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Chapter 9

Restoration of the Land of Israel[a]

An oracle:[b] the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach,
    and Damascus is its destination,
For the cities of Aram are the Lord’s,
    as are all the tribes of Israel.
Hamath also on its border,
    Tyre too, and Sidon, no matter how clever they be.
Tyre built itself a stronghold,
    and heaped up silver like dust,
    and gold like the mud of the streets.
But now the Lord will dispossess it,
    and cast its wealth into the sea,
    and it will be devoured by fire.
Ashkelon will see it and be afraid;
    Gaza too will be in great anguish;
    Ekron also, for its hope will wither.
The king will disappear from Gaza,
    Ashkelon will not be inhabited,
    and the illegitimate will rule in Ashdod.
I will destroy the pride of the Philistines
    and take from their mouths their bloody prey,
    their disgusting meat from between their teeth.
They will become merely a remnant for our God,(A)
    and will be like a clan in Judah;
    Ekron will be like the Jebusites.[c]
I will encamp at my house,
    a garrison against invaders;
No oppressor will overrun them again,
    for now I have seen their affliction.

The King’s Entry into Jerusalem[d]

Exult greatly, O daughter Zion!
    Shout for joy, O daughter Jerusalem!
Behold: your king[e] is coming to you,
    a just savior is he,
Humble, and riding on a donkey,
    on a colt, the foal of a donkey.(B)
10 He shall banish the chariot from Ephraim,(C)
    and the horse from Jerusalem;
The warrior’s bow will be banished,
    and he will proclaim peace to the nations.(D)
His dominion will be from sea to sea,
    and from the River[f] to the ends of the earth.(E)

Restoration of the People

11 As for you, by the blood of your covenant,[g](F)
    I have freed your prisoners from a waterless pit.
12 Return to a fortress,[h]
    O prisoners of hope;
This very day, I announce
    I am restoring double to you.
13 For I have bent Judah as my bow,
    I have set Ephraim as its arrow;
I will arouse your sons, O Zion,
    against your sons, O Yavan,[i]
    and I will use you as a warrior’s sword.
14 The Lord will appear over them,
    God’s arrow will shoot forth as lightning;
The Lord God will sound the ram’s horn,
    and come in a storm from the south.(G)
15 The Lord of hosts will protect them;
    they will devour and conquer with sling stones,
    they will drink and become heated as with wine;
    they will be full like bowls—like the corners of the altar.(H)
16 And the Lord their God will save them:
    the people, like a flock on that day;(I)
For like gemstones of a crown[j]
    they will shine on the land.
17 Then how good and how lovely!
    Grain will make the young men flourish,
    and new wine the young women.(J)

Chapter 10

The Lord Strengthens Judah and Rescues Ephraim

Ask the Lord for rain in the spring season,(K)
    the Lord who brings storm clouds, and heavy rains,(L)
    who gives to everyone grain in the fields.
For the teraphim[k] have spoken nonsense,(M)
    the diviners have seen false visions;
Deceitful dreams they have told,
    empty comfort they have offered.
This is why they wandered like sheep,
    wretched, for they have no shepherd.(N)
My wrath is kindled against the shepherds,[l]
    and I will punish the leaders.
For the Lord of hosts attends to the flock, the house of Judah,
    and will make them like a splendid horse in battle.
From them will come the tower,
    from them the tent peg,
    from them the bow of war,
    from them every officer.
Together they will be like warriors,
    trampling the mud of the streets in battle.
They will wage war because the Lord is with them,
    and will put the horsemen to shame.
I will strengthen the house of Judah,(O)
    the house of Joseph[m] I will save;
I will bring them back, because I have mercy on them;
    they will be as if I had never cast them off,
    for I am the Lord their God, and I will answer them.(P)
Then Ephraim will be like a hero,
    and their hearts will be cheered as by wine.(Q)
Their children will see and rejoice—
    their hearts will exult in the Lord.
I will whistle for them and gather them in;
    for I will redeem them
    and they will be as numerous as before.[n]
I sowed them among the nations,
    yet in distant lands they will remember me;
    they will bear their children and return.(R)
10 I will bring them back from the land of Egypt,
    and gather them from Assyria.
To the land of Gilead and to Lebanon I will bring them,
    until no room is found for them.
11 I will cross over to Egypt
    and smite the waves of the sea,
    and all the depths of the Nile will dry up.
The pride of Assyria will be cast down,
    and the scepter of Egypt disappear.
12 I will strengthen them in the Lord,(S)
    in whose name they will walk—oracle of the Lord.

