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Bible Commentaries

Kingcomments on the Whole Bible

Zechariah 11

Verses 1-3

Introduction

This chapter is about the false shepherds, who were mentioned in the previous chapter (Zechariah 10:2-Leviticus :), as opposed to the true Shepherd of whom Zechariah is a type (Zechariah 11:4). In Zechariah 10 it is mainly about the flock, here it is about the shepherds. This chapter describes the first coming of the Lord Jesus and how the people as a whole rejected Him.

Zechariah 11:1-Leviticus : describe the judgment on the false shepherds, which is announced in Zechariah 11:6; Zechariah 11:9. The chapter culminates in the one false shepherd, the antichrist in Zechariah 11:17. The false shepherds gradually come to power after the return from Babylon and are clearly in power when the Lord Jesus is on earth. The judgment on them takes place in 70 AD.

Judgment on the False Shepherds

Lebanon has been constantly prey to invasions from the north (Zechariah 11:1). But the land will experience an even more terrible invasion. However reluctant it may be to open its doors to the king of the north in the future, they will not be able to stop his march towards Israel. God is bringing him to His land because of the “ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION” that was erected in the temple (Matthew 24:15-Song of Solomon :). Cedars are a picture of dignitaries.

The different types of trees mentioned (Zechariah 11:2) represent people. They are called to express their feelings of sorrow. By “cypress” are meant the rich. The “cedars” and the “oaks of Bashan” are the strong, the rulers and men with authority (Isaiah 2:13). “The impenetrable forest” stands for the mass of the common people. The latter will no longer groan under the yoke of ‘cypress’ and ‘oak’. Cedars of Lebanon and oaks of Bashan are symbolic descriptions for the false shepherds.

The first part of Zechariah 11:3 drops the symbolism and speaks about the persons, the shepherds. They see themselves as the “glory” of the land. The “young lions” are the princes, the rulers who behaved cruelly. Of the “pride of the Jordan” (cf. Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44) nothing remains, for it is destroyed (Jeremiah 25:34-Zechariah :). This was done by the Romans, who established themselves as a power in Israel.

Verses 4-5

The Flock Doomed to Slaughter

After the judgment in Zechariah 11:1-Leviticus : the reason for this judgment comes in the following verses. That reason is that they have rejected their Messiah. Zechariah speaks of “the LORD my God” (Zechariah 11:4), which is especially fitting for the Messiah. This makes Zechariah the type of the Messiah. The prophet receives a command from God as a type of the Messiah. The Lord Jesus receives the command of His Father to pasture the sheep (John 10:1-Numbers :; John 10:7John 10:9; John 10:11John 10:14-Job :).

The sheep are called “flock [doomed] to slaughter” because they were destined for this purpose by the Romans (cf. Psalms 44:22). This also applies to us (Romans 8:36).

In Zechariah 11:5 the people are still seen as a whole, the people the Lord Jesus comes to and sees as sheep who have no shepherd (Matthew 9:36). There are three groups in the people: “buyers”, “sellers” and “shepherds”.

1. The buyers are the new owners of Israel, the Romans, who slaughtered the sheep without any feeling of guilt. This was mainly done by the Roman general Titus during and after the destruction of Jerusalem. Flavius Josephus speaks of 1.5 million victims who died in the battle with the Romans.
2. The sellers delivered the people to the Romans. That is especially Herod. False leaders make merchandise from God’s people, from the souls of men. Also the Pharisees and scribes are among the sellers, they did not spare the people either. They ate the houses of widows and enriched themselves with the gifts of God’s people.
3. The shepherds are the leaders of the people. They exploited God’s people.

The people are in bad shape. It has bad civil governments and bad religious leaders (Jeremiah 50:6).

Verse 6

God Judges His Apostate People

God surrenders His people, the unbelieving masses, into the hands of others (Zechariah 11:6). The judgment is carried out by “his king”, which is the Roman emperor. So they also said to Pilate: “We have no king but Caesar” (John 19:15). A preliminary fulfillment of this judgment took place in the year 70 AD. The Romans did not spare the land then, but ruined it. God did not intervene for His people and did not save them from the hand of the Romans. The final judgment will be exercised in the future. In the future, the restored Roman empire will give its power to the false king of the people, the antichrist.

Verse 7

The LORD Himself Pastures the Sheep

In this verse Zechariah speaks in the I-form and is a type of the Lord Jesus. Here again the sheep are called “the flock [doomed] to slaughter”. The judgment on the sheep is fixed. Yet the shepherd is ordered to pasture them. This is how the Lord Jesus comes to His people, a people about whom the judgment is fixed, to take care of those sheep that are taken away from judgment.

