The Lord sent a message to Zechariah the prophet, son of Berekiah, son of Iddo, in the eighth month of the second year of king Darius' reign, saying:*
The Lord was very angry with your forefathers. So tell the people this: Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty. You must not be like your forefathers. They were told by previous prophets: Give up your evil ways, and the evil things you do. But they would not listen or pay any attention to me, says the Lord. Where are your forefathers now? And the prophets, did they live forever? But didn't all my instructions and warnings§ that I ordered my servants the prophets to communicate, didn't all that I said happen to your forefathers? So they repented and said, “What the Lord Almighty planned to do to us was what we deserved because of our ways and our actions. He did what he said he would.”
The Lord sent a message to Zechariah the prophet, son of Berekiah, son of Iddo, on the twenty-fourth day of the eleventh month (the month of Shebat) of the second year of king Darius' reign:
During the night I saw a man sitting on a red horse that stood among some myrtle trees in a narrow valley. Behind him were red, brown, and white horses with their riders.* I asked him, “My lord, what are these?” The angel I was talking to replied, “I will show you.” 10 The man who was there among the myrtle trees said, “These are the ones the Lord has sent out to patrol the earth.” 11 The riders reported to the angel of the Lord who was among the myrtle trees, “We have been patrolling the earth and saw that the whole earth has been pacified.
12 Then the angel of the Lord said, “Lord Almighty, how long will it be before you have mercy on Jerusalem and the cities of Judah which you have been angry with for the past seventy years?”
13 So the Lord replied to the angel I was talking to with kind and comforting words.
14 Then the angel I was talking with told me, This is what you are to announce. The Lord Almighty says this: I am jealously protective§ of Jerusalem and Mount Zion, 15 and I am extremely angry with the arrogant nations who think they are secure. I was only a little angry with my people,* but they made the punishment far worse.
16 Therefore this is what the Lord says: I have returned to be merciful to Jerusalem. My Temple shall be rebuilt there, as well as the city, declares the Lord Almighty.
17 Announce this as well, says the Lord Almighty: Prosperity will flood out of my cities. I the Lord will comfort Zion, and Jerusalem will be my chosen city.
18 Then I looked and saw four animal horns.§ 19 What are these?” I asked the angel I was talking to.
These are the horns that scattered Judah, Israel, and Jerusalem,” he replied.
20 Then the Lord showed me four craftsmen.* 21 What are these men coming to do?” I asked.
The angel replied, “The four horns—these nationsscattered Judah, humbling the people so that they could not lift up their heads. These craftsmen have to come to terrify these nations, and to destroy themthose who used their power against the land of Judah, scattering the people.”
* 1:1 There are quotes within quotes at the beginning of Zechariah, and if they were all identified then the result would be an unwieldy set of quote marks within quote marks—in fact there would be five degrees of quotations. Consequently here (and in most of the Minor Prophets) quote marks have generally not been used except where they help identify other speakers. 1:2 “Angry.” In many of the prophetic books of the Old Testament God is spoken of as being angry. But it should be noted that this is a description of God's opposition and intense hostility to evil and rebellion, rather than anger as experienced by human beings which is very self-referenced, emotionally-based, and even irrational. God's anger is a rational response to wickedness, and is based on his desire to save and heal, rather than to exact retributive vengeance. His focus is on making sure people understand the terrible danger they are in by pursuing evil. 1:3 Literally, “The Lord Almighty says, Return to me, declares the Lord Almighty, and I will return to you, says the Lord Almighty.” The repetition has been removed for easier reading. § 1:6 Literally, “regulations.” * 1:8 “With their riders.” Implied, see verse 11. 1:11 Implied. 1:11 “Pacified.” In the context this “peace” has more to do with being forced into submission and defeat than a time of harmony and tranquility. It could be compared to the imposed “Pax Romana” of later times in which the Romans asserted their control over the nations they had defeated militarily and brought “peace.” § 1:14 “Jealously protective”: To be justly concerned over loved ones. * 1:15 “With my people” implied. 1:15 In other words God had allowed the heathen nations to punish his people because of their sins, but these nations went too far in their attacks. 1:16 “As well as the city”: literally, “a measuring line will be stretched out over Jerusalem.” § 1:18 Horns in prophetic writings are symbolic of powers. * 1:20 Probably blacksmiths or metal workers.