Daniel Block, in his commentary on Ezekiel, speaks of a style in that book of resumptive exposition, in which a theme is initially dealt with briefly, and later examined in much more detail. Zechariah also seems to reuse imagery.

In Zechariah 14, the prophet proclaims that the Mount of Olives will be split in half, and the Israelites will flee through it. In an earlier vision, Zechariah had already seen four chariots come out from behind two bronze mountains, presumably by passing between them. The similarities are unmistakable, but what to make of the connection I am not sure. And it is odd to think of the people fleeing, for it sounds as if they are fleeing away from Jerusalem; and how this fits into the prophecy, I am not sure.

Also, the Mount of Olives in the Gospels is a favorite spot of Jesus's. Indeed, the coming of the Lord and his standing on the mountain are here prophesied (in both verse 4 and 5). However, the events described are not ones I would recognize from the time of Christ.

What is the connection between these two two-mountain passages? Does that explain in any way why the people flee, and whether they are actually fleeing away from or to Jerusalem? Does the coming of Christ fit into this prophecy?

  • And it is the same picture of Israel fleeing between the parted water. Make that connection and it becomes clear that it is a redemption or salvation picture through teh father and son being separated at the cross. The same with the stone אבן, which is the father אב and son בן. When the rock was split, the living water burst forth. All the things that are split are the same prophecy with slightly different views of it adding details of the cross. I know you dislike allegory, but you see that it is not free-for-all, but based in pattern, and the formation of words.
    – Bob Jones
    Jul 27, 2018 at 10:20

2 Answers 2


I have read several commentaries on this portion of scripture and see it causes a lot of confusion because the most probable meaning is that it is not associated with the first coming of Messiah but the second coming. Originally I may have fell into the 'destruction of Jerusalem' trap because Jesus spoke about the destruction of Jerusalem while sitting on 'Mount Olives' (Matth 24:3) However this is also followed by warning of his second coming, so there is no need to go that direction.

The reason why I have moved to this new position is:

First, because during the destruction of Jerusalem under Tutus half were not spared and delivered and although it may be symbolic the symbolism just does not seem to fit well. Second, the Lord's appearance to save his people 'when all the nations are arrayed against them' is too similar to the images that revelation sets up concerning the second coming of Christ. Third, the fact that so many commentaries differ in their view on the meaning of this chapter is similar to how varied commentaries are on the book of revelation so the uncertainty indicates future fulfillment which is always unclear.

The idea of the section is that on the 'day' that the Lord goes out and fights against the nations his feet will touch Mount of Olives, and the occurring earthquake of his appearance will be split it into two, forming a great valley to flee through...'Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.'

From the standpoint of assigning this to his second coming, the Mountain being split and the people running from Jerusalem has no direct relation to the earlier two mountains. Actually in this context the mountain is simply some large barrier that is preventing escape under impending doom. On one side are enemies and the other a barrier. I can't help but accept those commentaries that think the passing through the Red Sea is being alluded to. In this sense the second coming of Christ, will make an appearance when the world is arrayed against the invisible church. At his appearing a horrible earthquake (a recognition of his power) will cause the barrier to open up and create a valley of escape, just like the passage through the Red Sea.

I do not really dare to say anything more because I confess much about end times prophecy is unclear to me and I do not follow anyone (yet) who pretends a detailed account of what will occur.

