A stone with eyes

Here's the text. My apologies for its length, but I think we need the whole chapter to make sense of the ending, where the weird bit I'm wondering about comes. I've bolded the bit that is bugging me.

Zechariah 3, ESV:

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the Lord, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him. 2 And the Lord said to Satan, “The Lord rebuke you, O Satan! The Lord who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?” 3 Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments. 4 And the angel said to those who were standing before him, “Remove the filthy garments from him.” And to him he said, “Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.” 5 And I said, “Let them put a clean turban on his head.” So they put a clean turban on his head and clothed him with garments. And the angel of the Lord was standing by.

6 And the angel of the Lord solemnly assured Joshua, 7 “Thus says the Lord of hosts: If you will walk in my ways and keep my charge, then you shall rule my house and have charge of my courts, and I will give you the right of access among those who are standing here. 8 Hear now, O Joshua the high priest, you and your friends who sit before you, for they are men who are a sign: behold, I will bring my servant the Branch. 9 For behold, on the stone that I have set before Joshua, on a single stone with seven eyes, I will engrave its inscription, declares the Lord of hosts, and I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day. 10 In that day, declares the Lord of hosts, every one of you will invite his neighbor to come under his vine and under his fig tree.”

My question is this: What in the world is this stuff about a stone, and its seven eyes? Not to mention the inscription. I think the context is fairly clear--Joshua (whose name is a tolerably clear pointer to "Jesus") has his sins forgiven and is clothed in righteousness, and all this as a result of the coming of the Branch (identified as the Messiah elsewhere in the prophets). "I will remove the iniquity of this land in a single day" appears to be a pretty straightforward reference to the crucifixion. So far, so good.

But I don't get the bit about the stone. Or the eyes. Or the inscription.

Stones usually are a reference to God himself (see basically everywhere in the Psalms), and there's this bit in Revelation:

Revelation 5:6
And between the throne and the four living creatures and among the elders I saw a Lamb standing, as though it had been slain, with seven horns and with seven eyes, which are the seven spirits of God sent out into all the earth.

But I still can't make coherent sense of the image.


  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    I don't know. But it is movingly beautiful. It DOES all speak of the Spirit behind the veil to me. Anew.
  • This is the first passage I ever preached on in the city in which I now reside, 33 years ago this month. I think I skimmed over that verse...

    A quick look at an interlinear Hebrew text and a couple of other translations suggests to me that the image (and boy, does Zechariah have a fine store of those) might be more to do with boundary stones; in reconsecrating the Temple, Joshua will be re-establishing a landmark of the presence of the all-seeing God in the land.

    Just my early-morning €0.02.
  • I wonder if the eyes might be particular features of a stone, like facets or inclusions? I don't know what terms jewelers or geologists back then would've used. The features might be natural or worked.

    Hmmm...how many sections does a Jewish Kabbalistic Tree of Life diagram have? It looks kind of like a flow chart, with lines between circles.

    You might also look up Jewish mysticism, folklore, and symbolism. The Revelation quote is probably in that territory.

    IIRC, the traditional symbols for the gospel writers (eagle, man, etc.) are straight from Jewish astrology.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    The stone imagery is used throughout the Bible

    Psalm 118:22
    The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone.

    Isaiah 28:16
    So this is what the Lord GOD says: "See, I lay a stone in Zion, a tested stone, a precious cornerstone, a sure foundation; the one who believes will never be shaken.

    Matthew 21:42
    Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone. This is from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?

    Acts 4: 10=12
    …10then let this be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12Salvation exists in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.”…

    Ephesians 2:20-22
    And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; …

    1 Peter 2:4-5
    “Coming to Him, a living stone, rejected by men but with God chosen and precious, you yourselves also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house into a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”

    And then there is this interesting passage

    Rev 5:6
    “And I saw in the midst of the throne and of the four living creatures and in the midst of the elders a Lamb standing as having just been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God."

    I am not sure exactly what Zachariah had in mind. But it does appear the stone in the New Testament is referring to Jesus. John of Patmos picks up on the seven eyes again referring to Jesus.

