Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the LORD unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the LORD of hosts.
– This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel.
The Lord’s message unto Zerubbabel is the purport of the vision, viz. that his work will be accomplished through the grace of God alone. Not by might.
Septuagint, “not by great might;” but the Vulgate, “not by an army.” The word is almost synonymous with the following, translated power
; and the two together mean that the effect is to be produced, not by any human means, however potent. Doubtless Zerubbabel was dispirited when he thought how much there was to do, how feeble the means at his disposal (Nehemiah 4:2
), and how formidable the opposition; and nothing could better reassure him than the promise of Divine aid. But by my Spirit.
The angel does not say expressly what is to be done; but the purpose that filled the minds of Zechariah and Zerubbabel applied the word. The operations of the Spirit are manifold, and his aid alone could bring these mighty things to pass. The oil is a figure of the grace of the Holy Spirit; and as the lamps are not supplied by human hands, but directly from the olives, so the good work now undertaken shall be supported by Divine means (see on ver. 14).
Who art thou, O great mountain? before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it.
– Who art thou, O great mountain?
The “mountain” is a figurative expression to denote the various difficulties that stood in Zerubbabel’s way and impeded the carrying out of his great design. Before Zerubbabel.
The Vulgate affixes these words to the former part of the clause, but the accent is in favour of the Authorized Version. Thou Shall become a plain;
literally, into a plain!
A command. All obstacles shall be removed (comp. Isaiah 40:4
; Isaiah 49:11
; Matthew 17:20
; Luke 3:4, 5
). Septuagint, τοῦ κατορθῶσαι
(intrans.), “that thou shouldst prosper;” “ut corrigas” (Jerome). He shall bring forth the headstone thereof.
“He” is evidently Zerubbabel. He shall commence and put the finishing stroke to the work of rebuilding the temple. Many commentators take this stone to be the one that completes the building, “the topstone.” But it may well be questioned whether a building like the temple could have any such stone. An arch or a pyramid may have a crowning stone, but no other edifice; nor is there any proof that such a topstone was known or its erection celebrated. It may be a mere metaphor for the completion of the work. It is better, however, to take it as the cornerstone, to which we know great importance was attached (comp. Job 38:6
; Psalm 118:22
, etc.). This stone, on which the building rests, Zerubbabel will bring forth from the workshop; as the next verses say, his hands have laid the foundation. That action, already past, is represented as future, the regular commencement of the work under Zerubbabel’s direction being intimated, and its happy conclusion promised. Septuagint, Καὶ ἐξοίσω τὸν λίθον τῆς κληρονομίας
, “And I will bring forth the stone of the inheritance” – the meaning of which is obscure, though Jerome explains it by considering it an allusion to Christ. With shoutings
, crying, Grace, grace unto it!
All the by standers, as the stone is placed, shout in acclamation, “God’s favour rest upon it!” (Ezra 3:10
). The LXX. seems to have mistaken the sense, rendering, Ἰσότητα χάριτος χάριτα αὐτῆς
, “The grace of it the equality of grace” (John 1:16
); and to have led St. Jerome astray, who translates, “Et exsaequabit gratiam gratiae ejus,” and comments thus: “We all have received of his fulness, and grace for grace, that is, the grace of the gospel for the grace of the Law, in order theft the Israelites and the heathen who believe may receive equal grace and a like blessing.” The Targum recognizes here a Messianic prophecy: “He will reveal the Messiah whose Name is spoken of from all eternity, and he shall rule over all the kingdoms.”
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