AN INTRODUCTION TO THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. by W. O. E. Oesterley, D.D., Litt.D.,& T. H. Robinson, D.D., Litt.D. Hon. D.D. (Aberdeen), Hon. D.Th. (Halle Wittenberg). © W O E Oesterley & T H Robinson 1934. First published SPCK. 1934. - This edition prepared for katapi by Paul Ingram 2003.


HOME | Zechariah and Deutero‑Zechariah | Zechariah and his People | The Night‑Visions | The Hebrew Text and the Septuagint of Zech.i‑viii | Zechariah ix‑xiv | The Hebrew Text and the Septuagint of Zech.ix‑xiv


It is now generally recognised that the two parts of this book, i-viii and ix-xiv, are of different date and authorship. The reasons for this view are briefly as follows:

  1. The historical background of the two portions of the book, respectively, is quite different. That of the former half has already been dealt with. (See pp.400 ff.) That of the latter will be considered in detail below. (See pp.419 ff.) Here it will suffice to notice that the division i-viii belongs quite obviously to the early Persian period. In ix-xiv there is nothing at all that points to this period. It deals with peoples which during the time of Zechariah had no relationship with the Jews; viz. Damascus (ix.1), Tyre and Zidon (ix.2), "Assyria," and Egypt (x.10, 11), and, above all, Greece (ix.13). In i-viii there are no indications of unrest in the land, while in ix-xiv there are constant references to war and tumult (ix.4-6, 8, 13-15; x.3-7; xi.1-3, .1-9; i.7-9; xiv.12-19) (See p.422.)
  2. In i-viii the main subject matter is concerned with the rebuilding of the Temple and the imminent approach of the Messianic Age. In ix-xiv the former is never even hinted at; the one reference to the Messiah is of an utterly different nature (ix.9-12), and the apocalyptic ideas in ch.xiv place us within a mental environment of a character far removed from the Messianic conceptions of Zechariah.
  3. In i-viii prominent leaders are mentioned by name, Zerubbabel and Joshua. But in ix-xiv the leaders are called "shepherds," and they are never named. They are, moreover, of a type as different as possible from Zerubbabel and Joshua.
  4. In i-viii exact dates are given (i.1, 7; vii.1), as well as ascriptions of authorship (i.1, 7; vii.8), and it is definitely stated that Zechariah received the visions (i.7, 8). But in ix-xiv there are no dates, and no name of an author. The only title that occurs is quite indefinite, "the burden of the word of Yahweh" (ix.1; .1). (See the section on the Prophetical Literature, p.232.)
  5. The style and diction of the two parts of the book are strikingly dissimilar. Even in English this is noticeable. In reading the Hebrew this argument for difference of authorship is overwhelming.
  6. Apart from the last point, the most compelling reason against unity of authorship is the difference in religious conceptions between the two parts. This cannot be dealt with in detail here. It must suffice to give one illustration: in i-viii the Messiah is Zerubbabel (iv.6-10, 14); but in ix-xiv the person of the Messiah is thus described:

    "Behold, thy king cometh unto thee; he is just and victorious, lowly, riding upon an ass, even upon the foal of an ass" (ix.9).

Elsewhere in this second part of the book the Messiah is represented as a wholly insignificant figure in the Kingdom of God, which is to come. In xiv.9 it is said:

"And Yahweh shall be King over all the earth; in that day shall Yahweh be one, and his name one."

That is, on the one hand, a theocratic conception quite incompatible with that of an earthly Messianic ruler. On the other, it is a universalistic ideal unimaginable in the mouth of Zechariah.

The question of diversity of authorship will come before us again in dealing with ix-xiv.


Of the personality and life of the prophet we know, apart from his book, nothing.

Unlike Haggai, he was in the true line of the prophets. This is clear from his teaching, as shown, above all, in his visions. But he was a son of the Exile, like Haggai. This may be gathered from the fact that he was a grandson of Iddo (i.1) [In Ezra v.i; vi.14 he is called "the son of Iddo."), who, according to Neh..4 (see also verse 16) was one of the priests who returned from Babylon. The family had, presumably, settled down in the land of Exile. The record of his activity extends from 520-518BC, so that, if we are to be guided by what his book tells us, he never saw the completion of the Temple, in 516BC, which was the main object of his return to Palestine.

