In this post I am going to cite two passages from Zechariah where the inspired prophet foretells of a Man who is God’s equal, since he is Jehovah God in the flesh, that returns to save the remnant of Israel, resulting in the nation mourning for their sin of having their God slain/pierced through beforehand, which leads to their national purification from this transgression. I will then cite two scholarly authorities that provide the textual and contextual data affirming this interpretation, and refuting attempts by liberals and/or disbelieving Jews to deny the significance that these prophecies have in affirming that Jesus is the God-Man and the Messiah who was foretold to come not once but twice; the first time for the specific purpose of being slain for our sins, and a second time for the redemption of Israel and the world.
“The Lord also will deliver the homes[j] of Judah first, so that the splendor of the kingship[k] of David and of the people of Jerusalem may not exceed that of Judah. On that day the Lord himself will defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the weakest among them will be like mighty David, and the dynasty of David will be like God, like the angel of the Lord before them.[l] So on that day I will set out to destroy all the nations[m] that come against Jerusalem. I will pour out on the kingship[n] of David and the population of Jerusalem a spirit of grace and supplication so that they will look to me,[o] the one they have pierced. They will lament for him as one laments for an only son, and there will be a bitter cry for him like the bitter cry for a firstborn.[p] On that day the lamentation in Jerusalem will be as great as the lamentation at Hadad Rimmon[q] in the plain of Megiddo. The land will mourn, each clan by itself—the clan of the royal household of David by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the family of Nathan[r] by itself and their wives by themselves; the clan of the descendants of Levi by itself and their wives by themselves; and the clan of the Shimeites[s] by itself and their wives by themselves; all the clans that remain, each separately with their wives. In that day there will be a fountain opened up for the dynasty[a] of David and the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity.[b]… ‘Awake, sword, against my shepherd, against the man who is my associate,’ says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies. ‘Strike the shepherd that the flock may be scattered;[i] I will turn my hand against the insignificant ones.’” Zechariah 12:7-14; 13:1, 7
- Zechariah 12:10tc Because of the difficulty of the concept of the mortal piercing of God, the subject of this clause, and the shift of pronoun from “me” to “him” in the next, some mss read אֶל אֵת אֲשֶׁר or אֱלֵי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (ʾel ʾet ʾasher or ʾele ʾet ʾasher, “to the one whom,” a reading followed by NAB, NRSV) rather than the MT’s אֵלַי אֵת אֲשֶׁר (ʾelay ʾet ʾasher, “to me whom”). The reasons for such alternatives, however, are clear—they are motivated by scribes who found such statements theologically objectionable—and they should be rejected in favor of the more difficult reading (lectio difficilior) of the MT.tn Or “on me.”
- Zechariah 12:10tn The Hebrew term בְּכוֹר (bekhor, “firstborn”), translated usually in the LXX by πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos), has unmistakable messianic overtones as the use of the Greek term in the NT to describe Jesus makes clear (cf. Col 1:15, 18). Thus, the idea of God being pierced sets the stage for the fatal wounding of Jesus, the Messiah and the Son of God (cf. John 19:37; Rev 1:7). Note that some English translations supply “son” from the context (e.g., NIV, TEV, NLT).
- Zechariah 13:1tn Heb “for sin and for impurity.” The purpose implied here has been stated explicitly in the translation for clarity.sn This reference to the fountain opened up…to cleanse them from sin and impurity is anticipatory of the cleansing from sin that lies at the heart of the NT gospel message (Rom 10:9-10; Titus 3:5). “In that day” throughout the passage (vv. 1, 2, 4) locates this cleansing in the eschatological (church) age (John 19:37). New English Translation (NET)
“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 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.” New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.” New King James Version (NKJV)
The early rabbis saw a reference to Messiah ben Joseph who suffers and dies in Zch 12:10. Although Jewish scholars such as Isaac of Troki, and Kimchi argued for a reference to slain Israelites rather than a slain Messiah, some of the greatest rabbis like Rashi, Ibn Ezra, Abarvanel, and Alshech preferred a reference to Messiah ben Joseph. Clearly, this is an argument from oral tradition and extrabiblical sources; Zch 12:10 says nothing about Messiah ben Joseph. These Jewish scholars, however, reveal the antiquity of the “messianic interpretation.”
