Jerusalem raped and looted1There’s coming a day—the Day of the LORD—when everything anyone ever stole from Jerusalem will come back home to the people there.
2But first, I’m going to unite nations of the world against Jerusalem. They’ll capture the city, take what they want, rape the women, deport half the population, and banish the rest from Jerusalem. 3Then the LORD will go to war against those nations that attacked Jerusalem.
4When that day comes, the LORD will plant his feet on the Mount of Olives. It’s just across the valley east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will split north and south. This will tear open a wide valley running east and west through the split hills.
5People will take off running for their lives. They’ll run through that new valley, which stretches from hillside to hillside. They’ll run like people ran during that huge earthquake when Uzziah ruled Judah as king. When that happens, the LORD my God will come, and he’ll be bringing a lot of holy company.
A new Jerusalem: light all day, all night6When that time comes, there will no longer be warm sunny days or cool moonlit nights. 7Instead, it will remain daylight all the time. God knows how and when. Even at night, it’ll be daylight bright.
8Water will flow from Jerusalem all year long, winter and summer. Half will feed into the Dead Sea, to the east. The other half into the Mediterranean Sea, in the west. 9Then is when people will see the LORD as King of the World. People everywhere will finally recognize him as the LORD, and as the one and only God to worship.
10The hills of Judah will become a plain, flat as the Arabah Valley. The plain will stretch from Geba north of Jerusalem to Rimmon in the south. Jerusalem, however, will remain on its hilltop, from the Gate of Benjamin to Old Gate to Corner Gate, to the Tower of Hananel, and to the King’s Winepress. People will live there safely. I’ll never let the city be destroyed again. 11People will live there protected. I’ll never again tag this city for destruction. Jerusalem will become a haven.
Time for plagued enemies to rot12The LORD will plague everyone who fought in the war against Jerusalem. Their bodies will rot where they stand. Their eyeballs will rot in their sockets. Their tongues will rot in their mouths.
13The LORD will panic people into turning on each other, neighbor against neighbor. 14Panic will strike Judah, too. People will even fight in Jerusalem. When the fighting is over, people will take a collection. They’ll gather a massive amount of gold, silver, and clothing from all the neighboring nations and they’ll give it to Jerusalem.
15The plague of rotting flesh will take the livestock next. Mules, camels, donkeys—every critter in every camp.
The world unites with God16When it’s over, survivors from nations that attacked Jerusalem will worship the LORD of everyone. Each year, at the Last Harvest Festival they’ll come to Jerusalem to honor their King.
17Anyone who doesn’t go to Jerusalem to honor the King, the LORD of everyone, should expect dry weather ahead. It won’t rain. 18This holds true for Egyptians as well. If they don’t come up for the Festival, they don’t get rain. But they will get more of the plague. 19This is the punishment they’ll get in Egypt. And this is what will happen to any other nation that doesn’t come up to celebrate the Festival.
20When all of this takes place, it’ll be time to strap bells onto horses. Inscribe the bells “Devoted to the LORD.” Cooking pots in the Temple and pots in front of the altar are also devoted to the LORD, which makes them holy. 21Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and in all of Judah will be holy, too. People will be able to boil meat for their sacrifice anywhere. As for those merchants selling pots in the Temple, they’re out of business.
Some students of the Bible say this reads like an abbreviated report on the Battle of Armageddon. But in Revelation 16:16, it’s not God uniting the nations against Jerusalem, it’s “demons.”
The traditional interpretation makes no sense, some scholars say. The translation goes something like this: “You’ll flee by way of the valley between the LORD’s mountain. The valley reaches to Azal.” Azal? There’s no such person or place in the Bible record. Some scholars guess that the word azal should read etzel, a term that means “side,” like the side of a mountain. If that’s right, Zechariah may have been saying the new valley torn open in an earthquake stretched from one side of what had been the Mount of Olives to the other. Or Azal may have been a town whose name was lost to history or changed.
Uzziah reigned from 767-740 BC as full king, and as coregent with his aging father Amaziah from 791-767 BC. That’s a couple of centuries before Zechariah. It’s unknown when the earthquake took place. One guess is 760 BC. But the quake could have happened anywhere within a stretch of about 25 years: from 767-742 BC. The earliest possible date is 767 BC, the year Uzziah became king. The latest date is about 742 BC, two years before the end of Uzziah’s reign.
“Holy company” is anyone’s guess. “Angels” is the most common guess among Bible scholars. Perhaps coming as celestial warriors to fight Jerusalem’s enemies in the Final Battle, Armageddon. But some say the guests could refer to the people who escaped when the coalition army from enemy nations attacked Jerusalem.
Revelation 21:23 seems to embrace this idea, explaining that “The Lamb of God is the light.”
Geba and Rimmon marked the northern and southern boundaries of the Kingdom of Judah before Babylonians invaded and conquered it in 586 BC (1 Kings 15:22; 2 Kings 23:8).
These are the four corners of the city at the time: Benjamin at the northeast (Jeremiah 37:12-13); Corner Gate on the west (2 Kings 14:13); Tower on the north (Nehemiah 3:1; 12:39); winepress in the south (Nehemiah 2:14; 3:15).
It’s often called the Festival of Shelters or Festival of Booths. In Exodus, it was the last harvest festival of the year. That’s when farmers harvested late-season crops such as grapes, figs, and olives (Exodus 23:16). This was in the late summer and early autumn. The Hebrew word describing the festival here is sukka. It can mean tent, canopy, or temporary shelter. Moses said God wanted the Israelites to observe this festival by building temporary shelters and living in them for seven days “so you and your descendants will remember that the people of Israel I led out of Egyptian slavery once lived in shelters like this” (Leviticus 23:43).
Literally, “Holy to the LORD.” Holy horse bells? Sounds like an exclamation, “Holy horse bells!” The message in verses 20-21 seems to be that in this new Jerusalem’s near utopia, everything becomes holy, even horse bells and kitchen pots. It’s all devoted to God, used in ways to please him and bless the people. The bells, like worship utensils such as lampstands inside the Temple, were considered holy because they were reserved for sacred use, devoted to God. People, too, were considered holy when they devoted themselves to God.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.