His advent among the returned exiles was intensely needed. Towards the end of the Exile great hopes had animated the hearts of the people owing to the stirring words of a brilliant future uttered by Deutero-Isaiah. The return to their native land was looked forward to by the exiles as the beginning of an era of prosperity and well-being. But these expectations came to nothing. Yahweh had not, after all, had mercy on them. They were disillusioned as to the restoration of the kingdom. The Gentiles did not pay them homage. They were still but the remnant of a once prosperous and God-favoured people. Small wonder that they became a prey to gloom and misgiving.

It was, therefore, the duty and aim of Zechariah to rouse and hearten his people, to draw them out of this dejected state, and to reanimate the hopes that had been so cruelly shattered. The condition of the people, social and political, can be pictured by noting the following Points:- It was not a kingdom to which they belonged; they formed but a sparse colony. The thought of what their nation had been but a generation or two ago, contrasted with their present state, filled them with bitterness.

They were not an independent people; their freedom was to some extent, at least, restricted; they had to obey the dictates of a far-off monarch.

They were not a unity; their brethren were scattered in different lands; there was no national cohesion; concerted action, had such been contemplated, was out of the question.

The consciousness of their ineffectiveness was demoralizing. The attempt to start a new national life had been begun under very unfavourable circumstances; they were poverty stricken; they depended, in the main, on agriculture for gaining a living, but the seasons were unpropitious, the crops disappointing, the harvest inadequate.

It was, thus, to a people dejected because of disappointed hopes, embittered because of their political state, dissatisfied because of material wants, and lacking in religious fervour, that Zechariah came.

The message whereby he sought to inspire New Hope in his sorely tried people was embodied in a series of visions; to these we must now turn.


1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th night-vision

These eight "visions" form a unity; the centre of unity is the thought of the Messianic era, now about to begin.

Each vision has something specific to say in regard to this.

But the prophet, in constructing them, has made them pairs; the first and the last (eighth) are not pairs in quite the same way as the middle six; but, as will be seen, they belong together.

The first pair (the second and third visions) declares that the world powers will not be able to hinder the advent of the messianic era, for it is Yahweh Himself who will overcome Israel's enemies and protect them in the Holy City.

The second pair (the fourth and fifth visions) shows that the messianic era has, in essentials, really begun.

The third pair (the sixth and seventh visions) describes the moral preparation of the people for the opening of the messianic era.

The first and eighth form a fitting opening and closing, respectively, of the whole cycle, inasmuch as the first heralds the dawn of the Messianic era, the eighth its imminent beginning.

The date given in i.7 (the 24th day of the 11th month of the 22nd year of Darius = February - March 519 BC) at the head of the visions clearly applies to all of them, otherwise further dates would have prefaced the other visions.

The prophet experienced these visions one after another, and probably, as will be seen, within a very short period of time.

The first night-vision (i.8-17).

The prophet sees in a deep valley a rider on a red horse.

Behind him are dark-red, pink, and white horses. (The precise meaning of the Hebrew word is uncertain, but if the interpretation of the vision given below is correct, pink probably comes nearest to the colour that is meant.)

Riders are not mentioned. Nor is this required, since these horses are symbolic. The riders are taken for granted. They are represented as having been riding to and fro on the earth, and report that there is peace and quiet everywhere. The sign of the coming of the Messianic age (Hag.ii.6, 7), is to be the shaking of the earth, and not quietude. Thus the angel asks Yahweh - for the prophet's information - how long He will refrain from having mercy on Jerusalem, i.e. how long it will be before the Messianic age dawns.

Yahweh replies the He is about to return to Jerusalem, and that the cities of the land shall he prosperous. [It is the "prophetic perfect" which is used here.)

The purpose of the vision is to assure the prophet, and through him the people, that the advent of the Messianic age is close at hand. It is a night-vision ("I saw in the night"), but the rider on the red horse symbolizes the sun, i.e. the bright time that is about to come. The dark-red horse is a symbol of the first stage of the glory, which the prophet sees in his mind's eye; it is the indistinct glimmering in the dark recesses of the valley. The pink horse denotes the brightening of the sun beginning to rise in the east. And the white horse symbolizes the sun in the fullness of its glory.

Similarly, the myrtle trees beginning to shoot forth their buds in newness of life (it is springtime) are a symbol of the coming renovation of the nation. [See Rothstein, Die Nachtgesischte des Sacharja, pp.26 ff. [1910).]

