The prophecies of Zechariah contain some of the most bewildering figurative imagery that we find in Scripture. In many ways, the writings of Zechariah are comparable to those of Daniel and the book of Revelation. All three of these books give a historical overview of major events to befall God's people between the time they were written and the time of the return of Christ to this Earth.
Many errors are taught regarding Daniel and Revelation in this final Church era, which are addressed at length on the pages of this website, so it seems fitting to also give an explanation of the prophecies of Zechariah, and to show how well these writings actually complement each other.
The aim here is not to give a full commentary, but rather to give an overview of Zechariah, with a focus on the more obscure and figurative passages.
Zechariah the prophet began receiving revelation from God in "the eighth month of the second year of Darius" (Zech 1:1). Note that the prophet Haggai began to receive his revelation from God two months earlier (Hag 1:1). Just prior to this time, a remnant of the Jews had returned to the land of Judah from Babylonian captivity by permission of the Persian king, Cyrus the Great. The books of Ezra and Nehemiah speak at large of these events.
Historical sources show that Cyrus ruled for eight years, and his son Cambyses for seven years. As Darius the Great succeeded Cambyses, we see that his second regnal year was 17 years after the return of the Jews from Babylon. This provides some interesting chronological information. As shown on the chart on the "HOME" page, Cyrus' first year of rule was 3482AM, i.e. the 3482nd year since Creation. Adding 17 inclusive years (i.e. including the first and the last) takes us to 3498AM for the second year of Darius.
The Jews who had returned to Jerusalem had been first and foremost occupied with rebuilding the temple, but because of opposition from Gentile neighbours, the work had stopped. The first chapter of Haggai tells us that this work was resumed in the second year of Darius, and Ezra 6:15 tells us that the temple was completed in the sixth year of Darius, which was 3502AM. Therefore this final period of the rebuilding work was centred on the year 3500AM, which is the exact midpoint of the 7000 years God has allotted for His work on Earth, as pictured by the seven days of Creation.
We are informed that the prophecy in Zechariah 7 was given in the fourth year of Darius, which places it at this exact 3500 year mark. This appears to be reflected in its content, as will be elaborated on below.
On the page "THE SEVEN DAY BLUEPRINT" the prophetic content of the seven days of Creation is outlined. The account of the fourth day, which pictures the fourth millennium of man's time on Earth, speaks of the "greater light" and the "lesser light". These picture primarily the first coming of Christ and the creation of the Church in the fourth millennium. As a matter of fact, the Church was established in the exact year 4000, the same year as the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
However, at the very beginning of the fourth millennium we see that the first temple, built by Solomon, had just been completed. The timing can be derived precisely from the Scriptures. The work on the foundation of the temple commenced in 2992AM, and the temple itself took seven years to complete, i.e. 2993-2999. The following year, 3000AM, the Ark of the Covenant was brought into the temple, and the temple was officially dedicated to God. Therefore the first year of the fourth millennium, 3001, was the first full year of its operation. The Scriptures from which this information is derived can be found on the chart on the "HOME" page.
So we see that the fourth millennium began with a physical temple in Jerusalem, in which Christ dwelt in spirit, and ended with a spiritual temple, within which Christ dwells in spirit. This is all in fulfilment of the prophecy concerning the fourth day of Creation, that of the "greater light" and the "lesser light".
This brings us back to Zechariah, and as we have just seen, to the exact middle point of this amazing fourth millennium.
Although the Jews have resumed rebuilding the temple at the commencement of Zechariah's prophecies, God warns the people (v 2-6) to remain obedient to Him by reminding them of the fate of their fathers. He petitions the people to further turn to Him, and verse 6 testifies that they respond favourably.
Three months later (v 7) the prophet is shown (v 8-11) a vision of a man on a red horse, accompanied by other horses, who reports that the "earth" of Israel is quiet and at peace. No doubt this is a result of God blessing the Jews for responding to Him. Verse 12 refers to the 70 year period of captivity in Babylon, regarding which verse 15 asserts that the Babylonians went too far in their punishment of Judah, and so now God wants to be merciful to His people.
