9. And I will sow them among the people: and they shall remember me in far countries; and they shall live with their children, and turn again.
9. Et seminabo eos in populis, et in remotis partibus recordabuntur mei, et vivent cum fillis suis t revertentur.
He continues the same subject, and employs here a most suitable metaphor -- that the dispersion of the people would have a better issue than what any one then could have conceived, for it would be like sowing. The verb for scattering or sowing is often taken in a bad sense; for when people rested in their country, they ought then to have considered that they were living under God's protection. Dispersion, then, was an evidence of a curse, and it is often so taken by Moses. Now God uses it here in an opposite meaning, as though he had said, that he would at his pleasure turn darkness into light. The meaning then is, that the people had been dispersed through God being angry with them, but that the issue of this dispersion would be joyful; for the Jews would dwell everywhere, and be God's seed, and thus be made to produce abundant fruit. We then see that the meaning is, that God's favor would surpass the wickedness of the people; for those would bear fruit who had been scattered, and scattered because God would no longer exercise care over them, and defend them in the promised land. As God then had so often threatened by Moses that he would scatter the Jews, he now says in another sense, that he would sow them, and for this ends that they might everywhere produce fruit.
It was an instance of the wonderful grace of God, that he so ordered his dreadful judgment as to make the dispersion, as it has been said, a sowing of the people; for it hence happened, that the knowledge of celestial truth shone everywhere; and at length when the gospel was proclaimed, a freer access was had to the Gentiles, because Jews were dispersed through all lands. The first receptacles (Hospitia) of the gospel were the synagogues. We see that the apostles everywhere went first to the Jews, and when a few were converted, the door was now opened that more might come, and Gentiles were also added to the Jews. Thus the punishment of exile, which had been inflicted on them, was the means of opening the door for the gospel; and God thus scattered his seed here and there, that it might in due time produce fruit beyond the expectation of all; and this consideration availed not a little to moderate the impatient desires of the people; for the Prophet intimates that this alone ought to have satisfied them -- that their exile would be productive of good, for the Lord would thereby gather much people to himself. Had the Jews been confined within their own borders, the name of the God of Israel would not have been heard of elsewhere; but as there was no part of the East, no part of Asia and of Greece, which had not some Jews -- and they inhabited many cities of Italy -- hence it was that the Apostles found, as we have said, wherever they came, some already prepared to embrace the gospel.
He afterwards adds, They shall remember me in distant lands. He shows the manner how the memory of God would be preserved: though the Jews sacrificed not in the temple, though they dwelt not in the holy land, they would yet ever worship the only true God; as then the seed cast on the ground, though it may not appear, and seem even to be wholly lost, being apparently consumed by rottenness, does yet germinate in its season, and produces fruit; so God teaches us, that the memory of his name will occasion this people to fructify in their dispersion. But as God promises this, we hence learn that it is through his singular kindness that we cherish piety in our hearts, when he sharply and severely chastises us. When therefore we cease not to worship God, it is certain that we are kept by his Spirit; for were this in the power of man, this promise would be useless, and even absurd.
He says further, They shall live with their sons, and shall return. He again speaks of sons, that the Jews might not make too much haste; for we know that men, having strong desires, hurry on immoderately. That they might not then prescribe time to God, the Prophet reminds them that it ought to have been enough for them that the Lord would quicken them as it were from the dead, together with their children. He however promises them a return, not that they would return to their own country, but that they would be all united by the faith of the gospel. Though then they changed not their place, nor moved a foot from the lands where they sojourned, yet a return to their country would be that gathering which would be made by the truth of the gospel, as it is well known, according to the common mode of speaking adopted by all the Prophets. It follows --