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Introduction to the book of Zechariah



The book of Zechariah, contains the words of the prophet Zechariah, who came to encourage the inhabitants of Jerusalem.  He along with Haggai urged the inhabitants to complete the Temple rebuilding project, which had been stalled because of charges made against the Jews. 

            Zechariah proclaimed the future glories of Jerusalem, which now lay desolate, after the Babylonian destruction 66 years earlier. (Jeremiah 39) In the context of Jerusalem’s desolations, and its future glory, Zechariah reveals the coming of Jerusalem’s great king, the Messiah, who would rule the earth. 

Second only to Isaiah, the book of Zechariah has the greatest number of prophecies regarding the coming of Messiah.  Zechariah pictures both the first and second comings of Messiah (Christ), Zechariah shows both the “Suffering Messiah” who rides into Jerusalem on a donkey, and “King Messiah” who rules the earth (Zechariah 9:9-10). The one who is pierced, comes to the aid of Jerusalem in the last days as the armies of the world surround the city (Zechariah 12;10), king Messiah returns to rule and reign over His people during the Millennium [1](Zechariah 14:16-21).

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The book is named after the prophet Zechariah, “Son of Berechiah” the grandson of Iddo (Zechariah 1:1).  Zechariah, like Ezekiel and Jeremiah was probably a priest.  Iddo is mentioned as one of the priests who returned to Jerusalem in 538 B.C. (Nehemiah 12:4,16)

Zechariah is called “Son of Iddo”, in Ezra 5:1, and Nehemiah 12:16), but since there is no term grandson in Hebrew “ben” would mean descendent of Iddo, son of son.

 Historical Background

            The Jews of Jerusalem had been taken captive into Babylon on three occasions, the first occurred in 605 B.C., when hostages such as Daniel were taken to secure the peace of the city.  The second occurred in 597 B.C., after the city rebelled against Babylonian authority, more hostages including Ezekiel (Ezk. 1:1) were taken.  In 586 B.C., the third time, the Babylonians destroyed the city and the Temple.  They killed most of the people, took captives including Jeremiah, who was later forced to go to Egypt with the rebels.  Until the year 539 B.C., the descendents of Judah remained under Babylonian captivity.

            In 539 B.C. the Persian king, Cyrus the Great defeats Babylon and allows the Jews to return and rebuild their Temple.   According to Ezra (Ezra 2:64-67), about 50,000 returned to Jerusalem.  Opposition soon grew to the Temple rebuilding project, letters were sent to the king, by enemies of the Jews, accusing them of rebellion and the Temple building was halted.

            In 530 B.C., Cyrus died and was succeeded by his son Cambyses, who killed his brother in secret, he was an unpopular king, which led to a Persian revolt. While in Egypt, there was a rebellion which occurred led by a Magian, named Gautna who claimed to be the brother of Cambyses. During this rebellion in Persia, Cambyses was fatally wounded in Egypt, he confessed to killing his brother earlier.  With this information Darius, returned to Persia and put down the rebellion and became king himself in 522 B.C.  The empire revolted against his authority, and he was forced to subdue the rebellious satraps (governors). 





Cyrus the Great

555-530 B.C.

Cyrus defeats Babylon, allows the Jews to return and rebuild their Temple.  He is killed in 530 B.C., succeeded by his son Cambyses.


530-522 B.C.

Cambyses goes to war against Egypt and dies, on his death bed he confesses to killing his brother. Darius, a commander, and an Achaemenian[2] returns to Persia to stop the rebellion.


522 B.C.

March 11-Sept 29th

Claimed to be the brother of Cambyses, who died in Egypt. He was defeated by Darius the Great, who assumed power.

Darius the Great

522-485 B.C.

Darius assumes power after killing Gautana, who claimed to be Cambyses brother.  Its during his reign, Haggai and Zechariah appear in Jerusalem.


486-465 B.C.

Son of Darius the Great, he is known for being the husband of Queen Ester. Also the Persian king defeated at Marathon by the Greeks.

Artaxerxes Longimanus

465-424 B.C.

Son of Xerxes, allowed Nehemiah to rebuild the walls of Jerusalem.


            In 520 B.C., he allowed the Temple construction completion, after a search was made for the Cyrus decree allowing the Temple to be rebuilt (Ezra 1).  When it was found, Darius allowed the project to move forward.(Ezra 6)  He threatened death to anyone who would prevent its completion.

            Haggai and Zechariah urged the people to move forward with the project, not to fear the people of the land. (Ezra 5:1-3)




Chapter 1-8

Zech. 1:1-6

General Introduction



Eight Visions of the Night

a. Vision of the four horses and man among the Myrtle tree (Zech 1:7-17)

b. Vision of the four horns and craftsman (Zech 1:18-21)

c. Vision of man with the measuring line

d. Visions of the High Priest  (Zech 3;1-5)

e. Vision of the Lamp-stand and two olive trees (Zech. 4:1-14)

f. Vision of the flying scroll  (Zech. 5:1-4)

g. Vision of women in the basket (Zech. 5:5-11)

h. Vision of the four chariots (Zech. 6:1-8)




Various prophecies

a. Coronation of Joshua as High Priest  (Zech. 6:9-15)

b.  True righteousness versus fasting  (Zech 7:1-7)

c. The glorious future  (Zech 8:1-23)



Chapters 9-11

Zechariah 9:1- 11:17

a. God judgment on the nations (Zech. 9:1-8)

b.  The Messianic Kingdom (Zech. 9:9-17)

c. God alone the giver of rain (Zech. 10:1-2)

d. Triumphant deliverance and return of exile (Zech. 10:3-11:3)

e. Good and Bad shepherds (Zech. 11:4-17)


Chapters 12-14

Zechariah 12-14

1. Future Deliverance and Blessing (Zech. 12:1-14)

2. Rooting out of Idolatry and False Prophecy (Zech. 13;1-6)

3. National Purification  (Zech. 13:7-9)

4. The Last Battle (Zech. 14:1-21)



The Message of Zechariah


            Zech Zechariah is book of hope, presenting to the Jews of Jerusalem the ultimate triumph of the God of Israel and the establishment of His kingdom over the world.  In the book of Zechariah, both the First and Second comings of Jesus the Messiah are described.

The Messiah is presented as the “BRANCH” (3:8) and God’s shepherd (13:7).  Zechariah also pictures the dual office of Messiah as both priest and king (6:13)

             Messiah the King is pictured entering Jerusalem and a donkey and yet ruling over the nations (9:9) (See Mat. 21:4-5, John 12:14-16)  Messiah is also seen sold for 30-pieces of silver (11;12,13; see Matthew 27:9-10). He is pierced (12:10, See John 19;37). His death provides a cleansing of sin (13:1)

            Regarding the Second Coming, we see the return of the “Pierced” one at Armageddon when all the nations gather against Jerusalem.  We see the how the armies melt away at the presence of the Lord in the final conflict (14:12).


[1] The Millennium is doctrine disputed by some, but clearly presented in scripture. According to Revelation 20:1-6, during a one-thousand year period, the saints will rule and reign with Christ (Messiah)..  During this time Jerusalem will be an exalted city, and the capital of the earth.

[2] Achaemenian was the name of the person who founded the Persian dynasty founded by Cyrus the Great.