Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Barachias adopted him, (1 Esdras v. 1.) or rather Addo was his grandfather.
Ver. 2. Angry, as he has severely chastised them. (Calmet)
Ver. 3. Turn ye. Such expressions admonish us of our free-will, and when we answer, convert us, &c., (Lamentations v. 11.; Calmet) we confess that God’s grace preventeth us. (Council of Trent, Session vi. 5.) (Worthington) — We may resist the Holy Spirit, (Haydock) and reject his graces. The prophet exhorts the people to lay aside all former negligence, (Calmet) and proceed with the temple. (Haydock) — It had been commenced about two months before, Aggeus ii. 1, 16.
Ver. 5. Always. He seems to hint, that after Malachias prophets would be sent no more till Christ should appear; or, that God’s word should be fulfilled (ver. 6.) though the prophets were dead. (Calmet)
Ver. 6. Fathers. They felt their effects. (Haydock) — Returned; being converted by the sight of God’s judgments, Osee iv. 1., and 2 Esdras i. 6.
Ver. 7. Sabath. These names were brought from Chaldea. The month was lunar, and corresponded sometimes with parts of our December and January, at other times with January, or with that and the following month. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. A man. An angel in the shape of a man. It was probably St. Michael, the guardian angel of the Church of God. (Challoner) — It is plain that he was an angel, ver. 11. (Worthington) — He appears in obscurity, to shew the distress of the nation. (Calmet) — Among. Septuagint, “between two shady mountains.” (Haydock)
Ver. 10. These are they, &c. The guardian angels of provinces and nations. (Challoner) — The Jews believed that each nation had such an angel, who had to give an account to one in higher authority. God proportions his revelation to their ideas.
Ver. 11. Rest. All the country under Michael’s care enjoyed peace, (Calmet) in the second year of Darius. (Haydock) — The red horse implies slaughter, Apocalypse vi. 4. It was now repressed. (Tournemine)
Ver. 12. The seventieth year; viz., from the beginning of the siege of Jerusalem, in the ninth year of king Sedecias, to the second year of king Darius. These seventy years of the desolation of Jerusalem and the cities of Juda, are different from the seventy years of captivity foretold by Jeremias; which began in the fourth year of Joakim, and ended in the first year of king Cyrus. (Challoner) — Of these Daniel (ix.) speaks. The temple had also been destroyed now seventy years, (Worthington) and the angel prays, (Haydock) while the prophet begs that the people may be inspired to rebuild it. (Worthington) — Michael takes occasion from the angels’ report, to beseech the Lord to perfect what had been so well begun. He speaks not expressly of the temple, as Aggeus had prevailed on the people to commence that edifice. They had excused themselves that the time was not come, as they probably dated from the burning of the temple; though its desolation began with the siege, thirty months before. See Jeremias xxv. 11., and xxix. 10. (Calmet)
Ver. 13. Answered. We have here a proof of the intercession of angel, and of its good effects. (Haydock) — In me; revealing God’s will. (St. Jerome) — Yet it seems to be St. Michael, chap. iv. 1. (Chaldean; Theod.[Theodotion or Theodoret]) (Calmet)
Ver. 14. Zeal. I will again treat her as my spouse. (Haydock)
Ver. 15. Nations, represented as four horns, ver. 18, 19. — Evil, through malice, and thus deserve themselves to be punished, Osee i. 4.
Ver. 16. Line. Soon after Nehemias came to rebuild the city. (Calmet)
Ver. 18-20. Four horns,…four smiths. The four horns represent the empires, or kingdoms, that persecute and oppress the people of God: the four smiths or carpenters (for faber may signify either) represent those whom God makes his instruments in bringing to nothing the power of persecutors. (Challoner) — The Ammonites, &c., on the east, the Philistines on the west, the Idumeans and Egyptians on the south, and the Assyrians and Chaldeans on the north, had much molested God’s people, and were therefore punished. (Worthington) — The princes of Assyria and of Babylon, the kings of Persia and of Egypt, had all treated them ill; and these four empires have or will be destroyed by four chariots, (chap. vi. 1.) Nabopolassar, Cyrus, Alexander, and Antiochus, Daniel vii. 1., &c. St. Jerome, and many who usually follow him, understand the empires of the Chaldeans, Persians, Greeks, and Romans, to be designated by the horns, as the workmen mean the angels who have chastised those nations.
Ver. 21. Every. Hebrew, “at pleasure; none shall lift,” &c. These kingdoms shall no longer prove formidable. (Calmet) — Fray, or “terrify.” Septuagint, “to sharpen them in their hands. The horns are nations,” &c. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The prophet exhorts the people to return to God, and declares his visions by which he puts them in hopes of better times.
1 In *the eighth month, in the second year of king Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zacharias, the son of Barachias, the son of Addo, the prophet, saying:
2 The Lord hath been exceeding angry with your fathers.
3 And thou shalt say to them: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: *Turn ye to me, saith the Lord of hosts: and I will turn to you, saith the Lord of hosts.
4 Be not as your fathers, to whom the former prophets have cried, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: Turn ye from your evil ways, and from your wicked thoughts; but they did not give ear, neither did they hearken to me, saith the Lord.
5 Your fathers, where are they? and the prophets, shall they live always?
6 But yet my words, and my ordinances, which I gave in charge to my servants, the prophets, did they not take hold of your fathers? and they returned, and said: As the Lord of hosts thought to do to us, according to our ways, and according to our devices, so he hath done to us.
7 In the four and twentieth day of the eleventh month, which is called Sabath, in the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to Zacharias, the son of Barachias, the son of Addo, the prophet, saying:
8 I saw by night, and behold a man riding upon a red horse, and he stood among the myrtle-trees, that were in the bottom: and behind him were horses, red, speckled, and white.
9 And I said: What are these, my lord? And the angel that spoke in me, said to me: I will shew thee what these are:
10 And the man that stood among the myrtle-trees answered, and said: These are they, whom the Lord hath sent to walk through the earth.
11 And they answered the angel of the Lord, that stood among the myrtle-trees, and said: We have walked through the earth, and behold all the earth is inhabited, and is at rest.
12 And 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 Juda, with which thou hast been angry? this is now the seventieth year.
13 And the Lord answered the angel, that spoke in me, good words, comfortable words.
14 And the angel, that spoke in me, said to me: Cry thou, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: *I am zealous for Jerusalem, and Sion, with a great zeal.
15 And I am angry with a great anger with the wealthy nations: For I was angry a little, but they helped forward the evil.
16 Therefore, thus saith the Lord: I will return to Jerusalem in mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and the building line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
17 Cry yet, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: My cities shall yet flow with good things: and the Lord will yet comfort Sion, and he will yet choose Jerusalem.
18 And I lifted up my eyes, and saw: and behold four horns.
19 And I said to the angel that spoke to me: What are these? and he said to me: These are the horns that have scattered Juda, and Israel, and Jerusalem.
20 And the Lord shewed me four smiths.
21 And I said, What come these to do? and he spoke, saying: These are the horns which have scattered Juda every man apart, and none of them lifted up his head: and these are come to fray them, to cast down the horns of the nations that have lifted up the horn upon the land of Juda, to scatter it.
1: Year of the World 3485, Year before Christ 519.
3: Isaias xxi. 12. and xxxi. 6. and xlv. 22.; Jeremias iii. 12.; Ezechiel xviii. 30. and xx. 7. and xxxiii. 11.; Osee xiv. 2.; Joel ii. 12.; Malachias iii. 7.
14: Zacharias viii. 2.