Zechariah 11:16
For, see, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that stands still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
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Zechariah 11:16. For lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land — A shepherd, in the singular number, denotes a succession of such shepherds as are described in the following words. So a succession of priests is represented under the single person of Levi, Malachi 2:5-6. Since the Jews had rejected the true Shepherd, God threatens to send, or permit to arise, among them, such shepherds to rule or teach them as should be notorious for their negligence and avarice, their cruelty and oppression. This may be understood either of the blind guides of whom Christ speaks, and whose character he describes at large, Matthew 23:13-33; namely, the scribes and Pharisees, the priests and doctors of their law; or of the avaricious, tyrannical, and unmerciful princes, that should rule them with rigour, and make their own land as much a place of bondage to them as ever Egypt or Babylon had been. And when they had rejected him by whom princes decree justice, it was just that they should be given over into the power of those who should decree unrighteous decrees. It is probable, also, that there is a reference here to the false prophets and false Christs, which, as our Lord foretold, Matthew 24:5, should arise. Many such there were, who, by their seditious practices, provoked the Romans, and hastened on the ruin of the Jewish nation: but it is very remarkable that they were never deceived by a counterfeit Messiah till they had refused and rejected the true Messiah. The prophet proceeds to describe the character of these foolish shepherds, in the following words: 1st, They should be negligent; which shall not visit those that be cut off — Or, as the LXX. render it, το εκλιμπανον, that which is missing, or has wandered from the flock; and it may signify that which is ready to perish. Neither shall seek the young one — Which are most apt to perish through weakness; he alludes to the lambs which, on account of their tender age, are not able to follow the flock. Nor heal that which is broken — Which has received some hurt, but shall leave it to die of its wounds. Nor feed that that standeth still — Not able to go forward. Blayney renders the word, made to stand, or set up again after sickness. “Such,” says he,” it is well known, require much care to nourish and support them, in order to their regaining strength; a care which the foolish shepherd will not bestow upon them.” Or, as the LXX. render it, το ολοκληρον ου μη κατευθυνη, nor shall direct that which is whole, mentioned in opposition to those that wander, or are diseased. 2d, These shepherds would be luxurious; he shall eat the flesh of the fat — That is, instead of preserving the best of his flock, in order to increase it, he kills them to indulge his own appetite: or, enriches himself by oppressing, or otherwise taking from those that are persons of property: like that wicked servant that said, My lord delays his coming, he eats and drinks with the drunken, serving his own belly. 3d, They are tyrannical and cruel to the flock. And tear their claws [or, as it ought to be rendered, break their hoofs] in pieces — This implies the same as when it is said (Ezekiel 34:4) of such shepherds, With force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. The unwise shepherd, instead of being tender and gentle with his flock, is supposed to drag them about with his iron crook, or to over-drive them in rough and stony ground, so as to break their hoofs. Or, he imposes burdens and hardships upon them that they are unable to bear. Upon the whole, a sluggish, negligent, covetous, riotous, oppressive, and cruel government, priesthood, or ministry, is here shadowed out by a foolish shepherd.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.I will raise up - God supplies the strength or wisdom which people abuse to sin. He, in His Providence, disposeth the circumstances, of which the ambitious avail themselves. antichrist, whom the Jews look for, will be as much an instrument of God for the perfecting the elect, as the Chaldees Habakkuk 1:6 or the Assyrians Amos 6:14 whom God raised up, for the chastisement of His former people, or the Medes against Babylon Isaiah 13:17.

Which shall not visit them that be cut off - Zechariah uses the imagery, yet not the exact words of Jeremiah Jer 23:1-2 and Ezekiel EZechariah 34:3-4. Neglect of every duty of a shepherd to his flock, to the sick, the broken, the sound; direct injury of them, preying upon them, make up the picture.

Which shall not visit - Or tend, "that which is cut off:" fulfilling God's judgment, "that which is to be cut off let it be cut off" Zechariah 11:9.

Neither shall seek the young one - Better, "the scattered , dispersed," as the Good Shepherd "came to seek and to save that which was lost" Luke 19:10; Matthew 18:11. "Nor heal that which is broken; bound not," Ezekiel says Ezekiel 34:4. : "The broken legs of sheep are healed no otherwise than those of people; rolled in wool impregnated with oil and wine, and then bound up with splinters placed round about it."

