quinta-feira, 11 de agosto de 2011

The Prophet Zechariah

Study By: David Malick

I. Title of the book 

Hebrew: In Hebrew the book is titled hyrkz meaning “Yahweh remembers”

Greek: In Greek the book is titled ZACARIAS, a transliteration from the Hebrew name

I I. Autor: Zechariah the prophet

A. About the Prophet Zechariah:

Zechariah was a Levite who was born in Babylon (Neh 12:1, 16)

He was the son of Berekiah and the grandson of Iddo the priest (Zech 1:1; cf. 12:4, 16; Ezra 5:1; 6:14), therefore, although the name was a common one, it is possible that he was a priest2

Zechariah was a prophet (Zech 1:1)

A contemporary of Haggai the prophet, Zerubbabel, and Joshua, the high priest (cf. Ezra 5:1-2; Zech 3:1; 4:6; 6:11)

Unlike Haggai, Zechariah was probably a young man when he prophesied (cf. Zech 2:4)

I I I. Literary genre:

This book is apocalyptic genre like parts of Ezekiel, Daniel and Revelation.

It is characterized by symbolic visions, animal symbolism, symbolic numbers (two, four, seven), and a blending of history and imagery.

Apocalyptic literature was meant to offer hope to a down cast people through describing the ultimate defeat of evil and victory of God for His people.

In some ways apocalyptic literature is like parables in that it is meant to reveal and hide truth. Ezekiel calls his apocalyptic material parables.

It seems that the visions of Zechariah are more developed than those of Amos and Jeremiah and yet less developed than those of Daniel and later Jewish apocalyptic literature like the book of Enoch. Revelation is fully developed apocalyptic literature.

I V. Date: 520 B.C. until later in Zechariah’s ministry (end of the sixth century B.C.)

A. The dates for the three messages - in chapters 1--8

Identify his ministry there in concurrence with Haggai’s ministry with a one month overlap for the first message.

B. No dates are provided in the text for the two “oracles” - in chapters 9--14

This has led to debate about their chronology:

1. Preexilic Date (and thus not by Zechariah)

Matthew 27:9-10 refers to Zechariah 11:12-13 but is attributed in Matthew to Jeremiah 8

However, as Chisholm writes, “Matthew’s quotation is probably a composite of Zechariah 11:12-13 and passages from Jeremiah (cf. 18:1-2; 32:6-9), perhaps being based on an early Christian testimonial collection.

Like Mark 1:2-3, which attributes a composite quotation (from Isa. 40:3 and Mal 3:1) to Isaiah, the more prominent of the prophetic authors involved, so the quotation in Matthew 27:9-10 is ascribed to the well-known prophet Jeremiah, even though its wording is more dependent on Zechariah”.

The references to Ephraim and Judah, Assyria and Egypt were considered to be preexilic descriptions.

However, the prophet could have been drawing on earlier prophetic passages for his terminology.

2. Post-Zecharian Date:

A military conflict between Israel and Greece is an allusion to the Maccabean-Seleucid struggles of the second century B.C.

However, “Greece” may be used here to symbolize the distant nations (cf. Isa 66:19) who will resist the extension of the Lord’s kingdom in the eschaton. Even if the Maccabean wars are in view, one should not necessarily presuppose the existence of a Greek empire in the author’s day.

Even though Persia, not Greece, was the major power in Zechariah’s time, a keen observer might have been able to foresee Greece’s eventual rise to prominence. If so, then certainly a divinely aided prophet could have looked beyond contemporary political realities and have foreseen future developments”11

3. Later In Zechariah’s Ministry

Some would affirm that the book comes from a time later in Zechariah’s ministry, but not by Zechariah. They would affirm that it was written by a disciple of Zechariah. This is primarily due to the unity which the book has been demonstrated to have.

If the book could have been written during the life of Zechariah, there is no reason to believe that it could not have been written by Zechariah himself; it is not necessary to assume that the same author can write in different genres.

