The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Zechariah 12

Zec 12:1

Zec 12-14: Two main events are in view in this oracle: the final siege of Jerusalem and the return of Messiah to the earth to defeat His enemies and to establish His kingdom. The nations of the earth play a major role in what these chapters predict.

The repetition of "in that day" and its equivalent 19 times in these three chapters sets these events quite clearly in the Last Days -- that future period when the LORD will openly and publicly manifest His power in delivering Israel from her enemies and establishing her in millennial peace and prosperity.

In these chapters, "Yahweh" is mentioned about 30 times, "Jerusalem" about 22 times, and "the nations" 13 times.

Zec 12: The repentance of Judah: (1) Israel's deliverance (vv 1-9) and (2) Israel's national conversion (vv 10-14). These events will happen at practically the same time.

Vv 1-9: Israel's deliverance.

THE LORD, WHO STRETCHES OUT THE HEAVENS, WHO LAYS THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND WHO FORMS THE SPIRIT OF MAN WITHIN HIM: Here, at the brink of a new age, it is important to know that the same God who brought everything into existence in the first place is well able to usher in the new creation of a restored people in a renewed and universal kingdom. He who oversaw the first Creation will also be "Father" of the "New Creation"!

Zec 12:2

I AM GOING TO MAKE JERUSALEM A CUP THAT SENDS ALL THE SURROUNDING PEOPLES REELING: The LORD would make Jerusalem like a cup of strong wine to the nations (a cup of poison, or a cup of drugged slumber: see Mat 27:33,34); when they tried to consume Jerusalem (a metonymy for all Israel), it would cause them to reel. Jerusalem had previously drunk the cup of the LORD's wrath (Isa 51:17,22; Jer 25:15-17,28; Psa 75:8), but now it was the nations' turn to drink it.

JUDAH WILL BE BESIEGED AS WELL AS JERUSALEM: Their siege of Jerusalem would extend to all the surrounding territory of Judah. The time in view is after the LORD regathered the Israelites to their land (Zec 10).

ALL THE SURROUNDING PEOPLES: See Lesson, Nations "round about".

Zec 12:3

I WILL MAKE JERUSALEM AN IMMOVABLE ROCK FOR ALL THE NATIONS. ALL WHO TRY TO MOVE IT WILL INJURE THEMSELVES: In that day all the nations of the earth will gather together against Jerusalem (cp Zec 14:2; Joel 3:9-16; Rev 16:16-21). But they will injure themselves when they try to "move" Jerusalem.

Cp the "stone of stumbling" prophecies: Isa 8:14; 28:16; Psa 118:22: what the Messiah was to Israel, Jerusalem will now be to all the world!

Zec 12:4

I WILL STRIKE EVERY HORSE WITH PANIC AND ITS RIDER WITH MADNESS: The LORD would cause the weapons that Israel's enemies used to destroy the city to be ineffective (Eze 38:20,21; Zec 14:13), and He would make the hostile soldiers crazy (cp Deu 28:28; Jdg 5:22).

I WILL KEEP A WATCHFUL EYE OVER THE HOUSE OF JUDAH: Indicative of divine favor: Psa 80:1; Num 6:23-27; Rom 11:26. In this way He would watch over the house of Judah (the Israelites; cp Psa 32:8; 33:18).

Zec 12:5

Here is the growing recognition, among all Jewry, that God is with His people again! Correspondingly, there will need to be a lessening of Israel's characteristic reliance upon its own strength and its own guile.

Zec 12:6

LIKE A FLAMING TORCH AMONG SHEAVES: Cp the foxes and the firebrands of Samson: Jdg 15:3-5.

ALL THE SURROUNDING PEOPLES: See Lesson, Nations "round about".

Zec 12:7

THE LORD WILL SAVE THE DWELLINGS OF JUDAH FIRST, SO THAT THE HONOR OF THE HOUSE OF DAVID AND OF JERUSALEM'S INHABITANTS MAY NOT BE GREATER THAN THAT OF JUDAH: "Judah" here sig the peoples who are back in the land -- the Jews. So it is used here, not in the tribal sense, but in the national sense: those Jews in the land were accounted as being of the tribe of Judah -- as they were in the days of Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, even though representatives of all tribes were present (Neh 4:10,16; 6:7,17,18; 1Ch 9:2,3; Ezr 6:17).

Yahweh would defend the outlying areas of Judah first so the people from David's line and the residents of Jerusalem would not conclude that they were more important in God's sight (cp Jer 9:23-24; 1Co 1:29, 31; 12:22-26; 2Co 10:17). [In the same way David first reigned over Judah, before liberating Jerusalem itself: 2Sa 2:1-4; 5:3.] All the Jews would see that it was the LORD who was responsible for their deliverance. This would evidently end their fighting among themselves (cp Zec 11:6).

Zec 12:8

THE FEEBLEST AMONG THEM WILL BE LIKE DAVID: As part of His defending them, the LORD would strengthen the feeble among the people so they would be as strong as David, the mighty warrior. ("David" here probably means the Lord Jesus Christ, the "son of David": Mat 1:1; Luk 1:32,33; Isa 9:6,7; etc.)

