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You will find an introduction and outline to Zechariah here.

Here is a prayer from the Book of Common Worship to use before reading.

God our helper, by your Holy Spirit, open our minds, that as the Scriptures are read and your Word is proclaimed, we may be led into your truth and taught your will, for the sake of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Outline, following Petersen

I. 1:1-8:23 Visions and Oracles of Restoration:

A. 1:1-6:8 Visions:

4:1-14 The fifth vision is verses 1-5 and 10b-14. Verses 6-1-a are an oracle. Zechariah sees a lampstand ( lampstands like this have been found by archaeologists) The two trees/anointed ones are the civil leader and the high priest, in this context Joshua and Zerubbabel. The oracle claims that Zerubbabel will, by God’s spirit, build the Temple.See also Rev 11:3,4 for a reference back to this text.

5:1-4 Sixth Vision: The scroll is likely unrolled. It was unusual for a scroll to be written on both sides. God will still punish evildoers over the entire world.

5:5-11 Seventh Vision: A woman in a basket. Scholar’s say that this is a difficult to understand, even bizarre vision. Sin, personified as a woman, will be sent to Babylon (Shinar). House means Temple in this usage. Notice that in this vision, Zechariah cannot describe what he is seeing and the angel must tell him. In this vision the winged figures which remove the basket are women. (Cherubim were winged male figures). Storks were unclean birds. It seems that as the exiles return from Babylon, wickedness is sent there.

6:1-8 Eighth vision: four chariots. Again there are horses of multiple colors (compare this vision to the vision in 1:7ff.) God’s agents go out to patrol the earth.

6:9-15 Wealth and Coronation:  This oracle is somewhat confusing as Zerubbabel and Joshua may have been confused, or the text was revised. Or perhaps, as “crown” in verses 11 and 14 is plural, both Joshua and Zerubbabel were to be crowned.  Branch is a messianic symbol.

B. 7:1-8:23 Oracles: There are two main types of oracles in the book of Zechariah, oracles that are a response to the visions (1:7-6-15) and the oracles in chapters 7 and 8 which are a response to a question found in 7:3. There are three general sections, 7:1-14; 8:1-17; and 8:18-23. The first section has to do with fasting. The second section concern God’s action on behalf of Zion and the restoration. The third section answer the question from 7:3.

         7:1-7 A question answered by questions. The date is mid December 518 BCE. A delegation travels to “entreat the favor of the Lord”- seek help in a time of difficulty and to ask a question. The question in verse three refers to a ritual that commemorated the destruction of the Temple.

           7:8-14 A recital of the essential message of the prophets and the historical response.

           8:1-23 Ten Oracles of restoration: Each section is introduced by the words, “Thus says the Lord of hosts” (except v 3 where “hosts” is missing). What do these oracles portray? Verses 18-19 answer the question found in 7:3.

II. 9:1-14:21 Oracles about the Future:

A. 9:1-11:17 First Oracle: Similarly to Amos, this chapter begins with oracles against foreign nations. God will defeat these nations and God’s kingdom will be instituted.

                   9:1-8 An oracle against Israel’s enemies and protection for the Temple. All the places mentioned are within the limits of the promised land.In verses 6-7 the Philistines will follow Jewish dietary laws.

                   9:9-10 The Prince of Peace: Verse 9 refers to just one animal in parallel poetic lines.  The king comes triumphant and peacefully. For Christians  these verses remind us of Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday.

                   9:11-17 The in-gathering of dispersed Israelites. The divine warrior will fight for Israel. Verse 16-17 imagine God as shepherd. Grain and new wine are symbols of fertility.

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.

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