Zec 11: The rejection of the true king: Zec 9; 10 present
pictures of blessing and prosperity, but Zec 11 paints a scene of sin and
"Preceding the fulfillment of the prophecies of blessing are
the apostasy of Israel and their rejection of the Good Shepherd, their Messiah,
with the consequent visitation of God upon them in dire punishment"
"The prophecy of Zechariah now portrays the Shepherd qualities
of the leadership Yahweh gave to His people. But the people discarded Yahweh's
Shepherd, and selected their own shepherds. Thus the chapter reveals the true
shepherd (v 4) as Zechariah, and the Lord Jesus; the false shepherd (v 5),
Israel in the past; and the worthless shepherd (v 17), the Gentile overlords. It
is a dramatic prophecy showing that the Good Shepherd would be rejected, and the
flock scattered. We must wait until the next chapter to see the return of the
Shepherd. Because the people did not heed the voice of Yahweh's prophets,
Zechariah declared that (1) The Jewish State would be overthrown (as in AD 70):
vv 1-4. (2) The cause of the calamity demonstrated: vv 5,6. (3) Zechariah enacts
the parable of the Good Shepherd: vv 7-14. (4) The worthless Shepherd: vv
"It is without doubt a remarkable prophecy. Notice Zechariah
refers to Yahweh as 'my' God (v 4). The Deity was not 'their' God, as they
sought Him not. It was this prophecy that came alive at the crucifixion of the
Lord Jesus, and the betrayal by Judas for the miserable 'thirty pieces of
silver' (v 12). It was ironically called 'a goodly price' (v 13), as it was
certainly not of the true value of the sacrifice. Peter more correctly declared
the 'blood of redemption' was 'precious' (1Pe 1:19), beyond whatever man might
OPEN YOUR DOORS, O LEBANON, SO THAT FIRE MAY DEVOUR YOUR
CEDARS!: The prophet announced in vigorous poetic language that Lebanon's
famous cedars would perish. The Israelites referred to the royal palace in
Jerusalem as "Lebanon" because it contained so much cedar from Lebanon (Jer
22:23; cp 1Ki 7:2; cp also Isa 10:34). The Talmud spoke of the second temple as
Lebanon for the same reason. The cedar also became a symbol of the royal house
of Judah (Eze 17:3,4,12,13), esp the leaders of the nation (Isa 37:21-24; Eze
WAIL, O PINE TREE, FOR THE CEDAR HAS FALLEN; THE STATELY
TREES ARE RUINED! WAIL, OAKS OF BASHAN; THE DENSE FOREST HAS BEEN CUT DOWN!:
Generally, trees often sym royalty (Jdg 9:7-15; Isa 10:33,34; Eze 31:3-18; Dan
4:10,23). Bashan was famous for its oak forests (cp Isa 2:13; Eze 27:6). Earlier
Zechariah combined Lebanon and Bashan to indicate the whole land (Zec 10:10).
All these trees suggest the people of the land as well as the land itself. A
judgment that would affect the whole land of Palestine and all its people,
including its rulers, is in view.
"When in the forest there is heard the crash of a falling oak,
it is a sign that the woodman is abroad, and every tree in the whole company may
tremble lest to-morrow the sharp edge of the axe should find it out. We are all
like trees marked for the axe, and the fall of one should remind us that for
every one, whether great as the cedar, or humble as the fir, the appointed hour
is stealing on apace" (CHS).
LISTEN TO THE WAIL OF THE SHEPHERDS; THEIR RICH PASTURES
ARE DESTROYED! LISTEN TO THE ROAR OF THE LIONS; THE LUSH THICKET OF THE JORDAN
IS RUINED!: The shepherds and lions (the rulers and leaders of Israel, cp
Jer 25:34-38) would wail because a coming destruction would leave no pasture for
their flocks and no lairs or food for beasts.
In view of what follows in vv 4-14, vv 1-3 seem to be a
description of the devastation of Palestine due to the rejection of the Messiah.
This prediction had an initial fulfillment in the Roman destruction of Jerusalem
and the scattering of the Jews in 70 AD. Its complete fulfillment, however, lies
in the future, specifically the destruction that will overtake the land and its
people in the last great tribulation period.
LUSH THICKET: Lit, the "splendor" (AV). The great
expanse of greenery along the upper Jordan was considered its
Vv 4-14: The reason for the devastation of the people and the
land just described now becomes apparent. It is the people's rejection of the
messianic Shepherd-King (cp Isa 42; 49; 50; 53). The LORD would graciously give
His people another good leader (vv 4-6), but they would reject the good shepherd
that He would provide for them (vv 7-14).
PASTURE THE FLOCK MARKED FOR SLAUGHTER: Zechariah seems
to be acting out, as instructed, the role of shepherd over the flock of Israel.
