Zechariah 1:18 - 21
NASB - 18 Then I lifted up my eyes and looked, and behold, there were four horns. 19 So I said to the angel who was speaking with me, "What are these?" And he answered me, "These are the horns which have scattered Judah, Israel and Jerusalem.
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As I understand these verses, the horns represent Gentile powers, or empires. See Daniel 7:24, Daniel 2:36-44, and Daniel 7:3-7. These powers have scattered the Jewish people. The carpenters, charash, is a carved or engraver. The Hebrew word is charad. Carpenter's can chip away, carve. These carpenters will diminish, or chip away the power of the powers that have overtaken Israel and her people. These could stand for Jehovah's "four sore judgements" in Ezekiel 14:21. The sword, famine, evil beasts, and pestilence; you might say the four horses of Revelation chapter 6. Anyway, I believe this to be a snapshot of the defeat of Israel's oppressors, and the restoration of Israel.
In my opinion, since the four horns have already come and gone according to this verse, they must represent the powers which defeated the Israelites and scattered them into captivity. For Judah it was Nebuchadnezzar. For Samaria, it was a more gradual process with Shalmaneser, Sennacherib, Tiglath-Pileser and Sargon, for instance, each contributing to the final carrying away of the people. The four carpenters represent 'builders of Israel" or more succinctly, simply "builders." Matt 21:42 refers to them along with other scriptures. The carpenters, or builders, are the great teachers and leaders of the Jews working to uphold and promote the Jewish culture in the midst of the surrounding Gentile empires and religions. They would include Ezra, Nehemiah, Zerubbabel, and Zechariah, for instance.
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