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Zechariah - Part 3 Oracle Concerning YHWH’s Sovereignty (9:1-11:17)

Coming of the True King

Zechariah 9-14 makes up the third main division of the book, the others being the night visions of chaps. 1-6 and the oracles on fasting in chapters. 7-8. This final division itself consists of two parts, the oracle concerning the nations (chaps. 9-11) and that concerning Israel (chaps. 12-14). As we explained in the Introduction to Zechariah, though most scholars accept the unity of this part of the book, very few nonconservatives view chapters 9-14 as originating with Zechariah the prophet. Usually they attribute it to a “Zecharianic school” or argue that it, along with Malachi, was a late addition to the minor prophets corpus, having no original connection to Zechariah. “Evidence” for this is the phrase “oracle of the Word of YHWH,” which occurs at Zech. 9:1; 12:1; Mal. 1:1. Because most critics also assume that Malachi was written by an anonymous author, “Malachi” (meaning only “my messenger”), these last two oracle sections of Zechariah make up, with Malachi, a trio of anonymous prophetic compositions that were joined because of the common formula and alleged common anonymity.518

One must admit that once he begins a careful study of chapters 9-14 he is immediately made aware of the change of mood, outlook, style, and composition of this part of the book compared to the first eight chapters. The grammar, syntax, and lexicography are much more complex, and the text-critical nature of the material itself suggests that Zech. 9-14 has raised its own special difficulties since the earliest times.

One need only continue his analysis of the material at hand to realize, however, that the prophet in this section has entered another realm of thought and perspective, must as did Isaiah in the latter part (chaps. 40-66) of his work. To fail to see this (or to ignore its implications) and then to argue, on the basis of differences, that the same author could not write the whole is to beg the question.519 Moreover, to deny that a single author could change his compositional techniques to accommodate different genres or tasks is to place restraints on ancient writers that modern critics would not tolerate if placed on themselves by others. The perspective of Zech. 9-14 is different from the first part of the book. It is primarily eschatological, it lacks any indisputable connection to contemporary persons or events, and it is dominated by cryptic allusions to cosmic, redemptive, and messianic themes that have no accompanying interpretation, contrary to the case in Zech. 1-8. In short, the prophet has broken free of the mold in which he cast the material of the first part and has created a new form in which to express the grand and glorious ideas that permeate his thinking in the second part. One of these key ideas is the coming of the true king (9:1-17), proper preparation for which is of utmost importance (9:1-8).

    A. Historical and Eschatological Preparation for His Coming (9:1-8)


1Oracle (of) the Word of YHWH concerning the land of Hadrach, Damascus being its focus: *The eyes of men, especially of the tribes of Israel, are toward YHWH, 2(as are those of) Hamath also, which adjoins it (and) Tyre and Sidon, though (they are) very wise. 3Tyre built herself a fortification and piled up silver like dust and gold like the mud of the streets. 4Nevertheless the Lord will dispossess her and cast her strength into the sea—she will be consumed by fire. 5Ashkelon will see and be afraid, Gaza will be in great anguish, as will Ekron, for her *hope has been *dried up; the king will be lost to Gaza, and Ashkelon will no longer be inhabited. 6A mongrel (people) will dwell in Ashdod, for I will cut off the pride of the Philistines. 7I will remove their blood from their mouth and their abominable things from their teeth; then they will become a remnant for our God, like a clan in Judah, and Ekron will be like Jebusites. 8Then I will encamp about My house (to protect) as a *guard from anyone crossing to and fro; so no one will cross over against them anymore (as an) oppressor, for now I myself have seen it.

Exegesis and Exposition

The Masoretic tradition begins this second section (and indeed the whole division, chaps. 9-11) with the single word aC*m^ (massa), best translated “oracle.” This technical term in prophetism derives from the verb ac*n` (nasa), “to lift, carry.” Hence, some versions translate massa, “burden.” Though this may be helpful in suggesting that the Word of YHWH entrusted to the man of God becomes a responsibility or load he must bear or risk divine displeasure, or it conveys a message burdensome to his audience, the etymological nuance does not adequately communicate the sense of joy and privilege that also attended prophetic proclamation. It is better, therefore, to employ a more neutral term, such as oracle or speech, to convey the full sense of the term.520

It is also worth noting that in addition to its reference to foreign nations, massa occurs in eschatological contexts, particularly in Isaiah (13:1; 14:28; 15:1; 17:1; 19:1; 21:1, 11, 13; 22:1; 23:1). Nahum and Habakkuk introduce their entire books with this term, books that have eschatological elements. The piling up of eschatological language and themes in Zech. 9-14 makes it beyond doubt that massa as used by Zechariah is within that prophetic framework.

Though massa serves as an introduction, perhaps even as a heading, to Zech. 9, it most likely should be taken as a noun in construct to the next phrase, that is, “the oracle of the word of YHWH concerning the land of Hadrach.” The Masoretic accent appears to support this, and the syntax favors it as well.521 For the first time in the book the prophet directs a message to or about or against pagan nations, vision seven (5:5-11) being a possible exception. But he does so to provide a backdrop to the coming of the messianic king who will take his royal throne as a result of conquest. The Word of YHWH concerns Hadrach because Hadrach is the first place in the line of march. It is most likely that this place name (Er`d=j^, hadrak) refers to the well-known Hatarikka cited in the annals of Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 B.C.) of Assyria.522 This was a province or district located to the south of Aleppo, reaching perhaps as far as Damascus. If so, Zechariah may be saying that Damascus was the “seat” or capital of the Hadrach region. Thus the word hj*n%m=, (menuha, “resting-place”) could be rendered “seat.” Comparison with Ugaritic texts and with 1 Chron. 28:2; Ps. 132:7; and Isa. 66:1 shows that it can mean “throne dais,” however, so that Damascus may be the throne-center of the Hadrach region.523 What makes this interpretation problematic is the masculine pronominal suffix on menuha whereas its antecedent, “land” (or even Hadrach), is feminine. Both “YHWH” and “Word” are masculine, and either could be the referent. In the former case one would then translate “Damascus is his throne-dais.”524 In the latter, the rendering would be, “Damascus is its resting-place” in the sense of its focus, a meaning given in the translation above. The oracle, then, is addressed to Hadrach in general but specifically or beyond that to Damascus.525

However Hadrach and Damascus are otherwise related, Damascus is clearly to the south. The beginning of an itinerary can be perceived, a march moving from north to south, ending at last at Jerusalem (v. 8). The march has no sooner begun when it commands the attention of all the surrounding peoples, including Israel. This at least appears to be the meaning of the rather confusing “for to YHWH is the eye of man and all the tribes of Israel” (1b). Efforts to emend “eye of man” to “Aram has committed iniquity” (BHS) are unsuccessful because this necessitates that Israel also be included as perpetrators of sin that causes YHWH to move south in judgment. If anything is clear, it is that He has not come to judge but to save His people (v. 8). Furthermore, removal of “man” (better, “mankind”) here softens the tone of universalism that is so dominant throughout the oracle. What is in view is that the triumphant procession of YHWH has captured the attention of the whole world.526 To refer to God’s people as the “tribes of Israel” in this postexilic period points to the eschatological milieu of the passage, a time when the scattered tribes will be reassembled.

Particularly concerned about YHWH’s activities, in addition to Israel, are Hamath, bordering on Damascus (v. 2), and Tyre and Sidon. If Damascus is coming in for God’s wrath, can these other places be far behind? Jeremiah, in an oracle against Damascus, had spoken also of the consternation of Hamath because of Damascus’s problems (Jer. 49:23). Tyre (Isa. 23:1-17; Jer. 25:22; 47:4; Ezek. 26-28; Amos 1:9-10) and Sidon (Isa. 23:3, 4, 12; Jer. 25:22; Ezek. 27:8; 28:21) receive a great deal of attention in judgment oracles, and despite their self-ascribed wisdom (v. 2b, cf. Ezek. 28:3-5, 12) once more stand in threat of divine punishment.

Hamath was a territory to the west and north of Damascus, occasionally cited as on the northern border of Israel, roughly the territory of modern-day Lebanon (Num. 13:21; Josh. 13:5; Amos 6:14). Tyre and Sidon lay west and northwest of Damascus on the Mediterranean coast and were celebrated for their merchandising and for their strategic locations and invulnerability. Their names often are symbolic of human pride (Ezek. 28:2, 6, 9, 17). Zechariah notes that Tyre had built up fortifications behind which she amassed and hoarded her great revenues of silver and gold (v. 3), precious metals in such abundance as to be compared to the very dust and mud of the city streets (Ezek. 27:33; 28:4, 5).

All this will come to nought, however, for YHWH will strip away all her resources and cast her “power” into the sea, burning what is left (v. 4). For the first time Zechariah uses the divine epithet Adonai (yn`d)a&, “the Lord”) rather than YHWH. Ordinarily YHWH is pointed with the Hebrew vowels of Adonai and read Adonai by the Masoretes and pious modern Jews. The name means “lord” or “sovereign” and is used here most appropriately in describing YHWH’s procession in war against his foes (cf. Deut. 3:23; 9:26; Pss. 37:13; 55:9 [HB 55:10]; 59:11 [59:12]; 110:5; Isa. 10:16, 23; 22:5, 12; 28:2, 22; 40:10; 65:15; Ezek. 9:8; Amos 8:9, 11; Zeph. 1:7; Zech. 9:14).527

Commentators are divided as to what is being cast (lit., “destroyed”) into the sea in v. 4.528 The Hebrew word ly]j^ (hayil) with a pronominal suffix looks exactly like lj@ (hel) with certain suffixes. Hayil means “strength, wealth, army” (BDB, 298) whereas hel means “fortress, rampart” (ibid.). The apparent chiasm of the passage can perhaps resolve the issue. Tyre had built a fortification (A) and accumulated wealth (B). Now she will lose her wealth, that is, be dispossessed (B), and her fortifications will be cast into the sea (A). Thus v. 3a and v. 4b are a matching pair as are 3b and 4a.529 In this manner, literary construction may provide a clue to meaning.

The list of those places, filled with consternation at YHWH’s coming, continues with Ashkelon, Gaza, and Ekron, all Philistine city-states (v. 5). When Ashkelon sees what has happened to her northern neighbors, she will be afraid, Gaza even more so, and Ekron most of all. Gaza will lose its king and Ashkelon its entire population. A chiastic pattern is observable once again with Ekron in the midst of the city list: Ashkelon-Gaza-Ekron-Gaza-Ashkelon.530 A fourth city, Ashdod, will be occupied by a mongrel people (v. 6). When all is said and done, proud Philistia will be shamed and embarrassed.

Philistia, like the nations and cities already mentioned, comes in for strong rebuke in the oracles of other prophets as well. Amos spoke of the destruction of Gaza by fire (Amos 1:7), a disaster that would burn its palaces to the ground (cf. Zech. 9:5). He predicted that Ashdod would be depopulated (1:8), Ashkelon would lose her ruler (1:8), and Ekron would be struck by the hand of YHWH (1:9). Zephaniah, in similar language, describes the abandonment of Gaza, the desolation of Ashkelon, the evacuation of Ashdod, and the uprooting of Ekron (Zeph. 2:4).

In summation, Zechariah declares that the blood of the Philistines will be removed from their mouth and their “abominable things” from their teeth. Thoroughly chastened and purified, Philistia will become a remnant for God, like a clan in Judah. Ekron, one of her city-states, will be like the Jebusites who, by Zechariah’s time, had been totally assimilated into Judah. Ekron, the center of the chiasm suggested above, may, by synecdoche, represent all the Philistine cities and thus speak of a more general redemption of a Philistine remnant.531

The blood and abominable things refer, also by synecdoche, to the religious perversions of the Philistines. This no doubt included the slaughter of animals that were considered by Israelites as being unclean and the eating of animal flesh that had not been properly drained of its blood in line with ritual requirement.532 Unfortunately too little is known of the Philistine cult to be able to understand precisely what these practices might have been.533 It is also possible to consider another figure here, that of hyperbole. The Philistines were a particularly cruel and violent people who showed little mercy for their victims (Judg. 16:21; 1 Sam. 31:8-10). One could say in modern idiom that they were “bloodthirsty,” the exact idea that may be in mind here.

The “abominable things,” however, seem to point to the former idea, that of despicable religious activity. The Hebrew word here (JQ%v!, siqqus) suggests acts and objects associated with paganism.534 Deuteronomy describes the idolatry of Egypt and the wilderness nations with this term (Deut. 29:17), while Hosea uses it to speak of Israel’s apostate behavior at Baal-Peor (Hos. 9:10). Nahum prophesies that Nineveh someday will be covered by siqqus because of her idolatry and witchcraft (Nah. 3:6). Jeremiah equates such abomination with adultery and whoredom (Jer. 13:27). But it is Ezekiel who uses the word the most, a fact that is important in light of Ezekiel’s priestly, cultic interest. He says that Israel has defiled the Temple with her abominations (5:11). Also, he points out that Israel’s abominable behavior was in direct contrast to the covenant requirements that bound them to YHWH (11:21). The time will come, however, when she will put such detestable things behind her, including her addiction to idolatry (37:23).

The removal of these things, as well as suggesting the conversion of the Philistines, should be taken in the sense of bringing these evils to an end. As an expression of his dominion, YHWH will terminate the degrading and offensive practices of the pagan world. This is certainly the intent of the passage, for the whole thrust is that of the campaign of YHWH toward the holy city, one in which He brings all hostile forces under His control. This being the case, one must take Philistia’s description as a clan and Ekron’s as a Jebusite (v. 7b) in a contrastive way. These heathen people will be included within the covenant of God, but only in the small numbers of a remnant. The point of vv. 5-7a is the awesome wrath of YHWH against the Philistines (and by extension the preceding nations as well), a judgment that leads to the reversal in v. 7b.

The word [L%a^ (allup), sometimes rendered “chief” or something similar, also means “clan” or “family.” Thus in the famous passage in Micah, the prophet addressing Bethlehem, says, “You who are too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you will come forth one who is to be ruler in Israel” (5:2). This hyperbole, among other things, shows that an allup is a small jurisdiction indeed. The Philistine remnant, then, will be so reduced in size as to be like a Judean allup. Similarly, Ekron will be like the Jebusites who, at their historical greatest (cf. 2 Sam. 5:6-10), were an insignificant people. After David’s conquest of their city, Jerusalem, they must have been assimilated by the Israelites until there were virtually none at all left.

When the itinerary is complete, YHWH says that He will have arrived at His house, that is, the Temple, and will surround it with His own presence so that no hostile force can ever again oppress His people. The guarantee of this is that YHWH has already seen it (v. 8). This anthropomorphic assertion is a way of describing the foreordination and immutability of YHWH’s purposes. What He sees in advance must surely come to pass.535

The march that commenced in the North will overwhelm successively Hadrach, Damascus, Hamath, Tyre, and Sidon, and four of the Philistine cities. It will end at Jerusalem with YHWH, triumphant in His procession, standing guard over His house and His people. In the tradition of holy war He has come against the foe, defeated him in battle, and established Himself as ruler in His royal palace. This is precisely the pattern seen elsewhere in such holy war passages as Ex. 15:1-18, many of the Psalms (e.g., 2, 9, 24, 29, 46, 47, 48, 65, 68, 76, 77:17-21 [EB 77:16-20], 89b, 97, 98, 104, 106:9-13, 110), Isaiah (11:1-9, 42:10-16, 43:16-21, 51:9-11, 52:7-12), and Habakkuk 3:1-19.536

This leads then to the question of the historicity of or, better, the historical reality that lies behind Zech. 9:1-8 (and, indeed, much of chaps. 9-14). Scholars have been so hopelessly divided on this matter that the pericope, and with it sometimes all of Zech. 9-14, has been dated all the way from the time of Tiglath-Pileser III537 (745-727 B.C.) of Assyria to the time of the Maccabees in the second century B.C.538 This range of possibilities has arrived from efforts to pinpoint the scenes of conquest depicted here and relate them to known historical campaigns. The fact that scholarship as a whole has never even approached consensus on the matter ought long ago to have rendered this kind of subjective method obsolete.539 Unfortunately that is not the case, as even recent studies show.540

What has traditionally been overlooked is that this is eschatological literature which, though being grounded in the present time of the prophet (hence, well-known place names), views the future in very stylized and conventional patterns. The point here is that YHWH, like many conquerors before Him in human history, will manifest Himself in the last days as a vanquishing hero. Because most conquests of Palestine originated in the north, He will come from the north as well, smashing all hostile powers before Him until He comes to Zion, the city where He is pleased to live among men. One should not, therefore, look to precise historical events of which this is an account, nor should one even anticipate a future scenario in which God will literally march from Hadrach to Jerusalem, establishing his dominion over all opposition. What is at hand is a formulaic way of asserting an unquestionably literal establishment of YHWH’s kingship in the end times, a suzerainty to be achieved in the pattern well known to Zechariah and his fellow countrymen on the human level. The next section (vv. 9-10) will put this beyond doubt.

Additional Notes

9:1 Various expedients have been pursued to make this phrase more intelligible. Some scholars emend <d*a* to <r`a* and /yu@ to yr@u* and render, “the cities of Aram. “ Others read hm*d*a& /yu@, “surface of the earth,” which Dahood supports even without the final h; (M. Dahood, “Zachariah 9:1: “`EN ADAM,” CBQ 25 [1963]:123-24. P. van Zijl, citing Akkadian and Ugaritic parallels, sees the “eye of YHWH” as His sovereignty and providence. By taking the preposition l as the asseverative, he translates, “Behold, Yahweh is the eye of man, as well as all the tribes of Israel.” The meaning, he says, is that if people know that YHWH is the all-seeing eye they will beware of Him P. J. van Zijl, “A Possible Interpretation of Zech. 9:1 and the Function of ‘the Eye’ [`Ayin] in Zechariah,” JNSL 1 [1971]:59-67. That the superstition of the “evil eye” of the ancient Near Eastern world (as of van Zijl) would be linked to divine providence and power in the OT is extremely doubtful. For the views of the medieval rabbis Rashi, Ibn Ezra, and Qimhi, and of many modern scholars, see E. Zolli, “‘Eyn Adam (Zach. IX 1),” VT 5 (1955):90-92. Zolli himself proposes that ‘Eyn Adam is a city, one mentioned in Josh. 3:16 as Adam and known today as Ed-Damieh. Adam was located in the Jordan Valley and because of its association with spring flooding was called ‘“Eyn Adam,” taking /yu@ as “fountain” or “spring” rather than “eye.” Zechariah, Zolli says, is harking back to the days of conquest under Joshua as a sign of YHWH’s ongoing victories. This is admittedly ingenious, but it seems difficult to believe that only here was the saga of Adam celebrated as a paradigm of past glory.

9:5 The difficult Hf*B*m#, as presently pointed, requires a noun fB*m^ (BDB, 613), “expectation,” plus 3 f.s. suffix. However, there is a better attested noun jf*b=m!, “confidence” (BDB, 105), though the sense would demand a /m! prefixed preposition as well as the pronominal suffix, or hj*f*b=M!m=. Another possibility is (so Tg. Ps.-J.) the noun jf^B#, “security” (BDB, 105), thus hj*f*b=m!. The LXX reads “from her hope,” apparently a reflection of the first option, the one accepted here as well.

vyb!h): “Dried up” —rather than the common translation “confounded” (NASB) or “shamed,” taken to be the hiphil participle of voB—is preferred here. This is based on the hiphil perfect of the stative verb vb@y`, “be dry” (BDB, 386), a meaning that suits the use with “hope” better. This does require an agent, most likely Adonai of v. 4. Cf. A. Deissler, Zwlfpropheten III. Zefanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, 294.

