Zechariah 9. Two Kings Come to Jerusalem.
Key Notes: Description of an un-named conqueror. Destruction of Tyre as a clue. Comparison of two great kings entering Jerusalem.
This chapter is not easily understood in a straight-forward reading. It contains the important prophecy of the Christ, the King coming to Jerusalem. (9:9). It is possible to ignore the first part of the chapter, focusing on this primary reference. However, the first eight verses describe the coming of another king, and this permits us to compare two kings. There are also hints of a third king in the second half of the chapter.
9:1–8 This section prophesies an unnamed conqueror’s march south through cities of the Middle East.
The march goes through Damascus, and then to the Mediterranean coast of Lebanon (Tyre and Sidon), and through four of the five cities of Philistia—Ashkelon, Gaza, Ekron and Ashdod. Gath is omitted presumably because it had come under control of Judah (I Chron. 18:1). The march ends at Jerusalem, which God promised to protect.
9:1–2 The prophet points out that God owns Syria (Hadrach, an ancient city near Aleppo in northern Syria. and Damascus) as much as Israel, and therefore what is done to it is under His control.
9:3–4 Tyre is singled out for special attention because of its tremendous wealth, wisdom and security. Ezekiel 28 describes the king of Tyre as being almost supernatural—like Satan before his fall—destroyed by his pride. Tyre was destined for destruction as prophesied by Ezekiel 26. The city had been attacked by the Assyrians, who failed to conquer it. Ezekiel prophesied that the Babylonian Nebuchadnezzar’s attack would also fail. (Ezek. 29:17–20). The Persians also were unable to subdue Tyre.
Which conqueror is referred to here and what happened when he arrived at Tyre? The reason for the military failures was that Tyre had an island in its harbor that was isolated from the mainland. It was a highly fortified port and had access to the other countries of the Mediterranean for its supplies. With its great wealth, it could sustain itself under siege for years. So the Assyrians and the Babylonians besieged Tyre and ravaged the mainland city but could not capture the island citadel. The Persians also took the mainland of Tyre, but it remained for Alexander the Great of Greece to finally destroy the city. Therefore, we believe that it is Alexander’s invasion that is the subject of this prophecy in Zech. 9:1–8.
Alexander took the rubble of Tyre and dumped it into the harbor, making a causeway to the island fortress. He totally destroyed it. It became a bare rock, a place for the spreading of nets. (Ezek. 26:14). Pictures taken in the’20’s show fishermen still drying their nets on the rock.
We might wonder why this much prophetic time is spent on one small city, but Tyre is a model of human perfection—economically, strategically, and intellectually superb. Ezekiel 26–28 is a breath-taking account of the city of Tyre and its king that is quite beyond imagination. It is a warning against every marvelous city that exalts itself against God. New York City was labeled "the Imperial City" before 9/11/2001.
9:5–8 Philistia will now lose its ethnic identity. Some of its people will be incorporated into Israel, as the Jebusites were after David conquered Jerusalem.
9:8 But God promises to protect Jerusalem against the invader. What happened when Alexander got to Jerusalem is reported by Josephus, a Jewish historian of the First Century.
Alexander, while still at the siege of Tyre, sent a letter to the Jews demanding their loyalty. They had previously pledged themselves to Darius the Mede, but when they saw that he was defeated by the Greeks, they changed their minds. The high priest had a dream in which God told him to go out to Alexander. The people did go out to greet Alexander in white robes, with the priests in their beautiful vestments. Alexander approached them on foot and went to the Temple to offer sacrifice. His troops were amazed that he did not kill the people and torture the High Priest, but he advised them that God had shown him the high priest in his vestments in a dream and told him to refrain. The Jews then showed Alexander the prophecy of Daniel (Dan. 8) in which the Greeks were prophesied to defeat the Persians, and he was pleased to be considered that person. [It is suggested by Josephus’ history that God intervened on both sides to assure the peace of Jerusalem.]
