This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. (1:3)
The LORD Almighty is repeated 3 times. What follows in verse 4 is even more repetitive:
In the eighth month of the second year of Darius, the word of the Lord came to the prophet Zechariah son of Berekiah, the son of Iddo: 2 “The LORD was very angry with your ancestors. 3 Therefore tell the people: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Return to me,’ declares the LORD Almighty, ‘and I will return to you,’ says the LORD Almighty. 4 Do not be like your ancestors, to whom the earlier prophets proclaimed: This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Turn from your evil ways and your evil practices.’ But they would not listen or pay attention to me, declares the LORD. 5 Where are your ancestors now? And the prophets, do they live forever? 6 But did not my words and my decrees, which I commanded my servants the prophets, overtake your ancestors?" (Zechariah 1:6a NIV)
About this passage David Starling1 says:
The punctuation of the English translations struggles to accommodate the extent to which the opening paragraph nests quotations within quotations. In verse 4, for example, at the center of the paragraph, the narrator is telling the book's readers about what YHWH said to Zechariah about what Zechariah was to say to the people about what YHWH had to say about what the earlier prophets had said about what YHWH had to say to the ancestors of the people of Zechariah's time. The ancestors to whom those words were originally spoken have long since died, as verse 5 reminds us, and the same is true of the prophets who were their contemporaries. But the words that were spoken to them live on, reverberating solemnly as a quotation of a quotation of a quotation of a quotation of a quotation, embedded at the center of the introduction to the book.
Since Zechariah follows his 3-fold use of LORD Almighty with the nested 5-fold quotations, there seems to be a purpose beyond a simple call to "return and remember."
Is there a particular significance of having a five-fold witness to what was said, as opposed to a 3-fold witness? Or is this simply a consequence of Zechariah having to retell the history at the time it happens to require a 5-fold message?
1. David I. Starling, Hermeneutics as Apprenticeship. Baker Academic 2006. p.83