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This chapter treats of the coming of Christ with all his saints, and his personal appearance among them; and of the signs of the times before that; and of what shall befall the enemies of the church, both open and secret; and of the happy state and condition of the church itself. First there will be a time of great affliction to the people of God, ( Zechariah 14:1,2), when the Lord will appear and fight for them, and will appear to them, and with them, ( Zechariah 14:3-5) but before this time it will be an uncommon season, neither day nor night; at the close of which, light will break forth, ( Zechariah 14:6,7) the Gospel will be spread far and near, attended with the Spirit and grace of God in great plenty, ( Zechariah 14:8) which will bring on the spiritual reign of Christ over all the earth, ( Zechariah 14:9) particularly the land of Judea, and the city of Jerusalem, shall be inhabited by men with safety, ( Zechariah 14:10,11) and all those that oppose and fight against the Lord’s people shall be destroyed, partly by an immediate plague from the Lord upon them, and partly by the hands of one another, and also by the saints of the most High; and the plague shall not only be upon their persons, but upon their cattle likewise, ( Zechariah 14:12-16) and as for those that profess the Christian name, and yet neglect or refuse to worship the Lord in a spiritual and evangelical manner, there shall be no rain upon them, ( Zechariah 14:17-19) and as for the church and people of God, there shall be universal holiness among them, and not a single Canaanite to be found in the midst of them, ( Zechariah 14:20,21).
Ver. 1. Behold, the day of the Lord cometh , etc.] Or the day when the Lord will come, both in his spiritual and personal reign; for this is not to be understood of his first coming in the flesh, at which time none of the things after mentioned happened; nor of his coming to take vengeance on the Jews; but rather of his coming to convert them: and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee ; not the substance of the nations, divided by the Israelites in the midst of Jerusalem, as the Targum and Jarchi interpret it; but the spoil of Jerusalem, when taken by the enemy, as is after said, which should be divided by them with great joy and triumph, in the midst of it: this refers not to the spoil of Jerusalem by Antiochus or the Romans, but to the slaying of the witnesses, and the triumph of their enemies over them, ( Revelation 11:7,10) or else to the spoil and prey the Turks will come to Jerusalem for, when it shall begin the possession of the Jews; and who perhaps at first will have some success; (see Ezekiel 38:12,13).
Ver. 2. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle , etc.] Meaning not the Romans, in the time of Vespasian, for they were not all nations; nor did a part of the city only go into captivity then, but the whole; nor did any remain in it: it seems right to refer it to the gathering of the kings of the earth to the battle of the Lord God Almighty at Armageddon, ( Revelation 16:14-16) unless it may be thought better to interpret it of the vast numbers, out of several nations, the Turk will bring against Jerusalem, to dispossess the Jews of it, by whom it will be again inhabited in the latter day; (see Ezekiel 38:4-8) and Kimchi interprets it of the Gog and Magog army. The Jews, in their ancient Midrashes f293 , apply it to the times of the Messiah; which is true, if understood not of the first times of the Messiah, whose coming they vainly expect, but of the last times of the Messiah. And the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished, and half of the city shall go into captivity : this will be the time when the outward court shall be given, to the Gentiles, the Papists; the two witnesses shall be slain, and their enemies shall rejoice and send gifts to one another, ( Revelation 11:2,7,10) this will be a trying season, and such a time of trouble as has not been known: and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city ; there will be a remnant according to the election of grace; the city, the church, shall not be wholly extinct; Christ will reserve a seed for himself in those very worst of times, as he has always done: this cannot refer to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, for then all the inhabitants of the city were cut off, or carried captive, and none left; but, if literally to be understood, must refer to what will be, when the army of Gog shall come against it in the latter day; though these circumstances are not mentioned in Ezekiel.
Ver. 3 . Then shall the Lord go forth , etc.] Out of his place in heaven, either in person, or by the display of his power; that is, the Lord Jesus Christ; whose name is called the Word of God, and is the King of kings, and Lord of lords, described as a mighty warrior, ( Revelation 19:11), etc.: and fight against those nations, as when he fought in the day of battle : the Targum adds, “at the Red Sea”; when the Lord fought for, Israel against the Egyptians, ( Exodus 14:25) and afterwards against the Canaanites, when they entered the land of Canaan under Joshua: thus Christ shall judge, and make war in righteousness, and overcome those that shall make war with him; and with the sharp sword that goeth out of his mouth shall smite nations, and with a rod of iron rule them, and break them to shivers, ( Revelation 14:14 19:11,15 2:27) see also ( Ezekiel 38:21,22 39:1,8,4).
