Zechariah 9 - Outline of Zechariah (Book Notes menu page)
III. Prophetic Burdens (ch. 9-14)
  1. The Burden of the Shepherd for His wayward flock -
    Israel's Messiah: Redeeming, Rejected (ch. 9-11)
    1. The flock of God delivered (ch. 9)...
      • from Alexander the Great (9:1-8)
      • by Israel's meek & lowly King (9:9-11)
      • from the Antichrist (9:12 - 10:1)
1. The burden of the word of the LORD
in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus [shall be] the rest thereof:
when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, [shall be] toward the LORD.
2 And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.
3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold,
and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.
4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea;
and she shall be devoured with fire.
5 Ashkelon shall see [it], and fear;
Gaza also [shall see it], and be very sorrowful, and Ekron;
for her expectation shall be ashamed;
and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.
6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
7 And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth:
but he that remaineth, even he, [shall be] for our God,
and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.
The burden of the word of the LORD in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus...-
A prophetic 'burden' is a message from God that is 'heavy' or difficult to carry. Such a message often foretold judgment (eg., Isa 13:1; Nah 1:1). The impending judgment, in this passage, is to fall {come to 'rest'} upon Syria and progress southward into Palestine. Syria is referred to as "the land of Hadrach," who, in the days of Elijah and Elisha, was a servant of the king of Syria. Hadrach murdered his master to establish himself as king, famous for his ruthlessness (1Kin 19:15-19; 2Kin 8:7-15, where his name is rendered as 'Hazael').
when the eyes of man... shall be toward the LORD...-
This verse is difficult in the Hebrew. However, similar wording, in v.8, refers to the eyes of the LORD rather than to those of men. Therefore, the sense here may be: that the burden of judgment would soon fall upon Syria, "when the LORD's eyes shall rest upon all men (in judgment), as they had previously rested upon the tribes of Israel (for chastisement)." [adapted from GWms].
     The chastisement upon Israel included the captivity of Judah to Babylon, from where a remnant had returned to rebuild Jerusalem, in Zechariah's day, while the Medo-Persian empire ruled the region. Since the judgment, in view here, is to fall after that time, the passage looks forward to the next in the succession of Gentile world powers, as the Medo-Persian empire is displaced by the Greek or Graeco-Macedonian empire, with the conquest of Syria and Palestine by Alexander the Great. The progress of Alexander's army is traced, in the following verses, with the destruction of successive cities in his path.
...Damascus... Hamath... Tyre... Sidon...-
Alexandar's military genius was to use a relatively small and nimble army to advance rapidly in conquest of the known world. Because his army was small, he could not afford to leave troops behind to police conquered cities. Therefore, to prevent the possibility of an ambush from behind, he was careful to totally destroy the cities that he took. Because his success depended on this strategy, he was willing to invest the time necessary to ensure a city's destruction.
...and Tyrus did build herself a strong hold...
...Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea...-
Prior to the final captivity of Jerusalem under Babylon, Ezekiel had prophesied that Tyre would be utterly destroyed (Eze 26:1-15). Nebuchadnezzar had destroyed the city, which at the time, was a port city on the mainland. When Nebuchadnezzar moved on, the city was left as a heap of ruins (572 BC). But the utter destruction, even of the ruins, which had been prophesied had not occurred (eg., Eze 26:4,5). Thinking to make the city impregnable against any future assault, the citizens of Tyre rebuilt the city on an island in the harbor. In 332 BC, Alexander, in his determination to conquer the island city, built a causeway from the mainland, using the debris from the original city, thus completing the literal fulfillment of Ezekiel's prophecy (Eze 26:12-14).
...Ashkelon shall see it, and fear; Gaza also... and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation {hope} shall be ashamed...-
These cities would lose hope when Tyre fell, for they were far less prepared to withstand Alexander's forces. In fact, these cities would be overrun as the remainder of v.5 indicates.
...and a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod... I will cut off the pride of the Philistines...-
Ashdod was the capital of the Philistine nation. But the city and region would be occupied by other people. (The term 'bastard' may refer to 'a mongrel race' who would displace the Philistines. [GWms])
...and I will take away his blood {lit., bloods} out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth...-
By means of Alexandar's conquest, the LORD would remove the idolatrous practices (which included human sacrifice) from the land previously occupied by the Philistines.
