Zechariah 1:3
Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.
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Zechariah 1:3-6. Therefore say — Rather, but say thou unto them, Thus saith the Lord, Turn ye unto me — The word turn, as it related to the people, signified that they should change their corrupt manners and turn to God in newness of life; and by God’s turning to them, was meant, that he would take them again into his favour, and perform for them acts of manifest kindness, instead of displeasure. Be ye not as your fathers — Do not persist in impenitence as your fathers did. Instead of being hardened in your evil courses by the example of your fathers’ sin, rather be deterred from those courses by the example of your fathers’ punishment. Your fathers, where are they — Where are your disobedient fathers? Were they not consumed with famine and the sword, as God threatened them? And the prophets, do they live for ever — Though the prophets, and those to whom they delivered their message, are dead, yet the commandments delivered by their ministry still continue in full force; which appears by the judgments that came upon your fathers, for not hearkening to them; as they themselves could not but acknowledge. And the same punishments will overtake you, if you continue disobedient. But my words — The dreadful menaces which I delivered; and my statutes — The decreed judgments which I resolved to execute on them: did they not take hold on your fathers? — Overtake them as a pursuing enemy overtakes and seizes on the object of his hostility? In other words, Did not the evils which I had denounced by the prophets come upon your fathers? And they returned, &c. — They were forced to acknowledge with sorrow, that all those calamities which I had threatened against them, and forewarned them of, if they did not obey my voice, were actually come upon them.

1:1-6 God's almighty power and sovereign dominion, should engage and encourage sinners to repent and turn to Him. It is very desirable to have the Lord of hosts for our friend, and very dreadful to have him for our enemy. Review what is past, and observe the message God sent by his servants, the prophets, to your fathers. Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings. Be persuaded to leave your sins, as the only way to prevent approaching ruin. What is become of our fathers, and of the prophets that preached to them? They are all dead and gone. Here they were, in the towns and countries where we live, passing and repassing in the same streets, dwelling in the same houses, trading in the same shops and exchanges, worshipping God in the same places. But where are they? When they died, there was not an end of them; they are in eternity, in the world of spirits, the unchangeable world to which we hasten apace. Where are they? Those of them who lived and died in sin, are in torment. Those who lived and died in Christ, are in heaven; and if we live and die as they did, we shall be with them shortly and eternally. If they minded not their own souls, is that a reason why their posterity should ruin theirs also? The prophets are gone. Christ is a Prophet that lives for ever, but all other prophets have a period put to their office. Oh that this consideration had its due weight; that dying ministers are dealing with dying people about their never-dying souls, and an awful eternity, upon the brink of which both are standing! In another world, both we and our prophets shall live for ever: to prepare for that world ought to be our great care in this. The preachers died, and the hearers died, but the word of God died not; not one jot or title of it fell to the ground; for he is righteous.Therefore say thou - Literally, "And thou sayest," that is, this having been so, it follows that thou sayest or must say, "Turn ye unto Me." In some degree they had turned to God, for whose sake they had returned to their land; and again when, after some negligence Haggai 1:2-11, they renewed the building of the temple, and God had said, "I am with you" Haggai 1:13. But there needed yet a more inward, more complete turning, whereon God promises a yet nearer presence, as Malachi repeats the words Malachi 3:7, and James exhorts, "Draw nigh to God and He will draw nigh to you" James 4:8. Those who have turned to God need ever to turn more into the center of the narrow way. As the soul opens itself more to God, God, whose communication of Himself is ever hindered only by our closing the door of our hearts against Him, enters more into it. "If a man love Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and We will come unto him, and make Our abode with him" John 14:23.

Osorius: "People are said to be converted, when leaving behind them deceitful goods, they give their whole mind to God, bestowing no less pains and zeal on divine things than before on the nothings of life."

Conc. Trid. Sess. vi. c. 5: "When it is said in Holy Scripture, "Turn unto Me and I will turn unto you," we are admonished as to our own freedom; when we answer, "Turn us, Lord, unto Thee, and we shall be turned," we confess that we are forecome by the grace of God."

3. saith the Lord of hosts—a phrase frequent in Haggai and Zechariah, implying God's boundless resources and universal power, so as to inspire the Jews with confidence to work.