Verses 18-19 give a figurative outline of the Gentile powers that would occupy/control the Holy Land, including Jerusalem. Whereas Daniel 7 pictures these powers as four beasts, Zechariah pictures them as four "horns". These powers are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greco-Rome, and Islam.
Zechariah also mentions (v 20-21) four "craftsmen" (other translations say "carpenters" or "blacksmiths") which come to "terrify and cast out" the four horns. This refers to the powers that were to drive out the four horns from Jerusalem: Medo-Persia conquered Babylon, Greco-Rome defeated Medo-Persia, Islam overcame Greco-Rome, and lastly, Islam was dislodged by Catholic/Christian forces which were a continuation of the Greco-Roman power.
The second chapter of Zechariah continues the chronology of the end of chapter one. The four "horns" or "beast" powers of chapter one were to control Jerusalem for "seven times", i.e. 2520 years, according to Lev 26 and Dan 4.
Verses 1-2 in chapter two show a man who has come "to measure Jerusalem". This is a similar scene to the one we witness in Rev 11:1-3, where it refers to the measurement of time, and specifically this same 2520 year period, as it pertains to Jerusalem.
Verses 4-5 say that Jerusalem will become a city overflowing with the people of "Zion" (v 7), and will extend far beyond its ancient walls, so that its new parameters are "without walls". God will instead be a "wall of fire" all around her. This depicts what happened when the Jews began to repopulate the city in the 20th century. Verse 6 admonishes the Jews who had been "spread abroad" by God to flee from "the land of the north" and "the daughter of Babylon", i.e. "Christian" Europe. As described at length on the page "THE TWO WITNESSES", this is exactly what occurred when the 2520 years ended in 1945.
Verse 8 states that "he who touches you touches the apple of His eye", and so the punishments poured out on the nations who have oppressed the Jews, and fought against Jerusalem, is evident throughout history, including during the period of the World Wars.
In verse 9 Zechariah says "then will you know that the Lord of hosts has sent me". It is from the fulfilment of Zechariah's prophecies that we can see he was a true prophet of God.
In verses 10-11 Christ says "I am coming and I will dwell in your midst" and "many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day" which is referring to the Kingdom He will soon establish and rule from Jerusalem.
So we see that chapters one and two give us a chronological outline of the time period from Judah's captivity in Babylon until the setting up of the Kingdom of God on Earth.
After the overview of time in chapters one and two, chapter three switches back to the time of Zechariah and presents us with a vision of Joshua the high priest standing before the "angel of the Lord", with Satan standing at the right hand of Joshua "to accuse him". Joshua is mentioned in the book of Ezra as being the high priest at the time of the return from Babylon under Zerubbabel, so Zechariah would have personally known him (Ezra 5:1-2). Jude 9 identifies the "angel of the Lord" here as Michael the archangel.
In verse 3 Joshua is pictured wearing "filthy garments", but the angel of the Lord orders that they be removed and replaced with clean clothing, which the angel explains to Joshua is symbolic of having "removed your iniquity".
The priesthood had failed in its duty to lead the people to God, and the defeat and removal of the Jews by the Babylonians had been the result. Now however, with a remnant of the Jews having returned from Babylon, a new start is proposed by God, as spelled out in verse 7.
Verse 8 goes on to state that the high priest and priests, being intermediaries between man and God, are a type of Christ. Christ is here figuratively referred to as "the branch", as He is elsewhere in Scripture, e.g. Isa 11:1, Jer 23:5 and Jer 33:15.
The "stone" in verse 9 refers to the "chief corner stone", i.e. Christ, that the "builders", i.e. the priests, would go on to reject (Ps 118:22-23; Matt 21:42). The inference is that the priesthood, having been given a clean start, should not once again reject God.