The vision is thus an introduction to the whole series; it presents, in symbolic form, a picture of the coming messianic age, the preparation for which is dealt with in the visions that follow.

The second night-vision (i.18-21 ; Hebr.ii.1-4).

The prophet sees four horns, symbols of strength, they represent the Gentiles in general, comprehended in the Four Corners of the earth. He then sees four smiths, symbols of destruction (cp. Is.liv.16, 17, and Ezek.xxi.31, Hebr, 36), and is told that these have come to destroy the four horns. This destruction of the Gentiles, preparatory to the advent of the Messiah, becomes a prominent element in eschatological drama.

In its origin it is a mythological trait, and came to Judaism, in all probability, through the medium of Persian eschatology. [See Bocklen, Die Verwandschaft des Judusch-christien mit der Parsischen Eschatologie, pp.125 ff. [1902).]

The third night-vision (ii.1 -5; Hebr.ii.5-9).

The prophet sees a man with a measuring-line who is about to measure the extent of Jerusalem in order to see how long and how wide the city is to be. But he is told that Jerusalem will not need to be enclosed with walls because the multitude of men and cattle who will come there will be so great; it must not be circumscribed with walls. This, however, is a subsidiary reason. The real point is, as the prophet goes on to say, that Yahweh will be a wall of fire around the city; for His a vent is imminent, and His glory will appear in the midst of Jerusalem, i.e. in the Temple (cp. Mal.iii.1).

There is a close connexion between this and the preceding vision. For, according to the Jewish eschatological drama, the onslaught of the Gentiles would be directed against Jerusalem, hence the prophet's words about Yahweh forming a wall of fire around it (see ii [iv] Ezra i.9-11). This is to be its protection against the Gentiles.

The actual vision occupies only five verses; what follows in verses 6-13 (Hebr.10-17) contains a group of prophetic utterances, which are not part of the vision. It is to be noted that both in the vision, and in the passage that follows, it the conceptions regarding the age to come, i.e. the Messianic times, differ fundamentally from those in the two visions which follow.

It is evident that Zechariah had been greatly impressed with eschatological traits, during his life in BabyIon, which later became stereotyped in Persian eschatology. It is, otherwise, difficult to understand how he could at one time make Yahweh (God) the central figure of the Messianic age, and at another, the Messiah, in the person of Zerubbabel. He appears to have been at pains to adapt the eschatological ideas he had imbibed in Babylon to the Messianic expectations of his people.

The fourth night-vision (iii.1-10).

In the first three visions the prophet's thoughts were largely centred on Jerusalem. He is now concerned with his people. In this vision he deals with the moral condition of the people in the sight of God. The prophet sees the high priest standing before the angel of Yahweh and being accused by Satan. The latter is, however, dismissed, and the angel of Yahweh commands his servants to take away the filthy garments wherewith the high priest is clothed, and to put on him clean garments, and to place the high-priestly head-dress upon his head. The high priest, Joshua, then receives a promise from Yahweh that if he will walk in His ways he shall rule in the Temple and have access to God. It is further declared that Joshua and his fellows, i.e. the priesthood, are a sign, or pledge, of the near approach of the Messiah. It is noteworthy that the Messiah is spoken of as the "servant" of Yahweh, and is called the Semah, "Branch", or " Sprout". The gem that is to adorn his crown is ready, and Yahweh Himself is about to engrave thereon a fitting inscription. When the Messiah comes, God will obliterate the sins of the people, and there will be peace upon the land.

The meaning of the vision is briefly, as follows:- The high-priest Joshua is the representative of the people. His filthy garments symbolize their pitiable present condition. The clean garments are symbolic of national restoration. Satan is dismissed because his accusation is futile, the people have atoned for their sins through the Exile (cp. Isa.xl.2). The facts that the full functions of the priesthood are about to be re-inaugurated and the Temple worship restored are an earnest of the near advent of the Messiah (cp. Hag.ii.1ff.). The stone for his diadem points to the Messiah's coronation; his name is to be engraved upon it. With the advent of the Messiah will come peace and prosperity, for the people will have become a purified nation.

The fifth night-vision (iv.14a, 10b-4).

