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Bible Study, The Minor Prophets: Zechariah 11 and 12

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Posted on CCPC's website 2022

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

Chapter 11

      comment: 'the Lebanese version of Smokey the Bear is going to be unhappy'

      "he lel" (wail / the 'theatrical mourning') because....
      The damage to the area forests continues with the "be ro wos" (fir / cypress), the "'e rez" (cedars), and the oaks of Bashan (region east of the upper Jordan and the lake) the 'thick forest' has come down.

      "qo wl" (sound) of "yil lat" (wailing cry (similar root)) "ha ro 'im" (flock tenders) for "sud de dah" (ruined (as in: 'violently devastated')) "'ad dar tam" ('their' cloak / robe) - sound of "sa 'a gat" (roaring) lions, for "sha dad" (ruined ...(same root)) is the pride of Jordan (meaning the area around the river).

4 and 5
      Thus says YHWH Elohim - "re 'eh" (graze / pasture) the flock "ha ha re gah" (slaughter (for meat))
      "qo ne hen" (possessor / buyer) slaughter (same root) them without "ye' sa mu" (guilt) - and "u mo ke re hen" (literally 'those that sell them') say "ba ruk" (bless) YHWH "wa' sir" ('I'm' wealthy) - and the 'shepherds' no "ya mo wl" (compassion / pity) "'a le hen" (over / toward 'them').

      for no 'pity' (same root) "'o wd" (along / again / more (as in 'continuing')) on "yo se be" (dwell) in the land, says YHWH, "we hin nah" (and behold), I "mam si" (find / present) the "ha 'adam" (people) "'is" (everyone) the hand "re 'e hu" (neighbor / another / companion) and into the hand (same root) "mal kow" (king) - "we kit te tu" ('crush by beating') the land - and not "'a sil" (deliver) 'from their hand' (same root).

7 through 9
      NOTE: this is an interesting, and very difficult section to understand, complete with significant repetition. The primary speaker here is the prophet, but with the Words of YHWH mixed in. Also keep in mind that 'social justice' undercurrent throughout the Minor Prophets, that idea is in play here. As well as a possible 'Messianic Prophecy' sighting here and another before the end of the chapter. All that, and the closing phrase 9 is just simply disturbing. But. Stick with it, and we'll get through it.
      Remember: Keep In Mind: Note: the Minor Prophets are, as a rule: Metaphoric. Apocalyptic. Poetry. ... written in Ancient Hebrew.
            so, really, why should we find it hard to understand nearly 3000 years later?
      "wa 'er 'eh" ('I' pastured) the flock for slaughter, "la ken" (this / so) "'a ni ye" (afflicted / poor) in the flock. "'wa 'eq qah li" (and take / took 'for me') "se ne" (two) "maq lo wt" (rod / staff (means both)) - one "qa ra ti" (called / named) "no 'am" ((Strong's) delightfulness / pleasantness), and one I called "ho be lim" (cord (as in 'rope') / band) - 'I pastured the flock' (same phrase).
      "wa 'ak hid" (annihilated / destroyed) three "ha ro 'im" (flock tenders) 'in one month' - "wat tiq sar" (grieved / 'very' discouraged) "nap si" (My soul) 'them' and "nap sam" (their soul (same root)) "ba ha lah" (loath) me.
      "wa 'o mar" ('and I' said) not "'er 'eh" (pasture (same root)) "'et kem hammettah" (what is being put to death) "ta mut" (will die), "we han nik he det" (and 'what is being annihilated / destroyed')- "tik ka hed" (annihilated (same root), and those left "to kal nah" (to consume / eat) "'is sah" (woman / wife) "be sar" (flesh / body) "re 'u tah" (another / neighbor).
      Yes, it is implying cannibalism in the group of survivors. You may reference Deuteronomy 28:53 and following, and part of Leviticus 26, not to mention Ezekiel 5, at your leisure.
      Now, is this the "Donner Party" revisited? Or does this describe people 'turning on their own' politically and hand over family members to the authorities, or the mass media, for reasons of their own however sordid those may be. We'll have to wait and see. For more on how California's Donner Pass got its name, see link below.

