ZECHARIAH 6:9-15: THE MESSIANIC PRIESTLY-KING

The following is taken from The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecies: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, eds. Michael Rydelnik & Edwin Blum, published by Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 2019, pp. 1800-1818. 

Zechariah 6:9-15

The Royal Priesthood of Messiah

MICHAEL L. BROWN

Messianic Jewish and Christian scholars speak of two streams of messianic prophecy: the royal prophecies, which point to the worldwide reign of the son of David, and the suffering prophecies, which point to his vicarious suffering and death (see especially Isa 53). In contrast, traditional Judaism embraces the royal stream of prophecy as messianic while rejecting, for the most part, the messianic interpretation of the suffering passages1 since these passages neither speak of a descendant of David nor describe the beatific Messianic Era prophesied elsewhere (see, e.g., Isa 2:1-4; 9:6-7 [5-6]; 11:1-16; Jer 23:1-6).

Zechariah 6:9-15, then, is highly significant, since it explicitly connects the high priest Joshua, son of Jehozadak, with “the Branch,” which is an epithet of the Messiah son of David (see esp. Jer 23:5; 33:15; cf. also Isa 4:2; Zch 3:8, all with semah; cf. further Isa 11:1 with neser). Thus, the royal messianic prophecies connect here with the priestly (= suffering) messianic prophecies, since it is a high priest who is crowned and who sits on a throne, all while serving as a sign of “a man whose name is the Branch” (Zch 6:12). The Messiah, then, will be a priestly King, just as David was, doing the priestly work of making atonement for the sins of the world before doing the royal work of establishing the kingdom of God on earth.

As for David’s own identity as a priestly king, note that: (1) as a king, he performed a number of priestly acts (see 1Sm 21:1-6; 2Sm 6:14; 24:26); (2) somewhat cryptically, his own sons are called “priests” in 2Sm 8:18 in some Bible versions (HCSB “chief officials”)2; (3) according to the most natural reading of the superscription of Ps 110, David was the author of this psalm and prophesied that his future, exalted descendant (the Messiah; see Mt 22:42-45) would be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek, the priestly king of Salem (see Ps 110:4; Gn 14:17-24).

Alternatively, the superscription le dāwid, could mean “for David” as opposed to “by David” (or, “of David”), thereby a psalm written for the king by a court poet who declared that his master, David, would be a priest forever in the order of Melchizedek.3 Yet on either reading, the Messiah would function as a priestly king, like Melchizedek, since, if David was the author of the psalm, he directly prophesied the Messiah’s priestly role, and if David was the subject of the psalm, it was prophesied that he would be a lasting priest in the order of Melchizedek, and it is David who serves as the prototype of the Messiah. As king, the Messiah would rule and reign and defeat the enemies of God; as priest, he would make atonement for sin, identifying with God’s people in their suffering.

BACKGROUND TO ZECHARIAH 6:9-15

The prophecies of Zch 6 were delivered against the backdrop of the rebuilding of the temple in Jerusalem after the Jewish exiles returned from Babylonian exile. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah helped spur this rebuilding project (Ezr 5:1; 6:14; Hag 1:1-14), which was carried out under the civil leadership of Zerubbabel, a descendant of David appointed as governor of Judah by Cyrus, king of Persia, and Joshua, a descendant of Aaron, serving as the high priest (he is referred to as Jeshua/Yeshua in Ezra and Nehemiah, beginning in Ezr 2:2 and ending in Neh 12:26). Elsewhere in Zechariah, Joshua is mentioned in 3:1, 3, 6, 8, 9, where he is associated with “the Branch” (3:8), Zerubbabel is mentioned in Zch 4:6, 7, 9-10, and it seems likely that it is Zerubbabel and Joshua who are “the two anointed ones … who stand by the Lord of the whole earth” (4:14). This is symbolized by two olive trees and two branches of these olive trees “beside the two golden conduits from which the golden oil is poured out” (4:11-12; note that the Hebrew word for “branches” in these verses is not the same as the word for the Branch of chaps. 3 and 6).

