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Bible Commentaries

John Trapp Complete Commentary
Zechariah 11

 

 

Verse 1

Zechariah 11:1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Ver. 1. Open thy doors, O Lebanon] This chapter is no less comminatory than the two former had been consolatory. The tartness of the threatening maketh men best taste the sweetness of the promise. Sour and sweet make the best sauce; promises and threatenings mingled serve to keep the heart in the best temper. Hypocrites catch at the promises, as children do at deserts; and stuff themselves therewith a pillow as it were, that they may sin more securely. Here therefore they are given to understand, that God will so be merciful to the penitent, as that he will by no means clear the guilty. That is the last letter in God’s name, Exodus 34:7, and must never be forgotten. It is fitting that the wicked should be forewarned of their danger; and the godly forearmed. This chapter hangs over Jerusalem as that blazing star in the form of a bloody sword is said to have done for a whole year’s time, a little before that last destruction of it, that is here foretold five hundred years before it happened.

Open thy doors, O Lebanon] i.e. Lay open thou thyself to utter ruin; for it is determined, and cannot be avoided. Lebanon was the confine of the country on that side, whereby the Romans made their first irruption, as by an inlet. Doors or gates are attributed to this forest; because against Libanus is set Antilibanus, another mountain; which is joined into it as it were with a certain wall; so that these were and are narrow passages and gates, kept sometimes by the kings of Persia by a special officer, Nehemiah 2:8, and fortified by nature; yet not so strongly but that the Romans broke in this way, and much wasted the forest, employing the trees for the besieging of Jerusalem, as Isaiah 14:8. (Hence it is here called the forest of the vintage, or the defenced forest, Zechariah 11:2 marg.) The Chaldee paraphrast by Lebanon here understandeth the temple, which was built by the cedars of Lebanon; and Ezekiel 17:3, Lebanon is put for Jerusalem; which also had in it that house of the forest of Lebanon built by Solomon, 1 Kings 7:2, wherein he had both his throne of judgment, 1 Kings 7:7, and his armoury, 1 Kings 10:17. So that by Lebanon may be very well meant the whole country of Judea; but especially the city and temple, the iron gates whereof opened themselves of their own accord, that had not been open in seven years before, and could scarcely be shut by twenty men, saith Josephus (Lib. vii. de Bell. Jud. cap. 12). This happened not long before the city was taken by Titus, whereupon Rabbi Jonathan, the son of Zechariah, cried out, En vaticinium Zechariae, Behold the prophecy of Zechariah fulfilled; for he foretold this, that this temple should be burned, and that the gates thereof should first be opened.

That the fire may devour thy cedars] War is as a fire, that feedeth upon the people, Isaiah 9:19, or like as a hungry man snatcheth, &c., Isaiah 9:20, there is in war no measure or satiety of blood. The Greek word Pολεμος, for war, signifieth much blood. The Hebrew word, מלחמה devouring and eating of men, as they eat bread. The Latin Bellum, a belluis. destruction from wild beasts. It destroys the lord as well as the losel, the cedar as well as the shrub. Tamerlane’s coach horses were conquered kings. Adonibezek’s dogs, seventy kings gathering crumbs under his table. "Let fire come out of the bramble, and devour the cedars of Lebanon," 9:15, that is, let fire come out from Abimclech, and devour the men of Shechem, 9:20.


Verse 2

Zechariah 11:2 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.

Ver. 2. Howl, fir tree] That is, ye of lower rank, or ye meaner cities, those daughters of Jerusalem, that felt the Roman’s force; howl, take up a loud outcry, a doleful ditty, after the manner of those that are carried captive by the enemy, Psalms 137:3. For there they that carried us away captive required of us a song; and they that wasted us, qui contumulabant nos, that threw us on heaps (so Tremellius rendereth it, confer Isaiah 25:2), or those that made us howl, ululatores nostri (so Schindler), required of us mirth.

Because all the mighty are spoiled] The magnificos, the men of power, as they are called, Psalms 76:5, stout-hearted and every way able for strength, courage, and riches; which often take away the life of the owners, Proverbs 1:19, and expose them to spoil; as every man desireth to lop the tree that hath thick and large boughs and branches.

Howl, O ye oaks of Bashan] Og’s country, who only remained of the remnant of giants, Deuteronomy 3:11. The Jews fable that he escaped in the flood by riding astride on the ark. By the oaks of his country understand the strong and eminent. The Chaldee rendereth it, Satrapae provinciarum, ye provincial governors.

