John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

3 (Zechariah 11:3)

Verse 3

He then adds, The voice of the howling of shepherds; for their excellency, or their courage, is laid waste. Here he has אדר, ader, and before אדירים, adirim, in the masculine gender. We see then that the Prophet confirms the same thing in other words, “Howl now,” he says, “shall the shepherds.” He intimates that the beginning of this dreadful judgment would be with the chief men, as they were especially the cause of the public ruin. He then says, that the dignity of the great was now approaching its fall, and hence he bids them to howl. He does not in these words exhort them to repentance, but follows the same strain of doctrine. By God’s command he here declares, that the shepherds who took pride in their power, could not escape the judgment which they had deserved: and as this is a mode of speaking usually adopted by the Prophets, I shall no longer dwell on the subject.

He afterwards adds, The voice of the roaring of lions. He no doubt gives here the name of lions, by way of metaphor, to those who cruelly exercised their power over the people. But he also alludes to the banks of Jordan, where there were lions, as it is well known. Since then lions were found along the whole course of Jordan, as it is evident from many passages, he compares shepherds to lions, even the governors who had abused their authority by exercising tyranny over the people: Fallen then has the pride or the excellency of Jordan. In short, it is now sufficiently evident, that the Prophet threatens final destruction both to the kingdom of Judah and to the kingdom of Israel. Both kingdoms were indeed then abolished; but I speak of the countries themselves. The meaning is — that neither Judea nor the land of the ten tribes would be free from God’s vengeance. (131) He afterwards adds —

1.Open, Lebanon, thy doors, That consume may the fire thy cedars:

2.Howl thou the fir-tree; For fallen is the cedar, Because the magnificent are wasted. Howl, ye oaks of Bashan; For come down is the forest, the fenced one.

3.The voice of the howling of shepherds! Because wasted is their magnificence; The voice of the roaring of lions! For wasted is the pride of Jordan.

There is a correspondence between “consume” and “wasted.” The Jewish rulers were called “shepherds” with regard to their office, and “lions” on account of their rapidity. Their “magnificence” was wasted, like that of the cedars when consumed by fire. The “pride of Jordan” were the trees growing on its borders, which afforded shelter for lions. These became wasted or destroyed, so that the lions could find there no receptacle. All these things intimate the entire destruction of the Jewish state. — Ed.

- John Calvin's Commentary on the Bible