Verse 9 also speaks of "seven eyes". This is rather obscure, but in Rev 5:6 these are identified as "the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth". The general belief is that this refers to seven angels, or seven orders of angels, that work on God's behalf.
Continuing in verse 9, God says that He "will remove the iniquity of that land in one day", which must refer to the day of Passover when Christ would be sacrificed. This very sacrifice has been rejected by Judaism to this day.
In chapter 4 (v 1-3) we are presented with a vision of a seven branched golden lampstand, called in Hebrew a menorah. On either side of the lampstand is an olive tree. Verses 11 to 14 tell us that the olive trees "stand beside the Lord".
Rev 11:3-4 informs us that the two olive trees are also called "two witnesses". The page "THE TWO WITNESSES" gives 14 specific proofs that the "two witnesses" are the descendants of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, i.e. the Jews.
This makes perfect sense in the narrative of Zechariah, because the people who had returned from Babylon to the Holy Land in Zechariah's time were those of the southern kingdom of Judah, who at their core consisted of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
God had called all the tribes of Israel to be "a light unto the nations" (Isa 42:6; Isa 49:6), as represented by the original menorah. Later, in Solomon's temple, the tribes were individually represented by such lampstands.
God had also stated to all of Israel that "you are my witnesses" (Isa 43:10). However, the northern kingdom of Israel, composed of ten of the twelve tribes of Israel, apostatized, went into Assyrian captivity, and did not return to the Holy Land.
This is why we see only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin represented by two olive trees pictured giving fuel to the menorah, and also why they are represented as two witnesses, two olive trees, and two lampstands, in Rev 11:3-4.
Although some people from the other tribes had joined with those of Judah and Benjamin before the northern Kingdom fell, we see evidence in the book of Ezra that the people who returned from Babylon still collectively went by the name "Judah and Benjamin".
In Ezra 4:1-2 we read "Now when the adversaries of Judah and Benjamin heard that the descendants of the captivity were building the temple of the Lord God of Israel, they came to Zerubbabel ..... ".
Regarding a religious gathering ordered by Ezra and the elders of the people, Ezra 10:9 states "So all the men of Judah and Benjamin gathered at Jerusalem".
In Revelation 1:12-20 we find the symbolism of the lampstands also applied to spiritual Israel. Christ is here depicted standing "in the midst" of "seven golden lampstands" which are described as picturing "the seven churches". Rev 2 and 3 show that these comprise seven eras of Church history, spanning from the first century until our time today.
Verses 6 to 9 are a message of encouragement to the temple builders, telling them that regardless of oppression and those who have "despised the day of small things" (v 10), God Himself will see to it that His work is done.
Verse 10 of Zechariah 4 once again mentions the seven eyes of God and indicates that there will be rejoicing both in Heaven and on Earth at Zerubbabel's work of rebuilding the temple.
In this chapter we are introduced to more figurative images. Verse 2 speaks of a "flying roll" or "flying scroll". The scroll represents a curse upon "the face of the whole earth", which specifically applies to the land of Judea and its people.
Verse 3 mentions writing on both sides of the scroll. One side has curses because of the sin of stealing, and the other side has curses because of the sin of swearing falsely by God's name (v 4). This shows that sin brings punishment. As the people of Israel were given God's law and had entered into a covenant of obedience with Him, punishment came on them because of their transgressions.
In verses 6 to 7, a measuring basket with a round metal lid is shown to Zechariah. This was the device commonly used by vendors in the marketplace to measure produce, such as grain, at the time of sale. The produce was placed into the measuring basket, pressed down with the lid, and shaken to eliminate any gaps. More produce would then be added until the basket was completely full. This is what Christ was referring to as a type of God's blessings when He said "Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom". Here in Zechariah it pictures the iniquity of the people of the Kingdom of Judah, which had come to the full, bringing curses upon them.
