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  • ADAM CLARKE'S BIBLE COMMENTARY -
    ZECHARIAH 1

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    THE BOOK OF THE PROPHET ZECHARIAH

    Chronological Notes relative to this Book

    - Year from the Creation, according to Archbishop Usher, 3484.
    - Year of the Julian Period, 4194.
    - Year of the Jewish era of the world, 3241.
    - Year from the Flood, 1828.
    - Year from the vocation of Abram, 1401.
    - Year since the first celebration of the Olympic games in Elis, by the Idaei Dactyli, 934.
    - Year since the destruction of Troy, according to the general account, 664.
    - Year since the foundation of the monarchy of the Israelites by the Divine appointment of Saul to the regal dignity, 576.
    - Year from the foundation of Solomon's temple, 492.
    - Year from the division of Solomon's monarchy into the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, 456.
    - Year since the re-establishment of the Olympic games in Elis by Lycurgus, Iphitus, and Cleosthenes, 365.
    - Year since the conquest of Coroebus at Olympia, usually called the first Olympiad, 257.
    - First year of the sixty-fifth Olympiad. - Year from the building of Rome, according to the Varronian or generally received computation, 234.
    - Year from the building of Rome, according to Cato and the Fasti Consulares, 233.
    - Year from the building of Rome, according to Polybius the historian, 232.
    - Year from the building of Rome, according to Fabius Pictor, 228.
    - Year of the era of Nabonassar, 228.
    - Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Israel by Shalmaneser, king of Assyria, 202.
    - Year since the destruction of the kingdom of Judah by Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, 68.
    - Year since the destruction of the Chaldean empire by the Persians, 18.
    - Year before the birth of Christ, 516.
    - Year before the vulgar era of Christ's nativity, 520.
    - Cycle of the Sun, 22.
    - Cycle of the Moon, 14.
    - Second year of Darius I., king of Persia. - Twenty- eighth year of Amyntas, king of Macedon. - Seventh year of Demaratus, king of Lacedaemon, of the family of the Proclidae. - Eleventh year of Cleomenes, king of Lacedaemon, of the family of the Eurysthenidae. - Fifteenth year of Tarquinius Superbus, the last king of the Romans. - This was about twelve years before the commencement of the consular government. According to some chronologers this was the age of Confucius.

    CHAPTER I

    The prophet earnestly exhorts the people to repentance, that they may escape such punishments as had been inflicted on their fathers, 1-6. The vision of the horses, with the signification, 7-11. The angel of the Lord successfully intercedes in behalf of Jerusalem, 12-17. The vision of the four horns, and of the four carpentcrs, 18-21.

    NOTES ON CHAP. I

    Verse 1. "In the eighth month, in the second year ot Darius" - This was Darius Hystaspes; and from this date we find that Zechariah began to prophecy just two months after Haggai.

    "Son of Iddo" - There are a number of various readings on this name, wdy Iddo, and awd[ Iddo, both in MSS. and in editions; but they are only different ways of writing the same name.

    Verse 2. "The Lord hath been sore displeased with your fathers." - For their ingratitude idolatry, iniquity, and general rebellion.

    Verse 3. "Turn ye unto me" - This shows that they had power to return, if they would but use it.

    "And I will turn unto you" - I will show you mercy and grant you salvation, if you will use the grace I have already given you. Men are lost, because they turn not unto God; but no man is lost because he had not power to return. God gives this, and he will require it.

    Verse 5. "Your fathers, where are they?" - Israel has been destroyed and ruined in the bloody wars with the Assyrians; and Judah, in those with the Chaldeans.

    "The prophets, do they live for ever?" - They also, who spoke unto your fathers, are dead; but their predictions remain; and the events, which have taken place according to those predictions, prove that God sent them.

    Verse 6. "Did they not take hold of your fathers?" - Every thing happened according to the predictions, and they were obliged to acknowledge this; and yet they would not turn from their evil way.

    Verse 7. "Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month" - This revelation was given about three months after the former, and two months after they had recommenced the building of the temple.

    "Sebat" - Answers to a part of our February. See Haggai ii. 18.

    Verse 8. "I saw by night" - The time was emblematical of the affliction under which the Jews groaned.

    "A man" - An angel in the form of a man: supposed to have been the Lord Jesus; who seems to have appeared often in this way, as a prelude to his incarnation; see Josh. v. 13; Ezek. i. 26; Daniel vii. 13; x. 6. The same, probably, that appeared to Joshua with a drawn sword, as the captain of the Lord's host. Josh. v. 13-15.

    "A red horse" - An emblem of war and bloodshed.

    "Among the myrtle trees" - This tree was an emblem of peace; intimating that all war was shortly to end. But some think these trees are emblematical of the true followers of Christ.

