We again take up the examination of the 8th chapter of Zechariah.
In the first eleven verses, the Lord describes a complete reversal of policy toward His people. Where before, He was acting on the promised wrath pre-stated in passages such as Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28, now He looks to heal and restore. The 3rd verse states, ”Thus says Adonai, ’I will return to Zion and dwell in the midst of Jerusalem. Then Jerusalem will be called the City of Truth and the mountain of Adonai-Tzva’ot will be called the Holy Mountain.’ “He will bring the people from east and west, filling the streets with old women and men on canes and girls and boys playing. The people should not see this as “too wonderful”, because, it is Adonai doing it and nothing is “too wonderful” for Him.
God continues in verse 12. There will be “zera hashalom”, the sowing or seeding of peace or general wellbeing.” ”The vine will yield its fruit; the ground will produce its increase, and the heavens will give their dew. I will cause the remnant of this people to inherit all these things.” The reference to inheritance re-establishes the link to those going before, to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, Joshua, David…The promises to the forbears are still in effect, operational. What God promised to Abraham still applies, through Isaac, Jacob, et.al. No replacement, just restoration.
He then goes on in verse 13, ”It will happen that just as you were a curse (“k’lalah”) among the nations, house of Judah and house of Israel, so will I save you and you will be a blessing (“b’rakhah”). ”K’lalah” and “b’rakhah” were rooted in the same verbs used to Abraham in Genesis 12:3, where Adonai says He will “bless” those who bless Abraham and his descendants and “curse” those who curse them. “Kallal” means to hold in low esteem, including attitude. ”Barakh”, or bless, at its core means to bend the knee; God will stoop down to relate to them as an adult would do to comfort a distraught child. The people of Judah and Israel will obviously be under the personal care of the Most High.
“Al tirah”- Fear not. The negative “al” is short-term, for the here and now. Fear requires a choice to resist at every instance. God’s use of “al” here calls for the people to chose confidence based on the knowledge of Adonai’s character, power, and promise. It assumes and presumes a knowledgeable relationship with God. They can then “let your hands be strong”.
God then urges the people to conduct themselves as people trusting in God and as children of God, with justice, peace, kindness, the absence of which things the earlier prophets reproved the people.
There will then follow a transformation of the view of service to the Lord. The requirements of Torah had become so distasteful that, if not ignored, were followed with no enthusiasm. Jeremiah speaks of the reason that the exile to Babylon had lasted 70 years was so the land could experience her Sabbaths. Apparently, the sabbatical and Jubilee years had been ignored for some 500 years. Malachi says that the people had neglected tithes and were cheating by bringing defective sacrifices. Zechariah, however, says the people will look forward even to fasts, inviting each other to go to the fasts, only to find the invitees are already going. Other nations and their leaders will be drawn to God because of the testimony of His treatment of Israel, and, ”ten men from every language of the nations will grasp the corner (fringes?) of the garment of a Jew, saying, ’Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’ “
Exciting times are with us and all Israel!
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.