Zechariah 3:8. Hear now, O Joshua, and thy fellows that sit before thee The angel directs his speech to Joshua and his assessors, or assistants in council. “Possibly these may have been some of those who were called chief priests; who, though subordinate to the high-priest, were entitled by their rank to assist in his councils.” Blayney. The rabbins call these, of whom doubtless Zerubbabel was one, the heads of the captivity, and the men of the great synagogue, by whom they suppose the Jewish affairs, both ecclesiastical and civil, to have been settled after the captivity, and the canon of the Old Testament to have been completed. The angel bespeaks their attention to what follows, as containing matter of great importance. For they are men wondered at Hebrew, מופת המה אנשׁי , men of wonder, or, men of sign are they: men intended for signs or tokens, or typical men, as some render the phrase. Thus Isaiah, walking naked and barefoot, was for a sign and wonder, or rather a type or example, to Egypt and Ethiopia, Isaiah 20:3; that is, a sign, or emblem, that they should be carried away without covering. So Ezekiel, in digging through the wall, &c., (as commanded chap. Zechariah 12:7-12,) and in not mourning for his wife, Ezekiel 24:24, was to be a sign, type, or emblem, to the Jews: in all which passages the same word, מופת , is used in the original. To this sense the Vulgate translates it here, viri portendentes, men foreshowing, namely, something to come, that is, the men that composed this council, with Joshua at the head of them, were an emblem, or figure, of the restoration of the church, under the government of the Messiah. Their wonderful deliverance from the Babylonish captivity; the fortitude and resolution which they manifested in returning to Jerusalem, when it lay in ruins; their perseverance amidst the various difficulties, hardships, and perils, which they had to encounter on their journey, and when they arrived in Judea; their preservation among their numerous, powerful, and inveterate enemies; not only rendered them objects of wonder to many, but proper types of the deliverance, restoration, and preservation of the church of God under the Messiah.
The next clause points out the person, of whom Joshua was to be a figure; as the verse following does those of whom his companions were to be representatives, or signs. For behold, I will bring forth my servant the BRANCH Namely, the Messiah, to whom this title, the BRANCH, is often given in the prophets, as descended from the stock of David: see the places referred to in the margin; in all which the word in the original is צמח , tsemach, as here; and all which texts the Chaldee explains of the Messiah; who is elsewhere called God’s servant in an eminent sense, because he was sanctified and sent into the world upon a message of the highest importance. Some, indeed, would explain this passage, and Zechariah 6:12, of Zerubbabel; but, as Dr. Blayney justly observes, there is no reasonable ground to conclude that he is designed in either place. “It is true he was a descendant from David, and appointed under the authority of the kings of Persia to be a subordinate governor of the Jews who returned from Babylon, and in that capacity he presided, and took an active part with Joshua the high-priest, and with the chief of the fathers, in forwarding the building of the temple. But there surely does not appear, in what we know of his character or performances, any thing to merit the particular notice imagined to be here taken of him. The same person must needs be intended here as is spoken of under the same title Jeremiah 23:5; nor is it conceivable that terms so magnificent as those used in this latter place especially can be applicable to one of so limited power and authority as Zerubbabel enjoyed. Besides, it is evident that the Branch is promised as one that was to come, or be brought forth, and not as one that had already enjoyed his estate, such as it was, for many years past. In short, for these and for many other reasons, it may be concluded against Zerubbabel; and, I think, against any other of less consequence than the great Messiah himself, through whom alone iniquity is put away, and the reign of perfect peace and righteousness is to be established: compare Psalms 132:17; Isaiah 4:2; Jeremiah 33:15-16.” The word which here, and in the places above referred to, is translated Branch, is by the LXX. rendered Ανατολη , the east, or sun-rising, from whence it is applied to Christ, Luke 1:78, and is translated there the day-spring. Hence the name of Oriens was probably given to the supposed king of the Jews by the Roman writers: see Tacit. Hist., lib. 5. cap. 13.
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