Zechariah 11

 

פְּתַח לְבָנוֹן דְּלָתֶיךָ וְתֹאכַל אֵשׁ בַּאֲרָזֶיךָ׃   11:1

Zech. 11:1   Open your doors, Lebanon,

                               that fire may feed on your cedars!

הֵילֵל בְּרֹושׁ כִּי־נָפַל אֶרֶז אֲשֶׁר אַדִּרִים שֻׁדָּדוּ הֵילִילוּ אַלֹּונֵי בָשָׁן כִּי יָרַד יַעַר (הַבָּצוּר) [הַבָּצִיר]׃   11:2

Zech. 11:2   Wail, cypress, that the cedar falls,

                               that the majestic ones are ruined.

                       Howl, oaks of Bashan,

                               that the forest vintage comes down.

The root of the word in the parentheses is a verb, translated as restrain, fortify, and enclose, among other possible meanings, but it should be a noun.  Substitute a yad for the vav as in the brackets and the word becomes a noun meaning vintage.

קוֹל יִלְלַת הָרֹעִים כִּי שֻׁדְּדָה אַדַּרְתָּם קוֹל שַׁאֲגַת כְּפִירִים כִּי שֻׁדַּד גְּאוֹן הַיַּרְדֵּן׃   11:3

Zech. 11:3   A sound! The howling of shepherds

                               that their mantle is destroyed!

                      A sound! The roar of young lions,

                               for the pride of the Jordan is ruined!

These first three poetic verses are assumed to be an imaginative metaphor for the nations that will be destroyed.  Verse 11:1 is thought by scholars to be directed at the second Temple, because it was constructed mostly of Lebanon cedars.  In this verse 11:3, the shepherds are thought to be the kings of the doomed nations.  The last two lines are thought to be an allusion to the men of the nations.  They are compared to lions who are losing the plush thicket that grew along the shores of the Jordan.

כֹּה אָמַר יְהוָה אֱלֹהָי רְעֵה אֶת־צֹאן הַהֲרֵגָה׃   11:4

Zech. 11:4   Thus says the Lord, My God: “Feed the flock of slaughter,

אֲשֶׁר קֹנֵיהֶן יַהֲרְגֻן וְלֹא יֶאְשָׁמוּ וּמֹכְרֵיהֶן יֹאמַר בָּרוּךְ יְהוָה וַאעְשִׁר וְרֹעֵיהֶם לֹא יַחְמוֹל עֲלֵיהֶן׃   11:5

Zech. 11:5   that their buyers may slay them and not hold themselves guilty, and each of their sellers could say, ‘Blessed is the Lord that I am rich.’  And their shepherds would have no pity for them.”

כִּי לֹא אֶחְמוֹל עוֹד עַל־יֹשְׁבֵי הָאָרֶץ נְאֻם־יְהוָה וְהִנֵּה אָנֹכִי מַמְצִיא אֶת־הָאָדָם אִישׁ בְּיַד־רֵעֵהוּ   11:6      וּבְיַד מַלְכּוֹ וְכִתְּתוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְלֹא אַצִּיל מִיָּדָם׃

Zech. 11:6   “Certainly I will no longer have pity for the inhabitants of the land,” declares the Lord, “and behold, I am presenting humankind each into the hand of his neighbor and into the hand of his king, and they shall crush the earth fine, and I will not deliver from their hand.”

וָאֶרְעֶה אֶת־צֹאן הַהֲרֵגָה לָכֵן עֲנִיֵּי הַצֹּאן וָאֶקַּח־לִי שְׁנֵי מַקְלוֹת לְאַחַד קָרָאתִי נֹעַם וּלְאַחַד קָרָאתִי   11:7   חֹבְלִים וָאֶרְעֶה אֶת־הַצֹּאן׃

Zech. 11:7   “So I will feed the flock of slaughter, then the wretched of the flock; and I will take two staves for myself; to one I give the name Kindness, and to the other I give the name Bindings, and I will feed the flock.”

וָאַכְחִד אֶת־שְׁלֹשֶׁת הָרֹעִים בְּיֶרַח אֶחָד וַתִּקְצַר נַפְשִׁי בָּהֶם וְגַם־נַפְשָׁם בָּחֲלָה בִי׃   11:8

Zech. 11:8   “Then I will eliminate three of the shepherds in one month, when My soul becomes too ‘impatient’ with them and their soul also feels loathing toward Me.”

No one has any idea who these three shepherds are.  The first Hebrew word in the verse, which I translate as “Then I will eliminate,” is universally translated as “And I eliminated.”  This “error” makes many guesses by the scholars incorrect.  I wouldn’t even try to hazard a guess.

