Zechariah 14 Fulfilled–including the Literal splitting of the Mount of Olives!
Zechariah 14 Fulfilled–including the splitting of the Mount of Olives: Summary and Highlights
In the following preterist commentary, Zechariah 14 is shown to have been fulfilled during the Maccabean Wars–including the fact that the Mount of Olives was literally split in two. The Maccabean Wars began when the Seleucids captured Jerusalem, plundered the city and its temple, killed many people, and took women and children captive in fulfillment of vs. 1-2. Zechariah 14:2 says that “all the nations” were to be gathered to fight against Jerusalem. In explicit fulfillment of Zechariah 14:2, 2 Maccabees says that the Seleucid army that attacked the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “all the nations” (2 Maccabees 8:9). Zechariah 14:4 predicts that the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west. Confirmation of the fulfillment of this verse is found in the fact that the Mt. of Olives is split in two today as shown in the photograph below. At the start of the Maccabean Wars, an army of angels appeared in the clouds (2 Maccabees 5:1-4). This supernatural specter fulfils v. 5: “Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.” Zechariah 14:6-7 appears to have been fulfilled in the miracle of Hanukah. According to the Talmud after the Jewish rebels rededicated the Temple, they discovered that they only had enough oil to keep the menorah lit for one day. However, the oil lasted eight days giving the Jews time to have new oil pressed and prepared. The fact that Zechariah 14:7 predicts light in the evening seems to point to the miracle of Hanukah, the Festival of Lights. During the Maccabean Wars many enemies of the Jews were burned alive. Furthermore, Antiochus Epiphanies died from a disease that caused his flesh to rot fulfilling v. 12: “This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.” Fulfilling v. 14 the Maccabees seized vast amounts of plunder. Interestingly, the exact articles seized as plunder listed in v. 14 are mentioned 1 Maccabees 4:23. In Zechariah 14:16-19 the Jews are called to hold to the Feast of Tabernacles. Interestingly, a new Feast of Tabernacles was instituted during the Maccabean Wars to celebrate the miracle that occurred at the rededication of the Temple. Called the Feast of Tabernacles in the Book of Maccabees, this holiday is better known today as Hanukah. 2 Maccabees 10:8 decrees that the Jews are to celebrate this new Feast of Tabernacles from then on. In fact, echoing Zechariah 14:18-19, 2 Maccabees was addressed to the Jews in Egypt to remind them to continue to celebrate this new Feast of Tabernacles. For a detailed explanation of how Zechariah 14 was fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars of the second century B.C. see the following commentary. (It should also be noted that Zechariah 14 may also have been fulfilled typologically at the end of the age during the Jewish War of the first century A.D. see Zechariah 14 Fulfilled: A Preterist Commentary)
The following may seem unbelievable. However, all information is taken from unbiased historical sources and is easily verifiable. Sources listed at the end.
A Fufilled Eschatology Interprtation and Commentary of Zechariah 14: The Symbolism of Zechariah 14 has a Unifying Theme depicting the Establishment of a New Sovereign Kingdom, Israel, after the Maccabean Wars in the Imagery of the Creation of the Earth in Genesis 1:1-10.
Though often assumed to be an end time prophecy, Zechariah 14 appears to have been entirely fulfilled in the second century B.C. during the Maccabean Wars. The Maccabean Wars began when the king of the Seleucid Empire, Antiochus Epiphanies, entered Jerusalem, plundered its temple and compelled the Jews to stop practicing the Law. The Jewish rebellion was initially led by Mattathias. However, after Mattathias’ death his sons took control of the rebellion. Mattathias was initially succeeded by Judas Maccabee. The Maccabees initially assaulted apostate Hellenized Jewish communities before ultimately defeating the Seleucid army. During this war the Jews successfully overthrew the yoke of the Seleucid Empire, briefly acquired sovereignty from Greece while resuming the practice of the Law.
The language of Zechariah 14 may seem random and bazaar. However, there is nothing random about the symbolism in this chapter. In Zechariah 14 there is a unifying theme that is certainly present but easily missed: The symbolism of Zechariah 14 depicts the establishment of Israel’s sovereignty over Greece and the reestablishment of the practice of the Law in the image of the creation of heaven and earth according to Genesis 1. In other words, Zechariah 14 appears to be a creation account depicting the establishment of a new sovereign kingdom, Israel, in the imagery of Genesis 1. For a detailed description of how Zechariah 14 mirrors Genesis 1 see How the Imagery of Zechariah 14 Intentionally Mirrors Genesis 1.
1 A day of the LORD is coming when your plunder will be divided among you. 2 I will gather all the nations to Jerusalem to fight against it; the city will be captured, the houses ransacked, and the women raped. Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.
Fulfilled! A Realized Eschatology Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:1-2: The Maccabean Wars began when the Seleucids captured Jerusalem, plundered the City and its Temple, killed many People, and took Women and Children Captive.
In fulfillment of vs. 1-2, the Maccabean Wars began when the emperor of the Seleucids, Antiochus Epiphanies, captured Jerusalem, plundered the city and its Temple, killed many people, and took women and children captive. As a result, “the residents of Jerusalem fled; [and Jerusalem] became a dwelling of strangers.” (1 Maccabees 1:38)
Fulfilled! A Preterist Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:2: In Fulfillment of Zechariah 14:2, 2 Maccabees 8:9 says that the Seleucid Army that attacked Israel during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “All the Nations.”
