1 The burden of the word of the Lord— Against the land of Hadrach, And Damascus its resting place (For the eyes of men And all the tribes of Israel Are on the Lord); 2 Also against Hamath, which borders on it, And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise. 3 For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets. 4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out; He will destroy her power in the sea, And she will be devoured by fire.
Chapters 9 through 14 are prophecies. There are two eschatological oracles. The phrase “that day,” which occurs 18 times, points to the future. The central figure is the Messianic king who will both judge and bless. Both oracles center around the Messianic future of Israel. These chapters are the most quoted section of all the prophets by the Gospel passion narratives. The book of Revelation is also heavily influenced by the book of Zechariah.
Chapters 9-11 embrace the first oracle. This burden concerns the Gentile nations of the world and their rejection of the Messiah.
We find the second oracle in chapters 12-14. The second burden deals with the nation Israel and the Coming and acceptance of the Messiah.
The last six chapters of Zechariah comprise matchless prophecies and reveal God’s plan for the future. That is why chapters 9-14 are different from the first eight. These prophecies provide sweeping events of cosmic import involving the conflict of world powers against Israel and the launch of the Messianic kingdom. This section of Zechariah predicts both the first coming and the Second Coming of the Messiah.
The first eight verses of chapter 9 are a prophecy of the conquests of Syria by Alexander the Great. Zechariah 9:1-8 contains an oracle against Syria, which is an enemy of Israel. Verses 1-4 concern Israel’s opponents to the north, and verses 5-8 speak to the nations to the south in Philistia. Verses 11-17 cover Jehovah’s protection of His nation.
The burden [oracle, or heavy pronouncement] of the word of the Lord— Against the land of Hadrach,
This oracle was prophetic. It was a burden that Zechariah must carry to the land of Hadrach, a northern city in Syria, which was Assyrian.
And Damascus its resting place
Damascus is a city in southern Syria, and it was the chief city of the Arameans (Syrians). The “burden” of God’s oracle permanently rested on Damascus in judgment.
(For the eyes of men And all the tribes of Israel Are on the Lord);
Although Alexander the Great was the immediate cause of the destruction of Syria, Jehovah was the ultimate cause. Both Israel and the Syrians stood in awe of God’s judgment on the city. God did not allow anti-Semite nations to destroy the Jews, for worship was to be universal among the tribes.
Also against Hamath, which borders on it [Damascus],
Hamath was a city in northern Syria on the Orontes River about 130 miles north of Damascus. This was a fortress city.
And against Tyre and Sidon, though they are very wise.
Tyre was the most important Phoenician city on the Mediterranean Sea. This city became one of the most influential trading centers of ancient times. It was a city of 150-foot-high walls on an island. They had a navy of 350 ships, which was the largest navy in the world. They also had 1,000 merchant ships. What Nebuchadnezzar could not do in 13 years of siege upon the city (Isa 23:4; Ezek 29:18), Alexander did in seven months by building a causeway to the island. He cast much of the city into the Mediterranean Sea; what he had not thrown into the water was burned.
Sidon is modern Lebanon about 25 miles south of Beirut. Both cities were arrogant for their accomplishments, and they were “wise” in their own eyes because of their fortification and wealth.
For Tyre built herself a tower, Heaped up silver like the dust, And gold like the mire of the streets.
Tyre was a heavily protected fortification. She was very wealthy with silver and gold, and those commodities were as common as dust and mire in the streets (Ezek 28:4-5; 27:33). Tyre was the most significant commercial and naval city in the world.
Behold, the Lord will cast her out [dispossess]; He will destroy her power in the sea, And she will be devoured by fire.
Ezekiel 26:4-5 predicted Tyre’s defeat by the LORD. This was the outcome of Alexander’s conquest of the city. Tyre was situated on the Mediterranean Sea and had the impression of being impregnable. Although Alexander was the human agent, God was the divine Agent that defeated Syria.
Alexander the Great meticulously fulfilled this prophecy in history.
After returning from the discipline of exile in 586-516 BC, having been freed by Cyrus the Persian, the Jews faced enemies throughout Syria. Zechariah wrote in 520 BC. All these nations were anti-Semitic. As God raised up Cyrus, He also sent Alexander the Great to defeat nations adjacent to Israel.
After defeating the Persians at Issus (southeastern Turkey today) in 333 BC, Alexander moved to defeat the Syrian nations on his way to Egypt (vv. 1-4). He was God’s agent on behalf of Israel. In the next section (vv. 5-7), we will see that He brought the Philistines to their knees.
Alexander the Great fulfilled the promise of verses 1-4 in 332 BC with a seven-month siege of Tyre. Self-sufficiency will not stand against God’s judgments. He devastated Tyre so that she never regained her prominence. The Assyrians under Shalmaneser sieged Tyre for seven years; the Chaldeans under Nebuchadnezzar attacked her for 13 years; but Alexander defeated her after seven months by building a half-mile causeway to the island of Tyre. This was 150 years after Zechariah’s prophecy.