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Bible Commentaries

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged
Zechariah 11

 

 

Verse 1

Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Open thy doors, O Lebanon - i:e., the temple, so called, as being constructed of cedars of Lebanon, or as being lofty and conspicuous, like that mountain (cf. Ezekiel 17:3; Habakkuk 2:17). Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the tract called 'Massecheth Joma' states, its doors of their own accord opened, and Rabbi Johanan, in alarm, said, I know that thy desolation is impending, according to Zechariah's prophecy. Calvin supposes Lebanon to refer to Judea, described by its north boundary: "Lebanon," the route by which the Romans, according to Josephus, gradually advanced toward Jerusalem. Moore, from Hengstenberg, refers the passage to the civil war which caused the calling in of the Romans, who, like a storm sweeping through the land from Lebanon, deprived Judea of its independence. Thus the passage forms a fit introduction to the prediction as to Messiah, born when Judea became a Roman province. But the weight of authority is for the former view.


Verse 2

Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.

Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen. If even the cedars (the highest in the state) are not spared, how much less the fir trees (the lowest)!

Howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down - as the vines are stripped of their grapes in the vintage, so the forest of Lebanon "is come down," stripped of all its beauty (Joel 3:13; Revelation 14:2-18

. Rather [ya`ar habaatsuwr], 'the fortified' or 'inaccessible forest' (Maurer) - i:e., Jerusalem, dense with houses as a thick forest is with trees, and 'fortified' with a lofty wall round. Compare Micah 3:12, where its desolate state is described as a forest.


Verse 3

There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.

There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds - "the shepherds" are the Jewish rulers.

For their glory is spoiled - their wealth and magnificence; or that of the temple, which was regarded by the Jews as preeminently "their glory" (Mark 13:1; Luke 21:5).

A voice of the roaring of young lions. The princes are so described on account of their cruel rapacity.

For the pride of Jordan is spoiled - i:e., its thickly wooded banks, the lair of "lions" (Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 49:19). Figurative language for Judea is "spoiled" of the magnificence of its rulers ("the young lions"). The valley of the Jordan forms a deeper gash than any on the earth. The land at Lake Merom is on a level with the Mediterranean Sea; at the Sea of Tiberias it falls 650 feet below that level, and to double that depression at the Dead Sea - i:e., in all, 1,950 feet below the Mediterranean: in 20 miles' interval there is a fall of from 3,000 to 4,000 feet.


Verse 4

Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;

Thus saith the Lord my God. The commission is here given by the Father to the Son, "Feed the flock." The prophet here proceeds to show the cause of the destruction just foretold-namely, the rejection of Messiah.

Feed the flock of the slaughter - "the flock of the slaughter" is God's people doomed to slaughter by the Romans. Compare Psalms 44:22, "We are counted as sheep for the slaughter." Zechariah here represents, in his own person, typically, Messiah, and performs in vision the actions enjoined: hence, the language is in part appropriate to him, but mainly to the antitype, Messiah. A million and a half people perished in the Jewish war, and 1,100,000 souls at the fall of Jerusalem. "Feed" implies that the Jews could not plead ignorance of God's will to execute their sin. Zechariah and the other prophets had, by God's appointment, "fed" them (Acts 20:28) with the Word of God, teaching and warning them to escape from coming wrath by repentance: the type of Messiah the chief shepherd, who receives the commission of the Father, with whom He is one (Zechariah 11:4, "Feed the flock of the slaughter;") and says Himself, in accordance with His commission (Zechariah 11:7), "I will feed the flock of slaughter." Zechariah did not live to "feed" literally the "flock of slaughter;" Messiah alone "fed" those who, because of their rejection of Him, were condemned to slaughter. Yahweh-Messiah is the real speaker. It is He who threatens to inflict the punishments (Zechariah 11:6; Zechariah 11:8). The typical breaking of the staff, performed in vision by Zechariah (Zechariah 11:10), is fulfilled in His breaking the covenant with Judah. It is He who was sold for 30 pieces of silver, the price cast unto the potter (Zechariah 11:12-13).


