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Song of Solomon
Zechariah 14 COMMENTARY (Pulpit)
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Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
Verses 1, 2.
- § 5. The afflictions of the people and their results are set forth in figure and symbol.
Jerusalem is represented as taken and plundered.
The day of the Lord;
a day of
The Greek and Latin Versions have the plural, "days of the Lord come." It is a time when he will specially manifest his glory and power, and be recognized as allowing the trial of his people for wise purposes. It is impossible to fix on any historical fulfilment of this prophecy. The details suit neither Maccabean nor Roman times; the attempt to define exactly the period and matter of its accomplishment has proved a failure, and has led to a mingling of events of very different dates, and to a conglomeration of senses literal, metaphorical, and anagogical, which creates confusion while assuming to explain difficulties. The literal interpretation must be resigned, and the whole prophecy must be taken to adumbrate the kingdom of God in its trial, development, and triumph.
Thy spoil shall be divided.
Jerusalem is addressed; and the prophet intimates that the enemy shall get possession of the capital, plunder it, and divide its spoil among themselves in its very midst with the greatest security, the inhabitants being wholly at the conquerors' mercy.
For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
- How this shall come to pass is now shown.
For I will gather all nations.
God uses the Gentile nations as his instruments in this trial of his people; they are the fires by which he refines and purifies his elect (
Joel 3:2, 9-11
The city shall be taken. The
outrages offered to the captive city are such as are indicated in the case of Babylon (
Half of the city.
The term "half" must not be pressed, as if it contradicted the mention of the two-thirds that were to perish, according to the prediction in
. It is a mere rhetorical expression. Or it may apply to the city alone, while the other referred to the whole land.
Shall not be out off.
In the former captivity all the people were carried away; in this capture of the city a remnant shall be left therein. It is plain from this statement that the prophecy cannot apply to the destruction of the city by the Romans; for, according to the account of Josephus ('Bell. Jud.,' 6:09), the city itself was razed to the ground, and all the inhabitants were either put to the sword or sold for slaves.
Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
- § 6.
Then the Lord himself comes to her help, great convulsions of nature accompanying his presence.
Shall go forth.
God is said to "go forth" when he manifests his power by delivering his people and punishing their enemies (comp.
As when he fought in the day of battle.
The Hebrew is in general terms, "as when he fighteth in a day of battle," or, "slaughter;" Septuagint,
παρατάξεως αὐτοῦ ἐν ἡμέρα πολέμου
, "as a day of his battle in a day of war;" Vulgate,
sicut praeliatus est in die certaminis.
There is nothing in the text to confine the reference to any one special interposition; it refers rather to the general course of God's providence in defending his people, though, doubtless, the prophet has in his mind the crowning act of mercy at the Red Sea (
Exodus 14:13, 14, 25
), which is so often referred to as a typical deliverance (comp.
; and above,
And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which
before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west,
and there shall be
a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
His feet shall stand.
By this theophany he shall come to the aid of his people; nature shall do his bidding, owning the presence of its Maker.
Upon the Mount of Olives... on the east.
This mount lay on the east of Jerusalem, from which it was separated by the deep valley of the Kidron, rising to a height of some six hundred feet, and intercepting the view of the wilderness of Judaea and the Jordan ghor. The geographical detail is added in the text to indicate the line of escape which shall be opened for those who are to be de-livened. This is the only place in the Old Testament where the Mount of Olives is thus exactly named; but it is often alluded to;
2 Samuel 15:30
1 Kings 11:7
2 Kings 23:13
(where it is called "the mount of corruption"), etc. Shall cleave in the midst thereof. As the enemy are supposed to beset Jerusalem, so as to make escape by any ordinary road impossible, the Lord will open a way through the very centre of the mountain (as he opened a path through the Red Sea), by cleaving the hill in sunder, the two parts moving north and south, and leaving a great valley running east and west, and leading to the Arabah.
And ye shall flee
the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come,
all the saints with thee.
Ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains;
ye shall flee by the valley of my mountains
by the ravine made by the cleaving of Olivet into two, which God calls "my mountain," because effected by his special interposition. Septuagint,
Φραχθήσεται ἡ φάραγξ τῶν ὀρέων μου
, "The valley of my mountains shall be blocked;" Vulgate,
Fugietis ad vallem montium eorum.
The last word is probably an error for
Into the chasm thus miraculously formed the remnant shall flee for refuge.
usque ad proximum
(Vulgate); so Symmachus. If Azal, or Azel, be a proper name, it is with some probability identified with Beth-ezel, mentioned in
, a village on the east of Olivet. The meaning in this case is that the valley should extend from the west unto the east side of the Mount of Olives, and that in it the people shall find an asylum, that they might not be involved in the judgments which fall on the enemy. Some take
to mean "union," and see in it a symbol of the union of the Law and the gospel, or the Jew and Gentile, in one Church - the valley of God's mountain extending to "union;" that is, to enfolding all the faithful (see Wordsworth,
The earthquake in the days of Uzziah.
This is mentioned in
, but not in the historical books (see note on Amos,
). The intervention of the Lord is here accompanied by an earthquake, which produces the same panic as on the former occasion, and drives the inhabitants to flight.
To smite his enemies and to defend his people.
All the saints
The versions have, "with him;" and thus many Hebrew manuscripts. But such abrupt changes of persons are not uncommon (see note on Zechariah 2:8). The "holy ones" are the angels (comp.
; and the parallel predictions in
Matthew 24:30, 31
And it shall come to pass in that day,
the light shall not be clear,
The light shall not be clear, nor dark.
The Greek, Syriac, and Latin Versions have, "There shall not be light, but ('and,' Septuagint) cold and ice." With the absence of light and sun shall come bitter frost, which impedes all activity, and kills life: or, taking the Septuagint rendering, there shall no longer be the interchange of seasons, but one lasting sunshine. It is plain that a time of distress and calamity is intended, and that the passage is threatening and not consolatory, at any rate, at first. There is solid ground for the rendering of the Revised Version margin, adopted by Cheyne and others, which is according to the Khetib, "There shall not be light, the bright ones shall contract themselves;"
the heavenly bodies shall contract their light, or be heaped confusedly together, and cease to shine. The prediction in this case may be compared with that in
; and in
Revelation 6:12, 13
. The Authorized Version is explained in the margin,
"It shall not be clear in some places, and dark in other places of the world" - a gloss which is inadmissible.
But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass,
at evening time it shall be light.
A unique day, unparalleled (comp.
Song of Solomon 6:9
Which shall be
known to the Lord
. Its peculiar character, and the moment of its arrival, are known to God, and God only (
). Not day, nor night. It cannot be called truly the one or the other, because there is darkness in the day and light at night, as the following clause says. This is symbolically explained by St. Ephraem, "It will not be altogether consolation, nor altogether affliction." It is not full daylight, for calamity presses; it is not deep night, because there is hope amid the distress.
At evening time it shall be light.
In the midst of trouble and danger deliverance shall come. The whole section is a figurative description of the fortunes of the Church militant, even as Christ announced to his disciples: "In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world" (
); "If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you" (
); "Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid' (
And it shall be in that day,
living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
- § 7.
Then shall occur a season of joy. The land shall be transformed and renewed, and the Lord shall be owned as the sole King of all the earth.
water fresh, pure, and perennial (
), a figure of the spiritual blessings and graces bestowed by God upon his Church.
as the centre and representative of the kingdom of God, as in
. The city itself was, as we know, abundantly supplied with water by many conduits and subterranean channels; but standing, as it does, surrounded by hills higher than itself, it is physically impossible that the waters could literally flow as stated. The description is symbolical, though the natural features of the country are supposed to be changed in order to preserve verisimilitude (comp.
. The Dead Sea is the eastern sea to one looking to sunrise from Jerusalem: the Mediterranean is the western sea, behind the observer's back. Into every quarter the salutary stream shall flow.
