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Bible Commentaries
Zechariah 13

The Expositor's Bible CommentaryThe Expositor's Bible Commentary


"ZECHARIAH" (9-14)

"Lo, thy King cometh to thee, vindicated and victorious, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, the foal of an ass."

"Up, Sword, against My Shepherd! Smite the Shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered!"

"And I will pour upon the house of David and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look to Him whom they have pierced, and they shall lament for Him, as with lamentation for an only son, and bitterly grieve for Him, as with grief for a first-born."


WE saw that the first eight chapters of the Book of Zechariah were, with the exception of a few verses, from the prophet himself. No one has ever doubted this. No one could doubt it: they are obviously from the years of the building of the Temple, 520-516 B.C. They hang together with a consistency exhibited by few other groups of chapters in the Old Testament.

But when we pass into chapter 9, we find ourselves in circumstances and an atmosphere altogether different. Israel is upon a new situation of history, and the words addressed to her breathe another spirit. There is not the faintest allusion to the building of the Temple-the subject from which all the first eight chapters depend. There is not a single certain reflection of the Persian period, under the shadow of which the first eight chapter were all evidently written. We have names of heathen powers mentioned which not only do not occur in the first eight chapters, but of which it is not possible to think that they had any interest whatever for Israel between 520 and 516: Damascus, Hadrach, Hamath, Assyria, Egypt, and Greece. The peace, and the love of peace, in which Zechariah wrote, has disappeared. Nearly everything breathes of war actual or imminent. The heathen are spoken of with a ferocity which finds few parallels in the Old Testament. There is a reveling in their blood of which the student of the authentic prophecies of Zechariah will at once perceive that gentle lover of peace could not have been capable. And one passage figures the imminence of a thorough judgment upon Jerusalem, very different from Zechariah’s outlook upon his people’s future from the eve of the completion of the Temple. It is not surprising, therefore, that one of the earliest efforts of Old Testament criticism should have been to prove another author than Zechariah for chaps, 9-14, of the book called by his name.

The very first attempt of this kind was made so far back as 1632 by the Cambridge theologian Joseph Mede, who was moved thereto by the desire to vindicate the correctness of St. Matthew’s ascription {Matthew 27:9} of "Zechariah" {Zechariah 11:13} to the prophet Jeremiah. Mede’s effort was developed by other English exegetes. Hammond assigned chapters 10-12, Bishop Kidder and William Whiston, the translator of Josephus, chapters 9-14 to Jeremiah. Archbishop Newcome divided them, and sought to prove that while chapters 9-11 must have been written before 721, or a century earlier than Jeremiah, because of the heathen powers they name, and the divisions between Judah and Israel, chapters 12-14, reflect the imminence of the Fall of Jerusalem. In 1784 Flugge offered independent proof that chapters 9-14 were by Jeremiah; and in 1814 Bertholdt suggested, that chapters 9-11 might be by Zechariah the contemporary of Isaiah, and on that account attached to the prophecies of his younger namesake. These opinions gave the trend to the main volume of criticism, which, till fifteen years ago, deemed "Zechariah" 9-14 to be pre-exilic. So Hitzig, who at first took the whole to be from one hand, but afterwards placed 12-14 by a different author under Manasseh. So Ewald, Bleek, Kuenen (at first), Samuel Davidson, Schrader, Duhm (in 1875), and more recently Konig and Orelli, who assign chapters 9-11 to the reign of Ahaz, but 12-14 to the eve of the Fall of Jerusalem, or even a little later.