Verse 5

Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty. Translate [ qoneeyhen (Hebrew #7069), from qaanaah (Hebrew #7069), to buy], the buyers (Maurer, Vatablus, Drusius), their Roman oppressors, contrasted with "they that sell them." The Romans, as being the instruments of God's righteous judgment, did "not hold themselves guilty" (Jeremiah 50:7, "All their adversaries said, We offend not, because they have sinned against the Lord, the habitation of justice; even the Lord, the hope of their fathers"). It is meant that they might use this plea, not that they actually used it. Judah's adversaries felt no compunction in destroying them; and God, in righteous wrath against Judah, allowed it.

They that sell them - (cf. Zechariah 11:12). "Their own shepherds," below (cf. Zechariah 11:3; Zechariah 11:8). The rulers of Judah, who by their avaricious rapacity and selfishness (John 11:48; John 11:50) virtually sold their country to Rome. Their covetousness brought on Judea God's visitation by Rome. The climax of this was the sale of the innocent Messiah for the thirty pieces of silver. They thought that Jesus was thus sold, and their own selfish interest secured, by the delivery of Him to the Romans for crucifixion; but it was themselves and their country that they thus sold to the Roman "possessors." Messiah was Israel's representative (Isaiah 49:3). When He was sold the Jewish nation was thenceforth virtually sold and doomed.

Say, Blessed be the Lord ... I am rich - by selling the sheep. (Deuteronomy 29:19). So the kingdom of the ten tribes, "Ephraim," before its destruction, said, "I am become rich ... in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin" (Hosea 12:8). In short-sighted selfishness they thought they had gained their object, covetous self-aggrandizement (Luke 16:14), and hypocritically "thanked" God for their wicked gain (cf. Luke 18:11). Compare the sanctimonious hypocrisy with which the chief priests "took the silver pieces" cast down by the traitor Judas, the price paid by themselves for the awful deed, and said, "It is not lawful for us to put them into the treasury, because it is the price of blood." Scrupulosity and punctiliousness about minute trifles are often found connected with the most heartless selfishness, and real irreligion under the mask of superlative sanctity (Matthew 23:24; Matthew 27:4-6).

They ... say ... and their own shepherds pity them not. In the Hebrew [ yo'mar (Hebrew #559) ... yachmowl (Hebrew #2550)] the verbs are singular - i:e., each of those that sell them saith: not one of their own shepherds pitieth them. An emphatic mode of expression, by which earth individual is represented as doing, or not doing, the action of the verb (Henderson). Hengstenberg refers the singular verbs to Yahweh, the true actor; the wicked shepherds being His unconscious instruments. Compare Zechariah 11:6. "For I will no more pity," with the Hebrew 'pitieth not' here.


Verse 6

For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand. As "their own shepherds pitied not" the people (Zechariah 11:5), so "the Lord" would "no more pity" either them or their dupes, who shared their guilt. Yahweh, in vengeance for their rejection of Messiah, gave them over to intestine feuds and Roman rule. The zealots and other factious Jews expelled and slew one another by turns at the last invasion by Rome.

And into the hand of his king; and they shall smite the land - Vespasian or Titus: they themselves (John 19:15) had said, unconsciously realizing Zechariah's words, and identifying Rome's king with Judah's ("his") king, "We have no king but Caesar." God took them at their word, and gave them the Roman king, who "smote (literally [kit


Verse 7

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

And - rather, Accordingly: implying the motive cause which led Messiah to assume the office-namely, the will of the Father (Zechariah 11:4-5), who pitied the sheep who were without any true shepherd, and who therefore said to the Son, "Feed the flock."

I will feed the flock of slaughter - or else [ 'er`eh (Hebrew #7462)], 'I fed,' which comes to the same thing, as the past tense is often used by the prophets in speaking of the future, so certain, as if it were past, is everything that God saith. Calvin makes the words here to be those of THE FATHER, 'I fed the flock.' It was not my fault, Yahweh implies, that these sheep were not fed; the fault rests solely with you, because ye rejected the grace of God. But they are plainly the words of YAHWEH-MESSIAH, who undertook the office delegated to Him by the Father (Zechariah 11:4).

