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This chapter treats of the conversion of the Gentiles, before spoken of in general, now particularly named; of the coming of Christ into the world, and the advantages of it to his church; of the preaching of the Gospel by the apostles, and of their protection, encouragement, and success. The Gentiles converted are first the Syrians that dwelt in Hadrach, Damascus, and Hamath, the Lord’s eye being upon them, ( Zechariah 9:1) next the Phoenicians, the inhabitants of Tyre and Zidon, who had a vain opinion of their wisdom, and trusted in their riches, ( Zechariah 9:2-4) and then the Philistines, the inhabitants of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod, guilty of pride, murder, idolatry, and other abominations, ( Zechariah 9:5-7) when the church and people of God should be safely protected, ( Zechariah 9:8) to whom, for their joy and comfort, is given forth a prophecy concerning the coming of the Messiah; who is described by his character as a King, just, having salvation, lowly, and riding on an ass; by the peaceableness of his kingdom; by the various offices he executes; the prophetic office, speaking peace to the Heathen; the kingly office, his dominion being very large; and his priestly office, in the effusion of his blood, by which the covenant is confirmed, his people delivered out of distress, and encouraged to flee to him as their stronghold, where they find plenty and protection, ( Zechariah 9:9-12) next the apostles are represented as military men, accoutered with the bow and the sword of the mighty, ( Zechariah 9:13) whose success is owing to the Lord’s appearance over them, and the efficacy of his grace and Spirit attending the word, ( Zechariah 9:14) who are protected and encouraged in it by the Lord, and honoured on account of it, ( Zechariah 9:15,16) and the chapter is concluded with an exclamation, wondering at the grace and glory of Christ, and expressing the satisfying provisions of his house, ( Zechariah 9:17).
Ver. 1 . The burden of the word of the Lord , etc.] A prophecy, as in ( Proverbs 31:1) which is sometimes of things sorrowful and distressing, as the destruction of people, as in ( Isaiah 31:1 15:1 17:1 19:1 21:1,11) and sometimes of things joyful, as in ( Zechariah 13:1) and here it contains good news to the church of Christ, ( Zechariah 9:9), etc.; and is called a “burden”, because the word of the Lord is often so to carnal men; (see Jeremiah 23:33-39) the words may be rendered, a “declaration”, or “a publication”, of “the word of the Lord” f165 ; it signifies a publishing of it or bringing it forth; and so the Arabic version renders it “a revelation of the word of the Lord”; a carrying of it about: which was made in the land of Hadrach ; this is either the name of a man; of some king, as Aben Ezra observes; and some Jewish writers say the King Messiah, who is dj “sharp” to the nations of the world, and Ær “tender” to the Israelites: or rather the name of a place, and may design Syria, to which Damascus belonged; (see Isaiah 7:8) or some place near it: says R.
Hillerus takes it to be the same with Coelesyria, or hollow Syria, a vale which lay between Libanus and Antilibanus, and goes by many names; the same that is called Hoba, ( Genesis 14:15) the plain of Aren, and the house of Eden, (Amos 1:5) and here Hadrach; and thinks it had its name from Hadar, a son of Ishmael, ( Genesis 25:15) and observes what is said, ( Genesis 25:18), that the “Ishmaelites dwelt from Havilah”, which is to the south of Palestine, “unto Shur”, a town situated over against Egypt, “as you go to Assyria”; that is, to the Agra of Ptolemy in Susiana.
The Targum renders it “in the land of the south.”
There was a city in Coelesyria, called Adra by Ptolemy f169 ; which, as Jerom says f170 , was distant from Bostra twenty five miles; since called the city of Bernard de Stampis; where were Christian churches in the fourth and fifth centuries, whose bishops were present at councils held in those times f171 ; and, according to this prophecy, here the word of the Lord was to be published; and it may have respect to the conversion of the inhabitants of it in future times: though some take it to be not the proper name of a place, but an appellative, and render it, “the land about”, or “the land about thee” f172 ; that is, about Judea; the nations round about it, particularly Syria, Phoenicia, and Palestine. And Damascus [shall be] the rest thereof ; either of the Lord himself; his glorious Shechinah shall rest there, as Kimchi interprets it; and so the Targum paraphrases it, “and Damascus shall be converted, that it may be of the house of his Shechinah;” (see Isaiah 11:10) or of the word of the Lord, which should be declared and published there, as it was by the Apostle Paul, who was converted near it, and preached in it, ( Acts 9:3,19,20) or of Hadrach, or the adjacent country: unless it is to be understood of the burden of the Lord resting on it, or of the taking of this city in the times of Alexander the great; which, with the destruction of the cities after mentioned, some make a type or symbol of the abolition of Paganism in the Roman empire; but the former sense seems best. When the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, [shall] be towards the Lord ; or, “when the eyes of men shall be to the Lord, and to all the tribes of Israel”; so Kimchi and Ben Melech; that is, as they interpret it, when the eyes of all men shall be to the Lord, and not to their idols; and also to all the tribes of Israel, to go along with them in their ways; as it is said above ( Zechariah 8:23), “we will go with you”: or they shall look to the Lord, even as the tribes of Israel themselves do; and which is true of sinners when converted, whether Jews or Gentiles; and particularly was true of that great man, the Apostle Paul, who was converted near Damascus, when the eyes of his understanding being enlightened, and he seeing the insufficiency of all other objects, looked to the Lord alone for pardon, righteousness, life, and salvation; even as all true Israelites do, who are after the Spirit, and not after the flesh. Though some understand these words of the eyes of the Lord being upon every man, as well as upon the tribes of Israel; upon wicked men to punish them, as upon his people to protect and defend them: and to this sense the Targum inclines, paraphrasing the words thus, “for before the Lord are manifest the works of the children of men, and he is well pleased with all the tribes of Israel.”
