Call to prayer to Jehovah, as contrasted with the idol-worship which had
brought judgments on the princes and people. Blessings promised in
answer to prayer: (1) rulers of themselves; (2) conquest of their
enemies; (3) restoration and establishment of both Israel and Judah in
their own land in lasting peace and piety.
1. Ask . . . rain--on which the abundance of "corn"
promised by the Lord
depends. Jehovah alone can give it, and will give it on being asked
(Jer 10:13; 14:22).
rain in . . . time of . . . latter rain--that is, the latter rain in
its due time, namely, in spring, about February or March
The latter rain ripened the grain, as the former rain in October tended
to fructify the seed. Including all temporal blessings; these
again being types of spiritual ones. Though God has begun to bless us,
we are not to relax our prayers. The former rain of conversion may have
been given, but we must also ask for the latter rain of ripened
sanctification. Though at Pentecost there was a former rain on the
Jewish Church, a latter rain is still to be looked for, when the full
harvest of the nation's conversion shall be gathered in to God. The
spirit of prayer in the Church is an index at once of her piety, and of
the spiritual blessings she may expect from God. When the Church is
full of prayer, God pours out a full blessing.
bright clouds--rather, "lightnings," the precursors of rain
showers of rain--literally, "rain of heavy rain." In
the same words occur in inverted order [HENDERSON].
grass--a general term, including both corn for men and grass for cattle.
2. idols--literally, "the teraphim," the household gods, consulted in
divination (see on
from an Arabic root, "comfort," indicating them as the givers of
comfort. Or an Ethiopian root, "relics." Herein Zechariah shows that
the Jews by their own idolatry had stayed the grace of God heretofore,
which otherwise would have given them all those blessings, temporal and
spiritual, which they are now
urged to "ask" for.
diviners--who gave responses to consulters of the teraphim: opposed
to Jehovah and His true prophets.
seen a lie--pretending to see what they saw not in giving responses.
comfort in vain--literally, "give vapor for comfort"; that is,
give comforting promises to consulters which are sure to come to naught
(Job 13:4; 16:2; 21:34).
therefore they went their way--that is, Israel and Judah were led away
as a flock . . . no shepherd--As sheep wander and are
a prey to every injury when without a shepherd, so the Jews had been
while they were without Jehovah, the true shepherd; for the false
prophets whom they trusted were no shepherds
So now they are scattered, while they know not Messiah their shepherd;
typified in the state of the disciples, when they had forsaken Jesus
3. against the shepherds--the civil rulers of Israel and Judah who
punished--literally, "visited upon." The same word "visited," without
the upon, is presently after used in a good sense to heighten the
goats--he-goats. As "shepherds" described what they ought to have
been, so "he-goats" describes what they were, the emblem of headstrong
wantonness and offensive lust
The he-goats head the flock. They who are first in crime will be first
as his goodly horse--In
they were represented under the image of bows and arrows, here
under that of their commander-in-chief, Jehovah's battle horse
God can make His people, timid though they be as sheep, courageous as
the charger. The general rode on the most beautiful and richly
caparisoned, and had his horse tended with the greatest care. Jehovah
might cast off the Jews for their vileness, but He regards His election
or adoption of them: whence He calls them here "His flock," and
therefore saves them.
4. Out of him--Judah is to be no more subject to foreigners, but
from itself shall come its rulers.
the corner--stone, Messiah
"Corners" simply express governors
Margin). The Maccabees, Judah's governors and deliverers from
Antiochus the oppressor, are primarily meant; but Messiah is the
Antitype. Messiah supports and binds together the Church, Jews and
The large peg inside an Oriental tent, on which is hung most of its
valuable furniture. On Messiah hang all the glory and hope of His
Judah shall not need foreign soldiery. Messiah shall be her battle-bow
(Ps 45:4, 5;
every oppressor--rather, in a good sense, ruler, as the kindred
Ethiopic term means. So "exactor," in
namely, one who exacts the tribute from the nations made tributary to
Judah [LUDOVICUS DE DIEU].
5. riders on horses--namely, the enemy's horsemen. Though the Jews
were forbidden by the law to multiply horses in battle
they are made Jehovah's war horse
and so tread down on foot the foe with all his cavalry
Cavalry was the chief strength of the Syro-Grecian army
(1 Maccabees 3:39).
