Zechariah 13:4
And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:
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Zechariah 13:4-5. The prophets shall be ashamed every one of his vision — That is, of the extraordinary communication which he pretended to have received, when he uttered a prophecy which he knew to be false. Neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive — The true prophets were wont to wear rough or hairy garments, and therefore the false ones did the same, in order to pass off their impostures; but the words here imply that they should do this no longer. But he shall say, I am no prophet — The name they so much affected before, they shall quite disown. I am a husbandman; man taught me to keep cattle from my youth — Disclaiming all pretensions to the character of a prophet, he shall profess himself to be no other than a plain, ordinary labouring man, employed in husbandry from his youth. Mr. Harmer’s observations on this passage, which he justly parallels with the declaration of Amos 1:14, go to show the incompatibility of such active and laborious employments with the retired and sedentary life of those who were trained up in the schools of the prophets, in order to qualify themselves for that profession.

13:1-6 In the time mentioned at the close of the foregoing chapter, a fountain would be opened to the rulers and people of the Jews, in which to wash away their sins. Even the atoning blood of Christ, united with his sanctifying grace. It has hitherto been closed to the unbelieving nation of Israel; but when the Spirit of grace shall humble and soften their hearts, he will open it to them also. This fountain opened is the pierced side of Christ. We are all as an unclean thing. Behold a fountain opened for us to wash in, and streams flowing to us from that fountain. The blood of Christ, and God's pardoning mercy in that blood, made known in the new covenant, are a fountain always flowing, that never can be emptied. It is opened for all believers, who as the spiritual seed of Christ, are of the house of David, and, as living members of the church, are inhabitants of Jerusalem. Christ, by the power of his grace, takes away the dominion of sin, even of beloved sins. Those who are washed in the fountain opened, as they are justified, so they are sanctified. Souls are brought off from the world and the flesh, those two great idols, that they may cleave to God only. The thorough reformation which will take place on the conversion of Israel to Christ, is here foretold. False prophets shall be convinced of their sin and folly, and return to their proper employments. When convinced that we are gone out of the way of duty, we must show the truth of our repentance by returning to it again. It is well to acknowledge those to be friends, who by severe discipline are instrumental in bringing us to a sight of error; for faithful are the wounds of a friend, Pr 27:6. And it is always well for us to recollect the wounds of our Saviour. Often has he been wounded by professed friends, nay, even by his real disciples, when they act contrary to his word.The prophets shall be ashamed, every one of them - They who before their conversion, gave themselves to such deceits, shall be ashamed of their deeds; as, after the defeat of the seven sons of the chief priest Sceva, "fear fall on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified, and many that believed came and confessed and showed their deeds: many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together and burned them before all, and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily," Luke subjoins, "grew the word of God and prevailed" Acts 19:13-20.

Neither shall wear a rough garment to deceive Feigning themselves ascetics and mourners for their people, as the true prophets were in truth. The sackcloth, which the prophets wore Isaiah 20:2, was a rough garment of hair Isaiah 22:12; Jeremiah 4:8; Jeremiah 6:26, worn next to the skin 1 Kings 21:27; 2 Kings 6:30; Job 16:15, whence Elijah was known to Ahaziah, when described as "a hairy man, and girt with a girdle of leather about his loins" 2 Kings 1:8. It was a wide garment, enveloping the whole frame, and so, afflictive to the whole body. Jerome: "This was the habit of the prophets, that when they called the people to penitence, they were clothed with sackcloth."

4. prophets … ashamed—of the false prophecies which they have uttered in times past, and which the event has confuted.

rough garment—sackcloth. The badge of a prophet (2Ki 1:8; Isa 20:2), to mark their frugality alike in food and attire (Mt 3:4); also, to be consonant to the mournful warnings which they delivered. It is not the dress that is here condemned, but the purpose for which it was worn, namely, to conceal wolves under sheep's clothing [Calvin]. The monkish hair-shirt of Popery, worn to inspire the multitude with the impression of superior sanctity, shall be then cast aside.

It shall come to pass; by this means it will come to pass, such sharp reproofs, such impartial threats, such convincing arguments, will have a good effect.

The prophets shall be ashamed; these prophets will see their error, and be ashamed, and give over what they blush at, and is their shame.

Neither shall they wear a rough garment: such garments the true prophets were wont to wear, and these cheats had used them for a cover to their juggling hypocrisy; but when thoroughly convinced, none shall need pull, they will themselves cast off those garments.

