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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

1. CONNECTION OF THE PROPHECIES WITH THEIR CONTEXT.—The Book of Zacharias is divided into three parts: the first contains a short introduction, and then proposes eight visions (1:1–6:8); the second teaches the people how to prepare for the Messianic benefits that have been promised (7, 8). In the third part the burden of the Lord against Hadrach and Israel is described (chapters 9–11; 12–14). Our two prophecies belong to the first part: Chapter 1:7–17 contains a vision of the divine chariots and horses, which are the Lord’s messengers upon earth; 1:18–21 represents four horns, symbolizing the nations hostile to Israel; 2 shows the dimensions of the new Jerusalem under the image of an angel going out with his measuringline to lay out the site of the new city; 3. Josue or Jesus, the highpriest, stands before the Lord, laden with the sins of the people; 4 a golden candlestick and two olive-trees represent the restored community; 5:1–4, a roll inscribed with curses flies over the land, as a sign that in future the curse for crime will of itself light upon the criminal; 5:5–11, Israel’s guilt, personified by a woman, is cast into an ephah-measure, covered by its heavy lid, and transported to Babylon; 6:1–8, four chariots, with variously colored horses, appear in order to execute judgment in the different quarters of the earth. Chapter 6:9–15 forms an historical appendix.

As to the time of these prophecies, Zacharias lived and prophesied in the second and fourth years of Darius Hystaspis (1:1, 7; 7:1). Hence we must refer the book to the years 520 and 518 B.C. The eighth month of the second year of Darius falls between the date of Agg. 2:1–9 and Agg. 2:10–19. Zach. 1:7–6:8 belongs to the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month of the same year, while chapters 7, 8 are ascribed to the fourth day of the ninth month of the fourth year of Darius.

Returning to the third chapter, we may divide it into two parts: vv. 1–5, the high priest appears laden with the sins of the people and is accused by Satan, but acquitted and given rule over the temple, with the right of priestly access to the Lord; vv. 6–10, the divine protection, the coming of the Messias, the restoration of the theocracy, and abundance of peace are promised. In the second prophecy, 6:9–15, the prophet is commanded to take of the gold and silver which some of the exiles had sent as offerings for the temple, and to make therewith crowns for the highpriest. At the same time, the prophet repeats the promise of the Messias, who will rule successfully, and complete the building of the temple.

2. MESSIANIC CHARACTER OF THE PROPHECIES.—The Messianic bearing of both prophecies may be proved from the name Orient, which is given to the promised deliverer and restorer. “I will bring my servant the Orient,” the prophet says, 3:8; and 6:12, “behold a man, the Orient is his name.” Now it must be noted that in both places the Hebrew text reads “tsemach,” or “bud,” instead of Orient. But the name “bud” is peculiar to the Messias. Hence the above passages refer to the Messias. As to the statement that “bud” signifies the Messias in the language of the Old Testament prophets, numerous instances show its undeniable truthfulness. Is. 4:2 reads: “In that day the bud of the Lord shall be in magnificence;” Jer. 23:5 has a similar promise: “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, and I will raise up to David a just branch (tsemach).” Again, in 33:15 the divine promise is worded similarly: “In those days, and at that time, I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David.” A similar argument might be drawn from the Hebrew text of 2 Kings 23:2–5. But the passages quoted sufficiently show that the prophets designate the Messias by “bud” or “bud of the Lord.”

Besides, in Zach. 3:8 the “bud” is called “my servant.” But “servant” is another Messianic title. Hence in this passage the “bud,” or the Orient, as it is rendered in our version, designates the Messias. To complete the inferential value of this argument, we have only to show that in prophetic language “servant” is a name of the Messias. Since this will be clearly demonstrated in the fifth chapter of this treatise, we need not weary the reader by an anticipation of the proof.