9:8 For hb*X*m!, “guard, watch?” (BDB, 663), which is a hapax legomenon (from bx^n`, “take a stand”), Mitchell (p. 272) suggests that the LXX presupposes hb*X@m^ “pillar.” This is possible, but in addition to rejecting the more difficult reading, it is hard to see what a cult object of this kind (or even a memorial post) is doing in this context. One would have to suppose something like, “I will encamp about My house like a (protective) pillar from anyone,” etc. The translation “guard” seems feasible in every way. It is likely, moreover, that the LXX presupposes hb*X*m^ (“fortification”) for its ajnavsthma. See T. Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 69 n. 24. KBL (p. 554) reads our form hb*X*m^ rather than hb*X*m! as in BDB and MT. Perhaps, as a few MSS attest, it is to be understood as ab*X*m!, i.e., “from” or “against the army,” with hb*X*m! as an aural error for ab*X*m!. For a good discussion, see Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 49-51.

    B. Historical and Eschatological Event of His Coming (9:9-10)


9Rejoice greatly, daughter of Zion;

Shout, daughter of Jerusalem.

Look! Your king is coming to you;

He is legitimate and victorious,

Humble and riding upon an ass,

Upon a young ass, foal of a she-ass.

10I will *cut off the chariot from Ephraim

And the horse from Jerusalem;

And the battle-bow will be cut off.

Then He will speak peace to the nations.

His dominion will be from sea to sea

And from the river to the ends of the earth.

Exegesis and Exposition

This text is one of the most messianically significant passages of all the Bible, in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Judaism sees in it a basis for a royal messianic expectation,541 whereas the NT and Christianity see a prophecy of the triumphal entry of Jesus Christ into Jerusalem on the Sunday before His crucifixion (Matt. 25:5; John 12:15). Thus, though the fulfillment may be in dispute, there is unanimous conviction that a descendant of David is depicted here, one who, though humble, rides as a victor into his capital city Jerusalem. The way will have been prepared by the imposition of universal peace, following which the king will exercise dominion over the whole world.

It is obvious that the Christian interpretation as presented in the NT does not square exactly with the full dimensions of the prophecy, for Jesus, though described as having entered Jerusalem in precisely the manner envisioned by Zechariah, died within days of the event, never having been accepted as king or having made any active claim to the throne of David. The response to this dilemma within the Christian tradition has been to see the Triumphal Entry as a historical prototype of an eschatological event that must yet take place.542 His entry into Jerusalem was as much for the purpose of demonstrating the fact that the time for dominion had indeed not come as it was for displaying at least some measure of the glory that would attend His coming when everything was ready at the end. The servant who would someday be exalted as king must first of all suffer and die on behalf of those who would make up His kingdom in the ages to come.

It is important to make this distinction, one inherent already in the Zechariah passage but certainly not clearly spelled out. One clue to the anticipation of a twofold event—a Palm Sunday as well as eschatological procession—lies in the clear difference in tone or emphasis between v. 9 and v. 10. In v. 9 the coming one, designated king to be sure, nevertheless is described as “humble” or “lowly,” a most inappropriate way to speak of one whose triumph is complete in every respect. Only in v. 10 is that triumph translated into universal dominion. The lowly one of v. 9, though victorious in some sense, does not achieve the fruits of that victory until v. 10.543

Admittedly, exegesis of the passage apart from New Testament considerations would never uncover the distinction just suggested between the verses.544 There is every appearance here of a single message, announcing the arrival of a just and lowly king who will triumph over his foes, establish worldwide peace, and reign over a universal kingdom. His elevation from humility to sovereignty appears to occur almost simultaneously with his arrival in Jerusalem.

But this is precisely why the Christian exegete must do his work against the backdrop of the entire revelation of God, OT and NT alike. All judgments about the OT text must be suspended until the fullness of the biblical witness is brought to bear. Then and only then can one be said to be doing biblical exegesis in the proper sense of the term, for exegetical method must embrace a hermeneutic of the whole and must recognize the indispensable contribution of a synthetic, comprehensive biblical theology.545 The passage in question (and any other in fact) must seek its fullest meaning in subsequent revelation, particularly when that revelation takes pains (as in this case) to cite an antecedent passage and offer its own interpretation.

This does not relieve the exegete of the task of viewing the passage in its own historical, cultural, and literary context, however. It is already apparent that these verses belong to the larger pericope concerning the coming of the true king (9:1-17) and that they have been introduced by the account of YHWH’s triumphant march from Hadrach to Jerusalem (9:1-8).546 The question of the relationship between the southward procession and the entry of the king into the holy city must now be addressed.

The matter is complicated by the ambiguity of subject throughout. It seems clear from v. 4 that Zechariah is tracing the course of Adonai’s movements against the various lands of vv. 1-7. Presumably the speaker in v. 7 is YHWH, even though Zechariah refers to “our God.” YHWH clearly is the subject of v. 8, for He encamps around His house, almost certainly a reference to the Temple. Since YHWH is speaker in 7a and 8, it must be He who also says “our God” in 7b.547 This is at first difficult to comprehend, but one must remember that such self-references on the part of God are not at all unusual (see in Zechariah alone 1:12; 6:12-13, 15; 8:9; 10:12; 12:7-9; 14:1-3).

The speaker of vv. 9-10 must also be YHWH, as the cutting off of the instruments of war in v. 10 suggests. Therefore, the king in view cannot be YHWH, though His regal procession is the culmination of that undertaken by YHWH in vv. 1-8. YHWH, in an apostrophe to Zion, refers to the coming king as a separate individual, one who cannot be YHWH Himself because of his lowly estate (v. 9e). The “he” of v. 10d most naturally refers to the king, as does “his” dominion in 10e.

What emerges from this interweaving of subjects and persons is a distinction between YHWH and the king on one hand and a merging of the two on the other.548 The merging occurs inasmuch as the king comes into Jerusalem (v. 9c), just as YHWH had done in the less direct allusion in v. 8. A reasonable conclusion is that YHWH, in the person of the king, had undertaken the march from Hadrach south, culminating in His triumphal entry into Jerusalem. “Behold, your king comes!”549

A glance at our translation of the passage reveals a rather tightly constructed poem of 12 lines arranged essentially in six couplets of virtually synonymous parallel members (9a, b; 10e, f), a modified terraced structure (9e, f; 10a, b), and members related in a logical fashion (9c, d; 10c, d). The formal symmetry is complemented by a symmetry of content, both by comparison and by contrast.550 Thus, lines 1 and 2 speak of the center of the king’s dominion as being Zion or Jerusalem. Lines 11 and 12 describe its perimeters as the whole extent of the earth itself. The two bicola could thus form a merismic inclusio embracing the totality of the king’s sphere of sovereignty. The central thrust of lines 3 and 4 is that the king is triumphant and just, a notion supported by lines 9 and 10 which form a counterpart. Finally, lines 5 and 6 depict the king riding in humility upon a lowly ass, a young one at that. Lines 7 and 8, on the contrary, speak of the destruction of the horse-drawn chariots and the steeds of the cavalry, proud animals on which rode even prouder warriors. There can be no doubt that this magnificent poem is a self-contained literary piece that nonetheless depends upon its setting for its full meaning.

Once YHWH has secured Jerusalem against hostile intruders (v. 8), her king is able to enter. This should elicit spontaneous outbursts of joyful acclamation, for the king is coming to her, legitimate in his role and victorious in his accomplishments. The tenderness of YHWH’s address to the city may be seen in the expressions “daughter of Zion” and “daughter of Jerusalem.” He has chosen her for Himself (1:14, 17) and in the person of the king has come to live in her midst (8:2-3).551

The coming of a king to Israel in the last days, and in particular the offspring of David, is a promise and hope that permeate the OT. David himself understood that YHWH would settle His people in a permanent dwelling (2 Sam. 7:10) and would make of his lineage an everlasting dynasty (2 Sam. 7:11-13). Many of the psalms echo this promise. Psalm 2 proclaims God’s affirmation that He has set His king upon His holy hill Zion (v. 6) and that He will bequeath to Him, as His son, all the nations as an inheritance (vv. 7-8). In even more striking terms the author of Psalm 45 refers to the king as elohm, describing His throne as everlasting (v. 6 [HB v. 7]). Psalm 89 promises that David’s seed will be established forever and His throne set through all generations (v. 4 [HB v. 5]).

The prophets, too, anticipate the coming messianic king. Isaiah speaks of the “son” on whose shoulder the responsibility of government will be laid. Following a list of his exalted and glorious epithets, the prophet goes on to say that there will be no end to the growth of his kingdom and that from the throne of David he will rule with justice and righteousness (Isa. 9:6-7). The same prophet anticipates a throne established on hesed, the fundamental principle of covenant relationships, and on this throne will sit one from the line of David “judging, seeking justice, and quick do to righteousness” (16:5). Amos prophesies the raising up of the fallen “hut” of David, the clearing away of its ruins, and the rebuilding of its palaces as in days long ago (9:11).

Zechariah, then, stands in a long tradition of hope of a rejuvenated Davidic kingship. Like the prophets just cited and others, he sees the king of the Triumphant Entry as righteous and “legitimate” or “vindicated” (qyD!x^, saddq), that is, as wholly suitable and declared to be such in His exercise of sovereignty.552 Moreover, He is victorious if, indeed, this is the correct understanding of uv*on (nosa`) in v. 9d. This niphal form of the verb uv^y` means literally “delivered” or “saved,” so as He comes the king is “legitimate” and “delivered.” In the context of v. 8 this is a reasonable interpretation, for there YHWH is said to have encamped about His house, thereby protecting it from enemy attackers. Nevertheless, it seems better to take the word as meaning victorious, that is, He is delivered, having overcome His foes.553 Many of the versions render the participle as active, yielding the translation “saving (one)” or “savior.”554 This may presuppose a different Hebrew Vorlage,555 or understand the niphal as reflexive, “showing himself a Savior, Deliverer.”556 In either case, this shifts the attention from the king to the objects of His salvation, a view that seems out of line with the overall impression of the passage, namely, that of a triumphal or victorious entry.

No sooner has the poet exalted the king by describing His victorious entrance than he abruptly turns to His mode of transportation, one that seems most unbecoming to a great monarch. He is “lowly,” riding on an ass. By itself the reference to the ass is not a sign of a humble station, for kings are known to have ridden even mules, Solomon himself being a case in point (1 Kings 1:33).557 But here the king is described as lowly, a term (yn]u, `an) commonly employed with reference to the most impoverished and despised elements of Israelite society,558 and He rides not just on an ass (romj&, hamor) but on a young ass (ry]u^, `ayir), offspring of a she-ass (/ota*, aton).559 This is hardly expressive of a conquering hero riding at the head of victorious armies, but speaks of peace and humility.560

Within our context, again, the lowliness of the king is set in startling juxtaposition to His victorious arrival (v. 9a-d) and the destruction of YHWH’s enemies (v. 10a-d), precisely to magnify the fact that whatever success the king achieves must be attributed to the enabling power of YHWH. David’s response to the promise to him that his (David’s) dynasty would endure forever reflects this same amazing juxtaposition. “Who am I,” he asked, “and what is my family that you brought me to this point” (2 Sam. 7:18). It is most evident to David that his promotion to king from the shepherd fields of Bethlehem was a rise from lowly humility to lofty eminence.

Isaiah speaks of the servant of YHWH in a similar vein. The servant “will be highly exalted and lifted up,” he said (Isa. 52:13). From such a degraded position that He was hardly recognizable as a man He would startle and put to silence the nations of the earth and their rulers (vv. 14-15). From the unpromising beginning of a tender plant and root from dry soil (53:2) He would ultimately share equally with the rich and great (53:9, 12). Though Isaiah here does not identify the servant as a king, in another servant passage he declares that the chosen servant will establish justice in the earth (42:4). This is much in line with the sentiment of Zechariah 9:9d and 10d.

The NT use of our passage is most interesting.561 Both Matthew and John clearly understand Jesus to be the triumphant king, but neither quotes more than v. 9. Matthew says, “Look! Your king is coming to you, meek and riding on an ass, and on a colt, foal of an ass” (Matt. 21:5)562. He quotes Zechariah 9:9c, e-f only, omitting “He is legitimate and victorious” (9d). Matthew is fully aware that it is not appropriate to view the whole passage as predictive of the triumphal entry of Jesus in the gospel era, for He was not indeed riding in triumph.563 Lines a, b, and d of v. 9 and all of v. 10 await a future eschatological fulfillment (cf. Rev. 19:11-16).

John’s citation is even more brief: “Look! Your king comes, sitting on an ass’s colt” (12:15). While Matthew sees Jesus as the king, but a king in humble and peaceful circumstances, John emphasizes the peaceful element alone.564 Thus only the portion of Zechariah’s announcement that is appropriate to that stage of Jesus’ ministry is adduced by the evangelists.

Zechariah, addressing the strictly eschatological aspect of the king’s coming, sees a day when YHWH will deliver Ephraim (that is, Israel) and Jerusalem (that is, Judah) from the encroachments of the enemy nations (9:10a-c). The passage as a whole requires this interpretation as opposed to one that sees Ephraim and Jerusalem themselves being disarmed by YHWH.565 Verse 8 has already made it clear that it is the enemy without that requires Him to encamp around His Temple. Moreover, v. 10d suggests that once the instruments of war are broken off there will be peace among the nations. They will no longer have either the means or the will to continue their bellicose ways. This peace will accompany or issue from the universal rule of the king, for YHWH now refers in the third person to Him (10c-e). From “sea to sea” can mean from the Gulf of Aqaba to the Mediterranean, and from “the river to the ends of the earth” is a way of describing everything from the Euphrates to Arabia and Africa. Here, however, the scope is much broader, for the prophet’s view is the cosmic one typical of eschatological prophecy.566

Additional Notes

9:10 The unexpected first person subject here has induced the LXX and other witnesses to read tyr]k=h! (hiph. pf. 3 m.s.) for yT!r^k=h! (hiph. pf. 1 c.s.). The resulting translation would be, “He will cut off the chariot from Ephraim,” etc. Although this provides good continuity with the use of the third person pronoun in vv. 9d and 10d, e, the lectio difficilior should favor MT. Besides, YHWH has already promised to defend His people in v. 8, so there is no surprise in His resumption of that promise here.

    C. Deliverance and Conquest of His People (9:11-17)


11Moreover, as for you, because of the blood of your covenant, I will release your prisoners from the pit where there is no water. 12Return to the stronghold, you prisoners, with hope; today I am declaring that I will return double to you. 13I will bend Judah (as) My (bow), I will fill the bow with Ephraim, I will stir up your sons, O Zion, against yours, O Greece, and I will make you like a warrior’s sword. 14Then YHWH will appear over them, and His arrow will go forth like lightning; the Lord God will blow the trumpet and will sally forth on the southern storm-winds. 15YHWH of hosts will guard them, and they will devour, and will subdue with sling-stones. Then they will drink, and will become clamorous as with wine, full like the (sacrificial) basin, like the corners of the altar. 16In that day YHWH of hosts will deliver them as the flock of His people, for (they are) the precious stones of a crown sparkling over His land. *17How precious and fair! Grain will make the young men flourish and new wine the young women.

Exegesis and Exposition

This pericope flows naturally from the preceding one and, therefore, the addressee here, as in v. 9, must be Zion or Jerusalem. The connection is established by the particle <G~ (gam), “moreover,” which indicates that the one who has been promised such wonderful blessings as the coming king will provide has even more to anticipate.567 The introduction of v. 11 by the independent personal pronoun T=a^ (at, “you”) draws attention to that pronoun, as our nominative absolute translation suggests. It is you, Zion, who are the special object of YHWH’s saving purpose.

Using the metaphor of imprisonment, YHWH says He will release Zion’s prisoners from the waterless pit. This is a backward reference to the release and restoration of the Babylonian exiles as a historical type, though nowhere else is the word “pit” (roB, bor) used to describe that experience.568 Pits, however, were common places of confinement in the ancient world. Joseph was thrown into a pit—one, it should be noted, without water (Gen. 37:24). Jeremiah, too, was incarcerated in a pit without water (Jer. 38:6). The significance of this is that pits frequently were dug precisely to contain water, so that one without it was unusual. Moreover, a waterless pit would guarantee quick death by thirst unless one were supplied with drinking water.569

Isaiah, referring most likely to Cyrus, says that YHWH had called him to “bring the prisoners from the prison and those who dwell in darkness from the place of confinement” (Isa. 42:7). These prisoners, as the context puts beyond doubt (cf. 42:16, 18, 19; 43:8), are the Jewish exiles. They had been, as it were, in a waterless pit of captivity. Isaiah also speaks of the condition of the people in exile as one of thirst and dryness (41:17; 43:20; 44:3; 55:1), a metaphor for their spiritual craving for the familiar places and practices of the homeland.570

If, indeed, there is reference here to an historical deliverence, the prophet still has an eschatological one primarily in mind as the entire context attests. God’s people had been in the “pit” of Babylonian exile, but they would find themselves in a worse predicament in the end of the age. From that pit God would again retrieve them according to His faithfulness to His covenant promises. What He has done in the past provides encouragement for those who face an uncertain and even hopeless future.

The basis for the release of the prisoners from the pit, Zechariah says, is “the blood of your covenant.” This remarkable statement is most likely a synecdoche in which the blood, the sign of the covenant, stands for the covenant itself.571 The offering of sacrifices was an indispensable element of covenant making in the ancient Near East. The death of the animal involved, represented by the spilling of its blood, was part of a covenant sanction and suggested not only the binding together of the partners in covenant but the punishment that could be expected were one of the parties to violate its terms. One example of many that could be given is particularly apropos of the covenant here in Zechariah, and that is the sealing of the Sinaitic covenant with blood (Ex. 24:1-8).572 Once the general and specific stipulations had been disclosed and Israel had sworn to enter covenant with YHWH, an altar and 12 pillars were erected at the foot of the mountain. Peace-offerings then followed, the blood of which was dashed against both the altar, symbolizing YHWH, and the pillars, symbolizing the 12 tribes. Moses then said, “Look, the blood of the covenant” (v. 8), the very terminology used by Zechariah.573 Clearly, then, YHWH has released the prisoners from Babylonian exile because of the covenant He had made with His people long ago. This is what He had promised to do in the great blessings sections of the covenant texts of Leviticus (26:40-45) and Deuteronomy (30:1-10).

Now that the release from bondage has been effected, YHWH exhorts the prisoners to return to the stronghold (v. 12a). The hapax legomenon form here (/orX*B!, bissaron) is a biform of the regular noun meaning “fortification” (rx*b=m!, mibsar). In the present passage it is a metaphor to describe the very opposite of pit or prison, that is, a place of deliverance and security. This cannot mean Judah or Jerusalem, however, for they have already returned to these places.574 What is in view is YHWH as a stronghold, an idea that is very common in the OT (Pss. 18:2 [HB 18:3]; 31:3 [HB 31:4]; 71:3; 91:2; 144:2; Jer. 16:19; Nah. 1:7).575 That this is the intent is clear from the second line of the verse: “I will return double to you.” Thus the whole is bound together by the same verb, bWv (sub). “Return (WbWv, subu) to the stronghold … and I will return (byv!a*, `asb) double to you.” The full blessing of YHWH awaits those who take refuge in Him as their stronghold. Those who remain outside, distant from Him, remain without the benefits of His promises.

To return “double” (hnv=m!, misneh) suggests a double portion of blessing. The same noun occurs in Job 42:10 to describe Job’s latter state. Interestingly, the language of Job’s restoration is much the same as that of our Zechariah text.576 YHWH turned (bv*, sab) the captivity (tYbv=! read with Qere tWbV=, sebut) of Job when he prayed for his friends, and YHWH gave Job twice (misneh) as much as he had before. Even more pertinent because of its eschatological orientation is Isa. 61:7: “Instead of your shame (you will have) double (misneh), and instead of dishonor they will rejoice in their portion (ql#j#, heleq); therefore, in their land they will possess double (misneh)—everlasting joy will be theirs.” Here the parallelism links “double” with “portion,” putting beyond doubt the legal and covenant nature of the passage (cf. Isa. 40:2; 61:8-9).577

A specific manifestation of that blessing, one much in line with the stronghold motif and the militaristic theme of the whole oracle,578 is the use YHWH will make of Judah, Ephraim (i.e., Israel), and Zion (v. 13). He will “bend” (Er^D*, darak, lit. “tread”) Judah as one bends a bow (cf. Pss. 7:13 [EB 7:12]; 11:2; 37:14; Jer. 50:14, 29; 51:3; etc.), filling her (the bow) with Ephraim as an arrow. Zion will be stirred up against Yawan (i.e., Greece) and will become like a sword in YHWH’s hand.

