That then the LORD your God will turn your captivity, and have compassion on you, and will return and gather you from all the nations, where the LORD your God has scattered you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)The Lord thy God will turn thy captivity.—The word “turn” is not active as we should expect (in the Hebrew), but neuter, and upon this fact the Rabbis have grounded the following observation that “in some way the Shechinah is abiding upon Israel during the stress of their captivity, and whensoever they are redeemed, He has prescribed Redemption for Himself, that He will return with them.” And further, that the day of the gathering of the captivity is great, and attended with difficulty; as though He Himself must be there to take hold visibly of the hand of each man, and bring him from his place, as it is said, “And ye shall be gathered one by one, O ye children of Israel” (Isaiah 27:12). But it is observed that the same form of the verb is employed in Jeremiah with respect to Moab (Jeremiah 48:47). This note at least shows that the Jews look for the fulfilment of this prophecy as a thing yet to come.Deuteronomy 30:3. The Lord will turn thy captivity — That is, will bring back thy captives, as the following words imply. Indeed, captivity is often put for captives, Psalm 14:7; and Psalm 68:18; Jdg 5:12. This was fulfilled in part when they returned from Babylon, and will be more completely fulfilled when they shall turn from ungodliness, and believe with their heart unto righteousness in Jesus of Nazareth, as the Son of God, and true Messiah; but surely not before; for as they were cast out of their own land for rejecting him, it is not to be supposed that they will be restored to it till they receive him. Nor is there any intimation in any part of Scripture that they shall. Their repentance and reformation must precede their obtaining this mercy: see Romans 11:26. Thus Moses here, When thou shalt return unto the Lord with all thy heart and all thy soul, then the Lord will have compassion upon thee, and gather thee from all the nations, &c. Till then any efforts that may be used to re-establish them in Canaan will prove ineffectual.Psalm 14:7; Psalm 85:2; Jeremiah 30:18). The rendering of the Greek version is significant; "the Lord will heal thy sins."
The promises of this and the following verses had no doubt their partial fulfillment in the days of the Judges; but the fact that various important features are repeated in Jeremiah 32:37 ff, and in Ezekiel 11:19 ff, Ezekiel 34:13 ff, Ezekiel 36:24 ff, shows us that none of these was regarded as exhausting the promises. In full analogy with the scheme of prophecy we may add that the return from the Babylonian captivity has not exhausted their depth. The New Testament takes up the strain (e. g. in Romans 11), and foretells the restoration of Israel to the covenanted mercies of God. True these mercies shall not be, as before, confined to that nation. The "turning again of the captivity" will be when Israel is converted to Him in whom the Law was fulfilled, and who died "not for that nation only," but also that he might "gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad" John 11:51-52. Then shall there be "one fold and one shepherd" John 10:16. But whether the general conversion of the Jews shall be accompanied with any national restoration, any recovery of their ancient prerogatives as the chosen people; and further, whether there shall be any local replacement of them in the land of their fathers, may be regarded as of "the secret things" which belong unto God Deuteronomy 29:29; and so indeed our Lord Himself teaches us Acts 1:6-7.
De 30:1-10. Great Mercies Promised unto the Penitent.
