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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Zechariah 1 - 2

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

      This is a long term, in depth, wide focus study of the Minor Prophets, drawing as much from the history of their times as possible, as well as looking at the original language of the prophet.
      Zechariah's study opens with the first three verses of chapter six:
"I looked up again, and there before me were four chariots coming out from between two mountains - mountains of bronze. The first chariot had red horses, the second black, the third white, and the fourth dappled - all of them powerful."

      This is another of the Minor Prophets with a pedigree, and fairly good dates. The only issue with this information is a slight discrepancy with who his grandfather was when you compare Zechariah's names with the ones in Ezra 5 and 6. This is easily explained as in Jewish culture, it was routine to skip generations in a genealogy, as evidence, we need look no further than those that called Christ "the son of David" when it was as least fourteen generations from one to the other.
      The time frame for Zechariah's career is within the time of Haggai and during the work of Ezra, who names both, during the restoration of the Temple.
      Whether or not this Zechariah is the Zacharias named by Christ is disputed in some quarters. While both forms of the name could apply to the same man, one being written Hebrew and the other a variation of it in the spoken languages of the time, there are a lot of Zecharias and Zachariahs, and other variations in the Bible, and perhaps more than one of them was a prophet (at least one of whom was murdered), although only one of them wrote a book while another was the father of John the Baptist, Luke 1.

Sidenote on Murder
      In Matthew 23 : 35 Christ tells of a prophet by the name of Zacharias / Zechariah who was murdered between the temple and the altar, with his grandfather's name.
      Except Origen of Alexandria, and the apocryphal Gospel of James, the one murdered was the father of John who was killed during the Murder of Innocents because he wouldn't rat out his own son to Herod. There is no other basis for that tradition than a book which was written well over a hundred years after the original James the brother of Christ, had been martyred.
      In Matthew, the Gospel writer includes in the words of Christ with information that indicates that it was the prophet from the book. Eastern Orthodox traditions aside. This conclusion, that the Eastern Tradition based on him is fiction is supported by the fact that Luke does not list a genealogy for either of John's parents. The 'argument from silence' is the weakest type of evidence, so when it is weighed against textual names, even with a missing link, from Matthew, Ezra, and Zechariah itself, it falls apart.
End Note

Chapter 1

      The time of the king and who the message of YHWH came to.

      "qa sap" (angry) YHWH with "'a bo te kem" (fathers / forefathers) "qa sep" (anger / wrath)
      The first 'angry' is the active form of the word, the second 'anger' is an ongoing state. The repetition is for emphasis.

      say to them says YWHW "se ba 'o wt" (of Hosts), "su bu" (turn back / return) to Me, says YHWH "se ba 'o wt" and I will "we 'a sub" (return) to you says YHWH "se ba 'o wt"
      The full title as "Lord of Hosts" is used three times in the verse, and then more in the following verses.

      paraphrase: don't be like your forefathers who the prophets preached to saying thus says YHWH of Hosts
      .... "subu" (turn back / return) now "mid dar ke kem" (your way /ways) "ha ra 'im" (evil / bad), and "u ma 'al le kem" (your deeds / practices) "ha ra 'im", but "we lo" (not) "sa me 'u" (hear / listen) "we lo" (not) "hiq si bu" (pay attention (with intent to obey)) Me says YHWH.

      "'a bo w te kem" (your forefathers) 'where are they'? "we han ni be 'im" (and the prophets) "hal 'o w lam" (forever / everlasting) "yih yu" (live / life)

      indeed "de ba rey" (word / words) "we huq qay" (and statutes / ordinances) "a ser" (which) "siw wi ti" (commanded) "'a ba day" (servants / slaves) the prophets, "ha lo w" (not / didn't) "his si gu" (overtake) your forefathers? So they returned, and "za mam" (proposed) YHWH of Hosts "la 'a so wt" (do / make) to us "kid ra ke nue" (our ways (same root at before) and " u ke ma 'a la le nu" (by our practices / deeds (same root as before) so "'a sah" (do / make) to us

      Date check, month is January or February, and who's relaying the message of YHWH.

      The verse opens with "I saw by night", this is a record of a dream.
      He sees a man on a red horse with "ha ha das sim" (myrtle trees (small flowering evergreen trees)) in the "bam me su lah" (valley) and behind him were horses "'a dum min" (red), "se ruq qum" (?sorrel? usually a 'orange / copper' color), and "u le ba nim" (white)
      These are horses of slightly different colors than those seen in Revelation six. And different colors and arrangement than in Zechariah 6.

