Zechariah 11:15
And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.
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Zechariah 11:15. And the Lord said, Take thee yet [or once more] the instruments of a foolish [or unwise] shepherd — The prophet, having hitherto represented the good shepherd, is now directed to assume the dress and equipage of one of a contrary character. As folly in the Scripture is equivalent to wickedness, by a foolish shepherd here may be meant, not only unskilful, but likewise ill-designing governors, or teachers, who should only intend their own advantage, and have no regard for the good of the flock, or people committed to their charge. The instruments of such a shepherd must be suitable to his own disposition and indiscretion, such as a crook armed with iron, which, whenever it was used, would wound the flock; and a scrip, or bag, which contained nothing useful for the sheep, and the like. The prophet here follows the order of time, that he may foretel the madness and blindness of the shepherds; that is, of the priests, rulers, and teachers of the Jewish nation, till the last destruction of Jerusalem; who not only disregarded religion, and the safety and welfare of the sheep, but even devoured such of them as were worth devouring.

11:15-17 God, having showed the misery of this people in their being justly left by the Good Shepherd, shows their further misery in being abused by foolish shepherds. The description suits the character Christ gives of the scribes and Pharisees. They never do any thing to support the weak, or comfort the feeble-minded; but seek their own ease, while they are barbarous to the flock. The idol shepherd has the garb and appearance of a shepherd, receives submission, and is supported at much expense; but he leaves the flock to perish through neglect, or leads them to ruin by his example. This suits many in different churches and nations, but the warning had an awful fulfilment in the Jewish teachers. And while such deceive others to their ruin, they will themselves have the deepest condemnation.Take to thee yet the instrument - o

Of a foolish shepherd - Osorius: "Yet He had enacted one tragedy, in which he clearly set forth the future guilt of Judas; now another is set forth, the accumulated scoffing through antichrist. For as Paul said, because they receive not the Spirit of truth, the Allrighteous Judge shall send them a spirit of "delusion, that they should believe a lie" 2 Thessalonians 2:10-11. He calls him a foolish shepherd, for since the extremest folly consists in the extremest wickedness, he will be the most foolish, who reached the highest impiety, and this he will do by arrogating to himself divinity and claiming divine honors 2 Thessalonians 2:4.

This is the only action, which the prophet had to enact or to relate. If it was a visible act, the instrument might be a staff which should bruise, an instrument which should bear a semblance to that of the good shepherd, but which should be perncious. Cyril: "Good shepherds, who understood their business, had slight staves, that, if there should be occasion to strike, the stricken sheep might not be bruised; but one who understandeth not, beats them with thicker clubs." Or it may mean also, whatever he would use for the hurtful treatment of the sheep, such as he proceeds to speak of. He is spoken of as, in fact, foolishly sinful: for sin is the only real folly, and all real folly has sin mingled in it. The short-lived wisdom of the foolish shepherd for his own ends should also be his destruction.

15. yet—"take again"; as in Zec 11:7 previously he had taken other implements.

instruments—the accoutrements, namely, the shepherd's crook and staff, wallet, &c. Assume the character of a bad ("foolish" in Scripture is synonymous with wicked, Ps 14:1) shepherd, as before thou assumedst that of a good shepherd. Since the Jews would not have Messiah, "the Good Shepherd" (Joh 10:11), they were given up to Rome, heathen and papal, both alike their persecutor, especially the latter, and shall be again to Antichrist, the "man of sin," the instrument of judgment by Christ's permission. Antichrist will first make a covenant with them as their ruler, but then will break it, and they shall feel the iron yoke of his tyranny as the false Messiah, because they rejected the light yoke of the true Messiah (Da 11:35-38; 12:1; 9:27; 2Th 2:3-12). But at last he is to perish utterly (Zec 11:17), and the elect remnant of Judah and Israel is to be saved gloriously.

Take unto thee, O Zechariah.

The instruments; put on the garb and personate once more a shepherd, quite different from him thou hast represented.

Of a foolish shepherd: this foolish people have rejected the wisest and best shepherd; let them see what one they will choose, in seeing what part thou now actest.

And the Lord said unto me,.... The Prophet Zechariah:

Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd; the meaning is, that the prophet should put on the habit of a shepherd, and take a scrip and staff in his hands, and represent a foolish shepherd, hereafter described.

And the LORD said to me, Take to thee yet {r} the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

(r) Signifying that they should have a certain type of regiment and outward show of government: but in effect it would be nothing, for they would be wolves, and devouring beasts instead of shepherds.

15. the instruments of a foolish shepherd] There is no reason to suppose that “the instruments,” the staff and scrip, of a foolish shepherd differed from those of a wise one, and so in themselves indicated his character. The command is: “Again take to thee (as thou didst before, Zechariah 11:7) the instruments of a shepherd, (but this time let him be) a foolish one.” The punishment of rejecting the Good Shepherd was to be not only the loss of Him, but the substitution of an evil shepherd in His place.

15–17. The foolish shepherd, Zechariah 11:15; the misery he inflicts upon the flock, Zechariah 11:16; and his doom, Zechariah 11:17.

