New Defender's Study Bible Notes
11:7 two staves. The ancient Semitic shepherd commonly had two staves, one for driving off wild beasts attacking his flock, the other to help guide the sheep through difficult places. This Good Shepherd, however, cares for His sheep with a staff named “Beauty” (literally “grace,” by which He keeps them safe from their enemies) and one named “Bands” (by which He keeps His true flock united in Him).
11:8 Three shepherds. Many speculations have been published concerning the identity of these false shepherds. Since the primary context of this section (Zechariah 9–11) centers in the first coming of Messiah, His rejection, and His triumphant second coming (note especially Zechariah 9:9-10; 11:12-13), especially as these events affect Israel, they most likely represent Jewish leaders who have led their people away from the true God and His Christ. Since there were three groups of such leaders—prophets (or teachers), priests, and kings—the false shepherds probably represent false prophets, false priests and false kings. Israel and Judah have had an abundance of each, especially around the time of Christ. In fact, they were responsible, humanly speaking, for having Him crucified.
11:8 one month. The suddenness of the “cutting off” of these false shepherds probably refers prophetically to the destruction of the temple and the city of Jerusalem by the Romans, followed by the age-long dispersion of the Jewish people over all the world, climaxed in A.D. 135. There have been no Jewish prophets, priests or kings since (note Hosea 3:4). This evidently is also the dominant theme of the first six verses of this chapter. Even though the restoration of the temple had been completed and some were hoping the Messianic age was about to begin, Zechariah could foresee through divine inspiration that the true Shepherd of Israel would be rejected and His flock would be scattered (Zechariah 13:7).
11:10 cut it asunder. The Shepherd had made a covenant with the Gentiles (in this verse, “people” is plural) not to harm Israel while they served the true God. This covenant of gracious protection was finally broken after repeated rebellion, climaxed by Israel’s rejection of their Messiah.
11:12 thirty pieces of silver. For the fulfillment of this remarkable prophecy five hundred years later, see Matthew 26:14-16. “Thirty pieces of silver” was the value placed on the fatal goring of a man’s slave by his neighbor’s ox (Exodus 21:32). The value of this divine Servant to His nation was greater than the wealth of the entire world, yet its leaders appraised His death as worth only the price of a dead slave.
11:13 a goodly price. This is spoken in sarcasm, Zechariah acting out this visual prophecy and contemptuously rejecting the insulting price at which His shepherding ministry had been valued, speaking, of course, in the name of the true Shepherd who would come some day to His people, as described in Zechariah 9:9.
11:13 cast them to the potter. In addition to the price itself, the disposition of this blood money was also accurately foretold. See Matthew 27:3-10, where the prophecy is attributed to Jeremiah (for the reason for this seeming “mistake,” see the note on Matthew 27:9).
11:17 idol shepherd. Because Israel will reject her Good Shepherd, God will send a foolish shepherd (Zechariah 11:15) who will seek to destroy them (Zechariah 11:16). He becomes an “idol” shepherd by demanding they worship him instead of the true Shepherd (Matthew 24:15-16; II Thessalonians 2:3-4; Revelation 13:14-15). He is, of course, the Beast, or Antichrist.