Zechariah 11 The Rejection of the King

1   Open your doors, O Lebanon, jerusalem-temple

that the fire may devour your cedars!  

2 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!  

3 Hark, the wail of the shepherds, 

for their glory is despoiled! 

Hark, the roar of the lions, 

for the jungle of the Jordan is laid waste! 

The first verse was quoted by the leading rabbis the time the armies of Rome came up against Jerusalem in 70 AD (See Also: Temple Omens).  Many were teaching that the Messiah would come and save them.  They found it extremely troubling that the heavy doors of the Temple would open of their own accord at night after being barred to stay closed.  These doors were made of cedars from Lebanon. Some warned that this meant that fire would soon destroy the Temple.

The Lord is not happy with these shepherds.  At the fall of the city their wail will be heard.  The young lions that lived down in the thick growth along the Jordan river stand as a rebuke to the shepherds who have not acted as shepherds but rather as ravaging lions.  As the Jordan floods, it lays waist all the hiding places for the lions.  So they are now exposed for what they are and they are not shepherds taking care of sheep, but rather lions in wait.  So the Roman armies showed them as false teachers, false prophets.  They had taught the people such utter nonsense that they now faced judgment for having rejected their own Messiah.

4   Thus said the LORD my God:  

“Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter.  

5 Those who buy them slay them and go unpunished; 

and those who sell them say,  ‘Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich’; 

and their own shepherds have no pity on them.  

6 For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of this land, says the LORD. 

Lo, I will cause men to fall each into the hand of his shepherd, 

and each into the hand of his king; and they shall crush the earth, 

and I will deliver none from their hand.” 

Just as He has condemned the shepherds of the past [Ps 23; Is 44:28; Jer 51:23; Ezek. 34].  They now stand condemned.  The same kind of false teachers are presented as merchants in the New Testament [Matt. 13:45; James 5:5; Rev 17:4; 18:15].

Remember the Good Shepherd is good to the sheep, right up till the day of slaughter. Then those that are destined for slaughter are separated out, counted and sold. All the shepherd cares for is his pay.  So it was.  The destruction of Jerusalem under the Roman General Titus was one of the ugliest sieges in history.  There was no escaping the city.

Josephus wrote that upwards of 1,000,000 Jews were killed in the destruction and capture of Jerusalem under General Titus of the Roman Empire.  Titus also took into captivity 95,000 Jews.  In the fulfillment of Deut 28:47-57 and Jer 19:9, God tells them they would eat their own offspring. This is recorded in written accounts regarding the siege of Jerusalem.

“And now, since his soldiers were already quite tired with killing men, and yet there appeared to be a vast multitude still remaining alive, Caesar gave orders that they should kill none but those that were in arms, and opposed them, but should take the rest alive.  But, together with those whom they had orders to slay, they slew the aged and the infirm; but for those that were in their flourishing age, and who might be useful to them, they drove them together into the temple, and shut them up within the walls of the court of the women; over which Caesar set one of his freedmen, as also Fronto, one of his own friends; which last was to determine every one’s fate, according to his merits.  So this Fronto slew all those that had been seditious and robbers, who were impeached one by another; but of the young men, he chose out the tallest and most beautiful, and reserved them for the triumph; and as for the rest of the multitude that were above seventeen years old, he put them into bonds, and sent them to the Egyptian mines.  Titus also sent a great number into the provinces, as a present to them, that they might be destroyed upon their theatres, by the sword and by the wild beasts; but those that were under seventeen years of age were sold for slaves.  Now during the days wherein Fronto was distinguishing these men, there perished, for want of food, eleven thousand; some of whom did not taste any food, through the hatred their guards bore to them; and others would not take in any when it was given them.  The multitude also was so very great, that they were in want even of corn for their sustenance.”           War book 6; chap 9; sec 2 by Josephus

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Zech. 11:7   So I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to be slain for those who trafficked in the sheep. And I took two staffs; one I named Grace, the other I named Union. And I tended the sheep.

In this passage the Lord talks about his two staffs, Grace and Union.  The staff of Grace, actually in the Hebrew is the word is favor, beauty, or pleasantness and represents His covenant with the Mosaic Temple Sacrificial Law.  The staff of Union represents the brotherhood between the 1st century church and Jewish community as they worshiped together in the synagogues.  [James 2:2]

8 In one month I destroyed the three shepherds. But I became impatient with them, and they also detested me.  

In the first century the Jewish community was governed by three different groups, the Sadducees, Pharisees, and Hellenizers.  These three ‘shepards’ were destroyed “in one month”.

A month is symbolically put for 30 days; being equal to 30 years in prophecy.  The most likely explanation is that the Messiah “destroyed” the sacrificial system representated by the three shepards or these three governing Jewish groups. This occurred at His being cut off, or executed, at 30 years old.

