Tanak Foundations-Concepts in Zechariah-Chapter 11

Zech 11.1-17 is a chapter about the destruction of the Jewish people and shows the reasons why.  The destruction of Jerusalem, the inhabitants, and the Temple are discussed in figurative terms.  There will be a contrast between the good shepherd and the bad shepherd.

v 1…Open your doors, O Lebanon (meaning “white mountain” and this relates to the Lebanon area, and it was a term for the Temple-Hab 2.17; Ezek 17.3, where sins were “made white” and where trees from Lebanon were used in its construction-1 Kings 7.2.  Some interpreters see this as a prophecy about the future destruction of the Temple in 70 AD. During the last 40 years before the destruction, starting the year Yeshua was crucified, the lot for the L’Yehovah goat that was sacrificed on Yom Kippur did not come out in the right hand of the high priest, neither did the scarlet cloth between the horns of the scapegoat turn white, signifying the sins of the people were forgiven, neither did the western lamp of the Menorah burn and the doors of the Sanctuary also opened on their own. Yochanon Ben Zakkai, a witness to this in the first century, said “O sanctuary, O sanctuary! Why do you trouble yourself” because he saw this passage in Zechariah relating to what was going on before the destruction of the Temple), that a fire may feed on your cedars.

v 2…Wail, O cypress for the cedar has fallen (if the loftiest in the country fall, then the lowest cypress has no chance), because the glorious trees have been destroyed (are idioms for what is lofty and powerful); wail, O oaks of Bashan (the Golan Heights) for the impenetrable forest (Lebanon, the cypress and Bashan stand for the land of Israel, Jerusalem and the Temple, etc) has come down (will become desolate).

v 3…There is a sound of the shepherds’ wail (rulers, kings wail in anguish), for their glory is ruined; there is a sound of the young lions’ roar (the princes) for the pride of the Jordan is ruined (the soil and the land).

v 4…Thus says the Lord my God; “Pasture the flock doomed to slaughter (the people of Israel-Zechariah will represent Yehovah as a shepherd who will now take over).

v 5…Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished, and those that sell them says, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I have become rich (they had their own advantages in mind)! And their own shepherds have no pity on them.’

v 6… For he shall no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the earth,” declares the Lord; “but behold, I shall cause men to fall into one another’s hand (the different factions who tried to rule over each other will fight in civil wars and destroy each other) and the power of his king (to whom each was subject); and they shall strike the land, and I shall not deliver them from their power (Yehovah will not rescue them or put any restraint on their tyrannical power).”

v 7…So I pastured (fed) the flock of slaughter, hence (in particular) the afflicted (the poor; the righteous: Psa 10.2-9; 14.6; 53.6; 35.10; 37.4; 40.17; 70.5; 72.4; 86.1; 109.16-22; Isa 10.2; 14.32; 41.17) of the flock. And I took for myself two staffs (shepherd’s staffs): the one I called Favor (Hebrew “noam” meaning beauty, pleasant” where the name “Naomi” comes from) and the other Union (Hebrew “chobelim” meaning brotherhood) so I pastured the flock (this is what he wanted for them and will give them).

v 8…Then I annihilated three of the shepherds (who strangled the flock; rulers of three empires-v 5) in one month (meaning “a short time”-Babylon, Medo-Persia and Greece were destroyed within 210 years) for my soul was impatient with them (the shepherds), and their soul also weary of me.

v 9… Then I said (when all means of saving them was in vain), “I will not pasture (feed) you (the flock). What is to die, let it die resolved to give them up to their fate; Israel “cut off”), and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated; and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

v 10…And I took my staff, Favor, and cut it in pieces (the good it brought is withdrawn), to break my covenant which I had made with the peoples (the covenant not to harm Israel is made with them in the Torah; this had to be done so that the nations could afflict Israel-v 5).

v 11…So it was broken on that day and thus the afflicted of the flock (the righteous) who were watching me realized that it was the word of the Lord.

v 12… And I said to them, “If it is good in your sight (the whole flock), give me my wages (for shepherding you during all of your history, acknowledge what I have done for you through repentance and faith), but if not (he will not force them), never mind.” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages (they withheld what was his due and insulted him with the price of a killed slave-Exo 21.32.  They did not consider his service to be any more valuable than a slave).

v 13… Then the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price (said ironically; this connects Zechariah’s prophecy with Jeremiah 18.1 through 19.15 and this also alludes to Judas) at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the Lord (the treasury).”

