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Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
1Again the word of the LORD of hosts came to me, saying,
2Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury.
I was jealous - Some refer this to the Jews themselves. They were as the spouse of Jehovah: but they were unfaithful, and God punished them as an injured husband might be expected to punish an unfaithful wife. Others apply it to the enemies of the Jews. Though I gave them a commission to afflict you, yet they exceeded their commission: I will therefore deal with them in fury - in vindictive justice.
3Thus saith the LORD; I am returned unto Zion, and will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and Jerusalem shall be called a city of truth; and the mountain of the LORD of hosts the holy mountain.
I am returned unto Zion - I have restored her from her captivity. I will dwell among them. The temple shall be rebuilt, and so shall Jerusalem; and instead of being false, unholy, and profligate, it shall be the city of truth. and my holy mountain. Truth shall dwell in it.
4Thus saith the LORD of hosts; There shall yet old men and old women dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, and every man with his staff in his hand for very age.
There shall yet old men and old women - In those happy times the followers of God shall live out all their days, and the hoary head be always found in the way of righteousness.
5And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in the streets thereof.
The streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls - The progeny shall be numerous, healthy, and happy. Their innocent gambols and useful exercises shall be a means of health, and a proof of happiness. To be healthy, children must have exercise. But they cannot take exercise, except in the way of play and diversion: ergo, such playfulness cannot be sinful. Let them be kept from evil words, lying, swearing, and scurrility; and all the rest may be innocent.
6Thus saith the LORD of hosts; If it be marvellous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in these days, should it also be marvellous in mine eyes? saith the LORD of hosts.
If it be marvellous - You may think that this is impossible, considering your present low condition: but suppose it be impossible in your eyes, should it be so in mine! saith the Lord of hosts.
7Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country;
I will save my people from the east country, and from the west - From every land in which any of them may be found. But these promises principally regard the Christian Church, or the bringing in the Jews with the fullness of the Gentiles.
8And I will bring them, and they shall dwell in the midst of Jerusalem: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness.
9Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Let your hands be strong, ye that hear in these days these words by the mouth of the prophets, which were in the day that the foundation of the house of the LORD of hosts was laid, that the temple might be built.
By the mouth of the prophets - The day or time of the foundation was about two years before, as this discourse of the prophet was in the fourth year of Darius. After this God raised up prophets among them.
10For before these days there was no hire for man, nor any hire for beast; neither was there any peace to him that went out or came in because of the affliction: for I set all men every one against his neighbour.
For before these days there was no hire for man - Previously to this, ye had no prosperity; ye had nothing but civil divisions and domestic broils. I abandoned you to your own spirits, and to your own ways.
11But now I will not be unto the residue of this people as in the former days, saith the LORD of hosts.
12For the seed shall be prosperous; the vine shall give her fruit, and the ground shall give her increase, and the heavens shall give their dew; and I will cause the remnant of this people to possess all these things.
For the seed shall be prosperous - Ye shall be a holy and peaceable people; and God will pour down his blessing on yourselves, your fields, and your vineyards.
13And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.
As ye were a curse - Instead of being execrated among the people, ye shall be blessed; instead of being reproached, ye shall be commended. Ye shall be a blessing to all the nations round about. All these promises we may expect to be completely fulfilled when the Jews acknowledge their Messiah.
O house of Judah, and house of Israel - The restoration shall be complete, when both Israel and Judah are brought back.
14For thus saith the LORD of hosts; As I thought to punish you, when your fathers provoked me to wrath, saith the LORD of hosts, and I repented not:
15So again have I thought in these days to do well unto Jerusalem and to the house of Judah: fear ye not.
16These are the things that ye shall do; Speak ye every man the truth to his neighbour; execute the judgment of truth and peace in your gates:
Speak ye every man the truth - See Zechariah 7:9, Zechariah 7:10.
17And let none of you imagine evil in your hearts against his neighbour; and love no false oath: for all these are things that I hate, saith the LORD.
18And the word of the LORD of hosts came unto me, saying,
19Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The fast of the fourth month, and the fast of the fifth, and the fast of the seventh, and the fast of the tenth, shall be to the house of Judah joy and gladness, and cheerful feasts; therefore love the truth and peace.
The fast of the fourth month - To commemorate the taking of Jerusalem; 2 Kings 25:3; Jeremiah 39:2; Jeremiah 52:6, Jeremiah 52:7.
The fast of the fifth - In memory of the ruin of the temple, 2 Kings 25:8; Jeremiah 52:12, Jeremiah 52:13.
The fast of the seventh - For the murder of Gedaliah, Jeremiah 41:1-17.
The fast of the tenth - In commemoration of the siege of Jerusalem, which began on the tenth day of the tenth month; 2 Kings 25:1; Jeremiah 52:4; Ezekiel 24:1, Ezekiel 24:2; and see on Zechariah 7:3 (note), Zechariah 7:5 (note).
Cheerful feasts - Ye shall find all your evils so completely redressed, that these mournful fasts shall be turned into joyful feasts.
20Thus saith the LORD of hosts; It shall yet come to pass, that there shall come people, and the inhabitants of many cities:
There shall come people - Similar promises to those in Isaiah 2:3 and in Micah 4:1, Micah 4:2. Many Gentiles, as well as Jews, will then be found devoting themselves to the Lord.
21And the inhabitants of one city shall go to another, saying, Let us go speedily to pray before the LORD, and to seek the LORD of hosts: I will go also.
I will go also - This is the answer of the person invited. It is a good work. We must have God for our friend. We cannot expect this unless we seek him: and as we know not what an hour may bring forth, let us go speedily.
22Yea, many people and strong nations shall come to seek the LORD of hosts in Jerusalem, and to pray before the LORD.
And strong nations - This may refer to the conversion of the Mohammedan tribes; especially to those in the vicinity of Palestine. Perhaps even the Egyptians, inhabitants of Arabia Petraea, of Syria, etc.
23Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.
Ten men - shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew - The converts from among the Gentiles shall be to the Jews as ten to one. But ten may here signify a great number, without comparison. And from this scripture it appears as if the Jews, converted to God, should be the instruments of converting many Gentiles. See on Isaiah 3:6 (note). Catching hold of the skirt is a gesture naturally used to entreat assistance and protection. This and the three foregoing verses, says Abp. Newcome, refer to the great accession of converts which the Jewish Church received between the captivity and the coming of Christ; to the number of Christian disciples which the Jewish preachers made, and to the future conversions of which the restoration of the Jews will be an eminent cause.