Samaritans, Palestinians and Prototypical Prophecy
Brit-Am Biblical Commentary (BABCOM) to the Book of Zechariah
Zechariah (NKJV) 5: 1 Then I turned and raised my eyes, and saw there a flying scroll.
The Commentary "Daat Mikra" (see Rabbis Quoted) quotes the opinion of the "Ancient Ones" that this Scroll parallelled the Scroll mentioned in Ezekiel ch.2. Just as the scroll in Ezekiel contained curses and imprecations so did this one. The scroll in Ezekiel predicted the downfall of the First Temple whereas that in Zechariah concerned the then future downfall of the Second Temple.
2 And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.”
3 Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth: ‘Every thief shall be expelled,’ according to this side of the scroll; and, ‘Every perjurer shall be expelled,’ according to that side of it.”
The expressions "every thief" and "every perjurer" in Hebrew are followed by the word "mezeh" meaning "from this, " i.e. from the Temple. Daat Mikra compared the words of this curse to those of King Darius (in the Book of Ezra) spoken agaisnt whoever dared to interefere with the building of the Temple:
Ezra 6:11 Also I issue a decree that whoever alters this edict, let a timber be pulled from his house and erected, and let him be hanged on it; and let his house be made a refuse heap because of this. 12 And may the God who causes His name to dwell there destroy any king or people who put their hand to alter it, or to destroy this House of God which is in Jerusalem. I Darius issue a decree; let it be done diligently.
The message is that even though this Second Temple may be destined to be destroyed its building is the Will of God and whoever goes against it shall be punished.
4 “I will send out the curse,” says the LORD of Hosts; “It shall enter the house of the thief And the house of the one who swears falsely by My name. It shall remain in the midst of his house And consume it, with its timber and stones.”
5 Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, “Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth.”
6 So I asked, “What is it?” And he said, “It is a basket that is going forth.” He also said, “This is their resemblance throughout the earth:
basket. Hebrew ephah, a measuring container.
7 Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket”;
8 then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth.
Wickedness. In Hebrew "Rashaah" literally "wicked woman." Daat Mikra says this symbolizes the anti-semitic forces of Judeophobia, i.e. enmity to Judah. The Commentary "Me'am Loaez" (see Rabbis Quoted) points out that the same expression is aplied to the Kingdom of Edom in Malachi 1:4. RADAK (Kimchi) says it is hinting at the TEN TRIBES who are called a "wicked woman" and that were once in one kingdom and went together along an evil path (Zechariah 5:7-8) and they made golden calves and served the Baal therefore they were thrown into the basket and covered with lead for she would be exiled for numerous days.
9 Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven.
These women were angles, say Daat Mikra. RADAK says the two women represent Judah and Benjamin who were the two main Tribes comprising the Jewish People.
10 So I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they carrying the basket?”
11 And he said to me, “To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base.”
Land of Shinar usually meant Babylon though the area of Pontus southeast shore of the Black sea was also sometimes referred to as "Shinar."
Isaiah 11:11 also referred to "Shinar."
Isaiah 11:11IN THAT DAY THE LORD WILL EXTEND HIS HAND YET A SECOND TIME TO RECOVER THE REMNANT WHICH IS LEFT OF HIS PEOPLE, FROM ASSYRIA, FROM EGYPT, FROM PATHROS, FROM ETHIOPIA, FROM ELAM, FROM SHINAR, FROM HAMATH, AND FROM THE COASTLANDS OF THE SEA.
These are the exiles of Judah and Israel: The places spoken of are areas to which exiles were taken and from there went elsewhere. They are not necessarily places from which the exiles will return.
SHINAR meaning Babylon but also applied to the northern shores of the Black Sea. Babylon was an important dispersion point for the Jews of Judah.
Background history. Recapitulation
The Assyrians had conquered the 10 Tribes and exiled them to different regions. In their Places of exile many the 10 Tribes became associated with the Cimmerians and Scythians.
