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Zechariah 7:5

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

When ye fasted and mourned in the fifth - month - This they did in the remembrance of the burning of the temple, on the tenth day of that month; and on the seventh month, on the third of which month they observed a fast for the murder of Gedaliah, and the dispersion of the remnant of the people which were with him. See Jeremiah 41:1, and 2 Kings 25:25.

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

Speak unto all the people of the land - They of Bethel had spoken as one man, as Edom said to Israel, “Thou shalt not pass by me” Numbers 20:18; and “the men of Israel said to the Hivite; Perhaps thou dwellest in the midst of me, and how shall I make a league with thee?” Joshua 9:7. God gives the answer not to them only, but to all like-minded with them, “all the people of the land,” the whole population (in our language); as Jeremiah says, “ye and your fathers, your kings and your princes and all the people of the land” Jeremiah 44:21, and, “the scribe who mustered the people of the land.” Jeremiah 52:25.

When ye fasted and that, mourning - It was no mere abstinence from food (severe as the Jewish fasts were, one unbroken abstinence from evening to evening) but with real mourning, the word being used only of mourning for the dead (Genesis 23:2; Genesis 50:10; 1 Samuel 25:1; 1 Samuel 28:3; 2 Samuel 1:12; 2 Samuel 3:31; 2 Samuel 11:26; 1 Kings 13:29-30; 1 Kings 14:13, 1 Kings 14:18; Ecclesiastes 12:5; Jeremiah 16:4-6; Jeremiah 22:18; (twice); Jeremiah 25:33; Jeremiah 34:5; Ezekiel 24:16, Ezekiel 24:23; Zechariah 12:10, Zechariah 12:12), or, in a few instances,, for a very great public calamity; probably with beating on the breast.

In the seventh month - The murder of Gedaliah, “whom the king of Babylon made governor of the land,” completed the calamities of Jerusalem, in the voluntary, but prohibited exile to Egypt, for fear lest the murder should be avenged on them Jeremiah 4143.

Did ye at all fast unto Me, Me? - God emphatically rejects such fasting as their‘s had been, as something, unutterably alien from Him, “to Me, Me!” Yet the fasting and mourning had been real, but irreligious, like remorse for ill-deeds, which has self only for its ground. He prepares the way for His answer by correcting the error of the question. Osorius: “Ye fasted to yourselves, not to Me. For ye mourned your sorrows, not your misdeeds; and your public fast was undertaken, not for My glory, but out of feeling for your own grief. But nothing can be pleasing to God, which is not referred to His glory. But those things alone can be referred to His glory, which are done with righteousness and devotion.”

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
If we truly desire to know the will of God in doubtful matters, we must not only consult his word and ministers, but seek his direction by fervent prayer. Those who would know God's mind should consult God's ministers; and, in doubtful cases, ask advice of those whose special business it is to search the Scriptures. The Jews seemed to question whether they ought to continue their fasts, seeing that the city and temple were likely to be finished. The first answer to their inquiry is a sharp reproof of hypocrisy. These fasts were not acceptable to God, unless observed in a better manner, and to better purpose. There was the form of duty, but no life, or soul, or power in it. Holy exercises are to be done to God, looking to his word as our rule, and his glory as our end, seeking to please him and obtain his favour; but self was the centre of all their actions. And it was not enough to weep on fast days; they should have searched the Scriptures of the prophets, that they might have seen what was the ground of God's controversy with their fathers. Whether people are in prosperity or adversity, they must be called upon to leave their sins, and to do their duty.
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