Now, verses 10 through 13 need to have the dots connected as to how this alludes to Yeshua a bit or there may be some confusion. Jer 7.1-11 says that Jeremiah is at the southern gate as the people come up, right above him in Herod’s Temple the Royal Stoa will be built, where Yeshua drove out the moneychangers. In Jer 7.12-34 we have Tophet which was right below the old city of David. So, Jeremiah is standing between where the Temple was and Tophet. It is the setting for the story of Lazarus and the Rich man. In the Royal Stoa, the Sanhedrin met at the time of Yeshua because they had moved out of the Chamber of the Hewn Stones in protest against the Romans. In Acts 4.1-5 we see the Sanhedrin is meeting, presided over by Annas. They met daily in the Royal Stoa the week before the Passover. So, when Yeshua drove out the moneychangers, they heard it-Mark 11.28. They plotted to kill Yeshua there-Matt 26.1-5; 14-16; Luke 22.1-16; John 11.45-57. Yeshua is arrested and goes through an illegal trial and is crucified. This prophecy is related to Jeremiah and not Zechariah in Matt 27.3-10 and here is why. We pick up some information on Judas in Acts 1.15-19 where Judas used the money to buy a potter’s field. There is a passage out of the Torah we need to look at in Exo 21.32 Yeshua is betrayed for thirty pieces of silver, the price of a gored slave. Annas and Caiaphas, being high priest that year were involved in Yeshua’s death. Both were Sadducees and did not believe in the prophecies of Zechariah, Jeremiah and believed that only the Torah was relevant. Judas goes to consult with these men and they can’t arrest Yeshua because of the people. So, they want it done secretly. Judas agrees to the silver, Yeshua is arrested and taken to trial. Judas has second thoughts but can’t give the money back because they are busy with the trial, so he goes into the Temple while Yeshua is crucified and brings it into the Temple. It can’t be used because it was blood money, but it is used to buy a burial field for the poor. They buy the potter’s field, exactly where Jeremiah is giving his prophecies. Judas comes to the same spot and hangs himself, and is buried there. It is called “Akeldama” meaning “field of blood.” The tombs of Annas and Caiaphas have been found there and he was the real villain. He was the most powerful person in Jerusalem, controlled the high priesthood and increased his wealth through his “bazaars” where Yeshua confronted the moneychangers. This area is where the judgment of the nations will take place and is considered the most cursed place on earth. Up above is the most blessed place on earth, the Temple. His tomb is a monument to his greatness, very large. Annas purchased Akeldama back around 41 AD during an auction. The Tomb was a Palestinian chicken coop and trashed. The blood money from Yeshua goes to buy this land that is eventually bought by Annas for his burial place, and because he did not believe in the prophets, he did not see it as the Tophet in Jeremiah, the most cursed place on earth. So, when you look at this passage in the sowd level, Caiaphas is paying Judas the price of a slave, or servant, and servant is a term for the Messiah. Also, the “ox” that gored the slave alludes to the fact that the ox was a pagan symbol for the gods in Mithraism, the Canaanites, Phoenicia and even Egypt. So, why does this say “the prophet Jeremiah” and not Zechariah? The people were more familiar with Jeremiah 7, 18, 19 and related it to Zech 11 by remez, and would have been seen by them in what is called block logic. The prophecy in Zechariah “flowed out of” Jeremiah and had its beginnings in Jeremiah but it ended in Zechariah, making a “block”).

v 14…Then (as a result of his shameful wages) I cut my second staff, Union, in pieces, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel (he will no longer feed the disagreeable flock).

v 15…And the Lord said to me, “Take again for yourself the equipment of a foolish shepherd (since they rejected the Good Shepherd, they were getting a wicked one).

v 16… For behold, I am going to raise up a shepherd in the land (who has imperial power; the Roman Empire) who will not care for the perishing, seek the scattered, heal the broken, or sustain the one standing, but will devour the flesh of the fat sheep and tear off their hoofs (they destroyed the Jewish state).

v 17…Woe to the worthless shepherd (opposite of the good shepherd) who leaves the flock (to perish)! A sword (God’s sword will come upon Rome) will be on his arm (with which he should have defended the flock against predators) and on his right eye (with which he should have watched the sheep-John 10.12-13)! His arm will be totally withered, and his right eye will be blind (Rome’s power will be broken; with this, the threats concerning the worldly imperial powers in Zech 9-11 is concluded).”

Posted in Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Tanak, Verse-by-Verse Bible Studies

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