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.
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Zechariah 11:10-11. And I took my staff, even Beauty — Or, pleasantness, or delight. See note on Zechariah 11:7 : emblematical, as of God’s favour, gentleness, or kindness to his people, and of the honour and privilege which they possessed in his oracles, instituted worship, and temple; so especially of God’s covenant with them, and all the blessings of it. And cut it asunder — To signify that, as they had rejected God and his favour, and refused to comply with the terms of his covenant, so that God had now annulled it, and rendered it utterly void. That I might break my covenant — This, in some measure, illustrates what is meant by the staff Beauty. While it was unbroken, the covenant between God and the Jews was whole and unbroken. And it is to be observed, Christ calls it his covenant, for he was the mediator of it: namely, to bring us to God in repentance, faith, and holy obedience; and to reconcile God to us in mercy and grace. Which I had made with all the people — Hebrew, כל עמים, literally, all people, that is, all the tribes of Israel; and all other people that, by being proselyted to their religion, were incorporated into their nation. The Jewish Church is thus represented as being now stripped of all its glory, its crown profaned and cast to the ground, and all its honour laid in the dust, God being departed from it, and resolved no more to own it for his church. When Christ told the Jews that the kingdom of God should be taken from them, and given to another people, then he broke the staff of Beauty, Matthew 21:43. And it was broken in that day, though Jerusalem and the Jewish people were spared yet forty years longer; and though the great men did not, or would not, understand Christ’s words uttered on that occasion as a divine sentence, but thought to put it by with a cold, God forbid, Luke 20:16. Yet the poor of the flock, that waited upon him — Namely, who knew the Messiah, believed in him, observed his doctrine, miracles, and life, and obeyed him; who understood with what authority he spoke, and could distinguish the voice of their shepherd from that of a stranger; knew that he was the word of the Lord — Saw and acknowledged God in all this, trembled at his word, and were confident that it would not fall to the ground.

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.And I took my staff Beauty, and cut it asunder - Not, as aforetime, did He chasten His people, retaining His relation to them: for such chastening is an austere form of love. By breaking the staff of His tender love, He signified that this relation was at an end.

That I might dissolve My covenant which I had made with all the people - Rather, "with all the peoples," that is, with all nations. Often as it is said of Israel, that they brake the covenant of God Leviticus 26:15; Deuteronomy 31:16, Deuteronomy 31:20; Isaiah 24:5; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 31:32; Ezekiel 16:59; Ezekiel 44:7, it is spoken of God, only to deny that He would break it (Leviticus 26:44; Judges 2:1, and, strongly, Jeremiah 33:20-21), or in prayer that He would not Jeremiah 14:21. Here it is not absolutely the covenant with His whole people, which He brake; it is rather, so to speak, a covenant with the nations in favor of Israel, allowing thus much and forbidding more, with regard to His people. So God had said of the times of Christ; "In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and with the fowls of the heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground" (Hosea 2:18, (20, Hebrew)); and, "I will make with them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land" Ezekiel 34:25; and in Job "thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field, and the beasts of' the field shall be at peace with thee" Job 5:23. This covenant He willed to annihilate. He would no more interpose, as He had before said, "I will not deliver from their hand" Zechariah 11:6. whoever would might do, what they would, as the Romans first, and well nigh all nations since, have inflicted on the Jews, what they willed; and Mohammedans too have requited to them their contumely to Jesus.

10. covenant which I made with all the people—The covenant made with the whole nation is to hold good no more except to the elect remnant. This is the force of the clause, not as Maurer, and others translate. The covenant which I made with all the nations (not to hurt My elect people, Ho 2:18). But the Hebrew is the term for the elect people (Ammim), not that for the Gentile nations (Goiim). The Hebrew plural expresses the great numbers of the Israelite people formerly (1Ki 4:20). The article is, in the Hebrew, all the or those peoples. His cutting asunder the staff "Beauty," implies the setting aside of the outward symbols of the Jews distinguishing excellency above the Gentiles (see on [1188]Zec 11:7) as God's own people. And I took my staff, even Beauty; which I gave that name to, which was the beauty and glory of them, the covenant of God with all the blessings of it, his presence with them, his love to them, and his protection of them, and his blessing on them.