Zechariah 14:2 says that “all the nations” were to be gathered to fight against Jerusalem. In the Bible all or every does not always mean all or every (Matthew 2:1-3; 4:8; and 10:22). Thus, when Zechariah 14:2 mentions “all the nations” it does not necessarily mean every single nation in the globe in a strictly literal sense. In Colossians 1:23, Paul writes, “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven . . .” Similarly according to Luke 2:1 “all the world” was enrolled in Augustus’ census of his empire at the birth of Christ.1 Echoing Colossians 1:23 and Luke 2:1 and in explicit fulfillment of Zechariah 14:2, 2 Maccabees 8:9 says that the Seleucid army that attacked the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “all the nations”: “Then Ptolemy [governor of Coelesyria and Phoenicia] promptly appointed Nicanor son of Patroclus, one of the king’s chief Friends, and sent him, in command of no fewer than twenty thousand Gentiles of all the nations, to wipe out the whole race of Judea [emphasis mine].”2 The Bible often uses hyperbole for emphasis. Thus when Zechariah 14:2 predicts that all the nations of the earth were to attack Jerusalem, this expression points to the known or inhabited earth. It does not necessarily mean that every single nation in the world without exception was to attack Jerusalem.
Fulfilled! A Covenant Eschatology Interpretation and Commentary of Zechariah 14:1: “Your Plunder will be divided among You.”
Zechariah 14:1 says that Israel’s plunder will be divided among itself. Does this mean that all the nations that were to be gathered against Jerusalem were to plunder the city? If so then this prediction was fulfilled in 1 Maccabees 1:20-35 when Antiochus Epiphanies and his Gentile army from “all the nation of the earth” captured Jerusalem and plundered it and its temple at the start of the Maccabean Wars.
Or perhaps Zechariah 14:1 means that the Maccabees would plunder the Seleucid army or cities in Israel filled with Hellenized Gentiles and apostate Jewish Hellenizes? If so then this verse was fulfilled in 1 Maccabees 3:12; 4:16-8; 4:23; 5:22-23; 5:35; 5:50-51; 5:65-68; 7:47; and 2 Maccabees 8:25-31.
Fulfilled! A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:2: “Half of the City will go into Exile, but the Rest of the People will not be taken from the City.”
In Zechariah 14:2, the prophet predicts that “[h]alf of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.” 2 Maccabees 5:14 may record the fulfillment of this verse when describing Antiochus Epiphanies’ entry into Jerusalem to seize the treasures of the Temple at the start of the Maccabean Wars. 2 Maccabees 5:14 reads, “Within the total of three days eighty thousand [people of Jerusalem] were destroyed, forty thousand in hand-to-hand fighting, and as many were sold into slavery as were killed.”3
3 Then the LORD will go out and fight against those nations, as he fights in the day of battle.
Fulfilled! Preterist View of Zechariah 14:3 Explained and Interpreted: The Fact that God Fought for the Jewish Rebels against Their Gentile Enemies is Explicitly stated in 2 Maccabees 11:13 and 15:8 and Illustrated in 2 Maccabees 3:24-34; 10:29-31; and 11:8.
The fact that God fought for the Jews against their Gentile enemies during the Maccabean Wars is explicitly stated in 2 Maccabees 11:13 and 15:8. Illustrating this idea angelic warriors from heaven are said to have appeared to protect the Jews and defeat their enemies in 2 Maccabees 3:24-34; 10:29-31; and 11:8.
4 On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem, and the Mount of Olives will be split in two from east to west, forming a great valley, with half of the mountain moving north and half moving south. 5 You will flee by my mountain valley, for it will extend to Azel. You will flee as you fled from the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah.
Fulfilled! Preterist View of Zechariah 14:4-5 Explained and Interpreted Commentary: The Mount of Olives was literally split in Two from East to West by a Roman Road present at least as Far back as the First Century.
When the Seleucid army entered Jerusalem for the second time, they killed many Jews, plundered Jerusalem, lit the city on fire, and took many captives (1 Maccabees 1:29-40). Meanwhile according to 1 Maccabees 1:38 many Jews fled Jerusalem in fulfillment of Zechariah 14:5. 1 Maccabees 1:38 reads, “Because of them [the Seleucid army] the inhabitants of Jerusalem fled away, she [Jerusalem] became the abode of strangers. She became a stranger to her own offspring and her children forsook her.” Did these refugees flee over the Mt. of Olives?
The fact that the Lord stands on the Mount of Olives and it splits in Zechariah 14:4 is similar to Micah 1:3-4: “Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope [emphasis mine].” Notice that Micah 1:3-4 is nearly identical to Zechariah 14:4. In both verses the Lord walks or stands on a mountain or valley and it splits. Did the Lord physically tread, walk or stand causing a mountain or valley to split apart and melt like wax before a fire as stated in Micah 1:3-4? The fact that God was to stand on the Mt. of Olives is similar to the coming of the Lord during the plague of the firstborn as it is recorded in Wisdom 18:15-16: “Your all-powerful word from heaven’s royal throne leapt into the doomed land, a fierce warrior bearing the sharp sword of your inexorable decree, and alighted, and filled every place with death, and touched heaven, while standing upon the earth.” Did God stand visibly on the earth during the plague of the firstborn as described in Wisdom 18:15?
