An Exegesis Of Zechariah 7:4–14 In Its Canonical Context -- By: Pamela J. Scalise

Journal: Faith and Mission
Volume: FM 03:2 (Spring 1986)
Article: An Exegesis Of Zechariah 7:4–14 In Its Canonical Context
Author: Pamela J. Scalise


An Exegesis Of Zechariah 7:4–14
In Its Canonical Context

Pamela J. Scalise

Assistant Professor of Old Testament,
Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

The book of Zechariah addresses the question “How shall we live in the time before the New Age?” It is a product of the period in which the delay of the promised consummation had become obvious. The prophetic word given before, during, and immediately after the Exile had focused Israel’s hopes on the time of their restoration to the land as the time when all these end-time promises would be fulfilled. The restored community in the land, however, experienced conditions which bore only the most shadowy resemblance to the prophets’ inspired portrayal of the New Age. The rebuilding of the Temple and the appointment of Zerubbabel, a descendant of David, as ruler in Jerusalem did not bring the consummation, for the new Temple was a humble structure and Zerubbabel faded away rather than taking root and flourishing as the Branch. The restored community and all succeeding generations of believers have had to deal with the incongruity between the world of their experience and the new order described by the prophets. The book Zechariah, in its present shape, offers guidance to God’s people living before the end.

The dilemma may be faced in at least three different ways. (1) One may reject the prophetic words as unfulfilled and, therefore, false. The preservation and use of those words by the believing community provides evidence that this alternative was not chosen by everyone. (2) One may affirm that the return of the Judean exiles and the restoration of the community in the land, as unremarkable as they were, have fulfilled those promises which have been given, after all, in an exaggerated manner. (3) Finally, one may acknowledge that God’s people still stand in the time between the catastrophic destruction of the nation and the cataclysmic events of the consummation which will involve the whole earth. This realization is based on the conviction that the reality and truth of the events and conditions announced by the prophets are not diminished by the lack of known historical referents. The canonical shape of the book of Zechariah directs the reader away from the first two alternatives and affirms the third by showing that God’s people must continue to live in obedience and hope for the final fulfillment of God’s promises.

The “Canonical Shape” Of Zechariah

Zechariah the prophet preached in Jerusalem in the late sixth century B.C., but the traditions of Zechariah’s ministry have been put together in a book in order to function as Scripture for subsequent generations. Its particular arrangement and literary form enable the book to function in th...

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