Who are the “three shepherds” of Zechariah 11:8?


by Shawn Brasseaux

Zechariah 11:8 is one of the most disputed verses in Zechariah. It says, “Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.” Who are these “three shepherds?”

Probably the oldest explanation is that they are the three classes of rulers in Israel—prophet, priest, and king. The prophet is God’s spokesman to man, the priest is man’s mediator or representative to God, and the king is the governmental leader.

Another possibility is that the three shepherds are the Pharisees, the Sadducees, and the Herodians. These three prominent groups derided and opposed Jesus Christ most vehemently during His earthly ministry. They were false teachers in Israel.

There may be a third option, which cannot be discerned at this time. Since the verse is in a prophetic context, its meaning will be clearer to those who live in the future (after our Dispensation of Grace).

Whoever the “three shepherds” are in Zechariah 11:8, we can be sure that they are unbelieving leaders in Israel. They hate the LORD God and He hates them. He punishes them by taking their lives, that they mislead His people no more.

Also see:
» Who is the wounded man of Zechariah 13:6?
» Should we use the term “pastor” or “bishop?”
» Who or what are the “Chemarims?”