To Be ContinuedBy Rabbi Jack Abramowitz
It happened during the fourth year of King Darius, while the Temple was already being rebuilt, that G-d spoke again to Zechariah. Emissaries sent people to pray to G-d and to inquire of the kohanim (priests) and the prophets as to whether they should still observe the fast of Tisha B’Av as they did while the first Temple was in ruins. (This question will not be answered until the next chapter, so please be patient!) G-d spoke to Zechariah and told him the following: Tell the people of the land and the kohanim, when you fasted on Tisha B’Av and Tzom Gedaliah (and other fasts) for the past seventy years, was it for G-d’s sake or for their own? And when they eat and drink, does that benefit G-d? They fast on these days because of their sins. Whether the people eat or fast does not affect G-d Himself. It is the words of rebuke for their sins, which G-d sent through His prophets, that caused the people to fast.
G-d spoke again to Zechariah and told him to say: G-d told you through the earlier prophets to judge truly and to perform acts of kindness and mercy, not to oppress those less fortunate or to plot any evil against one another. But the people refused to listen and they turned their backs on G-d, hardening their hearts to His Torah and the words of His prophets. This angered G-d, so he scattered the people among the other nations. The land was made desolate with no one in it.
This chapter ends rather abruptly and the narrative continues immediately in the next chapter.