Zechariah 9


As we enter these final chapters, we find words of encouragement for those who have returned from Babylon. God had declared that great trouble would come upon all those nations who had hurt His people in the past and all these nations would cease to exist with the exception of Egypt.

The reason God’s people now needed to be reminded about these prophecies in Zechariah’s time was in order to let them see that they will be fulfilled during this generation of people.

There’s no doubt they would have been greatly encouraged from the prophecies recorded in these final chapters, the coming of the Branch, that is the Messiah, the establishment of His kingdom, that is the church, Daniel 2:44 / Daniel 7:13-14.

After the resurrection of Jesus, Matthew 28:18, He would reign as king, on the right-hand side of the Father, Luke 22:69, and Israel as a nation would also cease to exist when the temple and Jerusalem were once again destroyed by the Romans in A.D. 70.

When we come to Zechariah 9-14, dating is almost impossible, which has led some to believe they were written by someone else. It’s possible that these last chapters were written by Zechariah sometime after the first few chapters, near the end of Zechariah’s ministry, this would explain why the style of writing is different.

Judgment On Israel’s Enemies

‘A prophecy: The word of the LORD is against the land of Hadrak and will come to rest on Damascus—for the eyes of all people and all the tribes of Israel are on the LORD—and on Hamath too, which borders on it, and on Tyre and Sidon, though they are very skilful. Tyre has built herself a stronghold; she has heaped up silver like dust, and gold like the dirt of the streets. But the Lord will take away her possessions and destroy her power on the sea, and she will be consumed by fire. Ashkelon will see it and fear; Gaza will writhe in agony, and Ekron too, for her hope will wither. Gaza will lose her king and Ashkelon will be deserted. A mongrel people will occupy Ashdod, and I will put an end to the pride of the Philistines. I will take the blood from their mouths, the forbidden food from between their teeth. Those who are left will belong to our God and become a clan in Judah, and Ekron will be like the Jebusites. But I will encamp at my temple to guard it against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people, for now I am keeping watch.’ Zechariah 9:1-8

This prophecy came to Zechariah when he was much older, because the temple is now finished being built and Jerusalem has now been fully rebuilt.

God wants to remind His people that all the prophecies His old prophets had prophesied concerning the destruction of all those nations who hurt His people in the past, were now going to be fulfilled.

Some translations have the word, ‘burden’, instead of prophecy, Zechariah 12:1 / Malachi 1:1. The word ‘burden’ in Hebrew is ‘massa’ and it means ‘to lift up’ and although the N.I.V. and other translations use the word, ‘prophecy’ it simply means that Zechariah is going to lift up his voice to speak the Word of God to the nation of Israel.

God said He would go against the ‘land of Hadrak’, as God was using Alexander the Great as His tool to punish other nations, this was fulfilled by Alexander the Great when he conquered this region.

Despite Tyre trying to build up their treasury with gold and silver, God was going to bring about their destruction, along with Sidon. Tyre was a difficult place to take for other conquering nations in the past. The Assyrians tried for five years but failed, Nebuchadnezzar tried for thirteen years, but also failed. However, Alexander the Great defeated the city in just seven months in 332-331 B.C.

The cities of Ashkelon, Gaza and Ekron, were in the south of Tyre and Sidon and they were on the coastal route which Alexander took on his way to Egypt in 332-331 B.C.

God says He will ‘take away the blood from their mouths’, which means that those who became Jews would no longer eat blood, Genesis 9:4-6 / Leviticus 17:11 / Acts 15:29.

The Jebusites lived in Jerusalem when David conquered the city, Joshua 15:8 / 2 Samuel 5:6-9 / 2 Samuel 24:16-18, but David didn’t kill all of the Jebusites, he merely incorporated them into Israel. The same would happen to the people of Ekron.

Those who are ‘left’ from the Philistines would convert to the Jewish faith. Ekron was a Philistine city and would convert to such an extent that it would be like Jerusalem, that is Jebus.

God said, He ‘would camp at the temple and protect it’, in other words, whilst all the other nations were being destroyed God promised His people that He will protect them.

Even though Alexander the Great marched towards Egypt, taking city after city, he never attacked Jerusalem, God was obviously at work in these events.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following, concerning these verses.

‘Alexander the Great provided the fulfilment of the prophecy here regarding those Palestinian nations which were traditional enemies of God’s people. It was this great world ruler who made the Greek language the official vehicle of communication for the whole ancient world. Because of this, the New Testament was written in Greek. The providence of God is surely seen in this.