Ver. 4 . And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives , etc.] Where he often was in the days of his flesh, and from whence he ascended to heaven, ( Luke 21:37 23:29 Acts 2:12) but here he did not appear at the time of the destruction of Jerusalem; wherefore this must refer to a time to come; and seeing it is certain that he will stand in the latter day on the earth, at the time of the resurrection, and will come down from heaven in like manner as he went up; it seems very probable that he will descend upon that very spot of ground from whence he ascended, ( Job 19:25-27 Acts 1:11,12). The Jews, have a notion, that, at the general resurrection of the dead, the mount of Olives will cleave asunder, and those of their nation, who have been buried in other countries, will be rolled through the caverns of the earth, and come out from under that mountain.
This is what they call “gilgul hammetim”, the rolling of the dead; and “gilgul hammechiloth”, the rolling through the caverns. So they say in the Targum of ( Song of Solomon 8:5). “when the dead shall live, the mount of Olives shall be cleaved asunder, and all the dead of Israel shall come out from under it; yea, even the righteous, which die in captivity, shall pass through subterraneous caverns, and come from under the mount of Olives.”
This is sometimes represented as very painful to the righteous; but another writer removes this objection by observing, that at the time of the rolling through the caverns of the earth, we may say that this rolling will be of no other than of the bone “luz”, out of which the whole body will spring; so that this business of rolling will be easy and without pain; but they are not all agreed about the thing itself: Kimchi says f297 , “there is a division in the words of our Rabbins, concerning the dead without the land (i.e. of Israel); some of them say that those without the land shall come up out of their graves; and others say they shall come out of their graves to the land of Israel by rolling, and by the way of the caverns; but this verse (( Ezekiel 37:12)) proves that those without the land shall live, as the dead of the land of Israel; for it says, “I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves”; and after that, “and I will bring you into the land of Israel”.” Which is before Jerusalem on the east ; a sabbath day’s journey from it, about a mile, ( Acts 1:12): and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west; [and there shall be] a very great valley, and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south; and this valley will be made by cleaving and removing the mountain in this manner, to hold the dead together when raised; and this is thought by some to be the same with the valley of Jehoshaphat, called the valley of decision, into which the Heathen, being awakened and raised, will be brought and judged, ( Joel 3:2,12,14).
Ver. 5. And ye shall flee [to] the valley of the mountains , etc.] To seek for shelter and safety in them, for fear of the Lord, and the glory of his majesty, whom every eye shall see, ( Isaiah 2:19 Revelation 1:7): for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal ; a name of a place not known; it may be thought to be at some considerable distance: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah ; two years before which Amos prophesied, ( Amos 1:1) and which, according to Josephus f298 , was at the time when King Uzziah was stricken with a leprosy for invading the priest’s office; when, as he says, at a place before the city called Eroge, half part of the mountain towards the west was broken, and rolled half a mile towards the eastern part, and there stood; so that the ways were stopped up to the king’s gardens: and the Lord my God shall come ; the Lord Jesus Christ, who is truly God, and the God of his people; and who will appear to be so at his second coming, which is here meant, by raising the dead, gathering all nations before him, and separating them; by bringing to light all secret and hidden things; judging the whole world, and executing the sentence on them; and particularly by taking his own people to himself: [and] all the saints with thee : the Targum, and the Septuagint, Syriac, and Arabic versions, read, “with him”; meaning either the holy angels; so Aben Ezra, Kimchi, and Ben Melech; who will attend him partly for the glory of his majesty, and partly for terror to the wicked, and also for service; or rather glorified saints, the spirits of just men made perfect, whom Christ will bring with him to be united to their bodies, which will now be raised, and to be with him in the new heavens and new earth, which will now be formed, and to be presented to him, and dwell with him, during the thousand years.
