Ezekiel 37:21
And say to them, Thus said the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, where they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
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(21) Will gather them.—The restoration of Israel from their captivity among the heathen here, as often elsewhere, is the first step in the fulfilment of the Divine promises. This, however, like the other Divine promises, was fulfilled only to a “remnant,” a course which, as St. Paul shows in Romans 9, had been foreseen and foretold from the first. A fulfilment on a larger scale was perpetually prevented by the sins of the people; God did for them all that their obdurate disobedience would allow Him to do. Yet He did not wholly reject them, but allowed a remnant to keep alive His Church, and become the channel of those richer blessings of the new covenant, in which all who will accept His salvation are united in a holier bond, and led to a land of higher promise than Israel after the flesh could ever know.

Ezekiel 37:21-25. Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen — See the margin. I will make them one nation — They shall not be divided any more into separate kingdoms; the consequence of which was, their setting up separate ways of worship, and espousing separate interests: compare Isaiah 11:13. This promise was in a great degree fulfilled in the restoration of the Jews to their own land from their captivity in Babylon; for then many of the house of Israel returned with the house of Judah, and were united in one body with them, and were under one and the same governor, Zerubbabel; who, though he did not (lest it should give umbrage to the Persian kings) assume the title of king, yet executed the authority, and was looked upon as a king by the Jewish people: but the expressions here made use of seem to imply something further, and to refer, in their full sense, to the final restoration of the Jews, after their conversion to Christianity, when Christ, in a peculiar sense, shall be their king. The Messiah is described as King of the Jews in most of the prophecies in the Old Testament, beginning with that of Genesis 49:10, concerning Shiloh. From David’s time he is commonly spoken of as the person in whom the promises relating to the perpetuity of David’s kingdom were to be accomplished. This was a truth unanimously owned by the Jews: see John 1:49, to which our Saviour bore testimony before Pontius Pilate, when the question being put to him, Art thou a king? he made answer, Thou sayest [the truth] for I am a king: thus these words should be translated, for St. Paul, alluding to them, calls them a good confession, 1 Timothy 6:13. The same truth Pontius Pilate himself asserted, in that inscription which he providentially ordered to be written upon the cross; (see John 19:19-22;) so that the chief priests impiously renounced their own avowed principles, when they told Pilate that they had no king but Cesar, Ezekiel 37:15. Neither shall they defile themselves any more with their idols — Or, abominations, as the word שׁקוציםis elsewhere translated, and generally signifies idols: see the margin. But I will save them out of all their dwelling-places — I will bring them safe out of them; and will cleanse them — Both justify and sanctify them. And David my servant — That is, the son of David, who was also David’s Lord; shall be king over them — Shall reign over their hearts and lives; and they shall all have one shepherd — This king shall be their one chief shepherd; others that shall feed and rule the flock shall be shepherds by commission from him. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given unto Jacob — A promise often repeated in this prophecy: see Ezekiel 37:12; Ezekiel 37:21, and the note on Ezekiel 28:25. Even they and their children for ever — The Jews, converted to Christ, shall inherit Canaan till Christ come to judgment at the end of the world.37:15-28 This emblem was to show the people, that the Lord would unite Judah and Israel. Christ is the true David, Israel's King of old; and those whom he makes willing in the day of his power, he makes to walk in his judgments, and to keep his statutes. Events yet to come will further explain this prophecy. Nothing has more hindered the success of the gospel than divisions. Let us study to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; let us seek for Divine grace to keep us from detestable things; and let us pray that all nations may be obedient and happy subjects of the Son of David, that the Lord may be our God, and we may be his people for evermore.The gathering together of the children of Israel was to take effect in the first place in the return from Babylon, when the distinction of Israel and Judah should cease. The full completion concerns times still future, when all Israel shall come in to acknowledge the rule of Christ.19. The union effected at the restoration from Babylon embraced but comparatively few of Israel; a future complete fulfilment must therefore be looked for.

stick of Joseph … in the hand of Ephraim—Ephraim, of the descendants of Joseph, had exercised the rule among the ten tribes: that rule, symbolized by the "stick," was now to be withdrawn from him, and to be made one with the other, Judah's rule, in God's hand.

them—the "stick of Joseph," would strictly require "it"; but Ezekiel expresses the sense, namely, the ten tribes who were subject to it.

with him—that is, Judah; or "it," that is, the stick of Judah.

