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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 14:4

4. And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.

4. Et stabunt pedes ejus in die illa super montem Olivarum, qui est e regione Ierusalem ab Oriente; et scindetur mons Olivarum a dimidia parte sui ab Oriente ad Occidentem (vel, versus Orientem et Occidentem) vallis magna valde; et discedet dimidia pars montis ad Aquilonem, et dimidia pars ejus ad Meridiem.

He continues the same subject, that God's power would be then conspicuous in putting enemies to flight. He indeed illustrates here his discourse by figurative expressions, as though he wished to bring the Jews to see the scene itself; for the object of the personification is no other but that the faithful might set God before them as it were in a visible form; and thus he confirms their faith, as indeed it was necessary; for as we are dull and entangled in earthly thoughts, our minds can hardly rise up to heaven, though the Lord with a clear voice invites us to himself. The Prophet then, in order to aid our weakness, adds a vivid representation, as though God stood before their eyes.

Stand, he says, shall his feet on the mount of Olives. He does not here promise a miracle, such as even the ignorant might conceive to be literal; nor does he do this in what follows, when he says, The mount shall be rent, and half of it shall thorn to the east and half to the west This has never happened, that mount has never been rent: but as the Prophet could not, under those grievous trials, which might have overwhelmed the minds of the godly a hundred times, have extolled the power of God as much as the exigency of the case required without employing a highly figurative language, he therefore accommodates himself, as I have said, to the capacity of our flesh.

The import of the whole is, -- that God's power would be so remarkable in the deliverance of his Church, as though God manifested himself in a visible form and reviewed the battle from the top of the mountain, and gave orders how everything was to be done.

He says first, Stand shall his feet on the mount of Olives. Why does he not rather say, |In the city itself?| Even because he meant by this mode of speaking to show, that God would watch, that he might see what would be necessary for the deliverance of his Church. All these things, I know, are explained allegorically, -- that Christ appeared on the mount of Olives, when he ascended into heaven, and also, that the mount was divided, that it might be passable, and that the apostles might proceed into the various parts of the world, in order that they might assail all the nations: but these are refinements, which, though they please many, have yet nothing solid in them, when they are by any one properly considered. I then take a simpler view of what the Prophet says, -- that God's hand would be sufficiently conspicuous, whenever his purpose was to aid his miserable and afflicted Church.

The same view is to be taken of what follows, that a great valley would be in the middle, for the rent would be one half towards the north and the other half towards the south. It is the same thing as though he had said, that Jerusalem was as it were concealed under that mountain, so that it was hid, but that afterwards it would be on an elevated place, as it is said elsewhere, |Elevated shall be the mountain of the Lord,| say both Isaiah and Micah, |above all mountains.| (Isaiah 2:2; Micah 4:1.) That hill, we know, was small; and yet Isaiah and Micah promise such a height as will surpass almost the very clouds. What does this mean? Even that the glory of the God of Jerusalem will be so great, that his temple will be visible above all other heights. So also in this place, Rent, he says, shall be the mount of Olives, so that Jerusalem may not be as before in a shaded valley, and have only a small hill on one side, but that it may be seen far and wide, so that all nations may behold it. This, as I think, is what the Prophet simply means. But those who delight in allegories must seek them from others. It now follows --

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