Some critics, however, remained unmoved by the evidence offered for a pre-exilic date. They pointed out in particular that the geographical references were equally suitable to the centuries after the Exile. Damascus, Hadrach, and Hamath, {Zechariah 9:1} though politically obsolete by 720, entered history again with the campaigns of Alexander the Great in 332-331, and the establishment of the Seleucid kingdom in Northern Syria. Egypt and Assyria {Zechariah 10:10} were names used after the Exile for the kingdom of the Ptolemies, and for those powers which still threatened Israel from the north or Assyrian quarter Judah and Joseph or Ephraim, {Zechariah 9:10; Zechariah 9:13 etc.} were names still used after the Exile to express the whole of God’s Israel; and in chapters 9-14, they are presented, not divided as before 721, but united. None of the chapters give a hint of any king in Jerusalem; and all of them, while representing the great Exile of Judah as already begun, show a certain dependence in style and even in language upon Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah 40:1-31; Isaiah 41:1-29; Isaiah 42:1-25; Isaiah 43:1-28; Isaiah 44:1-28; Isaiah 45:1-25; Isaiah 46:1-13; Isaiah 47:1-15; Isaiah 48:1-22; Isaiah 49:1-26; Isaiah 50:1-11; Isaiah 51:1-23; Isaiah 52:1-15; Isaiah 53:1-12; Isaiah 54:1-17; Isaiah 55:1-13; Isaiah 56:1-12; Isaiah 57:1-21; Isaiah 58:1-14; Isaiah 59:1-21; Isaiah 60:1-22; Isaiah 61:1-11; Isaiah 62:1-12; Isaiah 63:1-19; Isaiah 64:1-12; Isaiah 65:1-25; Isaiah 66:1-24. Moreover, the language is post-exilic, sprinkled with Aramaisms and with other words and phrases used only, or mainly, by Hebrew writers from Jeremiah onwards.

But though many critics judged these grounds to be sufficient to prove the post-exilic origin of "Zechariah" 9-14, they differed as to the author and exact date of these chapters. Conservatives like Hengstenberg, Delitzsch, Keil, Kohler, and Pusey used the evidence to prove the authorship of Zechariah himself after 516, and interpreted the references to the Greek period as pure prediction. Pusey says that chapters 9-11 extend from the completion of the Temple and its deliverance during the invasion of Alexander, and from the victories of the Maccabees, to the rejection of the true shepherd and the curse upon the false; and chapters 11-12 "from a future repentance for the death of Christ to the final conversion of the Jews and Gentiles."

But on the same grounds Eichhorn saw in the chapters, not a prediction, but a reflection of the Greek period. He assigned chapters 9 and 10 to an author in the time of Alexander the Great; Zechariah 11:1-17 - Zechariah 13:6 he placed a little later, and brought down Zechariah 13:7. to the Maccabean period. Bottcher placed the whole in the wars of Ptolemy and Seleucus after Alexander’s death; and Vatke, who had at first selected a date in the reign of Artaxerxes Longhand, 464-425, finally decided for the Maccabean period, 170 ff.

In recent times the most thorough examination of the chapters has been that by Stade, and the conclusion he comes to is that chapters 9-14, are all from one author, who must have written during the early wars between the Ptolemies and Seleucids about 280 B.C., but employed, especially in chapters 9, 10, an earlier prophecy. A criticism and modification of Stade’s theory is given by Kuenen. He allows that the present form of chapters 9-14 must be of post-exilic origin: this is obvious from the mention of the Greeks as a world power; the description of a siege of Jerusalem by all the heathen; the way in which (Zechariah 9:11 f., but especially Zechariah 10:6-9) the captivity is presupposed, if not of all Israel, yet of Ephraim; the fact that the House of David are not represented as governing; and the thoroughly priestly character of all the chapters. But Kuenen holds that an ancient prophecy of the eighth century underlies chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, in which the several actual phrases of it survive; and that in their present form 12-14 are older than 9-11 and probably by a contemporary of Joel, about 400 B.C.

