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The Prophecy of Zechariah – Part 8: The Broken and New Covenants
Presenting Zechariah chapter 10, we saw in the reference to the House of Judah that there were apparent near vision prophecies, which can seem to have had a partial fulfillment in the 70-weeks Kingdom. But that is only because the remnant in Jerusalem was also a part of the House of Judah. The purpose of the prophecy of Zechariah is still for “all the tribes of Israel” mentioned at the beginning of chapter 9, and most of Judah was taken into captivity by the Assyrians along with the House of Joseph, which is also mentioned along with Judah in that same chapter 10 of Zechariah.
In the words of Zechariah at the beginning of chapter 10, it is clearly evident that the primary focus of the ensuing prophecy is in the far vision, for the “time of the latter rain”. In ancient Israel, the latter rain was the season which preceded the harvest. But prophetically, this is a reference not to a particular time of the year as Zechariah wrote. Rather it must be a reference to the great harvest so frequently spoken of by Yahshua Christ, and also prophesied by Joel, where the children of Israel may expect those remarkable gifts from God which are promised where Yahweh had said that “I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.”
We then saw that the subject of the prophecy in Zechariah chapter 10 could not have been the 70-weeks Kingdom for another reason: because Ephraim, the name which came to stand for the ten northern tribes of the Assyrian captivity, was a subject of the prophecy as well as Judah. The remnant of the 70-weeks kingdom, while it was referred to as the “two tribes” and the “house of Judah”, could not truly stand for all Judah, and certainly did not stand for Ephraim. Going back to Zechariah chapter 9, we see that the subject of the prophecy is “all the tribes of Israel”, and therefore Yahweh God never neglected the Israelites of the ancient dispersions, who ultimately inhabited most of Europe and became the Christian nations. As we explained in the oracle contrasting the sons of Yahweh with the sons of Javan, the proof is in ancient history, that the Christian nations of Europe were “all the tribes of Israel” of Zechariah’s prophecy, because they alone fulfilled the things which Zechariah had said would come of those tribes.
So the ultimate purpose of Zechariah’s prophecy is for the far vision, in relation to the period of time preceding the great harvest so often described by Yahshua Christ on the day of His promised return, when the Wheat and the Tares are gathered by His messengers, as it says in Matthew chapter 13, “41 The Son of man shall send forth his angels, and they shall gather out of his kingdom all things that offend, and them which do iniquity; 42 And shall cast them into a furnace of fire: there shall be wailing and gnashing of teeth. 43 Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father….”
In Zechariah chapter 10 there is one difference in the translation between the King James Version, which is based upon the Masoretic Text, and the Septuagint, which we did not take time to discuss earlier. So we will discuss it briefly here. It is found in verse 10, where the King James Version has “10 I will bring them again also out of the land of Egypt, and gather them out of Assyria; and I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon; and place shall not be found for them.” We had explained that Egypt and Assyria represented the captivity of scattered Israel. Then we conjectured that perhaps it warns that “place shall not be found for them” as White Christians are indeed being pushed out of their nations and dwellingplaces by the armies of bastards at this very time, which we hope is not long before the harvest. So that is a dismal warning, but the Septuagint has a word of encouragement instead. (One may imagine that the two versions are different but are both meant to be fulfilled, as it is evident that either version may seem to have been fulfilled. However we would not cling to that as a dogma.)
The Septuagint has this same verse to read: “And I will bring them again from the land of Egypt, and I will gather them in from among the Assyrians; and I will bring them into the land of Galaad and to Libanus; and there shall not even one of them be left behind.” So the sheep receive a promise, that not one of them shall be left behind on the day that they are ultimately gathered to their God through Yahshua Christ. The prophet was speaking of the scattered sheep of Yahweh when those words were written, as was Christ where He is recorded as having said in John chapter 17: “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. 29 My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand.” All of Israel shall indeed be saved, and here in the Septuagint reading of Zechariah 10:10 we see yet another assurance of that.
