- Christogenea Internet Radio
The opening notes for tonight’s program are found below, as an appendix to the notes for this presentation. They are also posted at the Christogenea Forum in a thread titled What is a Bastard?
The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 6: Burdens and Bastards
Discussing the previous 8 chapters of this prophecy of Zechariah, we hope to have established that they are actually a series of rather profound but complex prophetic visions which have two purposes. First, in the interpretation which we call the near vision, they are a prophecy of the immediate circumstances of the building of the temple and the founding of the 70-weeks kingdom. But more importantly, in the interpretation which we call the far vision, they are prophetic of the ministry of the Christ and the building of the Body of Christ which is the true temple of Yahweh. As we also hope to have seen, this true temple was to be built in the captivity of the woman in judgment, in the gathering of scattered Israel through Yahshua Christ in order to reconcile them to Yahweh their God. The purpose of the second temple and the 70-weeks Kingdom was to produce and herald the Messiah, and the overall purpose of Zechariah’s prophecy was to foretell some of the events. Circumstances and the purpose of His coming.
These prophecies of the scattering and subsequent gathering of Israel and the reconciliation of the children of God through Christ culminated in the last passage of Zechariah chapter 8. There we see a clear prophecy of the spread of the Gospel of Christ where it says “23 Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a [Judahite], saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” We have asserted that the ten men must be representative of the scattered so-called “ten lost tribes”, and he who is a Judaean (not a Jew, but a Judahite) must be a reference to the apostles of Christ.
Here as we commence our commentary with Zechariah chapter 9, the chapter division may imply that what we are about to see is distinct from what we had seen in the previous chapter, however that is not necessarily the case, rather it only seems to be an extension of what was said previously.
9:1 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.
As chapter 8 ended, we see a prophecy of the gospel in the ten men, representing the so-called “ten lost tribes” of Israel, who took hold of a Judahite because they knew that God was with him. We asserted that the reference to the Judahite had to be to the apostles of Christ. Here we see that the eyes of all of the tribes of Israel would be upon Yahweh their God, and that would require a hearing of the Gospel in order to make that reconciliation., so this is also a Messianic prophecy.
At this point in history, in the Word of Yahweh our God, the word man used here by the translators to represent the Hebrew word adam describes the people of the tribes of the children of Israel. Where we read “when the eyes of man, as of all the tribes of Israel, shall be toward the LORD”, we cannot imagine that anyone but the tribes of Israel are included in such a thought. Simply because the word man may be used to describe something different today does not mean that the Word of Yahweh intended anything but the children of Israel when He used the word adam, as He Himself explains in the language employed here by the prophet. We may errantly believe that bastards are men, but – as Paul said in 2 Timothy chapter 2 - “19 Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his.”
Here we see an oracle given by Yahweh to various cities of the Levant which were within proximity to ancient Jerusalem. Most of these cities are known from the Old Testament histories, and they seem to have still been prosperous at the time of the prophet, which was in the Persian period. There is one exception, and that is Hadrach. There is no place of that name known in Scripture or in any recorded history dating from the Classical, Hellenistic or later periods, and therefore the interpretations of this name are disputed by scholars.
The word Hadrach (Strong’s # 2317) is Sedrach in the Septuagint, which also happens to be the same as the Greek form of the name of one of Daniel’s companions for which the King James Version has Shadrach. The copy found in the Dead Sea Scrolls is missing this important portion of the verse, but the spelling of the word as it is found in the Latin Vulgate agrees with the Masoretic Text. James Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary informs us that the word hadrach is of uncertain derivation, and refers to a Syrian deity (idol) where he seems to be only guessing. However, as George Rawlinson and some later scholars have identified it, the name seems to be a reference to Hatarikka, a city of northern Syria mentioned in certain inscriptions as early as the early 8th century BC. Hatarikka appears in an inscription translated in Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, Princeton University, 1969, edited by James Pritchard, on pages 655 and 656.
In that inscription, it is recorded that Hatarikka was besieged by the armies of ten kings. Among them are “Barhadad, the son of Hazael, king of Aram”, who is know from Scripture, along with the kings of Miletus, Cilicia and other cities. The city was defended by its ruler, Zakir the king of Hamath, who later enlarged it. According to several online dictionaries which cite George Rawlinson’s Ancient Monuments, “Rawlinson would identify [Hadrach, or Hatarikka] with Edessa. He mentions that in the Assyrian inscriptions it is recorded that ‘Shalmanezer III. made two expeditions, the first against Damascus B.C. 773, and the second against Hadrach B.C. 772; and again that Asshurdanin-il II. made expeditions against Hadrach in B.C. 765 and 755.’” However Hatarikka is better identified with the archaeological site of Tel Afis near Aleppo in northern Syria, quite far south-southeast of Edessa. The inscription mentioning Hatarikka which we have just described was found on a stela set up by Zakir after his defense of the city, which was discovered at Tel Afis in 1903. Rawlinson died in 1902, and never saw the inscription which would have caused him to change his identification of the place. James Strong died in the 1880’s, so neither did he have the benefit of this information from later archaeology. We are persuaded that Hatarikka, or Hadrach, was unknown by the Hellenistic period, and therefore it was also unknown to the Septuagint translators, and could not be properly identified. We can imagine that, mentioned along with Damascus and Hamath, Hadrach certainly does refer to the Hatarikka of the ancient inscriptions. But that is not the end of our interpretation...
