Zechariah 1 - Outline of Zechariah (MENU page)
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
A. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
B. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15
1. In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius,
came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah,
the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius...-
This is Darius the Persian, not Darius the Mede who conquered Babylon (Dan 5:31). [Zechariah opens about 25 years after the close of Daniel.] After the reign of Darius the Mede, in the first year of Cyrus, king of Persia, the Jewish captives in Babylon were allowed to return to Jerusalem for the purpose of rebuilding the Temple (Ezr 1:1-3). The returnees engaged quickly in the reconstruction project, under the leadership of Zerubbabel (a descendant of David who had been appointed as governor), and Joshua, a high priest (Ezr 3:8). However, the work was opposed by their gentile neighbors, who petitioned the king (the successor of Cyrus, known as Cambyses II in secular history, but referred to as Artaxerxes in Ezra ch. 4) who ordered the work to cease. The work was resumed in the second year of his successor, Darius, king of Persia (Ezr 4:23,24).
came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah...-
Zechariah was one of several priests who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel (Neh 12:1-4,16). He was also a prophet, which was unusual, since most of the prophets arose from the common people. Zechariah was contemporary with Haggai. These two prophets encouraged the people in the work of rebuilding (Ezr 5:1; 6:14). The work was resumed, by faith in God's Word through these prophets, and in the absence of permission from the king. In response to a formal complaint from Israel's enemies that the work had been renewed illegally, Darius rediscovered and confirmed the decree of Cyrus (see Ezra ch. 5 -6).
- - The prophecies of both Zechariah and Haggai are introduced in the same way: "the Word of the LORD came." Yet God's messages to and through these two prophets were very different.
Haggai's four messages focused primarily on practical matters of great importance to the work at hand in his day. The LORD spoke through Haggai on several occasions during the second year of Darius.
  1. He chastened the people for their unbelief, apathy and fear, in neglecting the work of rebuilding the Temple (Haggai ch. 1).
  2. He encouraged the people, once the work had resumed, that although this second Temple seemed far inferior to Solomon's Temple, it would be filled with greater glory in the future (at the Messiah's first coming). Hag 2:1-9
  3. He encouraged the people that despite their inadequacies, and the imperfections of their work, He would pour out blessings upon them because of their obedience to His Word (Hag 2:10-19).
  4. He foretold the eventual overthrow of gentile dominion, and the future reign of the Messiah, whose coming was foreshadowed by God's blessing upon Zerubbabel as leader of His people (Hag 2:20-23).
Zechariah's messages encouraged the people by lifting their eyes beyond their present struggles to the future fulfillment of God's ultimate purposes. His visions are apocalyptic in nature, like those of Ezekiel, Daniel and the Revelation. Whereas Haggai touched briefly on the first and second comings of the Messiah and on the restoration of Israel's dominion among the nations, Zechariah focuses on these themes in greater detail, while also looking at how God will deal with the Gentile nations according to their mistreatment of Israel (Zech 2:8).
- - Zechariah's introductory warning (vs. 1-6) was given between Haggai's second and third messages (note the months in which the messages came). Zechariah's first vision (which spans ch. 1 - 6) was given exactly two months after Haggai's last two recorded messages. The remainder of Zechariah's book was written more than two years later (Zech 7:1).
Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet...-
The message of this book is summarized by the meanings of the names of these men: Zechariah {"Jehovah remembers"}, Berechiah {"Jehovah blesses"}, Iddo {"His witness"}. Although the nation of Israel had rebelled against the LORD and had, therefore, been dispersed among the gentile nations, they were still the people whom He had chosen as His witnesses before the nations (Isa 43:10-12). The LORD will remember His covenant with them and bless His people in their future restoration.
2 The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
3 Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts,
and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
4 Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and [from] your evil doings:
but they did not hear, nor hearken unto me, saith the LORD.
The LORD hath been sore displeased with your fathers.
Zechariah reminds his hearers, the remnant recently returned from the Babylonian captivity, that the dispersion of Israel (a little more than 70 years earlier) was due to the sin of their predecessors. 2Chr 36:13-21
thus saith the LORD of hosts {HB=tsabah, sabaoth, that which goes forth, armies, warfare}...-
The LORD identifies Himself with this name four times in vs.3,4 and again in v.6. The name speaks of His boundless power to accomplish His purposes. In that power, He had exercised judgment upon His wayward people (eg. Isa 5:7,9,16,24). In that power, He desired to send forth blessings upon them, if they would turn unto Him and forsake their sin (Isa 30:15; cp. 1The 1:9).
