7 In the fourth year of [the reign of] King Darius [of Persia], the word of the Lord came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev (Dec 7, 518 b.c.).2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech and their men to seek the favor of the Lord,3 speaking to the priests who belong to the house of the Lord of hosts and to the prophets, saying, “[Now that I am returned from exile] shall I weep in the fifth month [mourning the destruction of the temple], and fast as I have done these many years [in Babylon]?”4 Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me (Zechariah), saying,5 “Speak to all the people of the land and to the priests, saying, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months these seventy years [that you were in exile], was it actually for Me that you fasted?6 When you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and do you not drink for yourselves [to satisfy your own needs]?7 Should you not hear the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets, when Jerusalem was inhabited and prosperous along with her cities around her, and the South (the Negev) and the foothills were inhabited?’”
8 Then the word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying,9 “Thus has the Lord of hosts said, ‘Dispense true justice and practice kindness and compassion, to each other;10 and do not oppress or exploit the widow or the fatherless, the stranger or the poor; and do not devise or even imagine evil in your hearts against one another.’11 But they refused to listen and pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder [stiffening themselves in resistance] and stopped up their ears.12 They made their hearts [hard] like flint, so that they could not hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by His Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts.13 And just as He called and they would not listen, so they called and I would not listen,” says the Lord of hosts;14 “but I scattered them with a storm wind among all the nations whom they have not known. Thus the land was desolate after they had gone, so that no one passed through or returned, for they [by their sins] had made the pleasant land desolate and deserted.’”
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