Three shepherds also I cut off in one month
Not Moses, Aaron, and Miriam, as is suggested in the Talmud F5; nor David, Adonijah, and Joab, who died in the space of a month; nor the three kings, Jehoash, Jehoiakim, and Zedekiah, who died by the hand of their enemies in a very little time; which is the sense of some, as Abendana observes; nor the three last prophets, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, according to Aben Ezra; nor the three Maccabees, Judas, Jonathan, and Simon, as Abarbinel; rather the three sects among the Jews, the Pharisees, Sadducees, and Essenes, instead of which last some put the Herodians; and others the Scribes; though some are of opinion that the three sanhedrim or courts of judicature among the Jews are designed; but it seems best of all to interpret them of the three orders of magistrates among them, princes, prophets, and priests; and the "cutting" them "off" may denote the cessation of civil government, the sealing up of vision and prophecy, and the putting an end to sacrifice; which is much better than to interpret them of the three Roman emperors who succeeded Nero; that is, Galba, Otho, and Vitellius, who were put to death by their own subjects, within the space of a year and some days F6; and which is a term of time that can not well be thought to be expressed by a month; which either signifies in general a small space of time; or, if a certain month is meant, either it designs the month Nisan, in which Christ suffered, when of right sacrifice should have ceased, as well as then prophecy was sealed up, and there was no more of it among the Jews, nor any civil government in their hands: or else the month Ab, in which the city of Jerusalem was burnt; and so an end was put in fact to all the above offices there. It may be that a month of years is intended, as in ( Revelation 11:2 ) ( 13:5 ) and so Abarbinel here interprets it; though he applies it to the times of the Maccabees; but it may respect the thirty years, or thereabout, which were between the death of Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, within which compass of time the above events were actually and manifestly fulfilled: and my soul loathed them;
because they did not perform the duties of their office; the civil magistrate did not govern according to the laws of God; the prophets did not teach sound doctrine; and the priests did not do their service aright, nor teach the people the use and end of sacrifices, and in them direct to the Messiah, as they should have done: wherefore Christ expressed his dislike of them by words in his ministry, particularly in Matthew chapter twenty three, ( Matthew 23:1-39 ) and by deeds, causing vengeance to come upon them to the entire removal of them: or, "my soul was shortened", or "contracted in them", or "towards them" F7; his affections were lessened towards them; he loathed their ways and works, which were not good; and he rejected and cast them off as his people, and wrote a "loammi" on them; took away his Gospel from them, and abolished their civil and church state: and their soul also abhorred me;
which is the reason of the former; and so the Targum paraphrases it,
``and my Word cast them away, because their soul abhorred my worship;''all ranks and orders of men among the Jews had Christ in abhorrence; they abhorred his person, his name, his miracles, his doctrines, his ordinances, and his people; this they did because of his mean appearance; and because of his inveighing against their traditions, superstitions, and immoralities; and this appeared by their contemptuous rejection of him as the Messiah; by their crucifixion of him; and by persecuting his disciples and followers.
F5 T. Bab. Taanith, fol. 9. 1.
F6 Calmet's Dictionary, in the word "Shepherds".
F7 (Mhb yvpn ruqtw) "et abbreviata est anima mea in eis", Montanus, Cocceius, Burkius; "coarctata est", Calvin; "contractabatur, [vel] contrahetsese", Vatablus; "contracta est", Drusius, Grotius.