Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke, , at sacred-texts.com
After the humiliation and conversion of the Jews, foretold in the preceding chapter, they are here promised the full pardon of their sins, and a deliverance from idolatry and false prophets, Zac 13:1-6. Prophecy concerning the death of the Messiah, and the persecution of his disciples, Zac 13:7. The remaining verses may refer to those Jewish converts to Christianity who survived the calamities which their country suffered from the Romans, Zac 13:8, Zac 13:9.
In that day there shall be a fountain opened - This chapter is a continuation of the preceding, and should not have been separated from it.
A fountain - The source of mercy in Christ Jesus; perhaps referring to the death he should die, and the piercing of his side, when blood and water issued out.
To the house of David - To David's family, and such like persons as it included. See the history of David and his sons, and then learn for whom Christ shed his blood.
Inhabitants of Jerusalem - Such like persons as the Jews were in every part of their history, and in their last times, when they clamoured for the blood of Christ, and pursued him unto death! Learn from this also for whom Christ died! These were the worst of the human race; and if he died for them, none need despair. They rejected, betrayed, crucified, slew, and blasphemed Christ, and afterwards persecuted his followers. For these he died! Yes: and he tasted death for Every Man.
For sin and for uncleanness - For the removal of the guilt of sin, and for the purification of the soul from the uncleanness or pollution of sin.
I will cut off the names of the idols - There shall not only be no idolatry, but the very names of the idols shall be forgotten, or be held in such abhorrence that no person shall mention them. This prophecy seems to be ancient, and to have been delivered while idolatry had prevalence in Israel and Judah.
I will cause the prophets - All false teachers.
And the unclean spirit - That which leads to impurity, the spirit of divination; the lust of the flesh, and of the eye, and the pride of life. Satan shall have neither a being in, nor power over, the hearts of sincere believers in Christ.
When any shall yet prophesy - Falsely; such shall be the horror of such an evil, that there shall be no toleration of it. Itself, and they who practice it, shall be everywhere destroyed.
Neither shall they wear a rough garment - A rough garment made of goats' hair, coarse wool, or the course pile of the camel, was the ordinary garb of God's prophets. And the false prophets wore the same; for they pretended to the same gifts, and the same spirit, and therefore they wore the same kind of garments. John Baptist had a garment of this kind.
But he shall say, I am no prophet - This must be the case of a false prophet or diviner, who had been obliged to give up his infamous practice, and become even a laborer in the land. But having been known to be such, he is questioned by the people to see if he still were addicted in heart to the same practices. He declares he is no prophet, neither true nor false; that he is now a husbandman, and was brought up a herdsman.
What are these wounds in thine hands? - Marks which he had received in honor of his idols. But he shall excuse himself by stating that he had received these marks in his own family; when, most probably, they had been dedicated to some of those idols. See the note on Isa 44:5. I do not think that these words are spoken at all concerning Jesus Christ. I have heard them quoted in this way; but I cannot hear such an application of them without horror. In quoting from the Old Testament in reference to the New, we cannot be too cautious. We may wound the truth instead of honoring it.
Awake, O sword, against my Shepherd - This is generally understood of Jesus Christ. The sword is that of Divine justice which seemed to have been long asleep, and should long ago have struck either Man, or his Substitute, the Messiah. Jesus is here called God's Shepherd, because he had appointed him to feed and govern, as well as to save, the whole lost world. This is a prosopopoeia, and the address to the sword is very poetic. There is a fine passage in Aeschylus to the same effect: -
Ξενος δε κληροις επινωμᾳ,
Χαλυβος Σκυθων αποικας,
Πικρος, ωμοφρων σιδαρος,
Χθονα ναιειν διαπηλας
Ὁποσαν αν και φθιμενοισι κατεχειν,
Των μεγαλων πεδιων αμοιροις,
Aeschyl. Sept. cont. Hebrews 733.
"The rude barbarian, from the mines
Of Scythia, o'er the lots presides;
Ruthless to each his share assigns,
And the contested realm divides:
To each allots no wider a domain
Than, on the cold earth as they lie,
Their breathless bodies occupy,
Regardless of an ampler reign:
Such narrow compass does the sword -
A cruel umpire - their high claims afford."
The man that is my Fellow - ועל גבר עמיתי veal geber amithi, "upon the strong man," or "the hero that is with Me;" my neighbor. "The Word was God, and the Word was With God;" Joh 1:1. "I and my Father are One;" Joh 10:30.
Smite the Shepherd, and the sheep shall be scattered - This is quoted by our Lord, Mat 26:31, in relation to his disciples, who should be scattered on his crucifixion: and they were so; for every one, giving up all for lost, went to his own house.
And I will turn mine hand upon the little ones - I will take care of the little flock, and preserve them from Jewish malice and Gentile persecution. And so this little flock was most wondrously preserved, and has been increasing from year to year from that time to the present day.
Two parts therein shall be cut off - In the war with the Romans.
But the third shall be left - Those who believe on the Lord Jesus Christ shall be preserved alive; and not one of these perished in the siege, or afterwards, by those wars.
I will bring the third part through the fire - The Christian Church shall endure a great fight of afflictions, by which they shall be refined - not consumed.
They shall call on my name - In this way shall they offer all their prayers and supplications to God.
I will say, It is my people - The Church that I have chosen in the place of the Jews who have filled up the measure of their iniquity.
And they shall say, The Lord is my God - And thus communion shall be established between me and them for ever. Thus there shall be a general restoration.