Zechariah’s initial prophecy is dated to 520 B.C., the same year as that in which Haggai received the prophetic call. The first eight chapters of the Book of Zechariah contain oracles which certainly belong to him while the last six (sometimes called “Deutero-Zechariah”) represent the work of one or more unknown authors. In the prophecies proper to Zechariah eight symbolic visions are recorded, all meant to promote the work of rebuilding the temple and to encourage the returned exiles, especially their leaders, Joshua and Zerubbabel. In the final chapter of this first division Zechariah portrays the messianic future under the figure of a prosperous land to which the nations come in pilgrimage, eager to follow the God of Israel.
The second part of Zechariah is divided into two sections, each with its own introductory title. The first (Zec 9-11) consists of oracles whose historical background, date and authorship are extremely difficult to determine. With ⇒ Zechariah 9:9 begins the messianic vision of the coming of the Prince of Peace. The verses describing the triumphant appearance of the humble king are taken up by the four Evangelists to describe the entry of Christ into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday. Zec 12 is introduced by an oracle proclaiming the victory of God’s people over the heathen. The prophecy closes by describing in apocalyptic imagery, the final assault of the enemy on Jerusalem, after which the messianic age begins.
In the second year of Darius, in the eighth month, 1 the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo:
The LORD was indeed angry with your fathers. . .
and say to them: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Return to me, says the LORD of hosts, and I will return to you, says the LORD of hosts.
Be not like your fathers whom the former prophets warned: Thus says the LORD of hosts: Turn from your evil ways and from your wicked deeds. But they would not listen or pay attention to me, says the LORD.
Your fathers, where are they? And the prophets, can they live forever?
But my words and my decrees, which I entrusted to my servants the prophets, did not these overtake your fathers? Then they repented and admitted: “The LORD of hosts has treated us according to our ways and deeds, just as he had determined he would.”
2 In the second year of Darius, on the twenty-fourth day of Shebat, the eleventh month, the word of the LORD came to the prophet Zechariah, son of Berechiah, son of Iddo, in the following way:
3 I had a vision during the night. There appeared the driver of a red horse, standing among myrtle trees in a shady place, and behind him were red, sorrel, and white horses.
Then I asked, “What are these, my lord?”; and the angel who spoke with me answered me, “I will show you what these are.”
The man who was standing among the myrtle trees spoke up and said, “These are they whom the LORD has sent to patrol the earth.”
And they answered the angel of the LORD who was standing among the myrtle trees and said, “We have patrolled the earth; see, the whole earth is tranquil and at rest!”
4 Then the angel of the Lord spoke out and said, “O LORD of hosts, how long will you be without mercy for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah that have felt your anger these seventy years?”
To the angel who spoke with me, the LORD replied with comforting words.
And the angel who spoke with me said to me, Proclaim: Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am deeply moved for the sake of Jerusalem and Zion,
5 and I am exceedingly angry with the complacent nations; whereas I was but a little angry, they added to the harm.
6 Therefore, says the LORD: I will turn to Jerusalem in mercy; my house shall be built in it, says the LORD of hosts, and a measuring line shall be stretched over Jerusalem.
Proclaim further: Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again overflow with prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and again choose Jerusalem.
1  The second year . . . eighth month: October/November, 520 B.C.
2  The second year . . . eleventh month: January/February, 519 B.C.
3 [8-11] The driver of a red horse: apparently distinct from the man, or angel of the LORD . . . standing among the myrtle trees, who spoke with the prophet. The four horsemen are sent by God to the four corners of the earth (⇒ Zechariah 2:10), to see if the whole earth is at peace.
4  These seventy years: see note on ⇒ Jeremiah 25:1-14.
5  The complacent nations: the neighbors of Judah; especially Edom, which enjoyed their present prosperity and security at Judah’s expense.
6  Measuring line: not for devastation, as in ⇒ Isaiah 34:11 but for reconstruction.