As for Zch 6:1-8, the vision of the four chariots, which represent “the four winds of heaven, after presenting themselves before the Lord of all the earth” (6:5), the specific connection to vv. 9-15 is unclear. However, Boda argues that “the prophetic sign-act report in 6:9-15 flows out of the final vision report [in 6:1-8], presenting the role of those who would escape from Babylon in the aftermath of its punishment foreseen in 2:10-13 (6-9).”4 According to Unger, “Immediately following the overthrow of Gentile world power by the earth judgments symbolized by the horsed chariots (Zech. 6:1-8) occurs the manifestation of Christ in His kingdom glory (Zech. 6:9-15), typified by the crowning of Joshua the high priest…. The crowning of King-Priest Messiah is thus set forth symbolically by the coronation of Joshua, which is not a vision, but an actual historical act, which evidently took place the day following the night of visions.”5

TEXTUAL ISSUES

The pivotal question in the text is the number of crowns involved. Are the exiles instructed to make crowns (presumably two, one gold and one silver), one for Zerubbabel and one for Joshua (the gold for Zerubbabel and/or the Messiah, the silver for Joshua, according to rabbinic interpretation), or are they instructed to make one single crown, which is then put on the head of Joshua?6

The MT has crowns in 6:11 and 14, but written plene in 6:11 (with the pl. ending –ot) and defectively in 6:14 (with the pl. ending –ot). Note also that the only verb associated with the crowns in MT is tiheyeh, it will be, in 6:14, but that verb is feminine singular, suggesting that MT may have originally read the singular ‘ateret (crown) here.7 The LXX reads the plural in 6:11 (stephanous) but singular in 6:14 (stephanos). Conversely, the Vulgate translates with the singular in 6:11 (coronas) and the plural in 6:14 (coronae), while the Peshitta has the singular for both verses. Targum Jonathan renders 6:11 with kelîl ramiskab (great crown)8 and 6:14 with tusbeha’ (glory or splendor; the accompanying verb is singular).

Among English versions, the KJV, NJPSV, and CJB render with “crowns” in both verses; NKJV renders with “elaborate crown” in both verses (understanding the plural form as conveying majesty); HCSB has “crowns” in 6:11 and “crown” in 6:14; NIV, NRSV, ESV, NET, and NLT have “crown” in both verses. In resolving these textual difficulties, scholars have taken three primary approaches: (1) There was only one crown, but it was elaborately made, hence the plural form (according to Barker, the plural form refers “to an ornate crown with many diadems—a plural of extension [cf. Rev 19:12])”; (2) Two crowns were spoken of in 6:11, but the function of only one of them is described in 6:14; (3) Only one crown was involved, and a plural form incorrectly crept into the MT, as reflected by some of the versions.

Also difficult is the exact significance of 6:11, if plural “crowns” is understood, since the Heb. simply says in v. 11b, “and place them on the head of Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest.” If singular “crown” is read, then there is no difficulty, with “it” being understood as the object of the verb “place, set,” thus, “Make a crown and place it on the high priest’s head.” If, however, the plural form is retained, it would have to mean: “Make [two] crowns and place [one of them] on the high priest’s head,” which would be quite forced. Otherwise, one would have to envision placing both (or, all of the) crowns on Joshua’s head, which, again, is unlikely.

In light of the cumulative evidence, it seems best either to retain the singular reading of “crown” throughout or, if a plural form was original in the Hebrew, to take it to refer to a single ornate and elaborate crown.

INTERPRETIVE AND TRANSLATION ISSUES

Although some rabbinic interpreters identify Zerubbabel with the Branch (see below, Traditional Jewish Interpretation), most commentators recognize that neither Joshua nor Zerubbabel are being called the Branch themselves,9 although there is a debate as to which of these two men represent Him. In Zch 3:8, the Lord said, “Listen, Joshua the high priest, you and your colleagues sitting before you; indeed these men are a sign [’anšê môpēt] that I am about to bring my servant the Branch.” While this does associate Joshua with the Branch on some level, it hardly states that Joshua himself will be the forerunner or representative of the Branch.

