The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Zechariah 13

Zec 13:1

Zec 13: The restoration of Judah: The connection between Zec 12 and Zec 13 is so close that a chapter division is really uncalled for. The same people, the same subject, and the same time are in view in both chapters. The relationship between Zec 12:10-14 and Zec 13:1-6 is not only logical but chronological as well. Once Israel is brought to a penitent condition and looks toward her crucified Messiah, then the provision of God for cleansing will be appropriate.

A FOUNTAIN WILL BE OPENED TO THE HOUSE OF DAVID AND THE INHABITANTS OF JERUSALEM, TO CLEANSE THEM FROM SIN AND IMPURITY: A fountain for the complete spiritual cleansing of the Israelites, both for their moral sins and for their ritual uncleanness (cp Eze 47). The figure of a fountain suggests abundant cleansing that would continue indefinitely. This will be the fulfillment of God's promise to forgive the sins of His people Israel in the New Covenant (Zec 3:4,9; Jer 31:34; Eze 36:25; Rom 11:26). "The blood of Jesus... cleanses us from all sin" (1Jo 1:7; cp John 4:14; 7:37-39). The cleansing is available now, but God will esp cleanse multitudes of Israelites in the future, after they turn to their Messiah in faith (Zec 12:10-14).

A FOUNTAIN... FROM IMPURITY: This suggests Num 19:17,18: the sprinkling with running water. This in turn implies the cleansing influences of the Word of God: Psa 119:9; John 15:3.

"There is a fountain filled with blood
Drawn from Emmanuel's veins;
And sinners, plunged beneath that flood,
Lose all their guilty stains.

"The dying thief rejoiced to see
That fountain in his day;
And there have I, as vile as he,
Washed all my sins away.

"Dear dying Lamb, thy precious blood
Shall never lose its power,
Till all the ransomed church of God
Be saved to sin no more.

"Ever since, by faith, I saw the stream
Thy flowing wounds supply,
Redeeming love has been my theme,
And shall be till I die"
(W Cowper).

Zec 13:2

I WILL BANISH THE NAMES OF THE IDOLS FROM THE LAND: "Name" is synonymous with power (Acts 3:6). There will be external cleansing as well as internal. The Jews would no longer ascribe supernatural powers to mere things, nor worship them as divine (cp Zec 10:2,3; Jer 23:30-32; 27:9,10; Eze 13:1 -- 14:11); surely this includes the "gods" of materialism as well (cp Col 3:5)!

I WILL REMOVE BOTH THE PROPHETS: False prophets, as is clear from the context, will not mislead the people (cp Mat 24:4,5,11,15, 23-24; 2Th 2:2-4; Rev 9:20; 13:4-15; and esp Rev 16:13).

THE SPIRIT OF IMPURITY: "Spirit" is frequently used for "teaching" or "teacher": John 6:63; 1Jo 4:1-3; 5:6; Eph 6:17; Eze 36:26. The unclean spirit need not be supernatural: whether singular or plural, it may refer to the diviners, mediums, and soothsayers who confused and afflicted the people in the past (cp, generally, Rev 20:1-3). As such, it is in contrast to the "spirit of grace and supplication" in Zec 12:10.

Zec 13:3

If anyone would try to play the part of a false prophet -- ie, teaching or preaching false doctrine in general (cp 1Co 14:3) -- then his own parents, those closest to him, would put him to death. This was what God had commanded the Israelites to do to false prophets (Deu 13:6-9). They would pierce the false prophets fatally as they had formerly pierced the Messiah fatally (Zec 12:10).

Zec 13:4

HE WILL NOT PUT ON A PROPHET'S GARMENT OF HAIR IN ORDER TO DECEIVE: The garment of hair was a distinctively prophetic one (2Ki 1:8; 2:13; Mat 3:4).

Jacob wore such a "garment" in order to deceive his father (Gen 27:16).

Zec 13:5

THE LAND HAS BEEN MY LIVELIHOOD SINCE MY YOUTH: Or "a man sold me in my youth" (NIV mg) -- suggesting a form of indentured servitude. In other words, 'I have had no time to become a false prophet!'