5 Your fathers, where [are] they? and the prophets, do they live for ever?
6 But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets,
did they not take hold of your fathers?
and they returned and said, Like as the LORD of hosts thought to do unto us,
according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.
Your fathers, where are they?- They were dead and occupying graves in Babylon,
because the LORD's judgment upon sin had overtaken them.
and the prophets, do they live for ever?- The "former prophets" who had spoken to the previous generations
(eg., Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea...) had also died. But the word of God, which they had proclaimed, had proven to be enduring and effective.
did they not take hold of your fathers?- This question is addressed to Zechariah's hearers,
who, after brief consideration, acknowledge that the LORD of hosts had exercised His power toward His people with the judgment they deserved (cp. Jer 26:4-6; 35:15).
according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us.-
Zechariah's hearers, the remnant returned from the captivity, got the message. They recognized that it not only applied to their fathers, but to them. The LORD would deal with them also according to "our ways... and... our doings" (cp. Dan 9:13).
I. Symbolic Visions - Israel's Messianic Hope: Sure (ch. 1-6)
A. Introduction and Message of Warning, 1:1-6
B. Ten Visions, 1:7 - 6:15
  1. A Rider among the Myrtle Trees, and Horses behind Him (1:7-17)
  2. Four Horns (1:18-19)
  3. Four Smiths (1:20-21)
7. Upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which [is] the month Sebat,
in the second year of Darius,
came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah,
the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo the prophet, saying,
8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse,
and he stood among the myrtle trees that [were] in the bottom;
and behind him [were there] red horses, speckled, and white.
upon the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month... came the word of the LORD unto Zechariah...-
Apparently, the visions of ch. 1 - 6 were all given in the same night.
I saw {HB= ra'ah, to see, inspect, perceive, consider} by night...-
Zechariah does not say he had a dream. The LORD presented things for his consideration while he was awake and watching. The vision was revelation of truth from God, not the confusion of a man's over wrought mind (cf. Ecc 5:3).
    Notice that "the word of the LORD came" to Zechariah. The vision was initiated by God Himself. Zechariah had not sought it. The vision was not produced through the prophet's imagination or through any 'spiritual' technique such as visualization. [Those who seek visions by such means, open themselves to "seducing spirits and doctrines of demons" through shamanistic practices. cp. Deu 18:10,11; Jer 16:12; 1Tim 4:1] Rather, the vision was presented by the LORD, to convey His Word to His prophet.
I saw... and behold...-
The prophet invites us also to look and consider what the LORD brought to his eyes (cp. Rev 6:2). These visions, like those in the Revelation, are given to enable God's people to understand important truths. Yet, at first glance, the visions seem obscure and confusing, because of their rich symbolism. However, as in the Revelation, the symbols are explained in the context or through other scripture passages (2Pet 1:20). If we neglect this guidance, our imaginations will lead us into wild and baseless misunderstandings.
9 Then said I, O my lord, what [are] these?
And the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these [be].
10 And the man that stood among the myrtle trees answered and said,
These [are they] whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.
11 And they answered the angel of the LORD that stood among the myrtle trees, and said,
We have walked to and fro through the earth,
and, behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
Then said I, O my lord, what are these?...- We also need to pray for understanding.
...the angel that talked with me said unto me, I will shew thee what these be.-
Jam 1:5; 1Cor 2:12-16
the man that stood among the myrtle trees (v.8)...- is also:
  1. referred to as "the angel that talked with me" (v.9), and "the angel of the LORD" (v.11).
    In the OT, the angel of the LORD represents the presence of God in the Person of the pre-incarnate Christ. (eg., Gen 22:11-18 [with Joh 8:56,58]; Ex 3:2-8,13-15 [note that this Angel is God Himself speaking and acting in the realm of men]; 1Chr 21:15-18; cp. Isa 63:9)
  2. seen standing "among the myrtle trees..." Myrtle {HB=hadas} trees are symbollic of Israel (cp. Isa 41:17,19; 55:13). Just a few years after Zechariah wrote, Esther would represent her people during a time of trouble. Her Hebrew name is Hadassah {ie., Myrtle}.