That I might break my covenant; signify and declare that they had rejected God and his favour, and refused his covenant, and that now God would hold it for nulled, and not obligatory to him. This somewhat illustrates the staff Beauty, which while unbroken the covenant between God and the Jews was whole and unbroken; and it is to be noted, Christ calls it his covenant, for he was the Mediator of it, to bring us to God in duty and holy walking, and to reconcile God to us in mercy and grace, which is the most beautiful and sweetest object we can see.

Which I had made with all the people: here again

all the people, that is, the generality, in distinction to the poor and meek, the little remnant, with whom the covenant stood firm, though the body of the nation were rejected and cast off, for God nor Christ have either of them ever cast away his people whom he foreknew, Romans 11:1,2.

And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder,.... Signifying that he dropped his pastoral care of them: the Gospel indeed, which is meant by the staff "Beauty", cannot be made void; it will have its designed effect; it is the everlasting Gospel, and will endure; its blessings, promises, doctrines, ordinances, and ministers, shall continue, till all the elect are gathered in, even unto the second coming of Christ: but then it may be removed from one place to another; it may be taken from one people, and given to another; and which is generally owing to contempt of it, unfruitfulness under it, and indifference to it; and this is the case here, it designs the taking away of the Gospel from the Jews, who despised it, and the carrying of it into the Gentile world; see Matthew 21:43,

that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people; not the covenant of works, that was made with all mankind in Adam; that was broke, not by the Lord, but by man; and was broke before the Gospel was published; nor the covenant of grace, for this was not made with all the people, nor can it be broken; but the Mosaic economy, the Sinai covenant, called the old covenant, which gradually vanished away: it was of right abolished at the death of Christ; when the Gospel was entirely removed, it more appeared to be so; and this was thoroughly done at the destruction of the city and temple. The last clause may be rendered, "which" covenant "I have made with all the people"; the Gentiles, having promised and given orders to send the Gospel unto them, which was accordingly done.

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.
10. the people] Lit. the peoples. This may mean either (1) the nations of the earth, in which case the sense will be that the prosperity which the shepherd on assuming office had guaranteed to the flock, and of which his staff “Beauty” was the symbol, was assured to them by a covenant, so to speak, into which he had entered with all nations not to molest them (comp. Hosea 2:18; Job 5:23): or (2) the tribes of Israel, in which sense the word is used Deuteronomy 33:3; Hosea 10:14.

