Zechariah 9 (Power versus peace)
Zechariah 1-8 serve as Part One of the book, but Zechariah 9-14 serve as Part Two. At this point, Zechariah dives deeply into predictions about the Messiah, as well as Israel’s future. Barker writes, “While chapters 1-8 contain occasional glimpses of future events, chapters 9-14 are almost exclusively eschatological.” In these six chapters, Zechariah uses the expression “on that day” 18 times.
Summary: Some commentators believe that this death march against the enemies of Israel is a prediction of Alexander the Great, who attacked and destroyed all of these nations in 330’s BC—not this view has difficulties (see v.8).
Alexander the Great conquers the ancient Near East, but not Israel
(9:1) Hadrach is in the larger area of Hamath. Damascus is in the region of Arameans.
“The eyes of men, especially of all the tribes of Israel, are toward the LORD.” This could refer to the fear of the nations, as God judges. It could also refer to people who were looking at Alexander’s conquest, but since God was using Alexander, the nations were actually looking at God.
(9:2-4) Ezekiel also predicted the destruction of Tyre and Sidon (Ezek. 26:3-14; 28:20-24). Alexander the Great was the one who destroyed Tyre (see “Predictions of Ruined Cities”).
(9:5-7) Four out of the five cities of the Philistines are mentioned here. Gath is omitted because they were losing status. Alexander the Great put an end to the monarchy in Gaza (“the king will perish from Gaza”).
The Philistines will be brought into the nation of Israel (!!). Being treated like the “Jebusites” is a positive thing, because David didn’t destroy the Jebusites (2 Sam. 24:16; 1 Chron. 21:18).
(9:8) Barker understands this to predict Alexander the Great conquering Egypt in 333 BC. The difficulty with this view is the language of verse 8: “I will defend my house against marauding forces. Never again will an oppressor overrun my people” (NIV). Of course, the Jewish people were overtaken in AD 70. Barker retorts that this must refer to the Second Coming of Jesus for its “complete fulfillment.”
However, Josephus recounts the remarkable protection of Alexander. First, Josephus recounts how Alexander overtook Tyre and Gaza, closing in on Israel (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 11.313-328). The high priest at the time (Jaddua) came out to meet Alexander—along with the other priests. Then Josephus writes,
Alexander, when he saw the multitude at a distance, in white garments, while the priests stood clothed with fine linen, and the high priest in purple and scarlet clothing… first saluted the high priest. (332) The Jews also did all together, with one voice, salute Alexander, and encompass him about: whereupon the kings of Syria and the rest were surprised at what Alexander had done, and supposed him disordered in his mind.
Alexander explained that he had seen all of this in a dream, and he thought that this was a divine message to him about these Jewish people (333-335). Then Josephus continues,
(336) …when [Alexander] went up into the temple, he offered sacrifice to God, according to the high priest’s direction, and magnificently treated both the high priest and the priests. (337) And when the book of Daniel was showed him, wherein Daniel declared that one of the Greeks should destroy the empire of the Persians, he supposed that himself was the person intended; and as he was then glad, he dismissed the multitude for the present, but the next day he called them to him, and bade them ask what favors they pleased of him: (338) whereupon the high priest desired that they might enjoy the laws of their forefathers, and might pay no tribute on the seventh year. He granted all they desired: and when they entreated him that he would permit the Jews in Babylon and Media to enjoy their own laws also, he willingly promised to do hereafter what they desired: (339) and when he said to the multitude, that if any of them would enlist themselves in his army on this condition, that they should continue under the law of their forefathers, and live according to them, he was willing to take them with him, many were ready to accompany him in his wars” (Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 11.313-320)
There may be legend mixed with history in Josephus’ account. However, at the end of the day, Alexander most likely visited Jerusalem, and the city was definitely spared by him. This is high unlikely in view of the fact that Alexander had just destroyed Tyre and Gaza.
The arrival of the Messiah
The military conquering of Alexander the Great is juxtaposed by the arrival of the peaceful Messiah, who will destroy the weapons of the various lands.
(9:9) The call to rejoice is similar to Zephaniah 3:14. The reason for the rejoicing is the fact that there is a new King in town!
He is “just.”
He brings “salvation.”
He is humble, riding on a colt—not a stallion or chariot (cf. Mt. 11:29). He doesn’t come on a war horse (mentioned in verse 10).
Jesus fulfilled this prediction (Mt. 21:1-9; Mk. 11:1-10; Lk. 19:28-38; Jn. 12:12-15) in what Darrell Bock calls his “untriumphal entry.” The people didn’t accept his offer of peace, however (Lk. 19:39-44).
(9:10) The King comes in verse 9, and the Kingdom comes in verse 10. His kingdom will begin in Israel and stretch to around the world. Other prophets mention the peace brought by the Messiah as well (Isa. 2:4; 9:5-7; 11:1-10; Mic. 5:10-15).
(9:11-13) This returns to how the Messiah will protect the city of Jerusalem. He will put down enemies in judgment. The “blood of the covenant” could refer to the Mosaic Covenant (Ex. 24:3-8), or more likely, it refers to the Abrahamic or Davidic Covenants. After all, the Messiah didn’t come because the Jewish people were so righteous. He came because of God’s unconditional covenant.
(9:14-16) This seems to pick up with the Second Coming. Though, this states that Yahweh (the “LORD”) will fight for Israel.
(9:17) God will bring material blessing on the people—both food and wine.
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