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A Call to Justice and Mercy
1 In the fourth year of King Darius, the word of the LORD came to Zechariah on the fourth day of the ninth month, the month of Chislev. a 2 Now the people of Bethel had sent Sharezer and Regem-melech, along with their men, b to plead before the LORD 3 by asking the priests of the house of the LORD of Hosts, as well as the prophets, “Should I weep and fast in the fifth month, as I have done these many years?”
4 Then the word of the LORD of Hosts came to me, saying, 5 “Ask all the people of the land and the priests, ‘When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for these seventy years, was it really for Me that you fasted? 6 And when you were eating and drinking, were you not doing so simply for yourselves? 7 Are these not the words that the LORD proclaimed through the earlier prophets, when Jerusalem and its surrounding towns were populous and prosperous, and the Negev and the foothills c were inhabited?’ ”
8 Then the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying, 9 “This is what the LORD of Hosts says: ‘Administer true justice. Show loving devotion d and compassion to one another. 10 Do not oppress the widow or the fatherless, the foreigner or the poor. And do not plot evil in your hearts against one another.’
11 But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder; they stopped up their ears from hearing. e 12 They made their hearts like flint and would not listen to the law or to the words that the LORD of Hosts had sent by His Spirit through the earlier prophets. Therefore great anger came from the LORD of Hosts.
13 And just as I had called and they would not listen, so when they called I would not listen, says the LORD of Hosts. 14 But I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations that they had not known, and the land was left desolate behind them so that no one could come or go. Thus they turned the pleasant land into a desolation.”
1 a Chislev is the ninth month of the Hebrew lunar calendar, usually occurring within the months of November and December.
2 b Or Bethel-sharezer had sent Regem-melech, along with his men,
7 c Hebrew Shephelah or lowlands ; that is, the western foothills of Judea
9 d Forms of the Hebrew chesed are translated here and in most cases throughout the Scriptures as loving devotion ; the range of meaning includes love , goodness , kindness , faithfulness , and mercy , as well as loyalty to a covenant .
11 e Hebrew they made their ears too heavy to hear