Devotional Commentary on Zechariah 8


The correspondence between thoughts of Ellen White and Franz Delitzsch is just remarkable. Delitzsch is seen as the best Semitist of the year 1890 by Jews even though he was a Christian and I am citing a Jewish Journal of that year commenting on his death.

Ellen White was Holy Spirit inspired and Delitzsch well trained for his job in Hebrew at Leipzig University in 1844. Ellen White could not read German and Delitzsch wrote in German. Truth, when sought with the help of the Holy Spirit will lead to the same destination and that is what will be seen in this chapter.

Delitzsch described that chapter 7 was God’s answer to them about the reasons for His exile and chapter 8 the promise of restoration.

Most scholar thought that the chapter contained ten sayings from the Lord which one can see as the phrase kh ‘mr yhwh.

8:2; 8:3; 8:4; 8:6; 8:7; 8:9; 8:14; 8:19; 8:20; 8:23. However, there are actually two more in 8:11c and also in 8:14c.

Saying one: (verse 2) “I was jealous for Zion with a great jealousy and these were great, My jealousy for her”. The Syriac translation did not know what to do with hmh and translated it with adding a preposition /b/ = “in” in front of it and ended with bmt’ rbt’ which is “in great heat”. The adjective is used in an attributive sense with the noun so that number and gender and state agree.

Saying two: (verse 3) “I am returning to Zion and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem and Jerusalem shall be called [niphal form of the verb = passive] a city of truth and the mountain of the Lord of Hosts, a mountain of holiness”.

Delitzsch is correct to say about this fulfillment that “Jerusalem did not acquire this character in the period after the captivity” because he said that they did other abominable sins. He then thought that it became a city of truth when Christ the Messiah came but that is also not correct: “How many times did I want to gather you as a hen her chickens, but you did not want to” said Jesus.

Prof. Hans LaRondelle of Andrews University suggested that Zechariah 8 refers to restoration in 457 BCE but this is unlikely as it cannot be said that the Lord dwelt in Jerusalem at that time. The language of the chapter is too absolute to be conditional.

What it means is that when God said that He is going to stay with His people He is facing the future Utopia and definitely is not shortsighted or in hope of possibility of them changing their condition. To look for the fulfillment of Zechariah here in this verse in the history of Israel is in for trouble.

The sovereignty of God does not interfere with human choice or conditionality but when sovereignty outlines an envisaged restoration period it is futile to use anthropocentric reconstructions to fit those outlines in when they are supposed to be seen in Theocentric seriousness and realities unchangeable. God is not captivated in time and space (whether geographical or topographical) but resides in the presence of His remnant through the ages.

Saying three: (verse 4) “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”.

The picture given here is that of old men and women living very long in Jerusalem (mrb ymym) [literally: ‘from many days’].

This eschatological picture of a glorious day when the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof, is a welcome sight to the remnant (verse 6). Why? Because they will experience it.

Delitzsch had the same idea as mine and said that according to Isaiah 65:20 “extreme old age also belonged to the blessings of the Messianic times” (Delitzsch 1884: 313) [especially the eschatological times].

Saying four: (verse 6 “If it be marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this nation in those days, will it also be marvelous in my eyes?”

There is a question with a negative answer following since it will not be marvelous for the Lord. Why? He knows that it will happen and He is causing it to happen. It is natural for Him.

Saying five: (verse 7and 8): “Behold I save my people out of the land of the rising and out of the land of the setting of the sun. And I bring them here, and they will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem and will be my people, and I will be their God in truth and righteousness”.

Delitzsch said so eloquently: the exiles were delivered from Babylon in the time of Zerubabel but this “deliverance from all the countries of the earth is still in the future”.

Echoeing Ellen White, Delitzsch said (independently or not independently from Adventism of that time?) “’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” (Delitzsch 1884: 314).

On these verses Ellen White said “The work of which the prophet Zechariah writes is a type of the spiritual restoration to be wrought for Israel before the end of time” (Ellen White, Letter 42, 1912). She is citing from Zechariach 8:7, 8, 9, 11-13.

Ellen White and Franz Delitzsch, the Hebrew scholar is seeing eye to eye here again. Who is saying that Ellen White did not actually write a commentary on the Old Testament since she is just homiletical? Who said that we should not take her seriously. Who said she cannot count to give us exegesis? Good morning. There is homework. Ellen White on Zechariah and Franz Delitzsch Vol. II of 1884 should be side by side. All his friends, Hengstenberg, Köhler and others were still keeping to the biblical text in those days. These men thought that “progressive thinking by higher criticism among scholars” was just a passing fad that would pass away soon. They did not want to have any part in it. Similarly to Ellen White, see Great Controversy.

