Zechariah 11

Here’s the finish to the famous oracle. As usual, I’m asking you to hear it like athletic competitors’ ‘trash talk’, given our cultural aversion to militarism. You know I’m ambivalent, given what we keep asking young Canadians in armed forces to do, and denying them support upon their return. Perhaps a bit of ‘trash talk’ was be better.

Zechariah takes on the role of shepherd, to show how it’s done, given yesterday’s consensus among us that it’s time to ‘throw the bums out’ who are currently our elites and experts. The flock is still doomed to slaughter – after all, these are not pet sheep. But who’s buying, and who’s profiteering? What kind of world is this dehumanizing?

Zechariah takes on the shepherd role to dismiss the bad shepherds. The meatpacking industry remains intact, and the prophet is not an animal rights activist – death, destruction, and mutual devouring will continue. Where does Zechariah – or you, or me, stand amidst it all? The prophets breaks Favour and Unity – and donates his bad pay to the temple treasury – his rate of pay does not define his value.

What’s next? God lets an even worse shepherd rise up. However, we do not owe legitimacy to that one…

1 Open your doors, O Lebanon, so that fire may devour your cedars!

2 Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, for the glorious trees are ruined! Wail, oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has been felled!

3 Listen, the wail of the shepherds, for their glory is despoiled! Listen, the roar of the lions, for the thickets of the Jordan are destroyed!

4 Thus said the LORD my God: Be a shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter.

5Those who buy them kill them and go unpunished; and those who sell them say, ‘Blessed be the LORD, for I have become rich’; and their own shepherds have no pity on them.

6For I will no longer have pity on the inhabitants of the earth, says the LORD. I will cause them, every one, to fall each into the hand of a neighbour, and each into the hand of the king; and they shall devastate the earth, and I will deliver no one from their hand.

7 So, on behalf of the sheep dealers, I became the shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter. I took two staffs; one I named Favour, the other I named Unity, and I tended the sheep.

8In one month I disposed of the three shepherds, for I had become impatient with them, and they also detested me.

9So I said, ‘I will not be your shepherd. What is to die, let it die; what is to be destroyed, let it be destroyed; and let those that are left devour the flesh of one another!’

10I took my staff Favour and broke it, annulling the covenant that I had made with all the peoples.

11So it was annulled on that day, and the sheep dealers, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the LORD.

12I then said to them, ‘If it seems right to you, give me my wages; but if not, keep them.’ So they weighed out as my wages thirty shekels of silver.

13Then the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it into the treasury’*— this lordly price at which I was valued by them. So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them into the treasury* in the house of the LORD.

14Then I broke my second staff Unity, annulling the family ties between Judah and Israel.

15 Then the LORD said to me: Take once more the implements of a worthless shepherd.

16For I am now raising up in the land a shepherd who does not care for the perishing, or seek the wandering,* or heal the maimed, or nourish the healthy,* but devours the flesh of the fat ones, tearing off even their hoofs.

17 Oh, my worthless shepherd, who deserts the flock! May the sword strike his arm and his right eye! Let his arm be completely withered, his right eye utterly blinded!