Ver. 6. And it shall come to pass in that day , etc.] Which shall precede the coming of Christ, both his spiritual and personal reign; for what follows will not agree with either state: [that] the light shall not be clear [nor] dark ; before the latter day glory it will be a darkish dispensation; not “clear”, as in the first times of the Gospel, when the sun of righteousness appeared, and the shadows of the ceremonial law were removed, and the Gospel shone out in the ministry of Christ and his apostles; nor as at the reformation from Popery, when the morning star was given, ( Revelation 2:28) nor as it will be in the spiritual reign of Christ, when Zion’s light will be come, and her watchmen will see eye to eye; when the light of the moon shall be as the light of the sun, and the light of the sun seven fold as the light of seven days; and much less as will be in the kingdom state, when there will be no need of the sun or moon; or in the ultimate glory, when we shall see no more darkly through a glass, but face to face: and yet it will not be “dark”, as it was with the Jews under the legal dispensation; and much less as with the Gentiles before the coming of Christ; or as in the dark times of Popery; it will be a sort of a twilight, both with respect to the light of doctrine, and of spiritual joy, comfort, and experience; which is much our case now. Some read the words, “there shall be no light, but cold and frost” f299 ; it will be a time of great coldness and lukewarmness, with regard to divine and spiritual things; iniquity will abound, and the love of many wax cold, ( Matthew 24:12).
Ver. 7. But it shall be one day , etc.] A very singular, remarkable, and uncommon one; and it will be but one day; things will not continue long in such a position: which shall be known to the Lord ; all times and seasons are known unto the Lord, but this will come under his special notice and observation, and be under the direction of his special providence; it will only be taken notice of by him, and not by others; scarce any will observe it, or know what God is doing in it, or about to do: not day, nor night ; not clear and full day, as at noon; nor yet quite night or dark, as at midnight; (see Gill on “ Zechariah 14:6”): but it shall come to pass, [that] at evening time it shall be light ; after this day is over, which is neither clear nor dark, there will be an evening time; things will be worse with us than they are; the sun will be set; Christ will be withdrawn in the ministry of the word; his witnesses will be slain and silenced; great coldness and lukewarmness will seize upon professors; great darkness of error will spread itself everywhere; great sleepiness and security will fall upon all the virgins, and there will be great distress of nations; and, when it will be feared and expected that greater darkness and distress still are coming on, “light” will break forth; deliverance and salvation from Popish darkness and tyranny will be wrought; the light of the Gospel will break forth, and spread itself everywhere; the light of joy and gladness will arise to all the saints, and it will be a time of great spiritual peace, prosperity, and happiness. Vitringa on ( Isaiah 60:20), interprets it there shall be no vicissitude, or succession of day and night, but all day; at evening it shall be light; no calamity nor sorrow; Christ the light, and sun of righteousness, will break out in a glorious and spiritual manner.
Ver. 8. And it shall be in that day, [that] living waters shall go out from Jerusalem , etc.] When it shall be light; and this is one of the things which will make it so; for by “living waters” are meant the Gospel, and the doctrines of it; compared to running “waters” for the sound of them, which will then go into all the earth; for the swiftness in which they shall proceed; for their rapidity and force in bearing all before them; for the great spread of them; and for their virtue and efficacy in cooling those who are inflamed with the fiery law; refreshing thirsty souls; purifying the hearts and lives of sinners, and making those that are barren fruitful: and to “living” waters, because they are the means of quickening dead sinners, and of reviving drooping saints; and because they serve to support and maintain a spiritual life, and nourish up unto eternal life, and direct the way to it, as well as give the best account of it: and these will come out of Jerusalem; which may design Jerusalem literally, which will be rebuilt at the time of the Jews’ conversion; or mystically the church, the spiritual and heavenly Jerusalem; (see Hebrews 12:22 Ezekiel 47:1 Joel 3:18) reference seems to be had to the first ministration of the Gospel, which, according to prophecy, came out of Jerusalem, ( Isaiah 2:3). Half of them towards the former sea ; or the eastern sea, as the Targum, the Persian sea; and may signify that the Gospel shall be carried into the eastern parts of the world, into Persia, Tartary, and China, and other nations; and those great kingdoms shall become the kingdoms of Christ: and half of them toward the hinder sea ; or the western sea, as the Targum, the Mediterranean Sea; and may denote the progress and success of the Gospel in the European parts of the world: and the meaning of the whole is, that the Gospel shall be carried from east to west, and preached all the world over, to the conversion of Jews and Gentiles, who, some think, are designed by the two seas; when the abundance of the sea shall be converted by it, and the forces and fulness of the Gentiles brought in, and all Israel saved: in summer and in winter shall it be ; there will be no summer of persecution, nor winter of coldness and indifference to hinder the ministry of the word: the phrase denotes the constant ministry of the word, and the duration of it; it shall be constantly preached all the year long, and as long as summer and winter last.
