Your king will come to you riding on a donkey.Zechariah 9:9
This is an intriguing prophecy because donkeys are not usually associated with Kings, apart from carrying the goods or produce. The donkey was considered a lowly animal and ‘a beast of burden’, not fit for the transportation of kings and queens. In the history of the Ancient Near East (the larger area surrounding Israel and the early Cradle of Civilisation) donkeys don’t figure prominently. A king was transported on a white Arabian horse if he rode himself. But normally he travelled in a golden litter or in later times, a gold chariot or carriage. But certainly not on a donkey. An Ancient Near Eastern king on a donkey was never considered in any culture. It would have been disgraceful and humbling to a king. I could assign a probability ratio of 1:1,000,000 to the likelihood of an Ancient Near Eastern king riding on a donkey. It indeed would have been a true One in a Million chance. I haven’t come across any other reference to such an event in history. There was only one in all of Israel who fulfilled that prophecy. Jesus Christ of Nazareth.
Saul was found hiding among the donkeys but certainly not making his entrance on a donkey. If we look at Israel’s past kings we can count them all. That is no problem; there were 40 of them. Twenty who ruled Israel and twenty who ruled Judah, including one queen, Athaliah. Add Jesus to that mix and we have 41. So that gives us a figure of 1:41 which covers all of Israel/Judah’s rulers. Let’s take Athaliah out because she is not a king and we have 1:40. I would prefer that because it is a more rounded number.
I would also like to reduce that figure to a base of 10. You will see why at the end. Suffice to say it makes the maths easier. We have the figure for Israel of 1:40 and for the Ancient Near East of 1:1000. To calculate the odds on that happening for all the kings or rulers of the Ancient Near East we have to take into account all the Pharaohs of Egypt and the kings of all kingdoms of the Ancient Near East including Sumerian, Chaldean, Babylonian, Assyrian and Persian. All of the kings who ever reigned over the area of Mesopotamia across the time frame of the centuries Before Christ (Time BC) up to 7 AD (After Christ or Anno Domini). I am going to suggest that we assign a probability of 1:100 for the kings of Israel and its surrounding neighbours.
I personally believe it is a lot rarer than that but I don’t want anyone to criticise me for setting the figures too high. If anything I want to be as conservative as possible with the probabilities assigned.
Hence the probability I choose for the Zechariah prophecy “Your king will come to you riding on a donkey” is 1:100