Another People of God? Exegesis and Reception of Zech 2:15

In: Vetus Testamentum
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  • 1 Pontificia Università Lateranense, Roma
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In a bold new interpretation Zechariah 2:15 is the only one among all the prophecies about the pilgrimage of the nations to Mount Zion that calls the non-Jewish nations “people of God.” The present article studies this verse in its context of Zech 2:14-17, analyzes its intertextual relations and discusses its supposed literary connection to Revelation 21:3. After a short look at traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations, it presents the specific contribution of Zech 2:15 to the Theology of the People of God.


In a bold new interpretation Zechariah 2:15 is the only one among all the prophecies about the pilgrimage of the nations to Mount Zion that calls the non-Jewish nations “people of God.” The present article studies this verse in its context of Zech 2:14-17, analyzes its intertextual relations and discusses its supposed literary connection to Revelation 21:3. After a short look at traditional Jewish and Christian interpretations, it presents the specific contribution of Zech 2:15 to the Theology of the People of God.

1 Introduction

Zech 2:15 takes a unique position among all prophecies of universal salvation, especially those which depict a journey from all corners of the earth toward Jerusalem. It is the only text in the Hebrew Bible that predicts the conversion1 of gentile nations (a multitude of nations and not only single ones, as in Isa 19:25) and their becoming YHWH’s people: והיו לי לעם. In the Pentateuch as well as in the Former and Latter Prophets this expression, the so-called “covenant formula,”2 serves to define Israel’s identity: It has been chosen to be YHWH’s particular possession, his “treasure people” (עם סגלה), distinct from any other nation.

When Zechariah applies this same formula to non-Israelites, he breaks with a tradition that is fundamental not only for the Tanach/Old Testament, but also for post-biblical and modern Judaism. How can the goyim cease to be gentiles and become a people that belong to YHWH? How can the multitude of different nations unite and constitute one people? How can Israel or the Jewish people exist if it loses its exclusive vocation? Is Zech 2:15 the climax of the Torah, the last and definite word of Israel’s prophets, capable of filling the gap between Old and New Testament, or is it a theological dead end, an isolated voice that has no echo in the rest of the Jewish Bible?

In order to get substantial answers to these questions, it is indispensable to start with a careful exegesis. We will do this in the form of a synchronic and intertextual reading.3 We will then pass to a New Testament text, Rev 21:3, which is often considered to be an allusion to our text. Finally, we will discuss the biblical concept of “people of God” and track the relevance of this widely neglected prophecy for actual Jewish-Christian relations.

2 Zech 2:15 as Part of the Textual Unit Zech 2:10-17

Zech 2:15 is part of the larger unit Zech 2:10-17 that adds some oracular material to Zechariah’s first three visions. The opinions about the literary character of these verses are divided: Some scholars consider them an independent textual unit, others the original comment on what precedes.4 Of course this question is basic for a diachronic, redaction-critical research, but not for the approach we choose here. A synchronic, intertextual study must take into consideration the whole context in the textual form we now have in our hands in order to assess the meaning of a verse or passage.

According to the Masoretic division markers (one Petucha after v. 9,5 three Setumot after vv. 11, 13, 17) our passage consists of three parts: vv. 10-11, 12-13, and 14-17. However, based on form-critical reasons, Rüdiger Lux convincingly argues for another division: vv. 10-13, 14-16, and 17.6 Each of these units is an exhortation, a summons to do something: to flee, to rejoice, to be silent. Different in content, they share a common literary structure:

  • an exhortation with interjections and imperatives,

  • an addressee in the form of a vocative,

  • a reason, expressed by a motive clause with כי.


a V. 10 lacks an addressee. Despite their different syntax (v. 10 has a masculine plural, v. 11 a feminine singular), both verses are directed to the same subject: the exiled community. Indeed, the Golah is made up of single individuals, the deportees (masculine plural), and at the same time it is a collective, the citizenry of Jerusalem-Zion who now resides in Babylon (feminine singular).

b In our opinion, the divine speech starts with כי הנני מניף, with a כי that resumes the causal conjunction of the introductory messenger formula (cf. Boda, Zechariah, 197 with n. 126). Alternatively, it may also function as a כי recitativum, as introduction to the direct speech (cf. G-K § 157b). The other motive clause in between—… כי הנגע בכם—is still part of the prophet’s speech and gives the reason for his being sent to the nations.

The salvation oracle we are dealing with―“and many nations shall join themselves to YHWH in that day, and they shall be my people”―belongs to the second summons, the call to rejoice. More precisely, it is at the center of its second half, the motive clause, embraced by two promises about God’s dwelling in Jerusalem:

v. 14b: כי הנני־בא ושכנתי בתוכך נאם־יהוה

v. 15a: ונלוו גוים רבים אל־יהוה ביום ההוא והיו לי לעם

v. 15bα: ושכתי בתוכך

The syntactical connection with weqatalונלוו―makes clear that what the nations do is the consequence (indeed, the most important one) of YHWH’s return to Jerusalem: They shall recognize and be attracted by his renewed presence there.7 At the same time it is the main reason for Zion’s jubilee in v. 14a. Zion obviously rejoices at God’s being with her, but also at the radical transformation of the other nations. From enemies and oppressors they turn into worshipers of YHWH.

As the context shows, the nations’ wondrous conversion shall be preceded and followed by two other events, one on the part of Israel and one on the part of all men. Before the foreigners can come and be covenant partners of YHWH, the Israelites must first leave their diaspora (vv. 10-11) and the nations that dominate over them must be subjugated (vv. 12-13). Only then the restoration process, for Israel and for the gentiles, can enter into its decisive second phase. On the other hand, what happens in Jerusalem shall affect all the other people, all of mankind. In silent reverence shall they observe what YHWH, the God of Israel, is about to do (v. 17).

3 The Nations in Zech 2:10-17: An Intertextual Reading

3.1 “They Shall be Spoil”―The Nations Punished (vv. 12-13)

The gentile nations (גוים) are already mentioned in the first exhortation, the appeal to flee. This occurs again in the second part, which delivers the motivation. The Israelites who live in Babylon (יושבת בת־בבל, v. 11b)8 are called upon to leave their exile, and they will be able to do so, since their oppressors shall be attacked and subdued (v. 13a). The nations, characterized as those “who despoil you” (השללים אתכם), shall become “spoil to those who served them” (והיו שלל לעבדיהם); the relation between oppressor and oppressed will be reversed.

