Zechariah 7 – “God Criticizes the People”

Hebrew-English Text
I. Summary
God tells the people to keep fasting and blames them for their exile.

II. Photo
God parrots the people: “Just as when [God] called they would not listen, ‘So,’ said the Lord of Hosts, ‘let them call and I will not listen.’” (v. 13)

III. Select Verses
5-7: Say to all the people of the land and to the priests: When you fasted and lamented in the fifth and seventh months all these seventy years, did you fast for my benefit? And when you eat and drink, who but you does the eating, and who but you does the drinking?  Look, this is the message that the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets, when Jerusalem and the towns about her were peopled and tranquil, when the Negeb and the Shephelah were peopled.
9-10: Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Execute true justice; deal loyally and compassionately with one another. Do not defraud the widow, the orphan, the stranger, and the poor; and do not plot evil against one another.
11-12: But they refused to pay heed. They presented a balky back and turned a deaf ear. They hardened their hearts like adamant against heeding the instruction and admonition that the LORD of Hosts sent to them by His spirit through the earlier prophets; and a terrible wrath issued from the LORD of Hosts.
14: I dispersed them among all those nations which they had not known, and the land was left behind them desolate, without any who came and went. They caused a delightful land to be turned into a desolation.

IV. Outline

1-3. Introduction
    1. Time period
    2-3. A message for God
4-7. Oracle #1
    4. Introduction
    5-7. God tells the people to fast
8-14. Oracle #2
    8. Introduction
    9-10. Live with kindness and fairness
    11-13. The people ignored God
    14. God exiled the people and desolated their land

V. Comment
Chapter 7 begins with people asking about the fast of the seventh month. In fact, Smith points out that fasting is a common theme in the book of Zechariah: “Four different fasts are mentioned by Zechariah: one in the fourth month (8:18), the fifth month (7:3; 8:18), the seventh month (7:5, 8:18), and the tenth month (8:18). Zechariah does not identify the specific day of each of these tour months on which the fasts were held or the occasion(s) commemorated by the fasts. Ackroyd (207) suggests that the fast of the tenth month was in memory of the siege of Jerusalem in 588 BC (cf 2 Kgs 25:1). The fast of the fourth month probably commemorated the capture of Jerusalem in 587 BC (cf 2 Kgs 25:2–3; Jer 39:2). The fast of the fifth month was for the burning of the temple in 587 BC (2 Kgs 25:8), and the fast of the seventh month was probably for remembering the assassination of Gedaliah, the governor of Judah after the fall of Jerusalem (2 Kgs 25:25; Jer 41:1–2). However, the fast of the seventh month could refer to the Day of Atonement.” (222-223)

VI. Works Used
(see “Commentaries” page)
Collins, John J. “Introduction to the Hebrew Bible,” (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 2004).
Smith, Ralph L. “Micah – Malachi” World Biblical Commentary v. 32 (Word Books: 1984).
Photo taken from http://img528.imageshack.us/img528/3294/headachexm6.gif

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