Ver. 9 . And the Lord shall be King over all the earth , etc.] This refers to the spiritual reign of Christ in the latter day; upon the success of the Gospel everywhere, there will be great conversions in all places; Gospel churches will be set up and ordinances administered everywhere; the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the Lord; his kingdom will be from sea to sea, from the eastern to the western one, and his dominion will reach to the ends of the earth; Popish nations, Mahometan kingdoms, Pagan ones, and all the kings of the earth, will become Christian, and submit to the sceptre of Christ’s kingdom: in that day shall there be one Lord ; there is but one Lord in right now, and there is but one in fact that is owned by real Christians; and there will be but one in the spiritual reign, among all that are called Christians; there will be but one Lord and Head to Jews and Gentiles, ( Hosea 1:11) the pope of Rome will be no more owned as head of the church, nor any other: and his name, one ; this refers not to any particular name by which Christ shall be called; but rather to that by which his people shall be called; all names of distinction being now laid aside, and only that of Christians retained; though it chiefly designs unity of doctrine, uniformity of worship, one and the same way of administering ordinances: it signifies that there will be one true, spiritual, uniform worship and religion; there will be no different sentiments and principles in religion; nor different practices and modes of worship; nor different sects; but all agreeing in the same faith and practice, under one Lord and King, Christ Jesus. So the Targum, “they shall serve before the Lord with one shoulder; for his name is firm in the world, and there is none besides it.”
This passage is referred by the ancient Jews to the times of the Messiah.
Ver. 10 . All the land shall be turned as a plain , etc.] That is, all the land of Israel round about Jerusalem, which was encompassed with mountains, ( <19C502> Psalm 125:2) but now these mountains shall become a plain, that that may be seen; since it follows, from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem ; Geba was a city in the tribe of Benjamin, on the northern border of the land, ( Joshua 21:17) and Rimmon was in the tribe of Judah, given to Simeon on the southern part, ( Joshua 15:32 19:7) so that from Geba to Rimmon was the same as from Geba to Beersheba, which was in the same tribe, ( 2 Kings 23:8) and, according to the Jewish writers, the south of Jerusalem was a plain; wherefore the meaning seems to be, that the whole land, from Geba to Rimmon, should be like that. Jerom makes mention of a village called Remmon in his time, fifteen miles to the north of Jerusalem, which cannot be the place here meant, and yet speaks of it as in the tribe of Simeon or Judah; and afterwards takes notice of another village called Remmus in Daroma, or the south f301 ; to me it seems that Geba and Rimmon were places near one to another, and both in the tribe of Benjamin; (see Samuel 14:2) where the word rendered “pomegranate” is Rimmon, and is the proper name of a place, according to some; the same with that in ( Judges 20:47) where was a rock called the rock Rimmon; and Jonathan ben Uzziel, on ( 1 Samuel 14:2) renders it, “the plain of the pomegranate”; or rather the plain of Rimmon: and the Jews make mention in their Talmud of the valley of Rimmon, where seven elders met to intercalate the year; and here, they say, was a marble rock, in which everyone fastened a nail, and therefore it is called the rock of nails. Now the sense seems to be, that all the land of Israel should become a plain, like the valley that was between Geba and Rimmon. Jarchi interprets it of the whole world. And this will be literally true of the new earth, in the thousand years’ reign, which will be without hills mountains, and seas, ( Revelation 21:1). It may be mystically understood of the spiritual reign of Christ, when the whole world will become Christian; when Jews and Gentiles, and even the kings of the earth, shall bow the knee to Christ, and be subject to him. And it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place ; that is, Jerusalem, which shall appear very high, all the land round about being a plain; and, being rebuilt, shall be inhabited on the same spot of ground it formerly was: or the church may be meant, which in the latter day will be greatly exalted, and will be filled with, and inhabited by, some of all the nations of the world, ( Isaiah 2:2,3): from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate ; not that called the high gate of Benjamin, and which was near the temple, ( Jeremiah 20:2) and seems to be one of its gates; and such an one there was, which in Arabic was called “Bab Alasbat”, the gate of the tribes, where was the pool of the blood of the sacrifices; and is said to be not far from another gate, called the gate of mercy