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Bible Commentaries

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments

Zechariah 9

 

 

Verses 1-17

Zechariah 9:1. The burden of Hadrach and Damascus. Hadrach, the old name of Hazor, the Hebrews being accustomed to adhere to primitive names of cities and nations. 4:2. Jeremiah 49:28. This kingdom lay east of Damascus, and north of the Ammonites, and extended to the banks of the Euphrates. Damascus was three days’ journey north-east of Jerusalem.

Zechariah 9:2. Hamath, a kingdom, extending from the pass of Lebanon to Antioch, having Emath for its capital.

Zechariah 9:6. A bastard, a foreigner, shall dwell in Ashdod. We have before spoken of the visitations of Tyre and of Philistia by Nebuchadnezzar, four years after the fall of Jerusalem, when Egypt also was overrun. Now, being a little recovered, fresh calamities overtook them by the wars of the Syrian kings, and by the invasion of Asia by Alexander.

Zechariah 9:9. Rejoice greatly, oh daughter of Zion. If God should send a king to comfort Zion in wars and woes, it is no way likely that he should be a bloody warrior, like a destructive inundation, to ravage the country he ought to nourish and protect. Beautiful and striking is the address. Rejoice greatly, shout for joy, oh daughter of Zion. This Messiah, thy long- expected king, comes at last; and unlike the bloody and cruel kings of Chaldea and of Syria, he comes for peace, and not for war; he comes with grace, and not for oppression.

But who is this King? To be certain here is the grand point. The later jews say, Zerubbabel. But he was already come, and was now aged. Besides, he was no king, either in title or in office. Others say, Maccabeus. But neither does he agree in title or character; we know him only in the storms of war and of blood.—The elder, the unbiassed rabbins say, The king Messiah. Rabbi Eliezer, speaking of Abraham’s ass, says, “The ass shall be for king Messiah to ride, as Zechariah hath said.” So the Talmud in Sanhedrim, cap. 11:98, 99. And Nachmanides in Midras on Genesis, cap. 99. And Midras on Koheleth, Ecclesiastes 1:9. Rabbi Saad, Gaon, Abarbinel, affirm in succession, “that it is impossible to interpret this prophecy of any other than the Messiah, for in no other do we see it fulfilled.” Vide Poli Synopsis. Tirinus, a learned jesuit, cites other rabbins in conjunction with these from Galatinus, whose commentary I have not.

The king here mentioned is said to be just. He was so in himself, and effectually so as Mediator. Lowly, riding upon an ass. Travellers in the east, in Spain, and in Swisserland, coincide in their testimonies, that the ass is preferred to the horse in ascending hills. Here the Messiah’s humility is designated; he is meek, and averse to war, having salvation.

Zechariah 9:10. I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim. The kingdom of the ten tribes were expert in war, and in the use of the war chariot, as appears from Jehu’s driving furiously for the destruction of the house of Ahab. The Lord would also cut, off the horse, or the cavalry from Jerusalem. The conquests of the Messiah’s kingdom, which shall extend to the ends of the earth, shall not be effected by martial power nor by human might. The great conquerors have established their empires with fire and sword, and lost them again, after effeminacy of character, by a rëaction of the sword. But the spiritual temple, exalted above the hills, shall not be built with the might and power of arms, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts. The king promised to Zion is therefore the Prince of peace. His servants, after the final wars of Gog and Magog, shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, to trim the vines.

Zechariah 9:11. By the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. In Biblia Polyglotta, and in the best critics, I find a dozen slight variations of reading, but none that affects the sense of the English. Some prefer the present tense or time, as “Thou also art saved by the blood of thy covenant.” Others prefer the future, “I will save thee.” Some jesuits read, accommodating their creed to the pious trade, “I will send forth thy prisoners out of the dry pit,” the fœtid and horrible pit of purgatory, which they contrast with the elysian delights of Abraham’s bosom. Some refer the sense to the emancipation from Egypt, by the blood of the paschal lamb, or to their return from Babylon; but both those countries were well watered. Certainly the words refer to our redemption by Christ, as the sequel proves. They shall look on him whom they have pierced, and mourn. The true comment is given in the ninth of Hebrews, where our eternal redemption is ascribed to the blood of Christ, in having offered himself up once for all.

