Zechariah 7:11
But they refused to hearken, and pulled away the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.
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7:8-14 God's judgements upon Israel of old for their sins, were written to warn Christians. The duties required are, not keeping fasts and offering sacrifices, but doing justly and loving mercy, which tend to the public welfare and peace. The law of God lays restraint upon the heart. But they filled their minds with prejudices against the word of God. Nothing is harder than the heart of a presumptuous sinner. See the fatal consequences of this to their fathers. Great sins against the Lord of hosts, bring great wrath from his power, which cannot be resisted. Sin, if regarded in the heart, will certainly spoil the success of prayer. The Lord always hears the cry of the broken-hearted penitent; yet all who die impenitent and unbelieving, will find no remedy or refuge from miseries which while here they despised and defied, but which they then will not be able to bear.But they gave a backsliding shoulder - Like a restive animal, which would not endure the yoke, dull and stupid as the beasts: as Hosea says, "Israel slideth back like a backsliding heifer" Hosea 4:16. Nehemiah confesses the same; "they gave a backsliding shoulder and hardened their neck and would not hear" Nehemiah 9:29.

And made heavy their ears - Fulfilling in themselves what God foretold to Isaiah would be the result of his preaching, "make their ears heavy." The heart, which will not hearken, becomes duller by the outward hearing, as Paul says, "The earth which drinketh in the rain that cometh oft upon it, and bringeth forth herbs meet for them by whom it is dressed, receiveth blessing from God; but that which beareth thorns and briars is rejected" Hebrews 6:7-8.

11. pulled away the shoulder—literally, "presented a refractory shoulder"; an image from beasts refusing to bear the yoke (Ne 9:29, Margin).

stopped … ears—(Isa 6:10; Jer 7:26; Ac 7:57).

But they refused to hearken; they wilfully were ignorant, ant, would not consider nor understand.

Pulled away the shoulder; next they shift from doing their duty, withdraw their shoulder from the yoke of the law, Nehemiah 9:29 Hosea 4:16.

And stopped their ears; and to make it highest contempt, they act the deaf man, stop their ears, and so turn their backs on God.

That they should not hear; all this out of an obstinate resolution to be unacquainted with God’s will and their own duty.

But they refused to hearken,..... That is, the Jews, before the captivity, refusal to give heed to the above exhortations, and obey the voice of God in them:

and pulled away the shoulder; from serving the Lord, and supporting his interest: or "they gave", or presented, "a rebellious shoulder" (f); a refractory one, that slides back, like a backsliding or refractory heifer, that will not admit of the yoke, Hosea 4:16 so these could not bear the yoke of the law, nor the burden of duty; nor suffer the words of exhortation, or receive the admonitions given them:

and stopped their ears, that they should not hear; like the deaf adder, Psalm 58:4 they would not hear, and pretended they could not; which was an instance of contempt to the speakers.

(f) "scapulam aversam", Pagninus; "deflectentem", Montanus; "rebellem", Munster, Tigurine version; "refractarium", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; so Ben Melech.

But they refused to hearken, and {l} withdrew the shoulder, and stopped their ears, that they should not hear.

(l) And would not carry the Lord's burden, which was sweet and easy, but would bear their own, which was heavy and grievous to the flesh, thinking to gain merit by it: which metaphor is taken from oxen, which shrink at the yoke; Ne 9:29.

11. pulled away the shoulder] Nehemiah 9:29; Hosea 4:16.

stopped] Lit. made heavy, i.e. dull. Comp. Isaiah 6:10. The same word is used of the eyes, Genesis 48:10, and of the tongue, Exodus 4:10.

Verse 11. - Pulled away the shoulder; they gave a stubborn, refractory shoulder, like an ox which refuses to have the yoke put on his neck, or draws hack when it feels the weight (Nehemiah 9:29; Hosea 4:16). Stopped their ears. Made their ears heavy. Τὰ ω΅τα αὐτῶν ἐβάρυναν (Septuagint); Isaiah 6:10; Isaiah 59:1. Three degrees of obduracy are named in this verse: they refused to listen; they resisted the warners; they exhibited open contempt for them. The full climax is given in the next verse. Zechariah 7:11The second word of the Lord recals to the recollection of the people the disobedience of the fathers, and its consequences, viz., the judgment of exile, as a warning example. The introduction of the prophet's name in the heading in Zechariah 7:8 does not warrant the strange opinion held by Schmieder and Schlier - namely, that our prophet is here reproducing the words of an earlier Zechariah who lived before the captivity - but is merely to be attributed to a variation in the form of expression. This divine word was as follows: Zechariah 7:9. "Thus hath Jehovah of hosts spoken, saying, Execute judgment of truth, and show love and compassion one to another. Zechariah 7:10. And widows and orphans, strangers and destitute ones, oppress not; and meditate not in your heart the injury of every brother. Zechariah 7:11. But they refused to attend, and offered a rebellious shoulder, and hardened their ears that they might not hear. Zechariah 7:12. And they made their heart diamond, that they might not hear the law and the words which Jehovah of hosts sent through His Spirit by means of the former prophet, so that great wrath came from Jehovah of hosts." כּה אמר is to be taken as a preterite here, referring to what Jehovah had caused to be proclaimed to the people before the captivity. The kernel of this announcement consisted in the appeal to the people, to keep the moral precepts of the law, to practise the true love of the neighbour in public life and private intercourse. Mishpat 'ĕmeth, judgment of truth (cf. Ezekiel 18:8), is such an administration of justice as simply fixes the eye upon the real circumstances of any dispute, without any personal considerations whatever, and decides them in accordance with truth. For the fact itself, compare Exodus 22:20, Exodus 22:21; Exodus 23:6-9; Leviticus 19:15-18; Deuteronomy 10:18-19; Deuteronomy 24:14; Isaiah 1:17; Jeremiah 7:5-6; Jeremiah 22:3; Ezekiel 18:8; Hosea 12:7, etc. רעת אישׁ אחיו, the injury of a man who is his brother (as in Genesis 9:5); not "injury one towards another," which would suppose a transposition of the אישׁ equals אישׁ רעת אחיו. In Zechariah 7:11, Zechariah 7:12 the attitude of the people towards these admonitions of God is described. Nâthan kâthēph sōrereth: to give or offer a rebellious shoulder, as in Nehemiah 9:29. The figure is borrowed from an ox, which will not allow a yoke to be placed upon its neck (cf. Hosea 4:16). To make the ears heavy (hikhbı̄d), away from hearing, i.e., so that they do not hear (cf. Isaiah 6:10). To make the heart diamond (shâmı̄r), i.e., as hard as diamond. A stony heart is a heart not susceptible to impressions (cf. Ezekiel 11:19). The relative אשׁר before shâlach refers to the two nouns named before, viz., tōrâh and debhârı̄m, though we need not on that account take tōrâh in the general sense of instruction. God also sent the law to the people through the prophets, i.e., caused them to preach it and impress it upon their hearts. The consequence of this obduracy of the people was, that "there arose great wrath from Jehovah" (cf. Zechariah 1:2; 2 Kings 3:27).
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