Study Guide

The Twelve Minor Prophets Zechariah Chapters 4-6

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Zechariah Chapters 4-6

Curiouser and Curiouser

  • More visions, including such symbolic objects as seven burning candles, four flying chariots, four animal horns, three women, two olive trees and one flying scroll. Alas, no maidens milking, lords a-leaping or golden rings.
  • God announces what it all means: "This is the word of the LORD to Zerubbabel: Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, says the LORD of hosts.”(NRSV 4:6)
  • The flying scroll and the four animal horns speak to God’s pronouncement of doom on the nations that have made the lives of God’s people miserable. Since there aren’t any planes pulling ads and marriage proposals in the skies of ancient Jerusalem, a flying scroll really pops.
  • The four flying chariots represent God’s power over the nations, not to mention his commitment to expand the speedy food delivery service launched in the Habakkuk apocrypha.
  • 2 girls, 1 jar: a couple of women with stork wings carry off a jar of wickedness that contains a statue of a third woman. (5:5-11) This is most likely an idol of a goddess named Asherah, who appears to have been worshipped as Yahweh’s wife—Asherah is an anagram of the Hebrew word for wickedness.
  • After the jar with Asherah is left standing on a pedestal in a Babylonian temple, a flying scroll returns with the message, “Does this mean it’s over?”
  • The candlestand refers to the restoration of the temple, but that’s not all. Zechariah says that the two olive trees refer to the high priest and Zerubabbel, whose new power after the return from exile more than makes up for the way kids at school used to make fun of his name.
  • The candlestand and olive trees vision is generally taken to mean that Zechariah is anointing these two offices to be the community’s powers that be. Why? Judah is now under the authority of the Persian Empire, so picking a new king isn’t really an option. Historically Zechariah is a prequel to 300, except the Jews’ response to Persian rule is to roll with it.
  • To help the high priest in following divine law and temple law, God says he will bring forth “my servant the branch” to rebuild his temple. Christians interpret this to be a prophecy of the coming of Christ, but other commentators see this as a reference to Jimmy “the Branch” Zerubabbel, the governor of Judah and the high priest’s partner in getting the people to join together under—you guessed it—a fig tree.

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