Even you, O poor of the flock - rather, 'in order that (I might feed, i:e., save) the poor (humble; cf. Zechariah 11:11; Zephaniah 3:12; Matthew 5:3) of the flock [ laakeen (Hebrew #3651)]: literally (not "you" [which would be laakem (H3807a), or laake... (H3807a)], but) 'inasmuch as,' or 'therefore (I will feed'), etc. (Moore.) See margin, 'Verily, the poor.' Messiah virtually saith, 'According to the Father's will (Zechariah 11:4; Psalms 40:8) I will feed the flock which is destined to the slaughter, inasmuch as I desire to feed the poor of the flock' - i:e., the humble, who are looked down upon by the world. It is for the sake of the believing remnant that Messiah took charge of the flock, though He would have saved all, if they would have come to Him. They, would not come; therefore, as a nation, they are "the flock of (i:e., doomed to) slaughter." The "remnant according to the election of grace" (Romans 11:5), are "the poor of the flock," whom Messiah did actually "feed."

And I took unto me two staves - i:e., two shepherd's staves or rods (Psalms 23:4). Symbolizing His assumption of the pastor's office. Whereas other shepherds are content with one staff for each, Messiah took two, to imply the more than ordinary solicitude He had for His flock (Calvin).

The one I called Beauty , [ No`am (Hebrew #5278)] - Grace, Pleasantness; the gift of God's free favour. The Jews' special excellency above other nations (Deuteronomy 4:7), in having God so nigh in His special manifestation to them; also in the glory of the temple ("the beauty of holiness," Psalms 29:2 : cf. Psalms 27:4, "the beauty of the Lord" revealed in His temple); and (Psalms 90:17; 2 Chronicles 20:21), the "pleasantness" of their land (Genesis 49:15; Daniel 8:9; Daniel 11:16). "the glorious land."

And the other I called Bands - Ties [ Chob


Verse 8

Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Three shepherds also I cut off , [ waa'akchid (Hebrew #3582)] - literally, to cause to disappear, to destroy so as not to leave a vestige of them. The three shepherds whom Messiah removes are John, Simon, and Eleazar, three leaders of factions in the Jewish war (Drusius). Or the last three princes of the Asmonean line, who died in a short space of time by a violent death (Tirinus) - namely, Hyrcanus, Alexander, and Antigonus; the last was conquered by Herod and the Romans, and was put to death by the common executioner, 34 BC, when Judea passed from under princes of its own to be under aliens. Or, as Messiah, the antitype, was at once prophet, priest, and king, so He, by the destruction of the Jewish polity, destroyed these three orders for the unbelief of both the rulers and people (Moore). If they had accepted Messiah they would have had all three combined in Him, and would have been themselves spiritually prophet, priests, and kings to God. Refusing Him, they lost all three in every sense. I incline, however, to Tirinus' view, as there is no allusion to the priesthood in the term "shepherds," and the fall of the Asmoneans marked the epoch of Judah's virtually losing her independence.

In one month - a brief and fixed space of time (Hosea 5:7). Probably alluding to the last period of the siege of Jerusalem, when all authority within the city was at an end (Henderson, but see the previous note). It is not likely, as some fancy, that a month of years - i:e., 30 years, on the year-day theory-is meant.

And my soul loathed them - literally [ watiqtsar (Hebrew #7114)], was straitened as to them; instead of being enlarged toward them in love (2 Corinthians 6:11-12). The same Hebrew as in Numbers 21:4, margin. No room was left by them for the grace of God, as His favours were rejected (Calvin).

And their soul also abhorred me - the mutual distaste that through the nation's unbelief resulted between the holy Messiah and the guilty Jews is implied.


Verse 9

Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

Then said I - at last, when all means of saving the nations had been used in vain (John 8:24), "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins; for if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins."

I will not feed you - i:e., I will no more feed you. The last rejection of the Jews is foretold, of which the former, under Nebuchadnezzar, similarly described, was the type (Jeremiah 15:1-3; Jeremiah 34:17; Jeremiah 43:11; Ezekiel 6:12). That that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off - perish those who are doomed to perish, since they reject Him who would have saved them. Let them rush on their own ruin, since they will have it so.

And let the rest eat every one the flesh of another - let them madly perish by mutual discords. Josephus attests the fulfillment of this prophecy of threefold calamity: pestilence and famine ("dieth ... die"), war ("cut off ... cut off"), intestine discord ("eat every one the flesh of another").