In summer and in winter.
Neither drought nor frost shall stop their perennial flow. "Alike in times of peace and of persecution those waters shall continue their course" (St. Jerome); Septuagint, "In summer and in spring" - a rendering which seems to indicate the home of the Alexandrian Version.
And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
All the earth;
all the land
of Israel (vers. 8, 10) - a type of the kingdom of God in all its extent (
, "The kingdoms of this world are become the kingdoms of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign forever and ever").
Shall there be one Lord;
Jehovah shall be one.
He shall be universally acknowledged as "the blessed and only Potentate" (
1 Timothy 6:15
His name one.
Idolatry shall be abolished, and the one God shall be everywhere adored (comp.
). Men shall no longer attribute operations and effects to various heavenly powers, but shall see and confess that all are derived from and centre in him, and are only different revelations of his ineffable nature and attributes. We do not, indeed, see this prediction yet fulfilled, but the grace to accomplish it is ready and operating; it is only men's perverse wills that impede the gracious purpose of God.
All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and
the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.
All the land shall be turned as a plain.
To indicate the exaltation and stability of the centre of the new theocracy, the prophet announces that all the country round Jerusalem shall be turned into a plain, dominated by the metropolis, which stands sublime on a lofty mountain. The Revised Version renders, "shall be turned as the Arabah,"
as the Jordan ghor, a valley of abnormal fertility.
From Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem;
from the north of Judah to its southern boundary. Geba was a town and district on the edge of the great Wady Suweinit, five miles north of Jerusalem. It is identified with Jeba (
1 Samuel 13:3
), and it formed the northern boundary of the kingdom of Judah (
). Rimmon is described as "south of Jerusalem," to distinguish it from a town of the same name in Galilee (
), and from the famous rock Rimmon, to which the Benjamites fled (
Judges 20:45, 47
). It was situated in the territory of Simeon (
), and has been identified with
, a town ten miles north of Beersheba.
It shall be lifted up.
Jerusalem shall remain exalted on its hill, while all the country around sinks into a plain - a figure representing the spiritual exaltation of the new theocracy.
Inhabited in her place;
shall dwell in her place.
Shall occupy her ancient limits, and abide there safely without fear (comp.
From Benjamin's gate,
). It is difficult to define the given boundaries with certainty in every particular. Benjamin's gate is the same as the gate of Ephraim (
2 Kings 14:13
), so called as leading to the territory of Benjamin, and beyond again to that of Ephraim. It was situated in the north or second wall. From this point the course of the wall is followed, first to the west, and then to the east.
The first gate.
This was in the eastern part at this wall, and is the same as "the old gate," or "gate of the old town," of
The corner gate
2 Kings 14:13
) was at the northwest corner, west of the gate of Benjamin, at the angle where the first and second walls approached each other. These dimensions would give the breadth of the city from east to west.
The tower of Hananeel
:l) was at the northeast corner of the north wall, where the citadel Basis or Antonia afterwards stood.
The king's wine presses
were probably near "the king's garden" (
), at the southeast extremity of the city. They may have been cut out of the rock, as was often the case. This description gives the extent of the city from north to south. Thus Zechariah illustrates the growth and stability of the Church of God by the figure of the earthly city Jerusalem, firmly and orderly built, and inhabited by a teeming population, as the following verse shows. There is no ground for expecting the literal fulfilment of this prediction.
shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
Men shall dwell in it.
There shall be no tear of exile and captivity, and no necessity to fly from a victorious enemy (vers. 2, 5).
; LXX. and Vulgate, "There shall be no more anathema." The inhabitants shall not incur the curse which is inflicted on transgressors, idolaters, and their cities by the old Law (see
Shall be safely inhabited;
shall dwell safely.
Sin being removed, there will be no more occasion for chastisement; and the spiritual Jerusalem shall never be destroyed.
And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
- § 8.
