Devotional Commentary on Zechariah 6


In what is to follow is interpretations I developed on my own but then after consultation with Delitzsch and his friends and Ellen White, I realized that I have made a complete circle arriving at the same place as they were long before I was born. So much time spent when I could have taken a shortcut!

Zechariah saw four chariots between two copper like mountains. The interesting thing about the vision is that the horses were not in front of the chariots but in them. The color of the first set of horses were red. All are symbolic since no historical attachment is made to a literal existence of horse-breeding in his own days. The chariots may be angels that carry these horses in them. Of course if Ezechiel 1's vision is kept in mind, God is on His throne above the firmament over these horses, if we may be allowed to cut and paste information over Zechariah 6 from Ezechiel 1. The vision is placed in the realistic context of "these are the four corners of the heavens coming forth standing beside the Lord of the entire earth" (Zechariah 6:5). This is the license that allows us to paste Ezechiel into Zechariah or fuse Ezechiel and Zechariah into one new hybrid of understanding.

What are the horses then? A very interesting suggestion was made in the Middle Ages by two rabbis, one who suggested that they are the four kingdoms or empires Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Edom or Ismael (Rashi) and one who suggested that they are the four kingdoms Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greece and Rome (Redak). Seventh Day Adventists will find closer understanding with Redak's view and will modify it to include both pagan and ecclesiastical Rome. 

Zechaiah 6 Babylon.jpg

Red horses depicting the Babylonian empire

Zechariah 6 Persia.jpg

Black horses depicting the Medo-Persian empire

They moved to the northland meaning that Iran is south of Iraq and that is from where the Medo-Persians went against Babylon.

Zechariah 6 Greece.jpg

White horses depicting the Greek empire and they also went to the Northland to conquer the Medo-Persians

Zechariah 6 Rome.jpg

Spotted horses depicting both pagan Rome (ending officially in 538 BCE and the Holy Roman empire ending officially in 1798)

This empire asked to go all over the world and they did. We find them in 1798 all over the New World (Australia, New Zealand, United States, South America, South Africa etc.). Catholicism's understanding of the word "mission" was originally the word "propaganda" and a document originated at the time of the discoveries of the modern world of new areas across the globe. Catholicizing the New World was considered mission. Since Catholicism is a political-religion, the meaning of propaganda or mission for them is a political control aspect as well. It is not only a spiritual or vertical dimension but an attempt by whatever it takes, to control the horizontal levels of societies as well. A church building or a cross is for them a sign that the kingdom of God reigns in an area. It is not merely the presence of people who is loyal to God as we find it in Seventh Day Adventism, but it is an attempt to gain control of all levels of society to protect, secure, and advance their own institutions. Because the horses are spotted, the spots area may denote pagan Rome but the remainder will be the next empire, the Holy Roman Empire that was to exist for 1260 years between 538-1798.


What it meant and what it means

What we have here is the awesome thought that all the world empires, including the follow-up of the deadly wound of the Holy Roman empire in 1798, namely the USA as world empire (Revelation 13, the second beast), is that all these empires are within the wagon or chariot of angels under the control of God who is on the firmament on His throne. The navigation is from God who steers empires for His purpose to fulfill a role in history that will provide the answers to the origin of evil by Lucifer, now Satan, who is just actualizing what he inherently became.

Should we have any trouble all over the world by nations and countries and ideologies, we have this comfort that angels are the chariots for these countries, nations, ideologies to exist in and as empires of the past risen and fell by God's decision, so these modern ones can also.

We have thus nothing to fear, except we forget how God has led us in the past. (EGW)


Zechariah 6 and God in control of World Empires


The book of Zechariah is a fascinating piece of work by a prophet after the exile. In a series of visions he saw so much of history laid out on a table of time for him, that it also includes us. It is therefore important for us to look at one of his visions, Zechariah 6:1-8 that deals with what we have portrayed in picture form below.

Zechariah said that he saw four chariots between two copper-like mountains. Since the chariots are moving north and south one may assume that the two copper mountains are on the east and west. The rising and setting sun gives a copper appearance on the horizons on each side but it is possible that he did not have that in mind here. He saw red horses, black horses, white horses and spotted horses. The interesting thing is that the horses are in the chariots not in front of it. The chariots contain the horses. This is very remarkable since in Habakkuk 3 we have the picture of the day of the Lord and in that eschatological theophany, God appears with angels and move over the mountains like in chariots with horses. The chariots in Zechariah 6 are then also angels in the form of chariots but that contain the horses. The horses are in the chariots.

When Delitzsch (1884) came to this part of chapter 6, he considered the view of Hoffmann and Kliefoth of combining the colors with the empires. He then said: “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”. He felt that the angel said it is the wind-directions thus pointing to the four quarters of the globe but not to four empires rising one after the other.” (Delitzsch 1884: 289-290).

