The role of the branch (Zech 3:8-3:8)

“‘Now listen!

Joshua!

High priest!

You!

With your colleagues

Who sit before you!

They are an omen

Of things to come.

I am going to bring

My servant,

The Branch.”

Yahweh. via Zechariah, wanted the high priest Joshua and his colleagues to listen to him.  Yahweh was going to bring his servant, the branch or a sprout of some kind, sort of a Davidic figure, perhaps Zerubbabel, the grandson of the last king of Judah.  Or is this a messianic notice about a future King of Israel?

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Title (Hag 1:1-1:1)

“In the second year

Of King Darius,

In the sixth month,

On the first day

Of the month,

The word of Yahweh

Came by the prophet Haggai,

To Zerubbabel,

The son of Shealtiel,

Governor of Judah.

It also came

To Joshua,

The son of Jehozadak,

The high priest.”

There is a precise date to this prophetic happening, August, 520 BCE, the second year of the great King Darius of Persia (522-486 BCE).  During his reign, he ruled over nearly ½ of the known world, over 50,000,000 people.  The word of Yahweh came through the prophet Haggai, although there is no mention of his family.  Perhaps he was one of those returning from the exile in Babylon.  In the Book of Ezra, chapter 5, Haggai and Zechariah were explicitly mentioned as prophets.  There was also a eunuch servant Haggai in the Book of Esther, but there seems to be no connection to this Haggai.  This Haggai was to prophesize to Zerubbabel, the son of Shealtiel, who was the grandson of one of the last kings of Judah, King Jehoiachin (598 BCE).  Thus, he could be in the Davidic line.  He probably died sometime around 520 BCE, sometime around the events described here.  King Cyrus had appointed Zerubbabel to be the Governor of Judah in 538 BCE, when he was among the first exiles sent back to Jerusalem.  Joshua, the son of Jehozadak was the high priest in Jerusalem from 515-490 BCE.

The feast of King Belshazzar (Dan 5:1-5:1)

“King Belshazzar

Made a great feast

For a thousand

Of his lords.

He was drinking wine

In the presence

Of the thousand.”

Now there is a switch to King Belshazzar, the grandson of King Nebuchadnezzar. He ruled Babylon from 550-539 BCE, as he reigned with his father, King Nabonidus (556-539 BC), as a co-regent. He apparently was more anti-Jewish than his grandfather. He had this great feast with over 1,000 important people. Obviously, he was drinking wine.

Elam in the pit (Ezek 32:24-32:25)

“Elam is there.

All its hordes are

Around its grave.

All of them

Were killed,

Fallen by the sword.

They went down,

Uncircumcised,

Into the world below.

They had spread

Terror

In the land

Of the living.

They bear their shame

With those who go down

To the pit.

They have made Elam

A bed

Among the slain

With all its hordes of people.

Their graves are

All around it.

All of them

Are uncircumcised.

They were killed

By the sword.

Terror of them

Was spread

In the land

Of the living.

They bear their shame

With those who go down

To the pit.

They are placed

Among the slain.”

Elam was the grandson of Noah or a people in present day southern Iran or Persia. Thus, Elam, with its inhabitants around its grave, was there in the pit, the shadowy afterlife. They had all been killed by the sword. They went down into the pit uncircumcised. While they were living, they had spread terror. Thus, they bear the same shame of the others who have gone down into the pit. They were in a bed with graves all around them, filled with uncircumcised people who were killed by the sword. The worst place in the pit was with these uncircumcised people who had died by the sword.