With this we shall repeat the passage, so that we may comment on other aspects of it: “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.”
These verses seem to have a meaning in different dimensions. While we shall see the near-term fulfillment of the overall prophecy certainly had an impact on ancient Palestine, there also seems to be a message in the names of some of the places mentioned here in this verse and the beginning of verse 2 which we have not yet read. When we presented the prophecy of Micah here a few short years ago, we explained that same thing in relation to portions of his prophecy in Part 2 of that presentation: that certain towns in those areas upon which Yahweh had decreed judgment were singled out because their names had meanings which also offered another dimension to the message in the prophecy. Here we shall examine that same possibility.
Both Damascus and Hamath were under the control of ancient Israel from the days of King David until the Assyrian expansion and conquests of the 9th and 8th centuries BC. Hadrach was near to Hamath, and we see in 2 Chronicles chapter 8 that Solomon had built armories, called “store cities” near to Hamath. We see in 2 Kings 14:28 that Israel had lost control of these cities, but they were recovered in the time of Jeroboam I, around the end of the 10th century. So Damascus, Hamath and, ostensibly, Hadrach as well, were cities in Syria that were once controlled and occupied by Israelites. But Hamath and its cities, which would include Hadrach, were conquered by the Assyrians, the people rebelled in the time of Sargon II (the Assyrian king who also destroyed Samaria), and they were also deported northward. The population of Hamath was then evidently replaced by Assyrians. There are also allusions to this in Isaiah 36:19 and 37:13. But these things had all happened two hundred years before Zechariah wrote. So as Zechariah wrote, he must be referring to these cities allegorically, using the names because they have certain meanings, because the people of Israel are long gone from them. In fact, Hamath and Hadrach, or Hatarikka, were destroyed in the Babylonian period.
In the book of Amos, in chapter 5, we see Yahweh inform the children of Israel that for their sins “will I cause you to go into captivity beyond Damascus”. Beyond Damascus are the regions of Assyria and the cities of the Medes where the children of Israel had been resettled by the Assyrians, and by the time of Zechariah, Assyria and its cities were destroyed, and many of the Sakae, the deported tribes of Israel, were spread west through Armenia and Sacasene and the areas of northern Syria and Anatolia. This is evident in the histories of Josephus, and in the accounts of the Scythians in these regions which are described by Strabo and Diodorus Siculus.
Certain modern Bible dictionaries inform us that hadrach means dwelling, but they offer little substantiation for the statement. However if the Hebrew word is related to the Hebrew word hazer (Strong’s 2690, 2691) and hazeroth (2698), as it seems to be, then it could indeed mean dwelling or settlement. The word hazer describes an enclosure, such as a walled village, and therefore was used to describe a village or settlement. Hazeroth was one of the settlements of the children of Israel during the forty years of wandering in the desert after the Exodus. The name Damascus is said to mean “silent is the sackcloth weaver”, and sackcloth is related to repentance in Scripture. The Hebrew word for the name Hamath, which appears here in verse 2, means fortress.
In the first half of verse 2 here in Zechariah chapter 9 we read:
2 And Hamath also shall border thereby;
Again, the prophecy must be using the names of these places allegorically rather than referring to the literal cities, since Hadrach and Hamath were not near to Damascus. Hamath is 220 kilometers north of Damascus.
These places, Hadrach, Damascus and Hamath, are not being condemned in the prophecy here. Although the burden is for them, there is no word against them and there is no prophecy dealing with them directly. Instead, the burden is in relation to the other cities mentioned here. Neither are these cities mentioned any further in Zechariah’s prophecy. So we must interpret the first two verses of this chapter in a somewhat different manner then as if the literal places are being addressed.
In Zechariah chapter 2 we saw another prophecy of Israel in captivity, where the prophet wrote that “4... Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: 5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. 6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD.” We had also shown that prophecy must refer to Israel in captivity, and Jerusalem is a reference to the seats of government of Israel in captivity, since Jerusalem and the other towns of Judaea always had walls and fortifications.
Because the Hebrew word for Damascus is actually a phrase related to sackcloth, and because the region beyond Damascus was used in Amos to represent the captivity of Israel, we may interpret the word allegorically. The same for Hadrach, which may mean dwelling, and Hamath, or fortress, which in the perspective of the prophet are also beyond Damascus. So here we believe that the names of these places are being used as a rather cryptic message to the children of Israel which is similar to that seen in Zechariah chapter 2. Here we believe that they are being informed that in the land of their dwelling that their rest shall be in their captivity, in the sackcloth of repentance, and that they will be guarded by a fortress, which in Zechariah chapter 2 is described as Yahweh Himself. Then they are also being informed that in this place, the place of their captivity, shall the eyes of all the twelve tribes of Israel be upon Yahweh, which happened when they accepted the Gospel of Christ. So the opening of this vision of Zechariah chapter 9 is for us a vision of the camp of the saints.
But of the places mentioned in the subsequent verses, there are oracles against some of them, and these places are some of the more notable of the remaining cities in Palestine, in the environs of the 70-weeks Kingdom at Jerusalem. They are also, with the exception of Ekron, all situated along the Mediterranean coast. So continuing where we left off with verse 2:
… Tyrus, and Zidon, though it be very wise.