The intense use of metaphor and simile here is clear in its intent, but the historical allusions, if any, have caused great differences of opinion. It is quite apparent that YHWH will use His people as weapons against another nation, namely, Greece. But how is this to be taken? For the same reason that some scholars date Zech. 9:1-8 to a preexilic period because of alleged historical allusions to Tiglath-Pileser or some other Neo-Assyrian ruler, so others wish to date 9:11-17 to the third century or so because of the reference to Greece, something, they say, that would not be likely before the rise and fall of Alexander the Great.579

As pointed out earlier, once it is understood that vv. 1-8 are the conventional language of holy war conquest, there no longer remains any need to isolate a specific historical background against which the oracle should be interpreted. The same applies here. By the late sixth century it was most evident that the next major world power would arise in the west in the form of the Aegean peoples.580 The Persians had already encountered the Greeks and would do so increasingly under the successors of Darius, Xerxes, and Artaxerxes. It did not even require divine revelation to see that this was imminent. But one should not conclude from this that a literal confrontation of a military sort between Greece and Israel was in view. This, again, is the language of eschatology,581 and all that is being said is that whatever hostile power should ever arise against the covenant people can expect to meet resounding defeat at the hands of their God, who wields them as potent weapons en route to the establishment of His universal sovereignty.

This is the thrust of v. 14. YHWH will appear over them, that is, as a banner or standard582 guaranteeing the victory of His people. As in days of old when he defeated Pharaoh and delivered Israel, He will shoot His arrows like lightning (Pss. 18:13-14 [HB 18:14-15]; 144:5; Hab. 3:4-5), He will blow the trumpet for advance and will ride forth on the chariot of the windstorms of the south (Pss. 18:10 [HB 18:11]; 68:4, 33 [HB 68:5, 34]; 104:3; Isa. 19:1). As is well known, this is the imagery of holy war, a medium especially expressive of YHWH’s conflicts and conquests in eschatological times. To look for historical connections in such passages is fruitless except where references are made to past events, such as the Exodus, as illustrations of what YHWH can do as divine warrior.

The holy war theme continues in v. 15 with the epithet “YHWH of hosts” and further expansion of His anticipated conquests. Defended by YHWH, His chosen ones will “devour” (lk^a*, akal) and “subdue” (vb^K*, kabas, lit. “tread underfoot”) the “sling-stones” (ul^q#, qela`). This is a very difficult line if one takes ul^q# as direct object in that one does not easily conceive of these verbs with this object. Kabasis is a word frequently used to express the establishment or exercise of dominion (Gen. 1:28; Num. 32:27, 29; Josh. 18:1, Mic. 7:19),583 so, admittedly it is not entirely out of the semantic field of overcoming a weapon such as sling-stones. In fact, the literal meaning of “walking about on” these stones would graphically illustrate mastery over them. To “devour” them, however, is another matter. The LXX accordingly presupposes a reading Wlk=y` (yakelu), “they will prevail,” a verb much more fitting, particularly with kabas. Less acceptable is the proposal of BHS to emend ul^q#-yn}b=a^ (abne-qela`), “sling-stones,” to ub^q-yn}B= (bene-qoba`), “deceivers,” or even ul^q#-yn}B= (bene-qela`), “slingers.” There is simply no textual warrant for either of these.584

The best solution is to understand “sling-stones” as an adverbial accusative and to postulate an object such as the “flesh” of the enemy (Deut. 32:42; 2 Sam. 2:26; 11:25; 18:8; Jer. 2:30; Hos. 11:6). This matches the next line nicely, “they will drink, and will become clamorous,” etc. What they drink, of course, is the blood of their enemies, a figure also common elsewhere (Num. 23:24; Ezek. 39:17-20). The LXX again proposes an alternative, <D* (dam), “blood,” or <m*D* (damam), “their blood,” for Wmh* (hamu), “they will become clamorous.” The whole line would then read, “they will drink blood like wine.”585 The problem with this, again, is that it requires emendation of the MT or at least resort to another vorlage of the LXX, something totally unnecessary. It is better to see both “eat” and “drink” as having unexpressed but clear objects (“flesh” and “blood” respectively). The verb kabas, “subdue,” would then have “sling-stones” as adverbial accusative, and hamu, “become clamorous,” would have “as with wine” also as an adverbial accusative. A free rendering might be:

“They will devour (human flesh);

they will subdue with sling-stones.

They will drink (human blood);

they will become clamorous as with wine.”

This finds excellent support in v. 15d: “They will be full like the (sacrificial) basin, like the corners of the altar.” Having satiated themselves with the flesh and blood of their fallen enemies, YHWH’s armies will be like the vessels of the sanctuary filled with the flesh and blood of sacrifice. This bold figure suggests that the death of YHWH’s foes is in some sense an offering to Him.586 The sanctuary basin was a bowl used at the altar to hold the blood to be dashed upon it and other objects as part of the ritual (Ex. 27:3; 38:3; Num. 4:14; 1 Kings 7:50; 2 Kings 12:13). The word “corners” (tyw]z`, zawt) is rare in Hebrew, being no doubt a loan word from Aramaic,587 and in the context certainly refers to the corners of the great bronze altar, that is, to the “horns” of the altar (cf. Ex. 27:2).588 To these corners the sacrificial blood was liberally applied (Ex. 29:12; 30:10; Lev. 4:7, 18; 8:15). This description of the use of flesh and blood in sacrifice is particularly significant, coming as it does from the priest-prophet Zechariah.

The eschatological character of the oracle is underlined again in v. 16 by the use of the classic phrase “in that day” (cf. 2:11; 3:10; 12:3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, etc.). Thus, the references to Hadrach, Damascus, and even Greece must be viewed as having end-time significance especially. Having used His people as weapons of destruction and death, YHWH will, as their God, deliver them in an ongoing way as a shepherd preserves his flock. Then, in an abrupt change of figure,589 He refers to His own as precious stones bedecking a crown, stones that will shine brilliantly over all His land.590 The crown (rz#n}, nezer) represents the sovereignty of YHWH over all His realm, but the brightest, most spectacular aspect of that reign will be His own precious redeemed ones. It is they who will emblazon forth His glory.

A major obstacle with this view is the most uncertain toss=ont=m! (mitnosesot), translated here “shining.” The verbal root ss^n` (nasas), since it is cognate to the noun sn} (nes), “ensign, banner,” is sometimes translated “be high or conspicuous” (BDB, 651). The verb, however, is likely a denominative of nes and so would express the idea of functioning as a standard or banner, that is, to attract attention. “Shining” is therefore appropriate either way, for if the precious stones of the crown are raised up, they will in any case draw attention to the crown and to him who wears it.591

At the end of this section of his oracle the prophet bursts out in an expostulation of praise (v. 17). But whom or what he is praising is not entirely clear because of the ambiguous nature of the text. Literally the first line reads, “For what His good and what His fair.” The pronominal suffix in this case is referring to YHWH, so the line should be rendered, “How good and fair He is!”592 The following line seems not to support this, however, nor does the preceding context. Having just referred in v. 16b to the jewels of the crown, it is natural to assume they are still in mind in v. 17. Thus, “How precious (bof, tob) and fair it (that is, all of this description) is!”593 Then, as though to explain the preciousness and fairness of these jewels, which after all are YHWH’s people, Zechariah says that they have become so by the nurturing of YHWH who has given His young men grain and His young women new wine. One may recall the appearance of Daniel and his friends when they refused the king’s dainties and feasted upon the fare accorded them by their own traditions: “At the end of ten days their appearance was better (bof, tob) and they were fatter than all the youths who had eaten of the king’s delicacies” (Dan. 1:15).

Additional Notes

9:17 Many scholars place v. 17 (or even 16b) after 10:1. Thus van Hoonacker arranges the text as 9:16a; 10:1; 9:17; 9:16b; van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophtes, 668-69. This does make a smoother transition, but there is no textual warrant for the rearrangement. Mitchell described v. 17 as “superfluous,” arguing that it is different from all that precedes it in both form and context (H. G. Mitchel!, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 281-82). He is correct that v. 17 is interruptive but fails to account for it as a spontaneous outburst of praise. Otzen connects v. 17 with 10:1 as part of a “positives Fruchtbarkeitsmotiv” (“positive fertility motifs”), imbedding it within the following structure.

(Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 218. This seems most reasonable and in any case allows v. 17 to stay where it is.

Restoration of the True People

The first part of this oracle concerning the nations focused on the coming of the true King to take His place of sovereignty over them (chap. 9). The focus now shifts to the elect people of the King who will, in a second exodus, come from all the nations to the promised land where they will share His dominion with Him. This part, like the first, has its roots in history but its larger perspective in the eschaton. The oracle dealt with issues and problems immediately germane to the prophet Zechariah’s own situation in life. It transmuted its solutions to those matters that would arise at the end of history as well. In a sense, theredore, the present is a prototype of the future, though the future will bring a triumphant culmination for YHWH’s kingdom program and His purposes for His people.

    A. Rejection of Judah’s Wicked Leadership (10:1-3a)


1Ask rain of YHWH in the time of the latter-rain, even of YHWH who makes thunder-storms, and He will give everyone rain-showers and green growth in the field. 2For the teraphim have spoken wickedness, the augurers have seen a lie, and as for the dreamers, they have disclosed emptiness and console in vain; therefore they set out like sheep (and) are afflicted because they have no shepherd. 3aI am enraged because of the shepherds and will punish the he-goats.

Exegesis and Exposition

Zechariah turns first of all to the problem of evil leadership in the historical community of Israel, dividing his attention between the spiritual and political aspects. Things have been bleak, indeed, as the whole history of Israel and Judah could attest, but there was hope now in light of the restoration from exile and particularly in light of God’s gracious promises concerning the age to come. All his people need do is ask for rain, that is, the showers of His blessing (v. 1), and it was certain to come. The “latter-rain” (voql=m^, malqos) refers, in the context of the agricultural cycles of Palestine, to the renewal of sustained rains in the spring of the year, commencing usually about March or April.594 The “former rains” were those of the autumn, following the harvest-time.

“Latter rain” is also a term with eschatological significance, referring to the pouring out of divine blessing in the coming age. Hosea, speaking of YHWH’s reviving of His people at the end time, puts it in terms of YHWH’s coming “as the rain, as the latter rain that waters the earth” (Hos. 6:3). Joel associates it with a time of abundant harvest, the wheat, vineyards, and olive trees having soaked up its nourishment so as to yield their fruit. All this is to make up for the years devastated by the ravages of pest and insect (Joel 2:21-25). This is a reference to Israel’s historical experience, one to be succeeded by a time of blessing in the latter day.

Jeremiah points out to his preexilic contemporaries that despite the withholding of the former and latter rains, Judah had remained adamantly in rebellion against YHWH (3:3). His blessings upon them in the past when He had poured out those rains upon her, had met with no response except more disobedience and recalcitrance (5:24). The result had been the exile, a time of drought and despair, of a “pit without water” (Zech. 9:11). Zechariah therefore offers hope that the latter rain of prosperity will come once more.

Such blessing is possible, he says, because it is YHWH “who makes thunderstorms.” The word translated “thunderstorms” here is zyz]j& (hazz), frequently rendered “lightning flash,” “thunderbolt” (BDB, 304), or “storm cloud” (KBL, 286). It occurs otherwise only in Job (28:26; 38:25) where it also ought to be understood as violent rain since in the first place it is parallel to “rain” (rf*m*, matar) and in the second passage to “flood” ([f#v#, setep). Here in Zechariah it also is poetically synonymous with matar, “rain.” The outpouring of these refreshing waters will result in green growth in the fields, a sight familiar to anyone who has been in Palestine following the latter rains.

This end-time vision is in sharp contrast to the conditions addressed by the prophet in his own day. Judah has suffered a devastating crisis of leadership in both her spiritual and political life, one no doubt partially redressed, at least, by the exile and by the postexilic leaders such as Zerubbabel, Joshua, and perhaps even Zechariah and his prophet-colleague, Haggai. Throughout the history of Israel and Judah resort had been made to illicit religious channels such as teraphim, augurers, and dreamers (v. 2), all of whom delivered nothing but falsehood and emptiness.

Teraphim595 were small household images thought to represent supernatural powers and to be a means of eliciting information from the spirit world (cf. Gen. 31:19, 34-35; 1 Sam. 19:13, 16; Hos. 3:4). When the king of Babylon was marching south to campaign against Palestine and the Transjordan, he came to a fork in the highway. Not knowing whether to go on to Jerusalem or to Rabbah first, he “consulted the teraphim” and “looked in the liver” (Ezek. 21:21). What he was doing, Ezekiel says, was using “divination.” The word for “divination” (<s#q#, qesem) here occurs also in another form in our passage, translated “augurers” (<ym!s=oq, qosemm). As Ezekiel indicates, inspection of animal livers was one of the techniques of divination. Other means were the “shaking of arrows” (Ezek. 21:21) and “consulting the teraphim.” The first practice is well documented in ancient Near Eastern divination,596 but the last two are not, at least by this name.

Another means of receiving supernatural disclosure was the dream, a well-known medium both within and outside the OT.597 When the dream was inspired by God it was, of course, a perfectly appropriate means of determining YHWH’s purposes. When, however, it was brought into the service of illicit revelation, it was soundly condemned (Deut. 13:2-6; Jer. 23:27-32; 27:9; 29:8). Zechariah condemns it here as he does the other means of divination as well. The teraphim have spoken wickedness (/w#a*, awen), the augurers have seen a lie, and the dreamers (literally, “the dreams”) have unveiled emptiness (aw+v*, saw).598 The comfort all have proffered has been in vain.

The result of this abysmal search for spiritual illumination and guidance has been the aimless wandering of the people of Israel like sheep. Unwilling to attend to the Word of God revealed through the legitimate voice of His prophets, they have lost their moorings and have set out, like so many nomads, without chart or compass.

The allusion to sheep affords the prophet a shift from consideration of spiritual leadership, such as that provided by the prophets, to that of the kings in the political realm.599 In the ancient Near East as well as in Israel, kings were commonly described as shepherds.600 They had the task of leading, protecting, and nurturing the human “flocks” under their control. Jeremiah is particularly rich in “shepherd-sheep” imagery. He excoriates the priests for failing to seek YHWH, the prophets for prophesying by Baal, and the shepherds (i.e., kings) for transgressing against the Lord (2:8). But he also holds out hope that YHWH will give shepherds someday who will “feed” the people with knowledge and understanding (3:15).

In a passage remarkably close in sentiment to this one, Jeremiah complains that the shepherds have become insensitive, “not inquiring of YHWH” (10:21). As a result the flocks have become scattered. Thus, the connection between divination and lack of sound political leadership is well established in both prophets (cf. also Jer. 23:1-2; 50:6). The “shepherd oracle” of Ezekiel 34 is equally enlightening. The prophet asks if it is not the task of the shepherd to feed the sheep (v. 2). Indeed it is, but the shepherds (kings) of Israel have only eaten the sheep and clothed themselves with their wool (v. 3). They sheep thus became scattered (v. 5), wandering over the whole earth (v. 6). YHWH therefore was against His shepherds (v. 10). He will now regather His dispersed flock (v. 12) and bring them back to the fold, so that He can be their shepherd (v. 15). In the day of His salvation He will feed them through His shepherd David (v. 23). YHWH, in fact, will be their God and David, the shepherd, will be their ruler (v. 24). No wonder Jesus the Messiah could refer to Himself as both the Son of David (Matt. 9:27; 15:22; 20:30; 21:9; Mark 12:35; Luke 20:41) and the “good shepherd” (John 10:11-16).

The OT record is replete with references to the kings of Israel, beginning with Saul (1 Sam. 28:3-7), who sought after illicit channels of revelation and ended up leading the people to ruin and dispersion. One thinks of Ahab (1 Kings 16:31; 22:6-12), Ahaziah (2 Kings 1:2), Ahaz (2 Kings 16:15), and Manasseh (2 Kings 21:6) of whom such things are explicitly affirmed.

Because of this history of wicked leadership, especially on the part of the kings, YHWH was angry and would punish those responsible (v. 3a). This had already come to pass with the destruction of Jerusalem and deportation of the last Davidic king, but the threat still stands against contemporary rulers or any who might arise in the future (2 Sam. 7:12-14). Changing the imagery slightly, Zechariah describes the leaders as “he-goats,” not shepherds. This animal customarily led the flocks and as a metaphor for leadership frequently appears as a substitute for the shepherd. Thus Isaiah places “he-goats” (<yd!WTu^, `attudm) in parallel with “kings” (14:9).601 Zechariah employs the word as a synonym of “shepherd” only to create a good poetic couplet:

“Because of the shepherds I am angry,

And because of the he-goats I will punish.”

    B. Selection of Judah’s Righteous Leadership (10:3b-7)


3bFor YHWH of hosts has visited His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them as His majestic war horse. 4From Him will come forth the cornerstone, the peg, the battle bow, and every ruler. 5And they will be like warriors trampling the mud of the streets in battle. They will fight, for YHWH will be with them, and will put to shame the mounted men. 6I will strengthen the house of Judah and deliver the house of Joseph and *will bring them back because of My compassion for them. They will be as though I had never rejected them, for I am YHWH their God and therefore will hear them. 7Ephraim will be like a warrior and will rejoice as with wine. Their children will see and rejoice; their heart will exult in YHWH.

Exegesis and Exposition

The focus of this part of the oracle shifts in the middle of v. 3 from the past and present to the future and from a negative assessment of Judah’s leadership to a positive one. Up to and through the Babylonian exile God’s people, like sheep, had wandered aimlessly in the absence of sound spiritual and political direction. Now things already were beginning to improve under the postexilic leadership (cf. Hag. 2:20-23; Zech. 4:6-9; 6:12-13). But the present was only a dim harbinger of things far more glorious to come. The establishment of God’s kingdom in the eschaton would being with it new human leadership as well. The best was yet ahead.

In an effective double entendre, YHWH had said in v. 3a that He would visit (dq^p*#, paqad) the “he-goats,” the wicked kings, with judgment. Now in 3b He says He will visit (same verb) His flock with blessing.602 To remove all uncertainly concerning the identity of the flock, He spells it out—it is the house of Judah. Far from being the meek and easily bullied sheep of the past, they will become a mighty charger on which YHWH can ride to battle. This is reminiscent of the martial language of 9:13, where Judah was described as a bow, Ephraim as an arrow, and Zion as a sword of battle.

Continuing in the same imagery but with a strong mixture of messianic language, YHWH foresees Judah as the source of four elements: the cornerstone, the peg, the bow, and the ruler. These should be interpreted in the context of holy war that prevails here and not in that of architecture or construction or something else.603 “Cornerstone” or “corner tower” (hN`P!, pinna) occurs as a metaphor for a leader such as a king or governor (Judg. 20:2; 1 Sam. 14:38; Isa. 19:13). With that in mind it seems quite clear that Zechariah is alluding to a future human figure who will provide the very foundation for a revived kingdom structure.604 Paul understood this one to be Christ, “the chief cornerstone” (Eph. 2:20). As for the peg (dt@y`, yated), the word can refer to a tent peg or, as is likely here, to a peg in the wall from which items could be suspended.605 It must be sturdy, for, as Ezekiel notes (15:3), one would hardly use wood from a vine in its manufacture.

