Zechariah 12 … Who Is the Pierced One?

Question and Answer Q&A Sign And 3d Character As Symbol For SupportHumility is a trait that I don’t possess in abundance. This is a confession of sin and one that I constantly take to Messiah Jesus for Him to work on in my life. For if He could humble himself (Phil 2:5-11) for my redemption, I can work on this character flaw in my own life!

Interestingly, Jesus has often used the anti-missionaries to teach me the necessity of humbling myself for His purpose, His design, and His calling. In the last few months, Tzedakah Ministries and myself personally has been called every name in the book (including a few I cannot print here because they were so obscene). Names such as deranged, disturbed, crazy, obsessed were among a few of the kinder choices. Surprisingly, those names did not bother me. It was the nouns and adjectives which challenged my intellectual capabilities. I have always been a nerd/geek and my brain was always been my defense weapon against the jocks and cheerleader types. When I was insecure, I could look at my degrees and IQ score and feel secure.

However, Jesus allowed these anti-missionaries to teach me a valuable lesson — my security lies in HIM and I should humble myself and allow the gift of intelligence that was given to me by HIM (in the first place) to be used BY Him FOR His Purposes.

Now I realize that was a rather long and rambling introduction to go to the point of the blog topic; however, you must understand that this week I was questioned by an anti-missionary on whether Christians really understand the meaning and prophecy of Zechariah 12:10. He also called me stupid and a few other comments, and so now you understand the backstory. However, he does bring up a point and these are some of the questions we need to answer.

  • Are Christians guilty of reading Messianic prophecy (eisegesis)  into random Hebrew Scriptures?
  • Do we try to find Jesus in the Old Testament when He is not there?
  • Have we done this with Zechariah 12:10? Are we reading this verse out of context?

When we examine those questions, we are then able to answer the ULTIMATE question — who is the pierced one of Zechariah 12:10?

We will first seek to answer the question by examining what the verse says in Hebrew, the KJV (public domain, and the Jewish Publication Society (1917 and 1986/1999 eds.).

וְשָׁפַכְתִּי עַל-בֵּית דָּוִיד וְעַל יוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם, רוּחַ חֵן וְתַחֲנוּנִים, וְהִבִּיטוּ אֵלַי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דָּקָרוּ; וְסָפְדוּ עָלָיו, כְּמִסְפֵּד עַל-הַיָּחִיד, וְהָמֵר עָלָיו, כְּהָמֵר עַל-הַבְּכוֹר

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. (1917 JPS edition) The 1986/1999 JPS edition exhibits more of a nuanced (perhaps even dynamic equivalent) translation but obviously the expression at issue is how they translate the section that has already been underlined and put in bold. This is how the 1986/1999 JPS does —  “and they shall lament to me about those who are slain,…”
However, and before we get to verse 10, let’s examine some of the verses surrounding verse 10 to ensure that we understandAbstract 12 the context of the passage (3rd Question Above). In verse 7, we find a most interesting promise and/or prophecy regarding the eschaton. And we can know this chapter/verse involves the end of days (eschatology), as the expression “in that day” occurs five/six times in the chapter and this phrase always relates to the end of time. The verse promises salvation to the tents of Judah before the house of David or the citizens of Jerusalem because nothing must out “magnify” Judah. Now … the 1986/1999 JPS edition uses the word victory instead of salvation; however, this would be conceptually wrong because the word in Hebrew is וְהוֹשִׁעַ. This is the Hiphil Perfect form of the word that we transliterate as yasha which is “salvation,” “deliverance” and only very rarely “give victory to.” However, by translating the word as “give victory to” the 1986/1999 JPS edition has lessened the power of what the passage is all about in the first place, especially since it is יְהוָה himself who does the work of giving salvation to Judah. But why Judah … first?
Judah must be saved first because of Genesis 49:10. The promise of Messiah is understood to come from first Judah because of Genesis 49:10 in both the Jewish and Christian traditions. Nothing must outshine/magnify greater than Judah. The Targum Onkelos and Rashi writes this about Judah … “[This refers to] the King Messiah, to whom the kingdom belongs (שֶׁלוֹ) , and so did Onkelos render it: [until the Messiah comes, to whom the kingdom belongs]. According to the Midrash Aggadah, [“Shiloh” is a combination of] שַׁי לוֹ, a gift to him, as it is said:“they will bring a gift to him who is to be feared” (Ps. 76:12).” (Click here for more information as well). Now I know some anti-missionaries will criticize me for utilizing Rabbinic sources because I do not consider them sacrosanct (I don’t) but they are good reference points to illustrate the point and that is how they should be used and considered by all parties involved — good reference points. Therefore, we can know by the Hebrew and by commentary (Hebrew and Christian alike) that Judah is significant in this passage … WHY?
Verse 8 leads into an explanation that will be ultimately answered in verse 10. Yahweh will “defend” (Hiphil Imperfect which allows us to see that it is continual defense and not a mere shielding like the 1986/1999 JPS implies for the word יָגֵן. However, it is this intriguing closing section of verse 8 that requires careful analysis …
וּבֵית דָּוִיד כֵּאלֹהִים, כְּמַלְאַךְ יְהוָה לִפְנֵיהֶם
…and the house of David shall be as God, as the angel of the LORD before them. (KJV)
…and the house of David shall be as a godlike being, as the angel of the LORD before them. (1917 JPS). The 1986/1999 JPS translates “as Elohim” as “like a divine being” and “before them” as “at their head.”
Now obviously, you can see the first problem. How does one translate כֵּאלֹהִים as a divine being or godlike being unless one is attempting to disguise the real meaning of the verse? This is especially true when one reads malak Yahweh (angel of the Lord) for we as believers in Jesus know this to be a theophany (pre-Incarnate appearance of Jesus) because He is from the tribe of Judah (read previous blog entries which defend His lineage) and from the House of David.
Now that we know the context of this verse … dealing with Messiah (first question above) … let’s look at verse 10 closely to see if Jesus is present in this verse. Please note … I am going to repost the verse again.