Chapter 11

The Cry of Trees, Shepherds, and Lions

Open your doors, Lebanon,
    that fire may devour your cedars!
Wail, cypress trees,
    for the cedars are fallen,
    the mighty are destroyed!
Wail, oaks of Bashan,
    for the dense forest is cut down!
Listen! the wailing of shepherds,
    their glory has been destroyed.
Listen! the roaring of young lions,
    the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed.

The Shepherd Narrative.[o](T) Thus says the Lord, my God: Shepherd the flock to be slaughtered.(U) For they who buy them slay them and are not held accountable; while those who sell them say, “Blessed be the Lord, I have become rich!” Even their own shepherds will not pity them. For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the earth—oracle of the Lord.—Yes, I will deliver them into each other’s power, or into the power of their kings; they will crush the earth, and I will not deliver it out of their power.

So I shepherded the flock to be slaughtered for the merchants of the flock. I took two staffs: one I called Delight, and the other Union. Thus I shepherded the flock. In a single month, I did away with the three shepherds, for I wearied of them, and they disdained me. “I will not shepherd you,” I said. “Whoever is to die shall die; whoever is to be done away with shall be done away with; and those who are left shall devour one another’s flesh.”

10 Then I took my staff Delight and snapped it in two, breaking my covenant which I had made with all peoples. 11 So it was broken on that day. The merchants of the flock, who were watching me, understood that this was the word of the Lord. 12 Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, withhold them.”(V) And they counted out my wages,(W) thirty pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord said to me, Throw it in the treasury—the handsome price at which they valued me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the Lord. 14 Then I snapped in two my second staff, Union, breaking the kinship between Judah and Israel.

15 The Lord said to me: This time take the gear of a foolish shepherd.(X) 16 For I am raising up a shepherd in the land who will take no note of those that disappear, nor seek the strays, nor heal the injured,(Y) nor feed the exhausted; but he will eat the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs!

Oracle to the Worthless Shepherd

17 Ah! my worthless shepherd
    who forsakes the flock!(Z)
May the sword fall upon his arm
    and upon his right eye;
His arm will surely wither,
    and his right eye surely go blind!

Chapter 12

Oracles Concerning the Nations and Judah.[p] An oracle:[q] The word of the Lord concerning Israel—oracle of the Lord, who spreads out the heavens, lays the foundations of the earth, and fashions the human spirit within:(AA) See, I will make Jerusalem a cup of reeling[r] for all peoples round about.(AB) Judah will be besieged, even Jerusalem. On that day I will make Jerusalem a heavy stone for all peoples. All who attempt to lift it will injure themselves badly, though all the nations of the earth will gather against it. On that day—oracle of the Lord—I will strike every horse with fright, and its rider with madness. But over the house of Judah I will keep watch, while I strike blind all the horses of the peoples. Then the clans of Judah will say to themselves, “The inhabitants of Jerusalem have their strength in the Lord of hosts, their God.”(AC) On that day I will make the clans of Judah like a brazier of fire in the woodland and like a burning torch among sheaves, and they will devour right and left all the surrounding peoples; but Jerusalem will again inhabit its own place.(AD)

The Lord will save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not be exalted over Judah. On that day the Lord will shield the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the weakest among them will be like David on that day; and the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them.

On that day I will seek the destruction of all nations that come against Jerusalem.(AE) 10 I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication, so that when they look on him whom they have thrust through,[s](AF) they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and they will grieve for him as one grieves over a firstborn.(AG)

Catalogue of Mourners. 11 On that day the mourning in Jerusalem will be as great as the mourning for Hadadrimmon in the plain of Megiddo.[t] 12 And the land shall mourn, each family apart: the family of the house of David, and their women; the family of the house of Nathan, and their women; 13 the family of the house of Levi, and their women; the family of Shimei, and their women; 14 and all the rest of the families, each family apart, and the women apart.

