Zechariah 11:7
And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
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Zechariah 11:7. And — Or rather, but, I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you — Or, especially you, O poor of the flock — Zechariah here, representing Christ the true shepherd, says, he will enter upon his office, and undertake the care of the flock appointed for the slaughter; even you, O poor of the flock — This clause is explicatory of the former, and by the repetition of it we are shown, that God, in his charge to the prophet, as a type of Christ, and to Christ the antitype, distinguishes clearly between different sorts of people among the Jews; between those that were poor, despised, weak, and humble, and those that were tyrannical, proud, and cruel, and made a prey of their inferiors: these were left out of the pastoral charge; the others were to be taken care of. And I took unto me two staves — These were the proper accoutrements of a shepherd, and these the prophet assumed as a badge of his office, and gave them significant names, which are partly explained, Zechariah 11:10-14. “The shepherds of old time,” says Lowth, “had two rods, or staves, one turned round at the top, that it might not hurt the sheep: this was for counting them, and separating the sound from the diseased, Leviticus 27:32; the other had an iron hook at the end of it, to pull in and hold the straying sheep. The psalmist mentions both these, Psalm 23:4, Thy rod and thy staff comfort me.” The one I called Beauty — Or, pleasantness, or, delight, as the word נועםmay be rendered, signifying, says Lowth, his favour, gentleness, or kindness toward his people; which was remarkably verified in Christ, whose gracious words, and beneficial works, were conspicuous through the whole course of his life. The other I called Bands — Which the same author interprets of the bond of the new covenant, whereby he intended to unite both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah under himself, as their head and king, Ezekiel 37:22; and then afterward to unite the Jews and the Gentiles into one church, by breaking down the partition wall that was between them. Newcome considers the former, Beauty, as intended to “denote how beautiful and pleasant the land would have been, if its inhabitants had kept their covenant with God.” The other, Bands, “ as signifying the union which ought to have subsisted between Judah and Israel.” Mr. Scott explains “the former word of the honour, privilege, and ornament which the Jews possessed, according to their national covenant, in the oracles, instituted worship, and temple of God; and especially by the ministry of Christ and his apostles, who preached the gospel to them first.” The other, he thinks, means, “the connection of the nation under one government, and the harmony that had, in some measure, hitherto united them, as the flock of God.” Many other interpretations are given of these two names, but as they all are, and must be, in a great measure, founded on conjecture, the reader is not here troubled with them.

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.The prophetic narrative which follows, differs in its form, in some respects, from the symbolical actions of the prophets and from Zechariah's own visions. The symbolical actions of the prophets are actions of their own: this involves acts, which it would be impossible to represent, except as a sort of drama. Such are the very central points, the feeding of the flock, which are still intelligent people who understand God's doings: the cutting off of the three shepherds; the asking for the price; the unworthy price offered; the casting it aside. It differs from Zechariah's own visions, in that they are for the most part exhibited to the eye, and Zechariah's own part is simply to enquire their meaning and to learn it, and to receive further revelation. In one case only, he himself interposes in the action of the vision Zechariah 3:1-10 :15; but this too, as asking that it might be done, not, as himself doing it. Here, he is himself the actor, yet as representing Another, who alone could cut off shepherds, abandon the people to mutual destruction, annulling the covenant which He had made. Maimonides, then, seems to say rightly; : "This, "I fed the flock of the slaughter," to the end of the narrative, where he is said to have asked for his hire, to have received it, and to have cast it into the temple, to the treasurer, all this Zechariah saw in prophetic vision. For the command which he received, and the act which he is said to have done, took place in prophetic vision or dream." "This," he adds, "is beyond controversy, as all know, who are able to distinguish the possible from the impossible."

Osorius: "The actions, presented to the prophets are not always to be understood as actions but as predictions. As when God commands Isaiah, to make the heart of the people dull Isaiah 6:10 that is, to denounce to the people their future blindness, through which they would, with obstinate mind, reject the mercies of Christ. Or when He says, that He appointed Jeremiah Jer 1:10 to destroy and to build; to root out and to plant. Or when He commanded the same prophet to cause the nations to drink the cup, whereby they should be bereft of their senses (Jeremiah 25:15 ff), Jeremiah did nothing of all this, but asserted that it would be. So here."

