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Chapter 11 verses 4-17, which is a story of two shepherds, is one of the most difficult passages in the Old Testament to understand. From the New Living Translation, the passage reads as follows:
4 This is what the LORD my God says: "Go and care for a flock that is intended for slaughter. 5 The buyers will slaughter their sheep without remorse. The sellers will say, 'Praise the LORD, I am now rich!' Even the shepherds have no compassion for them. 6 And likewise, I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the land," says the LORD. "I will let them fall into each other's clutches, as well as into the clutches of their king. They will turn the land into a wilderness, and I will not protect them." 7 So I cared for the flock intended for slaughter - the flock that was oppressed. Then I took two shepherd's staffs and named one Favor and the other Union. 8 I got rid of their three evil shepherds in a single month. But I became impatient with these sheep - this nation - and they hated me, too. 9 So I told them, "I won't be your shepherd any longer. If you die, you die. If you are killed, you are killed. And those who remain will devour each other!" 10 Then I took my staff called Favor and snapped it in two, showing that I had revoked the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11 That was the end of my covenant with them. Those who bought and sold sheep were watching me, and they knew that the LORD was speaking to them through my actions. 12 And I said to them, "If you like, give me my wages, whatever I am worth; but only if you want to." So they counted out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said to me, "Throw it to the potters" - this magnificent sum at which they valued me! So I took the thirty coins and threw them to the potters in the Temple of the LORD. 14 Then I broke my other staff, Union, to show that the bond of unity between Judah and Israel was broken.
15 Then the LORD said to me, "Go again and play the part of a worthless shepherd. 16 This will illustrate how I will give this nation a shepherd who will not care for the sheep that are threatened by death, nor look after the young, nor heal the injured, nor feed the healthy. Instead, this shepherd will eat the meat of the fattest sheep and tear off their hooves. 17 Doom is certain for this worthless shepherd who abandons the flock! The sword will cut his arm and pierce his right eye! His arm will become useless, and his right eye completely blind!"
The commentary Obadiah through Malachi begins by commenting on the ambiguous nature of the passage. This vague language makes it very difficult to interpret; thus the details remain elusive. The author feels that this passage goes in accordance with the earlier situation described in Zechariah 10:3. In both passages it is made clear that the leaders (shepherds) of Israel have made the Lord angry. Zechariah is describing the social disorder and the peoples' dishonesty toward each other that has overwhelmed the community before it will be restored by God.
This commentary is certain that the doomed flock is in fact Israel, but is unsure whom the sheep merchants represent. Their guess is that they may be the workers in the temple who have hired Zechariah. The shepherd is understood as symbolizing a ruling, most likely a prophetic one. Zechariah is telling his audience that Israel is in total disarray and the leaders aren't doing anything to help, in fact some are making the situation worse. God is permitting the corruption by sitting on His hands. While doing so, he stresses the need for repentance so the corrupt community may be restored. The prophet becomes a leader to try and help Israel, but ends his leadership in disgust. Zechariah decides he will let what is to happen to the people happen to them, because they would not listen when he tried to help. He has given up because he feels the community has become so corrupt that nothing can help the people now.
He asks for his pay and is given the price awarded to slave owners when their slave had been killed. He throws it into the treasury as God has instructed him to do so. The author feels that this symbolizes that corruption has even spread into the temple, the center of religious life in Israel. This act also shows Zechariah's audience how easily and to what extent leaders, even religious ones, become corrupt. The prophet then breaks the two staves symbolizing the annulment of God's covenant with Israel and any unity that may have taken place between the northern and southern kingdoms of Israel. The breaking of the staves also lets the people know that they cannot just sit there and wait for God to make things right. Th
Terminology mentioned in this term paper
Names referenced in this report
Zechariah, Eric M. Meyers, Herod, King, Robert B., Jr, Simon bar-Kochba, John Knox Press, Carol L., Meyer,
Organizations mentioned in this report
Locations included in this essay
Israel, Jerusalem, Illinois, Kentucky, Zondervan Publishing House, York,
Keywords referenced in this essay
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