Prophetic Vision: Joshua the High Priest. 1Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, while the adversary* stood at his right side to accuse him.a 2And the angel of the LORD said to the adversary, “May the LORD rebuke you, O adversary; may the LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you!b Is this not a brand plucked from the fire?”c
3* Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clad in filthy garments. 4Then the angel said to those standing before him, “Remove his filthy garments.”d And to him he said, “Look, I have taken your guilt from you,e and I am clothing you in stately robes.” 5Then he said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” And they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with the garments while the angel of the LORD was standing by. 6Then the angel of the LORD charged Joshua: 7“Thus says the LORD of hosts: If you walk in my ways and carry out my charge, you will administer my house and watch over my courts;* and I will give you access to those standing here.”
Supplementary Oracle. 8“Hear, O Joshua, high priest! You and your associates who sit before you! For they are signs of things to come!* f I will surely bring my servant the Branch. 9Look at the stoneg that I have placed before Joshua. On this one stone with seven facets* h I will engrave its inscription—oracle of the LORD of hosts—and I will take away the guilt of that land in one day. 10On that day—oracle of the LORD of hosts—you will invite one another under your vines and fig trees.”i
* [3:1] Adversary: Hebrew satan, here, the prosecuting attorney, a figure in the Lord’s heavenly courtroom. Cf. Jb 1:6–2:7. Later tradition understands this figure to be Satan.
* [3:3–4] The filthy garments of Joshua symbolized the guilt of the Israelite people who have become unclean by going into exile. The angel of the Lord purifies the high priest by the removal of his garments.
* [3:7] If you walk…watch over my courts: four components of priestly activity: (1) following God’s commandments and teaching them to the people, (2) carrying out cultic functions, (3) participating in the judicial system in certain difficult cases, and (4) administering the laborers and lands in the Temple’s domain.
* [3:8] Signs of things to come: the restoration of the priesthood is a sign of the expected restoration of the Davidic line. The Branch: a tree metaphor for the expected future ruler as a descendant of the Davidic dynasty. This imagery also appears in Is 11:1, 10; Jer 23:5; 33:15; and Zec 6:12.
* [3:9] Stone with seven facets: represents both the precious stones that were part of the high priest’s apparel and the building stone (see 4:7, 10) that initiated a major construction project. The seven facets (or “eyes”) indicate the totality of its role as an instrument of God’s vigilance and action. Inscription: can refer both to words engraved on the high priest’s apparel (Ex 28:9, 11) and to words chiseled on a cornerstone.
a. [3:1] Jb 1:6–2:7; 1 Chr 21:1.
e. [3:4] Is 6:7; Jer 31:34; Ez 36:33.
g. [3:9] Zec 4:7, 10; Is 28:16.