Predictions like Micah 1:3-4 and Zechariah 14:4 concerning the splitting of mountains or valleys under the feet of the Lord are written in apocalyptic style. Apocalyptic language like that which is found in Zechariah 14:4 and related predictions like Isaiah 26:7, Isaiah 40:4, Isaiah 49:11 and Micah 1:3-6 is highly poetic and symbolic and therefore often hyperbolic. Though it is unlikely that the God of Israel would ever stand or walk on a mountain or valley and cause it to literally split in two presumably as a consequence of His massive size or great weight, there is generally a literal core of truth to apocalyptic language.4 See How and Why Prophecies with Apocalyptic Imagery May Have Been Fulfilled in Old Testament History Much More Literally than Previously Thought. Though it is unlikely anyone would see God stand on a mountain or valley causing it to split, I believe it is not unreasonable to expect the Mt. of Olives to have been—at least in some way—split as predicted in Zechariah 14:4-5.
And indeed it was and is! The Mt. of Olives was, in fact, split down the middle by a Roman road that formed a valley through the middle of the mountain at least as far back as first century A.D. Above is a photograph of the Mount of Olives taken sometime between 1890 and 1900 showing the Mount of Olives split in two by a road. During the first century, this road pictured above did, in fact, split the Mount of Olives in two to the north and south. Did this cut in the middle of the mountain miraculously occur at the start of the Maccabean Wars in the second century B.C.?
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:4-5 Commentary: The Symbolism Underlying the Splitting of the Mount of Olives . . .
Apocalyptic language is not empty rhetoric. Apocalyptic prophecies generally describe real-world events in poetic language. This poetic style can often be hyperbolic because these poetic expressions mean something. The splitting of the Mt. of Olives in Zechariah 14:4-5 appears to represent the exodus of the Jews out of Jerusalem at the start of the Maccabean Wars wrapped-up in symbolism similar to that used to describe the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon. As stated above, the phraseology used in these verses in which the Mount of Olives is split in two is comparable to the symbolic language found in Isaiah 26:7, Isaiah 40:4 and Isaiah 49:11. In these verses, the valleys are raised up and the mountains are laid low to allow the righteous to return from exile on level ground. God promised level passage to the righteous, in these verses God remembers his promise.5
The splitting of the Mount of Olives also hints at the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. Waters and mountain are both Biblical symbols for a kingdom (Revelation 17:15, Psalms 2:6, Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 66:20, Jeremiah 51:25, Joel 3:17). See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations and In the Bible Mountains Represent Cities or Kingdoms. The fact that the Mount of Olives is split in half is a physical manifestation or symbol of the fact that according to verse 2, “[h]alf of the city [or mountain of Jerusalem (Daniel 9:16)] will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.” The same symbolic message is inherent in the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. With the departure of the Jewish slaves from Egypt, Egypt, as is illustrated by the parting of the waters, is a divided kingdom.6
Then the LORD my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.
Fulfilled! A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Zechariah 14:5: The Coming of the Lord during the Maccabean Wars Mirrors the Coming of the Lord during the Jewish War of the First Century A.D.
The second coming is pictured in Revelation 19:11-16. Here, Jesus rides a white horse leading an army of angels on horseback on the clouds. A strikingly similar vision is recorded to have been seen in Iyyar of A.D. 66 at the start of Israel’s first century war with Rome:
[O]n the twenty-first day of the month of Artemisius [Jyar], a certain prodigious and incredible phenomenon appeared; I suppose the account of it would seem to be a fable, were it not related by those that saw it, and were not the events that followed it of so considerable a nature as to deserve such signals; for, before sunsetting, chariots and troops of soldiers in their armor were seen running about among the clouds, and surrounding of cities.7
The first century Jewish historian Josephus records an angelic army riding on the clouds very much like the army of angels Jesus leads in Revelation 19:11-14. This event is also recorded by other historians. The first century historian Tacitus also records this specter at the start of the Jewish revolt: “In the sky appeared a vision of armies in conflict, of glittering armour.”8 The medieval Jewish historian Sepher Yosippon expounds upon this angelic army of A.D. 66 when he writes, “Moreover, in those days were seen chariots of fire and horsemen, a great force flying across the sky near to the ground coming against Jerusalem and all the land of Judah, all of them horses of fire and riders of fire.”9 The parallels between these three historical accounts and Revelation 19 are astonishing. However, in Yosippon’s account one can also appreciate how 2 Thessalonians 1:7 was LITERALLY fulfilled at that time: “This will happen when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven in blazing fire with his powerful angels.”
A nearly identical heavenly army was seen at the start of the Maccabean Wars according to 2 Maccabees 5:1-4. As explained in detail in Jesus, the Son of Man, was LITERALLY Seen in the Clouds in A.D. 66 this army in the clouds fulfills Biblical predictions concerning the second coming in a shockingly literal way. If this army in the clouds of A.D. 66 was, in fact, the second coming or at least the initial aspect of it, then the similar vision of the heavenly army seen at the start of the Maccabean Wars would appear to quite literally fulfill the coming of the Lord predicted in Zechariah 14:5.
Interestingly, this angelic army was not the only vision of angelic warriors reported during the Maccabean Wars. 2 Maccabees 3:24-34 and 10:29-31 record other miraculous appearances in which heavenly beings also manifested themselves while actively protecting the Jewish rebels.
6 On that day there will be no light, no cold or frost. 7 It will be a unique day, without daytime or nighttime—a day known to the LORD. When evening comes, there will be light.
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:6-7 Preterist Commentary: The Miracle of Hanukah which Took Place During the Maccabean Wars Literally Fulfills v. 7: “When Evening comes, there will be Light.”
