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Bible Commentaries

Layman's Bible Commentary

Zechariah 10

Verses 1-2

The Lord of the Weather (10:1-2)

In a brief fragment is found a command to ask the Lord for the rains of March and April. Apparently arising in a time of internal political uncertainty — when the people "are afflicted for want of a shepherd" — this directive is to be understood against the background of superstitious consultations of diviners and dreamers and the offering of prayers to the household divinities known as teraphim, such as are mentioned in Genesis 31:30-35 and 1 Samuel 19:13-16. Regardless of the leadership in the community, it is only the Lord who "gives men showers of rain."

Verse 3

The Future of God’s Flock (10:3-11:3)

The reference to the lack of a shepherd leads to a denunciation against "the shepherds" of God’s flock and then to a comforting declaration regarding the future of the two divisions of the Hebrew people.

The shepherds of verse 3 are evidently the leaders of the nations that have oppressed the Jews, probably the Ptolemaic successors of Alexander the Great, in view of the connection with other apparent references to this period. God expresses his concern for his people as opposed to the leaders, who may be presumed, therefore, to represent foreigners. These leaders will feel the fierce anger of the Lord, while he will enable his own people to "confound the riders on horses." The weapons with which God’s people will defend themselves are the weapons of unequipped civilians: the cornerstone pulled from the wall in the emergency of battle and hurled upon the head of a luckless attacker, the tent peg (as used by Jael in Judges 5:26), and the trampling feet of a street mob.

Both houses of the Chosen People, the exiles of the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms (here described as "the house of Joseph" and "the house of Judah" respectively), will be brought back in triumph from the nations to which they have been scattered (Egypt and Assyria are specifically mentioned but not Babylon). They will be gathered to the rich lands of Gilead and Lebanon as well as to the central highlands of Judah and the hills of Samaria. There will not be room for them in the whole of the Promised Land. A new crossing of the sea or of the Nile will take place, and the people will be strong in the Lord. It is not specifically said that the two kingdoms will be reunited under one ruler, but only that the people will be many and that Ephraim "shall become like a mighty warrior."

The closing verses of the poetic oracle (Zechariah 11:1-3) turn in figurative language to the neighboring areas of Lebanon and Bashan, just mentioned as the principal areas to be populated by returning Israelites, and include a reference to the heavily wooded area surrounding the Jordan. But the emphasis in this section is not on the inhabiting of these areas; instead it is on the trees of each area that will be destroyed. The opposition to God’s flock — designated here as the forests of Bashan and Lebanon and of the Jordan Valley, which were dangerous to flocks because of wild animals within them — will be destroyed in the areas which will be settled by the returning exiles. Unfriendly shepherds, lurking in these forests to prey on the flock of God, will wail because their refuge is destroyed. Thus in highly figurative language the poet-prophet offers a basis for hope to the scattered Jews of the postexilic dispersion, as he sketches a land secure from the violence and greed of robbers, whether these are robber nations or bands of outlaws lurking in the forests. The goal of such security for the whole world continues to be the hope of men nourished in the tradition of human government under a righteous God.

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Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on Zechariah 10". "Layman's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lbc/zechariah-10.html.