Bible Commentary: Zechariah 10:2-12

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Zechariah 10:2-12

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Israel and Judah Saved

As verse 1 of chapter 10 stated, God's people are to pray to Him for their blessings--and He will abundantly provide. Yet Israel has often failed to seek God--looking vainly to idols, fortunetellers and other occultists for guidance. Interestingly, this situation did not characterize the Jews of Judea in the time of Zechariah. But it did aptly describe the far-flung scattered Israelites--as it still does today.

Indeed, psychics, astrologers and mediums remain popular. That's because "there is no shepherd" (verse 2)--that is, there is no adequate leadership among the people. The "shepherds" with whom God is angry in verse 3 may be a reference to false spiritual leaders such as the occult practitioners mentioned. It could also simply denote those who have failed to lead the people so as to keep them away from such evil. However, based on what follows in the next verses, the shepherds here could be foreign oppressors. "While Israel lacked national leadership, there were plenty of tyrants seeking to rule God's people" (Nelson Study Bible, note on verse 3). These are also referred to in the same verse as "goatherds" in the NKJV--"goats" in the KJV.

The Lord will make Judah as His royal warhorse against the oppressing enemy nations (verses 3). This will be accomplished through His coming as Israel's long-awaited, much-needed Shepherd, the Messiah. "The cornerstone, the battle bow, and the nail [or tent peg] are figures of the Messiah to represent His qualities of stability, dependability, and strength. The cornerstone speaks of the ruler or leader on whom the building of government rests figuratively. (See Judges 20:2; 1 Samuel 14:38; and Isaiah 19:13.) It is a well-known symbol of the Messiah. (Cp. 1 Corinthians 3:11 and 1 Peter 2:6, quoting Isaiah 28:16.) The nail [or peg] refers to the large peg in an Oriental [i.e., Middle Eastern] tent on which were hung many valuables. On the Messiah will rest the hope and trust of His people. He will be the worthy support of the nation, the altogether dependable One, the true Eliakim. (Note Isaiah 22:23-24 [and the Beyond Today Bible Commentary on these verses].) The battle-bow stands for all implements of war and might. Messiah is the great military commander of His people; He is the Man of war (Exodus 15:3). This will be clearly and openly manifest when He comes to rule (Psalm 45:4-5)" (Charles Feinberg, The Minor Prophets, p. 321).

With Jesus Christ's help, the Jews will overcome their enemies in the battle-infantry overcoming cavalry (verse 5), perhaps in an end-time setting signifying men on foot overcoming those in war vehicles such as tanks and the like.

Verse 6 again makes the end-time setting clear, as we see here the deliverance and return of the house of Joseph--representative of all the northern tribes of Israel. In verse 7, the name of Joseph's son Ephraim is used in the same sense. God says He will "whistle" for His scattered people (verse 8), thus continuing the figure of the shepherd--signaling his flock.

God will bring His people back to their land--Gilead (east of the Jordan) and Lebanon (west of the Jordan) both being in the area of the former northern kingdom (verse 10). Lebanon could also denote the whole Promised Land (compare Joshua 1:4). God will deliver the Israelites from their end-time captivity in Egypt and Assyria (verse 10)--enabling those returning from the south to miraculously cross the Red Sea again on dry ground and those from the north to cross the Euphrates River in like manner (verse 11). Some identify "the River" here as the Nile, but this moniker is typically applied in the Old Testament to the Euphrates--the northern boundary of the Promised Land. The mention of Assyria in context makes this even more likely. These same events are described in Isaiah 11:11-16. Note particularly that Assyria again will be a national power in the last days (see Zechariah 10:11). As the representative northern power of the end time, the Assyrians will evidently constitute part of the final European empire known as Babylon. The scepter of Egypt departing may parallel the defeat of the final king of the South in Daniel 11. Yet,since Egypt is also figurative of this world of sin and captivity in general, this could denote the rule of sin and Satan coming to an end.

Israel, God tells us in Zechariah 10:12, will at last walk in His ways as His fitting representatives. Notice in this verse that the "LORD" (the Eternal) is referring to another as the "LORD"--that is, God the Word (who would become Jesus Christ) is referring to God the Father.