Verse 23. "In that day, saith the Lord" - Some think, says this same learned writer, that ZerubbHebel is put here for his people and posterity: but it may well be said that the commotions foretold began in the rebellion of Babylon, which Darius besieged and took; and exercised great cruelties upon its inhabitants.
- Herod. lib. iii., sec. 220. Justin. i. 10. Prideaux places this event in the fifth year of Darius; others with more probability, in the eighth year. Compare Zech. ii. 9.
"ions will make thee as a signet" - I will exalt thee to high dignity, power, and trust, of which the seal was the instrument or sign in those days. Thou shalt be under my peculiar care, and shalt be to me very precious. See Jer. xxii. 24; Cant. viii. 6; and see the notes on these two places.
"For I have chosen thee" - He had an important and difficult work to do, and it was necessary that he should be assured of God's espeeial care and protection during the whole.
ON the three last verses of this prophecy a sensible and pious correspondent sends me the following illustration, which I cheerfully insert. Though in many respects different from that given above, yet I believe that the kingdom of Christ is particularly designed in this prophecy.
"I think there is an apparent difficulty in this passage, because the wars of the Persians and Babylonians were not so interesting to the rising commonwealth of the Jews as many subsequent events of less note in the world, but which were more directly levelled at their own national prosperity; and yet neither the one nor the other could be termed 'a shaking of the heavens and the earth, and an overthrow of the throne of kingdoms.' "I know not if the following view may be admitted as an explanation of this difficult passage. I take 'the shaking of the heavens and earth' here (as in ver. 6) to have a more distant and comprehensive meaning than can belong to ZerubbHebel's time, or to his immediate posterity; and that it extends not only to the overthrow of kingdoms then existing, but of the future great monarchies of the world; and not excepting even the civil and ecclesiastical establishments of the Jews themselves. For I take 'the heavens,' in the prophetic language, uniformly to denote the true Church, and never the superstitions and idols of the nations.
"What, then, are we to understand by the promise made to ZerubbHebel, 'I will make thee as a signet?' In the first place, the restitution of the religious and civil polity of the people of Israel, conformably to the promises afterwards given in the four first chapters of Zechariah. And, secondly, as the royal signet is the instrument by which kings give validity to laws, and thereby unity and consistence to their empire; so Jehovah, the God and King of Israel, condescends to promise he will employ ZerubbHebel as his instrument of gathering and uniting the people again as a distinguished nation; and that such should be the permanency of their political existence, that, whilst other nations and mighty empires should be overthrown, and their very name blotted out under heaven, the Jews should ever remain a distinct people, even in the wreck of their own government, and the loss of all which rendered their religion splendid and attractive.
"In confirmation of this interpretation, I would refer to the threatening denounced against Jeconiah, (called Coniah, Jeremiah xxii.,) the last reigning king of Judah, and the progenitor of ZerubbHebel. I apprehend I may be authorized to read Jeremiah xxii. 24 thus: 'As I live, saith the Lord, though Coniah, the son of Jehoiakim, king of Judah, be the signet upon my right hand, yet will I pluck thee thence, and I will give thee into the hand of them that seek thy life,' &c.
"If it be considered that the kings of Judah were in an especial and peculiar manner the delegates of Jehovah, governing in his name and by his authority, a peculiar propriety will appear in their being resembled to signets, or royal seals contained in rings. Compare Gen. xli. 42; Esth. iii. 10, 12; viii. 2, 8; Dan. vi. 7. And the promise to ZerubbHebel will be equivalent to those which clearly predict the preservation of the Jewish people by the Divine command. see Zech. ii.; and the faithfulness of God to his covenant concerning the Messiah, who should be born of the seed of Abraham, and in the family of David, of whose throne he was the rightful Proprietor.
"According to this view, by the promise, 'In that day;-I will make thee as a signet,' &c., must be understood, that the preservation of the Jews as a distinct people, when all the great empires of the heathen were overthrown, would manifest the honour now conferred on ZerubbHebel as the instrument of their restoration after the Babylonish-captivity. Thus the promise to Abraham, Gen. xii., 'I will make of thee a great nation-and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed,' evidently referred to a very distant future period and the honour connected with it could not be enjoyed by Abraham during his mortal life." M. A. B.
I think, however, that we have lived to see the spirit of this prophecy fulfilled. The earth has been shaken; another shaking, and time shall be swallowed up in eternity.