For the forest of the vintage] Or, the defenced forest, viz. of Lebanon, i.e. Jerusalem, that seemed impregnable, but at length came down, ruit alto a culmine, as a cedar that is felled by a mighty one, Isaiah 10:34. Death hewed its way through a wood or forest of men in a minute of time from the mouth of a murdering piece, or some such warlike engine. When the sword is once sharpened it makes a sore slaughter; "it contemneth the rod," Ezekiel 21:10; q.d. what does this silly rod do here? these lesser and lighter judgments? let me come, I will make work among them; down with these oaks, down with this defenced forest, &c.


Verse 3

Zechariah 11:3 [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.

Ver. 3. There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds] Potentes potenter torquebuntur. "The loftiness of man shall be bowed down, and the haughtiness of men shall be made low: and the Lord alone shall be exalted in that day," Isaiah 2:17. The shepherds were grown foolish, Zechariah 11:15, idol shepherds, Zechariah 11:17, they cared for no other instruments but forcipes et mulctram, the shears and the milk pail; they were become "greedy dogs, which could never have enough," Isaiah 56:11 (they were sick of the bulimy, or appetitus caninus a greedy dog), yea, they were so many young lions, ramping and ravening, as it is here and Ezekiel 19:2-3. Both princes and priests were turned tyrants, and instead of feeding the people in the integrity of their hearts, and guiding them with the skilfulness of their hands, Psalms 78:72, preyed upon them, and "plucked the skin from off them, and their flesh from off their bones," Micah 3:2.

For the pride of Jordan is spoiled] The swelling of Jordan dried up by the Romans, as Jerome interprets it; or, the proud and stately palaces and possessions that the great ones had gotten upon the banks of Jordan for fruitfulness and pleasance, as a Lapide; or the numerous and proud nation of the Jews likened to the yearly overflowing of Jordan, whereof see Joshua 3:15, Jeremiah 49:19, as Diodati.


Verse 4

Zechariah 11:4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;

Ver. 4. Thus saith the Lord my God; Feed the flock of slaughter] So lately pulled out of the jaws of those lions, Zechariah 11:3 cf. Amos 3:12, and yet destined to destruction by the Romans, those Raptores Orbis robbers of the world, (their former preservation being but a reservation to future mischief), for their desperate obstinace and incorrigibility.

Feed them] Saith God to the prophets; for their ordinary shepherds have cast off all care of their good. Tell them what evil will betide them unless they repent; forewarn them "to flee from the wrath to come," Matthew 3:7; to take course that they may "escape all these things that shall come to pass," Luke 21:36. Oh the goodness of God to a nation so shamelessly, so lawlessly wicked! Besides himself, the Shepherd of lsrael, that led Joseph like a flock, Psalms 80:1, and neglected no good office of seeking and feeding them, of handling and healing them, of washing them and watching over them, &c., how careful was he ever to raise them up "seven shepherds, and eight principal men," Micah 5:5, till at length he sent the man Christ Jesus, who is the chief of ten thousand, the "chief Shepherd," as St Peter calls him, 1 Peter 5:4, that one and only Shepherd, as Solomon, Ecclesiastes 12:11, that great Shepherd of the sheep, as Paul, Hebrews 13:20, who came to look up the lost sheep of the house of Israel, whom (to move compassion and affection) he here calleth the sheep of slaughter, until the time prefixed for their total dispersion, by reason of their ingratitude.


Verse 5

Zechariah 11:5 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.

Ver. 5. Whose possessors slay them] Flaying their skin from off them, eating their flesh, breaking their bones, &c., Micah 3:3; feeding themselves, and not the flock of God, Ezekiel 34:2, as if they had been "lords over God’s heritage," 1 Peter 5:3. Owners and possessors, as here, vel pretio vel paemio; and as the Pope and his, Curia Romana quae non vult ovem sine lana, The papal court which did not want the as the sheep without the fleece, old proverb was.

And hold themselves not guilty] Non peccant. They fault not themselves; they are not found guilty by others. Such an unlimited power over God’s people they have usurped, as if they might use them at their pleasure, and never be once questioned or punished for the same; but escape scot free. This was the extremity of tyranny; such as the cruel Spaniards exercise over the poor Indians: they suppose they show the wretches great favour, when they do not, for their pleasures, whip them with cords, and day by day drop their naked bodies with burning bacon; which is one of the least cruelties they inflict upon them.

