Zechariah 8:1-23

Submitted by admin on Sun, 2014-03-23 17:24.

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Again the word of “YHWH of hosts,” or a new message from YHWH for Zechariah to proclaim, came to him. The designation “YHWH of hosts,” which identifies YHWH as the God with hosts of angels in his service, is found 17 more times in this chapter (verses 2, 3, 4, 6 [twice], 7, 9 [twice], 11, 14 [twice],18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23). Each time the rendering in the Septuagint is “Lord Almighty.” (8:1)

The message from “YHWH of hosts” was, “I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and with great wrath I am jealous for her.” The Septuagint reads, “I have been jealous for Jerusalem and Zion,” with Zion possibly designating the temple site and Jerusalem the rest of the city. YHWH’s jealousy may include his desire to have the honor of the humiliated and devastated city restored and to have it and the temple rebuilt to represent him properly as his city with his temple. His jealousy would not permit any interference with the successful completion of the construction work. YHWH would be jealous with great wrath against all who might seek to obstruct the completion of the project. They would become the objects of his anger. (8:2)

YHWH promised to return to Zion, particularly the temple upon its being completely rebuilt. He would then take up residence in the midst of Jerusalem as his representative place of dwelling, more specifically in the Most Holy of the rebuilt temple. Jerusalem would then be called the “city of truth” or “trueness,” or the city that was true or faithful to YHWH. With the temple finished as YHWH’s representative place of residence on its elevated site in the city, Jerusalem would be the “mountain of YHWH of hosts, the holy mountain.” As the holy God, he acknowledges that which is “holy” or pure from his standpoint as his own. (8:3)

Jerusalem would be a secure city, enjoying YHWH’s protection and blessing, and the inhabitants would thrive. With many residents attaining advanced age, old men and old women would be seen sitting in the squares or in the streets. To aid them when walking, the aged would have a staff in their hand. (8:4)

There would also be many children in Jerusalem. The squares or streets would be full of boys and girls, enjoying themselves at play. (8:5)

For the remnant of the Israelites who had returned from exile, the transformation of Jerusalem from a city that had been devastated to a thriving metropolis filled with children and many men and women who had attained advanced age would have appeared “extraordinary,” too difficult, or “impossible” (LXX). Through the prophet Zechariah, YHWH raised the rhetorical question, “Should it be extraordinary [impossible (LXX)] also in my eyes?” (8:6)

The obvious answer to the rhetorical question previously raised is, No, it would not be extraordinary or impossible for YHWH of hosts. This question is then followed by his assurance, “Look! I am delivering my people from the land of the rising [of the sun] and from the land of the setting of the sun.” From all the countries in which they may have been scattered, whether lands situated in the east or in the west, YHWH would deliver his people. He would make it possible for them to return to their own land. (8:7)

YHWH would bring exiled Israelites back and have them dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. As persons upon whom he looked with approval, they would become his people, and he would be their God, “in truth and in righteousness.” They would be devoted to him in truth, sincerity, or faithfulness and would live upright lives. He would prove true to his promises to them and reveal himself as the ultimate standard of righteousness in the execution of his judgments and in his just dealings with them. (8:8)

The encouragement from YHWH of hosts for the “hands” of the people to be “strong” was to incite them to be fearless and courageous in the temple rebuilding work despite enemy opposition. The people are referred to as those hearing “these words in these days from the mouth of the prophets.” These “words” related to the rebuilding of the temple, and the prophets Haggai and Zechariah did make them known. Since the day the “foundation of the house of YHWH of hosts” was laid, the words of YHWH remained the same, expressing his purpose for the temple to be rebuilt. (8:9; see the Notes section.)

“Before those days” probably means before the time the rebuilding of the temple resumed. As evident from the prophesying of Haggai (1:4-6, 9-11), neglect of the temple rebuilding work led to the withdrawal of YHWH’s blessing, and this resulted in extremely disappointing harvests. As expressed through Zechariah, there were no wages for man nor for beast. This suggests that the yield of the ground — the produce from the labor of people and their animals — proved to be so meager that there was not enough for the people and the domestic animals to eat to satisfaction. The Septuagint rendering indicates that the wages of the people did not benefit them (apparently on account of being insufficient to procure necessities) and that there were no wages for the animals. (8:10)