In the main Cheyne, Cornill, Wildeboer, and Staerk adhere to Stade’s conclusions. Cheyne proves the unity of the six chapters and their date before the Maccabean period. Staerk brings down Zechariah 11:4-17 and Zechariah 13:7-9 to 171 B.C. Wellhausen argues for the unity, and assigns it to the Maccabean times. Driver Judges 9:1-57; Judges 10:1-18; Judges 11:1-40, with its natural continuation, Zechariah 13:7-9, as not earlier than 333; and the rest of 12-14 as certainly post-exilic, and probably from 432-300. Rubinkam places Zechariah 9:1-10 in Alexander’s time, the rest in that of the Maccabees, but Zeydner all of it to the latter. Kirkpatrick, after showing the post-exilic character of all the chapters, favors assigning 9-11 to a different author from 12-14. Asserting that to the question of the exact date it is impossible to give a definite answer, he thinks that the whole may be with considerable probability assigned to the first sixty or seventy years of the Exile, and is therefore in its proper place between Zechariah and "Malachi." The reference to the sons of Javan he takes to be a gloss, probably added in Maccabean times.

It will be seen from this catalogue of conclusions that the prevailing trend of recent criticism has been to assign "Zechariah" 9-14 to post-exilic times, and to a different author from chapters 1-8; and that while a few critics maintain a date soon after the Return, the bulk are divided between the years following Alexander’s campaigns and the time of the Maccabean struggles.

There are, in fact, in recent years only two attempts to support the conservative position of Pusey and Hengstenberg that the whole book is a genuine work of Zechariah the son of Iddo. One of these is by C.H.H. Wright in his Bampton Lectures. The other is by George L. Robinson, now Professor at Toronto, in a reprint (1896) from the American Journal of Semitic Languages and Literatures, which offers a valuable history of the discussion of the whole question from the days of Mede, with a careful argument of all the evidence on both sides. The very original conclusion is reached that the chapters reflect the history of the years 518-516 B.C.

In discussing the question, for which our treatment of other prophets has left us too little space, we need not open that part of it which lies between a pre-exilic and a post-exilic date. Recent criticism of all schools and at both extremes has tended to establish the latter upon reasons which we have already stated, and for further details of which the student may be referred to Stade’s and Eckhardt’s investigations in the Zeitschrift fur A.T. Wissenschaft and to Kirkpatrick’s impartial summary. There remain the questions of the unity of chapters 9-14; their exact date or dates after the Exile, and as a consequence of this their relation to the authentic prophecies of Zechariah in chapters 1-8.

On the question of unity we take first chapters 9-11, to which must be added (as by most critics since Ewald) Zechariah 13:7-9, which has got out of its place as the natural continuation and conclusion of chapter 11.

Zechariah 9:1-8 predicts the overthrow of heathen neighbors of Israel, their possession by Jehovah and His safeguard of Jerusalem. Zechariah 9:9-12 follow with a prediction of the Messianic King as the Prince of Peace; but then come Zechariah 9:13-17, with no mention of the King, but Jehovah appears alone as the hero of His people against the Greeks, and there is indeed sufficiency of war and blood. Chapter 10 makes a new start: the people are warned to seek their blessings from Jehovah, and not from Teraphim and diviners, whom their false shepherds follow. Jehovah, visiting His flock, shall punish these, give proper rulers, make the people strong and gather in their exiles to fill Gilead and Lebanon. Chapter 11 opens with a burst of war on Lebanon and Bashan and the overthrow of the heathen (Zechariah 11:1-3), and follows with an allegory, in which the prophet first takes charge from Jehovah of the people as their shepherd, but is contemptuously treated by them (Zechariah 11:4-14), and then taking the guise of an evil shepherd represents what they must suffer from their next ruler (Zechariah 11:15-17). This tyrant, however, shall receive punishment, two-thirds of the nation shall be scattered, but the rest, further purified, shall be God’s own people (Zechariah 8:7-9).

