1. Title. The book is named after the man whose prophecies it bears. The name Zechariah, Heb. Zekaryah, means “Yahweh remembers,” or “Yahweh has remembered.” The name was common among the Jews.
2. Authorship. Zechariah was probably a Levite, and may have been a priest (see Neh. 12:16; cf. Zech. 1:1). The fact that in Ezra 5:1; 6:14 Zechariah is called “the son of Iddo” may be accounted for by the free use of “son” for grandson (see on 1 Chron. 2:7).
It is almost certain that Zechariah was born in Babylonia. He began his ministry some 16 years after the return from the Captivity, that is, in 520/519 B.C. If he had been born subsequent to the return, his call to the prophetic ministry would have come at a very early age. The latest date given in his prophecy is the 4th year of Darius (ch. 7:1). However, it is most probable that the prophet Zechariah lived to see the completion of the Temple a few years later, in 515 B.C. (see on Ezra 6:15).
3. Historical Setting. Zechariah was contemporaneous with Haggai (Zech. 1:1; Haggai 1:1). For the historical setting see the Introduction to Haggai (pp. 1073, 1074). See also Vol. III, pp. 320-322.
4. Theme. Zechariah, as well as Haggai, was appointed by God to arouse to action the Jews who, because of enemy opposition that came to a head under the False Smerdis (522 B.C.), had left off the building of the Temple (see Vol. III, pp. 70, 71). Zechariah’s prophecies “came at a time of great uncertainty and anxiety,” when “it seemed to the leaders as if the permission granted the Jews to rebuild was about to be withdrawn” (PK 580). His messages, dealing with the work of God and the divine plans for the restoration, were designed to bring encouragement to the flagging zeal of the Jews. As a result of the inspiring messages and leadership of Haggai and Zechariah the Temple was soon completed (Ezra 6:14, 15).
Zechariah’s messages, setting forth Jerusalem’s glorious future, were conditional (Zech 6:15). Because of the failure of the Jews, when they returned from captivity, to meet the spiritual conditions upon which their prosperity was based, the prophecies were not fulfilled in their original intent. However, certain features will be fulfilled in the Christian church (see pp. 30-36).
I. Promises of Restoration, Zech. 1:1 to 6:15. A. Introduction and appeal to follow the Lord,1:1-6.
B. Eight visions, 1:7 to 6:8. 1. First vision: the horsemen, 1:7-17.
2. Second vision: the four horns and four carpenters, 1:18-21.
3. Third vision: the man with the measuring line, 2:1-13.