For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2002 James Melough 

9:1.  “The burden of the word of the Lord in the land of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: then the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the Lord.”

As used here the word “burden” is associated with the thought of an announcement of doom, the RSV rendering this verse, “... the word of the Lord is against the land of Hadrach, and will rest upon Damascus.  For to the Lord belong the cities of Aram....”  Hadrach is believed to have been a place north of Hamath; and Damascus was the capital of Syria (Aram).

The conquests of Alexander the Great were the immediate but partial fulfillment of the predictions of verses 1-8; and the immediate but partial fulfillment of the predictions of verses 11-17 were carried out by the Ptolemies (Egyptians), and the Selucids (Syria), two of the four parts into which Alexander’s kingdom was divided after his death, hence the reference to them in 9:13 as “thy sons, O Greece.”  The complete fulfillment, however, will come in the now imminent Tribulation, and in that day these Gentile nations, like Israel, will be compelled to acknowledge the Lord’s power over them.

9:2.  “And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.”

The first part of this verse means that Hamath (a city north of Damascus), together with Tyre and Sidon would all be destroyed, no matter how wise they might appear to be in the estimate of men.  It is the height of folly, not wisdom, for a man, a city, or a nation to make itself the object of God’s wrath.

9:3.  “And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets.”

Tyre had fortified herself so that she and everyone else considered her to be impregnable, and within her fortified walls had amassed vast wealth; but nothing could save her from the judgment of the omnipotent Jehovah Whom she had scorned.

9:4.  Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.”

In 664 BC Tyre was captured by the Assyrians after a 5-year siege, but eventually regained her independence; but was again captured c.574 by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar after a 13-year siege.  In 332 BC Alexander, after a relatively brief 5-month siege, captured the city again, and it is generally believed that that is the destruction referred to here.  It eventually recovered, however, and was in fact a thriving city during the time of the Lord’s ministry.  It exists today under the name Sur, its final destruction awaiting the Tribulation era.

9:5.  “Ashkelon shall see it, and fear, Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron; for her expectation shall be ashamed; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited.”

These towns were all located in Philistine territory, and the destruction of Tyre would sound their own death knell, for with mighty Tyre gone, there would be nothing to stand between them and the invader.  The expectation of Ekron, like that of these other cities, was that Tyre would defeat their common enemy.

9:6.  “And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.”

Ashdod was also a Philistine city, and its becoming the home of “a bastard” means simply that it would be occupied by foreigners.

9:7.  “And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite.”

Taylor’s translation of this verse eliminates the ambiguity of the KJ version.  It reads,  “I will yank her idolatry out of her mouth, and pull from her teeth her sacrifices that she eats with blood.  Everyone left will worship God and be adopted into Israel as a new clan: the Philistines of Ekron will intermarry with the Jews, just as the Jebusites did so long ago.”

“... he shall be as a governor in Judah,” means that the remnant which will survive will have its own governor, and will be accepted as an equal of any of the tribes of Israel.  This obviously looks on to the Millennium, so that the foretold destruction will come in the Tribulation era, leaving only a believing remnant to enter the Millennium.

9:8.  “And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them anymore: for now have I seen with mine eyes.”

This is generally understood to refer to the fact that on Alexander’s first invasion of Palestine he left Jerusalem untouched, as he did also on his victorious return march; but as with virtually all of this section, complete fulfillment awaits the Millennium.

The phrase “now have I seen with mine eyes” means that His omniscient eye will be watching over her then with the same ceaseless vigilance as in the past.

9:9.  “Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.”

This was partially fulfilled on the day when the Lord rode into Jerusalem, and was hailed as King by the multitude; but clearly complete fulfillment awaits the end of the Tribulation and the beginning of the Millennium.  (According to The Bible Knowledge Commentary “In the ancient Near East, if a king came in peace, he would ride on a donkey instead of a war stallion).  There is nothing in Scripture to indicate that Christ will ride into Jerusalem on a donkey at His second advent.  That was appropriate to His coming as God’s Lamb, but at the end of the Tribulation He will come as the omnipotent Lion of Judah to execute judgment, banish His foes, and inaugurate His millennial kingdom.

Israel’s being referred to as a daughter speaks of her subjection to Christ in that coming glorious age, for a daughter is used symbolically to portray loving willing obedience.

As has been noted earlier, Zion was the name of the Temple mount, and was therefore synonymous with Israel’s religious life.  Jerusalem, the whole city, on the other hand, was the center of her political and economic life, so that the mention of Zion and Jerusalem therefore points to the fact that in the Millennium Christ will be Ruler over every aspect, not only of Jewish life, but of all the nations.