See this explained Ezekiel 36:24.

The children of Israel; the ten tribes, as well as Judah and Benjamin; at least, many of the ten tribes.

Whither they be gone: the expression seems to look to them that were gone among the heathen by a voluntary peregrination, whether before the captivity or after it I will not conjecture; but it is likely enough to me, that among the Jews carried away, and among their children, there were some that were uneasy where they were against their wills, who would ramble and range over countries, hoping to fare better; and perhaps these wanderers may be the persons meant by this gone, where they are who walked thither, as the Hebrew.

On every side; the wind was to come from the four coasts of heaven, Ezekiel 37:9, thereby telling us they should, as here, be gathered on every side. And say unto them, thus saith the Lord God,.... Or, as the Targum,

"thou shalt prophesy to them;''

for what follows is a prophecy of what shall be in the latter day:

behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the Heathen, whither they be gone, or, "from among the Gentiles" (b); not only the Chaldeans, where they were carried captives; but from among the nations where they are now dispersed, and among whom they go freely of their own accord from place to place, for the sake of traffic: and this phrase, "whither they be gone", or "are going" (c), travelling about from one country to another, better describes the present Jews, and their state, than those in the Babylonian captivity:

and will gather them on every side, or, "round about" (d); from the several parts of the world where they are:

and bring them into their own land; the land of Canaan, given by the Lord to their fathers, and to them their posterity, for an inheritance; though now in the possession of others, who, it seems, are not the right owners.

(b) "e medio ipsarum gentium", Junius & Tremellius; "ex gentibus", Starckius; "e vel medio gentium", Piscator, Cocceius. (c) "ambulant, vel ambulantes sunt". (d) "circumquaque", Junius & Tremellius, Polanus, Starckius.

And say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone, and will gather them on every side, and bring them into their own land:
Verses 21-28 explain how the unification of the two kingdoms should be brought about. The first step should be the bringing of the people home to their own land (vers. 21, 22); the second, their purification from idolatry (ver. 23); the third, the installation over them, thus united and purified, of one King, the ideal David of the future, or the Messiah (vers. 24, 25); the fourth, the establishment with them of Jehovah's covenant of peace (ver. 26), and the permanent erection amongst them of Jehovah's temple (vers. 27, 28). Verses 21, 22. - I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen. That tills promise was intended to find an initial and partial fulfillment in the return from Babylon is undoubted. That it was also designed to look across the centuries towards the final ingathering of God's spiritual Israel into their permanent inheritance, the heavenly Canaan, an examination of its terms shows. These clearly presuppose a wider dispersion of Israel than had then, i.e. in Ezekiel's day, taken place; and that Israel has never yet been made one nation upon the mountains of Israel, is incontestable. Nor is there ground for expecting she ever will be. Not even after the exile closed did all Israel return to Palestine. Nor did it ever come true in their experience that one king was king to them all, since, in point of fact, they never afterwards had an earthly sore-reign at all who was properly independent. If, therefore, the prince who in the future should shepherd them was not to be a temporal monarch, but the Messiah, the probability is that the Israel he should shepherd was designed to be, not Israel after the flesh, but Israel after the spirit, who should walk in his judgments and observe his statutes, and who, in the fullness of the times, should develop out into the Christian Church. Hence it seems reasonable to conclude that their own land, into which they should eventually be brought, would be not so much the veritable soil from which their ancestors had been expelled, as the country or region in which the new, rejuvenated, reunited, and reformed Israel should dwell, which, again, should be n territory cleansed from sin and idolatry, so as to render it a fit abode for a people devoted to righteousness. Viewed in this light, their own land was first Canaan, in so far as after the exile it was cleansed from idolatry; now it is those portions of the earth in which the Christian Church has been planted, so far as these are influenced by the holy principles of religion; finally, it will be the new heavens and the new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness (scrap. Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 36:24).
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