And they that sell them] Sell them for slaves (whom they ought to redeem rather with their own blood), and grow rich by them; being greedy of filthy lucre, not without foul blasphemy against God, whom they entitle to their riches sacrilegiously and most thievishly gotten; while they say,

Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich] Deo gratius, blessed be God is a very good saying, and was much in Austin’s mouth. But as the fountain of goodness will not be laden at with unwashed hands; so fair words from a foul mouth are infinitely displeasing to him that "inhabiteth the praises of Israel," Psalms 22:3. Hypocrites are not unfitly compared to monkeys, that have the gravest countenances of all creatures, but are incessantly doing mischief; or to the harpies, (a) that are said to have virgins’ faces, vultures’ talons. Mel in ore, verba lactis; Fel in corde, fraus in factis. Words of milk are honey in the mouth; gall in the heart is fraud in the making. Pharisees, under pretence of long prayers, devoured widows’ houses, Matthew 23:14; while their lips seemed to pray or praise God, they were but chewing and champing some sweet morsel snatched from the flock, but sauced with the wrath of God, Job 20:15. See how our Saviour sets them out in their colours, Matthew 23:15-16; Matthew 23:23. Such fair professors but foul sinners were their predecessors, Isaiah 66:5, who, when they had done evil as they could, thought to salve all by saying, Let the Lord be glorified. And such also are their successors, the Pope and his followers. Verba tua Dei plane sunt, facta vero diaboli (said one once to Pope Innocent III, preaching peace but sowing discord), you speak like a God, but do like a devil; wherefore you shall receive the greater damnation. When one of our persecuting bishops read the sentence of excommunication against a certain martyr, and began, as the usual form was, In the name of God, Amen, the martyr cried out, You begin in a wrong name. And it grew to a common proverb, In nomine Dei incipit omne malum. All mischief begins on that manner. Gentilis, that impious anti-trinitarian, gave out that he suffered for the glory of the most high God. Becket, the arch-traitor, pretended to submit to his sovereign, but with this false reserve, Salvo honore Dei. Iam am saved by the honour of God. The Swenckfeldians entitled themselves the confessors of the glory of Christ. And Conradus Vorstius’s late monster hath De Deo concerning God in the front, and atheism and blasphemy in the text.

And their own shepherds pity them not] Which yet they ought to have done, had they had never so much right and reason to destroy them. A shepherd hath his name from friendly feeding; in Greek, from earnest desire and love to the sheep. David, when he was hunted from Samuel the prophet, he fleeth to Ahimelech the priest; as one that knew justice and compassion should dwell in those breasts that are consecrated to God and his people. But these shepherds, through want of God’s holy fear, Job 6:14, had brawny breasts, horny heart strings; their hearts, first turned into earth and mud, did afterwards freeze into steel and adamant; cursed children they were, having their hearts exercised with covetousness and cruelty, 2 Peter 2:14.


Verse 6

Zechariah 11:6 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].

Ver. 6. For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land] Or, surely I will no mere, &c. A fearful sentence, written in blood, and breathing out nothing but utter destruction. David knew what he did when he chose rather to fall into the hand of the Lord than of men. For his mercies are many, and it soon repents him concerning his servants; "but the tender mercies of the wicked are cruel," Proverbs 12:10. Those shepherds in the former verse were grievous wolves, Acts 20:29; what wonder therefore that they spared not the flock? But yet while God pitied them there was "hope in Israel concerning this thing," as he said, Ezra 10:2; whereas now that God’s soul is disjointed from them, and his bowels shut up, desolation must needs be at next door, by Jeremiah 6:8 "Be not thou a terror unto me, O Lord," said that prophet, Jeremiah 17:17, and then I care not though all the world frown upon me and set against me. But woe be to Loruamah, the people of God’s wrath and of his curse. I have noted before, out of Jeremiah 16:13, that God’s I will show you no favour was worse than I will cast you out of this land.

I will deliver the men] Heb. I will make them to be found, pulling them out of their starting holes and lurking places. "Evil shall hunt the violent man to destroy him," Psalms 140:11.

Every one into his neighbour’s hand] As into the hangman’s hand. This was fulfilled, especially during the siege by the seditious within the walls of Jerusalem, one man proving a wolf, nay, a devil to another.

And into the hand of his king] The Roman emperor, who disclaimed indeed the name of a king to avoid the hatred of the people, and yet exercised the full power of kings both at home and abroad. These Jews, first subdued by the Romans and reduced into a province, did afterwards rebel (though they had once, in opposition to Christ, cried out, We have no king but Caesar), and were, therefore, after five months’ siege, utterly ruined: for what with extremity of famine and what with the fury of the sword, there perished in Jerusalem, and in the province adjoining, as Eusebius affirms, about 60,000 able men to bear arms. Or, as Josephus holds, who was an eyewitness, and present in the war, there died 1,100,000, besides others taken captive, to the number of 97,000.

And I will smite the land] So that it hath lain as it were, bedridden ever since.


Verse 7

Zechariah 11:7 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.