And I will feed the flock of the slaughter - Rather And (our, so) "I fed." The prophet declares, in the name of our Lord, that He did what the Father commanded Him. He fed the flock, committed to His care by the Father, who, through their own obstinacy, became "the flock of slaughter." What could be done, He did for them; so that all might see that they perished by their own fault. The symbol of our Lord, as the Good Shepherd, had been made prominent by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, "Behold the Lord will come, as a Mighty One - He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom: He shall gently lead those that are with young" Isaiah 40:10-11. And Jeremiah, having declared God's judgments on the then shepherds Jeremiah 23:2, "I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their fold; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper - and this is the name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness" Jeremiah 23:3-6. And Ezekiel with the like context Ezekiel 34:1-21; "Therefore will I save My flock and they shall be no more a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them: My servant David, He shall feed them; and He shall be their Shepherd" Ezekiel 34:22-23; and, uniting both offices, "David, My servant, shall be king over them, and they shall all have One Shepherd" Ezekiel 37:24. It was apparent then beforehand, who this Shepherd was to be, to whom God gave the feeding of the flock.

"Even 'you,' or 'for you, ye poor of the flock;' or, 'therefore,' being thus commanded, (fed I) the poor of the flock". The whole flock was committed to Him to feed. He had to seek out all "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24. Dionysius: "He fed, for the time, the Jews destined to death, until their time should come;" the fruit of His labor was in the "little flock" Luke 12:32, "the faithful Jews who believed in Him, out of the people of the flock aforesaid, or the synagogue, who in the primitive Church despised all earthly things, leading a most pure life." So He says, "I will feed My flock and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God: I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong, I will feed them with judgment" Ezekiel 34:15-16.

The elect are the end of all God's dispensations. He fed all; yet the fruit of His feeding, His toils, His death, the travail of His soul, was in those only who are saved. So Paul says, "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory" 2 Timothy 2:10. He fed all; but the "poor of the flock" alone, those who were despised of men, because they would not follow the pride of the high priests and scribes and Pharisees, believed on Him, as they themselves say, "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him?" John 12:48, and Paul says, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.

And I took unto Me two - (shepherd's) staves as David says, "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" Psalm 23:4. "The one I called Beauty or Loveliness" , as the Psalmist longs to "behold the beauty or loveliness" of God in His temple Psalm 27:4, and says; let "the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" Psalm 90:17.

And the other I called Bands - Literally, "Binders" . The one staff represents the full favor and loving-kindness of God; when this was broken, there yet remained the other, by which they were held together as a people in covenant with God. "And I fed the flock." This was the use of his staves; He tended them with both, ever putting in exercise toward them the loving beauty and grace of God, and binding them together and with Himself.

7. And—rather, "Accordingly": implying the motive cause which led Messiah to assume the office, namely, the will of the Father (Zec 11:4, 5), who pitied the sheep without any true shepherd.

I will feed—"I fed" [Calvin], which comes to the same thing, as the past tense must in Zechariah's time have referred to the event of Messiah's advent then future: the prophets often speaking of the future in vision as already present. It was not My fault, Jehovah implies, that these sheep were not fed; the fault rests solely with you, because ye rejected the grace of God [Calvin].

even you, O poor of the flock—rather, "in order that (I might feed, that is, save) the poor (humble; compare Zec 11:11; Zep 3:12; Mt 5:3) of the flock"; literally, not you, but, "therefore (I will feed)" [Moore]. See Margin, "Verily the poor." It is for the sake of the believing remnant that Messiah took charge of the flock, though He would have saved all, if they would have come to Him. They would not come; therefore, as a nation, they are "the flock of (that is, doomed to) slaughter."

I took … two staves—that is, shepherds' staves or rods (Ps 23:4). Symbolizing His assumption of the pastor's office.

Beauty—The Jews' peculiar excellency above other nations (De 4:7), God's special manifestation to them (Ps 147:19, 20), the glory of the temple ("the beauty of holiness," Ps 29:2; compare Ps 27:4; 90:17; 2Ch 20:21), the "pleasantness" of their land (Ge 49:15; Da 8:9; 11:16), "the glorious land."

Bands—implying the bond of "brotherhood" between Judah and Israel. "Bands," in Ps 119:61, Margin, is used for confederate companies: The Easterns in making a confederacy often tie a cord or band as a symbol of it, and untie it when they dissolve the confederacy [Ludovicus De Dieu]. Messiah would have joined Judah and Israel in the bonds of a common faith and common laws (Zec 11:14), but they would not; therefore in just retribution He broke "His covenant which He had made with all the people." Alexander, Antiochus Epiphanes, and Pompey were all kept from marring utterly the distinctive "beauty" and "brotherhood" of Judah and Israel, which subsisted more or less so long as the temple stood. But when Jehovah brake the staves, not even Titus could save the temple from his own Roman soldiery, nor was Jurian able to restore it.