Ver. 2. And Hamath also shall border thereby , etc.] By the land of Hadrach, or by Damascus; and that it was near Damascus is clear from ( Isaiah 10:9 Jeremiah 49:23) it is called Hamath the great in ( Amos 6:2) and according to Jerom f173 , is the same with Antioch, which he says was so called by some; and the Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel on ( Numbers 13:21), renders Hamath by Antioch: and, if so, here was the Lord’s rest likewise; here the Gospel was preached, and many converted, and a church, consisting of Jews and Gentiles, was formed; and here the disciples were first called Christians, ( Acts 11:26). Tyrus and Zidon ; these were famous cities of Phoenicia; upon the borders of these our Lord himself was, ( Matthew 15:21) of the conversion of the inhabitants of these places the psalmist prophecies, ( Psalm 45:12) here likewise the Lord had his resting place; we read of the disciples here, ( Acts 21:3,4 27:3): though it be very wise ; particularly Tyre, which was famous for wisdom, ( Ezekiel 28:3,4) which the Lord confounded by the preaching of the Gospel, and by the foolishness of that saved them that believe. Kimchi refers this to the times of the Messiah; his note is, she shall not trust in her wisdom in the time of the Messiah: so Ben Melech.
Ver. 3. And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold , etc.] Tyre was built upon a rock, and was a strong fortress itself, from whence it had its name; and, besides its natural defence, it had a wall one hundred and fifty feet high, and its breadth was answerable to its height f174 ; but yet, as it could not defend itself against Alexander the great, who took it; so neither against the Gospel of Christ, which found its way into it, and was mighty to pull down strong holds in a spiritual sense: and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets ; the riches of these cities, especially Tyre, are often made mention of; they were famous for their wealth, being places of great trade and merchandise; (see Isaiah 23:2,8 Ezekiel 27:3 28:4,5) all which were to be holiness to the Lord, and for the sufficient feeding and durable clothing of them that dwell before him, ( Isaiah 23:18) his ministers.
Ver. 4 . Behold, the Lord will cast her out , etc.] Or “inherit her” f175 , or “them”, as the Septuagint render the words; when, being converted, she would become the Lord’s inheritance and possession, and her riches should be devoted to his service: and he will smite her power in the sea ; for Tyre was situated in the sea, at the entry of it, and was strong in it, ( Ezekiel 26:17 27:3). Kimchi interprets this of her humiliation and subjection in the days of the Messiah; and in a spiritual sense it has been verified in such who have been spoiled of their carnal strength, in which they trusted, and have laid down their weapons, and have submitted to the sceptre of Christ: and she shall be devoured with fire ; with the spirit of judgment, and of burning, which purges and removes the filth of sin; and with the fire of the word, which burns up and consumes its lusts; and with the flames of divine love, which make souls as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. This was literally accomplished in the burning of Tyre by Alexander f176 , which injected fear and dread in cities near it, as follow:
Ver. 5 . Ashkelon shall see [it], and fear , etc.] That is, as Kimchi explains it, when Ashkelon shall see that Tyre humbles herself and submits, she shall humble herself and submit also: and the sense may be, that the inhabitants of Ashkelon, seeing that Tyre, with all her wisdom and strong reasoning, could not stand before the power of the Gospel, but submitted and embraced the Christian religion, were induced, through the efficacy of divine grace, to do the same; and certain it is that this place became Christian; we read of a bishop of Ashkelon, in the synod of Nice, and of other bishops of this place in later councils: it belonged to Palestine, and was one of the five lordships of the Philistines, ( Joshua 13:3). Gaza also [shall see it], and be very sorrowful ; this was a city of Palestine, near to Ashkelon; they are mentioned together, ( Judges 1:18) the Gentile inhabitants of this place, when they saw the progress the Gospel made in Tyre, Zidon, and Ashkelon, were grieved at it, but many among them submitted to it: very likely Philip the evangelist first preached the Gospel here; (see Acts 8:26) there was a Christian bishop of this place in the Nicene council, and others in after ones f178 . And Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed ; this was also one of the five lordships of the Philistines, ( Joshua 13:3 1 Samuel 6:16,17) which, being near to Tyre, had its dependence on that, expecting it could never be taken; but when they saw that it was taken by Alexander, it was ashamed of its vain expectation, hope, and confidence: and so the inhabitants of this place, when the Gospel came to it, were “ashamed of the house of [their] confidence”, as the Targum paraphrases the words; the confidence they had in their idols, and in the works of their own hands; and were also “ashamed because of their iniquities”, as the Arabic version renders them; being convinced of them, and humbled for them, and betaking themselves to Christ for salvation from them. It is probable, that Philip preached the Gospel here, seeing it was not far from Azotus or Ashdod, next mentioned, where Philip is heard of after the baptism of the eunuch: and if Ekron is the same with Caesarea, that was called Strato’s tower, as say the Jews f179 ; and which also Jerom observes, some say are the same it is certain that Philip was there, ( Acts 8:40) there were several Christian bishops of this place in later times f181 . And the king shall perish from Gaza ; some understand this of Batis, who was governor of Gaza, when it was taken by Alexander; who was fastened to a chariot, and dragged about the city, as Curtius relates; but this man was not a king, but governor of the city under one: I rather think the idol Marnes, which signifies “the lord of man”, and was worshipped in this place, is here meant; which when it became Christian was destroyed, and a Christian church built in the room of it, as is reported by Jerom f183 . And Ashkelon shall not be inhabited ; by Heathens, but by Christians.