Ver. 7. And will I feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock] Or, as Montanus readeth it, for you, for your sakes, O poor of the flock, i.e. O ye that are poor in spirit, pure in heart, my little flock, as our Saviour’s expression is in Luke. Even for your sakes will I yet for a time spare the reprobate goats, feeding them by my prophets, and provoking them to repentance. The word and sacraments, and all God’s common temporal favours, are, in respect of external participation, communicated to reprobates by way of concomitancy only; because they are intermixed with the elect. Thus tares, mingled among wheat, partake of the fat of the land and moisture of the manure, which was not intended for them.

And I took unto me two staves] viz. That I might therewith do the office of a shepherd; and yet in more than an ordinary manner. For shepherds commonly carry but one staff or crook; or, at most, but a staff on their shoulders and a rod in their hands, as David shows in his pastoral, Psalms 23:3. But here are two staves taken; to show, saith Calvin, that God would surpass all the care and pains of men in governing that people.

The one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands] What these two should mean much ado is made among intrepreters. Some are for the two Covenants; others for the two Testaments; others for the order of Christ’s preaching, sweet and mild at first, terrible and full of threatenings at last, as appeareth in Matthew 24:24-25. But what a wild conceit was that of Anthony, Archbishop of Florence, who understood the word of Dominic and his order; construing them thus: I, that is, God, took unto me two staves, viz. Beauty, that is, the order of Preachers, and Bands, that is, the order of Minorites, who are girt with a cord? The sounder sort of expositors make it to be a figure of the two ways which Christ useth at all times in the feeding of his Church; the one by love, guiding them by his word and Spirit; the other by severity, punishing them by the cruel hand of their enemies. See Isaiah 10:5. Thus Vatablus, Diodati, &c. And that this is the true sense, saith a Lapide, it appeareth: First, because this oracle of the prophet is of the time to come, and not of the time past. Secondly, the event (that best interpreter of prophecies) maketh for it. For first God’s government of the commonwealth of Israel was beautiful and gentle, in the time of the Maccabees and of Christ; and then terrible and destructory, in the time of the Romans, of Nero, Vespasian, Adrian, &c. Thirdly, because a little after the prophet saith that he brake both the staves, that is, he utterly rejected the Jews, and brought his wrath upon them to the utmost, which cannot be meant by any other time than that of Christ, and of Titus. Especially since (in the fourth place) the prophet declareth, Zechariah 11:13, that the staff of Beauty was broken at the death of Christ, for their unworthy selling and slaughtering of him, as if he had been some slave or base person.

And I fed the flock] q.d. I did my part by them. Thy destruction, therefore, is of thyself, O Israel. England is a mighty animal, saith a politician, which can never die except it kill itself. The same might be much more said of the Jewish commonwealth, which Josephus truly and trimly calleth a Theocratia, or a God government, for the form and first constitution of it; and Moses, in this respect, magnifieth that nation above all other, Deuteronomy 4:6-7.


Verse 8

Zechariah 11:8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Ver. 8. Three shepherds also I cut off in one month] That is, in a short time I took away and displaced, even by the heathen princes, many proud princes and priests; such as were Menelaus, Jason, the Aristobuli, Hircani, Annas, Caiaphas, and others: or, I removed those three sorts of shepherds of the old law, viz. princes, prophets, and priests. Thus Theodoret and Vatablus. Diodati understands the text of the three chief empires that had tyrannized over the people, Zechariah 11:6; Zechariah 11:3; Zechariah 11:12; Zechariah 11:10. Namely, the Chaldean, Persian, and Grecian empire, which were destroyed by the Son of God, Daniel 2:45. But they do best, in mine opinion, that by these three shepherds understand those three sects among the Jews at Christ’s coming in the flesh, viz. Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes; whereof, though the Pharisees were the best, and most exact for the outward observation of the law, yet are they in the Gospel, for their putid hypocrisy, first sharply taxed by our Saviour (after the Baptist), and then plainly rejected, and even sent to hell by a chain shot of eight links of woes, Matthew 23:13-16; Matthew 23:23; Matthew 23:25; Matthew 23:27; Matthew 23:29

And my soul loathed them] Or, was taken off from them, or, was straitened for them; because I saw that they received my grace in vain, and considered not my care for their good. Theodotion and Symmachus render it, Anima mea exanimata est, I am dispirited, as it were, and even disheartened to do any more for them.

And their soul also abhorred me] And so they became God haters ( θεοστυγεις), as Romans 1:30, and therefore hateful to God ( στυγητοι), Titus 3:3, hateful as hell (so the word imports), yea, more and worse, for hell is but an effect of God’s justice, but wickedness is a breach of his law. The prophet here seemeth to allude to those murmurers in the wilderness, that disdainfully cried out, Our soul loatheth this light bread, Numbers 21:5. Let God’s servants take heed how they hang loose toward him; and lest, by disuse and discontinuance of a duty, there grow upon them an alienation of affection, a secret disrelishing and nauseating at that which we ought most deeply to affect and duly to perform. Surely, as loathing of meat and difficulty of breathing are two symptoms of a sick body, so are carelessness of hearing and irksomeness of praying two sure signs of a sick soul.


