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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 9:11

11. As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.

11. Etiam tu, in sanguine foederis, tui emisi vinctos tuos e puteo, in quo non erat aqua.

Here he applies his former doctrine to its right use, so that the faithful might emerge from their sorrow, and come to that joy which he had before encouraged them to entertain. He then addresses Jerusalem, as though he had said, |There is no reason for thee to torment thyself with perplexed and anxious thoughts, for I will accomplish what I have promised -- that I would become a deliverer to my people.| For this doubt might have occurred to them -- |Why does he exhort us to rejoice, while the Church of God is still in part captive, and while those who have returned to their country are miserably and cruelly harassed by their enemies?| To this objection Zechariah answers in the person of God -- that God would be able to deliver them, though they were sunk in the deepest gulf. We hence see how this verse harmonises with the other verses: he had before spoken of the happy state of the Church under Christ as its king; but as the condition of the people then was very hard and miserable, he adds, that deliverance was to be expected from God.

But we must observe, that a pronoun feminine is here used, when he says, even thou, or, thou also. Both the Latins and Greeks have been deceived by the ambiguity of the language used, and have thought that the words are addressed to Christ, as though he was to draw his captives from a deep pit; but God here addresses his Church, as though he had said, |Hear thou.| And the particle gm, gam, is emphatical, meaning this -- |I see that I do not prevail much with you, for ye are in a manner overwhelmed by your calamities, and no hope refreshes you, as you think yourselves visited, as it were, with a thousand deaths; but still, though a mass of evils disheartens you, or at least so far oppresses you as to render inefficacious what I say -- though, in short, ye be of all men the most miserable, I will yet redeem your captives.| But God addresses the whole Church, as in many other places under the character of a wife.

He says, By the blood of thy covenant. This seems not to belong properly to the Church, for there is no other author of the covenant but God himself; but the relation, we know, between God and his people, as to the covenant, is mutual. It is God's covenant, because it flows from him; it is the covenant of the Church, because it is made for its sake, and laid up as it were in its bosom. And the truth penetrated more fully into the hearts of the godly, when they heard that it was not only a divine covenant, but that it was also the covenant of the people themselves: Then by the blood of thy covenant, etc. Some refer this, but very unwisely, to circumcision, for the Prophet no doubt had regard to the sacrifices. It was then the same as though he had said -- |Why do ye offer victims daily in the temple? If ye think that you thus worship God, it is a very gross and insane superstition. Call then to mind the end designed, or the model given you from above; for God has already promised that he will be propitious to you, by expiating your sins by the only true sacrifice: And for this end offer your sacrifices, and that blood will bring expiation with it. Now since God has not in vain appointed your sacrifices, and ye observe them not in vain, no doubt the benefit will come at length to light, for I have sent forth thy captives. For God does not reconcile himself to men, that he may destroy or reduce them to nothing, or that he may suffer them to pine away and die; for why does God pardon men, but that he may deliver them from destruction?|

We now perceive why the Prophet thus speaks of the blood of the covenant in connection with the salvation of the whole people. |Ye daily offer victims,| he says, |and the blood is poured on the altar: God has not appointed this in vain.| Now since God receives you into favor, that ye may be safe, he will therefore deliver the captives of his Church; I will send forth, he says, or, have sent forth thy captives: for he expresses here in the past tense what he would do in future.

I will send forth thy captives from the pit in which there is no water. He means a deep gulf, where thirst itself would destroy miserable men without being drawn forth by a power from above. In short, he means, first, that the Jews were sunk in the deep; and secondly, that thirst would consume them, so that death was nigh at hand, except they were miraculously delivered by God: but he reminds them, that no impediment would prevent God from raising them to light from the deepest darkness. We then see that this was added, that the Jews might learn to struggle against all things that might strengthen unbelief, and feel assured that they would be preserved safe, for it is God's peculiar work to raise the dead. This is the meaning. He now adds --

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