Nor feed that which standeth still - Better, "the whole" Yet Jonathan renders as English), as the word always means, "in its good estate," like our prayer, "that Thou wouldest strengthen those who do stand."

16. in the land—Antichrist will probably he a Jew, or at least one in Judea.

not visit … neither … seek … heal … broken, nor feed … but … eat … flesh … tear—Compare similar language as to the unfaithful shepherds of Israel in Eze 34:2-4. This implies, they shall be paid in kind. Such a shepherd in the worst type shall "tear" them for a limited time.

those … cut off—"those perishing" [Septuagint], that is, those sick unto death, as if already cut off.

the young—The Hebrew is always used of human youths, who are really referred to under the image of the young of the flock. Ancient expositors [Chaldee Version, Jerome, &c.] translate, "the straying," "the dispersed"; so Gesenius.

broken—the wounded.

standeth still—with faintness lagging behind.

tear … claws—expressing cruel voracity; tearing off the very hoofs (compare Ex 10:26), giving them excruciating pain, and disabling them from going in quest of pasture.

I will raise up a shepherd; as a just punishment of their sin in refusing Christ, the wise and good Shepherd; his government they would not accept to their salvation, that they choose shall be to their ruin.

Which shall not visit those that be cut off, or, that are hidden; it is a foolish shepherd who seeks not out those that are lost to bring them home.

Neither shall seek the young one; which are aptest to perish through weakness.

Nor heal that that is broken; but leaves it to die of its wounds.

Nor feed that that standeth still; either not able to go forward, or, hungry, stops to eat, but the shepherd will not wait while this is done.

But he shall eat the flesh of the fat, will feast on the fattest of the flock and tear their claws in pieces; and with cruelty extort all from them, tear off their skin to the very nails. In brief, a sluggish, negligent, covetous, riotous, oppressive, and cruel government, shadowed out by a foolish shepherd, is the punishment of the sins of the Jews. For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land,.... Not in the land of Judea, but in the Roman empire; and so not Herod, nor King Agrippa, as Kimchi; nor Antiochus Epiphanes, as others; nor those wicked priests and princes, who governed after the times of Zechariah; nor the Scribes and Pharisees in Christ's times, though they are often called fools by him, and were truly foolish shepherds; nor even Titus Vespasian, who destroyed the city and temple; nor Bar Cozba, who set up for the Messiah, and was a false one; or any other of that sort. Calmet (s) thinks this designs the Roman emperors, successors of Tiberius, under whom Jesus Christ was crucified. Caligula succeeded Tiberius. Claudius Caligula, and Nero succeeded Claudius: everyone knows (adds he) the characters of those princes, that they were truly foolish shepherds, mad, wicked, and cruel: but rather it intends shepherd, or shepherds, not in a civil, but in an ecclesiastic sense; all such after Christ, who took upon them this office, but did not perform it aright, as heretics, false teachers, with which the first ages abounded; and especially it points at the bishop of Rome, and all under him, when he fell off from the true doctrine and discipline of the Gospel, the man of sin, or antichrist, as Jerom rightly observes; who, though his coming is according to the working of Satan, yet may be said to be raised up by the Lord, because he suffered him to rise; and by his secret providence, and wise ordination in righteous judgment, he came to the height of his power: with him agrees the name of a "shepherd"; he calls himself the vicar of Christ, the chief shepherd and bishop of souls; Peter's successor, who was ordered to feed the sheep and lambs of Christ; and universal pastor, and a single one, that will not admit of any associate. The character of a "foolish" one belongs to him, though he would be thought to be wise; nor is he wanting in wicked craft and cunning, but ignorant of the pastoral office, and how to feed the church of God; and is a wicked or evil shepherd, as the word (t) used is pretty much the same in sound with our English word "evil": he governing the flock, not with and according to the word of God, but according to his own will and laws; for his "instruments" are laws of his own making, an exercise of tyrannical power over kings and princes, unwritten traditions, pardons, indulgences, &c.:

which shall not visit those that be cut off; not that cut off themselves, or are cut off by the church; but such that go astray, wander from the fold, and are in danger of being lost; that are perishing, as Jarchi explains the word; these he looks not after, nor has he any regard to their spiritual and eternal welfare:

neither shall seek the young one; the lamb, the tender of the flock; he will not do as the good shepherd does, carry the lambs in his arms, Isaiah 40:11 or, "that which wanders" (u); that strays from the fold, and out of the pastures, or the right way:

nor heal that that is broken; that is of a broken and of a contrite spirit; or whose bones are broken, and consciences wounded, through falls into sin:

nor feed that that standeth still; that can not move from its place to get fresh pasture, but is obliged to stay where it is, and needs supply and support there:

but he shall eat the flesh of the fat; that is, as the Targum well explains it,

"shall spoil the substance of the rich;''

see Revelation 18:3,

and tear their claws in pieces; take all their power and privileges from them; all which well agrees with the pope of Rome.

(s) Dictionary, in the word "Shepherds." (t) (u) "errantem", Noldius; "quod prae ruditate evagatur", Cocceius.

For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, who shall not visit those that are cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that which is broken, nor feed that which {s} standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

(s) And is in health and sound.

16. cut off] i.e. destroyed, or lost. See Zechariah 11:9, and comp. Exodus 23:23. “Pastores seduli requirunt siquid est perditum, vel siquid evanuit in grege: et hoc intelligit Zacharias per visitationem.” Calvin.

the young one] Rather, the scattered, lit. the dispersion, τὸ ἐσκορπισμένον, LXX. dispersum, Jerome.

feed that that standeth still] Rather, nourish that that standeth (firm). τὸ ὁλόκληρον. LXX. that which is sound, R. V. Pusey compares the petition in the Litany, “that it may please Thee to strengthen such as do stand.” Another view is that they that stand, are the sheep which stand still, unable through weakness and weariness to go forward. But the word seems always to be used of standing firmly, not of coming to a stand-still through infirmity.

claws] Rather, hoofs. Like a voracious man, who not content with eating the flesh of the fat, tears to pieces and sucks the goodness out of the very hoofs. “Videtur diffringere ungulas esse hominis voracis, ipsas ungulas frangentis et exsudentis.” Maurer. For a like picture both of neglect of duty and of cruelty in a shepherd see Ezekiel 34:4.Verse 16. - I will raise up a shepherd in the land. God explains the reason of the symbolical character which he directed the prophet to assume. He was going to allow the people to be chastised by an instrument whom he would permit to work his will upon them. As this evil shepherd was to arise to punish them for their rejection of Messiah, he must represent some person or power that existed subsequent to Christ's death. Many consider that he symbolizes the Romans; but these people could not be deemed to exercise pastoral care over the Israelites, nor could their neglect of this (ver. 17) be attributed to them as a sin; nor, again, did their destruction follow upon the overthrow of the Jewish polity (ver. 18). Others see here a prediction of the coming of antichrist; but the character of "shepherd" does not suit his attributes as given elsewhere; at any rate. this cannot be the primary reference of the symbol, though all evil powers that oppose the Church of Christ are in some sense images and anticipations of antichrist. The genuine reference here is to the native chiefs and rulers ("in the land") who arose in the later times of the nation - monsters like Herod, false Christs and false prophets (Matthew 24:5, 11, 12, 24; Mark 13:22), hirelings who made merchandise of the flock, teachers who came in their own name (John 5:43), and deceived the people to their destruction. Which shall not visit those that be cut off; or, those that are perishing. This foolish shepherd shall perform none of the offices of a good shepherd; he will not care for and tend those that are in danger of death (Jeremiah 23:2). The young one; rather, those that are scattered; Septuagint, τὸ ἐσκορπισμένον: Vulgate, dispersum (Matthew 18:12). That that is broken. Bruised, or with limb fractured. Feed that that standeth still; literally, that standeth; i.e. is sound and healthy. This shepherd attended neither to the diseased nor to the healthy sheep. Septuagint, τὸ δλόκληρον, "that which is whole." He shall eat the flesh of the fat. He thinks only how to get personal advantage from the flock (comp. Ezekiel 34:2-8). Tear their claws (hoofs) in pieces, as some say, by making them traverse rough places, and not caring where he led them; but as such travelling would not specially injure sheep, and as the immediate context is concerned with their treatment as food, it is better to see here a picture of a greedy and voracious man who tears asunder the very hoofs to suck out all the nourishment he can find, or one who mutilates the fattest of his flock, that they may not stray, and that he may always have a dainty morsel at hand.
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