Zechariah, Chapter 1 (from Chabad.org English translation of the entire Tanach with Rashi’s commentary. This Tanakh translation has been completely revised with a modern translation of the Hebrew of the Jewish Bible to English begun in 1955 and copyrighted in 1985 by the Jewish Publication Society. I have used the JPS Tanakh for the verses without changing the commentary of Rashi. There are minor differences in the words he comments on in some of the verses).
The prophecy: of Zechariah is extremely enigmatic, because it contains visions resembling a dream that requires an interpretation. We cannot ascertain the truth of its interpretation until the teacher of righteousness comes. Nonetheless, I will put my heart to reconciling the verses, one by one, according to the interpretations that resemble it and following the interpretation of Jonathan.
I am the teacher of righteousness of Isaiah 53 that Rashi mentions. Rashi, who interprets Isaiah 53 to be the servant Israel as one man recognized at this time of interpreting Zechariah that Isaiah 53 described a particular man. What he did not know is that Isaiah 53 not only describes G-d’s righteous servant who makes the many righteous by his knowledge it describes Elijah of Malachi 3 and cannot be the servant Israel. Rashi is known for his inconsistencies in his interpretations.
Dreams and visions in the scripture are of very limited use for prophecy. It is difficult enough when spoken directly by the L-rd and indirectly by the word of the L-rd. Dreams and visions have to be interpreted in view of the prophet, when and where he lived, his audience and the purposes G-d may have had outside of prophecy.
1In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, this word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo:
In the eighth month: Before they commenced resuming the work of the construction, for they commenced it on the twenty-fourth day of the [ninth] month.
the second year of Darius:
Darius the Mede is mentioned in the Book of Daniel as king of Babylon between Belshazzar and Cyrus the Great, but he is not known to history, and no additional king can be placed between the known figures of Belshazzar and Cyrus.Most scholars view him as a literary fiction, but conservatives seeking to harmonise Daniel with history have put forward several theories, the most common being that he is identical with either Cyrus or with Ugbaru, the general who was first to enter Babylon when it fell to the Persians in 539 BCE. The Medes came to prominence in 612 BCE when they joined with the Babylonians in overthrowing Assyria. From Wikipedia (excerpt)
word of the Lord: When G-d does not speak to the prophet directly He sends the messenger of His words who is the person of the spirit of the Holy G-d and the angel of His Presence to deliver them.
2The Lord was very angry with your fathers.
with your fathers: who were in the generation of the destruction of the Temple.
with your fathers: All of the twelve tribes and the Levites.
3Say to them further: Thus said the Lord of Hosts: Turn back to me—says the Lord of Hosts—and I will turn back to you—said the Lord of Hosts. 4Do not be like your fathers! For when the earlier prophets called to them, “Thus said the Lord of Hosts: Come, turn back from your evil ways and your evil deeds, they did not obey or give heed to Me—declares the Lord. 5Where are your fathers now? And did the prophets live forever?
[As for] your fathers – where are they?: See that they suffered an evil blow, with famine, with the sword, and with pestilence.
But the prophets – do they live forever?: And if you ask, “the prophets, too where are they? Have they not died?” I [God] will answer you, “Should the prophets have lived forever?” But their end proves that their words were true; for all My words, and the declarations of the decrees of My retribution that I commanded My servants, the prophets, concerning you – did they not overtake your fathers?
Keith: No commentary.
6But the warnings and the decrees with which I charged My servants the prophets overtook your fathers—did they not?—and in the end they had to admit, ‘The Lord has dealt with us according to our ways and our deeds, just as He purposed.’”
7On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month of the second year of Darius—the month of Shebat—this word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo:
Rashi: No comment.
Keith: this word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berechiah son of Iddo: This verse continues with “8In the night, I had a vision” which is not a word of the L-rd. The word of the L-rd coming to Zechariah means the messenger of the words of G-d has come to Zechariah who is the person of the spirit of the Holy G-d. He has alighted upon Zechariah to bring a vision from G-d.
8In the night, I had a vision. I saw a man, mounted on a bay horse, standing among the myrtles in the Deep, and behind him were bay, sorrel, and white horses.