f303 ; but this is that which led out of the city, and was one of its gates towards the land of Benjamin, from whence it had its name, and through which Jeremiah attempted to go when he was stopped by the captain of the ward, ( Jeremiah 37:13) this, according to Grotius, was on the north of Jerusalem: Mr. Fuller places it more rightly in the northeast part of it, as does Adrichomius f305 , who wrongly confounds it with the corner gate later mentioned, which is here manifestly distinguished from it; and which mistake also Schindler gives into, and likewise Arias Montanus and others. “The first gate” is the same with “the old gate” in ( Nehemiah 3:6 12:39). Unto the corner gate ; the gate of Benjamin, and the gate of Ephraim, are the same, as is thought by Grotius; the distance between that gate and the corner gate was four hundred cubits, ( 2 Kings 14:13): and [from] the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses ; mention is made of the tower of Hananeel in ( Nehemiah 3:1 12:39 Jeremiah 31:38) it was to the south of Jerusalem; and is called in the Targum the tower of Pikkus: “the king’s winepresses” doubtless were where his vineyards were; King Solomon had a vineyard at Baalhamon, ( Song of Solomon 8:11). Grotius says the place where these winepresses were was at Sion, in the inmost part of the city; and so Adrichomius places them in Mount Sion; though Kimchi speaks of them as without the city; and Jarchi makes mention of an Agadah, or exposition, which interprets them of the great ocean, which reaches from Jerusalem to the end of the world, the lakes which the King of kings has made. Very probably these places lay east, west, north, and south; and so denote the amplitude of the city, and the largeness and extensiveness of the church of Christ, signified thereby; (see Ezekiel 48:1-35).
Ver. 11. And [men] shall dwell in it , etc.] In great numbers, in much peace and safety, and from generation to generation: Aben Ezra says, Messiah the son of David will now come: and there shall be no more utter destruction ; no wars, nor desolations by them, in a civil sense; there shall be no more killing, as the Targum, ( Isaiah 2:4 60:17,18) no “cherem”, no anathema, in a religious sense; in the old translation it is, “and there shall be no more cursing”; there will be no curse in the Jerusalem state, ( Revelation 22:3) which words seem to be taken from hence; no cursed thing, nor cursed person, or any curse or anathema denounced against any; no Popish bulls and anathemas, nor any other: but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited ; the inhabitants of it shall dwell securely, without any apprehension of danger, and having no enemies to fear; though, before this safe and happy state, there will be many enemies; and what will become of them is shown in the following verses.
Ver. 12 . And this shall be the plagues , etc.] This respects one or more, or all, of the seven plagues, which will be inflicted on the antichristian states, mentioned in ( Revelation 15:1-16:21): wherewith the Lord will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem ; who have been the enemies and persecutors of his church; and with which plague or plagues they shall be utterly consumed and destroyed: their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet ; antichrist will be consumed with the breath of Christ’s mouth; the flesh of the whore of Rome, which is her substance, shall be eaten and devoured by the kings of the earth; and her destruction will be in a moment, suddenly, and at unawares, as is here suggested; (see 2 Thessalonians 2:8 Revelation 17:16 18:8,10): and their eyes shall consume away in their holes ; the right eye of the idol shepherd shall be utterly dried up, and the kingdom of the beast will be full of darkness, ( Zechariah 11:17 Revelation 16:10): and their tongues shall consume away in their mouth ; with which antichrist and his followers have blasphemed the name of God, his tabernacle, and his saints; and which they will gnaw for pain, when the plagues of God are inflicted on them, ( Revelation 13:5,6 16:9-11).
Ver. 13 . And it shall come to pass in that day , etc.] When the vials are pouring out: [that] a great tumult from the Lord shall be among them ; the Targum renders it, a great tumult, or noise of killing; and the Septuagint, an ecstasy: it refers to the earthquake, and the slaughter of seven thousand men of name, and the fright upon that, ( Revelation 11:13) and they shall lay hold everyone on the hand of his neighbour, and shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour ; there will be a revolution, upon this tumult, in several of the antichristian states; and the kings of them shall hate the whore, make her desolate, eat her flesh, and burn her with fire, ( Revelation 17:16) or, “his hand shall be cut off by the hand of his neighbour” f309 ; (see Zechariah 11:17), the power of antichrist shall be destroyed by neighbouring Christian princes.