Ver. 6. And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod , etc.] Some take “mamzer”, the word for “bastard”, to be the name of a people that should dwell in Ashdod; this is the same place with Azotus, ( Acts 8:40) and was also one of the five lordships of the Philistines, ( Joshua 13:3 Samuel 6:17) some, by the “bastard” here, understand Alexander the great, who gave out that he was not the son of Philip, but of Jupiter Ammon: others think Jonathan the Maccabee is intended, who took this place and burnt it with fire, and the temple of Dagon in it, “83 The horsemen also, being scattered in the field, fled to Azotus, and went into Bethdagon, their idol’s temple, for safety. 84 But Jonathan set fire on Azotus, and the cities round about it, and took their spoils; and the temple of Dagon, with them that were fled into it, he burned with fire.” (1 Maccabees 10) and though he was not a bastard, yet was a stranger to the Philistines; in which sense the Jewish commentators, Jarchi and Kimchi, interpret the word, and understand it of the Israelites who should dwell in this place; even those, as Aben Ezra says, who were abject, mean, and despised among the Israelites; which would be a great mortification to the proud Philistines, as is suggested in the next clause: and to this sense the Targum paraphrases the words, “and the house of Israel shall dwell in Ashdod, who shall be in it as strangers:” but it is best to understand this of Israelites indeed, of true Christians, who are accounted spurious, not the children of God, but aliens and strangers, the filth of the world, and the offscouring of all things; who should dwell here when the Gospel was preached in it, as doubtless it was by Philip, ( Acts 8:40) and so the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions render the words, “and strangers shall dwell in Ashdod”; men of another religion, and despised and not owned even by their relations, as if they were bastards. And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines ; by Alexander, and by the Jews in the times of the Maccabees, bringing them into subjection, which their haughty spirits could not well bear; or through the abolition of their old Heathenish religion, in which they prided themselves. It may be observed, that all along the conversion of these various people to Christianity is expressed in terms which seem to signify the destruction of them; and that partly because, in the literal sense, reference is had to the conquest of them by Alexander, by which means the Greek language obtained in Syria and Phoenicia, into which, a little after, the Bible was translated, which paved the way for the bringing of these people to the knowledge of Christ, through the preaching of the Gospel; and partly because Paganism was abolished in these places when Christianity prevailed.
Ver. 7. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth , etc.] The Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read “their blood”; not the blood of the bastard, but of the Philistines. The Targum is, “I will destroy them that eat blood”; the meaning may be, that they shall no more thirst after blood, nor drink it; nor breathe out threatenings and slaughter against the saints, or persecute the people of God: or that they should no more offer the blood of their sacrifices upon the altars to their deities, or eat things sacrificed to them: and his abominations from between his teeth ; their idols and idolatries they were tenacious of, as a man is of his food, or of any thing that is grateful to him; it may design things sacrificed to idols, eaten by them: but he that remaineth, even he [shall be] for our God : the Targum paraphrases it, “and the proselytes that remain among them, they also shall be added to the people of our God:” Jarchi interprets it of the synagogues and schools in the captivity of Edom or Rome; but Aben Ezra’s note is much better, that there shall be none remaining of the Philistines, but only such who serve the blessed God openly: but the true sense is, that here should be a remnant, according to the election of grace, who should evidently appear to be the Lord’s people, by their conversion and effectual calling: and he shall be as a governor in Judah ; the Targum is, “they shall be as the princes of the house of Judah;” that is, as the heads of the families in that tribe; (see Micah 5:2) compared with ( Matthew 2:6) all true Christians are as princes, yea, they are kings and priests unto God; and some of them are Plak , as a guide, teacher; and instructor of others; who go before them, and instruct them in the doctrines of the Gospel, as pastors and ministers of the word: and Ekron as a Jebusite ; that is, the inhabitant of Ekron, that shall be converted to Christ, shall be as an inhabitant of Jerusalem, which was called Jebus, ( 1 Chronicles 11:4) shall have a dwelling in the church, the city of God, and enjoy all the privileges and immunities of it. Kimchi says this refers to the times of the Messiah, when, he supposes, the Ekronites will be tributary to the Israelites, as the Jebusites were in the days of David.
The Targum is, “and Ekron shall be filled with the house of Israel, as Jerusalem.”
The Syriac version is, “and Ekron shall be as Hebron”.
Ver. 8 . And I will encamp about my house, because of the army , etc.] Of profane and wicked men, persecutors and heretics, who rose up in great numbers in the first ages of Christianity against the church, the house of God, where he dwells, which consisted of persons called from among the Gentiles as before; in order to protect and defend them from that great company which opposed them, the Lord encamped about them, partly by his angels, ( Psalm 34:7) and partly by his ministers, set for the defence of the Gospel; but chiefly by his own power and presence, who is as a fire round about them. The Targum is, “and I will cause my glorious Shechinah to dwell in the house of my sanctuary, and the strength of the arm of my power shall be as a wall of fire round about it.” Because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth ; either that his people might pass and repass with safety, who attended the worship and service of his house; or because of Satan and wicked men, who go to and fro, seeking to do all the mischief they can to the saints of the most High. This may, in a literal sense, respect the care of God over the Jewish nation, his church and people, in the times of Alexander, who passed to and fro without distressing them; or in the times of the Lagidae and Seleucidae, the kings of Egypt and Syria, during whose commotions, and their passing to and fro against each other, and against them, were still continued a kingdom. And no oppressor shall pass through them any more ; or “exactor” f185 ; satisfaction for the sins of God’s people being exacted, required, and demanded of Christ their surety, it has been given; wherefore no exactor shall pass through them, or over them, to require it of them; not the law, for they are freed by Christ from the exaction, curse, and condemnation of it; not justice, for that is fully satisfied, and infinitely well pleased with the righteousness of Christ; nor Satan, the accuser of the brethren, requiring punishment to be inflicted, which, though he may do it, will be of no avail against them; nor the Jewish tutors and governors, who exacted of the people obedience, not only to the law of Moses, but to the traditions of the elders; since Christ has redeemed his from this vain conversation, Christians are entirely free from that yoke of bondage. This shows that this prophecy is not to be literally understood, since it is certain, that, after the delivery, of it, there were oppressors or exactors among the Jews in a literal sense: Antiochus and others oppressed them before the birth of Christ; they paid tribute to the Romans in his time; he was born at the time of a Roman tax; and, after his death, Titus Vespasian destroyed their nation, and city and temple: or, if it is, “any more” must be understood of a long time, as it were, before they were utterly oppressed. For now I have seen with mine eyes ; these are either the words of God the Father, looking with pleasure upon his church and people, about whom he encamps; and upon the satisfaction his Son has given to the divine justice for their sins, whereby they are free from all exactions and oppressions: or of the Prophet Zechariah, as Aben Ezra thinks, who saw with his eyes, in the visions of the night, all that is contained in this prophecy: and now, inasmuch as all this predicted was to be fulfilled in, or near, or about the times of Christ, therefore next follows a glorious prophecy of his coming.
