NOTE: This is the first of two posts. Neither of them will be easy posts to read or understand. You will have to stay with them, think about them — yes — pray on them. You also need to understand that I am not claiming that this is the definitive meaning of the prophecies in Zechariah. All I am trying to do is share something with you that was revealed to me and which may make sense out of one of the most mysterious prophetic books in the Bible: the Book of Zechariah.
With that said, let me show you the first of several passages in Zechariah that I believe point to a coming nuclear event in the Middle East.There are several things we need to consider before we begin. First, Zechariah has never been well understood by either Hebrew Rabbis or Christian scholars. We also need to understand that Zechariah was writing in an ancient language that only contained some 8900 or so words. In addition to this, the words in the Hebrew language are root-based: meaning many words are formed from the same root constants with different words being formed by changing the vowels. All root words are connected in meaning and usually convey meaning in terms of painting a picture related to the ancient Hebrew culture. Finally, the written Hebrew did not include the vowels. The reader had to mentally insert them according to the context of their use. Now, take all of this and place yourself in Zechariah’s shoes. Suppose God showed you a vision of a nuclear exchange to take place sometime in the far distant future. How would you describe that to the people of your time?
We start with chapter 5 of the book of Zechariah, and an interlinear reading of the same text (interlinear). I strongly recommend that you open both in separate windows so you can quickly refer to them as this post continues.
The first thing we want to look at is verses 2-3. The Hebrew word that is translated as ‘roll’ is ‘megillah.’ This was a scroll, but — more importantly — it was a single rolled scroll. In ancient times, most scrolls were rolled from both ends, sort of like an old-fashioned microfiche tape. As we read on, Zechariah tells us this scroll is 20 cubits high and 10 cubits in ‘breadth.’ (a cubit is approximately 18 inches or 44 cm) This is another word that may have lost significant meaning in translation. Normally understood as ‘diameter,’ this word may well refer to ‘the line cast about.’ In other words, it was originally understood as the circumference, not diameter. Now, I readily admit, this understanding is based on something I was not able to confirm, so there is a great deal of doubt here, especially since a megillah usually had a 2:1 ratio to its dimensions — exactly as Zechariah was describing. So I am holding out my own judgment on this point. Finally, we are told that this flying scroll has writing on it. In fact, it is written on both sides, which was another unusual feature in Zechariah’s time.
Reading verses 5-6, we learn that Zechariah was shown an ‘ephah.’ This was actually a unit of measure roughly equivalent to 35L. An ephah was usually used in relation to a measure of wheat, or barley. It is often translated as a basket, because this was the most common form of carrying an ephah of grain. Inside this ephah was an ‘ishshah.’ This word can mean woman or wife, and it is usually translated as woman. But there is another meaning for this word, and here is where things start to get interesting.
The ancient word, ishshah, would have appeared exactly the same when written as the Hebrew word for fire sacrifice (ashshah). Now, imagine you are trying to translate Zechariah in the first century and you see these words. You have to decide whether the word you see means there is a woman sitting in a 35L basket, or a fire sacrifice in a 35L basket. Not that they understood this passage, because they had to decide and it probably made the most sense to them, the ancient scribes translated this passage as “a woman in a basket.” Now, if we read the rest of the original Hebrew, we will find that the angel tells Zechariah ‘this’ (not she) is wickedness, and then the angel throws ‘it’ (not her) into the midst of the ephah. For some reason, the original Hebrew suggests that this woman is an it, not a who?
But we are told more about this “woman in a basket.” Reading on, we learn that this woman is wickedness, and she sits under a heavy lead lid. We are also told that there are many of these baskets with women in them sitting under a heavy lead lid, and that this is how all of them look throughout the land. Finally, we are told that this basket with the woman in it is being sent to those who steal and who swear falsely by God’s name, and that, once these baskets arrive, they will remain in the houses of the thief and blasphemers, consuming the wood and even the stone of their homes (the original Hebrew just says remain, it does not say ‘over night‘).
So, what are we to make of all this? Well, before August 6, 1945, I don’t think anyone on earth could have made sense of this prophecy. But after Hiroshima, Zechariah starts to make a lot more sense. Let me see if I can explain (remember, you have 8900 words, mostly pictorial in nature and tied to an ancient agrarian culture to describe what follows). Starting from the end of Zechariah 5 and working backward:
What type of ‘fire’ do you know of that ‘is wickedness;’ can literally consume both the wood and stone of a house and leaves a residual of some sort (remember, it remains in the house)?
Do you know how big the delivery container for a tactical nuclear weapon is? It is roughly the size of an ephah! And it has lead shielding to protect its handlers from stray radiation. What’s more, there are many of them, and — generally — they all look about the same.
Now, you are Zechariah, and you have all these limits of your own understanding and your language and the culture to which you are writing. How do you describe a tactical nuclear weapons? Even today, can you do a better job than to say ‘a wicked fire inside a 10 gallon/35L, lead-lined container?’ And how can you describe what it does better than to connect fire which remains even after it has consumed wood and stone?
OK, so we still might not have enough. Let’s keep going. The text of chapter 5 suggests a connection between these flying scrolls and these ephahs. If we accept that the breadth is not a diameter but ‘the line cast about,’ and we do the math, then we find that these ‘flying rolls’ are about 35 ft long and 5.5 ft in diameter – exactly within the general range of dimensions for most IBLM’s/SLBMs (intermediate range or Submarine Launched ballistic missiles). What’s more, they are the delivery system for tactical nuclear weapons, and many of these missiles actually do have writing on the outside of them.
But I still was not convinced, so I do not blame you if you have doubts. However, when I read the last lines of Zechariah 5, I noticed that these ephahs filled with wicked women are being taken to Shinar, where a ‘home’ will be made for them. Shinar is another name for Babylon, and ancient enemy of Israel. Sadly, nothing has changed. Ancient Babylon was in the area that is, today, Iraq, Iran and Syria. So the question now is, if Zechariah was describing a nuclear exchange, who attacks whom? The ending of Zechariah 5 could suggest that the nuclear weapons will live in Babylon (Shinar), but it can also mean that this is where they will be delivered (remember, the wicked fire sacrifice remains after consuming wood and stone). I think the answer to this question is in Zechariah 12, and I will write about that next. Stay tuned for my second post.
[NOTE: I consulted a Jewish friend of mine as to the Hebrew here, and he was surprised. He said the Rabbis actually admit to being confused by Zechariah 5. They do not know what it means and say so in their commentaries. However, in general terms, my Jewish friend did confirm that ishshah could very well have been meant to read ashshah — fire sacrifice. The mistake being on the part of confused scribes who could not make sense of Zechariah’s words because they had no knoweldge of the nuclear age.]