Zechariah 11:16. For lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land A shepherd, in the singular number, denotes a succession of such shepherds as are described in the following words. So a succession of priests is represented under the single person of Levi, Malachi 2:5-6. Since the Jews had rejected the true Shepherd, God threatens to send, or permit to arise, among them, such shepherds to rule or teach them as should be notorious for their negligence and avarice, their cruelty and oppression. This may be understood either of the blind guides of whom Christ speaks, and whose character he describes at large, Matthew 23:13-33; namely, the scribes and Pharisees, the priests and doctors of their law; or of the avaricious, tyrannical, and unmerciful princes, that should rule them with rigour, and make their own land as much a place of bondage to them as ever Egypt or Babylon had been. And when they had rejected him by whom princes decree justice, it was just that they should be given over into the power of those who should decree unrighteous decrees. It is probable, also, that there is a reference here to the false prophets and false Christs, which, as our Lord foretold, Matthew 24:5, should arise. Many such there were, who, by their seditious practices, provoked the Romans, and hastened on the ruin of the Jewish nation: but it is very remarkable that they were never deceived by a counterfeit Messiah till they had refused and rejected the true Messiah. The prophet proceeds to describe the character of these foolish shepherds, in the following words: 1st, They should be negligent; which shall not visit those that be cut off Or, as the LXX. render it, το εκλιμπανον , that which is missing, or has wandered from the flock; and it may signify that which is ready to perish. Neither shall seek the young one Which are most apt to perish through weakness; he alludes to the lambs which, on account of their tender age, are not able to follow the flock. Nor heal that which is broken Which has received some hurt, but shall leave it to die of its wounds. Nor feed that that standeth still Not able to go forward. Blayney renders the word, made to stand, or set up again after sickness. “Such,” says he,” it is well known, require much care to nourish and support them, in order to their regaining strength; a care which the foolish shepherd will not bestow upon them.” Or, as the LXX. render it, το ολοκληρον ου μη κατευθυνη , nor shall direct that which is whole, mentioned in opposition to those that wander, or are diseased. 2d, These shepherds would be luxurious; he shall eat the flesh of the fat That is, instead of preserving the best of his flock, in order to increase it, he kills them to indulge his own appetite: or, enriches himself by oppressing, or otherwise taking from those that are persons of property: like that wicked servant that said, My lord delays his coming, he eats and drinks with the drunken, serving his own belly. 3d, They are tyrannical and cruel to the flock. And tear their claws [or, as it ought to be rendered, break their hoofs ] in pieces This implies the same as when it is said ( Eze 34:4 ) of such shepherds, With force and with cruelty have ye ruled them. The unwise shepherd, instead of being tender and gentle with his flock, is supposed to drag them about with his iron crook, or to over-drive them in rough and stony ground, so as to break their hoofs. Or, he imposes burdens and hardships upon them that they are unable to bear. Upon the whole, a sluggish, negligent, covetous, riotous, oppressive, and cruel government, priesthood, or ministry, is here shadowed out by a foolish shepherd.
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