And, or But, as the Hebrew particle is sometimes read: As for the greatest part, they are so corrupt and obstinately disobedient, I will cast them off;

but I will feed, & c. O therefore, so then, because it is the will of God that the flock of slaughter should. be fed, I will feed, &c.: the French version seems this way inclined. Je me suis done mis a paitre les brebis exposes tuerie: I am sent then to feed the sheep that are exposed to slaughter.

The flock of slaughter; either by the violence of their enemies, or by the monstrous negligence of their shepherds.

O poor of the flock: this is explicatory of the former, and by the ingemination of it shows us that God doth in his charge to the prophet typically, and in his charge to Christ antitype, distinguish clearly between people and people among the Jews, between those that were poor and forlorn, and those that were tyrannical, proud, cruel, and made a prey of them; these are left out of the pastoral charge, the other are taken care of.

I took unto me two staves: thus he enters on the actual exercise of his office, and takes two staves to himself, at the meaning whereof we can but guess. Two, say some, to signify the twofold way of Christ’s governing his people, by lenity and severity. Or, say others, to note his singular care and diligence in his office; when other shepherds content themselves with one, Christ takes two. Or what if hereby Christ would be provided with one to guide the flock, with another to repel such as would slaughter them, to protect against violence and to direct such as are meek. Christ hath his golden sceptre for his loyal and obedient subjects, and his iron rod for refractory rebels and violent enemies.

The one I called Beauty; or pleasantness, sweetness, and loveliness; this lay in the holiness of his precepts, the excellency of his comforts, the glory of his reward. This is the first, and answers to the character of the ways of wisdom, Proverbs 3:17; they are pleasantness. The ordinances of God, and the enjoyment of them, are the beauty of the Lord, and our beholding it, as David, Psalm 27:4.

The other I called Bands; either alluding to the lines wherewith the portion of the Holy Land was meted out to every one according to their lot; or referring to the obligations Christ lays on men to hold together in peace and unity. The beauty of grace and glory, the bands of love and peace.

And I fed the flock; with these in hand the shepherd undertakes to feed and rule this flock.

And I will feed the flock of slaughter,.... According to the call and commission he had from his divine Father, Zechariah 11:4 he determines to do as it was enjoined him, and as he had undertook:

even you, O poor of the flock; besides the people of the Jews in general, to whom Christ was sent, and he came to feed, there were a small remnant, according to the election of grace, he had a special regard for; and whom he fed by the word and ordinances with himself, the bread of life; and with the discoveries of his love, and with the covenant of grace, its blessings and promises, the sure mercies of David. These are called "the poor of the flock", because they were the poor of this world, as were the disciples and followers of Christ; "the poor have the Gospel preached unto them"; Matthew 11:5 and because they were spiritually poor, or poor in spirit, Matthew 5:3 who saw their spiritual poverty, and owned it; who bewailed it, and were humbled under a sense of it; and sought after the true riches; and acknowledged that all they had were owing to the grace of God: and who, as to the frame of their mind, are the meek and humble ones; or, as to their outward state and condition, afflicted ones, as the word (y) may be rendered; who were persecuted, reviled, reproached, and accursed by others, John 7:49 and, as to their gifts and graces, the meanest of God's people:

