The Cultural Context of Zechariah 12:2-3 PART 4 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).

Jerusalem – A Cup of Drunkenness

Zechariah writes that God will make Jerusalem a “Cup of Drunkenness.” What did he mean by this? Without the cultural understanding, we miss the profound meaning and true nature of his statement. Let me explain with a brief word study.

There are two Hebrew words translated into English as threshold. One Hebrew word is caph or saph (pronounced as saf). The word means a boundary, a boundary line, or land mark which is designated by a container holding blood. For example, when a person dedicated his house to his god, he cut a hole or groove in the threshold entrance to his house where he poured the blood from the sacrifice. Long before man built temples to his god, the threshold entrance to his house was his primitive altar to the god he worshiped. They did the same at the city gates and at the national borders of their territory.

In the Bible, saph is normally translated as “threshold” but because saph includes a container for holding blood, the word is translated into English as basin in Exodus 12:22 and as cup in Zechariah 12:2. When we read the word basin or cup we think of a bowl or a literal cup. Zechariah’s readers understood it differently. They knew he was talking about a threshold blood covenant marker defining the territory or land that belonged to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This is the land and city God promised to their descendants as an everlasting covenant possession. That threshold is Jerusalem.

So the phrase “Cup of Drunkenness” literally means that Jerusalem is God’s Threshold of Judgment. It is His domain which He gave to the Jewish people and anyone who crosses the threshold of Jerusalem (tries to conquer or divide it) is invading His territory.

The God of Israel will defend Jerusalem and He will see that the Temple is rebuilt no matter the opposition. It will happen so be looking for it. Here are His words,

“I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry, and they helped—but with evil intent. Therefore thus says the LORD, ‘I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house [the Temple] shall be built in it,’ says, the LORD of hosts, ‘and a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.’ Again proclaim, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: My cities shall again spread out through prosperity; the LORD will again comfort Zion, and will again choose Jerusalem’” (Zechariah 1:14-17).

Something to ponder in light of these words by Zechariah regarding the Temple. You may know that Yehuda Glick is an ardent proponent of rebuilding the Temple. He also is very embracing of Christian lovers of Israel and is a member of the Knesset Christian Allies Congress. He also made history be attending the Trump inauguration. How is it possible that Yehuda Glick miraculously survived an assassination attempt with five bullets in him to recover and be elected to the Knesset? Is this a coincidence or a God-incident? I think I know the answer, how about you?

I will explain Jerusalem a Very Heavy Stone in Part 5.

Be looking for it.