New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Call for Obedience. 1 In the second year of Darius,[a] in the eighth month, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: 2 The Lord was very angry with your ancestors.[b](A) 3 Say to them: Thus says the Lord of hosts, Return to me—oracle of the Lord[c] of hosts—and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. 4 Do not be like your ancestors to whom the earlier prophets[d] proclaimed: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Turn from your evil ways and from your wicked deeds.(B) But they did not listen or pay attention to me(C)—oracle of the Lord.— 5 Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, can they live forever? 6 But my words and my statutes, with which I charged my servants the prophets, did these not overtake your ancestors?(D) Then they repented[e] and admitted: “Just as the Lord of hosts intended to treat us according to our ways and deeds, so the Lord has done.”
First Vision: Horses Patrolling the Earth.(E) 7 In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, the eleventh month,[f] the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:
8 [g]I looked out in the night,[h] and there was a man mounted on a red horse standing in the shadows among myrtle trees; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9 I asked, “What are these, my lord?”[i] Then the angel who spoke with me answered, “I will show you what these are.” 10 Then the man who was standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are the ones whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.”(F) 11 And they answered the angel of the Lord,[j] who was standing among the myrtle trees: “We have been patrolling the earth, and now the whole earth rests quietly.” 12 Then the angel of the Lord replied, “Lord of hosts, how long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?”[k](G) 13 To the angel who spoke with me, the Lord replied favorably, with comforting words.
Oracular Response. 14 The angel who spoke with me then said to me, Proclaim: Thus says the Lord of hosts:
I am jealous for Jerusalem
and for Zion[l] intensely jealous.(H)
15 I am consumed with anger
toward the complacent nations;[m]
When I was only a little angry,
they compounded the disaster.(I)
16 Therefore, thus says the Lord:
I return to Jerusalem in mercy;(J)
my house[n] will be rebuilt there(K)—oracle of the Lord of hosts—
and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.
17 Proclaim further: Thus says the Lord of hosts:
My cities will again overflow with prosperity;
the Lord will again comfort Zion,
and will again choose Jerusalem.(L)
Second Vision: The Four Horns and the Four Smiths. 1 I raised my eyes and looked and there were four horns.[o] 2 Then I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are those?” He answered, “Those are the horns that scattered[p] Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem.”(M)
3 Then the Lord showed me four workmen.[q] 4 And I said, “What are these coming to do?” And the Lord said, “Those are the horns that scattered Judah, so that none could raise their heads any more;(N) and these have come to terrify them—to cut down the horns of the nations that raised their horns to scatter the land of Judah.”
Third Vision: The Man with the Measuring Cord. 5 I raised my eyes and looked, and there was a man with a measuring cord[r] in his hand.(O) 6 I asked, “Where are you going?” And he said, “To measure Jerusalem—to see how great its width is and how great its length.”
7 Then the angel who spoke with me advanced as another angel came out to meet him 8 and he said to the latter, “Run, speak to that official:[s] Jerusalem will be unwalled, because of the abundance of people and beasts in its midst.(P) 9 I will be an encircling wall of fire[t] for it—oracle of the Lord—and I will be the glory in its midst.”(Q)
Expansion on the Themes of the First Three Visions. 10 Up! Up! Flee from the land of the north[u]—oracle of the Lord;—For like the four winds of heaven I have dispersed you—oracle of the Lord.(R) 11 Up, Zion! Escape, you who dwell in daughter Babylon! 12 For thus says the Lord of hosts after the Lord’s glory had sent me, concerning the nations that have plundered you: Whoever strikes you strikes me directly in the eye.(S) 13 Now I wave my hand over them, and they become plunder for their own servants.(T) Thus you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me. 14 Sing and rejoice, daughter Zion! Now, I am coming to dwell in your midst—oracle of the Lord. 15 Many nations will bind themselves to the Lord on that day.(U) They will be my people,[v] and I will dwell in your midst. Then you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 16 The Lord will inherit Judah(V) as his portion of the holy land,[w] and the Lord will again choose Jerusalem. 17 Silence, all people, in the presence of the Lord, who stirs forth from his holy dwelling.(W)
Prophetic Vision: Joshua the High Priest. 1 Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, while the adversary[x] stood at his right side to accuse him.(X) 2 And the angel of the Lord said to the adversary, “May the Lord rebuke you, O adversary; may the Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!(Y) Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”(Z)
3 [y]Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clad in filthy garments. 4 Then the angel said to those standing before him, “Remove his filthy garments.”(AA) And to him he said, “Look, I have taken your guilt from you,(AB) and I am clothing you in stately robes.” 5 Then he said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” And they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the garments while the angel of the Lord was standing by. 6 Then the angel of the Lord charged Joshua: 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you walk in my ways and carry out my charge, you will administer my house and watch over my courts;[z] and I will give you access to those standing here.”
