The second part of the statement tells what God is going to do. He is going to make "Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding nations reeling" (v. 2). Jerusalem and the surrounding area of Judah will be besieged; this will be the time of Jacob's trouble. But out of that will come the judgment on the Gentile nations that the next verses describe. The cup is the cup of God's wrath or judgment (cf. Is. 51:17; Jer. 25:15-28, 49:12; Ezek. 23:31-34; Rev. 14:9-10, 16:19).

The oracle begins with a thematic statement in which God first identifies himself and then tells what he is going to do: "This is the word of the Lord concerning Israel. The Lord, who stretches out the heavens, who lays the foundation of the earth, and who forms the spirit of man within him, declares: ‘I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling’ " (vv. 1-2).

The last three chapters of Zechariah contain a second "oracle" or "burden" of the prophet, corresponding to the burden in chapters 9-11. This second oracle concerns "the judgment through which Israel itself is sifted and purged in the final conflict with the nations and transformed into the holy nation of Jehovah."1 The events of these last chapters belong to the same time period, as a careful reading shows. Characteristic of these chapters is a reiteration of the phrase "on that day."

In the last section (vv. 15-17) the prophet is given a second symbolic commission. Just as he had been told to represent the true shepherd in verses 7-14, so now is he to represent a false or wicked shepherd. The character of this man is described both negatively and positively. Negatively: "I am going to raise up a shepherd over the land who will not care for the lost, or seek the young, or heal the injured, or feed the healthy." (The Lord Jesus Christ had done precisely that. The words are a description of his ministry.) Positively: "...but will eat the meat of the choice sheep, tearing off their hoofs." (This shepherd uses the sheep selfishly for his benefit. Jesus gave himself for the sheep.)

Verse 11 may be a specific prophecy of an unusual event that took place during this siege. This verse speaks of God’s revoking the covenant of favor which had been established with the people, which is clear enough if the passage is referring to the destruction of Jerusalem and its temple. But then it goes on to say: "So the afflicted of the flock who were watching me knew it was the word of the Lord." These "afflicted of the flock" may be the Christians who were in Jerusalem at the time of the Roman siege.