A Call to Justice and Mercy
1On December 7*7:1 Hebrew On the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Kislev, of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar. This event occurred on December 7, 518 b.c.; also see note on 1:1. of the fourth year of King Darius’s reign, another message came to Zechariah from the Lord. 2The people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regemmelech,*7:2 Or Bethel-sharezer had sent Regemmelech. along with their attendants, to seek the Lord’s favor. 3They were to ask this question of the prophets and the priests at the Temple of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies: “Should we continue to mourn and fast each summer on the anniversary of the Temple’s destruction,*7:3 Hebrew mourn and fast in the fifth month. The Temple had been destroyed in the fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar (August 586 b.c.); see 2 Kgs 25:8. as we have done for so many years?”
4The Lord of Heaven’s Armies sent me this message in reply: 5“Say to all your people and your priests, ‘During these seventy years of exile, when you fasted and mourned in the summer and in early autumn,*7:5 Hebrew fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months. The fifth month of the ancient Hebrew lunar calendar usually occurs within the months of July and August. The seventh month usually occurs within the months of September and October; both the Day of Atonement and the Festival of Shelters were celebrated in the seventh month. was it really for me that you were fasting? 6And even now in your holy festivals, aren’t you eating and drinking just to please yourselves? 7Isn’t this the same message the Lord proclaimed through the prophets in years past when Jerusalem and the towns of Judah were bustling with people, and the Negev and the foothills of Judah*7:7 Hebrew the Shephelah. were well populated?’”
8Then this message came to Zechariah from the Lord: 9“This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies says: Judge fairly, and show mercy and kindness to one another. 10Do not oppress widows, orphans, foreigners, and the poor. And do not scheme against each other.
11“Your ancestors refused to listen to this message. They stubbornly turned away and put their fingers in their ears to keep from hearing. 12They made their hearts as hard as stone, so they could not hear the instructions or the messages that the Lord of Heaven’s Armies had sent them by his Spirit through the earlier prophets. That is why the Lord of Heaven’s Armies was so angry with them.
13“Since they refused to listen when I called to them, I would not listen when they called to me, says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. 14As with a whirlwind, I scattered them among the distant nations, where they lived as strangers. Their land became so desolate that no one even traveled through it. They turned their pleasant land into a desert.”