Turn ye unto me … and I will turn—that is, and then, as the sure consequence, "I will turn unto you" (Mal 3:7; Jas 4:8; compare also Jer 3:12; Eze 18:30; Mic 7:19). Though God hath brought you back from captivity, yet this state will not last long unless ye are really converted. God has heavier scourges ready, and has begun to give symptoms of displeasure [Calvin]. (Hag 1:6).

Therefore, Heb.

And. Say; command and require.

Unto them of the captivity who are returned to their own land.

Thus saith the Lord of hosts; in my name, by the authority I have over them as Lord of hosts, require they hear and obey.

Turn ye unto me; repent ye of all your sins, leave them, set your hearts on my law to obey it, on my worship to give me it, on my temple to re-edify it.

Saith the Lord of hosts; who can punish your refusal, who can protect you in your return, and reward your obedience.

I will turn unto you, with blessings, with all blessings, which my presence brings to a repenting people. It was woe with you, and your fathers, when I departed from them, but it shall be as well with them when I return unto them.

Saith the Lord of hosts; that you may be assured hereof, I promise it to you, and will be engaged to perform, as Lord of hosts, as having all things at my disposal.

Therefore say thou unto them,.... This is an order from the Lord to Zechariah, to say unto them, in the name of the Lord:

thus saith the Lord of hosts; of the hosts above and below, of angels and of men, of heaven and earth, and all that is therein: this is said, that the greater regard might be had to his words:

turn ye unto me, saith the Lord of hosts; by repentance, and acknowledgment of former sins; by reformation for the future; by attending to the worship and service of God, and seeking to glorify him. So the Targum, "return to my worship": this is not the condition of what follows, but what follows is the motive and encouragement to this:

and I will turn unto you, saith the Lord of hosts; to dwell among them, manifest himself unto and protect them. Three times the phrase, "the Lord of hosts", is used in this verse: it may be with respect to the three Persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit; who manifest themselves unto, and take up their abode with, such as love the Lord, and keep his commandments; see John 14:21.

Therefore say thou unto them, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; {d} Turn ye unto me, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will turn unto you, saith the LORD of hosts.

(d) Let your fruits declare that you are God's people, and that he has wrought in you by his Spirit, and mortified you: for otherwise man has no power to return to God, but God must convert him; Jer 31:18 La 5:21 Isa 31:6 45:21

3. saith the Lord of hosts] See note on Haggai 2:6. In this verse the phrase occurs three times. The first and third times it is literally, “saith Jehovah of hosts.” But the second time there is a variation in the Hebrew and it is properly “(it is the) utterance, or oracle of Jehovah of hosts.” The same interchange of the two forms of expression is found in Haggai 1:8-9; Haggai 2:6-9.

3. The interpreting angel;

a clear and satisfactory idea of the vision is obtained. The man riding upon a red horse, the Leader of the company of horsemen, appears again in Zechariah 1:10, where the circumstance of his “standing among the myrtle-trees” is repeated, in order to identify him with the horseman of Zechariah 1:8. In Zechariah 1:11 he is called “the Angel of the Lord;” but to make it clear that he is the same person who was previously described as “a man,” his “standing among the myrtle trees” is again mentioned. Having thus been defined as the angel of the Lord (and he is the only person throughout the vision to whom that name is given) he is referred to in the next verse, Zechariah 1:12, by that title only, there being no further need to mention the circumstance of his standing among the myrtle trees, which was only introduced for the purpose of identifying him with the “man” of Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 1:10. In Zechariah 1:13 he who is “a man” in Zechariah 1:8, and “the Angel of Jehovah” in Zechariah 1:11-12, becomes perhaps (see note on that verse) “Jehovah” Himself. If this view be adopted, then only one other angel appears upon the scene, “the angel that talked or communed with me” (Zechariah 1:9; Zechariah 1:13-14), who on this supposition stands, as it were, outside in this as he does in all the subsequent visions, and is only employed to interpret them to the prophet.

