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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 6:6, 7

6. The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country; and the white go forth after them; and the grisled go forth toward the south country.

6. In qua sunt equi nigri, exeunt ad terram Aquilonis, et albi exeunt post eos, et variegati, (aspersi vario colore,) exunt ad terram Australem.

7. And the bay went forth, and sought to go that they might walk to and fro through the earth: and he said, Get you hence, walk to and fro through the earth. So they walked to and fro through the earth.

7. Et subrufi (dicam iterum de voce) exierunt, et postularunt ut perambularent in terra: et dixit, Ite, perambulate in terra; et pereambularunt in terra.

Zechariah explains here each part of the prophecy; but he shows at the same time that two of the chariots hastened towards Chaldea, that it might not be grievous to the Jews that they in the first place had to experience God's judgment. He then shows that God sent his messengers to all parts; but that there had been, or were to be, remarkable and extraordinary changes, especially among the Babylonians. It hence appeared evident, that God had a care for his own people, who had been driven there into exile. And I leave already stated the reason why he speaks here of red horses; for they are mistaken who think that the first chariot was sent into Chaldea; for I consider that this refers to the Jews, with whom God's judgment commenced. He then says, that two chariots went towards Babylon, the first was drawn by black horses, and the other by white, because of the kindness shown by the Persian, by whom a new light of joy was brought to the Jews.

With regard to the land of the south, the Prophet no doubt alludes to the Egyptians. But he afterwards adds, that the last chariot was conveyed elsewhere, even through the whole world. Some render 'mvtsym, amustim, strong; and this is the proper meaning of the word, for 'mts, amets, properly means to fortify, to strengthen; but as color is intended here, it seems probable to me that it means somewhat red, as some of the Rabbis teach us; for the Prophet mentioned another word before, vrdym, beredim, grilled. Hence some interpreters join together the two, and say that the horses were grisled, or spotted like hail, and then that they were 'mvtsym, amutsim, somewhat red. Jerome seems to me to have sufficiently refuted this opinion, because the other horses were 'dmym, ademim, red, but these were of different colors. And further, it can hardly be suitable to say, that these alone were strong horses who drew this chariot; for we know that God so wonderfully exercised his power against the Chaldeans that two chariots went forth to them, and they would not have been drawn by weak and feeble horses. I hence think that their color is here designated, and the Prophet calls them once grilled, and then somewhat red.

But he says, that being not satisfied with the land of the south, they asked of God permission to go to and fro through the whole world. And though neither the devil nor the wicked regard God's bidding, but are led, without knowing and against their will, wherever God drives them; yet the Prophet says, that they asked; for they could not overstep the limits prescribed to them. Though Satan asked, as to Job, to be allowed to do this and that, we are not yet too curiously to inquire whether Satan asks leave of God whenever he intends to attempt anything; for there is no doubt but that he is carried away by his violent rage to try in every way to overturn the government of God. But this only ought to satisfy us -- that neither Satan nor the wicked can advance one inch, except as God permits them. The meaning then is, that after the last chariot went forth first to the land of the south, a permission was given to it to go through the whole world. He now adds --

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