In chapters 9 and 10 Messiah was pictured at His future 2nd coming as a wonderful shepherd receiving national acceptance. In chapter 11 we see Him pictured as the rejected shepherd.
Zechariah 11:1 - 3 Open your doors, O Lebanon, that fire may devour your cedars. Wail, O cypress, for the cedar has fallen, because the mighty trees are ruined. Wail, O oaks of Bashan, for the thick forest has come down. There is the sound of wailing shepherds! For their glory is in ruins. There is the sound of roaring lions! For the pride of the Jordan is in ruins.
Lebanon is known for its cedar trees.
Bashan (Golan Heights in the north of Israel) is known for the oak trees that grew in that region.
Zechariah proclaims a future destruction on Israel that was fulfilled when the Romans swept in from the north and destroyed the temple in 70 AD (CE) and also destroyed the nation of Israel at that time. The judgment is compared to fire consuming everything in its path from mighty trees to pasture lands.
The cause for the destruction is given in the following verses. Zechariah was used by G-d as an actor playing the part of the good shepherd, the Messiah, then later the foolish shepherd, the Anti-Messiah.
Zechariah 11:4-5 Thus says the L-RD my G-d, "Feed the flock for slaughter, whose owners slaughter them and feel no guilt; those who sell them say, 'Blessed be the L-RD, for I am rich'; and their shepherds do not pity them.
Israel, the flock, was fattened for the slaughter. Their shepherds, the religious leaders of the day, did not care for them but were only interested in money for their money. We have the same thing today in some religious organizations; the leadership does not care about the people. They only care about taking their money to get rich.
Zechariah 11:6 For I will no longer pity the inhabitants of the land," says the L-RD. "But indeed I will give everyone into his neighbor's hand and into the hand of his king. They shall attack the land, and I will not deliver them from their hand."
HaShem will lift His protective hand off of the Jewish people and turn them over to their neighbor’s (the Romans) and their king (Cesar) allowing them to be destroyed.
Zechariah 11:7 So I fed the flock for slaughter, in particular the poor of the flock. I took for myself two staffs: the one I called No’am (pleasantness), and the other I called Hovalim [bound together}; and I fed the flock.
Zechariah is speaking here; this is where he is acting out a roll that symbolizes the Messiah, the good shepherd feeding and caring for the flock.
The poor of the flock - The majority of those who accepted Yeshua HaMashiach when He came to feed His flock were poor.
The eleventh letter corresponding to this is Kaf, which signifies crowning accomplishment.
Middle Eastern Shepherds carried two sticks:
Zechariah 11:8 I dismissed the three shepherds in one month. My soul loathed them, and their soul (nephesh) also abhorred me.
This can be somewhat of a mystery and there are various viewpoints. They seem to represent, Prophet, Priesthood, and Kingship.
Zechariah 11:9 Then I said, "I will not feed you. Let what is dying die, and what is perishing perish. Let those that are left eat each other's flesh."
Malachi tells us that there were people who used old animals as a sacrifice before they died of natural causes, not giving G-d their best.
Here Zechariah plays the unnatural role of the shepherd that abandons caring for and feeding his flock. Those who refuse to accept Yeshua are to be given over to pursue their own desires and left unprotected from the adversary.
During the period of Roman siege of 70 AD some people in Israel resorted to cannibalism.
Zechariah 11:10 And I took my staff, Beauty, and cut it in two that I might break the covenant, which I had made with all the peoples(nation).
Here Zechariah representing the Messiah cut the shepherd’s crook, representing “grace”, in two.
Some covenants are conditional and some are unconditional. G-d never breaks an unconditional contract. A conditional contract depends on a response from the human side.
Here, because Israel as a nation did not obey the L-rd, and did not keep their part of the covenant, G-d withdrew His protection.
Zechariah 11:11 So it was broken on that day. The poor of the flock, who were watching me, knew that it was the word of the L-RD.
Here we see that there was to be a remnant, the poor of the flock, who were truly waiting on the L-rd and watching for their Mashiach. They understood the word of the L-rd and when “the word became flesh and dwelt among them” (John 1:14) They recognized Him and accepted Him as their Mashiach.