Fourth Vision: The Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees. 1Then the angel who spoke with me returned and aroused me, like one awakened from sleep. 2He said to me, “What do you see?” I replied, “I see a lampstand* all of gold,a with a bowl on top of it. There are seven lamps on it, with seven spouts on each of the lamps that are on top of it. 3And beside it are two olive trees,* one on the right of the bowl and one to its left.” 4Then I said to the angel who spoke with me, “What are these things, my lord?” 5And the angel who spoke with me replied, “Do you not know what these things are?” I said, “No, my lord.”
An Oracle. 6Then he said to me: “This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, and not by power, but by my spirit,* b says the LORD of hosts. 7Who are you, O great mountain?* Before Zerubbabel you become a plain. He will bring forth the first stone amid shouts of ‘Favor, favor be upon it!’”
8Then the word of the LORD came to me: 9The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundations of this house, and his hands will finish it. Thus you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. 10For whoever has scorned such a day of small things will rejoice to see the capstone* in the hand of Zerubbabel.
Resumption of the Vision: Explanation of Lamps and Trees. “These seven are the eyes of the LORD that range over the whole earth.”c 11I then asked him, “What are these two olive trees, on the right of the lampstand and on its left?” 12A second time I asked, “What are the two streams from the olive trees that pour out golden oil through two taps of gold?” 13He said to me, “Do you not know what these are?” I answered, “No, my lord.” 14Then he said, “These are the two anointed ones* who stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”d
* [4:2] Lampstand: receptacle for lamps and one of the furnishings of the main room of the Temple. This visionary object does not correspond to the biblical descriptions of the menorah in either the tabernacle (Ex 25:31–40) or the Solomonic Temple (1 Kgs 7:49) but rather has properties of both. Seven lamps…seven spouts: seven lamps, each with seven pinched wick holes. Such objects were part of the repertoire of cultic vessels throughout the Old Testament period. Here they symbolize God’s eyes, i.e., divine omniscience; see v. 10.
* [4:3] Olive trees: visionary image that picks up the botanical language describing the Israelite cultic lampstands, with the olive trees specifically connoting fertility, permanence, and righteousness.
* [4:6] Not by might…my spirit: one of the most quoted verses from the Old Testament, particularly in Jewish tradition, which connects it with the theme of Hanukkah, sometimes called the Festival of Lights.
* [4:7] Great mountain: part of symbolic imagery for the Temple on Mount Zion, as embodiment of the cosmic mountain where heaven and earth connect. Plain: leveled ground serving as the foundation area for the construction of the Temple, and symbolizing the foundation of the cosmos. First stone: foundation stone of a major public building. Such stones were laid with great ceremony in foundation rituals when monumental buildings were newly built or rebuilt in the biblical world.
* [4:10] Capstone: topmost stone of a structure, which finishes the construction. This translation is based on the context. Other translations read: “stone of distinction,” “plummet,” “tin-stone.”
* [4:14] Two anointed ones: two leadership positions in the ideal restored nation. The concept of a state headed by both priestly and political leaders harks back to premonarchic traditions (Aaron and Moses) and finds an echo in the two messianic figures—a Davidic and a levitical messiah—in the Dead Sea Scrolls and in apocryphal literature. See also the two crowns of 6:11–14.