Zechariah 11:8 MEANING

Zechariah 11:8
Verse 8. - In executing the office of feeding the flock, three shepherds also I out off in one month; Septuagint, "And I will take away the three shepherds in one month." The article in the Hebrew and Greek seems to point to some known shepherds, three in number, unless we take it as "threes of the shepherds." Hence expositors have sought to find historical personages to whom the term might apply. Those who assert a pre-exilian origin for this part of the prophecy, suggest the three kings, Zachariah, Shallum, and Menahem; or, as Menahem reigned ten years, some unrecorded pretender, who started up at the time. Others see some Syrian monarchs in Maccabean times; or the three offices, king, prophet, priest; or the three dynasties that oppressed Israel, viz. the Babylonian, Medo-Persian, and Macedonian. All these interpretations fail in some point; and we are reduced to see herein a reference, as Cheyne says, to "the prompt and vigorous action of Jehovah's Shepherd in dealing with the evil shepherds, as well as in feeding the flock;" the number three being used indefinitely. Or we may find in this number an allusion to the three classes in ver. 5 - the buyers, the sellers, and the pitiless shepherds. The oppressors, external and internal, are removed and cut off in one month. To the prophet's eye all this seemed to take place in that short space of time. If anything more is intended, we may, with Keil and others, taking the month as consisting of thirty days, assume that ten days are assigned to the destruction of each shepherd, after each had fulfilled his allotted period - the number ten expressing perfection or completion. And my soul loathed them; literally, but my soul was straitened for them; i.e. was impatient, weary of them. These words begin a new paragraph, and refer, not to the three shepherds, but to the sheep, the Israelites. The prophet now shows how ill the people had responded to God's manifold care, and mingles with the past a view of their future ingratitude and disobedience which will bring upon them final ruin. God, as it were, was weary of their continual backslidings and obstinate perseverance in evil. (For the phrase, see Numbers 21:4; Judges 16:16; Job 21:4.) It is the opposite to long suffering. Their soul also abhorred me. They showed their abhorrence by their devotion to idols and their disinclination for all goodness.

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.Three shepherds also I cut off in one month,.... Not Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, as is suggested in the Talmud (e); nor David, Adonijah, and Joab, who died in the space of a month; nor the three kings, Jehoash, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, who died by the hand of their enemies in a very little time; which is the sense of some, as Abendana observes; nor the three last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, according to Aben Ezra; nor the three Maccabees, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, as Abarbinel; rather the three sects among the Jews, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, instead of which last some put the Herodians; and others the Scribes; though some are of opinion that the three sanhedrim or courts of judicature among the Jews are designed; but it seems best of all to interpret them of the three orders of magistrates among them, princes, prophets, and priests; and the "cutting" them "off" may denote the cessation of civil government, the sealing up of vision and prophecy, and the putting an end to sacrifice; which is much better than to interpret them of the three Roman emperors who succeeded Nero; that is, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, who were put to death by their own subjects, within the space of a year and some days (f); and which is a term of time that can not well be thought to be expressed by a month; which either signifies in general a small space of time; or, if a certain month is meant, either it designs the month Nisan, in which Christ suffered, when of right sacrifice should have ceased, as well as then prophecy was sealed up, and there was no more of it among the Jews, nor any civil government in their hands: or else the month Ab, in which the city of Jerusalem was burnt; and so an end was put in fact to all the above offices there. It may be that a month of years is intended, as in Revelation 11:2 and so Abarbinel here interprets it; though he applies it to the times of the Maccabees; but it may respect the thirty years, or thereabout, which were between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, within which compass of time the above events were actually and manifestly fulfilled:

and my soul loathed them; because they did not perform the duties of their office; the civil magistrate did not govern according to the laws of God; the prophets did not teach sound doctrine; and the priests did not do their service aright, nor teach the people the use and end of sacrifices, and in them direct to the Messiah, as they should have done: wherefore Christ expressed his dislike of them by words in his ministry, particularly in Matthew chapter twenty three, Matthew 23:1 and by deeds, causing vengeance to come upon them to the entire removal of them: or, "my soul was shortened", or "contracted in them", or "towards them" (g); his affections were lessened towards them; he loathed their ways and works, which were not good; and he rejected and cast them off as his people, and wrote a "loammi" on them; took away his Gospel from them, and abolished their civil and church state:

and their soul also abhorred me; which is the reason of the former; and so the Targum paraphrases it,

"and my Word cast them away, because their soul abhorred my worship;''

all ranks and orders of men among the Jews had Christ in abhorrence; they abhorred his person, his name, his miracles, his doctrines, his ordinances, and his people; this they did because of his mean appearance; and because of his inveighing against their traditions, superstitions, and immoralities; and this appeared by their contemptuous rejection of him as the Messiah; by their crucifixion of him; and by persecuting his disciples and followers.

(e) T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 9. 1.((f) Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Shepherds". (g) "et abbreviata est anima mea in eis", Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius; "coarctata est", Calvin; "contractabatur, vel contrahetsese", Vatablus; "contracta est", Drusius, Grotius.

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