His being “just, and having salvation” declares that perfect justice will characterize His reign, and He will be available to the millennial peoples as Savior, just as He has always been to people in every age, for it is to be remembered, that apart from the saved remnant that will pass from the Tribulation into the Millennium, every person born during those thousand years will require a new spiritual birth to fit him for the eternal state that will follow the Millennium.  And as has been noted already, during that glorious age Christ will be reigning from the heavenly Jerusalem, while His regent, a literal descendant of David, will reign over the earth from the throne in the earthly Jerusalem.

It is emphasized that He rode into Jerusalem two thousand years ago, not on the mother ass, but on her colt, and a special significance attaches to that fact, for the ass represents the body of the natural man; the colt (second generation), the body of the born-again man.  That second generation ass, with Christ on its back controlling it, rode into Jerusalem, which means double peace, the spiritual truth being taught symbolically in this being that when we submit our lives to Christ’s control, the result is the enjoyment of His peace which passeth understanding.

9:10.  “And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the heathen: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.”

This declares the truth that in the Millennium wars will cease.  Neither Israel, nor any of the nations will require an army during the glorious reign of the Prince of peace, whose dominion will be “from sea to sea, and from the river (Euphrates) even to the ends of the earth,” i.e., worldwide.

9:11.  “As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water.”

The covenant mentioned here is generally understood to be that which God made with Abraham, see Ge 15; but ultimately the reference must be to the covenant sealed with the blood of Christ.  At the end of the Tribulation God will deliver imprisoned Jewish exiles from across the earth, and gather them back into their own land again, the certainty of that deliverance being guaranteed by His describing it as a thing already accomplished.

The pit without water is generally taken to refer to an empty cistern being used as a dungeon, a figurative way of describing Israel’s two thousand year scattering amongst the nations.  Since water, in a bad sense, is used scripturally to designate death (see the symbolic references to Christ’s death under such a figure in Ps 42:7; 69:1, 2, 14, 15; 88:6, 7, 16-18), the absence of water here may be an oblique assurance that Israel’s present long judgment is not for her destruction, but to bring her to repentance and blessing following the final judgment of the Tribulation era.

9:12.  “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee:”

The “strong hold” is millennial Jerusalem; and the “prisoners of hope,” the Jewish exiles scattered across the earth.  Following the Tribulation they will be gathered back to Palestine which will then burgeon phenomenally as described in Amos 9:13-15, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that the plowman shall overtake the reaper, and the treader of grapes him that soweth seed; and the mountains shall drop sweet wine, and all the hills shall melt.  And I will bring again the captivity of my people of Israel, and they shall build the waste cities, and inhabit them; and they shall plant vineyards, and drink the wine thereof; they shall also make gardens, and eat the fruit of them.  And I will plant them upon their land, and they shall no more be pulled up out of their land which I have given them, saith the Lord thy God.”

“I will render double unto thee,” means simply that the abundance of blessing will more than compensate for all they will have suffered in the Tribulation.

9:13.  “When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim (the ten northern tribes), and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.”

Taylor has translated this verse, “Judah, you are my bow!  Ephraim, you are my arrow!  Both of you will be my sword, like the sword of a mighty soldier brandished against the sons of Greece.”  This defeat of Greece by Israel was partially fulfilled by the Maccabees in the period between 169-135 BC; but the ultimate application is to Israel’s defeat of her Gentile enemies at the end of the Tribulation, and of her dominion over their believing descendants in the Millennium, Greece being used here as representative of all the Gentile nations.

9:14.  “And the Lord shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord God shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.”

This certainly may refer to God’s enablement of the Maccabees in the past, but the ultimate application is to His deliverance of the believing remnant of Israel from the Gentile armies gathered against them towards the end of the Tribulation.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself, returning in power and glory, will destroy their foes.  The lightning speaks of Christ’s swift and deadly power; the trumpet declares it to be a time of battle; and the notoriously destructive power of the whirlwinds from the south will be as nothing compared with that with which the Lord will come against Israel’s foes.

9:15.  “The Lord of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar.”

With His power put forth on their behalf they will be invincible. The modern weapons which are the equivalent of the sling stones of ancient times, will be virtually useless against the Israelites, the completeness of the carnage being likened to the victors’ drinking the blood of their enemies so that they, the victors, will be like bowls filled with wine, or like the corners of the altar drenched with the blood of the animal sacrifices. 

9:16.  “And the Lord their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.”

The RSV renders the latter part of this verse, “... for they are the people of his flock ... like the jewels of a crown they shall shine on his land.”  This continues to emphasize the universal  dominion and glory that will be given Israel in the Millennium.

9:17.  “For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.”

Taylor has translated this verse, “How wonderful and beautiful all shall be!  The abundance of grain and wine will make the young men and girls flourish; they will be radiant with health and happiness.”

The blessedness of Christ’s millennial reign continues to be portrayed here.

[Zechariah 10]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough