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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 3:9

9. For behold the stone that I have laid before Joshua; upon one stone shall be seven eyes: behold, I will engrave the graving thereof, saith the LORD of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of that land in one day.

9. Quia ecce lapis quem posui coram Iehosua, super lapidem unum septem oculi: ecce ego sculpo sculpturam ejus (lapidis) dicit Iehova exercituum: et aufero iniquitatem terrae hujus die una.

He more fully sets forth what we have observed in the last verse; but he speaks figuratively. He says that there were seven eyes on the stone which was set before Joshua; and that God would in one day take away the iniquity of the land, so that nothing would prevent it from recovering its ancient glory. This is the import of the whole; but interpreters vary, especially as to the eyes.

Almost all Christians agree as to the stone; for they think Christ to be meant; and we know that there are many similar passages, where Christ is called a stone, because the Church is on him founded; |Behold, I lay in Zion a precious stone,| says Isaiah in the Isaiah 28:1; and in Psalm 118:1 and in other places there are similar words. I yet think that the Prophet alludes to the temple, which was then begun to be built; but at the same time I take this as admitted, that Christ is called metaphorically a stone, as before he was called a Branch. But we must bear in mind that the external figure of the visible temple is applied to Christ himself. Behold, says God, the stone which I have set before Joshua has seven eyes; and further, I will engrave it with sculptures, that it may appear wonderful before the whole world. We now perceive what the subject is, and the mode of speaking here adopted.

As to the subject, the angel says, that the temple which Joshua had begun to build, was a celestial building; for God here declares himself to be its founder and builder, -- The stone, he says, which I have set; and he says this, that Joshua might know that he labored not in vain in building the temple. For had it been the work of men, it might have fallen, and might have been pulled down a hundred times by the hand of enemies; but God declares that the temple was founded by his own hand. He, at the same time, as I have said, raises up the thoughts of the godly to Christ, which is the substance and reality of the temple. Hence he says, I set a stone before Joshua; that is, |Though Joshua builds, and workmen diligently labor with him, yet I am the chief framer and architect of the temple.|

He then says, on this stone shall be seven eyes. Some apply this to the seven graces of the Spirit: but the definition which they make, who have said, that the grace of the Spirit is sevenfold, is puerile; they know not about what they prattle and vainly talk; for Scripture speaks of many more. They also falsely adduce a passage from the Isaiah 11:1 for they mistake there as to the number: the Latin version has led them astray. Others think that the seven eyes have a reference to the whole world; as though the angel had said, that all will direct their eyes to this stone, according to what is said by Christ, that he was raised up on high, that he might draw all men to himself: then seven eyes, that is the eyes of all men, shall be turned to this stone. Some again apply this to the fullness of grace which has been given to Christ. But I think that the simpler view is, that his glory is set forth, according to what immediately follows, -- I will engrave its engravings. For it is a vain refinement to say, that God engraved engravings when the side of Christ was pierced, when his hands and his feet were perforated: this is to trifle, and not seriously to explain Scripture. But the Prophet by engraving, means the valuable and extraordinary character of this stone; as though he had said, |It will be a stone remarkable for every excellency; for God will adorn this stone with wonderful engravings; and then it will be a stone having eyes, that is, it will not only turn to itself the eyes of others, but it will illuminate them, and exhibit as it were such brightness as will, by its own reflection, lead men to behold it.| We now understand the full meaning of the Prophet. What remains I cannot finish now.

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