DESTRUCTION OF THE
POLITY FOR THE
1. Open thy doors, O Lebanon--that is, the temple so called, as being
constructed of cedars of Lebanon, or as being lofty and conspicuous like
that mountain (compare
Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the tract called
"Massecheth Joma" states, its doors of their own accord opened, and
Rabbi Johanan in alarm said, I know that thy desolation is impending
according to Zechariah's prophecy. CALVIN
supposes Lebanon to refer to Judea, described by its north
boundary: "Lebanon," the route by which the Romans, according to JOSEPHUS, gradually advanced towards Jerusalem. MOORE, from HENGSTENBERG, refers the
passage to the civil war which caused the calling in of the Romans,
who, like a storm sweeping through the land from Lebanon, deprived
Judea of its independence. Thus the passage forms a fit introduction to
the prediction as to Messiah born when Judea became a Roman province.
But the weight of authority is for the former view.
2. fir tree . . . cedar--if even the cedars
(the highest in the state)
are not spared, how much less the fir trees (the lowest)!
forest of . . . vintage--As the vines are stripped of their grapes
in the vintage (compare
so the forest of Lebanon "is come down," stripped of all its beauty.
Rather, "the fortified" or "inaccessible forest" [MAURER]; that is, Jerusalem dense with houses as a thick
forest is with trees, and "fortified" with a wall around. Compare
where its desolate state is described as a forest.
3. shepherds--the Jewish rulers.
their glory--their wealth and magnificence; or that
of the temple, "their glory"
young lions--the princes, so described on account of their cruel
pride of Jordan--its thickly wooded banks, the lair of "lions"
(Jer 12:5; 49:19).
Image for Judea "spoiled" of the magnificence of its rulers ("the young
lions"). The valley of the Jordan forms a deeper gash than any on the
earth. The land at Lake Merom is on a level with the Mediterranean Sea;
at the Sea of Tiberias it falls six hundred fifty feet below that
level, and to double that depression at the Dead Sea, that is, in all,
1950 feet below the Mediterranean; in twenty miles' interval there is a
fall of from three thousand to four thousand feet.
4. The prophet here proceeds to show the cause of the destruction just
foretold, namely, the rejection of Messiah.
flock of . . . slaughter--
God's people doomed to slaughter by the Romans. Zechariah here
represents typically Messiah, and performs in vision the actions
enjoined: hence the language is in part appropriate to him, but mainly
to the Antitype, Messiah. A million and a half perished in the Jewish
war, and one million one hundred thousand at the fall of Jerusalem.
"Feed" implies that the Jews could not plead ignorance of God's will to
execute their sin. Zechariah and the other prophets had by God's
appointment "fed" them
with the word of God, teaching and warning them to escape from coming
wrath by repentance: the type of Messiah, the chief Shepherd, who
receives the commission of the Father, with whom He is one
and Himself says
"I will feed the flock of slaughter." Zechariah did not live to
"feed" literally the "flock of slaughter"; Messiah alone "fed" those
who, because of their rejection of Him, were condemned to slaughter.
Jehovah-Messiah is the speaker. It is He who threatens to inflict the
(Zec 11:6, 8).
The typical breaking of the staff, performed in vision by Zechariah
is fulfilled in His breaking the covenant with Judah. It is He who was
sold for thirty pieces of silver
(Zec 11:12, 13).
5. possessors--The buyers
[MAURER], their Roman oppressors,
contrasted with "they that sell men." The instruments of God's righteous
judgment, and therefore "not holding themselves guilty"
It is meant that they might use this plea, not that they actually
used it. Judah's adversaries felt no compunction in destroying them; and
God in righteous wrath against Judah allowed it.
they that sell them--(Compare
The rulers of Judah, who by their avaricious rapacity and selfishness
(Joh 11:48, 50)
virtually sold their country to Rome. Their covetousness brought on
Judea God's visitation by Rome. The climax of this was the sale of the
innocent Messiah for thirty pieces of silver. They thought that Jesus
was thus sold and their selfish interest secured by the delivery of Him
to the Romans for crucifixion; but it was themselves and their country
that they thus sold to the Roman possessors."
I am rich--by selling the sheep
In short-sighted selfishness they thought they had gained their object,
and hypocritically "thanked" God for their wicked gain (compare
say . . . pity--In Hebrew it is
singular: that is, each of those that sell them
saith: Not one of their own shepherds pitieth
them. An emphatical mode of expression by which each individual is
represented as doing, or not doing, the action of the verb
refers the singular verbs to
true actor; the wicked shepherds being His unconscious instruments.
For I will no more pity, with the Hebrew "pitieth
6. Jehovah, in vengeance for their rejection of Messiah, gave them
over to intestine feuds and Roman rule. The Zealots and other factious
Jews expelled and slew one another by turns at the last invasion by
his king--Vespasian or Titus: they themselves
had said, unconsciously realizing Zechariah's words, identifying Rome's
king with Judah's ("his") king, "We have no king but Cæsar." God
took them at their word, and gave them the Roman king, who "smote
(literally, 'dashed in pieces') their land," breaking up their polity,
when they rejected their true King who would have saved them.
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
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
Symbolizing His assumption of the pastor's office.
Beauty--The Jews' peculiar excellency above other nations
God's special manifestation to them
(Ps 147:19, 20),
the glory of the temple ("the beauty of holiness,"
Ps 27:4; 90:17;
the "pleasantness" of their land
Da 8:9; 11:16),
"the glorious land."
Bands--implying the bond of "brotherhood" between Judah and Israel.
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
Messiah would have joined Judah and Israel in the bonds of a
common faith and common laws
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.
8. Three shepherds . . . I cut off--literally, "to
cause to disappear," to destroy so as not to leave a vestige of them.
The three shepherds whom Messiah removes are John, Simon, and Eleazar,
three leaders of factions in the Jewish war
Or, as Messiah, the Antitype, was at once prophet, priest, and
king, so He by the destruction of the Jewish polity destroyed these
three orders for the unbelief of both the rulers and people
If they had accepted Messiah, they would have had all three combined in
Him, and would have been themselves spiritually prophets, priests, and
kings to God. Refusing Him, they lost all three, in every sense.
one month--a brief and fixed space of time
Probably alluding to the last period of the siege of Jerusalem, when
all authority within the city was at an end [HENDERSON].
loathed them--literally, "was straitened" as to them; instead of being
enlarged towards them in love
(2Co 6:11, 12).
The same Hebrew as in
No room was left by them for the grace of God, as His favors were
rejected [CALVIN]. The mutual distaste that
existed between the holy Messiah and the guilty Jews is implied.
9. Then said I--at last when all means of saving the nation had been
used in vain
I will not--that is, no more feed you. The last rejection of the
Jews is foretold, of which the former under Nebuchadnezzar, similarly
described, was the type
(Jer 15:1-3; 34:17; 43:11;
Perish those who are doomed to perish, since they reject Him who would
have saved them! Let them rush on to their own ruin, since they will
have it so.
eat . . . flesh of another--Let them madly perish by mutual discords.
JOSEPHUS attests the fulfilment of this prophecy of threefold calamity: pestilence and famine ("dieth . . . die"), war ("cut off . . . cut
off"), intestine discord ("eat . . . one . . . another").
10. covenant which I made with all the people--The covenant made
with the whole nation is to hold good no more except to the
elect remnant. This is the force of the clause, not as
and others translate. The covenant which I made with all the