In the course of this prophesying there is no conclusive proof of a double authorship. The only passage which offers strong evidence for this is chapter 9. The verses predicting the peaceful coming of Messiah (Zechariah 9:9-12) do not accord in spirit with those which follow predicting the appearance of Jehovah with war and great shedding of blood. Nor is the difference altogether explained, as Stade thinks, by the similar order of events in chapter 10, where Judah and Joseph are first represented as saved and brought back in Zechariah 10:6, and then we have the process of their redemption and return described in Zechariah 10:7 ff. Why did the same writer give statements of such very different temper as Zechariah 9:9-17? Or, if these be from different hands, why were they ever put together? Otherwise there is no reason for breaking up chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9. Rubinkam, who separates Zechariah 9:1-10 by a hundred and fifty years from the rest; Bleek, who divides 9 from 10; and Staerk, who separates 9-11:3 from the rest, have been answered by Robinson and others. On the ground of language, grammar, and syntax, Eckardt has fully proved that 9-11 are from the same author of a late date, who, however, may have occasionally followed earlier models and even introduced their very phrases.

More supporters have been found for a division of authorship between chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, and chapters 12-14. {less Zechariah 13:7-9} Chapter 12 opens with a title of its own. A strange element is introduced into the historical relation. Jerusalem is assaulted, not by the heathen only, but by Judah, who, however, turns on finding that Jehovah fights for Jerusalem, and is saved by Jehovah before Jerusalem in order that the latter may not boast over it. {Zechariah 12:1-9} A spirit of grace and supplication is poured upon the guilty city, a fountain opened for uncleanness, idols abolished, and the prophets, who are put on a level with them, abolished too, where they do not disown their profession. {Zechariah 12:10 - Zechariah 13:6} Another assault of the heathen on Jerusalem is described, half of the people being taken captive. Jehovah appears, and by a great earthquake saves the rest. The land is transformed. And then the prophet goes back to the defeat of the heathen assault on the city, in which Judah is again described as taking part; and the surviving heathen are converted, or, if they refuse to be, punished by the withholding of rain. Jerusalem is holy to the Lord (chapter 14). In all this there is more that differs from chapters 9-11, Zechariah 13:7-9, than the strange opposition of Judah and Jerusalem. Ephraim, or Joseph, is not mentioned nor any return of exiles, nor punishment of the shepherds, nor coming of the Messiah, the latter’s place being taken by Jehovah. But in answer to this we may remember that the Messiah, after being described in Zechariah 9:9-12, is immediately lost behind the warlike coming of Jehovah. Both sections speak of idolatry, and of the heathen, their punishment and conversion, and do so in the same apocalyptic style. Nor does the language of the two differ in any decisive fashion. On the contrary, as Eckardt and Kuiper have shown, the language is on the whole an argument for unity of authorship. There is, then, nothing conclusive against the position, which Stade so clearly laid down and strongly fortified, that chapters 9-14 are from the same hand, although, as he admits, this cannot be proved with absolute certainty. So also Cheyne: "With perhaps one or two exceptions, chapters 9-11 and 12-14 are so closely welded together that even analysis is impossible."

The next questions we have to decide are whether chapters 9-14 offer any evidence of being by Zechariah, the author of chapters 1-8, and if not to what other post-exilic date they may be assigned.

It must be admitted that in language and in style the two parts of the Book of Zechariah have features in common. But that these have been exaggerated by defenders of the unity there can be no doubt. We cannot infer anything from the fact that both parts contain specimens of clumsy diction, of the repetition of the same word, of phrases (not the same phrases) unused by other writers; or that each is lavish in vocatives; or that each is variable in his spelling. Resemblances of that kind they share with other books: some of them are due to the fact that both sections are post-exilic. On the other hand, as Eckardt has dearly shown, there exists a still greater number of differences between the two sections, both in language and in style. Not only do characteristic words occur in each which are not found in the other, not only do chapters 9-14 contain many more Aramaisms than chapters 1-8, and therefore symptoms of a later date; but both parts use the same words with more or less different meanings, and apply different terms to the same objects. There are also differences of grammar, of favorite formulas, and of other features of the phraseology, which, if there be any need, complete the proof of a distinction of dialect so great as to require to account for it distinction of authorship.