    The number seven does mean complete or perfect in Biblical numerology'
  • MamacitaMamacita Shipmate
    I was thinking along the same lines as Golden Key, that the "eyes" were some feature of the stone. Just the way it looked. Perhaps additional layers of meaning were read in over the years. I imagine the reference from Revelation ties right back to the Zechariah passage.
  • A few more bits and pieces:

    "Tree Of Life (Kabbalah)" (Wikipedia).

    "The Zohar" (My Jewish Learning).
    The Zohar is part of the Kabbalistic tradition. The top of the page has a beautiful, full-color depiction of the Tree of Life.

    I speculated that the Tree might have 7 sections. Actually, it usually has 10 sephirot/sefirot. However:
    In the Zohar, the seven lower sefirot are those aspects of God that are present in asiyah, our world of action. Seven is also the preferred number in spells, magic squares, amulets, and the like (Genesis 7:2; I Kings 18:43; Deuteronomy 16:9; Pesahim 54a; Sotah 10b).[/i]
    --"Judaism & Numbers" (My Jewish Learning).

    BTW, I was taught that 7 is the number of completion in Judaism. I wonder if that was through a Christian lens? The next bit of the "Judaism & Numbers" article says 8 is completion. Or maybe that varies in Judaism.
  • I've heard the completion thing too. And the eye=facet idea is interesting, wonder what a word study through the OT would show.
    I'm clueless about the inscription, though.
  • {Mentally wandering around...}

    IIRC, some people in the book of Revelation get new names written on stones. Don't think I've come across a clear explanation for that one. Might it indicate that the people and/or memory of them would last?


    I did a search on "Zechariah 3 Torah". Got hits from Jewish sites, as hoped, and some Christian sites. The Jewish ones might be helpful, FWIW.
  • Martin54Martin54 Shipmate
    Sun, Moon, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus, Saturn.
  • Could be. My mind went to the Pleiades, referenced at one time as 7 stars. And I think they're mentioned in (some) translations of the Hebrew scriptures. I searched on "Pleiades Judaism".

    Found something interesting at the site of Hidabroot, "the world's largest Jewish TV network". People vary in how many Pleiades (/Pleids?) they can see without a telescope. Generally, 6-8. However, Talmudic scholars said 1500 years ago that there were many, many more. And it turns out they were right.
  • GracieGracie Shipmate, 8th Day Host Posts: 18
    @Lamb Chopped, since you’re here and mentioning Zechariah, I’d be interested in your take on this mention of a Zechariah in the New Testament.
  • HedgehogHedgehog Shipmate
    Zechariah doubles down on the "seven eyes" reference in the next chapter, when it is clearly (well, as clear as Zechariah gets) that the Lord has seven eyes (all-seeing, all-knowing, omniscient). I suppose it could be that the stone had seven facets, which represent the seven eyes of the Lord.
  • There is slightly more theorizing around the seven spirits of God (link chosen because it is playful with the idea of the 7 spirits). What would intrigue me given the passage is if the attributes of the seven spirits might be the attributes on which the renewal is founded.
  • Gramps49Gramps49 Shipmate
    edited March 2019
    Isaiah 11:2-3 New International Version (NIV)
    2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on him—
    the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding,
    the Spirit of counsel and of might,
    the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the Lord—
    3 and he will delight in the fear of the Lord.

    He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes,
    or decide by what he hears with his ears;

    That's seven spirits.
  • Hedgehog wrote: »
    Zechariah doubles down on the "seven eyes" reference in the next chapter, when it is clearly (well, as clear as Zechariah gets) that the Lord has seven eyes (all-seeing, all-knowing, omniscient). I suppose it could be that the stone had seven facets, which represent the seven eyes of the Lord.

    Ha. I knew I asked this question in the right place! You all are awesome with your links and ideas.

    I do wish I'd had the sense to read the rest of Zechariah. It does look like the temple capstone or cornerstone, doesn't it? (anybody clear on what the inscription is? Must scurry off to finish reading Zechariah...)
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