Among the flock of the people of Israel are sheep whom He knows by name. “The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out” (John 10:3). He calls them out of the stable of Israel, while the other sheep remain in the fold, that is the people of Israel.

The Messiah, although He knows the outcome, carries out God’s command during His life on earth. He pastures the real sheep of the flock. Not all of Israel is automatically His flock, although He has come for all as a Shepherd (Matthew 9:36).

The “afflicted of the flock” are the poor in spirit, the penitent (Zephaniah 3:12). They are deeply bowed down in spirit, contrite by their own sins, without any defense. There is no more spirit power. They are the remnant in the midst of the flock doomed to slaughter. We recognize them in the days of John the baptist in those who come to him to be baptized while confessing of their sins. We also see them in Joseph and Mary, Zechariah and Elisabeth, Simeon and Anna (Luke 1-2).

This Shepherd doesn’t have just one staff, He has two staffs. In both staffs one can see the purpose of the pasturing. The first staff expresses what God sees in Israel, the attractiveness of the people to Him. The second relates to the relationships of the people, the unity of the people. Thus He has pastured the flock and provided them with food.

Verses 8-9

Three Shepherds and the Mass Annihilated

The three shepherds of Zechariah 11:8 are the spiritual leaders of whom the Lord Jesus reveals the depraved character at the end of His life on earth. We recognize them in the Pharisees and Herodians, the Sadducees and a lawyer (Matthew 22:15-Nehemiah :; Matthew 22:23Matthew 22:34-Habakkuk :). He has lost His patience with them and in holy anger he pronounces the “woe” over them (Matthew 23:13; Matthew 23:15Matthew 23:16; Matthew 23:23Matthew 23:25; Matthew 23:27Matthew 23:29). They have shown more and more their aversion to Him and this in spite of His perfection as a Shepherd, a task He performs without failure. As a result, He also has an aversion to them (cf. Isaiah 1:13-2 Chronicles :).

Zechariah 11:9 is the result of that in turn. His reluctance to pasture them any longer does not apply to the afflicted, but to the herd of the great mass of the people who do not want to listen. They do not know His voice. Only those who know His voice, the afflicted, He leads out. God surrenders to judgment those who stay in the fold.

God speaks of a triple disaster.
1. “What is to die, let it die” refers to the deadly plague that makes its victims.
2. Through war the people will be “annihilated”.
3. Those who are left will “eat one another’s flesh” in the greatest selfishness in their urge to stay alive. They will even literally eat each other (cf. Galatians 5:15) and thus annihilate one another.

This is the result because they reject the Shepherd and the Shepherd leaves them to themselves.

Verses 10-11

The Staff Favor Cut in Pieces

The breaking of the staff Favor marks the end of God’s relationship of love with Israel. Since the rejection of the Lord Jesus, He can no longer favor the people, with the result that the blessing for the peoples has also been postponed. God also has a covenant with the nations in His heart (Isaiah 56:6-Judges :).

The Lord Jesus had come “to confirm the promises [given] to the fathers and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy” (Romans 15:8-1 Samuel :). If Israel had accepted Him, this verse would have been fulfilled for the nations. Then the realm of peace would have come and there would be harmony between the nations.

Now the salvation has gone to all nations to form out of the nations a people for His Name, that is the church (Acts 13:47-Galatians :). In the Old Testament the church is a mystery. However, the promise has not been broken, only postponed. And postponement is not abandonment with God. That is what Zechariah 14 shows.

When God acts according to His Word, that is always a confirmation for the remnant. That is why paying attention to Him is paying attention to the Word. Through the cross, the rejection of the Messiah, the whole picture, the whole course of history, of Israel has changed. The afflicted have been taught that the Lord Jesus had to suffer and enter into His glory, as the Lord explains to them from Scripture (Luke 24:26-Daniel :).

Verses 12-13

What the Shepherd Is Worth to the People

Here the prophet speaks again, where we hear the Lord Jesus speaking behind him. Here Christ asks the people what He is worth. He does not force them to answer, but they do answer. The answer should be that He is everything to them, that they owe their lives and all their livelihood to Him. But the answer they give speaks of deep contempt.

Judas Iscariot asks the question of the value of the Lord Jesus to the leaders of the people: “What are you willing to give me …? (Matthew 26:15). God uses Judas to ask this question. In this way God brings them to a valuation of His Son. The people, through their leaders, do not estimate Him higher than the price of a (dead) slave (Exodus 21:32). “And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him” (Matthew 26:15).

The appreciation for Who the Lord Jesus is, is becoming less and less in Christianity. One doubts, or even openly denies, His omnipotence, His virgin birth, His work of reconciliation, His resurrection and even His existence. Also now, the question sounds in Christianity, in which we also find, on the one hand, the afflicted who pay attention to Him and God’s Word and, on the other hand, the mass of confessors: ‘What am I worth, what is your appreciation of My service?’ We have to answer this question personally.

