[2:1-4 in Hebrew]).l The hostile nations are symbolized here by four horns and the inflicters of divine judgment by four specialist workmen.
I. Assaulters of Zion
The interpreting angel describes the horn-nations as having lifted up the horn against Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem, scattering them so that they could no longer lift up the head (1:18,21[2:1,4]). This language confronts us again with prophetic idiom: the prophets employed the typological situation of their time to represent the antitypical realities of the coming messianic age. Through Zechariah, the Spirit of prophecy speaks beforehand of Christ’s church (cf. 1 Pet. 1:10-12) under the form of the restored covenant community of Judah, centering in Jerusalem on the temple mount.2
The offense of the horn-nations consisted both in putting down the chosen folk and in exalting themselves against the Lord God. Translated into the terms of John’s portrayal of the horned beast in the Apocalypse: they made war against the saints and they blasphemed the name of God (Rev. 13:6,7). We will analyze in turn these two dimensions of their assault on Zion.
A. Enmity Against the Saints: Though the symbol of the four horns appears to be polyvalent, contextual indications suggest that the primary image evoked is simply that of horns borne by animals. Conjured up by the aggressive lifting of the horns (v. 21[2:4]) is an attacking bull, lowering its head and then thrusting its lethal horns upward. The verb used in v. 21[2:4] for frightening away the horns (hrd) is elsewhere used for scaring off birds of prey, lions, and other animals (cf. e.g., Dent. 28:26; Nah. 2:12). Also, the horns are equated with imperial powers hostile to Israel and the metaphor of monstrous beasts, like the multiheaded leviathan, is often applied to such nations in Scripture (cf. e.g., Ps. 74:13,14; Isa. 27:1; Ezek. 29:3).
Comparison with similar symbolism in the book of Daniel confirms the primarily bestial nature of the image of the four horns. In Daniel 7 and 8 the horns of various animals figure conspicuously in the depiction of empires ascendant over the realm covenanted to David. Medo-Persia is symbolized in Daniel 8 by a ram with two horns and Greece by a goat, which begins as a unicorn, then has four horns, one of which sprouts the little horn whose career of antagonism against Zion is an Old Testament adumbration of the final antichrist episode. Daniel 7 presents a series of four bizarre beasts, the last of which, the terrible destroyer whose career terminates in the final judgment, has ten horns plus an eleventh, the little horn that symbolizes the antichrist spirit and program throughout church history. Marking the connection between Zechariah’s horn-nations and the nations represented by the horned animals in Daniel 7 is their common place of origin. It is from the great stormy deep that the four beasts of Daniel 7 emerge (vv. 2,3). And if we appreciate the relationship of the second vision to the first within the unity of Zechariah’s opening triad, we will recognize that the spawning place of the four horn-nations of vision two is the deep, which symbolizes the hostile world in vision one.3
In the first instance then, the horns of Zechariah’s second vision are to be seen as belonging to animals. Indeed, the animal motif apparently extends to the picturing of God’s people, the victims of the horns’ attack, as a flock, a favorite image later in Zechariah (cf. 9:16; 10:2,3; 11:3-17; 13:7). For zrh, the verb denoting the dispersing of Judah (vv. 19,21[2:2,4]), is used for the scattering of sheep (cf. Ps. 44:11; Jer. 31:10). It is noteworthy that the theme of the dispersed flock is found in Zech. 10:1-4, the section on the second side of the over-all diptych structure of the book that corresponds to the second vision on the first side.4 Moreover, the afflicters of the flock are there also animals, goats (10:3), and once again, as in vision two, the Lord in his anger against the animal-powers provides deliverance for his flock (10:3,4).
By itself the image of exalting the horn signifies simply the exertion of power and achievement of success or attainment of glory, while the cutting off and casting down of one’s horn symbolizes defeat and impotence. An equivalent image is that of lifting up the head (bearer of the horns), with its opposite, being unable to lift up the head. Combining the two forms of the metaphor, Zechariah introduces into the meaning of lifting up the horns the specific connotation of ferocity, hostility and tyranny by qualifying the action as an animal-like attack against Judah that devastated it and rendered it helpless. Such then was the offense of the horn-nations: their exaltation involved a malicious trampling of the covenant people into the ground. Coming up from the dark deep at the devil’s instigation, the bestial horn-nations exhibited satanic enmity against the saints.
