Our reading today begins with an oracle against the nations. Zechariah begins with Syria. Hadrach, Damascus, and Hamath are all Syrian cities (9:1-2). The second half of verse 1 should read: “because toward YHWH are the eyes of mankind and all the tribes of Israel.” God is calling all nations to look to Him! God then addresses Tyre and Sidon (vv. 3-4). Syria, Tyre, and Sidon are in the north. God indicts Tyre for valuing what has no inherent value and pronounces judgment.
Next, the judgment is against the Philistines in the south (vv. 5-6). God is judging the nations that border Israel on both sides. Note that with this judgment, the Philistine cities will be part of the remnant like a clan of Judah (v. 7). The nations that were under God’s judgment will come to be part of His people! And God will protect all those that join themselves to Him (v. 8). This will be done through the coming King (v. 9). This is Christ (see Matt 21:5). He will bring peace to all the world (v. 10). The blood of the covenant in verse 11 is not the blood of Exodus 24:8. It is what that pointed to: the blood of Christ (see Matt 26:28) that will bring about the new Exodus where man is set free from the punishment of hell. Those in bondage to sin and death will become prisoners of hope (v. 12). And the Divine Warrior will use His people as His weapon against the world and its ways (v. 13).
Starting in verse 14, we see the final salvation of God’s people and judgment of the world. The Divine Warrior will appear and His people (His arrow – see v. 13) will in an instant go forth into our salvation at the last trumpet (v. 14). And we will return with Him in judgment (v. 15). And we will forever be saved and with our Shepherd (v. 16). How great is His goodness?!?
Chapter 10 begins with a command to seek YHWH for our needs (10:1) rather than go after other gods (v. 2). Because the kings of Judah worshiped false gods they were destroyed (v. 3 – see Ezek 34:1-10). And as He promised, God will care for the flock Himself (see Ezek 34:11-24). God will bring forth Godly leaders of His people (vv. 4-5) when He restores His people (vv. 6-7). They will be numerous (v. 8) and will expand beyond the borders of Israel (v. 10). Their enemies will be judged (v. 11).
Chapter 11 continues the theme of judgment. 11:1-3 pictures the judgment of wicked leaders and their lands. These leaders take advantage of those they should care for (v. 5). In verse 4, the people under the rule of such wicked men are compared to the flock doomed to slaughter, that is, the sheep that are awaiting sacrifice on the altar. God calls Zechariah to an act prophesy: he is to become the shepherd of these doomed sheep. This pictures God as the Shepherd of Judah. This is picturing what happened that led to the Babylonian exile. The three shepherds of verse 8 are most likely Jehoiakim, Jehoiachin, and Zedekiah. Because of the spiritual decline of Judah under these kings, God rejected Judah as His people and turned them over to Babylon (v. 9). The covenant was broken (vv. 10-11).
In verse 12, Zechariah is done caring for the sheep (because now they have been killed as a sacrifice) and he asks for his wages – whatever seems good to them. He receives 30 pieces of silver. God tells Zechariah to throw the money away (v. 13). This pictures God – as Shepherd of the physical people – receiving nothing near what was His due. This is also the price Judas is given to betray Christ (see Matt 26:15). The thirty pieces of silver is the price of retribution for killing a slave (see Ex 21:32). This symbolizes how the physical people treated God.
In verse 14, the breaking of the staff of union between Judah and Israel symbolizes God’s rejection of the physical people, just as the rejoining of them symbolizes the calling of the spiritual people (see Ezek 37:15-28). In hindsight, this means that the rejection began back when the kingdoms divided. The worthless shepherd (vv. 16-17) are most of the kings that came after King David. The physical people failed to be what God called them to be because of their worthless shepherds. The spiritual people will be what God calls them to be because of the Good Shepherd.