To deceive; by first seeming to be more holy and strict than they are; and next, on such ill-grounded opinion of the holiness of their persons, draw them into their opinions, religion, and practice. It is an excellent work of the grace of God to recover deceivers, and to make them turn off the deceiver, and deal plainly and faithfully with others and themselves.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall be ashamed, everyone of his vision, when he hath prophesied,.... He shall be ashamed of the doctrines he has delivered, they will appear to all men so ridiculous and absurd; as the doctrines of merit, and the works of supererogation; of transubstantiation and purgatory; of pardons, penance, &c:

neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive; or, "a hairy garment" (q); such as the first and ancient inhabitants of the earth wore, who used the skins of beasts for covering, as Diodorus Siculus (r) observes: and Pausanias (s) says of the first natives of Locris, not knowing how to weave and make garments, used to cover their bodies, to preserve them from the cold, with the undressed skins of beasts, turning the hair outward, as more becoming: and such a hairy garment, or much like it, Elijah wore; hence he is called a hairy man, 2 Kings 1:8 and John the Baptist, who came in the power and spirit of that prophet, appeared in a like habit, clothed with camel's hair, Matthew 3:4 and in like manner good men, especially in times of distress and trouble, used to wander about in sheepskins and goatskins, Hebrews 11:37 which seem to be the same sort of raiment: and now, in imitation of such like good men, and true prophets of the Lord, particularly Elijah, the false prophets, as Jarchi and Kimchi observe, in order to deceive the people, and pass for true prophets, put on such rough and hairy garments, as if they were very humble and self denying men. Braunius (t) thinks the prophet may have respect to a custom among the idolatrous prophets, who used to clothe themselves with the skins of the sacrifices, and lie on them in their temples, in order to obtain dreams, and be able to foretell future things; of which See Gill on Amos 2:8 but it seems to have respect to the habits of the monks and friars, and of the different orders by which they are distinguished as religious persons, and gain respect and veneration among men; and under the guise of sanctity and devotion, and of an austere and mortified life, impose their lies and deceptions upon them; but now will lay their habits aside, as being ashamed of their profession and principles.

(q) "pallio pili", Montanus; "piloso", Pagninus; "chlamyde pilosa", Munster; "pallium ex pilis", Cocceius; "pallium pili", Burkius. (r) Bibliothec. l. 1. p. 21. (s) Phocica, sive. l. 10. p. 685. (t) De Vestitu Sacerdot. Heb. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 9. p. 97.

And it shall come to pass in that day, that the prophets shall {f} be ashamed every one of his vision, when he hath prophesied; neither shall they wear a rough garment to deceive:

(f) God will make them ashamed of their errors and lies, and bring them to repentance, and they will no more wear prophet's apparel to make their doctrine seem more holy.

4. shall be ashamed] Pusey compares Acts 19:18-20.

hath prophesied] Rather, prophesieth, as R. V.

a rough garment] Lit. a cloak of hair: a hairy mantle, R. V. The word for cloak, or cape, is that used for the mantle of Elijah (1 Kings 19:13; 1 Kings 19:19; 2 Kings 2:13-14), “the cape or wrapper, which, with the exception of a strip of skin or leather round his loins, formed, as we have every reason to believe, his sole garment.” Bibl. Dict., Art. Mantle. This cloak or cape was either woven of camels’ hair or was perhaps a sheep’s skin (μηλωτής LXX. Comp. 2 Kings 1:8; Genesis 25:25; Matthew 3:4). It would seem from this passage that it had been worn by succeeding prophets in imitation of Elijah, and so had come to be regarded as the badge of a prophet.

Verse 4. - Shall be ashamed. The falsity of their pretensions being now recognized, these prophets shall be ashamed to utter their oracles in public. When he hath prophesied; rather, when he prophesieth. A rough garment; a mantle of hair; Septuagint. δέῥῤιν τριχίνην: Vulgate, pallio saccino. Such was the mantle of Elijah (1 Kings 19:13, 19; 2 Kings 1:8; 2 Kings 2:13, 14) and of John the Baptist (Matthew 3:4), and it seems to have become the distinctive badge of the prophet, and was assumed by these pretenders in order to inspire confidence. Zechariah 13:4The house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem represent the whole nation here, as in Zechariah 12:10. This cleansing will be following by a new life in fellowship with God, since the Lord will remove everything that could hinder sanctification. This renewal of life and sanctification is described in Zechariah 12:2-7. Zechariah 12:2. "And it will come to pass in that day, is the saying of Jehovah of hosts, I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, they shall be remembered no more; and the prophets also and the spirit of uncleanness will I remove out of the land. Zechariah 12:3. And it will come to pass, if a man prophesies any more, his father and his mother, they that begat him, will say to him, Thou must not live, for thou hast spoken deceit in the name of Jehovah: and his father and his mother, they that begat him, will pierce him through because of his prophesying. Zechariah 12:4. And it will come to pass on that day, the prophets will be ashamed every one of his vision, at his prophesying, and will no more put on a hairy mantle to lie. Zechariah 12:5. And he will say, I am no prophet, I am a man who cultivates the land; for a man bought me from my youth. Zechariah 12:6. And if they shall say to him, What scars are these between thy hands? he will say, These were inflicted upon me in the house of my loves." The new life in righteousness and holiness before God is depicted in an individualizing form as the extermination of idols and false prophets out of the holy land, because idolatry and false prophecy were the two principal forms in which ungodliness manifested itself in Israel. The allusion to idols and false prophets by no means points to the times before the captivity; for even of gross idolatry, and therefore false prophecy, did not spread any more among the Jews after the captivity, such passages as Nehemiah 6:10, where lying prophets rise up, and even priests contract marriages with Canaanitish and other heathen wives, from whom children sprang who could not even speak the Jewish language (Ezra 9:2 ff.; Nehemiah 13:23), show very clearly that the danger of falling back into gross idolatry was not a very remote one. Moreover, the more refined idolatry of pharisaic self-righteousness and work-holiness took the place of the grosser idolatry, and the prophets generally depict the future under the forms of the past. The cutting off of the names of the idols denotes utter destruction (cf. Hosea 2:19). The prophets are false prophets, who either uttered the thoughts of their hearts as divine inspiration, or stood under the demoniacal influence of the spirit of darkness. This is evident from the fact that they are associated not only with idols, but with the "spirit of uncleanness." For this, the opposite of the spirit of grace (Zechariah 12:10), is the evil spirit which culminates in Satan, and works in the false prophets as a lying spirit (1 Kings 22:21-23; Revelation 16:13-14).

