Zechariah – Chapter 9

Somebody Came to Town, Riding on a Donkey...

By Rabbi Jack Abramowitz

G-d spoke to Zechariah regarding the lands of Chadrach, Damascus, Chamas, Tzor (Tyre) and Tzidon. (It would seem that in the future, these places would be within the borders of Israel, or perhaps suburbs of Jerusalem.) Tzor (Tyre) had previously built fortresses and gathered gold and silver but it didn’t help. G-d caused them to lose their wealth and He punished them with the sea. In future times, the inhabitants of this land will remember how G-d punished the previous residents. Ashkelon will see the downfall of Tzor and be afraid, as will Gaza and Ekron, because they relied on Tzor. The king was lost from Gaza (formerly the capital of the northern kingdom of the ten Tribes) and Ashkelon (which also relied on Tzor) will not be inhabited. Strangers will live in Ashdod. (The meaning of the Hebrew word mamzer in this verse is obscure.) G-d will cut off the pride of the Philistines. He will remove blood from the mouth of Edom (referring either to idolatrous sacrifices or bloodshed) and He will remove the disgusting things from between Edom’s teeth (again referring to sacrifices). The theaters of Edom will become synagogues and study halls for the Jews.

G-d will “camp” next to the Temple to protect it; no one will be allowed to antagonize the Jews, as G-d has now seen the distress of His people. He tells the Jews to be happy and rejoice because their king is coming to them; he is humble and riding on a donkey. (This is generally seen as a Messianic prophecy although Rashi has problems with that explanation, saying that this prophecy refers to the second Temple period. Ibn Ezra applies it to Judah Maccabee.) Ephraim (meaning the northern kingdom) and Jerusalem (meaning the kingdom of Judah) will not need their chariots and horses because it will be an era of peace. He (Moshiach?) will speak to the nations and he will rule from one end of the earth to the other. The Jews will be saved because of the blood of their covenant with G-d. (It seems obvious that this refers to the covenant of circumcision, although Rashi says that it refers to the blood sprinkled by Moses in Exodus 24:8. Others explain it to refer to Jewish martyrs who sacrificed themselves for G-d over the centuries.) G-d will save the Jews from an exile in an era without prophecy, which Zechariah compares to a pit with no water in it.

People who hoped for G-d are told to return to their previous strength. G-d makes them a double promise. Eventually Judah will wage war on behalf of G-d against the Greeks (in the days of the Maccabees). He will strengthen the people of the northern kingdom and he will make Jerusalem like the sword of a mighty soldier. G-d will appear over them and His arrows will go forth like lightning. He will protect His people and they will reap the spoils of war. They will rejoice and they will be full of all good things. G-d will save them on that day like He did the Jews who left Egypt. How great will be the goodness given to the Jews at that time! Grain and wine will cause the people to have strength and to rejoice.

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