The Lord Promises to Bless Jerusalem
8 This is a message from the Lord All-Powerful. 2 The Lord All-Powerful says, “I have a very strong love for Mount Zion. I love her so much that I became angry when she was not faithful to me.” 3 The Lord says, “I have come back to Zion, and I am living in Jerusalem. Jerusalem will be called Faithful City. The mountain of the Lord All-Powerful will be called Holy Mountain.”
4 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Old men and women will again be seen in the public places in Jerusalem. People will live so long that they will need their walking sticks. 5 And the city will be filled with children playing in the streets.” 6 The Lord All-Powerful says, “The survivors will think it is wonderful, and so will I!”
7 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Look, I am rescuing my people from countries in the east and west. 8 I will bring them back here, and they will live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their good and faithful God.”
9 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Be strong! You people are hearing the same message today that the prophets gave when the Lord All-Powerful first laid the foundations to rebuild his Temple. 10 Before that time, people didn’t have the money to hire workers or to rent animals. And it was not safe for people to come and go. There was no relief from all the troubles. I had turned everyone against their neighbor. 11 But it is not like that now. It will not be like that for the survivors.” This is what the Lord All-Powerful said.
12 “These people will plant in peace. Their grapevines will produce grapes. The land will give good crops, and the skies will give rain. I will give all these things to my people. 13 People began using the names Israel and Judah in their curses. But I will save Israel and Judah, and their names will become a blessing. So don’t be afraid. Be strong!”
14 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Your ancestors made me angry, so I decided to destroy them. I decided not to change my mind.” This is what the Lord All-Powerful said. 15 “But now I have changed my mind. And in the same way I have decided to be good to Jerusalem and to the people of Judah. So don’t be afraid! 16 But you must do this: Tell the truth to your neighbors. When you make decisions in your cities, be fair and do what is right. Do what brings peace. 17 Don’t make secret plans to hurt your neighbors. Don’t make false promises. You must not enjoy doing these things, because I hate them!” This is what the Lord said.
18 I received this message from the Lord All-Powerful. 19 The Lord All-Powerful says, “You have special days of sadness and fasting in the fourth month, the fifth month, the seventh month, and the tenth month.[a] These days of sadness must be changed into days of happiness. They will be good and happy festivals. And you must love truth and peace.”
20 The Lord All-Powerful says,
“In the future, people from many cities will come to Jerusalem.
21 People from different cities will greet each other and say,
‘We are going to worship the Lord All-Powerful.’
And the other person will say,
‘I would like to go with you!’”
22 Many people and many powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to find the Lord All-Powerful and to worship him. 23 The Lord All-Powerful says, “At that time many foreigners speaking different languages will come to a Jewish man, take hold of the hem of his robe, and ask, ‘We heard that God is with you. Can we come with you to worship him?’”
Judgment Against Other Nations
9 This is the Lord’s message against the land of Hadrach and against the city of Damascus. The tribes of Israel are not the only people who know about the Lord. Everyone looks to him for help.[b] 2 This message is also against the city of Hamath near Damascus. And this message is against Tyre and Sidon, even though those people have been so wise and skillful. 3 Tyre is built like a fort. The people there have collected so much silver that it is like dust, and gold is as common as clay. 4 But the Lord will take it all. He will destroy her powerful navy and that city will be destroyed by fire!
5 The people in Ashkelon will see this and they will be afraid. The people of Gaza will shake with fear, and the people of Ekron will lose all hope when they see this happen. There will be no king left in Gaza. No one will live in Ashkelon anymore. 6 The people in Ashdod will not even know who their real fathers are. The Lord says, “I will completely destroy the proud Philistines. 7 They will no longer eat meat with the blood still in it or any other forbidden food. Any Philistine left alive will become a part of my people; they will be just one more tribe in Judah. The people of Ekron will become a part of my people, as the Jebusites did. 8 I will protect my country. I will not let enemy armies pass through it. I will not let them hurt my people anymore. With my own eyes I have seen how much my people have suffered.”
The Future King
9 People of Zion,[c] rejoice!
People of Jerusalem, shout with joy!
Look, your king is coming to you!
He is the good king who won the victory, but he is humble.
He is riding on a donkey, on a young donkey born from a work animal.
10 I will take the war chariots away from Ephraim
and the horse soldiers from Jerusalem.
