The ninth chapter of Zechariah begins the move to the specific means Adonai will use to deliver His people. The surrounding nations, who have not only oppressed Israel, but, have acted as cheering sections for all the others who did her harm, will now have their comeuppance. The Lord will draw the attention of the whole world to Himself -“the eyes of men and all the tribes of Israel are toward Adonai (verse 1)- but, also, to the nations about to be judged (verse 2). These are the violent and jealous neighbors Syria, Phoenecia, the Philistines, et.al. Tyre, who has built herself a supposedly secure fortress where she can heap up silver “like dust” and gold “like dirt in the streets” will be impoverished by God, Who “will destroy her power on the sea while she will be devoured by fire” (verses 3-4). The cities of the Philistines will experience excruciating pain.
However, ”I will camp around My House against marauding forces. No oppressor will overrun them again – for now I watch with My own eyes.”(verse 8)
This change of Divine policy leads to a new mindset in Jerusalem. ”Rejoice greatly, bat-Tziyyon – daughter of Zion! Shout, daughter of Jerusalem!” The verbs are imperatives, stating that joy in the deliverance and Presence of Adonai is a must. The reason for this is the emergence of the Jewish king. This king is distinguished by lowliness. The former kings of Israel came with pomp and majesty; this one is remarkable for His lack thereof. ”Behold, your king is coming to you, a righteous one bringing salvation. He is lowly, riding on a donkey – on a colt, the foal of a donkey.“ (verse 9) This reminds one of Isaiah 53 – ““Who has believed our report, and, to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed. For, He grew up before Him as a tender shoot, like a root out of dry ground. He had no form or majesty that we should look at Him, nor beauty that we should desire Him…” (Isaiah 53:1-2). The lowliness allows the true character to be seen, not overshadowed by the trappings. It also fulfills scripture.
However, this One will “banish chariots from Ephraim and horses from Jerusalem. The war bow will be broken. He will speak the shalom to the nations (Gentiles?) His rule will extend from sea to sea, from the River (the Euphrates) to the ends of the earth.” (Zechariah 9:9-10)
Then in verse 11, ”by the blood of your covenant, I will release your prisoners from the waterless Pit. ”Again, we are reminded of the Messianic promises such as Isaiah 53, where “He will be wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our guilts…by His stripes we are healed.” The sacrifice of Messiah delivers His people from Hell.
“Today I declare that I will restore twice as much to you.” (verse 12) I will wield you like a warrior’s sword.” (verse 13)
Then, in verse 16, Adonai exults, ”Adonai their God will save them on that day as the flock of His people. They will be like gems of a crown sparkling over His land.”
All this because of a king on a donkey! And, what a king!
Rabbi Jeffrey A. Adler
Rabbi Jeffrey Adler is on the Board of HaShomer and also Rabbi of Sha’arey Yeshua in Indianapolis, IN.