Now, here in Zechariah chapter 11, while we have a new chapter division, once again we do not have any apparent break in the context. The primary subject of the prophecy must still be “all the tribes of Israel” and the “time of the latter rain”. However, as we have frequently endeavored to describe here, because the express purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom was the ultimate salvation of all Israel, these prophecies also have a near vision fulfillment which is apparent in the history of that kingdom.
With this we shall commence with Zechariah chapter 11:
1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars. 2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down. 3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.
The shepherds are still the rulers and chief men of the Israelites who were the subject of this same prophecy in the preceding chapter. But for Jerusalem in Palestine, Zechariah's own time was a time of rebuilding, accompanied with promises of rebuilding. Therefore the events prophesied here must transcend the 70-weeks Kingdom. Lebanon represents the north, and it was in ancient times covered with a great cedar forest. Here the fir tree, the cedars of Lebanon, and the oaks of Bashan are used as metaphors for the chief men of the tribes of Israel, the shepherds of the people who are being punished by Yahweh in judgment and in captivity.
We had seen judgments against the people and shepherds of Israel, for which Israel had been punished and taken into captivity, throughout the earlier chapters of Zechariah. In chapter 10 there is a specific prophecy against the shepherds, and we would read verse 3 in part: “Mine anger was kindled against the shepherds, and I punished the rulers….” Here we see the punishment of the shepherds is described once again.
There is a literary device in Hebrew called parallelism, where the same idea is expressed, or the same entity is described, consecutively and in different ways. Sometimes a parallelism employs only two short phrases, or even two words, but at other times a parallelism can be seen in two or more lengthy consecutive passages. So Zechariah chapter 10 contained a prophecy which was chiefly against the leaders of all of the tribes of Israel, and here in Zechariah chapter 11 we see another oracle given against the shepherds of those same Israelites. They are not describing two separate judgments, but rather, they are both describing different aspects of the same judgement.
4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter; 5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.
As we had illustrated earlier in these presentations of Zechariah, it was rather explicitly prophesied that the children of Israel would be taken into captivity as early as the Book of Deuteronomy. In the warnings of punishment for their disobedience it was made clear that their disobedience and punishment were inevitable. In Leviticus there are similar warnings, and in chapter 26 the Word of Yahweh says “18 And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.” In Daniel chapter 12 we see a vision for the last days that says “7 And I heard the man clothed in linen, which was upon the waters of the river, when he held up his right hand and his left hand unto heaven, and sware by him that liveth for ever that it shall be for a time, times, and an half; and when he shall have accomplished to scatter the power of the holy people, all these things shall be finished.” There is similar language describing a woman with twelve stars, representing the tribes of Israel, taken into the wilderness and fed with the Gospel by the messengers of God for the same period, in Revelation chapter 12.
This feeding is described in a different way in Ezekiel chapter 20: “33 As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out, will I rule over you: 34 And I will bring you out from the people, and will gather you out of the countries wherein ye are scattered, with a mighty hand, and with a stretched out arm, and with fury poured out. 35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the people, and there will I plead with you face to face. 36 Like as I pleaded with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so will I plead with you, saith the Lord GOD. 37 And I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant: 38 And I will purge out from among you the rebels, and them that transgress against me: I will bring them forth out of the country where they sojourn, and they shall not enter into the land of Israel [the appointed place of 2:Samuel 7:10, which is not in Palestine]: and ye shall know that I am the LORD.”
In Daniel chapter 7 and in Revelation chapter 13, we see visions relating to periods where different tyrants rule over the nations of the earth, which are described in one place as forty-two months, and in another as “a time and times and the dividing of time.” Once we realize that the prophetic day represents a year, as we are informed in places such as Numbers 14:34 and Ezekiel 4:6, where Yahweh tells the prophet “I have appointed thee each day for a year”, we may notice that the forty-two months period, which consists of 1,260 days, is equivalent to three-and-a-half times of 360 days each. So the “time and times and the dividing of time” which can be interpreted as three-and-a-half times is the same as forty-two months, which are 1,260 prophetic years, and one-half of seven times. Where Revelation chapter 13 describes two beasts, one is evidently the series of world empires until the fall of Rome consistent with the vision in Daniel chapter 2, and the other is evidently the papacy which ruled over Europe for nearly that same length of time, consistent with the vision in the latter half of Daniel chapter 7, Therefore we see the seven times of Israel’s punishment was to last for 2,520 years. Now that period has elapsed, but there is a different prophetic time, known as the time of Jacob’s trouble, and that is another issue entirely.
