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Zechariah 9:9-10 meaning

The LORD urges the Judeans to rejoice because the long-awaited righteous king is coming. He will stop all wars and bring peace to the whole world.

In Zechariah 9:1-8, the Suzerain God promised to judge the nations surrounding Judah. He would subdue them to prevent them from oppressing His covenant people. He would also find a remnant among them who would worship Him. In our passage, He announced the advent of the long-awaited king, a future Davidic ruler who would cease wars and bring peace to the world. Such good news prompted God to issue a command to His covenant people, saying, Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! (v 9). 

The phrase daughter of Zion refers to the community of people in Jerusalem who lived faithfully to the LORD. Similarly, the phrase daughter of Jerusalem refers to the faithful remnant living in Jerusalem. These two lines parallel each other to represent all the people of God living in Jerusalem (2 Kings 19:21, Zephaniah 3:14). This could also refer to those dwelling in Israel, as Jerusalem is Israel's capital city.

The term daughter implies that the LORD is a loving father. He loved His children and "guarded" them "as the pupil of His eye" (Deuteronomy 32:10). He established a covenant relationship with Israel and Judah, electing them "to be a people for His own possession out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6). Such a relationship prompted Him to summon them to rejoice greatly and shout in triumph (v 9). 

Shouting is the normal way to express joy. "David and all the house of Israel" shouted and sounded the trumpet when they brought "the ark of the LORD" to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6:15). Similarly, during the battle of Jericho, the LORD instructed Joshua and all the people of Israel to "shout with a great shout" so that "the wall of the city" may fall (Joshua 6:5). Here in our passage, the LORD summoned His people to rejoice exceedingly and gave them the reason for the jubilation. He began with the term Behold to draw attention to the message, thereby preparing the hearts of His children to hear what He was about to say. 

Then, He proclaimed the arrival of Zion's royal deliverer and stated, Your king is coming to you (v 9). This begins a passage that is referenced in the New Testament as having been fulfilled by Jesus in Matthew. Jesus instructed His disciples to secure a donkey colt for Him to ride into Jerusalem. The passage then says:

"This took place to fulfill what was spoken through the prophet:
(Matthew 21:4-5)

The "prophet" referred to in this quote from Matthew is Zechariah, and this quotes Zechariah 9:9

The king is a future Davidic ruler, the Messiah figure described as the "Branch" earlier in the book (Zechariah 3:8, 6:12). He is just and endowed with salvation (v 9). The adjective translated as just is "ṣaddîq" in the Hebrew text. It pertains to good conduct and character. It emphasizes conformity to the standard of the LORD's commands by moral actions, which leads to peace and prosperity. Thus, the king is endowed with salvation because He would deliver His people. In the case of Jesus, He came in His first advent to deliver His people from their sins. In His second advent, He will deliver His people from their enemies, and restore their kingdom. 

Although the king is righteous and has the power to save his people, he is humble and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a donkey (v 9). The donkey was a low-maintenance and multipurpose agricultural asset (Luke 13:15). It required lower quality and less feed than the horse, which only the rich could afford. This provides the picture of a king coming in peace. Jesus did not come in His first advent to conquer, but to serve (Matthew 20:28). Jesus humbled Himself, even to death on a cross, by obeying His Father (Philippians 2:8). 

In the biblical world, kings usually rode mules when performing official functions. King David illustrated this practice when he summoned "Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and said to them, 'Take with you the servants of your lord, and have my son Solomon ride on my own mule and bring him down to Gihon'" (1 Kings 1:32-33). In Zechariah, however, the future king would come on a donkey to show his gentle attitude and the peaceful nature of his rule. 

Not only would the future king ride a donkey, but a colt, the foal of a donkey. This is an action Jesus did specifically for the purpose of fulfilling this prophecy. Jesus gave detailed instructions to His disciples to find a donkey colt for Him to ride into Jerusalem. He even told them where to locate the donkey colt, and what to tell its owner (Matthew 21:1-3). 

Through the righteous king who will arrive on the scene, the LORD will cause all wars to cease. He declared, I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; and the bow of war will be cut off (v 10). To cut off means to remove something or destroy it (Deuteronomy 25:12). Chariots were two-wheeled carts pulled by two horses and used in ancient warfare and racing (Nahum 2:4). 

Ancient people used chariots in times of warfare as armored vehicles powered by the horse. They also utilized bows to hurl projectiles. Both the chariots and the bows were important tools for soldiers. That these instruments of war will be cut off by God from Ephraim and from Jerusalem indicates that neither the area of the northern kingdom (Ephraim) nor the area of the southern kingdom (Jerusalem) will have need for any measure of military defense. There will be a time of complete peace. 

