Another oracle about the past fasting (Zech 7:4-7:7)

“Then the word

Of Yahweh of hosts

Came to me.

‘Say to all the people

Of the land

As well as the priests.

‘When you fasted,

When you lamented,

In the fifth month

As well as the seventh month,

For these seventy years,

Was it for me

That you fasted?

When you eat.

When you drink,

Do you not eat

Only for yourselves?

Do you not drink

Only for yourselves?

Were not these the words

That Yahweh proclaimed

By the former prophets?

This was when

Jerusalem was inhabited

In prosperity.

Was this not when

The towns around it

Were inhabited?

Was this not when

The Negeb

With the Shephelah

Were inhabited?’”

Yahweh sent another oracle to Zechariah about the fasting and lamenting that they had done for the past 70 years during the 5th and 7th months because of the destruction of the Jerusalem Temple in 587 BCE and the murder of their governor.  Zechariah was to ask the people of the land and the priests why they had fasted.  Why did they not eat or drink?  Did they do if for themselves or for Yahweh?  Yahweh had warned them, via the prophets, when Jerusalem was prosperous and inhabited.  The towns around Jerusalem, as well as desert Negeb and the low land Shephelah were inhabited at that time also.

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Should they continue to mourn (Zech 7:2-7:3)

“Now the people of Bethel

Had sent Sharezer

And Regem-melech,

With their men,

To entreat

The favor of Yahweh.

They were to

Ask the priests

Of the house of Yahweh of hosts,

With the prophets,

‘Should I mourn?

Should I practice abstinence

In the fifth month,

As I have done

For so many years?’”

The people of Bethel, from the old northern kingdom of Israel sent a couple of representatives to Jerusalem.  The two men were Sharezer and Regem-melech, both with Assyrian sounding names.  They had come to Jerusalem to find favor with Yahweh.  Thus, they went to his priests and prophets.  They wanted to know if they still had to mourn and abstain in the 5th month of the year as they had done for many years.  Apparently, the 5th month was when the Jerusalem Temple was destroyed in 587 BCE.  Was the time of mourning for the old Temple over?

A new oracle (Zech 7:1-7:1)

“In the fourth year

Of King Darius,

The word of Yahweh

Came to Zechariah,

On the fourth day

Of the ninth month,

Which is Chislev.”

There is another oracle of Yahweh to Zechariah but it is 2 years later in 518 BCE, the 4th year of the reign of King Darius of Persia.  This time it was on the 4th day of the month of Chislev, the 9th month.

The new age (Zech 6:15-6:15)

“Those who are far off

Shall come.

They will help build

The temple of Yahweh.

You shall know

That Yahweh of hosts

Has sent me to you.

This will happen

If you diligently obey

The voice of Yahweh

Your God.”

“Those who are far off

Shall come.

They will help build

The temple of Yahweh.

You shall know

That Yahweh of hosts

Has sent me to you.

This will happen

If you diligently obey

The voice of Yahweh

Your God.”

Zechariah indicated that various people from far off places would return to help build the Temple of Yahweh.  They would realize that Yahweh had sent him.  All this new age would happen if they diligently obeyed the voice of Yahweh, their God.

The remembrance (Zech 6:14-6:14)

“The crown

Shall be in the care

Of Heldai,

Tobijah,

Jedaiah,

With Josiah,

The son of Zephaniah,

As a memorial

In the Temple of Yahweh.”

Those returning captives mentioned earlier, Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah, and Josiah were to take care of this crown.  It would be in the Temple of Yahweh as a reminder or memorial of their former captivity.

The crown (Zech 6:11-6:13)

“Take the silver!

Take the gold!

Make a crown!

Set it upon the head

Of the high priest Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak!

Say to him!

‘Thus says Yahweh of hosts.

Here is a man whose name

Is the Branch.

He shall branch out

In his place.

He shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

It is he who shall build

The temple of Yahweh.

He shall bear royal honor.

He shall sit

Upon his throne,

Where he shall rule.

There shall be a priest

By his throne,

With peaceful understanding

Between the two of them.’”

Yahweh wanted the prophet Zechariah to take the gold and silver that the former exile captives had given him and make a crown out it.  He was to set this crown on the head of the high priest Joshua, the son of Jehozadak.  Perhaps this is a mistake and maybe it should be Governor Zerubbabel, since this ruler ends up with a priest by his side.  This newly crowned person would be the branch that would spread out.  He was the one who was going to build the temple of Yahweh.  Thus, he would have a royal honor and sit on a throne ruling the people.  However, they were still under Persian jurisdiction.  Both the priest and this new ruler would get along peacefully.

The chosen ones (Zech 6:9-6:10)

“The word of Yahweh

Came to me.

‘Collect silver!

Collect gold

From the exiles

Heldai,

Tobijah,

Jedaiah!

They have arrived

From Babylon.

Go the same day

To the house of Josiah,

The son of Zephaniah.”

Yahweh spoke to Zechariah again.  He told him to collect silver and gold from the exiles that had returned from Babylon.  There are 3 people named here who were exiles from the captivity, Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah.  However, we know nothing about them, since they only appear in this work without any kind of titles.  Apparently, they were rich.  Zechariah was also to go to Josiah, the son of Zephaniah.