Supplementary Oracle. 8 “Hear, O Joshua, high priest! You and your associates who sit before you! For they are signs of things to come![aa](AC) I will surely bring my servant the Branch. 9 Look at the stone(AD) that I have placed before Joshua. On this one stone with seven facets[ab](AE) I will engrave its inscription—oracle of the Lord of hosts—and I will take away the guilt of that land in one day. 10 On that day—oracle of the Lord of hosts—you will invite one another under your vines and fig trees.”(AF)
Fourth Vision: The Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees. 1 Then the angel who spoke with me returned and aroused me, like one awakened from sleep. 2 He said to me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a lampstand[ac] all of gold,(AG) with a bowl on top of it. There are seven lamps on it, with seven spouts on each of the lamps that are on top of it. 3 And beside it are two olive trees,[ad] one on the right of the bowl and one to its left.” 4 Then I said to the angel who spoke with me, “What are these things, my lord?” 5 And the angel who spoke with me replied, “Do you not know what these things are?” I said, “No, my lord.”
An Oracle. 6 Then he said to me: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: Not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit,[ae](AH) says the Lord of hosts. 7 Who are you, O great mountain?[af] Before Zerubbabel you become a plain. He will bring forth the first stone amid shouts of ‘Favor, favor be upon it!’”
8 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 9 The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house, and his hands will finish it. Thus you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. 10 For whoever has scorned such a day of small things will rejoice to see the capstone[ag] in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Resumption of the Vision: Explanation of Lamps and Trees. “These seven are the eyes of the Lord that range over the whole earth.”(AI) 11 I then asked him, “What are these two olive trees, on the right of the lampstand and on its left?” 12 A second time I asked, “What are the two streams from the olive trees that pour out golden oil through two taps of gold?” 13 He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I answered, “No, my lord.” 14 Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones[ah] who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”(AJ)
Fifth Vision: The Flying Scroll. 1 Then I raised my eyes again and saw a flying scroll. 2 He asked me, “What do you see?” I answered, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.”[ai](AK) 3 Then he said to me: “This is the curse which is to go forth over the whole land. According to it, every thief and every perjurer[aj] will be expelled. 4 I will send it forth—oracle of the Lord of hosts—so that it will come to the house of the thief, and into the house of the one who swears falsely by my name.(AL) It shall lodge within each house, consuming it, timber and stones.”
Sixth Vision: The Basket of Wickedness. 5 Then the angel who spoke with me came forward and said to me, “Raise your eyes and look. What is this that comes forth?” 6 I said, “What is it?” And he answered, “This is the basket[ak] that is coming.” And he said, “This is their guilt in all the land.” 7 Then a leaden cover was lifted, and there was a woman sitting inside the basket.[al] 8 He said, “This is Wickedness,” and he thrust her inside the basket, pushing the leaden weight into the opening.
9 Then I raised my eyes and saw two women coming forth with wind under their wings[am]—they had wings like the wings of a stork—and they lifted the basket into the air. 10 I said to the angel who spoke with me, “Where are they taking the basket?” 11 He replied, “To build a temple for it in the land of Shinar.[an] When the temple is constructed, they will set it there on its base.”
