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Open your doors, O Lebanon,

so that fire may devour your cedars!


Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen,

for the glorious trees are ruined!

Wail, oaks of Bashan,

for the thick forest has been felled!


Listen, the wail of the shepherds,

for their glory is despoiled!

Listen, the roar of the lions,

for the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed!


Two Kinds of Shepherds

4 Thus said the L ord my God: Be a shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. 5Those who buy them kill them and go unpunished; and those who sell them say, “Blessed be the L ord, for I have become rich”; and their own shepherds have no pity on them. 6For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the earth, says the L ord. I will cause them, every one, to fall each into the hand of a neighbor, and each into the hand of the king; and they shall devastate the earth, and I will deliver no one from their hand.

7 So, on behalf of the sheep merchants, I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. I took two staffs; one I named Favor, the other I named Unity, and I tended the sheep. 8In one month I disposed of the three shepherds, for I had become impatient with them, and they also detested me. 9So I said, “I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die; what is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed; and let those that are left devour the flesh of one another!” 10I took my staff Favor and broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples. 11So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep merchants, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the L ord. 12I then said to them, “If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.” So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver. 13Then the L ord said to me, “Throw it into the treasury”—this lordly price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the L ord. 14Then I broke my second staff Unity, annulling the family ties between Judah and Israel.

15 Then the L ord said to me: Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd. 16For I am now raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering, or heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy, but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.


Oh, my worthless shepherd,

who deserts the flock!

May the sword strike his arm

and his right eye!

Let his arm be completely withered,

his right eye utterly blinded!


This Chapter contains severe threatenings, by which God designed in time to warn the Jews, that if there was any hope of repentance, they might be restored by fear to the right way, and that others, the wicked and the reprobate, might be rendered inexcusable, and also that the faithful might fortify themselves against the strong temptation to despond on seeing so dreadful a calamity awaiting that nation.

This prophecy does not indeed seem consistent with the preceding prophecies; for the Prophet has been hitherto not only encouraging the people to entertain hope, but has also declared that their condition would be so happy that nothing would be wanting to render them really blessed: but now he denounces ruin, and begins with reprobation; for he says, that God had been long the shepherd of that nation, but that now he renounced all care of them; for being wearied he would no longer bear with that perverse wickedness, which he had found in them all. These things seem to be inconsistent: but we may observe, that it was needful in the first place to set before the Jews the benefits of God, that they might with more alacrity proceed with the work of building the temple, and know that their labor would not be in vain; and now it was necessary to change the strain, lest hypocrites, vainly confiding in these promises, should become hardened, as it is commonly the case; and also, lest the faithful should not entertain due fear, and thus go heedlessly before God; for nothing is more ruinous than security, inasmuch as when a license is taken to sin, God’s judgment impends over us. We hence see how useful and reasonable was this warnings of the Prophet, as he made the Jews to understand, that God would not be propitious to his people without punishing their wickedness and obstinacy.

In order to render his prophecy impressive, Zechariah addresses Libanon; as though he was God’s herald, he bids it to open its gates, for the whole wood was now given up to the fire. Had he spoken without a figure, his denunciation would not have had so much force: he therefore denounces near ruin on Lebanon and on other places. Almost all think that by Lebanon is to be understood the temple, because it was built with timber from that mountain; but this view seems to me frigid, though it is approved by the common consent of interpreters. For why should we think the temple to be metaphorically called Lebanon rather than Bashan? And they think so such thing of Bashan, though there is equally the same reason. I therefore regard it simply as the Mount Lebanon; and I shall merely refer to what Joseph us declares, that the temple was opened before the city was destroyed by Titus. But though that history may be true, and it seems to me probable, it does not hence follow that this prophecy was then fulfilled, according to what is said of Rabbi Jonathan, who then exclaimed, “Lo! the prophecy of Zechariah; for he foretold that the temple would be burnt, and that the gates would be previously opened.” These things seem plausible, and at the first view gain our approbation. But I think that we must understand something more solid, and less refined: for I doubt not but that the Prophet denounces complete ruin on Mount Lebanon, and on Bashan and other places. 129129     Both to Jewish and Christian expounders for the most part have regarded the temple as meant by Libanon; with whom Blayney and Henderson agree. But the whole context clearly favors the opinion of Calvin, which has been followed by Marckius and Henry. There is in what follows no allusion to the temple, but the “land,” verse 6, is expressly mentioned. The “cedars” evidently represented the chief men in the state, not in the temple, called in the second verse “the might” ones. Indeed the whole of what follows countenances this idea, that the Jewish state or land is what is intended. What has chiefly led to the notion, that the temple is intended, is the fact that it was built by cedars from Libanon: but the burning of the cedars mentioned here does not represent the burning of the temple, but the destruction of the chief men in the land of Judah; and this consideration alone is fatal to the notion. — Ed.

But why does he bid Lebanon to open its gates? The reason is given, for shortly after he calls it a fortified forest, which was yet without walls and gates. Lebanon, we know, was nigh to Jerusalem, though far enough to be free from any hostile attack. As then the place was by nature sufficiently safe from being assailed, the Prophet speaks, as though Lebanon was surrounded by fortresses; for it was not exposed to the attacks of enemies. The meaning is, — that though on account of its situation the Jews thought that Lebanon was not exposed to any evils, yet the wantonness of enemies would lead them even there. We have already said why the Prophet bids Lebanon to open its gates, even because he puts on the character of a herald, who threatens and declares, that God’s extreme vengeance was already nigh at hand.

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