Ver. 14 . And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem , etc.] These are the professing people of Christ, the armies in heaven, the chosen, called, and faithful, who will follow the Lamb, and attend him when he goes forth to make war with the antichristian princes, and shall overcome them, ( Revelation 17:14 19:14): and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold and silver, and apparel, in great abundance ; by which are meant the riches of the Papists, called Gentiles or Heathens, ( Revelation 11:2,18) which will fall into the hands of the followers of Christ at the time of Rome’s destruction; and which are signified by the flesh of the whore, and by the flesh of kings, captains, and mighty men, which will then be eaten; they will be stripped and spoiled of all their substance, ( Revelation 17:16 19:18).
Ver. 15 . And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass , etc.] The flesh of the horse is said to be eaten, ( Revelation 19:18): and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague , their beasts shall perish in like manner as themselves.
Ver. 16 . And it shall come to pass , etc.] After the plague on man and beast is over: [that] everyone that is left of all the nations which come against Jerusalem ; these are the remnant, according to the election of grace, who will have been among the enemies of Christ and his people, but preserved when others will be destroyed; and they will not only be frightened at the general destruction, but will be truly converted, and give glory to the God of heaven, ( Revelation 11:13 19:21): these shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts ; the King Messiah, as Aben Ezra and Abendana on the place observe; the same with the King overall the earth, ( Zechariah 14:9) who is Lord of hosts, of all the armies in heaven, that will have followed him, at this time, and is to be worshipped by angels and men; he is equal with God, the Creator of both, the Redeemer of men, and King of saints; and to worship him shall the above persons preserved and called go up to Jerusalem, the church of God, year by year, that is, constantly: and to keep the feast of tabernacles ; not literally, but spiritually; for, as all the Jewish feasts have been long since abolished, having had their accomplishment in Christ, not one of them will ever be revived in the latter day. This feast was originally kept in commemoration of the Israelites dwelling in tents in the wilderness, and was typical of Christ’s incarnation, who was made flesh, and tabernacled among us; so that to keep this feast is no other than to believe in Christ as come in the flesh, and in the faith of this to attend to the Gospel feast of the word and ordinances; and whereas this feast was observed by drawing water with expressions of joy, this may respect the pouring forth of the Spirit in the last day, and that spiritual joy saints will then be filled with; to which may be added, that palm tree branches used to be carried in their hands at the time of that feast; and so the keeping of it now may denote the victory that will be obtained over the beast and his image, which palm tree branches are a token of; and this will issue in the personal reign of Christ, when the tabernacle of God shall be with men.
Ver. 17. And it shall be, [that] whosoever will not come up , etc.] This, though it follows upon the former account, must be understood of times preceding the spiritual reign of Christ; for the rain of the Gospel will be upon all the earth in the latter day glory; and all nations will then serve and worship the King, the Lord of hosts, even those that remain after the general destruction of the antichristian states; besides, express mention is hereafter made of Egypt, which designs Rome, ( Revelation 11:8) and the whole manifestly refers to the time of the witnesses prophesying in sackcloth, who had power to shut the heaven, that it rain not, ( Revelation 11:6): of [all] the families of the earth unto Jerusalem, to worship the King, the Lord of hosts : all of the antichristian party, that refuse to worship the Lord with his true church, according to his revealed will: even upon them shall be no rain ; not literally, but spiritually; and is to be understood either of the love and favour of God, comparable to rain in its original, it being owing to the will of God, and not to the merits of men, and therefore is distinguishing and sovereign; in its objects, persons very undeserving; in the manner of its communication, it tarries not for the will and works of men, and comes in great abundance; and in its effects, it softens, cools, refreshes, and makes fruitful; and not to have this is to be hated of God: or of the blessings of divine grace; these are from above like rain, depend on the will of God, are free gifts, and given in abundance, and make fruitful; the contrary to these is cursing: or of the Gospel, which is of God and from heaven, falls according to divine direction, and softens, refreshes, and revives; and not to have this is the sorest of judgments, ( Amos 8:11 Isaiah 5:6).
Ver. 18. And if the family of Egypt go not up, and come not , etc.] To Jerusalem, the church of God; do not go thither to worship the Lord, attend his ordinances, and keep them in their purity; nor walk as becomes the people of God: by “the family of Egypt” are meant the Papists, so called for their tyranny, cruelty, and idolatry, ( Revelation 11:8): that [have] no [rain] ; have not the pure word of God, and the ordinances thereof, only the traditions of men; yea, the doctrines of devils, and lies in hypocrisy: the allusion is to the land of Egypt, which was watered, not so much by rain as by the overflowing of the river Nile: or it may be rendered, “and upon them there shall be no rain” f310 ; or that which is equivalent to it.