B. Blasphemy Against the Most High: Inasmuch as the bull-like assault of the nations was directed against Judah, the lifting up of their horns becomes an image of persecuting the godly. But to attack Judah is also to defy the heavenly Protector to whom Judah cried, “How long”? Indeed to march against Jerusalem-Zion (Zech. 1:19[2:2]) is to storm the very mountain stronghold where the holy Lord is enthroned. Hence, the act becomes one of blasphemy against the God of Zion, a lifting up of the horn (or head) in vainglorious challenge to the Most High, an Har-Magedon event.5
Psalm 74 emphasizes this blasphemous dimension of attacking the Lord’s heritage. The situation is much like that in Zechariah’s vision. God’s people, pictured as his flock (vv. 1,2), appeal to him, the one who broke the heads of the leviathan monster (vv. 13,14), to raise them from the ruins wrought by their adversaries (v. 3), who are referred to as animals (vv. 4,19). They lament that the foes “burned your sanctuary to the ground; they defiled the dwelling place of your Name” (v. 7) and they plead, “How long will the enemy mock you, O God?” (v. 10). “Rise up O God, and defend your cause” (v. 22). And in Psalm 75 such defiance of the God of heaven is described by the horn metaphor: “To the arrogant I say, ‘Boast no more,’ and to the wicked, ‘Do not lift up your horns. Do not lift your horns against heaven”‘ (vv. 4,5a [5,6a]).
In the animal-horn symbolism in the Danielic background of Zechariah’s visions the blasphemy aspect is again prominent. The little horn of the goat in Daniel 8 (representing Antiochus Epiphanes) magnifies himself to the hosts of heaven, even to the prince of the host (vv. 10,11,24,25). And the little horn of the fourth beast in Daniel 7 (symbol of the antichrist power in the church age, including the final Har-Magedon) has facial features, eyes and mouth—it is a combined horn-head, and it is lifted up in defiance of heaven, for the mouth spoke great words against the Most High (vv. 8,20,25).
Within Zechariah’s second vision itself the titanic, heaven challenging stance of the nations comes to expression in a second image of lifting up the head-horn, an image evoked by the symbol of the four horns that is different from the one so far considered. In this image the horns no longer rise from the heads or backs of beasts but project upwards from the corners of an altar. This altar image urges itself upon us compellingly for it is the four-horned altar that is usually in view when four horns are mentioned in the Bible (cf. e.g., Exod. 27:2; 30:2; 1 Kgs. 1:50). It accounts at once for the number four. If the symbol is interpreted simply as animal horns, the four can indeed be readily understood as signifying universality, as in the case of the four winds of heaven (Zech. 2:6) or the four chariot-spirits of heaven (Zech. 6:5). But the design of the altar provides a more immediate, concrete explanation of the number four. Also, while we have observed that certain details of the second vision are congruous in an animal scenario, the identification of God’s counteragents against the horns as harashim points naturally (though not necessarily) to a fabricated object like an altar, since that term is most often used for craftsmen of some sort.6 Moreover, as we shall be discussing at length, the four-horned altar structure constituted a lifting up of the head, the action attributed to the horns in Zechariah’s second vision. Interpreters need not choose between the two meanings of the four-horn symbolism. We may simply recognize that certain overtones are added to the basic animal-horn significance of this polyvalent metaphor by the import of the specific image of four animal horns crowning an altar.
Exploration of the symbolism of lifting up the head (horns) leads along a fascinating trail of altars and idols and ziggurats and mountains.7 We start by returning to the roots of Zechariah in the book of Daniel, focusing now on the vision of the world kingdom in the form of the colossus in Daniel 2. Here was a lifting up of the head, the head of gold at the top of the image, representing Nebuchadnezzar and his Babylon in the land of Shinar (vv. 37,38). Manifestations abound of the idolatrous spirit of this head of gold, exalting itself against the Lord God. Daniel 1:2 records that Nebuchadnezzar had carried off to Babylon the captives of Judah and treasures and furnishings of the house of God, which he relocated in the temple of his god. Daniel 3 tells of the gigantic golden idol, with dimensions according to the number of man, whose worship the royal beast and his false prophets demanded. Daniel 4 describes the self-glorying of Nebuchadnezzar as alpha and omega of the Babylonian kingdom (vv. 29,30) and portrays the king as a cosmic tree with its top reaching unto heaven (vv. 11,20). Daniel 5 narrates the judgment on Belshazzar for lifting himself up against the Lord of heaven and promoting the praise of idols (v. 23).
