustains it. The immediate object for the accomplishment of which this general truth, at all times valid for the church of God, was here symbolized, was, to impart consolation to the desponding people and their head, and, thereby, energy for a zealous prosecution of the erection of the temple. For of what consequence was it, if whole mountains of difficulties opposed this work, since it did not depend on human power, which indeed was not at hand, but the Lord had taken it wholly upon himself? In this interpretation what is general and what is special appear in their true relation to each other, which has been misunderstood by most interpreters. Let us now see how the symbol and its signification are related to each other. The candlestick is an image of the Theocracy; the tcrtium comparationis the light, which both possess and radiate into the surrounding darkness, comp. Apoc. 1:20; “The seven candlesticks are seven churches;” Luke 12 :5, the parable of the wise and foolish virgins, &c. That the candlestick
* Unless one chooses, which appears to the author to be better, “ he has brought forth the ground stone." But if, according to the current interpretation, the præter is taken as the præt. propheticum, the explanation given in the text is indispensable.
is entirely of the most precious metal, of gold, signifies the excellency of the church of God. The two olive trees symbolize the Spirit of God; the oil, which flows from them into the lamps and illuminates them, and causes them to give light, his influences on the church of God. The abundance of tubes, seven for each of the seven lamps, intimates the manifold ways in which the mercy of God flows to his church, as well as its exuberance.
It is commonly supposed that the prophet in the representation of the symbol has omitted through negligence, and afterwards introduces, v. 11 sq., one circumstance, viz. that in the two olive trees were two boughs full of olives, which, lying in two presses, (so is ninus in v. 12, to be explained, as is evident, among other reasons, from 73, which cannot possibly be explained as it has been by many interpreters, by "near by,") conducted the oil to the candlestick. But this omission was rather from design. The mention of this special circumstance would have weakened the impression of the symbol as a whole, and have prevented the insight into its chief meaning. The prophet, therefore, does not direct the attention to this special circumstance, until he has learned and explained the import of the symbol as a whole. He asks, in the first place, v. 11, “ What are these two olive trees ?” This question cannot relate generally to the import of the olive trees, for the prophet has already been informed that they symbolize the Spirit of God. It rather concerns only the duality of the olive trees. But before the prophet receives the answer of the angel, he perceives that the duality of the olive trees is not of itself significant, that it has rather been chosen merely on account of the significancy of the duality of the boughs. He asks, therefore, without waiting for the answer, v. 12, correcting' himself, anew, “What the two ears (Kimchi: Comparat ramos olearum cum spicis, quod sicut ha granis, sic illi olivis pleni essent) of the olive trees, which are in the two golden presses, import ?" And that he receives from the angelus interpres an answer only to this question, and not to the former, implies that the duality of the olive trees is not of itself significant. He receives for answer, “They are the two children of oil, which stand before the Lord of the whole earth.” Toy with by, properly " to stand over any one,'' here signifies rendering service ; near the Lord, who sits, stand the servants, comp. Is. 6:1, 2, " The Lord sat on a high throne. – Seraphim stood over him," at his side, so that they appeared above him as he sat. The question now arises, who are the two children of oil, the
servants of the Lord, wat sozuv. Several interpreters suppose them to be Zerubbabel and Joshua. But that these, considered as individuals, could not be meant, is evident, because the supplying of the candlestick with oil, the imparting of the divine mercy in the Theocracy, cannot be connected with the existence of two frail and dying men. Others, therefore, have rightly supposed, that by the two children of oil, the two whole orders were designated, which in the Theocracy eminently served as instruments of the divine mercy, the sacerdotal and the regal, or, generally, that of the civil magistrates. These alone could be called children of oil, in order to designate the official favor bestowed upon them by God, which was symbolically represented by anointing. Comp. in reference to the high priest, the important parallel passage, Levit. 21 : 12. That this was no longer practised in the case of the civil magistrates after the exile, is nothing to the purpose; they were anointed in their predecessors, and the grace suited to their office, the thing expressed by the symbol, was continued to them. To assure to them and the high priests this favor, and through this assurance to console and gladden the people, who believed themselves forsaken of God, is precisely the object of the present symbolic representation. The spiritual and the civil government shall continue, as in the former Theocracy, to be the medium through which the Lord imparts his gracious gifts to his church. This promise in the highest and fullest sense was accomplished in the manifestation of Christ, who, according to chap. 6, should combine both offices, that of a King and High Priest in his person, whom the prophet represents, chap. 3, especially as a High Priest, chap. 9, as a King, and through whom the oil of the divine favor, immeasurably richer than that imparted through all former servants of God, is poured into the candlestick of the church.
6. The Flying Roll.
Chap. 5: v. 1-4.
This vision, as well as the following, is of a mournful character. They show, like chap. 11, that it was by no means the object of the prophet to promote at all events the building of the temple, but that it was rather his principal purpose to bring the people to repentance and faith, which would necessarily be followed by zeal