וָאֹמַר לֹא אֶרְעֶה אֶתְכֶם הַמֵּתָה תָמוּת וְהַנִּכְחֶדֶת תִּכָּחֵד וְהַנִּשְׁאָרוֹת תֹּאכַלְנָה אִשָּׁה אֶת־בְּשַׂר   11:9         רְעוּתָהּ׃

Zech. 11:9   “And I will say, I will not feed you. The dying, let die, and the desolate, let be eliminated, and the remainder, let them eat, each woman, the flesh of her neighbor.”

וָאֶקַּח אֶת־מַקְלִי אֶת־נֹעַם וָאֶגְדַּע אֹתוֹ לְהָפֵיר אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אֶת־כָּל־הָעַמִּים׃   11:10

Zech. 11:10   “Then I will take my staff, Kindness, and cut it, breaking My covenant that I had made with all the peoples.”

וַתֻּפַר בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיֵּדְעוּ כֵן עֲנִיֵּי הַצֹּאן הַשֹּׁמְרִים אֹתִי כִּי דְבַר־יְהוָה הוּא׃   11:11

Zech. 11:11   “When it is broken in that day, then the wretched of the flock heeding Me will know a truth, that it is a thing of the Lord.”

וָאֹמַר אֲלֵיהֶם אִם־טוֹב בְּעֵינֵיכֶם הָבוּ שְׂכָרִי וְאִם־לֹא חֲדָלוּ וַיִּשְׁקְלוּ אֶת־שְׂכָרִי שְׁלֹשִׁים כָּסֶף׃   11:12

Zech. 11:12   And I could say to them, “If good in your eyes, provide my wage, and if not, desist.”  Then they weighed out my wage of thirty pieces of silver.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי הַשְׁלִיכֵהוּ אֶל־הַיּוֹצֵר אֶדֶר הַיְקָר אֲשֶׁר יָקַרְתִּי מֵעֲלֵיהֶם וָאֶקְחָה שְׁלֹשִׁים הַכֶּסֶף   11:13 וָאַשְׁלִיךְ אֹתוֹ בֵּית יְהוָה אֶל־הַיּוֹצֵר׃

Zech. 11:13   And the Lord said to me, “Cast it to the potter, the glorious value at which I am esteemed by them.”  And I took the thirty pieces of silver and cast it to the potter of the house of the Lord.

וָאֶגְדַּע אֶת־מַקְלִי הַשֵּׁנִי אֵת הַחֹבְלִים לְהָפֵר אֶת־הָאַחֲוָה בֵּין יְהוּדָה וּבֵין יִשְׂרָאֵל׃   11:14

Zech. 11:14   “Then I will cut my second staff, Bindings, breaking the fraternity between Judah and Israel.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלָי עוֹד קַח־לְךָ כְּלִי רֹעֶה אֱוִלִי׃   11:15

Zech. 11:15   And the Lord said to me, “Take yet the implements of a foolish shepherd for yourself.”

כִּי הִנֵּה־אָנֹכִי מֵקִים רֹעֶה בָּאָרֶץ הַנִּכְחָדוֹת לֹא־יִפְקֹד הַנַּעַר לֹא־יְבַקֵּשׁ וְהַנִּשְׁבֶּרֶת לֹא יְרַפֵּא   11:16       הַנִּצָּבָה לֹא יְכַלְכֵּל וּבְשַׂר הַבְּרִיאָה יֹאכַל וּפַרְסֵיהֶן יְפָרֵק׃

Zech. 11:16   “For behold, I will be raising up a shepherd in the land; he will not care for those cut off, he will not seek the young one, and what is broken he will not heal; he will not sustain who stands still; he will consume the fat, and he will break off their hooves.”

הוֹי רֹעִי הָאֱלִיל עֹזְבִי הַצֹּאן חֶרֶב עַל־זְרוֹעוֹ וְעַל־עֵין יְמִינוֹ זְרֹעוֹ יָבוֹשׁ תִּיבָשׁ וְעֵין יְמִינוֹ כָּהֹה   11:17         

תִכְהֶה׃

Zech. 11:17   Woe, the worthless shepherd forsaking the flock!

                                 A sword shall be against his arm and upon his right eye.

                         His arm shall be totally dried up,

                                 and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

Much of this chapter is incomprehensible, and speculation abounds about the meaning of various verses.  Some of the guessing is based on when the scholars consider this chapter to have been written.  The range of guesses extends from the period of the early second Temple (by an aging Zechariah) to the era of the Macabees (by an unknown author).  The posturing is made more preposterous when one realizes that the tenses of many verbs in this chapter are incorrectly assigned by translators.  As it turns out (according to me) many of the verses in this chapter employ the imperfect tense, and are in the form of predictions, not past actions as depicted in other translations.

 

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