This was a revival of the lifting up of the head (horns) that occurred at Babylon’s beginnings in the land of Shinar (Gen. 11:1-9; cf. Dan. 1:2; Zech. 5:11). Acutely aware of the loss of the original Har-Magedon, the mountain of God in Eden, the cultic focus that gave coherence to the mandated kingdom fulness,8 the ancient Babelites tried to regain humanity’s lost ecumenicity by themselves erecting a cosmic mountain focus in the form of a tower that reached unto heaven.9 The ideology of the Babel enterprise is illuminated by Mesopotamian mythology. The Enuma Elish epic10 attributes the origins of Babylon to the gods at the founding of the world order. In honor of Marduk, their champion, they constructed his temple with its tiered tower, named Esagila. That name is of special interest to our present investigations for it means “the house of the lifting up of the head.” Punning on that name, the text says that after a year of making the bricks for it (cf. Gen. 11:3) “they raised the head of Esagila on high” (Enuma Elish, VI, 62). Also of particular interest for our immediate purposes, the text notes that once Marduk was enthroned there, “they looked up to its horns” (Enuma Elish, VI, 66). The temple tower was crowned with horns. Similarly, ziggurats as later depicted in inscription and bas-relief have horns on the summit. Symbolized by such a crown of horns was the divine power and glory of the resident deities. Elsewhere in iconographic representations of gods they appear with headpieces composed of paired horns, some with four or more horns. One wonders whether such multitiered crowns tapering toward the top imitate ziggurat form. Certainly, like the horns on the ziggurat, they symbolize divine might and majesty, the ultimate lifting up of the head.
Viewed as a whole, a ziggurat represented a mountain. The term11 was used for the summit of a mountain as well as a staged tower. Individual ziggurats had names that identified them more specifically as the cosmic mountain, the axis or access between earth and heaven: house of the mountain, house of the mountain of the universe, house of the link between heaven and earth, and (so the ziggurat at Babylon) house of the foundation of heaven and earth.l2 Ziggurats were then gigantic models of a terraced mountain, the mountain of the gods. By their tiered form with staircase ascents they were intended to serve as a way of ascent and descent between earth and heaven for men and deities. To aspire to fellowship with the living God, to seek access to him in worship and communion, is to appreciate the summum bonum of human existence. In the beginning the Creator provided for such sacramental divine presence and human approach in the mountain of God in Eden and after the Fall he restores this redemptively (cf. Jacob’s staircase to heaven, Sinai, and Zion). But the Babel-tower tradition did not express a longing of the soul for the living and true God and his heaven. It was rather a rebellious attempt of fallen mankind, rejecting in unbelief God’s redemptive offer of restoration, to regain heaven by human works. As a substitute for true religion it was an idolatrous venture, an antichrist affront to true Har-Magedon. It was from Nimrod to Nebuchadnezzar13 a lifting up of the head-horns against the Lord God.
The roots of Zechariah’s symbolism in Daniel reach back to Babel, and this Daniel-Babel source lends support to our seeing an allusion to an altar in the image of the four horns. For there are strong points of correspondence between the altar and the templetower or ziggurat-mountain phenomenon that looms so large in this Daniel-Babel tradition drawn on by Zechariah.
Most obvious is the fact that the altar in Israel’s cult and the ziggurats are alike in being capped by four horns, bronze in each case, which are symbolic of divine power. This correspondence has prompted the inverse identification of the ziggurats as colossal altars.
Secondly, there is evidence that the altar form was a stylized stepped mountain. Thus, in Ezekiel’s prophetic description of the antitypical restoration of the temple on the top of the mountain, the altar is depicted as a tiered structure, the topmost stage having four horn projections (43:13-17). Besides this ziggurat shape of the altar, certain terms in Ezekiel’s description are evocative of the mountainous nature of ziggurats; namely, “the bosom of the earth” (with reference to the bottom of the altar) and “mountain of God” (with particular reference to the top with its four horns), if that is the proper understanding of har’el and ‘ari’el.
