Easton's Bible Dictionary
Jehovah is renowned or remembered.
A prophet of Judah, the eleventh of the twelve minor prophets. Like Ezekiel, he
was of priestly extraction. He describes himself ( Zechariah
1:1 ) as "the son of Berechiah." In Ezra
5:1 and 6:14
he is called "the son of Iddo," who was properly his grandfather. His prophetical
career began in the second year of Darius (B.C. 520), about sixteen years after
the return of the first company from exile. He was contemporary with Haggai (
His book consists of two distinct parts, (1) chapters 1 to 8, inclusive, and (2)
9 to the end. It begins with a preface ( Zechariah
1:1 - 6
), which recalls the nation's past history, for the purpose of presenting a solemn
warning to the present generation. Then follows a series of eight visions ( Zechariah
1:7 - 6:8
), succeeding one another in one night, which may be regarded as a symbolical
history of Israel, intended to furnish consolation to the returned exiles and
stir up hope in their minds. The symbolical action, the crowning of ( Joshua
6:9 - 15
), describes how the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of God's Christ.
Chapters 7 and 8, delivered two years later, are an answer to the question whether
the days of mourning for the destruction of the city should be any longer kept,
and an encouraging address to the people, assuring them of God's presence and
The second part of the book (Zechariah
9 - 14)
bears no date. It is probable that a considerable interval separates it from the
first part. It consists of two burdens.
The first burden (Zechariah
9 - 11)
gives an outline of the course of God's providential dealings with his people
down to the time of the Advent.
The second burden (Zechariah
14) points out the glories that await Israel in "the latter day", the final
conflict and triumph of God's kingdom.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
The book of Zechariah, in its existing form, consists
of three principal parts, vis. chs. 1-8; chs. 9-11; chs. 12-14.
1. The first of these divisions is allowed by the critics to be the genuine work
of Zechariah the son of Iddo. It consists, first, of a short introduction or preface
in which the prophet announces his commission; then of a series of visions, descriptive
of all those hopes and anticipations of which the building of the temple was the
pledge and sure foundation and finally of a discourse, delivered two years later,
in reply to questions respecting the observance of certain established fasts.
2. The remainder of the book consists of two sections of about equal length, chs.
9-11 and 12-14, each of which has an inscription.
|(1) In the first section he threatens
Damascus and the seacoast of Palestine with misfortune, but declares that Jerusalem
shall be protected.
(2) The second section is entitled "The burden of the word of Jehovah for Israel."
But Israel is here used of the nation at large, not of Israel as distinct from
Judah. Indeed the prophecy which follows concerns Judah and Jerusalem, in this
the prophet beholds the near approach of troublous times, when Jerusalem should
be hard pressed by enemies. But in that day Jehovah shall come to save them an
all the nations which gather themselves against Jerusalem shall be destroyed.
Many modern critics maintain that the later chapters,
from the ninth to the fourteenth, were written by some other prophet, who lived
before the exile. The prophecy closes with a grand and stirring picture. All nations
are gathered together against Jerusalem, and seem already sure of their prey.
Half of their cruel work has been accomplished, when Jehovah himself appears on
behalf of his people. He goes forth to war against the adversaries of his people.
He establishes his kingdom over all the earth. All nations that are still left
shall come up to Jerusalem, as the great centre of religious worship, and the
city; from that day forward shall be a holy city. Such is, briefly, an outline
of the second portion of that book which is commonly known as the Prophecy of
Zechariah. Integrity . -Mede was the first to call this in question. The probability
that the later chapters, from the ninth to the fourteenth, were by some other
prophet seems first to have been suggested to him by the citation in St. Matthew.
He rests his opinion partly on the authority of St. Matthew and partly-on the
contents of the later chapters, which he considers require a date earlier than
the exile. Archbishop Newcombe went further. He insisted on the great dissimilarity
of style as well as subject between the earlier and later chapters and he was
the first who advocated the theory that the last six chapters of Zechariah are
the work of two distinct prophets.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
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 1:1,7).
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; 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,
7 ; 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; 29:10). The returned captives were becoming disheartened and
depressed because Yahweh 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 , 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, 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 1-8 and 9-14,
both of which begin with the present and look forward into the distant future.
(1) Zechariah 1-8, 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 1:7-6:15, 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
(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), 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; Yahweh
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); but cleansed, continued and made typical
of the Messiah-Branch to come.
(v) The candelabrum and the two olive trees (Zechariah 4), 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 Yahweh'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
(c) Zechariah 7; 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).