Significantly, Alexander himself claimed that by means of a dream the God of the Jews had commanded him to launch his world conquest. (See Josephus, Ant. XI, viii, 3.) The relationship of these verses to the Messianic kingdom is therefore quite pronounced. When Alexander bowed himself down before the High Priest in Jerusalem and bestowed many favours upon Jerusalem.’

The Coming Of Zion’s King

‘Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey. I will take away the chariots from Ephraim and the warhorses from Jerusalem, and the battle bow will be broken. He will proclaim peace to the nations. His rule will extend from sea to sea and from the River to the ends of the earth.’ Zechariah 9:9-10

Jerusalem, that is God’s people were to rejoice at the coming of their king, which is a clear reference to Jesus, Luke 19:37-40. Jesus, the King, the Messiah wasn’t going to come riding on a warhorse, like Alexander the Great would have done, He was coming humbly riding a donkey, which was the animal, which was used in times of peace, Matthew 21:5.

Jesus is the Prince of Peace, and in His kingdom, there would be no military warfare, Isaiah 2:4. His kingdom of peace would include all of Israel from Ephraim, the northern kingdom, to Jerusalem, the southern kingdom of Israel. Peace would extend from the Mediterranean Sea to the Dead Sea, from the Euphrates River into all the earth, Isaiah 9:5-9.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following about these verses.

‘Without exception, the four Gospels presented this as a prophecy of the Triumphal Entry of Jesus Christ into the city of Jerusalem on Sunday of the Passion week. The cutting off of the chariot, the battle bow, and the horse were prophecies of the rejection by Christ’s church of the instruments of warfare as a means of advancing the truth. The mention of both Ephraim and Jerusalem indicated the unity of all Israel ‘in Christ’. There is no indication in this that God would restore the destroyed kingdom of Ephraim.’

‘As for you, because of the blood of my covenant with you, I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit. Return to your fortress, you prisoners of hope; even now I announce that I will restore twice as much to you. I will bend Judah as I bend my bow and fill it with Ephraim. I will rouse your sons, Zion, against your sons, Greece, and make you like a warrior’s sword.’ Zechariah 9:11-13

In the Old Testament, under the law of Moses, ‘the blood of my covenant’ referred to the blood which was sprinkled on the people during sacrificing, Exodus 24:8.

Most people agree this is a reference to the blood of Christ, which was poured out for the forgiveness of sins, Matthew 26:28. In other words, this is a prophecy of the forgiveness of sins under the New Covenant.

The ‘freeing of prisoners’ was preached by Christ, Luke 4:18, and so, because of His faithful promise, even the prisoners are ‘prisoners of hope’. They should be encouraged from His promise and return to the stronghold of the Lord Himself, that is, under God’s protection, Ephesians 6:10.

Adam Clarke, in his commentary, says the following.

‘The captives here, are those who were under the arrest of God’s judgments, the human race fast bound in sin and misery.’

Coffman in his commentary says the following concerning ‘the waterless pit’, Genesis 37:24.

‘This is a metaphor of sin; and it is from that pit that Jesus came to deliver mankind. The aptness of this reference to sin is seen in the fact that, delivery from a pit in which there was no drinking water was life from death.’

Mathew Henry, in his commentary, says the following concerning Judah and Ephraim.

‘The expressions here are very fine, and the figures lively. Judah had been taught the use of the bow, 2 Samuel 1:18, and Ephraim had been famous for it, Psalm 78:9. But let them not think that they gain their successes by their own bow, for they themselves are no more than God’s bow and his arrows, tools in his hands, which he makes use of and manages as he pleases, which he holds as his bow and directs to the mark as his arrows. The best and bravest of men are but what God makes them and do no more service than he enables them to do. The preachers of the gospel were the bow in Christ’s hand, with which he went forth, he went on, conquering and to conquer, Revelation 6:2.’

Throughout the inter-testimonial period, the Jews would suffer from the expansion of the Greek Empire under the leadership of Alexander the Great. After his death, Alexander’s four generals would take possession of his kingdom.

The Ptolemies of Egypt and the Seleucidan to the north of Palestine constantly struggled with each other and the Jews were caught in the middle of the conflict.

Daniel spoke about this and spoke of hope for those Jews who were caught in the middle of these international affairs, Daniel 2:31-35 / Daniel 7:1-27. Zechariah here, gives hope to God’s people, that the Messiah would come and defeat all those nations, including Greece.

This was fulfilled when against Antiochus, one of the kings of the Grecian monarchy, the people that knew their God were strong and did exploits, Daniel 11:32.