The proofs of all of those things are too long a digression to take here, but we only desire to summarixe them here so that we see the context of Zechariah’s statements within the scope of the other prophecies concerning Israel. Israel was cast off in punishment, the times were predetermined by God, and Israel would be the “flock of the slaughter” during that entire period of punishment.
This is the flock of the slaughter: the Word of Yahweh promises that the children of Israel would become many nations, a multitude of nations, which happened during their captivity. Paul of Tarsus illustrates the fulfillment of those promises in Romans chapter 4, 1 Corinthians chapter 10, and Galatians chapters 3 and 4. But while they were becoming many nations, they were also being punished by their God for their original disobedience. So in Romans chapter 13, where only about 800 years of that period of punishment had passed, Paul informs us that every man must be subject to these earthly authorities that Yahweh had appointed. But what Paul does not say in Romans is manifest in the prophets and the Revelation, that Yahweh appointed those authorities in order to punish the children of Israel. So it is even today, in the time of Jacob’s trouble, that worldly governments are a punishment from God..
The children of Israel being punished, they are the “flock of the slaughter”, and at the same time that the unconditional promises to the patriarchs are being fulfilled. So Paul says in Romans chapter 8: “35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? 36 As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. 37 Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” Throughout the entire period of the captivity of Israel, their possessors have slain them, and will continue to do so until they return to Yahweh their God in the obedience which is in Christ. White Christian people wonder why every government policy is against them, and there should be no wonder at all, if they would only believe their God.
6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbour's hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.
There seems to be a near-term fulfillment of this in the 70-weeks Kingdom, in the oppression of the Seleucids, and then in the treachery of the Edomite rulers of Judaea, and then in the Roman treatment of Judaea in the years before the fall of Jerusalem and its ultimate destruction by the Romans. But the overall scope of this prophecy clearly transcends the circumstances of the Judaeans, and none of these verses can be isolated and interpreted apart from the context. The true people of Judah in Judaea are included, but the prophecy is for all of the tribes of Israel.
So to understand this, we must consider all of the tribes of Israel mentioned in Zechariah chapter 9, all the way from Zechariah’s own time and up to the anticipated time of the latter rain mentioned in Zechariah chapter 10. Therefore we see in this prophecy one explanation of the reason for all of the wars of the various nations which developed from the scattered children of Israel. The shepherds, the kings of Israel have sent their subjects to war against their fellow Christian-Israel nations rather consistently over the last 1,500 years, just as the pre-Christian, pagan Israelites in captivity readily made war against kindred tribes throughout the centuries before they accepted Christianity.
This is an aspect of the judgment of our God that even many Identity Christians do not understand. Men are punished for their own disobedience to God, but sometimes even good men suffer judgment along with the judgment of the nation as a whole. In this manner the Word of Yahweh speaks in Ezekiel chapter 21 and says “... say to the land of Israel, Thus saith the LORD; Behold, I am against thee, and will draw forth my sword out of his sheath, and will cut off from thee the righteous and the wicked.”
Likewise, when the apostles complained to Christ about the oppression of the Romans in their own time, we see this account recorded in Luke chapter 13: “1 There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish. 4 Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem? 5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”
The punishment of the people is a lesson in sin and consequences that is all for the ultimate glory of God, and for that reason, as Christ had also said, “27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: 28 And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.” So we see Zechariah continue with this same perspective:
7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
The “poor of the flock” who were fed represent the survivors of the captivity, those who had accepted the Word of God and who ultimately became Christians, wherever they had been scattered, and that was the purpose of the Gospel. We read in Revelation chapter 12 of the woman with the twelve stars, which must represent the tribes of Israel: “6 And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” Twelve hundred and sixty days is 42 months, or three-and-a-half times, representative of half of the seven times period of punishment. While the woman was being punished in captivity, she was receiving the Gospel of Reconciliation (cf. Daniel 9:24, 2 Corinthians 5:18, Hebrews 2:17). As we shall see, Beauty and Bands refer to the Old Covenant and the Possession of Israel and Judah, so this prophecy is also describing the overall relationship which Yahweh has had with the children of Israel.
