Zechariah 11 Explained Verses 12-17

Zechariah 11 Explained Verses 12-17

Zechariah 11 Explained Verses 12-17 | We’ll be considering Zechariah 11 today. Now, last time we studied up to verse 11 of this chapter and so today we’ll continue in verse 12 and study to the end of the chapter.

So, what we saw in those first 11 verses was the Lord putting Zechariah into another vision setting in which he is a shepherd who basically symbolizes God’s dealing with his sheep – the people of Israel. And so that vision continues to the end of this chapter.

So, let’s read Zechariah 11.

{Read Zec. 11}

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 12

Now, verse 12 seems to have Zechariah speaking to that flock that was doomed to be slaughtered that we heard about in the first 11 verses of this chapter. And so, the prophet tells those sheep to pay him for his services to them as a shepherd.

12 And I said unto them,

If {ye think good/it is good in your sight/it seems good to you/you think it best}, {give/pay} me my {price/wages/pay};

{and/but} if not, {forbear/never mind!/forget it/keep it}.

There’s an interesting level of disinterest from the shepherd in this verse. Notice how he expresses a “who cares” kind of mentality. If the sheep want to pay him for his services, that’s fine. But if they don’t then, “never mind” or “forget it” or “keep your money.” It’s almost as if he really doesn’t care. He’s leaving the decision to these sheep that he has stopped shepherding.

And the reason that this seems so strange is because as we know throughout Scripture the laborer – the worker – is worthy of his wages. This shepherd worked – for at least a month in this vision. And therefore, he ought to be paid.

But the shepherd is going to allow the sheep to do what they think is right. Normally the shepherd would impose his will on the sheep. But in this case, the shepherd is allowing the sheep to choose what to do.

And in some ways this is how Jesus Christ was in his first coming. He wasn’t forcing anyone to accept him. In a way, he put the kind of question that we see here to the people of his day. He said, “Whosoever will may come.” It’s their choice.

And it still is today. It’s still the decision of each individual to receive Jesus Christ or to reject him. And if you want to reject him, he will allow you to do so. But there are consequences for both obedience and for disobedience.

Well, sure enough – the flock seems to make the right decision and it does indeed end up paying Zechariah for his shepherding of them.

So they {weighed for my price/weighed out as my wages/weighed out my payment/paid me} thirty pieces of silver.

So, my question as I arrive at this last part of verse 12 is – is that a lot of money? Thirty pieces of silver – is that an insult or is that a decent wage for a month’s work?

Well, Exodus 21:32 speaks of this amount of money being the amount to be paid to the owner of a slave from the owner of the ox that gores that slave to death. The slave’s owner loses the life of his slave and so he should be recompensed 30 pieces of silver.

And that’s actually all we have in terms of biblical data regarding this unit of money. It’s basically the cost of the life of a slave.

And we remember that Jesus Christ came to be a slave to all in his first coming. He came not to be served but rather to serve and to give his life a ransom for many. This is how the Son of Man came the first time – as a slave – taking on himself the form of a slave and being made in the likeness of man.

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 13

Well, next in verse 13 the Lord gives Zechariah a command concerning that money that he was paid by the flock. He needs to throw that money to the potter in the Temple of the Lord.

13 {And/Then} the LORD said unto me,

{Cast it unto/Throw it to} the potter:

So, the Lord wants Zechariah to throw the thirty pieces of silver to this previously-unknown potter. Again, this is one more reason to think of this as a vision – that all of a sudden there’s this potter that is mentioned without any sort of proper introduction.

But then, very interestingly, the Lord says that this price of 30 pieces of silver is the price that this flock – whom we know to represent Israel – valued – not Zechariah – but the Lord himself. Zechariah is supposed to throw…

{a goodly price/that magnificent price/that exorbitant sum/the handsome price} {that I was prised at of them/at which I was valued by them/at which they valued me/at which they priced me}.

