Zechariah 1-6 contains eight visions God gave the prophet. When the Babylonian exiles returned from captivity, they returned to rebuild the city of Jerusalem and the temple of the Lord. That was in 539 B.C. Nineteen years have now passed and the temple is not yet built.
Both Haggai and Zechariah were instrumental in calling the people to rebuild the temple, but it did not happen without a good bit of opposition from the prevailing political powers. The visions of Zechariah were intended to convey peace and promise to the Jewish readers, but it was not all peace.
The sixth and seventh visions in chapter five proclaim there should be some character rebuilding among God’s people. The scroll flying across the land is huge, 30 feet long and fifteen feet wide – much like advertising you would expect to see trailing behind an airplane when folks advertised that way. To have such an advertisement – with “thievery” on one side and “liar” on the other would have been an embarrassment to Israel, but that would have been her condition. To rebuild the city, the temple, establish a priesthood and a government would be futile in a relationship with God if the moral fibre of society as a whole remained trashy. Wickedness needed to be put far from them – all the way back to Babylon.
The vision of the woman in the basket gives us some pause. Why is “wickedness” portrayed as a woman? Note that the name of the woman is “wickedness.” The word, “wickedness” in Hebrew is feminine, and that’s why there’s a woman in the basket rather than a man. Note that it is not a commentary against women in general. Women with “wind in their wings” carry wickedness away to the far country. In that scene, females are rescuers and reformers – a good thing.