The same impression is sustained by the contrast of the historical circumstances reflected in each of the two sections. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23, were written during the building of the Temple. There is no echo of the latter in "Zechariah" 9-14. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23 picture the whole earth as at peace, which was true at least of all Syria; they portend no danger to Jerusalem from the heathen, but describe her peace and fruitful expansion in terms most suitable to the circumstances imposed upon her by the solid and clement policy of the earlier Persian kings. This is all changed in, "Zechariah" 9-14. The nations are restless; a siege of Jerusalem is imminent, and her salvation is to be assured only by much war and a terrible shedding of blood. We know exactly how Israel fared and felt in the early sections of the Persian period: her interests in the politics of the world, her feelings towards her governors and her whole attitude to the heathen were not at that time those which are reflected in "Zechariah" 9-14.

Nor is there any such resemblance between the religious principles of the two sections of the Book of Zechariah as could prove identity of origin. That both are spiritual, or that they have a similar expectation of the ultimate position of Israel in the history of the world, proves only that both were late offshoots from the same religious development, and worked upon the same ancient models. Within these outlines there are not a few divergences. Zechariah 1:1-21; Zechariah 2:1-13; Zechariah 3:1-10; Zechariah 4:1-14; Zechariah 5:1-11; Zechariah 6:1-15; Zechariah 7:1-14; Zechariah 8:1-23, were written before Ezra and Nehemiah had imposed the Levitical legislation upon Israel; but Eckardt has shown the dependence on the latter of "Zechariah" 9-14.

We may, therefore, adhere to Canon Driver’s assertion, that Zechariah in chapters 1-8 "uses a different phraseology, evinces different interests, and moves in a different circle of ideas from those which prevail in chapters 9-14. Criticism has indeed been justified in separating, by the vast and growing majority of its opinions, the two sections from each other. This was one of the earliest results which modern criticism achieved, and the latest researches have but established it on a firmer basis."

If, then, chapters 9-14 be not Zechariah’s, to what date may we assign them? We have already seen that they bear evidence of being upon the whole later than Zechariah, though they appear to contain fragments from an earlier period. Perhaps this is all we can with certainty affirm. Yet something more definite is at least probable. The mention of the Greeks, not as Joel mentions them about 400, the most distant nation to which Jewish slaves could be carried, but as the chief of the heathen powers, and a foe with whom the Jews are in touch and must soon cross swords, {Zechariah 9:13} appears to imply that the Syrian campaign of Alexander is happening or has happened, or even that the Greek kingdoms of Syria and Egypt are already contending for the possession of Palestine. With this agrees the mention of Damascus, Hadrach, and Hamath, the localities where the Seleucids had their chief seats. {Zechariah 9:1 f} In that case Asshur would signify the Seleucids and Egypt the Ptolemies: it is these, and not Greece itself, from whom the Jewish exiles have still to be redeemed. All this makes probable the date which Stade has proposed for the chapters, between 300 and 280 B.C. To bring them further down, to the time of the Maccabees, as some have tried to do, would not be impossible so far as the historical allusions are concerned; but had they been of so late a date as that, viz., 170 or 160, we may assert that they could not have found a place in the prophetic canon, which was closed by 200, but must have fallen along with Daniel into the Hagiographa.

The appearance of these prophecies at the close of the Book of Zechariah has been explained, not quite satisfactorily, as follows. With the Book of "Malachi" they formed originally three anonymous pieces, which because of their anonymity were set at the end of the Book of the Twelve. The first of them begins with the very peculiar construction "Massa’ Debar Jehovah," "oracle of the word of Jehovah," which, though partly belonging to the text, the editor read as a title, and attached as a title to each of the others. It occurs nowhere else. The Book of "Malachi" was too distinct in character to be attached to another book, and soon came to have the supposed name of its author added to its title. But the other two pieces fell, like all anonymous works, to the nearest Writing with an author’s name. Perhaps the attachment was hastened by the desire to make the round number of Twelve Prophets.