    Notice the location of the myrtle trees: "he stood among the myrtle trees that were in the bottom..." (v.8). They were in the valley, in the low place.
  3. the rider upon a red horse (v.8). Red speaks of blood and warfare:
...These are they whom the LORD hath sent to walk to and fro through the earth.-
The man who stood among the myrtle trees identifies the horses:
  • They whom the LORD hath sent to "walk to and fro through the earth," ie., searching and patrolling it (cp. this phrase in 2Chr 16:9; Job 1:6,7; Jer 5:1).
  • In Rev 6, we see similarly colored horses: Red (Rev 6:4, war), Pale (ie., speckled, Rev 6:8, pestilence and death), and White (Rev 6:2, the antichrist and his false peace). Note that the Black horse of Rev 6:5,6 (representing mourning and famine) is absent here, perhaps because the other horses are relatively quiet. Also note that the horses here are without riders. In Rev 6, the ominous significance of each horse is revealed in the name of its rider, apparently, indicating that the time has come 'to take peace from the earth' (Rev 6:4).
  • Their position "behind" the man who stood among the myrtle trees (v.8) is significant. The word "behind" can refer to position or time. Positionally, they are subservient to the Man who stands by Israel. He has power to restrain or release their influences. Relative to time, the meaning may be that their influences will become more evident subsequent to His coming (cp. Mat 12:41,42; Luk 19:41-44; Joh 5:43).
...they answered the angel of the LORD... behold, all the earth sitteth still, and is at rest.
They report that the whole world enjoys peace and tranquility. But this is the view of the gentile nations, without regard for "the myrtle trees... in the bottom." The nations seem to equate "peace" with Israel's downtrodden condition.
12 Then the angel of the LORD answered and said,
O LORD of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah,
against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years?
13 And the LORD answered the angel that talked with me
[with] good words [and] comfortable words.
Then the angel of the LORD answered and said, O LORD of hosts, how long...?
The indifference of the nations to the plight of Israel is not shared by the angel of the LORD. On the contrary, He (the pre-incarnate Christ) intercedes for His people. In His pleading question, we hear His yearning for His people and His identification with their sorrows (cp. Psa 13:1,2; 74:9,10; 94:3,4; Rev 6:10).
...against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years.-
His intercession was first for the remnant of Israel who had just returned after suffering 70 years of captivity due to God's wrath for their sin. God's wrath had been satisfied, allowing their return as prophesied by Jeremiah (Jer 25:11; 29:10), but they were still suffering under the opposition and oppression of the gentile nations.
...the LORD answered... with good {pleasant, agreeable} words and comfortable {compassionate} words.-
The intercession is met by the Word of God whose promise, of restoration to Israel, extends far beyond the returned remnant of Zechariah's day. cp. Isa 40:1-5
14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying,
Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.
15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen [that are] at ease:
for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction.
16 Therefore thus saith the LORD; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies:
my house shall be built in it, saith the LORD of hosts,
and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
17 Cry yet, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts;
My cities through prosperity shall yet be spread abroad;
and the LORD shall yet comfort Zion, and shall yet choose Jerusalem.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous {zealous} for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy {zeal, ardour}.-
The LORD, who answers prayer, shares the intercessor's intense burden for Israel's welfare (cp. Hos 11:8; Zech 8:2,3). The prayer, being according to God's will, must surely be answered according to the intercessor's desire (1Joh 5:14), and according to the purpose and power of the LORD of hosts (cp. Isa 9:7; Joel 2:18; Nah 1:2).
I am very sore displeased with the heathen {ie., gentile nations} that are at ease {v.11)...-
...for I was but a little displeased {with Israel, v.2}, and they helped forward the affliction.-
Although God used the gentile nations as instruments in His "strange work" of judgment upon Israel, the instruments were more zealous in that work than He was. The LORD will deal with the nations for their excessive mistreatment of the Jewish nation (cp. Isa 47:6,8,9; Eze 25:3-7,12-17; Amos 1:11; Obad 1:10-16), and He will bless His people.
...I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it...-
These words would have greatly encouraged the returned remnant of Zechariah's day, who were struggling to rebuild the Temple. However, they also anticipate a greater fulfillment (cp. Zech 2:10,11; 8:3; Isa 12:1; 54:8-10).