This vision is a development of the preceding one. The prophet sees a lamp-stand with seven branches. Each branch bears seven lamps; over each of them is a bowl from which oil is supplied to the lamps. On either side of the lamp-stand is an olive tree. The angel explains to the prophet that the seven lamps represent the eyes of Yahweh - the seven times seven express intensity - and that the two olive trees are the two "sons of oil", i.e. the two anointed ones, the high priest and the Messiah, Joshua and Zerubbabel. (Some scholars regard the mention of the two "sons of oil" as a later addition.)

On the dislocation of the text here see below.

The sixth night-vision (v.1-4).

The prophet sees a great roll of writing being blown by the wind over the land of Judah. Upon it a curse is written, a curse upon the guilty among the people. The roll flies into the dwellings of the wicked, bringing punishment upon them and destroying their houses.

The vision is a symbolical picture of the purging, of the land of sinners preparatory to the advent of the Messiah.

The seventh night-vision (v.5-11).

This vision is closely connected with the preceding one; in that the destruction of individual sinners was symbolized. This one describes the taking away of the principle of evil from the land; again, it is preparatory to the advent of the Messiah. The prophet sees a woman in an ephah - a large dry measure. She is "Sin" personified, having the name of Rish'a ("wickedness"). She is carried away in the ephah by two women who have wings "like the wings of a stork" - their journey is a long one, hence the wings of a stork, which flies for great distances. She is taken to the land of Shinar, synonymous with Babylon, the land of Israel's captivity, and therefore the archenemy. [All scholars do not accept this identification.] The land is thus an appropriate one for the permanent abode of Wickedness.

The eighth night-vision (vi.1-8).

Between this and the first vision there is a certain external similarity, but this must not be unduly pressed, for the function of the differently coloured horses is not the same in the two visions. In the first they are symbolic of the coming glory of the messianic era. Here, attached to chariots, they are Yahweh's instruments of punishment. In the first vision their colours represented phases of the rising sun of glory. Here the colours indicate the four quarters of the compass.

The prophet sees four chariots with differently coloured horses, coming forth from between two mountains. They go towards the four quarters of the earth after having stood before the face of the Lord of the whole earth, i.e. to receive His commands as instruments of the divine wrath against the Gentiles. The chariot with the black horses goes towards the north, i.e. to Babylon. In regard to this it is said:

"Behold, they that go toward the North Country have quieted my spirit in the North Country" (vi.8),

i.e. punishment upon this country has been inflicted by Yahweh's messengers, therefore Hiswrath is appeased. ["Spirit" is here used in the sense of "wrath," as frequently, see, e.g, Judg.viii.3; Isa.xxv.4, xxx,28.]

This vision thus records the final act preparatory to the advent of the Messiah.

What follows the series of night-visions (vi.9-15)is an appendix connected with the fourth one. In iii.8ff it is pointed out that Joshua and the priests are "men of sign". They are a pledge that Yahweh will bring forth the Messiah, and that the stone for the diadem is ready to receive upon it an inscription which Yahweh Himself will inscribe. In this appendix the command is laid upon the prophet to cause a crown to be made out of the gifts from the exiles still in Babylon. No doubt we are intended to understand that the inscribed stone is to be set in the crown, or diadem. In verse 11 it is said that the crown is for Joshua the high priest, but everything has pointed to Zerubbabel, the Messiah, as the one for whom the crown is destined (see also verse 12 and Hag.ii.20-23). The name of Joshua was put in place of Zerubbabel at a later time when the high-priest was the head of the theocratic government.

Chs.vii, viii belong together. In ch.vii, the question is asked whether certain fast-days, hitherto kept, are still to be observed. The prophet replies in the form of prophecies and admonitions in which he gives as a reason why the fast-days should be discontinued the fact that God had not commanded the fathers to keep them. What God did command was justice and righteousness; but His commands were disregarded, and therefore punishment came. In ch.viii the prophet gives a further reason for the abrogation of the fast-days: The Messianic age is about to dawn, therefore fast-days must be turned to festivals.


The somewhat unsatisfactory state of the Hebrew text of these chapters is due not only to the corruptions to which all MSS in the course of transmission are subject (e.g. vii.2), but also, as for example vi.11, to deliberate alteration in the interests of a later religious point of view.

One considerable dislocation of the text, not easily to be accounted for, occurs in ch.iv, where verses 6b-10a should come after verse 14.