Whiston’s work is "An Essay towards restoring the True Text of the O.T. and for vindicating the Citations made thence in the N.T.," 1722, pp. 93 ff (not seen). Besides those mentioned (seen.) as supporting the unity of Zechariah there ought to be named De Wette, Umbreit, von Hoffmann, Ebrard, etc. Kuiper’s work is "Zachariah 9-14," Utrecht, 1894 (not seen). Nowack’s conclusions are: 9-11:3 date from the Greek period (we cannot date them more exactly, unless 9:8 refers to Ptolemy’s capture of Jerusalem in 320); 11, 13:7-9, are post-exilic; 12-13:6 long after Exile; 14 long after Exile, later than "Malachi."

Verses 1-6



Zechariah 12:8-14; Zechariah 13:1-6

Upon the deliverance of Jerusalem, by the help of the converted Judah, there follow four results, each introduced by the words that it happened "in that day". {Zechariah 12:8-9; Zechariah 13:1-2} First, the people of Jerusalem shall themselves be strengthened. Second, the hostile heathen shall be destroyed, but on the house of David and all Jerusalem the spirit of penitence shall be poured, and they will lament for the good shepherd whom they slew. Third, a fountain of sin and uncleanness shall be opened. Fourth, the idols, the unclean spirit, and prophecy, now so degraded, shall all be abolished. The connection of these oracles with the preceding is obvious, as well as with the oracle describing the murder of the good shepherd. {Zechariah 13:7-9} When we see ‘how this is presupposed by Zechariah 12:9 ff., we feel more than ever that its right place is between chapters 11 and 12. There are no historical allusions. But again the language gives evidence of a late date. And throughout the passage there is a repetition of formal phrases which recalls the Priestly Code and the general style of the post-exilic age. Notice that no king is mentioned, although there are several points at which, had he existed, he must have been introduced.

1. The first of the four effects of Jerusalem’s deliverance from the heathen is the promotion of her weaklings to the strength of her heroes, and of her heroes to divine rank. {Zechariah 12:8} In that day Jehovah will protect the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and the lame among them shall in that day be like David himself, and the house of David like God, like the Angel of Jehovah before them.

2. The second paragraph of this series very remarkably emphasizes that upon her deliverance Jerusalem shall not give way to rejoicing, but to penitent lamentation for the murder of him whom she has pierced-the good shepherd whom her people have rejected and slain. This is one of the few ethical strains which run through these apocalyptic chapters. It forms their highest interest for us. Jerusalem’s mourning is compared to that for "Hadad-Rimmon in the valley" or "plain of Megiddo." This is the classic "battlefield of the land," and the theatre upon which Apocalypse has placed the last contest between the hosts of God and the hosts of evil. In Israel’s history it had been the ground not only of triumph but of tears. The greatest tragedy of that history, the defeat and death of the righteous Josiah, took place there; {2 Chronicles 35:22 ff.} and since the earliest Jewish interpreters the "mourning of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo" has been referred to the mourning for Josiah. Jerome identifies Hadad-Rimmon with Rummani, a village on the plain still extant, close to Megiddo. But the lamentation for Josiah was at Jerusalem; and it cannot be proved that Hadad-Rimmon is a place-name. It may rather be the name of the object of the mourning, and as Hadad was a divine name among Phoenicians and Arameans, and Rimmon the pomegranate was a sacred tree, a number of critics have supposed this to be a title of Adonis, and the mourning like that excessive grief which Ezekiel tells us was yearly celebrated for Tammuz. {Ezekiel 8:14} This, however, is not fully proved. Observe, further, that while the reading Hadad-Rimmon is by no means past doubt, the sanguine blossoms and fruit of the pomegranate, "red-ripe at the heart," would naturally lead to its association with the slaughtered Adonis.