Ver. 9 . Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem , etc.] By whom are meant, not the inhabitants of Jerusalem in common; nor the children in it, that said Hosannas to the son of David; but the church of God, and true believers in Christ, who are called upon to “rejoice” and “shout”: not merely in an external way, by showing marks of outward joy, but in a spiritual manner, for which there was good reason, as follows: behold, thy King cometh unto thee ; Aben Ezra says that interpreters are divided about the sense of this prophecy; some say it is Messiah the son of David; and others, Messiah the son of Joseph. R. Moses, the priest, he observes, thinks that Nehemiah the Tirshathite is meant; and he himself is of opinion that Judas Maccabeus is intended; but Jarchi affirms that it is impossible to interpret it of any other than the King Messiah; and this is the sense of many of their writers, both ancient and modern. It is applied to him in the Talmud; they say f186 , he that sees an ass in his dream, let him look for salvation, as it is said, behold, thy king cometh unto thee, “riding on an ass”. R. Alexander relates that R. Joshua ben Levi opposed these two phrases to each other, “in its time”, and “I will hasten it”, ( Isaiah 60:22) and gave this as the sense to reconcile them: if they (the Israelites) are worthy, i.e. of the coming of the Messiah, “I will hasten it”; if they are not worthy, it shall be “in its time”; and that he also put these Scriptures together, and compared them to that Scripture, “behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven”, ( Daniel 7:13) and also what is written, “poor, and riding on an ass”; if they are worthy, he will come with the clouds of heaven; if they are not worthy, he will come poor and riding on an ass f187 . In an ancient book of theirs, at least so reckoned, it is said the King Messiah shall prevail over them all (the nations of the world, and the Israelites); as it is said, “poor, and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass”: and in several other places of that work, and other treatises in it f189 , the text is applied to the Messiah; as it likewise is in their ancient Midrashes or expositions. In one it is observed, “the Rabbins say an ox; this is the anointed for war, as it is said, “his glory is like the firstling of his bullock”, ( Deuteronomy 33:17) an ass; this is the King Messiah, as it is said, “poor, and riding on an ass”;” and again f191 , on these words, “binding his foal to the vine, and his ass’s colt unto the choice vine”, ( Genesis 49:11), this remark is made; this shall be when that shall come to pass which is written of him, “poor, and riding on an ass”. And in another of their expositions, the two Redeemers, Moses and the Messiah, are compared together; and, among the several things in which they agree, this is one; as it is said of the former redeemer, “and Moses took his wife and his sons, and set them on an ass”, ( Exodus 4:20) so it is said of the latter Redeemer (the Messiah), “poor, and riding on an ass”. And thus it is interpreted by many of their more modern writers f193 . This is to be understood of Christ’s coming, not merely to Jerusalem, when he rode on an ass, after mentioned; but of his coming in the flesh, when he came to Zion, and for her good; and which was wonderful, and therefore a “behold” is prefixed to it; and is matter of great joy, which she is called to show, because of the birth of him who is her Saviour; and because of the good things that come by him; and because of his appearing as a King, and her King; for, as he was prophesied of as such, as such he came, though his kingdom was not of this world; and as Zion’s King, being placed there by his Father, and to which he has a right by virtue of redemption, and is owned as such by his people in the effectual calling, and to whom all the following characters belong. He [is] just : not only essentially righteous as God, but just and upright in the whole course of, his life as man; and faithful in the administration of his office as Mediator; and the author and bringer in of righteousness to his people: and having salvation ; the salvation of his church and people; which he not only had at heart, but had it to execute, being appointed to that service by his Father, and having agreed unto it as the surety of his people, and was the business he was coming into the world to do, here prophesied of; yea, he is called salvation itself, as in a parallel text, ( Isaiah 62:11) the purpose of it was purposed in him; God resolved to save his people by him, and by him only; he never intended to save any but in and through him; and the thing was not only consulted with him, but the scheme of it was drawn in him; God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself. The covenant of grace, in which salvation is a principal article, was made with him; and he, as the surety of that covenant, undertook it; and in the fulness of time being sent, came to effect it; for which he was abundantly qualified, being God and man in one person, and so had something to offer as a sacrifice for satisfaction to law and justice, in order to obtain it; and could put a sufficient virtue therein to answer the end, being the mighty God; and having as Mediator a commission from his divine Father, he is become, by his obedience, sufferings, and death, the author of eternal salvation to his people; and in him salvation is, and in no other; and in vain it is to expect it from any other, or in any other way, than by him, ( Acts 4:12 Jeremiah 3:23). Some render the word “saved” f194 ; as he was by his divine Father, when he was raised from the dead, and not suffered to see corruption; (see Hebrews 5:7) others, “saving himself” f195 ; when he raised himself from the dead, and thereby declared himself to be the Son of God; and when he brought salvation to his body, the church, which is himself, ( Isaiah 63:5) lowly ; meek, and humble, as he appeared to be in the assumption of human nature; in his carriage to sinners, conversation with them, and reception of them; in his ministrations to his disciples; and in not seeking his own, but his Father’s glory. Or “poor” f196 ; as Jesus the Messiah was; born of poor parents, had not where to lay his head, and was ministered unto by others; (see 2 Corinthians 8:9) and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass ; which was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth, ( Matthew 21:4,5) not that he rode upon them both, but on the foal only; for so it should be rendered, “upon an ass, that is, upon a colt, the foal of an ass” f197 . The Jews have a fable, that the ass Abraham saddled, when he went to sacrifice his son Isaac, was the foal of the ass that was created on the evening of the sabbath, that is, at the creation; and that the same Moses set his wife and sons upon, when he came out of Midian; and the same ass, they say, Messiah the son of David was to ride upon at his coming f198 ; but one of such a prodigious age surely could not be called a colt, or a foal; however, this fable shows the conviction of their minds that this is a prophecy of the Messiah, and that they expected the Messiah to ride upon an ass, according to it, as our Messiah Jesus did. And the Greeks have another fable, which perhaps took its rise from this prophecy, that when Antiochus entered the temple at Jerusalem, he found in it an image of a man in wood, with a long beard, riding on an ass f199 . And a like falsehood is told by Tacitus f200 , that the Jews consecrated the effigies of an ass in the inmost part of the temple; because a flock of wild asses, as he pretends, directed them to fountains of water, when in the wilderness, and ready to die with thirst; and yet he himself afterwards says, the Jews have no images, neither in their cities, nor in their temple: and from hence it may be arose the calumny cast upon the primitive Christians, who were sometimes confounded with the Jews, that they worshipped an ass’s head; and which is refuted by Tertullian f201 .