Several other prophetic texts express the same idea of a reversal of fortune:9


These are important, though not totally corresponding intertexts. Indeed, they all prophesy the future relief of the oppressed (they are the subject of the main verb), whereas our text stresses the new role of the oppressors, their submission to the former slaves. So conceptually and syntactically, an oracle of Isaiah is even closer:


Nevertheless, the most striking parallel is the double use of the root שלל, especially the participle שללים, those who despoil, attested only in Jer 50:10, Ezek 39:10 and Zech 2:13. The emphasis, therefore, is not on political or military power as such, but on their concrete results, not on dominion itself, but on booty: In the past the nations have despoiled Israel, now they themselves shall be spoil to Israel with all they possess.10 Ezek 38:12-1311 graphically describes the act of taking booty: “[…] to seize spoil (לשלל שלל) and carry off plunder […]. Sheba and Dedan […] will say to you: Have you come to seize spoil (לשלל שלל)? […] to carry away silver and gold, to take away cattle and goods, to seize a great amount of booty (לשלל שלל גדול)?” [NRSV]. All this will now be given to those from whom it was taken, first of all to the Israelites, of course.

If we acknowledge the restitution of all property that was robbed in the past as the main idea of Zech 2:12-13, we are also able to understand the enigmatic expression אחר כבוד שלחני (v. 12a). As the careful study of Carola J. L. Kloos has shown,12 אחר can be interpreted in its most natural function as a preposition that in this case expresses the idea of purpose: “He has sent me for the sake of glory, in order to obtain glory.” But which כבוד is meant here? For the majority of scholars, it is YHWH’s glory, a thesis substantiated by the use of the same word in Ezek 39:21: “and I will display my glory (כבודי) among the nations.” Mark J. Boda therefore concludes, “that the glory in view here is the glorious return of Yahweh to the city of Jerusalem.”13

Of course, in many prophecies Jerusalem’s future restoration is closely connected with the return of the divine glory (cf. Isa 60-62; Ezek 40-48). But another concept of kavod is even more important for our text and its interest in the restitution of booty. כבוד, indeed, may also signify the richness of a people.14 In Trito-Isaiah, for example, the foreign nations come and bring their gifts to Zion. They are attracted by God’s glory that is visible in Jerusalem, and contribute to increase her splendor. Their treasures are named in Isa 60:5, 11 חיל גוים, in 61:6 also כבוד, in 66:12 finally כבוד גוים.‪15

The same concept of kavod is present in the first part of the “Haggai-Zechariah-Corpus.” As a result of Jerusalem’s depredation, the reconstructed temple lacks the glory of the previous one (Hag 2:3). But YHWH will compel the nations to bring their treasures, so that he might fill the sanctuary with glory (ומלאתי את־הבית הזה כבוד, ‪2:7). So the rebuilt temple will show even more glory than the original one (גדול יהיה כבוד הבית הזה…, ‪2:9). This kavod is the product of the peoples’ tribute, their silver and gold, as v. 8 clearly states. At the same time―this is the additional message of Zech 2:9―it is the result of YHWH’s presence in the midst of his people. So Trito-Isaiah’s two-dimensional concept of כבוד is also valid for Zechariah: there is a divine kavod, God’s transcendent glory, and there is a human kavod, the material goods of the gentiles; put together they make up Zion’s richness and beauty.16

It is therefore not sufficient to contrast two thematically opposed and chronologically separated oracles, the “völkerfeindliche Wort” Zech 2:10-13 and the “völkerfreundliche Wort” Zech 2:15-16.17 One should rather consider the punishment of the nations as the condition of their final salvation: In order to be saved they must return the spoil they have robbed from Jerusalem. This is the reason why the prophet is sent to the hostile nations: “for the sake of glory”―to get the resources that are needed for the reconstruction of the temple.

3.2 “They Shall Be My People”―The Nations Redeemed (vv. 14b-15)

The salvation of the nations after restoring the booty is the central issue in the second part of the second oracle. It is the reason why the exiles who left Babylon and returned to Jerusalem should celebrate. But first of all, their joy is about God’s own return. The address to בת־ציון, “daughter Zion” (v. 14), makes clear that what is promised here shall happen in the city of Jerusalem. The previous announcement שבתי לירושלם, “I will return18 to Jerusalem” (1:16), is reaffirmed and expanded: הנני־בא ושכנתי בתוכך, “Indeed, I will come and dwell in your midst” (2:14b, 15b). The verb שכן usually indicates God’s earthly presence: on Mount Sinai (Exod 24:16), in the desert sanctuary (Exod 25:8; 29:45-46; 40:35, et al.), in the temple (1 Kgs 6:13; Ezek 43:7, 9).19 Four of these texts have the same construction―ושכנתי + ‪בתוך―and are therefore particularly close intertexts:


In all these oracles God promises to be present among the Israelites. In Zech 2:14-15 the city takes the place of the nation: “and I will dwell in your midst, Zion.” This move from a personal/national to a geographic definition20 allows for the expansion of the promise. Indeed, in all other texts only Israel benefits from God’s proximity: He is present to reveal himself to them, to assist them, to be their God (cf. Exod 29:45: והייתי להם לאלהים). It is only Zech 2 where his presence also affects other people:21 When YHWH shall return home, even non-Israelite nations shall come and join themselves to him.

The verb לוה nif. is relatively rare in the Hebrew Bible. It is used only seven times to express religious attachment or conversion: Jer 50:5; Isa 14:1; 56:3, 6; Zech 2:15; Dan 11:34, and Esth 9:27.

For Volker Haarmann two types must be distinguished:22

  • a socio-ethnic attachment to the people of Israel: לוה nif. + עליהם (Isa 14:1; Dan 11:34; Esth 9:27),

  • a religious attachment to the God of Israel: לוה nif. + אל\על יהוה (Jer 50:5; Isa 56:3, 6; Zech 2:15).

Not all of these texts deal with foreigners. For example, Jer 50:5 announces that the children of Israel and Judah shall leave their exile, come back to Zion and join themselves, once again, to YHWH (ונלוו אל־יהוה). This shall result in a renewed, “everlasting covenant” (ברית עולם). Zech 2:15 uses the same expression―‪ונלוו אל־יהוה―, but assigns to it a universal meaning: Not only Israelites, but also foreign nations shall come to Jerusalem and be worshipers of YHWH.

Zechariah’s prophecy is in line with Isa 14:123 and 56:3-6, two oracles in which לוה nif. takes on the more specific sense of gentiles changing their religion. Isa 14:1 announces that strangers (הגר)24 shall associate themselves with Israel when it shall be reestablished in its homeland, whereas Isa 56:3, 6 deal with foreigners (בן־הנכר; ‪בני הנכר) who have already adopted the faith in YHWH. Through their conversion they have also become part of his people, at least according to their own perception. Otherwise they wouldn’t fear to be excluded “from His people” (cf. v. 3).25 Both Isa 14 and 56 deal with single persons who in post-biblical times will be called proselytes.26 Zech 2:15 has a more universal vision. It surpasses all other texts by looking forward to a not specified day in the future (ביום ההוא) in which entire nations shall convert to Israel’s God.

