KJV Zec 12:10  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.

There seems to be some pronoun confusion going on and I wonder if it isn't supposed to say "they shall look on the one whom they have pierced"?

What difference does it make in understanding "look to me" that it is coupled with "to him"?

  • 1
    The WLC has וְהִבִּ֥יטוּ אֵלַ֖י אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר דָּקָ֑רוּ, ("and made look they upon me whom pierce they") אֵלַ֖י is the preposition "upon me", and אֵ֣ת is the direct object marker.
    – enegue
    Jun 9, 2018 at 14:50
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    With this additional information about Hebrew, do you need to revise the question, or does this answer your question? Enegue's and Luke's information is correct.
    – Perry Webb
    Jun 9, 2018 at 16:17
  • Ruminator, the following paragraph from Keil and Delitzch may be helpful: את־אשׁר דּקרוּ, not "Him whom they pierced," but simply "whom they pierced." את, that is to say, is not governed by hibbı̄tū as a second object, but simply refers to אלי, to me, "whom they pierced," את־אשׁר is chosen here, as in Jeremiah 38:9, in the place of the simple אשׁר, to mark אשׁר more clearly as an accusative, since the simple אשׁר might also be rendered "who pierced (me):" cf. Ges. 123, 2, Not. 1.
    – bach
    Jun 10, 2018 at 2:14
  • @Bach That wouldn't really resolve this problem. Note that in Jer 38:9 this construction still preserves the identity of the preceding object and the next: "...all that they have done to Jeremiah the prophet, eth-asher they have cast into the dungeon." That is, it would be still be "me [the one] whom they have pierced". Jun 10, 2018 at 3:04

2 Answers 2


"Me" is present in almost every translation. This is not surprising since there is a word before אֵת :

וְהִבִּיטוּ אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר־דָּקָרוּ

אֵלַי is the preposition to/for/on with a first person singular objective suffix. In other words, "to me".

Of mild interest to comparative stylists: "the one" I take not to translate אֵת, which is the marker of the accusative case rather than a pronoun, but by אֲשֶׁר functioning as a relative pronoun here — it must be the head of a noun phrase for אֵת to attach to it. So אֲשֶׁר represents "that which" or, since the antecedent is a person, "the one whom". Given that in English "me" is a pronoun, the KJV omits "the one" and has "me" do double duty as the object of both "they looked" and "they pierced".

Given your edit, which has produced a much more interesting question, I'll add to my answer.

There are certainly multiple opinions on this (see e.g. BibleHub's commentary collection):

  1. God speaks in first person, then the prophet speaks of God in third person. This has some grammatical plausibility in that אֲשֶׁר "the one whom" technically allows for a switch in the person of the pronoun: "They shall look on me, the one whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for him (=that one)". There is also a contextual clue: in Zechariah 13:2, the next time a verb is conjugated in first person, the text first has "thus says the Lord" as though realizing the voice had switched and getting us back to it. Of course, why it would have switched mid-sentence is still perplexing.

  2. God switches to third person to distinguish the person (presumably the Messiah) from Himself, while anticipating no contradiction since the Son an Father share an identity (cf. the Pulpit commentary). This is obviously most relevant to the theme of the Trinity in your questions, and I assume you know that this verse is a hotbed of dispute concerning the Messiah. Personally, although I accept the premise, I think the application is a stretch. That is, this would be an odd strategy — how many instances exist of intentional pronoun change to signal a deeper meaning? That said, it has some similarity to arguments like the first person plural in Genesis 3:22 being a hint of the Trinity.

  3. It's a textual error for אֵלָו to him. The line I quoted was from the Leningrad Codex, and my BHS doesn't list this as site of textual variation across manuscripts. Nevertheless, Benson claims that there are "forty to fifty manuscripts" reading אלוו. Cambridge also names "Ewald and others" as those who adopt such an emendation, but claims there is "no sufficient ground" to do so. Unfortunately I know nothing about MS distribution to investigate the two sides.

One comment on the manuscript quality is that the Septuagint uses the first-person pronoun με me. This makes it all the more interesting that John, whether reading from the Hebrew or the Greek, omits a person and just writes "on the one [whom] they have pierced" in John 19:37. So it may be that John did consider the distinction between first and third person in this verse immaterial.

Edit: Is there a fourth option?

I checked this in the New Jerusalem Bible: Study Edition, which often has enlightening notes, and saw that their translation is quite different:

... they will look to me. They will mourn for the one whom they have pierced as though for an only child and grieve for him as one grieves for the firstborn.