Eliakim ben Hilkiah is described as such a peg in Isa. 22:15-25. With the predicted removal of Shebna from office the weight of the Davidic government would rest upon the major-domo Eliakim, servant of King Hezekiah (Isa. 36:3). But he would not be capable of supporting such a load and so would be torn from the wall (22:25). This no doubt was to signify the impending doom of the royal house itself.

In his famous prayer of confession Ezra rejoiced that God had shown the postexilic community grace in preserving a remnant and in providing a “peg” in the holy place. The collocation of remnant and peg here (Ezra 9:8) suggests that they share much in common, just as they do in Zechariah. In the latter it is the eschatological remnant that will give rise to the peg, the stout hook on which all of Judah’s hopes for the future can be suspended.

“Battle bow” as a personal epithet is otherwise unknown in the OT, though Babylonia is called “battle mace” by Jeremiah (Jer. 51:20).606 Zechariah himself uses the term with reference to the conquest by the messianic king who will break the battle bow of the enemy (9:10). A more helpful reference, however, is that of 9:13 where YHWH says He will “bend” Judah as a warrior bends a bow. Since Judah is in view in 10:3-5 as the source of the bow, it cannot be Judah as a whole but someone who comes from Judah. This idea is, of course, consistent with OT messianic theology (cf. Gen. 49:10).

Finally, that “every ruler” shall come from Judah (v. 4c) is not a matter of surprise, for that too is a major OT theme. David and all his descendants were, after all, sons of Judah. Zechariah uses a rather strange word for ruler here, however, the participle form of cg~n` (nagas), “to oppress.” Normally one would expect “king” (El#m#, melek), “prince” (ayc!n`, nas), or the like, but here occurs a term usually reserved for oppressive, tyrannical rule (Ex. 3:7; 5:6, 10; Isa. 3:12; 9:3; 14:2, 4; Dan. 11:20). Zechariah already used the same participle to describe cruel, despotic rulers (9:8). The reason for its use here appears to be the harsh tone of the language of conquest throughout the pericope. When YHWH achieves His final hegemony He will, through His appointed Davidic rulers, ruthlessly put down all opposition.607 To His foes His total, violent domination of them will cast Him as an oppressor, a dictator to whom they must submit against their will.

This impression gains support in v. 5 where the aforementioned rulers (and perhaps the cornerstone, peg, and battle bow as well) will be like warriors treading down in the mud of the streets. Though the object of their treading is not disclosed, the use of the verb sWB (bus) elsewhere makes it clear that enemies are in view (Pss. 60:12 [HB 60:14]; 108:13 [HB 108:14]; Isa. 14:25; 63:6).608 They will prevail over these foes, for YHWH will be with them, a classic expression of holy war. Even the proud horsemen will be chagrined and embarrassed at the success of YHWH’s armies. With their great speed they might ordinarily escape (Amos 2:15), but in the day of YHWH there will be no way to avoid His terrible wrath (cf. Hag. 2:22).

By way of recapitulation and emphasis YHWH again, and plainly, speaks of the strengthening of Judah and deliverance of Joseph (i.e., Israel). The verb rb^G` (gabar) has strongly militaristic overtones, especially in the piel (cf. 10:12), It speaks here of strengthening in battle, as the previous context would surely support.609 Likewise, Joseph is “delivered” (uv^y`, yasa`), a word commonly employed in the sense of preservation in battle (Deut. 20:4; Judg. 3:9; 6:36-37; 7:7; 1 Sam. 14:23; Isa. 49:25; Hos. 1:7). They will be brought back to YHWH in the sense of full restoration as His people. That this meaning is intended, and not a restoration from exile or bondage, is clear from the clarifying statement, “they will be as though I had never rejected them” (v. 6d). The basis for their reacceptance is the great compassion YHWH feels for them and the fact that He will hearken to their cries and respond in covenant commitment (cf. 13:9).

Reference to Israel as Joseph, though not unique here (v. 6), is not common (2 Sam. 19:20; Pss. 78:67; 80:1 [HB 80:2]; 81:5 [HB 81:6]; Ezek. 37:16; Amos 5:6, 15; 6:6). Very likely its occurrence here anticipates the exodus motif of vv. 8-12, for it was Joseph who arranged for his family to join him in Egypt, it was he who urged his descendants to move his remains to the promised land (Gen. 50:25), and it was because of a pharaoh “who knew not Joseph” (Ex. 1:8) that oppression of the Israelites commenced in Egypt—an oppression that eventuated to the Exodus of God’s people a few decades later.

The description of God’s people as warriors (v. 5) recurs here at the end of this unit, with Ephraim so designated (v. 7a). Ephraim, or Israel, had previously appeared in metaphor as an arrow (9:13) projected by YHWH from Judah, the bow in YHWH’s climactic victory over evil. There the victory was followed by a lavish banquet of celebration in which the rollicking merrymaking sounded as though it had been induced by wine when, in fact, the victors had figuratively eaten the flesh and drunk the blood of the vanquished (9:15). Here again Ephraim’s heart will rejoice as with wine, as will that of his offspring. Together they will exult in YHWH, celebrating His glorious triumph over all opposition. The merriment associated with wine is a well-known biblical image (Ps. 104:15; Eccl. 9:7; 10:19; Isa. 5:11-12; 24:9), though, of course, literal drunkenness is universally condemned (Prov. 20:1; 21:17; 23:30; Isa. 5:22; 28:7; Hos. 4:11; Joel 1:5; Eph. 5:18; 1 Tim. 3:8).

Additional Notes

10:6 The MT <yt!obv=ojw+ is extremely problematic (see Jansma, 86-87). The form is anomalous for any verb and probably should read <yt!obyv!h&w^, as in v. 10 and in Jer. 12:15, the hiphil pf. csc. of bWv. The MT appears to base the form on bv^y`, “cause to settle” in the hiphil (cf. GKC, 72x). The Syriac, Tg. Neb., and Vg follow the former suggestion, and the LXX the latter, bWv appears to make better sense here, though bv^y` certainly would fit (cf. Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 66-67).

    C. Judah and The Second Exodus (10:8-12)


8I will whistle for them and gather them, for I have redeemed them; then they will multiply as they did before. 9Though I sow them among the nations, they will remember in far-off places—they and their children will come alive and return. 10I will bring them back from the land of Egypt and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon, for not enough room will be found for them. 11He will cross the sea of distress and smite the turbulent sea. All the depths of the Nile will dry up, the pride of Assyria will be humbled, and the scepter of Egypt will depart. 12Thus *I will strengthen them in YHWH, and *they will walk up and down in His name, says YHWH.

Exegesis and Exposition

The Exodus of Israel from Egypt under Moses was not only the great saving event that made Israel a nation and brought her into fellowship with YHWH—it also became the paradigm of all God’s redemptive work on behalf of all individuals and peoples who placed their confidence in Him. Thus, for example, the restoration of the exilic community is defined by Isaiah as a second exodus (Isa. 40:3-5; 43:1-7, 14-21; 48:20-22; 51:9-11).610

Haggai also spoke to the restored people in this vein, declaring that YHWH was with them just as He had been with their fathers in the day of the exodus and wilderness (Hag. 2:4-5). Zechariah, then, shared a well-established tradition when he looked at the eschatological deliverance of Israel in terms of exodus.

Just as redemption, that is, election, theologically preceded the actual exodus escape from Egypt (Ex. 2:24; 3:7-8; 4:22-23; 6:2-8), so it is on the basis of an already effected redemption that YHWH’s people will enter into the eschatological land of promise. Isaiah makes precisely the same point when he, also looking to the end of the age, proclaims that “the ransomed (<y]Wdp=, peduyim, the same verb as here in Zech. 10:8) of YHWH will return and come with singing to Zion” (Isa. 35:10). In words very similar to these in Zechariah, Jeremiah speaks of the ultimate gathering of Israel as follows: “He who scattered Israel will gather him and keep him as a shepherd does his flock. For YHWH has ransomed (again, hd*P*, pada) Jacob and redeemed (la^G`, gaal) him from one stronger than he” (Jer. 31:10-11). Once more, it should be noted, the restoration is predicated on an already existing redemption.611

The process of regathering will begin when YHWH “whistles” for His people, whose ears are tuned to Him, to return (v. 8). Though there is some doubt as to whether qr^v* (saraq) should be rendered “whistle,”612 it clearly denotes an audible signal of some kind. Isaiah says that in the day of YHWH He will raise high a battle flag and will sound a signal for His people to return from the ends of the earth (5:26). The two acts represent both visual and audible communication. Once the people have been gathered they will multiply as they did in ancient days under Moses (Ex. 1:7, 12; Deut. 1:10). The pitiful postexilic remnant will once more become the mighty and innumerable host of God (Zech. 2:4; 8:4-5).

This restoration, says YHWH, will come to pass even though Israel, like so much seed, should be sowed among the nations (v. 9a). Seed may exist in a rather cohesive form in the bag of the farmer but when he sows it, it becomes scattered and separated, so much so that it would be humanly impossible to gather it all together again. But the seed of Abraham is rational, sensitive seed, and once it is quickened and stimulated by the call of God, it will pick itself up from wherever it has fallen and will gather with its fellows back in the care of God who first planted it in His judgment.

It is difficult to know whether Wyj*w+ (wehayu) in v. 9b should be rendered “they will live,” “they will still be alive,” or “they will come alive.”613 All are possible according to the semantic range of the verb and its grammatical and syntactical usage. If the farming allegory be pressed, the last option would appear to be eliminated, whereas either of the first two could be appropriate, because technically a seed is alive when it is planted and all through its period of germination. But biblical language elsewhere views exiled and scattered Israel as dead (cf. Ezek. 37). Only divine revivification can make her God’s people again and make possible her restoration to covenant service.614

Nowhere is this more clear than in the “valley of dead bones” vision of Ezekiel 37. The prophet saw extremely dry bones scattered everywhere and dubiously asked whether such bones could ever live again. Indeed they could, said YHWH, and commanded the man of God to prophesy over them (v. 4). Once he did, sinews, flesh, and skin began to come together and at last the spirit entered the newly formed corpses “and they lived” (Wyj=Y]w^, wayyihyu (v. 10). YHWH then interpreted this remarkable phenomenon, identifying the bones as the whole house of Israel whose hope had dried up and died (v. 11). Israel was dead, then, because her hope was dead. She could be made alive by a renewal of her hope.

The apostle Paul used an agricultural analogy in a similar way to teach the truth of bodily resurrection. He told the Corinthians that a seed cannot produce a plant unless that seed first die (1 Cor. 15:36). Therefore, human death is a prerequisite to resurrection of the body (vv. 42-44). Jesus made an even bolder declaration when referring to the need for the disciple of the Lord to die to himself so that he can live for Christ and for his fellowman: “Unless a wheat grain falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; however, if it dies it produces much harvest” (John 12:24). Neither Paul nor Jesus (nor our Zechariah passage) is offering botanical instruction. What they are saying is that from a phenomenological standpoint a seed appears to die when it is sowed. When it germinates and produces a plant, however, it appears to have come alive from the dead.

Alive once more, the people of Israel will return to the Lord and to the land (9b), not by unaided power, but by the supernatural hand of YHWH who will bring them (10a). Their point of origin, in line with the exodus motif that informs the whole pericope, will be Egypt. But that a literal repetition of the exodus event of the past is not in view is clear from the further statement that they will come also from Assyria.

Reference to Assyria here (and cf. v. 11) has caused many scholars to date this part of the oracle at least to a preexilic period when Assyria was the preeminent world power and only an Assyrian deportation had actually taken place.615 Such a view, however, is insensitive to the particular lexicography of eschatological prophecy. The presence of Assyria here can no more assist in the date of this passage than could the list of place-names in 9:1-17 contribute to a chronological orientation of that unit. What must be done is to recognize that Egypt and Assyria here represent the universal distribution of the exiles of all ages. The combination or juxtaposition of Egypt and Assyria had become a clich long before Zechariah’s time. By far Israel’s most persistent and hostile foes, these two nations epitomized bondage and exile throughout the OT tradition.616

A particularly instructive passage in this respect appears in Isaiah who speaks of a highway linking Egypt and Assyria in the last days (19:23). More remarkable, Egypt will worship with Assyria, and the two of them will join with Israel to create a source of blessing to the whole earth (v. 24). In that day Egypt will be called the people of YHWH, Assyria the work of His hands, and Israel His inheritance (v. 25). This obviously speaks of the universal dominion of YHWH when even Israel’s erstwhile enemies will recognize and submit to His sovereignty.

Elsewhere Isaiah centers the eschatological dispersion of Israel in Egypt and Assyria, exactly as Zechariah does. At the blowing of the trumpet (cf. the “whistling,” Zech. 10:8), he says, those about to perish in Assyria and the outcasts in Egypt will return to the Holy Land and worship YHWH in Jerusalem (27:13). They will travel a highway from Assyria like that one they took from Egypt, a way prepared by YHWH (11:16). As they went to Egypt and were there oppressed, so they have known the animosity of the Assyrians (52:4). Hosea prophesies that Israel will return to those places. “Ephraim,” he says, “will not dwell in YHWH’s land but will return to Egypt and eat unclean things in Assyria” (Hos. 9:3). But in the last days “they will come trembling like a bird out of Egypt and a dove out of the land of Assyria” (11:10).

Zechariah goes on (v. 10b) to locate Israel’s destination from the future diaspora in, of all places, Gilead and Lebanon. Gilead was situated east of the upper Jordan Valley, and Lebanon was directly north and northwest of Canaan. Neither was within the confines of the promised land as laid out in eschatological texts (cf. Gen. 15:18-21; Num. 34:2-12: Ezek. 47:15-20). The clue to correct interpretation lies in v. 10b which, unfortunately, is quite elliptical. Literally, the clause in question says, “and there will not be found for them.” The context, as most versions agree, requires that land be the scarce commodity. One could therefore translate “I will bring them to the land of Gilead and to Lebanon until no room can be found for them,” or, as we have done, “for not enough room,” and so forth. However, as we have shown, Gilead and Lebanon are never designated as falling within the land of promise; they must serve the function here of accommodating the overflow.617 So full will the land of Palestine be that not all the refugees will find a place of residence there.

The Exodus under Moses was often described, particularly in poetry, in mythological terms as though the Red Sea and Pharaoh’s armies were monsters over whom YHWH, the warrior, prevailed.618 Behind this imagery it is quite likely that creation myths should be understood, though clearly the biblical authors had demythologized the pagan accounts and held fast to a creation and exodus as events of genuine history. Their use of such imagery can be explained both as a polemical device by which YHWH, not the heroes of the myths, is truly creator and conqueror, and as a literary vehicle that more graphically could narrate the profound theology of YHWH in conflict with evil.619

Following the prose narrative of the Exodus story (Ex. 14:21-31) is a poetic account (Ex. 15:1-18) in which YHWH, “the man of war” (v. 3), casts Pharaoh and his armies into the depths of the sea (v. 4). By the blast of His nostrils the waters piled up, and the floods stood at attention (v. 8). Earth, at YHWH’s command, swallowed up the pursuing Egyptians (v. 12). When all was finished YHWH, as a sign of His conquest, established His palace from which He will reign forever (vv. 17-18).

Isaiah especially takes up this literary use of myth. He identifies Egypt as Rahab, a name unknown outside the Bible but symbolizing evil resistance to YHWH’s purposes (30:7; cf. Job 9:13; 28:12; Ps. 89:10 [HB 89:11]). Then, in a lament passage of extraordinary impact because of its mythic allusions (51:9-11),620 he urges YHWH to awaken and arouse Himself for battle as He did in ancient times. It is YHWH, he says, who cut Rahab to pieces, piercing the monster. It is He, moreover, who dried up the sea (cf. Ex. 14:22, 29; Zech. 10:11), the waters of the deep (<ohT=, tehom; cf. Gen. 1:2; Ex. 15:5, 8; Isa. 63:13), so that His redeemed ones could pass over.

Zechariah describes the passage as one through the “sea of distress” (v. 11), a metonymy meaning the sea, the crossing of which produces a feeling of distress, a most understandable reaction. Efforts to emend the MT hr`x* <Y`B^ (bayyam sara), “through the sea, distress,” to <y]r^x=m! <y~B= (beyam misrayim), “through the sea of Egypt (BHS),”621 not only have no textual warrant but seem totally unnecessary. In fact, “sea of Egypt” is never used elsewhere to describe the Red Sea.

As YHWH passes through the sea, He stretches out His arm and smashes its waves as a warrior smites the heads of his enemies or as Marduk or Baal smote Ti‘amat and Yamm respectively.622 Isaiah again is helpful (Isa. 27:1) as he speaks of YHWH’s eschatological victory against the monster Leviathan, another denizen of the deep. YHWH will visit him with the sword and will slay Tannin who inhabits the sea. This calls to mind Psalm 74:12-14623 where the poet celebrates God’s kingship by reflecting on His division of Yamm (the sea) and the breaking of the heads of Tannin and Leviathan. Yamm was a persistent foe of Baal in the Ugaritic epics, one who finally was overcome by him. Leviathan reflects another ancient Canaanite monster of the epics, Lotan, whereas Tannin, as well as being attested at Ugarit, appears to be an inner-biblical epithet describing a dragon (Jer. 51:34) or sea monster (Gen. 1:21), perhaps, in light of Isa. 51:9, another term for Rahab. Jeremiah compares Nebuchadnezzar to Tannin, a monster who has swallowed up Zion (51:34). Because of this cruelty, Babylonia’s sea and source of water will be dried up (v. 36). The collocation of Tannin and sea (yam) in this passage is certainly in line with Zechariah’s observation that, after YHWH has smitten the turbulent sea, He will dry up the depths of the Nile. The death of the sea is followed by its disappearance, its drying up.

Nile here is not another name for the Red Sea, obviously, but as the chiasm makes clear is a name for Egypt. Thus the Nile (= Egypt) dries up, Assyria’s pride is humbled, and Egypt loses its scepter. Verse 11 as a whole should therefore be analyzed formally as a synonymously parallel bicolon followed by a synonymously parallel tricolon in chiastic order:624

He will cross the sea of distress,

And (he will) smite the sea of turbulence.

All the depths of the Nile will dry up (A),
(All) the pride of Assyria will be humbled (B),
The scepter of Egypt will depart (A).

This last line puts beyond any question the termination of Egypt’s (and Assyria’s) royal authority. YHWH, having defeated both mighty powers, representative of all earthly dominion, will then take up His own sovereignty.

The exercise of that sovereignty will be through God’s redeemed people whom, YHWH says, He will strengthen for the task. The verb here, the same as in v. 6, is rb^G` (gabar, “strengthen”), a word whose field of meaning is associative of military prowess. The world has become, as it were, occupied territory and until evil has been completely eradicated, it must be suppressed by force. The last clause of v. 12 is most conducive to this whole notion of dominion, for God’s people, says YHWH, “will walk up and down in His name.”

The hithpael stem of the verb “walk” (EL@h^t=h!, hithallek), as was pointed out in reference to Zech. 1:10-11, has become a technical term to denote dominion. To walk up and down or to and fro on the earth is to assert lordship over it. The planting of the feet presumably representing the head of the victor on the back of the vanquished. This is a favorite term of Zechariah, for of about a dozen uses of the verb with this meaning, six are in this prophecy (1:10, 11; 6:7 [3t.]; 10:12). This is much in keeping with the emphasis throughout the book on the ultimate triumph of YHWH and His restored people. His feet will someday stand on the Mount of Olives (14:4), testifying that He has come to inaugurate that rule.

Additional Notes

10:12 Because it appears awkward for YHWH to say “I will strengthen them in YHWH,” BHK and BHS suggest emending <yT!r+B^G] (“I will strengthen them”) to <t*r`b%G+ (“their strength [will be in YHWH]).” This is unsupported in the ancient versions and is an unnecessary resort, as our discussion of a similar case in Zech. 2:11 makes clear.