Seventh Vision: Four Chariots.(AM) 1 Again I raised my eyes and saw four chariots[ao] coming out from between two mountains; and the mountains were of bronze. 2 The first chariot had red horses, the second chariot black horses, 3 the third chariot white horses, and the fourth chariot dappled horses—all of them strong horses. 4 I asked the angel who spoke with me, “What are these, my lord?” 5 The angel answered me, “These are the four winds of the heavens,[ap] which are coming forth after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth.(AN) 6 The one with the black horses is going toward the land of the north, and the white horses go toward the west, and the dappled ones go toward the land of the south.” 7 These strong horses went out, eager to set about patrolling the earth, for he said, “Go, patrol the earth!” So they patrolled the earth. 8 Then he cried out to me and said, “See, those who go forth to the land of the north provide rest for my spirit in the land of the north.”[aq]
The Crowning. 9 Then the word of the Lord came to me: 10 Take from the exiles—Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah—and go the same day to the house of Josiah, son of Zephaniah. (These had come from Babylon.) 11 You will take silver and gold, and make crowns;[ar] place one on the head of Joshua, son of Jehozadak, the high priest. 12 And say to him: Thus says the Lord of hosts: There is a man whose name is Branch[as](AO)—and from his place he will branch out and he will build the temple of the Lord. 13 He will build the temple of the Lord, and taking up the royal insignia, he will sit as ruler upon his throne. The priest will be at his right hand, and between the two of them there will be peaceful understanding.[at](AP) 14 The other crown will be in the temple of the Lord as a gracious reminder to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and the son of Zephaniah. 15 And they who are from afar will come and build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. This will happen if you truly obey the Lord your God.(AQ)
A Question About Fasting. 1 In the fourth year of Darius the king, the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, on the fourth day of the ninth month, Kislev.[au] 2 Bethelsarezer sent Regem-melech and his men to implore the favor of the Lord 3 and to ask the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts, and the prophets, “Must I weep and abstain in the fifth month[av] as I have been doing these many years?” 4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: 5 Say to all the people of the land and to the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and in the seventh month[aw] these seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?(AR) 6 When you were eating and drinking, was it not for yourselves that you ate and for yourselves that you drank?
7 Are these not the words which the Lord proclaimed through the earlier prophets,[ax] when Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were inhabited and secure, when the Negeb and the Shephelah were inhabited? 8 The word of the Lord came to Zechariah: 9 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Judge with true justice, and show kindness and compassion toward each other.(AS) 10 Do not oppress the widow or the orphan, the resident alien or the poor;[ay] do not plot evil against one another in your hearts.(AT) 11 But they refused to listen; they stubbornly turned their backs and stopped their ears so as not to hear.(AU) 12 And they made their hearts as hard as diamond(AV) so as not to hear the instruction and the words that the Lord of hosts had sent by his spirit through the earlier prophets. So great anger came from the Lord of hosts: 13 Just as when I called out and they did not listen, so they will call out and I will not listen, says the Lord of hosts. 14 And I will scatter them among all the nations that they do not know.(AW) So the land was left desolate behind them with no one moving about, and they made a pleasant land into a wasteland.
Seven Oracles: Judah and Zion Restored. 1 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came: 2 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
I am intensely jealous for Zion,(AX)
stirred to jealous wrath for her.
3 Thus says the Lord:
4 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Old men and old women will again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of old age.(AZ) 5 The city will be filled with boys and girls playing in its streets.
6 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Even if this should seem impossible in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it seem impossible in my eyes also?(BA)—oracle of the Lord of hosts.
7 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
I am going to rescue my people from the land of the rising sun, and from the land of the setting sun. 8 I will bring them back to dwell within Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God,(BB) in faithfulness and justice.
9 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Let your hands be strong, you who now hear these words which were spoken by the prophets when the foundation of the house of the Lord of hosts was laid[ba] for the building of the temple.(BC) 10 For before those days, there were no wages for people, nor hire for animals. Those who came and went were not safe from the enemy, for I set neighbor against neighbor. 11 But now I will not deal with the remnant of this people as in former days—oracle of the Lord of hosts.
12 For there will be a sowing of peace:
the vine will yield its fruit,
the land will yield its crops,
and the heavens[bb] will yield their dew.
I will give all these things to the remnant of this people to possess. 13 Just as you became a curse among the nations, O house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you that you may be a blessing.(BD) Do not fear; let your hands be strong.
