|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:4-14 Christ came into this world for judgment to the Jewish church and nation, which were wretchedly corrupt and degenerate. Those have their minds wofully blinded, who do ill, and justify themselves in it; but God will not hold those guiltless who hold themselves so. How can we go to God to beg a blessing on unlawful methods of getting wealth, or to return thanks for success in them? There was a general decay of religion among them, and they regarded it not. The Good Shepherd would feed his flock, but his attention would chiefly be directed to the poor. As an emblem, the prophet seems to have taken two staves; Beauty, denoted the privileges of the Jewish nation, in their national covenant; the other he called Bands, denoting the harmony which hitherto united them as the flock of God. But they chose to cleave to false teachers. The carnal mind and the friendship of the world are enmity to God; and God hates all the workers of iniquity: it is easy to foresee what this will end in. The prophet demanded wages, or a reward, and received thirty pieces of silver. By Divine direction he cast it to the potter, as in disdain for the smallness of the sum. This shadowed forth the bargain of Judas to betray Christ, and the final method of applying it. Nothing ruins a people so certainly, as weakening the brotherhood among them. This follows the dissolving of the covenant between God and them: when sin abounds, love waxes cold, and civil contests follow. No wonder if those fall out among themselves, who have provoked God to fall out with them. Wilful contempt of Christ is the great cause of men's ruin. And if professors rightly valued Christ, they would not contend about little matters.
Verse 5. - Possessors; or, buyers. Those who claimed to be owners by right of purchase. Hold themselves not guilty. They are so blinded by self-interest that they see no sin in thus treating the flock. But the expression is better rendered, bear no blame, i.e. suffer no penalty, commit this wickedness with impunity. Septuagint, "repent not;" Vulgate, non dolebant, which Jerome explains, "did not suffer for it." Blessed be the Lord. So little compunction do they feel that they actually thank God for their ill-gotten gains. The prophet is speaking of chiefs and rulers, civil and ecclesiastical, who played into the enemies' hands, and thought of nothing but how to make a gain of the subject people. Our Lord denounces such untrustworthy shepherds (John 10:11-13). Doubtless, too, the expressions in the text refer to the foreign powers which had oppressed the Jews at various times, Egypt, Assyria, etc. Amid all such distresses, from whatever cause, God still had tender care for his people, and punished and will punish their enemies. In this verse the offenders against Israel are of three classes - buyers, sellers, shepherds (see ver. 8). "Shepherd" appears sometimes in the Assyrian inscriptions as a synonym for "prince" (see Schrader, 'Keilinschr.,' p. 453) :
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty,.... Not the Romans after Christ came, into whose hands they were delivered, and by whom they were slain in great numbers, not accounting it any sin to put them to death; but the priests, Scribes, Pharisees, and doctors, among the Jews, who ruined and destroyed their souls, by feeding them with poisonous doctrines; teaching them the commandments of men, and to observe the traditions of the elders; and to seek for life and salvation by the works of the law, which was a ministration of condemnation and death to them; and yet thought they did God and the souls of men good service:
and they that sell them; as false teachers make merchandise of the souls of men:
say, Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich; having devoured widows' houses and substances, under a pretence of long prayers; and enriched themselves through tithes of everything, and by other methods; as the Scribes and Pharisees did:
and their own shepherds pity them not; those who should have been concerned for the welfare of their souls had no compassion on them. Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech, interpret this of God, the Shepherd of Israel; the verb being singular, though the noun is plural: so God is called Makers, Creators, Psalm 149:2 and this sense agrees with the following words.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
5. possessors—The buyers [Maurer], their Roman oppressors, contrasted with "they that sell men." The instruments of God's righteous judgment, and therefore "not holding themselves guilty" (Jer 50:7). 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—(Compare Zec 11:12). The rulers of Judah, who by their avaricious rapacity and selfishness (Joh 11:48, 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 thirty pieces of silver. They thought that Jesus was thus sold and their 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."
I am rich—by selling the sheep (De 29:19; Ho 12:8). In short-sighted selfishness they thought they had gained their object, covetous self-aggrandizement (Lu 16:14), and hypocritically "thanked" God for their wicked gain (compare Lu 18:11).
say … pity—In Hebrew it is singular: that is, each of those that sell them saith: Not one of their own shepherds pitieth them. An emphatical mode of expression by which each individual is represented as doing, or not doing, the action of the verb [Henderson]. Hengstenberg refers the singular verbs to Jehovah, the true actor; the wicked shepherds being His unconscious instruments. Compare Zec 11:6, For I will no more pity, with the Hebrew "pitieth not" here.
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