The expression גוים רבים, “many nations,”27 is a textual marker that links to several intertexts, especially to some prophetic announcements of the future. From the nearer context of the Twelve Prophets we have already quoted Hab 2:8, where “many nations” are the victims of a violent oppressor. Micah mentions them in two opposed prophecies: One announces their eschatological coming to Mount Zion (והלכו גוים רבים, Mic 4:2),28 the other, only a few verses later, predicts their fight against Jerusalem (ועתה נאספו עליך גוים רבים, ‪4:11). As we have seen, Zechariah organizes these contrasting views in a chronological order: First the guilty nations are punished (Zech 2:12-13), then they repent and convert to YHWH (2:14-15).

Two prophecies of Ezekiel are also important. They predict that YHWH will reveal himself “in the eyes of many nations” (לעיני [ה]גוים רבים, Ezek 38:23; 39:27) by defeating the enemies and restoring his own people. Ezekiel expects that they shall recognize YHWH as the only powerful God (וידעו כי אני יהוה, ‪38:23). Zechariah goes a step further by claiming that they will also convert to him. By accepting him as their God they shall become his people: והיו לי לעם (Zech 2:15aβ).

Among the more than thirty places where the “covenant formula” occurs,29 six display the same syntactical form, a weqatal of היה in the 3rd plural: two in Jeremiah (Jer 24:7; 32:38), three in Ezekiel (Ezek 11:20; 14:11; 37:23), one other in Zechariah (Zech 8:8). In each God assures Israel (or a part of it) that it shall continue to be his covenant people whereas only Zech 2:15 applies the formula to foreign nations.

However, there are two other cases in which gentiles acquire the status of being “people of God.” Isa 56:3, the passage quoted just before, presupposes that a stranger who converts to YHWH also becomes a member of Israel. Otherwise he would not fear to be excluded “from his people” (מעל עמו) once again. Isa 19:25 is even more optimistic in foretelling that a whole nation shall be God’s people. It envisions a “holy coalition” of Egypt, “my people (עמי),” Assyria, “the work of my hands,” and Israel, “my heritage,” with Israel as its geographic and theological center.30 So Zech 2:15 is not totally isolated, it has a precedent in some Isaiah prophecies that expand the covenant relationship to non-Israelites. Yet it surpasses them as it does not deal with single persons or a single people, but with many nations: Each of them shall become YHWH’s people, a people that adores, serves and obeys the God of Israel.

All passages with והיו לי לעם quoted above continue with ואנכי\ואני אהיה להם לאלהים, “and I will be their God,” the second half of the covenant formula. Only Zech 2:15 lacks it. It therefore does not declare that YHWH shall be the God of the nations. They shall have an intimate relation to him, comparable with Israel’s relation from the beginning, but he shall not be called אלהי הגוים, “the God of the nations,” in the same manner he is called אלהי ישראל, “the God of Israel” (about 200 times in the Hebrew Bible). His name is and shall be יהוה אלהי ישראל, since it is this unique people, the unique history of the descendants of Abraham, by which he wants to be identified. Other nations may also be YHWH’s people, but they can never replace Israel as regards his self-definition and historic identity.

Zechariah stresses this important idea by adding―in the place of the second half of the covenant formula―once more the promise ושכנתי בתוכך, “and I will dwell in your midst” (v. 15b). This weqatal does not introduce another element in the sequence of future events, nor does it simply repeat what has been promised before (v. 14b), but rather corrects an implicit assumption: “even if the nations will be my people, I will continue to dwell in your midst.”31 As Rüdiger Lux rightly claims, there shall be a permanent distinction between Israel and the nations: “All people shall join to YHWH and enter a covenant relation with him. However, ‘daughter Zion’ shall enjoy a permanent privilege. It is only in her and in no other city, in no other people that YHWH will take residence.”32

So particularism and universalism, the restoration of Israel and the salvation of the gentiles, are intimately connected. The second follows and presupposes the first. The nations’ adoption as God’s people does not cancel Israel’s election, it rather reinforces it. This is the clear message of v. 16: Judah shall continue to be YHWH’s particular heritage among the nations (cf. Deut 32:8-9)33 and Jerusalem shall be elected anew to be the place of his residence (cf. Zech 1:17; 8:3).

3.3 All Humanity in Revering Adoration (v. 17)

Zech 2:17, the concluding unit of our text, mentions neither Israel nor the foreign nations. Instead, it calls on all humanity (כל־בשר) to silently contemplate God’s revelation.34 This is only fitting, since it deals with the third and final step after the submission of the nations and Israel’s return from exile (vv. 10-13) and after the conversion of the nations and Israel’s restoration as YHWH’s heritage (vv. 14-16). As in other eschatological prophecies (cf. Jer 25:30-31;35 Isa 66:16, 23-24) the expression כל־בשר indicates that God’s future action shall be universal, as it was in the beginning (cf. Gen 6-9). His judgment and his salvation shall concern all mankind, Israel and the gentile nations, and therefore all must react with revering adoration.

The third appeal has no imperative, but an interjection: הס, “be still, silent!” This term is employed seven times in the Hebrew Bible,36 often in the context of a theophany. Two texts show close verbal parallels:


Zech 2:17 seems to combine the two oracles and to transfer them from a context of judgment to a context of salvation.37 With Hab 2:20 it describes God’s presence in his holy dwelling place (היכל קדשו \\ מעון קדשו) and calls all creation (כל־הארץ \\ ‪כל־בשר) to keep silent before the Lord (מפניו \\ מפני יהוה). But regarding the order, it is closer to Zeph 1:7: first the appeal for silence, then the theophany, the motivation, introduced by the conjunction כי.

Zechariah increases the dynamics of the event by replacing Habakkuk’s static picture (“YHWH is in his holy temple”) with an active image (“YHWH rouses himself”). Still more important is another change: from the earthly to the heavenly habitation.38 God leaves the heaven to dwell on earth―not anywhere, but in Zion-Jerusalem, in the midst of a community of Israelites and gentile proselytes. This, indeed, is something totally new that must inspire astonishment, gratitude and awe in all humans.

