Does the Hebrew for "first" in Zechariah 12:7 carry the same logical implication we would apply in English that there must then be, at least, a second?

“And the LORD will give salvation to the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem may not surpass that of Judah.

That is, if salvation was not going to be subsequently also given to someone else then you would not say it will be given to Judah first

Or is it more like "primarily" or "foremost"? Both seem possible according to the lexicon definition I've read, but which is it here?


3 Answers 3


בָּרִֽאשֹׁנָ֑ה (bā·ri·šō·nāh)
Preposition-b, Article | Adjective - feminine singular
Strong's Hebrew 7223: First, in place, time, rank

Pulpit Commentary

Verse 7. - Shall save the tents of Judah first. Instead of "first," a preferable reading, supported by the Greek, Latin, and Syriac Versions, is "as in the beginning," or "as in former days." The prophet declares that the open towns and villages of Judah, which can offer no effectual resistance to an enemy like the fortified city Jerusalem, shall be saved by the aid of God, as so often has happened in old time.

Matthew 20:16

"So the last will be first, and the first will be last."

Does “first” demand a “second” in Zechariah 12:7?

Not necessarily.


Yes, if there is a first, there must be a second. This takes place at Armageddon (12:2-4). Judah is the Jews always.

DBY Zec 12:5 5 And the leaders of Judah shall say in their heart, The inhabitants of Jerusalem shall be my strength through Jehovah of hosts their God.

This verse actually doesn't say "leaders". It says "thousands". I believe those are the 144,000 Jews who were sealed in Revelation 7.

Who are the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who are such an encouragement to the thousands of Judah? The phrase "the inhabitants of Jerusalem" has 2 meanings. There are the inhabitants of the earthly Jerusalem and the inhabitants of the heavenly Jerusalem. In this verse I think they are the 144,000 Christians who were raptured in Revelation 14.

DBY Zechariah 12:7 And Jehovah shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be not magnified over Judah.

The "tents of Judah" means the physical bodies of the Jews (2Cor 5:1-4).
Like "inhabitants of Jerusalem", house of David can have 2 meanings. It can be the literal house of David or it can be the house of Christ (Heb 3:6), who are the Christians.

The spirits and souls of the Christians have already been saved, but their bodies are suffering along with everyone else on earth at this time during the great tribulation.

God will save the physical bodies of the Jews first, before He saves the physical bodies of the Christians, so that Christians do not in pride look down on the Jews.

Romans 11:17 Now if some of the branches [Jews] have been broken out, and thou, being a wild olive tree [Gentile], hast been grafted in amongst them, and hast become a fellow-partaker of the root and of the fatness of the olive tree,
18 boast not against the branches; but if thou boast, it is not thou bearest the root, but the root thee.
19 Thou wilt say then, The branches have been broken out in order that I might be grafted in.
20 Right: they have been broken out through unbelief, and thou standest through faith. Be not high-minded, but fear:
21 if God indeed has not spared the natural branches; lest it might be he spare not thee either.
22 Behold then the goodness and severity of God: upon them who have fallen, severity; upon thee goodness of God, if thou shalt abide in goodness, since otherwise thou also wilt be cut away.
23 And they too, if they abide not in unbelief, shall be grafted in; for God is able again to graft them in.
24 For if thou hast been cut out of the olive tree wild by nature, and, contrary to nature, hast been grafted into the good olive tree, how much rather shall they, who are according to nature be grafted into their own olive tree?
25 For I do not wish you to be ignorant, brethren, of this mystery, that ye may not be wise in your own conceits, that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the nations be come in;
26 and so all Israel shall be saved. According as it is written, The deliverer shall come out of Zion; he shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob.

  • Judah is the Jews but Judah is not Israel as Rev7 doesn’t speak of the Jews but the sons of Israel. You can’t conflate or interchange Jew with Hebrew. Jews are Hebrew but not all Hebrews are Jews or of the southern Kingdom because the Hebrews of the ten tribes are of the northern Kingdom and generally referred to as Israel as opposed to Judah or Jews. Sep 11, 2020 at 13:48
  • Sorry, I do not understand your point. I did not use the term Hebrews. Sep 12, 2020 at 14:22
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    Exactly my point hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/41256/… please read this to see the distinctions Sep 12, 2020 at 17:16
  • Thanks Nihil. That was a good question posted there. I saw your comment there and read the beginning of it, but it was too long for me, and I disagreed with the beginning. I just added a comment to the same question. Mine is much shorter. Sep 13, 2020 at 18:32

The word "first" transliterated as "barisonah" meaning "at first." Brown-Driver-Briggs lists the meaning under 3.a for Zech 12:7 as "at first, first of all". The NASB concordance includes the meaning of beginning, which is the sense here in Zech. 12:7; so beginning from Judah.

Salvation = the everlasting kingdom of Christ under the new covenant gospel of Christ came first to Judah, and then spread out to all the nations grafted in under the gospel of Christ. This was prophesied from old.

Zech. chap. 12 is a prophesy of the time in which Christ was manifested on earth, when He walked upon the earth of Yehuda / Judah or Judea, in the first century A.D. We have to look at a few key scriptures to determine the time elements and definitions.

