The Word Made Fresh
1The LORD’s word is against the land of Hadrach,
and will also come to rest on Damascus.
The capital of Aram belongs to the LORD,
just as do all the tribes of Israel.
2Hamath as well, which shares a border with it;
and Tyre and Sidon even though they are very wise.
3Tyre has built a bulwark to protect itself.
They have piled up silver like sand
and gold like the dirt of its streets.
4Now, however, the LORD will take away their possessions
and throw their wealth into the sea,
and fire will be their destruction.
5Ashkelon will witness this, and they will be filled with fear.
Gaza will tremble in fear also.
Ekron as well, for their hopes have disappeared.
The king in Gaza will perish,
and Ashkelon will be uninhabited.
6Foreigners will settle Ashdod,
and I will put an end to the pride of the Philistines.
7I will take the bloody meat from their mouths
and the unclean food from their teeth.
Ashdod will be a safe haven for God’s remaining people.
They will be as a tribe in Judah.
Ekron will be like the Jebusites.
8Then I will set up my camp to guard my house,
and none will march back and forth;
no enemy will ever again overrun them
for I have now seen the situation with my own eyes.
9Be glad and rejoice, my daughter Zion!
Shout loudly, my daughter Jerusalem!
Look! Your king comes to you,
rejoicing in victory, but humble and riding a donkey,
riding a colt, the foal of a donkey.
10I will wipe out Ephraim’s chariots
and Jerusalem’s war horses.
The weapons of war will be broken,
and I will command the nations to be at peace.
My land will stretch from sea to sea;
from the Euphrates River to the very ends of the earth.
11And because of the covenant of blood I have with you,
I will release your prisoners from their empty grave.
12Come back to the safety of your fortress,
you prisoners who have no hope;
Today I promise that your former wealth will be doubled.
13Judah will be my bow, and Ephraim my arrow.
I will arouse the sons of Zion against the sons of Greece,
and Israel will be like the sword of a soldier.
14Then the LORD will be seen standing over them.
God’s arrow will flash like lightning,
and the LORD God will blow the trumpet
and march in the winds of the south.
15They will utterly overrun the enemy
and trample on the stones that fell from their slings.
They will drink the wine of victory, and rejoice.
They will be filled like bowls of sacrifice,
and drenched like the corners of the altar.
16The LORD their God will rescue them on that day,
for they are God’s flock,
and they are the jewels of the crown
hovering over God’s land.
17God’s goodness is overflowing, and God’s beauty is breathtaking.
God will make Israel’s goodness and beauty overflow.
Grain and new wine will be enjoyed by young men and women.
1-8: These next two chapters are in the poetic oracle form that characterizes much of the prophetic literature. Its abrupt appearance here has caused many scholars to see it as evidence that the remainder of the book is from a different source, and in many commentaries chapters 9-14 are referred to as “Second Zechariah.” Hadrach is not mentioned elsewhere in the Bible, and it is not known whether it is a separate locale or a poetic reference to Aram and Damascus. In general, though, what we have here is a catalogue of cities from Damascus and Hamath down the coast of the Mediterranean to the Philistine cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod (Gath is missing). God owns them all, he says. God claims Aram (verse 1) and Philistia (verse 7). Curiously, Tyre and Sidon are to be destroyed by fire, indicating that God has no use for them, perhaps because their seafaring trade resulted in many of the displaced people of Israel and Judah being dispersed around the Mediterranean.
9-10: Verse 9 is quoted in Matthew 21:5 to anchor Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem firmly in the prophetic pronouncements of a coming messiah. Zechariah says that the coming king, whom he refers to as “Branch” elsewhere, will institute a rule of peace. No weapons will again bring destruction to Israel (Ephraim) and Judah (Jerusalem). In contrast to earlier prophesies about Branch, however, the coming king in these verses will extend his rule “to the ends of the earth.”
11-13: He foresees the time when God’s people will be set free to return to Zion (“your fortress”). The mention of Greece is surprising here, and leads some scholars to speculate that “second” Zechariah may have been written centuries later than the time of Darius, after the whirlwind career of Alexander the Great. But the word translated “Greece” is “Javan,” which can also refer to the Greek colony of Ionia along the western coast of present-day Turkey. The Ionians were seafaring merchants who likely had a large part in the dispersal of the Jewish people following the fall of Israel and Judah.
14-17: In spite of the military imagery in these verses I don’t believe Zechariah means there will be an actual battle between Judah and Greece. He simply means that God will protect them from future enemies so that peace will reign while the nation is being restored to prosperity with an abundance of grain and wine.
The prophets insist that nothing we have ever experienced will be nearly as good as what God wants to give us when we are obedient and faithful.