...and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem...
In OT prophecy, a surveyor's measuring line indicates the certainty of God's promises and the precision of their fulfillment. Thus, the Temple of the Millennial Kingdom is measured (Eze 40:3; Eze 47:3), and also the Temple of the Tribulation period (Rev 11:1,2). But here the symbollic meaning is overtaken by a foreview of literal surveyors preparing the land for inhabitants and productivity. Listen to His words through Jeremiah in Jer 31:1-5,38-40. To illustrate the certainty of the prophecy of Israel's restoration, the LORD then told Jeremiah to purchase a field, even while the fall of Jerusalem and the captivity of the nation were imminent (Jer 32). Jeremiah will not be disappointed with his investment (v.17).
...the LORD shall yet choose Jerusalem.- cp. Psa 78:67,68; 132:13,14
18. Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns.
19 And I said unto the angel that talked with me, What [be] these?
And he answered me,
These [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.
Then lifted I up mine eyes, and saw, and behold...-
With his first vision finished, Zechariah receives a new vision in vs.18-21.
...and behold, four horns.- Zechariah requests and receives an explanation:
The four horns {symbollic of gentile kings, cp. Dan 7:24; Rev 17:12} represent the four gentile world empires which "scattered" {or, dispersed} the Jewish people and divided their holy city (Dan 2:31-44; 7:3-7).
20 And the LORD shewed me four carpenters.
21 Then said I, What come these to do?
And he spake, saying,
These [are] the horns which have scattered Judah, so that no man did lift up his head:
but these are come to fray them, to cast out the horns of the Gentiles,
which lifted up [their] horn over the land of Judah to scatter it.
and the LORD shewed me...-
Some scholars regard vs.20-21 as a separate vision, while others see them as the continuation of the vision in v.18-19. In either case, these verses reveal the diminishing of the four horns which scattered the Jewish nation.
...four carpenters {HB= charash, carver, engraver, craftsmen}...
...these are come to fray {HB=charad, carve away, cause to tremble}... to cast out the horns of the Gentiles...-
As Zechariah's first vision foresaw the LORD's mercies upon Israel, these subsequent visions foresee the destruction of the nations who mistreated them (v.15). The four "carpenters" which are the means of their destruction, are not identified here. They may represent:
  1. "Jehovah's 'four sore judgments,' the sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence (Ezekiel 14:21), the four horses of Rev. 6." [in quotes, from ScofRB]
    However, note that the four sore judgments, of Eze 14, are directed against Jerusalem, whereas the four carpenters fray the gentile nations. The four horses, of Rev 6, will bring terror upon the nations. However, their activity is during the time of the fourth horn, whereas the four carpenters fray the four horns. Therefore, the editor favors the explanation below.
  2. The succession of kingdoms, each skillful in warfare to terrify and cast out the preceding kingdom (Dan 2:36-44; 7:2-14).
    "...three of the horns in turn, and under the punitive hand of God become smiths, while the fourth and last horn is cast down by the world-wide kingdom set up by the returning Christ, coming to dash to pieces His enemies who are at the same time His peoples' enemies (Psa 2:1-12). Thus the first horn (Babylon) is cast down by Medo-Persia, the second horn. The second horn (Medo-Persia), accordingly, becomes the first smith. The second horn (Medo-Persia) is cast down by the third horn, [which] thus becomes the second smith. The third horn (Macedonian Greece) is in turn cast down by the fourth horn (Rome), which thus becomes the third smith. The fourth horn (Rome), the most dreadful of all... in its revived ten-kingdom form of the last days, is destroyed by the fourth smith: the millennial kingdom set up by the returning 'King of kings and Lord of lords' (Rev 19:16)."
    [adapted from Dr. Merrill F. Unger's commentary on Zechariah, as quoted by JVMcGee]
    "It is interesting that when the Lord Jesus came to earth the first time, He had the title of the carpenter of Nazareth. He is coming again someday as a carpenter to put down this world dictator [the antichrist] and to establish His kingdom here upon this earth with Jerusalem as its center." [JVMcGee]

Click here to continue the study in Zechariah 2
Return to Zechariah - MENU page.

Limited permission is granted to copy & distribute these notes from www.theBookWurm.com


Go to The Book opening page.