Thus we see a woman, who represents Judah, sitting in a measuring basket and being measured by God. The verdict isn't good, as verse 8 describes her as "wickedness". She had already been described above as those who steal and swear falsely.
Verse 9 then mentions two women with wings who carry away the basket containing Judah. As already indicated, a woman in Scripture is a symbol of a people or a nation. In verse 11 we are told that Judah is taken to a place called "Shinar", i.e. Babylon (Dan 1:2), which is where the captives of Judah were originally transported. However, the Jews were also taken into captivity a second time, when Rome destroyed Jerusalem in 70AD, so it must be Babylon and Rome that are pictured by the two women.
The historical fact that both the Babylonian and Roman destructions of Jerusalem took place on the 10th day of the fifth month is noteworthy, to say the least (Jer 52:12; The Jewish War 6:250).
This also fits with what we find in Ezekiel chapter 4. Ezekiel is told by God to lie on one of his sides for 390 days, picturing 390 inclusive years of Israel's sins, from when Solomon descended into idolatry in 3018AM, until the the Babylonian destruction of Jerusalem in 3407AM.
Ezekiel is then told to lie on his other side for 40 days, picturing the sins of the House of Judah. This fits perfectly with the 40 inclusive year period from the death of Christ at the hands of the Jews in 4000AM (31AD) until the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in 4039 (70AD).
In both instances the periods of time that are pictured end in a siege of Jerusalem. Again, we see a perfect historical fit, as well as an alignment of prophecies from various parts of Scripture.
In chapter 6 we are presented with a vision of four horse drawn chariots. These are described in verse 5 as being "the four spirits of the heavens, which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth". These appear to be angelic forces that control the power of nations in this world, in particular those nations that affect God's people and His land. From the prophecies of Daniel, and confirmed in chapter 1 of Zechariah, we see that the four powers that occupy and control the Holy Land are Babylon, Medo-Persia, Greco-Rome, and Islam.
The first chariot is shown to have red horses, but in the description in verses 6 and 7 these red horses are not mentioned. The inference is that the red horses represent the angelic forces that aided Babylon, which at the time of Zechariah's writing had already been defeated by Medo-Persia. Verse 8 confirms this by stating that the black horses, representing the forces aiding Medo-Persia, have given God's spirit rest, i.e. dealt with the Babylonians.
Verse 6 says that the black horses (those aiding Medo-Persia) go to the north (to deal with Babylon), the white horses (those aiding Greco-Rome) follow them to the north, to deal with Medo-Persia, and the dappled horses (those aiding Islam) go to the south to help the adherents of Islam defeat the Greco-Romans.
The "earth" mentioned twice in verse 7 refers to the land of Israel.
From verse 9 till the end of the chapter we read of the making of a crown of gold and silver, which is placed on the head of Joshua the high priest, who is a type of Christ. This provides a logical sequence, as the four Gentile powers that rule Jerusalem and the Holy Land are succeeded by the rule of the people of God - first His physical people, the Jews, and, at His return, Christ and His spiritual people.
Verse 12 again mentions "the man whose name is the Branch", speaking of Christ's first coming as a physical man.
Verse 12 continues with "From His place He shall branch out, and He shall build the temple of the Lord", which refers to Christ raising up the Church.
Verse 13 speaks of His coming rule as both King and Priest, and how these two ruling offices will be harmoniously combined.
As mentioned in the introduction, the prophecy in chapter 7 is given in the fourth year of Darius the Great, which is the year 3500AM, it thus being the exact middle point of God's seven thousand year plan here on Earth.
Verses 2 and 3 state that the Jews sent representatives to the temple to inquire if they should continue fasting in the fifth month, commemorating the fall and destruction of Jerusalem at the hands of the Babylonians. Maybe the fact that Babylon had been conquered by Medo-Persia, and the Jews had been permitted to return to their land, made them enquire about this.
