Zechariah lived at the same time as the prophet Haggai. As with Haggai, we know very little about Zechariah other than what we find in Ezra 5:1,6:14. Zechariah’s prophecies date from 520-518 BCE. Recall that the Babylonians conquered Judah and exiled many of the residents. The Babylonians were conquered by the Persians. The Persian king Cyrus allows the exiles to return home and supported the rebuilding of the Temple. There were disagreements about religious and political matters between the returning exiles and those who had stayed behind. Zechariah’s prophecy occurs before the re dedication of the Temple in 515 BCE.
We can attribute the first 8 chapters to the prophet Zechariah. Zechariah’s message is not as focused as Haggai. While he shared Haggai’s interest in rebuilding the Temple, Zechariah is also concerned about the community and the coming of the messianic age. Zechariah 1-8 contains 8 visions along with speeches. No other prophetic book has as many visions. The visions contain three main themes: activity between heaven and earth, a world of movement, and a universal perspective. Zechariah’s style of prophecy is different from Haggai’s.
Chapters 9-14 are not believed to be the work of Zechariah. Scholars think these chapters are from a later time, perhaps from the time of the Greeks. However the text itself does not offer dates or names. The vocabulary, style and theology in these chapters are different than the first 8 chapters of the book. Chapters 9-14 have two main sections, 9-11 and 12-14. Chapters 9-11 tend to focus on the Lord as divine warrior and 12-14 focus on the day of the Lord.
Outline, following Petersen
I. 1:1-8:23 Visions and Oracles of Restoration:
A. 1:1-6:8 Visions
B. 7:1-8:23 Oracles
II. 9:1-14:21 Oracles about the Future
A. 9:1-11:17 First Oracle
B.12:1-14:21 Second Oracle
Read More About It:
Here are several good sources to aid your reading of Zechariah.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Ollenberger, Ben C., “Zechariah” in The New Interpreter’s Bible Vol 7, Keck, Leander E. ed. (Nashville: Abingdon Press) 1996.
Petersen, David L. “Zechariah” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with Apocrypha: New Revised Standard Version.Coogan, Michael D.; Brettler, Marc Z.; Perkins, Pheme; Newsom, Carol A. (2010-01-20) Oxford University Press. Kindle Edition.
Petersen, David L. “Zechariah” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.