Hypocritical Fasting Condemned
1In the fourth year of King Dari'us, the word of the Lord came to Zechari'ah on the fourth day of the ninth month, which is Chislev. 2Now the people of Bethel had sent Share'zer and Reg'em-mel'ech and their men, to entreat the favor of the Lord, 3and to ask the priests of the house of the Lord of hosts and the prophets, "Should I mourn and fast in the fifth month, as I have done for so many years?" 4Then the word of the Lord of hosts came to me: 5"Say to all the people of the land and the priests, When you fasted and mourned in the fifth month and in the seventh, for these seventy years, was it for me that you fasted? 6And when you eat and when you drink, do you not eat for yourselves and drink for yourselves? 7When Jerusalem was inhabited and in prosperity, with her cities round about her, and the South and the lowland were inhabited, were not these the words which the Lord proclaimed by the former prophets?"
Punishment for Rejecting God's Demands
8And the word of the Lord came to Zechari'ah, saying, 9"Thus says the Lord of hosts, Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy each to his brother, 10do not oppress the widow, the fatherless, the sojourner, or the poor; and let none of you devise evil against his brother in your heart." 11But they refused to hearken, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears that they might not hear. 12They made their hearts like adamant lest they should hear the law and the words which the Lord of hosts had sent by his Spirit through the former prophets. Therefore great wrath came from the Lord of hosts. 13"As I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear," says the Lord of hosts, 14"and I scattered them with a whirlwind among all the nations which they had not known. Thus the land they left was desolate, so that no one went to and fro, and the pleasant land was made desolate."