So the Targum paraphrases it, “the Nile shall not ascend unto them.”
The sense is, as they are without the pure Gospel of Christ, they shall continue so, and be punished with, that sore judgment of a famine of hearing the word of the Lord. There shall be the plague, wherewith the Lord will smite the heathen that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles ; they shall have the same plague of want of water, a famine; for it is a vulgar mistake that there is no rain in Egypt; it rains indeed but seldom, and only in some places, but it does rain. Monsieur Thevenot says, “it rains much at Alexandria, and Rosetta also; but at Cairo, which stands higher, it rains less; and yet (says he) I have seen it rain very hard every year, for two days together in the month of December.”
And Mr. Fuller says that Sir William Paston, a patron of his, and a well accomplished traveller, was “an eye witness of much and violent rain at Grand Cairo, but such as presaged a great mortality, which ensued, not long after.”
But it should be observed that this is only true of the lower part of Egypt, for in the upper parts it rains not, at least not very commonly: for Herodotus reports that “in the times of Psammenitus, the son of Amasis, king of Egypt, a very wonderful thing happened to the Egyptians; it rained at Thebes in Egypt, which it never had before, nor has ever since, as the Thebans say; for it never rains in the upper part of Egypt; but then it rained at Thebes in drops.”
Yet Mr. Norden f314 , a late traveller in those parts, says he “experienced at Meschie (a city in his travels to upper Egypt) a very violent rain, accompanied with thunder, for the space of a whole hour;” though in the same place he says, at Feschna, and beyond, in the upper Egypt, the sky is always serene and clear. And in his travels from Cairo to Girge, capital of the upper Egypt, he relates, that at a certain place, as he went thither, they had little wind, and a great deal of rain f315 . And in another place he observes, at Menie (a place in upper Egypt) there was so thick a fog that we could perceive nothing at thirty paces distant: wherefore, since it does rain at times in some places, the same plague as before may be here meant; or want of provisions, as others, through a defect of rain; or the Nile not overflowing and watering the land, as Jarchi interprets it: but Kimchi gives another sense, and so Aben Ezra, which is, that instead of having no rain, which they need not and do not desire, they shall be smitten with the plague that the Lord will smite all the nations with that fight against Jerusalem, namely, their flesh shall consume away, etc. ( Zechariah 14:12).
Ver. 19. This shall be the punishment of Egypt , etc.] Or “sin” f317 , as in the original text: rightly is the word rendered “punishment”, as it is by the Targum: and the punishment of all nations that come not up to keep the feast of tabernacles ; which will be one and the same; they shall have no rain, or what answers to it; they shall all have a famine; or it will be different, Egypt shall be punished with a consumption of their flesh, and the other nations with want of rain: the former sense seems best.
Ver. 20 . In that day , etc.] After the destruction of antichrist and all the antichristian party, and a new state of things will take place, either the spiritual or personal reign of Christ: shall there be upon the bells of the horses, HOLINESS TO THE LORD ; as was upon the mitre of the high priest, ( Exodus 28:36) to which there seems to be an allusion here: or, “upon the trappings of the horses” f318 , as the Targum renders it; and this intends either the horses slain in war, whose bells or trappings should be devoted and applied to holy uses; or the horses that carried the people up to Jerusalem to worship there, or horses in common. The Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions render it, “on the bridle of the horse shall be Holiness to the Lord”; that is, they should be devoted to his service, which sometimes were very richly adorned; yea, were of gold; as those described by Virgil f319 ; nay, they were adorned with precious stones, with pearls, emeralds, and jacinths, insomuch that the Romans were obliged to restrain this luxury by a law f320 . The conceit of some of the fathers, that this refers to one of the nails in the cross of Christ, which Constantine put into his horse’s bridle, is justly ridiculed and exploded by most commentators. It seems best to render the word as we do, “bells”, as Kimchi and Jarchi interpret it; since it is used of cymbals made of brass, which were to make a sound to be heard, ( 1 Chronicles 15:19 Nehemiah 12:27) and of the same metal were the horses’ bells made; though those which the mules at the funeral of Alexander had at each jaw were made of gold f321 ; as were those Aaron had at the hem of his robe. The use of these bells on horses, according to Gussetius f322 , in the eastern countries, where they travelled through deserts, and had no beaten track, was to keep them together, and that they might be known where they were when parted; and of like use are they now to horses of burden or packhorses with us; though in common use they seem to serve to give horses a pleasure, and quicken them