8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul loathed them, and their soul also abhorred me. 9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.
Prophetically, and concerning the near term vision related to the 70-weeks Kingdom, the fulfillment of verse 7 may be seen in the ministry of Christ, who came to fulfill the law and the prophets and gave the Sabbaths a new meaning and purpose which the Judaeans did not understand. During His ministry, He fed the flock. If that near vision interpretation is correct, then the fulfillment of verse 8 may be seen in the year of three emperors, which occurred shortly before the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, during which Nero, Otho and Vitellius all died and Vespasian ultimately came to rule. So in verse 9 where it says “and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another”, we may see a description of those who remained in Jerusalem who refused the Gospel of Christ, and this was their fate during the final siege by the Romans. This may seem to be the case, but the patterns of history repeat themselves on a scale both large and small. This may seem to be the case, but that is because the fall of old Jerusalem is also a type, for the fall of the capital cities of the children of Israel to come, called the fall of Mystery Babylon in the Revelation because the shepherds have once again sold out, and have chosen mammon over God – all for a few pieces of silver.
Once again, the purpose of this prophecy transcends the 70-weeks Kingdom, and a greater fulfillment must be determined. The word in verse 7 for “cut off” is kachad (Strong’s # 3582), and it means to hide or to erase. It is in the imperfect tense in Hebrew, so it seems to refer to something which had happened to those who formerly ruled over Israel. Their identities may be speculated upon in several different ways. While it is barely evident in Scripture, and not even observed by many, the Tyrians were Israelites, as well as many of the later Syrians, as Damascus was taken by David and for a long time subject to Israel. So we see in 2 Kings chapter 8 that Elisha is sent by Yahweh to Damascus to anoint a king there. When Israel was divided, eventually it fell apart into more than two kingdoms, although the accounts in Scripture focus on Samaria and Jerusalem. The three shepherds may therefore refer to the kings in Jerusalem, Samaria, and Damascus. In any event, the three kings refers to rulers who had formerly oppressed their own people, as the kings of Israel and Judah had done.
On the other hand, while the Masoretic Text has the verb in the imperfect tense, the Septuagint translators had read the verb in the future tense, “And I will cut off three shepherds in one month...” Therefore this oracle may not be fulfilled at all. Since it relates to the time of the “latter rain” we may expect a far vision fulfillment is yet to happen. So it is possible that we may one day witness the cutting off of three wicked rulers of Christian nations, within a short time at some point in the future.
From verses 7 and 9 here we see that the prophet is speaking of a time in the future from when these words were written. So from Zechariah’s perspective, in 518 BC, it describes a future period when the poor of the flock of the lost sheep of Israel would be fed, and also when at least a portion of those remaining would at some point not be fed, where it is said of them to “let the rest eat every one the flesh of another”. The New American Standard Bible translates the phrase “let those who are left eat one another's flesh”, while the corresponding passage in the Septuagint reads “let the rest eat every one the flesh of his neighbour.” One of the curses of warnings of the consequences of disobedience in Deuteronomy chapter 28 says that “... thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters, which the LORD thy God hath given thee, in the siege, and in the straitness, wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee...” So a portion of the lost sheep were meant to thrive and be fed with the Gospel of Christ, and the balance would be left to perish. Perhaps this is why Word of Yahweh says in Micah chapter 4 “7 And I will make her that halted a remnant, and her that was cast far off a strong nation: and the LORD shall reign over them in mount Zion from henceforth, even for ever.”
However relating to the time of the latter rain, this too may describe events which remain in the future. Christ Himself had given us a parable describing His return, where the people of the Kingdom were likened to ten virgins, five who were prepared, having oil in their lamps. It may be discerned that this oil represents the knowledge which they had, having been fed with the Gospel. But five had no oil for their lamps, and when they realized they needed it they were too late, and were left locked outside with the world. As it says in the Revelation, “Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.”
The verses which follow assure us that this feeding of the sheep is indeed related to the New Covenant and the Gospel of Christ:
10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.
A stave (maqqel, Strong’s # 4731) is a rod or a staff. It is a staff here and in verse 14, but it is stave in verse 7 where the staffs were first mentioned. It is not the same word used in Ezekiel chapter 37 of the two sticks, one for the House of Joseph and one for the House of Judah, which the Word of Yahweh had promised to rejoin into one stick in Ezekiel’s prophecy, but it can be a synonym. Here there are two staves, Beauty and Bands, and together they may even represent the handles of a plow, which was also a symbol important in the message of the Gospel.
Here we see an explicit announcement by the God of Israel of the end of the Old Covenant. As we see in another prophecy, in Daniel chapter 9, this was ultimately fulfilled in the death of Christ. There Daniel had written concerning the cutting off of the Messiah that in the purpose of the 70-weeks Kingdom He would “… finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.” But when Yahshua Christ died on the cross, the children of Israel did not depart from their own wicked ways.
Rather, the apostle Paul had explained that where there is no law, sin is not imputed, in Romans chapter 5. Then in Romans chapter 7 Paul explained this: “1 Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth? 2 For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband. 3 So then if, while her husband liveth, she be married to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if her husband be dead, she is free from that law; so that she is no adulteress, though she be married to another man.” So the covenant was broken with the death of Christ on the cross, when the ancient children of Israel were freed from the judgments of the law. That is the breaking of the staff which Yahweh Himself calls Beauty here. That would pave the way for the reconciliation and everlasting righteousness of which Daniel had prophesied.
11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.
The “poor of the flock” describes the good people of Judaea who were awaiting a Messiah and who understood the prophecies concerning the Christ. For example, in Luke chapter 2 we see a description of “a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.” Then likewise, as it is described in John chapter 1, some of the apostles themselves had also been awaiting a Messiah before the appearance of Christ, as it is recorded of Andrew: “41 He first findeth his own brother Simon, and saith unto him, We have found the Messias, which is, being interpreted, the Christ.” Once again, as it is recorded in John chapter 4, the woman at the well in Samaria, a descendant of Jacob, professed before Christ Himself that “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things.” So after He told her and all her kinsmen all things, “… many more believed because of his own word; And said unto the woman, Now we believe, not because of thy saying: for we have heard him ourselves, and know that this is indeed the Christ...” Other Israelites, those of the captivity, also awaited a Messiah, as we see the Magi of Parthia, as the Parthians were also descended from the ancient Israelites, had travelled to Bethlehem just after the birth of Christ.
It is the poor and oppressed who are not worldly, who are generally humble, of whom Christ had spoken well, for example in Matthew chapter 5, or Luke chapter 6, where He said “Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God.” Later the apostle James wrote in his lone epistle “Hath not God chosen the poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the kingdom which he hath promised to them that love him?” (The wealthy are not excluded for reason that they are wealthy, but the Scripture also advises them on the treatment of their wealth. For example, Joseph of Arimathaia, as the Gospel notes, was a wealthy man who tended to the body of Christ. So we see a wealthy man who was nevertheless of a humble spirit. The wealthy among us today, if they love Christ, should be doing that same thing.)
Here in verses 10 and 11 we see an explicit statement, that Yahweh had broken His covenant, which was a necessary part of His plan of ultimate reconciliation of the children of Israel. However the people had already broken the covenant, so in effect it was already rendered idle. With this they are charged in the earlier prophets. For example, in Jeremiah chapter 11 it says “10 They are turned back to the iniquities of their forefathers, which refused to hear my words; and they went after other gods to serve them: the house of Israel and the house of Judah have broken my covenant which I made with their fathers.” Other witnesses to the breaking of the covenant by the children of Israel are found in Isaiah chapter 24, and Ezekiel chapter 44 where it says “6 And thou shalt say to the rebellious, even to the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; O ye house of Israel, let it suffice you of all your abominations, 7 In that ye have brought into my sanctuary strangers, uncircumcised in heart, and uncircumcised in flesh, to be in my sanctuary, to pollute it, even my house, when ye offer my bread, the fat and the blood, and they have broken my covenant because of all your abominations.”
