Maarten J.J. Menken, «Striking the Shepherd. Early Christian Versions and Interpretations of Zechariah 13,7», Vol. 92 (2011) 39-59
This paper traces the development of the textual form and the interpretation of Zech 13,7 in the earliest known Christian texts in which this OT passage is quoted or alluded to (Mark 14,27; Matt 26,31; John 16,32; Barn. 5,12; Justin, Dial. 53,5-6). It starts with some observations on the Hebrew text and on some of the ancient versions, notably the LXX, which offers a peculiar rendering. Next, the early Christian versions and interpretations are discussed, and their relations are detected. Obscure apocalyptic texts often generate multiple meanings. Zech 13,7 proves to be no exception.
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patajate toyv poimenav
Â¥ Ã¹ Â¥ strike the shepherds
kaÄ± ekspasate ta probata,
Ã¹ÃŸ Â¥ Ã¹ Â¥ and pull out the sheep,
kaÄ± epajw thn xeÄ±ra moy epÃ¹
Ã¹ÃŸ Â¥ Ã¹ ËœÂ¥ ÃŸÄ± and I will bring my hand upon the
Ã¹ Â¥ shepherds.
The Greek translation shows several peculiar traits 11:
It has twice a plural â€œshepherdsâ€ where the MT has a singular
â€œ shepherd â€. In the first line, this can be a question of vocalization
of y[r ; in the fourth line, it is a question either of the use of a
Hebrew text that differed from the MT or of deliberate exegesis.
The substitution of â€œshepherdsâ€ for â€œshepherdâ€ occurs also, either
implicitly or explicitly, in LXX Zech 11,4.17.
At the end of the second line, the translator read wtym[, just as
the Targum. In the resulting Greek text, the referent of the pronoun
aytoy is unclear. In the context, the only real candidate is the false
prophet of 13,5-6. â€œThe man, his fellow citizenâ€ should in any case
be distinguished from the shepherds.
The impv. sg. Ãˆh has been translated by an impv. pl. patajate.
Its subject cannot be the sword; the immediate context suggests the
parents of, and other people around, the false prophet of 13,2-6.
Very peculiar is the translation of â€“yxwpt by ekspasate in the
fifth line. The verb ekspan is used more than once in the LXX in
the sense of â€œremoving someone or something from a threatening
situation â€ 12. The Hebrew verb hxp can have the same meaning (see
Ps 144,7.10.11), and it is the usual meaning of Aramaic hxp (see,
e.g., Tg. Pss 22,9; 70,2). It seems therefore that the LXX translator
has read â€“yxwpt as a form of hxp, for instance wxpt 13.
â€œ The little onesâ€ (Î¼yr[xh) of the Hebrew text have now become
â€œ the shepherdsâ€ (toyv poimenav). Maybe the Hebrew text of the
translator read Î¼y[rh 14, or maybe the translator deliberately read
The peculiarities result either from a Hebrew text that differed
from the MT, or from a deliberate change of consonants or vocali-
See CASEVITZ et al., Bible dâ€™Alexandrie, 23/10-11, 344-347.
See LXX 1 Kgdms 17,35; 19,10 A; 26,24 A; Ps 24,15; Job 29,17; Amos
3,12 [twice]; 4,11; Hab 2,9; Zech 3,2.
So K.A. VOLLERS, Das Dodekapropheton der Alexandriner 1 (Halle
1880) 70, referred to by T. JANSMA, Inquiry into the Hebrew Text and the An-
cient Versions of Zechariah IX-XIV (OTS 7; Leiden 1949) 126 n. 65.
So JANSMA, Inquiry, 126.