The mainland city of Tyre had already been destroyed by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar, which is mentioned in retrospect in the later half of Ezekiel chapter 29. There is no direct oracle against Sidon here, but in the period after Solomon, Tyre remained independent of Israel, and Sidon was usually its tributary or a part of its kingdom. So the fate of the two cities was often related. Originally both cities belonged to and were settled by the children of the tribe of Asher, although the Israelites had failed to drive all of the Canaanites out of Sidon (Judges 1:31). Since along with Jerusalem itself, the mainland part of Tyre had lain in ruins since the destruction wrought by the Babylonians, the Tyrus being spoken of here is the island part of the city, which the Babylonians had not destroyed.
3 And Tyrus did build herself a strong hold, and heaped up silver as the dust, and fine gold as the mire of the streets. 4 Behold, the Lord will cast her out, and he will smite her power in the sea; and she shall be devoured with fire.
After the Babylonian period, the Tyrians were tributary to the Persians until the time of Alexander the Great. This prophecy is being recorded by Zechariah some time around 518 BC. In the Persian wars against the Greeks that began with the Battle of Marathon around 490 BC, the Tyrians and Sidonians as well as the cities of the Philistines (who were also considered to be Phoenicians by Herodotus) were important ship-builders and supplied the Persian navy with the best of its sailors. According to Herodotus, when the Persians invaded Greece they employed 2,500 ships which were provided by the Tyrians and Sidonians and the other cities of the coast. At the same time, Carthage, a colony of Tyre and subject to them as well, had invaded Sicily. This strategy prevented the Greeks of Sicily and Italy, who were more numerous than those of Greece, from assisting in the defense of their fatherland against the Persians. But in one day, at the battle of Salamis, the entire Persian fleet was destroyed by the Greeks and most of its sailors would never return. The Persian king Xerxes was said to have stood on the shores of Attica, helplessly watching his great navy sink to the bottom of the sea. The naval power of Tyre was greatly diminished at this time, as it was indeed smitten in the sea only a short time after Zechariah’s prophecy. However if Tyre suffered with the loss, the other sea-faring cities of Palestine which were employed by the Persians must have suffered likewise.
Nearly a hundred and fifty years after the Persians failed in their conquest of Greece, Alexander the Great had utterly destroyed the island city. In a building project which had lasted for nearly seven months, the Greeks had filled in a mole out to the island city in order to besiege it, and when they took it they razed it to the ground. The second century Greek historian Arrian, in his Anabasis of Alexander, describing the siege of Tyre by the Greeks had said that “The city was an island and defended on all sides with high walls; at that time the balance of power by sea was in favour of the Tyrians, since the Persians were still masters of the sea and the Tyrians had a large fleet ready for use.” (Arrian, Anabasis of Alexander 2.18.)
Arrian went on to describe the Tyrian effort to impede Alexander’s plans by sea, and how very successful they were. Alexander did not succeed until he collected a navy on his own, from Sidon and Byblos and the cities of the Greeks in the west and the north. However no mention of Ascalon or Azotus are made in relation to these efforts, and therefore the sea-faring power of the Philistines appears to be broken by this time. Later, where Josephus discussed Ascalon or Azotus, no mention is even made of ports there, and when in Antiquities Book 15 he described Herod’s building of a large new port at Caesareia, which was formerly called Strato’s Tower and which was far to the north of the cities of the Philistines but not as far north as Tyre, he only mentions Joppa and Dora as smaller maritime cities on the routes to Egypt to the south.
While the mainland city of Tyre was ultimately rebuilt and restored to grandeur in Roman times, the destruction of the island fulfilled the prophecy found in Ezekiel chapter 26 where the Word of Yahweh said “14 And I will make thee like the top of a rock: thou shalt be a place to spread nets upon; thou shalt be built no more: for I the LORD have spoken it, saith the Lord GOD.”
The prophet continues to discuss the nearby cities of the coast:
5 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. 6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. 7 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.
There is a similar prophecy in Zephaniah chapter 2 where it says “4 For Gaza shall be forsaken, and Ashkelon a desolation: they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day, and Ekron shall be rooted up. 5 Woe unto the inhabitants of the sea coast, the nation of the Cherethites [or mercenaries]! the word of the LORD is against you; O Canaan, the land of the Philistines, I will even destroy thee, that there shall be no inhabitant. 6 And the sea coast shall be dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks. 7 And the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity.”
Here we must digress and discuss the nature of these prophecies at length, comparing the statements in Zechariah and Zephaniah. From the time of the Maccabees, and even today, three of the four places mentioned here appear to be inhabited: Ashkelon, Ashdod and Gaza. Only Ekron was no longer a city, never even mentioned by Josephus, and evidently the land was only sparsely inhabited in the days of the Maccabees, where it is known in I Maccabees from the Greek form of its name, Accaron.
Ashkelon was destroyed by the Babylonians and rebuilt under the Persians around the same time that Zerubbabel returned to Jerusalem. Ashdod was destroyed by the Babylonians, and rebuilt along with Ashkelon. These cities benefited from the same policy of repatriation by which the people of Judah were permitted to return to Jerusalem in the days of Cyrus. Ashkelon was spelled Ascalon in the Septuagint and Hellenistic writings. Ashdod became Azotus in those writings, and it is mentioned in Acts chapter 8, where Gaza is also mentioned. However the sea power of the Philistines certainly seems to have been broken in the Persian period, as we have seen, and as Zephaniah had said, those places do seem to have become nothing more than “dwellings and cottages for shepherds, and folds for flocks.”
