The 2001 Translation

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2001 Translation


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    Matthew 26:31 quoting Zechariah 13:7

    Jesus appears to quote Zechariah 13:7 in Matthew 26:31 and apply those words to himself, where he says:

    ‘All of you will be stumbled [by what will happen to] me tonight, because it’s written: ‘When the shepherd is struck, the sheep will be scattered.’

    Some Christians believe that Jesus is saying that the words he’s quoting are a prophecy about his death (‘the shepherd is struck’) and the apostles eventually preaching abroad in foreign countries (being ‘scattered’).

    However, he might not have been quoting Zechariah 13 directly, but paraphrasing. In the most ancient text we have, which we consider to be far more reliable than the Hebrew texts, it does not say “when the shepherd [singular] is struck”, but says “strike the shepherds [plural]”.

    So it could be that Jesus was just quoting the universal truth conveyed in Zechariah 13 that whenever a ‘shepherd’ (or leader) is gone, his ‘sheep’ (or followers) will be scattered. That’s exactly what happened immediately after Jesus was arrested, although they gathered back together quite quickly.

    Also, the passage in Zechariah 13 is about false prophets who later deny being from God to save their own skin, and the false ‘shepherds’ of JeruSalem being ‘wiped away’ (Zechariah 13:8).

    So it’s possible that Jesus was quoting the universal truth contained in Zechariah’s prophecy – simply that followers tend to scatter when their leader is gone, rather than claiming that Zechariah 13:7 was a prophecy specifically about himself.

    Interestingly, the Jews were scattered across the world after their ‘shepherds’ were killed in various Jewish rebellions starting in 70 CE.

    Please also see the note about the ‘wounds in hands’ verse.