The Meaning of Zechariah 11:8 Explained

Zechariah 11:8

KJV: Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

YLT: And I cut off the three shepherds in one month, and my soul is grieved with them, and also their soul hath abhorred me.

Darby: And I destroyed three shepherds in one month; and my soul was vexed with them, and their soul also loathed me.

ASV: And I cut off the three shepherds in one month; for my soul was weary of them, and their soul also loathed me.

What does Zechariah 11:8 Mean?

Verse Meaning

Zechariah , as God"s representative, did away with three shepherds that had been leading his flock within the first month that he took charge of the sheep. These appear to have been real shepherds and a real month. At least Zechariah"s action prefigured that of Messiah in taking over the leadership of His flock from other leaders of Israel who did not appreciate His leadership. Who these shepherds were or will be has been the subject of much debate. Some commentators identified specific kings, either Jewish or Gentile, who failed the Lord and were set aside before or during the siege of Jerusalem in A.D70. [1] History records little about the Jews between350,200 B.C. The three initial fulfillment shepherds could have lived then, but we may have no record of their activities. Other interpreters, including myself, believe the three shepherds refer to three classes of leaders, probably Israel"s elders, chief priests, and scribes (cf. Luke 9:22). [2] The Luke 9:22 reference is particularly significant since there Jesus named these three groups of leaders as those who would reject Him. Unger held that the one month was the time preceding the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, which sealed the fate of Israel. [2] Another view is that the shepherds represent all of Israel"s unfaithful human leaders. [4] Many commentators remarked on the difficulty of this verse, which Baldwin called "probably the most enigmatic in the whole Old Testament." [5] Over40 different interpretations of it appear in the commentaries.
It is also difficult to identify the antecedent of "them." Did Zechariah (Messiah) grow weary of the sheep (cf. Isaiah 1:13-14), and did they detest him? Another interpretation sees the antecedent of "them" to be the three groups of leaders (kings). Perhaps "them" refers generally to both the leaders and the sheep.

Context Summary

Zechariah 11:1-17 - Beauty And Bands
The times were very dark when Zechariah felt called upon to act as shepherd to Jehovah's harried flock. Rulers and priests were actuated by selfish greed and mutual antagonism. Three shepherds had already failed. After a brief effort Zechariah renounced the attempt. He broke his staff of Beauty, or Grace, Zechariah 11:10, r.v. margin, as if God's tender love had withdrawn from its struggle with evil; and when he challenged the people to set a value on his services, they weighed him out thirty pieces of silver, the price of a slave. Thereupon he broke the other staff, disrupting the brotherhood between Judah and Israel. In the following paragraph, Zechariah 11:15-17, there is an evident reference to the terrible reign of Antiochus whose cruelties led to the heroic uprising of the Maccabees. Five centuries afterwards Jesus was sent to gather the flock with the same result, Matthew 27:9-10. [source]

Chapter Summary: Zechariah 11

1  The destruction of Jerusalem
3  The elect being cared for, the rest are rejected
10  The staves of Beauty and Bands broken by the rejection of Christ
15  The type and curse of a foolish shepherd

What do the individual words in Zechariah 11:8 mean?

And I dismissed - three the shepherds in month one and loathed My soul them and also their soul abhorred me
וָאַכְחִ֛ד אֶת־ שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת הָרֹעִ֖ים בְּיֶ֣רַח אֶחָ֑ד וַתִּקְצַ֤ר נַפְשִׁי֙ בָּהֶ֔ם וְגַם־ נַפְשָׁ֖ם בָּחֲלָ֥ה בִֽי

וָאַכְחִ֛ד  And  I  dismissed 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Hifil, Consecutive imperfect, first person common singular
Root: כָּחַד  
Sense: to hide, conceal, cut off, cut down, make desolate, kick.
אֶת־  - 
Parse: Direct object marker
Root: אֹות 
Sense: sign of the definite direct object, not translated in English but generally preceding and indicating the accusative.
שְׁלֹ֥שֶׁת  three 
Parse: Number, masculine singular construct
Root: מִשְׁלֹשׁ 
Sense: three, triad.
הָרֹעִ֖ים  the  shepherds 
Parse: Article, Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: רָעָה 
Sense: to pasture, tend, graze, feed.
בְּיֶ֣רַח  in  month 
Parse: Preposition-b, Noun, masculine singular
Root: יֶרַח  
Sense: month (lunar cycle), moon.
אֶחָ֑ד  one 
Parse: Number, masculine singular
Root: אֶחָד  
Sense: one (number).
וַתִּקְצַ֤ר  and  loathed 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Qal, Consecutive imperfect, third person feminine singular
Root: קָצוּר 
Sense: to be short, be impatient, be vexed, be grieved.
נַפְשִׁי֙  My  soul 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, first person common singular
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
וְגַם־  and  also 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Conjunction
Root: גַּם  
Sense: also, even, indeed, moreover, yea.
נַפְשָׁ֖ם  their  soul 
Parse: Noun, feminine singular construct, third person masculine plural
Root: נֶפֶשׁ  
Sense: soul, self, life, creature, person, appetite, mind, living being, desire, emotion, passion.
בָּחֲלָ֥ה  abhorred 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Perfect, third person feminine singular
Root: בָּחַל 
Sense: to loathe, abhor, feel loathing.
בִֽי  me 
Parse: Preposition, first person common singular