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INTRODUCTION, ....... 1 


The Judgment upon Nineveh decreed by God (Chap, i.), . 8 
Conquest, Plundering, and Destruction of Nineveh (Chap. i. 15- 

ii. 13), 17 

Nineveh s Sins and inevitable Destruction (Chap, ii.), . . 29 


INTRODUCTION, ....... 49 


The Judgment upon the Wicked (Chap. i. and ii.), . . 55 

Chastisement of Judah through the Chaldseans (Chap, i.), . 55 

Destruction of the Ungodly World-Power (Chap, ii.), . 67 
Prayer for Compassion in the Midst of the Judgment (Chap. 

iii.), . . 92 


INTRODUCTION, ....... 117 


The Judgment upon all the World, and upon Judah in parti 
cular (Chap, i.), . . . . . .126 

Exhortation to Repentance in View of the Judgment (Chap. 

ii. 1-iii. 8), 137 

Promise of the Conversion of the Nations and Glorification of 

Israel (Chap. iii. 9-20), . \ . 155 




INTRODUCTION, ...... 167 


Admonition to Build the Temple, and its Result (Chap, i.), . 174 
The Glory of the New Temple, and the Blessings of the New 
Era (Chap, ii.), 185 

INTRODUCTION, ....... 217 


Introductory Admonition (Chap. i. 1-6), . . . 223 

I. The Night- Visions (Chap. i. 7-vi. 15), . . .227 

First Vision : The Rider among the Myrtles (Chap. i. 8-17), 228 
Second Vision : The Four Horns and the Four Smiths 

(Chap. i. 18-21), ...... 238 

Third Vision : The Man with the Measuring Line (Chap, ii.), 241 
Fourth Vision : The High Priest Joshua in the presence 

of the Angel of the Lord (Chap, iii.), . . 250 
Fifth Vision : The Candlestick with the Two Olive Trees 

(Chap, iv.), 262 

Sixth Vision : The Flying Roll, and the Woman in the 

Ephah (Chap, v.), ..... 278 

Seventh Vision : The Four Chariots (Chap. vi. 1-8), . 286 

The Crown upon Joshua s Head (Chap. vi. 9-15), . . 296 

II. The Answer to the Question concerning the Fasting (Chap. 

vii. and viii.), ...... 3Q2 

The Fast-Days of Israel, and Obedience to the Word of God 

(Chap, vii.), . . .303 

Renewal and Completion of the Covenant of Grace (Chap. 

viii.), . . 311 

III. Future of the World-Powers, and of the Kingdom of God 

(Chap, ix.-xiv.), . ... 320 

Fall of the Heathen World, and Deliverance and Glorifica 
tion of Zion (Chap. ix. and x.), .... 321 

Israel under the Good Shepherd and the Foolish One (Chap. 
xi -), 354 



Israel s Conflict and Victory, Conversion and Sanctification 

(Chap. xii. 1-xiii. 6), ..... 379 

Judgment of Refinement for Israel, and Glorious End of 

Jerusalem (Chap. xiii. 7-xiv. 21), . . 396 


INTRODUCTION, ....... 423 


God s Love, and the Contempt of His Name (Chap. i. 1-ii. 9), . 429 
Condemnation of Marriages with Heathen Women and of 

Divorces (Chap. ii. 10-16), . . . .447 

The Day of the Lord (Chap. ii. 17 -iv. 6), ... 454 

N A H U M. 


IERSON OF THE PROPHET. All that we know 
of Nalium (Nadi tim, i.e. consolation or comforter, 
consolator, Gr. Naov/j,) is, that he sprang from the 
place called Elkosli ; since the epithet hd elqoslii, 
in the heading to his book, is not a patronymic, but the place of 
his birth. Elkosh is not to be sought for in Assyria, however, 
viz. in the Christian village of Alkush, which is situated on the 
eastern side of the Tigris, to the north-west of Khorsabad, two 
days journey from Mosul, where the tomb of the prophet 
Nahum is shown in the form of a simple plaster box of 
modern style, and which is held in great reverence, as a holy 
place, by the Christians and Mohammedans of that neighbour 
hood (see Layard, Nineveh and its Remains, i. 233), asMichaelis, 
Eichhorn, Ewald, and others suppose. For this village, with 
its pretended tomb of the prophet, has not the smallest trace of 
antiquity about it, and is mentioned for the first time by a monk 
of the sixteenth century, in a letter to Assemani (Biblioth. or. 
i. 525, iii. 1, p. 352). Now, as a tomb of the prophet Jonah is 
also shown in the neighbourhood of Nineveh, the assumption is 
a very natural one, that the name Elkusli did not come from 
the village into the book, but passed from the book to the 
village (Hitzig). The statement of Jerome is older, and much 
more credible, namely, that " Elkosh was situated in Galilee, 
since there is to the present day a village in Galilee called 
Helcessei (others Helcesei, Elcesi), a very small one indeed, and 
containing in its ruins hardly any traces of ancient buildings, 
but one which is well known to the Jews, and was also pointed 
out to me by my guide," inasmuch as he does not simply base 
his statement upon the word of his guide, but describes the 
place as well known to the Jews. This Jewish tradition of the 



birth of Nahum in the Galilsean ElkosJi, or EX;e<7e, \s also 
supported by Cyril of Alex., Ps. Epiphanius, and Ps. Doro- 
theus, although the more precise accounts of the situation of 
the place are confused and erroneous in the two last named. 
We have indeed no further evidence that Nahum sprang out 
of Galilee. The name of the Elkesaites furnishes just as 
little proof of the existence of a place called Elkosh, as the 
name Capernaum, i.e. village of Nahum, of the fact that our 
prophet lived there. Whether the sect of the Elkesaites really 
derived their name from a founder named Elxai or Elkesai, is 
just as questionable as the connection between this Elxai and 
the place called Elkosh ; and the conjecture that Capernaum 
received its name from our prophet is altogether visionary. 
But Jerome s statement is quite sufficient, since it is confirmed 
by the contents of N ah urn s prophecy. Ewald indeed imagines 
that he can see very clearly, from the general colouring of the 
little book, that Nahum did not live in Palestine, but in Assyria, 
and must have seen with his own eyes the danger which threat 
ened Nineveh, from an invasion by powerful foes, as being one 
of the descendants of the Israelites who had formerly been 
transported to Assyria. " It moves," he says, " for example, 
round about Nineveh only, and that with a fulness such as we 
do not find in any other prophecy relating to a foreign nation ; 
and it is quite in a casual manner that it glances at Judah in 
ch. i. 13-ii. 3. There is not a single trace of its having been 
written by Nahum in Judah ; on the contrary, it follows most 
decidedly, from the form given to the words in ch. ii. 1 (ch. i. 
15), as compared with Isa. lii. 7, that he was prophesying at a 
great distance from Jerusalem and Judah." But why should 
not an earlier prophet, who lived in the kingdom of Israel or 
that of Judah, have been able to utter a special prophecy con 
cerning Nineveh, in consequence of a special commission from 
God ? Moreover, it is not merely in a casual manner that 
Nahum glances at Judah ; on the contrary, his whole prophecy 
is meant for Judah ; and his glance at Judah, notwithstanding 
its brevity, assumes, as Umbreit has correctly observed, a very 
important and central position. And the assertion, that there 
is not a single trace in the whole prophecy of Nahum s having 
been in Judah, has been contested with good reason by Maurer, 
Hitzig, and others, who appeal to ch. i. 4 and i. 13-ii. 3, where 


such traces are to be found. On the other hand, if the. book 
had been written by a prophet living in exile, there- would 
surely be some allusions to the situation and circumstances of 
the exiles ; whereas we look in vain for any such allusions in 
Nahum. Again, the acquaintance with Assyrian affairs, to 
which Ewald still further appeals, is no greater than that which 
might have been possessed by any prophet, or even by any 
inhabitant of Judah in the time of Hezekiah, after the repeated 
invasions of Israel and Judah by the Assyrians. "The liveli 
ness of the description runs through the whole book. Chap. i. 
2-14 is not less lively than ch. ii. ; and yet no one would infer 
from the former that. Nahum must have seen with his own- eyes 
all that he sets before our eyes in so magnificent a .picture in 
ch. i. 2 sqq." (Nagelsbach ; Herzog s Cycl.} It is no more a 
fact that " eh. ii. 6 contains such special acquaintance with 
the locality of Nineveh, as- could only be derived from actual 
inspection," than that " ch. . iiv 7 contains the name of the 
Assyrian queen (Huzzab)." Moreover, of the words that are 
peculiar to our prophet, . taphsar (ch. iii. 17) is the only one 
that is even probably Assyrian ; and this is a military term, 
which the Judasans in Palestine may have heard -from Assyrians 
living there. The rest of the supposed Aramasisms, such as 
the suffixes in inniaa ( c h. ii. 4) and naasta (ch. ii. 14), and 
the words Jru, to sigh = njn (ch. ii. 8), "1 TJ < (eh. iii. 2), and 
rrilPfi (ch. ii. 4), may be accounted for from, the Galilaean origin 
of the prophet. Consequently there is no tenable ground what 
ever for the assumption that Nahum lived in exile, and uttered 
his prophecy in the neighbourhood of Nineveh. There is much 
greater reason for inferring, from the many points of coinci 
dence between Nahum and Isaiah (see pp. 6, 7), that he was born 
in Galilee during the Assyrian invasions, and that he emigrated 
to Judaea, where he lived and prophesied. Nothing whatever 
is known of the circumstances of his life* The notices in Ps. 
Epiphan. concerning his- miracles and his death (see O. Strauss, 
Na/tumi de Nino vaticin. expl. p. xii. sq.) can lay no claim to 
truth. Even the period of his life is so much a matter of dis 
pute, that some suppose him to have prophesied under Jehu and 
Jehoahaz, whilst others believe that he did not prophesy till 
the time of Zedekiah ; at the same time it is possible to decide 
this with tolerable certainty from the contents of the book. 


2. THE BOOK or NAHUM contains one extended prophecy 
concerning Nineveh, in which the ruin of that city and of the 
Assyrian world-power is predicted in three strophes, answering 
to the division into chapters ; viz. in ch. i. the divine purpose 
to inflict judgment upon this oppressor of Israel ; in ch. ii. the 
joyful news of the conquest, plundering, and destruction of 
Nineveh ; and in ch. iii. its guilt and its inevitable ruin. These 
are all depicted with pictorial liveliness and perspicuity. Now, 
although this prophecy neither closes w r ith a Messianic prospect, 
nor enters more minutely into the circumstances of the Israel- 
itish kingdom of God in general, it is rounded off within itself, 
and stands in such close relation to Judah, that it may be called 
a prophecy of consolation for that kingdom. The fall of the 
mighty capital of the Assyrian empire, that representative of 
the godless and God-opposing power of the world, which sought 
to destroy the Israelitish kingdom of God, was not only closely 
connected with the continuance and development of the king 
dom of God in Judah, but the connection is very obvious in 
Nahum s prophecy. Even in the introduction (ch. i. 2 sqq.) 
the destruction of Nineveh is announced as a judgment, which 
Jehovah, the zealous God and avenger of evil, executes, and 
in which He proves Himself a refuge to those who trust in 
Him (ch. i. 7). But " those who trust in Him" are not godly 
Gentiles here ; they are rather the citizens of His kingdom, 
viz. the Judseans, upon whom Asshur had laid the yoke of 
bondage, which Jehovah would break (ch. i. 13), so that Judah 
could keep feasts and pay its vows to Him (ch. i. 15). On the 
destruction of Nineveh the Lord returns to the eminence of 
Israel, which the Assyrians have overthrown (ch. ii. 2). Con 
sequently Nineveh is to fall, and an end is to be put to the 
rule and tyranny of Asshur, that the glory of Israel may be 

The unity and integrity of the prophecy are not open to 
any well-founded objection. It is true that Eichhorn, Ewald, 
and De Wette, have questioned the genuineness of the first 
part of the heading (the Massfl of Nineveh), but without suffi 
cient reason, as even Hitzig observes. For there is nothing 
that can possibly astonish us in the fact that the object of the 
prophecy is mentioned first, and then the author. Moreover, 
the words nvw KWV cannot possibly have been added at a later 


period, because the whole of the first half of the prophecy 
would be unintelligible without them ; since Nineveh is not 
mentioned by name till ch. ii. 8, and yet the suffix attached to 
npipo in ch. i. 8 refers to Nineveh, and requires the introduc 
tion of the name of that city in the heading. There is just as 
little force in the arguments with which Hitzig seeks to prove 
that the allusion to the conquest of No-Amon in ch. iii. 8-10 
is a later addition. For the assertion that, if an Assyrian 
army had penetrated to Upper Egypt and taken that city, 
Nahum, when addressing Nineveh, could not have related to 
the Assyrians what had emanated from themselves, without at 
least intimating this, would obviously be well founded only on 
the supposition that the words " Art thou better than No- 
Amon," etc., could be taken quite prosaically as news told to 
the city of Nineveh, and loses all its force, when we see that 
this address is simply a practical turn, with which Nahum 
describes the fate of No-Amon not to the Ninevites, but to 
the Judaeans, as a practical proof that even the mightiest and 
most strongly fortified city could be conquered and fall, when 
God had decreed its ruin. From the lively description of this 
occurrence, we may also explain the change from the third 
person to the second in ch. iii. 95, at which Hitzig still takes 
offence. His other arguments are so subjective and unimpor 
tant, that they require no special refutation. 

With regard to the date of the composition of our prophecy, 
it is evident from the contents that it was not written before, 
but after, the defeat of Sennacherib in front of Jerusalem in 
the reign of Hezekiah, since that event is not only clearly 
assumed, but no doubt furnished the occasion for the pro 
phecy. Asshur had overrun Judah (ch. i. 15), and had severely 
afflicted it (ch. i. 9, 12), yea plundered and almost destroyed 
it (ch. ii. 2). Now, even if neither the words in ch. i. 11, 
" There is one come out of thee, who imagined evil against 
Jehovah," etc., nor those of ch. i. 125, according to the correct 
interpretation, contain any special allusion to Sennacherib and 
his defeat, and if it is still less likely that ch. i. 14 contains an 
allusion to his death or murder (Isa. xxxvii. 38), yet the afflic 
tion (tsdrdh) which Assyria had brought upon Judah (ch. i. 9), 
and the invasion of Judah mentioned in ch. i. 15 and ii. 2, can 
only refer to Sennacherib s expedition, since he was the only one 


of all the kings of Assyria who so severely oppressed Judah as 
to bring it to the very verge of ruin. Moreover, ch. ii. 13, 
" The voice of thy messengers shall no more be heard," is pecu 
liarly applicable to the messengers whom Sennacherib sent to 
Hezekiah, according to Isa. xxxvi. 13 sqq. and xxxvii. 9 sqq., 
to compel the surrender of Jerusalem and get Judah com- 
pletely into his power. But if this is established, it cannot 
have been a long time after the defeat of Sennacherib before 
Jerusalem, when Nahum prophesied ; not only because that 
event was thoroughly adapted to furnish the occasion for such 
a prophecy as the one contained in our prophet s book, and 
because it was an omen of the future and final judgment upon 
Asshur, but still more, because the allusions to the affliction 
brought upon Judah by Sennacherib are of such a kind that it 
must have still continued in the most vivid recollection of the 
prophet and the men of his time. We cannot do anything else, 
therefore, than subscribe to the view expressed by Vitringa, 
viz. that " the date of Nahum must be fixed a very short time 
after Isaiah and Micah, and therefore in the reign of Heze 
kiah, not only after the carrying away of the ten tribes, but 
also after the overthrow of Sennacherib (ch. i. 11, 13), from 
which the argument of the prophecy is taken, and the occasion 
for preaching the complete destruction of Nineveh and the 
kingdom of Assyria" (Typ. doctr. prophet, p. 37). The date 
of the composition of our book cannot be more exactly deter 
mined. The assumption that it was composed before the 
murder of Sennacherib, in the temple of his god Nisroch (Isa. 
xxxvii. 38 ; 2 Kings xix. 37), has no support in ch. i. 14. And 
it is equally impossible to infer from ch. i. 13 and i. 15 that 
our prophecy was uttered in the reign of Manasseh, and occa 
sioned by the carrying away of the king to Babylon (2 Chron. 
xxxiii. 11). 

The relation which exists between this prophecy and those 
of Isaiah is in the most perfect harmony with the composition 
of the former in the second half of the reign of Hezekiah. 
The resemblances which we find between Nahum iii. 5 and 
Isa. xlvii. 2, 3, ch. iii. 7, 10 and Isa. li. 19, 20, ch. i. 15 and 
Isa. Iii. 1 and 7, are of such a nature that Isaiah could just as 
well have alluded to Nahum as Nahum to Isaiah. If Nahum 
composed his prophecy not long after the overthrow of Senna- 


cherib, we must assume that the former was the case. The 
fact that in Nahum i. 8, 13 and iii. 10 there are resemblances 
to Isa. x. 23, 27 and xiii. 16, where our prophet is evidently 
the borrower, furnishes no decisive proof to the contrary. For 
the relation in which prophets who lived and laboured at the 
same time stood to one another was one of mutual giving and 
receiving ; so that it cannot be immediately inferred from the 
fact that our prophet made use of a prophecy of his predecessor 
for his own purposes, that he must have been dependent upon 
him in all his kindred utterances. When, on the other hand, 
Ewald and Hitzig remove our prophecy to a much later period, 
and place it in the time of the later Median wars with Assyria, 
either the time of Phraortes (Herod, i. 102), or that of 
Cyaxares and his first siege of Nineveh (Herod, i. 103), they 
found this opinion upon the unscriptural assumption that it was 
nothing more than a production of human sagacity and poli 
tical conjecture, which could only have been uttered " when a 
threatening expedition against Nineveh was already in full 
operation" (Ewald), and when the danger which threatened 
Nineveh was before his eyes, a view which has its roots in 
the denial of the supernatural character of the prophecy, and 
is altogether destitute of any solid foundation. 

The style of our prophet is not inferior to the classical 
style of Isaiah and Micah, either in power and originality of 
thought, or in clearness and purity of form ; so that, as. E. 
Lowth (De sacr. poesi Hebr. 281) has aptly observed, ex 
omnibus minoribus prophetis nemo videtur cequare sublimitatem, 
ardorem et audaces spiritus Nahumi ; whereas Ewald, according 
to his preconceived opinion as to the prophet s age, " no longer 
finds in this prophet, who already formed one of the later 
prophets, so much inward strength, or purity and fulness of 
thought." For the exegetical writings on the book of Nahum, 
see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 299, 300. 




Jehovah, the jealous God and avenger of evil, before whose 
manifestation of wrath the globe trembles (vers. 2-6), will 
prove Himself a strong tower to His own people by destroying 
Nineveh (vers. 7-11), since He has determined to break the 
yoke which Asshur has laid upon Judah, and to destroy this 
enemy of His people (vers. 12-14). 

Ver. 1. The heading runs thus: "Burden concerning Nine- 
veli; book of the prophecy of Nahum of Elkosh" The first 
sentence gives the substance and object, the second the form 
and author, of the proclamation which follows. KfrD signifies a 
burden, from KBO, to lift up, to carry, to heave. This meaning 
has very properly been retained by Jonathan, Aquila, Jerome, 
Luther, and others, in the headings to the prophetic oracle. 
Jerome observes on Hab. i. 1 : " Massa never occurs in the title, 
except when it is evidently grave and full of weight and labour." 
On the other hand, the LXX. have generally rendered it X^/na 
in the headings to the oracles, or even opao-is, opapa, prjfjia (Isa. 
xiii. sqq., xxx. 6) ; and most of the modern commentators since 
Cocceius and Vitringa, following this example, have attributed 
to the word the meaning of " utterance," and derived it from 
Kfe>3, effari. But K8W has no more this meaning than tip Nl"3 
can mean to utter the voice, either in Ex. xx. 7 and xxiii. 1, to 
which Hupfeld appeals in support of it, or in 2 Kings ix. 25, to 
which others appeal. The same may be said of Nfe>o, which 
never means e/atum, utterance, and is never placed before 
simple announcements of salvation, but only before oracles of 
a threatening nature. Zech. ix. 1 and xii. 1 form no exception 
to this rule. Delitzsch (on Isa. xiii. 1) observes, with regard to 
the latter passage, that the promise has at least a dark foil, and 
in ch. ix. 1 sqq. the heathen nations of the Persian and Mace 
donian world-monarchy are threatened with a divine judgment 
which will break in pieces their imperial glory, and through 
which they are to be brought to conversion to Jehovah ; " and 
it is just in this that the burden consists, which the word of God 
lays upon these nations, that they may be brought to conversion 

CHAP. I. 2, 3. 

through such a judgment from God" (Kliefoth). Even in 
Pro v. xxx. 1 and xxxi. 1 Massa does not mean utterance. The 
words of Agur in Prov. xxx. 1 are a heavy burden, which is 
rolled upon the natural and conceited reason ; they are punitive 
in their character, reproving human forwardness in the strongest 
terms ; and in ch. xxxi. 1 Masstf is the discourse with which 
king Lemuel reproved his mother. For the thorough vindi 
cation of this meaning of Massa , by an exposition of all the 
passages which have been adduced in support of the rendering 
" utterance," see Hengstenberg, Christology, on Zech. ix. 1, and 
O. Strauss on this passage. For Nineveh, see the comm. on 
Jonah i. 2. The burden, i.e. the threatening words, concerning 
Nineveh are defined in the second clause as sepher chdzon^ook of 
the seeing (or of the seen) of Nahum, i.e. of that which Nahum 
saw in spirit and prophesied concerning Nineveh. The unusual 
combination of sepher with chdzon, which only occurs here, is 
probably intended to show that Nahum simply committed his 
prophecy concerning Nineveh to writing, and did not first of 
all announce it orally before the people. On haelqdslil (the 
Elkoshite), see the Introduction. 

Vers. 2-6. The description of the divine justice, and its judi 
cial manifestation on the earth, with which Nahum introduces 
his prophecy concerning Nineveh, has this double object : first 
of all, to indicate the connection between the destruction of the 
capital of the Assyrian empire, which is about to be predicted, 
and the divine purpose of salvation ; and secondly, to cut off at 
the very outset all doubt as to the realization of this judgment. 
Ver. 2. "A God jealous and taking vengeance is Jehovah; an 
avenger is Jehovah, and Lord of wrathful fury ; an avenger is 
Jehovah to His adversaries, and He is One keeping wrath to His 
enemies. Ver. 3. Jehovah is long-suffering and of great strength, 
and He does not acquit of guilt. Jehovah, His way is in the 
storm and in the tempest, and clouds are the dust of His feet." 
The prophecy commences with the words with which God ex 
presses the energetic character of His holiness in the decalogue 
(Ex. xx. 5, cf. xxxiv. 14 ; Deut. iv. 24, v. 9 ; and Josh. xxiv. 
19), where we find the form Ki3|5 for N3j3. Jehovah is a 
jealous God, who turns the burning zeal of His wrath against 
them that hate Him (Deut. vi. 15). His side of the energy of 
the divine zeal predominates here, as the following predicate, 

10 NAHUM. 

the three-times repeated &i?J, clearly shows. The strengthening 
of the idea of noqem involved in the repetition of it three times 
(cf. Jer. vii. 4, xxii. 29), is increased still further by the 
apposition bdal chemdh, possessor of the wrathful heat, equiva 
lent to the wrathful God (cf. Prov. xxix. 22, xxii. 24). The 
vengeance applies to His adversaries, towards whom He bears 
ill-will. Ndtar, when predicated of God, as in Lev. xix. 18 
and Ps. ciii. 9, signifies to keep or bear wrath. God does not 
indeed punish immediately; He is long-suffering (D^as TpN, 
Ex. xxxiv. 6, Num. xiv. 18, etc.). His long-suffering is not 
weak indulgence, however, but an emanation from His love and 
mercy ; for He is g e dol-koach, great in strength (Num. xiv. 17), 
and does not leave unpunished ( til HjM after Ex. xxxiv. 7 and 
Num. xiv. 18 ; see at Ex. xx. 7). His great might to punish 
sinners, He has preserved from of old ; His way is in the storm 
and tempest. With these words Nahum passes over to a de 
scription of the manifestations of divine wrath upon sinners in 
great national judgments which shake the world (iTW as in 
Job ix. 17 = nnyp, which is connected with HSfiD in Isa. xxix. 
6 and Ps. Ixxxiii. 16). These and similar descriptions are 
founded upon the revelations of God, when bringing Israel out 
of Egypt, and at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, when 
the Lord came down upon the mountain in clouds, fire, and 
vapour of smoke (Ex. xix. 16-18). Clouds are the dust of His 
feet. The Lord comes down from heaven in the clouds. As 
man goes upon the dust, so Jehovah goes upon the clouds. 

Ver. 4. " He threateneth the sea, and drieth it up, and maJceth 
all the rivers dry up. Bashan and Carmel fade, and the blossom 
of Lebanon fadeth. Ver. 5. Mountains shake before Him, and 
the hills melt away ; the earth heaveth before Him, and the globe, 
and all the inhabitants thereon. Ver. 6. Before His fury who 
may stand ? and who rise up at the burning of His ivrath ? His 
burning heat poureth itself out like fire, and the rocks are rent in 
pieces by Him." In the rebuking of the sea there is an allusion 
to the drying up of the Red Sea for the Israelites to pass through 
(cf. Ps. cvi. 9) ; but it is generalized here, and extended to 
every sea and river, which the Almighty can smite in His 
wrath, and cause to dry up. *nB>2ii for ^3,^ 9 the vowelless * of 
the third pers. being fused into one with the first radical sound, 
as in FM in Lam. iii. 53 (cf. Ges. 69, Anm. 6, and Ewald 

CHAP. I. 7, 8. 11 

232-3). Bashan, Carmel, and Lebanon are mentioned as 
very fruitful districts, abounding in a vigorous growth of vege 
tation and large forests, the productions of which God could 
suddenly cause to fade and wither in His wrath. Yea more : 
the mountains tremble and the hills melt away (compare the 
similar description in Mic. i. 4, and the explanation given 
there). The earth lifts itself, i.e. starts up from its place (cf. 
Isa. xiii. 13), with everything that dwells upon the surface of 
the globe. Kfrn from KBO, used intransitively, " to rise," as in 
Ps. Ixxxix. 10 and Hos. xiii. 1 ; not conclamat s. tollit vocem 
(J. H. Michaelis, Burk, Strauss). $, lit. the fertile globe, 
always signifies the whole of the habitable earth, 97 oUovfJ&n) ; 
and fin s ?^> not merely the men (Ewald), but all living crea 
tures (cf. Joel i. 18, 20). No one can stand before such divine 
wrath, which pours out like consuming fire (Deut. iv. 24), and 
rends rocks in pieces (1 Kings xix. 11 ; Jer. xxiii. 29 ; cf. Jer. 
x. 10; Mai. iii. 2). 

Vers. 7-11. But the wrath of God does not fall upon those 
who trust in the Lord ; it only falls upon His enemies. With 
this turn Nahum prepares the way in vers. 7 sqq. for pro 
claiming the judgment of wrath upon Nineveh. Yer. 7. " Good 
is Jehovah, a refuge in the day of trouble ; and He knoweih those 
who trust in Him. Ver. 8. And with an overwhelming flood will 
He make an end of her place, and pursue His enemies into dark 
ness? Even in the manifestation of His wrath God proves 
His goodness ; for the judgment, by exterminating the wicked, 
brings deliverance to the righteous who trust in the Lord, out 
of the affliction prepared for them by the wickedness of the 
world. The predicate niD is more precisely defined by the 
apposition U1 ftep, for a refuge = a refuge in time of trouble. 
The goodness of the Lord is seen in the fact that He is a 
refuge in distress. The last clause says to whom : viz. to those 
who trust in Him. They are known by Him. " To know is 
just the same as not to neglect ; or, expressed in a positive 
form, the care or providence of God in the preservation of the 
faithful" (Calvin). For the fact, compare Ps. xxxiv. 9, xlvi. 2, 
Jer. xvi. 19. And because the Lord is a refuge to His people, 
He will put an end to the oppressor of His people, viz. Nineveh, 
the capital of the Assyrian empire, and that with an over 
whelming flood. Slietephi overwhelming, is a figure denoting 

1 2 NAHUM. 

the judgment sweeping over a land or kingdom, through the 
invasion of hostile armies (cf. Lsa. viii. 7 ; Dan. xi. 26, 40). 
"12 y, overflowed by a river (cf. Isa. viii. 8 ; Hab. iii. 10 ; Dan. 
xi. 40). r6a n7 ? to put an end to anything, as in Isa. x. 23. 
noipo is the accusative of the object : make her place a vanish 
ing one. rfe, the fern, of rfa, an adjective in a neuter sense, 
that which is vanishing away. The suffix in PiioipD refers to 
Nineveh in the heading (ver. 1) : either Nineveh, personified 
as a queen (ch. ii. 7, iii. 4), is distinguished from her seat 
(Hitzig) ; or what is much more simple, the city itself is meant, 
and " her place" is to be understood in this sense, that with the 
destruction of the city even the place where it stood would 
cease to be the site of a city, with which Marck aptly com 
pares the phrase, " its place knoweth man no more" (Job 
vii. 10, viii. 18, xx. 9). VJjfc are the inhabitants of Nineveh, 
or the Assyrians generally, as the enemies of Israel. 1f^T"*Pn^ 
not darkness will pursue its enemies ; for this view is irrecon 
cilable with the makkeph; but to pursue with darkness, choshekh 
being an accusative either of place or of more precise definition, 
used in an instrumental sense. The former is the simpler view, 
and answers better to the parallelism of the clauses. As the 
city is to vanish and leave no trace behind, so shall its inhabit 
ants perish in darkness. 

The reason for all this is assigned in vers. 9 sqq. Ver. 9. 
" What think ye of Jehovah ? He makes an end ; the affliction 
ivill not arise twice. Ver. 10. For though they be twisted together 
like thorns, and as if intoxicated with their wine, they shall be 
devoured like dry stubble. Ver. 11. From thee has one come out, 
who meditated evil against Jehovah, who advised worthlessness" 
The question in ver. 9a is not addressed to the enemy, viz. the 
Assyrians, as very many commentators suppose : " What do 
ye meditate against Jehovah?" For although chdshabh el is 
used in Hos. vii. 15 for a hostile device with regard to Jehovah, 
the supposition that el is used here for *al 9 according to a later 
usage of the language, is precluded by the fact that *?% 2wn is 
actually used in this sense in ver. 11. Moreover, the last 
clause does not suit this view of the question. The words, 
" the affliction will not stand up, or not rise up a second time," 
cannot refer to the Assyrians, or mean that the infliction of a 
second judgment upon Nineveh will be unnecessary, because 

CHAP. I. 9-11. 13 

the city will utterly fall to the ground in the first judgment, 
and completely vanish from the earth (Hitzig). For nny 
points back to rnv DV3, and therefore must be the calamity 
which has fallen upon Judah, or upon those who trust in the 
Lord, on the part of Nineveh or Asshur (Marck, Maurer, and 
Strauss). This is confirmed by ver. 11 and ch. i. 15, where 
this thought is definitely expressed. Consequently the question, 
" What think ye with regard to Jehovah ? " can only be ad 
dressed to the Judseans, and must mean, " Do ye think that 
Jehovah cannot or will not fulfil His threat upon Nineveh?" 
(Cyr., Marck, Strauss.) The prophet addresses these words 
to the anxious minds, which were afraid of fresh invasions on 
the part of the Assyrians. To strengthen their confidence, he 
answers the question proposed, by repeating the thought ex 
pressed in ver. 8. He (Jehovah) is making an end, sc. of the 
enemy of His people ; and he gives a further reason for this 
in ver. 10. The participial clauses D" 1 "}" 1 ? "W to D fctfQp are to 
be taken conditionally : are (or were) they even twisted like 
thorns. D^p *W, to thorns = as thorns pJ> is given correctly 
by J. H. Michaelis : eo usque ut spinas perplexitate cequent ; 
compare Ewald, 219). The comparison of the enemy to 
thorns expresses u firmatum callidwnque nocendi studium" 
(Marck), and has been well explained by Ewald thus : " crisp, 
crafty, and cunning ; so that one would rather not go near 
them, or have anything to do with them" (cf. 2 Sam. xxiii. 6 
and Mic. vii. 4). D ^QD DK3D3, not " wetted like their wet" 
(Hitzig), nor " as it were drowned in wine, so that fire can 
do no more harm to them than to anything else that is wet " 
(Ewald) ; for NJD neither means to wet nor to drown, but to 
drink, to carouse ; and NUD means drunken, intoxicated. &ob 
is strong unmixed wine (see Delitzsch on Isa. i. 22). u Their 
wine" is the wine which they are accustomed to drink. The 
simile expresses the audacity and hardiness with which the 
Assyrians regarded themselves as invincible, and applies -very 
w r ell to the gluttony and revelry which prevailed at the Assyrian 
court ; even if the account given by Diod. Sic. (ii. 26), that 
when Sardanapalus had three times defeated the enemy besieg 
ing Nineveh, in his great confidence in his own good fortune, 
he ordered a drinking carousal, in the midst of which the enemy, 
who had been made acquainted with the fact, made a fresh 

14 NAHUM. 

attack, and conquered Nineveh, rests upon a legendary dressing 
up of the facts. I^3K, devoured by fire, is a figure signifying 
utter destruction ; and the perfect is prophetic, denoting what 
will certainly take place. Like dry stubble : cf . Isa. v. 24, 
xlvii. 14, and Joel ii. 5. K^O is not to be taken, as Ewald sup 
poses ( 279, a), as strengthening t?3J, " fully dry," but is to be 
connected with the verb adverbially, and is simply placed at the 
end of the sentence for the sake of emphasis (Ges., Maurer, 
and Strauss). This will be the end of the Assyrians, because 
he who meditates evil against Jehovah has come forth out of 
Nineveh. In "SJBO Nineveh is addressed, the representative of 
the imperial power of Assyria, which set itself to destroy the 
Israelitish kingdom of God. It might indeed be objected to 
this explanation of the verse, that the words in vers. 126 and 13 
are addressed to Zion or Judah, whereas Nineveh or Asshur is 
spoken of both in what precedes (vers. 8 and 10) and in what 
follows (ver. 12a) in the third person. On this ground Hoelem. 
and Strauss refer ^JtM? also to Judah, and adopt this explanation : 
" from thee (Judah) will the enemy who has hitherto oppressed 
thee have gone away" (taking N as fut. exact., and ft? NJP as in 
Isa. xlix. 17). But this view does not suit the context. After 
the utter destruction of the enemy has been predicted in 
ver. 10, we do not expect to find the statement that it will 
have gone away from Judah, especially as there is nothing said 
in what precedes about any invasion of Judah. The medita 
tion of evil against Jehovah refers to the design of the Assyrian 
conquerors to destroy the kingdom of God in Israel, as the 
Assyrian himself declares in the blasphemous words which 
Isaiah puts into the mouth of Kabshakeh (Isa. xxxvi. 14-20), 
to show the wicked pride of the enemy. This address merely 
expresses the feeling cherished at all times by the power of the 
world towards the kingdom of God. It is in the plans devised 
for carrying this feeling into action that the ^$3 ftfj, the ad 
vising of worthlessness, consists. This is the only meaning that 
Sgppa has, not that of destruction. 

Vers. 12-14. The power of Nineveh will be destroyed, to 
break the yoke laid upon Judah. Ver. 12. " Thus saith 
Jehovah, Though they be unconsinned, and therefore numerous, 
yet are they thus mowed down, and have passed away. I have 
bowed thee down, I will bow thee down no more. Ver. 13. And 

CHAP. I. 12-14. 15 

now shall I IreaJc Ids yoke from off thee, and break tliy fetters in 
pieces. Ver. 14. And Jehovah, hath given commandment con 
cerning thee, no more of thy name will be sown : from the house 
of thy God I cut off graven image and molten work : I prepare 
thy grave ; for thou art found light" To confirm the threat 
expressed in vers. 8-11, Nahum explains the divine purpose more 
fully. Jehovah hath spoken : the completeness and strength 
of her army will be of no help to Nineveh. It is mowed 
down, because Judah is to be delivered from its oppressor. 
The words &y?W to "OJfl refer to the enemy, the warlike hosts 
of Nineveh, which are to be destroyed notwithstanding their 
great and full number. Shdlem, integer, w r ith strength undimi- 
nished, both outwardly and inwardly, i.e. both numerous and 
strong. D 11 ^"} |31, and so, i.e. of such a nature, just because they 
are of full number, or numerous, HfaJ 1 ? and so, i.e. although 
of such a nature, they will nevertheless be mowed down. Tt3, 
taken from the mowing of the meadows, is a figure denoting 
complete destruction. "OJfl is not impersonal, actum est, sc. de 
Us, but signifies it is away, or has vanished. The singular 
is used with special emphasis, the numerous army being all 
embraced in the unity of one man : " he paints the whole 
people as vanishing away, just as if one little man were carried 
off" (Strauss). With Sinajfl the address turns to Judah. The 
words are not applicable to the Assyrians, to whom Abar- 
banel, Grotius, Ewald, and Hitzig refer this clause; for Asshur 
is not only bowed down or chastened, but utterly destroyed. 
!jn3y refers to the oppression which Judah had suffered from 
the Assyrians in the time of Ahaz and Hezekiah. This shall 
not be repeated, as has already been promised in ver. 96. For 
now will the Lord break the yoke which this enemy has laid 
upon Judah. nnyi, but now, is attached adversatively to ^]W. 
The suffix to inttb refers to the enemy, which has its seat in 
Nineveh. For the figure of the yoke, cf. Lev. xxvi. 13, Jer. 
xxvii. 2, xxviii. 10, Ezek. xxxiv. 27, etc. ; and for the fact itself, 
Isa. x. 27. The words do not refer to the people of the ten 
tribes, who were pining like slaves in exile (Hitzig) ; for 
Nahum makes no allusion to them at all, but to Judah (cf. ch. 
i. 15), upon whom the Assyrians had laid the yoke of tribute 
from the time of Ahaz. This was first of all shaken off in the 
reign of Hezekiah, through the overthrow of Sennacherib ; but 

16 NAHUM. 

it was not yet completely broken, so long as there was a pos 
sibility that Assyria might rise again with new power, as in 
fact it did in the reign of Manasseh, when Assyrian generals 
invaded Judah and carried off this king to Babylon (2 Chron. 
xxxiii. 11). It was only broken when the Assyrian power was 
overthrown through the conquest and destruction of Nineveh. 
This view, which is required by the futures eshbor and dnatteq, 
is confirmed by ver. 14, for there the utter extermination of 
Assyria is clearly expressed. V e tsivvdk is not a perfect with 
Vav rel.; but the Vav is a simple copula: " and (= for) Jehovah 
has commanded." The perfect refers to the divine purpose, 
which has already been formed, even though its execution is 
still in the future. This purpose runs thus : " Of thy seed 
shall no more be sown, i.e. thou wilt have no more descendants" 
("the people and name are to become extinct," Strauss; cf. Isa. 
xiv. 20). It is not the king of Assyria who is here addressed, 
but the Assyrian power personified as a single man, as we may 
see from what follows, according to which the idols are to be 
rooted out along with the seed from the house of God, i.e. out 

O 7 

of the idol temples (cf. Isa. xxxvii. 38, xliv. 13). Pesel and 
massekhdh are combined, as in Deut. xxvii. 15, to denote every 
kind of idolatrous image. For the idolatry of Assyria, see 
Layard s Nineveh and its Remains, ii. p. 439 sqq. *P?i? D^ N 
cannot mean, " I make the temple of thy god into a grave," 
although this meaning has already been expressed in the 
Chaldee and Syriac ; and the Masoretic accentuation, which 
connects the words with what precedes, is also founded upon 
this view. If an object had to be supplied to D^K from the 
context, it must be pesel umassekhdh ; but there would be no 
sense in " I make thine idol into a grave." There is no other 
course left, therefore, than to take TOP as the nearest and 

v ? 

only object to B^K, " I lay, i.e. prepare thy grave," nftj? ^ 
because, when weighed according to thy moral worth (Job 
xxxi. 6), thou hast been found light (cf. Dan. v. 27). Hence 
the widespread opinion, that the murder of Sennacherib (Isa. 
xxxvii. 38 ; 2 Kings xix. 37) is predicted here, must be rejected 
as erroneous and irreconcilable with the words, and not even 
so far correct as that Nahum makes any allusion to that event. 
He simply announces the utter destruction of the Assyrian 
power, together with its idolatry, upon which that power rested. 

CHAP. I. 15. 17 

Jehovah has prepared a grave for the people and their idols, 
because they have been found light when weighed in the 
balances of righteousness. 

CHAP i. 15-n. 13 (HEB. BIB. CHAP. n.). 

Jehovah sends a powerful and splendid army against 
Nineveh, to avenge the disgrace brought upon Judah and 
restore its glory (i. 15-ii. 4). The city is conquered; its 
inhabitants flee or wander into captivity ; the treasures are 
plundered (vers. 5-10) ; and the powerful city perishes with 
all its glory, and leaves not a trace behind (vers. 11-13). 

Ch. i. 15-ii. 4. Judah hears the glad tidings, that its 
oppressor is utterly destroyed. A warlike army marches 
against Nineveh, which that city cannot resist, because the 
Lord will put an end to the oppression of His people. Ch. i. 
15. " Behold, upon the mountains the feet of the messengers of 
joy, proclaiming salvation ! Keep thy feasts, Judah ; pay thy 
vows : for the worthless one will no more go through thee ; he is 
utterly cut off" The destruction of the Assyrian, announced 
in ch. i. 14, is so certain, that Nahum commences the descrip 
tion of its realization with an appeal to Judah, to keep joyful 
feasts, as the miscreant is utterly cut off. The form in which 
he utters this appeal is to point to messengers upon the moun 
tains, who are bringing the tidings of peace to the kingdom 
of Judah. The first clause is applied in Isa. lii. 7 to the de 
scription of the Messianic salvation. The messengers of joy 
appear upon the mountains, because their voice can be heard 
far and wide from thence. The mountains are those of the 
kingdom of Judah, and the allusion to the feet of the messen 
gers paints as it were for the eye the manner in which they 
hasten on the mountains with the joyful news. "i&?p is collec 
tive, every one who brings the glad tidings. Shalom, peace 
and salvation : here both in one. The summons, to keep feasts, 
etc., proceeds from the prophet himself, and is, as Ursinus 
says, " partim gratidatoria, partim exhortatoria" The former, 
because the feasts could not be properly kept during the 


18 NAHUM. 

oppression by the enemy, or at any rate could not be visited 
by those who lived at a distance from the temple ; the latter, 
because the chagglm, i.e. the great yearly feasts, were feasts 
of thanksgiving for the blessings of salvation, which Israel 
owed to the Lord, so that the summons to celebrate these 
feasts involved the admonition to thank the Lord for His 
mercy in destroying the hostile power of the world. This 
is expressed still more clearly in the summons to pay their 
vows. fy&*i abstract for concrete = v3 B*K, as in 2 Sam. 
xxiii. 6 and Job xxxiv. 18. JTJ3? is not a participle, but a 
perfect in pause. 

With ch. ii. 1 the prophecy turns to Nineveh. Ver. 1. (C A 
dasher in pieces comes against thee. Keep tliy fortress ! Look 
out upon the way, fortify the loins, exert thy strength greatly ! 
Ver. 2. For Jehovah returneth to the eminence of Jacob as to the 
eminence of Israel ; for plunderers have plundered them, and their 
vines have they thrown to the ground" :fJB"vy cannot be ad 
dressed to Judah, as in i. 15 (Chald., Eashi, etc.). It cannot 
indeed be objected that in ch. i. 15 the destruction of Asshur 
has already been announced, since the prophet might neverthe 
less have returned to the time when Asshur had made war upon 
Judah, in order to depict its ruin with greater precision. But 
such an assumption does not agree with the second clause of the 
verse as compared with ver. 2, and still less with the descrip 
tion of the approaching enemy which follows in ver. 3, since 
this is unquestionably, according to ver. 5, the power advancing 
against Nineveh, and destroying that city. We must therefore 
assume that we have here a sudden change in the person ad 
dressed, as in ch. i. 11 and 12, 13 and 14. The enemy is called 
P?B, " a dasher in pieces ;" not a war-hammer (cf. frov. xxv. 
18), because rpjf, the standing expression for the advance of a 
hostile army, does not agree with this. ^?~^, against thy face, 
i.e. pitching his tent opposite to the city (there is no good reason 
for altering the suffix into T?.?, as Ewald and Hitzig propose). 
Against this enemy Nineveh is to bring all possible power of 
resistance. This is not irony, but simply a poetical turn given 
to the thought, that Nineveh will not be able to repulse this 
enemy any more. The inf. abs. ndtsor stands emphatically for 
the imperative, as is frequently the case, and is continued in 
the imperative. M e tsurdh is the enclosure of a city, hence the 

CHAP. IE 1, 2; 18 

wall or fortification; TpTTiBS, looking watchfully upon -the 
way by which the enemy comes, to repulse it or prevent it from 
entering the city. B p-fH, make the loins strong, i.e. equip thy 
self with strength, the loins being the seat of strength. The 
last clause expresses the same thought, and is merely added to 
strengthen the meaning. The explanatory kl in ven 2 s (3) 
does not follow upon ver. Ib in the sense of "summon up all 
thy strength, for it is God in whose strength the enemy fights" 
(Strauss), but to ver. la or ch. i. 156. The train of thought is 
the following : Asshur will be utterly destroyed by the enemy 
advancing against Nineveh, for Jehovah will re-establish the 
glory of Israel, which Asshur has destroyed. 2W (perf. proph.) 
has not the force of the hiphil, reducere, restituere, either here 
or in Ps. Ixxxv. 5 and Isa. Hi. 8, and other passages, where the 
modern lexicons give it, but means to turn round, or return to a 
person, and is construed with the accusative, as in Num. x. 36, 
Ex. iv. 20, and Gen. 1. 14, although in actual fact the return 
of Jehovah to the eminence of Jacob involves its restoration. 
2 fe fltff, that of which Jacob is proud, i.e. the eminence and 
greatness or glory accruing to Israel by virtue of its election to 
be the nation of God, which the enemy into whose power it had 
been given up on account of its rebellion^ against God had taken 
away (see at Amos vi. 8). Jacob does- not stand for Judah, nor 
Israel for the ten tribes^ for Nahum never refers to the ten 
tribes in distinction from Judah ; and Ob. 18, where Jacob is 
distinguished from the house of Joseph, is of a totally different 
character. Both names stand here for the whole of Israel (of 
the twelve tribes), and, as Cyril has shown, the distinction is 
this : Jacob is the natural name which the people inherited from 
their forefather, and Israel the spiritual name which they had 
received from God. Strauss gives the meaning correctly thus : 
Jehovah will so return to the eminence of His people, who 
are named after Jacofy that this eminence shall become the 
eminence of Israel, i.e. of the people of God ; in other words, 
He will exalt the nation once more to the lofty eminence of 
its divine calling (3 used in the same -manner as in 1 Sam. 
xxv. 36). This will He do, because plunderers have plundered 
(bdqaq, evacuare) them (the Israelites), and destroyed their 
vines, cast them to the ground ; that He may avenge the re 
proach cast upon His people.. The plunderers are the heathen 

20 NAHUM. 

nations, especially the Assyrians. The vines are the Israelites ; 
Israel as a people or kingdom is the vineyard (Isa. v. 1 ; Jer. 
xii. 10 ; Ps. Ixxx. 9 sqq.) ; the vines are the families, and the 
branches (z e mdrlm from z e mordh) the members. 

After assigning this reason for the divine purpose con 
cerning Asshur, the prophet proceeds in vers. 3 sqq. to depict 
the army advancing towards Nineveh, viz. in ver. 3 its appear 
ance, and in ver. 4 the manner in which it sets itself in motion 
for battle. Ver. 3. " The shield of His heroes is made red, the 
valiant men are clothed in crimson : in the fire of the steel-bosses 
are the chariots, on the day of His equipment ; and the cypresses 
are swung about. Ver. 4. The chariots rave in the streets, they run 
over one another on the roads; their appearance is like the torches, 
they run about like lightning" The suffix attached to gibborehu 
(His heroes) might be taken as referring to mephlts in ver. 1 
(2) ; but it is more natural to refer it to Jehovah in ver. 2 
(3), as having summoned the army against Nineveh (cf. Isa. 
xiii. 3). The shields are reddened, i.e. not radiant (Ewald), 
but coloured with red, and that not with the blood of enemies 
who have been slain (Aberbanel and Grotius), but either with 
red colour with which they are painted, or what is still more 
probable, with the copper with which they are overlaid : see 
Josephus, Ant. xiii. 12, 5 (Hitzig). ^H" 1 ^^ are not fighting 
men generally, i.e. soldiers, but brave men, heroes (cf. Judg. 
iii. 29, 1 Sam. xxxi. 12, 2 Sam. xi. 16, equivalent to b e ne chayil 
in 1 Sam. xviii. 17, etc.). E^^P, air. ^7., a denom. of jAifl, 
coccus : clothed in coccus or crimson. The fighting dress of 
the nations of antiquity was frequently blood-red (see ^Eliani, 
Var. hist. vi. 6). 1 The air. \ey. p e lddoth is certainly not used 
for lappldim, torches ; but in both Arabic and Syriac palddh 
signifies steel (see Ges. Lex.). But p e lddoth are not scythes, 
which would suggest the idea of scythe-chariots (Michaelis, 
Ewald, and others) ; for scythe-chariots were first introduced 
by Cyrus, and were unknown before his time to the Medes, 
the Syrians, the Arabians, and also to the ancient Egyptians 
(see at Josh. xvii. 16). P e lddoth probably denotes the steel 
covering of the chariots, as the Assyrian war-chariots were 

1 Valerius observes on this : " They used Poenic tunics in battle, to 
disguise and hide the blood of their wounds, not lest the sight of it should 
fill .them with alarm, but lest it should inspire the enemy with confidence." 

CHAP. II. 3, 4. 21 

adorned according to the monuments with ornaments of metal. 1 
The army of the enemy presents the appearance described 
irpn Di^ in the day of his equipment. I" 1 - 3 ?, to prepare, used 
of the equipping of an army for an attack or for battle, as 
in Jer. xlvi. 14, Ezek. vii. 14, xxxviii. 7. The suffix refers 
to Jehovah, like that in irrniaii ; compare Isa. xiii. 4, where 
Jehovah raises an army for war with Babylon. Habb e r6shlm, 
the cypresses, are no doubt lances or javelins made of cypress- 
wood (Grotius and others), not magnates (Chald., Kimchi, and 
others), or viri hastati. v|nn, to be swung, or brandished, in 
the hands of the warriors equipped for battle. The army 
advances to the assault (ver. 4), and presses into the suburbs. 
The chariots rave (go mad) in the streets. <^ " ?> tc behave 
one s self foolishly, to rave, used here as in Jer. xlvi. 9 for mad 
driving, or driving with insane rapidity (see 2 Kings ix. 20). 
PBipwrij hithpalel of pj?S?, to run (Joel ii. 9) ; in the intensive 
form, to run over one another, i.e. to run in such a way that 
they appear as though they would run over one another, rritfin 
and ntorn are roads and open spaces, not outside the city, but 
inside (cf. Amos v. 16 ; Ps. cxliv. 13, 14 ; Prov. i. 20), and, 
indeed, as we may see from what follows, in the suburbs sur 
rounding the inner city or citadel. Their appearance (viz. 
that of the chariots as they drive raving about) is like torches. 
The feminine suffix to ftWD can only refer to M"^, notwith 
standing the fact that elsewhere 35*1 is always construed as a 
masculine, and that it is so here in the first clauses. For the 
suffix cannot refer to ntarn (Hoelem. and Strauss), because 
lyyj i s tne subject in the following clause as well as in the 
two previous ones. The best way probably is to take it as a 
neuter, so that it might refer not to the chariots only, but to 
everything in and upon the chariots. The appearance of the 

1 "The chariots of the Assyrians," says Strauss, "as we see them on 
the monuments, glare with shining things, made either of iron or steel, 
battle-axes, bows, arrows, and shields, and all kinds of weapons ; the horses 
are also ornamented with crowns and red fringes, and even the poles of the 
carriages are made resplendent with shining suns and moons : add to these 
the soldiers in armour riding in the chariots ; and it could not but be the 
case, that when illumined by the rays of the sun above them, they would 
have all the appearance of flames as they flew hither and thither with 
great celerity." Compare also the description of the Assyrian war- 
chariots giver by Layard in his Nineveh and its Remains, vol. ii. p. 348 

22 UAHU3I. 

chariots, as they drove about with the speed of lightning, 
richly ornamented with bright metal (see on ver. 3), and 
occupied by warriors in splendid clothes and dazzling armour, 
might very well be compared to torches and flashing lightning. 
IT 1 , pilel of pf) (not pod of pn, Judg. x. 8), cursitare, used of 
their driving with lightning-speed. 

Vers. 5-10. The Assyrian tries to repel this attack, but 
all in vain, Ver. 5. " lie remembers his glorious ones : they 
stumble in their -paths ; ^they hasten to the wall of it, and the 
tortoise is set up. Ver. 6. The ,gates are opened in the rivers, 
and the palace is dissolved. Ver. 7. It is determined : she is 
laid bare, carried off, and her maids groan like the cry of doves, 
smiting on their breasts" On the approach of the war-chariots 
of the enemy to the attack, the Assyrian remembers his generals 
and warriors, who may possibly be able to defend the city and 
drive back the foe. That the subject changes with yizkor, is 
evident from the change in the number, i.e. from the singular 

O * o 

as compared with the plurals in vers. 3 and 4, and is placed 
beyond the reach of doubt by the contents of vers. 5 sqq., which 
show that the reference is to the attempt to defend the city. 
The subject to yizkor is the Assyrian .(^yB, ver. 1), or the king 
of Asshur (ch. iii. 18). He remembers his glorious ones, i.e. 
remembers that he has addlrlm, i.e. not merely generals (/jueyia- 
Taz/es, LXX.), but good soldiers, including the generals (as in 
ch. iii. 18, Judg. v. 13, Neh. iii. 5). He sends for them, but 
they stumble in their paths. From terror at the violent assault 
of the foe, their knees lose their tension (the plural hdWioth is 
not to be corrected into the singular according to the keri, as 
the word always occurs in the plural). They hasten to the wall 
of it (Nineveh) ; there is "ns sn set up : i.e. literally the covering 
one, not the defender, presidium militare (Hitzig), but the 
tortoise, testudo. 1 The prophet s description passes rapidly from 

1 Not, however, the tortoise formed by the shields of the soldiers, held 
close together above their heads (Liv. xxxiv. 9), since these are never 
found upon the Assyrian monuments (vid. Layard), but a kind of batter 
ing-ram, of which there are several different kinds, either a moveable 
tower, with a battering-ram, consisting of a light framework, covered with 
basket-work, or else a framework without any tower, either with an orna 
mented covering, or simply covered with skins, and moving upon four or 
six wheels. See the description, with illustrations, in Layard s Nineveh, ii. 
pp. 366-370, and Strauss s commentary on this passage. 

CHAP. II. 5-7. 23 

the assault upon the city wall to the capture of the city itself 
(ver. 6). The opened or opening gates of the rivers are neither 
those approaches to the city which were situated on the bank 
of the Tigris, and were opened by the overflowing of the river, 
in support of which appeal has been made to the statement 
of Diodor. Sic. ii. 27, that the city wall was destroyed for 
the space of twenty stadia by the overflowing of the Tigris ; 
for " gates of the rivers" cannot possibly stand for gates 
opened by rivers. Still less can it be those roads of the city 
which led to the gates, and which were flooded with people 
instead of water (Hitzig), or with enemies, who were pressing 
from the gates into the city like overflowing rivers (Eos.) ; nor 
even gates through which rivers flow, i.e. sluices, namely those 
of the concentric canals issuing from the Tigris, with which 
the palace could be laid under water (Vatabl., Burck, Hitzig, 
ed. 1) ; but as Luther renders it, " gates on the waters," i.e. 
situated on the rivers, or gates in the city wall, which were 
protected by the rivers ; " gates most strongly fortified, both 
by nature and art" (Tuch, de Nino urbe, p. 67, Strauss, and 
others), for rfhdroth must be understood as signifying the Tigris 
and its tributaries and canals. At any rate, there were such 
gates in Nineveh, since the city, which stood at the junction of 
the Khosr with the Tigris, in the slope of the (by no means 
steep) rocky bank, was to some extent so built in the alluvium, 
that the natural course of the Khosr had to be dammed off from 
the plain chosen for the city by three stone dams, remnants of 
which are still to be seen ; and a canal was cut above this 
point, which conducted the water to the plain of the city, where 
it was turned both right and left into the city moats, but had 
a waste channel through the city. To the south, however, 
another small collection of waters helped to fill the trenches. 
" The wall on the side towards the river consisted of a slightly 
curved line, which connected together the mouths of the 
trenches, but on the land side it was built at a short distance 
from the trenches. The wall on the river side now borders 
upon meadows, which are only flooded at high water ; but the 
soil has probably been greatly elevated, and at the time when 
the city was built this was certainly river" (see M. v. Niebuhr, 
Geschichte Assurs u. Babels, p. 280 ; and the outlines of the 
plan of the ground on which Nineveh stood, p. 284). The 

24 NAHUM. 

\vords of the prophet are not to be understood as referring to 
any particular gate, say the western, either alone, or par excel 
lence, as Tuch supposes, but apply quite generally to the gates 
of the city, since the rivers are only mentioned for the purpose* 
of indicating the strength of the gates. As Luther has cor 
rectly explained it, " the gates of the rivers, however firm in 
other respects, and with no easy access, will now be easily 
occupied, yea, have been already opened." The palace melts 
away, not, however, from the floods of water which flow through 
the open gates. This literal rendering of the words is irreconcil 
able with the situation of the palaces in Nineveh, since they were 
built in the form of terraces upon the tops of hills, either natural 
or artificial, and could not be flooded with water. The words 
are figurative. Mug, to melt, dissolve, i.e. to vanish through 
anxiety and alarm ; and ?5^, the palace, for the inhabitants 
of the palace. " When the gates, protected by the rivers, are 
broken open by the enemy, the palace, i.e. the reigning Nineveh, 
vanishes in terror" (Hitzig). For her sway has now come to an 
end. 3Sfn : the Jiophal of 3VJ, in the hiphil, to establish, to deter 
mine (Deut. xxxii. 8 ; Ps. Ixxiv. 17 ; and Chald. Dan. ii. 45, vi. 
13) ; hence it is established, i.e. is determined, sc. by God : she 
will be made bare ; i.e. Nineveh, the queen, or mistress of the 
nations, will be covered with shame, nrtea is not to be taken 

* T \ 

as interchangeable with the Jiophal rvin, to be carried away, 
but means to be uncovered, after the piel to uncover, sc. the 
shame or nakedness (ch. iii. 5 ; cf. Isa. xlvii. 2, 3 ; Hos. ii. 12). 
"V^h, for i"6yn (see Ges. 63, Anm. 4), to be driven away, or 
led away, like the niph. in Jer. xxxvii. 11, 2 Sam. ii. 27. 1 The 
laying bare and carrying away denote the complete destruction 
of Nineveh. !J nftK, ancillce ejus, i.e. Nini. The " maids" of 
the city of Nineveh personified as a queen are not the states 

1 Of the different explanations that have been given of this hemistich, 
the supposition, which dates back as far as the Chaldee, that Tiuzzab sig 
nifies the queen, or is the name of the queen (Ewald and Riickert), is 
destitute of any tenable foundation, and is no better than Hitzig s fancy, 
that we should read u^rn, u and the lizard is discovered, fetched up," and 
that this " reptile" is Nineveh. The objection offered to our explanation, 
viz. that it would only be admissible if it were immediately followed by th<s 
decretum divinum in its full extent, and not merely by one portion of it, 
rests upon a misinterpretation of the following words, which do not con 
tain merely a portion of the purpose of God. 

CHAP. II. 8-10. 25 

subject to her rule (Theodor., Cyr., Jerome, and others), for 
throughout this chapter Nineveh is spoken of simply as the 
capital of the Assyrian empire, but the inhabitants of Nineveh, 
who are represented as maids, mourning over the fate of their 
mistress. Ndhag, to pant, to sigh, for which lidgdh is used in 
other passages where the cooing of doves is referred to (cf. Isa. 
xxxviii. 14, lix. 11). D ?^ ^P? instead of D^ 5 ?, probably to 
express the loudness of the moaning. TophSpk, to smite, used 
for the smiting of the timbrels in Ps. Ixviii. 26 ; here, to smite 
upon the breast. Compare pectus pugnis ccedere, or palmis 
infestis tundere (e.g. Juv. xiii. 167 ; Virg. dEn. i. 481, and other 
passages), as an expression of violent agony in deep mourning 
(cf. Luke xviii. 13, xxiii. 27). |rm5> for JTO:6 is the plural, 
although this is generally written nis ; and as the is fre 
quently omitted as a sign of the plural (cf. Ewald, 258, a), 
there is no good ground for reading I????, as Hitzig proposes. 

Vers. 8-10. At the conquest of Nineveh the numerous in 
habitants flee, and the rich city is plundered. Ver. 8. " And 
Nineveh like a water-pond all her days. And they flee ! Stand 
ye, stand ! and no one turns round. Ver. 9. Take silver as 
booty, take ye gold ! A nd no end to the furnishing with immense 
quantity of all kinds of ornamental vessels. Ver. 10. Emptying 
and devastation ! and the heart has melted, and trembling of the 
knees, and labour pain in all loins, and the countenance of every 
one withdraws its ruddiness" Nineveh is compared to a pool, 
not merely with reference to the multitude of men who had 
gathered together there, but, as water is everywhere an element 
of life, also with reference to the wealth and prosperity which 
accrued to this imperial city out of the streaming together of 
so many men and so many different peoples. Compare Jer. li. 
13, where Babel is addressed as " Thou that dwellest on many 
waters, art rich in many treasures." NT] Wto, since the days 
that she exists, ion = ton "il^N, the relation being indicated by 
the construct state ; wn jp in Isa. xviii. 2 is different. But they 
flee. The subject to D^pJ is not the waters, although nus is 
applied to water in Ps. civ. 7, but, as what follows shows, the 
masses of men who are represented as water. These flee away 
without being stopped by the cry u Stand ye" (i.e. remain), or 
even paying any attention to it. Hiphndh, lit. " to turn the 
back" (oreph, Jer. xlviii. 39), to flee, but when applied to a 

2(> NAHUM. 

person already fleeing, to turn round (cf. Jer. xlvi. 5). In 
ver. 9 the conquerors are summoned to plunder, not by their 
generals, but by God, who speaks through the prophet. The 
fact is hereby indicated, " that this does not happen by chance, 
but because God determines to avenge the injuries inflicted 
upon His people" (Calvin). With n*j3 pl the prophecy 
passes into a simple description. There is no end latt e khundh, 
to the furnishing with treasures. T e khiindh, from kun 9 not 
from tdkhan, lit. the setting up, the erection of a building 
(Ezek. xliii. 11) ; here the furnishing of Nineveh as the dwell 
ing-place of the rulers of the world, whilst in Job xxiii. 3 it is 
applied to the place where the throne of God has been estab 
lished. In "123 the ? might be thought of as still continuing 
in force (Ewald, Hitzig), but it answers better to the liveliness 
of the description to take ^23 as beginning a fresh sentence. 
lha written defectively, as in Gen. xxxi. 1 : glory, equivalent 
to the great amount of the wealth, as in Genesis (I.e.). K e le 
chemddh, gold and silver vessels and jewels, as in Hos. xiii. 15. 
That there were immense treasures of the precious metals and 
of costly vessels treasured up in Nineveh, may be inferred with 
certainty from the accounts of ancient writers, which border on 
the fabulous. 1 Of all these treasures nothing was left but 
desolate emptiness. This is expressed by the combination of 
three synonymous words. Buqdh and m e bhuqdh are substantive 
formations from bug bdqaq, to empty out, and are combined 
to strengthen the idea, like similar combinations in Zeph. i. 15, 
Ezek. xxxiii. 29, and Isa. xxix. 2 sqq. M e bhulldqdh is a syno 
nymous noun formed from the participle pual, and signify 
ing devastation (cf. Isa. xxiv. 1, where even bdlaq is combined 
with Idqaq). In ver. 116 the horror of the vanquished at the 

1 For proofs, see Layard s Nineveh, ii. 415 sqq., and Movers, Plionizier 
(iii. 1, pp. 40, 41). After quoting the statements of Ctesias, the latter 
observes that " these numbers are indeed fabulous ; but they have their 
historical side, inasmuch as in the time of Ctesias the riches of Nineveh 
were estimated at an infinitely greater amount than the enormous treasures 
accumulated in the treasuries of the Persian empire. That the latter is 
quite in accordance with truth, maybe inferred from the fact that the con 
querors of Nineveh, the Medes and Chaldseans, of whose immense booty, 
in the shape of gold, silver, and other treasures, even the prophet Nahum 
speaks, furnished Ecbatana and Babylon with gold and silver from the 
booty of Nineveh to an extent unparalleled in all history." 

CHAP. II 11-13. 27 

total devastation of Nineveh is described, also in short substan 
tive clauses : u melted heart" (names is a participle), i.e. perfect 
despondency (see Isa. xiii. 7 ; Josh. vii. 5) ; trembling of the 
knees, so that from terror men can hardly keep upon their feet 
(piq for puq ; it only occurs here). Chalchdldh formed by 
reduplication from chll: spasmodic pains in all loins, like the 
labour pains of women in childbirth (cf. Isa. xxi. 3). Lastly, 
the faces of all turning pale (see at Joel ii. 6). 

Vers. 11-13. Thus will the mighty city he destroyed, with 
its men of war and booty. Yer. 11. " Where is the dwelling 
of the lions and the feeding-place of the young lions, where the 
lion ivalked, the lioness, the lions whelp, and no one frightened ? 
Ver. 12. The lion robbing for the need of his young ones, and 
strangling for his lionesses, and lie filled his dens with prey, and 
his dwelling-places with spoil. Ver. 13. Behold, I come to thee, is 
the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and 1 cause her chariots to burn 
in smoke, and tluj young lions the sword devours ; and I cut of 
thy prey from the earth, and the voice of thy messengers shall be 
heard no more" The prophet, beholding the destruction in 
spirit as having already taken place, looks round for the site on 
which the mighty city once stood, and sees it no more. This 
is the meaning of the question in ver. 11. He describes it as 
the dwelling-place of lions. The point of comparison is the 
predatory lust of its rulers and their warriors, who crushed the 
nations like lions, plundering their treasures, and bringing them 
together in Nineveh. To fill up the picture, the epithets ap 
plied to the lions are grouped together according to the differ 
ence of sex and age. rvntf is the full-grown male lion ; &i?, 
the lioness ; "T S3, the young lion, though old enough to go in 
search of prey ; rvns "vm ? catulus leonis, the lion s whelp, which 
cannot yet seek prey for itself, fcttn njHD^ lit. " and a feeding- 
place is it," sc. the dwelling-place (Jn pointing back to JU E) 
in this sense : a Where is the dwelling-place which was also 
a feeding-place for the young lions?" By the apposition the 
thought is expressed, that the city of lions was not only a rest 
ing-place, but also afforded a comfortable living. "1B>K is to be 
taken in connection with the following D^ : in the very place 
where ; and hdlakh signifies simply to walk, to walk about, not 
" to take exercise," in which case the kal would stand for piel. 
The more precise definition follows in "HnD psj, without any one 

28 NAHUM. 

terrifying, hence in perfect rest and security, and undisturbed 
might (cf. Mic. iv. 4 ; Lev. xxvi. 6 ; Deut. xxviii. 26, etc.). 
Under the same figure ver. 12 describes the tyranny and pre 
datory lust of the Assyrians in their wars. This description is 
subordinate in sense to the leading thought, or to the question 
contained in the previous verse. Where is the city now, into 
which the Assyrians swept together the booty of the peoples 
and kingdoms which they had destroyed ? In form, however, 
the verse is attached poetically in loose apposition to ver. 126. 
The lion, as king of the beasts, is a very fitting emblem of the 
kings or rulers of Assyria. The lionesses and young lions are 
the citizens of Nineveh and of the province of Assyria, the 
tribe-land of the imperial monarchy of Assyria, and not the 
queens and princes, as the Chaldee explains it. Goroth with 
the o-in flection for gurotli, as in Jer. li. 38. Chorlm, holes for 
hiding-places, or caves, not only applies to the robbers, in which 
character the Assyrians are exhibited through the figure of the 
lion (Hitzig), but also to the lions, which carry their prey into 
caves (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 737). This destruction of Nineveh 
will assuredly take place ; for Jehovah the Almighty God has 
proclaimed it, and He will fulfil His word. The word of God 
in ver. 14 stamps the foregoing threat with the seal of confir 
mation. Tpta run, behold I (will) to thee (Nineveh). We have 
not to supply NUN here, but simply the verb, copul., which is 
always omitted in such sentences. The relation of the subject 
to the object is expressed by ta (cf. ch. iii. 5 ; Jer. li. 25). 
i?7? ^"W? 1 ?) I burn into smoke, i.e. so that it vanishes into 
smoke (cf. Ps. xxxvii. 20). riMl., her war-chariots, stands 
synecdochically for the whole of the apparatus of war (Calvin). 
The suffix in the third person must not be altered ; it may easily 
be explained from the poetical variation of prophetic announce 
ment and direct address. The young lions are the warriors ; 
the echo of the figure in the previous verse still lingers in this 
figure, as well as in TjEpD. The last clause expresses the com 
plete destruction of the imperial might of Assyria. The mes 
sengers of Nineveh are partly heralds, as the carriers of the 
king s commands ; partly halberdiers, or delegates who fulfilled 
the ruler s commands (cf. 1 Kings xix. 2 ; 2 Kings xix. 23). 
The suffix in TOl6o is in a lengthened form, on account of the 
tone at the end of the section, analogous to nanfc in Ex. xxix. 

CHAP. III. 1. 29 

35, and is not to be regarded as an Aramasism or a dialec 
tical variation (Ewald, 258, a). The tsere of the last syllable 
is occasioned by the previous tsere. Jerome has summed up 
the meaning very well as follows : " Thou wilt never lay coun 
tries waste any more, nor exact tribute, nor will thy messengers 
be heard throughout thy provinces." (On the last clause, see 
Ezek. xix. 9.) 


The announcement of the destruction awaiting Nineveh 
is confirmed by the proof, that this imperial city has brought 
this fate upon itself by its sins and crimes (vers. 1-7), and will 
no more be able to avert it than the Egyptian No-Amon was 
(vers. 8-13), but that, in spite of all its resources, it will be 
brought to a terrible end (vers. 14-19). 

Vers. 1-7. The city of blood will have the shame, which 
it has inflicted upon the nations, repaid to it by a terrible 
massacre. The prophet announces this with the woe which 
opens the last section of this threatening prophecy. Ver. 1. 
" Woe to the city of blood! She all full of deceit and murder ; 
the prey departs not" *Ir ddmlrn, city of drops of blood, i.e. of 
blood shed, or of murders. This predicate is explained in the 
following clauses : she all full of lying and murder. Cachash 
and pereq are asyndeton, and accusatives dependent upon HNPID. 
Cachash, lying and deceit : this is correctly explained by 
Abarbanel and Strauss as referring to the fact that " she de 
ceived the nations with vain promises of help and protection." 
Pereq, tearing in pieces for murder, a figure taken from the 
lion, which tears its prey in pieces (Ps. vii. 3). W\ N7, the 
prey does not depart, never fails. Mush : in the hiphil here, 
used intransitively, " to depart," as in Ex. xiii. 22, Ps. Iv. 12, 
and not in a transitive sense, " to cause to depart," to let go ; 
for if Ir (the city) were the subject, we should have tarnish. 

This threat is explained in vers. 2 sqq., by a description of 
the manner in which a hostile army enters Nineveh and fills the 
city with corpses. Ver. 2. " The cracking of whips, and noise 
of the rattling of wheels, and the horse in galloping, and chariots 

30 NAHUM. 

flying high. Ver. 3. Riders dashing along, and flame of the 
swordy and flashing of the lance, and multitude of slain men and 
mass of dead men, and no end of corpses ; they stumble over 
their corpses. Ver. 4. For the multitude of the whoredoms of 
the harlot, the graceful one, the mistress of witchcrafts, who sells 
nations with her ivhoredoms, and families with her witchcrafts." 
Nahum sees in spirit the hostile army bursting upon Nineveh. 
He hears the noise, i.e. the cracking of the whips of the 
charioteers, and the rattling (mash) of the chariot-wheels, sees 
horses and chariots driving along (ddhar, to hunt, cf. Judg. v. 
22 ; rigged, to jump, applied to the springing up of the chariots 
as they drive quickly along over a rugged road), dashing riders 
(ma aleh, lit. to cause to ascend, sc. the horse, i.e. to make it 
prance, by driving the spur into its side to accelerate its speed), 
flaming swords, and flashing lances. As these words are well 
adapted to depict the attack, so are those which follow to 
describe the consequence or effect of the attack. Slain men, 
fallen men in abundance, and so many corpses, that one cannot 
help stumbling or falling over them. *D3, the heavy multi 
tude. The chethib &* is to be read &Wf. (niphal), in the sense 
of stumbling, as in ch. ii. 6. The keri ^^1 is unsuitable, as 
the sentence does not express any progress, but simply exhibits 
the infinite number of the corpses (Hitzig). DnjlJ? their (the 
slain men s) corpses. This happens to the city of sins because 
of the multitude of its whoredoms. Nineveh is called Zondh, 
and its conduct z e nunlm, not because it had fallen away from 
the living God and pursued idolatry, for there is nothing about 
idolatry either here or in what follows ; nor because of its 
commercial intercourse, in which case the commerce of Nineveh 
would appear here under the perfectly new figure of love- 
making with other nations (Ewald), for commercial intercourse 
as such is not love-making ; but the love-making, with its 
parallel " witchcrafts " (tfshdphlni), denotes " the treacherous 
friendship and crafty politics with which the coquette in her 
search for conquests ensnared the smaller states" (Hitzig, after 
Abarbanel, Calvin, J. H. Michaelis, and others). This policy 
is called whoring or love-making, "inasmuch as it was that 
selfishness which wraps itself up in the dress of love, and under 
the appearance of love seeks simply the gratification of its own 
lust" (Hengstenberg on the Rev.)-. The-^tfwa/t is described 

CHAP. III. 5-7. 31 

still more minutely as \n rniLD, beautiful with grace. This 
refers to the splendour and brilliancy of Nineveh, by which 
this city dazzled and ensnared the nations, like a graceful 
coquette. Baalatli k e shdphlm, devoted to witchcrafts, mistress 
of them. K e shdphlm (witchcrafts) connected with z e numm, as 
in 2 Kings ix. 22, are " the secret wiles, which, like magical 
arts, do not come to the light in themselves, but only in 
their effects" (Hitzig). "i?, to sell nations, i.e. to rob them 
of liberty and bring them into slavery, to make them tribu 
tary, as in Deut. xxxii. 30, Judg: ii. 14, iii. 8, etc. (not = 1D3 
from "123, to entangle: Hitzig). n^^D, with (not for) their 
whoredoms. Mishpdchoth, families, synonymous with D s E>y, are 
smaller peoples or tribes (cf. Jer. xxv. 9 ; Ezek. xx. 32). 

The Lord will plunge Nineveh into shameful misery in con 
sequence. Ver. 5. " Behold, I come to thee, is the saying of 
Jehovah of hosts ; and uncover thy skirts over thy face, and let 
nations see thy nakedness, and kingdoms thy shame. Ver. 6. 
And cast horrible things upon thee, and shame thee, and make 
thee a gazing-stock. Ver. 7. And it comes to pass, every one who 
sees thee will flee before thee, and say, Is Nineveh laid waste ? 
Who will bewail her? whence do I seek comforters for thee?" 
Ver. 5a as in ch. ii. 13a. The punishment of Nineveh will 
correspond to her conduct. Her coquetry shall be repaid to her 
by the uncovering of her nakedness before the nations (cf. Jer. 
xiii. 26 ; Isa. xlvii. 3 ; Hos. ii. 5). Gilldh, to uncover. Shullm, 
Jimbrice, the skirts, borders, or lower end of the long sweeping 
dress (cf. Ex. xxviii. 33, 34 ; Isa. vi. 1). ^a ^, over thy 
countenance, so that the train when lifted up is drawn over 
the face. "W, a contraction of rnJJP, from rny, signifies in 
1 Kings vii. 36 an empty space, here nakedness or shame equi 
valent to nny. This thought is carried out still further in 
literal terms in vers. 6, 7. Shiqqutslm, objects of abhorrence, 
is used most frequently of idols ; but here it is used in a more 
general sense for unclean or repulsive things, dirt and filth. 
Throwing dirt upon any one is a figurative expression for the 
most ignominious treatment or greatest contempt. Nibbel, to 
treat contemptuously, not with words, as in Mic. vii. 6, but 
with deeds, equivalent to insult or abuse (cf. Jer. xiv. 21). 
To make it ^2, the object of sight, i.e. to give up to open 
shame, Trapao eiy/jLarlZeiv (Matt. i. 19). S &P, a pausal form of 

32 NAHUM. 

*n, the seeing, here the spectacle, like Oearpov in 1 Cor. iv. 9. 
This is evident from ver. 7, where T)]fcp contains a play upon 
^ i i. Every one who looks at her will flee from her as an 
object of disgust. ^1$, a rare form of the pual for n 7?F (f r 
the fact, compare Jer. xlviii. 20). The last two clauses ex 
press the thought that no one will take pity upon the devas 
tated city, because its fate is so well deserved; compare Isa. li. 
19, where the same words are used of Jerusalem. Nineveh 
will not be able to protect herself from destruction even by her 
great power. The prophet wrests this vain hope away from 
her by pointing in vers. 8 sqq. to the fall of the mighty Thebes 
in Egypt. 

Vers. 8-10. Nineveh will share the fate of No-Amon. 
Yer. 8. "Art ikon better than No-Amon, that sat by rivers, 
waters round about her, whose bulwark was the sea, her wall 
of sea ? Ver. 9. Ethiopians and Egyptians were (her) strong 
men, there is no end; Phut and Libyans were for thy help. 
Ver. 10. She also has gone to transportation, into captivity ; her 
children were also dashed in pieces at the corners of all roads ; 
upon her nobles they cast the lot, and all her great men were 
bound in chains." ^^OH for ^p Tin, for the sake of euphony, 
the imperfect kal of 3t?J, to be good, used to denote prosperity 
in Gen. xii. 13 and xl. 14, is applied here to the prosperous 
condition of the city, which was rendered strong both by its 
situation and its resources. jtotf &W, i.e. probably " dwelling (ao 
contracted from Kfo, cf. ftiw) of Am on," the sacred name of 
the celebrated city of Thebes in Upper Egypt, called in 
Egyptian P-amen, i.e. house of the god Amun, who had a 
celebrated temple there (Herod, i. 182, ii. 42 ; see Brugsch, 
Geogr. Inschr. i. p. 177). The Greeks called it Albs TroXt?, 
generally with the predicate 97 /AeyaXi? (Diod. Sic. i. 45), or 
from the profane name of the city, which was Apet according 
to Brugsch (possibly a throne, seat, or bank), and with the 
feminine article prefixed, Tapet, or Tape, or Tepe, Orf/By, gene 
rally used in the plural @rj(3at,. This strong royal city, which 
was described even by Homer (11. ix. 383) as e/taroftTruXo?, 
and in which the Pharaohs of the 18th to the 20th dynasties, 
from Amosis to the last Rameses, resided, and created those 
works of architecture which were admired by Greeks and 
Romans, and the remains of which still fill the visitor with 

CHAP. 111. 8-10. 33 

astonishment, was situated on both banks of the river Nile, 
which was 1500 feet in breadth at that point, and was built 
upon a broad plain formed by the falling back of the Libyan 
and Arabian mountain wall, over which there are now scattered 
nine larger or smaller fellah-villages, including upon the eastern 
bank Karnak and Luxor, and upon the western Gurnah and 
Medinet Abu, with their plantations of date-palms, sugar-canes, 
corn, etc. E" 1 "]^ I " I 5^ S| "?> wno s ^ s tnel> e, i-e. dwells quietly and 
securely, on the streams of the Nile. The plural E 11 "]^ refers 
to the Nile with its canals, which surrounded the city, as we 
may see from what follows : "water round about her." ^{TTIB^K, 
not which is a fortress of the sea (Hitzig), but whose bulwark 
is sea. P^n (for fi^n) does not mean the fortified place (Hitzig), 
but the fortification, bulwark, applied primarily to the moats 
of a fortification, with the wall belonging to it ; then, in the 
broader sense, the defence of a city in distinction from the 
actual wall (cf. Isa. xxvi. 1 ; Lam. ii. 8). &*P, consisting of 
sea is its wall, i.e. its wall is formed of sea. Great rivers are 
frequently called yam, sea, in rhetorical and poetical diction : 
for example, the Euphrates in Isa. xxvii. 1, Jer. li. 36 ; and 
the Nile in Isa. xviii. 2, xix. 5, Job xli. 23. The Nile is still 
called by the Beduins bahr, i.e. sea, and when it overflows it 
really resembles a sea. To the natural strength of Thebes there 
was also added the strength of the warlike nations at her com 
mand. Cusli, i.e. Ethiopians in the stricter sense, and Mitsraim, 
Egyptians, the two tribes descended from Ham, according to 
Gen. x. 6, who formed the Egyptian kingdom before the fall 
of Thebes, and under the 25th (Ethiopian) dynasty, i" 1 ?-^? as 
in Isa. xl. 29, xlvii. 9, for D$J, strength; it is written without any 
suffix, which may easily be supplied from the context. The 
corresponding words to ne^y in the parallel clause are nvg T&O 
(with Vav cop.) : Egyptians, as for them there is no number ; 
equivalent to an innumerable multitude. To these there were 
to be added the auxiliary tribes : Put, i.e. the Libyans in the 
broader sense, who had spread themselves out over the northern 
part of Africa as far as Mauritania (see at Gen. x. 6) ; and 
Lubim=L e hdbhlnij the Libyans in the narrower sense, probably 
the Libiicegyptii of the ancients (see at Gen. x. 13). In ^ iTya 
(cf. Ps. xxxv. 2) Nahum addresses No-Amon itself, to give 
greater life to the description. Notwithstanding all this might, 
VOL. ii. c 


No-Amon had to wander into captivity. Laggoldh and las- 
shebhl are not tautological. Laggoldh, for emigration, is 
strengthened by basshebhl into captivity. The perfect np^n is 
obviously not to be taken prophetically. The very antithesis of 
rota K rrD3 and v ??^ n ^~^_ (ver. 11) shows of itself that nrtai 
refers to the past, as ^s^ri does to the future ; yea, the facts 
themselves require that Nahum should be understood as point 
ing to the fate which the powerful city of Thebes had already 
experienced. For it must be an event that has already 
occurred, and not something still in the future, which he holds 
up before Nineveh as a mirror of the fate that is awaiting it. 
The clauses which follow depict the cruelties that were gene 
rally associated with the taking of an enemy s cities. For 
1:1 rp^V, see Hos. xiv. 1, Isa. xiii. 16, and 2 Kings viii. 12 ; 
and" for ^fa W, Joel iv. 3 and Ob. 11. Nikliladdlm, nobiles ; 
cf. Isa. xxiii. 8, 9. G e dolim, magnates ; cf. Jonah iii. 7. It 
must be borne in mind, however, that the words only refer to 
cruelties connected with the conquest and carrying away of the 
inhabitants, and not to the destruction of No-Amon. 

We have no express historical account of this occurrence ; 
but there is hardly any doubt that, after the conquest of 
Ashdod, Sargon the king of Assyria organized an expedition 
against Egypt and Ethiopia, conquered No-Amon, the resi 
dence of the Pharaohs at that time, and, as Isaiah prophesied 
(Isa. xx. 3, 4), carried the prisoners of Egypt and Ethiopia 
into exile. According to the Assyrian researches and their 
most recent results (vid. Spiegel s Nineveh and Assyria in 
Herzog s Cyclopaedia), the king Sargon mentioned in Isa. 
xx. 1 is not the same person as Shalmaneser, as I assumed in 
my commentary on 2 Kings xvii. 3, but his successor, and the 
predecessor of Sennacherib, who ascended the throne during 
the siege of Samaria, and conquered that city in the first year 
of his reign, leading 27,280 persons into captivity, and appoint 
ing a vicegerent over the country of the ten tribes. In Assyrian 
Sargon is called Sar Kin, i.e. essentially a king. He was the 
builder of the palace at Khorsabad, which is so rich in monu 
ments ; and, according to the inscriptions, he carried on wars 
in Susiana, Babylon, the borders of Egypt, Melitene, Southern 
Armenia, Kurdistan, and Media ; and in all his expeditions he 
resorted to the removal of the people in great numbers, as one 

CHAT III. .8-10. 35 

means of securing the lasting subjugation of the lands (see 
Spiegel, I.e. p. 224). In the great inscription in the palace- 
halls of Khorsabad, Sargon boasts immediately after the con 
quest of Samaria of a victorious conflict with Pharaoh Sebech 
at Eaphia, in consequence of which the latter became tributary, 
and also of the dethroning of the rebellious king of Ashdod ; 
and still further, that after another king of Ashdod, who had 
been chosen by the people, had fled to Egypt r he besieged 
Ashdod with all his army, and took it. Then follows a diffi 
cult and mutilated passage, in which Rawlinson (Five Great 
Monarchies, ii. 416) and Oppert-(Xes Sargonideg, pp. 22, 26, 27) 
find an account of the complete subjugation of Sebech (see 
Delitzsch on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 374). There is apparently a 
confirmation of this in the monuments recording the deeds of 
Esarhaddon s successor, whose name is read Assur-bani-pal, 
according to which that king carried on tedious wars in Egypt 
against Tirhaka, who had conquered Memphis, Thebes, and 
sundry other Egyptian cities during the illness of Esarhaddon, 
and according to his own account, succeeded at length in 
completely overcoming him, and returned home with rich 
booty, having first of all taken hostages for future good 
behaviour (see Spiegel, p. 225). If these inscriptions have 
been read correctly, it follows from them that from the reign 
of Sargon the Assyrians made attempts to subjugate Egypt, 
and were partially successful, though they could not maintain 
their conquests. The struggle between Assyria and Egypt 
for supremacy in Hither Asia may also be inferred from the 
brief notices in the Old Testament (2 Kings xvii. 4) concern 
ing the help which the Israelitish king Hosea expected from 
So the king of Egypt, and also concerning the advance of 
Tirhaka against Sennacherib. 1 

Vers. 11-13. The same, or rather a worse fate than No- 

1 From the modern researches concerning ancient Egypt, not the 
smallest light can be obtained as to any of these things. " The Egyptolo 
gists (as J. Bumiiller observes, p. 245) have hitherto failed to fill up the 
gaps in the history of Egypt, and have been still less successful in restoring 
the chronology ; for hitherto we have not met with a single well-estab 
lished date, which we have obtained from a monumental inscription ; nor 
have the monuments enabled us to assign to a single Pharaoh, from the 1st 
to the 21st, his proper place in the years ox centuries of the historical 

fi XAHL M. 

Ainon suffered, is now awaiting Nineveh. Ver. 11. " Thou 
also wilt be drunken, shalt be hidden ; thou also wilt seek for a 
refuge from the enemy. Ver. 12. AIL thy citadels are fig-trees 
ivith early figs ; if they are shaken, they fall into the mouth of the 
eater. Ver. 13. Behold thy people, women in the midst of thee ; 
the gates of thy land are thrown quite open to thine enemies ; fire 
consumes thy bolts." ^"B|> corresponds to K s n"D3 in ver. 10 : as 
she, so also thou. " The fate of No-Amon is a prophecy of 
thine own " (Hitzig). ^.SBfa, thou wilt be drunken, viz. from 
the goblet of divine wrath, as at Ob. 16. OT? ^ might 
mean, " thou wilt be hiding thyself;" but although this might 
suit what follows, it does not agree with ^.S^n, since an intoxi 
cated person is not in the habit of hiding himself. Moreover, 
WJJ always means " hidden," occultus ; so that Calvin s inter 
pretation is the correct one : " Thou wilt vanish away as if 
thou hadst never been ; the Hebrews frequently using the 
expression being hidden for being reduced to nothing." This 
is favoured by a comparison both with ch. i. 8 and ii. 12, and 
also with the parallel passage in Ob, 16, "They will drink, and 
be as if they had not been." This is carried out still further 
in what follows : " Thou wilt seek refuge from the enemy," i.e. 
in this connection, seek it in vain, or without finding it ; not, 
<; Thou wilt surely demand salvation from the enemy by sur 
render" (Strauss), for 3%O does not belong to *&?i?3fl, but to 
tto (cf. Isa. xxv. 4). All the fortifications of Nineveh are like 
fig-trees with early figs (DV in the sense of subordination, as in 
Song of Sol. iv. 13), which fall into the mouth of the eater 
when the trees are shaken. The tertium compar. is the facility 
with which the castles will be taken and destroyed by the enemy 
assaulting them (cf. Isa. xxviii. 4). We must not extend the 
comparison so far, however, as to take the figs as representing 
cowardly warriors, as Hitzig does. Even in ver. 13a, where 
the people are compared to women, the point of comparison is 
not the cowardliness of the warriors, but the weakness and 
inability to offer any successful resistance into which the nation 
of the Assyrians, which was at other times so warlike, would 
be reduced through the force of the divine judgment inflicted 
upon Nineveh (compare Isa. xix. 16 ; Jer. 1. 37, li. 30). T.^.NJ 5 
belongs to what follows, and is placed first, and pointed with 
zakeph-katon for the sake of emphasis. The gates of the land 

CHAP. III. U-17. 37 

are the approaches to it, the passes leading into it, which were 
no doubt provided with castles. Tuch (p. 35) refers to the 
mountains on the north, which Pliny calls impassable. The 
bolts of these gates are the castles, through which the approaches 
were closed. Jeremiah transfers to Babel what is here said of 
Nineveh (see Jer. li. 30). 

Yers. 14-19. In conclusion, the prophet takes away from the 
city so heavily laden with guilt the last prop to its hope, namely, 
reliance upon its fortifications, and the numerical strength of 
its population. Yer. 14. " Draw thyself water for the siege ! 
Make thy castles strong I tread in the mire, and stamp in the 
clay ! prepare the brick-kiln! Yer. 15. There will the fire de 
vour thee, the sword destroy thee, devour thee like the lickers. Be 
in great multitude like the lickers, be in great multitude like the 
locusts ? Yer. 16. Thou hast made thy merchants more than the 
stars of heaven ; the licker enters to plunder, and flies away. 
Yer. 17. Thy levied ones are like the locusts, and thy men like an 
army of grasshoppers which encamp in the hedges in the day of 
frost; if the sun rises, they are off, and men know not their 
place: where are they T* Water of the siege is the drinking 
water necessary for a long-continued siege. Nineveh is to 
provide itself with this, because the siege will last a long while. 
It is also to improve the fortifications (chizzeq as in 2 Kings 
xii. 8, 13). This is then depicted still more fully. Tit and 
chomer are used synonymously here, as in Isa. xli. 25. Tit, 
lit. dirt, slime, then clay and potter s clay (Isa. Lc.). Chomer, 
clay or mortar (Gen. xi. 3), also dirt of the streets (Isa. x. 6, 
compared with Mic. vii. 10). P^nn, to make firm, or strong, 
applied to the restoration of buildings in Neh. v. 16 and Ezek. 
xxvii. 9, 27 ; here to restore, or to put in order, the brick-kiln 
(malben, a denom. from l e bhendh, a brick), for the purpose of 
burning bricks. The Assyrians built with bricks sometimes 
burnt, sometimes unburnt, and merely dried in the sun. Botli 
kinds are met with on the Assyrian monuments (see Layard, 
vol. ii. p. 36 sqq.). This appeal, however, is simply a rheto 
rical turn for the thought that a severe and tedious siege is 
awaiting Nineveh. This siege will end in the destruction of 
the great and populous city. DB>, there, sc. in these fortifications 
of thine, will fire consume thee ; fire will destroy the city with 
its buildings, and the sword destroy the inhabitants. The 

38 NAHUM. 

destruction of Nineveh by fire is related by ancient writers 
(Herod, i. 106, 185 ; Diod. Sic. ii. 25-28 ; Athen. xii. p. 529), 
and also confirmed by the ruins (cf. Str. ad h. I.}. It devours 
thee like the locust. The subject is not fire or sword, either 
one or the other, but rather both embraced in one. P/? s .?, like 
the ticker ; yeleq, a poetical epithet applied to the locust (see at 
Joel i. 4), is the nominative, not the accusative, as Calvin, 
Grotius, Ewald, and Hitzig suppose. For the locusts are not 
devoured by the fire or the sword, but it is they who devour 
the vegetables and green of the fields, so that they are every 
where used as a symbol of devastation and destruction. It is 
true that in the following sentences the locusts are used figura 
tively for the Assyrians, or the inhabitants of Nineveh ; but it 
is also by no means a rare thing for prophets to give a new 
turn and application to a figure or simile. The thought is this : 
fire and sword will devour Nineveh and its inhabitants like the 
all-consuming locusts, even though the city itself, with its mass 
of houses and people, should resemble an enormous swarm of 
locusts, "isiinn may be either an inf. abs. used instead of the 
imperative, or the imperative itself. The latter seems the more 
simple; and the use of the masculine may be explained on the 
assumption that the prophet had the people floating before his 
mind, whereas in "H^nrt he was thinking of the city. Hith- 
habbed, to show itself heavy by virtue of the large multitude ; 
similar to "133 in ch. ii. 10 (cf. ^32 in Gen. xiii. 2, Ex. viii. 20, 
etc.). The comparison to a swarm of locusts is carried still 
further in vers. 16 and 17, and that so that ver. 16 explains 
the PJ*3 ^Kn in ver. 15. Nineveh has multiplied its traders 
or merchants, even more than the stars of heaven, i.e. to an 
innumerable multitude. The yeleq, i.e. the army of the enemy, 
bursts in and plunders. That Nineveh was a very rich com 
mercial city may be inferred from its position, namely, just 
at the point where, according to oriental notions, the east and 
west meet together, and where the Tigris becomes navigable, so 
that it was very easy to sail from thence into the Persian Gulf ; 
just as afterwards Mosul, which was situated opposite, became 
great and powerful through its widely-extended trade (see 
Tuch, I.e. p. 31 sqq., and Strauss, in loc.). 1 The meaning of 

1 "The point," says 0. Strauss (Nineveh and the Word of God, Berl 
1855, p. 19), " at which Nineveh was situated was certainly the culmi- 

CHAP. III. 14-17. 39 

tins verse lias been differently interpreted, according to the 
explanation given to the verb pdshat. Many, following the 
wpfjifjcre and expansus est of the LXX. and Jerome, give it the 
meaning, to spread out the wing ; whilst Credner (on Joel, p. 
295), Maurer, Ewald, and Hitzig take it in the sense of un 
dressing one s self, and understand it as relating to the shedding 
of the horny wing-sheaths of the young locusts. But neither 
the one nor the other of these explanations can be gramma 
tically sustained. Pdshat never means anything else than to 
plunder, or to invade with plundering ; not even in such pas 
sages as Hos. vii. 1, 1 Chron. xiv. 9 and 13, which Gesenius 
and Dietrich quote in support of the meaning, to spread ; and 
the meaning forced upon it by Credner, of the shedding of the 
wing-sheaths by locusts, is perfectly visionary, and has merely 
been invented by him for the purpose of establishing his false 
interpretation of the different names given to the locusts in 
Joel i. 4. In the passage before us we cannot understand by 
the yeleq, which " plunders and flies away" (pdshat vayyd oph), 
the innumerable multitude of the merchants of Nineveh, be 
cause they were not able to fly away in crowds out of the 
besieged city. Moreover, the flying away of the merchants 
would be quite contrary to the meaning of the whole descrip 
tion, which does not promise deliverance from danger by flight, 
but threatens destruction. The yeleq is rather the innumerable 
army of the enemy, which plunders everything, and hurries 
away with its booty. In ver. 17 the last two clauses of ver. 
15 are explained, and the warriors of Nineveh compared to an 
army of locusts. There is some difficulty caused by the two 
words "ny^Jp and Tp/ipBB, the first of which only occurs here, 
and the second only once more, viz. in Jer. li. 27, where we 
meet with it in the singular. That they both denote warlike 
companies appears to be tolerably certain ; but the real mean 
ing cannot be exactly determined. D^WO with dagesh dir., as 
for example in Khipp in Ex. xv. 17, is probably derived from 
ndzar, to separate, and not directly from nezer, a diadem, or 
ndzlr, the crowned person, from which the lexicons, following 

nating point of the three quarters of the globe Europe, Asia, and Africa ; 
and from the very earliest times it was just at the crossing of the Tigris 
by Nineveh that the great military and commercial roads met, which led 
into the heart of all the leading known lands." 

40 NAHUiL 

Kimchi s example, have derived the meaning princes, or per 
sons ornamented with crowns; whereas the true meaning is 
those levied, selected (for war), analogous to bdclmr, the picked 
or selected one, applied to the soldiery. The meaning princes 
or captains is at variance with the comparison to arleh, the 
multitude of locusts, since the number of the commanders in an 
army, or of the war-staff, is always a comparatively small one. 
And the same objection may be offered to the rendering war- 
chiefs or captains, which has been given to taphsar, and which 
derives only an extremely weak support from the Neo-Persian 

/-jjl?) although the word might be applied to a commander-in- 

chief in Jer. li. 27, and does signify an angel in the Targum- 
Jonathan on Deut. xxviii. 12. The different derivations are 
all untenable (see Ges. Thes. p. 554) ; and the attempt of 
Bottcher (N. Krit. ^Ehrenl. ii. pp. 209-10) to trace it to the 
Aramaean verb DSD, obedivit, with the inflection "> for j , in 
the sense of clientes, vassals, is precluded by the fact that ar 
does not occur as a syllable of inflection. The word is pro 
bably Assyrian, and a technical term for soldiers of a special 
kind, though hitherto it has not been explained. *3fa 213, locusts 
upon locusts, i.e. an innumerable swarm of locusts. On "Ola, 
see at Amos vii. 1 ; and on the repetition of the same word to 
express the idea of the superlative, see the comm. on 2 Kings 
xix. 23 (and Ges. 108, 4). Yom qdrdh, day (or time) of 
cold, is either the night, which is generally very cold in the 
East, or the winter-time. To the latter explanation it may be 
objected, that locusts do not take refuge in walls or hedges 
during the winter ; whilst the expression yom, day, for night, 
may be pleaded against the former. We must therefore take 
the word as relating to certain cold days, on which the sky is 
covered with clouds, so that the sun cannot break through, and 
zdrach as denoting not the rising of the sun, but its shining 
or breaking through. The wings of locusts become stiffened 
in the cold ; but as soon as the warm rays of the sun break 
through the clouds, they recover their animation and fly away. 
Nodad (poal), has flown away, viz. the Assyrian army, which 
is compared to a swarm of locusts, so that its place is known no 
more (cf. Ps. ciii. 16), i.e. has perished without leaving a trace 
behind. D.*N contracted from DH nK. These words depict in 

CHAP. III. 18, 19. 41 

the most striking manner the complete annihilation of the army 
on which Nineveh relied. 

Such an end will come to the Assyrian kingdom on the 
overthrow of Nineveh. Ver. 18. " Thy shepherds have fallen 
asleep, king Asshur : thy glorious ones are lying there : thy people 
have scattered themselves upon the mountains, and no one gathers 
them. Ver. 19. No alleviation to thy fracture, thy stroke is 
grievous : all who hear tidings of thee clap the hand over thee : 
for over whom hath not thy wickedness passed continually ?" The 
king of Asshur addressed in ver. 18 is not the last historical 
king of that kingdom, but a rhetorical personification of the 
holder of the imperial power of Assyria. His shepherds and 
glorious ones (Wdmra, as in ch. ii. 6) are the princes and 
great men, upon whom the government and defence of the 
kingdom devolved, the royal counsellors, deputies, and generals. 
Ndmuy from 7mm, to slumber, to sleep, is not a figurative 
expression for carelessness and inactivity here ; for the thought 
that the people would be scattered, and the kingdom perish, 
through the carelessness of the rulers (Hitzig), neither suits the 
context, where the destruction of the army and the laying of 
the capital in ashes are predicted, nor the object of the whole 
prophecy, which does not threaten the fall of the kingdom 
through the carelessness of its rulers, but the destruction of 
the kingdom by a hostile army. Num denotes here, as in Ps. 
Ixxvi. 6, the sleep of death (cf. Ps. xiii. 4 ; Jer. li. 39, 57 : 
Theodoret, Hesselb., Str., and others). Shdkhan, a synonym 
of shdkhabh, to have lain down, to lie quietly (Judg. v. 17), 
used here of the rest of death. As the shepherds have fallen 
asleep, the flock (i.e. the Assyrian people) is scattered upon the 
mountains and perishes, because no one gathers it together. 
Being scattered upon the mountains, is easily explained from 
the figure of the flock (cf. Num. xxvii. 17 ; 1 Kings xxii. 17 ; 
Zech. xiii. 7), and implies destruction. The mountains are 
mentioned with evident reference to the fact that Nineveh is 
shut in towards the north by impassable mountains. Kehdh, 
a noun formed from the adjective, the extinction of the wound 
(cf. Lev. xiii. 6), i.e. the softening or anointing of it. Shebher, 
the fracture of a limb, is frequently applied to the collapse or 
destruction of a state or kingdom (e.g. Ps. Ix. 4 ; Lam. ii. 11). 
oEi npn^ i.e. dangerously bad, incurable is the stroke which 

42 NAHUM. 

lias fallen upon thee (cf. Jer. x. 19, xiv. 17, xxx. 12). Over 
thy destruction will all rejoice who hear thereof. ^JJJP^, the 
tidings of thee, i.e. of that which has befallen thee. Clapping 
the hands is a gesture expressive of joy (cf. Ps. xlvii. 2 ; Isa. 
Iv. 12). All: because they all had to suffer from the malice 
of Asshur. nyn, malice, is the tyranny and cruelty which 
Assyria displayed towards the subjugated lands and nations. 

Thus was Nineveh to perish. If we inquire now how the 
prophecy was fulfilled, the view already expressed by Josephus 
(Ant. x. 2), that the fall of the Assyrian empire commenced 
with the overthrow of Sennacherib in Judah, is not confirmed 
by the results of the more recent examinations of the Assyrian 
monuments. For according to the inscriptions, so far as they 
have been correctly deciphered, Sennacherib carried out several 
more campaigns in Susiana and Babylonia after that disaster, 
whilst ancient writers also speak of an expedition of his to 
Cilicia. His successor, Esarhaddon, also carried on wars against 
the cities of Phoenicia, against Armenia and Cilicia, attacked 
the Edomites, and transported some of them to Assyria, and is 
said to have brought a small and otherwise unknown people, 
the Bikniy into subjection ; whilst we also know from the Old 
Testament (2 Chron. xxxiii. 11) that his generals led king 
Manasseh in chains to Babylon. Like many of his prede 
cessors, he built himself a palace at Kalah or Nimrud ; but 
before the internal decorations were completely finished, it was 
destroyed by so fierce a fire, that the few monuments preserved 
have suffered very considerably. His successor is the last king 
of whom we have any inscriptions, with his name still legible 
upon them (viz. Assur-bani-pal). He carried on wars not only 
in Susiana, but also in Egypt, viz. against Tirhaka, who had 
conquered Memphis, Thebes, and other Egyptian cities, during 
the illness of Esarhaddon ; also on the coast of Syria, and in 
Cilicia and Arabia; and completed different buildings which 
bear his name, including a palace in Kouyunjik, in which a 
room has been found with a library in it, consisting of clay 
tablets. Assur-bani-pal had a son, whose name was written 
Asur-emid-ilin, and who is regarded as the Sarakos of the 
ancients, under whom the Assyrian empire perished, with the 
conquest and destruction of Nineveh (see Spiegel in Herzog s 
Cycl.). But if, according to these testimonies, the might of the 

CHAP. III. 18, 19. 43 

Assyrian empire was not so weakened by Sennacherib s over 
throw in Judah, that any hope could be drawn from that, 
according to human conjecture, of the speedy destruction of 
that empire ; the prophecy of Nahum concerning Nineveh, 
which was uttered in consequence of that catastrophe, cannot 
be taken as the production of any human combination : still 
less can it be taken, as Ewald supposes, as referring to " the 
first important siege of Nineveh, under the Median king 
Phraortes (Herod, i. 102)." For Herodotus says nothing about 
any siege of Nineveh, but simply speaks of a war between 
Phraortes and the Assyrians, in which the former lost his life. 
Nineveh was not really besieged till the time of Cyaxares 
(Uwakhshatra), who carried on the war with an increased 
army, to avenge the death of his father, and forced his way to 
Nineveh, to destroy that city, but was compelled, by the inva 
sion of his own land by the Scythians, to relinquish the siege, 
and hasten to meet that foe (Her. i. 103). On the extension of 
his sway, the same Cyaxares commenced a war with the Lydian 
king Alyattes, which was carried on for five years with alter 
nating success and failure on both sides, and was terminated 
in the sixth year by the fact, that when the two armies were 
standing opposite to one another, drawn up in battle array, the 
day suddenly darkened into night, which alarmed the armies, 
and rendered the kings disposed for peace. This was brought 
about by the mediation of the Cilician viceroy Syennesis and 
the Babylonian viceroy Labynetus, and sealed by the establish 
ment of a marriage relationship between the royal families of 
Lydia and Media (Her. i. 74). And if this Labynetus was the 
same person as the Babylonian king Nabopolassar, which there 
is no reason to doubt, it was riot till after the conclusion of this 
peace that Cyaxares formed an alliance with Nabopolassar to 
make war upon Nineveh ; and this alliance was strengthened 
by his giving his daughter Amuhea in marriage to Nabopo- 
lassar s son Nebuchadnezzar (Nabukudrossor). The combined 
forces of these two kings now advanced to the attack upon 
Nineveh, and conquered it, after a siege of three years, the 
Assyrian king Saracus burning himself in his palace as the 
besiegers were entering the city. This is the historical kernel 
of the capture and destruction of Nineveh, which may be taken 
as undoubted fact from the accounts of Herodotus (i. 106) and 

44 NAHUM. 

Diod. Sic. (ii. 24-28), as compared with the extract from 
Abydenus in Euseb. C/iron. Armen. i. p. 54 ; whereas it is im 
possible to separate the historical portions from the legendary 
and in part mythical decorations contained in the elaborate 
account givon by Diodorus (vid. M. v. Niebuhr, Geschichte 
Assurs, p. 200 sqq. ; Duncker, GeschicJite des Alterthums. i. 
p. 793 sqq. ; and Bumiiller, Gesch. d. Alterth. i. p. 316 sqq.). 

The year of the conquest and destruction of Nineveh has 
been greatly disputed, and cannot be exactly determined. As 
it is certain that Nabopolassar took part in the war against 
Nineveh, and this is indirectly intimated even by Herodotus, 
who attributes the conquest of it to Cyaxares and the Medes 
(vid. i. 106), Nineveh must have fallen between the years 625 
and 606 B.C. For according to the canon of Ptolemy, Nabo 
polassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 606 ; and this date 
is astronomically established by an eclipse of the moon, which 
took place in the fifth year of his reign, and which actually 
occurred in the year 621 B.C. (vid. Niebuhr, p. 47). Attempts 
have been made to determine the year of the taking of Nineveh, 
partly with reference to the termination of the Lydio-Median 
war, and partly from the account given by Herodotus of the 
twenty-eight years duration of the Scythian rule in Asia. 
Starting from the fact, that the eclipse of the sun, which put 
an end to the war between Cyaxares and Alyattes, took place, 
according to the calculation of Altmann, on the 30th September 
B.C. 610 (see Ideler, Handbuch der Chronologic, i. p. 209 sqq.), 
M. v. Niebuhr (pp. 197-8) has assumed that, at the same time 
as the mediation of peace between the Lydians and Medes, an 
alliance was formed between Cyaxares and Nabopolassar for the 
destruction of Nineveh ; and as this treaty could not possibly 
be kept secret, the war against Assyria was commenced at once, 
according to agreement, with their united forces. But as it was 
impossible to carry out extensive operations in winter, the siege 
of Nineveh may not have commenced till the spring of 609 ; 
and as it lasted three years according to Ctesias, the capture 
may not have been effected before the spring of 606 B.C. It 
is true that this combination is apparently confirmed by the 
fact, that during that time the Egyptian king Necho forced his 
way into Palestine and Syria, and after subduing all Syria, 
advanced to the Euphrates ; since this advance of the Egyptian 

CHAP. III. 18, 19. 45 

is most easily explained on the supposition that Nabopolassar 
was so occupied with the war against Nineveh, that he could 
not offer any resistance to the enterprise of Necho. And the 
statement in 2 Kings xxiii. 29, that Necho had come up to fight 
against the king of Asshur on the Euphrates, appears to favour 
the conclusion, that at that time (i.e. in the year of Josiah s 
death, 610 B.C.) the Assyrian empire was not yet destroyed. 
Nevertheless there are serious objections to this combination. 
In the first place, there is the double difficulty, that Cyaxares 
would hardly have been in condition to undertake the war 
against Nineveh in alliance with Nabopolassar, directly after 
the conclusion of peace with Alyattes, especially after he had 
carried on a war for five years, without being able to defeat his 
enemy ; and secondly, that even Nabopolassar, after a fierce 
three years conflict with Nineveh, the conquest of which was 
only effected in consequence of the wall of the city having been 
thrown down for the length of twenty stadia, would hardly 
possess the power to take the field at once against Pharaoh 
Necho, who had advanced as far as the Euphrates, and not only 
defeat him at Carchemish, but pursue him to the frontier of 
Egypt, and wrest from him all the conquests that he had 
effected, as would necessarily be the case, since the battle at 
Carchemish was fought in the year 606 ; and the pursuit of 
the defeated foe by Nebuchadnezzar, to whom his father had 
transferred the command of the army because of his own age 
and infirmity, even to the very border of Egypt, is so distinctly 
attested by the biblical accounts (2 Kings xxiv. 1 and 7 ; Jer. 
xlvi. 2), and by the testimony of Berosus in Josephus (Ant. x. 
11, 1, and c. Ap. i. 19), that these occurrences are placed 
beyond the reach of doubt (see comm. on 2 Kings xxiv. 1). 
These difficulties would not indeed be sufficient in themselves 
to overthrow the combination mentioned, provided that the year 
610 could be fixed upon with certainty as the time when the 
Lydio-Median war was brought to a close. But that is not the 
case ; and this circumstance is decisive. The eclipse of the 
sun, which alarmed Cyaxares and Alyattes, and made them 
disposed for peace, must have been total, or nearly total, in 
Central Asia and Cappadocia, to produce the effect described* 
But it has been proved by exact astronomical calculations, that 
on the 30th September 610 B.C., the shadow of the moon did not 

46 NAHUM. 

fall upon those portions of Asia Minor, whereas it did so on the 
18th May 622, after eight o clock in the morning, and on the 
28th May 585 (vid. Bumull. p. 315, and M. v. Niehuhr, pp. 
48, 49). Of these two dates the latter cannot come into con 
sideration at all, because Cyaxares only reigned till the year 
594 ; and therefore, provided that peace had not been con 
cluded with Alyattes before 595, he would not have been able to 
carry on the war with Nineveh and conquer that city. On the 
other hand, there is no valid objection that can be offered to 
our transferring the conclusion of peace with the Lydian king 
to the year 622 B.C. Since, for example, Cyaxares became 
king as early as the year 634, he might commence the war with 
the Lydians as early as the year 627 or 628 ; and inasmuch as 
Nabopolassar was king of Babylon from 625 to 605, he might 
very well help to bring about the peace between Cyaxares and 
Alyattes in the year 622. In this way we obtain the whole 
space between 622 and 605 B.C. for the war with Nineveh ; so 
that the city may have been taken and destroyed as early as 
the years 615-610. 

Even the twenty-eight years duration of the Scythian supre 
macy in Asia, which is recorded by Herodotus (i. 104, 106, cf. 
iv. 1), cannot be adduced as a well-founded objection. For if 
the Scythians invaded Media in the year 633, so as to compel 
Cyaxares to relinquish the siege of Nineveh, and if their rule 
in Upper Asia lasted for twenty-eight years, the expedition 
against Nineveh, which led to the fall of that city, cannot have 
taken place after the expulsion of the Scythians in the year 
605, because the Assyrian empire had passed into the hands 
of the Chaldseans before that time, and Nebuchadnezzar had 
already defeated Necho on the Euphrates, and was standing 
at the frontier of Egypt, when he received the intelligence of 
his father s death, which led him to return with all speed to 
Babylon. There is no other alternative left, therefore, than 
either to assume, as M. v. Niebuhr does (pp. 119, 120), that 
the war of Cyaxares with the Lydians, and also the last war 
against Nineveh, and probably also the capture of Nineveh, 
and the greatest portion of the Median conquests between 
Ararat and Halys, fell within the period of the Scythian 
sway, so that Cyaxares extended his power as a vassal of the 
Scythian Great Khan as soon as he had recovered from the 

CHAP. III. 18. 19. 47 

first blow received from these wild hordes, inasmuch as that 
sovereign allowed his dependent to do just as he liked, provided 
that he paid the tribute, and did not disturb the hordes in their 
pasture grounds ; or else to suppose that Cyaxares drove out 
the Scythian hordes from Media at a much earlier period, and 
liberated his own country from their sway ; in which case the 
twenty-eight years of Herodotus would not indicate the period 
of their sway over Media and Upper Asia, but simply the 
length of time that they remained in Hither Asia generally, 
or the period that intervened between their first invasion and 
the complete disappearance of their hordes. If Cyaxares had 
driven the Scythians out of his own land at a much earlier 
period, he might extend his dominion even while they still kept 
their position in Hither Asia, and might commence the war 
with the Lydians as early as the year 628 or 627, especially 
as his wrath is said to have been kindled because Alyattes 
refused to deliver up to him a Scythian horde, which had 
first of all submitted to Cyaxares, and then fled into Lydia to 
Alyattes (Herod, i. 73). Now, whichever of these two com 
binations be the correct one, they both show that the period of 
the war commenced by Cyaxares against Nineveh, in alliance 
w th Nabopolassar, cannot be determined by the statement 
made by Herodotus with regard to the twenty-eight years of the 
Scythian rule in Asia ; and this Scythian rule, generally, does 
not compel us to place the taking and destruction of Nineveh, 
and the dissolution of the Assyrian empire, as late as the year 
605 B.C., or even later. 