In my view, they do represent the four empires of Daniel. The expression in verse 5 “four winds of heaven that goes out” ‘rb` rwt hšmyn yw’wt. It is a very common expression for the Neo-Assyrian rulers like Sargon II and Sennacherib to call themselves rulers of the “four winds of the earth”. In Daniel 8 the expression is used in verse 8 thtyh l’rb` rwwt hšmym. In that verse the goat became great and the great horn was broken and four notable ones came in its place. These came up towards the four winds of the earth.

Kliefoth and Hoffmann felt that these nations, the Babylonians and Medo-Persians went out to fulfill their judgment of the previous empire, Babylon for the Assyrians and Medo-Persia for the Babylonian empire’s fall (see Delitzsch 1884: 290).

In analogy with Daniel 8:8 one would expect the four chariots of Zechariah 6:1 to be of the same reference.

The red horses symbolize Babylon who sacked Ashur in 612 BCE and the Black horses symbolize Medo-Persia in 536 – 331 BCE who also went north to sack Babylon. Then the White horses symbolize the Greek empire. In Daniel’s vision, the Greek empire was divided in four.

Seemingly Zechariah’s vision ends with the Roman empire (pagan and holy Roman empire, because it was spotted, thus until 1798) which is seen in Daniel as the “Time of the End”.

When Zechariah came to the interpretation of these four chariots, he started with the Black one and not the red one at all in verse 5. Why? Because the Babylonian empire was past in 539 BCE. Delitzsch disagrees though but the continued existence of people in and near Babylon after the takeover by Persia and rebellions from there, cannot be interpreted as “empire” any longer. Sorry Delitzsch.

Rabbi Redak in the 12th century thought that the black horses represent Persia and Media also. He also felt that the white horses represent Greece. The spotted horses Redak also saw as Rome. We are in good company here with the explanation. It was Julianus Caesar, emperor of Rome who commenced the war against in Egypt against the Greeks. That was south.

The spotted ones [Rome] “went to the southland”(verse 6). The “ash-colored ones begged “to go to walk to and fro on the earth” (verse 7). The Lord gave him permission to “walk to and fro on the earth” and that is what the Roman empire did in both the pagan and Vatican-controlled empires of Rome until 1798.

Constantine and his wife Theodora built churches left right and center of the globe of their day and many churches are evidence of that.

In verse 8 a voice came saying: “Look those going to the northland eased My Spirit in the northland.” Rabbi Rashi explained it thus: “They caused My anger to subside in Babylon when they destroyed Belshazzar and Nebuchadnezzar’s descendants”. He based it on Isaiah 48:14 saying “the Lord loves him who shall do His will in Babylon”.

Up to this point in verse 8 ending, 539 BCE is in mind.

A preteristic historical event is explained to Zechariah in 520 BCE saying that from the exiles certain families should be taken with Zechariah and they should come to the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah who have come from Babylon. The Lord wants from Zechariah and some helpers a symbolic act as prelude to the building of the temple at that time.

It can rightfully be seen in these verses that the purpose is to set up an agenda for the construction of a temple.

It is good to look at a request by Jews to Darius later on the 25th of November 407 for the building of a temple at that time. There is an extra-biblical inscription (See Cowley no. 32) in which they requested to build a YHW temple at Elephantine in Egypt.

What happened here is mindboggling. Zechariah wrote in 520 BCE and these Jews in 407 BCE but there are some correlations in their actions and the names involved.

Some of the names correspond in Zechariah 6 with witnesses that wrote the letter of request to Darius in 407 BCE from Elephantine and not Jerusalem.

Cowley 32:18 Anani = n (Zechariah 6:14); Cowley 32:1 Jedaniah the priest = yd`yh (Zechariah 6:10, 14); Cowley 32:1 [recto] Delaiah [dlyh] = Heldai [hldy] (Zechariah 6:10); Cowley 33:5 Hoshea hws` = Josiah yhws` (Zechariah 6:11).

The name Deliah or dlyh can be found at stratum V destruction level of Tiglath-Pilezer III in 732 BCE at Hazor on a jar-fragment ldlh displayed in the Hazor Museum at the entrance to Kibbutz Ayelet Hashahar. Just stop there and get off the bus.

Did some of these names that Zechariah had to find in Jerusalem resettle in Elephantine island in Egypt so that their children’s names can be found in houses there? From a papyrus from Assouan the groups of houses of these Jews were distributed in such a way that Gadol ben Ošea is on the eastern side and next to him Meshullam. On the western side is Hanul son of Zechariah and in the south is the house of Hoshea ben Urija. Hoshea is one of the names as witnesses on the Elephantine papyrus no. 32 of Cowley as was shown above.

(see A. van Hoonacker 1915, page 15 for the street-plan drawing on the papyrus). It is about a Jewish community at Elephantine in 407 BCE.

This is not to say that the names in Zechariah are these names at Elephantine.

