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No More Zealots in the House of the Lord

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A Note on the History of Interpretation of Zechariah 14:21

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Abstract The word כְּנַעֲנִי in Zech 14:21b (“there will no longer be a כְּנַעֲנִי in the house of the Lord of hosts”), has usually been interpreted either in an ethnic (“Canaanite”) or in a mercantile sense (“trader,” “merchant”), and it is possible that in its original context it was a double entendre. In later exegesis, the mercantile interpretation comes to predominate, but the ethnic sense is never completely eclipsed. The New Testament allusions to the Zecharian text reflect both interpretations. On the one hand, the Markan and Johannine Jesus utilizes the mercantile interpretation when he forbids the commerce in the Temple to continue (Mark 11:15-17; John 2:14-17). On the other hand, Mark also seems to reflect the ethnic interpretation, at least indirectly, since he seems to be responding to revolutionaries who used it to justify their ethnic cleansing and military occupation of the Temple. But Mark, for his own part, may have employed the sort of punning exegesis common in ancient Judaism to interpret Zech 14:21b as a prophecy of the eschatological expulsion of these revolutionaries from their Temple headquarters: on that day, there will no longer be קַנְאָנִין (“Zealots”) in the house of the Lord of Hosts.

Affiliations: 1: Durham, NC


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