ZECHARIAH, BOOK OF
This book of the Hebrew Scriptures identifies its writer as “Zechariah the son of Berechiah the son of Iddo the prophet.” (Zec 1:1) It also provides a basis for establishing the time period covered and an approximate date for the composition. The last time indicator found in the book of Zechariah is the fourth day of Chislev in the fourth year of Darius’ reign (about December 1, 518 B.C.E.). (7:1) Accordingly, this book could not have been committed to writing before the close of 518 B.C.E. Since it was in the “eighth month in the second year of Darius” (October/November 520 B.C.E.) that “the word of Jehovah occurred to Zechariah” (1:1), the book covers a period of at least two years.
From chapter 9 onward the subject matter found in the book of Zechariah appears to differ considerably from the earlier section. No further reference is made to angels and visions or to Governor Zerubbabel and High Priest Joshua. There is no mention of the temple-rebuilding work, and not even the name of Zechariah appears. In view of this and the nature of the prophecies contained in the latter chapters of the book, a number of critics maintain that this section could not have been written by Zechariah. However, it should be noted that Zechariah, like other prophets, wrote according to divine inspiration and did not receive all revelations at the same time or in the same manner. (2Pe 1:20, 21) Also, prophecies did not have to fit within a particular framework of existing circumstances and incorporate the name of the prophet or of some of his contemporaries for an entire book to be the work of the prophet. That the book of Zechariah forms one harmonious whole, instead of consisting of separate and unrelated parts recorded by different writers, is evident from the thoughts expressed therein. Throughout, the book highlights that Jerusalem would be restored and that Jehovah would come to the defense of the city.—Zec 1:13-21; 2:4, 5; 8:14-23; 9:11-17; 12:2-6; 14:3-21.
Historical Background. About February 9, 519 B.C.E., the prophet Zechariah heard the words: “The whole earth is sitting still and having no disturbance.” (Zec 1:7, 11) At that time Jerusalem was not a disturbing factor to the nations, but it appeared to observers that Jehovah had forsaken the city. Although the temple’s foundation had been laid in 536 B.C.E., the rebuilding work made slow progress on account of enemy opposition and finally, in 522 B.C.E., came under an official ban. (Ezr 4:4, 5, 24) Additionally, plagued by droughts and crop failures because of having neglected the temple rebuilding work, the repatriated Jews found themselves in very difficult circumstances. (Hag 1:6, 10, 11) They needed encouragement to continue the construction work despite mountainous obstacles.
Jehovah’s words, through Zechariah, must therefore have been a real source of comfort and inspiration to them. The visions seen by Zechariah clearly showed that it was the divine will for Jerusalem and its temple to be rebuilt. (Zec 1:16; chap 2) The power of the nations that had dispersed Judah would be shattered. (1:18-21) High Priest Joshua would gain an acceptable appearance before Jehovah (3:3-7), and Governor Zerubbabel would, with the help of God’s spirit, finish rebuilding the temple.—4:6-9.
Agreement With Other Bible Books. The book of Zechariah is in complete harmony with the rest of the Scriptures in identifying Jehovah as the Protector of his people. (Zec 2:5; compare De 33:27; Ps 46:11; 125:2.) He rewards or punishes individuals or nations according to their dealings and returns to those who repentantly return to him. (Zec 1:2-6; 7:11-14; compare Isa 55:6, 7; Jer 25:4-11; Eze 33:11; Mal 3:7; 2Pe 3:9.) Jehovah requires that those who desire his favor must speak truth and manifest obedience, justice, loving-kindness, and mercy. (Zec 7:7-10; 8:16, 17; compare De 24:17; Ps 15:1, 2; 82:3, 4; Pr 12:19; Jer 7:5, 6; Eph 4:25.) He does not respond to calls for aid from those who do not obey him.—Zec 7:13; compare Isa 1:15; La 3:42-44.