Zch 12:10 has a long history of interpretation, and Rex Mason summarizes the lack of consensus among its commentators over the identity of the one pierced:
Many have found it difficult to understand how the people [of Israel] could have been said to “pierce” Yahweh, and so they have emended the text to read “they shall look to him whom they have pierced” (the version found in John 19:37). Others have taken it to mean that they have pierced Yahweh by their treatment of his representative. Some have rendered the verse, “They shall look to me. (As for) him whom they have pierced, they will mourn for him…” Some have linked the “pierced one” with the good shepherd of ch. 11. Some have found a messianic reference here. Others have thought that there is an allusion to the Suffering Servant of Second Isaiah, or to a supposed feature of the earlier enthronement festival in which the king was ritually humiliated. Several have attempted to identify the “pierced one” with some historical figure, e.g., Onias III, the high priest, while still others have taken the “him” in a collective sense to represent the godly community which has been persecuted…
TEXTUAL INTEGRITY OF “TO ME”
The Hebrew text (specifically the Masoretic Text hereby referred to as the MT) reads “to me,” but some ancient medieval manuscripts have “to him.” The latter reading can significantly alter the meaning of the text and, therefore, necessitates a close investigation of the evidence for both options.
- G. Mitchell, among other Bible scholars, doubts the reliability of the MT because it makes God the object of the fatal piercing: “And they will look at Me (God) whom they pierced.” Mitchell believes if the author intended the Lord to be the object of the piercing, then he would not have switched from first person (“me”) to third person (“him”) in the second part of Zch 12:10 to describe the mourning; he would have used “me” throughout and made the idea obvious.
There are two problems with these common objections to the “to me” translation. First, although the concept of piercing God is difficult theologically, lower criticism (the study of surviving manuscripts in order to establish the original text) has nothing to do with one’s theological orientation. Second, Zechariah’s switch from first person to third person almost certainly represents a change in perspective, not an uncommon feature in the Hebrew OT (e.g., Zch 7:13; 9:10). Thus, it is likely that there is a switch from the Lord speaking of Himself to Zechariah speaking of the Lord in this text. This view is reflected in the HCSB through capitalization: “And they will look at Me whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him… and weep bitterly for Him” (emphasis added).
The reading of all the old versions such as the Septuagint (LXX), the Greek versions of Aquilla, Symmachus, and Theodotion, the Aramaic Targums, Syriac Peshitta, Old Latin Bible, and the Latin Vulgate all support the integrity of “to me.” Generally, if the versions agree on a reading, then that reading is most likely original (i.e., what Zechariah wrote). In fairness, “to him” is found in a number of manuscripts–but merely as a marginal note that eventually invaded the actual text itself.
Even the principles of lower criticism support the MT here. When confronted with thus type of textual issue, the first question is, Which reading is more likely to have caused the other? Did “to me” originate from “to him” or conversely did “to him” originate from “to me”? David Baron has suggested a reasonable solution for the existence of “to him” based on this principle: “‘To him’ originated in the very natural difficulty, from the Jewish point of view, pf conceiving how God, who is undoubtedly the speaker in the first part of the verse […] can be ‘pierced.’” One certainly has more difficulty explaining how “to him” would have given rise to “to me” since the tendency was for scribes to soften theological problems in the text, not the other way around.
Ultimately, those who reject “to me” use the NT to support “to him.” The apostle John quotes a singular phrase from Zch 12:10 in Jn 19:37: “They shall look on Him whom they pierced” (NASB, emphasis added). The NASB was chosen here because it uses “Him” and suggests John specified the true reading of Zch 12:10 as God led him, but “Him” is not required by the Greek text (cf. the New English Translation [NET]). Regardless, John could have used “Him” because he believes Jesus is God. So Jn 19:37 refers to “Him” who is the “Me” of Zch 12:10. Jesus is the object of the looking and is not the speaker in the NT, whereas the Lord is the object of the looking and speaker in the OT.
