Zechariah 11 – The Rejection of the King & The Tomb of Genghis Khan

When the name Genghis Khan enters a conversation then of course you can only think of Mongolia, but I often hear about Tatars also.  So…

Zechariah 11
The Rejection of the King

1 Open thy doors, O Lebanon, that the fire may devour thy cedars.

Lebanese Republic is located in the Middle East of the Asian Continent, with a population of 4,140,289, making it the 126th largest national population. Its capital and largest city is Beirut with a total population of 1,900,000.

The country encompasses 10,400 square kilometers making it the 170th largest country in total area. It shares boundaries with Syria, Israel and Mediterranean Sea.

11:1-3 – some interpret this brief poem as a taunt song related to the lament that will be sung over the destruction of the nations’ power and arrogance, represented by the cedar, the pine and the oak.

Their kings are represented by the shepherds and the lions.  Understood in this way, vv. 1-3 would provide the conclusion to the preceding section. 

Other interpreters, without denying the presence of figurative language, see the piece more literally as a description of the devastation of Syro-Palestine due to the rejection of the Messianic Good Shepherd.  Verses 1-3 would then furnish the introduction to the next section.

The geography of the text – Lebanon, Bashan and Jordan – would seem to favor this interpretation.  Part of the fulfillment would be the destruction and further subjugation of the area by the Romans, including the fall of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. and of Masada in 73.

Understood in this way, the passage is in sharp contrast with chapter 10 and its prediction of Israel’s full deliverance and restoration to the coven ant land.  Now the scene is one of desolation for the land, followed by the threat of judgment and disaster for both land and people.

2 Howl, fir tree; for the cedar is fallen; because the mighty are spoiled: howl, O ye oaks of Bashan; for the forest of the vintage is come down.

“Bashan” – the Israelites took this region from the Amorite king, Og, at the time of the conquest of Canaan.  It was allotted to the half-tribe of Manasseh.

3 There is a voice of the howling of the shepherds; for their glory is spoiled: a voice of the roaring of young lions; for the pride of Jordan is spoiled.

Biblical Bashan – Dolmens
Hundreds of dolmens have been found in the Golan Heights. Used for burial in the basalt areas where grave digging is difficult, dolmens were used for burial during both the Early Bronze I and Intermediate Bronze periods.

The dolmen was most likely intended as a burial chamber for the chief of a clan, or another member of the nomadic elite. A dolmen is constructed of two large vertical stone slabs capped by a horizontal stone, which can weigh up to 30 tons.

4 Thus saith the LORD my God; Feed the flock of the slaughter;

11:4-14 – the reason for the judgment on Israel in vv. 1-3 is now given, namely, the people’s rejection of the Messianic Shepherd-King (as royal figure) is rejected.

5 Whose possessors slay them, and hold themselves not guilty: and they that sell them say, Blessed be the LORD; for I am rich: and their own shepherds pity them not.

“Whose possessors” – the sheep (the Jews) are bought as slaves by outsiders.  Part of the fulfillment came in 70 A.D. and the following years.

6 For I will no more pity the inhabitants of the land, saith the LORD: but, lo, I will deliver the men every one into his neighbor’s hand, and into the hand of his king: and they shall smite the land, and out of their hand I will not deliver them.

7 And I will feed the flock of slaughter, even you, O poor of the flock. And I took unto me two staves; the one I called Beauty, and the other I called Bands; and I fed the flock.

8 Three shepherds also I cut off in one month; and my soul lothed them, and their soul also abhorred me.

9 Then said I, I will not feed you: that that dieth, let it die; and that that is to be cut off, let it be cut off; and let the rest eat every one the flesh of another.

10 And I took my staff, even Beauty, and cut it asunder, that I might break my covenant which I had made with all the people.

Nimrod’s Fortress
Nimrod began the work on the Tower of Babel. Known in Arabic as Subebe (from the Crusader name L’Asibebe), this English name for the castle mistakenly associates it with Nimrod, an ancient figure of great strength mentioned in Genesis 10:8-9.

This is one of the castles that was built by the Muslims, but it changed hands several times in the 12th century. The fortress was strengthened in the 13th century and most remains visible today are from that period. The mountain is over 400 m (1,300 ft) long, and in places its width reaches 150 m (490 ft).

The summit rises to an elevation of 800 m (2,600 ft) above sea level. The castle is also known as the Citadel of the Mosquitoes since swarms tend to rise up at times and cover the entire area.

11 And it was broken in that day: and so the poor of the flock that waited upon me knew that it was the word of the LORD.

12 And I said unto them, If ye think good, give me my price; and if not, forbear. So they weighed for my price thirty pieces of silver.

13 And the LORD said unto me, Cast it unto the potter: a goodly price that I was prised at of them. And I took the thirty pieces of silver, and cast them to the potter in the house of the LORD.

14 Then I cut asunder mine other staff, even Bands, that I might break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.

15 And the LORD said unto me, Take unto thee yet the instruments of a foolish shepherd.

16 For, lo, I will raise up a shepherd in the land, which shall not visit those that be cut off, neither shall seek the young one, nor heal that that is broken, nor feed that that standeth still: but he shall eat the flesh of the fat, and tear their claws in pieces.

17 Woe to the idol shepherd that leaveth the flock! the sword shall be upon his arm, and upon his right eye: his arm shall be clean dried up, and his right eye shall be utterly darkened.

The Tomb of Genghis Khan

In life he was a world-shaking conqueror, but in death he is a mystery.  Genghis Khan died in 1227, but this tomb has never been found.  Most researchers believe his body was returned to his Mongolian homeland.

Researcher Albert Yu-Min Lin surveys the Mongolian wilderness with a native Mongolian.

However, his retainers kept the location a secret, reputedly trampling traces of the burial under their houses’ hooves.  More recently, Russian occupiers kept the area off-limits.

In 2008, University of California San Diego research Albert Yu-Min Lin restarted the search using a new, noninvasive approach. 

Employing data-mining algorithms to scan satellite maps of northeastern Mongolia, Lin and his team are looking for unusual geometric shapes and other clues in the landscape in hopes of finding the tomb – without disturbing the sacred Mongolian land.

….what or who are the Tatars and how were the Mongolian women treated?