8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army,
because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth:
and no oppressor shall pass through them any more:
for now have I seen with mine eyes.
I will encamp about mine house because of the army... of him that passeth by... of him that returneth...-
This verse could also be translated, "I will encamp about mine house as a garrison, because of him that passeth by..." [GWms]
     Alexandar continued his march down into Egypt, and then returned retracing his steps. According to his military strategy, he should have destroyed Jerusalem. In fact, this was his plan. But the LORD intervened, moving the heart of this hard man to preserve His city. Flavius Josephus records (in Antiquities of the Jews XI, chapter viii, paragraphs 3-5) that in the autumn of 332 BC, Alexander the Great intended to conquer Jerusalem. However, when the Jewish high priest, Jaddua, dressed in his priestly attire, led a procession out of the city to meet him, Alexander bowed himself before him. When Alexander's officers expressed surprise, he explained that he did homage, not to the priest, but to the Name of the God whom he represented, for a figure arrayed as this priest had spoken to him in a previous dream concerning the success of his conquests. Alexander then entered the city to worship in the Temple, where the priest also showed Alexander the scroll of Daniel, wherein his campaign had been foretold hundreds of years earlier.
and no oppressor shall pass through them any more...-
Many oppressors have passed through Israel's land since the time of Alexander. Beginning with this statement, the remainder of the chapter looks forward to the future, when Israel's Messiah will reign, having put down all His enemies. (eg., Isa 52:1; 54:14; 60:18; Eze 28:24-26; Amos 9:15)
for now have I seen with mine eyes.-
Of course, there has never been a time when the LORD was not aware of the plight of His people. This expression speaks of His rising to take action according to what He sees. cp. Ex 3:7-9; Acts 7:34
9. Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem:
behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he [is] just, and having salvation;
lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem,
and the battle bow shall be cut off:
and he shall speak peace unto the heathen:
and his dominion [shall be] from sea [even] to sea,
and from the river [even] to the ends of the earth.
11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant
I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein [is] no water.
behold, thy King cometh unto thee... lowly, and riding upon an ass...-
The coming of Israel's King (their Messiah) stands in stark contrast to the coming of Alexander. Men trembled in fear at the greatness of Alexander's military power. Israel will rejoice when they receive their humble King.
    Jesus presented Himself to Israel as their King, at the beginning of the final week of His earthly ministry. Both Matthew and John refer to v.9 in reference to that event (Mat 21:5; Joh 12:15). However, both of these gospel writers omitted certain key elements that are included in v.9, because they were reporting Christ's first coming, when the nation rejected their King. Here, Zechariah's prophecy encompasses Christ's first and second comings in one view.
  • At His second coming, Israel will "rejoice greatly" because their King will bring salvation {ie., deliverance} from their enemies. They will recognize Him as "just" {HB=tsaddiq, righteous, justified, vindicated}. Whereas, at His first coming, the event was simply announced ('Tell ye..., Behold...') with no mention of rejoicing, for He wrought no deliverance from Roman oppression. Rather, His own people considered Him to be a 'blasphemer' worthy of death. The rejection of their King would lead to deeper sorrows for His people.
  • At His first coming, He was both "lowly" {ie., poor, afflicted, weak, wretched} and "meek" {ie., mild, gentle}. A person who is meek toward God quietly accepts His will as right and good without disputing or resisting. Rather than asserting himself to protect his own interests, the meek person trusts God fully, and therefore, confidently awaits the fruition of His good and perfect purposes. (cp. Isa 49:4-7; 1Pet 2:23-25; Mat 11:28-30).
  • At His first coming, He came humbly "riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass." At His second coming, He will appear on a white horse with power and great glory (Rev 19:11-f).
and I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem...-
When the King comes to take vengeance upon His enemies, He will also "speak peace unto the heathen." He will bring peace between the nations. His people will no longer need weapons of warfare. Notice also that Ephraim (ie., the 10 northern tribes of Israel) and Jerusalem (ie., the southern kingdom of Judah and Benjamin) will also be joined together and at peace with each other. cp. Eph 2:13-17; Col 1:20-22
and his dominion shall be from sea to sea...-
Israel will occupy the full extent of the land promised to Abraham (Gen 15:18). Their King's dominion will extend over the entire world (Mic 5:4).