Zechariah 6 is more explicit, with the NIV rendering vv. 11-13 (the key words and phrases are set here in italic): “Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jozadak. Tell him this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and he will branch out from his place and build the temple of the LORD. It is he who will build the temple of the LORD, and he will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on his throne. And he will be a priest on his throne. And there will be harmony between the two’” (Zch 6:11-13). So, the crown is put on the head of Joshua the high priest, of whom it is then said, “Here is the man whose name is the Branch.” Accordingly, Joshua as a royal priest serves as a direct type of the Messiah, the Branch. This reading of the text mirrors that of the Targum (see immediately below). As for the closing phrase, “there will be harmony between the two,” that would imply between the priesthood and the kingship; the problem with this, however, is that there is no explicit mention of the king, especially as someone other than Joshua, in the passage (see below, Christological Interpretation). Compare the rendering of R. L. Smith in the Word Biblical Commentary: “And he shall build the temple of Yahweh, and he shall bear honor. And he shall sit and rule on his throne, and he shall be a priest upon his throne. And a counsel of peace shall be between the two of them.”10

In contrast, the NJPSV renders, “Take silver and gold and make crowns. Place one on the head of High Priest Joshua son of Jehozadak, and say to him, ‘Thus said the LORD of Hosts: Behold, a man called the Branch shall branch out from the place where he is, and he shall build the Temple of the LORD. He shall build the Temple of the LORD and shall assume majesty, and he shall sit on his throne and rule. And there shall also be a priest seated on his throne, and harmonious understanding shall prevail between them’” (Zch 6:11-13, emphasis added). The Stone version, reflecting Orthodox Jewish thought, translates v. 13 with, “He will build the Sanctuary of HASHEM [the LORD], he will bear majesty, and he will sit and rule upon his throne. The Kohen [priest] will sit upon his own throne, and there will be a disposition of peace between the two of them.”11

In all these translations, there are two distinct figures: the future Messiah (= the Branch) and the future high priest, both apparently typified by Joshua the high priest wearing a crown (unless the one typifying the Branch is Zerubbabel, who is not mentioned, however, in the chapter; see further below, Traditional Jewish Interpretation). And there will be “harmonious understanding” between the Branch and the future high priest. This is also a valid way of reading the text (specifically, 6:13b, “And there shall also be a priest seated on his throne”),12 since it speaks of two distinct figures between whom there would be harmony. But it fails to explain why Joshua the high priest is crowned and why he alone typifies the Branch, as opposed to crowns being put on the heads of both Zerubbabel and Joshua. Indeed, why not simply crown Zerubbabel, who was of Davidic descent and whose grandfather was Jehoiachin, one of the last kings of Judah before the Babylonian exile?13 Zerubbabel is not mentioned at all in chap. 6 (in fact, outside of Zch 4:6-7, 910, he is not mentioned anywhere else in the book), and while some critical scholars have argued that it was Zerubbabel, rather than Joshua, who was the original subject of 6:11-15, there is not a stitch of evidence to support this contention.

As Ehud Ben Zvi observes in the Jewish Study Bible, “One would expect that the king would be crowned, but only the high priest Joshua is. Ibn Ezra, Radak, Rashi, and others consider Zerubbabel to be the Branch, and the person for whom the other crown was meant. The Targum, however, reflects a different understanding [referencing one large crown, and referring to the Branch as the Anointed = Messiah]…. Significantly, it is likely that the text reads ‘crown’ in vv. 11 and 14 (see NRSV) rather than crowns. If this is the case, then there was only one crown in the world of the book, and it was Joshua’s.”14

Smith notes that “Beuken, Ackroyd, and D. R. Jones believe that Zechariah was speaking to Zerubbabel and Joshua alternatively in v. 13:

And he (Zerubbabel) shall build the temple,

And he (Joshua) shall put on splendor,

And he (Zerubbabel) shall sit and rule upon his throne;

And he (Joshua) shall be priest upon his throne;

And a counsel of peace shall be between them.15

As Zerubbabel does not appear anywhere in this chapter, his introduction here would be therefore quite gratuitous. Besides, the proposed alternating of subjects presumes too much and disqualifies itself by what it demands. In contrast, Baldwin defends the older Christian, messianic interpretation, explaining, “The symbolic coronation and the enigmatic term ‘Branch’ referred to a future leader, who would fulfill to perfection the offices of priest and king, and build the future Temple with all appropriate splendour (Hag 2:6–9). In this way, the priestly and royal offices will be unified.” And, Baldwin adds, “Nowhere else in the OT is it made so plain that the coming Davidic king will also be a priest. It is for this reason that the passage has occasioned so much questioning.”16 See also Wolter Rose, Zemah and Zerubbabel, for a detailed defense of the messianic interpretation of Zch 3 and 6.17

