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Zechariah 11:4-9

Context

11:4 The Lord my God says this: “Shepherd the flock set aside for slaughter. 11:5 Those who buy them 1  slaughter them and are not held guilty; those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the Lord, for I am rich.’ Their own shepherds have no compassion for them. 11:6 Indeed, I will no longer have compassion on the people of the land,” says the Lord, “but instead I will turn every last person over to his neighbor and his king. They will devastate the land, and I will not deliver it from them.”

11:7 So I 2  began to shepherd the flock destined for slaughter, the most afflicted 3  of all the flock. Then I took two staffs, 4  calling one “Pleasantness” 5  and the other “Binders,” 6  and I tended the flock. 11:8 Next I eradicated the three shepherds in one month, 7  for I ran out of patience with them and, indeed, they detested me as well. 11:9 I then said, “I will not shepherd you. What is to die, let it die, and what is to be eradicated, let it be eradicated. As for those who survive, let them eat each other’s flesh!”

Zechariah 11:16

Context
11:16 Indeed, I am about to raise up a shepherd in the land who will not take heed to the sheep headed to slaughter, will not seek the scattered, and will not heal the injured. 8  Moreover, he will not nourish the one that is healthy but instead will eat the meat of the fat sheep 9  and tear off their hooves.

1 sn The expression those who buy them appears to be a reference to the foreign nations to whom Israel’s own kings “sold” their subjects. Far from being good shepherds, then, they were evil and profiteering. The whole section (vv. 4-14) refers to the past when the Lord, the Good Shepherd, had in vain tried to lead his people to salvation and life.

2 sn The first person pronoun refers to Zechariah himself who, however, is a “stand-in” for the Lord as the actions of vv. 8-14 make clear. The prophet, like others before him, probably performed actions dramatizing the account of God’s past dealings with Israel and Judah (cf. Hos 1-3; Isa 20:2-4; Jer 19:1-15; 27:2-11; Ezek 4:1-3).

3 tc For the MT reading לָכֵן עֲנִיֵּי (lakhenaniyyey, “therefore the [most] afflicted of”) the LXX presupposes לִכְנַעֲנֵיּי (“to the merchants of”). The line would then read “So I began to shepherd the flock destined for slaughter for the sheep merchants” (cf. NAB). This helps to explain the difficult לָכֵן (lakhen) here but otherwise has no attestation or justification, so the MT is followed by most modern English versions.

4 sn The two staffs represent the two kingdoms, Israel and Judah. For other examples of staffs representing tribes or nations see Num 17:1-11; Ezek 37:15-23.

5 tn The Hebrew term נֹעַם (noam) is frequently translated “Favor” (so NAB, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT); cf. KJV “Beauty”; CEV “Mercy.”

sn The name of the first staff, pleasantness, refers to the rest and peace of the covenant between the Lord and his people (cf. v. 10).

6 tn The Hebrew term חֹבְלִים (khovlim) is often translated “Union” (so NASB, NIV, NLT); cf. KJV, ASV “Bands”; NAB “Bonds”; NRSV, TEV, CEV “Unity”).

sn The name of the second staff, Binders, refers to the relationship between Israel and Judah (cf. v. 14).

7 sn Zechariah is only dramatizing what God had done historically (see the note on the word “cedars” in 11:1). The “one month” probably means just any short period of time in which three kings ruled in succession. Likely candidates are Elah, Zimri, Tibni (1 Kgs 16:8-20); Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem (2 Kgs 15:8-16); or Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, Zedekiah (2 Kgs 24:125:7).

8 tn Heb “the broken” (so KJV, NASB; NRSV “the maimed”).

9 tn Heb “the fat [ones].” Cf. ASV “the fat sheep”; NIV “the choice sheep.”



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