God responds by saying that their fasting (including the commanded fast of the Day of Atonement in the seventh month) was not being done in the right spirit. He states in verses 5 to 10 that physical religious practices that are not of the heart are basically meaningless.
In verses 7 and 12 God speaks of those in the past who disobeyed the "former prophets" and therefore were punished with captivity, and, as said in verse 14, were "scattered" among "the nations".
In verses 8 to 10 God reiterates His way of life, the inference being that this time the Jews must conduct themselves differently, or the same outcome will result. As verse 11 says, "they" in the past disobeyed, so don't follow their example.
So here at the centre of the 7000 year plan we see God's intent for man in a nutshell: He wants man to develop His spiritual qualities of "justice", "compassion" and "mercy", and to not "plan evil in his heart".
In verse 3 of chapter 8 most translations say "Thus says the Lord: I will return to Zion....". The literal text however says "I have returned to Zion". God is saying that He is with those who have come back to Judea from Babylon.
Verses 4 and 5 mention people living till an old age, and children playing in the street, both pointing towards a time of relative peace for generations after the return from Babylon.
In verses 7 and 8 God speaks of gathering more of His people from the east and the west and bringing them to Jerusalem.
Verses 9 and 10 contain encouragement from God to complete the rebuilding of the temple, as working conditions have greatly improved under Darius the Great.
In verse 12 we learn of more blessings that are to come upon the returned Jews.
The houses of both Israel and Judah are mentioned in verse 13, and this appears to be pointing to a much later time, when these have both fulfilled their respective periods of 2520 years of punishment foretold in Lev 26:18, 21, 24 and 28.
Verses 14 to 17 refer back again to the Jews at the time of Zechariah, who have re-established themselves in the Holy Land, with only the "house of Judah" mentioned in verse 15. God again reminds the Jews to keep His law, even in spirit, recalling the sins of the flying scroll.
The four fast days mentioned in verse 18 are from that time proclaimed to be feast days.
Verses 20 to 23 seem to apply to future times of Gentile conversion to the true religion.
Chapter 9 moves us chronologically to the third of the four powers that conquer Jerusalem and the Holy Land. These powers are described in Zech 1 as "horns". The third power is Greco-Rome, led initially by Alexander the Great.
Verses 1 to 4 predict Alexander's conquests in Syria and modern day Lebanon, and verses 5 to 7 predict those in the territories of the Philistines.
Verse 8 contains some very specific details that history confirms. It starts with "I will camp around my house because of the army". When Alexander and his army approached Jerusalem, he was so struck with the priests who came out to meet him, all dressed in white, that he did not attack the city. Instead he dismounted and went into the temple and offered sacrifice.
The verse continues with "because of him who passes by and him who returns". Alexander passed on from Jerusalem, down the coast to Egypt, doing battle there, before passing back up again through Israel, toward Syria and Persia.
Then it says "no more shall an oppressor pass through them" which at first seems odd, knowing Israel's long history of warfare. However, the indefinite article ("a" or "an") does not occur in Hebrew. It is added by translators when they feel it is required. In this case it is a mistake. This verse is not saying that Gentile armies will no longer conquer the Holy Land, but rather that this oppressor, Alexander, will no more pass through the land. And he didn't. Instead, he continued on fighting wars in the East, as far as India, until his untimely death in Babylon.
Verse 8 concludes with "For now I have seen with My eyes" or, as other translations say, "For now I am keeping watch", indicating that God is protecting what is His.
In verse 9 we find the well known Scripture quoted in the New Testament, predicting Christ's triumphal entry into Jerusalem: "Behold your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey".
Verse 10 contains the message of peace that Christ brings: the war "chariots", "horses" and "battle bow" will be "cut off".
Verses 11 to 17 switch back to the time of Greek rule of the Holy Land. God says that because of the covenant He made with Israel at Sinai, He will still fight on their behalf. Verse 13 mentions a victorious war over "Greeks", which history identifies as the Maccabean wars against the Seleucids.
