Zechariah 11:3
There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
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11:1-3 In figurative expressions, that destruction of Jerusalem, and of the Jewish church and nation, is foretold, which our Lord Jesus, when the time was at hand, prophesied plainly and expressly. How can the fir trees stand, if the cedars fall? The falls of the wise and good into sin, and the falls of the rich and great into trouble, are loud alarms to those every way their inferiors. It is sad with a people, when those who should be as shepherds to them, are as young lions. The pride of Jordan was the thickets on the banks; and when the river overflowed the banks, the lions came up from them roaring. Thus the doom of Jerusalem may alarm other churches.A voice of the howling of the shepherds, for their glory is spoiled - It echoes on from Jeremiah before the captivity, "Howl, ye shepherds - A voice of the cry of the shepherds. and an howling of the principal of the flock; for the Lord hath spoiled their pasture" Jeremiah 25:34, Jeremiah 25:36. There is one chorus of desolation, the mighty and the lowly; the shepherds and the young lions; what is at other times opposed is joined in one wailing. "The pride of Jordan" are the stately oaks on its banks, which shroud it from sight, until you reach its edges, and which, after the captivity of the ten tribes, became the haunt of lions and their chief abode in Palestine, "on account of the burning heat, and the nearness of the desert, and the breadth of the vast solitude and jungles" (Jerome). See Jeremiah 49:19; Jeremiah 50:44; 2 Kings 17:25. The lion lingered there even to the close of the 12th cent. Phocas in Reland Palaest. i. 274. Cyril says in the present, "there are very many lions there, roaring horribly and striking fear into the inhabitants"). 3. shepherds—the Jewish rulers.

their glory—their wealth and magnificence; or that of the temple, "their glory" (Mr 13:1; Lu 21:5).

young lions—the princes, so described on account of their cruel rapacity.

pride of Jordan—its thickly wooded banks, the lair of "lions" (Jer 12:5; 49:19). Image for Judea "spoiled" of the magnificence of its rulers ("the young lions"). The valley of the Jordan forms a deeper gash than any on the earth. The land at Lake Merom is on a level with the Mediterranean Sea; at the Sea of Tiberias it falls six hundred fifty feet below that level, and to double that depression at the Dead Sea, that is, in all, 1950 feet below the Mediterranean; in twenty miles' interval there is a fall of from three thousand to four thousand feet.

There is; it is as certain as if present, as sure all these shall howl, as if the things for which they do howl were already acted.

A voice of the howling, a most bitter, loud, passionate, and dismal howling, of the shepherds: literally thus; The enemy having broken in hath driven away or eaten up their flocks of sheep, their herds; and they, undone, howl most bitterly on the mountains, where the echo more doubles the horror than the noise. Or figuratively, shepherds are governors, magistrates, and civil officers, together with priests and prophets, who are over the people as shepherds over the flocks.

For their glory is spoiled; what was their honour, their safety, their joy, is spoiled, taken from them and given to others.

A voice of the roaring, the dismal outcries, of young lions; of men in authority among the Jews, who should have been shepherds to defend, but were as lions to tear and devour, and which lurked in Jerusalem, and in the cities of Judea, wheresoever they could lie in wait to tear the poor and weak.

For the pride of Jordan is spoiled; the great forests on the banks of Jordan, called here the pride of Jordan, either because of the stately situation of them; or, because the prophet would keep the decorum of his allegory, he calls these

the pride of Jordan, for that the young lions were wont to walk proudly, to range over it without fear. So did these men-lions securely prey in Jerusalem and its fellow cities; but these are cut down, and now they must no more range through to seek a prey: so all from the north to the east of the land of Canaan is represented as made a spoil.

There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds,.... Which may be understood either of the civil rulers among the Jews, who now lose their honour and their riches; and so the Targum, Jarchi, and Aben Ezra, interpret it of kings; or of the ecclesiastical rulers, the elders of the people, the Scribes and Pharisees:

for their glory is spoiled; their power and authority; their riches and wealth; their places of honour and profit; their offices, posts, and employments, whether in civil or religious matters, are taken from them, and they are deprived of them:

a voice of the roaring of young lions; of princes, comparable to them for their power, tyranny, and cruelty: the Targum is,

"their roaring is as the roaring of young lions:''

for the pride of Jordan is spoiled; a place where lions and their young ones resorted, as Jarchi observes; See Gill on Jeremiah 49:19. Jordan is here put for the whole land of Judea now wasted, and so its pride and glory gone; as if the waters of Jordan were dried up, the pride and glory of that, and which it showed when its waters swelled and overflowed; hence called by Pliny (x) "ambitiosus amnis", a haughty and ambitious swelling river.