At this conquest Nineveh was so utterly destroyed, that, as 
Strabo (xvi. 1, 3) attests, the city entirely disappeared imme 
diately after the dissolution of the Assyrian kingdom (rj 
ovv Nivos TroXt? r)(j)avio-$r] Trapa^prj^a fjuera rrjv rwv 
KCLTakvaiv). When Xenophon entered the plain of Nineveh, 
in the year 401, on the retreat of the ten thousand Greeks, he 
found the ruins of two large cities, which he calls Larissa and 
Mespila, and by the side of the first a stone pyramid of 200 
feet in height and 100 feet in breadth, upon which many of 
the inhabitants of the nearest villages had taken refuge, and 
heard from the inhabitants that it was only by a miracle that 
it had been possible for the Persians to conquer those cities 
with their strong walls (Xenoph. Anab. iii. 4, 7 sqq.). These 

43 NAHUM. 

ruined cities had been portions of the ancient Nineveh : Larissa 
was Calali ; and Mespila, Kouyunjik. Thus Xenophon passed 
by the walls of Nineveh without even learning its name. Four 
hundred years after (according to Tacitus, Annal. xii. 13), a 
small fortress stood on this very spot, to guard the crossing of 
the Tigris; and the same fortress is mentioned by Abul-Pharaj 
in the thirteenth century (Hist. Dynast, pp. 266, 289, 353). 
Opposite to this, on the western side of the Tigris, Mosul 
had risen into one of the first cities of Asia, and the ruins of 
Nineveh served as quarries for the building of the new city, 
so that nothing remained but heaps of rubbish, which even 
Niebuhr took to be natural heights in the year 1766, when he 
was told, as he stood by the Tigris bridge, that he was in the 
neighbourhood of ancient Nineveh. So completely had this 
mighty city vanished from the face of the earth ; until, in the 
most recent times, viz. from 1842 onwards, Botta the French 
consul, and the two Englishmen Layard and Rawlinson, insti 
tuted excavations in the heaps, and brought to light numerous 
remains of the palaces and state-buildings of the Assyrian 
rulers of the world. Compare the general survey of these 
researches, and their results, in Herm. J. C. Weissenborn s 
Ninive u. seiu Gebiet., Erfurt 1851, and 56, 4. 

But if Nahum s prophecy was thus fulfilled in the destruc 
tion of Nineveh, even to the disappearance of every trace of its 
existence, we must not restrict it to this one historical event, 
but must bear in mind that, as the prophet simply saw in 
Nineveh the representative for the time of the power of the 
world in its hostility to God, so the destruction predicted to 
Nineveh applied to all the kingdoms of the world which have 
risen up against God since the destruction of Asshur, and 
which will still continue to do so to the end of the world. 



IERSON OF THE PROPHET. Nothing certain is 
known as to the circumstances of Habakkuk s 
life. The name plp^n, formed from P^n, to fold 
the hands, piel to embrace, by a repetition of 
the last radical with the vowel u, like pvjtt from PVJ, rn , V1 ^ 
from "W, etc., and a reduplication of the penultimate (cf. 
Ewald, 157, a), signifies embracing; and as the name of a 
person, either one who embraces, or one who is embraced. 
Luther took the name in the first sense. " Habakkuk," he 
says, " signifies an embracer, or one who embraces another, or 
takes him to his arms," and interpreted it thus in a clever 
although not perfectly appropriate manner : " He embraces his 
people, and takes them to his arms, i.e. he comforts them and 
holds (lifts) them up, as one embraces a weeping child or person, 
to quiet it with the assurance that if God will it shall be better 
soon." The LXX. wrote the name Apffa/covfj,, taking the 
word as pronounced P^pan, and compensating for the doubling 
of the 2 by the liquid p, and changing the closing p into p. 
Jerome in his translation writes the name Habacuc. In the 
headings to his book (ch. i. 1 and iii. 1) Habakkuk is simply 
described by the epithet K 3jn, as a man who held the office of 
a prophet. From the conclusion to the psalm in ch. iii., " To 
the leader in the accompaniment to my playing upon stringed 
instruments" (ver. 19), we learn that he was officially qualified 
to take part in the liturgical singing of the temple, and there 
fore belonged to one of the Levitical families, who were charged 
with the maintenance of the temple music, and, like the pro 
phets Jeremiah and Ezekiel, who sprang from priestly house 
holds, belonged to the tribe of Levi. This is supported by the 
superscription of the apocryphon of Bel and the dragon at 

VOL. II. X> 


Babel, ex TrpofoiTeias A/jipaicovfj, vlov Irjaov IK r?)? 
Aevt, which has been preserved in the Cod. Chisian. of the 
LXX. from Origen s tetrapla, and has passed into the Syrio- 
hexaplar. version ; even if this statement should not be founded 
upon tradition, but simply inferred from the subscription to 
ch. iii. 19. For even in that case it would prove that "Tri^a 
was understood in ancient times as signifying that the prophet 
took part in the liturgical singing of the temple. 1 On the other 
hand, the rest of the legends relating to our prophet are quite 
worthless : viz. the circumstantial account in the apocryphal 
book of Bel and the Dragon of the miraculous way in which 
Habakkuk was transported to Daniel, who had been cast into 
the lions den, which is also found in a MS. of the Midrash 
Beresliit rdbba ; and also the statements contained in the writings 
of Ps. Doroth. and Ps. Epiph. de vitis prophet., that Habakkuk 
sprang from the tribe of Simeon; that he was born at Brjd- 
^XnP (Sozomenus, Xa<f)ap Za%apia, the talmudic p.?*] ^?)> 
a hamlet to the north of Lydda, near to Maresha on the moun 
tains ; that when Nebuchadnezzar came to Jerusalem, he fled 
to Ostrakine (on the promontory now called Ras Straki, situated 
in the neighbourhood of Arabia Petraea) ; and that he died on 
his native soil two years after the return of the people from 
Babylon, and was buried at the spot between Keila and Ga- 
batha, where his grave was still shown in the time of Eusebius 
and Jerome (cf. Onomast. ed. Lars, et Parthey, pp. 128-9). 

1 There is not much probability in this conjecture, however, since tho 
. have not understood the subscription in this sense, but have rendered 
it incorrectly roy vDcviaxi \v ry uty avrov, which has led the fathers to take 
the words as belonging to the psalm itself, and to understand it as relating 
to the songs of praise which the church would raise to God for the deliver 
ance which it had received. Theod. Mops, explains it in this way : " He 
sets us higher than all the rest, so that nothing else becomes us than to 
continue in the songs and hymns which are due to God, because, against 
all human hope, He has given us the victory over our enemies." Cyril of 
Alex, and Theodoret give similar explanations. Even Jerome, in his render 
ing " et super excelsa mea deducet me victori in psalmis canentem" connects 
the words with the preceding sentence, and interprets them as referring 
to the songs of praise which " every righteous man who is worthy of the 
election of God" will raise at the end of the world to the great conqueror 
"Jesus, who was the first to conquer in the fight." With such an explana 
tion of the words as these, it was impossible to see any intimation of the 
Levitical descent of the prophet in the expression vi 


For further particulars as to the apocryphal legends, see 
Delitzsch, De Ilabacuci proph. vita atgue (state commentat., 
ed. ii., Lps. 1842. 

These legends do not even help us to fix the date of Ha- 
bakkuk s life. All that can be gathered with any certainty 
from his own writings is that he prophesied before the arrival 
of the Chaldseans in Palestine, i.e. before the victory gained 
by Nebuchadnezzar over Pharaoh Necho at Carchemish in the 
fourth year of Jehoiakim (Jer. xlvi. 2), since he announces the 
bringing up of this people to execute judgment upon Judah 
as something still in the future (ch. i. 5 sqq.). Opinions are 
divided as to the precise date at which he lived. Leaving out 
of sight the opinions of those who deny the supernatural cha 
racter of prophecy, and therefore maintain that the prophet did 
not prophesy till the Chaldseans were coming against Jerusalem 
after the defeat of Necho, or had already arrived there, the 
only question that can arise is, whether Habakkuk lived and 
laboured in the reign of Josiah or in the closing years of 
Manasseh. Many have found a decisive proof that he lived in 
the reign of Josiah in ch. i. 5, viz. in the fact that the prophet 
there foretels the Chaldean judgment as a work which God 
will perform during the lifetime of the persons to whom his 
words are addressed ("in your days") ; and they have inferred 
from this that we must not at any rate go beyond Josiah s 
reign, because the prophet is not speaking to the children, but 
to the adults, i.e. to those who have reached the age of man 
hood. But the measure of time by which to interpret b^WZ 
cannot be obtained either from Joel i. 2, where the days of the 
persons addressed are distinguished from the days of the fathers 
and grandchildren, or from Jer. xvi. 9 and Ezek. xii. 25 ; but 
this expression is quite a relative one, especially in prophetic 
addresses, and may embrace either a few years only, or a 
complete lifetime, and even more. Now, as there were only 
thirty-eight years between the death of Manasseh and the first 
invasion of the Chaldseans, the Chaldasan judgment might very 
well be announced during the last years of that king to the then 
existing generation as one that would happen in their days. 
We are precluded from placing the announcement in the time 
immediately preceding the appearance of the Chaldseans in 
Hither Asia, say in the first years of Jehoiakim or the closing 


years of Josiah s reign, by the fact that Habakkuk represents 
this work of God as an incredible one : " Ye would not believe 
it, if it were told you" (ch. i. 5). Moreover, it is expressly re 
lated in 2 Kings xxi. 10-16 and 2 Chron. xxxiii. 10, that in the 
time of Manasseh Jehovah caused His prophets to announce the 
coming of such a calamity, " that both ears of all who heard it 
would tingle" namely, the destruction of Jerusalem and rejec 
tion of Judah. In all probability, one of these prophets was 
Habakkuk, who was the first of all the prophets known to us 
to announce this horrible judgment. Zephaniah and Jeremiah 
both appeared with the announcement of the same judgment 
in the reign of Josiah, and both took notice of Habakkuk in 
their threatenings. Thus Zephaniah quite as certainly bor 
rowed the words nirv ^ rjao on in ch. i. 7 from Hab. ii. 20," 
as Zechariah did the words njn; \JS? "*?"^ D! ? in ch. ii. 17; 
and Jeremiah formed the expressions VD^iD D HK^p -\?\) in ch. 
iv. 13 and nu-)_y 3KT in ch. v. 6 on the basis of VOID nnfiao ^j5 
3"!? *5*?ttp nrn in Hab. i. 8, not to mention other passages of 
Jeremiah that have the ring of our prophet, which Delitzsch 
has collected in his Der Proph. Hab. ausgelegt (p. xii.). This 
decidedly upsets the theory that Habakkuk did not begin to 
prophesy till the reign of Jehoiakim ; although, as such resem 
blances and allusions do not preclude the contemporaneous 
ministry of the prophets, there still remains the possibility that 
Habakkuk may not have prophesied till the time of Josiah, and 
indeed not before the twelfth year of Josiah s reign, when he 
commenced the extermination of idolatry and the restoration of 
the worship of Jehovah, since Habakkuk s prayer, which was 
intended according to the subscription for use in the temple, 
presupposes the restoration of the Jehovah-worship with the 
liturgical service of song. But the possibility is not yet raised 
into a certainty by these circumstances. Manasseh also caused 
the idols to be cleared away from the temple after his return 
from imprisonment in Babylon, and not only restored the altar 
of Jehovah, and ordered praise-offerings and thank-offerings 
to be presented upon it, but commanded the people to serve 
Jehovah the God of Israel (2 Chron. xxxiii. 15, 16). Conse 
quently Habakkuk might have composed his psalm at that time 
for use in the temple service. And this conjecture as to its age 
acquires extreme probability when we look carefully at the 


contents and form of the prophecy. Apart from the rather 
more distinct and special description of the wild, warlike, and 
predatory nature of the Chaldseans, the contents retain through 
out an ideal character, without any allusion to particular histo 
rical relations, such as we find for example in great abundance 
in Jeremiah, who prophesied in the thirteenth year of Josiah, 
and which are not altogether wanting in Zephaniah, notwith 
standing the comprehensive character of his prophecy. If we 
look at the form, Habakkuk s prophecy still bears completely 
the antique stamp of the earlier prophetic literature. "His 
language," to use the words of Delitzsch, " is classical through 
out, full of rare and select words and turns, which are to some 
extent exclusively his own, whilst his view and mode of presen 
tation bear the seal of independent force and finished beauty. 
Notwithstanding the violent rush and lofty soaring of the 
thoughts, his prophecy forms a finely organized and artistically 
rounded whole. Like Isaiah, he is, comparatively speaking, 
much more independent of his predecessors, both in contents 
and form, than any other of the prophets. Everything reflects 
the time when prophecy was in its greatest glory, when the 
place of the sacred lyrics, in which the religious life of the 
church had hitherto expressed itself, was occupied, through a 
still mightier interposition on the part of God, by prophetic 
poetry with its trumpet voice, to reawaken in the church, now 
spiritually dead, the consciousness of God which had so utterly 
disappeared." On the other hand, the turning-point came as 
early as Zechariah, and from that time forwards the poetic 
swing of the prophetic addresses declines and gradually disap 
pears, the dependence upon the earlier predecessors becomes 
more predominant ; and even with such thoroughly original 
natures as Ezekiel and Zechariah, their style of composition 
cannot rise very far above simple prose. 

2. THE BOOK OF HABAKKUK contains neither a collection 
of oracles, nor the condensation into one discourse of the 
essential contents of several prophetic addresses, but one single 
prophecy arranged in two parts. In the first part (ch. i. and 
ii.), under the form of a conversation between God and the 
prophet, we have first of all an announcement of the judgment 
which God is about to bring upon the degenerate covenant 


nation through the medium of the Chaldseans ; and secondly, an 
announcement of the overthrow of the Chalda?an, who has lifted 
himself up even to the deification of his own power. To this 
there is appended in ch. iii., as a second part, the prophet s 
prayer for the fulfilment of the judgment ; and an exalted 
lyric psalm, in which Habakkuk depicts the coming of the 
Lord in the terrible glory of the Almighty, at whose wrath the 
universe is terrified, to destroy the wicked and save His people 
and His anointed, and gives utterance to the feelings which 
the judgment of God will awaken in the hearts of the righteous. 
The whole of the prophecy has an ideal and universal stamp. 
Not even Judah and Jerusalem are mentioned, and the Chal- 
dseans who are mentioned by name are simply introduced as the 
existing possessors of the imperial power of the world, which 
was bent upon the destruction of the kingdom of God, or as 
the sinners who swallow up the righteous man. The announce 
ment of judgment is simply a detailed expansion of the thought 
that the unjust man and the sinner perish, whilst the just will 
live through his faith (ch. ii. 4). This prophecy hastens on 
towards its fulfilment, and even though it should tarry, will 
assuredly take place at the appointed time (ch. ii. 2, 3). 
Through the judgment upon the godless ones in Judah and 
upon the Chaldaeans, the righteousness of the holy God will be 
manifested, and the earth will be filled with, the knowledge of 
the glory of the Lord (ch. ii. 14). Although the fact that the 
Chaldeans are mentioned by name leaves no doubt whatever 
that the judgment will burst upon Judah through this wild 
conquering people, the prophecy rises immediately from this 
particular judgment to a view of the universal judgment upon 
all nations, yea, upon the whole of the ungodly world, to pro 
claim their destruction and the dawning of salvation for the 
people of the Lord and the Lord s anointed ; so that the trem 
bling at the terrors of judgment is resolved at the close into 
joy and exultation in the God of salvation. There can be no 
doubt as to the unity of the book ; and the attempt to interpret 
the threat of judgment in ch. ii. by applying it to particular 
historical persons and facts, has utterly failed. 

For the exegetical works on Habakkuk, see my Einleitung 
in das alte Testament, 302-3. 

CHAP. I. 1-4. 55 




The lamentation of the prophet over the dominion of 
wickedness and violence (vers. 2-4) is answered thus by the 
Lord : He will raise up the Chaldaeans, who are to execute the 
judgment, as a terrible, world-conquering people, but who will 
offend by making their might into their god (vers. 5-11) ; 
whereupon the prophet, trusting in the Lord, who has proved 
Himself to His people from time immemorial to be a holy and 
righteous God, expresses the hope that this chastisement will 
not lead to death, and addresses the question to God, whether 
with His holiness He can look calmly upon the wickedness of 
this people, in gathering men into their net like fishes, and 
continuing in the most unsparing manner to slay the nations 
(vers. 12-17). 

Ver. 1 contains the heading not only to ch. i. and ii., but 
to the whole book, of which ch. iii. forms an integral part. 
On the special heading in ch. iii. 1, see the comm. on that 
verse. The prophet calls his writing a massd , or burden (see 
at Nahum i. 1), because it announces heavy judgments upon 
the covenant nation and the imperial power. 

Vers. 2-4. The prophet s lamentation. Ver. 2. " How long, 
Jehovah, have I cried, and Thou hearest not ? I cry to Thee, 
Violence ; and Thou helpest not! Ver. 3. Why dost Thou let me 
see mischief, and Thou lookest upon distress ? devastation and 
violence are before me : there arises strife, and contention lifts 
itself up. Ver. 4. Therefore the law is benumbed, and justice 
comes not forth for ever : for sinners encircle the righteous man ; 
therefore justice goes forth perverted" This complaint, which 
involves a petition for help, is not merely an expression of the 
prophet s personal desire for the removal of the prevailing 
unrighteousness ; but the prophet laments, in the name of the 
righteous, i.e. the believers in the nation, who had to suffer 


under the oppression of the wicked ; not, however, as Rosen- 
miiller and Ewald, with many of the Rabbins, suppose, over 
the acts of wickedness and violence which the Chaldseans per 
formed in the land, but over the wicked conduct of the ungodly 
of his own nation. For it is obvious that these verses refer 
to the moral depravity of Judah, from the fact that God 
announces His purpose to raise up the Chaldgeans to punish it 
(vers. 5 sqq.). It is true that, in vers. 9 and 13, wickedness 
and violence are attributed to the Chaldeans also ; but all that 
can be inferred from this is, that " in the punishment of the 
Jewish people a divine talio prevails, which will eventually fall 
upon the Chaldseans also " (Delitzsch). The calling for help 
(W) is described, in the second clause, as crying over wicked 
ness. DE>n is an accusative, denoting what he cries, as in Job 
xix. 7 and Jer. xx. 8, viz. the evil that is done. Not hearing is 
equivalent to not helping. The question nj&T*iy indicates that 
the wicked conduct has continued a long time, without God 
having put a stop to it. This appears irreconcilable with the 
holiness of God. Hence the question in ver. 3: Wherefore dost 
Thou cause me to see mischief, and lookest upon it Thyself ? 
which points to Num. xxiii. 21, viz. to the words of Balaam, 
" God hath not beheld iniquity ( dven) in Jacob, neither hath 
He seen perverseness (dmdl) in Israel." This word of God, in 
which Balaam expresses the holiness of Israel, which remains 
true to the idea of its divine election, is put before the Lord in 
the form of a question, not only to give prominence to the 
falling away of the people from their divine calling, and their 
degeneracy into the very opposite of what they ought to be, 
but chiefly to point to the contradiction involved in the fact, that 
God the Holy One does now behold the evil in Israel and leave 
it unpunished. God not only lets the prophet see iniquity, but 
even looks at Himself. This is at variance with His holiness. 
flX, nothingness, then worthlessness, wickedness (cf. Isa. i. 13). 
-TO, labour, then distress which a man experiences or causes to 
others (cf. Isa. x. 1). CPan, to see, not to cause to see. Ewald 
has revoked the opinion, that we have here a fresh hiphil, 
derived from a hipliil. With 131 1b> the address is continued in 
the form of a simple picture. Shod v e chdmds are often con 
nected (e.g. Arnos iii. 10 ; Jer. vi. 7, xx. 8 ; Ezek. xlv. 9). 
Shod is violent treatment causing desolation. Chdmds is mali- 

CHAP. I. 5. 57 

cious conduct intended to injure another. W, it comes to 
pass, there arises strife (rlbh) in consequence of the violent 
and wicked conduct. Kfe?, to rise up, as in Hos. xiii. 1, Ps. 
Ixxxix. 10. The consequences of this are relaxation of the 
law, etc. I?" }?, therefore, because God does not interpose to 
stop the wicked conduct. JfiB, to relax, to stiffen, i.e. to lose 
one s vital strength, or energy. Tordh is " the revealed law in 
all its substance, which was meant to be the soul, the heart of 
political, religious, and domestic life" (Delitzsch). Right does 
not come forth, i.e. does not manifest itself, Idnetsach, lit. for 
a permanence, i.e. for ever, as in many other passages, e.g. Ps. 
xiii. 2, Isa. xiii. 20. HVi? belongs to N^>, not for ever, i.e. never 
more. Mislipdt is not merely a righteous verdict, however ; in 
which case the meaning would be : There is no more any right 
eous verdict given, but a righteous state of things, objective 
right in the civil and political life. For godless men (V^, 
without an article, is used with indefinite generality or in a col 
lective sense) encircle the righteous man, so that the righteous 
cannot cause right to prevail. Therefore right comes forth 
perverted. The second clause, commencing with JS"^, com 
pletes the first, adding a positive assertion to the negative. 
The right, which does still come to the light, is ??$&, twisted, 
perverted, the opposite of right. To this complaint Jehovah 
answers in vers. 5-11 that He will do a marvellous work, 
inflict a judgment corresponding in magnitude to the prevailing 

Ver. 5. " Look ye among the nations, and see, and be amazed, 
amazed ! for I work a work in your days : ye would not believe 
it if it were told you." The appeal to see and be amazed is 
addressed to the prophet and the people of Judah together. It 
is very evident from ver. 6 that Jehovah Himself is speaking 
here, and points by anticipation to the terrible nature of the 
approaphing work of His punitive righteousness, although bys 
is written indefinitely, without any pronoun attached. More 
over, as Delitzsch and Hitzig observe, the meaning of the 
appeal is not, " Look round among the nations, whether any 
such judgment has ever occurred ;" but, " Look about among 
the nations, for it is thence that the terrible storm will burst 
that is about to come upon you" (cf. Jer. xxv. 32, xiii. 20). 
The first and ordinary view, in support of which Lam. i. 12, 


Jer. ii. 10 and xviii. 13, are generally adduced, is precluded 
by the fact, (1) that it is not stated for what they are to look 
round, namely, whether anything of the kind has occurred 
here or there (Jer. ii. 10) ; (2) that the unparalleled occur 
rence has not been mentioned at all yet ; and (3) that what 
they are to be astonished or terrified at is not their failure 
to discover an analogy, but the approaching judgment itself. 
The combination of the kal, tdmdli, with the hiphil of the same 
verb serves to strengthen it, so as to express the highest degree 
of amazement (cf. Zeph. ii. 1, Ps. cxviii. 11, and Ewald, 313, c). 
S 3 ? ybr, introduces the reason not only for the amazement, but 
also for the summons to look round. The two clauses of the 
second hemistich correspond to the two clauses of the first half 
of the verse. They are to look round, because Jehovah is 
about to perform a work ; they are to be amazed, or terrified, 
because this work is an amazing or a terrible one. The par 
ticiple ?ya denotes that which is immediately at hand, and is 
used absolutely, without a pronoun. According to ver. 6, ^N 
is the pronoun we have to supply. For it is not practicable 
to supply Kin, or to take the participle in the sense of the third 
person, since God, when speaking to the people, cannot speak 
of Himself in the third person, and even in that case njrp could 
not be omitted. Hitzig s idea is still more untenable, namely, 
that pool is the subject, and that poel is used in an intransitive 
sense : the work produces its effect. We must assume, as 
Delitzsch does, that there is a proleptical ellipsis, i.e. one in 
which the word immediately following is omitted (as in Isa. 
xlviii. 11, Zech. ix. 17). The admissibility of this assumption 
is justified by the fact that there are other cases in which the 
participle is used and the pronoun omitted; and that not merely 
the pronoun of the third person (e.g. Isa. ii. 11, Jer. xxxviii. 
23), but that of the second person also (1 Sam. ii. 24, vi. 3, 
and Ps. vii. 10). On the expression M^ ? (in your days), see 
the Introduction, p. 51. y"ONn &&, ye would not believe it if it 
were told you, namely, as having occurred in another place or 
at another time, if ye did not see it yourselves (Delitzsch and 
Hitzig). Compare Acts xiii. 41, where the Apostle Paul 
threatens the despisers of the gospel with judgment in the 
words of our verse. 

Vers. 6-11. Announcement of this work. Ver. 6. "For, 

CHAP. I. 6-11. 59 

behold, I cause the Chaldceans to rise up, the fierce and vehement 
nation, which marches along the breadths of the earth, to take 
possession of dwelling-places that are not its own. Ver. 7. It 
is alarming and fearful : its right and its eminence go forth from 
it. Ver. 8. And its horses are swifter than leopards, and more 
sudden than evening wolves : and its horsemen spring along ; and 
its horsemen, they come from afar ; they fly hither, hastening like 
an eagle to devour. Ver. 9. It comes all at once for wickedness ; 
the endeavour of their faces is directed forwards, and it gathers 
prisoners together like sand. Ver. 10. And it, kings it scoffs 
at, and princes are laughter to it ; it laughs at every stronghold, 
and heaps up sand, and takes it. Ver. 11. Then it passes along, 
a wind, and comes hither and offends : this its strength is its 
god." 0*i?5 ^n, ecce suscitatiirus sum. nan before the participle 
always refers to the future. & !?[?, to cause to stand up or 
appear, does not apply to the elevation of the Chaldseans into 
a nation or a conquering people, for the picture which follows 
and is defined by the article W fan presupposes that it already 
exists as a conquering people, but to its being raised up 
against Judah, so that it is equivalent to D? ? Q W ^ n Amos 
vi. 14 (cf. Mic. v. 4, 2 Sam. xii. 11, etc.). ffakkasdlm, the 
Chaldseans, sprang, according to Gen. xxii. 22, from Kesed 
the son of Nahor, the brother of Abraham ; so that they were 
a Semitic race. They dwelt from time immemorial in Baby 
lonia or Mesopotamia, and are called a primeval people, goi 
me oldm, in Jer. v. 15. Abram migrated to Canaan from Ur 
of the Chaldees, from the other side of the river (Euphrates : 
Gen. xi. 28, 31, compared with Josh. xxiv. 2) ; and the Kasdim 
in Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel are inhabitants of Babel or 
Babylonia (Isa. xliii. 14, xlvii. 1, xlviii. 14, 20 ; Jer. xxi. 9, xxxii. 
4, 24, etc. ; Ezek. xxiii. 23). Babylonia is called erets Kasdim 
(Jer. xxiv. 5, xxv. 12 ; Ezek. xii. 13), or simply Kasdim (Jer. 
1. 10, li. 24, 35; Ezek. xvi. 29, xxiii. 16). The modern 
hypothesis, that the Chaldaeans were first of all transplanted 
by the Assyrians from the northern border mountains of 
Armenia, Media, and Assyria to Babylonia, and that having 
settled there, they afterwards grew into a cultivated people, 
and as a conquering nation exerted great influence in the 
history of the world, simply rests upon a most precarious inter 
pretation of an obscure passage in Isaiah (Isa. xxiii. 18), and 


has no higher value than the opinion of the latest Assyrio- 
logists that the Chaldaeans are a people of Tatar origin, 
who mingled with the Shemites of the countries bordering 
upon the Euphrates and Tigris (see Delitzsch on Isa. xxiii. 13). 
Habakkuk describes this people as mar, bitter, or rough, 
and, when used to denote a disposition, fierce (mar nepliesli, 
Judg. xviii. 25, 2 Sam. xvii. 8) ; and nimlidr, heedless or rash 
(Isa. xxxii. 4), here violent, and as moving along the breadths 
of the earth (eVt ra nfkdrt] 7779 7779, LXX. : cf. Rev. xx. 9), 
i.e. marching through the whole extent of the earth (Isa. viii. 8) : 
terram quam late patet (Ros.). p is not used here to denote the 
direction or the goal, but the space, as in Gen. xiii. 17 (Hitzig, 
Delitzsch). To take possession of dwelling-places that are not 
his own (i?~fc6 = v&O "iKte), i.e. to take possession of foreign 
lands that do not belong to him. In ver. 7 the fierce disposi 
tion of this people is still further depicted, and in ver. 8 the 
violence with which it advances. D N, formidabilis, exciting 
terror ; fcnfa, metuendus, creating alarm. U1 BB, from it, not 
from God (cf. Ps. xvii. 2), does its right proceed, i.e. it deter 
mines right, and the rule of its conduct, according to its own 
standard ; and toN*B>, its eminence (Gen. xlix. 3 ; Hos. xiii. 1), 
" its Saga (1 Cor. xi. 7) above all other nations" (Hitzig), 
making itself lord through the might of its arms. Its horses 
are lighter, i.e. swifter of foot, than panthers, which spring with 
the greatest rapidity upon their prey (for proofs of the swiftness 
of the panther, see Bochart, Hieroz. ii. p. 104, ed. Ros.), and 
vi n, lit. sharper, i.e. shooting sharply upon it. As qdlal re 
presents swiftness as a light rapid movement, which hardly 
touches the ground, so chddad, ogvv elvai, describes it as a hasty 
precipitate dash upon a certain object (Delitzsch). The first 
clause of this verse has been repeated by Jeremiah (iv. 13), 
with the alteration of one letter (viz. Dn^3 for tyn3!D). 
Wolves of the evening (cf. Zeph. iii. 3) are wolves which go 
out in the evening in search of prey, after having fasted 
through the day, not " wolves of Arabia (TUf = rw, LXX.) or 
of the desert" ( n ?^ : , Kimchi). Pdshu from push, after the 

Arabic /H^> med. Ye, to strut proudly ; when used of a horse 

and its rider, to spring along, to gallop ; or of a calf, to hop or 
jump (Jer. 1. 11 ; Mai. iii. 20). The connection between this 

CHAP. I. 6-11. 61 

and push (Nah. iii. 18), niphal to disperse or scatter one s self, 
is questionable. Delitzsch (on Job xxxv. 15) derives push in 

this verse and the passage cited from <jwU, med. Vav, in the 
sense of swimming upon the top, and apparently traces push in 
Nah. iii., as well as pash in Job xxxv. 15, to (j^ (when used 
of water : to overflow its dam) ; whilst Freytag (in the Lexicon) 
gives, as the meaning of ^f*J II., dissolvit, dissipavit. Pdrdshun 

are horsemen, not riding-horses. The repetition of VBHS does 
not warrant our erasing the words VBha ^21 as a gloss, as 
Hitzig proposes. It can be explained very simply from the 
fact, that in the second hemistich Habakkuk passes from the 
general description of the Chaldseans to a picture of their 
invasion of Judah. pinno, from afar, i.e. from Babylonia (cf. 
Isa. xxxix. 3). Their coming from afar, and the comparison 
of the rushing along of the Chaldaean horsemen to the flight of 
an eagle, points to the threat in Deut. xxviii. 49, " Jehovah 
shall bring against thee a nation from far, from the end of the 
earth, as swift as the eagle flieth," which is now about to be 
fulfilled. Jeremiah frequently uses the same comparison when 
speaking of the Chaldeans, viz. in Jer. iv. IB, xlviii. 40, xlix. 
22, and Lam. iv. 19 (cf. 2 Sam. i. 23). The a-rr. Xey. HlMO 

may mean a horde or crowd, after the Hebrew DJ, and the 

$ ^ 

Arabic **&-, or snorting, endeavouring, striving, after ^, and 
*U~, appetivit, in which case DIM would be connected with NttS, 

to swallow. But the first meaning does not suit "^lij BrvJBj 
whereas the second does, "^li?, not eastwards, but according 
to the primary meaning of B^p., to the front, forwards. Ewald 
renders it incorrectly : " the striving of their face is to storm, 
i.e. to mischief ;" for qddlm, the east wind, when used in the 
sense of storm, is a figurative expression for that which is vain 
and worthless (Hos. xii. 2 ; cf. Job xv. 2), but not for mischief. 
For *|bKl, compare Gen. xli. 49 and Zech. ix. 3 : and for ^HS, 
like sand of the sea, Hos. ii. 1. In ver. 10 wrn and Kin are 
introduced, that the words D^ipa and "WliO"^, upon which 
the emphasis lies, may be placed first. It, the Chaldsean nation, 


scoffs at kings and princes, and every stronghold, i.e. it ridi 
cules all the resistance that kings and princes offer to its 
advance, by putting forth their strength, as a perfectly fruitless 
attempt. Mitchdq, the object of laughter. The words, it 
heaps up dust and takes it (the fortress), express the facility 
with which every fortress is conquered by it. To heap up dust : 
denoting the casting up an embankment for attack (2 Sam. xx. 
15, etc.). The feminine suffix attached to WJS?^ refers ad 
sensum to the idea of a city (^y), implied in "^o, the latter 
being equivalent to "i3D "^ in 1 Sam. vi. 18, 2 Kings iii. 19, 
etc. Thus will the Chaldsean continue incessantly to overthrow 
kings and conquer kingdoms with tempestuous rapidity, till he 
offends, by deifying his own power. With this gentle hint 
at the termination of his tyranny, the announcement of the 
judgment closes in ver. 11. TK, there, i.e. in this appearance 
of his, as depicted in vers. 6-10 : not " then," in which case 
ver. 11 would affirm to what further enterprises the Chaldaeans 
would proceed after their rapidly and easily effected conquests. 
The perfects ^n and "toJW are used prophetically, representing 
the future as occurring already, ^n and ")2JJ are used synony 
mously : to pass along and go further, used of the wind or 
tempest, as in Isa. xxi. 1 ; here, as in Isa. viii. 8, of the hostile 
army overflowing the land ; with this difference, however, that 
in Isaiah it is thought of as a stream of water, whereas here it 
is thought of as a tempest sweeping over the land. The subject 
to chdlaph is not ruacli, but the Chaldsean (Kin, ver. 10) ; and 
rudch is used appositionally, to denote the manner in which it 
passes along, viz. " like a tempestuous wind" (rudch as in Job 
xxx. 15, Isa. vii. 2). DK W is not a participle, but a perfect 
with Vav rel., expressing the consequence, " and so he offends." 
In what way is stated in the last clause, in which IT does not 
answer to the relative "IPK, in the sense of " he whose power," 
but is placed demonstratively before the noun inb, like nt in 
Ex. xxxii. 1, Josh. ix. 12, 13, and Isa. xxiii. 13 (cf. Ewald, 
293, b), pointing back to the strength of the Chaldaaan, 
which has been previously depicted in its intensive and exten 
sive greatness (Delitzsch). This its power is god to it, i.e. it 
makes it into its god (for the thought, compare Job xii. 6, and 
the words of the Assyrian in Isa. x. 13). The ordinary expla 
nation of the first hemistich is, on the other hand, untenable 

CHAP. I. 12. 63 

(then its courage becomes young again, or grows), since nn 
cannot stand for inn, and ^V without an object given in the 
context cannot mean to overstep, i.e. to go beyond the proper 

Ver. 12. On this threatening announcement of the judg 
ment by God, the prophet turns to the Lord in the name of 
believing Israel, and expresses the confident hope that He as 
the Holy One will not suffer His people to perish. Ver. 12. 
" Art Thou not from olden time, Jehovah, my God, my Holy 
One f We shall not die. Jehovah, for judgment hast Thou 
appointed it ; and, Rock, founded it for chastisement" How 
ever terrible and prostrating the divine threatening may sound, 
the prophet draws consolation and hope from the holiness of 
the faithful covenant God, that Israel will not perish, but that 
the judgment will be only a severe chastisement. 1 The suppli 
catory question with which he soars to this hope of faith is 
closely connected with the divine and threatening prophecy in 
ver. 11. The Chaldsean s god is his own strength ; but Israel s 
God is Jehovah, the Holy One. On the interrogative form of 
the words ("art Thou not?"), which requires an affirmative 
reply, Luther has aptly observed that " he speaks to God inter 
rogatively, asking whether He will do this and only punish; not 
that he has any doubt on the subject, but that he shows how 
faith is sustained in the midst of conflicts, namely, that it 
appears as weak as if it did not believe, and would sink at once, 
and fail into despair on account of the great calamity which 
crushes it. For although faith stands firm, yet it cracks, and 
speaks in a very different tone when in the midst of the con 
flict from what it does when the victory is gained." But as 
the question is sure to receive an affirmative reply, the prophet 
draws this inference from it : " we shall not die," we Thy 
people shall not perish. This hope rests upon two foundations: 
viz. (1) from time immemorial Jehovah is Israel s God ; and 

1 " Therefore," says Calvin, " whoever desires to fight bravely with 
the ungodly, let him first settle the matter with God Himself, and, as it 
were, confirm and ratify that treaty which God has set before us, namely, 
that we are His people, and He will be a God to us in return. And be 
cause God makes a covenant with us in this manner, it is necessary that 
our faith should be well established, that we may go forth to the conflict 
with all the ungodly." 


(2) lie is the Holy One of Israel, who cannot leave wicked 
ness unpunished either in Israel or in the foe. This leads to 
the further conclusion, that Jehovah has simply appointed the 
Chaldsean nation to execute the judgment, to chastise Israel, 
and not to destroy His people. The three predicates applied 
to God have equal weight in the question. The God to 
whom the prophet prays is Jehovah, the absolutely constant 
One, who is always the same in word and work (see at Gen. 
ii. 4) ; He is also Elohai, my, i.e. Israel s, God, who from time 
immemorial has proved to the people whom He had chosen as 
His possession that He is their God ; and s ?hi?, the Holy One 
of Israel, the absolutely Pure One, who cannot look upon evil, 
and therefore cannot endure that the wicked should devour the 
righteous (ver. 13). rwoj fcO is not a supplicatory wish : Let us 
not die therefore ; but a confident assertion : " We shall not 
die." 1 In the second half of the verse, Y hocdh and tsur 
(rock) are vocatives. Tsur, as an epithet applied to God, is 
taken from Deut. xxxii. 4, 15, 18, and 37, where God is first 
called the Rock of Israel, as the unchangeable refuge of His 

7 O O 

people s trust. Lammislipdt, i.e. to accomplish the judgment : 
comp. Isa. x. 5, 6, where Asshur is called the rod of Jehovah s 
wrath. In the parallel clause we have nvpinp instead : " to 
chastise," namely Israel, not the Chaldseans, as Ewald sup 

The believing confidence expressed in this verse does not 
appear to be borne out by what is actually done by God. The 
prophet proceeds to lay this enigma before God in vers. 13-17, 

1 According to the Masora, fi1E3 stands as D"n1D JlpD, i<e. correctio 
scribarum for rfljon N^, thou wilt not die. These tikkune sophrim, however, 
of which the Masora reckons eighteen, are not alterations of original read 
ings proposed by the sophrim, but simply traditional definitions of what the 
sacred writers originally intended to write, though they afterwards avoided 
it or gave a different turn. Thus the prophet intended to write here : 
"Thou (God) wilt not die;" but in the consciousness that this was at 
variance with the divine decorum, he gave it this turn, " We shall not 
die." But this rabbinical conjecture rests upon the erroneous assumption 
that D^IpD is a predicate, and the thought of the question is this : "Thou 
art from of old, Thou Jehovah my God, my Holy One," according to which 
JTllDn &6 would be an exegesis of DlipO, which is evidently false. For 
further remarks on the tikkune sophrim, see Delitzsch s Commentary on ffab. 
I.e., and the Appendix, p. 206 gqq. 

CHAP. I. 13-17. 65 

and to pray for his people to be spared during the period of the 
Chaldean affliction. Ver. 13. " Art Thou too pure of eye to 
behold evil, and canst Thou not look upon distress ? Wherefore 
lookest Thou upon the treacherous ? and art silent when the 
wicked devours one more righteous than he ? Ver. 14. And 
Thou hast made men like fishes of the sea, like reptiles that have 
no ruler. Ver. 15. All of them hath he lifted up with the hook ; 
he draws them into his net, and gathers them in his fishing net ; 
he rejoices thereat, and is glad. Ver. 16. Therefore he sacri 
fices to his net, and burns incense to his landing net ; for through 
them is his portion rich, and his food fat. Ver. 17. Shall he 
therefore empty his net, and always strangle nations without 
sparing?" In ver. 13, B^JJ *)intp ? with the two clauses depen 
dent upon it, stands as a vocative, and "ilnip followed by IP as 
a comparative : purer of eyes than to be able to see. This 
epithet is applied to God as the pure One, whose eyes cannot 
bear what is morally unclean, i.e. cannot look upon evil. The 
purity of God is not measured here by His seeing evil, but is 
described as exalted above it, and not coming at all into com 
parison with it. On the relation in which these words stand 
to Num. xxiii. 21, see the remarks on ver. 3. In the second 
clause the infinitive construction passes over into the finite 
verb, as is frequently the case ; so that "15?K must be supplied 
in thought : who canst not look upon, i.e. canst not tolerate, the 
distress which the wicked man prepares for others. Wherefore 
then lookest Thou upon treacherous ones, namely, the Chal- 
dseans ? They are called OH-fa) from their faithlessly deceptive 
and unscrupulously rapacious conduct, as in Isa. xxi. 2, xxiv. 16. 
That the seeing is a quiet observance, without interposing to 
punish, is evident from the parallel t^nnn : Thou art silent at 
the swallowing of the ^?3D p^. The more righteous than he 
(the ungodly one) is not the nation of Israel as such, which, if 
not perfectly righteous, was relatively more righteous than the 
Chaldseans. This rabbinical view is proved to be erroneous, by 
the fact that in vers. 2 and 3 the prophet describes the moral 
depravity of Israel in the same words as those which he here 
applies to the conduct of the Chaldseans. The persons intended 
are rather the godly portion of Israel, who have to share in the 
expiation of the sins of the ungodly, and suffer when they are 
punished (Delitzsch). This fact, that the righteous is swallowed 
VOL. ii. E 


along with the unrighteous, appears irreconcilable with the 
holiness of God, and suggests the inquiry, how God can pos 
sibly let this be done. This strange fact is depicted still further 
in vers. 14-16 in figures taken from the life of a fisherman. 
The men are like fishes, whom the Chaldean collects together 
in his net, and then pays divine honour to his net, by which he 
has been so enriched. nbj?rn i s not dependent upon nip^ but 
continues the address in a simple picture, in which the imperfect 
with Vav convers. represents the act as the natural consequence 
of the silence of God: "and so Thou makest the men like fishes," 
etc. The point of comparison lies in the relative clause to hjto"tf?, 
" which has no ruler," which is indeed formally attached to 
frcns alone, but in actual fact belongs to E*n *|n also. "No 
ruler," to take the defenceless under his protection, and shelter 
and defend them against enemies. Then will Judah be taken 
prisoner and swallowed up by the Chaldaeans. God has given 
it helplessly up to the power of its foes, and has obviously 
ceased to be its king. Compare the similar lamentation in 
Isa. Ixiii. 19: " are even like those over whom Thou hast never 
ruled." K>En, the creeping thing, the smaller animals which 
exist in great multitudes, and move with great swiftness, refers 
here to the smaller water animals, to which the word remes is 
also applied in Ps. civ. 25, and the verb rdmas in Gen. i. 21 
and Lev. xi. 46. n?3, pointing back to the collective dddm, is 
the object, and is written first for the sake of emphasis. The 
form TO"?, instead of n^JtfJ, is analogous to the liophal TO n in 
Nahum ii. 8 and Judg. vi. 28, and also to Jjn?S] in Josh. vii. 7 : 
to take up out of the water (see Ges. 63, Anm. 4). ^rrw 
from "nj, to pull, to draw together. Chakkdh is the hook, 
cherem the net generally, mikhmereth the large fishing-net 
(o-ayrivri), the lower part of which, when sunk, touches the 
bottom, whilst the upper part floats on the top of the water. 
These figures are not to be interpreted with such speciality as 
that the net and fishing net answer to the sword and bow ; but 
the hook, the net, and the fishing net, as the things used for 
catching fish, refer to all the means which the Chaldgeans 
employ in order to subdue and destroy the nations. Luther 
interprets it correctly. " These hooks, nets, and fishing nets," 
he says, " are nothing more than his great and powerful armies, 
by which he gained dominion over all lands and people, and 

CHAP. II. 1-3. G7 

brought home to Babylon the goods, jewels, silver, and -geld, 
interest and rent of all the world." He rejoices over the suc 
cess of his enterprises, over this capture of men, and sacrifices 
and burns incense to his net, i.e. he attributes to the, means 
which he has employed the honour due to God. There is no 
allusion in these words to the custom of the Scythians and 
Sauromatians, who are said by Herodotus (iv. 59, 60) to have 
offered sacrifices every year to a sabre, which was- set - up as a 
symbol of Mars. What the Chaldsean made into his god, is 
expressed in ver. 11, namely, his own power. " He who boasts 
of a thing, and is glad and joyous on account of it, but does 
not thank the true God, makes himself into an idol, gives him 
self the glory, and does not rejoice in . God, but in his own 
strength and work" (Luther). The Chaldtean .sacrifices to his 
net, for thereby ( n Bna ? by net and yarn) his portion (clielqd) is 
fat, i.e. the portion of this booty which falls to .him, and fat is 
his food (nN"]3 is a neuter substantive). The meaning is, that 
he thereby attains to wealth and prosperity. In ver. 17 there 
is appended to this the question embracing the thought : Shall 
he therefore, because he rejoices over his rich booty, or offers 
sacrifice to his net, empty his net, sc. to throw it in afresh, and 
proceed continually to destroy nations in so unsparing-a manner? 
In the last clause the figure passes over into a literal address. 
The place of the imperfect is now taken by a periphrastic con 
struction with the infinitive : Shall he about to 
slay? On this construction, see Ges. 132, 3, Anm. 1, and 
Ewald, 237, c. ^BIT & is a subordinate clause appended in 
an adverbial sense- : unsparingly, .without sparing. . 


After receiving an answer to this supplicatory cry, the 
prophet receives a command from God : to write the oracle in 
plain characters, because it is indeed certain, but will not be 
immediately fulfilled (vers. 1-3). Then follows the word of 
God, that the just will live through his faith, but he that is 
proud and not upright will not continue (vers. 4, 5); accompanied 
by a fivefold woe upon the Chaldaean, who gathers all nations 
to himself with insatiable greediness (vers. 6-20). 

Vers. 1-3 form the introduction to the word of God, which 


the prophet receives in reply to his cry of lamentation addressed 
to the Lord in ch. i. 12-17. Ver. 1. "I will stand upon my watch- 
tower, and station myself upon the fortress, and will watch to see 
what He will say in me, and what I answer to my complaint. 
Ver. 2. Then Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and 
make it plain upon the tables, that he may run who reads it. Ver. 3. 
For the vision is yet for the appointed end, and strives after the end, 
and does not lie : if it tarry, wait for it ; for it will come, it does 
notfaiir Ver. 1 contains the prophet s conversation with himself. 
After he has poured out his trouble at the judgment announced, 
in a lamentation to the Lord (ch. i. 12-17), he encourages 
himself after a pause, which we have to imagine after ch. 
i. 17 to wait for the answer from God. He resolves to place 
himself upon his observatory, and look out for the revelation 
which the Lord will give to his questions. Mishmereth, a place 
of waiting or observing ; mdtsor, a fortress, i.e. a watch-tower 
or spying-tower. Standing upon the watch, and stationing 
himself upon the fortification, are not to be understood as 
something external, as Hitzig supposes, implying that the 
prophet went up to a steep and lofty place, or to an actual 
tower, that he might be far away from the noise and bustle of 
men, and there turn his eyes towards heaven, and direct his 
collected mind towards God, to look out for a revelation. For 
nothing is known of any such custom as this, since the cases 
mentioned in Ex. xxxiii. 21 and 1 Kings xix. 11, as extraordi 
nary preparations for God to reveal Himself, are of a totally 
different kind from this ; and the fact that Balaam the sooth 
sayer went up to the top of a bare height, to look out for a 
revelation from God (Num. xxiii. 3), furnishes no proof that 
the true prophets of Jehovah did the same, but is rather a 
heathenish feature, which shows that it was because Balaam 
did not rejoice in the possession of a firm psophetic word, that 
he looked out for revelations from God in significant phenomena 
of nature (see at Num. xxiii. 3, 4). The words of our verse 
are to be taken figuratively, or internally, like the appointment 
of the watchman in Isa. xxi. 6. The figure is taken from the 
custom of ascending high places for the purpose of looking into 
the distance (2 Kings ix. 17; 2 Sam. xviii. 24), and simply 
expresses the spiritual preparation of the prophet s soul for 
hearing the word of God within, i.e. the collecting of his mind 

CHAP. II. 1-3. 69 

by quietly entering into himself, and meditating upon the 
word and testimonies of God. Cyril and Calvin bring out the 
first idea. Thus the latter observes, that " the watch-tower is 
the recesses of the mind, where we withdraw ourselves from the 
world ;" and then adds by way of explanation, " The prophet, 
under the name of the watch-tower, implies that he extricates 
himself as it were from the thoughts of the flesh, because there 
would be no end or measure, if he wished to judge accord 
ing to his own perception ;" whilst others find in it nothing 
more than firm continuance in reliance upon the word of 
God. 1 Tsippdh, to spy or watch, to wait for the answer from 
God. " This watching was lively and assiduous diligence on 
the part of the prophet, in carefully observing everything that 
took place in the spirit of his mind, and presented itself either 
to be seen or heard" (Burk). ^""QT, to speak in me, not 
merely to or with me ; since the speaking of God to the 
prophets was an internal speaking, and not one that was per 
ceptible from without. What I shall answer to my complaint 
( r al tokhachtl), namely, first of all to myself and then to the 
rest. Tokhachath, lit. correction, contradiction. Habakkuk 
refers to the complaint which he raised against God in ch. 
i. 13-17, namely, that He let the wicked go on unpunished. 
He will wait for an answer from God to this complaint, to 
quiet his own heart, which is dissatisfied with the divine admi 
nistration. Thus he draws a sharp distinction between his own 
speaking and the speaking of the Spirit of God within him. 
Jehovah gives the answer in what follows, first of all (vers. 2, 3) 
commanding him to write the vision (chdzon, the revelation 
from God to be received by inward intuition) upon tables, so 
clearly, that men may be able to read it in running, i.e. quite 
easily. 1N3 as in Deut. xxvii. 8 ; see at Deut. i. 5. The article 
attached to rnnpn does not point to the tables set up in the 
market-places for public notices to be written upon (Ewald), 

1 Tbeodoret very appropriately compares the words of Asaph in Ps. 
Ixxiii. 16 sqq., " When I thought to know this, it was too painful for me, 
until I entered into the sanctuaries of God, and gave heed to their end ;" 
and observes, " And there, says the prophet, will I remain as appointed, 
and not leave my post, but, standing upon such a rock as that upon which 
God placed great Moses, watch with a prophet s eyes for the solution of 
the things that I seek." 


but simply means, make it clear on the tables on which thou 
shalt write it, referring to the noun implied in 3H3 (write), 
though not expressed (Delitzsch). 13 fcqip may be explained 
from ^BM &r>ij in Jer. xxxvi. IB. The question is a disputed 
one, whether this command is to be understood literally or 
merely figuratively, " simply denoting the great importance of 
the prophecy, and the consequent necessity for it to be made 
accessible to the whole nation" (Hengstenberg, Dissertation, 
vol. i. p. 460). The passages quoted in support of the literal 
view, i.e. of the actual writing of the prophecy which follows 
upon tables, viz. Isa. viii. 1, xxx. 8, and Jer. xxx. 2, are not de 
cisive. In Jer. xxx. 2 the prophet is commanded to write all 
the words of the Lord in a book (sepher) ; and so again in Isa. 
xxx. 8, if (W"7|? Fans is synonymous with FJjjn "isp^y. But in 
Isa. viii. 1 there are only two significant words, which the pro 
phet is to write upon a large table after having taken witnesses. 
It does not follow from either of these passages, that luchoth, 
tables, say wooden tables, had been already bound together 
into books among the Hebrews, so that we could be warranted 
in identifying the writing plainly upon tables with writing in a 
book. We therefore prefer the figurative view, just as in the 
case of the command issued to Daniel, to shut up his prophecy 
and seal it (Dan. xii. 4), inasmuch as the literal interpretation 
of the command, especially of the last words, would require 
that the table should be set up or hung out in some public 
place, and this cannot for a moment be thought of. The words 
simply express the thought, that the prophecy is to be laid to 
heart by all the people on account of its great importance, and 
that not merely in the present, but in the future also. This no 
doubt involved the obligation on the part of the prophet to 
take care, by committing it to writing, that it did not fall into 
oblivion. The reason for the writing is given in ver. 3. The 
prophecy is ^w, for the appointed time ; i.e. it relates to the 
period fixed by God for its realization, which was then still 
(niy) far off. 7 denotes direction towards a certain point 
either of place or time. The vision had a direction towards a 
point, which, when looked at from the present, was still in 
the future. This goal was the end (Pi?.?) towards which it 
hastened, i.e. the "last time" (HP. lyio, Dan. viii. 19; and 
} n#, Dan. viii. 17, xi. 35), the Messianic times, in which the 

CHAP. II. 4, &. 71 

judgment would fall upon the power of the world. $? HSJ, it 
pants for the end, inJiiatfim, i.e. it strives to reach the end, to 
which it refers. " True prophecy is inspired, as it were, by an 
impulse to fulfil itself" (Hitzig). ns* T is not an adjective, as in 
Ps. xxvii. 12, but the third pers. imperf . hiphil of puach ; and 
the contracted form (nDJ for D^J), without a voluntative mean 
ing, is the same as we frequently meet with in the loftier style 
of composition. M* K71, " and does not deceive," i.e. will 
assuredly take place. If it (the vision) tarry, i.e. be not ful 
filled immediately, wait for it, for it will surely take place (the 
inf. abs. Kte to add force, and N12 applying to the fulfilment of 
the prophecy, as in 1 Sam. ix. 6 and Jer. xxviii. 9), will not 
fail ; "intf, to remain behind, not to arrive (Judg. v. 28 ; 2 Sam. 
xx. o). 1 

Vers. 4, 5. With these verses the prophecy itself com 
mences; namely, with a statement of the fundamental thought, 
that the presumptuous and proud will not continue, but the 
just alone will live. Ver. 4. " Behold, puffed up, his soul is not 
straight within him : but the just, through his faith will he live. 
Ver. 5. And moreover, the wine is treacherous : a boasting man, 
he continues not ; he who has opened his soul as wide as hell, and 
is like death, and is not satisfied, and gathered all nations to him 
self, and collected all peoples to himself." These verses, although 
they contain the fundamental thought, or so to speak the head 
ing of the following announcement of the judgment upon the 
Chaldaeans, are nevertheless not to be regarded as the sum and 
substance of what the prophet was to write upon the tables. 
For they do indeed give one characteristic of two classes of 
men, with a brief intimation of the fate of both, but they con 
tain no formally rounded thought, which could constitute the 
motto of the whole; on the contrary, the description of the 

1 The LXX. have rendered jo 1 * jo ^3, OTI fyxopevos y&i, which the 
author of the Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. x. 37) has still further defined 
by adding the article, and, connecting it with pixpov oaov oaov of Isa. 
xxvi. 20 (LXX.), has taken it as Messianic, and applied to the speedy 
coming of the Messiah to judgment ; not, however, according to the exact 
meaning of the words, but according to the fundamental idea of the pro 
phetic announcement. For the vision, the certain fulfilment of which is 
proclaimed by Habakkuk, predicts the judgment upon the power of the 
world, which the Messiah will bring to completion. 


insatiable greediness of the Chalclaean is attached in ver. 55 to 
the picture of the haughty sinner, that the two cannot be sepa 
rated. This picture is given in a subjective clause, which is 
only completed by the filling up in vers. 6 sqq. The sentence 
pronounced upon the Chaldaean in vers. 4, 5, simply forms the 
preparatory introduction to the real answer to the prophet s 
leading question. The subject is not mentioned in ver. 4a, but 
may be inferred from the prophet s question in ch. i. 12-17. 
The Chaldsean is meant. His soul is puffed up. njey, perf. 
pual of ?sy, of which the hiphil only occurs in Num. xiv. 44, 
and that as synonymous with Tin in Deut. i. 43. From this, 
as well as from the noun PB V, a hill or swelling, we get the 
meaning, to be swollen up, puffed up, proud ; and in the hiphil, 
to act haughtily or presumptuously. The thought is explained 
and strengthened by rnKJJ &6, " his soul is not straight." IP), to 
be straight, without turning and trickery, i.e. to be upright, 
to does not belong to ^23 (his soul in him, equivalent to his in 
most soul), but to the verbs of the sentence. The early trans 
lators and commentators have taken this hemistich differently. 
They divide it into protasis and apodosis, and take ""^SV either 
as the predicate or as the subject. Luther also takes it in the 
latter sense : " He who is stiff-necked will have no rest in his 
soul." Burk renders it still more faithfully : ecce quce, e/ert se, 
non recta est anima ejus in eo. In either case we must supply 
"ijy N SWM after vay. But such an ellipsis as this, in which not 
only the relative word, but also the noun supporting the rela 
tive clause, would be omitted, is unparalleled and inadmissible, 
if only because of the tautology which would arise from sup 
plying nephesh. This also applies to the hypothetical view of 
rfey nan, upon which the Septuagint rendering, eav inrocrTei- 
\7]Tai, OVK euSo/eet 77 tyvxij pov ev aurw, is founded. Even 
with this view nephesh could not be omitted as the subject of 
the protasis, and in would have no noun to which to refer. 
This rendering is altogether nothing more than a conjecture, 
i?sy being confounded with vfry, and i$Q3 altered into ^W. Nor 
is it proved to be correct, by the fact that the author of the 
Epistle to the Hebrews (Heb. x. 38) makes use of the words of 
our verse, according to this rendering, to support his admoni 
tions to stedfastness. For he does not introduce the verse as 
a quotation to prove his words, but simply clothes his own 

CHAP. II. 4, 5. 73 

thoughts in these words of the Bible which floated before his 
mind, and in so doing transposes the two hemistichs, and 
thereby gives the words a meaning quite in accordance with 
the Scriptures, which can hardly be obtained from the Alexan 
drian version, since we have there to take the subject to VTO- 
crTei\f]T(u from the preceding epxpfievos, which gives no sense, 
whereas by transposing the clauses a very suitable subject can 
be supplied from 6 $MC<UO?. 

The following clause, W P^.V^ is attached adversatively, and 
in form is subordinate to the sentence in the first hemistich in 
this sense, "whilst, on the contrary, the righteous lives through 
his faith," notwithstanding the fact that it contains a very impor 
tant thought, which intimates indirectly that pride and want of 
uprightness will bring destruction upon the Chaldgean. fri^BNa 
belongs to FW, not to P^V. The tiphcliah under the word does 
not show that it belongs to tsaddig, but simply that it has the 
leading tone of the sentence, because it is placed with emphasis 
before the verb (Delitzsch). nj^DK does not denote "an honour 
able character, or fidelity to conviction" (Hitzig), but (from 
dman, to be firm, to last) firmness (Ex. xvii. 12) ; then, as an 
attribute of God, trustworthiness, unchangeable fidelity in the 
fulfilment of His promises (Deut. xxxii. 4; Ps. xxxiii. 4, Ixxxix. 
34) ; and, as a personal attribute of man, fidelity in word and 
deed (Jer. vii. 28, ix. 2 ; Ps. xxxvii. 3) ; and, in his relation 
to God, firm attachment to God, an undisturbed confidence in 
the divine promises of grace, firma fiducia and fides, so that in 
emundli the primary meanings of negmdn and lie&nin are com 
bined. This is also apparent from the fact that Abraham is 
called ne &mdn in Neh. ix. 8, with reference to the fact that it 
is affirmed of him in Gen. xv. 6 that njrra pDNn, "he trusted, 
or believed, the Lord;" and still more indisputably from the 
passage before us, since it is impossible to mistake the reference 
in n;n> froiBga ptt to Gen. xv. 6, " he believed (he &mln) in 
Jehovah, and He reckoned it to him lits e ddqdh." It is also in 
disputably evident from the context that our passage treats of 
the relation between man and God, since the words themselves 
speak of a waiting (chikkdh) for the fulfilment of a promising 
oracle, which is to be preceded by a period of severe suffering. 
" What is more natural than that life or deliverance from 
destruction should be promised to that faith which adheres 


faithfully to God, holds fast by the word of promise, and con 
fidently waits for its fulfilment in the midst of tribulation ? It 
is not the sincerity, trustworthiness, or integrity of the right 
eous man, regarded as being virtues in themselves, which are 
in danger of being shaken and giving way in such times of 
tribulation, but, as we may see in the case of the prophet him 
self, his faith. To this, therefore, there is appended the great 
promise expressed in the one word >"prp" (Delitzsch). And in 
addition to this, gmundli is opposed to the pride of the Chal- 
dsean, to his exaltation of himself above God; and for that very 
reason it cannot denote integrity in itself, but simply some 
quality which has for its leading feature humble submission to 
God, that is to say, faith, or firm reliance upon God. The 
Jewish expositors, therefore, have unanimously retained this 
meaning here, and the LXX. have rendered the word quite 
correctly Tr/o-rt?, although by changing the suffix, and giving 
etc Tr/crreoW fj^ov instead of avrov (or more properly eavTov : 
Aquila and the other Greek versions), they have missed, or 
rather perverted, the sense. The deep meaning of these words 
has been first fully brought out by the Apostle Paul (Rom. i. 17; 
Gal. iii. 11 : see also Heb. x. 38), who omits the erroneous pov 
of the LXX., and makes the declaration o StWto? e/c iricnew 
tyo-erai, the basis of the New Testament doctrine of justifica 
tion by faith. Ver. 5 is closely connected with ver. 4a, not 
only developing still further the thought which is there ex 
pressed, but applying it to the Chaldsean. ""3 *! does not mean 
" really if" (Hitzig and others), even in Job ix. 14, xxxv. 14, 
Ezek. xv. 5, or 1 Sam. xxi. 6 (see Delitzsch on Job xxxv. 14), 
but always means "still further," or "yea also, that;" and 
different applications are given to it, so that, when used as an 
emphatic assurance, it signifies " to say nothing of the fact 
that," or when it gives emphasis to the thing itself, " all the 
more because," and in negative sentences "how much less" 
(e.g. 1 Kings viii. 27). In the present instance it adds a new 
and important feature to what is stated in ver. 4a, " And add 
to this that wine is treacherous;" i.e. to those who are addicted 
to it, it does not bring strength and life, but leads to the way to 
ruin (for the thought itself, see Prov. xxiii. 31, 32). The appli 
cation to the Chaldsean is evident from the context. The fact 
that the Babylonians were very much addicted to wine is at- 

CHAP. II. 6-20. 75 

tested by ancient writers. Curtius, for example (v. 1), says, 
u Babylonii maxime in vinum et quae ebrietatem sequuntur effusi 
sunt ;" and it is well known from Dan. v. that Babylon was 
conquered while Belshazzar and the great men of his kingdom 
were feasting at a riotous banquet. The following w^ords THJ "133 
are not the object to "His, but form a fresh sentence, parallel to 
the preceding one : a boasting man, he continueth not. K?\ 
introduces the apodosis to TIT 1 "QJ, which is written absolutely. 
"ViT only occurs again in Prov. xxi. 24, and is used there as 
a parallel to IT : aXa&v (LXX.), swaggering, boasting. The 
allusion to the Chaldaean is evident from the relative clause 
which follows, and which Delitzsch very properly calls an 
individualizing exegesis to T.T 1 "OJ. But looking to what fol 
lows, this sentence forms a protasis to ver. 6, being written first 
in an absolute form, " He, the widely opened one, etc., upon 
him will all take up," etc. Hirchlbh naphsho, to widen his soul, 
i.e. his desire, parallel to paar peh, to open the mouth (Isa. v. 
14), is a figure used to denote insatiable desire. ?^^3 ? like 
Hades, which swallows up every living thing (see Prov. xxvii. 20, 
xxx. 15, 16). The comparison to death has the same meaning. 
JJ32^ $b\ does not refer to fiJD, but to the Chalda?an, who grasps 
to himself in an insatiable manner, as in ch. i. 6, 7, and 15-17. 
The imperff. consecc. express the continued gathering up of the 
nations, which springs out of his insatiable desire. 

In vers. 6-20 the destruction of the Chaldsean, which has 
been already intimated in vers. 4, 5, is announced in the form 
of a song composed of threatening sentences, which utters woes 
in five strophes consisting of three verses each : (1) upon the 
rapacity and plundering of the Chaldsean (vers. 6-8) ; (2) upon 
his attempt to establish his dynasty firmly by means of force 
and cunning (vers. 9-11) ; (3) upon his wicked ways of build 
ing (vers. 12-14) ; (4) upon his base treatment of the subju 
gated nations (vers. 15-17) ; and (5) upon his idolatry (vers. 
18-20). These five strophes are connected together, so as to 
form two larger divisions, by a refrain which closes the first and 
fourth, as well as by the promise explanatory of the threat in 
which the third and fifth strophes terminate ; of which two 
divisions the first threatens the judgment of retribution upon 
the insatiableness of the Chaldsean in three woes (ver. 56), and 
the second in two woes the judgment of retribution upon his 


pride. Throughout the whole of the threatening prophecy the 
Chaldaean nation is embraced, as in vers. 4, 5, in the ideal 
person of its ruler. 1 

Vers. 6-8. Introduction of the ode and first strophe. Ver. 
6. " Will not all these lift up a proverb upon him, and a song, a 
riddle upon him? And men will say, Woe to him who increases 
what is not his own ! For how long ? and who loadeth himself 
with the burden of pledges. Ver. 7. Will not thy biters rise up 
suddenly , and thy destroyers wake up, and thou wilt become booty 
to them ? Ver. 8. For thou hast plundered many nations, all the 
rest of the nations will plunder thee, for the blood of men and 
wickedness on the earth, the city, and all its inhabitants" Ni/n 
is here, as everywhere else, equivalent to a confident assertion. 

1 The unity of the threatening prophecy, which is brought out in the 
clearest manner in this formal arrangement, has been torn in pieces in the 
most violent manner by Hitzig, through his assumption that the oracle of 
God includes no more than vers. 4-8, and that a second part is appended 
to it in vers. 9-20, in which the prophet expresses his own thoughts and 
feelings, first of all concerning king Jehoiakim (vers. 9-14), and then con 
cerning the Egyptians (vers. 15-20). This hypothesis, of which Maurer 
observes quite correctly, Qua nulla unquam excogitata est infelicior, rests 
upon nothing more than the dogmatic assumption, that there is no such 
thing as prophecy effected by supernatural causality, and therefore Habak- 
kuk cannot have spoken of Nebuchadnezzar s buildings before they were 
finished, or at any rate in progress. The two strophes in vers. 9-14 con 
tain nothing whatever that would not apply most perfectly to the Chaldsean, 
or that is not covered by what precedes and follows (compare ver. 9a with 
6& and 8a, and ver. 10 with 5& and 8a). " The strophe in vers. 9-11 con 
tains the same fundamental thought as that expressed by Isaiah in Isa. 
xiv. 12-14 respecting the Chaldsean, viz. the description of his pride, which 
manifests itself in ambitious edifices founded upon the ruins of the pro 
sperity of strangers" (Delitzsch). The resemblance between the contents 
of this strophe and the woe pronounced upon Jehoiakim by Jeremiah in 
Jer. xxii. 13-17 may be very simply explained from the fact that Jehoi 
akim, like the Chaldsean, was a tyrant who occupied himself with the 
erection of large state buildings and fortifications, whereas the extermina 
tion of many nations does not apply in any respect to Jehoiakim. Lastly, 
there is no plausible ground whatever for referring the last two strophes 
(vers. 15-20) to the Egyptian, for the assertion that Habakkuk could not 
pass over the Egyptian in silence, unless he meant to confine himself to the 
Chaldsean, is a pure petitio principii ; and to any unprejudiced mind the 
allusion to the Chaldsean in this verse is placed beyond all possible doubt 
by Tsa. xiv. 8, where the devastation of Lebanon is also attributed to him, 
just as it is in ver. 17 of our prophecy. 

CHAP. II. 6-8. 77 

" All these :" this evidently points back to " all nations" and 
" all people." Nevertheless the nations as such, or in pleno, 
are not meant, but simply the believers among them, who 
expect Jehovah to inflict judgment upon the Chaldseans, and 
look forward to that judgment for the revelation of the glory 
of God. For the ode is prophetical in its nature, and is appli 
cable to all times and all nations. MdsMl is a sententious 
poem, as in Mic. ii. 4 and Isa. xiv. 4, not a derisive song, for 
this subordinate meaning could only be derived from the con 
text, as in Isa. xiv. 4 for example; and there is nothing to 
suggest it here. So, again, m e lUsdh neither signifies a satirical 
song, nor an obscure enigmatical discourse, but, as Delitzsch 
has shown, from the first of the two primary meanings com 
bined in the verb f*v, lucere and lascivire, a brilliant oration, 
oratio splendida, from which Ppp is used to denote an inter 
preter, so called, not from the obscurity of the speaking, but 
from his making the speech clear or intelligible, fa nvvn is in 
apposition to W7D and 7Bfo, adding the more precise definition, 
that the sayings contain enigmas relating to him (the Chal- 
daean). The enigmatical feature comes out more especially in 
the double meaning of t^EQy in ver. 6&, T-?^ in ver. 7 a, and 
P^P in ver. 16&. "i*?^ v ! serves, like "foNl? elsewhere, as a direct 
introduction to the speech. The first woe applies to the insa 
tiable rapacity of the Chaldasan. \SK? ^"IBn, who increases 
what does not belong to him, i.e. who seizes upon a large 
amount of the possessions of others. *niJ~"iJJ, for how long, sc. 
will he be able to do this with impunity ; not " how long has 
he already done this" (Hitzig), for the words do not express 
exultation at the termination of the oppression, but are a sigh 
appended to the woe, over the apparently interminable plun- 
derings on the part of the Chaldasan. "PSDiM is also dependent 
upon hoi) since the defined participle which stands at the head 
of the cry of woe is generally followed by participles undefined, 
as though the former regulated the whole (cf. Isa. v. 20 and 
x. 1). At the same time, it might be taken as a simple decla 
ration in itself, though still standing under the influence of the 
hoi ; in which case Kin would have to be supplied in thought, 
like Kttfni in ver. 10. And even in this instance the sentence 
is not subordinate to the preceding one, as Luther follows 
Rashi in assuming (" and still only heaps much slime upon 


himself") ; but is co-ordinate, as the parallelism of the clauses 
and the meaning of B^ay require. The OLTT. \ey. B N tpny is 
probably chosen on account of the resemblance in sound to 
TBDpj whilst it also covers an enigma or double entendre. Being 
formed from B2JJ (to give a pledge) by the repetition of the 
last radical, t^pliy signifies the mass of pledges (pignorum cap- 
torumcopia: Ges., Maurer, Delitzsch), not the load of guilt, 
either in a literal or a tropico-moral sense. The quantity of 
foreign property which the Chaldsean has accumulated is repre 
sented as a heavy mass of pledges, which he has taken from 
the nations like an unmerciful usurer (Deut. xxiv. 10), to point 
to the fact that he will be compelled to disgorge them in due 
time. "P???, to make heavy, i.e. to lay a heavy load upon a 
person. The word B s B?y, however, might form two words so 
far as the sound is concerned : B B 3JJ, cloud (i.e. mass) of dirt, 
which will cause his ruin as soon as it is discharged. This is 
the sense in which the Syriac has taken the word ; and Jerome 
does the same, observing, considera quam eleganter multiplicatas 
divitias densum appellaverit lutum, no doubt according to a 
Jewish tradition, since Kimchi, Eashi, and Ab. Ezra take the 
word as a composite one, and merely differ as to the explana 
tion of 2JJ. Grammatically considered, this explanation is in 
deed untenable, since the Hebrew language has formed no 
appellative nomina composita; but the word is nevertheless 
enigmatical, because, when heard from the lips, it might be 
taken as two words, and understood in the sense indicated. In 
ver. 7 the threatening hoi is still further developed. Will not 
thy biters arise ? TJf 3 = ^N D 3BO, those who bite thee. In 
the description here given of the enemy as savage vipers (cf. 
Jer. viii. 17) there is also an enigmatical double entendre, which 
Delitzsch has admirably interpreted thus: "nznsn," he says, 
" pointed to rV3in (interest). The latter, favoured by the idea 
of the Chaldsean as an unmerciful usurer, which is concen 
trated in t^piy, points to ?]KO, which is frequently connected 
with n <l 2nn, and signifies usurious interest ; and this again 
to the striking epithet B" 1 ^, which is applied to those who 
have to inflict the divine retribution upon the Chaldasan. The 
prophet selected this to suggest the thought that there would 
come upon the Chaldasan those who would demand back with 
interest (nesJiek) the capital of which he had unrighteously 

CHAP. II. 6-8. 79 

taken possession, just as he had unmercifully taken the goods 
of the nations from them by usury and pawn." rej^, from $l, 
they will awake, viz. TJWMO, those who shake or rouse thee up. 
JJTJJt, pilel of SflT, creta>, is used in Arabic of the wind (to shake 
the tree) ; hence, as in this case, it was employed to denote 
shaking up or scaring away from a possession, as is often done, 
for example, by a creditor (Hitzig, Delitzsch). niD^ p is an 
intensive plural. 

So far as this threat applies to the Chaldaeans, it was exe 
cuted by the Medes and Persians, who destroyed the Chaldaean 
empire. But the threat has a much more extensive application. 
This is evident, apart from other proofs, from ver. 8 itself, 
according to which the whole of the remnant of the nations is 
to inflict the retribution. Goylm rabblrn, " many nations : " 
this is not to be taken as an antithesis to kol-haggoylm (all 
nations) in ver. 5b, since "all nations" are simply many nations, 
as kol is not to be taken in its absolute sense, but simply in a 
relative sense, as denoting all the nations that lie within the 
prophet s horizon, as having entered the arena of history. 
Through WBf*, which is placed at the head of the concluding 
clause without a copula, the antithesis to rn?t? is sharply brought 
out, and the idea of the righteous retaliation distinctly ex 
pressed. D BJJ "^ ?, the whole remnant of the nations, is not 
all the rest, with the exception of the one Chaldaean, for y ether 
always denotes the remnant which is left after the deduction 
of a portion ; nor does it mean all the rest of the nations, who 
are spared and not subjugated, in distinction from the plun 
dered and subjugated nations, as Hitzig with many others 
imagine, and in proof of which he adduces the fact that the 
overthrow of the Chaldaeans was effected by nations that had 
not been subdued. But, as Delitzsch has correctly observed, 
this view makes the prophet contradict not only himself, but 
the whole of the prophetic view of the world-wide dominion of 
Nebuchadnezzar. According to ver. 5b, the Chaldgean has 
grasped to himself the dominion over all nations, and conse 
quently there cannot be any nations left that he has not plun 
dered. Moreover, the Chaldaean, or Nebuchadnezzar as the 
head of the Chaldaean kingdom, appears in prophecy (Jer 
xxvii. 7, 8), as he does in history (Dan. ii. 38, iii. 31, v. 19; 
throughout, as the ruler of the world in the highest sense, who 


lias subjugated all nations and kingdoms round about, and 
compelled them to serve him. These nations include the 
Medes and Elamites (= Persians), to whom the future conquest 
of Babylon is attributed in Isa. xiii. 17, xxi. 2, Jer. li. 11, 28. 
They are both mentioned in Jer. xxv. 25 among the nations, 
to whom the prophet is to reach the cup of wrath from the 
hand of Jehovah ; and the kingdom of Elam especially is 
threatened in Jer. xlix. 34 sqq. with the destruction of its 
power, and dispersion to all four winds. In these two 
prophecies, indeed, Nebuchadnezzar is not expressly men 
tioned by name as the executor of the judgment of wrath ; 
but in Jer. xxv. this may plainly be inferred from the context, 
partly from the fact that, according to ver. 9, Judah with its 
inhabitants, and all nations round about, are to be given into 
the hand of Nebuchadnezzar, and partly from the fact that in 
the list of the nations enumerated in vers. 18-26a the king of 
Sesach (i.e. Babel) is mentioned as he who is to drink the cup 
"after them" (ver. 266). The expression acharehem (after 
them) shows very clearly that the judgment upon the nations 
previously mentioned, and therefore also upon the kings of 
Elam and Media, is to occur while the ChaldaBan rule con 
tinues, i.e. is to be executed by the Chaldseans. This may, in 
fact, he inferred, so far as the prophecy respecting Elam in 
Jer. xlix. 34 sqq. is concerned, from the circumstance that 
Jeremiah s prophecies with regard to foreign nations in Jer. 
xlvi.-li. are merely expansions of the summary announcement 
in ch. xxv. 19-26, and is also confirmed by Ezek. xxxii. 24, 
inasmuch as Elam is mentioned there immediately after Assbur 
in the list of kings and nations that have sunk to the lower 
regions before Egypt. And if even this prophecy has a much 
wider meaning, like that concerning Elam in Jer. xlix. 34, and 
the elegy over Egypt, which Ezekiel strikes up, is expanded 
into a threatening prophecy concerning the heathen generally 
(see Kliefoth, Ezecli. p. 303), this further reference presup 
poses the historical fulfilment which the threatening words of 
prophecy have received through the judgment inflicted by the 
Chaldseans upon all the nations mentioned, and has in this its 
real foundation and soil. 

History also harmonizes with this prophetic announcement. 
The arguments adduced by Havernick (Daniel, p. 547 sqq.) 

CHAP. II. 6-8. 81 

to prove tli at Nebuchadnezzar did not extend his conquests to 
Elam, and neither subdued this province nor Media, are not 
conclusive. The fact that after the fall of Nineveh the con 
querors, Nabopolassar of Babylonia, and Cyaxares the king of 
Media, divided the fallen Assyrian kingdom between them, the 
former receiving the western provinces, and the latter the 
eastern, does not preclude the possibility of Nebuchadnezzar, 
the founder of the Chaldsean empire, having made war upon 
the Median kingdom, and brought it into subjection. There 
is no historical testimony, however, to the further assertion, that 
Nebuchadnezzar was only concerned to extend his kingdom 
towards the west, that his conquests were all of them in the 
lands situated there, and gave him so much to do that he could 
not possibly think of extending his eastern frontier. It is true 
that the opposite of this cannot be inferred from Strabo, xvi. 
1, 18 ;* but it may be inferred, as M. v. Niebuhr (Gesch. 
Assurs, pp. 211-12) has said, from the fact that according to 
Jer. xxvii. and xxviii., at the beginning of Zedekiah s reign, and 
therefore not very long after Nebuchadnezzar had conquered 
Jerusalem in the time of Jehoiachin, and restored order in 
southern Syria in the most energetic manner, the kings of 
Edom, Moab, Ammon, Tyre, and Zidon, entered into negotia 
tions with Zedekiah for a joint expedition against Nebuchad 
nezzar. M. v. Niebuhr infers from this that troublous times 
set in at that period for Nebuchadnezzar, and that this sudden 
change in the situation of affairs was connected with the death 
of Cyaxares, and leads to the conjecture that Nebuchadnezzar, 
who had sworn fealty to Cyaxares, refused at his death to do 
homage to his successor ; for fidelity to a father-in-law, with 
whose help the kingdom was founded, would assume a very 
different character if it was renewed to his successor. Babel 
was too powerful to accept any such enfeoffment as this. And 
even if Nebuchadnezzar was not a vassal, there could not be a 
more suitable opportunity for war with Media than that afforded 

1 This passage is quoted by Hitzig (Ezech. p. 251) as a proof that 
Elam made war upon the Babylonians, and, indeed, judging from Jer. 
xlix. 34, an unsuccessful war. But Strabo speaks of a war between the 
Elymseans (Elamites) and the Babylonians and Susians, which M. v. 
Niebuhr (p. 210) very properly assigns to the period of the alliance 
between Media (as possessor of Susa) and Babylon. 



by a change of government, since kingdoms in the East are so 
easily shaken by the death of a great prince. And there cer 
tainly was no lack of inducement to enter upon a war with 
Media. El am, for example, from its very situation, and on 
account of the restlessness of its inhabitants, must have been a 
constant apple of discord. This combination acquires extreme 
probability, partly from the fact that Jeremiah s prophecy 
concerning Elam, in which that nation is threatened with the 
destruction of its power and dispersion to all four winds, was 
first uttered at the commencement of Zedekiah s reign (Jer. 
xlix. 34), whereas the rest of his prophecies against foreign 
nations date from an earlier period, and that against Babel 
is the only one which falls later, namely, in the fourth year of 
Zedekiah (Jer. li. 59), which appears to point to the fact that at 
the commencement of Zedekiah s reign things were brewing in 
Elam which might lead to his ruin. And it is favoured in part 
by the account in the book of Judith of a war between Nabu- 
chodonosor (Nebuchadnezzar) and Media, which terminated 
victoriously according to the Rec. vulg. in the twelfth year of 
his reign, since this account is hardly altogether a fictitious one. 
These prophetic and historical testimonies may be regarded as 
quite sufficient, considering the universally scanty accounts of 
the Chaldaean monarchy given by the Greeks and Romans, to 
warrant us in assuming without hesitation, as M. v. Niebuhr 
has done, that between the ninth and twentieth years of 
Nebuchadnezzar s reign namely, at the commencement of 
Zedekiah s reign the former had to make war not only with 
Elam, but with Media also, and that it is to this eastern war 
that we should have to attribute the commotion in Syria. 

From all this we may see that there is no necessity to 
explain " all the remnant of the nations" as relating to the 
remainder of the nations that had not been subjugated, but 
that we may understand it as signifying the remnant of the 
nations plundered and subjugated by the Chaldseans (as is 
done by the LXX., Theodoret, Delitzsch, and others), which 
is the only explanation in harmony with the usage of the 
language. For in Josh, xxiii. 12 y ether haggoylm denotes the 
Canaanitish nations left after the war of extermination ; and 
in Zech. xiv. 2 yether ha dm signifies the remnant of the nation 
left after the previous conquest of the city, and the carrying 

CHAR- II. 9-11. 83 

away of half its inhabitants. In Zeph. ii. 9 y ether goi is synony 
mous with *V fl* 1 "!^, and our D^tSJJ "1JV is equivalent to J"i t| "]S^ 
D^an in Ezek. xxxvi. 3, 4. D"JX WE: on account of the human 
blood unjustly shed, and on account of the wickedness on the 
earth (clidmas with the gen. obj. as in Joel iv. 19 and Ob. 10). 
Erets without an article is not the holy land, but the earth 
generally ; and so the city (qirydh, which is still dependent 
upon chamas) is not Jerusalem, nor any one particular city, 
but, with indefinite generality, " cities." The two clauses are 
parallel, cities and their inhabitants corresponding to men and 
the earth. The Chaldaean is depicted as one who gathers men 
avid nations in his net (ch. L 14-17). And sa in Jer. 1. 23 he 
is called a hammer of the whole earth, in li. 7 a cup of reeling, 
and in li. 25 the destroyer of the whole earth. 

Vers. 911. The second woe is pronounced upon the wicked 
ness of the Chaldsean, in establishing for himself a permanent 
settlement through godless gain. Ver. 9. " Woe to him who 
getteth a godless gain for his house, to set his nest on high, to save 
himself from, the hand of calamity. Ver. 10. Thou hast con 
sulted shame, to thy house, destruction of many nations, and in- 
volve&t thy soul in guilt. Ver* 11. For the stone out of the wall 
will cry, and the spar out of the wood will answer it." To the 
Chaldsean s thirst for robbery and plunder there is attached 
quite simply the base avarice through which he seeks to pro 
cure strength and durability for his house. VV2 JJS3, to get 
gain, has in itself the subordinate idea of unrighteous gain 
or sinful covetousness, since W? denotes cutting or breaking 
something, off from another s property, though here it is still 
further strengthened by the predicate JH, evil (gain). ^rpa 
(his house) is not the palace, but the royal house of the Chal 
dean, his dynasty, as ver. 10 clearly shows, where JV3. evidently 
denotes the king s family, including the king himself. How 
far he makes V3 for his family, is more precisely defined by 
1J1 0^7. tip, Ms (the Chaldaean s) nest, is neither his capital 
nor his palace or royal castle; but the setting up of his nest 
on high is a figure denoting the founding of his government, 
and securing it against attacks. As the eagle builds its nest 
on high, to protect it from harm (cf. Job xxxix. 27), so does 
the Chaldsean seek to elevate and strengthen his rule by rob 
bery and plunder, that it may ..never be wrested from his family 


again. We might here think of the buildings erected by Nebu 
chadnezzar for the fortification of Babylon, and also of the 
building of the royal palace (see Berosus in Jos. c. Ap. i. 19). 
We must not limit the figurative expression to this, however, 
but must rather refer it to all that the Chaldgean did to estab 
lish his rule. This is called the setting on high of his nest, to 
characterize it as an emanation from his pride, and the lofty 
thoughts of his heart. For the figure of the nest, see Num. 
xxiv. 21, Ob. 4, Jer. xlix. 16. His intention in doing this is 
to save himself from the hand of adversity. V"J is not mascu 
line, the evil man ; but neuter, adversity, or " the hostile fate, 
which, so far as its ultimate cause is God (Isa. xlv. 7), is in 
evitable and irreversible" (Delitzsch). In ver. 10 the result 
of his heaping up of evil gain is announced : he has consulted 
shame to his house. fT, to form a resolution. His determi 
nation to establish his house) and make it firm and lofty by 
evil gain, will bring shame to his house, and instead of honour 
and lasting glory, only shame and ruin, fl^i?, which has been 
variously rendered, cannot be the plural of the noun iTOjj, "the 
ends of many nations," since it is impossible to attach any 
intelligent meaning to this. It is rather the infinitive of the 
verb HVp ? the occurrence of which Hitzig can only dispute by 
an arbitrary alteration of the text in four different passages, 
and is equivalent to f*Vi?, to cut off, hew off, which occurs in 
the piel in 2 Kings x. 32 and Prov. xxvi. 6, but in the kal only 
here. The infinitive construct does not stand for the inf. abs., 
or for fltopp, exscindendo, but is used substantively, and is 
governed by JTOJ, which still retains its force from the previous 
clause. Thou hast consulted (resolved upon) the cutting off, 
or destruction, of many nations. Klpini, and sinnest against 
thy soul thereby, i.e. bringest retribution upon thyself, throwest 
away thine own life. On the use of the participle in the sense 
of the second person without nriN ? see at ch. i. 5. N^n, with 
the accusative of the person, as in Prov. xx. 2 and viii. 36, 
instead of ^?32 NEn. The participle is used, because the re 
ference is to a present, which will only be completed in the 
future (Hitzig and Delitzsch). The reason for this verdict, 
and also for the hoi which stands at the head of this strophe, 
follows in ver. 11. The stone out of the wall and the spar 
out of the woodwork will cry, sc. because of the wickedness 

CHAP. II. 12-14. 85 

which thou hast practised in connection with thy buildings 
(ch. i. 2), or for vengeance (Gen. iv. 10), because they have 
been stolen, or obtained from stolen property. The apparently 
proverbial expression of the crying of stones is applied in a 
different way in Luke xix. 40. "^i? does not mean the wall of 
a room here, but, as distinguished from 1*^ the outside wall, 
and ?y, the woodwork or beams of the buildings. The air. 
Xey. D DSj lit. that which binds, from DD2 in the Syriac and 
Targum, to bind, is, according to Jerome, " the beam which is 
placed in the middle of any building to hold the walls together, 
and is generally called l^dvTwcn^ by the Greeks." The ex 
planation given by Suidas is, Bea-is ^v\wv e/A/3aXXo/^eV&)^ iv rot? 
oltco$ofj.ijcracn,) hence rafters or beams. n f^, will answer, sc. 
the stone, i.e. join in its crying (cf. Isa. xxxiv. 14). 

Vers. 12-14. The third woe refers to the building of cities 
with the blood and property of strangers. Ver. 12. " Woe to 
him who buildeth cities with bloody and foundeth castles with 
injustice. Ver. 13. Is it not, behold, from Jehovah of hosts 
that the peoples weary themselves for fire, and nations exhaust 
themselves for vanity ? Ver. 14. For the earth will be filled with 

J / v 

knowledge of the glory of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea" 
The earnest endeavour of the Chaldsean to found his dynasty 
in permanency through evil gain, manifested itself also in the 
building of cities with the blood and sweat of the subjugated 
nations. T 1 ^ and n^jp are synonymous, and are used in the 
singular with indefinite generality, like njij? in ver. 8. The 
preposition 3, attached to DW and tfyfy denotes the means 
employed to attain the end, as in Mic. iii. 10 and Jer. xxii. 13. 
This was murder, bloodshed, transportation, and tyranny of 
every kind. Konen is not a participle with the Mem dropped, 
but a perfect ; the address, which was opened with a participle, 
being continued in the finite tense (cf. Ewald, 350, a). With 
ver. 13 the address takes a different turn from that which it 
has in the preceding woes. Whereas there the woe is always 
more fully expanded in the central verse by an exposition of 
the wrong, we have here a statement that it is of Jehovah, i.e. 
is ordered or inflicted by Him, that the nations weary them 
selves for the fire. The 1 before WJ^ introduces the declara 
tion of what it is that comes from Jehovah, nan Kftn (is it 
not? behold !) are connected together, as in 2 CLron. xxv. 26, 


to poirtt to what follows as something great that was floating 
before the mind of the prophet. 65^5 T3, literally, for the need 
of the fire (compare Nah. ii. 13 and Isa. xl. 16). They labour 
for the fire, i.e. that the fire may devour the cities that have 
been built with severe exertion, which exhausts the strength of 
the nations. So far they weary themselves for vanity, since 
the buildings are one day to fall into ruins, or be destroyed. 
Jeremiah (li. 58) has very suitably applied these words to 
the destruction of Babylon. This wearying of themselves for 
vanity is determined by Jehovah, for (ver. 14) the earth shall 
be filled with the knowledge of the glory of Jehovah. That 
this may be the case, the kingdom of the world, which is hostile 
to the Lord and His glory, must be destroyed. This promise 
therefore involves a threat directed against the Chaldsean. His 
usurped glory shall be destroyed, that the glory of Jehovah of 
Sabaoth, i.e. of the God of the universe, may fill the whole 
earth. The thought in ver. 14 is formed after Isa. xi. 9, with 
trifling alterations, partly substantial, partly only formal. The 
choice of the niphal &6isn instead of the n&& of Isaiah refers 
to the actual fact, and is induced in both passages by the dif 
ferent turn given to the thought. In Isaiah, for example, this 
thought closes the description of the glory and blessedness of 
the Messianic kingdom in its perfected state. The earth is 
then full of the knowledge of the Lord, and the peace through 
out all nature which has already been promised is one fruit of 
that knowledge. In Habakkuk, on the other hand, this know 
ledge is only secured through the overthrow of the kingdom 
of the world, and consequently only thereby will the earth be 
filled with it, and that not with the knowledge of Jehovah (as 
in Isaiah), but with the knowledge of His glory ( " Itas), which 
is manifested in the judgment and overthrow of all ungodly 
powers (Isa. ii. 12-21, vi. 3, compared with the primary pas 
sage, Num. xiv. 21). " "ins is " the B6%a of Jehovah, which 
includes His right of majesty over the whole earth" (Delitzsch). 
tjVTj raa* i s altered in form, but not in sense, from the D 11 ??*? Dv 
of Isaiah ; and ^33^ is to be taken relatively, since 3 is only 
used as a preposition before a noun or participle, and not like 
a conjunction before a whole sentence (comp. Ewald, 360, a, 
with 337, c). J"i?nj is an infinitive, not a noun, with the pre 
position i> ; for K?O} MOT, is construed with the accus. rei, lit. the 

CHAP. II. 15-17. 87 

earth will be filled with the acknowledging. The water of the 
sea is a figure denoting overflowing abundance. 

Vers. 15-17. The fourth woe is an exclamation uttered 
concerning the cruelty of the Chaldsean in the treatment of the 
conquered nations. Ver. 15. " Woe to him that giveth his 
neighbour to drink, mixing thy burning wrath, and also making 
drunk, to look at their nakedness. Ver. 16. Thou hast satisfied 
thyself with shame instead of with honour; then drink thou 
also, and show the foreskin. The cup of Jehovah s right hand 
will turn to thee, and the vomiting of shame upon thy glory. 
Ver. 17. For the wickedness at Lebanon will cover thee, and the 
dispersion of the animals which frightened them ; for the blood 
of the men and the wickedness on the earth, upon the city and all 
its inhabitants? The description in vers. 15 and 16 is figu 
rative, and the figure is taken from ordinary life, where one 
man gives another drink, so as to intoxicate him, for the pur 
pose of indulging his own wantonness at his expense, or taking 
delight in his shame. This helps to explain the *njn njp^ D, who 
gives his neighbour to drink. The singular is used with inde 
finite generality, or in a collective, or speaking more correctly, 
a distributive sense. The next two circumstantial clauses are 
subordinate to ngtro in, defining more closely the mode of the 
drinking. nsD does not mean to pour in, after the Arabic ^uL: ; 

for this, which is another form for cXiLs, answers to the Hebrew 
7]BttJ ? to pour out (compare irion 7]2K> ? to pour out, or empty out 
His wrath : Ps. Ixxix. 6 ; Jer. x. 25), but has merely the 
meaning to add or associate, with the sole exception of Job xiv. 
19, where it is apparently used to answer to the Arabic ,-aJLj 5 

consequently here, where drink is spoken of, it means to mix 
wrath with the wine poured out. Through the suffix ^flion 
the woe is addressed directly to the Chaldsean himself, a 
change from the third person to the second, which would be 
opposed to the genius of our language. The thought is sharp 
ened by ->3^ PJN1, " and also (in addition) making drunk" 
(shakker, inf. abs.). To look upon their nakednesses : the 
plural DJ^WJ is used because ^njn has a collective meaning. 
The prostrate condition of the drunken man is a figurative 
representation of the overthrow of a conquered nation (Nah. 
iii. 11), and the uncovering of the shame a figure denoting the 


ignominy that has fallen upon it (Xah. iii. 5 ; Isa. xlvii. 3X 
This allegory, in which the conquest and subjugation of the 
nations are represented as making them drink of the cup of 
wrath, does not refer to the open violence with which the 
Chaldaean enslaves the nations, but points to the artifices with 
which he overpowers them, " the cunning with which he en 
tices them into his alliance, to put them to shame" (Delitzsch). 
But he has thereby simply prepared shame for himself, which 
will fall back upon him (ver. 16). The perfect W2& does 
not apply prophetically to the certain future ; but, as in the 
earlier strophes (vers. 8 and 10) which are formed in a similar 
manner, to what the Chaldaean has done, to bring upon himself 
the punishment mentioned in what follows. The shame with 
which he has satisfied himself is the shamefulness of his con 
duct ; and J??^, to satisfy himself, is equivalent to revelling in 
shame, "N22E, far away from honour, i.e. and not in honour. 
(O is the negative, as in Ps. Hi. 5, in the sense of N?1, with which 
it alternates in Hos. vi. 6. For this he is now also to drink 
the cup of wrath, so as to fall down intoxicated, and show him 
self as having a foreskin, i.e. as uncircumcised ( 1)5^ from 
n/>"}y). This goblet Jehovah will hand to him. Tissobh, he will 
turn, ty (upon thee, or to thee). This is said, because the cup 
which the Chaldsean had reached to other nations was also 
handed over to him by Jehovah. The nations have hitherto 
been obliged to drink it out of the hand of the Chaldaaan. 
Now it is his turn, and he must drink it out of the hand of 
Jehovah (see Jer. xxv. 26). P^i?!, and shameful vomiting, 
(sc. FPn*) will be over thine honour, i.e. will cover over thine 
honour or glory, i.e. will destroy thee. The air. Aey. jvij i? is 
formed from the pilpal h\h\> from Tvp, and softened down from 
pS^i?, and signifies extreme or the greatest contempt. This 
form of the word, however, is chosen for the sake of the play 
upon j^jj N" 1 ?, vomiting of shame, vomitus ignominies (Vulg. ; 
cf. i"iN fc^p in Isa. xxviii. 8), and in order that, when the word 
was heard, it should call up the subordinate meaning, which 
suggests itself the more naturally, because excessive drinking is 
followed by vomiting (cf. Jer. xxv. 26, 27). This threat is 
explained in ver. 17, in the statement that the wickedness 
practised by the Chaldsean on Lebanon and its beasts will cover 
or fall back upon itself. Lebanon with its beasts is taken by 

CHAP. II. 15-17. 89 

most commentators allegorically, as a figurative representation 
of the holy land and its inhabitants. But although it may 
be pleaded, in support of this view, that Lebanon, and indeed 
the summit of its cedar forest, is used in Jer. xxii. 6 as a symbol 
of the royal family of Judaea, and in Jer. xxii. 23 as a figure 
denoting Jerusalem, and that in Isa. xxxvii. 24, and probably 
also in Zech. xi. 1, the mountains of Lebanon, as the northern 
frontier of the Israelitish land, are mentioned synecdochically 
for the land itself, and the hewing of its cedars and cypresses 
may be a figurative representation of the devastation of the 
land and its inhabitants ; these passages do not, for all that, 
furnish any conclusive evidence of the correctness of this view, 
inasmuch as in Isa. x. 33, 34, Lebanon with its forest is also a 
figure employed to denote the grand Assyrian army and its 
leaders, and in Isa. Ix. 13 is a symbol of the great men of the 
earth generally ; whilst in the verse before us, the allusion to 
the Israelitish land and nation is neither indicated, nor even 
favoured, by the context of the words. Apart, for example, 
from the fact that such a thought as this, " the wickedness 
committed upon the holy land will cover thee, because of the 
wickedness committed upon the earth," not only appears lame, 
but would be very difficult to sustain on biblical grounds, inas 
much as the wickedness committed upon the earth and its 
inhabitants would be declared to be a greater crime than that 
committed upon the land and people of the Lord ; this view 
does not answer to the train of thought in the whole of the 
ode, since the previous strophes do not contain any special 
allusion to the devastation of the holy land, or the subjuga 
tion and ill-treatment of the holy people, but simply to the 
plundering of many nations, and the gain forced out of their 
sweat and blood, as being the great crime of the Chaldasan (cf. 
vers. 8, 10, 13), for which he would be visited with retribution 
and destruction. Consequently we must take the words literally, 
as referring to the wickedness practised by the Chaldsean upon 
nature and the animal world, as the glorious creation of God, 
represented by the cedars and cypresses of Lebanon, and the 
animals living in the forests upon those mountains. Not satis 
fied with robbing men and nations, and with oppressing and 
ill-treating them, the Chaldsean committed wickedness upon the 
cedars and cypresses also, and the wild animals of Lebanon, 


cutting down the wood either for military purposes or for stato 
buildings, so that the wild animals were unsparingly extermi 
nated. There is a parallel to this in Isa. xiv. 8, where the 
cypresses and cedars of Lebanon rejoice at the fall of the 
Chaldaean, because they will be no more hewn down. Shod 
b e hemoth, devastation upon (among) the animals (with the gen. 
obj., as in Isa. xxii. 4 and Ps. xii. 6). jivrp is a relative clause, 
and the subject, shod, the devastation which terrified the 
animals. The form |JW for fPilT, from nrv, hiphil of nnn, is 
anomalous, the syllable with dagesh being resolved into an 
extended one, like 1O s rin for l^nn in Isa. xxxiii. 1 ; and the 
tsere of the final syllable is exchanged for pathach because of 
the pause, as, for example, in D?ynn in Ps. Iv. 2 (see Olshausen, 
Gramm. p. 576). There is no necessity to alter it into IfVn* 
(Ewald and Olshausen after the LXX., Syr., and Vulg.), and 
it only weakens the idea of the talio. The second hemistich is 
repeated as a refrain from ver. Sb. 

Vers. 18-20. Fifth and last strophe. Ver. 18. " What 
profiteth the graven image, that the maker thereof hath carved it $ 
the molten image and the teacher of lies, that the maker of his 
image trusteth in him to make dumb idols ? Ver. 19. Woe to him 
that saith to the wood, Wake up; Awake, to the hard stone. 
Should it teach ? Behold, it is encased in gold and silver, and 
there is nothing of breath in its inside. Ver. 20. But Jehovah is 
in His holy temple : let all the world be silent before Him." 
This concluding strophe does not commence, like the preceding 
ones, with hoi, but with the thought which prepares the way 
for the woe, and is attached to what goes before to strengthen 
the threat, all hope of help being cut off from the Chaldsean. 
Like all the rest of the heathen, the Chaldean also trusted in the 
power of his gods. This confidence the prophet overthrows in 
ver. 18 : " What use is it?" equivalent to " The idol is of no 
use" (cf. Jer. ii. 11 ; Isa. xliv. 9, 10). The force of this question 
still continues in massekhdh : " Of what use is the molten 
image ?" Pesel is an image carved out of wood or stone ; mas 
sekhdh an image cast in metal. ^Jrtn is the perfect, expressing 
a truth founded upon experience, as a fact : What profit has it 
ever brought I Moreh sheqer (the teacher of lies) is not the 
priest or prophet of the idols, after the analogy of Mic. iii. 1.1 
and Isa. ix. 14 ; for that would not suit the following explana 

CHAP. II. 18-20. 91 

tory clause, in which Y9JJ (in him) points back to mOreh sheqer : 
" that the maker of idols trusteth in him (the teacher of lies)." 
Consequently the moreh sheqer must be the idol itself ; and it is 
so designated in contrast with the true God, the teacher in the 
highest sense (cf. Job xxxvi. 22). The idol is a teacher of 
lying, inasmuch as it sustains the delusion, partly by itself and 
partly through its priests, that it is God, and can do what men 
expect from God ; whereas it is nothing more than a dumb 
nonentity ( elll illem : compare et &wXa a^wva, 1 Cor. xii. 2). 
Therefore woe be to him who expects help from such lifeless 
wood or image of stone. YP. is the block of wood shaped into 
an idol. Hdqltsdli, awake ! sc. to my help, as men pray to the 
living God (Ps. xxxv. 23, xliv. 24, lix. 6 ; Isa. li. 9). rnv ran 
is a question of astonishment at such a delusion. This is re 
quired by the following sentence : it is even encased in gold. 
Tdplias : generally to grasp ; here to set in gold, to encase in 
gold plate (zdlidbli is an accusative). PN ->3: there is not at all. 
irn, breath, the spirit of life (cf. Jer. x. 14). Yers. 18 and 19 
contain a concise summary of the reproaches heaped upon 
idolatry in Isa. xliv. 9-20 ; but they are formed quite inde 
pendently, without any evident allusions to that passage. In 
ver. 20 the contrast is drawn between the dumb lifeless idols 
and the living God, who is enthroned in His holy temple, i.e. 
not the earthly temple at Jerusalem, but the heavenly temple, 
or the temple as the throne of the divine glory (Isa. Ixvi. 1 ), 
as in Mic. i. 2, whence God will appear to judge the world, and 
to manifest His holiness upon the earth, by the destruction of 
the earthly powers that rise up against Him. This thought is 
implied in the words, " He is in His holy temple," inasmuch as 
the holy temple is the palace in which He is enthroned as Lord 
and Ruler of the whole world, and from which He observes the 
conduct of men (Ps. xi. 4). Therefore the whole earth, i.e. all 
the population of the earth, is to be still before Him, i.e. to 
submit silently to Him, and wait for His judgment. Compare 
Zeph. i. 7 and Zech. ii. 17, where the same command is borrowed 
from this passage, and referred to the expectation of judgment. 
D[t is hardly an imper. apoc. of non, but an interjection, from 
which the verb hdsdh is formed. But if the whole earth must 
keep silence when He appears as Judge, it is all over with the 
ChaldaBan also, with all his glory and might. 



In this chapter, which is called a prayer in the heading, 
the prophet expresses the feelings which the divine revelation 
of judgment described in ch. i. and ii. had excited in his mind, 
and ought to excite in the congregation of believers, so that 
this supplicatory psalm may be called an echo of the two 
answers which the prophet had received from the Lord to his 
complaints in ch. i. 2-4 and 12-17 (vid. ch. i. 5-11 and ii. 
2-20). Deeply agitated as he was by the revelation he had 
received concerning the terrible judgment, which the Lord 
w r ould execute first of all upon Judah, through the wild 
and cruel Chaldsean nation, and then upon the Chaldasan 
himself, because he deified his own power, the prophet prays 
to the Lord that He will carry out this work of His " within 
years," and in the revelation of His wrath still show mercy 
(ver. 2). He then proceeds in vers. 3-15 to depict in a ma 
jestic theophany the coming of the Lord to judge the world, 
and bring salvation to His people and His anointed ; and 
secondly, in vers. 1619, to describe the fruit of faith which 
this divine manifestation produces, namely, first of all fear and 
trembling at the day of tribulation (vers. 16, 17), and after 
wards joy and rejoicing in the God of salvation (vers. 18 and 
19). Consequently we may regard ver. 2 as the theme of the 
psalm, which is distributed thus between the two parts. In the 
first part (vers. 3-15) we have the prayer for the accomplish 
ment of the work (ver. 2a) announced by God in ch. i. 5, 
expressed in the form of a prophetico-lyric description of the 
coming of the Lord to judgment; and in the second part (vers. 
16-19), the prayer in wrath to remember mercy (ver. 2b), 
expanded still more fully in the form of a description of the 
feelings and state of mind excited by that prayer in the hearts 
of the believing church. 

The song has a special heading, after the fashion of the 
psalms, in which the contents, the author, and the poetical 
character of the ode are indicated. The contents are called 
t e philldh, a prayer, like Ps. xvii., Ixxxvi., xc., cii., and cxlii., not 
merely with reference to the fact that it commences with a prayer 

CHAI . III. 2. 93 

to God, but because that prayer announces tlie contents of the 
ode after the manner of a theme, and the whole of the ode is 
simply the lyrical unfolding of that prayer. In order, however, 
to point at the same time to the prophetic character of the 
prayer, that it may not be regarded as a lyrical effusion of the 
subjective emotions, wishes, and hopes of a member of the 
congregation, but may be recognised as a production of the 
prophets, enlightened by the Spirit of Jehovah, the name of 
the author is given with the predicate "the prophet ;" and to 
this there is added rifaW /W, to indicate the poetico-subjective 
character, through which it is distinguished from prophecy in 
the narrower sense. The expression "upon Shigionoth" cannot 
refer to the contents or the object of the ode ; for although 
shiggayon, according to its etymon shdgdh = shdgag, to trans 
gress by mistake, to sin, might have the meaning transgression 
in a moral sense, and consequently might be referred to the 
sins of transgressors, either of the Judseans or the Chaldasans, 
such an assumption is opposed both to the use of shiggdyon in 
the heading to Ps. vii., and also to the analogy between r al 
shigyonoth, and such headings to the psalms as al haggittlth, 
*al n e glnoth) and other words introduced with *al. Whilst 
shiggdyon in Ps. vii. 1 indicates the style of poetry in which 
the psalm is composed, all the notices in the headings to the 
psalms that are introduced with r al refer either to the melody 
or style in which the psalms are to be sung, or to the musical 
accompaniment with which they are to be introduced into the 
worship of God. This musico-liturgical signification is to be 
retained here also, since it is evident from the subscription 
in ver. 19, and the repetition of Selah three times (vers. 3, 
9, 13), that our hymn was to be used with musical accom 
paniment. Now, as shdgdh, to err, then to reel to and fro, is 
applied to the giddiness both of intoxication and of love (Isa. 
xxviii. 7 ; Prov. xx. 1, v. 20), shiggdyon signifies reeling, and 
in the terminology of poetry a reeling song, i.e. a song deli 
vered in the greatest excitement, or with a rapid change 
of emotion, dithyrambus (see Clauss on Ps. vii. 1 ; Ewald, 
Delitzsch, and others) ; hence Hi^J^ 7JJ, after dithyrambs, or 
" after the manner of a stormy, martial, and triumphal ode" 

Ver. 2. " Jehovah, I have heard Thy tidings^ am alarmed. 


Jehovah, Thy work, in the midst of the years call it to life, in the 
midst of the years make it known ; in wratli remember mercy" 
!\yftW is the tidings (afcorj) of God ; what the prophet has heard 
of God, i.e. the tidings of the judgment which God is about 
to inflict upon Judah through the Chaldseans, and after that 
upon the Chaldaeans themselves. The prophet is alarmed at 
this. The word *0^! (I am alarmed) does not compel us to 
take what is heard as referring merely to the judgment to be 
inflicted upon Judah by the Chaldaeans. Even in the over 
throw of the mighty Chaldsean, or of the empire of the world, 
the omnipotence of Jehovah is displayed in so terrible a manner, 
that this judgment not only inspires with joy at the destruction 
of the foe, but fills with alarm at the omnipotence of the Judge 
of the world. The prayer which follows, " Call Thy work to 
life," also refers to this twofold judgment which God revealed 
to the prophet in ch. i. and ii. 1??^, placed absolutely at the 
head for the sake of emphasis, points back to the work (poal) 
which God was about to do (ch. i. 5) ; but this work of God 
is not limited to the raising up of the Chaldasan nation, bat 
includes the judgment which will fall upon the Chaldaean after 
he has offended (ch. i. 11). This assumption is not at variance 
even with ^n^n. For the opinion that njn never means to call 
a non-existent thing to life, but always signifies either to give 
life to an inorganic object (Job xxxiii. 4), or to keep a living 
thing alive, or (and this most frequently) to restore a dead 
thing to life, and that here the word must be taken in the 
sense of restoring to life, because in the description which follows 
Habakkuk looks back to Ps. Ixxvii. and the poal depicted there, 
viz. the deliverance out of Egyptian bondage, is not correct. 
n*n does not merely mean to restore to life and keep alive, but 
also to give life and call to life. In Job xxxiii. 4, where ^nfl is 
parallel to ^JTO, the reference is not to the impartation of life 
to an inorganic object, but to the giving of life in the sense of 
creating ; and so also in Gen. vii. 3 and xix. 32, JHT njn means to 
call seed to life, or raise it up, i.e. to call a non-existent thing to 
life. Moreover, the resemblances in the theophany depicted in 
what follows to Ps. Ixxvii. do not require the assumption that 
Habakkuk is praying for the renewal of the former acts of 
God for the redemption of His people, but may be fully 
explained on the ground that the saving acts of God on behalf 

CHAP. in. 2. 95 

of His people are essentially the same in all ages, and that the 
prophets generally were accustomed to describe the divine reve 
lations of the future under the form of imagery drawn from 
the acts of God in the past. There is special emphasis in the 
use of &W :np2 twice, and the fact that in both instances it 
stands at the head. It has been interpreted in very different 
ways ; but there is an evident allusion to the divine answer in 
ch. ii. 3, that the oracle is for an appointed time, etc. " In 
the midst of the years," or within years, cannot of course mean 
by itself "within a certain number, or a small number, of 
years," or " within a brief space of time " (Ges., Ros., and 
Maurer) ; nevertheless this explanation is founded upon a cor 
rect idea of the meaning. When the prophet directs his eye 
to the still remote object of the oracle (ch. ii.), the fulfilment 
of which was to be delayed, but yet assuredly to come at last 
(ch. ii. 3), the interval between the present time and the mo ed 
appointed by God (ch. ii. 3) appears to him as a long series of 
years, at the end only of which the judgment is to come upon 
the oppressors of His people, namely the Chaldseans. He there 
fore prays that the Lord will not delay too long the work which 
He designs to do, or cause it to come to life only at the end of 
the appointed interval, but will bring it to life within years, i.e. 
within the years, which would pass by if the fulfilment were 
delayed, before that mo ed arrived. Grammatically considered, 
qerebh slidnlm cannot be the centre of the years of the world, 
the boundary-line between the Old and New Testament aeons, 
as Bengel supposes, who takes it at the same time, according 
to this explanation, as the starting-point for a chronological 
calculation of the whole course of the world. Moreover, 
it may also be justly argued, in opposition to this view and 
application of the words, that it cannot be presupposed that 
the prophets had so clear a consciousness as this, embracing all 
history by its calculus ; and still less can we expect to find in a 
lyrical ode, which is the outpouring of the heart of the congre 
gation, a revelation of what God Himself had not revealed to 
him according to ch. ii. 3. Nevertheless the view which lies 
at the foundation of this application of our passage, viz. that 
the work of God, for the manifestation of which the prophet 
is praying, falls in the centre of the years of the world, has this 
deep truth, that it exhibits the overthrow not only of the im- 


perial power of Chaldsea, but that of the world-power generally, 
and the deliverance of the nation from its power, and forms 
the turning-point, with which the old aeon closes and the new 
epoch of the world commences, with the completion of which 
the whole of the earthly development of the universe will reach 
its close. The repetition of DW 2"}p3 is expressive of the earnest 
longing with which the congregation of the Lord looks for the 
tribulation to end. The object to J^W, which is to be taken 
in an optative sense, answering to the imperative in the parallel 
clause, may easily be supplied from the previous clause. To 
the prayer for the shortening of the period of suffering there 
is appended, without the copula Fav, the further prayer, in 
wrath to remember mercy. The wrath (rogezj like rdgaz in 
Isa. xxviii. 21 and Prov. xxix. 9) in which God is to remember 
mercy, namely for His people Israel, can only be wrath over 
Israel, not merely the wrath manifested in the chastisement of 
Judah through the Chaldaeans, but also the wrath displayed in 
the overthrow of the Chaldseans. In the former case God 
would show mercy by softening the cruelty of the Chaldseans ; 
in the latter, by accelerating their overthrow, and putting a 
speedy end to their tyranny. This prayer is followed in vers. 
3-15 by a description of the work of God which is to be called 
to life, in which the prophet expresses confidence that his 
petition will be granted. 

