Bible Verse Explanations and Resources


Zechariah 9:1

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

The burden of the word of the Lord - The oracle contained in the word which Jehovah now speaks.

This is a prophecy against Syria, the Philistines, Tyre, and Sidon, which were to be subdued by Alexander the Great. After this the prophet speaks gloriously concerning the coming of Christ, and redemption by him.

Most learned men are of opinion that this and the succeeding chapters are not the work of Zechariah, but rather of Jeremiah; Hosea, or some one before the captivity. It is certain that Zechariah 11:12, Zechariah 11:13, is quoted Matthew 27:9, Matthew 27:10, as the language of Jeremiah the prophet. The first eight chapters appear by the introductory parts to be the prophecies of Zechariah: they stand in connection with each other, are pertinent to the time when they were delivered, are uniform in style and manner, and constitute a regular whole; but the six last chapters are not expressly assigned to Zechariah, and are unconnected with those that precede: - the three first of them are unsuitable in many parts to the time when Zechariah lived; all of them have a more adorned and poetical turn of composition than the eight first chapters, and they manifestly break the unity of the prophetical book.

I conclude, from internal marks, that these three chapters, (9, 10, 11), were written much earlier than the time of Jeremiah, and before the captivity of the ten tribes. They seem to suit Hosea's age and manner; but whoever wrote them, their Divine authority is established by the two quotations from them, Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12, Zechariah 11:13. See below.

The twelfth, thirteenth, and fourteenth chapters form a distinct prophecy, and were written after the death of Josiah, Zechariah 12:11; but whether before or after the captivity, and by what prophet, is uncertain, although I incline to think that the author lived before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians. See on Zechariah 13:2-6; (note). They are twice quoted in the New Testament, Zechariah 12:10; Zechariah 13:7. - Newcome.

My own opinion is, that these chapters form not only a distinct work, but belong to a different author. If they do not belong to Jeremiah, they form a thirteenth book in the minor prophets, but the inspired writer is unknown.

The land of Hadrach - The valley of Damascus, or a place near to Damascus. Alexander the Great gained possession of Damascus, and took all its treasures; but it was without blood; the city was betrayed to him.

Damascus shall be the rest thereof - The principal part of this calamity shall fall on this city. God's anger rests on those whom he punishes, Ezekiel 5:13; Ezekiel 16:42; Ezekiel 24:13. And his rod, or his arm, rests upon his enemies, Psalm 125:3; Isaiah 30:23. See Newcome.

When the eye of man - Newcome translates thus:

"For the eye of Jehovah is over man,

And over all the tribes of Israel."

This is an easy sense, and is followed by the versions.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

The burden - oof the word of the Lord in (or, upon) the land of Hadrach The foreground of this prophecy is the course of the Victories of Alexander, which circled round the holy land without hurting it, and ended in the overthrow of the Persian empire. The surrender of Damascus followed first, immediately on his great victory at the Issus; then Sidon yielded itself and received its ruler from the conqueror, Tyre he utterly destroyed; Gaza, we know, perished; he passed harmless by Jerusalem. Samaria, on his return from Egypt, he chastised.

It is now certain that there was a city called Hadrach in the neighborhood of Damascus and Hamath, although its exact site is not known. “It was first found upon the geographical tablets among the Assyrian inscriptions.” “In the catalogue of Syrian cities, tributary to Nineveh, (of which we have several copies in a more or less perfect state, and varying from each other, both in arrangement and extent) there are three names, which are uniformly grouped together and which we read Manatsuah, Magida (Megiddo) and Du‘ar (Dor). As these names are associated with those of Samaria, Damascus, Arpad, Hamath, Carchemish, Hadrach, Zobah, there can be no doubt of the position of the cities”. In the Assyrian Canon, Hadrach is the object of three Assyrian expeditions, 9183 (b.c. 818), 9190 (811) and 9200 (801). The first of these follows upon one against Damascus, 9182 (817). In the wars of Tiglath-pileser II. (the Tiglath-pileser of Holy Scripture,) it has been twice deciphered;

(1) In the war b.c. 738,737, after the mention of “the cities to Saua the mountain which is in Lebanon were divided, the land of Bahalzephon to Ammana” (Ammon), there follows Hadrach; and subsequently there are mentioned as joined to the league, “19 districts of Hamath, and the cities which were round them, which are beside the sea of the setting sun.”

(2) In his “War in Palestine and Arabia”, “the city of Hadrach to the land of Saua,” and six other cities are enumerated, as “the cities beside the upper sea,” which, he says, “I possessed, and six of my generals as governors over them I appointed.” No other authority nearly approaches these times. The nearest authority is of the second century after our Lord, 116 a.d.: “R. Jose, born of a Damascene mother, said,” answering R. Yehudah ben Elai,, “I call heaven and earth to witness upon me, that I am of Damascus, and that there is a place called Hadrach.” Cyril of Alexandria says that “the land of Hadrach must be somewhere in the eastern parts, and near to Emath (now Epiphania of Antioch) a little further than Damascus, the metropolis of the Phoenicians and Palestine.” A writer of the 10th century says that there was “a very beautiful mosque there, called the Mesjed-el-Khadra, and that the town was named from it.” The conjecture that Hadrach might be the name of a king, or an idol, will now probably be abandoned, nor can the idea, (which before seemed the most probable and which was very old), that it was a symbolic name, hold any longer.

