The Book of Zechariah
Zechariah or The Book of Zechariah is a prophetic text included in the Minor Prophets section of the Hebrew Bible Tanakh. It is also the penultimate book in the Old Testament of Christian Bible. Although the authorship of this book of Zechariah is mostly credited to the prophet Zechariah himself, most modern scholars hold the opinion that the book of Zechariah was composed by at least 2 separate individuals. This is due to the fact that certain distinct differences have been noticed in style and compositional features, and some of the chronological and historical references presented in the book tend to suggest the work of two different authors.
The name of the prophet Zechariah signifies “Yahweh has remembered”. There is not much that can be known about the historical figure Zechariah, apart from what is apparent in the book of Zechariah itself. It is believed that he was a descendant of Iddo, and as such hailed from a priestly family. Zechariah himself was born in Babylonia and belonged to the Jewish community who got back to Judah around 538 B.C. under the rulership of Zerubbabel.
Zechariah prophesied during the rulership of Persian King Darius the Great. A contemporary of prophet Haggai, Zechariah continued his work long after the time of Haggai’s ministry. As Zechariah began his ministry at a very early age, it is suggested that he might have even continued his prophetic tasks during the rulership of Artaxerxes I.
The book of Zechariah is divided mainly in two sections; the First part of the Book of Zechariah comprised of chapters 1 to 8, and Second part of the Book of Zechariah comprised of chapters 9 to 14. The First part of the Book of Zechariah was written around 6th century BC and the Second part of the Book of Zechariah was composed around 5th century BC. Some researchers even divide the Second part of the Book of Zechariah into two sections; i.e. Second part of the Book of Zechariah (chapters 9 to 11) and Third part of the Book of Zechariah (chapters 12 to 14).
The return of the Jewish people from the Babylonian exile forms the basic theological premise of Zechariah’s visions as they are presented in chapters 1 to 6. The chapters 7 and 8 discuss the overall quality of life Yahweh wants His people to enjoy after the historic return. It also includes several encouraging promises for the people. Finally, chapters 9 to 14 describe two oracles or prophesies for the future.
The book of Zechariah starts with a recollection of the nation’s past which is aimed at presenting a serious warning for the present generation. This is followed by the description of eight visions that occur one after another in a single night. The visions present a symbolic history of the kingdom of Israel that is invoked to spur hope in the minds of the Jewish people after the end of exile. Joshua’s crowning is held as a symbol denoting the unifications of the world’s kingdoms under the divine rulership of God’s Messiah.
The next two chapters delivered 2 years later provide answer to the query whether people should still mourn for the destruction of their earlier majestic city. It also encourages Jewish people by stating God’s active presence and stating that His blessings are with the people.
The final chapters include the 2 oracles. The first oracle outlines Yahweh’s providential dealings with people of Zion till the arrival of the Messiah. The second oracle speaks about the glory that awaits Israel after the last conflict and eventual victory of God’s kingdom.