The book of Zechariah is full of vivid imagery and peculiar visions that all help in the conveying of God’s message. This paper will examine the specific vision described in Zechariah 3:1-10. The intent of this essay is to examine the message of this vivid vision that Zechariah received and also to determine the application for readers at that time and for believers today. Compare English Versions
The first step in studying this passage had been to read it over and over in multiple English translations to get a feel for how it could be interpreted in English. While there is some difference in the wording of different English translations it does not seem to change what is being communicated in the text. Some interesting differences in v.4b do appear when describing the new clothing that is given to Joshua, it is described as simply a “change of raiment” (King James) or more elaborately “pure elaborately” (ESV) and in the NRSV “festal apparel”. The following verse describes the charge unto Joshua from the Angel of the Lord as being “protested” (King James) or “gave his charge” or even “spoke very solemnly” (Living Bible) which all seem much different than “assured” (NRSV). There is obviously some discrepancy as to the tone of this charge. Overall, the different English translations all describe a very similar vision experience. Structural Outline
1. Clean clothes for Joshua (3:1-5)
1.1 Set the scene (3:1)
1.2 Rebuke of Satan (3:2)
1.3 Removal of iniquity (3:3-4)
1.4 Clean garments and turban (3:5)
2. Promises from the Angel of the Lord (3:6-10)
2.1 Joshua’s Commission (3:6-7)
2.2 Promise of a coming Servant (3:8)
2.3 In that Day (3:9-10)
Genre of the Text
This section of text is from the Prophet of Zechariah which places it in the genre of prophetic literature; however it also resembles apocalyptic literature like that found in the book of Revelation. What distinguishes this type of literature as apocalyptic is the obvious vision that is being described here (Miller 134). The scene for this vision is a courtroom with Joshua being on trial before the angel of the Lord. The vision then concludes with some messianic prophecy referring to the Messiah as “the Branch” (v. 8) and a promise is made for that day when “every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and his fig tree”. This is apocalyptic literature in the form of a vision conveying a messianic promise to those who will listen. Research the Text
When reading this genre of literature, understanding whom it was written by is important to fully interpret the text. Zechariah’s name means “the Lord remembers” and is one of the most commonly used names in the OT (Miller 135). Zechariah’s name, along with his message, consistently reminded the nation that the Lord had made a covenant with Israel” (Klein 20). It is also a priestly name which could indicate Zechariah was a Priest as well as a Prophet (Miller 134) but this could also mean that he simply comes from a line of Priests (Klein 21). The first two chapters develop Zechariah as a “young man” (v.4) who has an ear turned toward God in a difficult time in Israel’s history.
It is also essential to understand the historical context that this text was written into. The book of Zechariah would fit into the Post-Exilic era of Israel’s history, after the return of God’s people to the city and the re-construction of the temple in Jerusalem had started. The message was directed to the “struggling Jewish returnees” (Miller 134) who would have been largely affected by the time in exile in Babylon. The Babylonians had recently been conquered by the Persian Empire and so great change for the nation of Israel was happening once again. Haggai and Zechariah (written at the similar time periods) both emphasize the everlasting Kingdom of God and the coming of a Messiah. The people of Judah would have been concerned about how their nation would...