This mountain motif is also associated with the particular four-horned altar alluded to in Zechariah’s second vision, which is, of course, not God’s altar but rather one that symbolizes the lifting up of the head by the hostile world power. For Zechariah employs the image of a mountain for that imperial opposition to the restoration of God’s temple (Zech. 4:7; cf. 6:2), identifying it, moreover, in Genesis 11 terms with the land of Shinar (5:11). We shall also see that the fate of the four horns in Zechariah’s vision is reminiscent of that of Babel’s mountain-tower.
The Daniel-Babel connection of Zechariah is clear and it confirms the reference of the symbol of the four horns to an altar, in this case an altar erected by the pagan powers. Illuminated by the Daniel-Babel data, Zechariah’s symbolism is seen to capture the ideological essence of the beast-kingdom in its antichrist, self-deifying defiance of the Lord’s Anointed who reigns on the true Har-Magedon. It was a lifting up of the horn-head in enmity against God’s people and in blasphemous idolatry against God himself.
II. Agents of Vengeance
According to Jeremiah’s reading of the situation, the horn-nations had interpreted perversely their defeat of the covenant people and their dominion over them. Exploiting the fact that Israel and Judah deserved the punishment of exile because they had violated the Lord’s covenant, the captor-nations declared themselves innocent, the instruments of divine justice (Jer. 50:7). Yet in their hearts they were maliciously glad that the Lord’s heritage was destroyed (Jer. 50:11). For this evil God would send destroyers and spoilers against them (Jer. 50:2ff., 9f., 12ff.). In Psalm 75 God declares concerning those who lifted up their horns against heaven (v. 5): “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked” (v. 10).
A. Dragon Slayers: At his disposal the Lord had counteragents to dispatch against the smugly triumphant horn-nations (cf. Zech. 1:15). Zechariah saw them coming forth in the form of four harashim. As previously noted, these are craftsmen with various specialties, often smiths or carpenters. But here they are specialists in dealing with horns, experts in executing judgment—like those called “skillful to destroy” (lit. “craftsmen of destruction”), into whose hands the Lord threatened to deliver the Ammonites (Ezek. 21:31).
The theme of expert artisans in the service of gods is attested in ancient mythology. For example, in the Ugaritic epics, Kothar-and-Hasis (Skilled and Cunning) is the divine craftsman who fashioned two clubs by which Baal overcame adversary Yamm (Sea) and to whose workshop messengers were sent when a house was to be constructed for the victorious deity.
Likewise in the Bible, when God is creating his royal cosmic house, his own divine wisdom is portrayed as the expert builder who designs and superintends the construction (Prov. 8:22ff.). And when, following the Lord’s triumph over the leviathan sea-dragon of Egypt, the tabernacle is being erected as a replica of his creation-palace, God’s Spirit qualifies Bezalel and Oholiab as experts in all kinds of craftsmanship for the enterprise.14 But talents for destruction as well as construction are imparted by the Lord. The psalmist says God had trained his hands for battle (Ps. 18:34) and the judges were gifted by the Spirit to be superheroes, experts at driving the oppressors of Israel from the land (cf. Heb. 11:32-34). Zechariah himself prophesies how God will turn his scorned people into mighty warriors who will trample their enemies (10:5), the feeble becoming like David in battle (12:8).
Other reminders are found in Zechariah that the resources for vengeance and deliverance must and do come from the Lord. In the final night vision it is from the two mountains of brass, the Zion command-post of the Glory-Spirit, that the four chariots advance towards all points of the compass with judgment against the nations (6:1,5). Zechariah 10:1-4 (the section of the “burdens” that parallels the second vision) directs the flock unto the Lord as the source from whom comes corner, peg, battlebow, and leadership for the battle against the foe. From his limitless resources he supplies forces competent to meet and match the enemy and prevail. If there are four horn powers lifted up, there are four counteragents sent, expert at terrifying and casting down (1:21[2:4]). If Babylon lifts up her head (horn) to heaven, yet from the Lord shall come spoilers with judgment that reaches unto heaven (see Jer. 51:9,53).
