(Calvin. Commentaries on the Prophet Zechariah. Part 12) Lecture One Hundred and Forty-fifth. Zechariah 6:9-11 9 And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, 10 Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; 11 Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest; This vision was given to Zechariah that he might inspire weak minds with better hope; for the Jews found that they were hardly pressed on every side by their neighbours, inasmuch as enemies rose up against them before and behind, so that there was no end to their troubles. Hence they who had returned from exile thought themselves wretched in such a state of things. They might indeed have lived in quietness among the Babylonians, and they had become accustomed to that kind of life, so that exile was not so very grievous to them. Thus then the favour of God was turned unto loathing, and was almost hated by them; for they thought it better to be deprived of their country, than to be daily exposed to new assaults. And further, the possession of the land was not of itself desirable, except with reference to the hope given them; that is, because God had promised by his Prophets that the kingdom of David would again be made glorious, and also that the grandeur and glory of the temple would be greater than ever before. When the Jews found themselves continually harassed by their enemies, they thought that all that had been promised was in vain. There is therefore no doubt but that many complaints and many clamours were everywhere raised. Hence that they might cease thus to murmur against God, this vision was given to the Prophet, in which he is bid to take silver and gold from four men, and to make two crowns to be set on the head of Joshua the high priest. The design was to make the Jews to feel assured, that the state of the people would be as safe as it was formerly, when the kingly office and the priesthood flourished: for these were the chief ornaments, or the two eyes, as it were, of the body - the priest, a mediator between God and men - and the king, sustaining the person of God in governing the people. We hence see that by the two crowns is set forth the restoration of the Church: but we must also observe that the two crowns are placed on the head of Joshua, which was new and unusual. A mitre, we know, was given to the priests; and we know also that kings were adorned with a diadem; but no one individual was to wear a royal diadem and a sacerdotal mitre. Here then we find a union of royalty and priesthood in the same person, which had never before been the case; for God had in his law made a distinction between the two offices. We hence see that something unknown before is set forth by this prophecy, even this, that the same person would be both a king and a priest. For what Jerome says, among other things, that there might have been many crowns, is weak and frivolous; and further, he contradicts the words of the Prophet; for shortly after he subjoins, that there would be a counsel of peace between the two; that is, between royalty and priesthood. As to what the same author thinks, that there was one crown given to the high priest, it is also false; besides, he subverts as far as he can the whole doctrine of the Prophet. But I leave these trifles; for there is no ambiguity in Zechariah's words when he says, that God commanded him to take silver and gold, that he might make two crowns to set on the head of the high priest. We now perceive the design of the Prophet as to the object of the prophecy, and also the meaning of the words. Let us now inquire, why the Prophet was bid to take gold from four men; for he says, Take from the transmigration. The word "hagolah" is to be taken in a collective sense, as in many other places. Take then from the exiles, who have now returned from Babylon to their own country. But he afterwards mentions four men; and there is some abruptness in the passage, but nothing that obscures the meaning of the Prophet; for he says, Take frown Heldai, and from Tobiah, and from Jedaiah; and then he adds, go in that day, enter the house of Josiah, the son of Zephaniah. The Prophet no doubt had been commanded to go to these four, and to enter the house of one of them; and this is evident from the end of the tenth verse, where he says, who have come from Babylon. He had spoken only of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; and then he adds, that they had come from Babylon. I come now to the answer. Some interpreters think that these four men supplied the gold and the silver, because they were chief men among the people, and excelled others in piety. Hence they think that these four men were chosen, as a mark of distinction, to supply the gold and the silver to make the crowns: but I conjecture from the end of the chapter that their weakness is here pointed out, even because they were weak in faith and did not believe the promises of God, and thus disheartened others by their example. It is indeed certain that they were men in high authority, and excelled all others, so that the eyes of all were fixed on them; this is certain. But yet their want of faith is what is here reproved, because they did not attend sufficiently to God's promises, and thought themselves disappointed of their hope; for they had left Babylon, where they enjoyed great abundance, and returned to the holy land, and found it uncultivated and desolate. There was indeed required great patience, when they had to plow among thorns and brambles; for that land, as I have already said, had not been regularly cultivated. Those indeed who had been sent from the East, dwelt here and there in it; but lions and wild beasts had come into it, so that the desolation of the land rendered much work necessary, when the Jews returned. I hence doubt not but that the Holy Spirit does here reprove these four men, who ought to have been leaders and standard-bearers to others; on the contrary, they broke down the confidence of the common people. And this, I say, may be learnt from the end of the chapter, where God commands the two crowns to be placed in the temple, to