I saw tonight: Our Sages explained [this phrase as] they explained [it] in the Aggadah of the chapter entitled “ Helek ” (Sanh. 93a), but the sequence of the chapter and the language do not fit it.
and behold! A man: an angel.
on a red horse: This is an allusion that He would exact retribution upon the Chaldeans, Media, and Persia with the sword and with blood, as He says (verse 15 below): “And I was very wroth with the nations.”
and after him were red, etc., horses: prepared for the mission of the Omnipresent. That there were among them [horses of] many sorts of colors was a [means of] praise for him.
black: do not know what color this is. Jonathan rendered קְוָחִין.
among the myrtles that were in the pool: Among the myrtle trees of Babylon.
In the night, I had a vision: There is a man on a horse standing in the myrtles. He is later referred to as the the angel of the L-rd standing in the myrtles. The angel of the L-rd is the person of the spirit of the Holy G-d. He alights upon and enters men and and My Name (G-d) is in him and can speak through him to the man.
Zechariah has an angel with him who is his guide in the vision. The Deep is like a valley Zechariah is looking down on filled with myrtle trees and then an open area below that where the bay, sorrel and red horses are.
9I asked, “What are those, my lord?” And the angel who talked with me answered, “I will let you know what they are.”
And I said: to one angel who showed me all this.
“What are these, my lord?”: He was the one riding on the red horse.
What are those, my lord?: Zechariah is asking the L-rd about the horses in the open area to the man standing in the myrtles (on a bay horse). This man is a host of the L-rd of Hosts. A host is a man and divine beings like the man who wrestled with Jacob all night and the captain of the L-rd’s Host in the Torah. The divine beings are the person of the spirit of the Holy G-d and My Name (G-d) is in him.
10Then the man who was standing among the myrtles spoke up and said, “These were sent out by the Lord to roam the earth.”
to walk to and fro on the earth: To see the tranquility of the nations.
Then the man who was standing among the myrtles spoke up and said: The man standing in the myrtles answers the question of Zechariah to the L-rd.
“These were sent out by the Lord to roam the earth.”: The angel of the L-rd is the person of the spirit of the Holy G-d. He alights upon and enters men and My Name (G-d) is in him. The man is given the answer of the L-rd by the word of the L-rd through the person of His spirit.
11And in fact, they reported to the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtles, “We have roamed the earth, and have found all the earth dwelling in tranquility.”
Rashi: no commentary.
they reported to the angel of the Lord: They who reported are the horses who have gone to and fro throughout the earth and they spoke the report to the angel of the Lord. The horses speaking that all is tranquil means a vast area was covered so horses are used instead of men. It could have been a flock of birds in the myrtles but G-d chose horses.
who was standing among the myrtles: The angel of the L-rd who was standing among the myrtles is the man standing among the myrtles with the angel of the L-rd within him. The angel of the L-rd is using this man as his visible presence. Just as he once used a burning bush and G-d spoke through him to Moses.
12Thereupon the angel of the Lord exclaimed, “O Lord of Hosts! How long will You withhold pardon from Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, which You placed under a curse seventy years ago?”
And the angel of the Lord replied: The angel that was speaking to me.
Thereupon the angel of the Lord exclaimed: Through the man standing among the myrtles. The man spoke the words the angel of the L-rd spoke to him.
O Lord of Hosts! How long will You withhold pardon from Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, which You placed under a curse seventy years ago: The following verses are from the Book of Isaiah written before the deportation of Judah and Benjamin and Isaiah witnessed the deportation of the northern Kingdom.
“So I profaned the holy princes; I abandoned Jacob to proscription And Israel to mockery.” (Isaiah 43/28). The profaning of the holy princes is G-d’s prophecy of the banishment of King Jeconia and all of his offspring from ever ruling over Judah in Jerusalem again. The line of the Kings of Judah ended. And it is G-d’s prophecy that the northern Kingdom and the southern Kingdom of the Israelites would be deported from the promised land for their sinful ways.
