5. But he shall say, I am no prophet, I am an husbandman; for man taught me to keep cattle from my youth.
5. Et dicet, Non sum ego propheta, vir agricola ego sum; quia Adam (vel, homo) docuit me pastorem esse e pueritia mea.
He describes repentance in this verse more fully. When Paul wished to exhort the faithful to newness of life, he said,
|Let him who has stolen, steal no more; but rather work with his own hands, that he may relieve the wants of others.|
Paul notices two parts of repentance, -- that thieves are to refrain from acts of dishonesty and wrong, -- and that they ought to labor in order to aid others and relieve their wants. So also Zechariah mentions these two particulars, -- that false prophets will give up their office, -- and that they will then spend their labor in doing what is right and just, supporting themselves in a lawful and innocent manner, and affording aid to their brethren.
Having spoken already of the former part, he repeats the same thing again, I am not a prophet. It is then the first thing in repentance, when they who had been previously the servants of Satan in the work of deception, cease to deal in falsehoods, and thus put an end to their errors. Now follows the progress, -- that they who lived before in idleness and in pleasures under the pretext of sanctity, willingly devote themselves to labor, and continue no longer idle and gluttonous as before, but seek to support themselves by just and lawful employment. It would not then have been enough for him to say, I am no prophet, had he not added, I am an husbandman; that is, I am prepared to labor, that I may support myself and aid my brethren.
A half reformation might probably succeed with many at this day. Were many monks sure that a rich mess would continue to them in their cloisters, and were also the milted bishops and abbots made certain that nothing of their gain and profit would be lost to them, they would easily grant a free course to the gospel. But the second part of reformation is very hard, which requires toil and labor: in this case the stomach has no ears, according to the old proverb. And yet we see what the Prophet says, -- that those are they who truly and from the heart repent, who not only abstain from impostures, but who are also ready to get their own living, acknowledging that they had before defrauded the poor, and procured their support by rapine and fraud.
The Prophet no doubt speaks of impostors, who were then numerous among the Jews; and there were also women who boasted that they were favored with a prophetic spirit; and the true prophets of God had to contend with these sorceresses or wise women, who had ever intruded themselves during a confused state of things, and undertook the office of teaching. As then there were at that time many idlers who lived on superstition, rightly does the Prophet send them away to cultivate the land. So at this day there are many brotherlings who hide their ignorance under their hood, and even all the papal clergy, under the sacred vestment, as they call it; and were they unmasked, it might easily be found out, that they are the most ignorant asses. Now, as the Lord has abundantly discovered their baseness, were they to acknowledge that they have been impostors, what would remain for them, but willingly to do what they are here taught? that is, to become husband men instead of being prophets.
As to the end of the verse, some retain the word Adam; others render it man; and generally the word Adam means man in Scripture. But they who think that Zechariah speaks of the first man, adduce this reason, -- that as this necessity of |eating his bread by the sweat of his face| (Genesis 3:9) was imposed on all mankind after the fall, so also all his posterity were thus taught by Adam their first parent; but this interpretation seems too far-fetched. I therefore take the word indefinitely; as though he had said, |I have not been taught by any master, so as to become capable to undertake the prophetic office; but I am acquainted only with agriculture, and have made such progress, that I can feed sheep and oxen; I am indeed by no means fit to take upon me the office of a teacher.| I take the passage simply in this sense.
With regard to the verb hqnny, ekenni, qnh, kene, means to possess, to acquire; but as the word mqnh, mekene, which signifies a flock of sheep or cattle, is derived from this verb, the most learned interpreters are inclined to give this meaning, |Man has taught me to possess sheep and oxen.| I am however disposed to give this rendering, as I have already stated, |Man has taught me to be a shepherd.|
The import of the whole is, -- that when God shall discover the ignorance, which would so prevail in the Church, as that the darkness of errors would extinguish as it were all the light of true religion, then they who repent shall become so humble, as to be by no means ashamed to confess their ignorance and to testify that they had been impostors as long as they had under a false pretense assumed the office of prophets. The Spirit of God then requires here this humility from all who had been for a time immersed in the dregs of falsehood, that when they find that they are not fit to teach, they should say, |I have not been in school, I was wholly ignorant, and yet I wished to be accounted a most learned teacher; at that time the stupidity of the people veiled my disgrace: but now the light of truth has shone upon us, which has constrained me to feel ashamed; and therefore I confess that I am not worthy to be heard in the assembly, and I am prepared to employ my hands in labor and toil, that I may gain my living, rather than to deceive men any longer, as I have hitherto done.|