(Antiquities of the Jews. F. Josephus; Vol. III Bk. XI, pp. 142–145. Baker,’74)
9:9–10 Now Zechariah introduces us to another king, who will come into Jerusalem on a donkey. He will bring peace and rule the world. Matthew and John tell us that Jesus is this king. (Matt. 21:5; Jn. 12:15). Both of them leave out verse 10, describing the end of warfare and His universal reign. We believe this part of the prophecy remains for the future.
Much has been made of Jesus riding the donkey. It was the animal that carried princes and kings in the early days of Israel . (Judges 5:10; 10:4). Donkeys were provided to David and his company when he fled from Absalom. (II Sam. 15:2). David arranged for Solomon to ride his own mule in his inauguration parade. (I K. 1:33). Horses and chariots were for war. In later years the kings rode on chariots (II K. 9:16, 21, 27; 10:15) or horses. (Jer. 17:25). When Jesus returns the second time, He will not come on a donkey, but as a warrior on a horse. (Rev.’:11)
Both Alexander and Christ came to Jerusalem as kings.
Both were universal conquerors; but died in their early 30’s.
Both came to Jerusalem peacefully and the people asked to be saved.
One came with the blood of hundreds of thousands on his hands.The other went with His own blood into the presence of God. Heb. 9:1.
Both went to the Temple. Alexander came as a suppliant, but Jesus took command of the Temple and denounced the priests for their commercialism. Jn.2:13-
Alexander was sought out by the Jews. Jesus was sought out by Greeks. Jn. 12:20
Alexander died of his own sins. Jesus died for the sins of the world.
One thought he was a god. One was God.
9:11 It is Jesus who will say, “…because of the blood of My covenant with you, I will set your captives free from the waterless pit. Return to your stronghold, O prisoners of hope; today I declare that I will restore to you double.”
9:13 “I will brandish your sons, O Zion, over your sons, O Greece.” This probably refers to the wars that the Jews (Maccabees) fought successfully against the Greek Seleucids. Antiochus Epiphanes was the Greek who tormented Israel.
9:14–17 This passage probably refers to the final battles that are elaborated in the final chapters 12–14. God will appear over them and protect them. They will triumph over their enemies. The Lord will save them like jewels for a crown. It will be a beautiful time, the Millennial Kingdom.
The singular hidden event prophesied here is that Alexander the Great will come to Jerusalem in peace. That is a miracle that is almost universally overlooked. Slaughter and pillage and rape were the usual agenda of this overwhelming Greek force. Alexander comes to the Temple as a supplicant! Nobody noticed? Everybody knows the story of the sack of Tyre. No one notices the salvation of Israel--partly because we have to find it in non-biblical sources.
There are four kings whose exploits are mentioned in this chapter. None of them are named.
Alexander the Great is the first, having conquered Tyre about 332BC. The prophetic word has moved on from the Persian period to the Greek, with Alexander on the march. Alexander's exploits are matched with those of Christ, who will come to Jerusalem on very different terms (30AD).
The third king is the Greek tyrant Antiochus Epiphanes, who will try to paganize Palestine (171BC) and will be defeated by the Maccabees.
The fourth king is Christ again, whose final dominion is predicted in 9:10b and 9:16–17. His reign is still to be consummated.
In these four prophecies we have an example of what is called "telescoping". It is the prophet seeing events at a distance as if they were mountain peaks. There are many instances of Christ's first advent and His second mentioned close together, for example.
"Unto us a child is born, unto us a Son is given and the government shall be upon His shoulders....Of the increase of his government and of peace there shall be no end...from this time forth and even forever more." Isa.9:6–7
The descriptions in this chapter come back and forth without a clear time line. So the prophecy goes from 332BC (Alexander) to 30AD (Christ) , and back to 171BC (Antiochus Epiphanes) again and then off into the distant future (Christ's Epiphany).
"On that day the Lord their God will save them
for they are the flock of His people;
They shall shine in His land.
Yea, how good and how fair it shall be!"
Our Lord, Come!