Here in relation to the two staves, or staffs, in verses 7 and 10, the Masoretic Text once again has an imperfect verb, I took, while the Septuagint uses a future tense, verb, I will take. In verse 14 the Masoretic Text retains the imperfect tense for the phrase “I cut asunder”, but the Septuagint has “I cast away”, in the aorist tense rather than the future. So in the Septuagint in these verses the tenses of the verbs are inconsistent.
While it may be perceived that Yahweh broke His covenant by putting away Israel and Judah in the captivities, the law stands until the husband dies, as Paul had explained in Romans chapter 7, and it was the children of Israel who had violated the covenant in the first place, to the extent that it could not be kept. So before the covenant could be ended lawfully, Yahweh God holding Himself to His Own law, it is apparent that He demanded a price, a reparation, from Israel and Judah for the breaking of the Covenant, so we read here in verse 12:
12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Throughout the chapter, it is Yahweh God Himself who is portrayed as doing the speaking. This leaves no doubt that the breaking of the Old Covenant was indeed fulfilled in Yahshua Christ, and that Christianity is the only legitimate profession from the days of Zechariah. Of course, the thirty pieces of silver were the later price of Christ’s betrayal which the temple authorities had paid to Judas Iscariot. As it says in Matthew chapter 26: “14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went unto the chief priests, 15 And said unto them, What will ye give me, and I will deliver him unto you? And they covenanted with him for thirty pieces of silver. 16 And from that time he sought opportunity to betray him.”
Some time after the betrayal, Judas killed himself, and where those same chief priests disposed of his body and his belongings, we read Matthew repeat this very prophecy and say “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was valued, whom they of the children of Israel did value; 10 And gave them for the potter's field, as the Lord appointed me.” So the thirty pieces of silver which were the price for the betrayal of Christ were then used to purchase a potter’s field. Allegorically, they were indeed thrown into a potter’s field, but just not in the manner which one may expect. The allegorical fulfillment proves the hand of God in the fulfillment of the prophecy, as well as demonstrating that prophecy can be fulfilled allegorically, and not always literally.
14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
The Septuagint has possession here rather than brotherhood, “that I might break the possession between Judah and Israel.” But even if a brotherhood were to be broken between Israel and Judah, that would by necessity include most of Judah which was in captivity, and not merely the remnant in Judaea. However it cannot be established in Zechariah’s time that there was any brotherhood between Israel and Judah. While most of the tribes of Israel were deported by the Assyrians by the time of the fall of Samaria circa 722 BC, and there were apparently some others taken later, up to the days of Esar-Haddon, in 676 BC, most of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin that went into Assyrian captivity were taken in a separate campaign, by Sennacherib in the days of Hezekiah, at least 20 years after the fall of Samaria.
These tribes were therefore taken into Assyrian captivity at different times, and while elements of them all certainly migrated into Europe and Asia, they had been divided and fought with each other since the death of Solomon, and therefore we should lean towards the Septuagint reading here. The Dead Sea Scrolls are wanting most of Zechariah chapter 11. In this chapter, we see Yahweh promising the breaking of both the covenant and of the possession of Israel and Judah. The Old Covenant was broken with the death of Yahweh – the Husband of Israel – on the Cross of Christ. After that time, the possession would be broken, true Israelites would no longer be able to stay in Jerusalem, and ultimately they would not be able to remain in Palestine. The Word of Yahweh had spoken likewise in Hosea chapter 2 where it says “6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.” But there is even more than that.
Speaking of the children of Israel in captivity, it says in Hosea: “4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim”, and here we see that in captivity, the children of Israel would have no true rulers, and would lose of all the emblems and symbols of their former kingdom. Later in this prophecy of Zechariah, when Yahweh does raise up shepherds for them, it is not for their good but for their punishment.