"And it shall come to pass in that day that I will seek to destroy all the nations who have come in upon Jerusalem. And I will pour upon the house of David and upon all the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and of supplication, and they shall look to whom they have pierced; and they shall lament for him, as with lamentation for an only son, and bitterly grieve for him, as with grief for a first-born In that day lamentation shall be as great in Jerusalem as the lamentation for Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo. And the land shall mourn, every family by itself: the family of the house of David by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Nathan by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of the house of Levi by itself, and their wives by themselves; the family of Shime’i by itself, and their wives by themselves; all the families who are left, every family by itself, and their wives by themselves."

3. The third result of Jerusalem’s deliverance from the heathen shall be the opening of a fountain of cleansing. This purging of her sin follows fitly upon her penitence just described.

"In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David, and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness." {Cf. Ezekiel 36:25; Ezekiel 47:1}

4. The fourth consequence is the removal of idolatry, of the unclean spirit, and of the degraded prophets from her midst. The last is especially remarkable: for it is not merely false prophets, as distinguished from true, who shall be removed; but prophecy in general. If is singular that in almost its latest passage the prophecy of Israel should return to the line of| its earliest representative, Amos, who refused to call himself prophet. As in his day, the prophets had become mere professional and mercenary oracle-mongers, abjured to the point of death by their own ashamed and wearied relatives.

"And it shall be in that day-oracle of Jehovah of Hosts-I will cut off the names of the idols from the land, and they shall not be remembered any more. And also the prophets and the unclean spirit will I expel from the land. And it shall come to pass, if any man prophesy again, then shall his father and mother who begat him say to him, Thou shalt not live, for thou speakest falsehood in the name of Jehovah; and his father and mother who begat him shall stab him for his prophesying. And it shall be in that day that the prophets shall be ashamed of their visions when they prophesy, and shall not wear the leather cloak in order to lie. And he will say, No prophet am I! A tiller of the ground I am, for the ground is my possession from my youth up. And they shall say to him, What are these wounds in thy hands? and he shall say, What I was wounded with in the house of my lovers!"

Verses 1-9


Chapters 9-14

FROM the number of conflicting opinions which prevail upon the subject, we have seen how impossible it is to decide upon a scheme of division for "Zechariah" 9-14. These chapters consist of a number of separate oracles, which their language and general conceptions lead us on the whole to believe were put together by one hand, and which, with the possible exception of some older fragments, reflect the troubled times in Palestine that followed on the invasion of Alexander the Great. But though the most of them are probably due to one date and possibly come from the same author, these oracles do not always exhibit a connection, and indeed sometimes show no relevance to each other. It will therefore be simplest to take them piece by piece, and; before giving the translation of each, to explain the difficulties in it and indicate the ruling ideas.

Verses 7-9



Zechariah 11:4-17; Zechariah 13:7-9

There follows now, in the rest of chapter 11, a longer oracle, to which Ewald and most critics after him have suitably attached Zechariah 13:7-9. This passage appears to rise from circumstances similar to those of the preceding and from the same circle of ideas. Jehovah’s people are His flock and have suffered. Their rulers are their shepherds; and the rulers of other peoples are their shepherds. A true shepherd is sought for Israel in place of the evil ones which have distressed them. The language shows traces of a late date. No historical allusion is obvious in the passage. The "buyers" and "sellers" of God’s sheep might reflect the Seleucids and Ptolemies between whom Israel were exchanged for many years, but probably mean their native leaders The "three shepherds cut off in a month" were interpreted by the supporters of the pre-exilic date of the chapters as Zechariah and Shallum, {2 Kings 15:8-13} and another whom these critics assume to have followed them to death, but of him the history has no trace. The supporters of a Maccabean date for the prophecy recall the quick succession of high priests before the Maccabean rising. The "one month" probably means nothing more than a very short time.