Chapter 13

Oracles Concerning the End of False Prophecy.[u] On that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David[v] and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to purify from sin and uncleanness.(AH)

On that day—oracle of the Lord of hosts—I will destroy the names of the idols from the land, so that they will be mentioned no more; I will also remove the prophets and the spirit of uncleanness from the land. If any still prophesy, their father and mother who bore them will say, “You will not live, because you have spoken a lie in the name of the Lord.” Their father and mother who bore them will thrust them through when they prophesy.(AI)

On that day, all prophets will be ashamed of the visions they prophesy; and they will not put on the hairy mantle[w] to mislead,(AJ) but each will say, “I am not a prophet. I am a tiller of the soil, for I have owned land since my youth.”(AK) And if anyone asks, “What are these wounds on your chest?”[x] each will answer, “I received these wounds in the house of my friends.”(AL)

The Song of the Sword

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,
    against the one who is my associate
    —oracle of the Lord of hosts.
Strike the shepherd
    that the sheep may be scattered;[y](AM)
    I will turn my hand against the little ones.
In all the land—oracle of the Lord
    two thirds of them will be cut off and perish,
    and one third will be left.
I will bring the one third through the fire;
    I will refine them as one refines silver,(AN)
    and I will test them as one tests gold.
They will call upon my name, and I will answer them;(AO)
    I will say, “They are my people,”(AP)
    and they will say, “The Lord is my God.”

Chapter 14

Devastation and Rescue of Jerusalem. [z]A day is coming for the Lord when the spoils taken from you will be divided in your midst. And I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle: The city will be taken, houses will be plundered, women raped; half the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be removed from the city. Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day of battle.(AQ) On that day God’s feet will stand[aa] on the Mount of Olives, which is opposite Jerusalem to the east. The Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west by a very deep valley,(AR) and half of the mountain will move to the north and half of it to the south. You will flee by the valley between the mountains, for the valley between the mountains will reach to Azal. Thus you will flee as you fled because of the earthquake[ab] in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.(AS) Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all his holy ones with him.(AT)

Jerusalem Restored. On that day there will no longer be cold or frost. There will be one continuous day—it is known to the Lord—not day and night, for in the evening there will be light. On that day, fresh water will flow from Jerusalem,(AU) half to the eastern sea, and half to the western sea. This will be so in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth;(AV) on that day the Lord will be the only one, and the Lord’s name the only one. 10 All the land will turn into a plain, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, which will stand exalted in its place—from the Gate of Benjamin to the place of the first gate, to the Corner Gate and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s wine presses. 11 The city will be inhabited; never again will it be doomed. Jerusalem will dwell securely.(AW)

The Fate of Jerusalem’s Foes. 12 And this will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the peoples that have fought against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they stand on their feet, and their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.(AX) 13 On that day a great panic from the Lord will be upon them.(AY) They will seize each other’s hands, and their hands will be raised against each other. 14 Even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. The riches of all the surrounding nations will be gathered together—gold, silver, and garments—in great abundance. 15 Like the plague on human beings will be the plague upon the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and upon all the beasts that are in those camps.

The Future: Jerusalem, Judah, and the Nations. 16 Everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Jerusalem will go up year after year to bow down to the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the feast of Booths.[ac](AZ) 17 Should any of the families of the earth(BA) not go up to Jerusalem to bow down to the King, the Lord of hosts, then there will be no rain for them. 18 And if the family of Egypt does not go up or enter, upon them will fall the plague,(BB) with which the Lord strikes the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the feast of Booths.

20 On that day, “Holy to the Lord(BC) will be written on the horses’ bells.[ad] The pots in the house of the Lord will be as the basins before the altar. 21 Every pot[ae] in Jerusalem and in Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts. All who come to sacrifice will take them and cook in them. No longer will there be merchants in the house of the Lord of hosts on that day.