There are a number of minor interpolations, which mar the text, e.g. in i.19 (Hebr. ii. 2), v.6, vii.1, 8, 9, viii.13; a few doublets occur, e.g. iv.12, v.11. And in some cases what appears to have been a marginal note is inserted in the text, such as ii.8 (Hebr.ii. 12), iv.12, vi.6, and some others.

These blemishes are not always apparent in the Revised Version.

In many cases the Septuagint gives valuable help where the Hebrew text is obviously corrupt (e.g. ii.3 (Hebr.ii, 7); ii.6 (Hebr.ii.10); iii.4, 5; vi.12; viii.9), but not infrequently the Septuagint presents corruptions found in the Hebrew text itself, e.g. iv.12, v.3, vii.2, and the dislocation of iv.6b-10a.

Upon the whole, the Septuagint is indispensable, but it has not, for these chapters, the same importance as for many others of the Old Testament books.


These chapters contain two small collections (ix-xi and -xiv), each of which, like the book of Malachi, bears the title Massah (i.e. a prophetic "utterance").

In two respects these chapters resemble, in external form, most of our prophetic writings: they consist of a number of independent literary pieces, and they are, for the most part, written in poetic form. It is generally recognized that Zechariah did not write them, but there are considerable differences of opinion as to their date and historical background. It will be necessary to consider each piece separately; but to enter into a detailed argument for the position here taken up in regard to them would occupy too much space; references will be given where the arguments in support of the statements to be made can be found.

ix.1-8 and xi.1-3.

These two pieces may very likely refer to the same event, which is clearly an invasion of Syria, including Phoenicia and Palestine. In ix.1 it is said:

"Oracle. The word of Yahweh concerning the land of Hadrach, and Damascus is its resting-place"

(i.e. it is specially concerned with Damascus); the context goes on to mention a number of places in western Syria to the south of Palestine which fall into the hands of the conqueror. The invasion of Syria is still more clearly referred to in xi.1:

"Open thy doors, O Lebanon ... ".

The context describes the invasion of the land east of Jordan. The "doors" of Lebanon are the fortresses constructed by the Egyptian power in defence of Coele-Syria.

The reference in these two passages is to the invasion of Syria by Antiochus iii; but this monarch invaded Syria twice, in 218BC and 199BC, and one cannot be quite sure as to which of these the passages refer. [See further, Oesterley & Robinson, A History of Israel, ii. Pp.203 ff, 212 ff. (1932).]

ix.9-12 and 13- 17.

These two passages probably belong to the same period, though somewhat later than those just considered. The first of them is a messianic passage in which the Messiah is pictured in a way entirely different from that usually presented. In itself it might have been written by Isaiah, or by a Deutero-Isaiah, but its content does not suggest an historical background of such early periods. It runs:

Behold, thy king cometh unto thee; Just is he and victorious, lowly, And riding upon an ass, even a she-ass's colt.

War has ceased, there is peace among the nations, and the Messiah's dominion is to be worldwide. The Jews, scattered abroad, are to return to the homeland ("the stronghold"). We have here an ideal picture, prompted during a period of peace.

There are reasons justifying our assigning it to the year 164BC, when the victory of Judas Maccabaeus over the Syrian forces marked a turning-point in the Jewish struggle for independence, since by it religious freedom was gained. Owing to the preoccupations of the Syrian forces elsewhere the Jews enjoyed a comparatively long period of peace. The re-dedication of the Temple, after its pollution by Antiochus iv, made possible once more the full celebration of the Temple worship.

The episode is reminiscent of the hopes and rejoicing at the dedication of the Temple after its rebuilding in 516BC (Ezra vi.15ff), just as Haggai and Zechariah had believed that the renovated Temple would herald the approach of the Messiah, so the writer of this passage saw in the re-dedication of the Temple a sign of the coming of the Messiah. Like Zechariah ("Not by an army, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith Yahweh Sebaoth," Zech.iv.6), this Hasid also looked for the conquest of the world by the Messiah by spiritual means ("he shall speak peace unto the nations"). [See further, Oesterley & Robinson, op. cit., ii, pp.243 ff.]

The other passage (ix.13-17), while also belonging to the time of Judas Maccabaeus, is to be dated about a year earlier. That it is of different authorship must be supposed owing to its warlike spirit.