Chapter 10 begins by saying that if men sincerely turn to God and petition Him, He will respond favourably. But instead, people turn to idols and listen to false teachers, as verse 2 indicates, which is so similar to our own times.
Verse 3 states that God is angry with the "shepherds" of the "house of Judah". However, He declares that He "will visit His flock" (Christ's first coming) and make those that accept Him "His royal horse in the battle".
Christ is the one indicated by the terms "cornerstone" and "tent peg" (Isa 22:25) in verse 4, and it is stated that He will raise up "mighty men who tread down their enemies", i.e. spiritual warriors, who shall "put to shame" "riders on horses", i.e. those of the white horse of Rev 6, who picture false religion.
In verse 6 God promises to preserve His physical people, both the House of Judah (the two southern tribes of Israel) and the House of Joseph (the ten northern tribes of Israel).
Ephraim, the leading tribe of Israel, was to be blessed when their time of punishment ended. Verse 9 says that they would be "among the peoples" and "in far countries". They became the nations of Great Britain and its vast empire.
Verse 10 switches back to the House of Judah who, when their time of punishment ended, were brought back from "Assyria" (Germany) and "Egypt" in the 20th century. The page "THE TWO WITNESSES" describes this at length.
Verse 11 alludes to the ancient Israelite crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan river, when it states that Christ will "strike the waves of the sea". Here it indicates that the Germans and their "Christian" counterparts, as well as the Egyptians and their fellow Arab nations, were cursed because of what they did to the Jews. It says "the pride of Assyria shall be brought low", which happened with their WW2 defeat. It states further "the scepter of Egypt shall depart", which is confirmed by the lowly status that Egypt has descended to in modern times.
Verses 1 to 3 of chapter 11 are a figurative description of the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem, in 70AD. Its construction had involved many "cypress" trees and "cedars" of "Lebanon" (II Chron 2:5-8), which are all mentioned here, the destruction leaving only the sound of "wailing shepherds".
In verse 4, Christ is instructed by His Father at the time of His first coming to spiritually feed the flock of Judah, whose religious leaders have failed them. In verse 7 we are told that Christ did this, teaching especially the "poor", i.e. the humble, meaning those who were teachable.
Verse 7 states that Christ "took two staffs and called one Favour and the other Union, and I pastured the flock" (NIV). No doubt shepherd staffs are intended.
Verse 8 states "I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me".
The Jewish nation had three main bodies of religious leaders. These were the priests (Sadducees), the teachers of the law (Pharisees), and the judiciary, called the Sanhedrin, which was made up of the elders of the Sadducees and the Pharisees. Christ strove with these "shepherds" of the people throughout His ministry, a ministry which began after Christ had turned thirty years of age.
Using the "day for a year" method of prophetic interpretation, "one month", or thirty days, equals 30 years. So "in one month" simply means "after 30 years". Christ, after He had turned 30, became the "Chief Shepherd" (I Pet 5:4), and took the place of "the three shepherds".
Christ is also High Priest (Heb 4:14), and Num 4:3 states that a priest must be 30 years of age before he can serve in that role.
In verse 10 Christ states that He took the shepherd's staff called Favour ("Beauty" - KJV) and cut it in two, symbolising the ending of the Old Covenant, which had been made with the tribes of Israel at Sinai.
Verses 12 and 13 contain elements quoted in the New Testament account of Christ's betrayal, namely concerning the 30 pieces of silver paid to Judas Iscariot.
Verse 14 moves to the second shepherd's staff, called Union ("Bands" - KJV), which Christ also breaks, symbolising the "breaking of the brotherhood between Judah and Israel". It is an indisputable fact that throughout the Christian era there has been much animosity between the Jews, who on a national level have rejected Christ, and the Israelite nations, who on a national level have accepted Christ.