Vers. 3-15. Coming of the Lord to judge the nations and 
to redeem His people. The description of this theophany rests 
throughout upon earlier lyrical descriptions of the revelations 
of God in the earlier times of Israel. Even the introduction 
(ver. 3) has its roots in the song of Moses in Deut. xxxiii. 2 ; 
and in the further course of the ode we meet with various 
echoes of different psalms (compare ver. 6 with Ps. xviii. 8 ; 
ver. 8 with Ps. xviii. 10; ver. 19 with Ps. xviii. 33, 34; also 
ver. 5 with Ps. Ixviii. 25 ; ver. 8 with Ps. Ixviii. 5, 34). The 
points of contact in vers. 10-15 with Ps. Ixxvii. 17-21, are still 
more marked, and are of such a kind that Habakkuk evidently 
had the psalm in his mind, and not the writer of the psalm the 
hymn of the prophet, and that the prophet has reproduced in 
an original manner such features of the psalm as were adapted 
to his purpose. This is not only generally favoured by the 
fact that Habakkuk s prayer is composed throughout after the 

CHAP. III. 3-5. 97 

poetry of the Psalms, but still more decidedly by the circum 
stance that Habakkuk depicts a corning redemption under 
figures borrowed from that of the past, to which the singer of 
this psalm looks back from his own mournful times, comfort 
ing himself with the picture of the miraculous deliverance of 
his people out of Egypt (see Hengstenberg and Delitzsch on 
Ps. Ixxvii.). For it is very evident that Habakkuk does not 
describe the mighty acts of the Lord in the olden time, in order 
to assign a motive for his prayer for the deliverance of Israel 
out of the affliction of exile which awaits it in the future, as 
many of the earlier commentators supposed, but that he is pre 
dicting a future appearance of the Lord to judge the nations, 
from the simple fact that he places the future KtaJ (ver. 3) at 
the head of the whole description, so as to determine all that 
follows ; whilst it is placed beyond the reach of doubt by the 
impossibility of interpreting the theophany historically, i.e. as 
relating to an earlier manifestation of God. 

Ver. 3. " Eloah comes from Teman, and the Holy One from 
the mountains of Paran. Selah. His splendour covers the s&y, 
and the earth is full of His glory. Ver. 4. And brightness ap 
pears like sunlight^ rays are at His hand, and there His power is 
concealed. Ver. 5. Before Him goes the plague, and pestilence 
follows His feet." As the Lord God once came down to His 
people at Sinai, when they had been redeemed out of Egypt, 
to establish the covenant of His grace with them, and make 
them into a kingdom of God, so will He appear in the time to 
come in the terrible glory of His omnipotence, to liberate them 
from the bondage of the power of the world, and dash to pieces 
the wicked who seek to destroy the poor. The introduction to 
this description is closely connected with Deut. xxxiii. 2. As 
Moses depicts the appearance of the Lord at Sinai as a light 
shining from Seir and Paran, so does Habakkuk also make the 
Holy One appear thence in His glory ; but apart from other 
differences, he changes the preterite N2 (Jehovah came from 
Sinai) into the future fcto, He will come, or comes, to indicate 
at the very outset that he is about to describe not a past, but a 
future revelation of the glory of the Lord. This he sees in the 
form of a theophany, which is fulfilled before his mental eye ; 
hence XilJ does not describe what is future, as being absolutely 
so, but is something progressively unfolding itself from the 
VOL. ii. G 


present onwards, which we should express by the present tense. 
The coming one is called Eloah (not Jehovah, as in Deut. 
xxxiii. 2, and the imitation in Judg. v. 4), a form of the name 
JElohim which only occurs in poetry in the earlier Hebrew 
writings, which we find for the first time in Deut. xxxii. 15, 
where it is used of God as the Creator of Israel, and which is 
also used here to designate God as the Lord and Governor of 
the whole world. Eloah, however, comes as the Holy One 
(qddosh), who cannot tolerate sin (ch. i. 13), and who will 
judge the world and destroy the sinners (vers. 12-14). As 
Eloah and Qddosh are names of one God; so "from Teman" and 
" from the mountain of Paran" are expressions denoting, not 
two starting-points, but simply two localities of one single start 
ing-point for His appearance, like Seir and the mountains of 
Paran in Deut. xxxiii. 2. Instead of Seir, the poetical name 
of the mountainous country of the Edomites, Teman, the 
southern district of the Edomitish land, is used per synecdoclien 
for Idumsea generally, as in Ob. 9 and Amos i. 12 (see vol. 
i. p. 248). The mountains of Paran are not the Et-Tih moun 
tains, which bounded the desert of Paran towards the south, 
but the high mountain-land which formed the eastern half of 
that desert, and the northern portion of which is now called, 
after its present inhabitants, the mountains of the Azazimeh 
(see comm. on Num. x. 12). The two localities lie opposite to 
one another, and are only separated by the Arabah (or deep 
valley of the Ghor). We are not to understand the naming 
of these two, however, as suggesting the idea that God was 
coming from the Arabah, but, according to the original pas 
sage in Deut. xxxiii. 2, as indicating that the splendour of the 
divine appearance spread over Teman and the mountains of 
Paran, so that the rays were reflected from the two mountainous 
regions. The word Seldh does not form part of the subject- 
matter of the text, but shows that the music strikes in here 
when the song is used in the temple, taking up the lofty 
thought that God is coming, and carrying it out in a manner 
befitting the majestic appearance, in the prospect of the speedy 
help of the Lord. The word probably signified elevatio, from 
sdldh = sdlal, and was intended to indicate the strengthening 
of the musical accompaniment, by the introduction, as is sup 
posed, of a blast from the trumpets blown by the priests, 

CHAP. III. 3-5. 99 

corresponding therefore to the musical forte. (For further 
remarks, see Havernick s Introduction to the Old Te&tament, iii. 
p. 120 sqq., and Delitzsch on Ps. iii.) In ver. 36 the glory 
of the coming of God is depicted with reference to its extent, 
and in ver. 4 with reference to its intensive power. The. 
whole creation is covered with its splendour. Heaven and 
earth reflect the glory of the coming one. nin, His splendour 
or majesty, spreads over the whole heaven, and His glory over 
the earth. T e 1dlldh does not mean the praise of the earth, i.e. 
of its inhabitants, here (Chald., Ab. Ezr., Ros., and others) ; 
for there is no allusion to the manner in which the coming of 
God is received, and according to ver. 6 it fills the earth with 
trembling ; but it denotes the object of the praise or fame, 
the glory, 97 Sofa, like hdddr in Job xl. 10, or Mbhod in Isa, 
vi. 3, xlii. 8, and Num. xiv. 21. Grammatically considered, 
in?n)ji is the accusative governed by "JKpD, and T^.^ is the 
subject. Ver. 4. A splendour shines or arises like the light, 
n^nri.does not point back to fa^nfl, "splendour like the sun 
will His glory be" (Hitzig) ; but it is the predicate to nogah 
in the sense of to become, or to arise. "^NH is the light of the 
sun. Like this light, or like the rising sun, when the Lord 
comes, there arises (spreads) a brilliant light, from which the 
rays emanate on its two sides. B^"?P, according to pjj in Ex. 
xxxiv. 29, 30, is to be taken in the sense of rays ; and this 
meaning has developed itself from a comparison of the first 
rays of the rising sun, which shoot out above the horizon, to 
the horns or antlers of the gazelle, which is met with in the 
Arabian poets. HJp, from His hand, i.e. since the hand is 
by the side, " at His side" (after the analogy of fa^E) and 
ftN$p), and indeed " His hand" in a general sense, as signi 
fying the hand generally, and not one single hand, equivalent 
therefore to "on both sides" (Delitzsch). As the disc of the 
sun is surrounded by a splendid radiance, so the coming of 
God is enclosed by rays on both sides. i^ refers to God. 
" Such a radiant splendour (D^np) surrounding God is pre 
supposed when it is affirmed of Moses, that on coming from 
the presence of Jehovah his face was radiant, or emitted rays" 
(DiJ, Ex. xxxiv. 29, 30). This interpretation of the words is 
established beyond all doubt, not only by the fown of the 
original passage in Deut. xxxiii. 2, but also by the expressions 


which follow in ver. 5, viz. V33? (before him) and TO^f (Behind 
him); and consequently the interpretation "rays (emanating) 
from His hand are to Him," with the idea that we are to 
think of flashes of lightning darting out of God s hand 
(Schnur., Ros., Hitzig, Maurer, etc.), is proved to be unten 
able. According to Hebrew notions, flashes of lightning do 
not proceed from the hand of God (in Ps. xviii. 9, which has 
been appealed to in support of this explanation, we have *3!3O); 
and 0. <I J"]P does not occur either in Arabic or the later Hebrew 
in the sense of flashes of lightning, but only in the sense of 
the sun s rays. TO pun Dtp ? and there namely, in the sun- 
like splendour, with the rays emanating from it is the hiding 
of His omnipotence, i.e. the place where His omnipotence 
hides itself ; in actual fact, the splendour forms the covering 
of the Almighty God at His coming, the manifestation of the 
essentially invisible God, The cloudy darkness is generally 
represented as the covering of the glory of God (Ex. xx. 21 ; 
1 Kings viii. 12), not merely when His coming is depicted 
under the earthly substratum of a storm (Ps. xviii. 12, 13), 
but also when God was manifested in the pillar of cloud and 
fire (Ex. xiii. 21) on the journey of the Israelites through the 
desert, where it was only by night that the cloud had the 
appearance of fire (Num. ix. 15, 16). Here, on the contrary, 
the idea of the splendour of the rising sun predominates, ac 
cording to which light is the garment in which God clothes 
Himself (Ps. civ. 2, cf. 1 Tim. vi. 16), answering to His 
coming as the Holy One (ver. 3). For the sun-light, in its 
self-illumining splendour, is the most suitable earthly element 
to serve as a symbol of the spotless purity of the Holy One, in 
whom there is no variation of light and darkness (Jas. i. 17 ; 
see at Ex. xix. 6). The alteration of DKn into D^i (he pro 
vides or contrives the concealment of His power), which Hitzig 
proposes after the LXX. (Aq., Symm., and Syr.), must be 
rejected, inasmuch as in that case the object, which he makes 
into the covering (cf. Ps. xviii. 12), could not be omitted ; and 
this thought is by no means suitable here, and has merely been 
brought into the text on the assumption that God appears in 
a storm. As the Holy One, God comes to judgment upon the 
unholy world (ver. 5). Before Him goes deblier^ plague, and 
after His feet, i.e. behind Him, resheph, lit. burning heat, or a 

CHAP. III. 6, 7. 101 

blaze (Song of Sol. viii. 6), here the burning heat of the pesti 
lence, fever-heat, as in Deut. xxxii. 24. Plague and pestilence, 
as proceeding from God, are personified and represented as 
satellites ; the former going before Him, as it were, as a shield- 
bearer (1 Sam. xvii. 7), or courier (2 Sam. xv. 1) ; the latter 
coming after Him as a servant (1 Sam. xxv. 42). This verse 
prepares the way for the description, which commences with 
ver. 6, of the impression produced by the coming of God upon 
the world and its inhabitants. 

Ver. 6. " He stands, and sets the earth reeling : He looks, 
and makes nations tremble ; primeval mountains burst in pieces, 
the early hills sink down : His are ways of the olden time. 
Ver. 7. / saw the tents of Cushan under affliction : the cur 
tains of the land of Midian tremble" God coming from 
afar has now drawn near and taken His stand, to smite the 
nations as a warlike hero (cf. vers. 8, 9, arid 11, 12). This is 
affirmed in "JEV, He has stationed Himself, not " He steps forth 
or appears." This standing of Jehovah throws the earth and 
the nations into trembling. "HP! cannot mean to measure 
here, for there is no thought of any measuring of the earth, 
and it cannot be shown that mddad is used in the sense of 
measuring with the eye (Ros. and Hitzig). Moreover, the 
choice of the poel, instead of the piel, would still remain un 
explained, and the parallelism of the clauses would be dis 
regarded. We must therefore follow the Chaldee, Ges., De- 
litzsch, and others, who take *nb as the poel of IID = DIE, to 
set in a reeling motion. It is only with this interpretation 
that the two parallel clauses correspond, in which "W, the 
hiphil of iru, to cause to shake or tremble, answers to *nb\ 
This explanation is also required by what follows. For just 
as ver. 7 unquestionably gives a further expansion of D^3 "in*, 
so does Dj>ty . . . TOTSJV contain the explanation of p.S *nb\ 
The everlasting hills crumble (^^ from pa), i.e. burst and 
resolve themselves into dust, and the hills sink down, pass 
away, and vanish (compare the similar description in Nahum 
i. 5 and Mic. i. 4). ^"7]? (= D ?i? T?? Deut. xxxiii. 15) 
in parallelism with DjiJJ flljOji are the primeval mountains, as 
being the oldest and firmest constituents of the globe, which 
have existed from the beginning py *3, Job xx. 4), and were 
formed at the creation of the earth (Ps. xc. 2 ; Job xv. 7 ; 


Prov. viii. 25). v a?ty flteyn is not to be taken relatively, and 
connected with what precedes, " which are the old paths," 
according to which the hills of God are called everlasting 
ways (Hitzig) ; because this does not yield a sense in harmony 
with the context. It is a substantive clause, and to be taken by 
itself : everlasting courses or goings are to Him, i.e. He now 
goes along, as He went along in the olden time. ^5 rO> the 
going, advancing, or ways of God, analogous to the D/>iy 7]"n, 
the course of the primitive world (Job xxii. 15). The pro 
phet had Ps. Ixviii. 25 floating before his mind, in which 
hallkhoth eluhlm denote the goings of God with His people, 
or the ways which God had taken from time immemorial in 
His guidance of them. As He once came down upon Sinai in 
the cloudy darkness, the thunder, lightning, and fire, to raise 
Israel up to be His covenant nation, so that the mountains 
shook (cf. Judg. v. 5) ; so do the mountains and hills tremble 
and melt away at His coming now. And as He once went 
before His people, and the tidings of His wondrous acts at the 
Red Sea threw the neighbouring nations into fear arid despair 
(Ex. xv. 14-16) ; so now, when the course of God moves from 
Teman to the Red Sea, the nations on both sides of it are 
filled with terror. Of these, two are individualized in ver. 7, 
viz. Cushan and Midi an. By Cushan we are not to under 
stand the Mesopotamian king named Cushan Rishathaim, who 
subjugated Israel for eight years after the death of Joshua 
(Judg. iii. 8 sqq.) ; for this neither agrees with W8, nor with 
the introduction of Midian in the parallel clause. The word is 
a lengthened form for Gusli, and the name of the African 
Ethiopians. The Midianites are mentioned along with them, as 
being inhabitants of the Arabian coast of the Red Sea, which 
was opposite to them (see at Ex. ii. 15). 3 "!?!, the tents with 
their inhabitants, the latter being principally intended. The 
same remark applies to fliyn 1 ;, lit. the tent-curtains of the land 
of Midian, i.e. of the tents pitched in the land of Midian. 

To the impression produced upon the nations by the 
coming of the Lord to judge the world, there is now appended 
in vers. 8 sqq. a description of the execution of the judgment. 
Ver. 8. " Was it against rivers, Jehovah, against the rivers 
that Thy wrath ivas kindled ? that Thou ridest hither upon Thy 
horses, Thy chariots of salvation. Ver. 9. Thy bow lays itself 

CHAP. III. 8, 9. 103 

bare ; rods are sworn by word. Selah. Thou splittest the earth 
into rivers" The ode, taking a new turn, now passes from the 
description of the coming of God, to an address to God Him 
self. To the mental eye of the prophet, God presents Himself 
as Judge of the world, in the threatening attitude of a warlike 
hero equipped for conflict, so that he asks Him what is the 
object of His wrath. The question is merely a poetical turn 
given to a lively composition, which expects no answer, and is 
simply introduced to set forth the greatness of the wrath of 
God, so that in substance it is an affirmation. The wrath of 
God is kindled over the rivers, His fury over the sea. The 
first clause of the question is imperfect ; Jehovah is not the 
subject, but a vocative, or an appeal, since chdrdh^ when pre 
dicated of God, is construed with *?. The subject follows in 
the double clause, into which the question divides itself, in 
and ^jrray. Here the indefinite Dnrua i s defined by 
Hann hdrfm, the rivers, are not any particular rivers, such as 
the arms of the Nile in Lower Egypt, or the rivers of Ethiopia, 
the Nile and Astaboras, the nahare Khush (Isa. xviii. 1 ; Zeph. 
iii. 10 : see Delitzsch), but the rivers of the earth generally ; 
and "the sea" (Jiayydm) is not the Eed Sea, but the world-sea, 
as in Nahum i. 4 (cf. Ps. Ixxxix. 10, Job xxxviii. 8). It is 
true that this description rests upon the two facts of the mira 
culous dividing of the Red Sea and of the Jordan (Ex. xv. 18 ; 
Ps. cxiv. 3, 5) ; but it rises far above these to a description of 
God as the Judge of the world, who can smite in His wrath not 
only the sea of the world, but all the rivers of the earth, rmy 
is stronger than *!, the wrath which passes over, or breaks 
through every barrier. Kl, quod, explaining and assigning 
the reason for the previous question. The riding upon horses 
is not actual riding, but driving in chariots with horses har 
nessed to them, as the explanatory words "thy chariots" 
ppflhsriD) clearly shows, and as rdkhabli (to ride) always 
signifies when predicated of God (cf. Deut. xxxiii. 26, Ps. 
Ixviii. 34, civ. 3). Y e shudh is governed by mark e bhothekhd, 
with the freedom of construction allowed in poetry, as in 
2 Sam. xxii. 33, Ps. Ixxi. 7, whereas in prose the noun is 
generally repeated in the construct state (yid. Gen. xxxvii. 23, 
and Ewald, 291, b). Y e shudh signifies salvation, even in this 
case, and not victory, a meaning which it never has, and which 


is all the more inapplicable here, because y e sliudh is inter 
preted in ver. 13 by JflPv. By describing the chariots of God 
as chariots of salvation, the prophet points at the outset to the 
fact, that the riding of God has for its object the salvation or 
deliverance of His people. Ver. 9. God has already made 
bare the bow, to shoot His arrows at the foe. "rtjtfn, third pers. 
imperf. niph. of "Viy, equivalent to "HJJ (Isa. xxxii. 11), and the 
more usual rny, to be naked. To strengthen the thought, the 
noun iTny is written before the verb instead of the inf. abs. 
(cf. Mic. i. 11). The bow is made bare, not by the shooting 
of the arrows, but by its covering (ycopvro^ corytus) being 
removed, in order to use it as a weapon. The reference is to 
the bow used in war, which God carries as a warrior; so that 
we are not to think of the rainbow, even if the chariots might 
be understood as signifying the clouds, as in Isa. xix. 1 and 
Ps. civ. 3, since the rainbow is a sign of peace and of the 
covenant, whereas God is represented as attacking His enemies. 
The next clause, "itpfc riitSD Dijp^, is very obscure, and has not 
yet been satisfactorily explained. Of the two meanings which 
may be given to mattoth, viz. branches, rods, or staffs, and 
tribes of the people of Israel, the latter can hardly be thought 
of here, since mattoth would certainly have been defined by 
either a suffix or some determining clause, if the tribes of 
Israel were intended. On the other hand, the meaning staffs 
or sticks is very naturally suggested both by the context viz. 
the allusion to the war-bow and also by ver. 14, where mattlin 
unquestionably signifies staves or lances. At the same time, 
the meaning spears or darts cannot be deduced from either 
ver. 14 or 2 Sam. xviii. 14. In both passages the meaning 
staves, used as lances or weapons, is quite sufficient. Matteh, a 
stick or staff with which blows were struck, might stand, as an 
instrument of chastisement, for the punishment or chastisement 
itself (cf. Isa. ix. 3, x. 5), and in Mic. vi. 9 it denotes the rod. 
riijnp may be either the plural construct of TOB^ the seventh, 
the heptad, or the plural of njfl3$, an oath, or the passive par 
ticiple of jn to be sworn, like nfcotf \V?f in Ezek. xxi. 28. 
There is no material difference in the meaning obtained from 
the last two ; and the view we take of the word "ipfc must 
decide between them and the first explanation. This word, 
which is peculiar to poetry, denotes a discourse or a word, and 

CHAP. III. 8, 9. 105 

in Job xxii. 28 the affair, or the occasion, like "O^. Here, at 
any rate, it signifies the address or word of God, as in Ps. 
Ixviii. 12, Ixxvii. 9, and is either a genitive dependent upon 
mattoth or an adverbial accusative. The Masoretic pointing, 
according to which mattoth is separated from Corner by tiphcJiah, 
and the latter joined to seldh by munach, is connected with the 
evidently false rabbinical rendering of selaJi as eternity (in 
sempiternum), and being decidedly erroneous, cannot be taken 
into consideration at all. But the interpretation of niyi^ as 
the seventh, does not suit either of these two possible views of 
timer. We therefore prefer the second meaning, chastising 
rods or chastisements, "lEK, however, cannot be a genitive 
dependent upon mattoth ; since chastisements of speech would 
hardly stand for chastisements which God had spoken, but, 
according to the analogy of VS Blip in Isa. xi. 4, would point to 
chastisements consisting in words, and this does not agree with 
the present train of thought. Omer is rather an adverbial 
accusative, and belongs to rri5nK>, indicating the instrument or 
media employed in the swearing : sworn with the word or 
through the word, like *J2nn in Ps. xvii. 13 (for the use of 
the accusative to describe the substance or the instrumental 
medium of an action, see Ewald, 282, c). Hence rrijDB> cannot 
be a noun, but must be a passive participle, sworn. The ex 
pression, " chastising rods (chastisements) are sworn through 
the word," points to the solemn oath with which God promised 
in Deut. xxxii. 40-42 to take vengeance upon His enemies, 
and avenge the blood of His servants : " For I lift up my hand 
to heaven, and say, As I live for ever, when I have sharpened 
my glittering sword, and my hand grasps for judgment, I will 
render vengeance to mine adversaries, and repay them that 
hate me. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my 
sword will eat flesh ; from the blood of the slain and the cap 
tives, from the hairy head of the enemy." That Habakkuk 
had in his mind this promise of the vengeance of God upon His 
enemies, which is strengthened by a solemn oath, is unmistake- 
ably evident, if we compare in^n pna in ver. 11 with ^snn pnn 
in Deut. xxxii. 41, and observe the allusion in JJgn rP3 \Ni 
and ina Vtir\ in vers. 13 and 14 to :rt nijna p &ri in Deut. 
xxxii. 42. From this promise the words of the prophet, which 
are so enigmatical in themselves, obtain the requisite light to 


render them intelligible. Gesenius (T/ies. p. 877) has explained 
the prophet s words in a similar manner, jurejurando firmata 
sunt castigationes promissce (the threatened rods, i.e. chastise 
ments, are sworn), even without noticing the allusion to Deut. 
xxxii. 40 sqq. upon which these w r ords are founded. Delitzsch 
was the first to call attention to the allusion to Deut. xxxii. 40 
sqq. ; but in his explanation, " the darts are sworn through his 
word of power (jurejurando adstricta sunt tela verbo tuo)," the 
swearing is taken in a sense which is foreign to Deuteronomy, 
and therefore conceals the connection with the original passage. 
Of the other explanations not one can be vindicated. The 
rabbinical view which we find in the Vulgate, juramenta tribu- 
bus quce locutus es, is overthrown by the fact that rrtyznp without 
a preposition cannot mean per, or ob, or juxta juramenta, as we 
should have to render it, and as Luther actually has rendered 
it in his version (" as Thou hadst sworn to the tribes"). Ewald s 
rendering, " sevenfold darts of the word," is precluded by 
the combination of ideas, " darts of the word," which is quite 
foreign to the context. According to our explanation, the 
passage does indeed form simply a parenthesis in the descrip 
tion of the judicial interposition of God, but it contains a 
very fitting thought, through which the description gains in 
emphasis. In the last clause of the verse the description is 
continued in the manner already begun, and the effect indi 
cated, which is produced upon the world of nature by the 
judicial interposition of God : " Thou splittest the earth into 
rivers." JJip.3 is construed with a double accusative, as in Zech. 
xiv. 4. This may be understood either as signifying that the 
earth trembles at the wrath of the Judge, and rents arise in 
consequence, through which rivers of water burst forth from 
the deep, or so that at the quaking of the earth the sea pours 
its waves over the land and splits it into rivers. The following 
verses point to an earthquake through which the form of the 
earth s surface is changed. 

Ver. 10. " The mountains see Thee, they writhe : a shower 
of waters passes along : the abyss lifts up its voice, it lifts up its 
hands on high. Yer. 11. Sun, moon, enter into their habitation 
at the light of Thine arrows which shoot by, at the shining of the 
lightning of Thy spear. The effect of the coming of God 
upon the mountains was already referred to in ver. 6. There 

CHAP. III. 10, 11. 107 

they crumbled into ruins, here they writhe with terror. This 
difference is to be explained from the fact that there (ver. 6) 
the general effect of the omnipotence of God upon nature was 
intended, whereas here (vers. 10, 11) the special effect is de 
scribed, which is produced upon nature by the judgment about 
to be executed by God upon the nations. The perfects in the 
description represent this effect as following immediately upon 
the coming of God. But in the first clause of ver. 10 the per 
fect *rl&O is followed by the imperfect OW, because the writhing 
is a lasting condition. The force of the description is heightened 
by the omission of the copula before the clauses and the parti 
cular objects. The two verbs of the first clause stand in the 
relation of cause and effect to one another : when the moun 
tains have seen Thee, they writhe with terror. The further 
description is not founded upon the idea of a terrible storm ; 
for there is no reference to thunder, nor even to lightnings, 
but only to the arrows (ver. 11), which may be explained 
from the idea of God, as a warlike hero, making bare His 
bow. The colours and different features of the description 
are borrowed from the judgment of the flood. Ver. 10 (a 
and b) points to this divine judgment of the olden time, 
both the coming of the showers of water (geshem as in Gen. 
vii. 12 and viii. 2, and strengthened by mayim, analogous to 
hammabbul Jidydh mayim in Gen. vii. 6 ; abhor as in Nah. 
iii. 19, Ps. xlviii. 5), and also the ndtlian t e hom gold, the raging 
outburst of the abyss. T e hom is the mass of water in the 
abyss, not merely that of the ocean, but that of the subter 
ranean waters also (Gen. xlix. 25 ; Deut. xxxiii. 13), the 
" great deep " (t hom rabbdh), whose fountains were broken up 
at the flood (Gen. vii. 11) ; and not the ocean of heaven, as 
Hitzig erroneously infers from Gen. vii. 11, viii. 2, and Prov. 
viii. 27. To this mass of w r ater, which is called t e hom from its 
roaring depth, the prophet attributes a voice, which it utters, 
to express the loud, mighty roaring of the waters as they rush 
forth from the bursting earth. As at the time of the flood, 
which was a type of the last judgment (Isa. xxiv. 18), the 
windows of heaven and the fountains of the deep were opened, 
so that the upper and lower waters, which are divided by the 
firmament, rushed together again, and the earth returned, as 
it were, to its condition before the second day of creation ; so 


here also the rivers of earth and rain-showers of heaven come 
together, so that the abyss roars up with a loud noise (Delitzsch). 
This roaring outburst of the mass of waters from the heart of 
the earth is then represented as a lifting up of the hands to 
heaven, with reference to the fact that the waves are thrown 
up. Rom = rum (Prov. xxv. 3, xxi. 4) is an accusative of 
direction, like mdrom in 2 Kings xix. 22. ^TT, for VT ? a 
full-sounding and more extended form, possibly to express by 
the rhythm the greatness of the prodigy, how magna vi brachii 
tollunt (Delitzsch). The lifting up of the hands is not a ges 
ture denoting either an oath or rebellion ; but it is an involun 
tary utterance of terror, of restlessness, of anguish, as it were, 
with a prayer for help (Delitzsch). Ver. 11. The chaotic 
condition into which the earth has been brought is heightened 
by the darkness in which the heaven clothes itself. Sun and 
moon, which give light to day and night, have put themselves, 
or entered, into their habitation. fc3J with n local, a dwelling- 
place, is, according to oriental view, the place from which the 
stars come out when they rise, and to which they return when 
they set. Nevertheless it is not actual setting that is spoken 
of here, but simply their obscuration, which is not the effect of 
heavy clouds that pour out their water in showers of rain, but 
is caused by the shining of the arrows of God (? in "i^ and 
HJJp denoting the outward cause or occasion). It is not, how 
ever, that they " turn pale in consequence of the surpassing 
brilliancy of the lightnings" (Ewald), but that they " withdraw- 
altogether, from the fear and horror which pervade all nature, 
and which are expressed in the mountains by trembling, in the 
waters by roaring, and in the sun and moon by obscuration " 
(Delitzsch). The idea that this verse refers to the standing 
still of the sun and moon at the believing word of Joshua (Josh. 
x. 12 sqq.), in which nearly all the earlier commentators agreed, 
is quite untenable, inasmuch as nhat 1DJJ cannot mean to stand 
still in the sky. The arrows and spear (chanlth) of God are 
not lightnings, as in Ps. Ixxvii. 18, 19, xviii. 15, etc., because 
this theophany is not founded upon the idea of a storm, but 
the darts with which God as a warrior smites down His foes, 
as the instruments and effects of the wrath of God. A bril 
liant splendour is attributed to them, because they emanate 
from Him whose coming, like the sunlight, pours out its rays 

CHAP. III. 12-15. 109 

on both sides (ver. 4). JVJH p"va has the same meaning here 
as in Nah. iii. 3 : the flashing, because naked and sharpened, 
spear. And just as we cannot understand the " bright sword " 
of Nah. iii. 3 as signifying flashes of lightning, so here we can 
not take the arrows as lightnings. tojpnj is to be taken relatively, 
u which pass along, or shoot by." 

In ver. 12 there follows a description of the judgment upon 
the nations for the rescue of the people of God. Ver. 12. " In 
fury Thou walkest through the earthy in wrath Thou stampest 
down nations. Yer. 13. Thou goest out to the rescue of Thy 
people, to the rescue of Thine anointed one ; Thou dashest in 
pieces the head from the house of the wicked one, laying bare the 
foundation even to the neck. Selah. Ver. 14. Thou piercest 
with his spears the head of his hordes, which storm hither to 
beat me to powder, whose rejoicing is, as it were, to swallow the 
poor in secret. Ver. 15. Thou treadest upon the sea : Thy horses, 
upon the heap of great waters." The Lord, at whose coming in 
the terrible glory of the majesty of the Judge of the world all 
nature trembles and appears to fall into its primary chaotic 
state, marches over the earth, and stamps or tramples down the 
nations with His feet (compare the kindred figure of the treader 
of the winepress in Isa. Lxiii. 1-6). Not all nations, however, 
but only those that are hostile to Him ; for He has come forth 
to save His people arid His anointed one. The perfects in 
vers. 13-15 are prophetic, describing the future in spirit as 
having already occurred. NJ, referring to the going out of 
God to fight for His people, as in Judg. v. 4, 2 Sam. v. 24, 
Isa. xlii. 13, etc. V^, rescue, salvation, is construed the second 
time with an accusative like an inf. constr. (see Ewald, 239, a). 
The anointed of God is not the chosen, consecrated nation 
(Schnur., Eos., Hitzig, Ewald, etc.) ; for the nation of Israel 
is never called the anointed one (liammdshiacli) by virtue of 
its calling to be " a kingdom of priests" (mamlekheth kohanlm, 
Ex. xix. 6), neither in Ps. xxviii. 8 nor in Ps. Ixxxiv. 10, 
Ixxxix. 39. Even in Ps. cv. 15 it is not the Israelites who are 
called by God " my anointed" (meshwhai), but the patriarchs, 
as princes consecrated by God (Gen. xxiii. 6). And so here 
also IH^O is the divinely-anointed king of Israel ; not, how 
ever, this or that historical king say Josiah, Jehoiakim, or 
even Jehoiaehin but the Davidic king absolutely, including 


the Messiah, in whom the sovereignty of David is raised to an 
eternal duration, " just as by the Chaldaean king here and in 
ch. ii. we must understand the Chaldaean kings generally " 
(Delitzsch), since the prophecy spreads from the judgment 
upon the Chaldseans to the universal judgment upon the 
nations, and the Chaldsean is merely introduced as the possessor 
of the imperial power. The Messiah as the Son of David is 
distinguished from Jehovah, and as such is the object of divine 
help, just as in Zech. ix. 9, where He is called JJPfo in this 
respect, and in the royal Messianic psalms. This help God 
bestows upon His people and His anointed, by dashing in 
pieces the head from the house of the wicked one. The rdslia 
(wicked one) is the Chaldsean, not the nation, however, which 
is spoken of for the first time in ver. 14, but the Chaldsean 
king, as chief of the imperial power which is hostile to the 
kingdom of God. But, as the following clause clearly shows, 
the house is the house in the literal sense, so that the " head," 
as part of the house, is the gable. A distinction is drawn 
between this and y e sod, the foundation, and "IX}, the neck, i.e. 
the central part looking from the gable downwards. The 
destruction takes place both from above and below at once, so 
that the gable and the foundation are dashed in pieces with one 
blow, and that even to the neck, i.e. up to the point at which 
the roof or gable rests upon the walls. IV, inclusive, embracing 
the part mentioned as the boundary ; not exclusive, so as to leave 
the walls still rising up as ruins. The description is allegorical, 
the house representing the Chaldsean dynasty, the royal family 
including the king, but not " including the exalted Chaldaean 
kingdom in all its prosperity " (Hitzig). Tiny, a rare form of 
the inf. abs., like nin^ in Isa. xxii. 13 (cf. Ewald, 240, 6), 
from rny, to make bare, to destroy from the very foundation, 
the infinitive in the sense of the gerund describing the mode 
of the action. The warlike nation meets with the same fate 
as the royal house (ver. 14). The meaning of the first clause 
of the verse depends upon the explanation to be given to the 
word p e rdzdv. There is no foundation for the meaning leaders 
or judges, w r hich has been claimed for the word p e rdzlm ever 
since the time of Schroeder and Schnur. In Hebrew usage 
p e rdzl signifies the inhabitant of the plain (Deut. iii. 5 ; 1 Sam. 
vi. 18), and p e rdzoth the plains, the open flat land, as distin- 

CHAP. III. 12-15. Ill 

guislied from walled cities (Ezek. xxxviii. 11). P rdzon has the 
same meaning in Judg. v. 7 and 11. Consequently Delitzsch 
derives p e rdzdv from a segholate noun perez or perez, in the 
sense of the population settled upon the open country, the 
villagers and peasantry, whence the more general signification 
of a crowd or multitude of people, and here, since the context 
points to warriors, the meaning hordes, or hostile companies, 
which agrees with the Targum, Rashi, and Kimchi, who ex 
plain the word as signifying warriors or warlike troops. t? ah, 
the head of his hordes, cannot be the leader, partly because 
of what follows, " who come storming on," which presupposes 
that not the leader only, but the hordes or warriors, will be 
destroyed, and partly also because of the preceding verse, in 
which the destruction of the king is pronounced, and also 
because the distinction between the king and the leader of the 
army is at variance with the complex character of the pro 
phetic description. We must take $ao in the literal sense, but 
collectively, "heads." The prophet was led to the unusual figure 
of the piercing of the head by the reminiscence of the piercing of 
Sisera s head by Jael (Judg. v. 26). The suffixes in VBB2L and 
1H3 refer back to J?Bn. VB ? sticks, for lances or spears, after 
2 Sam. xviii. 14. The meaning of the words is this : with the 
spear of the king God pierces the heads of his warlike troops ; 
and the thought expressed is, that the hostile troops will slay 
one another in consequence of the confusion, as was the case 
in the wars described in 1 Sam. xiv. 20 and 2 Chron. xx. 
23, 24, and as, according to prophecy, the last hostile power 
of the world is to meet with its ruin when it shall attack the 
kingdom of God (Ezek. xxxviii. 21 ; Zech. xiv. 13). ar6 vw 
is to be taken relatively : tc which storm hither (saar, approach 
with the swiftness and violence of a storm) to destroy me." 
The prophet includes himself along with the nation, and uses 
hephlts with reference to the figure of the dispersion or powder 
ing of the chaff by a stormy wind (Isa. xli. 16 ; Jer. xiii. 24, 
xviii. 17). B^fyi? forms a substantive clause by itself : " their 
rejoicing is," for they who rejoice, as if to swallow, i.e. whose 
rejoicing is directed to this, to swallow the poor in secret. The 
enemies are compared to highway murderers, who lurk in dark 
corners for the defenceless traveller, and look forward with re 
joicing for the moment when they may be able to murder him. 


s jy forms the antithesis to VKh. Inasmuch as "the wicked" 
denotes the Chaldsean ; "the poor" is the nation of Israel, i.e. 
the congregation of the righteous, who are really the people of 
God. To devour the poor, i.e. to take violent possession of 
his life and all that he has (cf. Prov. xxx. 14, and for the fact 
itself, Ps. x. 8-10), is, when applied to a nation, to destroy it 
(vid. Deut. vii. 16 and Jer. x. 25). 

In order that these enemies may be utterly destroyed, God 
passes through the sea. This thought in ver. 15 connects the 
conclusion of the description of the judicial coming of God 
with what precedes. The drapery of the thought rests upon 
the fact of the destruction of Pharaoh and his horsemen in the 
Red Sea (Ex. xiv.). The sea, the heap of many waters, is not 
a figurative expression for the army of the enemy, but is to 
be taken literally. This is required by OJ3 ^rPTJ, since ^TJ 
with 3, to tread upon a place, or enter into it (cf. Mic. v. 4, 
Isa. lix. 8, Deut. xi. 24, 25), does not suit the figurative inter 
pretation ; and it is required still more by the parallel passages, 
viz. Ps. Ixxvii. 20 C 7 !?" 1 !! D J?)> which floated before the prophet s 
mind, and Zech. x. 11. Just as God went through the Red 
Sea in the olden time to lead Israel through, and to destroy the 
Egyptian army, so will He in the future go through the sea 
and do the same, when He goes forth to rescue His people out 
of the power of the Chaldgean. The prophet does not express 
the latter indeed, but it is implied in what he says. Tp^D is 
an accusative, not instrument^ however, but of more precise 
definition : thou, namely, according to thy horses ; for " with 
thy horses," as in Ps. Ixxxiii. 19, xliv. 3 (^T nnx) ; c f. Ewald, 
281, c, and 293, c. The horses are to be taken, as in ver. 8, 
as harnessed to the chariots ; and they are mentioned here with 
reference to the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, which were 
destroyed by Jehovah in the sea. Chomer, in the sense of 
heap, as in Ex. viii. 10, is not an accusative, but is still de 
pendent upon the 2 of the parallel clause. The expression 
" heap of many waters" serves simply to fill up the picture, as 
in Ps. Ixxvii. 20. 

Vers. 16-19 form the second part of the psalm, in which 
the prophet describes the feelings that are produced within 
himself by the coming of the Lord to judge the nations, and 
to rescue His own people ; viz. first of all, fear and trembling 

CHAP. III. 16, 17. 113 

at the tribulation (vers. 16, 17) ; then exulting joy, in his con 
fident trust in the God of salvation (vers. 18, 19). Ver. lb . 
" I heard it, then my belly trembled, at the sound my lips yelled ; 
rottenness forces itself into my bones, and I tremble under myself, 
that I am to wait quietly for the day of tribulation, when he that 
attacketh it approacheth the nation. Ver. 17. For the fig-tree 
will not blossom, and there is no yield on the vines ; the produce 
of the olive-tree disappoints, and the corn-fields bear no food; 
the flock is away from the fold, and no ox in the stalls." ^D^ is 
not connected with the theophany depicted in vers. 3-15, since 
this was not an audible phenomenon, but was an object of 
inward vision, " a spectacle which presented itself to the eye." 
" I heard" corresponds to " I have heard" in ver. 2, and, like 
the latter, refers to the report heard from God of the approach 
ing judgment. This address goes back to its starting-point, to 
explain the impression which it made upon the prophet, and to 
develop still how he " was afraid." The alarm pervades his 
whole body, belly, and bones, i.e. the softer and firmer com 
ponent parts of the body ; lips and feet, i.e. the upper and 
lower organs of the body. The lips cried l e qol, at the voice, 
the sound of God, which the prophet heard. Txdlal is used 
elsewhere only of the ringing of the ears (1 Sam. iii. 11 ; 
2 Kings xxi. 12 ; Jer. xix. 3) ; but here it is applied to the 
chattering sound produced by the lips, when they smite one 
another before crying out, not to the chattering of the teeth. 
Into the bones there penetrates rdqdbh, rottenness, inward con 
sumption of the bones, as an effect of alarm or pain, which 
paralyzes all the powers, and takes away all firmness from the 
body (cf. Prov. xii. 4, xiv. 30). Tachtai, under me, i.e. in my 
lower members, knees, feet : not as in Ex. xvi. 29, 2 Sam. ii. 
23, on the spot where I stand (cf. Ewald, 217, k). fTON ")tt\S 
might mean, " I who was to rest ;" but it is more appropriate 
to take asher as a relative conjunction, " that I," since the 
clause explains the great fear that had fallen upon him. "1BW is 
used in a similar way, viz. as a conjunction with the verb in 
the first person, in Ezek. xxix. 29. Nuach, to rest, not to rest 
in the grave (Luther and others), nor to bear quietly or endure 
(Ges., Maurer), but to wait quietly or silently. For it could 
hardly occasion such consuming pain to a God-fearing man as 
that which the prophet experienced, to bear misfortune quietly, 
VOL. n. II 


when it has already come, and cannot be averted ; but it might 
be to wait quietly and silently, in constant anticipation. Tsdrdh, 
the trouble which the Chaldseans bring upon Judah. ni7J is 
not subordinate to rny tfv, but co-ordinate with it, and is still 
dependent upon nK ; and *3W, as a relative clause (who 
oppresses it), is the subject to fifty? : " that I am to wait quietly 
for him that attacketh to approach my nation." For if Tfh^ were 
dependent upon Di^ 5 , it would be necessary to supply D^ as the 
subject : " when it (the day) comes." But this is precluded by 
the fact that n?y is not used for the approach or breaking of day. 
Dy?, to the people, dativ. incomm., is practically equivalent to 
DV ?y, against the people. DP, used absolutely, as in Isa. xxvi. 
11, xlii. 6, is the nation of Israel. Gud, as in Gen. xlix. 19, 20, 
i.e. gddady to press upon a person, to attack him, or crowd 
together against him (cf. Ps. xciv. 21). In ver. 17 the trouble 
of this day is described ; and the sensation of pain, in the an 
ticipation of the period of calamity, is thereby still further 
accounted for. The plantations and fields yield no produce. 
Folds and stalls are empty in consequence of the devastation 
of the land by the hostile troops and their depredations : " a 
prophetic picture of the devastation of the holy land by the 
Chaldsean war" (Delitzsch). Fig-tree and vine are mentioned 
as the noblest fruit-trees of the land, as is frequently the case 
(see Joel i. 7 ; Hos. ii. 14; Mic. iv. 4). To this there is added 
the olive-tree, as in Mic. vi. 15, Deut. vi. 11, viii. 8, etc. 
Maaseh zayith is not the shoot, but the produce or fruit of the 
olive-tree, after the phrase "HS nfe^ to bear fruit. Kichesh, to 
disappoint, namely the expectation of produce, as in Hos. ix. 2. 
Sh e demoth, which only occurs in the plural, corn-fields, is con 
strued here as in Isa. xvi. 8, with the verb in the singular, 
because, so far as the sense was concerned, it had become 
almost equivalent to sddeh, the field (see Ewald, 318, a). 
Gdzar, to cut off, used here in a neuter sense : to be cut off or 
absent. "P?*?, contracted from nsjap : fold, pen, an enclosed 
place for sheep. Repheth, air. Xe7-, the rack, then the stable or 

Although trembling on account of the approaching trouble, 
the prophet will nevertheless exult in the prospect of the salva 
tion that he foresees. Ver. 18. " But 7, in Jehovah will I rejoice, 
will shout in the God of my salvation. Ver. 19. Jehovah the 

CHAP. III. 18, 19. 115 

Lord is my strength, and makes my feet like the hinds, and causes 
me to walk along upon my high places." The turning-point is 
introduced with ^Sl, as is frequently the case in the Psalms. 
For this exaltation out of the sufferings of this life to believing 
joy in God, compare Ps. v. 8, xiii. 6, xxxi. 15, etc. !?, a 
softened form of Y*??, to rejoice in God (cf. Ps. v. 12), i.e. so 
that God is the inexhaustible source and infinite sphere of the 
joy, because He is the God of salvation, and rises up to judg 
ment upon the nations, to procure the salvation of His people 
(ver. 13). Elohe yistil (the God of my salvation), as in Ps. 
xviii. 47, xxv. 5 (see at Mic. vii. 7). The thoughts of the 19th 
verse are also formed from reminiscences of Ps. xviii. : the first 
clause, " the Lord is my strength," from ver. 33. " God, who 
girdeth me with strength," i.e. the Lord gives me strength to 
overcome all tribulation (cf. Ps. xxvii. 1 and 2 Cor. xii. 9). 
The next two clauses are from Ps. xviii. 34, " He maketh my 
feet like hinds ," according to the contracted simile common in 
Hebrew for " hinds feet ;" and the reference is to the swiftness 
of foot, which was one of the qualifications of a thorough man 
of war (2 Sam. i. 23 ; 1 Chron. xii. 8), so as to enable him to 
make a sudden attack upon the enemy, and pursue him vigo 
rously. Here it is a figurative expression for the fresh and 
joyous strength acquired in God, which Isaiah calls rising up 
with eagles wings (Isa. xl. 29-31). Causing to walk upon the 
high places of the land, was originally a figure denoting the 
victorious possession and government of a land. It is so in 
Deut. xxxii. 13 and xxxiii. 29, from which David has taken the 
figure in Ps. xviii., though he has altered the high places of the 
earth into " my high places" (bdmothai). They were the high 
places upon which the Lord had placed him, by giving him the 
victory over his enemies. And Habakkuk uses the figurative 
expression in the same sense, with the simple change of WJ?J 
into "^T!- after Deut. xxxiii. 29, to substitute for the bestow- 
rnent of victory the maintenance of victory corresponding to the 
blessing of Moses. We have therefore to understand bdmothai 
neither as signifying the high places of the enemy, nor the high 
places at home, nor high places generally. The figure must be 
taken as a whole ; and according to this, it simply denotes the 
ultimate triumph of the people of God over all oppression on 
the part of the power of the world, altogether apart from the 


local standing which the kingdom of God will have upon the 
earth, either by the side of or in antagonism to the kingdom of 
the world. The prophet prays and speaks throughout the entire 
ode in the name of the believing congregation. His pain is 
their pain ; his joy their joy. Accordingly he closes his ode 
by appropriating to himself and all believers the promise which 
the Lord has given to His people and to David His anointed 
servant, to express the confident assurance that the God of sal 
vation will keep it, and fulfil it in the approaching attack on 
the part of the power of the world upon the nation which has 
been refined by the judgment. 

The last words, V^?? fflBBP, do not form part of the con 
tents of the supplicatory ode, but are a subscription answering 
to the heading in ver. 1, and refer to the use of the ode in the 
worship of God, and simply differ from the headings H^p/ 
nij" 1 ^^ in Ps. iv., vi., liv., lv., Ixvii., and Ixxvi., through the use 
of the suffix in ^rrirm. Through the words, " to the president 
(of the temple-music, or the conductor) in accompaniment of 
my stringed playing" the prophet appoints his psalm for use in 
the public worship of God accompanied by his stringed playing. 
Hitzig s rendering is grammatically false, " to the conductor of 
my pieces of music ; " for 3 cannot be used as a periphrasis for 
the genitive, but when connected with a musical expression, 
only means with or in the accompaniment of (2 instrument or 
concomitantice). Moreover, flfo 11 ^ does not mean pieces of music, 
but simply a song, and the playing upon stringed instruments, 
or the stringed instrument itself (see at Ps. iv.). The first of 
these renderings gives no suitable sense here, so that there only 
remains the second, viz. " playing upon stringed instruments." 
But if the prophet, by using this formula, stipulates that the 
ode is to be used in the temple, accompanied by stringed instru 
ments, the expression binglndthai, with my stringed playing, 
affirms that he himself will accompany it with his own playing, 
from which it has been justly inferred that he was qualified, 
according to the arrangements of the Israelitish worship, to 
take part in the public performance of such pieces of music as 
were suited for public worship, and therefore belonged to the 
Levites who were entrusted with the conduct of the musical 
performance of the temple. 



JERSON OF THE PEOPHET. ZephaniaKs family 
is traced back in the heading to his book through 
four members, namely, to his great-great-grand 
father Hezekiah ; from which it has been justly 
inferred, that inasmuch as the father only is mentioned as a 
general rule, Hezekiah must have been a celebrated man, and 
that in all probability the king of that name is intended. For 
the only other person of such a name mentioned in the earlier 
history is an Ephraimite called Y e hizkiydh in 2 Chron. xxviii. 
12, and he can hardly be the person intended. The circum 
stance that Hezekiah is not described as the king of that name 
by the predicate hammelekh or melekh Y e huddh, furnishes no 
decided argument against this assumption, but may probably be 
explained on the ground that the predicate " king of Judah " 
follows immediately afterwards in connection with Josiah s 
name. There is still less force in the objection, that in the 
genealogy of the kings only two generations occur between 
Hezekiah and Josiah, inasmuch as Manasseh reigned for fifty- 
five years, that is to say, for nearly two generations. The 
name Zephaniah (T8*phany$li) 9 i.e. he whom Jehovah hides or 
shelters, not " speculator et arcanorum Dei cognitor" as Jerome 
explains it according to an erroneous derivation from tsdphdh 
instead of tsdphan, occurs again as the name of a priest (Jer. 
xxi. 1, xxix. 25, etc.), as well as of other persons (cf. Zech. 
vi. 10, 14, 1 Chron. vi. 21). The LXX. write it Sofovia*, 
Sophoniat, according to their usual custom of expressing V by 
<r, and the Sheva by a short vowel which is regulated by the 
full vowel that follows ; they have also changed the a into o, 
as in the case of roSoTu ou for G e dalydh in ch. i. 1. Nothing 
further is known concerning the prophet s life. The state- 



ment in Ps. Doroth. and Ps. Epiph., tliat he sprang "from the 
tribe of Simeon, from the mountain of Sarabatha " (al. Baratha 
or Sabartharam), is quite worthless. The date at which he 
lived is determined by the statement in the heading to his 
book, to the effect that he prophesied under king Josiah the 
son of Amos, who reigned from 641 to 610 B.C. This agrees 
both with the place assigned to his book in the series of the 
minor prophets, namely, between Habakkuk and Haggai, and 
also by the contents of his prophecies. According to ch. ii. 
13 sqq., where he predicts the destruction of the kingdom of 
Asshur and the city of Nineveh, the Assyrian empire was still 
in existence in his time, and Nineveh was not yet conquered, 
which took place, according to our discussions on Nahum 
(p. 44 sqq.), at the earliest, in the closing years of Josiah s reign, 
and possibly not till after his death. Moreover, his description 
of the moral depravity which prevailed in Jerusalem coincided 
in many respects with that of Jeremiah, whose labours as a 
prophet commenced in the thirteenth year of Josiah. Along 
with the worship of Jehovah (ch. i. 5; cf. Jer. vi. 20), he speaks 
of idolatry (ch. i. 4, 5 ; cf. Jer. vii. 17, 18), of false swearing 
by Jehovah, and swearing by the idols (ch. i. 5b ; Jer. v. 2, 
vii. 9, and v. 7, xii. 16), of the wicked treatment of the thordh 
(ch. iii. 4 ; Jer. viii. 8, 9), of the fruitlessness of all the admo 
nitions that have hitherto been addressed to Judah (ch. iii. 2 ; 
Jer. ii. 30, vii. 28), and of the deep moral corruption that has 
pervaded all ranks the royal family, the princes, the prophets, 
and the priests (ch. i. 4, 8, 9, iii. 3, 4 ; cf. Jer. ii. 8, 26). He 
describes the nation as a shameless one (ch. ii. 1, iii. 5 ; cf. 
Jer. iii. 3, vi. 15, viii. 12), and Jerusalem as a rebellious city 
(nanto, ch. iii. 1 ; cf. Jer. iv. 17, v. 23), as stained with blood 
and the abominations of idolatry (ch. iii. 1 ; cf. Jer. ii. 22, 23, 
34), and as oppressive towards widows and orphans, and with 
its houses full of unrighteous possessions (ch. iii. 1 and i. 9 ; 
cf. Jer. v. 27, 28, vi. 6). 

The only point open to dispute is whether Zephaniah s 
prophecy belonged to the first or the second half of the thirty- 
first year of Josiah s reign. Whilst Ewald supposes that 
Zephaniah wrote at a time when " not even any preparation 
had yet been made in Jerusalem for that important and thorough 
reformation of religion which king Josiah attempted with such 


energetic decision and such good results in the second half of 
his reign" (2 Kings xxii. xxiii.), most of the other commentators 
infer from ch. i. 4, where the extermination of the remnant of 
Baal is predicted, and with greater propriety, that Josiah s 
reformation of religion had already commenced, and that the 
outward predominance of idolatry was already broken down 
when Zephaniah uttered his prophecies. For the prophet could 
not well speak of a remnant of Baal before the abolition of the 
idolatry introduced into the kingdom by Manasseh and Amon 
had really commenced. But Ewald and Havernick reply to 
this, that the prophet announces that even the remnant and 
the name of idolatry are to disappear, so that nothing at all 
will remain, and that this presupposes that in the time of the 
prophet not only the remnant of the worship of Baal was in 
existence, but the Baal-worship itself. But however correct 
the former remark may be, there is no ground for the conclu 
sion drawn from it. The destruction of Baal, even to the 
very remnant and name, does not warrant the assumption that 
the worship of Baal still existed in undiminished power and 
extent at the time when the threat was uttered, but could be 
fully explained if there were only remnants of it left to which 
the expression " remnant of Baal" primarily refers. If nothing 
had been hitherto done for the abolition of idolatry, Zephaniah 
would certainly have spoken differently and more strongly than 
he does in ch. i. 4, 5, concerning the abomination of it. If, for 
example, according to ch. i. 5, sacrifices were still offered upon 
the roofs to the army of heaven, the existence of the Jehovah- 
worship is also presupposed in the reproof in ch. iii. iv., "the 
priests pollute the sanctuary ;" and in the words "them that 
swear by Jehovah, and swear by their king" (ch. i. 5), Jehovah- 
worship and idolatry are mentioned as existing side by side. 
We cannot therefore regard the opinion, that " throughout the 
whole of the prophecy there is no trace of any allusion to 
Josiah s reformation," as a well-founded one. According to 
the more precise account given in the Chronicles, Josiah com 
menced the reformation of worship in the twelfth year of his 
reign (2 Chron. xxxiv. 3-7), and in the eighteenth year he had 
the temple repaired. It was then that the book of the law was 
discovered, the reading of which affected the king so much, 
that he not only appointed a solemn passover, but after the 


feast was over had all the remaining traces of idolatry in Jeru 
salem and Judah completely obliterated (2 Kings xxiii. 24). 
Now, as Zephaniah s prophecy presupposes the maintenance of 
the temple-worship, it can only have been uttered after the 
purification of the temple from the abominations of idolatry 
that were practised in its courts, and in all probability was not 
uttered till after the completion of the repairs of the temple, 
and the celebration of the solemn passover in the eighteenth 
year of Josiah s reign. The time cannot be determined more 
exactly. The threat in ch. i. 8, that the judgment shall fall 
upon the princes, and even upon the king s sons, does not 
warrant us in concluding that the sons of Josiah had reached 
a sufficient age to have occasioned the announcement of punish 
ment, by sinful acts for which they themselves were account 
able, which would not apply to the twelfth year of the king s 
reign, when Jehoiakim was six years old, Jehoahaz four years, 
and when Zedekiah was not yet born, but only to the eighteenth 
year, when Jehoiakim had reached his twelfth year and Jeho 
ahaz his tenth. For "the king s sons" are not necessarily the 
sons of the reigning sovereign only, but may also include the 
sons of the deceased kings, Manasseh and Amon ; and this 
general threat of judgment announced against all ranks may 
be understood without hesitation as relating to all princes or 
persons of royal blood. The character of the prophecy as a 
whole also furnishes no decisive points bearing upon the ques 
tion, whether it was uttered or composed before or after the 
eighteenth year of Josiah s reign. For the tendency to pro 
mote the work of religious reformation which had already 
commenced, by means of strong prophetic encouragements, in 
order that it might lead to a division, and therefore to decision 
for the Lord (ch. ii. 1-3), which Havernick and several other 
commentators claim for our prophecy, can no more be proved 
to exist in the writing before us, than the conjecture expressed 
by Delitzsch in Herzog s Cyclopaedia, that the prophet did not 
come forward with his threat till the efforts of the pious king 
to exterminate utterly the worship of Baal had reached their 
highest point, without securing their end ; inasmuch as it is in 
accordance with the position of things and the character of 
prophecy, that when human efforts have done their utmost 
without securing the desired result, Jehovah interposes and 


threatens what still remains of Baal with His outstretched arm 
of punishment. For however correct the remark (of Delitzsch) 
may be, that in the form in which the prophecy lies before us 
it contains no trace of any intention to promote the work taken 
in hand by the king, and that the state of the nation as reflected 
therein is not a progressive one in process of reformation, but 
appears rather to be a finished one and ripe for judgment ; the 
latter only applies to the mass of the nation, who were incor 
rigible, and therefore ripe for judgment, and does not preclude 
the existence of a better kernel, to which the prophet could 
still preach repentance, and cry, " Seek ye the Lord, seek 
humility ; perhaps ye may be hidden in the day of Jehovah" 
(ch. ii. 3). But the nation was in this state not only after the 
eighteenth year of Josiah s reign, but also before it ; and the 
efforts of the pious king to exterminate idolatry, and to raise 
and revive the worship of Jehovah, could effect no further 
alteration in this, than that individuals out of the corrupt mass 
were converted, and were saved from destruction. The measure 
of the sin, which was inevitably followed by the destruction of 
the kingdom of Judah, had been already filled by Manasseh, 
and Josiah s reformation could only effect a postponement, and 
not avert the threatened judgment (compare 2 Kings xxi. 10-16 
with xxiii. 26, 27). 

2. THE BOOK OF ZEPHANIAH does not contain two or 
three prophetic addresses, but the quintessence of the oral 
proclamations of the prophet condensed into one lengthened 
prophecy, commencing with the threat of judgment (ch. i.), 
proceeding to an exhortation to repentance (ch. ii.-iii. 8), and 
concluding with a promise of the salvation which would flourish 
for the remnant of Israel after the termination of the judgment 
(ch. iii. 9-20). This is arranged in three sections. The first 
section consists of the first chapter; the second reaches from 
ch. ii. 1 to ch. iii. 8; and the third comprises ch. iii. 920. 
This division is indicated by both the contents and the form of 
the announcement : by the contents, since the first two parts 
threaten the judgment and assign the reason, whilst the third 
follows with the promise ; by the form, inasmuch as the thought 
in ch. i. 18, " All the earth shall be devoured by the fire of His 
jealousy," is repeated as a refrain in ch. iii. 8, and the hoi in 


ch. ii. 5 answers to the hoi in ch. iii. 1, the former announcing 
the judgment upon the nations, the latter the judgment upon 
Jerusalem, which assigns the motive for the summons to repent 
ance in ch. ii. 1-4. Zephaniah proclaims the judgment upon 
the whole earth, upon all the heathen nations, and upon Judah 
and Jerusalem, in the following order : In the first part of his 
prophecy he threatens the near approach of the judgment upon 
the whole earth (ch. i. 2-7) and upon Judah (ch. i. 8-13), and 
depicts its terrible character (ch. i. 14-18) ; and in the second 
part (ch. ii.-iii. 8) he exhorts the people to repent, and the 
righteous to persevere (ch. ii. 1-3), and assigns a reason for 
this exhortation, by announcing that the Lord will judge the 
heathen nations both near at hand and far off for the reproach 
which they have cast upon His people, and by destroying their 
power lead them to reverence His name (ch. ii. 4-15), and will 
also bring His righteousness to light in Jerusalem and Judah 
by the destruction of the ungodly (ch. iii. 18). Then (the 
announcement of salvation commences thus in ch. iii. 9, 10) 
will the nations serve Jehovah with one accord, and lead His 
scattered people to Him. The remnant of Israel will be made 
into a humble nation of God by the destruction of the wicked 
one out of the midst of it ; and being sheltered by its God, it 
will rejoice in undisturbed happiness, and be exalted to "a 
name and praise" among all the nations of the earth (ch. iii. 

Zephaniah s prophecy has a more general character, em 
bracing both judgment and salvation in their totality, so as to 
form one complete picture. It not only commences with the 
announcement of a universal judgment upon the whole world, 
out of which the judgment rises that will fall upon Judah on 
account of its sins, and upon the world of nations on account 
of its hostility to the people of Jehovah ; but it treats through 
out of the great and terrible day of Jehovah, on which the fire 
of the wrath of God consumes the whole earth (ch. i. 14-18, 
ii. 2, iii. 8). But the judgment, as a revelation of the wrath 
of God on account of the general corruption of the world, does 
not form the centre of gravity or the sole object of the whole 
of the predictions of our prophet. The end and goal at which 
they aim are rather the establishment of divine righteousness 
in the earth, and the judgment is simply the means and the 


way by which this the aim of all the development of the world s 
history is to be realized. This comes clearly out in the second 
and third sections. Jehovah will manifest Himself terribly to 
the nations, to destroy all the gods of the earth, that all the 
islands of the nations may worship Him (ch. ii. 11). By pour 
ing out His wrath upon nations and kingdoms, He will turn 
to the peoples a pure lip, so that they will call upon His name 
and serve Him with one shoulder (iii. 8, 9). The idolaters, 
the wicked, and the despisers of God will be destroyed out of 
Judah and Jerusalem, that the righteousness of Jehovah may 
come to the day (iii. 1-7). The humble, who do God s right 
eousness, are to seek Jehovah, to strive after righteousness 
and humility, and to wait for the Lord, for the day when He 
will arise, to procure for Himself worshippers of His name 
among the nations through the medium of the judgment, and 
to gather together His dispersed people, and make the rem 
nant of Israel into a sanctified and blessed people of God 
(iii. 11-20). 

It is in this comprehensive character of his prophecy that 
we find the reason why Zephaniah neither names, nor minutely 
describes, the executors of the judgment upon Judah, and even 
in the description of the judgment to be inflicted upon the 
heathen nations (ch. ii. 4-15) simply individualizes the idea 
of " all the nations of the earth," by naming the nearer and 
more remote nations to the west and east, the south and north 
of Judah. He does not predict either this or that particular 
judgment, but extends and completes in comprehensive gene 
rality the judgment, by which God maintains His kingdom on 
the earth. This peculiarity in Zephaniah s prophecy has been 
correctly pointed out by Bucer (in his commentary, 1528), 
when he says of the book before us: " If any one wishes all the 
secret oracles of the prophets to be given in a brief compendium, 
let him read through this brief Zephaniah." There are many 
respects in which Zephaniah links his prophecy to those of the 
earlier prophets, both in subject-matter and expression ; not, 
however, by resuming those prophecies of theirs which had not 
been fulfilled, or were not exhausted, during the period of the 
Assyrian judgment upon the nations, and announcing a fresh 
and more perfect fulfilment of them by the Chaldseans, but by 
reproducing in a compendious form the fundamental thoughts 


of judgment and salvation which are common to all the pro 
phets, that his contemporaries may lay them to heart ; in 
doing which he frequently appropriates striking words and 
pregnant expressions taken from his predecessors, and applies 
them to his own purpose. Thus, for example, the expression 
in ch. i. 7 is compiled from earlier prophetic words : u Be silent 
before the Lord Jehovah (from Hab. ii. 20), for the day of 
Jehovah is at hand (Joel i. 15 and others) ; for Jehovah has 
prepared a sacrificial slaughter (Isa. xxxiv. 6), has consecrated 
His invited ones (Isa. xiii. 3)." (For further remarks on this 
point, see my Lelirbuch der Einleitung, p. 307.) In this re 
spect Zephaniah opens the series of the less original prophets 
of the Chaldsean age of judgment, who rest more upon the 
earlier types ; whilst in more material respects his predecessor 
Habakkuk acted as pioneer to the prophets of this period. 

Ewald s view bears evidence of a strong misapprehension 
of the nature of prophecy generally, and of the special pecu 
liarities of the prophecy before us. " The book of Zephaniah," 
he says, " must have originated in a great commotion among the 
nations, which threw all the kingdoms round about Judah far 
and wide into a state of alarm, and also threatened to be very 
dangerous to Jerusalem," namely, on account of the invasion 
of Upper and Hither Asia by the Scythians, which is mentioned 
by Herodotus in i. 15, 103-6, iv. 10 sqq. For there is not a 
trace discoverable in the whole book of any great commotion 
among the nations. The few allusions to the fact that a 
hostile army will execute the judgment upon Jerusalem and 
Judah (in ch. i. 12, 13, 16, and iii. 15) do not presuppose any 
thing of the kind ; and in the threatening of the judgment 
upon Philistia, Moab and Ammon, Gush, and Asshur with 
Nineveh, Jehovah only is named as executing it (ch. ii. 4-15). 
Moreover, neither Herodotus nor the historical books of the 
Old Testament mention any conquest of Jerusalem by the 
Scythians; whilst, even according to the account given by 
Herodotus, the Scythian hordes neither destroyed Nineveh nor 
made war upon the Cushites (Ethiopians), as would be pre 
dicted by Zephaniah (ii. 12-15), if he had the Scythians in 
his eye ; and lastly, Jeremiah, upon whose prophecies Ewald, 
Hitzig, and Bertheau have principally based their Scythian 
hypothesis, knows nothing of the Scythians, but simply expects 


and announces that the judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem 
will come from the Chaldseans. Zephaniah found the histo 
rical occasion for his prophecy in the moral depravity of Judah 
and Jerusalem, in the depth to which his people had fallen in 
idolatry, and in their obstinate resistance to all the efforts made 
by the prophets and the pious king Josiah to stem the cor 
ruption, and thus avert from Judah the judgment threatened 
even by Moses and the earlier prophets, of the dispersion of 
the whole nation among the heathen. On the ground of the 
condition of his people, and the prophetic testimonies of his 
predecessors, Zephaniah, under the impulse of the Spirit of 
God, predicted the near approach of the great and terrible day 
of Jehovah, which came upon Judah and the heathen nations 
far and wide through the instrumentality of the Chaldseans. 
For Nebuchadnezzar laid the foundation of the empire which 
devastated Judah, destroyed Jerusalem with its temple, and 
led the degenerate covenant nation into exile. This empire 
was perpetuated in the empires of the Persians, the Mace 
donians, and the Romans, which arose after it and took its 
place, and in whose power Judah continued, even after the 
return of one portion of the exiles to the land of their fathers, 
and after the restoration of the temple and the city of Jeru 
salem during the Persian rule ; so that the city of God was 
trodden down by the heathen even to the time of the destruc 
tion of Jerusalem by the Romans, whereby the desolation of 
the holy land, which continues to the present day, was pro 
duced, and the dispersion of the Jews to all quarters of the 
globe accomplished, and both land and people were laid under 
the ban, from which Israel can only be liberated by its con 
version to Jesus Christ, the Saviour of all nations, and from 
which it will assuredly be redeemed by virtue of the promise 
of the faithful covenant God. For the exegetical literature, 
bee my Lehrbuch der Eiiileitung, pp. 305-6. 




The judgment will come upon all the world (vers. 2, 3), 
and will destroy all the idolaters and despisers of God in Judah 
and Jerusalem (vers. 4-7), and fall heavily upon sinners of 
every rank (vers. 8-13). The terrible day of the Lord will 
burst irresistibly upon all the inhabitants of the earth (vers. 

Ver. 1 contains the heading, which has been explained in 
the introduction. Vers. 2 and 3 form the preface. Ver. 2. 
" I will sweep, sweep away everything from the face of the earth, 
is the saying of Jehovah. Ver. 3. / will sweep away man and 
cattle, sweep away the fowls of heaven, and the fishes of the sea, 
and the offences with the sinners, and I cut off men from the face 
of the earth, is the saying of Jehovah" The announcement of 
the judgment upon the whole earth not only serves to sharpen 
the following threat of judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem 
in this sense, u Because Jehovah judges the whole world, He 
will punish the apostasy of Judah all the more ; " but the 
judgment upon the whole world forms an integral part of his 
prophecy, which treats more fully of the execution of the 
judgment in and upon Judah, simply because Judah forms 
the kingdom of God, which is to be purified from its dross by 
judgment, and led on towards the end of its divine calling. 
As Zephaniah here opens the judgment awaiting Judah with 
an announcement of a judgment upon the whole world, so 
does he assign the reason for his exhortation to repentance in 
ch. ii., by showing that all nations will succumb to the judg 
ment ; and then announces in ch. iii. 9 sqq., as the fruit of the 
judgment, the conversion of the nations to Jehovah, and the 
glorification of the kingdom of God. The way to salvation 
leads through judgment, not only for the world with its enmity 
against God, but for the degenerate theocracy also. It is only 
through judgment that the sinful world can be renewed and 
glorified. The verb ^0^ the hiphil of suph, is strengthened by 

CHAP. I. 4-7. 127 

the inf. abs. *|b&5, which is formed from the verb *lpN, a verb of 
kindred meaning. Suph and dsaph signify to take away, to 
sweep away, hipli. to put an end, to destroy. Kol, everything, 
is specified in ver. 3 : men and cattle, the birds of heaven, and 
the fishes of the sea ; the verb dseph being repeated before the 
two principal members. This specification stands in unmis- 
takeable relation to the threatening of God : to destroy all 
creatures for the wickedness of men, from man to cattle, and 
to creeping things, and even to the fowls of the heaven (Gen. 
vi. 7). By playing upon this threat, Zephaniah intimates that 
the approaching judgment will be as general over the earth, 
and as terrible, as the judgment of the flood. Through this 
judgment God will remove or destroy the offences (stumbling- 
blocks) together with the sinners. riK before BW" 1 ? cannot be 
the sign of the accusative, but can only be a preposition, with, 
together with, since the objects to *lpK are all introduced with 
out the sign of the accusative ; and, moreover, if Bhrrntf were 
intended for an accusative, the copula Vdv would not be 
omitted. Hammakhsheloth does not mean houses about to fall 
(Hitzig), which neither suits the context nor can be grammati 
cally sustained, since even in Isa. iii. 6 hammakhsheldh is not 
the fallen house, but the state brought to ruin by the sin of 
the people ; and makhsheldh is that against which or through 
which a person meets with a fall. Makhsheloth are all the 
objects of coarser and more refined idolatry, not merely the 
idolatrous images, but all the works of wickedness, like ra cr/cdv- 
a\a in Matt. xiii. 41. The judgment, however, applies chiefly 
to men, i.e. to sinners, and hence in the last clause the destruc 
tion of men from off the earth is especially mentioned. The 
irrational creation is only subject to <f>0opd, on account of and 
through the sin of men (Rom. viii. 20 sqq.). 

Vers. 4-7. The judgment coming upon the whole earth 
with all its inhabitants will fall especially upon Judah and 
Jerusalem. Ver. 4. " And I stretch my hand over Judah, and 
over all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and cut off from this place 
the remnant of Baal, the name of the consecrated servants, together 
with the priests. Ver. 5. And those who worship the army of 
heaven upon the roofs, and the worshippers who swear to Jehovah, 
and who swear by their king. Ver. 6. And those who draw back 
from Jehovah, and who did not seek Jehovah, and did not inquire 


for Him" God stretches out His hand (T) or His arm 
to smite the ungodly with judgments (compare ch. vi. 6, Deut. 
iv. 34, v. 15, with Isa. v. 25, ix. 11, 16, 20, x. 4, xiv. 26 sqq.). 
Through the judgment upon Judah and Jerusalem He will cut 
off 7V?n "iKi?, the remnant of Baal, i.e. all that remains of Baal 
and of idolatry ; for Baal or the Baal-worship stands per synec- 
dochen for idolatry of every kind (see at Hos. ii. 10). The 
emphasis lies upon " the remnant," all that still exists of the 
Baal-worship or idolatry, even to the very last remnant ; so that 
the emphasis presupposes that the extermination has already 
begun, that the worship of Baal no longer exists in undi- 
minished force and extent. It must not be limited, however, 
to the complete abolition of the outward or grosser idolatry, 
but includes the utter extermination of the grosser as well as 
the more refined Baal-worship. That the words should be so 
understood is required by the parallel clause : the name of the 
consecrated servants together with the priests. K mdrlm are 
not prophets of Baal, but, as in 2 Kings xxiii. 5 and Hos. x. 5, 
the priests appointed by the kings of Judah for the worship of 
the high places and the idolatrous worship of Jehovah (for the 
etymology of the word, see at 2 Kings xxiii. 5). The kdhamm, 
as distinguished from these, are idolatrous priests in the stricter 
sense of the word (i.e. those who conducted the literal idolatry). 
The names of both the idolatrous priests of Jehovah and the 
literal priests of the idols are to be cut off, so that not only 
the persons referred to will disappear, but even their names 
will be heard no more. Along with the idols and their priests, 
the worshippers of idols are also to be destroyed. Just as in 
ver. 4 two classes of priests are distinguished, so in ver. 5 are 
two classes of worshippers, viz. (1) the star-worshippers, and 
(2) those who tried to combine the worship of Jehovah and 
the worship of idols ; and to these a third class is added in 
ver. 6. The worship of the stars was partly Baal-worship, the 
sun, moon, and stars being worshipped as the bearers of the 
powers of nature worshipped in Baal and Asherah (see at 
2 Kings xxiii. 5) ; and partly Sabseism or pure star-worship, the 
stars being worshipped as the originators of all growth and 
decay in nature, and the leaders and regulators of all sublunary 
things (see at 2 Kings xxi. 3). The worship took place upon 
the roofs, i.e. on altars erected upon the flat roofs of the houses, 

CHAP. I. 7. 129 

chiefly by the burning of incense (Jer. xix. 13), but also by the 
offering of sacrifices (2 Kings xxiii. 12 ; see the comm. in loc.). 
" They offered the sacrifices upon the roofs, that they might 
be the better able to see the stars in the heavens " (Theodoret). 
Along with the star-worshippers as the representatives of literal 
idolatry, Zephaniah mentions as a second class the worshippers 
who swear partly to Jehovah, and partly by their king, i.e. who 
go limping on two sides (1 Kings xviii. 21), or try to combine 
the worship of Jehovah with that of Baal. Malkdm, their 
king, is Baal, who is distinctly called king in the inscriptions 
(see Movers, Phonizier, i. pp. 171-2), and not the " earthly king 
of the nation," as Hitzig has erroneously interpreted the Maso- 
retic text, in consequence of which he proposes to read milkom, 
i.e. Moloch. JJStW with ? signifies to take an oath to Jehovah, 
i.e. to bind one s self on oath to His service; whereas JJ2H?J with 
3 (to swear by a person) means to call upon Him as God when 
taking an oath. The difference between the two expressions 
answers exactly to the religious attitude of the men in question, 
who pretended to be worshippers of Jehovah, and yet with 
every asseveration took the name of Baal into their mouth. 
In ver. 6 we have not two further classes mentioned, viz. " the 
vicious and the irreligious," as Hitzig supposes; but the persons 
here described form only one single class. Retiring behind 
Jehovah, drawing back from Him, turning the back upon 
God, is just the same as not seeking Jehovah, or not inquiring 
after Him. The persons referred to are the religiously in 
different, those who do not trouble themselves about God, the 
despisers of God. 

This judgment will speedily come. Ver. 7. "Be silent 
before the Lord Jehovah ! For the day of Jehovah is near, for 
Jehovah has prepared a slaying of sacrifice, He has consecrated 
His called." The command, "Be silent before the Lord," 
which is formed after Hab. ii. 20, and with which the prophet 
summons to humble, silent submission to the judgment of God, 
serves to confirm the divine threat in vers. 2-6. The reason 
for the commanding Hush ! (keep silence) is given in the state 
ment that the day of Jehovah is close at hand (compare Joel 
i. 15), and that God has already appointed the executors of the 
judgment. The last two clauses of the verse are formed from 
reminiscences taken from Isaiah. The description of the judg- 


ment as zebhach, a sacrifice, is taken from Isa. xxxiv. 6 (cf. 
Jer. xlvi. 10 and Ezek. xxxix. 17). The sacrifice which God 
lias prepared is the Jewish nation ; those who are invited to 
this sacrificial meal (" called," 1 Sam. ix. 13) are not beasts 
and birds of prey, as in Ezek. xxxix. 17, but the nations which 
He has consecrated to war that they may consume Jacob (Jer. 
x. 25). The extraordinary use of the verb hiqdlsh (consecrated) 
in this connection may be explained from Isa. xiii. 3, where the 
nations appointed to make war against Babel are called m e qud- 
ddshlm, the sanctified of Jehovah (cf. Jer. xxii. 7). 

Vers. 8-13. The judgment will fall with equal severity upon 
the idolatrous and sinners of every rank (vers. 8-11), and no one 
in Jerusalem will be able to save himself from it (vers. 12, 13). 
In three double verses Zephaniah brings out three classes of 
men who differ in their civil position, and also in their attitude 
towards God, as those who will be smitten by the judgment : 
viz. (1) the princes, i.e. the royal family and superior servants 
of the king, who imitate the customs of foreigners, and oppress 
the people (vers. 8, 9) ; (2) the merchants, who have grown 
rich through trade and usury (vers. 10, 11) ; (3) the irreligious 
debauchees (vers. 12, 13). The first of these he threatens 
with visitation. Ver. 8. " And it will come to pass in the day 
of Jehovah s sacrifice, that I visit the princes and the kings sons, 
and all who clothe themselves in foreign dress. Ver. 9. And I 
visit every one who leaps over the threshold on that day, those 
who fill the Lortfs house with violence and deceit." The enume 
ration of those who are exposed to the judgment commences 
with the princes, i.e. the heads of the tribes and families, who 
naturally filled the higher offices of state ; and the king s so?is, 
not only the sons of Josiah, who were still very young (see 
the Introduction, p. 120), but also the sons of the deceased 
kings, the royal princes generally. The king himself is not 
named, because Josiah walked in the ways of the Lord, and 
on account of his piety and fear of God was not to live to see 
the outburst of the judgment (2 Kings xxii. 19, 20 ; 2 Chron. 
xxxiv. 27, 28). The princes and king s sons are threatened 
with punishment, not on account of the high position which 
they occupied in the state, but on account of the ungodly dis 
position which they manifested. For since the clauses which 
follow not only mention different classes of men, but also point 

CHAP. I. 8, 9. 131 

out the sius of the different classes, we must also expect this 
in the case of the princes and the king s sons, and consequently 
must refer the dressing in foreign clothes, which is condemned 
in the second half of the verse, to the princes and king s sons 
also, and understand the word " all " as relating to those who 
imitated their manners without being actually princes or kino s 
sons. Malbush nokhrl (foreign dress) does not refer to the 
clothes worn by the idolaters in their idolatrous worship (Chald., 
Rashi, Jer.), nor to the dress prohibited in the law, viz. "women 
dressing in men s clothes, or men dressing in women s clothes" 
(Deut. xxii. 5, 11), as Grotius maintains, nor to clothes stolen 
from the poor, or taken from them as pledges ; but, as nokhrl 
signifies a foreigner, ta- foreign dress. Drusius has already 
pointed this out, and explains the passage as follows r " I think 
that the reference is to all those who betrayed the levity of 
their minds by wearing foreign dress. For I have no doubt 
that in that age some copied the Egyptians in their style of 
dress, and others the Babylonians, according as they favoured 
the one nation or the other. The prophet therefore says, that 
even those who adopted foreign habits, and conformed them 
selves to the customs of the victorious nation, would not be 
exempt." The last allusion is certainly untenable, and it 
would be more correct to say with Strauss : " The prophets did 
not care for externals of this kind, but it was evident to them 
that as the dress, so the heart ; that is to say, the clothes were 
witnesses in their esteem of the foreign inclinations of the 
heart." In ver. 9a many commentators find a condemnation 
of an idolatrous use of foreign customs ; regarding the leaping 
over the threshold as an imitation of the priests of Dagon, 
who adopted the custom, according to 1 Sam. v. 5, of leaping 
over the threshold when they entered the temple of that idol. 
But an imitation of that custom could only take place in temples 
of Dagon, and it appears perfectly inconceivable that it should 
have been transferred to the threshold of the king s palace, 
unless the king was regarded as an incarnation of Dagon, a 
thought which could never enter the minds of Israelitish idola 
ters, since even the Philistian kings did not hold themselves to be 
incarnations of their idols. If we turn to the second hemistich, 
the thing condemned is the filling of their masters houses with 
violence; and this certainly does not stand in any conceivable 


relation to that custom of the priests of Dagon ; and yet the 
words " who fill," etc., are proved to be explanatory of the first 
half of the verse, by the fact that the second clause is appended 
without the copula Vav, and without the repetition of the pre 
position ity. Now, if a fresh sin were referred to here, the 
copula Vav, at all events, could not have been omitted. We 
must therefore understand by the leaping over the threshold a 
violent and sudden rushing into houses to steal the property of 
strangers (Calvin, Ros., Ewald, Strauss, and others), so that 
the allusion is to " dishonourable servants of the king, who 
thought that they could best serve their master by extorting 
treasures from their dependants by violence and fraud" (Ewald). 
Drvyitf, of their lord, i.e. of the king, not " of their lords :" the 
plural is in the pluralis majestatis, as in 1 Sam. xxvi. 16, 2 Sam. 
ii. 5, etc. 

Even the usurers will not escape the judgment. Ver. 10. 
" And it will come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah, 
voice of the cry from the fish-gate, and howling from the lower 
city, and great destruction from the hills. Ver. 11. Howl, 
inhabitants of the mortar, for all the people of Canaan are de 
stroyed ; cut off are all that are laden with silver." In order to 
express the thought that the judgment will not spare any one 
class of the population, Zephaniah depicts the lamentation 
which will arise from all parts of the city. ni?yy 7\\>, voice of 
the cry, i.e. a loud cry of anguish will arise or resound. The 
fish-gate (according to Neh. iii. 3, xii. 39; cf. 2 Chron. xxxiii. 14) 
was in the eastern portion of the wall which bounded the lower 
city on the north side (for further details on this point, see at 
Neh. iii. 3). njBten (= TOipp ivjjn, N e h. xi. 9), the second part 
or district of the city, is the lower city upon the hill Acra (see 
at 2 Kings xxii. 14). Shebher, fragor, does not mean a cry of 
murder, but the breaking to pieces of what now exists, not 
merely the crashing fall of the buildings, like za aqath shebher 
in Isa. xv. 5, the cry uttered at the threatening danger of utter 
destruction. In order to heighten the terrors of the judgment, 
there is added to the crying and howling of the men the tumult 
caused by the conquest of the city. "From the hills," i.e. 
(t not from Zion and Moriah," but from the hills surrounding 
the lower city, viz. Bezetha, Gareb (Jer. xxxi. 39), and others. 
For Zion, the citadel of Jerusalem, is evidently thought of as 

CHAP. I. 12, 13. 133 

the place where the howling of the men and the noise of the 
devastation, caused by the enemy pressing in from the north 
and north-west, are heard. Hammakhtesh, the mortar (Prov. 
xxvii. 22), which is the name given in Judg. xv. 19 to a hollow 
place in a rock, is used here to denote a locality in Jerusalem, 
most probably the depression which ran down between A era 
on the west and Bezetha and Moriah on the east, as far as the 
fountain of Siloah, and is called by Josephus " the cheese- 
maker s valley," and by the present inhabitants el- Wad, i.e. the 
valley, and also the mill-valley. The name " mortar " was pro 
bably coined by Zephaniah, to point to the fate of the merchants 
and men of money who lived there. They who dwell there 
shall howl, because "all the people of Canaan" are destroyed. 
These are not Canaanitish or Phoenician merchants, but Judaean 
merchants, who resembled the Canaanites or Phoenicians in 
their general business (see at Hos. xii. 8), and had grown rich 
through trade and usury. N tll keseph, laden with silver. 

The debauchees and rioters generally will also not remain 
free from punishment. Ver. 12. "And at that time it will come 
to pass, that 1 will search Jerusalem with candles, and visit the 
men who lie upon their lees, who say in their heart, Jehovah does 
no good, and no evil. Ver. 13. Their goods will become plunder, 
and their houses desolation : they will build houses, and not dwell 
(therein), and plant vineyards, and not drink their wine." God 
will search Jerusalem with candles, to bring out the irreli 
gious debauchees out of their hiding-places in their houses, 
and punish them. The visitation is effected by the enemies 
who conquer Jerusalem. Jerome observes on this passage : 
"Nothing will be allowed to escape unpunished. If we read the 
history of Josephus, we shall find it written there, that princes 
and priests, and mighty men, were dragged even out of the 
sewers, and caves, and pits, and tombs, in which they had hidden 
themselves from fear of death." Now, although what is stated 
here refers to the conquest of Jerusalem by Titus, there can 
be no doubt that similar things occurred at the Chaldsean con 
quest. The expression to search with candles (cf. Luke xv. 8) 
is a figure denoting the most minute search of the dwellings 
and hiding-places of the despisers of God. These are described 
as men who sit drawn together upon their lees (N^i?, lit. to draw 
one s self together, to coagulate). The figure is borrowed from 


old wine, which has been left upon its lees and not drawn off, 
and which, when poured into other vessels, retains its flavour, 
and does not alter its odour (Jer. xlviii. 11), and denotes per 
severance or confirmation in moral and religious indifference, 
" both external quiet, and carelessness, idleness, and spiritual 
insensibility in the enjoyment not only of the power and pos 
sessions bestowed upon them, but also of the pleasures of sin 
and the worst kinds of lust" (Marck). Good wine, when it 
remains for a long time upon its lees, becomes stronger ; but 
bad wine becomes harsher and thicker. Sh e mdrim, lees, do 
not denote " sins in which the ungodly are almost stupefied" 
(Jerome), or " splendour which so deprives a man of his senses 
that there is nothing left either pure or sincere" (Calvin), 
but " the impurity of sins, which were associated in the case 
of these men with external good" (Marck). In the carnal 
repose of their earthly prosperity, they said in their heart, i.e. 
they thought within themselves, there is no God who rules and 
judges the world ; everything takes place by chance, or accord 
ing to dead natural laws. They did not deny the existence of 
God, but in their character and conduct they denied the work 
ing of the living God in the world, placing Jehovah on the 
level of the dead idols, who did neither good nor harm (Isa. 
xli. 23 ; Jer. x. 5), whereby they really denied the being of 
God. 1 To these God will show Himself as the ruler and judge 
of the world, by giving up their goods (cheldm, opes eorum) to 
plunder, so that they will experience the truth of the punish 
ments denounced in His word against the despisers of His 
name (compare Lev. xxvi. 32, 33, Deut. xxviii. 30, 39, and 
the similar threats in Amos v. 11, Mic. vi. 15). 

Vers. 14-18. This judgment will not be delayed. To 
terrify the self-secure sinners out of their careless rest, Zepha- 
niah now carries out still further the thought only hinted at 
in ver. 7 of the near approach and terrible character of the 

1 " For neither the majesty of God, nor His government or glory, 
consists in any imaginary splendour, but in those attributes which so meet 
together in Him that they cannot be severed from His essence. It is the 
property of God to govern the world, to take care of the human race, to 
distinguish between good and evil, to relieve the wretched, to punish all 
crimes, to restrain unjust violence. And if any one would deprive God of 
these, he would leave nothing but an idol." CALVIN. 

CHAP. I. 14-16. 135 

judgment. Ver. 14. " The great day of Jehovah is near, near 
and hasting greatly. Hark ! the day of Jehovah, bitterly crieth 
the hero there. Ver. 15. A day of fury is this day, a day of 
anguish and pressure^ d day of devastation and desert, a day of 
darkness and gloom, a day of cloud and cloudy night. Ver. 16. 
A day of the trumpet and battering, over the fortified cities and 
high battlements." The day of Jehovah is called "the great day" 
with reference to its effects, as in Joel ii. 11. The emphasis 
lies primarily, however, upon the qdrobh (is near), which is 
therefore repeated and strengthened by *IN "inip. "inp is not 
a piel participle with the Mem dropped, but an adjective form, 
which has sprung out of the adverbial use of the inf. abs. (cf. 
Ewald, 240, e). In the second hemistich the terrible cha 
racter of this day is described, tip before yom Y e hovdh (the 
day of Jehovah), at the head of an interjectional clause, has 
almost grown into an interjection (see at Isa. xiii. 4). The 
hero cries bitterly, because he cannot save himself, and must 
succumb to the power of the foe. Sham, adv. loci, has not a 
temporal signification even here, but may be explained from 
the fact that in connection with the day the prophet is thinking 
of the field of battle, on which the hero perishes while fighting. 
In order to depict more fully the terrible character of this day, 
Zephaniah crowds together in vers. 15 and 16 all the words 
supplied by the language to describe the terrors of the judg 
ment. He first of all designates it as yom ebhrdh, the day of 
the overflowing wrath of God (cf. ver. 18) ; then, according to 
the effect which the pouring out of the wrath of God produces 
upon men, as a day of distress and pressure (cf. Job xv. 24), 
of devastation (nNK> and nsi^b combined, as in Job xxxviii. 27, 
xxx. 3), and of the darkest cloudy night, after Joel ii. 2 ; and 
lastly, in ver. 16, indicating still more closely the nature of the 
judgment, as a day of the trumpet and the trumpet-blast, i.e. 
on which the clangour of the war-trumpets will be heard over 
all the fortifications and castles, and the enemy will attack, 
take, and destroy the fortified places amidst the blast of trum 
pets (cf. Amos ii. 2). Pinnoth are the corners and battlements 
of the walls of the fortifications (2 Chron. xxvi. 15). 

In the midst of this tribulation the sinners will perish with 
out counsel or help. Ver. 17. "And 1 make it strait for men, 
and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against 


Jehovah ; and their blood will be poured out like dust, and their 
flesh like dung. Ver. 18. Even their silver, even their gold, will 
not be able to save them on the day of Jehovah s fury, and in 
the fire of His wrath will the whole earth be devoured ; for He 
will make an end, yea a sudden one, to all the inhabitants of the 
earth" *TTKn\ reminds of the threat of Moses in Deut. xxviii. 
52, to which Zephaniah alluded in ver. 16. And in O HIV? l^n 
the allusion to Deut. xxviii. 29 is also unmistakeable. To walk 
like the blind, i.e. to seek a way out of the trouble without 
finding one. This distress God sends, because they have sinned 
against Him, by falling away from Him through idolatry 
and the transgression of His commandments, as already shown 
in vers. 4-12. But the punishment will be terrible. Their 
blood will be poured out like dust. The point of comparison 
is not the quantity, as in Gen. xiii. 16 and others, but the 
worthlessness of dust, as in 2 Kings xiii. 7 and Isa. xlix. 23. 
The blood is thought as little of as the dust which is trodden 
under foot. Lfchum, which occurs again in Job xx. 23, means 
flesh (as in the Arabic), not food. The verb shdphakh, to 
pour out, is also to be taken per zeugma in connection with this 
clause, though without there being any necessity to associate it 
with 2 Sam. xx. 10, and regard Vchum as referring to the 
bowels. For the fact itself, compare 1 Kings xiv. 10 and Jer. 
ix. 21. In order to cut off all hope of deliverance from the 
rich and distinguished sinners, the prophet adds in ver. 18 : 
Even with silver and gold will they not be able to save their 
lives. The enemy will give no heed to this (cf. Isa. xiii. 17 ; 
Jer. iv. 30 ; Ezek. vii. 19) in the day that the Lord will pour 
out His fury upon the ungodly, to destroy the whole earth 
with the fire of His wrathful jealousy (cf. Deut. iv. 24). By 
Jcol-hadrets we might understand the whole of the land of 
Judah, if we looked at what immediately precedes it. But if 
we bear in mind that the threat commenced with judgment 
upon the whole earth (vers. 2, 3), and that it here returns to 
its starting-point, to round off the picture, there can be no 
doubt that the whole earth is intended. The reason assigned 
for this threat in ver. 186 is formed after Isa. x. 23 ; but the 
expression is strengthened by the use of nprnrrfS instead of 
njnmi, the word found in Isaiah. Kdldh : the finishing stroke, 
as in Isa. I.e. (see at Nah. i. 8). ^N, only, equivalent to " not 

CHAP II. 1-3. 137 

otherwise than," i.e. assuredly, npnnj is used as a substantive, 
and is synonymous with behdldh, sudden destruction, in Isa. 
Ixv. 23. The construction with eth accus. as in Nah. i. 8. 

CHAP. ii. 1-ni. 8. 

Zephaniah, having in the previous chapter predicted the 
judgment upon the whole world, and Judah especially, as being 
close at hand, now summons his people to repent, and more 
especially exhorts the righteous to seek the Lord and strive 
after righteousness and humility, that they may be hidden in 
the day of the Lord (vers. 1-3). The reason which he gives 
for this admonition to repentance is twofold : viz. (1) that the 
Philistians, Moabites, and Ammonites will be cut off, and 
Israel will take possession of their inheritances (vers. 4-10), 
that all the gods of the earth will be overthrown, and all the 
islands brought to worship the Lord, since He will smite the 
Cushites, and destroy proud Asshur and Nineveh (vers. 11-15) ; 
and (2) that even blood-stained Jerusalem, with its corrupt 
princes, judges, and prophets, will endure severe punishment. 
Accordingly, the call to repentance is not simply strengthened 
by the renewed threat of judgment upon the heathen and the 
ungodly in Judah, but is rather accounted for by the introduc 
tion of the thought, that by means of the judgment the heathen 
nations are to be brought to acknowledge the name of the 
Lord, and the rescued remnant of Israel to be prepared for the 
reception of the promised salvation. 

Vers. 1-3. Call to conversion. Ver. 1. " Gather yourselves 
together, and gather together, nation that dost not grow pale. 
Ver. 2. Before the decree bring forth (the day passes away like 
chaff), before the burning wrath of Jehovah come upon you, 
before the day of Jehovalis wrath come upon you. Ver. 3. Seek 
Jehovah, all ye humble of the land, who have wrought His right; 
seek righteousness, seek humility, perhaps ye will be hidden in the 
day of Jehovalis wrath." The summons in ver. 1 is addressed 
to the whole of Judah or Israel. The verb qoshesh, possibly 
a denom. from qash, signifies to gather stubble (Ex. v. 7, 12), 


then generally to gather together or collect, e.g. branches of 
wood (Num. xv. 32, 33 ; 1 Kings xvii. 10) ; in the hithpoel, to 
gather one s self together, applied to that spiritual gathering 
which leads to self-examination, and is the first condition of 
conversion. The attempts of Ewald and Hitzig to prove, by 
means of doubtful etymological combinations from the Arabic, 
that the word possesses the meanings, to grow pale, or to 
purify one s self, cannot be sustained. The kal is combined 
with the hiphil for the purpose of strengthening it, as in Hab. 
i. 5 and Isa. xxix. 9. Nikhsdph is the perf. niplial in pause, 
and not a participle, partly because of the & which stands 
before it (see however Ewald, 286, g), and partly on account 
of the omission of the article ; and nikhsdph is to be taken as 
a relative, " which does not turn pale." Kdsaph has the mean 
ing " to long," both in the nip/ial (vid. Gen. xxxi. 30, Ps. 
Ixxxiv. 3) and kal (cf. Ps. xvii. 12, Job xiv. 15). This meaning 
is retained by many here. Thus Jerome renders it, "gens 
non amabilis, i.e. non desiderata a Deo ;" but this is decidedly 
unsuitable. Others render it " not possessing strong desire," 
and appeal to the paraphrase of the Chaldee, " a people not 
wishing to be converted to the law." This is apparently the 
view upon which the Alex, version rests : Wvo<$ aTraiSevrov. 
But although nikhsdph is used to denote the longing of the soul 
for fellowship with God in Ps. Ixxxiv. 3, this idea is not to be 
found in the word itself, but simply in the object connected 
with it. We therefore prefer to follow Grotius, Gesenius, 
Ewald, and others, and take the word in its primary sense of 
turning pale at anything, becoming white with shame (cf. Isa. 
xxix. 22), which is favoured by ch. iii. 15. The reason for the 
appeal is given in ver. 2, viz. the near approach of the judg 
ment. The resolution brings forth, when that which is resolved 
upon is realized (for ydlad in this figurative sense, see Prov. 
xxvii. 1). The figure is explained in the second hemistich. 
The next clause U1 p&3 does not depend upon B"J9?, for in 
that case the verb would stand at the head with Vav cop., but 
it is a parenthesis inserted to strengthen the admonition : the 
day comes like chaff, i.e. approaches with the greatest rapidity, 
like chaff driven by the wind : not " the time passes by like 
chaff " (Hitzig) ; for it cannot be shown that yom was ever 
used for time in this sense. Yom is the day of judgment men- 

CHAP. II. 4-7. 139 

tioned in cli. i. 7, 14, lo ; and "UV here is not to pass by, but to 
approach, to come near, as in Nah. iii. 19. For the figure of 
the chaff, see Isa. xxix. 5. In the second hemistich E"}.?2 is 
strengthened by &6 ; and *1K pn ? the burning of wrath in the 
last clause, is explained by " *)K DV, the day of the revelation 
of the wrath of God. Ver. 3. But because the judgment will 
so speedily burst upon them, all the pious especially anve 
hcfdrets, the quiet in the land, ol Trpaet? (Amos ii. 7; Isa. xi. 4; 
Ps. xxxvii. 11) are to seek the Lord. The humble (^dndvlm) 
are described as those who do Jehovah s right, i.e. who seek 
diligently to fulfil what Jehovah has prescribed in the law as 
right. Accordingly, seeking Jehovah is explained as seeking 
righteousness and humility. The thought is this : they are to 
strive still more zealously after Jehovah s right, viz. righteous 
ness and humility (cf. Deut. xvi. 20 ; Isa. li. 1, 7) ; then will 
they probably be hidden in the day of wrath, i.e. be pardoned 
and saved (cf. Amos v. 15). This admonition is now still 
further enforced from ver. 4 onwards by the announcement of 
the coming of judgment upon all the heathen, that the kingdom, 
of God may attain completion. 

Vers. 47. Destruction of the Philistines. Ver. 4. " For 
Gaza will be forgotten, and Ashkelon become a desert; Ashdod, 
they drive it out in broad day, and Ekron will be ploughed out. 
Ver. 5. Woe upon the inhabitants of the tract by the sea, the, 
nation of the Cretans ! The word of Jehovah upon you, 
Canaan, land of the Philistines ! I destroy thee, so that not an 
inhabitant remains. Ver. 6. And the tract by the sea becomes 
pastures for shepherds 1 caves, and for folds of sheep. Ver. 7. 
And a tract will be for the remnant of the house of Judah ; upon 
them will they feed : in the houses of A shkelon they encamp in the 
evening ; for Jehovah their God will visit them, and turn their 
captivity." The fourth verse, which is closely connected by kl 
(for) with the exhortation to repentance, serves as an introduc 
tion to the threat of judgment commencing with hoi in ver. 5. 
As the mentioning of the names of the four Philistian capitals 
(see at Josh. xiii. 3) is simply an individualizing periphrasis 
for the Philistian territory and people, so the land and people 
of Philistia are mentioned primarily for the purpose of indivi 
dualizing, as being the representatives of the heathen world by 
which Judah was surrounded ; and it is not till afterwards, in 


the further development of the threat, that the enumeration of 
certain near and remote heathen nations is appended, to express 
more clearly the idea of the heathen world as a whole. Of the 
names of the Philistian cities Zephaniah makes use of two, 
Azzdh and Eqron, as a play upon words, to express by means 
of paronomasia the fate awaiting them. * Azzali, Gaza, will be 
azubhdhy forsaken, desolate. Eqron, Ekron, will be ti Aqtr, 
rooted up, torn out of its soil, destroyed. To the other two he 
announces their fate in literal terms, the sh mdmdh threatened 
against Ashkelon corresponding to the azubhdh, and the gdresh 
predicated of Ashdod preparing the way for Ekron s te dqer. 
Dnnsjn ? at noon, i.e. in broad day, might signify, when used as 
an antithesis to night, " with open violence" (Jerome, Kimchi) ; 
but inasmuch as the expulsion of inhabitants is not effected by 
thieves in the night, the time of noon is more probably to be 
understood, as v. Colin and Kosenmiiiler suppose, as denoting 
the time of day at which men generally rest in hot countries 
(2 Sam. iv. 5), in the sense of unexpected, unsuspected expul 
sion ; and this is favoured by Jer. xv. 8, where the devastation 
at noon is described as a sudden invasion. The omission of 
Gath may be explained in the same manner as in Amos i. 6-8, 
from the fact that the parallelism of the clauses only allowed 
the names of four cities to be given ; and this number was 
amply sufficient to individualize the whole, just as Zephaniah, 
when enumerating the heathen nations, restricts the number to 
four, according to the four quarters of the globe: viz. the 
Philistines in the west (vers. 5-7) ; the Moabites and Ammon 
ites comprised in one in the east (vers. 8-10) ; the Cushites in 
the south (vers. 11, 12); and Asshur, with Nineveh, in the 
north (north-east), (vers. 13-15). The woe with which the 
threat is commenced in ver. 5 applies to the whole land and 
people of the Philistines. Chebhel, the measure, then the tract 
of land measured out or apportioned (see at Deut. iii. 4, xxxii. 
9, etc.). The tract of the sea is the tract of land by the Medi 
terranean Sea which was occupied by the Philistines (chebhel 
hay yam = Berets Plishtlin). Zephaniah calls the inhabitants 
goi K e rethlm, nation of the Cretans, from the name of one 
branch of the Philistian people which was settled in the south 
west of Philistia, for the purpose of representing them as a 
people devoted to Mrathj or extermination. The origin of this 

CHAP. II. 4-7. 141 

name, winch is selected both here and in Ezek. xxv. 16 with a 
play upon the appellative signification, is involved in obscurity; 
for, as we have already observed at 1 Sam. xxx. 14, there is no 
valid authority for the derivation which is now current, viz. 
from the island of Crete (see Stark, Gaza, pp. 66 and 99 sqq.). 
D ?^?y. " "^ forms an independent sentence : The word of the 
Lord cometh over you. The nature of that word is described 
in the next sentence : I will destroy thee. The name K e naan 
is used in the more limited sense of Philistia, and is chosen to 
indicate that Philistia is to share the lot of Canaan, and lose its 
inhabitants by extermination. Ver. 6. The tract of land thus 
depopulated is to be turned into "pastures (n e voth, the construct 
state plural of ndveli) of the excavation of shepherds," i.e. where 
shepherds will make excavations or dig themselves huts under 
the ground as a protection from the sun. This is the sim 
plest explanation of the variously interpreted k e roth (as an inf. 
of Mrdhj to dig), and can be grammatically sustained. The 
digging of the shepherds stands for the excavations which they 
make. Bochart (Ilieroz. i. p. 519, ed. Ros.) has already given 
this explanation : " Caulce s. caulis repletus erit effossionis pas- 
torum, i.e. caulce a pastoribus effossce in cryptis sulterraneis ad 
vitandum solis cesium" On the other hand, the derivation 
from the noun kerdh, in the sense of cistern, cannot be sus 
tained ; and there is no proof of it in the fact that Mrdh is 
applied to the digging of wells. Still less is it possible to 

maintain the derivation from ID 11 (Arab.^=.), by which Ewald 

would support the meaning nests for keroth, i.e. " the small 
houses or carts of the shepherds." And Hitzig s alteration of 
the text into J"H3 = E* 1 ")?, pastures, so as to obtain the tautology 
" meadows of the pastures," is perfectly unwarranted. The 
word chebhel is construed in ver. 6 as a feminine ad sensurn, 
with a retrospective allusion to erets P e lishtlm ; whereas in ver. 
7 it is construed, as it is everywhere else, as a masculine. More 
over, the noun chebhel, which occurs in this verse without the 
article, is not the subject ; for, if it were, it would at least have 
had the article. It is rather a predicate, and the subject must 
be supplied from ver. 6 : " The Philistian tract of land by the 
sea will become a tract ot land or possession for the remnant of 
the house of Judah, the portion of the people of God rescued 


from the judgment. Upon them, viz. these pastures, will they 
feed." The plural B^iJ does not stand for the neuter, but is 
occasioned by a retrospective glance at D 1 ^ nia. The subject 
is, those that are left of the house of Judah. They will there 
feed their flocks, and lie down in the huts of Ashkelon. For 
the prophet adds by way of explanation, Jehovah their God 
will visit them. Pdqad, to visit in a good sense, i.e. to take them 
under His care, as is almost always the meaning when it is con 
strued with an accusative of the person. It is only in Ps. lix. 6 
that it is used with an ace. pers. instead of with ?V, in the sense 
of to chastise or punish. rn32> 3^ as in Hos. vi. 11 and Amos 
ix. 14. The keri JV3BJ has arisen from a misinterpretation. On 
the fulfilment, see what follows. 

Vers. 8-10. The judgment upon Moab and Ammon. Ver. 
8. " / have heard the abuse of Moab, and the revilings of the sons 
of Ammon, who have abused my nation, and boasted against its 
boundary. Ver. 9. Therefore, as I live, is the saying of Jehovah 
of hosts, the God of Israel: Yea, Moab shall become like Sodom, 
and the sons of Ammon like Gomorrha, an inheritance of nettles 
and salt-pits, and desert for ever. The remnant of my nation will 
plunder them, the residue of my nation will inherit them. Ver. 10. 
Such to them for their pride, that they have despised and boasted 
against the nation of Jehovah of hosts." The threat now turns 
from the Philistines in the west to the two tribes to the east, 
viz. the Moabites and Ammonites, who were descended from 
Lot, and therefore blood- relations, and who manifested hostility 
to Israel on every possible occasion. Even in the time of Moses, 
the Moabitish king Balak sought to destroy Israel by means of 
Balaam s curses (Num. xxii.), for which the Moabites were 
threatened with extermination (Num. xxiv. 17). In the time 
of the judges they both attempted to oppress Israel (Judg. iii. 
12 sqq. and x. 7 sqq. ; cf. 1 Sam. xi. 1-5 and 2 Sam. x.-xii.), for 
which they were severely punished by Saul and David (1 Sam. 
xiv. 47, and 2 Sam. viii. 2, xii. 30, 31). The reproach of 
Moab and the revilings of the Ammonites, which Jehovah had 
heard, cannot be taken, as Jerome, Rashi, and others suppose, 
as referring to the hostilities of those tribes towards the Judseans 
during the Chaldasan catastrophe ; nor restricted, as v. Colin 
imagines, to the reproaches heaped upon the ten tribes when 
they were carried away by the Assyrians, since nothing is known 

CHAP. II. 8-10. 143 

of any such reproaches. The charge refers to the hostile atti 
tude assumed by both tribes at all times towards the nation of 
God, which they manifested both in word and deed, as often as 
the latter was brought into trouble and distress. Compare Jer. 
xlviii. 26, 27 ; and for giddepJi, to revile or blaspheme by actions, 
Num. xv. 30, Ezek. xx. 27 ; also for the fact itself, the remarks 
on Amos i. 13-ii. 3. ^ ?y v*^!, they did great things against 
their (the Israelites ) border (the suffix in (fbh&ldm, their border, 
refers to e amwf, my people). This great doing consisted in 
their proudly violating the boundary of Israel, and endeavour 
ing to seize upon Israelitish territory (cf. Amos i. 13). Pride 
and haughtiness, or high-minded self-exaltation above Israel as 
the nation of God, is charged against the Moabites and Ammon 
ites by Isaiah and Jeremiah also, as a leading feature in their 
character (cf. Isa. xvi. 6, xxv. 11 ; Jer. xlviii. 29, 30). Moab 
and Ammon are to be utterly exterminated in consequence. The 
threat of punishment is announced in ver. 8 as irrevocable by 
a solemn oath. It shall happen to them as to Sodom and 
Gomorrha. This simile was rendered a very natural one by the 
situation of the two lands in the neighbourhood of the Dead 
Sea. It affirms the utter destruction of the two tribes, as the 
appositional description shows. Their land is to become the 
possession of nettles, i.e. a place where nettles grow. Mimshdq, 
CLTT. Xey., from the root mdsliaq, which was not used, but from 
which mesheq in Gen. xv. 2 is derived. Chdrul: the stinging 
nettle (see at Job xxx. 7), which only flourishes in waste places. 
Mikhreh melach : a place of salt-pits, like the southern coast of 
the Dead Sea, which abounds in rock-salt, and to which there 
is an allusion in the threat of Moses in Deut. xxix. 22. " A 
desert for ever :" the emphasis lies upon ad oldm (for ever) 
here. The people, however, i.e. the Moabites and Ammonites 
themselves, will be taken by the people of Jehovah, and be 
made their possession. The suffixes attached to DH3* and O^nr 
can only refer to the people of Moab and Ammon, because a 
land turned into an eternal desert and salt-steppe would not be 
adapted for a nachaldh (possession) for the people of God. The 
meaning is not, they will be their heirs through the medium of 
plunder, but they will make them into their own property, or 
slaves (cf. Isa. xiv. 2, Ixi. 5). ?ia is ^ with the suffix of the first 
person, only one of the two being written. In ver. 10 the 


threat concludes with a repetition of the statement of the guilt 
which is followed by such a judgment. 

The fulfilment or realization of the threat pronounced upon 
Philistia, Moab, and Ammon, we have not to look for in the 
particular historical occurrences through which these tribes 
were conquered and subjugated by the Chalclseans, and to some 
extent by the Jews after the captivity, until they eventually 
vanished from the stage of history, and their lands became 
desolate, as they still are. These events can only come into 
consideration as preliminary stages of the fulfilment, which 
Zephaniah completely passes by, since he only views the judg 
ment in its ultimate fulfilment. We are precluded, moreover, 
from taking the words as relating to that event by the circum 
stance, that neither Philistia on the one hand, nor Moabites 
and Ammonites on the other, were ever taken permanent pos 
session of by the Jews ; and still less were they ever taken by 
Judah, as the nation of God, for His own property. Judah is 
not to enter into such possession as this till the Lord turns the 
captivity of Judah (ver. 7) ; that is to say, not immediately 
after the return from the Babylonish captivity, but when the 
dispersion of Israel among the Gentiles, which lasts till this 
day, shall come to an end, and Israel, through, its conversion to 
Christ, be reinstated in the privileges of the people of God. It 
follows from this, that the fulfilment is still in the future, and 
that it will be accomplished not literally, but spiritually, in the 
utter destruction of the nations referred to as heathen nations, 
and opponents of the kingdom of God, and in the incorporation 
of those who are converted to the living God at the time of 
the judgment, into the citizenship of the spiritual Israel. Until 
the eventual restoration of Israel, Philistia will remain an un 
inhabited shepherds pasture, and the land of the Moabites and 
Ammonites the possession of nettles, a place of salt-pits and a 
desert ; just as the land of Israel will for the very same time be 
trodden down by the Gentiles. The curse resting upon these 
lands will not be entirely removed till the completion of the 
kingdom of God on earth. This view is proved to be correct 
by the contents of ver. 11, with which the prophet passes to the 
announcement of the judgment upon the nations of the south 
and north. 