6. Judah . . . Joseph--that is, the ten tribes. The distinct mention
of both Judah and Israel shows that there is yet a more complete
restoration than that from Babylon, when Judah alone and a few
Israelites from the other tribes returned. The Maccabean deliverance is
here connected with it, just as the painter groups on the same canvas
objects in the foreground and hills far distant; or as the comparatively
near planet and the remote fixed star are seen together in the same
firmament. Prophecy ever hastens to the glorious final consummation
bring them again to place them--namely, securely in their own land.
The Hebrew verb is compounded of two, "I will bring again," and "I will
MAURER, from a different form, translates, "I will
make them to dwell."
7. like a mighty man--in the battle with the foe
(Zec 10:3, 5).
rejoice--at their victory over the foe.
children shall see it--who are not yet of age to serve. To teach
patient waiting for God's promises. If ye do not at present see the
fulfilment, your children shall, and their joy shall be complete.
rejoice in the Lord--the Giver of such a glorious victory.
8. hiss for them--Keepers of bees by a whistle call them together. So
Jehovah by the mere word of His call shall gather back to Palestine His
The multitudes mentioned by
JOSEPHUS [Wars of the Jews, 3:2],
as peopling Galilee two hundred years after this time, were a pledge of
the future more perfect fulfilment of the prophecy.
for I have redeemed them--namely, in My covenant purpose "redeemed"
both temporally and spiritually.
as they have increased--in former times.
9. sow them among . . . people--Their dispersion was
with a special design. Like seed sown far and wide, they shall, when
quickened themselves, be the fittest instruments for quickening others
The slight hold they have on every soil where they now live, as also
the commercial and therefore cosmopolitan character of their pursuits,
making a change of residence easy to them, fit them peculiarly for
missionary work [MOORE]. The wide dispersion of
the Jews just before Christ's coming prepared the way similarly for the
apostles' preaching in the various Jewish synagogues throughout the
world; everywhere some of the Old Testament seed previously sown was
ready to germinate when the New Testament light and heat were brought
to bear on it by Gospel preachers. Thus the way was opened for entrance
among the Gentiles. "Will sow" is the Hebrew future, said
of that which has been done, is being done, and may be done afterwards
shall remember me in far countries--
Implying the Jews' return to a right mind in "all the nations" where
they are scattered simultaneously. Compare
Lu 15:17, 18,
with Ps 22:27,
"All the ends of the world remembering and turning unto the
Lord," preceded by the "seed of Jacob . . . Israel
. . . fearing and glorifying Him"; also
live--in political and spiritual life.
10. Egypt . . . Assyria--the former the first, the latter among the
last of Israel's oppressors (or
representing the four great world kingdoms, of which it was the first):
types of the present universal dispersion, Egypt being south, Assyria
north, opposite ends of the compass.
MAURER conjectures that many
Israelites fled to "Egypt" on the invasion of Tiglath-pileser. But
and this passage rather accord with the view of the future
Gilead . . . Lebanon--The whole of the Holy Land is described by two
of its boundaries, the eastern ("Gilead" beyond Jordan) and the northern
place shall not be found for them--that is, there shall not be room
enough for them through their numbers
(Isa 49:20; 54:3).
11. pass . . . sea with affliction--Personifying the
"sea"; He shall afflict the sea, that is, cause it to cease to be an
obstacle to Israel's return to Palestine
(Isa 11:15, 16).
Vulgate translates, "The strait of the sea." MAURER, "He shall cleave and smite." English
Version is best
As Jehovah smote the Red Sea to make a passage for His people
(Ex 14:16, 21),
so hereafter shall He make a way through every obstacle which opposes
the river--the Nile
(Am 8:8; 9:5),
or the Euphrates. Thus the Red Sea and the Euphrates in the former part
of the verse answer to "Assyria" and "Egypt" in the latter.
sceptre of Egypt . . . depart--
12. I . . . strengthen them in . . . Lord--
I, the Father, will strengthen them in the name, that is, the
manifested power, of the Lord, Messiah, the Son of God.
walk . . . in his name--that is, live everywhere and continually under
His protection, and according to His will
Ps 20:1, 7;