Verse 10. - Cut it asunder. The breaking of the staff "Beauty" indicates that God withdraws his grace and protection; he will no longer shield the people from the attack of foes, as the following words express. My covenant which I had made with all the people; rather, with all the peoples. God calls the restriction which he had laid on foreign nations to prevent them from afflicting Israel, "a covenant." Similar "covenants," i.e. restraints imposed by God, are found in Job 5:23; Hosea 2:20 (Hosea 2:18, Authorized Version); Ezekiel 34:25, etc. The restraint being removed, there ensued war, exile, the destruction of the kingdom and theocracy, the subjection of Israel to Gentile nations. Zechariah 11:10From Zechariah 11:7 onwards the feeding of the flock is described. Zechariah 11:7. "And I fed the slaughtering flock, therewith the wretched ones of the sheep, and took to myself two staves: the one I called Favour, the other I called Bands; and so I fed the flock. Zechariah 11:8. And I destroyed three of the shepherds in one month." The difficult expression לכן, of which very different renderings have been given (lit., with the so-being), is evidently used here in the same sense as in Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 61:7; Jeremiah 2:33, etc., so as to introduce what occurred eo ipso along with the other event which took place. When the shepherd fed the slaughtering flock, he thereby, or at the same time, fed the wretched ones of the sheep. עניּי הצּאן, not the most wretched of the sheep, but the wretched ones among the sheep, like צעירי הצּאן in Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 50:45, the small, weak sheep. עניּי הצּאן therefore form one portion of the צאן ההרגה, as Hofmann and Kliefoth have correctly explained; whereas, if they were identical, the whole of the appended clause would be very tautological, since the thought that the flock was in a miserable state was already expressed clearly enough in the predicate הרגה, and the explanation of it in Zechariah 11:5. This view is confirmed by Zechariah 11:11, where עניּי הצּאן is generally admitted to be simply one portion of the flock. To feed the flock, the prophet takes two shepherds' staves, to which he gives names, intended to point to the blessings which the flock receives through his pastoral activity. The fact that he takes two staves does not arise from the circumstance that the flock consists of two portions, and cannot be understood as signifying that he feeds one portion of the flock with the one staff, and the other portion with the other. According to Zechariah 11:7, he feeds the whole flock with the first staff; and the destruction to which, according to Zechariah 11:9, it is to be given up when he relinquishes his office, is only made fully apparent when the two staves are broken. The prophet takes two staves for the simple purpose of setting forth the double kind of salvation which is bestowed upon the nation through the care of the good shepherd. The first staff he calls נעם, i.e., loveliness, and also favour (cf. Psalm 90:17, נעם יהוה). It is in the latter sense that the word is used here; for the shepherd's staff shows what Jehovah will thereby bestow upon His people. The second staff he calls חובלים, which is in any case a kal participle of חבל fo elpic. Of the two certain meanings which this verb has in the kal, viz., to bind (hence chebhel, a cord or rope) and to ill-treat (cf. Job 34:31), the second, upon which the rendering staff-woe is founded, does not suit the explanation which is given in Zechariah 11:14 of the breaking of this staff. The first is the only suitable one, viz., the binding ones, equivalent to the bandage or connection. Through the staff nō‛am (Favour), the favour of God, which protects it from being injured by the heathen nations, is granted to the flock (Zechariah 11:10); and through the staff chōbhelı̄m the wretched sheep receive the blessing of fraternal unity or binding (Zechariah 11:14). The repetition of the words וארעה את־הצּאן (end of Zechariah 11:7) expresses the idea that the feeding is effected with both staves. The first thing which the shepherd appointed by God does for the flock is, according to Zechariah 11:8, to destroy three shepherds. הכחיד, the hiphil of כּחד, signifies ἀφανίζειν, to annihilate, to destroy (as in Exodus 23:23).

את־שׁלשׁת הרעים may be rendered, the three shepherds (τοὺς τρεῖς ποιμένας, lxx), or three of the shepherds, so that the article only refers to the genitive, as in Exodus 26:3, Exodus 26:9; Joshua 17:11; 1 Samuel 20:20; Isaiah 30:26, and as is also frequently the case when two nouns are connected together in the construct state (see Ges. 111, Anm.). We agree with Koehler in regarding the latter as the only admissible rendering here, because in what precedes shepherds only have been spoken of, and not any definite number of them. The shepherds, of whom three are destroyed, are those who strangled the flock according to Zechariah 11:5, and who are therefore destroyed in order to liberate the flock from their tyranny. But who are these three shepherds? It was a very widespread and ancient opinion, and one which we meet with in Theodoret, Cyril, and Jerome, that the three classes of Jewish rulers are intended, - namely, princes (or kings), priests, and prophets. But apart from the fact that in the times after the captivity, to which our prophecy refers, prophesying and the prophetic office were extinct, and that in the vision in Zechariah 4:14 Zechariah only mentions two classes in the covenant nation who were represented by the prince Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua; apart, I say, from this, such a view is irreconcilable with the words themselves, inasmuch as it requires us to dilute the destruction into a deposition from office, or, strictly speaking, into a counteraction of their influence upon the people; and this is quite sufficient to overthrow it. What Hengstenberg says in vindication of it - namely, that "an actual extermination cannot be intended, because the shepherds appear immediately afterwards as still in existence" - is founded upon a false interpretation of the second half of the verse. So much is unquestionably correct, that we have not to think of the extermination or slaying of three particular individuals,

(Note: The attempts of rationalistic commentators to prove that the three shepherds are three kings of the kingdom of the ten tribes, have completely broken down, inasmuch as of the kings Zechariah, Shallu, and Menahem (2 Kings 15:8-14), Shallum alone reigned an entire month, so that not even the ungrammatical explanation of Hitzig, to the effect that בּירח אחד refers to the reign of these kings, and not to their destruction, furnishes a sufficient loophole; whilst Maurer, Bleek, Ewald, and Bunsen felt driven to invent a third king or usurper, in order to carry out their view.)

