Zechariah 5 – “Two More Visions”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
Zechariah has visions of a flying scroll and a magical pot.

II. Photo
Zechariah has a vision: “’What do you see?’ he asked. And I replied, ‘A flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.’” (v. 2)

III. Select Verses
1-4: I looked up again, and I saw a flying scroll.  “What do you see?” he asked. And I replied, “A flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.”  “That,” he explained to me, “is the curse which goes out over the whole land. For everyone who has stolen, as is forbidden on one side [of the scroll], has gone unpunished; and everyone who has sworn [falsely], as is forbidden on the other side of it, has gone unpunished.  [But] I have sent it forth — declares the LORD of Hosts — and [the curse] shall enter the house of the thief and the house of the one who swears falsely by My name, and it shall lodge inside their houses and shall consume them to the last timber and stone.”
7-11: And behold, a disk of lead was lifted, revealing a woman seated inside the tub.  “That,” he said, “is Wickedness”; and, thrusting her down into the tub, he pressed the leaden weight into its mouth. I looked up again and saw two women come soaring with the wind in their wings — they had wings like those of a stork — and carry off the tub between earth and sky.  “Where are they taking the tub?” I asked the angel who talked with me. And he answered, “To build a shrine for it in the land of Shinar; [a stand] shall be erected for it, and it shall be set down there upon the stand.”

IV. Outline
1-4. Vision of a flying scroll and its interpretation
5-11. Vision of a lead tub, a sitting woman, and two women with wings

V. Comment
Chapter 5 relates two vision reports, the first about a scroll and the second about a lead vessel that is brought to the land of Shinar. Where is the land of Shinar? Davila writes that Shinar is “a name for the region of Babylonia (Gen 10:10). It can be called either the “land of Shinar” or simply “Shinar.” The first mention of the “land of Shinar” (Gen 10:10…) calls it the mainstay or beginning of the kingdom of Nimrod. In it were found the cities Babel (Babylon), Accad (Agade), Erech (Uruk), and possibly Calneh. According to Gen 11:2 the early human race settled in a valley in the “land of Shinar” and began to build the abortive Tower of Babel. Abraham had a hostile encounter with a coalition of four kings, one of whom was “Amraphel king of Shinar” (Gen 14:1, 9). When the Israelites were thwarted in their conquest of Ai because Achan had stolen some of the “devoted things,” one of the items he stole was a (presumably valuable) “cloak of Shinar” (Josh 7:21). An oracle in the book of Isaiah promises that a remnant of Yahweh’s people will be returned from many places, including “Shinar” (Isa 11:11). After the Exile the prophet Zechariah saw a vision in which the sin of the people, personified as a woman, is transported to the “land of Shinar” in an ephah (a large container) and set up in a temple there (Zech 5:11). The book of Daniel relates that Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, removed some of the vessels from the temple of God in Jerusalem and took them to the “land of Shinar,” where he placed them in the temple treasury of his own god (Dan 1:2).
“The meaning of Shinar is clear from the biblical references. It is the area known to the Mesopotamians as “the land of Sumer and Akkad,” corresponding to the portion of modern Iraq S of Baghdad. This meaning is confirmed by the LXX, Targum Onqelos, and the Genesis Apocryphon. All three sometimes translate “Shinar” as Babylon(ia).
“The question of the origin of the name “Shinar” is more difficult. It first appears in Egypt in the 15th century B.C.E. as Sngr. In cuneiform texts of roughly the same period it is SÁanh˙aru. One suggestion is that Shinar is derived from “Sumer.” This identification, however, is phonologically impossible, since it cannot explain the origin of the third consonant ({ayin, original géayin), which never appears in any form of “Sumer.” A more plausible etymology has recently been proposed by Ran Zadok (1984). He believes that Shinar derives from cuneiform Samh˙aru®, apparently the name of a Kassite tribe. The Kassites were rulers of Babylon during the period when the term “Shinar” was used in Egyptian and cuneiform sources. There is no strong phonological objection to this etymology, and it may be that peoples W of the Euphrates generalized the name of a familiar Kassite tribe until it became a term for the whole region of Babylonia. Such generalizations are common. For example, the Greeks called themselves “Hellenes,” but the Roman word for them was “Greeks,” Graeci, Graii, after a Hellene tribal name or geographical location.”  (“Shinar (Place), Anchor Bible Dictionary, 5:1,220)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Photo taken from http://www.johnpratt.com/items/docs/lds/meridian/2003/images/scroll.jpg