Of course, Zephaniah wrote his prophecy a hundred years before Zechariah, so the statements he made were all literally fulfilled in the short term, but only in part. The part where it speaks of Judah and the seacoast was not yet fulfilled. However Zechariah is prophesying very similar things after these cities were destroyed and rebuilt. So if three of these cities remained inhabited, and if they are inhabited today, how are these prophecies true? Here it may become evident that these visions also have a near and far fulfillment. But the far fulfillment is not fulfilled in the manner in which many people may suspect.
In the period covered by the First Book of Maccabees, which is from about 160 to about 129 BC, Gaza, Ekron (Accaron), Ashkelon (Ascalon) and Ashdod (Azotus) were all forcibly subjected to the people of Jerusalem. With this is the fulfillment of Zephaniah 2:7 and Zechariah 9:7.
For example, in 1 Maccabees chapter 10 we read of Jonathan the high priest that he had “84... set fire on Azotus, and the cities round about it, and took their spoils; and the temple of Dagon, with them that were fled into it, he burned with fire. 85 Thus there were burned and slain with the sword well nigh eight thousand men.” In the next passage the people of Ascalon are said to have surrendered themselves to him. Shortly thereafter, he came into possession of “Accaron [Ekron] with the borders thereof”. But there is no indication that Ekron was actually inhabited, and it is only mentioned this one time.
In 1 Maccabees chapter 11 we read of Ptolemy the king of Egypt entering Azotus and it is written “4 And when he came near to Azotus, they shewed him the temple of Dagon that was burnt, and Azotus and the suburbs thereof that were destroyed, and the bodies that were cast abroad and them that he had burnt in the battle; for they had made heaps of them by the way where he should pass. 5 Also they told the king whatsoever Jonathan had done, to the intent he might blame him: but the king held his peace.”
We also read in I Maccabees chapter 11: “60 Then Jonathan went forth, and passed through the cities beyond the water, and all the forces of Syria gathered themselves unto him for to help him: and when he came to Ascalon, they of the city met him honourably. 61 From whence he went to Gaza, but they of Gaza shut him out; wherefore he laid siege unto it, and burned the suburbs thereof with fire, and spoiled them. 62 Afterward, when they of Gaza made supplication unto Jonathan, he made peace with them, and took the sons of their chief men for hostages, and sent them to Jerusalem, and passed through the country unto Damascus.” Gaza was broken down but not quite destroyed by the Maccabees, and later it was rebuilt by the Romans.
Then later on the Judaeans came into the possession of Azotus once again, and we read in 1 Maccabees chapter 14 that as Simon became high priest in place of Jonathan he “33… fortified the cities of Judea, together with Bethsura, that lieth upon the borders of Judea, where the armour of the enemies had been before; but he set a garrison of Judaeans there: 34 Moreover he fortified Joppa, which lieth upon the sea, and Gazera, that bordereth upon Azotus, where the enemies had dwelt before: but he placed Judaeans there, and furnished them with all things convenient for the reparation thereof.”
So we see the fate of Ashdod, Gaza and Ekron, and they were all destroyed, and then, at least in part, they were inhabited by people of Judah. [Here it must be noted, that there were no forced conversions to Judaism until after the period covered by I Maccabees had ended.]
But Ashkelon voluntarily surrendered itself to the Judaeans, and therefore it did not suffer destruction at this time. However Ashkelon by this time was not the Ashkelon of the Philistines. Evidently it came to be inhabited by mixed races sometime during the Persian or perhaps the early Hellenistic period. Flavius Josephus, writing in reference to the time of Pompey, had called the inhabitants “Arabians”. This is seen in Wars of the Judaeans, Book 1: “187 Now, after Pompey was dead, Antipater changed sides, and cultivated a friendship with Caesar. And, since Mithridates of Pergamus, with the forces he led against Egypt, was excluded from the avenues about Pelusium, and was forced to stay at Ascalon, he persuaded the Arabians among whom he had lived to assist him, and came himself to him at the head of three thousand armed men.” The same was true of the other cities. The inhabitants were no longer Philistines, but under the rule of Persians and Greeks they were joined or replaced by Edomites, Canaanites and others, and any ethnic barriers which existed beforetime had been dissolved.
Of these four cities, our prophets say first of Ashkelon that it “shall not be inhabited” and that it shall be a “desolation”. Then of Ashdod that “a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod” and “they shall drive out Ashdod at the noon day”. Then of Ekron that, apparently, it would be “as a Jebusite” and it “shall be rooted up”, and finally of Gaza that “the king shall perish from Gaza” and “Gaza shall be forsaken”.