      "wa 'eq qah" (I take / took) "maq li" (staff (same word)) "no 'am" ((Strong's) delightfulness / pleasantness) "wa 'eg da'" (break / cut 'in pieces') it "le ha per" ('I can' cease / cast off) "be ri ti" (covenant) which I had made with "kal" (all / whole) "ha 'am mim" (peoples)

      "wat tu par" ('was' broken / cast off / frustrated) 'that day / time' "way ye de 'u" ('and they' knew) "'a ni ye" (afflicted / poor / humble (includes 'wretched')) 'of the flock' "has so me rim" (those watching / observing) that "de bar" (word) of YHWH "hu" (this).

      The prophet is still speaking.
      And "'o mar" (I said) to them "'im" (if / when) "to wb" (agreeable / good) "be 'e ne kem" ('in your' eyes / sight), "ha bu" (give) "se ka ri" (my wages / reward), "we 'im" (and if) not, "ha da lu" (cease / refrain). They 'weighed out' wages, "se lo sim" (thirty) "ka sep" (silver).

      And said YHWH to me, "has li ki hu" (throw / cast) it to the "hay yo w ser" (former (one that hand works clay) / potter) that "'e der" (magnificent) "hay qar" (honor / price) "la qar ti" (precious / value) "me 'a le hem" (concerning / above / over / etc) 'so I took the thirty pieces of silver', "wa 'as lik" (threw (same root) it into "bet" (house) YHWH "'el" (toward the potter).
      This is exactly a Messianic prophecy, as it is dealing with several of the 'bad guys' from the episode. But it is directly related, as seen in Matthew 26 and 27, as well as Mark 14. The question remains that the Sanhedrin had to have read Zech's prophecy, maybe in the heat of the moment they didn't realize what was going on, but, surely, later somebody slapped their own forhead when they realized what had happened.

      paraphrase: he breaks his second staff, "ho be lim" (cord...) "le ha per" ('I can' cease...) "ha 'a ha wah" (brotherhood) "ben" (between) Judah and Israel.

      And said YHWH to me, "'o wd" (again / still / etc) "ki li" (articles / instruments) "ro 'eh" (herdsman) "'e li wi" (foolish).

      Discussion: remember that other Messianic prophecy we said was in this chapter? Here it is. Complete with a dash of Social Justice just to keep it interesting. But notice to the end of the verse, this appears to cover both His coming the first time, AND the Second Time, when he isn't quite so pleasant to those that have gotten 'fat' through abusing 'the poor' in various ways.
      We'll take a look at these prophecies in an upcoming feature essay.

      Discussion: the term here isn't 'flock herder' like some other verses, and indeed, what was used in 16, this is "ro 'i" (shepherd) the one that owns the sheep. Except here he is described as "ha 'e lil" (worthless) it is related to the same term used for an idol. And he abandons the sheep.
      Let's just say that isn't a good idea, and he is one of those the Messiah will be upset with.

Chapter 12

      Now the 'burden' of the message is against Israel.
      ... thus says YHWH who "no teh" (stretches) "sa ma yim" (visible heavens / sky) and "yo sed" ('laid' foundation) "'a res" (earth (as planet)), and forms "ru ah" (spirit / life / etc) of man with him.

      Discussion: the terms here for what the city will become are "sap" (threshold / door - also- (occasionally) 'a basin') "ra 'al" (reeling -also- poison(ed)), to everybody around. Then it mentions Judah and Jerusalem being under siege, which is covered in the following verses.