The LXX, followed by the Syriac, suggests WlL*h^t=y] (“they will glory in [his name]”) for WkL*h^t=y] (“they will walk about”). This is a needless (and probably baseless) option because “walking to and fro” or the like is a common idiom in Zechariah to express dominion, and the entire pericope which this concludes has to do with YHWH’s establishment of His reign. To walk “in His name” is simply to do so in His authority. For versional variations, see Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, 92.

History and Future of Judah’s Wicked Kings

This final section of the long oracle concerning the nations begins, as did the previous section (10:1-3a), with a scalding denunciation of the spiritual and political leaders of Israel in the past. As in the previous unit YHWH describes these rulers as shepherds (11:4-17).625 There are otherwise great contrasts between the two passages, for in the former one the resolution of the problem of evil shepherds is the raising up of a good one who will lead his people to triumph over their enemies (vv. 3b-7), having brought them back to their land from the ends of the earth (vv. 8-12). The present unit, however, views the prophet himself as a good shepherd, one who enacts God’s role in response to the people’s rejection of divine leadership despite the care and love He had lavished upon them (vv. 4-14). As a result of the spurning of the good shepherd, an evil, uncaring one will rise up. He, too, will ultimately be judged and punished for his abandonment of the flock (vv. 15-17).

Chapter 11 is clearly one of the most difficult in all the book. The protagonists are not always easily identified, the role of the prophet vis vis YHWH and the people is confusing, and the whole temporal orientation uncertain. Some clue as to the latter may exist in v. 8— “I cut off three shepherds in one month” —but whether one should seek a historical, an allegorical, or even just a symbolical meaning here is itself debatable. As always it is crucial that the passage not be studied independent of its immediate and larger context, for whether or not it circulated in that form at one time, it is now solidly enmeshed within a canonical setting and must be understood in those terms. Allusions within the passage to imagery and symbolism employed elsewhere should and can contribute to the meaning of the overall piece.

    A. Summation of Their Judgment (11:1-3)


    1Open your gates, Lebanon,

      So that the fire may devour your cedars.

    2Howl, fir tree,

      Because the cedar has fallen, the majestic ones have been destroyed.

    Howl, oaks of Bashan,

      Because the inaccessible forest has fallen.

    3Listen to the howling of shepherds,

      Because their magnificence has been destroyed;

    Listen to the roaring of young lions,

      Because the pride of the Jordan has been devastated.

Exegesis and Exposition

The unit opens with a poem consisting of a stanza of a 2:3 pattern and one that is 2:2:2.626 The two strophes themselves are linked by the repetition of “howl” (ll^y`, yalal) at the beginning of the last line of the first stanza and the first line of the second stanza. It is obvious immediately that the poem is filled with symbolism, for Lebanon, the fir tree, and the oaks of Bashan are all addressed by the speaker who clearly is YHWH as the opening of the next section (v. 4) declares. What is not so obvious within the poem itself is the meaning of these symbols as well as the cedars, the forest, the young rams, and the “pride of the Jordan.”

Attention to the following verses makes it rather apparent that the objects mentioned under the guise of trees and animals are the same as the shepherds.627 As already noted “shepherd” is a common way of referring to kings in the ancient Near East and the OT, an epithet particularly favored by Zechariah (10:2, 3; 11:3, 5, 8, 15, 16, 17; 13:7). The lament of the poem, then, introduces the occasion for the lament, namely, the destruction of the evil shepherds (11:8, 17).

Perhaps next in prominence to shepherd as metaphor for king is that of a plant, especially a tree.628 One thinks of the parable of Jotham, a son of Gideon who tried to warn his countrymen of the danger in allowing his brother Abimelech to become king over them after Gideon’s death (Judg. 9:7-15). He said that the trees sought one who could lead them, and they first asked the olive tree to do so. He refused, so the trees next asked the fig tree, who also declined. The vine similarly refused the invitation, but at length the bramble agreed to serve if they would meet his harsh terms. To Jotham, Abimelech was the bramble.

Isaiah, referring to YHWH’s judgment on the Assyrians, declared that he would prune off the boughs, hew down the high tree, cut down the thickets, and fell mighty Lebanon (10:33-34), all alluding to the king.629 Ezekiel, in a lengthy passage (31:3-18),630 calls the Assyrian (any one of a number of Assyrian rulers) “a cedar of Lebanon” (v. 3). It became so lofty and strong that all the birds of the sky made their nest in its branches (v. 6). Even the cedars of the “garden of God” were no match for it (v. 8). Its pride, however, brought it low, for YHWH delivered it over to one who cut it down (v. 12). Thus will Pharaoh, who also is a great tree (v. 18), come crashing to the ground.

Nebuchadnezzar saw himself in a dream as a tree whose top reached into the heavens (Dan. 4:10). It was large and beautiful, but it was cut down leaving only a stump in the earth. So Nebuchadnezzar, Daniel interpreted, would be cut down but not entirely destroyed, for the “stump” of his reign would be left from which new growth would eventually issue (4:23).

To return to the poem of Zechariah 11:1-3, it is evident from the poetic parallelism that Lebanon does not refer to the nation in any sense but to the source of the mighty cedar tree. Thus, Lebanon and cedar tree are equivalent terms. The cedar631 (zra#, erez), celebrated for its size and shapeliness, occurs elsewhere as a metaphor for a king in addition to Judges 9, cited above (cf. 2 Kings 14:9; Isa. 14:8; Ezek. 17:3; Amos 2:9). The fir632 (vorB=, beros) likewise represents powerful rulers, usually but not always in parallel construction with cedar (Ezek. 31:8). The oaks633 (/oLa^, allon) of Bashan, native to the high plateaus east of the upper Jordan, were justly praised for their deep-rooted strength. Amos refers to the Amorite (no doubt King Sihon) as one who was as high as the cedar and as powerful as the oak (2:9).

The message of the first strophe (vv. 1-2) is that it is fruitless for Lebanon to resist, for the cedar (i.e., a king) is going to be devoured in God’s fiery judgment. When this happens, the fir tree (another king) will burst out in lament over the demise of the cedar, “the majestic one.”634 The oaks will next commence to wail because of the falling of the forest that seemed so invulnerable. The parallelism makes it clear that “forest” (ru^y~, ya`ar) is synonymous with “cedar.”635 Both the fir and the oak bemoan the passing of the cedar, for it is apparent that they too stand in jeopardy. The fact that there are three trees in the couplet leads one to suspect that the three shepherds of v. 8 are relevant to the total interpretation.

The second strophe shifts the imagery from trees to shepherds but, as suggested earlier, there is a strong link between them. There is also a howling or wailing by the shepherds because their magnificence has been defaced. The word translated “magnificence” (trD#a^, adderet) occurs as a description of the cedar trees in v. 2 in the adjectival form <yr]D!a^ (addirm, “majestic ones”), providing yet another bridge between the tree and the shepherd images. The poetic form also demands that “young lions” (<yr]yp!K=, keprm) be a synonym for shepherds or kings. Indeed, such a description of rulers occurs elsewhere (Nah. 2:12; Ezek. 19:5-6); to find it so used here is not surprising.636 Like the trees above, once a shepherd is removed, others will roar in frustration and fear, to mingle several metaphors. Specifically, the poem informs us, the lions will roar because the “pride of the Jordan” has been devastated.

This idiom refers to the lush vegetation that once grew in the Jordan Valley, so luxuriant that by contrast the flora of the remainder of the land looked scrubby. In OT times lions and other now nonextant animals found cover there.637 Jeremiah speaks of a conquest of Edom that will be like a lion coming from the “pride of the Jordan” (Jer. 49:19; cf. 50:44). Zechariah is saying, therefore, that when the foliage of the Jordan Valley has been uprooted and destroyed, the young lions will be exposed, no longer having a place to hide. The poem then comes fully around to the felling of trees, the note on which it began.

    B. The Prophet as a Shepherd (11:4-14)

      1. His Charge Because of Judah’s Wicked Kings (11:4-6)


4Thus said YHWH my God, “Shepherd the flock destined to slaughter. 5Those who buy them slaughter them and are not held guilty; those who sell them *say, ‘Blessed be YHWH, for I am rich.’ Their own shepherds do not have compassion for them. 6Indeed, I will no longer have compassion for the inhabitants of the land,” says YHWH, “but instead I will turn every last man over to the power of his neighbor and to his king; they will devastate the land, and I will not deliver (it) from them.”

Exegesis and Exposition

In a most unusual development YHWH addresses Zechariah and commands him to undertake a series of actions, doing so in the place of YHWH Himself. Thus the prophet is to play a role. In many respects this is not at all unique to Zechariah. Many of the other prophets did the same thing.638 Hosea married Gomer, “a wife of harlotry,” in order to dramatize the unfaithfulness of Israel to YHWH and to show that just as he could forgive his wayward wife, YHWH, too, would forgive the covenant infidelity of Israel and restore her to Himself (Hos. 1-3). Isaiah went about dressed as a prisoner of war as a sign of YHWH’s judgment on Egypt and Ethiopia through Assyria (Isa. 20:2-4). Jeremiah smashed pottery vessels in the Valley of Hinnom to illustrate the smashing of Judah by the Babylonians (Jer. 19:1-15), and he wore prisoners’ shackles around his neck to predict the bondage to be suffered by his nation at the hands of those same Babylonians (Jer. 27:2-11). Ezekiel, more than all other prophets, acted out before his countrymen the plans and purposes that YHWH had for them. He drew a picture of the city of Jerusalem under siege (Ezek. 4:1-3), he dug a hole through the wall of his house as a sign of the breaching of the city walls and the need for escape (12:1-16), and he cut and scattered his hair to demonstrate the forms that the impending destruction and scattering of God’s people would take (5:1-12).

There is no reason to deny that most if not all of these dramatizations actually occurred. This can hardly be the case with Zechariah’s commission, however, as vv. 7-14 will make clear. The things he is said to have done there simply could not have been done by his own hand.639 It is most likely that he did them internally, in his own mind, and that he then communicated to his hearers what he had done..640 Actually what he said he did is what YHWH had done in the past, before the exile.641 Zechariah enters into the experience of YHWH and shares the emotion and heart of YHWH, so that man, as much as possible, might understand what motivated Him to act as He did in judgment.

Zechariah’s commission, first of all, is to shepherd the flock of slaughter (v. 4). The phrase “flock of slaughter” is the literal rendering of a Hebrew genitive that means “flock destined to slaughter,” or the like.642 The reason this is necessary is that the flock has been bought and sold by strangers and left unattended or unprotected by their own shepherds. Those who buy (or bought, in light of the true historical setting in the past)643 then slaughter them with impunity, and those who sell them profit from their sale and have the gall to attribute their successful profiteering to YHWH.

The buyers and sellers appear to be foreign kings as their opposition to the flock’s “(own) shepherds” suggests.644 It is impossible and unnecessary to try to identify them, for they can be any of a number of such rulers and nations that exploited Israel over the years. The language is figurative, describing the various episodes in history when the nation suffered defeat and loss and when she became a bargaining chip among the great nations who squabbled over her. The very language of merchandising is used commonly in the book of Judges to refer to YHWH’s deliverance of Israel to hostile powers. Over and over the narrative says He “sold” (rk^m*, makar, as here in Zech. 11:5) them to different foes (2:14; 3:8; 4:2, 9; 10:7). Though Zechariah is not attributing the selling to YHWH, the same notion of Israel being sold is nonetheless in view in the Judges passages and elsewhere (1 Sam. 12:9; Ps. 44:12 [HB 44:13]; Isa. 50:1; Joel 3:7-8 [HB 4:7-8]).

Worse than the treatment Israel received from the Egyptians, Amalekites, Edomites, Amorites, Philistines, Assyrians, Babylonians, and others was the neglect of her own kings. Far from defending the nation from the maraudings of these hostile powers, the kings of Israel and Judah turned a deaf ear and showed no compassion. But YHWH goes on to say that even He withdrew His compassion (v. 6).645 The particle yK! (k) that introduces v. 6 is usually taken as an adverbial conjunction (“therefore,” “so,” and the like). The context would favor the so-called “asserverative,” however, thus something like “indeed” (GKC, par. 160ee). This provides a climax to the story of Israel’s woes, for not only had her enemies bought and sold her and her shepherd-kings neglected her, but YHWH Himself had run out of patience. This may seem to be an incredibly harsh statement, one inconsistent with YHWH’s covenant love for His people, but similar language occurs elsewhere. Jeremiah, using the same verb for compassion as does Zechariah (lm^j*, hamal) records YHWH’s displeasure with Judah by saying, “I will not pity (lm^j*) nor spare nor have compassion (<j^r`, raham, a synonym of lm^j*), in order that I might destroy them” (Jer. 13:14). He expresses the same sentiment in Lam. 2:2, 17, and 21. Ezekiel prophesies that YHWH will destroy Jerusalem with no pity (lm^j*) (5:11; 7:4, 9; 8:18). A precedent for YHWH’s compassionless discipline of His people is not difficult to come by.

The fact that YHWH completes the chastisement begun by foreign oppressors and even by Israel’s own kings does not exonerate those oppressors from responsibility for their evil ways. YHWH acts out of a spirit of correction, but they out of one of spiteful selfishness and depravity. Therefore, He can condemn the foreign oppressors for their hostility toward His people, even though He may have allowed them, as part of a greater purpose, to undertake their pernicious ways.

The judgment announced here by YHWH, whether effected by wicked men or by Himself directly, consists of a wholesale subjugation of the covenant people to neighboring powers and their kings. They devastated the land, and YHWH did nothing to interfere. This seems to be the preferred interpretation of the difficult clause rendered literally, “I am causing each man to be found by the hand of his neighbor and by the hand of his king” (v. 6b).646 “Hand,” of course, symbolizes power, so what happened is that everyone in the land came under the power of their neighbor and “his king.” “Neighbor” (u^r@, rea`) frequently occurs in a reciprocal relationship with “man” (vya!, s) to mean “one another,” but that does not seem to fit well here. First, the singular suffix on “king” would have an unclear antecedent in “one another,” but an obvious one in “neighbor.” Second, the plural subject of “devastate” makes much more sense with reference to “neighbor” (viewed collectively) than with the idea that the people of Israel are devastating their own land. Verse 5 has already intimated that destruction came from without, from the nations neighboring Israel. Third, if the devastators are the “one another” of Israel, in what sense would YHWH say He will not deliver the land from them, if, indeed, “land” is to be supplied in our translation at all? If it is “them” that should be supplied, as most versions suggest, then the problem is exacerbated, for the people of Israel would have to be delivered from themselves, a strange idea, indeed.

The major objection to our translation “neighbor” is that rea` seldom has that meaning concerning an outsider.647 Usually it refers to a fellow-citizen or a friend or acquaintance. One might expect rG} (ger, “sojourner”) or yr]k=n` (nokr, “alien”) instead. One clear example of rea` with the meaning “neighbor” is attested in Prov. 6:1 where it occurs in parallelism with rz` (zar, “stranger”). Others are Ex. 11:2; 1 Sam. 28:17. So few examples may seem to be weak evidence on which to build a case, but it at least raises the possibility. Another suggestion is that Whu@r@ (re`ehu, “his neighbor”) be repointed to Whu@r) (ro`ehu, “his shepherd”).648 The sentence then would read, “I will turn every last man over to the power of his shepherd, namely, his king; they will devastate the land,” etc. In addition to the strong Masoretic tradition,649 however, there is the problem of the plural subject with “devastate” if “shepherd” is the antecedent.

On balance, it appears best to understand this passage (v. 6) to mean that YHWH will withhold His compassion for His people Israel, delivering them instead to neighboring peoples and their kings who will beat down the land of Israel with no interference from YHWH. This, of course, is precisely what took place in the last decades of Israel’s and Judah’s history leading up to their respective captivities by the Assyrians and Babylonians, and on into the future as well.

Additional Notes

11:5 The verb “say” is actually singular here, “says” (rm^ay{). As Barker points out, this (and lomj=y~, “spare,” in v. 5) “general plural” is used to suggest an individualizing or distribution over every individual; (K. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, 7:678).

      2. His Enactment of YHWH’s Rejection of the Wicked Kings (11:7-11).


7So I shepherded the flock destined for slaughter, *therefore the most afflicted of the flock; then I took two staffs, calling one “pleasantness” and the other “binders,” and I shepherded the flock. 8Next I eradicated the three shepherds in one month, for I ran out of patience with them and, indeed, they loathed me as well. 9I then said, “I will not shepherd you; that which dies, let it die, and that which is to be eradicated, let it be eradicated. As for those who survive, let them eat each other’s flesh.” 10Then I took my staff “pleasantness” and cut it in two to annul *my covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11So it was annulled that very day, and thus the most afflicted of the flock who kept (trust) with me knew that that was the word of YHWH.

Exegesis and Exposition

Responding to the commission YHWH had given him, Zechariah says he shepherded the flock destined for slaughter, the very ones who had been bought and sold by the nations, left defenseless and unpitied by their own kings, and even delivered over by YHWH to those who did them harm (vv. 4-6). This torn and tattered remnant he describes as “the most afflicted of the flock” (/aX)h^ yY}n]u&, `aniyye hasson)650 both because they had been destined for slaughter and because they had suffered so terribly at the hands of their persecutors.

In line with my argument above, I believe here as well Zechariah shepherds the flock only as he enters YHWH’s own experience in preexilic historical times. That is, Zechariah is reliving YHWH’s dealings with His people in allegory (if only in his own mind) and is reporting in a fresh way what Israel’s history was really all about. Israel had so grievously sinned against her God that there was only a pitiful little flock left of those who kept covenant with Him, and that little flock itself was victimized by oppressors both without and within the nation. They were even caught up in the judgment that YHWH brought upon the nation as a whole. All of this is documented in the history of the nation in preexilic times, and by the time the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations had come about there was nothing left but the most afflicted of all, a point that Jeremiah, particularly, makes time and again (40:11-15; 42:1-6; 44:11-14). It was only by God’s grace that these survived at all, for He preserved a remnant in line with His immutable covenant commitment (Lev. 26:40-45; Deut. 30:1-10).

Zechariah says he shepherded the flock that, because it was destined for slaughter, was the most afflicted of the flock (v. 7). In this way he distinguishes between Israel as a whole and the oppressed remnant within Israel that had maintained its covenant faith. An indispensable instrument in shepherding was the shepherd’s staff, so Zechariah says he took two of them, one named “pleasantness” and the other “binders.” With these, he says, he shepherded the flock (v. 7). The former name speaks of the relationship between YHWH and His people (v. 10) and the latter of that between Israel and Judah (v. 14).

This use of staffs or wooden poles to represent people or signify relationships was not new to Zechariah. When Aaron’s authority as priest was challenged, Moses ordered that his name be engraved on a staff representing the tribe of Levi and that the leaders of the other tribes do likewise on their respective staffs (Num. 17:1-11). Through a test of their ability to sprout growth Aaron was vindicated.

Closer to Zechariah’s experience was that of Ezekiel who also took two wooden poles, one standing for Judah and the other for Israel (Ezek. 37:15-23). Ezekiel took the two poles and joined them together as one signifying that in the time of eschatological restoration there will no longer be division between Israel and Judah, for they will be one people with one king and one God. In a sense what Ezekiel did in his dramatization was to effect a reversal of what Zechariah is about to do.

First, however, Zechariah says he “eradicated” (dj^K*, kahad) the three shepherds in one month because he had lost patience with them and they loathed him (v. 8). This removes any doubt as to whether Zechariah was doing anything more than carrying out a demonstration for all to see. Clearly he was reliving YHWH’s own experience in Israel’s history by symbolically ridding the land of three kings. This approach to the matter precludes the diversity of opinions characteristic of many who view this passage as strictly prophetic. It is not necessary (or valid) to look for a time when three Ptolemies or Seleucidae or Romans lost their lives in one month,651 for YHWH here is rehearsing the past as the pericope as a whole makes clear.

