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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

Zechariah 5

 

 

Verse 1

Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll.

The fraudulent and prejuring transgressors of the law shall be extirpated from Judea.

Behold, a flying roll - of papyrus or dressed skins, used for writing on when paper was not known. It was inscribed with the words of the curse (Deuteronomy 27:15-26; Deuteronomy 28:15-68). Being written implied that its contents were beyond all escape or repeal (Ezekiel 2:9). Its "flying" shows that its curses were ready swiftly to visit the transgressors. It was unrolled, or else its dimensions could not have been seen (Zechariah 5:2). Being open to all, none could say in excuse he knew not the law and the curses of disobedience. As the previous visions intimated God's favour in restoring the Jewish state; so this vision denounces judgment, and intimates that God, notwithstanding His favour, could only condemn their sins. Being written on both sides, "on this and on that side," Zechariah 5:3 (Vatablus), connects it with the two tables of the law (Exodus 32:15), and implies its comprehensiveness. One side denounced "him that sweareth falsely (Zechariah 5:4) by God's name," according to the third commandment of the first table, which sets forth man's duty to God; the other side denounced theft, according to the eighth commandment, which is in the second table, that sets forth the duty to one's neighbour.


Verse 2

And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits.

I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits - 30 feet by 15, the dimensions of the temple porch (1 Kings 6:3), where the law was usually read, showing that it was divinely authoritative in the theocracy. Its large size implies the great number of the curses contained. The Hebrew [ m


Verse 3

Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth. To those who will not repent of their sins, Christ, at His second advent, shall come, and smite them with a curse (Malachi 4:6). The Gentiles are amenable to the curse of the law, as they have its substance, so far as they have not seared and corrupted conscience, "written on their hearts" (Romans 2:15). The word for "earth" may be translated 'land'-namely, 'over the face of the whole land of Judea.' But the curse on the transgressors, though falling (in the design of the prophecy primarily) on Judea (compare the next vision, Zechariah 5:5-11), applies ultimately to all the earth, from which it is God's purpose at last to remove and "gather out all things that offend, and them which do iniquity" (Matthew 13:41).

For every one that stealeth shall be cut off , [ niqaah (Hebrew #5352)] - literally, cleared away.

As on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it

- i:e., on both sides of the roll (Vatablus). Or, from "this place ... from this place (repeated twice, as "the house" is repeated in Zechariah 5:4). (Maurer.) So [ mizeh (Hebrew #2088)] the same Hebrew "hence" is used, Genesis 37:17 (or, "on this and on that side," i:e., on every side). (Henderson.) None can escape, sin where he may: for God from one side to the other shall call all without exception to judgment (Calvin). God will not spare even "this place," Jerusalem, when it sins (Pembellus). The English version seems to take Vatablus' view.

According to it - according as it is written.


Verse 4

I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

I will bring it forth, saith the Lord of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name. The 'theft' immediately meant is similar sacrilege to that complained of, the withholding of their due portions from the Lord's servants, the Levites (Nehemiah 13:10); and the withholding of the due tithes and offerings from the Lord (Malachi 3:8). They robbed God by neglecting to give Him His due in building His house, while they built their own houses, forswearing their obligations to Him; therefore, the "houses" which they build shall be "consumed" with God's "curse." Probably literal theft and perjury accompanied their virtual theft and perjury as to the temple of God (Malachi 3:5). Stealing and perjury go together; because the covetous and fraudulent perjure themselves by God's name without scruple (see Proverbs 30:9).

And it shall enter into the house. In vain they guard and shut themselves up who incur the curse; it will inevitably enter even when they think themselves most secure.

And shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof - not leaving a vestige of it. So the "stones" and "timber" of the house of a leper (the type of the sinner) were to be utterly removed (Leviticus 14:45 : cf. 1 Kings 18:38).


Verses 5-11

Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth.

