December 09, 2002 Copyright © by United States Conference of Catholic Bishops
- Open your doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour your cedars!
- Wail, you cypress trees, for the cedars are fallen, the mighty have been despoiled. Wail, you oaks of Bashan, for the impenetrable forest is cut down!
- Hark! the wailing of the shepherds, their glory has been ruined. Hark! the roaring of the young lions, the jungle of the Jordan is laid waste.
- 1 Thus said the LORD, my God: Shepherd the flock to be slaughtered.
- For they who buy them slay them with impunity; while those who sell them say, "Blessed be the LORD, I have become rich!" Even their own shepherds do not feel for them.
- (Nor shall I spare the inhabitants of the earth any more, says the LORD. Yes, I will deliver each of them into the power of his neighbor, or into the power of his king; they shall crush the earth, and I will not deliver it out of their power.)
- So I became the shepherd of the flock to be slaughtered for the sheep merchants. I took two staffs, one of which I called "Favor," and the other, "Bonds," and I fed the flock.
- In a single month I did away with the three shepherds. I wearied of them, and they behaved badly toward me.
- "I will not feed you," I said. "What is to die, let it die; what is to perish, let it perish, and let those that are left devour one another's flesh."
- Then I took my staff "Favor" and snapped it asunder, breaking off the covenant which I had made with all peoples;
- that day it was broken off. The sheep merchants who were watching me understood that this was the word of the LORD.
- I said to them, "If it seems good to you, give me my wages; but if not, let it go." And they counted out my wages, thirty pieces of silver.
- But the LORD said to me, "Throw it in the treasury, the handsome price at which they valued me." So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the treasury in the house of the LORD.
- Then I snapped asunder my other staff, "Bonds," breaking off the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
- The LORD said to me: This time take the gear of a foolish shepherd.
- For I will raise up a shepherd in the land who will take no note of those that perish, nor seek the strays, nor heal the injured, nor feed what survives--he will eat the flesh of the fat ones and tear off their hoofs!
- Woe to my foolish shepherd who forsakes the flock! May the sword fall upon his arm and upon his right eye; Let his arm wither away entirely, and his right eye be blind forever!
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1 [4-17] In this allegory the prophet becomes the good shepherd of God's flock, which is being slaughtered; he is the defender of the people exploited by bad rulers. The three shepherds, rulers in general, are to destroy one another in a short time (a single month). The service of the good shepherd is contemptuously valued at thirty pieces of silver, the legal indemnity (Exodus 21:32) for a gored slave. The prophet is thus a type of Christ, whose mission of salvation to his people was appraised by the Sanhedrists, the false shepherds, at the same base price (Matthew 26:14-16). In the case of the prophet as well as of Christ (Matthew 27:5), the money is thrown into the temple treasury, i. e., paid to God, showing thereby how shamefully his divine love and care are requited.
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