a Bible passage

Click a verse to see commentary
Select a resource above


Open your doors, O Lebanon,

so that fire may devour your cedars!


Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,

for the glorious trees are ruined!

Wail, oaks of Bashan,

for the thick forest has been felled!


Listen, the wail of the shepherds,

for their glory is despoiled!

Listen, the roar of the lions,

for the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed!


Two Kinds of Shepherds

4 Thus said the L ord my God: Be a shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. 5Those who buy them kill them and go unpunished; and those who sell them say, “Blessed be the L ord, for I have become rich”; and their own shepherds have no pity on them. 6For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the earth, says the L ord. I will cause them, every one, to fall each into the hand of a neighbor, and each into the hand of the king; and they shall devastate the earth, and I will deliver no one from their hand.

7 So, on behalf of the sheep merchants, I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. I took two staffs; one I named Favor, the other I named Unity, and I tended the sheep. 8In one month I disposed of the three shepherds, for I had become impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die; what is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed; and let those that are left devour the flesh of one another!” 10I took my staff Favor and broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep merchants, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the L ord. 12I then said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver. 13Then the L ord said to me, “Throw it into the treasury”—this lordly price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the L ord. 14Then I broke my second staff Unity, annulling the family ties between Judah and Israel.

15 Then the L ord said to me: Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd. 16For I am now raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.


Oh, my worthless shepherd,

who deserts the flock!

May the sword strike his arm

and his right eye!

Let his arm be completely withered,

his right eye utterly blinded!


Hence he adds, Jehovah said to me, throw it to the potter. “This truly is my reward! Cast it to the potter, that he may get some bricks or coverings to repair the temple; if there are any parts of the temple dilapidated, let the potter get thereby some bricks, or let any humble artisan have such a price for himself.” But he afterwards speaks ironically when he says, the magnificence and the glory of the price at which he had been estimated! “This is, forsooth! the magnificence of my price, though I had endured many toils! they now deal with me as with some mean swineherd, though I was their Lord and Shepherd: since then they seek thus craftily to satisfy me, and reproachfully offer me a paltry reward, and as it were degrade my glory and spit in my face, Cast, cast it, he says, to the potter;” that is, let them repair the temple, in which they delight so much as if they were in heaven: for the temple is their idol; but God will be never nigh them while they act thus hypocritically with him. “Let them then repair the breaches of the temple and pay the price to the potter, for I will not suffer a price so unworthy of my majesty to be obtruded so disgracefully on me.”

We now then apprehend the meaning of the Prophet: and first we must bear in mind what I have stated, that here is described how irreclaimable had been the wickedness of the people: though rejected by God, when he had broken his rod, they yet esteemed as nothing the favors which they had experienced. How so? because they thought that they performed an abundant service to God, when they worshipped him by external frivolities; for ceremonies without a real sense of religion are frivolous puerilities in God’s presence. What then the Prophet now urges is, that the Jews wilfully buried God’s benefits, by which he had nevertheless so bound them to himself that they could not be released. And to the same purpose is what follows, Cast it to the potter: for he testifies that the price was of no value, nay, that he abominated such a reward as men paid hint when they dealt with him in such a reproachful manner; for as he says in Isaiah, it was a weariness to him —

“I am disgusted with your festal days; why do you daily tread the pavement of my temple?” (Isaiah 1:12,13;)

and again he says,

“He who slays an ox is the same as he who kills a man.”
(Isaiah 66:3.)

God in these places shows, as here by Zechariah, that these sacrifices which ungodly men and hypocrites offer to him, without a right feeling of religion, are the greatest abominations to him, — why? Because it is the highest indignity which the wicked call offer, which is as it were to spit in his face, when they compare him to a potter or a swineherd, and think nothing of the reward which he deserves, and that is, to consecrate and really to devote themselves wholly to him without any dissimulation. When therefore men trifle with God and think that he is delighted with frivolous puerilities, they compare him, as I have said, to a swineherd, or to some low or common workman; and this is an indignity which he cannot bear, and for which he manifests hero by his Prophet his high displeasure. 145145     These two verses are quoted in Matthew 27:9,10. On this subject see the Translator’s Preface prefixed to this Volume. Blayney needlessly labors to reconcile the wording of the two passages. The quotation is clearly, like many others, one of accommodation, or of likeness. The “price” here is evidently that for labor; but the “price” in Matthew is for blood. There is a similarity, and not identity, in the two cases: and the general meaning, and not the words are to be regarded. For “Prophesies,” as Marckius observes, are often quoted in the New Testament, not according to the expressions, [κατὰ το ῥητὸν], but according to the sense or meaning, [κατὰ τὴν διάνοιαν], accompanied with some illustration of the meaning derived from the event.” — Ed.

VIEWNAME is study