the myrtles] The myrtle is said to be indigenous to Palestine. That it abounded in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem at this period of Jewish history we learn incidentally, from the description of the Feast of Tabernacles, which was held under Ezra and Nehemiah. “Go forth,” so the proclamation ran, “unto the mount, and fetch olive-branches, and pine-branches, and myrtle-branches, and palm-branches, and branches of thick trees, to make booths, as it is written.” Nehemiah 8:15.

in the bottom] i.e. the low, deep valley, which appears to have been the favourite habitat of the myrtle. Comp. “litora myrtetis lætissima,” “amantes litora myrtos.” Virgil, Georg. ii. 112, iv. 124. Here it may well have been the valley of the Kedron. Others render, but with less probability, “the shady (place).” The idea that the “tabernacle” or dwelling-place of God is intended has nothing to recommend it.

red horses, speckled, and white] With respect to the first and last of the colours, “red,” i.e. bay or chestnut, and “white,” there is no doubt. What exactly the intermediate colour is, “speckled,” or “bay” (margin), “sorrel,” R.V., must remain uncertain. Much ingenuity has been expended in endeavouring to give a meaning to the various colours of the horses. But inasmuch as the horsemen have been on the same mission, Zechariah 1:10, and all bring back the same report, Zechariah 1:11, and no reference is made to the colour of their horses by the angel who interprets the vision, it may fairly be regarded as a detail, to which no special importance is to be attached. We may say with Calvin (and it is a remark of general application to the visions and parables both of the Old Testament and of the New), “Si contenti simus mediocritate, nihil hic erit adeo perplexum, quin saltem facile sit summam totius vaticinii colligere. Sed multum nocuit curiositas interpretum, qui dum excutiunt singulas syllabas, pueriliter ludunt in multis.” His own view is, that the obscurity in which the vision is shrouded, the dark night, the low valley, the sombre myrtles, is intended to remind the prophet that God’s judgments are unsearchable and His ways past finding out, while the angel riders are a help to his human weakness to understand how, like a king whose couriers are continually passing to and fro throughout his dominions, the Almighty is intimately acquainted with all that is done upon earth, and the different coloured horses picture to his mind the truth, that all human events, whatever be their complexion, are alike under the cognisance and control of the never-failing Providence, which ordereth all things both in heaven and earth; and we may add, however diverse they appear, are all working harmoniously to accomplish His will.

Verse 3. - Say thou unto them. The prophet shows why he has reminded them of their forefathers' sins and punishment. Saith the Lord of hosts. The expression recurs three times in this verse; it denotes the almightiness and infinite resources of God (see note A in the appendix to Archdeacon Perowne's edition of this prophet). Its constant repetition, as in Haggai, gives a certain heaviness to the prophet's style. Turn (return) ye unto me. He calls the people to repentance, partly, doubtless, with a view to their taking an active part in rebuilding the temple, thus carrying on the exhortations of Haggai, but also with reference to their general indevotion and laxity which Ezra afterwards had to reprove (see Ezra 9:2). Saith the Lord of hosts; literally, (it is) the utterance of Jehovah of hosts. This is a more threatening form than the mere "saith" in the other two places in this verse. And I will turn (return) unto you (Malachi 3:7). God promises his favour on their repentance and better conduct; as Haggai had been commissioned to proclaim a return of fruitful seasons as soon as the people obeyed his word and attended diligently to the work before them (Haggai 2:19). They were called now to attend to the pure worship of the Lord, as the sole condition of prosperity (comp. 2 Chronicles 30:6; James 4:8). It has been well observed that when it is said, "Turn ye unto me," etc., we are reminded of our free will; and when we cry, "Turn us, good Lord, and we shall be turned," we acknowledge the need of God's preventing grace. Zechariah 1:3The first word of the Lord was addressed to the prophet Zechariah in the eighth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, and therefore about two months after Haggai's first prophecy and the commencement of the rebuilding of the temple, which that prophecy was intended to promote (compare Zechariah 1:1 with Haggai 1:1 and Haggai 1:15), and a few weeks after Haggai's prophecy of the great glory which the new temple would receive (Haggai 2:1-9). Just as Haggai encouraged the chiefs and the people of Judah to continue vigorously the building that had been commenced by this announcement of salvation, so Zechariah opens his prophetic labours with the admonition to turn with sincerity to the Lord, and with the warning not to bring the same punishment upon themselves by falling back into the sins of the fathers. This exhortation to repentance, although it was communicated to the prophet in the form of a special revelation from God, is actually only the introduction to the prophecies which follow, requiring thorough repentance as the condition of obtaining the desired salvation, and at the same time setting before the impenitent and ungodly still further heavy judgments.

