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happened, was Zechariah, chap. ix. 9, whose words are more full than the evangelists': Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion: shout, O daughter of Jerusalem : behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvationa; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass. So our ordinary English translations render the place word for word; but whether this translation or others, Greek or Latin, do fully and punctually express the prophet's meaning, is in the next place to be discussed.
CH AP. XVII.
A Comment or Paraphrase upon the first eight Verses of the
ninth of Zechariah ; and of the Connexion betwixt them and the ninth Verse, in which the Manner of our Saviour's coming to Jerusalem was most expressly foretold.
1. This testimony of the prophet Zechariah (as was observed beforel) is merely prophetical, that is, was literally meant of the Messias alone, never verified, much less fulfilled, of any king or prophet; it was a mystery without a type. Other passages in this ninth chapter, such especially as come after this ninth verse, may admit a mystical or allegorical sense: and I should like well of that allegory which Ribera and Rupertus have made upon the former verses, if they had first given us the true and literal sense. But setting aside such passages as the evangelists or apostles have expounded unto us, the best comments which are extant upon this or most other prophecies revealed or written since the building of the second temple by Zerubbabel, are for the most part made to our hands by unpartial unsuspected historians, that is, by Jews or heathens, so we Christians would take the
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pains to peruse, and diligently compare their narrations of matter of fact with sacred prophetical predictions. For the true and literal sense of this whole ninth chapter of Zechariah, besides the ninth verse, an ordinary scholar may better inform himself from Arrianus, Quintus Curtius, and Josephus, or others which write of Alexander's wars, than from Ribera, Rupertus, or all the professed Christian commentators which have not had the hap to consult these heathenish or Jewish historians. And some passages in the latter part of this chapter there be, unto which the history of the Maccabees (though apocrypha for matter of faith) may give great light for the right understanding of them. My purpose is only to touch upon some few such passages in the first part of this chapter as are conducent to the point in hand, that is, to make a clear and ocular demonstration how this prophecy avouched by St. Matthew, and others in this
ninth chapter of Zechariah, were fulfilled. 841 2. The burden of the word of the Lord in the land
of Hadrach, and Damascus shall be the rest thereof: when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the Lord. And Hamath also shall border thereby; Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise. And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire. Zechariah ix. 1-4. Josephus in his book of Jewish Antiquities, briefly relating the swift success of Alexander in his war, relateth the events in the same order and method which the prophet Zechariah had foretold them in. That he first overran Syria and took Damascus, and afterward besieged Tyre, which held out nine months against
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those forces which had conquered the Persians, Syrians, and other eastern parts in less space. As for the writ drawn for the execution of Tyre, you see it is punctually drawn by the prophet Zechariah, but who shall assure us that it passed the seal, or was executed according to the tenor of his commission. By her power in the sea the prophet meant, as the oracle in like case did, her wooden walls, or multitude of ships; and these, as Curtius tells us, being almost all sunk or taken, their chief fort was surprised by the Macedonian army. After her walls were scaled, the greatest part of her defendants, summa tectorum obtinebant, saxa, et quod in manibus fors dederat ingerentes subeuntibus, did annoy the assailants from the tops of their houses with stones, or whatsoever came first to hand. So this their last and desperate fury did blow the fire of God's wrath which was kindled against them, from the prophet Zechariah's time. For as this heathenish writer adds, Alexander exceptis qui in templa confugerant, omnes interfici ignemque tectis injici jubet, commands that all should be slain besides such as fled into the temples, that their dwellinghouses should be burnt. This great conqueror in all this war, though he expressly knew not his commission, was but God's sheriff, and (though intending no such thing) did see the execution should be according to the prophet's sentence. How much Tyrian blood was shed in this siege, as Curtius saith, may in part be hence gathered : besides all that died in that miserable sea-fight, or those fierce skirmishes about the walls, after the Macedonians had made entry both by sea and land, six thousand of such as bare arms were forthwith slain, two thousand hanged on gibbets along the shore, that Ashkelon, as it followeth in the prophet, ver. 5, might see it, and fear; and the hopes of Ekron be confounded. And as
Arrianus, Josephus, and some others tell us, Tyre being thus miserably ransacked, the other cities of Syria or Palestina yielded without resistance. Only the strength of situation, store of provision, the resolution and fidelity of the governor to Darius the Persian emperor, emboldened Gaza to hold out for a time as stoutly as Tyre had done: for that part which God had appointed her and her king or governor to act, was not fear, but sorrow : Ashkelon shall see it, and fear ; Gaza also shall see it, and be very sorrowful, and Ekron ; for her expectation shall be ashamed ; and the king shall perish from Gaza, and Ashkelon shall not be inhabited. ver. 5.
3. The greater danger the conqueror himself did in the assault of Gaza incur, the more grievous was her ransack, and the greater was the cruelty practised upon the conquered. Alexander's wounded body did exasperate his heroical mind to imitate Achilles (his
pretended progenitor) as much at this time in de842 spiteful revenge, as at other times he had done in
valour. For by Alexander's appointment, Batis, as Curtius instyles him, the governor of Gaza, or deputy king for Darius, being yet as full of life and spirit as of bleeding wounds, was dragged by the heels after a chariot through the streets, as Hector had been by Achilles about the walls of Troy. Thus doth confidence in causes accursed by God inevitably bring their undertakers to those disastrous ends, whereto the just will of the Almighty Judge had for their sins appointed them. All this, and much more, which Curtius and Arrianus relate concerning the desolation of Gaza, (we need not be afraid to speak it,) came to pass, that the word of the Lord spoken by Zechariah might be fulfilled : The king shall perish from Gaza, &c. ver. 5. Yet would I not have these words concerning Gaza
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and her governor, being for quantity indefinite, restrained to this particular time or accident: for that were to make this disaster the complete object of the literal sense, of which it is at the most but a principal part. This woful accident might, and, I take it, did portend the like in success of time; and I have ever held those interpreters shortsighted, rather than overseen, who think the several passages in this prophecy must literally refer only to the wars of Alexander, or of the Maccabees : for multitude of like events, though different only in time, not in proportion to prophetical predictions, can neither argue any diversity in their former object, nor any plurality of literal senses. All in their order may be alike literally meant by the same prophet, all alike properly signified by the same words. No man questioneth whether ävOpwtos in Greek or homo in Latin have more significations than one, although in strict propriety of speech they denote or signify as well men now living, as those that died a thousand years ago.
4. Hitherto we have seen how God by Alexander began to pull down the pride of Tyre and of the Philistines; not with purpose utterly to destroy them, as he did the old world, but rather, by this castigation or contusion, to prepare and fit them for that mixture with the Jews, their ancient enemies, which was foretold by the prophet Zechariah, ix. 6,7: And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. And I will take away his blood out of his mouth, and his abominations from between his teeth: but he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah, and Ekron as a Jebusite. The literal truth
c That is, it should be a quiet habitation for bordering nations, or a mixed people.