In Zechariah 11:13 the LORD is going to speak. The LORD says here of Himself that He has been valued by them at thirty shekels of silver. He speaks ironically of a “magnificent price”. Here we see that the Lord Jesus is the LORD, Yahweh, the God of Israel. He is the same as Jesus of Nazareth. He has taken that slave form (Philippians 2:7). He is considered worthy of that price, a despicable price (Exodus 21:32).

The LORD throws that prize from Himself. He has the money that is thrown by Judas in His house, thrown to the potter as a testimony of the disgust He has for it. Judas does this as an expression of his repentance for having surrendered his Master (Matthew 27:3-Deuteronomy :), but without confessing his terrible deed.

The elders and chief priests buy, after having conferred, for that money “the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day” (Matthew 27:7-Ruth :). The Potter’s Field is worthless for agriculture because of the potsherds the potter throws on it. In the destination of the money – the purchase of a burial place for strangers – we see the irony of God. The whole earth has become one big Field of Blood for Israel, a burial place for Israelites who are scattered around the world like strangers, wandering around there.

Verse 14

The Staff Union Cut in Pieces

When the Lord Jesus comes to His people, it is out of love for them and to make the broken people one again. But that love is rejected. Therefore, when He is sentenced to the cross, this staff is also broken. The bond of brotherhood between Judah and Israel is broken.

We see the same in Christianity. There is much division among Christians, because Christ is not valued and no attention is paid to Him and His Word any longer. The staff Union, i.e. the brotherhood, is lost when the staff Favor is broken and the Lord Jesus and His Word are no longer the binding center. The Shepherd turns it into one flock. When we no longer see Him, the flock is scattered. Then we are at each other’s mercy and eat each other (Zechariah 11:6; Zechariah 11:9).

Verses 15-17

The Judgment on the Antichrist

In Zechariah 11:15-Esther : we suddenly find ourselves in the end time. If Christ is not valued, the people will accept “a foolish shepherd”, the antichrist (John 5:43). They will value him. They will get someone who does nothing for them, but uses them to feast.

Zechariah must change clothes (Zechariah 11:15). He has to dress again as a shepherd (Zechariah 11:7). The equipment of the good shepherd is exchanged for that of a foolish shepherd, that is the antichrist, the false messiah (Daniel 11:36-Matthew :; Revelation 13:11-Job :). With this, Zechariah depicts that Israel forced the good Shepherd to lay down His work because of their sins.

After that, the people are not left to themselves, but will be surrendered by the LORD Himself into the hand of a foolish shepherd (Zechariah 11:16). In the place of the good shepherd comes a foolish shepherd. Foolish means someone who does not take God into account. “The fool has said in his heart, “There is no God”” (Psalms 14:1). This shepherd has no moral awareness, no moral standards. He tramples all God’s institutions underfoot.

He is the complete opposite of the good Shepherd and can be compared to thieves and robbers and the mercenary (John 10:8; John 10:10John 10:12). The thieves and robbers are overt opponents. They do their work secretly, but their intentions are clear. They are out “to steal and kill and destroy” the sheep (John 10:10). They feast upon the sheep and eat the flesh of the fat animals. He also mutilates them by tearing off their hooves so that they can no longer walk properly.

The mercenary seems to care about the herd and is only revealed when difficulties arise. Then it turns out that he does not care for the sheep. He abandons the sheep, he leaves them “and flees” (John 10:12). He has no concern for the sheep. If they are threatened, he does not look after them. He does not look for the young, inexperienced animals that are lost and cannot rejoin the flock on their own strength. If a sheep can’t go on because it has a broken leg, he won’t do anything that can cause healing. Everything a good shepherd does, he does not do.

The antichrist is truly a “worthless shepherd” (Zechariah 11:17). God pronounces the “woe” over him, because he “leaves the flock”. This “woe” is underlined by the judgment with which God will strike him. His arm and his eye are struck by the sword of judgment. His arm is the symbol of the power on which he is famous. His right eye is the symbol of his insight or intellect on which he has boasted. By the judgment, his arm will “be totally withered” and therefore become completely unusable (cf. 1 Kings 13:4). He will also lose all insight and intellect and go his way in darkness. At the same time this puts a great defamation on him (1 Samuel 11:2).

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Bibliographical Information
de Koning, Ger. Commentaar op Zechariah 11". "Kingcomments on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kng/zechariah-11.html. 'Stichting Titus' / 'Stichting Uitgeverij Daniƫl', Zwolle, Nederland. 2021.