Verses 15 to 18 continue by stating that, from that point on, the religion of the Jews will be led by men described as fulfilling the office of a "foolish shepherd", or "worthless shepherd". After the 70AD destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, the only strand of Jewish religion that continued was that of the Pharisees, which we know as Judaism. A religion that claims to represent the God of the Holy Scriptures, and yet rejects Christ, the very author of those Scriptures, is indeed "foolish" and "worthless".
Verse 17 says that both the "arm", picturing strength, and the "right eye", picturing understanding, of the "foolish shepherd", will completely fail. And so they have, as far as leading people to the truth of God is concerned.
Chapter 12 introduces a new prophecy, centred on the time immediately after WWII, when the 2520 years since the capture of Jerusalem by the Babylonians were completed, and the Jews returned to the Holy Land.
Verse 2 says that the nations surrounding Israel will "lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem". This is exactly what happened. On the same day that the modern State of Israel was declared, May 14 1948, the Arab nations that border Israel declared war, and invaded Israel the following day.
Verses 3 to 6 say that God would fight on Israel's behalf, and that the Jews would once again inhabit Jerusalem. This is exactly what happened. By November 1948 the Jews had captured about 90 percent of Jerusalem and a truce was declared in the city. Following this, the Jews began to resettle the city, the Jewish government relocated its place of operation to Jerusalem in 1949, and the city was declared Israel's capital in early 1950.
Verse 7 seems hard to understand, but the NLT captures it very well: "The Lord will give victory to the rest of Judah first, before Jerusalem, so that the people of Jerusalem and the royal line of David will not have greater honor than the rest of Judah".
The remaining 10 percent of Jerusalem was not captured until 1967, so the rest of Judah had the honour of liberation before Jerusalem as a whole.
Verses 10 to 14 present a remarkable picture. Christ speaks of Jews who "will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn".
Although the vast majority of Jews reject Christ, and many even abandoned Judaism after the Holocaust, a very small percentage of them did begin accepting Christ as the prophesied Messiah after Israel's rebirth as a nation. These people are today known as Messianic Jews. Verses 10 to 14 speak of people both high and low who "mourn by themselves", or in other words, come to individual repentance. This phenomenon will take on larger proportions among the Jews who remain after Christ's return.
Verse 1 of chapter 13 continues with the scene after Christ's return. The "fountain" that shall be opened "for sin and for uncleanness" sounds very much like the "pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God" in Rev 22:1.
Verses 2 to 6 speak of false religion and its practices becoming a thing of the past.
Verses 7 to 9 are a different prophecy altogether, and are sectioned off as such in the various translations. "Strike the Shepherd" in verse 7 is quoted in Matt 26:31 and Mark 14:27, and so the prophecy places us in the Holy Land at the time of Christ's first coming.
Verse 8 says that "two thirds in it shall be cut off", and this fits exactly with what happened in the aftermath of Christ's first coming. In the 67-73AD war with the Romans, some two-thirds of the Jews were killed, as foretold by the first trumpet of the seventh seal in Rev 8. See "THE HISTORICAL SEVENTH SEAL" for more details on this.
Verse 9 goes on to state that the remaining one-third will be greatly "refined" through the years. So we see a small remnant of Jews today who "keep the commandments of God and have the testimony of Jesus Christ", fulfilling the Biblical definition of His true people (Rev 12:14).
In verse 9 God says that these people "call on My name", and He responds "This is My people".
Chapter 14 begins by referring to a "day of the Lord", which is a term used in Scripture to denote any significant intervention on God's part in our world. In Lam 2:22 the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians is called a "day of the Lord". In Isa 13:9 the overthrow of Babylon by the Medes is called a "day of the Lord". In the book of Joel three separate days of the Lord are mentioned, which are the Babylonian and Roman destructions of Jerusalem, as well as the Holocaust and its aftermath, i.e. the return of the Jews to the Holy Land. These three days of the Lord are described on the page "THE END TIME ELIJAH".