God’s judgments feature the total reversal, the bringing low of what was high—as prelude to lifting the lowly up on high. Dramatic instances are contained in the Daniel-Babel background of Zechariah’s imagery of lifting up the head (horns). As a result of the descent of the divine Angel and his angelic troops, the Babel project was turned upside down. Instead of the ecumenical coherence they coveted they were cursed with linguistic bewilderment and an intensification of the fracturing and scattering of their society. Where Esagila had raised its head majestically on high, only truncated ruins remained. Likewise in Daniel 2, the impressive colossus with head of gold lifted up in pride to heaven, being smitten by the messianic stone from the mountain, collapsed into dust and disappeared, dispersed by the winds of God. And in Daniel 4, the cosmic tree grown unto heaven, image of Nebuchadnezzar’s greatness, was felled at the command of the holy watchers come down from heaven (vv. 14,22,23; cf. Gen. 11:5,7; 18:21). God’s visitation reduced deified human glory to bestial grovelling. Total reversal.
The actions of God’s experts in Zechariah’s second vision radically reversed the condition of the horn-nations in two respects. As reported by the surveillance troop those nations were at rest, arrogantly secure (Zech. 1:11,15), but the coming of God’s avengers filled them with alarm and scattered them in a panic of terror.15 Second, the heavenly agents cast down the horns that had been raised high against the residents of Zion, and against its divine Resident. Though the verb for “cast down” is not well attested16 and various emendations have been suggested, the immediate context and the sources behind this vision call for the idea of bringing low the lofty and accordingly most of the suggested textual changes involve verbs for cutting down and the like. Jeremiah uses this image: “the horn of Moab is cut off” (Jer. 48:25). A more complete parallel is the Lord’s threat through Amos: “On the day I visit the altars of Bethel with judgment, the horns of the altar will be cut off and fall to the ground” (3:14). This motif of reversing the enemy’s dominant status reappears repeatedly in Zechariah. Instances within the visions are 2:9(13), where Babylon, spoiler of Zion, becomes a spoil to its former victims, and 4:7, where the great mountain of the hostile world lifted up to heaven is levelled into a plain.
The horn-nations missed the message that Israel’s destruction held for them: “Behold, I begin to work evil at the city which is called by my name; and will you go utterly unpunished? You will not go unpunished, for I will summon a sword upon the inhabitants of the earth, declares Yahweh of hosts” (Jer. 25:29; cf. 1 Pet. 4:17). In the design of the ages, Israel under its covenant of works brought into focus the picture of all mankind in Adam under the original covenant of works. Let the nations of the ungodly consider the fate of Israel and see in Jerusalem’s desolation the divine vengeance that will inevitably overtake them all as covenant-breakers in Adam, except they repent.
Through their own role of inflicting divine judgment on Israel, God was warning the horn-nations of their own impending doom. Why the Mosaic economy? Why Israel? Part of the answer is that old covenant history, especially its termination in the destruction of Jerusalem, was calculated to sound an alarm in a world oblivious to the wrath to come, and so capture the attention of the Gentiles for the church’s witness to Jesus Christ and the way of escape offered in the gospel. Let them know that the fall of Jerusalem is, typologically, the beginning of the end of the world. Let them be advised that the anointed prince who sent his armies and destroyed the holy city and temple (Dan. 9:26) is the one by whom God will judge the world in righteousness on the day he has appointed (Acts 17:30,31).
Zechariah’s four experts at executing judgment (vision two) act as the agents of the messianic rider of the red horse (vision one). Their mission of casting down the horns symbolically portrays the mission of Christ as the great dragon slayer. He comes to destroy the devil, the monstrous red dragon having seven crowned heads and ten horns (Heb. 2:14,15; Rev. 12:3). Already Christ with his angel army has prevailed, driving the dragon out of heaven (Rev. 12:7-11) and binding him in the bottomless pit for a season (Rev. 20:1-3; cf. Luke 11:29; Isa. 49:24,25). And on the coming day of the Son of Man he will consummate his work of vengeance against the dragon and the beast-powers (they too with heads and horns lifted up against heaven and the saints), hurling them down into the sea of fire forever (Rev. 20:10; cf. 19:20).