In addition the canonical history of the book of Zechariah has always included all fourteen chapters in the book. Baldwin writes, “Even the tiny fragment of the Greek manuscript found at Qumran, which includes the end of chapter 8 and the beginning of chapter 9, shows no gap or spacing whatsoever to suggest a break between the two parts. Again, as P. R. Ackroyd comments, ‘The very fact that this linking of 9--14 with 1--8 took place argues for some recognition of common ideas or interests’“13

V. Historical background

A. First Return

The first return from Babylonian exile was under Zerubbabel in 538 B.C. when Cyrus was King (539-530) (Ezra 1--6)

1. Return of Haggai and Zechariah: This was probably when Haggai and Zechariah returned to Jerusalem14

2. Temple Rebuilt: Haggai and Zechariah prophesied and the Temple was completed under Darius I (521-486)

Levitical sacrifices were reinstituted on an altar built for burnt offerings (Ezra 3:1-6)

The foundation for the temple was laid in the second year of the return (536 B.C.; cf. Ezra 3:8-13; 5:16)

Samaritan and Persian resistance ended the rebuilding of the temple for 16 years (until 520 B.C.; cf. Ezra 4 :4-5)

Haggai and Zechariah prophesy from 520-518 B.C. encouraging the nation to rebuild the temple

The Temple was completed in 516 B.C. (Ezra 5--6)

B. Second Return:

The second return from Babylonian exile was under Ezra in 458/57 B.C. while Artaxexes I Longimanus was King (Ezra 7--10)

1. Ezra 7:1 affirms that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem during the reign of Artaxerxes the king of Persia

2. Ezra 7:8 affirms that Ezra arrived in Jerusalem in the fifth month of the seventh year of the king (Artaxerxes)

The is some question as to whether this was in the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus (464-423 B.C.) or Artaxerxes II Mnemon (404-359 B.C.)15

The evidence seems to be that this was during the reign of Artaxerxes I Longimanus; therefore, the seventh year of his reign would have been 458/457 B.C.

C. Third Return:

The third return from Babylonian exile was under Nehemiah in 445/444 B.C. also while Artaxerxes I Longimanus was king (Neh 1--13).

1. Nehemiah first arrival in Jerusalem was probably in 445/444 B.C.

Nehemiah 1:2 and 2:1 affirm that the events of Nehemiah occurred in the twentieth year of king Artaxerxes

Nehemiah arrived the first time in Jerusalem twelve-thirteen years after Ezra arrived

2. Nehemiah second arrival in Jerusalem was probably in 433/432-420 B.C.

Nehemiah 13:6-7 reads, “But during all this time I was not in Jerusalem, for in the thirty-second year of
Artaxerxes king of Babylon I had gone to the king. After some time, however, I asked leave from the king, and I came to Jerusalem and learned about the evil ....”

V I. The literary content of Zechariah is as follows:

An Opening Exhortation: 1:2-6

Eight prophetic dream visions: 1:7--6:8

Historical Messages: 7--8

Two Prophetic Oracles: 9--14

The crown symbolized the coronation of the Branch 6

A. An exortation to repent

Through messages and visions the Lord encourages His people to repent of their evil, be faithful and obey Him because He has a certain, restored, central future for Jerusalem among the nations with Him dwelling among her 1:1--8:23

Yahweh calls the people in Jerusalem to repent in order that they will not be judged as their ancestors were for disobeying the word which lasts forever 1:1-6

B. Night Visions:

Zechariah recounts a series of eight night visions and the coronation of Joshua in order to encourage the nation that He is not finished with them but--has plans for them and will fight for them, bless them, take away their sins, enable them to build the temple, bring true worship, and unite them, if they will repent and obey Him 1:7--6:15

Vision One:

A Horseman Among the Myrtle Trees--God’s Devotion to Jerusalem: The Lord proclaims that His riders are patrolling the earth which is at peace, and that He will restore Jerusalem because He cares deeply for her 1:8-17

Vision Two:

Four Horns & Four Craftsmen--Judgment on Judah’s Oppressors: Through the vision of the horns and craftsmen, Zechariah proclaims that divine agents are going to overthrow those powers who have overcome Israel, Judah, and Jerusalem 1:18-21 [Hebrew 2:1-4]

Vision Three:

A Man with a Measuring Line--Jerusalem’s Future: Through the vision of the surveyor the Lord proclaimed that a time is coming when Jerusalem will be a secure city with many inhabitants, the Lord will dwell among them, the nations will be judged, and the people should rejoice 2:1-13 [Hebrew 2:5-7]

Vision Four:

Clean Garments for the High Priest--The Cleansing and Restoration of Joshua/Israel: Although Israel is defiled (as is pictured through Joshua), Yahweh will cleanse her, restore the Davidic throne, bring about a time of peace and prosperity 3:1-10

