Zechariah 11:12
And I said to them, If you think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
Zechariah 11:12-13. And I said unto them — Namely, upon parting. The prophet, still personating Christ, or acting as a type of him, reminds the Jews of his concern for their welfare, the care he had taken of them, and the labour he had bestowed on instructing them; and refers it to them whether his services had not deserved some reward, and, if they had, what that reward ought to be; saying, If ye think good, give me my price — Or rather, my wages or hire of service, as the word שׂכרundoubtedly signifies; and if not, forbear — If you dismiss me without wages I shall be content. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver — That is, as is supposed, thirty shekels, of the value of about 2 Samuel 4 d. each, which was the price of a slave. This showed how little they regarded him, or his labours; that is, how little value the Jews would put on the ministry of Christ; or on his labours and sufferings for their salvation. For, according to St. Matthew 26:15; Matthew 27:9, this symbolical action was fulfilled when the chief priests and elders of the Jews paid that sum to Judas for betraying Christ to them, and putting his life in their power. And the Lord said unto me — Unto the prophet, personating Christ; Cast it unto the potter — Hereby intimating that it was a reward only suitable to a potter’s labour, and a price only adequate for such wares as he sold, which were of the meanest value. A goodly price that I was prized at of them — Thus the prophet ironically remarks on the high estimation in which he and his services were holden: or rather, God here upbraids the shepherds of his people, who prized the great Shepherd no higher. And I cast them to the potter, &c. — Or, cast them into the house of the Lord for the potter: I cast them back into the treasury in the temple, whence afterward they were taken, and laid out in purchasing the potter’s field. This whole transaction, performed by Zechariah in a vision, as Lowth, Doddridge, and many other interpreters suppose, or, as others think, in reality; “was designed to be an exact representation of the several circumstances that should attend the betraying of Christ by Judas, the price the chief priests would put upon him, (to whom, as the governors of the temple, the money was returned,) and the use to which the money would be applied. And this whole prophetic scene was transacted in the single person of Zechariah, just as Ezekiel sustained the type or figure both of the Chaldean army that should besiege Jerusalem, and of the Jews themselves that should be besieged, Ezekiel 4:1-12.” So Lowth, who adds, “This is one of those prophecies whose literal sense is fulfilled in our blessed Saviour, and cannot be applied to any other person but in a very remote or improper sense.” The like instances may be seen Psalm 22:16-18; Psalm 69:21; Hosea 11:1. The Jews themselves have expounded this prophecy of the Messiah. “There can be no doubt,” says Blayney, “that this is the passage referred to Matthew 27:9, though under the name of Jeremiah, (put by mistake of some transcriber of St. Matthew’s gospel,) instead of Zechariah. But a question arises, how the transaction related by the evangelist can be said to be a fulfilling of that which was spoken by the prophet, considering the striking difference in some of the circumstances. In the one case, thirty pieces of silver were given as wages for service; in the other, they were paid as the price of a man’s blood: in the one they were thrown with contempt to the potter; in the other, they were cast down in the temple in a fit of remorse, and taken up by others, who employed them in the purchase of the potter’s field. But notwithstanding these differences, considering that all passed under the special direction of Divine Providence, it is impossible not to conclude, from a review of both transactions, that there was a designed allusion of the one to the other, and not a mere accidental resemblance between them. But the quotation, it is said, is not just: for no such words are to be found in the prophet, which the evangelist hath pretended to cite from him. To this it may be answered, that though not the precise words, the substance of them is given, so that the passages are at least equivalent,” as a collation of them in the original will show: see the note on Matthew 27:9.11:4-14 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 said unto them, If ye think good, give Me My price - God asks of us a return, not having any proportion to His gifts of nature or of grace, but such as we can render. He took the Jews out of the whole human race, made them His own, "a peculiar people," freed them from "the bondage and the iron furnace of Egypt," gave them "the land flowing with milk and honey," fed and guarded them by His Providence, taught them by His prophets. He, the Lord and Creator of all, was willing to have them alone for His inheritance, and, in return, asked them to love Him with their whole heart, and to do what He commanded them. "He sent His servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of the vineyard; and the husbandmen took His servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another. Last of all, He sent unto them His Son" Matthew 21:34-37, to ask for those fruits, the return for all His bounteous care and His unwearied acts of power and love. o "Give Me," He would say, "some fruits of piety, and tokens of faith."