In view of the foregoing evidence, “to me” should be considered as original because there is no substantial evidence to the contrary. Those who accept “to him” or other revisions do so out of theological concern because the ancient versions and principles of lower criticism support “to me.” Thus, the Lord is the “Me” of Zch 12:10. (Daniel E. Stuart, The Moody Handbook of Messianic Prophecy: Studies and Expositions of the Messiah in the Old Testament, Michael Rydelnik and Edwin Blum (general editors) [Moody Publishers, Chicago, IL 2019], Zechariah 12:10-13:1, pp. 1287-1288)
INTERPRETATION OF “PIERCE”
Now that the subject (Israel) and object (God) of the verb “pierce” are clarified, the meaning of the verb may be studied. One issue this word study attempts to solve is whether a metaphorical interpretation of the verb is justifiable. The “metaphorical view” does not require viewing the verse as having a direct fulfillment at Jesus’ crucifixion and second coming. In its original context, the verse speaks metaphorically of Israel’s rejection of the Lord. John Calvin said, “The Jews had pierced His heart” and that the piercing prefigured Israel’s ultimate rejection of God in the person of Jesus. But this interpretation is inconsistent with how OT authors used the verb, as this study will show.
WORD STUDY OF “PIERCE”
“Pierce” translates the Hebrew daqar, which appears 13 times in the OT–11 times as a verb and twice as a noun. The verb is always used in reference to the human body (with the possible exception of Zch 12:10). On one occasion the weapon of choice is a spear (Nm 25:8), but usually the action involves a sword (sometimes the weapon is not specified). The weapon causes a fatal wound (except in Jer 37:10), often hastening a violent and almost always shameful death of one or more people (e.g., the shameful deaths of Abimelech and Saul). The basic idea behind the verb is “to pierce.”
Scholars debate the verb’s meaning in two passages. The first is Lam 4:9: “Those slain (chalal) by the sword are better than those slain (chalal) by hunger, who waste away, pierced (daqar) with pain because the fields lack produce” (HCSB, Hebrew author’s). According to HCSB, “pierced” and the second use of “slain” speak metaphorically of the pain and death caused by starvation. This might suggest that the piercing in Zch 12:10 could have a metaphorical meaning as well, but there are other translations of this text that do not require one to interpret these verbs figuratively. Besides, Lam 4:9 contains parallelism and poetry conducive for a figurative meaning–and these elements are not found in Zch 12:10. The second is Prv 12:18: “There is one who speaks rashly, like a piercing sword (daqar); but the tongue of the wise brings healing” (HCSB, Hebrew author’s). W. H. Lowe rightly notes how “the gnomic nature of the composition, and the use of the comparative preposition ‘like’ with ‘pierce’, prepare one for the figurative use of the word. Such is not the case [in Zch 12:10].”
Despite usage and the overwhelming evidence of the contexts, some scholars insist that the verb in Zch 12:10 must be understood metaphorically. For example, H. C. Leupold argues,
But if God is pierced, it is very obvious that the verb “they pierced” must be used in a figurative sense and not literally, for God cannot be literally pierced. A good parallel is Lev 24:11, 16, where also a verb for pierced is used (not daqar as here but naqab), and its object is the “name of God.” But “to pierce God’s name” must mean something like “profane his name.” The same meaning may, therefore, be assumed for the expression under consideration. At one time they insulted and blasphemed the Holy One.
There are three problems with Leupold’s reasoning. First, stating that the metaphorical meaning of the verb is obvious begs the question. Merrill Unger raises a second problem: the words for “pierce” are different, and Zechariah does not employ the idiom in Lv 24:11, 16 (“to pierce God’s name”). Third, chalal (pierce, fatally wound) is surely a better synonym than naqav, as chalal occurs in parallelism with daqar on two occasions (Jer 5:14 and Lam 4:9), unlike naqav.
Although the metaphorical view appears to be a genuine way of dealing with the theological tension “pierce” creates in Zch 12:10, it does not provide answers to the following two questions. First, if Zechariah meant the verb to be understood metaphorically, then why did he not use naqav, which clearly has a wider range of meaning than daqar? Second, does Zechariah’s use of the verb again in 13:3 not illustrate what is going on in 12:10? This can hardly be accidental. The juxtaposition of the two events by means of “pierced” implies that “the pierced one in 12:10 deserved honor but received the ultimate expression of disrespect–execution. The malefactor in 13:3 also suffered piercing, but he deserved his punishment.” In light of the parallelism, Zechariah meant both words to be read in the same way.
