Zechariah 12 and Mashiach son of Joseph

by Alexander Zephyr

Zechariah chapter 12 involves the Mashiach son of Joseph and the Last Days.

'In that day will I make the governors of Judah like a hearth of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire in a sheaf; and they shall devour all the people round about, on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.' Zechariah 12:6

          Some (e. g. the esteemed Bible scholar and Christian theologian, author of many books, Steven M. Collins  in his article, 'Jerusalem: The 'Burdensome Stone') say that this ancient Prophecy has been fulfilled in our days, 'when the Israelis conquered the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt on the left hand of Israel as one looks at the map) and conquered the West Bank from Jordan and the Golan Heights from Syria (on the right hand of Israel as one looks at the map).'

          Concerning the second part of the Prophecy, Steven Collins explains, 'Jerusalem was always the capital of the ancient kingdom of Judah. This Prophecy indicates that Jerusalem would again become the capital of the latter-day nation of Judah. This was fulfilled in 1967 when Israeli forces conquered the historic portions of the city of Jerusalem, and later made it the capital of the modern Israeli nation.'

          Is there something wrong with these conclusions? Yes, there is. They do not reflect the true meaning of the Prophecy of Zechariah 12. One can not take a single verse (6) out of the contest of the whole Chapter 12 and make a wishful interpretation in order to fit preconceived ideas.

          We are not denying that the Israeli victories in the wars of 1956, 1967 (Jerusalem, West Bank, Sinai, Gaza), 1973 (Golan Heights) might have been divinely pre-ordained. We are also in agreement that Jerusalem became again the capital of the Jewish state. What we can not agree with is the claim that Zechariah 12 is not the Prophecy of the Future. It describes events that have not yet occurred. It is not the Prophecy of the Past. The Prophecy has yet to be fulfilled.

          Let us take a careful look at a the few verses. In Zechariah 12, verses 2 and 3, the Prophet says that 'all the people of the earth be gathered together in the siege against Jerusalem.'
          The plain meaning of the Prophecy indicates that no one scenario of Israeli's recent wars can be compatible with the war described in Zechariah 12. This war will not have continued for many years. Verses 3, 4, 8 and 9 speak of one particular day, 'in that day'. It is not the 'Day of the Lord' which could have continued as long as it was necessary for God to fulfill His wish (wrath). In 1967, the nations of the World were not besieging  Jerusalem. It was the Israelis who attacked Jerusalem and wrested it from Jordan. The third Arab - Israeli War of 1967 lasted six days, which is why it is called 'Six-Day War'.

          'In that day, saith the Lord, I will smite every horse with astonishment (and blindness), and his rider with madness' (verse 4).

          Confusion and panic will take place among the nations that will be gathered against Jerusalem. This also pertains to the future.

          There still are a few important events that should have happened after 'that day': For instance the deathn of the Mashiach son of Joseph. 'They will look toward Me because of those whom they have stabbed; they will mourn over him as one mourns over for his only son' (Verse 10). Talmudic Sages say this refers to the Messiah son of Joseph who is destined to be killed in battle. His time has not come yet, either.

          'In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Meggidon. And the land shall mourn, every family apart' (Verses 11-12). Some commentators connect this episode to two historical personalities: Ahab, son of Omri, King of Israel, who was killed in battle by Hadadrimmon (1 Kings 22); and Josiah, King of Judah, killed in the Valley of Meggidon (II Chronicles 35:20-25).

Nothing like it  transpired in the war of 1967.

    'And Jerusalem will again settle in its place, in Jerusalem' (Verse 6).

          Steve Collins understood: 'This was fulfilled in 1967 when Israeli forces conquered the historic portion of the city of Jerusalem, and later made it the capital of the modern Israeli nation.'

          Again, this is distant from the simple meaning of Prophecy. As the Commentators, Abarbanel and Metzudos explain, the city of Jerusalem, after it's destruction by the Roman general Titus in 70 A.C., was rebuilt later by Emperor Hadrian on a different site (Aelia Capitolina). Zechariah simply says that after the destruction of the nations who will have come up to besiege Jerusalem, the city will be rebuilt on its original site. Obviously, this also pertains to the future.    

              Since it is clear that the events of Zechariah 12 have not occurred as of yet, we do not see how it is possible to maintain that the Prophecy in that chapter was fulfilled in 1956, 1967, or 1973.


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