Unger firmly contends that 11:1–3 describes judgment in very strong terms, but he also attempts to avoid a figurative interpretation: “Nothing more than a literal interpretation is needed, and there is not the slightest reason to make the trees signify either nations or men despite such references as Isaiah 10:34; Ezekiel 17:8; Jeremiah 22:6; passim, where trees represent nations or men.”
Forty years before the destruction of the temple, the tract called “Massecheth Joma” states, its doors of their own accord opened, and Rabbi Johanan in alarm said, I know that thy desolation is impending according to Zechariah’s prophecy
Despite the fact that the flock of Judah belongs to God, the Lord himself does not sell the flock. One who owns a flock possesses the freedom to sell his flock at will without accountability to anyone. Nonetheless, the shepherds should show compassion to the flock and remorse for their actions against the sheep, a flock that does not even belong to them since they are merely hirelings. This emphasizes the point that the flock did not belong to the shepherds and therefore it was not theirs to sell. Nonetheless, the shepherds “do not spare them” (lōʾ yaḥmôl). The shepherds’ brutal treatment of a flock that was not even theirs plainly showed what worthless shepherds they were.