The context of Zechariah 12:10, specifically the excessive mourning in 12:11-14 as over one dead, combined with the verb’s consistent usage throughout the OT, suggest that Zechariah foresees the literal piercing of the Lord at the hands of His covenant people. The NT makes clear how this happens through the incarnate Son. (Ibid., pp. 1294-1295)
The author responds to the deliberate misinterpretation of the Hebrew by specific translators due to their theological and/or anti-Christian bias, and explains why the Septuagint version rendered it quite differently:
INTERPRETATION OF “WHOM”
The HCSB’s “whom” translates the Hebrew ‘et ‘asher. The table below categorizes the different ways this two-word phrase been [sic] translated (cf. italicized text).
The LXX (Greek translation of the Hebrew OT) has “because” (anth hon) instead of “whom.” Randolph Bynum suspects, however, that the LXX translator might have forced himself to use “because” based on his mistranslation of a key word and his attempt to harmonize the surrounding words to fit the sense of that one mistranslated word. This key Hebrew word is the verb daqar (pierce). Oddly, the LXX has instead “danced in mockery” (katorcheomai)–a word that occurs only once in the LXX. The variance probably arose because the LXX translator confused the consonants of the Hebrew verb daqar and accidently read raqad (dance.) These two Hebrew words look and sound the same, so it is possible that the translator had mistakenly switched the d and the r in daqar and read “dance” (raqad) instead of “pierce.” This explains why he wrote katorcheomai (dance in mockery).
If this translation scenario is true, then, according to Bynum, it would make better sense for the translator to use “whom” producing the difficult “they will look on me whom they danced in mockery” (emphasis added). Rather, in view of the mistranslated word “danced in mockery,” the translator was forced to use “because” in order to make sense of everything and wrote the more intelligible “they will look on me because they danced in mockery.” To this end, the reading “because” in the LXX should be rejected as this is not a careful translation of the Hebrew text.
The apostle John quoted Zch 12:10 in Jn 19:37 and alluded to it in Rev 1:7. Rev 1:7 reads, “Look! He is returning with the clouds, and every eye will see him, even those who pierced [hoitines] him, and all the tribes on the earth [or “on the land”] will mourn because of Him. This will certainly come to pass! Amen” (NET, Greek added), contrasting strongly with the LXX. The Gospel passage quotes part of Zch 12:10 and also disagrees with the LXX: “And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on the one whom [hon] they have pierced’” (NET, Greek added).
The Jewish Publication Society Bible (JPS) has, “And they shall look unto me because they have thrust him through” (emphasis added). Of course, ‘asher may sometimes mean “because.” However, when the definite direct object marker (‘et in Hebrew but usually untranslatable) appears before ‘asher, which is the case in Zch 12:10, then the word means “who, that, which.” In our context ‘et ‘asher simply means “whom” and refers to the Lord (“Me”).
The Korean Jerusalem Bible (JBK) has “And they shall look towards me, regarding those whom the nations have thrust through” (emphasis added). In a similar way, the New Jerusalem Publication Society Tanakh (NJPS) reads, “And they shall lament to me about those who are slain” (emphasis added). So according to these translations, Israel is looking to Yahweh with deep sorrow concerning their fellow Israelites whom the nations slated by the sword.
The problem with the JBK and NJPS are several. First, the NJPS renders, “they have pierced” (daqaru) improperly with “are slain,” as if it were in a passive voice (as if it were in the Hebrew Niphal stem); but, it is in the Hebrew Qal stem, so the verb should be translated in the active voice as “they pierced.” This mistranslation allows them to retain “about those who” and avoid using “whom,” which would make God the one pierced.
Second, according to the JBK the “nations” are the ones doing the piercing “regarding those whom the nations have thrust through.” “Nations” is not in the Hebrew text, and the most natural reading requires that Israel be the one doing the act, not the nations, since there is no indication of the subjects changing whatsoever for the verbs of “looking,” “piercing,” and “mourning.” A. McCaul agrees:
Now, in the first place, this interpretation introduces a new subject to the verb “pierce,” for which there is no authority. No one who reads the words, “They shall look upon me on account of him whom they have pierced,” would ever suppose that those who pierced are different from those who shall look; and still less that the one are the Gentiles, and the other the Jews. There is not the slightest intimation of a change of subject.