AND THE HOUSE OF DAVID WILL BE LIKE GOD, LIKE THE ANGEL OF THE LORD GOING BEFORE THEM: The Davidic rulers (the immortal "sons" of David: 2Sa 7:16) would also receive supernatural strength and would be like God, as the angel of the LORD who would go before them (cp Exo 14:19; 23:20; 32:34; 33:2,14,15, 22; 1Sa 29:9; 2Sa 4:17,20; 19:27).

Zec 12:9

I WILL SET OUT TO DESTROY ALL THE NATIONS THAT ATTACK JERUSALEM: See Isa 2:4; Zec 9:13; Psa 149. Those who absolutely refuse to submit will be destroyed: Isa 60:12.

"We place the entire passage in the time of the Great Tribulation and more specifically in the Battle of Armageddon, when the nations of the earth will make their last frantic effort to blot Israel out of existence, only to be met by the most crushing defeat at the hands of the LORD of hosts Himself" (Feinberg).

Zec 12:10

Vv 10-14: Israel's conversion. The focus now turns from national deliverance to spiritual deliverance (cp Deu 30:1-10).

A SPIRIT OF GRACE AND SUPPLICATION: In contrast to the "spirit of impurity" in Zec 13:2.

THEY WILL LOOK ON ME... AND THEY WILL MOURN FOR HIM: "On" would be better rendered "TO" (Const; NET; NIV mg). "The most common meaning of the Hebrew preposition translated 'on' is 'to', and there is no good contextual reason to depart from it here. The emphasis, then, is not on looking 'on' (or 'at') the Messiah literally -- but on looking 'to' the Messiah in faith (cf Num 21:9; Isa 45:22; John 3:14,15)" (EBC).

And so they will look not to "him" alone, ie not just Jesus, but also to "ME", the Father! "In all [His Son's] affliction, he was afflicted" (Isa 63:9). And the two of them (Abraham and Isaac, typ God and His Son: Rom 8:32) "went together" (Gen 22:6,8).

This repentance will thus be an absolute realization that the One whom their forefathers crucified, Jesus of Nazareth ("him"), was and is in fact the Son of Almighty God ("Me"!). Cp Thomas' understanding, expressed in John 20:28: for him, seeing his "Lord" (ie, Jesus) was equivalent to seeing his "God" -- for Jesus was the manifestation of the Father in the flesh of human nature.

THE ONE THEY HAVE PIERCED: "He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed" (Isa 53:5).

AS ONE MOURNS FOR AN ONLY CHILD: They will mourn as one mourns over the death of one's only (beloved, cp Gen 22:2; Jer 6:26; Amos 8:10) son, or his or her firstborn son.

Zec 12:11

THE WEEPING WILL BE GREAT... IN THE PLAIN OF MEGIDDO: The historical ref is to the slaying by Pharaoh Necho of Egypt of the godly Judean king Josiah, a calamity of great public significance which occurred at Megiddo (2Ki 23:29,30; 2Ch 35:22-27).

HADAD RIMMON: "A combination of the names of two gods, the Aramean Hadad ('thunderer') and the Akkadian Rimmon, ('thunderer': cp 2Ki 5:18), for whom public mourning was made in the plain of Esdraelon at Megiddo (Zec 12:11). In the Ras Shamra mythology, the Canaanite Baal, same as the Amorite storm-god Hadad, was pictured as a kilted striding warrior with mace and thunderbolt, and a helmet with bull's horn. He was also the vegetation god. Mourning for Hadadrimmon, the dead Baal, and Tammuz (Eze 18:14) are common motifs in Mesopotamian mythology" (WyE; Merrill). Hadadrimmon may have been an important though presently unknown individual, a place near Megiddo (cp Zec 14:10; Josh 15:32; 19:7) (EBC), or a pagan deity (cp 2Ki 5:18) (Const). The devotees of the Canaanite god Baal mourned his "dying" each winter and then celebrated his "resurrection" each spring.

Zec 12:12

Vv 12-14: All the Israelites would mourn; this would be a national repentance. The repeated phrases "every family by itself" and "their wives by themselves" solemnize the mourning and underline its genuineness. "The wives are spoken of as mourning apart because in public lamentations the custom prevailed of separating into groups, also according to sex" (Leupold). "Individually and corporately, this is the experience of Lev 16 (the Day of Atonement) and Psa 51 (a penitential psalm) on a national scale... Isa 53:1-9 could well be their confession on the great occasion" (EBC).

DAVID... NATHAN: The houses of David and his son Nathan represent the political branches of the nation, though not just the kings as reference to Solomon might have suggested (cp 2Sa 5:14).

Zec 12:13

LEVI... SHIMEI: The houses of Levi and his grandson Shimei represent the religious branches of Israel, though not just the main ones that reference to Gershon, Shimei's father, might have suggested (cp Num 3:17,18,21). Perhaps the political and priestly families received mention because they were those chiefly responsible for Messiah's death.

Zec 12:14

AND ALL THE REST OF THE CLANS AND THEIR WIVES: When these leading families (vv 12,13) mourned, all the other citizens would follow their example. The families of Nathan and Shimei may have been the most prominent families of their kind in Zechariah's day. Zerubbabel came from Nathan's line (Luke 3:23-31), and the Shimeites presumably dominated the Levitical classes in the postexilic era.

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