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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Zechariah 7

 

 

Verses 1-14

Zechariah 7:1. In the fourth year of Darius Hystaspes, in the ninth month, the end of November, a deputation went from Babylon to Jerusalem, a long journey in the beginning of winter, to enquire into and promote the work of the Lord.

Zechariah 7:2. They sent to the house of God, now so far finished as to be open for public worship, Sherezer, a Persian, præfectum Thesauri, the lord treasurer, and Regem-melech, that is, duke, thane, or lieutenant to the king, and their men, to pray before the Lord. Both these deputies came attended with a royal guard, being high in office at the court, as appears from their Persian titles, and their being sent by Darius at the request of the jews who remained in Babylon, that they might officially know the affairs of their own nation.

Zechariah 7:3. Speak to the priests, officiating and attending worship in the house of the Lord, and to the prophets. We know of no prophets by name, except Haggai and Malachi. But we know for certainty that the holy patriarchs delivered at their altars, expositions of the law, recitations of the noble acts of the Lord, as in many of the psalms, accompanied with moral inductions. Job, and his three princely friends, were all prophets of this character. Good men, priests, levites, and others prophesied after the public service was closed in the courts of the temple, in public gardens, and in other places. Thus David says, “I will declare thy righteousness in the great congregation.” But the great synagogue admitted no man into the higher list of inspired seers, except those to whom the Word of the Lord came.

Should I weep in the fifth month, in painful remembrance of the burning of the temple, and the loss of national existence. Jeremiah 52:12-13. The new temple being now almost finished, are not those sorrows turned into joy?—The jews had other fasts, as well as feasts, commemorative of their past afflictions. They had one for the assassination of their prince Gedaliah, and his court, whose murder took away all their hopes. Jeremiah 41. They also fasted in the tenth month, when the Chaldeans, after the defeat of their army, formed their lines about Jerusalem. The jews then fasted and wept indeed. 2 Kings 25:1. They fasted also in the fourth month, when the enemy took the city by storm, and shed the blood of all ages and sexes like water, and burned the temple of the Lord. Micah 3:12, 2Ch_36:17-21.

Zechariah 7:7. When Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity. When the population was so great that the more barren plain to the south, and all the hill country of Judea was full of people, making the deserts laugh with vineyards and harvests. ישׁבת joshabeth is rendered in some versions sitting; the idea of prosperity among the jews being described as sitting under their own vine, and their own figtree. Ancient coins were often struck, with a goddess sitting at ease, to designate peace and prosperity.

Zechariah 7:12. They made their hearts as an adamant stone. שׁמיר shammair, αδαμας. Ezekiel says the adamant was harder than a flint: chap. 3:9. What then can this be but the diamond? When Bergman first attempted to assay the diamond, he found that the particles entered the steel of the hammer and the anvil. Having now been fully assayed by fire, it is found to be purely carbon of the most obdurate formation. A diamond, as used by glaziers, will keep its point for many years.

Zechariah 7:14. I scattered them with a whirlwind. ואסערם vaeisaarem. This word does not fall within the rules of Hebrew Grammar, being partly in Kal, and partly in Niphal. Be that as it may, it is a sublime metaphor, expressing six English words in one. God scattered the jews to Media in the east, and Greece in the west.

REFLECTIONS.

The arrival of those Persian noblemen in Jerusalem, and no doubt with some jews in their train, to make enquiries, gave opportunity to our prophet to give a holy and edifying answer to men who came so far to enquire of God. The fasts to heaven were not in dispute; it was the manner of keeping them which formed the touchstone of the heart. A country once so populous, once so extensively cultivated, and adorned with an enlivened cosmography, now ruined and depopulated, must involve some enquiries respecting the equity of the divine Being. The jews had fasted amidst their feasts, while they had forced the widows to fast without a feast.

Let it be fully noted here, as in twenty other places, that as the earth is the Lord’s, and as the harvests are his gifts, so the blind, the lame, and the weak have just and equal claims for bread. Therefore, as the jews were deaf to the cries of hunger, and to the admonitions of their prophets, Zechariah 7:13; so the Lord was deaf to them when they cried in bitterness of soul, while the besieging army was at their gates. What other ministry could be expected to emanate from a holy God? The true prophets ever spake as “the voice of the rod,” and as the voice of conscience. The people expected sermons like these from their seers.

Here then are models for you, oh evangelists, preachers, and learned scribes. Can you, after a week of riot, of races, gaming and drunkenness;— can you after gross cases of bastardy, seduction, and public wickedness address your auditories in affable dissuasives from vice, and mild persuasives to virtue? Can you approve of the English Preacher, a collection of a hundred sermons from the great preachers of the age, by Enfield, the unitarian? Do our lawyers talk like this editor in their impeachments at the bar? Oh, my brethren, speak of grace in gracious words; but against our reigning crimes let the sanctuary give a fair stroke, “to save yourselves, and those that hear you.” “Cursed be the man that doeth the work of the Lord deceitfully.”

This terrible sermon is followed in the next chapter with a supplement, to heal the wounds made by the sword of the Spirit.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 7:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/zechariah-7.html. 1835.

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