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II. The Messiah's Death and the General Resurrection

II.(B) Zechariah 13: the Smiting of the Shepherd 

Ezekiel, writing in the Babylonian captivity, and Zechariah, writing after it, gave three parallel shepherd stories about the Messianic Age in Ezekiel 34, and Zechariah 11 & 13.

Ezekiel 34
1. Bad shepherds and no primary Shepherd
2. God stops the bad shepherds from eating the sheep and takes the flock from them. The sheep have already thrust the weak sheep away with their horns.
3. God puts the Davidic Good Shepherd over them
4. Good Shepherd makes covenant of peace with sheep and protects them.
5. After the covenant's enactment, they know God is with them.

Zechariah 11
1. Bad shepherds
2. Good Shepherd obeys God, comes, and fires the bad shepherds
3. Good Shepherd breaks his first staff, which breaks the covenant, and the poor of the flock recognize it as God's word
4. Good Shepherd's employment is severed
5. Good Shepherd breaks his other staff, which breaks the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
6. A foolish shepherd comes who does not remember "Those that are cut off."(JPT)
7. The Sword strikes the worthless shepherd's arm and eye, drying up the arm and blinding the eye.

Zechariah 13
1. The parents of prophets who prophesy say to them that they lie, and thrust them through
2. The prophets give up their positions and "will not wear a hairy mantle in order to lie."(JPT)
3. God's sword smites "the Shepherd"
4. The Shepherd's smiting causes the sheep to scatter.
5. 2/3 the sheep will be cut off and die, and the third shall be tried like gold.
6. The sheep recognize God, who takes them back.

The events in the stories line up and match to form the following timetable:

1. Israel has bad shepherds and no primary Shepherd (Ezek 34:2-6, Zech 11:3-5).

2. The sheep thrust/gore the diseased/weak sheep away with their horns, and God later saves and/or judges them for this (Ezek 34:12,16,20-22). Parents thrust through "any" who still prophesy, all prophets cease prophesying and won't wear robes to deceive (Zech 13:1-5)

3. God saves the flock from the bad shepherds, brings in the stray sheep, "appoint(s) a single shepherd over them to tend them—My servant David. He shall tend them [“feed them” -1917 JPS], he shall be a shepherd to them”, and God gives them a covenant of peace protecting them from the gentiles forever (Ezek 34:16, 22-31 , 1985 JPS). God appoints a Good Shepherd who “feeds/tends” the flock and fires the bad shepherds (Zech 11:4-5,7-8).

4. The Good Shepherd breaks his first staff to break the covenant, which makes the poor of the flock know that it was "the word of the Lord" -the first time any of the sheep acknowledge God. The Good Shepherd gets severance pay (Zech 11:6,9-14). After setting up the covenant's protection, "they will know that I, the Lord their God, am with them, and they are My people, the house of Israel" (Ezek 34:30, JPT). God tells "the Sword" to “awaken against My shepherd and against the man who is” God's neighbor (amiyth= neighbor, relative, close companion, literally "equal") (Zech 13:11, JPT).

5. The Good Shepherd breaks his second staff, which breaks the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. In breaking his first staff, the Good Shepherd had said: "let… the one that is to get lost get lost" (Zech 11:9-14, JPS). Smiting God’s "Shepherd" causes the sheep to be scattered (Zech 13:7).

6. A Foolish Shepherd comes who does not “miss the lost [sheep], nor seek the strayed, nor heal the injured, nor sustain the frail, but will feast on the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs” (Zech 11:16, JPS). “Throughout all the land, says the Lord, two parts of it shall be cut off. They shall perish, and the third shall remain therein.” (Zech 13:8-9, JPT).

7. "The Sword" is "upon" the Worthless Shepherd's "arm and... right eye," shriveling the arm up and blinding the eye (Zech 11:17).

8. God says: the surviving “third I will put into the fire, And I will smelt them as one smelts silver And… They will invoke Me by name, And I will respond to them. I will declare, ‘You are My people,’ And they will declare, ‘The Lord is our God!’” (Zech 13:9, JPS) “They shall know that I the Lord their God am with them and they, the House of Israel, are My people—declares the Lord God. For you, My flock, flock that I tend, are men; and I am your God—declares the Lord God.” (Ezek 34:3-31, JPS).

Thus, the Shepherd smitten in Zechariah 13 corresponds to the Good Shepherd of Zechariah 11 and the Davidic Shepherd of Ezekiel, who both have covenants with the sheep. While the Sword in Zechariah 11 merely shall be “upon" the arm of the Foolish Shepherd, the Sword "smites" the Good Shepherd himself, scattering the sheep. This indicates the Good Shepherd's death. That the Good Shepherd broke the tools of his trade, and that his wages weren't used for his own needs suggests his end. Ezekiel 34 and Deuteronomy 28 describe God's covenant with Israel as one of safety from destruction, so when the Good Shepherd broke the covenant, he would no longer be under its protection. The Good Shepherd-king must have been killed if his protection was removed, and he was smitten by a Sword, causing his people to be scattered.

 It appears that the time Zechariah 13:2-6 prophesied, when the religious establishment would perceive an absence of true prophets, had already come by Jesus’ time. Rabbi Shraga Simmons explains the Rabbinical view that: "Prophecy as a widespread phenomenon ceased with the destruction of the First Temple in 586 BCE. After the time of Ezra and the Great Assembly (350 BCE), prophecy ceased completely from the Jewish people. In the future, prophecy will be restored with the coming of the Messiah, may it be speedily in our days." (http://www.aish.com/h/9av/ht/48955796.html) And the Babylonian Talmud (Sotah 48b) says: "For our Rabbis have taught: When Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi died, the Holy Spirit departed from Israel".


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