« FöregåendeFortsätt »
for the outward work, which had been commenced. Excited by Ez. 2: 10, the prophet here sees a flying roll, twenty yards long and ten broad. Its dimensions coincide entirely with those of the porch of the temple, 1 Kings 6:3. This cannot possibly be accidental, as several interpreters have supposed. The porch, the outermost part of the temple proper, was the place from which God was regarded as dealing with his people, in like manner as Solomon, 1 Kings 7:6, judged the people in the porch of his palace. Before the porch, therefore, in the court of the priests, stood the altar of burnt-offering. In a great public calamity the supplicating priests drew still nearer into the porch, to embrace as it were the feet of an offended father ; comp. Joel 2: 17, “ Let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep between the porch and the altar of the Lord, and say, Spare thy people, O Lord, and give not thine heritage to reproack.” When, therefore, the prophet gives to the flying roll, the symbol of the divine judgment upon the covenant people, the dimensions of the porch, he intimates, that this judgment is a consequence of the Theocracy. A similar symbolic representation occurs, when, chap. 6:1, the chariots, the symbols of the divine judgments upon the nations hostile to the Theocracy, go forth from between the two mountains, the symbol of the Theocracy. The roll is inscribed on both sides 7ipt7, exactly as the tables of the law, Exod. 32: 15, whence the expression is borrowed, and also as the roll, Ez. 2 :9, 10. On the one side, are the curses against those who abuse the name of the Lord by perjury; on the other, those against thieves (17p3 in the sense exterminare in Niph. Is. 3:26, in Pi. Jer. 30: 11, where the meaning puram declaravit is commonly assumed contrary to the parallelism.) The one stands as an individual example of those who violate the commands of the first table; the other, of those who violate the commands of the second; so that the one side of the roll contains the divine threatening against the transgressors of the command, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart;" the other against the transgressors of the command, “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” This was seen by Theodoret: Mv yog tiş oiéoyu xatų xde πτών μόνων και επιόρκων, ταύτην γεγενήσθαι την απειλής κατά πάσης γαρ παρανομίας την ψήφον εξήνεγκεν: επειδή γαρ όλος ο νόμος και σε προφήται έν τούτω τω λόγω κρέμανται, εν τω αγαπήσεις κύριον τον θεόν σου εξ όλης της καρδίας σου και αγαπήσεις τον πλησίον σου ως σεαυτόν, δια της επιορκίας και της κλοπής παν είδος αμαρτίας συνήγαγεν η μεν γαρ των όρκων παράβασις ασεβείας εστί το κεφάλαιον, αγάπης δε θείας έρημος και τοιούτος, η δε κλοπή την εις τον πέλας αδικίαν δηλοί, ουδείς δε αγαπών τον πγησίον αδικείν τούτον άνέζεται : περιεκτικά τοίνυν εστι των άλλων νόμων ταύτα τα κεφάλαια, και είκότως τους παραβάταις την τιμωρίαν εκείνην ήπείλησε. - This curse was to go forth over the whole land; it was not merely to strike the transgressors slightly and superficially, but entirely consume them,
with all that belonged to them. In the expression ; “It consumes their house, and its wood and its stone,” is an allusion to 1 Kings 18: 38. We have here, therefore, a prediction of a more severe judgment of God to be inflicted upon Judea after the ungodliness, already at the time of the prophet present in the germ, should have taken root and put forth boughs. How this ungodliness will lead the people to reject the Messiah, and thus deprive themselves of the last means of their deliverance, is further unfolded in chap. 11.
7. The Epha and the Woman sitting therein.
Verses 5 - 11.
The angelus interpres, who had withdrawn for a while into the choir of the heavenly angels, returns to the prophet in order to explain to him the import of a new vision. The prophet sees a form as if rising from a mist, but is not able to recognise it. The angel instructs him ; “ This is the Epha which goes forth,” not indeed, which is ungrammatical, “ This, which goes forth, is an Epha.” It is by no means necessary to suppose, with Jonathan, (Hi sunt populus, qui accipiebant ac dabant mensura falsa,) that the prophet alludes to false measures. Of this there is no trace in the text. The sense is rather: As the Israelites have filled up the measure of their sins, so also shall the full measure of the divine punishment overtake them. As a symbol of this thought, the Epha, one of the largest measures, was peculiarly suitable. That we are not, with several interpreters, to stop short at the sins, is shown by, “This is the measure which goes forth,” which includes the idea of the divine judgment, as the comparison of v. 2, 3, shows. The exclusive reference to the punishment, attempted by others, appears however to be refuted by the interpretation of the angel, “ This is their eye in all the land,” i. e. it is the effort of the whole people to fill up the measure of their sins, and thereby bring upon themselves a full
measure of the divine punishment. And, though one could indeed give prominency only to the latter, they are intent upon nothing but to draw down the divine punishment with violence upon themselves, still a concurrent reference to the sins is manifest from what had gone before, where the Jewish people, personified as a woman, already sit in the Epha, before the divine punishment breaks in
