Robert Carroll and Stephen Prickett

in The Bible: Authorized King James Version

Published in print February 1998 | ISBN: 9780192835253
Published online April 2009 |

Series: Oxford World's Classics


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The book of the oracles and visions of Zechariah (the companion of Haggai) is often divided into two distinct parts: 1–8 and 9–14. The first contains similar, if more complex, material to that of Haggai and is roughly of the same date (second to fourth year of Darius: 1: 1, 7; 7: 1). Zech. 1–8 is essentially a series of night visions (cf. Daniel's ‘visions of his head upon his bed’: Dan. 7: 1) devoted to ‘the coming age of salvation’ (what is often called by theologians ‘the eschatological age’), an age which either has just begun or is just about to begin. Zechariah's visions are interpreted for him by an angel (messenger) and function as commentary on current events. 1–8 may be summarized as follows: ‘Then the angel of the Lord answered and said, O Lord of hosts, how long wilt thou not have mercy on Jerusalem and on the cities of Judah, against which thou hast had indignation these threescore and ten years? And the Lord answered the angel that talked with me with good words and comfortable words … Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem’ (1: 12–13, 16). As with the Book of Haggai, the rebuilding of the temple is the key to the new age, and the language of Zechariah is shot through with imagery and discourse of the temple. The eight visions (1: 7–15; 1: 18–21; 2: 1–5; 3: 1–7; 4: 1–6, 10–14; 5: 1–4; 5: 5–11; 6: 1–8) follow a formal pattern (with slight variations in 4): first a report of the vision; then a description of its contents; Zechariah enquires about its meaning, and his angelic interpreter explains the vision to him. These visions are supplemented by additional reports (6: 9–15; 7: 1–3; 8: 18–19) and the rest of Zech. 1–8 is made up of sayings of Zechariah. The exhortation to return to YHWH in 1: 2–6 is interesting for its representation of the past in terms of a prophetically interpreted view of history: ‘Be ye not as your fathers, unto whom the former prophets have cried, saying, Thus saith the Lord of hosts; Turn ye now from your evil ways, and from your evil doings: but they did not hear, not hearken unto me, saith the Lord. Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, do they live for ever? But my words and my statutes, which I commanded my servants the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned and said, Like as the Lord of hosts thought to do unto us, according to our ways, and according to our doings, so hath he dealt with us’ (vv. 4–6). Similar views of the past, seen in terms of ‘YHWH's servants the prophets’, are to be found in 2 Kgs. 9–24 and the books of Amos, Jeremiah, Ezra, Chronicles, and Daniel.

Chapter.  1097 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies ; Biblical Studies

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