The Elements of Zech chap. 12: (Unless otherwise noted, all references are from the KJV)

The people affected = Israel, or the remnant of Israel -

Zech 12:1 "The burden of the word of the Lord for Israel..." is the beginning of a new prophesy, and the people to whom the prophet was speaking

The Time = after the crucifixion of Christ - Zech 12:10,

" And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn."

The Branch of David = Christ

Isa. 11:1-2,

" And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots: 2 And the spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD;"

Jer. 23:5-6,

"5 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. 6 In his days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS."

Jer. 33:14-16,

"14 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will perform that good thing which I have promised unto the house of Israel and to the house of Judah. 15 In those days, and at that time, will I cause the Branch of righteousness to grow up unto David; and he shall execute judgment and righteousness in the land. 16 In those days shall Judah be saved, and Jerusalem shall dwell safely: and this is the name wherewith she shall be called, The LORD our righteousness."

The house of David = the lineage of the promised Seed, Christ- 1 Chron. 17:23-24,

"23 Therefore now, LORD, let the thing that thou hast spoken concerning thy servant and concerning his house be established for ever, and do as thou hast said. 24 Let it even be established, that thy name may be magnified for ever, saying, The LORD of hosts is the God of Israel, even a God to Israel: and let the house of David thy servant be established before thee."

Psa. 122:5,

"5 For there are set thrones of judgment, the thrones of the house of David." The house of David was also interchangeable with the house of God, as Christ the author of our salvation (Heb. 5:9) reigns on the throne of David:

Psa. 132:11,

" The LORD hath sworn in truth unto David; he will not turn from it; Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne." See also Isa. 9:7; Luke 1:32.

The elements of this prophesy indicate a time period under the new covenant. so we need to identify the changes in the names and terms from the old covenant to the new covenant.

Jerusalem was the city of David located in Yehuda / Judea under the old covenant. (2 Sam. 5:7; 2 Kings 9:28; 14:20, etc.)

Jerusalem of the new covenant, New Jerusalem, is the bride of Christ, the body and church of Christ. Rev. 3:12,

"12 Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall go no more out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalem, which cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name."

and Rev. 21:2,

"2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband." (See also Gal. 4:26)

Israel under the old covenant was all of the circumcised under the commandment to Abraham (Gen. 17:10) and under the law of Moses (Ex. 12:44, 48).

Israel under the new covenant are all those that are in Christ, and are counted for the seed of Abraham seed (Rom 4:11; 9:8; 1 Cor. 7:18) Because of the two - old covenant Israel and new covenant Israel - He has made both one in Christ Jesus. (Col. 2:6-11; Gal. 4:28)

Therefore, the Israel prophesied to be saved in the Lord with an everlasting salvation (Isa. 45:17), is the Israel of the new covenant under the gospel of Christ joined with all the worthy that had been counted as righteous under the old covenant.

We also note the blessing Jacob gave Judah for their latter days, from Gen 49:10,

"The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be."

Christ (Shiloh) received the scepter from Judah, the law giver, when He was crucified on the cross and ascended to the Father in 30 or 31 A.D.

So, salvation - the Messiah - came to Judah first in their latter days, and the gospel of Christ went forward from Judah then to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and then on to the other nations (gentiles).

See more evidences from the scriptures for the changes in the definitions of Israel and the House of God (God's Definitions, Parts I & II) at my blog: ShreddingTheVeil (All bold emphasis is mine.)

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    This is just plain wrong. The word translated as "first" in the OP is בראשונה, b'rishonah, not rishon. בראשונה would be better translated "at first". Compare with בראשית, "In the begining", the very first word of the Bible.
    – user17080
    Jun 5, 2017 at 16:08
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    I double checked, and added the word from the Interlinear per your comment. But, it is still referenced as Strong's Heb 7223, which is transliterated as "rishon". I skipped the first reference and went directly to Strong's Heb., but I don't believe that makes the answer wrong. The sense is still at first, or beginning with Judah.
    – Gina
    Jun 5, 2017 at 16:20
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    Don't bother with the transliterations, just read the MT: וְהוֹשִׁ֧עַ יְהֹוָ֛ה אֶת־אׇהֳלֵ֥י יְהוּדָ֖ה בָּרִֽאשֹׁנָ֑ה לְמַ֨עַן לֹֽא־תִגְדַּ֜ל תִּפְאֶ֣רֶת בֵּית־דָּוִ֗יד וְתִפְאֶ֛רֶת יֹשֵׁ֥ב יְרוּשָׁלַ֖‍ִם עַל־יְהוּדָֽה. There's no "rishon" here. Either a mistake in Strong or a misunderstanding of how to read it so delete the first sentence of your answer and it will be greatly improved.
    – user17080
    Jun 5, 2017 at 16:53
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    Unfortunately, I don't read Hebrew, so I must rely upon the transliterations, and translations. You are objecting to Strong's Heb 7223? But, the meaning of "at first" is still the same?
    – Gina
    Jun 5, 2017 at 17:06
  • The meaning is apparently "at first" or "be the first". It is very unlikely that the intent is "first foremost, chief" which is what plain "rishon" could mean - so that's the part that you should delete. In any event, there is no "rishon" in this verse, only b'rishonah, which is very different. I am not so familiar with Strong or the other English translations, except for what I have read for answering on this site.
    – user17080
    Jun 5, 2017 at 17:21

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