1-10. when all these things are come upon thee, … and thou shalt return … then the Lord thy God will turn thy captivity—The hopes of the Hebrew people are ardently directed to this promise, and they confidently expect that God, commiserating their forlorn and fallen condition, will yet rescue them from all the evils of their long dispersion. They do not consider the promise as fulfilled by their restoration from the captivity in Babylon, for Israel was not then scattered in the manner here described—"among all the nations," "unto the utmost parts of heaven" (De 30:4). When God recalled them from that bondage, all the Israelites were not brought back. They were not multiplied above their fathers (De 30:5), nor were their hearts and those of their children circumcised to love the Lord (De 30:6). It is not, therefore, of the Babylonish captivity that Moses was speaking in this passage; it must be of the dispersed state to which they have been doomed for eighteen hundred years. This prediction may have been partially accomplished on the return of the Israelites from Babylon; for, according to the structure and design of Scripture prophecy, it may have pointed to several similar eras in their national history; and this view is sanctioned by the prayer of Nehemiah (Ne 1:8, 9). But undoubtedly it will receive its full and complete accomplishment in the conversion of the Jews to the Gospel of Christ. At the restoration from the Babylonish captivity, that people were changed in many respects for the better. They were completely weaned from idolatry; and this outward reformation was a prelude to the higher attainments they are destined to reach in the age of Messiah, "when the Lord God will circumcise their hearts and the hearts of their seed to love the Lord." The course pointed out seems clearly to be this: that the hearts of the Hebrew people shall be circumcised (Col 2:2); in other words, by the combined influences of the Word and spirit of God, their hearts will be touched and purified from all their superstition and unbelief. They will be converted to the faith of Jesus Christ as their Messiah—a spiritual deliverer, and the effect of their conversion will be that they will return and obey the voice (the Gospel, the evangelical law) of the Lord. The words may be interpreted either wholly in a spiritual sense (Joh 11:51, 52), or, as many think, in a literal sense also (Ro 11:1-36). They will be recalled from all places of the dispersion to their own land and enjoy the highest prosperity. The mercies and favors of a bountiful Providence will not then be abused as formerly (De 31:20; 32:15). They will be received in a better spirit and employed to nobler purposes. They will be happy, "for the Lord will again rejoice over them for good, as He rejoiced over their fathers."Turn thy captivity, i.e. bring back thy captives, as captivity is taken, Psalm 14:7 Ephesians 4:8. Gather thee, i.e. thy children; either spiritually such, as it is explained John 11:51,52; or literally such, as it is promised Ro 11. Jeremiah 30:18; The Targum of Jonathan is,"his Word shall receive with good will your repentance;''it being cordial and unfeigned, and fruits meet for it brought forth:
and will return and gather thee from all the nations whither the Lord thy God scattered thee; or, "will again gather thee" (k); as he had gathered them out of all places where they had been scattered, on their return from the Babylonish captivity; so will he again gather them from all the nations of the earth, east, west, north, and south, where they are now dispersed; when they shall turn to the Lord, and seek David their King, the true Messiah. Maimonides (l) understands this passage of their present captivity, and deliverance from it by the Messiah.That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. turn thy captivity] The Heb. phrase can hardly mean this, for the return from captivity comes later in this passage, in Deuteronomy 30:4, and such a sense is impossible in Job 42:10. Render turn thy fortune. So Amos 9:14, Hosea 6:11, Ezekiel 16:53; Ezekiel 16:55, and frequently in Jer.
have compassion upon thee] Deuteronomy 13:17.
gather thee] So frequently in Jer. and Ezek.
scattered thee] Deuteronomy 28:64.Verse 3. - The Lord thy God will turn thy captivity. This does not mean will cause thy captives to return, for
(1) the verb in Kal (as it is here, שָׁב) never has the force of the Hiph.; and
(2) the returning of the dispersed is afterwards referred to as consequent on the turning of the captivity. The plural is used here as elsewhere to indicate the cessation of affliction or suffering (cf. Job 41:10; Psalm 14:7; Psalm 85:2; Psalm 126:1, 4; Jeremiah 30:18; Ezekiel 16:53). The rendering of the LXX. here is noticeable, καὶ ἰάσεται Κύριος τὰς ἁμαρτίας: "and the Lord will heal thy sins," i.e. will remit thy guilt and will deliver thee from the pernicious and destructive power of sin (cf. Psalm 41:4; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 17:14; Hosea 14:4; Matthew 13:15, etc.). Deuteronomy 4:19). "All the curses," etc., are the curses contained in Deuteronomy 28:15-68; Leviticus 26:14-38. - Those who give the answer close their address in Deuteronomy 29:29 with an expression of pious submission and solemn admonition. "That which is hidden belongs to the Lord our God (is His affair), and that which is revealed belongs to us and our children for ever, to do (that we may do) all the words of this law." That which is revealed includes the law with its promises and threats; consequently that which is hidden can only refer to the mode in which God will carry out in the future His counsel and will, which He has revealed in the law, and complete His work of salvation notwithstanding the apostasy of the people.
(Note: What the puncta extraordinaria above (ע)ד וּלבנינוּ לנוּ mean, is uncertain. Hiller's conjecture is the most probable, "that they are intended to indicate a various reading, formed by the omission of eleven consonants, and the transposition of the rest עולם והנגדלות (at magnalia saeculi sunt);" whereas there is no foundation for Lightfoot's notion, that "they served as a warning, that we should not wish to pry with curiosity into the secret things of God, but should be content with His revealed will," - a notion which rests upon the supposition that the points are inspired.)
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