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advent of the King of the Jews, his reign upon the earth, and the final and universal conversion of the nations. My heart's desire and prayer before God is, that I may be guided by the Holy Ghost to advance that interpretation which is according to his will; and that my Christian brethren who hear me, may be induced fairly to search the Scriptures for themselves, to ascertain whether these things be so.
The Jews shall be restored as a nation to the land of their forefathers. In proof of this, I refer to the language of our text, as plain and explicit. For the further confirmation of this opinion, two modes
be adopted; either, first, the enumeration of parallel passages, asserting the application of them all to this view of the subject, and challenging any other interpretation which will bear comparison with the respective contexts ; or, secondly, the selection of some one passage, and a detailed exposure of the inconsistency of every interpretation of it, except the one which maintains the literal return of the twelve tribes to their own land ; leaving that one, therefore, in undisputed possession of the field of truth.
I shall now adopt the latter mode, and make choice of the words of our text, in connexion with the remarkable context in which they are found: “ Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I will take the children of Israel from among the heathen, whither they be gone; and will gather them on
every side, and bring them into their own land ; and I will make them one nation in the land, upon the mountains of Israel, and one king shall be king to them all; and they shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all." Here we have five particulars distinctly enumerated : 1. the land; 2. the children of Israel; 3. the restoration; 4. the two kingdoms; and 5. the one king. And whatever interpretation we adopt in reference to any one of these particulars, let us be consistent, and carry that interpretation throughout, applying it fairly to the other four particulars.
I. The first interpretation of this prophecy, to which I would direct your attention, is that which makes the land to mean Judea literally; the children of Israel to mean the Jewish people; the restoration to mean the return of Judah from Babylon, and their resettlement in their land under Ezra and Nehemiah ; the two kingdoms to mean Judah, and some individuals of the other tribes, who returned from Babylon with Judah ; and the one king, to mean the rulers of the kingdom of Judah, subsequent to their return from Babylon.
This, so far, is in itself consistent. Let us examine, then, how it will bear comparison with the language of the Holy Ghost by the mouth of the prophet. First, the land in the prophecy is here
understood to mean Judea literally; that is to say, the whole district of country lying between the Nile and the Euphrates, as marked out in the promise of God to father Abraham. With this interpretation, every thing that the prophet has written concerning the land, its restored fertility and beauty, and the multiplication upon it of both men and beasts, will naturally and obviously accord. This interpretation, therefore, so far seems undeniable. Secondly, the children of Israel in the prophecy, are here understood to mean the Jewish people. With this, every thing that the prophet has written concerning the children of Israel, their division and dispersion, their regathering and reunion, will most naturally accord. This branch also, therefore, of the interpretation before us, appears to be conclusive. Thirdly, the restoration in the prophecy, is here understood to mean, the return of Judah from Babylon; and in order to maintain this consistently, the two kingdoms in the prophecy, are understood to mean Judah, and some companions of Judah from the other tribes : also, the one king in the prophecy, is understood to mean the rulers of Judah, subsequent to the return from Babylon. With this view of the subject, much that the prophet has written, will not and cannot be made to accord. The return of Judah from her captivity in Babylon, was doubtless the fulfilment of the restoration promised in some prophecies, as Jeremiah xxv. 11, and xxix. 10–14; but does it therefore follow, that the same event was the fulfilment of this prophecy of Ezekiel ? Surely not. That must be examined, by comparing the prophecy itself with the event.
The two kingdoms are thus described in the prophecy, (v. 16, 17, 18, 19;) the one consisting of Judah, and some of the other tribes; his companions; the other consisting of the whole body of the ten tribes of Israel. These two are said to become one. The two kingdoms of the alleged event, according to the interpretation now before us, consist, the one of Judah, the other of Judah's companions from the other tribes. Thus in the prophecy, Judah's companions are combined with Judah, and made in the aggregate one of the kingdoms; but in the interpretation, Judah’s companions are separated from Judah, and made another distinct kingdom ; therefore, the interpretation does not agree with the prophecy. In the prophecy, the whole body of the ten tribes is specified as one of the two kingdoms : in the interpretation, no mention is made of that whole body; therefore, the interpretation does not agree with the prophecy.
Again, the one king in the prophecy is thus described, (v. 24, 25:) “ David my servant shall be king over them; and they all shall have one shepherd. and my servant David shall be their prince for ever.”
These words point out either king David himself, raised from the dead, in order
to reign again in Jerusalem over all the twelve tribes, as he did before; or some individual descendant of David, called after his illustrious ancestor ; or at least, a line of kings of the family of David, thus designated in honour of the great conqueror of Israel's enemies; as the Roman emperors were from Cæsar.
The one king of the alleged event, according to the interpretation now before us, was neither David, nor any individual descendant of David, nor a line of kings of the family of David; but a series of governors, the most remarkable of whom we know to have been of other families. The Maccabees were Levites, concerning whose tribe, neither Moses nor any of the prophets, spake any thing of royalty. The king, therefore, of the prophecy, does not correspond with the king of the event, which is proposed as the fulfilment; and consequently, the interpretation grounded thereupon, cannot be maintained as the meaning of the prophecy.
On this subject, a celebrated commentator, after advocating this interpretation, makes the following acknowledgment : “ This prophecy was fulfilled very imperfectly in the persons of the Jews, after the captivity ; both because neither the tribe of Judah, nor the other tribes returned entire, and because they were not governed by kings of the family of David.”a In all fairness then, the inter