There are four sections to the prophet's answer divided by the slightly varying
formula, "The word of Yahweh came unto me" (Zechariah 7:4,8; 8:1,18) and teaching:
(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) Yahweh 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 Yahweh of hosts in Jerusalem (Zechariah 8:18-23).
(2) Zechariah 9-14, consisting of two oracles, without dates;
|(a) Zechariah 9-11, 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 Yahweh
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); Israel shall be punished for rejecting
the shepherding care of Yahweh (Zechariah 11);
(b) Zechariah 12-14, an oracle describing the victories of the new theocracy,
and the coming day of Yahweh. This section is strongly eschatological, presenting
three distinct apocalyptic pictures: thus how Jerusalem shall be besieged by her
enemies, but saved by Yahweh (Zechariah 12); how a remnant of Israel purified
and refined shall be saved (Zechariah 13); 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 Yahweh.
4. The Critical Question Involved
There are two opposing schools of criticism in regard to the origin of Zechariah
9-14; one holds what is known as the pre-exilic hypothesis, according to which
chapters 9-14 were written before the downfall of Jerusalem; more specifically,
that Zechariah 9-11 and 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 12-14, except 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 9-14, 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 9-14 are in dispute. No one doubts
the genuineness of Zechariah 1-8.
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 12-14. 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; 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; 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; 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 9-14
are those of pre-exilic times, Assyria and Egypt (10:10,11), Syria, Phoenicia
and Philistia (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 (49:23-27). After the exile, the Philistines resisted Israel's
return (Nehemiah 4:7,8). 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 1-8 (1:12; 2:6-12;
6:10; 7:5; 8:7, 8). The exile is treated as a fact. It is almost equally true
of Zechariah 9-14 (compare 9:8,11; 10:6,8-10). Moreover, it may with justice be
claimed that the alleged authors of chapters 9-14 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
(9:9, 10; 14:9). The "house of David" mentioned in 12:7-12; 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
9-14 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 (9:13), and even she is not yet
raised up or even threatening. On the other hand, in Zechariah 12-14, it is not
the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar, but "all nations," who are described as coming
up against Jerusalem (12:2, 3 ; 14:2). Moreover, victory and not defeat is promised
(9:8, 14, 16; 12:4, 7, 8). The preexilic prophets Amos, Hosea and Jeremiah held
out no such hopes. These oracles, however, promise even temporal prosperity and
abundance (9:17; 10:1, 8, 12; 12:8; 14:2, 14); and they exhort the people to rejoice
rather than to fear (9:9; 10:7); while in 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 Zechariah 9-14, 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
9-14, the chief and all-important passage, and the one upon which more emphasis
is placed than upon all others together, is 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; 12:2; 14:2, all nations; and 10:10, 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
(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 Yahweh shall be King over all the
earth: in that day shall Yahweh 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 Yahweh to His people (2:10-13; 8:3, 13), and the
author of chapters 9-14 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 b, 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, 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 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
on, 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 9-14 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 9-14, and consequently
to the unity of the book, the following are the chief:
|(1) There are no "visions" in these oracles as in Zechariah
1-6. But there are none either in Zechariah 7; 8, and yet these latter are not
denied to Zechariah. As a matter of fact, however, visions do actually occur in
chapters 9-14, only of a historico-parabolic (11:4-17) and eschatological character
(9:13-17; chapters 12; 14).
(2) There are "no dates," as in Zechariah 1:1,7; 7:1. But dates are seldom attached
to "oracles" (Isaiah 13:1; 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 9-14. But "oracles" need no
interpreting angel. On the other hand, "the Angel of Yahweh" is mentioned in both
parts (3:1; 12:8), a fact which is far more noteworthy.
(5) Proper names are wanting in Zechariah 9-14, 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
5:3,1; while in 10:2 seeking teraphim and in 13:2 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 (3:9; 5:9-11; 13:1, 2).
(7) The Messianic pictures are different, e.g. in Zechariah 1-8 the Messiah is
spoken of as Branch-Priest (3:8, 9 ; 6:12, 13); whereas in chapters 9-14, as King,
(9:9,10). But in 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 Yahweh. This remarkable picture recurs in all the different
sections of the book (6:12, 13, 15; 8:20-23; 12:6; 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 1-3 from Hosea 4-14, "in both parts there
are the same religious principles and the same urgent and jealous temper"; the
same is equally true of Zechariah 1-8 and Zechariah 9-14. 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 (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; 8:16);
and in Zechariah 9-14, in the consecration of the remnant of the Philistines (9:7),
in the blessings to Ephraim (10:12), in the baptism of grace upon Jerusalem (12:10),
in the fountain for sin (13:1), in the worship of Yahweh (13:9), in the living
waters going forth from Jerusalem (14:8), and in the dedication of everything
as holy unto the Lord (14:20, 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,
|(i) the return of the whole nation is a prevailing idea
of happiness in both parts (Zechariah 2:6, 10; 8:7, 8; 9:12; 10:6, 7).
