MINOR PROPHETS: Zechariah
So now the Lord says this:
In compassion I have returned to Jerusalem;
my Temple will be rebuilt there.
Zechariah preached at the same time as Haggai, and the two prophets share many concerns, like the rebuilding of the Temple destroyed in 587 B.C. Both prophets were remarkably effective on this front. Four years after preaching this (in 520 B.C.), the Temple was completed.
Where Zechariah differs from Haggai is in his delivery. He uses visions to convey his message of conversion. The visions are highly symbolic and somewhat inscrutable. With images of horses, flying scrolls, oil-dripping olive trees, and flying chariots, it’s hard to get at Zechariah’s point. It’s as if he’s setting up a prophetic code that no one but insiders— the Israelites— can understand. Everyone else— pagans and foreigners— is left scratching his or her head. This type of language becomes increasingly common in the last centuries of the Old Testament era, is found in the gospels, and reaches its peak in the apocalyptic style books of Daniel and Revelation.
The visions of Zechariah occupy the first eight chapters of the book. The remaining chapters contain no visions and say nothing about the Temple. Instead, they envision God as a divine warrior who will come and deliver Jerusalem from the hands of foreign nations— in this case, Greece, which reigned supreme in the Near East from 332 B.C. to 175 B.C. The striking contrast between the two sections suggests that the latter was written some 150 years after the first eight chapters. Still, it develops many of the themes of the original Zechariah: the coming of a new age, the cleansing of impurities from the land, and the establishment of Jerusalem as the center of this restored land.
Zechariah, which means “Yahweh remembers” in Hebrew, is the 11th of the Minor Prophets and was written during after the exile in Babylon.