I will destroy the bows used in war.
Your king will bring news of peace to the nations.
He will rule from sea to sea,
from the Euphrates River to the ends of the earth.
The Lord Will Save His People
11 Jerusalem, we used blood to seal your agreement,
so I am setting your people free from that empty hole in the ground.[d]
12 Prisoners, go home!
Now you have something to hope for.
I am telling you now,
I am coming back to you.
13 Judah, I will use you like a bow.
Ephraim, I will use you like arrows.
Israel, I will use you like a sword
to fight against the men of Greece.
14 The Lord will appear to them,
and he will shoot his arrows like lightning.
The Lord God will blow the trumpet,
and the army will rush forward like a desert dust storm.
15 The Lord All-Powerful will protect them.
The soldiers will use rocks and slings to defeat the enemy.
They will spill the blood of their enemies.
It will flow like wine.
It will be like the blood that is thrown on the corners of the altar!
16 At that time the Lord their God
will save his people
like a shepherd saves his sheep.
They will be very precious to him.
They will be like sparkling jewels in his land.
17 Everything will be good and beautiful!
There will be a wonderful crop,
but it will not be just the food and wine.
It will be all the young men and women!
The Lord’s Promises
10 Pray to the Lord for rain in the springtime. The Lord will send the lightning and the rain will fall, and he will make the plants grow in each person’s field.
2 People use their little statues and magic to learn what will happen in the future, but that is useless. They see visions and tell about their dreams, but it is nothing but worthless lies. So the people are like sheep wandering here and there crying for help, but there is no shepherd to lead them.
3 The Lord says, “I am very angry with the shepherds. I made them responsible for what happens to my sheep.” (The people of Judah are his flock, and the Lord All-Powerful really does take care of his flock. He cares for them as a soldier cares for his beautiful war horse.)
4 “The cornerstone, the tent peg, the war bow, and the advancing soldiers will all come from Judah together. 5 They will defeat their enemy—it will be like soldiers marching through mud in the streets. They will fight, and since the Lord is with them, they will defeat even the enemy soldiers riding horses. 6 I will make Judah’s family strong. I will help Joseph’s family win the war. I will bring them back safely and comfort them. It will be as if I never left them. I am the Lord their God, and I will help them. 7 The people of Ephraim will be as happy as soldiers who have too much to drink. Their children will be rejoicing and they, too, will be happy. They will all have a happy time together with the Lord.
8 “I will whistle for them and call them all together. I really will save them. There will be many people. 9 Yes, I have been scattering my people throughout the nations. But in those faraway places, they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will come back. 10 I will bring them back from Egypt and Assyria. I will bring them to the area of Gilead. And since there will not be enough room, I will also let them live in nearby Lebanon. 11 They will go through a sea of troubles, but the waves will be stopped. Even the deepest waters of the Nile River will dry up. I will destroy Assyria’s pride and take away Egypt’s power. 12 I, the Lord, will make my people strong, and they will live for me.” This is what the Lord said.
God Will Punish the Other Nations
11 Lebanon, open your gates so that the fire will come
and burn your cedar trees.[e]
2 The cypress trees will cry because the cedar trees have fallen.
Those powerful trees will be taken away.
Oak trees in Bashan will cry
for the forest that was cut down.
3 Listen to the crying shepherds.
Their powerful leaders were taken away.
Listen to the roaring of the young lions.
Their thick bushes near the Jordan River have all been taken away.
4 The Lord my God says, “Care for the sheep that have been raised to be killed. 5 Buyers kill their sheep and are not punished. Those who sell the sheep say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ The shepherds don’t feel sorry for their sheep. 6 And I don’t feel sorry for the people who live in this country.” This is what the Lord said: “Look, I will let everyone be under the control of their neighbor and king. I will let them destroy the country—I will not stop them!”
7 So I took care of the sheep that had been raised to be killed—those poor sheep. I found two sticks. I called one stick Favor, and I called the other stick Union. Then I began caring for the sheep. 8 I fired the three shepherds all in one month. I got angry at the sheep, and they began to hate me. 9 Then I said, “I quit! I will not take care of you! I will let those who want to die, die. I will let those who want to be destroyed, be destroyed, and those who are left will destroy each other.” 10 Then I took the stick named Favor, and I broke it. I did this to show that God’s agreement with his people was broken. 11 So that day the agreement was finished, and those poor sheep watching me knew that this message was from the Lord.