The LORD Will Appear

‘Then the LORD will appear over them; his arrow will flash like lightning. The Sovereign LORD will sound the trumpet; he will march in the storms of the south, and the LORD Almighty will shield them. They will destroy and overcome with slingstones. They will drink and roar as with wine; they will be full like a bowl used for sprinkling the corners of the altar. The LORD their God will save his people on that day as a shepherd saves his flock. They will sparkle in his land like jewels in a crown. How attractive and beautiful they will be! Grain will make the young men thrive, and new wine the young women.’ Zechariah 9:14-17

Zechariah 9:13 introduces us to the content of these passages. The bow, the sword and the arrow mentioned here are all metaphors for spiritual power, Ephesians 6:10-18. The meaning of these verses is simple, victory is promised and won by God Himself.

God used His people to accomplish the victory, in that, from the Jews would come the Messiah who would reign over all things, Ephesians 1:20-23. During the time of Zechariah, the international unrest that would affect the Jews in Palestine had already begun.

Notice that it’s God Himself who will blow the trumpet, the blowing of the trumpet by the priests in war was commanded, as a reminiscence of themselves before God, Numbers 10:9 / 2 Chronicles 13:12.

It’s God Himself who will march in the storms, this is destructive power, Isaiah 21:1. It’s God Himself who will shield, that is, protect His city and His people, Genesis 15:1 / Psalm 3:3-4.

The Jews will destroy and overcome their enemies ‘with slingstones’, that is, they will easily defeat their enemies as David did Goliath, 1 Samuel 17:50 / Judges 20:16.

Coffman, in his commentary, says the following concerning verse 15.

‘This is counted a very difficult passage by most students of the place. The first part, about God’s defending his people, is clear. The protection of God is guaranteed to his faithful followers. Matthew 18:20 carries exactly the same promise to Christians. However, that about ‘drinking and making a noise as through wine’ (A.S.V.), is very difficult.

Although most versions and translations soften the passage by changing the words, as in our version, the actual meaning of the place is, ‘They will drink blood like wine and be filled with it like the corners of the altar.’ This simply cannot mean that the returnees would celebrate victories over their enemies by such godless behaviour. The law of God specifically forbade the drinking of blood, as does the New Testament. So what is meant?

Here is where Jesus found a testimony of himself, and this is exactly the metaphor he used in John 6:53-58. The passage is inapplicable to the Old Testament dispensation and is applicable only as a metaphor in the New Testament dispensation. Jesus said, ‘Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, ye have not life in yourselves’.’

God ‘will save His people on that day’, is a reference to the forgiveness of sins through Christ under the New Covenant. The idea is that God has for his children isn’t that of conquest over their physical enemies, but the salvation of their souls.

The ‘attractiveness’ or ‘goodness’ as some translations use, Exodus 33:19, and the ‘beauty’, Isaiah 33:17, are the goodness and beauty of God. Grain and new wine are pictures of prosperity and blessing for those who are ‘in Christ’, Ephesians 1:1-14.

Barnes, in his commentary, gives the following summary of these verses.

‘The prophet, borne out of himself by consideration of the divine goodness, stands amazed, while he contemplates the beauty and Deity of Christ, he bursts out with unaccustomed admiration! How great is His goodness, who, to guard His flock, shall come down on earth to lay down His life for the salvation of His sheep! How great His beauty, who is the ‘brightness of the glory and the Image of the Father,’ and comprises in His Godhead the measure of all order and beauty!

With what firm might does He strengthen, with what joy does He overwhelm the souls which gaze most frequently on His beauty, and gives largely and bountifully that corn, by whose strength the youths are made strong. He supplies abundantly the wine, whereby the virgins, on fire with His love, are exhilarated and beautified.

But both are necessary, that the strength of the strong should be upheld by the ‘bread from heaven,’ and that sound and uncorrupted minds, melted with the sweetness of love, should be recreated with wine, that is, the sweetness of the Holy Spirit, and be borne aloft with great joy, in the midst of extreme toils. For all who keep holily the faith of Christ, may be called ‘youths,’ for their unconquered strength, and virgins for their purity and integrity of soul. For all these that heavenly bread is prepared, that their strength be not weakened, and the wine is inpoured, that they be not only refreshed, but may live in utmost sweetness.’

However we interpret these passages, the point is simply this, the Jews are given a King. They never had another king physically but Jesus would be their King spiritually, John 12:15 / John 18:37 / 1 Timothy 6:15 / Revelation 17:14 / Revelation 19:16.

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