“Thus said the Lord, Your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: For your sake I send to Babylon; I will bring down all [her] bars, And the Chaldeans shall raise their voice in lamentation.” (Isaiah 43/14). This is G-d’s prophecy that Assyria would be conquered by the Chaldeans and Babylonians and that He would raise up the gentile HaMoshiach Cyrus of Persia to conquer them to clear the way for all of the tribes to return.
“Fear not, for I am with you: I will bring your folk from the East, Will gather you out of the West; I will say to the North, “Give back!” And to the South, “Do not withhold! Bring My sons from afar, And My daughters from the end of the earth—All who are linked to My name, whom I have created, Formed, and made for My glory—” (Isaiah 43/5-7). This is G-d’s prophecy that all of the tribes of Israel would return from the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations and exiles.
“It is I, I who—for My own sake—Wipe your transgressions away And remember your sins no more.” (Isaiah 43/25). And this is G-d doing “something new” for the Israelites.
This story re-runs with the “new covenant” of sin forgiveness of the Jewish people that arrives with Elijah and the angel of that covenant after the exiles of the Roman dispersal return to the land of Israel to rebuild the third Temple that G-d will return to “quickly”.
The report was that all of the earth was dwelling in tranquility from the horses, Zechariah is in Jerusalem and the construction on the second Temple is about to begin, Isaiah has written G-d’s words of sin forgiveness which would remove the “curse” many years before this and the angel of the L-rd proclaims “O Lord of Hosts! How long will You withhold pardon from Jerusalem and the towns of Judah, which You placed under a curse seventy years ago.”
This is an example of a vision with several purposes but of no prophetic value today. The scroll of Isaiah needs to be found and interpreted by Zechariah and the religious leaders so they will know of G-d’s forgiveness of their sins. The Books of Nehemiah and Ezra that give accounts of the return of all twelve tribes and the Levites and the building of the second Temple never mention G-d’s forgiveness of their sins.
For me the vision was used by G-d to provide a scenario in the scripture where I could teach others of the importance of the person of the spirit of G-d in His use of men as hosts of the L-rd of Hosts and how He and the person of His spirit can speak through a man. That these men of the Bible are not angels they are hosts of divine beings. And examples of My Name (G-d) being in angels.
I am a host of the L-rd of Hosts and that is not an easy thing to explain or to be believed by others. This vision and my ability to interpret its meaning for my teaching about hosts of the G-d of Hosts with the Sage Rashi completely unaware that the man standing in the myrtles is a host and not an angel is a sign from G-d of me and the truth of my words: Dreams and visions have to be interpreted in view of the prophet, when and where he lived, his audience and the purposes G-d may have had outside of prophecy.
13The Lord replied with kind, comforting words to the angel who talked with me.
And the Lord answered the angel who was speaking to me, good words: Not that the prophet heard what He answered [the angel], but from what the angel said to him, “Proclaim, saying, ‘I am jealous etc.,’” I know that He answered him good words.
The Lord replied: To the angel guide of Zechariah.
with kind, comforting words to the angel who talked with me: Words in response to when will the Lord pardon the exiles and allow their return to Jerusalem.
14Then the angel who talked with me said to me: “Proclaim! Thus said the Lord of Hosts: I am very jealous for Jerusalem—for Zion—
I am jealous for Jerusalem: I am exacting the retribution [for] the cause of Jerusalem from those who oppress her.
Then the angel who talked with me said to me: “Proclaim! Thus said the Lord of Hosts: My Name (G-d) is in all angels and spoke to him “I am very jealous for Jerusalem—for Zion—” and told the angel guide how to announce His words.
15and I am very angry with those nations that are at ease; for I was only angry a little, but they overdid the punishment.
that are at ease: Concerning whom these [messengers] say that they sit still and are at rest.
for I was wroth: with My people, a little.
and they helped to do harm: In addition to the wrath, [they helped] to do harm.
Keith: No Commentary.
16Assuredly, thus said the Lord: I graciously return to Jerusalem. My House shall be built in her—declares the Lord of Hosts—the measuring line is being applied to Jerusalem.
and a plumb line shall be stretched out: to measure its wall, its length and breadth.
