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    11 Eternal One: Open your gates, O Lebanon;
        let the fire in to destroy your cedars!
    Wail, O cypress, for the cedars have fallen
        and their glory lies smoldering in the dust.
    Wail, stately oaks of Bashan,
        for your thick forest lies on the ground!
    Listen to the shepherds in the land,
        wailing for their power and splendor that lies smoldering in the dust!
    Listen to the roar of the lions,
        the pride of the Jordan that lies smoldering in the dust!

One of the most beautiful and pervasive images in prophetic poetry and praise psalms is that of the good shepherd. It’s an appropriate and recognizable image for such a pastoral people. The Eternal One, the psalm says, is the Shepherd (Psalm 23). The Anointed King also comes to shepherd His people. But there are wicked shepherds, too; self-appointed and self-interested, they use and abuse the people.

The Eternal my God has this to say:

Eternal One: Take care of the flock headed for slaughter. The people who buy My sheep kill them without repercussion. Their sellers mockingly say, “I’m rich. Praise the Eternal One!” Even their own shepherds have no mercy on them. Because of this I promise that I, the Eternal One, will no longer show pity to the citizens of this land. Instead, I will hand each one over to his neighbor, each one over to his king. Those power mongers will oppress them and abuse the land, and I will do nothing to free the sheep.

And so I became the shepherd of the sheep headed for slaughter because of the poorest sheep. I took two staffs in my hand—one I named Favor of God and the other I named Unity of the People. With those I took care of the sheep. In the span of one month, I expelled three shepherds who cared nothing for the sheep. I had become tired of the way they have cared for my flock, and they have cared nothing for me.

Zechariah (to the sheep): I will watch over you no longer. Those who are meant to die will die. Those who are meant to perish will perish. Whoever is left behind will devour his neighbor!

10 Then I took my staff named Favor of God, and I snapped it in half, dissolving the covenant I had made with all the people. 11 On that very day when the covenant was broken, the sheep traders[a] watching me knew it was the word of the Eternal One.

Zechariah (to the sheep traders): 12 If you think it is right, give me what I have earned. If you don’t, then keep it for yourselves.

They took 30 pieces of silver, the price set as my wages, the price of a slave.

Eternal One (to Zechariah): 13 Give My deserved portion of your fee to the potter.

And I did as He told me. I took the 30 shekels of silver—the noble price of my valuable service—and gave them to the potter in the Eternal’s temple.[b] 14 Afterward I broke my other staff, Unity of the People, which severed the bond between the people of Judah and Israel.

Eternal One (to Zechariah): 15 Take up once again the tools of a shepherd, this time a foolish shepherd, 16 because I am going to raise up in this land a new breed of shepherd: one who does not care for the perishing, search for the young, heal the injured, or feed the hungry. This new shepherd will feast on the fat from his own flock, tearing their hoofs from their flesh.

17     Watch out, worthless shepherd who abandons the flock!
        You will be made defenseless.
    May the sword strike his right arm
        and pierce his right eye!
    May his arm hang limp at his side so he has no strength,
        and may his right eye be forever blinded so he can’t shoot an arrow!


  1. 11:11 Hebrew manuscripts read, “poorest sheep.”
  2. 11:13 Matthew 27:9–10

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