It is impossible that the “they” in “they pierced” is vague (indefinite persons). If this is true then its subject could be the nations, theoretically speaking. But, as David Mitchell states, “To assume the indefinite person for ‘they pierced’ is hardly warranted when ‘they will look’ only four words before is definite. And to assume a new definite subject (‘the nations’) when none intervenes amounts to rewriting the biblical text.” Regardless of what appears to place the full blame on the nations, careful analysis of this text and its context affirms that Israel pierces the Lord–which is why a fountain of cleansing for sin is opened specifically for them in Zch 13:1!
The reason for the sensitivity of Jewish translations to the idea that Israel would be guilty of piercing the Messiah is the church’s history of anti-Semitism based on the Christ-killer accusation against the Jewish people. Therefore, with regard to the human responsibility for piercing the Messiah, Walter C. Kaiser Jr. wisely warns, “This is not to add fuel to the fires of those who have castigated our Jewish neighbors by this stigma of being ‘Christ-killers.’ That slur is as unfair as it is untrue! In fact, the Messiah was put to death by the Jews and the Romans [italics his]. It is also true that He was put to death for the sins of all the world. So caution must be exercised in this area when describing the roles that were carried out by the first-century participants in the death of Christ.” Michael Rydelnik added, “These verses do indicate that at their end-time repentance, Jewish people will recognize that their ancestors were participants in the conspiracy against the Messiah, not that they acted alone or were perpetually guilty (Acts 4:27-28).”
Another problem with these versions is the insertion of “those” (standing for Israelites) before “who/whom.” (See Tables IV and V above.) What follows the relative pronoun is mourning over the death of a pierced individual (“Him/him”), not Israelites plural (“they”). It was already suggested that the switch from first person (“Me”) to third person (“Him”) in this text represents a change in perspective from the Lord speaking of Himself to Zechariah speaking of the Lord. However, it possible for “him” to stand for Israelites in the collective sense as “them,” which Hebrew occasionally allows.
This is the interpretation of the NJPS: “And they shall lament to Me about those who are slain, wailing over them as over a favorite son and showing grief as over a first-born” (emphasis added). While this translation is grammatically possible, the immediate context does not say anything about Israelites dying in this battle; rather, Zechariah explains how the weakest Israelite in that day experienced a metamorphosis of sorts, becoming like Israel’s greatest warrior, David, and like God himself (v. 8). Israel will utterly consume its enemies as fire devours a woodpile (v. 6). The eyes of the Lord will be on the house of Judah while He strikes the enemy’s cavalry with blindness and madness (v. 4). Zechariah consistently emphasizes Judah and Jerusalem as safe and defended on that great Day of the Lord.
The collective “them” also fails to appreciate how Zch 13 impinges upon the meaning of 12:10. That the cleansing and repentance of Israel in 13:1-6 is a response to the sin in 12:10 is likely for four reasons.(1) The prophet uses his key temporal expression “on that day” from chap. 12 to continue his discourse through into chap. 13. (2) The author’s second reference to “the house of David,” “the residents of Jerusalem,” and a “fountain” (similar to “pour”) in 13:1 indicates that 13:1 continues the language and thought begun in 12:10. (3) The cleansing fountain for sin and impurity in 13:1 is specifically opened for “the house of David” and “the inhabitants of Jerusalem.” (4) Zechariah uses “pierce” for a second time in 13:3 (a pun) and thereby associates the piercing in 13:3 with the one in 12:10. The logical conclusion is that Israel is participating in an illegal piercing in 12:10 as opposed to a lawful piercing in 13:3 and is now in need of cleansing for “sin” (chata’t) and “impurity” (niddah). These two terms appear in contexts where purification is needed once someone became ritually unclean through contact with a corpse, which correlates with the stabbing and death recorded in 12:10-14 (cf. Nm 19:13). Therefore, the Israelites are not mourning over what the nations have done to their fellow brothers (the collective “them”); Israel is mourning for their participation in the piercing of the Lord.