      He asks what they are and somebody new answers.
      .... the "ham lak" (angel)

Brief Angelic note:
      Hosea 12 mentions the angel in the wrestling match with Jacob, but no other minor prophet discusses angels as heavenly beings. The term is also used for 'messenger' which is their primary job, when they're not wrestling, but in the other instances throughout the Minor Prophets it has meant 'prophet' (minor or not) and later in Malachi, as we'll see, it is also used to describe the mission of John the Baptist. Going forward in Zechariah, he makes up for the other Minor Prophets not talking about angels. We must also point out that angelic messengers, not the seraphim and such but regular, standard issue angels, don't have wings in the OT.
      It is interesting to remember who John had as a tour guide during his own vision where there were horses of a different color.
End note
      ... "had do ber" (who spoke) with me said "'ar 'e ka" (show) what they are.

      The translations do good with the 'man standing among the myrtle trees' even though there was no mention of a man standing among the trees before, and the term is "hais" (man) not angel, which we'll come back to in a minute. And, as we'll see, stuff changes as we go because this IS a dream sequence. So don't put money on exactly who is in the trees just yet.
      ... these "'a ser" (which / who) "sa lah" (sent) YHWH "le hit hal lek" (walk / walking / went) "ba 'a res" (land / earth).

      "way ya 'a nu" (they (implying those on the horses) answered) the angel of YHWH who stood among the myrtle trees (remember, it was a 'man' in the trees before, are there two individuals in the trees? This is a dream / vision, it doesn't matter) and said 'we have walked' (same root as before) the earth (same word as before) "we hin neh" (behold) all the earth is "yo se bet" (inhabited / remains) "we so qat tet" (undisturbed / calm / quiet)

      the angel speaks again: YHWH of Hosts, how long will You not "te ra hem" (have compassion) on Jerusalem, and the cities of Judah...
      The verse states that God was angry for "sib im" (seventy) years.

      and answered YHWH the angel...
      Zechariah does not directly record what God said to the angel, just that he found the words comforting. The angel relays them in the next passage.

      the angel speaks again: "qe ra" (call / cry) saying, thus says YHWH of Hosts, "qin ni ti" ((pay attention here) 'very' jealous (can also mean) 'very' zealous (or both at the same time)) for Jerusalem and Zion "qin 'ah" (jealousy) "ge do w lah"(great)

      'the message continues' ... and "qe sep" (angry) "ga do wl" (great) I "qo sep" (angry / provoked) with "hag go w yim" (nations (especially foreign)) "has sa 'a nan nin" ('who are at ease') - for I was angry "me at" (little), and they "'a ze ru" (help / helped / helper / etc) "le ra 'ah" (bad / evil (deeds and actions))

      The angel is still relaying the words of God in the next few verses.
      .... "sab ti" (return / turn back / come back / etc) to Jerusalem "be ha ra mim" ('with' compassion)...
      His house will be built. But the final statement is something we see elsewhere, besides in chapter two of Zechariah, of course. John gets to measure the new city in Revelation. In the OT we see the New city in Ezekiel 40 and following, complete with measurements.

      paraphrase: .... things will be good again, and YHWH will be in Jerusalem.

      Is this section a separate dream, or did the horses take a left turn? We don't know, in any case, his angel 'friend' is still there.
      ... I raised my eyes and looked and there were four "qe ra no wt" (horns (the word can mean 'musical instrument', a 'storage horn', such as for wine or oil, or what's on a cow or ram (which can be the original material for the others), this these are musical)

      We'll paraphrase the next few verses:
      he asks the angel about them, the angel says these are the 'horns that "ze ru" (scattered) Judah, and etc' (which is how we know they are 'musical' in the sense that a military bugle is musical)

      now he specifies that YHWH is showing him things, four "ha ra sim" (craftsmen / skilled workers)

      He asks what they're going to do, the 'he' that answers is evidently the angel,
      according to the verse, the craftsmen are going to "le ha ha rid" (make afraid / make tremble with fear) those horns (or perhaps the ones using the war horns)...
      .... and "le had do wt" (the word has dual meanings, and both apply: one is "to confess the Name of God" / praise / give thanks / and so on" the other is "to throw / cast", in MOST of the OT, the first meaning is assigned to it. Except here. And in context, both would work.)....
      that scattered Judah and the others with their horns.

Chapter 2

      and I raised my eyes...
      again, we don't know if this is a different vision or that the horses and the craftsmen have exited stage right and been replaced by a new character in the drama
      a man with a "he bel" (cord / line) "mid dah" (measure).