Likely on account of the enemies who opposed and hindered the rebuilding work, great insecurity existed in Jerusalem and the surrounding area. This insecurity produced fear among the people, and so no one went out and no one came in. There was no safety from the foe, and the returned exiles appear to have been seriously divided in their views as to how they should proceed respecting rebuilding. As YHWH permitted this situation to develop, he is represented as saying that he set every man “against his fellow” or neighbor. According to the Septuagint rendering, there would not be “peace from tribulation” or distress “for the one going out and the one coming in.” Regarding God, the Septuagint says that he would send all “men” or all people away, “each one against his neighbor.” (8:10)

YHWH of hosts promised that he would not “deal with” (LXX) the remaining ones of his people (the Israelite remnant that had returned from exile) as he had in the former days. During the period of their neglecting the temple rebuilding work, he had not blessed them, and they found themselves facing hard times on account of repeated crop failures. (8:11)

The reference to a “seed of peace” may indicate that the seed that would be sown would do well, leading to an abundant harvest. Another possible meaning is that the sowing would be done in peace, with nothing to threaten the security of those doing the work. Agriculture would thrive. The grapevine would yield its fruit, and the ground would produce its increase from the seed that was sown. (8:12; see the Notes section.)

Dew is essential for there to be a good harvest. During the dry season, the moisture from dew during the night compensates for the moisture that is lost through evaporation on hot days. From the perception of the ancient observer, the dew came from above. Seemingly for this reason, the heavens are spoken of as giving “their dew.” (8:12)

When YHWH’s judgment was expressed against them on account of their failure to carry out his will, the Israelites experienced serious lack. With his blessing, the remnant of his people (the ones who had returned from exile) would enjoy security and abundant crops (“all these things”) as their inheritance from him. (8:12)

During the time of their being in exile and in view of the distressing circumstances in which they found themselves, the people ended up becoming a “curse among the nations.” Their plight caused people of the nations to look upon the “house of Judah” and the “house of Israel” (the Israelites as a whole) as cursed. YHWH promised to deliver them from this undesirable state, causing them to become a “blessing.” Their flourishing condition would make it clear to others that they were a people whom their God had blessed. Having been given YHWH’s assurance that the distressing circumstances of the past would end, they were not to be afraid. According to the Septuagint rendering, they were to “be courageous.” As action was required from them, they were to let their “hands be strong.” Although surrounding peoples opposed the rebuilding of Jerusalem and the temple and the official ban on the rebuilding work was still in effect, they were not to be afraid of boldly going ahead with the reconstruction. Their “hands” needed to be “strong,” indicating that they were to press on courageously with their labor. (8:13)

The “fathers” or ancestors of the Israelites then living in Jerusalem and in the surrounding area had angered YHWH of hosts by disregarding his commands and the admonition he conveyed through his prophets. For this reason, he purposed to do “evil” to them or bring calamity upon them, and he felt no regret about doing so. (8:14)

Just as YHWH had purposed to bring calamity upon his lawless people and did so by allowing the Babylonian forces to desolate the land and take survivors of the military campaign into exile, he purposed (was “prepared” and had “purposed” [LXX]) in the then-present time (“these days”) to do good to Jerusalem and the house of Judah. This assured that the people would once again prosper in their land. They were to look confidently to the future and move forward with the rebuilding of the temple, not giving in to fear on account of opposition. According to the Septuagint, they were to be courageous. (8:15)

If the returned exiles were to prosper, they needed to live in harmony with God’s commands. He required that they speak the truth to one another (their companion or neighbor), shunning any kind of deception that could harm fellow Israelites. Judgments were rendered in the “gates” or in the open areas adjacent to the city gates. With reference to the manner in which the judging was to be done, the expression appearing in the text is, “truth and judgments of peace.” This suggests that the decisions elders made respecting cases brought before them were to reflect truth or to be truly just, honest, or impartial. Others should have been able to recognize that justice had been upheld and that the decisions rendered promoted peace (unlike corrupt decisions that did not end disagreements but gave rise to serious conflicts). (8:16)

In their “heart” (their minds or their inmost selves), the people were not to plot “evil” against one another, not scheming to benefit themselves at the expense of fellow Israelites. To advance a deceptive scheme or to commit fraud, dishonest persons would swear to a lie. The Israelites, however, were not to love false oaths and what could be gained from them. All the things previously mentioned were practices that YHWH hated, indicating that those who engaged in them would incur his anger. (8:17)

Again the “word of YHWH” came to Zechariah. The new message related to the joy that would replace the mourning and fasting over past calamities. (8:18)