Closer to the true meaning of the text are those who suggest that “him” does not refer to the Lord per se but introduces a new subject into the verse, presumably a divine and/or suffering Messiah. In my judgment, that the author would introduce here a new subject who becomes the recipient of the mourning even though the Lord is pierced is overly complicated. Since the Lord is the one who is pierced, it logically follows that He is the one who is mourned over. Thus, the most natural and faithful way to render the verse is, “And they [Israel] will look at Me [God] whom they [Israel] pierced. They [Israel] will mourn for Him [God] as one mourns for an only child. (Ibid., pp. 1288-1293)
“Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, And against THE MAN, My Associate,’ Declares the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd that the sheep may be scattered; And I will turn My hand against the little ones.’” NASB
“‘Awake, O sword, against My Shepherd, Against THE MAN who is My Companion,’ Says the Lord of hosts. ‘Strike the Shepherd, And the sheep will be scattered; Then I will turn My hand against the little ones.’” NKJV
Second, as mentioned above, the smitten shepherd is identified as “My associate” (v. 7). He is associated with YHWH (“the LORD”). The Hebrew geber ‘amiti (“the man close to me”) implies one united to another by possession of common nature, rights, and privileges. The only other use of this term is in the priestly context of Leviticus (Lv 18:20; 19:11, 15, 17; 24:19; 25:14-15, 17) where it has the idea of neighbor, fellow, associate, or companion, and it is closely related to the word ‘ah (“brother”), such as in Lv 19:17; 25:14. J. Baldwin defines this as the one “who stands next to me,” indicating essentially an equal. In all of the early Christian discussion of this passage, the shepherd has a positive function as the one who is on God’s side.
The Targum translates Zch 13:7 as: “O sword, be revealed against the king and against the prince his companion WHO IS HIS EQUAL, WHO IS LIKE HIM…” indicating the two figures share a royal connection. The shepherd is often used as a figure of the ruling king, as in 1 Kg 22:17 where the prophet Micaiah predicts that the absence of the king would result in the sheep (Israel) being scattered on the mountains. The historical interpretation therefore understands this “associate” as a member of the failing Davidic dynasty (Zerubbabel or Elnathan). However, James Smith contends, “It is not likely that God would apply this epithet even to the most godly among men whom He might appoint as shepherd over the nations. Only one man could be denominated God’s equal, and that is the Messiah.” Since this equates the Lord who struck the shepherd with the shepherd himself, the only shepherd that would qualify would be a divine Messiah. This identification is appropriate biblically (cf. Isa 9:6-7; Jer 23:6; Dan 7:13; Pss 45:6-7; 110:1). In theological terms, the shepherd is a man, but he is also deity, and such a person could only be the God-man, the Lord Jesus (cf. Jn 1:1; 8:58; 14:9-10; 17:24; Rm 10:13; Col 2:9; Ti 2:13; Rev 1:8; 22:12-13 with Isa 44:6). (J. Randall Price, The Moody Handbook, Zechariah 13:7-9: The Striking of the Shepherd King, pp. 1306-1307; bold and capital emphasis mine)
“Then[at] Jesus said to them, ‘You will all fall away, for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.”[au] But after I am raised, I will go ahead of you into Galilee.’” Mark 14:27-28 NET
“So they took Jesus, and carrying his own cross[bc] he went out to the place called ‘The Place of the Skull’[bd] (called in Aramaic[be] Golgotha).[bf] There they[bg] crucified[bh] him along with two others,[bi] one on each side, with Jesus in the middle. Pilate also had a notice[bj] written and fastened to the cross,[bk] which read:[bl] ‘Jesus the Nazarene, the king of the Jews.’ Thus many of the Jewish residents of Jerusalem[bm] read this notice,[bn] because the place where Jesus was crucified was near the city, and the notice was written in Aramaic,[bo] Latin, and Greek. Then the chief priests of the Jews[bp] said to Pilate, ‘Do not write, “The king of the Jews,” but rather, “This man said, I am king of the Jews.”’ Pilate answered, ‘What I have written, I have written.’ Now when the soldiers crucified[bq] Jesus, they took his clothes and made four shares, one for each soldier,[br] and the tunic[bs] remained. (Now the tunic[bt] was seamless, woven from top to bottom as a single piece.)[bu] So the soldiers said to one another, ‘Let’s not tear it, but throw dice[bv] to see who will get it.’[bw] This took place[bx] to fulfill the scripture that says, ‘They divided my garments among them, and for my clothing they threw dice.’