    "And behind him were there red horses" - Probably pointing out the different orders of angels in the heavenly host, which are employed by Christ in the defense of his Church. The different colours may point out the gradations in power, authority, and excellence, of the angelic natures which are employed between Christ and men.

    Verse 9. "O my lord, what are these" - The angel here mentioned was distinct from those mentioned in the eighth verse; he who talked with the prophet, ver. 13.

    Verse 10. "The man that stood among the myrtle trees" - The angel of the Covenant, as above, ver. 11.

    "Whom the Lord hath sent" - Who are constituted guardians of the land.

    Verse 11. "All the earth sitteth still , and is at rest." - There is general peace through the Persian empire, and other states connected with Judea; but the Jews are still in affliction; their city is not yet restored, nor their temple built.

    Verse 12. "Then the angel of the Lord" - He who was among the myrtles-the Lord Jesus.

    "O Lord of hosts, how long" - Jesus Christ was not only the "Lamb slain from the foundation of the world," but was always the sole Mediator and intercessor between God and man.

    "These threescore and ten years?" - This cannot mean the duration of the captivity for that was nearly twenty years past. It must mean simply the time that had elapsed from the destruction of the temple to the time in which the angel spoke. As the temple was destroyed in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar, and this vision took place in the second year of Darius, the term of seventy years was completed, or nearly so, between these two periods.

    Verse 13. "The Lord answered the angel" - And the angel told the prophet that the answer was gracious and comfortable. This answer is given in the next verse.

    Verse 14. "I am jealous for Jerusalem" - I have for them a strong affection; and indignation against their enemies.

    Verse 15. "I was but a little displeased" - I was justly displeased with my people, and I gave their enemies a commission against them; but they carried this far beyond my design by oppression and cruelty; and now they shall suffer in their turn.

    Verse 16. "I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies" - Before, he came to them in judgments; and the principal mercy is, the house of the Lord shall be rebuilt, and the ordinances of' the Lord re-established.

    "And a line shall be stretched forth" - The circuit shall be determined, and the city built according to the line marked out.

    Verse 17. "By cities-shall yet be spread abroad" - The whole land of Judea shall be inhabited, and the ruined cities restored.

    Verse 18. "And behold four horns." - Denoting four powers by which the Jews had been oppressed; the Assyrians, Persians, Chaldeans, and Egyptians. Or these enemies may be termed four, in reference to the four cardinal points of the heavens, whence they came:-

    1. NORTH. The Assyrians and Babylonians.

    2. EAST. The Moabites and Ammonites.

    3. SOUTH. The Egyptians.

    4. WEST. The Philistines. See Martin.

    Verse 20. "Four carpenters." - Four other powers, who should defeat the powers intended by the horns. These are the same as the four chariots mentioned chap. vi. 1-3, 6, 7. The first was NABOPOLASSAR, father of Nebuchadnezzar, who overturned the empire of the Assyrians. The second was CYRUS, who destroyed the empire of the Chaldeans. The third was ALEXANDER the Great, who destroyed the empire of the Persians.

    And the fourth was PTOLEMY, who rendered himself master of Egypt.

    Some of these had already been cast down; the rest were to follow. Calmet gives this interpretation, and vindicates it at length.

    Verse 21. "These are come to fray them" - To break, pound, and reduce them to powder. Fray, from the French, frayer, to rub. yrj charashim signifies either carpenters or smiths; probably the latter are here intended, who came with hammers, files, and such like, to destroy these horns, which no doubt seemed to be of iron.

    From a sensible correspondent I have received the following note:- "The word we translate carpenters, yrj charashim, is a root which, according to Mr. Parkhurst, denotes silent thought or attention; and in kal and hiphil, to contrive, devise secretly, or in silence; hence applied as a noun to an artificer of any kind, and to any work which disposes to silent attention. Thus, to potters' ware, Lev. vi. 28; Job ii. 8; and in many other places. So also to ploughing, Deut. xxii. 10; Prov. xx. 4, which requires constant attention to make 'the right-lined furrow.' Let it be remembered that in ancient times such works were more esteemed than the useless ones we have learned to admire. So again, in Gen. xxiv. 21, and elsewhere, it implies to be silent, as in deep thought or great attention.

    "Now it is evident that the purport of this vision is the same with the gracious declartions which precede it, viz., to express the return of the protecting mercies of God to his people, delivering them from their enemies. I should therefore be inclined to render yrj charashim here, watchers or inspectors, in the sense which our translators have rendered the Chaldee ry[ ir, a watcher, in the fourth chapter of Daniel, ver. 13; understanding thereby 'spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth,' chap. vi. 6, and are described in the first vision as 'sent to walk to and fro through the earth.' This gives to the whole narrative a sublime and important sense, affording us some glimpse of the Divine government by the ministration of angels, such as Jacob was favoured with in his vision at Beth-el, and which our saviour himself informed Nathanael constituted part of the glory of his mediatorial kingdom." M. A. B.

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