Zechariah 12-14 is the second oracle of the second half of the book of Zechariah. The first half of Zechariah contained eight visions (Zechariah 1-6) and four messages (Zechariah 7-8). The second half of Zechariah comes in the form of two oracles (the Hebrew term only occurs in Zechariah 9:1, 12:1 and Malachi 1:1). The first (Zechariah 9-11) promised a restored Israel—both Judah and Ephraim—but delayed the promise due to the rejection of Yahweh’s appointed shepherd. The second oracle (Zechariah 12-14) envisions a bright future for Israel and uses apocalyptic (eschatological) language to describe the day when God will realize his promises for Israel.
Zechariah 12-14 falls into two halves with a transitional poem between them. The first half (Zechariah 12:2-13:6) describes the triumph of Israel in the wake of their mournful laments and their subsequent cleansing. The second half (Zechariah 14) envisions a day of rejoicing when even the nations of the earth will worship Yahweh and everything will be inscribed “Holy to Yahweh.” The transitional poem (Zechariah 13:7-9) celebrates the redemption of the remnant of Israel. Zechariah 12-14, then, narrates the final disposition of Israel in God’s eschatological agenda.
Structurally, Zechariah 12:1 functions as a superscription for the whole oracle containing a doxological or liturgical affirmation of Yahweh while the term “behold” (hinneh) identifies new sections. The language recalls the creative work of God, particularly in the Isaianic tradition (cf. Isaiah 42:5; 44:24; 45:12; 51:13): stretching out the heavens, laying the foundation of the earth, and forming the spirit of humanity within them. This liturgical memory underscores God’s universal claim upon the heavens and earth as well as upon all humanity (including the nations). Further, it emphasizes God’s ability to actualize what is promised concerning Israel. Moreover, and perhaps most significantly, the imagery shapes this new work of God which is the stretching, laying and forming of a new creation—a new humanity upon a new heavens and new earth in a new Jerusalem (cf. Isaiah 65:17ff). God is about to repeat his creative work which means redemption for Israel, the nations and the whole earth.
The Hebrew phrase, literally translated “and [it] shall be on that day…” occurs three times in Zechariah 12-13—at 12:3, 12:9 and 13:2. This is a structural device for the first half of the second oracle in Zechariah 9-14. The first half of the oracle is thereby divided into three messages: (1) the renewed status of Israel, particularly Judah, Jerusalem and the house of David (Zechariah 12:2-8); (2) the mourning of Israel over the pierced one (Zechariah 12:9-13:1); and (3) the cleansing of Israel from idolatry and false prophecy (Zechariah 13:2-6).
Zechariah 12:2 is a thematic or thesis sentence for the first movement within Zechariah 12-13. Judah and Jerusalem will be besieged by the nations but the nations will stagger from their encounter as a person drunk with wine. As the succeeding verses recount, this will be a “day,” that is, an eschatological or apocalyptic day. It is the vision of an ultimate future, the goal of God’s work in Israel. It is an “end-time” vision of the “day” of redemption.
On that day (12:3), Jerusalem will be an “immovable rock.” The nations will hit a brick wall. The nations are powerless before Jerusalem.
On that day (12:4-5), Yahweh will blind the horses and their riders from among the nations but will benevolently and graciously keep a watchful eye upon Judah. The leaders of Judah will recognize that Yahweh is the God of Jerusalem.
On that day (12:6-7), the leaders of Judah will consume the surrounding peoples like grass in a wildfire or a firepot deposited in a woodpile. Jerusalem will be safe. Yahweh will preserve the homes of Judah, the house of David and Jerusalem.
On that day (12:8), Yahweh will protect those who live in Jerusalem so that weakest will be as strong as David and the house of David like God. The Davidic promise, the assurance of king who will reign over Israel, is as certain as God is. Israel’s experience will be like the Exodus when the Angel of the Lord led them out of Egypt and into the promised land (Exodus 32:34; 33:2).
Israel will experience a new Exodus, a new creation; a new birth of freedom in the land God promised Abraham. Jerusalem is preserved, Judah is renewed and Israel once again lives in the land free from the oppression of the surrounding nations. This is the eschatological hope of Israel