Awake, O sword, against my shepherd,.... Not Judas Maccabeus, slain in battle by BacchisF23Vid. Joseph. Antiqu. l. 12. c. 11. sect. 2. , as Grotius fancies; but Christ, Jehovah's Shepherd; for these are the words of Jehovah the Father, concerning his Son, whom he calls "my Shepherd"; because he has a property in him, as well as in the flock; and he was chosen, called, set up, and sent as such by him; on whom he laid the straying of all the sheep; and who as such died and rose again, and is accountable to his divine Father for the flock committed to him: by "the sword" awoke against him are meant either the sorrows and afflictions of Christ, which, like a sword, pierced through his soul; or the violent death he was put to, being stricken and cut off for the transgressions of his people; or the Jews, who were the instruments of it; so wicked men are called, Psalms 17:13 or rather the glittering sword of justice, which was drawn against him, and sheathed in him; which is called upon to "awake", it seeming as though it was asleep; it having been a long time since the first sin of Adam was committed, in which all his posterity was concerned, and for which satisfaction to divine justice must be made; and longer still since Christ became a surety, and engaged to do it; moreover, it was a great while since it was promised that he should come, and be smitten and wounded for sin; and, after he was come into the world, it was some time before the orders were given to this sword to awake against him:
even against the man that is my fellow, saith the Lord of hosts; the human nature of Christ is signified by "the man"; not that he was really man before his incarnation, only in the purpose and covenant of God; and he often appearing in a human form; and the Scripture speaking of things future as present; though here it regards him in the days of his flesh, and as suffering: his divine nature is expressed by being "the fellow" of the Lord of hosts; not only being near to him in place and affection, but his equal, being truly a divine Person; of the same nature, glory, and majesty, with himF24עמית "socius, proximus; speciatim tribuitur Messiae, qui patri caelesti est conjunctissimus et intimus, cum sit ejusdem numero essentiae, gloriae, ac majestatis cum eo". Stockius, p. 794. , though distinct from him; and so fit to be the Shepherd of the flock:
smite the Shepherd; the order is given to the sword of justice, by the Lord of hosts, to smite the Messiah, the Shepherd, even unto death: this was according to his purpose; was his will of command; agreeable to his mind; what he took a kind of pleasure in, and in which he had a hand himself; for it is rendered "I will smite", Matthew 26:31,
and the sheep shall be scattered; particularly the apostles, who, upon the seizure of Christ, were scattered from him, and one another, whereby this prophecy was fulfilled, Matthew 26:31,
and I will turn my hand upon the little ones; the same with the sheep, the disciples of ChristF25So Stockius, p. 912. ; yea, all that Christ died for, and to whom God is gracious for his sake; even all the little ones that believe in him; who are few in number, little in their own sight, and contemptible in the eyes of the world; pusillanimous, fearful, and of little faith, as the apostles of Christ were at the time he died: on these the Lord turned his hand; not his chastising hand, though that is sometimes on the saints; much less his hand of justice, which was laid on Christ, and it would have been unjust to have laid it on sinner and surety both; but his hand of grace and mercy, power and protection; which was upon the apostles in their ministrations, succeeding them to the conversion of sinners, and preserving them from their enemies; and all the elect are saved in consequence of the death of Christ, and redemption by him. Aben Ezra says this prophecy refers to the great wars which shall be in all the earth in the times of Messiah ben Joseph; but they regard the times of Christ the son of David, who is already come. The Targum is,
"be revealed, O sword, against the king, and against the ruler his companion, who is like unto him;'
and Jarchi interprets it of the king of Moab; and Aben Ezra of every king of the nations that shall in the above times reign over the earth, who thinks himself to be as God; which sense Kimchi approves of, and observes, that the "little ones" are governors and princes, who are less than kings: and another Jewish writerF26R. Isaac Chizzuk Emunah, par. 1. c. 37. p. 310. 311. says the sense is, awake, O sword, against the king of Ishmael, who is called the king of the Turks (the grand seignior), that rules over Asia and Africa; which are more than three fourths of the world, and the greater part of the Jewish nation are in captivity under his hand; him God calls his Shepherd, because he hath given into his hand to feed his flock in their captivity, and this flock is the nation of Israel; and he is called the man his fellow, because he thinks himself, through the pride and haughtiness of his heart, to be as God; and upon the ruin of this prince, he supposes, will be the deliverance of the Jews, who, being scattered into several parts, will, in separate bodies, return to their own land: and by the "little ones" he thinks are meant the kings of the nations of Edom, or of the Roman nations, which are the lesser pastors of the sheep. Manasseh ben IsraelF1De Resurrect. Mort. l. 3. c. 5. sect. 5. p. 290. makes mention of the same exposition of the passage, but is of opinion that the words are rather to be understood of the pope of Rome, who calls himself a pastor, and next to God, and his vicar on earth; and against him and those like to him, inferior in power, God will make war. But much more agreeable, and very remarkable, are the words of R. Samuel MarochianusF2Apud Burkium in loc. e Mullero. , who, writing of the coming of the Messiah, says,
"I fear, O my Lord, that that which Zechariah the prophet said, "I will smite the Shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered", was fulfilled when we smote the Shepherd of those little ones and holy apostles.'
Moreover, it may be observed, that the word for "little ones" sometimes signifies great ones, as Mr. PocockF3Not. Miscell. in Port. Mosis, c. 2. p. 18. has observed, and particularly in this text; which, according to the sense some give of it, mentioned by R. Tanchum, is, "I will turn mine hand upon the illustrious and the princes", and not "upon the little ones", as commonly understood; and which he takes to be the best of the expositions adduced: and with this agree the several oriental versions; some copies of the Septuagint read, "upon the shepherds"; and so the Arabic version; and the Syriac version renders it, "the superiors"; and so may very well be applied to the apostles of Christ, who were in the highest office in the church, and shepherds of the flock; on whom, after the death of Christ, God turned his hand of power, which was upon them, and was with them in their ministrations, making them successful wherever they went; and also his hand of providence was upon them, protecting and preserving them, until they had done the work they were sent about. After this prophecy concerning the Messiah, occasionally inserted here, the prophet returns to his prediction of the state of the church, and what shall befall it in the latter day.