4 “They Shall be his Peoples”: The Reception of Zech 2:14-15 in Rev 21:3

According to Nestle-Aland’s Novum Testamentum Graece, 28th edition, Zechariah’s prophecy about the nations’ conversion to YHWH is taken up and alluded to in the New Testament―in its last book, the book of Revelation, in the final vision about the new creation. Apart from Zech 2:14-15, Rev 21:3 also alludes to other biblical and apocryphal texts, e.g., Lev 26:11-12; Ezek 37:27 and Jub. 1:17. So it is not a direct citation, nor an explicit allusion or even an echo to one specific passage, it is a cluster of allusions, a text with a high degree of intertextuality that recalls expressions which appear in similar forms in several places.39 From the beginning, therefore, it is wise not to restrict our research to Zechariah’s “Wirkungsgeschichte” or reception history―if and how Zech 2:14-15 influenced or was received in Rev 21:3―, but to focus on the intertextual relations, the parallels and differences that determine the theology of both texts.

Let us first consider the supposed recipient text. After describing what the visionary sees―a New Heaven, a New Earth, and a New Jerusalem―he goes on to quote what he hears―a loud voice coming from the throne and saying: “See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them.” (Rev 21:3 [NRSV])

This prophecy has close parallels with at least three other texts:

  • Lev 26:11-12: “I will place my dwelling in your midst […]. And I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” [NRSV]

  • Ezek 37:27: “My dwelling place shall be with them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” [NRSV]

  • Jub. 1:17: “And I shall build my sanctuary in their midst, and I shall dwell with them. And I shall be their God and they shall be my people truly and rightly.”40

The most striking parallel is the combination of a promise about God’s dwelling ([κατα]σκηνόω / שכן) with the covenant formula. At the same time there is a substantial difference regarding the persons addressed: The other texts deal with Israel, Revelation, instead, deals with all humankind. This is the point where Zech 2 comes to the fore, the only intertext with a universal vision. The following synopsis helps to discover the intertextual relations and the unique features of each text:


a The majority of scholars consider the plural as original. Some manuscripts have the singular λαός, a variant that “arose to make the word fit the traditional covenant formula” (Koester, Revelation, 798).

b The words in brackets are redundant. Nevertheless, Koester, Revelation, 798, considers them to be a part of the original text that was later deleted.

One immediately notices the difficulty of identifying exact parallels. The problem is further increased by the fact that the Hebrew and the Greek text of Zechariah display considerable variation.41 So it is not clear at all to which text form the author of Revelation refers.

The first difference relates to God’s dwelling place: In Zechariah he resides “in your, i.e. Jerusalem’s, midst,” in Revelation “among mortals.” Since the prepositions are different―ἐν μέσῳ and μετά respectively―, the two promises need not be in contradiction. Indeed, in Rev 21-22 Jerusalem is the undisputed place of God’s presence on earth, and Rev 21:2 explicitly mentions her coming down from heaven. Jerusalem herself is God’s σκηνή, his abode among humankind. So Revelation does not contradict Zechariah’s emphasis on Jerusalem, his deep conviction that the God of heaven chooses a specific place as his earthly residence. Nevertheless, Zech 2:14-15 and Rev 21:3 put a different emphasis from the very beginning: the first on the rebuilt and repopulated city of Jerusalem, the second on humanity.

Rev 21:3 continues to cite the covenant formula (its second part) to express the future quality of all mankind: It shall be as intimately united with God as Israel already is. As we have seen, in the Old Testament only Zech 2:15 promises a covenant relationship to an unlimited number of non-Israelite nations. Its mention of a plurality of peoples―גוים / ἔθνη―could also explain the most spectacular feature of Rev 21:3: the change of the covenant formula “they shall be his people” to the unprecedented “they shall be his peoples.”

Before discussing this crucial point we should notice that Rev 21:3 does not simply put a plural where Zechariah has a singular. Zechariah, even in the Greek translation, uses the traditional formula―καὶ ἔσονται αὐτῷ εἰς λαὸν―, whereas Revelation reformulates: καὶ αὐτοὶ λαοὶ αὐτοῦ ἔσονται. So it does not simply expand the existing covenant by including other nations, it radically changes it: All humankind shall be transformed into peoples that belong exclusively to YHWH.42

Does this mean that “in the celestial Jerusalem the ‘people’ of Yahweh will be identical with the ‘peoples’ ”?43 Does it imply that the gentile nations shall take the place of the original people of God, Israel?

To give an answer to these questions would require an extensive study of the whole book of Revelation.44 It would include the analysis of all references to a plurality of peoples (ἔθνη, λαοί). But even without doing this, we can affirm that Rev 21:3 is only the last element in a long series of statements about the gentiles’ role in salvation history.45

For Bauckham, the author of Revelation goes a step further than Zechariah: The Old Testament prophet “expects many nations to join the elect people, Israel, as proselytes, thus becoming ‘my people’,” whereas the New Testament visionary “declares all the nations to be God’s covenant peoples.”46 Nevertheless, by saying this he does not seem to claim the substitution of Israel. This would be the case if he would have used the covenant formula in its original form: “From now on all humankind shall be my people.” In this case all men would have united in a single community, a new people of God, instead of Israel. In using the plural he avoids this conclusion.47 He rather envisions that the crowd of human beings shall be organized in the new form of peoples that belong exclusively to God. These peoples share the same belief, but, as the plural λαοί implies, maintain their autonomy.48

Rev 21:3 ends with a final promise: “and God himself will be with them as their God.” At first glance this seems to be the second part of the covenant formula, but actually it is not, for the syntax is quite different.49 At the same time the message fundamentally changes: It is no longer a promise to a special people, but a universal promise to all peoples. This is even more obvious when compared with Zechariah who, at the same point, stresses God’s attachment to a particular place: “and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.”

The comparison of the two texts leads to the conclusion that despite their evident parallels, the differences are considerable. Especially the variation of several syntactical features diminishes the probability that Rev 21:3 can be considered an allusion to Zech 2:15. Of course, both texts treat a common theme, the universalization of the people of God, and use the same concepts (God, people, dwelling), but they do it in different horizons and with different results. The interpretation of our text, therefore, cannot stop with the question of its reception or non-reception in Revelation, it must, first of all, take into account its immediate context in Zechariah and in the other prophets.

5 How Many Peoples of God? The Importance of Zech 2:15 for Jewish-Christian Dialogue

Turning back from the New Testament to Zechariah, our reflection will be guided by the following questions: What will happen when “many nations” shall convert to YHWH? Will there be a multitude of peoples of God, for each nation shall maintain its own identity? Or will there be only one people of God, for all nations shall form a single entity? Shall Israel lose its specific role, its privileged position? Shall it be one nation among others or fuse into an undistinguished multinational community? Or is there any hint of a “two-people solution”: the one people of God for Israel and another one for the non-Jews, the goyim?

