In this section (https://answeringislamblog.wordpress.com/2019/06/10/jehovah-gets-pierced/) I am going to address the two main objections to reading Zechariah 12:10 as “they will look to/on Me.” Here, once again, is how the passage reads:
“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 Version (NASB)
Now contrast this with the following version:
“I will pour out on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem a spirit of mercy and supplication, so that when they look on him whom they have thrust through, they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and they will grieve for him as one grieves over a firstborn.” New American Bible Revised Edition (NABRE)
I’ve already provided the evidence for the reading “they will look to/on Me,” in the previous post. The textual data and ancient versions all confirm that this is the original reading.
Now in support for the variant “on him,” it is argued that this reading makes better sense within the context since the verse goes on to speak of the Jews mourning for him, not Me. It is claimed that it is difficult to see why the text would switch from a first person singular pronoun (“Me”) to a third person singular one (“him”).
It is further argued that John supports the latter reading since he cites this very text in his Gospel:
“And again another passage says: ‘They will look upon him whom they have pierced.’” John 19:37 NABRE
The fact that John’s citation employs the third person pronoun him, is seen as evidence that this is what Zechariah 12:10 originally said.
Even though these two objections were already dealt with in some of the citations that I quoted in the previous post, I am going to address them here for the benefit the readers.
To begin with, there are plenty of examples where God switches between first and third person address, as we find in the following references and within the very same chapter of Zechariah 12!
“On that day I will set Judah like a fiery pot among wood and as a flaming torch among cut grain. And they will devour to the right and left all the surrounding peoples, while Jerusalem will still reside in her place, the place of Jerusalem. The LORD will deliver the tents of Judah as before, so that the glory of the house of David and the glory of those dwelling in Jerusalem will not eclipse Judah. On that day the LORD will defend those residing in Jerusalem; and even the one who stumbles among them will be as David on that day. And the house of David will be like God, like the angel of the LORD going out before them. On that day I will seek to destroy all the nations who come out against Jerusalem. And I will pour out on the house of David and over those dwelling in Jerusalem a spirit of favor and supplication 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.” Zechariah 12:6-10
“For thus says the LORD of Hosts: He has sent Me after glory to the nations which plunder you, for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye. For I will swing My hand against them, and they will become plunder for their servants. Then you will know well that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me. Sing and rejoice, O daughter of Zion, for I am coming and will dwell in your midst, says the LORD. And many nations will join themselves with the LORD in that day, and they will be My people. And I will reside in your midst, and you will know that the LORD of Hosts has sent Me to you. And the LORD will possess Judah as His portion in the holy land, and He will again choose Jerusalem. Be still, all flesh before the LORD, for He is stirred from His holy habitation.” Zechariah 2:8-13
“And the word of the LORD came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the LORD of Hosts: Execute true justice, show mercy and compassion, every man to his brother. Do not oppress the widow, orphan, sojourner, or poor. And let none of you contemplate evil deeds in your hearts against his brother. But they refused to pay attention and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears so that they should not hear. They made their hearts hard like a diamond so as not to hear the instruction and words that the LORD of Hosts sent by His Spirit through the former prophets, and there was great anger from the LORD of Hosts. Therefore it happened that as I called, and they would not hear, so they called, and I would not hear, says the LORD of Hosts. So I scattered them about among all the nations whom they did not know, so the land was left desolate behind them with no one coming or going. And they made a desirable land desolate.” Zechariah 7:8-14
“My anger burns against the shepherds, and I will visit judgment on the male goats. For the LORD of Hosts will visit His flock, the house of Judah, and will make them like His majestic horse in battle. From him comes the cornerstone, and from him the tent peg. From him comes the bow for battle, and from him every ruler goes out, all these together. And they will be as mighty men, who trample down in the muddy streets in battle. They will fight because the LORD is with them, and He will put to shame those riding on horses. I will make strong the house of Judah, and will deliver the house of Joseph. I will restore them because I have compassion on them. They will be like I had never rejected them; for I am the LORD their God, and I will respond to them. Then Ephraim shall be like a mighty man, and their hearts shall rejoice as with wine. Their children shall see this and be glad; their hearts shall rejoice in the LORD. I will whistle to them and gather them in, for I have ransomed them; they will be numerous as they were numerous before. When I scatter them among the nations, they will remember Me in the distant lands; they will live with their children and then return. I will bring them home from the land of Egypt, and gather them from Assyria. I will bring them into the land of Gilead and Lebanon, until there is no room for them. He will pass through the sea of distress, and will put down the waves in the sea: All the depths of the Nile will be dried up; and the arrogance of Assyria will be brought down, and the scepter of Egypt will turn away. I will make them strong in the LORD, and they will go to and fro in His name, says the LORD.” Zechariah 10:3-12
