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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Zechariah 3 and 4

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

Chapter 3

      “way yar 'e ni” (and I saw / appeared)
      Again, we do not know if this is a continuation of 'the horse and angel' dream, or something from a different night. It simply just continues.
      Joshua the high priest “'o med” (stood / standing) “lip ne” (before) the angel of YHWH, and “sa tan” (Satan) “'o med” (standing) at “ye mi now” ('his' right hand) “le sit now” (to oppose (as an adversary, derived from the root for satan))
      Exactly whose 'right hand' Satan is standing at to oppose the other one is not clear in the Hebrew. Suffice it to say that the Evil One is there, and actively engaged against one of God's workers.

      YHWH speaks to Satan, “yig 'ar” (rebuke) YHWH you Satan, rebuke YHWH you “hab bo her” (choose) Jerusalem not this “'ud' (firebrand 'a bent stick used to stoke a fire' (NOT a 'branding iron')) “mus sal” (snatched / pulled / etc) “me 'es” (burning coals / fire)
      To be clear, YHWH is rebuking Satan, there are interpretations from the Hebrew word order that could be the other way around, however, the verse begins with the clear statement that GOD is speaking to the 'bad guy'.

      paraphrase: Joshua's outfit was a dirty mess.
      Point Of Order: The priest's garments that they wore ministering in the temple were special. They were only put on after the priest had bathed, then they went in, did their duty, and when they came out they were removed and put away, so they never had time to get dirty. See Leviticus 8 and 16 and Ezekiel 42 and 44. Here his clothes are described as “so w 'im”, meaning 'filthy'. Not “ceremonially unclean” or anything like that, but simply 'very dirty'. The word in this form is only used twice in the OT, although things are 'dirty' elsewhere. That was the first time.....

.... and this is the second time:
      “way ya 'an” (and He answered / testified) 'to those before him saying' “ha si ru” (take off / away) “has so 'im” (filthy (same root, different form of verse 3)) “me 'a law” (because / etc) He said “'e law” (to him) “re 'eh” (see), “he 'e bar ti” (passed (as in alienated)) “me 'a le ka” ('from upon / within') you “'a wo ne ka” (iniquity / quilt) “we hal bes” (clothed) “ma ha la so wt” (literally: 'robe of state')

      The prophet is speaking now.
      “wa 'o mar” ('I' said) “ya si mu” (put / place) “sa nip” (diadem (headband that is a symbol of authority) or turban) “hat ta ho wr” (pure / clean) on his head...
      The end of God's speaking, this is now narrated by the prophet: so 'they' did, the hat and the robes from 4. It does not specify who the dressing crew was.
      ... and then the angel stood by YHWH.

      “way ya 'ad” (admonished / sternly warned) 'the angel of YHWH' Joshua.

      Thus says YHWH of Hosts: if “bid ra kay” (my way (or even 'toward me') “tel lek” (walk) and if “mis mar ti” (charges / obligation) “tis mor” (keep / observe) “we gam” (and also / furthermore) you “ta din” ('will' judge) house, “we gam” (and also...) “tis mor” (keep ...) “ha se ray” (courts (as in 'courtyards')), “we na tat ti” ('and I' give) “mah le kim” (access to walk) “ben” (between / 'in midst of') “ha 'o me dim” ('appointed standing') “ha 'el le” (these).
      The ending there is an interesting promise when you remember Gabriel's self introduction in Luke 1 : 19.

      Paraphrase: hear this Joshua, high priest, and the men with you,
      ... for “mo w pt” (wonder / sign) “hem mah” (them), for behold “me bi” (came / bring / brought) “'et 'ab di” (my servant) “se mah” (branch / sprout / growth)

      for behold, “ha 'e ben” (stone / stones) that “na tat ti” ('I' laid / put) 'in front of' Joshua - “'al” (against / about) one stone 'are' “sib 'ah” (seven) “'e nah yim” (sight / eyes). Behold, “me pat te ah” (carve / engrave (also means 'open') “pit tu hah” (engraving) says YHWH of Hosts, “u mas ti” (remove / take away) “'a won” (iniquity / guilt) “ha 'a res” (land / earth) that day one.

      'in that day' says YHWH of Hosts, “tiq re 'u” (call / summon / proclaim) “'is” (each / every 'one') “le re 'e hu” (neighbor / another) “'el” (against / over / etc) “ta hat” (place / under / etc) vine and under his fig tree.

Chapter 4

      Word for word:
      “way ya sab” (return / again) “ham mal 'ak” (angel / messenger) “had do ber” (spoke / speak) “bi” (me), “way 'i re ni” (awake / awakened 'me') “ke 'is” (man) “'a ser” (who / which) “ye 'o wr” (awakened (same root)) “mis se na tow” (sleep)
      Discussion, whereas the first series of dreams were exactly that, but now, he's either awake, or dreaming that he is awake.

      paraphrase: the angel asks him what he sees, so he says I'm looking,
      ... there is a “me ne w rat” (lampstand) “za hab” (gold) “kul lah” (all / whole)
      the verse goes on to describe a seven branched lamp, the menorah.

      The translations have the “ze tim” correct.

4 and 5
      The prophet asks what these things are. And the angel answers by asking him if he knows. To which Zechariah answers honestly.

