Would you please discuss the Scripture in Zechariah 12:10?


According to most Christian commentaries, this passage addresses the First and Second Coming of Jesus Christ as the Messiah and Savior of mankind. However, most Jewish commentaries reject this conclusion and give the passage a different meaning.

Zechariah 12:10-11 reads as follows:

“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn. In that day there shall be great mourning in Jerusalem…”

The phrase “in that day” gives us the time setting–it is a reference to the time of the end, the coming of the LORD and His reign over this world (note Zechariah 12:4, 6, 8-9; 13:1-2, 4; 14:4, 6, 8-9, 20).

At the time when the LORD appears to defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem (Zechariah 12:8), they will begin to recognize Him as their Savior. They will understand that it was they–as this is true for all of mankind–who pierced and killed Him, when He came in the flesh (John 1:1, 11, 14; Luke 19:14; 20:13-15). They will recognize Him as the Son of God–the FIRSTBORN among many brethren. They will realize that it is the potential of man to become a member of the very Family of God. They will mourn because of their sins, realizing that they were responsible for Christ’s death; they will believe in Christ and the gospel message and become baptized; and it is then that God will pour His Spirit on them (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:38).

All of this should be understood as the clear and unambiguous meaning of the above quoted passage. As we explain in our free booklet, “The Book of Zechariah–Prophecies for Today,” on page 72:

“Zechariah 12:10 refers to the fact that the Messiah would be pierced. We are told in the New Testament that a soldier pierced Christ’s side with a spear, causing His death on the cross (John 19:34–37). (For the exact manner of Christ’s death, please read our free booklet, “Jesus Christ—a Great Mystery”). The passage in Zechariah 12:10 is quoted in Revelation 1:7, referring to Jesus Christ.”

Revelation 1:7 states: “Behold, He is coming with clouds, and every eye will see Him, even they who pierced Him. And all tribes of the earth will mourn because of Him…”

We might note that we read in Zechariah 12:10 that God (the Father) says that the inhabitants of Jerusalem will look on “Me” (the Father) whom they have pierced, and that they will mourn for “Him” (Jesus Christ) as one mourns for his only son and his firstborn son.

The Jamieson, Fausset and Brown commentary gives the following (unconvincing) explanation as to the change of the pronouns “Me” and “Him”:
“The change of person is due to Jehovah-Messiah speaking in His own person first, then the prophet speaking of Him.”

However, reading the context, there is really no justification for the conclusion that Zechariah would first repeat the words of God, then interject his own thoughts, and then return to a quotation of the words of God in the subsequent verses.

Rather, we need to understand that the Father suffered when Christ suffered. Even though Jesus Christ was pierced, it was God the Father who GAVE His only begotten Son to DIE for the world (John 3:16). We read that the Father was IN the Son (2 Corinthians 5:19). He experienced the Son’s suffering as well. When the Son was pierced, the Father was pierced too in that sense–God the Father who loved the Son felt the pain and suffering of His Son; He suffered WITH Christ; He felt the piercing as Christ did. Today, in the same way, both the Father and the Son feel also our pain and suffering when we go through severe trials (compare 2 Corinthians 1:5).

Let us consider the following remarks by non-Jewish commentaries regarding Zechariah 12:10:

Adam Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible states:

“‘I will pour upon the house of David’ – This is the way in which the Jews themselves shall be brought into the Christian Church. 1. ‘They shall have the spirit of grace,’ God will show them that he yet bears favor to them. 2. They shall be excited to fervent and continual prayer for the restoration of the Divine favor. 3. Christ shall be preached unto them; and they shall look upon and believe in him whom they pierced, whom they crucified at Jerusalem. 4. This shall produce deep and sincere repentance; they shall mourn, and be in bitterness of soul, to think that they had crucified the Lord of life and glory, and so long continued to contradict… since that time.”

The “Treasury of Scriptural Knowledge” adds:

“That this relates to the crucifixion of Jesus of Nazareth, and to his being pierced by the soldier’s spear, we have the authority of the inspired apostle John for affirming; and this application agrees with the opinion of some of the ancient Jews, who interpret it of Messiah the son of David…”

However, as we will see, even most of those ancient Jews who have realized that Zechariah 12:10 speaks about the Messiah, did not understand the true meaning of that passage. In addition, Jewish interpreters are divided as to whom this passage is addressing.

John Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible gives a lengthy narrative of Jewish interpretation, as follows:

“… the Jews themselves, some of them, acknowledge it is to be understood of the Messiah. In the Talmud… mention being made of the mourning after spoken of, it is asked, what this mourning was made for?… one says, for Messiah ben Joseph, who shall be slain… Jarchi and Kimchi… say, our Rabbins interpret this of Messiah the son of Joseph, who shall be slain… Hadarsan… understands it of Messiah the son of David. The Jews observing some prophecies speaking of the Messiah in a state of humiliation, and others of him in an exalted state, have coined this notion of two Messiahs…”

Did you catch that? Some preach that the Messiah would be slain at His (future) coming–and that allegedly in battle, as we will see. Others preach two different “Messiahs.”

The confusion abounds. The “New Bible Commentary: Revised” explains:

“… various suggestions of historical personages have been made in an attempt to identify the pierced one–the brother of Johanan, Onias III, c. 170 BC, or Simon the Maccabee, c. 134 BBC, or the Teacher of Righteousness mentioned in the Dead Sea Scrolls, or even Zerubbabel, or others. But the traditional identification with the suffering Messiah remains the best understanding.”

The Nelson Study Bible mentions these Jewish “interpretations”:

“Jewish commentators often regard this as a corporate reference to the Jews killed in the defense of Jerusalem… The Jewish Talmud views the text as referring to the Messiah who will be pierced in battle. The messianic view is favored by the fact that Jesus was pierced with a spear…”

The concept that the coming Messiah would die in battle is nowhere supported in Scripture. In fact, the opposite is revealed in both the Old and the New Testament (compare Zechariah 14:3, 9, 12-13; Daniel 2:44; Matthew 24:30-31; and Revelation 19:11-15). Jesus Christ, the Messiah, told the Apostle John in Revelation 1:8, 18: “‘I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,’ says the Lord, ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty… I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive FOREVERMORE. Amen. And I have the keys of Hades and Death.'”

The Jewish Soncino commentary gives the following additional (incorrect) explanation:

“The mourning is over those Jews who fell in defiance of their city as martyrs for their faith and country; the slain in battle are those whom the heathens have ‘thrust through’ (“pierced”). This is substantially the view of most Jewish commentators. In the Talmud the passage is interpreted with reference to the Messianic era, and the martyr who was ‘thrust through’ is the Messiah the son of Joseph who will fall in battle.

“The verse has received Christological application by the Church; but as Driver observes: ‘The context points plainly to some historical event in the prophet’s own time, for which people would eventually feel the sorrow here described.’ Modern commentators see in the verse an allusion to an unknown martyr who suffered death at the hands of the people. They will be stricken with remorse and penitence over their guilt. Probably he was one whom God gave to the restored Jewish community, a good shepherd, but they rejected him and put him to death. Could it have been Zerubbabel whose fate, otherwise unknown, is here referred to?”

As stated before, the phrase “in that day” points at future events–the passage in Zechariah 12:10 is clearly prophetic and does not address an historical event at the time of the prophet Zechariah.

Now note how the English rendering of the Hebrew Text in “The Jewish Bible”–the “Tanakh”–completely alters the original Scripture, obviously in an attempt to hide the intended meaning:

“But I will fill the House of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem with a spirit of pity and compassion; and they shall lament to Me about those who are slain, wailing over them as over a favorite son and showing bitter grief as over a first-born…”

That the original Hebrew passage of Zechariah 12:10 relates to Jesus Christ–referring to His (past) First Coming AND His (still future) Second Coming–is the clear and intended meaning of the passage, and as stated before, this understanding is confirmed in the New Testament by the Apostle John in the book of Revelation.

The misunderstanding and confusion of many Jewish commentators in regard to a passage like Zechariah 12:10 amply prove the accuracy of the following inspired comments, made by the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 3:12-16:

“Therefore, since we have such hope, we use great boldness of speech–unlike Moses, who put a veil over his face so that the children of Israel could not look steadily at the end of what was passing away. But their minds were blinded. For until this day the same veil remains unlifted in the reading of the Old Testament, because the veil is taken away in Christ. But even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil lies on their heart. Nevertheless when one turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.”

The veil of spiritual blindness remains today on the children of Israel (Acts 28:25-27; Romans 11:25), as well as on all nations (Isaiah 43:8-9; 2 Corinthians 4:3-4; Ephesians 4:17-18; Revelation 12:9). It can only be removed or “taken away in Christ” for those whom God gives spiritual understanding in this day and age. When the Messiah and Savior of the world returns, then that veil will be removed from all peoples (Isaiah 25:7; Revelation 20:3).

Lead Writer: Norbert Link

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