Keith: No commentary.
17Proclaim further: Thus said the Lord of Hosts: My towns shall yet overflow with bounty. For the Lord will again comfort Zion; He will choose Jerusalem again.”
After World War II, the Jewish Publication Society began to consider a new edition of the Bible and the concept of a completely new translation gradually took hold and the task was begun in 1955 and published in 1985 directly from the original Hebrew text, the Leningrad Codex. The Leningrad Codex is the oldest complete edition of the Hebrew Bible in existence. It dates to around 1008-1010 A.D. However, the Leningrad Codex, although complete, is not the best quality Hebrew manuscript. Although carefully hand-written, it was corrected against the Aleppo Codex – and the Aleppo Codex remains the best quality manuscript. The Leningrad Codex is so reliable that it is the Hebrew text from which nearly all modern translations have been translated.
The translation of Isaiah 52 and 53 by Artscroll and Rashi’s commentary can be found online at Chabad.Org. They are identical. Chabad says their Tanakh is the “English translation of the entire Tanakh (Tanach) with Rashi’s commentary. This Hebrew Bible was edited by esteemed translator and scholar, Rabbi A.J. Rosenberg.”
I have been unable to find the source of the Artscroll translation. It is not directly from the Leningrad Codex or the Aleppo Codex. It is not from the Greek translation called the Septuagint later translated to English that is the source of the Christian Holy Bible. However, with the translation of Artscroll and Chabad, like the Christian Bible, two of the most important parts of the verse ten translation changes the meaning and purpose of this passage.
The primary purpose is to make certain that the animal sacrificial and atonement Laws of Leviticus cannot be used for the man described. It is the only reason God would crush a man with disease to make him be His servant. You cannot offer a blemished animal. First, no man will refuse God. Second, God does not need a man’s permission to make him a servant. He is God. In the book of Ezekiel God seized him and made him suitable for the purpose of being a prophet to the Assyria/Babylon exiles, making his forehead like flint (adament) and calming the fury of His spirit.
The translation of Artscroll, the Holy Bible (KJV), and the translation used by Jews for Judaism change the meaning of the verse with “if his soul makes itself restitution”, “when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin”, and “if his soul would acknowledge guilt”, respectively.
Rashi’s commentary says Israel is God’s righteous servant. That cannot be. He is one of the people Israel. When did his soul make restitution along with every other Jew in the world? When did the Jewish people as one man become righteous? The Christians are to make the soul of Jesus an offering for sin. How is accepting Jesus as your Lord and savior an offering of his soul for your sin. Does Jesus die again every time a gentile believes in him?
Jews for Judaism in their commentary in “Jews For Judaism: Isaiah 53 Verse by Verse”: says that “In order for the suffering to accomplish its purpose the servant needs to acknowledge and to recognize his own guilt.” What Jews for Judaism does not tell us is when this happened. Or how it will happen. When will all the Jews of the world collectively acknowledge their guilt? Why do they need to? In the day of the Lord the new covenant with forgiveness of the iniquities and sin of all the Jewish people arrives with Elijah as the messenger.
The purpose and meaning of Isaiah 53 is completely changed if it is not fulfilled by a particular man in the day of the Lord by making himself an offering for guilt without any reference or association to the animal atonement and worship laws of Leviticus for the forgiveness of sin or guilt, with the sacrifice of an unblemished lamb (Jesus) or unblemished rams (the six million Jews murdered in the Holocaust) according to Rabbi Tovia Singer of Outreach Judaism.
The translation of the Hebrew Bible by the Jewish Publication Society with learned academic professors selected for the task, who spent 30 years of their lives creating a completely new translation of the Hebrew, is the most current and best translation of the Hebrew Bible to English available today. My commentary on Isaiah 53/10 is based on their translation:
But the Lord chose to crush him by disease, That, if he made himself an offering for guilt, He might see offspring and have long life, And that through him the Lord’s purpose might prosper. Isaiah 53/10 (Jewish Publication Society, 1985)
Rashi and His Commentary on Isaiah 52 and Isaiah 53