Why were they "marked out for slaughter"? Either: (1) marked out by God because
of their rejection of Him, or His Son, or (2) marked out by the wicked
"shepherds" for their own pleasure, greed, etc.
THE BUYERS SLAUGHTER THEM: Poss the "buyers" (and
"slayers") represent the foreign rulers who took over the Israelites, persecuted
them, and had not paid the full penalty for their abusive treatment of them (Gen
12:3; cp Jer 50:7).
THOSE WHO SELL THEM: Those who sold the sheep were
Israel's former rulers and leaders who, by their sins, had set the people up for
divine judgment by foreigners.
PRAISE THE LORD, I AM RICH: These "sellers" benefited
by making merchandise of their "flocks", and by handing them over into the hands
of their Gentile oppressors (cp the words of Caiaphas in John
I WILL HAND EVERYONE OVER TO HIS NEIGHBOR AND HIS KING:
In the first instance, to the Babylonians. And in NT times, to Rome (cp John
Zechariah proceeded to carry out his assignment from the LORD
(v 4). He spoke as a shepherd of the sheep doomed to slaughter, the afflicted
sheep, and so represented Israel's Shepherd, Messiah. The two shepherd's staffs
that he named "Favor" ("Beauty": AV; Heb "noam" = pleasantness) and "Union"
("Bands": AV; Heb "hobhelim" = binding, unity) represented God's provisions for
the flock (cp Eze 37:15-28).
STAFFS: "The Eastern shepherd carried a rod or stout
club hewed from a tree to beat away wild beasts attacking the sheep and a
crooked staff for retrieving the sheep from difficult places [cp Psa 23:4]"
FAVOR: "Beauty" in AV: "Jesus was full of grace in
every way. We are told that his hearers 'wondered at the gracious words that
proceeded out of his mouth.' In this respect he was like the Father that sent
him, for God is the God of all grace, the Gracious God. His grace will yet be
revealed in connection with the House of God to be built as the house of prayer
for all nations; and for this David prays, when he says: 'One thing have I
desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of
the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to
inquire in his temple' (Psa 27:4). Moses appears to equate Beauty and Glory in
Psalm 90: 'Let thy work appear unto thy servants, and thy glory unto their
children; and let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us' " (PAE
IN ONE MONTH I GOT RID OF THE THREE SHEPHERDS:
Zechariah, as God's representative, did away with three shepherds that had been
leading his flock within the first month that he took charge of the sheep. These
appear to have been real shepherds and a real month.
Zechariah's action prefigured that of Messiah in taking over
the leadership of His flock from other leaders of Israel who did not appreciate
Prob the three shepherds refer to three classes of leaders,
Israel's elders, chief priests, and scribes (cp Luke 9:22 -- where Jesus
specifically names these three groups who will reject him). In this case, the
"one month" might refer to the final portion of Christ's ministry -- when all
the antagonisms of the previous times came to a head, and resulted in his
THE FLOCK DETESTED ME, AND I GREW WEARY OF THEM: The
pronouns are uncertain here. The AV has: "My soul lothed them, and their soul
also abhorred me" -- expressing the mutual loathing and antagonism between
Christ and the wicked leaders of Israel.
Zechariah, as God's representative, turned "them" over to
their fate though that meant that some of them would die, suffer annihilation,
and devour one another. The Jews did eat one another during the siege of
Jerusalem in the first century AD (Josephus, Wars of Jews 6:3:3,4), and they
will evidently do so again during the Tribulation.
Zechariah then chopped his staff "Favor" or "Beauty" into
pieces -- picturing the end of the favorable pastoral care that he had provided.
Thus he demonstrated that God was revoking the covenant promise that He would
care for His people, because they had ceased to care for Him!
AND SO THE AFFLICTED OF THE FLOCK WHO WERE WATCHING ME KNEW
IT WAS THE WORD OF THE LORD: The rejection of the Lord Jesus by the nation
of Israel led, directly and inexorably and quickly, to the breaking and
dissolution of their nation, and to their being scattered. And those who in
faith observed these things knew that -- although the people of God were
suffering -- yet God was at work still!
GIVE ME MY PAY, BUT IF NOT, KEEP IT: Since Zechariah
was terminating his protection of the flock, he asked the sheep (or their
"owners") to pay him his wages or, if they refused, to keep what they owed
SO THEY PAID ME THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER: And so he was
weighed out 30 shekels of silver as his pay. This was the price of a slave in
the ancient Near East (Exo 21:32) and, though a substantial amount, was a
pittance in view of all that the Shepherd had done for the sheep.
Their act was as shamelessly insulting as their general
reaction to His ministry as a whole had been. To offer him this wage was the
equivalent of telling the Shepherd that they could buy a common slave who would
be as useful to them as He had been. This response shows how unworthy the people
were of His solicitude.
