11 “As for you also, Because of the blood of your covenant, I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit. 12 Return to the stronghold, You prisoners of hope. Even today I declare That I will restore double to you. 13 For I have bent Judah, My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim, And raised up your sons, O Zion, Against your sons, O Greece, And made you like the sword of a mighty man.”
Verses 11-17 hark back to Jehovah’s protection of the nation Israel. The Messiah will bring peace to the world.
“As for you [Israel] also,
Zechariah addresses both the Jews who returned from exile in Babylon and all Jews who will exist in the future.
Because of the blood of your covenant,
“Blood” is the means of ratifying a covenant with animal sacrifice. God is faithful to His covenants with Israel, and he will be faithful to His promises to the nation Israel. The ultimate fulfillment of the Mosaic and Abrahamic Covenants is when the Messiah returns to set up His kingdom for the Jews (Gen 15-18; Ex 24:8). He confirmed His covenants with a blood sacrifice (Gen 15:8-21).
I will set your prisoners free from the waterless pit.
Waterless pits were a means of confining prisoners in the ancient world (Jer 38:6).
Return to the stronghold [fortress], You prisoners of hope.
“Return” carries the idea of repentance (Jer 3:12, 14; 4:1-2).
The “stronghold,” or fortress here, is Jehovah Himself dwelling in Jerusalem. These Jewish prisoners had “hope” because of God’s promise in the Abrahamic and Mosaic Covenants. Despite raging anti-Semitism throughout the years, the Jews had “hope” that the Messiah would come (Jer 31:17).
Even today I declare That I will restore double to you.
The Messiah’s reign in the Millennium will bring prosperity to Israel; they will know twice as many blessings as ever before in their history. Even when there seemed to be no hope, God promised Israel a future for the returning exiles. He will doubly bless Israel when He brings the Millennial kingdom (Isa 61:7).
For I have bent Judah [tribe in southern Israel], My bow, Fitted the bow with Ephraim [symbol of the 10 northern tribes],
Judah depicted as a bent “bow” shows the tribe as an instrument of war. Ephraim will be arrows for the bow. Both bow and arrow are vital for the unified victory of Israel. These kingdoms are the instruments of the Messiah’s war.
And raised up your sons, O Zion,
This phrase is a call to war for Israel to the citizens of Zion. This is a challenge for Israel to fight the Maccabean Wars.
Against your sons, O Greece,
The Messiah will have victory over Greek rulers in foreign lands when He comes. Verse 13 may refer to the conflict of the Maccabees (169-135 BC) with Syrian Greek rulers: Antiochus IV Epiphanes (Dan 8:9-14; 11:32), Antiochus V Eupator, Antiochus VI, and Antiochus VII Sidetes. The victory over Greece points to a day when our Lord will gain sovereignty over the world for Israel. He will do this at the end of the Tribulation of seven years. This period was partially fulfilled by the Maccabean Wars over the Greek ruler of Syria, Antiochus Epiphanes, between the writing of the Old and New Testaments in the second century BC (Dan 8:9-14; 11:32). The final victory belongs to the Messiah.
And made you like the sword of a mighty man.”
The sword of a mighty warrior shows that God will weaponize Israel to defeat her enemies.
The Messiah has a dual role on earth.
Jesus reintroduced the idea of the “blood of the covenant” when He came to earth (Mark 14:24).
The abrupt shift of emphasis from the King who brings universal peace in verses 9 and 10 to one who brandishes a sword against the world shows us the dual role of the Messiah/King in His relationship to the world. In His first coming, the Messiah offered peace and His kingdom. In His Second Coming, He will exercise judgment against the world.