7. And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.
7. Et pavi gregem occisionis, nempe (vel, ideoque) pauperes gregis: et sumpsi mihi duas virgas, unam vocavi Elegantiam (vel, Pulchritudinem;) et alteram vocavi Funiculos (alii vertunt, Perditores; de hac voce dicemus;) et pavi gregem.
He resumes here the thread of the discourse, which he had shortly before broken off; for he sets forth what had not yet been sufficiently expressed -- that the ingratitude of the people, with which obstinacy was especially united, deserved entire ruin, and that now there was no hope of pardon; for the paternal care of God had been most basely and most shamefully repudiated, as well as the kind favor which he had manifested to the people.
God then complains that he fed the flock. Some apply this to Zechariah; but, as I have said, God relates the acts of kindness which he had uniformly showed to the people, until they became wholly unworthy of his favor. Let us however remember that the Prophet speaks of the remnant; for he does not here recount the benefits of God in ancient times, but describes the state of the people after their return from their exile in Babylon. God seemed before to have committed this office to Zechariah -- to feed them; but as I have already said, the design of that was no other than to make it evident that the whole fault was in the people; for they had thrust from them the kindness of God, and in a manner carried on war frowardly with God, so as to prevent any access for his favor. There is therefore here an expostulation in God's name.
I have fed, he says, the flock of slaughter, even the poor of the flock. Some render lkn, on account of; but it may be taken in an explanatory sense: or we may give this rendering -- |therefore the poor,| or, especially the poor. With regard to the meaning, God here intimates that he had manifested his care for the whole people, for he had hoped that there were a few sheep yet remaining worthy of having mercy shown to them. As then some poor sheep might have been found among the impure flock, God says, that having this hope, he did not deem it grievous or burdensome to undertake the office of a shepherd in ruling the people. I have then fed the flock of slaughter, even for this reason, he says, because there were some miserable sheep among them: I was therefore unwilling to forsake them, and preferred to try all means rather than to cast away even one little sheep, provided a single one were found in the whole flock.
He says that he took two rods, that he called one nm, nom, |Beauty,| and that he called the other chvlym, chebelim, |Cords,| rendered |destroyers| by those who adhere to the Hebrew points; but as chvl, both in the singular and plural, has the meaning of a rope or cord, the Prophet, I have no doubt, means by chvlym, chebelim, ropes or bindings. Grammar, indeed, does not allow this; but Zechariah did not set down the points, for they were not then in use. I indeed know with how much care the old scribes contrived the points, when the language had already ceased to be in common use. They then who neglect, or wholly reject the points, are certainly void of all judgment and reason; but yet some discrimination ought to be exercised; for if we read here |destroyers,| there is no meaning; if we read |cords,| there is no letter changed, but only two points are altered. As then the subject itself necessarily demands this meaning, I wonder that interpreters suffer themselves to be servilely constrained, so as not to regard the design of the Prophet.
The Prophet then says, that he had taken two rods, that he might devote himself in a manner not common to the office of a shepherd. Shepherds were satisfied with one crook; for by rods he means here the crook used by shepherds. As then every shepherd carried his own crook, the Prophet says here that he was furnished with two crooks, or pastoral staffs, because the Lord surpassed all men in his solicitude in the office of ruling his people. But the remainder I must defer until tomorrow.