Word Study: Hiss “Sharak”


Hiss – Hebrew: sharak – hiss, whistle, signal.
Zechariah 10:8: “I will hiss for them and gather them for I have redeemed them.”
This is really a curious passage.  The word “hiss”  is “sharak”  in Hebrew.  You may find it translated as “whistle” or “signal”.   Sharak is used about 7 times in the Old Testament.  Five times it is used negatively and two times it is used positively.  It is not unusual for a Hebrew word to have both a positive and negative usage.  In this passage in Zechariah it is used in a positive sense.
The word has it’s origin in describing the sound made through a reed. It took on the usage for a musical instrument as a pipe or flute. The context indicates that this sound will cause the redeemed to gather.    This is curious in the sense that a gathering is usually called by a shofar.
We know that a shepherd in ancient times made reed instruments and would pass their time playing on this instrument as David would have done.  In Greek mythology the god Pan was considered the god of shepherds, flocks  and rustic music.   The god Pan is often pictured teaching shepherds to play the flute and you also see pictures of Pan playing his flute and dancing with a flock of sheep gathered around him.
James Merryweather, a Scottish scholar and researcher, observed that when he played a sound on his bagpipes similar to that of a flute he noticed all the sheep would stop what they were doing, usually grazing and eating, and gather together.  When he stopped they wandered away from each other and went back to their grazing and eating.
The picture of Pan playing his flute and dancing among the sheep really has its origins in a more ancient depiction.  We often view shepherds as old bearded men barely able to walk let alone dance.  Yet, the job of shepherding was often dumped on the youngest as Joseph and David. I don’t think it would stretch the imagination too much to picture David and Joseph playing a flute and dancing among the sheep to gather them together.  Perhaps the sheep instinctively desired to share in the Shepherd’s joy.
This passage could be a Messianic passage. A picture of Jesus playing a flute for us and dancing for pure joy as we, his sheep who have been redeemed gather close around him  to share in His joy.
Look at Zechariah 10:2: “Therefore they went their way as a flock, they were troubled because there was no shepherd.”
Our Shepherd, Jesus Christ “hisses” for us or plays a flute for us to gather us together to share His joy with us.   As Merryweather’s sheep instinctively gathered together at the sound of the pipes to share the joy of their shepherd.