B. Precursors of Zion’s Glory: After the threat, “I will cut off the horns of all the wicked,” Psalm 75 closes with the promise, “but the horns of the righteous will be lifted up” (v. 10). The great redemptive reversal goes beyond the destruction of the currently exalted world power. Daniel 2 does not stop with the collapse of the colossus. It goes on to tell how, after demolishing the great image, the small stone from mount Zion is transformed into an exceedingly great mountain, the eschatological Zion, a cosmic mountain with which earthly empires can no longer co-exist. Isaiah foretold the same: at the end of the days, when the Lord has put an end to nations lifting up swords against nations, the mountain of the house of God will be established as the highest of all, the focus of global pilgrimage (2:2-4).
This sequel to the casting down of the horn-nations is not presented within Zechariah’s second vision, but in vision three. There the rebuilding of Jerusalem on a universal scale is prophesied.17 Vision two presents the necessary precursor: the driving away of the nations occupying Israel’s territory.
Like vision two, vision six (its parallel in the structural chiasm) focuses on the holy land and portrays the clearing away of the unclean (5:1-11), the prelude to the perfecting of God’s holy reign (vision seven). Similarly, Zech. 13:2-9 (the corresponding passage to vision six in the “burdens”) deals with the removal of impurity from the land preliminary to the inauguration of the eternal theocratic order (Zech. 14). The scope of vision five is broader; it presents not just the prelude judgment but the whole reversal pattern of heads cast down and heads lifted up. It declares that the lofty world-mountain’s fate is to be flattened into a plain (4:7a), then immediately adds the victorious announcement that the messiah-figure (Zerubbabel) will bring forth the capstone in completion of God’s house of glory (4:7b). Satan’s Esagila-Olympus will fall and the true Har-Magedon of the Lord’s Anointed will lift up its head. Messiah’s hands lay the foundations of the temple and, after he overthrows the dragon, his hands finish the holy construction (4:10). Then the triumphant cry sounds at the gates of the holy city: “Lift up your heads that the king of glory may come in.” Hail Zion’s royal architect and artisan, its divine author and finisher!
The mission of the four expert exterminators is the first act in the parousia of the rider on the red horse, precursor of God’s taking up his permanent dwelling in the midst of his people gathered out of all the nations into their restored heritage. The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and obey not the gospel, who shall suffer eternal destruction when he comes to be glorified in his saints (cf. 2 Thess 1:7-10).
The saints praise God as the One who lifts up their head-horn. “My horn is exalted in the Lord” (1 Sam. 2:1). “You, O Lord . . . are the lifter up of my head” (Ps. 3:3). “You [O Lord] have lifted up my horn like that of the wild ox” (Ps. 92:10).
God is also praised as the one who exalts the horn of the Messiah. ”[The Lord] will give strength to his king; he will lift up the horn of his anointed” (1 Sam. 2:10; cf. Pss. 89:17,18[18,19]; 148:14). Psalm 110 celebrates this eschatological event. It is Messiah’s head that is exalted in victory (v. 7b), whether we understand the subject of the action to be Yahweh, swearer of the oath (vv. 1,4) or Messiah himself, David’s Lord (v. 1), recipient of the sworn appointment as priest-king forever. And either way it is the Lord who lifts up the head. This psalm displays the full pattern of the great reversal, for the Lord’s striking down heads in his wrath against the nations (v. 6) is the precursor to the lifting up of his own head in glory (v. 7).
Referring to Jesus, Zechariah (father of John) blesses God because “he has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David” (Luke 1:68,69). Christ Jesus is the lifting up of the head-horn; it is in him, its head, that the church’s horn is exalted. He is the original that was counterfeited in Babel’s Esagila ziggurat (cf. Deut. 30:12,13; Rom. 10:6,7). He is the true mountain stairway to God and gate of heaven (cf. Gen. 28:12-17; John 1:51), the true altar and tabernacle, the true and only way to the heavenly Father. Jesus is the head lifted up. For God “raised him from the dead and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come; and hath put all things under his feet and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all” (Eph. 1:20-23).
Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary,
South Hamilton, Massachusetts
Westminster Theological Seminary in California,
* The present literary-theological reflections on Zechariah’s night visions resume previous studies presented in Kerux 5:2 (Sept. 1990), pp. 2-20; 5:3 (Dec. 1990), pp. 9-28; 6:1 (May 1991). pp. 16-31: and 6:2 (Sept. 1991), pp. 23-42.
