III This chapter has been partly fulfilled in the several deliverances of the Jews, and will have its full accomplishment at the great day. It contains a prophecy of God reckoning with the enemies of his people, ver. 1-8. Of his openly judging all nations, ver. 9-17. And of the provision he has made for his people, ver. 18-21.
Verse 1. In those days - When I shall by Cyrus bring Judah out of Babylon. Of Judah - As the type of the whole remnant that are saved. And Jerusalem - For beside what refers to the two tribes restored by Cyrus, the bringing back the captivity of the whole Israel of God by Christ is to be considered all along through this chapter.
Verse 2. All nations - In the type it is all those nations that have oppressed Judah, in the anti-type, all nations that have been enemies to Christ and the church. Into the valley of Jehoshaphat - I will debate my people's cause, and do them right in the midst of my church, signified by the valley of Jehoshaphat. Parted my land - Such is the injustice of the persecutors of the church now, and so God will judge them in due time.
Verse 3. Cast lots - It was customary with conquerors to divide the captives by lot, and so did these enemies of the Jews.
Verse 4. Yea - Have I done you any wrong, which you avenge upon my people? Or do you begin to violate the laws of neighbourhood and friendship, and think to escape? Do ye think you have to do with a poor opprest people, my people, and I nothing concerned at it? Palestine - On which were towns of trade, and merchants that bought and sold these captives. A recompence - Have I or my people so dealt with you? And if - If you will deal thus, I will speedily avenge myself and my people of you.
Verse 5. Taken - Either as part of the spoil, or as part of your pay. My silver - Silver and gold vessels dedicated to my service.
Verse 6. Remove them - That there might be no hope of their return to their country.
Verse 7. I will raise them - This was fulfilled when Alexander, and his successors dismissed all the Jews that were slaves in Greece, and gave them leave to return to their own country.
Verse 8. And I will sell - Give them up into the hands of the Jews.
Verse 9. This - These things which I will do to the enemies of God's people. The Gentiles - The Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Grecians successively. Prepare war - Make ready for wars against the enemies of my people.
Verse 10. I am strong - Put on strength and valour; let none be absent from this war.
Verse 11. Round about - All round about Judah. Thither - Toward Jerusalem; the church and heritage of God. Thy mighty ones - All those mighty warriors whom thou wilt make use of successively to punish the oppressors of thy church.
Verse 12. The heathen - The several nations in their appointed time, perhaps the Assyrians first under Salmaneser, next under Sennacherib, both of whom came up to the valley of Jehoshaphat. For there - In the midst of my people to plead with, condemn and punish the heathen round about Judea.
Verse 13. Put ye - Ye executioners of divine vengeance: begin to reap, cut down sinners ripe for judgment; let Tiglath Pilneser and his soldiers cut down Syria and its king, for their violence against my people. Let Cyaxares and his armies cut down Assyria. Let Nebuchadnezzar cut down Moab, Ammon, mount Seir, Egypt, Tyre, Zidon and the Philistines; after this let Cyrus reap down the ripened Babylonians, and Alexander the Medes and Persians. And let the divided Grecian captains cut down one another, 'till the Roman cut them down. And when this is done God will have mighty ones still to cut down his enemies, 'till the final judgment wherein they all shall for ever be destroyed. Get you down - In another metaphor the prophet declares the cutting off the church's enemies. The press - As the grapes in the press are trod, so the enemies of God's people, are to be trodden in the wine-press of God's displeasure. Overflow - The blood of slaughtered men runs as wine prest out, in greater abundance than the vats can hold. Is great - The violence and all manner of sins of these kingdoms is grown exceeding great.
Verse 14. In the valley of decision - Where God having gathered them, decided their quarrels, and by the conqueror punish the conquered for their sins against God and his people. The day - The day of vengeance.
Verse 16. Shall roar - He will strike the enemy with astonishment as the roaring of the lion astonishes the weaker beasts of the forest.
Verse 17. Dwelling - Very graciously present with you, and ever watching over you, and delighting to save you. Then - After her enemies are destroyed and the remnant is saved, and the Messiah is come; for to him and his days these things ultimately refer. Jerusalem - The church of Christ. Strangers - No profane or unclean person shall pass through it, or be found in it any more for ever.
Verse 18. The mountains - The vines planted upon the mountains. Shall flow - So fruitful shall the hills be, that milk shall abound every where. A fountain - The prophet alludes to those waters which were conveyed from some spring through conduit pipes towards the altar. This no doubt is a shadow of the purifying blood of Christ, and his sanctifying spirit and word. And in that it is said to come from the house of the Lord, it intimates that this saving grace shall be first preached from Jerusalem, and by the church, which is the house of God, shall be published to others. Shittim - Was a place in the plains of Moab. These spiritual waters shall flow down to the dry and thirsty, the barren and fruitless Gentiles, and make them fruitful.
Verse 19. Egypt - By Egypt we may understand all the enemies of the church who carry it toward the church, as Egypt carried it toward Israel. Edom - Edom was an implacable enemy to Judah in his greatest distress. And all who come under Edom's character are here threatened under this name. Judah - The people of God.
Verse 20. Judah - The redeemed of the Lord, his church.
Verse 21. And I will cleanse - Purge away both by the spirit of sanctification and by free pardon in the blood of the redeemer. Their blood - Their sinfulness, which before I had not taken away.