Zechariah is identified as the son of Berechiah and the grandson of Iddo. If Iddo is the priest who returned from Babylonian exile with Zerubbabel to the land of Judah, this would mean that Zechariah was a priest and comparatively young when called to be YHWH’s prophet. (Nehemiah 12:1, 4) His prophetic service began in the eighth Jewish month (mid-October to mid-November) of 520 BCE. This was in the second year of the reign of the Persian monarch Darius (also referred to as Darius the Great, Darius I, and Darius Hystaspes). (Zechariah 1:1)
At the same time as Zechariah carried out his prophetic service, Haggai served as YHWH’s prophet. Both men made known their divinely received messages to the people living in Jerusalem and the land of Judah. (Ezra 5:1) As evident from the book of Haggai, they did so in the city of Jerusalem. (Haggai 2:1-3) Before the start of their prophetic activity, unfavorable circumstances existed in the Jewish community. Enemy opposition had greatly interfered with the progress of work on the temple, and the enemies of the Jews finally succeeded in having the Persian monarch officially ban the rebuilding of Jerusalem. This brought a complete stop to the temple rebuilding work. (Ezra 4:4-24) Besides having to deal with the hostility of non-Israelites, many of the Jews suffered economically. Droughts, blight, mildew, and hail led to serious crop failures. As Haggai made clear to them, YHWH had withheld his blessing from them because of their failure to be wholeheartedly committed to rebuilding the temple. (Haggai 1:9-11; 2:17)
After a reference to the fourth year of King Darius (518 BCE), there is no additional dating found in the book of Zechariah. (Zechariah 7:1) From chapter 9 onward, the manner in which the prophetic messages are introduced differs, and there is no further mention of Zechariah, Zerubbabel, Joshua, the temple rebuilding work, visions, or angels. This has led to the widely held view that this section originated from another source or sources. Splitting the book into two parts, however, does not contribute anything significant to an understanding of the contents but has given rise to numerous conjectures (which will not be considered in this commentary).