Zec 13:6

WHAT ARE THESE WOUNDS ON YOUR BODY?... 'THE WOUNDS I WAS GIVEN AT THE HOUSE OF MY FRIENDS': Sometimes false prophets cut themselves to arouse prophetic ecstasy, to increase ritual potency, or to identify themselves with a particular god (cp Lev 19:28; 21:5; Deu 14:1; 1Ki 18:28; Jer 16:6; 41:5; 48:37). If someone saw such marks on a false prophet's body in that future day, the false prophet might claim that he had received his injuries by accident in a friend's house.

This supposes that v 6 is a follow-up on vv 4,5. However, it may be that this verse introduces the Lord Jesus Christ. If so, then he is seen as a contrast to the false prophets of vv 4,5: his wounds -- unlike theirs -- are evidence of his status as a true prophet, moreover the Messiah: for he has truly received his wounds in the house of his "friends" (the house of Israel). Cp Psa 22:16; John 20:27. (If read in this way, then v 6 becomes a transition to v 7: "Strike the shepherd!")

Zec 13:7

Vv 7-9: The smiting of the Shepherd and the scattering of the sheep. Zechariah now returned in a poem to the subject of the Shepherd that he had mentioned in Zec 11. He also returned to the time when Israel would be scattered among the nations because of her rejection of the Good Shepherd.

AWAKE, O SWORD, AGAINST MY SHEPHERD: Yahweh personified a sword, the instrument of violent death, which He commanded to execute His Shepherd, the royal Good Shepherd of Zec 11:4-14. Yahweh further described this Shepherd as the man who was very close to Him, even His Associate.

THE MAN WHO IS CLOSE TO ME: "Geber" is "mighty man"; "hamith" is "associate, equal, relative". The expression is used elsewhere only in Lev 6:2; 18:12; it means 'near neighbour'; the shepherd is one who dwells side by side with the LORD, His relative, and in some sense His equal!

STRIKE THE SHEPHERD: In Zec 11:17 it was the worthless shepherd whom the LORD would strike, but here it is the Good Shepherd (Joh 10:1-18). The one doing the striking is evidently God Himself since "strike" is masculine in the Hebrew text and agrees with "the LORD of hosts." If so, Zechariah presented Messiah's death as God's activity (cp Isa 53:10; Acts 2:23; 4:8; Phi 2:8) as well as Israel's (Zec 12:10-14).

AND THE SHEEP WILL BE SCATTERED: The striking (death) of the Shepherd would result in the scattering of the Shepherd's sheep (ie, Israel, Zec 11:4-14). The LORD Jesus quoted this part of the verse when he anticipated the scattering of His disciples following His death (cp Mat 26:31,56; Mark 14:27,50).

I WILL TURN MY HAND AGAINST THE LITTLE ONES: "Against", or "upon". This phrase is capable of two different interpretations -- both of which have or will come to pass. Perhaps a double entendre is intended. God Himself would (will) both scatter even the young sheep BUT, eventually, He would (will) also show mercy to them (cp Mat 18:10; Mark 13:19,24; Luke 2:35; Rev 11:3-10).

Zec 13:8

Vv 8,9: The scattering of the sheep would result in two-thirds of the flock dying and one-third remaining alive. This will be the time of Jacob's trouble (Jer 30:7). The LORD would refine the surviving one-third in the fires of affliction (cp Zec 3:2; Eze 5:1-12). This remnant must be the same group of Israelites, described in Zec 12:10 -- 13:1, who would turn to God in repentance. Evidently two-thirds of the Jews will perish during the Tribulation and one-third will live through it and enter the Millennium. This surviving remnant then must include the 144,000 of Rev 7:1-8; 14:1-5. The one-third will call on the LORD's name in supplication for forgiveness (Zec 12:10). The LORD will respond to their cry by reaffirming His new covenant relationship with them, and they will agree to it (cp Eze 20:37).

Zec 13:9

SILVER... GOLD: Cp Zec 6:11.

THEY WILL CALL ON MY NAME AND I WILL ANSWER THEM: Spiritual renewal, and turning to God in Truth (Eze 6:9,10; Hos 8:10; Jer 33:3).

I WILL SAY, 'THEY ARE MY PEOPLE': Cp Jer 32:38; Eze 37:23-28; Hos 1:9,10; Isa 59:20,21; Rom 11:26,27.

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