12 Then I said, “If you want to pay me, pay me. If not, don’t!” So they paid me 30 pieces of silver. 13 Then the Lord told me, “So that’s how much they think I’m worth. Throw that large amount of money[f] into the Temple treasury.” So I took the 30 pieces of silver and threw them into the treasury at the Lord’s Temple. 14 Then I cut the stick named Union into two pieces. I did this to show that the union between Judah and Israel had been broken.
15 Then the Lord said to me, “Now, get the things a foolish shepherd might use. 16 This will show that I will get a new shepherd for this country. But this young man will not be able to take care of the sheep that are being destroyed. He will not be able to heal the hurt sheep or feed those that are left alive. And the healthy ones will be eaten completely—only their hoofs will be left.”
17 Too bad for you, you worthless shepherd!
You abandoned my sheep.
Strike his arm and right eye with a sword.
His arm will be useless.
His right eye will be blind.
Visions About the Nations Around Judah
12 This is a message from the Lord about Israel. The Lord is the one who made the earth and the sky, and he put the human spirit in people. And this is what the Lord said: 2 “Look, I will make Jerusalem like a cup of poison to the nations around her. The nations will come and attack that city, and all of Judah will be caught in the trap. 3 But I will make Jerusalem like a heavy rock—those who try to take it will hurt themselves. They will be cut and scratched. All the nations on earth will come together to fight against Jerusalem. 4 But at that time I will scare the horse, and the soldier riding it will panic. I will make all the enemy horses blind, but my eyes will be open—and I will be watching over Judah’s family. 5 The leaders of Judah will encourage the people and say, ‘The Lord All-Powerful is your God. He makes us strong.’ 6 At that time I will make the leaders of Judah like a fire burning in a forest. They will destroy their enemies like fire burning straw. They will destroy the enemy all around them, and the people in Jerusalem will again be able to sit back and relax.”
7 The Lord will save the people of Judah first, so the people in Jerusalem will not be able to brag too much. David’s family and the other people who live in Jerusalem will not be able to brag that they are better than the other people in Judah. 8 But the Lord will protect the people in Jerusalem. Even the man who trips and falls will become a great soldier like David. And the men from David’s family will be like gods—like the Lord’s own angel leading the people.
9 The Lord says, “At that time I will destroy the nations that came to fight against Jerusalem. 10 I will fill David’s family and the people living in Jerusalem with a spirit of kindness and mercy. They will look to me, the one they stabbed, and they will be very sad. They will be as sad as someone crying over the death of their only son, as sad as someone crying over the death of their firstborn son. 11 There will be a time of great sadness and crying in Jerusalem. It will be like the time people cry over the death of Hadad Rimmon[g] in Megiddo Valley. 12 Each and every family will cry by itself. The men in David’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. The men in Nathan’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. 13 The men in Levi’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. The men in Simeon’s family will cry by themselves, and their wives will cry by themselves. 14 And the same thing will happen in all the other tribes. The men and women will cry by themselves.”
13 But at that time a new spring of water will be opened for David’s family and for the other people living in Jerusalem. That fountain will be to wash away their sins and to make the people pure.
No More False Prophets
2 The Lord All-Powerful says, “At that time I will remove all the idols from the earth. People will not even remember their names, and I will remove the false prophets and unclean spirits from the earth. 3 Whoever continues to prophesy will be punished. Even their parents, their own mother and father, will say to them, ‘You have spoken lies in the name of the Lord, so you must die!’ Their own mother and father will stab them for prophesying. 4 At that time the prophets will be ashamed of their visions and prophecies. They will not wear the rough cloth that shows a person is a prophet. They will not wear those clothes to trick people with the lies they call prophecies. 5 They will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer. I have worked as a farmer since I was a little child.’ 6 But other people will say, ‘Then what are these wounds in your hands?’ He will say, ‘I was beaten in the house of my friends.’”