On the surface of history, it seems that Ashkelon remained inhabited until the 12th century AD, when it was destroyed during the Crusades by Saladin although it had never been occupied by Crusaders. Then the Mamluke dynasty of Egypt destroyed it again and for good, nearly a century later. From that time it remained only a small village until it was taken by the Jews and rebuilt in recent decades. Ashdod was rebuilt by the Romans, and when it came under the rule of Herod he gifted it to his sister Salome. It was garrisoned by Vespasian, but never destroyed. It is said to have had a Christian presence under the Byzantines, although the extent of that may be debated, and it was evidently the site of a coastal fort from the 7th century under the moslems. However with all that, in 1596 under the Ottomans the population was said to be only just over 400 persons, and in a 1922 British census it was just over 5100. The modern Jewish city bearing the name Ashdod in Palestine was built on a different but nearby site in 1956. Ekron was never rebuilt. Today it is only a site for archaeological excavation on a mound known as Tel Miqne, so far as can be determined from an inscription dated to the 6th century B.C. which was discovered in 1996. Gaza, rebuilt by the Romans, flourished until the 7th century when it became the first city of the Levant to fall to the moslems. By the time of the Crusades, in the 11th century the city had already fell to ruins, and was reduced to the size of a village. It was rebuilt under the Ottomans and the modern city was established in the 1890’s.
With all of this background, perhaps we should repeat the words of Zechariah concerning these cities before we comment on them further: “5 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. 6 And a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. 7 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 Hebrew word for arab is from a verb meaning to grow dusky (Strong’s # 6150) or to commingle (Strong’s # 6151). This is especially true when it is used of people, and even the King James translators recognized this, as the word appears of the “mixed multitude” in Exodus chapter 12 and Nehemiah chapter 13. So we have seen from the histories of Josephus that “Arabians”, or bastards, were dwelling in Ashkelon, and the same fate must also have been suffered at that early time by Ashdod and the rest of these cities, since they are all formerly the cities of the same Philistines.
Yet “he that remaineth, even he, shall be for our God, and he shall be as a governor in Judah”, or as it said in Zephaniah, “the coast shall be for the remnant of the house of Judah; they shall feed thereupon: in the houses of Ashkelon shall they lie down in the evening: for the LORD their God shall visit them, and turn away their captivity” and this was fulfilled during the period of the 70-weeks Kingdom, where the remnant of Judah remained in the land for the express purpose of bringing forth the Messiah, Yahshua Christ, who would turn away their captivity, and the remnant of Judah possessed all of these places and inhabited them from the time of the Maccabees.
It may be argued that after the time of Christ these were Christian cities for a long time, until the moslem conquests of the 7th century. But that is not true at all. It is a simple-minded perception of history. Christianity was not the official religion of Rome until the end of the 4th century, and until that time most Romans were never Christians. Paganism was not fully removed from the government, at least officially, until the end of the 5th century. During these centuries, most Romans and most of the people of the pagan provinces were still not Christians even if from that time onward a Christian presence began to appear in most cities. So it cannot be said with confidence that the non-Judaean and non-Syrian populations of the Levant were ever Christian in any great degree before the moslem conquest. In all the writings of the early Christian “Church Fathers”, or Ante-Nicene and Nicene Fathers, as they are called, there are no post-Biblical references to either Ashkelon or to Ashdod, and only a passing mention in some Syriac documents of one Christian martyr in Gaza, whose name was Timotheus. One Christian martyr does not make Gaza, Ashkelon and Ashdod into Christian cities.
It may be argued by the simple-minded that the prophecy has failed, because these three cities: Ashdod, Ashkelon and Gaza, appear to be inhabited throughout most of the last 2,500 years, and they are all large cities again today. But these cities are certainly not inhabited in the eyes of God. Not when they have bastards living in them.
Here is where the Word of God is truly either believed or denied even by most people who profess to be Christians. If these cities have large populations of people in them today, are they truly inhabited in the eyes of God? Are they inhabited if God Himself at the very beginning of this chapter of prophecy had equated the word adam, or man to the people of the tribes of Israel? Are bastards truly men in the eyes of God? Christians have been failing in this perspective for two thousand years, and they still fail.
For example, Paul of Tarsus gives us two alternatives, two possible classifications for people, in Hebrews chapter 12 where he said: “8 But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.” One is either a child of Yahweh God, of the true children of Israel, or one is a bastard. Paul gives no third choice. Where Yahweh said that “a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod, and I will cut off the pride of the Philistines”, He decreed that for the pride of the Philistines, they would be punished and their cities would be inhabited by bastards. And if, as Josephus had told us, Ashkelon was inhabited by Arabians, then the prophecy was already fulfilled in his day. But with all certainty, by the time of the moslem conquests all of these places were being inhabited by bastards. In modern times, the Jews, being Edomites, have returned to rebuild these desolate places, as it was prophesied for them to do in Malachi chapter 1. But these places are still inhabited by bastards, because the Edomite Jews themselves are bastards, just as the modern Palestinians are bastards.
The Philistines were originally an Adamic people descended from Ham through Mizraim, according to Scripture at Genesis 10:14. They were cursed here by Yahweh, whereby Ashdod, and ostensibly their other cities as well, would come to be inhabited by bastards, people of mixed race. Therefore, along with the words of Paul to the Hebrews, and the Law at Deuteronomy 23:2, it is fully evident that to be a bastard is to be a curse upon God’s Adamic people, which He created. If Christians embrace bastards, they are embracing curses. Because the Christian nations have embraced bastards, today the bastards are overrunning the Christian nations. It is well past the time that Christians must stop embracing the bastards.
