Zechariah 11 | The Rejected Shepherd

Zechariah 11 | The Rejected Shepherd

1Open your doors, Lebanon,
so that fire may devour your cedars!
2Wail, you juniper, for the cedar has fallen;
the stately trees are ruined!
Wail, oaks of Bashan;
the dense forest has been cut down!
3Listen to the wail of the shepherds;
their rich pastures are destroyed!
Listen to the roar of the lions;
the lush thicket of the Jordan is ruined!

  • God now changes His tone here and rather than speaking of the blessing and care to come for his people, he addresses them with a stern warning of conviction
  • The rest of chapter 11 is Zechariah ‘playing out’ the rejection of Jesus when he first came

4This is what the Lord my God says: “Shepherd the flock marked for slaughter. 5Their buyers slaughter them and go unpunished. Those who sell them say, ‘Praise the Lord, I am rich!’ Their own shepherds do not spare them.

  • The flock of the people had been ‘marked for slaughter’ by their faulty shepherds. They were a people being used and exploited by their leaders who continually led them astray for their own benefit.
  • The money changes and people selling animals in the temple were exploiting the people when they came to worship, part of the reason why Jesus drove them out of the temple.
  • Jesus came and acted as a shepherd for his people for three years, giving them sound teaching in opposition to the corrupt leaders.

6For I will no longer have pity on the people of the land,” declares the Lord. “I will give everyone into the hands of their neighbours and their king. They will devastate the land, and I will not rescue anyone from their hands.”

  • Beforehand, God expressed pity towards his people who were harassed and helpless at the hands of their corrupt leaders. But now he proclaims that he will have no pity, as the people were also responsible for themselves and rejected the earlier prophets.
  • The people will also reject Jesus when he comes and God will show no pity to them when this happens. They will be given to their neighbours and their king (the Romans and Ceasar) who will devastate the land.
  • The destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple was a direct consequence of the people rejecting Jesus.

7So I shepherded the flock marked for slaughter, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Then I took two staffs and called one Favor and the other Union, and I shepherded the flock.

  • Zechariah plays out Jesus shepherding the flock, particularly the oppressed of the flock. Jesus spent a lot of his time with the oppressed, afflicted and marginalized.
  • The two staffs Favor and Union represent God’s commitment and covenant of favor towards his people, and the unity God desired in his people.

8In one month I got rid of the three shepherds. The flock detested me, and I grew weary of them 9and said, “I will not be your shepherd. Let the dying die, and the perishing perish. Let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.”

  • ‘Three shepherds’ – this is likely speaking of the elders, the chief priests and teachers of the law who were the ‘corrupt leaders’ of Israel and continually sought to kill Jesus
  • Mark 8:31 “He then began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days rise again.”
  • ‘The flock detested me’ – indicative of the crowd rejecting Jesus and ultimately shouting ‘crucify him!’
  • Because of the people’s rejection of Jesus, God rejected them and gave them over to the surrounding powers (again).

10Then I took my staff called Favor and broke it, revoking the covenant I had made with all the nations. 11It was revoked on that day, and so the oppressed of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord.

  • ‘Revoking the covenant I had made with all nations’ – this is most likely speaking of God removing his hand of protection over his people and now allowing all nations to do as they wish with his people.
  • To this day there has been constant conflict in Palestine and oppression against the Jews showing an absence of any kind of protection and favor.
  • Whilst Zechariah played this out before the Israelites, the ultimate fulfillment of this was when Jesus died. The curtain in the temple was torn in two signifying the end of the old covenant, and the beginning of a new one.

12I told them, “If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.” So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. 13And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—the handsome price at which they valued me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them to the potter at the house of the Lord.

  • ‘Thirty pieces of silver’ – one cannot mistake the same amount at which Jesus was ‘sold’ by Judas to the leaders of Israel. What is even more amazing here is that the people choose to pay and even choose the amount, thereby reducing the odds that they would give the same amount.
  • ‘Throw it the potter’ – after the death of Jesus, Judas attempted to give the money back to the leaders, but they refused, so he threw it at their feet. They then decide to buy a potters field with the money (Matthew 27:5-10)
  • ‘Handsome price at which they valued me’ – how sad and tragic that the darling of heaven, the saviour of the world and God’s only son would be valued at only thirty pieces of silver.

14Then I broke my second staff called Union, breaking the family bond between Judah and Israel.

  • God’s hand of peace and unity over his people would be removed and they would separate and descend into enemies of each other. The Roman destruction of Jerusalem would put an end to their culture and history records inward dissension and hostility as a result of this

15Then the Lord said to me, “Take again the equipment of a foolish shepherd. 16For I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy, but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hooves.

  • God will raise up a foolish shepherd who will oppress the people and not care for them, although he will have the appearance of a shepherd. This could be indicative of the Romans or of other future powers and empires which have an ‘anti-christ’ nature about them.

17“Woe to the worthless shepherd,
who deserts the flock!
May the sword strike his arm and his right eye!
May his arm be completely withered,
his right eye totally blinded!”

  • God will ultimately judge this shepherd prior to establishing His eternal kingdom where He will be the one, true and wholly accepted shepherd.


Zechariah plays the role of the messiah who will come to shepherd his people, but who will be rejected by them. Because God’s people will reject the messiah, God will hand them over to other nations and raise up a worthless shepherd to oppress the people.

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