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324). The tending of the sheep, the destruction of the three shepherds, the payment of the thirty pieces of silver as wages,— it is impossible that any of these should have taken place outwardly; especially as the literal meaning is sometimes seen behind the symbol, for example in ver. 11, where the miserable sheep are spoken of, who waited upon the great shepherd and knew that it was the word of the Lord, also in ver. 12, where the prophet treats with the flock itself, respecting his wages, both of which would be inexplicable, if the prophet had been tending a real flock of sheep. Moreover, the supposition, that the symbolical action was a purely inward one, is favoured by the analogy of the visions in the first part, which differ from the present only so far, that in the latter the prophet appears upon the scene as one of the leading actors, whereas in the former he seldom takes any part, except when he receives information as to the meaning of the symbolical representations (compare, however, chap. iii. 5). The department of visions is generally the most predominant in such prophets as appeared subsequent to the intercourse of the nation with the Chaldeans, especially Ezekiel and Daniel, and in the case of both of these there is every thing to indicate the internal character of the events narrated.

So far as the meaning of this symbolical action is concerned, we must reject at the outset every interpretation, in which, whilst the authenticity of the second part is admitted, reference is supposed to be made to some event that occurred before the captivity. They are most of them the inventions of Jews, who were actuated by hostility to Christians, and are all of them so absurd as to be utterly undeserving of any minute investigation.1 The argument adduced in support of them, namely the use of the preterites, loses all its force, when once it is shown that the prophet is here describing a symbolical action. For this had already taken place, whilst the thing typified was still future. If, then, it is clearly established, that reference is made to the time of the second temple, the choice must be between two interpretations. According to the one of these, the whole of the dealings of God with the covenant-nation under the second temple are alluded to here; according to the other, the symbolical representation sets

1 Compare the passages quoted by Abicht, in his readable treatise de baculis jucunditatis et corrumpentium, Thesaurus novus 1 p. 1094 sqq.

forth one particular effort, which was to be made in the time of the second temple, to save the nation from destruction, namely the pastoral work of Christ, and the rejection of the people which followed the rejection of the Messiah. The first view is held by Abarbanel, whose words we must quote, if only for the purpose of showing, that the power of truth was superior to doctrinal prejudices in his case, much more than in that of other Jewish expositors, and allowed him to grasp at least the fundamental idea of the prophecy. The same opinion is also adopted by Calvin. According to his interpretation, the Lord discharged the duties of a shepherd by means of all his faithful servants in the time of the second temple, but most perfectly of all by Christ.2 An elaborate defence of this view is to be found in Abicht p. 1092 sqq. On the other hand the opinion, that the prophecy relates exclusively to the office of shepherd to be filled by Christ, has predominated to such an extent, that nothing would be gained by mentioning the names of its supporters. If we examine the arguments adduced in support of the first opinion, it will be obvious at once that the reason assigned by Abicht has no force whatever. For how does it follow, from the fact that

1 He says, according to Abicht's version: Sensus prophetae is est. Postquam deus prophetae indicasset bona, quae erant futura super incolas secundi templi, si vías suas bonas redderent, secundum prophetias, quas jam interpretatus sum, pergit sermo ad prophetam, ipsi significando futura, si non bona redderent opera et se bonis illis dignos exhiberent, sed si e contrario reges et sacerdotes eorum una cum reliquo populo deterius viverent, quam patres eorum, quomodo non sufficiebat, ut operibus bonis Shechinam et revelationem non reducerent, sed quoque se reos redderent desolationum et captivitatis. Et huc tendit sapientium p. m. in principio capitis: Aperi Libanon portas tuas." (Compare the remarks on ver 1).

2 "Suscipit propheta in se personam omnium pastorum; quasi diceret: non esse cur obtendat populus inscitiam, vel culpam suam aliis titulis et coloribus fucari velit; quia deus semper obtulit se pastorem, et adhibuit etiam ministros, quorum manu regeret populum hunc. Non stetit igitur per deum, quin feliciter haberi potuerit hic populus."

3 His main argument is the following: "In antecentibus propheta habitatoribus templi secundi dei specialem providentiam et defensionem contra insultantes hostes, terrae fertilitatem c. 10. 1, defensionem et robur 3-7, multiplicationem et collectionem, 8 sqq. promisit, quae omnia ad templi secundi tempora respiciunt. Quoniam vero deus praevidit, quod in bono non perstituri, sed malis operibus contaminati, poenam merituri sint, nunc bonorum promissioni poenam adjungit, quae eos mansura sit, si a legis divinae tramite deflecterent.-His rationibus subnixus dico, nostra verba de modo Judaeos in templo secundo pascendi in genere loqui, quo deus modo bonos, modo malos concessit pastores, prout Judaeorum vita et opera comparata fuerunt."