Wickedness and idolatry removed from the Holy Land to Babylon, there to mingle with its kindred elements.-The ephah was the Hebrew dry measure containing about a bushel, or seven and a half gallons. Hereby the allusion is to the previous vision as to theft and perjury: the ephah which, by falsification of the measure, they made the instrument of defrauding, shall be made the instrument of their punishment (Grotius). Compare "this is their resemblance" (Zechariah 5:6 ) - i:e., this is a representation of what the Jews have done, and what they shall suffer. Their total dispersion ("the land of Shinar" being the emblem of the various Gentile lands of their present dispersion) is herein foretold, when the measure (to which the ephah alludes) of their sins should be full. The former vision denounces judgment on individuals; this one, on the whole state: but enigmatically, not to discourage their present building (Pembellus). Rather, the vision is consolatory, after the preceding one (Calvin). Idolatry and its kindred sins covetousness and fraud (denounced in vision of the roll), shall be removed far one Holy Land, to their own congenial soil, never return (so "I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day," Zechariah 3:9; Isaiah 27:9; Isaiah 52:1; Isaiah 60:21; Jeremiah 50:20; Zephaniah 3:13). For more than 2,000 years, ever since the Babylonian exile, the Jews have been free from idolatry; but the full accomplishment of the prophecy is yet future, when all sin shall be purged from Israel, on their return to Palestine and conversion to Christ.

Verse 5. Then the angel that talked with me went forth. The interpreting angel had withdrawn, after the vision of the roll, to receive a fresh revelation from the Divine Angel to communicate to the prophet.

Verse 6. This is their resemblance , [ `eeynaam (Hebrew #5869)] - literally, eye (cf. Ezekiel 1:4-5; Ezekiel 1:16). Hengstenberg translates, 'their (the people's) eye' was all directed to evil. But the English version is better. 'This is the appearance

(i:e., an image) of the Jews in all the land' (not as the English version, "in all the earth") - i:e., of the wicked Jews.

This - here used of what was within the ephah, not the ephah itself. 'This represents at once the Jews' sin and their consequent punishment.' (See note above, Zechariah 5:5-11.)

Verse 7. Behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead. The cover is lifted off the ephah, to let the prophet see the female personification of "wickedness," shut up within like some savage beast, about to be removed from Judea. The cover being "of lead," implies that the "woman" cannot escape from the ponderous load which presses her down.

Talent , [ kikar (Hebrew #3603)] - literally, a round piece; hence, a talent, a weight of 125 lbs. troy.

And this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah - (cf. for the comparison of "wickedness" to a woman, Proverbs 2:16; Proverbs 5:3-4). In personifying abstract terms, the feminine is used, as the idea of giving birth to life is associated with woman.

And he said, This is Wickedness - literally, the wickedness: implying wickedness in its special development. Compare "the man of sin," 2 Thessalonians 2:3.

And he cast it into the midst of the ephah - i:e., He cast her, Wickedness, who had moved more freely while the heavy lid was partially lifted off.

And he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof - "the weight," literally, the stone - i:e., round mass.

Verse 9. And, behold, there came out two women. The agents to carry away the "woman" are, consistently with the image, "women." God makes the wicked themselves the agents of punishing and removing wickedness. "Two" are employed, as one is not enough to carry such a load (Maurer). Or, the Assyrians and Babylonians, who carried away idolatry the persons, respectively, of Israel and Judah (Henderson). As two "anointed ones" (Zechariah 4:14) stand by the Lord as His ministers, so two winged women execute His purposes here in removing the embodiment of "wickedness:" answering to the "mystery of iniquity" (the Septuagint here in Zechariah use the same word [ hee (Greek #3588) anomia (Greek #458), 'iniquity,' or lawlessness] as Paul), and "that Wicked" one [ ho (Greek #3588) anomos (Greek #459)], "the man of sin," whom the Lord shall destroy with the spirit of His mouth and the brightness of His coming (2 Thessalonians 2:3; 2 Thessalonians 2:7-8). In Zechariah's view wickedness is still in its state of 'mystery' - i:e., not developed and manifested. In Paul's view wickedness, which was heretofore in mystery, is hereafter to be embodied in Antichrist, the revealed "man of sin, the Wicked one."