be a memorial to them, that they might see there the condemnation of their unbelief, as we shall show in its place. The Prophet is bid to set the two crowns on the head of the high priest. This, as I have said, was intended as a symbol to denote the union of the two dignities in the person of Christ. It was necessary until the coming of Christ to select the high priest from the posterity of Aaron; and it was also required that the kings should be from the seed of David; so that we observe a distinction between the royal office and the priesthood, not only as to the persons, but also as to the families. It would have indeed been a strange thing to see a king from the tribe of Levi; and it would have been contrary to God's appointed order to see a priest from the tribe of Judah and from the family of David. Since then the king was adorned with his own diadem, and since the high priest had his own proper mitre, what could this mean, but that the same man was to wear two crowns? Doubtless we observe that there is here some change in the past order of things, and that there is something unusual set forth. But there is nothing new in this, - that the Redeemer, who had been promised, should be eminent as a king and a priest; for this had been predicted in the hundred and tenth Psalm, "Jehovah said to my Lord, sit on my right hand," - this is what belongs to the right of a king; it afterwards follows, "Thou art a priest for ever, according to the order of Melchizedec." Though kings must then have been chosen from the family of David and the tribe of Judah, and though priests must have then been taken from the Levitical tribe, yet the Spirit foretold, that a king would come who was to be a priest, as had been the case with Melchisedec. This very thing is what the Prophet now confirms. Zechariah being ordered to set the crowns on the head of Joshua, we are not so to regard this, as though Joshua had immediately undertaken the two offices of a king and a priest; for he was satisfied with his own: but the Prophet shows in the type what was to be looked for at the coming of the Messiah; for the time had not yet come, when Christ should receive the royal diadem, as it is said in Ezekiel, - "Take away the diadem;.... set it aside, set it aside, set it aside, until he shall come, whose it is." (Ezek. 21: 26, 27.) We here see that the Prophet points out a length of time, during which the royal diadem was to be trodden as it were under foot. Though the royal crown had not yet laid in the dust sufficiently long, yet the Prophet did nothing presumptuously; for the Jews could not have conceived in their mind what is here promised, had not the typical priest come forth, wearing the two crowns. Nor could this have been so suitable to the person of Zerubbabel; for though he was of the family of David, and was a type of Christ, he had not yet the name of a king, nor had he any regal power: he could not therefore have been so suitable a person. It is then no wonder that God brought forth the high priest Joshua, who was a type and representative of Christ; and he brought him forth with a double crown, because he who was to come would unite, according to what follows, the priesthood with the kingly office. Zechariah 6:12,13 12 And speak unto him, saying, Thus speaketh the LORD of hosts, saying, Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH; and he shall grow up out of his place, and he shall build the temple of the LORD: 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD; and he shall bear the glory, and shall sit and rule upon his throne; and he shall be a priest upon his throne: and the counsel of peace shall be between them both. The vision is now explained; for if the chief priest, without this explanation, had been adorned with two crowns, there must have been much talk among the people, "What means this?" God here shows that what he has commanded to be done to Joshua does not belong to him, but has a reference to another, Thou shalt say to him, Behold the Man, Branch is his name. It is the same as though the Prophet had expressly testified that Joshua was not crowned, because he was worthy of such an honour, or because he could look for royal dignity; but that he was to bear this honour for a time, in order that the Jews might understand that one was to arise who would be both a king and a priest. Hence he says, that there would be a Man, whose name was to be Branch. As to this name, it has been explained elsewhere. I omit those refinements with which some are delighted; but as I have shown in another place, the simple and true reason why Christ is so called, is, because he was not like a tall tree, with deep and strong roots, but like a small plant. He is indeed called in another place, "a shoot from the root of Jesse." (Is. 11: 1.) But the meaning is the same; for that root of Jesse was obscure and of no repute. Besides, this kind of shoot has nothing in it that is illustrious. We hence see that Christ is called Branch, because his beginning was contemptible, so that he was of hardly any repute among heathens; nay even among his own nation. But God intimates at the same time, that this little plant would be set, as it were, by his own hand, and thus would gather strength. Though then the beginning of Christ was humble, yet God declares, that he would give vigour for continued growth, until he should attain to a great height. In this sense it is that Christ is called Branch: and we clearly conclude, that the minds of the people were transferred to Christ who was to come, that they might not fix their attention on Joshua, who was then but a typical priest. Say to Joshua, Behold the Man, whose name is Branch. Where is that man? He does not speak of Joshua; he does not say, "Thou art the man;" but he says, Behold the man, whose name is Branch, that is, who comes elsewhere. We then hence learn, that these crowns were those of Christ, but given to Joshua, that the Jews might see in the type, what was as yet hid under hope. He afterwards adds, He shall arise from himself, or grow up from his own place, literally, from under himself. Here