7 The Lord All-Powerful says, “Sword, wake up and strike the shepherd, my friend! Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will run away. And I will punish those little ones. 8 Two-thirds of the people in the land will be struck down and die,” says the Lord, “but one-third will survive. 9 Then I will test those survivors by giving them many troubles. The troubles will be like the fire a person uses to prove silver is pure. I will test them the way a person tests gold. Then they will call to me for help, and I will answer them. I will say, ‘You are my people.’ And they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’”
The Day of Judgment
14 Look, the Lord has a special day of judgment coming, when the riches you have taken will be divided in your city. 2 I will bring all the nations together to fight against Jerusalem. They will capture the city and destroy the houses. The women will be raped, and half of the people will be taken away as prisoners. But the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. 3 Then the Lord will go to war with those nations. It will be a real battle. 4 At that time he will stand on the Mount of Olives, the hill east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will split in half. Part of the mountain will move to the north, and part to the south. A deep valley will open up, from the east to the west. 5 You will try to run away as that mountain valley comes closer and closer to you. You will run away like the time you ran from the earthquake during the time of King Uzziah of Judah. But the Lord my God will come, and all his holy ones[h] will be with him.
6-7 That will be a very special day. There will not be any light, cold, or frost. Only the Lord knows how, but there will not be any day or night. Then, when darkness usually comes, there will still be light. 8 At that time water will flow continually from Jerusalem.[i] That stream will split and part of it will flow east, and part of it will flow west to the Mediterranean Sea. And it will flow all year long, in the summer as well as in the winter. 9 And the Lord will be the King of the whole world. At that time all people will worship him as the only Lord with only one name. 10 And the whole land from Geba in the north to Rimmon in the south past Jerusalem will become a flat plain. The city of Jerusalem will stay in the same place, but it will be built high above the land around it. It will reach from the Benjamin Gate to the First Gate (that is, the Corner Gate) and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 11 People will move to Jerusalem because it will be a safe place to live. It will never again be destroyed.
12 But the Lord will punish the nations that fought against Jerusalem. He will send a terrible disease against them. Their skin will begin to rot while the people are still alive. Their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13-15 That terrible disease will be in the enemy camp, and all their horses, mules, camels, and donkeys will catch that terrible disease.
At that time they will be afraid of the Lord. Each man will grab his neighbor’s hand, and they will fight each other. Even Judah will fight against Jerusalem. This will happen even while armies from all the nations are surrounding the city. There will be much gold, silver, and clothing. 16 Some of the people who came to fight Jerusalem will survive. And every year they will come to worship the king, the Lord All-Powerful. They will come to celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 17 And if people from any of the families on earth don’t go to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord All-Powerful, no rain will fall on their land. 18 If any of the families in Egypt don’t come to celebrate the Festival of Shelters, they will get that terrible disease that the Lord caused the enemy nations to get. 19 That will be the punishment for Egypt, and for any other nation that does not come to celebrate the Festival of Shelters.
20 At that time even the harnesses on the horses will have the label, holy to the lord.[j] And all the pots used in the Lord’s Temple will be just as important as the bowls used at the altar. 21 In fact, every dish in Jerusalem and Judah will have the label, holy to the lord all-powerful. All the people offering sacrifices will come, take those dishes, and cook their special meals in them.
At that time there will not be any merchants buying and selling things[k] in the Temple of the Lord All-Powerful.
- Zechariah 8:19 days … month These were days when the people remembered the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple. See 2 Kings 25:1-25 and Jer. 41:1-17; 52:1-12.
- Zechariah 9:1 The Hebrew text here is hard to understand.
- Zechariah 9:9 People of Zion Literally, “Daughter Zion,” meaning the city of Jerusalem. See “Zion” in the Word List.
- Zechariah 9:11 empty hole in the ground People stored water in large holes in the ground. People sometimes used those holes as prisons.
- Zechariah 11:1 cedar trees In this poem, the trees, bushes, and animals are symbols for the leaders of the countries around Judah.
- Zechariah 11:13 large amount of money The Lord was making fun of the people. This was only the amount of money a person paid for a slave.
- Zechariah 12:11 Hadad Rimmon Possibly a name for the Syrian fertility god.
- Zechariah 14:5 holy ones Here, this probably means angels.
- Zechariah 14:8 water … Jerusalem Literally, “living water will flow from Jerusalem.” Jerusalem’s main water supply, the Gihon spring, did not flow continuously.
- Zechariah 14:20 Holy to the Lord These words were written on everything that was used in the Temple. This showed that these things belonged to the Lord, and that they could be used only for special purposes. Dishes with this labels could be used only by the priests in a holy place.
- Zechariah 14:21 merchants … selling things Literally, “Canaanites.”