14 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
Just as I intended to harm you when your ancestors angered me—says the Lord of hosts—and I did not relent, 15 so again in these days I intend to favor Jerusalem and the house of Judah; do not fear! 16 These then are the things you must do: Speak the truth to one another;(BE) judge with honesty and complete justice in your gates.[bc](BF) 17 Let none of you plot evil against another in your heart, nor love a false oath. For all these things I hate—oracle of the Lord.
Three Oracles: Judah and the Nations. 18 The word of the Lord of hosts came to me:
19 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
The fast days of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months[bd](BG) will become occasions of joy and gladness, and happy festivals for the house of Judah.(BH) So love faithfulness and peace!
20 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
There will yet come peoples and inhabitants of many cities;(BI) 21 and the inhabitants of one city will approach those of another, and say, “Come! let us go to implore the favor of the Lord and to seek the Lord of hosts. I too am going.” 22 Many peoples and strong nations will come to seek the Lord of hosts in Jerusalem and to implore the favor of the Lord.
23 Thus says the Lord of hosts:
In those days ten people from nations of every language will take hold,(BJ) yes, will take hold of the cloak of every Judahite and say, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.”
- 1:1 Darius: Darius I, emperor of Persia from 522 to 486 B.C. The second year…eighth month: October/November 520 B.C., i.e., prior to the latest date in Haggai (Dec. 18, 520 B.C., Hg 2:10). Unlike other prophets, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 contain specific chronological information, probably because they were sensitive to the imminent end of the expected seventy years of exile. See note on Zec 1:12.
- 1:2 Your ancestors: refers to the preexilic people of Judah, who were subjected to Babylonian destruction and exile.
- 1:3 Oracle of the Lord: a phrase used extensively in prophetic books to indicate divine speech.
- 1:4 Earlier prophets: preexilic prophets of the Lord. There are many allusions to them in Zechariah, indicating their influence on the postexilic community (see 7:7, 12).
- 1:6 Repented: the Hebrew word shub literally means “turn back.” This term is often used to speak of repentance as a return to the covenantal relationship between Israel and the Lord.
- 1:7 The second year…eleventh month: February 15, 519 B.C. The largest set of visions (1:7–6:15) is dated to a time just prior to the beginning of the new year in the spring.
- 1:8–11 Four riders on horses of three different colors are sent by God to patrol the four corners of the earth. Compare the four chariots of the seventh vision, 6:1–8.
- 1:8 In the night: nighttime, or this night. This setting of darkness is meant only for the first vision.
- 1:9 My lord: this expression in Hebrew (‘adoni) is used as a polite form of address. Angel who spoke with me: angelic being (not identical to the angel of the Lord who is one of the four horsemen) who serves as an interpreter, bringing a message from God to the prophet, who himself is a messenger of God.
- 1:11 Angel of the Lord: chief angelic figure in God’s heavenly court, and perhaps the “man” of 1:8.
- 1:12 These seventy years: allusion to the period of divine anger mentioned in Jer 25:11–12 and 29:10. Here the symbolic number seventy is understood to mark the period without a Temple in Jerusalem. Since these seventy years would have been almost over at this point, this symbolic number would have provided motivation for rebuilding the Temple as a sign of the end of the exile.
- 1:14 For Jerusalem and for Zion: rather than the usual order, Zion and Jerusalem, elsewhere in the Bible. The reversal highlights the centrality of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in all three of the brief oracles of 1:14–17.
- 1:15 Complacent nations: probably a reference to the Persian empire, which in its imperial extent included many national groups that maintained separate identities. Compounded the disaster: the surrounding nations took advantage of the Lord’s anger against Judah to further their own interests.
- 1:16 My house: the Temple. See note on Hg 1:4. Measuring line: a builder’s string, not for devastation, as in Is 34:11, but for reconstruction.
- 2:1 Four horns: symbols of the total political and military might of Judah’s imperial adversaries, probably representing Assyria, Babylonia, and Persia. The number four represents universality rather than any specific number of foes.
- 2:2 Scattered: sent part of the population into exile. This was standard imperial policy initiated in the ancient Near East by the Assyrians for dealing with a conquered state.
- 2:3 Four workmen: four agents of God’s power. The imagery follows that of four horns: the workers cut down, or make ineffectual, the horns, i.e., enemy.