ְשָׁפַכְתִּי עַל-בֵּית דָּוִיד וְעַל יוֹשֵׁב יְרוּשָׁלִַם, רוּחַ חֵן וְתַחֲנוּנִים, וְהִבִּיטוּ אֵלַי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דָּקָרוּ; וְסָפְדוּ עָלָיו, כְּמִסְפֵּד עַל-הַיָּחִיד, וְהָמֵר עָלָיו, כְּהָמֵר עַל-הַבְּכוֹר

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his first-born. (1917 JPS edition) The 1986/1999 JPS edition exhibits more of a nuanced (perhaps even dynamic equivalent) translation but obviously the expression at issue is how they translate the section that has already been underlined and put in bold. This is how the 1986/1999 JPS does —  “and they shall lament to me about those who are slain,…”
Obviously, the question lies in how the phrase, וְהִבִּיטוּ אֵלַי, אֵת אֲשֶׁר-דָּקָרוּ, should be translated. Do we follow a word-for-word translation or do we allow for interpretation? Obviously,  all translations agreed on a word-for-word translation up until the phrase in question. Who changed and why? Let’s examine what it would be if we translated word-for-word…
וְהִבִּיטוּ — Hiphil Perfect verb which indicates that it is a one-time event meaning “They shall be caused to look”
אֵלַי — is a preposition which is most commonly translated as “to”.
אֵת — is a first person pronoun which simply means “me”.
אֲשֶׁר — is a basic Hebrew word that serves as a transition and means “which” or “that”.
דָּקָרוּ — is a 3rd Person Qal Perfect verb which indicates a one-time event meaning “they have pierced” or “they have run through (as with a spear/sword)”
k0249251Therefore, and remembering this is both prophecy in the context of the chapter AND the rest of the verse was translated as word-for-word, who fits the description of “They shall be caused to look to me which they have pierced (or “run through as with a spear”)? If the answer is escaping you still, who also fits the description of being a first-born son and also the yachid (הַיָּחִיד) one and only son? If the answer is still escaping you, consider the fact that that the editorial comments of the 1986/1999 JPS recognize that the standard understanding of this verse is “christological” (their word … not mine). Finally, and for perhaps inescapable evidence for the Rabbinic folks, the Talmud Sukkah 52A believes that Zechariah 12:10 is Messianic, even if they wrongly attribute it to Messiah ben Joseph.
Therefore, I believe I have answered all three questions raised in the beginning of the blog. I believe the evidence shows that Jesus is the one who fits the definition of this verse because He was pierced. He is the only son of God. He is the firstborn in so many ways. Jesus is the Messiah. Churches and Christians … go and share with confidence. The evidence is on your side!
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