Ver. 11. u Fearful is Jehovah over therrij for lie destroy eth 

CHAP. II. 11. 145 

all the gods of the earth ; that all the islands of the nations, every 
one from its place, may worship Him" Whilst On^j; refers to 
what precedes, the next clause in the reason assigned points to 
the announcement of judgment upon the remaining nations of 
the earth in vers. 12 sqq. ; so that ver. 11 cannot be taken 
either as the conclusion of the previous threat, or as the com 
mencement of the following one, but leads from the one to the 
other. Jehovah is terrible when He reveals Himself in the 
majesty of Judge of the world. The suffix appended to DiT^JJ 
does not refer to njrv oy, but to the &n^ in ver. 10, answering 
to the Moabites and Ammonites. Jehovah proves Himself 
terrible to these, because He has resolved to destroy all the gods 
of the earth. Rdzdh, to make lean ; hence to cause to vanish, 
to destroy. He causes the gods to vanish, by destroying the 
nations and kingdoms who relied upon these gods. He thereby 
reveals the nothingness of the gods, and brings the nations to 
acknowledge His sole deity (Mic. v. 12). The fall of the false 
gods impels to the worship of the one true God. li> Vinnfch is 
the consequence, the fruit, and the effect of Jehovah s proving 
Himself terrible to the nations and their gods. D^an , islands 
of the Gentiles, is an epithet taken from the islands and coast- 
lands of Europe, to denote the whole of the heathen world (see 
at Isa. xli. 1). The distributive toiprp? &X refers to haggoyim 
as the principal idea, though not in the sense of " every nation," 
but in that of every individual belonging to the nations. Mim- 
m e qdmoj coming from his place : the meaning is not that the 
nations will worship Jehovah at their own place, in their own 
lands, in contradistinction to Mic. iv. 1, Zech. xiv. 16, and 
other passages, where the nations go on pilgrimage to Mount 
Zion (Hitzig) ; but their going to Jerusalem is implied in the 
min (from), though it is not brought prominently out, as being 
unessential to the thought. With regard to the fulfilment, 
Bucer has correctly observed, that " the worship of Jehovah 
on the part of the heathen is not secured without sanguinary 
wars, that the type may not be taken for the fact itself, and the 
shadow for the body. . . . But the true completion of the whole 
in the kingdom of Christ takes place here in spirit and in faith, 
whilst in the future age it will be consummated in all its reality 
and in full fruition." Theodoret, on the other hand, is too 
one-sided in his view, and thinks only of the conversion of 



the heathen through the preaching of the gospel. u This pro 
phecy," he says, " has received its true fulfilment through the 
holy apostles, and the saints who have followed them ; ... and 
this takes place, not by the law, but by the teaching of the 

Vers. 12-15. After this statement of the aim of the judg 
ments of God, Zephaniah mentions two other powerful heathen 
nations as examples, to prove that the whole of the heathen 
world will succumb to the judgment. Ver. 12. " Ye Cushites 
also, slain of my sword are they. Ver. 13. And let him stretch 
out his hand toward the south, and destroy Asshur ; and make 
Nineveh a barren waste, a dry place, like the desert. Ver. 14. 
And herds lie down in the midst of it, all kinds of beasts in 
crowds : pelicans also and hedgehogs will lodge on their knobs ; 
the voice of the singer in the window ; heaps upon the threshold : 
for their cedar-work hath fie made bare. Ver. 15. This the city, 
the exulting one, the safely dwelling one, which said in her heart, 
I, and no more : how has she become a desolation, a lair of 
beasts ! Every one that passeth by it will hiss, swing his hand. 9 
As a representative of the heathen dwelling in the south, 
Zephaniah does not mention Edom, which bordered upon 
Judah, or the neighbouring land of Egypt, but the remote 
Ethiopia, the furthest kingdom or people in the south that was 
known to the Hebrews. The Ethiopians will be slain of the 
sword of Jehovah, n^n does not take the place of the copula 
between the subject and predicate, any more than awn in Isa. 
xxxvii. 16 and Ezra v. 11 (to which Hitzig appeals in support 
of this usage : see Delitzsch, on the other hand, in his Cornm. 
on Isaiah, I.e.), but is a predicate. The prophecy passes sud 
denly from the form of address (in the second person) adopted 
in the opening clause, to a statement concerning the Cushites 
(in the third person). For similar instances of sudden transi 
tion, see ch. Hi. 18, Zech. iii. 8, Ezek. xxviii. 22. 1 "ain $bn is 
a reminiscence from Isa. Ixvi. 16 : slain by Jehovah with the 
sword. Zephaniah says nothing further concerning this distant 
nation, which had not come into any hostile collision with Judah 
in his day ; and only mentions it to exemplify the thought that 

1 Calvin correctly says : " The prophet commences by driving them, in 
the second person, to the tribunal of God, and then adds in the third per 
son, They will be, etc." 

CHAP. II. 12-15. 147 

all the heathen will come under the judgment. The fulfilment 
commenced with the judgment upon Egypt through the Chal 
deans, as is evident from Ezek. xxx. 4, 9, as compared with 
Joseph us, Ant. x. 11, and continues till the conversion of that 
people to the Lord, the commencement of which is recorded in 
Acts viii. 27-38. The prophet dwells longer upon the heathen 
power of the north, the Assyrian kingdom with its capital 
Nineveh, because Assyria was then the imperial power, which 
was seeking to destroy the kingdom of God in Judah. This 
explains the fact that the prophet expresses the announce 
ment of the destruction of this power in the form of a 
wish, as the use of the contracted forms yet and ydsem 
clearly shows. For it is evident that Ewald is wrong in 
supposing that &\ stands for ^1, or should be so pointed, 
inasmuch as the historical tense, " there He stretched out His 
hand," would be perfectly out of place. "P HDJ (to stretch out 
a hand), as in ch. L 4. *Al tsdphon, over (or against) the 
north. The reference is to Assyria with the capital Nineveh. 
It is true that this kingdom was not to the north, but to the 
north-east, of Judah ; but inasmuch as the Assyrian armies 
invaded Palestine from the north, it is regarded by the 
prophets as situated in the north. On Nineveh itself, see 
at Jonah i. 2 (vol. i. p. 390) ; and on the destruction of this 
city and the fall of the Assyrian empire, at Nah. iii. 19 
(p. 42). Lislimdmdh is strengthened by the apposition tsiyydh 
kammidbdr. Nineveh is not only to become a steppe, in 
which herds feed (Isa. xxvii. 10), but a dry, desolate waste, 
where only desert animals will make their home. Tsiyydh, the 
dry, arid land the barren, sandy desert (cf. Isa. xxxv. 1). 
HDinzt, in the midst of the city which has become a desert, there 
lie flocks, not of sheep and goats (}&&, ver. 6 ; cf. Isa. xiii. 20), 
but ^riJVrrb, literally of all the animals of the (or a) nation. 
The meaning can only be, " all kinds of animals in crowds or in 
a mass." ^ is used here for the mass of animals, just as it is 
in Joel i. 6 for the multitude of locusts, and as Dtf is in Prov. 
xxx. 35, 36 for the ant-people ; and the genitive is to be taken 
as in apposition. Every other explanation is exposed to much 
greater objections and difficulties. For the form Irpn, see at 
Gen. i. 24. Pelicans and hedgehogs will make their homes in 
the remains of the ruined buildings (see at Isa. xxxiv. 11, on 


which passage Zephaniah rests his description), rnhaaa, upon 
the knobs of the pillars left standing when the palaces were 
destroyed (kaphtor ; see at Amos ix. 1). The reference to the 
pelican, a marsh bird, is not opposed to the tsiyydli of ver. 13, 
since Nineveh stood by the side of streams, the waters of which 
formed marshes after the destruction of the city. T 1 .^. ^P 
cannot be rendered " a voice sings," for shorer, to sing, is not 
used for tuning or resounding; but y e s7iorer is to be taken rela 
tively, and as subordinate to $>ip, the voice of him that sings 
will be heard in the window. Jerome gives it correctly : vox 
canentis in fenestra. There is no necessity to think of the cry 
of the owl or hawk in particular, but simply of birds generally, 
which make their singing heard in the windows of the ruins. 
The sketching of the picture of the destruction passes from the 
general appearance of the city to the separate ruins, coming 
down from the lofty knobs of the pillars to the windows, and 
from these to the thresholds of the ruins of the houses. Upon 
the thresholds there is chorebh, devastation (= rubbish), and no 
longer a living being. This is perfectly appropriate, so that 
there is no necessity to give the word an arbitrary interpreta 
tion, or to alter the text, so as to get the meaning a raven or a 
crow. The description closes with the explanatory sentence : 
" for He has laid bare the cedar- work," i.e. has so destroyed 
the palaces and state buildings, that the costly panelling of the 
walls is exposed. Arzdh is a collective, from erez 9 the cedar- 
work, and there is no ground for any such alteration of the text 
as Ewaid and Hitzig suggest, in order to obtain the trivial 
meaning " hews or hacks in pieces," or the cold expression, 
" He destroys, lays bare." In ver. 15 the picture is rounded 
off. " This is the city," i.e. this is what happens to the exulting 
city. "ijt^j exulting, applied to the joyful tumult caused by 
the men a favourite word with Isaiah (cf. Isa. xxii. 2, xxiii. 7, 
xxiv. 8, xxxii. 13). The following predicates from J"l2Kn s n to "liy 
are borrowed from the description of Babel in Isa. xlvii. 8, and 
express the security and self-deification of the mighty imperial 
city. The Yod in aphsl is not paragogical, but a pronoun in 
the first person ; at the same time, ephes is not a preposition, 
" beside me," since in that case the negation " not one " could 
not be omitted, but " the non-existence," so that t| pDN= l J^, I am 
absolutely no further (see at Isa. xlvii. 8). But how has this 

CHAP. III. 1-4. 149 

self-deifying pride been put to shame ! T*?, an expression of 
amazement at the tragical turn in her fate. The city filled 
with the joyful exulting of human beings has become the lair 
of wild beasts, and every one that passes by expresses his mali 
cious delight in its ruin. Shdraq, to hiss, a common manifes 
tation of scorn (cf. Mic. vi. 16 ; Jer. xix. 8). "JJ. 3^n, to swing 
the hand, embodying the thought, " Away with her, she has 
richly deserved her fate." 

Ch. iii. 1-8. To give still greater emphasis to his exhorta 
tion to repentance, the prophet turns to Jerusalem again, that 
he may once more hold up before the hardened sinners the 
abominations of this city, in which Jehovah daily proclaims 
His right, and shows the necessity for the judgment, as the 
only way that is left by which to secure salvation for Israel 
and for the whole world. Ver. 1. " Woe to the refractory and 
polluted one, the oppressive city ! Ver. 2. She has not hearkened 
to the voice; not accepted discipline ; not trusted in Jehovah ; not 
drawn near to her God. Ver. 3. Her princes are roaring lions in 
the midst of her; her judges evening wolves, who spare not for the 
morning. Ver. 4. Her prophets boasters, men of treacheries : 
her priests desecrate that which is holy, do violence to the law" 
The woe applies to the city of Jerusalem. That this is in 
tended in ver. 1 is indisputably evident from the explanation 
which follows in vers. 2-4 of the predicates applied to the 
city addressed in ver. 1. By the position of the indeterminate 
predicates nKnto and ni?5O3 before the subject to which the hoi 
refers, the threat acquires greater emphasis. nx"]i is not 
formed from the hophal of n^n (eVt^az/^?, LXX., Cyr., Cocc.), 
but is the participle kal of K"JB = nio or "no, to straighten one s 
self, and hold one s self against a person, hence to be rebellious 
(see Delitzsch on Job, vol. ii. p. 2, note). r6w3, stained with 
sins and abominations (cf. Isa. lix. 3). Yondh does not mean 
columba, but oppressive (as in Jer. xlvi. 16, 1. 16, and xxv. 38), 
as a participle of ydndh to oppress (cf. Jer. xxii. 3). These 
predicates are explained and vindicated in vers. 2-4, viz. first 
of all n&oto in ver. 2. She gives no heed to the voice, sc. of 
God in the law and in the words of the prophets (compare 
Jer. vii. 28, where nj.T i>ip occurs in the repetition of the first 
hemistich). The same thing is affirmed in the second clause, 
" she accepts no chastisement." These two clauses describe the 


attitude assumed towards the legal contents of the word of God, 
the next two the attitude assumed towards its evangelical con 
tents, i.e. the divine promises. Jerusalem has no faith in these, 
and does not allow them to draw her to her God. The whole 
city is the same, i.-e. the whole of the population of the city. 
Her civil and spiritual rulers are no better. Their conduct 
shows that the city is oppressive and polluted (vers. 3 and 4). 
Compare with this the description of the leaders in Mic. iii. 
The princes are lions, which rush with roaring upon the poor 
and lowly, to tear them in pieces and destroy them (Prov. 
xxviii. 15; Ezek. xix. 2; Nah. ii. 12). The judges resemble 
evening wolves (see at Hab. i. 8), as insatiable as wolves, which 
leave not a single bone till the following morning, of the prey 
they have caught in the evening. The verb gdram is a denom. 
from gerem, to gnaw a bone, piel to crush them (Num. xxiv. 8) ; 
to gnaw a bone for the morning, is the same as to leave it to 
be gnawed in the morning. Gdram has not in itself the mean 
ing to reserve or lay up (Ges. Lex.). The prophets, i.e. those 
who carry on their prophesying without a call from God (see 
Mic. ii. 11, iii. 5, 11), are pocliazlm, vainglorious, boasting, 
from pdchaz, to boil up or boil over, and when applied to 
speaking, to overflow with frivolous words. Men of treacheries, 
bog e doth, a subst. verb, from bdgad, the classical word for faith 
less adultery or apostasy from God. The prophets proved 
themselves to be so by speaking the thoughts of their own 
hearts to the people as revelations from God, and thereby 
strengthening it in its apostasy from the Lord. The priests 
profane that which is holy (qodesh, every holy thing or act), 
and do violence to the law, namely, by treating what is holy 
as profane, and perverting the precepts of the law concerning 
holy and unholy (cf. Ezek. xxii. 26). 

Jerusalem sins in this manner, without observing that 
Jehovah is constantly making known, to it His own righteous 
ness. Ver. 5. " Jehovah is just in the midst of her ; does no 
wrong : morning by morning He sets His justice in the light, not 
failing; but the unjust knoweth no shame. Ver. 6. I have cut 
off nations : their battlements are laid icaste ; I have devastated 
their streets, so that no one else passeth over : their cities are laid 
waste, that there is no man there, not an inhabitant more." Ver. 5 
is attached adversatively to what precedes without a particle, in 

CHAP. III. 5, 6. 151 

this sense : And yet Jehovah is just b qirbdh, i.e. in the midst 
of the city filled with sinners. The words recal to mind the 
description of the divine administration in Deut. xxxii. 4, where 
Jehovah is described as <W ?$ and "itfj. It follows from this 
that tsaddlq is not to be referred to the fact that God does not 
leave the sins of the nation unpunished (Ros.), but to the fact 
that He commits no wrong : so that nhy nj?j fc6 is only a 
negative paraphrase of tsaddlq. His justice, i.e. the righteous 
ness of His conduct, He puts in the light every morning 
(babboqer babboqer, used distributively, as in Ex. xvi. 21, Lev. 
vi. 5, etc.), not by rewarding virtue and punishing wickedness 
(Hitzig, Strauss, after the Chaldee, Jerome, Theodoret, and 
Cyril), according to which mishpdt would signify judgment ; 
but by causing His law and justice to be proclaimed to the 
nation daily " by prophets, whose labour He employs to teach 
the nation His laws, and who exert themselves diligently by 
exhorting and admonishing every day, to call it to bring forth 
better fruit, but all in vain (Ros., Ewald, etc. ; cf. Hos. vi. 5). 
It is at variance with the context to take these words as refer 
ring to the judgments of God. These are first spoken of in 
ver. 6, and the correspondence between these two verses and 
vers. 7 and 8 shows that we must not mix up together ver. 5b 
and ver. 6, or interpret ver. 5b from ver. 6. Just as the 
judgment is threatened there (ver. 8) because the people have 
accepted no correction, and have not allowed themselves to 
be moved to the fear of Jehovah, so also in vers. 5 and 6 
the prophet demonstrates the righteousness of God from His 
double administration : viz. first, from the fact that He causes 
His justice to be proclaimed to the people, that they may 
accept correction ; and secondly, by pointing to the judgments 
upon the nations. Ti$J &O paraphrases the idea of " infallibly;" 
the literal meaning is, that there is no morning in which the 
justice is wanting. Hitzig, Strauss, and others have rendered 
it quite unsuitably, " God does not suffer Himself to be want 
ing," i.e. does not remain absent. But the perverse one, viz. 
the nation sunk in unrighteousness, knows no disgrace, to make 
it ashamed of its misdeeds. In ver. 6 Jehovah is introduced 
as speaking, to set before the nations in the most impressive 
manner the judgments in which He has manifested His 
righteousness. The two hemistichs are formed uniformly, 


each consisting of two clauses, in winch the direct address 
alternates with an indefinite, passive construction : I have 
cut off nations, their battlements have been laid waste, etc. 
Goylm are neither those nations who are threatened with ruin 
in ch. ii. 4-15, nor the Canaanites, who have been extermi 
nated by Israel, but nations generally, which have succumbed 
to the judgments of God, without any more precise definition. 
Pinnoth, the battlements of the fortress-walls and towers (i. 16), 
stand per synecdochen for castles or fortifications. Chutsoth are 
not streets of the city, but roads, and stand synecdochically for 
the flat country. This is required by the correspondence of 
the clauses. For just as the cities answer to the castles, so do 
chutsoth to the nations. Nitsdu, from tsdddh, not in the sense 
of waylaying (Ex. xxi. 13; 1 Sam. xxiv. 12), but in accordance 
with Aramaean usage, to lay waste, answering to ndshammu, 
for which Jeremiah uses nitt e tsu in ch. iv. 26. 

In vers. 7 and 8 the prophet sums up all that he has said 
in vers. 1-6, to close his admonition to repentance with the 
announcement of judgment. Ver. 7. " / said, Only do thou 
fear me, do thou accept correction, so will their dwelling not be 
cut off, according to all that I have appointed concerning them : 
but they most zealously destroyed all their doings. Ver. 8. 
Therefore wait for me, is the saying of Jehovah, for the day 
when I rise up to the prey ; for it is my right to gather nations 
together, to bring kingdoms in crowds, to heap upon them my 
fury, all the burning of my wrath : for in the fire of my zeal will 
the whole earth be devoured." God has not allowed instruction 
and warning to be wanting, to avert the judgment of destruc 
tion from Judah ; but the people have been getting worse 
and worse, so that now He is obliged to make His justice 
acknowledged on earth by means of judgments. WOK, not I 
thought, but I said. This refers to the strenuous exertions of 
God to bring His justice to the light day by day (ver. 5), and 
to admonitions of the prophets in order to bring the people to 
repentance. ^ Vft and ^npn are cohortatives, chosen instead of 
imperatives, to set forth the demand of God by clothing it in 
the form of entreating admonition as an emanation of His love. 
Ldqach musdr as in ver. 2. The words are addressed to the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem personified as the daughter of Zion 
(ver. 11) ; and njljnp, her dwelling, is the city of Jerusalem, 

CHAP. III. 7, 8. 153 

not the temple, which is called the dwelling-place of Jehovah 
indeed, but never the dwelling-place of the nation, or of the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem. The clause which follows, and 
which has been very differently interpreted, rpy WipB iBfc 5>b ? 
can hardly be taken in any other way than that in which 
Ewald has taken it, viz. by rendering kol as the accusative of 
manner : according to all that I have appointed, or as I have 
appointed everything concerning them. For it is evidently 
impracticable to connect it with what precedes as asyndeton, 
because the idea of KtoJ cannot be taken per zeugma from rn.3^, 
and we should necessarily have to supply that idea. For 
Idkkdreth does not in any way fit in with W|?B "iPtf, whether 
we take *?$ 1p3 in the sense of charge, command, appoint (after 
Job xxxiv. 13, xxxvi. 23), or in that of correct, punish. For 
the thought that God will cut off all that He has appointed 
concerning Jerusalem, would be just as untenable as the 
thought that He will exterminate the sins that have been 
punished in Jerusalem. But instead of repenting, the people 
have only shown themselves still more zealous in evil deeds. 
Hishklm, to rise early, then in connection with another verb, 
adverbially : early and zealously, flishchlth, to act corruptly ; 
and with *allldth, to complete corrupt and evil deeds (cf. Ps. 
xiv. 1). Jehovah must therefore interpose with punishment. 
Ver. 8. With the summons chakku li, wait for me, the prophecy 
returns "to its starting-point in vers. 2 arid 3, to bring it to a 
close. The persons addressed are kol anve hadrets, whom 
the prophet has summoned in the introduction to his exhorta 
tion to repentance (ch. ii. 3), to seek the Lord and His 
righteousness. The Lord calls upon them, to wait for Him. 
For the nation as such, or those who act corruptly, cannot be 
addressed, since in that case we should necessarily have to take 
chakku ll as ironical (Hitzig, Maurer) ; and this would be at 
variance with the usage of the language, inasmuch as chikkdh 
lay hovdh is only used for waiting in a believing attitude for 
the Lord and His help (Ps. xxxiii. 20 ; Isa. viii. 17, xxx. 18, 
Ixiv. 3). The ll is still more precisely defined by W Di^, for the 
day of my rising up for prey. "U& does not mean et? paprvpiov 
= 1$ (LXX., Syr.), or for a witness (Hitzig), which does not 
even yield a suitable thought apart from the alteration in the 
pointing, unless we " combine with the witness the accuser and 


judge " (Hitzig), or, to speak more correctly, make the witness 
into a judge; nor does 1J& stand for "IJ^, inperpetuum, as Jerome 
has interpreted it after Jewish commentators, who referred the 
words to the coming of the Messiah, " who as they hope will 
come, and, as they say, will devour the earth with the fire of 
His zeal when the nations are gathered together, and the fury 
of the Lord is poured out upon them." For " the rising up of 
Jehovah for ever " cannot possibly denote the coming of the 
Messiah, or be understood as referring to the resurrection of 
Christ, as Cocceius supposes, even if the judgment upon the 
nations is to be inflicted through the Messiah. 1$ means " for 
prey," that is to say, it is a concise expression for taking prey, 
though not in the sense suggested by Calvin : " Just as lions 
seize, tear in pieces, and devour ; so will I do with you, because 
hitherto I have spared you with too much humanity and pater 
nal care." This neither suits the expression chakkii, ll, according 
to the only meaning of chikkdh that is grammatically established, 
nor the verses which follow (vers. 9, 10), according to which 
the judgment to be inflicted upon the nations by the Lord is 
not an exterminating but a refining judgment, through which 
He will turn to the nations pure lips, to call upon His name. 
The prey for which Jehovah will rise up, can only consist, there 
fore, in the fact, that through the judgment He obtains from 
among the nations those who will confess His name, so that 
the souls from among the nations which desire salvation fall to 
Him as prey (compare Isa. liii. 12 with Hi. 15 and xlix. 7). It 
is true that, in order to gain this victory, it is necessary to exter 
minate by means of the judgment the obstinate and hardened 
sinners. u For my justice (right) is to gather this." Mislipdt 
does not mean judicium, judgment, here ; still less does it 
signify decretum, a meaning which it never has; but justice 
or right, as in ver. 5. My justice, i.e. the justice which I shall 
bring to the light, consists in the fact that I pour my fury 
upon all nations, to exterminate the wicked by judgments, 
and to convert the penitent to myself, and prepare for myself 
worshippers out of all nations. sJBB? is governed by W ^Pfv?. 
God will gather together the nations, to sift and convert them 
by severe judgments. To give the reason for the terrible 
character and universality of the judgment, the thought is 
repeated from ch. i. 18 that " all the earth shall be devoured 

CHAP. III. 9, 10. 155 

in the fire of His zeal." In what follows, the aim and fruit of 
the judgment are given ; and this forms an introduction to the 
announcement of salvation. 


The confessors of His name, whom the Lord will procure 
for Himself among the nations through the medium of the 
judgment, will offer to Him His dispersed nation as a sacrifice 
(vers. 9, 10). And the rescued remnant of Israel, in their 
humility, will trust in the Lord, and under the pastoral fidelity 
of their God have no more foe to fear, but rejoicing in the 
blessed fellowship of the Lord, be highly favoured and glori 
fied (vers. 11-20). 

Ver. 9. " For then will I turn to the nations a pure Up, that 
they may all call upon the name of Jehovah, to serve Him with 
one shoulder. Ver. 10. From beyond the rivers of Cush will 
they bring my worshippers, the daughter of my dispersed ones, as 
a meat-offering to me" By the explanatory kl the promise is 
connected with the threat of judgment. The train of thought 
is this : the believers are to wait for the judgment, for it will 
bring them redemption. The first clause in ver. 9 is explained 
in different ways. Many commentators understand by sdphdh 
bh e rurdh the lip of God, which He will turn to the nations 
through His holy servants. According to this view, Luther 
has adopted the rendering : " Then will I cause the nations to 
be preached to otherwise, with friendly lips, that they may all 
call upon the name of the Lord." But this view, which has 
been defended by Cocceius, Mark, and Hofmann (Schrift- 
beweis, ii. 2, pp. 573-4), would only be admissible if bdrur 
signified clear, evident, a meaning which Hofmann assumes 
as the ground of his explanation : " A clear, easily intelligible, 
unmistakeable language does God turn to the nations, to call 
them all in the name of Jehovah, that they may serve Him as 
one man." But, apart from the inadmissible rendering of 
" DO fcOpj this explanation is proved to be erroneous by the 
fact that bdrur does not mean clear, intelligible ; that even in 


Job xxxiii. 3 it has not this meaning ; but that it simply means 
pure, purified, sinless ; and that sdplidh bh rurdh, the opposite 
of D^naS? NDtp in Isa. vi. 5, cannot be used at all of the lip or 
language of God, but simply of the lip of a man who is defiled 
by sin. Consequently 7N "HSH must be explained according 
to 1 Sam. x. 9, since the circumstance that we have ? ?IBn in 
this passage does not make any material difference in the 
meaning. The construction in both passages is a pregnant 
one. God turns to the nations a pure lip, by purifying their 
sinful lips, i.e. He converts them, that they may be able to call 
upon Him with pure lips. Lip does not stand for language, 
but is mentioned as the organ of speech, by which a man 
expresses the thoughts of his heart, so that purity of the lips 
involves or presupposes the purification of the heart. The lips 
are defiled by the names of the idols whom they have invoked 
(cf. Hos. ii. 19, Ps. xvi. 4). The fruit of the purification is 
this, that henceforth they call upon the name of Jehovah, and 
serve Him. /VI DBO &Op, when used of men, always signifies to 
call solemnly or heartily upon the name of Jehovah. To serve 
sh khem echdd, with one shoulder, is to serve together or with 
unanimity. The metaphor is taken from bearers who carry a 
burden with even shoulders ; cf. Jer. xxxii. 39. As an example 
of the way in which they will serve the Lord, it is stated in 
ver. 10 that they will offer the widely scattered members of the 
Israelitish church as a sacrifice to the Lord. Compare Isa. 
Ixvi. 20, where this thought is applied to the heathen of all 
quarters of the globe ; whereas Zephaniah, while fixing his eye 
upon that passage, has given it more briefly, and taken the 
expression " from beyond the rivers of Cush" from Isa. xviii. 1, 
for the purpose of naming the remotest heathen nations instar 
omnium. The rivers of Cush are the Nile and the Astaboras, 
with their different tributaries. FiS n? S 1IJV : is the accusative 
of the nearest object, and ^njp that of the more remote. 
Athdr does not mean fragrance (Ges., Ewald, Maurer), but 
worshipper, from dthar, to pray, to entreat. The worshippers 
are more precisely defined by bath putsai, the daughter of my 
dispersed ones (puts, part, pass.), i.e. the crowd or congrega 
tion consisting of the dispersed of the Lord, the members of 
the Israelitish congregation of God scattered about in all the 
world. They are presented to the Lord by the converted Gen- 

CHAP. III. 9, 10. 157 

tiles as minchdh, a meat-offering, i.e. according to Isa. Ixvi. 20, 
just as the children of Israel offered a meat-offering. In the 
symbolism of religious worship, the presentation of the meat 
offering shadowed forth diligence in good works as the fruit 
of justification. The meaning is therefore the following: The 
most remote of the heathen nations will prove that they are 
worshippers of Jehovah, by bringing to Him the scattered 
members of His nation, or by converting them to the living 
God. We have here in Old Testament form the thought 
expressed by the Apostle Paul in Rom. xi., namely, that the 
Gentiles have been made partakers of salvation, that they may 
incite to emulation the Israelites who have fallen away from 
the call of divine grace. The words of the prophet treat of 
the blessing which will accrue, from the entrance of the Gen 
tiles into the kingdom of God, to the Israelites who have been 
rejected on account of their guilt, and refer not only to the 
missionary work of Christians among the Jews in the stricter 
sense of the term, but to everything that is done, both directly 
and indirectly, through the rise and spread of Christianity 
among the nations, for the conversion of the Jews to the 
Saviour whom they once despised. Their complete fulfilment, 
however, will only take place after the pleroma of the Gentiles 
has come in, when the Tnwpftxrt?, which in part has happened to 
Israel, shall be removed, and " all Israel" shall be saved (Rom. 
xi. 25, 26). On the other hand, Mark, Hitzig, and others, 
have taken dthdrai bath putsai as the subject, and understand 
it as referring to the heathen who have escaped the judgment 
by flying in all directions to their own homes, for example 
even to Cush, and who having become converted, offer to the 
Lord the gift that is His due. But, apart from the parallel 
passage in Isa. Ixvi. 20, which alone is quite decisive, this view 
is proved to be untenable by lath putsai, daughter of my dis 
persed ones. The thought that Jehovah disperses the heathen, 
either at the judgment or through the judgment, is foreign to 
the whole of the Old Testament, as Hitzig himself appears to 
have felt, when he changed puts, to disperse, into its very 
opposite namely, to come home. The thought, on the other 
hand, that God will disperse His people Israel among all 
nations on account of their sins, and will hereafter gather them 
together again, is a truth expressed even in the song of Moses, 


and one which recurs in all the prophets, so that every hearer 
or reader of oar prophet must think at once of the Israel 
scattered abroad in connection with the expression " my (i.e. 
Jehovah s) dispersed ones." The objection, that Judah is first 
spoken of in ver. 11 (Hitzig), is thereby deprived of all its 
significance, even if this really were the case. But the objec 
tion is also incorrect, since the Judseans have been already 
addressed in ver. 8 in the expression v ten. 

Ver. 11. "In that day wilt tliou not be ashamed of all thy 
doings, wherewith thou hast transgressed against me; for then 
will I remove from the midst of thee those that rejoice in thy 
pride, and thou wilt no more pride thyself upon my holy moun 
tain. Ver. 12. And I leave in the midst of thee a people bowed 
clown and poor, and they trust in the name of Jehovah. Ver. 13. 
The remnant of Israel will not do wrong, and not speak lies, and 
there will not be found in their mouth a tongue of deceit ; for 
they will feed and rest, and no one will terrify them" The 
congregation, being restored to favour, will be cleansed and 
sanctified by the Lord from every sinful thing. The words of 
ver. 11 are addressed to the Israel gathered together from the 
dispersion, as the daughter of Zion (cf. ver. 14). " In that 
day" refers to the time of judgment mentioned before, viz. to 
the day when Jehovah rises up for prey (ver. 8). ^2T) tib, 
thou wilt not need to be ashamed of all thine iniquities ; be 
cause, as the explanatory clauses which follow clearly show, 
they occur no more. This is the meaning of the words, and 
not, as Ewald imagines, that Jerusalem will no more be bowed 
down by the recollection of them. The perfect fiV^S "1BW does 
indeed point to the sins of former times ; not to the recollection 
of them, however, but to the commission of them. For the 
proud and sinners will then be exterminated from the congre 
gation. njfcO ^p is taken from Isa. xiii. 3, where it denotes 
the heroes called by Jehovah, who exult with pride caused by 
the intoxication of victory ; whereas here the reference is to 
the haughty judges, priests, and prophets (vers. 3 and 4), who 
exult in their sinful ways, nroa a feminine form of the infini 
tive, like moshchdh in Ex. xxix. 29, etc. (cf. Ges. 45, 1, b, 
and Ewald, 236, a), fija, to be haughty, as in Isa. iii. 16. 
The prophet mentions pride as the root of all sins. The holy 
mountain is not Canaan as a mountainous country, but the 

CHAP. III. 11-13. 150 

temple mountain, as in the parallel passage, Isa. xi. 9. The 
people left by the Lord, i.e. spared in the judgment, and 
gathered together again out of the dispersion, will be dm and 
dal. The two words are often connected together as synonyms, 
e.g. Isa. xxvi. 6 and Job xxxiv. 28. *W is not to be confounded 
with 1JV, gentle or meek, but signifies bowed down, oppressed 
with the feeling of impotence for what is good, and the know 
ledge that deliverance is due to the compassionate grace of 
God alone ; it is therefore the opposite of proud, which trusts 
in its own strength, and boasts of its own virtue. The leading 
characteristic of those who are bowed down will be trust in the 
Lord, the spiritual stamp of genuine piety. This remnant of 
Israel, the e/cXoytf of the people of God, will neither commit 
injustice, nor practise wickedness and deceit with word and 
tongue, will therefore be a holy nation, answering to its divine 
calling (Ex. xix. 6), just as God does no wrong (ver. 5), and 
the servant of Jehovah has no deceit in his mouth (Isa. liii. 9). 
What is stated here can, of course, not refer to those who 
were brought back from Babylon, as Calvin supposes, taking 
the words comparatively, because there were many hypocrites 
among the exiles, and adding, "because the Lord will thus 
wipe away all stains from His people, that the holiness may 
then appear all the purer." The prophetic announcement 
refers to the time of perfection, which commenced with the 
coming of Christ, and will be completely realized at His return 
to judgment. Strauss very appropriately compares the words 
of John, " Whatsoever is born of God doth not commit sin" 
(1 John iii. 9). Zephaniah explains what he says, by adding 
the assurance of the blessing which is promised in the law as 
the reward of faithful walk in the commandments of the Lord. 
This reason rests upon the assumption that they only rejoice 
in the promised blessing who walk in the commandments of 
God. In this respect the enjoyment of the blessing yields a 
practical proof that wrong and wickedness occur no more. 
The words ^Ti yrv may be explained from the comparison 
of the remnant of Israel to a flock both in Mic. vii. 14 and 
Luke xii. 32 ("little flock ;" for the fact itself, compare Mic. 
iv. 4). This blessing is still further developed in what follows, 
first of all by a reference to the removal of the judgments of 
God (vers. 14-17), and secondly by the promise of God that 


all the obstacles which prevent the enjoyment of the blessing 
are to be cleared away (vers. 18-20). 

Ver. 14. "Exult, daughter Zion; shout, Israel! rejoice 
and exult with all the heart, daughter Jerusalem. Ver. 15. 
Jehovah has removed thy judgments, cleared away thine enemy ; 
the King of Israel, Jehovah, is in the midst of thee: thou 
wilt see evil no more. Ver. 16. In that day will men say to 
Jerusalem, Fear not, Zion ; let not thy hands drop. Ver. 17. 
Jehovah thy God is in the midst of thee, a hero who helps : He 
rejoices over thee in delight, He is silent in His love, exults over 
thee with rejoicing." The daughter Zion, i.e. the reassembled 
remnant of Israel, is to exult and shout at the fulness of the 
salvation prepared for it. The fulness is indicated in the 
heaping up of words for exulting and rejoicing. The greater 
the exultation, the greater must the object be over which men 
exult. lV s ")n, to break out into a cry of joy, is a plural, because 
the Israel addressed is a plurality. The re-establishment of the 
covenant of grace assigns the reason for the exultation. God 
has removed the judgments, and cleared away the enemies, 
who served as the executors of His judgments. Pinndh, piel, 
to put in order (sc. a house), by clearing away what is lying 
about in disorder (Gen. xxiv. 31 ; Lev. xiv. 36), hence to 
sweep away or remove. Oyebh : with indefinite generality, 
every enemy. Now is Jehovah once more in the midst of the 
daughter Zion as King of Israel, whereas, so long as Israel 
was given up to the power of the enemy, He had ceased to be 
its King. Y hovdh is in apposition to melekh Yisrael, which 
is placed first for the sake of emphasis, and not a predicate. 
The predicate is merely "H?"]!?^ (in the midst of thee). The 
accent lies upon the fact that Jehovah is in the midst of His 
congregation as King of Israel (cf. ver. 17). Because this is 
the case, she will no more see, i.e. experience, evil (nxn as in 
Jer. v. 12, Isa. xliv. 16, etc.), and need not therefore any 
longer fear and despair. This is stated in ver. 16 : They will 
say to Jerusalem, Fear not. She will have so little fear, that 
men will be able to call her the fearless one. ft* is a vocative 
of address. It is simpler to assume this than to supply ? from 
the previous clause. The falling of the hands is a sign of 
despair through alarm and anxiety (cf. Isa. xiii. 7). This 
thought is still further explained in ver. 17. Jehovah, the 

CHAP. III. 18-20. 161 

God of Zion, is within her, and is a hero who helps or saves ; 
He lias inward joy in His rescued and blessed people (cf. Isa. 
Ixii. 5, Ixv. 19). tojLlsa Wltf. appears unsuitable, since we 
cannot think of it as indicating silence as to sins that may 
occur (cf. Ps. 1. 21, Isa. xxii. 14), inasmuch as, according to 
ver. 13, the remnant of Israel commits no sin. Ewald and 
Hitzig would therefore read yachadish; and Ewald renders it 
" he will grow young again," which Hitzig rejects as at vari 
ance with the language, because we should then have 
He therefore takes yachadish as synonymous with rril^H 
he will do a new thing (Isa. xliii. 19). But this rendering 
cannot be justified by the usage of the language, and does not 
even yield a thought in harmony with the context. Silence in 
His love is an expression used to denote love deeply felt, which 
is absorbed in its object with thoughtfulness and admiration, 1 
and forms the correlate to rejoicing with exultation, i.e. to the 
loud demonstration of one s love. The two clauses contain 
simply a description, drawn from man s mode of showing love, 
and transferred to God, to set forth the great satisfaction 
which the Lord has in His redeemed people, and are merely a 
poetical rilling up of the expression, " He will rejoice over thee 
with joy." This joy of His love will the Lord extend to all 
who are troubled and pine in misery. 

Ver. 18. " 1 gather together those that mourn for the festive 
meeting; they are of thee ; reproach presses upon them. Ver. 19. 
Behold, at that time I will treat with all thine oppressors, and will 
save the limping, and gather together that ivhich is dispersed, and 
make them a praise and a name in every land of their shame. 
Ver. 20. At that time will I bring you and gather you in time ; 
for I will make you a name and a praise among all the nations 
of the earth, when I turn your captivity before your eyes, saith 
Jehovah" The salvation held up in prospect before the rem 
nant of Israel, which has been refined by the judgments and 
delivered, was at a very remote distance in Zephaniah s time. 

1 " He assumes the person of a mortal man, because, unless He stam 
mers in this manner, He cannot sufficiently show how much He loves us. 
Thy God will therefore be quiet in His love, i.e. this will be the greatest 
delight of thy God, this His chief pleasure, when He shall cherish thee. 
As a man caresses his dearest wife, so will God then quietly repose in thy 
love." CALVIN. 



The first thing that awaited the nation was the judgment, 
through which it was to be dispersed among the heathen, 
according to the testimony of Moses and all the prophets, and 
to be refined in the furnace of affliction. The ten tribes were 
already carried away into exile, and Judah was to share the 
same fate immediately afterwards. In order, therefore, to offer 
to the pious a firm consolation of hope in the period of suffer- 
in": that awaited them, and one on which their faith could rest 

O 7 

in the midst of tribulation, Zephaniah mentions in conclusion 
the gathering together of all who pine in misery at a distance 
from Zion, and who are scattered far and wide, to assure even 
these of their future participation in the promised salvation. 
Every clause of ver. 18 is difficult. V.^ is a niplial participle 
of n^ ? with 1 instead of 1, as in Lam. i. 4, in the sense of to 
mourn, or be troubled. Moed, the time of the feast, when all 
Israel gathered together to rejoice before Jehovah, as in Hos. 
xii. 10, except that the word is not to be restricted to the feast 
of tabernacles, but may be understood as relating to all the 
feasts to which pilgrimages were made. The preposition min 
is taken by many in the sense of far from ; in support of which 
Hitzig appeals to Lam. i. 4. But that passage is rather opposed 
to the application of the meaning referred to, inasmuch as we 
have ^3O there, in which min denotes the cause. And this 
causal signification is to be retained here also, if only because 
of the close connection between ^3 and ^SfiEto?, according to 
which the dependent word can only denote the object or occa 
sion of the nogdh. Those who are troubled for the festal 
meeting are they who mourn because they cannot participate 
in the joy of assembling before the face of the Lord, namely, 
on account of their banishment into foreign lands. Mimmekh 
hdyu, from thee were they, i.e. they have been thine (min 
expressing descent or origin, as in Isa. Iviii. 12, Ezra ii. 59, 
Ps. Ixviii. 27 ; and the whole clause containing the reason for 
their meeting). The explanation given by Anton and Strauss 
is unsuitable and forced : " They will be away from thee, 
namely, separated from thee as mourners." In the last clause 
it is a matter of dispute to what the suffix in n^y refers. The 
explanation of Strauss, that it refers to Zion, is precluded by 
the fact that Zion is itself addressed, both in what precedes 
and what follows, and the thought does not require so rapid a 

CHAP. III. 18-20. 163 

change of persons. It is more natural to refer it to ^, in 
which case the singular suffix is used collectively as a neuter, 
like the feminines njjptfn and nrnan ; and the meaning takes 
this form : a burden upon them, viz. those who mourned for 
the feasts, was the reproach, so. of slavery among the heathen 
(compare ver. 19, at the close). Consequently the clause 
assigns a still further reason for the promise, that they are to be 
gathered together. In ver. 19, riWV with DK signifies neither 
to handle in an evil sense, nor comprimere, conculcare, but to 
treat or negotiate with a person, as in Ezek. xxiii. 25 and xvii. 
17, where rritf, according to a later usage of the language, is a 
preposition, and not a sign of the accusative. The more precise 
definition of the procedure, or of the kind of negotiation, is 
evident from the context. The reference is to a punitive pro 
cedure, or treating in wrath. tfWQ as in Ps. Ix. 14, the heathen 
nations who had subjugated Israel. What follows is taken 
almost verbatim from Mic. iv. 6 ; and the last clause points back 
to Deut. xxvi. 19, to tell the people that the Lord will assuredly 
realize the glorification promised to the people of His pos 
session, and make Israel an object of praise to the whole earth. 
B^S n?T 9?j * n a ^ l an ds, where they have suffered sharne. 
Boshtdm is epexegetical of hd drets, which governs it ; this 
explains the use of the article with the nomen regens (cf. Ewald, 
290, d). In order to paint the glory of the future salvation 
in still more vivid colours before the eyes of the people, the 
Lord ends by repeating this promise once more, with a slight 
change in the words. At that time will I lead you. The 
indefinite N^K might be expounded from the context, by sup 
plying the place to which God will lead them, after such pas 
sages as Isa. xiv. 2, xliii. 5. But it is more natural to think of 
the phrase, to lead out and in, according to Num. xxvii. 17, 
and to take N OK as an abbreviation of N^rn N tfn, picturing the 
pastoral fidelity with which the Lord will guide the redeemed. 
The following words B^nx I| 3j3 point to this : compare Isa. xl. 
11, where the gathering of the lambs is added to the feeding of 
the flock, to give prominence to the faithful care of the shep 
herds for the weak and helpless, ^i? is the infinitive : my 
gathering you, sc. will take place. The choice of this form is 
to be traced, as Hitzig supposes, to the endeavour to secure 
uniformity in the clauses. A fresh reason is then assigned for 


the promise, by a further allusion to the glorification appointed 
for the people of God above all the nations of the earth, 
coupled with the statement that this will take place at the 
turning of their captivity, i.e. when God shall abolish the 
misery of His people, and turn it into salvation (" turn the 
captivity," as in ch. ii. 7), and that " before your eyes ;" i.e., 
not that " ye yourselves shall see the salvation, and not merely 
your children, when they have closed your eyes" (Hitzig) for 
such an antithesis would be foreign to the context but as 
equivalent to " quite obviously, so that the turn in events stands 
out before the eye," analogous to " ye will see eye to eye" 
(Isa. lii. 8 ; cf. Luke ii. 30). This will assuredly take place, 
for Jehovah has spoken it. 

On the fulfilment of this promise, Theodoret observes that 
" these things were bestowed upon those who came from Baby 
lon, and have been offered to all men since then." This no 
doubt indicates certain points of the fulfilment, but the prin 
cipal fulfilment is generalized too much. For although the 
promise retains its perfect validity in the case of the Christian 
church, which is gathered out of both Jews and Gentiles, and will 
receive its final accomplishment in the completion of the king 
dom of heaven founded by Christ on the earth, the allusion to 
the Gentile Christians falls quite into the background in the 
picture of salvation in vers. 1120, and the prophet s eye is 
simply directed towards Israel, and the salvation reserved for 
the rescued e*Xoyr) rov ^la-parfK. But inasmuch as Zephaniah 
not only announces the judgment upon the whole earth, but 
also predicts the conversion of the heathen nations to Jehovah 
the living God (ch. iii. 9, 10), we must not restrict the descrip 
tion of salvation in ch. iii. 11-20 to the people of Israel who 
were lineally descended from Abraham, and to the remnant of 
them ; but must also regard the Gentiles converted to the 
living God through Christ as included among them, and must 
consequently say that the salvation which the Lord will procure 
through the judgment for the daughter Zion or the remnant of 
Israel, commenced with the founding of the Christian church 
by the apostles for Judah and the whole world, and has been 
gradually unfolded more and more through the spread of the 
name of the Lord and His worship among all nations, and will 
be eventually and fully realized at the second coming of Christ 

CHAP. III. 18-20. 165 

to the last judgment, and to perfect His kingdom in the estab 
lishment of the New Jerusalem (Rev. xxi. and xxii.). It is 
true that both the judgment and the salvation of the remnant 
of Israel seeking Jehovah and His righteousness commenced 
even before Christ, with the giving up of Judah, together with 
all the tribes and kingdoms falling within the horizon of Old 
Testament prophecy, into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar and the 
imperial rulers who followed him ; but so far as the question of 
the fulfilment of our prophecy is concerned, these events come 
into consideration merely as preliminary stages of and prepara 
tions for the times of decision, which commenced with Christ 
not only for the Jews, but for all nations. 

H A G G A I. 


1ERSON or THE PROPHET. We have no further 
information concerning Haggai (Chaggai, i.e. the 
festal one, formed from cJidg, with the adjective 
termination ai : cf. Ewald, 164, c, and 273, e; 
LXX. ^77ato?, Vulg. AggcBus) than that obtained from the 
headings to his prophetic addresses (ch. i. 1, ii. 1, 10, 20), and 
confirmed by Ezra v. 1, namely, that he commenced his pro 
phesying in the second year of Darius Hystaspes, and by means 
of his prophecies caused the work of building the temple, which 
had been suspended in consequence of the machinations of the 
Cutliceans (Samaritans), to be resumed, and in common with 
the prophet Zechariah, who commenced his labours two months 
later, ensured the continuance of that work. The extra-biblical 
accounts of the circumstances of his life have no evidence at 
all to support them. This is the case, for example, with the 
statement of Ps. Dorotheus and Ps. Epiphanius, that Haggai 
came from Babylon to Jerusalem when quite a young man, 
and that he survived the rebuilding of the temple, and was 
buried in honour near the burial-place of the priests, to say 
nothing of the strange opinion which was tolerably general in the 
times of Jerome and Cyril of Alexandria, and which arose from a 
misinterpretation of the word "n^pD in ch. i. 13, viz. that Haggai 
was an angel who appeared in human shape. And Ewald s 
conjecture, that Haggai had seen the temple of Solomon, can 
not be inferred from ch. ii. 3. In that case he would have 
been about eighty years old when he commenced his labours as 
a prophet. 

2. THE BOOK OF HAGGAI contains four words of God 
uttered by the prophet in the second year of the reign of Darius 


108 HAGGAI. 

Hystaspes, which had for their object the furtherance of the 
building of the temple, and in all probability simply reproduce 
the leading thought of His oral addresses, In the first pro 
phecy, delivered on the new moon s day of the sixth month of 
the year named (ch. i.), he condemns the indifference of the 
people concerning the building of the temple, and represents 
the failure of the crops and the curse under which the people 
were suffering as a divine punishment for the neglect of that 
work. In consequence of this admonition the building was 
resumed. The three following prophecies in ch. ii. encourage 
the people to continue the work they have begun. The 
second, which was delivered only twenty-four days after the 
first (ch. ii. 1-9), consoles those who are desponding on account 
of the poverty of the new building, by promising that the Lord 
will keep the covenant promise made to His people when they 
came out of Egypt, and by shaking the whole world and all 
the heathen, will give the new temple even greater glory than 
that of Solomon had. The last two words of God were deli 
vered to the people on the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month 
of the same year. They predict in the first place the cessation 
of the previous curse, and the return of the blessings of nature 
promised to the church which had remained faithful to the 
covenant (vers. 10-19) ; and in the second place, the preserva 
tion of the throne of Israel, represented in the person and 
attitude of Zerubbabel, among the tempests which will burst 
upon the kingdoms of this world, and destroy their might and 
durability (vers. 20-23). 

In order to understand clearly the meaning of these pro 
phecies and promises in relation to the development of the Old 
Testament kingdom of God, we must look at the historical cir 
cumstances under which Haggai was called by God to labour 
as a prophet. Haggai was the first prophet who rose up after 
the exile in the midst of the congregation of Judah that had 
returned from Babylon, to proclaim to it the will and saving 
purposes of its God. Between him and Zephaniah there lay 
the seventy years exile, and the labours of the great prophets 
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. What all the earlier prophets 
had foretold, and Jeremiah especially, in a comprehensive and 
most impressive manner namely, that the Lord would thrust 
out Judah also among the heathen, on account of its obstinate 


idolatry and resistance to the commandments of God, and would 
cause it to be enslaved by them had been fulfilled. As the 
ten tribes had been carried away by the Assyrians long before, 
so had the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem been also 
carried into exile by the Chaldasans through Nebuchadnezzar. 
The Lord had now banished all His people from before His 
face, and sent them away among the heathen, but He had not 
cast them off entirely and for ever. He had indeed suspended 
His covenant with Israel, but He had not entirely abolished it. 
Even to the people pining in exile He had not only renewed 
the ancient promises through the prophet Ezekiel, after the 
dissolution of the kingdom of Judah and the destruction of 
Jerusalem and the temple, viz. that He would restore the 
nation to favour again, when it should come to the knowledge 
of its grievous sins, and turn to Him with penitence, and that 
He would redeem it from exile, lead it back to its own land, 
and exalt it to great glory ; but He had also caused the might 
and duration of the kingdoms of the world to be proclaimed 
through Daniel, and their eventual overthrow through the 
kingdom of God from heaven. The seventy years, during 
which the land of Judah was to lie waste and the nation to 
serve Babel (Jer. xxv. 11), had now passed away. The Baby 
lonian empire had fallen, and Koresh (Cyrus), the founder of 
the Persian empire, had given the Jews permission to return 
to their own land in the first year of his sole dominion, and 
had commanded that the temple of Jehovah in Jerusalem 
should be rebuilt. In consequence of this, a considerable 
number of the captives of Judah and Benjamin, viz. 42,360 
freemen, with 7337 men-servants and maid-servants, led by 
Zerubbabel prince of Judah, a descendant of David, who was 
appointed governor in Judah, and by the high priest Joshua, 
had returned to their homes (Ezra i. and ii.). Having arrived 
there, they had restored Jehovah s altar of burnt-offering in 
the seventh month of the year, and re-established the sacrificial 
worship prescribed in the law. They had also so far made 
preparations for the rebuilding of the temple, that even in the 
second month of the second year after their return they 
were able solemnly to lay the foundation for the new temple 
(Ezra iii.). 

They had hardly commenced building, however, when the 

170 HAGGAI. 

Samaritans came with a request that they might take part in 
the building of the temple, because they also sought the God 
of the Jews. Now, when the chiefs of Judah refused to grant 
them this request, as being a mixed people, composed of the 
heathen colonists who had been transplanted into the kingdom 
of the ten tribes and a few Israelites who were left behind in 
the land, whilst their worship of God was greatly distorted by 
heathenism (see at 2 Kings xvii. 24-41), they endeavoured to 
disturb the work already begun, and to prevent its continuation 
and completion. They made the hands of the people of Judah 
idle, as we read in Ezra iv. 4, 5, frightening them while build 
ing, and hiring counsellors against them to frustrate their 
design, the whole of the still remaining time of Cyrus, and 
even till the reign of king Darius of Persia, so that the work at 
the house of God at Jerusalem ceased and was suspended till 
the second year of the reign of this king (Ezra iv. 24). But 
even if these machinations of the adversaries of Judah fur 
nished the outward occasion for the interruption and suspension 
of the work they had begun, we must not seek for the sole and 
sufficient reason for the breaking off of the work in these alone. 
Nothing is recorded of any revocation of the edict issued by 
Cyrus during his reign ; and even if the letter to Artachsata 
given in Ezra iv. 7 sqq. referred, as is generally assumed, to 
the building of the temple, and the reply of this king, which 
prohibited the continuation of the building, was issued by 
Pseudo-Smerdis, this only took place under the second suc 
cessor of Cyrus, twelve years after the laying of the founda 
tion-stone of the temple. What the enemies of Judah had 
previously undertaken and accomplished consisted simply in 
the fact that they made the hands of the Jewish people idle, 
frightening them while building, and frustrating their enter 
prise by hiring counsellors. 1 The latter they would hardly 
have succeeded in, if the Jews themselves had taken real 
1 So much is evident from the account in the book of Ezra, concerning 
the machinations of the Samaritans to frustrate the building. The more 
precise determination of what they did namely, whether they obtained a 
command from the king to suspend the building depends upon the explana 
tion given to the section in Ezra (iv. 6-23), into which we need not enter 
more minutely till we come to our exposition of the book itself, inasmuch 
as it is not important to decide this question in order to understand our 


pleasure in the continuation of the work, and had had firm 
confidence in the assistance of God. These were wanting: 
Even at the ceremony of laying the foundation-stone, many of 
the old priests, Levites and heads of tribes, who had seen the 
first temple, spoiled the people s pleasure by loud weeping. 
This weeping can hardly be explained merely from the recol 
lection of the trials and sufferings of the last fifty years, 
which came involuntarily into their mind at that moment 
of solemn rejoicing, but was no doubt occasioned chiefly 
by the sight of the miserable circumstances under which the 
congregation took this work in hand, and in which they could 
not help saying to themselves, that the execution of the work 
would not correspond to the hopes which might have been 
cherished from the restoration of the house of God. But 
such thoughts as these would of necessity greatly detract from 
their pleasure in building, and as soon as outward difficulties 
were also placed in their way, would supply food to the doubt 
whether the time for carrying on this work had really come. 
Thus the zeal for building the house of God so cooled down, 
that they gave it up altogether, and simply began to provide 
for their own necessities, and to establish themselves comfort 
ably in the land of their fathers, so far as the circumstances 
permitted (Hag. i. 4). This becomes perfectly intelligible, if 
we add that, judging from the natural character of sinful men, 
there were no doubt a considerable number of men among 
those who had returned, who had been actuated to return less 
by living faith in the Lord and His word, than by earthly 
hopes of prosperity and comfort in the land of their fathers. 
As soon as they found themselves disappointed in their expec 
tations, they became idle and indifferent with regard to the 
house of the Lord. And the addresses of our prophet show 
clearly enough, that one principal reason for the suspension of 
the work is to be sought for in the lukewarmness and indiffer 
ence of the people. 

The contents and object of these addresses, viz. the cir 
cumstance that they are chiefly occupied with the command to 
build the temple, and attach great promises to the performance 
of this work, can only be explained in part, however, from the 
fact that the fidelity of the nation towards its God showed 
itself in zeal for the house of God. The deeper and truer 

172 HAGGAI. 

explanation is to be found in the significance which the temple 
possessed in relation to the kingdom of God in its Old Testa 
ment form. The covenant of grace, made by the God of 
heaven and earth with the nation of Israel which He had 
chosen for His own peculiar possession, required, as a visible 
pledge of the real fellowship into which Jehovah had entered 
with Israel, a place where this fellowship could be sustained. 
For this reason, directly after the conclusion of the covenant 
at Sinai, God commanded the tabernacle to be erected, for a 
sanctuary in which, as covenant God, He would dwell among 
His people in a visible symbol ; and, as the sign of the fulfil 
ment of this divine promise, at the dedication of the tabernacle, 
and also of the temple of Solomon which took its place, the 
glory of Jehovah in the form of a cloud filled the sanctuary 
that had been built for His name. Hence the continuance of 
the ancient covenant, or of the kingdom of God in Israel, was 
bound up with the temple. When this was destroyed the 
covenant was broken, and the continuance of the kingdom of 
God suspended. If, therefore, the covenant which had been 
dissolved during the exile was to be renewed, if the kingdom 
of God was to be re-established in its Old Testament form, 
the rebuilding of the temple was the first and most important 
prerequisite for this ; and the people were bound to pursue the 
work of building it with all possible zeal, that they might 
thereby practically attest their desire and readiness to resume 
the covenant fellowship which had been interrupted for a time. 
After the people had thus fulfilled the duty that devolved upon 
them, they might expect from the faithfulness of the Lord, 
their covenant God, that He would also restore the former 
gracious connection in all its completeness, and fulfil all His 
covenant promises. It is in this that the significance of 
Haggais prophecies consists, so far as they have regard to the 
furthering of the work of building the temple. And this 
object was attained. The building of the temple was resumed 
in consequence of his admonition, and at the end of four years 
and a half namely, in the sixth year of the reign of Darius 
the work was finished (Ezra vi. 14, 15). But at its dedication 
the new temple was not filled with the cloud of the glory of 
Jehovah ; yea, the most essential feature in the covenant made 
at Sinai was wanting, viz. the ark with the testimony, i.e. the 


tables of the law, which no man could restore, inasmuch as the 
ten words of the covenant had been written upon the tables by 
God Himself. The old covenant was not to be restored in its 
Sinaitic form ; but according to the promise made through 
Jeremiah (xxxi. 31 sqq.), the Lord would make a new covenant 
with the house of Israel and Judah ; He would put His law 
into their heart, and write it in their minds. The people, 
however, were not sufficiently prepared for this. Therefore 
those who had returned from Babylon were still to continue 
under the rule of the heathen powers of the world, until the 
time had arrived for the conclusion of the new covenant, when 
the Lord would come to His temple, and the angel of the 
covenant would fill it with the glory of the heathen. Thus 
the period of Zerubbabel s temple was a time of waiting for 
Judah, and a period of preparation for the coming of the pro 
mised Saviour. To give the people a pledge during that period 
of the certainty of the fulfilment of the covenant grace of God, 
was the object of Haggai s two promises of salvation. 

So far as the form is concerned, the prophecies of Haggai 
have not the poetical swing of the earlier prophetical diction. 
They are written in the simplest rhetorical style, and never 
rise very far above the level of good prose, although vivacity 
is given to the delivery by the frequent use of interrogatives 
(cf. ch. i. 4, 9, ii. 3, 12, 13, 19), and it by no means infre 
quently opens into full oratorical rhythm (cf. ch. i. 6, 9-11, 
ii. 6-8, 22). One characteristic of Haggai s mode of descrip 
tion is the peculiar habit to which Nsegelsbach has called 
attention namely, of uttering the main thought with concise 
and nervous brevity, after a long and verbose introduction 
(cf. ch. i. 2b, i. 125, ii. 55, ii. 195) ; so that it might be said 
that he is accustomed " to conceal a small and most intensive 
kernel under a broad and thick shell." His language is toler 
ably free from Chaldseisms. 

For the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einlei- 
tung, p. 308 ; to which add Aug. Koehler s die Weissagungen 
Haggai s erkldrt, Erlangen 1860. 

174 HAGGAI. 



CHAP. i. 

Haggai, having reproved the people for their indifference 
with regard to the rebuilding of the temple, and pointed to 
the failure of their crops for want of rain as a divine chastise 
ment consequent upon it, admonishes Zerubbabel the governor, 
Joshua the high priest, and the people generally, to resume 
the building of the temple (vers. 2-11), and then describes the 
way in which his appeal was responded to (vers. 12-15). 

In ver. 1 this address is introduced by a statement of the 
time at which it had been delivered, and the persons to whom 
it was addressed. The word of Jehovah was uttered through 
the prophet in the second year of king Darius, on the first 
day of the sixth month. ETTJ! answers to the name Ddryavush 
or Ddrayavush of the arrow-headed inscriptions ; it is derived 
from the Zendic dar, Sanskrit dhri, contracted into dhar, and 
is correctly explained by Herodotus (vi. 98) as signifying 
epfelys = coercitor. It is written in Greek Aapeios (Darius). 
The king referred to is the king of Persia (Ezra iv. 5, 24), 
the first of that name, i.e. Darius Hystaspes, who reigned from 
521 to 486 B.C. That this is the king meant, and not Darius 
NotJiuSj is evident from the fact that Zerubbabel the Jewish 
prince, and Joshua the high priest, who had led back the 
exiles from Babylon to Juclsea in the reign of Cyrus, in the 
year 536 (Ezra i. 8, ii. 2), might very well be still at the 
head of the returned people in the second year of the reign 
of Darius Hystaspes, i.e. in the year 520, but could not have 
been still living in the reign of Darius Nothus, who did not 
ascend the throne till 113 years after the close of the captivity. 
Moreover, in ch. ii. 3, Haggai presupposes that many of his 
contemporaries had seen the temple of Solomon. Now, as 
that temple had been destroyed in the year 588 or 587, there 
might very well be old men still living under Darius Hystaspes, 
in the year 520, who had seen that temple in their early days ; 
but that could not be the case under Darius Nothus, who 

CHAP. I. 1. 175 

ascended the Persian throne in the year 423. The prophet 
addresses his word to the temporal and spiritual heads of the 
nation, to the governor Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua. 
snt is written in many codd. ?"?, and is either formed 
from 733 *nt, in Babyloniam dispersus, or as the child, if born 
before the dispersion in Babylonia, would not have received 
this name prolep tic ally, probably more correctly from 722 P nt, 
in Babylonia satus s. genitus, in which case the J7 was assimi 
lated to the 3 when the two words were joined into one, and 
3 received a dagesh. Zerubbabel (LXX. Zopo/3d/3e\) was 
the son of Shealtiel. i^riSs^ is written in the same way in 
ch. ii. 23, 1 Chron. iii. 17, Ezra iii. 2, and Neh. xii. 1 ; whereas 
in vers. 12 and 14, and ch. ii. 2, it is contracted into ?&*&&. 
She alii el, i.e. the prayer of God, or one asked of God in 
prayer, was, according to 1 Chron. iii. 17, if we take assir as 
an appellative, a son of Jeconiah (Jehoiachin), or, if we take 
\isslr as a proper name, a son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, 
and therefore a grandson of Jehoiachin. But, according to 
1 Chron. iii. 19, Zerubbabel was a son of Pedaiah, a brother 
of Shealtiel. And lastly, according to the genealogy in Luke 
iii. 27, Shealtiel was not a son of either Assir or Jeconiah, but 
of Neri, a descendant of David through his son Nathan. These 
three divergent accounts, according to which Zerubbabel was 
(1) a son of Shealtiel, (2) a son of Pedaiah, the brother of 
Shealtiel, and a grandson of Assir or Jeconiah, (3) a son of 
Shealtiel and grandson of Neri, may be brought into harmony 
by means of the following combinations, if we bear in mind 
the prophecy of Jeremiah (Jer. xxii. 30), that Jeconiah would 
be childless, and not be blessed with having one of his seed 
sitting upon the throne of David and ruling over Judah. 
Since this prophecy of Jeremiah was fulfilled, according to 
the genealogical table given by Luke, inasmuch as ShealtieTs 
father there is not Assir or Jeconiah, a descendant of David 
in the line of Solomon, but Neri, a descendant of David s son 
Nathan, it follows that neither of the sons of Jeconiah men 
tioned in 1 Chron. iii. 17, 18 (Zedekiah and Assir) had a son, 
but that the latter had only a daughter, who married a man 
of the family of her father s tribe, according to the law of 
the heiresses, Num. xxvii. 8, xxxvi. 8, 9 namely Neri, who 
belonged to the tribe of Judah and family of David. From 

176 HAG GAT. 

this marriage sprang Shealtiel, Malkiram, Pedaiah, and others. 
The eldest of these took possession of the property of hia 
maternal grandfather, and was regarded in law as his (legiti 
mate) son. Hence he is described in 1 Chron. iii. 17 as the 
son of Assir the son of Jeconiah, whereas in Luke he is 
described, according to his lineal descent, as the son of Neri. 
But Shealtiel also appears to have died without posterity, and 
simply to have left a widow, which necessitated a Levirate 
marriage on the part of one of the brothers (Deut. xxv. 5-10 ; 
Matt. xxii. 24-28). ShealtieTs second brother Pedaiah appears 
to have performed his duty, and to have begotten Zerubbabel 
and Shirnei by this sister-in-law (1 Chron. iii. 19), the former 
of whom, Zerubbabel, was entered in the family register of 
the deceased uncle Shealtiel, passing as his (lawful) son and 
heir, and continuing his family. Koehler holds essentially the 
same views (see his comm. on ch. ii. 23). Zerubbabel was 
pechdh, a Persian governor. The real meaning of this foreign 
word is still a disputed point. 1 In addition to his Hebrew 
name, Zerubbabel also bore the Chaldsean name Sheshbazzar, 
as an officer of the Persian king, as we may see by compar 
ing Ezra i. 8, 11, v. 14, 16, with Ezra ii. 2, iii. 2, 8, and 
v. 2. For the prince of Judah, Sheshbazzar, to whom Koresh 
directed the temple vessels brought from Jerusalem by Nebu 
chadnezzar to be delivered, and who brought them back from 

/ O 

Babylon to Jerusalem (Ezra i. 8, 11, v. 14), and who laid the 
foundation for the house of God, according to ch. v. 16, is 

1 Prof. Spiegel (in Koehler on Mai. i. 8) objects to the combination 
attempted by Benfey, and transferred to the more modern lexicons, viz. 
with the Sanscrit paksha, a companion or friend (see at 1 Kings x. 15), 
on the ground that this word (1) signifies wing in the Vedas, and only 
received the meaning side, party, appendix, at a later period, and (2) does 
not occur in the Eranian languages, from which it must necessarily have 
been derived. Hence Spiegel proposes to connect it with pdvan (from the 
root pa, to defend or preserve : compare F. Justi, Hdb. der Zendsprache , 
p. 187), which occurs in Sanscrit and Old Persian (cf. Khsatrapdvan = 
Satrap) at the end of composite words, and in the Avesta as an inde 
pendent word, in the contracted form pavan. "It is quite possible that 
the dialectic form pagvan (cf. the plural pacliavoth in Neh. ii. 7, 9) may 
have developed itself from this, like dregvat from drevat, and hvogva from 
hvova." Hence pechdh would signify a keeper of the government, or of 
the kingdom (Khsatra). 

CHAP. I. 2. 177 

called Zerubbabel in Ezra ii. 2, as the leader of the procession, 
who not only laid the foundation for the temple, along with 
Joshua the high priest, according to Ezra iii. 2, 8, but also 
resumed the building of the temple, which had been suspended, 
in connection with the same Joshua during the reign of Darius. 
The high priest Joshua ( Y e hoshua, in Ezra iii. 2, 8, iv. 3, con 
tracted into Yeshua) was a son of Jozadak, who had been 
carried away by the Chaldseans to Babylon (1 Chron. v. 41), 
and a grandson of the high priest Seraiah, whom Nebuchad 
nezzar had caused to be executed at Biblah in the year 588, 
after the conquest of Jerusalem (2 Kings xxv. 18-21 ; Jer. 
Iii. 24-27). The time given, " in the sixth month," refers to 
the ordinary reckoning of the Jewish year (compare Zech. i. 7 
and vii. 1, and Neh. i. 1 with Neh. ii. 1, where the name of 
the month is given as well as the number). The first day, 
therefore, was the new moon s day, which was kept as a feast- 
day not only by a special festal sacrifice (Num. xxviii. 11 sqq.), 
but also by the holding of a religious meeting at the sanctuary 
(compare Isa. i. 13 and the remarks on 2 Kings iv. 23). On 
this day Haggai might expect some susceptibility on the part 
of the people for his admonition, inasmuch as on such a day 
they must have been painfully and doubly conscious that the 
temple of Jehovah was still lying in ruins (Hengstenberg, 

Vers. 2-6. The prophet begins by charging the people with 
their unconcern about building the house of God. Ver. 2. " Thus 
saith Jehovah of hosts : This people saith, It is not time to come, 
the time for the house of Jehovah to be built." njn Dyn, { 8 t e 
populus, not my people, or Jehovah s people, but hazzeli (this) 
in a contemptuous sense. Of the two clauses, (a) " It is not 
time to come," and (b) " The time of the house of Jehovah," 
the latter gives the more precise definition of the former, the 
xa (to come) being explained as meaning the time to build the 
house of Jehovah. The meaning is simply this : the time has 
not yet arrived to come and build the house of Jehovah ; for &6 
in this connection signifies " not yet," as in Gen. ii. 5, Job 
xxii. 16. A distinction is drawn between coming to the house 
of Jehovah and building the house, as in ver. 14. There is no 
ground, therefore, for altering the text, as Hitzig proposes, 
inasmuch as the defective mode of writing the infinitive K3 is 
VOL. ii. M 

178 HAGGAI. 

by no means rare (compare, for example, Ex. ii. 18, Lev. xiv. 
48, Num. xxxii. 9, 1 Kings xiv. 28, Isa. xx. 1) ; and there is 
no foundation whatever for the absurd rendering of the words 
of the text, " It is not the time of the having arrived of the 
time of the house," etc. (Hitzig). 

The word of Jehovah is opposed in ver. 4 to this speech of 
the people ; and in order to give greater prominence to the 
antithesis, the introductory formula, " The word of Jehovah came 
by Haggai the prophet thus" is repeated in ver. 3. In order to 
appeal to the conscience of the people, God meets them with 
the question in ver. 4 : " Is it time for you yourselves to live in 
your houses wainscoted, whilst this house lies waste?" The n 
before ny is not the article, but n interr. Bri^ is added to 
strengthen the pronoun (cf. Ges. 121, 3). S e phunlm without 
the article is connected with the noun, in the form of an appo 
sition : in your houses, they being wainscoted, i.e. with the 
inside walls covered or inlaid with costly wood-work. Such 
were the houses of the rich and of the more distinguished men 
(cf. Jer. xxii. 14 ; 1 Kings vii. 7). Living in such houses was 
therefore a sign of luxury and comfort. W JVani is a circum 
stantial clause, which we should express by " whilst this house," 
etc. With this question the prophet cuts off all excuse, on the 
ground that the circumstances of the times, and the oppression 
under which they suffered, did not permit of the rebuilding of 
the temple. If they themselves lived comfortably in wain 
scoted houses, their civil and political condition could not be so 
oppressive, that they could find in that a sufficient excuse for 
neglecting to build the temple. Even if the building of the 
temple had been prohibited by an edict of Pseudo-Smerdes, as 
many commentators infer from Ezra iv. 8-24, the reign of this 
usurper only lasted a few months ; and with his overthrow, and 
the ascent of the throne by Darius Hystaspes, a change had 
taken place in the principles of government, which might have 
induced the heads of Judah, if the building of the house of God 
had rested upon their hearts as it did upon the heart of king 
David (2 Sam. vii. 2 ; Ps. cxxxii. 2-5), to take steps under the 
new king to secure the revocation of this edict, and the renewal 
of the command issued by Cyrus. 

After rebutting the untenable grounds of excuse, Haggai 
calls attention in vers. 5, 6 to the curse with which God has 

CHAP. I. 5, 6. 

punished, and is still punishing, the neglect of His house. 
Ver. 5. " And now, thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Set your heart 
upon your ways. Ver. 6. Ye have sowed much, and brought 
in little : ye eat, and not for satisfaction ; drink, and not to be 
filled with drink : ye clothe yourselves, and it does not serve for 
warming ; and the labourer for wages works for wages into a 
purse pierced with holes." D 9?- ^fy a favourite formula with 
Haggai (cf. ver. 7 and ch. ii. 15, 18). To set the heart upon 
one s ways, i.e. to consider one s conduct, and lay it to heart. 
The ways are the conduct, with its results. J : . H. Michaelis 
has given it correctly, " To your designs and actions, and their 
consequences." In their ways, hitherto, they have reaped no 
blessing : they have sowed much, but brought only a little into 
their barns. N?n, inf. abs., to bring in what has been reaped, 
or bring it home. What is here stated must not be restricted 
to the last two harvests which they had had under the reign of 
Darius, as Koehler supposes, but applies, according to ch. ii. 
15-17, to the harvests of many years, which had turned out 
very badly. The inf. abs., which is used in the place of the 
finite verb and determined by it, is continued in the clauses 
which follow, ^3, etc. The meaning of these clauses is, not that 
the small harvest was not sufficient to feed and clothe the people 
thoroughly, so that they had to " cut their coat according to 
their cloth, * as Maurer and Hitzig suppose, but that even in 
their use of the little that had been reaped, the blessing of God 
was wanting, as is not only evident from the words themselves, 
but placed beyond the possibility of doubt by ver. 9. 1 What 
they ate and drank did not suffice to satisfy them ; the clothes 
which they procured yielded no warmth ; and the wages which 
the day-labourer earned vanished just as rapidly as if it had 
been placed in a bag full of holes (cf. Lev. xxvi. 26 ; Hos. iv. 
10; Mic. vi. 14). & after DJ"6 refers to the individual who 

1 Calvin and Osiander see a double curse in ver. 6. The former says, 
We know that God punishes men in both ways, both by withdrawing 
His blessing, so that the earth is parched, and the heaven gives no rain, 
and also, even when there is a good supply of the fruits of the earth, by 
preventing their satisfying, so that there is no real enjoyment of them. 
It often happens that men collect what would be quite a sufficient quan 
tity for food, but for all that, are still always hungry. This kind of curse 
is seen the more plainly when God deprives the bread and wine of their 
true virtue, so that eating and drinking fail to support the strength." 

180 HAGGAI. 

clothes himself, and is to be explained from the phrase ^ Qn, 
" I am warm" (1 Kings i. 1, 2, etc.). 

Vers. 7-11. After this allusion to the visitation of God, the 
prophet repeats the summons in vers. 7, 8, to lay to heart their 
previous conduct, and choose the way that is well-pleasing to 
God. Ver. 7. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts. Direct your heart 
upon your ways. Ver. 8. Go up to the mountains and fetch wood 
and build the house, and I will take pleasure therein and glorify 
myself, saith Jehovah" Hdhdr (the mountain) is not any par 
ticular mountain, say the temple mountain (Grotius, Maurer, 
Ros.), or Lebanon (Cocceius, Ewald, etc.) ; but the article is 
used generically, and hdhdr is simply the mountain regarded as 
the locality in which wood chiefly grows (cf. Neh. viii. 15). 
Fetching wood for building is an individualizing expression for 
providing building materials ; so that there is no ground for the 
inference drawn by Hitzig and many of the Rabbins, that 
the walls of the temple had been left standing when it was 
destroyed, so that all that had to be done was to renew the 
wood-work, an inference at variance not only with the refer 
ence made to the laying of the foundation of the temple in 
ch. ii. 18 and Ezra iii. 10, but also to the express statement in 
the account sent by the provincial governor to king Darius in 
Ezra v. 8, viz. that the house of the great God was built with 
square stones, and that timber was laid in the walls, te-nv")^ 
so will I take pleasure in it (the house) ; whereas so long as it lay 
in ruins, God was displeased with it. *l??*?1, and I will glorify 
myself, sc. upon the people, by causing my blessing to flow to 
it again. The keri JTnsKl is an unnecessary emendation, inas 
much as, although the voluntative might be used (cf. Ewald, 
350, a), it is not required, and has not been employed, both 
because it is wanting in n jf"!^, for the simple reason that the 
verbs rrt do not easily admit of this form (Ewald, 228, a), 
and also because it is not used in other instances, where the 
same circumstances do not prevail (e.g. Zech. i. 3). 1 Ewald 

1 The later Talraudists, indeed, have taken the omission of the n, which 
stands for 5 when used as a numeral, as an indication that there were five 
things wanting in the second temple : (1) the ark of the covenant, with 
the atoning lid and the cherubim ; (2) the sacred fire ; (3) the shechinah ; 
(4) the Holy Spirit ; (5) the Urim and Thummiin (compare the Babylonian 
tract Joma 21&, and Sal. ben Melech, Miclal Jophi on Hag. i. 8). 

CHAP. I. 9-11. 181 

and Hitzig adopt this rendering, " that I may feel myself 
honoured," whilst Maurer and Riickert translate it as a passive, 
" that I may be honoured." But both of these views are much 
less in harmony with the context, since what is there spoken of 
is the fact that God will then turn His good pleasure to the 
people once more, and along with that His blessing. How 
thoroughly this thought predominates, is evident from the more 
elaborate description, which follows in vers. 9-11, of the visita 
tion from God, viz. the failure of crops and drought. 

Ver. 9. " Ye looked out for much, and behold (it came) to 
little ; and ye brought it home, and I blew into it. Why ? is the 
saying of Jehovah of hosts. Because of my house, that it lies 
waste, whereas ye run every man for his house. Ver. 10. There 
fore the heaven has withheld its dew on your account, that no dew 
fell, and the earth has withheld her produce. Ver. 11. And 1 
called drought upon the earth, and upon the mountains, and upon 
the corn, and upon the new wine, and upon the oil, and upon 
everything that the ground produces, and upon men, and upon 
cattle, and upon all the labour of the hands." The meaning of 
ver. 9a is evident from the context. The inf. abs. pdnoh stands 
in an address full of emotion in the place of the perfect, and, 
as the following clause shows, for the second person plural. 
Ye have turned yourselves, fixed your eye upon much, i.e. upon 
a rich harvest, DyD7"ni)iTi, and behold the desired much turned 
to little. Ye brought into the house, ye fetched home what 
was reaped, and I blew into it, i.e. I caused it to fly away, like 
chaff before the wind, so that there was soon none of it left. 
Here is a double curse, therefore, as in ver. 6 : instead of much, 
but little was reaped, and the little that was brought home 
melted away without doing any good. To this exposition of 
the curse the prophet appends the question HD }i^ ? why, sc. has 
this taken place? that he may impress the cause with the 
greater emphasis upon their hardened minds. For the same 
reason he inserts once more, between the question and the 
answer, the words " is the saying of Jehovah of hosts," that 
the answer may not be mistaken for a subjective view, but 
laid to heart as a declaration of the God who rules the world. 
The choice of the form np for np was probably occasioned by 
the guttural ]) in the $!, which is closely connected with it, 
just as the analogous use of n~^ instead of n~^ in Isa. i. 5, 

182 HAGGAI. 

Ps. x. 13, and Jer. xvi. 10, where it is not followed by a word com 
mencing with y as in Deut. xxix. 23, 1 Kings ix. 8, Jer. xxii. 8. 
The former have not been taken into account at all by Ewald 
in his elaborate Lehrbuch (cf. 182, 6). In the answer given 
by God, "because of my house" (yaan bethl) is placed first for 
the sake of emphasis, and the more precise explanation follows. 
Kin iBte, because it," not " that which." W DflKI is a circum 
stantial clause. &TO . . , tW, not "every one runs to his 
house," but " runs for his house," ? denoting the object of the 
running, as in Isa. lix. 7 and Prov. i. 16. "When the house of 
Jehovah was in question, they did not move from the spot ; but 
if it concerned their own house, they ran" (Koehler). In vers. 
10 and 11, the curse with which God punished the neglect of 
His house is still further depicted, with an evident play upon 
the punishment with which transgressors are threatened in the 
law (Lev. xxvi. 19, 20; Deut. xi. 17 and xxviii. 23, 24). M^3| 
is not a dot. incomm. (Hitzig), which is never expressed by ?y; 
but i>y is used either in a causal sense, " on your account " 
(Chald.), or in a local sense, " over you," after the analogy of 
Deut. xxviii. 23, 1^N"i 5>V ifK T?>, in the sense of "the heaven 
over you will withhold" (Kos., Koehl.). It is impossible to 
decide with certainty between these two. The objection to the 
first, that " on your account " would be superfluous after g"/P, 
has no more force than that raised by Hitzig against the second, 
viz. that super would be <TO. There is no tautology in the first 
explanation, but the E^hj, written emphatically at the com 
mencement, gives greater intensity to the threat : " on account 
of you," you who only care for your own houses, the heaven 
withholds the dew. And with the other explanation, /yip w 7 ould 
only be required in case B^? were regarded as the object, 
upon which the dew ought to fall down from above. fc^3, not 
" to shut itself up," but in a transitive sense, with the derivative 
meaning to withhold or keep back ; and mittdl, not partitively 
" of the dew," equivalent to " a portion of it," but min in a 
privative sense, " away from," i.e. so that no dew falls ; for it 
is inadmissible to take mittdl as the object, " to hold back along 
with the dew," after the analogy of Num. xxiv. 11 (Hitzig), 
inasmuch as the accusative of the person is wanting, and in the 
parallel clause K^3 is construed with the accus. rei. N^PNJ in 
ver. 11 is still dependent upon IS/y. The word chorebh, in the 

CHAP. I. 12-15. 183 

sense of drought, applies strictly speaking only to the land and 
the fruits of the ground, but it is also transferred to men and 
beasts, inasmuch as drought, when it comes upon all vegetation, 
affects men and beasts as well ; and in this clause it may be 
taken in the general sense of devastation. The word is care 
fully chosen, to express the idea of the lex talionis. Because 
the Jews left the house of God chdrebh, they were punished 
with chdrebh. The last words are comprehensive : " all the 
labour of the hands" had reference to the cultivation of the 
soil and the preparation of the necessities of life. 

Vers. 12-15. The result of this reproof. Yer. 12. " Zerub 
babel, and Joshua, and the whole of the remnant of the people, 
hearkened to the voice of Jehovah their God, and according to the 
words of Haggai the prophet, as Jehovah their God had sent 
him ; and the people feared before Jehovah." "All the remnant 
of the people" does not mean the rest of the nation besides 
Zerubbabel and Joshua, in support of which Koehler refers to 
Jer. xxxix. 3 and 1 Chron. xii. 38, either here or in ver. 14 
and ch. ii. 2, inasmuch as Zerubbabel as the governor and 
prince of Judah, and Joshua as the high priest, are not 
embraced under the idea of the " people " ( am), as is the case 
in the passages quoted, where those who are described as the 
sh e erlth, or remnant, are members or portions of the whole in 
question. The " remnant of the people," as in Zech. viii. 6, is 
that portion of the nation which had returned from exile as a 
small gleaning of the nation, which had once been much larger. 
Tips VftW, to hearken to the voice, i.e. to lay to heart, so as to 
obey what was heard. " ^P3 is still more minutely defined by 
U1 *T3V7Jfl : "and (indeed) according to the words of Haggai, in 
accordance with the fact that Jehovah had sent him." This last 
clause refers to *yF\j which he had to speak according to the 
command of God (Hitzig) ; cf . Mic. iii. 4. The first fruit of the 
hearing was, that the people feared before Jehovah ; the second 
is mentioned in ver. 14, namely, that they resumed the neglected 
building of the temple. Their fearing before Jehovah presup 
poses that they saw their sin against God, and discerned in the 
drought a judgment from God. 

This penitential state of mind on the part of the people 
and their rulers was met by the Lord with the promise of His 
assistance, in order to elevate this disposition into determina- 

184 HAGGAI. 

tion and deed. Ver. 13. " Then spake Haggai, the messenger 
of Jehovah, in the message of Jehovah to the people, thus: I am 
with you, is the saying of Jehovah. Ver. 14. And Jehovah 
stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel, and the spirit of Joshua, 
and the spirit of all the remnant of the nation ; and they came 
and did work at the house of Jehovah of hosts, their God." The 
prophet is called "n^pD in ver. 13, i.e. messenger (not " angel," 
as many in the time of the fathers misunderstood the word as 
meaning), as being sent by Jehovah to the people, to make 
known to them His will (compare Mai. ii. 7, where the same 
epithet is applied to the priest). As the messenger of Jehovah, 
he speaks by command of Jehovah, and not in his own name 
or by his own impulse. B3ns ^K, I am with you, will help 
you, and will remove all the obstacles that stand in the way 
of your building (cf. ch. ii. 4). This promise Jehovah fulfilled, 
first of all by giving to Zerubbabel, Joshua, and the people, a 
willingness to carry out the work. nvi TJl?n, to awaken the 
spirit of any man, i.e. to make him willing and glad to carry 
out His resolutions (compare 1 Chron. v. 26 ; 2 Chron. xxi. 
16; Ezra i. 1, 5). Thus filled with joyfulness, courage, and 
strength, they began the work on the twenty-fourth day of the 
sixth month, in the second year of king Darius (ver. 15), that 
is to say, twenty-three days after Haggai had first addressed 
his challenge to them. The interval had been spent in deli 
beration and counsel, and in preparations for carrying out the 
work. In several editions and some few MSS. in Kennicott, in 
Tischendorf s edition of the LXX., in the Itala and in the 
Vulgate, ver. 15 is joined to the next chapter. But this is 
proved to be incorrect by the fact that the chronological state 
ments in ver. 15 and ch. ii. 1 are irreconcilable with one 
another. Ver. 15 is really so closely connected with ver. 14, 
that it is rather to be regarded as the last clause of that verse. 

CHAP. II. 1, 2. 185 


This chapter contains three words of God, which Haggai 
published to the people in the seventh and ninth months of the 
second year of Darius, to strengthen them in their zeal for the 
building of the temple, and to preserve them from discourage 
ment. The first of these words (vers. 1-9) refers to the 
relation in which the new temple would stand to the former 
one, and was uttered not quite four weeks after the building 
of the temple had been resumed. 

Vers. 1-9. GLORY OF THE NEW TEMPLE. Vers. 1 and 2. 
" In the seventh month, on the twenty-first day of the month, the 
word of the Lord came through Haggai" viz. to Zerubbabel, 
Joshua, and the remnant of the nation, that is to say, to the 
whole of the congregation that had returned from exile ; 
whereas the first appeal was only addressed to Zerubbabel and 
Joshua (see the introduction to ch. i. 1), although it also 
applied to the whole nation. Just as in the second year of 
the return from Babylon, when the foundation for the temple, 
which was about to be rebuilt, was laid in the reign of Cyrus, 
many old men, who had seen the temple of Solomon, burst out 
into loud weeping when they saw the new foundation (Ezra 
iii. 10 sqq.) ; a similar feeling of mourning and despair appears 
to have taken possession of the people and their rulers imme 
diately after the work had been resumed under Darius, and 
doubts arose whether the new building was really well-pleasing 
to the Lord, and ought to be carried on. The occasion for 
this despondency is not to be sought, as Hitzig supposes, in 
the fact that objections were made to the continuance of the 
building (Ezra v. 3), and that the opinion prevailed in conse 
quence that the works ought to be stopped till the arrival of 
the king s authority. For this view not only has no support 
whatever in our prophecy, but is also at variance with the 
account in the book of Ezra, according to which the governor 
and his companions, who had made inquiries concerning the 
command to build, did not stop the building while they sent 
word of the affair to the king (Ezra v. 5). Moreover, the 
conjecture that the people had been seized with a feeling of 

186 HAGGAI. 

sadness, when the work had so far advanced that they were 
able to institute a comparison between the new temple and the 
earlier one (Hengstenberg), does not suffice to explain the rapid 
alteration which took place in the feelings of the people. The 
building could not have been so far advanced in three weeks 
and a half as that the contrast between the new temple and 
the former one could be clearly seen, if it had not been noticed 
from the very first ; a fact, however, to which Ezra iii. 12 
distinctly refers. But although it had been seen from the very 
beginning that the new building would not come up to the 
glory of the former temple, the people could not from the very 
outset give up the hope of erecting a building which, if not 
quite equal to the former one in glory, would at all events 
come somewhat near to it. Under these circumstances, their 
confidence in the work might begin to vanish as soon as the 
first enthusiasm flagged, and a time arrived which was more 
favourable for the quiet contemplation of the general condition 
of affairs. This explanation is suggested by the time at which 
the second word of God was delivered to the congregation 
through the prophet. The twenty-first day of the seventh 
month was the seventh day of the feast of tabernacles (cf. Lev. 
xxiii. 34 sqq.), the great festival of rejoicing, on which Israel 
was to give practical expression to its gratitude for the gracious 
guidance which it had received through the wilderness, as well 
as for the blessing of the ingathering of all the fruits of the 
ground, which ended with the gathering of the orchard-fruits 
and with the vintage, by the presentation of numerous burnt- 
offerings and other sacrifices (see my biblische Archdologie^ i. 
p. 415 sqq.). The return of this festal celebration, especially 
after a harvest which had turned out very miserably, and 
showed no signs of the blessing of God, could not fail to call 
up vividly before the mind the difference between the former 
times, when Israel was able to assemble in the courts of the 
Lord s house, and so to rejoice in the blessings of His grace in 
the midst of abundant sacrificial meals, and the present time, 
when the altar of burnt-sacrifice might indeed be restored 
again, and the building of the temple be resumed, but in which 
there was no prospect of erecting a building that would in any 
degree answer to the glory of the former temple ; and when 
the prophecies of an Isaiah or an Ezekiel were remembered, 

CHAP. II. 3-5. 187 

according to which the new temple was to surpass the former 
one in glory, it would be almost sure to produce gloomy thoughts, 
and supply food for doubt whether the time had really come 
for rebuilding the temple, when after all it would be only a 
miserable hut. In this gloomy state of mind consolation was 
very necessary, if the hardly awakened zeal for the building 
of the house of God was not to cool down and vanish entirely 
away. To bring this consolation to those who were in despair 
was the object of the second word of God, which Haggai was 
to publish to the congregation. It runs as follows : 

Ver. 3. " Who is left among you, that saw this house in its 
former glory ? and hoiv do ye see it now ? Is it not as nothing 
in your eyes ? Ver. 4. And now be comforted, Zerubbabel, is 
the saying of Jehovah ; and be comforted, Joshua son of Jozadak, 
thou high priest ; and be comforted all the people of the land, is 
the saying of Jehovah, and work : for I am ivith you, is the 
saying of Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 5. The word that I concluded 
with you at your coming out of Egypt, and my Spirit, stand in 
the midst of you ; fear ye not" The prophet, admitting the 
poverty of the new building in comparison with the former one, 
exhorts them to continue the work in comfort, and promises 
them that the Lord will be with them, and fulfil His covenant 
promises. The question in ver. 3 is addressed to the old men, 
who had seen Solomon s temple in all its glory. There might 
be many such men still living, as it was only sixty-seven or sixty- 
eight years since the destruction of the first temple. "i&J^n is 
the predicate to the subject "E, and has the article because it is 
defined by the reflex action of the relative clause which follows 
(compare Ewald, 277, a). The second question, U1 DnK n}, 
et qualem videtis, In what condition do ye see it now ? is ap 
pended to the last clause of the first question : the house which 
ye saw in its former glory. There then follows with K^TH, in 
the form of a lively assurance, the statement of the difference 
between the two buildings, P.N3 ^nba, which has been inter 
preted in very different ways, may be explained from the 
double use of the 3 in comparisons, which is common in 
Hebrew, and which answers to our as so : here, however, it is 
used in the same way as in Gen. xviii. 25 and xliv. 18 ; that is 
to say, the object to be compared is mentioned first, and the 
object with which the comparison is instituted is mentioned 

188 HAGGAI. 

afterwards, in this sense, " so is it, as having no existence," in 
which case we should either leave out the first particle of com 
parison, or if it were expressed, should have to reverse the order 
of the words: " as not existing (nothing), so is it in your eyes." 
Koehler gives this correct explanation ; whereas if *nb| be ex 
plained according to Joel ii. 2, its equal, or such an one, we 
get the unsuitable thought, that it is not the temple itself, but 
something like the temple, that is compared to nothing. Even in 
Gen. xliv. 18, to which Ewald very properly refers as contain 
ing a perfectly equivalent phrase, it is not a man equal to Joseph, 
but Joseph himself, who is compared to Pharaoh, and described 
as being equal to him. Nevertheless they are not to let their 
courage fail, but to be comforted and to work. Chdzaq, to be 
inwardly strong, i.e. to be comforted. Asdh, to work or pro 
cure, as in "Ruth ii. 19 and Prov. xxxi. 13, in actual fact, to 
continue the work of building bravely, without there being any 
necessity to supply njtfta from ch. i. 14. For Jehovah will be 
with them (cf. ch. i. 13). In confirmation of this promise the 
Lord adds, that the word which He concluded with them on 
their coming out of Egypt, and His Spirit, will continue among 
them. " The word" ^eth-hadddblidr) cannot be either the 
accusative of the object to the preceding verb fisu (ver. 4), or 
to any verb we may choose to supply, or the preposition eth, 
with, or the accusative of norm or measure (Luther, Calvin, 
and others). To connect it with fisu yields no suitable mean 
ing. It is not the word, which they vowed to the Lord, at the 
conclusion of the covenant, that they are to do now, but the 
work which they had begun, viz. the building of the temple, 
they are now to continue. It is perfectly arbitrary to supply 
the verb zikhru, remember (Ewald and Hengstenberg), and to 
understand the prophet as reminding them of the word " fear 
not" (Ex. xx. 17 (20)). That word, fear not," with which 
Moses, not God, infused courage into the people, who were 
alarmed at the terrible phenomenon with which Jehovah came 
down upon Sinai, has no such central significance as that 
Haggai could point to it without further introduction, and say 
that Jehovah had concluded it with them on their coming out 
of Egypt. The word which the Lord concluded with Israel 
when He led it out of Egypt, can only be the promise which 
established the covenant, to the fulfilment of which God bound 

CHAP. II. 3-5. 189 

Himself in relation to the people, when He led them out of 
Egypt, namely, the word that He would make Israel into His 
own property out of all nations (Ex. xix. 5, 6 ; Deut. vii. 6 ; 
cf. Jer. vii. 22, 23, and xi. 4). It would quite agree with this 
to take eth as the accusative of the norm, and also to con 
nect it as a preposition, if this could only be shown to be in 
accordance with the rules of the language. But although the 
accusative in Hebrew is often used, in the relation of free sub 
ordination, " to express more precisely the relation of measure 
and size, space and time, mode and kind" (cf. Ewald, 204-206), 
it is impossible to find any example of such an accusative of 
norm as is here assumed, especially with eth preceding it. But 
if eth were a preposition instead of EJfiN, we should have E?^y, 
inasmuch as the use of "iinrrnK, as a parallel to BjtfiK, makes 
the words clumsy and awkward. The thought which Haggai 
evidently wishes to express requires that hadddbhdr should 
stand upon the same line with ruchi y so that eth-hadddbhdr is 
actually the subject to ^dmedetli, and eth is simply used to con 
nect the new declaration with the preceding one, and to place 
it in subjection to the one which follows, in the sense of " as 
regards," quoad (Ewald, 277, d, pp. 683-4), in which case the 
choice of the accusative in the present instance may either be 
explained from a kind of attraction (as in the Latin, urbem 
quam statuo vestra est) 9 as Hitzig supposes, or from the blending 
together of two constructions, as Koehler maintains ; that is to 
say, Haggai intended to write WBgn *nwi "iinrmK, but was 
induced to alter the proposed construction by the relative clause 
*tal ^PTQ "IG?K attaching itself to "^"I 1 . Consequently omedeth, 
as predicate, not only belongs to ruchl, but also to hadddbhdr, in 
the sense of to have continuance and validity ; and according 
to a later usage of the language, "l{f is used for Dip, to stand 
fast (compare Isa. xl. 8 with Dan. xi. 14). The word, that 
Israel is the property of Jehovah, and Jehovah the God of 
Israel, still stands in undiminished force ; and not only so, but 
His Spirit also still works in the midst of Israel. Ruach, in 
parallelism with the word containing the foundation of the 
covenant, is neither the spirit of prophecy (Chald., J. D. Mich.), 
nor the spirit which once filled Bezaleel and his companions 
(Ex. xxxi. 1 sqq., xxxvi. 1 sqq.), enabling them to erect the 
tabernacle in a proper manner, and one well-pleasing to God 

190 HAGGAI. 

(Luc., Osiander, and Koehler). Both views are too narrow ; 
rudch is the divine power which accompanies the word of pro 
mise and realizes it in a creative manner, i.e. not merely " the 
virtue with which God will establish their souls, that they may 
not be overcome by temptations" (Calvin), but also the power 
of the Spirit working in the \vorld, which is able to remove all 
the external obstacles that present themselves to the realization 
of the divine plan of salvation. This Spirit is still working in 
Israel ( u in the midst of you") ; therefore they are not to fear, 
even if the existing state of things does not correspond to 
human expectations. The omnipotence of God can and will 
carry out His word, and glorify His temple. This leads to the 
further promise in vers. 6-9, which gives the reason for the 
exhortation, " Fear ye not." 

Ver. 6. 6( For thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Once more, in a 
short time it comes to pass, I shake heaven and earth, and the sea, 
and the dry. Ver. 7. And I shake all nations, and the costly of 
all nations will come, and 1 shall Jill this house with glory, saith 
Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 8. Mine is the silver, and mine the gold, is 
the saying of Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 9. The last glory of this 
house ivill be greater than the first, saith Jehovah of hosts; and in 
this place shall I give peace, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts. 1 
Different explanations have been given of the definition of the 
time K s n EVE nn Ity. Luther, Calvin, and others, down to 
Ewald and Hengstenberg, follow the Chaldee and Vulgate, and 
either take achath in the sense of the indefinite article or as a 
numeral, "adhuc unum modicum est," or "it is yet a little thither." 
But if achath belonged to BJfl? as a numeral adjective, either in 
the one sense or the other, according to the arrangement adopted 
without exception in Hebrew (for echdd is not an adjective in 
Dan. viii. 13), it could not stand before Byo, but must be placed 
after it. The difference of gender also precludes this combi 
nation, inasmuch as BJflp is not construed as a feminine in a 
single passage. We must therefore take N 11 !! DJ?p as forming 
an independent clause of itself, i.e. as a more precise definition 
of riHK Hiy. But achath does not mean one = one time, or a 
short space of time (Burk, Hitzig, Hofmann) ; nor does it 
acquire this meaning from the clause fc^n BJJB ; nor can it be 
sustained by arbitrarily supplying njJ. Achath is used as a 
neuter in the sense of " once," as in Ex. xxx. 10, 2 Kings 

CHAi*. II. 6-9. 191 

vi. 10, Job xl. 5 (cf. Ewakl, 269, b). K n Dgo, a little, t.. a 
short time is it, equivalent to " soon," in a short time will it 
occur (cf. Hos. viii. 10; Ps. xxxvii. 10). The LXX. have 
rendered it correctly eri a7raf, only they have left out ton tDJMp. 
The words, " once more and indeed in a short time I shake," 
etc., have not the meaning which Koehl. attaches to the correct 
rendering, viz. " Once, and only once, will Jehovah henceforth 
shake heaven and earth," in which the Ity standing at the head 
is both moved from its place, and taken, not in the sense of 
repetition or of continuance from the present to the future, but 
simply in the sense of an allusion to the future; in other words, 
it is completely deprived of its true meaning. For Ity never 
loses its primary sense of repetition or return any more than 
the German noch (still or yet), so as to denote an occurrence 
in the future without any allusion whatever to an event that 
has already happened or is in existence still, not even in 2 Sam. 
xix. 36 and 2 Chron. xvii. 6, with which Koehler endeavours to 
support his views, without observing that in these passages Ity 
is used in a very different sense, signifying in 2 Sam. prceterea, 
and in 2 Chron. " moreover." In the verse before us it is used 
with reference to the previous shaking of the world at the 
descent of Jehovah upon Sinai to establish the covenant with 
Israel, to which the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews has 
quite correctly taken it as referring (Heb. xii. 26). On the 
other hand, the objection offered by Koehler, that that shaking 
did not extend beyond Sinai and the Sinaitic region, either 
according to the historical account in Ex. xix. 16-18, or the 
poetical descriptions in Judg. v. 4, 5, and Ps. Ixviii. 8, 9, is 
incorrect For not only in the two poetical descriptions referred 
to, but also in Hab. iii. 6, the manifestation of God upon 
Sinai is represented as a trembling or shaking of the earth, 
whereby the powers of the heaven were set in motion, and the 
heavens dropped down water. The approaching shaking of 
the world will be much more violent ; it will affect the heaven 
and the earth in all their parts, the sea and the solid ground, 
and also the nations. Then will the condition of the whole of 
the visible creation and of the whole of the world of nations 
be altered. The shaking of the heaven and the earth, i.e. of 
the universe, is closely connected with the shaking of all 
nations. It is not merely a figurative representation or symbol, 

192 HAGGAI. 

however, of great political agitations, but is quite as real as tlie 
shaking of the nations, and not merely follows this and is 
caused by it, but also precedes it and goes side by side with it, 
and only in its completion does it form the conclusion to the 
whole of the shaking of the world. For earthquakes and 
movements of the powers of heaven are heralds and attendants 
of the coming of the Lord to judgment upon the whole earth, 
through which not only the outward form of the existing world 
is altered, but the present world itself will finally be reduced 
to ruins (Isa. xxiv. 18-20), and out of the world thus perish 
ing there are to be created a new heaven and a new earth 
(Isa. Ixv. 17, Ixvi. 22 ; 2 Pet. iii. 10-13). But if the shaking 
of heaven and earth effects a violent breaking up of the exist 
ing condition of the universe, the shaking of all nations can 
only be one by which an end is put to the existing condition 
of the world of nations, by means of great political convulsions, 
and indeed, according to the explanation given in ver. 22, by 
the Lord s overthrowing the throne of the kingdoms, annihilat 
ing their power, and destroying their materials of war, so that 
one falls by the sword of the other, that is to say, by wars and 
revolutions, by which the might of the heathen world is broken 
and annihilated. It follows from this, that the shaking of the 
heathen is not to be interpreted spiritually, either as denoting 
" the marvellous, supernatural, and violent impulse by which 
God impels His elect to betake themselves to the fold of Christ " 
(Calvin), or " the movement to be produced among the nations 
through the preaching of the gospel, with the co-operation of 
the Holy Spirit." The impulse given by the preaching of the 
gospel and the operation of the Holy Spirit to such souls 
among the nations as desire salvation, to seek salvation from 
the living God, is only the fruit of the shaking of the heathen 
world, and is not to be identified with it ; for the coming of the 
chemdath kol-haggoyim is defined by ^2} with the Vav consec. as 
a consequence of the shaking of the nations. 

By chemdath kol-haggoylm most of the earlier orthodox com 
mentators understood the Messiah, after the example of the 
Vulgate, et veniet desideratus gentibus, and Luther s " consola 
tion of the Gentiles." But the plural 1N3 is hardly reconcilable 
with this. If, for example, chemdath were the subject of the 
clause, as most of the commentators assume, we should have 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 193 

the singular Kl*. For the rule, that in the case of two nouns 
connected together in the construct state, the verb may take 
the number of the governed noun, applies only to cases in 
which the governed noun contains the principal idea, so that 
there is a construct ad sensum ; whereas in the case before us 
the leading idea would be formed, not by kol-hagydywn, but by 
chemdath, desideratus, or consolation, as a designation of the 
Messiah. Hence Cocc., Mark, and others, have taken chemdath 
as the accusative of direction : " that they (sc. the nations) 
may come to the desire of all nations namely, to Christ." It 
cannot be objected to this, as Koehler supposes, that to designate 
Christ as the desire of all nations would be either erroneous, 
inasmuch as in the time of Haggai only a very few heathen 
knew anything about Israel s hope of a Messiah, or perfectly 
unintelligible to his contemporaries, especially if the meaning 
of the epithet were that the heathen would love Him at some 
future time. For the latter remark is at once proved to be 
untenable by the prophecy of Isaiah and Micah, to the effect 
that all nations will flow to the mountain of God s house. 
After such prophecies, the thought that the heathen would one 
day love the Messiah could not be unintelligible to the con 
temporaries of our prophet ; and there is not the smallest proof 
of the first assertion. In the year 520 B.C., when the ten tribes 
had already been scattered among the heathen for 200 years, 
and the Judaeans for more than seventy years, the Messianic 
hope of Israel could not be any longer altogether unknown to 
the nations. It may with much better reason be objected to tne 
former view, that if cliemddh were the accusative of direction, 
we should expect the preposition el in order to avoid ambiguity 
But what is decisive against it is the fact, that the coming of the 
nations to the Messiah would be a thought completely foreign 
to the context, since the Messiah cannot without further expla 
nation be identified with the temple. Chemddh signifies desire 
(2 Chron. xxi. 20), then the object of desire, that in which a 
man finds pleasure and joy, valuables. Chemdath haggoylm is 
therefore the valuable possessions of the heathen, or according 
to ver. 8 their gold and silver, or their treasures and riches; 
not the best among the heathen (Theod. Mops., Capp., Hitzig). 
Hence chemdath cannot be the accusative of direction, since 
the thought that the heathen come to the treasures of all the 

VOL. II. tf 

194 HAGGAI. 

heathen furnishes no suitable meaning; but it is the nomina 
tive or subject, and is construed as a collective word with the 
verb in the plural. The thought is the following : That shaking 
will be followed by this result, or produce this effect, that all 
the valuable possessions of the heathen will come to fill the 
temple with glory. Compare Isa. Ix. 5, where the words, "the 
possessions (riches) of the heathen (cliel goylm) will come to 
thee," i.e. be brought to Jerusalem, express the same thought ; 
also Isa. Ix. 11. With the valuable possessions of the heathen 
the Lord will glorify His temple, or fill it with kdbliod. Kdbliod 
without the article denotes the glory which the temple will 
receive through the possessions of the heathen presented there. 
The majority of the commentators have referred these words 
to the glorification of the temple through the appearance of 
Jesus in it, and appeal to Ex. xl. 34, 35, 1 Kings viii. 10, 11, 
2 Chron. v. 13, 14, according to which passages the glory of 
Jehovah filled the tabernacle and Solomon s temple at their 
dedication, so that they identify kdbliod (glory) with k e blwd 
Y e hovdh (glory of Jehovah) without reserve. But this is im 
practicable, although the expression Mbhod is chosen by the 
prophet with a reference to those events, and the fulfilment of 
our prophecy did commence with the fact that Jehovah came 
to His temple in the person of Jesus Christ (Mai. iii. 1). 
Ver. 8. Jehovah can fill this house with glory, because the 
silver and gold which the heathen nations possess belong to 
Him. By shaking all kingdoms He can induce the nations to 
present their treasures to Him as gifts for the glorification of 
His house. Thus (the promise closes with this in ver. 9), 
the later glory of this house will be greater than the former 
was. Hdacliaron might be regarded as belonging to habbayith 
hazzeh, in the sense of "the glory of this latter house;" and 
the majority of the commentators have taken it so, after the 
Itala, Vulgate, and Peschito. But it is quite as admissible to 
connect it with kdbhod, in the sense of " the later glory of 
this house," inasmuch as when one substantive is determined 
by another which is connected with it in the construct state, 
the adjective belonging to the nomen regens follows with the 
article (cf. 2 Sam. xxiii. 1; 1 Chron. xxiii. 27; and Ewald, 
289, a). This is the rendering adopted by Michaelis, Maurer, 
Hitzig, and others, after the LXX. According to the first 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 105 

construction, the distinction would be drawn between a former 
and a later house ; according to the second, simply between the 
earlier and later glory of the same house ; and the passage would 
be based upon the idea, that through all ages there was only 
one house of Jehovah in Jerusalem existing under different 
forms. Ver. 3 is decisive in favour of the second view, for 
there an earlier glory is attributed to this house, and contrasted 
with its present miserable condition. The first or former glory 
is that of Solomon s temple, the later or last that of Zerubbabel s. 
The difference of opinion as to the true rendering of the words 
has no material influence upon the matter itself; except that, 
if the latter view be adopted, the question so often discussed by 
earlier writers namely, whether by the second temple we are 
to understand the temple of Zerubbabel or the temple as altered 
by Herod, which many have- erroneously taken to be the third 
falls to the- ground as perfectly unmeaning. The final glory of 
the temple will also be a lasting one. This is implied in the 
closing words of the promise : " And in this place will I give 
peace." "-This place" is not the temple, but Jerusalem, as the 
place where the temple is built; and the "peace" is not spiritual 
peace, but external peace, which does indeed in its perfect form 
include spiritual peace as well. This is perfectly evident from 
the parallel passages, Mic; v. 4, Joel-iv. 17, and Isa. Ix. 18. 

If we- also take up the question- as to the fulfilment of this 
prophecy, we must keep the two features quite distinct (a) 
the shaking of heaven and earth and all nations ; (b) the con 
sequence of this shaking, the coming of the heathen with their 
possessions to the glorification of the temple although they both 
stand in close connection. The earlier commentators were no 
doubt generally right, when they sought for the fulfilment in 
the establishment of the new covenant through Christ ; they 
simply erred in referring the predicted shaking of the nations 
and the promised glorification of the temple in too one-sided 
and exclusive a manner to the coming of Christ in the flesh, 
to His teaching in the temple, and to the establishment of the 
kingdom of heaven through the preaching of the gospel. They 
were thereby compelled, on the one hand, to force upon the 
prophecy a meaning irreconcilable with the words themselves, 
and, on the other hand, to seek for its fulfilment in historical 
particulars to some extent of very subordinate importance. 

196 HAGGAI. 

Even the predicted nearness of the time ("it is a little while") 
does not suit the exclusive reference to the establishment of 
the new covenant, or the founding of the Christian church. 
The period of 520 years, which elapsed before the birth of 
Christ, cannot be called a little or short time, as Calovius 
supposes, " in comparison with the time that had passed since 
either the promulgation of the law or the promulgation of the 
protevangelium" inasmuch as five hundred are not Byp in 
relation to fifteen hundred, and the proposal to go back to the 
protevangelium is evidently merely a loophole of perplexity. 
Nor can fc^n toyp be explained on the hypothesis that the 
measure of time here is not a human one, but the divine 
measure, according to which a thousand years are equal to 
one day. " For whoever speaks to men, must speak of things 
according to a human method of thinking ; or if he do not, he 
must make it clear that this is the case. The prophet lays 
stress upon the brevity of the time, for the purpose of com 
forting. And only what is short in the eyes of men is fitted 
for this" (Hengstenberg). The shaking of the heathen world 
did not first begin with the birth of Christ, but commenced 
shortly after the time of Haggai. It is true that under Darius 
Hystaspes the Persian empire was still standing at the summit 
of its power ; but its shaking began under his successor 
Xerxes, and came very plainly to light in his war against 
Greece. "Even then there were forebodings that the time of 
this empire would soon be accomplished, and the rapid con 
quests of Alexander gave fulfilment to this foreboding. And 
even his power, which seemed destined to last for ever, very 
speedily succumbed to the lot of all temporal things. Inde 
(says Livy) morte Alexandra distractum in multa regna, dum 
ad-se quisque opes rapiunt lacerantes viribus, a summo culmine 
fortunes ad ultimum jinem centum quinquaginta annos stetit. 
The two most powerful kingdoms that grew out of the mon 
archy of Alexander, viz. the Syrian and Egyptian, destroyed 
one another. The Romans now attained to the government 
of the world ; but at the very time when they appeared to be 
at the summit of their greatness, their shaking had very con 
siderably advanced" (Hengstenberg). The circumstance that 
the prophet mentions the shaking of heaven and earth before 
the shaking of all the heathen, cannot furnish any valid ground 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 197 

for objecting to these allusions ; nor can it force us to the con 
clusion that the words are only to be understood as denoting 
"great political shakings, whereby the power of the heathen 
would be broken, their pride humbled, and so the susceptibility 
for salvation be evoked among them." For even if such events 
do shake the world, and are poetically represented as earth 
quakes, even if they were regarded by the nations as heralds 
of the approaching destruction of the world, because the im 
pression they produced upon the mind was as if heaven and 
earth were falling to pieces ; all this does not satisfy the words, 
which do not express the subjective emotion, but announce 
real facts. The shaking of heaven and earth, of the sea and 
of the dry land, is indeed partially effected by violent earth 
quakes and wonderful signs in the sky, and was typified by 
such judgments as the flood ; but it is only fully accomplished 
at the breaking up of the present condition of the world in 
the destruction of this heaven and this earth. The prophet 
mentions at the very outset the utmost and the last that God 
will do, to clear away all existing hindrances to the completion 
of His kingdom in glory, and then passes on to the shakings 
of the world of nations which prepare the way for and lead 
on to this result, just as Micah in ch. iv. comes back from the 
most remote future to the less remote, and then to the imme 
diate future. For the shakings of the heathen, by which their 
power will be broken and the dissolution of heathenism and 
of the ungodly power of the world will be effected, do not 
reach their end with the coming of Christ and the establish 
ment of the Christian church : but just as the kingdom of the 
world maintains its standing by the side of the kingdom of 
heaven established by Christ upon the earth, until the return 
of our Lord to judgment ; so does the shaking of the heathen 
and of the kingdoms of the nations continue till every power 
which rises against the Almighty God and His Christ is 
broken, and the world which has been thrown into confusion 
by the sin of men, and is made subject to corruptibility on 
their account, shall perish, and the new heaven and new earth 
wherein dwelleth righteousness, for which we are looking, shall 
be established (2 Pet. iii. 12, 13). 1 

1 Aug. Koehler also assumes that the ultimate fulfilment of our pro 
phecy will not take place till the second coming of Christ, although he is 


But if the shaking of the heathen commenced before the 
coming of Christ in the flesh, and will continue till His second 
coming in glory, we must not restrict the fulfilment of the 
predicted moral consequences of this shaking namely, that 
the heathen come and consecrate their possessions to the Lord 
for the glorification of His house, to the conversion of the 
heathen to Christ, and their entrance into the Christian church 
but must also regard the desire for the living God, awakened 
by the decay of heathendom and its religions, which was mani 
fested in the adoption of Judaism by the more pious heathen, 
as a prelude to the fulfilment which commenced with the spread 
of the gospel among the Gentiles, and must include not only 
the presentation of dedicatory offerings rwv a\\v(j)u\(t)i> and of 
gifts T&V e(t)06v eOvwv, with which the temple was adorned 
according to Josephus, de Bell. Jud. ii. 17, 3, but also the 
presents of king Artaxerxes and his counsellors, which Ezra 
received on his return to Jerusalem to carry with him for the 

of opinion that, generally speaking, it has not "been fulfilled in the manner 
originally intended. Starting, for example, with the fact that the fulfil 
ment of the events predicted by Haggai and the coming of the day of 
Jehovah are one and the same, and that according to Mai. iii. 1, 23 the 
day of Jehovah was to be preceded by the coming of a messenger, to pre 
pare the way for Jehovah to come to His temple, Koehler assumes that 
the fulfilment of these events ought to have taken place with the coming 
of Jesus of Nazareth, to establish the new covenant as the Messiah. But, 
inasmuch as Israel was still without such moral preparation as would allow 
of the coming of Jehovah being a blessing to it, and rejected its Messiah, 
there occurred an event in connection with this rejection of Jesus on the 
part of Israel, which not only put a stop to the fulfilment of the prophecies, 
the realization of which had commenced with the coming of Jesus, but 
introduced a partial modification. " The new covenant," he says, " which 
was established by the Lord in His incarnation, was not at first a blessing 
to Israel, but to the heathen world. Instead of setting up His kingdom 
over the earth, with Zion as the centre, the Lord returned to heaven, and 
there took possession of the throne above all thrones. But Israel was 
smitten with the ban, and scattered among the heathen nations. The 
sacred places which were to be glorified by the valuables of all the heathen, 
had become unclean through Israel s sin, and were given up to destruction 
in consequence." In his opinion there is a coming of Jehovah still in the 
future. Jesus will return from heaven again, but not till Israel shall have 
been converted to the Messiah it rejected. Then will the prophecies of 
Haggai that remained unfulfilled at the first coming of Jesus be accom 
plished, but in the only way that is still possible, since the former holy 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 199 

temple (Ezra vii. 15 sqq.). 1 Yea, even the command of king 
Darius Hystaspes to his vicegerent, which no doubt reached 
Jerusalem after our prophecy had been uttered, not only to 
allow the work at this house of God to continue, but also to 
deliver to the elders of Judah what was required for the build 
ing as well as for the requirements of the daily sacrificial wor 
ship out of the moneys raised by taxation on this side the river 
(Ezra vi. 6-10), may at any rate be regarded as a pledge of 
the certain fulfilment of the divine promise uttered by Haggai. 
But whilst the honour paid to the temple of Zerubbabel on the 
part of the heathen and heathen princes by the presentation of 
sacrifices and dedicatory offerings must not be overlooked, as 
preludes to the promised filling of this house with the riches of 
the Gentiles, we must not look to this outward glorification of 
the temple at Jerusalem for the true fulfilment of our pro 
phecy, even if it had exceeded Solomon s temple in glory. 
This first took place with the coming of Christ, and that not 

places of Israel have been destroyed, and the heathen world has already 
participated in the new covenant, and has at any rate in part already 
become the people of God. Consequently the events predicted by Haggai 
(ii. 6-9) have not been fulfilled ; for the valuable possessions of all the 
heathen have not been applied to the glorification of the sanctuary of 
Jehovah built by Zerubbabel, and there has not been a place of peace 
created there in the midst of the judgments that were to fall upon the 
heathen world. But the fault of this rests purely upon Israel. And so 
also it is in the impenitence of Israel that we have to look for the reason 
why the shaking of the heaven and the earth, and all the heathen, which 
Haggai announced as &on tDJHD, has been postponed for more than 500 
years. This is Koehler s view. But if there had really been any founda 
tion in the Scriptures for this view, and the predictions of our prophet had 
not been fulfilled in the manner intended, the fault would not rest entirely 
in the impenitence of Israel, but would fall in part upon God Himself, for 
having sent His Son, not at the proper time, or when the time was accom 
plished, but too early, namely, before Israel was in that moral condition 
which would allow of the coming of the Messiah to become a blessing to it, 
whether God was mistaken as to the proper time for sending His Son, or 
in His judgment as to the moral condition of Israel. If Koehler had put 
this clearly to his own mind, he would certainly have hesitated before he 
built up a view on the basis of an erroneous idea of the day of the Lord 
which necessarily leads to the denial not only of the divine prescience or 
the irpoyvaffts TOV 0o, but also of the supernatural character of the Old 
Testament prophecy. 