      The angel begins explaining
      this is “de bar” (word / words) of YHWH to Zerubbabel (leader of the returning exiles in Ezra 2 and 3) ... ...
      wouldn't the rest of this verse make a great song? see link below.
      The word 'might' in the song is “be ha yil” is usually translated as (armies), and 'power' which is “be ko ah” is (strength or power). Whereas Spirit is “ru hi” which is used as 'spirit' with the modifier “be” for 'my'.

      Who are you “har” (mountain) “hag ga do wl” (great)? “lip ne” (front / before) Zerubbabel (his name means 'born in Babylon') “li my sor” (plain / level) - “we ho w si” (go / bring / brought / etc) “ha 'e bem ha ro sah” (stone top (capstone)) “te su 'o wt” (shouts / noise (loud)) of “hen” (favor / grace) (repeated) to it...

      'the Word of YHWH came to me, saying'....

      .... - the hands of “ Zerubbabel” have “yis se du” (foundation) “hab ba yit” (house (being God's House, this would be the “Second” Temple, stand by for a look that way)) this - “we ya da” ('and his' hands) “te bas sa' nah” (complete / accomplish (also includes an element of negativity as if already predicting its destruction)) 'and you will know' YHWH of hosts has “se la ha ni” (sent 'me') “'a le kem” (to / into / towards)
      This verse, and Ezra 5 : 2 say that Zerubbabel had started it, but is more general in who will finish it. The “his” there could mean, as some translations make it, “God” with the capitalization of the his, or it could be the priest.

A Look at The Temple in Jerusalem
      The first permanent building that was God's House was the Temple planned by David and built by Solomon being completed around 950 to 920 BC (remember what we've said about OT dates). It was huge, grand, and ornate with details of the construction in 1 Kings 5 through 8 when the Ark was brought to it (also see 2 Chronicles beginning in chapter 2). It stood at the center of Jewish life until about 586 when the Babylonians sacked and burnt the city.
      After the famous period of 70 years, enough people had returned to Jerusalem to begin rebuilding the temple, as we see in Ezra and books like Zechariah.
      This Second Temple, also called Ezra's Temple or Zerubbabel's Temple was neither as large or as fancy as Solomon's Temple.
      This was Temple that was desecrated and at least partially destroyed by the invading Seleucids (a Greek state that ruled much of the Middle East from about 300 until swallowed by Rome around 60 BC) ...
54 Moreover in the hundred fifty and third year, in the second month, Alcimus commanded that the wall of the inner court of the sanctuary should be pulled down; he pulled down also the works of the prophets
55 And as he began to pull down, even at that time was Alcimus plagued, and his enterprizes hindered: for his mouth was stopped, and he was taken with a palsy, so that he could no more speak any thing, nor give order concerning his house
56 So Alcimus died at that time with great torment.”
- 1 Macabees, Chapter 9 (see link below)
      Suffice it to say, that was a bad idea.
      But in chapter 10, we see where the High Priest was named by the occupying Greeks, and called 'the King's Friend', see verses 15 - 20. Which didn't sit well with the Jews.

      In any case, the rebellion succeeded and Judah was at least somewhat autonomous for a time, and the temple partially restored. Then Rome moved in. Herod the Great became the King, and he set himself to both rebuilding and enlarging the Temple, which became almost as spectacular as the original. This would be correctly referred to as the Restored Second Temple, or as it is sometimes called, Herod's Temple:

“But on the east quarter, towards the sun-rising, there was one large gate: through which such as were pure came in; together with their wives. But the temple farther inward in that gate was not allowed to the women. But still more inward was there a third [court of the] temple; whereinto it was not lawful for any but the priests alone to enter. The temple it self was within this: and before that temple was the altar; upon which we offer our sacrifices and burnt offerings to God. Into none of these three did King Herod enter. For he was forbidden; because he was not a priest. However, he took care of the cloisters, and the outer inclosures; and these he built in eight years.
6. But the temple it self was built by the priests in a year and six months.”
- Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15, Chapter 11, section 5 (See link below)       This was the Temple that Christ walked in, and that the Romans leveled in 70 AD with much of the city, leaving only the bases of a couple of the towers of the inner city wall as a memorial.
End Look

      “ki” (because / indeed) who “baz” (contempt / despised (includes 'laughingstock')) “le yo wm” (day / time / etc) “qe tan no wt” (young (defenseless) / small (includes 'weak') / unimportant (with both previous) (each term in the possible meanings changes the deeper meaning of the verse in interesting ways))? “we se me hu” (glad / joyful / to rejoice) to see the “ha 'e ben” (stone) “line / plumb” in the hand of Zerubbabel seven 'these eyes' YHWH they are, “me so wt tim” (go about / 'run to and fro') “be kal” (all / every) “ha 'a res” (land / earth)

11 and 12
      Zechariah asks what the two olive trees by the lampstand are. And then he repeats the question with more description.

      The angel answers and asks him again if he knows what these things are. Zech answers 'no'

      so he said, these two are “hay yis har” (oil (as for anointing)) 'who stand beside the Lord of all the earth'

End four

Selected Sources for this chapter:

The song from the verse above: Not by Might, Not by Power, But by My Spirit says the Lord

1 Macabees, Chapter 9

Josephus's Antiquities of the Jews, Book 15, Chapter 11, section 5

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