(ii) The expectation that Jerusalem shall be inhabited (Zechariah 1:16, 17; 2:4;
8:3, 8; 12:6; 14:10, 11),
(iii) and that the temple shall be built and become the center of the nation's
religious life (Zechariah 1:16, 17; 3:7; 6:15; 7:2, 3; 9:8; 14:20, 21).
(iv) Messianic hope is peculiarly strong in both (Zechariah 3:8, 9; 6:12, 13;
9:9, 10; 11:12, 13; 12:10; 13:1, 7-9).
(v) Peace and prosperity are expected (Zechariah 1:17; 3:10; 6:13; 8:12, 19; 9:10,
12-17; 10:1, 7, 8, 10, 12; 12:8; 14:11, 16-19).
(vi) The idea of God's providence as extending to the whole earth (Zechariah 1:14-17;
2:9,12; 4:10; 6:5; 9:1, 8, 14; 10:3, 1, 9, 12; 12:2-4, 8; 13:7; 14:3, 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
(Zec 2:2, 4, 16; 8:19; 1:12; 8:13, 15; 12:2; 14:14; 10:3; 12:4, 6, 7; 14:21; 9:9,
13; 10:6; 11:14; 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 (1:11),
and are still coming up to besiege Jerusalem (12:2; 14:2), yet they shall be joined
to the Lord in that day (2:11) and worship Yahweh like the Jews (8:20-23; 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:
|(a) the habit of dwelling on the same thought (Zechariah
2:1, 4, 5, 11; 6:12, 13; 8:4, 5; 8:21, 22; 11:8; parallel 13:3; 14:5, 16, 18,
(b) the habit of expanding one fundamental thought into a series of clauses (Zechariah
6:13; 9:5, 7; 1:17; 3:8, 9; 12:4);
(c) the habit of referring to a thought already introduced: e.g. to the "Branch"
(Zechariah 3:8; 6:12); "eyes" (Zechariah 3:9; 4:10); measuring "line" (Zechariah
1:16; 2:5, 6); choosing Jerusalem (Zechariah 1:17; 2:12; 3:2); removing iniquity
(Zechariah 3:9; 5:3; 13:2); measurements (Zechariah 5:2; 14:10); colors of horses
(Zechariah 1:8; 6:2,6); the idea of Israel as a "flock" (Zechariah 9:16; 10:2;
11:4; 13:7); idols (Zechariah 10:2; 13:2); shepherds (Zechariah 11:3; 13:7); and
of "all nations" (Zechariah 11:10; 12:3; 14:2); 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, 4); with which compare Zechariah 6:13; 9:12;
(e) the resort in each part of the book to symbolic actions as a mode of instruction;
e.g. the coronation scene in 6:9-15, and the breaking of the two staves in 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; 9:8) never occurs
elsewhere in the Old Testament. The author's preference for and frequent use of
vocatives (Zechariah 2:7, 10; 3:2, 8; 4:7; 9:9, 13; 11:1, 2; 13:7); and especially
the frequent alternation of the scriptio plena and the scriprio defectiva orthography
in the Hebrew (compare Zechariah 1:2, 5 with 1:4, 6 and 8:14; 2:11 with 5:7; 1:11
with 7:7; 9:5 with 10:5,11; and 10:4 with 9:9).
Accordingly, we conclude,
|(1) that Zechariah 9-14 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 9-14 were written by four different writers;
|(1) Zechariah 9:1-10, soon after 333 BC;
(2) Zechariah 9:11-11:3, about 247-222 BC;
(3) Zechariah 11:4-17 and 13:7-9, between 217 and 204 BC; and
(4) Zechariah 12:1-13:6 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
(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 9-14, 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; idem, Les douze petits prophetes, 1908; Wm. Moeller,
article "Zechariah" in The Illustrated Bible Dictionary, edited by W.C. Piercy,
(2) Those Who Advocate a Preexilic Origin for Zechariah 9-14:
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 9-14:
B. Stade, "Deuterozacharja, eine krit. Studie," in ZATW, 1881-82; T. K. Cheyne,
"The Date of Zechariah 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 9-14," ZATW, 1893, 76-109; A. K. Kuiper, Zacharja 9-14; 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,
George L. Robinson
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