1 We must not, however, include the additions to Zerubbabel s temple 

200 HAGGAI. 

in the fact that Jesus visited the temple and taught in it, and 
as the incarnate Logos, in whom the "glory of Jehovah" 
that filled the temple of Solomon dwelt in its truest essence 
as Sofa a>9 fjiovo^evov^ irapa Trarpo?, glorified the temple of 
stone with His presence, but by the fact that Christ raised up 
the true temple of God not built with human hand (John 
ii. 19), i.e. that He exalted the kingdom of God shadowed 
forth in the temple at Jerusalem to its true essence. We 
must draw a distinction between the substance and form, 
the kernel and the shell, of the prophecy. The temple, as 
the place where the Lord dwelt in the midst of Israel in a 
visible symbol of His gracious presence, was the seat and 
concentration of the kingdom of God, which had its visible 
embodiment in the temple so long as the old covenant lasted. 
In this respect the rebuilding of the temple that had been 
destroyed was a sign and pledge of the restoration of the 
kingdom of God, which had been broken up through the 

undertaken by Herod the Great for the sake of beautifying it, because, 
although Herod was a Gentile by descent, the work was not undertaken 
from any love to the Lord, but (as Calvin, and Hengstenberg, Christol. iii. 
pp. 289-90, have already observed) with the intention of securing the fulfil 
ment of Haggai s prophecy, in order to prevent the coming of the kingdom 
of God, his fear of which was that it would put an end to his earthly 
sway. His intention is obvious enough from the address communicated by 
Josephus (Ant. xv. 11, 1), through which Herod endeavoured to win over 
the people to his plan. After telling them that the temple built after the 
return of the fathers from exile was still sixty cubits lower than that of 
Solomon, which he proposed to add, he proceeded thus : " But since I am 
now by God s will your governor, and I have had peace a long time, and 
have gained great riches and large revenues, and, what is the principal 
thing of all, I am at amity with and well regarded by the Romans, who, if 
I may so say, are the rulers of the whole world," etc. The allusion to 
our prophecy, as Hengstenberg says, is unmistakeable here. He tries to 
prove that all the conditions which it lays down for the glorifying of the 
temple have now been realized. " All nations," by whom the building of 
the temple is to be promoted, are equivalent in his esteem to "the Romans, 
who are the rulers of the whole world." He whom God has called to the 
government has gold and silver enough. And the words " in this place 
will I give peace " are now fulfilled. The manner in which he strained 
every nerve to fulfil the words " the glory will be greater," is evident from 
3, where it is stated that " he laid out larger sums of money upon them 
than had been done before him, till it seemed that no one else had so 
greatly adorned the temple as he had done." 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 201 

banishment of Israel among the heathen, and the attitude of 
those who returned from exile towards the building of the 
temple was a sign of their internal attitude towards the Lord 
and His kingdom. If, then, the old men who had seen the 
temple in its former glory wept aloud at the laying of the 
foundation of the new building, because in comparison with 
the former it was as nothing in their eyes, this mourning 
was occasioned not so much by the fact that the new temple 
would not be so beautiful and majestic a building as that of 
Solomon had been, as by the fact that the poverty of the new 
building set before their eyes the wretched condition of the 
kingdom of God. This true or deeper ground for their mourn 
ing, which might very well give rise to the question whether 
the Lord would restore His former gracious relation to Israel, 
or at any rate would restore it now, is met by the divine pro 
mise published by Haggai to the people, which attaches itself 
in form to the existing circumstances, and accordingly promises 
for the future a glorification of the temple which will outshine 
the glory of the former one. If we look at the thought itself 
which is expressed in this form, it is the following : The Lord 
will one day exalt His kingdom, which is so deeply degraded 
and despised, to a glory which will far surpass the glory of the 
kingdom of God at the time of Solomon, and that by the fact 
that all the heathen nations will dedicate their possessions to it. 
This glorification of the house of God commenced with the 
introduction of the kingdom of heaven, which Jesus Christ 
preached, and of which He laid the foundation in His church. 
And whilst the stone-temple at Jerusalem built by Zerubbabel 
and splendidly finished by Herod fell into ruins, because the 
Jews had rejected their Saviour, and crucified Him, this has 
been carried on through the spread of the kingdom of God 
among the nations of the earth, and will be completed at the 
end of the course of this world ; not, however, by the erection 
of a new and much more glorious temple in Jerusalem, but in 
the founding of the new Jerusalem coming down out of heaven 
from God upon the new earth, after the overthrow of all the 
powers of the world that are hostile to God. This holy city 
will have the glory of God (77 Sofa rov Seov = nto 1133), but 
no temple ; because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb 
are the temple of it. Into this holy city of God will the kings 

202 HAGGAI. 

of the earth bring their glory and honour, and the heathen 
who are saved will walk therein (Rev. xxi. 10, 11, 22-24). 
Thus the promise covers the entire development of the kingdom 
of God to the end of days. 

This was the sense in which the author of the Epistle to 
the Hebrews (Heb. xii. 26, 27) understood our prophecy. In 
order, namely, to give emphasis to his admonition, not to ex 
pose themselves to still severer punishment than fell upon those 
who hardened themselves under the Old Testament against the 
incomplete revelation of God, by rejecting the far more perfect 
revelation of God in Christ, he quotes our prophecy, and shows 
from it (ver. 26), that at the founding of the old covenant only 
a comparatively small shaking of the earth took place ; whereas 
for the times of the new covenant there had been predicted a 
shaking not only of the earth, but also of the heaven, which 
indicated that what was moveable was to be altered, as made 
for that purpose, that the immoveable might remain. The 
author of this epistle consequently brings out the fundamental 
thought of our prophecy, in which its fulfilment culminates, 
viz. that everything earthly must be shaken and altered, that 
the immoveable, i.e. the /3acrtXe/<z acraXeuro?, may remain, or 
in other words, that the whole of the earthly creation nmst 
perish, in order that the kingdom of God may be shown to be 
immoveably permanent. He does not, however, thereby repre 
sent the predicted shaking of heaven and earth " as still in the 
future," as Koehler supposes ; but, as his words in ver. 28 (cf. 
ver. 22), " Wherefore we, receiving a kingdom which cannot be 
moved, let us have grace," clearly show, he takes it as having 
already commenced, and looks upon the whole period, from the 
coming of Christ in the flesh till His coming again in glory, as 
one continuum. 

Ver. 10. On the 24th day of the ninth month of the same 
year, that is to say, exactly three months after the congregation 
had resumed the building of the temple (cf. ch. i. 15), and 
about two months after the second prophecy (ch. ii. 1), a new 
word of the Lord was uttered through Haggai to the people. 
It was now time, since the despondency which had laid hold 
of the people a few weeks after the recommencement of the 

CHAP. II. 11-14. 203 

building had been dispelled by the consolatory promises in 
vers. 6-9, and the work was vigorously pursued, to confirm the 
people in the fidelity which they had manifested, by bestowing 
upon them the blessing which had been withdrawn. To this 
end Haggai received the commission to make it perfectly clear 
to the people, that the curse which had rested upon them since 
the building of the temple had been neglected, had been nothing 
but a punishment for their indolence in not pushing forward 
the work of the Lord, and that from that time forth the Lord 
would bestow His blessing upon them again. The ninth month 
(Khislev) corresponds very nearly to the period between the 
middle of November and the middle of December, when the 
sowing of the winter crops, that commenced after the feast of 
tabernacles, was finished, and the autumnal rain (early rain) 
had set in, so that in the abundant fall of this rain they might 
discern a trace of the divine blessing. The word of God was 
as follows : Ver. 11. " T/ius saith Jehovah of hosts, Ask now the 
priests for instruction, saying, Ver. 12. Behold, one carries holy 
flesh in the lappet of his garment, and touches with his lappet the 
bread, and that which is boiled, the wine, and the oil, and any kind 
of food : does it then become holy? And the priests answered 
and said, No. Ver. 13. And Haggai said, If one who is unclean 
on account of a corpse touches all this, does it become unclean % 
And the priests answered and said, It does become unclean. 
Ver. 14. Then Haggai answered and said, So is this people, and 
so this nation before my face, is the saying of Jehovah ; and so 
is all the work of their hands, and what they offer to me there : 
it is unclean" In order to impress most earnestly upon the 
hearts of the people the fact that it was through their sin that 
they brought upon themselves the failure of crops that had 
hitherto prevailed, viz. as a punishment from God, the prophet 
proposes two questions concerning holy and clean for the priests 
to answer, in order that he may make an application of the 
answer they give to the moral condition of the nation. Tordh 
in ver. 11, without the article, is used in its primary signi 
fication of instruction, and is governed by ?#&, accus. rei : to 
ask a person anything, for to ask or solicit anything from 
him. The first question has reference to the communication 
of the holiness of holy objects to other objects brought into 
contact with them : whether, if a person carried holy flesh in 

204 HAGGAI. 

the lappet of his garment, 1 and touched any food with the 
lappet, it would become holy in consequence. Hen, behold, 
pointing to an action as possible, has almost the force of a con 
ditional particle, u if," as in Isa. liv. 15, Jer. iii. 1 (cf. Ewald, 
103, g). " Holy flesh" is flesh of animals slain as sacrifices, 
as in Jer. xi. 15. Ndzld, that which is boiled, boiled food 
(Gen. xxv. 29 ; 2 Kings iv. 38 sqq.). The priests answer the 
question laid before them quite correctly with " No ;" for, 
according to Lev. vi. 20, the lappet of the dress itself was made 
holy by the holy flesh, but it could not communicate this holi 
ness any further. The second question (ver. 13) has reference 
to the spread of legal defilement. B*jM NB is not one who is 
unclean in his soul ; but, as Lev. xxii. 4 shows, it is synony 
mous with $537 NED in Num. v. 2, ix. 10, " defiled on a soul ;" 
and this is a contraction of Dns Ete Ktttp, or HD B>E> KBB, 
in Num. ix. 6, 7, " defiled on (through) the soul of a dead 
man" (Num. vi. 6; Lev. xxi. 11 : see at Lev. xix. 28), hence 
one who has been defiled through touching a dead body. This 
uncleanness was one of the strongest kinds ; it lasted seven 
days, and could only be removed by his being twice purified 
with sprinkling water, prepared from the ashes of the red cow 
(see at Num. xix.). This question the priests also answered 
correctly. According to Num. xix. 22, he who was defiled by 
touching a dead body made everything unclean that he touched. 
The prophet now applies these provisions of the law to the 
ethical relation in which the people stood to Jehovah. " So is 
this people before me, saith Jehovah." s ^n is quite synonymous 
with Dyn, as in Zeph. ii. 9, without any subordinate meaning of 
a contemptuous kind, which could at the most be contained in 
hazzeh (this), but in that case would apply to ha dm just as 
well. Ken, ita, refers to the substance of the two legal questions 
in vers. 12 and 13. The nation, in its attitude towards the 
Lord, resembles, on the one hand, a man who carries holy flesh 
in the lappet of his garment, and on the other hand, a man 

1 Luther: " in the geren of his dress." The gehren, or gehre, middle 
high German gere, old high German kero (English (/oar), is a triangular 
piece, forming the gusset of a dress or shirt, then that portion of the dress 
in which it is inserted, viz. below the waist, probably derived from the 
Gothic gdis, and the conjectural root geisan = to thrust or strike (AYeigand, 
Germ. Diet.}. 

CHAP. II. 15-17. 205 

who has become unclean through touching a corpse. " Israel 
also possesses a sanctuary in the midst of its land, namely, 
the place which Jehovah has chosen for His own abode, and 
favoured with many glorious promises. But just as no kind 
of food, neither bread nor vegetables, neither wine nor oil, is 
sanctified by the fact that a man touches it with his sanctified 
garment, so will all this not be rendered holy by the fact that 
it is planted in the soil of the land which surrounds and en 
closes the sanctuary of Jehovah. For though the land itself 
becomes a holy land in consequence, it cannot spread this holi 
ness any further, nor communicate it to what grows upon it. 
All that Israel raises on its holy land, whether corn, wine, or 
oil, remains unholy or common. No special blessing rests upon 
the fruits of this land, on account of the holiness of the land 
itself, so as of necessity to produce fruitfulness as its result ; 
nor, on the other hand, does it in itself communicate any curse. 
But if, as experience shows, a curse is resting notwithstanding 
upon the productions of this land, it arises from the fact that 
they are unclean because Israel has planted them. For Israel 
is utterly unclean on account of its neglect of the house of 
Jehovah, like a man who has become unclean through touching 
a corpse. Everything that Israel takes hold of, or upon which 
it lays its hand, everything that it plants and cultivates, is from 
the very first affected with the curse of uncleanness; and conse 
quently even the sacrifices which it offers there upon the altar of 
Jehovah are unclean" (Koehler). Sham, there, i.e. upon the altar 
built immediately after the return from Babylon (Ezra iii. 3). 

The prophet explains these words in vers. 15-19 by repre 
senting the failure of the crops, and the curse that has hitherto 
prevailed, as a punishment from God for having been wanting 
in faithfulness to the Lord (vers. 15-17), and promises that from 
that time forward the blessing of God shall rest upon them 
again (vers. 18, 19). Ver. 15. "And now, direct your heart 
from this day and onward, before stone was laid to stone at the 
temple of Jehovah. Ver. 16. Before this was, did one come to 
the heap of sheaves of twenty (in measure), there were ten : did 
he come to the vat to draw fifty buckets, there ivere twenty. 
Ver. 17. / have smitten you with blasting, and with mildew, and 
with hail, all the work of your hands; and not one of you (turned) 
to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The object to which they are 

200 KAGGAI. 

to direct their heart, i.e. to give heed, is not to be supplied 
from ch. i. 5, 7, " to your ways " (Ros. and others), but is 
contained substantially in vers. 16 and 17, and is first of all 
indicated in the words " from this day," etc. They are to 
notice what has taken place from this day onwards. n ?VPJ 
lit. upwards, then further on. Here it is used not in the sense 
of forwards into the future, but, as the explanatory clause 
which follows (from before, etc.) clearly shows, in that of back 
wards into the past. Hitter em, literally " from the not yet of 
the laying . . . onwards," i.e. onwards from the time when stone 
was laid upon stone at the temple ; in other words, when the 
building of the temple was resumed, backwards into the past : 
in reality, therefore, the time before the resuming of the build 
ing of the temple : for min in mitterem cannot be taken in any 
other sense than in the parallel &i s & which precedes it, and 
Dnvnp which follows in ver. 16. The objection which Koehler 
raises to this cannot be sustained. Dnvnp, from their existence 
(backwards). Most of the modern commentators take the suffix 
as referring to a noun, ydmlm (days), to be supplied from 
ver. 15; but it appears much simpler to take it as a neuter, 
as Mark and others do, in the sense of " before these things 
were or were done, viz. this day, and this work of laying stone 
upon stone," etc. The meaning is not doubtful, viz. looking 
backwards from the time when the building of the temple 
was resumed, in other words, before the point of time. N3 
commences a new sentence, in which facts that they had ex 
perienced are cited, the verb N2 being used conditionally, and 
forming the protasis, the apodosis to which is given in nrvrn. 
If one came to a heap of sheaves of twenty measures (s e dh is 
probably to be supplied : LXX. crara), they became ten. A 
heap of sheaves ( aremdk as in Ruth iii. 7), from which they 
promised themselves twenty measures, yielded, when threshed, 
no more than ten, i.e. only the half of what they expected. 
They experienced just the same at the pressing of the grapes. 
Instead of fifty buckets, which they expected, they obtained 
only twenty. Yeqebh was the vat into which the juice flowed 
when pressed out of the grapes. Chdsaph, lit. to lay bare, here 
to draw out, as in Isa. xxx. 14 : and purdh, in Isa. Ixiii. 3, 
the pressing-trough, here a measure, probably the measure 
which was generally obtained from one filling of the wine- 

CHAP. II. 18, 19. 207 

press with grapes (LXX. yLter/j^r^). Ver. 17 gives the reason 
why so small a result was yielded by the threshing-floor and 
wine-press. Jehovah smote you with blasting and mildew. 
These words are a reminiscence of Amos iv. 9, to which 
passage the last words of the verse also refer. To the disease 
of the corn there is also added the hail w r hich smote the vines, 
as in Ps. Ixxviii. 47. Eth kol-ma a*eh, all the labour of the 
hands, i.e. all that they had cultivated with great toil, is a 
second accusative, " which mentions the portion smitten " 
(Hitzig). The perfectly unusual construction vN D^nx px does 
not stand for K 03? fK, non fuit in vobis qui (Vulg.), nor is 
Djnx used for tajnK, " with you ;" but CDnN pK either stands for 
CD^tf, the suffix which was taken as a verbal suffix used as an ac 
cusative being resolved into the accusative (cf. Ewald, 262, d) ; 
or it is the accusative used in the place of the subject, that is 
to say, riK is to be taken in the sense of u as regards," quoad 
(Ewald, 277, p. 683) : "as far as you are concerned, there 
was not (one) turning himself to me." vN, to me, sc. turning 
himself or being converted ; though there is no necessity to 
supply B" 1 ?^, as the idea is implied in the word 7N, as in Hos. 
iii. 3 and 2 Kings vi. 11. 

After this appeal to lay to heart the past time during which 
the blessing had been withheld, Haggai called upon the people 
in vers. 18 and 19 to fix their eyes upon the time which was 
commencing with that very day. Ver. 18. " Direct your 
hearty then, from this day and onward, from the four and twen 
tieth day of the ninth (month); namely, from the day when the 
foundation of the temple of Jehovah was laid, direct your heart. 
Ver. 19. Is the seed still in the granary ? and even to the vine, 
and pomegranate, and olive-tree, it has not borne : from this day 
forward will I bless" The twenty-fourth day of the ninth 
month was the day on which Haggai uttered this word of God 
(ver. 10). Hence ""y-P^J i n ver 18 is to be understood as denot 
ing the direction towards the future (Itala, Vulg., and many 
comm.). This is evident partly from the fact, that only in 
that case can the repetition of B3??3 ^^ m ver - ^ ( eRC 0> 
and the careful announcement of the point of time (from the 
twenty-fourth day, etc.), be simply and naturally explained, and 
partly from the fact that min hay y dm hazzeli (from this day) 
is not explained here, as in ver. 15, by a clause pointing back to 


the past (like mitterem sum in ver. 15), but simply by a precise 
notice of the day referred to, and that in the last clause of 
ver. 19 this day is clearly described as the commencement of a 
new era. For there can be no doubt whatever that in min 
hay y dm hazzeh in ver. 19 the terminus a quo mentioned in 
ver. ISa is resumed. But the time mentioned in ver. 18, 
"from the day that the foundation of the temple was laid," etc., 
and also the contents of the first two clauses of ver. 19, to the 
effect that there was no more seed in the granary, and that 
the vine, etc., had not borne, do not appear to harmonize with 
this. To remove the first of these difficulties, Ros., Maurer, 
Ewald, and others have taken 1D)~1E>S D5 8 n |p^ as the terminus 
ad quern, and connected it with the foregoing terminus a quo : 
" observe the time," which reaches back from the present dav, 
the twenty-fourth of the ninth month, to the day when the 
foundation of the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus (Ezra 
iii. 10). They have thus taken JO? in the sense of *Un. But it 
is now generally admitted that this is at variance with the usage 
of the language ; even Ewald and Gesenius acknowledge this 
(see Ew., Lehrbuch, 218, b, and Ges. Thes. p. 807). |$ is 
never equivalent to "W or "T^ : , but invariably forms the antithesis 
to it (compare, for example, Judg. xix. 30, 2 Sam. vii. 6, and 
Mic. vii. 12). Now, since l e min hayyom cannot mean " to the 
time commencing with the laying of the foundation of the 
temple," but must mean " from the day when the foundation of 
the temple was laid," Hitzig and Koehler have taken til DVii JD^ 
as an explanatory apposition to til B^b^J D ^P ? and assume that 
through this apposition the twenty-fourth day of the ninth 
month, in the second year of Darius, is expressly designated as 
the day on which the foundation was laid for the temple of 
Jehovah. But this assumption is not only in direct contradic 
tion to Ezra iii. 10, where it is stated that the foundation of 
the temple was laid in the reign of Cyrus, in the second year 
after the return from Babylon, but also makes the prophet 
Haggai contradict himself in a manner which can only be 
poorly concealed by any quid pro quo at variance with the lan 
guage, viz. (a) by identifying the words of ver. 15, "when 
stone was laid to stone at the temple of Jehovah," which, ac 
cording to their simple meaning, express the carrying on or 
continuance of the building, with the laying of the foundation- 

CHAP. II. 18, 19. 209 

stone; secondly (b) 9 by understanding the statement, "they 
did work at the house of Jehovah on the twenty-fourth day 
of the sixth month " (ch. i. 14, 15), not according to its natural 
meaning as relating to their building upon the foundation 
already laid, but as signifying the removal of the rubbish and 
the procuring of wood and stone, that is to say, as referring 
to the preparations for building ; and lastly (c), by explaining 
Hi *l& iBte in ver. 19 as signifying the laying of a fresh 
or second foundation. These assumptions are so forced, that 
if there were not a simpler and easier way of removing the 
difficulty raised, we would rather assume that there had been 
a corruption of the text. But the thing is not so desperate 
as this. In the first place, we must pronounce the opinion 
that til Di s n |E& is an explanatory apposition to til D^JJ &^P 
an unfounded one. The position of the athnach in "OT-rt fur 
nishes no tenable proof of this. Nor can the assumption 
that Vmin is synonymous with min be sustained. In support 
of the statement, " that Vmin only differs from min in the 
greater emphasis with which it is spoken," Ewald ( 218, b) 
has merely adduced this passage, Hag. ii. 18, which is sup 
posed to exhibit this with especial clearness, but in which, 
as we have just shown, such an assumption yields no appro 
priate meaning. \o? followed by *W or lift does indeed occur 
in several instances in such a connection, that it appears to be 
used instead of the simple min. But if we look more closely 
at the passages (e.g. Ex. xi. 7 ; Judg. xix. 30 ; 2 Sam. vii. 6), 
the ? is never superfluous ; and l e min is simply used in cases 
where the definition so introduced is not closely connected with 
what goes before, but is meant to be brought out as an inde 
pendent assertion or additional definition, so that in all such 
cases the p " has the peculiar force of a brief allusion to some 
thing not to be overlooked, a retrospective glance at the sepa 
rate parts, or a rapid summary of the whole, like our with 
regard to/ as regards (Lat. quoad) " and it only fails to 
correspond entirely to this, " from the fact that ^ is only ex 
pressible in the softest manner, and indeed in our language 
can hardly be expressed in words at all, though it quite per 
ceptibly yields this sense" (Ewald, 310). nvpp^ is also used 
in this sense in Dan. i. 18 instead of HVplp (ver. 15), whilst 
in other cases (e.g. in pirno^ j n 2 Sam. vii. 19) it indicates the 


210 HAGGAI. 

direction to a place or towards an object (Ewald, 218, 1). 1 In 
the verse before us, the ? before |E> corresponds exactly to the 
German anlangend, betrefend, concerning, as to, sc. the time, 
from the day when the foundation of the temple was laid, and is 
used to give prominence to this assertion, and by the prominence 
given to it to preclude any close connection between the defini 
tion of the time so introduced and what goes before, and to 
point to the fact that the following definition contains a fresh 
subject of discourse. The expression &???? W & 9 which closes 
the sentence commencing with Di s n w? 9 and which would be 
somewhat tautological and superfluous, if the day of the laying 
of the foundation of the temple coincided with the twenty- 
fourth day of the ninth month, also points to this. What space 
of time it is to which Haggai gives prominence in these words, 
as one which they are to lay to heart, is shown in ver. 19, "Is 
the seed still in the granary ? " etc. That this question is not to 
be taken in the sense of a summons to proceed now with good 
heart to sow the summer crops, which were not sown till 
January, and therefore were still in the granary, as Hitzig sup 
poses, has been pointed out by Koehler, who also correctly 
observes that the prophet first of all reminds his hearers of the 
mournful state of things in the past (not "in the present," as he 
says), that they may thoroughly appreciate the promise for the 
future. For even if the question to be answered with " no," viz. 
whether the corn is still in the granary, were to be referred to 
the present, what follows, viz. that the fruit-trees have not borne, 
would not suit this, since not having borne is a past thing, even 
if it merely related to the last year, although there is no ground 
for any such limitation of the words. And if in ver. 19 the 
prophet directs the attention of his hearers to the past, we must 
also understand the chronological datum immediately preceding 
as relating to the past as well, and must assume that the words 

1 Koehler s objection to this explanation of I merachoq, viz. that with 
the verb dibber, the object concerning which a person is spoken to, is 
never introduced with the preposition $>, is groundless. " With verbs of 
speaking ^ yields the same double meaning as i>tf, according to the con 
text," i.e. it can denote the person spoken to, and the person or thing to 
which the speaking refers, or about which a person is speaking (cf. Gen. 
xxi. 7 ; Num. xxiii. 23 ; Isa. v. 1 ; Mic. ii. 6 ; Jer. xxiii. 9 ; Ps. iii. 3, xi. 1, 
xxvii. 8 ; and Ewald, 217, c). 

CHAP. II. 18, 19., 211 

from Qi s n }E7 in ver. 18 to KE>J K? in ver. 19 contain a paren 
thetical thought ; that is to say, we must assume that the pro 
phet, in order to set clearly before their minds the difference 
between the past when the building of the temple was sus 
pended, and the future commencing with that very day, before 
promising the blessing of God to be enjoyed in the future, 
directs another look at the past, and that from the time of the 
laying of the foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus 
to his own time, and reminds them once more of the want of 
blessing which they had experienced from that time forth even 
to the present time. Koehler s objection to this view cannot 
be sustained. He says, " The Jews are to observe the time from 
that day forward, namely,, from the twenty-fourth day of the 
ninth month (backwards) ; the time from the laying of the 
foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus (forwards). . . . 
Such a mode of expression seems utterly out of place." But 
this only affects the erroneous assumption, that the definition 
"from the day of the laying of the foundation of the temple" 
is merely a more precise explanation of the previous definition, 
from the twenty-fourth day of the ninth month, and falls to 
the ground of itself as soon as these two definitions are sepa 
rated, as the expression and the matter in hand require. The 
second objection namely, that the day of the laying of the 
foundation of the temple in the reign of Cyrus does not suit 
as a terminus a quo for the commencement of the withdrawal 
of the divine favour, or for the infliction of a curse upon the 
people, inasmuch as the Jews were not punished because they 
laid the foundation for the house of Jehovah, but simply be 
cause they neglected the house of God, that is to say, because 
they desisted from the building they had already begun is 
one that would have some force if an interval of at least one or 
more years had elapsed between the laying of the foundation 
of the temple and the suspension of the building. But if the 
work of building was interrupted immediately after the foun 
dation had been laid, as is evident from Ezra iii. 10, as com 
pared with ch. iv., Haggai might with perfect propriety describe 
the whole time from the laying of the foundation of the temple 
in the reign of Cyrus to the twenty-fourth day of the ninth 
month of the second year of Darius as a time without blessing, 
without there being any necessity for him expressly to deduct 

212 HAGGAI. 

the few weeks which elapsed between the laying of the 
foundation-stone and the suspension of the work of building, 
any more than the last three months, in which the work had 
been resumed again. The last three months could hardly be 
taken into account, because they fell for the most part in the 
period after the last harvest ; so that if this had proved to be a 
bad one, the cause would be still in force. The prophet could 
therefore very properly inquire whether the seed was still in 
the granary, to w r hich they would be obliged to answer No, 
because the miserable produce of the harvest was already either 
consumed for the supply of their daily wants, or used up for 
the sowing which was just ended. JHT, seed, is not what is 
sown, but what the sowing yields, the corn, as in Lev. xxvii. 30, 
Isa. xxiii. 3, Job xxxix. 12. M e gurdh = mamm e gurdh in Joel 
i. 17, a barn or granary, from gur, ayeipeaOcu, congregari. The 
following words, U1 jsanijn, are really appended to the thought 
contained implicite in the first clause : the corn has not borne, 
and even to the vine, etc., it has borne nothing. NJ?J is in 
definite : it has not borne = has borne nothing. It shall be 
different in future. From this day, i.e. from the twenty-fourth 
day of the ninth month, Jehovah will bless again, i.e. grant a 
blessing, namely, so that fruitful seasons will come again, and 
fields and fruit-trees bear once more. There is no necessity to 
supply a definite object to 

Ver. 20. On the same day on which the Lord promised to the 
people the return of the blessings of nature, Haggai received a 
second revelation, which promised to the community the pre 
servation and care of the Daviclic monarchy, represented for 
the time by Zerubbabel, in the midst of the storms that were 
about to burst upon the power of the world. Ver. 21. "Speak 
to Zerubbabel the governor of Judah thus: I shake the heaven and 
the earth. Ver. 22. And I will overthrow the throne of the king 
doms ; and destroy the might of the kingdoms of the nations ; and 
will overthrow the war-chariots, and those who ride in them : and 
horses and their riders shall fall, one by the sword of the other. 
Ver. 23. On that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, will I 
take thee, Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, my servant, is the sayiny 
of Jehovah, and make thee as a signet-ring : for I have chosen 

CHAP. II. 21-23. 213 

thee, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts" Btynp ^K does not 
stand for >T!P \jjri, but the participial clause is to be taken as 
a circumstantial clause : If I shake heaven and earth, I over 
throw (cf. Ewald, 341, c and d). The words point back to 
the shaking of the world predicted in vers. 6, 7. When this 
shaking takes place, then shall the throne of the kingdoms be 
thrown down, and their might be destroyed. The singular NS3 
is used collectively, or rather distributively : " every throne of 
the kingdoms." The throne is the symbol of the monarchy, or 
of the government (cf. Dan. vii. 27) ; not in this sense, how 
ever, that " the prophet regarded all the kingdoms of the earth 
as one combined power in contradistinction to the people of 
God, or as a single power, as the power of the world, which 
was sitting as mistress at the time upon the throne of the 
earth" (Koehler). The plural mamldkhotli does not agree with 
this, since every kingdom had both a king and a throne. The 
continuance of this throne rests upon the strength (cJiozeq) of 
the heathen kingdoms, and this again upon their military power, 
their war-chariots, horses, and riders. These are to be overthrown 
and fall to the ground, and indeed by one another s swords. 
One hostile kingdom will destroy another, and in the last conflict 
the heathen hosts will annihilate one another (compare Ezek. 
xxxviii. 21 ; Zech. xiv. 13). At that time, when the dominion 
of the heathen had thus collapsed, Jehovah would take Zerub- 
babel and set or make him as a signet-ring. The verb eqqach 
(will I take) simply serves to introduce the following act as 
one of importance, as for example in Deut. iv. 20 and 2 Kings 
xiv. 21. The meaning of the figurative expression, to make 
Zerubbabel as a signet-ring, is evident from the importance of 
the signet-ring in the eyes of an oriental, who is accustomed to 
carry his signet-ring constantly about with him, and to take 
care of it as a very valuable possession. It is introduced with 
the same idea in the Song of Sol. viii. 6, " Lay me as a signet- 
ring upon thy breast, as a signet-ring in thine arms ;" and it 
is in the same sense that Jehovah says of Jehoiachin in Jer. 
xxii. 24, " Though Coniah the son of Jehoiakim were even a 
signet-ring upon my right hand, i.e. a possession from which it 
would be thought impossible that I should separate myself, 
yet would I tear thee away from thence." Hence we obtain 
this thought for our present passage, namely, that on the 

214 HAGGAI. 

day on which Jehovah would overthrow the kingdoms of the 
nations, He would make Zerubbabel like a signet-ring, which 
is inseparable from its possessor; that is to say, He would 
give him a .position in which he would be and remain in 
separably connected \vith Him (Jehovah), would therefore not 
cast him off, but take care of him as His valuable posses 
sion. This is the explanation given by Koehler (after Calvin, 
Osiander, and others) ; and he has also refuted the various 
explanations that differ from it. But in order clearly to under 
stand the meaning of this promise, we must look at the position 
which Zerubbabel occupied in the community of Israel on its 
return from exile. For we may at the outset assume that the 
promise did not apply to his own particular person, but rather 
to the official post he held, from the fact that what is here 
predicted was not to take place till after the overthrow of the 
throne and might of all the kingdoms of the heathen, and 
therefore could not take place in Zerubbabel s lifetime, inas 
much as, although the fall of this or the other kingdom might 
be looked for in the course of one generation, the overthrow 
of all kingdoms and the coming of all the heathen to fill the 
temple of the Lord with their possessions (ver. 7) certainly could 
not. Zerubbabel was (Persian) governor in Judah, and had no 
doubt been selected for this office because he was prince of 
Judah (Ezra i. 8), and as son of Shealtiel was a descendant of 
the family of David (see at ch. i. 1). Consequently the sove 
reignty of David in its existing condition of humiliation, under 
the sovereignty of the imperial power, was represented and 
preserved in his appointment as prince and governor of Judah, 
so that the fulfilment of the divine promise of the eternal per 
petuation of the seed of David and his kingdom was then 
associated with Zerubbabel, and rested upon the preservation 
of his family. Hence the promise points to the fact, that at the 
time when Jehovah would overthrow the heathen kingdoms, 
Pie would maintain and take good care of the sovereignty of 
David in the person of Zerubbabel. For Jehovah had chosen 
Zerubbabel as His servant. With these words the Messianic 
promise made to David was transferred to Zerubbabel and his 
family among David s descendants, and would be fulfilled in 
his person in just the same way as the promise given to David, 
that God would make him the highest among the kings of the 

CHAP. II. 21-23. 215 

earth (Ps. Ixxxix. 27). The fulfilment culminates in Jesus 
Christ, the son of David and descendant of Zerubbabel (Matt, 
i. 12 ; Luke iii. 27), in whom Zerubbabel was made the signet- 
ring of Jehovah. Jesus Christ has raised up the kingdom of 
His father David again, and of His kingdom there will be no 
end (Luke i. 32, 33). Even though it may appear oppressed 
and deeply humiliated for the time by the power of the king 
doms of the heathen, it will never be crushed and destroyed, 
but will break in pieces all these kingdoms, and destroy them, 
and will itself endure for ever (Dan. ii. 44 ; Heb. xii. 28 ; 1 Cor. 
xv. 24). 



: ". :: f >-;::: 


14), and th 
paxtfy from 

winch are 
that Zech 

Joshua, and to 
huan to Cyra 

are oot worth n 


n the 

Jeremiah and Eaekiel, 
tacfa ti, and grandson of 
he adaatiy Eaadn, thai 
babel and Joshua (Neh. 
in that office under the 
:r:- vrhi::: it h^s beoi 
m Babylon while still a 
g. Tnis also probably 
-;: is ::- :,:- V.f/ A 
. 1 ^ri ti 14. M! BBl 
?ri :.:5 rr::hf:i: ~..i:; 

Ezra T. 1, ri. 
we may mf er 
am the eithet 



his prophetic labours lasted. We simply know from ch. vii. 1, 
that in the fourth year of Darius he announced a further 
revelation from God to the people, and that his last two oracles 
(ch. ix.-xiv.) fall within a still later period. All that the 
fathers are able to state with regard to the closing portion of 
his life is, that he died at an advanced age, and was buried 
near to Haggai ; whilst the contradictory statement, in a Cod. 
of Epiph., to the effect that he was slain under Joash king of 
Judah, between the temple and the altar, has simply arisen 
from our prophet being confounded with the Zechariah men 
tioned in 2 Chron. xxiv. 20-23. 

2. THE BOOK OF ZECHARIAH contains, besides the brief 
word of God, which introduces his prophetic labours (ch. i. 1- 6), 
four longer prophetic announcements : viz. (1) a series of seven 
visions, which Zechariah saw during the night, on the twenty- 
fourth day of the eleventh month, in the second year of Darius 
(ch. i. 7-vi. 8), together with a symbolical transaction, which 
brought the visions to a close (vi. 9-15) ; (2) the communication 
to the people of the answer of the Lord to a question addressed 
to the priests and prophets by certain Judseans as to their con 
tinuing any longer to keep the day appointed for commemorating 
the burning of the temple and Jerusalem by the Chaldaeans as 
a fast-day, which took place in the fourth year of Darius (ch. vii. 
and viii.) ; (3) a burden, i.e. a prophecy of threatening import, 
concerning the land of Hadrach, the seat of the ungodly world- 
power (ch. ix.-xi.) ; and (4) a burden concerning Israel (ch. 
xii.-xiv.). The last two oracles, which are connected together 
by the common epithet massd\ are distinguished from the first 
two announcements not only by the fact that the headings 
contain neither notices as to the time, nor the prophet s name, 
but also by the absence of express allusions to the circumstances 
of Zechariah s own times, however unmistakeably the circum 
stances of the covenant nation after the captivity form the his 
torical background of these prophecies also ; whilst there is in 
general such a connection between their contents and the pro 
phetic character of the night-visions, that ch. ix. xiv. might be 
called a prophetic description of the future of the kingdom of 
God, in its conflict with the kingdoms of the world, as seen in 
the night-visions. For example, in the night- visions, as a sequel 


to Haggai, who had predicted two months before the overthrow 
of the might of all the kingdoms of the world and the preserva 
tion of Zerubbabel in the midst of that catastrophe (Hag. ii. 
20-23), the future development of the kingdom of God is 
unfolded to the prophet in its principal features till its final 
completion in glory. The first vision shows that the shaking 
of the kingdoms of the world predicted by Haggai will soon 
occur, notwithstanding the fact that the whole earth is for the 
time still quiet and at rest, and that Zion will be redeemed from 
its oppression, and richly blessed (ch. i. 7-17). The realization 
of this promise is explained in the following visions : in the 
second (ii. 1-4), the breaking in pieces of the kingdoms of the 
world, by the four smiths who threw down the horns of the 
nations ; in the third (ch. ii. 5-17), the spread of the kingdom 
of God over the whole earth, through the coming of the Lord 
to His people ; in the fourth (ch. iii.), the restoration of the 
church to favour, through the wiping away of its sins ; in the 
fifth (ch. iv.), the glorifying of the church through the com 
munication of the gifts of the Spirit ; in the sixth (ch. v.), the 
sifting out of sinners from the kingdom of God ; in the seventh 
(ch. vi. 1-8), the judgment, through which God refines and 
renews the sinful world ; and lastly, in the symbolical trans 
action which closes the visions (ch. vi. 9-15), the completion of 
the kingdom of God by the Sprout of the Lord, who combines 
in His own person the dignity of both priest and king. If we 
compare with these the last two oracles, in ch. ix.-xi. we have 
first of all a picture of the judgment upon the kingdoms of the 
world, and of the establishment of the Messianic kingdom, 
through the gathering together of the scattered members of the 
covenant nation, and their exaltation to victory over the heathen 
(ch. ix. x.), and secondly, a more minute description of the 
attitude of the Lord towards the covenant nation and the 
heathen world (ch. xi.) ; and in ch. xii.-xiv. we have an an 
nouncement of the conflict of the nations of the world with 
Jerusalem, of the conversion of Israel to the Messiah, whom it 
once rejected and put to death (ch. xii. xiii.) ; and lastly, of the 
final attack of the heathen world upon the city of God, with its 
consequences, namely, the purification and transfiguration of 
Jerusalem into a holy dwelling-place of the Lord, as King over 
the whole earth (ch. xiv.) ; so that in both oracles the develop- 


ment of the Old Testament kingdom of God is predicted until 
its completion in the kingdom of God, which embraces the whole 
earth. The revelation from God, which stands between these 
two principal parts, concerning the continuance of the fast-days 
(ch. vii. viii.), does indeed divide the two from one another, both 
chronologically and externally ; but substantially it forms the 
connecting link between the two, inasmuch as this word of God 
impresses upon the people the condition upon which the attain 
ment of the glorious future set before them in the night-visions 
depends, and thereby prepares them for the conflicts which Israel 
will have to sustain according to the announcement in ch. ix.- 
xiv., until the completion of the kingdom of God in glory. 

Thus all the parts of the book hang closely together ; and 
the objection which modern critics have offered to the unity of 
the book has arisen, not from the nature of the last two longer 
oracles (ch. ix.-xiv.), but partly from the dogmatic assumption 
of the rationalistic and naturalistic critics, that the biblical 
prophecies are nothing more than the productions of natural 
divination, and partly from the inability of critics, in conse 
quence of this assumption, to penetrate into the depths of 
the divine revelation, and to grasp either the substance or 
form of their historical development, so as to appreciate it 
fully. 1 The current opinion of these critics, that the chapters 
in question date from the time before the captivity viz. ch. 
ix.-xi. from a contemporary of Isaiah, and ch. xii.-xiv. from 
the last period before the destruction of the kingdom of Judah 
is completely overthrown by the circumstance, that even in 
these oracles the condition of the covenant nation after the 
captivity forms the historical ground and starting-point for the 
proclamation and picture of the future development of the 
kingdom of God. The covenant nation in its two parts, into 
which it had been divided since the severance of the king 
dom at the death of Solomon, had been dispersed among the 
heathen like a flock without a shepherd (ch. x. 2). It is true 
that Judah had already partially returned to Jerusalem and the 
cities of Judah ; but the daughter Zion had still "prisoners of 

1 For the history of these attacks upon the genuineness of the last part 
of Zechariah, and of the vindication of its genuineness, with the argu 
ments pro and cow, see my Lehrluch der Einleitung, 103, and Koehler s 
Zechariah, ii. p. 297 sqq. 


hope" waiting for release (ch. ix. 11, 12, compared with ch. 
ii. 10, 11), and the house of Joseph or Ephraim was still to be 
gathered and saved (ch. x. 6-10). Moreover, the severance of 
Judah and Ephraim, which lasted till the destruction of both 
kingdoms, had ceased. The eye of Jehovah is now fixed 
upon all the tribes of Israel (ch. ix. 1) ; Judah and Ephraim 
are strengthened by God for a common victorious conflict with 
the sons of Javan (ix. 13) ; the Lord their God grants salva 
tion to His people as a flock (ix. 16 compared with viii. 13) ; 
the shepherd of the Lord feeds them both as a single flock, 
and only abolishes the brotherhood between Judah and Israel 
by the breaking of his second staff (ch. xi. 14). Hence the 
jealousy between Judah and Ephraim, the cessation of which 
was expected in the future by the prophets before the captivity 
(cf. Isa. xi. 13 ; Hos. ii. 2 ; Ezek. xxxvii. 15 sqq.), is extinct ; 
and all that remains of the severance into two kingdoms is the 
epithet house of Judah or house of Israel, which Zechariah uses 
not only in ch. ix.-xi., but also in the appeal in ch. viii. 13, 
which no critic has called in question. All the tribes form one 
nation, which dwells in the presence of the prophet in Jeru 
salem and Judah. Just as in the first part of our book Israel 
consists of Judah and Jerusalem (i. 19, cf. ii. 12), so in the 
second part the burden pronounced upon Israel (xii. 1) falls 
upon Jerusalem and Judah (xii. 2, 5 sqq., xiv. 2, 14) ; and 
just as, according to the night-visions, the imperial power has 
its seat in the land of the north and of the south (ch. vi. 6), 
so in the last oracles Asshur (the north land) and Egypt (the 
south land) are types of the heathen world (ch. x. 10). And 
when at length the empire of the world which is hostile to God 
is more precisely defined, it is called Javan, an epithet taken 
from Dan. viii. 21, which points as clearly as possible to the 
times after the captivity, inasmuch as the sons of Javan never 
appear as enemies of the covenant nation before the captivity, 
even when the Tyrians and Philistines are threatened with 
divine retribution for having sold to the Javanites the prisoners 
of Judah and Jerusalem (Joel iii. 6). 

On the other hand, the differences which prevail between 
the first two prophecies of Zechariah and the last two are not 
of such a character as to point to two or three different pro 
phets. It is true that in ch. ix.-xiv. there occur no visions, no 


angels taking an active part, no Satan, no seven eyes of God ; 
but Amos also, for example, has only visions in the second 
part, and none in the first ; whilst the first part of Zechariah 
contains not only visions, but also, in ch. i. 1-6, ch. vii. and 
viii., simple prophetic addresses, and symbolical actions not 
only in ch. vi. 9-15, but also in ch. xi. 4-17. The angels and 
Satan, which appear in the visions, are also absent from ch. 
vii. and viii. ; whereas the angel of Jehovah is mentioned in 
the last part in ch. xii. 8, and the saints in ch. xiv. 5 are angels. 
The seven eyes of God are only mentioned in two visions (ch. 
iii. 9 and iv. 10) ; and the providence of God is referred to in 
ch. ix. 1, 8, under the epithet of the eye of Jehovah. This 
also applies to the form of description and the language em 
ployed in the two parts. The visionary sights are described in 
simple prose, as the style most appropriate for such descriptions. 
The prophecies in word are oratorical, and to some extent are 
rich in bold figures and similes. This diversity in the pro 
phetic modes of presentation was occasioned by the occurrence 
of peculiar facts and ideas, with the corresponding expressions 
and words ; but it cannot be proved that there is any constant 
diversity in the way in which the same thing or the same idea 
is described in the two parts, whereas there are certain unusual 
expressions, such as 3$pn "Qjft? (in ch. vii. 14 and ix. 8) and 
"i^yn in the sense of removere (in ch. iii. 4 and xiii. 2), which 
are common to both parts. Again, the absence of any notice 
as to the time in the headings in ch. ix. 1 and xii. 1 may be 
explained very simply from the fact, that these prophecies of 
the future of the kingdom are not so directly associated with 
the prophet s own time as the visions are, the first of which 
describes the condition of the world in the second year of 
Darius. The omission of the name of the author from the 
headings no more disproves the authorship of the Zechariah 
who lived after the captivity, than the omission of the name 
from Isa. xv. 1, xvii. 1, xix. 1, disproves Isaiah s authorship in 
the case of the chapters named. All the other arguments that 
have been brought against the integrity or unity of authorship 
of the entire book, are founded upon false interpretations and 
misunderstandings; whereas, on the other hand, the integrity of 
the whole is placed beyond the reach of doubt by the testimony 
of tradition, which is to be regarded as of all the greater value 

CHAP. I. 1-6. 223 

ill the case of Zechariah, inasmuch as the collection of the 
prophetic writings, if not of the whole of the Old Testament 
canon, was completed within even less than a generation after 
the prophet s death. 

Zechariah s mode of prophesying presents, therefore, ac 
cording to the cursory survey just given, a very great variety. 
Nevertheless, the crowding together of visions is not to be 
placed to the account of the times after the captivity ; nor can 
any foreign, particularly Babylonian, colouring be detected in 
the visions or in the prophetic descriptions. The habit of 
leaning upon the prophecies of predecessors is not greater in 
his case than in that of many of the prophets before the 
captivity. The prophetic addresses are to some extent rich in 
repetitions, especially in ch. vii. and viii., and tolerably uni 
form ; but in the last two oracles they rise into very bold and 
most original views and figures, which are evidently the pro 
duction of a lively and youthful imagination. This abundance 
of very unusual figures, connected with much harshness of 
expression and transitions without intermediate links, makes 
the work of exposition a very difficult one; so that Jerome and 
the rabbins raise very general, but still greatly exaggerated, 
lamentations over the obscurity of this prophet. The diction 
is, on the whole, free from Chaldaisms, and formed upon the 
model of good earlier writers. For the proofs of this, as well 
as for the exegetical literature, see my Lehrbuch der Einleitung, 
p. 310 sqq. 



The first word of the Lord was addressed to the prophet 
Zechariah in the eighth month of the second year of the reign 
of Darius, and therefore about two months after Haggai s first 
prophecy and the commencement of the rebuilding of the 
temple, which that prophecy was intended to promote (compare 
ver. 1 with Hag. i. 1 and 15), and a few weeks after Haggai s 
prophecy of the great glory which the new temple would 


receive (Hag. ii. 1--9). Just as Haggai encouraged the chiefs 
and the people of Judah to continue vigorously the building 
that had been commenced by this announcement of salvation, 
so Zechariah opens his prophetic labours with the admonition 
to turn with sincerity to the Lord, and with the warning not 
to bring the same punishment upon themselves by falling back 
into the sins of the fathers. This exhortation to repentance, 
although it was communicated to the prophet in the form of a 
special revelation from God, is actually only the introduction 
to the prophecies which follow, requiring thorough repentance 
as the condition of obtaining the desired salvation, and at the 
same time setting before the impenitent and ungodly still 
further heavy judgments. 1 Ver. 1. Bachodesh hassh e mlnl does 
not mean "on the eighth new moon" (Kimchi, Chr. B. Mich., 
Koehl.) ; for chodesh is never used in chronological notices for 
the new moon, or the first new moon s day (see at Ex. xix. 1). 
The day of the eighth month is left indefinite, because this was 
of no importance whatever to the contents of this particular 
address. The word of the Lord was as follows : Ver. 2. 
" Jehovah was angry with wrath concerning your fathers. Ver. 
3. And thou shalt say to them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, 
Return ye to me, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, so will I 
return to you, saith Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 4. Be not like your 
fathers, to whom the former prophets cried, Thus saith Jehovah 
of hosts, Turn now from your evil ways, and from your evil 
actions I But they hearkened not, and paid no attention to me, is 
the saying of Jehovah" The statement in ver. 2 contains the 
ground for the summons to turn, which the prophet is to 
address to the people, and is therefore placed before JjnEiO in 
ver. 3, by which this summons is introduced. Because the 
Lord was very angry concerning the fathers, those who are 
living now are to repent with sincerity of heart. The noun 
qetseph is added as the object to the verb, to give it greater 
force. The nation had experienced the severe anger of God 
at the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, and of Jerusalem 

1 " The prophet is thus instructed by God, that, before exhibiting to 
the nation the rich blessings of God for them to look at under the form of 
symbolical images, he is to declare the duty of His people, or the condition 
upon which it will be becoming in God to grant them an abundant supply 
of these good things." VITRINGA, Comm. in Sach. p. 76. 

CHAP. I. 2-4. 225 

and the temple, and also in exile. The statement in ver. 15, 
that Jehovah was angry Byo, is not at variance with this ; for 
BJtt? does not refer to the strength of the anger, but to its 
duration. Jp.OW. is the perf. with Vav consec., and is used for 
the imperative, because the summons to repentance follows as 
a necessary consequence from the fact stated in ver. 2 (cf. 
Ewald, 342, b and c). Dn/K does not refer to the fathers, 
which might appear to be grammatically the simplest interpre 
tation, but to the contemporaries of the prophet, addressed in 
the pronoun your fathers, the existing generation of Judah. 
"9N init? does not presuppose that the people had just fallen 
away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in 
the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply 
that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a 
thorough conversion of heart. So had Jehovah also turned to 
the people again, and had not only put an end to the suffer 
ings of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had 
returned (compare B?fiK ^K in Hag. i. 13) ; but the more ear 
nestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to Him, the 
more faithfully and the more gloriously would He bestow upon 
them His grace and the promised salvation. This admonition is 
shown to be extremely important by the threefold " saith the 
Lord of Zebaoth," and strengthened still further in ver. 4 by 
the negative turn not to do like the fathers, who cast the admo 
nitions of the prophets to the winds. The " earlier prophets" 
are those before the captivity (cf. ch. vii. 7, 12). The pre 
dicate OWN-} points to the fact that there was a gap between 
Zechariah and his predecessors, namely the period of the exile, 
so that Daniel and Ezekiel, who lived in exile, are overlooked ; 
the former because his prophecies are not admonitions addressed 
to the people, the latter because the greater part of his ministry 
fell in the very commencement of the exile. Moreover, when 
alluding to the admonitions of the earlier prophets, Zechariah 
has not only such utterances in his mind as those in which the 
prophets summoned the people to repentance with the words 
vn 5Q!K> (e.g. Joel ii. 13 ; Hos. xiv. 2, 3 ; Isa. xxxi. 6 ; Jer. 
iii. 12 sqq., vii. 13, etc.), but the admonitions, threatenings, 
and reproofs of the earlier prophets generally (compare 2 Kings 
xvii. 13 sqq.). The chethib wWjJD is to be read DD MyD, a 
plural form D Wlj from nWjj, and is to be retained, since the 



preposition min is wanting in the fart; and this reading has 
probably only arisen from the offence taken at the use of the 
plural form dlllim, which does not occur elsewhere, in the place 
of dliloth, although there are many analogies to such a forma 
tion, and feminine forms frequently have plurals in D^, either 
instead of those in rri or in addition to them. 

A reason for the warning not to resist the words of the 
Lord, like the fathers, is given in vers. 5, 6, by an allusion to 
the fate which they brought upon themselves through their 
disobedience. Ver. 5. " Your fathers, where are they? And 
the prophets, can they live for ever f Ver. 6. Nevertheless my 
words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the 
prophets, did they not overtake your fathers, so that they turned 
and said, As Jehovah purposed to do to us according to our 
ways and our actions, so has He done to us ?" The two ques 
tions in ver. 5 are meant as denials, and are intended to 
anticipate the objection which the people might have raised 
to the admonitions in ver. 4, to the effect that not only the 
fathers, but also the earlier prophets, had died long ago ; and 
therefore an allusion to things that had long since passed by 
could have no force at all for the present generation. Zecha- 
riah neutralizes this objection by saying: Your fathers have 
indeed been long dead, and even the prophets do not, or cannot, 
live for ever ; but notwithstanding this, the words of the earlier 
prophets were fulfilled in the case of the fathers. The words 
and decrees of God uttered by the prophets did reach the 
fathers, so that they were obliged to confess that God had 
really done to them what He threatened, i.e. had carried out 
the threatened punishment. ^^, only, in the sense of a limita 
tion of the thing stated : yet, nevertheless (cf. Evvald, 105, d). 
^y! an d ^P are n t the words of ver. 4, which call to repent 
ance, but the threats and judicial decrees which the earlier 
prophets announced in case of impenitence, ^yi as m Ezek. 
xii. 28, Jer. xxxix. 16. ""jpHj the judicial decrees of God, like 
choq in Zeph. ii. 2. Hissig, to reach, applied to the threatened 
punishments which pursue the sinner, like messengers sent 
after him, and overtake him (cf. Deut. xxviii. 15, 45). Biblical 
proofs that even the fathers themselves did acknowledge that 
the Lord had fulfilled His threatenings in their experience, 
are to be found in the mournful psalms written in captivity 

CHAP. I. 7- VI. 15, 227 

(though not exactly in Ps. cxxvi. and cxxxvii., as Ivoehler sup 
poses), in Lam. ii. 17 (DET 1B>K IW ."TO, upon which Zechariah 
seems to play), and in the penitential prayers of Daniel 
(ix. 4 sqq.) and of Ezra (ix. 6 sqq.), so far as they express the 
feeling which prevailed in the congregation. 

I. THE NIGHT- VISIONS. CHAP. i. 7-vi. 15. 

Three months after his call to be a prophet through the 
first word of God that was addressed to him, Zechariah received 
a comprehensive revelation concerning the future fate of the 
people and kingdom of God, in a series of visions, which were 
given him to behold in a single night, and were interpreted by 
an angel. This took place, according to ver. 7, " on the twenty- 
fourth day of the eleventh month, i.e. the month Shebat, in the 
second year of Darius" that is to say, exactly five months 
after the building of the temple had been resumed (Hag. i. 15), 
with which fact the choice of the day for the divine revelation 
was evidently connected, and two months after the last promise 
issued through Haggai to the people, that the Lord would from 
henceforth bless His nation, and would glorify it in the future 
(Hag. ii. 10-23)* To set forth in imagery this blessing and 
glorification, and to exhibit the leading features of the future 
conformation of the kingdom of God, was the object of these 
visions, which are designated in the introduction as " word of 
Jehovah," because the pictures seen in the spirit, together with 
their interpretation,., had the significance of verbal revelations, 
and are to some extent still further explained by the addition of 
words of God (cf. i. 14 sqq., ii. 10-17). As they were shown 
to the prophet one after another in a single night, so that 
in all probability only short pauses intervened between the 
different views ; so did they present a substantially connected 
picture of the future of Israel, which was linked on to the 
then existing time, and closed with the prospect of the ultimate 
completion of the kingdom of God. 


CHAP. I. 8-17. 

Ver. 8. " I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red 
horse, and he stood among the myrtles which were in the hollow ; 
and behind him red, speckled, and white horses. Ver. 9. And I 
said, What are these, my lord ? Then the angel that talked with 
me said to me, I will show thee what these are. Ver. 10. A nd the 
man who stood among the myrtles answered and said, These are 
they whom Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth. Ver. 11. 
And they answered the angel of Jehovah who stood among the 
myrtles, and said, We have gone through the earth, and, behold, 
the whole earth sits still, and at rest. Ver. 12. Then the angel 
of Jehovah answered and said, Jehovah of hosts, how long wilt 
Thou not have compassion upon Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, 
with whom Thou hast been angry these seventy years ? Ver. 13. 
And Jehovah answered the anqel that talked with me qood words. 

*7 i/ 

comforting words. Ver. 14. And the angel that talked with me said 
to me, Preach, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I have been 
jealous for Jerusalem and Zion with great jealousy, (Ver. 15) 
and with great wrath I am angry against the nations at rest : for 
I had been angry for a little, but they helped for harm. Ver. 16. 
Therefore thus saith Jehovah, I turn again to Jerusalem with com 
passion : my house shall be built in it, is the saying of Jehovah 
of hosts, and the measuring line shall be drawn over Jerusalem. 
Ver. 17. Preach as yet, and say, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, My 
cities shall yet swell over with good, and Jehovah will yet comfort 
Zion, and will yet choose Jerusalem." The prophet sees, during 
the night of the day described in ver. 7 ("W*? is the accusa 
tive of duration), in an ecstatic vision, not in a dream but 
in a waking condition, a rider upon a red horse in a myrtle- 
bush, stopping in a deep hollow, and behind him a number of 
riders upon red, speckled, and white horses (suslm are horses 
with riders, and the reason why the latter are not specially 
mentioned is that they do not appear during the course of 
the vision as taking any active part, whilst the colour of their 
horses is the only significant feature). At the same time 
he also sees, in direct proximity to himself, an angel who 
interprets the vision, and farther off (ver. 11) the angel of 
Jehovah also standing or stopping among the myrtle-bushes, 

CHAP. I. 8-17. 

and therefore in front of the man upon a red horse, to whom 
the riders bring a report, that they have gone through the 
earth by Jehovah s command and have found the whole earth 
quiet and at rest ; whereupon the angel of Jehovah addresses 
a prayer to Jehovah for pity upon Jerusalem and the cities of 
Judah, and receives a good consolatory answer, which the in 
terpreting angel conveys to the prophet, and the latter publicly 
proclaims in vers. 14-17. The rider upon the red horse is not 
to be identified with the angel of Jehovah, nor the latter with 
the angelus interpres. It is true that the identity of the rider 
and the angel of Jehovah, which many commentators assume, 
is apparently favoured by the circumstance that they are both 
standing among the myrtles (*omed, stood ; see vers. 8, 10, arid 
11) ; but all that follows from this is that the rider stopped at 
the place where the angel of Jehovah was standing, i.e. in front 
of him, to present a report to him of the state of the earth, 
which he had gone through with his retinue. This very cir 
cumstance rather favours the diversity of the two, inasmuch 
as it is evident from this that the rider upon the red horse was 
simply the front one, or leader of the whole company, who is 
brought prominently forward as the spokesman and reporter. 
If the man upon the red horse had been the angel of Jehovah 
Himself, and the troop of horsemen had merely come to bring 
information to the man upon the red horse, the troop of horse 
men could not have stood behind him, but would have stood 
either opposite to him or in front of him. And the different 
epithets applied to the two furnish a decisive proof that the 
angel of the Lord and " the angel that talked with me " are 
not one and the same. The angel, who gives or conveys to the 
prophet the interpretation of the vision, is constantly called 
" the angel that talked with me," not only in ver. 9, where it is 
preceded by an address on the part of the prophet to this same 
angel, but also in vers. 13 and 14, and in the visions which 
follow (ch. ii. 2, 7, iv. 1, 4, v. 5, 10, vi. 4), from which it is 
perfectly obvious that ^ "D^n denotes the function which this 
angel performs in these visions (dibber b e , signifying the speak 
ing of God or of an angel within a man, as in Hos. i. 2, Hab. 
ii. 1, Num. xii. 6, 8). His occupation, therefore, was to inter 
pret the visions to the prophet, and convey the divine revela 
tions, so that he was only an angelus interpres or collocutor. 


This angel appears in the other visions in company with other 
angels, and receives instructions from them (ch. ii. 5-8) ; and 
his whole activity is restricted to the duty of conveying higher 
instructions to the prophet, and giving him an insight into the 
meaning of the visions, whereas the angel of Jehovah stands on 
an equality with God, being sometimes identified with Jehovah, 
and at other times distinguished from Him. (Compare the 
remarks upon this subject in the comm. on Genesis, Pent. i. 
p. 185 sqq.) In the face of these facts, it is impossible to esta 
blish the identity of the two by the arguments that have been 
adduced in support of it. It by no means follows from ver. 9, 
where the prophet addresses the mediator as " my lord," that 
the words are addressed to the angel of the Lord ; for neither 
he nor the angelus interpres has been mentioned before ; and 
in the visions persons are frequently introduced as speaking, 
according to their dramatic character, without having been 
mentioned before, so that it is only from what they say or do 
that it is possible to discover who they are. Again, the circum 
stance that in ver. 12 the angel of the Lord presents a petition 
to the Supreme God on behalf of the covenant nation, and that 
according to ver. 13 Jehovah answers the angelus interpres in 
good, comforting words, does not prove that he who receives 
the answer must be the same person as the intercessor : for it 
might be stated in reply to this, as it has been by Vitringa, 
that Zechariah has simply omitted to mention that the answer 
was first of all addressed to the angel of the Lord, and that 
it was through him that it reached the mediating angel ; or 
we might assume, as Hengstenberg has done, that " Jehovah 
addressed the answer directly to the mediating angel, because 
the angel of the Lord had asked the question, not for his own 
sake, but simply for the purpose of conveying consolation and 
hope through the mediator to the prophet, and through him to 
the nation generally." 

There is no doubt that, in this vision, both the locality in 
which the rider upon the red horse, with his troop, and the 
angel of the Lord had taken up their position, and also the 
colour of the horses, are significant. But they are neither of 
them easy to interpret. Even the meaning of nftsulldh is 
questionable. Some explain it as signifying a " shady place," 
from fef, a shadow ; but in that case we should expect the form 

CHAP. I. 8-17. 231 

nftsilldh. There is more authority for the assumption that 
m tsulldh is only another form for m tsfildh, which is the read 
ing in many codd., and which ordinarily stands for the depth 
of the sea, just as in Ex. xv. 10 tsdlal signifies to sink into 
the deep. The Vulgate adopts this rendering : in pro/undo. 
Here it signifies, in all probability, a deep hollow, possibly with 
water in it, as myrtles flourish particularly well in damp soils 
and by the side of rivers (see Virgil, Georg. ii. 112, iv. 124). 
The article in bamm tsulldh defines the hollow as the one which 
the prophet saw in the vision, not the ravine of the fountain 
of Siloah, as Hofmann supposes (Weissagung u. Erfullung, i. 
p. 333). The hollow here is not a symbol of the power of 
the world, or the abyss-like power of the kingdoms of the world 
(Hengstenberg and M. Baumgarten), as the author of the 
Chaldee paraphrase in Babele evidently thought ; for this can 
not be proved from such passages as ch. x. 16, Isa. xliv. 27, 
and Ps. cvii. 24. In the myrtle-bushes, or myrtle grove, we 
have no doubt a symbol of the theocracy, or of the land of 
Judah as a land that was dear and lovely in the estimation of 
the Lord (cf. Dan. viii. 9, xi. 16), for the myrtle is a lovely 
ornamental plant. Hence the hollow in which the myrtle 
grove was situated, can only be a figurative representation of 
the deep degradation into which the land and people of God 
had fallen at that time. There is a great diversity of opinion 
as to the significance of the colour of the horses, although all 
the commentators agree that the colour is significant, as in ch. 
vi. 2 sqq. and Kev. vi. 2 sqq., and that this is the only reason 
why the horses are described according to their colours, and 
the riders are not mentioned at all. About two of the colours 
there is no dispute. BVlK, red, the colour of the blood ; and 
Ijb, white, brilliant white, the reflection of heavenly and divine 
glory (Matt. xvii. 2, xxviii. 3 ; Acts i. 10), hence the symbol 
of a glorious victory (Rev. vi. 2). The meaning of s e ruqqlm 
is a disputed one. The LXX. have rendered it ^rapol KOI 
TToiKiXoi, like D^BK BV T?3 in ch. vi. 3 ; the Itala and Vulgate, 
varii; the Peshito, versicolores. Hence suslm s e ruqqlm would 
correspond to the MTTTO? %\a)p6s of Rev. vi. 8. The word 
s e ruqqlm only occurs again in the Old Testament in Isa. xvi. 8, 
where it is applied to the tendrils or branches of the vine, for 
which soreq (Isa. v. 2 ; Jer. ii. 21) or s e reqdh (Gen. xlix. 11) is 


used elsewhere. On the other hand, Gesenius (Thes. s.v.) and 

*x"o 5 

others defend the meaning red, after the Arabic j^, the red 
horse, the fox, from j^i? to be bright red ; and Koehler under 
stands by suslm s e ruqqlm, bright red, fire-coloured, or bay 
horses. But this meaning cannot be shown to be in accord 
ance with Hebrew usage : for it is a groundless conjecture 
that the vine branch is called soreq from the dark-red grapes 
(Hitzig on Isa. v. 2) ; and the incorrectness of it is evident 

from the fact, that even the Arabic ^ does not denote dark- 
red, but bright, fiery red. The Arabic translator has therefore 
rendered the Greek irvppos by ^\ in Cant. v. 9 ; but Trvppos 

answers to the Hebrew DilK, and the LXX. have expressed 
suslm tidummlm by iirrroi irvppoi both here and in ch. vi. 2. 
If we compare this with ch. vi. 2, where the chariots are drawn 
by red (^tidummim, irvppoi)^ black (sh e chorlm, yu-eXaues), white 
(l e bhdnlm, \evtcol), and speckled (tfruddlm, tyapoi) horses, and 
with Rev. vi., where the first rider has a white horse (Xev/eo?), 
the second a red one (irvppo^\ the third a black one (ytteXa?), 
the fourth a pale horse (^X&>/jo?), there can be no further doubt 
that three of the colours of the horses mentioned here occur 
again in the two passages quoted, and that the black horse is 
simply added as a fourth ; so that the s e ruqqlm correspond to 
the b e ruddlm of ch. vi. 3, and the ITTTTOS ^Xw/309 of Rev. vi. 8, 
and consequently sdroq denotes that starling kind of grey in 
which the black ground is mixed with white, so that it is not 
essentially different from bdrod, speckled, or black covered with 
white spots (Gen. xxxi. 10, 12). 

By comparing these passages with one another, we obtain 
so much as certain with regard to the meaning of the different 
colours, namely, that the colours neither denote the lands 
and nations to which the riders had been sent, as Havernick, 
Maurer, Hitzig, Ewald, and others suppose ; nor the three 
imperial kingdoms, as Jerome, Cyril, and others have attempted 
to prove. For, apart from the fact that there is no foundation 
whatever for the combination proposed, of the red colour with 
the south as the place of light, or of the white with the west, 

CHAP. I. 8-17. 233 

the fourth quarter of the heavens would be altogether wanting. 
Moreover, the riders mentioned here have unquestionably gone 
through the earth in company, according to vers. 8 and 11, or 
at any rate there is no intimation whatever of their having 
gone through the different countries separately, according to 
the colour of their respective horses; and, according to ch. vi. 6, 
not only the chariot with the black horses, but that with the 
white horses also, goes into the land of the south. Conse 
quently the colour of the horses can only be connected with 
the mission which the riders had to perform. This is confirmed 
by Rev. vi., inasmuch as a great sword is there given to the 
rider upon the red horse, to take away peace from the earth, 
that they may kill one another, and a crown to the rider upon 
the white horse, who goes forth conquering and to conquer 
(ver. 2), whilst the one upon the pale horse receives the name 
of Death, and has power given to him to slay the fourth part 
of the earth with sword, famine, and pestilence (ver. 8). It is 
true that no such effects as these are attributed to the riders in 
the vision before us, but this constitutes no essential difference. 
To the prophet s question, mdh-elleh, what are these ? i.e. what 
do they mean ? the angelus interpres, whom he addresses as 
" my lord " ( adorn), answers, " I will show thee what these 
be ;" whereupon the man upon the red horse, as the leader 
of the company, gives this reply : " These are they whom 
Jehovah hath sent to go through the earth ;" and then pro 
ceeds to give the angel of the Lord the report of their mission, 
viz. " We have been through the earth, and behold all tho 
earth sitteth still and at rest." The man s answer (vayyaan, 
ver. 10) is not addressed to the prophet or to the angelus inter- 
presy but to the angel of the Lord mentioned in ver. 11, to 
whom the former, with his horsemen (hence the plural, " they 
answered/ in ver. 11), had given a report of the result of their 
mission. The verb dndh, to answer, refers not to any definite 
question, but to the request for an explanation contained in the 
conversation between the prophet and the interpreting angel. 
njN?, in vers. 10 and 11, is not the land of Judah, or any other 
land, but the earth. The answer, that the whole earth sits 
still and at rest (ntDpj t^i rQ^ denotes the peaceful and secure 
condition of a land and its inhabitants, undisturbed by any 
foe; cf. ch. vii. 7, 1 Chron. iv. 40, and Judg. xviii. 27), points 


back to Hag. ii. 7, 8, 22, 23. God had there announced that 
for a little He would shake heaven and earth, the whole world 
and all nations, that the nations would come and fill His 
temple with glory. The riders sent out by God now return 
and report that the earth is by no means shaken and in motion, 
but the whole world sits quiet and at rest. We must not, 
indeed, infer from this account that the riders were all sent 
for the simple and exclusive purpose of obtaining information 
concerning the state of the earth, and communicating it to the 
Lord. For it would have been quite superfluous and unmean 
ing to send out an entire troop, on horses of different colours, 
for this purpose alone. Their mission was rather to take an 
active part in the agitation of the nations, if any such existed, 
and guide it to the divinely appointed end, and that in the 
manner indicated by the colour of their horses ; viz. according 
to Rev. vi., those upon the red horses by war and bloodshed ; 
those upon the starling-grey, or speckled horses, by famine, 
pestilence, and other plagues ; and lastly, those upon the white 
horses, by victory and the conquest of the world. 

In the second year of Darius there prevailed universal 
peace ; all the nations of the earlier Chaldaean empire were at 
rest, and lived in undisturbed prosperity. Only Judaea, the 
home of the nation of God, was still for the most, part lying 
waste, and Jerusalem was still without walls, and exposed in 
the most defenceless manner to all the insults of the opponents 
of the Jews. Such a state of things as this necessarily tended 
to produce great conflicts in the minds of the more godly men, 
and to confirm the frivolous in their indifference towards the 
Lord. As long as the nations of the world enjoyed undisturbed 
peace, Judah could not expect any essential improvement in 
its condition. Even though Darius had granted permission for 
the building of the temple to be continued, the people were 
still under the bondage of the power of the world, without any 
prospect of the realization of the glory predicted by the earlier 
prophets (Jer. xxxi. seq.; Isa. xl. sqq.), which was to dawn upon 
the nation of God when redeemed from Babylon. Hence the 
angel of the Lord addresses the intercessory prayer to Jehovah 
in ver. 12 : How long wilt Thou not have compassion upon 
Jerusalem, etc. ? For the very fact that the angel of the Lord, 
through whom Jehovah had formerly led His people and 

CHAP. I. 8-17. 235 

brought them into the promised land and smitten all the ene 
mies before Israel, now appears again, contains in itself one 
source of consolation. His coming was a sign that Jehovah 
had not forsaken His people, and His intercession could not 
fail to remove every doubt as to the fulfilment of the divine 
promises. The circumstance that the angel of Jehovah ad 
dresses an intercessory prayer to Jehovah on behalf of Judah, 
is no more a disproof of his essential unity with Jehovah, than 
the intercessory prayer of Christ in John xvii. is a disproof of 
His divinity. The words, " over which Thou hast now been 
angry for seventy years," do not imply that the seventy years 
of the Babylonian captivity predicted by Jeremiah (Jer. xxv. 
11 and xxix. 10) were only just drawing to a close. They had 
already expired in the first year of the reign of Cyrus (2 Chron. 
xxxvi. 22 ; Ezra i. 1). At the same time, the remark made by 
Vitringa, Hengstenberg, and others, must not be overlooked, 
namely, that these seventy years were completed twice, inas 
much as there were also (not perhaps quite, but nearly) seventy 
years between the destruction of Jerusalem and of the temple, 
and the second year of Darius. Now, since the temple was 
still lying in ruins in the second year of Darius, notwithstand 
ing the command to rebuild it that had been issued by Cyrus 
(Hag. i. 4), it might very well appear as though the troubles 
of the captivity would never come to an end. Under such 
circumstances, the longing for an end to be put to the mourn 
ful condition of Judah could not fail to become greater and 
greater ; and the prayer, " Put an end, O Lord, put an end to 
all our distress," more importunate than ever. Jehovah replied 
to the intercession of the angel of the Lord with good and 
comforting words. D e bhdrlm tobhlm are words which promise 
good, i.e. salvation (cf. Josh, xxiii. 14 ; Jer. xxix. 10). So far 
as they set before the people the prospect of the mitigation of 
their distress, they are nichummlm, consolations. The word 
nichummlm is a substantive, and in apposition to d e bhdrlm. 
Instead of the form nichummlm, the keri has the form nichumlm, 
which is grammatically the more correct of the two, and which 
is written still more accurately nichumim in some of the codd. 
in Kennicott. The contents of these words, which are addressed 
to the interpreting angel either directly or through the medium 
of the angel of Jehovah, follow in the announcement which 


the latter orders the prophet to make in vers. 14-17. N"Ji? (ver. 
14) as in Isa. xl. 6. The word of the Lord contains two things: 
(1) the assurance of energetic love on the part of God towards 
Jerusalem (vers. 14, 15) ; and (2) the promise that this love 
will show itself in the restoration and prosperity of Jerusalem 
(vers. 16, 17). W.i?, to be jealous, applied to the jealousy of 
love as in Joel ii. 18, Num. xxv. 11, 13, etc., is strengthened 
by r&*U n&Uj?. Observe, too, the use of the perfect *0 K 3i?> as 
distinguished from the participle *)Vp. The perfect is not 
merely used in the sense of " I have become jealous," express 
ing the fact that Jehovah was inspired with burning jealousy, 
to take Jerusalem to Himself (Koehler), but includes the 
thought that God has already manifested this zeal, or begun 
to put it in action, namely by liberating His people from exile. 
Zion, namely the mountain of Zion, is mentioned along with 
Jerusalem as being the site on which the temple stood, so that 
Jerusalem only comes into consideration as the capital of the 
kingdom. Jehovah is also angry with the self-secure and 
peaceful nations. The participle qotseph designates the wrath 
as lasting. Shaandn, quiet and careless in their confidence in 
their own power and prosperity, which they regard as secured 
for ever. The following word, "^K, quod, introduces the reason 
why God is angry, viz. because, whereas He was only a little^ 
angry with Israel, they assisted for evil, toyp refers to the dura 
tion, not to the greatness of the anger (cf. Isa. liv. 8). njn!> nw, 
they helped, so that evil was the result ( n ?n? as in Jer. xliv. 
11), i.e. they assisted not only as the instruments of God for 
the chastisement of Judah, but so that harm arose from it, inas 
much as they endeavoured to destroy Israel altogether (cf. Isa. 
xlvii. 6). It is no ground of objection to this definition of the 
meaning of the words, that njn? in that case does not form an 
appropriate antithesis to BVD, which relates to time (Koehler) ; 
for the fact that the anger only lasted a short time, was in 
itself a proof that God did not intend to destroy His people. 
To understand Hjn? ntjj as only referring to the prolonged op 
pression and captivity, does not sufficiently answer to the words. 
Therefore (Idkhen, ver. 16), because Jehovah is jealous with 
love for His people, and very angry with the heathen, He has 
now turned with compassion towards Jerusalem. The perfect 
is not purely prophetic, but describes the event as having 

CHAP. I. 8-17. 237 

already commenced, and as still continuing. This compassion 
will show itself in the fact that the house of God is to be built 
in Jerusalem, and the city itself restored, and all the obstacles 
to this are to be cleared out of the way. The measuring line 
is drawn over a city, to mark off the space it is to occupy, and 
the plan upon which it is to be arranged. The chethib nip, 
probably to be read njij, is the obsolete form, which occurs 
again in 1 Kings vii. 23 and Jer. xxxi. 39, and was displaced 
by the contracted form 1JJ (keri). But the compassion of God 
will not be restricted to this. The prophet is to proclaim still 
more (" cry yet," ver. 17, referring to the " cry" in ver. 14). 
The cities of Jehovah, i.e. of the land of the Lord, are still to 
overflow with good, or with prosperity. Puts, to overflow, as 
in Prov. v. 16 ; and nayan for nyyian (vid. Ewald, 196, c). 
The last two clauses round off the promise. When the Lord 
shall restore the temple and city, then will Zion and Jerusalem 
learn that He is comforting her, and has chosen her still. The 
last thought is repeated in ch. ii. 16 and iii. 2. 

In this vision it is shown to the prophet, and through him 
to the people, that although the immediate condition of things 
presents no prospect of the fulfilment of the promised restora 
tion and glorification of Israel, the Lord has nevertheless already 
appointed the instruments of His judgment, and sent them out 
to overthrow the nations of the world, that are still living at 
rest and in security, and to perfect His Zion. The fulfilment 
of this consolatory promise is neither to be transferred to the 
end of the present course of this world, as is supposed by Hof- 
mann (Weiss, u. Erfull. i. 335), who refers to ch. xiv. 18, 19 
in support of this, nor to be restricted to what was done in the 
immediate future for the rebuilding of the temple and of the city 
of Jerusalem. The promise embraces the whole of the future 
of the kingdom of God ; so that whilst the commencement 
of the fulfilment is to be seen in the fact that the building 
of the temple was finished in the sixth year of Darius, and 
Jerusalem itself was also restored by Nehemiah in the reign 
of Artaxerxes, these commencements of the fulfilment simply 
furnished a pledge that the glorification of the nation and 
kingdom of God predicted by the earlier prophets would quite 
as assuredly follow. 



CHAP. i. is-21 (HEB. BIB. CHAP. n. 1-4). 

The second vision is closely connected with the first, and 
shows how God will discharge the fierceness of His wrath upon 
the heathen nations in their self-security (ch. i. 15). Ver. 18. 
" And I lifted up mine eyes, and saw, and behold four horns. Ver. 
19. And I said to the angel that talked with me, What are these f 
And he said to me, These are the horns which have scattered 
Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem. Ver. 20. And Jehovah showed 
me four smiths. Ver. 21. And I said, What come these to do ? 
And He spake to me thus : These are the horns which have scat- 
tered Judah, so that no one lifted up his head; these are now come 
to terrify them, to cast down the horns of the nations which have 
lifted up the horn against the land of Judah to scatter it. 11 The 
mediating angel interprets the four horns to the prophet first 
of all as the horns which have scattered Judah ; then literally, 
as the nations which have lifted up the hoin against the land 
of Judah to scatter it. The horn is a symbol of power (cf. 
Amos vi. 13). The horns therefore symbolize the powers of 
the world, which rise up in hostility against Judah and hurt it. 
The number four does not point to the four quarters of the 
heaven, denoting the heathen foes of Israel in all the countries 
of the world (Hitzig, Maurer, Koehler, and others). This view 
cannot be established from ver. 10, for there is no reference to 
any dispersion of Israel to the four winds there. Nor does it 
follow from the perfect ViT that only such nations are to be 
thought of, as had already risen up in hostility to Israel and 
Judah in the time of Zechariah ; for it cannot be shown that 
there were four such nations. At that time all the nations 
round about Judah were subject to the Persian empire, as they 
had been in Nebuchadnezzar s time to the Babylonian. Both 
the number four and the perfect zeru belong to the sphere of 
inward intuition, in which the objects are combined together 
so as to form one complete picture, without any regard to the 
time of their appearing in historical reality. Just as the pro 
phet in ch. vi. sees the four chariots all together, although they 
follow one another in action, so may the four horns which are 
seen simultaneously represent nations w r hich succeeded one 

CHAP. I. 18-2L 239 

another. This is shown still more clearly by the visions in 
Dan. ii. and vii., in which not only the colossal image seen in 
a dream by Nebuchadnezzar (ch. ii.), but also the four beasts 
which are seen by Daniel to ascend simultaneously from the 
sea, symbolize the four empires, which rose up in succession 
one after the other. It is to these four empires that the four 
horns of our vision refer, as Jerome, Abarb., Hengstenberg, and 
others have correctly pointed out, since even the picturing of 
nations or empires as horns points back to Dan. vii. 7, 8, and 
viii. 3-9. Zechariah sees these in all the full development of their 
power, in which they have oppressed and crushed the people 
of God (hence the perfect zertt), and for which they are to be 
destroyed themselves. Zarali, to scatter, denotes the dissolu 
tion of the united condition and independence of the nation of 
God. In this sense all four empires destroyed Judah, although 
the Persian and Grecian empires did not carry Judah out of 
their own land. The striking combination, " Judah, Israel, 
and Jerusalem," in which not only the introduction of the 
name of Israel between Judah and Jerusalem is to be noticed, 
but also the fact that the nota ace. J"IN is only placed before 
Y e huddh and Yisrd Gl, and not before Y e rushdlaim also, is not 
explained on the ground that Israel denotes the kingdom of the 
ten tribes, Judah the southern kingdom, and Jerusalem the 
capital of the kingdom (Maurer, Umbreit, and others), for in 
that case Israel would necessarily have been repeated before 
Judah, and eth before Y e rushdlaim. Still less can the name 
Israel denote the rural population of Judah (Hitzig), or the 
name Judah the princely house (Neumann). By the fact that 
eth is omitted before Y e ruslidlaim, and only Vav stands before 
it, Jerusalem is connected with Israel and separated from 
Judah ; and by the repetition of eth before Yisrd el, as well 
as before Y huddh, Israel with Jerusalem is co-ordinated with 
Judah. Kliefoth infers from this that " the heathen had dis 
persed on the one hand Judah, and on the other hand Israel 
together with Jerusalem," and understands this as signifying 
that in the nation of God itself a separation is presupposed, 
like the previous separation into Judah and the kingdom of the 
ten tribes. " When the Messiah comes," he says, " a small por 
tion of the Israel according to the flesh will receive Him, and 
BO constitute the genuine people of God and the true Israel, tht 


Judah ; whereas the greater part of the Israel according to the 
flesh will reject the Messiah at first, and harden itself in un 
belief, until at the end of time it will also be converted, and 
join the true Judah of Christendom." But this explanation, 
according to which Judah would denote the believing portion 
of the nation of twelve tribes, and Israel and Jerusalem the 
unbelieving, is wrecked on the grammatical difficulty that the 
cop. 1 is wanting before ^NnB^VlK. If the names Judah and 
Israel were intended to be co-ordinated with one another as 
two different portions of the covenant nation as a whole, the 
two parts would necessarily have been connected together by 
the cop. Vav. Moreover, in the two co-ordinated names Judah 
and Israel, the one could not possibly stand in the spiritual sense, 
and the other in the carnal. The co-ordination of eth- Y huddh 
with eth-Yisrael without the cop. Vav shows that Israel is really 
equivalent to the Jerusalem which is subordinated to it, and does 
not contain a second member (or part), which is added to it, 
in other words, that Israel with Jerusalem is merely an inter 
pretation or more precise definition of Y e huddh; and Hengsten- 
berg has hit upon the correct idea, when he takes Israel as the 
honourable name of Judah, or, more correctly, as an honour 
able name for the covenant nation as then existing in Judah. 
This explanation is not rendered questionable by the objection 
offered by Koehler : viz. that after the separation of the two 
kingdoms, the expression Israel always denotes either the king 
dom of the ten tribes, or the posterity of Jacob without regard 
to their being broken up, because this is not the fact. The 
use of the name Israel for Judah after the separation of the 
kingdoms is established beyond all question by 2 Chron. xii. 1, 
xv. 17, xix. 8, xxi. 2, 4, xxiii. 2, xxiv. 5, etc. 1 

Jehovah then showed the prophet four cMrdshlm, or work 
men, i.e. smiths ; and on his putting the question, u What have 

1 Gesenius has correctly observed in his Thesaurus, p. 1339, that 
"from this time (i.e. from the severance of the kingdom) the name of 
Israel began to be usurped by the whole nation that was then in existence, 
and was used chiefly by the prophets Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Deutero(?)- 
Isaiah, and after the captivity by Ezra and Nehemiah ; from which it came 
to pass, that in the Paralipomena, even when allusion is made to an earlier 
period, Israel stands for Judah," although the proofs adduced in support 
of this from the passages quoted from the prophets need considerable 

CHAP. II. 1-5. 241 

these come to do ? " gave him this reply : " To terrify those," 
etc. For the order of the words rriK>J?p D^xa n?K n, instead of 
D K3 nJpK rrifc>j nD, see Gen. xlii. 12, Neh. ii. 12, Judg. ix. 48. 
rifo ljpn rbx is not a nominative written absolutely at the head 
of the sentence in the sense of " these horns," for that would 
require n^NPi rri:"ipn ; but the whole sentence is repeated from 
ver. 2, and to that the statement of the purpose for which the 
smiths have come is attached in the form of an apodosis: "these 
are the horns, etc., and they (the smiths) have come." At the 
same time, the earlier statement as to the horns is defined more 
minutely by the additional clause U1 WK S S3, according to the 
measure, i.e. in such a manner that no man lifted up his head 
any more, or so that Judah was utterly prostrate. Hacharld, 
to throw into a state of alarm, as in 2 Sam. xvii. 2. Them 
( othdm): this refers adsensumto the nations symbolized by the 
horns. YaddOth, inf. piel of ydddh, to cast down, may be ex 
plained as referring to the power of the nations symbolized by 
the horns. Erets Y e huddh (the land of Judah) stands for the 
inhabitants of the land. The four smiths, therefore, symbolize 
the instruments "of the divine omnipotence by which the imperial 
power in its several historical forms is overthrown" (Kliefoth), 
or, as Theod. Mops, expresses it, " the powers that serve God 
and inflict vengeance upon them from many directions." The 
vision does not show what powers God will use for this pur 
pose. It is simply designed to show to the people of God, that 
every hostile power of the world which has risen up against it, 
or shall rise up, is to be judged and destroyed by the Lord. 


CHAP. ii. (HEB. CHAP. n. 5-17.) 

Whilst the second vision sets forth the destruction of the 
powers that were hostile to Israel, the third (ch. ii. 15) with 
the prophetic explanation (vers. 6-13) shows the development 
of the people and kingdom of God till the time of its final glory. 
The vision itself appears very simple, only a few of the principal 
features being indicated ; but in this very brevity it presents 
many difficulties so far as the exposition is concerned. It is 
as follows : Ver. 1. "And I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and 
behold a man, and in his hand a measuring line. Ver. 2. Then 



/ said, Wliitlier goest thou ? And he said to me, To measure, 
Jerusalem, to see liow great its breadth, and hoiv great its 
length. Ver. 3. And, behold, the angel that talked with me went 
out, and another angel went out to meet him. Ver. 4. And he 
said to him, Run, speak to this young man thus : Jerusalem shall 
lie as an open land for the multitude of men and cattle in the 
midst of it. Ver. 5. And I shall be to it, is the saving of 
Jehovah, a fiery wall round about; and I shall be for glory in the 
midst of it" The man with the measuring line in his hand is 
not the interpreting angel (C. B. Mich., Eos., Maurer, etc.) ; 
for it was not his duty to place the events upon the stage, but 
simply to explain to the prophet the things which he saw. 
Moreover, this angel is clearly distinguished from the man, 
inasmuch as he does not go out (ver. 3) till after the latter has 
gone to measure Jerusalem (ver. 2). At the same time, we 
cannot regard the measuring man as merely " a figure in the 
vision," since all the persons occurring in these visions are 
significant ; but we agree with those who conjecture that he 
is the angel of Jehovah, although this conjecture cannot be 
distinctly proved. The task which he is preparing to perform 
namely, to measure Jerusalem leads unquestionably to the 
conclusion that he is something more than a figure. The 
measuring of the breadth and length of Jerusalem presupposes 
that the city is already in existence ; and this expression must 
not be identified with the phrase, to draw the measure over 
Jerusalem, in ch. i. 16. Drawing the measure over a place 
is done for the purpose of sketching a plan for its general 
arrangement, or the rebuilding of it. But the length and 
breadth of a city can only be measured when it is already in 
existence ; and the object of the measuring is not to see how 
long and how broad it is to be, but what the length and 
breadth actually are. It is true that it by no means follows 
from this that the city to be measured was the Jerusalem of 
that time ; on the contrary, the vision shows the future Jeru 
salem, but it exhibits it as a city in actual existence, and visible 
to the spiritual eye. While the man goes away to measure 
the city, the interpreting angel goes out : not out of the myrtle 
thicket, for this only occurs in the first vision ; but he goes 
away from the presence of the prophet, where we have to 
think of him as his interpreter, in the direction of the man 

CHAP. II. l-5o. 213 

with the measuring line, to find out what he is going to do, 
and bring back word to the prophet. At the very same time 
another angel comes out to meet him, viz. the angelus interpres, 
not the man with the measuring line. For one person can only 
come to meet another when the latter is going in the direction 
from which the former comes. Having come to meet him, he 
(the second angel) says to him (the angelus interpres)) " Run, 
say to this young man," etc. The subject to ">^ s - can only be 
the second angel ; for if,, on grammatical grounds, the angelus 
interpres might be regarded as speaking to the young man, 
such an assumption is proved to be untenable, by the fact that 
it was no part of the office of the angelus interpres to give 
orders or commissions- to another angel. On the other hand, 
there is nothing at all to preclude another angel from reveal 
ing a decree of God to the angelus interpres for him to com 
municate to the prophet ; inasmuch as this does not bring the 
angelus interpres into action any further than his function 
requires, so that there is no ground for the objection that this 
is at variance with his standing elsewhere (Kliefoth). But the 
other angel could not give the instructions mentioned in ver. 4 
to the angelus interpres^ unless he were either himself a superior 
angel, viz. the angel of Jehovah, or had been directed to do so 
by the man with the measuring line, in which case this "man" 
would be the angel of Jehovah. Of these two possibilities we 
prefer the latter on two grounds: (1). because it is impossible 
to think of any reason why the "other angel" should not be 
simply called ftin* TjKpD, if he really were the angel of the Lord ; 
and (2) because,, according to the analogy of Ezek. xl. 3, the 
man with the measuring line most probably was the angel of 
Jehovah, with whose dignity h/ would be quite in keeping that 
he should explain his purpose to the angelus interpres through the 
medium of another (inferior) angel. And if this be established, 
so far as the brevity of the account will allow, we cannot under 
stand by the " young man " the man with the measuring line, 
as Hitzig, Maurer, and Kliefoth do. The only way in which 
such an assumption as this could be rendered tenable or in 
harmony with the rest, would be by supposing that the design 
of the message was to tell the man with the measuring line 
that " he might desist from his useless enterprise " (Hitzig), 
as Jerusalem could not be measured at all, on account of the 


number of its inhabitants and its vast size (Theod. Mops., 
Theodoret, Ewald, Umbreit, etc.) ; but Kliefoth has very 
justly replied to this, that " if a city be ever so great, inas 
much as it is a city, it can always be measured, and also 
have walls." If, then, the symbolical act of measuring, as 
Kliefoth also admits, expresses the question how large and 
how broad Jerusalem will eventually be, and if the words of 
vers. 4, 5 contain the answer to this question, viz. Jerusalem 
will in the first place (ver. 4) contain such a multitude of men 
and cattle that it will dwell like p rdzoth ; this answer, which 
gives the meaning of the measuring, must be addressed not to 
the measuring man, but simply to the prophet, that he may 
announce to the people the future magnitude and glory of the 
city. The measuring man was able to satisfy himself of this 
by the measuring itself. We must therefore follow the majority 
of both the earlier and later expositors, and take the " young 
man " as being the prophet himself, who is so designated on 
account of his youthful age, and without any allusion what 
ever to "human inexperience and dim short-sightedness" 
(Hengstenberg), since such an allusion would be very remote 
from the context, and even old men of experience could not 
possibly know anything concerning the future glory of Jeru 
salem without a revelation from above. Halldz, as in Judg. vi. 
20 and 2 Kings iv. 25, is a contraction of halldzeh, and formed 
from Idzeh, there, thither, and the article hal, in the sense 
of the (young man) there, or that young man (cf. Ewald, 
103, a, and 183, b ; Ges. 34, Anm. 1). He is to make haste 
and bring this message, because it is good news, the realization 
of which will soon commence. The message contains a double 
and most joyful promise. (1) Jerusalem will in future dwell, 
i.e. be built, as p e rdzoiJi. This word means neither " without 
walls," nor loca aperta, but strictly speaking the plains, and is 
only used in the plural to denote the open, level ground, as 
contrasted with the fortified cities surrounded by walls : thus 
are p e rdzoth, cities of the plain, in Esth. ix. 19, as distinguished 
from the capital Susa ; and erets p rdzoth in Ezek. xxxviii. 11, 
the land where men dwell " without w r alls, bolts, and gates ; " 
hence p e rdzl, inhabitant of the plain, in contrast with the 
inhabitants of fortified cities with high walls (Deut. iii. 5; 
1 Sam. vi. 18). The thought is therefore the following : 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 245 

Jerusalem is in future to resemble an open country covered 
with unwalled cities and villages ; it will no longer be a city 
closely encircled with walls ; hence it will be extraordinarily 
enlarged, on account of the multitude of men and cattle with 
which it will be blessed (cf. Isa. xlix. 19, 20; Ezek. xxxviii. 11) 
Moreover, (2) Jerusalem will then have no protecting wall 
surrounding it, because it will enjoy a superior protection. 
Jehovah will be to it a wall of fire round about, that is to say, 
a defence of fire which will consume every one who ventures 
to attack it (cf. Isa. iv. 5; Deut. iv. 24). Jehovah will also be 
the glory in the midst of Jerusalem, that is to say, will fill the 
city with His glory (cf. Isa. Ix. 19). This promise is explained 
in the following prophetic words which are tittered by the angel 
of Jehovah, as vers. 8, 9, and 11 clearly show. According to 
these verses, for example, the speaker is sent by Jehovah, and 
according to ver. 8 to the nations which have plundered Israel, 
"after glory," i.e. to smite these nations and make them servants 
to the Israelites. From this shall Israel learn that Jehovah 
has sent him. The fact that, according to vers. 3, 4, another 
angel speaks to the prophet, may be easily reconciled with this. 
For since this angel, as we have seen above, was sent by the 
angel of Jehovah, he speaks according to his instructions, and 
that in such a manner that his words pass imperceptibly into 
the words of the sender, just as we very frequently find the 
words of a prophet passing suddenly into the words of God, 
and carried on as such. For the purpose of escaping from this 
simple conclusion, Koehler has forcibly broken up this con 
tinuous address, and has separated the words of vers. 8, 9, and 
11, in which the angel says that Jehovah has sent him, from 
the words of Jehovah proclaimed by the angel, as being inter 
polations, but without succeeding in explaining them either 
simply or naturally. 

The prophecy commences thus in vers. 6-9 : Ver. 6. " Ho, 
ho, flee out of the land of the north, is the saying of Jehovah ; for 
I spread you out as the four winds of heaven, is the saying of 
Jehovah. Ver. 7. Ho, Zion, save thyself, thou that dwellest 
with the daughter Babel. Ver. 8. For thus saith Jehovah of 
hosts, After glory hath he sent me to the nations that have plun 
dered you ; for ivhoever toucheth you, toucheth the apple of His 
eye. Ver. 9. For, behold, I swing my hand over them, and they 


become a spoil to those who -served them ; and ye will see that 
Jehovah of hosts hath sent me." The summons to flee out of 
Babylon, in vers. 6 and 7, is addressed to the Israelites, who 
are all included in the one name Zion in ver. 7 ; and shows 
that the address which follows is not a simple continuation of 
the promise in vers. 4 and 5, but is intended both to explain it, 
and to assign the reason for it. The summons contains so far 
a reason for it, that the Israelites are directed to flee out of 
Babylon, because the judgment is about to burst upon this 
oppressor of the people of God. The words nusu, flee, and 
himmdl e tl, save thyself or escape, both point to the judgment, 
and in ver. 9 the judgment itself is clearly spoken of. The 
land of the north is Babylon (cf. Jer. i. 14, vi. 22, x. 22 ; and 
for the fact itself, Isa. xlviii. 20). The reason for the excla 
mation " Flee" is first of all given in the clause, " for like the 
four winds have I spread you out," not " dispersed you" (Vulg., 
C. B. Mich., Koehler). For apart from the fact that peres 
almost always means to spread out, and has the meaning to 
disperse at the most in Ps. Ixviii. 15 and Ezek. xvii. 21, this 
meaning is altogether unsuitable here. For if Israel had been 
scattered like the four winds, it would of necessity have been 
summoned to return, not only from the north, but from all 
quarters of the globe (Hitzig, Kliefoth). Moreover, we should 
then have P?"}^?, into the four winds; and the method suggested 
by Koehler for reconciling V2HK3 with his view, viz. by assum 
ing that " like the four winds" is equivalent to " as chaff is 
pounded and driven away from its place by the four winds," 
according to which the winds would be mentioned in the place 
of the chaff, will hardly meet with approval. The explanation 
is rather that the perfect perastl is used prophetically to denote 
the purpose of God, which had already been formed, even if 
its realization was still in the future. To spread out like the 
four winds is the same as to spread out just as the four winds 
spread out to all quarters of the globe. Because God has re 
solved upon spreading out His people in this manner, they are 
to flee out of Babel, that they may not suffer the fate of Babel. 
That this thought lies at the foundation of the motive assigned, 
is evident from the further reasons assigned for the summons 
in vers. 8 and 9. Zion stands for the inhabitants of Zion, 
namely the people of God, who are for the time being still 

CHAP. II. 6-9. 247 

yfahebheth bath Bdlel, dwelling with the daughter Babel. As 
Zion does not mean the city or fortress of Jerusalem, but the 
inhabitants, so the " daughter Babel" is not the city of Baby 
lon or country of Babylonia personified, but the inhabitants of 
Babel ; and 1W is construed with the accusative of the person, 
as in Ps. xxii. 4 and 2 Sam. vi. 2. What Jehovah states in 
explanation of the twofold call to flee out of Babel, does not 
commence with ver. 9 (Ewald), or with Jttlin a in ver. 8b 
(Koehler), but with W *ri33 in. The incorrectness of the two 
former explanations is seen first of all in the fact that ^3 only 
introduces a speech in the same manner as ort, when it follows 
directly upon the introductory formula; but not, as is here 
assumed, when a long parenthesis is inserted between, without 
the introduction being resumed by ibfcjg, And secondly, neither 
of these explanations furnishes a suitable meaning. If the 
words of God only followed in ver. 9, E^yS in the first clause 
would be left without any noun to which to refer ; and if they 
commenced with JMlin *3 (for he that toucheth), the thought 
" he that toucheth you," etc., would assign no reason for the 
call to flee and save themselves. For if Israel is defended or 
valued by God as a pupil of the eye, there can be no necessity 
for it to flee. And lastly, it is impossible to see what can be 
the meaning or object of the parenthesis, " After glory hath 
He sent me," etc. If it treated " of the execution of the threat 
of punishment upon the heathen" (Koehler), it would be in 
serted in an unsuitable place, since the threat of punishment 
would not follow till afterwards. All these difficulties vanish 
if Jehovah s words commence with achar Mbhod (after glory), 
in which case sh e ldchanl (He hath sent me) may be very simply 
explained from the fact that the address is introduced, not in a 
direct form, but indirectly : Jehovah says, He has sent me 
after glory. The sender is Jehovah, and the person sent is not 
the prophet, but the angel of the Lord. Achar Mbhod: behind 
glory, after glory ; not however " after the glory of success" 
(Hitzig, Ewald, etc.), still less " with a glorious commission," 
but to get glory upon the heathen, i.e. to display the glory of 
God upon the heathen through the judgment by which their 
power is broken, and the heathen world is made to serve the 
people of God. The manner in which the next two clauses, 
commencing with kl (for), are attached, is the following : The 


first assigns the subjective motive ; that is to say, states the 
reason why God has sent him to the heathen, namely, because 
they have plundered His people, and have thereby touched the 
apple of His eye. r.V n ?? ? the apple of the eye (lit. the gate, 
the opening in which the eye is placed, or more probably the 
pupil of the eye, pupilla, as being the object most carefully 
preserved), is a figure used to denote the dearest possession or 
good, and in this sense is applied to the nation of Israel as early 
as Deut. xxxii. 10. The second explanatory clause in ver. 9 
adds the practical ground for this sending after glory. The 
speaker is still the angel of the Lord ; and his acting is iden 
tical with the acting of God. Like Jehovah, he swings his 
hand over the heathen nations which plundered Israel (cf. Isa. 
xi. 15, xix. 16), and they become (vni expressing the conse 
quence), i.e. so that they become, booty to the Israelites, who 
had previously been obliged to serve them (cf. Isa. xiv. 2). In 
what way the heathen would serve Israel is stated in ver. 11. 
By the execution of this judgment Israel would learn that 
Jehovah had sent His angel, namely to execute upon the 
heathen His saving purposes for Israel. This is the meaning 
of these words, not only here and in ver. 11, but also in ch. 
iv. 9 and vi. 15, where this formula is repeated, not however 
in the sense imagined by Koehler, namely that he had spoken 
these words in consequence of a command from Jehovah, and 
not of his own accord, by which the " sending" is changed into 
" speaking. * 

Vers. 10-13. The daughter Zion is to rejoice at this sending 
of the angel of the Lord. Ver. 10. " Exult and rejoice, 
daughter Zion : for, behold, I come, and dwell in the midst of thee, 
is the saying of Jehovah. Ver. 11. And many nations will attach 
themselves to Jehovah in that day, and become a people to me: and 
I dwell in the midst of thee ; and thou wilt know that Jehovah of 
hosts hath sent me to thee" The daughter Zion, or the church 
of the Lord, delivered out of Babel, is to rejoice with joy, 
because her glorification is commencing now. The Lord comes 
to her in His angel, in whom are His name (Ex. xxiii. 21) and 
His face (Ex. xxxiii. 14), i.e. the angel of His face (Isa. Ixiii. 9), 
who reveals His nature, to dwell in the midst of her. This 
dwelling of Jehovah, or of His angel, in the midst of Zion, is 
essentially different from the dwelling of Jehovah in the Most 

CHAP. II. 12, 13. 249 

Holy Place of His temple. It commences with the coming of 
the Son of God in the flesh, and is completed by His return 
in glory (John i. 14 and Kev. xxi. 3). Then will many, or 
powerful, nations, attach themselves to Jehovah, and become 
His people (cf. ch. viii. 20, 21 ; Isa. xiv. 1). This kingdom of 
God, which has hitherto been restricted to Israel, will be spread 
out and glorified by the reception of the heathen nations which 
are seeking God (Mic. iv. 2). The repetition of the expression, 
" I dwell in the midst of thee," merely serves as a stronger 
asseveration of this brilliant promise ; and the same remark 
applies to the repetition of W fiJTH (and thou shalt know) : see 
at ver. 13. Jerusalem will thereby receive the expansion shown 
to the prophet in ver. 4 ; and through the dwelling of God in 
the midst of her, the promise in ver. 5 will also be fulfilled. 
The next verse refers to this. 

Ver. 12. "And Jehovah will take possession of Judah as His 
portion in the holy land) and will yet choose Jerusalem. Ver. 13. 
Be still, all flesh) before Jehovah ; for He has risen up out of His 
holy habitation" The first hemistich of ver. 12 rests upon 
Deut. xxxii. 9, where Israel, as the chosen nation, is called the 
cheleq and nachaldh of Jehovah. This appointment of Israel 
to be the possession of Jehovah will become perfect truth and 
reality in the future, through the coming of the Lord. Y e huddh 
is Judah as delivered, i.e. the remnant of the whole of the cove 
nant nation. This remnant, after being gathered out of Babel, 
will dwell upon holy ground, or in a holy land, as the possession 
of the Lord. The holy land is the land of Jehovah (Hos. ix. 3) ; 
but this is not to be set down without reserve as identical with 
Palestine. On the contrary, every place where Jehovah may 
be is holy ground (cf . Ex. iii. 5) ; so that even Palestine is only 
holy when the Lord dwells there. And we must not limit the 
idea of the holy land in this passage to Palestine, because the 
idea of the people of God will be so expanded by the addition 
of many nations, that it will not have room enough within the 
limits of Palestine ; and according to ver. 4, even Jerusalem will 
no longer be a city with limited boundaries. The holy land 
reaches just as far as the nations, which have become the people 
of Jehovah by attaching themselves to Judah, spread them 
selves out over the surface of the earth. The words " choose 
Jerusalem again" round off the promise, just as in ch. i. 17 ; 


but in ver. 13 the admonition is added, to wait in reverential 
silence for the coming of the Lord to judgment, after Hab. ii. 
20 ; and the reason assigned is, that the judgment will soon 
begin. lty:i, niphal of *\W (compare Ewald, 140, a; Ges. 72, 
Anm. 9), to wake up, or rise up from His rest (cf. Ps. xliv. 24). 
iBnjj jijJDj the holy habitation of God, is heaven, as in Deut. 
xxvi. 15, Jer. xxv. 30. The judgment upon the heathen world- 
power began to burst in a very short time. When Babylon 
revolted against the king of Persia, under the reign of Darius, 
a great massacre took place within the city after its re-capture, 
and its walls were destroyed, so that the city could not rise 
again to its ancient grandeur and importance. Compare with 
this the remark made in the comm. on Haggai (p. 196), con 
cerning the overthrow of the Persian empire and those which 
followed it. We have already shown, at p. 107, note, what 
a groundless hypothesis the opinion is, that the fulfilment was 
interrupted in consequence of Israel s guilt ; and that as the 
result of this, the completion of it has been deferred for cen 
turies, or even thousands of years. 


In this and the following visions the prophet is shown the 
future glorification of the church of the Lord. Ver. 1. " And 
he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel 
of Jehovah, and Satan stood at his right hand to oppose him. 
Ver. 2. And Jehovah said to Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee, 
Satan ; and Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem rebuke thee. Is not 
this a brand saved out of the fire? Ver. 3. And Joshua was 
clothed with filthy garments, and stood before the angel. Ver. 4. 
A nd he answered and spake to those who stood before him thus : 
Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him, 
Behold, I have taken away thy guilt from thee, and clothe thee in 
festal raiment. Ver. 5. And I said, Let them put a clean mitre 
upon his head. Then they put the clean mitre upon his head, and 
clothed him with garments. And the angel of Jehovah stood by" 
The subject to ^$!!! is Jehovah, and not the mediating angel, 
for his work was to explain the visions to the prophet, and 
not to introduce them ; nor the angel of Jehovah, because he 

CHAP. III. 1-5. 251 

appears in the course of the vision, although in these visions 
he is sometimes identified with Jehovah, and sometimes dis 
tinguished from Him. The scene is the following : Joshua 
stands as high priest before the angel of the Lord, and Satan 
stands at his (Joshua s) right hand as accuser. Satan (hassdtdii) 
is the evil spirit so well known from the book of Job, and the 
constant accuser of men before God (Rev. xii. 10), and not 
Sanballat and his comrades (Kimchi, Drus., Ewald). He 
comes forward here as the enemy and accuser of Joshua, to 
accuse him in his capacity of high priest. The scene is there 
fore a judicial one, and the high priest is not in the sanctuary, 
the building of which had commenced, or engaged in suppli 
cating the mercy of the angel of the Lord for himself and 
the people, as Theodoret and Hengstenberg suppose. The 
expression S JB? 10 y furnishes no tenable proof of this, since it 
cannot be shown that this expression would be an inappropriate 
one to denote the standing of an accused person before the 
judge, or that the Hebrew language had any other expression 
for this. Satan stands on the right side of Joshua, because 
the accuser was accustomed to stand at the right hand of the 
accused (cf. Ps. cix. 6). Joshua is opposed by Satan, however, 
not on account of any personal offences either in his private 
or his domestic life, but in his official capacity as high priest, 
and for sins which were connected with his office, or for 
offences which would involve the nation (Lev. iv. 3) ; though 
not as the bearer of the sins of the people before the Lord, 
but as laden with his own and his people s sins. The dirty 
clothes, which he had on, point to this (ver. 3). But Jehovah, 
i.e. the angel of Jehovah, repels the accuser with the words, 
" Jehovah rebuke thee ; . . . Jehovah who chooseth Jerusalem." 1 
The words are repeated for the sake of emphasis, and with the 
repetition the motive which led Jehovah to reject the accuser 

1 The application made in the Epistle of Jude (ver. 9) of the formula 
" Jehovah rebuke thee," namely, that Michael the archangel did not 
venture to execute upon Satan the xpiais P*eur(pvifAiets, does not warrant 
the conclusion that the angel of the Lord places himself below Jehovah 
by these words. The words "Jehovah rebuke thee" are a standing for 
mula for the utterance of the threat of a divine judgment, from which no 
conclusion can be drawn as to the relation in which the person using it 
stood to God. Moreover, Jude had not our vision in his mind, but another 
event, which has not been preserved in the canonical Scriptures. 


is added. Because Jehovah has chosen Jerusalem, and main 
tains His choice in its integrity (this is implied in the participle 
bocher). He must rebuke Satan, who hopes that his accusa 
tion will have the effect of repealing the choice of Jerusalem, 
by deposing the high priest. For if any sin of the high priest, 
which inculpated the nation, had been sufficient to secure his re 
moval or deposition, the office of high priest would have ceased 
altogether, because no man is without sin. "W3, to rebuke, does 
not mean merely to nonsuit, but to reprove for a thing ; and 
when used of God, to reprove by action, signifying to sweep 
both him and his accusation entirely away. The motive for 
the repulse of the accuser is strengthened by the clause which 
follows : Is he (Joshua) not a brand plucked out of the fire ? 
i.e. one who has narrowly escaped the threatening destruction 
(for the figure, see Amos iv. 11). These words, again, we 
must not take as referring to the high priest as an individual ; 
nor must we restrict their meaning to the fact that Joshua 
had been brought back from captivity, and reinstated in the 
office of high priest. Just as the accusation does not apply 
to the individual, but to the office which Joshua filled, so do 
these words also apply to the supporter of the official dignity. 
The fire, out of which Joshua had been rescued as a brand, 
was neither the evil which had come upon Joshua through 
neglecting the building of the temple (Koehler), nor the guilt 
of allowing his sons to marry foreign wives (Targ., Jerome, 
Rashi, Kimchi) : for in the former case the accusation would 
have come too late, since the building of the temple had been 
resumed five months before (Hag. i. 15, compared with Zech. 
i. 7) ; and in the latter it would have been much too early, 
since these misalliances did not take place till fifty years after 
wards. And, in general, guilt which might possibly lead to 
ruin could not be called a fire ; still less could the cessation 
or removal of this sin be called deliverance out of the fire. 
Fire is a figurative expression for punishment, not for sin. 
The fire out of which Joshua had been saved like a brand was 
the captivity, in which both Joshua and the nation had been 
brought to the verge of destruction. Out of this fire Joshua 
the high priest had been rescued. But, as Kliefoth has aptly 
observed, " the priesthood of Israel was concentrated in the 
high priest, just as the character of Israel as the holy nation 

CHAP. III. 1-5. 253 

was concentrated in the priesthood. The high priest repre 
sented the holiness and priestliness of Israel, and that not 
merely in certain official acts and functions, but so that as a 
particular Levite and Aaronite, and as the head for the time 
being of the house of Aaron, he represented in his own person 
that character of holiness and priestliness which had been 
graciously bestowed by God upon the nation of Israel." This 
serves to explain how the hope that God must rebuke the 
accuser could be made to rest upon the election of Jerusalem, 
i.e. upon the love of the Lord to the whole of His nation. 
The pardon and the promise do not apply to Joshua personally 
any more than the accusation ; but they refer to him in his 
official position, and to the whole nation, and that with regard 
to the special attributes set forth in the high priesthood 
namely, its priestliness and holiness. We cannot, therefore, 
find any better words with which to explain the meaning of 
this vision than those of Kiiefoth. "The character of Israel," 
he says, " as the holy and priestly nation of God, was violated 
violated by the general sin and guilt of the nation, which 
God had been obliged to punish with exile. This guilt of the 
nation, which neutralized the priestliness and holiness of Israel, 
is pleaded by Satan in the accusation which he brings before 
the Maleach of Jehovah against the high priest, who was its 
representative. A nation so guilty and so punished could no 
longer be the holy and priestly nation : its priests could no 
longer be priests ; nor could its high priests be high priests any 
more. But the Maleach of Jehovah sweeps away the accusa 
tion with the assurance that Jehovah, from His grace, and for 
the sake of its election, will still give validity to Israel s priest 
hood, and has already practically manifested this purpose of 
His by bringing it out of its penal condition of exile." 

