New English Translation
7 “Awake, sword, against my shepherd,
against the man who is my associate,”
says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
“Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered;[a]
I will turn my hand against the insignificant ones.
8 It will happen in all the land,” says the Lord,
“that two-thirds of the people[b] in it will be cut off and die,
but one-third will be left in it.[c]
9 Then I will bring the remaining third into the fire;
I will refine them like silver is refined
and will test them like gold is tested.
They will call on my name and I will answer;
I will say, ‘These are my people,’
and they will say, ‘The Lord is our God.’”[d]
- Zechariah 13:7 sn Despite the NT use of this text to speak of the scattering of the disciples following Jesus’ crucifixion (Matt 26:31; Mark 14:27), the immediate context of Zechariah suggests that unfaithful shepherds (kings) will be punished by the Lord precisely so their flocks (disobedient Israel) can be scattered (cf. Zech 11:6, 8, 9, 16). It is likely that Jesus drew on this passage merely to make the point that whenever shepherds are incapacitated, sheep will scatter. Thus he was not identifying himself with the shepherd in this text (the shepherd in the Zechariah text is a character who is portrayed negatively).
- Zechariah 13:8 tn The words “of the people” are supplied in the translation for clarity (cf. NCV, TEV, NLT).
- Zechariah 13:8 sn The fractions mentioned here call to mind the affliction of God’s people described by Ezekiel, though Ezekiel referred to his own times whereas Zechariah is looking forward to a future eschatological age. Ezekiel spoke of cutting his hair at God’s command (Ezek 5:1-4) and then of burning a third of it, striking a third with a sword, and scattering the rest. From this last third a few hairs would survive to become the nucleus of a new Israel. It is this “third” Zechariah speaks of (v. 9), the remnant who will be purified and reclaimed as God’s covenant people.
- Zechariah 13:9 sn The expression I will say ‘It is my people,’ and they will say ‘the Lord is our God’ is reminiscent of the restoration of Israel predicted by Hosea, who said that those who had been rejected as God’s people would be reclaimed and once more become his sons and daughters (Hos 2:23).