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Zechariah 11 Summary Handout

First burden oracle: Judgment in preparation for Messiah Jesus

Summary of chapter 11

Zechariah now turns from good news in Zechariah 10 of military victory, regathering, and walking in the name of the LORD to bad news in Zechariah 11 of the destruction of the land and people of Syria Palestine, (Zechariah 11.1-3), then of the good shepherd who attempted to care for the flock but was rejected and paid a slaves wage of thirty pieces of silver (Zechariah 11.4-14), and finally a worthless shepherd, the Antichrist, who will devour the flock and then be judged by God (Zechariah 11.15-17). Chapter 11 is acted out by Zechariah, the present shepherd, and he represents in the context the one true shepherd, Messiah Jesus, whom Israel will reject, and then the worthless shepherd, the Antichrist.

Zechariah 11 outline

  1. Zechariah 11.1-3. The destruction of Syria Palestine, both the land and people sometime future to Zechariah.
  2. Zechariah 11.4-14. The selection of the good shepherd who attempted to care for the flock but was rejected and paid a slaves’ wage of thirty pieces of silver.
  3. Zechariah 11.15-17. The worthless shepherd of the future who will devour God’s flock arrives on the scene. God will judge him at the end of the future Tribulation.

Zechariah Summary explanation of each section

  1. Zechariah 11.1-3. The destruction of Syria Palestine, both the land and people sometime in the future.
    1. Zechariah 11.1-2. Fire brings destruction. This is a prophecy of a future destruction in this region. The names are regions to the north and east of Israel. Lebanon is to the north of Israel and west of Syria. It has two mountain ranges that run north and south. The valley between is the Beqaa Valley. Mount Hermon is in the eastern range to the south. Lebanon was famous for great cedar trees (Isaiah 14.8). The cypress is probably a juniper tree. Here the smaller trees wail because if the large cedars are destroyed, so will the smaller trees.  Bashan is a very fertile area east of the Jordan River. Golan was part of Bashan (now called Golan Heights). It was known for its oak trees (Isaiah 2.13).
    2. Zechariah 11.3. The shepherds wail because of the destruction. Lions could be literal lions since they roamed the area (2 Kings 17.25) or could be referring to men who see their homelands ruined.
  2. Zechariah 11.4-14. The selection of the good shepherd who attempted to care for the flock but was rejected and paid a slaves’ wage of thirty pieces of silver. Zechariah was both a shepherd for the people at that time and he also portrayed the future coming good shepherd who will be rejected.
    1. Zechariah 11.4. The LORD tells Zechariah, the prophet shepherd, to pasture (רָעָה ra`ah, qal imperative to pasture, ten, lead, shepherd) the flock, Israel. Zechariah is portraying the future shepherd whom the people will later reject (Jesus the Messiah).
    2. Zechariah 11.5. Those buying and selling Israelites hypocritically bless the LORD for this profit-making business. The Jewish shepherds—prophets and leaders do not support or protect the people. The shepherds in this context are the prophets and leaders of Israel.
    3. Zechariah 11.6. The LORD will no longer spare or have compassion on his people. He will discipline them for their rejection of him and his Messiah. In fact, the Jews will turn on each other. This happened in the revolt against Rome in AD 70. The kings are rulers of other nations, probably Roman, but may also be earlier kings during the Maccabean and Herod times (so Unger, Zechariah p 193). Israel faced bloody destruction because they rejected his word through the prophets.
    4. Zechariah 11.7. Zechariah took up his task. In doing this he took two staffs, normal equipment for a shepherd. One a club to beat off wild animals, the other a staff to rescue the sheep.  He named one Favor (נֹעַם no`am, kindness) and the other Union (חֹבְלִים chobelim, cord, band, union). These indicate what he would like to see happen to Israel—to enjoy God’s favor and to be restored to national unity.
    5. Zechariah 11.8. The prophet next cut off three shepherds. Their identity is unknown. Scholars have suggested at least forty choices. Some say historic rulers at the prophet’s time. Others suggest the future priests, teachers, and civil leaders in Israel leading up to Jesus ministry (so Henderson and followed by Unger). Regardless, there is judgment on certain people or groups.
