For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “NOT A BONE OF HIM SHALL BE BROKEN.” And again another Scripture says, “THEY SHALL LOOK ON HIM WHOM THEY PIERCED.” (John 19:36-37 NASB)
John “quotes” from Zechariah 12:10, let us see what the Christian Old Testament says when quoting Zachariah:
I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the Spirit of grace and of supplication, so that they will look on ME [my emphasize] whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him, as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him like the bitter weeping over a firstborn. (Zechariah 12:10 NASB)
Let us now see what the original text from the Jewish Bible says. The ”prophecy of Jesus” is found in Zechariah 12:10 but we will read from verse 1 to 10:
1 The burden of the word of the LORD concerning Israel. The saying of the LORD, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundation of the earth, and formed the spirit of man within him:
2 Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of staggering unto all the peoples round about, and upon Judah also shall it fall to be in the siege against Jerusalem.
3 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it.
4 In that day, saith the LORD, I will smite every horse with bewilderment, and his rider with madness; and I will open Mine eyes upon the house of Judah, and will smite every horse of the peoples with blindness.
5 And the chiefs of Judah shall say in their heart: ‘The inhabitants of Jerusalem are my strength through the LORD of hosts their God.’
6 In that day will I make the chiefs of Judah like a pan of fire among the wood, and like a torch of fire among sheaves; and they shall devour all the peoples round about, on the right hand and on the left; and Jerusalem shall be inhabited again in her own place, even in Jerusalem.
7 The LORD also shall save the tents of Judah first, that the glory of the house of David and the glory of the inhabitants of Jerusalem be not magnified above Judah.
8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that stumbleth among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as a godlike being, as the angel of the LORD before them.
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; 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 first-born. (Zechariah 12:1-10 Hebr/Eng Bible, JPS 1917)
This is NOT a messianic prophecy pointing to Jesus! From the context we see that this chapter and this event refers to gentile people attacking and invading the land of Israel in a final battle but how G-d will save the city and its people. The gentile nations will meet big problems when they try to invade Jerusalem. The Christian reading of this passage is somewhat problematic. The words ”Me” and ”Him” tell us that the text is speaking of two different things. The book of John acknowledged this and therefore rendered the passage as ”they shall look on Him whom they pierced.” This New Testament mistranslation of Zechariah shows that the New Testament is fallacious. All I can see is that it does not refer to Jesus!
To interpret this passage that at some future time the ”Jewish people shall look unto Me (Jesus) whom they (the Jewish people) have pierced” does not seem to be what John had in mind. It is important to note that according to John, Zechariah’s prophesy was fulfilled at the time that the Roman soldiers pierced the side of Jesus. As it says in John 19:36, ”For these things came to pass that the scripture might be fulfilled.” John saw the two different subjects of Zechariah’s passage as the Roman soldiers and Jesus.
There is also another problem in the New Testament verses. The Hebrew words ”et asher” (אֵת אֲשֶׁר) are not found very often in the Scriptures. When they do occur together the phrase is read as ”concerning whom” or ”concerning that” but never as ”whom.” See example in Ezekiel 36:27. Septuagint does not translate ”et asher” as ”whom.” That translation does not resemble the Christian interpretation. English translations just create much clutter and confusion. It is better to go to the originating sources and the Hebrew language.
When we read the text in context we can also understand who this passage is speaking about. In the beginning of Zechariah chapter 12 the prophet speaks of a time when the nations of the world will be gathered against Jerusalem to destroy it as we see in Zechariah 12:3.
3 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will make Jerusalem a stone of burden for all the peoples; all that burden themselves with it shall be sore wounded; and all the nations of the earth shall be gathered together against it. (Zechariah 12:3 Hebr/Eng Bible, JPS 1917)
On that day, G-d Himself will defend Jerusalem and destroy all of its enemies (Zechariah 12:4-9). G-d will pour out a spirit of grace and supplication toward the Jews. Grace is requested from G-d and supplication are directed to G-d.
This new spirit will motivate the Jewish nation to look towards G-d concerning those Jews who died the death of martyrs. All the inhabitants of Jerusalem will mourn. This has NOT YET been fulfilled, now or when the Roman soldier looked at Jesus!
This understanding is validated by the scriptural description that this mourning in Jerusalem would be “like the mourning of Hadadrimmom in the Valley of Magiddo.” This refers to the death of King Josiah who was killed in battle with Pharaoh Neco (2 Kings 23:29-30). After his death all of Judah and Jerusalem mourned for him (2 Chron 35:22-25). In the same way that the Jews mourned over King Josiah who died in battle so too will the Jewish people in the future mourn over their war dead.
Read my other texts and you will see that Israel time after time, were attacked by different peoples, war after war. G-d took care of Israel and affirmed over and over again his love for them, He sometimes called them sons, daughters or a wife. It shows us a how caring G-d was to his people.
© 2012 Jonathan Axelsson
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