Hope Within Darkness: Zechariah and the October 7 War

October 31, 2023

The loss of 1,400 innocent lives and the abduction of at least 239 others by Hamas terrorists on October 7th has left a profound mark on our collective consciousness. It is, indeed, one of the darkest days for the Jewish people since the Holocaust. Our hearts are heavy, and the pain runs deep.

In these moments of overwhelming sorrow and confusion, we often turn to ancient scriptures in order to find strength and direction. For many, the Book of Zechariah, particularly Chapter 9, offers not just comfort but perhaps an eerily prophetic insight into our contemporary situation.

The chapter contains a prophecy against several lands, including Hadrak, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, Sidon, and crucially for our context, Gaza. Zechariah prophesies about the ultimate downfall of these territories. These verses offer a ray of hope. They foresee an end to tyranny, a promise of liberation for those unjustly imprisoned, and an assurance of divine watchfulness and intervention. Could it be that Zechariah was forecasting the scenario which is unfolding in our present day?

For the Jewish community, and indeed for the entire world, there are a number of verses in this chapter that resonate deeply in the aftermath of the October 7th incident. For example, “Kingship shall vanish from Gaza” (verse 5). Israel has said many times that the goal of this war is to destroy Hamas once and for all. We hope that this “kingship” will be removed from Gaza for good. Another verse that has deep significance is verse 11, “I will free your prisoners from the waterless pit.” We pray every day for the safe return of the hostages. Finally, Zechariah prophesies that “no oppressor shall ever overrun them again” (verse 8). We hope that this will be the last time that our people are oppressed, that never again will people think that Jewish blood is cheap and that we will finally be able to live in peace with our neighbors.

The possibility that Zechariah might have been referencing our time offers more than just a glimmer of hope; it presents a profound assurance of a brighter future ahead. If the prophecy is, indeed, related to our current situation, then the fall of Gaza’s oppressive regime and the return of the abducted are not only hoped-for outcomes but divinely ordained events waiting to unfold. And even if the current crisis is not the one described in these words of the prophet, these verses serve as a powerful reminder that darkness, however intense, is always followed by dawn. Even in the most challenging times, when hope seems lost, there’s an overarching divine plan that ensures justice, redemption, and restoration will eventually come.

As the world grapples with the aftermath of the October 7th tragedy, Zechariah’s prophecy offers a profound blend of solace and anticipation. Whether or not one views it as a divinely inspired forecast for our times, the message is clear: Hope endures, justice will prevail, and a brighter dawn awaits. For the children of Israel and all of humanity, let this be a period of reflection, healing, and a fervent belief in the promise of a better tomorrow.

May God watch over Israel, may he protect the IDF soldiers as they battle against evil and grant them success and victory, and may He bring the hostages home quickly.

The Israel Bible Team


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By: Rabbi Elie Mischel


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