Returning to the subject of the staff, however, if perhaps it does refer to the brotherhood of Judah and Israel, rather than to their possession, or national identity. In Ezekiel chapter 37 we read a prophecy of salvation for Israel where it says “13 And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, 14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. 15 The word of the LORD came again unto me, saying, 16 Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions: 17 And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand. 18 And when the children of thy people shall speak unto thee, saying, Wilt thou not shew us what thou meanest by these? 19 Say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the stick of Joseph, which is in the hand of Ephraim, and the tribes of Israel his fellows, and will put them with him, even with the stick of Judah, and make them one stick, and they shall be one in mine hand.”
So the making of Israel and Judah into one stick is in relation to the promise of deliverance and life in Christ, which is the message of the Gospel. Therefore we see Paul of Tarsus, speaking of the Israelites of Judaea and the Israelites among the nations of the Romans, Greeks, Galatians and others, write in Romans chapter 10 that “there is no difference between the Judaean and the Greek”, and in Galatians chapter 3 that “there is neither Judaean nor Greek... for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.” Likewise he wrote in Colossians chapter 3 that “... there is neither Greek nor Judaean...” Therefore Paul understood that both Israel and Judah would indeed be brothers in Christ, since the Israelites of Judaea were primarily of the House of Judah. So for that we lean towards the Septuagint reading of Zechariah 10:14.
But, as a digression, these people of Judah who accepted the Gospel were not the Edomite Jews. These prophecies concerning Israel and Judah should never be confused with the history of the Jews, who say they are Judah and are not.
15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd. 16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.
The people broke their end of the covenant and were put off into captivity, so Yahweh annulled His end of the covenant by dying on the cross of Christ, so that He could effect their reconciliation. Yahweh did not break His end of the covenant so that He could destroy the people. A man who puts away a wife can easily let her go off into the streets or wander into the deserts to die. Rather, He died in their place, so that He could fulfill the requirements of the law, and then reconcile Himself to them in the form of the resurrected Christ. Here in Zechariah, where even with the breaking of the staff representing the Old Covenant we see that Yahweh continues to deal exclusively with those same people, the houses of Israel and Judah.
But the periods of punishment which were already decreed nevertheless had to run their course. And in Daniel chapter 7 we see a description quite similar to this one by Zechariah, of the fourth beast which was to rule over the earth, which was “exceeding dreadful, whose teeth were of iron, and his nails of brass; which devoured, brake in pieces, and stamped the residue with his feet”, and of the last of the horns in the head of that beast, that “the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them”. So even with the offer of reconciliation found in the Gospel, the children of Israel were destined to suffer in this manner under wicked rulers. And in this regard, the Revelation of that same Christ concerning the things which would happen after His earthly ministry fully affirms the prophecy of Daniel.
In Scripture, as well as in ancient inscriptions, heaven and earth are often used allegorically to describe worldly governments and the masses of the people. In Deuteronomy chapter 28, among the warnings of disobedience, the children of Israel are told “And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.” So our governments are oppressive, while the masses of people cause ever-increasing consternation. Once again, Yahweh raises up earthly governments by which to punish men for their sins. Earthly government, and especially tyrannical government, is permitted by God for this reason alone. So where He says here that He will raise up a shepherd that feeds off the flock, it is also an allegory for such tyrannical governments.
And in turn, those shepherds themselves are also punished:
17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.
The phrase “idol shepherd” would have been better translated as worthless shepherd, which describes the shepherd of the preceding verse, who feeds himself off of the flock, rather than tending the people.
The reference to the sword, the arm, and the right eye is a reference not to a pastor, but to a leader. These shepherds are rulers of the people, not ministers. It is clarified in an episode recorded in Samuel chapter 11: “1 Then Nahash the Ammonite came up, and encamped against Jabeshgilead: and all the men of Jabesh said unto Nahash, Make a covenant with us, and we will serve thee. 2 And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, On this condition will I make a covenant with you, that I may thrust out all your right eyes, and lay it for a reproach upon all Israel.” When a warrior lost his right eye, he was defenseless, as he typically bore his shield on the left, but he could not see from his peripheral vision on the right to protect himself from attack. So this too is an allegory, that useless shepherds raised up by Yahweh in order to punish the people will also be punished, in a way in which they could not foresee.
