Zechariah 2:1-13 (2:5-17)

Submitted by admin on Thu, 2014-02-06 19:33.

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Zechariah saw another vision. When he raised his eyes, he beheld a man with a measuring cord in his hand. According to verse 4 (verse 8), the man was young, possibly suggesting that he had the eagerness or impulsiveness often associated with youth. (2:1 [2:5])

Zechariah asked the young man, “Where are you going?” He replied that he was going to measure Jerusalem to determine the city’s breadth and length or the entire area. His apparent objective was to establish the boundary of the rebuilt Jerusalem. At the time of the vision, the city continued to be in a state of ruin, without its wall and its gates having been rebuilt. (2:2 [2:6]; compare Nehemiah 1:3; 2:3.)

According to the Hebrew text, the angel who had been communicating with Zechariah departed, and another angel who had arrived on the scene came to meet him. The Septuagint rendering represents the angel who had been talking to Zechariah as remaining where he had positioned himself, for the Greek verb appearing in the text is a form of hístemi, which word can mean “to stand.” (2:3 [2:7])

The angel who had arrived on the scene told the angel who had been Zechariah’s guide and interpreter to run and to say to the young man, “As open regions you will inhabit Jerusalem because of the multitude of men and animals in its midst.” This wording appears to indicate that there would be so many people and domestic animals in Jerusalem that the city would be without a wall to limit its boundaries. Open regions lying outside the walls of fortified towns and cities were not surrounded by confining walls. The Septuagint does not include this aspect but says that Jerusalem would be “fully inhabited.” It would be a city filled with a thriving population. (2:4 [2:8])

In a literal sense, Jerusalem, decades later, became a city with a rebuilt wall. (Nehemiah 1:3; 6:15) Therefore, the message conveyed in the vision appears to apply to a fuller extent to the “Jerusalem above” (Galatians 4:26), which heavenly city has no need for any fortifications. (2:4 [2:8])

Unlike ancient cities that relied on strong fortifications to protect their inhabitants from enemy invaders, Jerusalem would have a far superior arrangement for security. YHWH is represented as declaring that he would be a “wall of fire” around Jerusalem and be a “glory” in its midst. With YHWH as the protector comparable to a “wall of fire” and his glorious or magnificent presence in its midst, Jerusalem would be unassailable. This is especially the case with the heavenly Jerusalem, and all who have this city as their “mother” enjoy a state of matchless security. (Galatians 4:26) No power can deprive persons whom YHWH recognizes as his own of their citizenship in the “Jerusalem above” and the privileges and blessings associated therewith. (2:5 [2:9])

Although the opportunity to return to Jerusalem and the land of Judah had opened up during the reign of Persian king Cyrus, many did not choose to do so. Babylon lay to the east of Jerusalem, but an inhospitable desert stretched for many miles between the two locations. Therefore, the usual route that was taken to Jerusalem and the territory of Judah was first to travel miles to the north of Babylon and then to travel southward to the land of Judah, avoiding a hazardous journey through the barren desert. Therefore, Babylon or Chaldea was called the “land of the north,” for Babylonian forces invaded the land of Judah from the north. The word of YHWH to the Israelite exiles was, “Hey! Hey! Flee from the land of the north,” taking this action to return to Jerusalem and the land of Judah. According to the Hebrew text, YHWH had spread the people abroad to the “four winds of the heavens,” having allowed the Babylonian forces to invade and to conquer the realm of the kingdom of Judah with its capital in Jerusalem, resulting in scattering the surviving Israelites in all directions (the four compass points). The Septuagint rendering indicates that God would be gathering his people from all the directions to which they had been dispersed (“from the four winds of the heaven”). (2:6 [2:10])

The Israelites still in exile are addressed as a group and told, “Hey, [to] Zion! Escape, you the one dwelling with the daughter of Babylon.” In the Hebrew text, there is no preposition preceding Zion, but the Septuagint does have the preposition eis, which, in this context, may be rendered “to.” Babylon is here regarded as the “mother” of the Babylonians or Chaldeans When thus referred to as a woman, Babylon is called “daughter.” From Babylon, the Israelite exiles should “escape” (“deliver [themselves] from” [LXX]) and head to Zion or Jerusalem. The Hebrew text could also be understood to mean that Zion, representing the people, is to make an escape from Babylon. (2:7 [2:11])

After the imperative to escape from Babylon, the words that follow could be rendered literally to read, “For thus says YHWH of hosts [the Lord Almighty (LXX)], After glory he sent me to the nations plundering you, for the one touching you is touching [(is) like one touching (LXX)] the pupil [baváh] of his eye.” The “glory” could designate the glorious or magnificent name YHWH made for himself when Babylon fell and his exiled people were able to return to their land. This development fulfilled the word or message he had inspired his prophets to declare long in advance. After the “glory” that meant deliverance and restoration for God’s people, Zechariah was sent to the nations in the sense that he was commanded to declare the divine judgment against them for plundering the Israelites, the people whom God considered as being his own. As the book of Nehemiah (9:36, 37) reveals, the Israelites who had returned to Jerusalem and the territory of Judah were still subject to a foreign power and could still be regarded as the object of plundering. (2:8 [2:12]; for other ways in which “glory” could be understood, see the Notes section.)

