Scholars have offered many suggestions for understanding the ephah in Zechariah 5:5-11 without consensus. An allusion to Jeremiah 3:2 offers a new possibility. The הָאֵיפָה (ephah) in Zechariah recalls and localizes the אֵיפֹה (where) of Israel’s harlotry recounted in Jeremiah.
Michael R. SteadThe Intertextuality of Zechariah 1-8 (New York: T&T Clark2009) pp. 204-07. The Amos 8 links upon which Stead’s conclusion is based are not strong (i.e. the unjust ephah is not explicit in Zechariah the presence of a symbolic basket is not peculiar to Amos and Zechariah [as Stead points out; cf. Jer. 24; 25:15; Ezek. 24] and the shared pun on the name of a goddess is questionable). Additionally the unjust ephah is not the only part of Israel’s “economic exploitation” (as Stead terms it) in Amos. They were also buying the poor something without parallel in Zechariah’s vision. To say the ephah in Zechariah’s vision represents all economic exploitation and thus is parallel to Amos is a stretch. Further the woman in the basket takes center stage in Zechariah’s vision but idolatry is only mentioned in a single verse in Amos; the last verse of the chapter (8:14).
D. P. WrightThe Disposal of Impurity: Elimination Rites in the Bible and in Hittite and Mesopotamian Literature (Atlanta: Scholars Press1987) p. 273. The positions of Wright Delcor (prison) and Edelman (coffin) as Stead notes “can be readily discounted in that they are based on (sometimes highly tenuous) parallels with extra-biblical material which are not supported by any parallels in the biblical corpus.” Stead Intertextuality p. 205.
So MitchellHaggai Zechariah pp. 173-74. Conrad Zechariah pp. 119-20. Barker “The Evil in Zechariah” p. 24. In the Jeremiah text it is Judah who takes center stage but for Zechariah’s vision the precise identification of the prostitute (whether Israel Judah or Jerusalem) is not important; only the association with an unfaithful wife is.
See SteadIntertextuality pp. 231-36 41-43. Ellie Assis “Zechariah 8 and its Allusions to Jeremiah 30-33 and Deutero-Isaiah” Journal of Hebrew Scriptures 11 (2011) pp. 1-21. In conjunction with this broader observation there are several parallels in thought between Jeremiah 3 and Zechariah 1-8: a return to Yahweh from evil (at times with the specific language of “return to me”; Jer 3:1 7 10 22; Zech 1:3); the Lord’s mercy overtaking his anger (Jer 3:5 12; Zech 1:14-16); a return of the people to Zion (Jer 3:14; Zech 2:7) from the north (Jer 3:18; Zech 2:6); an increase of the people in the land (Jer 3:16; Zech 2:8); and the gathering of the nations to Jerusalem (Jer 3:17; Zech 8:20-23).