VIII: The Final Combat and the New Jerusalem[a]
1 Behold, a day is coming for the Lord, when the plunder taken from you will be divided in your midst. 2 For I will gather all the nations against Jerusalem for battle. The city will be taken, the houses plundered, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken away from the city.
3 Then the Lord will go forth and fight against those nations, fighting as on a day of battle. 4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, which lies to the east of Jerusalem. The Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west by an immense valley, so that half of the mountain will move north and the other half will move south. 5 You will flee by the valley of the Lord’s mountain, for the valley between the hills will be blocked, and the new valley between them will reach as far as Azal. It will be filled in, as it was by the earthquake, in the days of King Uzziah of Judah. Then the Lord, my God, will come, and all his holy ones with him.[b]
6 On that day there will be neither cold nor frost. 7 And it will be one continuous day, known only to the Lord, and there will be no more day and night, for there will be light even during the evening. 8 And when that day comes, living waters will flow out from Jerusalem, half flowing toward the eastern sea[c] and half toward the western sea, and they will continue to flow in both summer and winter. 9 The Lord will become king over the whole earth. When that day comes, he will be the only Lord, and his name will be the only name.
10 The entire land will be transformed into a plain, from Geba to Rimmon in the Negeb, but Jerusalem will remain exalted in its place and be filled with people, from the Gate of Benjamin to the site of the former gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the king’s winepresses. 11 It will be inhabited, and never again will it be doomed to destruction. Jerusalem will abide in security.
12 This will be the plague with which the Lord will strike all the nations that have fought against Jerusalem: their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths. 13 On that day men will be stricken by the Lord with great panic. Every man will seize his neighbor’s hand, and they will begin to beat each other. 14 Even Judah will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be gathered up: gold, silver, and garments in great quantities. 15 In addition, a plague similar to this one will afflict the horses, mules, camels, donkeys, and all other animals in those camps.
16 The survivors of all the nations that attacked Jerusalem will come up year after year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to celebrate the Feast of Booths.[d] 17 If any of the families of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, no rain shall fall upon them. 18 And should any family of Egypt fail to come up and present themselves, then upon them will fall the plague that the Lord will inflict upon those nations that fail to go up to celebrate the Feast of Booths. 19 Such will be the punishment that befalls Egypt and any other nations that do not come up to celebrate the Feast of Booths.
20 On that day, the words, “Holy to the Lord,” will be inscribed upon the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the house of the Lord will be as holy as the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every cooking pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the Lord of hosts, and all who come to offer sacrifice will take them and cook in them. And there will no longer be any traders in the house of the Lord of hosts.
- Zechariah 14:1 After the chosen people had passed through so many struggles, an editor pulled together details for a picture of a final battle. The account tests the imagination and brings the conflict between God and the forces of evil to an end with a victory of God. The style is that of the apocalypses, as seen in the discourse of Jesus on the ruins of Jerusalem and the end of the world (Mk 13; Lk 21; Mt 24). These details were perhaps imagined or gathered at the time of the Maccabean resistance in the second century B.C. At that time, Jerusalem had fallen into the hands of persecuting pagan rulers, and it was possible for the Jews to think that the end of time was at hand: the age of salvation would now begin and the outcome of the struggle would be different. The battle is followed by a great liturgy in which the Feast of Tabernacles acquires a basic importance, since this is the Feast of God as King (see the Books of the Maccabees).
It is on this history-inspired development that the priests based their theology of Jerusalem as the center of a world in which everything is sacred. This grandiose vision of the future is close to that of John’s Apocalypse (Rev 21:3-4). The literary display in the depiction of the scene is overwhelming, but at bottom the passage is a proclamation of God in the face of all seemingly dominant forces; it expresses expectation of a salvation that can only be a gift.
- Zechariah 14:5 The earthquake must have been a very violent one if it made history and can serve as a parallel for the catastrophe in the Pentapolis. The historical books make no reference to this earthquake (see Am 1:1; 4:11).
- Zechariah 14:8 Eastern sea: the Dead Sea.
- Zechariah 14:16 The Feast of Tabernacles recalled the sojourn of Israel in the wilderness after the deliverance from Egypt (Lev 23:33-42).