Zechariah 5 – Two Visions Regarding the Cleansing of God’s People
A. The vision of the flying scroll.
1. (1-2) What Zechariah saw.
Then I turned and raised my eyes, and saw there a flying scroll. And he said to me, “What do you see?” So I answered, “I see a flying scroll. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits.”
a. A flying scroll: In this vision, Zechariah saw a scroll flying through the air. The scroll was apparently rolled open because Zechariah could see how large the scroll was.
b. Its length is twenty cubits and its width ten cubits: The scroll was approximately 15 by 30 feet (4.5 meters by 9 meters). These were the dimensions of the porch of Solomon’s temple (1 Kings 6:3).
2. (3-4) What the scroll represents.
Then he said to me, “This is the curse that goes out over the face of the whole earth: ‘Every thief shall be expelled,’ according to this side of the scroll; and, ‘Every perjurer shall be expelled,’ according to that side of it.”
I will send out the curse,” says the LORD of hosts;
“It shall enter the house of the thief
And the house of the one who swears falsely by My name.
It shall remain in the midst of his house
And consume it, with its timber and stones.”
a. Every thief shall be expelled…every perjurer shall be expelled: This makes many people think that the text on the scroll contained the Ten Commandments. To steal was to injure your neighbor; to perjure was to dishonor God because you had sworn in His name.
b. I will send out the curse: The two sins, one from each side of the tablets of the Ten Commandments, represented all of Israel’s sin. God would curse the people who committed these sins and also curse their house.
B. Vision of the woman and the basket.
1. (5-8) The woman sitting in the basket.
Then the angel who talked with me came out and said to me, “Lift your eyes now, and see what this is that goes forth.” So I asked, “What is it?” And he said, “It is a basket that is going forth.” He also said, “This is their resemblance throughout the earth: Here is a lead disc lifted up, and this is a woman sitting inside the basket”; then he said, “This is Wickedness!” And he thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth.
a. It is a basket that is going forth: The basket was an ephah, it and the lead disc were units of measurement and symbols of commerce.
i. This is their resemblance throughout the earth: The NIV (New International Version) translates this, This is the iniquity of the people throughout the land.
b. This is Wickedness: The woman, the basket, and the weight were associated with wickedness. They were images of greed, materialism, and dishonesty for profit.
i. The Hebrew word for Wickedness is feminine. This is probably why a woman was the image of evil in this vision.
ii. Zechariah prophesied to those who returned from the Babylonian exile. God’s people came back from Babylon with a materialism problem, and this vision spoke of this problem.
c. He thrust her down into the basket, and threw the lead cover over its mouth: God first demonstrates His authority over evil and then removes the wickedness from Jerusalem.
2. (9-11) The woman and the basket are returned to Babylon.
Then I raised my eyes and looked, and there were two women, coming with the wind in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork, and they lifted up the basket between earth and heaven. So I said to the angel who talked with me, “Where are they carrying the basket?” And he said to me, “To build a house for it in the land of Shinar; when it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base.”
a. Two women…they had wings like the wings of a stork: This means that the women in Zechariah’s vision had big wings, strong enough to take this basket back to Babylon. Some regard these women as agents of evil because storks were unclean animals, but here they seem to do the work of God in sending the wicked woman back to Babylon.
b. Where are they carrying the basket? God would cause this evil, materialistic spirit to be returned to its starting place: Babylon (the land of Shinar). There it would eventually be destroyed.
c. When it is ready, the basket will be set there on its base: The word for base has the thought of a pedestal for an idol. The storks set the idol of materialism where it belonged.