And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; Jarchi, agreeably to the Targum, interprets this of the division of the kingdom of Israel into two parts, in the times of Rehoboam and Jeroboam. Some think persons are meant. In the Talmud (z) it is explained of the disciples of the wise men in the land of Israel, who make each other pleasant by their doctrines; and of the disciples of the wise men in Babylon that corrupt one another, or object to one another: according to Aben Ezra, Zerubbabel and Nehemiah are intended: others, the good king Josiah, and the bad king Zedekiah: others the priest, and the king, as Abendana observes; and Kimchi explains it of the different manner in which the Lord led the people, according to their behaviour to him; when they behaved well, they had good kings and governors, which led them in a right way, and they were filled with good things; but when they behaved otherwise they had evil kings, and evil befell them. The first of these staves some render "clemency" (a) lenity, kindness, gentleness; and suppose it has respect to the kind and gentle manner in which God dealt with the Jews before the times of Christ, both as to civil and religious things; as to civil things, by bringing them into and settling them in a pleasant land, a land flowing with milk and honey; by giving them wholesome laws, by which they were governed, such as no other nation had; and by setting over them judges, to protect, defend, and deliver them; and kings to rule over them, very wise and good, especially some of them, David, Solomon, &c.: and as to religious things, by giving them a revelation of his mind and will, his word, statutes, and judgments, he did not give to other nations; and by sending prophets to instruct them in them, and stir them up to the observance of them; and by appointing a place of worship, and settling the form of it; setting apart men to the office of priests, and ordering sacrifices to be offered, with the whole of temple service; which were the beauty of the Lord, to be beheld in his sanctuary: and then the latter, called "Bands", which some render destroyers (b), may denote either the destruction of this people, when they sinned against God, either by the Chaldeans or by the Romans; when severity was exercised on them, and wrath came upon them to the uttermost, in the ruin of their nation, city, and temple: and others think these may refer to the different usage of the Roman emperors, with respect to the Jews, who, for the most part, used them kindly, until the times of Nero; but afterwards, by him and other emperors, they were treated very roughly, until they were utterly destroyed by them; but as it plainly appears from the context that this is spoken of no other shepherd but Christ, and of no other feeding but his, they must design the instruments he makes use of, and still continues to make use of, in feeding his people. Shepherds commonly have but one staff, rod, or crook; but Christ has two: so the psalmist makes mention of a "rod" and "staff", when speaking of Christ as a Shepherd, Psalm 23:4 and these two staves some interpret of his twofold way of government, lenity to his people, and severity to his enemies; but rather it denotes the very great diligence and care Christ takes of his flock, both in guiding and directing them, and in protecting and defending them from their enemies: he fed his people in his own person when here on earth, with his staff "Beauty", or "clemency"; he was sent, and came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel, and had great compassion on them, as being like sheep without a shepherd; their present shepherds, or who bore that name, being such as are before described: and his tenderness and gentleness towards them appeared in his calling sinners to repentance; in his gracious invitations to come unto him; by his kind reception of them; his affable and courteous deportment towards them; the gentle reproofs and suitable instructions he gave them, and the comfortable truths of the Gospel he delivered to them; and, during his personal ministry, he suffered his disciples to go nowhere else with his Gospel; and, at his resurrection from the dead, ordered them to begin preaching at Jerusalem, and to continue preaching to the Jews first everywhere, as they did, until they rejected the Gospel; and then Christ broke both his staves, or removed the Gospel, and the ordinances of it, which I think are meant by these staves: for these staves are not only ensigns of the shepherd, as instruments of guiding, directing, and protecting the flock; but emblematical, as their names show; and emblems they might be of the stay and staff of food, of the whole stay of bread, and the whole stay of water, Isaiah 3:1 and we find that Christ's rod and staff, in a mystical sense, are of use to feed, refresh, and comfort, as well as to guide and direct, Psalm 23:4 by the staff "Beauty" we are to understand the Gospel, which was preached to the Jews before the destruction of Jerusalem, which is beautiful and pleasant in itself; the doctrines of it are so, such as those of peace, pardon, righteousness, and salvation by Christ; and such are the promises of it, being absolute and unconditional, sure and suitable to the cases of God's people, and likewise its ministers, Isaiah 52:7 and the ordinances of it comely and lovely; and besides, it sets forth the beauty of Christ, and represents the saints' beautifulness in him; and it is like the shepherd's staff; of great use in feeding the flock, not only by supplying with food, being food itself, milk for babes, and meat for strong men; and by directing to Christ, his covenant and church, where it is to be had; but by setting right such who are going in wrong pastures; pushing forward such as are backward to duty; fetching back such as are driven away, or backslidden, and preserving the whole from wolves and bears: and by the other staff, "Bands", the ordinances of the Gospel are designed, which are of use to keep the saints together, and to direct them to proper food; particularly the ordinance of the Lord's supper, which, as it is a feeding ordinance, and sets forth Christ, as food for faith, his flesh which is meat indeed, and his blood which is drink indeed; so it is a knitting and uniting ordinance, and is fitly expressed by "bands"; is not only a means of knitting the affections to Christ, whose love is so fully expressed in it; but of uniting the hearts of believers to one another, who herein become one bread, and one body, and feed together; and have communion with each other, and maintain their church state in a comfortable manner; and keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace; and the ordinances of the Gospel, though they are such bonds as are disagreeable to graceless persons, who are for breaking them asunder; yet they are a yoke that is easy, and a burden light to the people of God, Psalm 2:3. It may be observed, that the word for "bands" is rendered "pilots", Ezekiel 27:8 and masters or governors of ships, Jonah 1:6 and is so rendered here (c); and as churches may be compared to ships, Revelation 8:9 so may ministers of the word to those who have the government and direction of them; and whose business lies in the ministration of the word, and the administration of ordinances, and taking care of the discipline of the Gospel: this seems to be the evangelic sense of these words; and they express the manner in which Christ fed his own dear people in Judea, partly by his own ministry, and partly by the ministry of his apostles, while he had an interest there, until the sins of that nation brought utter ruin upon them. It is a most ridiculous application made of these two staves by Antoninus, archbishop of Florence (d), that Zechariah, being of the Dominican order, took to him in the person of God two staves; the one he called "Beauty", which is the order of the preaching Friars; and the other "Bands", which is the order of the Minors:

and I fed the flock; with the said staves, as he had determined; which includes the doing of the whole office of a shepherd; taking an exact account of his sheep, that none be lost; going before them, and setting them an example in the exercise of grace and discharge of duty; leading them to the still waters of his Father's love; to the fountains and fulness of his own grace; to the rich provisions of his house, and the green pastures of Gospel ordinances; feeding them himself, and with himself, the bread of life, the hidden and heavenly manna; appointing shepherds under him, whom he qualifies to be pastors, gives them to his churches as such, and who receive from him the doctrines of the Gospel to feed them with; and protecting them from all their enemies, the roaring lion, Satan, wolves in sheep's clothing, false teachers, and the world's goats, who thrust with side and shoulder, and push with their horns of power; as well as by seeking that which is lost; bringing back that which is driven, or drawn away; binding up that which is broken; strengthening the weak; healing the sick; and watching over the whole flock night and day, lest any hurt them.

(y) "mites de grege", Grotius; "afflictos pecoris", Montanus; "afflictos gregis", Burkius. (z) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 24. 1.((a) "clementia", Cocceius. (b) "perditores", Munster; "destructores", Vatablus; "perdentes", Burkius. (c) "Nautae, vel gubernatores", Cocceius. (d) Apud Quistorpium in loc.

And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, {k} O poor of the flock. And I took to me {l} two staffs; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

(k) That is, the small remnant, whom he though worthy to show mercy to.

(l) God shows his great benefits toward his people to convince them of greater ingratitude, who would neither be ruled by his most beautiful order of government, neither continue in the bands of brotherly unity, and therefore he breaks both the one and the other. Some read Destroyers instead of Bands, but in Zec 11:14 the second reading is confirmed.

7. And I will feed] Rather, So I fed, in accordance with the command given me in Zechariah 11:4. Comp. “and I fed,” at the end of this verse.

even you] or, therefore: i.e. “So I fed the flock of slaughter: therefore (because I had been commanded to do so, fed I) the poor of the flock.” R. V. adopts A. V. margin: verily the poor of the flock.

two staves] two, instead of one as on becoming shepherd he would naturally have done, to denote, as the names given them imply, that his twofold aim in discharging his office would be to ensure the comeliness and the unity of the flock. The latter name, “Bands,” refers specially to the union between Judah and Israel.

