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Commentary On Zechariah Malachi by Jean Calvin

Zechariah 11:9

9. Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

9. Et dixi, Non pascan vos; quod morti devotum est, moriatur; et quod succisioni devotum est, succidatur; et quae residuae erunt, devorent unaquaeque carnem sociae suae.

God now declares what had been briefly mentioned before, -- that his judgment could not be deemed cruel, for the people had been extremely wicked, and their wickedness deserved extreme punishment. It seems indeed to be a simple narrative; but God here defends his own cause, for he had tried all means in ruling the people, before he had recourse to extreme rigor. Who indeed could now murmur against God? for he had been ever ready to undertake the office of a shepherd, and had so humbled himself as to take care of that people as his own flock, and had, in short, omitted no kind of attention; and yet he had been despised by that people, and even treated with derision. It was therefore an extreme indignity when they hated God, who had yet dealt with them with so much kindness. We hence see that God's judgment is here vindicated from every calumny; for the wickedness of the people was altogether inexcusable before God had renounced his care of them.

I said: the time must be noticed, for he intimates that he had not been too hasty in taking vengeance; but that as there was no longer any remedy, he had been constrained, as it were by necessity, to give up his office of a shepherd. I said then, I will not feed you; what is to die, let it die; what is to be cut off, let it be cut off He here resigns his office of a shepherd, and intimates that he was innocent and free from all blame, whatever might happen. A shepherd is set over a flock for this purpose, -- that he may defend it, even every sheep, both against the depredations of robbers, and the rapacity of wolves: but when he gives up his office, he is exempt from all blame, though afterwards the flock may be stolen or devoured by wolves and wild beasts. God then here openly declares, that it was not to be imputed to him, if the Jews perished a hundred times, for they refused to be ruled by him, and thus he was freed from the pastoral charge. What then is to perish, let it perish; that is, |Since they are not healable, and allow no remedy to be applied to their evils, I leave them; they shall find out what it is to be without a good shepherd.|

We now see more clearly what I before stated, -- that the wickedness and ingratitude of the people are here reproved, because they had rejected God, who was ready to be their shepherd, -- and that the cause of the ruin which was nigh at hand, was in the Jews themselves, though they anxiously tried, but in vain, to transfer it to another.

He concludes with these words, And those which remain, even those who shall escape external attacks, let them eat one another, since they are not now sheep, but savage wild beasts. And this we know has been fulfilled; for the Jews at length perished through mutual discords, and no one spared his own brother; nay, the nearer the relationship, the more cruelly each raged against the other. Hence God's judgment, denounced by the Prophet, then appeared most openly, when the Jews perished through intestine broils and even slaughters. It then follows --

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