1. burden--"weighty prophecy"; fraught with destruction to Israel's
foes; the expression may also refer to the distresses of Israel
implied as about to precede the deliverance.
for Israel--concerning Israel [MAURER].
stretcheth forth--present; now, not merely "hath stretched
forth," as if God only created and then left the universe to itself
To remove all doubts of unbelief as to the possibility of Israel's
deliverance, God prefaces the prediction by reminding us of His
creative and sustaining power. Compare a similar preface in
Isa 42:5; 43:1; 65:17, 18.
formeth . . . spirit of man--
2. cup of trembling--a cup causing those who drink it to reel (from
a Hebrew root "to reel"). Jerusalem, who drank the "cup of trembling"
herself, shall be so to her foes
(Isa 51:17, 22;
CALVIN with the Septuagint translates,
"threshold of destruction," on which they shall stumble and be
crushed when they attempt to cross it. English Version is
both against Judah--The Hebrew order of words is literally, "And
also against Judah shall he (the foe) be in the siege against
Jerusalem"; implying virtually that Judah, as it shares the invasion
along with Jerusalem, so it shall, like the metropolis, prove a cup of
trembling to the invaders. MAURER with
JEROME translates, "Also upon
Judah shall be (the cup of trembling); that is, some Jews forced by the
foe shall join in the assault on Jerusalem, and shall share the
overthrow with the besiegers. But
Zec 12:6, 7
show that Judah escapes and proves the scourge of the foe.
(Zec 14:4, 6-9, 13).
states it was a custom in Palestine to test the strength of youths by
their lifting up a massive stone; the phrase, "burden themselves with
it," refers to this custom. Compare
The Jews "fell" on the rock of offense, Messiah, and were "broken"; but
the rock shall fall on Antichrist, who "burdens himself with it" by his
assault on the restored Jews, and "grind him to powder."
all . . . people of . . . earth--The Antichristian confederacy against
the Jews shall be almost universal.
4. I will smite . . . horse--The arm of attack especially formidable
to Judah, who was unprovided with cavalry. So in the overthrow of
(Ex 15:19, 21).
open mine eyes upon . . . Judah--to watch over Judah's safety.
Heretofore Jehovah seemed to have shut His eyes, as having no regard for
blindness--so as to rush headlong on to their own ruin (compare
Zec 14:12, 13).
5. shall say--when they see the foe divinely smitten with "madness."
Judah . . . Jerusalem--here distinguished as the country and the
metropolis. Judah recognizes her "strength" to be "Jerusalem and its
inhabitants" as the instrument, and "Jehovah of hosts their God"
(dwelling especially there) as the author of all power
My strength is the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who have the Lord their God
as their help. The repulse of the foe by the metropolis shall assure the
Jews of the country that the same divine aid shall save them.
6. On "governors of Judah,"
torch . . . in a sheaf--Though small, it shall consume the many foes
around. One prophet supplements the other. Thus
describe more Antichrist's army than himself. Daniel represents
him as a horn growing out of the fourth beast or fourth kingdom; St.
John, as a separate beast having an individual existence. Daniel dwells
on his worldly conquests as a king; St. John, more on his spiritual
tyranny, whence he adds a second beast, the false prophet coming in a
semblance of spirituality. What is briefly described by one is more
fully prophesied by the other [ROOS].
7. Judah is to be "first saved," because of her meek acknowledgment
of dependence on Jerusalem, subordinate to Jehovah's aid.
tents--shifting and insecure, as contrasted with the solid
fortifications of Judah. But God chooses the weak to confound the
mighty, that all human glorying may be set aside.
8. Jerusalem, however, also shall be specially strengthened against
feeble . . . shall be as David--to the Jew, the highest type of
strength and glory on earth
(2Sa 17:8; 18:3;
angel of the Lord before them--the divine angel that went "before them"
through the desert, the highest type of strength and glory in heaven
(Ex 23:20; 32:34).
"The house of David" is the "prince," and his family sprung from David
(Eze 45:7, 9).
David's house was then in a comparatively weak state.
9. I will seek to destroy--I will set Myself with determined
earnestness to destroy, etc.
10. Future conversion of the Jews is to flow from an extraordinary
outpouring of the Holy Spirit
(Jer 31:9, 31-34;
spirit of grace . . . supplications--"spirit" is here not the spirit
producing a "gracious" disposition,
and inclination for "supplications."
CALVIN explains "spirit of
grace" as the grace of God itself (whereby He "pours" out His bowels
of mercy), "conjoined with the sense of it in man's heart." The "spirit
of supplications" is the mercury whose rise or fall is an unerring test
of the state of the Church [MOORE]. In Hebrew, "grace" and
"supplications" are kindred terms; translate, therefore, "gracious supplications." The plural implies suppliant prayers "without
ceasing." Herein not merely external help against the foe, as before,
but internal grace is promised subsequently.
look upon me--with profoundly earnest regard, as the Messiah whom
they so long denied.
pierced--implying Messiah's humanity: as "I will pour . . . spirit"
implies His divinity.
look . . . mourn--True repentance arises from the sight by faith of
the crucified Saviour. It is the tear that drops from the eye of faith
looking on Him. Terror only produces remorse. The true penitent weeps
over his sins in love to Him who in love has suffered for them.
me . . . him--The change of person is due to
Jehovah-Messiah speaking in His own person first, then the
prophet speaking of Him. The Jews, to avoid the conclusion that
He whom they have "pierced" is Jehovah-Messiah, who says, "I will pour
out . . . spirit," altered "me" into "him," and represent the
"pierced" one to be Messiah Ben (son of) Joseph, who was to suffer in
the battle with Cog, before Messiah Ben David should come to reign. But
Hebrew, Chaldee, Syriac, and Arabic oppose this; and the
ancient Jews interpreted it of Messiah.
also refers to His being "pierced." So
The actual piercing of His side was the culminating point of all their
insulting treatment of Him. The act of the Roman soldier who pierced
Him was their act
and is so accounted here in Zechariah. The Hebrew word is always
used of a literal piercing (so
not of a metaphorical piercing, "insulted," as
other Rationalists (from the Septuagint) represent.
as one mourneth for . . . son--
A proverbial phrase peculiarly forcible among the Jews, who felt
childlessness as a curse and dishonor. Applied with peculiar propriety
to mourning for Messiah, "the first-born among many brethren"
11. As in
the bitterness of their mourning is illustrated by a private case of
mourning, so in this verse by a public one, the greatest recorded in
Jewish history, that for the violent death in battle with Pharaoh-necho
of the good King Josiah, whose reign had been the only gleam of
brightness for the period from Hezekiah to the downfall of the state;
lamentations were written by Jeremiah for the occasion
(2Ki 23:29, 30;
Hadad-rimmon--a place or city in the great plain of Esdraelon,
the battlefield of many a conflict, near Megiddo; called so from the
Syrian idol Rimmon. Hadad also was the name of the sun, a chief god of
the Syrians [MACROBIUS, Saturnalia, 1.23].
12-14. A universal and an individual mourning at once.
David . . . Nathan--representing the highest and
lowest of the royal order. Nathan, not the prophet, but a younger son
apart--Retirement and seclusion are needful for deep personal religion.
wives apart--Jewish females worship separately from the males
(Ex 15:1, 20).
13. Levi . . . Shimei--the highest and lowest of the
(Nu 3:18, 21).
Their example and that of the royal order would of course influence the
14. All . . . that remain--after the fiery ordeal, in
which two-thirds fall
(Zec 13:8, 9).