24. And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
24. Et sedebunt (vel, habitabunt) in ea (nempe terra) Jehudah, et omnes urbes ejus (id est, incolae ejus) simul agricolae, et proficiscentur cum grege.
He proceeds with the same subject, but sets forth the effect of that favor of which he had spoken, for dwell, he says, shall the Jews again in the land; that is, they shall rest there and have a quiet habitation. He adds cities, only to amplify the favor of God as to the number and multiplicity of men; as though he had said, that not a few would return, but a vast number of men, sufficient to fill their cities. Now this was to exceed the hope of all; for when they saw the cities deserted, and the land almost empty, who would have thought that they would again be filled with people? But this the Prophet confirms by saying, Dwell there shall Judah and all his cities; and he adds, husbandmen He extends God's favor to the country and the villages, as though he had said, that the land would be filled with inhabitants, not only as to the fortified towns, but as to the fields.
It often happens that cities are inhabited when there is any fear or danger from enemies; for they who dwell in cities have walls for their defense, and mounds and other means of safety. Had then the Prophet spoken only of cities, he would not have sufficiently set forth the favor of God. Hence he adds husbandmen, as though he had said, that dwelling in the land would be safe, though there were no gates, no walls, no defences, for husbandmen would rest secure in their cottages as though inclosed within walls. We now then understand what the Prophet means.
Some read thus, |Husbandmen, and they who go forth with the flock,| as though the Prophet made a distinction between husbandmen and keepers of sheep; but this seems to me unsuitable; for I doubt not but that he means that husbandmen with their flocks and herds would be secure, having no fear of the inroads of enemies, but living in the land under the care and protection of God, without apprehending anything adverse or hostile to them. The meaning is, that the restoration of the Church would be such, that its state would not be worse than in former ages, and that it would be in a peaceable and quiet condition, so that the inhabitants of the villages and country places would not be less secure than those in cities.
Now, were any one to ask, when was this fulfilled? We must bear in mind what has been said elsewhere, -- that the Prophets, when speaking of the restoration of the Church, included the whole kingdom of Christ from the beginning to the end. And in this our divines go astray, so that by confining these promises to some particular time, they are compelled to fly to allegories; and thus they wrest, and even pervert all the prophecies. But the Prophets, as it has been said, include the whole progress of Christ's kingdom when they speak of the future redemption of the people. The people began to do well when they returned to their own country; but soon after distresses came as Daniel had predicted. It was, therefore, necessary for them to look for the coming of Christ. We now taste of these benefits of God as long as we are in the world. We hence see that these prophecies are not accomplished in one day, or in one year, no, not even in one age, but ought to be understood as referring to the beginning and the end of Christ's kingdom. It follows, --