The complete extermination of this unclean spirit is depicted thus in Zechariah 13:3-6, that not only will Israel no longer tolerate any prophet in the midst of it (Zechariah 13:3), but even the prophets themselves will be ashamed of their calling (Zechariah 13:4-6). The first case is to be explained from the law in Deuteronomy 13:6-11 and Deuteronomy 18:20, according to which a prophet who leads astray to idolatry, and one who prophesies in his own name or in the name of false gods, are to be put to death. This commandment will be carried out by the parents upon any one who shall prophesy in the future. They will pronounce him worthy of death as speaking lies, and inflict the punishment of death upon him (dâqar, used for putting to death, as in c. Zechariah 12:10). This case, that a man is regarded as a false prophet and punished in consequence, simply because he prophesies, rests upon the assumption that at that time there will be no more prophets, and that God will not raise them up or send them any more. This assumption agrees both with the promise, that when God concludes a new covenant with His people and forgives their sins, no one will teach another any more to know the Lord, but all, both great and small, will know Him, and all will be taught of God (Jeremiah 31:33-34; Isaiah 54:13); and also with the teaching of the Scriptures, that the Old Testament prophecy reached to John the Baptist, and attained its completion and its end in Christ (Matthew 11:13; Luke 16:16, cf. Matthew 5:17). At that time will those who have had to do with false prophecy no longer pretend to be prophets, or assume the appearance of prophets, or put on the hairy garment of the ancient prophets, of Elias for example, but rather give themselves out as farm-servants, and declare that the marks of wound inflicted upon themselves when prophesying in the worship of heathen gods are the scars of wounds which they have received (Zechariah 13:4-6). בּושׁ מן, to be ashamed on account of (cf. Isaiah 1:29), not to desist with shame. The form הנּבאתו in Zechariah 13:4 instead of הנּבאו (Zechariah 13:3) may be explained from the fact that the verbs לא and לה frequently borrow forms from one another (Ges. 75, Anm. 20-22). On אדּרת שׂער, see at 2 Kings 1:8. למען כּחשׁ, to lie, i.e., to give themselves the appearance of prophets, and thereby to deceive the people. The subject to ואמר in Zechariah 13:5 is אישׁ from Zechariah 13:4; and the explanation given by the man is not to be taken as an answer to a question asked by another concerning his circumstances, for it has not been preceded by any question, but as a confession made by his own spontaneous impulse, in which he would repudiate his former calling. The verb הקנה is not a denom. of מקנה, servum facere, servo uti (Maurer, Koehler, and others), for miqneh does not mean slave, but that which has been acquired, or an acquisition. It is a simple hiphil of qânâh in the sense of acquiring, or acquiring by purchase, not of selling. That the statement is an untruthful assertion is evident from Zechariah 13:6, the two clauses of which are to be taken as speech and reply, or question and answer. Some one asks the prophet, who has given himself out as a farm-servant, where the stripes (makkōth, strokes, marks of strokes) between his hands have come from, and he replies that he received them in the house of his lovers. אשׁר הכּיתי, ἅς (sc., πληγάς) ἐπλήγην: cf. Ges. 143, 1. The questioner regards the stripes or wounds as marks of wounds inflicted upon himself, which the person addressed had made when prophesying, as is related of the prophets of Baal in 1 Kings 18:28 (see the comm.). The expression "between the hands" can hardly be understood in any other way than as relating to the palms of the hands and their continuation up; the arms, since, according to the testimony of ancient writers (Movers, Phniz. i. p. 682), in the self-mutilations connected with the Phrygian, Syrian, and Cappadocian forms of worship, the arms were mostly cut with swords or knives. The meaning of the answer given by the person addressed depends upon the view we take of the word מאהבים. As this word is generally applied to paramours, Hengstenberg retains this meaning here, and gives the following explanation of the passage: namely, that the person addressed confesses that he has received the wounds in the temples of the idols, which he had followed with adulterous love, so that he admits his former folly with the deepest shame. But the context appears rather to indicate that this answer is also nothing more than an evasion, and that he simply pretends that the marks were scars left by the chastisements which he received when a boy in the house of either loving parents or some other loving relations.

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