Having noted the blessings on the true Israelites, the prophet
gives further details concerning the destruction of the enemies: they shall perish by plague, by mutual slaughter, by the sword of Judah.
This shall be the plague.
These are the instruments which the Lord uses when he fights against the nations (not
, as in the Authorized Version), ver. 3. The plague, or smiting (
), is some contagions affliction sent by God, as in
1 Samuel 6:4
. It is, in the Hebrew, "his flesh, his feet," etc., to show that the general plague extends to every individual. In the last clause the plural is used, "their mouth." With body, eye, and tongue they opposed the holy city, and took pleasure in its discomfiture: in all their members they shall suffer retributive punishment.
While they stand upon their feet.
The flesh of each shall putrefy and moulder away, while he is still alive and arrayed against the city of God.
; soakers. The eyes had spied out the weak places in the defence, and looked with malicious pleasure on the defeat and fall.
. They had blasphemed God, and cried against his holy place, "Down with it, even to the ground!"
And it shall come to pass in that day,
a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
A great tumult from the Lord
). A general panic or confusion sent by the Lord, such as befell the Midianites (
) and the Philistines (l
1 Samuel 14:20
), which ends in mutual slaughter.
They shall lay hold every one,
etc. In this general panic each shall seize his neighbour's hand in fierce contention. The next clause gives the same meaning (comp.
And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem.
of the Vulgate and some Jewish interpreters is a mistake, and introduces a wholly irrelevant idea. The meaning is that the Judaeans outside of Jerusalem, the nation at large, rallying to the attack, shall fall on the enemy, now thinned by pestilence and internecine conflicts within the walls of the city, and prevail against them (comp.
Ἰούδας παρατάξεται ἐν
," Judah shall draw up his forces in Jerusalem."
The wealth of all the heathen
The costly booty of the enemy shall fall into Judah's hands. Thus the Church emerges victorious from persecutions, and is enriched and adorned by the means of those who planned her overthrow.
And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
So shall be the plague of the horse,
etc. As was the plague that came on men (ver. 12), so shall be tide plague that falls on their beasts and cattle. The brute animals suffer for their owners' sin according to the ban under the old Law (
Numbers 16:32, 33
Joshua 7:24, 25
. The verse illustrates the utter destruction which shall befall the enemies of God's Church.
And it shall come to pass,
every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
- § 9.
Warned by these manifestations of God's power, the residue of the heathen shall be converted, and shall join with the Hebrews in the regular worship of Jehovah.
Every one that is left.
All the heathen that attacked the holy city shall not be destroyed; the remnant saved small become subjects of the Divine kingdom.
Shall go up.
This is the usual phrase for going to Jerusalem for the purpose of worship (comp.
Isaiah 2:2, 3
). The prophet here and in the following clause speaks as a Jew to Jews, who knew and observed only the prescribed form of worship. It is evident that the announcement could never be literally fulfilled; the Gentile world could never come yearly to pay their devotions at Jerusalem. The prediction can only signify that under Messiah's reign the Gentiles shall be converted to true religion and worship God in regular, orderly fashion, the prophet intimating this in terms derived from the old dispensation, which had the Divine sanction.
The Feast of Tabernacles.
The Israelites were required to appear before the Lord three times in the year (
) - at the festivals of the Passover, Pentecost, and Tabernacles. But the Gentiles are here required to present themselves only once. The Feast of Tabernacles is chosen for this occasion owing to its peculiar character and the associations connected with it. It commemorated not only the ingathering of the harvest, but also Israel's sojourn in the wilderness and tide Divine protection there accorded to them, and their entrance into tide promised land; it was therefore a fitting symbol of the rescue of the Gentiles from the devil's kingdom, and their entry into the Church of God, where they enjoyed the blessings of God's grace and protection. It was also a more catholic feast, in one sense, titan the Passover or Pentecost, not being so distinctively Jewish, but one which all nations could keep in gratitude to the Giver of material benefits. We must remember, also, that it was at this feast that our Lord cried (
), "If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink," and likewise he declared himself to be "the Light of the world" (
), wishing us, it may be, to understand that this feast was the one we should need to keep, being the one which specially sets him forth as the Sustainer and Guide through life's pilgrimage.