The “fast of the fourth [month]” probably commemorated the time the Babylonian armies breached the walls of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:2-4; Jeremiah 52:5-7); that of the “fifth” month, the destruction of the temple (2 Kings 25:8, 9; Jeremiah 52:12, 13), and that of the “seventh” month, the assassination of Gedaliah and the subsequent flight to Egypt out of fear of Babylonian reprisal. (2 Kings 25:22-26) One of two developments may have occasioned the fast of the “tenth” month, either the start of the Babylonian siege of Jerusalem (2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 39:1; 52:4) or the time the report concerning the fall of Jerusalem reached the people who were already in Babylonian exile. (Ezekiel 33:21) These fasts and associated mourning over past calamities would, according to the word of YHWH, be transformed into times of joy and rejoicing and “good appointed times” or festivals. With the city of Jerusalem rebuilt and a rebuilt temple, the Israelites had no reason to mourn and fast to commemorate calamities that had resulted on account of disregard for YHWH’s commands and the admonition he provided through his prophets. It was a time for them to “love truth,” being honest or truthful, and to love “peace” or everything that promoted harmony or security and prevented serious conflicts. (8:19)

The rebuilt temple in Jerusalem, as YHWH’s representative place of dwelling, would be the site to which “peoples and the inhabitants of many cities” would come. This development is expressed as a certainty, for it is introduced with the words, “thus says YHWH of hosts.” (8:20; see the Notes section.)

Inhabitants of one city would go to another city, saying to the people there, “Let us go now [literally, let us go to go] to entreat the face of YHWH and to seek YHWH of hosts. I also will go.” The objective for going to the temple in Jerusalem would be to be recipients of YHWH’s favorable attention as persons wanting to do his will. Those who would be inviting others to go with them would express their determination to do so. According to the rendering of the Septuagint, the inhabitants of five cities would come together in one city and speak to this effect. (8:21)

Israelites would not be the only ones coming to Jerusalem, seeking YHWH of hosts as people desiring his approval and blessing. “Many peoples and strong [many (LXX)] nations” would also be coming to seek him there and to “entreat the face of YHWH.” Those coming would include people from “strong nations” or the dominant populous nations. (8:22)

“In those days,” or at the time, when people from many nations would be seeking YHWH, “ten men from the nations of every tongue” (people speaking languages other than Hebrew) would take hold of the skirt of the garment of a “Jew,” saying, “We will go with you, for we have heard [that (LXX)] God [is (LXX)] with you.” During the centuries that followed the completion of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem, people from many nations did choose to become proselytes and went to Jerusalem for worship, especially for the annual festivals. They recognized that the Jews were the only ones who worshiped the true God, YHWH, and that the Jews were his people. By their choosing to identify themselves as worshipers of YHWH in association with the Jews, people of the nations could be regarded as taking hold of the garment of a Jew and declaring their desire to go with the Jewish people. (8:23)

An even more remarkable fulfillment of the word of YHWH of hosts through the prophet Zechariah began after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to heaven. The Israelites who became Jesus’ disciples, recognizing him to be the promised Anointed One, Messiah, or Christ and the unique Son of God, constituted the Israel of God. Individually, they were true Jews or Israelites. Observing the evidence that God was with them as evident from the operation of his spirit among them, people from many nations responded to the message about Jesus Christ that they proclaimed and chose to become his disciples. Thus, in ever-increasing numbers, people of the nations took hold of the skirt of a Jew, determined to be identified with the Israel of God as followers of Jesus Christ. (8:23)


There is a measure of obscurity in the text of verse 9, including that of the Septuagint. This has resulted in a number of varying interpretive renderings in modern translations. “Take heart, all who now hear the promise that the temple is to be rebuilt; you hear it from the prophets who were present when foundations for the house of the LORD of Hosts were laid.” (REB) “Think about the message my prophets spoke when the foundation of my temple was laid.” (CEV) “You are now hearing the same words the prophets spoke at the time the foundation was being laid for rebuilding my Temple.” (GNT, Second Edition) “Listen to the words that were spoken by the prophets Haggai and Zechariah. They spoke to you when the work on my temple started up again. Let your hands be strong so that you can rebuild the temple.” (NIRV)

In verse 12, The Septuagint opens with the words, “But I will show peace,” indicating that YHWH would assure the peace, well-being, or security of his people.

The partially preserved words of verse 20 in a Greek Minor Prophets scroll (8HevXIIgr) contain the first letter (yod [Y]) of the divine name (YHWH) and refer to YHWH as “YHWH of forces” or of hosts.