And there’s a little sarcasm employed by the Lord here. Thirty pieces of silver – the value of a slave’s life – is not at all close to a fitting payment for the Lord’s shepherding of his people Israel. And so, when the Lord identifies this price as “goodly” or “magnificent” or “exorbitant” he is in a way mocking the small estimation that his people had for his being their shepherd.

And so, the value that Israel placed on the Lord was paltry. And yet, the Lord’s ministry to Israel was and is priceless. Think about Jesus’ ministry to Israel as he came to them the first time. Think of how he wanted to gather them under his wing like a hen would her chicks. But they would have none of it. And they eventually with the Romans crucified their Good Shepherd.

And it’s this passage that the Gospel-writer Matthew points to as he speaks of one particular event associated with Christ’s crucifixion.

As we know, Jesus was betrayed by Judas to the corrupt religious leaders of Israel. But afterward, when Judas saw what happened to Jesus he felt remorse according to Matthew 27. So, Judas went to the chief priests to whom he betrayed Jesus and he tried to return his 30 pieces of silver that they gave him for handing Jesus over to them. Well, they basically told him that that’s his problem, so he went and killed himself. Those priests then took the money and realized that they couldn’t put it into the temple treasury because it was “blood money” and so, they bought a potter’s field with those thirty silver pieces. And that’s when Matthew references this passage here in Zechariah.

So, think about it – Jesus’s ministry – ultimately even his death for the sins of his people – was so lowly valued by Israel that Zechariah speaks of it in terms of 30 pieces of silver. And the Lord here in Zechariah speaks of this price as the price that he was valued by Israel – that he himselfthe Lord himself was valued by Israel.

Who was valued by Israel at the price of 30 pieces of silver?  The Lord (YAHWEH) Jesus Christ.

And so, back to Zechariah – the prophet now obeys in this vision the Lord’s command concerning those silver pieces at the end of verse 13.

{And/So} I took the thirty pieces of silver, and {cast/threw} them to the potter {in/at} the {house/temple} of the LORD.

And it’s interesting to me that even though it’s Zechariah who does this casting of the silver pieces to the potter in this vision – it’s Judas who ends up doing this in real life.

Well, at this point, Zechariah has quit shepherding the flock in his vision. He has broken his first staff which represents the covenant between God and Israel made at Sinai under Moses. And then we just saw Zechariah getting his pay for shepherding this flock and throwing it to the potter in the temple.

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 14

But you may recall that Zechariah started off with two staffs. And so next, we see Zechariah breaking his second in verse 14.

14 Then I {cut asunder/cut in pieces/cut/broke} {mine other/my second/the second} staff, {even Bands/Union/“Binders”},

So, what does the breaking of this staff represent?

The breaking of the first staff represented God’s breaking of his covenant with Israel.

And so, here’s what the breaking of this second staff means.

{that I might break/to break/in order to annul/breaking} the {brotherhood/covenant of brotherhood} between Judah and Israel.

So, the breaking of this second staff represents God breaking the brotherhood between the two kingdoms of Israel – the northern and southern kingdoms.

Now, it could be that God is speaking of what happened in the time following Solomon where the two kingdoms split apart. I would think that’s unlikely because most everything else in these chapters has been describing things future to Zechariah.

So, this could also be referring to something that’s going to happen in times to come – maybe during the Tribulation where there will again be a northern and southern kingdom in Israel and God will break them apart again. I don’t know for sure – but I would tend to think that this is going to happen in the future.

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 15

So moving on, with Zechariah being without any shepherding instruments in his vision – since he destroyed his two staffs – the Lord now in verse 15 commands him to get some more shepherding equipment.

15 ¶ {And/Again/Then} the LORD said unto me,

Take {unto thee yet/again for yourself/up once more/again} the {instruments/equipment} of a foolish shepherd.

But why would God want Zechariah to take up the equipment that would characterize a foolish shepherd?