(Note: "The prophet is thus instructed by God, that, before exhibiting to the nation the rich blessings of God for them to look at under the form of symbolical images, he is to declare the duty of His people, or the condition upon which it will be becoming in God to grant them an abundant supply of these good things." - Vitringa, Comm. in Sach. p. 76.)

Zechariah 1:1. Bachōdesh hasshemı̄nı̄ does not mean "on the eighth new moon" (Kimchi, Chr. B. Mich., Koehl.); for chōdesh is never used in chronological notices for the new moon, or the first new moon's day (see at Exodus 19:1). The day of the eighth month is left indefinite, because this was of no importance whatever to the contents of this particular address. The word of the Lord was as follows: Zechariah 1:2. "Jehovah was angry with wrath concerning your fathers. Zechariah 1:3. And thou shalt say to them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Return ye to me, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, so will I return to you, saith Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 1:4. Be not like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Turn now from your evil ways, and from your evil actions! But they hearkened not, and paid no attention to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The statement in Zechariah 1:2 contains the ground for the summons to turn, which the prophet is to address to the people, and is therefore placed before ואמרתּ in Zechariah 1:3, by which this summons is introduced. Because the Lord was very angry concerning the fathers, those who are living now are to repent with sincerity of heart. The noun qetseph is added as the object to the verb, to give it greater force. The nation had experienced the severe anger of God at the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, and of Jerusalem and the temple, and also in exile. The statement in Zechariah 1:15, that Jehovah was angry מעט, is not at variance with this; for מעט does not refer to the strength of the anger, but to its duration. ואמרתּ is the perf. with Vav consec., and is used for the imperative, because the summons to repentance follows as a necessary consequence from the fact stated in Zechariah 1:2 (cf. Ewald, 342, b and c). אלהם does not refer to the fathers, which might appear to be grammatically the simplest interpretation, but to the contemporaries of the prophet, addressed in the pronoun your fathers, the existing generation of Judah. שׁוּבוּ אלי does not presuppose that the people had just fallen away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a thorough conversion of heart. So had Jehovah also turned to the people again, and had not only put an end to the sufferings of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had returned (compare אני אתּכם in Haggai 1:13); but the more earnestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to Him, the more faithfully and the more gloriously would He bestow upon them His grace and the promised salvation. This admonition is shown to be extremely important by the threefold "saith the Lord of Zebaoth," and strengthened still further in Zechariah 1:4 by the negative turn not to do like the fathers, who cast the admonitions of the prophets to the winds. The "earlier prophets" are those before the captivity (cf. Zechariah 7:7, Zechariah 7:12). The predicate ראשׁנים points to the fact that there was a gap between Zechariah and his predecessors, namely the period of the exile, so that Daniel and Ezekiel, who lived in exile, are overlooked; the former because his prophecies are not admonitions addressed to the people, the latter because the greater part of his ministry fell in the very commencement of the exile. Moreover, when alluding to the admonitions of the earlier prophets, Zechariah has not only such utterances in his mind as those in which the prophets summoned the people to repentance with the words שׁוּבוּ וגו (e.g., Joel 2:13; Hosea 14:2-3; Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:12., Zechariah 7:13, etc.), but the admonitions, threatenings, and reproofs of the earlier prophets generally (compare 2 Kings 17:13.). The chethib מעליליכם is to be read מעליליכם, a plural form עלילים from עלילה, and is to be retained, since the preposition min is wanting in the keri; and this reading has probably only arisen from the offence taken at the use of the plural form ‛ălı̄lı̄m, which does not occur elsewhere, in the place of ‛ălı̄lōth, although there are many analogies to such a formation, and feminine forms frequently have plurals in ־ים, either instead of those in ־ות or in addition to them.

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