New Leaders over a Regathered Remnant
23:1 The Lord says, 1 “The leaders of my people are sure to be judged. 2 They were supposed to watch over my people like shepherds watch over their sheep. But they are causing my people to be destroyed and scattered. 3
23:2 So the Lord God of Israel has this to say about the leaders who are ruling over his people: “You have caused my people 4 to be dispersed and driven into exile. You have not taken care of them. So I will punish you for the evil that you have done. 5 I, the Lord, affirm it! 6
1 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”
2 sn Heb This particle once again introduces a judgment speech. The indictment is found in v. 1 and the announcement of judgment in v. 2. This leads into an oracle of deliverance in vv. 3-4. See also the note on the word “judged” in 22:13.
3 tn Heb “Woe to the shepherds who are killing and scattering the sheep of my pasture.” See the study note on 22:13 for the significance of “Sure to be judged” (Heb “Woe”) See the study note for the significance of the metaphor introduced here.
sn Verses 1-4 of ch. 23 are an extended metaphor in which the rulers are compared to shepherds and the people are compared to sheep. This metaphor has already been met with in 10:21 and is found elsewhere in the context of the Lord’s covenant with David (cf. 2 Sam 7:7-8; Ps 78:70-72). The sheep are God’s people and he is the ultimate shepherd who is personally concerned about their care (cf. Pss 23:1; 80:2). He has set rulers over them as his under-shepherds and they are responsible to him for the care of his sheep (see 22:3-4). They have been lax shepherds, allowing the sheep to be scattered and destroyed. So he will punish them. As the true shepherd of Israel he will regather his scattered flock and place new shepherds (rulers) over them. These verses lead to a promise of an ideal ruler set over an Israel which has experienced a new and better Exodus (vv. 6-8). For a more complete development of this metaphor with similar messianic and eschatological implications see Ezek 34. The metaphor has been interpreted in the translation but some of the flavor left in the simile.
4 tn Heb “about the shepherds who are shepherding my people. ‘You have caused my sheep….’” For the metaphor see the study note on the previous verse.
5 tn Heb “Therefore, thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, concerning the shepherds who should be shepherding my people: You have scattered my sheep and driven them away and you have not taken care of them. Behold I will visit upon you the evil of your deeds.” “Therefore” announces the judgment which does not come until “Behold.” It is interrupted by the messenger formula and a further indictment. The original has been broken up to conform more to contemporary English style, the metaphors have been interpreted for clarity and the connections between the indictments and the judgments have been carried by “So.”
6 tn Heb “Oracle of the Lord.”