Verses 15-17. - § 10. In retribution for their rejection of the good Shepherd the people are given over to a foolish shepherd, who shall destroy them, but shall himself, in turn, perish miserably. Verse 15. - Take unto thee yet (yet again) the instruments of a foolish shepherd (comp. Hosea 3:1). The prophet, in vision, is directed to do as he had done before (ver. 4, etc,), and enact the part of a shepherd, taking the dress, scrip, and crook, which were appropriate to the character; but this time he was to represent "a foolish," i.e. an evil, shepherd; for sin is constantly denoted by "folly" in the Old Testament; e.g. Job 5:2, 3; Psalm 14:1; Psalm 107:17; Proverbs 1:7; Proverbs 7:22; Proverbs 14:9, etc. (comp. ver. 17). Zechariah 11:15The Foolish Shepherd. - Zechariah 11:15. "And Jehovah said to me, Take to thee yet the implement of a foolish shepherd. Zechariah 11:16. For, behold, I raise up to myself a shepherd in the land: that which is perishing will he not observe, that which is scattered will he not seek, and that which is broken will he not heal; that which is standing will he not care for; and the flesh of the fat one will he eat, and tear their claws in pieces. Zechariah 11:17. Woe to the worthless shepherd, who forsakes the flock! sword over his arm, and over his right eye: his arm shall wither, and his right eye be extinguished." After Israel has compelled the good shepherd to lay down his shepherd's office, in consequence of its own sin, it is not to be left to itself, but to be given into the hand of a foolish shepherd, who will destroy it. This is the thought in the fresh symbolical nation. By עוד, "yet (again) take the instruments," etc., this action is connected with the previous one (Zechariah 11:4.); for עוד implies that the prophet had already taken a shepherd's instruments once before in his hand. The shepherd's instruments are the shepherd's staff, and taking it in his hand is a figurative representation of the feeding of a flock. This time he is to take the implement of a foolish shepherd, i.e., to set forth the action of a foolish shepherd. Whether the pastoral staff of the foolish shepherd was of a different kind from that of the good shepherd, is a matter of indifference, so far as the meaning of the symbol is concerned. Folly, according to the Old Testament view, is synonymous with ungodliness and sin (cf. Psalm 14:1.). The reason for the divine command is given in Zechariah 11:16 by a statement of the meaning of the new symbolical action. God will raise up a shepherd over the land, who will not tend, protect, and care for the flock, but will destroy it. That we are not to understand by this foolish shepherd all the evil native rulers of the Jewish people collectively, as Hengstenberg supposes, is as evident from the context as it possibly can be. If the good shepherd represented by the prophet in Zechariah 11:4-14 is no other than Jehovah in His rule over Israel, the foolish shepherd who is raised up over the land in the place of the good shepherd, who had been despised and rejection, can only be the possessor of the imperial power, into whose power the nation is given up after the rejection of the good shepherd sent to it in Christ, i.e., the Roman empire, which destroyed the Jewish state. The rule of the foolish shepherd is depicted not only as an utter neglect, but as a consuming of the flock, as in Ezekiel 34:3-4; Jeremiah 23:1-2. The perishing sheep he will not seek, i.e., will not take charge of them (cf. Jeremiah 23:9). הנּער cannot be the young or tender one; for not only is na‛ar, the boy, not used of animals, but even when used of men it has not the meaning tender or weak. The word is a substantive formation from nâ‛ar, to shake, piel to disperse, used in the sense of dispulsio, and the abstract being used for the concrete, the dispersed, the scattered, as the early translators rendered it. Hannishbereth, that which is broken, i.e., injured through the fracture of a limb. The opposite of nishbereth is הנּצּבה, that which stands upon its feet, and therefore is still strong. But not only will he neglect the flock: he will also seize upon it, and utterly consume it, not only devouring the flesh of the fat one, but even tearing in pieces the claws of the sheep. Not indeed by driving them along bad and stony roads (Tarn., Ewald, Hitzig), for this does no great harm to sheep, but so that when he consumes the sheep, he even splits or tears in pieces the claws, to seize upon the swallow the last morsel of flesh of fat. But this tyrant will also receive his punishment for doing so. The judgment which is to fall upon him is set forth in accordance with the figure of the shepherd, as punishment through the loss of the arm and of the right eye. These two members are mentioned, because with the arm he ought to have protected and provided for the flock, and with the eye to have watched over them. The Yod in רעי and עזבי is not the suffix of the first person, but the so-called Yod campaginis with the construct state (see at Hosea 10:11). האליל is a substantive, as in Job 13:4; it does not mean worthlessness, however, but nothingness. A worthless shepherd is one who is the opposite of what the shepherd should be, and will be: one who does not feed the flock, but leaves it to perish (עזבי הצּאן). The words from cherebh to yemı̄nō are a sentence in the form of a proclamation. The sword is called to come upon the arm and the right eye of the worthless shepherd, i.e., to hew off his arm, to smite his right eye. The further threat that the arm is to wither, the eye to become extinct, does not appear to harmonize with this. But the sword is simply mentioned as the instrument of punishment, and the connecting together of different kinds of punishment simply serves to exhibit the greatness and terrible nature of the punishment. With this threat, the threatening word concerning the imperial power of the world (ch. 9-11) is very appropriately brought to a close, inasmuch as the prophecy thereby returns to its starting-point.
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