After the repulse of the accuser, Joshua is cleansed from 
the guilt attaching to him. When he stood before the angel 
of the Lord he had dirty clothes on. The dirty clothes are not 
the costume of an accused person (Drus., Ewald) ; for this 
Roman custom (Lev. ii. 54, vi. 20) was unknown to the 
Hebrews. Dirt is a figurative representation of sin ; so that 
dirty clothes represent defilement with sin and guilt (cf. Isa. 
Ixiv. 5, iv. 4 ; Prov. xxx. 12 ; Rev. iii. 4, vii. 14). The Lord 
had indeed refined His nation in its exile, and in His grace had 


preserved it from destruction ; but its sin was not thereby 
wiped away. The place of grosser idolatry had been taken by 
the more refined idolatry of self-righteousness, selfishness, and 
conformity to the world. And the representative of the nation 
before the Lord was affected with the dirt of these sins, which 
gave Satan a handle for his accusation. But the Lord would 
cleanse His chosen people from this, and make it a holy and 
glorious nation. This is symbolized by what takes place in 
vers. 4 and 5. The angel of the Lord commands those who 
stand before Him, i.e. the angels who serve Him, to take off 
the dirty clothes from the high priest, and put on festal cloth 
ing ; and then adds, by way of explanation to Joshua, Behold, 
I have caused thy guilt to pass away from thee, that is to say, 
I have forgiven thy sin, and justified thee (cf. 2 Sam. xii. 13, 
xxiv. 10), and clothe thee with festal raiment. The inf. abs. 
halbesh stands, as it frequently does, for the finite verb, and 
has its norm in ^1?yn (see at Hag. i. 6). The last words are 
either spoken to the attendant angels as well, or else, what is 
more likely, they are simply passed over in the command given 
to them, and mentioned for the first time here. Machftldtsdth, 
costly clothes, which were only worn on festal occasions (see at 
Isa. iii. 22). They are not symbols of innocence and righteous 
ness (Chald.), which are symbolized by clean or white raiment 
(Rev. iii. 4, vii. 9) ; nor are they figurative representations of joy 
(Koehler), but are rather symbolical of glory. The high priest, 
and the nation in him, are not only to be cleansed from sin, 
and justified, but to be sanctified and glorified as well. Ver. 5. 
At this moment the prophet feels compelled to utter the prayer 
that they may also put a clean mitre upon Joshua s head, which 
prayer is immediately granted. The prayer appears at first to 
be superfluous, inasmuch as the mitre would certainly not be 
forgotten when the dirty clothes were taken away and the festal 
dress was put on. Nevertheless, the fact that it is granted 
shows that it was not superfluous. The meaning of the prayer 
was hardly that the high priest might be newly attired from 
head to foot, as Hengstenberg supposes, but is rather connected 
with the significance of the mitre. Tsdnlph is not a turban, 
such as might be worn by anybody (Koehler), but the head 
dress of princely persons and kings (Job xxix. 14 ; Isa. Ixii. 3), 
and is synonymous with mitsnepheth, the technical word for the 

CHAP. III. 6-10. 255 

tiara prescribed for the high priest in the law (Ex. and Lev.), 
as we may see from Ezek. xxi. 31, where the regal diadem, 
which is called tsdniph in Isa. Ixii. 3, is spoken of under the 
name of mitsnepheth. The turban of the high priest was that 
portion of his dress in which he carried his office, so to speak, 
upon his forehead ; and the clean turban was the substratum 
for the golden plate that was fastened upon it, and by which 
he was described as holy to the Lord, and called to bear the 
guilt of the children of Israel (Ex. xxviii. 38). The prayer 
for a clean mitre to be put upon his head, may therefore be 
accounted for from the wish that Joshua should not only be 
splendidly decorated, but should be shown to be holy, and 
qualified to accomplish the expiation of the people. Purity, 
as the earthly type of holiness, forms the foundation for glory. 
In the actual performance of the matter, therefore, the putting 
on of the clean mitre is mentioned first, and then the clothing 
with festal robes. This took place in the presence of the angel 
of the Lord. That is the meaning of the circumstantial clause, 
" and the angel of the Lord stood " (ritwn tanquam herus im- 
perans, probans et prcesentia sua ornans, C. B. Mich.), and not 
merely that the angel of the Lord, who had hitherto been 
sitting in the judge s seat, rose up from his seat for the pur 
pose of speaking while the robing was going on (Hofmann, 
Koehler). 1BJJ does not mean to stand up, but simply to 
remain standing. 

Vers. 6-10. In these verses there follows a prophetic ad 
dress, in which the angel of the Lord describes the symbolical 
action of the re-clothing of the high priest, according to its 
typical significance in relation to the continuance and the 
future of the kingdom of God. Yer. 6. "And the angel of 
the Lord testified to Joshua, and said, Ver. 7. Thus saith 
Jehovah of hosts, If thou slialt walk in my ways, and keep my 
charge, thou shalt both judge my house and keep my courts, and 
I will give thee ways among these standing here. Ver. 8. Hear 
then, thou high priest .Joshua, thou, and thy comrades who sit 
before thee : yea, men of wonder are they : for, behold, I bring my 
servant Zemach (Sprout). Ver. 9. For behold the stone which 
I have laid before Joshua ; upon one stone are seven eyes : behold 
I engrave its carving, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, and 1 
clear away the iniquity of this land in one day. Ver. 10. In that 


day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, ye will invite one another 
under the vine and under the fig-tree." In ver. 7 not only is 
the high priest confirmed in his office, but the perpetuation 
and glorification of his official labours are promised. As 
Joshua appears in this vision as the supporter of the office, 
this promise does not apply to Joshua himself so much as 
to the office, the continuance of which is indeed bound up 
with the fidelity of those who sustain it. The promise in 
ver. 7 therefore begins by giving prominence to this .con 
dition : If thou wilt walk in my ways, etc. Walking in the 
ways of the Lord refers to the personal attitude of the priests 
towards the Lord, or to fidelity in their personal relation to 
God ; and keeping the charge of Jehovah, to the faithful 
performance of their official duties (shdmar mishmartlj noticing 
what has to be observed in relation to Jehovah ; see at Lev. 
viii. 35). The apodosis begins with HfiN DJ1, and not with 
ynnjl. This is required not only by the emphatic attdh, 
but also by the clauses commencing with v e gam ; whereas 
the circumstance, that the tense only changes with v e ndthatti, 
and that tddln and tishmor are still imperfects, has its simple 
explanation in the fact, that on account of the gam, the verbs 
could not be linked together with Vav, and placed at the head 
of the clauses. Taken by themselves, the clauses v e gam tddln 
and v e gam tishmor might express a duty of the high priest quite 
as well as a privilege. If they were taken as apodoses, they would 
express an obligation ; but in that case they would appear some 
what superfluous, because the obligations of the high priest are 
fully explained in the two previous clauses. If, on the other hand, 
the apodosis commences with them, they contain, in the form of a 
promise, a privilege which is set before the high priest as awaiting 
him in the future namely, the privilege of still further attend 
ing to the service of the house of God, which had been called 
in question by Satan s accusation. X 1 " 1 ?" H> to judge the 
house of God, i.e. to administer right in relation to the house of 
God, namely, in relation to the duties devolving upon the high 
priest in the sanctuary as such ; hence the right administration 
of the service in the holy place and the holy of holies. This 
limitation is obvious from the parallel clause, to keep the courts, 
in which the care of the ordinary performance of worship in the 
courts, and the keeping of everything of an idolatrous nature 

CHAP. III. 6-10. 257 

from the house of God, are transferred to him. And to this a 
new and important promise is added in the last clause ( W ^OJl). 
The meaning of this depends upon the explanation given to the 
word D opnft. Many commentators regard this as a Chaldaic 
form of the hiphil participle (after Dan. iii. 25, iv. 34), and take 
it either in the intransitive sense of " those walking" (LXX., 
Pesh., Vulg., Luth., Hofm., etc.), or in the transitive sense of 
those conducting the leaders (Ges., Hengst., etc.). But apart 
from the fact that the hiphil of :j?n in Hebrew is always written 
either SfWI or *|y*fl| and has never anything but a transitive 
meaning, this view is precluded by the P?, for which we should 
expect PSB or \o, since the meaning could only be, "I give thee 
walkers or leaders between those standing here," i.e. such as 
walk to and fro between those standing here (Hofmann), or, 
" I will give thee leaders among (from) these angels who are 
standing here" (Hengstenberg). In the former case, the high 
priest would receive a promise that he should always have 
angels to go to and fro between himself and Jehovah, to carry 
up his prayers, and bring down revelations from God, and sup 
plies of help (John i. 52 ; Hofmann). This thought would be 
quite a suitable one ; but it is not contained in the words, 
"since the angels, even if they walk between the standing 
angels and in the midst of them, do not go to and fro between 
Jehovah and Joshua" (Kliefoth). In the latter case the high 
priest would merely receive a general assurance of the assist 
ance of superior angels ; and for such a thought as this the 
expression would be an extremely marvellous one, and the pa 
would be used incorrectly. We must therefore follow Calvin 
and others, who take D^pnfcp as a substantive, from a singular 
^n, formed after 3VTO, SDDB, Ato, or else as a plural of ^no, 
to be pointed B^nD (Ros., Hitzig, Kliefoth). The words then 
add to the promise, which ensured to the people the continu 
ance of the priesthood and of the blessings which it conveyed, 
this new feature, that the high priest would also receive a free 
access to God, which had not yet been conferred upon him by 
his office. This points to a time when the restrictions of the 
Old Testament will be swept away. The further address, in 
vers. 8 and 9, announces how God will bring about this new 
time or future. To show the importance of what follows, 
Joshua is called upon to " hear." It is doubtful where what 

VOL. 71. R 


lie is to hear commences ; for the idea, that after the summons 
to attend, the successive, chain-like explanation of the reason 
for this summons passes imperceptibly into that to which he is 
to give heed, is hardly admissible, and has only been adopted 
because it was found difficult to discover the true commence 
ment of the address. The earlier theologians (Chald., Jerome, 
Theod. Mops., Theodoret, and Calvin), and even Hitzig and 
Ewald, take K 3O ^n ^ (for behold I will bring forth). But 
these words are evidently explanatory of nftn nsto Hws (men 
of wonder, etc.). Nor can it commence with umasJitl (and I 
remove), as Hofmann supposes (Weiss, u. Erf till. i. 339), or 
with ver. 9, " for behold the stone," as he also maintains in his 
Schriftbeweis (ii. 1, pp. 292-3, 508-9). The first of these is 
precluded not only by the fact that the address would be cut 
far too short, but also by the cop. Vav before mashti ; and the 
second by the fact that the words, " for behold the stone," etc., 
in ver. 9, are unmistakeably a continuation and further explana 
tion of the words, " for behold I will bring forth my servant 
Zemach," in ver. 8. The address begins with " thou and thy 
fellows," since the priests could not be called upon to hear, 
inasmuch as they were not present. Joshua s comrades who sit 
before him are the priests who sat in the priestly meetings in 
front of the high priest, the president of the assembly, so that 
yoshebli Upline corresponds to our " assessors." The following 
kl introduces the substance of the address ; and when the 
subject is placed at the head absolutely, it is used in the sense 
of an asseveration, " yea, truly" (cf . Gen. xviii. 20 ; Ps. cxviii. 
10-12, cxxviii. 2 ; and Ewald, 330, b). Anshe mopheth, men 
of miracle, or of a miraculous sign, as mopheth, TO repa^ por- 
tentum, miraculum, embraces the idea of nix, arji^etov (cf. Isa. 
viii. 18), are men who attract attention to themselves by some 
thing striking, and are types of what is to come, so that mophet/i 
really corresponds to TUTTO? TCOV fj,e\\6vT(0v (see at Ex. iv. 21, 
Isa. viii. 18). ^ran stands for DHN, the words passing over from 
the second person to the third on the resuming of the subject, 
which is placed at the head absolutely, just as in Zeph. ii. 12, and 
refers not only to TJTj, but to Joshua and his comrades. They 
are men of typical sign, but not simply on account of the office 
which they hold, viz. because their mediatorial priesthood points 
to the mediatorial office and atoning work of the Messiah, as* most 

CHAP. III. 6-10. 259 

of the commentators assume. For " this applies, in the first 
place, not only to Joshua and his priests, but to the Old Testa 
ment priesthood generally ; and secondly, there was nothing 
miraculous in this mediatorial work of the priesthood, which 
must have been the case if they were to be mopheth. The 
miracle, which is to be seen in Joshua and his priests, consists 
rather in the fact that the priesthood of Israel is laden with 
guilt, but by the grace of God it has been absolved, and 
accepted by God again, as the deliverance from exile shows," 
and Joshua and his priests are therefore brands plucked by 
the omnipotence of grace from the fire of merited judgment 
(Kliefoth). This miracle of grace which has been wrought for 
them, points beyond itself to an incomparably greater and better 
act of the sin-absolving grace of God, which is still in the 
future. This is the way in which the next clause, " for I bring 
my servant Zemach," which is explanatory of anshe mopheth 
(men of miracle), attaches itself. The word Tsemach is used 
by Zechariah simply as a proper name of the Messiah ; and the 
combination abhdl Tsemach (my servant Tsemach) is precisely 
the same as *abhdi David (my servant David) in Ezek. xxxiv. 23, 
24, xxxvii. 24, or " my servant Job" in Job i. 8, ii. 3, etc. The 
objection raised by Koehler namely, that if tsemach, as a more 
precise definition of abhdi (my servant), or as an announcement 
what servant of Jehovah is intended, were used as a proper name, 
it would either be construed with the article (TOfn), or else we 
should have tew n ^ay as in ch. vi. 12 is quite groundless. 
For " if poets or prophets form new proper names at pleasure, 
such names, even when deprived of the article, easily assume 
the distinguishing sign of most proper names, like Mgoddh and 
m sJmbhdh in Jer. in." (Ewald, 277, c.) It is different wit/ 
tew in ch. vi. 12 ; there sh e md is needed for the sake of the 
sense, as in 1 Sam. i. 1 and Job i. 1, and does not serve to 
designate the preceding word as a proper name, but simply to 
define the person spoken of more precisely by mentioning his 
name. Zechariah has formed the name Tsemach, Sprout, or 
Shoot, primarily from Jer. xxiii. 5 and xxxiii. 15, where the 
promise is given that a righteous Sprout (tsemach tsaddlq), or 
a Sprout of righteousness, shall be raised up to Jacob. And 
Jeremiah took the figurative description of the great descen 
dant of David, who will create righteousness upon the earth, as 


a tsemach \vliicli Jehovah will raise up, or cause to shoot up 
to David, from Isa. xi. 1, 2, liii. 2, according to which the 
Messiah is to spring up as a rod out of the stern of Jesse that 
has been hewn down, or as a root-shoot out of dry ground. 
TsemacJi, therefore, denotes the Messiah in His origin from 
the family of David that has fallen into humiliation, as a 
sprout which will grow up from its original state of humilia 
tion to exaltation and glory, and answers therefore to the train 
of thought in this passage, in which the deeply humiliated 
priesthood is exalted by the grace of the Lord into a type of 
the Messiah. Whether the designation of the sprout as " my 
servant" is taken from Isa. Hi. 13 and liii. 11 (cf. xlii. 1, xlix. 3), 
or formed after " my servant David" in Ezek. xxxiv. 24, xxxvii. 
^4, is a point which cannot be decided, and is of no importance 
to the matter in hand. The circumstance that the removal of 
iniquity, which is the peculiar work of the Messiah, is men 
tioned in ver. 96, furnishes no satisfactory reason for deducing 
abhdl tsemacli pre-eminently from Isa. liii. For in ver. 9 the 
removal of iniquity is only mentioned in the second rank, in the 
explanation of Jehovah s purpose to bring His servant Tsemach. 
The first rank is assigned to the stone, which Jehovah has laid 
before Joshua, etc. The answer to the question, what this 
stone signifies, or who is to be understood by it, depends upon 
the view we take of the w r ords B^y . . . J3X ?y. Most of the 
commentators admit that these words do not form a parenthesis 
(Hitzig, Ewald), but introduce a statement concerning |2Nn nan. 
Accordingly, 131 |3sn nan is placed at the head absolutely, and 
resumed in nn J2N bv. This statement may mean, either upon 
one stone are seven eyes (visible or to be found), or seven eyes 
are directed upon one stone. For although, in the latter case, 
we should expect ^ instead of ?V (according to Ps. xxxiii. 18, 
xxxiv. 16), 7V TV && does occur in the sense of the exercise of 
loving care (Gen. xliv. 21 ; Jer. xxxix. 12, xl. 4). But if the 
seven eyes were to be seen upon the stone, they could only be 
engraved or drawn upon it. And what follows, Ul DFISD ^n, 
does not agree with this, inasmuch as, according to this, the 
engraving upon the stone had now first to take place instead 
of having been done already, since hinneh followed by a par 
ticiple never expresses what has already occurred, but always 
what is to take place in the future. For this reason we must 

CHAP. III. 6-10. 2G1 

decide that the seven eyes are directed towards the stone, or 
watch over it with protecting care. But this overthrows the 
view held by the expositors of the early church, and defended 
by Kliefoth, namely, that the stone signifies the Messiah, 
after Isa. xxviii. 16 and Ps. cxviii. 22, a view with which the 
expression ndthattl, " given, laid before Joshua," can hardly be 
reconciled, even if this meant that Joshua was to see with his 
own eyes, as something actually present, that God was laying 
the foundation-stone. Still less can we think of the founda 
tion-stone of the temple (Ros., Hitz.), since this had been laid 
long ago, and we cannot see for what purpose it was to be 
engraved ; or of the stone which, according to the Rabbins, 
occupied the empty place of the ark of the covenant in the 
most holy place of the second temple (Hofmann) ; or of a pre 
cious stone in the breastplate of the high priest. The stone is 
the symbol of the kingdom of God, and is laid by Jehovah 
before Joshua, by God s transferring to him the regulation of 
His house and the keeping of His courts (before, lipling, in a 
spiritual sense, as in 1 Kings ix. 6, for example). The seven 
eyes, which watch with protecting care over this stone, are not 
a figurative representation of the all-embracing providence of 
God ; but, in harmony with the seven eyes of the Lamb, which 
are the seven Spirits of God (Rev. v. 6), and with the seven 
eyes of Jehovah (Zech. iv. 10), they are the sevenfold radia 
tions of the Spirit of Jehovah (after Isa. xi. 2), which show 
themselves in vigorous action upon this stone, to prepare it for 
its destination. This preparation is called pitledch pittuchdh in 
harmony with the figure of the stone (cf. Ezek. xxviii. 9, 11). 
" I will engrave the engraving thereof," i.e. engrave it so as to 
prepare it for a beautiful and costly stone. The preparation of 
this stone, i.e. the preparation of the kingdom of God established 
in Israel, by the powers of the Spirit of the Lord, is one feature 
in which the bringing of the tsemach will show itself. The other 
consists in the wiping away of the iniquity of this land. Mush 
is used here in a transitive sense, to cause to depart, to wipe away. 
KVin pN? (that land) is the land of Canaan or Judah, which will 
extend in the Messianic times over the whole earth. The de 
finition of the time, b e yom echdd, cannot of course mean " on one 
and the same day," so as to affirm that the communication of the 
true nature to Israel, namely, of one well pleasing to God, and 


tlie removal of guilt from the land, would take place simultane 
ously (Hofmann, Koehler) ; but the expression " in one day " 
is substantially the same as e^dtra^ in Ileb. vii. 27, ix. 12, x. 10, 
and affirms that the wiping away of sin to be effected by the 
Messiah (tsemach) will not resemble that effected by the typical 
priesthood, which had to be continually repeated, but will bo 
all finished at once. This one day is the day of Golgotha. 
Accordingly, the thought of this verse is the following : 
Jehovah will cause His servant Tsemach to come, because He 
will prepare His kingdom gloriously, and exterminate all the 
sins of His people and land at once. By the wiping away of 
all guilt and iniquity, not only of that which rests upon the 
land (Koehler), but also of that of the inhabitants of the land, 
i.e. of the whole nation, all the discontent and all the misery 
which flow from sin will be swept away, and a state of blessed 
peace will ensue for the purified church of God. This is the 
thought of the tenth verse, which is formed after Mic. iv. 4 
and 1 Kings v. 5, and with which the vision closes. The next- 
vision shows the glory of the purified church. 


Ver. 1. "And the angel that talked with me returned and 
waked me, like a man who is waked out of his sleep." After the 
prophet has seen four visions one after another, probably with 
very short intervals, and has heard the marvellous interpreta 
tion of them, he is so overpowered by the impression produced 
by what he has seen and heard, that he falls into a state of 
spiritual exhaustion resembling sleep, just as Peter and his 
companions were unable to keep awake at the transfiguration 
of Christ (Luke ix. 32). He has not only fallen back into 
the state of ordinary human consciousness, but his ordinary 
spiritual consciousness was so depressed that he resembled a 
man asleep, and had to be waked out of this sleep-like state 
by the mediating angel, in order to be qualified for further 
seeing. It is evident from the expression 3V*\ (and he returned) 
that the angelus interpres had left the prophet after the ter 
mination of the previous visions, and now came back to him 
again. The fresh vision which presents itself to his spiritual 

CHAP. IV. 2, 3. 263 

intuition, is described according to its principal features in 
vers. 2 and 3. Ver. 2. " And he said to me, What seest thou ? 
And I said, I see, and behold a candlestick all of gold, and its 
oil-vessel up above it, and its seven lamps upon it, seven pipes 
each for the lamps upon the top of it. Ver. 3. And two olive 
trees (oil trees) by it, one to the right of the oil-vessel, and one 
to the left-of it." The second IBK I (chethib) in ver. 2 might, 
if necessary, be explained in the way proposed by L. de Dieu, 
Gusset., and Hofmann, viz. by supposing that the mediating 
angel had no sooner asked the prophet what he saw, than he 
proceeded, without waiting for his answer, to give a description 
himself of what was seen. But this is at variance with the 
analogy of all the rest of the visions, where the visions seen by 
the prophet are always introduced with ^^ or ^"INI followed 
by "^ril (cf. ch. i. 8, ii. 1, 5, v. 1, vi. 1), and it remains quite 
inflexible; so that we must accept the keri "TON), which is adopted 
by the early translators, and found in many codd., as being 
the true reading, and pronounce ")DK I 1 a copyist s error. On 
the combination Fi?3 2HT rnfap, in which the last two words are 
construed as a relative clause in subordination to m e norath, see 
Ewald, 332, c. The visionary candlestick, all of gold, with 
its seven lamps, is unquestionably a figurative representation 
of the seven-branched golden candlestick in the tabernacle, 
and differs from this only in the three following additions 
which are peculiar to itself : (1) That it has its gulldh (^ 
for nnpa, with the feminine termination resolved ; cf. Hos. 
xiii. 2, and Ewald, 257, d), i.e. a can or round vessel for the 
oil, which was omitted altogether from the candlestick of the 
holy place, when the lamps were filled with oil by the priests, 
"at the top of it" (ay*H>$) ; (2) That it had seven mutsdqoth 
(pipes) each for the lamps, that is to say, tubes through which 
the oil poured from the gulldh into the lamps, or was conducted 
to them, whereas the candlestick of the tabernacle had no pipes, 
but only seven arms (qdmm), for the purpose of holding the 
lamps, which of course could not be wanting in the case of the 
visionary candlestick, and are merely omitted from the descrip 
tion as being self-evident. The number of the pipes is also a 
disputed point, viz. whether nyn^ i HV3^ means seven and seven, 
i.e. fourteen, or whether it is to be taken distributively, seven 
each for the lamps, i.e. seven for each lamp, and therefore 


forty-nine for the seven. The distributive view is disputed by 
Hitzig and Koehler as at variance with the usage of the lan 
guage : the former proposing to alter the text, so as to obtain 
seven pipes, i.e. one for each lamp ; and the latter, on the other 
hand, assuming that there were fourteen pipes, and inferring 
from the statement " seven and seven," instead of fourteen, 
that the second seven are to be sought in a different place 
from the first, that is to say, that the first seven led from the 
oil-vessel to the seven different lamps, whilst the second seven 
connected the seven lamps with one another, which would have 
been a very strange and perfectly useless provision. But there 
is no foundation whatever for the assertion that it is at variance 
with the usage of the language. For although a distributive 
relation is certainly expressed as a rule by the simple repetition 
of the number without any connecting Fav, such passages as 
2 Sam. xxi. 20 and 1 Chron. xx. 6 show quite indisputably that 
the repetition of the same number with the Vav cop. between is 
also to be taken distributively. When, for example, it is stated 
in 2 Sam. xxi. 20, with regard to the hero of Gath, that the 
fingers of his hands and the fingers (toes) of his feet were 
" shesh vdsheshy four-and- twenty in number," it is evident that 
shesh vdshesh cannot mean " six and six," because six and six 
do not make twenty-four ; and a division of the sliesh between 
the hands and feet is also untenable, because his two hands had 
hot six fingers on them, but twelve, and so his two feet had 
not six toes on them, but twelve. Consequently sliesh vdshesh 
must be taken distributively : the fingers of his (two) hands 
and the toes of his (two) feet were six each ; for it is only 
2 + 2 (= 4) X 6 that can give 24. This is shown still more 
clearly in 1 Chron. xx. 6 : " and his fingers were shesh vdshesh, 
four-and-twenty." It is in this distributive sense, which is thus 
thoroughly established, so far as the usage of the language is 
concerned, that tt WIW njnp is to be taken : seven pipes 
each for the lamps, i.e. forty-nine for the seven lamps ; inas 
much as if fourteen pipes w r ere meant, it would be impos 
sible to imagine any reason why " seven and seven " should be 
written instead of fourteen. And we cannot be shaken in this 
conviction, either by the objection " that if there was any pro 
portion between the pipes and the size of the oil-vessel, such a 
number of pipes could not possibly (?) spring from one oil-can 5> 

CHAP. IV. 4-7. 265 

(Koehler), or by the statement that "forty-nine would be quite 
as much at variance with the original as fourteen, since that 
had only one pipe for every lamp" (Hitzig). For the supposed 
original for the pipes had no existence, inasmuch as the Mosaic 
candlestick had no pipes at all ; and we can form no opinion 
as to the possibility of forty-nine pipes issuing from one oil- 
vessel, because we have no information as to the size either of 
the oil-vessel or of the pipes. (3) The third peculiarity in the 
visionary candlestick consists in the olive trees on the right and 
left of the oil-vessel, which supplied it with oil, and whose con 
nection with the candlestick is first described in ver. 12. These 
three additions which were made to the golden candlestick 
seen by Zechariah, as contrasted with the golden candlestick 
of the tabernacle, formed the apparatus through which it was 
supplied with the oil required to light it continually without 
the intervention of man. 

The interpretation of this vision must therefore be founded 
upon the meaning of the golden candlestick in the symbolism 
of the tabernacle, and be in harmony with it. The prophet 
receives, first of all, the following explanation, in reply to his 
question on this point : Ver. 4. " A nd I answered and spake 
to the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord f 
Ver. 5. And the angel that talked with me answered and said to 
me, Knowest thou not what these are ? And I said. No, my lord. 
Ver. 6. Then he answered and spake to me thus: This is the 
word of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, and not by 
power, but by my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 7. Who 
art thou, great mountain before Zerubbabel? Into a plain! 
And He will bring out the top-stone amidst shoutings, Grace, 
grace unto it! 19 The question addressed by the prophet to the 
mediating angel, " What are these ? " (mdh elleh, as in ch. ii. 2) 
does not refer to the two olive trees only (Umbreit, Kliefoth), 
but to everything described in vers. 2 and 3. We are not 
warranted in assuming that the prophet, like every other 
Israelite, knew what the candlestick with its seven lamps sig 
nified ; and even if Zechariah had been perfectly acquainted 
with the meaning of the golden candlestick in the holy place, 
the candlestick seen by him had other things beside the two 
olive trees which were not to be found in the candlestick of 
the temple, viz. the gulldh and the pipes for the lamps, which 


might easily make the meaning of the visionary candlestick a 
doubtful thing. And the counter-question of the angel, in 
which astonishment is expressed, is not at variance with this* 
For that simply presupposes that the object of these additions 
is so clear, that their meaning might be discovered from the 
meaning of the candlestick itself. The angel then gives him 
the answer in ver. 6 : " This (the vision as a symbolical pro 
phecy) is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel : Not by might," 
etc. That is to say, through this vision Zerubbabel is informed 
that it namely, the work which Zerubbabel has taken in hand 
or has to carry out will not be effected by human strength, 
but by the Spirit of God. The work itself is not mentioned 
by the angel, but is referred to for the first time in ver. 7 in 
the words, "He will bring out the top-stone," and then still 
more clearly described in the word of Jehovah in ver. 9 : 
" The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this 
house (the temple), and his hands will finish it." It by no 
means follows from this that the candlestick, with its seven 
lamps, represented Zerubbabel s temple (Grotius, Hofmann) ; 
for whilst it is impossible that the candlestick, as one article 
of furniture in the temple, should be a figurative representation 
of the whole temple, what could the two olive trees, which sup 
plied the candlestick with oil, signify with such an interpreta 
tion? Still less can the seven lamps represent the seven eyes 
of God (ver. 10), according to which the candlestick would be 
a symbol of God or of the Spirit (Hitzig, Maurer, Schegg). 
The significance of the candlestick in the holy place centred, 
as I have shown in my biblische Archdologie (i. p. 107), 
in its seven lamps, which were lighted every evening, and 
burned through the night. The burning lamps were a symbol 
of the church or of the nation of God, which causes the light 
of its spirit, or of its knowledge of God, to shine before the 
Lord, and lets it stream out into the night of a world 
estranged from God. As the disciples of Christ were called, 
as lights of the world (Matt. v. 14), to let their lamps burn and 
shine, or, as candlesticks in the world (Luke xii. 35 ; Phil, 
ii. 15), to shine with their light before men (Matt. v. 16), so 
was the church of the Old Testament also. The correctness 
of this explanation of the meaning of the candlestick is placed 
beyond all doubt by Rev. i. 20, where the seven Xv^vicu, which 

CHAP. IV. 4-7. 267 

John saw before the throne of God, are explained as being 
the seven eV/cX^cr/ai, which represent the new people of God, 
viz. the Christian church. The candlestick itself merely comes 
into consideration here as the stand which carried the lamps, 
in order that they might shine, and as such was the divinely 
appointed form for the realization of the purpose of the 
shining lamps. In this respect it might be taken as a symbol 
of the kingdom of God on its formal side, i.e. of the divinely 
appointed organism for the perpetuation and life of the church. 
But the lamps received their power to burn from the oil, 
with which they had to be filled before they could possibly 
burn. Oil, regarded according to its capacity to invigorate 
the body and increase the energy of the vital spirits, is used 
in the Scriptures as a symbol of the Spirit of God, not in its 
transcendent essence, but so far as it works in the world, and 
is indwelling in the church ; and not merely the anointing oil, 
as Kliefoth supposes, but also the lamp oil, since the Israelites 
had no other oil than olive oil even for burning, and this was 
used for anointing also. 1 And in the case of the candlestick, 
the oil comes into consideration as a symbol of the Spirit of 
God. There is no force in Kliefoth s objection namely, that 
inasmuch as the oil of the candlestick was to be presented by 
the people, it could not represent the Holy Spirit with its 
power and grace, as coming from God to man, but must rather 

1 The distinction between lamp oil and anointing oil, upon winch 
Kliefoth founds his interpretation of the visionary candlestick, and which 
he tries to uphold from the language itself, by the assertion that the 
anointing oil is always called shemen, whereas the lamp oil is called yitshar, 
is shown to be untenable by the simple fact that, in the minute description 
of the preparation of the lamp oil for the sacred candlestick, and the 
repeated allusion to this oil in the Pentateuch, the term yitshar is never 
used, but always shemen, although the word yitshar is by no means foreign 
to the Pentateuch, but occurs in Num. xviii. 12, Deut. vii. 13, xi. 14, 
xii. 17, and other passages. According to Ex. xxvii. 20, the lamp oil for 
the candlestick was to be prepared from shemen zayith zdkh kathlth, pure, 
beaten olive oil (so also according to Lev. xxiv. 2) ; and according to 
Ex. xxx. 24, shemen zayiih, olive oil, was to be used for anointing oil. 
Accordingly the lamp oil for the candlestick is called shemen lammffor in 
Ex. xxv. 6, xxxv. 8, 28, and shemen hammffor in Ex. xxxv. 14, xxxix. 37, 
and Num. iv. 16 ; and the anointing oil is called shemen hammishchah in 
Ex. xxix. 7, xxxi. 11, xxxv. 15, xxxix. 38, xl. 9, Lev. viii. 2, 10, and 
other passages; and shemen mishchath-qodesh in Ex. xxx. 25. Apart from 


represent something human, which being given up to God, is 
cleansed by God through the fire of His word and Spirit ; and 
being quickened thereby, is made into a shining light. For, 
apart from the fact that the assumption upon which this argu 
ment is founded namely, that in the oil of the candlestick the 
Spirit of God was symbolized by the altar fire with which it 
was lighted is destitute of all scriptural support, since it is 
not mentioned anywhere that the lamps of the candlestick were 
lighted with fire taken from the altar of burnt-offering, but 
it is left quite indefinite where the light or fire for kindling 
the lamps was to be taken from ; apart, I say, from this, such 
an argument proves too much (wtmtttm, ergo nihil), because 
the anointing oil did not come directly from God, but was 
also presented by the people. Supposing, therefore, that this 
circumstance was opposed to the symbolical meaning of the 
lamp oil, it would also be impossible that the anointing oil 
should be a symbol of the Holy Ghost, since not only the oil, 
but the spices also, which were used in preparing the anointing 
oil, were given by the people (Ex. xxv. 6). We might indeed 
say, with Kliefoth, that " the oil, as the fatness of the fruit of 
the olive tree, is the last pure result of the whole of the vital 
process of the olive tree, and therefore the quintessence of its 
nature ; and that man also grows, and flourishes, and bears 
fruit like an olive tree; and therefore the fruit of his life s fruit, 

vcr. 14 of the chapter before us, yitshar is never used for the lamp oil as 
such, but simply in the enumeration of the productions of the land, or of 
the tithes and first-fruits, when it occurs in connection with tlrosh, must or 
new wine (Num. xviii. 12 ; Deut. vii. 13, xi. 14, xiv. 23, xviii. 4, xxviii. 51 ; 
2 Chron. xxxi. 5, xxxii. 28; Neh. v. 11, x. 40, xiii. 12; Hos. ii. 10, 24; 
Joel i. 10, ii. 19, 24 ; Jer. xxxi. 12 ; Hag. i. 11), but never in connection 
with yayin (wine), with which shemen is connected (1 Cbron. xix. 40 ; 
2 Chron. ii. 14, xi. 11 ; Prov. xxi. 17 ; Jer. xl. 10). It is evident from 
this that yitshar, the shining, bears the same relation to shemen, fatness, as 
tlrosh, must, to yayin, wine, namely, that yitsliar is applied to oil as the 
juice of the olive, i.e. as the produce of the land, from its shining colour, 
whilst shemen is the name given to it when its strength and use are con 
sidered. Hengstenberg s opinion, that yitshar is the rhetorical or poetical 
name for oil, has no real foundation in the circumstance that yitshar only 
occurs once in the first four books of the Pentateuch (Num. xviii. 12) 
and shemen occurs very frequently ; whereas in Deuteronomy yitshar is 
used more frequently than shemen, viz. the former six times, and the latter 

CHAP. iv. 4-7. 269 

the produce of his personality and of the unfolding of his life, 
may be compared to oil." But it must also be added (and this 
Kliefoth has overlooked), that the olive tree could not grow, 
flourish, and bear fruit, unless God first of all implanted or 
communicated the power to grow and bear fruit, and then gave 
it rain and sunshine and the suitable soil for a prosperous 
growth. And so man also requires, for the production of the 
spiritual fruits of life, not only the kindling of this fruit by 
the fire of the word and Spirit of God, but also the continued 
nourishment and invigoration of this fruit through God s word 
and Spirit, just as the lighting and burning of the lamps are 
not effected simply by the kindling of the flame, but it is also 
requisite that the oil should possess the power to burn and 
shine. In this double respect the candlestick, with its burning 
and shining lamps, was a symbol of the church of God, which 
lets the L uit of its life, which is not only kindled but also 
nourished by the Holy Spirit, shine before God. And the 
additions made to the visionary candlestick indicate generally, 
that the church of the Lord will be supplied with the con 
ditions and requirements necessary to enable it to burn and 
shine perpetually, i.e. that the daughter of Zion will never fail 
to have the Spirit of God, to make its candlestick bright. (See 
at ver. 14.) 

There is no difficulty whatever in reconciling the answer of 
the angel in ver. 6 with the meaning of the candlestick, as 
thus unfolded according to its leading features, without having 
to resort to what looks like a subterfuge, viz. the idea that 
ver. 6 does not contain an exposition, but passes on to some 
thing new, or without there being any necessity to account, as 
Koehler does, for the introduction of the candlestick, which he 
has quite correctly explained (though he weakens the explana 
tion by saying that it applies primarily to Zerubbabel), namely, 
by assuming that " it was intended, on the one hand, to remind 
him what the calling of Israel was ; and, on the other hand, to 
admonish him that Israel could never reach this calling by the 
increase of its might and the exaltation of its strength, but 
solely by suffering itself to be filled with the Spirit of Jehovah." 
For the candlestick does not set forth the object after which 
Israel is to strive, but symbolizes the church of God, as it will 
shine in the splendour of the light received through the Spirit 


of God. It therefore symbolizes the future glory of the people 
of God. Israel will not acquire this through human power 
and might, but through the Spirit of the Lord, in whose power 
Zerubbabel will accomplish the work he has begun. Ver. 7 
does not contain a new promise for Zerubbabel, that if he lays 
to heart the calling of Israel, and acts accordingly, i.e. if he re 
sists the temptation to bring Israel into a free and independent 
position by strengthening its external power, the difficulties 
which have lain in the way of the completion of the building 
of the temple will clear away of themselves by the command 
of Jehovah (Koehler). For there is not the slightest intimation 
of any such temptation as that supposed to have presented 
itself to Zerubbabel, either in the vision itself or in the histo 
rical and prophetical writings of that time. Moreover, ver. 7 
has not at all the form of a promise, founded upon the laying 
to heart of what has been previously mentioned. The con 
tents of the verse are not set forth as anything new either by 
njiT DtM (saith Jehovah), or by any other introductory formula, 
It can only be a further explanation of the word of Jehovah, 
which is still covered by the words " saith Jehovah of hosts " 
at the close of ver. 6. The contents of the verse, when pro 
perly understood, clearly lead to this. The great mountain 
before Zerubbabel is to become a plain, not by human power, 
but by the Spirit of Jehovah. The meaning is given in the 
second hemistich : He (Zerubbabel) will bring out the top- 
stone. K tfrn is not a simple preterite, " he has brought out 
the foundation-stone" (viz. at the laying of the foundation of 
the temple), as Hengstenberg supposes ; but a future, " he 
will bring out," as is evident from the Vav consec., through 
which K^n is attached to the preceding command as a conse*- 
quence to which it leads. Moreover, n^on |3Ni does not mean 
the foundation-stone, which is called H3B }3N 7 lit. corner-stone 
(Job xxxviii. 6; Isa. xxviii. 16; Jer. li. 26), or H33 p fch, the 
head-stone of the corner (Ps. cxviii. 22), but the stone of the 
top, i.e. the finishing or gable stone (rtK^on with raphe as a 
feminine form of K^T), and in apposition to }?^?). ^-P 1 " 1 ? to 
bring out, namely out of the workshop in which it had been 
cut, to set it in its proper place in the wall. That these words 
refer to the finishing of the building of the temple which 
Zerubbabel had begun, is placed beyond all doubt by ver. 9. 

CHAP. IV. 4-7. 271 

The great mountain, therefore, is apparently " a figure denot 
ing the colossal difficulties, which rose up mountain high at the 
continuation and completion of the building of the temple." 
Koehler adopts this explanation in common with " the majority 
of commentators." But, notwithstanding this appearance, we 
must adhere to the view adopted by the Chald., Jerome, Theod. 
Mops., Theodoret, Kimchi, Luther, and others, that the great 
mountain is a symbol of the power of the world, or the im 
perial power, and see no difficulty in the " unwarrantable con 
sequence" spoken of by Koehler, viz. that in that case the 
plain must be a symbol of the kingdom of God (see, on the 
contrary, Isa. xl. 4). For it is evident from what follows, that 
the passage refers to something greater than this, namely to 
the finishing of the building of the temple that has already 
begun, or to express it briefly and clearly, that the building of 
the temple of stone and wood is simply regarded as a type of 
the building of the kingdom of God, as ver. 9 clearly shows. 
There was a great mountain standing in the way of this build 
ing of ZerubbabePs namely the power of the world, or the 
imperial power and this God would level to a plain. Just as, 
in the previous vision, Joshua is introduced as the representa 
tive of the high-priesthood, so here Zerubbabel, the prince of 
Judah, springing from the family of David, comes into consi 
deration not as an individual, but according to his official rank 
as the representative of the government of Israel^, which is now 
so deeply humbled by the imperial power. But the government 
of Israel has no reality or existence, except in the government 
of Jehovah. The family of David will rise up into a new royal 
power and glory in the Tsemach, whom Jehovah will bring 
forth as His servant (ch. iii. 8). This servant of Jehovah will 
fill the house of God, which Zerubbabel has built, with glory. 
In order that this may be done, Zerubbabel must build the 
temple, because the temple is the house in which Jehovah 
dwells in the midst of His people. On account of this im 
portance of the temple in relation to Israel, the opponents of 
Judah sought to throw obstacles in the way of its being built ; 
and these obstacles were a sign and prelude of the opposition 
which the imperial power of the world, standing before Zerub 
babel as a great mountain, will offer to the kingdom of God. 
This mountain is to become a plain. What Zerubbabel the 


governor of Judah has begun, he will bring to completion ; 
and as he will finish the building of the earthly temple, so will 
the true Zerubbabel, the Messiah, Tsemach, the servant of 
Jehovah, build the spiritual temple, and make Israel into a 
candlestick, which is supplied with oil by two olive trees, so 
that its lamps may shine brightly in the world. In this sense 
the angel s reply gives an explanation of the meaning of the 
visionary candlestick. Just as, according to the economy of 
the Old Testament, the golden candlestick stood in the holy 
place of the temple before the face of Jehovah, and could only 
shine there, so does the congregation, which is symbolized by 
the candlestick, need a house of God, that it may be able to 
cause its light to shine. This house is the kingdom of God 
symbolized by the temple, which was to be built by Zerubbabel, 
not by human might and power, but by the Spirit of the Lord. 
In this building the words " He will bring forth the top-stone" 
find their complete and final fulfilment. The finishing of this 
building will take place nj fn jn rriNpn, i.e. amidst loud cries of 
the people, " Grace, grace unto it." rriN^fl is an accusative of 
more precise definition, or of the attendant circumstances (cf. 
Ewald, 204, a), and signifies noise, tumult, from MW = nNE>, 
a loud cry (Job xxxix. 7 ; Isa. xxii. 2). The suffix FP refers, 
so far as the form is concerned, to HB^nn PKH, but actually to 
habbayith, the temple which is finished with the gable-stone. 
To this stone (so the words mean) may God direct His favour 
or grace, that the temple may stand for ever, and never be 
destroyed again. 

A further and still clearer explanation of the angel s answer 
(vers. 6 and 7) is given in the words of Jehovah which follow 
in vers. 8-10. Ver. 8. " And the word of Jehovah came to me 
thus : Ver. 9. The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the founda 
tion of this house, and his hands will finish it ; and thou wilt 
know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me to you. Ver. 10. For 
who despiseth the day of small things ? and they joyfully behold 
the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel, those seven : the eyes of 
Jehovah, they sweep through the whole earth" This word of 
God is not addressed to the prophet through the angelus inter- 
pres, but comes direct from Jehovah, though, as ver. 96 clearly 
shows when compared with ch. ii. 96 and 116, through the 
Maleach Jehovah. Although the words " the hands of Zerub- 

CHAP. iv. 8-10. 273 

babel have laid the foundation of this house" unquestionably 
refer primarily to the building of the earthly temple, and an 
nounce the finishing of that building by Zerubbabel, yet the 
apodosis commencing with " and thou shalt know" shows that 
the sense is not thereby exhausted, but rather that the building 
is simply mentioned here as a type of the spiritual temple (as 
in ch. vi. 12, 13), and that the completion of the typical temple 
simply furnishes a pledge of the completion of the true temple. 
For it was not by the finishing of the earthly building, but solely 
by the carrying out of the kingdom of God which this shadowed 
forth, that Judah could discern that the angel of Jehovah 
had been sent to it. This is also apparent from the reason 
assigned for this promise in ver. 10, the meaning of which has 
been explained in very different ways. Many take W ^Dtpl as 
an apodosis, and connect it with D B 3 as the protasis : " for 
whoever despises the day of small things, they shall see with 
joy," etc. (LXX., Chald., Pesh., Vulg., Luth., Calv., and 
others) ; but H B can hardly be taken as an indefinite pronoun, 
inasmuch as the introduction of the apodosis by Vav would be 
unsuitable, and it has hitherto been impossible to find a single 
well-established example of the indefinite *& followed by a per 
fect with Vav consec. And the idea that v e sdm e chu is a circum 
stantial clause, in the sense of " whereas they see w r ith joy " 
(Hitzig, Koehler), is equally untenable, for in a circumstantial 
clause the verb never stands at the head, but always the 
subject ; and this is so essential, that if the subject of the 
minor (or circumstantial) clause is a noun which has already 
been mentioned in the major clause, either the noun itself, or 
at any rate its pronoun, must be repeated (Ewald, 341, a), 
because this is the only thing by which the clause can be 
recognised as a circumstantial clause. We must therefore take 
*B as an interrogative pronoun : Who has ever despised the day 
of the small things ? and understand the question in the sense 
of a negation, u No one has ever despised," etc. The perfect 
baz with the syllable sharpened, for bdz, from buz (like tacli 
for tdch in Isa. xliv. 18 ; cf. Ges. 72, Anm. 8), expresses a 
truth of experience resting upon facts. The words contain a 
perfect truth, if we only take them in the sense in which they 
were actually intended, namely, that no one who hopes to ac 
complish, or does accomplish, anything great, despises the day of 
VOL. ii. s 


the small things. Yorn q tannoth, a day on which only small 
things occur (cf. Num. xxii. 18). This does not merely mean 
the day on which the foundation-stone of the temple was first 
laid, and the building itself was still in the stage of its small 
beginnings, according to which the time when the temple was 
built up again in full splendour would be the day of great 
things (Koehler and others). For the time when ZerubbabePs 
temple was finished namely, the sixth year of Darius was 
just as miserable as that in which the foundation was laid, and 
the building that had been suspended was resumed once more. 
The whole period from Darius to the coming of the Messiah, 
who will be the first to accomplish great things, is a day of 
small things, as being a period in which everything that was 
done for the building of the kingdom of God seemed but 
small, and in comparison with the work of the Messiah really 
was small, although it contained within itself the germs of the 
greatest things. The following perfects, Wjl *nDB>l, have Vav 
consec.y and express the consequence, though not " the neces 
sary consequence, of their having despised the day of small 
beginnings," as Koehler imagines, who for that reason properly 
rejects this view, but the consequence which will ensue if the 
day of small things is not despised. The fact that the clause 
beginning with v e sdm e c7iu is attached to the first clause of the 
verse in the form of a consequence, may be very simply ex 
plained on the ground that the question " who hath despised," 
with its negative answer, contains an admonition to the people 
and their rulers not to despise the small beginnings. If. they 
lay this admonition to heart, the seven eyes of God will see 
with delight the plumb-lead in the hand of Zerubbabel. In 
the combination Wtt ^nttfe^ the verb sdnfchu takes the place of 
an adverb (Ges. 142, 3, a). ^nan ? is not a stone filled up 
with lead, but an ebhen which is lead, i.e. the plumb-lead or 
plummet. A plummet in the hand is a sign of being engaged 
in the work of building, or of superintending the erection of a 
building. The meaning of the clause is therefore, " Then will 
the seven eyes of Jehovah look with joy, or with satisfaction, 
upon the execution," not, however, in the sense of " They will 
find their pleasure in this restored temple, arid look upon it 
with protecting care" (Kliefoth) ; for if this were the meaning, 
the introduction of the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel 

CHAP. IV. 11-14. 275 

would be a very superfluous addition. Zerubbabel is still 
simply the type of the future Zerubbabel namely, the Mes 
siah who will build the true temple of God ; and the mean 
ing is the following : Then will the seven eyes of God help to 
carry out this building. n>>K njn^ cannot be grammatically 
joined to njrp wy in the sense of " these seven eyes," as the 
position of elleh (these) between the numeral and the noun 
precludes this ; but njn* W is an explanatory apposition to 
njpK nyn^ : " those (well-known) seven, (viz.) the eyes of 
Jehovah." The reference is to the seven eyes mentioned in 
the previous vision, which are directed upon a stone. These, 
according to ch. iii. 9, are the sevenfold radiations or operations 
of the Spirit of the Lord. Of these the angel of the Lord 
says still further here : They sweep through the whole earth, 
i.e. their influence stretches over all the earth. These words 
also receive their full significance only on the supposition that 
the angel of Jehovah is speaking of the Messianic building 
of the house or kingdom of God. For the eyes of Jehovah 
would not need to sweep through the whole earth, in order to 
see whatever could stand in the way and hinder the erection of 
Zerubbabel s temple, but simply to watch over the opponents 
of Judah in the immediate neighbourhood and the rule of 

This gave to the prophet a general explanation of the meaning 
of the vision ; for the angel had told him that the house (or 
kingdom) of God would be built and finished by the Spirit of 
Jehovah, and the church of the Lord would accomplish its 
mission, to shine brightly as a candlestick. But there is one 
point in the vision that is not yet quite clear to him, and he 
therefore asks for an explanation in vers. 11-14. Ver. 11. 
u And I answered and said to him, What are these tivo olive-trees 
on the right of the candlestick, and on the left? Ver. 12. And 
I answered the second time, and said to him, What are the two 
branches (ears) of the olive-trees which are at the hand of the two 
golden spouts, which pour the gold out of themselves ? Ver. 13. 
And he spake to me thus : Knowest thou not what these are ? and 
I said, JVo, my lord. Ver. 14. Then said he, These are the 
two oil-children, ivhich stand by the Lord of the whole earth" 
The meaning of the olive-trees on the right and left sides of 
the candlestick ( a/, over, because the olive-trees rose above the 


candlestick on the two sides) is not quite obvious to the prophet. 
He asks about this in ver. 11; at the same time, recognising 
the fact that their meaning is bound up with the two shibbale 
hazzethim, he does not wait for an answer, but gives greater 
precision to his question, by asking the meaning of these two 
branches of the olive-trees. On **$ the Masora observes, that 
the dagesli forte conjunct., which is generally found after the 
interrogative pronoun waA, is wanting in the K>, and was pro 
bably omitted, simply because the W has not a full vowel, but a 
sheva, whilst the n which follows has also a dagesli. These 
branches of the olive-trees were tfyad, " at the hand of" (i.e. 
close by, as in Job xv. 23) the two golden tsant e roth, which 
poured the gold from above into the gulldh of the candlestick. 
Tsantfroth (air. Xey.) is supposed by Aben Ezra and others to 
stand for oil-presses ; but there is no further ground for this 
than the conjecture that the olive-trees could only supply the 
candlestick with oil when the olives were pressed. The older 
translators render the word by spouts or " channels" (LXX. 
pparrty>69, Vulg. rostra, Pesh. noses). It is probably related 
in meaning to tsinnor, channel or waterfall, and to be derived 
from tsdnar, to rush : hence spouts into which the branches of 
the olive-trees emptied the oil of the olives, so that it poured 
with a rush out of them into the oil vessel. The latter is 
obviously implied in the words hammfwqlm, etc., which empty 
out the gold from above themselves, i.e. the gold which comes 
to them from above. Haez&idbh, the gold which the tsant e roth 
empty out, is supposed by most commentators to signify the 
golden-coloured oil. Hofmann (Weiss, u. Erf. i. 344-5) and 
Kliefoth, on the contrary, understand by it real gold, which 
flowed out of the spouts into the candlestick, so that the latter 
was thereby perpetually renewed. But as the candlestick is 
not now for the first time in process of formation, but is repre 
sented in the vision as perfectly finished, and as the gold comes 
from the branches of the olive-trees, it is impossible to think of 
anything else than the oil which shines like gold. Accordingly 
the oil (yitshdr, lit. shining) is called zdhdbh, as being, as it 
were, liquid gold. Hence arises the play upon words : the 
spouts are of gold, and they pour gold from above themselves 
into the candlestick (Hitzig and Koehler). The angel having 
expressed his astonishment at the prophet s ignorance, as he 

CHAP. iv. ii-H. 277 

does in ver. 5, gives this answer : These (the two bushes of 
the olive-tree, for which the olive-trees stood there) are the two 
b e ne yitshdr, sons of oil, i.e. endowed or supplied with oil (cf. 
Isa. v. 1), which stand by the Lord of the whole earth, namely 
as His servants (on dmad a/, denoting the standing posture of 
a servant, who rises above his master when seated, see 1 Kings 
xxii. 19, also Isa. vi. 2). The two children of oil cannot be the 
Jews and Gentiles (Cyril), or Israel and the Gentile world in 
their fruitful branches, i.e. their believing members (Kliefoth), 
because the candlestick is the symbol of the church of the Lord, 
consisting of the believers in Israel and also in the Gentile 
world. This is just as clear as the distinction between the 
olive-trees and the candlestick, to which they conduct the oil. 
Others think of the prophets Haggai and Zechariah (J. D. 
Mich., Hofm., Baumg., etc.) ; but although there is no force 
in Koehler s objection, that in that case there would be a double 
order of prophets in Israel, since two prophets, both influenced 
by the Spirit of God, would not imply a double order of prophets, 
this explanation is decidedly precluded by the fact that two 
mortal men could not convey to the church for all ages the oil 
of the Spirit of God. The two sons of oil can only be the two 
media, anointed with oil, through whom the spiritual and gracious 
gifts of God were conveyed to the church of the Lord, namely, 
the existing representatives of the priesthood and the regal 
government, who were at that time Joshua the high priest and 
the prince Zerubbabel. These stand by the Lord of the whole 
earth, as the divinely appointed instruments through whom the 
Lord causes His Spirit to flow into His congregation. Israel 
had indeed possessed both these instruments from the time of 
its first adoption as the people of Jehovah, and both were con 
secrated to their office by anointing. So far the fact that the 
olive-trees stand by the side of the candlestick does not appear 
to indicate anything that the prophet could not have inter 
preted for himself ; and hence the astonishment expressed in 
the question of the angel in ver. 13. Moreover, the vision was 
not intended to represent an entirely new order of things, but 
simply to show the completion of that which was already con 
tained and typified in the old covenant. The seven-armed 
candlestick was nothing new in itself. All that was new in 
the candlestick seen by Zechariah was the apparatus through 

278 ZECHARIAir. 

which it was supplied with oil that it might give light, namely, 
the connection between the candlestick and the two olive-trees, 
whose branches bore olives like bunches of ears, to supply it 
abundantly with oil, which was conveyed to each of its seven 
lamps through seven pipes. The candlestick of the tabernacle 
had to be supplied every day with the necessary oil by the hands 
of the priests. This oil the congregation had to present ; and 
to this end the Lord had to bestow His blessing, that the fruits 
of the land might be made to prosper, so that the olive-tree 
should bear its olives, and yield a supply of oil. But this 
blessing was withdrawn from the nation when it fell away from 
its God (cf. Joel i. 10). If, then, the candlestick had two olive- 
trees by its side, yielding oil in such copious abundance, that 
every one of the seven lamps received its supply through seven 
pipes, it could never fail to have sufficient oil for a full and 
brilliant light. This was what was new in the visionary candle 
stick ; and the meaning was this, that the Lord would in future 
bestow upon His congregation the organs of His Spirit, and 
maintain them in such direct connection with it, that it would 
be able to let its light shine with sevenfold brilliancy. 


These two figures are so closely connected, that they are 
to be taken as one vision. The circumstance, that a pause is 
introduced between the first and second view, in which both 
the ecstatic elevation and the interpreting angel leave the 
prophet, so that it is stated in ver. 5 that "the angel came 
forth," furnishes no sufficient reason for the assumption that 
there were two different visions. For the figure of the ephah 
with the woman sitting in it is also divided into two views, 
since the prophet first of all sees the woman and receives the 
explanation (vers. 5-8), and the further development of the 
vision is then introduced in ver. 9 with a fresh introductory 
formula, " And I lifted up my eyes, and saw." And just as 
this introductory formula, through which new and different 
visions are introduced in ch. ii. 1 and 5, by no means warrants 
us in dividing what is seen here into two different visions ; so 
there is nothing in the introduction in ver. 5 to compel us to 

CHAP. V. 1-4. 279 

separate the vision of the flying roll (vers. 1-4) from the 
following vision of the ephah, since there is no such difference 
in the actual contents of the two as to warrant such a separa 
tion. They neither stand in such a relation to one another, as 
that the first sets forth the extermination of sinners out of the 
holy land, and the second the extermination of sin itself, as 
Maurer supposes ; nor does the one treat of the fate of the 
sinners and the other of the full measure of the sin ; but the 
vision of the flying roll prepares the way for, and introduces, 
what is carried out in the vision of the ephah (vers. 5-11), and 
the connection between the two is indicated formally by the fact 
that the suffix in DJ^ in ver. 6 refers back to vers. 3 and 4. 

Ver. 1. "And I lifted up my eyes again, and saw, and behold 
a flying roll. Ver. 2. And he said to me, What seest thou ? 
And I said, 1 see a flying roll ; its length twenty cubits, and its 
breadth ten cubits. Ver. 3. And he said to me, This is the curse 
that goeth forth over the whole land : for every one that stealeth 
will be cleansed away from this side, according to it ; and every 
one that sweareth will be cleansed away from that side, according 
to it. Ver. 4. 1 have caused it to go forth, is the saying of 
Jehovah of hosts, and it will come into the house of the thief, and 
into the house of him that sweareth by my name for deceit: 
and it will pass the night in the midst of his house, and consume 
both its beams and its stones." The person calling the prophet s 
attention to the vision, and interpreting it, is the angelus inter- 
pres. This is not specially mentioned here, as being obvious 
from what goes before. The roll (book-scroll, m e gilldh = 
m e gillath sepher, Ezek. ii. 9) is seen flying over the earth 
unrolled, so that its length and breadth can be seen. The 
statement as to its size is not to be regarded as " an approxi 
mative estimate," so that the roll would be simply described 
a-s of considerable size (Koehler), but is unquestionably 
significant. It corresponds both to the size of the porch of 
Solomon s temple (1 Kings vi. 3), and also to the dimensions 
of the holy place in the tabernacle, which was twenty cubits 
long and ten cubits broad. Hengstenberg, Hofmann, and 
Umbreit, following the example of Kimchi, assume that the 
reference is to the porch of the te mple, and suppose that the 
roll has the same dimensions as this porch, to indicate that the 
judgment is " a consequence of the theocracy," or was to issue 


from the sanctuary of Israel, where the people assembled before 
the Lord. But the porch of the temple was neither a symbol 
of the . theocracy, nor the place where the people assembled 
before the Lord, but a mere architectural ornament, which 
had no significance whatever in relation to the worship. The 
people assembled before the Lord in the court, to have recon 
ciliation made for them with God by sacrifice; or they entered 
the holy place in the person of their sanctified mediators, the 
priests, as cleansed from sin, there to appear before God arid 
engage in His spotless worship. The dimensions of the roll 
are taken from the holy place of the tabernacle, just as in the 
previous vision the candlestick was the Mosaic candlestick of 
the tabernacle. Through the similarity of the dimensions of 
the roll to those of the holy place in the tabernacle, there is no 
intention to indicate that the curse proceeds from the holy 
place of the tabernacle or of the temple ; for the roll would 
have issued from the sanctuary, if it had been intended to 
indicate this. Moreover, the curse or judgment does indeed 
begin at the house of God, but it does not issue or come from 
the house of God. Kliefoth has pointed to the true meaning 
in the following explanation which he gives : " The fact that 
the writing, which brings the curse upon all the sinners of the 
earth, has the same dimensions as the tabernacle, signifies that 
the measure will be meted out according to the measure of the 
holy place ; " and again, " the measure by which this curse 
upon sinners will be meted out, will be the measure of the 
holy place." With this measure would all sinners be measured, 
that they might be cut off from the congregation of the 
Lord, which appeared before God in the holy place. The 
flight of the roll symbolized the going forth of the curse over 
the whole land. piiNrrta is rendered by Hofmann, Neumann, 
and Kliefoth "the whole earth," because "it evidently signifies 
the whole earth in ch. iv. 10, 14, and vi. 5" (Kliefoth). But 
these passages, in which the Lord of the whole earth is spoken 
of, do not prove anything in relation to our vision, in which 
ptjrra is unmistakeably limited to the land of Canaan (Judah) 
by the antithesis in ver. 11, " the land of Shinar." If the 
sinners who are smitten by the curse proceeding over pNrrba 
are to be carried into the land of Shinar 9 the former must be 
a definite land, and not the earth as the sum of all lands. It 

CHAP. V. 1-4. 281 

cannot be argued in opposition to this, that the sin of the land 
in which the true house of God and the true priesthood were, 
was wiped away by expiation, whereas the sin of the whole 
world would be brought into the land of judgment, when its 
measure was concluded by God ; for this antithesis is foreign 
not only to this vision, but to the Scriptures universally. The 
Scriptures know nothing of any distribution or punishment of 
sins according to different lands, but simply according to the 
character of the sinners, viz. whether they are penitent or 
hardened. At the same time, the fact that pKH"?3 denotes 
the whole of the land of Israel, by no means proves that our 
vision either treats of the " carrying away of Israel into exile," 
which had already occurred (Ros.), or u sets before them a 
fresh carrying away into exile, and one still in the future" 
(Hengstenberg), or that on the coming of the millennial king 
dom the sin and the sinners will be exterminated from the 
whole of the holy land, and the sin thrown back upon the rest 
of the earth, which is still under the power of the world (Hof- 
mann). The vision certainly refers to the remote future of 
the kingdom of God ; and therefore "the whole land" cannot 
be restricted to the extent and boundaries of Judaea or Pales 
tine, but reaches as far as the spiritual Israel or church of 
Christ is spread over the earth ; but there is no allusion in our 
vision to the millennial kingdom, and its establishment within 
the limits of the earthly Canaan. The curse falls upon all 
thieves and false swearers. V3^3n in ver. 3 is defined more 
precisely in ver. 4, as swearing in the name of Jehovah for 
deceit, and therefore refers to perjury in the broadest sense of 
the word, or to all abuse of the name of God for false, deceit 
ful swearing. Thieves are mentioned for the sake of indivi 
dualizing, as sinners against the second table of the decalogue ; 
false swearers, as sinners against the first table. The repeti 
tion of fito? fW points to this ; for mizzeh, repeated in corre 
lative clauses, signifies hinc et illinc, hence and thence, i.e. on 
one side and the other (Ex. xvii. 12 ; Num. xxii. 24 ; Ezek. 
xlvii. 7), and can only refer here to the fact that the roll was 
written upon on both sides, so that it is to be taken in close con 
nection with ni3 : " on this side . . . and on that, according to 
it" (the roll), i.e. according to the curse written upon this side 
?nd that side of the roll. We have therefore to picture the 


roll to ourselves as having the curse against the thieves written 
upon the one side, and that against the perjurers upon the 
other. The supposition that mizzeh refers to rj.??" 3 ? is pre 
cluded most decidedly, by the fact that mizzeh does not mean 
"thence," i.e. from the whole land, but when used adverbially 
of any place, invariably signifies " hence," and refers to the 
place where the speaker himself is standing. Moreover, the 
double use of mizzeh is at variance with any allusion to 
hd drets, as well as the fact that if it belonged to the verb, it 
would stand after ijtosi, whether before or after the verb. 
Niqqdh, the niphal, signifies here to be cleaned out, like /ca0a- 
pi^ea-Oai in Mark vii. 19 (cf. 1 Kings xiv. 10 ; Deut. xvii. 12). 
This is explained in ver. 4 thus : Jehovah causes the curse to go 
forth and enter into the house of the thief and perjurer, so that 
it will pass the night there, i.e. stay there (Idneh third pers. 
perf. of liin, from Idndh, to be blunted, like zureh in Isa. lix. 5, 
and other verbal formations) ; it will not remain idle, how 
ever, but work therein, destroying both the house and sinners 
therein, so that beams and stones will be consumed (cf. 1 Kings 
xviii. 38). The suffix in vfe? (for Virfep, cf. Ges. 75, Anm. 
19) refers to the house, of course including the inhabitants. 
The following nouns introduced with JiNl are in explanatory 
apposition : both its beams and its stones. The roll therefore 
symbolizes the curse which will fall upon sinners throughout 
the whole land, consuming them with their houses, and thus 
sweeping them out of the nation of God. 

To this there is appended in vers. 5-11 a new view, which 
exhibits the further fate of the sinners who have been separated 
from the congregation of the saints. Ver. 5. " And the angel 
that talked with me went forth) and said to me, Lift up now thine 
eyes, and see, what is this that goeth out there ? Ver. 6. And 1 
said, What is it ? And he said, This is the ephah going out. 
And he said, This is their aspect in all the land. Ver. 7. And 
behold a disk of lead was lifted up, and there was a woman 
sitting in the midst of the ephah. Ver. 8. And he said, This 
is wickedness ; and he cast it into the midst of the ephah, and 
cast the leaden weight upon its mouth." With the disappearing 
of the previous vision, the angelus interpres had also vanished 
from the eyes of the prophet. After a short pause he comes 
out again, calls the prophet s attention to a new figure which 

CHAP. V. 5-8. 283 

emerges out of the cloud, and so comes within the range of 
vision (n&ftn nwrivi), and informs him with regard to it : " This 
is the ephah which goeth out." N, to go out, in other words, 
to come to view. The ephah was the greatest measure of 
capacity which really existed among the Hebrews for dry 
goods, and was about the size of a cubic foot ; for the chomer, 
which contained ten ephahs, appears to have had only an ideal 
existence, viz. for the purpose of calculation. The meaning of 
this figure is indicated generally in the words H D^y riNT, the 
meaning of which depends upon the interpretation to be given 
to Dry. The suffix of this word can only refer to the sinners 
mentioned before, viz. the thieves and perjurers ; for it is con 
trary to the Hebrew usage to suppose that the words refer to 
the expression appended, pWrfea, in the sense of " all those 
who are in the whole land " (Koehler). Consequently y does 
not mean the eye, but adspectus, appearance, or shape, as in 
Lev. xiii. 55, Ezek. i. 4 sqq; and the words have this meaning: 
The ephah (bushel) is the shape, i.e. represents the figure dis 
played by the sinners in all the land, after the roll of the curse 
has gone forth over the land, i.e. it shows into what condition 
they have come through that anathema (Kliefoth). The point 
of comparison between the ephah and the state into which 
sinners have come in consequence of the curse, does not con 
sist in the fact that the ephah is carried away, and the sinners 
likewise (Maurer), nor in the fact that the sin now reaches its 
full measure (Hofm., Hengstenberg) ; for " the carrying away 
of the sinners does not come into consideration yet, and there 
is nothing at all here about the sin becoming full." It is true 
that, according to what follows, sin sits in the ephah as a woman, 
but there is nothing to indicate that the ephah is completely 
filled by it, so that there is no further room in it ; and this 
thought would be generally out of keeping here. The point 
of comparison is rather to be found in the explanation given 
by Kliefoth : " Just as in a bushel the separate grains are all 
collected together, so will the individual sinners over the whole 
earth be brought into a heap, when the curse of the end goes 
forth over the whole earth." We have no hesitation in appro 
priating this explanation, although we have not rendered p.?? 
" the earth," inasmuch as at the final fulfilment of the vision 
the holy land will extend over all the earth. Immediately 


afterwards the prophet is shown still more clearly what is in 
the ephah. A covering of lead (kikkdr, a circle, a rounding 
or a circular plate) rises up, or is lifted up, and then he sees 
a woman sitting in the ephah ^achath does not stand for the 
indefinite article, but is a numeral, the sinners brought into a 
heap appearing as a unity, i.e. as one living personality, instead 
of forming an atomistic heap of individuals). This woman, 
who had not come into the ephah now for the first time, but 
was already sitting there, and was only seen now that the lid 
was raised, is described by the angel as tmrthaath, ungodliness, 
as being wickedness embodied, just as in 2 Chron. xxiv. 7 this 
name is given to godless Jezebel. Thereupon he throws her 
into the ephah, out of which she had risen up, and shuts it with 
the leaden lid, to carry her away, as the following vision shows, 
out of the holy land. 

Ver. 9. " And I lifted up my eyes, and saw, and behold 
there came forth two women, and ivind in their wings, and they 
had wings like a stork s wings; and they carried the ephah between 
earth and heaven. Ver. 10. And I said to the angel that talked 
witli me, Whither are these taking the ephah ? Ver. 11. And he 
said to me, To build it a dwelling in the land of Shinar : and it 
will be placed and set up there upon its stand" The meaning 
of this new scene may easily be discovered. The ephah with 
the woman in it is carried away between earth and heaven, i.e. 
through the air. Women carry it because there is a woman 
inside ; and two women, because two persons are required to 
carry so large and heavy a measure, that they may lay hold of it 
on both sides (njfrn with the K dropped; cf. Ges. 74, Anm. 4). 
These women have wings, because it passes through the air ; 
and a stork s wings, because these birds have broad pinions, 
and not because the stork is a bird of passage or an unclean 
bird. The wings are filled with wind, that they may be able to 
carry their burden with greater velocity through the air. The 
women denote the instruments or powers employed by God to 
carry away the sinners out of His congregation, without any 
special allusion to this or the other historical nation. This is 
all that we have to seek for in these features, which only serve 
to give distinctness to the picture. But the statement in ver. 
11 is significant : " to build it a house in the land of Shinar/ 
The pronoun <"6 with the suffix softened instead of H7, as in Ex. 

CHAP. V. 9, 10. 285 

ix. 18, Lev. xiii. 4 (cf. Ewald, 247, d), refers grammatically 
to "^^n ; but so far as the sense is concerned, it refers to the 
woman sitting in the ephah, since a house is not built for a 
measure, but only for men to dwell in. This also applies to the 
feminine form nn^n, and to the suffix in nflJ-JB. The building 
of a house indicates that the woman is to dwell there perma 
nently, as is still more clearly expressed in the second hemistich. 
l^n refers to JV3, and is not to be taken hypothetical ly, in the 
sense of " as soon as the house shall be restored," but is a 
perfect with Vav consec. ; and hukhan, the lioplial of kun, is not 
to be taken in the sense of restoring, but, in correspondence 
with m khundh, in the sense of establishing or building on firm 
foundations. M e khundh : the firmly established house. In 
this the woman of sin is brought to rest. The land in which 
the woman of sin carried away out of the holy land is perma 
nently to dwell, is the land of Shinar. This name is not to be 
identified with Babel, so as to support the conclusion that it 
refers to a fresh removal of the people of Israel into exile ; but 
according to Gen. x. 10 and xi. 2, Shinar is the land in which 
Nimrod founded the first empire, and where the human race 
built the tower of Babel which was to reach to the sky. The 
name is not to be taken geographically here as an epithet 
applied to Mesopotamia, but is a notional or real definition, 
which affirms that the ungodliness carried away out of the 
sphere of the people of God will have its permanent settlement 
in the sphere of the imperial power that is hostile to God. 
The double vision of this chapter, therefore, shows the separa 
tion of the wicked from the congregation of the Lord, and 
their banishment into and concentration within the ungodly 
kingdom of the world. This distinction and separation com 
menced with the coming of the Messiah, and runs through all 
the ages of the spread and development of the Christian 
church, until at the time of the end they will come more and 
more into outward manifestation ; and the evil, having been 
sifted out by the judicial power of God and His Spirit, will 
form itself into a Babel of the last days, as Ezek. xxxviii. and 
xxxix. clearly show, and attempt a last struggle with the king 
dom of God, in which it will be overcome and destroyed by 
the last judgment. 



Ver. 1. a And again I lifted up my eyes, and saiv, and behold 
four chariots coming forth between the two mountains, and the 
mountains were mountains of brass. Ver. 2. In the first chariot 
were red horses, and in the second chariot black horses. Ver. 3. 
And in the third chariot white horses, and in the fourth chariot 
speckled powerful horses. Ver. 4. And I answered and said to 
the angel that talked with me, What are these, my lord ? Ver. 5. 
And the angel answered and said to me, These are the four ivinds 
of heaven going out, after having stationed themselves by the Lord 
of the whole earth. Ver. 6. Those in which the black horses are, 
go out into the land of the north, and the white have gone out 
behind them, and the speckled have gone out into the land of the 
south. Ver. 7. And the powerful ones have gone out, and sought 
to go, to pass through the earth ; and he said, Go ye, and pass 
through the earth; and they passed through the earth. Ver. 8. 
And he called to me, and spake to me thus : Behold, those which 
go out into the land of the north let down my spirit in the land 
of the north." The four chariots are explained in ver. 5 by 
the interpreting angel to be the four winds of heaven, which 
go forth after they have taken their stand by the Lord of the 
whole earth, i.e. have appeared before Him in the attitude of 
servants, to lay their account before Him, and to receive com 
mands from Him fa 25rnn ? as in Job i. 6, ii. 1). This addi 
tion shows that the explanation is not a real interpretation ; 
that is to say, the meaning is not that the chariots represent 
the four winds ; but the less obvious figure of the chariots is 
explained through the more obvious figure of the winds, which 
answers better to the reality. Since, for example, according 
to ver. 8, the chariots are designed to carry the Spirit (ruac/i) 
of God, there was nothing with which they could be more 
suitably compared than the winds (ruacli) of heaven, for these 
are the most appropriate earthly substratum to symbolize the 
working of the Divine Spirit (cf. Jer. xlix. 36; Dan. vii. 2). 
This Spirit, in its judicial operations, is to be borne by the 
chariots to the places more immediately designated in the 
vision. As they go out, after having appeared before God, 
the two mountains, between which they go out or come forth, 

CHAP. VI. 1-8. 287 

can only be sought in the place where God s dwelling is. But 
the mountains are of brass, and therefore are not earthly 
mountains ; but they are not therefore mere symbols of the 
might of God with which His church is defended (Hengst, 
Neumann), or allusions to the fact that the dwelling-place of 
God is immoveable and unapproachable (Koehler), or symbols 
of the imperial power of the world and the kingdom of God 
(Kliefoth), according to which the power of the world would 
be just as immoveable as the kingdom of God. The symbol 
has rather a definite geographical view as its basis. As the 
lands to which the chariots go are described geographically as 
the lands of the north and south, the starting-point of the 
chariots must also be thought of geographically, and must 
therefore be a place or country lying between the northern 
and southern lands : this is the land of Israel, or more espe 
cially Jerusalem, the centre of the Old Testament kingdom of 
God, where the Lord had His dwelling-place. It is therefore 
the view of Jerusalem and its situation that lies at the founda 
tion of the vision ; only we must not think of the mountains 
Zion and Moriah (as Osiander, Maurer, Hofmann, and Um- 
breit do), for these are never distinguished from one another 
in the Old Testament as forming two separate mountains ; 
but we have rather to think of Zion and the Mount of Olives, 
which stood opposite to it towards the east. Both are named 
as places where or from which the Lord judges the world, viz. 
the Mount of Olives in ch. xiv. 4, and Zion very frequently, 
e.g. in Joel iii. 16. The place between the two mountains is, 
then, the valley of Jehoshaphat, in which, according to Joel 
iii. 2 sqq., the Lord judges the nations. In the vision before 
us this valley simply forms the starting-point for the chariots, 
which carry the judgment from the dwelling-place of God 
into the lands of the north and south, which are mentioned as 
the seat of the imperial power ; and the mountains are of brass, 
to denote the immoveable firmness of the place where the Lord 
dwells, and where He has founded His kingdom. 

The colour of the horses, by which the four chariots are 
distinguished, is just as significant here as in ch. i. 8 ; and 
indeed, so far as the colour is the same, the meaning is also 
the same here as there. Three colours are alike, since b e rud- 
speckled, is not essentially different from s e ruqqim, star- 


ling-grey, viz. black and white mixed together (see at ch. i. 8). 
The black horses are added here. Black is the colour of grief 
(cf. " black as sackcloth of hair," Rev. vi. 12). The rider 
upon the black horse in Rev. vi. 5, 6, holds in his hand the 
emblem of dearness, the milder form of famine. Consequently 
the colours of the horses indicate the destination of the chariots, 
to execute judgment upon the enemies of the kingdom of God. 
Red, as the colour of blood, points to war and bloodshed ; the 
speckled colour to pestilence and other fatal plagues ; and the 
black colour to dearness and famine : so that these three cha 
riots symbolize the three great judgments, war, pestilence, and 
hunger (2 Sam. xxiv. 11 sqq.), along with which "the noisome 
beast" is also mentioned in Ezek. xiv. 21 as a fourth judgment. 
In the vision before us the fourth chariot is drawn by white 
horses, to point to the glorious victories of the ministers of the 
divine judgment. The explanation of the chariots in this 
vision is rendered more difficult by the fact, that on the one 
hand the horses of the fourth chariot are not only called 
b rttddim, but B^EK also ; and on the other hand, that in the 
account of the starting of the chariots the red horses are 
omitted, and the speckled are distinguished from the E^pN 
instead, inasmuch as it is affirmed of the former that they 
went forth into the south country, and of the latter, that " they 
sought to go that they might pass through the whole earth," 
and they passed through with the consent of God. The com 
mentators have therefore attempted in different ways to identify 
in ver. 7 with S^is. Hitzig and Maurer assume that 
is omitted from ver. 6 by mistake, and that D S DK in 
ver. 7 is a copyist s error for D EHtf, although there is not a 
single critical authority that can be adduced in support of this. 
Hengstenberg and Umbreit suppose that the predicate E s ^>pN, 
strong, in ver. 3 refers to all the horses in the four chariots, 
and that by the "strong" horses of ver. 7 we are to under 
stand the " red " horses of the first chariot. But if the horses 
of all the chariots were strong, the red alone cannot be so 

called, since the article not only stands before E^ EN in ver. 7, 
but also before the three other colours, and indicates nothing 
more than that the colours have been mentioned before. More 
over, it is grammatically impossible that B^P^ in ver. 3 should 
refer to all the four teams; as " we must in that case have had 

CHAP. VI. 1-8. 289 

D^3 D tfON" (Koeliler). Others (e.g. Abulw., Kimchi, Calvin, 
and Koehler) have attempted to prove that B^&K may nave 
the sense of D^K ; regarding P&K as a softened form of P^n, 
and explaining the latter, after Isa. Ixiii. 1, as signifying bright 
red. But apart from the fact that it is impossible to see why 
so unusual a word should have been chosen in the place of the 
intelligible word adummlm in the account of the destination of 
the red team in ver. 7, unless &WK were merely a copyist s 
error for ^ddummlm^ there are no satisfactory grounds for 
identifying fbs with P^n, since it is impossible to adduce any 
well-established examples of the change of n into N in Hebrew. 
The assertion of Koehler, that the Chaldee verb DpK, robustus 
fuit, is &?n in Hebrew in Job xxxix. 4, is incorrect ; for we 
find D^n in the sense of to be healthy and strong in the Syriac 
and Talmudic as well, and the Chaldaic D?K is a softened form 
of &h>, and not of E^n. The fact that in 1 Chron. viii. 35 we 
have the name JT?.NPi in the place of jnnn in 1 Chron. ix. 41, 
being the only instance of the interchange of K and n in 
Hebrew, is not sufficient of itself to sustain the alteration, amidst 
the great mass of various readings in the genealogies of the 
Chronicles. Moreover, chdmuts } from chdmets, to be sharp, 
does not mean red (= dddm), but a glaring colour, like the 
Greek of y? ; and even in Isa. Ixiii. 1 it has simply this mean 
ing, i.e. merely "denotes the unusual redness of the dress, 
which does not look like the purple of a king s talar, or the 
scarlet of a chlamys" (Delitzsch) ; or, speaking more correctly, 
it merely denotes the glaring colour which the dress has 
acquired through being sprinkled over with red spots, arising 
either from the dark juice of the grape or from blood. All 
that remains therefore is to acknowledge, in accordance with 
the words of the text, that in the interpretation of the vision 
the departure of the team with the red horses is omitted, and 
the team with speckled powerful horses divided into two teams 
one with speckled horses, and the other with black. We 
cannot find any support in this for the interpretation of the 
four chariots as denoting the four imperial monarchies of 
Daniel, since neither the fact that there are four chariots nor 
the colour of the teams furnishes any tenable ground for this. 
And it is precluded by the angel s comparison of the four 
chariots to the four winds, which point to four quarters of the 



globe, as in Jer. xlix. 36 and Dan. vii. 2, but not to four 
empires rising one after another, one of which always took 
the place of the other, so that they embraced the same lands, 
and were merely distinguished from one another by the fact 
that each in succession spread over a wider surface than its 
predecessor. The colour of the horses also does not favour, 
but rather opposes, any reference to the four great empires. 
Leaving out of sight the arguments already adduced at ch. 
i. 8 against this interpretation, Kliefoth himself admits that, 
so far as the horses and their colour are concerned, there is a 
thorough contrast between this vision and the first one (ch. 
i. 7-17), namely, that in the first vision the colour assigned 
to the horses corresponds to the kingdoms of the world to 
which they are sent, whereas in the vision before us they have 
the colour of the kingdoms from which they set out to convey 
the judgment to the others ; and he endeavours to explain this 
distinction, by saying that in the first vision the riders procure 
information from the different kingdoms of the world as to 
their actual condition, whereas in the vision before us the 
chariots have to convey the judgment to the kingdoms of the 
world. But this distinction furnishes no tenable ground for 
interpreting the colour of the horses in the one case in accord 
ance with the object of their mission, and in the other case in 
accordance with their origin or starting-point. If the intention 
was to set forth the stamp of the kingdoms in the colours, they 
would correspond in both visions to the kingdoms upon or in 
which the riders and the chariots had to perform their mission. 
If, on the other hand, the colour is regulated by the nature 
and object of the vision, so that these are indicated by it, it 
cannot exhibit the character of the great empires. 

If we look still further at the statement of the angel as to 
the destination of the chariots, the two attempts made by Hof- 
mann and Kliefoth to combine the colours of the horses with 
the empires, show most distinctly the untenable character of 
this view. According to both these expositors, the angel says 
nothing about the chariot with the red horses, because the 
Babylonian empire had accomplished its mission to destroy the 
Assyrian empire. But the Perso-Median empire had also 
accomplished its mission to destroy the Babylonian, and there 
fore the team with the black horses should also have been left 

CHAP. VI 1-8. 291 

unnoticed in the explanation. On the other hand, Kliefoth 
asserts, and appeals to the participle B^Ntf in ver. 6 in support 
of his assertion, that the chariot with the horses of the imperial 
monarchy of Medo-Persia goes to the north country, viz. Meso 
potamia, the seat of Babel, to convey the judgment of God 
thither ; that the judgment was at that very time in process of 
execution, and the chariot was going in the prophet s own day. 
But although the revolt of Babylon in the time of Darius, and 
its result, furnish an apparent proof that the power of the 
Babylonian empire was not yet completely destroyed in Zecha- 
riah s time, this intimation cannot lie in the participle as ex 
pressing what is actually in process, for the simple reason that 
in that case the perfects 1N^ which follow would necessarily 
affirm what had already taken place; and consequently not only 
would the white horses, which went out behind the black, i.e. 
the horses of the imperial monarchy of Macedonia, have exe 
cuted the judgment upon the Persian empire, but the speckled 
horses would have accomplished their mission also, since the 
same I^VJ is affirmed of both. The interchange of the participle 
with the perfect does not point to any difference in the time at 
which the events occur, but simply expresses a distinction in 
the idea. In the clause with D" 1 ^ the mission of the chariot 
is expressed through the medium of the participle, according to 
its idea. The expression " the black horses are going out" is 
equivalent to, " they are appointed to go out;" whereas in the 
following clauses with IN^ the going out is expressed in the 
form of a fact, for which we should use the present. 

A still greater difficulty lies in the way of the interpretation 
of the colours of the horses as denoting the great empires, from 
the statement concerning the places to which the teams go 
forth. Kliefoth finds the reason why not only the black horses 
(of the Medo-Persian monarchy), but also the white horses (of 
the Grseco-Macedonian), go forth to the north country (Meso 
potamia), but the latter after the former, in the fact that not 
only the Babylonian empire had its seat there, but the Medo- 
Persian empire also. But how does the going forth of the 
speckled horses into the south country (Egypt) agree with 
this? If the fourth chariot answered to the fourth empire in 
Daniel, i.e. to the Roman empire, since this empire executed 
the judgment upon the Grseco-Macedonian monarchy, this 


chariot must of necessity have gone forth to the seat of that 
monarchy. But that was not Egypt, the south country, but 
Central Asia or Babylon, where Alexander died in the midst 
of his endeavours to give a firm foundation to his monarchy. 
In order to explain the going out of the (fourth) chariot with 
the speckled horses into the south country, Hofmann inserts 
between the Gragco-Macedonian monarchy and the Roman the 
empire of Antiochus Epiphanes as a smal 1 intermediate empire, 
which is indicated by the speckled horses, and thereby brings 
Zechariah into contradiction not only with Daniel s description 
of the empires, but also with the historical circumstances, ac 
cording to which, as Kliefoth has already observed, " Antiochus 
Epiphanes and his power had not the importance of an imperial 
monarchy, but were merely an offshoot of another imperial 
monarchy, namely the Grseco-Macedonian." 1 Kliefoth s attempt 
to remove this difficulty is also a failure. Understanding by 
the spotted strong horses the Roman empire, he explains the 
separation of the spotted from the powerful horses in the 
angel s interpretation from the peculiar character of the impe 
rial monarchy of Rome, namely, that it will first of all appear 
as an actual and united empire, but will then break up into ten 
kingdoms, i.e. into a plurality of kingdoms embracing the whole 

1 Kliefoth (Sach. p. 90) adds, by way of still further argument in 
support of the above : "The way in which Antiochus Epiphanes is intro 
duced in Dan. viii. is in perfect accordance with these historical circum 
stances. The third monarchy, the Grseco-Macedonian, represented as a 
he-goat, destroys the Medo-Persian empire ; but its first great horn, Alex 
ander, breaks off in the midst of its victorious career : four horns or 
kingdoms grow out of the Grseco-Macedonian, and one of these offshoots 
of the Macedonian empire is Antiochus Epiphanes, the little horn, the 
bold and artful king." But Zechariah would no more agree with this 
description in Daniel than with the historical fulfilment, if he had intended 
the speckled horses to represent Antiochus Epiphanes. For whereas, like 
Daniel, he enumerates four imperial monarchies, he makes the spotted 
horses appear not with the third chariot, but with the fourth, and expressly 
combines the spotted horses with the powerful ones, which, even according 
to Hofmann, were intended to indicate the Romans, and therefore unques 
tionably connects the spotted horses with the Roman empire. If, then, he 
wished the spotted horses to be understood as referring to Antiochus 
Epiphanes, he would represent Antiochus Epiphanes not as an offshoot of 
the third or Grseco-Macedonian monarchy, but as the first member of the 
fourth or Roman, in direct contradiction to the book of Daniel and to the 
historical order of events. 

CHAP. VI. 1-8. 293 

earth, and finally pass over into the kingdom of Antichrist. 
Accordingly, the spotted horses go out first of all, and carry 
the spirit of wrath to the south country, Egypt, which comes 
into consideration as the kingdom of the Ptolemies, and as that 
most vigorous offshoot of the Grseco-Macedonian monarchy, 
which survived Antiochus Epiphanes himself. The powerful 
horses harnessed to the same chariot as the Roman horses go 
out after this, and wander over the whole earth. They are the 
divided kingdoms of Daniel springing out of the Roman empire, 
which are called the powerful ones, not only because they go 
over the whole earth, but also because Antichrist with his 
kingdom springs out of them, to convey the judgments of God 
over the whole earth. But however skilful this interpretation 
is, it founders on the fact, that it fails to explain the going 
forth of the speckled horses into the land of the south in a 
manner corresponding to the object of the vision and the his 
torical circumstances. If the vision represented the judg 
ment, which falls upon the empires in such a manner that the 
one kingdom destroys or breaks up the other, the speckled 
horses, which are intended to represent the actual and united 
Roman empire, would of necessity have gone out not merely 
into the south country, but into the north country also, because 
the Roman empire conquered and destroyed not only the one 
offshoot of the Grseco-Macedonian empire, but all the kingdoms 
that sprang out of that empire. Kliefoth has given no reason 
for the exclusive reference to the southern branch of this im 
perial monarchy, nor can any reason be found. The kingdom 
of the Ptolemies neither broke up the other kingdoms that 
sprang out of the monarchy of Alexander, nor received them 
into itself, so that it could be mentioned as pars pro toto, and 
it had no such importance in relation to the holy land and 
nation as that it could be referred to on that account. If the 
angel had simply wished to mention a vigorous offshoot of the 
Grseco-Macedonian empire instead of mentioning the whole, 
he would certainly have fixed his eye upon the kingdom of the 
Seleucidse, which developed itself in Antiochus Epiphanes into 
a type of Antichrist, and have let the speckled horses also go to 
the north, i.e. to Syria. This could have been explained by re 
ferring to Daniel ; but not their going forth to the south country 
from the fact that the south country is mentioned in Dan. xi. 5, 


as Kliefoth supposes, inasmuch as in this prophecy of Daniel 
not only the king of the south, but the king of the north is also 
mentioned, and that long-continued conflict between the two de 
scribed, which inflicted such grievous injury upon the holy land. 
To obtain a simple explanation of the vision, we must 
consider, above all things, that in all these visions the inter 
pretations of the angel do not furnish a complete explanation 
of all the separate details of the vision, but simply hints and 
expositions of certain leading features, from which the meaning 
of the whole may be gathered. This is the case here. All 
the commentators have noticed the fact, that the statement in 
ver. 8 concerning the horses going forth into the north country, 
viz. that they carry the Spirit of Jehovah thither, also applies 
to the rest of the teams namely, that they also carry the 
Spirit of Jehovah to the place to which they go forth. It is 
also admitted that the angel confines himself to interpreting 
single features by individualizing. This is the case here with 
regard to the two lands to which the chariots go forth. The 
land of the north, i.e. the territory covered by the lands of the 
Euphrates and Tigris, and the land of the south, i.e. Egypt, 
are mentioned as the two principal seats of the power of the 
world in its hostility to Israel : Egypt on the one hand, and 
Asshur-Babel on the other, which were the principal foes of 
the people of God, not only before the captivity, but also 
afterwards, in the conflicts between Syria and Egypt for the 
possession of Palestine (Dan. xi.). If w r e observe this combina 
tion, the hypothesis that our vision depicts the fate of the four 
imperial monarchies, is deprived of all support. Two chariots 
go into the north country, which is one representative of the 
heathen world-power : viz. first of all the black horses, to carry 
famine thither, as one of the great plagues of God with which 
the ungodly are punished : a plague which is felt all the more 
painfully, in proportion to the luxury and excess in which men 
have previously lived. Then follow the white horses, indi 
cating that the judgment will lead to complete victory over 
the power of the world. Into the south country, i.e. to Egypt, 
the other representative of the heathen world-power, goes the 
chariot with the speckled horses, to carry the manifold judg 
ment of death by sword, famine, and pestilence, which is 
indicated by this colour. After what has been said concerning 

CHAP. VI. 1-8. 295 

the team that went forth into the north country, it follows as 
a matter of course that this judgment will also execute the 
will of the Lord, so that it is quite sufficient for a chariot to 
be mentioned. On the other hand, it was evidently important 
to guard against the opinion that the judgment would only 
affect the two countries or kingdoms that are specially men 
tioned, and to give distinct prominence to the fact that they 
are only representatives of the heathen world, and that what 
is here announced applies to the whole world that is at enmity 
against God. This is done through the explanation in ver. 7 
concerning the going out of a fourth team, to pass through 
the whole earth. This mission is not received by the red 
horses, but by the powerful ones, as the speckled horses are 
also called in the vision, to indicate that the manifold judg 
ments indicated by the speckled horses will pass over the earth 
in all their force. The going forth of the red horses is not 
mentioned, simply because, according to the analogy of what 
has been said concerning the other teams, there could be no 
doubt about it, as the blood-red colour pointed clearly enough 
to the shedding of blood. The object of the going forth of 
the chariots is to let down the Spirit of Jehovah upon the 
land in question. " HVi !TJn ? to cause the Spirit of Jehovah 
to rest, i.e. to let it down, is not identical with M"in n^n ? to let 
out His wrath, in Ezek. v. 13, xvi. 42 ; for ru&ch is not equi 
valent to chemdhj wrath or fury ; but the Spirit of Jehovah is 
Tuacli mishpdt (Isa. iv. 4), a spirit of judgment, which not only 
destroys what is ungodly, but also quickens and invigorates 
what is related to God. The vision does not set forth the 
destruction of the world-power, which is at enmity against God, 
but simply the judgment by which God purifies the sinful 
world, exterminates all that is ungodly, and renews it by His 
Spirit. It is also to be observed, that vers. 6 and 7 are a con 
tinuation of the address of the angel, and not an explanation 
given by the prophet of what has been said by the angel in 
ver. 5. The construction in ver. 6a is anakolouthic, the horses 
being made the subject in D^Ntf, instead of the chariot with 
black horses, because the significance of the chariots lay in 
the horses. The object to *>N 8 1 in ver. Ib is " the Lord of the 
whole earth" in ver. 5, who causes the chariots to go forth; 
whereas in ^X pjJH in ver. 8 it is the interpreting angel again. 


By PJJP, lit. he cried to him, i.e. called out to him with a loud 
voice, the contents of the exclamation are held up as important 
to the interpretation of the whole. 


The series of visions closes with a symbolical transaction, 
which is closely connected with the substance of the night- 
visions, and sets before the eye the figure of the mediator of 
salvation, who, as crowned high priest, or as priestly king, is 
to build the kingdom of God, and raise it into a victorious 
power over all the kingdoms of this world, for the purpose of 
comforting and strengthening the congregation. The transac 
tion is the following : Ver. 9. " And the word of Jehovah came 
to me thus: Yer. 10. Take of the people of the captivity, of 
Cheldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedahyah, and go thou the same day, 
go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah, whither they 
have come from Babel; Ver. 11. And take silver and gold, and 
make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of 
Jozadak the high priest" By the introduction, "The word of 
the Lord came to me," the following transaction is introduced 
as a procedure of symbolical importance. It is evident from 
vers. 10 and 11 that messengers had come to Jerusalem from 
the Israelites who had been left behind in Babel, to offer 
presents of silver and gold, probably for supporting the erec 
tion of the temple, and had gone to the house of Josiah the 
son of Zephaniah. The prophet is to go to them, and to take 
silver and gold from them, to have a crown made for Joshua 
the high priest. The construction in vers. 10 and 11 is some 
what broad and dragging. The object is wanting to the inf. 
absol. PNPJj which is used instead of the imperative ; and the 
sentence which has been begun is interrupted by til flN^S so 
that the verb which stands at the head is resumed in the Jjnjp^i 
of ver. 11, and the sentence finished by the introduction of 
the object. This view is the simplest one. For it is still more 
impracticable to take nip/> in an absolute sense, and either 
supply the object from the context, or force it out by altera 
tions of the text (Hitzig). If, for example, we were to supply 
as the object, " that which they are bringing," this meaning 
would result : " accept what they are bringing, do not refuse 

CHAP. VI. 9-11. 297 

it," without there being any ground for the assumption that 
there had been any unwillingness to accept the presents. The 
alteration of flfl8 into ^EHD, " my jewels," is destitute of any 
critical support, and ^fOB is defended against critical caprice 
by the D?np in ver. 14. Nor can fyl3n nxp be taken as the 
object to rrip^, take (some) from the emigration," because 
this thought requires |O, and is irreconcilable with flKB, " from 
with." Haggoldh, lit. the wandering into exile, then those who 
belong to the wandering, or to the exiled, not merely those 
who are still in exile, but very frequently also those who have 
returned from exile. This is the meaning here, as in Ezra 
iv. 1, vi. 19, etc. Mecheldai is an abbreviation for TOT1 DXE>. 
Cheldaij Tobiyali, and YedahyaJi, w r ere the persons who had 
come from Babylon to bring the present. This is implied in 
the words 3B 1N2 "ISW, whither they have come from Babel. 
"15?K is an accus. loci, pointing back to rV3. We are not war 
ranted in interpreting the names of these men symbolically or 
typically, either by the circumstance that the names have an 
appellative meaning, like all proper names in Hebrew, or by 
the fact that Cheldai is written Chelem in ver. 14, and that 
instead of Josiah we have there apparently clien. For chen is 
not a proper name (see at ver. 14), and chelem, i.e. strength, 
is not materially different from Cheldai, i.e. the enduring one ; 
so that it is only a variation of the name, such as we often 
meet with. The definition " on that day" can only point back 
to the day mentioned in ch. i. 7, on which Zechariah saw the 
night-visions, so that it defines the chronological connection 
between this symbolical transaction and those night-visions. 
For, with the explanation given by C. B. Michaelis, " die isto 
quo soil, facere debes quce nunc mando" the definition of the 
time is unmeaning. If God had defined the day more precisely 
to the prophet in the vision, the prophet would have recorded 
it. Zechariah is to have given to him as much of the silver 
and gold which they have brought with them as is required 
to make dtdroth. The plural dtdroth does indeed apparently 
point to at least two crowns, say a silver and a golden one, as 
C. B. Michaelis and Hitzig suppose. But what follows cannot 
be made to harmonize with this. The prophet is to put the 
dtdro th upon Joshua s head. But you do not put two or 
more crowns upon the head of one man ; and the indifference 


with which Ewald, Hitzig, and Bunsen interpolate the words 
ty iOItt ?31Y")T after t^N"i3, without the smallest critical authority, 
is condemned by the fact that in what follows only one wearer 
of a crown is spoken of, and in ver. 13, according to the correct 
interpretation, there is no " sharp distinction made between the 
priest and the Messiah." The plural atdroth denotes here one 
single splendid crown, consisting of several gold and silver 
twists wound together, or rising one above another, as in Job 
xxxi. 36, and just as in Rev. xix. 12 (eVt rrjv K<^a\^v CLVTOV 
&ia$r)fjLaTa TroXXa) Christ is said to wear, not many separate 
diadems, but a crown consisting of several diadems twisted 
together, as the insignia of His regal dignity. 

The meaning of this is explained in vers. 12-15. Ver. 12. 
" And speak to him, saying. Thus speaketh Jehovah of hosts, 
saying, Behold a man, His name is Tsemach (Sprout), and from 
His place will He sprout up, and build the temple of Jehovah. 
Ver. 13. And He will build the temple of Jehovah , and He will 
carry loftiness, and will sit and rule upon His throne, and will 
be a priest upon His throne, and the counsel of peace will be 
between them both. Ver. 14. And the crown will be to Chelem, 
and to Tobijah, and to Jedahjah, and the favour of the son of 
Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of Jehovah. Ver. 15. 
And they that are far off will come and build at the temple of 
Jehovah ; then will ye know that Jehovah of hosts hath sent me 
to you ; and it will come to pass, if ye hearken to the voice of 
Jehovah your God. Two things are stated in these verses 
concerning the crown : (1) In vers. 12 and 13 the meaning is 
explained of the setting of the crown upon the head of Joshua 
the high priest ; and (2) in vers. 14, 15, an explanation is 
given of the circumstance, that the crown had been made of 
silver and gold presented by men of the captivity. The 
crowning of Joshua the high priest with a royal crown, which 
did not properly belong to the high priest as such, as his head 
dress is neither called a crown ^atdrdh) nor formed part of 
the insignia of royal dignity and glory, had a typical signifi 
cance. It pointed to a man who would sit upon his throne as 
both ruler and priest, that is to say, would combine both royalty 
and priesthood in his own person and rank. The expression 
" Speak thou to him" shows that the words of Jehovah are 
addressed to Joshua, and to him alone (IvK is singular), and 

CHAP. VI. 12-15. 299 

therefore that Zerubbabel must not be interpolated into ver. 11 
along with Joshua. The man whom Joshua is to represent or 
typify, by having a crown placed upon his head, is designated 
as the Messiah, by the name Tsemach (see at ch. iii. 8) ; and this 
name is explained by the expression np^ VfinfiD. These words 
must not be taken impersonally, in the sense of " under him 
will it sprout" (LXX., Luth., Calov., Hitzig, Maurer, and 
others) ; for this thought cannot be justified from the usage of 
the language, to say nothing of its being quite remote from the 
context, since we have IWflp, and riot vnnn (under him) ; and 
moreover, the change of subject in nw and njrfl would be in 
tolerably harsh. In addition to this, according to Jer. xxxiii. 
15, the Messiah is called Tsemach, because Jehovah causes a 
righteous growth to spring up to David, so that Tsemach is the 
sprouting one, and not he who makes others or something else 
to sprout. VJjnriD, " from under himself," is equivalent to 
" from his place" (Ex. x. 23), i.e. from his soil ; and is cor 
rectly explained by Alting in Hengstenberg thus : " both as to 
his nation and as to his country, of the house of David, Judah, 
and Abraham, to whom the promises were made. * It also 
contains an allusion to the fact that He will grow from below 
upwards, from lowliness to eminence. This Sprout will build 
the temple of the Lord. That these words do not refer to 
the building of the earthly temple of stone and wood, as Ros. 
and Hitzig with the Rabbins suppose, is so obvious, that even 
Koehler has given up this view here, and understands the 
words, as Hengstenberg, Tholuck, and others do, as relating to 
the spiritual temple, of which the tabernacle and the temples of 
both Solomon and Zerubbabel were only symbols, the temple 
which is the church of God itself (Hos. viii. 1 ; 1 Pet. ii. 5 ; 
Heb. iii. 6 ; and Eph. ii. 21, 22). Zechariah not only speaks 
of this temple here, but also in ch. iv. 9, as Haggai had done 
before him, in Hag. ii. 6-9, which puts the correctness of our 
explanation of these passages beyond the reach of doubt. The 
repetition of this statement in ver. 13a is not useless, but serves, 
as the emphatic wni before this and the following sentence 
shows, to bring the work of the Tsemach into connection with 
the place He will occupy, in other words, to show the glory 
of the temple to be built. The two clauses are to be linked 
together thus : " He who will build the temple, the same will 


carry eminence." There is no " antithesis to the building of 
the temple by Joshua and Zerubbabel" (Koehler) in fcttro ; but 
this is quite as foreign to the context as another view of the 
same commentator, viz. that ver. 13 interrupts the explanation 
of what the shoot is to be. lin, eminence, is the true word for 
regal majesty (cf. Jer. xxii. 18 ; 1 Chron. xxix. 25 ; Dan. xi. 
21). In this majesty He will sit upon His throne and rule, 
also using His regal dignity and power for the good of His 
people, and will be a Priest upon His throne, i.e. will be at 
once both Priest and King upon the throne which He assumes. 
The rendering, " And there will be a priest upon His throne" 
(Ewald and Hitzig), is precluded by the simple structure of 
the sentences, and still more by the strangeness of the thought 
which it expresses ; for the calling of a priest in relation to 
God and the people is not to sit upon a throne, but to stand 
before Jehovah (cf. Judg. xx. 28 ; Deut. xvii. 12). Even the 
closing words of this verse, " And a counsel of peace will be 
between them both," do not compel us to introduce a priest 
sitting upon the throne into the text by the side of the Tsemacli 
ruling upon His throne. BrPp.^ cannot be taken as a neuter 
in the sense of " between the regal dignity of the Messiah and 
His priesthood" (Capp., Ros.), and does not even refer to the 
Tsemacli and Jehovah, but to the Moshel and Kohen, who sit 
upon the throne, united in one person, in the Tsemach. Between 
these two there will be atsath shdlom. This does not merely 
mean, " the most perfect harmony will exist" (Hofmann, Um- 
breit), for that is a matter of course, and does not exhaust the 
meaning of the words. Atsath shdlom, counsel of peace, is 
not merely peaceful, harmonious consultation, but consultation 
which has peace for its object ; and the thought is the follow 
ing : The Messiah, who unites in Himself royalty and priesthood, 
will counsel and promote the peace of His people. 

This is the typical meaning of the crowning of the high 
priest Joshua. But another feature is added to this. The 
crown, which has been placed upon the head of Joshua, to 
designate him as the type of the Messiah, is to be kept in the 
temple of the Lord after the performance of this act, as a 
memorial for those who bring the silver and gold from the 
exiles in Babel, and ~|3 jnp, i.e. for the favour or grace of the 
son of Zephaniah. Chen is not a proper name, or another name 

CHAP. VI. 12-15. SOI 

for Josiah, but an appellative in the sense of favour, or a favour 
able disposition, and refers to the favour which the son of 
Zephaniah has shown to the emigrants who have come from 
Babylon, by receiving them hospitably into his house. For a 
memorial of these men, the crown is to be kept in the temple 
of Jehovah. The object of this is not merely " to guard it 
against profanation, and perpetuate the remembrance of the 
givers" (Kliefoth) ; but this action has also a symbolical and 
prophetic meaning, which is given in ver. 15 in the words, 
" Strangers will come and build at the temple of the Lord." 
Those who have come from the far distant Babylon are types 
of the distant nations who will help to build the temple of the 
Lord with their possessions and treasures. This symbolical 
proceeding therefore furnishes a confirmation of the promise 
in Hag. ii. 7, that the Lord will fill His temple with the 
treasures of all nations. By the realization of what is indi 
cated in this symbolical proceeding, Israel will perceive that 
the speaker has been sent to them by the Lord of hosts ; that is 
to say, not that Zechariah has spoken by the command of God, 
but that the Lord has sent the angel of Jehovah. For although 
in what precedes, only the prophet, and not the angel of 
Jehovah, has appeared as acting and speaking, we must not 
change the " sending" into " speaking" here, or take the 
formula W *3 BfiyTI in any other sense here than in ch. ii. 13, 
15, and iv. 9. We must therefore assume, that just as the 
words of the prophet pass imperceptibly into words of Jehovah, 
so here they pass into the words of the angel of Jehovah, who 
says concerning himself that Jehovah has sent him. The 
words conclude with the earnest admonition to the hearers, that 
they are only to become partakers of the predicted good when 
they hearken to the voice of their God. The sentence com 
mencing with rvrn does not contain any aposiopesis ; there is no 
valid ground for such an assumption as this in the simple an 
nouncement, which shows no trace of excitement ; but v*hdydh 
may be connected with the preceding thought, " ye will know," 
etc., and affirms that they will only discern that the angel of 
Jehovah has been sent to them when they pay attention to the 
voice of their God. Now, although the recognition of the 
sending of the angel of the Lord involves participation in the 
Messianic salvation, the fact that this recognition is made to 

* cD 


depend upon their giving heed to the word of God, by no means 
implies that the coming of the Messiah, or the participation of 
the Gentiles in His kingdom, will be bound up with the fidelity 
of the covenant nation, as Hengstenberg supposes ; but the 
words simply declare that Israel will not come to the knowledge 
of the Messiah or to His salvation, unless it hearkens to the 
voice of the Lord. Whoever intentionally closes his eyes, will 
be unable to see the salvation of God. 

The question whether the prophet really carried out the 
symbolical action enjoined upon him in vers. 10 sqq., exter 
nally or not, can neither be answered in the affirmative nor 
with a decided negative. The statement in ver. 11, that the 
prophet, who was hardly a goldsmith, was to make the crown, 
is no more a proof that it was not actually done, than the 
talmudic notice in Middoth iii., concerning the place where 
the crown was hung up in the temple, is a proof that it 
was. For fiW in ver. 11 may also express causing to be 
made ; and the talmudic notice referred to does not affirm 
that this crown was kept in the temple, but simply states that 
in the porch of the temple there were beams stretching from 
one wall to the other, and that golden chains were fastened to 
them, upon which the priestly candidates climbed up and saw 
crowns ; and the verse before us is then quoted, with the 
formula 1D&OB* as a confirmation of this. 


In reply to a question addressed to the priests and prophets 
in Jerusalem by the messengers of Bethel, whether the day on 
which Jerusalem and the temple were reduced to ashes by the 
Chaldseans is still to be kept as a day of mourning and fasting 
(ch. vii. 1-3), the Lord declares to the people through Zechariah, 
that He does not look upon fasting as a service well-pleasing 
to Him, but that He desires obedience to His word (vers. 4-7), 
and that He has only been obliged to scatter Israel among the 
nations on account of its obstinate resistance to the command 
ments of righteousness, love, and truth made known to them 

CHAP. VII. 1. 303 

through the prophets (vers. 8-14), but that now He will turn 
again to Zion and Jerusalem with great warmth of love, and 
will bless His people with abundant blessings if they will only 
perform truth, just judgment, faithfulness, and love one towards 
another (ch. viii. 1-17). Then will He make the previous fast- 
days into days of joy and delight to them, and so glorify Him 
self upon Jerusalem, that many and powerful nations will come 
to seek and worship the Lord of hosts there (ch. viii. 18-23). 