These and similar questions present our exegesis with a new challenge: not only to interpret what the text actually says, but also to take in account how its interpretation shaped and shapes reality. Each interpretation, even the most sober one, depends on the “world” the reader lives in and has repercussions on it; furthermore it is influenced by previous experiences and influences later ones. The case of the biblical text is even more intricate: two communities claim it to be their legitimate heritage. Its interpretation, therefore, has direct consequences on the way Jews and Christians live for themselves and coexist.50

To illustrate the variety of opinions about the above-mentioned questions it will suffice to quote some modern authors. Robert Hanhart in his important commentary on Zechariah 1-8 concludes that “Israel and the nations shall be one people, the people of YHWH.”51 The same idea is advocated by scholars such as Rüdiger Lux52 and Hubert Irsigler.53 The formation of this unified people is described either as inclusion or as expansion: the inclusion of gentiles in Israel’s covenant54 or the expansion of the existing covenant to the nations.55

Some of these affirmations go well beyond the bounds of mere exegesis, they already take into account what happened much later: the rise of Christianity and the conversion of gentiles to the God of Israel. On the contrary, traditional Jewish interpretation is reluctant to apply Zechariah’s words to historical events. Rashi (1040-1105), the most prestigious medieval author, for example, refrains from commenting on it. He only explains the word ונלוו by quoting the synonymous expression ונתחברו, “and they shall associate themselves.”56 Two other commentators unanimously claim that the events described, the return of the Jewish deportees and the conversion of the nations, are yet to come and shall be realized only in the times of the Messiah (ימות המשיח).57

Joseph Kara (1065-1135) is less skeptical about the fulfillment of Zechariah’s prophecy. The parallel to Esth 8:17 (“and many from among the peoples of the land became Jews” [JPS]) enables him to interpret “many nations” as “many among the peoples of the land” (רבים מעמי הארץ), and “attachment to YHWH” as “conversion to Judaism” (מתיהדים). So whoever wants to enter the people of God, has to become a Jew.58

Their Christian contemporaries, obviously, had a very different view. They believed that what Zechariah predicted actually happened with the rise of Christianity. A remarkable exception is the medieval Bible scholar Andrew of Saint Victor (1110-1175), well-known for his use of rabbinic sources. He accepted two interpretations: one that sees the prophecy partially fulfilled in the times of Ezra and Nehemiah, and another that still expects its realization in the future.59

An important representative of the majority position is Nicolaus of Lyra (1270-1349) whose commentary “Postilla litteralis” influenced generations of Christian thinkers.60 In his explanation of Zech 2, from the beginning the Church takes the place of Israel: “by the name of Zion and the name of Jerusalem the Church is meant.”61 He even disconcertingly reverses the roles when he identifies the “heathen who despoil you” with the Jews “who mistreat the faithful of the primitive Church.”62 In his opinion the announcement of God’s coming is fulfilled in the incarnation (as a proof he quotes Jn 1:14: “Verbum caro factum est …”) and the prophecy about the nations came true “through the conversion of the gentiles to the faith in Christ all over the world.”63

Nicolaus does not explicitly state that God rejected Israel and chose the Church as his new and only people. But he is not far from this, and other theologians, before and after him, have taken this final step. A fatal error, as we now realize, a theological heresy with tragic consequences!

To reach an understanding in which Jews and Christians may agree, it is therefore indispensable to go back to the text. In any case we have to withdraw from any conclusion that is consistent with the “world of the reader,” but in contrast with the “world within the text.” If we read Zech 2:15 in its context, together with its most relevant intertexts, we may summarize its theological message in three points:

  1. The central role of Jerusalem as God’s dwelling place.

  2. Israel’s renewed and ongoing election, its identity as the people of God.

  3. The gentiles’ connection with Israel as a concrete way for their being people of God.

Ad 1. The basis of all salvation, for Israel and for the nations, is the promise that God will return and stay in Zion. הנני־בא ושכנתי בתוכך, with its repetition in the next verse, is the condition of all other events. In Zech 1:16 YHWH already announces his return (שוב) to Jerusalem, in 2:9 he predicts his glorious dwelling there. 8:3 picks up and reinforces all these prophecies: שבתי לציון ושכנתי בתוך ירושלם.‪64 To confirm her reelection as God’s residence (cf. 1:17; 2:16), Jerusalem will get a new name: עיר־האמת, “the truthful city,” a clear reference to what she is called in the book of Isaiah: קריה נאמנה (Isa 1:21, 26).

Ad 2. Does the fact that YHWH adopts some other nations weaken Israel’s position? Does it undermine Israel’s status as the elected people? It is fundamental that the same covenant formula which in Zech 2:15 expresses the gentiles’ future salvation―והיו לי לעם―, in 8:8 is used again to express the identity of the Jewish people.65 They are already “my people” (עמי) even while still in exile (v. 7). But after returning they shall be it in a deeper sense (והיו לי לעם, v. 8b) because they shall live in the same place where God resides, Jerusalem.66 Even more striking is the fact that the second part of the covenant formula which lacks in 2:15 is added here: ואני אהיה להם לאלהים. God will be Israel’s God, now and forever, he will tie his name to Israel and to no other people. So when the gentiles shall be called God’s people, with even more right Israel shall be called so. Their relation to YHWH seems to be unidirectional, whereas Israel’s relation runs in both directions; their relation starts with the decision to come to Jerusalem and be his followers, whereas Israel’s relation starts with God’s initiative to collect his people from exile and bring them home.

Ad 3. YHWH’s promise to be Israel’s God and the lack of such a promise for the foreign nations is essential for the concluding oracle of ch. 8. In accordance with several other “Völkerwallfahrtsorakel” Zech 8:20-23 announces the pilgrimage of foreigners to Jerusalem.67 It ends with a very original prophecy about ten persons “from all languages and nations” who shall grasp a single Jew and ask him to be their guide―כי שמענו אלהים עמכם, “for we have heard that God is with you” (v. 23). So they acknowledge what some verses before YHWH promised to Israel―“I will be their God” (v. 8)―and draw the consequence.

Zech 8:20-23, apart from other interesting details, makes clear that it is via Israel the gentiles relate to YHWH. Since he is Israel’s God, the nations have to get in contact with Israel. They are called to be YHWH’s people and, indeed, they shall be, but only in connection with Israel.68 As there is one God, there is also one people. Besides Israel, Zechariah cannot imagine another independent people, for it would lack the foundational history with YHWH. The nations get the promise that they shall also be God’s people, but only in as much as they are in close, “physical” contact with the Jewish people, at least with one of its members, one איש יהודי.