This does not solve all the problems, of course, for one must now look for three kings of Israel and/or Judah who perished in one month or at least were dethroned in that period of time. One thinks, for example, of Elah, Zimri, Tibni, and Omri of Israel (1 Kings 16:8-20). Elah was assassinated by Zimri who occupied the throne for only seven days when he committed suicide. Tibni succeeded him, with some following at least, but was soon disposed of by Omri. Thus three kings (or pretenders) died within one month. It is difficult to see what significance this series of events has to Zechariah’s message and times, however.

Another possibility is the era of Zechariah, Shallum, and Menahem,652 particularly striking in that Shallum is credited with a reign of one month (2 Kings 15:8-16). Shallum assassinated Zechariah, reigned one month, and then fell in death to Menahem. The problem with this identification is obvious. Only two kings are cut off, not three, and again the relevance of the episode to the prophet Zechariah is not easy to establish.

The best solution may be to take the period “one month” as a code word for a short time.653 If this is allowed, then the relatively rapid succession of kings at the end of Judah’s preexilic history may be in view.654 Jehoiakim died in 597 B.C., his son Jehoiachin was deported three months later, and his brother Zedekiah was captured and blinded eleven years after that (2 Kings 24:1-25:7). Although eleven years is not one month, it is a brief period of time compared to Israel’s long history and, from Zechariah’s viewpoint, may have appeared to be a short time indeed. What favors this view, despite its problems, is that the end of the kingdom of Judah did indeed mark the end of YHWH’s patience, and it is clear also that these last three kings despised YHWH and spurned His overtures toward them (v. 8; cf. 2 Kings 23:37; 24:9, 19-20).

Once the shepherds had been eradicated, YHWH (through Zechariah) turned to another audience and said He would no longer shepherd them, and whatever among them was destined to die of itself or be eradicated, let it go ahead and do so. The survivors of all these, He said, could resort to cannibalism (v. 9).655 The audience in question is somewhat problematic. It cannot be the just mentioned shepherds because of the use of the feminine gender of the pronouns and verbs in v. 9. What is probably in view is the people in general (“I will not shepherd you” [masc.]) and the sheep “destined for slaughter” (v. 4) whose owners “slaughter them” (fem.) and whose sellers, having “sold them” (fem.) say, Blessed be YHWH (v. 5).656

It is these most afflicted ones, on whom YHWH Himself had said He would no longer have compassion (v. 6), who will die, be eradicated, and resort to cannibalism (v. 9). This last gruesome judgment, particularly, was predicted by Jeremiah as he anticipated the siege and fall of Jerusalem (19:9). He then reflected on its fulfillment in the Lamentations. “Shall women eat their fruit?” he asks (Lam. 2:20), and then answers his own question: “The hands of the pitiful women have boiled their own children, they were their food in the destruction of the daughter of my people” (Lam. 4:10). This again appears to support the conclusion that the three stricken shepherds of v. 8 are the last three kings of Judah who saw with their own eyes these horrible things that came upon their people.

To dramatize the fact that the fall of Jerusalem and exile of Judah was tantamount to the breaking of YHWH’s covenant, Zechariah took the staff named “pleasantness” and broke it in two (v. 10). This, he says, was to mark the rupture of the relationship between YHWH and “all the peoples.” Ordinarily this phrase (<yM!u^h*-lK*, kol-ha`ammm) refers to the pagan nations, but here it must refer to the chosen people in their divided entities of Israel and Judah.657 That this is likely is apparent from the context where a divided (v. 14) and scattered (vv. 5-6) people seem very much in mind. Moreover, the notion of a covenant with all the nations is otherwise unattested in the OT. The closest to such an idea is Isa. 42:6 (cf. 49:8) where YHWH says of His servant that He will make him to be a “covenant of the people” (<u*, `am), a “light of the nations” (<y]oG, goyim). This is not to say, however, that YHWH has made a covenant with the nations, in the sense of a formal treaty document, but that the Servant will be the very essence of the relationship brought by such a covenant.658 He will be the covenant. This, of course, was brought to pass in the atoning death and reconciling resurrection of Jesus Christ (Heb. 12:24; cf. Matt. 26:28; 1 Cor. 11:25).

For YHWH to break His covenant with His people is not to suggest an irreparable breach, for the OT witness pervasively attests to the inviolability of that fundamental relationship (Ps. 89:34 [HB 89:35]; Isa. 54:9-10; Jer. 31:35-37; 33:19-26). What is meant is that the benefits of that covenant—in this case, the benefit of protection from conquest and deportation—have been withheld. In that sense, YHWH has exercised His right as Suzerain to bring to bear the curses of the covenant upon His disobedient vassal Israel, something He had threatened to do at the onset of the covenant arrangement (Lev. 26:14-33; Deut. 28:15-68).659 He broke His covenant by allowing His people to break it and thus to invite the suspension of its privileges.

When it came to pass, “the afflicted of the flock,” that is, “the flock destined to slaughter” (vv. 4, 7) who “kept trust with” YHWH, knew that what had come to pass was according to the Word of YHWH that He had proclaimed through His prophets from the beginning (cf. Lev. 26 and Deut. 28). Those who “kept trust” were clearly those who had maintained their covenant faith, for the verb translated here “kept trust” is rm^v* (samar), a verb much at home in covenant technical language (Ex. 19:5; 20:6; Lev. 18:4; 26:3; Deut. 4:2, 40; 5:10; 6:2, 17; 11:1, 8; Josh. 23:6; Ps. 89:31 [HB 89:32]; Ezek. 11:20; 17:14; Amos 2:4).660 It was only those who had eyes to see and ears to hear who could interpret the catastrophic events of the overthrow of Jerusalem and the Temple as the fulfillment of the prophetic word. And yet even they who were obedient to the end could not escape the judgment occasioned by the apostate flock of YHWH and its evil shepherd-kings (vv. 6, 9).

Additional Notes

11:7 For yY}n]u& /k@l*, the LXX reads yY}n]u&n~k=l!,”to the merchants of” (the flock), a reading repeated in v. 11. The line would thus be rendered, “So I shepherded the flock destined to be slaughtered for the sheep merchants.” This helps to resolve the difficult /k@l* with its peculiar following subordination, but it is not necessary to good sense and appears to have been an attempt by the LXX to introduce clarity. See the commentary.

11:10 The omission of the pronominal suffix on tyr]B= in the Syr. and Tg. Neb. is clearly to remove Zechariah as the agent of covenant. This also explains the change from “that I had made” to “that he had made,” the latter referring to YHWH. However, when it is understood that Zechariah is not only enacting the role of YHWH in the breaking of the covenant but is representing YHWH, “my covenant” is as much suitable to the prophet as to YHWH.

      3. His Fee for Serving as the Shepherd (11:12-14)


12Then I said to them, “If it seems good to you, give me my wage, but if not, refrain from it”; so they weighed out my wage—thirty pieces of silver. 13YHWH thus said to me, “Throw to the potter that exorbitant price at which I am appraised by them.” So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of YHWH. 14Then I cut the second staff in two, that is, “binders,” in order to annul the (covenant of) brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Exegesis and Exposition

Zechariah, standing in for YHWH, had, contrary to the evil shepherds, been a good shepherd to the flock of Israel and Judah. He had shepherded the flock “destined for slaughter” (v. 7) when their own shepherd-kings had shown them no compassion (v. 5) and, worse still, had shown him nothing but contempt (v. 8). For this service Zechariah inquired about wages. What did such loving, solicitous care deserve? The answer was, thirty pieces of silver.

The historical context of this unit is, again, difficult to establish. It is entirely possible in the nature of the case that the prophet actually performed the actions attributed to him here, although the reference to the temple (v. 13) might be a little premature for Zechariah’s own time, inasmuch as it was not completed until three years after the last recorded date of the book (7:1).661 On the whole it is preferable to locate the entire scene in the late preexilic period as was done with the whole section 11:1-11. What is involved here in this view is the utter rejection of the worth of YHWH and His sacrificial love throughout covenant history and particularly in the closing years of the Southern Kingdom.

Thirty (pieces) of silver (probably 30 shekels, the shekel being the basic unit of silver), not an insignificant amount in literal terms (cf. Neh. 5:15),662 was the amount of compensation to be paid a slave owner were his slave to be gored to death (Ex. 21:32). It was also the sum required for a woman who vowed herself to YHWH in special dedication (Lev. 27:4). Jesus was betrayed by Judas for 30 silver shekels (Matt. 26:15), an amount clearly in antitypical fulfillment of that here in Zechariah.

The significance of the wage is its connection to the value of a slave. In a monstrous irony and perversion of priority, the shepherding of the sovereign, a service of untold value, is appraised at only the comparative pittance of the lifetime service of a mere human slave. In assessing the worth of a slave, in fact, it was not his intrinsic value that was at stake, but the estimated value of his service to the master over a normal lifetime. It is not the preciousness of Zechariah or even YHWH that is being evaluated here but the worth of their services as shepherd.663

That it is YHWH who is being appraised and not Zechariah is made certain in v. 13 by YHWH’s ironic and indignant description of this pittance by the phrase “exorbitant price” 664 and by His command to the prophet to cast the shekels by which He, YHWH, was valued to the potter. C. C. Torrey, following the LXX, Aquila, Symmachus, understands rx@oYh^ (hayyoser) to refer not to a potter but to a “founder,” that is, a shaper of metal objects. From this he deduces that there must have been a foundry attached to or associated with the Temple. This would be necessary, he says, to melt down gifts of assorted shapes and sizes and to recast them into standard forms.665

This is an attractive interpretation except for the fact that the shekels are “thrown” into the rx@oy (yoser), not merely presented there for remolding. If the idea of a foundry is correct, however, Delcor’s view that Zechariah (i.e., YHWH) threw the shekels there in order for them to be cast into an idol is most appealing. In other words, the people have chosen idolatry.666 On the whole, it seems best to understand the destination of the shekels as the potter, rather than the founder. The potters’ shops were usually located near refuse pits where the shards and other unusable or broken materials could be cast (Jer. 18:2; 19:1-2). The place of the potter, then, was not only a place of creation and beauty but one of rejection and ruin. It became a metaphor for a scrap heap.667

The 30 shekels are, to YHWH, like so much refuse because of the insulting attitude they represent. By casting them, a symbol of the value of YHWH’s service, on the rubbish heap, Zechariah is, through the use of a figure called metonymy of adjunct, representing YHWH’s own rejection by the people who have offered so little appreciation. But the imagery is even more suggestive than all that, for the potter here is evidently located in or near the house of YHWH (v. 13).

Because there is no direct biblical or archaeological evidence that the Temple precincts accommodated a potter’s shop, many scholars accept the Syriac reading rx*oah* (haosar, “treasury”) for the MT rx@oYh^ (hayyoser, “potter”).668 Matthew appears to support this when he reports that Judas, convicted of the wrong he did, returned the 30 pieces of silver to the temple (Matt. 27:5). The priests and elders refused to accept it, however, for it was “blood money” and therefore not fit for the temple treasury (v. 6). The word for “treasury” here (korbana'", korbanas) is a Greek transliteration of the Aramaic term for the Temple Treasury (an`B*r+q*, qorbana). It occurs only here in the NT.669 It is, therefore, possible that Matthew reflects the reading of the Syriac Peshitta (or that source common to them).

Against this is the fact that yoser appears in the Zechariah passage (v. 13) as a place of rejection, not acceptance. It is in disgust that the shekels are cast there, a mood that is not likely to be true of the donation of the silver to the Temple Treasury. Moreover, Matthew does not explicitly say that Judas cast the silver into the treasury. In fact, he points out that it was returned to the temple (naov", naos) and cast down there. The priests then took the money and, quite to the contrary of depositing it in the treasury, used it to purchase a “potter’s field,” a place for strangers to be buried in (Matt. 27:7-10). It is important to note Matthew’s allusion to a potter here, suggesting that he was familiar with the Masoretic reading relative to the silver shekels and the potter’s shop. There is clearly no contradiction between Zechariah’s act of casting the shekels into the Temple and Matthew’s narrative of Judas doing the same. What Zechariah adds is that there is a potter in or about the Temple, whereas Matthew speaks of the money eventually being spent on a potter’s field.670

Because the Temple service must have required an enormous amount of clay vessels, if only for the use of the clergy, there is every reason to think that there must have been a “Temple potter” nearby, perhaps even in the Temple grounds.671 This would be a suitable place for Zechariah to cast the insulting wages as a sign of Judah’s rejection of her God. It follows that Judah’s fee, though not necessarily thrown into the potter’s shop, would meet the typological requirements of purchasing a field of burial for the outcasts of society, a field near the refuse heaps of the potters of Jerusalem.

Zechariah, having accomplished this part of his commission, then took the second staff, the one named “binders,” and cut it in two (v. 14). The name denotes the joining of the two nations Israel and Judah into one people of God. The cutting of the staff, then, means the unbinding of the binders, the rupture of the brotherhood of the two kingdoms.672 This had been a fait accompli since the time of the division of the kingdom under Jeroboam and Rehoboam,673 and the exile of Israel and then that of Judah brought about a historically irrevocable breach that awaits the eschatological day for its healing (Ezek. 37:15-23). From the time of the Babylonian deportation until the present century the people of the Lord were not Israel, but Judah, not the Israelite, but the Jew. The breaking of the brotherhood has been a fact for more than 2,000 years and only with the establishment of the state of Israel has that restoration of brotherhood begun to take shape.

The messianic and christological implications of Zechariah 11:12-14 are well known but fraught with even more difficulties than have already been suggested above. It is my view that these verses are part of the imaginative reenactment by Zechariah of YHWH’s dealings with His people in historical, preexilic times. Yet, both Jewish and Christian traditions recognize that the meaning is not exhausted by the historical dimension. There is a future as well as past orientation.

Both Matthew (Matt. 26:15; 27:9) and Luke (Acts 1:18-19) allude to or quote from the Zechariah passage in support of their accounts of the rejection and betrayal of Jesus by Judas and of Judas’s final outcome. Only Matthew, however, professes to cite an OT text as prophetic of these events (27:9). Strangely enough, he attributes the citation to Jeremiah rather than Zechariah, a fact that has caused great consternation to all schools of scholarship as the Introduction has already pointed out.

In addition to what has been said there, one should note before drawing conclusions about Matthew’s accuracy one way or the other that a NT “quotation” of the OT does not necessarily conform to the norms of modern documentation.674 Rather, it follows conventions commonly practiced and well understood within rabbinic as well as early Christian circles. It could take the form of “testimonia,” in which lists of messianic or passages, or passages of other common interest were compiled without regard for context or even chronological order. It could depend on versions other than the Hebrew Masoretic tradition such as the LXX,the favorite “Bible” of the primitive church. Finally, quotations could be of a topical type in which OT passages, connected by some sort of linkage of key words, would be associated with an author whose writings particularly focused on them.

This last option best explains Matthew’s use of the OT, for no OT prophet says more about the potter than does Jeremiah.675 It is quite likely, then, that references to the potter, such as in Zechariah 11:13, were subsumed under Jeremiah in light of the latter’s inordinate interest in such matters. Matthew, then, is “quoting” Jeremiah in the sense that he is alluding to the subject matter of the potter, something especially associated with Jeremiah.

As for its being messianic prophecy, our passage surely is such in terms of its use by Matthew, who says that the OT is being fulfilled in the selling of Jesus by Judas. Just as YHWH was priced at only 30 silver shekels as far as His service to Israel was concerned, so Jesus was viewed by Judas and his generation as having no more value than a slave. The rejection of YHWH is a type of the rejection of Jesus. In this sense, then, Zechariah 11:13 is a prophecy fulfilled in Matt. 27:9.676

    C. The Evil Shepherd (-King) to Come (11:15-17)


15YHWH said to me, “Once more take up the equipment of an unwise shepherd. 16Indeed, I am about to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not oversee the ones headed to eradication, will not seek the *scattered, and will not heal the broken. Moreover, he will not nourish the one that is well but will eat the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs.

    17Woe to the *worthless shepherd

      Who leaves the flock;

    May a sword fall upon his arm and his right eye.

      May his arm totally wither away,

    His right eye become completely blind.”

Exegesis and Exposition

This climax to the long oracle beginning with chapter 9 ends the oracle on a pessimistic note indeed. Throughout chapter 11 the theme has been that of the sheep and the shepherds. The sheep are God’s chosen people, Israel and Judah, and the shepherds the evil kings who abandoned their subjects in their times of greatest need, particularly just prior to the Babylonian conquest and deportation. Zechariah, playing the role of and speaking for YHWH, has done all he can as the good shepherd to minister to the flock but to no avail. They have spurned him utterly, counting his service to them as of no more value than the service of a slave. He therefore broke his covenant with them in terms of their appropriation of its benefits and also broke off the brotherhood between Israel and Judah. The only hope now is for a shepherd who will come and in tender love and omnipotent power effect a reunion and restoration. Such a one will come, as Zechariah 9:9-10 makes clear, but not until the sinful rebellion of God’s people runs its course. Before they can accept that Good Shepherd to come, they must have one last fling with a ruler who will utterly disappoint them. This is the shepherd on whom the prophecy now focuses.

Once more YHWH commands Zechariah to dramatize His message. He is to take up the implements of an unwise, a foolish, shepherd. The term used to describe him (yl!w]a$, ewil) is commonly employed in the wisdom literature to designate the man without God.677 Thus the sage says, “The fear of YHWH is the chief part of knowledge, but the foolish despises wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7). He also despises his father’s correction (15:5; cf. 16:22), engages in needless controversy (20:3), and is absolutely insensitive to change (27:22). In short, the foolish is the antithesis to the wise and godly man in every way.

Jeremiah uses the same adjective to describe YHWH’s people (4:22). “They are foolish,” he says, “they do not know me.” Thus, to be foolish is to be ignorant of God. It is not surprising that a foolish people would submit to a foolish shepherd.

Up till now I have argued that the shepherd imagery pertained to events of the past, that Zechariah in fact was reliving the history of his own people. That history indeed provided a prototype of future events occasionally (as in vv. 12-13) but essentially was antecedent to the prophet’s own time (i.e., was preexilic). Now, however, there can be no doubt that the orientation is exclusively future in both historical and eschatological terms. This is apparent because Zechariah does not actually act out his role as foolish shepherd (apart from taking up the equipment of a shepherd), nor is there any place for such a figure in Israel’s past if, indeed, our view that Zechariah 11:1-14 finds its setting in the past is at all correct.

It is fruitless, then, to try to identify the foolish shepherd as someone anterior to the prophet. This means that some figure after Zechariah must be sought, but that very search is encumbered with a host of problems. Candidates from Pekah to Ptolemy IV have been proposed678 but in the nature of the case with little persuasive evidence. It is best perhaps to see in the shepherd the whole collective leadership of Israel from Zechariah’s time forward, culminating at last in that very epitome of godless despotism, the individual identified in the NT as the Antichrist (1 John 2:18, 22; 4:3; 2 John 7; cf. Matt. 24:5, 24; 2 Thess. 2:3-4).679 It is only when that leadership is seen to be what it truly is—foolish and antithetical to God—that it will be discarded by the people and destroyed by YHWH who Himself will then assume the reins of government (Rev. 13:1-18; 14:9-12; 19:19-21; cf. Dan. 11:36-45).680

The “shepherd in the land” (v. 16), then, is the structure of anti-God leadership that commenced as early as the postexilic days of Zechariah. This seems conclusive in light of the incipient action of the participle <yq!m@ (meqm), in <yq!m@ yk!n)a*-hN}h! (“I am about to raise up,” v. 16).681 “In the land” locates the rule of the shepherd as being in Israel, the holy land. The shepherd will be the king of Israel, but one who fails in all his regal responsibilities toward the flock. He will not oversee the ones headed to eradication nor seek the scattered nor heal the broken.

