on Zechariah 11 :7
And I wilt feed the flock of slaughter - I showed them what God had revealed to me relative to the evils coming upon the land; and I did this the more especially for the sake of the poor of the flock.
Two staves - Two shepherd's crooks. One I called Beauty - that probably by which they marked the sheep; dipping the end into vermillion, or some red liquid. And this was done when they were to mark every tenth sheep, as it came out of the field, when the tithe was to be set apart for the Lord.
The other I called Bands - Probably that with the hook or crook at the head of it, by which the shepherd was wont to catch the sheep by the horns or legs when he wished to bring any to hand.
And I fed the flock - These two rods show the beauty and union of the people, while under God as their Shepherd. It was the delight of God to see them in a state of peace and harmony.
on Zechariah 11 :7
The prophetic narrative which follows, differs in its form, in some respects, from the symbolical actions of the prophets and from Zechariah's own visions. The symbolical actions of the prophets are actions of their own: this involves acts, which it would be impossible to represent, except as a sort of drama. Such are the very central points, the feeding of the flock, which are still intelligent people who understand God's doings: the cutting off of the three shepherds; the asking for the price; the unworthy price offered; the casting it aside. It differs from Zechariah's own visions, in that they are for the most part exhibited to the eye, and Zechariah's own part is simply to enquire their meaning and to learn it, and to receive further revelation. In one case only, he himself interposes in the action of the vision Zechariah 3:1-10 :15; but this too, as asking that it might be done, not, as himself doing it. Here, he is himself the actor, yet as representing Another, who alone could cut off shepherds, abandon the people to mutual destruction, annulling the covenant which He had made. Maimonides, then, seems to say rightly; : "This, "I fed the flock of the slaughter," to the end of the narrative, where he is said to have asked for his hire, to have received it, and to have cast it into the temple, to the treasurer, all this Zechariah saw in prophetic vision. For the command which he received, and the act which he is said to have done, took place in prophetic vision or dream." "This," he adds, "is beyond controversy, as all know, who are able to distinguish the possible from the impossible."
Osorius: "The actions, presented to the prophets are not always to be understood as actions but as predictions. As when God commands Isaiah, to make the heart of the people dull Isaiah 6:10 that is, to denounce to the people their future blindness, through which they would, with obstinate mind, reject the mercies of Christ. Or when He says, that He appointed Jeremiah Jer 1:10 to destroy and to build; to root out and to plant. Or when He commanded the same prophet to cause the nations to drink the cup, whereby they should be bereft of their senses (Jeremiah 25:15 ff), Jeremiah did nothing of all this, but asserted that it would be. So here."
And I will feed the flock of the slaughter - Rather And (our, so) "I fed." The prophet declares, in the name of our Lord, that He did what the Father commanded Him. He fed the flock, committed to His care by the Father, who, through their own obstinacy, became "the flock of slaughter." What could be done, He did for them; so that all might see that they perished by their own fault. The symbol of our Lord, as the Good Shepherd, had been made prominent by Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, "Behold the Lord will come, as a Mighty One - He shall feed His flock like a shepherd: He shall gather the lambs with His arm and carry them in His bosom: He shall gently lead those that are with young" Isaiah 40:10-11. And Jeremiah, having declared God's judgments on the then shepherds Jeremiah 23:2, "I will gather the remnant of My flock out of all countries whither I have driven them, and will bring them again to their fold; and they shall be fruitful and increase. And I will set up shepherds over them which shall feed them. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a king shall reign and prosper - and this is the name whereby He shall be called, the Lord our Righteousness" Jeremiah 23:3-6. And Ezekiel with the like context Ezekiel 34:1-21; "Therefore will I save My flock and they shall be no more a prey; and I will judge between cattle and cattle. And I will set One Shepherd over them, and He shall feed them: My servant David, He shall feed them; and He shall be their Shepherd" Ezekiel 34:22-23; and, uniting both offices, "David, My servant, shall be king over them, and they shall all have One Shepherd" Ezekiel 37:24. It was apparent then beforehand, who this Shepherd was to be, to whom God gave the feeding of the flock.
"Even 'you,' or 'for you, ye poor of the flock;' or, 'therefore,' being thus commanded, (fed I) the poor of the flock". The whole flock was committed to Him to feed. He had to seek out all "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" Matthew 10:6; Matthew 15:24. Dionysius: "He fed, for the time, the Jews destined to death, until their time should come;" the fruit of His labor was in the "little flock" Luke 12:32, "the faithful Jews who believed in Him, out of the people of the flock aforesaid, or the synagogue, who in the primitive Church despised all earthly things, leading a most pure life." So He says, "I will feed My flock and I will cause them to lie down, saith the Lord God: I will seek that which was lost, and bring again that which was driven away, and will bind that which was broken, and will strengthen that which was sick: but I will destroy the fat and the strong, I will feed them with judgment" Ezekiel 34:15-16.
The elect are the end of all God's dispensations. He fed all; yet the fruit of His feeding, His toils, His death, the travail of His soul, was in those only who are saved. So Paul says, "Therefore I endure all things for the elect's sakes, that they may also obtain the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory" 2 Timothy 2:10. He fed all; but the "poor of the flock" alone, those who were despised of men, because they would not follow the pride of the high priests and scribes and Pharisees, believed on Him, as they themselves say, "Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed on Him?" John 12:48, and Paul says, "Not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble are called; but God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things that are mighty; and base things of the world, and things despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are" 1 Corinthians 1:26-28.
And I took unto Me two - (shepherd's) staves as David says, "Thy rod and Thy staff they comfort me" Psalm 23:4. "The one I called Beauty or Loveliness" , as the Psalmist longs to "behold the beauty or loveliness" of God in His temple Psalm 27:4, and says; let "the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us" Psalm 90:17.
And the other I called Bands - Literally, "Binders" . The one staff represents the full favor and loving-kindness of God; when this was broken, there yet remained the other, by which they were held together as a people in covenant with God. "And I fed the flock." This was the use of his staves; He tended them with both, ever putting in exercise toward them the loving beauty and grace of God, and binding them together and with Himself.
on Zechariah 11 :7
11:7 Bands - The beauty of grace and glory, the bands of love and peace.