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CHAPTER 13

Zec 13:1-9. Cleansing of the Jews from Sin; Abolition of Idolatry; the Shepherd Smitten; the People of the Land Cut Off, except a Third Part Refined by Trials.

1. Connected with the close of the twelfth chapter. The mourning penitents are here comforted.

fountain opened—It has been long opened, but then first it shall be so "to the house of David," &c. (representing all Israel) after their long and weary wanderings. Like Hagar in the wilderness they remain ignorant of the refreshment near them, until God "opens their eyes" (Ge 21:19) [Moore]. It is not the fountain, but their eyes that need to be opened. It shall be a "fountain" ever flowing; not a laver needing constantly to be replenished with water, such as stood between the tabernacle and altar (Ex 30:18).

for sin … uncleanness—that is, judicial guilt and moral impurity. Thus justification and sanctification are implied in this verse as both flowing from the blood of Christ, not from ceremonial sacrifices (1Co 1:30; Heb 9:13, 14; 1Jo 1:7; compare Eze 36:25). Sin in Hebrew is literally a missing the mark or way.

2. Consequences of pardon; not indolence, but the extirpation of sin.

names of … idols—Their very names were not to be mentioned; thus the Jews, instead of Mephibaal, said Mephibosheth (Bosheth meaning a contemptible thing) (Ex 23:13; De 12:3; Ps 16:4).

out of the land—Judea's two great sins, idolatry and false prophecy, have long since ceased. But these are types of all sin (for example, covetousness, Eph 5:5, a besetting sin of the Jews now). Idolatry, combined with the "spirit" of "Satan," is again to be incarnated in "the man of sin," who is to arise in Judea (2Th 2:3-12), and is to be "consumed with the Spirit of the Lord's mouth." Compare as to Antichrist's papal precursor, "seducing spirits … doctrines of devils," &c., 1Ti 4:1-3; 2Pe 2:1.

the unclean spiritHebrew, spirit of uncleanness (compare Re 16:13); opposed to "the Spirit of holiness" (Ro 1:4), "spirit of error" (1Jo 4:6). One assuming to be divinely inspired, but in league with Satan.

3. The form of phraseology here is drawn from De 13:6-10; 18:20. The substantial truth expressed is that false prophecy shall be utterly abolished. If it were possible for it again to start up, the very parents of the false prophet would not let parental affection interfere, but would be the first to thrust him through. Love to Christ must be paramount to the tenderest of natural ties (Mt 10:37). Much as the godly love their children, they love God and His honor more.

4. prophets … ashamed—of the false prophecies which they have uttered in times past, and which the event has confuted.

rough garment—sackcloth. The badge of a prophet (2Ki 1:8; Isa 20:2), to mark their frugality alike in food and attire (Mt 3:4); also, to be consonant to the mournful warnings which they delivered. It is not the dress that is here condemned, but the purpose for which it was worn, namely, to conceal wolves under sheep's clothing [Calvin]. The monkish hair-shirt of Popery, worn to inspire the multitude with the impression of superior sanctity, shall be then cast aside.

5, 6. The detection of one of the false prophets dramatically represented. He is seized by some zealous vindicator of the law, and in fear cries out, "I am no prophet."

man—that is, one.

taught me to keep cattle—As "keeping cattle" is not the same as to be "an husbandman," translate rather, "Has used (or 'appropriated') me as a servant," namely, in husbandry [Maurer]. However, husbandry and keeping cattle might be regarded as jointly the occupation of the person questioned: then Am 7:14, "herdman," will accord with English Version. A Hebrew kindred word means "cattle." Both occupations, the respondent replies, are inconsistent with my being a "prophet."

