Zechariah 6
Pulpit Commentary
And I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came four chariots out from between two mountains; and the mountains were mountains of brass.
Verses 1-8. - § 10. The eighth vision: the four chariots. Verse 1. - I turned, and lifted up mine eyes (see note on Zechariah 5:1). Four chariots. These are war chariots. The angel explains, in vers. 5, etc., what these chariots mean, how that they represent God's judgments on sinners in all the world. Though evil is removed from the Church, God's vengeance pursues it wherever it is located. If we compare this vision with the first (Zechariah 1:8-11), we shall see that the quiet there spoken of is here broken, and that the shaking of the nations, which is to accompany Messiah's advent (Haggai 2:7), has begun. That the four chariots are to be identified with the four powers of Daniel's visions (2 and 7.) - the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, Macedonian, and Roman - is an opinion that does not commend itself. These four kingdoms and their fate have been already symbolized in the horns of the second vision (Zechariah 1:19-21), and it is most unlikely that they should be again introduced under a different figure. This would mar the orderly development of the revelation. And how could these kingdoms, such as they were, be said to issue from the seat of the theocracy and to be attentive to God's commands? Further, how could the chariots symbolize the kingdoms which were to be the objects of punishment, when at the same time they are themselves the instruments which inflict the chastisement? Neither does the angel's explanation suit this notion; for kingdoms are nowhere found under the figure of winds, and such a symbol would have been unintelligible to the prophet without further elucidation. Two mountains. The Hebrew has the article, "the two mountains," two well known mountains. The scene of the vision is Jerusalem or its neighbourhood; hence the two mountains mentioned are thought to he those of Zion or the temple mount, and Olives (comp. Zechariah 14:4; Joel 3:16). It is impossible to identify them; end probably nothing more is meant than that the chariots came forth from a defile between the two mountains which appeared in the vision. Mountains of brass; or, copper. These impregnable, undecaying mountains represent the immovable, invincible nature of the theocracy and of God's decrees respecting it. From it the chariots go forth, because for the sake of God's kingdom and to promote its objects the world powers are destroyed (Knabenbauer) (Isaiah 66:15). The number "four" represents completeness; the judgment shall leave no quarter unvisited.
In the first chariot were red horses; and in the second chariot black horses;
Verse 2. - Red horses (see note on Zechariah 1:8). The colours of the horses are significant, though the symbols are not undisputed. "Red" symbolizes bloodshed and war (Isaiah 63:2; Revelation 6:4); "black," sorrow and mourning (Isaiah 1:3; Jeremiah 4:28; Revelation 6:5); "white," victory and joy (Ecclesiastes 9:8; Revelation 6:2; Revelation 19:11). What the colour of the horses in the fourth chariot means is very doubtful (see below on ver. 3).
And in the third chariot white horses; and in the fourth chariot grisled and bay horses.
Verse 3. - Grisled and bay; rather, speckled, strong; Septuagint, ἵπποι ποικίλαι ψαροί, "horses pied and dapple-grey." But ψαρὸς is explained by the Scholiast in Aristophanes, 'Nub.,' 1225, as "swift;" and possibly the LXX. used it in that sense here. The Vulgate has fortes; Aquila, καρτεροί. One would have expected a colour to be named. but why these are specially mentioned as strong or active is seen in ver. 7. The word beruddim, "speckled," occurs only in Genesis 31:10, 12, where it has no symbolical character. As it denotes a combination of colours, probably spots of white on a dark ground, it may signify a quality of a mixed, nature, thus indicating a visitation of war and pestilence, the sword and famine.
Then I answered and said unto the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord?
And the angel answered and said unto me, These are the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth.
Verse 5. - The four spirits of the heavens. Both the Septuagint and Vulgate render, "the four winds of heaven;" and this is doubtless correct. It was a familiar symbol to the Jews. The winds are often introduced in executing God's will on sinners (comp. Psalm 104:4; Psalm 148:8; Jeremiah 49:36; Daniel 7:2). Which go forth from standing before the Lord (comp. Job 1:6; Job 2:1). The winds are supposed to be God's servants, waiting his pleasure to be sent forth on his errands. The Septuagint and Vulgate translate, "which go forth to stand before the Lord." This denotes merely their usual obedience; but the text implies that the prophet sees them moving from their usual expectant attitude, and hastening forth to do God's commands.
