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Book of Zachariah

Book of Zachariah
by Timothy Kenney, PhD

The Prophet Zachariah was the eleventh of the twelve Minor Prophets. He was descended from the tribe of Levi, and seems to have been a priest (Nehemiah 12:4,16). He was called to prophetic service at a young age and became, in the wondrous expression of church hymnology, "a spectator of supra-worldly visions."

The Book of the Prophet Zachariah contains inspired details about the coming of the Messiah (Zach 6:12); about the last days of the Savior's earthly life, about the Entry of the Lord into Jerusalem on a young donkey (Zach 9:9); about the betrayal of the Lord for thirty pieces of silver and the purchase of the potter's field with them (Zach 11:12-13); about the piercing of the Savior's side (Zach 12:10); about the scattering of the apostles from the Garden of Gethsemane (Zach 13:7); about the eclipse of the sun at the time of the Crucifixion (Zach 14:6-7).

"Enlightened by dawnings all above," the Prophet Zachariah, "saw the future as it were the present." According to Tradition, this "most true God-proclaimer" lived to old age and was buried near Jerusalem, beside his illustrious contemporary and companion, the Prophet Haggai. He is given the title "Sickle-Seer" because of a vision in which he saw a sickle flying in the air, destroying thieves and perjurors (Zach 5:1-3).

The holy Prophet Zachariah died around 520 B.C. His tomb was discovered in 415 in a village near Eleutheropolis. At the prophet's feet was the body of a child dressed in royal accoutrements. His holy relics were transferred to the church of St James the Brother of the Lord in Constantinople. His Feast Day is commemorated in the Orthodox Church on February 8th.

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Brief outline:

Chapter 1:

1:1-1:6 Israel Urged to Repent
1:7-1:17 First Vision: The Horsemen
1:18-1:21 Second Vision: The Horns and the Smiths

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Chapter 2:

2:1-2:5 Third Vision: The Man with a Measuring Line
2:6-2:13 Interlude: An Appeal to the Exiles

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Chapter 3:

3:1-3:10 Fourth Vision: Joshua and Satan

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Chapter 4:

4:1-4:13 Fifth Vision: The Lampstand and Olive Trees

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Chapter 5:

5:1-5:4 Sixth Vision: The Flying Scroll
5:5-5:11 Seventh Vision: The Woman in a Basket

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Chapter 6:

6:1-6:8 Eight Vision: Four Chariots
6:9-6:15 The Coronation of the Branch

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Chapter 7:

7:1-7:7 Hypocritical Fasting Condemned
7:8-7:14 Punishment for Rejecting God's Demands

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Chapter 8:

8:1-8:17 God's Promise to Zion
8:18-8:19 Joyful Fasting
8:20-8:23 Many Peoples Drawn to Jerusalem

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Chapter 9:

9:1-9:8 Judgment on Israel's Enemies 9:9-9:17 The Coming Ruler of God's People

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Chapter 10:

10:1-11:3 Restoration of Judah and Israel

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Chapter 11:

11:4-11:17 Two Kinds of Shepherds

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Chapter 12:

12:1-12:9 Jerusalem's Victory
12:10-13:1 Mourning for the Pierced One

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Chapter 13:

13:2-13:6 Idolatry Cut Off
13:7-13:9 The Shepherd Struck, the Flock Scattered

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Chapter 14:

14:1-14:21 Future Warfare and Final Victory.

A detailed narratine outline follows.

The return from exile is the theological premise of prophet's visions in chapters 1-6. Chapters 7–8 address the quality of life God wants his renewed people to enjoy, containing many encouraging promises to them. Chapters 9-14 comprise two "oracles" of the future.

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Chapters 1-6:

The book begins with a preface (1:1-6), which recalls the nation's past history, for the purpose of presenting a solemn warning to the present generation. Then follows a series of eight visions (1:7-6:8), succeeding one another in one night, which may be regarded as a symbolical history of Israel, intended to furnish consolation to the returned exiles and stir up hope in their minds. The symbolic action, the crowning of Joshua (6:9-15), describes how the kingdoms of the world become the kingdom of God's Messiah.

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Chapters 7 and 8:

Chapters 7 and 8, delivered two years later, are an answer to the question whether the days of mourning for the destruction of the city should be kept any longer, and an encouraging address to the people, assuring them of God's presence and blessing.

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Chapters 9-14:

This section consists of two "oracles" or "burdens":

The first oracle (Chapters 9-11) gives an outline of the course of God's providential dealings with his people down to the time of the coming of the Messiah.

The second oracle (Chapters 12-14) points out the glories that await Israel in "the latter day", the final conflict and triumph of God's kingdom.

Our last biblical article of the Old Testament turns our attention in the direction of the Book of Malachi.

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