6. wounds in thine hand—The interrogator still suspects him: "If so, if you have never pretended to be a prophet, whence come those wounds?" The Hebrew is literally, "between thine hands." The hands were naturally held up to ward off the blows, and so were "thrust through" (Zec 13:3) "between" the bones of the hand. Stoning was the usual punishment; "thrusting through" was also a fit retribution on one who tried to "thrust Israel away" from the Lord (De 13:10); and perfects the type of Messiah, condemned as a false prophet, and pierced with "wounds between His hands." Thus the transition to the direct prophecy of Him (Zec 13:7) is natural, which it would not be if He were not indirectly and in type alluded to.

wounded in … house of my friends—an implied admission that he had pretended to prophecy, and that his friends had wounded him for it in zeal for God (Zec 13:3). The Holy Spirit in Zechariah alludes indirectly to Messiah, the Antitype, wounded by those whom He came to befriend, who ought to have been His "friends," who were His kinsmen (compare Zec 13:3, as to the false prophet's friends, with Mr 3:21, "His friends," Margin, "kinsmen"; Joh 7:5; "His own," Joh 1:11; the Jews, "of whom as concerning the flesh He came," Ro 9:5), but who wounded Him by the agency of the Romans (Zec 12:10).

7. Expounded by Christ as referring to Himself (Mt 26:31, 32). Thus it is a resumption of the prophecy of His betrayal (Zec 11:4, 10, 13, 14), and the subsequent punishment of the Jews. It explains the mystery why He, who came to be a blessing, was cut off while bestowing the blessing. God regards sin in such a fearful light that He spared not His own co-equal Son in the one Godhead, when that Son bore the sinner's guilt.

Awake—Compare a similar address to the sword of justice personified (Jer 46:6, 7). For "smite" (imperative), Mt 26:31 has "I will smite." The act of the sword, it is thus implied, is God's act. So the prophecy in Isa 6:9, "Hear ye," is imperative; the fulfilment as declared by Jesus is future (Mt 13:14), "ye shall hear."

sword—the symbol of judicial power, the highest exercise of which is to take away the life of the condemned (Ps 17:13; Ro 13:4). Not merely a show, or expression, of justice (as Socinians think) is distinctly implied here, but an actual execution of it on Messiah the shepherd, the substitute for the sheep, by God as judge. Yet God in this shows His love as gloriously as His justice. For God calls Messiah "My shepherd," that is, provided (Re 13:8) for sinners by My love to them, and ever the object of My love, though judicially smitten (Isa 53:4) for their sins (Isa 42:1; 59:16).

man that is my fellow—literally, "the man of my union." The Hebrew for "man" is "a mighty man," one peculiarly man in his noblest ideal. "My fellow," that is, "my associate." "My equal" ([De Wette]; a remarkable admission from a Rationalist). "My nearest kinsman" [Hengstenberg], (Joh 10:30; 14:10, 11; Php 2:6).

sheep shall be scattered—The scattering of Christ's disciples on His apprehension was the partial fulfilment (Mt 26:31), a pledge of the dispersion of the Jewish nation (once the Lord's sheep, Ps 100:3) consequent on their crucifixion of Him. The Jews, though "scattered," are still the Lord's "sheep," awaiting their being "gathered" by Him (Isa 40:9, 11).

I will turn … hand upon … little ones—that is, I will interpose in favor of (compare the phrase in a good sense, Isa 1:25) "the little ones," namely, the humble followers of Christ from the Jewish Church, despised by the world: "the poor of the flock" (Zec 11:7, 11); comforted after His crucifixion at the resurrection (Joh 20:17-20); saved again by a special interposition from the destruction of Jerusalem, having retired to Pella when Cestius Gallus so unaccountably withdrew from Jerusalem. Ever since there has been a Jewish "remnant" of "the little ones … according to the election of grace." The hand of Jehovah was laid in wrath on the Shepherd that His hand might be turned in grace upon the little ones.

8, 9. Two-thirds of the Jewish nation were to perish in the Roman wars, and a third to survive. Probably from the context (Zec 14:2-9), which has never yet been fulfilled, the destruction of the two-thirds (literally, "the proportion of two," or "portion of two") and the saving of the remnant, the one-third, are still future, and to be fulfilled under Antichrist.

9. through … fire—of trial (Ps 66:10; Am 4:11; 1Co 3:15; 1Pe 1:6, 7). It hence appears that the Jews' conversion is not to precede, but to follow, their external deliverance by the special interposition of Jehovah; which latter shall be the main cause of their conversion, combined with a preparatory inward shedding abroad in their hearts of the Holy Spirit (Zec 12:10-14); and here, "they shall call on My name," in their trouble, which brings Jehovah to their help (Ps 50:15).

my people—(Jer 30:18-22; Eze 11:19, 20; Ho 2:23).

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