...by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.-
The blood of the New Covenant was shed at Christ's first coming. Only a few days after He rode into Jerusalem on a donkey, Israel's "lowly" King humbled Himself, even unto death (Php 2:8; Mat 26:28; Joh 19:19; Isa 49:8,9). It is on the basis of that new covenant, that true peace would be established, lifting Israel (and the world) out of their desperate situation (ie., bondage to sin and death) from which they could never extricate themselves (Isa 42:6,7; Col 1:13,14; Heb 2:14,15).
12. Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope:
even to day do I declare [that] I will render double unto thee;
13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim,
and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece,
and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
14 And the LORD shall be seen over them,
and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning:
and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet,
and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them;
and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones;
and they shall drink, [and] make a noise as through wine;
and they shall be filled like bowls, [and] as the corners of the altar.
16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people:
for they [shall be as] the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.
17 For how great [is] his goodness, and how great [is] his beauty!
corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope...-
Some interpreters think this closing section, of ch.9, describes the conflict of Antiochus Epiphanes and the Maccabees, because of the reference to 'Greece' (v.13). However, the phrase "In that day" (v.16) places these events at the time of Jacob's Trouble. As the preceding verses (vs.9-11) encompassed Christ's first and second comings, the perspective now leaps over everything between those events to view the great victory at the closing battle of the intervening age.
    The "prisoners of hope" are Israelites whose confidence was in God, though they were long held captive (in exile) by their enemies (Jer 31:17; Lam 3:21-26). With the victory won, they can finally return to the strong hold {ie., to Zion, Jerusalem, the city garrisoned by God} (Jer 31:6; 50:4,5,28).
...I will render double unto thee...- cp. Isa 40:2; 61:7; Jer 31:15-17
The judgment upon Israel's sin having been fully completed, the LORD rewards them with double blessing.
the LORD of hosts shall defend them... the LORD their God shall save them in that day...-
In that day, it will be the LORD who fights in behalf of His people, exercising His own supernatural forces ('...his arrow... as the lightning... as the whirlwinds...'), while wielding the natural forces of His people as His own sword. Figuratively, the LORD will bend Judah as His bow, and shoot Ephraim as His arrows against the gentile invaders. Although "sling stones" may refer to missiles and artillery, the fleshly weapons of Israel's warfare will be woefully inadequate in the face of overwhelming opposition. Yet, they will prevail, as the sling stones mentioned in 1Sam 17:50, in the Name of the LORD (1Sam 17:45-47). This final battle, described briefly here, will be viewed in greater detail in Zechariah ch.12-14.
against thy sons, O Greece...-
At the close of the Tribulation, the forces which come against Jerusalem will be those of the final form of the Roman empire, led by the Antichrist, who will gather the armies of all nations for the conflict. In the passage before us, all of the forces aligned with the Antichrist, are viewed as "thy sons, O Greece." This is consistent with Daniel ch. 11, where the Greek ruler, Antiochus Epiphanes, foreshadows a future king (the Antichrist) who is even more vile than Antiochus. (See Dan 11:36-45 and the Book Notes at Daniel ch. 11).
the LORD their God shall save them...-
The glories of the Redeemer are reflected in His people, when He has brought them out of all their troubles. (Psa 34:19-22)
... as the flock of his people...-
The scattered flock will be gathered again to their Shepherd (Jer 23:3; Eze 34:22-26,31; Joh 10:27-30).
they shall be... as stones in a crown...-
The stones of battle will give way to stones of beauty. Isa 62:3
... lifted up as an ensign upon his land.-
Israel will be 'an ensign' (ie., a sign lifted up) declaring the glory of their LORD (Isa 46:13). When He is lifted up, all men will be drawn to Him (Isa 11:10-12; cp. Joh 12:32)
How great is His goodness... His beauty...-
In that future day, Israel will gaze, not upon their own glory, but upon the glories of their King (Isa 33:17; Joh 1:14; 2Cor 4:3-6).
corn shall make the young men cheerful...-
The last line of the chapter speaks of Israel's prosperity and abundance following the LORD's victory over their foes, and the establishment of Christ's Millennial Kingdom (Isa 62:8,9; Hos 2:21,22; Amos 9:13,14). The description of this future time of blessing continues in the first verse of the next chapter (Zech 10:1).

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