Zechariah 14:6-7 appears to have been fulfilled in the miracle of Hanukah. At the start of the Maccabean Wars, the Seleucids profaned the Temple and put an end to animal sacrifice. Three years later the Seleucids were driven out of the Temple and the Jewish rebels rededicated the Temple. According to Gemara (Talmud), in tractate Shabbat, page 21b it was during the Temple’s rededication that the Maccabees only had enough oil to keep the menorah in the Temple lit for one day. However, the oil lasted eight days giving the Jews time to have new oil pressed and prepared. The fact that v. 7 predicts light in the evening seems to point to the miracle of Hanukah, the Festival of Lights.
Hanukkah is celebrated on the 25th of Kislev which falls anywhere between late November to late December. Despite the fact that this miracle occurred somewhere between late November to late December, perhaps there was also no cold or frost at this time in fulfillment of v. 6?
Verse 6 also predicts that on that day “there will be no light.” The NRSV says that on that day there will be no light because “the luminaries will dwindle.” The fact that there is no light because the luminaries were to dwindle is an allusion to the coming of the Lord on the clouds of heaven mentioned in v. 5.
Fulfilled! A Fufilled Eschatology Interprtation and Commentary of Zechariah 14:6: The Day Without Light is Fulfilled in the Coming of the Lord on the Glory Cloud which Blankets the Sky Darkening the Sun, Moon and Stars with Thick Cloud Cover as in a Storm.
When the Bible says that God was to come on the clouds of heaven, this expression points to the presence of God in or on the Glory Cloud. The Glory Cloud is a literal, visible cloud of smoke that marks the spiritual presence of God. According to 2 Samuel 22:8-15, Isaiah 66:15-16, Psalm 18:6-16, Psalm 50:3, Psalm 97:1-5, Psalm 144:5, Exodus 40:34-38 and Leviticus 16:2, the presence of God is often marked by thick clouds and fire. This cloud with fire is the Glory Cloud. As stated in Psalm 18:7-14, the Glory Cloud is often characterized by gale-force winds, lightning, thunder, and earthquake. In Psalm 18:7-14, it is clear that a thunderstorm often accompanies the presence of the Lord on the clouds.
The expression coming on the clouds of heaven as it is used in the Old Testament also often connotes the coming of the Lord at the head of an invading army. This fact is best exemplified in Joel 2:10-11:
Before them [an invading army] the earth shakes, the heavens tremble, the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine. The Lord thunders at the head of his army; his forces are beyond number, and mighty is the army that obeys his command. The day of the Lord is great; it is dreadful. Who can endure it [emphasis mine]?
At the coming of the Lord the sun, moon and stars are darkened as stated in Joel 2:10. As mentioned above, the presence of God on the clouds of heaven is often marked by a great thunderstorm. It is the thick cloud cover of this great thunderstorm that accounts for how “the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine” at the coming of the Lord in Joel 2:10. The dark storm clouds of the Glory Cloud darken the sun, moon and stars in Joel 2:10 as is made explicit in Ezekiel 32:7-9:
When I snuff you out, I will cover the heavens and darken their stars; I will cover the sun with a cloud, and the moon will not give its light. All the shining lights in the heavens I will darken over you; I will bring darkness over your land, declares the Sovereign Lord. I will trouble the hearts of many peoples when I bring about your destruction among the nations, among lands you have not known.
Ezekiel 32:7 was fulfilled in the sixth century B.C. during the conquest of Egypt by the Babylonians. Notice that at this time the sun, moon and stars were darkened because they were obscured by cloud cover. It is these clouds; the Glory Cloud, indicative of the spiritual presence of God on the clouds; that darken the sun, moon and stars in Ezekiel 32:7-9 as well as in Zechariah 14:6.
8 On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea, in summer and in winter. 9 The LORD will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one LORD, and his name the only name.
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:8 Commentary: Verse 8 symbolizes the Message of v. 2: “Half of the City [of Jerusalem] will go into Exile, but the Rest . . . will not . . . .”
As is always the case in Biblical prophecy, there is an important message underlying this imagery. Like the splitting of the Mt. of Olives in v. 4, the water that flows half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea in this verse also hints to the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. As stated above, waters and mountain are both Biblical symbols of a kingdom.10 The fact that the Mt. of Olives is split in half and half of the living water flows to the eastern sea and half to the western sea are both omens that may point to v. 2 in which, “Half of the city [of Jerusalem] will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city.” The same symbolic message is suggested in the miracle of the parting of the Red Sea. With the departure of the Jewish slaves from Egypt, Egypt, as is illustrated by the parting of the waters, is a divided kingdom like Jerusalem in v. 2.
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:8 Commentary: Mirroring Genesis 1:9, the Parting of the Waters in v. 8 hints at the Creation of a New Earth.
There may be more to Zechariah 14:8. However, before addressing Zechariah 14:8 in additional depth, let us first turn our attention to the significance of the earth and sea imagery that is so prevalent in apocalyptic literature. Though earth can refer to the entire world, earth is often just used in the Bible to denote the inhabitants of an isolated city or kingdom (Isaiah 1:1-3, Isaiah 24-27). Similarly sea is often very clearly and explicitly used throughout the Bible as a symbol of nations foreign to the specific city or kingdom specified as the earth (Daniel 7; Psalm 65:7; 144:7; Isaiah 8:7-8; 17:12; 60:5; Jeremiah 47:1-2; 51:55-56; Ezekiel 26:3; Revelation 17:15). See In the Bible “Earth” Signifies the Specific Land Addressed While “Sea” Symbolizes Foreign Nations.
