Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together,.... Not at the return from the Babylonish captivity; for, though some of the ten tribes might be mixed with the Jews when they went into captivity, and came out with them, and others might join them from the various nations where they had been dispersed; yet they did not gather together with them in a body, only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, those were the chief; of the children of Israel, but few, Ezra 1:5. Some refer this to the first times of the Gospel, when the Galileans were gathered to Christ by his ministry, who inhabited the countries where some of the tribes of Israel dwelt; and who might, at least some of them, descend from them: and when those in Jerusalem and in Judea, who also believed in Christ, united with them in their profession of him, and in affection to one another; or to the time of Christ's death, by which the whole Israel of God, who were scattered abroad, were gathered together in one; and even Jews and Gentiles were made one body, and one new man in Christ, the partition wall being broken down: or to the times of the apostles, who were successful in the conversion and gathering of many of the Jewish nation, and also of the Samaritans; and of forming churches in Judea and Samaria under one head, in whom they agreed; and likewise of many others, both Jews and Israelites, in the various parts of the world, where they carried the Gospel; and who coalesced with the believing Gentiles in one church state, under Christ their head: though it seems best to interpret this of the latter day, when the children of Israel and Judah shall join together in seeking the Lord their God, and the true Messiah, and shall be turned, and gathered to him; when they shall be no more two kingdoms or two nations, but be one under the Messiah, who shall he their King and Prince; when all their animosities shall be laid aside, and they shall no more envy or vex one another; but shall meet together in the same church state, and worship the Lord with one shoulder and consent, being of one mind and sentiment in religious things, and when all Israel shall be saved, Jeremiah 1:4 Isaiah 11:13
and appoint themselves one head; not Sennacherib, as Aben Ezra, very absurdly; nor Hezekiah, nor Josiah, as others; nor Elijah the prophet, as some in Kimchi; nor Zerubbabel, to which the Targum seems to incline, paraphrasing it,
"one head of the house of David;'
but better, as Jarchi, David their King; that is, the Messiah, as Kimchi and Ben Melech expressly interpret it; and so AbarbinelF2Mashmiah Jeshuah, fol. 53. 3. , though he understands it of the Messiah the son of Joseph; and undoubtedly the same is meant by the one head, as David their King and Prince, Hosea 3:5 even Christ, who is the Head of angels, yea, the Head of every man, but in a special and peculiar sense the head of the body, the church; he is the federal and representative Head of his people, both in eternity and in time; and in such sense a Head to them, as a king is head of his subjects, a husband of his wife, a father of his family, and a master of his servants; and also as a natural head is to its body, of the same nature with it; in union to it; lives the same life; is above it, and more excellent than it: a perfect Head Christ is, there being nothing wanting in him as such; he has his eyes set upon his people; his ears are open to their cries; he smells a sweet saviour of rest in their persons and services; he tastes and eats their pleasant fruits, and feels all their infirmities, troubles and afflictions; and has a tongue to speak a word in season for them: there are no vicious humours in this Head to affect the body; no deformity in it, and all fulness therein to supply its wants; he is an everliving and everlasting Head, and the one, and only one; there is no other, neither the pope of Rome, nor any other; nor will true Israelites acknowledge any other: and though this Head is of God the Father's appointing, who has given him to be the Head; set him as King over Sion; raised him up to be a Prince and a Saviour; yet he is also of the saints' choosing and appointing; they approve of him as such, embrace him, own him, and submit to him, as the Jews will at the last day, though their forefathers have rejected him:
and they shall come up out of the land; not of Israel, as Schmidt, who interprets this of the apostles going out from thence, and spreading the Gospel in the world; but out of each of the lands and countries where Israel and Judah have been dispersed, and return to their own land; see Jeremiah 3:18. So the Targum,
"and they shall come up out of the land of their captivity:'
or it may be understood, figuratively and spiritually, of their coming up out of their captivity to sin, Satan, the law, and the world, as well as out of their present temporal captivity:
and out of the earthF3מן הארץ "e terra". , as it were, as it may be rendered; out of their earthly state, from the graves of sin, leaving their earthly affections, and becoming spiritual and heavenly minded; willing to quit all that is dear unto them, even the country in which they were born and long lived, to follow Christ their Head and King:
for great shall be the day of Jezreel; or, though great has been or is the day of JezreelF4כי "quamvis"; so some in Drusius, Rivet. ; though it has been a great and long day of trouble and affliction to them, signified by Jezreel; see Hosea 1:4, yet all these good things promised shall surely be accomplished: indeed the day of Jezreel may be taken in a good sense, not for a time of dispersion and distress, but of great comfort, joy, and happiness; the word signifying, according to some, the seed of God, or the arm of God: and Jerom applies it to Christ, the seed of God; and the whole Gospel dispensation may be called his day, the day of salvation, the joyful day the Lord has made: or rather by Jezreel, the seed of God, are meant his spiritual offspring, the children of Judah and Israel; who shall now be gathered, by the arm of God, his powerful and efficacious grace, and that in large numbers, so that great will be their day; so the Targum paraphrases it,
"for great will be the day of their gathering.'
It respects the latter day glory, when will be the conversion of the Jews, and the bringing in of the fulness of the Gentiles; when there will be great peace and prosperity; great love and unity; great holiness and purity; great light and knowledge; great enjoyment of God, and of the presence of the Redeemer great glory upon the churches, and upon that a defence: in short, all the great and glorious things spoken of will now be completed; perfect deliverance from all afflictions and troubles; an entire destruction of all enemies; and a full enjoyment of the word and ordinances, in the purity of them, and large conversions everywhere.