Moving, for a last time, from the text to actual life, it seems natural for a Christian reader to identify this unspecified “Jewish man” with Jesus of Nazareth.69 In his lifetime he didn’t have any project to establish contact with gentiles. But in the course of history he became the one who allows people of all nations to have access to the God of Israel. At the same time, as a Jew, he guarantees that Israel cannot be supplanted, nor can the new followers of YHWH be separated from it. Jews and Christians together, this is Zechariah’s final message, are the people of God, one people with different affiliations.70


We use the expression “conversion” in a pure technical sense here―the change of religious allegiance, the attachment to another deity―without entering the discussion of the problems surrounding this term in an ancient context. For the terminology in Biblical Hebrew, cf. 3.2.


Cf. the basic studies of R. Smend, Die Bundesformel (ThSt[B] 68; Zürich, 1963), and R. Rendtorff, Die “Bundesformel”. Eine exegetisch-theologische Untersuchung (SBS 160; Stuttgart, 1995). Interestingly, neither of these authors engages in a discussion of Zech 2:15. In his concluding remarks, Smend, Bundesformel, 32, only mentions it as “a last transformation of the covenant formula,” whereas Rendtorff, Bundesformel, 19 n. 17, recognizes the formal proximity of this verse, but does not list it in the table at the end of his book.


For the principles of our interpretation, see M. P. Maier, Völkerwallfahrt im Jesajabuch. Mit einem Geleitwort von George Y. Kohler (BZAW 474; Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2016) 60-71.


Representatives of the first thesis are A. Petitjean, Les oracles du Proto-Zacharie. Un programme de restauration pour la communauté juive après l’exil (EtB; Paris; Louvain: J. Gabalda; Imprimerie Orientaliste, 1969), who deals only with the oracles, and L.-S. Tiemeyer, Zechariah and His Visions: An Exegetical Study of Zechariah’s Vision Report (LHBOTS 605; London; New Delhi; New York; Sidney: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2015), who exclusively studies the vision reports. The opposite thesis of an essential interrelation is held, among others, by C. L. Meyers and E. M. Meyers, Haggai, Zechariah 1-8: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AncB 25B; New York; London; Toronto; Sydney; Auckland: Doubleday, 1987), and M. R. Stead, The Intertextuality of Zechariah 1-8 (LHBOTS 506; New York; London: T&T Clark International, 2009).


The Cairo Codex has another Petucha after v. 17 to indicate the end of the passage (cf. A. Gelston, ed., The Twelve Minor Prophets [BHQ 13; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2010] 12*).


Cf. R. Lux, “ ‘Still alles Fleisch vor JHWH …’. Das Schweigegebot im Dodekapropheton und sein besonderer Ort im Zyklus der Nachtgesichte des Sacharja,” Prophetie und Zweiter Tempel.

Studien zu Haggai und Sacharja (FAT 65; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009) 186-7. For the rhetorical features of the passage cf. M. J. Boda, The Book of Zechariah (NICOT; Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge: William B. Eerdmans, 2016) 185-8.


This is a central motif in the oracles of the nations’ pilgrimage to Zion. It is found in its clearest fashion in Isa 60:1-3.


There is a discussion about the syntax of v. 11. With Boda, Zechariah, 188-9, we consider ציון as a vocative and יושבת as its attribute: “O Zion, who reside …” בת־בבל, the personified city of Babylon, is the place where the Zion community resides. The poetic style permits the omission of a preposition after יושבת (in his commentary Abraham Ibn Ezra adds עם, cf. M. Cohen, ed., Mikra’ot Gedolot ‘Haketer’: The Twelve Minor Prophets [Ramat Gan: Bar-Ilan University, 2012] 282). But ישב may also be constructed without any preposition; in this case בת־בבל would function as an “accusative of place” (see WALTKE-O’CONNOR, 10.2.2b).


Cf. R. Nurmela, Prophets in Dialogue: Inner-Biblical Allusions in Zechariah 1-8 and 9-14 (Åbo: Åbo Akademi University Press, 1996) 54-6; Stead, Intertextuality, 116; Boda, Zechariah, 200-1. For Stead, the closest parallel is Ezek 39:10, for Boda Jer 50:10. Nurmela expands the comparison by showing several other verbal similarities between Zech 2:10-14 and Jer 50:8-11.


According to Boda, Zechariah, 200-1, שלל includes animals, clothing, precious metal, such as gold and silver, and all other goods of a defeated city, but normally not the people.


The whole section Ezek 38-39, the famous oracle about “Gog of Magog,” is widely recognized as an important intertext of Zech 2 (cf. M. J. Boda, “Hoy, Hoy: The Prophetic Origins of the Babylonian Tradition in Zechariah 2:10-17,” Tradition in Transition. Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 in the Trajectory of Hebrew Theology [LHBOTS 475; ed. M. J. Boda and M. H. Floyd; New York; London: T & T Clark International, 2008] 183-6; Stead, Intertextuality, 116).


C. J. L. Kloos, “Zech. ii 12: Really a Crux Interpretum?” VT 25 (1975) 729-36. Her analysis is accepted, among others, by Stead, Intertextuality, 116. For a presentation of all interpretations (in total sixteen!) see A. Wolters, Zechariah (HCOT; Leuven; Paris; Walpole, MA: Peeters, 2014) 80-2.


Boda, Zechariah, 202. To support his view he further points to Zech 2:9: “and I will be the glory (לכבוד) within it (sc. Jerusalem).”


We follow and build here on the argument of D. Barthélemy, Critique textuelle de l’Ancien Testament III. Ézéchiel, Daniel et les 12 Prophètes (OBO 50.3; Fribourg: Éditions Universitaires; Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1992) 938-939.


For a detailed exegesis of the relevant kavod-texts in Isaiah see Maier, Völkerwallfahrt, 159-62, 451-8, 474-5.


The idea of divine-human collaboration is perhaps best expressed in Isa 60:13, where next to each other the two synonymous verbs כבד and פאר are used: “The glory (כבוד) of Lebanon shall come to you […] to beautify (לפאר) the place of my sanctuary, and I will glorify (אכבד) where my feet rest.” For further discussion, see Maier, Völkerwallfahrt, 455-6.


So J. Wöhrle, Der Abschluss des Zwölfprophetenbuches. Buchübergreifende Redaktionsprozesse in den späten Sammlungen (BZAW 389; Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2008) 343, summarizing his redaction-critical research.


NRSV, instead, translates “I have returned.” As in Zech 8:3 (שבתי אל־ציון) the qatal-form can be interpreted in two ways: as past or future (prophetic perfect). In both cases it introduces a series of verbs in the weqatal, so the second option is preferable.