And the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork. Their "wings" express velocity. The "stork" has long and wide wings, for which reason it is specified; also, it is a migratory bird. The "wing" helps the rapid motion of the wings.

And they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. The being "lifted up between heaven and earth" implies open execution of the judgment before eyes of all. As the "woman" here is removed to Babylon as her own dwelling, so "the woman" in 'the Apocalypse' of John is Babylon (Revelation 17:3-5, "a woman upon a scarlet-coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy ... upon her forehead a name written, 'MYSTERY, BABYLON the great, the mother of harlots and abominations of the earth.' "

Verse 10,11. Whither do these bear the ephah? And he said unto me, To build it an house fix the land of Shinar - Babylonia (Genesis 10:10), the capital of the God-opposed world-kingdoms, and so representing in general the seat of irreligion. As the "building of houses" in Babylon (Jeremiah 29:5; Jeremiah 29:28) by the Jews themselves expressed the long exile there, so the building of an house for "wickedness" there implies its permanent stay.

And it shall be established, and set there upon her own base - fixed there as in its proper place. "Wickedness," being cast out of Judah, shall forever dwell with the Antichristian apostates (of whom Babylon is the type), who shall reap the fruit of it, which they deserve. They and wickedness concentrated shall be given up to everlasting desolation, like Babylon of old (Isaiah 34:13).

Remarks:

(1) The law of God is the "flying roll," inscribed with a "curse" upon all transgressors. The word of God "runneth very swiftly" (Psalms 147:15). None that are guilty injustice toward man, or of open or virtual dishour to God, can escape. The "curse" which is "according to" the written Word of God, cuts off all the unrighteous and the ungodly "on this side" and "on that side" (Zechariah 5:3). We need to realize in thought all the terrors of the curse, in order that we may the more intensely desire and seek deliverance from it. If sinners would think of the awful curse hanging over their heads, and ready at any moment to descend with the rapidity of the lightning-flash, how gladly they would shelter themselves under the cross of Him who bore the curse for us, and so they would escape from the wrath to come!

(2) Dishonesty and perjury, and all neglect of the obligations which men owe to God, are a kind of deadly leprosy, which "remains in the midst of" their "house." Sin brings with it a curse that must soon or late "consume" sinners, with all their ill-gotten gains (Zechariah 5:4).

(3) The unjust measure had been one of Judah's leading sins, and so it was in just retribution their punishment (Zechariah 5:6). They who had dealt treacherously with others were dealt treacherously with themselves (Isaiah 21:2; Isaiah 33:1). What measure men mete to others God metes to themselves.

(4) The ephah, too, implies that when the full measure of apostasy shall have been filled up, both in the literal and the spiritual Israel, then it shall be shut up as the female personification of "wickedness cast into the midst of the ephah," and a "weight of lead upon the mouth thereof" (Zechariah 5:7-8). This gives comfort to all who "wait for the consolation of Israel" (Luke 2:25). The evil on every side, which now thwarts the godly in all their efforts for the glory of God, shall not always be allowed to harass His children. Wicked men shall be made the instruments of punishing the wicked (Zechariah 5:9). The God-opposed agents of evil, with all their Wickedness, shall be removed. "The Son of man shall send forth His angels, and they shall gather out of His kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity (Matthew 13:41). "The man of sin," "that wicked" one, "the son of perdition," the second Judas, shall go to "his own place" (compare Zechariah 5:11, "upon her own base," with Acts 1:25). Then shall the land of Israel be indeed "the Holy Land," and its sanctity shall diffuse itself throughout the whole earth. Let sinners tremble lest guilt unremoved should sink them to hell as their own place. Let all rather take their portion with the true Israel of God, and avoid Babylon's pollutions as they would avoid Babylon's condemnation.

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 5:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/zechariah-5.html. 1871-8.

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