In verse 13 it is said: "I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against the sons of Greece". (Following the, doubtless correct, reading of the Septuagint.) This cannot refer to any period in Jewish history other than the Maccabaean, for the Jews never fought at any other period against the Greeks. It is entirely appropriate that the Syrians should be called "Greeks", both because the Seleucid Empire had formed part of Alexander's eastern dominions, and because the Syrians were whole-heartedly Hellenistic. The passage refers to the beginning of the leadership of Judas Maccabaeus, when the warlike zeal of his followers was roused to fever heat by his victory over Apollonius, the Syrian general. We read in i Macc.iii.12:

"... and Judas took the sword of Apollonius, and therewith he fought all his days."

It is likely enough that this martial spirit leading to victory is reflected in Zech.ix.13:

"I have bent for me Judah as a bow, I have filled it with Ephraim (i.e. Judah is the bow, Ephraim the arrow), I will stir up thy sons, O Zion, against the sons of Greece, and I will make thee as the sword of a mighty man"  

- the last words are possibly an allusion In this connexion the words of verses 14, 15 are also full of significance:

"And Yahweh shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning, and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet with the whirlwinds of the south. Yahweh Sebaoth shall defend them, and they shall prevail, and shall tread down the slingers; and they shall drink their blood (Sept.) like wine, and they shall be filled like the bowls-like the horns of the altar."

The picture in the mind of the writer expressed by these last words was that of the blood of the sacrifices splashed upon the altar.

The somewhat bloodthirsty spirit displayed can be understood when one reads such passages in i Mace.i.20-28, 54-64, ii.38, and remembers the unrestrained fury which religious persecution will prompt. (See further, Oesterley & Robinson, op. cit., ii. Pp.242 ff.)


Of this fragment there is little to be said. It has nothing to do with what precedes or follows; it is difficult to account for its presence.


There are a number of indications in this passage which suggest that it was written towards the end of the high-priesthood of Jonathan, the brother of Judas Maccabaeus.

With the victories of Jonathan it looked as though the Maccabaean struggle had reached a triumphant conclusion. In verse 4 the "corner stone", the "nail", and the "battle bow" may well refer respectively to the three Maccabaean leaders, Simon, Judas, and Jonathan. In the words of verse 6,

"And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph . . . "

and of verse 10, the writer expresses the conviction that final victory and the return of all Israel from the Dispersion is about to take place. Tyre and Gebal, the great sea-ports, and Syria and Egypt shall all be done away with. In conformity with his love of figurative expression he uses "Assyria" for Syria, as in Isa.xxvii.13, Mic.v.5f. (Hebr.4f), and Egypt is the Ptolemaic empire. [See further, Oesterley & Robinson, op. cit., ii. P.259.]

xi.4-17 and xiii.7-9.

As many commentators recognize, these two passages belong together; the latter has been misplaced and should come immediately after xi.17. [We note, however, that in form xi.4-16 belongs to type C (see page 229), while the remainder is of the usual oracular type.]

Their full significance can be grasped only in the light of the internal conditions of Judea during the period of the Maccabaean struggle; with these we cannot deal here. It must suffice to say that two deplorable factors brought shame and suffering on the people during a considerable part of this period - we are referring to internal conditions. One was the buying and selling of the high priesthood. The other was the internecine strife between the hellenistic and orthodox Jews. The "shepherds" spoken of in these passages are the high priests Jason, Menelaus, and especially Alkimus. In xi.8 it is said that these three shepherds are to be cut off "in one month". This is meant to be taken figuratively, "within a short period", which we know from i Mace, and Josephus to have been the case. All three, and especially Alkimus, were guilty of leaving the flock (verse 17) both in the literal sense as well as in the sense of neglecting their charge. It is in reference to Alkimus that the words of this verse are spoken:

"The sword (used figuratively for 'destruction') shall be against his arm and against his right eye; his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened".

This description of a paralytic stroke agrees with what is said in i Mace.ix.55, 56:

"At that time was Alkimus stricken, and his works were hindered, and his mouth stopped, and he was taken with a palsy (pareluthe) ..."

Then with regard to the conflict between hellenistic and orthodox Jews, this centred, in the first instance, in an antagonism between Jerusalem and Judah, and is referred to specially in xi.7-11. The two "staves" called "Beauty" and "Bands", but more correctly "Pleasantness" and "Union", are used figuratively of Judah and Jerusalem. Both the staves are broken to indicate that the brotherhood that should naturally exist between the Jerusalem Jews and those of the rest of Judah was severed. This was bitterness to a true Jew such as the writer of this passage, and verse 9 reflects his feeling of irritation at the existence of such an unnatural animosity between brethren. These sections are thus the reflections of one who stood aloof from the turmoil of the times, but who was impelled to record what he felt.

