Devotional Commentary on Zechariah 2


Again Zechariah used the phrase “and I lifted up mine eyes and I saw”. This phrase introduced the third vision. The nature of this third vision is so different that when A. Weiser studied it, he was perplexed by it and said that the call to flee in verse 6 [KJV] and verse 10 [Hebrew original] breaks the line of the Third vision.

Zechariah saw a man with a measuring line, or hbl mddh.

He asked the man where he is going (verse 2) and he answered that he is to measure the breadth and length of the city of Jerusalem. We are not told the measures. But it was probably very impressive. The city in the vision was very impressive.

A similar attempt to measure Jerusalem can be found in Revelation 21:15-16. That Jerusalem described in Revelation is the eschatological Jerusalem. Already the eschatological elements are indicated here in Zechariah 2. In fact, let it not be said that Zechariah was referring to some building action that was to be carried out in his own day or to the activities to be carried out by Nehemiah or Ezra. This chapter and these verses of 5-17 is loaded with eschatological elements.

Another angel appeared and the two met (verse 3).

The one who was measuring was a young man and the angel had a special message to him. Then follows the instruction. A very peculiar word przwt is used. The only other place where this word is used is in the exilic prophet Ezechiel 38:11 and there the context implies that it is a land of przwt. Another example is in Esther 9:19 and there it is used to refer to the inhabitants in the cities of przwt people.

In Deuteronomy and Judges it refers to a specific people. Is przwt the Palestine Hebrew form of an Egyptian loanword pr-dt meaning “estate”? What is /d/ in Egyptian will be pronounced /z/ in Zechariah’s time. Normally the correlate of /z/ in Egyptian is /s/. The Egyptian word “time” is sp but in Hebrew zf.

A second possibility is to see the word przwt as the Egyptian loanword pr-wt which is the Egyptian collective noun for houses.

The translation so far should then either read: “estates of Jerusalem will be inhabited” or “houses of Jerusalem will be inhabited”.

The KJV translated it as “towns without walls” but this is not an easy translation. The Syriac translated it form their Aphel form of the verb grs = agwrsa which means “the annilated.” The Syriac reads “the annilated Jerusalem shall be inhabited”. The Coptic has two possibilities due to variants: “Jerusalem, which carried, will be inhabited” or ten other manuscripts which has the reading: “Jerusalem, which is elected, shall be inhabited” (see an old Coptic manuscript published in the Victorian era, Daniel et Les Douze Petits Prophètes page 242 footnote 4).

The line then continued saying: “Estates/houses of Jerusalem will be inhabited from a multitude of people”. The KJV read: “for the multitude of men and cattle therein”.

The consonantal text of the Masoretic Tradition in Hebrew is the text from which most of our Bibles are translated. It is not appropriate to emend the consonantal text for any reason in a light way. The accents can be ignored since they are a late invention. They are Judaistic superimpositions upon the original Word of God that can distort the original intent of God. The chief carrier of the Word of God are the consonants.

Only in highly exceptional cases, because of internal evidence is a minor emendation permissible. Scribes confused the letters /d/ and /r/ and also two forms of /h/ in Hebrew.

“Cattle” for bhmh is not a good choice since by synonymous parallelism on the basis of the word btwkh it does not harmonize.

Zechariah said that His glory shall be “in the midst of her” verse 9 [Hebrew] but 5 [KJV]. He Himself will be “in the midst of them” verse 14 [Hebrew] but 10 [KJV].

See the repetition in verse 15 [Hebrew] or 11 [KJV].

In all these phrases the Lord is involved and all used the word btwkh. Why would “cattle” be also btwkh? The answer is in the next verse. It is stated there that the Lord will be the “wall” of Jerusalem. This word has the root hmh and the suggestion is that the bhmh of verse 8 should be read as bhmh meaning “in the wall”.

Translate then “from a multitude of people in the wall within her”.

The next verse then continue to describe that the Lord is that wall. The parallelism in line with the other verse indicate that the Lord Himself is in Jerusalem “in her midst” or btwkh.

“And I will be to her, says the Lord, a surrounding wall of fire” (verse 5 [Hebrew] and 9 [English]).

The Lord will not only be a wall of fire surrounding the multitude of people but He will be that what belongs to glory with her [city] in its midst.

Most translations left out the translation of the Hebrew hwy repeated twice in this verse. The English gave it as “Ho, ho, and flee from the land of the north…” It could be that this particle is from an Egyptian gloss where hw means “to announce, proclaim, command”. One should then translate: “Proclaim! Proclaim! And flee from the country of the North”.

