May 13, 2011

Minor Prophets LXXXIX: Flying Scrolls and A Woman In A Basket

Zechariah 5:1-4 and Vision #6: Zechariah sees a flying scroll and is asked what he sees. He answers the obvious, “I see a flying scroll, twenty cubits long and ten cubits wide.” He is then told, “This is the curse that is going out over the whole land; for according to what it says on one side, every thief will be banished, and according to what it says on the other, everyone who swears falsely will be banished.” The Lord then goes on to declare, “I will send it out, and it will enter the house of the thief and the house of anyone who swears falsely by my name. It will remain in that house and destroy it completely, both its timbers and its stones.’”

What is in view here is continued lawlessness in the land. We also see what amounts to spiritual renewal. Lawbreakers are condemned in this vision. The scroll is opened and large…for all to see. It is a clear pronouncement. There are no excuses for not knowing the rules. There is no such thing like we have today that says, “The rules in the Bible, it is unclear”. This requirement of renewal is a call to repentance and for people to get their act straight. Once the scroll is revealed an understood, leave the violators of God’s commandments and precepts open to judgment. The judgment will clearly be a curse and it will destroy the ones it is set upon such as the thief mentioned in this passage. The hope is those that do obey the Lord will be exempt from this curse or judgment. We see the echo of Deuteronomy 28. Blessings for those that obey, curses for those that do not.

Zechariah 5:5-11 and the Vision #7: We see a woman in a Basket. An angel comes and speaks, “Look up and see what is appearing.” She is a symbol of the iniquity of the people throughout the land. She represents wickedness and she is pushed her back into the basket and the lead cover is put back down on it. Zechariah then looks back up and there before me were two women, with the wind in their wings. They had wings like those of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between heaven and earth. Zechariah then inquires where it is being taken. He is told that is being taken to the country of Babylonia to build a house for it. When the house is ready, the basket will be set there in its place.

Jerusalem is being purified. The basket (a measuring basket) and this woman (wickedness) it contains is clearly alluded to the iniquity of the people…and it will be removed to Babylonia. The person is woman because the Hebrew word for wickedness is feminine. A cover of lead to assure a secured content…that could not escape, not for safety. This imagery also goes back to the idea of the flying scroll. Flying because it would precipitate the flying or leaving of those that cannot or would not abide in the statutes of the Lord, just like the stork. Two additional woman would be involved in the basket’s removal. Here we get the impression this basket is quite onerous and heavy or filled with sin and wickedness. The final judgment by Babylon will cleanse the land and sin and wickedness’ removal will set the stage for Christ. The hope or encouragement is obviously that of Christ’s arrival.

Longman, Tremper, and David E. Garland. "The Sixth Vision: The Flying Scroll." The Expositor's Bible Commentary: Daniel-Malachi . Rev. ed. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2006. 763-765. Print


The Animation Empire said...

Yes, but why the 2 women with stork wings? Are they non-literal symbols as well? They must be, or we would have metaphors mixed with literal descriptions. If that's the case, then why 2, why women, and why storks? Thanks!

The Animation Empire said...

I found my answer here:

Good points in that link. Basically, these stork-winged women are not angels or demons. They are symbols like the rest. Storks are unclean birds, so this passage is saying that evil forces are transferring the wickedness. So they could be demons, but the stork-winged women would be symbols of demons and not literal ones (meaning that it's not saying demons are women or have stork wings).


Andy Pierson said...

Hey Animation Empire!

Good Questions. Zecheriah is apocalyptic literature and this type of writing is imfamously hard to interpret and is always a bugger to clarify. I will try my best but this is tough stuff to interpret even for experts and that is why there are often so many varying opinions. For context purposes I will state this:
The seventh vision depicts the removal of wickedness from the land of Judah to Babylon. Sin is symbolized as a woman since wickedness is a feminine word in the Hebrew and she is thrust into an ephah sealed with a lead disc and carried by two women to Babylon.

That being said we need to see the symbolic nature in all this potentially because it is apocalyptic in nature. The "basket that is going forth” was most likely an “ephah,” and would've been too small to hold even a small woman. A fact like this is not significant for apocalyptic literature where it is not necessary for the images, especially those that occur in dreams or visions, to conform in all aspects to reality. Hence the senseless bickering and arguing we see in the church over stuff like this that only causes division. The thing we really need to take away from this imagery is the "personalization" of wickedness", it's source is human. In this case a human female.

As for the “women with wings like storks” that carry the basket away… The Hebrew word for “stork” is hasıda, meaning “faithful one” and is similar to the Hebrew word for “grace” or "hesed". The faithful one, the stork winged womena may symbolize God’s gracious removal of sin and iniquity from His people...frankly, due to the apocalyptic nature of this passage it may not even refer to actual entities as we would understand them...Strange passage for sure...hope this helped

Andy Pierson said...

I just went back and read your links after responding. Looks as if the man in your link and I came to the same type of conclusion seperately. When dealing with Jewish apocalyptic literature I recommend you read this book to brush up on the styles and genres in prophecy:

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