|Zechariah, The book of |
The book of Zechariah, in its existing form, consists of three principal parts, vis. chs. 1-8; chs. 9-11; chs. 12-14.
- The first of these divisions is allowed by the critics to be the genuine work of Zechariah the son of Iddo. It consists, first, of a short introduction or preface in which the prophet announces his commission; then of a series of visions, descriptive of all those hopes and anticipations of which the building of the temple was the pledge and sure foundation and finally of a discourse, delivered two years later, in reply to questions respecting the observance of certain established fasts.
- The remainder of the book consists of two sections of about equal length, chs. 9-11 and 12-14, each of which has an inscription. (1) In the first section he threatens Damascus and the seacoast of Palestine with misfortune, but declares that Jerusalem shall be protected. (2) The second section is entitled "The burden of the word of Jehovah for Israel." But Israel is here used of the nation at large, not of Israel as distinct from Judah. Indeed the prophecy which follows concerns Judah and Jerusalem, in this the prophet beholds the near approach of troublous times, when Jerusalem should be hard pressed by enemies. But in that day Jehovah shall come to save them an all the nations which gather themselves against Jerusalem shall be destroyed. Many modern critics maintain that the later chapters, from the ninth to the fourteenth, were written by some other prophet, who lived before the exile. The prophecy closes with a grand and stirring picture. All nations are gathered together against Jerusalem, and seem already sure of their prey. Half of their cruel work has been accomplished, when Jehovah himself appears on behalf of his people. He goes forth to war against the adversaries of his people. He establishes his kingdom over all the earth. All nations that are still left shall come up to Jerusalem, as the great centre of religious worship, and the city; from that day forward shall be a holy city. Such is, briefly, an outline of the second portion of that book which is commonly known as the Prophecy of Zechariah. Integrity . -Mede was the first to call this in question. The probability that the later chapters, from the ninth to the fourteenth, were by some other prophet seems first to have been suggested to him by the citation in St. Matthew. He rests his opinion partly on the authority of St. Matthew and partly-on the contents of the later chapters, which he considers require a date earlier than the exile. Archbishop Newcombe went further. He insisted on the great dissimilarity of style as well as subject between the earlier and later chapters and he was the first who advocated the theory that the last six chapters of Zechariah are the work of two distinct prophets.