the prophecy contained in chaps. ix. and x. embraces the whole period of the second temple, from the favours conferred upon the Jews in connexion with Alexander's triumphs to the coming of Christ, that the prophecy before us must be equally comprehensive? It is restricted rather to the principal object of the foregoing prediction, namely, the coming of Christ (see chap. ix. 9, 10), which it presents in another point of view, in order that its meaning may be fully understood, and not be so perverted by a one-sided and worldly interpretation as to become pernicious instead of salutary. Reference might also be made to Jer. xxiii. 4, where the Lord promises to give to the people good shepherds in the place of the bad ones it had before, and to Ezek. xxxiv., where the announcement that the Lord will undertake the office of shepherd, relates to the entire period extending from the return from Babylon to the coming of Christ. But even in these prophecies, which Zechariah evidently had in his mind, peculiar prominence is given to the mission of the Messiah, as the highest and most perfect manifestation of the faithfulness of the Lord as the shepherd of his people. In Ezek. xxxiv. 23, the Lord says, "I will set up one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them, even my servant David; he shall feed them, and shall be their shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and my servant, David, a prince among them." And in Jer. xxiii. 5, He says, "I will raise unto David a righteous branch, who will be a king, and will govern well, and execute judgment and justice in the earth." Now why should not Zechariah, with these prophecies before him, have given prominence to the highest and last manifestation of the fidelity of the Lord as a shepherd, and to that alone; especially when the subordinate manifestations of this fidelity, which were depicted by Jeremiah and Ezekiel at the same time, had already taken place to a great extent in the return of the people from captivity, and the raising up of those two excellent rulers, Zerubbabel and Joshua, whose praises Zechariah had already sounded in the first part of his book? It is not possible, therefore, to adduce even a plausible argument in favour of this view; on the other hand a decisive argument may be adduced against it. According to this explanation the office of shepherd undertaken by the Lord, and consequently the destruction of the three shepherds described in ver. 8, must have

been a continuous act, which lasted from the return from captivity till the Roman catastrophe, that is for several centuries. But it is stated in ver. 8, "I cut off the three shepherds in one month." We have here a distinct explanation on the part of the prophets, that his symbolical representation depicts one single manifestation of the faithfulness of the Lord as a shepherd, which is to be completed in a comparatively brief period of time. To this we may add, that the term applied to the covenantnation, "the flock of the slaughter," is very appropriate to the condition of the people at the time when Christ came, but not during the whole period of the second temple, and least of all to the prophet's own days. It is true that Calvin refers it to the last of these.1 But if we examine the description given in ver. 5, we shall quickly perceive that the state of the people depicted there is very different from their poor, no doubt, but yet peaceable condition on their return from captivity.-Lastly, the breaking of the staff called mercy, denoting the withdrawal of the protection, hitherto afforded by the Lord to his people against the heathen nations, and the breaking of the staff "of the bound ones," which represented the dissolution of the unity existing in the nation itself, are both of them apparently single acts with lasting consequences (compare ver. 11, "and it was broken in that day)." The Lord does not give up his nation to passing judgments, as in the previous history, to receive it back again when it has repented; but a peremptory decree of rejection is issued against them. And yet, if the announcement related to the whole of the dealings of the Lord with the covenant-nation during the period of the second temple, we should expect to find the former. If, then, the rejection is one single act, the conduct of the people which occasions it must be the last and greatest exhibition of its hardness of heart; and this was seen in the rejection of Christ. A comparison of ver. 4 and ver. 6 will also show that this is the case: "feed the flock of the slaughter, for I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the Lord." The feeding is represented here as the last attempt to rescue the unhappy nation, whose

1 Grex occisionis refertur ad prophetae aetatem ; mortuae oves, quas dominus eripuerat, multis molestiis adhuc expositae erant.”

utter destruction would immediately follow, if, as was actually the case, the attempt should be unsuccessful.

A difference of opinion has still to be mentioned with reference to the meaning of The flock of the slaughter may mean a flock, already being slaughtered, or one which is to be slaughtered at some future time. The Lord may call the covenant-nation by this name, either for the purpose of showing that he has undertaken the office of shepherd, on account of his compassion for the miserable condition, into which the people had fallen previous to his becoming their shepherd, or because of his pity for the nation, on account of the judgments which still impended over it. It is best to combine the two. The wretched condition of the nation at the time, governed as it was by evil rulers both native and foreign, was the effect of the just judgment of God. This condition would not only continue, but be heightened in future, if the nation did not sincerely repent; and it is to furnish it with the means of repentance, that the Lord himself undertakes the office of shepherd, and comes to save the lost one.-There can be no doubt that the Lord alludes to this passage, when he says to Peter in John xxi. 15, “Feed my lambs," and in vers. 16, 17, “Feed my sheep.” (τà ȧpvía, which answers to the Hebrew, may be explained on the supposition that the Saviour had also Is. xl. 11 in his mind, which he combines with the passage before us). When Jesus

is leaving the earth, he transfers to Peter, as his representative, the office which the Father has entrusted to him according to the words of this prophecy. "Jesus is the Lord of both lambs and sheep. He loves his flock, and commends it to one who loves him" (Bengel). But it is remarkable, that Jesus speaks of his sheep, whereas the passage on which his words are based mentions the flock of the slaughter, the whole nation which is devoted to destruction. The office of shepherd over this, however, the Lord had already relinquished. Hence he could not transfer it to Peter. He simply refers to the office of shepherd over the little flock, the elect of the old covenant-nation, "the poor of the flock, who wait upon me," as they are called in ver. 11,1

1 Bleek says (p. 287) "Hengstenberg, according to his usual disposition to regard the prophets of the Bible as soothsayers and diviners of the future,



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