The context of the "day of the Lord" in Zech 14:1 shows that it is the time of the Jews' return to the new State of Israel after World War II, which is the same time period as in chapter 12.
Verse 2 is very specific. It mentions the city of Jerusalem being "taken", but also "half the city" going "into captivity". Both of these things did occur at that time. The 1948-49 War of Independence saw the historic, eastern "half" of the city fall into Arab hands, whereas the western "half" was captured by Jewish fighters. The newer, western half of the city is actually much larger than the older "East Jerusalem". That's why in Rev 11 the split is described as 90 percent and 10 percent.
Verse 2 also speaks of "the houses rifled and the women ravished" which refers to Jewish places of worship. The Arabs damaged and destroyed Jewish synagogues and their contents in the Old City of Jerusalem during the 19 years (1948-1967) that they controlled it.
Verse 3 continues "Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations as He fights in the day of battle", which without a doubt He did in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War. In 1967 East Jerusalem was captured by the Jews, and so all of Jerusalem was then in their hands. This completed 2300 years of defilement of Jerusalem at the hands of Gentile occupiers (333BC-1967AD), as prophesied in Dan 8:14.
From this point on we are dealing with future events, so the interpretation is speculative. These prophecies could apply both literally and figuratively.
In verse 4 we read of Christ's soon coming return, when He stands on the Mount of Olives, and it splits in two, with half moving to the north and half to the south. This split creates a cleft, or valley, that runs from east to west.
Verse 5 mentions "you" fleeing "through" (in italics) the valley in the Mount of Olives "as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah". This appears to refer to Jews fleeing, not "through", but from the cleft that has opened up in the earth.
The cleft, or valley, is said to extend as far as "Azal". Some scholars equate Azal with "Beth Ezel", a town mentioned in Mic 1:11 and located in the territory of the Philistines, near the Mediterranean Sea. This would make sense, as Beth Ezel is due west of Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives. It is also interesting that both the Dome of the Rock and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre are located along this same east-west line, meaning both would be destroyed in this scenario.
Verse 5 states that this happens as Christ returns with His resurrected saints.
Verses 6 to 9 describe conditions at the commencement of Christ's rule. The "living waters" that will flow from Jerusalem fits perfectly with the valley that the earthquake creates, as this valley allows water to flow down from Jerusalem to the Dead Sea in the east, and to the Mediterranean Sea in the west. We see a similar picture of water flowing from the Jerusalem temple in Eze 47:1-12, Joel 3:18 and Rev 22:1. In these prophecies the Dead Sea is a type of the nation of Israel, and the Mediterranean Sea is a type of the Gentile nations.
Verse 10 appears to speak of the Jerusalem area changing in topography by being lifted up and exalted, which might also occur as a result of the earthquake at Christ's return. This brings to mind the spiritual picture in Isa 40:4 referring to Christ's first coming: "Every valley shall be exalted and every mountain and hill brought low. The crooked places shall be made straight and the rough places smooth".
Verses 12 and 15 show the devastating power of God those who fight Christ will encounter. Rev 19:17-21 greatly elaborates on these armies and their fate.
Verses 13 and 14 seem to indicate that the return of Christ sets off panic and great civil unrest among the Jews and their neighbours in Jerusalem, in which battle the Jews are victorious.
Verses 16 to 21 reveal the conditions after Christ begins His rule. There will be physical survivors from the wrath poured out, and they will be taught to keep God's law, including the observance of the Feast of Tabernacles, as commanded in Lev 23. If they disobey, they will be punished.
The chapter closes with "there shall no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the Lord", which means that from then on people will no longer live in ignorance of the true God. In God's Kingdom, all mankind will learn to live His way.
So we see that while the book of Zechariah on the surface appears very difficult to interpret due to its figurative language and imagery, once we compare these prophecies to those of Daniel, Revelation and other Scriptures, and when we take into account the history of God's people and the Holy Land, we get a pretty good picture of what is being portrayed here.