Verse 7. - And I will feed. Thus the Greek and Latin Versions; but it should be, So I fed. It is the account of what the prophet did in accordance with the command in ver. 4 (see the end of this verse, "and I fed"). Even you, O poor of the flock. There is difficulty about the word rendered "you" (lachen) which may be the personal pronoun, or an adverb meaning "therefore," "therewith," "truly," or a preposition, "on account of;" Vulgate, propter hoc. The best rendering is, I fed the flock therefore the poor among the flock. "Therefore" refers to the previous command. It is also rendered "in sooth." The LXX., arranging the letters differently, translates, Ποιμανῶ τὰ πρόβατα τῆς σφαγῆς εἰς τὴν Ξαναανίτιν "I will go and tend the flock of slaughter in the land of Canaan;" some render the last words, "for the merchants." This Jerome interprets to mean that the Lord will nourish the Israelites for slaughter in the land of the Gentiles (but see note on ver. 6). And I took unto me two staves. Executing in vision his commission of feeding the flock, the prophet, as the representative of the Shepherd, took two shepherd's staves. The two staves intimate the manifold care of God for his flock from the earliest days, and the two blessings which he designed to bestow (as the names of the staves show), favour and unity. Beauty; Κάλλος (Septuagint); Decorem (Vulgate); "Graciousness" (Revised Version margin). It probably means the favour and grace of God, as in Psalm 90:17. Bands; literally, Those that bind; Σχοίνισμα, "Cord;" Vulgate, Funiculum. The name is meant to express the union of all the members of the flock, especially that between Israel and Judah (see ver. 14). These make one flock under one shepherd. I fed the flock. This repetition emphasizes the beginning of the verse, and expresses God's ears in time past and in time to come also. Zechariah 11:7From Zechariah 11:7 onwards the feeding of the flock is described. Zechariah 11:7. "And I fed the slaughtering flock, therewith the wretched ones of the sheep, and took to myself two staves: the one I called Favour, the other I called Bands; and so I fed the flock. Zechariah 11:8. And I destroyed three of the shepherds in one month." The difficult expression לכן, of which very different renderings have been given (lit., with the so-being), is evidently used here in the same sense as in Isaiah 26:14; Isaiah 61:7; Jeremiah 2:33, etc., so as to introduce what occurred eo ipso along with the other event which took place. When the shepherd fed the slaughtering flock, he thereby, or at the same time, fed the wretched ones of the sheep. עניּי הצּאן, not the most wretched of the sheep, but the wretched ones among the sheep, like צעירי הצּאן in Jeremiah 49:20; Jeremiah 50:45, the small, weak sheep. עניּי הצּאן therefore form one portion of the צאן ההרגה, as Hofmann and Kliefoth have correctly explained; whereas, if they were identical, the whole of the appended clause would be very tautological, since the thought that the flock was in a miserable state was already expressed clearly enough in the predicate הרגה, and the explanation of it in Zechariah 11:5. This view is confirmed by Zechariah 11:11, where עניּי הצּאן is generally admitted to be simply one portion of the flock. To feed the flock, the prophet takes two shepherds' staves, to which he gives names, intended to point to the blessings which the flock receives through his pastoral activity. The fact that he takes two staves does not arise from the circumstance that the flock consists of two portions, and cannot be understood as signifying that he feeds one portion of the flock with the one staff, and the other portion with the other. According to Zechariah 11:7, he feeds the whole flock with the first staff; and the destruction to which, according to Zechariah 11:9, it is to be given up when he relinquishes his office, is only made fully apparent when the two staves are broken. The prophet takes two staves for the simple purpose of setting forth the double kind of salvation which is bestowed upon the nation through the care of the good shepherd. The first staff he calls נעם, i.e., loveliness, and also favour (cf. Psalm 90:17, נעם יהוה). It is in the latter sense that the word is used here; for the shepherd's staff shows what Jehovah will thereby bestow upon His people. The second staff he calls חובלים, which is in any case a kal participle of חבל fo elpic. Of the two certain meanings which this verb has in the kal, viz., to bind (hence chebhel, a cord or rope) and to ill-treat (cf. Job 34:31), the second, upon which the rendering staff-woe is founded, does not suit the explanation which is given in Zechariah 11:14 of the breaking of this staff. The first is the only suitable one, viz., the binding ones, equivalent to the bandage or connection. Through the staff nō‛am (Favour), the favour of God, which protects it from being injured by the heathen nations, is granted to the flock (Zechariah 11:10); and through the staff chōbhelı̄m the wretched sheep receive the blessing of fraternal unity or binding (Zechariah 11:14). The repetition of the words וארעה את־הצּאן (end of Zechariah 11:7) expresses the idea that the feeding is effected with both staves. The first thing which the shepherd appointed by God does for the flock is, according to Zechariah 11:8, to destroy three shepherds. הכחיד, the hiphil of כּחד, signifies ἀφανίζειν, to annihilate, to destroy (as in Exodus 23:23).

את־שׁלשׁת הרעים may be rendered, the three shepherds (τοὺς τρεῖς ποιμένας, lxx), or three of the shepherds, so that the article only refers to the genitive, as in Exodus 26:3, Exodus 26:9; Joshua 17:11; 1 Samuel 20:20; Isaiah 30:26, and as is also frequently the case when two nouns are connected together in the construct state (see Ges. 111, Anm.). We agree with Koehler in regarding the latter as the only admissible rendering here, because in what precedes shepherds only have been spoken of, and not any definite number of them. The shepherds, of whom three are destroyed, are those who strangled the flock according to Zechariah 11:5, and who are therefore destroyed in order to liberate the flock from their tyranny. But who are these three shepherds? It was a very widespread and ancient opinion, and one which we meet with in Theodoret, Cyril, and Jerome, that the three classes of Jewish rulers are intended, - namely, princes (or kings), priests, and prophets. But apart from the fact that in the times after the captivity, to which our prophecy refers, prophesying and the prophetic office were extinct, and that in the vision in Zechariah 4:14 Zechariah only mentions two classes in the covenant nation who were represented by the prince Zerubbabel and the high priest Joshua; apart, I say, from this, such a view is irreconcilable with the words themselves, inasmuch as it requires us to dilute the destruction into a deposition from office, or, strictly speaking, into a counteraction of their influence upon the people; and this is quite sufficient to overthrow it. What Hengstenberg says in vindication of it - namely, that "an actual extermination cannot be intended, because the shepherds appear immediately afterwards as still in existence" - is founded upon a false interpretation of the second half of the verse. So much is unquestionably correct, that we have not to think of the extermination or slaying of three particular individuals,

