Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
REPROOF OF THE
PROMISE OF THE
Having in the thirty-third chapter laid down repentance as the necessary
preliminary to happier times for the people, He now promises the removal
of the false shepherds as preparatory to the raising up of the Good
and Zec 11:17
similarly make the removal of the false shepherds the preliminary to
the interposition of Messiah the Good Shepherd in behalf of His people
Israel. The "shepherds" are not prophets or priests, but rulers
who sought in their government their own selfish ends, not the good of
the people ruled. The term was appropriate, as David, the first king
and the type of the true David
(Eze 34:23, 24),
was taken from being a shepherd
Ps 78:70, 71);
and the office, like that of a shepherd for his flock, is to guard and
provide for his people. The choice of a shepherd for the first
king was therefore designed to suggest this thought, just as Jesus'
selection of fishermen for apostles was designed to remind them
of their spiritual office of catching men (compare
Jer 2:8; 3:15; 10:21; 23:1, 2).
3. fat--or, by differently pointing the Hebrew, "milk"
[Septuagint]. Thus the repetition "fat" and "fed" is avoided: also
the eating of "fat" would not probably be put before the "killing" of
the sheep. The eating of sheep's or goats' milk as food
was unobjectionable, had not these shepherds milked them too often, and
that without duly "feeding" them [BOCHART],
The rulers levied exorbitant tributes.
kill . . . fed--kill the rich by false accusation so as to get
possession of their property.
feed not . . . flock--take no care of the people
4. The diseased--rather, those weak from the effects of "disease,"
as "strengthened" (that is, with due nourishment) requires
broken--that is, fractures from wounds inflicted by the wolf.
brought again . . . driven away--
Those "driven away" by the enemy into foreign lands through God's
judgments are meant
A spiritual reformation of the state by the rulers would have turned
away God's wrath, and "brought again" the exiles. The rulers are
censured as chiefly guilty (though the people, too, were
guilty), because they, who ought to have been foremost in checking the
evil, promoted it.
neither . . . sought . . . lost--Contrast the Good Shepherd's love
with force . . . ruled--
(Ex 1:13, 14).
With an Egyptian bondage. The very thing forbidden by the law they did
5. scattered, because . . . no shepherd--that is, none
worthy of the name, though there were some called shepherds
where the sheep were scattered when the true Shepherd was smitten. God
calls them "My sheep"; for they were not, as the shepherds
treated them, their patrimony whereby to "feed themselves."
meat to all . . . beasts--They became a prey to the Syrians, Ammon,
Moab, and Assyria.
6. every high hill--the scene of their idolatries sanctioned by the
search . . . seek--rather, "seek . . . search." The former is the
part of the superior rulers to inquire after: to search out is the
duty of the subordinate rulers
10. I will require my flock--
rather, "I require," &c., for God already had begun to do so, punishing
Zedekiah and the other princes severely
11. I . . . will . . . search--doing that which the so-called shepherds
had failed to do, I being the rightful owner of the flock.
12. in the day that he is among--in the midst of (Hebrew) His
sheep that had been scattered. Referring to Messiah's second advent,
when He shall be "the glory in the midst of Israel"
in the cloudy . . . day--the day of the nation's calamity
13. And I will bring them out from the people,
36:24; 37:21, 22;
Isa 65:9, 10;
14. good pasture--
high mountains of Israel--In
Eze 17:23; 20:40,
the phrase is "the mountain of the height of Israel" in the
singular number. The reason for the difference is: there
Ezekiel spoke of the central seat of the kingdom, Mount Zion, where the
people met for the worship of Jehovah; here he speaks of the
kingdom of Israel at large, all the parts of which are regarded as
possessing a moral elevation.
16. In contrast to the unfaithful shepherds
The several duties neglected by them I will faithfully
fat . . . strong--that is, those rendered wanton by prosperity
who use their strength to oppress the weak. Compare
"the fat cattle"
The image is from fat cattle that wax refractory.
with judgment--that is, justice and equity, as contrasted with the
"force" and "cruelty" with which the unfaithful shepherds ruled the
17. you, . . . my flock--passing from the rulers to the people.
cattle and cattle--rather, "sheep and sheep"; Margin, "small
cattle," or "flocks of lambs and kids," that is, I judge between one
class of citizens and another, so as to award what is right to each. He
then defines the class about to be punitively "judged," namely, "the
rams and he-goats," or "great he-goats" (compare
Mt 25:32, 33).