Vers. 1-3 describe the occasion for this instructive and 
consolatory " word of God," which was addressed to Zechariah 
in the fourth year of Darius, i.e. two years after the building 
of the temple was resumed, and two years before its completion, 
and therefore at a time when the building must have been far 
advanced, and the temple itself was possibly already finished 
in the rough. Ver. 1. "It came to pass in the fourth year of 
king Darius, that the word of Jehovah came to Zechariah) on the 
fourth (day) of the ninth month, in Kislev" In this definition 
of the time we are surprised first of all at the circumstance, 
that, according to the Masoretic accentuation, and the division 
of the verses, the statement of the time is torn into two halves, 
and the notice of the year is placed after W, whilst that of the 
month does not follow till after " 1?"] rvn ; and secondly, at 
the fact that the introduction of the occurrence which led to 
this word of God is appended with the imperfect c. Vav rel. 
(vayyishlacli), which would then stand in the sense of the plu 
perfect in opposition to the rule. On these grounds we must 
give up the Masoretic division of the verses, and connect the 
notice of the month and day in ver. 15 with ver. 2, so that 
ver. 1 contains merely the general statement that in the fourth 
year of king Darius the word of the Lord came to Zechariah. 
What follows will then be appended thus : On the fourth day 
of the ninth month, in Kislev, Bethel sent, etc. Thus the more 
precise definition of the time is only given in connection with 
the following occurrence, because it was self-evident that the 
word of God which was addressed to the prophet in consequence 
of that event, could not have been addressed to him before it 


occurred. The rendering of the words in ver. 2a is also a 
disputed point. We adopt the following : Ver. 2. " Then 
Bethel sent Sharezer and Regem-melech, and his people, to entreat 
the face of Jehovah, (ver. 3) to speak to the priests who were at the 
house of Jehovah of hosts, and to the prophets, thus : Shall I weep, 
abstaining in the fifth month as I have now done so many years ?" 
As Beth-el may either signify the house of God, or be the name 
of the town of Bethel, it may be taken either as accus. loci, or as 
the subject of the sentence. Against the first explanation, which 
is very widely spread, viz. " it sent to the house of God, or to 
Bethel, Sharezer," etc., or " they sent to the house of God Shar 
ezer," etc., it maybe argued not only that the prophet, in order 
to make himself intelligible, ought either to have written el 
Beth- el, or to have placed Beth- el after the object, but also that 
beth-el cannot be shown to have been ever applied to the temple 
of Jehovah, and that it would have been altogether out of place 
to speak of sending to Bethel, because Jehovah could not be 
prayed to in Bethel after the captivity. We must therefore 
take beth-el as the subject, and understand it as denoting the 
population of Bethel, and not as a name given to the church 
of the Lord, since there are no conclusive passages to support 
any such use, as beth Y e hovdh only is used for the church of 
God (see at Hos. viii. 1), and here there could be no induce 
ment to employ so unusual an epithet to denote the nation. A 
considerable number of the earlier inhabitants of Bethel had 
already returned with Zerubbabel, according to Ezra ii. 28 and 
Neh. vii. 32 ; and, according to Neh. xi. 31, the little town 
appears to have been soon rebuilt. The inhabitants of this 
city sent an embassy to Jerusalem, namely Sharezer and 
Rechem-Melech, and his men. The omission of the nota accus. 
ris has indeed been adduced as an objection to this interpreta 
tion of the names as the object, and the names have been there 
fore taken as the subject, and regarded as in apposition to 
Beth-el: "Bethel, namely Sharezer and Rechem, etc., sent;" 
that is to say, two men are mentioned in connection with 
Bethel, who are supposed to have acted as leaders of the em 
bassy. But there is something so harsh and inflexible in the 
assumption of such an apposition as this, that in spite of the 
omission of the HX we prefer to regard the names as accusa 
tives. The name Sharezer is evidently Assyrian (cf. Isa. xxxvii 

CHAP. VII. 2, 3. 305 

38 ; Jer. xxxix. 3, 13), so that the man was probably born in 
Babylonia. The object of sending these men is given first of 
all in general terms : viz. " ""P.S fiN ?n> 9 lit. to stroke the face 
of Jehovah, an anthropomorphic expression for affectionate 
entreaty (see at Ps. cxix. 58), and then defined more precisely 
in ver. 3, where it is stated that they were to inquire of the 
priests and prophets, i.e. through their mediation, to entreat an 
answer from the Lord, whether the mourning and fasting were 
to be still kept up in the fifth month. Through the clause 
" wJ? "iKte the priests are described as belonging to the house 
of Jehovah, though not in the sense supposed by Kliefoth, 
namely, "because they were appointed to serve in His house 
along with the Levites, in the place of the first-born, who were 
the possession of Jehovah" (Num. iii. 41 ; Deut. x. 8, 9). 
There is no such allusion here ; but the meaning is simply, " as 
the persons in the temple, who by virtue of their mediatorial 
service were able to obtain an answer from Jehovah to a ques 
tion addressed to Him in prayer." The connection with the 
prophets points to this. The question n|3XH is defined by the 
inf. absol. "iTsr^ as consisting in weeping or lamentation connected 
with abstinence from food and drink, i.e. with fasting. On 
this use of the inf. abs., see Ewald, 280, a; ">.T3n ? to abstain (in 
this connection from meat and drink), is synonymous with Dtif 
in ver. 5. BW n?|3 nt : " these how many years," for which 
we should say, " so many years." Kammeh suggests the idea 
of an incalculably long duration. HT, in this and other similar 
combinations with numerical data, has acquired the force of 
an adverb : now, already (cf. ch. i. 12, and Ewald, 302, b). 
The subject to n J?K * s tne population of Bethel, by which the 
men had been delegated. The question, however, had reference 
to a subject in which the whole community was interested, 
and hence the answer from God is addressed to all the people 
(ver. 5). So far as the circumstances themselves are concerned, 
we can see from ver. 5 and ch. viii. 19, that during the cap 
tivity the Israelites had adopted the custom of commemorating 
the leading incidents in the Chaldean catastrophe by keeping 
fast-days in the fifth, seventh, fourth, and tenth months. In 
the fifth month (Ab), on the tenth day, because, according to 
Jer. Iii. 12, 13, that was the day on which the temple and the 
city of Jerusalem were destroyed by fire in the nineteenth year 
VOL. IT. u 


of Nebuchadnezzar, though the seventh day of that month is 
the date given in 2 Kings xxv. 8, 9 (see the comm. in loc.). 
In the seventh month, according to Jewish tradition, they 
fasted on the third day, on account of the murder of the 
governor Gedaliah, and the Judasans who had been left in the 
land (2 Kings xxv. 25, 26; Jer. xli. 1 sqq.). In the fourth 
month (Tammuz) they fasted on the ninth day, on account of 
the conquest of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar in the eleventh 
year of Zedekiah (Jer. xxxix. 2, lii. 6, 7). And lastly, in the 
tenth month, a fast was kept on the tenth day on account of 
the commencement of the siege of Jerusalem by Nebuchad 
nezzar on that day, in the ninth year of Zedekiah (2 Kings 
xxv. 1 and Jer. xxxix. I). 1 The question put by the delegates 
referred simply to the fasting in the fifth month, in commemo 
ration of the destruction of the temple. And now that the 
rebuilding of the temple was rapidly approaching completion, it 
appeared no longer in character to continue to keep this day, 
especially as the prophets had proclaimed on the part of God, 
that the restoration of the temple would be a sign that Jehovah 
had once more restored His favour to the remnant of His people. 
If this fast-day were given up, the others would probably be 
also relinquished. The question actually involved the prayer 
that the Lord would continue permanently to bestow upon His 

1 The later Jews kept the 9th Ab as the day when both the first and 
second temples were destroyed by fire ; and in Mishna Taanit iv. 6, five 
disasters are enumerated, which had fallen upon Israel on that day : viz. 

(1) the determination of God not to suffer the fathers to enter the pro 
mised land ; (2 and 3) the destruction of the first and second temples ; 
(4) the conquest of the city of Bether in the time of Bar-Cochba ; (5) the 
destruction of the holy city, which Rashi explains from Mic. iii. 12 and 
Jer. xxvi. 18, but which others refer to the fact that Turnus Rufus (either 
Turannius Rufus or T. Annius Rufus : cf. Schottgen, Horse hebr. et talm. 
ii. 953 sqq., and Jost, Gesch. des Judenthums, ii. 77) ploughed over the 
foundation of the temple. Also, on the seventeenth of the fourth month 
(Tammuz), according to Mishna Taan. iv. 6, five disasters are said to have 
befallen Israel : (1) the breaking of the tables of the law (Ex. xxxii.) ; 

(2) the cessation of the daily sacrifice in the first temple from the want of 
sacrificial lambs (cf. Jer. lii. 6) ; (3) the breach made in the city walls ; 
(4) the burning of the law by Apostemus ; and (5) the setting up of the 
abomination, i.e. of an idol, in the temple (Dan. xi. 31, xii. 13). Vid. 
Lundius, Codex talm. de jejunio, Traj. ad Rhen. 1694, p. 55 sqq. ; also in 
abstract in Mishna ed. Surenhus. ii. pp. 382-3 

CHAP. VII. 4-7. 307 

people the favour which He had restored to them, and not only 
bring to completion the restoration of the holy place, which 
was already begun, but accomplish generally the glorification of 
Israel predicted by the earlier prophets. The answer given by 
the Lord through Zechariah to the people refers to this, since 
the priests and prophets could give no information in the matter 
of their own accord. 

The answer from the Lord divides itself into two parts, ch. 
vii. 4-14 and ch. viii. In the first part He explains what it is 
that He requires of the people, and why He has been obliged 
to punish them with exile : in the second He promises them 
the restoration of His favour and the promised salvation. Each 
of these parts is divisible again into two sections, ch. vii. 4-7 
and ch. vii. 814, ch. viii. 1-17 and ch. viii. 1823 ; and each 
of these sections opens with the formula, " The word of Jehovah 
(of hosts) came to me (Zechariah), saying." 

Vers. 4-7. The first of these four words of God contains 
an exposure of what might be unwarrantable in the question 
and its motives, and open to disapproval. Ver. 4. " And the 
word of Jehovah of hosts came to me thus, Ver. 5. Speak to 
ail the people of the land, and to the priests, saying. When ye 
fasted and mourned in the fifth and in the seventh (inonth), and 
that for seventy years, did ye, when fasting, fast to me ? Ver. 6. 
And ivhen ye eat, and when ye drink, is it not ye ivho eat, and 
ye who drink ? Ver. 7. Does it not concern the words, which 
Jehovah has preached through the former prophets, when Jerusa 
lem was inhabited and satisfied, and her towns round about her, 
and the south country and the low land were inhabited ? " The 
thought of vers. 6 and 7 is the following : It is a matter of 
indifference to God whether the people fast or not. The true 
fasting, which is well pleasing to God, consists not in a phari- 
saical abstinence from eating and drinking, but in the fact 
that men observe the word of God and live thereby, as the 
prophets before the captivity had already preached to the 
people. This overthrew the notion that men could acquire 
the favour of God by fasting, and left it to the people to decide 
whether they would any longer observe the previous fast- 
days ; it also showed what God would require of them if they 
wished to obtain the promised blessings. For the inf. absol 
see at Hag i. 6. The fasting in the seventh month was not 


the fast on the day of atonement which was prescribed in 
the law (Lev. xxiii.), but, as has been already observed, the 
fast in commemoration of the murder of Gedaliah. In the 
form ^fi&V the suffix is not a substitute for the dative (Ges. 
121, 4), but is to be taken as an accusative, expressive of the 
fact that the fasting related to God (Ewald, 315, b). The 
suffix is strengthened by ^K for the sake of emphasis (Ges. 
121, 3). In ver. 7 the form of the sentence is elliptical. 
The verb is omitted in the clause D*wrrnK K^n, but not the 
subject, say nt, which many commentators supply, after the 
LXX., the Peshito, and the Vulgate ("Are these not the words 
which Jehovah announced ? "), in which case riN would have 
to be taken as nota nominativi. The sentence contains an 
aposiopesis, and is to be completed by supplying a verb, either 
" should ye not do or give heed to the words which," etc.? 
or "do ye not know the words?" n ?^j as in ch. i. 11, in 
the sense of sitting or dwelling ; not in a passive sense, " to 
be inhabited," although it might be so expressed. nvE> is 
synonymous with ntDgfc> in ch. i. 11. 3K^, in the sense indicated 
at the close of the verse, is construed in the singular masculine, 
although it refers to a plurality of previous nouns (cf. Ges. 
148, 2). In addition to Jerusalem, the following are mentioned 
as a periphrasis for the land of Juclah : (1) her towns round 
about ; these are the towns belonging to Jerusalem as the 
capital, towns of the mountains of Judah which were more or 
less dependent upon her : (2) the two rural districts, which 
also belonged to the kingdom of Judah, viz. the negeb, the 
south country (which Koehler erroneously identifies with the 
mountains of Juclah ; compare Josh. xv. 21 with xv. 48), and 
the sJfpheldh, or lowland along the coast of the Mediterranean 
(see at Josh. xv. 33). 

Vers. 8-14. The second word of the Lord recals to the 
recollection of the people the disobedience of the fathers, and 
its consequences, viz. the judgment of exile, as a warning 
example. The introduction of the prophet s name in the 
heading in ver. 8 does not warrant the strange opinion held 
by Schmieder and Schlier namely, that our prophet is here 
reproducing the words of an earlier Zechariah who lived before 
the captivity but is merely to be attributed to a variation in 
the form of expression. This divine word was as follows : 

CHAP. VII. 9-12. 309 

Ver. 9. " Thus hath Jehovah of hosts spoken, saying, Execute 
judgment of truth, and show love and compassion one to another. 
Ver. 10. And widows and orphans, strangers and destitute ones, 
oppress not ; and meditate not in your heart the injury of every 
brother. Ver. 11. But they refused to attend, and offered a 
rebellious shoulder, and hardened their ears that they might not 
hear. Ver. 12. And they made their heart diamond, that they 
might not hear the law and the words which Jehovah of hosts 
sent through His Spirit by means of the former prophet, so 
that great wrath came from Jehovah of hosts." "IBK fib is to be 
taken as a preterite here, referring to what Jehovah had caused 
to be proclaimed to the people before the captivity. The kernel 
of this announcement consisted in the appeal to the people, to 
keep the moral precepts of the law, to practise the true love of 
the neighbour in public life and private intercourse. Mishpat 
emeth, judgment of truth (cf. Ezek. xviii. 8), is such an ad 
ministration of justice as simply fixes the eye upon the real 
circumstances of any dispute, without any personal considera 
tions whatever, and decides them in accordance with truth. 
For the fact itself, compare Ex. xxii. 20, 21, xxiii. 6-9 ; Lev. 
xix. 15-18; Deut. x. 18, 19, xxiv. 14; Isa. i. 17; Jer. vii. 
o, 6, xxii. 3 ; Ezek. xviii. 8 ; Hos. xii. 7, etc. VriN e* njn, 
the injury of a man who is his brother (as in Gen. ix. 5) ; not 
" injury one towards another," which would suppose a trans 
position of the t^N = VnN njn C*K. In vers. 11 and 12 the 
attitude of the people towards these admonitions of God is 
described. Nathan kdtheph sorereth : to give or offer a rebellious 
shoulder, as in Neh. ix. 29. The figure is borrowed from an 
ox, which will not allow a yoke to be placed upon its neck 
(cf. Hos. iv. 16). To make the ears heavy (hikhlid), away 
from hearing, i.e. so that they do not hear (cf. Isa. vi. 10). 
To make the heart diamond (shdmlr), i.e. as hard as diamond. 
A stony heart is a heart not susceptible to impressions (cf. Ezek. 
xi. 19). The relative "i^K before shdlach refers to the two nouns 
named before, viz. torah and d e bhdrlm, though we need not on 
that account take tordh in the general sense of instruction. God 
also sent the law to the people through the prophets, i.e. caused 
them to preach it and impress it upon their hearts. The con 
sequence of this obduracy of the people was, that " there arose 
great wrath from Jehovah " (cf. ch. i. 2 ; 2 Kings iii. 27). 


This wrath is described in vers 13, 14. Ver. 13. " It came 
to pass : as he cried and they did not hear, so will they cry and 
I shall not hear, said Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 14. And I will 
scatter them with a whirlwind over all nations, ivho did not know 
them, and the land is laid waste behind them, so that no one 
passes to and fro. And thus they made the choice land a desert." 
The form of the address changes in ver. 13. Whereas in the 
protasis the prophet is still speaking of Jehovah in the third 
person, in the apodosis he introduces Jehovah as speaking (so 
will they cry, and I, etc.) and announcing the punishment, 
which He will inflict upon the rebellious and has already 
inflicted in their captivity. This address of God is continued 
in ver. 14 as far as 3$D*. The opinion, that the address ter 
minates with WT 1 . K? 9 and that P.K|J1 commences the account 
of the accomplishment of the purpose to punish, is not so much 
at variance with the circumstance, that in that case the last 
two clauses of ver. 14 would say essentially the same thing, 
as with the fact that W P.?. cannot, from its very form, 
be taken as an account of the accomplishment of the divine 
purpose. The perfect ndshammdh in this clause does not pre 
clude our connecting it with the preceding one, but is used 
to set forth the devastation as a completed fact : the land will 
be (not become) waste. The infliction of the punishment is 
expressed in ver. 13 in the form of a divine talio. As they 
have not hearkened to the word of God, so will God, when 
they call upon Him, namely in distress (cf. Hos. v. 15), also 
not hear (cf. Jer. xi. 11), but whirl them like a tempest over 
the nations. The form &"?.?&? is the first pers. imperf. piel 
for Dii?DX or D?y?, and Aramaic (cf. Ges. 52, 2, Anm. 2). 
On the nations whom they do not know, and who will there 
fore have no pity and compassion upon them, compare Jer. 
xxii. 28, xvi. 13. 3$D1 ^? V (cf. ix. 8), that not one goes 
to and fro in the desolate land ; lit. goes away from a place 
and returns again (cf. Ex. xxxii. 27). In the clause 131 lOW 
the result of the stiff-necked obstinacy of the fathers is briefly 
stated : They have made the choice land a desert Berets 
chemddh, as in Jer. iii. 19 and Ps. cvi. 24), so that they have 
brought upon the land all the calamity which is now bewailed 
upon the fast-days. 

CHAP. VIII. 1-3. 311 



In this chapter we have the second half of the Lord s 
answer to the question concerning the fast-days, which promises 
to the people the restitution of the former relation of grace, and 
the future glorification of Israel, on the simple condition of their 
observing the moral precepts of the law. This double promise 
is contained in two words of God, each of which is divided 
into a number of separate sayings, containing the separate 
details of the salvation bestowed by the formula " IDS H3 
(thus saith Jehovah of hosts) : the first into seven (vers. 2, 3, 
4-5, 6, 7, and ch. viii. 9-13, 14-17), the second into three 
(vers. 19, 20-22, and 23). Jerome observes, with reference 
to this : " By the separate words and sentences, in which Israel 
is promised not only prosperity, but things almost incredible in 
their magnitude, the prophet declares, Thus saith the Almighty 
God ; saying, in other words, Do not imagine that the things 
which I promise are my own, and so disbelieve me as only a 
man ; they are the promises of God which I unfold." 

Vers. 1-17. Restoration and completion of the covenant 
relation. Ver. 1. "And the word of Jehovah of hosts came, 
saying, Ver. 2. Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, I am jealous for 
Zion with great jealousy, and with great fury I am jealous for 
her" The promise commences with the declaration of the 
Lord, that He has resolved to give active expression once more 
to the warmth of His love to Zion. The perfects are used 
prophetically of that which God had resolved to do, and was 
now about to accomplish. For the fact itself, compare ch. i. 
14, 15. This warmth of the love of God towards Zion, and 
of His wrath towards the nations that were hostile to Zion, 
will manifest itself in the facts described in ver. 3 : " Thus 
saith Jehovah, I return to Zion, and shall dwell in the midst of 
Jerusalem; and Jerusalem will be called city of truth, and the 
mountain of Jehovah of hosts the holy mountain" When Jeru 
salem was given up into the power of its foes, the Lord had 
f6rsaken His dwelling-place in the temple. Ezekiel saw the 
glory of the Lord depart from the temple (ch. ix. 3, x. 4, 18, 
xi. 22, 23). Now He is about to resume His abode in Jeru- 


salem once more. The difference between this promise and 
the similar promise in ch. ii. 1417, is not that in the latter 
passage Jehovah s dwelling in the midst of His people is to 
be understood in an ideal and absolute sense, whereas here 
it simply denotes such a dwelling as had taken place before, as 
Koehler supposes. This is not implied in *R1W, nor is it in 
harmony with the statement that Jerusalem is to be called a 
city of truth, and the temple hill the holy mountain. f /r *&meth 
does not mean " city of security," but city of truth or fidelity, 
i.e. in which truth and fidelity towards the Lord have their 
home. The temple mountain will be called the holy moun 
tain, i.e. will be so, and will be recognised and known as being 
so, from the fact that Jehovah, the Holy One of Israel, will 
sanctify it by His dwelling there. Jerusalem did not acquire 
this character in the period after the captivity, in which, though 
not defiled by gross idolatry, as in the times before the captivity, 
it was polluted by other moral abominations no less than it 
had been before. Jerusalem becomes a faithful city for the 
first time through the Messiah, and it is through Him that the 
temple mountain first really becomes the holy mountain. The 
opinion, that there is nothing in the promises in vers. 3-13 
that did not really happen to Israel in the period from Zerub- 
babel to Christ (Kliefoth, Koehler, etc.), is proved to be incor 
rect by the very words, both of this verse and also of vers. 6, 
7, 8, which follow. How could the simple restoration of the 
previous covenant relation be described in ver. 6 as something 
that appeared miraculous and incredible to the nation I There 
is only so much correctness in the view in question, that the 
promise does not refer exclusively to the Messianic times, but 
that feeble commencements of its fulfilment accompanied the 
completion of the work of building the temple, and the restor 
ation of Jerusalem by Nehemiah. But the saying which 
follows proves that these commencements do not exhaust the 
meaning of the words. 

Ver. 4. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Yet will there sit old 
men and women in the streets of Jerusalem, every one with his 
staff in his hand, for the multitude of the days of his life. Ver. 5. 
And the streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing 
in their streets" Long life, to an extreme old age, and a plen 
tiful number of blooming children, were theocratic blessings, 

CHAP. VIII. 6-8. 313 

which the Lord had already promised in the law to His people, 
so far as they were faithful to the covenant. Consequently 
there does not appear to be any Messianic element in this pro 
mise. But if we compare this fourth verse with Isa. Ixv. 20, 
we shall see that extreme old age also belonged to the blessings 
of the Messianic times. And as Israel had almost always to 
suffer most grievously from wars and other calamities, which 
swept off the people at an untimely age, during the time which 
extended from Zerubbabel to Christ ; it must be admitted, not 
withstanding the description of the prosperous times which 
Israel enjoyed under the government of Simon (1 Mace. xiv. 
4-15), that this promise also was only fulfilled in a very 
meagre measure, so far as Jerusalem was concerned, before 
the coming of Christ. 

Ver. 6. u Thus saith Jehovah of hosts. If it be marvellous in 
the eyes of the remnant of this nation in those days, will it also be 
marvellous in my eyes? is the saying of Jehovah of hosts" The 
second clause of this verse is to be taken as a question with a 
negative answer, 03 for D3n ? as in 1 Sam. xxii. 7, and the mean 
ing is the following : If this (what is promised in vers. 3-5) 
should appear marvellous, i.e. incredible, to the people in those 
days when it shall arrive, it will not on that account appear 
marvellous to Jehovah Himself, i.e. Jehovah will for all that 
cause what has been promised actually to occur. This contains 
an assurance not only of the greatness of the salvation set 
before them, but also of the certainty of its realization. " The 
remnant of the nation," as in Hag. i. 12-14. 

Ver. 7. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Behold, I save my 
people out of the land of the rising and out of the land of the 
setting of the sun. Ver. 8. And I bring them hither, and they 
will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem, and will be my people, and 
I shall be their God, in truth and righteousness." The deliver 
ance of the people of God out of the heathen lands did indeed 
commence with the return of a body of exiles from Babylon 
under the guidance of Zerubbabel, but their deliverance out of 
all the countries of the earth is still in the future. Instead of 
all countries, the land of the rising (the east) and the land of 
the setting (the west) are individualized (cf. Ps. 1. 1, cxiii. 3 ; 
Isa. lix. 19; Mai. i. 11). This deliverance is first effected 
through the Messiah. This is indisputably evident from the 


words, " I bring them to Jerusalem," by which of course we 
cannot understand the earthly Jerusalem, since that would not 
furnish space enough for the Jews scattered throughout all the 
world, but the open and enlarged Jerusalem mentioned in ch. 
ii. 8, i.e. the Messianic kingdom of God. Then will those who 
have been gathered together out of all the countries of the 
earth become in truth God s nation. Israel was the nation of 
Jehovah, and Jehovah was also Israel s God from the time of 
the establishment of the old covenant at Sinai (Ex. xxiv.). 
This relation is to be restored in the future, " in truth and 
righteousness." This is the new feature by which the future 
is to be distinguished from the present and the past. The 
words "in truth and righteousness" belong to the two clauses, 
"they shall be" and I will be." For the fact itself, com 
pare Hos. ii. 21, 22 ; and for the expression, Isa. xlviii. 1 and 

1 Kings iii. 6. 

After these promises the prophet admonishes the people to 
be of good courage, because the Lord will from henceforth 
bestow His blessing upon them Ver. 9. " Thus saith Jehovah 
of hosts, Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these 
words from the mouth of the prophets, on the day that the foun 
dation of the house of Jehovah of hosts was laid, the temple, that 
it may be built. Ver. 10. For before those days there were no 
wages for the men, and no wages of cattle; and whoever went out 
and in had no peace because of the oppressor : and I drove all 
men, one against the other. Ver. 11. But now I am not as in 
the former days to the remnant of this people, is the saying of 
Jehovah of hosts. Ver. 12. But the seed of peace, the vine, shall 
yield its fruit, and the land shall yield its produce, and the heaven 
give its dew ; and to the remnant of this people will 1 give all 
this for an inheritance" Having the hands strong, is the same 
as taking good courage for any enterprise (thus in Judg. vii. 1 1 , 

2 Sam. ii. 7, and Ezek. xxii. 14). This phrase does not refer 
specially to their courageous continuation of the building of the 
temple, but has the more general meaning of taking courage 
to accomplish what the calling of each required, as vers. 10-13 
show. The persons addressed are those who hear the words of 
the prophets in these days. This suggests a motive for taking 
courage. Because they hear these words, they are to look for 
ward with comfort to the future, and do what their calling 

CHAP. VIII. 9-12. 315 

lequires. The words of the prophets are the promises which 
Zechariah announced in vers. 2-8, and his contemporary 
Haggai in ch. ii. It will not do to take the plural B K 11 ?? in a 
general sense, as referring to Zechariah alone. For if there 
had been no prophet at that time beside Zechariah, he could 
not have spoken in general terms of prophets. By the defin 
ing phrase, who are or who rose up at the time when the 
foundation of the temple was laid, these prophets are distin 
guished from the earlier ones before the captivity (ch. vii. 7, 12, 
i. 4), and their words are thereby limited to what Haggai and 
Zechariah prophesied from that time downwards. B^3 does 
not stand for &i s > (Hitzig), but yom is used in the general 
sense of the time at which anything does occur or has occurred. 
As a more precise definition of IB 11 Di 11 the word fl^snp is 
added, to show that the time referred to is that in which the 
laying of the foundation of the temple in the time of Cyrus 
became an eventful fact through the continuation of the 
building. In vers. 10 sqq. a reason is assigned for the ad 
monition to work with good courage, by an exhibition of the 
contrast between the present and the former times. Before 
those days, sc. when the building of the temple was resumed 
and continued, a man received no wages for his work, and 
even the cattle received none, namely, because the labour of 
man and beast, i.e. agricultural pursuits, yielded no result, or 
at any rate a most meagre result, by no means corresponding 
to the labour (cf. Hag. i. 6, 9-11, ii. 16, 19). The feminine 
suffix attached to na^K refers with inexactness to the nearest 
word nonar^ instead of the more remote 13^ (cf. Ewald, 
317, c). In addition to this, on going out and coming in, 
i.e. when pursuing their ordinary avocations, men came every 
where upon enemies or adversaries, and therefore there was an 
entire absence of civil peace. "isn is not an abstract noun, " op 
pression" (LXX., Chald., Yulg.), but a concrete, " adversary," 
oppressor, though not the heathen foe merely, but, as the last 
clause of ver. 10 shows, the adversaries in their own nation 
also. In IWK} the 1 is not a simple copula, but the 1 consec. 
with the compensation wanting, like Bnj^.! in Judg. vi. 9 (cf. 
Ewald, 232, A) ; and rw, to send, used of a hostile nation, is 
here transferred to personal attacks on the part of individuals. 
Vers. 11 sqq. But now the Lord will act differently to His 


remaining people, and bless it again with a fruitful harvest of 
the fruits of the field and soil, S 3 in ver. 12, " for," after a 
negative clause, " but." DvB n jnT, not the seed will be secure 
(Chald., Pesh.), but the seed of peace, viz. the vine. This is 
so designated, not because there is a b e rdkhdh in the grape 
(Isa. Ixv. 8) ; but because the vine can only flourish in peace 
ful times, and not when the land is laid waste by enemies 
(Koehler). On the words which follow, compare Lev. xxvi. 4 
sqq., Ps. Ixvii. 7, Hag. i. 10, ii. 19. "Future abundance will 
compensate for the drought and scarcity of the past" (Jerome). 

The whole blessing is finally summed up in one expression 
in ver. 13 : " And it will come to pass, as ye were a curse among 
the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I 
endow you with salvation, that ye may be a blessing. Fear not, let 
your hands be strong" The formula, to be a curse among the 
nations, is to be interpreted according to Jer. xxiv. 9, xxv. 9, 
xlii. 18, 2 Kings xxii. 19, as equivalent to being the object of a 
curse, i.e. so smitten by God as to serve as the object of curses. 
In harmony with this, the phrase to "become a blessing" is 
equivalent to being so blessed as to be used as a benedictory 
formula (cf. Gen. xlviii. 22 ; Jer. xxix. 22). This promise is 
made to the remnant of Judah and Israel, and therefore of all 
the twelve tribes, who are to become partakers of the future 
salvation in undivided unity (cf. ch. ix. 10, 13, x. 6, xi. 14). 
Israel is therefore to look forward to the future without alarm. 

The ground upon which this promise rests is given in vers. 
14 and 15, and it is closed in vers. 16 and 17 by the addition 
of the condition upon which it is to be fulfilled. Ver. 14. 
" For thus saith Jehovah of hosts : As I thought to do evil to you, 
ichen your fathers were angry with me, saith Jehovah of hosts, and 
repented not; Ver. 15. So have I purposed again in these days to 
do good to Jerusalem and to the house of Judah. Fear ye not. 
Ver. 16. These are the words that ye are to do : speak truth every 
one to his neighbour ; truth and judgment of peace judge ye in 
your gates. Ver. 17. And let not one devise the evil of his neigh 
bour, and love not the oath of deceit : for all this, I hate it, is 
the saying of Jehovah." As the time of punishment by exile 
came upon Israel through the decree of God, so is it now a 
decree of the Lord to show good to Judah. In ^Dl?J WK 
the RlW takes the place of the adverbial idea " again." The 

CHAP. VIII. 19-22. 317 

people have therefore no need to fear, if they are only diligent 
in practising truth, righteousness, and love to their neighbour. 
God required the same of the fathers (ch. vii. 9, 10). Mishpat 
shdlom is such an administration of justice as tends to promote 
peace and establish concord between those who are at strife. 
" In your gates," where courts of justice were held (cf. Deut. 
xxi. 19, xxii. 15, etc.). The n before n^ b in ver. 17 may 
be accounted for from a kind of attraction, inasmuch as by 
the insertion of "> &? the object " all this" is separated from 
the verb, to bring it out with emphasis : " As for all this, it is 
what I hate." Compare the similar use of 9 eth in Hag. ii. 5, 
and Ewald, 277, d. 

Yers. 18-23. The last word of God gives, in connection 
with what precedes, the direct answer to the inquiry concerning 
the fast-days, and consists of three sayings, vers. 19, 20, and 
23, of which the second and third explain the contents of the 
first more clearly. Ver. 18 is the same as vers. 1 and 7 and 
ch. iv. 8. Ver. 19. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : The fasting 
of the fourth, and the fasting of the fifth, and the fasting of the 
seventh, and the fasting of the tenth (months), will become plea 
sure and joy to the house of Judah, and good feasts. But truth 
and peace ye should love" On the fast-days mentioned, com 
pare the exposition of ch. vii. 3. These fast-days the Lord 
will turn into days of joy and cheerful feast-days namely, by 
bestowing upon them such a fulness of salvation, that Judah 
will forget to commemorate the former mournful events, and 
will only have occasion to rejoice in the blessings of grace 
bestowed upon it by God; though only when the condition 
mentioned in vers. 16 and 17 has been fulfilled. 1 

Ver. 20. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : Yet will nations 
come, and inhabitants of many cities. Ver. 21. And the inha 
bitants of one (city) will go to another, and say, We will go, 
go aivay, to supplicate the face of Jehovah, and to seek Jehovah 

1 Luther aptly observes : " Keep only what I command, and let fasting 
alone. Yea, if ye keep my commandments, not only shall such fasts be 
over and come to an end ; but because I will do so much good to Jeru 
salem, all the affliction, for which ye have chosen and kept such fasting, 
shall be so forgotten, that ye will be transported with joy when ye think 
of your fasting, and of the heart s grief on account of which ye fasted for 
the time," etc. 


of hosts. 1 I will aUo go Ver. 22. And many peoples and 
strong nations will come, to seek Jehovah of hosts in Jerusalem, 
and to supplicate the face of Jehovah" These verses do not 
announce a further or second glorification, which God has 
designed for His people, but simply indicate the nature and 
magnitude of the salvation appointed for Israel, through which 
its fast-days will be turned into days of joy. Hitherto Israel 
had kept days of mourning and fasting on account of the 
destruction of Jerusalem and the temple ; but in the future 
the Lord will so glorify His city and His house, that not only 
will Israel keep joyful feasts there, but many and strong 
heathen nations will go to the house of God, to seek and 
worship the God of hosts. n y is used with emphasis, so that 
it resembles a sentence : " It will still come to pass, that," etc. 
This is how "1K>K in vers. 21 and 23 is to be taken, and not 
as the introduction to the saying preceded energetically by Yy, 
for which Hitzig is wrong in referring to Mic. vi. 10. For 
the fact itself, compare Mic. iv. 1 sqq., Isa. ii. 2 sqq., Jer. 
xvi. 19. In ver. 21 the thought is individualized. The inha 
bitants of one city call upon those of another. ^vH nap^ we 
will go to supplicate," etc. ; and the population of the other 
city responds to the summons by saying, " I also will go." 
osrnK ni- n, as in ch. vii. 2. 

Ver. 23. " Thus saith Jehovah of hosts : In those days ten 
men out of all languages of the nations take hold ; they will take 
hold of the skirt of a Jewish man, saying, We will go with you; 
for we have heard God is ivith you." Not only will the heathen 
then flow to Jerusalem to seek the God of Israel, but they will 
crowd together to Israel and Judah to be received into fello\v- 
ship with them as a nation. Ten men from the heathen nations 
to one Jewish man : so great will be the pressure of the heathen. 
Ten is used as an indefinite number, denoting a great and com 
plete multitude, as in Gen. xxxi. 7, Lev. xxvi. 26, Num. xiv. 22, 
and 1 Sam. i. 8. For the figure, compare Isa. iv. 1. Wn.rn j s 
a resumption of *PW in the form of an apodosis. The unusual 
combination D^ian nfaby 73, " all the tongues of the nations," 
is formed after Isa. Ixvi. 18 (nub^rti D ian, "all nations and 
tongues," i.e. nations of all languages), and on the basis of 
Gen. x. 20 and 31. For D2y nrfa," compare Kuth i. 16; and 
for D3E>y D n ^, 2 Chron. xv. 9. 

CHAP. VIII. 23. 319 

The promise, that the Lord would change the fast-days in 
the future into days of rejoicing and cheerful feasts, if Israel 
only loved truth and peace (ver. 20), when taken in connec 
tion with what is said in ch. vii. 5, 6 concerning fasting, left 
the decision of the question, whether the fast-days were to 
be given up or to be still observed, in the hands of the people. 
We have no historical information as to the course adopted by 
the inhabitants of Judah in consequence of the divine answer. 
All that we know is, that even to the present day the Jews 
observe the four disastrous days as days of national mourning. 
The talmudic tradition in Rosli-hasliana (f. 18, a, 6), that the 
four fast-days were abolished in consequence of the answer of 
Jehovah, and were not restored again till after the destruction 
of the second temple, is not only very improbable, but is no 
doubt erroneous, inasmuch as, although the restoration of the 
days for commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the 
burning of the temple could easily be explained, on the suppo 
sition that the second destruction occurred at the same time 
as the first, it is not so easy to explain the restoration of the 
fast-days in commemoration of events for which there was no 
link of connection whatever in the destruction of Jerusalem 
by the Romans. In all probability, the matter stands rather 
thus : that after the receipt of this verbal answer, the people 
did not venture formally to abolish the fast-days before the 
appearance of the promised salvation, but let them remain, 
even if they were not always strictly observed; and that at 
a later period the Jews, who rejected the Messiah, began 
again to observe them with greater stringency after the second 
destruction of Jerusalem, and continue to do so to the present 
time, not because "the prophecy of the glory intended for 
Israel (vers. 18-23) is still unfulfilled" (Koehler), but because 
" blindness in part is happened to Israel," so that it has not 
discerned the fulfilment, which commenced with the appear 
ance of Christ upon earth. 


OF GOD. CHAPS, ix.-xiv. 

The two longer prophecies, which fill up the last part of 
our book (ch. ix.-xi. and xii.-xiv.), show by their headings, as 
well as by their contents, and even by their formal arrange 
ment, that they are two corresponding portions of a greater 
whole. In the headings, the fact that they have both the 
common character of a threatening prophecy or proclamation 
of judgment, is indicated by the application of the same 
epithet, Massot d e lhar Y e hovdh (burden of the word of Jehovah), 
whilst the objects, " land of Hadrach" (ch. ix. 1) and " Israel" 
(ch. xii. 1), point to a contrast, or rather to a conflict between 
the lands of Hadrach and Israel. This contrast or conflict 
extends through the contents of both. All the six chapters 
treat of the war between the heathen world and Israel, though 
in different ways. In the first oracle (ch. ix.-xi.), the judg 
ment, through which the power of the heathen world over Israel 
is destroyed and Israel is endowed with strength to overcome 
all its enemies, forms the fundamental thought and centre of 
gravity of the prophetic description. In the second (ch. xii.-xiv.), 
the judgment through which Israel, or Jerusalem and Judah, 
is sifted in the war with the heathen nations, and translated 
into the holy nation of the Lord by the extermination of its 
spurious members, is the leading topic. And lastly, in a formal 
respect the two oracles resemble one another, in the fact that 
in the centre of each the announcement suddenly takes a dif 
ferent tone, without any external preparation (ch. xi. 1 and 
xiii. 7), so that it is apparently the commencement of a new 
prophecy ; and it is only by a deeper research into the actual 
fact, that the connection between the two is brought out, and 
the relation between the two clearly seen, namely, that the 
second section contains a more minute description of the manner 
in which the events announced in the first section are to be 
realized. In the threatening word concerning the land of 
Hadrach, ch. ix. and x. form the first section, ch. xi. the second ; 
in that concerning Israel, the first section extends from ch. xii. 1 
to xiii. 6, and the second from ch. xiii. 7 to the end of the 

CHAP. IX. 1. 321 


Whilst the judgment falls upon the land of Hadrach, upon 
Damascus and Hamath, and upon Phoenicia and Philistia, so 
that these kingdoms are overthrown and the cities laid waste 
and the remnant of their inhabitants incorporated into the 
nation of God (ch. ix. 1-7), Jehovah will protect His people, 
and cause His King to enter Zion, who will establish a king 
dom of peace over the whole earth (vers. 8-10). Those 
members of the covenant nation who are still in captivity are 
redeemed, and endowed with victory over the sons of Javan 
(vers. 11-17), and richly blessed by the Lord their God to 
overcome all enemies in His strength (ch. x.). The unity of 
the two chapters, which form the first half of this oracle, is 
evident from the close substantial connection between the 
separate sections. The transitions from one complex of thought 
to the other are so vanishing, that it is a matter of dispute, in 
the case of ch. x. 1 and 2, for example, whether these verses 
should be connected with ch. ix., or retained in connection with 
ch. x. 4 sqq. 

AND ZION S KING OF PEACE. Ver. 1. The true interpretation 
of this section, and, in fact, of the whole prophecy, depends 
upon the explanation to be given to the heading contained 
in this verse. The whole verse reads thus : " Burden of the 
word of Jehovah over the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its 
resting-place ; for Jehovah has an eye upon the men, and upon 
all the tribes of Israel." There is a wide divergence of opinion 
concerning the land of ^n. We need not stop to give any 
elaborate refutation to the opinion that Hadrach is the name 
of the Messiah (as some Rabbins suppose), or that it is the 
name of an unknown Syrian king (Ges., Bleek), or of an 
Assyrian fire-god, Adar or Asar (Movers), or of a deity of 
Eastern Aramsea (Babylonia), as Hitzig maintained, since there 
is no trace whatever of the existence of such a king or deity ; 
and even Hitzig himself has relinquished his own conjecture. 
And the view defended by J. D. Mich, and Rosenmiiller, that 


HadracJi is the name of an ancient city, situated not far from 
Damascus, is destitute of any tenable basis, since Hengsten- 
berg (ChristoL iii. p. 372, transl.) has proved that the historical 
testimonies adduced in support of this rest upon some confusion 
with the ancient Arabian city of Drda, Adrda, the biblical 
Edrei (Deut. i. 4). As the name Hadrach or Chadrach never 
occurs again, and yet a city which gives its name to a land, 
and occurs in connection with Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and 
Sidon, could not possibly have vanished so completely, that even 
the earlier Jewish and Christian commentators heard nothing 
of it, Chadrach can only be a symbolical name formed by the 
prophet himself (as Jerome maintained, according to a Jewish 
tradition), from chad, acris, sharp, brave, ready for war (in 

Arabic, ^^, vehemens fuit, durus in ira, pugna)j and rdkh, soft, 

tender, in the sense of sharp-soft, or strong-tender, after the 
analogy of the symbolical names, Dumah for Edom, in Isa. xxi. 
11 ; Sheshach for Babylon, in Jer. xxv. 26, li. 41 ; Ariel for 
Jerusalem, in Isa. xxix. 1, 2, 7. This view can no more be 
upset by the objection of Koehler, that the interpretation of the 
name is a disputed point among the commentators, and that it 
is doubtful why the prophet should have chosen such a sym 
bolical epithet, than by the circumstance that the rabbinical 
interpretation of the word as a name for the Messiah is evi 
dently false, and has long ago been given up by the Christian 
commentators. That Hadrach denotes a land or kingdom, is 
raised above all reach of doubt by the fact that Berets (the 
land) is placed before it. But what land? The statement 
in the following sentence by no means compels us to think of 
a province of Syria, as Hitzig, Koehler, and others suppose. 
As the cities and lands which follow are quoted under their 
ordinary names, it is impossible to imagine any reason for 
the choice of a symbolical name for another district of Syria 
bordering upon Damascus and Hamath. The symbolical 
name rather points to the fact that the land of Hadrach 
denotes a territory, of which Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Sidon, 
and Philistia formed the several parts. And this is favoured 
by the circumstance that the words, " Burden of the word of 
Jehovah upon the land of Hadrach" form the heading to 
the oracle, in which the preposition 1 is used as in the ex- 

CHAP. ix. r. 323 

pression 3"TO N $E> in Isa. xxi. 13, and is to be explained from 
the phrase 2 "il 1 ^ ?} in Isa. ix. 7 : The burdensome word falls, 
descends upon the land of Hadrach. The remark of Koehler 
in opposition to this, to the effect that these words are not a 
heading, but form the commencement of the exposition of the 
word of Jehovah through the prophet, inasmuch as the follow 
ing clause is appended with 1, is quite groundless. The clause 
in Isa. xiv. 28, "In the year that king Ahaz died was this 
burden," is also a heading ^ and the assertion that the 1 before 
PK Ktt is not a 1 explic., but an actual Y conjunct., rests upon 
the assumption that the cities and lands mentioned in the 
course of this prophecy have not already been all embraced by 
the expression ^"jn r?.^> an assumption which has not been 
sustained by any proofs. On the contrary, the fact that not 
only is Damascus mentioned as the resting-place of the word 
of Jehovah, but Hamath and also the capitals of Phoenicia 
and Philistia are appended, proves the very opposite. This 
evidently implies that the burden resting upon the land of 
Hadrach will affect all these cities and lands. The exposition 
of the burden announced upon the land of Hadrach commences 
with pE EII. This is attached to the heading with Vav, because, 
so far as the sense is concerned, massa* is equivalent to "it 
presses as a burden." The exposition, however, is restricted, 
so far as Damascus and Hamath are concerned, to the simple 
remark that the burdensome word upon Hadrach will rest upon 
it, i.e. will settle permanently upon it. (The suffix in ton.JD 
refers to " TQ*] N&.) It is only with the lands which stood in 
a closer relation to Judah, viz. Tyre, Sidon, and the provinces 
of Philistia, that it assumes the form of a specially prophetic 
description. The contents of the heading are sustained by the 
thought in the second hemistich : " Jehovah has an eye upon 
men, and upon all the tribes of Israel."" tn PS! with the genit. 
obj. signifies an eye upon man, analogous to njpnn n^ps in 
ver. 12. D*JN, as distinguished from " all the tribes of Israel," 
signifies the rest of mankind, i.e. the heathen world, as in Jer. 
xxxii. 20, where " Israel " and " men " are opposed to one 
another. The explanatory clause, according to which the 
burden of Jehovah falls upon the land of Hadrach, and rests 
upon Damascus, because the eye of Jehovah looks upon man 
kind and all the tribes of Israel, i.e. His providence stretehes 


over the heathen world as well as over Israel, is quite sufficient 
in itself to overthrow the assumption of Hofmann and Koehler, 
that by the land of Hadrach we are to understand the land 
of Israel. For if the explanatory clause were understood as 
signifying that the burden, i.e. the judgment, would not only 
fall upon Hamath as the representative of the human race 
outside the limits of Israel, but also upon the land of Hadrach 
as the land of all. the tribes of Israel, this view would be pre 
cluded not only by the circumstance that in what follows 
heathen nations alone are mentioned as the objects of the 
judgment, whereas salvation and peace are proclaimed to 
Israel, but also by the fact that no ground whatever can be 
discovered for the application of so mysterious an epithet to 
the land of Israel. According to Hofmann (Schriftb. ii. 2, p. 
604), ^Vjn P.? signifies the whole of the territory of the king 
dom of David, which is so called as " the land of Israel, which, 
though weak in itself, was, through the strength of God, as 
sharp as a warrior s sword." But if a judgment of destruc 
tion, which Hofmann finds in our prophecy, were announced 
"to all the nations dwelling within the bounds of what was 
once the Davidic kingdom," the judgment would fall upon 
Israel in the same way as upon the heathen nations that are 
named, since the tribes of Israel formed the kernel of the 
nations who dwelt in what was once the Davidic kingdom, 
and Israel would therefore show itself as a sharp-soft people. 
Hence Koehler has modified this view, and supposes that only 
the heathen dwelling within the limits of the nation of the 
twelve tribes are threatened with Jehovah s judgment, namely, 
all the heathen within the land which Jehovah promised to His 
people on their taking possession of Canaan (Num. xxxiv. 1-12). 
But apart from the unfounded assumption that Hadrach is 
the name of a district of Syria on the border of Damascus and 
Hamath, this loophole is closed by the fact that, according to 
Num. xxxiv. 1 sqq., Hamath and Damascus are not included in 
the possession promised to Israel. According to Num. xxxiv. 8, 
the northern boundary of the land of Israel was to extend 
to Hamath, i.e. to the territory of the kingdom of Hamath, 
and Damascus is very far beyond the eastern boundary of the 
territory assigned to the Israelites (see the exposition of Num. 
xxxiv. 1-12). Now, if the land of Hadrach, Damascus, and 

CHAP. ix. i, 325 

Hamath were not within the ideal boundaries of Israel, and if 
Hamath and Hadrach did not belong to the Israelitish king 
dom in the time of David, the other lands or cities mentioned 
in our oracle cannot be threatened with the judgment on ac 
count of their lying within the Mosaic boundaries of the land 
of Israel, or being subject to the Israelites for a time, but can 
only come into consideration as enemies of Israel whose might 
was to be threatened and destroyed by the judgment. Con 
sequently the land of Hadrach must denote a land hostile to 
the covenant nation or the kingdom of God, and can only be 
a symbolical epithet descriptive of the Medo-Persian empire, 
which is called sharp-soft or strong-weak on account of its 
inwardly divided character, as Hengstenberg and Kliefoth 
assume. Now f however difficult it may be satisfactorily to 
explain the reason why Zechariah chose this symbolical name 
for the Medo-Persian monarchy, so much is certain, that the 
choice of a figurative name was much more suitable in the case 
of the dominant empire of that time, than in that of any small 
country on the border of Damascus or Hamath. All the cities 
and lands enumerated after " the land of Hadrach," as losing 
their glory at the same time, belonged to the Medo-Persian 
monarchy. Of these the prophet simply refers to Damascus 
and Hamath in general terms ; and it is only in the case of 
the Phoenician and Philistian cities that he proceeds to a special 
description of their fall from their lofty eminence, because they 
stood nearest to the kingdom of Israel, and represented the 
might of the kingdom of the world, and its hostility to the 
kingdom of God, partly in the worldly development of their 
own might, and partly in their hostility to the covenant nation. 
The description is an individualizing one throughout, exempli 
fying general facts by particular cities. This is also evident 
from the announcement of salvation for Zion in vers. 8-10, 
from which we may see that the overthrow of the nations 
hostile to Israel stands in intimate connection with the estab 
lishment of the Messianic kingdom ; and it is also confirmed 
by the second half of our chapter, where the conquest of the 
imperial power by the people of God is set forth in the victories 
of Judah and Ephraim over the sons of Javan. That the 
several peoples and cities mentioned by name are simply intro 
duced as representatives of the imperial power, is evident from 


the distinction made in this verse between (the rest of) man 
kind and all the tribes of Israel. 

Ver. 2. " And Hamath also, which borders thereon; Tyre, 
and Sidon, because it is very ivise. Ver. 3. And Tyre built 
herself a stronghold, and heaped up silver like dust, and gold like 
dirt of the streets. Ver. 4. Behold, the Lord will cause it to be 
taken, and smite its might in the sea, and she will be consumed 
by fire" Chamdth is appended to Damascus by v e gam (and 
also). Tigbol-bdh is to be taken as a relative clause ; and 
bah refers to chamdth, and not to erets chadrdkh (the land of 
Hadrach). " Hamath also," i.e. ETrupdveia on the Orontes, 
the present Hamah (see at Gen. x. 18), which borders on 
Damascus, i^e. which has its territory touching the territory of 
Damascus, sc. will be a resting-place of the burden of Jehovah. 
The relative clause connects Hamath with Damascus, and sepa 
rates it from the names which follow. Damascus and Hamath 
represent Syria. Tyre and Sidon, the two capitals of Phoenicia, 
are connected again into a pair by the explanatory clause | " 1 ?3n ^ 
"1N. For although n*J?n * s m tne singular, it cannot be taken 
as referring to Sidon only, because Tyre is mentioned again in 
the very next verse as the subject, and the practical display of 
its wisdom is described. The singular n ??n cannot be taken 
distributively in this sense, that being wise applies in just the 
same manner to both the cities (Koehler) ; for the cases quoted 
by Gesenius ( 146, 4) are of a totally different kind, since 
there the subject is in the plural, and is construed with a sin 
gular verb ; but JH^ is subordinate to *i, " Tyre with Sidon," 
Sidon being regarded as an annex of Tyre, answering to the 
historical relation in which the two cities stood to one another, 
namely, that Tyre was indeed originally a colony of Sidon, 
but that it very soon overshadowed the mother city, and rose 
to be the capital of all Phoenicia (see the comm. on Isa. xxiii.), 
so that even in Isaiah and Ezekiel the prophecies concerning 
Sidon are attached to those concerning Tyre, and its fate ap 
pears interwoven with that of Tyre (cf. Isa. xxiii. 4, 12 ; Ezek. 
xxviii. 21 sqq.). Hence we find Tyre only spoken of here in 
vers. 3 and 4. This city showed its wisdom in the fact that it 
built itself a fortress, and heaped up silver and gold like dust 
and dirt of the streets. Zechariah has here in his mind the 
insular Tyre, which was built about three or four stadia from 

CHAP. IX. 5-7. 327 

the mainland, and thirty stadia to the north of Palce-tyrus, and 
which is called D*? TtyiJ in Isa. xxiii. 4, because, although very 
small in extent, it was surrounded by a wall a hundred and 
fifty feet high, and was so strong a fortification, that Shalma- 
neser besieged it for five years without success, and Nebuchad 
nezzar for thirteen years, and apparently was unable to conquer 
it (see Delitzsch on Isaiah, vol. i. p. 416). This fortification 
is called mdtsor. Here Tyre had heaped up immense treasures. 
Chdruts is shining gold (Ps. Ixviii. 14, etc.). But the wisdom 
through which Tyre had acquired such might and such riches 
(cf. Ezek. xxviii. 4, 5) would be of no help to it. For it was 
the wisdom of this world (1 Cor. i. 20), which ascribes to itself 
the glory due to God, and only nourishes the pride out of which 
it sprang. The Lord will take the city. Horlsh does not mean 
to drive from its possession namely, the population (Hitzig) 
for the next two clauses show that it is not the population of 
Tyre, but the city itself, which is thought of as the object ; ncr 
does it mean to "give as a possession" namely, their treasures 
(Calv., Hengst., etc.) but simply to take possession, to take, 
to conquer, as in Josh. viii. 7, xvii. 12, Num. xiv. 24 (Maurer, 
Koehler). And will smite in the sea ^D, not " her bul 
warks :" for ^n, when used of fortifications, neither denotes the 
city wall nor earthworks, but the moat, including the small 
outer wall (2 Sam. xx. 15) as distinguished from the true city 
wall (chomdh, Isa. xxvi. 1, Lain. ii. 8), and this does not apply 
to the insular Tyre ; moreover, ^n cannot be taken here in 
any other sense than in Ezek. xxviiL 4, 5, which Zechariah 
follows. There it denotes the might which Tyre had acquired 
through its wisdom, not merely warlike or military power 
(Koehler), but might consisting in its strong situation and 
artificial fortification, as well as in the wealth of its resources 
for defence. This will be smitten in the sea, because Tyre itself 
stood in the sea. And finally, the city will be destroyed by fire. 
Ver. 5. " Ashkelon shall see it, and fear ; Gaza, and tremble 
greatly ; and Ekron, for her hope has been put to shame ; and 
the king will perish out of Gaza, and Ashkelon will not diuell. 
Ver. 6. The bastard will dwell in Ashdod ; and I shall destroy 
the pride of the Philistines. Ver. 7. And I shall take away his 
blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his 
teeth; and he will also remain to our God, and will be as a 


tribe-prince in Judah, and Ekron like the Jelnsite." From the 
Phoenicians the threat turns against the Philistines. The fall 
of the mighty Tyre shall fill the Philistian cities with fear and 
trembling, because all hope of deliverance from the threatening 
destruction is thereby taken away (cf. Isa. xxiii. 5). fcp.n is 
jussive. The effect, which the fall of Tyre will produce upon 
the Philistian cities, is thus set forth as intended by God. The 
description is an individualizing one in this instance also. The 
several features in this effect are so distributed among the dif 
ferent cities, that what is said of each applies to all. They will 
not only tremble with fear, but will also lose their kingship, and be 
laid waste. Only four of the Philistian capitals are mentioned, 
Gath being passed over, as in Amos i. 6, 8, Zeph. ii. 4, and 
Jer. xxv. 20 ; and they occur in the same order as in Jeremiah, 
whose prophecy Zechariah had before his mind. To njjfl we 
must supply N"ifl from the parallel clause ; and to !^i?V not only 
son, but also KTrn. The reason for the fear is first mentioned 
in connection with EkroTi, namely, the fact that the hope is 
put to shame, ^ain is the hiphil of Bfa (Ewald, 122, e), in 
the ordinary sense of this hiphil, to be put to shame, E2O 
with seghol stands for ano (Ewald, 88, d, and 160, d\ the 
object of hope or confidence. Gaza loses its king. Melekh 
without the article is the king as such, not the particular king 
reigning at the time of the judgment ; and the meaning is, 
" Gaza will henceforth have no king," i.e. will utterly perish, 
answering to the assertion concerning Ashkelon : 3ET1 N? ? she 
will not dwell, i.e. will not come to dwell, a poetical expression 
for be inhabited (see at Joel iii. 20). The reference to a king 
of Gaza does not point to times before the captivity. The 
Babylonian and Persian emperors were accustomed to leave to 
the subjugated nations their princes or kings, if they would 
only submit as vassals to their superior control. They there 
fore bore the title of " kings of kings " (Ezek. xxvi. 7 ; cf. 
Herod, iii. 15; Stark, Gaza, pp. 229, 230; and Koehler, ad 
h. L). In Ashdod will mamzer dwell. This word, the etymo 
logy of which is obscure (see at Deut. xxiii. 3, the only other 
passage in which it occurs), denotes in any case one whose 
birth has some blemish connected with it ; so that he is not an 
equal by birth with the citizens of a city or the inhabitants of 
a land. Hengstenberg therefore renders it freely, though not 

CHAP. IX. 5-7. 329 

inappropriately, by Gesindel (rabble). The dwelling of the 
bastard in Ashdod is not at variance with the fact that Ash- 
kelon " does not dwell," notwithstanding the individualizing 
character of the description, according to which what is affirmed 
of one city also applies to the other. For the latter simply 
states that the city will lose its native citizens, and thus forfeit 
the character of a city. The dwelling of bastards or rabble in 
Ashdod expresses the deep degradation of Philistia, which is 
announced in literal terms in the second hemistich. The pride 
of the Philistines shall be rooted out, i.e. everything shall be 
taken from them on which as Philistines they based their pride, 
viz. their power, their fortified cities, and their nationality. 
" These words embrace the entire contents of the prophecy 
against the Philistines, affirming of the whole people what had 
previously been affirmed of the several cities" (Hengstenberg). 
A new and important feature is added to this in ver. 7. Their 
religious peculiarity namely, their idolatry shall also be 
taken from them, and their incorporation into the nation of 
God brought about through this judgment. The description in 
ver. 7 is founded upon a personification of the Philistian nation. 
The suffixes of the third pers. sing, and the pronoun awn in ver. 
la do not refer to the mamzer (Hitzig), but to pHishtlm (the 
Philistines), the nation being comprehended in the unity of a 
single person. This person appears as an idolater, who, when 
keeping a sacrificial feast, has the blood and flesh of the sacri 
ficial animals in his mouth and between his teeth. Ddmlm is 
not human blood, but the blood of sacrifices ; and sliiqqutslm, 
abominations, are not the idols, but the idolatrous sacrifices, 
and indeed their flesh. Taking away the food of the idolatrous 
sacrifices out of their mouth denotes not merely the interruption 
of the idolatrous sacrificial meals, but the abolition of idolatry 
generally. He also (the nation of the Philistines regarded as 
a person) will be left to our God. The gam refers not to the 
Phoenicians and Syrians mentioned before, of whose being left 
nothing was said in vers. 1-4, but to the idea of " Israel" implied 
in OTjNJp, our God. Just as in the case of Israel a " remnant " 
of true confessors of Jehovah is left when the judgment falls 
upon it, so also will a remnant of the Philistines be left for 
the God of Israel. The attitude of this remnant towards the 
people of God is shown in the clauses which follow. He will 


be like an allupli in Judah. This word, which is applied in 
the earlier books only to the tribe-princes of the Edomites and 
Horites (Gen. xxxvi. 15, 16; Ex. xv. 15; 1 Chron. L 51 sqq.), 
is transferred by Zechariah to the tribe-princes of Judah. It 
signifies literally not a phylarch, the head of an entire tribe 
(matteh) <uX^), but a chiliarch, the head of an elepli, one of 
the families into which the tribes were divided. The meaning 
" friend," which Kliefoth prefers (cf. Mic. vii. 5), is unsuitable 
here ; and the objection, that " all the individuals embraced in 
the collective Kin cannot receive the position of tribe-princes in 
Judah " (Kliefoth), does not apply, because Nin is not an ordi 
nary collective, but the remnant of the Philistines personified 
as a man. Such a remnant might very well assume the posi 
tion of a chiliarch of Judah. This statement is completed by 
the addition " and Ekron," i.e. the Ekronite " will be like the 
Jebusite." The Ekronite is mentioned for the purpose of in 
dividualizing in the place of all the Philistines. "Jebusite" 
is not an epithet applied to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, 
but stands for the former inhabitants of the citadel of Zion, 
who adopted the religion of Israel after the conquest of this 
citadel by David, and were incorporated into the nation of 
the Lord. This is evident from the example of the Jebusite 
Araunah, who lived in the midst of the covenant nation, 
according to 2 Sam. xxiv. 16 sqq., 1 Chron. xxi. 15 sqq., 
as a distinguished man of property, and not only sold his 
threshing-floor to king David as a site for the future temple, 
but also offered to present the oxen with which he had been 
ploughing, as well as the plough itself, for a burnt-offering. 
On the other hand, Koehler infers, from the conventional 
mode of expression employed by the subject when speaking to 
his king, " thy God," and the corresponding words of David, 
"my God" instead of our God, that Araunah stood in the 
attitude of a foreigner towards the God of Israel ; but he is 
wrong in doing so. And there is quite as little ground for the 
further inference drawn by this scholar from the fact that the 
servants of Solomon and the Nethinim are reckoned together 
in Ezra ii. 58 and Neh. vii. 60, in connection with the state 
ment that Solomon had levied bond-slaves for his buildings 
from the remnants of the Canaanitish population (1 Kings 
ix. 20), viz. that the Jebusites reappeared in the Nethinim of 

CHAP. IX. 5-7. 331 

the later historical books, and that the Nethinim " given by 
David and the princes" were chiefly Jebusites, according to 
which " Ekron s being like a Jebusite is equivalent to Ekron s 
not only meeting with reception into the national fellowship 
of Israel through circumcision, but being appointed, like the 
Jebusites, to service in the sanctuary of Jehovah." On the 
contrary, the thought is simply this : The Ekronites will be 
melted up with the people of God, like the Jebusites with the 
Judaeans. Kliefoth also observes quite correctly, that " there 
is no doubt that what is specially affirmed of the Philistians is 
also intended to apply to the land of Chadrach, to Damascus, 
etc., as indeed an absolute generalization follows expressly in 
ver. 10. . . . Just as in what precedes, the catastrophe intended 
for all these lands and nations is specially described in the case 
of Tyre alone ; so here conversion is specially predicted of the 
Philistines alone." 

If we inquire now into the historical allusion or fulfilment 
of this prophecy, it seems most natural to think of the divine 
judgment, which fell upon Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia 
through the march of Alexander the Great from Asia Minor 
to Egypt. After the battle at Issus in Cilicia, Alexander sent 
one division of his army under Parmenio to Damascus, to 
conquer this capital of Coele-Syria. On this expedition Hamath 
must also have been touched and taken. Alexander himself 
inarched from Cilicia direct to Phoenicia, where Sidon and the 
other Phoenician cities voluntarily surrendered to him ; and 
only Tyre offered so serious a resistance in its confidence in its 
own security, that it was not till after a seven months siege 
and very great exertions that he succeeded in taking this 
fortified city by storm. On his further march the fortified 
city of Gaza also offered a prolonged resistance, but it too was 
eventually taken by storm (cf. Arrian, ii. 15 sqq. ; Curtius, 
iv. 12, 13, and 2-4 ; and Stark, Gaza, p. 237 sqq.). On the 
basis of these facts, Hengstenberg observes (Christol. iii. p. 
369), as others have done before him, that " there can be no 
doubt that in vers. 1-8 we have before us a description of the 
expedition of Alexander as clear as it was possible for one to 
be given, making allowance for the difference between prophecy 
and history." But Koehler has already replied to this, that the 
prophecy in ver. 7 was not fulfilled by the deeds of Alexander, 


since neither the remnant of the Phoenicians nor the other 
heathen dwelling in the midst of Israel were converted to 
Jehovah through the calamities connected with Alexander s 
expedition ; and on this ground he merely regards the con 
quests of Alexander as the commencement of the fulfilment, 
which was then continued throughout the calamities caused by 
the wars of succession, the conflicts between the Egyptians, 
Syrians, and Romans, until it was completed by the fact that 
the heathen tribes within the boundaries of Israel gradually 
disappeared as separate tribes, and their remnants were received 
into the community of those who confessed Israel s God and 
His anointed. But we must go a step further, and say that 
the fulfilment has not yet reached its end, but is still going on, 
and will until the kingdom of Christ shall attain that complete 
victory over the heathen world which is foretold in vers. 8 sqq. 
Yers. 8-10. Whilst the heathen world falls under the 
judgment of destruction, and the remnant of the heathen are 
converted to the living God, the Lord will protect His house, 
and cause the King to appear in Jerusalem, who will spread 
out His kingdom of peace over all the earth. Ver. 8. " 1 pitch 
a tent for my house against military power, against those who go 
to and fro, and no oppressor will pass over them any more ; for 
now have I seen with my eyes. Ver. 9. Exult greatly, daughter 
Zion ; shout, daughter Jerusalem : behold, thy King will come to 
thee : just and endowed with salvation is He ; lowly and riding 
upon an ass, and that upon a foal, the she-ass s son. Ver. 10. 
And I cut off the chariots out of Ephraim, and the horses out of 
Jerusalem, and the war-bow will be cut off : and peace ivill lie 
speak to the nations ; and His dominion goes from sea to sea, and 
from the river to the ends of the earth." Chdndh, to encamp, to 
pitch a tent. ^ > ??, dat. commod. a for my house," for the good 
of my house. The house of Jehovah is not the temple, but 
Israel as the kingdom of God or church of the Lord, as in 
Hos. viii. 1, ix. 15, Jer. xii. 7, and even Num. xii. 7, from 
which we may see that this meaning is not founded upon the 
temple, but upon the national constitution given to Israel, i.e. 
upon the idea of the house as a family. In the verse before us 
we cannot think of the temple, for the simple reason that the 
temple was not a military road for armies on the march either 
while it was standing, or, as Koehler supposes, when it was 

CHAP. IX. 8-10. 333 

in ruins. nn^D stands, according to the Masora, for 
KJttrfD, not however in the sense of without an army, but " on 
account of (against) a hostile troop," protecting His house from 
them. But Bottcher, Koehler, and others, propose to follow 
the LXX. and read n?ar, military post, after 1 Sam. xiv. 12, 
which is the rendering given by C. B. Michaelis and Gesenius 
to naifp. But this does not apply to njn, for a post ( n ??P, that 
which is set up) stands up, and does not lie down, njsrp is 
more precisely defined by 3$B* "^Vp, as going through and 
returning, i.e. as an army marching to and fro (cf. ch. vii. 14). 
There will come upon them no more (DHvJJ, ad sensum, refer 
ring to Wa) noges, lit. a bailiff or taskmaster (Ex. iii. 7), then 
generally any oppressor of the nation. Such oppressors were 
Egypt, Asshur, Babel, and at the present time the imperial 
power of Persia. This promise is explained by the last clause : 
Now have I seen with mine eyes. The object is wanting, but 
it is implied in the context, viz. the oppression under which 
my nation sighs (cf. Ex. ii. 25, iii. 7). Attdh (now) refers to 
the ideal present of the prophecy, really to the time when God 
interposes with His help; and the perfect flW is prophetic. 
God grants help to His people, by causing her King to come 
to the daughter Zion. To show the magnitude of this salva 
tion, the Lord calls upon the daughter Zion, i.e. the personified 
population of Jerusalem as a representative of the nation of 
Israel, namely the believing members of the covenant nation, to 
rejoice. Through "=]??*?, thy King, the coming one is described 
as the King appointed for Zion, and promised to the covenant 
nation. That the Messiah is intended, whose coming is pre 
dicted by Isaiah (ix. 5, 6), Micah (v. 1 sqq.), and other pro 
phets, is admitted with very few exceptions by all the Jewish 
and Christian commentators. 1 *, not only to thee, but also 
for thy good. He is tsaddiq, righteous, i.e. not one who has 
right, or the good cause (Hitzig), nor merely one righteous in 
character, answering in all respects to the will of Jehovah 
(Koehler), but animated with righteousness, and maintaining 
in His government this first virtue of a ruler (cf. Isa. xi. 1-4 ; 
Jer. xxiii. 5, 6, xxxiii. 15, 16, etc.). For He is also JJBns, i.e. 
not <rc0&v, salvator, helper (LXX., Vulg., Luth.), since the 
niphal has not the active or transitive sense of the hiphil (JP^to), 
1 See the history of the exposition in Hengstenberg s Christology. 


nor merely the passive c-o>o//,ez/o9, salvatus, delivered from suf 
fering; but the word is used in a more general sense, endowed 
with JJB*, salvation, help from God, as in Deut. xxxiii. 29, Ps. 
xxxiii. 16, or furnished with the assistance of God requisite for 
carrying on His government. The next two predicates describe 
the character of His rule. S 3y does not mean gentle, Trpafa 
(LXX. and others) = 1JJ, but lowly, miserable, bowed down, 
full of suffering. The word denotes " the whole of the lowly, 
miserable, suffering condition, as it is elaborately depicted in 
Isa. liii." (Hengstenberg.) The next clause answers to this, 
" riding upon an ass, and indeed upon the foal of an ass." 
The 1 before "i*JJ ^V is epexegetical (1 Sam. xvii. 40), describing 
the ass as a young animal, not yet ridden, but still running be 
hind the she-asses. The youthfulness of the animal is brought 
out still more strongly by the expression added to "VV, viz. 
nfohx~|3j i.e. a foal, such as asses are accustomed to bear (flfohtf 
is the plural of the species, as in rti HK TS3, Judg. xiv. 5 ; 
D-W T Vp, Gen. xxxvii. 31, Lev. iv. 23). "Riding upon an 
ass" is supposed by most of the more modern commentators to 
be a figurative emblem of the peacefulness of the king, that 
He will establish a government of peace, the ass being regarded 
as an animal of peace in contrast with the horse, because on 
account of its smaller strength, agility, and speed, it is less 
adapted for riding in the midst of fighting and slaughter than 
a horse. But, in the first place, this leaves the heightening of 
the idea of the ass by the expression "the young ass s foal" 
quite unexplained. Is the unridden ass s foal an emblem of 
peace in a higher degree than the full-grown ass, that has 
already been ridden? 1 And secondly, it is indeed correct that 
the ass was only used in war as the exception, not the rule, and 
when there were no horses to be had (cf. Bochart, Hieroz. i. 
p. 158, ed. Ros.) ; and also correct that in the East it is of a 
nobler breed, and not so despised as it is with us ; but it is also a 

1 We may see how difficult it is to reconcile the emphasis laid upon the 
ass s foal with this explanation of the significance of the ass, from the 
attempts made by the supporters of it to bring them into harmony. The 
assertion made by Ebrard, that TJJ denotes an ass of noble breed, and 
ni3h&$~|3 signifies that it is one of the noblest breed, has been already 
proved by Koehler to be a fancy without foundation ; but his own attempt 
to deduce the following meaning of this riding upon a young ass from the 

CHAP. IX. 8-10. 335 

fact that in the East, and more especially among the Israelites, 
it was only in the earlier times, when they possessed no horses 
as yet, that distinguished persons rode upon asses (Judg. v. 10 r 
x. 4, xii. 14 ; 2 Sam. xvii. 23, xix. 27), whereas in the time of 
David the royal princes and kings kept mules for riding instead 
of asses (2 Sam. xiii. 29, xviii. 9 ; 1 Kings i. 33, xxxviii. 44) ; 
and from the time of Solomon downwards, when the breeding 
of horses was introduced, not another instance occurs of a royal 
person riding upon an ass, although asses and mules are still 
constantly used in the East for riding and as beasts of burden ; 
and lastly, that in both the ancient and modern East the ass 
stands much lower than the horse, whilst in Egypt and other 
places (Damascus for example), Christians and Jews were, and 
to some extent still are, only allowed to ride upon asses, and 
not upon horses, for the purpose of putting them below the 
Mohammedans (for the proofs, see Hengstenberg s Christology, 
iii. pp. 404-5). Consequently we must rest satisfied with this 
explanation, that in accordance with the predicate W the riding 
of the King of Zion upon the foal of an ass is an emblem, not 
of peace, but of lowliness, as the Talmudists themselves inter 
preted it. "For the ass is not a more peaceful animal than the 
horse, but a more vicious one" (Kliefoth). Ver. 10. Just as 
the coming of the King does not contain within itself a sign 
of earthly power and exaltation, so will His kingdom not be 
established by worldly power. The war-chariots and horses, 
in which the kingdoms of the world seek their strength, will be 
exterminated by Jehovah out of Ephraim and Jerusalem (cf. 
Mic. v. 9). And so also will the war-chariots, for which " the 
battle-bow " stands synecdochically. Ephraim denotes the 
former kingdom of the ten tribes, and Jerusalem is mentioned 
as the capital in the place of the kingdom of Judah. Under 
the Messiah will the two kingdoms that were formerly divided 
be united once more, and through the destruction of their 

precepts concerning the sacrifices, viz. that the future king is riding in the 
service of Israel, and therefore comes in consequence of a mission from 
Jehovah, can be proved to fail, from the fact that he is obliged to collect 
together the most heterogeneous precepts, of which those in Num. xix. 2, 
Deut. xxi. 3, and 1 Sam. vi. 7, that for certain expiatory purposes animals 
were to be selected that had never borne a yoke, have a much more specific 
meaning than that of simple use in the service of Jehovah. 


military power will their nature be also changed, the covenant 
nation be divested of its political and worldly character, and 
made into a spiritual nation or kingdom. The rule of this King 
will also extend far beyond the limits of the earthly Canaan. 
He will speak peace to the nations, i.e. will not command peace 
through His authoritative word (Hitzig, Koehler, etc.), but 
bring the contests among the nations to an end (Mic. iv. 3) ; 
for dibber shdlom does not mean to command peace, but it 
either simply denotes such a speaking as has peace for its sub 
ject, giving an assurance of peace and friendship, i.e. uttering 
words of peace (a meaning which is inapplicable here), or 
signifies to speak peace for the purpose of bringing disputes to 
an end (Esth. x. 3). But this is done not by authoritative 
commands, but by His gaining the nations over through the 
spiritual power of His word, or establishing His spiritual king 
dom in the midst of them. It is only as thus interpreted, that 
the statement concerning the extension of His kingdom har 
monizes with the rest. This statement rests upon Ps. Ixxii. 8, 
" from sea to sea," as in Amos viii. 12 and Mic. vii. 12, viz. 
from the sea to the other end of the world where sea begins 
again. " From the river : " i.e. from the Euphrates, which is 
intended here by nd/idr without the article, as in Mic. vii. 12 
and Isa. vii. 20, and is mentioned as the remotest eastern 
boundary of the land of Israel, according to Gen. xv. 18, Ex. 
xxiii. 31, as being the terminus a quo, to which the ends of the 
earth are opposed as the terminus ad quern. 

The leading thought in the promise (vers. 8-10) is there 
fore the following : When the catastrophe shall burst upon the 
Persian empire, Israel will enjoy the marvellous protection of 
its God, and the promised King will come for Zion, endowed 
with righteousness and salvation, but in outward humiliation ; 
and through the extermination of the materials of war out of 


Israel, as well as by the peaceful settlement of the contests of 
the nations, He will establish a kingdom of peace, which will 
extend over all the earth. On the fulfilment of this prophecy, 
we learn from the gospel history, that when Jesus took His 
last journey to Jerusalem, He so arranged His entrance into 
this city, that our prophecy (ver. 9), " Say ye to the daughter 
Zion, Behold, thy King cometh," etc., was fulfilled (cf. Matt. 
xxi. 2 sqq., Mark xi. 2 sqq., Luke xix. 30 sqq., and John xii 

CHAP. IX. 8-10. 337 

14 sqq.). The exact agreement between the arrangement 
made by Jesus on this occasion and our prophecy is especially 
evident from the account given by Matthew, according to 
which Jesus ordered not only the ass s foal (7rco\ov, ovdpiov), 
upon which He rode into Jerusalem, to be brought, as Mark, 
Luke, and John relate, but a she-ass and a foal with her 
(Matt. xxi. 2 and 7), "that it might be fulfilled which was 
spoken by the prophet" (ver. 4), although He could really only 
ride upon one animal. The she-ass was to follow, to set forth 
Zechariah s figurative description with greater completeness. 
For we see, from the corresponding accounts of the other three 
evangelists, that Jesus only mounted the ass s foal. John, 
even when quoting our prophecy, only mentions the " sitting 
on an ass s colt" (ver. 15), and then adds in ver. 16, that the 
allusion in this act of Jesus to the Old Testament prophecy 
was only understood by the disciples after Jesus was glorified. 
By this mode of entering Jerusalem before His death, Jesus 
intended to exhibit Himself to the people as the King foretold 
by the prophets, who, coming in lowliness, would establish His 
kingdom through suffering and dying, so as to neutralize the 
carnal expectations of the people as to the worldly character 
of the Messianic kingdom. The fulfilment, however, which 
Jesus thereby gave to our prophecy is not to be sought for in 
this external agreement between His act and the words of the 
prophet. The act of Jesus was in itself simply an embodiment 
of the thought lying at the basis of the prophecy, namely, 
that the kingdom of the Messiah would unfold itself, through 
lowliness and suffering, to might and glory ; that Jesus, as the 
promised Messiah, would not conquer the world by the force 
of arms, and so raise His people to political supremacy, but 
that He would found His kingdom by suffering and dying, a 
kingdom which, though not of this world, would nevertheless 
overcome the world. The figurative character of the prophetic 
picture, according to which " riding upon an ass" merely 
serves to individualize V?> and set forth the lowliness of the 
true King of Zion under appropriate imagery, has been already 
pointed out by Calvin 1 and Vitringa ; and the latter has also 

1 Calvin says : " I have no doubt that the prophet added this clause 
(viz. riding upon an ass, etc.) as an appendix to the word tjy, as much 
as to say : The King of whom I speak will not be illustrious for His magni- 



correctly observed, that the prophecy would have been fulfilled 
in Christ, even if He had not made His entry into Jerusalem 
in this manner. 1 Hengstenberg and Koehler adopt the same 
view. Nevertheless, this entry of Christ into Jerusalem forms 
the commencement of the fulfilment of our prophecy, and that 
not merely inasmuch as Jesus thereby declared Himself to be 
the promised Messiah and King of Zion, and set forth in a 
living symbol the true nature of His person and of His king 
dom in contrast with the false notions of His friends and foes, 
but still more in this respect, that the entry into Jerusalem 
formed the commencement of the establishment of His king 
dom, since it brought to maturity the resolution on the part 
of the Jewish rulers to put Him to death ; and His death was 
necessary to reconcile the sinful world to God, and restore the 
foundation of peace upon which His kingdom was to be built. 
With the spread of His kingdom over the earth, treated of in 
ver. 10, the fulfilment continues till the annihilation of all the 
ungodly powers, after which all war will cease. But this end 
can only be reached through severe conflicts and victory. This 
is the subject of the following section. 

AND VICTORY OVER THE HEATHEN. Ver. 11. " Thou also, 
for the sake of thy covenant blood, 1 release thy captives out of 
the pit wherein there is no water. Ver. 12. Return to the fortress, 
ye prisoners of hope. Even to-day 1 proclaim : Double will I 
repay to thee." This is addressed to the daughter Zion, i.e. 
to all Israel, consisting of Ephraim and Judah. We not 
only learn this from the context, since both of them are spoken 

ficent and splendid state, as earthly princes generally are." He then gives 
this explanation of the riding upon the ass : "He will not prevail by His 
great exaltation ; nor will He be conspicuous for arms, riches, splendour, 
the number of his soldiers, or even the royal insignia, which attract the 
eyes of the people." 

1 Vitringa says, on Isa. liii. 4 : "In that passage of Zechariah, indeed, 
according to its spiritual and mystical sense, his meaning would have been 
evident without this accident of the entry of Christ into Jerusalem ; but 
when God would put all the emphasis of which the words are capable 
upon the predictions uttered by the prophets, His own providence took 
care that this accident should also occur, so that no part of the machinery 
might be wanting here." 

CHAP. IX. 11, 12. 339 

of before (ver. 10) and afterwards (ver. 13) ; but it is also 
obvious from the expression b e dam b e rlthekh, since the covenant 
blood belonged to all Israel of the twelve tribes (Ex. xxiv. 8). 
n&TD3 stands at the head absolutely, on account of the emphasis 
lying upon the fiN. But as the following clause, instead of 
being directly attached to fitf, is so constructed that the pro 
noun fiK is continued with suffixes, the question arises, to 
what the D3 is to be taken as referring, or which is the anti 
thesis indicated by &3. The answer may easily be obtained if 
we only make it clear to ourselves which of the two words, 
with the second pers. suffix, forms the object of the assertion 
made in the entire clause. This is not 7jn i n3"D"i3 J but "^TP^ * 
thou also (=thee) namely, thy prisoners I release. But the 
emphasis intended by the position in which fiN~&3 is placed 
does not rest upon the prisoners of Israel in contrast with 
any other prisoners, but in contrast with the Israel in Jeru 
salem, the daughter Zion, to which the King is coming. Now, 
although D3 actually belongs to ^VP^ ^ refers primarily to 
the fiN to which it is attached, and this only receives its more 
precise definition afterwards in "niTP^.- And the allusion in 
tended by 03 is simply somewhat obscured by the fact, that 
before the statement to which it gives emphasis ^rV")3~D*i3 is 
inserted, in order from the very first to give a firm pledge 
of the promise to the people, by declaring the motive which 
induced God to make this fresh manifestation of grace to 
Israel. This motive also acted as a further reason for plac 
ing the pronoun fitf at the head absolutely, and shows that 
n# is to be taken as an address, as for example in Gen. 
xlix. 8. Sjrp iSTD ia : literally, being in thy covenant blood, 
because sprinkled therewith, the process by which Israel was 
expiated and received into covenant with God (Ex. xxiv. 8). 
" The covenant blood, which still separates the church and the 
world from one another, was therefore a certain pledge to the 
covenant nation of deliverance out of all trouble, so long, that 
is to say, as it did not render the promise nugatory by wickedly 
violating the conditions imposed by God" (Hengstenberg). 
The new matter introduced by fiN~D3 in ver. 11 is therefore 
the following : The pardon of Israel will not merely consist 
in the fact that Jehovah will send the promised King to the 
daughter Zion ; but He will also redeem such members of His 


nation as shall be still in captivity out of their affliction. The 
perfect shillachtl is prophetic. Delivering them out of a pit 
without water is a figure denoting their liberation out of the 
bondage of exile. This is represented with an evident allusion 
to the history of Joseph in Gen. xxxvii. 22, as lying in a pit 
wherein there is no water, such as were used as prisons (cf. 
Jer. xxxviii. 6). Out of such a pit the captive could not 
escape, and would inevitably perish if he were not drawn out. 
The opposite of the pit is P" 1 ^, a place cut off, i.e. fortified, 
not the steep height, although fortified towns were generally 
built upon heights. The prisoners are to return where they 
will be secured against their enemies ; compare Ps. xl. 3, where 
the rock is opposed to the miry pit, as being a place upon 
which it is possible to stand firmly. " Prisoners of hope" is 
an epithet applied to the Israelites, because they possess in 
their covenant blood a hope of redemption. Di s rrD3, also to-day, 
i.e. even to-day or still to-day, "notwithstanding all threat 
ening circumstances" (Ewald, Hengstenberg). I repay thee 
double, i.e., according to Isa. Ixi. 7, a double measure of glory 
in the place of the sufferings. 

This thought is supported in vers. 13 sqq. by a picture of 
the glory intended for Israel. Ver. 13. " For 1 stretch Judali 
as my bow, Jill it with Ephraim, and stir up thy sons, Zion, 
against thy sons, Javan, and make thee like the sword of a 
hero. Ver. 14. And Jehovah will appear above them, and like 
the lightning will His arrow go forth ; and the Lord Jehovah 
will blow the trumpets, and will pass along in storms of the south. 
Ver. 15. Jehovah of hosts will shelter above them, and they will 
eat and tread down sling-stones, and will drink, make a noise, as 
if with wine, and become fall, like the sacrificial bowls, like the 
corners of the altar? The double recompense which the Lord 
will make to His people, will consist in the fact that He not 
only liberates them out of captivity and bondage, and makes 
them into an independent nation, but that He helps them to 
victory over the power of the world, so that they will tread it 
down, i.e. completely subdue it. The first thought is not ex 
plained more fully, because it is contained implicite in the 
promise of return to a strong place ; the " double" only is 
more distinctly defined, namely, the victory over Javan. The 
expression, " I stretch," etc., implies that the Lord will subdue 

CHAP. IX. 13-15. 341 

the enemies by Judah and Ephraim, and therefore Israel will 
carry on this conflict in the power of its God. The figurative 
description is a bold one. Judah is the extended bow ; Ephraim 
the arrow which God shoots at the foe. fityg is indeed separated 
from TW by the accents ; but the LXX., Targ., Yulg., and 
others, have taken it more correctly, as in apposition to rmT ; 
because with the many meanings that Tpjn possesses, the ex 
pression HTirv 7]Tj needs a more precise definition; whereas 
there is no difficulty in supplying in thought the noun qesheth, 
which has been mentioned only just before, to the verb *J]Op 
(I fill). ""O^?*? is to be understood as signifying the laying of 
the arrow upon the bow, and not to be explained from 2 Kings 
ix. 24, " to fill the hand with the bow." A bow is filled when 
it is supplied with the arrow for shooting. We must bear in 
mind that the matter is divided rhetorically between the parallel 
members ; and the thought is this : Judah and Ephraim are 
bow and arrow in the hand of Jehovah. Wlfy I stir up, not I 
swing thy children as a lance (Hitzig and Koehler) ; for if "Hty 
had this meaning, JTon could not be omitted. The sons of Zion 
are Judah and Ephraim, the undivided Israel, not the Zionites 
living as slaves in Javan (Hitzig). The sons of Javan are the 
Greeks, as the world-power, the Grseco-Macedonian monarchy 
(cf. Dan. viii. 21), against which the Lord will make His people 
into a hero s sword. This took place in weak beginnings, even 
in the wars between the Maccabees and the Seleucidae, to 
which, according to Jerome, the Jews understood our prophecy 
to refer ; but it must not be restricted to this, as the further 
description in vers. 14, 15 points to the complete subjugation of 
the imperial power. Jehovah appears above them, i.e. coming 
from heaven as a defence, to fight for them (the sons of Zion), 
as a mighty man of war (Ps. xxiv. 8). His arrow goes out 
like the lightning (3 the so-called 3 veritatis ; for the fact de 
scribed, compare Hab. iii. 11^. Marching at the head of His 
people, He gives the signal of battle with a trumpet-blast, and 
attacks the enemy with terribly devastating violence. The 
description rests upon the poetical descriptions of the coming 
of the Lord to judgment, the colours of which are borrowed 
from the phenomena of a storm (cf. Ps. xviii. and Hab. iii. 8 
sqq.). Storms of the south are the most violent storms, as they 
come from the Arabian desert, which bounds Canaan on the 


south (Isa. xxi. 1 ; cf. Hos. xiii. 15). But Jehovah not only 
fights for His people ; He is also a shield to them in battle, 
covering them against the weapons of the foe. This is affirmed 
in Envy. fUj in ver. 15. Hence they are able to destroy their 
enemies, and, like devouring lions, to eat their flesh and drink 
tb dir blood. That this figure lies at the foundation cf the hor 
rible picture of vMCJ, is evident from Num. xxiii. 24, which was 
the passage that Zechariah had in his mind : " Behold a people 
like the lioness ; it rises up, and like the lion does it lift itself 
up : it lies not down till it devour the prey, and drink the blood 
of the slain." Hence the object to v3N is not the possessions 
of the heathen, but their flesh. J&jJ "03S ^33 does not mean, 
they tread down (subdue) the enemy with sling-stones (LXX., 
Vulg., Grot.) ; for P \HK cannot, when considered grammati 
cally, be taken in an instrumental sense, and is rather an accus. 
obj.; but they tread down sling-stones. The sling-stones might 
be used per synecdochen to signify darts, which the enemy hurls 
at them, and which they tread down as perfectly harmless 
(Kliefoth). But the comparison of the Israelites to the stones 
of a crown, in ver. 16, leads rather to the conclusion that the 
sling-stones are to be taken as a figure denoting the enemy, who 
are trampled under the feet like stones (Hitzig, Hengstenberg). 
Only we cannot speak of eating sling-stones, as Koehler would 
interpret the words, overlooking ^3.3, and appealing to the 
parallel member : they will drink, reel as if from wine, which 
shows, in his opinion, that it is the sling-stones that are to be 
eaten. But this shows, on the contrary, that just as there no 
mention is made of what is to be drunk, so here what is to be 
eaten is not stated. It is true that wine and sacrificial blood 
point to the blood of the enemy ; but wine and blood are 
drinkable, whereas sling-stones are not edible. The description 
of the enemy as sling-stones is to be explained from the figure 
in 1 Sam. xxv. 29, to hurl away the soul of the enemy. They 
drunk (sc. the blood of the enemy) even to intoxication, making 
a noise, as if intoxicated with wine ( fo3, an abbreviated 
comparison; cf. Ewald, 221, a, and 282, e), and even to 
overflowing, so that they become full, like the sacrificial bowls 
in which the blood of the sacrificial animals was caught, and 
like the corners of the altar, which were sprinkled with the 
sacrificial blood. J"i s )J are corners, not the horns of the altar. 

CHAP. IX. 16, 17. 343 

The sacrificial blood was not sprinkled upon these ; they were 
simply smeared with a little blood applied with the finger, in 
the case of the expiatory sacrifices. According to the law 
(Lev. i. 5, 11, iii. 2, etc.), the blood was to be swung against 
the altar. This was done, according to rabbinical tradition 
(Mishn. Seb. v. 4 sqq., and Rashi on Lev. i. 5), in such a man 
ner, that with two sprinklings all the four sides of the altar 
were wetted, a result which could only be ensured by swinging 
the bowls filled with blood, so as to strike the corners of the 

Through this victory over the world-power Israel will attain 
to glory. Ver. 16. " And Jehovah their God will endow them 
with salvation in that day, like a flock His people; for stones of a 
crown are they, sparkling in His land. Ver. 17. For how great 
is its goodness, and how great its beauty ! Corn will make youths 
to sprout, and new wine maidens." Win does not mean to help 
or deliver here ; for this would affirm much too little, after what 
has gone before. When Israel has trodden down its foes, it no 
longer needs deliverance. It denotes the granting of positive 
salvation, which the explanatory clause that follows also requires. 
The motive for this is indicated in the clause, " like a flock His 
people." Because Israel is His (Jehovah s) people, the Lord 
will tend it as a shepherd tends his flock. The blessings which 
Jehovah bestows upon His people are described by David in 
Ps. xxiii. The Lord will do this also, because they (the Israel 
ites) are crown-stones, namely as the chosen people, which 
Jehovah will make a praise and glory for all nations (Zeph. iii. 
19, 20). To the predicate "1W "03K the subject ntsn may easily 
be supplied from the context, as for example in Ta in ver. 12. 
To this subject W rrioptonp attaches itself. This verb is con 
nected with nes, a banner, in Ps. Ix. 6, the only other passage 
in which it occurs ; but here it is used in the sense of ndtsats, 
to glitter or sparkle. The meaning, to lift up, which is given 
by the lexicons, has no foundation, and is quite unsuitable 
here. For crown-stones do not lift themselves up, but sparkle : 
and the figure of precious stones, which sparkle upon the land, 
denotes the highest possible glory to which Israel can attain. 
The suffix attached to to&IK refers to Jehovah } only we must 
not identify the land of Jehovah with Palestine. The applica 
tion of this, honourable epithet to Israel is justified in ver. 17, 


by an allusion to the excellence and beauty to which it will 
attain. The suffixes in too and 1 BJ cannot refer to Jehovah^ 
as Ewald and Hengstenberg suppose, but refer to tey, the 
people of Jehovah. * is quite irreconcilable with an allusion 
to Jehovah, since this word only occurs in connection with men 
and the Messianic King (Ps. xlv. 3 ; Isa. xxxiii. 17) ; and even 
if it were used of Jehovah, it would still be unsuitable here. 
For though the vigorous prosperity of the nation is indeed a 
proof of the goodness of God, it is not a proof of the beauty of 
God. Mdh is an exclamation of amazement: " how great !" 
(Ewald, 330, a). 31D, when affirmed of the nation, is not 
moral goodness, but a good appearance, and is synonymous with 
"{., beauty, as in Hos. x. 11. This prosperity proceeds from 
the blessings of grace, which the Lord causes to flow down 
to His people. Corn and new wine are mentioned as such 
blessings, for the purpose of individualizing, as indeed they 
frequently are (e.g. Deut. xxxiii. 28 ; Ps. Ixxii. 16), and are 
distributed rhetorically between the youths and the maidens. 

GOD. This chapter contains no new promise, but simply a 
further expansion of the previous section, the condition on 
which salvation is to be obtained being mentioned in the intro 
duction (vers. 1 and 2) ; whilst subsequently, more especially 
from ver. 6 onwards, the participation of Ephraim in the sal 
vation in prospect is more elaborately treated of. The question 
in dispute among the commentators, viz. whether vers. 1 and 2 
are to be connected with the previous chapter, so as to form the 
conclusion, or whether they form the commencement of a new 
address, or new turn in the address, is to be answered thus : The 
prayer for rain (ver. 1) is indeed occasioned by the concluding 
thought in ch. ix. 17, but it is not to be connected with the 
preceding chapter as though it were an integral part of it, inas 
much as the second hemistich of ver. 2 can only be separated 
with violence from ver. 3. The close connection between ver. 
2b and ver. 3 shows that ver. 1 commences a new train of 
thought, for which preparation is made, however, by ch. ix. 17. 

Ver. 1. u Ask ye of Jehovah rain in the time of the latter 
rain ; Jehovah createth lightnings, and showers of rain will He 
give them, to every one vegetation in the field. Ver. 2. For the 

CHAP. X. 1, 2. 345 

terapJiim have spoken vanity, and the soothsayers have seen a lie, 
and speak dreams of deceit ; they comfort in vain : for this they 
have wandered like a flock, they are oppressed because there is no 
shepherd" The summons to prayer is not a mere turn of the 
address expressing the readiness of God to give (Hengstenberg), 
but is seriously meant, as the reason assigned in ver. 2 clearly 
shows. The church of the Lord is to ask of God the blessings 
which it needs for its prosperity, and not to put its trust in 
idols, as rebellious Israel has done (Hos. ii. 7). The prayer for 
rain, on which the successful cultivation of the fruits of the 
ground depends, simply serves to individualize the prayer for 
the bestowal of the blessings of God, in order to sustain both 
temporal and spiritual life ; just as in ch. ix. 17 the fruitful- 
ness of the land and the flourishing of the nation are simply 
a concrete expression, for the whole complex of the salvation 
which the Lord will grant to His people (Kliefoth). This 
view, which answers to the rhetorical character of the exhorta 
tion, is very different from allegory. The time of the latter 
rain is mentioned, because this was indispensable to the ripening 
of the corn, whereas elsewhere the early and latter rain are 
connected together (e.g. Joel ii. 23 ; Deut. xi. 13-15). The 
lightnings are introduced as the harbingers of rain (cf. Jer. 
x. 13 ; Ps. cxxxv. 7). M e tar geshem, rain of the rain-pouring, 
i.e. copious rain (compare Job xxxvii. 6, where the words are 
transposed). With Idhem (to them) the address passes into the 
third person : to them, i.e. to every one who asks. 2by is not 
to be restricted to grass or herb as the food of cattle, as in 
Deut. xi. 15, where it is mentioned in connection with the corn 
and the fruits of the field; but it includes these, as in Gen. 
i. 29 and Ps. civ. 14, where it is distinguished from chdtslr. 
The exhortation to pray to Jehovah for the blessing needed to 
ensure prosperity, is supported in ver. 2 by an allusion to the 
worthlessness of the trust in idols, and to the misery which 
idolatry with its consequences, viz. soothsaying and false 
prophecy, have brought upon the nation. The t e rdphlm were 
house-deities and oracular deities, which were worshipped as the 
givers and protectors of the blessings of earthly prosperity (see 
at Gen. xxxi. 19). Along with these D^JOp^p are mentioned, i.e. 
the soothsayers, who plunged the nation into misery through 
their vain and deceitful prophesyings. riiE?n is not the subject 


of the sentence, for in that case it would have the article like 
D^pipn ; but it is the object, and D ppipn is also the subject to 
*">3T. and pon? j. " Therefore," i.e. because Israel had trusted in 
teraphim and soothsayers, it would have to wander into exile. 
JJpj, to break up, applied to the pulling up of the pegs, to take 
down the tent, involves the idea of wandering, and in this 
connection, of wandering into exile. Hence the perfect WpJ, 
to which the imperfect ^J is suitably appended, because their 
being oppressed, i.e. the oppression which Israel suffered from 
the heathen, still continued. The words apply of course to all 
Israel (Ephraim and Judah) ; compare ch. ix. 13 with ch. x. 
4, 6. Israel is bowed down because it has no shepherd, i.e. 
no king, who guards and provides for his people (cf. Num. 
xxvii. 17 ; Jer. xxiii. 4), having lost the Davidic monarchy 
when the kingdom was overthrown. 

To this there is appended in vers. 3 sqq. the promise that 
Jehovah will take possession of His flock, and redeem it out 
of the oppression of the evil shepherds. Ver. 3. " My wrath 
is kindled upon the shepherds, and the goats shall I punish; for 
Jehovah of hosts visits His flock, the house of Judah , and makes 
it like His state-horse in the war. Ver. 4. From Him will be 
corner-stone, from Him the nail, from Him the war-bow ; from 
Him will every ruler go forth at once." When Israel lost its own 
shepherds, it came under the tyranny of bad shepherds. These 
were the heathen governors and tyrants. Against these the 
wrath of Jehovah is kindled, and He will punish them. There 
is no material difference between E\p, shepherds, and DHWJJ, 
leading goats. Attudlm also signifies rulers, as in Isa. xiv. 9. 
The reason assigned why the evil shepherds are to be punished, 
is that Jehovah visits His flock. The perfect pdqad is used 
prophetically of what God has resolved to do, and will actually 
carry out ; and pdqad c. ace. pers. means to visit, i.e. to assume 
the care of, as distinguished from pdqad with alpers., to visit in 
the sense of to punish (see at Zeph. ii. 7). The house of Judah 
only is mentioned in ver. 3, not in distinction from Ephraim, 
however (cf . ver. 6), but as the stem and kernel of the covenant 
nation, with which Ephraim is to be united once more. The 
care of God for Judah will not be limited to its liberation from 
the oppression of the bad shepherds ; but Jehovah will also 
make Judah into a victorious people. This is the meaning of 

CHAP. X. 3, 4. 347 

the figure "like a state-horse," i.e. a splendid and richly orna 
mented war-horse, such as a king is accustomed to ride. This 
figure is not more striking than the description of Judah and 
Ephraim as a bow and arrow (ch. ix. 13). This equipment of 
Judah as a warlike power overcoming its foes is described in 
ver. 4, namely in 4a, in figures taken from the firmness and 
furnishing of a house with everything requisite, and in 46, 
etc., in literal words. The verb N} of the fourth clause cannot 
be taken as the verb belonging to the I^O in the first three 
clauses, because KJ! is neither applicable to pinndh nor to 
y diked. We have therefore to supply PPrP. From (out of) 
Him will be pinndh) corner, here corner-stone, as in Isa. xxviii. 
16, upon which the whole building stands firmly, and will be 
built securely, a suitable figure for the firm, stately founda 
tion which Judah is to receive. To this is added y tithed, the 
plug. This figure is to be explained from the arrangement 
of eastern houses, in which the inner walls are provided with 
a row of large nails or plugs for hanging the house utensils 
upon. The plug, therefore, is a suitable figure for the supports 
or upholders of the whole political constitution, and even in 
Isa. xxii. 23 was transferred to persons. The war-bow stands 
synecdochically for weapons of war and the military power. 
It is a disputed point, however, whether the suffix in mimmennu 
(out of him) refers to Judah or Jehovah. But the opinion of 
Hitzig and others, that it refers to Jehovah, is overthrown by 
the expression Wfclp fcttP in the last clause. For even if- we 
could say, Judah will receive its firm foundation, its internal 
fortification, and its military strength from Jehovah, the expres 
sion, "Every military commander will go out or come forth out 
of Jehovah," is unheard-of and unscriptural. It is not affirmed 
in the Old Testament even of the Messiah that He goes forth 
out of God, although His " goings forth " are from eternity 
(Mic. v. 1), and He Himself is called El gibbor (Isa. ix. 5). 
Still less can this be affirmed of every ruler (kol-noges) of 
Judah. In this clause, therefore, mimmennu must refer to 
Judah, and consequently it must be taken in the same way 
in the first three clauses. On }O fctt& see Mic. v. 1. Noges, 
an oppressor or taskmaster, is not applied to a leader or ruler 
in a good sense even here, any more than in Isa. iii. 12 
and Ix. 17 (see the comm. on these passages). The fact that 


negus in Etliiopic is the name given to the king (Koeliler), 
proves nothing in relation to Hebrew usage. The word has 
the subordinate idea of oppressor, or despotic ruler, in this 
instance also ; but the idea of harshness refers not to the 
covenant nation, but to its enemies (Hengstenberg), and the 
words are used in antithesis to ch. ix. 8. Whereas there the 
promise is given to the nation of Israel that it will not fall 
under the power of the noges any more, it is here assured that 
it is to attain to the position of a noges in relation to its foes 
(Kliefoth). tWfavS is strengthened by "HIT; every oppressor 
together, which Judah will require in opposition to its foes. 

Thus equipped for battle, Judah will annihilate its foes. 
Ver. 5. " And they will be like heroes^ treading street-mire in the 
battle : and will fight, for Jehovah is with them, and the riders 
upon horses are put to shame. Ver. 6. And I shall strengthen 
the house of Judah, and grant salvation to the house of Joseph, 
and shall make them dwell; for I have had compassion upon 
them : and they will be as if I had not rejected them : for I am 
Jehovah their God, and will hear them. Ver. 7. And Ephraim 
will be like a hero, and their heart will rejoice as if with wine : 
and their children will see it, and rejoice ; their heart shall rejoice 
in Jehovah." In ver. 5, boslm is a more precise definition of 
k e gibborlm, and the house of Judah (ver. 3) is the subject of 
the sentence. They will be like heroes, namely, treading upon 
mire. Boslm is the kal participle used in an intransitive sense, 
since the form with o only occurs in verbs with an intransitive 
meaning, like bosh, lot, qom ; and bus in kal is construed in 
every other case with the accusative of the object : treading 
upon mire = treading or treading down mire. Consequently 
the object which they tread down or trample in pieces is ex 
pressed by nton t^ps ; and thus the arbitrary completion of 
the sentence by " everything that opposes them " (C. B. Mich, 
and Koehler) is set aside as untenable. Now, as " treading 
upon mire" cannot possibly express merely the firm tread of a 
courageous man (Hitzig), we must take the dirt of the streets 
as a figurative expression for the enemy, and the phrase 
" treading upon street-mire " as a bold figure denoting the 
trampling down of the enemy in the mire of the streets (Mic. 
vii. 10 ; 2 Sam. xxii. 43), analogous to their " treading down 
sling-stones," ch. ix. 15. For such heroic conflict will they be 

CHAP. X. 5-7. 349 

fitted by the lielp of Jehovah, that the enemy will be put to 
shame before them. The riders of the horses are mentioned 
for the purpose of individualizing the enemy, because the prin 
cipal strength of the Asiatic rulers consisted in cavalry (see 
Dan. xi. 40). ts^3in intransitive, as in ch. ix. 5. This strength 
for a victorious conflict will not be confined to Judah, but 
Ephraim will also share it. The words, " and the house of 
Ephraim will I endow with salvation," have been taken by 
Koehler as signifying " that Jehovah will deliver the house of 
Ephraim by granting the victory to the house of Judah in con 
flict with its own foes and those of Ephraim also;" but there is no 
ground for this. We may see from ver. 7, according to which 
Ephraim will also fight as a hero, as Judah will according to 
ver. 5, that JPK^n does not mean merely to help or deliver, but 
to grant salvation, as in ch. ix. 16. The circumstance, however, 
" that in the course of the chapter, at any rate from ver. 7 
onwards, it is only Ephraim whose deliverance and restora 
tion are spoken of," proves nothing more than that Ephraim 
will receive the same salvation as Judah, but not that it will 
be delivered by the house of Judah. The abnormal form 
D*nti&fo is regarded by many, who follow Kimchi and Aben 
Ezra, as a forma composite* from D^rofc ln and *J$3HPn : " I 
make them dwell, and bring them back." But this is pre 
cluded by the fact that the bringing back would necessarily 
precede the making to dwell, to say nothing of the circum 
stance that there is no analogy whatever for such a composi 
tion (cf. Jer. xxxii. 37). The form is rather to be explained 
from a confusion of the verbs l"y and a, and is the hiphil 
of 3^J for D^JjOEJin (LXX., Maurer, Hengstenberg ; coinp. 
Olshausen, Grammat. p. 559), and not a hiphil of 11$, in 
which a transition has taken place into the hiphil form of the 
verbs V Q (Ewald, 196, 6, Not. 1; Targ., Vulg., Hitzig, 
and Koehler). For " bringing back " affirms too little here. 
L^nn^n^ I make them dwell," corresponds rather to " they 
shall be as if they had not been cast off," without needing any 
further definition, since not only do we meet with 1B/J without 
anything else, in the sense of peaceful, happy dwelling (e.g. 
Mic. v. 3), but here also the manner of dwelling is indicated 
in the appended clause D s rirwp6 "1B/K3, " as before they were 
cast off" (cf. Ezek. xxxvi. 11). DpjjN is also not to be taken as 


referring to the answering of the prayers, which Ephraim 
addressed to Jehovah out of its distress, out of its imprison 
ment (Koehler), but is to be taken in a much more general 
sense, as in ch. xiii. 9, Isa. Iviii. 9, and Hos. ii. 23. Ephraim, 
like Judah, will also become a hero, and rejoice as if with wine, 
i.e. fight joyfully like a hero strengthened with wine (cf. Ps. 
Ixxviii. 65, 66). This rejoicing in conflict the sons will see, 
and exult in consequence ; so that it will be a lasting joy. 

In order to remove all doubt as to the realization of this 
promise, the deliverance of Ephraim is described still more 
minutely in vers. 8-12. Ver. 8. " / will hiss to them, and 
gather them ; for I have redeemed them : and they will multiply 
as they have multiplied. Ver. 9. And I will sow them among 
the nations : and in the far-off lands will they remember me ; and 
will live with their sons, and return. Ver. 10. And I will bring 
them back out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of 
Asshur, and bring them into the land of Gilead and of Lebanon; 
and room will not be found for them" That these verses do 
not treat of a fresh (second) dispersion of Ephraim, or repre 
sent the carrying away as still in the future (Hitzig), is evident 
from the words themselves, when correctly interpreted. Not 
only are the enticing and gathering together (ver. 8) mentioned 
before the sowing or dispersing (ver. 9), but they are both ex 
pressed by similar verbal forms ( n i??^ and Djnt*?) ; and the 
misinterpretation is thereby precluded, that events occurring 
at different times are referred to. We must also observe the 
voluntative form niJI^ K, " I will (not I shall) hiss to them, i.e. 
entice them" (shdraq being used for alluring, as in Isa. v. 26 
and vii. 18), as well as the absence of a copula. They both 
show that the intention here is simply to explain with greater 
clearness what is announced in vers. 6, 7. The perfect DWia 
is prophetic, like D^Jjiorn in ver. 6. The further promise, " they 
will multiply," etc., cannot be taken as referring either merely 
to the multiplication of Israel in exile (Hengst., Koehler, 
etc.), or merely to the future multiplication after the gathering 
together. According to the position in which the words stand 
between &V2p>S. and Wnt, they must embrace both the mul 
tiplication during the dispersion, and the multiplication after 
the gathering together. The perfect tt 13 points to the 
increase which Israel experienced in the olden time under the 

CHAP. X. 8-10. 351 

oppression of Egypt (Ex. i. 7, 12). This increase, which is 
also promised in Ezek. xxxvi. 10, 11, is effected by God s sow 
ing them broadcast among the nations. JHT does not mean to 
scatter, but to sow, to sow broadcast (see at Hos. ii. 25). Con 
sequently the reference cannot be to a dispersion of Israel 
inflicted as a punishment. The sowing denotes the multipli 
cation (cf. Jer. xxxi. 27), and is not to be interpreted, as 
Neumann and Kliefoth suppose, as signifying that the 
Ephrairnites are to be scattered as seed-corn among the 
heathen, to spread the knowledge of Jehovah among the 
nations. This thought is quite foreign to the context ; and 
even in the words, " in far-off lands will they remember me," 
it is neither expressed nor implied. These words are to be 
connected with what follows : Because they remember the 
Lord in far-off lands, they will live, and return with their 
children. In ver. 10a the gathering together and leading 
back of Israel are more minutely described, and indeed as 
taking place out of the land of Asshur and out of Egypt. 
The fact that these two lands are mentioned, upon which 
modern critics have principally founded their arguments in 
favour of the origin of this prophecy before the captivity, 
cannot be explained " from the circumstance that in the time 
of Tiglath-pileser and Shalmaneser many Ephraimites had fled 
to Egypt" (Koehler and others) ; for history knows nothing of 
this, and the supposition is merely a loophole for escaping from 
a difficulty. Such passages as Hos. viii. 13, ix. 3, 6, xi. 11, Mic. 
vii. 12, Isa. xi. 11, xxvii. 13, furnish no historical evidence of 
such thing. Even if certain Ephraimites had fled to Egypt, 
these could not be explained as relating to a return or gather 
ing together of the Ephraimites or Israelites out of Egypt 
and Assyria, because the announcement presupposes that the 
Ephraimites had been transported to Egypt in quite as large 
numbers as to Assyria, a fact which cannot be established 
either in relation to the times before or to those after the 
captivity. Egypt, as we have already shown at Hos. ix. 3 (cf. 
viii. 13), is rather introduced in all the passages mentioned 
simply as a type of the land of bondage, on account of its 
having been the land in which Israel lived in the olden time, 
under the oppression of the heathen world. And Asshur is 
introduced in the same way, as the land into which the ten 


tribes had been afterwards exiled. This typical significance 
is placed beyond all doubt by ver. 11, since the redemption of 
Israel out of the countries named is there exhibited under the 
type of the liberation of Israel out of the bondage of Egypt 
under the guidance of Moses. (Compare also Delitzsch on 
Isa. xi. 11.) The Ephraimites are to return into the land of 
Gilead and Lebanon ; the former representing the territory 
of the ten tribes in the olden time to the east of the Jordan, 
the latter that to the west (cf. Mic. vii. 14). K^ i6, there is 
not found for them, sc. the necessary room : equivalent to, it 
will not be sufficient for them (as in Josh. xvii. 16). 

Ver. 11. " And he goes through the sea of affliction, and 
smites the waves in the sea, and all the depths of the river dry 
up ; and the pride of A sshur will be cast down, and the staff 
of Egypt will depart. Ver. 12. And I make them strong in 
Jehovah ; and they will walk in His name, is the saying of 
Jehovah" The subject in ver. 11 is Jehovah. He goes, as 
once He went in the pillar of cloud as the angel of the Lord in 
the time of Moses, through the sea of affliction, rny, which has 
been interpreted in very different ways, we take as in apposition 
to DJ, though not as a permutative, " through the sea, viz. the 
affliction " (C. B. Mich., Hengst.) ; but in this sense, " the sea, 
which caused distress or confinement," so that the simple reason 
why rnv is not connected with D^ in the construct state, but 
placed in apposition, is that the sea might not be described as 
a straitened sea, or sea of anxiety. This apposition points to 
the fact which floated before the prophet s mind, namely, that 
the Israelites under Moses were so confined by the Red Sea 
that they thought they were lost (Ex. xiv. 10 sqq.). The 
objection urged by Koehler against this view namely, that 
rns as a noun is not used in the sense of local strait or confine 
ment is proved to be unfounded by Jonah ii. 3 and Zeph. i. 15. 
All the other explanations of tsdrdh are much more unna 
tural, being either unsuitable, like the suggestion of Koehler 
to take it as an exclamation, " O distress ! " or grammatically 
untenable, like the rendering adopted by Maurer and Kliefoth, 
after the Chaldsean usage, " he splits." The smiting of the 
waves in the sea does indeed play upon the division of the 
waves of the sea when the Israelites passed through the Red 
Sea (Ex. xiv. 16, 21 ; cf. Josh. iii. 13, Ps. Ixxvii. 17, cxiv. 5) ; 

CHAP. X. 11, 12. 353 

but it affirms still more, as the following clause shows, namely, 
a binding or constraining of the waves, by which they are 
annihilated, or a drying up of the floods, like &~}nr\ in Isa. 
xi. 15. Only the floods of the Nile (">^0 are mentioned, be 
cause the allusion to the slavery of Israel in Egypt predomi 
nates, and the redemption of the Israelites out of all the lands 
of the nations is represented as bringing out of the slave-house 
of Egypt. The drying up of the flood-depths of the Nile is 
therefore a figure denoting the casting down of the imperial 
power in all its historical forms ; Asshur and Egypt being 
mentioned by name in the last clause answering to the decla 
ration in ver. 10, and the tyranny of Asshur being characterized 
by ptfa, pride, haughtiness (cf. Isa. x. 7 sqq.), and that of Egypt 
by the rod of its taskmasters. In ver. 12 the promise for 
Ephraim is brought to a close with the general thought that 
they will obtain strength in the Lord, and walk in the power 
of His name. With D^"]?^. the address reverts to its starting- 
point in ver. 6. njfra stands for *3, to point emphatically 
to the Lord, in whom Israel as the people of God had its 
strength. Walking in the name of Jehovah is to be taken 
as in Mic. iv. 5, and to be understood not as relating to the 
attitude of Israel towards God, or to the "self-attestation of 
Israel " (Koehler), but to the result, viz. walking in the 
strength of the Lord. 