They are important as witnessing to the internal affairs of the Jews during the middle of the second century BC, of which we have evidence in extra-Biblical sources. (See further, Oesterley & Robinson, op. cit., ii. Pp.258 ff.]

xii, xiii.1-6.

These difficult passages in which eschatological thought is attached to current historical events - a common trait in Jewish eschatology - has clearly been influenced by some parts of the book of Ezekiel.

The eschatological portion is contained in .1-9. An historical event lies behind .10-14. And in i.1-6 the conditions that will obtain in the Messianic age are contrasted with those of the present time, the two subjects referred to being idolatry and the prophetical order, which had fallen into decay.

It is the second of these passages (.10-14) which is the most difficult to understand on account of its cryptic references; and the difficulty is increased by a number of corruptions in the Hebrew text.

The following brief explanation is taken from the volume already referred to more than once. To it recourse must be had for further details: the reference in the passage is to the death of Simon the Maccabee and to the mourning for him. [Oesterley & Robinson, op. cit., ii. pp.267-271.]

Verses I 0, 11 contain two corruptions in the Hebrew text; emended, we may read them thus:

"And I will pour upon the house of David the spirit of deep emotion and of supplication, [The future form is somewhat misleading, it is a statement of actual facts which is recorded.] and they shall contemplate him (i.e. Simon) whom they (i.e. his murderers) have pierced; [See I Macc.xvi.14-17.] and they (i.e. the Jews) shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only son. ... In that day there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem, like the mourning of women lamenting Tammuz-Adon." [See Ezek.viii.14; the "weeping for Tammuz" was always enacted by women.]

In the description of the mourning that takes place (verses 12-4), the first point to note is the strict separation of the sexes, a definite mark of a very late period. There is, further, much significance in the order of the mourning families enumerated. "The family of the house of David" comes first, in reference to the ruling family, i.e. the high-priestly house, of which John, the son of the murdered Simon, was now the head. Then "the family of the house of Jonathan." [The text has "Nathan" by mistake.] This would naturally be mentioned next as being nearest of kin to the new high priest. "The family of the house of Levi" is in reference to the priesthood. And lastly: "the family of the Simonites," - the more distant relatives of Simon. ["Shimeites" is again a textual error.]

Thus interpreted the passage is full of meaning.


This is an apocalyptic section dealing with the final safety and glory of Jerusalem in the last times.

In verses 1-5 it is told of how Yahweh will come and save Jerusalem from all the nations who gather against the city.

Verses 7, 8 speak of the light of the presence of Yahweh, so that there will be no difference between day and night. Then in verses 8-11 there is the promise of living waters proceeding from Jerusalem east and west, and Yahweh alone will reign over all the earth.

In verses 12-19 the apocalyptist tells of the punishment of all who fought against Jerusalem, and of those who will not come to Jerusalem to worship Yahweh.

Finally, verses 20, 21 speak of the sanctification of Jerusalem and Judah in that day.

The writer is strongly nationalistic; and he offers some of the bizarre pictures characteristic of the later apocalyptic writings.


The Hebrew text of this part of the book has, like the earlier part, suffered considerably. The corruptions in a number of instances are small, but nevertheless they often spoil the meaning of a text, and must be emended.

In other cases they are more serious.

The text is at fault in the following passages (they do not profess to be exhaustive): ix.8, 15, 16, 17; x.2, 5, 9, 12; xi.2, 7, 8, 13, 14, 16; .1, 5) 10; xiv.5, 6, 1 0, 12.

Dislocations of the text occur in i.7-9, which belongs after xi.17; and xiv.13, 14 is a passage that is clearly out of place.

Glosses are inserted in xi.6 and xiv.2.

In numerous instances the Septuagint witnesses to a better form of the Hebrew text, e.g. ix.2, 5, 10, 13, 15; x.9, 11, 12; xi.5, 16; .2, 5, 8, 13; i.7, 9; xiv.5, 6, 18.

Sometimes it is only a word, which is in question, but it makes all the difference to the sense of a passage; so that the study of the Septuagint text cannot be ignored.