(NT) This was, of course, the price paid to Judas for
betraying Jesus (Mat 27:3). Though quite insulting, too, it was also appropriate
-- since Jesus acted throughout as the true "slave" -- or Suffering Servant (esp
Isa 53) of Yahweh!
SO I TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER AND THREW THEM INTO
THE HOUSE OF THE LORD: A clear parallel with the actions of Judas when he
realized the enormity of his sin (Mat 27:3-12). Evidently the setting of
Zechariah's visionary allegory was the temple courtyard.
TO THE POTTER: Throwing something to the potter was
evidently a proverbial way of expressing disdain for it since potters were
typically poor and lowly craftsmen.
THE HANDSOME PRICE AT WHICH THEY PRICED ME!: This is
obviously ironical. "What! Is that ALL I'm worth!?"
"The fulfillment of this prophecy in Mat 27:3-10 is proof
enough that the money was flung down in the temple and immediately taken up by
the priests to purchase a field of a potter for a burying ground for the poor"
Matthew attributed this prophecy to Jeremiah (Mat 27:9,10).
Probably Matthew was referring to Jer 19:1-13, which he condensed using mainly
the phraseology of Zec 11:12,13 because of its similarity to Judas' situation.
Joining two quotations from two OT books and assigning them to one prophet
follows the custom of mentioning the more notable prophet. Cp Mark 1:2,3, in
which Isa 40:3 and Mal 3:1 are quoted but are assigned to Isaiah.
Zechariah then symbolically broke his second staff, "Union,"
indicating the end of the unity that bound the Jews together. Just before the
destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD the Jews broke up into parties that were very
hostile to one another. This condition accelerated their destruction by the
Romans. Evidently fighting among the Jews will also be common in the
Tribulation. The order of events is significant, and it was historical: the
breaking of God's favor on His people, their rejection of the Shepherd, and the
breaking of their unity. We know that this destruction would not be permanent,
however, because of other promises that God would reunite and restore His people
and that He would not cast them off permanently (eg, Rom 11).
"Responsibility for human chaos lies squarely on human
shoulders. God has offered men His shepherd, but they have rejected Him, to
their own irreparable loss" (Baldwin).
Vv 15-17: The appearance of the bad shepherd: "The full fate
of Israel is not recounted in the rejection of the good Shepherd God raised up
to tend them. The complete tale of woe centers in their acceptance of the bad
shepherd God will raise up to destroy them. The one dark episode centers in the
events of Messiah's first advent and death, followed by the dissolution of the
Jewish state (Zec 11:1-14). The other tragic experience will occur in the events
connected with Messiah's second advent and glory, and deals with the nation's
final time of unparalleled trouble (Zec 11:15-17) previous to her entrance into
kingdom blessing" (Unger).
V 15: The LORD next directed Zechariah to present
himself as a bad shepherd (foolish, or worthless, v 17, ie, morally deficient,
cp Pro 1:7) -- since His flock had rejected the Good Shepherd (cp Eze
Generally, cp the "false prophet" of Rev 16:13, and the
"wicked one" of 2Th 2:3-8.
FOR I AM GOING TO RAISE UP A SHEPHERD OVER THE LAND WHO
WILL NOT CARE FOR THE LOST, OR SEEK THE YOUNG, OR HEAL THE INJURED, OR FEED THE
HEALTHY, BUT WILL EAT THE MEAT OF THE CHOICE SHEEP, TEARING OFF THEIR HOOFS:
In his new role Zechariah represented one who would fail to do for the sheep all
that a good shepherd would do. Instead he would be self-serving. Israel's
preference for Barabbas over Jesus showed her willingness in the past to accept
a bad individual in place of a good one.
"When one removes 'not' from the sentence, he has an
enlightening description of a truly effective pastoral ministry in the church
today. (1) 'care for the lost...' or 'care for those in the process of being
ruined or destroyed'; (2) 'seek the young... [or] 'the scattered'; (3) 'heal the
injured,' and (4) 'feed the healthy' " (EBC).
TEARING OFF THEIR HOOFS: The avaricious shepherd is
pictured as tearing apart the bodies of the sheep -- searching for the last
edible morsel that he can extract from his charges.
WOE TO THE WORTHLESS SHEPHERD, WHO DESERTS THE FLOCK!:
Cp Jer 50:35-37.
HIS ARM: That is, right arm: as in Mat 18:7-14. In the
HIS RIGHT EYE: So Christ counsels the gouging out of
the right eye "if it offends" (Mat 5:29; 18:9).
Lesson: Avoid the sins of which Christ spoke, or else you will
become "worthless shepherds"!
"With this climactic scene the first prophetic burden
describing the first advent and rejection of Messiah, the Shepherd-King (Zec 9
-- 11) comes to a close. The way is thus opened for the second burden and the
second advent and acceptance of Messiah, the King (Zec 12 -- 14)"