New American Standard Bible
1:1 In the eighth month of the second year [October—November 520 BC] of Darius [Persian king; cf. Ezra 6:8-10 re: his willingness to finance rebuilding of the temple; after the return from Babylonian exile events dated by reign of Darius because Israel had no king to serve as a reference point for dates], the word of the Lord [prophetic word of revelation] came to Zechariah [name means “the Lord remembers”; served in post-exilic period before completion of temple; ministry overlapped with that of Haggai (see Haggai 1:1); born in exile] the prophet [one called by God to be His spokesman], the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo [priest who returned to Jerusalem with Zerubbabel] saying,
1:2 “The Lord was very angry with your fathers [the forefathers of those who had returned from exile in Babylon; the exile was a direct result of the sins of their fathers; the destruction of the temple was also a consequence of the sins of their fathers].
1:3 [note how divine grace follows the divine wrath of verse 2] Therefore [do not make the same mistake as forefathers] say to them, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts [powers or armies], “ Return to Me [a call to repentance],” declares the Lord of hosts, “that I may return to you,” says the Lord of hosts.
1:4 “Do not be [a warning to learn from their own history] like your fathers [preexilic forefathers], to whom the former prophets proclaimed, saying [note the general summary of the prophets’ message…], ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “Return now from your evil ways and from your evil deeds.”’ But they did not listen or give heed to Me [cf. 2 Chron. 36:16; we always ignore God’s Word to our own peril (Prov. 13:13)],” declares the Lord.
1:5 “Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets [those who warned their fathers of the imminent Babylonian exile], do they live forever? [obvious answer: both their forefathers and the prophets were dead]
1:6 But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants [it is an honor to be the Lord’s servant] the prophets, overtake your fathers [disregarding the warnings of the prophets proved disastrous for both the Northern and Southern Kingdoms]? Then [during the exile and afterward] they repented and said, ‘As the Lord of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.’”’”
• Vision One | The man on the red horse (1:7-17).
1:7 On the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month, which is the month Shebat, in the second year of Darius [after the third and fourth messages of the prophet Haggai], the word of the Lord came to Zechariah the prophet, the son of Berechiah, the son of Iddo, as follows:
1:8 I saw [Israel’s restoration revealed through the visions given to Zechariah in chapters 1-8] at night [Zechariah received all eight visions in the same night], and behold, a man [the angel of the Lord as per v. 11] was riding on a red horse [“red” associated with war and death], and he was standing among the myrtle trees which were in the ravine, with red, sorrel and white [associated with vengeance and triumph (cf. Rev. 19:11,14)] horses behind him.
1:9 Then I said [Zechariah asked the angel about the meaning of the vision], “My lord, what are these?” And the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “I will show you what these are.”
1:10 And the man [the angel of the Lord as per v. 11] who was standing among the myrtle trees [evergreen trees] answered and said, “These [the horsemen (angelic messengers)] are those whom the Lord has sent to patrol the earth.”
1:11 So they answered the angel of the Lord who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, “We have patrolled the earth, and behold, all the earth [including the Persian Empire] is peaceful and quiet.”
1:12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years [the people had suffered for seventy years under the Babylonian yoke]?”
1:13 The Lord answered the angel who was speaking with me with gracious words, comforting words [the oracle of verses 14-17].
1:14 So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, “Proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “I am exceedingly jealous [intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness] for Jerusalem and Zion.
1:15 But I am very angry with the nations [those that had treated God’s people harshly; includes Assyria and Babylonia] who are at ease [who feel secure; an indication of arrogance]; for while I was only a little angry [for a little while], they furthered the disaster [the nations went too far in trying to annihilate the Jews; a warning against anti-Semitism].”
1:16 Therefore thus says the Lord [what follows are very gracious and comforting words], “[response to question of v. 12] I will return to Jerusalem with compassion; My house [temple] will be built in it,” declares the Lord of hosts, “and a measuring line will be stretched over Jerusalem.”’
1:17 Again, proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord of hosts, “My cities will again overflow with prosperity, and the Lord will again comfort Zion and again choose Jerusalem.”’”
• Vision Two | The four horns and the four carpenters (1:18-21).
1:18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns [a symbol of strength; a reference to the nations that attacked and scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem].
1:19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, “What are these?” And he answered me, “These are the horns which have scattered [note all-inclusive designation for God’s people…] Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.”
1:20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen [reference to those nations/individuals God used to overthrow Israel’s enemies].
1:21 I said, “What are these coming to do?” And he said, “These are the horns which have scattered Judah so that no man lifts up his head; but these craftsmen [reference to those nations/individuals God used to overthrow Israel’s enemies] have come to terrify [those characterized as “at easy” in v. 15] them, to throw down the horns of the nations who have lifted up their horns against the land of Judah in order to scatter it.”