At the beginning of this chapter, adam, or man, was equated to the people of the tribes of the children of Israel. Then a burden was pronounced upon Hamath, Hadrach and Damascus, which we have explained must represent the captivity of Israel. Then there was a burden against Tyre, and we see that all of the sea-power of the people of the Levant, those bastard people who remained in Palestine during and after the 70-weeks Kingdom, was cut off. We can conjecture that this was another way that Yahweh acted as the protector, the wall fire as He describes it in Zechariah chapter 2, of the tribes of Israel. If His people were not allowed time to settle in their new lands and wax strong, as the prophecies in Micah chapter 4, Isaiah 66:19 and elsewhere explain, then they would not have been able to resist the spread of the bastard races, the flood which came from the mouth of the serpent. So the old sea powers of the Levant had to be broken in ancient times, and that certainly seems to be one of the purposes of this prophecy and the oracles against these cities of the coast.
With this we shall finally resume with Zechariah chapter 9:
8 And I will encamp about mine house because of the army, because of him that passeth by, and because of him that returneth: and no oppressor shall pass through them any more: for now have I seen with mine eyes.
Of course, this prophecy has an apparent near-term fulfillment in the rebuilding of Jerusalem, but that fulfillment was also short-lived. About 450 years from the time when these words were written, the Edomites were in control of Jerusalem and it was ruled over by them as the agents of the Roman empire.
However the actual subject of this prophecy is not merely the remnant of Judah, but “all the tribes of Israel” mentioned in the opening verse, and our interpretation of the purpose of the intervening oracles is vindicated. Here Yahweh promises to protect the camp of the saints because of the army of bastards. This is a Messianic prophecy assuring all the tribes of Israel that they would be saved from their enemies. That is why all the tribes of Israel are told that in the land of their dwelling they would find rest in their repentance and God would be their fortress, as we had interpreted the first verse-and-a-half of this chapter.
The language here is quite similar to that which was spoken in reference to prophetic Jerusalem, to Zion in captivity, where it says in Zechariah chapter 2: “3 And, behold, the angel that talked with me went forth, and another angel went out to meet him, 4 And said unto him, Run, speak to this young man, saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein: 5 For I, saith the LORD, will be unto her a wall of fire round about, and will be the glory in the midst of her. 6 Ho, ho, come forth, and flee from the land of the north, saith the LORD: for I have spread you abroad as the four winds of the heaven, saith the LORD. 7 Deliver thyself, O Zion, that dwellest with the daughter of Babylon.”
And as we proceed to the next verse of this chapter of Zechariah, our contention that this is also a Messianic prophecy is fully vindicated:
9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion; shout, O daughter of Jerusalem: behold, thy King cometh unto thee: he is just, and having salvation; lowly, and riding upon an ass, and upon a colt the foal of an ass.
And of course this was fulfilled in the ministry of Christ, for which we will cite Matthew chapter 21, as Christ is about to enter Jerusalem in the last days of His ministry: “1 And when they drew nigh unto Jerusalem, and were come to Bethphage, unto the mount of Olives, then sent Jesus two disciples, 2 Saying unto them, Go into the village over against you, and straightway ye shall find an ass tied, and a colt with her: loose them, and bring them unto me. 3 And if any man say ought unto you, ye shall say, The Lord hath need of them; and straightway he will send them. 4 All this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, 5 Tell ye the daughter of Sion, Behold, thy King cometh unto thee, meek, and sitting upon an ass, and a colt the foal of an ass. 6 And the disciples went, and did as Jesus commanded them, 7 And brought the ass, and the colt, and put on them their clothes, and they set him thereon. 8 And a very great multitude spread their garments in the way; others cut down branches from the trees, and strawed them in the way. 9 And the multitudes that went before, and that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna to the Son of David: Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord; Hosanna in the highest.”
The laying of garments and branches from the trees in the path of a coming king was apparently an ancient eastern custom which reflected an acceptance of that king. When ancient Babylon had surrendered itself to Cyrus the King of Persia, and he entered the city victoriously, it is written in a surviving inscription commemorating the event that “In the month of Arahshamnu, the 3rd day, Cyrus entered Babylon, green twigs were spread in front of him – the state of ‘Peace’ was imposed upon the city, Cyrus sent greetings to all Babylon.” (Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament, page 306.) Cyrus had entered Babylon only about 21 years before Zechariah had written this prophecy of Christ. Of course, Christ could not make peace with Old Jerusalem, and instead, as it is reported by Matthew, He went to the temple and made war against the bankers and the merchants.
Continuing with Zechariah in relation to this Messianic prophecy, we shall encounter oracles which far transcend the time of the 70-weeks kingdom, although no salvation for Israel was possible without the events which transpired during the time of that kingdom. Here we see a prophecy for “all the tribes of Israel” in relation to their ultimate salvation, and the focus is not upon the remnant of Judah, but rather it is upon the ten tribes of Israel which are often referred to as Ephraim in prophecy, as they are throughout Hosea:
10 And I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim, and the horse from Jerusalem, and the battle bow shall be cut off: and he shall speak peace unto the nations: and his dominion shall be from sea even to sea, and from the river even to the ends of the earth.
We have read nations here rather than heathen, and the Hebrew word is plural. As the Scripture says, there is no peace to the wicked (Isaiah 48:22, 57:21). Certainly Yahweh does not mean to pronounce peace to bastards.