Verse 10

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people. The covenant made with the whole nation is to hold good no more, except to the elect remnant. This is the force of the clause, not as Maurer, etc., translate, 'that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the nations' (not to hurt my elect people, Hosea 2:18). But the Hebrew is the term for the elect people [ ha`amiym (Hebrew #5971)], not that for the Gentile nations ( gowyim (Hebrew #1471)). The Hebrew plural expresses the great numbers of the Israelite people formerly (1 Kings 4:20). So in Judges 5:14. The article is in the Hebrew, referring to Judah and Israel already spoken of, 'that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the or those peoples.' His cutting asunder the staff "Beauty" implies the setting aside of the outward symbols of the Jews' distinguishing excellency above the Gentiles (note, Zechariah 11:7), as God's own people.


Verse 11

And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

And so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the Lord. The humble godly remnant knew by the event the truth of the prediction, and of Messiah's mission. He had, 37 years before the fall of Jerusalem, forewarned His disciples, when they should see the city compassed with armies, to "flee unto the mountains." Accordingly, Cestus Gallus, when advancing on Jerusalem, unaccountably withdrew for a brief space, giving Christians the opportunity of obeying Christ's words by fleeing to Pella.

That waited upon me - looked to the hand of God in all these calamities, not blindly shutting their eyes to the true cause of the visitation, as most of the nation still do, instead of referring it to their own rejection of Messiah. Isaiah 30:18-21 refers similarly to the Lord's "waiting that He may be gracious," and returning in mercy to the remnant that "wait for Him," and "cry" to Him (Zephaniah 3:12-13).


Verse 12

And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

And I said unto them. The prophet here represents the person of Yahweh-Messiah.

If ye think good - literally, 'If it be good in your eyes.' Glancing at their self-sufficient pride in not deigning to give Him that return which His great love in coming down to them from heaven merited-namely, their love and obedience.

Give me my price. "My price:" my reward for pastoral care, both during the whole of Israel's history from the exodus, and consummated especially in the three and a half years of Messiah's ministry. He speaks as their "servant," which He was to them, in order to fulfill the Father's will (Philippians 2:7).

And if not, forbear. They withheld that which He sought as His only reward, their love; yet He will not force them, but leave His cause with God (Isaiah 49:4-5). Compare the type, Jacob cheated of his wages by Laban, but leaving his cause in the hands of God (Genesis 30:28-33; Genesis 31:41-42).

So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver - 30 skekels. They not only refused Him His due, but added insult to injury, by giving for Him the price of a gored bond-servant (Exodus 21:32; Matthew 26:15). A freeman was rated at twice that sum.


Verse 13

And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

And the Lord said unto me, Cast it unto the potter - proverbial: throw it to the temple-potter, the most suitable person to whom to cast the despicable sum, plying his trade as he did in the polluted valley (2 Kings 23:10) of Hinnom, because it furnished him with the most suitable clay. This same valley, and the potter's shop, were made the scene of symbolic action by Jeremiah (Zechariah 1:8; Zechariah 1:19), when prophesying of this very period of Jewish history. Zechariah connects his prophecy here with the older one of Jeremiah; showing the further application of the same divine threat against His unfaithful people in their destruction under Rome, as before in that under Nebuchadnezzar. Hence, Matthew 27:9 in the English version, and in the oldest authorities, quotes Zechariah's words as Jeremiah's the latter being the original author from whom Zechariah derived the groundwork of the prophecy. Compare the parallel case of Mark 1:2-3, in the oldest manuscripts (though not in the English version), quoting Malachi's words (Malachi 3:1) as those of "Isaiah," who was in fact (Isaiah 40:3) the original source of the prophecy; "As it is written in the prophet Esaias, Behold I send my messenger before thy face, who shall prepare thy way before thee." Isaiah first had said, "Prepare ye the way of the Lord," and Malachi had expanded this prophetic germ. Compare my Introduction to "Zechariah." The "potter" is significant of God's absolute power over the clay framed by His own hand (Isaiah 45:9 ; Jeremiah 18:6; Romans 9:20-21,

A goodly price that I was prized at of them - irony. Whereas I looked for their love and obedience as the return for my love, they offered me ceremonial observances without piety, and ended with selling me at thirty pieces of silver.