The Scythians, Medians, and Babylonians joined forces and overthrew Assyria. The Scythians were betrayed by their allies and forced northwards. The Babylonians and Medians divided the former Assyrian Empire between them with Babylon taking the re-eminent position. The Babylonians then conquered Judah, destroying Jeruslaem, and the First Temple, and exiled the inhabitants of Judah to Babylonia. After the Jews had been in Exile in Babylonia for about 70 the Persians took over the Median Empire. They then conquered Babylon. Cyrus of Persia decreed the Jews could return and rebuild Jerusalem and the Temple. The first group of Jewish returnees was led by Zerubbabel, a descendant of King David. This led to the rebuilding of the Temple in Jerusalem (538-515 BCE).
The Temple was completed in the time of Darius -1, ruled 522-486 BCE. The Prophets Haggai, Malachi, and Zechariah all prophesied in the second year of Darius, king of the Persian Achaemenid Empire (520 BC). Zechariah appears to have been the son of Iddo son of Berechiah. Ezra led a second group of Jews to Judah in ca.458 BCE. [The dates are conventionally used ones and may be wrong]. The families of the returnees are listed in the Books of Ezra and Nehemiah and in the Book of Chronicles. They all belong to the Tribes of Judah, Benjamin, and Levi. There is a disparity of about 20% between the numbers given and the names listed. Nachmandies quotes a Midrash saying that those who were numbered but not named belong to the Ten Tribes a minority of whom attached themselves to Judah and returned with them. Nachmanides (Book of Redemption part one) explains that their names and Tribal affiliation are not mentioned expressly since the main body of their Tribes were to continue into Exile to Tserefat (France and Britain) and the north. Their Tribal destiny was to be fulfilled in Exile where they were to give expression to their Israelite Tribal uniqueness.
Ezra was opposed by foreigners living in the land especially Samaritans as well as Moabites and Ammonites. These latter two peoples were native inhabitants of areas east of the Jordan some of whom had moved westward into Judah. The Samaritans were Gentiles from the general area of Babylonia and Elam, etc, who had been settled by the Assyrians in Samaria the former center of the Ten Tribes before they were exiled. The Samaritans at the direction of the Assyrian authorities adopted aspects of the Mosaic faith while keeping their former pagan customs and adherence to pagan gods.
33 They feared the LORD, and served their own gods, after the manner of the nations from among whom they had been carried away. 34 Unto this day they do after the former manners: they fear not the LORD, neither do they after their statutes, or after their ordinances, or after the law or after the commandment which the LORD commanded the children of Jacob, whom He named Israel.
[Later in the time of the Hasmoneans, 332 - 364 BCE, the Jews would conquer the Samaritans and persuade them to become more "Jewish." For a time it looked as if they might become Jewish in the religious sense altogether but it became evident that they still believed in paganism so they were rejected. Before then in the time of Ezra the Samaritans had initially proposed some kind of rapport with Judah but Ezra rejected them apparently for the same reason]. The Samaritans and Ammonites petitioned the Persian authorities against the Jews building a wall around Jerusalem and further developing the Land. The building was stopped temporarily but was resumed due tot he intercession of Nehemiah, a servant of the King. Nehemiah had been an important official in the court of Artaxerxes-I (445 or 444 BC), King of Persia. He received permission to lead a third group of Jews to Judah and resume the building. He then joined forces with Ezra and the Jews who had gone before him. They were politically and physically opposed by Samaritans, Arabs, Philistines, Moabites, and Ammonites.
Daat Mikra relates these verses of Zechariah to the situation in Judah in the time of Ezra and his followers. After the Exile of the Ten Tribes to Assyria followed by that of Judah to Babylon all kinds of foreigners had entered the Land. These are generically referred to as "Samaritans" though they included others. They attempted to prevent the Jews from rebuilding Jerusalem and the Temple. For a while they succeeded and the work was interrupted. Ultimately however it was resumed again and the Temple and city walls were rebuilt. Zechariah is saying that the Forces of Good will ultimately prevail and the Temple will be rebuilt. Many of the "Samaritans" had come from the area of Babylon (Land of Shinar) and they will be forced to return there. The angels had gone to Shinar to prepare a place for them. The "Samaritans" parallel the "Palestinians" in our time.
This chapter may be interpreted as Daat Mikra has done ans as concerning Jews and Palestinians or in some other way and as concerning Judah and the Ten tribes as the RADAK indicated. Both approaches may be correct. This would invovled what we term the Principle of Prototypical Prophecy.
Nevertheless the Brit-Am approach is to keep as much as possible to the simple literal meanings that are as unequivocal as possible.