The word translated “headed to eradication” (todj*k=n], nikhadot) is a niphal participle of the verb dj^K* (kahad), and it occurs only here and in v. 9 in that form. There is clearly, then, a connection between the poor defenseless sheep of v. 9 who are left to their tormentors and those of v. 16 who will have no oversight from the foolish shepherd. The feminine gender in both places might even suggest that these are the ewes, the sheep least able to fend for themselves. The import of their being “headed for eradication” (thus the nuance of the participle) is that unless they get such oversight there is no hope of their survival. The term “oversight” (dq^P*, paqad) speaks here of shepherdly care.682 It is the same verb that occurs in 10:3 where YHWH, angry with the evil shepherds, says that He will oversee His flock instead and will change them from weak and persecuted sheep into mighty warhorses (cf. Jer. 23:2).

Fundamental to the work of a shepherd was his concern for any sheep that might have separated from the flock and gone its own way (Isa. 53:6; Matt. 18:12-14). Yet the foolish shepherd will not seek the scattered one who goes astray. Nor will he heal the broken ones. By contrast one thinks of the good shepherd of this passage (above) and of Psalm 23 who leads, restores, guides, comforts, feeds, and administers healing oils (v. 5).

Even the sheep who is healthy and sound683 has much to fear, for the foolish shepherd will stop nourishing it. Indeed, he will take advantage of its fatness by slaughtering it for meat to satisfy his own appetite. So thorough and cruel will be his disposition of these defenseless ones that he will rip their very hoofs from them. This is probably a hyperbole to suggest that by the time the wicked shepherd is through with his flock there is nothing left but the unusable feet. A similar figure occurs in Amos 3:12 where YHWH says that just as a shepherd might find in the lion’s mouth only two legs or the piece of an ear, so He will rescue the remnant of Israel in the day of judgment.684

YHWH is not oblivious to the shepherd who so abuses and exploits His people, however. As testimony to His concern He pronounces a woe in a poetic quatrain that completes the oracle (v. 17).685 Shifting the adjective slightly (lyl!a$, [ell], “worthless,” for yl!w]a$, [ewil], “unwise,”686 YHWH now describes the foolish shepherd as a worthless one,687 worthless because he leaves the flock. The woe-judgment that will come upon him will be a sword that wounds his arm and his right eye.688 Without the arm to retrieve and carry the sheep (cf. Luke 15:5) and the eye with which to search and find (cf. Matt. 18:12), the shepherd truly is worthless, now not only in a moral sense but in a practical, functional sense as well.

So serious will the wounding be that the arm will completely wither away and the eye will become sightless.689 Why the shepherd is not killed is unclear, but he is so severely incapacitated that he can no longer continue as a shepherd. Thus for all practical purposes he ceases to be a problem for the sheep of God’s pasture. The point is that those who rule over the people of YHWH and who abuse that privilege can expect the awesome judgment of God that results in their deposition and replacement by shepherds who more lovingly and faithfully discharge their responsibilities.

The oracle ends on a pessimistic note, but the message as a whole has not ended. In the final oracle of the book (chaps. 12-14) there is the glorious hope of a shepherd to come who, though smitten (13:7), will recover and stand triumphant at last in the day of YHWH (14:9, 16).

Additional Notes

11:16 If in fact ru^N~h^ means “scattered,” this is the only example of the word in the OT with this meaning. A homonym occurs with the meaning “youth” or “lad,” but it never applies elsewhere to anything but a human being. It is likely, as the versions all attest, that “scattered” is correct, being a derivative of the verb ru^n`, “to shake.” The ru^n~, then, is something “shaken off” or scattered.

11:17 Many scholars, with the Syr. and Tg. Neb., read yl!yw]a$, “foolish one,” for lyl!a$, “worthless one,” to bring it in line with v. 15. There is clearly a correction process at work in the Syr. and Tg. Neb. to accomplish this very purpose, so the original and correct reading is without doubt that of the MT.

518 Otto Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction, (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1965), 440.

519 R. K. Harrison, Introduction to the Old Testament, (London: Tyndale, 1970), 952, 954-55.

520 P. A. H. de Boer, “An Inquiry into the Meaning of the Term acm,” OTS 5 (1948):197-214, esp. 203-4, 214; H.-P. Muller, TWAT, V 1/2:23, s.v. ac*m^; Magne Saeb, Sacharja 9-14. Untersuchungen von Text und Form, (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1969), 137-40.

521 Paul Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, (Philadephia: Fortress, 1975), 296.

522 James B. Pritchard, ed., Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ., 1969), 282-83. Cf. Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 66-67.

523 Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyyptic, 296-97.

524 Ibid., 297.

525 Theophane Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969), 152. D. R. Jones argues that Hadrach and Damascus do not come in for judgment because hj*n%m= never bears the sense of hostility elsewhere. The conquest, then, begins in v. 3 with the cities of Phoenicia and Philistia; D. R. Jones, “A Fresh Interpretation of Zechariah IX-XI,” VT 12 (1962):242-46.

526 Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 7:657-58.

527 Lacocque suggests also that it was because the god of Tyre was named Adon. Thus the passage is heightened in its polemic; Andr Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, CAT [Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981], 149).

528 Thus Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8-Sacharja 9-14-Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976): “Ringmauer” (p. 167); Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972): “wealth” (p. 160); Alfons Deissler, Zwlf Propheten III. Zefania, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, (Würzburg: Echterverlag, 1988): “Streitmacht” (p. 294); K. Elliger, Die Propheten Nahum, Habakuk, Zephanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, ATD (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982): “Bollwerk” (p. 144); Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja: “Festungswerk” (p. 238); Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14: “richesse” (p. 149); P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Litteraire et Messianisme, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961): “puissance” (p. 37); T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie: “rempart” (p. 154); Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963): “military power” (p. 155).

529 It is somewhat surprising that Lamarche, whose purpose is to describe such literary phenomena in “Deutero-Zechariah,” fails to see this small chiasm in his larger chiastic structure of 9:1-8 (Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 42.

530 Chary notes this but concludes (incorrectly in our opinion) that the centrality of Ekron is to draw attention to the fact that she receives the most glorious promise of all—to be like a Jebusite (v. 7). To the contrary, at this point these are not promises of blessing but words of impending judgment (T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 158, 160-61). The shift to blessing does not occur until v. 7b.

531 K. Barker, “Zechariah,” EBC, 7:659.

532 Ernest Sellin, Des Zwlfprophetenbuch, (Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1922), 498.

533 For archaeological evidence, see Trude Dothan, The Philistines and Their Material Culture (New Haven, Conn.: Yale Univ., 1982), 219-51.

534 H. J. Austel, TWOT, 2:955, s.v. JQ@v!.

535 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 162.

536 P. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalpytic, 299-320; also Hanson, “Zechariah 9 and the Recapitulation of an Ancient Ritual Pattern,” JBL 92 (1973):37-59.

537 See, e.g., Friedrich Horst, Die Zwlf kleinen Propheten. Nahum bis Maleachi, HAT 14 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), 246-47. Malamat places the prophecies about Gaza and Ashdod (vv. 5-7) in the time of Sargon II (722-705). The reference to Tyre (vv. 3-4) he associates with the sieges of that city by Shalmaneser V and by Sargon (720-719 B.C.). Therefore, he argues, the events of vv. 1-2 must also have occurred about that time A. Malamat, “The Historical Setting of Two Biblical Prophecies on the Nations,” IEJ 1 [1950-51]:149-54). Lipinski also locates the setting of 9:1-8 in the time of Tiglath-Pileser, going so far as to suggest that Damascus was under Israelite control then and that the ark may actually have been in Damascus (“son bivouac,” v. 1) (E. Lipinski, “Recherches sur le Livre de Zacharie,” VT 20 [1970]:46-50).

538 A strenuous attempt by Delcor to date the passage at ca. 312 B.C. on the basis of alleged references to Alexander the Great is a case in point. See M. Delcor, “Les Allusions Alexandre le Grand dans Zach IX 1-8,” VT 1 (1951):110-24.

539 For a history of interpretation, see Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 11-34.

540 So, e.g., A. Deissler, Zwlfpropheten IV. Zefanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi (1988), 294-95 (Alexander’s campaigns); J. Alberto Soggin, Introduction to the Old Testament, 3d ed. (London: SCM, 1989), 406-7. The most commonly held view, one accepted by the majority of conservative scholars, is that Zechariah predicts the conquest of Syria-Palestine by Alexander the Great; see, e.g., Unger, Zechariah, 152-59. However, even Leupold, who espouses this interpretation on the whole, sees the prophecy as one “so designed by divine providence as to cover the victorious progress of Alexander the Great” but yet as not being strictly fulfilled in Alexander because of the lack of correspondence of certain parts, especially v. 7, with historical reality (H. C. Leupold, Exposition of Zechariah, [Grand Rapids: Baker, 1971], 165, 166, 170).

541 Joseph Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, (London: Allen and Unwin, 1956), 203-40.

542 R. T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament, (London: Tyndale, 1971), 103-6; John W. Wenham, Christ and the Bible (Leicester: InterVarsity, 1972), 60; F. F. Bruce, This Is That. The New Testament Development of Some Old Testament Themes (Exeter: Paternoster, 1968), 106-7; Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 120-23.

543 Unger, Zechariah, 165.

544 Thus the blending of the two messianic roles in Qumranic and other pre-Christian Jewish exegesis. See Klausner, The Messianic Idea in Israel, 392, 394; E.-M. Laperrousaz, L’Attente du Messie en Palestine la Veille et au Dbut l’Ere Chrtienne, (Paris: Picard, 1982), 94-320; Pierre Grelot, “Le Messie dans les Apocryphes de l’Ancien Testament. tat la Question,” in La Venue du Messie. Messianisme et Eschatologie, ed. . Massaux (Louvain: Descle de Brouwer, 1962), 19-50, esp. 22-32.

545 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. Toward an Exegetical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 131-47.

546 Hanson describes the subject of vv. 9-10 in terms of “the victorious return of the Divine Warrior to his Temple.” This, of course, is in line with his analysis of 9:1-17 as a whole as a divine warrior hymn drawing on the ritual pattern of the conflict myth (P. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 320-21). Thus, vv. 9-10 are an integral part of the whole piece.

547 H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 268, suggests a sudden shift of speaker back to the prophet himself, but this is unnecessary.

548 C. Stuhlmueller, Haggai and Zechariah, ITC (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 121-25.

549 Ringgren, in a study of the phrase “behold, your king comes,” concludes that it “is used to proclaim the immediate coming of a king, or of Yahweh as king, in order to conquer his enemies and/or to save his people.” Examples elsewhere of the concept he cites are Deut. 33:2; Pss. 96:11-13; 98:7-9; Isa. 30:27; 35:4; 40:9-10; 60:1; 62:13; Hab. 3:3; Helmer Ringgren, “Behold Your King Comes,” VT 24 [1974]:207-11).

550 Lamarche outlines it as follows:

    a) Jrusalem (9a-b)

      b) roi victorieux (victorious king) (9c-4)

        c) ne (donkey) (9e-f)

        c) chevaux (horses) (10a-b)

      b) paix (peace) (10c-d)

    a) toute la terre (the whole earth) (10e-f)

(P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 45-46). Butterworth accepts this analysis with some modification (G. Michael Butterworth, “The Structure of the Book of Zechariah.” (Dissertation for King’s College, London, 1989, 180-81).

551 For these and other nuances see Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 176-79. The rendering of qyD!x^ by “legitimate” rests on the well-known equation with Akk. knatu/kittu, a term referring to the legitimacy of a king’s rule as well as its just quality. Cf. CAD/K, 383-84, 468-70. Such a usage also finds support in the OT itself where, especially in Isa. 40-55, Yahweh’s righteousness and right to rule are described in various forms of the sdq root (cf. Isa. 41:10; 42:5-6; 45:19); J. J. Scullion, “Sedeq-Sedaqah in Isaiah cc. 40-66,” UF 3(1971):341; R. A. Rosenberg, “Yahweh Becomes King,” JBL 85 (1966):301; C. F. Whitley, “Deutero-Isaiah’s Interpretation of Sedeq, VT 22(1972):473.

552 Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 136-37. Cf. 1 Sam. 23:3; Isa. 9:5-6; 11:4; 16:5; Jer. 22:1-5, 1-17; 23:5-6.

553 Chary sees the active “just” and passive “saved” as a deliberate juxtaposition designed to reveal “la personnalit nouvelle du messie, tout entier sous la mouvance de Dieu ‘juste et sauv’ par grce” (“the new personality of the Messiah, completely under the moving of God, ‘just and saved’ by grace”) T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 166). It is better, with Mitchell, to understand it as “victorious” in the sense that the royal figure has been delivered “by the grace, and in the might, of the God of Israel” (H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 273). For other passages referring to the Messiah or the king as “saved,” see Ps. 18:4 [EB 18:3]; Isa. 49:4-5; 50:7-9; 53:11. Chary points out also (p. 165) that Zechariah appears to have depended on Zeph. 3:14-18 for his language in 9:9, but uses the niphal rather than Zephaniah’s hiphil.

554 Thus the LXX sw/vzwn. Cf. NIV (“having salvation”), KJV (“having salvation”), NASB (“endowed with salvation”), NKJV (“having salvation”). The NEB “his victory gained” is an excellent rendition, combining both the passive and active aspects.

555 It suggests hiphil j^yv!om as in Isa. 43:3; 49:26; 60:16; Jer. 30:10; 46:27. Sellin reads the hiphil, in fact, rather than the MT niphal (E. Sellin, Das Zwlfprophetenbuch, 499-500).

556 K. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, 7:662.

557 The donkey was, of course, commonly used in Middle Bronze Mari as a royal steed; E. Lipinski, “Recherches sur le livre de Zacharie,” VT 20 (1970):51-52.

558 By a slight revocalization (yn]u* to yn}u)) Khler takes the word to be a ptcp. of hn`u* and translates “triumphierend,” citing Ps 18:35c [HB 18:36c]; B. Khler, “Sacharja IX 9. Ein Neuer bersetzungsvorschlag,” VT 21 (1971):370; thus also E. Lipinski, “Recherches sur le Livre de Zacharie,” 50-53. Unfortunately, neither the ancient texts nor the NT supports this reading.

559 For the various terms and the use of the ass in the ancient Near Eastern world, see W. S. McCullough, IDB, I-260-61, s.v. “ass.”

560 Harrelson points out that tonota&-/B# ry]u^ finds an exact equivalent in the Mari texts in hayarum TUR atanim, the ass slain in covenant-making. The only other OT occurrence is in Gen. 49:11 where the Messianic ruler is associated with a pure-blooded ass. The king of Zech. 9:9-10 comes, then, in peace and to fulfill the covenant (Walter Harrelson, “Nonroyal Motifs in the Royal Eschatology,” in Israel’s Prophetic Heritage, eds. B. W. Anderson and Walter Harrelson [New York: Harper, 1962], 159-63).

561 See Herman Patsch, “Der Einzug Jesu in Jerusalem,” ZTK 68 (1971):1-26; Roman Bartnicki, “Das Zitat von Zach ix, 9-10 und die Tiere im Bericht von Matthus über dem Einzug Jesu in Jerusalem (Matt. XXI, 1-11),” NovT 18 (1976):161-66.

562 The fact that Matthew (as opposed to Mark and Luke) speaks of two animals has led some scholars to accuse Matthew of having misread the poetic parallelism of Zech. 9:9 in such a way as to see two animals rather than one; cf. W. F. Albright and C. S. Mann, Matthew, AB 26 (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1971), 252. This need not be the case at all, as has been shown by S. Lewis Johnson, “The Triumphal Entry of Christ,” BSac 124 (1967):222.

563 Robert H. Gundry, Matthew. A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1982), 408-9.

564 Edwin D. Freed, “The Entry into Jerusalem in the Gospel of John,” JBL 80 (1961):337-38.

565 So, e.g., Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 155, and most scholars.

566 Magne Saeb, “Vom Grossreich zum Weltreich,” VT (1978):83-91.

567 GKC 153. Cf. Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 188.

568 W. R. Harris, ISBE (1986)3:874-75, s.v. Pit.

569 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 168.

570 Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 92.

571 More particularly it is a genitive of attribute in which the purpose of the blood is stated: to make covenant; GKC 128q.

572 E. Kutsch understands this to be a reference to the covenant with Abraham involving circumcision (“Beschneidungsblut”), not the Mosaic covenant (Ernst Kutsch, “Das Sog. ‘Bundesblut’ in Ex. XXIV 8 und Sach IX 11,” VT 23 [1973]:29-30). This view is not compelling because it overlooks the exodus parallels here which clearly relate to the Sinaitic covenant.

573 T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 171.

574 Many scholars emend the rare /orX*b!l= to /wyx dl (Marti, Sellin, Horst), /wyx tbl (Duhm, Nowack) or the like, thus connecting it to Zion. But see Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 241; Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 55-56.

575 Unger, Zechariah, 166.

576 Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 158.

577 P.-E. Bonnard, Le Second Isae (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1972), 420.

578 For a good review of the military terminology here, see Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 194.

579 So S. R. Driver, An Introduction to the Literature of the Old Testament (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1913), 349; Eissfeldt, The Old Testament. An Introduction, 437; Otto Kaiser, Introduction to the Old Testament (Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1975), 288; Georg Fohrer, Introduction to the Old Testament (London: SPCK, 1970), 466-67. Others posit /w`y` Eyn~B*-lu^ (13b) to be a gloss but still date the passage late. So Horst, Nahum bis Maleachi, 279-80. Hanson, The Dawn of Apoclyptic, 298, regards the disputed phrase as a gloss but dates the passage early. He argues that it upsets the meter, but it also clearly upsets an early date unless one can concede some measure of prediction.

580 Edwin Yamauchi, Greece and Babylon. Early Contacts Between the Aegean and the Near East (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1967), 61-84.

581 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 168-69.

582 The word sn} (nes) or some other term for banner or pennant, does not occur here, but this is clearly the intent of the niphal ha#r`y~, “will be seen (over them).” See George E. Mendenhall, The Tenth Generation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1973,) 56-66; Thomas W. Mann, Divine Presence and Guidance in Israelite Traditions: The Typology of Exaltation (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins, 1977), 252-58.

583 Wagner, TWAT, IV 1/2: cols. 54-60, s.v. vb^K*.

584 Many scholars take ul^q#-yn}b=a^ to be the subject of the clause: “the sling-stones will devour and conquer,” or, as Chary renders it, “devoreront victorieusement” (“devouring victoriously”) (T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 172). Cf. A. Van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophtes, (Paris: Librairie Victor Lecoffre, 1908), 667; Horst, Nahum bis Maleachi, 174; Elliger, Die Propheten Nahum, Habakuk, Zephanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, 151. Elliger (and many others) emends cb^K* to rc*B* so as to read, “the sling-stones will devour flesh,” etc.

585 So H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, 280, 284; cf. Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 198-200.

586 Elliger, Die Propheten Nahum, Habakuk, Zephanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, 152.

587 Marcus Jastrow, A Dictionary of the Targumim, the Talmud Babli and Yerushalmi, and the Midrashic Literature (New York: Pardes, 1950), 1:386. Cf. C. F. Jean and Jacob Hoftijzer, Dictionnaire des Inscriptions semitiques de L’Ouest, (Leiden: Brill, 1965), 73.

588 For full discussion, see Taeke Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 70-78; Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 60-61. Otzen takes qr`z+m! to be a gloss on toYw]z`, but this is uncalled for in light of the well-known Aramaic usage (Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 245).

589 So abrupt is the shift here that Bewer suggests /ax)K=, “like a flock,” be emended to Jyx!y`, “will shine” (Julius A. Bewer, “Two Suggestions on Proverbs 30:31 and Zechariah 9:16,” JBL 67 [1948]:62). This arbitrary adjustment of the text has absolutely no basis.

590 Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 170.