Ver. 10. And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim , etc.] That is, the military one; signifying that wars shall cease, ( Psalm 46:9): and the horse from Jerusalem ; the warlike one; (see Micah 5:10).
Ephraim designs the ten tribes, and Jerusalem stands for the two tribes of Judah and Benjamin; and the sense is, that these shall be one in the days of the Messiah, as Kimchi observes; and that all instruments of war shall be removed from them, and there shall be an entire peace between them; (see Isaiah 11:13 Ezekiel 37:16,19): and the battle bow shall be cut off ; another instrument of war. The Targum paraphrases it, “I will break the strength of those that make war, the armies of the people;” all this does not design so much the outward peace that should be in the world at the birth of Christ, as the spiritual peace of his kingdom; and that, as it is not of this world, so neither is it spread, supported, and defended by carnal weapons; and also the peaceableness and safety of his subjects, and the destruction of their enemies: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen ; not only the church of Christ, gathered out of the Jews, should enjoy great spiritual peace, prosperity, and safety; but the Gentiles also should share in it, to whom Christ went, and preached peace; not in his own person, being the minister of the circumcision: but by his apostles, who had the ministration of reconciliation committed to them; and being sent forth by Christ, went everywhere preaching peace by him, who is Lord of all, unto all nations; (see Ephesians 2:17): and his dominion [shall be] from sea [even] to sea, and from the river [even] to the ends of the earth ; according to Aben Ezra, from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the river Euphrates to the ends of the earth: or, as Kimchi cites him, from the south sea, called the sea of Edom, to the north sea, which is the sea of the ocean; from the river that goes out from Eden, which is at the beginning of the east, unto the ends of the earth, which is the end of the west: or, as the Targum paraphrases it, “from the sea to the west, and from Euphrates to the ends of the earth.”
The phrases are expressive of the extensiveness of Christ’s dominion, through the preaching of the Gospel, both in Judea and in the Gentile world, before the destruction of Jerusalem; and especially in the latter day; (see Psalm 72:8). This and the preceding clause are allowed to belong to the Messiah, by a modern Jewish writer f202 .
Ver. 11 . As for thee also , etc.] These words are not spoken to Christ, for ta , “thee”, is of the feminine gender; but the congregation of Israel, as Kimchi observes; or the church of God: nor are they the words of Christ to her; he is the person before spoken of; but of God the Father, who, having given out prophecies concerning the coming of Christ, and the peaceableness and extensiveness of his kingdom, declares to the church the benefits that she and those that belonged to her should receive by the incarnation, sufferings, and death of Christ: by the blood of thy covenant ; not of the covenant of works, nor of circumcision, nor of that that was made at Sinai, as the Jewish writers interpret it; all which were a yoke of bondage; but of the covenant of grace, namely, the blood of Jesus, which is a considerable article in that covenant; that by which it is ratified and confirmed, and through which all the blessings of it come, as redemption, peace, pardon, justification, and admission into heaven: and this covenant is called the church’s covenant, because it is made with her in Christ, her covenant Head, in whom she was considered; and it was made on her account, and she has an interest in it, and in all things contained therein. God is her covenant God and Father; Christ her surety, Mediator, Redeemer, and Saviour, and the covenant itself unto her; and all things in it, the blessings of grace and promises of good things, are hers: and though the covenant at Sinai is not the covenant here intended, that being a covenant which gendered to bondage, and under which men were held as convicted and condemned malefactors; and so cannot be that, the blood of which is the cause of a release from prison, and of bringing into a state of liberty; yet the allusion is unto it, which was a typical covenant; and the blood of the sacrifices then sprinkled on the people is called “the blood of the covenant”, ( Exodus 24:8). It was not unusual with the Heathens, at making covenants, to use blood, even human blood: it was a custom with them to draw it from each other, and drink it, at least lick and taste of it, as particularly with the Medes and Lydians f203 ; and was reckoned by them the most sacred bond of covenants; and such covenants with the Carmeni and Scythians were accounted the chief covenants of friendship, and their mutual blood they used the greatest bond of concord f204 ; and the surest pledge of keeping faith, and that it would abide f205 : but the blood of Christ shed is a far greater proof, as well as cement, of love, concord, and friendship; and a much firmer bond of the covenant of grace; and a surer pledge of the continuance of it, and of its being faithfully performed; and which, having the nature of a will or testament, becomes of force through the death of him the testator; (see Daniel 9:27 Hebrews 9:14-16 13:20): I have sent forth thy prisoners : that is, the church’s prisoners; not prisoners to her, or in her; for the church of Christ is no prison; nor are those that have a name and a place in her prisoners; they walk at large, and walk at liberty; are fellow citizens with the saints; are Christ’s freemen, and are possessed of many privileges and immunities: but these design such persons as are in a secret relation to her, and yet, being in a state of nature, are prisoners; and so are such as are not members of any visible church; nor as yet converted persons and believers in Christ, who have an open relation to the invisible church; but they are such who secretly belong to the general assembly and church of the firstborn, written in heaven, whose names are in the Lamb’s book of life; or are chosen in Christ, and also redeemed by his blood: but, being as yet in a state of unregeneracy, are prisoners to sin; are under the power, dominion, and guilt of it; and, being transgressors of the law, are arraigned by it as guilty persons; are convicted and condemned, and shut up in it, and held under it; and are also the captives of Satan, being led as such by him, at his will; and thus they are prisoners, though there is a secret connection between the church and them: and sooner or later, by virtue of the blood of that covenant, which she and they have an interest in, they are brought out of the pit wherein [is] no water ; which is expressive of the state and condition men are in by sin, and while in unregeneracy; they are in mire and clay, in a most filthy and famishing condition, in a very wretched and uncomfortable one; as in a dark and lonesome dungeon, and where no refreshment can be had; where there are no true peace, joy, and comfort.