Verse 9

Zechariah 11:9 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.

Ver. 9. Then said I, I will not feed you] Now the wrath of the Lord arose against his people, so that there was no remedy, as 2 Chronicles 36:16. Now his decree brought forth, Zephaniah 2:2. Now he grows implacable, inexorable, peremptory. Wherein nevertheless the Lord might very well break forth into that speech of the heathen emperor, when he was to pass sentence upon a malefactor, Non nisi coactus, I would not do this if I could do otherwise. Christ could not tell Jerusalem without tears that her day of grace was expired, that her destruction was determined. As a woman brings not forth without pain; as a bee stings not till provoked; so neither doth God proceed against a sinful people or person till there be an absolute necessity; lest his truth and justice should be questioned and slighted. See Ezekiel 12:22-25. Fury is not in God, till our sins put thunderbolts into his hands; and then, "who knoweth the power of his anger?" Psalms 90:11 "who can abide with everlasting burnings?" Isaiah 33:14. If he but cast a man off, as here, and relinquish the care of him, he is utterly undone. Saul found it so, and complains dolefully (but without pity) that God had forsaken him, and the Philistines were upon him, 1 Samuel 28:15; all miseries and mischief came rushing in to him, as by a sluice. Let us so carry matters that God may not abandon us; that he may not refuse to feed us, and take the charge of us as a shepherd. He yet offereth us this mercy, as Alexander did those he warred against, while the lamp burned.

That that dieth, let it die] viz. Of the murrain, or pestilence, for man being in honour, if God but blow upon him, abideth not, but is like the beasts that perish, pecoribus morticinis, saith Tremellius, the beasts that die of the murrain. Vatablus thinks pestilence, sword, and famine are here threatened under the names of death, of cutting off, and of devouring one another. All which befell the refractory Jews in the last siege; the history whereof will make any man’s heart bleed within him that hath but the least spark of grace or good nature. It went hard with them, when the rest, that the pestilence and sword had left, fell to eating the flesh one of another; when the mother killed and boiled the dead body of her harmless suckling, and, eating the one half, reserved the other for another time. "Behold, O Lord, and consider to whom thou hast done this?" saith the prophet: "Shall the women eat their fruit, and children of a span long?" Lamentations 2:20. Oh the misery, or rather mock of man’s life! And oh the venomous nature of sin, that moves God (who is not μισανθρωπος, a man hater, but delights in mercy) to deal so severely with his poor creature.


Verse 10

Zechariah 11:10 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.

Ver. 10. And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder] In token that he had cast off his office of shepherd, he breaks his staff, the ensign and instrument of his office; and this in token that he had broke

his covenant which he had made with all the people] i.e. with all the tribes of Israel, which were as so many different peoples, over whom God had reigned (but now rejected), and in whom he delighted more than in all the nations of the world besides. The saints are called all things, Colossians 1:20, because they are of more worth than a world of wicked men, Hebrews 11:38. And the Jews have a saying, that those 70 souls that went with Jacob into Egypt were as much as all the 70 nations in the world. What great account God once made of them above others, see Isaiah 43:3-4, Deuteronomy 33:29. But now, behold, they are discarded and discovenanted:

I have broken my covenant,] and in Zechariah 11:11 it was broken in that day that is, in the day that they put themselves out of my precincts, I put them out of my protection. That peace that I had granted to my people, that they should be no more molested by any strange nation (which was verified from the time of the Maccabees till a little before the coming of Christ), shall now be forfeited. The glory is departed, the Beauty broken in pieces, the golden head of the picture, religion, defaced, and good order banished; all things out of order both in Church and State (for so they were at the time when Christ "came to his own, and his own received him not": he found them in Dothan, that is, in defection, as Joseph found his brethren); therefore he now disowns and disavows them as much as once he did when they had made a golden calf. "Thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves," saith God to Moses, Exodus 32:7, upon whom he now fathereth them, as if he had never been in covenant with them. Danaeus upon this text concludeth that the Jews are now strangers from the covenant of God; and that this is hereby confirmed, for that they are without baptism, the seal of the covenant.


Verse 11

Zechariah 11:11 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.

Ver. 11. And it was broken in that day] When they filled up the measure of their fathers’ sins, and added this to all their other evils, that they crucified the Lord of glory, the Mediator of the new covenant, Hebrews 12:24. Now they were, by an irrevocable decree, to bear their iniquities, and to know God’s breach of promise, as once was threatened to their faithless fathers, Numbers 14:24.