(Note: The attempts of rationalistic commentators to prove that the three shepherds are three kings of the kingdom of the ten tribes, have completely broken down, inasmuch as of the kings Zechariah, Shallu, and Menahem (2 Kings 15:8-14), Shallum alone reigned an entire month, so that not even the ungrammatical explanation of Hitzig, to the effect that בּירח אחד refers to the reign of these kings, and not to their destruction, furnishes a sufficient loophole; whilst Maurer, Bleek, Ewald, and Bunsen felt driven to invent a third king or usurper, in order to carry out their view.)

and that not so much because it cannot be shown that three rulers or heads of the nation were ever destroyed in the space of a month, either in the times before the captivity or in those which followed, as because the persons occurring in this vision are not individuals, but classes of men. As the רעים mentioned in Zechariah 11:5 as not sparing the flock are to be understood as signifying heathen rulers, so here the three shepherds are heathen liege-lords of the covenant nation. Moreover, as it is unanimously acknowledged by modern commentators that the definite number does not stand for an indefinite plurality, it is natural to think of the three imperial rulers into whose power Israel fell, that is to say, not of three rulers of one empire, but of the rulers of the three empires. The statement as to time, "in one month," which does not affirm that the three were shepherds within one month, as Hitzig supposes, but that the three shepherds were destroyed in one month, may easily be reconciled with this, if we only observe that, in a symbolical transaction, even the distinctions of time are intended to be interpreted symbolically. There can be no doubt whatever that "a month" signifies a comparatively brief space of time. At the same time, it is equally impossible to deny that the assumption that "in a month" is but another way of saying in a very short time, is not satisfactory, inasmuch as it would have been better to say "in a week," if this had been the meaning; and, on the other hand, a year would not have been a long time for the extermination of three shepherds. Nor can Hofmann's view be sustained, - namely, that the one month ( equals 30 days) is to be interpreted on the basis of Daniel 9:24, as a prophetical period of 30 x 7 equals 120 years, and that this definition of the time refers to the fact that the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Macedonian empires were destroyed within a period of 210 years. For there is no tenable ground for calculating the days of a month according to sabbatical periods, since there is no connection between the yerach of this verse and the שׁבעים of Daniel, to say nothing of the fact that the time which intervened between the conquest of Babylon and the death of Alexander the Great was not 210 years, but 215. The only way in which the expression "in one month" can be interpreted symbolically is that proposed by Kliefoth and Koehler, - namely, by dividing the month as a period of thirty days into three times ten days according to the number of the shepherds, and taking each ten days as the time employed in the destruction of a shepherd. Ten is the number of the completion or the perfection of any earthly act or occurrence. If, therefore, each shepherd was destroyed in ten days, and the destruction of the three was executed in a month, i.e., within a space of three times ten days following one another, the fact is indicated, on the one hand, that the destruction of each of these shepherds followed directly upon that of the other; and, on the other hand, that this took place after the full time allotted for his rule had passed away. The reason why the prophet does not say three times ten days, nor even thirty days, but connects the thirty days together into a month, is that he wishes not only to indicate that the time allotted for the duration of the three imperial monarchies is a brief one, but also to exhibit the unwearied activity of the shepherd, which is done more clearly by the expression "one month" than by "thirty days."