Osorius: "What? Does He speak of a price? Did the Lord of all let out His toil? Did He bargain with those, for whom he expended it for a certain price? He did. He condescended to serve day and night for our salvation and dignity; and as one hired, in view of the reward which He set before Him, to give all His care to adorn and sustain our condition. So He complains by Isaiah, that He had undergone great toil to do away our sins. But what reward did He require? Faith and the will of a faithful heart, that thereby we might attain the gift of righteousness, and might in holy works pant after everlasting glory. For He needeth not our goods; but He so bestoweth on us all things, as to esteem His labor amply paid, if He see us enjoy His gifts. But tie so asketh for this as a reward, as to leave us free, either by faith and the love due, to embrace His benefits, or faithlessly to reject it. This is His meaning, when He saith,"

And if not, forbear - God does not force our free-will, or constrain our service. He places life and death before us, and bids us choose life. By His grace alone we can choose Him; but we can refuse His grace and Himself. "Thou shalt say unto them," He says to Ezekiel, "Thus saith the Lord God, He that heareth, let him hear, and he that forbeareth, let him forbear" (Ezekiel 3:27; add Ezekiel 2:5, Ezekiel 2:7; Ezekiel 3:11). This was said to them, as a people, the last offer of grace. It gathered into one all the past. As Elijah had said, "If the Lord be God, follow Him; but if Baal, then follow him" 1 Kings 18:21; so He bids them, at last to choose openly, whose they would be, to whom they would give their service; and if they would refuse in heart, to refuse in act also. "Forbear," cease, leave off, abandon; and that forever.

So they weighed for My price thirty pieces of silver - The price of a slave, gored to death by an ox Exodus 21:32. Whence one of themselves says, o, "you will find that a freeman is valued, more or less, at 60 shekels, but a slave at thirty." He then, whom the prophet represented, was to be valued at "thirty pieces of silver." It was but an increase of the contumely, that this contemptuous price was given, not to Him, but for Him, the Price of His Blood. It was matter of bargain. "Judas said, What will ye give me, and I will deliver Him unto you?" Matthew 26:15. The high priest, knowingly or unknowingly, fixed on the price, named by Zechariah. As they took into their mouths willingly the blasphemy mentioned in the Psalm; "they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted in the Lord, that He would deliver Him; let Him deliver Him, seeing that He delighted in Him" Psalm 22:7-8; so perhaps they fixed on the "thirty pieces of silver," because Zechariah had named them as a sum offered in contumely to him, who offered to be a shepherd and asked for his reward.

12. I said—The prophet here represents the person of Jehovah-Messiah.

If ye think good—literally, "If it be good in your eyes." Glancing at their self-sufficient pride in not deigning to give Him that return which His great love in coming down to them from heaven merited, namely, their love and obedience. "My price"; my reward for pastoral care, both during the whole of Israel's history from the Exodus, and especially the three and a half years of Messiah's ministry. He speaks as their "servant," which He was to them in order to fulfil the Father's will (Php 2:7).

if not, forbear—They withheld that which He sought as His only reward, their love; yet He will not force them, but leave His cause with God (Isa 49:4, 5). Compare the type Jacob cheated of his wages by Laban, but leaving his cause in the hands of God (Ge 31:41, 42).

So … thirty pieces of silver—thirty shekels. They not only refused Him His due, but added insult to injury by giving for Him the price of a gored bond-servant (Ex 21:32; Mt 26:15). A freeman was rated at twice that sum.

And I said unto them; upon parting, Christ seems after the manner of men to mind them of his pains and care for them, and would have them reckon with him.

If ye think good: he puts it to them whether they thought he deserved aught at their hands, and what it was.

Give me my price; though I need not your money or pay, I deserve more than you will give, and therefore do in this as liketh you.

So they, the rulers of the Jews, the high priest, chief priests, and Pharisees,

weighed, which was the manner of paying money in those days,

thirty pieces of silver; which amounts to thirty-seven shillings and sixpence, the value of the life of a slave, Exodus 21:32: this was fulfilled when they paid Judas Iscariot so much to betray Christ, Matthew 26:15 27:9.