Zechariah 14:8 reads, “On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half to the eastern sea and half to the western sea.” This verse hints at the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 and, therefore, the creation of a new earth by the separation of these waters. As is the case in Isaiah 8:7-8, Daniel 11:10, Daniel 11:40, Nahum 1:8 and Joel 2:9, foreign conquest is often depicted in the Bible in flood imagery. The conquest of Israel, the earth, by the Seleucid Empire prior to the Maccabean Wars is a metaphorical flood. This flood is meant to connect the conquest of the earth, Israel, by the Seleucids, the sea, to the preformed water-world condition of the earth before creation.
A similar metaphorical flood signifying foreign conquest is depicted in the Book of Joel. In Joel 2:2-9 the Assyrian army is said to “scale walls,” “plunge through defenses,” “rush upon the city,” “run along the wall,” “climb into houses,” and “enter through windows (Joel 2:7-9).” In these verses, the might of the Assyrian army is described much like flood waters crashing over and through a city. Then in Joel 2:20, the creation of a new, repentant Jerusalem is signified by the departure of the Assyrians pictured like the parting of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 and Zechariah 14:8: “I will drive the northern [Assyrian] army far from you [Jerusalem], pushing it into a parched and barren land, with its front columns going into the eastern sea and those in the rear into the western sea.” Notice the similarities between Joel 2:20 and Zechariah 14:8 in which half of these metaphorical waters go to the eastern sea and half, to the western sea. In Joel 2:20 half of the Assyrian army which is depicted as flood waters in Joel 2:2-9 is driven to the eastern sea and half to the western sea. In Zechariah half of the waters, representing the Seleucids, flow to the eastern sea and half to the western sea. In both cases the fact that half of the water moves to the eastern sea and half to the western sea is a symbolic depiction of the separation of the waters in Genesis 1:9-10 to create or expose the surface of the earth. Thus Zechariah 14:8 is a symbolic depiction of the establishment of a new sovereign Israel who had reinstituted the practice of the Law after overthrowing their Seleucid overlords at the creation of a new earth—the new sovereign Israel.
10 The whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, south of Jerusalem, will become like the Arabah. But Jerusalem will be raised up and remain in its place, from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepresses.
Fulfilled! A Realized Eschatology Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:10-11: Though Partially Destroyed at the Start of the Maccabean Wars (1 Maccabees 1:29-39), Jerusalem was Rebuilt and Repaired Shortly Thereafter (1 Maccabees 1:33; 4:60; 10:10-11).
Though Jerusalem had been partially destroyed at the start of the Maccabean Wars when the Seleucid army entered the city in 1 Maccabees 1:29-39, the Seleucids fortified the city with “a great strong wall and strong towers” (1 Maccabees 1:33). When the city was recaptured by the Maccabees, the Jewish rebels also fortified the walls of the city (1 Maccabees 4:60). Jerusalem then began to be repaired shortly thereafter according to 1 Maccabees 10:10-11. Here one can see how Jerusalem was raised up and remained in its place “from the Benjamin Gate to the site of the First Gate, to the Corner Gate, and from the Tower of Hananel to the royal winepress” in fulfillment of v. 10.
11 It will be inhabited; never again will it be destroyed. Jerusalem will be secure.
Fulfilled! Preterist Eschatology and Commentary of Zechariah 14:11: Jerusalem will Never again be Destroyed?
The NIV quoted above translates v. 11 to say that Jerusalem will never again be destroyed. This is a bit of an overstatement. Of course Jerusalem had been attacked after the Maccabean Wars. Jerusalem was subsequently destroyed during the Jewish War and the Crusades. The NASB translates this verse as follows: “People will live in it [Jerusalem], and there will no longer be a curse, for Jerusalem will dwell in security.” The NET Bible also translates this verse in similar language: “And people will settle there, and there will no longer be the threat of divine extermination—Jerusalem will dwell in security.” These translations are certainly more accurate historically. After the Jewish War, Jerusalem did experience peace for a time though this does not mean that it was never again going to be attacked.
The Bible often uses hyperbole for emphasis. Similar prophecies are found in Isaiah 32:14-20 and Jeremiah 50:40. In Isaiah 31:8, Jerusalem’s miraculous deliverance from the Assyrian army (Is 37:36) is predicted. Then in Isaiah 32:14, Isaiah uses the term “forever” to refer to the roughly seventy-year long desolation of Jerusalem by the Babylonians in the sixth century B.C.: “The fortress will be abandoned, the noisy city deserted; citadel and watchtower will become a wasteland forever[.]” In Isaiah 32:14 “forever” is a period of roughly seventy years. Similarly, concerning the fall of Babylon by the Medes and Persians, Jeremiah 50:40 reads, “As I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah along with their neighboring towns,’ declares the Lord, ‘so no one will live there [Babylon]; no people will dwell in it.’” Though Babylon never retained its former glory and was, in fact, made desolate by the Medes and Persians, from that point on throughout history some people have lived there to a small extent. Other examples of hyperbole like Matthew 2:1-3; 4:8 and 10:22 have been cited above. Zechariah 14:11 is just one of many examples in which the Bible uses hyperbole for emphasis. Though Jerusalem had enjoyed a time of peace after the Maccabean Wars, it was destroyed sometime later by the Romans.
12 This is the plague with which the LORD will strike all the nations that fought against Jerusalem: Their flesh will rot while they are still standing on their feet, their eyes will rot in their sockets, and their tongues will rot in their mouths.
Fulfilled! A Full Preterist View and Commentary of Zechariah 14:12: Many Enemies of the Jews were Burned Alive during the Maccabean Wars. Antiochus Epiphanies died from a Disease that Caused His Flesh to Rot.