TRADITIONAL JEWISH INTERPRETATION

Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Radak all understand Zerubbabel himself to be the Branch (in Zch 3:8 as well), interpreting the entire prophecy in Zch 6 with reference to building of the Second Temple, although Ibn Ezra and Radak recognize a possible reference to both Zerubbabel and the Messiah.18 At 3:8b (“I am about to bring my servant the Branch”), Rashi explains, “For now Zerubbabel, the governor of Judah, is insignificant in the king’s court, but I will make his greatness burgeon. I will also give him favor in the eyes of the king, so that he will grant [Zerubbabel’s] request for the building of the Temple and the city.”19 At 6:12, Rashi points back to his comments at 3:8, adding, “Some interpret this as referring to the King Messiah, but the entire context deals with the [time of the] Second Temple.” Rashi then understands 6:13 to speak first of Zerubbabel, who will bear the glory of the kingship, being of Davidic descent, then of the High Priest, who will sit “on the throne of the priesthood,” and, “The king and the Priest shall love one another.”

In favor of Rashi’s interpretation is the Second Temple context, since Zerubbabel and Joshua were directly involved with the building of that Temple, and it would seem odd to point to a man who was involved in building that structure 2,500 years ago, only to prophesy of another figure who would build a Third Temple in the distant future. The problems with Rashi’s interpretation, however, outweigh its merits. First, he fails to explain why there is no actual mention in the text of Zerubbabel; second, he downplays the messianic significance of the term Branch; third, he fails to explain why it is only Joshua, the High Priest, who is mentioned by name in the text and explicitly crowned (although both Rashi and Ibn Ezra understand 6:13 to say that the High Priest will sit on his own throne); fourth, there seems little reason for the crowns to be placed as a memorial in the temple (Zch 6:14) if they had no future significance; fifth, there is no indication that Zerubbabel ever “ruled” over his people in any royal way, let alone with royal splendor (as emphasized by Abravanel). This would have been anathema to the Persian government, to whom Judah was accountable, and again, nowhere is such a role for Zerubbabel hinted at in any other biblical book dealing with this period of time (in particular, Ezra and Nehemiah).

The other, major rabbinic interpretation also recognizes two figures, Zerubbabel and Joshua, but sees the former as typifying the future Messiah and the latter as typifying the future High Priest, with the Targum explicitly identifying the Branch in 3:8 and 6:12 with the Messiah. As summarized by Stavsky (citing Abravanel, with reference also to Metzudot and Malbim):

Others see the verse as alluding both to Zerubbabel and to the Messiah. Although Zerubbabel was the leader of the Jewish people at that time, he was given the golden crown designated for the monarchy because he was yet only a shoot in the process of growing. He was merely a satrap under Persian rule. However, from among his descendants an individual will rise and sprout who will attain the full glory of the Kingdom of Israel and upon his head will [lie] the golden crown. Nevertheless, since this greatness will come through Zerubbabel he shall merit building the sanctuary of Hashem at this time.20

Accordingly, 6:13 is interpreted with reference to the Messiah, a descendant of Zerubbabel who will build the Third Temple, and the future High Priest, who “shall come before the king to advise him and guide him in carrying out the will of G-d.”21

While this interpretation has the merit of recognizing the messianic significance of the passage, it again fails to appreciate the significance of singling out Joshua the High Priest. Why crown the High Priest and then say to him, “Behold, there is a man, his name is Zemah, and he will flourish in his place; he will build the Sanctuary of HASHEM,” and why leave out all reference to Zerubbabel?