The allusion is to the custom of the eastern countries, and still continues, who, in the nighttime, put their slaves into a well or pit, and there shut them up till the morning, when they are let out for business: now, from this state of captivity and bondage to sin, Satan, and the law, and from all the miseries of such a state, are the Lord’s people, and who belong to Zion, the general assembly and church of the first born, delivered by virtue of the blood of Christ, shed for the redemption of them; in consequence of which it is said to these prisoners of sin, Satan, and the law, go forth; these are made sensible of their wretched condition, and are called and drawn out of it, and delivered from it, and brought into a state of liberty. Ben Melech interprets this pit of the captivity of the Jews.
Ver. 12. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope , etc.] “That hope for redemption”, as the Targum paraphrases it; not for redemption from the Babylonish captivity, at the end of seventy years, which was now over; but for redemption and salvation by Christ; for not the people of the Jews, who stayed in Babylon, can be meant; for, as they were at liberty to go from thence by the edict of Cyrus, they can not be said to be prisoners, much less prisoners hoping for deliverance, when they had, or might have it; but rather the Jews, who were come out of Babylon, as out of a pit, wherein was no water; out of an uncomfortable state and condition, and yet in their own land were encompassed with many straits and difficulties, through the opposition they met with from many, who discouraged and hindered them in their work; but were hoping they should surmount all their difficulties, and get out of their troubles: though it seems better to understand it of such, who, about the time of the Messiah’s coming, were looking for the consolation and redemption of Israel, and hoping and waiting for it; as good old Simeon, and others, who were prisoners under the former dispensation; but expecting deliverance and salvation by the Messiah. It may be applied to all sensible sinners, in every age and period of time; all men are concluded in sin, shut up under the law, and led captive by Satan; but some are not sensible of their imprisoned state, nor desirous of being out of it, nor have any hope concerning it; others groan under their bondage, long for deliverance, and are hoping for it: they hope that Christ will receive them, and save them; that he will pardon their sins; that the Spirit of God has begun a good work in them, and will perform it; and that they shall enjoy eternal glory and happiness; for all which there is good ground to hope: as that Christ will receive sinners sensible of their lost perishing condition into his arms of mercy; since he is the good Samaritan, the merciful High Priest, the compassionate Saviour; who, in his love and pity, has redeemed the sons of men; and seeing he died for sinners, even the chief of them; and therefore it need not be doubted that he will receive them; and, besides, he has made kind invitations to them to come to him, and has promised he will in no wise reject them; and has actually received sinners, and most kindly and tenderly embraced them: as also that they shall be saved by him; since complete salvation is wrought out by him, and that for such as are lost, and even the most abandoned of sinners; and which is freely to be had, not according to the works of men, or as they shall deserve; but purely through the free grace of God, and his abundant mercy in Christ: as well as that their sins shall be pardoned of God for his sake, seeing there is forgiveness with God; he has promised, proclaimed, and published it; the blood of Christ has been shed for it; and he is exalted as a Saviour to give it, and has ordered it to be preached in his name; and some of the greatest of sinners have had their sins forgiven them: likewise such have good ground to hope that the work of God is begun in them; though it may be at present but a day of small things with them; there being some light let into them, as to their state, and the way of salvation by Christ; some fear of God, and love to him, to Christ, his people, truths, ordinances, ways, and worship; sin is become odious, and Christ precious: and good reason they have to hope, and even to be confident, that this good work will be performed in them, though at times they have many fears about it; since it is in such good hands, and the glory of all the divine Persons is concerned in it; wherefore they may most safely go on to hope for eternal life, which God has promised, before the world began, is in Christ, and in his hands to give; and is the free gift of God through him, whose righteousness entitles to it, and whose grace makes meet for it; wherefore, having the one, they may truly hope for the other; for grace is a well of living water, springing up unto eternal life: such as these may well be called prisoners of hope; partakers of that grace, and as it were shut up in it, and under the influence and in the exercise of it; which is a gift of grace; is of the operation of the Spirit of God, through whose power it is exercised; is founded on the person, blood, and righteousness of Christ; is encouraged by the promises of the Gospel; and is increased through the discoveries of the love of God; and deals with things unseen and future: and those who have the least share of it, as these described are supposed to have, are here encouraged “to turn to the strong hold”; by which is meant, not Judea, nor Jerusalem, nor the temple in it, nor the church of God; but rather the blessed God, as Kimchi interprets it; and indeed a divine Person is intended, even the Messiah, who is a “strong hold” for refuge, and was typified by the cities of refuge, whither the manslayer fled, and was safe; to which the allusion may well be thought to be, since one of the names of the cities of refuge was Bezer, which signifies a fortress, or strong hold; and comes from the same root as the word here used: and such who are enabled and encouraged to flee to Christ for refuge, are safe from vindictive justice, which is fully satisfied by the blood, righteousness, and atoning sacrifice of Christ; and from the law, its curses, and condemnation; Christ being made a curse for them, and having had its sentence of condemnation executed on him; and from all their sins, and the sad effects of them; from the guilt of them, and obligation to punishment by them; from Satan, and all enemies, in whose power it is not to destroy them, being out of their reach; and from the wrath of God, everlasting destruction, and the second death: and such find Christ to be a strong habitation, or a dwellingplace; where they may and do dwell safely, pleasantly, and comfortably, enjoying plenty of all good things; their bread in this munition of rocks being given to them, and their water sure unto them; and to “turn” to it is to quit all other dependencies, and to believe in Christ, and trust all with him: even today do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee ; which is said, either to the church, or rather to her prisoners, to each of them, to encourage them to flee to Christ, and trust in him; seeing, by the present declaration of grace made, they may expect to enjoy all fulness of grace, plenty of blessings, temporal and spiritual; the promise of this life, and that which is to come; all spiritual blessings in Christ, grace here, and glory hereafter. So “double” signifies anything large, sufficient, plentiful, ( Isaiah 40:2 61:7) particularly the Spirit and his grace; and double comfort from him, instead of distress and trouble before experienced: according to the accents, the word for “double” is to be connected with the word “declare”, and be read “this day”, at this present time, however distressing it may be, or you in it be attended with uncomfortable and distressed circumstances, “I declare double” f206 ; double grace, as some supply it, an abundance of it; which “I will render unto thee”; to everyone of the prisoners of hope, who turn to the strong hold Christ, in whom they will find a fulness of all grace, and shall receive out of it grace for grace; double grace, a large measure of it; double to what was received under the former dispensation. Cocceius renders it “another declarer”, discoverer, or shewer forth, “do I render unto thee” f207 ; meaning the Spirit of God, the other Comforter from the Father: Christ was the first declarer, who declared his Father, his nature, perfections, purposes, mind, and will, ( John 1:18) the Holy Spirit is the second, or the other declarer, who was to bring all things to remembrance spoken by Christ, and to lead into all truth, and show things to come, and to take of the things of Christ, and show them to his people, ( John 14:16,26 16:13,14) and who was sent after Christ, was received up into heaven, as his second, his deputy, to officiate in his room and stead; as this word is used sometimes of the second priest, or sagan, or deputy of the high priest, ( Jeremiah 52:24).