Cf. Nurmela, Prophets in Dialogue, 58-61; Stead, Intertextuality, 118-9; Boda, Zechariah, 209.


This is explicit in the last intertext Zech 8:3: ושכנתי בתוך ירושלם, “and I will dwell in the midst of Jerusalem.” The city obviously includes the citizens, the present and the future ones.


This is valid for the intertexts mentioned above. There are, of course, other biblical texts, e.g. Isa 60, that prophesy an international pilgrimage in reaction to YHWH’s return to Jerusalem.


Cf. V. Haarmann, JHWH-Verehrer der Völker. Die Hinwendung von Nichtisraeliten zum Gott Israels in alttestamentlichen Überlieferungen (AThANT 91; Zürich: Theologischer Verlag Zürich, 2008) 48-55. His thesis is based on previous studies of Yehezkel Kaufmann and Moshe Greenberg.


Nurmela, Prophets in Dialogue, 61-2, expands the comparison to Isa 14:1-2 and discovers four verbal and two thematic similarities with Zech 2:15-16.


Subject and verb (ונלוה) are in the singular, however, the verb of the parallel sentence is in the plural: וספחו, “they shall attach themselves.” The definite noun הגר, therefore, does not indicate a single individual, but a class of persons (cf. WALTKE-O’CONNOR, 13.5.1f).


For further details, see Maier, Völkerwallfahrt, 387-8. In our view, Isa 56:3-7 is the main argument against Haarmann’s thesis of two neatly separated types of conversion (see above).


This is also the case with the other intertexts Dan 11:34 and Esth 9:27.


J. E. Tollington, Tradition and Innovation in Haggai and Zechariah 1-8 (JSOT.S 150; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1993) 234, discusses the reason why Zechariah preferred “many nations” over the more universal expression “all nations”: “to emphasize the free choice offered to the nations, whereas to use ‘all’ might have suggested an element of compulsion underlying their actions.”


Stead, Intertextuality, 112-3, erroneously quotes Isa 2:3. But there the expression is עמים רבים, not גוים רבים.


Cf. the list of all references in Rendtorff, Bundesformel, 94-5.


The qualifications “a blessing” and “in the midst of the earth” (v. 24b) both refer to Israel which is the decisive “third” in the coalition (cf. our interpretation in Maier, Völkerwallfahrt, 212-20).


So the conjunction we has adversative meaning here. Cf. the discussion in R. Lux, “Juda―Erbteil JHWHs. Zur Theologie des Heiligen Landes in Sach 2,14-16,” Prophetie und Zweiter Tempel. Studien zu Haggai und Sacharja (FAT 65; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009) 79-80.


Lux, “Juda,” 80 (our translation).


For the interpretation of this text and its connection with Zech 2:16, see Lux, “Juda,” 80-4.


W. A. M. Beuken, Haggai―Sacharja 1-8. Studien zur Überlieferungsgeschichte der frühnachexilischen Prophetie (SSN 10; Assen: Van Gorcum, 1967) 327, remarks that Zech 2:17 reflects the theophany genre, but in reversed order: “zuerst die Reaktion der Welt und dann erst Jahwes Kommen.” So it is not the report of a theophany, but the appeal to react to it.


Nurmela, Prophets in Dialogue, 63, mentions two verbal similarities between this text and Zech 2:17, ממעון קדשו and כל־בשר, but considers neither of them “very remarkable.”


For the complete list see Boda, “Hoy, Hoy,” 179; Boda, Zechariah, 214-5.


Both Stead, Intertextuality, 126-7, and Boda, “Hoy, Hoy,” 179, consider primarily the parallels with Hab 2:20. For Stead, Zech 2:17 is “an unmistakable inverted allusion to Hab 2:20” (Stead, Intertextuality, 126).


Both observations are taken from Stead, Intertextuality, 126-7. His identification of מעון קדשו as YHWH’s heavenly residence is based on Deut 26:15: “Look down from your holy habitation, from heaven (ממעון קדשך מן־השמים).”


For a general evaluation of Revelation’s use of intertextuality, see C. R. Koester, Revelation: A New Translation with Introduction and Commentary (AYB 38A; New Haven, CT; London: Yale University Press, 2014) 123-5. According to M. Jauhiainen, The Use of Zechariah in Revelation (WUNT II.199; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2005) 76-7, the author of Revelation generally does not allude to specific texts, but to larger biblical themes.


Translation taken from Jauhiainen, Use of Zechariah, 76.


For a text-critical discussion of these problems cf. BHQ, 136*; T. Pola, “Zacharias / Sacharja,” Septuaginta Deutsch. Erläuterungen und Kommentare zum griechischen Alten Testament II. Psalmen bis Daniel (eds. M. Karrer and W. Kraus; Stuttgart: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 2011) 2457.


R. Bauckham, The Climax of Prophecy: Studies on the Book of Revelation (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1993) 311-2, rightly notes that Rev 21:3 combines the particular idea of a covenant people with the universal concept of salvation for all nations.


R. Hanhart, Dodekapropheton 7.1: Sacharja 1-8 (BK 14; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1998) 158 (our translation).


Cf. the useful contribution of Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy, 228-337, esp. 310-3, where he discusses the relationship between Rev 21:3 and Zech 2:14-15.


Cf. the basic statement of Koester, Revelation, 805: “ ‘Peoples’ in the Greek plural has not been used for the faithful but for the faithless inhabitants of the great world city where Christ was crucified (11:9), who live under the dominion of the whore (17:15). Yet here too it is used for the redeemed.” An important contribution to the theological questions involved is J. M. Nützel, “Gottesvolk aus Juden und Heiden. Zum Selbst-Verständnis der Christen in der Johannes-Apokalypse,” Ekklesiologie des Neuen Testaments. Für Karl Kertelge (eds. R. Kampling and T. Söding; Freiburg; Basel; Wien: Herder, 1996) 458-78. However, he is more interested in the Church’s identity as the eschatological people of God than in the ongoing existence of the “original” people of God, Israel.


Bauckham, Climax of Prophecy, 311.


This argument is strengthened by the fact that he still mentions a people of God in the singular, e.g. in Rev 18:4: “Come out of her, my people, so that you do not take part in her sins.”


Cf. H. Irsigler, “Ein Gottesvolk aus allen Völkern? Zur Spannung zwischen universalen und partikularen Heilsvorstellungen in der Zeit des Zweiten Tempels,” BZ 56 (2012) 219: “Der Plural ‘seine Völker’ (λαοι αυτου) […] lässt den einzelnen Völkern ihre Eigenständigkeit.”


