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. The first word of the Lord was addressed to the prophet Zechariah in the eighth month of the second year of the reign of Darius, and therefore about two months after Haggai's first prophecy and the commencement of the rebuilding of the temple, which that prophecy was intended to promote (compare Zechariah 1:1 with Haggai 1:1 and Haggai 1:15), and a few weeks after Haggai's prophecy of the great glory which the new temple would receive (Haggai 2:1-9). Just as Haggai encouraged the chiefs and the people of Judah to continue vigorously the building that had been commenced by this announcement of salvation, so Zechariah opens his prophetic labours with the admonition to turn with sincerity to the Lord, and with the warning not to bring the same punishment upon themselves by falling back into the sins of the fathers. This exhortation to repentance, although it was communicated to the prophet in the form of a special revelation from God, is actually only the introduction to the prophecies which follow, requiring thorough repentance as the condition of obtaining the desired salvation, and at the same time setting before the impenitent and ungodly still further heavy judgments.

(Note: "The prophet is thus instructed by God, that, before exhibiting to the nation the rich blessings of God for them to look at under the form of symbolical images, he is to declare the duty of His people, or the condition upon which it will be becoming in God to grant them an abundant supply of these good things." - Vitringa, Comm. in Sach. p. 76.)

Zechariah 1:1. Bachōdesh hasshemı̄nı̄ does not mean "on the eighth new moon" (Kimchi, Chr. B. Mich., Koehl.); for chōdesh is never used in chronological notices for the new moon, or the first new moon's day (see at Exodus 19:1). The day of the eighth month is left indefinite, because this was of no importance whatever to the contents of this particular address. The word of the Lord was as follows: Zechariah 1:2. "Jehovah was angry with wrath concerning your fathers. Zechariah 1:3. And thou shalt say to them, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Return ye to me, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, so will I return to you, saith Jehovah of hosts. Zechariah 1:4. Be not like your fathers, to whom the former prophets cried, Thus saith Jehovah of hosts, Turn now from your evil ways, and from your evil actions! But they hearkened not, and paid no attention to me, is the saying of Jehovah." The statement in Zechariah 1:2 contains the ground for the summons to turn, which the prophet is to address to the people, and is therefore placed before ואמרתּ in Zechariah 1:3, by which this summons is introduced. Because the Lord was very angry concerning the fathers, those who are living now are to repent with sincerity of heart. The noun qetseph is added as the object to the verb, to give it greater force. The nation had experienced the severe anger of God at the destruction of the kingdom of Judah, and of Jerusalem and the temple, and also in exile. The statement in Zechariah 1:15, that Jehovah was angry מעט, is not at variance with this; for מעט does not refer to the strength of the anger, but to its duration. ואמרתּ is the perf. with Vav consec., and is used for the imperative, because the summons to repentance follows as a necessary consequence from the fact stated in Zechariah 1:2 (cf. Ewald, 342, b and c). אלהם does not refer to the fathers, which might appear to be grammatically the simplest interpretation, but to the contemporaries of the prophet, addressed in the pronoun your fathers, the existing generation of Judah. שׁוּבוּ אלי does not presuppose that the people had just fallen away from the Lord again, or had lost all their pleasure in the continuance of the work of building the temple, but simply that the return to the Lord was not a perfect one, not a thorough conversion of heart. So had Jehovah also turned to the people again, and had not only put an end to the sufferings of exile, but had also promised His aid to those who had returned (compare אני אתּכם in Haggai 1:13); but the more earnestly and the more thoroughly the people turned to Him, the more faithfully and the more gloriously would He bestow upon them His grace and the promised salvation. This admonition is shown to be extremely important by the threefold "saith the Lord of Zebaoth," and strengthened still further in Zechariah 1:4 by the negative turn not to do like the fathers, who cast the admonitions of the prophets to the winds. The "earlier prophets" are those before the captivity (cf. Zechariah 7:7, Zechariah 7:12). The predicate ראשׁנים points to the fact that there was a gap between Zechariah and his predecessors, namely the period of the exile, so that Daniel and Ezekiel, who lived in exile, are overlooked; the former because his prophecies are not admonitions addressed to the people, the latter because the greater part of his ministry fell in the very commencement of the exile. Moreover, when alluding to the admonitions of the earlier prophets, Zechariah has not only such utterances in his mind as those in which the prophets summoned the people to repentance with the words שׁוּבוּ וגו (e.g., Joel 2:13; Hosea 14:2-3; Isaiah 31:6; Jeremiah 3:12., Zechariah 7:13, etc.), but the admonitions, threatenings, and reproofs of the earlier prophets generally (compare 2 Kings 17:13.). The chethib מעליליכם is to be read מעליליכם, a plural form עלילים from עלילה, and is to be retained, since the preposition min is wanting in the keri; and this reading has probably only arisen from the offence taken at the use of the plural form ‛ălı̄lı̄m, which does not occur elsewhere, in the place of ‛ălı̄lōth, although there are many analogies to such a formation, and feminine forms frequently have plurals in ־ים, either instead of those in ־ות or in addition to them.

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