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ZECHARIAH, BOOK OF.

—Biblical Data:

Prophetical book composed of fourteen chapters; the eleventh in the order of the Minor Prophets, following Haggai and preceding Malachi. Ch. i.-viii. comprise three prophecies: (1) an introduction (i. 1-6); (2) a complex of visions (i. 7-vi.); and (3) the seed of Peace (vii.-viii.).

  • (1) The introduction, dated in the eighth month of the second year of King Darius, is an admonition to repentance addressed to the people and rendered impressive by reference to the consequences of disobedience, of which the experience of the fathers is a witness.
Contents.
  • (2) This introductory exhortation is followed on the twenty-fourth day of the month of Shebaṭ by eight symbolic visions: (a) angel-horsemen (i. 7-17); (b) the four horns and the four smiths (i. 18-21 [English], ii. 1-4 [Hebrew]); (c) the city of peace (ii. 1-5 [English]); (d) the high priest and the Satan (iii.); (e) the Temple candlestick and the olive-trees (iv.); (f) the winged scroll (v. 1-4); (g) the woman in the barrel (v. 5-11); (h) the chariots of the four winds (vi. 1-8). To these is added a historical appendix, in which the prophet speaks of the divine command to turn the gold and silver offered by some of the exiles into a crown for Joshua (or Zerubbabel ?), and reiterates the promise of the Messiah (vi. 9-15).
  • (3) The next two chapters (vii.-viii.) are devoted to censuring fasting and mourning (vii.) when obedience to God's moral law is essential, and to describing the Messianic future.

Ch. ix.-xiv. contain:

  • (1) A prophecy concerning the judgment about to fall upon Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Zidon, and the cities of the Philistines (ix.).
  • (2) Exhortation of the people to seek help not from Teraphim and diviners but from Yhwh.
  • (3) Announcement of war upon unworthy tyrants, followed by an allegory in which the faithless people is censured and the brotherhood between Israel and Judah is declared to be at an end; fate of the unworthy shepherd (xi.). To this chapter xiii. 7-9 seems to belong, as descriptive of a process of purification by the sword and fire, two-thirds of the people being consumed.
  • (4) Judah versus Jerusalem (xii. 1-7).
  • (5) Results, four in number, of Jerusalem's deliverance (xii. 8-xiii. 6).
  • (6) The judgment of the heathen and the sanctification of Jerusalem (xiv.).
—Critical View:

Inspection of its contents shows immediately that the book readily divides into two parts; namely, i.-viii. and ix.-xiv., each of which is distinguished from the other by its method of presenting the subject and by the range of the subject presented. In the first part Israel is the object of solicitude; and to encourage it to proceed with the rearing of the Temple and to secure the recognition of Zerubbabel and Joshua are the purposes of the prophecy. Visions, which are described and construed so as to indicate Yhwh's approval of the prophet's anxiety, predominate as the mediums of the prophetic message, and the lesson is fortified by appeals to Israel's past history, while stress is laid on righteousness versus ritualism. The date is definitely assigned to the second year of King Darius Hystaspes. The historical background is the condition which confronted the Jews who first returned from the Exile (see, however, Koster's "Herstel von Israel," 1894). Some event—according to Stade, the revolt of Smerdis; but more probably the second conquest of Babylon under Darius—seems to have inspired buoyant hopes in the otherwise despondent congregation in Jerusalem, thus raising their Messianic expectations (Zech. ii. 10 [A. V. 6] et seq. vi. 8) to a firm belief in the reestablishing of David's throne and the universal acknowledgment of the supremacy of Yhwh. Angels and Satan are intermediaries and actors.

The Second Zechariah.

In the second part the method is radically different. Apocalyptic visions are altogether lacking, and historical data and chronological material are absent. The style is fantastic and contains many obscure allusions. That the two parts are widely divergent in date and authorship is admitted by all modern critics, but while there is general agreement that the first part is by the prophet Zechariah, no harmony has yet been attained concerning the identity or the date of the second part.

Many recent commentators regard the second part as older than the first, and as preexilic in date. They would divide it, furthermore, into at least two parts, ix.-xi. and xii.-xiv., the former by an author contemporary with Amos and Hosea. This assignment is based on the facts that both Israel and Judah are mentioned, and that the names of Assyria, Egypt, and the contiguous nations are juxtaposed, much as they are in Amos. The sins censured are falseprophecy and idolatry (xiii. 1-6). This group of chapters (xii.-xiv.), containing the denunciations familiar in all preexilic prophets, is regarded as later than the other division, since only Judah is mentioned. It is therefore assigned to the period after the fall of the Northern Kingdom, and more specifically, on account of xii. 11, to the last days of the Southern Kingdom after the battle of Megiddo and the death of King Josiah.

Date of the Second Zechariah.

Other scholars have argued with much plausibility for the hypothesis that the second part belongs to a very late period of Jewish history. In the first place, the theology (see Eschatology) of these chapters shows tendencies which are not found in Amos, Hosea, Isaiah, or Jeremiah, but are due to Ezekiel's influence, such as the war on Jerusalem preceding the Messianic triumph. Again, the Temple service (xiv.) is focal even in the Messianic age, and this suggests the religious atmosphere of the Sadducean and Maccabean theocracy with Zion as its technical designation. A mixture of races is also mentioned, a reminiscence of conditions described by Nehemiah (Neh. xiii. 23 et seq.), while deliverance from Babylonian exile underlies such promises as occur in ix. 12. The advent of a king is expected, though as yet only a Davidic family is known in Jerusalem (xii. 7, 12).

The second part of the book may thus be recognized to be a compilation rather than a unit, all its components being post-exilic in character. Two groups, ix.-xi. and xii.-xiv., are clearly indicated. The second group (xii.-xiv.) is eschatological and has no individual coloring, although from the contrast between Jerusalem and the country of Judah a situation may be inferred which recalls the conditions of the early stages of the Maccabean rebellion. The first group may likewise be subdivided into two sections, ix. 1-xi. 3 and xi. 4-17 and xiii. 7-9. The Greeks (see Javan) are described in ix. 13 as enemies of Judea, and the Assyrians and Egyptians are similarly mentioned in x., these names denoting the Syrians (Seleucidæ) and the Ptolemies. In ix. 1-2 Damascus, Hamath, and Hadrach are seats of the Seleucid kings, a situation which is known to have existed in 200-165 B.C. The internal conditions of the Jewish community immediately before the Maccabean uprising appear in the second subdivision, where the shepherds are the tax-farmers (see Tobiads; Menelaus). In xi. 13 there seems to be an allusion to Hyrcanus, son of Tobias, who was an exception among the rapacious shepherds.

Bibliography:
  • Wright, Zechariah and His Prophecies, 2d ed., London, 1879, which gives earlier literature;
  • Stade, Deuterozachariah, in Zeitschrift für Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft, 1881-82;
  • the commentaries by Marti, Nowack, and Wellhausen;
  • G. A. Smith, Twelve Prophets, ii.;
  • Bredenkamp, Der Prophet Sacharya, 1879;
  • Sellin, Studien zur Entstehungszeit der Jüdischen Gemeinde, 1901;
  • Stärk, Untersuchungen über die Komposition und Abfassungszeit von Zachariah, 1891, ix.-xiv.
E. G. H.
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