The original expression, as attested, for example, in Heb 8:10, is characterized by the dative αὐτοῖς and the prepositional accusative εἰς θεόν.


We are fully aware that the question of Jewish-Christian relations cannot be reduced to exegesis, for contemporary dialogue does not just look at Scripture but also at wider theological and existential considerations. Nevertheless, we have to limit ourselves here presenting just a few significant examples of the diverging exegetical traditions in medieval Judaism and Christianity.


“Israel und die Völker [werden] ein Volk, das Volk Jahwes” (Hanhart, Sacharja, 156).


R. Lux, “ ‘Wir wollen mit euch gehen …’. Überlegungen zur Völkertheologie Haggais und Sacharjas,” Prophetie und Zweiter Tempel. Studien zu Haggai und Sacharja (FAT 65; Tübingen: Mohr Siebeck, 2009) 260: “Was hier angedeutet wird, das ist die Aufhebung der Völkervielfalt hinein in die Gemeinschaft des einen Volkes Gottes.”


Irsigler, “Ein Gottesvolk?” 215: “[e]in universales JHWH-Volk aus vielen Völkern als ein einziges Bundesvolk JHWHs.” Later he specifies: “Das kann schwerlich bedeuten, dass die Völkervielfalt ein Bundesvolk JHWHs neben und getrennt von dem Bundesvolk Israel sein wird. Vielmehr: Weil JHWH […] inmitten seines Bundesvolks Israel, verkörpert in der ‘Tochter Zion’, wohnen will, wird JHWH auch die vielen Völker in die Gemeinschaft des einen Bundesvolks Gottes zusammen mit Israel und um Israels willen aufnehmen.”


Cf. Wolters, Zechariah, 87: “‘many nations’ outside of Israel are promised inclusion in God’s covenant with his people,” and Boda, Zechariah, 211: “this Gentile inclusion into Israel.”


Stead, Intertextuality, 120: “the covenant blessing [is] extended to people from ‘many nations’.” This is the central point in the groundbreaking work of M. S. Kogan, Opening the Covenant: A Jewish Theology of Christianity (Oxford; New York: Oxford University Press, 2008): Israel’s covenant―through Christ―is opened to the Gentiles.


Cohen, ed., Minor Prophets, 282.


According to Abraham Ibn Ezra (1089-1164), Jerusalem shall rejoice and God shall dwell in her on the condition that all Jews unite and return from the Golahוהנה לא עשו כן, “and behold, they didn’t do like this” (Cohen, ed., Minor Prophets, 284). David Kimchi (1160-1235) comments on the announcement that many nations shall attach themselves to YHWH with the words: ולא ראינו זה בבית שני, “we didn’t see this at the time of the Second Temple.” He draws the conclusion that all this will happen in the future, in the “days of the Messiah” (Cohen, ed., Minor Prophets, 285).


Cf. Cohen, ed., Minor Prophets, 285. Kara also discusses the reason why the gentiles should convert: in the rebuilding of the temple, they shall witness God’s wondrous deeds. He therefore reads the text with the eyes of the implicit reader and does not enter a discussion about its realization in post-exilic or later times.


Cf. Andreas de Sancto Victore, Expositio super Duodecim prophetas (CC.CM 53G; eds. F. A. van Liere and M. A. Zier; Turnhout: Brepols Publishers, 2007) 283: “Alii putant sub Zorobabel et Iesu et Ezra et Neemia hec ex parte completa […]. Alii vero in futurum differunt.” Andrew is also remarkable as he does not identify the fulfillment of the prophecy with the history of the Church.


Cf. Nicolaus de Lyra, Postilla litteralis in Vetus et Novum Testamentum III. Isaias―Machabaei (Roma, 1472).


Nicolaus de Lyra, Postilla litteralis, ad Zach 2:11: “nomine enim Sion et nomine Hierusalem intelligitur Ecclesia.”


Cf. Nicolaus de Lyra, Postilla litteralis, ad Zach 2:12. He further explains: “And they are called ‘heathen’ (gentes), since in that time they didn’t live according to God’s law, but they violated it because of human rules” (our translation).


“[…] per conversionem gentium ad fidem Christi per orbem universum” (Nicolaus de Lyra, Postilla litteralis, ad Zach 2:15, our translation).


The whole passage Zech 8:1-8 has several thematic and lexical links with the oracles in chs. 1-2 (cf. J. Wöhrle, Die frühen Sammlungen des Zwölfprophetenbuches. Entstehung und Komposition [BZAW 360; Berlin; New York: Walter de Gruyter, 2006] 352-3). Wöhrle attributes them to the editorial work of the “Wort-Redaktion.”


The covenant formula in Zech 8:8b is at the center of the concentric structure of chs. 7-8, as outlined by M. Butterworth, Structure and the Book of Zechariah (JSOT.S 130; Sheffield: Sheffield Academic Press, 1992) 163.


This is indicated by the parallel expressions in 8:3 and 8:8: ושכנו בתוך ירושלם―ושכנתי בתוך ירושלם.


Cf. the instructive comments in Lux, “Wir wollen mit euch gehen,” 259-63. Jakob Wöhrle attributes both Zech 2:15-16 and 8:20-23 to the same redaction: the “Heil-für-die-Völker-Korpus” (cf. Wöhrle, Die frühen Sammlungen, 355; Wöhrle, Abschluss des Zwölfprophetenbuches, 337-51).


As we have seen, such a connection is envisioned also in Isa 19:24-25 (cf. above). But the theological idea there is somewhat different: “a trinity of peoples of YHWH” (W. Groß, “Israel und die Völker. Die Krise des YHWH-Volk-Konzepts im Jesajabuch,” Der Neue Bund im Alten. Studien zur Bundestheologie der beiden Testamente [QD 146; ed. E. Zenger; Freiburg; Basel; Wien: Herder, 1993] 157).


Interestingly, neither of the two medieval scholars quoted above does this. Andrew only discusses the time the oracle was fulfilled (“in adventu Domini salvatoris quando de Maria Virgine generatus est,” Andreas de Sancto Victore, XII prophetas, ad Zach 8:23), whereas Nicolaus equates the “vir iudaeus” with each of the apostles who preached to the gentiles (cf. Nicolaus de Lyra, Postilla litteralis, ad Zach 8:23).


This is the nucleus of Michael Kogan’s theology of Jewish-Christian relations (cf. n. 55). He considers both Jews and Christians as legitimate heirs of biblical Israel and speaks of “Jewish Israelites” and “Christian Israelites” as two branches (or stock and branch) of one people (Kogan, Opening the Covenant, 154).

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