Zechariah’s Vision of the Women and the Ephah
One spring evening in 520 B.C. The Prophet Zechariah received a series of eight visions all in one night. This was the seventh. While God had assured him that He loved the Nation Israel and He would end their Babylonian captivity and return them their land Eretz Yisrael He would in no way tolerate sin. In an earlier vision He talked about punishing sinful individuals. Here He tells Zechariah by means of symbols that He will remove sin itself. This will occur through the Great Tribulation.
5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth. 6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth. 7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof. 9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (ASV 1901).
Zechariah is Commanded to Shift His Frame of Vision
5 Then the angel that talked with me went forth, and said unto me, Lift up now thine eyes, and see what is this that goeth forth (ASV 1901).
The angel that has been speaking to Zechariah now tells him to shift his attention to a vision that is above his straight line of vision. He prepares him to see the next vision, which is a moving active vision. The angel (malakh haddobher bi) who talked in me moves into a different position to begin speaking to Zechariah’s spirit.
6 And I said, What is it? And he said, This is an ephah that goeth forth. He said moreover, This is their resemblance through all the earth (ASV 1901).
Now Zechariah sees the seventh vision and immediately does not know what it is. The Hebrew grammar, which designates gender to all nouns, assigns a feminine gender to the “it.” So he asked the malakh haddobher bi who answers him. This is an ephah that goes out over all the earth, is airborne and will attempt to assert dominion over all the earth. The term their resemblance means a multiplication of the symbolism of this image will exert itself throughout the earth. The ephah, the same as bath, was an ancient volumetric measurement of Israel. It was equal to about thirty-seven quarts or a bushel basket of dry goods. This was the largest dry goods measurement in the Old Testament. In this context coupled with the previous vision and the Hebrew morphology refers to a large sinning (thievery, perjurers etc.). Another way of expressing this is to say that in the previous vision God let Zechariah know that transgressors would be removed. In this vision God is showing Zechariah that sin or iniquity itself would be removed. It will be removed at the very place of its origin. And He is saying that He is fed up with it. So the image of the ephah clearly says to the Jews I have had it up to here (ephah) with your sin!
Prior to the Babylonian captivity the Israelites were primarily an agrarian shepherding nation. Their sin caused them to be conquered and expelled from their country. Babylon was the most advanced nation on the earth at that time excelling in commerce and the occult. While there they became accustomed to those advancements and the wicked ways of the Babylonians. The commercial practices in and of themselves are not wicked. But they have been used in wicked ways, which is what God objects to.
For nearly 2,000 years Babylon was the most important city in the world. It was a commercial and financial center of Mesopotamia. The arts of divination, astronomy, astrology, accounting, mathematics and private and commercial law all sprang up from Babylon. In short many of our world systems came from that region.
The Code of Hammurabi (Cir. 1772 B.C.) is one of the earliest sets of laws found, and one of the best-preserved examples of a legal type of document from ancient Mesopotamia. It shows rules and punishments if those rules are defied. It focuses on theft, farming (or shepherding), property damage, women’s rights, marriage rights, children’s rights, slave rights, and murder, death, and injury. The laws do not accept excuses or explanations for mistakes or fault. There were 282 laws on an obsidian stela, which is lava like stone and it is about 8 feet tall. It was discovered in 1909. It is now on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris, France. This concept lives on in most modern legal systems and has given rise to the term “written in stone”.
They developed a form of writing based on cuneiform (i.e. wedge-shaped) symbols. Their symbols were written on wet clay tablets, which were baked in the hot sun, and many thousands of these tablets have survived to be read by us today. It was the use of a stylus on a clay medium that led to the use of cuneiform symbols since curved lines could not be drawn. The Babylonians divided the day into 24 hours, each hour into 60 minutes, each minute into 60 seconds. This form of counting (sexagesimal or base 60) has survived for 4000 years. Their year and calendar had 30 month days and 360-day years. (Same as Genesis 7 & 8, Daniel 7:25 Revelation 12:6, 14 and Revelation 13:5) They had tables of squares, square roots, cubes, cube roots, reciprocals, exponential functions, and log functions. They had knowledge of trigonometry, the Pythagorean theorem 1200 years before Pythagoras did, and pi. They divided the circle into 360 degrees.