If one is to follow a very preteristic interpretation here this country of the north would be Babylon because that is where the exilic people were taken. There is a parallelism in verse 7.

A further suggestion in this verse is to see the verbs wnsww m + ‘rs as the Egyptian expression nd m` “to save from”.

Translate thus: “Proclaim! Proclaim! And save from the country of the North”.

That the cognate “save” could be fitting here is supported by the known semitic cognate mlt “deliver” in the parallelism of verse 7.

The Lord has spread them out to the four winds of the heaven. This expression “four winds of the heaven” is a typical Akkadianism very well known in the cuneiform annals of the Assyrian kings like Sargon, Tiglath Pilezer, Sennacherib, Ashurbanipal etc. They normally placed this phrase as part of their boasting introductions to their annals.

In Daniel 8:8 the expression “four winds of the heaven” is also used earlier by Daniel. Daniel was known to have stayed in the Babylonian courts.

The Egyptian and Babylonian cross-cultural influences must have been strong in Palestine during the exile and certain pidgin or creole glosses appeared in the spoken tongue and is reflected here in Zechariah.

In verse 7 Zechariah said: “Proclaim Zion: ‘Inhabitants of the daughter of Babel, be ye delivered”.

A correct translation of verses 6 and 7 would be:

Verse 6

“Proclaim, Proclaim and save from the land of the north”

Verse 7

“Proclaim, be ye delivered inhabitants of the daughter of Babylon”

In verse 7 the Zion motif features strongly. In fact if the Book of Joel is carefully considered there are seven occurrences of Zion. Zechariah is adding to the eschatological chart already presented by Joel.

In this verse the Lord portrays the judgment scene and enters into a description of the executive judgment or Hell event which is the final phase of the overarching judgment concept in scripture. The other phases are: Investigative Judgment since 1844; Confirmatory Judgment during the Millennium; Executive Judgment at the Hell event.

In this vision of Zechariah, the Lord is talking about that phase in the remnant history when the remnant will be in the midst of the New Jerusalem and God is also there and His glory of fire is a protecting wall against the enemies. It is then that the enemies of Joel 3:11-14 prepare themselves for the battle against the Lord in the Valley of Jehoshaphat. It is well known as the Battle of Armegiddo which is also mentioned in Revelation 20.

“For thus says the Lord Almighty: ‘Behind the glory I will be send towards the nations which spoiled you”.

It is God Who send the Lord [Christ the Warrior Messiah] towards the nations and it is the militant God of Psalm 46 that is in battle here with the remnant in the city watching with excitement how their God is destroying evil enemies.

The last part of the verse was a commentary of Zechariah in which the prophet is providing a ratio dicidendi: “for he that touches you touches the apple of His eye”.

In verse 9 Zechariah proceeded with the executive Judgment motif at the Hell event: “For behold, I will shake My hand over them and they shall be a spoil to their servants: and ye shall know that the Lord Almighty has send Me”.

It cannot be said that Zechariah is now clothed with God’s glory and the militant God is now fighting through Zechariah. Such history has never been recorded and it cannot be shown by any evidence that Zechariah had any militant actions or connections.

This language is the eschatological war of Christ the One Who was send by God the Father.

Scholars have misunderstood the verse to read that it is formulae of doubt displayed here in verse 9c [Hebrew 13c] and also in 11c [Hebrew 15c].

Careful analysis shows that the actions are all the Lord’s and not that of the prophet.

In verse 10 Zechariah said: “Sing and rejoice, daughter of Zion, because I come and will be dwelling in your midst”. This action is not Zechariah and cannot be applied to him at all.

The last part of the verse said that it is the Lord Who said these things.

In verse 11 it is clear that Zechariah is switching back and forth between the 1st person and the 3rd person to describe the actions of Yahweh.

Scholars in the past made mistakes by using a scissors, glue and wastebasket method of Higher Criticism to cut whenever there is a fluctuation of persons in the biblical text and then to say it was written by another later re-editor.

In A. K. Grayson, “Assyria and Babylonia” Orientalia 49/2 (1980): 140-194 especially on pages 165-167 there are numerous examples of fluctuation between the first and third persons on well-known Assyrian inscriptions. “In the account of Shalmanezer III’s campaign on the Black Obelisk the narration is in the first person until the thirty first year. At this point an officer of the king, Dayan-Ashur, began to lead the army in the field and the narrative naturally shifts to third person. But almost immediately it shifts back to the first person and then an incongruous fluctuation between third and first person continues through the remainder of the narrative.”

This was a solid inscription and there was no editorial reworkings or second or third hands at work! Other examples are also given.