The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.
Verse 6. - The angel now (vers. 6, 7) indicates the various destinations of the chariots, except the first with the red horses. Why this is omitted has never been satisfactorily explained. Some regard ver. 7 as giving the destination of this chariot, by making a slight change in the word rendered "bay" in the Authorized Version, which would cause it to mean "red." The Syriac, indeed, which omits the word in ver. 3, translates it here by "red." If we retain the Masoretic reading, we must let this difficulty remain unsolved, and suppose that the angel explains only part of the vision, leaving the rest for the prophet's meditation. The black horses which are therein; literally, that wherein are the black horses, they go forth, etc.; which is equivalent to "the chariot wherein are the black horses goeth forth." So the Revised Version. The north country. Babylonia (see note on Zechariah 2:6). After them; behind them. The white horses go to the same quarter; and thus is indicated the overwhelming destruction that was coming on Babylon, and the victory and triumph of the conquerors over it. The south country; i.e. Egypt (Isaiah 30:6; Daniel 11:5), another hostile power, also, perhaps, Edom and Ethiopia. One chariot only is seen to go towards it, drawn by the speckled horses that denote a mixed judgment, perhaps of war and pestilence (see on ver. 3). The north and south symbolize the whole earth and the powers hostile to the true Israel.
And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.
Verse 7. - The bay; rather, the strong, as in ver. 3; the horses in the fourth chariot, whose special mission needed peculiar powers. Septuagint, οἱ ψαροί: but the Vulgate, qui erant robustissimi. Sought to go. These agents desired a wider sphere, and asked permission to extend their action, and to walk to and fro through the earth. Famine and pestilence, which this chariot symbolizes, come at different times and in different places mysteriously and unexpectedly "as arrows shot from the hand of God (Ezekiel 5:16) on the objects of his displeasure" (Alexander). LXX., Καὶ ἐπέβλεπον [S2, Καὶ ἐζήτουν καὶ ἐπέβλεπον] τοῦ πορεύεσθαι τοῦ [Α, καὶ] περιοδεῦσαι τὴν γῆν, "And looked to go and compass the earth."
Then cried he upon me, and spake unto me, saying, Behold, these that go toward the north country have quieted my spirit in the north country.
Verse 8. - Then cried he upon me. The angel cried aloud (like a herald announcing a proclamation, Jonah 3:7), to call the prophet's attention to what was coming, which was of most immediate consequence to his people. This angel speaks as in the person of God. Have quieted my spirit; literally, have caused my spirit to rest; LXX., ἀνέπαυσαν τὸν θυμόν μου, "quieted my anger," i.e. by satiating it. Many commentators take the clause as equivalent to "have caused my wrath to rest upon the land" (comp. John 3:36), referring to Judges 8:3; Proverbs 16:32; Ecclesiastes 10:4, for the use of the word "spirit" (ruach) in the sense of "anger." Others see here an intimation of mercy and grace to the Jews still resident in Babylonia. But it is plain that the vision is one of judgment: and the Spirit of the Lord is a Spirit of judgment and vengeance (Isaiah 4:4), which destroys evil that good may flourish.
And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,
Verses 9-15. - § 11. A symbolical action - the crowning of the high priest. Verse 9. - The preceding visions having come to an end, they are now confirmed by a public act which should show the glory of the future temple, the acceptance of the members of the theocracy, and the King and Priest who Was to come. Came unto me. This was probably on the morning after the night of visions, or as soon as he had divulged them to the people.
Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah;
Verse 10. - Take of them of the Captivity. The verb is in the infinitive for the imperative, "take thou from the Captivity;" what he is to take is noted in the next verse. "Those of the Captivity" are certain envoys sent by the Jews who still dwelt in Babylon (Ezekiel 1:1; Ezekiel 3:11), bearing gifts for the temple. These messengers the prophet was to visit at the house of Josiah, their host. Heldai; or, Cheldai, in ver. 14 "Helem" or "Chelem," "The Enduring One" (Keil); "The Lord's Word" (Pussy). The name occurs in 1 Chronicles 27:15. Tobijah; "The Lord is good," a well known name. Jedaiah; "God careth." The name is found in 1 Chronicles 9:10; 1 Chronicles 24:7. The LXX. explains the names in symbolical fashion, Παρὰ τῶν ἀρχόντων καὶ παρὰ τῶν χρησίμων αὐτῆς καὶ παρὰ τῶν ἐπεγνωκότων αὐτήν "From the chief men, and from its good men, and from those that have understood it." Which are come from Babylon. This clause in the Authorized Version is transposed from its place in the Hebrew, which is at the end of the verse, where it refers to the house of Josiah, and should be rendered, "to which," or "whither they have come from Babylon." Septuagint, Τὸν οϊκον Ὠσίου... τοῦ ἥκοντος ἐκ Βαβυλῶνος, "The house of Josiah... who came from Babylon." The same day. There was to be no delay; the transaction was to be carried out "on that day," the day made known to the prophet, and by himself in person. The house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah. He was, perhaps, treasurer. At any rate, at his house the envoys were entertained, and there were stored the contributions which the Jews in exile had sent to their brethren in Jerusalem. Josiah is the same person as Hen, according to the Authorized Version and the Vulgate, in ver. 14 (where see note). He was probably son of the Zephaniah mentioned in 2 Kings 25:18 as in the second rank of priests among those who were deported to Babylon (comp. Jeremiah 21:1; Jeremiah 37:3).
Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;
Verse 11. - Silver and gold. That which had been brought from Babylon. However unwilling the Jews were to let the Samaritans take part in the good work, they were quite ready to receive contributions from their brethren in the dispersion, and likewise from heathen kings and princes (see Ezra 6:8, etc.; Ezra 7:15, etc.). Make crowns. The prophet was to get the crowns made (comp. Exodus 25, passim). The plural may here be used intensively for "a noble crown," as in Job 31:36; or it may signify the two metals of which the crown was made, two or more wreaths being intertwined to form it. It is certain that only one crown was to be made, and that that was to be placed on Joshua's head. There is no mention of Zerubbabel in the passage; so the plural cannot be taken to intimate that there was a crown for the high priest and a crown for the princely ruler, as Ewald and Bunsen assert. These critics, followed by Hitzig and Wellhausen, supply the passage thus: "on the head of Zerubbabel and on the head of Joshua." Zerubbabel had no kingly position. Rather, all mention of Zerubbabel is expressly excluded, in order to denote that in the Person of him whom Joshua symbolized, the offices of priest and king were united (Psalm 110). We may note that in Revelation 19:12 Christ is said to have on his head many crowns, by which is meant a diadem composed of many circlets. The high priest's mitre is never called a crown. That which was placed on Joshua's head was a royal crown, a token of royal dignity, not his own, but his whom he represented - Christ the eternal Priest, the universal King.
And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD:
Verse 12. - Speak unto him, saying. The prophet is to explain to Joshua the meaning of this public act. Behold the Man whose name is The BRANCH; literally, behold the man, BRANCH is his name (see note on Zechariah 3:8). The Targum has, "Behold the Man, Messiah is his name." It is plain that the term "Branch" or "Shoot" (LXX., Ἀνατολή: Vulgate, Oriens) could not be addressed to Joshua; indeed, the very form of the sentence, "his name," not "thy name," shows this. All who saw the transaction and heard the words must have understood that they had reference to the "Shoot" of David, the Messiah that was to come, to whom was committed the regal and priestly dignity. And he shall grow up out of his place; Septuagint, Καὶ ὑποκάτωθεν αὐτοῦ ἀνατελεῖ, "And item beneath him he shall spring up;" Vulgate, Et subter eum orietur; Drake, "He shall sprout forth from under himself;" Revised Version margin, "And it (or they) shall bud forth under him;" Hitzig, Ewald, "From under him there shall be sprouting." But them is no need to alter the rendering of the Authorized Version, which indicates that the shoot shall grow from its own soil, that Messiah shall arise in his own country and nation, and shall spring from a lowly origin to the highest glory (see Isaiah 11:1; Isaiah 53:2). He shall build the temple of the Lord. He should build, not the material temple whose foundations Zerubbabel had laid, but the spiritual temple of which the tabernacle and the temple of Jerusalem were only the type and shadow - that new sanctuary which Ezekiel beheld (41), a house not made with hands, the Church of the living God (Ephesians 2:20, etc.; 1 Peter 2:5).
Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both.