[by] So the soldiers did these things. Now standing beside Jesus’ cross were his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.[bz] So when Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing there, he said to his mother, ‘Woman,[ca] look, here is your son!’ He then said to his disciple, ‘Look, here is your mother!’ From that very time[cb] the disciple took her into his own home. After this Jesus, realizing that by this time[cc] everything was completed,[cd] said (in order to fulfill the scripture),[ce] ‘I am thirsty!’[cf] A jar full of sour wine[cg] was there, so they put a sponge soaked in sour wine on a branch of hyssop[ch] and lifted it[ci] to his mouth. When[cj] he had received the sour wine, Jesus said, ‘It is completed!’[ck] Then he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.[cl] Then, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies should not stay on the crosses on the Sabbath[cm] (for that Sabbath was an especially important one),[cn] the Jewish leaders[co] asked Pilate to have the victims’ legs[cp] broken[cq] and the bodies taken down.[cr] So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men who had been crucified[cs] with Jesus,[ct] first the one and then the other.[cu] But when they came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. But one of the soldiers pierced[cv] his side with a spear, and blood and water[cw] flowed out immediately. And the person who saw it[cx] has testified (and his testimony is true, and he[cy] knows that he is telling the truth),[cz] so that you also may believe. For these things happened so that the scripture would be fulfilled, “Not a bone of his will be broken.’[da] And again another scripture says, ‘They will look on the one whom they have pierced.’[db]” John 19:17-37
- John 19:36sn A quotation from Exod 12:46, Num 9:12, and Ps 34:20. A number of different OT passages lie behind this quotation: Exod 12:10 LXX, Exod 12:46, Num 9:12, or Ps 34:20. Of these, the first is the closest in form to the quotation here. The first three are all more likely candidates than the last, since the first three all deal with descriptions of the Passover lamb.
- John 19:37sn A quotation from Zech 12:10. Here a single phrase is quoted from Zech 12, but the entire context is associated with the events surrounding the crucifixion. The “Spirit of grace and of supplication” is poured out on the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem in the first part of v. 10. A few verses later in 13:1 Yahweh (typically rendered as “Lord” in the OT) says “In that day a fountain will be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for impurity.” The blood which flowed from Jesus’ pierced side may well be what the author saw as the connection here, since as the shedding of the blood of the sacrificial victim it represents cleansing from sin. Although the Jewish authorities and Roman soldiers certainly “looked on the one whom they have pierced” as he hung on the cross, the author may also have in mind the parousia (second coming) here. The context in Zech 12-14 is certainly the second coming, so that these who crucified Jesus will look upon him in another sense when he returns in judgment. NET
“(Look! He is returning with the clouds,[z] and every eye will see him, even[aa] those who pierced him,[ab]and all the tribes[ac] on the earth will mourn because[ad] of him. This will certainly come to pass![ae] Amen.)[af] ” Revelation 1:7
“So it was necessary for the sketches[y] of the things in heaven to be purified with these sacrifices,[z] but the heavenly things themselves required[aa] better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with hands—the representation[ab] of the true sanctuary[ac]—but into heaven itself, and he appears now in God’s presence for us. 25 And he did not enter to offer[ad] himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the sanctuary year after year with blood that is not his own, 26 for then he would have had to suffer again and again since the foundation of the world. But now he has appeared once for all at the consummation of the ages to put away sin by his sacrifice. 27 And just as people[ae] are appointed to die once, and then to face judgment,[af] 28 so also, after Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many,[ag] to those who eagerly await him he will appear a second time, not to bear sin[ah] but to bring salvation.”[ai] Hebrews 9:23-28 NET
Here is a list of the English versions of Zechariah 12:10 where the translators did not allow their theological beliefs and/or anti-supernatural bias get in the way of correctly rendering this verse.