Babylon spiritually symbolizes the city of man or the city of Satan. One way to look at the Bible is a tale of two cities Jerusalem and Babylon. Both began in Genesis and both end in Revelation. It has never been destroyed yet (Isaiah 13:19-20). It fell into disrepair over the years since Cyrus took over the city. Saddam Hussein spent considerable effort to rebuild it. It will be the world headquarters of the Antichrist and the commercial center the one world government. This will be the final governmental form on earth prior to the establishment of the Messianic Kingdom.
God implores us to come out of her.
Revelation 18:4-5 And I heard another voice from heaven, saying Come out of her, my people that ye be not partakers of her sins and that ye receive not of her plagues. For her sins have reached unto heaven, and God hath remembered her iniquities.
In this vision of the ephah the Jews were being told that the wicked commercialism and occult they have been exposed to will end some day and they are not to participate in it. God is heaping up the sins of the Israelites and will separate them from the wicked at the end of the Great Tribulation.
The Talent and The Woman
7 And, behold, there was lifted up a talent of lead: and this is a woman that sitteth in the midst of the ephah. 8 And he said, This is wickedness. And he cast it into the midst of the ephah; and he cast the weight of lead upon the mouth thereof (ASV 1901).
In verse six with reference to this vision Zechariah had asked, “What is it?” Since all Hebrew nouns have gender regardless of whether they are actually male or female we see a feminine gender being applied to the “it.” The feminine ending of the term what is it gives insight that this grammatical feminine gender now takes on new meaning, for there is a woman (feminine) in the ephah, and she personifies wickedness. This symbol of wickedness is sitting in the ephah. Since the ephah was a dry measure and usually represented as a basket about the size of a bushel she is seen sitting in a bushel basket.
In addition to the largest volumetric measure God brings the largest weight measure to this vision. The talent was the largest Old Testament Jewish measure of weight, equivalent to 60 mina or 3000 shekels. The weight of one talent was about 75-95 lbs.
Some examples of the use of talents mentioned in the Old Testament for perspective are:
- The sons of Ammon hired chariots and horseman to fight against Israel in the days of King David for 1000 talents of silver (I Chronicles 19:6).
- Solomon was said to have received a weight of 666 talents of gold per year (II Chronicles 9:13).
- The holy of holies in Solomon’s temple was overlaid with 600 talents (for example; this is at least $12 billion in A.D. 2013 value) of gold (II Chronicles 3:8).
- 650 talents of silver plus 200 talents of gold and silver utensils were delivered to Jerusalem for the rebuilding of the temple (Ezra 8:26).
- Hezekiah, king of Judah, paid the King of Assyria 300 talents of silver plus 30 talents of Gold to withdraw their attacking troops (II Kings 8:14).
In this vision the woman is seen sitting in the ephah. The malakh haddobher bi then casts a talent of lead into the ephah where she was sitting thereby sealing up the ephah with the lead as a cover. She represents being bathed in the luxury of wicked commercialism and is symbolized by it. Again this is not mere commerce, it is Godless commercialism and mammon-worship. Her sitting in this wickedness shows that she delights in it. This is the very embodiment of evil. By her getting thrown into the ephah and covering her with a mass of lead is symbolically tying down and sealing sin so it cannot ever again surface to cause mankind to commit it. This image lets us know that God will finally rid the world of sin and all those who luxuriate in it. Women are symbolically represented in Scripture as a religious entity. Some examples in Scripture supporting this are:
On the positive side is the Wife of Jehovah in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, we see the Bride of Christ. So the Jews are called the “Wife of Jehovah” and in the New Testament the church is called the “Bride of Christ.”