CHRISTOLOGICAL INTERPRETATION

According to the Lange commentary to Zch 6:13, “Nearly all interpreters, ancient and modern, render as in the text, and understand the clause to mean, that the Branch would be both king and high priest on one and the same throne.”22 Reflecting this Christological reading, the Pulpit Commentary states, “The Authorized Version is doubtless correct, as the clause is intended to declare that Messiah should, like Melchizedek, combine the offices of Priest and King (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 5:6, 10).”23 Similarly, Keil explains,

The crowning of Joshua the high priest with a royal crown…. pointed to a man who would sit upon his throne as both ruler and priest, that is to say, would combine both royalty and priesthood in his own person and rank. The expression “Speak thou to him” shows that the words of Jehovah are addressed to Joshua, and to him alone ([’elāyv] is singular), and therefore that Zerubbabel must not be interpolated into v. 11 along with Joshua. The man whom Joshua is to represent or typify, by having a crown placed upon his head, is designated as the Messiah.24

More recently, the Christological interpretation has been defended by Baldwin (see above) and also by Barker, who writes,

In the fourth vision (ch. 3), Joshua was priest; here (6:13) the Branch is to officiate as priest. In the fifth vision (ch. 4), Zerubbabel was the governing civil official; here (6:13) the Branch is to rule the government. In 4:9 Zerubbabel was to complete the rebuilding of the temple; here (6:12) the Branch will build the temple. In 4:14 Zerubbabel and Joshua represented two separate offices; here the Branch is to hold both offices (6:13). Thus, restored Israel is seen in the future under the glorious reign of the messianic King-Priest. The passage is typical-prophetical. Joshua serves as a type of the Messiah, but at certain points the language transcends the experience of the type and becomes more directly prophetic of the antitype.25

And so, as the city of Jerusalem and the temple are being restored under the leadership of Zerubbabel and Joshua, the latter is singled out as a type of the coming Messiah who would combine kingship and priesthood in himself, building the future holy temple.

Some interpreters (most notably Wellhausen) found it so odd that Joshua, the high priest, would serve as the type of the Branch, rather than Zerubbabel, the governor of Davidic descent (spoken of also in Hag 2:20-23 in a significant prophetic passage), that they posited an original Hebrew text in which Zerubbabel’s name replaced Joshua’s.26 But there is not a stitch of evidence to support this, nor is there a reason to reject the universal reading of all the ancient texts and versions, since Zch 3:8 already connected Joshua to the Branch (albeit not as directly) while Ps 110 specifically connected a priestly role to David (and/or the Messiah), hence a priestly king. Here, that image is further drilled home: The Branch, clearly identified as the Davidic Messiah in Jer 23:5 and 33:15 (see also Isa 4:2) will combine the offices of high priest and king as one.

The key question, again, revolves around the interpretation of 6:13. The ESV has, “And there shall be a priest on his throne [meaning, the Branch’s throne], and the counsel of peace shall be between them both”27 (cf. NET’s “Moreover, there will be a priest with him on his throne and they will see eye to eye on everything.”).28 In contrast, the NKJV renders, “So He shall be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace shall be between them both” (cf. the NLT’s, “He will also serve as priest from his throne, and there will be perfect harmony between his two roles.”).29 In favor of the ESV’s rendering, which would be in harmony with the traditional Jewish view, is the final clause, which most likely (but not definitively)30 speaks of two people rather than two offices. In favor of the NKJV’s rendering is that one man, Joshua, is singled out as a type of the Branch, which would point to both roles (royal and priestly) being fulfilled in one person.

From the viewpoint of Christological fulfillment, however, either reading is acceptable. If one person alone is envisaged, then that one person, Joshua, serves as the type of the Messiah, here pictured as a royal priest, which complements the more common picture of the Messiah as a king who engages in some priestly functions. If two persons are envisaged, the Branch and the priest, both of them crowned and both ruling on their thrones, that these two personages are typified by one man, Joshua, a crowned high priest, points again to the Messiah combining both roles in himself.

After detailing the significance of the term semah and the verbal form s-m-h in key OT passages, Boda (Zechariah, 398–99) notes in particular the similarities between Jer 33, a restoration passage that includes a Branch prophecy, and Zch 6:9-15. He adds: “It is important, however, not to miss that the promise is expanded beyond the Davidic line in Jeremiah 33, proceeding to intertwine the future destinies of both the royal Davidic line and the priestly Levitical line (33:17-18), linking both to the enduring covenant with day and night (33:20) and promising not only continual service for both lines, but also a multitude of descendants (33:2122).”31

In sum, although a strong argument can be made to read 6:13 with reference to one figure only, the Branch, typified by Joshua, and combining the offices of priest and king in one, it is also possible to see a reference to two future figures, one royal and one priestly, ultimately fulfilled in Jesus the Messiah. But even if two different individuals are spoken of, it is significant that: (1) it is the high priest Joshua who is crowned and who represents the Branch (thereby merging priesthood and the Davidic Messiah); and (2) it is Joshua, more commonly known as Yeshua, who represents the Branch, since that is the very name borne by the Messiah Himself when He took on human flesh (Mt 1:21).