For the prophets do use symbolic names; but then they are names which they themselves frame. Micah again selects several names of towns, now almost unknown and probably unimportant, in order to impress upon his people some meaning connected with them, but then he does himself so connect it. He does not name it (so to say), leaving it to explain itself. The name Hadrach would be a real name, used symbolically, without anything in the context to show that it is a symbol.

The cities, upon which the burden or heavy prophecy tell, possessed no interest for Israel. Damascus was no longer a hostile power; Hamath had ever been peaceable, and was far away; Tyre and Sidon did not now carry on a trade in Jewish captives. But the Jews knew from Daniel, that the empire, to which they were in subjection, would be overthrown by Greece Daniel 8:20-21. When that rapid attack should come, it would be a great consolation to them to know, how they themselves would fare. It was a turning point in their history and the history of the then known world. The prophet describes (see below at Zechariah 9:8) the circuit, which the conqueror would take around the land which God defended; how the thunder-cloud circled round Judaea, broke irresistibly upon cities more powerful than Jerusalem, but was turned aside from the holy city “in going and returning,” because God encamped around it.

“The selection of the places and of the whole line of country corresponds very exactly to the march of Alexander after the battle of Issus, when Damascus, which Darius had chosen as the strong depository of his wealth, of Persian women of rank, confidential officers and envoys,, was betrayed, but so opened its gates to his general, Parmenio. Zidon, a city renowned for its antiquity and its founders, surrendered freely; Tyre, here specially marked out, was taken after a 7 months‘ siege; Gaza too resisted for 5 months, was taken, and, as it was said, ‹plucked up.‘”

And Damascus shall be the rest thereof - God‘s judgment fell first upon Damascus. But the word “resting-place” is commonly used of quiet peaceful resting, especially as given by God to Israel; of the ark, the token of the Presence of God, after its manifold removals, and of the glorious dwelling-place of the Christ among people. The prophet seems then purposely to have chosen a word of large meaning, which should at once express (as he had before) Zechariah 6:8, that the word of God should fall heavily on Damascus and yet be its resting-place. Hence, about the time of our Lord, the Jews interpreted this of the coming of the Messiah, that “Jerusalem should reach to the gates of Damascus. Since Damascus shall be the place of His rest, but the place of His rest is only the house of the sanctuary, as it is said, “This is My rest for ever; here will I dwell.” Another added,, “All the prophets and all prophesied but of the years of redemption and the days of the Messiah.” Damascus, on the conversion of Paul, became the first resting-place of the word of God, the first-fruits of the Gentiles whom the Apostle of the Gentiles gathered from east to west throughout the world.

When (or For) the eyes of man - As (literally, and that is, especially beyond others) “of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the Lord.” This also implies a conversion of Gentiles, as well as Jews. For man, as contrasted with Israel, must be the pagan world, mankind. “The eyes of all must needs look in adoration to God, expecting all good from Him, because the Creator of all provided for the well-being of all, as the Apostle says, “Is He the God of the Jews only? Is He not also of the Gentiles? Yea, of the Gentiles also” Romans 3:29. God‘s time of delivering His people is, when they pray to Him. So Jehoshaphat prayed, “O our God, wilt Thou not judge them? For we have no strength against this great company, which is come against us, and we know not what we shall do; but our eyes are on Thee” 2 Chronicles 20:12; and the Psalmist says, “The eyes of all wait toward Thee; and, “toward them that fear Him.” Psalm 33:18, or in Ezra‘s Chaldee, “The eye of their God was upon the elders of the Jews” Ezra 5:5., or, “the eyes of the Lord thy God are upon it” (the land), Deuteronomy 11:12; but there is no construction like “the Lord hath an eye on (obj.) man” (as 70: Jonathan, Syr.) The passages, “whose eyes are opened upon all the ways of the sons of men, to give etc.” Jeremiah 32:19, “his eyes behold the nations,” are altogether different. “The eye of” must be construed as “his own eye.”) “as the eyes of servants are unto the hand of their masters, add as the eyes of a maiden are unto the hand of her mistress, so our eyes are unto the Lord our God, until He have mercy upon us.”

“For in those days,” says a Jew, who represents the traditional interpretation, (Rashi), man shall look to his Creator, and his eyes shall look to the Blessed One, as it was said above, we will go with you, and they shall join themselves, they and their cities, to the cities of Israel.” And another; (Kimchi), “In those days the eyes of all mankind shall be to the Lord, not to idols or images; therefore the land of Hadrach and Damascus, and the other places near the land of Israel - shall be included among the cities of Judah, and shall be in the faith of Israel.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
Here are judgements foretold on several nations. While the Macedonians and Alexander's successors were in warfare in these countries, the Lord promised to protect his people. God's house lies in the midst of an enemy's country; his church is as a lily among thorns. God's power and goodness are seen in her special preservation. The Lord encamps about his church, and while armies of proud opposers shall pass by and return, his eyes watch over her, so that they cannot prevail, and shortly the time will come when no exactor shall pass by her any more.