1. The third vision (2:1-13[5-17]) resumes the other theme found in the closing oracle of vision one, namely, the restoration and perfecting of God’s kingdom under the new covenant.
2. The additional term “Israel” in v. 19[2:2] may identify post-exilic Judah as the continuation of the ancient nation of God. Otherwise, it broadens the historical range of the typological allusion to include the subjugation of the northern kingdom.
3. See Kerux 5:2 (Sept. 1990), p. 18 for comments on this imagery of a beast-kingdom arising out of the sea in Revelation 13. There, the marine source of the seven-headed, ten-horned draconic composite of Daniel’s beasts signifies that it is a product of Satan’s counterfeit creation efforts. In that same article other correspondences were noted between Daniel and Zechariah. A cluster of parallels between Daniel and the context of Zechariah’s vision of the horns is discussed by Paul A. Porter (Metaphors and Monsters: A Literary-Critical Study of Daniel 7 and 8 [Lund, 1983], pp. 65-66), but he misdates, reversing the relationship between the prior Daniel and later Zechariah.
4. The correspondences noted here corroborate the analysis given in my “The Structure of the Book of Zechariah.” JETS 34:2 (June 1991), p. 191.
5. Perhaps there is a deliberate ambiguity in the use of ‘el (1:21[2:4]), which can mean “unto a limit” as well as “against”, thus allowing the idea that the upward thrust of the horn-nations was unto the mountainous heights of Judah, and even up to Zion’s peak.
6. R. M. Good (“Zechariah’s Second Night Vision [Zech. 2:1-4]”, Biblica 63:1 , pp. 56-59) grants that the altar belongs to the implicative field of the four-horns metaphor, but perceiving the bucolic setting as primary, he interprets harashim (on the basis of a different parsing) as ploughman, who chase the horned animals back to their folds (lydwt being treated as preposition plus plural of yad, used for animal folds). He is obliged, however, to reject as a mistaken interpretive gloss all the rest of v. 21[2:4] after lydwt.
7. A mere sketch of all this as I presently perceive it must do, with acknowledgment of the lack of consensus on many a detail.
8. Cf. Kerux 5:3 (Dec. 1990), p. 20; 6:2 (Sept. 1991), pp. 32,35-36.
9. The continuity of the Daniel 2 and Genesis 11 situations is further evidenced in the coherence ideal by which the kingdoms are evaluated in Daniel 2.
10. Cf. Alexander Heidel, The Babylonian Genesis: the Story of the Creation (University of Chicago, 1951). On ziggurats, cf. Andre Parrot, The Tower of Babel (Philosophical Library, 1955).
11. It comes from zaqaru, “be high”, “raised up”.
12. Agreeably, the Babylonian-Sumerian name of the city meant “gate of god”.
13. Accenting the revival of Babel in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar is Jeremiah’s identification of Babylon in ziggurat mountain terms as a “destroying mountain” that “mounts up to heaven” (51:25,53).
14. See Exod. 35:30ff. Cf. my The Structure of Biblical Authority (Grand Rapids, 1975), pp. 86-87. The tabernacle belongs with the altar and ziggurat in the series of reproductions of the cosmic mountain of God. It was a portable Sinai, with the three vertical zones of base, mid-mountain, and summit (accessible respectively to the people, elders-priests, and Moses [cf. Exod. 24:1,2]) laid horizontal (with court open to the people, holy place to the priests, and holy of holies to the high priest). Cf. my Images of the Spirit (Grand Rapids, 1980), pp. 37-41. Noah’s ark is another mountain-house of God structure with the vertical sectioning of the latter replicated in the three-story design of this cosmic house. Cf. my Kingdom Prologue (S. Hamilton, 1991), pp. 139-40.
15. See comments above on the use of hrd for scaring away predatory animals.
16. In Lam. 3:53 it is used for casting down stones from above on Jeremiah in the pit below.
17. See comments in the introduction on the unity of the first three visions. Perhaps harash with its common meaning “craftsman” was selected for the agents of judgment in vision two in anticipation of the imagery of the measurer-builder in vision three.