Call for Obedience. 1In the second year of Darius,* in the eighth month, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo: 2The LORD was very angry with your ancestors.* a 3Say to them: Thus says the LORD of hosts, Return to me—oracle of the LORD* of hosts—and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts. 4Do not be like your ancestors to whom the earlier prophets* proclaimed: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Turn from your evil ways and from your wicked deeds.b But they did not listen or pay attention to mec—oracle of the LORD.— 5Your ancestors, where are they? And the prophets, can they live forever? 6But my words and my statutes, with which I charged my servants the prophets, did these not overtake your ancestors?d Then they repented* and admitted: “Just as the LORD of hosts intended to treat us according to our ways and deeds, so the LORD has done.”
First Vision: Horses Patrolling the Earth.e 7In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, the eleventh month,* the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:
8* I looked out in the night,* and there was a man mounted on a red horse standing in the shadows among myrtle trees; and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses. 9I asked, “What are these, my lord?”* Then the angel who spoke with me answered, “I will show you what these are.” 10Then the man who was standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are the ones whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.”f 11And they answered the angel of the LORD,* who was standing among the myrtle trees: “We have been patrolling the earth, and now the whole earth rests quietly.” 12Then the angel of the LORD replied, “LORD of hosts, how long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?”* g 13To the angel who spoke with me, the LORD replied favorably, with comforting words.
I am jealous for Jerusalem
15I am consumed with anger
toward the complacent nations;*
When I was only a little angry,
they compounded the disaster.i
16Therefore, thus says the LORD:
I return to Jerusalem in mercy;j
and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.
17Proclaim further: Thus says the LORD of hosts:
My cities will again overflow with prosperity;
the LORD will again comfort Zion,
and will again choose Jerusalem.l
* [1:1] Darius: Darius I, emperor of Persia from 522 to 486 B.C. The second year…eighth month: October/November 520 B.C., i.e., prior to the latest date in Haggai (Dec. 18, 520 B.C., Hg 2:10). Unlike other prophets, Haggai and Zechariah 1–8 contain specific chronological information, probably because they were sensitive to the imminent end of the expected seventy years of exile. See note on Zec 1:12.
* [1:2] Your ancestors: refers to the preexilic people of Judah, who were subjected to Babylonian destruction and exile.
* [1:3] Oracle of the LORD: a phrase used extensively in prophetic books to indicate divine speech.
* [1:6] Repented: the Hebrew word shub literally means “turn back.” This term is often used to speak of repentance as a return to the covenantal relationship between Israel and the Lord.
* [1:8] In the night: nighttime, or this night. This setting of darkness is meant only for the first vision.
* [1:9] My lord: this expression in Hebrew (‘adoni) is used as a polite form of address. Angel who spoke with me: angelic being (not identical to the angel of the Lord who is one of the four horsemen) who serves as an interpreter, bringing a message from God to the prophet, who himself is a messenger of God.
* [1:12] These seventy years: allusion to the period of divine anger mentioned in Jer 25:11–12 and 29:10. Here the symbolic number seventy is understood to mark the period without a Temple in Jerusalem. Since these seventy years would have been almost over at this point, this symbolic number would have provided motivation for rebuilding the Temple as a sign of the end of the exile.
* [1:14] For Jerusalem and for Zion: rather than the usual order, Zion and Jerusalem, elsewhere in the Bible. The reversal highlights the centrality of Jerusalem, which is mentioned in all three of the brief oracles of 1:14–17.
* [1:15] Complacent nations: probably a reference to the Persian empire, which in its imperial extent included many national groups that maintained separate identities. Compounded the disaster: the surrounding nations took advantage of the Lord’s anger against Judah to further their own interests.