Iain M. Duguid on Joshua the High Priest

In his commentary Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi in the EP Study Commentary Series, Iain M. Duguid has a nice treatment of the well known passage in Zech 3.1-10 where Joshua, the high priest, is shown standing before the angel of the Lord being accused by Satan.  In this text, rather than being cast away for his defilement, Joshua is stripped of his excrement soiled garments and clothed in fresh attire.  Duguid begins his exposition noting eschatological implications of this text:

Joshua and Zerubbabel had already become active participants in the rebuilding work on the temple initiated by Haggai (Hag. 1:14), but Zechariah shows us the broader significance of their existence as signs of the greater things yet to come. (pg. 96)

An especially helpful explanatory note comes regarding Satan/The Accuser.  Of course the name Satan is simply a nominal form of the verb “to accuse” (sintetnun), but Duguid provides a nice note about the development of the personified accuser/Satan figure in the OT:

Although this enemy of God’s people has been active from earliest times in the Garden of Eden, his identity as ‘the accuser’ – which is literally what ‘Satan’ means – became more prominent as history unfolded.  In the Old Testament he appears under this title seeking to lead God’s people astray and then making charges against them in the context of the heavenly court (Job 1-2; 1 Chr. 21:1).  This depiction may have received added weight after the exile from the well-developed spying system employed by the Mesopotamian authorities in the Neo-Babylonian period.  (pg. 97)

While I think Duguid draws attention nicely to the diachronic development of the Satan figure in the OT, I’ll have to think more about his attribution of this development specifically to the Neo-Babylonian military.  (This would involve also reading Oppenheim’s 1968 article in JAOS which  he cites.)  More factors are likely at work in the development of the Accuser/Satan.

In his application section, however, Duguid’s pastoral aim shines through:

Like Joshua the high priest, we too are unfit to appear before God.  We have all gone astray and deserve nothing other than the wages of sin.  We need nothing less than total cleansing if we are to live, a cleansing that is far more than us trying to turn over a new leaf.  Yet because of God’s sovereign choice to save for himself a people, burning sticks like us will not be consumed by the fire.  By his grace, God takes us and justifies us, reclothing us in borrowed robes of righteousness that enable us to approach the throne of grace.  Since our justification is all of grace, through the merit of Christ, there can be no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:2).  Satan’s charges against God’s saints are all ruled out of order, inadmissible in the divine courtroom. (pg. 102)

Comforting words indeed, and words rooted strongly in Reformed systematics, noting that our salvation is by God’s “sovereign choice,” accomplished by an alien (“borrowed”) righteousness secured for us by “the merit of Christ.”

This really is a jewel of a volume!


3 Replies to “Iain M. Duguid on Joshua the High Priest”

  1. I thought I saw a remark on here about Hywel Jones on Job in this same series. My library doesn’t have a copy and I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.


    1. If I can answer (Andrew will probably answer better!), I have the Job volume right behind me here in my study, but I’ve not read all of it. What I have read is great, and a friend of mine who has read most of it says it is one of his favorites on Job.

      Hope that helps a bit!



    2. I too have Jones’ commentary on Job, though I haven’t read more than 5 or so pages yet. I’ve been itching to read it, but I’m afraid it’ll have to wait until I get around to preaching or teaching on the book! Sorry about that!


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