It is a matter of Old Testament prophecy, not only in Jeremiah chapter 31, but also in Ezekiel chapter 37, that a New Covenant would be made with the children of Israel. So it says in Jeremiah, quoted by Paul in Hebrews chapter 8: “ 31 Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah...” It also says in Ezekiel chapter 37, in that same chapter where Yahweh promised to make one stick of Israel and Judah: “26 Moreover I will make a covenant of peace with them; it shall be an everlasting covenant with them: and I will place them, and multiply them, and will set my sanctuary in the midst of them for evermore. 27 My tabernacle also shall be with them: yea, I will be their God, and they shall be my people.” While the passage in Ezekiel does not call this covenant a new covenant as Jeremiah did, from the scope of his description it is clear that it is speaking of a New Covenant governing the relationship between God and Israel, which replaces the Sinai, or the Old Covenant.
So perhaps it should be called the Broken Covenant, as we have seen here that the children of Israel had broken their end of the covenant, so here in Zechariah Yahweh Himself announced that He broke the staff of Beauty representing the Covenant which He had with Israel. But He broke it so that He could reconcile the people to Himself, and in that manner we also see here another of the many Messianic prophecies of Zechariah which were indubitably fulfilled in Christ. Here Zechariah’s prophecy informs us that the Old Covenant was purposely broken by Yahweh, but once again connects it to the New Covenant to be fulfilled in Christ. Doing so, he also indicates that the New Covenant would also be made with the same people that the Broken Covenant had been made.
But Christians instead call it the Old Covenant, because Paul of Tarsus had also referred to it in that same manner, in Hebrews chapter 8 where he quotes that same passage of Jeremiah and then says: “13 In that he saith, A new covenant, he hath made the first old. Now that which decayeth and waxeth old is ready to vanish away.”
Recently there was a post made in the Christogenea Forum titled Rabbis "Abhor" The Term "Old Testament". It discusses the ownership, so to speak, of the books that Christians refer to as the Old Testament, and it says in part:
"Many Jews, however, strongly object to the term [Old Testament]. Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, professor of Jewish studies at the American Jewish University, says Old Testament is offensive because it 'reflects a solely Christian viewpoint in which the New Testament supplants and adds to an older one.' Rabbi James Rudin, who is noted for his work on interfaith relations, agrees: 'I abhor the term ‘Old Testament’; [it suggests] that Judaism has been replaced.'”
The friend who posted this remarked that “For jews, what we call the Bible comes down to property rights”, further quoting the same article:
"To some, what’s actually at stake is the larger issue of who owns the texts. 'Those who support calling them ‘Old Testament’ basically believe that practicing Jews of today do not understand the full thrust of their own scriptures,' says Alter. 'In using ‘Old Testament,’ they are saying, ‘We have taken over ownership of the Hebrew scriptures because we are the only ones who fully comprehend what they really are.’”
So the devil is trying to fool Christians into relinquishing the Scriptures in their entirety. Without an “Old Covenant”, how can Christians refer to a “New Covenant”? Neither Judaized denominational Christians nor the Jews truly comprehend the meaning of either testament. But the prophets demonstrate that the people to whom the apostles brought the Gospel, they are the people of God from the beginning. The Jews were never fed in the wilderness. The Jews were never reconciled to God in Christ. The Jews have assumed an identity that is not their own, they have stolen the Scriptures while fulfilling none of the promises, and they twist them so far as to invalidate them completely.
On the other hand, the Christian people of Europe are the people of God. They were cast off nearly 800 years before Christ. Some of them were cast off 1600 years before Christ. They fulfilled the promises to Abraham, they became many and strong nations, and they were fed from the Word of God in the wilderness by the apostles, who consistently quoted the Old Testament in relation to them.
As we have before proven, in Hosea, Amos, and others of the prophets, as well as throughout this prophecy of Zechariah, the Old Testament is a Christian book. The only place that the Jew has in it, is where it speaks of the devil.