“The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, on the top of the mountain. And the LORD called Moses up to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go down, warn the people, lest they force their way to the LORD to look, and many of them perish. Let the priests also, which come near to the LORD, sanctify themselves, lest the LORD break through against them.’ Moses said to the LORD, ‘The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, “Set boundaries around the mountain, and sanctify it.”’ Then the LORD said to him, ‘Go, get down, and come up, you and Aaron with you, but do not let the priests and the people force their way through to come up to the LORD, lest He break through against them.”” Exodus 19:20-24
“Now God spoke all these words, saying: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself any graven idol, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water below the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of them who hate Me, and showing lovingkindness to thousands of them who love Me and keep My commandments. You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain, for the LORD will not hold guiltless anyone who takes His name in vain.” Exodus 20:1-7
We even find this phenomenon employed in the NT as well:
“Therefore they could not believe. For Isaiah said again: ‘He has blinded their eyes and hardened their hearts, lest they should see with their eyes and perceive with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.’” John 12:39-40
“For it is written: ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.’” Romans 14:11
This brings me to my next point. The NT often cites the Old Testament quite loosely, in a less than literal manner, and/or quotes a different form of the Hebrew text. For instance, compare how the NT writers cite the following OT passages:
“‘Awake, O sword, against My shepherd and the man of My association,’ says the LORD of Hosts. Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will scatter. I will turn My hand against the small ones.” Zechariah 13:7
“Then Jesus said to them, ‘All of you will fall away on account of Me this night, for it is written: “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered.”’” Matthew 26:31
These next cases are quite interesting:
“You have ascended on high, You have led captivity captive; You have received gifts from people, yes, even from the rebellious, that the LORD God might dwell among them.” Psalm 68:18
Here we have the Psalmist employing the second person singular pronouns to refer God. Compare this with how Paul cites it:
“Therefore He says: ‘When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.’” Ephesians 4:8
Note how the Apostle switches from the second person to the third person singular.
“I will send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord, whom you seek, will suddenly come to His temple, even the messenger of the covenant, in whom you delight. He is coming, says the LORD of Hosts.” Malachi 3:1
In this prophecy, Jehovah refers to himself in the third person, which is then changed by the Gospel writers:
“For this is he of whom it is written: ‘Look, I am sending My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’’’ Matthew 11:10 – Cf. Luke 7:27
“As it is written in the Prophets: ‘Look, I am sending My messenger before Your face, who will prepare Your way before You.’” Mark 1:2
Instead of Jehovah speaking of himself in the third person, the prophecy now has God employing second person address to refer to someone else, namely, Jesus Christ.
What the foregoing shows is that just because John employs the third person singular pronoun in his citation of Zechariah 12:10, this does absolutely nothing to prove that this is the original reading of the verse in question.
The fact is that the textual evidence and ancient versions all point in the same direction, namely, the passage from Zechariah speaks of Jehovah God being physically pierced through, an event which took place the day the Lord Jesus was pierced by a Roman soldier’s spear as he died on the cross for the sins of creation.
This in itself explains why certain copies of Zechariah were changed from Me to him. The scribes that produced those manuscripts were obviously troubled by a prophecy, which foretold that God would be physically thrust through, one that confirmed the Christian understanding that Jesus Christ is none other than that very God whom the Jews handed over to the Romans to pierce him as he hung on the cross for their salvation.
As the translators of the NET Bible put it:
tn Or “on me.”
tc 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 The Hebrew term בְּכוֹר (bkhor, “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). (NET Bible https://netbible.org/bible/Zechariah+12; underline emphasis ours)
So much for the feeble attempt of getting around this rather clear and explicit prophecy to God becoming flesh in order to be pierced through by his people in order to bring about their salvation, as well as the salvation of the nations.