And so the poor of the flock] i.e. The lowly and meek, the apostles and other of Wisdom’s children, these all justified her, Matthew 11:19, and glorified God when they saw his severity against their refractory countrymen, and themselves sweetly secured and provided for at Pella. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 11:7"}

That waited upon me] Heb. That observed me, by obeying my precepts. Pagnine rendereth it, qui custodiunt me, sc. as their most precious treasure, wherein they hold themselves very happy and wealthy, though otherwise poor and indigent.

Knew that it was the word of the Lord] Were sensible of God’s heavy displeasure upon the land; which others passed by as a common occurrence, or a chance of war. The elect made benefit of that general visitation; and acknowledged that the wars moved by the Romans were the effects of God’s providence, according to the ancient prophecies. This the rich and noble (whose hearts were fat as grease, Psalms 119:70. Qui animas etiam incarnaverunt, who were desperately hard and brutish) took no notice of.


Verse 12

Zechariah 11:12 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.

Ver. 12. If ye think good, give me my price] Pay me for my pains, lay me down my shepherd’s wages. Is not the labourer worthy of his hire? Shall I be forced to say of you, as my servant David of Nabal, that unthankful churl, "Surely in vain have I kept all that this fellow had in the wilderness, so that nothing was missed of all that pertained unto him: and he hath requited me evil for good," 1 Samuel 25:21. If God will be David’s shepherd, David will dwell in God’s house to all perpetuity, Psalms 23:1; Psalms 23:6. If the Lord deal bountifully with him, he will sit down and bethink himself what to render unto the Lord for all his benefits, Psalms 116:7; Psalms 116:12. A Christian counts all that he can do for God, by way of retribution, but a little of that much he could beteem him; and thinks nothing more unbeseeming himself than to receive the grace of God in vain. His two mites of thankfulness and obedience he daily presents; and then cries out, as the poor Grecian did to the emperor, If I had a better present thou shouldst be sure of it ( Eι πλεον ειχον πλεον εδιδουν). But ingratitude is a grave, which receives all the bodies (the benefits) that are put into it; but will render none up again without a miracle. Hence that passionate expostulation, Deuteronomy 32:6 "Do ye thus requite the Lord, O ye foolish people and unwise?" Sic etiam stomachose loquitur Deus hoe loeo, saith Calvin upon this text: i.e. So likewise doth the Lord here in high displeasure and with great animosity or stomach, bespeak his people, Give me my wages howsoever; or, if not, forbear till I fetch it, till I recover it; you shall be sure to pay then, not the debt only, but the charges likewise; I will be paid both for my pains and patience too. In the mean space I need you not, nor care for your wages; for I am no hireling, &c.

So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver] That is, thirty shekels, or shillings. The price of a slain servant’s life, Exodus 21:32. This they weighed, as the manner of paying money then was, Genesis 23:16, Jeremiah 32:9. But they heaved their hands very high, it seems, when they valued the Lord Christ at so vile a rate. See Matthew 26:15. {See Trapp on "Matthew 26:15"}


Verse 13

Zechariah 11:13 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.

Ver. 13. Cast it unto the potter] q.d. Do they deal with me as with some sordid swineherd? Do they award me less than carters’ wages? Throw it away, let the potter take it; and let us see how many tiles he can afford us for it, to repair the roof of the temple. Their undervaluing and despising of me in this sort is not only injurious, but contumelious; it is to turn my glory into shame; to spit in my face; or to use me as homely as Rachel did her father’s gods, which she laid among the litter, and sat upon.

A goodly price that I was valued at of them] So he calleth it by an irony, or a holy jeer. Poor Joseph was sold for less; for twenty pieces of silver, Genesis 37:28 "They sold the just one for silver, and the poor for a pair of shoes," Amos 2:6. The Hebrews tell us, that of those twenty shekels every one of the ten brethren had two to buy shoes for his feet. The Jews that bought Christ for thirty pieces of silver (this goodly price) of the traitor that sold him, were themselves afterwards (by a just hand of God upon them) bought and sold thirty of them for a penny by the Romans, ad illudendum, saith mine author, for a scorn to their nation. God loves to retaliate, and to set the scales even; men’s cruelty in the one, and their reward in the other. If we be at any time underrated by the world (as we are sure to be; for the world knows us not, 1 John 3:2), what so great matter is it, since Christ himself was no more set by? We must be content to pass to heaven (as he did) as concealed men. It must suffice us that our precious faith shall be found to praise, honour, and glory, at that great fair day, 1 Peter 1:7, when all fardles {litle bundles} shall be opened, and our best wares exposed to public view.

