10. 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.
10. Audite sermonem Jehovae, gentes, et annuntiate in insulis e longinquo, et dicite, Qui dispersit Israel congregabit eum, et custodiet tanquam pastor gregem suum.
The Prophet dwells at large on the redemption which was in the opinion of all incredible, especially as so many years had already elapsed; for it was the full extent of human life when the people had been buried, as it were, in their graves for seventy years. Then the length of time alone was sufficient to cut off every hope. No wonder then that our Prophet sets forth in a lofty strain the return of the people.
Hence he exclaims, Hear, ye nations, the word of Jehovah. And then, as by God's command, he sends forth heralds here and there to proclaim the favor granted: Go ye, he says, and announce it in remote islands. Now, by these words he intimates that the liberation of the people would be a remarkable demonstration of God's power, which was to be made known through all nations. Had not this been said, the hope of the people must have failed through its own weakness, and been reduced, as it were, to nothing. But when they heard. Jeremiah's prophecy respecting this extraordinary favor of God, it was no common consolation to them; that is, that God would become such a deliverer to them that he would exercise his power in such a way as to become evident even to remote nations, yea, the report of which would penetrate into the farthest regions. By islands the Prophets mean countries beyond the sea; thus by the Jews, Italy, Spain, Greece, France, were called Islands. Then the Prophet here by remote islands, means all the regions of the world distant from Judea, and especially those beyond the sea.
He afterwards says, he who has dispersed Israel will gather him. This sentence confirms the hope of liberation; for God could easily redeem his people, since their exile was a punishment inflicted by his own hand. Had the Chaldeans obtained the victory over them by their own prowess, they might have cast away all hope as to their deliverance. God then exhorts the people here to entertain hope, because he could heal those wounds which he himself had inflicted; as though he had said, "I am he who drove you into exile, am I not able to bring you back? Had you been led away by the power of your enemies, you might be now without any hope of deliverance; but as nothing happened but through my righteous judgment, mercy can bring a remedy for all your evils." Then God shews that their liberation could be easily effected, since the Chaldeans gained nothing by their own power, but as far as he permitted them when chastising his people. He then reasons from contraries, that since he had dispersed, he could also gather them. For had the Israelites been dispersed at the will and pleasure of men, their deliverance might have seemed to be beyond the power of God; but as he had chastised them, he could, as I have just said, heal the wounds inflicted by his own hand.
A useful doctrine may be hence deduced: the Prophet invites the people to repentance by reminding them that God had dispersed them; for had not the miserable people known this and been fully persuaded of it, they would not have fled to God's mercy, nor have regarded him, nor entertained hope of deliverance. It was, therefore, necessary that repentance should in due order precede, that the people might embrace the deliverance offered to them. This is the reason why the Prophet says, that it was God who had dispersed Israel. He indeed reasons, as I have said, from contraries; but the sentence, no doubt, contains the exhortation which I have now stated, that the people might know that they suffered a just punishment; for it was not by chance, nor by the will of men, but by God's righteous judgment, that they had been driven into exile.
It follows, and he will guard them as a shepherd his flock. The Prophet here shews that God's favor would not be momentary, but that their liberation would be the beginning of a deliverance continued to the end; and to know this is most necessary; for what would it avail us to be once delivered by God? Were it so, our salvation would soon fail. But when we hear that we are delivered by God from the tyranny of our enemies for this end, that he may continue towards us his favor, that he may become our perpetual guardian and shepherd, this is a solid ground of confidence. This then is the reason why the Prophet, after having spoken of the deliverance of his people, at the same time adds, that God would be their shepherd, that he would perpetually guard and preserve his people. It follows, --