Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Zechariah 12:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The burden of the word of the Lord - This is a new prophecy. It is directed both to Israel and Judah, though Israel alone is mentioned in this verse.

Which stretcheth forth the heavens - See on Isaiah 42:5; (note).

Formeth the spirit of man within him - Then it is not the same substance with his body. It is a Spirit within Him.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The burden of the word of the Lord for - Rather, “upon (see at Nahum 1:1, p. 129) Israel.” If this prophecy is a continuation of the last, notwithstanding its fresh title, then “Israel” must be the Christian Church, formed of the true Israel which believed, and the Gentiles who were grafted into them. So Cyril; “Having spoken sufficiently of the Good Shepherd Christ, and of the foolish, most cruel shepherd who butchered the sheep, that is, antichrist, he seasonably makes mention of the persecutions which would from time to time arise against Israel; not the Israel according to the flesh, but the spiritual, that Jerusalem which is indeed holy, “the Church of the Living God” 1 Timothy 3:15. For as we say, that “he” is spiritually a Jew, who hath the “circumcision in the heart,” Romans 2:29, that through the Spirit, “and not” in the flesh “through the letter;” so also may “Israel” be conceived, not that of the blood of Israel, but rather that, which has a mind beholding God. But such are all who are called to sanctification through the faith in Christ, and who in Him and by Him, know of God the Father. For this is the one true elected way of beholding God.”

Since the Good Shepherd was rejected by all, except the “poor of the flock,” the “little flock” which believed in Him, and thereupon the “band” of “brotherhood” was dissolved between Israel and Judah, “Israel” in those times could not be Israel after the flesh, which then too was the deadly antagonist of the true israel, and thus early also chose antichrist, such as was Bar-Cochba, with whom so many hundreds of thousands perished. There was no war then against Jerusalem, since it had ceased to be (see the notes on Micah 3:12).

But Zechariah does not say that this prophecy, to which he has annexed a separate title, follows, in time, upon the last; rather, since he has so separated it by its title, he has marked it as a distinct prophecy from the preceding. It may be, that he began again from the time of the Maccabees and took God‘s deliverances of the people Israel then, as the foreground of the deliverances to the end ).

Yet in the times of Antiochus, it was one people only which was against the Jews, and Zechariah himself speaks only of the Greeks; Zechariah 9:13; here he repeatedly emphasizes that they were “all nations” (Zechariah 12:2-3, Zechariah 12:6, Zechariah 12:9). It may then rather be, that the future, the successive efforts of the world to crush the people of God, and its victory amid suffering, and its conversions of the world through the penitent looking to Jesus, are exhibited in one great perspective, according to the manner of prophecy, which mostly exhibits the prominent events, not their order or sequence.: “The penitential act of contrite sinners, especially of Jews, looking at Him “whom they pierced,” dates from the Day of Pentecost, and continues to the latter days, when it will be greatly intensified and will produce blessed results, and is here concentrated into one focus. The rising up of God‘s enemies against Christ‘s Church, which commenced at the same time, and has been continued in successive persecutions from Jews, Gentiles, and other unbelievers in every age, and which will reach its climax in the great antichristian outbreak of the last times, and be confounded by the Coming of Christ to judgment, is here summed up in one panoramic picture, exhibited at once to the eye.”

Which stretcheth forth the heavens - God‘s creative power is an ever-present working, as our Lord says, “My Father worketh hitherto and I work” John 5:17. His preservation of the things which He has created is a continual re-creation. All “forces” are supported by Him, who alone hath life in Himself. He doth not the less “uphold all things by the word of His power,” because, until the successive generations, with or without their will, with or against His Will for them, shall have completed His Sovereign Will, He upholds them uniformly in being by His Unchanging Will. Man is ever forgetting this, and because, “since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as from the beginning of the creation” 2 Peter 3:4, they relegate the Creator and His creating as far as they can to some time, as far back as they can imagine, enough to fill their imaginations, and forget Him who made them, in whose bands is their eternity, who will be their Judge. So the prophets remind them and us of His continual working, which people forget in the sight of His works; “Thus saith the Lord; He that createth the heavens, and stetcheth them out; He that spreadeth forth the earth and its produce, who giveth breath to the people upon it, and spirit to them that walk therein” Isaiah 42:5; and, “I am the Lord who maketh all things, who stretcheth out the heavens alone, who spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself” Isaiah 44:24; speaking at once of that, past in its beginning yet present to us in its continuance, but to Him ever-present present; and of things actually present to us, “that frustrateth the tokens of the liars” Isaiah 44:25; and of things to those of that day still future, “that confirmeth the word of His servant, and performeth the counsel of His messengers” Isaiah 44:26: the beginning of which was not to be till the taking of Babylon. And the Psalmist unites past and present in one, “Donning light as a garment, stretching out the heavens as a curtain; who layeth the beams of His chambers on the waters, who maketh the clouds His chariot; who walketh on the wings of the wind; who maketh His angels spirits, His ministers a flame of fire; He founded the earth upon its base.” Psalm 104:2-5. And Amos, “He that formeth the mountains and createth the winds, and declareth unto man his thoughts” (Amos 4:13, add Amos 5:8); adding whatever lieth nearest to each of us.

And formeth the spirit of man, within him - Both by the unceasing creation of souls, at every moment in some spot in our globe, or by the re-creation, for which David prays, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me” Psalm 51:10. He who formed the hearts of people can overrule them as He wills. Cyril: “But the spirit of man is formed by God in him, not by being called to the beginnings of being, although it was made by Him, but, as it were, transformed from weakness to strength, from unmanliness to endurance, altogether being transelemented from things shameful to better things.”

Cyril: “It is the custom of the holy prophets, when about to declare beforehand things of no slight moment, to endeavor to show beforehand the Almightiness of God, that their word may obtain credence, though they should declare what was beyond all hope, and (to speak of our conceptions) above all reason and credibility.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here is a Divine prediction, which will be a heavy burden to all the enemies of the church. But it is for Israel; for their comfort and benefit. It is promised that God will make foolish the counsels, and weaken the courage of the enemies of the church. The exact meaning is not clear; but God often begins by calling the poor and despised; and in that day even the feeblest will resemble David, and be as eminent in courage and every thing good. Desirable indeed is it that the examples and labours of Christians should render them as fire among wood, as a torch in a sheaf, to kindle the flame of Divine love, to spread religion on the right hand and on the left.