- 2:5 Measuring cord: a string for measuring, as opposed to a builder’s string, 1:16.
- 2:8 That official: probably the man with the measuring cord of v. 5.
- 2:9 Encircling wall of fire: divine protection for an unwalled Jerusalem. Urban centers were generally walled, and Jerusalem’s walls were eventually rebuilt in the late fifth century B.C. (Neh 2:17–20).
- 2:10 Land of the north: refers to Babylon (v. 11), in a geographic rather than a political sense, as the place from which exiles will return. The designation is “north” because imperial invaders historically entered Palestine from that direction (see Jer 3:18; 23:8).
- 2:15 Many nations…my people: a way of expressing God’s relationship to people in covenant language. The covenant between God and Israel (see Jer 31:33; 32:38) is here universalized to include all nations.
- 2:16 The holy land: the Lord’s earthly territory, a designation found only rarely in the Old Testament.
- 3:1 Adversary: Hebrew satan, here, the prosecuting attorney, a figure in the Lord’s heavenly courtroom. Cf. Jb 1:6–2:7. Later tradition understands this figure to be Satan.
- 3:3–4 The filthy garments of Joshua symbolized the guilt of the Israelite people who have become unclean by going into exile. The angel of the Lord purifies the high priest by the removal of his garments.
- 3:7 If you walk…watch over my courts: four components of priestly activity: (1) following God’s commandments and teaching them to the people, (2) carrying out cultic functions, (3) participating in the judicial system in certain difficult cases, and (4) administering the laborers and lands in the Temple’s domain.
- 3:8 Signs of things to come: the restoration of the priesthood is a sign of the expected restoration of the Davidic line. The Branch: a tree metaphor for the expected future ruler as a descendant of the Davidic dynasty. This imagery also appears in Is 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; and Zec 6:12.
- 3:9 Stone with seven facets: represents both the precious stones that were part of the high priest’s apparel and the building stone (see 4:7, 10) that initiated a major construction project. The seven facets (or “eyes”) indicate the totality of its role as an instrument of God’s vigilance and action. Inscription: can refer both to words engraved on the high priest’s apparel (Ex 28:9, 11) and to words chiseled on a cornerstone.
- 4:2 Lampstand: receptacle for lamps and one of the furnishings of the main room of the Temple. This visionary object does not correspond to the biblical descriptions of the menorah in either the tabernacle (Ex 25:31–40) or the Solomonic Temple (1 Kgs 7:49) but rather has properties of both. Seven lamps…seven spouts: seven lamps, each with seven pinched wick holes. Such objects were part of the repertoire of cultic vessels throughout the Old Testament period. Here they symbolize God’s eyes, i.e., divine omniscience; see v. 10.
- 4:3 Olive trees: visionary image that picks up the botanical language describing the Israelite cultic lampstands, with the olive trees specifically connoting fertility, permanence, and righteousness.
- 4:6 Not by might…my spirit: one of the most quoted verses from the Old Testament, particularly in Jewish tradition, which connects it with the theme of Hanukkah, sometimes called the Festival of Lights.
- 4:7 Great mountain: part of symbolic imagery for the Temple on Mount Zion, as embodiment of the cosmic mountain where heaven and earth connect. Plain: leveled ground serving as the foundation area for the construction of the Temple, and symbolizing the foundation of the cosmos. First stone: foundation stone of a major public building. Such stones were laid with great ceremony in foundation rituals when monumental buildings were newly built or rebuilt in the biblical world.
- 4:10 Capstone: topmost stone of a structure, which finishes the construction. This translation is based on the context. Other translations read: “stone of distinction,” “plummet,” “tin-stone.”
- 4:14 Two anointed ones: two leadership positions in the ideal restored nation. The concept of a state headed by both priestly and political leaders harks back to premonarchic traditions (Aaron and Moses) and finds an echo in the two messianic figures—a Davidic and a levitical messiah—in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in apocryphal literature. See also the two crowns of 6:11–14.
