The Crowning of Joshua

9The word of the Lord came to me: 10"Take [silver and gold] from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. 11Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak. 12Tell him this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the Lord. 13It is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on His throne. And He will be a priest on His throne. And there will be harmony between the two.’ 14The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord. 15Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you. This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God."

After the eight visions were complete, Zechariah wrote, "The word of the Lord came to me: ‘Take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon. Go the same day to the house of Josiah son of Zephaniah. Take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak’" (vss. 9–11). Here, the Lord followed the eight visions that He gave to Zechariah with directions to carry out a symbolic ceremony. "This symbolic act and the message that accompanies it brings into sharp focus the messianic implications of the prophetic visions." [Laney, 73]. "The series of eight visions is followed by a very significant symbolical transaction, which must be regarded as the crowning act—the headstone of the rich symbolico-prophetical teaching which was unfolded to the prophet on that memorable night. It shows us what will follow the banishment of evil from the land, and the overthrow of world-power in the earth, as set forth particularly in the last three visions—namely, the crowning of the true King." [Baron, 187].

Zechariah was told to "take silver and gold from the exiles Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah, who have arrived from Babylon" (vs. 10). As we have previously pointed out, only a relatively small number of the Jewish exiles to Babylon returned with Zechariah to rebuild the temple. The rest stayed behind in Babylon. Here we find out that three of the exiles—Heldai, Tobijah, and Jedaiah—had recently returned to Israel, bearing a gift of silver and gold from the exiles in Babylon. Zechariah was to "take the silver and gold and make a crown, and set it on the head of the high priest, Joshua son of Jehozadak" (vs. 11). That this is a symbolic act is implicit in the action of crowning the high priest as one would crown a king. In Israel, priests were not to be kings. "This kingly authority could not be promised to Joshua individually, for the office of king was limited to the family of David. It must then have referred to him in his typical character, as the representative type of the Messiah" [Moore, 96].

The Lord leaves no doubt that the action is symbolic, by explaining the symbolism: "Tell [Joshua] this is what the Lord Almighty says: ‘Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the Lord. It is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on His throne. And He will be a priest on His throne. And there will be harmony between the two’" (vss. 12–13). The crowning of Joshua is prophetic of the crowning of the Messiah. That this passage concerns the Messiah, Jesus Christ, is clear in a number of ways. First, "the Branch" is a term that refers to the Messiah. This term is found also in other Messianic passages: "Listen, O high priest Joshua and your associates seated before you, who are men symbolic of things to come: I am going to bring my servant, the Branch" (Zech. 3:8); "In that day the Branch of the Lord will be beautiful and glorious, and the fruit of the land will be the pride and glory of the survivors in Israel" (Isa. 4:2); "A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit" (Isa. 11:1); "‘The days are coming,’ declares the Lord, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land’" (Jer. 23:5); "In those days and at that time I will make a righteous Branch sprout from David’s line; He will do what is just and right in the land" (Jer. 33:15).

Here in Zechariah, the significance of calling the Messiah "the Branch" is given: "Here is the man whose name is the Branch, and He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the Lord" (vs. 12). The development of the ministry of Jesus, the Messiah, would resemble the growth of a branch. "He shall not openly descend from heaven, in visible glory and greatness, but shall slowly grow up out of the earth, in lowly humiliation. This was true of Him as a man, for He was the humble carpenter’s son for thirty years, and grew slowly in the shade as a Nazarene. It was true of Him as Messiah, for He was a root out of a dry ground, despised and rejected of man. It has been true of Him as a recognized Saviour in the world, for His church began as a little flock, and is yet in a minority among men. It is true of Him as a life in each heart, for Christ is formed within us the hope of glory, gradually, first the blade, then the stalk, and then the full ear in the stalk. Hence this phrase is strikingly descriptive of the Messiah as He has been actually manifested in the person of Jesus." [Moore, 97].

The second way in which this passage clearly refers to the Messiah is by the action of crowning Joshua, a priest, as though he were a king. The Lord says in the passage: "And He will be a priest on His throne" (vs. 13). Levitical priests could not be kings. Judaic kings could not be Levitical priests. The Messiah, however, was prophesied to be a king in the line of David, as well as a priest, though of a different order than the Levitical priests. The psalmist wrote of the Messiah: "You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4). Melchizedek was a priest and king who visited Abraham (see Gen. 14:18ff). We learn from the writer of Hebrews that Melchizedek was a type of Christ: both a priest and king (see Hebrews 7). Also prophetic of the Messiah is the statement: "And there will be harmony between the two" (vs. 13). The phrase "the two" refers to the two offices of the Messiah: priest and king. This harmony "between the kingly and priestly attributes of Messiah implies the harmonizing of the conflicting claims of God’s justice as a King and His love as a Father and Priest" [JFB, 679]. This harmonization of the two offices could only happen through Jesus, who satisfied through His suffering the requirements of the King’s righteous justice, so that through Jesus, the ultimate High Priest, we could have peace with God.

Incidentally, many see another way that this passage may be pointing to the Messiah through the prophetic reference of the words that here introduce the Messiah. The Lord says: "Here is the man" (vs. 12), or (as in the King James Version), "Behold the man." These words were the same that were uttered by Pilate when he introduced Jesus, the Suffering Servant, to the crowd in Jerusalem: "Behold the man" (John 19:5, KJV).

This prophecy concerning the Messiah related to what the people in Israel were doing in Zechariah’s time, because it showed them that the temple that they were building foreshadowed the ultimate temple that will be built by the Messiah: "He will branch out from His place and build the temple of the Lord. It is He who will build the temple of the Lord, and He will be clothed with majesty and will sit and rule on His throne" (vss. 12–13). This was most certainly an encouragement to the people building the temple. The temple on which they were working so hard would be a symbol to all generations of the future, glorious temple, in which the Messiah will reign in majesty. To remind the Israelites of the ceremony described here—the crowning of Joshua—and all that it symbolizes, the crown was to be placed in the Temple: "The crown will be given to Heldai, Tobijah, Jedaiah and Hen son of Zephaniah as a memorial in the temple of the Lord" (vs. 14).

There is a further symbolic aspect in this episode. The fact that the silver and gold was brought from far away by Heldai, Tobijah and Jedaiah points to the fact that God’s people will include not just the Israelites, but people from all over the world: "Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord" (vs. 15). That people from all nations will join in the fellowship of God’s people is prophesied throughout the Old Testament, beginning with God’s promise to Abraham: "All peoples on earth will be blessed through you" (Gen. 12:3). This is prophesied very clearly elsewhere in the book of Zechariah: "Many nations will be joined with the Lord in that day and will become my people. I will live among you and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you" (Zech. 2:11); and "‘And many peoples and powerful nations will come to Jerusalem to seek the Lord Almighty and to entreat Him.’ This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In those days ten men from all languages and nations will take firm hold of one Jew by the hem of his robe and say, "Let us go with you, because we have heard that God is with you."’" (Zech. 8:22–23).

Also prophesied here is the eventual realization by the children of Israel that Jesus Christ is the true Messiah: "Those who are far away will come and help to build the temple of the Lord, and you will know that the Lord Almighty has sent me to you" (vs. 15). The rejection of the Messiah by the children of Israel is a temporary state of affairs. Paul tells us this very clearly: "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved" (Rom. 11:25–26). The Lord here in Zechariah ends this prophecy by telling us the condition for the acceptance of the Messiah: "This will happen if you diligently obey the Lord your God" (vs. 15). "Nowhere in the Bible can we find that God has set eternal life before men without their necessary response of faith to it. So it is with Israel" [Feinberg, 303].

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