In Ezekiel chapter 37 there are two sticks, one representing Judah and one representing Israel, which were prophesied to be joined into one stick. The stick representing Israel was also called “Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions.” Likewise, the ten northern tribes were referred to by the name of Ephraim throughout the entire prophecy of Hosea, because Ephraim was the birthright tribe of Joseph, who received the double portion of the inheritance from Jacob, and fittingly the capital city of Israel was in Samaria, the principle city of the tribe of Ephraim. So just as in the prophecy at the end of Zechariah chapter 8 the reference to ten men represented the ten tribes of Israel, here towards the end of Zechariah chapter 9 the reference to Ephraim also represents the ten tribes of Israel. While they were considered ten tribes, it is also evident that many of Judah and Benjamin were among them in the captivity, while the remnant in Judaea maintained the distinction of two tribes. So the ten tribes of so-called “lost” Israel were really the substantial portion of all twelve.
Yahweh did not “cut off the chariot from Ephraim” in ancient Jerusalem, and He has not done it yet because once they are properly identified in history as the Anglo-Saxons, it is evident that they still war unto this day. Therefore this prophecy will not be fulfilled until the second advent of the Christ, as we shall see.
11 As for thee also, by the blood of thy covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water. 12 Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee;
The strong hold which Israel is exhorted to turn to herre is Yahweh God, as it says in Zechariah chapter 2 that He will be a wall of fire for His people, and here in our interpretation of the reference to Hamath in verse 2, that He is their fortress. Those same tribes of the captivity are still being addressed, and here we see explicit terms in reference to Christ where it says “by the blood of My covenant”. This too is a prophecy of the blood which would be spilled in order to make possible the New Covenant, which was the blood of Christ Himself.
Paul of Tarsus mentioned this blood three times in his epistle to the Hebrews. The first is in chapter 10 of the epistle where it says: “28 He that despised Moses' law died without mercy under two or three witnesses: 29 Of how much sorer punishment, suppose ye, shall he be thought worthy, who hath trodden under foot the Son of God, and hath counted the blood of the covenant, wherewith he was sanctified, an unholy thing, and hath done despite unto the Spirit of grace?” We must add, that one way that the blood of the covenant is counted as an unholy thing is by attempting to introduce it to bastards.
Paul again mentioned the blood of the covenant in Hebrews chapter 12 where he referred to “Jesus the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling,” in reference to the sacrifice of Christ. Then in chapter 13, in his final salutation he prayed: “20 Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is well pleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Where the Word of God says in Zechariah “by the blood of the covenant I have sent forth thy prisoners out of the pit wherein is no water”, it refers to the children of Israel in captivity, as Christ had quoted from Isaiah, as it is recorded in Luke chapter 4: “18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, 19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.”
For this reason also, Christ said in John chapter 7: “38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” This too was the fulfillment of prophecy concerning the captives of Israel in Isaiah chapter 43, where Yahweh said in reference to the children of Israel: “19 Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert. 20 The beast of the field shall honour me, the dragons and the owls: because I give waters in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my people, my chosen.”
13 When I have bent Judah for me, filled the bow with Ephraim, and raised up thy sons, O Zion, against thy sons, O Greece, and made thee as the sword of a mighty man.
Here we see Israel and Judah described as Yahweh’s weapons of war in His judgement of the nations.
The reference to Greece here is not a reference to the Greeks. Rather the Hebrew word is Javan, and that is only a reference to the Ionians, which includes the Athenians, who were only a portion of the Greeks. The other principle Greek tribes of this time were the Dorians and the Makedonians, who both descended chiefly from the ancient Israelites. After the Persian wars began the Peloponnesian wars, and the Spartans, who were Dorian Greeks had fought with the Athenians for several decades. Then the Makedonians gained the primacy of Greece and the old world of the Syrians and Assyrians, as well as Egypt and Thrace, until the coming of the Romans who were also chiefly descended from the Israelites.
Zechariah and the other Hebrews certainly would have been acquainted with the Greeks, who kept residences in all the port cities of the Mediterranean by this time. They had a strong presences at Tahpanhes in Egypt as well as in the cities of the Philistines and Phoenicians. In fact, in surviving fragments of the writings of the Greek lyric poetry of Alcaeus of Mytilene, who was writing around the same time as the conquests of Nebuchadnezzar in Palestine, there are references to Greek mercenaries among the armies of the Babylonians.
Perhaps, however, in the overall scheme of the prophecy, Greece represents the worldly Adamic man, as opposed to the children of Israel called in obedience to God to follow the things of the Spirit. At this very time the Greeks were about to found their classical civilization which was based on worldly pagan philosophies and egalitarian and humanist principles. So the prophecy informs us that the children of Israel would prevail over the Ionians, and ultimately they did.
14 And the LORD shall be seen over them, and his arrow shall go forth as the lightning: and the Lord GOD shall blow the trumpet, and shall go with whirlwinds of the south.
The word used for south here, teman (Strong’s # 8486), in the phrase “whirlwinds of the south”, can also be interpreted to mean “on the right hand”, where the phrase may be read “whirlwinds of the right hand”. When Christ returns, the sheep are placed on His right hand and all others are goats which must go to the left, to be cast into the fire reserved for the devil and his angels. The first clause of the verse which follows shows that the phrase “whirlwinds of the right hand” refers to the children of Israel:
15 The LORD of hosts shall defend them; and they shall devour, and subdue with sling stones; and they shall drink, and make a noise as through wine; and they shall be filled like bowls, and as the corners of the altar. 16 And the LORD their God shall save them in that day as the flock of his people: for they shall be as the stones of a crown, lifted up as an ensign upon his land.