If, in conclusion, we survey the whole promise from ch. 
ix. 11 onwards, there are two leading thoughts developed in it : 
(a) That those members of the covenant nation who were still 
scattered among the heathen should be redeemed out of their 
misery, and gathered together in the kingdom of the King who 
was coming for Zion, i.e. of the Messiah ; (b) That the Lord 
\vould endow all His people with power for the conquest of 
the heathen. They were both fulfilled, in weak commence 
ments only, in the times immediately following and down to 
the coming of Christ, by the return of many Jews out of cap 
tivity and into the land of the fathers, particularly when 
Galilee was strongly peopled by Israelites; and also by the 
protection and care which God bestowed upon the people in 
the contests between the powers of the world for supremacy in 
Palestine. The principal fulfilment is of a spiritual kind, and 
was effected through the gathering of the Jews into the kingdom 



of Christ, which commenced in the times of the apostles, and 
will continue till the remnant of Israel is converted to Christ 
its Saviour. 


Iii the second half of the " burden " upon the world-power, 
which is contained in this chapter, the thought indicated in 
ch. x. 3 namely, that the wrath of Jehovah is kindled over 
the shepherds when He visits His flock, the house of Judah 
is more elaborately developed, and an announcement is made 
of the manner in which the Lord visits His people, and rescues 
it out of the hands of the world-powers who are seeking to 
destroy it, and then, because it repays His pastoral fidelity with 
ingratitude, gives it up into the hands of the foolish shepherd, 
who will destroy it, but who will also fall under judgment him 
self in consequence. The picture sketched in ch. ix. 8-10, 12, 
of the future of Israel is thus completed, and enlarged by 
the description of the judgment accompanying the salvation ; 
and through this addition an abuse of the proclamation of 
salvation is prevented. But in order to bring out into greater 
prominence the obverse side of the salvation, there is appended 
to the announcement of salvation in ch. x. the threat of judg 
ment in vers. 1-3, without anything to explain the transition ; 
and only after that is the attitude of the Lord towards His 
people and the heathen world, out of which the necessity for 
the judgment sprang, more fully described. Hence this chapter 
divides itself into three sections : viz. the threat of judgment 
(vers. 1-3) ; the description of the good shepherd (vers. 4-14) ; 
and the sketch of the foolish shepherd (vers. 15-17). 

Ver. 1. " Open thy gates, Lebanon, and let fire devour thy 
cedars ! Ver. 2. Howl, cypress ; for the cedar is fallen, for the 
glory is laid waste I Howl, ye oaks of Bashan ; for the inacces 
sible forest is laid low I Ver. 3. A loud howling of the shepherds; 
for their glory is laid waste ! A loud roaring of the young lions ; 
for the splendour of Jordan is laid waste /" That these verses 
do not form the commencement of a new prophecy, having no 

CHAP. XI. 1-3. 

connection with the previous one, hut that they are simply a 
new turn given to that prophecy, is evident not only from the 
omission of any heading or of any indication whatever which 
could point to the commencement of a fresh word of God, but 
still more so from the fact that the allusion to Lebanon and 
Bashan and the thickets of Judah points back unmistakeably 
to the land of Gilead and of Lebanon (ch. x. 10), and shows a 
connection between ch. xi. and x., although this retrospect is 
not decided enough to lay a foundation for the view that 
vers. 1-3 form a conclusion to the prophecy in ch. x., to which 
their contents by no means apply. For let us interpret the 
figurative description in these verses in what manner we will, 
so much at any rate is clear, that they are of a threatening 
character, and as a threat not only form an antithesis to the 
announcement of salvation in ch. x., but are substantially con 
nected with the destruction which will overtake the " flock of 
the slaughter," and therefore serve as a prelude, as it were, to 
the judgment announced in vers. 4-7. The undeniable rela 
tion in which Lebanon, Bashan, and the Jordan stand to the 
districts of Gilead and Lebanon, also gives us a clue to the ex 
planation ; since it shows that Lebanon, the northern frontier 
of the holy land, and Bashan, the northern part of the territory 
of the Israelites to the east of the Jordan, are synecdochical 
terms, denoting the holy land itself regarded in its two halves, 
and therefore that the cedars, cypresses, and oaks in these por 
tions of the land cannot be figurative representations of heathen 
rulers (Targ., Eph. Syr., Kimchi, etc.); but -if powerful men and 
tyrants are to be understood at all by these terms, the allusion 
can only be to the rulers and great men of the nation of Israel 
(Hitzig, Maurer, Hengst., Ewald, etc.). But this allegorical 
interpretation of the cedars, cypresses, and oaks, however old 
and widely spread it may be, is not so indisputable as that we 
could say with Kliefoth : " The words themselves do not allow 
of our finding an announcement of the devastation of the holy 
land therein." For even if the words themselves affirm nothing 
more than "that the very existence of the cedars, oaks, shepherds, 
lions, is in danger ; and that if these should fall, Lebanon will 
give way to the fire, the forest of Bashan will fall, the thicket 
of Jordan be laid waste ;" yet through the destruction of the 
cedars, oaks, etc., the soil on which these trees grow is also 


devastated and laid waste. The picture is a dramatic one. 
Instead of the devastation of Lebanon being announced, it is 
summoned to open its gates, that the fire may be able to enter 
in and devour its cedars. The cypresses, which hold the second 
place among the celebrated woods of Lebanon, are then called 
upon to howl over the fall of the cedars, not so much from 
sympathy as because the same fate is awaiting them. The 
words VntP DT HK "it?K contain a second explanatory clause. 
1B>K is a conjunction (for, because), as in Gen. xxx. 18, xxxi. 
49. Addlrlm are not the glorious or lofty ones among the 
people (Hengst., Kliefoth), but the glorious ones among the 
things spoken of in the context, namely, the noble trees, the 
cedars and cypresses. The oaks of Bashan are also called 
upon to howl, because they too will fall like " the inaccessible 
forest," i.e. the cedar forest of Lebanon. The keri habbdtsir 
is a needless correction, because the article does not compel 
us to take the word as a substantive. If the adjective is 
really a participle, the article is generally attached to it alone, 
and omitted from the uoun (cf. Ges. 111, 2, a), rip?) pip, 
voice of howling, equivalent to a loud howling. The shep 
herds howl, because addartdm, their glory, is laid waste. 
We are not to understand by this their flock, but their pas 
ture, as the parallel member IT}! 1 !? P^? an d the parallel passage 
Jer. xxv. 36 show, where the shepherds howl, because their 
pasture is destroyed. What the pasture, i.e. the good pasture 
ground of the land of Bashan, is to the shepherds, that is 
the pride of Jordan to the young lions, namely, the thicket 
and reeds which grew so luxuriantly on the banks of the 
Jordan, and afforded so safe and convenient a lair for lions 
(cf. Jer. xii. 5, xlix. 19, 1. 44). Ver. 3 announces in distinct 
terms a devastation of the soil or land. It follows from this 
that the cedars, cypresses, and oaks are not figures representing 
earthly rulers. No conclusive arguments can be adduced in 
support of such an allegory. It is true that in Isa. x. 34 the 
powerful army of Assyria is compared to Lebanon ; and in 
Jer. xxii. 6 the head of the cedar forest is a symbol of the 
royal house of Juclah ; and that in Jer. xxii. 23 it is used as a 
figurative term for Jerusalem (see at Hab. ii. 17) ; but neither 
men generally, nor individual earthly rulers in particular, are 
represented as cedars or oaks. The cedars and cypresses of 

CHAR XI. 4-6. 357 

Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan are simply figures denoting 
what is lofty, glorious, and powerful in the world of nature 
and humanity, and are only to be referred to persons so far as 
their lofty position in the state is concerned. Consequently 
we get the following as the thought of these verses : The land 
of Israel, with all its powerful and glorious creatures, is to 
become desolate. Now, inasmuch as the desolation of a land 
also involves the desolation of the people living in the land, 
and of its institutions, the destruction of the cedars, cypresses, 
etc., does include the destruction of everything lofty and ex 
alted in the nation and kingdom ; so that in this sense the 
devastation of Lebanon is a figurative representation of the 
destruction of the Israelitish kingdom, or of the dissolution of 
the political existence of the ancient covenant nation. This 
judgment was executed upon the land and people of Israel by 
the imperial power of Rome. This historical reference is evi 
dent from the description which follows of the facts by which 
this catastrophe is brought to pass. 

Vers. 4-14. This section contains a symbolical act. By the 
command of Jehovah the prophet assumes the office of a shep 
herd over the flock, and feeds it, until he is compelled by its 
ingratitude to break his shepherd s staff, and give up the flock 
to destruction. This symbolical act is not a poetical fiction, 
but is to be regarded in strict accordance with the words, as an 
internal occurrence of a visionary character and of prophetical 
importance, through which the faithful care of the Lord for 
His people is symbolized and exhibited. Ver. 4. " Thus said 
Jehovah my God : Peed the slaughtering-flock ; Ver. 5. whose 
purchasers slay them, and bear no blame, and their sellers say, 
Blessed be Jehovah ! I am getting rich, and their shepherds spare 
them not. Ver. 6. For I shall no more spare the inhabitants of 
the earth, is the saying of Jehovah ; and behold I cause the men 
to fall into one another s hands, and into the king s hand; and they 
will smite the land, and I shall not deliver out of their hand" 
The person who receives the commission to feed the flock is 
the prophet. This is apparent, both from the expression " my 
God" "(ver. 5, comp. with vers. 7 sqq.), and also from ver. 15, 
according to which he is to take the instruments of a foolish 
shepherd. This latter verse also shows clearly enough, that the 
prophet does not come forward here as performing these acts in 


his own person, but that he represents another, who does things 
in vers. 8, 12, and 13, which in truth neither Zechariah nor any 
other prophet ever did, but only God through His Son, and 
that in ver. 10 He is identified with God, inasmuch as here the 
person who breaks the staff is the prophet, and the person who 
has made the covenant with the nations is God. These state 
ments are irreconcilable, both with Hofmann s assumption, that 
in this symbolical transaction Zechariah represents the prophetic 
office, and with that of Koehler, that he represents the media 
torial office. For apart from the fact that such abstract notions 
are foreign to the prophet s announcement, these assumptions 
are overthrown by the fact that neither the prophetic office nor 
the mediatorial office can be identified with God, and also that 
the work which the prophet carries out in what follows was not 
accomplished through the prophetic office. " The destruction 
of the three shepherds, or world-powers (ver. 8), is not effected 
through the prophetic word or office ; and the fourth shepherd 
(ver. 15) is not instituted through the prophetic office and word" 
(Kliefoth). The shepherd depicted by the prophet can only be 
Jehovah Himself, or the angel of -Jehovah, who is equal in 
nature to Himself, i.e. the Messiah. But since the angel of 
Jehovah, who appears in the visions, is not mentioned in our 
orade, and as the coming of the Messiah is also announced else 
where as the coming of Jehovah to His people, we shall have 
in this instance also to understand Jehovah Himself by the 
shepherd represented in the prophet. He visits His flock, as 
it is stated in ch. x. 3 and Ezek. xxxiv. 11, 12, and assumes 
the care of them. The distinction between the prophet and 
Jehovah cannot be adduced as an argument against this ; for it 
really belongs to the symbolical representation of the matter, 
according to which God commissions the prophet to do what 
He Himself intends to do, and will surely accomplish. The 
more precise definition of what is here done depends upon 
the answer to be given to the question, Who are the slaugh 
tering flock, which the prophet undertakes to feed ? Does it 
denote the whole of the human race, as Hofmann supposes ; 
or the nation of Israel, as is assumed by the majority of com 
mentators ? fi^L]? I^, flock of slaughtering, is an expression 
that may be applied either to a flock that is being slaughtered, 
or to one that is destined to be slaughtered in the future. In 

CHAP. XI. 4-6. 359 

support of the latter sense, Kliefoth argues that so long as the 
sheep are being fed, they cannot have been already slaughtered, 
or be even in process of slaughtering, and that ver. 6 expressly 
states, that the men who are intended by the flock of slaughter 
ing will be slaughtered in future when the time of sparing is 
over, or be treated in the manner described in ver. 5. But the 
first of these arguments proves nothing at all, inasmuch as, 
although feeding is of course not equivalent to slaughtering, 
a flock that is being slaughtered by its owners might be trans 
ferred to another shepherd to be fed, so as to rescue it from the 
caprice of its masters. The second argument rests upon the 
erroneous assumption that pNH UB* in ver. 6 is identical with 
the slaughtering flock. The epithet nr\r\r\ jN ? i.e. lit. flock of 
strangling as Mrag does not mean to slay, but to strangle is 
explained in ver. 5. The flock is so called, because its present 
masters are strangling it, without bearing guilt, to sell it for the 
purpose of enriching themselves, and its shepherds treat it in an 
unsparing manner ; and ver. 6 does not give the reason why 
the flock is called the flock of strangling or of slaughtering 
(as Kliefoth supposes), but the reason why it is given up by 
Jehovah to the prophet to feed. *Bt?KJ & does not affirm that 
those who are strangling it do not think themselves to blame 
this is expressed in a different manner (cf. Jer. 1. 7) : nor that 
they do not actually incur guilt in consequence, or do not repent 
of it ; for Jehovah transfers the flock to the prophet to feed, 
because He does not wish its possessors to go on strangling 
it, and D^N never has the meaning, to repent. ^t?&P &O refers 
rather to the fact that these men have hitherto gone un 
punished, that they still continue to prosper. So that dshem 
means to bear or expiate the guilt, as in Hos. v. 15, xiv. 1 (Ges., 
Hitzig, Ewald, etc.). What follows also agrees with this, 
namely, that the sellers have only their own advantage in view, 
and thank God that they have thereby become rich. The 
singular ~\fc& is used distributively : every one of them says 
so. "iBtyM, a syncopated form for "iBfyw (Ewald, 73, 6), and 
1 expressing the consequence, that I enrich myself (cf. Ewald, 
235, b). E^Ti are the former shepherds. The imperfects 
are not futures, but express the manner in which the flock was 
accustomed to be treated at the time when the prophet under 
took to feed it. Jehovah will put an end to this capricious 


treatment of the flock, by commanding the prophet to feed it. 
The reason for this He assigns in ver. 6 : For I shall not spare 
the inhabitants of the earth any longer. pKH W s cannot be 
the inhabitants of the land, i.e. those who are described as the 
" flock of slaughtering" in ver. 4 ; for in that case " feeding" 
would be equivalent to slaughtering, or making ready for 
slaughtering. But although a flock is eventually destined for 
slaughtering, it is not fed for this purpose only, but generally 
to yield profit to its owner. Moreover, the figure of feeding is 
never used in the Scriptures in the sense of making ready for 
destruction, but always denotes fostering and affectionate care 
for the preservation of anything ; and in the case before us, the 
shepherd feeds the flock entrusted to him, by slaying the three 
bad shepherds ; and it is not till the flock has become weary of 
his tending that he breaks the shepherd s staves, and lays down 
his pastoral office, to give them up to destruction. Conse 
quently the HNH "OB* 1 are different from the nyinn |&&, and are 
those in the midst of whom the flock is living, or in whose pos 
session and power it is. They cannot be the inhabitants of a 
land, however, but since they have kings (in the plural), as 
the expression " every one into the hand of his king" clearly 
shows, the inhabitants of the earth, or the world-powers ; from 
which it also follows that the a flock of slaughtering" is not 
the human race, but the people of Israel, as we may clearly see 
from what follows, especially from vers. 11-14. Israel was 
given up by Jehovah into the hands of the nations of the 
world, or the imperial powers, to punish it for its sin. But as 
these nations abused the power entrusted to them, and sought 
utterly to destroy the nation of God, which they ought only to 
have chastised, the Lord takes charge of His people as their 
shepherd, because He will no longer spare the nations of the 
world, i.e. will not any longer let them deal with His people at 
pleasure, without being punished. The termination of the 
sparing will show itself in the fact that God causes the nations 
to destroy themselves by civil wars, and to be smitten by 
tyrannical kings. 1 T3 K VDn, to cause to fall into the hand 
of another, i.e. to deliver up to his power (cf. 2 Sam. iii. 8). 
D^fcjn is the human race ; and tefo, the king of each, is the king 
to whom each is subject. The subject of VW3 is injn and Wp, 
the men and the kings who tyrannize over the others. These 

CHAP. XI. 7, 8. 361 

smite them in pieces, i.e. devastate the earth by civil war and 
tyranny, without any interposition on the part of God to rescue 
the inhabitants of the earth, or nations beyond the limits of 
Israel, out of their hand, or to put any restraint upon tyranny 
and self-destruction. 

From ver. 7 onwards the feeding of the flock is described. 
Ver. 7. " And I fed the slaughtering flock, therewith the wretched 
ones of the sheep, and took to myself two staves : the one I called 
Favour, the other I called Bands ; and so I fed the flock. Ver. 
8a. And I destroyed three of the shepherds in one month! 
The difficult expression |?^, of which very different renderings 
have been given (lit. with the so-being), is evidently used here 
in the same sense as in Isa. xxvi. 14, Ixi. 7, Jer. ii. 33, etc., 
so as to introduce what occurred eo ipso along with the other 
event which took place. When the shepherd fed the slaughter 
ing flock, he thereby, or at the same time, fed the wretched 
ones of the sheep. Jfc&n \ S 3J[, not the most wretched of the 
sheep, but the wretched ones among the sheep, like t*&n ^Jfi? in 
Jer. xlix. 20, 1. 45, the small, weak sheep. J&&L! ^JJ therefore 
form one portion of the nrinn |N ? as Hofmann and Kliefoth 
have correctly explained ; whereas, if they were identical, the 
whole of the appended clause would be very tautological, since 
the thought that the flock was in a miserable state was already 
expressed clearly enough in the predicate nrin, and the expla 
nation of it in ver. 5. This view is confirmed by ver. 11, where 
]&&n ^jjj is generally admitted to be simply one portion of the 
flock. To feed the flock, the prophet takes two shepherds 
staves, to which he gives names, intended to point to the bless 
ings which the flock receives through his pastoral activity. 
The fact that he takes two staves does not arise from the cir 
cumstance that the flock consists of two portions, and cannot 
be understood as signifying that he feeds one portion of the 
flock with the one staff, and the other portion with the other. 
According to ver. 7, he feeds the whole flock with the first 
staff ; and the destruction to which, according to ver. 9, it is to 
be given up when he relinquishes his office, is only made fully 
apparent when the two staves are broken. The prophet takes 
two staves for the simple purpose of setting forth the double 
kind of salvation which is bestowed upon the nation through 
the care of the good shepherd. The first staff he calls QV3, i.e. 


loveliness, and also favour (cf. Ps. xc. 17, njrv Dp). It is in 
the latter sense that the word is used here ; for the shepherd s 
staff shows what Jehovah will thereby bestow upon His people. 
The second staff he calls &Y?n, which is in any case a kal 
participle of ion. Of the two certain meanings which this 
verb has in the &a/, viz. to bind (hence chebhel, a cord or 
rope) and to ill-treat (cf. Job xxxiv. 31), the second, upon 
which the rendering staff-woe is founded, does not suit the 
explanation which is given in ver. 14 of the breaking of this 
staff. The first is the only suitable one, viz. the binding ones, 
equivalent to the bandage or connection. Through the staff 
no am (Favour), the favour of God, which protects it from 
being injured by the heathen nations, is granted to the flock 
(ver. 10) ; and through the staff chobh e llm the wretched sheep 
receive the blessing of fraternal unity or binding (ver. 14). The. 
repetition of the words |NSfn~riK njntfj (end of ver. 7) expresses 
the idea that the feeding is effected with both staves. The first 
thing which the shepherd appointed by God does for the flock 
is, according to ver. 8, to destroy three shepherds, ^rnn, the 
hiphil of ^ns, signifies afyavi&Lv, to annihilate, to destroy (as 
in Ex. xxiii. 23). D^jrin n^^ HX may be rendered, the three 
shepherds (rovs rpels Troi^kva^ LXX.), or three of the shep 
herds, so that the article only refers to the genitive, as in Ex. 
xxvi. 3, 9, Josh. xvii. 11, 1 Sam. xx. 20, Isa. xxx. 26, and as is 
also frequently the case when two nouns are connected together 
in the construct state (see Ges. 111, Anm.). We agree with 
Koehler in regarding the latter as the only admissible render 
ing here, because in what precedes shepherds only have been 
spoken of, and not any definite number of them. The shep 
herds, of whom three are destroyed, are those who strangled 
the flock according to ver. 5, and who are therefore destroyed 
in order to liberate the flock from their tyranny. But who are 
these three shepherds ? It was a very widespread and ancient 
opinion, and one which we meet with in Theodoret, Cyril, and 
Jerome, that the three classes of Jewish rulers are intended, 
namely, princes (or kings), priests, and prophets. But apart 
from the fact that in the times after the captivity, to which our 
prophecy refers, prophesying and the prophetic office were 
extinct, and that in the vision in ch. iv. 14 Zechariah only 
mentions two classes in the covenant nation who were repre- 

CHAP. XL 7, 8. 363 

sented by the prince Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua ; 
apart, I say, from this, such a view is irreconcilable with the 
words themselves, inasmuch as it requires us to dilute the 
destruction into a deposition from office, or, strictly speaking, 
into a counteraction of their influence upon the people ; and 
this is quite sufficient to overthrow it. What Hengstenberg 
says in vindication of it namely, that " an actual extermina 
tion cannot be intended, because the shepherds appear imme 
diately afterwards as still in existence" is founded upon a false 
interpretation of the second half of the verse. So much is 
unquestionably correct, that we have not to think of the exter 
mination or slaying of three particular individuals, 1 and that 
not so much because it cannot be shown that three rulers or 
heads of the nation were ever destroyed in the space of a 
month, either in the times before the captivity or in those 
which followed, as because the persons occurring in this vision 
are not individuals, but classes of men. As the E s ip men 
tioned in ver. 5 as not sparing the flock are to be understood 
as signifying heathen rulers, so here the three shepherds are 
heathen liege-lords of the covenant nation. Moreover, as it is 
unanimously acknowledged by modern commentators that the 
definite number does not stand for an indefinite plurality, it is 
natural to think of the three imperial rulers into whose power 
Israel fell, that is to say, not of three rulers of one empire, but 
of the rulers of the three empires. The statement as to time, 
" in one month," which does not affirm that the three were 
shepherds within one month, as Hitzig supposes, but that the 
three shepherds were destroyed in one month, may easily be 
reconciled with this, if we only observe that, in a symbolical 
transaction, even the distinctions of time are intended to be 
interpreted symbolically. There can be no doubt whatever 

1 The attempts of rationalistic commentators to prove that the three 
shepherds are three kings of the kingdom of the ten tribes, have com 
pletely broken down, inasmuch as of the kings Zechariah, Shallum, and 
Menahem (2 Kings xv. 8-14), Shallum alone reigned an entire month, so 
that not even the ungrammatical explanation of Hitzig, to the effect that 
intf irVB. refers to the reign of these kings, and not to their destruction, 
furnishes a sufficient loophole ; whilst Maurer, Bleek, Ewald, and Bunsen 
felt driven to invent a third king or usurper, in order to carry out their 


that " a month " signifies a comparatively brief space of time. 
At the same time, it is equally impossible to deny that the 
assumption that "in a month" is but another way of saying 
in a very short time, is not satisfactory, inasmuch as it would 
have been better to say " in a week, * if this had been the 
meaning ; and, on the other hand, a year would not have been 
a long time for the extermination of three shepherds. Nor can 
Hofmann s view be sustained, namely, that the one month 
(== 30 days) is to be interpreted on the basis of Dan. ix. 24, 
as a prophetical period of 30 X 7 = 210 years, and that this 
definition of the time refers to the fact that the Babylonian, 
Medo-Persian, and Macedonian empires were destroyed within 
a period of 210 years. For there is no tenable ground for 
calculating the days of a month according to sabbatical periods, 
since there is no connection between the yerach of this verse 
and the D^JDt? of Daniel, to say nothing of the fact that the 
time which intervened between the conquest of Babylon and 
the death of Alexander the Great was not 210 years, but 215. 
The only way in which the expression " in one month " can 
be interpreted symbolically is that proposed by Kliefoth and 
Koehler, namely, by dividing the month as a period of thirty 
days into three times ten days according to the number of the 
shepherds, and taking each ten days as the time employed in 
the destruction of a shepherd. Ten is the number of the com 
pletion or the perfection of any earthly act or occurrence. If, 
therefore, each shepherd was destroyed in ten days, and the 
destruction of the three was executed in a month, i.e. within a 
space of three times ten days following one another, the fact is 
indicated, on the one hand, that the destruction of each of 
these shepherds followed directly upon that of the other ; and, 
on the other hand, that this took place after the full time 
allotted for his rule had passed away. The reason why the 
prophet does not say three times ten days, nor even thirty 
days, but connects the thirty days together into a month, is that 
he wishes not only to indicate that the time allotted for the 
duration of the three imperial monarchies is a brief one, but 
also to exhibit the unwearied activity of the shepherd, which 
is done more clearly by the expression " one month " than by 
" thirty days." 

The description of the shepherd s activity is followed, from 

CHAP. XL 8-11. 365 

*er. Sb onwards, by a description of the attitude which the 
flock assumed in relation to the service performed on its behalf. 
Ver. Sb. " And my soul became impatient over them, and their 
soul also became weary of me. Ver. 9. Then I said, I will not 
feed you any more ; what dieth may die, and what perisheth may 
perish ; and those which remain may devour one another s flesh. 
Ver. 10. And I took my staff Favour, and broke it in pieces, to 
destroy my covenant which I had made with all nations. Ver. 11. 
A nd it was destroyed in that day ; and so the wretched of the 
sheep, which gave heed to me, perceived that it was the word of 
Jehovah." The way in which ver. 8 a and ver. Sb are connected 
in the Masoretic text, has led the earlier commentators, and 
even Hengstenberg, Ebrard, and Kliefoth, to take the state 
ment in ver. Sb as also referring to the shepherds. But this 
is grammatically impossible, because the imperfect c. Vav 
consec. "Wpj-n in this connection, in which the same verbal forms 
both before and after express the sequence both of time and 
thought, cannot be used in the sense of the pluperfect. And 
this is the sense in which it must be taken, if the words referred 
to the shepherds, because the prophet s becoming impatient 
with the shepherds, and the shepherds dislike to the prophet, 
must of necessity have preceded the destruction of the shepherds. 
Again, it is evident from ver. 9, as even Hitzig admits, that 
the prophet " did not become disgusted with the three shepherds, 
but with his flock, which he resolved in his displeasure to leave 
to its fate." As the suffix &?nN in ver. 9 is taken by all the 
commentators (except Kliefoth) as referring to the flock, the 
suffixes DHJ and Df ; 3 in ver. 8 must also point back to the 
flock (J&&H, ver. 7). B&j n ^P, to become impatient, as in 
Num. xxi. 4. ?n|, which only occurs again in Prov. xx. 21 in 

the sense of the Arabic JJcu, to be covetous, is used here in 

the sense of the Syriac, to experience vexation or disgust. In 
consequence of the experience which the shepherd of the Lord 
had had, according to ver. Sb, he resolves to give up the feed 
ing of the flock, and relinquish it to its fate, which is described 
in ver. 96 as that of perishing and destroying one another. 
The participles nno, rnnaa, and nnKBO are present participles, 
that which dies is destroyed (perishes) and remains ; and the 
imperfects rfion, ^njri, and njjONn are not jussive, as the form 


n clearly proves, but are expressive of that which can be or 
may happen (Ewald, 136, d, b). As a sign of this, the 
shepherd breaks one staff in pieces, viz. the no* am, to intimate 
that the good which the flock has hitherto received through 
this staff will be henceforth withdrawn from it ; that is to say, 
that the covenant which God has made with all nations is to 
be repealed or destroyed. This covenant is not the covenant 
made with Noah as the progenitor of all men after the flood 
(Kliefoth), nor a relation entered into by Jehovah with all the 
nationalities under which each nationality prospered, inasmuch 
as the shepherd continued again and again to remove its flock- 
destroying shepherds out of the way (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, 
ii. 2, p. 607). For in the covenant with Noah, although the 
continuance of this earth was promised, and the assurance 
given that there should be no repetition of a flood to destroy 
all living things, there was no guarantee of protection from 
death or destruction, or from civil wars ; and history has no 
record of any covenant made by Jehovah with the nationalities, 
which secured to the nations prosperity on the one hand, or 
deliverance from oppressors on the other. The covenant made 
by God with all nations refers, according to the context of this 
passage, to a treaty made with them by God in favour of His 
flock the nation of Israel, and is analogous to the treaty made 
by God with the beasts, according to Hos. ii. 20, that they 
should not injure His people, and the treaty made with the 
stones and the beasts of the field (Job v. 23, cf. Ezek. xxxiv. 25). 
This covenant consisted in the fact that God imposed upon the 
nations of the earth the obligation not to hurt Israel or destroy 
it, and was one consequence of the favour of Jehovah towards 
His people. Through the abrogation of this covenant Israel is 
delivered up to the nations, that they may be able to deal with 
Israel again in the manner depicted in ver. 5. It is true that 
Israel is not thereby delivered up at once or immediately to 
that self-immolation which is threatened in ver. 9, nor is this 
threat carried into effect through the breaking in pieces of one 
staff, but is only to be fully realized when the second staff is 
broken, whereby the shepherd entirely relinquishes the feeding 
of the flock. So long as the shepherd continues to feed the 
flock with the other staff, so long will utter destruction be 
averted from it, although by the breaking of the staff Favour, 

CHAP. XI. 12-14. 367 

protection against the nations of the world is withdrawn 
from it. Ver. 11. From the abrogation of this covenant the 
wretched among the sheep perceived that this was Jehovah s 
word. |3, so, i.e. in consequence of this. The wretched sheep 
are characterized as S HN DnD^ n, " those which give heed to me." 
*T)J< refers to the prophet, who acts in the name of God, and 
therefore really to the act of God Himself. What is affirmed 
does not apply to one portion, but to all, JN Jfn ^JJ, and proves 
that we are to understand by these the members of the cove 
nant nation who give heed to the word of God. What these 
godly men recognised as the word of Jehovah, is evident from 
the context, viz. not merely the threat expressed in ver. 9, and 
embodied in the breaking of the staff Favour, but generally 
speaking the whole of the prophet s symbolical actions, includ 
ing both the feeding of the flock with the staves, and the 
breaking of the one staff. The two together w r ere an embodied 
word of Jehovah ; and the fact that it was so was discerned, 
i.e. discovered by the righteous, from the effect produced upon 
Israel by the breaking of the staff Favour, i.e. from the conse 
quences of the removal of the obligation imposed upon the 
heathen nations to do no hurt to Israel. 

With the breaking of the staff Favour, the shepherd of the 
Lord has indeed withdrawn one side of his pastoral care from 
the flock that he had to feed, but his connection with it is not 
yet entirely dissolved. This takes place first of all in vers. 
12-14, when the flock rewards him for his service with base 
ingratitude. Ver. 12. "And I said to them, If it seem good to 
you, give me my wages ; but if not, let it alone : and they weighed 
me as wages thirty silverlings. Ver. 13. Then Jehovah said to 
me, Throw it to the potter, the splendid price at which 1 am 
valued by them ; and so I took the thirty silverlings, and threw it 
into the house of Jehovah to the potter. Ver. 14. And J broke 
my second staff Bands, to destroy the brotherhood between Judah 
and Israel" on vN (to them), so far as the grammatical con 
struction is concerned, might be addressed to the wretched 
among the sheep, inasmuch as they were mentioned last. But 
when we bear in mind that the shepherd began to feed not 
only the wretched of the sheep, but the whole flock, and that 
he did not give up any one portion of the flock by breaking 
the staff Favour, we are forced to the conclusion that the words 


are addressed to the whole flock, and that the demand for 
wages is only intended to give the flock an opportunity for 
explaining whether it is willing to acknowledge his feeding, 
and appreciate it rightly. The fact that the prophet asks for 
wages from the sheep may be explained very simply from the 
fact that the sheep represent men. The demand for wages is 
not to be understood as implying that the shepherd intended 
to lay down his office as soon as he had been paid for his 
service ; for in that case he would have asked for the wages 
before breaking the first staff. But as he does not ask for it 
till afterwards, and leaves it to the sheep to say whether they 
are willing to give it or not (" if it seem good to you"), this 
demand cannot have any other object than to call upon the 
sheep to declare whether they acknowledge his service, and 
desire it to be continued. By the wages the commentators 
have very properly understood repentance and faith, or piety 
of heart, humble obedience, and heartfelt, grateful love. These 
are the only wages with which man can discharge his debt to 
God. They weighed him now as wages thirty shekels of silver 
(on the omission of sheqel or keseph, see Ges. 120, 4, Anm. 2). 
" Thirty," not to reward him for the one month, or for thirty 
days that is to say, to give him a shekel a day for his service 
(Hofm., Klief.) : for, in the first place, it is not stated in ver. 8 
that he did not feed them longer than a month ; and secondly, 
a shekel was not such very small wages for a day s work, as 
the wages actually paid are represented as being in ver. 13. 
They rather pay him thirty shekels, with an allusion to the 
fact that this sum was the compensation for a slave that had 
been killed (Ex. xxi. 32), so that it was the price at which a 
bond-slave could be purchased (see at Hos. iii. 2). By paying 
thirty shekels, they therefore gave him to understand that 
they did not estimate his service higher than the labour of a 
purchased slave. To offer such wages was in fact " more 
offensive than a direct refusal" (Hengstenberg). Jehovah 
therefore describes the wages ironically as " a splendid value 
that has been set upon me." As the prophet fed the flock 
in the name of Jehovah, Jehovah regards the wages paid to 
His shepherd as paid to Himself, as the value set upon His 
personal work on behalf of the nation, and commands the 
prophet to throw this miserable sum to the potter. Both the 

CHAP. XI. 12-14. 369 

verb Jiislitikh (throw) and the contemptuous expression used in 
relation to the sum paid down, prove unmistakeably that the 
words " throw to the potter" denote the actual casting away of 
the money. And this alone is sufficient to show that the view 
founded upon the last clause of the verse, " I threw it into the 
house of Jehovah to the potter," viz. that hayyotser signifies 
the temple treasury, and that yotser is a secondary form or a 
copyist s error for ^-p^, is simply a mistaken attempt to solve 
the real difficulty. God could not possibly say to the prophet, 
The wages paid for my service are indeed a miserable amount, 
yet put it in the temple treasury, for it is at any rate better 
than nothing. The phrase " throw to the potter" (for the use 
of hishllkh with el pers. compare 1 Kings xix. 19) is apparently 
a proverbial expression for contemptuous treatment (= to the 
knacker), although we have no means of tracing the origin 
of the phrase satisfactorily. Hengstenberg s assumption, that 
" to the potter" is the same as to an unclean place, is founded 
upon the assumption that the potter who worked for the 
temple had his workshop in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, which, 
having been formerly the scene of the abominable worship of 
Moloch, was regarded with abhorrence as an unclean place 
after its defilement by Josiah (2 Kings xxiii. 10), and served 
as the slaughter-house for the city. But it by no means 
follows from Jer. xviii. 2 and xix. 2, that this potter dwelt in 
the valley of Ben-Hinnom; whereas Jer. xix. 1 and 2 lead 
rather to the opposite conclusion. If, for example, God there 
says to Jeremiah, " Go and buy a pitcher of the potter (ver. 1), 
and go out into the valley of Ben-Hinnom, which lies in front 
of the potter s gate" (ver. 2), it follows pretty clearly from 
these words that the pottery itself stood within the city gate. 
But even if the potter had had his workshop in the valley of 
Ben-Hinnom, which was regarded as unclean, he would not 
have become unclean himself in consequence, so that men 
could say " to the potter," just as we should say "zum Sclrinder" 
(to the knacker) ; and if he had been looked upon as unclean 
in this way, he could not possibly have worked for the temple, 
or supplied the cooking utensils for use in the service of God 
namely, for boiling the holy sacrificial flesh. The attempts at 
an explanation made by Grotius and Hofmann are equally 
unsatisfactory. The former supposes that throwing anything 
VOL. II. 2 A 


before the potter was equivalent to throwing it upon the heap of 
potsherds ; the latter, that it was equivalent to throwing it into 
the dirt. But the potter had not to do with potsherds only, 
and potter s clay is not street mire. The explanation given 
by Koehler is more satisfactory ; namely, that the meaning is, 
" The amount is just large enough to pay a potter for the 
pitchers and pots that have been received from him, and which 
are thought of so little value, that men easily comfort them 
selves when one or the other is broken." But this does not 
do justice to hishlikh, since men do not tlirow to a potter the 
money for his wares, but put it into his hand. The word 
hishllkh involves the idea of contempt, and earthen pots were 
things of insignificant worth. The execution of the command, 
" I threw it (^dtho, the wages paid me) into the house of 
Jehovah to the potter," cannot be understood as signifying 
" into the house of Jehovah, that it might be taken thence to 
the potter" (Hengstenberg). If this were the meaning, it 
should have been expressed more clearly. As the words read, 
they can only be understood as signifying that the potter was 
in the house of Jehovah when the money was thrown to him ; 
that he had either some work to do there, or that he had come 
there to bring some earthenware for the temple kitchens (cf. 
xiv. 20). This circumstance is no doubt a significant one ; 
but the meaning is not merely to show that it was as the 
servant of the Lord, or in the name and by the command of 
Jehovah, that the prophet did this, instead of keeping the 
money (Koehler) ; for Zechariah could have expressed this in 
two or three words in a much simpler and clearer manner. 
The house of Jehovah came into consideration here rather as 
the place where the people appeared in the presence of their 
God, either to receive or to solicit the blessings of the covenant 
from Him. What took place in the temple, was done before 
the face of God, that God might call His people to account 
for it. Ver. 14. In consequence of this shameful payment for 
his service, the shepherd of the Lord breaks his second staff, 
as a sign that he will no longer feed the ungrateful nation, 
but leave it to its fate. The breaking of this staff is inter 
preted, in accordance with its name, as breaking or destroying 
the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. With these words, 
which are chosen with reference to the former division of the 

CHAP. XL 12-14. 371 

nation into two hostile kingdoms, the dissolution of the fra 
ternal unity of the nation is depicted, and the breaking up of 
the nation into parties opposing and destroying one another is 
represented as the result of a divine decree. Hof mann, Ebrard 
(Offenbarwig Johannis)^ and Kliefoth have erroneously sup 
posed that this relates to the division of the covenant nation 
into two parties, one of which, answering to the earlier Judah, 
would receive Christ, and remain the people of God ; whilst 
the other, answering to the Ephraim or Israel of the times 
after Solomon, would reject Christ, and therefore be exposed 
to hardening and judgment. According to the evident meaning 
of the symbolical representation, the whole flock paid the good 
shepherd wages, which were tantamount to a rejection of his 
pastoral care, and was therefore given up by him; so that by 
falling into parties it destroyed itself, and, as the shepherd tells 
it in ver. 9, one devoured the flesh of the other. This is not 
at variance with the fact that by this self-destroying process 
they did not all perish, but that the miserable ones among the 
sheep who gave heed to the Lord, i.e. discerned their Saviour 
in the shepherd, and accepted Jesus Christ as the Messiah, 
were saved. This is simply passed over in our description, 
which treats of the fate of the whole nation as such, as for 
example in Rom. ix. 31, xi. 11-15, because the number of 
these believers formed a vanishing minority in comparison 
with the whole nation. The breaking up of the nation into 
parties manifested itself, however, in a terrible manner soon 
after the rejection of Christ,, and accelerated its ruin in the 
Roman war. 

There is this difference, however, in the interpretation 
which has been given to this symbolical prophecy, so far as 
the historical allusion or fulfilment is concerned, by expositors 
who believe in revelation, and very properly understand it as 
referring to the times of the second temple : namely, that some 
regard it as setting forth the whole of the conduct of God 
towards the covenant nation under the second temple ; whilst 
others take it to be merely a symbol of one single attempt to 
save the nation when on the verge of ruin, namely, that of the 
pastoral office of Christ. Hengstenberg, with many of the 
older commentators, has decided in favour of the latter view. 
But all that he adduces in proof of the exclusive correctness 


of this explanation does not touch the fact itself, but simply 
answers weak arguments by which the first view has been 
defended by its earlier supporters ; whilst the main argument 
which he draws from ver. 8, to prove that the symbolical action 
of the prophet sets forth one single act of pastoral fidelity on 
the part of the Lord, to be accomplished in a comparatively 
brief space of time, rests upon a false interpretation of the 
verse in question. By the three shepherds, which the shepherd 
of Jehovah destroyed in a month, we are to understand, as we 
have shown, at ver. 8, not the three classes of Jewish rulers, 
but the three imperial rulers, in whose power Israel continued 
from the times of the captivity to the time of Christ. But the 
supposition that this section refers exclusively to the work of 
Christ for the salvation of Israel during His life upon earth, is 
quite irreconcilable with this. We cannot therefore come to 
any other conclusion than that the first view, which has been 
defended by Calvin and others, and in the most recent times 
by Hofmann, Kliefoth, and Koehler, is the correct one, though 
we need not therefore assume with Calvin that the prophet 
" represents in his own person all the shepherds, by whose hand 
God ruled the people ;" or discern, as Hofmann does, in the 
shepherd of the Lord merely a personification of the prophetic 
order; or, according to the form in which Koehler expresses 
the same view, a representation of the mediatorial work in the 
plan of salvation, of which Daniel was the first representative, 
and which was afterwards exhibited on the one hand by 
Haggai and Zechariah, and on the other hand by Zerubbabel 
and his successors, as the civil rulers of Israel, and by Joshua 
and those priests who resumed the duties of their office along 
with him. For the extermination or overthrow of the three 
imperial rulers or imperial powers was no more effected or 
carried out by the prophets named, than by the civil rulers and 
priesthood of Israel. The destruction was effected by Jehovah 
without the intervention of either the prophets, the priests, or 
the civil authorities of the Jews ; and what Jehovah accom 
plished in this respect as the Shepherd of His people, was 
wrought by Him in that form of revelation by which He pre 
pared the way for His coming to His people in the incarnation 
of Jesus Christ, namely as the Angel of Jehovah, although 
tins form is not more precisely indicated in the symbolical 

CHAP. XI. 12-14, 373 

action described in the chapter before us. In that action the 
shepherd, to whom thirty silverlings are weighed out as his 
wages, is so far from being regarded as distinct from Jehovah, 
that Jehovah Himself speaks of these wages as the price at 
which He was valued by the people ; and it is only from the 
gospel history that we learn that it was not Jehovah the super- 
terrestrial God, but the Son of God, who became incarnate in 
Christ, i.e. the Messiah, who was betrayed and sold for such a 
price as this. 

What the Evangelist Matthew observes in relation to the 
fulfilment of vers. 12 and 13, presents various difficulties. 
After describing in ch. xxvi. the betrayal of Jesus by Judas, 
the taking of Jesus, and His condemnation to death by the 
Eoman governor Pontius Pilate at the instigation of the high 
priests and elders of the Jews ; and having still further related 
that Judas, feeling remorse at the condemnation of Jesus, 
brought back to the high priests and elders the thirty silver- 
lings paid to him for the betrayal, with the confession that he 
had betrayed innocent blood, and that having thrown down the 
money in the temple, he went and hanged himself, whereupon 
the high priests resolved to apply the money to the purchase 
of a potter s field as a burial-ground for pilgrims ; he adds in 
ch. xxvii. 9, 10 : " Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by 
Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces 
of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the 
children of Israel did value, and gave them for the potter s 
field, as the Lord appointed me." The smallest difficulty of all 
is occasioned by the fact that the thirty silverlings were weighed, 
according to the prophecy, as wages for the shepherd ; whereas, 
according to the fulfilment, they were paid to Judas for the 
betrayal of Jesus. For, as soon as we trace back the form of 
the prophecy to its idea, the difference is resolved into harmony. 
The payment of the wages to the shepherd in the prophetical 
announcement is simply the symbolical form in which the 
nation manifests its ingratitude for the love and fidelity shown 
towards it by the shepherd, and the sign that it will no longer 
have him as its shepherd, and therefore a sign of the blackest 
ingratitude, and of hard-heartedness in return for the love dis 
played by the shepherd. The same ingratitude and the same 
hardness of heart are manifested in the resolution of the repre- 


sentatives of the Jewish nation, the high priests and elders, to 
put Jesus their Saviour to death, and to take Him prisoner by 
bribing the betrayer. The payment of thirty silverlings to the 
betrayer was in fact the wages with which the Jewish nation 
repaid Jesus for what He had done for the salvation of Israel ; 
and the contemptible sum which they paid to the betrayer was 
an expression of the deep contempt which they felt for Jesus. 
There is also no great importance in this difference, that here 
the prophet throws the money into the house of Jehovah to 
the potter ; whereas, according to Matthew s account, Judas 
threw the silverlings into the temple, and the high priests 
would not put the money into the divine treasury, because it 
was blood-money, but applied it to the purchase of a potter s 
field, which received the name of a field of blood. For by 
this very fact not only was the prophecy almost literally ful 
filled ; but, so far as the sense is concerned, it was so exactly 
fulfilled, that every one could see that the same God who had 
spoken through the prophet, had by the secret operation of 
His omnipotent power, which extends even to the ungodly, so 
arranged the matter that Judas threw the money into the 
temple, to bring it before the face of God as blood-money, and 
to call down the vengeance of God upon the nation, and that 
the high priest, by purchasing the potter s field for this money, 
which received the name of " field of blood " in consequence 
" unto this day " (Matt, xxvii. 8), perpetuated the memorial of 
the sin committed against their Messiah. Matthew indicates 
this in the words " as the Lord commanded me," which cor 
respond to ^K njrP ")K S 1 in ver. 13 of our prophecy ; on which 
H. Aug. W. Meyer has correctly observed, " that the words l as 
the Lord commanded me express the fact, that the application 
of the wages of treachery to the purchase of the potter s field 
took place in accordance with the purpose of God] whose 
command the prophet had received. As God had directed the 
prophet (/tot) how to proceed with the thirty silverlings, so was 
it with the antitypical fulfilment of the prophecy by the high 
priests, and thus was the purpose of the divine will accom 
plished." The other points in which the quotation in Matthew 
differs from the original text (for the LXX. have adopted 
a totally different rendering) may be explained from the fact 
that the passage is quoted meinoriter, and that the allusion to 

CHAP. XI. 12-14. 375 

the mode of fulfilment has exerted some influence upon the 
choice of words. This involuntary allusion shows itself in the 
reproduction of W n p?J> " I to k the thirty silverlings, and 
threw them to the potter," by " they took the thirty pieces of 
silver, . . . and gave them for the potter s field ;" whilst " the 
price of him that was valued" is only a free rendering of 
T!?? and " of the children of Israel " an explanation of 

The only real and important difficulty in the quotation is 
to be found in the fact that Matthew quotes the words of 
Zechariah as " that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet," 
whereas all that he quotes is taken simply and solely from the 
prophet Zechariah. The reading lepefjuiov in Matthew is criti 
cally unassailable ; and the assumption that Matthew refers to 
some lost scripture, or to a saying of Jeremiah handed down 
by oral tradition, and others of a similar kind, are simply arbi 
trary loopholes, which cannot come into any further considera 
tion at all. On the other hand, the attempts made to explain 
the introduction of Jeremiah s name in the place of that of 
Zechariah, on the ground that, so far as the principal features 
are concerned, our prophecy is simply a resumption of the 
prophecy in Jer. xix., and that Zechariah announces a second 
fulfilment of this prophecy (Hengstenberg), or that it rests 
upon the prophecy of Jer. xviii., in which the potter is also 
introduced, and that its fulfilment goes beyond Zechariah s 
prophecy in those features which deviate from the words of 
Zechariah, so that Jer. xviii. xix. was fulfilled at the same time 
(Kliefoth), are deserving of serious consideration. Matthew, it 
is supposed, intended to point to this relation by mentioning 
Jeremiah instead of Zechariah. We would support this view 
without reserve, if the connection assumed to exist between 
our prophecy and the prophecies of Jer. xviii. and xix. could 
only be shown to be a probable one. But the proof adduced 
by Hengstenberg that our prophecy rests upon Jer. xviii. 
reduces itself to these two remarks : (1) That the potter, of 
whom Jeremiah purchased a pot (ch. xix.) to break it in the 
valley of Ben-Hinnom, had his workshop in this valley, which 
was regarded with abhorrence, as being unclean ; and (2) that 
Zechariah was to throw the bad wages into the valley of Ben- 
Hinnom precisely at the spot where this potter s workshop was, 


This he supposes to have taken place with a distinct allusion to 
the prophecy in Jer. xix., and with the assumption that the 
readers would have this prophecy before their minds. But in 
our exposition of ver, 13 we have already shown that Jeremiah 
did not purchase his pot in the valley of Ben-Hinnom, but of the 
potter who dwelt within the city gate ; and also that the words 
of Zechariah, " I threw it into the house of Jehovah to the 
potter," do not affirm that the prophet threw the wages paid 
him into the valley of Ben-Hinnom. But with these false 
assumptions, the view founded upon them namely, that our 
prophecy is a resumption of that of Jeremiah necessarily 
falls to the ground. The symbolical action enjoined upon 
Jeremiah, and carried out by him, viz. the breaking to pieces 
in the valley of Ben-Hinnom of the pot purchased of the 
potter in the city, does not stand in any perceptible relation to 
the word of the Lord to Zechariah, to throw the wages paid to 
him into the house of Jehovah to the potter, so as to lead us to 
take this word as a resumption of that prophecy of Jeremiah. 
Kliefoth appears to have seen this also, inasmuch as he gives 
up the idea of finding the proof that our prophecy rests upon 
that of Jeremiah in the prophecy itself. He therefore bases 
this view upon the simple fact that Matthew (xxvii. 9) does 
not quote our passage as a word of Zechariah, but as a word of 
Jeremiah, and therefore at any rate regarded it as such ; and 
that our passage has nothing independent in its contents, but 
is rather to be completed or explained from Jeremiah, though 
not from Jer. xix., but from Jer. xviii., where the potter who 
makes a pot, and breaks it in pieces because it is marred, repre 
sents God, who is doing just the same with Israel as the potter 
with the pot that is marred. Consequently even in Zechariah 
we are to understand by the potter, to whom the prophet throws 
the wages in the temple, Jehovah Himself, who dwells in the 
temple. But apart from the impossibility of understanding 
the words of God in ver. 13, " Throw the splendid price at 
which I have been valued by them to the potter," as meaning 
" Throw this splendid price to me" this view founders on the 
simple fact that it necessitates the giving up of the agreement 
between the prophecy and its historical fulfilment, inasmuch as 
in the fulfilment the price of the betrayal of Jesus is paid, not 
to the potter, Jehovah, but to a common potter for his field in 

CHAP. XI. 15-17. 377 

the valley of Ben-Hinnom. If, therefore, it is impossible to 
show any connection between our prophecy and the prophecies 
of Jeremiah, there is no other course left than to follow the 
example of Luther, namely, either to attribute the introduc 
tion of Jeremiah s name in Matt, xxvii. 9 in the place of that 
of Zechariah to a failure of memory, or to regard it as a very 
old copyist s error, of a more ancient date than any of the 
critical helps that have come down to us. 1 

Vers. 15-17. THE FOOLISH SHEPHERD. Ver. 15. "And 
Jehovah said to me, Take to thee yet the implement of a foolish 
shepherd. Ver. 16. For, behold, I raise up to myself a shepherd 
in the land: that which is perishing will he not observe, that ivhich 
is scattered will he not seek, and that which is broken will he not 
heal ; that which is standing will he not care for; and the flesh of 
the fat one will he eat, and tear their claws in pieces. Ver. 17. 
Woe to the worthless shepherd, who forsakes the flock ! sword 
over his arm, and over his right eye : his arm shall wither, and 
his right eye be extinguished." After Israel has compelled the 
good shepherd to lay down his shepherd s office, in consequence 
of its own sin, it is riot to be left to itself, but to be given into 
the hand of a foolish shepherd, who will destroy it. This is 
the thought in the fresh symbolical action. By liy, u yet 
(again) take the instruments," etc., this action is connected 
with the previous one (vers. 4 sqq.) ; for liy implies that the 
prophet had already taken a shepherd s instruments once before 
in his hand. The shepherd s instruments are the shepherd s 
staff, and taking it in his hand is a figurative representation 
of the feeding of a flock. This time he is to take the im- 

1 Luther says, in bis Commentary on Zechariah, of the year 1528: " This 
chapter gives rise to the question, Why did Matthew attribute the text 
concerning the thirty pieces of silver to the prophet Jeremiah, whereas it 
stands here in Zechariah ? This and other similar questions do not in 
deed trouble me very much, because they have but little bearing upon the 
matter ; and Matthew does quite enough by quoting a certain scripture, 
although he is not quite correct about the name, inasmuch as he quotes 
prophetic sayings in other places, and yet does not even give the words as 
they stand in the Scripture. The same thing may occur now ; and if it 
does not affect the sense that the words are not quoted exactly, what is to 
hinder his not having given the name quite correctly, since the words are 
of more importance than the name ? " 


plement of a foolish shepherd, i.e. to set forth the action of a 
foolish shepherd. Whether the pastoral staff of the foolish 
shepherd was of a different kind from that of the good shep 
herd, is a matter of indifference, so far as the meaning of the 
symbol is concerned. Folly, according to the Old Testament 
view, is synonymous with ungodliness and sin (cf. Ps. xiv. 1 
sqq.). The reason for the divine command is given in ver. 16 
by a statement of the meaning of the new symbolical action. 
God will raise up a shepherd over the land, who will not tend, 
protect, and care for the flock, but will destroy it. That we 
are not to understand by this foolish shepherd all the evil 
native rulers of the Jewish people collectively, as Hengstenberg 
supposes, is as evident from the context as it possibly can be. 
If the good shepherd represented by the prophet in vers. 4-14 
is no other than Jehovah in His rule over Israel, the foolish 
shepherd who is raised up over the land in the place of the 
good shepherd, who had been despised and rejected, can only 
be the possessor of the imperial power, into whose power the 
nation is given up after the rejection of the good shepherd 
sent to it in Christ, i.e. the Roman empire, which destroyed 
the Jewish state. The rule of the foolish shepherd is depicted 
not only as an utter neglect, but as a consuming of the flock, 
as in Ezek. xxxiv. 3, 4, Jer. xxiii. 1, 2. The perishing sheep 
he will not seek, i.e. will not take charge of them (cf. ver. 9). 
"W3H cannot be the young or tender one ; for not only is naar, 
the boy, not used of animals, but even when used of men it 
has not the meaning tender or weak. The word is a substan 
tive formation from naar, to shake, piel to disperse, used in 
the sense of dispulsio, and the abstract being used for the 
concrete, the dispersed, the scattered, as the early translators 
rendered it. ffannishbereth, that which is broken, i.e. injured 
through the fracture of a limb. The opposite of nishbereth is 
nitfan, that which stands upon its feet, and therefore is still 
strong. But not only will he neglect the flock : he will also 
seize upon it, and utterly consume it, not only devouring the 
flesh of the fat one, but even tearing in pieces the claws of 
the sheep. Not indeed by driving them along bad and stony 
roads (Tarn., Ewald, Hitzig), for this does no great harm to 
sheep, but so that when he consumes the sheep, he even splits 
or tears in pieces the claws, to seize upon and swallow the last 

CHAP. XII. 1-XIIL 6. 379 

morsel of flesh or fat. But this tyrant will also receive his 
punishment for doing so. The judgment which is to fall 
upon him is set forth in accordance with the figure of the 
shepherd, as punishment through the loss of the arm and of the 
right eye. These two members are mentioned, because with 
the arm he ought to have protected and provided for the flock, 
and with the eye to have watched over them. The Yod in jn 
and "Oty is not the suffix of the first person, but the so-called Yod 
compaginis with the construct state (see at Hos. x. 11). "?? 
is a substantive, as in Job xiii. 4 ; it does not mean worthless- 
ness, however, but nothingness. A worthless shepherd is one 
who is the opposite of what the shepherd should be, and will 
be : one who does not feed the flock, but leaves it to perish 
(JKS?n "OT V). The words from cherebh to y e mmd are a sentence 
in the form of a proclamation. The sword is called to come 
upon the arm and the right eye of the worthless shepherd, i.e. 
to hew off his arm, to smite his right eye. The further threat 
that the arm is to wither, the eye to become extinct, does not 
appear to harmonize with this. But the sword is simply men 
tioned as the instrument of punishment, and the connecting 
together of different kinds of punishment simply serves to 
exhibit the greatness and terrible nature of the punishment. 
With this threat, the threatening word concerning the imperial 
power of the world (ch. ix.-xi.) is very appropriately brought 
to a close, inasmuch as the prophecy thereby returns to its 



This section forms the first half of the second prophecy of 
Zechariah concerning the future of Israel and of the nations 
of the world, viz. the prophecy contained in ch. xii. xiv., which, 
as a side-piece to ch, ix.-xi., treats of the judgment by which 
Israel, the nation of God, will be refined, sifted, and led on to 
perfection through conflict with the nations of the world. This 
first section announces how the conflict against Jerusalem and 
Judah will issue in destruction to the nations of the world (ch. 
xii. 1-4). Jehovah will endow the princes of Judah and inha 
bitants of Jerusalem with marvellous strength to overcome all 


their foes (vers. 5-9), and will pour out His Spirit of grace 
upon them, so that they will bitterly repent the death of the 
Messiah (vers. 10-14), and purify themselves from all ungodli 
ness (ch. xiii. 1-6). 

Ver. 1. "Burden of the word of Jehovah over Israel. Saying 
of Jehovah, who stretches out the heaven, and lays the foundation 
of the earth, and forms the spirit of man within him" This 
heading, which belongs to the whole prophecy in ch. xii.-xiv., 
corresponds in form and contents to that in ch. ix. 1. The 
burden of Jehovah over Israel stands by the side of the burden 
of Jehovah over the land of Hadrach, the seat of the heathen 
power of the world (ch. ix. 1). And as the reason assigned 
for the latter was that the eye of Jehovah looks at mankind 
and all the tribes of Israel, so the former is explained here by 
an allusion to the creative omnipotence of Jehovah, Only 
there is nothing in our heading to answer to the words " and 
Damascus is his rest," which are added to the explanation of 
the symbolical name Hadrach in ch. ix. 1, because Israel, as 
the name of the covenant nation, needed no explanation. The 
other formal differences are very inconsiderable. 7JJ answers 
substantially to the 2 (in P.?? ? ch. ix. 1), and signifies, notwith 
standing the fact that massa? announces a threatening word, 
not " against," but " over," as we may see by comparing it with 
^ 7K N&D in Mai. i. 1. The reason for the massa announced 
is given here in the form of an apposition, nin* DfeO standing 
first like a heading, as in Ps. ex. 1, 2 Sam. xxiii. 1, Num. xxiv. 
3, 15. The predicates of God are formed after Isa. xlii. 5 (see 
also Amos iv. 13), and describe God as the creator of the uni 
verse, and the former of the spirits of all men, to remove all 
doubt as to the realization of the wonderful things predicted 
in what follows. U1 HV") ")^ ? the forming of the spirit within 
man, does not refer to the creation of the spirits or souls 
of men once for all, but denotes the continuous creative 
formation and guidance of the human spirit by the Spirit 
of God. Consequently we cannot restrict the stretching out 
of the heaven and the laying of the foundation of the earth 
to the creation of the universe as an act accomplished once 
for all at the beginning of all things (Gen. ii. 1), but must 
take these words also as referring to the upholding of the 
world as a work of the continuously creative providence of 

CHAP. XII. 2-4. 381 

God. According to the biblical view {cf. Ps. civ. 2-4), "God 
stretches out the heavens every day afresh, and every day 
He lays the foundation of the earth, which, if His power did 
not uphold it, would move from its orbit, and fall into ruin " 

Ver. 2. " Behold, I make Jerusalem a reeling-basin for all 
the nations round about, and upon Judah also will it be at the 
siege against Jerusalem. Ver. 3. And it will come to pass on 
that day, I will make Jerusalem a burden-stone to all nations : 
all ivho lift it up will tear rents for themselves; and all the 
nations of the earth ivill gather together against it. Yer. 4. 
In that day, is the saying of Jehovah, will I smite every horse 
with shyness, and its rider with madness, and over the house of 
Judah will I open my eyes, and every horse of the nations will 
I smite with blindness" These verses allude to an attack on 
the part of the nations upon Jerusalem and Judah, which will 
result in injury and destruction to those who attack it. The 
Lord will make Jerusalem a reeling-basin to all nations round 
about. Saph does not mean threshold here, but basin, or a large 
bowl, as in Ex. xii. 22. ?jn is equivalent to fipJHfi in Isa. li. 17 
and Ps. Ix. 5, viz. reeling. Instead of the goblet, the prophet 
speaks of a basin, because many persons can put their mouths 
to this at the same time, and drink out of it (Schmieder). The 
" cup of reeling," i.e. a goblet filled with intoxicating drink, is a 
figure very frequently employed to denote the divine judgment, 
which intoxicates the nations, so that they are unable to stand 
any longer, and therefore fall to the ground and perish (see at 
Isa. li. 17). Ver. 26 has been explained in very different ways. 
It is an old and widespread view, that the words " also upon 
Judah will it be," etc., express the participation of Judah in 
the siege of Jerusalem. The Chaldee and Jerome both adopt 
this explanation, that in the siege of Jerusalem Judah will be 
constrained by the nations to besiege the capital of its own 
land. The grammatical reason assigned for this view is, that 
we must either take n^n with ^ in the sense of obligation (it 
will also be the duty of Judah : Mich., Eos., Ewald), or supply 
TT P 1B as the subject to nvp : the reeling-basin will also come 
upon Judah. But there is great harshness in both explana 
tions. With the former, En?n^ or some other infinitive, would 
hardly have been omitted ; and with the latter, the preposition 


p would stand before n*W, instead of TV. Moreover, in what 
follows there is no indication whatever of Judah s having made 
common cause with the enemy against Jerusalem ; on the 
contrary, Judah and Jerusalem stand together in opposition 
to the nations, and the princes of Judah have strength in the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem (ver. 5), and destroy the enemy to 
save Jerusalem (ver. 6). Moreover, it is only by a false in 
terpretation that any one can find a conflict between Judah 
and Jerusalem indicated in ch. xiv. 14. And throughout it 
is incorrect to designate the attitude of Judah towards Jeru 
salem in these verses as " opposition," a notion upon which 
Ebrard (Offenb. Joh.) and Kliefoth have founded the mar 
vellous view, that by Jerusalem with its inhabitants and the 
house of David we are to understand the unbelieving portion 
of Israel ; and by Judah with its princes, Christendom, or the 
true people of God, formed of believing Israelites, and increased 
by believing Gentiles. Judah is not opposed to Jerusalem, 
but simply distinguished from it, just as the Jewish kingdom 
or people is frequently designated by the prophets as Jerusalem 
and Judah. The W, which does not separate, but adds, is of 
itself inapplicable to the idea of opposition. Consequently we 
should expect the words ^ ^ D^ to express the thought, that 
Judah will be visited with the same fate as Jerusalem, as 
Luther, Calvin, and many others follow the Peshito in sup 
posing that they do. fy n^n has then the meaning to happen, 
to come over a person ; and the only question is, What are we 
to supply in thought as the subject I The best course is pro 
bably to take it from the previous clause, " that which passes 
over Jerusalem ;" for the proposal of Koehler to supply mdtsor 
as the subject is precluded by the circumstance that mdtsor, a 
siege, can only affect a city or fortress (cf. Deut. xx. 20), and 
not a land. The thought is strengthened in ver. 3. Jerusalem 
is to become a burden-stone for all nations, which inflicts con 
tusions and wounds upon those who try to lift it up or carry 
it away (" experiencing no hurt itself, it causes great damage 
to them :" Marck). The figure is founded upon the idea of 
the labour connected with building, and not upon the custom, 
which Jerome speaks of as a very common one in his time 
among the youth of Palestine, of testing and exercising their 
strength by lifting heavy stones. There is a gradation in the 

CHAP. XII. 5-7. 383 

thought, both in the figure of the burdensome stone, which 
wounds whoever tries to lift it, whilst intoxicating wine only 
makes one powerless and incapable of any undertaking, and 
also in the description given of the object, viz. in ver. 2 all 
nations round about Jerusalem, and in ver. 3 all peoples and 
all nations of the earth. It is only in the last clause of ver. 3 
that the oppression of Jerusalem indicated in the two figures is 
more minutely described, and in ver. 4 that its overthrow by 
the help of God is depicted. The Lord will throw the mind 
and spirit of the military force of the enemy into such confu 
sion, that instead of injuring Jerusalem and Judah, it will rush 
forward to its own destruction. Horses and riders individualize 
the warlike forces of the enemy. The rider, smitten with mad 
ness, turns his sword against his own comrades in battle (cf. 
ch. xiv. 3, Judg. vii. 22, 1 Sam. xiv. 20). On the other hand, 
Jehovah will open His eyes upon Judah for its protection 
(1 Kings viii. 29 ; Neh. i. 6 ; Ps. xxxii. 8). This promise is 
strengthened by the repetition of the punishment to be inflicted 
upon the enemy. Not only with alarm, but with blindness, 
will the Lord smite their horses. We have an example of this 
in 2 Kings vi. 1 8, where the Lord smote the enemy with blind 
ness in answer to Elisha s prayer, i.e. with mental blindness, so 
that, instead of seizing the prophet, they fell into the hands of 
Israel. The three plagues, timmdhon, shiggaon, and ivvdron, 
are those with which rebellious Israelites are threatened in 
Deut. xxviii. 28. The " house of Judah " is the covenant 
nation, the population of Judah including the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem, as we may see from what follows. 

Ver. 5. "And the princes of Judah will say in their hearts, 
The inhabitants of Jerusalem are strength to me, in Jehovah of 
hosts their God. Ver. 6. On that day ivill I make the princes of 
Judah as a basin of fire under logs of wood, and like a torch of 
fire under sheaves ; and they will devour all nations round about, 
on the right and on the left ; and Jerusalem will dwell still 
further in its place, at Jerusalem. Ver. 7. And Jehovah will 
save the tents of Judah first, that the splendour of the house of 
David and the splendour of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may 
not lift itself up over Judah." The princes of Judah are men 
tioned as the leaders of the people in war. What they say is 
the conviction of the whole nation (^alluph, as in ch. ix. 7). 


HVD (in this form air. \ey.) is a substantive = fofc, strength 
(Job xvii. 9). The singular ll (to me) expresses the fact that 
every individual says or thinks this, as with the expression 
"should /weep" in ch. vii. 3. The princes of Judah recog 
nise in the inhabitants of Jerusalem their strength or might, 
not in this sense, that Judah, being crowded together before 
Jerusalem, expects help against the foe from the strength of 
the city and the assistance of its inhabitants, as Hofmann and 
Koehler maintain, for " their whole account of the inhabitants 
of the land being shut up in the city (or crowded together 
before the walls of Jerusalem, and covered by them) is a pure 
invention" (Koehler), and has no foundation in the text ; but 
in this sense, that the inhabitants of Jerusalem are strong 
through Jehovah their God, i.e. through the fact that Jehovah 
has chosen Jerusalem, and by virtue of this election will save 
the city of His sanctuary (compare x. 12 with iii. 2, i. 17, 
ii. 16). Because the princes of Judah put their trust in the 
divine election of Jerusalem, the Lord makes them into a 
basin of fire under logs of wood, and a burning torch under 
sheaves, so that they destroy all nations round about like flames 
of fire, and Jerusalem therefore remains unconquered and 
undestroyed in its place at Jerusalem. In this last sentence 
Jerusalem is first of all the population personified as a woman, 
and in the second instance the city as such. From the fact 
that Jerusalem is still preserved, in consequence of the destruc 
tion of the enemy proceeding from the princes of Judah, it is 
very evident that the princes of Judah are the representatives 
of the whole nation, and that the whole of the covenant nation 
(Judah with Jerusalem) is included in the house of Judah in 
ver. 4. And ver. 7 may easily be reconciled with this. The 
statement that the Lord will " save the tents of Judah first, 
that the splendour of the house of David may not lift itself up 
above Judah," contains the simple thought that the salvation 
will take place in such a manner that no part of the nation 
will have any occason to lift itself up above another, and that 
because the salvation is effected not by human power, but by 
the omnipotence of God alone. " The tents of Judah, i.e. 
its huts, form an antithesis to the splendid buildings of the 
capital, and probably (?) also point to the defenceless condition 
of Judah, through which it was absolutely cast upon the help 

CHAP. XII. 8, 9. 385 

of God" 1 (Hengstenberg). rnKBn, the splendour or glory, not 
the boasting. The house of David is the royal line, which was 
continued in Zerubbabel and his family, and culminated in 
Christ. Its splendour consists in the glorification promised 
in ch. iv. 6-10 and 14, and Hag. ii. 23 ; and the splendour 
of the inhabitants of Jerusalem is the promises which this 
city received through its election to be the city of God, in 
which Jehovah would be enthroned in His sanctuary, arid also 
through the future glorification predicted for it in consequence 
(ch. i. 16, 17, ii. 8, 14, sqq.). The antithesis between Jeru 
salem and the house of David on the one hand, and the tents 
of Judah on the other, does not serve to express the thought 
that " the strong ones will be saved by the weak, in order that 
the true equilibrium may arise between the two" (Hengst.), 
for Judah cannot represent the weak ones if its princes con 
sume the enemy like flames of fire ; but the thought is simply 
this : At the deliverance from the attack of the foe, Jerusalem 
will have no pre-eminence over Judah ; but the promises which 
Jerusalem and the house of David have received will benefit 
Judah, i.e. the whole of the covenant nation, in like manner. 
This thought is expressed in the following way : The defence 
less land will be delivered sooner than the well-defended capital, 
that the latter may not lift itself up above the former, but 
that both may humbly acknowledge " that the victory in both 
cases is the Lord s" (Jerome) ; for, according to ver. 8, Jeru 
salem will enjoy in the fullest measure the salvation of God. 

Ver. 8. " On that day Jehovah will shelter the inhabitants of 
Jerusalem ; and he that stumbleth among them will be as David 
on that day ; and the house of David as God, as the angel of 
Jehovah before them. Ver. 9. And it will come to pass on that 
day, I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against 
Jerusalem" In the conflict with the heathen nations, the 
Lord will endow the inhabitants of Jerusalem with marvellous 
strength with which to overcome all their foes. The popu 
lation of Jerusalem is divided into two classes, the weak and 
the strong. The weak are designated as hannikhshdl, the 
stumbling one, who cannot stand firmly upon his feet (1 Sam. 

1 Calvin observes : "In my opinion, the prophet applies the term 
* tents to huts which cannot protect their guests or inhabitants. We have 
thus a tacit contrast between huts and fortified cities." 

VOL. II. 2 B 


ii. 4). These are to become like David, the bravest hero of 
Israel (cf. 1 Sam. xvii. 34 sqq., 2 Sam. xvii. 8). The strong 
ones, designated as the house, i.e. the household or family of 
David, are to be like Elohim, i.e. not angels, but God, the 
Deity, i.e. a superhuman being (cf. Ps. viii. 6), yea, like the 
angel of Jehovah, who goes before Israel (DnVJB?), O r the 
revealer of the invisible God, who is essentially the equal of 
Jehovah (see at ch. i. 8). The point of comparison lies in 
the power and strength, not in moral resemblance to God, as 
Kliefoth supposes, who takes Elohim as equivalent to Jehovah, 
and identifies it with the angel of Jehovah, as some of the 
earlier commentators have done, and places the graduation of 
Elohim into the angel of Jehovah in the appearance of God in 
human form, in which case, however, B^W has no meaning. 
This shows rather that the "angel of Jehovah" is simply 
referred to here in connection with his appearance in the 
history of Israel, when he went at the head of Israel and 
smote the Egyptians and all the enemies of Israel (Ex. xxiii. 
20 sqq. ; Josh. v. 13 sqq.). This is evident from the antithesis 
in ver. 9. Whilst Jehovah endows the inhabitants of Jeru 
salem with supernatural strength, He will seek to destroy all 
the nations which attack Jerusalem. Biqqesli, followed by 
an infinitive with Lamed, to strive after anything, as in ch. 
vi. 7. ^V Nto applied to the advance of the enemy against a 
city (=^ r6y, Isa. vii. 1). 

Vers. 10-14. But the Lord will do still more than this for 
His people. He will renew it by pouring out His spirit of 
grace upon it, so that it will come to the knowledge of the 
guilt it has incurred by the rejection of the Saviour, and will 
bitterly repent of its sin. Ver. 10. "And I will pour out upon 
the house of .David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the 
spirit of grace and of supplication ; and they will look upon me, 
whom they have pierced, and will mourn over him like the 
mourning over an only one, and will grieve bitterly over him, as 
one grieves bitterly over the first-born." This new promise is 
simply attached to the previous verse by 1 consec. ( t| rO2^). 
Through this mode of attachment such connections as that 
suggested by Kliefoth, " But such glory can only be enjoyed 
by rebellious Israel when it is converted, and acknowledges 
and bewails Him whom it has rejected," are precluded, as at 

CHAP. xii. 10. 387 

variance with the text. There is not a word in the text about 
conversion as the condition on which the glory set before them 
in vers. 3-9 was to be obtained ; en the contrary, conversion 
is represented as one fruit of the outpouring of the spirit of 
prayer upon the nation ; and this outpouring of the Spirit is 
introduced by WBtPj, which corresponds to ^j93R in ver. 9, as 
a new feature in the salvation, to be added to the promise of 
the destruction of the nations which fight against Jerusalem. 
The fact that only the inhabitants of Jerusalem are named, 
and not those of Judah also, is explained correctly by the 
commentators from the custom of regarding the capital as the 
representative of the whole nation. And it follows eo ipso 
from this, that in ver. 8 also the expression " inhabitants of 
Jerusalem" is, simply an individualizing epithet for the whole 
of the covenant nation. But just as in ver. 8 the house of 
David is mentioned emphatically along with these as the 
princely family and representative of the ruling class, so is it 
also in ver. 10, for the purpose of expressing the- thought that 
the same salvation is to be enjoyed by the whole nation, in all 
its ranks, from the first to the last. The outpouring of the 
Spirit points back to Joel iii. 1 sqq., except that there the Spirit 
of Jehovah generally is spoken of, whereas here it is simply 
the spirit of grace and of supplication. Chen does not mean 
"prayer," nor emotion^ or goodness, or love (Hitzig, Ewald), 
but simply grace or favour ; and here, as in ch. iv. 7, the grace 
of God ; not indeed in its objectivity, but as a principle at 
work in the human mind. The spirit of grace is the spirit 
which produces in the mind of man the experience of the grace 
of God. But this experience begets in the soul of sinful man 
the knowledge of sin and guilt, and prayer for the forgiveness 
of sin, i.e. supplication ; and this awakens sorrow and repent 
ance. ^N l^lin, they look upon me. Hibblt, used of bodily 
sight as well as spiritual (cf. Num. xxi. 9). The suffix in *k$ 
(to me) refers to the speaker. This, is Jehovah, according to 
ver. 1, the creator of the heaven and the earth. Vijj n "i^fcrnK, 
not " Him whom they pierced," but simply " whom they 
pierced." J")K ? that is to say, is not governed by hibbltu as a 
second object, but simply refers to ^, to me, "whom they 
pierced." "IK>S"DK i s chosen here, as in Jer. xxxviii. 9, in the 
place of the simple "ilPN, to mark "ifc K more clearly as an accu- 


sative, since tlie simple "18W might also be rendered " v\ho 
pierced (me) :" cf. Ges. 123, 2, Not. 1. Ddgar does not 
mean to ridicule, or scoff at, but only to pierce, thrust through, 
and to slay by any kind of death whatever (cf. Lam. iv. 9). 
And the context shows that here it signifies to put to death. 
With reference to the explanation proposed by Calvin, " whom 
they have harassed with insults," Hitzig has very properly 
observed : " If it were nothing more than this, wherefore such 
lamentation over him, which, according to the use of 1SD, 
with /V governing the person, and from the similes employed, 
is to be regarded as a lamentation for the dead?" It is true 
that we have not to think of a slaying of Jehovah, the creator 
of the heaven and the earth, but simply of the slaying of 
the Maleach Jehovah, who, being of the same essence with 
Jehovah, became man in the person of Jesus Christ. As 
Zechariah repeatedly represents the coming of the Messiah as 
a coming of Jehovah in His Maleach to His people, he could, 
according to this view, also describe the slaying of the Maleach 
as the slaying of Jehovah. And Israel having come to the 
knowledge of its sin, will bitterly bewail this deed. vi>y does 
not mean thereat, i.e. at the crime, but is used personally, over 
him whom they have pierced. Thus the transition from the 
first person (^K) to the third (V^y) points to the fact that the 
person slain, although essentially one with Jehovah, is person 
ally distinct from the Supreme God. The lamentation for the 
only son (ydchld : cf . Amos viii. 10) and for the first-born is 
the deepest and bitterest death-wail. The inf. abs. hdmer, 
which is used in the place of the finite verb, signifies making 
bitter, to which misped is to be supplied from the previous 
sentence (cf. D^non nBDD, Jer. vi. 26). 

The historical fulfilment of this prophecy commenced with 
the crucifixion of the Son of God, who had come in the flesh. 
The words njjn iBfc-nK ^N ID an are quoted in the Gospel of 
John (xix. 37), according to the Greek rendering o-fyovrai et? 
ov egefcevTijcrav, which probably emanated not from the LXX., 
but from Aquila, or Theodotion, or Symmachus, as having 
been fulfilled in Christ, by the fact that a soldier pierced His 
side with a lance as He was hanging upon the cross (vid. John 
xix. 34). If we compare this quotation with the fact men 
tioned in ver. 36, that they did not break any of His bones, 

CHAP. xii. 10. 389 

there can be no doubt that John quotes this passage with dis 
tinct allusion to this special circumstance ; only we must not 
infer from this, that the evangelist regarded the meaning of 
the prophecy as exhausted by this allusion. The piercing with 
the spear is simply looked upon by him as the climax of all 
the mortal sufferings of Christ ; and even with Zechariah the 
piercing is simply an individualizing expression for putting to 
death, the instrument used and the kind of death being of very 
subordinate importance. This is evident from a comparison of 
our verse with ch. xiii. 7, where the sword is mentioned as the 
instrument employed, whereas ddqar points rather to a spear. 
What we have observed at p. 337 respecting the fulfilment of 
ch. ix. 9 by the entry of Christ into Jerusalem, also applies to 
this special fulfilment, viz. that the so to speak literal fulfilment 
in the outward circumstances only served to make the internal 
concatenation of the prophecy with its historical realization so 
clear, that even unbelievers could not successfully deny it. 
Luke (xxiii. 48) indicates the commencement of the fulfilment 
of the looking at the slain one by these words : " And all the 
people that came together to that sight, beholding the things 
which were done, smote their breasts." (For the smiting of 
the breasts, comp. Isa. xxxii. 12, DHS? 7JJ ISO.) "The crowds, 
who had just before been crying out, Crucify him, here smite 
upon their breasts, being overpowered with the proofs of the 
superhuman exaltation of Jesus, and lament over the crucified 
one, and over their own guilt" (Hengst.). . The true and full 
commencement of the fulfilment, however, shows itself in the 
success which attended the preaching of Peter on the first day 
of Pentecost, namely, in the fact that three thousand were 
pricked in their heart with penitential sorrow on account of the 
crucifixion of their Saviour, and were baptized in the name of 
Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins (Acts ii. 37-41), and 
in the further results which followed the preaching of the 
apostles for the conversion of Israel (Acts iii.-v.). The ful 
filment has continued with less striking results through the 
whole period of the Christian church, in conversions from 
among the Jews ; and it will not terminate till the remnant 
of Israel shall turn as a people to Jesus the Messiah, whom its 
fathers crucified. On the other hand, those who continue 
obstinately in unbelief will see Him at last when He returns 


in the clouds of heaven, and shriek with despair (Rev. i. 7 : 
Matt. xxiv. 30). 

In vers. 11-14 the magnitude and universality of the 
mourning are still further depicted. Ver. 11. "In that day 
the mourning in Jerusalem will be great, like the mourning of 
Hadad-rimmon in the valley of Megiddo. Yer. 12. And the 
land will mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of 
David apart) and their ivives apart ; the family of the house of 
Nathan apart, and their wives apart. Yer. 13. The family of 
the house of L/evi apart, and their wives apart ; the family of the 
Shimeite apart, and their wives apart. Yer. 14. All the rest of 
the families, every family apart, and their wives apart" In 
ver. 11, the depth and bitterness of the pain on account of the 
slain Messiah are depicted by comparing it to the mourning of 
Hadad-rimmon. Jerome says with regard to this : " Adad- 
remmon is a city near Jerusalem, which was formerly called 
by this name, but is now called Maximianopolis, in the field 
of Mageddon, where the good king Josiah was wounded by 
Pharaoh Necho." This statement of Jerome is confirmed 
by the fact that the ancient Canaanitish or Hebrew name of 
the city has been preserved in Rumuni, a small village three- 
quarters of an hour to the south of Lejun (Legio = Megiddo : 
see at Josh. xii. 21 ; and Y. de Yelde, Eeise, i. p. 267). The 
mourning of Hadad-rimmon is therefore the mourning for the 
calamity which befel Israel at Hadad-rimmon in the death of 
the good king Josiah, who was mortally wounded in the valley 
Megiddo, according to 2 Chron. xxxv. 22 sqq., so that he very 
soon gave up the ghost. The death of this most pious of all 
the kings of Judah was bewailed by the people, especially the 
righteous members of the nation, so bitterly, that not only did 
the prophet Jeremiah compose an elegy on his death, but other 
singers, both male and female, bewailed him in dirges, which 
were placed in a collection of elegiac songs, and preserved 
in Israel till long after the captivity (2 Chron. xxxv. 25). 
Zechariah compares the lamentation for the putting of the 
Messiah to death to this great national mourning. All the 
other explanations that have been given of these words are so 
arbitrary, as hardly to be worthy of notice. This applies, for 
example, to the idea mentioned by the Chald., that the refer 
ence is to the death of the wicked Ahab, and also to Hitzig s 

CHAP. XII. 11-14. 391 

hypothesis, that Hadad-rimmon was one name of the god 
Adonis. For, apart from the fact that it is only from this 
passage that Movers has inferred that there ever was an idol 
of that name, a prophet of Jehovah could not possibly have 
compared the great lamentation of the Israelites over the 
death of the Messiah to the lamentation over the death of 
Ahab the ungodly king of Israel, or to the mourning for a 
Syrian idol. But the mourning will not be confined to Jerusa 
lem; the land (lid > drets\ i.e. the whole nation, will also mourn. 
This universality of the lamentation is individualized in vers. 
12-14, and so depicted as to show that all the families and 
households of the nation mourn, and not the men only, but 
also the women. To this end the prophet mentions four dis 
tinct leading and secondary families, and then adds in conclu 
sion, " all the rest of the families, with their wives." Of the 
several families named, two can be determined with certainty, 
namely, the family of the house of David, i.e. the posterity of 
king David, and the family of the house of Levi, i.e. the pos 
terity of the patriarch Levi. But about the other two families 
there is a difference of opinion. The rabbinical writers sup 
pose that Nathan is the well known prophet of that name, and 
the family of Shimei the tribe of Simeon, which is said, accord 
ing to the rabbinical fiction, to have furnished teachers to the 
nation. 1 But the latter opinion is overthrown, apart from any 
other reason, by the fact that the patronymic of Simeon is not 
written \W?$, but ^ V*?^, in Josh. xxi. 4, 1 Chron. xxvii. 16. 
Still less can the Benjamite Shimei, who cursed David (2 
Sam. xvi. 5 sqq.), be intended. ^BB n flDr^P is the name 
given in Num. iii. 21 to the family of the son of Gershon and 
the grandson of Levi (Num. iii. 17 sqq.). This is the family 
intended here, and in harmony with this Nathan is not the 
prophet of that name, but the son of David, from whom 
Zerubbabel was descended (Luke iii. 27, 31). Luther adopted 
this explanation : " Four families," he says, " are enumerated, 
two from the royal line, under the names of David and Nathan, 

^ 1 Jerome gives the Jewish view thus : " In David the regal tribe is in 
cluded, i.e. Judah. In Nathan the prophetic order is described. Levi refers 
to the priests, from whom the priesthood sprang. In Simeon the teachers 
are included, as the companies of masters sprang from that tribe. He says 
nothing about the other tribes, as they had no special privilege or dignity." 


and two from the priestly line, as Lev! and Shimei ; after 
which he embraces all together." Of two tribes he mentions 
one leading family and one subordinate branch, to show that 
not only are all the families of Israel in general seized with 
the same grief, but all the separate branches of those families. 
Thus the word mislipdcJidh is used here, as in many other cases, 
in the wider and more restricted meaning of the leading and 
the subordinate families. 

Chap. xiii. 1-6. The penitential supplication of Israel will 
lead to a thorough renewal of the nation, since the Lord will 
open to the penitent the fountain of His grace for the cleansing 
away of sin and the sanctifying of life. Ver. 1. " In that day 
will a fountain be opened to the house of David, and to the 
inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and uncleanness" As the 
Lord Himself pours out the spirit of supplication upon Israel, 
so does He also provide the means of purification from sin. A 
fountain is opened, when its stream of water bursts forth from 
the bosom of the earth (see Isa. xli. 18, xxxv. 6). The water, 
which flows from the fountain opened by the Lord, is a water 
of sprinkling, with which sin and uncleanness are removed. 
The figure is taken partly from the water used for the purifi 
cation of the Levites at their consecration, which is called 
nxtsn D, sin-water, or water of absolution, in Num. viii. 7, and 
partly from the sprinkling-water prepared from the sacrificial 
ashes of the red heifer for purification from the defilement of 
death, which is called rnj >, water of uncleanness, i.e. water 
which removed uncleanness, in Num. xix. 9. Just as bodily 
uncleanness is a figure used to denote spiritual uncleanness, 
the defilement of sin (cf. Ps. li. 9), so is earthly sprinkling- 
water a symbol of the spiritual water by which sin is removed. 
By this water we have to understand not only grace in general, 
but the spiritual sprinkling-water, which is prepared through 
the sacrificial death of Christ, through the blood that He shed 
for sin, and which is sprinkled upon us for the cleansing away 
of sin in the gracious water of baptism. The blood of Jesus 
Christ cleanseth us from all sin (1 John i. 7 ; compare v. 6). 

The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem 
represent the whole nation here, as in ch. xii. 10. This 
cleansing will be followed by a new life in fellowship with 
God, since the Lord will remove everything that could hinder 

CHAP. XIII. 2-6. 393 

sanctification. This renewal of life and sanctification is de 
scribed in vers. 2-7. Ver. 2. "And it will come to pass in 
that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, I will cut off the 
names of the idols out of the land, they shall be remembered no 
more ; and the prophets also and the spirit of uncleanness will I 
remove out of the land. Ver. 3. And it ivill come to pass, if a man 
prophesies any more, his father and his mother, they that begat 
him, tuill say to him, Thou must not live, for thou hast spoken 
deceit in the name of Jehovah : and his father and his mother, 
they that begat him, ivill pierce him through because of his 
prophesying. Ver. 4. And it will come to pass on that day, the 
prophets will be ashamed every one of his vision, at his prophesy 
ing, and will no more put on a hairy mantle to lie. Ver. 5. And 
he will say, lam no prophet, I am a man who cultivates the land ; 
for a man bought me from my youth. Ver. 6. And if they shall 
say to him, What scars are these between thy hands ? he will say, 
These were inflicted upon me in the house of my loves." The 
new life in righteousness and holiness before God is depicted 
in an individualizing form as the extermination of idols and 
false prophets out of the holy land, because idolatry and false 
prophecy were the two principal forms in which ungodliness 
manifested itself in Israel. The allusion to idols and false 
prophets by no means points to the times before the captivity ; 
for even if gross idolatry, and therefore false prophecy, did not 
spread any more among the Jews after the captivity, such 
passages as Neh. vi. 10, where lying prophets rise up, and even 
priests contract marriages with Canaanitish and other heathen 
wives, from whom children sprang who could not even speak 
the Jewish language (Ezra ix. 2 sqq.; Neh. xiii. 23), show very 
clearly that the danger of falling back into gross idolatry was 
not a very remote one. Moreover, the more refined idolatry 
of pharisaic self -righteousness and work-holiness took the 
place of the grosser idolatry, and the prophets generally depict 
the future under the forms of the past. The cutting off of 
the names of the idols denotes utter destruction (cf. Hos. ii. 
19). The prophets are false prophets, who either uttered the 
thoughts of their hearts as divine inspiration, or stood under 
the demoniacal influence of the spirit of darkness. This is evi 
dent from the fact that they are associated not only with idols, 
but with the " spirit of uncleanness." For this, the opposite of 


the spirit of grace (ch. xii. 10), is the evil spirit which culmi 
nates in Satan, and works in the false prophets as a lying spirit 
(1 Kings xxii. 21-23; Rev. xvi. 13, 14). The complete exter 
mination of this unclean spirit is depicted thus in vers. 3-6, 
that not only will Israel no longer tolerate any prophet in the 
midst of it (ver. 3), but even the prophets themselves will be 
ashamed of their calling (vers. 4-6). The first case is to 
be explained from the law in Deut. xiii. 6-11 and xviii. 20, 
according to which a prophet who leads astray to idolatry, and 
one who prophesies in his own name or in the name of false 
gods, are to be put to death. This commandment will be 
carried out by the parents upon any one who shall prophesy 
in the future. They will pronounce him worthy of death as 
speaking lies, and inflict the punishment of death upon him 
(ddqar, used for putting to death, as in ch. xii. 10). This 
case, that a man is regarded as a false prophet and punished 
in consequence, simply because he prophesies, rests upon the 
assumption that at that time there will be no more prophets, 
and that God will not raise them up or send them any more. 
This assumption agrees both with the promise, that when 
God concludes a new covenant with His people and forgives 
their sins, no one will teach another any more to know the 
Lord, but all, both great arid small, will know Him, and all 
will be taught of God (Jer. xxxi. 33, 34 ; Isa. liv. 13) ; and 
also with the teaching of the Scriptures, that the Old Testa 
ment prophecy reached to John the Baptist, and attained its 
completion and its end in Christ (Matt. xi. 13 ; Luke xvi. 16, 
cf. Matt. v. 17). At that time will those who have had to 
do with false prophecy no longer pretend to be prophets, or 
assume the appearance of prophets, or put on the hairy gar 
ment of the ancient prophets, of Elias for example, but rather 
give themselves out as farm-servants, and declare that the marks 
of wounds inflicted upon themselves when prophesying in the 
worship of heathen gods are the scars of wounds which they 
have received (vers. 4-6). 1& ^3, to be ashamed on account of 
(cf. Isa. i. 29), not to desist with shame. The form inioan in 
ver. 4 instead of tenan (ver. 3) may be explained from the fact 
that the verbs &rt and rrt> frequently borrow forms from one 
another (Ges. 75, Anm. 20-22). On "W JTHN, see at 2 Kings 
i. 8. K ; n3 |y&^ to lie, i.e. to give themselves the appearance of 

CHAP. XIII. 2-6. 395 

prophets, and thereby to deceive the people. The subject 
in ver. 5 is B^K from ver. 4 ; and the explanation given by the 
man is not to be taken as an answer to a question asked by 
another concerning his circumstances, for it has not been pre 
ceded by any question, but as a confession made by his own spon 
taneous impulse, in which he would repudiate his former calling. 
The verb njjpn is not a denom. of n?.i?J?, servum facere, servo uti 
(Maurer, Koehler, and others), for miqneli does not mean slave, 
but that which has been acquired, or an acquisition. It is a 
simple hiphil of qdndh in the sense of acquiring, or acquiring 
by purchase, not of selling. That the statement is an untruth 
ful assertion is evident from ver. 6, the two clauses of which 
are to be taken as speech and reply, or question and answer. 
Some one asks the prophet, who has given himself out as a 
farm-servant, where the stripes (makkoth, strokes, marks of 
strokes) between his hands have come from, and he replies that 
he received them in the house of his lovers. W^ri "i^ K, a? (sc. 
TrXrjjas) e7r\r]^r)v : cf . Ges. 143, 1. The questioner regards 
the stripes or wounds as marks of wounds inflicted upon him 
self, which the person addressed had made when prophesying, 
as is related of the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings xviii. 28 (see 
the comm.). The expression "between the hands" can hardly 
be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms 
of the hands and their continuation up the arms, since, accord 
ing to the testimony of ancient writers (Movers, Phoniz. i. p. 
682), in the self-mutilations connected with the Phrygian, 
Syrian, and Cappadocian forms of worship, the arms were 
mostly cut with swords or knives. The meaning of the answer 
given by the person addressed depends upon the view we take 
of the word D^nxp. As this word is generally applied to para 
mours, Hengstenberg retains this meaning here, and gives the 
following explanation of the passage : namely, that the person 
addressed confesses that he has received the wounds in the 
temples of the idols, which he had followed with adulterous 
love, so that he admits his former folly with the deepest shame. 
But the context appears rather to indicate that this answer is 
also nothing more than an evasion, and that he simply pretends 
that the marks were scars left by the chastisements which he 
received when a boy in the house of either loving parents or 
some other loving relations. 



The prophecy takes a new turn at ver. 7, and announces 
the judgment, through which Israel will be refined from the 
dross still adhering to it, and transformed into the truly holy 
people of the Lord by the extermination of its spurious and 
corrupt members. This second half of the prophecy is really 
an expansion of the first (xii. 1-xiii. 6). Whereas the first 
announces how the Lord will protect Israel and Jerusalem 
against the pressure of the powers of the world, how He will 
smite the enemy, and not only endow His people with miracu 
lous power which ensures their victory, but also by pouring 
out His Spirit of grace, lead it to a knowledge of the guilt it 
has contracted by putting the Messiah to death, and to repent 
ance and renovation of life ; the second half depicts the judg 
ment which will fall upon Jerusalem, to sever the ungodly 
from the righteous, to exterminate the former out of the land 
of the Lord, to purify and preserve the latter, and by com 
pleting this separation, to perfect His kingdom in glory. This 
second half is divisible again into two parts, the former of 
which (ch. xiii. 7-9) gives a summary of the contents, whilst 
the latter (ch. xiv.) expands it into fuller detail. 

Ver. 7. " Arise, sword, over my shepherd, and over the man 
who is my neighbour, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts : smite 
the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered ; and I will bring 
back my hand over the little ones. Ver. 8. And it will come to 
pass in all the land, is the saying of Jehovah ; two parts therein 
shall be cut off, shall die, and the third remains therein. Ver. 9. 
And the third will I bring into the fire, and melt them as silver 
is melted, and will refine them as gold is refined: it will call upon 
my name, and I will answer it ; 1 say, It is my people ; and it 
will say, Jehovah my God." The summons addressed to the 
sword, to awake and smite, is a poetical turn to express the 
thought that the smiting takes place with or according to the 
will of God. For a similar personification of the sword, see 
Jer. xlvii. 6. ^ is the shepherd of Jehovah, since the sum 
mons comes from Jehovah. In what sense the person to be 
smitten is called the shepherd of Jehovah, we may see from 
the clause WOJJ "i??."^. The word ^W, which only occurs in 

CHAP. XIII. 7-9. 397 

the Pentateuch and in Zuchariah, who has taken it thence, is 
only used as a synonym of ntf (cf. Lev. xxv. 15) in the con 
crete sense of the nearest one. And this is the meaning which 
it has in the passage before us, where the construct state ex 
presses the relation of apposition, as for example in TTPH B^K 
(Deut. xxxiii. 8; cf. Ewald, 287, e\ the man who is my nearest 
one. The shepherd of Jehovah, whom Jehovah describes as a 
man who is His next one (neighbour), cannot of course be a 
bad shepherd, who is displeasing to Jehovah, and destroys the 
flock, or the foolish shepherd mentioned in ch. xi. 15-17, as 
Grotius, Umbr., Ebrard, Ewald, Hitzig, and others suppose ; 
for the expression " man who is my nearest one" implies much 
more than unity or community of vocation, or that he had to 
feed the flock like Jehovah. No owner of a flock or lord of a 
flock would call a hired or purchased shepherd his drnlth. And 
so God would not apply this epithet to any godly or ungodly 
man whom He might have appointed shepherd over a nation. 
The idea of nearest one (or fellow) involves not only similarity 
in vocation, but community of physical or spiritual descent, ac 
cording to which he whom God calls His neighbour cannot be 
a mere man, but can only be one who participates in the divine 
nature, or is essentially divine. The shepherd of Jehovah, 
whom the sword is to smite, is therefore no other than the 
Messiah, who is also identified with Jehovah in ch. xii. 10 ; or 
the good shepherd, who says of Himself, "I and my Father 
are one" (John x. 30). The masculine form ^n in the sum 
mons addressed to the sword, although 3in itself is feminine, 
may be accounted for from the personification of the sword ; 
compare Gen. iv. 7, where sin (HKtsn, fern.) is personified as a 
wild beast, and construed as a masculine. The sword is merely 
introduced as a weapon used for killing, without there being 
any intention of defining the mode of death more precisely. 
The smiting of the shepherd is also mentioned here simply for 
the purpose of depicting the consequences that would follow 
with regard to the flock. The thought is therefore merely 
this : Jehovah will scatter Israel or His nation by smiting the 
shepherd ; that is to say, He will give it up to the misery and 
destruction to which a flock without a shepherd is exposed. 
We cannot infer from this that the shepherd himself is to 
blame ; nor does the circumstance that the smiting of the 


shepherd is represented as the execution of a divine command, 
necessarily imply that the death of the shepherd proceeds 
directly from God. According to the biblical view, God also 
works, and does that which is done by man in accordance with 
His counsel and will, and even that which is effected through 
the sin of men. Thus in Isa. liii. 10 the mortal sufferings of 
the Messiah are described as inflicted upon Him by God, 
although He had given up His soul to death to bear the sin of 
the people. In the prophecy before us, the slaying of the 
shepherd is only referred to so far as it brings a grievous cala 
mity upon Israel ; and the fact is passed over, that Israel has 
brought this calamity upon itself by its ingratitude towards the 
shepherd (cf. ch. xi. 8, 12). The flock, which will be dis 
persed in consequence of the slaying of the shepherd, is the 
covenant nation, i.e. neither the human race nor the Christian 
church as such, but the flock which the shepherd in ch. xi. 4 
sqq. had to feed. At the same time, Jehovah will not entirely 
withdraw His hand from the scattered flock, but " bring it back 
over the small ones." The phrase ?V *P ^t?{}, to bring back 
the hand over a person (see at 2 Sam. viii. 3), i.e. make him 
the object of his active care once more, is used to express the 
employment of the hand upon a person either for judgment or 
salvation. It occurs in the latter sense in Isa. i. 25 in relation 
to the grace which the Lord will manifest towards Jerusalem, 
by purifying it from its dross ; and it is used here in the same 
sense, as vers. 8, 9 clearly show, according to which the dis 
persion to be inflicted upon Israel will only be the cause of ruin 
to the greater portion of the nation, whereas it will bring salva 
tion to the remnant. Vers. Sb and 9 add the real explanation 
of the bringing back of the hand over the small ones. O^yV 
(lit. a participle of "W^, which only occurs here) is synonymous 
with "VJfl? or "tfjflf (Jer. xiv. 3, xlviii. 4, chethib), the small ones 
in a figurative sense, the miserable ones, those who are called 
|NS?n ^DJJ in ch. xi. 7. It naturally follows from this, that the 
Dnjp? are not identical with the whole flock, but simply form a 
small portion of it, viz. " the poor and righteous in the nation, 
who suffer injustice" (Hitzig). " The assertion that the flock 
is to be scattered, but that God will bring back His hand to 
the small ones, evidently implies that the small ones are included 
as one portion of the entire flock, for which God will prepare a 

CHAP. XIII. 7-9. 399 

different fate from that of the larger whole which is about to 
be dispersed" (Kliefoth). 

On the fulfilment of this verse, we read in Matt. xxvi. 31, 
32, and Mark xiv. 27, that the bringing back of the hand of the 
Lord over the small ones was realized first of all in the case of 
the apostles. After the institution of the Lord s Supper, Christ 
told His disciples that that same night they would all be 
offended because of Him ; for it was written, " I will smite 
the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered 
abroad. But after I am risen again, I will go before you into 
Galilee." The quotation is made freely from the original text, 
the address to the sword being resolved into its actual meaning, 
" I will smite." The offending of the disciples took place when 
Jesus was taken prisoner, and they all fled. This flight was a 
prelude to the dispersion of the flock at the death of the shep 
herd. But the Lord soon brought back His hand over the 
disciples. The promise, " But after my resurrection I will go 
before you into Galilee," is a practical exposition of the bringing 
back of the hand over the small ones, which shows that the 
expression is to be understood here in a good sense, and that it 
began to be fulfilled in the gathering together of the disciples 
by the risen Saviour. This special fulfilment did not indeed 
exhaust the meaning of the verses before us ; but they had a 
much more general fulfilment in the whole of the nation of 
Israel, to which we shall afterwards return. This more general 
sense of the words is placed beyond the reach of doubt by 
vers. 8 and 9 ; for ver. 8 depicts the misery which the disper 
sion of the flock brings upon Israel, and ver. 9 shows how the 
bringing back of the hand upon the small ones will be realized 
in the remnant of the nation. The dispersion of the flock will 
deliver two-thirds of the nation in the whole land to death, so 
that only one-third will remain alive. fWrTj is not the whole 
earth, but the whole of the holy land, as in ch. xiv. 9, 10; and 
PN?, in ch. xii. 12, the land in which the flock, fed by the 
shepherds of the Lord, i.e. the nation of Israel, dwells. O^f ~ B 
is taken from Deut. xxi. 17, as in 2 Kings ii. 9 ; it is used there 
for the double portion inherited by the first-born. That it is 
used here to signify two-thirds, is evident from the remaining 
rp^^n. The whole of the Jewish nation," says Hengsten- 
berg, " is introduced here, as an inheritance left by the shep- 


herd who has been put to death, which inheritance is divided 
into three parts, death claiming the privileges of the first-born, 
and so receiving two portions, and life one, a division similar 
to that which David made in the case of the Moabites (2 Sam. 
viii. 2)." WW is added to tfn3 p> to define rns more precisely, as 
signifying not merely a cutting off from the land by transporta 
tion (cf. ch. xiv. 2), but a cutting off from life (Koehler). J^J, 
exspirare, is applied both to natural and violent death (for the 
latter meaning, compare Gen. vii. 21, Josh. xxii. 20). The 
remaining third is also to be refined through severe afflictions, 
to purify it from everything of a sinful nature, and make it 
into a truly holy nation of God. For the figure of melting and 
refining, compare Isa. i. 25, xlviii. 10, Jer. ix. 6, Mai. iii. 3, 
Ps. Ixvi. 10. For the expression in ver. 96, compare Isa. Ixv. 
24 ; and for the thought of the whole verse, ch. viii. 8, Hos. 
ii. 25, Jer. xxiv. 7, xxx. 22. The cutting off of the two- 
thirds of Israel commenced in the Jewish war under Vespasian 
and Titus, and in the war for the suppression of the rebellion 
led by the pseudo-Messiah Bar Cochba. It is not to be re 
stricted to these events, however, but was continued in the 
persecutions of the Jews with fire and sword in the following 
centuries. The refinement of the remaining third cannot be 
taken as referring to the sufferings of the Jewish nation during 
the whole period of its present dispersion, as C. B. Michaelis 
supposes, nor generally to the tribulations which are necessary 
in order to enter into the kingdom of God, to the seven con 
flicts which the true Israel existing in the Christian church 
has to sustain, first with the two-thirds, and then and more 
especially with the heathen (ch. xii. 1-9, 14). For whilst 
Hengstenberg very properly objects to the view of Michaelis, 
on the ground that in that case the unbelieving portion of 
Judaism would be regarded as the legitimate and sole conti 
nuation of Israel ; it may also be argued, in opposition to the 
exclusive reference in the third to the Christian church, that it 
is irreconcilable with the perpetuation of the Jews, and the 
unanimous entrance of all Israel into the kingdom of Christ, as 
taught by the Apostle Paul. Both views contain elements of 
truth, which must be combined, as we shall presently show. 

Chap. xiv. All nations will be gathered together by the Lord 
against Jerusalem, and will take the city and plunder it, and 

CHAP. XIV. 1, 2. 401 

lead away the half of its inhabitants into captivity (vers. 1, 2). 
The Lord will then take charge of His people ; He will appear 
upon the Mount of Olives, and by splitting this mountain, 
prepare a safe way for the rescue of those that remain, and 
come with all His saints (vers. 3-5) to complete His kingdom. 
From Jerusalem a stream of salvation and blessing will pour 
over the whole land (vers. 6-11) ; the enemies who have come 
against Jerusalem will be miraculously smitten, and destroy 
one another (vers. 12-15). The remnant of the nations, how 
ever, will turn to the Lord, and come yearly to Jerusalem, to 
keep the feast of Tabernacles (vers. 16-19) ; and Jerusalem 
will become thoroughly holy (vers. 20, 21). From this brief 
description of the contents, it is perfectly obvious that our 
chapter contains simply a further expansion of the summary 
announcement of the judgment upon Israel, and its refinement 
(xiii. 7-9). Vers. 1, 2 show how the flock is dispersed, and for 
the most part perishes ; vers. 26-5, how the Lord brings back 
His hand over the small ones ; vers. 6-21, how the rescued 
remnant of the nation is endowed with salvation, and the king 
dom of God completed by the reception of the believers out of 
the heathen nations. There is no essential difference in the 
fact that the nation of Israel is the object of the prophecy in 
eh. xiii. 7-9, and Jerusalem in ch. xiv. Jerusalem, as the 
capital of the kingdom, is the seat of Israel, the nation of 
God ; what happens to it, happens to the people and kingdom 
of God. 

Vers. 1-5. The judgment and the deliverance. Ver. 1. 
" Behold, a day cometh for Jehovah, and thy spoil is divided in the 
midst of thee. Ver. 2. And I will gather all nations against 
Jerusalem to war ; and the city will be taken, and the houses 
plundered, and the women ravished, and half the city will go out 
into captivity ; but the remnant of the nation will not be cut off 
out of the city." A day comes to the Lord, not inasmuch as He 
brings it to pass, but rather because the day belongs to Him, 
since He will manifest His glory upon it (cf. Isa. ii. 12). This 
day will at first bring calamity or destruction upon Israel ; but 
this calamity will furnish occasion to the Lord to display His 
divine might and glory, by destroying the enemies of Israel 
and saving His people. In the second hemistich of ver. 1, 
Jerusalem is addressed. " Thy spoil" is the booty taken by the 

VOL. II. 2 C 


enemy in Jerusalem. The prophet commences directly with 
the main fact, in a most vivid description, and only gives the 
explanation afterwards in ver. 2. The Vav consec. attached to 
^nSDNI * s a ^ so a V av explicativum. The Lord gathers all nations 
together to war against Jerusalem, and gives up the city into 
their power, that they may conquer it, and let loose all their 
barbarity upon it, plundering the houses and ravishing the 
women (cf. Isa. xiii. 16, where the same thing is affirmed of 
Babylon). Just as in the Chaldsean conquest the people had 
been obliged to wander into captivity, so will it be now, though 
not all the people, but only the half of the city. The remain 
ing portion will not be cut off out of the city, i.e. be transported 
thence, as was the case at that time, when even the remnant 
of the nation was carried into exile (2 Kings xxv. 22). It is 
obvious at once from this, that the words do not refer to the 
destruction of Jerusalem by the Komans, as Theodoret, Jerome, 
and others have supposed. 

This time the Lord will come to the help of His people. 
Ver. 3. " And Jehovah will go forth and fight against those 
nations, as in His day of battle, on the day of slaughter. Yer. 4. 
And His feet will stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, 
which lies to the east before Jerusalem ; and the Mount of Olives 
will split in the centre from east to west into a very great valley, 
and half of the mountain will remove to the north, and its (other) 
half to the south. Ver. 5. And ye will flee into the valley of my 
mountains, and the valley of the mountains will reach to Azel, 
and ye will flee as ye fled before the earthquake in the days of 
Uzziah king of Judah. And Jehovah my God will come, all the 
saints with Thee." Against those nations which have conquered 
Jerusalem the Lord will fight til DV3, as the day, i.e. as on 
the day, of His fighting, to which there is added, for the 
purpose of strengthening the expression, " on the day of the 
slaughter." The meaning is not " according to the day when 
He fought in the day of the war," as Jerome and many others 
suppose, who refer the words to the conflict between Jehovah 
and the Egyptians at the Red Sea (Ex. xiv. 14) ; for there 
is nothing to support this special allusion. According to the 
historical accounts in the Old Testament, Jehovah went out 
more than once to fight for His people (cf. Josh. x. 14, 42, 
xxiii. 3; Judg. iv. 15; 1 Sam. vii. 10; 2 Chron. xx. 15). 

CHAP. XIV. 3-5. 403 

The simile is therefore to be taken in a more general sense, as 
signifying " as He is accustomed to fight in the day of battle 
and slaughter," and to be understood as referring to all the 
wars of the Lord on behalf of His people. In vers. 4 and 5 
we have first of all a description of what the Lord will do to 
save the remnant of His people. He appears upon the Mount 
of Olives, and as His feet touch the mountain it splits in half, 
so that a large valley is formed. The splitting of the moun 
tain is the effect of the earthquake under the footsteps of 
Jehovah, before whom the earth trembles when He touches it 
(cf. Ex. xix. 18 ; Judg. v. 5 ; Ps. Ixviii. 8 ; Nah. i. 5, etc.). 
The more precise definition of the situation of the Mount of 
Olives, viz. " before Jerusalem eastwards," is not introduced 
with a geographical purpose namely, to distinguish it from 
other mountains upon which olive trees grow but is con 
nected with the means employed by the Lord for the salvation 
of His people, for whom He opens a way of escape by splitting 
the mountain in two. The mountain is split HEM nrnnp ^Y^P, 
from the half (i.e. the midst) of it to the east and to the west, 
i.e. so that a chasm ensues, w 7 hich runs from the centre of the 
mountain both eastwards and westwards ; so that the mountain 
is split latitudinally, one half (as is added to make it still more 
clear) removing to the south, the other to the north, and a 
great valley opening between them. Into this valley the half 
of the nation that is still in Jerusalem will flee, ^fj K 1 *]! is the 
accusative of direction (Luther and others render it incorrectly, 
" before the valley of my mountains"). This valley is not the 
valley of the Tyrop&on, or the valley between Moriah and Zion 
(Jerome, Drus., Hofm.), but the valley which has been formed 
by the splitting of the Mount of Olives ; and Jehovah calls 
the two mountains which have been formed through His power 
out of the Mount of Olives hdrai, " my mountains." Nor is 
it connected with the valley of Jehoshaphat ; for the opinion 
that the newly-formed valley is merely an extension of the 
valley of Jehoshaphat has no foundation in the text, and is 
not in harmony with the direction taken by the new valley 
namely, from east to west. The explanatory clause which 
follows, "for the (newly-formed) valley of the mountains will 
reach /VS ?M," shows that the flight of the people into the valley 
is not to be understood as signifying that the valley will merely 


furnish the fugitives with a level road for escape, but that they 
will find a secure place of shelter in the valley. El Atsal has 
been taken by different commentators, after Symm. and Jerome, 
in an appellative sense, " to very near," which Koehler inter 
prets as signifying that the valley will reach to the place where 
the fugitives are. This would be to Jerusalem, for that was 
where the fugitives were then. But if Zechariah had meant 
to say this, he could not have spoken more obscurely. Atsal, 
the form in pause for titsel, as we may see by comparing 
1 Chron. viii. 38 and ix. 44 with 1 Chron. viii. 39 and ix. 43 
(cf. Olsh. Gramm. 91, d), is only met with elsewhere in the 
form ?N, not merely as a preposition, but also in the name 
7Vrrrv:i, and is here a proper name, as most of the ancient 
translators perceived, namely, a contracted form of fefKnvPa, 
since n* 1 ? is frequently omitted from names of places constructed 
with it (see Ges. Thes. p. 193). This place is to be sought for, 
according to Mic. i. 11, in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem, 
and according to the passage before us to the east of the 
Mount of Olives, as Cyril states, though from mere hearsay, 
/ca)/jLrj Be avrfj Trpo? e er^cmat?, o>? \6yos, TOV 6pQV9 Kei^ivrj. 
The fact that Jerome does not mention the place is no proof 
that it did not ; exist. A small place not far from Jerusalem, 
on the other side of the Mount of Olives, might have vanished 
from the earth long before this father lived. The comparison 
of the flight to the flight from the earthquake in the time of 
king Uzziah, to which reference is made in Amos i. 1, is in 
tended to express not merely the swiftness and universality of 
the flight, but also the cause of the flight, namely, that they do 
not merely fly from the enemy, but also for fear of the earth 
quake which will attend the coming of the Lord. In the last 
clause of ver. 5 the object of the coming of the Lord is indi 
cated. He has not only gone forth to fight against the enemy 
in Jerusalem, and deliver His people ; but He comes with His 
holy angels, to perfect His kingdom by means of the judgment, 
and to glorify Jerusalem. This coming is not materially dif 
ferent from His going out to war (ver. 3) ; it is not another 
or a second coming, but simply a visible manifestation. For 
this coming believers wait, because it brings them redemption 
(Luke xxi. 28). This joyful waiting is expressed in the ad 
dress "my God" The holy ones are the angels (cf. Dent. 

CHAP. XIV. 6, 7. 405 

xxxiii. 2, 3 ; Dan. vii. 9, 10 ; Matt. xxv. 31), not believers, or 
believers as well as the angels. In what follows, Zechariah