After laying the groundwork in chapter 1 for the declaration of His true intentions for Israel in the wake of the return from Babylonian exile, the Lord continues in concrete terms in chapter 2 to make clear that there should be no doubt.
The chapter opens with an angelic figure appearing with a measuring line, declaring his intention to measure Jerusalem. Mysteriously, after departing, he is ordered back with another message for the young prophet. Reading between the lines, Zechariah is embarrassed by the ruined state of the city. Nehemiah, speaking of his clandestine, nighttime inspection of the ruins, had stated that there were many places where his horse could not pass because of the damage. Zechariah was understandably humiliated by the prospect of this “workman” surveying the chaos of the city and focusing on it by measuring it. Instead, the visitor is sent back to clarify; Jerusalem was not being measured in its current state, but, to lay out plans for a glorious future. “Jerusalem will be a city without walls because of the number of people and animals within her, and, I will be a wall of fire around her. And, I will be the glory in her midst.”
Jerusalem of the future would be a city whose growth will be so explosive and expansive that protective walls will be useless and impractical. How will she have protection without walls? God Himself would defend her, just as in classical times. And, the Lord would be her “k’vod”, “glory”. We tend to think of “glory” as brightness, which is certainly appropriate, but, the Hebrew verb from which it derives literally means to have weight or to be heavy. Israel had been blown away into exile, but, here God says He Himself would hold her together. As verse 8 says, “He who touches you, sticks his finger in God’s eye.”
The result will be the testimony to God’s faithfulness and power that Israel was called to bring, resulting in nations being turned to the Lord.
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.