      Zechariah speaks to the man with the cord, this is the first time he's spoken directly to an image in the dream, well, besides God, and the angelic tour guide.
      and he said "la mod" (to measure) Jerusalem, width and length.

      Zech's angel, and another angel, go out to meet the guy with the cord.

      The Translations (KJV, NIV, TLB, RSV, and so on) aren't a whole lot of help. You have to read this one and think about it. The two angels are talking to the man with the cord. They are evidently talking ABOUT 'the young man' Zechariah as who the one with the cord is supposed to talk to.
      .... saying: "pe ra zo wt" (a 'village without walls') "te seb" (inhabited) Jerusalem "me rob" ('because of the' great number / abundance) of men and "u be he mah" (livestock / cattle (same word from Jonah 4 and Zephaniah 1 - what is it about Minor Prophets and cattle?)) in the "be to w ka" (midst / middle 'of it')

      paraphrase: for YHWH will be her wall all around, and HE will be the glory in the middle of it.

      "ho w" (alas) "ho w", "we nu su" (flee 'as in escape') from the land of the north, says YHWH, for like four "ru ho wt" (winds) "has sa ma yim" (heavens (visible sky)), "pe ras ti" (spread) you, says YHWH

      "ho w" Zion, "him ma le ti" (escape) "yo wo se bet" (inhabit / live 'with') "bat" (daughter) Babel (Babylon)

      thus says YHWH of Hosts - after "ka bo wd" (glory / splendor) "se la ha ni" (He sent 'me') to "hag go w yim" (nations) "has so le lim" (strip / spoil / plunder) for you "han no ge a'" ('he that' touch / touched) you "no ge a" (touch / touches) "be ba bat" (apple) "'e now" ('an' eye)
      This expression occurs in Psalm 17, but it originates in Deuteronomy 32 :10 and is used to describe the Patriarch Jacob. See extended quote below for a modern example.

      The translations have this one very nearly spot on.

      Discussion: Is this sequence, consider the man with the cord and the message, is this a Messianic prophecy?
      If it isn't, then what is?

      "ran ni" (sing) "we sim hi" (and 'be' glad / rejoice) daughter of Zion, behold, "ba" ('I' come) and I will "we san ka ti" (dwell / settle) "be to we kek" (among 'you') says YHWH

      "we nil wu" (joined) "go w yim" (nations (especially foreign)) "rab bim" (many) to YHWH 'in that time' .....
      and the translations finish well.

      "we ha hal" (possess / inherit (to receive as...) YHWH Judah "hel qow" (land / share (property)) "'ad mat" (land 'a specific area') "haq qo des" (consecrated / Holy)...
      This is one of the very few places that designate the territory we think of as The Holy Land as exactly that.
      Yes, there are verses that talk about where somebody is standing as "Holy Ground", such as around Moses's bush, and wherever Joshua was in Joshua 5 : 15. And the priests get homesteads in Ezekiel 45 and 48, and there are a couple of fields here and there, and, of course, God's Mountain and town (see Joel 3 : 17 and Isaiah 24 : 23). But this is referring to the entire country.
      Other references call it the "promised land" or the "land I gave to you" (see Deuteronomy 1) and so on. Here, it is the "Holy Land". And, in fact, it may well be the ONLY place that it is called that.
      ... and will choose Jerusalem again.

      "has" (be silent (as a command)) "kal ba sar" (all flesh (everything physical)), before YHWH - for "ne 'o wr" (awakened / aroused) "mim me 'o wn" (dwelling / habitation) "qa de sow" (consecrated (same root as in 12)

End chapter 2

Selected Sources for this chapter:

"One day as Father and I were returning from our walk we found the Grote Markt cordoned off by a double ring of police and soldiers. A truck was parked in front of the fish mart; into the back were climbing men, women, and children, all wearing the yellow star. . . .
'Father! Those poor people!' I cried. . . .
'Those poor people,' Father echoed. But to my surprise I saw that he was looking at the solders now forming into ranks to march away. 'I pity the poor Germans, Corrie. They have touched the apple of God's eye.'"
- Cornelia Arnolda Johanna "Corrie" ten Boom, The Hiding Place: The Triumphant True Story of Corrie Ten Boom, published 1971, the Netherlands, Chosen Books.

"Corrie ten Boom became a leader in the "Beje" (Dutch resistance) movement, overseeing a network of "safe houses" in the country. Through these activities, it was estimated that 800 Jews' lives were saved."
For more about her see:

This page about why the "Holy Land" is called the "Holy Land" missed the verse in the Minor Prophets that called it the "Holy Land":

"About the myrtle tree in the Bible"

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: We'll change this link as we change books.

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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