[b-hebrew] Zech 1:19,21

Steve Miller smille10 at sbcglobal.net
Thu Apr 19 23:42:04 EDT 2007

> From: George Athas
> >> The four horns represent the four kingdoms - Babylonia, Persia/Medea,
> >> Greece, Rome, - that would persecute Israel, until the final
> >> Maschiach; the four carpenters  are the successive conquerers who
> >> would conquer these  kingdoms.  The fourth and final conquerer will
> >> be Mashiach.
> >>
> >> Shoshanna
> >>
> >>
> > [Steve Miller]
> > Thanks Shoshanna. This is the standard Christian explanation also. I did
> not
> > know that it came from Jewish sources
> I dare say that there is no 'standard Christian explanation' on this. It
> certainly may be a popular explanation, but is by no means the 'standard'
> one.

[Steve Miller] thank you, George. I stand corrected.

> The context of the image is 520 BC (before Greece and Rome). It would seem
> a
> more natural reading of the text to suggest the four horns are symbolic of
> international powers in general. Four is often symbolic for 'the whole
> world' (cf. the four patrolling horsemen) and 'horns' are symbols of
> strength. To identify four specific powers (one for each horn) is, I
> think,
> going beyond the context. You could read four specific powers back into
> the
> image with a few more centuries of hindsight, but this does not seem to be
> Zechariah's intention.
> In any case, the Persians seems to come out ok in most biblical
> literature,
> including Zechariah. I don't think we can really talk about the Persians
> persecuting the post-exilic community. They do not seem to have come
> 'against the land of Judah to scatter its people' (1.21 [Heb 2.3]). Such a
> view would not only go against what we know historically, but would also
> cut
> against the grain of the literature in question. This therefore puts a
> dent
> in the suggestion that Persia is one of the horns.
> I think a specific identification of four powers here is influenced by
> readings of Daniel. It seems to be trying to get a uniformity of four
> historical persecuting entities across all biblical literature which, in
> my
> opinion, steamrolls the particular concerns, motifs, and devices of each
> individual book. Furthermore, Daniel represents a more fully-blown
> apocalyptic style, while Zech 1-6 is more incipient in it apocalypticism
> (proto-apocalyptic?). We have to be careful, then, about our interpretive
> methodologies for each respective work.

[Steve Miller] I agree. The same method is also popularly used in applying
Daniel's 4 kingdoms to the 4 kinds of locusts in Joel, with worse results.

I don't think it adds anything to Zechariah's message to match the 4 horns
to 4 specific kings or kingdoms. It better represents all the nations, or
the nations in all 4 directions. But I have tried to match them up, and the
best I could do is: Babylon (Zech 2), Greece (Zech 9), Rome (Zech 11), and
all nations at the end of the age (Zech 12-14).

However, the 4 chariots of horses in Zech 6:1-8, each of a different color,
and going in specified directions, are not general, as the 4 horns seem to
be. They are the consummation of the 4 horsemen in Rev 6:1-8, where each
color is explained.

Steve Miller

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