  1. 9:1–8 The opening verses of Second Zechariah delineate the ideal boundaries of a restored Israel. Echoing the ideas of Haggai and First Zechariah (chaps. 1–8), the prophet reiterates the notion that the rebuilt Temple will bring about peace. The areas to be returned to Israel include Syria (Aram), with the cities of Hadrach and Damascus; Phoenicia, with the cities of Tyre and Sidon; and Philistia, with the cities of Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron, and Ashdod.
  2. 9:1 An oracle: this designation also introduces Zec 12:1 and Mal 1:1, suggesting a connection among the three units. The term functions as both a title to the larger literary unit (Zec 9–11) and a part of the message of the opening oracular statement.
  3. 9:7 The Jebusites: the pre-Israelite inhabitants of Jerusalem, conquered by David and incorporated into Israel.
  4. 9:9–10 These two verses form the centerpiece of chap. 9. The restoration of a royal figure connects the first part of the chapter (vv. 1–8), which depicts the restored land of Israel, with the second part (vv. 11–17), which concerns the restoration of the people Israel.
  5. 9:9 Your king: a just savior, a figure of humble demeanor, but riding on a donkey like royalty in the ancient Near East (Gn 49:11; Jgs 5:10; 10:4). The announcement of the coming of such a king marks a departure from the view of the royal figure as a conquering warrior. This depiction is in keeping with the tone of First Zechariah (3:8; 4:6–10; 6:12) but contrasts with Haggai (2:20–23). New Testament authors apply this prophecy to Jesus’ triumphant entry into Jerusalem (Mt 21:4–5; Jn 12:14–15).
  6. 9:10 The River: probably the Euphrates; see note on Ps 72:8.
  7. 9:11 The blood of your covenant: the covenant between the Lord and Israel sealed with sacrificial blood (Ex 24:8).
  8. 9:12 Fortress: the Hebrew word for “fortress” (bissaron) plays upon the Hebrew word for Zion (siyyon). Those who return to Zion will be protected by the Lord. O prisoners of hope: imagery of exile, conveying a sense that the future in Israel will be better.
  9. 9:13 Your sons, O Yavan: the reference is to the Greeks and their struggle with the Persians for control of Syria-Palestine and the eastern Mediterranean in the mid-fifth century B.C.
  10. 9:16 Like gemstones of a crown: imagery reminiscent of First Zechariah (3:9; 4:7, 10; 6:11, 14) and evocative of the Temple and the priestly headgear (cf. Ex 29:6 and Lv 8:9).
  11. 10:2 Teraphim: household idols or cult objects (see Gn 31:19, 30–35; Jgs 17:5; 1 Sm 19:11–17), or ancestor statuettes (see 2 Kgs 23:24; Hos 3:4).
  12. 10:3 Against the shepherds: bad leaders or false prophets.
  13. 10:6 The house of Joseph: represents the Northern Kingdom (Israel), as does Ephraim in v. 7 below.
  14. 10:8 Gather them in…be as numerous as before: God’s intention is to bring back the exiles and redeem them as at the time of the exodus. This image, resumed in vv. 10–11, anticipates an expanded population, echoes the ancestral promise (Gn 1:22, 28; 9:1, 7; 35:11), and also suggests an awareness of the acute demographic decline of Jews in Palestine in the Persian period.
  15. 11:4–17 This narrative has features of an allegory, a parable, and a commissioning narrative. The use of a symbolic action (vv. 7, 10, 14), however, places this text squarely in the tradition of classical prophecy. For example, the staff “Delight” signifies the Mosaic covenant, and the staff “Union” signifies the union of Israel and Judah. Breaking the staffs signifies the breaking of the Mosaic covenant (resulting in the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile) and the historical schism between north and south. In this narrative the prophet is the “shepherd” of God’s flock, which is to be slaughtered. The “three shepherds” of v. 8 represent either leaders responsible for the decay in Israelite society or false prophets (cf. vv. 15, 17 and 13:2–6). The service of the good shepherd is contemptuously valued at thirty pieces of silver, the legal indemnity for a gored slave (Ex 21:32). The prophet throws the money into the Temple treasury, showing how poorly God’s love is requited (cf. Mt 26:14–16; 27:5). With great rhetorical irony, payment is rejected. The entire wage-payment scenario may be regarded as another symbolic action, embedded within the primary action.
  16. 12:1–10 The oracles deal with (1) the status of Judah in relation to other political powers in the world that threaten its existence and (2) the reordering of Judah’s internal structures so that its future can be realized. That future is linked to the fortunes of the house of David, which is mentioned five times between 12:7 and 13:1 (12:7, 8, 10, 12; 13:1).
  17. 12:1 An oracle: part two of Second Zechariah begins with the same heading as that of part one (9:1; also Mal 1:1), suggesting two distinct blocks of material. The unusual cluster of introductory terms that follow the heading greatly intensifies the claim of prophetic authority, apparently an issue in postexilic prophecy.
  18. 12:2 Cup of reeling: like a cup filled with intoxicating drink, Jerusalem will cause the nations to stumble and fall (cf. Is 51:17, 22; Jer 25:15; 49:12; Lam 4:21).
  19. 12:10 They look on him…thrust through: another possible rendering is “they shall look to me concerning him…thrust through.” In either case, the victim is an enigmatic figure, perhaps referring to a Davidic descendant, a priestly leader, or even a true prophet. Some historical event, unknown to us from any surviving source, may underlie this reference. The Gospel of John applies this text to the piercing of Christ’s side after his death (19:37).
  20. 12:11 The mourning for the pierced victim in Jerusalem is compared to the annual ritual mourning in the plain of Megiddo over the death of the Phoenician fertility god, Hadadrimmon. According to others, Hadadrimmon is the name of a place near Megiddo, and the reference would then be to the mourning over the death of King Josiah at the hands of Pharaoh Neco in 609 B.C.; cf. 2 Kgs 23:29–30; 2 Chr 35:22–25.
  21. 13:1–6 False prophecy is a major theme of Second Zechariah (chaps. 9–14) and figures in many other passages (10:1–2; 11; 12:10). Problems of idolatry and false prophecy occurred in postexilic Judah as they had in preexilic times. The understanding of the role of the prophet as an intermediary was challenged because (1) there was no king in Jerusalem, and (2) the texts of earlier prophets were beginning to be accorded the authority of prophetic tradition.
  22. 13:1 For the house of David: anticipation that a cleansed leadership will enable the re-established monarchy to be rid of the misdeeds of its past.
  23. 13:4 Hairy mantle: worn by prophets as a sign of their calling, for example, Elijah (1 Kgs 19:13; 2 Kgs 1:8) and John the Baptist (Mt 3:4).
  24. 13:6 Wounds on your chest: lit., “wounds between your hands.” The false prophets, like the prophets of Baal (1 Kgs 18:28), apparently inflicted wounds on themselves. Here it seems that persons accused of false prophecy deny having inflicted wounds on themselves and instead claim that they have received them at the houses of their friends.
  25. 13:7 Strike the shepherd…may be scattered: in Matthew’s Gospel (26:31) Jesus makes use of this text before his arrest in the Garden of Gethsemane and the flight of the disciples.
  26. 14:1–21 The marked eschatalogical thrust of Zec 9–14 culminates in this apocalyptic description, with its astonishing images of the day of the Lord. This last and longest chapter focuses on the restoration of Jerusalem and the return of the people of Zion so that the rest of the world will acknowledge God’s sovereignty. Four units constitute this chapter: vv. 1–5 concentrate on the destruction and rescue of Jerusalem and the escape of a remnant; vv. 6–11 describe the transformation of the climate and the topography of Jerusalem; vv. 12–15 depict the defeat of Jerusalem’s enemies; and vv. 16–21 outline a vision for the end time, in which even foreign nations will make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to acknowledge God’s universal reign.
  27. 14:4 God’s feet will stand: a remarkable anthropomorphic image adds emphasis to the traditional Old Testament scene of God appearing on a mountain and causing extreme reactions such as quaking, melting, shattering (see Ex 19:18; Ps 97:5; Hb 3:6). The Mount of Olives is split, which opens a way for those fleeing from the Lord’s appearance to escape from Jerusalem.
  28. 14:5 Earthquake: Amos 1:1 mentions an earthquake in the time of King Uzziah (cf. Is 6:4).
  29. 14:16 Feast of Booths: fall harvest festival, also known as the “festival of Ingathering” (Ex 23:16; 34:22) or “Booths” (Lv 23:33–36; Dt 16:13–15; 31:9–13). The singling out of this festival indicates its special status in the sacred calendar; it is frequently referred to as “the feast” (1 Kgs 8:1–2; 2 Chr 5:3; Ez 45:25).
  30. 14:20 Horses’ bells: even these bells, part of the trappings of animals used for war, will become holy in the end time, like the bells of the high priest’s garb (cf. Ex 28:34).
  31. 14:21 Every pot: vessels used for mundane food preparation will, in the end time, be as holy as Temple vessels.