THE PRIESTLY MESSIAH IN ANCIENT JEWISH HISTORY AND THOUGHT

The Jewish uprising against Antiochus IV beginning in 166 BC was led by the priestly family of Mattathias (the father of the Maccabees), and so it is not surprising that during the subsequent Hasmonean Dynasty (163–142 BC), some of the national leaders combined the priesthood with the monarchy (beginning with Aristobulus I). Thus, it was a descendant of Aaron rather than a descendant of David who ruled the nation as king. Although this was a political phenomenon rather than a theological one (in other words, the hope of a Davidic king was not displaced, nor does it appear that theological justification for a priestly ruler was sought for based on Scripture),32 the fact that the national leader was a priest must have helped prepare the way for the concept of two messianic figures, one from David and one from Aaron. Thus, the Dead Sea Scrolls speak of “the Messiahs of Aaron and Israel” (along with the Prophet),33 while the Testament of the Twelve Patriarchs (c. 100 BC–AD 100; see further, below) speaks of messianic figures from Judah and Levi, both of them highly exalted. While there is no connection made in these texts to Zch 6, it is highly probable that biblical texts such as this (along with Ps 110) played a role in shaping the thinking of these religious Jews whose teachings overlap chronologically, if not intersect theologically, with the ministry of Jesus.

Interestingly, at 4umran, Melchizedek took on an eschatological, semi-divine status in the Melchizedek Scroll (cited as either 114Melch or 11413), being closely identified with YHWH in some texts (especially Isa 61:1-2, which was quoted by Jesus in Lk 4:18-19) and apparently associated with the “anointed one” in Dan 9:25. 34 The Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs also speak of two messianic figures, one from Judah (the royal Messiah, descended from David) and one from Levi (the priestly Messiah, descended from Aaron). This writing, however, must be used with caution since the work in its final form is certainly Christian, although it just as certainly utilized earlier Jewish sources. As Collins notes, “We must tread carefully here, however, since many of the Levi-Judah passages in the Testaments actually speak of only one figure, who must be identified as Christ.”35 In some of the key messianic passages, in particular T. Levi 18 and T. Judah 24, Collins suggests that “we should think in terms of a Jewish core, expanded by a Christian redactor,” summarizing with this: “it would seem that T. Levi 18 builds on a Jewish text that envisaged an eschatological priest, and T. Judah 24 incorporated a Jewish prediction of an eschatological king.”36 It is significant that in rabbinic thought, the priestly work of the Messiah has all but disappeared, let alone any concept of a future, priestly Messiah.37 It is impossible to determine whether this was in reaction to the Christian emphasis on the priestly ministry of Jesus (see especially Hebrews for NT foundations) or whether it was simply the result of the Messiah being envisioned more and more in the image of the rabbi-teacher. Either way, it is the lack of recognition of the Messiah’s priestly work that has made it more difficult for traditional Jewish people to recognize Jesus as the Messiah.

Even so, Zch 6:9-15 does anticipate a messianic figure, a royal-priest, just as Ps 110:4 looks forward to an eternal king priest. Thus the author of Hebrews recognizes Jesus as that royal high priest, writing, “It is evident that our Lord came from Judah, and about that tribe Moses said nothing concerning priests” (Heb 7:14). Therefore, he concludes that Jesus is indeed a priest after a different order, not of Levi, but of Melchizedek (Heb 7:15-17). The author of Hebrews also identifies Jesus, the son of David, as the referent of both Zch 6 and Ps 110, concluding that Jesus “is the kind of high priest we need: holy, innocent, undefiled, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens” (Heb 7:26), in fact, a high priest, “who has been perfected forever” (Heb 7:28).

