12 Then I said to them, “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver. 13 And the Lord said to me, “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me. So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter. 14 Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
Verses 12-14 give the reason for the final rejection of the nation Israel.
Then I [Zechariah] said to them [unbelieving Israel], “If it is agreeable to you, give me my wages; and if not, refrain.” So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver.
In this verse, the Messiah spoke to unregenerate Israel to bring attention to the depths of their depravity. He asked them to evaluate His role and mission.
The prophet Zechariah, representing the Messiah, asked Israel to give him wages for shepherding his sheep. The nation responded by giving him “thirty pieces of silver.” A silver shekel weighed over 11 grams. That measly amount will be how the nation Israel deemed the Messiah. Judas fulfilled this prophecy by betraying Christ (Mt 26:14-16; 27:3-10).
The request for payment for wages marked the final transaction that terminated Zechariah’s or Messiah’s relationship with Israel. Their relationship was finally broken. This exchange shouts disdain for the shepherd, and his value to Israel did not reach the cost of a single slave (30 pieces of silver).
The 30 pieces of silver were the cost for a slave gored by an ox (Ex 21:32). A healthy slave was worth twice that amount. All this points to the insult of the Messiah. Their offer of payment was a shameless insult to the shepherd.
The wage that the Messiah expected in this passage was the positive volition of Israel toward Him as the Messiah; He wanted them to embrace Him as the Anointed One who was to come to fulfill the prophecies of the Old Testament.
And the Lord said to me [Zechariah], “Throw it to the potter”—that princely price they set on me.
The “potter” refers to the potter’s field where people discarded broken pottery. God essentially told Zechariah to throw his wages into the garbage. The potter’s field was idiomatic of things worthless. The role of shepherding Israel was a dead end to those with a dim view of the Messiah. They viewed Him as an insignificant value.
Throwing the 30 pieces of silver into the potter’s field is God’s estimate of Israel’s evaluation of her Messiah. Their thinking viewed Him as worthless.
So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the Lord for the potter.
The throwing of the 30 pieces of silver into the house of the LORD foreshadowed Judas’ betrayal of Jesus (Mt 27:3-10; Acts 1:16-19). Judas symbolized Israel’s rejection of her Messiah.
Matthew attributed Judas’s act to Jeremiah, not Zechariah. The reason he did this was Jeremiah stood at the head of all prophetic books of the Bible.
Then I cut in two my other staff, Bonds, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.
The breaking of the shepherd’s staff called “Bonds” related to the divisive internal conditions of the nation Israel. The breaking of the staff Bonds was the final abandonment of the Messiah against Israel.
Judah and the Northern Kingdom divided in 930 BC after Solomon died. This event occurred two centuries before Zechariah broke the Bonds staff (722 BC). This event was the inevitable consequence of a nation that rejected her LORD. Thus, the LORD will cut the other staff Bonds in two; He will again divide the nation. The point is that He will not reunite the nation fully until the Messiah comes back.
The staff Bonds represented the unity of Israel as a nation. The breaking of the Bond staff indicated that God removed the restraint of the nations to attack Israel.
Internal strife and division destroyed Israel during the Roman destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70 and will repeat the destruction in the Tribulation.
Israel’s poor spiritual condition when Christ came was one of negative volition. The utterly spiritually poor state of the nation Israel brought rejection of her Messiah. The consequence of her rejecting the Messiah was God’s discipline of the nation by the Romans. The breaking of this staff symbolized the Roman defeat of the nation in AD 70. One day both Judah and Israel will be united again. Thus, the fulfillment of this verse occurred in AD 70 and will again take place during the Great Tribulation. There will come another day when Israel will embrace her Messiah at His Second Coming.