on Zechariah 13 :7
Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd - This is generally understood of Jesus Christ. The sword is that of Divine justice which seemed to have been long asleep, and should long ago have struck either Man, or his Substitute, the Messiah. Jesus is here called God's Shepherd, because he had appointed him to feed and govern, as well as to save, the whole lost world. This is a prosopopoeia, and the address to the sword is very poetic. There is a fine passage in Aeschylus to the same effect: -
Ξενος δε κληροις επινωμᾳ,
Χαλυβος Σκυθων αποικας,
Πικρος, ωμοφρων σιδαρος,
Χθονα ναιειν διαπηλας
Ὁποσαν αν και φθιμενοισι κατεχειν,
Των μεγαλων πεδιων αμοιροις,
Aeschyl. Sept. cont. Hebrews 733.
"The rude barbarian, from the mines
Of Scythia, o'er the lots presides;
Ruthless to each his share assigns,
And the contested realm divides:
To each allots no wider a domain
on Zechariah 13 :7
Awake, O sword - So Jeremiah apostrophises the sword, "O thou sword of the Lord, when wilt thou be quiet?" Jeremiah 47:6. The prophets express what "will be," by a command that it should be; "Make the heart of this people heavy" Isaiah 6:10. But by this command he signifies that human malice, acting freely, could do no more than His "Hand and" His "counsel determined before to be done" Acts 4:28. The envy and hatred of Satan, the blind fury of the chief priests, the contempt of Herod, the guilty cowardice of Pilate, freely accomplished that Death, which God had before decreed for the salvation of the world. The meaning then is, (Ribera), "the sword shall be aroused against My Shepherd, that is, I will allow Him to be smitten by the Jews. But by 'the sword' he designates death, persecution, wounding etc. as above, the 'sword upon his right arm' Zechariah 11:17, and, where the passion of Christ is spoken of, 'Deliver my soul from the sword' Psalm 22:20. So also, 'All the sinners of the people shall die by the sword' Amos 9:10," (Jerome), "which cannot be taken literally; for many sinners perish by shipwreck, poison, drowning, fire." Amos then "so spake, because many died by war, yet not all by the sword, but others by pestilence and famine, all which he includes under 'the sword' Amos 9:10. This smiting began, when the Lord was taken, and His sheep began to be scattered; but the prophecy which, before, was being gradually fulfilled, was fully fulfilled in His death, and the apostles were dispersed till the day of the Resurrection at eventide."
Against the Man, My Fellow - that is, One united by community of nature. A little before, God had spoken of Himself as priced at "the thirty pieces of silver," yet as breaking the covenant which He had made with all nations for His people; as "pierced through, yet as pouring the spirit of grace and supplication" on those who pierced Him, that they should mourn their deed, and as, thereon, ever cleansing them from sin. As Man, God was sold, was pierced. : "God, in flesh, not working with aught intervening as in the prophets, but having taken to Him a Manhood connatural with Himself and made one, and through His flesh akin to us, drawing up to Him all humanity. What was the manner of the Godhead in flesh? As fire in iron, not transitively but by communication. For the fire does not dart into the iron, but remains there and communicates to it of its own virtue, not impaired by the communication, yet filling wholly its recipient."
The bold language of the Fathers only expressed the actuality of the Incarnation. Since the Manhood was taken into God, and in Him dwelt all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and God and Man were one Christ. then was it all true language. His Body was "the Body of God" ; His flesh "the flesh of the Word" ; and it was lawful to speak of "the flesh of the Deity" , of "the Passion of the Word" , "the Passion of Christ, my God" , "the Passion of God" , "God dead and buried" , "God suffered" , "murderers of God" , "the Godhead dwelt in the flesh bodily, which is all one with saying that, being God, He had a proper body, and using this as an instrument, He became Man for our sakes, and, because of this, things proper to the flesh are said to be His, since He was in it, as hunger, thirst, suffering, fatigue and the like, of which the flesh is capable, while the works proper to the Word Himself as raising the dead and restoring the blind, He did through His own Body," is but a continuance of the language of Zechariah, since He who was sold, was priced, was Almighty God. Jesus being God and Man, the sufferings of His Humanity were the sufferings of God, although, as God, He could not suffer.
Now, conversely, God speaks of the Shepherd who was slain, as "My Fellow," united in Nature with Himself, although not the Manhood of Jesus which suffered, but the Godhead, united with It in one Person, was Consubstantial with Himself. The name might perhaps be most nearly represented by "connatural." : "When then the title is employed of the relation of an individual to God, it is clear that that individual can be no mere man, Jut must be one, united with God by unity of Being. The Akin of the Lord is no, other than He who said in the Gospel "I and My Father are One" John 10:30, and who is designated as "the Only-Begotten Son, who is in the Bosom of the Father" John 1:18. The word, it seems, was especially chosen, as being used in the Pentateuch, only in the laws against injuring a fellow-man. The prophet thereby gives prominence to the seeming contradiction between the command of the Lord, "Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd," and those Of His own law, whereby no one is to injure his fellow.
He thus points out the greatness of that end, for the sake of which the Lord regards not that relation, whose image among men He commanded to be kept holy. He speaks after the manner of people. He calls attention to the greatness of that sacrifice, whereby He "spared not His own Son, but freely gave Him up for us all" Romans 8:32. The word 'Man' forms a sort of contrast with "My Fellow." He whom the sword is to reach must unite the Human Nature with the divine." Jews too have seen that the words, "My Fellow," imply an equality with God; only since they own not Him, who was God and Man, they must interpret it of a false claim on the part of man , overlooking that it is given Him by God.
And I will turn My hand o upon the little ones - Doing to them as He had done to the Shepherd. So our Lord forewarned them: "If they have persecuted Me they will also persecute you" John 15:20 : "If the world hate you, ye know that it hated Me, before it hated you" John 15:18 : "Ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake" Matthew 10:22; Luke 21:17 : "they will deliver you up to the councils and scourge you in the synagogues; and ye shall be brought before governors and kings for My name's sake" (Matthew 10:17-18; add Luke 21:12): "they shall deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all men for My name's sake" Matthew 24:9; and to the Scribes and Pharisees, "I send unto you prophets and wise men and scribes, and some of them ye shall kill and crucify, and some of them shall ye scourge in your synagogues and persecute them from city to city, that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth" Matthew 23:34-35.
The little ones - As Jeremiah speaks of "the least of the flock" Jeremiah 49:20, and the Lord said, "fear not, little flock" Luke 12:32, little and weak in itself but mighty in Him and in His grace. Three centuries of persecution, alike in the Roman empire and beyond it in Persia, fulfilled the prophet's words and deepened the foundation of the Church and cemented its fabric.
on Zechariah 13 :7
13:7 O sword - Afflictions, persecutions, and the cross. My shepherd - Who is my faithful shepherd, and will lay down his life for my sheep. My fellow - This speaks Christ; man with us, and God with his father, God - man in one person. The shepherd - This great and good shepherd. Turn mine hand - God will turn his hand in favour, and for protection will keep the new, and weak disciples.