Central Portion of Adoration of the Lamb by van Eyck
Cathedral of Saint Bavon, Ghent, Belgium


An Exegetical Project Concerning Zechariah 13:1

by Allan L. Winger

For PCB Course Bi304: Prophetics II, Dr. Glenn R. Goss, Professor
March 31, 1995

I. Introduction

A. Format

First of all, the outline format has been chosen over the normal research paper format so that all the material needed can be adequately included.

B. Assignment

The paper is to be (at least) five (5) pages in length, not including the bibliography. One verse is to be chosen from one of the books taught in the course (Jeremiah, Lamentations, Ezekiel, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi). The verse is to be researched, using at least 12 sources, including periodicals, and the following is to be done:

    1. Using the NAS Bible, make a grammatical diagram of the verse.

    2. Study two principle words in the verse.

    3. Note the literary genre (form) of the verse.

    4. Fit the verse into its context.

    5. Research difficult terms, phrases, or concepts in the verse.

    6. Write out a clear interpretive statement of the verse.

    7. State how the verse can be applied to the student, personally.

C. The Purpose of the Choice and the Verse Chosen

This is the last formal paper that this student is required to write before finishing the undergraduate program in Bible Ministries. This fall he will be entering the graduate program in Biblical Studies. This student, plain and simple, loves to write and to share his writing with others. Therefore this paper is a bridge for this student between the undergraduate and the graduate way of doing things (the next writing project was chapter one of the Masters Thesis).

Each time this student is asked about his plans for the future and why he is studying at Philadelphia College of Bible, the answer has been the same: His purpose is to become a better husband and a better father, better than what he was before he came. Why be better? Well, as this student has learned is the overall purpose of man, it is to ultimately bring honor and glory to God the Father, by teaching God the Son, through listening to and following the leading of God the Holy Spirit.

This paper is therefore dedicated to this Triune God, Who has kept, and will continue to keep, this student (and his family) from, falling, until (and this is the verse chosen):

"In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and impurity" [Zechariah 13:1 NASB].

II. Grammatical Diagram of the Verse

It is remarkable sometimes how picturing a verse from the Bible can lead to a totally different perspective on what it is saying. For instance, because of grammatical rules in diagramming a sentence, the phrase "In that day" is raised up higher than the rest of the sentence. This tends to make one think that this phrase might just be the most important part of this verse.

From yet another perspective, this diagram could be seen as a picture of what it is actually talking about. It is an open fountain with four "streams of water" coming from it. Turn it on its side so that the four "streams" are pointing downward, and it could also be a picture of a "shower."

Funny how studies like this can help us to remember that God is not just the creator of big things like the heavens and the earth. He is also the creator of the "not so big" things like the English language, the rules that govern that language, and the sentences that are made by using it. Yes, this particular sentence was originally written in Hebrew, but God knew what would be done so that His Word would remain His Word throughout eternity.

III. Word Studies

The phrase "In that day" is very significant. It would seem that it should be in the word study part of this paper. But instead, it will be the main thrust in the discussion on context.

Word studies usually include the etymology (history of the word), the usage, and an "interpretive" summary.[01] This can become a very exhaustive (and lengthy) process. An attempt will be made for a less lengthy version. The words chosen are "fountain," "sin," and "impurity." Three were chosen, instead of the assigned two, because two of the words are so close in meaning. A Romanization of the words will also be used instead of the original Hebrew alphabet.

A. Fountain

The word "fountain" in this verse is the Hebrew word maqowr {maw-kore'} or maqor {maw-kore'} [Strong's number 4726]. It is derived from the primitive root word quwr {koor} [Strong's number 6979], which means to dig, cast out, destroy or break down. Maqowr is translated in the Authorized Version (AV) as: fountain (11 times), spring (3), wellspring (2), issue (1) and well (1): (18 total).[02]

Coppes has written that the word us usually used figuratively, but that that figurative use can be best comprehended against the great importance attached to water sources in Israel. As an example, God punishes nations by drying up their sources of water (Jer. 51:36). He further goes on to say that the major theological use of the word is in the phrase "fountain of life. [03] This phrase will be discussed more in the interpretation part of the paper.

B. Sin

The word "sin" in this verse is the Hebrew word chatta'ah {khat-taw-aw} or chatta’th {khat-tawth'} [Strong's number 2403]. It is derived from the primitive root word chata' {khaw-taw'} [Strong's number 2398], which means to miss, to bear loss, or to miss the mark. Chatta'ah is translated in the AV as: sin (182 times), sin offering (116), punishment (3), purification for sin (2), purifying (1), sinful (1), and sinner (1); (296 total). [04]

Livingston states that in the majority of cases chatta'ah denotes sin/s against man (1 Sam. 20: 1; Ps. 59:3), or against God, mainly in the historical and prophetical literature. Sin was understood in the ancient near eastern religions as a violation of the status quo in cultic, political, and social life. In Israel, sin was declared to be an extremely serious matter and could only be taken care of by a creative and gracious act of merciful forgiveness by God. Israel also knew that from that forgiveness came joy and new life. [05]

