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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The commencement of this chapter relates to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and to the calamities consequent on that event. From this great Jewish tragedy the prophet immediately passes to the utter extermination of the enemies of Christianity in the latter days. God will display his power in behalf of his people in a manner so astonishing and miraculous, that even they themselves, and much more their enemies, shall be struck with terror, Zechariah 14:4, Zechariah 14:5. The national prosperity of the Jews shall then be permanent and unmixed, Zechariah 14:6, Zechariah 14:7; and these people shall be made the instruments of converting many to the faith of the Messiah, Zechariah 14:8, Zechariah 14:9. The great increase and prosperity of the Christian Church, the New Jerusalem, is then described in terms accommodated to Jewish ideas; and the most signal vengeance denounced against all her enemies, Zechariah 14:10-19. From that happy period God's name will be honored in every thing, and his worship every where most reverently observe, Zechariah 14:20, Zechariah 14:21.
1Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee.
Behold, the day of the Lord cometh - This appears to be a prediction of that war in which Jerusalem was finally destroyed, and the Jews scattered all over the face of the earth; and of the effects produced by it.
2For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.
I will gather all nations - The Romans, whose armies were composed of all the nations of the world. In this verse there is a pitiful account given of the horrible outrages which should be committed during the siege of Jerusalem, and at its capture.
The residue of the people shad not be cut off - Many were preserved for slaves, and for exhibition in the provincial theatres.
3Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle.
Then shall the Lord go forth, and fight against those nations - Against the Romans, by means of the northern nations; who shall destroy the whole empire of this once mistress of the world. But this is an obscure place.
4And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.
And his feet shall stand - He shall appear in full possession of the place, as a mighty conqueror.
And the mount of Olives shall cleave - God shall display his miraculous power as fully in the final restoration of the Jews, as he did when he divided the Red Sea that their forefathers might pass through dry-shod. Some refer this to the destruction of the city by the Romans. It was on the mount of Olives that Titus posted his army to batter Jerusalem. Here the tenth legion that came to him from Jericho was placed. Joseph. De Bello, lib. 6 c. 3. It was from this mountain that our Lord beheld Jerusalem, and predicted its future destruction, Luke 19:41, with Matthew 24:23; and it was from this mountain that he ascended to heaven, (Acts 1:12), utterly leaving an ungrateful and condemned city.
And half of the mountain shall remove - I really think that these words refer to the lines of circumvallation, to intrenchments, redoubts, etc., which the Romans made while carrying on the siege of this city; and particularly the lines or trenches which the army made on Mount Olivet itself.
5And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with thee.
Ye shall flee to the valley - Some think this refers to the valley through which Zedekiah and others endeavored to escape when Nebuchadnezzar pressed the siege of Jerusalem: but it appears to speak only of the Jewish wars of the Romans.
Azal - This, as a place, is not known. If a place, it was most probably near to Jerusalem; and had its name from that circumstance.
6And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:
The light shall not be clear, nor dark - Metaphorically, there will be a mixture of justice and mercy in all this; or a bright light and darkness. Mercy shall triumph over judgment. There shall be darkness - distress, etc.; but there shall be more light - joy and prosperity - than darkness.
7But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.
At evening time it shall be light - At the close of this awful visitation, there shall be light. The light of the glorious Gospel shall go forth from Jerusalem; and next, from the Roman empire to every part of the earth.
8And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be.
Living waters shall go out - There shall be a wide diffusion of Divine knowledge, and of the plan of human salvation, which shall go out by apostles and preachers, first from Jerusalem, then to Syria, Asia Minor, Greece, Italy, the isles of the sea, Britain, etc.
The former sea, and - the hinder sea - The Dead Sea and the Mediterranean; see on Joel 2:20 (note). These are metaphors.
In summer - In time of drought; or in the countries where there was no knowledge of God, there shall these waters flow. The stream shall never cease; it shall run in summer as well as winter. These are living waters - perennial, incessant, and waters that shall preserve life. See John 7:37.
9And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
And the Lord shall be King - When this universal diffusion of Divine knowledge shall take place. Wherever it goes, the laws of God shall be acknowledged; and, consequently, he shall be King over the whole earth.
One Lord, and his name one - There shall be in those blessed days, only one religion, and one form of religion. There shall not be gods many, and lords many. All mankind shall be of one religion, the essence of which is, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, soul, mind, and strength; and thy Neighbor as thyself."
10All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin's gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king's winepresses.
All the land shall be turned as a plain - Or rather, "He shall encompass the whole land as a plain." He shall cast his defence all around it; from Geba, in Benjamin, north of Jerusalem, (Joshua 21:17), to Rimmon in Judah, to the south of Jerusalem, Joshua 15:32.