and that not so much because it cannot be shown that three rulers or heads of the nation were ever destroyed in the space of a month, either in the times before the captivity or in those which followed, as because the persons occurring in this vision are not individuals, but classes of men. As the רעים mentioned in Zechariah 11:5 as not sparing the flock are to be understood as signifying heathen rulers, so here the three shepherds are heathen liege-lords of the covenant nation. Moreover, as it is unanimously acknowledged by modern commentators that the definite number does not stand for an indefinite plurality, it is natural to think of the three imperial rulers into whose power Israel fell, that is to say, not of three rulers of one empire, but of the rulers of the three empires. The statement as to time, "in one month," which does not affirm that the three were shepherds within one month, as Hitzig supposes, but that the three shepherds were destroyed in one month, may easily be reconciled with this, if we only observe that, in a symbolical transaction, even the distinctions of time are intended to be interpreted symbolically. There can be no doubt whatever that "a month" signifies a comparatively brief space of time. At the same time, it is equally impossible to deny that the assumption that "in a month" is but another way of saying in a very short time, is not satisfactory, inasmuch as it would have been better to say "in a week," if this had been the meaning; and, on the other hand, a year would not have been a long time for the extermination of three shepherds. Nor can Hofmann's view be sustained, - namely, that the one month ( equals 30 days) is to be interpreted on the basis of Daniel 9:24, as a prophetical period of 30 x 7 equals 120 years, and that this definition of the time refers to the fact that the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Macedonian empires were destroyed within a period of 210 years. For there is no tenable ground for calculating the days of a month according to sabbatical periods, since there is no connection between the yerach of this verse and the שׁבעים of Daniel, to say nothing of the fact that the time which intervened between the conquest of Babylon and the death of Alexander the Great was not 210 years, but 215. The only way in which the expression "in one month" can be interpreted symbolically is that proposed by Kliefoth and Koehler, - namely, by dividing the month as a period of thirty days into three times ten days according to the number of the shepherds, and taking each ten days as the time employed in the destruction of a shepherd. Ten is the number of the completion or the perfection of any earthly act or occurrence. If, therefore, each shepherd was destroyed in ten days, and the destruction of the three was executed in a month, i.e., within a space of three times ten days following one another, the fact is indicated, on the one hand, that the destruction of each of these shepherds followed directly upon that of the other; and, on the other hand, that this took place after the full time allotted for his rule had passed away. The reason why the prophet does not say three times ten days, nor even thirty days, but connects the thirty days together into a month, is that he wishes not only to indicate that the time allotted for the duration of the three imperial monarchies is a brief one, but also to exhibit the unwearied activity of the shepherd, which is done more clearly by the expression "one month" than by "thirty days."

The description of the shepherd's activity is followed, from Zechariah 11:8 onwards, by a description of the attitude which the flock assumed in relation to the service performed on its behalf. Zechariah 11:8. "And my soul became impatient over them, and their soul also became weary of me. Zechariah 11:9. Then I said, I will not feed you any more; what dieth may die, and what perisheth may perish; and those which remain may devour one another's flesh. Zechariah 11:10. And I took my staff Favour, and broke it in pieces, to destroy my covenant which I had made with all nations. Zechariah 11:11. And it was destroyed in that day; and so the wretched of the sheep, which gave heed to me, perceived that it was the word of Jehovah." The way in which Zechariah 11:8 and Zechariah 11:8 are connected in the Masoretic text, has led the earlier commentators, and even Hengstenberg, Ebrard, and Kliefoth, to take the statement in Zechariah 11:8 as also referring to the shepherds. But this is grammatically impossible, because the imperfect c. Vav. sonec. ותּקצר in this connection, in which the same verbal forms both before and after express the sequence both of time and thought, cannot be used in the sense of the pluperfect. And this is the sense in which it must be taken, if the words referred to the shepherds, because the prophet's becoming impatient with the shepherds, and the shepherds' dislike to the prophet, must of necessity have preceded the destruction of the shepherds. Again, it is evident from Zechariah 11:9, as even Hitzig admits, that the prophet "did not become disgusted with the three shepherds, but with his flock, which he resolved in his displeasure to leave to its fate." As the suffix אתכם in Zechariah 11:9 is taken by all the commentators (except Kliefoth) as referring to the flock, the suffixes בּהם and נפשׁם in Zechariah 11:8 must also point back to the flock (הצּאן, Zechariah 11:7). קצרה נפשׁ, to become impatient, as in Numbers 21:4. בּחך, which only occurs again in Proverbs 20:21 in the sense of the Arabic bchl, to be covetous, is used here in the sense of the Syriac, to experience vexation or disgust. In consequence of the experience which the shepherd of the Lord had had, according to Zechariah 11:8, he resolves to give up the feeding of the flock, and relinquish it to its fate, which is described in Zechariah 11:9 as that of perishing and destroying one another. The participles מתה, נכחדת, and נשׁארות are present participles, that which dies is destroyed (perishes) and remains; and the imperfects תּמוּת, תּכּחד, and תּאכלנה are not jussive, as the form תּמוּת clearly proves, but are expressive of that which can be or may happen (Ewald, 136, d, b).