On the negative side, there’s the woman with the leaven, Matthew 13:33 and the Great Harlot of Revelation 17:2 called Jezebel. Jezebel was a real woman in the northern ten tribal region of Israel. She married Ahab and brought pagan religions into that community after the civil war when Israel was divided north and south. Baal worship resulted in more idolatry and sexual immorality. In Bible typology Jezebel represents the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 riding the beast.
20 Notwithstanding I have a few things against thee, because thou (allow) that woman Jezebel, which calleth herself a prophetess, to teach and to seduce my servants to commit fornication, and to eat things sacrificed unto idols. 21 And I gave her space to repent of her fornication; and she repented not. 22 Behold, I will cast her into a bed, and them that commit adultery with her into great tribulation, except they repent of their deeds (KJV).
Here Jesus is condemning the Thyatira Church for their wickedness in the Dark Ages (Cir. A.D. 600-1517). The name Thyatira means continual or perpetual sacrifice. It represents the Eucharist, which also called transubstantiation or continually sacrificing Christ.
During this period while the standing church persecuted many and accumulated vast personal wealth they introduced at least ten false doctrines.
- Justification by works – not simply by grace through faith. This means one can work their way to heaven.
- Baptismal regeneration – This means that the point the body goes into the water, one is saved, you are a Christian and you are going to be with Christ in heaven.
- Worship of images – You can see this especially in the Eastern Orthodox Church. There is an incredible number of icons there that have a greater importance to most people than Christ himself.
- Celibacy – Forbidding priests to marry.
- Confessionalism – Is where sins are confessed to a priest then the priest tells you whether or not he is going to relieve you of the guilt of that sin.
- Purgatory – It’s a place of confinement, which is neither heaven nor hell, but it’s a place where the priest says that this is where you go because you haven’t completed your responsibility to God. The worse part of Purgatory is that your sanctification here on the planet is not complete.
- Transubstantiation – This is the taking of the bread or the wafer in the Mass, which is taught that it is a real sacrifice of Christ.
- Indulgences – By the giving of money, one’s time in purgatory is reduced.
- Penance – is “beating” yourself somehow to reduce your time in purgatory.
- Mariolatry – The worship of the Virgin Mary, elevating her to deity.
The Great Whore
1And there came one of the seven angels which had the seven vials, and talked with me, saying unto me, Come hither; I will shew unto thee the judgment of the great whore that sitteth upon many waters: 2 With whom the kings of the earth have committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth have been made drunk with the wine of her fornication. 3 So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns. 4 And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: 5 And upon her forehead was a name written, MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH. 6 And I saw the woman drunken with the blood of the saints, and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus: and when I saw her, I wondered with great admiration (KJV).
John the apostle saw this vision of the woman riding the beast. It represents the marriage of false religion to the various governments and commercialism of this world. The beast she rides is the last world empire, which was described in Daniel chapter seven. It is the final form of the empire of imperialism with absolute control of the Antichrist ruling from Babylon supported by the False Prophet leading the world’s apostate religions to worship the Antichrist. The term Jezebel in Bible typology means this woman.
The Two Women With Wings
9 Then lifted I up mine eyes, and looked, and, behold, there came out two women, and the wind was in their wings; for they had wings like the wings of a stork: and they lifted up the ephah between the earth and the heaven. 10 Then said I to the angel that talked with me, Whither do these bear the ephah? 11 And he said unto me, To build it an house in the land of Shinar: and it shall be established, and set there upon her own base (KJV).
These two women are symbols of God’s agents to remove sin and take it to Babylon (Shinar) where it will be destroyed as Babylon will be destroyed. Babylon will be the commercial center of the world during Antichrist’s reign and it will be destroyed during the campaign of Armageddon. This symbolic act demonstrates the commercial nature of Babylon with its wicked commercialism originating in the days of Nimrod (Genesis 11:4). God taking the ephah there symbolizes Him letting the wicked commercialism flourish in the future one-world capital until it is finally removed forever.
Daniel E. Woodhead