Zechariah 11 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Zechariah 11)

Verse 1

[1] Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Open thy doors — That destruction of the Jewish church and nation, is here foretold in dark and figurative expressions, which our Lord, when the time was at hand, prophesied of very plainly.

Lebanon — Lebanon, a great mountain boundary between Judea and its neighbours on the north, is here commanded to open its gates, its fortifications raised to secure the passages, which lead into Judea.

That the fire — Fire kindled by the enemy in the houses and buildings in Judea, and in Lebanon itself.

The cedars — Palaces built with cedars.

Verse 2

[2] Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.

Fir-tree — Houses and towns built with firs.

The cedar — Much less shall ye escape.

Ye Oaks — Used in that country for building palaces, cities, towns, and fortresses.

The forest — Jerusalem, compared to a forest, in regard of the many and tall houses in it. In short, all are called to cry, for the miseries that will come upon all.

Come down — Is laid desolate.

Verse 3

[3] There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.

Of the shepherds — The enemy having driven away their flocks and herds.

Their glory — What was their honour.

Of Jordan — The great forests on the banks of Jordan, where the young lions were wont to range.

Verse 4

[4] Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;

My God — God the father speaks to Christ.

Of the slaughter — Appointed to the slaughter. The Jews, during four hundred and fifty years, were a flock of slaughter to the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and afterwards the Romans.

Verse 5

[5] Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

Whose possessors — Governors.

Not guilty — Think they do no ill.

That sell them — For slaves.

For l am rich — Profanely give God thanks, that they thrive by cruelty and oppression.

Verse 6

[6] For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

I will deliver — To rob, imprison, banish, or kill each other.

Of his king — The Roman Caesar, whom the Jews had chosen to be so.

The land — Their king and his armies shall destroy the land.

Verse 7

[7] And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

Bands — The beauty of grace and glory, the bands of love and peace.

Verse 9

[9] Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

Then — After that time of his patient feeding the flock, and cutting off the unfaithful shepherds.

Cut off — By the sword or famine.

The flesh — Either live to be besieged, 'till hunger makes the living eat the dead, or by seditions and bloody intestine quarrels, destroy each other.

Verse 10

[10] And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

Even beauty — Which was the beauty and glory of them, the covenant of God, with all the blessings of it.

That I might break — Declare it null. Christ calls it his covenant, for he was the mediator of it.

Verse 11

[11] And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

Broken — The covenant was disannulled.

That waited — Believed in him, and obeyed him.

Knew — Saw, and owned God in all this.

Verse 12

[12] And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

And I said — Upon parting, Christ seems after the manner of men, to mind them of his claims for them, and desire them to reckon with him.

If ye think good — He puts it to them, whether they thought he deserved ought at their hands? So they - The rulers of the Jews, the high priest, chief priests, and pharisees.

Weighed — Which was the manner of paying money in those days.

Thirty pieces — Which amounts to thirty-seven shillings and six-pence, the value of the life of a slave, Exodus 21:32. This was fulfilled when they paid Judas Iscariot so much to betray Christ.

Verse 13

[13] And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

The Lord — God the Father.

Cast it — As being so little, it would hardly purchase any thing but what was the cheapest among them.

A goodly price — God upbraids the shepherds of his people, who prized the great Shepherd no higher.

Cast them to the potter — Or rather, cast them into the house of the Lord for the potter; all which the Jewish rulers acted over.

Verse 14

[14] Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

Then — So soon as I saw what value they put upon me.

I cut asunder — Christ did it really, the prophet did it in the type.

Break — Declare it broken.

The brother-hood — That friendship which had been among them.

Judah — The two tribes, and the remnant of the ten tribes.

Verse 15

[15] And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

Take unto thee — O Zechariah, personate a shepherd quite different from him thou hast represented.

Verse 16

[16] For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

Who shall not visit — Who seeks not out those that are lost.

The young one — Which are aptest to perish through weakness.

Nor heal — But leaves it to die of its wounds.

That stand still — Not able to go forward.

Will eat — Feast on the fattest of the flock.

Tear their claws — Tear off their skin unto the very nails; in brief, a sluggish, negligent, covetous, riotous, oppressive, and cruel government, is shadowed out by a foolish shepherd.

Verse 17

[17] Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

The idol shepherd — To them that are but the images of shepherds.

That leaveth — Casts off the care of the flock.

The sword — Of the enemy, shall break his strength and be-fool his counsels.

Dried up — They that have gifts which qualify them to do good, if they do it not, they will be taken away. They that should have been workmen, but were slothful, and would do nothing, will justly have their arm dried up. And they that should have been watchmen, but were drowsy, will justly have their eye blinded.