    6. Zechariah 11.9. Because Israel was so hardened and rejected the LORD’S provision as indicated by their rejection of the shepherd, the shepherd left them to the consequences of their unbelief and disobedience—death, annihilation, cannibalism. The destruction and suffering of this magnitude did not occur until the revolt of the Jews in AD 70. Josephus chronicles this in Josephus, Wars, VI, 201–13. See also Deuteronomy 28-30 and especially Deuteronomy 28.54-57; Jeremiah 19.6-9; Lamentations 4.10. This happened before Zechariah’s time in 587 BC, but now was a prediction of what will happen centuries later in AD 70, and apparently during the future tribulation period.
    7. Zechariah 11.10. Zechariah, in frustration at their rejection, broke the staff “favor.” The covenant was a covenant that Zechariah made to shepherd the people. Some commentators say this was a covenant from God to restrain the Gentile nations from doing great harm to Israel. Either way it is not referring to the Abrahamic or Davidic covenants. God promised through Zechariah to restore Israel (Zechariah 8.11-15; 10.6-12), so breaking this Covenant does not refer to those unconditional covenants.
    8. Zechariah 11.11. The flock realized that the LORD was speaking through Zechariah.
    9. Zechariah 11.12-13. Zechariah is the good shepherd for Israel (Zechariah 11.4,7,9,11,). He is illustrating the true good shepherd of Israel (Messiah Jesus, John 15.11,14; 1 Peter 5.4; Hebrews 13.20) who will be rejected by the nation. He asked for his wages. They paid him 30 pieces of silver. The law specified 30 pieces of silver was the value of a slave who was gored by an ox (Exodus 21.32). This was the price Judas was paid to betray Jesus (Matt. 26.15; 27.9). Then, Zechariah threw the money to the potter. Potters were associated with the temple; they made jars to be used in the temple. Matthew 27.9-10 quotes this and refers it to Jeremiah. Matthew probably used Zechariah 11.12-13 and ascribed it to Jeremiah, the major prophet in the Hebrew scroll (also see Hobart Freeman, An Introduction to the Old Testament Prophets, p. 342, for the various views).
    10. Zechariah 11.14. He cut up the staff “union” signifying the fracture of the hoped for national unity. Ezekiel, during the Babylonian exile, had prophesied that the nation would be rejoined in the future. Ezekiel 37 prophesies that the nation of Israel will be restored to life (Ezekiel 37.1-14, the dry bones) and reunited into one nation (Ezekiel 37.15-23) under God’s king (Ezekiel 37.24-28).
  3. Zechariah 11.15-17. The worthless shepherd of the future who will devour God’s flock arrives on the scene. God will judge him at the end of the future Tribulation.
    1. Zechariah 11.15. The prophet now assumes another persona, that of a foolish (אֱוִיל ‘eyil foolish, often morally foolish, quarrelsome, useless, many times in Proverbs) shepherd. This shepherd of Zechariah 11.15-17 is an individual who will in the future become the dictator over Israel and the world during the Tribulation period that immediately precedes Messiah’s return. He is the Antichrist.
    2. Zechariah 11.16. The LORD will raise up this shepherd who will not do what a good shepherd does: care for, seek, heal, sustain the sheep. Instead he will use the sheep for his own ruthless selfish ends. In the context this shepherd refers to one in the future who will attempt to take the place of the Messiah shepherd.  See Ezekiel 34 where Ezekiel gives a message against the bad shepherds of Israel who lived during his ministry.
    3. Zechariah 11.17. Judgment on this future worthless shepherd, the Antichrist (1 John 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 2.3-4). Also see Matt 24:5, 24; 1 John 4:3; 2 John 7. The arm refers to power; the eye refers to intelligence. The LORD will destroy him. If may include many dictatorial rulers over Israel, but especially the final ruler during the tribulation, the one who opposes God’s ruler, Yahweh, Jesus Messiah (Daniel 7:25–7; 11:36–9; 2 Thessalonians 2:1–12; and Revelation 13:1–10).

So what? Application

  1. Zechariah is the shepherd over the people at that time; he also portrays the coming Messiah Shepherd; and he portrays the worthless, evil shepherd of the tribulation period. This tells us that God has his plan, that he warns his people, that he wants to bless, and that he will discipline if necessary.
  2. God’s plan is to show grace-favor to Israel and to reunite them as one people.
  3. This chapter shows that God offers blessing to his people, but when blessing is rejected, he judges. See Deuteronomy 30.
  4. The historical conditions for God’s people Israel will get worse before God’s Messiah returns to rule and bless.
  5. We also see that God’s prophets were often rejected when they proclaimed God’s word. Do we now reject God’s word when it seems disagreeable to us or when we are too interested in other things?