And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the Lord. The 30 pieces are thrown down in the temple, as the house of Yahweh, the fit place for the money of Yahweh-Messiah being deposited in the treasury, and the very place, accordingly, where Judas "cast them down." The 30 pieces were cast "to the potter," because it was to him they were "appointed by the Lord" ultimately to go, as a worthless price (cf. Matthew 27:6-7; Matthew 27:10). For "I took," and "I cast them:" here Matthew has "they took," "they gave them;" because their (the Jews' and Judas') act was all His "appointment," in accordance with His "determinate counsel and foreknowledge" (which Matthew also expresses), and therefore is here attributed to Him (cf. Acts 2:23; Acts 4:28). It is curious, some old translators, the Chaldaic and Syriac versions, and Kimchi, translate [ hayowtseer (Hebrew #3335)], for "to the potter," 'to the treasury' (so Maurer), agreeing with Matthew 27:6, "The chief priests took the silver pieces, and said, It is not lawful for to put them into the treasury." But the English version agrees better with the Hebrew and Matthew 27:10, "and gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me."


Verse 14

Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. The breaking of the bond of union between Judah and Israel's 10 tribes under Rehoboam is here the image used to represent the fratricidal discord of factions which raged within Jerusalem on the eve of its fall, while the Romans were thundering at its gates without. See Josephus, 'Bellum Judaicum.' Also the continued severance of the tribes until their coming re-union (Romans 11:15).


Verse 15

And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

And the Lord said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd - "take unto thee yet" - i:e., 'take again'; as in Zechariah 11:7 previously he had taken other implements.

The instruments - the accoutrements-namely, the shepherd's crook and staff, wallet, etc. Assume the character of The instruments - the accoutrements-namely, the shepherd's crook and staff, wallet, etc. Assume the character of a bad ("foolish" in Scripture is synonymous with wicked, Psalms 14:1) shepherd, as before thou assumedst that of a good shepherd. Since the Jews would not have Messiah, "the good shepherd (John 10:11), they were given up to Rome, pagan and papal, both alike their persecutor, especially the latter, and shall be again to Antichrist, the "man of sin," the instrument of judgment by Christ's permission. Compare John 5:43, "I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive." Antichrist will first make a covenant with them as their ruler, but then will break it, and thee shall feel the iron yoke of his tyranny, as the false Messiah, because they rejected the light yoke of the true Messiah (Daniel 11:35-38; Daniel 12:1; Daniel 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-12). But at last he is to perish utterly (Zechariah 11:17), and the elect remnant of Judah and Israel is to be saved gloriously.


Verse 16

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land. Antichrist will possibly be a Jew, or at least one in Judea. Some guess he will be of the tribe of Dan, because that tribe is omitted in the enumeration in Revelation 7:1-17. Compare the comparison of Dan to "a serpent by the way, an adder in the path," Genesis 49:17.

Which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still; but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces. Compare similar language as to the unfaithful shepherds of Israel, Ezekiel 34:2-4. This implies they shall be paid in kind. Such a shepherd in the worst type shall "tear" them for a limited time.

Those that be cut off - `those perishing' (the Septuagint) - i:e., those sick unto death, as if already cut off.

The young one. The Hebrew [ hana`ar (Hebrew #5288)] is always used of human youths, who are really referred to under the image of the young of the flock. Ancient expositors (the Chaldaic version, Jerome, etc.) translate 'the straying,' 'the dispersed;' so Gesenius. But the Hebrew is constantly used of the young of tender age; primarily, those just put forth and dislodged from the mother's womb [ naa`ar (Hebrew #5286), to dislodge]; then those just removed from the tender care of their parents and launched out upon the world.

That that is broken - the wounded.

Nor feed that that standeth still - with faintness lagging behind.

Tear their claws - expressing cruel voracity; tearing off the very hoofs (Exodus 10:26), giving them excruciating pain, and disabling them from going in quest of pasture.


Verse 17

Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

Woe to the idol shepherd. The Hebrew [ haa'

 


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Bibliography Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Zechariah 11:4". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/zechariah-11.html. 1871-8.

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Friday, November 22nd, 2019
the Week of Proper 28 / Ordinary 33
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