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Zechariah 13:6 speaks of a man wounded in the house of friends. Taken by itself, I would immediately interpret this as a Messianic reference.

However, the context is the cessation of prophecy (verse 4), and the man is identified as a farmer and apparently a slave laborer (verse 5). How does that fit the Messiah, the greatest of the prophets? And what would that be about being sold to toil in tilling the ground?

Then again, if it is not Messianic, who is the injured man, and why was he hurt at the house of his friends? Also, the context immediately following is clearly about the suffering of the Messiah (verse 7):

Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,” declares the LORD of hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.

Would the viewpoint of the original hearers have offered us any clues on how this is to be solved? How do we reconcile these tensions?

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4 Answers 4

I use this verse and its context to teach a bad use of verses and context. If this verse is used for Jesus being slain on the cross then we would have to make an almost impossible connection between the false prophets and Jesus, something that seems to tie a knot in our hermeneutical stomach.

It is so important to observe that the verse has a connection with the context. In verse 1 and 2 we see that God will cleanse from idolatry and false prophets. This will be accepted by the Jews as the law of God to such a extent that NO false prophets will be allowed to prophecy. If any do make prophetic announcements the people will automatically identify it as a lie and proceed to judge. This would cause prophets to "hide" their prophetic identifications. The cloak made of animal hair was a clear outfit for the prophet, John the Baptist used this also as a visual sign of his "job".

The false prophet will then hide from his followers by saying that the scars in his hands are caused by the hard work on the farm - keep in mind he is trying to save his life since he is a false prophet. He is then confronted with the evidence of his trait, scars on his hands. This was evidence enough to show that he was a false prophet. If you recall Elijah's confrontation with false prophets on Mount Carmel, the false prophets would cut themselves to sacrifice their blood and get their god's attention - apparently a much practiced ritual by false prophet. These are the scars on his hands.

I find this impossible to connect to Christ and hope my explanation is worthy of interpretation.

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Very interesting! Thank you! –  Kazark Sep 17 '13 at 17:00
    
This is an excellent answer assuming everything you've presented is true. Do you have any reliable sources for this information? As it stands many of your assertions are unsupported. –  Daи Sep 17 '13 at 19:49
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The farmer is one who has disowned his former profession of speaking falsely in the name of the Lord (as the previous verses 4-5 make clear). Such an individual now knows his rightful work and applies himself to it with diligence (verse 5). If he has suffered beatings (e.g. for having spoken falsely in the past), then he sees this as a good and positive thing. Everything has been washed and cleansed and all has changed (verse 1), including the attitudes of former false prophets. The former soothsayer has a renewed attitude, especially with regard to the punishment and correction he has received. He has learned that "faithful are the wounds of a friend, but deceitful are the kisses of an enemy" (Prov 27:6). He knows that to be stricken by a righteous man "is a kindness" and likens it to an anointing (Psa 141:5). He knows also that "blows and wounds scrub away evil, and beatings purge the inmost being" (Pro 20:30).

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Welcome to Hermeneutics.SE! Thanks for showing your thought process and citing. A helpful answer. –  Kazark Jul 16 at 16:34
    
That's very encouraging. Thanks. –  Richard Jul 16 at 20:16
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The original hearers did not see Jesus there. Jesus was added in the second (new) bible later. (Unless you think the books of prophets were written only after then and cast as earlier writings, but I don't know anybody who says that.)

They also did not see it as messianic. This section about people giving up false prophecy. The messiah is something different, a redeemer.

2 “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty. “I will remove both the prophets and the spirit of impurity from the land. 3 And if anyone still prophesies, their father and mother, to whom they were born, will say to them, ‘You must die, because you have told lies in the Lord’s name.’ Then their own parents will stab the one who prophesies.

4 “On that day every prophet will be ashamed of their prophetic vision. They will not put on a prophet’s garment of hair in order to deceive. 5 Each will say, ‘I am not a prophet. I am a farmer; the land has been my livelihood since my youth.[a]’ 6 If someone asks, ‘What are these wounds on your body[b]?’ they will answer, ‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.’ (NIV)

Rashi says the farmer's wounds are from flogging (punishment for crime) and they are between the shoulders, and "house of my friends" means his brothers who loved him enough to reprove him and send him on the right path. Sounds like tough love, not an attack.

I found Rashi here, following links from other answers citing him.

Why a farmer? I think it means a common man. Most people were farmers then. This is not talking about a specific person but "each (prophet) will say". It is a category, not one person and not a messiah.

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The key for understanding this section is that from verses 1-6 the prophecy deals with cleansing sin which includes banishing ‘the names of the idols’ and 'false prophets'. In fact the false prophets should be killed even by ‘their own parents” who will ‘stab the one who prophesies’ (v3). This was the rule under the laws of Moses. (Deuteronomy 13:9) The idea presented is that the false prophet seems to repent. Just as in the case of a rebellious child, stoning would not be practiced if after some discipline the child repents. Possibly after receiving a beating a false prophet could repent and be spared from the death penalty. The false prophet has repented, because he is still alive and he even attributes his wounds to his ‘friends’. In fact, he decides juts to go back to simple 'farming' now that his old highly esteemed religious career is over.

‘The wounds I was given at the house of my friends.' (NIV Zechariah 13:6)

Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses. (NIV Proverbs 27:6)

It is with this in mind that the scripture then turns to a different type of prophet, with different types of wounds, and refers to his being 'struck' and the sheep being 'scattered' as further prophesied by our Lord in Mathew 26:31.

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