And cast them to the potter] "I gave them for the potter’s field, as the Lord appointed me," saith the evangelist, Matthew 27:10, expounding the prophet, and applying the words to Christ, who is hereby also proved to be God. So true is that observation of divines, that the Old Testament is both explained and fulfilled in the New, by a happy harmony.

In the house of the Lord] That thereby he might the more sharply prick the priests; whose care it ought to have been that God should be better prized by the people, and his service better observed.


Verse 14

Zechariah 11:14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, [even] Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Ver. 14. Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands] Or, binders; the bond of unity, say some; by sending a spirit of perversities among them, such as that was which made way for the ruin of Egypt, Isaiah 19:14; Isaiah 19:16-17. But see for the sense hereof what is noted. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 11:7"} God seems to say that he will now no more govern this people in mildness and clemency; nor yet exercise his shepherdly severity in saving corrections and visitations, as formerly he had done; but utterly reject and disject them.

That I might break the brotherhood] Germanitatem, saith the Vulgate. Mala quaedam olitores Germanitatis vocant, semper cohaerentia, semper gemella, nunquam singula in foetu. Such were Judah and Israel till the ten tribes revolted from the house of David. After which, many of the better affected Israelites went over to Rehoboam; besides those of the ten tribes that returned with them out of Babylon, twelve thousand at least, as may be gathered out of Ezra 2:64, 1 Chronicles 9:3. And in Jerusalem dwelt of the children of Judah, and of the children of Benjamin, and of the children of Ephraim and Manasseh; and between them there grew a brotherly conjunction and consociation, a league of love, as the Septuagint render it, or a national covenant ( διαθηκην). This God threateneth here to dissolve and disannul; so that Ephraim shall be against Manasseh, and Manasseh against Ephraim, and both against Judah, Isaiah 9:21. Not many years before Christ’s coming in the flesh those two brethren, Hircanus and Aristobulus, disagreed about the government and high priesthood; and called in Pompey, who subdued the country, and reduced it into a province. And not many years after Christ’s passion Titus, the Roman emperor, utterly broke the brotherhood between Judah and Israel; and so scattered them, that like those priests in Ezra, they have utterly lost their pedigree, know not one another by their tribe or family, nor yet agree within themselves, Ezra 2:62. Those of them that were in Spain, and are now banished into the East (A.D. 1492), they hold to be of the tribe of Judah; and the other, in Germany and Italy, to be of the tribe of Benjamin; who in honour of the more noble tribe, and to correspond with them the better, do learn the Spanish tongue, which those still retain.


Verse 15

Zechariah 11:15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

Ver. 15. Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd] And so represent in a type, or figure, the wicked and depraved government, that, for a just punishment of their frowardness and uuthankfulness, I shall set up among this people. "The instruments of a foolish shepherd," that is, of an oppressive and self-seeking magistrate, are not virga et pedum, a rod and a staff, but forcipes et mulctra, shears to clip them and a milk pail to drain them. Lac et lana Milk and fleece are all they look after. Now it is threatened as a heavy curse, Leviticus 26:17, They that hate you shall reign over you; mischievous, malignant princes, such as are described in the next verse. England was once called the Pope’s ass, for bearing his burdens and impositions. An Emperor of Germany said, for the like reason, that the king of France was king of asses, rather than of men ( Rex hominum Hispanus, asinorum Gallus, Regum ego, dixit Maximil.). King John of England’s exactors received from his subjects no less sums of curses than of coin, saith our chronicler. He gathered money, the sinews of war; but lost their affections, the joints of peace. A taxation by the poll, first granted to Edward III, became a precedent to the next reign; and caused therein the first and greatest popular insurrection that ever was seen in this kingdom, saith another of our historians. And what sad effects poll money, ship money, coat and conduct money, and other oppressive practices have lately produced among us, is well known to all. But what a cruel shepherd was that prince mentioned by Melancthon, that when he wanted money would send for such and such a rich subject of his, and require of him what he pleased. If the man denied to bring it, he would knock out first one of his teeth, and then another, threatening to do the like by all the rest, in case the money were not brought in by such a time! Was not this one of those foolish, or rather furious shepherds in the next verse, who do eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces? that shall eat thy fruit, and drink thy milk, as another prophet phraseth it, Ezekiel 25:4. Fisco potius apud multos consulitur quam Christo; attonsioni potius gregis quam attentioni, as Bishop Andrews truly complaineth. And no less justly Mr Bolton. Some follow the administration of justice as a trade only; with an unquenchable and unconscionable desire of gain; which justifieth the common resemblance of ill governors to the bush, whereto while the sheep fleeth for defence in weather, he is sure to lose a good part of his fleece. Hence many that seek to courts of justice to be righted, are so ill handled, that they come to be of Themistocles’ mind; who professed, that if two ways were shown to him, one to hell and the other to the bar, he would choose that which went to hell, and forsake the other.


