1 And I turned, lifted up my eyes, and looked, and behold, four chariots came out from between two mountains, and the mountains were mountains of brass. 2 In the first chariot there were red horses, in the second chariot black horses, 3 In the third chariot white horses, and in the fourth chariot grizzled and bay horses. 4 Then I answered and said to the angel who talked with me, "What are these, my lord?" 5 And the angel answered and said to me, "These are the four spirits of the heavens which go forth from standing before the Lord of all the earth. 6 The black horses which are therein go forth into the north country, the white go forth after them, the grizzled go forth toward the south country". 7 And the bay went forth and sought to go so that they might walk to and fro through the earth. And he said, "Go from here, walk to and fro through the earth." So they walked to and fro through the earth. 8 Then he cried out to me and spoke to me, saying, "Behold, these which go toward the north country have quieted my Spirit in the north country."
9 And the word of the LORD came to me, saying, 10 "Take of those who are in captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, who have come from Babylon, and come the same day and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah.
11 "Then take silver and gold, make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest. 12 And speak to him, saying, 'Thus speaks the LORD of hosts, saying, "Behold the man whose name is The BRANCH, and he shall grow up out of his place and he shall build the temple of the LORD. 13 Even he shall build the temple of the LORD, and he shall bear the glory and shall sit and rule upon his throne. And he shall be a priest upon his throne. And the counsel of peace shall be between them both. 14 And the crowns shall be to Helem, to Tobijah, to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah for a memorial in the temple of the LORD. 15 And those who are far off shall come and build in the temple of the LORD, and you shall know that the LORD of hosts has sent me to you. And this shall come to pass, if you will diligently obey the voice of the LORD your God."'"
John Gill's Chapter Summary
This chapter contains a vision of four chariots, and the explanation of it; and an order to make crowns of gold and silver for certain uses mentioned; and a famous prophecy concerning the Messiah as the builder of the temple, the church. The chariots are described by their number, four; by the place, the mountains, from where they came out; and by the different colors of the horses in each of them (verses 1-3); upon the prophets inquiry what these were, an explanation is given of them; and they are said to be the four spirits of the heavens; and are described by their situation, standing before the Lord of the whole earth; by their mission from him; by each of the places to which they were sent; and by their success, or by the good effects produced, at least by some of them (verses 4-8); then follows the order to make the crowns; and it is declared what they should be made of: gold and silver; from whom they were to be had, and who were to be concerned herein; and what was to be done with them: they were to be put upon the head of Joshua the high priest (verses 9-11); who, being an eminent type of Christ, a prophecy concerning him is ordered to be delivered to him; who is described by his name, the man, the Branch; by the place he should grow up from; by the work he should do, building the temple of the Lord; by the glory he should have on account of it; and by the offices of King, Priest, and Prophet, he should execute (verses 12-13); and after this was done, then the crowns were to be laid up in the temple of the Lord for a memorial, by the four men above mentioned (verse 14); and though the Messiah is the chief builder of the temple, the church, yet it is suggested that others, and even Gentiles, should come and build in it; and which when done, it would be evident that the prophet had his mission to the Jews of the Lord; and the chapter is closed with a promise of the accomplishment of all this, should they diligently hearken to the voice of the Lord (verse 15).
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 1-8:
Grant, Almighty God, that since we are here exposed to so many evils, which often suddenly arise like violent tempests,— O grant, that with hearts raised up to heaven, we may acquiesce in your hidden providence, and be so tossed here and there according to the judgment of our flesh, as yet to remain fixed in this truth, which you would have us to believe—that all things are governed by you, and that nothing takes place except through your will, so that in the greatest confusions we may always clearly see your hand, and that your counsel is altogether right, and perfectly and singularly wise and just; and may we ever call upon you, and flee to this port—that we are tossed here and there, that you may ever sustain us by your hand, until we shall at length be received into that blessed rest which has been procured for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.
[v.11] - "make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua" - This may also be read as, "make a double crown, and set it upon the head of Joshua," or, "make an extraordinary crown..." John Owen explains this alternate reading by saying, "As to the crown or crowns, various opinions have been entertained. The most consistent with the whole passage is that of Marckius... He thinks that the plural here is used, as it is often in Hebrew, to express what is large, splendid, great, or extraordinary... In confirmation of this we find the very word here used in its plural form rendered 'a crown' in Job 31:36; and it is followed here, in verse 14, by a verb in the singular number. A large, or a splendid, or a double crown is evidently what is meant. Joshua had his sacerdotal miter before, see Joshua 3:5; and around this was a crown of gold, not of silver, see Exodus 28:36, 39:30; but in the present instance there was to be silver as well as gold. It was therefore an extraordinary crown, and designed clearly to denote what was extraordinary—a priest ruling on a royal throne." Christ is the only priest to also be a king, as said in Psalm 110.
[v.12a] - From John Calvin's Commentary: "The vision is now explained; for if the chief priest, without this explanation, had been adorned with two crowns, there must have been much talk among the people, 'What does this mean?' God here shows that what he has commanded to be done to Joshua does not belong to him, but has a reference to another, 'You shall say to him, Behold the Man, Branch is his name.' It is the same as though the Prophet had expressly testified that Joshua was not crowned, because he was worthy of such an honor, or because he could look for royal dignity; but that he was to bear this honor for a time, in order that the Jews might understand that one was to arise who would be both a king and a priest. Hence he says, that there would be a man, whose name was to be Branch." "Branch," refers to no other than Christ.
[v.12b] - Reference, Isaiah 11:1; Jeremiah 23:5, 33:15; Zechariah 3:8.
John Calvin's Prayer for Verses 9-15:
Grant, Almighty God, that since your Son has been made known to us, through whom is brought to us the perfection of all blessings and of true and real glory,— O grant, that we may continue settled in him, and never turn here and there, nor fluctuate in any way, but be so satisfied with his kingship and priesthood, as to deliver up ourselves wholly to his care and protection, and never doubt but that we are so sanctified by his grace as to be now acceptable to you, and that relying on him as our Mediator, we may offer ourselves as a sacrifice to you with full confidence of heart, and thus strive to glorify you through the whole course of our life, that we may at length be made partakers of that celestial glory which has been obtained for us by the blood of your only-begotten Son. Amen.