Zechariah’s Explicit Messiah Prophecies
Zechariah is considered as a “Minor Prophet” in the Old Testament or Tenakh Bibles, yet the Book bearing his name holds some of the most specific details of any of the prophetic books. It also serves to substantiate the lineage of Jesus of Nazareth that appears in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke.
On the timeline of history, the Book of Zechariah was written during the Persian Empire under the reign of King Darius, reckoned to the 522–486 BC timeframe. It was during a time when the Jews were receiving back their freedoms taken away during their captivity under the rule of Babylon.
Progress on the decree previously issued by Persian King Cyrus to rebuild the Temple destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar’s army had been hindered for years by troublesome political enemies of the Jews. King Darius was compelled to issue another decree to complete the rebuilding of the Temple:
EZ 6:7, 12 “Leave this work on the house of God alone; let the governor of the Jews and the elders of the Jews rebuild this house of God on its site…”May the God who has caused His name to dwell there overthrow any king or people who attempts to change it, so as to destroy this house of God in Jerusalem. I, Darius, have issued this decree, let it be carried out with all diligence!” (NASB)
Genealogies in Matthew and Luke list the descent of Jesus of Nazareth in the lineage of King David that included Zerubbabel, son of Shealtiel, son of Jeconiah, who was the last sitting king of Israel. Substantiating the Gospels’ lineage, Zechariah wrote that Zerubbabel would lay the foundation for the rebuilding of the Temple. The Biblical Books of Ezra and Haggai provide extensive details about Zerubbabel’s efforts to rebuild the Temple.
Messiah prophecies built upon each other over time revealing more specifics. From Abraham to Moses to David and the many prophets thereafter, the prophecies over the course of the previous 1500 years came in the form of a blessing, visions, trances, parables, dreams and even to Moses at Mt. Sinai.
Prophecies of Zechariah came in the form of visions and oracles, some very straightforward and specific, others more challenging to interpret. In one of the most specific, straightforward of any Messiah prophecy, Zechariah foretold how the Messiah would come riding on a colt foal donkey , an unridden male under a year old:
Zech 9:9 “”Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, Lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey.”” (NKJV) 
Branch prophecies were issued by three prophets during the span of over 200 years. Before the Jewish Captivity of King Nebuchadnezzar, Isaiah issued a Branch prophecy. During the Babylonian Captivity, Jeremiah delivered two more Branch prophecies. After the Babylonian captivity during rule of the Persian Empire, twice Zechariah issued Branch prophecies and confirmed the identity of “My Servant” in Isaiah’s parashah prophecy:
Zech 3:8 “…For behold, I am bringing forth My Servant the BRANCH.”
Zech 6:12-13 “…Thus says the LORD of hosts, saying: ‘Behold, the Man whose name is the BRANCH! From His place He shall branch out, And He shall build the temple of the LORD; Yes, He shall build the temple of the LORD. He shall bear the glory, And shall sit and rule on His throne; So He shall be a priest on His throne, And the counsel of peace shall be between them both.’” (NKJV)
Christianity views these Branch prophecies to be foretelling the Messiah; however, in Judaism there is a split on their meaning. Jewish sage Rabbi Maimonides viewed the Branch prophecies to be about the Messiah. Rabbi Rashi viewed them to be prophecies about Zerubbabel while acknowledging others view them to be about the Messiah.
Jewish and Christian authorities alike recognize Zechariah 12:10 as a Messiah prophecy with nearly unanimous consensus that the Messiah would be killed. Differing views on how he would be killed centers squarely on the meaning of one Hebrew word, daqar, translated in essentially two ways: “pierced” or “thrust through.”
Debate in the Babylonian Talmud Gemara took place in Sukkah 52a over the meaning of the Zechariah 12:10 prophecy. One faction viewed it as referring to the death of the “Evil Inclination” and the other side believed the prophecy to be referring to the death of the Messiah. Jewish Bibles translate daqar as “thrust him through.”
Zech 12:10 “…and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born.” (Jewish Publication Society)
Traditional Christian Bibles translate daqar as “pierced,” but it is not unanimous. Contemporary, simplified Bible translations are more closely aligned with the Jewish Bibles’ interpretation of daqar as stabbed or thrust through with a spear.
“… then they will look on Me whom they pierced.”(New King James Version)
“They will look at me, whom they have stabbed.” (God’s Word Translation)
“They’ll then be able to recognize me as the One they so grievously wounded–that piercing spear-thrust!” (Message)
Language analysis reveals the Hebrew word, daqar, appears in the Tenakh or Old Testament nine other times – eight different Books plus one other use by Zechariah. In all instances, the word is always used in the context of wounds inflicted by a type of weapon such as a sword or spear.
Zechariah’s prophecies may be fewer in number, but some are very specific and have major implications to the prophetic life and death of the Messiah. Were his prophecies fulfilled by the life and death of Jesus of Nazareth?
Updated March 10, 2022.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.
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