  • The Sadducees emphasized the observance of written Mosaic Law alone, and were the ones who ran The Temple.
  • The Pharisees, meaning literally the “Righteous Ones”, and ran the synagogues.  They were distinguished by their strict observance of the traditional oral as well as the written Mosaic Law.
  • The Hellenizers were of Jewish blood, practicing Mosaic ritual but had rejected the Jewish culture and had come to embraced Greek culture.  Some even went so far as to have their circumcisions reversed so that they could participate in the games.

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9 So 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.”  10 And I took my staff Grace, and I broke it, annulling the covenant which I had made with all the peoples.  11 So it was annulled on that day, and the traffickers in the sheep, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD.  

These ruling groups are the three shepherds of verse 8 who were destroyed for their rejection of Messiah [shepherd with the two staffs] and for their trafficking and selling [corruption of the Law] of the sheep [Jewish community].  He pulled out the staff of Grace (or rather favor, beauty, or pleasantness) and broke it; thereby, annulling the need for the rituals of Mosaic Temple Sacrificial Law.   With the destruction of The Temple in 70 AD these rituals were forever broken.

Then in the chronology, the Lord takes up the Staff of Union and breaks it.  Remember the staff of Union represented the brotherhood between the first century Church and the Jewish community.  Why would this have to be broken?  The obvious answer to that is the rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish leaders and thereby their flock of sheep left them at odds with the new believers.  From the beginning of the church, believers continued to go to the synagogues to hear the words of Moses and to say the prayers[Acts 2:42; 15:21].   While there was a time period when believers could visit in the synagogues, worshiping and sharing their faith with the Jews. The relationship between the two groups quickly became strained.  After Paul caused a riot in the temple [Acts 21], the believers were denied access to the temple and its sacrifices.  This is why the book of Hebrews was written.  Many did not understand how they could have a relationship with God absent from the ritual temple cult sacrifices.  Then as the Roman armies were approaching Jerusalem the last of the Christians left the city to its fatee; having understood the word of the Olivet Discourse to mean the destruction of Jerusalem.   By the time of the Bar Kokhba rebellion, the ties to the Jewish community were severed forever.

12 Then I said to them,  “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” And they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver.  

The Lord is asking the Jews for what is due Him, those who claim God as Lord, to recognize Him, to recognize their Messiah.   He was their true Shepherd, the only one worthy of their allegiance and veneration.   In asking for His wages, He was asking for what was due Him.  Judas was paid what the Temple priest thought was the worth of the Messiah and God laid on him to throw it back into the Temple, into the House of which the Lord had denounced as a den of robbers [Matt 21:12].

13 Then the LORD said to me,  “Cast it into the treasury” — the lordly price at which I was paid off by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and cast them into the treasury in the house of the LORD.  14 Then I broke my second staff Union, annulling the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. 

Your translation may say treasury or temple, however in the Hebrew it says “to throw the magnificent precious money into potter [to make a form], in the house of the LORD”.  Potter is a verb here not a noun [c.f. Mat 27:3-10].

15   Then the LORD said to me,  “Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd.  

16 For lo, I am 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 sound,

but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.  

17 Woe to my worthless shepherd, 

who deserts the flock! 

May the sword smite his arm and his right eye! 

Let his arm be wholly withered, 

his right eye utterly blinded!” 

The worthless shepherd in verse 15 is Rabbinic Judaism.  Rabbinic Judaism was founded by Rabbi Akiva ben Joseph during the Bar Kokhba rebellion or The Second Jewish revolt 132 – 135 A.D.  Akiva created the Rabbinic Judaism that we know today; a ritual faith without a temple cult sacrificial system.   It’s chief tenet is that Jesus of  Nazareth is not the promised Messiah of Israel.  This new religion was created to hold the Jewish community together after the destruction of the Temple, 70 AD.  Bar Kokhba named Simon ben Kosiba, surnamed Simon bar Kokhba, “son of the star”, was the leader of this last resistance against the Romans.

At the beginning of this revolt, about one third of Bar Kokhba’s forces were Christian Jews.  As the revolt progressed Akiva declared that Bar Kokhba was in fact the promised Jewish Messiah. This caused a conflict of conscience among the Jewish Christians.  They had no choice but to leave the false messiah.   About half of those that left joined the Romans in order to stop the false teaching that Bar Kokhba was Messiah.  The resulting loss to the Romans was blamed on the Christian Jews who had left.  Since then it is considered that those Jews who convert to Christianity are traitors and no longer Jews.

Nothing has changed. The three false shepherds have been replaced by a myriad of false teachers and teachings.  The same kind of corrupt teaching is spread by the white washed tombs [Matt 23:27].   And as Akiva did for the Jews, many pastors and teachers are deceiving themselves and their flocks by creating a Messiah and doctrines that tickles the ears and follows after fads and whims.  We need to get back to the scriptures and find the truths clearly stated; separating ourselves from Rabbinic Judaism as well as Babylonian Paganism.

Sola Scriptorium— The Scriptures are Supreme.

“The Scriptures speak of Me” John 5:39

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