And it shall be,
whoso will not come up of
the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Will not come up;
goeth not up.
Those who neglected this yearly worship shall be punished according to the threat in
Deuteronomy 11:16, 17
The failure of periodic rain in Eastern countries meant drought, famine, and widespread distress. In a spiritual sense, rain represents the grace and blessing of God; these are withholden from those who refuse to worship him and wilfully cut themselves off from the Church. The LXX. has,
Καὶ οῦτοι ἐκείνοις
, "These shall be associated with those,"
shall be reckoned among those enemies whose punishment has been mentioned above.
And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that
; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
If the family of Egypt go not up
. Egypt is mentioned as the great typical enemy of God and Israel, and therefore most obnoxious to punishment if it did not obey the call.
That have no rain.
This rendering implies, what is not the fact, that Egypt is without rain, and is not dependent upon rain for its fertility. The expression in the text is elliptical, being merely, "then not on them," and it is obviously natural to supply, "shall there be rain." As the rise of the Nile depends upon the equinoctial rains in the interior, the failure of these would be disastrous. Another way of rendering the passage is to combine the clauses and append a note of interrogation; thus: "Shall there not be upon them the plague wherewith," etc.? The LXX. and Syriac omit the negative,
Καὶ ἐπὶ τούτους ἔσται ἡ πτῶσις
, "Even upon these shall be the plague."
This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
; here obviously the punishment of sin - sin with all its fatal consequences (comp.
In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
Verses 20, 21.
- § 10.
Then everything alike shall be holy, and the ungodly shall be altogether excluded from the house of the Lord.
Upon the bells of the horses.
The prophet, describing the holiness of the theocracy, uses imagery drawn from the ritual customs of the Law. "The bells," says Henderson, "were small metallic plates, suspended from the necks or heads of horses and camels, for the sake of ornament, and making a tinkling noise by striking against each other like cymbals." Probably these plates had the names of the owners engraven on them. The Septuagint gives "bridle," which possibly the unusual word
UNTO THE LORD
Ἅγιον τῷ Κυρίῳ
(Septuagint). This was the inscription upon the golden plate on the mitre of the high priest (
). The affixing of this inscription on the trappings of horses signifies that the commonest things shall become holy, all things that men use for work, profit, or ornament shall be consecrated to God's service.
The pots in the Lord's house.
The "pots" are vessels of inferior sanctity used for boiling the meat of the sacrifice (
1 Samuel 2:14
2 Chronicles 35:13
The bowls before the altar.
These held the blood of the victims for sprinkling on the altar, and the sacred libations, and were considered of superior sanctity. The prophet announces that now all shall be holy, the lower equal to the highest.
Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
- The last announcement is amplified.
All the vessels of the country shall be consecrated and used in Divine service. The Levitical distinction shall be abolished, and the Lord's service shall be perfect freedom. Every member of the Church, however humble his station or mean his acquirements, shall be a saint and fit for the Lord's use (comp.
2 Timothy 2:21
(Vulgate). The word is used in the sense of "trafficker," or "merchant," in Job 40:30 (Job 41:6, Authorized Version);
). If any vessel might now be used in God's service, worshippers would no longer be obliged to buy special bowls from those who sold in the temple courts (
). But it is best in agreement with the context to take "Canaanite" to mean any unclean or profane person (comp.
, etc.). Thus Daniel, in the History of Susanna, ver. 56, addresses the wicked elder, "Thou seed of Chanaan, and not of Jude;" and Isaiah (
) calls the chiefs of Israel "rulers of Sodom," and "people of Gomorrah." Henceforward the "people shall be all righteous" (
). There shall be one, holy, Catholic Church. Thus the vision of the golden candlestick (ch. 4.) is fulfilled; and that this should come to pass is the design of God's manifold providences and operations (comp.
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