This verse appears to have been fulfilled surprisingly literally in the Maccabean Wars. Throughout this war, the Maccabees attacked many cities throughout Judea and beyond which were occupied largely with Gentiles and apostate, Hellenized Jews. During these attacks the Maccabees burned many people alive (1 Maccabees 3:5; 5:3-35; 5:44; 2 Maccabees 8:33; and 10:36-37). When flesh is burned it is similar to accelerated tissue rot in which the organic compounds of the human body are rapidly reduced to simpler carbon-based molecules.
These cities victimized by the Maccabees were populated to a large extent by Gentiles “from all the nations of the earth.” Recall that as stated above, 2 Maccabees 8:9 says that the Seleucid army that attacked the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “all the nations.” Furthermore, keep in mind that as illustrated by Matthew 2:1-3; 4:8 and 10:22 that all or every does not always mean all or every. That having been said, it is also interesting to note that this prophecy was also fulfilled literally with the death of Antiochus Epiphanies who according to 2 Maccabees 9:8-12 died from a disease that caused his flesh to rot.
13 On that day men will be stricken by the LORD with great panic. Each man will seize the hand of another, and they will attack each other. 14 Judah too will fight at Jerusalem. The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing.
Fulfilled! Preterist View of Zechariah 14:13-14 Explained and Interpreted: The Civil War during the Maccabean Wars Fulfills vs. 13-14.
As stated above the Jewish rebels that resisted the forced Hellenization of Israel ordered by Antiochus Epiphanies did not just fight against the Seleucid army, they also besieged and attacked the cities in Judea and the surrounding territories that were largely populated by Gentiles and Hellenized, apostate Jews. This civil war between the Maccabees and the Greek sympathizers in Israel literally fulfills Zechariah 14:13-14.
Though v. 13 was fulfilled in the civil war between the Maccabees and the Hellenized Jews, at one point during the war the enemies of the Maccabees were stricken with such panic and fear that they often accidently attacked each other:
But when Judas his first band came in sight, the enemies, being smitten with fear and terror through the appearing of him who seeth all things, fled amain, one running into this way, another that way, so as that they were often hurt of their own men, and wounded with the points of their own swords. Judas also was very earnest in pursuing them, killing those wicked wretches, of whom he slew about thirty thousand men (2 Maccabees 12:22-23).11
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:14 Preterist Commentary: The Maccabees Seized Vast amounts of Wealth from both Jews and Gentiles.
As a consequence of these victorious attacks on Israel and the Seleucid army, the Maccabees collected vast amounts of plunder (1 Maccabees 3:12; 4:16-18; 4:23; 5:22-23; 5:35; 5:50-51; 5:65-68; 7:47; and 2 Maccabees 8:31). Interestingly, the exact articles seized as plunder listed in v. 14 are mentioned 1 Maccabees 4:23: “Then Judas returned to plunder the camp, and they seized much gold and silver, and cloth dyed blue and sea purple, and great riches.” Thus in 1 Maccabees 4:23 one can appreciate the exact fulfilment of v. 14: “The wealth of all the surrounding nations will be collected—great quantities of gold and silver and clothing.”
15 A similar plague will strike the horses and mules, the camels and donkeys, and all the animals in those camps. 16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:16 Preterist Commentary: Who were the Survivors from All the Nations? According to 2 Maccabees 8:9, the Seleucid Army that attacked the Jews during the Maccabean Wars was composed of “All the Nations.”
Before addressing the fulfillment of this prophecy, let us first take another look at v.16. Zechariah 14:16 says that “the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.” Recall that as stated above, 2 Maccabees 8:9 says that the Seleucid army that attacked the Maccabees during the Maccabean Wars consisted of Gentiles from “all the nations.” As stated above, all or every does not always mean all or every in the Bible (Matthew 2:1-3; 4:8; 10:22; Luke 18:31). “All the nations of the earth” is a hyperbolic expression denoting all or the lion share of the known/inhabited earth (i.e. the Greek Empire as implied in 2 Maccabees 8:9). This interpretation is echoed in Colossians 1:5-6, 23; 2 Timothy 4:17; and Luke 2:1 in which this and similar expressions are used to refer to the known/inhabited earth (i.e. the Roman Empire). It was within the confines of the Seleucid Empire with few exceptions like Arabia that soldiers were drawn to fight the Maccabees. Thus this prophecy would only be applicable to these nations, not North America or Australia or any other excessively remote country.
Fulfilled! A Preterist Interpretation, Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:16-19: A New Feast of Tabernacles was instituted during the Maccabean Wars to Celebrate the Miracle that Occurred at the Rededication of the Temple. Called the Feast of Tabernacles in the Book of Maccabees, This Holiday is Better Known Today as Hanukah.
Though this may come as a surprise, there is actually more than one Feast of Tabernacles. The first Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in the month of Tishri. The second Feast of Tabernacles is celebrated in Casleu. The Feast of Tabernacles in Casleu was instituted to celebrate the miracle that took place during the rededication of the Temple amidst the Maccabean Wars and is better known today as Hanukah. Hanukah is called the Feast of Tabernacles in the Book of Maccabees. It is given this name because it was originally celebrated by the Maccabees in a similar manner as the original Feast of Tabernacles according to 2 Maccabees 10:5-8:
Now upon the same day that the strangers profaned the temple, on the very same day it was cleansed again, even the five and twentieth day of the same month, which is Casleu. And they kept the eight days [of Hanukah] with gladness, as in the feast of the tabernacles, remembering that not long afore they had held the feast of the tabernacles, when as they wandered in the mountains and dens like beasts. Therefore they bare branches, and fair boughs, and palms also, and sang psalms unto him that had given them good success in cleansing his place. They ordained also by a common statute and decree, that every year those days should be kept of the whole nation of the Jews.