“And many nations shall be joined to [the Lord] verse 10 in that day and you shall be to Me [first person] a people [remnant] and I will dwell [first person] in your midst and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent Me to you”.

You better believe in the Trinity in the Old Testament otherwise you are going to have trouble here.

It should not be translated or interpreted that these words refer to Zechariah. It will be out of touch with the earlier parts of the vision. The Theology of the verse is suggesting that the Lord Almighty is sending Yahweh [Christ] to the multitudes in Zion or Jerusalem.

Another important point in verse 11 is that the idea of ethnic or DNA Israel as elected group in God’s eyes is not the main point here. “Many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day and shall be to Me as a people”.

All futuristic interpretations or pro-Jewish sentiments or reconstruction of eschatology fades away in this verse.

Zechariah says in verse 12 “And the Lord shall inherit Judah His portion upon the Holy ground and He will choose yet in Jerusalem”.

The KJV translation of “holy land” is not correct. The word ‘rs as land was already used earlier in the chapter so here ‘dmtt refers to “ground”. It is the name Adam = ground not eretz = land.

“Judah His portion” is another epithet for remnant.

The “Holy Ground” is not the country of Palestine. In fact, never since the history of Zechariah has there ever been a period that all the nations were accepted as His people in ‘rs ysr’l. These descriptions are eschatological and refer to the success of the missionary and evangelical work of Christ for the harvest of the King to take place and after the Latter Rain, the harvest of the Spirit.

In verse 13 Zechariah wanted them to be silent: “Be silent, O all flesh, before the Lord for He has raised up from His holy habitation”.

It is remarkable that Psalm 46 in the second part contains similar motifs and are also describing the remnant in Zion while the militant God fights the battle in the executive judgment.

Returning as King of Glory (Psalm 24) the chorus sings back and forth in echoes that the “heads of the portals should be raised”. In verse 9 the remnant ran in order to observe their great God [Christ the Warrior Messiah] fighting, lkw hzw mf`lwt yhwh.

After His return from the Battle a very interesting thing happens. The choir are singing, the remnant are excited and noisy (lkw is an imperative which implies excitement). The returning Hero enter the gates of the New Jerusalem/Zion and instead of accepting applause for His victory, or trophies for His deeds, God/Christ does something that portrays His love towards all creatures – even the damned ones.

God in Psalm 46:11 asked everyone to be silent. Hrpw wd`w.

In this request for silence instead of receiving loud applause is illustrated the God who is not laughing over the death of a human soul and even in His judgment, He displays hurt feelings of One who attends a funeral. Hell has God/Christ in tears.

What a wonderful God!

Also here in Zechariah 13 is the silence mentioned at the eschatological event.

In Zechariah 2:13 also the word hs means “be still”.

Zechariah said that the Lord is raised up in His holy habitation. He is raised up as Victor. But the silence that is requested is because he requested it as a moment for Himself experiencing the death of the wicked. Even in the burning fires of Hell God’s anger implies love!

The word “raised up” in the KJV is correct. It is a rare word and should probably be taken as a niphal form of the semitic transformation of the Egyptian cognate `r meaning “ascend; to mount up; approach”.

Earlier the Egyptian word use to be i`r but later they used `r. Translate thus: “Is been raised up” or “is been ascended”.

The word for habitation is from m`wn and is also not easy to analyze. There is an Egyptian cognate mnw or mnnw which means “fortress” and it could be that in the light of the militant Warrior Messiah actions here described by Zechariah that the Egyptian loanword caused his mind to describe a “holy fortress” of the Lord. It would imply that between Egyptian and the semitic world a metathesis took place of the consonants and the vowels. There are examples of similar cases like the name Tirhaka.

If the word silent = hs above was actually a loanword from an Egyptian cognate, then the whole picture changes. Hs can mean “freeze, turn back”. It would be in the same semantic field of having the remnant stop been noisy or instead of running to the Victor to freeze in their tracks. To stop. To return. It is the same as “be silent” in a way.

A third Egyptian cognate is m hs which means “in meeting [someone]”. Translate thus: “Meet! All flesh, in front of the Lord”.

A fourth option is the Egyptian cognate hsi which means “praise” or “favor”. There is a certain parallelism in verse 10 between the “daughter of Zion” that must sing rnny and “all the flesh” in verse 13 that must sing = hs.

Translate thus: “Sing! All flesh, in front of the Lord because He has ascended His holy fortress”.  

These are all options due to the difficult semantics of a word hs in the text.


Dear God

You are the great God of all creation and even when You have to destroy the wicked in the Hell fire, it will not be without pain of love. O Lord. We truly love you too. In Jesus Name. Amen.