591 Chary draws attention to similar ideas in Ex. 24:10; Ezek. 1:26; Rev. 22:18-22; T. Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 175-76.

592 Thus Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, 160.

593 Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 176; Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 246. It is also possible to take the singular pronoun as referring to the delivered remnant as a collective entity; thus K. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, 7:667.

594 Denis Baly, The Geography of the Bible (London: Lutterworth, 1957), 47-52.

595 Anne E. Draffkorn, “Ilani/Elohim,” JBL 75 (1957): 216-24, esp. 222-23.

596 Technically, this was known in Mesopotamia as hepatoscopy, a subdiscipline of extispicy, the inspection of internal organs in general. See A. L. Oppenheim, Ancient Mesopotamia (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago, 1964), 213-15.

597 A. Leo Oppenheim, The Interpretation of Dreams in the Ancient Near East, TAPS (Philadelphia: The American Philosophical Society, 1956).

598 Many interpreters take tomOj& as a direct object of WrB@d^y+ and render, “The augurers see (or, have seen) a lie and speak empty dreams.” So Paul D. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), 324. Against this is the use of the verb “speak” with dreams. One would expect that they dream empty dreams. Moreover, the parallelism is better if tomOj& is taken as a figure (metonymy) for dreamers and made a subject. The verse would then take the form:



      have spoken




      have seen

      a lie



      have spoken


The last line, then, becomes a summary of the disappointment caused by all three practitioners:


      they (all)


      in vain

For arguments supporting tomOj& as a subject, see W. Nowack, Die kleinen Propheten, HAT (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1903), 295-96.

599 Note the connection between the “flock” of 9:16 and the “sheep” of 10:2b, a connection picked up in the analysis of Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 218-19.

600 J. de Fraine, L’Aspect Religieux de la Royaut Isralite (Roma: Pontificio Istituto Biblico, 1954), 352-54, 137-38 (Israel).

601 Patrick D. Miller, Jr., “Animal Names as Designations in Ugaritic and Hebrew,” UF 2 (1970): 184.

602 Rex Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, CBC (Cambridge: Cambridge Univ., 1977), 99.

603 Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 330-31.

604 Chary points out that this epithet is used consistently to refer to “les chefs” (“the rulers”) who are “ceux du tout-Isral runi” (“those of a reunified Israel”). It is thus an eschatological term here (Theophane Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, [Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969], 180).

605 H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 289.

606 Mason draws attention to its use to designate kings of the ancient Near East, especially in Egyptian texts (Mason, The Books of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 100).

607 Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 180-81.

608 Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 249; Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8—Sacharja 9-14—Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), 195).

609 H. Kosmala, TDOT, 2:368, s.v. rb^G`.

610 Bernhard W. Anderson, “Exodus Typology in Second Isaiah,” in Israel’s Prophetic Heritage, eds. Bernhard W. Anderson and Walter Harrelson (London: SCM, 1962), 177-95.

611 Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963), 182.

612 Thus, e.g., Sellin, “herbeizischen” (“to hiss”); D. Ernest Sellin, Das Zwlf-prophetenbuch (Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1922), 506.

613 These are the usual renderings of the verb in the qal. Some scholars emend Wyj*w+ to WYj!w+ (piel), “give life to,” and take ta# as nota accusativi; thus, “They will give life to their children and will return.” So, e.g., Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 180, who translates the verb as “rear up.” This is not in keeping with the total biblical idea that it is YHWH who takes the initiative in redemption and regeneration, nor can Chary’s translation stand in light of the regular meanings of hy`j*. His rendition is based on the LXX ejkqrevyousin. Cf. Taeke Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 91.

614 Unger, Zechariah, 183.

615 Though this was generally the position of earlier critics, some today, notably B. Otzen, continue to advocate a preexilic (in Otzen’s case, a Josianic) date for 10:10-11; Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 42-45, passim.

616 Andr Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, CAT (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981), 168.

617 So Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 176.

618 For important studies, see F. M. Cross, Canaanite Myth and Hebrew Epic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ., 1973), 121-44; P. D. Miller, Jr., The Divine Warrior in Early Israel (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard Univ., 1973), 113-17; David Noel Freedman, Pottery, Poetry, and Prophecy (Winona Lake, Ind.: Eisenbrauns, 1980), 179-86; Millard C. Lind, Yahweh Is a Warrior (Scottdale, Pa.: Herald, 1980), 46-60.

619 See Peter C. Craigie, “The Poetry of Ugarit and Israel,” Tyn Bul 22 (1971): 19-26, 28-31; Craigie, “Deborah and Anat: A Study of Poetic Imagery,” ZAW 19 (1978): 381.

620 Roy F. Melugin, The Formation of Isaiah 40-55 (Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 1976), 160; James D. Smart, History and Theology in Second Isaiah (London: Epworth, 1965), 182-83.

621 Thus, e.g., K. Elliger, Die Propheten Nahum, Habakuk, Zephanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, ATD (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982), 155, 157; F. J. Botha, “Zechariah X. 11a,” ExpTim 66 (1955): 177, suggests <oyB=, “in a day (of affliction).” He takes the daghesh forte of the MT to reflect an original waw. When the copiest read yodh instead, he inserted the daghesh to indicate doubling. This is attractive in that “sea of affliction” occurs nowhere else whereas “day of affliction” does (Ps. 20:2 [EB 20:1]; 50:15; Prov. 24:10; 25:19; Jer. 16:19; Obad. 12, 14; Nah. 1:7). However, “sea of affliction” makes sense here and requires no emendation. For other objections, see D. Winton Thomas, “Zechariah x.11a,” ExpTim 66 (1955): 272-73.

622 See respectively, James B. Pritchard, ed. Ancient Near Eastern Texts Relating to the Old Testament (Princeton, N.Y.: Princeton Univ., 1955), 67, 131.

623 Mitchell Dahood, Psalms 51-100, AB (Garden City, NY.: Doubleday, 1968), 205-6.

624 Though Lamarche does not suggest this chiasm in v. 11, he does note one in vv. 10-11, viz, Egypt, Assyria … Assyria, Egypt. The Nile could, therefore, be the centerpoint of this structure, and for this reason becomes a synonym for Egypt, thus avoiding repetition of the name Egypt itself (P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme [Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961], 60, 62-63).

625 For a survey of views that take Zech. 11:4-17 as an allegory of the good and bad shepherd, see A. S. van der Woude, “Die Hirtenallegorie von Sacharja XI,” JNSL 12 (1984):139-49.

626 P. Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV. Structure Littraire et Messianisme (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1961), p. 63. For a different approach leading to similar results, see Paul Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1975), p. 335. Hanson, in addition to determining structure and meter, advances the following scheme of prosodic units:

      v. 1


      v. 2


      v. 3


This is in line with our own analysis.

627 See Magne Saeb, Sacharja 9-14. Untersuchungen von Text und Form (Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener Verlag, 1969), pp. 231-33.

628 Benedikt Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, ATD 6 (Copenhagen: Prostant Apud Munksgaard, 1964), 163-64.

629 John N. Oswalt, The Book of Isaiah Chapters 1-39, NICOT (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1986), 275-76; Edmond Jacob, Esae 1—12, CAT VIIIa (Geneve: Labor et Fides, 1987), 157-58.

630 Walther Zimmerli. Ezekiel 2, Hermeneia (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1983), 145-53.

631 J. C. Trever, IDB,1:545-46, s.v. “cedar.”

632 J. C. Trever, IDB, 2:268, s. v. “fir.”

633 J. C. Trever, IDB, 3:575, s.v. “oak.”

634 So Andre Lacocque, Zacharie 9-14, CAT (Neuchatel: Delachaux & Niestl, 1981), 171. He draws attention to a parallel in Ezek. 17:13.

635 H. G. Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, ICC (Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1912), 297.

636 Theophane Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1968), 183.

637 Nelson Glueck, The River Jordan (London: Lutterworth, 1946), 63, 120.

638 Robert C. Dentan, “The Book of Zechariah, Chapters 9-14,” IB 1102-3. For many examples see J. Lindblom, Prophecy in Ancient Israel, (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1965), 165-73.

639 Lester V. Meyer, “An Allegory Concerning the Monarchy: Zech. 11:4-7; 13:7-9,” in Scripture in History and Theology, ed. A. L. Merrill and T. W. Overholt (Pittsburgh: Pickwick, 1977), 226.

640 For this reason, as noted above, most scholars describe vv. 4-17 as an allegory. See Joyce G. Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, (London: Tyndale, 1972), 179.

641 Meyer, “An Allegory Concerning the Monarchy: Zech. 11:4-17; 13:7-9,” 232-33.

642 Feigin makes the point that “flock of slaughter” is a technical term used to refer to flocks sold in a profane manner for the meat market. They could therefore be slaughtered for that purpose with impunity (Samuel Feigin, “Some Notes on Zechariah 11 4-17,” JBL 44 [1925]:204).

643 That vv. 4-6 speak of a fait accompli, a current situation brought about by past failures, is implied by Paul Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 342-43, 346. Furthermore, since the epithet “shepherd” invariably refers to kings in the OT, except for the messianic ruler to come, its use here must pertain to the period of the monarchy, that is, the preexilic era.

644 Denton, “The Book of Zechariah,” 1103.

645 My rendering of the action as past is in line with the view, expressed already, that vv. 4-6 reflect a rsum of God’s dealings with His people in preexilic times, a history about to be enacted by Zechariah himself (vv. 7-14).

646 Unger, though being overly precise in my opinion, correctly identifies “neighbor” as an outside power (to him Babylon) (Merrill F. Unger, Zechariah, [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1963], 193).

647 J. Kühlewein, TWAT 2; cols. 786-91, s.v. u^r@.

648 Thus BHS. Cf., e.g., Friedrich Horst, Die Zwlf kleinen Propheten. Nahum bis Maleachi, HAT 14 (Tübingen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), 252.

649 In fact, there is no variation suggested in any of the ancient versions. See Taeke Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, (Leiden: Brill, 1949), 98-100.

650 Though most scholars, with the LXX, read yY}n]u&n~k=l! (“to the Canaanites of”) for yY}n]u& /k@l* (“therefore, the poor of”), this is unnecessary and probably incorrect. P. R. Davies shows that the very same phrase as in the MT occurs in the Damascus Document to describe the faithful remnant of the community that produced this important postbiblical text; P. R. Davies, The Damascus Document [Sheffield: JSOT, 1982], 150-51.

651 For a host of opinions, see Theophane Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, (Paris: Librairie Lecoffre, 1969), 181-83.

652 Maurer, Hitzig, and Ewald, cited by Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai and Zechariah, p. 307.

653 Thus Lacocque, Zacharie IX-XIV, 177, who cites Hos. 5:7 as comparable.

654 A. Van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophetes, (Paris: Librairie Victor Lecoffre, 1908), 675.

655 These survivors are called tora*v=N]h^, the fem. plur. niphal ptc. of the verb ra^v* from which tyr]a@v=, “remnant,” derives. Thus it is likely that remnant theology is in view, as was suggested in vv. 4, 7. Cf. 2 Chron. 34:21; Isa. 4:3; H. Wildberger, TWAT 2:854, s.v. rav. For cannibalism as treaty curse see Delbert R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets (Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1964), 62-63.

656 The word for flock, /ax), is feminine and is the antecedent to the pronoun “them” in the last two references. The masculine cannot, therefore, refer to the flock, so perhaps implies some masculine subject such as <u^, “people.” This appears to be borne out by the breaking of the covenant with the “peoples” of v. 10.

657 So Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 154; cf. Van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophetes, 672. Baldwin takes the expression to mean the Jewish colonies scattered among the nations as in 1 Kings 22:28 and Joel 2:6; (Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 184). Caquot, however, understands it to refer to the nations of Solomon’s time whom God had raised up to chastise Solomon (1 Kings 11:14-25), in this sense having made a covenant with them; (A. Caquot, “Breves Remarques sur L’Allegorie des Pasteurs en Zacharie II,” in Melanges Bibliques et Orientaux, ed. A. Caquot, S. Legasse, et M. Tardieu [Neukirchen-Vluyn: Kevelaer, 1985], 52-53.

658 E. J. Young, The Book of Isaiah (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1972), 3:119-21.

659 For the breaking of a scepter to symbolize treaty curse in the ancient Near East, see D. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and the Old Testament Prophets, 61. Hillers cites parallels in the Code of Hammurabi rev. xxvi 45-51 and in Ugaritic in UT 127, 17-18; 49 vi 28-29.

660 Paul Kalluveettil, Declaration and Covenant. AnBib 88 (Rome: Biblical Institute, 1982), 48, 126.

661 Some scholars propose that all or parts of Zech. 9-14 were written as late as 480 B.C., long after the Temple was rebuilt. See Kenneth L. Barker, “Zechariah,” in The EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985) 7:598.

662 The shekel weighed about 0.41 ounces, so at five dollars per ounce U.S., 30 shekels would be worth $61.50. The Code of Hammurabi prescribes a monthly wage for a laborer of one shekel, a unit weighing about 0.30 ounces. If this were the case in Israel, 30 shekels would be the wages for 2 1/2 years; R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, pp. 76, 204-5. For other examples of “thirty shekels” as a conventional payment, see K. Luke, “The Thirty Pieces of Silver (Zech. 11:12f.), Ind TS 19(1982):26-30. Luke, on the basis of Sumerian analogues, suggests that “thirty” came to be a term meaning anything of little or no value (p. 30). In this he follows Erica Reiner, “Thirty Pieces of Silver,” in Essays in Memory of E. A. Speiser, AOS 53, ed. William W. Hallo (New Haven, Conn.: American Oriental Society, 1968), 186-90. Though the 30 shekels elsewhere in the OT may well be taken literally, the context of Zech. 11:12 may indeed support Reiner and Luke in seeing it as a pittance here. So also E. Lipinski, “Recherches sur le Livre de Zacharie,” VT 20 (1970): 53-55.

663 As Chary points out, the problem here is that “c’est un blaspheme que de reduire Dieu a une valeur marchande”; (“it is blasphemous to reduce God to the role of a merchant”); (T. Chary, Agge - Zacharie, Malachie, 190).

664 G. W. Ahlstrom connects rd#a#, “exorbitant,” to Akkadian adaru, “a vessel of metal,” and by repointing rx@oy to rx#Wy (a qutl-form), in line with the Peshitta, suggests the latter to be some kind of vessel. Thus rq*y+h^ rd#a# would be in apposition to rx#Wy and the phrase rendered something like, “cast it into the vessel, the splendid container”; (G. W. Ahlstrom, “rd#a#,” VT 17 [1967]:1-7). Even though this accords with the MT (except for vocalization), it goes against all ancient versions except the Peshitta.

665 C. C. Torrey, “The Foundry of the Second Temple at Jerusalem,” JBL 55 (1936): 247-60.

666 M. Delcor, “Deux Passages Difficiles: Zach VII 11 et XI 13,” VT 3 (1953): 76-77.

667 James L. Kelso, The Ceramic Vocabulary of the Old Testament, BASOR Supp. 5-6 (New Haven: Conn.: Haven, Conn.: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1948), 7-11.

668 Thus, e.g., D. Ernest Sellin, Das Zwlfprophetenbuch, (Leipzig: A. Deichert, 1922), 509, 515-516. For a defense of the MT see Wilhelm Rudolph, Haggai-Sacharja 1-8—Sacharja 9-14— Maleachi, KAT (Gütersloh: Verlaghaus Gerd Mohn, 1976), pp. 202-3. Cf. Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV, pp. 105-6.

669 D. A. Carson, “Matthew,” in The EBC, ed. Frank E. Gaebelein (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1984), 8:561-62.

670 Ibid., 8:564.

671 Baldwin cites the need for the work of the potter in Temple worship (Lev. 6:28) and suggests that Jeremiah must have been close to the potter’s shop as he preached his “potter’s sermon” (18:6) and bought an earthenware bottle near the Temple (19:1); Baldwin, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi, 185.

672 Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 165. For arguments that Israel here in fact means Samaria and that it is the Samaritan-Jewish rupture that is in view, see M. Delcor, “Hinweise auf das Samaritanische Schisma im Alten Testament,” ZAW 74 (1962): 281-91, esp. 285-91; K. Elliger, Die Propheten Naham, Habakuk, Zephanja, Haggai, Sacharja, Maleachi, ATD (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1982), 164.

673 A. Caquot, “Breves Remarques sur L’Allegorie des Pasteurs en Zacharie 11,” 51.

674 Walter C. Kaiser, Jr. The Uses of the Old Testament in the New (Chicago: Moody, 1985), 1-14.

675 For an excellent discussion of the whole matter of the “double fulfillment” in Matthew of the passages in Zechariah and Jeremiah, see Robert H. Gundry, The Use of the Old Testament in St. Matthew’s Gospel, NovTSup 18 (Leiden: Brill, 1967), 122-27.

676 Carson, “Matthew,” in EBC, 8:528, 560-66.

677 H. Cazelles, TDOT, 1:137-40, s.v. lyw+a$.

678 For the latter, see Mitchell, A Commentary on Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 315, and for a list of other candidates see Otzen, Studien über Deuterosacharja, 149, esp. nn. 13-14.

679 Chary, Agge-Zacharie, Malachie, 193.

680 K. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC 7:680.

681 GKC, 116p.

682 Victor P. Hamilton, TWOT 2:731-32, s.v dq^P*.

683 The form here is hb*X*n], the niph. ptc. of bx^n`, “to take one’s stand” (BDB, 662). The meaning, therefore, is “one who stands firm” or the like. Lacocque translates “celle qui est ferme sur ses pattes” (“the one stable on its feet”), which makes excellent sense; Lacocque, Zacharie IX-XIV, 179. Others emend in some way or other. Horst, e.g., reads hb*u@r+h* (“was hungrig ist”), from bu@r` “be hungry” (BDB, 944); Friedrich Horst, Die Zwlf kleinen Propheten. Nahum bis Maleachi, HAT 14 (Tübngen: J. C. B. Mohr, 1964), 252. Nowack takes it to be hl*j=N~h^ (“kranke?”, “sick”); W. Nowack, Die kleinen Propheten, HAT (Gttingen: Vandenhoeck und Ruprecht, 1903), 405. Such proposals lack any kind of significant support in the ancient witnesses. Cf. Jansma, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the Ancient Versions of Zechariah IX-XVI, 107-8.

684 S. Feigin, “Some Notes on Zechariah 11:4-17,” JBL 44 (1925): 203-13, cited by Lacocque, Zacharie IX-XIV, 180.

685 Lamarche takes the poem as a tristich in line with the BHS alignment; Lamarche, Zacharie IX-XIV, 71. Hanson’s analysis of the piece, one he calls a “woe oracle” for obvious reasons, appears to reflect a four-line construction, which is like my own analysis (P. Hanson, The Dawn of Apocalyptic, 339).

686 For comment on this Wortspiel, see Saeb, Sacharja 9-14, 249. He sees it as an element binding v. 17 to the rest of the pericope. Cf. also Meyer, “An Allegory Concerning the Monarchy: Zech. 11:4-17; 13:7-9,” 233.

687 Because lyl!a$ occurs in the singular only here and in Isa. 10:10, H. D. Preuss questions it in both places, proposing that it be read yl!yw]a$ in Zech. 11:17 as in 11:15; Preuss, TDOT, 1:285, s.v. lyl!a^. This not only destroys the word-play, but more to the point it has little support from the versions (Tg. Neb. and Syr. being the exceptions). See text note on v. 17.

688 It is because of the blinding of the shepherd’s eye that van Hoonacker (and other scholars) identify him with Zedekiah, Judah’s last king (2 Kings 25:7); (A. van Hoonacker, Les Douze Petits Prophetes, 679).

689 The Hebrew here—hh#k=t! hh{K*— is a particularly emphatic construction, the infinitive absolute. It leaves no question that the shepherd will become completely sightless. Cf. K. Barker, “Zechariah,” in EBC, 7:680.

Related Topics: Theology Proper (God), Prophecy/Revelation