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with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born *. 10. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock. 11. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he-15. Thus saith the Lord, A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation and bitter weeping; Rachel, weeping, for her children †, refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not. 16. Thus saith the Lord; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears; for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy. 17. And there is hope in thy last end ‡, saith the Lord; and thy children shall come again to their own borders. 18. I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus: Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the Lord my God. 19. Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and, after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth. 20. Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for, since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him: I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the Lord. 21. Set thee up way-marks, make thee high-heaps: set thine heart toward the high-way, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities-27. Behold, the
* Ephraim is my first-born.] "Ephraim is often equivalent to Israel, especially when Israel denotes the ten tribes as distinct from Judah...This implies, that God will restore the nation of the Jews to their primitive state, as it stood before their separation into two kingdoms." Mr. Lowth in loc.
Rachel, weeping for her children.] This is applied by St. Matthew to the murder of the innocents by Herod: but he undoubtedly cites the prophecy only in the way of application. The whole context clearly shews, that it properly relates to the figurative mourning of the mother of the house of Joseph, on account of the dispersion of the ten tribes. See Dr. Blayney in loc. See also Mr. Lowth.
There is hope in thy last end.] The allegorical last end of Rachel is the re-establishment of her children as a people.
days come, saith the Lord, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast *. 28. And it shall come to pass, that, like as I have watched over them to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them to build, and to plant, saith the Lord -31. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: 32. Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the Lord; 33. But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34. And they shall teach no more, every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the Lord; for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the Lord: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more. 35. Thus saith the Lord, which giveth the sun for a light by day, the appointed courses of the moon and the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; the Lord of hosts is his name. 36. If those appointed courses depart from before me, saith the Lord, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for 37. Thus saith the Lord; If heaven above can be
*I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man and the seed of beast.] I will cause there to be a great increase both of men and cattle. Suscitabo domum Israel et domum Juda: multiplicabo eos hominibus, et prosperabo eos pecoribus (Chal. Paraph.). Seminabo domum Israel et domum Juda semine hominum et semine jumentorum (Vulg. Lat.). Seminabo Israelitis et Judais semen hominum et semen jumentorum (Vers. Syriac.). Seminabo Israelem et Judam semine humano et semine jumenti (Vers. Arab.). The passage nearly resembles a parallel prophecy of Ezekiel. "But ye, O mountains of Israel, ye shall shoot forth your branches, and yield your fruit to my people of Israel: for they are at hand to come. For behold, I am for you, and I will turn unto you, and ye shall be tilled and sown. And I will multiply men upon you, all the house of Israel even all of it; and the cities shall be inhabited, and the wastes shall be builded. And I will multiply upon you man and beast; and they shall increase and bring fruit: and I will settle you after your old estates, and will do better unto you than at your begin nings: and ye shall know that I am the Lord." Ezek. xxxvi. 8-.-11.
measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the Lord. 38. Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that the city shall be built to the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner. 39. And the measuring line shall yet go forth overagainst it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath. 40. And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horsegate toward the east, shall be holy unto the Lord: it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
Dr. Blayney makes the following judicious remarks on the prediction contained in these two chapters.
"There are many prophecies in various parts of the Old Testament, which announce the future restoration of Israel to their own land, and the complete re-establishment of both their civil and religious constitution in the latter days. These two chapters contain a prophecy of this kind, which must necessarily be referred to those times, because it points out circumstances, which certainly were not fulfilled at the return of the Jews from the Babylo nish captivity, nor have hitherto had their completion. For the people, that returned from Babylon, were the people of Judah, who had been carried away captive by Nebuchadnezzar; but here it is foretold, that not the сарtivity of Judah only should be restored, but the captivity of Israel also, meaning those ten tribes, that were carried away before by Shalmanaser king of Assyria, and who still remain in their several dispersions, having never returned, in a national capacity at least, to their own land, whatever some few individuals have done. But the terms of the prophecy entitle us to expect, not an obscure and partial, but a complete and universal, restoration; when God will manifest himself, as formerly, the God and patron of all the families of Israel, and not of a few only, Again, it is promised, that after this restoration they should no more fall under the dominion of foreigners,
but be governed by princes and magistrates of their own nation, independent of any but God and David their king. But this was not the case with the Jews that returned from Babylon. They then indeed had a leader, Zerubbabel, one of their own nation, and also of the family of David. But both their nation and the leader continued still in a state of vassalage and the most servile dependence upon the Persian monarchy. And, when the Grecian monarchy succeeded, they changed their masters only, not their condition: till at length, under the Asmonean princes, they had for a while an independent government of their own, but without any title to the name of David. At last they fell under the Roman yoke; since which time their situation has been such, as not to afford the least ground to pretend, that the promised restoration has yet taken place. It remains therefore to be brought about in future under the reign of the Messiah, emphatically distinguished by the name of David; when every particular circumstance, predicted concerning it, will, no doubt, be verified by a distinct and unequivocal accomplishment."
On these grounds, we may safely, I think, venture to pronounce, that the joint restoration of Judah and Israel in the last ages is again foretold in the present prediction of Jeremiah, as it already has been in the foregoing ones. The prophet begins with declaring, that, although they should certainly return into their own country, they should return, at least Judah should return in a day of unexampled trouble. Terrible however as that day will be, Jacob shall surely be saved out of it: the yoke of his oppressors shall be broken from off his neck: his children shall no longer serve strangers in the land of their dispersion but they shall serve the Lord their God, and the antitypical David their king the Messiah. Of the nations, among which they have been scattered, God will make a full end but of them he will not make a full end; for, although he will not leave them altogether unpunished, he will correct them only in exact measure. While they are chastised with a fatherly chastisement, the whirlwind of the Lord will go forth with fury, and fall upon the head of the wicked, Antichrist and his rebellious associates. The prophet adds, that, at the end of days, or after the
termination of the 1260 years, this prediction shall be fully understood: till then it shall not, for till then it will not be accomplished. As the time however of its completion approaches, we shall gradually obtain a clearer insight into it. Already have many begun to run to and fro; and knowledge is daily increasing, as the signs of the times multiply. In our own generation we have seen the rise of Antichrist. His ultimate fate is likewise predicted; and his destruction is declared to be contemporary with the restoration of the Jews at the close of the 1260 years. But over more minute circumstances the impenetrable veil of awful futurity still continues to spread itself. The anger of the Lord will not return, until he have performed all the purposes of his heart: when they are all performed, we shall then in the end of days fully understand both this and other similar prophecies.
In the remainder of the prediction, Jeremiah seems peculiarly to direct our attention to the restoration of the house of Israel, which will not take place till after the overthrow of Antichrist and the previous restoration of the house of Judah. Lost as the ten tribes at present are, though the figurative Rachel has long bewailed her scattered children, which in a remarkable manner are not, the virgin of Israel shall again go forth to the dance, the mountains of Samaria shall again be planted, and Ephraim shall not for ever be an alien from his God and Father. As the Lord hath hitherto watched over Judah and Israel only to destroy and afflict them; so will he then watch over them, to build and to plant. He will make a new and spiritual covenant with them. They shall no more be bound by laborious ceremonial observances. But they shall all know the Lord from the least to the greatest of them. Meanwhile Palestine shall exult in more than its ancient fertility; its population shall experience a wonderful increase; and every kind of useful animals shall be multiplied throughout its provinces. Thus will God bless the latter end of his chosen people, more than their beginning.