The source that made the clearest sense to me on this is Keil. He does not exactly argue everything I have (for example the Red Sea allusion) but Keil is pretty close to this in overall vision (though not seeming to limit it to the second coming only but possibly more generally). Anyway regardless of Keil is really arguing a key verse for me that triggers the concept of the second coming is 14:5 where after the believers flee into the way of escape it is said , 'Then the Lord my God will come, and all the holy ones with him.' Here Keil makes an important note:

The saints here, according to the analogy of other passages (Deut. 33:2, 3; Dan. 7:9, 10; Matt. 25:31; Rev. 19:14), are the holy angels, and not (Vitringa) both holy angels and holy men. (Commentary Zechariah, Keil, p110)

Lange's commentary series (Chambers of Zechariah) seems to pretty much copied Keil word for word in his commentary (he must have forgotten to add the quotation reference!):

The saints here, according to the analogy of other passages (Deut. 33:2, 3; Dan. 7:9, 10; Matt. 25:31; Rev. 19:14), are the holy angels, and not (Vitringa) both holy angels and holy men. (Commentary Zechariah, TALBOT W. CHAMBERS, D. D. p111)

Christ coming with all his holy angels is a major indicator of his second coming. One could take it more generally and say it is not the second coming but a symbol of his saving his people over and over again until the second coming but that does not explain a 'running out' of Jerusalem. That idea would indicate a running to Jerusalem. No, I think we are talking about the end of the age, where the unexpected direction indicates nothing logical about the old way of life. It the end of the world has arrived and the old Jerusalem will be made new to be a new habitation, the old one no longer having significance at the close of human history as we know it.

This is what will happen in that day:When Gog attacks the land of Israel, my hot anger will be aroused, declares the Sovereign Lord. In my zeal and fiery wrath I declare that at that time there shall be a great earthquake in the land of Israel. The fish in the sea, the birds in the sky, the beasts of the field, every creature that moves along the ground, and all the people on the face of the earth will tremble at my presence. The mountains will be overturned, the cliffs will crumble and every wall will fall to the ground. (Ezekiel 38:18-20, NIV)

Under this view interestingly the four winds that you mention does have a place:

When the thousand years are over, Satan will be released from his prison and will go out to deceive the nations in the four corners of the earth —Gog and Magog —and to gather them for battle. In number they are like the sand on the seashore. They marched across the breadth of the earth and surrounded the camp of God’s people, the city he loves. But fire came down from heaven and devoured them. (Revelation 20:7-9, NIV)


The reference is liturgical. The penultimate feast in the year was atonement, the Day of Coverings. The goats were divided and the veil was opened. Israel's journey from Canaan to Egypt follows the same pattern. In that case, the blessings and curses are the "divided" mountains Ebal and Gerizim, and the veil is the Jordan.

The reference is also architectural. The Temple's legs - at least in Solomon's day - were the bronze pillars. They "stood" on the crystal sea, the bronze laver, above the bronze altar, a miniature Sinai, replicating the structure in Exodus 20 (the Lord is upon the sapphire sea).

So, just as the Temple, having legs, became a permanent Tabernacle in the Land, so the Temple's fulfilment split the four-cornered Land in two (we do see an altar being split apart in 1 Kings 13:5). All the Old Covenant saints ascended as "bridal smoke" into the Holy Place in heaven, and all the "sons of Korah" were swallowed by the Land as ashes. As the mountain splits to the north and south, so the movement of the saints is east to west, reversing the movement from the Garden in Genesis.

The observation above about the brass mountains is excellent. They are the "atonement" step in the initial cycle of the book, which is then replicated in the entire book. The horses are the beginning of the Restoration Covenant and the second Temple. The divided mountain is its end in the first century. Zechariah, like Kings and Chronicles, is founded upon and bookended by architectural events.

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    Mike, can I ask that you cite some sources with your answers? You make a lot of claims about what things do or don't mean, but I honestly don't know where most of them are coming from.
    – Caleb
    Feb 18, 2013 at 17:50
  • Hi Caleb - they come from the consistent sevenfold pattern of God's action, and the consistent architecture as it become more glorious over time. Israel's journey from Egypt to Canaan follows the feasts (with Jericho as atonement). A great place to start on biblical imagery (including the house of God as a microcosmos and a macrocosmic man) is Jame Jordan's Through New Eyes. It's free online in PDF at www.biblicalhorizons.com
    – Mike Bull
    Feb 18, 2013 at 21:39

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