There is a footnote on this verse:

We preserve the [Massoretic Text] reading by making a clear break after 'to me'. Theodotion understood 'the one whom they have pierced', and this reading is followed by John...

Startled, I took a second look at the Hebrew:

וְהִבִּ֥יטוּ אֵלַ֖י אֵ֣ת אֲשֶׁר־דָּקָ֑רוּ וְסָפְד֣וּ עָלָ֗יו כְּמִסְפֵּד֙ עַל־הַיָּחִ֔יד וְהָמֵ֥ר עָלָ֖יו כְּהָמֵ֥ר עַֽל־הַבְּכֽוֹר

I must say that I'm not sure how they are reading אֵלַי as preceding a "clear break"; it's on a tiphkha, which is a melody mark that doesn't delimit syntax or semantics, to my knowledge. Rather, the "clear break" according to the niqqud falls on דָּקָרוּ "they have pierced".

But if we ignore the cantillation and imagine a clear break after "to me", can we read thus?

They looked on me; the one whom they pierced, they mourned for him as one mourns for the only [son] ...

I would have to say no. This reading still requires that one verb have two objects, and this time, although the person is the same, the case has changed — one object is accusative and the other not, one taking a preposition and the other not! This seems like an error less likely to slip by than, for instance, a waw changing to a yod.

Finally, the footnote makes it seem as though John would agree with the overall reading — which he evidently does not: John reads "the one whom they have pierced" as the object of "look", which could only be the case if he did not read a break there after "to me".

So this fourth option, that the first- and third-person objects are not attached to the same verb after all, must be ruled out.


The pre-Masoretic Hebrew text literally has ‘to me’ (אלי). But this reading goes against the second part of the verse. In fact, in it (12:10b) we found twice the expression עליו, ‘over him’, referring - with no doubts – to the same subject expressed by the first part of the verse.

This contradiction was noted in the past.

In fact, in the Gesenius’ Hebrew Grammar (edited and enlarged by E. Kautzsch, and translated by A. E. Cowley (§ 138e [ft 1]) we found an interesting comment on this verse (bold is mine): “In Zechariah 12:10 also, instead of the unintelligible e·laʹi ēth a·sherʹ [אשׁר את אלי], we should probably read el-a·sherʹ, and refer the passage to this class.” In his own translation, Emil F. Kautzsch (1890) himself rendered: “To that one whom”.

Between the ancient translations we found Theodotion (II cent.), which translated similarly “to him whom.”

An excerpt of modern Bible translations that follow this pattern is: Bible in Basic English (BBE) Good News Bible (GNB) New American Bible (NAB) [catholic] The New Jerusalem Bible (NJB).

Can the context of this verse help us to resolve this dilemma? It depends in what manner we define context. If, for me context – in this case – consists merely of the single verse (12:10) examined (someone may enlarge the range of the context by including the logic verses regrouping [vss. 10-11? 10-14?]) I’ll free to choose one between the two options the text presents me, that is,

[1] “to me” (not supposing any scribal error, so taking literally the text, but leaving in contradiction the first part of the verse with the second part),


[2] “to him” (supposing a scribal error, so not taking literally the text, but avoiding the two parts of the verse to remain in contradiction).

A very plausible possibility is also the following: the MT reading come from a text that included a scribal error in that point, whereas the Hebrew text used by John of Zebedee, and Theodotion also, after him, was a different one, a Hebrew text that not contained a scribal error in that place.

In other words, on the sole basis of Zechariah’s book itself we are not able to resolve this dilemma. In fact, we remain with these two different options.

However, this is one of Bible passages on which the context is defined, in some peculiar meanings, differently, according the context range’s extent of the scholars. For example, if I believe all the Bible is the God message for men, I’ll consider all the Scriptures as a potential context of Zec 12:10. So, the passage of Joh 19:37 should offer me a direct reference to Zac 12:10, becoming part of the context of this OT verse. Clearly, John of Zebedee, with his phraseology confirms the correctness of the abovementioned option 2.

As you see, in this case, the comprehension of Zec 12:10 depends by the our context range’s extent.

Personally, instead thinking John (of Zebedee) misquoted Zechariah, I prefer to choose the option that the MT preserves a scribal error (like other many instances). Luckily, in the most of these occurrences, textual criticism, along with the use of the context, permit us to resolve the majority of these dilemmas.

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