The pit in which there is no water, no resource, no hope, no help; the fallen and lost estate of man, the whole world lying in the grave of the wicked one. The figure is borrowed from ancient prisons and castles, which had dungeons for prisoners charged with high crimes and misdemeanours. Jeremiah’s feet there sunk in the mire: Jeremiah 38:6. The Bastile of Paris had an iron cage in the dungeon, in which was found the skeleton of a man. I once saw the dungeon in the old jail, in Wine Street, Bristol. It was in this gloomy den that the jail fever broke out, and destroyed both the prisoners and the citizens. This dungeon was noticed by the benevolent HOWARD, a martyr to humanity.

Zechariah 9:12. Turn ye to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope. Four or five of the versions vary the arrangement, and read, the strong hold of hope. Habakkuk sung in the day of trouble, “He will make me to walk upon my high places.” Christ, according to Paul, is that refuge, that strong consolation to the afflicted. Hebrews 6:18. If we follow those who make the church that refuge, as in Isaiah 28:16, the sense is still the same, for Christ and his church are one.

Zechariah 9:13. When I have bent the bow of Judah, strong as the bow of the Medes and the Ethiopians, and as the bow of Ephraim, referring, I presume, to the last wars of the church, when Gog, or the infidels of Asia, of Africa, and of Europe shall be destroyed; then shall the golden age of the Messiah open on the church, and in all the promised glory of the latter day.

Zechariah 9:16. His people—as the stones of a crown. Eminent men shall be raised up in the church, like brilliant stones and costly gems that decorate the royal crown. These may denote prophets, apostles, and eminent saints. Isaiah 54:11. Revelation 21:18-19. The word cannot mean stones of memorial; these have no connection with crowns, but are monuments for posterity.

REFLECTIONS.

While we see in this chapter, fresh denunciations against the cities on all the sea-coast of Syria, on Tyre, on Ashdod, and Gaza, we see Zion rise in the presence of her enemies, because the Lord loved the place of her stones. Jerusalem, joyful in her temple, once more became the mother city of Palestine; and her courts in peaceful intervals, became crowded with worshippers from distant lands.

But the glory of the earthly Zion was faint and transient, compared with the real glory of the heavenly Jerusalem, built on the tops of the mountains, and exalted above the hills. Other empires sink like the swells of a tempestuous ocean; their glory retires in silence to the dust; but the humble kingdom of our Messiah lives through all the revolutions of the earth, and flourishes amidst the four winds of heaven. How joyful was this advent of Christ to the believing remnant, as illustrated in the twenty first chapter of Matthew’s Gospel. There, oh there they saw him weep as a prophet, and heard him speak like a king. He rebuked crimes, he silenced disputers, he sentenced the temple to desolation, till the whole of Zion’s children should join the song, Blessed is the king that cometh in the name of the Lord.

Then hear, oh carnal and giddy world; turn to the strong hold, the refuge of hope. Zion shall yet bend the strong bow against her last enemies. The nation that will not serve her King shall be destroyed; yea, it shall be utterly denationalized. Isaiah 60:12. He will clothe the earth with golden harvests, crown the year with purple vintages, and people all the pastures with flocks and herds. The swains and the damsels shall reap the fields and tread the grapes; yea, he will publish peace to every heathen land, and call them to kneel and worship before the Lord their Maker.

These liberal and glorious words are proofs of divine revelation. Prophets, educated in all the narrow bigotry of their nation, are constrained by the plenitude of the Spirit to forego the long-boasted prerogatives of the synagogue, and open the full tide of evangelical glory on every gentile land. Assuredly this was the Spirit that spake within them, and that fills all our hearts with joy and gladness.

 


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Bibliography Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Zechariah 9:4". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jsc/zechariah-9.html. 1835.

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