C. Impurity (Uncleanness in the AV)

The word "uncleanness" in this verse is the Hebrew word niddah {nid- daw'} [Strong's number 50791. It is derived from the primitive root word nadad {naw-dad'} [Strong's num ber 5074], which means to retreat, to flee away, or to be chased away. Niddah is translated in the AV as: separation (14 times), put apart (2), filthiness (2), flowers (2), far (1), set apart (1), menstrous (1), removed (1), unclean thing (1), unclean (1), uncleanness (1), menstrous woman (1), removed woman (1); (total 29).[06]

McComiskey states that this word is primarily used to describe the ritual uncleanness incurred by women during menstruation or childbirth. There were many Levitical laws associated with these two natural circumstances in a woman's life. It was also carried a step further and used metaphorically in many cases, especially in the prophets. The concept of the ritual impurity of the menstrual period was used by Ezekiel to describe the nature of Israel's sin (36:17). McComiskey goes on to say that the word is used in the technical expression "water of impurity," a purifying water used in the ceremony of cleansing from the defilement of death (Num. 19:19, 13, 20-21).[07]

IV. The Literary Genre (Form) of the Verse

It was interesting to note the different views that scholars had when the Bible is viewed primarily from a perspective as literature rather than the inerrant Word of God. Sprau stated that the first eight chapters of the book were the only ones really accredited to Zechariah and that chapters 9-11 and 12-14 were two separate "booklets" by anonymous authors that were added later.[08] But those scholars (including Sprau) who were consulted about the genre of Zechariah all agreed that chapter 13 as a whole is prose. [09]

It has also been stated that Zechariah is the Apocalypse of the Old Testament because it makes much use of figurative and symbolical language. [10] This argument for apocalyptic genre has been presented in depth by Hansen [11] and further developed by Bauchham. [12]

Therefore, concerning the genre of 13:1, it could be said that it is prophetic/apocalyptic prose and the word "fountain" is metaphorically symbolic.

V. The Context of the Verse

A. Purpose and Structure

The purpose of the prophecies of Zechariah (and Haggai) was to encourage the Israelites to rebuild the temple. It had been twenty years since their return from exile and the temple still remained in ruin. As previously stated, the book is in three parts. The first part (chap. 1-8) is a series of eight visions. The second part (chap. 9-11), if summarized, is a prophecy that speaks of the first coming of Christ. He will come to be their shepherd but they will reject him and Israel will again go through suffering. The third part of the book (chap. 12-14) is a prophecy, which if summarized, is about the second coming of Christ and the Millennial Kingdom. [13]

Feinberg has developed the structure of Zechariah into a perfectly cut diamond that shines bright in the past, present, and future of mankind. Chapters 9-14 in his outline are entitled "The Future of the World Powers, Israel, and the Kingdom of Messiah." Chapters 12-14 are entitled "The Second Burden" based on 12:1 which begins by saying, "The burden of the word of the Lord concerning Israel." The "first burden" is on the nations surrounding Israel in chapters 9-11. This outline is further broken down into four subsections for chapters 12-14. Chapter 12 is "Israel's Conflict and Deliverance," and the first six verses of chapter 13 is called "Israel Cleansed of Her Sin." [14]

The aforementioned two subsections are irrevocably linked together by the subject they speak of which is the second coming of Christ. Verse 10 of chapter 12 is especially powerful and needs to be repeated at this point:

"And I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on Me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him, like the bitter weeping over a first-born."

Is it not logical that once Israel has been brought to repentance by seeing Christ face to face, that God would provide a cleansing place for their sin? And do you not believe that because the fountain of cleansing is also Christ that Israel might also (finally) understand what Christ meant when He said "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" [Matt. 11:28]?

B. In That Day

The phrase "in that day" 'is used 88 times in the NASB. Most of the references are in Isaiah (40 total). The rest are primarily in the other Old Testament prophets. Six references are in the New Testament. They are all in the Gospels and all, without exception, are quotations of Christ. But in Zechariah, a book with only 14 chapters and a little over 200 verses, it is used eighteen times! [15]

In the beginning of this paper, when discussing grammatical structure, it was pointed out that it was obvious that this phrase was very important. As an Appendix A to this paper, all eighty-eight references for "in that day" have been listed. In Christian love, this student dares any other Christian to sit and read these verses one after the other. If you do not think you can read them all, at least read the ones from Zechariah and the Gospels. You will certainly be blessed.

What does the phrase mean? Without going into a whole lot of detail in this paper, most of them are speaking about the Second Coming of Christ.

VI. Research of Difficult Terms, Phrases, or Concepts in the Verse.

At an earlier point in this paper word studies were done on three words instead of two as assigned. One reason for this seemingly extra work was because two of the words (sin and impurity) were so closely related that they could have been treated as one word study. The second reason for studying both was because, if they are so closely related in meaning, why did Zechariah use both instead of just one?

