6. And I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off: for I am the LORD their God, and will hear them.
6. Et roborabo domum Iehudah, et domum Ioseph servabo, et redire (habitare) eos faciam; quia misertus sum eorum, et erunt ac si non abominatus fuissem eos; quia ego Iehova Deus eorum, et exaudiam eos.
Zechariah pursues the same subject, -- that the work of redemption, the beginning of which the Jews saw, would not be incomplete, for the Lord would at length fulfill what he had begun. The Jews themselves could not acquiesce in those beginnings, which were not a hundredth part of what God had promised; it was hence necessary for them to raise up their minds above, that they might hope for much more than what was evident before their eyes.
And this truth is very useful to us, for we are wont to confine God's promises to a short duration of time, and when we thus include him within narrow limits, we prevent him as it were to do what we stand in need of. Let then the example of the return of the people of Israel ever come to our minds, for the Lord had promised by his Prophets that they would become very eminent, and in every way rich and happy; but when this did not take place after their return to their country, many of the Jews thought that they had been deceived, as they had expected God to fulfill his word immediately, but they ought to have suspended their hope and expectation until Christ came to the world. On this then the Prophet now insists -- that the Jews were to rest patiently, until the ripened time came, when the Lord would prove that he is not only in part but a complete redeemer of his people.
Now he says, I will strengthen the house of Judah, and the house of Joseph will I save. The kingdom of Israel, we know, had by degrees wholly fallen; for at first four tribes were driven into exile, and afterwards the whole people perished, so that all thought that the name of the ten tribes had become extinct. The Lord afterwards visited the kingdom with dreadful ruin. But it must be observed, that while the two kingdoms existed, they entertained grievous enmities towards each other; for the defection which happened under Jeroboam, ever made the Jews violently to hate their brethren, the Israelites, as they indeed deserved; for they had in a manner rejected God by rejecting the son of David, and became in a manner alienated from the body of the Church. Now then Zechariah promises something uncommon, when he says that the two peoples shall be united, so as to be again one, as before the defection: for the house of Joseph means the same as the house of Ephraim; and we know that by taking a part for the whole, the house of Ephraim is taken for the whole kingdom of Israel. We now then understand the Prophet's meaning -- that the state of the people would be happier than it had been since the ten tribes separated from the kingdom of Judah, or from the house of David; for God would gather for himself a Church from all the children of Abraham.
He then adds, I will bring them back and cause them to dwell. The verb here, hvsvvtym, eushebutim, is supposed to be derived from sv, sheb, or from svv, shub; but they are mistaken who think these to be words of different meanings, because some refer to the one root, and others to the other; nor can this be maintained: but those who minutely consider the rules of grammar, say that the verb is a compound, and means that God would not only restore the ten tribes, but also make them to dwell, that is, give them a fixed habitation in their country.
He then adds, Because I have pitied them. Some read this in the future tense, but I retain the past, for the Lord assigns here a reason for their future gathering, even because he would deal mercifully with his people. He recalls then the attention of the Jews to the fountains of his mercy, as if he had said, |Though they have deserved perpetual ruin, He will yet hear their greenings, because he will be propitious to them.| As their calamity was an hindrance, which prevented the Jews from expecting any such thing, he adds, They shall be as though I had not cast them away. By which words he reminds them that the punishment which had been inflicted on the people, would be only for a time. He then bids them to take courage, though they were like the lost or the dead, for he would put an end to their miseries. And when God says that he had cast away his people, it ought to be taken according to the perceptions of men, as we have observed elsewhere; for adoption was unchangeable, but external appearance could have led to no other conclusion, but that the people had been rejected by God. The meaning of the Prophet is, however, clearly this -- that though God had dealt severely with that people, and inflicted on them the heaviest punishment on account of their perfidy, yet his vengeance would not be for ever, for he would give place to mercy.
He adds another reason, For I Jehovah am their God. He means by this sentence that adoption would not be void, though he had for a time rejected the Jews: for by calling himself their God, he reminds them of his covenant, as though he had said, that he had not in vain made a covenant with Abraham, and promised that his seed would be blessed. Since then God had pledged his faith to Abraham, he says here that he would be the God of his people; not that they deserved anything, but because he had gratuitously chosen both Abraham and his seed.
He in the last place says, And I will hear them He seems here to exhort them to prayer, that, relying on this promise, they might ask of God what had been promised. Though this verb is often taken in a sense not strictly correct, for God is said to hear those who do not flee to him; but what I have stated is more suitable to this place -- that the people are stimulated to prayer, as God freely invites us to himself for this end, that is, that our prayers may harmonise with his promises. This is the meaning. It now follows --