“and they shall look unto 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 first-born.” American Standard Version
“And they will look at ME whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only son, and they will weep bitterly over Him as one who weeps bitterly over a firstborn.” Amplified Bible
“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. BRG Bible
“‘and they will look to ME, whom they pierced.” They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son; they will be in bitterness on his behalf like the bitterness for a firstborn son.” Complete Jewish Bible
“and they shall look on ME whom they pierced, and they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for an only [son], and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for [his] firstborn.” DARBY
“and they shall look upon ME, whom they have pierced: and they shall mourn for him as one mourneth for an only son, and they shall grieve over him, as the manner is to grieve for the death of the firstborn.” Douay-Rheims 1899 American Edition
“They will look to ME, the one they stabbed, and they will be very sad. They will be as sad as someone crying over the death of their only son, as sad as someone crying over the death of their firstborn son.” Easy-to-Read Version
“‘Then they will look at ME, the one they have pierced.’ They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child. They will grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves over his firstborn.” Evangelical Heritage Version
“when they look on ME, on him whom they have pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for an only child, and weep bitterly over him, as one weeps over a firstborn.” English Standard Version
“They will look at ME, the one they have ·stabbed [pierced], and they will ·cry [L mourn/lament for him] like someone ·crying [mourning; lamenting] over the death of an only ·child [son]. They will ·be as sad [grieve bitterly] as someone who has lost a firstborn son.” Expanded Bible
“and they shall look upon ME, whom they have pierced, and they shall lament for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and be sorry for him as one is sorry for his firstborn.” Geneva Bible
“They will look at ME, whom they have stabbed. Then they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they will cry bitterly for him as one cries for a firstborn son.” GOD’S WORD Translation
“and they will look at ME whom they pierced. They will mourn for Him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly for Him as one weeps for a firstborn.” Holman Christian Standard Bible
“‘and they will look to ME—the one whom they pierced.’ Then they will mourn for him, as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him, as for a firstborn son.” International Standard Version
“and they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn over him as one mourns for his only son, afflicting themselves over him as one afflicts himself over his firstborn.” Jubilee Bible 2000
“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.” Authorized King James Version
“‘and they will look to ME whom they pierced, and they shall mourn over him, as one wails over an only child, and they will grieve bitterly over him as one grieves bitterly over a firstborn.” Lexham English Bible
“They’ll then be able to recognize ME as the One they so grievously wounded—that piercing spear-thrust! And they’ll weep—oh, how they’ll weep! Deep mourning as of a parent grieving the loss of the firstborn child.” The Message
“so that they look to ME, whom they have pierced through. And they will mourn over him as one mourns for an only child and weep bitterly over him as a firstborn.” Modern English Version
“They will look at ME, whom they have stabbed. Then they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son, and they will cry bitterly for him as one cries for a firstborn son.” Names of God Version
“They will look at ME, the one they have stabbed, and they will cry like someone crying over the death of an only child. They will be as sad as someone who has lost a firstborn son.” New Century Version
“They will look to ME. I am the one they have pierced. They will mourn over ME as someone mourns over an only child who has died. They will be full of sorrow over ME. Their sorrow will be just like someone’s sorrow over an oldest son.” New International Reader’s Version
“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.” New International Version
“They will look on ME whom they have pierced and mourn for him as for an only son. They will grieve bitterly for him as for a firstborn son who has died.” New Living Translation
“and they shall look upon ME whom they have pierced [dakar, “pierce through” cf. Yeshayah 53:5; Targum HaShivim Tehillim 22:17], and they shall mourn for Him (Moshiach) as one mourneth for his yachid (only son), and shall grieve in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his bechor (firstborn).” Orthodox Jewish Bible
“when they will look toward ME whom they pierced. They will mourn for him as one mourns for an only son and grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for a firstborn.” Tree of Life Version
“As a result, they will look upon ME whom they pierced, they will grieve over Him as one grieves for an only child, and they will moan and weep for Him as one weeps for a firstborn son.” VOICE
“and they will look to ME whom they have pierced; and they shall mourn for him, as one mourns for his only son, and will grieve bitterly for him, as one grieves for his firstborn.” World English Bible
“and they shall behold to ME, whom they pricked. And they shall bewail him with wailing, as on the one begotten son; and they shall make sorrow on him, as sorrow is wont to be made in the death of the first begotten son… (and they shall look upon ME, whom they have pierced. And they shall bewail me with wailing, as if over their only child; and they shall make sorrow upon him, as sorrow is wont to be made upon the death of the first-born son.)” Wycliffe
“And they have looked unto ME whom they pierced, And they have mourned over it, Like a mourning over the only one, And they have been in bitterness for it, Like a bitterness over the first-born.” Young’s Literal Translation