Rejection of the Good ShepherdZechariah 11:1-17Theme: Unbelief.This week’s lessons remind us of the danger of denying the Savior. LessonNot a few commentators content themselves with general statements about the passage, suggesting that it may refer to any future invasion of Israel by Gentile powers. But if the previous chapters were as specific as I have tried to indicate in my exposition – that is, if Zechariah 9:1-8 refers to the invasion of the land by Alexander the Great, and if Zechariah 9:11-13 (and perhaps some of the following verses) refers to the wars of the Maccabees – then we are probably right in expecting a specific historical reference for this passage also. What can it be? The only real possibility is the destruction of Jerusalem and the surrounding towns by the Roman armies in the war of a.d. 66-70.
The story is told at length in Josephus’ The Jewish War. For years before, the country had been in turmoil, various small skirmishes against the existing authorities being commonplace. But at last revolutionaries gained control of Jerusalem and massacred the Roman garrison that had been stationed there. The year was a.d. 66. In the next year the general Vespasian, who was dispatched by Nero, arrived in Antioch from which he moved first against the fortified towns of Galilee, subduing or arranging the surrender of each, and then against Jerusalem.
In a.d. 68 Nero died, and after a considerable delay Vespasian was proclaimed the new emperor. He returned to Rome leaving his second-in-command, Titus, to carry on the war. By this time Jerusalem was host to three rival factions. These made negotiations with the Romans impossible and greatly intensified the coming tragedy. Jerusalem was surrounded. Food was cut off. People starved, some even resorting to cannibalism. Steadily the Romans broke through wall after wall, defense after defense. The defenders were driven back to the temple. On July 17, a.d. 70, the daily sacrifices came to an end for lack of men to offer them. At last the gates of the temple were burned and then the temple itself. Thousands were crucified. The victorious Titus set up Roman standards in the temple court and then returned to Rome to celebrate his triumph. It was a.d. 71. Through this great war and a later series of rebellions and reprisals, Judaism ceased to exist politically and the Jewish people were widely scattered throughout the known world. Study Questions
To what historical event does this section of Zechariah refer?
How did Judaism cease to exist politically by a.d. 71?
Further StudyFind and read Josephus’ The Jewish War.
ApplicationEntrust the most difficult aspects of your life to God today.