It shall be lifted up - The city shall be exalted.
And inhabited in her place - Jerusalem, shall be rebuilt In the very place in which it originally stood. From Benjamin's gate, which was probably on the north side of Jerusalem, unto the place of the first gate, supposed to be that called the old gate, Nehemiah 3:6; Nehemiah 12:39, placed by Lightfoot towards the southwest.
Unto the corner gate - See 2 Kings 14:13.
The tower of Hananeel - This tower and the corner gate seem to be placed as two extremities of the city.
Unto the king's wine-presses - Near to the king's gardens, southward. - See Newcome.
11And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited.
There shall be no more utter destruction - After this final restoration of Jerusalem it shall never more be destroyed; but as this was the first city of the living God upon earth, so shall it be the last; it shall be safely inhabited. It shall see war no more.
12And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; Their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth.
And this shall be the plague - All her enemies shall be destroyed.
Their flesh shall consume away - These are the effects of famine which are described in this verse.
13And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour.
A great tumult from the Lord - Among those enemies of his Church, who shall engage and destroy each other.
14And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance.
And Judah also shall fight - They shall have little else to do than take the spoil, the wealth of all the heathen round about; gold, silver, and apparel.
15And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.
So shall be the plague of the horse, and the mule - There shall be plagues on the substance of the enemies of the Church, as there were on the cattle and goods of the Egyptians.
16And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.
Shall even go up from year to year - The Jews had three grand original festivals, which characterized different epochs in their history, viz.: -
1. The feast of the passover, in commemoration of their departure from Egypt.
2. The feast of pentecost, in commemoration of the giving of the law upon Mount Sinai.
3. The feast of tabernacles, in commemoration of their wandering forty years in the wilderness.
This last feast is very properly brought in here to point out the final restoration of the Jews, and their establishment in the light and liberty of the Gospel of Christ, after their long wandering in vice and error.
17And it shall be, that whoso will not come up of all the families of the earth unto Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, even upon them shall be no rain.
Upon them shall be no rain - Those who do not worship God shall not have his blessing; and those who do not attend Divine ordinances cannot have the graces and blessings which God usually dispenses by them. On such slothful, idle Christians, there shall be no rain!
18And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not, that have no rain; there shall be the plague, wherewith the LORD will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
If the family of Egypt - This may allude to those Jews who, flying from the persecution of Antiochus Epiphanes, settled in Egypt, and built a temple at Heliopolis, under the direction of Onias, son of the high priest. Josephus Antiq. lib. xiii., c. 6, and War, lib. vii., c. 36. If these do not rejoin their brethren, they shall have no rain, no interest in the favor of God.
19This shall be the punishment of Egypt, and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles.
This shall be the punishment - of all nations that come not up - God will have his public worship established everywhere, and those who do not worship him shall lie under his curse.
20In that day shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS UNTO THE LORD; and the pots in the LORD'S house shall be like the bowls before the altar.
Upon the bells of the horses - They appear, formerly, to have had bells on horses, camels, etc., as we have now, to amuse the animals, and encourage them in their work. In some very fine Asiatic paintings now before me, I see bells both on horses, mules, and camels; little bells tied to their legs, and larger ones about their necks, particularly in the representation of a caravan passing through the valley of serpents, in the island of Serendib, now Ceylon. The margin reads bridles.
Holiness Unto The Lord - As the Gospel is a holy system, preaching holiness and producing holiness in those who believe, so all without, as well as within, shall bear this impress; and even a man's labor shall be begun and continued, and ended in the Lord; yea, and the animals he uses, and the instruments he works with, shall be all consecrated to God through Christ.
The pots - "The meanest utensil in the house of God, Nehemiah 10:29, shall be as the vessels of silver, and gold used in solemn sacrifice; they shall be like the bowls before the altar." - See Newcome.
21Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the LORD of hosts: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the LORD of hosts.
Yea, every pot in Jerusalem - "The utensils of the Jews shall be treated as holy, and the worshippers shall use them reverently. The idea of preparing food in them (they that - seethe therein) is taken from the custom of feasting after sacrifice. And no trafficker (see Ezekiel 18:4) shall pollute the house of God, as was the custom when our blessed Lord cleansed the temple." - See Newcome. This is what is called the Canaanite in the house of God. The Canaanite is the merchant; and where such are tolerated in a place dedicated to Divine worship, that is not the house of the Lord of hosts. In churches and chapels, collections may be made for the simple purpose of supporting and extending the worship of Jehovah; but for no other purpose, especially on the Lord's day. Amen.