The Three Shepherds – 1

“And I cut off the three shepherds in one month…” Zechariah 11:8

Who are these mysterious three shepherds?

Theories abound, most prominently that the Lord refers to the offices of prophet, priest and king in first century Judah. Perhaps, as with Zechariah 14, the pattern of Israel’s feasts (as outlined in Leviticus 23) structures Zechariah 11. If you look carefully you will also see the Creation week.

Peace is taken from the Land as the destruction of the Temple (house of cedars) and Land are foretold. The cedars are the priest-elders and the lions are Judah’s kings.

The wolf shepherds who trade in Israel’s offspring will themselves be slaughtered without pity.

The three ringleading wolf shepherds are cut off as the un-covered firstborn of Egypt instead of being redeemed at “one month” with silver as Firstfruits for a renewed worship. The Lord Himself becomes the shepherd, but the flock rejects Him. He feeds the faithful remnant in preparation for slaughter and starves the rest. He is rejected and, like Moses, breaks the first staff of the Covenant: Favour.


After Joseph’s brothers, the theme of bad shepherds reappears frequently in the Old Testament.

Zechariah’s three bad shepherds are cut off at “one month,” which, along with the structure of the passage, is another clue to their identity. In Numbers 18, Aaron was instructed to redeem the firstborn of Israel’s sons and unclean animals with five shekels of silver when they were one month old. But the firstborn clean animals could be sacrificed and eaten by clean priests. Here, the Temple rulers have again turned Judah into Egypt. Jesus comes as Redeemer/Avenger, and they will be destroyed, but the faithful Firstfruits flock will be fattened on the bread of life ready to be sacrificed and ascend to God (Revelation 14).

There are specifically three bad shepherds, referring to the disobedience of Aaron and his two sons, and to Eli and his two sons. The priesthood had disobediently allowed their unclean “sons” to “buy” and “devour” the faithful as Firstfruits offerings. As priests covered by the wrong kind of innocent blood, the priests’ offspring themselves were unclean and would not be redeemed.
This theory is supported by what follows.

The watching flock recognise this as the Word. His worth is measured at thirty pieces of silver, the minimum price under the Law for a slave

The Great Shepherd Himself became a sheep in order to test Israel’s shepherds. In spite, they “redeemed” the true Firstborn with blood-money as a sinner or anunclean animal unfit for sacrifice.

This feast structure is used a great deal in the Bible, and Firstfruits is the feast where the priesthood draws near to God (as the third book, Leviticus corresponds to this feast). I believe this passage predicts that the corrupted priesthood of Aaron would no longer be able to draw near, but left behind in Herod’s Egypt (Revelation 11:8). They had offered “strange fire”, taken bribes, and slept with prostitutes in the face of God. Judah herself was the idolater, tax collector and harlot that refused to repent.

(This chapter is also related to the ‘Altar of the Abyss.’ I have commented on that here.)

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