And I said unto them; upon parting, Christ seems after the manner of men to mind them of his pains and care for them, and would have them reckon with him.

If ye think good: he puts it to them whether they thought he deserved aught at their hands, and what it was.

Give me my price; though I need not your money or pay, I deserve more than you will give, and therefore do in this as liketh you.

So they, the rulers of the Jews, the high priest, chief priests, and Pharisees,

weighed, which was the manner of paying money in those days,

thirty pieces of silver; which amounts to thirty-seven shillings and sixpence, the value of the life of a slave, Exodus 21:32: this was fulfilled when they paid Judas Iscariot so much to betray Christ, Matthew 26:15 27:9. And I said unto them, If ye think good,.... Not to the poor of the flock that waited on him, and knew the word of the Lord, and valued it; but to the other Jews that despised Christ and his Gospel:

give me my price; or, "give my price" (i); what I am valued at by you, to Judas the betrayer: or the price due unto him for feeding the flock, such as faith in him, love to him, reverence and worship of him. So the Targum paraphrases it, "do my will". Kimchi says the price is repentance, and good works:

and if not, forbear; unless all is done freely, willingly, and cheerfully; see Ezekiel 2:5 or, if worth nothing, give nothing:

So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver; the price a servant was valued at, Exodus 21:32 see the fulfilment of this prophecy in Matthew 26:15. The Jews own (k) that this prophecy belongs to the Messiah; but wrongly interpret it of thirty precepts given by him: in just retaliation and righteous judgment, thirty Jews were sold by the Romans for a penny, by way of contempt of them (l).

(i) "date mercedem meam", Vatablus, Calvin, Junius & Tremellius, Piscator, Cocceius. (k) Bereshit Rabba, sect. 98. fol. 85. 3.((l) Egesippus de Urb. excidio Anacep. p. 680.

And I said to them, If ye think good, give me {p} my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

(p) Besides their ingratitude, God accuses them of malice and wickedness, who did not only forget his benefits, but esteemed them as nothing.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. price] Rather, wages, or hire, R. V. This demand is made by the prophet not “in order to try whether the people would submit themselves further to his guidance” (Wright), but to signify the complete abandonment of his office of shepherd. It is as much as to say, “I will be no more your shepherd: give me therefore my wages, that I may go my way.” It is further designed to bring out in bold relief the mutual aversion and contempt, that had sprung up between the shepherd and the flock (Zechariah 11:8). He asks as one who cares not whether his request be granted: “Give, or forbear.” They reply by a gift more insulting than refusal.

forbear] “ne date; q.d. non sum de mercede admodum sollicitus, licet jure mihi debeatur. Exprimit summam indignationem, ut si quis alicui suam ingratitudinem exprobrat.” Rosenm.

thirty pieces of silver] The value of a slave. Exodus 21:32. Comp. Hosea 3:2.Verse 12. - I said. The prophet is speaking in the person of the great Shepherd. Unto them. Unto the whole flock. Give me my price; my wages. He asks his hire of the flock, because the flock represents men. Acting far differently from the wicked shepherds, he used no violence or threats. He gives them this last opportunity of showing their gratitude for all the care bestowed upon them, and their appreciation of his tenderness and love. The wages God looked for were repentance, faith, obedience, or, in another view, themselves, their life and soul. It was for their sake he required these, not for his own. If not, forbear. He speaks with indignation, as conscious of their ungrateful contempt. Pay me what is due, or pay me not. I leave it to you to decide. I put no constraint upon you. So God has given us free will; and we can receive or reject his offers, as we are minded. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. This paltry remuneration displayed the people's ingratitude and contempt. It was the compensation offered by the Law to a master for the loss of a slave that had been killed (Exodus 21:82). It was, perhaps, double the pries of a female slave (Hosea 3:2); and the very offer of such a sum was an insult, and, says Dr. Alexander, "suggested an intention to compass his death. They despised his goodness; they would have none of his service; they sought to cut him off; and they were ready to pay the penalty which the Law prescribed for the murder of one of so mean a condition." The word "weigh" was used in money transactions even after the use of coined money rendered weighing unnecessary.
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