Verse 16

Zechariah 11:16 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.

Ver. 16. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land] Evil shepherds (that is, rulers in State and Church, see Jeremiah 6:3, Nahum 3:18, Isaiah 44:28) are set up by God for a punishment of a sinful people. {See Trapp on "Zechariah 11:15"} The evil shepherd here meant was Antiochus Epiphanes, saith Theodoret; Herod, the infanticide, saith Montanus; Titus and the Romans, saith a Castro; all the perverse priests and princes that ruled over the Jews, after the time of this prophecy, saith a Lapide; as Jason, Menelaus, 2 Maccabees 4:1-50; 2 Maccabees 5:1-27, Herod, Pilate, Annas and Caiaphas, the Scribes and Pharisees; but especially antichrist (according to John 5:43), whose forerunners all the former were. Of one Pope it is said, by those of his own side, that he entered upon the government of the Church as a fox, reigned as a wolf, died as a dog; and it is true enough of all the rest, and to them the following words do most fitly agree.

Who shall not visit those that be cut off] Or, look for the thing that is lost. Illos qui erraverunt, non quaerent, saith the ChaIdee: the word signifieth such as are hidden in thickets, hung among thorns and briers, and there likely to perish without help.

Neither shall seek the young one] The tender lambs of Christ, which Peter was doubly charged to feed. Stolidam non requiret, saith the Tigurine translation. Lambs are silly things, very apt to straggle; and least able of any creature to find their way home again.

Nor heal that that is broken] David, by leaping over the pale, as it were, of God’s precepts, brake his bones, Psalms 51:8, and felt the fall the longest day of his life; so may any of Christ’s flock. The good Shepherd, therefore, in pera gestat unguentum, hath his medicines ready in scrip, to apply as need requireth. Not so the idol shepherd, who will rather break the sound than bind up the broken.

Nor feed that that standeth still] Or, that is well underlaid, and is full of vigour. Vatablus rendereth it, Eam quae restitat, non portabit. He will not carry that which can go no further. Hitherto the negligence of these evil shepherds. Followeth next their cruelty, and that is more than bestial. For the ravening beasts lightly leave some foot or bone undevoured, Amos 3:12; but these do not only eat the flesh of the flock, and suck the fat, but barbarously tear the claws also in pieces, exercise utmost immunity; as it is here graphically and gallantly described.


Verse 17

Zechariah 11:17 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.

Ver. 17. Woe to the idol shepherd] The Vulgate hath, O pastor et idolum, O thou shepherd and idol; thou that hast the show only and semblance of a shepherd, the name, but not the thing; thou that art the ape of a shepherd, non verus sed vanus, non virus sed pictus et fictus pastor, that art cleped a shepherd, as an idol is a god; but shouldest be called rather a dumb dog, a greedy dog; a shepherd that cannot understand, Isaiah 56:10-11, a foolish shepherd, as Zechariah 11:15, an ουτιδανος, one that hath nothing in him of any true worth, but art vain and vile, and of no value, as this word is rendered, Job 13:4; Job 11:17 ( אליל Per agnominationem alludit ad through an alteriteration with אכול, Zechariah 11:15). Vae, vae, vae, tibi. Alas, alas, alas to you, Christ, the great Shepherd of the sheep, will surely pull off thy vizor, wash off thy varnish with rivers of brimstone, brand thee for a hireling,

that leaveth the flock] to shift as it can, among thieves and wolves, John 10:13. {See Trap on "John 10:13"}

The sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye] i.e. The curse of God shall light upon his power and policy, both which shall be blasted.

His arm shall be clean dried up] As a keck, or stick.

And his right eye shall be utterly darkened] Or, shrivelled up, wrinkled and dusk; as in old bisons. The idle and evil servant had his talent taken from him, and worthily, Matthew 25:28. The barren fig tree was cut down from cumbering, Luke 13:7. God will recover his gifts from those that misuse or but disuse them, Hosea 2:9. Away they go, as strength went from Samson, wisdom from Solomon: they cry unto God under our abuse, who thereupon gives them the wings of an eagle, and lays aside their owner, as so many broken vessels; causing them to be even forgotten as dead men out of mind, Psalms 31:12. This is now especially fulfilled among the Jews, who for a long season have been "without God, without a teaching priest, and without law," 2 Chronicles 15:3.

 


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Bibliography Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 11:4". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/zechariah-11.html. 1865-1868.

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Monday, December 16th, 2019
the Third Week of Advent
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