Ver. 13. When I have bent Judah for me , etc.] By whom are meant the apostles, who were Jews, and whose ministrations were made use of as a bow with arrows, to strike the hearts of men, and bring them into subjection to Christ: they were a bow of the Lord’s bending and preparing, and which abode in strength, being made strong and effectual through the hands of the mighty God of Jacob: filled the bow with Ephraim : or rather, “filled Ephraim with the bow” f208 ; filled his hand with it; meaning, that some out of the ten tribes, as were the apostles, should be employed in drawing the bow of the Gospel, and shooting its arrows, the doctrines of it; which are comparable to them for swiftness, suddenness, and secrecy, and for their piercing and penetrating nature: and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece ; that is, persons of the land of Judea, as such the apostles were, and who belonged to Zion the church of Christ; who were raised up, qualified, and sent forth by him into the Gentile world, with weapons of warfare, not carnal, but spiritual; against the Gentiles in general, and the wise men of Greece, as at Athens, in particular, to confound some, and to conquer others, and bring them to the obedience of Christ. Some understand this of the Maccabees raised up against Antiochus, and the Greeks that possessed the kingdom of Syria: and made thee as the sword of a mighty man ; that is, made the Gospel in the hands of the church, and of her sons, as a sword in the hand of a mighty man, by whom execution is done with it; this is the sword of the Spirit, even the word of God; and is sharp and cutting, and is the power of God unto salvation; as it is girt upon the thigh, and is in the hands of Christ the most Mighty; and as it is accompanied with the Spirit of God, and of power.
Ver. 14 . And the Lord shall be seen over them , etc.] His apostles and ministers: or, “shall appear to them” f209 ; and be seen by them, as he was in the days of his flesh; they saw his person, his miracles, his sorrows, and sufferings; they saw him after his resurrection, and some have seen him since his ascension, with the eyes of their bodies, as well as with the eyes of their understandings; and so were fit to be witnesses of him: or, “the Lord shall appear over them”, or “upon them” f210 ; he was seen over, and above them, when he ascended up to heaven;and upon them, by the descent of his Spirit on them at the day of Pentecost, and in other miraculous gifts bestowed upon them: or, “the Lord shall appear unto”, or “for them” f211 ; by giving strength of body, and fortitude of mind; by protecting and preserving them, and by succeeding their labours: and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning : meaning the Gospel, and the swift progress of it, as well as the light it communicates, and the glory that goes along with it, and the efficacy of it: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet ; of the Gospel, so called, in allusion to the jubilee trumpet, which proclaimed liberty to servants, and restoration of inheritances: or to the trumpets made for the congregation of Israel to gather them together, and to express their joy at feasts: or to the trumpet used to proclaim war, and as an alarm for it; and this was blown by the Lord himself in person when here on earth, and by his ministers in his name: and shall go with whirlwinds of the south ; that is, the Lord in the ministration of the Gospel shall go forth with the efficacy and energy of the Spirit: the Spirit is compared to “wind”, because he works in a sovereign way where he listeth, and oftentimes imperceptibly, and ever powerfully; and to the “south” wind, because that brings warmth, serenity, and calmness, produces rain, and makes fruitful; and he it is which makes the Gospel efficacious; (see Song of Solomon 4:16 John 3:8).
Ver. 15. The Lord of hosts shall defend them , etc.] Against all their enemies; against Satan, and his temptations, and all the opposition made by him; against the world, and all the rage and reproach of men; this was remarkably verified in the apostles, who were preserved by the Lord amidst a thousand snares and dangers; and who was able to do it, being Jehovah, and the Lord of armies in heaven and in earth; he was as a shield unto them, as the word used signifies; and to which he is often compared in Scripture. The Targum renders it, “the Lord of hosts shall have mercy on them;” he encompassed them about with his favour as with a shield: and they shall devour ; or “eat” f213 ; spiritual food; Christ the bread of life; whose flesh is meat indeed, and who is lived upon by faith; the blessings and promises of the everlasting covenant, of which the meek eat, and are satisfied; the Gospel and the truths of it, the words of faith and good doctrine, with which faithful ministers are nourished; all which is necessary, that they may be strengthened, and qualified to feed others with knowledge and understanding: and subdue with sling stones ; such who are stouthearted, and far from righteousness; who become by their ministry penitent and humble, and subject to Christ, his Gospel and ordinances, even by the means of preaching of the word, which seem very unpromising and unlikely; being to men foolishness, and like the scrip and sling David took with him, and by which he brought Goliath down to the ground: and they shall drink ; of the love of God, which, for its antiquity, purity, and refreshing nature, is like the best wine; and of the blood of Christ, which is drink indeed; and of the grace of the Spirit, which revives, strengthens, and extinguishes thirst: [and] make a noise as through wine ; being full of joy and thankfulness for their spiritual food and drink; and so warm, zealous, and fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; free and open in their ministrations, loudly proclaiming the grace of God; bold, and fearless of danger: and they shall be filled like bowls ; that were full of the blood of the offerings, as Jarchi and Kimchi explain it; or rather, as the Targum, that were full of fine flour and oil; they having their souls filled with good things, as the first of the above writers observes; a comfortable view of interest in the love of God; a large measure of spiritual joy, and a fulness of the gifts and graces of the Spirit, qualifying them for their work: [and], as the corners of the altar ; the Targum is, “they shall shine as the blood that shines upon the wall of the altar;” at the corners of which it was poured out; signifying that they should be as full of the Spirit, and spiritual things, as the altar was of blood: so the Jewish writers say, when the priest took the blood in the bowl, he sprinkled of it two sprinklings upon the two corners of the altar, on the diameter of it, and below upon the northeast horn, and upon the southwest horn; and he ordered it so, as to sprinkle the blood on the horn, that it might surround the corners, and that the blood might be on the four sides of the altar round about f214 .
