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The dispersion of the Israelites-Their idolatry in their dispersion-Their future restoration.
Deuteronomy iv. 27. The Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the peoples, whither the Lord shall lead you. 28. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29. But, if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul. 30. When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, in the end of the days if thou wilt turn unto the Lord thy God and wilt be obedient unto his voice, 31. (For the Lord thy God is a merciful God) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
At the time when this prophecy was delivered, the children of Israel were on the point of taking possession of the promised land; and, humanly speaking, nothing was less likely than that any such calamity, as Moses here predicts, should befall them. Yet, agreeably to his declaration, the ten tribes were first led away captive into Assyria, and have ever since been given up to the delusion of worshipping strange gods. Afterwards the two tribes were carried from their own country to Babylon. And at length the same two tribes were yet more effectually dispersed by the Romans; and are, at the present day, wanderers over the face of the whole earth. In the course of this their last captivity, they have been repeatedly compelled, as if that the prophecy might be completely fulfilled, to bow down before the idols of Popery, and to abjure their own religion *.
* See Bp. Newton's Dissert. vit.
Nevertheless, although they be apparently forsaken, God still hath his eye upon them. As they were of old brought back from Babylon; so will they, in due season be converted from their long apostasy, and be gathered together out of all nations. Nor will Judah alone be restored: Israel likewise shall seek the Lord his God, and be obedient unto his voice. Then shall the two rival kingdoms be for ever united together, so as to form only one people: for God hath declared, that he will not utterly destroy them, nor ever forget the covenant which he sware unto their fathers.
The calamities of the siege of Jerusalem-The various circumstances attending the dispersion of the Jews-Their final conversion and restoration.
Deuteronomy xxviii. 15. It shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee-46. And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever. 47. Because thou servedst not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things; 48. Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon thy neck, until he have destroyed thee. 49. The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as the eagle flieth; a nation, whose tongue thou shalt not understand; 50. A nation of fierce countenance, which shall not regard the person of the old, nor shew favour to the young: 51. And he shall eat the fruit of thy cattle, and the fruit of thy land, until thou be destroyed: which also shall not leave thee either corn, wine, or oil, or the increase of thy kine, or flocks of thy sheep, until he have destroyed thee: 52. And he shall
besiege thee in all thy gates, until thy high and fenced walls come down, wherein thou trustedst, throughout all thy land: and he shall besiege thee in all thy gates throughout all thy land which the Lord thy God hath given thee. 53. And thou shalt eat the fruit of thine own body, the flesh of thy sons and of thy daughters which the Lord thy God hath given thee, in the siege and in the straitness wherewith thine enemies shall distress thee-56. The tender and delicate woman among you, her eye shall be evil-57-toward her young one that cometh out from between her feet, and toward her children which she shall bear for she shall eat them for want of all things secretly in the siege and straitness wherewith thine enemy shall distress thee in thy gates. 58. If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, The Lord thy God; 59. Then the Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sicknesses, and of long continuance.-63. And it shall come to pass, that, as the Lord rejoiced over you to do you good, and to multiply you; so the Lord will rejoice over you to destroy you, and to bring you to nought: and ye shall be plucked from the land, whither thou goest to possess it. 64. And the Lord shall scatter thee among all people, from the one end of the earth even to the other; and there thou shalt serve other gods, which neither thou nor thy fathers have known, even wood and stone. 65. And among these nations shalt thou find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest: but the Lord shall give thee there a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind: 66. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee: and thou shalt fear day and night, and shalt have none assurance of thy life :-37. And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a by-word, among all nations whither the Lord shall lead thee-xxix. 22. So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the Lord hath laid upon it;
23. And that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger and in his wrath: 24. Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger? 25. Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out the land of Egypt: 26. For they went, and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them: 27. And the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book: 28. And the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger and in wrath and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.
29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God; but those things, which are revealed, belong unto us and unto our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.
xxx. 1. And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations whither the Lord thy God hath driven thee, 2. And shalt return unto the Lord thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart and with all thy soul; 3. 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. 4. If any of thine be driven out unto the utmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee: 5. And the Lord thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it: and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers. 6. And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
7. And the Lord thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
8. And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the Lord, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day. 9. And the Lord thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the Lord will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy Fathers: 10. If thou wilt hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God to keep. his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the Lord thy God with all thine heart and with all thy soul.
This famous prophecy of Moses has been so fully and so well discussed by Bp. Newton*, that it is almost superfluous for me to offer any observations upon; yet a work like the present would certainly have been incomplete if I had omitted it.
After describing, as it were with the pen of an historian, the various calamities which have since befallen the Jews; the capture of their city by the Romans, a nation whose language was totally different both from their own and from the collateral oriental dialects; the circumstance of the noble woman being reduced to eat the flesh of her own child; the dispersion of the Jews throughout all nations; their becoming a proverb and a by-word; the comparative sterility, to which their once fruitful land is now reduced; the notice taken of that sterility by travellers, and their comments upon it; the long continuance of these calamities in short, after delineating with wonderful minuteness and accuracy the future miseries of the Jews, even before they had taken possession of the land to which the Lord was then miraculously conducting them, Moses suddenly reverses the scene, and predicts their restoration
* Dissert. VII. VIII.