Prophecy of Zechariah (Mt 21:4-21:5)

“This took place

To fulfill

What had been spoken

Through the prophet.

Saying.

‘Tell the daughter of Zion!

Look!

Your king is coming

To you,

Humble,

Mounted on a donkey,

And on a colt,

The foal of a donkey.’”

 

Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος

Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι πραῢς καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου.

 

This is unique to Matthew.  Jesus said that this activity took place (Τοῦτο δὲ γέγονεν) to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet (ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος).  Although not named, this prophet was Zechariah, chapter 9:9, one of the 12 minor prophets that lived in the 6th century BCE under Persian rule.  This prophet had said to tell the daughter of Zion (Εἴπατε τῇ θυγατρὶ Σιών) to look for their king coming to them (Ἰδοὺ ὁ Βασιλεύς σου ἔρχεταί σοι).  He would be humble, mild, or gentle (πραῢς), but mounted on a donkey (καὶ ἐπιβεβηκὼς ἐπὶ ὄνον) and a colt, that was the foal or son of a donkey (καὶ ἐπὶ πῶλον υἱὸν ὑποζυγίου).  This was an actual misreading of the prophet, since Zechariah had spoken of a young colt donkey, who had been the foal of a donkey, not two separate animals.  Matthew used this passage to show how Jesus was the expected Israelite king.  He was to be the prince of peace.  Originally, Yahweh wanted Zion or Jerusalem to shout and rejoice, because their new king was coming.  He would be triumphant, victorious, and humble at the same time, but riding on a young donkey colt.  Matthew’s intention was clear.  Jesus was the expected messiah king.

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The new victorious king (Zech 9:9-9:10)

“Rejoice greatly!

O daughter Zion!

Shout aloud!

O daughter Jerusalem!

Look!

Your king comes to you!

He is triumphant!

He is victorious!

He is humble!

He is riding on a donkey.

He is riding on a colt,

The foal of a donkey.

I will cut off the chariot

From Ephraim.

I will cut off the war horse

From Jerusalem.

The battle bows

Shall be cut off.

He shall command peace

To the nations.

His dominion shall be

From sea to sea,

From the River

To the ends of the earth.”

This is a text that both the gospels of John, chapter 12, and Matthew, chapter 21, used to show how Jesus was the expected Israelite king.  He was to be the prince of peace.  Yahweh wanted Zion or Jerusalem to shout and rejoice, because a new king was coming who would be triumphant, victorious, and humble at the same time.  Thus, he would ride on a donkey colt.  The mention of cutting off Ephraim was an indication of the old northern kingdom of Israel, while the mention of Jerusalem is a reference to the kingdom of Judah.  They would be reunited in a new kingdom.  This new king would command that peace be among all the nations of the whole world.  How was he to do this?  This new kingdom would be from sea to shining sea, the famous River, the Euphrates River, to the ends of the earth west of Israel.

Zerubbabel will lay the foundation of the Temple (Zech 4:8-4:10)

“Moreover,

The word of Yahweh

Came to me,

Saying.

‘The hands of Zerubbabel

Have laid the foundation

Of this house.

His hands

Shall also complete it.

Then you will know

That Yahweh of hosts

Has sent me to you.

Whoever has despised

The day of small things

Shall rejoice.

They shall see the plummet

in the hand of Zerubbabel.’”

Yahweh came directly to Zechariah.  He told him that Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, would lay the foundation for the house of Yahweh with his own hands.  Then Zerubbabel would complete the Temple also.  Thus, they would know that Yahweh of hosts had sent him to them.  Those that despised the little things would rejoice when they would see the plummet or the measuring line in Governor Zerubbabel’s hands.

Yahweh will dwell in their midst (Zech 2:10-2:12)

“‘Sing!

Rejoice!

O daughter Zion!

Look!

I come!

I will dwell

In your midst.’

Says Yahweh.

Many nations

Shall join themselves

To Yahweh

In that day.

‘They shall be my people.

I will dwell

In your midst.’

You shall know

That Yahweh of hosts

Has sent me to you.

Yahweh will inherit Judah

As his portion

In the holy land.

He will again choose

Jerusalem.”

Yahweh wanted daughter Zion to sing and rejoice.  He was going to come to dwell in their midst, among them.  Many nations or people from many different countries would join with Yahweh on that day.  Yahweh said that they would be his people.  He was going to live among them.  Yahweh would inherit Judah, since he had sent his prophet to his Holy Land.  This was the first use of this term that was later used in 2 Maccabees, chapter 1.  Yahweh had chosen Jerusalem again.

Yahweh is with you (Zeph 3:16-3:17)

“On that day,

It shall be said

To Jerusalem.

‘Do not fear!

O Zion!

Do not let your hands

Grow weak!

Yahweh!

Your God!

Is in your midst!

He is a warrior

Who gives victory.

He will rejoice

Over you

With gladness.

He will renew you

In his love.

He will exult

Over you

With loud singing

As on a day of festival.”

Zephaniah emphasized that on that great day, Jerusalem would have Yahweh in their midst.  They were not to fear or let their hands grow weak.  Yahweh, their God, would be a warrior for them.  Yahweh was going to rejoice and be glad about them.  He would renew them with his love.  He would exult over them with loud singing, as on the various festival days.

Chant of thanksgiving (Zeph 3:14-3:15)

“Sing aloud!

O daughter of Zion!

Shout!

O Israel!

Rejoice!

Exult

With all your heart!

O daughter of Jerusalem!

Yahweh

Has taken away

The judgments

Against you.

He has turned away

Your enemies.

The king of Israel,

Yahweh,

Is in your midst.

You shall fear disaster

No more.”

Zephaniah has this chant of thanksgiving.  The daughters of Zion were to sing out loud.  The daughters of Jerusalem were to rejoice and exult with their whole hearts.  Yahweh had taken away his judgments against them, since he had forgiven them.  On top of that, Yahweh had turned away all their enemies.  Yahweh was now the new king of Israel in their midst.  Thus, they had no reason to fear any disasters anymore.