In verse 11 a silver and gold crown must be made and placed upon the head of Joshua the son of Jehozadak the High Priest. To crown a priest is unusual. It was not their function. The Messianic role and function of Christ must be brought into focus here as Delitzsch 1884 in his commentary quickly understood. Christ would be priest and after His High Priestly role since 1844 in the Investigative Judgment as Son of Man before the Ancient of Days [Father] He would be crown as King of Kings and Lord of Lords according to the Book of Revelation.

In Daniel 8:14 the root zdk played an important role. The hapax legomenon is used: nzdk. The root is found in yhwzdk the father of Joshua probably a contemporary of Daniel. There was a similar name in Moab since one of the Moabite seals read about a century earlier lkmšṣdq. Kamosh is righteous or cleansed. Kamosh was the Moabite god. The father of Joshua’s name is Yahweh is righteous or cleansed. The temple was to be righteous or cleansed as a process during the Investigative Judgment since 1844 (see Daniel 8:14).

John Bright said that the name yhwš` has a Messianic theme here. Kittel and Morgenstein said that Bright suggestion is a problem since it is an argument argumentum ex silentio. Another scholar said it is Zerubabel whose name is changed to Joshua. Elliger said it is another writer who inserted this. Weiser thought it is Zechariah himself.

Delitzsch said that you cannot put two crowns, a silver one and a gold one on a person’s head. He said that there is no sharp distinction between the priest who receives the crown in verse 11 and the Messiah of verse 13 (Delitzsch 1884: 298).

Then the Lord told Zechariah in verse 12 “Behold a man whose name is Shoot [Tsemach] and from His place will He sprout up, and build the temple of Yahweh”.

Delitzsch is onto something here. He says that putting a crown on a priest which should not rule over people or judge people indicate that the action is typical (Delitzsch 1884: 299).

Joshua is typical of Christ who is antitypical. Above was already said how Christ will be priest and king together in future.

In Jeremiah 33:15 the Messiah is called Tsemach.

“It also contains the allusion to the fact that He will grow from below upwards, from lowliness to eminence” said Delitzsch correctly.

Köhler, Hengstenberg and Tholuck as well as Delitzsch understood this temple to be not a physical temple on earth but a spiritual temple of which the physical ones were types. They thought that Christ would build His church and that is the temple (Delitzsch 1884: 299 citing 1 Peter 2:5; Hebrews 3:6 and Ephesians 2:21-22).

The Tsemach = Sprout = Christ is to show the glory of the temple.

“He who will build the temple, the Same will carry eminence”.

Ellen White cited Zechariah here and said: “‘He shall bear the glory’ To Christ belongs the glory of redemption for the fallen race. Through the eternal ages, the song of the ransomed ones will be, ‘Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood, . . . to Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever.’ Ellen White in The Great Controversy,page 416.

Verse 13 “and He shall build the Temple of the Lord and He shall bear glory. And He shall sit and rule on His throne and the Priest shall be on His throne”.

Think about the Trinity for a second. In Acts when Stephen was martyred he said he saw the heavens opened and the Son of Man sitting with the Father on the same throne. But, at that time Christ was Priest in the Holies as mediator for sinners becoming faithful and after His heavenly sanctuary work and functions He will become King of Kings at the Door of Mercy closing, which is the end of the sanctuary work.

It is all here. There is also consistency in theology of Stephen and Luke who wrote it and Zechariah and what Adventism is preaching about these situations. And Delitzsch came here close to it.

Back in Zechariah’s day, the crowns that were made was to be a memorial of the antitypical work of Christ in Heaven on their behalf. It would be in the earthly temple but just a type of what the Sprout to come would do and accomplish as Priest and King (verse 14).

“And distant ones shall come and build in the temple of the Lord and you shall know that the Lord of Hosts sent me to you. And it shall come to pass if you hearken to the voice of the Lord your God.” (verse 15).

Delitzsch et al felt that the temple is the Christian Church and that the distant ones were in Zechariah’s day from Babylon and is a type of the thousands of distant nations becoming Christian in future helping to build the temple/Christian church. They do so with their means and financial support.

To become a partaker is to hearken to the voice of the Lord (Delitzsch 1884: 310).

Says Ellen White: “The work of Christ as man's intercessor is here presented. By His sacrifice and mediation, Christ is both the foundation and the builder of the church of God, the temple of God. Zechariah ‘speaks of the Gentiles as helping in the work: 'They that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the Lord;’ and Isaiah declares, ‘The sons of strangers shall build up thy walls.’” Ellen White in The Acts of the Apostles, page 595.

Again Delitzsch the scholar and Ellen White the inspired author by the Holy Spirit are seeing interpretations eye to eye here.


Dear God

Somehow we think Delitzsch is the closest here to the truth of the matter and if so, keep us listed in your engraved Hand when You plead before the Father for the forgiveness of all sins and broken habits. In Jesus Name. Amen.