But it may be asked how the name Orient can have been received into our versions instead of the original “bud.” It appears that this exchange of names is due to a misunderstanding of the Greek word ἀνατολή, by which the LXX. rendered the Hebrew “tsemach” (צֶמַח). Jerome (in vi. 12) undoubtedly considers the Greek ἀνατολὴ as derived from ἀνατέλλειν which is used of the rising sun or moon, but also of growing plants. The LXX. must have introduced the word into their version in this latter meaning. But subsequent translators took the ἀνατολὴ of the LXX. in its more common acceptation, as signifying the rising of the sun or the moon, and hence also the region in which that phenomenon takes place, i.e., the east. Following the analogy of this reasoning, Ribera maintains that even the Orient of Luke 1:78 must be taken in the sense of “bud,” or “plant.” Zachary, the author tells us, ascribes to this growing-up plant the power “to enlighten them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,” because this plant alone is “the true light which enlighteneth every man that cometh into this world.” The father of the Baptist, therefore, did not think of the figure of the rising sun when he spoke about the light issuing from the Orient. The LXX. rendering of Ezech. 16:7; 17:10; Gen. 19:25; Is. 61:11 confirms this interpretation of “tsemach” (צֶמַח). For in the former two passages the Hebrew term is rendered ἀνατολὴ with such additional determinations as to render the reference of the Geek word to the growing plant undeniably evident. In the passage of Gen. the LXX. employ the plural participle, so that they evidently think of “buds” or “plants,” while in the passage of Isaias they render the Hebrew term by “flower.” Still, these reasons do not remove all doubt; in Syriac the word “tsemach” (צֶמַח) is applied to the rising sun, so that the Syriac version interprets “tsemach” in Zach. 3 as “radiance,” or “brightness.” It is, therefore, possible that the LXX. too may have understood the passage in the same manner, especially since they interpret “tsemach” in Is. 4:2 as applying to the giving forth of light.

Finally, we must draw attention to the circumstance that the Targum too applies these prophetic passages to the Messias. Zach. 3:8 is rendered: “Behold, I bring my servant the Messias, who shall be revealed.” And the same Targum renders Zach. 6:12: “And thou shalt speak to him, saying: Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, saying, Behold, the man, Messias is his name, who shall hereafter be revealed and anointed.” A great number of Rabbinic testimonies showing that “branch,” or “bud,” is a Messianic name have been quoted in the explanation of Jer. 23:6 in part 1. chap. 6. sect. 2. But even the Rationalists generally grant that “branch,” or “bud,” is a Messianic title in the prophetic writings of the Hebrews.

It may, however, be asked whether the prophecies refer to the Messias in their literal sense, or only in their typical meaning. Most writers hold the former opinion; still, St. Ephrem, Theodoret, Theodore of Mopsuestia, and Barhebræus interpret the “branch,” or “bud,” in its literal sense as referring to Zorobabel, while Eusebius refers the literal meaning of the word to Jesus the highpriest; Calmet among the more recent writers has applied the literal sense to Zorobabel or Nehemias. But all these interpreters agree in applying the typical sense of the prophecies to the Messias.

ZACH. 3

And the Lord showed me Jesus the highpriest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan stood on his right hand to be his adversary. And the Lord said to Satan: The Lord rebuke thee, O Satan, and the Lord that chose Jerusalem rebuke thee; is not this a brand plucked out of the fire? And Jesus was clothed with filthy garments, and he stood before the face of the angel. Who answered and said to them that stood before him, saying: Take away the filthy garments from him. And he said to him: Behold, I have taken away thy iniquity, and have clothed thee with change of garments. And he said: Put a clean mitre upon his head. And they put a clean mitre upon his head and clothed him with garments, and the angel of the Lord stood. And the angel of the Lord protested to Jesus, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts: If thou wilt walk in my ways, and keep my charge, thou also shalt judge my house, and shalt keep my courts, and I will give thee some of them that are now present here to walk with thee. Hear, O Jesus, thou highpriest, thou and thy friends, that dwell before thee, for they are portending men; for behold, I will bring my servant the Orient. For behold, the stone that I have laid before Jesus, upon one stone there are seven eyes. Behold, I will grave the graving thereof, saith the Lord of hosts, and I will take away the iniquity of that land in one day. In that day, saith the Lord of hosts, every man shall call his friend under the vine and under the figtree.

ZACH. 6:9–15

And the word of the Lord came to me, saying: Take of them of the Captivity, of Holdai, and of Tobias, and of Idaias; and thou shalt come in that day, and shalt go into the house of Josias, the son of Sophonias, who came out of Babylon. And thou shalt take gold and silver, and shalt make crowns, and thou shalt set them on the head of Jesus the son of Josedec the highpriest, and thou shalt speak to him, saying: Thus saith the Lord of hosts, saying: Behold a man, the Orient is his name, and under him shall he spring up, and shall build a temple to the Lord. Yea, he shall build a temple to the Lord, and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. And the crowns shall be to Helem, and Tobias, and Idaias, and to Hem, the son of Sophonias, a memorial in the temple of the Lord. And they that are far off shall come, and shall build in the temple of the Lord, and you shall know that the Lord of hosts sent me to you. But this shall come to pass, if hearing you will hear the voice of the Lord your God.

The chief consolation which the contemporaries of the prophet might draw from these predictions was a divine assurance that the temple would surely be restored, and that another great offspring of David’s or Zorobabel’s family would rule in it.








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