also some have too refinedly philosophised, - that Christ arose from himself by his own power, because he is the eternal God. I think, on the contrary, that all human means are only excluded, as though the Prophet had said, that though Christ was like a little plant, he would yet grow up as though he had roots deeply fixed in the earth. There is indeed no doubt, but that Christ grew up by his own celestial power, and this is what the words of the Prophet include; but what he meant was this, - that Christ had nothing in his beginning calculated to draw the admiration of men. Though then Christ was only a shoot, yet God had sufficient power, that he should grow from his own place, that though human means were absent, it would yet be enough, that God should bless this branch, so as to cause it to grow to its proper height. He then says, And he shall build the temple of Jehovah. This is a remarkable passage: it hence appears that the temple which the Jews had then begun to build, and which was afterwards built by Herod, was not the true temple of which Haggai had prophesied, when he said, "The glory of the second house shall be greater than that of the first." (Hag. 2: 9.) For though the temple of Herod was splendid, yet we see what the Spirit declares in this place, - that to build the temple would be Christ's own work. Hence no one, had he heaped together all the gold and the silver of the world, could have built the true temple of which Haggai prophesied, and of which Ezekiel has so largely spoken near the end of his book. Christ alone then has been chosen by the Father to build this temple. Christ indeed himself was a temple as to his body, for the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in him, (Col. 2: 6;) but he built a temple to God the Father, when he raised up everywhere pure worship, having demolished superstitions, and when he consecrated us to be a royal priesthood. We now then see what was shown to the Prophet, - that though the Jews were then exposed to many evils, to reproaches and wrongs, yet Christ would come to restore all things to a perfect order, that he would be not only a king but also a priest; and further, that his beginning would be obscure and despised by the world, and yet that he would attain without any earthly helps his own elevation; and, lastly, that his own proper office would be to build a temple to God. He repeats the last thing which he had said, Even he shall build the temple of Jehovah. The Prophet seems here to reiterate to no purpose the same words without any additions of light: but it seems evident to me, that he meant in this way to confirm and sanction what seemed difficult to be believed. As the temple, then, begun at that time to be built, had but little splendour and glory connected with it, and could hardly be expected to become a better or more adorned building, the Prophet reiterates this promise, He, he shall build the temple of Jehovah; by which he means, "Let not your eyes remain fixed on this temple, for to look at it weakens your faith and almost disheartens you; but hope for another temple which ye see not now, for a priest and a king shall at length come to build a better and a more excellent temple." He afterwards subjoins, Bear shall he the glory, and shall sit and rule on his throne. He fully confirms what we have already referred to - that this man, who was to grow by God's hidden power, would be made both a king and a priest, but by no earthly instrumentality. In the words, bear shall he the glory, there is no doubt an implied contrast between Joshua and Christ, the true priest. For Joshua, though he discharged in his time the office of a priest, was yet despised; but the Prophet bids his people to hope for more than what could have been conceived from the view of things at that time; for an illustrious priest was to come, full of royal dignity. And hence he adds, sit shall he and rule on his throne. This did not properly belong to the priesthood; but the Prophet affirms, that the man who was to come from above, would be a king, though he exercised the priestly office. He was then to be a priest, and yet to be on his throne and to rule as a king; and ruling is what belongs to a king and not to a priest. At length he concludes by saying, The counsel of peace shall be between the two. I do not think that the discords which had been between kings and priests are here indirectly reproved. I indeed allow that such discords had often been seen among that ancient people; but the Prophet had regard to something far different, even this - that the priesthood would be united with the kingly office. He therefore did not refer to different persons who were to be at peace together; but, on the contrary, spoke of things or of the two offices; there shall then be the counsel of peace between the two, that is, between the kingly office and the priesthood. We hence learn that which I have already stated that what is here promised had not been found under the law, and could not have been expected under it; and that the fulfilment of this prophecy is the renovation which took place at the coming of Christ. It follows Zechariah 6:14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. They who think that the crowns were deposited with these four men, pervert the meaning of the Prophet; for they were, on the contrary, placed in God's temple to be a memorial to them. It hence appears; that, as I have already said, they were not required to supply the gold, because they excelled all others in piety and holiness, but because it was necessary to condemn their want of faith, inasmuch as they thought that their hope was disappointed, as God did not immediately fulfil what he had promised. Let then these crowns, saith the Spirit, be a memorial to them, that is, that whenever they look on these crowns they may check themselves and know that their expectations are very unreasonable, and that they themselves are too hasty when they wish all prophecies to be accomplished in one day; and also that the whole people may know that they had complained without reason, as these suspended