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"And I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. They will look on ME, THE ONE they have pierced, and they will mourn for HIM as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for HIM as one grieves for a firstborn son. - Zechariah 12:10

Who is the I (in I will pour ...)?
Who is the ME (in look on ME)?
Who is THE ONE they have pierced?
Who is the HIM that they will mourn and grieve?

Does this passage teach Modalism?

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  • Not enough for a full answer, but some insight: Where the KJV simply says 'the one', the Hebrew text uses the phrase 'et asher'. The word 'et' designates the direct object of a verb (here, 'they have pierced'), while 'asher' is a preposition that can mean 'which' or 'whom'. In this context 'et asher' means something like 'they will look to me [regarding the one whom] they have pierced'. This makes it highly unlikely 'me' (universally understood as God) is the same person as '[the one whom] they have pierced' (whoever that is).
    – user2910
    Commented Jul 25, 2017 at 0:17
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    Modalism didn't exist for thousands of years after this text was written (same for the doctrine of the Trinity). This question is anachronistic / imposed on the text.
    – Dan
    Commented Feb 18, 2018 at 19:54

2 Answers 2

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An interpretation culled from the standard Jewish commentaries follows:

I = God

Me = still God (as Mark notes in the comments, this is likely translated as "they will look to me regarding the one whom they have pierced")

The one they have pierced = one who has died due to sins of the generation or been killed in exile (someone who dies due to these sins would be considered as severely murdered as if he had been attacked directly, also, the commentaries add "even if one person had been pierced."...)

Him = One of the dead

Him = still one of the dead

(Note: The Talmud identifies the dead individual who they are mourning over as Messiah ben Joseph.)

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We should start by describing the background of Zechariah's prophecies. He lived when Zerubbabel, a grandson of a Davidic king of Judah, had returned to Jerusalem to govern the people of Judea and supervise the rebuilding of the Temple. According the Interpreter's Bible:

The role of the Messiah seems largely to have been identified by Zech. with the leadership of Zerubbabel... The hopes reposing on Zerubbabel as the Messiah, however, were dashed through circumstances no longer known to us.

This context of messianic hope in Zerubbabel helps us unpack the meaning of the OP's quote:

  • "I" and "Me" are God.

  • "the one they have pieced" is also God, who has been wounded by the tragic events which destroyed the hope God had shared through Zechariah. Alternatively it could mean Zerubbabel, who had been or would shortly be killed; but his makes less sense grammatically.

  • "him" refers back to the object in the previous sentence (the House of David). It is speaking of mourning for Zerubbabel, who for Zechariah, represented the last best hope for the restoration of the House of David to the throne of Judah.

The prophecy that follows these verses shows how the loss of the messianic hope in David's line expands beyond the royal court (represented by David) to touch even the prophets (represented by Nathan), the priesthood (represented by Levi), the clans that were not loyal to David's house (represented by Shimei) and the people of Israel/Judah generally.

The land will mourn, each clan by itself, with their wives by themselves: the clan of the house of David and their wives, the clan of the house of Nathan and their wives, the clan of the house of Levi and their wives, the clan of Shimei and their wives, and all the rest of the clans and their wives.

To make the prophecy clear according to my interpretation, it might read: "I will pour out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication. The people will look on Me, whom they have pierced, and they will mourn for Zerubbabel as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for David as one grieves for a firstborn son."


Note: The above is not intended as a new translation, only as a way of clarifying how I interpret the prophecy's meaning.

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