      "we ha yah" (will come to pass) in time that "'a sim" (make (same root as in 2)) Jerusalem "'e ben" (stone) "ma 'a ma sah" (very heavy (as in 'burdensome') fro all "ha 'a mim" (peoples / nations), "'o me se ha" (all who 'carry a load' (implies: 'all who would move it')) "sa ro wt" "yis sa re tu" (injured / badly cut (same root, repeated to imply) 'into pieces)...
      paraphrase: although all nations are against it.

      In that time, says YHWH, "'ak keh" (strike) each "sus" (horse (especially 'chariot horse') "bat tim ma ho wn" (with bewilderment), and its rider "bas sig ga 'o wn" (with madness). And on the house of Judah "'ep qah" (to open) 'my' eyes and each "sus" (horse) 'of the' "ha 'a mim" (people) strike with "iw wa ro wn" (blindness).

      and shall say "'al lu pe" (leaders) of Judah "be lib bam" (in their mind / heart (inner self)) "'am sah" (strength) 'to me' "yo se be" ('those' living / dwelling) in Jerusalem, YHWH of Hosts their GOD.

      In that time, "'a sim" ('I will' make / place) leaders (same word) of Judah "ke ki yo wr es" ('as a' 'pan of fire') "be 'e sim" (stack of wood), and "u ke lap pid" (torch) "'es" (burning) "be 'a mir" (sheaves (bundle of harvested grain stalks)) - "we 'a ke lu" (consume / devour) on the "ya min" (right hand) and the "se mo wl" (left) - all peoples "sa bib" (all around / surrounding), 'will be inhabited again' Jerusalem "'o wd" (again) in place, Jerusalem.

      "we ho wo si a'" ('will' save / deliver) YHWH the "'a ho le" (tents) of Judah first, so that not "tig dal" (magnified / greater) "tip 'e ret" (glory / beauty) house of David, and glory (same word) of people of Jerusalem, than that of Judah.
      explanation: The statement is that Judah will never be allowed to overshadow the royal house of David and the city of Jerusalem.

      The translations have the idea. God will defend the people of the city.
      ... become "han nik sal" (stumbling / feeble) with them in that time, like David - and "bet" (house) David like Elohim's, "ke mal 'ak" ('like' messenger / angel) of YHWH "lip ne hem" (before them).

      And it shall be in that time that I "a baq qes" (seek / search) "le has mid" (destroy) all "hag go w yim" (nations (especially foreign)) "hab ba 'im" (came / come) against Jerusalem.

      The Living Translation:

"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son."
      A look at key points. "we sa pak ti" (and 'I' pour / pour out). "ru ah" (spirit) "hen" (favor / grace) and "ta ha nu nim" (supplication (humbly requesting)). 'they will look on me' "'a ser" (whom) "da qa ru" (pierced). "sa pe du" (mourn / wail), as one mourns (same word) "hay ya yid" (only son / child). And be "we ha mer" (bitter) for him as "ka ha mer" (is bitter (same root) over a "hab be ko wr" (firstborn).

11 through 13
      paraphrase, then a look at some of the names.
      The mourning will be world wide. And it implies that the women will mourn 'by themselves', which is a "Jewish thing" still seen in some of the more conservative groups.
      the 'house of David' is the royal linage of the king. The 'house of Nathan' evidently refers to the family of the prophet from 2 Samuel 7, the one that had the famous run in with the king after his 'indiscretion', there is no record of a tribal affiliation for Nathan. The 'family of Levi' likely indicates the kohen priests. The Shimeites are a 'branch' of the tribe of Levi, see Exodus 5 : 17 and Numbers 3 : 18 - 21. There was also some mentioned in 1 Chronicles 25 : 17.

end 12

Selected Sources for this chapter:

Sources used throughout entire study:
Bible Hub Interlinear pages: We'll change this link as we change books.

the Geneva Bible downloadable

the 1611 KJV

The Minor Prophets Study Index page.

NOTE: The Bible Study Lesson presented above is posted as a reference document to begin a conversation of the topic. And that's it. Please accept it at such.

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