crowns shall be a memorial and a testimony. We now then see more clearly why the Prophet had been ordered to take gold and silver from these four men: it was, that he might make crowns, which were afterwards to be deposited in God's temple. At length he adds - Zechariah 6:15 And they that are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and ye shall know that the LORD of hosts hath sent me unto you. And this shall come to pass, if ye will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God. The Prophet also states, that men would come from remote lands to contribute labour or wealth towards the building of the temple; for the word building may refer to either of these two things. Come then shall those from far. Before this time gifts had been presented by Gentile nations, but the temple was not built but by Solomon and his people. God then promises here something more, and that is, that helpers would assist in building the temple, who had been till then wholly aliens. It is indeed certain, that in the age of Zechariah contributions had been made by Cyrus; but the Prophet refers to nothing of this kind: he promises something more. It hence follows that this prophecy must necessarily be referred to the promulgation of the gospel; for then it was that strangers began to contribute their labour and their wealth towards building a temple to God. Though then Cyrus gave a large sum of money towards the erection of the temple, yet the allusion here is not to his liberality. And after Cyrus no stranger had been so liberal: for Herod, who raised up a great and a very splendid building, was not from far; nay, he wished to be thought one of the people. We then see that this prophecy cannot be otherwise referred than to the building of the spiritual temple, when Gentiles, formerly remote from God's people, joined them as friends, and brought their labour to the work of building the temple, not with stones or wood, or with other corruptible materials, but with the doctrine and the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He then adds, ye shall know that Jehovah of hosts has sent me to you. Of this kind of knowledge we have spoken elsewhere. It indeed behaved the Jews from the first to feel assured respecting the truth of this prophecy; but when the effect or experience itself was added, they then began to know more clearly. It is then the same as thought the Prophet had said, "God, who speaks by my mouth, will not disappoint you, as he will at length accomplish what I now declare; and experience itself will be a witness that I have been a true and faithful Prophet." And he calls Him the God of hosts, that the Jews, hearing that what he had said proceeded from Him whose power is infinite, might be confirmed in their faith. There was then no reason for them to doubt as to the accomplishment, for there is nothing that can resist God, when it pleases him to unfold his power. It follows, If by hearing ye will hear the voice of Jehovah your God. Zechariah promises to the Jews here conditionally - if they became obedient to God, and continued in obedience to his word and in his doctrine; for unbelief deprives men of all participation in God's favour. It is indeed true that had all become unbelieving, Christ would have come; for God as he is true would not change his purpose were the whole world to become false. Since then the faithfulness of God depends not on men, we ought not so to take what the Prophet says here, If ye will hear the voice of Jehovah, as though they could, by being unfaithful to God, have rendered void the accomplishment of this prophecy. Their defection, then, yea, that of the whole nation, could not have prevented Christ from coming forth in his own appointed time. But the Prophet had another thing in view, even this - that the Jews would become partakers of this blessing, or would enjoy, so to speak, this favour, if they embraced God's promise, and obediently submitted to his law. For though Christ has already come as the Redeemer of the world, yet we know that this benefit is not come to all, and why? Because many through unbelief close the door against God and his grace through Christ. Hence the faithful alone really know that God has spoken, and really partake of his favour, and for this reason, because they hear his voice; that is, they first by faith receive what God offers, and then they fall not away from his truth, but continue in the obedience of faith to the end. What the Prophet then had in view, was to show to the Jews that those things were spoken in vain, as to them, if they did not attend to God. And he shows the way in which they were to be attentive, even by hearing the voice of God, that is, by renouncing their own thoughts, and by not esteeming God untrue, though he promised what seemed incredible. If then they denied themselves, banished their own imaginations, wholly attended to God's word, and believed what he had said as a Prophet, he assures them that they would really find that which he taught them to be true to their own salvation, even this - that Christ would come to be a king and a priest, to secure perfect happiness to his people. Prayer. Grant, Almighty God, that since thy Son has been made known to us, through whom is brought to us the perfection of all blessings and of true and real glory, - O grant, that we may continue settled in him, and never turn here and there, nor fluctuate in any way, but be so satisfied with his kingship and priesthood, as to deliver up ourselves wholly to his care and protection, and never doubt but that we are so sanctified by his grace as to be now acceptable to thee, and that relying on him as our Mediator, we may offer ourselves as a sacrifice to thee with full confidence of heart, and thus strive to glorify thee through the whole course of our life, that we may at length be made partakers of that celestial glory which has been obtained for us by the blood of thy only-begotten Son. - Amen. (Calvin... on Zechariah) Continued in Part 13... ---------------------------------------------------- file: /pub/resources/text/ipb-e/epl-09: cvzec-12.txt .