Our most recent look at Zechariah focused on the appearance of the golden M’norah in Zechariah’s vision in chapter 4. In verse 6, we get a glimpse of the focus of the general message of the prophetic vision contained in this chapter, to this writer the key chapter of the entire book. As stated in the earlier parts of this series, the people have returned from Babylonian exile and, under Zerubbabel’s governance, are attempting to rebuild a country, a city, and the Temple, though seriously short of money, influence, and manpower.
In verse 6, Adonai speaks to the prophet ,saying, “Zeh D’var Adonai l’Zerubbavel”; “This is the Word of the Lord to Zerubbabel…”. How profound! When facing a crisis, what is needed is the entry of God’s Word. This was true for Zerubbabel, too. Faced with a nearly impossible situation in which he was desperately lacking in resources, Adonai reminds how Israel had come through all the past dangers like slavery to Pharaoh, the Red Sea, Goliath, Jericho, and countless others.
“Lo v’Chayil”, popularly translated as “not by might”. “Chayil” means wealth, influence, military force. It is the capacity to direct events by exerting influence on situations. Zerubbabel had little money, influence at the Persian court, or manpower; however, the negative “lo”, or “no” is open-ended, clearly, success has never been based on such things. Instead, Israel had always beaten the odds because of the overwhelming power of God.
“Lo v’koach”, or, “not by power”, refers to physical force, muscle power, or, what we might today refer to sweat equity. Sometimes, when faced with a challenge and lacking the assets referred to above, we try to make up for the lack with hard physical strength. The use of “lo” again makes clear that such was never the case.
Instead, Adonai said success is achieved “v’Ruchi”, “by My Spirit”. God’s Spirit was crucial in the Creation in Genesis 1. Again and again, the Scriptures state that His Spirit would come upon the Biblical heroes and empower them to do their exploits. Such would be true also for Zerubbabel, an ordinary man who would accomplish extraordinary things. This would happen by the Hand of “Adonai Tz’vaot” – the “Lord of Armies”, Who has everything needed in “industrial strength”.
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.