Danie F. O’Kennedy


Zechariah 1-8 has an optimistic undertone and describes Yahweh’s love for the
post-exilic community in Jerusalem. At least three passages refer directly to
forgiveness: Zech 1:16 – “Therefore, thus says the Lord, I have returned to
Jerusalem with compassion”; 3:4 – “See I have taken your guilt/sin away from you,
and there will be festal clothing for you”; and 3:9 – “… and I will remove the guilt
of this land in a single day”. All these references belong to the second section of
Proto-Zechariah (1:7-6:15) that contains seven (or eight) visions interspersed with
oracles. Two of the prominent forgiveness references are found in the vision of the
high priest Joshua (3:1-10). This vision is different from the others and some
scholars believe that 3:1-7 (8-10) may be part of a later addition or exclude it from
the sequel numbering of the visions (Jeremias, Meyers & Meyers, Petersen,
Reventlow, Willi-Plein, et al). This article discusses the portrayal of forgiveness in
Zechariah 1-8 offering a few possible answers to the following questions: (1) What
is the content of forgiveness in Zechariah 1-8? (2) Were the forgiveness references
later additions? (3) Does 3:1-10 describe a ritual of forgiveness? (4) Was the
rebuilding of the temple a sign or symbol of forgiveness? (5) Was forgiveness a
central theme for the post-exilic community in Jerusalem?

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