DOI:10.5508/jhs.2011.v11.r16

Journal of Hebrew Scriptures - Volume 11 (2011) - Review

Petterson, Anthony R., Behold Your King: The Hope for the House of David in the Book of Zechariah (Library of Hebrew Bible/Old Testament Studies; New York: T & T Clark, 2009). Pp. xiv + 286. Hardcover, US$150. ISBN 978-0567092151

Behold Your King: The Hope for the House of David in the Book of Zechariah is Petterson's revised Ph.D. dissertation, completed in 2006 at the Queen's University of Belfast under the supervision of T. D. Alexander. Dissatisfied with previous research investigating the nature of the Davidic hope through the historical-critical framework, Petterson aims to offer a fresh assessment of the topic in the final form of the book of Zechariah. He concludes that “the canonical book of Zechariah presents a robust hope for a future king in the line of David who will be instrumental in Yahweh's restoration programme for his people and the world” (p. 1).

After defining his methodology, Petterson presents a literature survey on the numerous scholarly reconstructions of the Davidic hope in the book of Zechariah (Chapter 2). The review demonstrates a complete lack of consensus on the issue, largely due to differing views on authorship and editing of the book. Broadly speaking, scholarly views can be divided into three major strands: (a) Zerubbabel as failed restorer of the Davidic monarchy with the Davidic hope recast; (b) no hope for the restoration of the Davidic dynasty either in Zerubbabel or in a future Davidide; and (c) no hope for the restoration of the Davidic monarchy in Zerubbabel, but a clear hope for a future king.

In order to support his argument, Petterson focuses particularly on the following issues: the roles of Joshua and Zerubbabel in Zechariah 3 and 4 (Chapter 3); the identity of the Shoot in Zech 3:8 and 6:12 (chapter 4); the coming king in Zech 9:9 (Chapter 5); the shepherd in Zechariah 11 and 13 (Chapter 6); and the pierced one in Zech 12:10 (Chapter 7).

Petterson contends that while Zechariah 3 envisages Joshua being reinstated to the role that the high priest enjoyed before the exile rather than an elevation of his status in the absence of a king, Zechariah 4 envisions Zerubbabel as the temple builder reconstructing the temple in the power of Yahweh's Spirit through his prophets rather than as a king taking the throne. The hope for a future king from the house of David clearly extends beyond them; however, the restoration of the priesthood and the rebuilding of the temple at the time of Joshua and Zerubbabel could heighten the expectation for a coming Davidic king.

After tracing the Shoot imagery in Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, Petterson concludes that the Shoot is an eschatological priest-king promised by the “former prophets.” His coming represents the fulfillment of Yahweh's promise, signifying a new and humble beginning for the house of David which will usher in the kingdom of Yahweh with all its blessings. Zechariah used the “Shoot” passages to keep the Davidic hope alive and to push it into the future.

Petterson continues his investigation in Second Zechariah which he views as developing the same hope created in First Zechariah. In Zechariah 9, he sees that the expectation for a future Davidic king becomes sharper instead of being modified, diminished or democratized. In addition, this coming king will be the lynchpin of a restored land and people, bringing in peace and prosperity.

After identifying the “shepherd(s)” in Zech 10:1–11:3 as the wicked leaders of foreign nations, Petterson argues that Yahweh promises to raise up new leaders to replace them (Zech 10:4), among whom the Davidic king of Zech 9:9 is certainly to be included. While the first sign-act of Zech 11:4–14 is a dramatic representation of Israel's history leading to the exile, the second sign-act of Zech 11:15–17 demonstrates that the people have received what they deserve for their rejection of Yahweh as shepherd. These shepherd images serve to raise the expectation for an eschatological Davidic shepherd-king, coming to overturn the present afflicted situation. Appealing to the wider context of the final form of the book, Petterson argues that the pierced one in Zech 12:10 is the coming king in Zech 9:9. Finally, he identifies the shepherd in Zech 13:7–9 as the future Davidic king, and the function of this passage is to explain Yahweh's purpose of piercing his Messiah in Zech 12:10.

Petterson's work is well researched and extensive. It engages in dialogue with a wide range of scholarship. His thesis progresses well in First Zechariah, though the reviewer is not totally convinced by his argument, particularly his nuanced views on the priest-king in Zech 6:12–13, such as the identification of “the two” as Yahweh and the Shoot (p. 112) which will place the earthly king on par with the deity. However, with regard to Second Zechariah, Petterson needs to give more attention to certain issues in order to advance his proposal, especially his identification of the “shepherd(s)” and the “pierced one” in the corpus. He interprets the two sign-acts from a historical perspective, with the former one recounting the past failure of Israel and the latter one depicting the present oppression of the Persian king. From a chronological point of view, we would question why the staff of “favour” was broken before the staff of “union” since the former one was nullified due to the exile to Babylon while the latter one was invalid due to the split of the monarchy. In addition, we need more information regarding the socio-historical context of Second Zechariah before we could perceive the identity of that “Persian king” afflicting Yahweh's people in the prophet's day (p. 193). To my surprise, Petterson only uses one sentence to state the setting and date of the corpus: “I believe that there are good reasons for placing chs. 9–14 in a later period in the prophet's ministry, after the completion of the temple (9:8)” (p. 3).

In order to identify the pierced one in Zechariah 12, Petterson appeals to the wider context of Second Zechariah. He contends that the final-day battle that will usher in Yahweh's kingdom is viewed from different perspectives in each chapter of the corpus, with recurring themes in each cycle (see his table on p. 222). Based on this argument, he concludes that even though “there is no explicit mention of a king here [Zech 12:10] does not mean that there is no king in view, nor that earlier hopes had faded. The hope for a coming king has already been firmly established in chs. 1–6, and clearly reiterated in ch. 9,” with the other chapters continuing to raise this hope of a coming king (p. 222).

According to Petterson's table, the theme of the coming Davidic king in Zechariah 9–14 recurs in (1) Zech 9:9–10; (2) 10:2, 4; (3) 12:10; and (4) 14:9, 16–17. Based on the similarities between chs. 9 and 10, he contends that though the metaphors of Zech 10:4 envisage a plurality of leadership, the Davidic king of Zech 9:9–10 should be included as their leader. It is true that there are many similarities between these two chapters; however, the peace-maker image of the king in Zechariah 9 is completely different from the warrior image of the leaders in Zechariah 10. The use of the word כגברים (“as mighty men,” 10:5) to argue that the metaphors in 10:4 are to be understood in Davidic terms seems to be out of place as גברים is only a general description of those who are mighty warriors. Regarding Zechariah 14, it is true that it portrays a future king; however, this king is Yahweh himself rather than the king mounted on a donkey in Zechariah 9. It seems that the “coming one(s)” in all three passages are different figures. How can these be used to prove the identity of the pierced one? From here, we can see “how presuppositions play a major role in the interpretation of these chapters” (p. 221).

To read the book of Zechariah more synchronically and canonically is a recent trend. Petterson's close scrutiny of the structural and linguistic features of the final text is definitely beneficial. None of the concerns raised above should discount his contribution in this area; they are meant to bring forwards further discussions on unsettled issues. Petterson's book, building on previous scholarship, takes one more step in the study of the Davidic hope in the book of Zechariah.

Anna Suk Yee Lee, McMaster Divinity College, McMaster University