Zechariah Eleven

by Dr. Henry M. Morris

(taken from the Defender's Study Bible)

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Zechariah 11:1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Zechariah 11:2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.

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.

Zechariah 11:4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;

Zechariah 11:5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

Zechariah 11:6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

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.

two staves. The ancient Semitic shepherd commonly had two staves, one for driving off wild beasts attacking his flock, the other to help guide the sheep through difficult places. This Good Shepherd, however, cares for His sheep with a staff named “Beauty” (literally “grace,” by which He keeps them safe from their enemies) and one named “Bands” (by which He keeps His true flock united in Him).

Zechariah 11:8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

Three shepherds. Many speculations have been published concerning the identity of these false shepherds. Since the primary context of this section (Zechariah 9-11) centers in the first coming of Messiah, His rejection, and His triumphant second coming (note especially Zechariah 9:9-10; 11:12-13), especially as these events affect Israel, they most likely represent Jewish leaders who have led their people away from the true God and His Christ. Since there were three groups of such leaders—prophets (or teachers), priests, and kings—the false shepherds probably represent false prophets, false priests and false kings. Israel and Judah have had an abundance of each, especially around the time of Christ. In fact, they were responsible, humanly speaking, for having Him crucified.

one month. The suddenness of the “cutting off” of these false shepherds probably refers prophetically to the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the Romans, followed by the age-long dispersion of the Jewish people over all the world, climaxed in a.d. 135. There have been no Jewish prophets, priests or kings since (note Hosea 3:4). This evidently is also the dominant theme of the first six verses of this chapter. Even though the restoration of the temple had been completed and some were hoping the Messianic age was about to begin, Zechariah could foresee through divine inspiration that the true Shepherd of Israel would be rejected and His flock would be scattered (Zechariah 13:7).

Zechariah 11:9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

Zechariah 11:10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

cut it asunder. The Shepherd had made a covenant with the Gentiles (in this verse, “people” is plural) not to harm Israel while they served the true God. This covenant of gracious protection was finally broken after repeated rebellion, climaxed by Israel's rejection of their Messiah.

Zechariah 11:11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

Zechariah 11:12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

thirty pieces of silver. For the fulfillment of this remarkable prophecy five hundred years later, see Matthew 26:14-16. “Thirty pieces of silver” was the value placed on the fatal goring of a man's slave by his neighbor's ox (Exodus 21:32). The value of this divine Servant to His nation was greater than the wealth of the entire world, yet its leaders appraised His death as worth only the price of a dead slave.

Zechariah 11:13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

a goodly price. This is spoken in sarcasm, Zechariah acting out this visual prophecy and contemptuously rejecting the insulting price at which His shepherding ministry had been valued, speaking, of course, in the name of the true Shepherd who would come some day to His people, as described in Zechariah 9:9.

cast them to the potter. In addition to the price itself, the disposition of this blood money was also accurately foretold. See Matthew 27:3-10, where the prophecy is attributed to Jeremiah (for the reason for this seeming “mistake,” see the note on Matthew 27:9).

Zechariah 11:14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Zechariah 11:15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

Zechariah 11:16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

Zechariah 11:17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

idol shepherd. Because Israel will reject her Good Shepherd, God will send a foolish shepherd (Zechariah 11:15) who will seek to destroy them (Zechariah 11:16). He becomes an “idol” shepherd by demanding they worship him instead of the true Shepherd (Matthew 24:15-16; 2 Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:14-15). He is, of course, the Beast, or Antichrist.