Zechariah 7:1-3. The word of the Lord came unto Zechariah, &c. In this and the next chapter is contained a third and distinct revelation made to Zechariah, about two years after the former; of which the occasion and matter are as follows: A considerable progress having, by this time, been made in the rebuilding of the temple, and affairs going on pretty smoothly, the hopes of the Jewish nation began to revive, and a deputation was sent to inquire of the priests and prophets, whether it was God’s will that they should still observe the fast, which had been instituted on account of the destruction of the city and temple by the Chaldeans. To this inquiry, the prophet is directed in these chapters how to answer; and his answer is given not all at once, but, as it seems, by piece-meal, and at several times. For here are four distinct discourses that have reference to this case. In the fourth day of the ninth month, even in Chisleu This month corresponded with the latter part of our November and the beginning of December. When they had sent The Hebrew verb here used is in the singular number, he had sent, or one had sent: but our translators very properly interpret it plurally, by the figure termed an enallage of the number, which is often used in the Hebrew; and the Vulgate renders it in the same sense. This is understood by some to be spoken of the Jews who still remained in Chaldea; but it seems more probable that those are meant who dwelt in the towns or villages at some distance from Jerusalem. These sent unto the house of God That, is unto the temple, where the building was still carried on with success; Sherezer and Regem-melech Men of note among them; and their men Servants, or persons of less rank, who accompanied them; to pray before the Lord To offer up prayers for themselves and their friends. The temple was the only place where they could offer sacrifices and oblations, to which solemn prayers were always wont to be joined. And to speak unto the priests and prophets It was the office of the priests to resolve any doubts that might arise respecting the worship of God, or any part of his law, whether moral or ceremonial, and the people were commanded to consult them, and to act according to their determination. And since the Prophets Haggai and Zechariah were at this time residing in Jerusalem, it was proper to inquire of them, who might probably give them an immediate answer to their inquiry from God himself. Should I weep in the fifth month The fast in the fifth month was kept because in that month, answering to our month of July, the city and temple were burned by the Chaldeans, 2 Kings 25:8; in memory of which grievous judgment, the people instituted a solemn fast, which, it appears, they had observed from that time until the times here spoken of; refraining from all worldly business and pleasure, and employing themselves in the religious exercise of prayer and humiliation: see Zechariah 12:12-14. The question they now proposed, was, whether it were proper for them still to continue this fast, when the ecclesiastical and civil state was in a great measure restored, and the judgment for which they mourned was removed.
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