As a sign of this, the shepherd breaks one staff in pieces, viz., the nō‛am, to intimate that the good which the flock has hitherto received through this staff will be henceforth withdrawn from it; that is to say, that the covenant which God has made with all nations is to be repealed or destroyed. This covenant is not the covenant made with Noah as the progenitor of all men after the flood (Kliefoth), nor a relation entered into by Jehovah with all the nationalities under which each nationality prospered, inasmuch as the shepherd continued again and again to remove its flock-destroying shepherds out of the way (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, p. 607). For in the covenant with Noah, although the continuance of this earth was promised, and the assurance given that there should be no repetition of a flood to destroy all living things, there was no guarantee of protection from death or destruction, or from civil wars; and history has no record of any covenant made by Jehovah with the nationalities, which secured to the nations prosperity on the one hand, or deliverance from oppressors on the other. The covenant made by God with all nations refers, according to the context of this passage, to a treaty made with them by God in favour of His flock the nation of Israel, and is analogous to the treaty made by God with the beasts, according to Hosea 2:20, that they should not injure His people, and the treaty made with the stones and the beasts of the field (Job 5:23, cf. Ezekiel 34:25). This covenant consisted in the fact that God imposed upon the nations of the earth the obligation not to hurt Israel or destroy it, and was one consequence of the favour of Jehovah towards His people. Through the abrogation of this covenant Israel is delivered up to the nations, that they may be able to deal with Israel again in the manner depicted in Zechariah 11:5. It is true that Israel is not thereby delivered up at once or immediately to that self-immolation which is threatened in Zechariah 11:9, nor is this threat carried into effect through the breaking in pieces of one staff, but is only to be fully realized when the second staff is broken, whereby the shepherd entirely relinquishes the feeding of the flock. So long as the shepherd continues to feed the flock with the other staff, so long will utter destruction be averted from it, although by the breaking of the staff Favour, protection against the nations of the world is withdrawn from it. Zechariah 11:11. From the abrogation of this covenant the wretched among the sheep perceived that this was Jehovah's word. כּן, so, i.e., in consequence of this. The wretched sheep are characterized as השּׁמרים אתי, "those which give heed to me." אתי refers to the prophet, who acts in the name of God, and therefore really to the act of God Himself, What is affirmed does not apply to one portion, but to all, עניּי הצּאן, and proves that we are to understand by these the members of the covenant nation who give heed to the word of God. What these godly men recognised as the word of Jehovah, is evident from the context, viz., not merely the threat expressed in Zechariah 11:9, and embodied in the breaking of the staff Favour, but generally speaking the whole of the prophet's symbolical actions, including both the feeding of the flock with the staves, and the breaking of the one staff. The two together were an embodied word of Jehovah; and the fact that it was so was discerned, i.e., discovered by the righteous, from the effect produced upon Israel by the breaking of the staff Favour, i.e., from the consequences of the removal of the obligation imposed upon the heathen nations to do no hurt to Israel.

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