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Zechariah 11:14

14. Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

14. Et fregi virgam meam alteram, nempe collectionis, ad dissipandam fraternitatem in ter Iehudah et inter Israel.

 

There is here set before us the extreme vengeance of God in scattering his people, so that there would be no longer any union between the children of Abraham. We have seen that the Prophet took two staves or crooks to execute the office of a shepherd in ruling the people. The first staff he said was Beauty, because God had omitted nothing necessary to produce the best order of things. Now when this blessed mode of ruling was trodden under foot, then soon after followed the scattering of the people: and this is the reason why the Prophet says, that he broke the other rod, or his crook. We then see that this people by their ingratitude at length justly deserved to be left without any regular form of government, and also without any union.

As to the word חבלים, chebelim, we have before said that what the Rabbis teach us, that it means “destroyers,” does not comport with the passage. But why should Zechariah say here that the rod was broken, that there should be no more union or fraternity between the kingdom of Judah and the ten tribes? We have already said, that this word by changing the points may have the meaning which has been mentioned; for חבל, chebel, signifies a rope or binding. We must also bear in mind, that this is an instance of “last first” (ὕστερον πρότερον;) for he told us before that God, bidding adieu to the people, demanded his reward; this then ought to have been first mentioned: but this inversion of order is common in Hebrew. This verse then we are to read, as though it was placed before the last mission, by which God laid aside the office of a shepherd. 146146     There seems to be no necessity for this. The order is consistent as it is. The breaking of the first rod was the relinquishing of the ruling office; and the breaking of the second, which happened after the contemptuous price or reward had been offered, was the sending of an awful judgment — universal discord, instead of the union before preserved. The breaking of the brotherhood between Judah and Israel has been variously understood. Grotius and Newcome refer to past history, the separation of the ten tribes from that of Judah; but this cannot be understood here. Marckius, Henry, Scott, and Henderson agree in the main with Calvin, and consider that the interal discords are meant which prevailed among the Jews, who became united after their return from Babylon under one government, though many of them were descendants of the ten tribes. “When the staff of beauty,” says Henry, “is broken, the staff of bands will not hold long. An unchurched people will be soon an undone people.” — Ed.

I will come now to the passage in Matthew; for after having told us that the thirty pieces of silver were cast away by Judah, and that by them the Potter’s Field was bought, he adds, that this prediction of the Prophet was fulfilled. He does not indeed repeat the same words, but it is quite clear, that this passage was quoted,

“They gave,” he says, “the thirty silvering, the price of the valued, whom they of the children of Israel have valued.”
(Matthew 27:9.)

In substance then there is no doubt an agreement between the words of Matthew and those of the Prophet. But we must hold this principle, — that Christ was the true Jehovah from the beginning. As then the Son of God is the same in essence with the Father, and is with him the only true God, it is no wonder that what the Prophet figuratively expressed as having been done under the law by the ancient people, has been done to him literally in his own person: for as they had given to God thirty pieces of silver, a sordid price, as his just reward, so he complained that the labor he undertook in ruling them, was unjustly valued; and when Christ was sold for thirty pieces of silver, it was a visible specimen of this prophecy exhibited in his own person.

When Matthew says, that Christ was valued by the children of Israel, he charges the chosen people with impiety. The article ὁι, is to be here understood. The expression is indeed, ἀπὸ ὑιων Ισραὴλ; but the sentence is to be taken in this sense, — that he was valued at so low a price, not by barbarous nations, but by the very people who were of the children of Israel and of the seed of Abraham, as though he had said, “This wrong has been offered to God, not by strangers, but by a people whom he had chosen and adopted as his peculiar possession; and this wickedness is therefore less excusable.”

Then Matthew adds,

“They gave it for the Potter’s Field,
as the Lord had commanded me.” Matthew 27:7-10.

This part also well agrees with the prophecy. It is indeed certain that this money was not designedly given to buy a field, that the Jews might obey God; but we know that God executes his purposes by means of the wicked, though they neither think nor wish to do such a thing. But what does Zechariah say? Cast it, he says, to the potter; he does not say “To the field of the potter.” But we have explained for what purpose God commanded the thirty silvering to be cast to the potter; it was, that he might get bricks or tiles to repair the temple; and this was said in contempt, or by way of ridicule. Such also was the visible symbol of this as to the purchase of the field; for the potter, the seller of the field, knew not what he was doing; the Scribes and Pharisees thought nothing of fulfilling what had been predicted. But that it might be made evident that Christ was the true God who had from the beginning spoken by the Prophet, God, by setting the thing before their eyes, intended that there should be a visible fact or transaction, that he might as it were draw the attention of the Jews to what is here said. The Prophet proceeds, -


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