(x) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 15.

There is a voice of the wailing of the shepherds; for their {d} glory is destroyed: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is laid waste.

(d) That is, the fame of Judah and Israel would perish.

3. There is a voice] More literally and forcibly, A voice of the howling of the shepherds! R. V.

the shepherds] Here again the figurative reference appears through the literal, Comp. Zechariah 10:3, and Zechariah 11:5 below. But the literal reference holds good. “The desolating storm sweeps from the highlands to the lowlands. The very shepherds are forced to howl, because their splendour is laid waste, namely, the pasture lands, in which they were wont to tend and feed their flocks in the days of peace and quiet. The conflagration extends even to the south of the land. Judah is wrapped in flames. The close thickets which fringed the Jordan river as it ran along through the territory of the southern kingdom are consumed by the fire.… ‘The pride of Jordan’ is rendered desolate, and hence the voice of the roaring of lions is heard wailing over the general ruin.” Wright.

young lions] Comp. Jeremiah 25:36-38; Jeremiah 49:19.

Zechariah 11:4-14. The rejection by them of Jehovah’s shepherd is the cause of the calamity which is to fall upon them. “Subjicit rationem cur Deus tam severe agere cogitet cum populo suo, quoniam insanabilis sit eorum malitia.” Rosenm.

Verse 3. - There is a voice. The Hebrew is more terse and forcible, "A voice of the howling of the shepherds!" or, "Hark! a howling," etc. (Jeremiah 25:34, etc.). The destruction spreads from the north southwards along the Jordan valley. Their glory. The noble trees in whose shadow they rejoiced. Young lions. Which had their lairs in the forests now laid waste (Jeremiah 49:19). The pride of Jordan. The thickets that clothed the banks of Jordan are called its "pride" (Jeremiah 12:5). The lion is not now found in Palestine, but must have been common in earlier times, especially in such places as the brushwood and reedy coverts which line the margin of the Jordan. The prophet introduces the inanimate and animate creation - trees, men, beasts - alike deploring the calamity. And the terms in which this is depicted point to some great disaster and ruin, and, as it seems, to the final catastrophe of the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, the punishment of the rejection of Messiah. This reference becomes plainer as we proceed. It is inadmissible to refer the passage (as some do) to the Assyrian invasions mentioned in 2 Kings 15:29 and 1 Chronicles 5:26. Holding the post-exilian origin of the prophecy, we are bound to interpret it in accordance with this view, which, indeed, presents fewer difficulties than the other. Zechariah 11:3The Devastation of the Holy Land. - Zechariah 11:1. "Open thy gates, O Lebanon, and let fire devour thy cedars! Zechariah 11:2. Howl, cypress; for the cedar is fallen, for the glory is laid waste! Howl, ye oaks of Bashan; for the inaccessible forest is laid low! Zechariah 11:3. A loud howling of the shepherds; for their glory is laid waste! A loud roaring of the young lions; for the splendour of Jordan is laid waste!" That these verses do not form the commencement of a new prophecy, having no connection with the previous one, but that they are simply a new turn given to that prophecy, is evident not only from the omission of any heading or of any indication whatever which could point to the commencement of a fresh word of God, but still more so from the fact that the allusion to Lebanon and Bashan and the thickets of Judah points back unmistakeably to the land of Gilead and of Lebanon (Zechariah 10:10), and shows a connection between ch. 11 and Zechariah 10:1-12, although this retrospect is not decided enough to lay a foundation for the view that Zechariah 11:1-3 form a conclusion to the prophecy in Zechariah 10:1-12, to which their contents by no means apply. For let us interpret the figurative description in these verses in what manner we will, so much at any rate is clear, that they are of a threatening character, and as a threat not only form an antithesis to the announcement of salvation in Zechariah 10:1-12, but are substantially connected with the destruction which will overtake the "flock of the slaughter," and therefore serve as a prelude, as it were, to the judgment announced in Zechariah 11:4-7.; The undeniable relation in which Lebanon, Bashan, and the Jordan stand to the districts of Gilead and Lebanon, also gives us a clue to the explanation; since it shows that Lebanon, the northern frontier of the holy land, and Bashan, the northern part of the territory of the Israelites to the east of the Jordan, are synecdochical terms, denoting the holy land itself regarded in its two halves, and therefore that the cedars, cypresses, and oaks in these portions of the land cannot be figurative representations of heathen rulers (Targ., Eph. Syr., Kimchi, etc.); but if powerful men and tyrants are to be understood at all by these terms, the allusion can only be to the rulers and great men of the nation of Israel (Hitzig, Maurer, Hengst., Ewald, etc.). But this allegorical interpretation of the cedars, cypresses, and oaks, however old and widely spread it may be, is not so indisputable as that we could say with Kliefoth: "The words themselves do not allow of our finding an announcement of the devastation of the holy land therein." For even if the words themselves affirm nothing more than "that the very existence of the cedars, oaks, shepherds, lions, is in danger; and that if these should fall, Lebanon will give way to the fire, the forest of Bashan will fall, the thicket of Jordan be laid waste;" yet through the destruction of the cedars, oaks, etc., the soil on which these trees grow is also devastated and laid waste. The picture is a dramatic one. Instead of the devastation of Lebanon being announced, it is summoned to open its gates, that the fire may be able to enter in and devour its cedars. The cypresses, which hold the second place among the celebrated woods of Lebanon, are then called upon to howl over the fall of the cedars, not so much from sympathy as because the same fate is awaiting them.

