(Zech. 13:7) Who is scattered?

CLAIM: God says, “Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, and against the man, My Associate… Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; and I will turn My hand against the little ones” (Zech. 13:7). Is this a messianic prediction?

RESPONSE: We think so for a number of reasons:

First, Jesus said that this referred to the disciples abandoning him. This strongly implies that it predicts Jesus in some fashion (Mt. 26:31, 56; Mk. 14:27, 50).

Second, the Good Shepherd is equal with God. Arnold Fruchtenbaum writes, “What is translated as ‘my associate’ is, in the Hebrew, ‘my equal.’ The verse should really read, ‘and against the man, my equal,’ and of course in order to be equal with God, Messiah must actually be God. This may not be obvious in English translations, but it is very clear in the original Hebrew.”[1] This obviously fits with Jesus’ self-designation (Jn. 10:30; 14:9). This also fits with God himself being “struck” (v.7) or “pierced” (Zech. 12:10).

Third, the reference to the Shepherd has been used throughout this section. Specifically, the reference is used in Zechariah 11:4-14 to refer to God’s messianic Good Shepherd.

OBJECTION: The original context of Zechariah refers to the twelve tribes of Israel at the end of human history—not the first century AD

The twelve disciples represented the believing Jewish remnant of twelve tribes. So while this passage refers to the nation at the end of human history, it could also be partially fulfilled in the disciples.

OBJECTION: Jesus didn’t die by a sword

The term “sword” (ere) is metaphorical for being “slaughtered” or facing a “violent end.”[2] A similar usage can be found in Psalm 22:20.

[1] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold G. Messianic Christology: a Study of Old Testament Prophecy concerning the First Coming of the Messiah. Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998. 74.

[2] Barker, K. L. (1986). Zechariah. In F. E. Gaebelein (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Daniel and the Minor Prophets (Vol. 7, p. 686). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House.