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Zechariah 13

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The Refinement of Judah

13:1 “In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty 1  of David and the people of Jerusalem 2  to cleanse them from sin and impurity. 3  13:2 And also on that day,” says the Lord who rules over all, “I will remove 4  the names of the idols from the land and they will never again be remembered. Moreover, I will remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. 13:3 Then, if anyone prophesies in spite of this, his father and mother to whom he was born will say to him, ‘You cannot live, for you lie in the name of the Lord.’ Then his father and mother to whom he was born will run him through with a sword when he prophesies. 5 

13:4 “Therefore, on that day each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies and will no longer wear the hairy garment 6  of a prophet to deceive the people. 7  13:5 Instead he will say, ‘I am no prophet – indeed, I am a farmer, for a man has made me his indentured servant since my youth.’ 8  13:6 Then someone will ask him, ‘What are these wounds on your chest?’ 9  and he will answer, ‘Some that I received in the house of my friends.’

13:7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,

against the man who is my associate,”

says the Lord who rules over all.

Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered; 10 

I will turn my hand against the insignificant ones.

13:8 It will happen in all the land, says the Lord,

that two-thirds of the people 11  in it will be cut off and die,

but one-third will be left in it. 12 

13:9 Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire;

I will refine them like silver is refined

and will test them like gold is tested.

They will call on my name and I will answer;

I will say, ‘These are my people,’

and they will say, ‘The Lord is my God.’” 13 

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1 tn Heb “house” (so NIV, NRSV), referring to dynastic descendants.

2 map For location see Map5 B1; Map6 F3; Map7 E2; Map8 F2; Map10 B3; JP1 F4; JP2 F4; JP3 F4; JP4 F4.

3 tn Heb “for sin and for impurity.” The purpose implied here has been stated explicitly in the translation for clarity.

sn This reference to the fountain opened up…to cleanse them from sin and impurity is anticipatory of the cleansing from sin that lies at the heart of the NT gospel message (Rom 10:9-10; Titus 3:5). “In that day” throughout the passage (vv. 1, 2, 4) locates this cleansing in the eschatological (church) age (John 19:37).

4 tn Heb “cut off” (so NRSV); NAB “destroy”; NIV “banish.”

5 sn Death (in this case being run…through with a sword) was the penalty required in the OT for prophesying falsely (Deut 13:6-11; 18:20-22).

6 tn The “hairy garment of a prophet” (אַדֶּרֶת שֵׁעָר, ’adderet shear) was the rough clothing of Elijah (1 Kgs 19:13), Elisha (1 Kgs 19:19; 2 Kgs 2:14), and even John the Baptist (Matt 3:4). Yet, אַדֶּרֶת alone suggests something of beauty and honor (Josh 7:21). The prophet’s attire may have been simple the image it conveyed was one of great dignity.

7 tn The words “the people” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation from context (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT).

8 tn Or perhaps “for the land has been my possession since my youth” (so NRSV; similar NAB).

9 tn Heb “wounds between your hands.” Cf. NIV “wounds on your body”; KJV makes this more specific: “wounds in thine hands.”

sn These wounds on your chest. Pagan prophets were often self-lacerated (Lev 19:28; Deut 14:1; 1 Kgs 18:28) for reasons not entirely clear, so this false prophet betrays himself as such by these graphic and ineradicable marks.

10 sn Despite the NT use of this text to speak of the scattering of the disciples following Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27), the immediate context of Zechariah suggests that unfaithful shepherds (kings) will be punished by the Lord precisely so their flocks (disobedient Israel) can be scattered (cf. Zech 11:6, 8, 9, 16). It is likely that Jesus drew on this passage merely to make the point that whenever shepherds are incapacitated, sheep will scatter. Thus he was not identifying himself with the shepherd in this text (the shepherd in the Zechariah text is a character who is portrayed negatively).

11 tn The words “of the people” are supplied in the translation for clarity (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT).

12 sn The fractions mentioned here call to mind the affliction of God’s people described by Ezekiel, though Ezekiel referred to his own times whereas Zechariah is looking forward to a future eschatological age. Ezekiel spoke of cutting his hair at God’s command (Ezek 5:1-4) and then of burning a third of it, striking a third with a sword, and scattering the rest. From this last third a few hairs would survive to become the nucleus of a new Israel. It is this “third” Zechariah speaks of (v. 9), the remnant who will be purified and reclaimed as God’s covenant people.

13 sn The expression I will say ‘It is my people,’ and they will say ‘the Lord is my God’ is reminiscent of the restoration of Israel predicted by Hosea, who said that those who had been rejected as God’s people would be reclaimed and once more become his sons and daughters (Hos 2:23).



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