Here is it also evident, as it is in Jeremiah (51:20), Micah (4:13), Isaiah (41:15) and other prophets that Yahweh God would use the children of Israel to destroy the other nations. However where He said here in verse 12 here that “Turn you to the strong hold, ye prisoners of hope: even to day do I declare that I will render double unto thee”, the language is similar to what is heard in Revelation chapter 18 of the fall of mystery Babylon, and the ultimate fulfillment of this prophecy will unfold in much the same manner.
Jeremiah 51: “20 Thou art my battle axe and weapons of war: for with thee will I break in pieces the nations, and with thee will I destroy kingdoms...”
Micah 4: “13 Arise and thresh, O daughter of Zion: for I will make thine horn iron, and I will make thy hoofs brass: and thou shalt beat in pieces many people: and I will consecrate their gain unto the LORD, and their substance unto the Lord of the whole earth.”
Isaiah 43: “14 Fear not, thou worm Jacob, and ye men of Israel; I will help thee, saith the LORD, and thy redeemer, the Holy One of Israel. 15 Behold, I will make thee a new sharp threshing instrument having teeth: thou shalt thresh the mountains, and beat them small, and shalt make the hills as chaff.”
Revelation 18: “4 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities. 6 Reward her even as she rewarded you, and double unto her double according to her works: in the cup which she hath filled fill to her double.”
All four of these passages are related, and all will be fulfilled at the ultimate return of Christ as it is described in Revelation chapter 19, concerning the marriage supper of the Lamb: “11 And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. 12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. 13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God. 14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. 15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. 16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS. 17 And I saw an angel standing in the sun; and he cried with a loud voice, saying to all the fowls that fly in the midst of heaven, Come and gather yourselves together unto the supper of the great God; 18 That ye may eat the flesh of kings, and the flesh of captains, and the flesh of mighty men, and the flesh of horses, and of them that sit on them, and the flesh of all men, both free and bond, both small and great. 19 And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army…. 21 And the remnant were slain with the sword of him that sat upon the horse, which sword proceeded out of his mouth: and all the fowls were filled with their flesh.”
Bastards are not counted as men. When a city is inhabited with bastards, it is nevertheless desolate. Bastards may be called men colloquially in the language of men, but they are not properly men as they are not of Adam, the man which God created. In the end, all of the children of Israel are sheep entering into the Kingdom of God, and there are no goats among them. Everyone else is a goat, and they are destined for the Lake of Fire.
17 For how great is his goodness, and how great is his beauty! corn shall make the young men cheerful, and new wine the maids.
Once all of the armies of the bastards are eliminated, the children of Israel will enjoy these blessings and praise Yahweh their God.
Here are our opening program remarks:
Evidently it is rather easy for some people to hear a definition of a word, or actually define a word for themselves, that allows them to remain comfortable with some wicked idea, and then they use their device to support a lie, and spread that false definition and that lie without shame. But these people even claim Strong’s Concordance as their authority on the matter. I have encountered this recently from several people, and found a couple of them lying in regard to the word bastard. Evidently some Jew from Chicago, pretending to be a Christian Identity pastor, has been telling people that a bastard, a mamzer in Hebrew, is specifically a person “born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother”, and nothing else. I have never heard anything so absurd.
If that were the case, where Yahweh tells the Philistines in a prophecy found in Zechariah chapter 9 that “a bastard shall dwell in Ashdod”, then it would be evident that Yahweh was advocating race-mixing among Israelite men. That is basically blasphemous, to insist that Yahweh would advocate such a thing. But that is only the beginning of the problems with their definition.
However it is simply not the case. Let's read the whole definition. James Strong in his entry for the Hebrew word mamzer (Strong’s # 4464) says that the word is “from an unused root meaning to alienate; a mongrel, i.e. born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother...” and of course Strong evidently thought that the Israelites were Jews, and that Jews were Israelites, which is not true. But where he said “i.e.” he was only giving an example, since i.e. is short for the Latin phrase id est, which is literally “that is” and which is a phrase used in English to state something further which clarifies a previous statement. So the sentence “born of a Jewish father and a heathen mother” is not part of the definition of mamzer, but was instead included by Strong only as an explanation of what a bastard is, which is a mongrel. A mongrel is generally defined as “a dog of no definable type or breed”, or as “any other animal resulting from the crossing of different breeds or types”, or regarding people, as “a person of mixed descent.”
So the word bastard comes from a Hebrew verb which is not found in Scripture (for which reason Strong called it an “unused root”) but which means to alienate. If we read the accounts of Jacob and Esau in Genesis, it is evident that Esau’s having taken foreign wives caused him to be alienated from his mother, and ultimately for that reason his mother made certain that Esau was alienated from his birthright. So Paul, writing in Hebrews many years later, called Esau a profane man and a fornicator. As Jude defines fornication, it is the pursuit of different flesh, and that is what Esau did.
A bastard is illegitimate, because the Law of God defines marriage as a union between a man and woman who are of the same bone and the same flesh, which is in the law in Genesis chapter 2. Kind after kind also being in the law, when a man takes a wife who is not of his flesh he is committing fornication, and if he has children within such a union, he is creating bastards. And the same law for the man also applies to a woman who would do such a thing. Anyone who tries to redefine the word bastard as anything other than a mixed-race individual is a liar and a double-minded man, a man with an agenda and no care for the truth.