Ver. 16. And the Lord their God shall save them in that day , etc.] In the times of the Gospel, and the dispensation of it; meaning either the apostles, before said to be protected and defended, ( Zechariah 9:15) or rather the persons converted, conquered, and subdued by them, who are not killed, but saved by the Lord their God, their glorious Redeemer, from sin, Satan, the law, wrath to come, and out of the hands of all their enemies: as the flock of his people ; they being his special people, by choice, by covenant grace, and by redemption, and like to a flock of sheep; to sheep, for harmlessness, meekness, weakness, and timorousness, for being prone to go astray, and for their being clean, profitable, and sociable; and to a flock, being a distinct society of men, and but one, and a small one too, though a flock beautiful and holy: for they [shall be as] the stones of a crown ; like the gems and precious stones which are on a king’s crown; they being Christ’s jewels, highly valued and esteemed of by him; and comparable to them, for their richness through the grace of God, and for their purity, brightness, and glory in themselves, as owing to that; and for the glory they give to Christ, and for the durableness of them. The Targum renders it, “the stones of the ephod”; they may be translated, “the stones of separation” f215 ; set for boundaries to distinguish places; those being separated by the grace of God, in effectual calling, from the rest of mankind, and laid as lively stones upon the foundation Christ: lifted up as an ensign upon his land ; the land of Judea, as trophies of victorious grace; as monuments of praise and thankfulness; and as means of encouraging others to seek to Christ, and believe in him. The allusion seems to be to trophies erected on account of victories obtained by valiant men, to perpetuate their memories; which were sometimes of brass, and sometimes of marble, with inscriptions and titles on them, that they might endure forever; and where sufficiency of such materials could not be got, a vast heap of stones used to be laid together; or large trees, and their branches cut down, and the spoils of the enemy laid upon them; and these were raised up as trophies to perpetuate the memory of mighty men to posterity. So Germanicus, having conquered the nations between the Rhine and the Elbe, piled up a vast heap of marble stones, and dedicated them to Tiberius f216 ; and Fabius Aemilianus, having, with an army not amounting to 30,000 men, defeated an army of the Gauls near the river Rhosne, consisting of 200,000 men, set up a trophy of white stone, as well as built two temples, one to Mars, and another to Hercules f217 ; and Domitius Aenobarbus, and Fabius Maximus, having got the victory over the Allobroges, the people of Savoy and Piedmont, erected stone towers on the spot, and fixed trophies adorned with hostile arms, which before had been unusual f218 ; and it was an ancient custom with the Goths and Swedes, in the camps and fields where battles were fought, to fix stones like the Egyptian pyramids, on which they engraved, in a brief manner, the famous exploits performed, thereby to perpetuate the memory of the names and actions of great men f219 ; and these pillars of stone set up for trophies, the chapiters of them might be made in the form of crowns, and may be here referred to; and so some render the words to this sense f220 .
Ver. 17. For how great [is] his goodness ? etc.] Not of the land of Judea, as Kimchi; nor of the doctrine of the law, as the Targum; nor of the people of the Jews; but of the Messiah: and designs not his essential nor his providential goodness; but his goodness as Mediator, which he has in his heart, and has shown unto his people, in being their surety, and becoming their Saviour; in assuming their nature; bearing their sins, and obeying and suffering in their room and stead: and also that which he has in his hands for them, and communicates to them; his fulness of grace; all those spiritual blessings that are in him; the large measures of grace given at conversion; and the numerous instances of his goodness afterwards; yea, it includes glory, as well as grace: and how great [is] his beauty ? not as God, nor as man, but as Mediator; as beheld in the covenant and promises; in the Gospel and in the truths and in the ordinances of it: corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids ; by “young men” are meant the same as in ( 1 John 2:14) believers in Christ, who are lively, warm, and zealous for Christ, his cause and interest; who are active, diligent, and industrious in the discharge of duty; and are strong in Christ, and in his grace; and particularly in the grace of faith, and quit themselves like men: and by “maids” or “virgins” are meant the same; so called because of their chaste adherence to Christ; for their beauty, comeliness, and attire; and for their purity of divine worship and conversation: and the Gospel is intended by “corn” and “new wine”; which is compared to “corn”, in opposition to the chaff of human doctrines; and because it contains Christ the bread of life, and is nourishing and comfortable: and to “new wine”, not because it is a novel doctrine, for it is the everlasting Gospel ordained before the world was; but because, under the Gospel dispensation, to which this prophecy refers, it is newly and more clearly revealed; (see Gill on “ Zechariah 9:15”). The effect of which is, that it makes saints “cheerful”, fills them with joy and spiritual mirth; for it is a joyful sound: or, “shall make fruitful” f221 ; it causes them to grow and increase, and makes them fruitful in every good word and work: or, “shall make them speak” eloquently f222 ; or cause them to put forth the fruit of their lips, in giving thanks to God for the abundance of grace bestowed upon them: or, “shall” make “them sing” f223 , as others; in psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. This new wine may be interpreted of the gifts and graces bestowed in great plenty on the day of Pentecost, both on sons and daughters, on servants and handmaids, whereby they prophesied, and saw visions, ( Acts 2:16,17) (see Ephesians 5:18,19).