Verse 13. - Even he shall build. A forcible repetition of the preceding statement, laying stress on the Person, "He, and no one else, shall build." The clause is omitted by the Septuagint. He shall bear the glory. The word rendered "glory" is used to denote royal honours here, as in 1 Chronicles 29:25; Jeremiah 22:18; Daniel 11:21. Messiah shall have regal majesty. Compare the many passages where the glory of Christ is spoken of; e.g. John 1:14; John 2:11; John 17:5; Luke 9:32; Luke 24:26; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 5:12, etc. Shall sit and rule upon his throne (comp. Zechariah 9:10). Thus Christ says, "All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth" (Matthew 28:18; see Luke 1:32). And he shall be a Priest upon his throne; Septuagint, Καὶ ἔσται ἱερεὺς ἐκ δεξιῶν αὐτοῦ, "There shall be a Priest upon his right hand." The Authorized Version is doubtless correct, as the clause is intended to declare that Messiah should, like Melchizedek, combine the offices of Priest and King (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6, 10). The counsel of peace shall be between them both. The two offices or dignities are meant, which are combined in one person. The Messiah, in his two offices of Priest and King, has one common design, to bring peace to his people (Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:5, where see note). Other interpretations are unsuitable. Thus: There shall be harmony between Joshua and Zerubbabel; but the two are nowhere mentioned together in the paragraph, and, indeed, the statement would be superfluous. There shall be perfect concord between the two offices; but a person is spoken cf. not an abstraction. Others explain the "counsel of peace" to be between Jews and Gentiles, or the returned and the exiled Jews; but neither of these have been named. Pusey takes it to mean, "between the Father and the Son;" but there is nothing in the passage to lead to this. Kuabenhauer expounds it of those who alone are mentioned in the text, Messiah and Joshua, seeing in it an exhortation to the latter to make the type correspond to the Antitype, so that all may see that there is perfect harmony between them.
And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.
Verse 14. - The crowns shall be... for a memorial. The crown was to be taken from Joshua's head and deposited in the temple as a memorial of this prophecy, and of the zeal of those who had come from far to bring offerings to the Lord, and likewise of the hospitality of Josiah, who had received them into his house. That such "gifts" were dedicated in the temple is well known (see Judith 16:19; 2 Macc. 5:16 2Macc. 9:16; Josephus, 'Bell. Jud.,' 2:17. 3; 'Ant.,' 17:06. 3; 19:6. 1; Philo, 'Legat. ad Cal.,' § 40, 2 p. 592). Helem is the same as Heldai (ver. 10), whether he bore both names, or whether, as is probable, this is a mere mistake of a copyist. To Hen. The Authorized Version considers this as a proper name. In this case it would be another name for Josiah. But it is really an appellative, and the rendering should be, "for the kindness of the son of Zephaniah." The crown would be also a memorial of his kindness in receiving and entertaining these exiles (comp. Matthew 10:41). The LXX. explains the names as in ver. 10, though not quite in the same way, Ασται τοῖς ὑπομένουσι καὶ τοῖς χρησίμοις αὐτῆς καὶ τοῖς ἐπεγνωκόσιν αὐτὴν καὶ εἰς χάριτα υἱοῦ Σοφονίον καὶ εἰς ψαλμὸν ἐν οἴκῳ Κυρίου, "The crown shall be to them that endure, and to its good men, and to those that have understood it, both for a favour to the son of Sophonias, and for a psalm in the house of the Lord."
And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God.
Verse 15. - They that are far off; οἱ μακράν, (Septuagint); comp. Ephesians 2:13, 17. The Jews who had come from Babylon to Jerusalem are a figure of the conversion of distant nations and their offerings to the Church (see Haggai 2:7, and note there). Build in the temple of the Lord. They shall join in building up the spiritual temple, the universal Church of Christ. Ye shall know, etc. (Zechariah 2:9, 11; Zechariah 4:9). The Angel of Jehovah is speaking in Jehovah's name (ver. 9). What takes place in the case of this material temple shall be a token and a prelude of the great fulfilment in Messianic times. If ye will diligently obey. Neither the restoration of the temple nor the advent of Messiah's kingdom was in itself doubtful; but the people's share in the former, and their participation in the blessings of the latter, depended on the preparation of the heart, obedience, zeal, and holiness (Daniel 12:10; Malachi 4:1, 2; John 1:12; 2 Timothy 2:11, 12).

Pulpit Commentary


Zechariah 5
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