Zachariah was impatient (Zech 11:8-11:9)

“In one month,

I disposed

Of the three shepherds.

I had become impatient

With them,

They also detested me.

Thus,

I said.

‘I will not be your shepherd.

What is to die,

Let it die!

What is to be destroyed,

Let it be destroyed.

Let those that are left

Devour the flesh

Of one another.’”

Zechariah disposed of 3 shepherds in one month.  Who were these shepherds?  They may have been local Israelite officials.  Apparently, Zechariah was not pleased with them, while they detested him, not a good working relationship.  Zechariah was not going to be their shepherd any longer.  If they were in trouble about to die, let them die.  If they were about to be destroyed, let them be destroyed.  Anyone left would probably devour each other.  Everyone for themselves.

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The two staffs (Zech 11:7-11:7)

“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.

I tended the sheep.”

Zechariah was going to be the good shepherd.  He was going to take over the flock of doomed sheep.  He had two staffs.  One was called favor or grace, while the other was called unity or unifier.  Thus, he would tend these sheep with his two staffs of grace and unity, instead of the ordinary single stick.

Yahweh will not have pity (Zech 11:6-11:6)

“Says Yahweh.

‘I will no longer have pity

On the inhabitants

Of the earth.

I will cause

Every one of them

To fall,

Each into the hand

Of a neighbor,

Each into the hand

Of his king.

They shall devastate

The earth.

I will deliver no one

From their hand.’”

Yahweh was clear here.  There would be no pity on any of the inhabitants of the earth.  All of them would fall into the hands of his or her neighbor or king.  If you were the good neighbor, you won, since the others fell into your hand.  The earth would be devastated.  No one would be saved.  Either they died in civil wars or the kings killed them.

The selling of the sheep (Zech 11:4-11:5)

“Thus said Yahweh my God.

‘Be a shepherd

For the flock doomed to slaughter!

Those who buy them,

Kill them.

They go unpunished.’

Those who sell them say.

‘Blessed be Yahweh!

I have become rich!’

Their own shepherds

Have no pity on them.’”

Yahweh, via Zechariah, seems to say that this flock of sheep was doomed to slaughter.  The people who bought the sheep, killed them, but they would go unpunished.  Meanwhile, the sellers of the sheep were praising Yahweh, because they had become rich.  The original shepherds had no pity on the sheep.  Sheep by their very nature would be killed for eating, but not before their wool was sheared.  This may be an allusion to the Ptolemaic rule (305-275 BCE) with their Israelite appointees.

The ruin of the powerful trees (Zech 11:1-11:3)

“Open your doors!

O Lebanon!

Thus,

The fire may devour

Your cedars!

Wail!

O cypress!

The cedar has fallen.

The glorious trees

Are ruined!

Wail!

Oaks of Bashan!

The thick forest

Has been felled!

Listen!

To the wail of the shepherds!

Their glory is despoiled!

Listen!

To the roar of the lions!

The tickets of the Jordan

Are destroyed!”

This oracle shows various strong trees as symbols of power.  Lebanon with its great cedar trees would be devoured by fire.  The glorious cypress trees would be ruined.  The oak tree forests of Bashan would be cut down.  The glory of the shepherds would be gone.  The roaring lions in the brush tickets of the Jordan River would be destroyed.  The powerful people better look out or they would become like these trees.

The great return (Zech 10:8-10:11)

“I will signal for them.

I will gather them in.

I have redeemed them.

They shall be

As numerous

As they were before.

Though I scattered them

Among the nations,

Yet in far countries

They shall remember me.

They shall rear their children.

They shall return.

I will bring them home

From the land of Egypt.

I will gather them

From Assyria.

I will bring them

To the land of Gilead.

I will bring them

To Lebanon,

Until there is no room for them.

They shall pass through

The sea of distress.

The waves of the sea

Shall be struck down.

The depths of the Nile

Shall dry up.

The pride of Assyria

Shall be laid low.

The scepter of Egypt

Shall depart.”

Yahweh was going to give a signal for the Israelites to gather, since he had redeemed them from their captivity.  They would be as numerous as they were before.  Even though they were scattered among many distant countries, they raised their children there before they returned.  Yahweh was going to bring them home from Egypt and Assyria.  He was going to put them in Gilead, the east side of the Jordan River, or in Lebanon, on the seacoast, until there was no more room for them there.  They would have no problems, since Yahweh was going to lead them through distressed seas, mild waves, and the deep dry Nile River.  The pride of Assyria would be brought down, while the control of the Egyptian rule or scepter would leave.