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1. Unless those prophecies are interpreted with reference to the Messiah son of Joseph, a figure of secondary importance in rabbinic literature. See the article “Messiah in Rabbinic Literature” in this book.

2. Note the parallel passage in 1Chr 18:17 which reads “the chief officials at the king’s side.”

3. See Psalm 110.

4. Mark J. Boda, The Book of Zechariah (New International Commentary on the Old Testament; Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2016), 383. Rabbinic interpretation of Zch 6:1-8 is varied and tends not to make a direct connection with what follows. Kenneth Taylor, however, finds the placement significant, based on the earlier visions of chaps. 3 and 4, writing here, “Thus restored Israel is seen in the future under the glorious reign of the messianic King-Priest” (“Zechariah,” in Tremper Longman III and David Garland, eds., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Revised Edition [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008], 8:779). He also notes (ibid.) that, “The passage is typical-prophetical. Joshua serves as a type of the Messiah, but at certain points the language transcends the experience of the type and becomes more directly prophetic of the antitype.”

5. Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1962), 109–10.

6. According to V. H. Matthews, M. W. Chavalas, and J. H. Walton, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2000), in Zch 6:11, “The crown referred to here is a circlet, and, though it is occasionally worn by royalty, it more often adorns a person who is being honored or celebrated. It can be made of precious metals, as it is here, but can also be made of flowers or greenery.” But since the context speaks of the High Priest sitting on a throne and ruling, it is clear that the crown was also of royal significance. According to Boda, Zechariah, 393, “The term for crown here (at ārâ) is one regularly associated with royalty in the OT, described on the head of a king in 2 Sam. 12:30//1 Chr. 20:2; Ps. 21:3; Jer. 13:18; Ezek. 21:31(26); Song 3:11. Other passages, however, show that such a crown is not restricted to the king in a royal court.”

7. Compare, however, Boda, Zechariah, 387, who notes that “it is possible that a singular verb can be used with a plural noun (see GKC §464k; Davidson §113).” Conversely, he adds, “The plural form of the noun may also be used for a singular entity, either to indicate a ‘plural of excellence’ (see [Zch 6:11] NASB, ‘ornate crown’) or a composite headpiece (see Rev. 19:12, diadēmata polla).”

8. See Kevin J. Cathcart and Robert P. Gordon, The Targum of the Minor Prophets (Aramaic Bible 14; Wilmington: Glazier, 1989), 199.

9. According to the Jewish Study Bible, reflecting both traditional and contemporary Jewish scholarship, “it is unlikely that the readership of the book as a whole … would have understood references to a messianic king (cf. Jer 23:5-6; 33:15-16) as being actually fulfilled in the person of Zerubbabel by the time he built the Temple” (1253, to Zch 3:8). This is contrary to Rashi’s view, cited below.

10. Ralph L. Smith, Micah–Malachi, Word Biblical Commentary (Dallas: Word, 1998), 216.

11. Yaakov Elman, ed. and trans., The Living Nach: The Later Prophets (Brooklyn, NY: Moznaim, 1996), 776, also reflecting Orthodox Jewish thought, renders v. 13b with, “And there will be a priest before his throne,” meaning the throne of the Branch, understanding Heb. ‘al to mean “before” rather than “on.”

12. Boda, Zechariah, 395, renders v. 13: He himself will build the temple of Yahweh. He himself will bear majesty. He will sit and rule on his throne. A priest will be on his throne…”

13. See also the significant prophetic word to Zerubbabel in Hag 2:20-24.

14. Jewish Study Bible, 1256.

15. Smith, Micah–Malachi, 218.

16. Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, Tyndale Old Testament Commentary (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1981), 136–37.

17. Wolter H. Rose, Zemah and Zerubbabel: Messianic Expectation in the Early Postexilic Period (Journal for the Study of the Old Testament Supplement 304; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 2000). Rose also views the oracle to Zerubbabel in Hag. 2:20–23 as messianic.

18. Ibn Ezra also notes that some interpreters believe the Messiah will be called Zerubbabel in the future, just as some passages (e.g., Ezk 34:23-24; 37:24-25) speak of the Messiah being a future David.