To answer that question one needs to remember (for example) what is said in Revelation. Just before John writes about the new heaven and the new earth in chapter 21, he describes the following in chapter 20:

13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds.
14 And death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire.
15 And if anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

Why does John use "death and Hades" instead of just the word "hell?" Why are they kept separate? The answer is that death is the "hell" for the body and Hades is the "hell" for the soul.

Now look again at the meanings of the words sin and impurity. Sin refers to man's spiritual condition (his soul). Impurity refers to man's physical condition (his body). And the fountain cleanses both permanently, just like the lake of fire engulfs death and Hades permanently. Praise the Lord!

VII. An Interpretive Statement of the Verse.

This verse speaks of that time in God's history when Christ will victoriously come a second time. He will appear to the nation of Israel and with repentant hearts and minds, they will flock to Him, their Prophet, Priest and King. Words of compassion and forgiveness will flow from Him like a never ending spring of living water, and they will be cleansed from their spiritual guilt and their physical impurity forever.

VIII. A Personal Application

In 1771 the poet William Cowper wrote the words of what would later be musically arranged by Lowell Mason in 1830 as the traditional hymn entitled "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood." Cowper's inspiration for his words came from Zechariah 13:1. The first two stanzas of the original poem need to be repeated at this point:

    There is a fountain filled with blood
        Drawn from Immanuel's veins;
    And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
        Lose all their guilty stains.
    The dying thief rejoiced to see
        That fountain in his day;
    And there may I, though vile as he,
        Wash all my sins away.

A copy of that song has been included as Appendix B to this paper. All the words could be read or sung if the reader so desires.

How does Zechariah 13: 1 apply to this student personally? The Apostle Paul very clearly explains in the book of Galatians that we who have believed in Christ Jesus as our personal Savior have been adopted as sons of God. We who are called the Church belong to God just as much as His nation Israel. Because of this spiritual oneness with Christ, we will return with Him at His second coming. We who are His bride will return with Him to earth in victory! And in the context of this verse, this student believes that he will actually witness this event spoken of in Zechariah. And it may be much like the return of the Prodigal Son, this return of Israel to their rightful King. Isaiah wrote it best when he said:

In that day the Lord of hosts will become a beautiful crown and a glorious diadem to the remnant of His people;
For in that day every man will cast away his silver idols and his gold idols, which your hands have made as a sin.
Therefore My people shall know My name; therefore in that day I am the one who is speaking, 'Here I am.'
[Isa. 28:5; 31:7; 52:6]

Maranatha, Lord Jesus, Maranatha!



1. Robert A. Traina. Methodical Bible Study. Grand Rapids: Francis Asbury Press of Zondervan Publishing, 1952, 1980: pp. 245-250.
2. Logos Bible Study Software, Version 1.6. Logos Research Systems, 1992.
3. Leonard J. Coppes. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (TWOT). R. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr., Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Chicago: Moody Press, 1980: Vol.2, pp. 794-795 (entry 2004a).
4. Logos.
5. G. Herbert Livingston. (TWOT): Vol. 1, pp. 278-279 (entry 638e).
6. Logos.
7. Thomas E. McComiskey. (TWOT): Vol. 2, p. 555-556 (entry 1302a).
8. George Sprau. Literature In the Bible. New York: MacMillan, 1932: p. 190.
9. Also see: Paul S. Karleen. 7he Handbook to Bible Study. New York: Oxford University Press, 1987 and Ralph L. Smith. Word Biblical Commentary: Micah-Malachi. Waco:Word Books, 1984.
10. Charles L. Feinberg. God Remembers. Wheaton: Van Kampen Press, 1950: p. 3.
11. Paul D. Hansen. The Dawn of Apocalyptic. Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975.
12. Richard J. Bauckham. "The Rise of Apocalyptic." Themelios, Vol. 3, No. 2: pp. 10-23.
13. Steven Barabas. "Zechariah, Book of." The New International Dictionary of the Bible. J.D. Douglas & Merrill C. Tenney, eds. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1987.
14. God Remembers, p. xii.
15. Logos.

Additional Bibliography Researched

Barker, Kenneth L. "Zechariah." The Expositor's Bible Commentary. Frank F. Gaebelein, ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985.
Hupp, Alice Hyde. The Mechanics of the Sentence. New York: American Book Company, 1937,1948.
Kline, Meredith G. "The Structure of the Book of Zechariah." JETS 34/2, June 1991: pp. 179-193.
Lindsey, F. Duane. "Zechariah." The Bible Knowledge Commentary. John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, eds. Grand Rapids: Victor Books, 1985.    
Ryken, Leland. The Literature of the Bible. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1974.
Walvoord, John F. "Christ's Coming to Reign." Bibliotheca Sacra, April 1966: pp. 195-203.

Appendix A: Scriptural References For "In That Day"

Appendix B: "There Is A Fountain Filled With Blood" (hymn)

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