They answer to "the fat and strong," as opposed to the "sick"
The rich and ungodly of the people are meant, who imitated the bad
rulers in oppressing their poorer brethren, as if it enhanced their own
joys to trample on others' rights
18, 19. Not content with appropriating to their own use the goods of
others, they from mere wantonness spoiled what they did not use, so as
to be of no use to the owners.
deep waters--that is, "limpid," as deep waters are generally clear.
GROTIUS explains the image as referring to the usuries with which the
rich ground the poor
19. they eat--scantily.
20. fat . . . lean--the rich oppressors . . .
the humble poor.
21. scattered them abroad--down to the time of the carrying away to
22. After the restoration from Babylon, the Jews were delivered in
some degree from the oppression, not only of foreigners, but also of
their own great people
The full and final fulfilment of this prophecy is future.
23. set up--that is, raise up by divine appointment; alluding to the
declaration of God to David, "I will set up thy seed after thee"
and, "Yet have I set My king on My holy hill of Zion"
Ac 2:30; 13:23).
one shepherd--literally, "a Shepherd, one": singularly and
pre-eminently one: the only one of His kind, to whom none is
The Lord Jesus refers to this prophecy
"I am THE Good Shepherd." Also "one" as uniting in
one the heretofore divided kingdoms of Israel and Judah, and also
"gathering together in one all things in Christ, both which are in
heaven and on earth"
thus healing worse breaches than that between Israel and Judah
"God by Him reconciling all things unto Himself, whether things in
earth or in heaven."
David--the antitypical David, Messiah, of the seed of David, which
no other king after the captivity was: who was fully, what David was
only in a degree, "the man after God's own heart." Also, David means
beloved: Messiah was truly God's beloved Son
Shepherd means King, rather than religious instructor; in this
pre-eminently He was the true David, who was the Shepherd King
(Lu 1:32, 33).
Messiah is called "David" in
Isa 55:3, 4;
24. my servant--implying fitness for ruling in the name of God, not
pursuing a self-chosen course, as other kings, but acting as the
faithful administrator of the will of God; Messiah realized fully this
(Ps 40:7, 8;
Isa 42:1; 49:3, 6; 53:11;
which David typically and partially represented
so He is the fittest person to wield the world scepter, abused by all
the world kings
(Da 2:34, 35, 44, 45).
25. covenant of peace . . . evil beasts . . . to cease . . . dwell
safely--The original promise of the law
shall be realized for the first time fully under Messiah
(Isa 11:6-9; 35:9;
26. them and the places round about my hill--The Jews, and Zion,
are to be sources of blessing, not merely to themselves, but to the
(Isa 19:24; 56:6, 7; 60:3;
The literal fulfilment is, however, the primary one, though the
spiritual also is designed. In correspondence with the settled reign of
righteousness internally, all is to be prosperity externally,
fertilizing showers (according to the promise of the ancient covenant,
and productive trees and lands
Thus shall they realize the image of
namely, a flock richly pastured by God Himself.
27. served themselves of them--availed themselves of their services,
as if the Jews were their slaves
(Jer 22:13; 25:14;
28. dwell safely--
29. plant of renown--Messiah, the "Rod" and "Branch"
the "righteous Branch"
who shall obtain for them "renown." FAIRBAIRN less
probably translates, "A plantation for a name," that is, a flourishing
condition, represented as a garden (alluding to Eden,
with its various trees, good for food and pleasant to the sight), the
planting of the Lord
(Isa 60:21; 61:3),
and an object of "renown" among the heathen.
31. ye my flock . . . are men--not merely an explanation of the image,
as JEROME represents. But as God had promised many things which mere
"men" could not expect to realize, He shows that it is not from man's might their
realization is to be looked for, but from GOD, who would
perform them for His covenant-people, "His flock"
we realize most our weakness and God's power and faithfulness to His
covenant, we are in the fittest state for receiving His blessings.