Also, noteworthy similarities are readily apparent by comparing passages in Zechariah with other scriptures.—Compare Zec 3:2 with Jude 9; Zec 4:3, 11-14 with Re 11:4; Zec 4:10 with Re 5:6; Zec 8:8 with Re 21:3; Zec 14:5 with Jude 14; Zec 14:7 with Re 21:25; Zec 14:8 with Re 22:1, 17.
Fulfillment of Prophecy. The fulfillment of prophecies recorded in the book of Zechariah testifies to its authenticity. What is known about Alexander the Great’s campaign in Syria, Phoenicia, and Philistia, including the conquest of Tyre and Gaza, fits the words of Zechariah 9:1-8 and, therefore, can be understood as a fulfillment of this prophecy. Numerous other prophecies contained in the book of Zechariah find their fulfillment in Christ Jesus—his entry into Jerusalem as king, “humble, and riding upon an ass” (Zec 9:9; Mt 21:5; Joh 12:15), his betrayal for “thirty silver pieces” (Zec 11:12, 13; Mt 26:15; 27:9), the subsequent scattering of his disciples (Zec 13:7; Mt 26:31; Mr 14:27), Jesus’ being pierced with a spear while on the stake (Zec 12:10; Joh 19:34, 37), and his role as King-Priest (Zec 6:12, 13; Heb 6:20; 8:1; 10:21).
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HIGHLIGHTS OF ZECHARIAH
Prophetic messages encouraging the Jews to resume temple rebuilding, also providing foregleams of the Messiah’s coming and his rule as King-Priest
Written by Zechariah during the reign of Persian King Darius I, about 19 years after the first Jews arrived home from Babylon in 537 B.C.E.
A call to repentance, followed by eight visions and a prophecy about “Sprout” (1:1–6:15)
First vision: A rider on a red horse standing with three other horsemen among the myrtle trees; the vision concludes with an assurance that Jerusalem will be shown mercy and the temple rebuilt
Second vision: The four horns that dispersed Judah are cast down by four craftsmen
Third vision: A young man with a measuring rope prepares to measure Jerusalem, but an angel foretells more growth as well as Jehovah’s protection for the city
Fourth vision: High Priest Joshua’s befouled garments are removed and replaced with robes of state
Fifth vision: Zechariah sees a gold lampstand with seven lamps supplied with oil from two olive trees; Zerubbabel will complete the temple rebuilding with the help of God’s spirit
Sixth vision: A flying scroll represents the curse going forth because of all those stealing and those swearing falsely in Jehovah’s name
Seventh vision: A woman named Wickedness is transported in an ephah measure to Shinar
Eighth vision: Four chariots proceed from between two copper mountains to move about in the earth
The man named Sprout will build Jehovah’s temple and serve as king-priest
Question about the observance of fasts commemorating the calamities that befell Jerusalem (7:1–8:23)
Calamities came as punishment for disobedience; fasting in commemoration of these was not really done to Jehovah
Jerusalem will enjoy divine favor; the former days of fasting will be transformed into “an exultation and a rejoicing and good festal seasons”; many from the nations will come to her to seek Jehovah’s favor
Judgment upon nations, Messianic prophecies, and the restoration of God’s people (9:1–14:21)
Many cities and nations will experience Jehovah’s adverse judgment
Zion’s righteous, humble King will come into the city on an ass
Jehovah expresses anger against the false shepherds
The scattered people of God will be brought out of Egypt and Assyria
Zechariah is called to be a shepherd; the people are given an opportunity to pay for his work, and they value it at 30 silver pieces
Jerusalem will become a burdensome stone that severely scratches anyone tampering with it
A well will be opened for cleansing from sin; the shepherd will be struck, and the sheep will be scattered
Jerusalem will come under attack, but Jehovah will war against the aggressors
Those remaining out of the attacking nations will celebrate the Festival of Booths each year, bowing down before Jehovah as King