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Bible Commentaries

John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible

Zechariah 11

 

 

Verses 1-17


The Parable of the Shepherds

The perplexing nature of the prophecies in this chapter renders exposition difficult, especially as we cannot be sure of the circumstances. Apparently, however, the passage deals with misrule in Jerusalem, either of worthless high priests, or of cruel foreign rulers, or of both, who are spoken of as shepherds: see Intro.

1-3. Another storm of war bursts apparently over northern Israel.

4-14. The people reject their good ruler, and the prophet acts the part of a good shepherd tending the flock and defending it, but is held in contempt by the people.

15-17. The prophet at God's command assumes the garb and insignia of a worthless shepherd, to signify that God will give them into the hand of a cruel and careless ruler. To this most scholars add, as a continuation, Zechariah 13:7-9. The bad ruler will speedily perish. Twothirds of the people will die, but a remnant will be saved.

1. Open thy doors, O Lebanon] Make way for the invaders.

2. Forest of the vintage] better, 'the impenetrable forest.' Mighty] RV 'goodly ones,' i.e. nobles; but the phrase is doubtful and spoils the whole thought of the passage. Some omit it.

3. The pride of Jordan] the rank undergrowth where lions had their home: cp. Jeremiah 49:19, where 'swelling' is really 'thickets.'

4. Flock of the slaughter] RV 'flock of slaughter.' i.e. destined or reared for slaughter. This might point to the cruel oppressions and martyrdoms in the times of the Maccabees.

5, 6. According to some views the possessors (RM 'buyers') are those ethnarchs and high priests in Jerusalem who were merely puppets of the Seleucid sovereigns. The latter farmed out the high offices to the highest bidder, who in turn oppressed the people by fraud and extortion.

7. The prophet takes up the office of shepherd (cp. Jeremiah 25:1; Ezekiel 3, 4), but finds his task too difficult. He pities the poor oppressed people, but feels, at the same time, that they are so ignorant of their own good as to be unable to appreciate a beneficent ruler. But see 12:21. Beauty] better, 'Favour,' a symbol of God's protecting care. Bands] i.e. 'unity,' a symbol of His desire to make peace among the people. 8. This is an allusion to some event of the time, of which nothing is now known.

9. The good shepherd leaves the flock. According to a recent view the good shepherd, who in despair abandoned the flock, was Hyrcanus, the son of Joseph (see Jos. 'Ant.'

12. 4), who may have been paid to leave Jerusalem (Zechariah 11:12-13), but at a price so small that he threw it into the treasury in disgust.

10. The prophet declares that God has broken His covenant of mercy with Israel.

People] better, 'nation,' i.e. Israel regarded as tribes.

11. The poor of the flock] those wretched ones whom the prophet had been trying specially to instruct and help. But perhaps we should read, 'the dealers in the sheep.'

12. The prophet, personating a hired shepherd, asks for his wages, in order to see what value they put upon his services. His hearers insult him by offering him the price of a slave (Exodus 21:32).

13. Unto the potter] better, 'into the treasury' (see RM), by the change of one letter in the Heb. A goodly price that I was prised at of them] a sarcastic parenthesis. St. Matthew applies the incident to the case of Judas Iscariot (see Matthew 27:9), but refers it to Jeremiah.

14. The last hope of uniting broken and distracted Israel vanishes. The prophet abandons his task in despair.

15. Instead he will personate a worthless ruler who will tear and destroy the sheep. According to some this worthless shepherd was Menelaus, a high priest whose rivalry with Jason, also a claimant for the priesthood, brought about the great oppression of the Jews by Antiochus Epiphanes, 171 b.c. In that case the good shepherd in Zechariah 13:7-9 may refer in the first instance to Jason, who represented the patriotic, as Menelaus represented the foreign, party. Jason, however, was in sympathy with foreign fashions, and he ultimately died in exile. On the other hand, Hyrcanus may be intended.

16. Claws] RV 'hoofs.' The idea is the cracking of the hoofs of the sheep by being overdriven.

17. Idol] RV 'worthless.' The word is used of idols, because of their worthlessness: cp. John 10:12, John 10:13.

Zechariah 13:7-9. My fellow] one who has the same interests. Smite the shepherd] cp. 1 Kings 22:17, and the most fitting application of the words to our Lord (Matthew 26:31). The whole section (Zechariah 11, Zechariah 13:7-9) would most fittingly apply to the year 171 b.c., when Menelaus, with the aid of Antiochus Epiphanes, king of Syria, usurped the high priesthood in Jerusalem and Jason was expelled. Feuds and bloodshed followed, culminating in a terrible massacre, and the deportation of thousands of Jews by Antiochus. The third] i.e. a remnant.

 


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Bibliography Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Zechariah 11:4". "John Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/dcb/zechariah-11.html. 1909.

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