in their work: but the original of them seems to be for the training of horses for war, and therefore they hung bells to their bridles, to use them to a noise, and to try if they could bear a noise, and the tumult of war, so as not to throw their riders, or expose them to danger f323 ; hence one that has not been tried or trained up to anything is called by the Greeks akwdwnistov , one not used to the noise of a bell, by a metaphor taken from horses, that have never been tried by the sound of bells, whether they can bear the noise of war without fear f324 : and so it may signify, that these, and all the apparatus of war, all kind of armour, should no more be made use of for such purposes, there being now universal peace in the kingdom of Christ; wherefore these, and the like, should be converted to sacred uses, just as swords, at the same time, shall be beaten into ploughshares, and spears into pruning hooks, for civil uses, ( Isaiah 2:4) or, since Holiness to the Lord is said to be upon them, the sense may be, that holiness will be very general among all men; all professing people will be righteous; it will appear in all their actions, civil as well as religious; it will be as visible as the bells upon the horses, by their frequent going to the house of God; their constant attendance on public worship; their walking in the ways of the Lord, and their love to one another. And the pots in the Lord’s house shall be like the bowls before the altar ; the “pots” in which they boiled the sacrifices shall be like “the bowls before the altar”, which held the blood of the sacrifices to be sprinkled; either like them for number; they shall be many, like them, as the Targum paraphrases it; or for goodness, being made of the same metal: and the whole denotes the number, holiness, and excellency of the saints in the latter day, who will direct all their actions to the glory of God, whether in eating or drinking, or in whatever they do.
Ver. 21. Yea, every pot in Jerusalem and in Judah shall be holiness unto the Lord of hosts , etc.] Such will be the number of sacrifices and sacrificers, that the pots in the Lord’s house will not be sufficient; wherefore every pot, in city or country, shall be sanctified and devoted to holy uses: and all they that sacrifice shall come and take of them, and seethe therein ; this denotes, as before, the general holiness of the professors of religion in those times; and that there will be no difference in the vessels of the Lord’s house, or any distinction of Jew and Gentile; but they will be all spiritual worshippers, and offer up the spiritual sacrifices of prayer and praise to the Lord: and in that day there shall be no more the Canaanite in the house of the Lord of hosts ; the Targum paraphrases it, “there shall be no more a merchant in the house of the sanctuary of the Lord;” in the temple, where were buyers and sellers of sheep, oxen, and doves, for sacrifice, such as our Lord drove out; but now there shall be no more of them, all legal sacrifices being at an end. The word here used does signify a merchant, and is so rendered in ( Hosea 12:7 Isaiah 23:8) and by some here f325 ; and the Jews f.326 have a saying, that “there are no Canaanites but merchants;” or the word always so signifies, referring to the above places, and having quoted ( Job 41:6) but it is to be applied to another sort of merchants; to false teachers, that make merchandise of the souls of men; to all merit mongers and Papists; and particularly to the great merchant of all, the pope of Rome, and to all inferior merchants under him, who sell pardons, indulgences, etc. and are called the merchants of the earth, ( Revelation 18:3,11-13) these are the Heathen that shall perish out of the land, and the sinners that shall be no more; antichrist shall no longer sit in the temple of God, showing himself to be God; nor will there be any, in the spiritual reign of Christ, that will buy Rome’s merchandise any more. Moreover, a Canaanite may design an impure person, a hypocrite; and though there have been many such in the church of God in all ages, yet at this time there will be few or none, comparatively speaking; and in the personal reign of Christ there will be no wicked men at all: in the new heavens and new earth will dwell righteousness, or only righteous persons; all the wicked of the earth will be destroyed before this state takes place; only raised ones, the saints that partake of the first resurrection, will be there; they will be all holy and righteous persons; nothing shall enter into it that defiles or makes an abomination or a lie, only those that do the commandments of God; nor will there be any manner of sin or wickedness there: sin, like the Canaanites of old, continues in the saints as long as they are in the present state; and though it has not the dominion over them, yet is as grievous pricks and thorns unto them, and is left in them to prove them; but in this happy state there will be no more sin, no more this pricking brier and grieving thorn.
That the word Canaanite is here to be taken in a figurative sense is certain; for, literally understood, there is no such person in the world now, nor has been for many hundreds of years, even an inhabitant of Canaan, or one so called.