The description of the shepherd's activity is followed, from Zechariah 11:8 onwards, by a description of the attitude which the flock assumed in relation to the service performed on its behalf. Zechariah 11:8. "And my soul became impatient over them, and their soul also became weary of me. Zechariah 11:9. Then I said, I will not feed you any more; what dieth may die, and what perisheth may perish; and those which remain may devour one another's flesh. Zechariah 11:10. And I took my staff Favour, and broke it in pieces, to destroy my covenant which I had made with all nations. Zechariah 11:11. And it was destroyed in that day; and so the wretched of the sheep, which gave heed to me, perceived that it was the word of Jehovah." The way in which Zechariah 11:8 and Zechariah 11:8 are connected in the Masoretic text, has led the earlier commentators, and even Hengstenberg, Ebrard, and Kliefoth, to take the statement in Zechariah 11:8 as also referring to the shepherds. But this is grammatically impossible, because the imperfect c. Vav. sonec. ותּקצר in this connection, in which the same verbal forms both before and after express the sequence both of time and thought, cannot be used in the sense of the pluperfect. And this is the sense in which it must be taken, if the words referred to the shepherds, because the prophet's becoming impatient with the shepherds, and the shepherds' dislike to the prophet, must of necessity have preceded the destruction of the shepherds. Again, it is evident from Zechariah 11:9, as even Hitzig admits, that the prophet "did not become disgusted with the three shepherds, but with his flock, which he resolved in his displeasure to leave to its fate." As the suffix אתכם in Zechariah 11:9 is taken by all the commentators (except Kliefoth) as referring to the flock, the suffixes בּהם and נפשׁם in Zechariah 11:8 must also point back to the flock (הצּאן, Zechariah 11:7). קצרה נפשׁ, to become impatient, as in Numbers 21:4. בּחך, which only occurs again in Proverbs 20:21 in the sense of the Arabic bchl, to be covetous, is used here in the sense of the Syriac, to experience vexation or disgust. In consequence of the experience which the shepherd of the Lord had had, according to Zechariah 11:8, he resolves to give up the feeding of the flock, and relinquish it to its fate, which is described in Zechariah 11:9 as that of perishing and destroying one another. The participles מתה, נכחדת, and נשׁארות are present participles, that which dies is destroyed (perishes) and remains; and the imperfects תּמוּת, תּכּחד, and תּאכלנה are not jussive, as the form תּמוּת clearly proves, but are expressive of that which can be or may happen (Ewald, 136, d, b).

As a sign of this, the shepherd breaks one staff in pieces, viz., the nō‛am, to intimate that the good which the flock has hitherto received through this staff will be henceforth withdrawn from it; that is to say, that the covenant which God has made with all nations is to be repealed or destroyed. This covenant is not the covenant made with Noah as the progenitor of all men after the flood (Kliefoth), nor a relation entered into by Jehovah with all the nationalities under which each nationality prospered, inasmuch as the shepherd continued again and again to remove its flock-destroying shepherds out of the way (Hofmann, Schriftbeweis, ii. 2, p. 607). For in the covenant with Noah, although the continuance of this earth was promised, and the assurance given that there should be no repetition of a flood to destroy all living things, there was no guarantee of protection from death or destruction, or from civil wars; and history has no record of any covenant made by Jehovah with the nationalities, which secured to the nations prosperity on the one hand, or deliverance from oppressors on the other. The covenant made by God with all nations refers, according to the context of this passage, to a treaty made with them by God in favour of His flock the nation of Israel, and is analogous to the treaty made by God with the beasts, according to Hosea 2:20, that they should not injure His people, and the treaty made with the stones and the beasts of the field (Job 5:23, cf. Ezekiel 34:25). This covenant consisted in the fact that God imposed upon the nations of the earth the obligation not to hurt Israel or destroy it, and was one consequence of the favour of Jehovah towards His people. Through the abrogation of this covenant Israel is delivered up to the nations, that they may be able to deal with Israel again in the manner depicted in Zechariah 11:5. It is true that Israel is not thereby delivered up at once or immediately to that self-immolation which is threatened in Zechariah 11:9, nor is this threat carried into effect through the breaking in pieces of one staff, but is only to be fully realized when the second staff is broken, whereby the shepherd entirely relinquishes the feeding of the flock. So long as the shepherd continues to feed the flock with the other staff, so long will utter destruction be averted from it, although by the breaking of the staff Favour, protection against the nations of the world is withdrawn from it. Zechariah 11:11. From the abrogation of this covenant the wretched among the sheep perceived that this was Jehovah's word. כּן, so, i.e., in consequence of this. The wretched sheep are characterized as השּׁמרים אתי, "those which give heed to me." אתי refers to the prophet, who acts in the name of God, and therefore really to the act of God Himself, What is affirmed does not apply to one portion, but to all, עניּי הצּאן, and proves that we are to understand by these the members of the covenant nation who give heed to the word of God. What these godly men recognised as the word of Jehovah, is evident from the context, viz., not merely the threat expressed in Zechariah 11:9, and embodied in the breaking of the staff Favour, but generally speaking the whole of the prophet's symbolical actions, including both the feeding of the flock with the staves, and the breaking of the one staff. The two together were an embodied word of Jehovah; and the fact that it was so was discerned, i.e., discovered by the righteous, from the effect produced upon Israel by the breaking of the staff Favour, i.e., from the consequences of the removal of the obligation imposed upon the heathen nations to do no hurt to Israel.

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