This refers to the time of the Messianic kingdom that is predicted throughout the Bible, when "Nation will not lift up sword against nation, and never again will they learn war" (Isaiah 2:4b). This is confirmed by the last part of verse 10:

And He will speak peace to the nations;
And His dominion will be from sea to sea,
And from the River to the ends of the earth (v 10).

The Hebrew term for peace is "shalom." It is a word that conveys a holistic harmony of all things fitting within God's (good) design. That means that the righteous king who is coming will bring total peace to the entire world. The term nations is used in scripture to refer to all peoples who are not Jewish. So this includes all the peoples of the earth. 

His dominion will be from sea to sea; this phrase refers to all inhabited lands. For emphasis the same idea is repeated, that this righteous king's domain will extend from the River to the ends of the earth to reach the most distant places. The righteous King will establish a worldwide peace and rule over every nation. 

This prophecy of the righteous king reigning over all the earth in verse 10 comes immediately after the prophecy that says the sign of this righteous king will be that He comes to Jerusalem riding on a colt donkey in verse 9. Jesus fulfilled a part of verse 9 during His first advent on earth. The rest of the prophecy will be fulfilled upon His physical return to earth.

During the time of Jesus, Israel longed for their promised Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression and bring a true peace to the world. The Roman peace ("Pax Romana") meant that all things were in harmony with Rome's image of the world; which placed all humans as instruments to be exploited by the Romans. Anyone who resisted was crushed. 

During the Hasmonean dynasty in Judah (140 BC to 37 BC) the Jewish family called the Maccabees overthrew the Greeks who had desecrated the temple under Antiochus IV (also called Epiphanes), and made an allegiance with Rome to keep the Greeks subdued. However, they were later exploited and destroyed by Rome, who took over governing the land. This was how Rome came to be in charge at the time of Jesus. 

Israel's longing for her promised Messiah was voiced by those who greeted Jesus when He rode into Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives, fulfilling a part of the prophecy of verse 9 (Matthew 21:1-9). When Matthew quotes Zechariah 9 in Matthew 21, he omits the line from Zechariah 9:9 which says "He is just and endowed with salvation." This is because Jesus's entry to Jerusalem on a colt donkey satisfied the first part of the prophecy of Zechariah 9, 10, but the second part will await His second coming. 

This demonstrates how prophecies can commingle concepts that are connected in reality but may have elements that will be fulfilled by events that are separated by many years before the entire prophecy comes to pass. In this case, Zechariah 9, 10 sets forth the concept that a righteous king will deliver Israel and bring peace to the entire world. This king will be identified by riding into Jerusalem on a donkey colt. Jesus has fulfilled the first part of this prophecy; He was identified as the One who will fulfill this prophecy. 

But as we now know, Jesus ascended into heaven and is waiting until the Father's appointed time before He returns to earth to accomplish the second part of the prophecy (Acts 1:9-11). We can read of the predicted future fulfillment of the second part of Zechariah's prophecy in verses 9 and 10 in Revelation 19:11-16, where Jesus returns to earth as a conqueror, as the second Joshua. 

Jesus will accomplish the universal peace because He will "rule them [the nations] with a rod of iron" (Revelation 19:15). That He will rule with a "rod of iron" means that all will be done according to His ways. In the case of Jesus, that means the earth will be filled with peace and harmony. The new earth will be one where righteousness dwells (2 Peter 3:13). Righteousness in this context means that all will be restored to God's (good) design—where love and service to one another completely replaces human exploitation. 

Later in Zechariah, we will see the following verse that demonstrates the reign of the Jewish Messiah, and how it will extend to all nations:

"Then it will come about that any who are left of all the nations that went against Jerusalem will go up from year to year to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths. And it will be that whichever of the families of the earth does not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD of hosts, there will be no rain on them."
(Zechariah 14:16-17)

Jesus's name in Hebrew is "Yeshua" which means "God Saves." Yeshua also is translated as "Joshua." Jesus is a second Joshua who will return to defeat Israel's enemies and inaugurate a new Israel that will in time have a New Jerusalem (Revelation 19:11-2121:10). It would seem that Matthew omitted the line "He is just and endowed with salvation" because the "salvation" pointed to here in Zechariah is Israel's salvation from the nations, and the earth's salvation from a constant state of war and strife. 

When Jesus entered Jerusalem the first time, He brought a different application of salvation—one that the people were not looking for (and accordingly led to their rejection of Him). During Jesus's first advent, He brought Israel, and the entire human race, salvation from our sins (John 3:16, Colossians 2:14). 

That a part of this prophecy of Zechariah 9:9-10 has already transpired during Jesus's first advent only makes more certain the prophecy of Jesus's future return. It will be during that return of Jesus that both Israel and the entire earth will be restored. 

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