It’s because – just like everything else in this chapter – there’s some meaning behind the actions that Zechariah takes in this vision. And as we’ve seen, the meaning is usually a veiled reference to something that would happen in the future.

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 16

So, in the case of Zechariah arming himself with the equipment of a foolish shepherd – God is foretelling a time when he will place a foolish leader over his people in the future in verse 16.

16 {For, lo,/For behold/Indeed} I {will/am going to/am about to} raise up a shepherd {in/over/against} the land,

And the Lord is now going to describe four ways in which this foolish shepherd will negatively not care for his sheep. Here’s what he is not going to do for his flock which any shepherd who is not a total fool would indeed do positively.

The first thing he won’t do…

{which shall/who will} not {visit those that be cut off,/care for the perishing/take heed to the sheep headed to slaughter/care for the lost}


{neither shall seek/seek/will not seek} the {young one/scattered/young},


{nor heal/heal/and will not heal/or heal} {that that is broken/the broken/the injured},

And fourth…

{nor feed/or sustain/Moreover, he will not nourish} {that that standeth still:/the one standing/the one that is healthy}

So, that’s how this future leader of God’s people won’t care for those whom he is charged with leading. He won’t care for those in need of care and the ones who are doing alright won’t receive any help from him either so that they get to the point where they are in need of care. And so the cycle continues as the ones who were fine become sickly for lack of shepherding. The ones who are sickly just die without any help from the one called to be a shepherd over them.

Now, this is just the opposite of what you would expect from a shepherd of literal sheep and it’s just the opposite of what you’d expect from the leader of people. These individuals – the shepherd and the leader – they look out for their own. They care for those who are hurting. They look to sustain and strengthen their flocks. But not this guy whom Zechariah is representing in this vision – he’s going to be a foolish shepherd.

But then positively this leader is going to do two thing that also display his foolishness. We had four negative actions this guy will take. And now we have two positive ways in which this foolish shepherd will demonstrate his foolishness.

Here’s the first of those things…

but {he shall eat/will devour/instead will eat} the {flesh/meat} of the {fat,/fat sheep/choice sheep}

And second…

{and tear/tearing} their {claws in pieces/hoofs}.

So, this shepherd of God’s people will only seek his benefit at the expense of his sheep. He will eat them as it were and be cruel to them.

Now, if you’re wondering who this might be outside of this vision – in real life – this is likely a reference to Anti-Christ – the one who will come in Christ’s name and pretend to be the Messiah of God’s people the Jews. But he’ll be false and will show himself to be a foolish shepherd when he starts destroying the people over whom he’s charged with caring.

The sheep in this vision didn’t care for the shepherding of the real shepherd who was good to them. And so, they get a shepherd who is foolish and evil. And that’s just how God will deal with his people the Jews. They rejected his shepherd for them, Jesus Christ. And so, he will send them an evil wicked shepherd – the Anti-Christ, whom they will receive to their own harm.

Zechariah 11 Explained Verse 17

Well, even though God is the one taking credit for raising up this kind of worthless foolish shepherd, yet, he denounces this man in verse 17 and pronounces woe upon him.

17 Woe to the {idol/worthless} shepherd {that leaveth/who leaves/who abandons/who deserts} the flock!

{the/A/May a/May the} sword {shall be upon/will be on/fall on/strike} his arm,

and {upon his/on his/his} right eye:

And here are the effects of a sword on the arm and eye of this man spelled out for us…

{his/May his} arm {shall be clean dried up,/will be totally withered/wither completely away/be completely withered}

{and his/his} right eye {shall be utterly darkened/will be blind/become completely blind/totally blind}.

And these are poetic ways of saying that God will deal decisively with this man someday. The Lord will destroy the Anti-Christ and throw him into the Lake of Fire forever.

And so that’s the end of this section that’s covered chapters 9 to 11 in the book of Zechariah.

The next time that we return to considering Zechariah we’ll plan to start on the last major section of the book which consists of chapters 12-14.

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