The allegory which our passage unfolds is given, like so many more in Hebrew prophecy, to the prophet himself to enact. It recalls the pictures in Jeremiah and Ezekiel of the overthrow of the false shepherds of Israel, and the appointment of a true shepherd. Jehovah commissions the prophet to become shepherd to His sheep that have been so cruelly abused by their guides and rulers. Like the shepherds of Palestine, the prophet took two staves to herd his flock He called one "Grace," the other "Union." In a month he cut off three shepherds-both "month" and "three" are probably formal terms. But he did not get on well with his charge They were willful and quarrelsome. So he broke his staff Grace, in token that his engagement was dissolved. The dealers of the sheep saw that he acted for God. He asked for his wage, if they cared to give it. They gave him thirty pieces of silver, the price of an injured slave, {Exodus 21:32} which by God’s command he cast into the treasury of the Temple, as if in token that it was God Himself whom they paid with so wretched a sum. And then, he broke his other staff, to signify that the brotherhood between Judah and Israel was broken. Then, to show the people that by their rejection of the good shepherd they must fall a prey to an evil one, the prophet assumed the character of the latter. But another judgment follows. In Zechariah 13:7-9 the good shepherd is smitten and the flock dispersed.

The spiritual principles which underlie this allegory are obvious. God’s own sheep, persecuted and helpless though they be, are yet obstinate, and their obstinacy not only renders God’s good will to them futile, but causes the death of the one man who could have done them good. The guilty sacrifice the innocent, but in this execute their own doom. That is a summary of the history of Israel. But had the writer of this allegory any special part of that history in view? Who were the "dealers of the flock?"

"Thus saith Jehovah my God: Shepherd the flock of slaughter, whose purchasers slaughter them impenitently, and whose sellers Say, Blessed be Jehovah, for I am rich!-and their shepherds do not spare them. [For I will no more spare the inhabitants of the land-oracle of Jehovah; but lo! I am about to give mankind over, each into the hand of his shepherd, and into the hand of his king; and they shall destroy the land, and I will not secure it from their hands.] And I shepherded the flock of slaughter for the sheep merchants, and I took to me two staves-the one I called Grace, and the other I called Union-and so I shepherded the sheep. And I destroyed the three shepherds in one month. Then was my soul vexed with them, and they on their part were displeased with me. And I said: I will not shepherd you: what is dead, let it die; and what is destroyed, let it be destroyed; and those that survive, let them devour one another’s flesh! And I took my staff Grace, and I brake it so as to annul my covenant which I made with all the peoples. And in that day it was annulled, and the dealers of the sheep, who watched me, knew that it was Jehovah’s word. And I said to them, If it be good in your sight, give me my wage, and if it be not good, let it go! And they weighed out my wage, thirty pieces of silver. Then said Jehovah to me, Throw it into the treasury (the precious wage at which I had been valued of them). So I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the House of Jehovah, to the treasury. And I brake my second staff, Union, so as to dissolve the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. And Jehovah said to me: Take again to thee the implements of a worthless shepherd: for lo! I am about to appoint a shepherd over the land; the destroyed he will not visit, the he will not seek out, the wounded he will not heal, he will not cherish, but he will devour the flesh of the fat."

"Woe to My worthless shepherd, that deserts the flock! The sword be upon his arm and his right eye! May his arm wither, and his right eye be blinded."

Upon this follows the section Zechariah 13:7-9, which develops the tragedy of the nation to its climax in the murder of the good shepherd.

"Up, Sword, against My shepherd and the man My compatriot-oracle of Jehovah of Hosts. Smite the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones. And it shall come to pass in all the land-oracle of Jehovah-that two-thirds shall be cut off in it, and perish, but a third shall be left in it. And I shall bring the third into the fire, and smelt it as men smelt silver and try it as men try gold. It shall call upon My Name, and I will answer it. And I will say, It is My people, and it will say, Jehovah my God!"

Bibliographical Information
Nicoll, William R. "Commentary on Zechariah 13". "The Expositor's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/teb/zechariah-13.html.
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