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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 12:2

2. Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about, when they shall be in the siege both against Judah and against Jerusalem.

2. Ecce ego pono Ierusalem postem contritionis (vel, calicem veneni, aut, mortiferum; alii vertunt, crapulae) omnibus populis per circuitum; atque etiam super Iehudah, erit in obsidionem contra Ierusalem.

Zechariah begins here to teach us what I have briefly explained, that Jerusalem would be under the protection of God, who would render it safe and secure against all enemies. But he uses here figurative terms, which make the point more evident. He says, that Jerusalem would be a threshold of bruising, or breaking. The word sph, saph, means a threshold almost everywhere in Scripture. But some think that it means here a cup, and then they translate rl, rol, drunkenness, or fury. But as this word also means breaking, it is not unsuitable to say that Jerusalem is here called a threshold at which people stumble, so that he who comes against this threshold either breaks a bone or receives some other injury. At the same time the Prophet seems to express something more, that whosoever ascended to attack Jerusalem would meet with a stumbling block, by which he might have his legs broken or bruised. The meaning then is, that access to Jerusalem would be closed up, so that enemies would not overcome it, though they reached the walls and the gates, for they would stumble, as it is said, at the threshold.

If the other rendering be approved, the sense would be suitable, -- that all the ungodly, while devising schemes against God's Church, would be inebriated by their own counsels; yea, that their drink would be deadly to them: for the passions of men produce effects like drunkenness. When therefore the ungodly gather their forces against the Church, it is the same as though they were greedily swallowing down wine; for the drunken meet together to indulge in excesses. The meaning then would be, -- that this immoderate drinking would be fatal to the nations. But I prefer the former view, -- that though the gates of the holy city were open, or even an easy access were made through the walls, yet God would on every side be a defense, so that enemies would stumble, as we have said, at the very threshold and bruise themselves. And this promise was very necessary then, for Jerusalem was exposed to the assaults of all, as it could not have defended itself by moats or walls or mounds: but the Lord here promises that it would be a threshold of bruising

He then adds, Also against Judah, or over Judah, it shall be during the siege against Jerusalem. The Prophet, as I think, extends the promise to the whole land, as though he had said, |Though the compass of Jerusalem should not contain all the inhabitants, yet they shall be everywhere safe; for God will take them under his protection.| I wonder why some interpreters have omitted the preposition l, ol, and have translated thus, |Judah also shall be in the siege against Jerusalem:| and they elicit a meaning wholly different, even that some of the Jews themselves would become perfidious, who would not spare their brethren and friends, but become hostile to them, and unite their forces to those of heathen nations. But I consider the meaning to be the reverse of this, -- that when Jerusalem shall be besieged, the Lord will put impediments everywhere, which will hinder and prevent the assaults of enemies. When God, he says, shall defend the holy city, even this very thing, (for I apply this phrase to God's protection,) even this very thing shall be through the whole land; as though he had said, |God will not only be the guardian of the city alone, but also of the whole of the holy land.| Now this must have sharply goaded the Israelites, seeing that they were excluded from having God's aid, inasmuch asthey had not thought proper to return to their own country when liberty was freely given them. It follows --

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