Hear the word of the LORD, O you nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd does his flock.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Declare it in the isles afar off . . .—The “isles” appear here, as in Psalm 72:10, Isaiah 40:15; Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 49:1; Isaiah 66:19, as the vague representative of the distant lands of the west—sometimes (as in Numbers 24:24; Jeremiah 2:10) with the addition of Chittim. Of the isles so referred to, Cyprus and Crete, so far as any definite localities were thought of, would probably be most conspicuous. Both the “nations” and the “isles” represent the heathen whom the prophet calls to join in the praises offered by Israel.Jeremiah 31:10-11. Hear the word of the Lord, O ye nations, &c. — This apostrophe, or turning to the heathen nations, was, as it were, the prelude of calling them to the knowledge of the true God. This calling of them was certainly never effected by the Jews in the way and to the degree it was by the apostles of Christ and their disciples, who gained thousands more to Christianity than ever the Jews did to Judaism. Here the prophet calls upon the Gentiles, not the Jews, to hear the word of the Lord, and to proclaim or make it known; and the event has proved that he did not do this but by the direction of the Divine Spirit, since the Gentiles were far more ready to hear and obey the word of God by Christ, and to receive his divine doctrine, and propagate it, than the Jews were. Declare it in the isles afar off — The Jews, as we have repeatedly seen, called all the countries islands to which they went by sea. He that scattered Israel, &c. — He that caused Israel to be carried away captive into various countries, and dispersed them over the face of the earth, will gather them into one body or people, Isaiah 11:12; Isaiah 27:12; Isaiah 54:7. And keep him as a shepherd does his flock — As God’s care over his people is often compared to that of a shepherd, so the office of the Messiah is described under the same character, Isaiah 40:11, and particularly with respect to the Jews, after their conversion and restoration. For the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, &c., from him that was stronger than he — From those who by subtlety and power conquered him, and detained him captive; an emblem of that redemption which Christ obtains for us by vanquishing the devil, called the strong one, Matthew 12:29.
He that scattered will gather—He who scattered knows where to find Israel; He who smote can also heal.
keep—not only will gather, but keep safely to the end (Joh 13:1; 17:11).
shepherd—(Isa 40:11; Eze 34:12-14).
and declare it in the isles afar off; having heard, received, and embraced the Gospel themselves, it became them to make it known to others; not only to those upon the continent and the isles adjacent, but to those afar off from it; such as these isles of ours, of Great Britain and Ireland; where, blessed be the Lord, this Gospel has been declared to the conversion and comfort of many, and to the glory of Christ:
and say, he that scattered Israel will gather him: that is, the Lord that hath scattered the Jews throughout the nations of the world, and even in the isles afar off, will before long gather them together, and bring them into their own land. This may be understood of the spiritual Israel, be they Jews or Gentiles, the children of God scattered up and down in the world; and who, by reason of sin, and while in an unregenerate estate, are alienated from God, and at a distance from him; but are gathered together in one head, Christ, when he died for them, and redeemed them; and in the effectual calling, when they are gathered to God and Christ, one by one; and afterwards to more near communion with them; and, at last, to glory, and which is the sum and substance of the Gospel to be heard and declared:
and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock; so that they shall be scattered no more, as the Jews have been; nor any of them lost, as God's elect were in their first head Adam: they are Christ's flock, given him by the Father, and purchased with his blood; and having gathered them as above, he will keep them in his hands, from whence none can pluck them, and preserve them by his almighty power unto salvation; which doctrine of the saints' perseverance is a most comfortable doctrine of the Gospel to be published and declared.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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. For the general sense, and in particular for the term “the isles” (See on Jeremiah 25:22), cp. Isaiah 41:1; Isaiah 42:10; Isaiah 49:1.
He that scattered Israel will gather him] The nations are instructed that as it was not their doing but God’s, that His people had been subject to a foreign yoke, so now their restoration will be His work alone.
10–14. See introd. summary to the section.Verse 10. - The isles; i.e. the distant countries of the West (see on Jeremiah 2:10). So great an event as the restoration of the chosen people would be of worldwide importance. He that scattered Israel will gather him, etc. "The Israelites were the flock of Jehovah (Psalm 77:20; Psalm 80:1), but during the Captivity a scattered and miserable flock. Jeremiah says that his eye 'shall run down with tears, because the flock of Jehovah is carried away captive' (Jeremiah 13:17). The change in the fortunes of the Jews is compared by the prophets to a shepherd's seeking his lost sheep, and feeding them again in green pastures (Jeremiah 31:10; Jeremiah 1:19; Ezekiel 34:11-16). The reference is not so much to the homeward journey of the exiles as to the state of temporal and spiritual happiness in which they would find themselves on their return. The same figures occur in a psalm, where a reference to the return from exile is excluded by the pre-exile date, '... feed them also, and carry them forever' (Psalm 28:9)" (from the writer's note on Isaiah 40:11). Jeremiah 12:16. The additional clause, "and thou shalt be built," confirms this promise. The "virgin of Israel" is the congregation of Israel; cf. Jeremiah 14:17. A new and joyful phase in the life of the people is to begin: such is the meaning of the words, "with tabrets shalt thou adorn thyself, and thou shalt go forth in the dance of those who make merry." In this manner were the popular feasts celebrated in Israel; cf. Judges 11:34, Psalm 66:26.
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