Vision Five:

The Golden Lampstand and Two Olive Trees--The Temple, Joshua & Zerubbabel: The Lord proclaimed that His Spirit would empower Joshua and especially Zerubbabel to complete the temple so that the people would know of His presence among them 4:1-14

Vision Six:

The Flying Scroll--Purification of the Land: In the vision of the flying scroll Zechariah learned that the Lord will curse those (and the households of those) who disrupt the building of the temple (steal and lie) 5:1-4

Vision Seven:

A Woman in a Basket--Removal of Evil to Babylon: In the vision of the women in the ephah basket Zechariah learned that the Lord is going to take Israel’s idolatrous evil captive to Babylon where it will be honored 5:5-11

Vision Eight:

Four Chariots--God’s Conquest of the Northern Nations: In a vision of the four chariots Zechariah learned that the Lord sends his spirits out to patrol the earth, and that the nations in the north will be destroyed 6:1-8

C. Four Divine Proclamations:

Even though the nation is unfaithful, Yahweh promises that He will be faithful to them in order to encourage them to trust in Him 7:1--8:23

Message One:

The Rebuke of the Lord concerning Fasting and Repentance: The Lord rebuked the people because their motives for the fasts and feasts were for themselves rather than for the Lord as the prophets forewarned the earlier generations 7:4-7

Message Two:

The Command to Repent concerning Social Justice: Yahweh illustrates that judgment came upon the earlier generation because it refused to hear and repent over the exhortations from the former prophets 7:8-14

Message Three:

Restoration of Israel: Because of Yahweh’s jealousy for his people, He promises to certainly restore them by regathering them, dwelling in their midst, and blessing them 8:1-17

Message Four:

Exchanging Fasts for Celebrations of Joy: Yahweh promises that a time is coming when the time of fasting will be a time of joy and worship for Israel and the nations who will worship Yahweh through Israel 8:18-23

D. Two oracles ("burdens")

The First Oracle:

The Advent and Rejection of the Messianic King: The first burden proclaims the king/shepherd’s coming to defeat the nations and gather His people only to be rejected by His own people and replaced by a false shepherd who will destroy the people and be destroyed 9:1--11:17

The Second Oracle:

The Rejected King Enthroned: The second burden begins with the nation in warfare and mourning over their sin toward the ‘one whom they pierced,’ and ends with God faithfully cleansing His people, going to battle on their behalf, and finally establishing His world-rule from Jerusalem in order that Israel might take courage in God’s faithful plan for them 12:1--14:21

E.The crown symbolized the coronation of the Branch

The crown symbolized the coronation of the Branch who will build the temple of Yahweh and unite the offices of king and priest 6:12-13

Branch Will Branch Out: 6:12a

Branch Will Build Temple: 6:12b

Branch Will Unite Offices of King and Priest: 6:13

Conclusion: 6:14-15

V I I. Purposes for the book:

To introduce glimpses of reality for the postexilic community from a heavenly standpoint, namely, that “The transcendent God is working out His eternal purpose for Judah and Jerusalem, equipping His covenant people to fulffil [sic] the spiritual role for which He chose them (Zc. 1:7--6:15)”20

To describe the quality of life which the postexilic community is to display (Zech 7:1--8:32)21

To demonstrate that the Lord will establish His kingdom, not through a gradual evolutionary process, but through struggle and tension22

To urge Israel to return to Yahweh so that He would return to them and continue to fulfill His word23

To promise that in spite of the nation’s lowly position and its spiritual insensitivity, a Deliverer will bring a time of ultimate blessing

V I I I. Controversy over Authorship and Unity of the Book:

Many critical scholars have decided that chapters 9--14 were not authored by Zechariah, and the reasons have been based upon internal evidence:

Unlike chapters 1--8  where Zechariah’s name was mentioned three times (1:1; 1:7; 7:1) it is not mentioned in the last six chapters

The last six chapters do not mention dates.

The last six chapters do not make clear references to known historical events like the completion of the temple.

The book of Zechariah lacks unity in its contents, style, and vocabulary.

But, others scholars don't accept those arguments. Chisholm writes, “Arguments of this type are often subjective. Others have presented lists of stylistic and thematic similarities between the two sections.”

It seems that these differences may be best explained in view of the apocalyptic genre of the material rather than through differences in authorship. Chisholm writes, “Any actual differences may be due to changes in subject matter and literary genre”.

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