Letter To The Jews / Chapter 27

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27: A Great Wailing

Now, if such a man as this were to be killed, what would it be like? The prophet Zechariah gives us a picture of an extraordinary mourning:

“And I will pour out upon the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the spirit of grace and supplications; and they will look to me whom they pierced, and they will wail over him as the wailing for the only son, and grieve bitterly over him as the bitter grieving over the firstborn. In that day the wailing in Jerusalem will be great, like the wailing of Hadad-Rimmon in the valley of Megiddo.” 1

This reminds us of the mourning by your ancestors over the last good king, Josiah, who cleansed the land and the Temple. He fought in the valley of Megiddo and was shot with an arrow, and died in Jerusalem; and the lamentations over him were made into a custom for the people. Not long after, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Babylonians.

In other words, here is a picture of the house of David wailing, perhaps over a righteous king who dies before another impending national calamity. But why would the spirit be poured out around that time? And besides, how is it that YHWH can be pierced? Surely the only way is for them to have pierced his servant, his anointed one, in the same way that YHWH says elsewhere, “the one who touches you touches the apple of his eye.” 2

After a description of this wailing, Zechariah says: “In that day, there will be an opened fountain to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.” 3

Now, why would a fountain need to be opened for sin and impurity, when they have the sacrifices under the law of Moses? And besides, how can water wash away sin? This must surely be related to the death of the one over whom the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem are wailing.

And if YHWH’s anointed one is to die in the manner of the suffering servant foretold by Isaiah, this verse takes on a new meaning; for it can also be interpreted to read: “In that day, he will become an opened fountain.”

That a person can become like an object can be seen elsewhere, such as when Isaiah writes about the days of Immanuel: “For he will become a sanctuary, and a stone of striking and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel; a snare and a trap to the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” 4

If this is the real meaning, then the purpose of the pierced one's death is to become like a “fountain” that cleanses them of sin and impurity. But the prophet Zechariah further signifies the death of an important one, when he goes on to say:

”Awake, sword, against my shepherd, and against the man who is my companion, says YHWH of hosts. Strike the shepherd, and the flock will be scattered; and I will restore my hand upon the little ones.” 5

If YHWH’s shepherd is his anointed servant, the flock scatter at the time of him being struck, so that nobody would be left with him at that time; which is also what the prophecy given to Daniel suggests of an anointed one who is “cut off, and nothing for him.” 6

What happens next affects the whole land: “And it becomes that in all the land, says YHWH, two parts in it will be cut off and expire, and the third part will remain in it. And I will bring the third part through the fire, and refine them as silver is refined, and test them as gold is tested. They will call on my name, and I will answer them. I will say, 'This is my people,' and they will say, 'YHWH is my God.'” 7

Now, this could be a prophecy of future testing to come upon Israel. However, we have already seen how the Roman desolation fits many of the prophecies, and would fit this one as well, if we could find a shepherd of YHWH who was struck in that period.

1 Zechariah 12:10,11. 2 Zechariah 2:12 (2:8). 3 Zechariah 13:1. 4 Isaiah 8:14. 5 Zechariah 13:7. 6 Daniel 9:26. 7 Zechariah 13:8,9.

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