How do Jews generally view/regard this verse?

And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplication; and they shall look unto Me because they have thrust him through; 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.
Zechariah 12:10

Who is the one who "the house of David" and/or "the inhabitants of Jerusalem" thrust through? Christians understand this as a reference to Jesus, but obviously Jews do not.

  • 4
    Jews For Judaism has an article about this very verse..
    – HodofHod
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 23:03
  • I think the author of that article makes some false assumptions about the passage in John. I don't think John was saying Zech 12:10 was fulfilled at that point, but that these things happened so that it might be fulfilled (in the future). Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 23:43
  • @HodofHod That article doesn't add up. In the passage, they refers to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, who both thrust him through and are in mourning (at some later time). This article describes "they" as the Jewish nation, but their adversaries as the ones who "thrust him through" .. which can't be correct. Commented Oct 8, 2012 at 19:58
  • @HodofHod that link no longer works. Here is an updated and archived one from Jews for Judaism: Analysis of Zechariah 12:10 Commented Jun 16 at 20:38

5 Answers 5


Rashi says that it refers to Mashiach ben Yosef:

כמספד על היחיד: כאשר יספוד איש על בן יחידו ורבותינו דרשוהו על משיח בן יוסף שנהרג במסכת סוכה

as one mourns over an only son: As a man mourns over his only son. And our Sages expounded this in tractate Sukkah (52a) as referring to the Messiah, son of Joseph, who was slain.

  • No he doesn't. I think you're looking at the wrong Divre Hamatchil.
    – Double AA
    Commented Oct 5, 2012 at 23:01
  • @DoubleAA - This is actually discussed in סוכה נב. I think ba is referring to the מצודת ציון who refers to this.
    – Fred
    Commented Oct 7, 2012 at 4:05
  • I can't read Hebrew. Could you please enlighten me on what he says about this? Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 21:25
  • @Shredder chabad.org/library/bible_cdo/aid/16216/showrashi/true
    – b a
    Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 21:41

Textually, it seems to be referring to anyone of the inhabitants of Jerusalem whom the coerced Judah-ites and other enemies might have killed during the end of days battle.

  • The text says the inhabitants of Jerusalem (and the house of David) are the ones doing the thrusting (not the ones being thrusted). Sorry if I misunderstood. Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 20:54
  • my text reads "They will look toward me because of those whom they have stabbed" with They referring to both the inhabitants (verse 2) who were forced to fight and those others who rose against Jerusalem (verse 9).
    – rosends
    Commented Oct 10, 2012 at 23:18
  • What text are you using? Can you point me to an online reference? I got this from Mechon-Mamre.org, which I was told is agreeably the most accurate Commented Oct 11, 2012 at 21:23
  • I copied it from the English of the Stone edition tanach.
    – rosends
    Commented Oct 12, 2012 at 12:39

Rashi does say our sages expounded on 'as one mourns over an only son' as messiah ben Joseph and gives us the source tractate sukka (52a).

I am only one jew but in a jewish highscool in Melbourne long ago we learnt this was the source for the messiah Ben Joseph.

And personally I am very confident that this is talking about the future and an end time war.

We were also taught that there is multiple prophecies in tanach regarding how we get to the messianic age and depending what we merit will be the when and how it comes about.

There is a famous verse that certainly goes well here when summarising a bit of the messiah Ben joseph idea. Isaiah 59.20. The idea is that the redemption will not come until the jewish people do teshuvah and that is the whole point of the death of messiah Ben joseph in 12.10 here who preceeds the messiah ben david.

Isaiah 59.20 "And a redeemer shall come to Zion, and to those who repent of transgression in jacob, says the Lord".

Please see after this death in verse 10 the next couple verses, there is th mourning that that is triggered.


I think it may refer to Zerubbabel, the Persian-appointed governor of Judea who was in the royal line of David. Both Haggai and Zechariah had great hope in him. The latter calls him one of two 'anointed ones' (together with the high priest Joshua), represented in his "Two Olive Trees" vision. (Zech. 4:14) The former gets quite specific:

I am about to destroy the strength of the kingdoms of the nations, and overthrow the chariots and their riders; and the horses and their riders shall go down, every one by the sword of his fellow. On that day, says the Lord of hosts, I will take you, O Zerub′babel my servant, the son of She-al′ti-el, says the Lord, and make you like a signet ring; for I have chosen you, says the Lord of hosts.” (Haggai 2:22-23)

But somehow, Zerubbabel disappeared from history without this prophecy being fulfilled. Some commentators speculate that he was killed by agents of the Persians, who saw him as a threat, due to complaints by Samaritans who were excluded from participating in the rebuilding of the Temple. For example the Jewish Encyclopedia refers to a theory of Ernst Sellin that:

Zerubbabel was actually made King of Judah, but was overthrown and put to death by the Persians. This kingdom, he believes, was regarded as Messianic.

If Zerubbabel was the one who was thrust through then, the mourners are those who, along with Zechariah and Haggai, looked to Zerubbabel with the hope that he would restore David's kingdom.

see this question for a discussion of translation issues in the OP's verse.


The Ibn Ezra:

ושפכתי - אשפוך רוח חן ותחנונים על יושבי ירושלם, טרם זה תעבור עליהם בתחלה צרה, כי משיח בן יוסף יהרג, אז יכעס השם וישמיד את כל הגוים הבאים על ירושלם, וזהו והביטו אלי- אז יביטו כל הגוים אלי לראות מה אעשה לאלה אשר דקרו משיח בן יוסף.

Metzudat David:

והמר - יבכו עליו במרירות לב כמו שממררים בבכי על מיתת הבכור

כמספד על היחיד - כמו המספד שאדם עושה על מיתת בן יחיד

והביטו אלי - לשאול משפט להשיב גמול את אשר דקרו ועל משיח בן יוסף יאמר שמת במלחמה כן ארז"ל

ושפכתי - ר"ל אתן בשפע על בית דוד וגו' רצון המשכת חן על עצמם ורצון הפצרת תחנונים לפני

and Abravanel:

וכן אומרו ושפכתי על בית דוד ועל יושבי ירושלם רוח חן ותחנונים ואמר על בני יהודה שהם כולם נקראים בית דוד, ועל השאר השבטים שנכללו ביושבי ירושלם אמר ויושבי ירושלם, וזכר שיהיה יקר בעיני ה' המותה לאותו חסיד עד שבעבור זה יבקש דרכים להשמיד את כל הגוים רוצה לומר שכאשר ימות משיח בן יוסף במלחמה יחרה אף ה' וקנאתו בגוים ההם ולכן יסבב סבות ביניהם להתחזק מלחמתם כדי להומם ולאבדם, וכן יהיה ששם יהיו נשמדים רובם והשלישית יותרו בה רובו ככולו, ויסייע לזה שישפוך השם עליהם רוח חן ותחנונים כלומר שיתן בלבם להתפלל ולהתחנן לפניו על מות אותו צדיק וישאו עיניהם למרום ויביטו אליו יתברך על אותו שלם שידקרוהו האויבים ויאמרו לפניו יתברך רוח אפנו משיח ה' נלכד בשחיתותם של האויבים אשר אמרנו בצלו נחיה בגוים וספדו עליו כמספד על הבן היחיד לאביו.

all interpreted this as referring to Mashiach ben Yosef.

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