The words אשׁר אדּירם שׁדּדוּ contain a second explanatory clause. אשׁר is a conjunction (for, because), as in Genesis 30:18; Genesis 31:49. 'Addı̄rı̄m are not the glorious or lofty ones among the people (Hengst., Kliefoth), but the glorious ones among the things spoken of in the context, - namely, the noble trees, the cedars and cypresses. The oaks of Bashan are also called upon to howl, because they too will fall like "the inaccessible forest," i.e., the cedar forest of Lebanon. The keri habbâtsı̄r is a needless correction, because the article does not compel us to take the word as a substantive. If the adjective is really a participle, the article is generally attached to it alone, and omitted from the noun (cf. Ges. 111, 2, a). קול יללת, voice of howling, equivalent to a loud howling. The shepherds howl, because 'addartâm, their glory, is laid waste. We are not to understand by this their flock, but their pasture, as the parallel member גּאון היּרדּן and the parallel passage Jeremiah 25:26 show, where the shepherds howl, because their pasture is destroyed. What the pasture, i.e., the good pasture ground of the land of Bashan, is to the shepherds, that is the pride of Jordan to the young lions, - namely, the thicket and reeds which grew so luxuriantly on the banks of the Jordan, and afforded so safe and convenient a lair for lions (cf. Jeremiah 12:5; Jeremiah 49:9; Jeremiah 50:44). Zechariah 11:3 announces in distinct terms a devastation of the soil or land. It follows from this that the cedars, cypresses, and oaks are not figures representing earthly rulers. No conclusive arguments can be adduced in support of such an allegory. It is true that in Isaiah 10:34 the powerful army of Assyria is compared to Lebanon; and in Jeremiah 22:6 the head of the cedar forest is a symbol of the royal house of Judah; and that in Jeremiah 22:23 it is used as a figurative term for Jerusalem (see at Habakkuk 2:17); but neither men generally, nor individual earthly rulers in particular, are represented as cedars or oaks. The cedars and cypresses of Lebanon and the oaks of Bashan are simply figures denoting what is lofty, glorious, and powerful in the world of nature and humanity, and are only to be referred to persons so far as their lofty position in the state is concerned. Consequently we get the following as the thought of these verses: The land of Israel, with all its powerful and glorious creatures, is to become desolate. Now, inasmuch as the desolation of a land also involves the desolation of the people living in the land, and of its institutions, the destruction of the cedars, cypresses, etc., does include the destruction of everything lofty and exalted in the nation and kingdom; so that in this sense the devastation of Lebanon is a figurative representation of the destruction of the Israelitish kingdom, or of the dissolution of the political existence of the ancient covenant nation. This judgment was executed upon the land and people of Israel by the imperial power of Rome. This historical reference is evident from the description which follows of the facts by which this catastrophe is brought to pass.

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