Fulfilled! A Preterist Exposition and Commentary of Zechariah 14:16-19: 2 Maccabees 10:8 decrees that the Jews should celebrate this New Feast of Tabernacles from Then On. In Fact, echoing Zechariah 14:18-19, 2 Maccabees was addressed to the Jews in Egypt to remind them to continue to celebrate this New Feast of Tabernacles.
2 Maccabees 10:8 decrees that the Jews should celebrate this new Feast of Tabernacles from that point on. This decree is a theme of 2 Maccabees and is repeated in 2 Maccabees 1:1-9 and 1:18. In fact, 2 Maccabees seems to have been originally written to remind the Jews in Egypt to celebrate this new Feast of Tabernacles. 2 Maccabees opens with the following reminder to the Jews of Egypt to keep Hanukah, the new Feast of Tabernacles: 1:1-9 read as follows:
The brethren, the Jews that be at Jerusalem and in the land of Judea, wish unto the brethren, the Jews that are throughout Egypt health and peace: God be gracious unto you, and remember his covenant that he made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, his faithful servants; And give you all an heart to serve him, and to do his will, with a good courage and a willing mind; And open your hearts in his law and commandments, and send you peace, And hear your prayers, and be at one with you, and never forsake you in time of trouble. And now we be here praying for you. What time as Demetrius reigned, in the hundred threescore and ninth year, we the Jews wrote unto you in the extremity of trouble that came upon us in those years, from the time that Jason and his company revolted from the holy land and kingdom, And burned the porch, and shed innocent blood: then we prayed unto the Lord, and were heard; we offered also sacrifices and fine flour, and lighted the lamps, and set forth the loaves. And now see that ye keep the feast of tabernacles in the month Casleu. (2 Maccabees 1:1-9)12
It does not appear to be a coincidence that Egypt, the one nation that is specifically mentioned to hold to the Feast of Tabernacles in Zechariah 14:18-19, is addressed in 2 Maccabees 1:1-9 to remind her to continue to practice this holiday.
Verse 16 says that “the survivors from all the nations that attacked Jerusalem” would worship the Lord and celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. Who were these “survivors from all the nations”? These people appear to be the Jews and Jewish proselytes throughout the Greek Empire most notably those Jews and Jewish converts of the Seleucid Empire who were prevented from worshipping YHWH upon the threat of execution during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanies. After the Maccabees reconsecrated the Temple in Jerusalem and most especially after they had eventually won their sovereignty from Greece, the Jews and Jewish converts who lived in “all the nations” of the Greek Empire were now free to once again openly worship the Lord and even make the prescribed pilgrimages to Jerusalem to celebrate all the sacred feasts. Verse 16 is basically a prophecy that the worship of YHWH which had been suppressed throughout “all the nations” during the reign of Antiochus Epiphanies would come back as strong or stronger than ever after the Maccabean Wars and that is exactly what happened.
Covenant Eschatology and Zechariah 14:17: The Curse of Drought was One of God’s Punishments to the Jews if they Violated the Law (Deuteronomy 28:22-24), This implies that the Nations who would Receive No Rain for Not Celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in Zechariah 14:17 were Jews of the Dispersion Prior to A.D. 70 when the Law was Fulfilled.
Zechariah 14:17 predicts that the nation that fails to go up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles will have no rain. Zechariah’s audience in v. 17 is the Jews who were dispersed throughout the nations, not Gentile unbelievers, since drought was one of the punishments God listed in Deuteronomy 28 if the Jews disregarded the Law of Moses. The curse of drought or the withholding of rain is mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:22-24 and was part of God’s original covenant with Israel for failing to follow the Law. This fact implies that the nations who would receive no rain for not celebrating the Feast of Tabernacles in Zechariah 14:17 were Jews of the dispersion prior to A.D. 70 since the Law–including Deuteronomy 28:22-24–was fulfilled at that time.
20 On that day HOLY TO THE LORD will be inscribed on the bells of the horses, and the cooking pots in the LORD’s house will be like the sacred bowls in front of the altar. 21 Every pot in Jerusalem and Judah will be holy to the LORD Almighty, and all who come to sacrifice will take some of the pots and cook in them. And on that day there will no longer be a Canaanite in the house of the LORD Almighty.
Fulfilled! Zechariah 14:21 Commentary: “And on that Day there will No longer be a Canaanite in the House of the LORD Almighty.”
According to Genesis 2:7, God made man from the dust of the earth like a potter forming pottery from clay. Therefore people are occasionally likened to pottery in the Bible as is the case in Romans 9:21 and 2 Corinthians 4:7.
The fact that there is no longer a Canaanite in the house of the Lord may be an epithet for a pagan, the previous inhabitants of Israel before the Hebrew conquest under Joshua. Canaan is a term used to approximate the boundaries of Israel. The fact that there is no longer a Canaanite in the Temple, the house of the Lord, may be a reference to the fact that the Temple had been cleared of Gentiles and Apostate Jews during the Maccabean Wars.
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Interested in THE PRETERIST VIEW OF ESCHATOLOGY, or are you a PRETERIST struggling with a prophecy or verse? It DID happen just like the Bible says! If you liked this essay, see the PRETERIST BIBLE COMMENTARY for a detailed explanation of the FULFILLMENT OF ALL MAJOR END TIME PROPHECIES IN THE BIBLE. The more unbelievable the prophecy, the more amazing and miraculous the fulfillment!