The Hebrew noun baváh does not appear elsewhere in the Scriptures, and the meaning “pupil” has the support of Arabic, a cognate language. In the Septuagint, the corresponding noun is kóre, which in its primary sense means “girl” or “little girl.” Tiny images are reflected in the eyes, and these corneal reflections appear to be the reason the Greek term kóre, when linked to the eye, came to designate the “pupil.” The eye is a cherished member of the body, and any attempt to touch it or to do it harm would not be tolerated. Those whom YHWH recognized as his own people were very precious to him, and so anyone touching them or inflicting injury on them would be like one touching the pupil of his eye and would merit severe punishment. (2:8 [2:12)

YHWH is the one who is represented as shaking his hand to take action against those who would harm his people. On account of his punitive judgment expressed against them, these enemies to whom his people were once subject and who mistreated them would become spoils to them (their former slaves). This reversal from a state of slavery to one comparable to that of a master would constitute retributive justice. When this is fulfilled, the words of the prophet would be vindicated, establishing that “YHWH of hosts” (the Lord Almighty [LXX]) had sent him. (2:9 [2:13])

The “daughter of Zion” is called upon to cry out joyfully and to rejoice. When viewed as the mother of the people or her citizens and, therefore, as a woman, Zion or Jerusalem is referred to as “daughter,” and the people are the ones who would be rejoicing. The reason for the joy is that YHWH would be coming to Zion and taking up residence in the midst of the city, for the rebuilt temple would be his representative place of dwelling. In an even more direct manner, he would be residing in the midst of the heavenly Jerusalem, giving rise to great joy among all the children or citizens of the heavenly city. (2:10 [2:14]; Galatians 4:26, 27)

“In that day” or at the time YHWH would be dwelling in the midst of Zion, people from many nations would join themselves to him. They would attach themselves to YHWH as his devoted servants, and he would acknowledge them as his own people. Persons from many nations did become proselytes and went to the temple in Jerusalem for worship, particularly at the time of the annual festivals. In relation to the “Jerusalem above,” the prophetic words also have been fulfilled. Once the opportunity to become children of the heavenly Jerusalem opened up to non-Jewish peoples, persons from many nations availed themselves of the means to become children or citizens of this heavenly city. They did so by accepting Jesus as the promised Messiah, Anointed One, or Christ, the unique Son of God, and his sacrificial death for them so as to have their sins forgiven. (2:11 [2:15]; Acts 15:7-11; 26:16-18; Galatians 4:26; see the Notes section.)

The thought expressed earlier in verses 9 (13) and 10 (14) is repeated. YHWH would dwell in the midst of Zion or Jerusalem. The fulfillment of the prophetic words would establish that YHWH of hosts (the Lord Almighty [LXX]), the God with hosts of angels in his service, had sent the prophet to Zion (“you,” applying to Zion or Jerusalem as representing the people whom YHWH recognized as his own). (2:11 [2:15])

YHWH is portrayed as coming to inherit Judah as “his portion in the land of holiness.” The end of the desolate condition of the land, with the Israelites again residing there, would mean that YHWH had come to take possession of Judah. In this context, “Judah” may be regarded as applying to the people whom YHWH acknowledged as his own. They were his portion in the land. As the land of his own people and with his representative place of dwelling there in Jerusalem, it was a holy land. YHWH’s again choosing Jerusalem assured that the temple would be rebuilt as his representative residence. (2:12 [2:16])

The proper response “before the face of YHWH” or in his presence is one of reverential silence. This is expressed with the opening interjection that may be translated “hush.” In the Septuagint, the verse starts with a form of the verb eulabéomai, which word refers to one’s having reverential regard, wholesome fear, or respect. The directive to respond in this manner is universal. It is addressed to “all flesh,” indicating that there were to be no exceptions. The reason for reverential silence is that YHWH has “roused himself from the dwelling of his holiness.” This holy “dwelling” is his heavenly residence, and the act of rousing himself denotes that he is about to take action. The Septuagint rendering is more specific in identifying the dwelling as being heavenly. It refers to his rousing himself from his “holy clouds.” (2:13 [2:17])


There is a measure of ambiguity in the wording of verse 8 (12) in relation to “glory.” This has given rise to a variety of renderings. The entire verse has been translated as introducing the words that follow, and the “glory” has been represented as the glorious commission with which Zechariah was entrusted. “These are the words of the LORD of Hosts, spoken when he sent me on a glorious mission to the nations who have plundered you.” (REB) In other translations, the reference to “glory” has been omitted. “For thus said the LORD of hosts (after he had already sent me) concerning the nations that have plundered you.” (NAB) There are also renderings that could be understood to apply “glory” to YHWH himself or to the “angel of YHWH.” “For thus said the LORD of hosts (after his glory sent me) regarding the nations that plundered you.” (NRSV) “For Yahweh Sabaoth says this, since the Glory commissioned me, about the nations who plundered you.” (NJB)

YHWH has been represented as the one sending his angel against the nations, doing so for his own glory. This meaning is made explicit by capitalizing “Me.” “For the Lord of Hosts says this: ‘He has sent Me for [His] glory against the nations who are plundering you.’” (HCSB) Although capitalizing “Me” to apply to the angel, another translation renders “glory” as “shining-greatness” and applies the description to God. “For the Lord of All says, ‘The Lord of shining-greatness has sent Me against the nations which have robbed you in battle.’” (NLV) Another interpretation of the words “after glory” is to view them as meaning that the one sent would be seeking glory for God when sent against the nations. Commentators who understand the “angel of YHWH” to be the Son of God before he came to the earth have linked the words of this verse to future developments relating to him.

In verse 11 (15), the Septuagint says that many nations would be “fleeing to the Lord. These “nations,” or the people from many nations, would then be God’s own people, and they would reside in the midst of Zion.