The word j'y is not by any means aspectus, but eye, comp. chap. 9:1,“ To the Lord is the eye of men,” for, “ The eye of the Lord is directed upon men.” On a nearer view the prophet perceives that a woman sits in the middle of the Epha, v. 7. - This was (namely, what I saw, i. e. behold there) a woman sitting in the middle of the Epha." She is designated by the angelus interpres as ungodliness, (comp. Mal. 1: 4,) the ungodly Jewish people, who, as they had heretofore sat in their sins, were now to be surrounded by their punishments. Thereupon the woman in the Epha, in which she had hitherto sat upright, so that she appeared above it, is thrown down, and a great lump of lead laid upon her, symbolizing, that the Lord by his judgment would arrest the people in their sinful course. Two winged women appear, and with the swiftness of wind bear the Epha with the woman through the air into the land of Shinar. There the Epha is let down, and the woman receives her permanent dwelling-place. The women, no doubt, designate the instruments, which God will employ for the punishment of his people, hostile nations, as formerly the Babylonians. The duality belongs to the symbol, as such, not to the thing signified by it. For the carrying of so great a measure as the Epha, two persons were required. Great difficulty has been occasioned to the interpreters by the mention of Shinar, as the land into which Israel should be carried away. It has led Rosenmüller to suppose, that the prophet does not here predict the future, but describe the past, the carrying away of the Jews to Babylonia. But this supposition is entirely untenable. All other visions of Zechariah relate to the future, how should this only make an exception? Immediately before a future judgment is predicted, how then should this prediction refer to past times ? And besides, the residence in Shinar, in v. 11, in contrast with the former, which was brief, is represented as of long, and indeed as of perpetual duration. Ignorance of the custom of the prophets, arising from the nature of the prophetic vision, to represent the future under the image of the past, and to call the former by the name of the latter, has led to these and other unnatural assumptions. Of this custom we have here a splendid and incontrovertible example, which serves completely to repel several attacks (which arise from ignorance of it) against the genuineness of the second part. The future dwelling-place of the Jews when driven out of their own land, the prophet here designates without farther explanation by the name of the country of their former exile, just as he does chap. 10:11, their future oppressors by the names of Ashur and Egypt.
The import of this vision stands in close connexion with the foregoing. After,
After, — such is its simple meaning, - Israel shall have been visited by severe divine judgments, equally fearful chastisements shall be inflicted upon the instruments, which God had in part employed in the punishment of his people ; upon all nations from one end of the earth to the other. Here, therefore, the last general judgment is described, which, according to the unanimous prediction of the prophets, will follow the partial judgment upon Israel, and close the present course of the world. See further, on chap. 12, which is exactly parallel, as in general between the visions of the first and the prophecies of the second part a remarkable parallelism exists, which will hereafter be more fully noticed.
We now take a nearer view of the imagery in which this revelation is imparted to the prophet.
He sees four chariots, v. I. With respect to their import, he is taught by the declaration of the angelus interpres, v. 5, “ These are the four winds of heaven, which go forth after they have appeared as ministers before the Lord of the whole earth.” The four winds of heaven serve as a symbol of the divine judgments. From their personification, the circumstance is explained, that chariots are attributed to them, and that these are afterwards identified with the winds, of which they are to be considered as the vehicles. The figurative representation receives light from some passages of Jeremiah and Ezekiel, whom the prophet seems here, as commonly, without prejudice to his independence, to have imitated. The divine judgments breaking in from all sides appear also, Jer. 49 : 36, under the image of the four winds; “ And I bring against Elam the four
winds from the four ends of heaven, and I scatter them according to all these winds.” In Ez. chap. 1, the judgments to be extended over all regions of the earth are symbolized by the four cherubim, over whose heads the Lord is enthroned, and whose chariots are driven towards the regions for which they have been destined ; by the wind, the divine anger, or the divine sentence of punishment, comp. v. 12, as in v. 4; they come with a great storm from the north, to indicate that the divine judgment breaks in upon Judah from Babylon. Similar also is Dan. 7:2; “I saw the four winds of heaven strive upon the great sea," symbol of the whole multitude of the inhabitants of the earth, Apoc. 7:1; Kai jetà taŭra sidov tĖOORρας αγγέλους εστώτας επί τας τέσσαρας γωνίας της γης, κρατούντας τους Técraqas dvěuous tñs yñs. The only difference is, that here, as in Ezekiel, the winds themselves do not ride on the chariots, but angels, who are placed over the winds and driven by them.
The chariots go forth from the two mountains, and these mountains are of brass. The judgment is hereby designated as a consequence of the Theocracy. The symbolic representation is to be explained from the geography of Jerusalem. Ritter, Erdk. II. p. 406; “ a deep valley (Bafia gópays, vallis profunda) runs parallel with the Jordan from north to south, but after a course of some hours turns eastward towards the Dead Sea. It is the very narrow valley of Jehoshaphat, and the wadi in it is the bed of the brook Kedron, which lies dry a great part of the year. On both sides of this valley, above where it turns towards the sea, steep hills of limestone rise to different heights; three of their summits, on the east side of the brook, are naked on the eastern declivity, but on the western shaded with shrubbery, especially with olive trees, from which they have from the most ancient time borne the name of the Mount of Olives.” That the prophet had in view particularly the valley of Jehoshaphat appears from the parallel passage, chap. 14:4, where, in a sense to be hereafter determined, an extension of this valley, by the cleaving asunder of the Mount of Olives, is promised. “ And the Mount of Olives is divided in the midst, so that there is a great valley from west to east; and one half of the mountain falls back towards the north, and the othe towards the south; and ye flee through my valley of the mountains, for the valley of the mountains will reach to Azal.” As, in the passage before us, the discourse relates to the valley between two definite mountains ; so there the valley of Jehoshaphat xai ¿soxnv is called the Lord's valley of