- 5:2 Twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide: ca. thirty feet by fifteen feet. These dimensions may represent the ratio of height to width in the exposed portion of a scroll being opened for liturgical reading; at the same time it may symbolize the approach to God’s presence since the entryway to the Temple has the same measurements (1 Kgs 6:3). The scroll itself may represent God’s covenant with the people, insofar as it contains curses against those who break the law.
- 5:3 Thief…perjurer: a pair of miscreants representing all those who disobey God’s covenant (see note on v. 2) and who must therefore be punished according to covenant curses.
- 5:6 Basket: literally, ephah, a dry measure; see note on Is 5:10.
- 5:7 Woman sitting inside the basket: figure representing wickedness or foreign idolatry being transported back to Babylonia (vv. 1–11). Returning exiles were apparently worshiping deities they had learned to accept in Babylonia, and that “wickedness” (v. 8) must be removed.
- 5:9 Two women…wings: composite beings, part human and part animal, similar to the cherubim flanking the holy ark (Ex 25:18–22; 1 Kgs 6:23–28; Ez 10:18–22). Such creatures accompany foreign deities as here, or the biblical God.
- 5:11 Shinar: land of Babylonia; this name for Babylonia is found also in Gn 1:10; 11:2; 14:1; Is 11:11; and Dn 1:2.
- 6:1 Four chariots: vehicles with horses of four different colors (vv. 2–3) represent God’s presence throughout the world and correspond to the four horses of 1:7–11.
- 6:5 Four winds of the heavens: four compass directions and therefore the whole world.
- 6:8 Land of the north: the enemy (cf. 2:10). This emphasis on the land of the north refers to the fact that God will deal with Israel’s foes and order will be re-established.
- 6:11 Crowns: two crowns made of precious metals and representing two high offices (compare the symbolism of the two olive trees in 4:14). One crown is for the high priest Joshua, who, with the governor Zerubbabel, was one of the recognized rulers of the Persian province of Judah. The other crown would have been for a royal ruler, a Davidic descendant. Zerubbabel was a Davidide but could not be king because the Persians would not allow such autonomy. The second crown was thus put in storage in the Temple (v. 14) for the crowning of a future king, or “branch” (see 3:8), from the house of David.
- 6:12 Branch: future Davidic ruler. See note on 3:8.
- 6:13 Peaceful understanding: harmonious rule of both the high priest and the king.
- 7:1 The fourth year of Darius…the ninth month, Kislev: December 7, 518 B.C., the last chronological heading in Zechariah.
- 7:3 Weep…fifth month: a mourning ritual commemorating the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple on the seventh day of the fifth month in the nineteenth year of Nebuchadnezzar’s reign (ca. 587/586 B.C.; see 2 Kgs 25:8).
- 7:5 Seventh month: the time of a fast in memory of the murder of Gedaliah, the governor installed by the Babylonians after they conquered Jerusalem (see 2 Kgs 25:25; Jer 41:1–3). Seventy years: see note on 1:12.
- 7:7, 12 Earlier prophets: see note on 1:4.
- 7:10 Widow…orphan…resident alien…poor: four categories of socially and economically marginalized persons. Concern for their well-being is commanded in both pentateuchal and prophetic literature.
- 8:3 Faithful city: a unique biblical epithet for Jerusalem, signaling the importance of the holy city and its leaders for establishing justice in society (see also vv. 8, 16, 19). Holy mountain: Jerusalem and its Temple, the sacred center of the holy land (2:16) and of the whole world.
- 8:9 When the foundation…was laid: December 18, 520 B.C., the date of the Temple refoundation ceremony, marking the beginning of the project to restore the Temple (see Hg 2:10, 18, 20).
- 8:12 Vine…land…heavens: future prosperity, reversing the hardships of Hg 1:10.
- 8:16 Gates: important gathering places in ancient Near Eastern cities, where legal proceedings were often carried out.
- 8:19 Fast days of the fourth, the fifth, the seventh, and the tenth months: all these fast days were probably held in connection with Jerusalem’s demise. The fasts of the fourth month (commemorating the departure of Judahite leadership from Jerusalem, 2 Kgs 25:3–7) and of the tenth month (marking the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, 2 Kgs 25:1) were added to the fasts of the fifth and seventh months mentioned in Zec 7:3 and 5 (see notes).