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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : Zechariah 6:9-11

Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 6:9-11

9. And the word of the LORD came unto me, saying,

9. Et fuit sermo Iehovae ad me, dicendo,

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;

10. Sume ex transmigratione, nempe ab Heldai, et a Tobia, et a Jedaia; et vade tu die illo, inquam, ad domum Josiae filii Zephaniae, qui venerunt e Babylone;

11. Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

11. Et sume argentum et aurum, et fac coronas, et ponc super caput Iehosuae filii Iozedec, sacerdotis magni.

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 neighbors, 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 favor 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 clamors 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 hgvlh, egule, 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.| (Ezekiel 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.

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