The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 3 OF 6

And What it Means to Our World Today—Right Now!

By Dr. Richard Booker


“Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of drunkenness to all the surrounding peoples, when they lay siege against Judah and Jerusalem. And it shall happen in that day that I will make Jerusalem a very heavy stone for all peoples; all who would heave it away will surely be cut in pieces, though all nations of the earth are gathered against it” (Zechariah 12:2-3).

The Threshold Blood Covenant

In order to show devotion to their god, people would dedicate their dwellings to the deity they worshiped. They did this by making a blood covenant sacrifice at the threshold entrance to their house, at the threshold entrance to their cities (the city gates around the city) and at the threshold borders of their country. They would then call upon their god to protect their property and provide for their needs. The blood-stained threshold was a reminder they were in a sacred covenant with their god.

Since the borders and boundaries served as the threshold to the national borders, people would set up landmarks in the form of boundary stones or plant trees and dedicate the boundary markers to their gods. When the people went in and out of their territory, they would make a sacrifice to their god at the borders asking for protection when crossing into the territory of a different deity. They would do the same when crossing back into their territory. Because boundaries and borders were a place of worship, they were considered sacred. To move a landmark was not only stealing property from your neighbor, more importantly it was diminishing the territorial domain of their god.

When making a blood covenant sacrifice, the parties would split the animal down the middle and divide the two bloody halves of the animal. Each half of the animal represented the people making the blood covenant. Since this was a sacred covenant, the parties making it would look down at the bloody half of the animal and say, “May our god cut us in pieces like this animal if we try to break the covenant.” The same curse was put on any enemy who attempted to cross the threshold (take your property, heave away the boundary markers, etc.) of the personal dwelling, the city gates or the national borders.

Since the blood-stained threshold was an altar, the people were careful not to step on it. They would leap over it as they entered their dwelling. This is the story of Passover in Exodus. Since the word Passover means “to leap,” Passover was originally referred to as the Threshold Covenant or the Crossing-Over Covenant. The prophet Zephaniah speaks about God judging those who would “leap over the threshold” with evil intentions of violence against the rightful owners of the property (Zephaniah 1:9).

Regardless of their evil intentions, the Word of the Lord is sure, “For surely I will shake My hand against them [the nations], and they shall become spoil for their servants. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent me. Sing and rejoice O daughter of Zion! For behold, I am coming and I will dwell in your midst says the LORD of hosts. Many nations shall be joined to the LORD in that day, and they shall become My people. And I will dwell in your midst. Then you will know that the LORD of hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD shall take possession of Judah and his inheritance in the Holy Land and will again choose Jerusalem” (Zechariah 2:9-12).

I will explain Jerusalem a Cup of Drunkenness in Part 4. Be looking for it.