Another point about the friend of Delitzsch, Hengstenberg: He also used the year day principle to say that the 2300 days of Daniel 8:14 refers to 2300 years and he started it in ca. 408 BCE and ended it in 1898! Were they influenced by Adventists? These were great Hebrew scholars of the Lutheran church.

History confirm that God, Who sees in future, Who proclaims prosperity, Who knows that only a minority will remain faithful, yet, still He describes the restoration in its widest ideally terms despite His foreknowledge that only a small group will remain faithful. The mechanics of salvation do not incorporate the principle of manipulated obedience or pre-determined act-responses. Behind the foreknowledge of God is the mighty humility of God, aligning Himself to selfset borders not necessary to be there. He could make everyone love Him, but He chose to leave everyone with the free choice of deciding their own destiny.

The phrase “and they shall be to me a people and I to them a God” in verse 8c and d is also repeated in Hebrews 8:10. It is in the context of placing the laws in their minds (Jeremiah 31:33).

Saying 6: (verse 9) “Let your hands be strong you that hear in these days the words from the mouth of the prophets on the day that the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid, the temple, that it may be built”.

Rabbi Redak in the 12th century said that these verses must probably be in the eschatological times of the Messiah because of verse 13. Redak is thinking the same as Ellen White here.

In verse 10 the Lord told Zechariah that all building had problems “and I drove all men, one against the other”. It is all about relationship and rejecting the Creator of oneself. Let God be God in one’s life!

“For the sowing is for peace…and I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these” (verse 12).

Delitzsch correctly refers back to Isaiah 65:8. It is the eschatology in mind here although he did not say so. Redak suggested the Messianic times, and he is correct.

“And it shall come to pass that as you were a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you – and you shall be a blessing. Fear not…” (verse 13).

Saying 7: (verse 14) God’s punishments is a real change from judgment to mercy. In love He punishes and in restrictions He love (verse 14).

In verses 16-17 admonitions for a better life is given:

Positive: speak truth to your neighbor

Positive: Judgment of truth and peace executed in you gates

Negative: Do not imagine evil in the heart against your neighbor

Negative: Do not love false oaths

God hates these negative things.

Saying 8: (verse 17) These admonitions is laid down in treaty language since the phrase n’m yhwh is used (verse 17). “Said the Lord”. The Coptic translations of the Achemenic, Sahidic and Bohairic dialects translated it as “saying this” (See Willem Grossouw, The Coptic Version of the Prophets, 1938, page 85).

Saying 9: (verse 18-19) Fasts are dated and mentioned which would in future become cheerful and joy “but love truth and peace”.

Additional to the promise of success and prosperity and the admonitions of the ethical quality expected, this verse supply the change in cultic practices from mourning to joy in the eschaton. To cheerful feasts. Good feasts.

The condition to experience it is “love truth and love peace”.

“though only when the condition mentioned in vers. 16 and 17 has been fulfilled” (Delitzsch 1884: 317). Delitzsch liked Luther’s comments: “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 Jerusalem, all the affliction, for which ye have chosen and kept such fasting shall be forgotten…”

Saying 10: (verse 20) “Yet that there shall come people and the inhabitants of many cities”. The word “yet” was omitted from the Coptic translation. It can also be translated with “unto”.

“Unto what shall nations and the inhabitants of many cities come?” An interrogative if one uses “unto”. Why? Redak in the 12th century said that this refers to the Messianic eschatological day.

Verse 21 is answering this question. The Why expects a “that”.

“And the inhabitants will go to each other and say: ‘Let us go speedily [unto what? Verse 20] to pray before the Lord [conjunctive signaling a chain of sentences] and to seek the Lord of Hosts. I will also [conjunctive signaling a chain of sentences]”.

Maybe Hitzig saw it the way I did but Delitzsch did not like it.

In the eschaton, nations will flow to the church and there will be an increase of becoming faithful ones. Rabbi Malbim suggested that this verse is applicable just before the Messianic Redemption in the eschaton.

Saying 11: (verse 23)  “In those days when ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the skirt of a Jewish person, saying: ‘Let us go with you for we have heard that God is with you”.

Rabbi Malbim said that in the eschaton before the coming of the Messiah all will consider truth as residing with the Jews.

Some may easily be under the illusion that the upbuilding of the country of Israel since 1948 means that Zechariah 8:23 is fulfilled.

The answer is no. God will be with them and the restoration is about truth, about Immanuel = God is with you, about “I [God] will also” be in their midst. Yes, truth was initially given to the Jews. Yes, God was with all their faithful ones. So is God with all faithful ones across the globe who will be gathered for salvation in heart by the Latter Rain experience shortly before the Messiah comes the Second Time.


Dear God

Thank you for Your future promise to be in our midst should we hearken unto Your Torah and listen to Your commandments. We wish to experience that great moment. In Jesus Name. Amen.