19. The end of Rashi’s comment, following b. Sanh. 38a, equates Zerubbabel with Nehemiah.

20. Rabbi Yitzchok Stavsky, Trei Asar: The Twelve Prophets, Vol. II: Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (ArtScroll Tanach Series; Brooklyn: Mesorah Publications, 2009), 239.

21. Ibid.

22. J. P. Lange, P. Schaff, and T. W. Chambers, A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Zechariah (Electronic edition; Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 53.

23. H. D. M. Spence-Jones, ed., The Pulpit Commentary: Zechariah (London; New York: Funk & Wagnalls Company, 1909), 59.

24. C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, electronic ed. (Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996), 10:554. 25. Barker, “Zechariah,” 770. At v. 12, Barker points to Jn 19:5 (spoken of Jesus), “Here is the man!” noting that this verse “may well be intended by John as an allusion to the statement, “Here is the man whose name is the Branch” (ibid., 771–72).

26. According to Boda, Zechariah, 384–85, “For the majority of interpreters, the Sprout figure was from the outset linked to Zerubbabel. Many of these see in the interpretive difficulties and textual variances associated with 6:9–15 evidence of later revisions that shifted this original hope onto other figures, whether that is an anonymous future royal figure from the Davidic line or the present priestly figure of Joshua and the priestly Zadokite line he reestablished.”

27. LXX renders v. 13 with, “And he will receive distinction, and he will sit and rule upon his throne, and the priest will be on his right hand, and there will be a peaceful plan [between] both” (as translated in the Lexham English Septuagint).

28. Cf. also RSV; NRSV; TEV; REC; CEV; CJB.

29. Cf. also KJV; RV; NASB; NIV.

30. Cf., however, D. J. Clark and H. A. Hatton, A Handbook on Zechariah (New York: United Bible Societies, 2002), 175, who states that the final clause “definitely speaks of two people.”

31. Boda, Zechariah, 400.

32. Note, however, that Abravanel believes that both crowns in Zch 6 symbolized the monarchy, one for the high priest and one for the king, in anticipation of the Hasmonean dynasty, although because Joshua was the high priest and not a descendant of David, only the silver crown was placed on his head.

33. 14S 9:11; see also 44175 (Testimonia); for discussion, see Collins, Scepter and Star, 79–109, where other relevant texts are also analyzed. Collins notes that there is “impressive evidence that the Dead Sea sect expected two messiahs, one royal and one priestly” (ibid. 83).

34. See Sam Shamoun, “The Dead Sea Scrolls and God’s Uniplurality: Some Observations on Melchizedek,” Answering Islam, http://www.answeringislam.org/Shamoun/melchizedek-scroll.htm. He claims that in this text, Melchizedek is associated directly with the God of Israel, indicating that devout Jews at that time did not have a problem with such a concept.

35. Collins, Scepter and Star, 102, with reference to M. de Jonge, “Two Messiahs in the Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs,” in Jan W. van Henten, et al., eds. Tradition and Re-Interpretation in Jewish and Early Christian Literature: Essays in Honour of Jurgen C. H. Lebram (Studia Post Biblica; Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, 36; Leiden, Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1997), 191–203. See also T. Judah 21:1–4, where it is asserted that the kingship is subservient to the priesthood.

36. Ibid., 105. See ibid., 105–08, for further discussion of the “Levi tradition,” including the Levi Apocryphon from 4umran (44541).

37. Note that the Messiah son of Joseph, a secondary messianic figure in rabbinic thought, does not correspond to the priestly messianic figure of the Dead Sea Scrolls or the Testament of Levi, and his function is martial rather than priestly, dying in war rather than serving as a priest. Even although Al-Sheikh’s homiletical comment to Zch 12:10 speaks of the atoning power of the death of Messiah son of Joseph, this appears to be linked to the rabbinic concept that the death of the righteous atones (see Michael L. Brown, Answering Jewish Objections to Jesus: Vol. 2: Theological Objections [Grand Rapids: Baker, 2003], 153–167), as opposed to the idea that the Messiah would function as a priest.

FURTHER READING

PROVERBS 8:22-36: THE ETERNALLY BEGOTTEN SON

PROVERBS 30:4: THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE SON

ISAIAH 7:1-16: IMMANUEL HAS COME!

ISAIAH 9:1-7: THE GOD-CHILD IS BORN!

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