Also see Historical Evidence that Jesus was LITERALLY SEEN in the Clouds in the First Century. For an explanation of how the end of the age and its fulfillment during the Jewish War mirror Genesis 1-3; how the Bible teaches that the resurrection of the dead is a resurrection of heavenly bodies to heaven, not a resurrection of perfected earthly bodies; and how the resurrection is a mirror opposite of the fall see How the Jewish War and Resurrection to Heaven Mirror Genesis and the Fall; and How Preterism fixes the Age of the Earth Problem and unravels the Mysteries in Genesis.
Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: Conclusion
In the above preterist commentary, Zechariah 14 was shown to have been fulfilled during the Maccabean Wars of the second century A.D.
Zechariah 14 Fulfilled in the Maccabean Wars: A Preterist Commentary
- Milton S. Terry, Biblical Apocalyptics: A Study of the Most Notable Revelations of God and of Christ, (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1988), 232.
- Similar creation imagery is presented in Micah 1:3-6:
Look! The Lord is coming from his dwelling place; he comes down and treads on the heights of the earth. The mountains melt beneath him and the valleys split apart, like wax before the fire, like water rushing down a slope. All this is because of Jacob’s transgression, because of the sins of the people of Israel. What is Jacob’s transgression? Is it not Samaria? What is Judah’s high place? Is it not Jerusalem? “Therefore I will make Samaria a heap of rubble, a place for planting vineyards. I will pour her stones into the valley and lay bare her foundations.
The destruction of Samaria prophesied in Micah 1:6 was literally fulfilled during Micah’s lifetime when Assyria attacked Samaria in 722-721 B.C. Amidst this conquest, Micah says that the “mountains [will] melt beneath him [God] and the valleys [will] split apart[.]” This is imagery is similar to the splitting of the Mt. of Olives in Zechariah 14:4.
The fact that the “mountains melt beneath” the Lord in Micah 1:4 is analogous to Isaiah 40:4: “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain.” The meaning of this apocalyptic expression is found in Isaiah 26:5: “He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.” As stated above, mountain is a term often used in the Bible to represent a city or kingdom. (Psalms 2:6, Psalms 48:1, Isaiah 66:20, Jeremiah 51:25, and Joel 3:17) When “every mountain and hill [is] made low” in Isaiah 40:4 and the “mountains [are said to] melt” in Micah 1:4, both expressions mean that a city is about to be humbled by conquest that presumably results in the city or kingdom being “leveled” or laid waste. The fact that the valleys are raised points to the building of siege ramps in which rocks, trees and earth are piled up to help besieging armies ascend the high fortified walls of a city. This is how valleys are raised.
This apocalyptic language in which the valleys are raised up and the mountains made low so as to form level ground is intended to allude to destruction so complete that the earth is reduced to its primordial state described in Genesis 1:1-2 where the earth is “without form and void.” The precreation state of the earth according to Genesis 1 was without form and void because it was a water-world in other words there were no mountains and valleys just a smooth surface of water.
The creation imagery implicit in Isaiah 40:4 is also found in the preceding verse, Isaiah 40:3, in which a straight path is made for the Lord. The fact that the Lord moves on a straight and level path also points to Genesis 1:2 in which the spirit of God hovers or moves over the waters. As stated above, the preformed earth was a water world. The fact that the planet was in a flooded state prior to its creation means that the whole surface of the earth was smooth and level like the path of the Lord in Isaiah 40:3.
In Micah 1:3 God is said to walk or tread on the “heights of the earth.” Earth is perhaps more accurately translated land. The heights of earth or land are defined in v. 5: Jerusalem is Judah’s high place and Samaria is Israel’s high place. Jerusalem and Samaria are the capital cities of the southern and northern kingdoms of Israel respectively. These cities are the heights of the earth or land because, like many cities in the ancient world, they were built on hills or mountains. It is perhaps for this reason that the Bible often calls cities mountains. The fact that God walks or treads on the “heights of the earth” is also creation imagery. In Matthew 14:25-33, Jesus walks on water. This miracle is a sign of divinity. It points to Jesus as the creator who moves over the waters at the creation of the earth as the spirit of God had done at the creation of the earth in Genesis 1:2. This miracle is, therefore, a prophetic sign of the creation of the new earth foretold in 2 Peter 3 and hinted at in Micah 1:3-6 and Zechariah 14. See the commentary on Matthew 14:25-33. Similarly, when God walks on the heights of the earth this act is an allusion to Genesis 1:2 and the creation of a new earth after the destruction of the old which is foretold in Micah 1:6.
- Isaiah 40:4 and Isaiah 49:11 had been fulfilled during the Jews’ return to Israel after a long captivity in Babylon. These verses promise a safe and easy return to the Promised Land.
- There is more that can be said about the significance of these miracles and how they relate to the creation of a new earth; however, this information is discussed in vs. 8-9.
- Josephus The Wars of the Jews 6.5.3.
- Tacitus The Histories 5.13.
- Sepher Yosippon A Mediaeval History of Ancient Israel translated from the Hebrew by Steven B. Bowman. Excerpts from Chapter 87 “Burning of the Temple” cited in http://fulfilledtheology.ning.com/forum/topics/historical-records-with-some (9/16/2014)
- For a definition of the symbolic meaning of waters see Revelation 17:15. Mountain is also a term often used to represent a kingdom. Psalms 2:6; Psalms 48:1; Isaiah 66:20; Jeremiah 51:25; Joel 3:17.