Deuteronomy 28:49 MEANING

Deuteronomy 28:49

(49) The Lord shall bring a nation against thee.--Comp. "Lo, I will bring a nation upon you from far, O house of Israel, saith the Lord: it is a mighty nation, an ancient nation, a nation whose language thou knowest not, neither understandest what they say" (Jeremiah 5:15). In this instance the Chaldseans were intended, "that bitter and hasty nation" (Habakkuk 1:6).

As swift as the eagle flieth.--The eagles of Rome may be alluded to here. And of the Chaldaeans it is said, "They shall fly as the eagle that hasteth to eat" (Habakkuk 1:8).

Whose tongue thou shalt not understand.--I am told by a learned Jewish friend that (excellent linguists as the Jews often are) hundreds of the people never attain the least acquaintance with the tongue of the countries where they are dispersed, and seem to lose the power of doing so. I have myself been surprised by more than one example, even in London, of their being wholly unable to take up the commonest matter of business when presented to them in an English way. It is not from lack of ability, but from a kind of paralysis of the understanding, except within a certain range of thought.

Verses 49, 50. - The description here given of the enemy to whom Israel was to be subjected, applies more or less closely to all the nations whom God raised up from time to time, to invade Israel and chastise the people for their rebellion - the Chaldeans (cf. Jeremiah 48:40; Jeremiah 49:22; Ezekiel 17:5-7; Habakkuk 1:6, etc.), the Assyrians (cf. Isaiah 5:26; Isaiah 38:11; 23:19), the Medes (Isaiah 13:17, 18); but there are features in the description which apply especially to the Romans; and the horrors delineated in the latter part of the section (vers. 52-57) carry one's thoughts immediately to the terrible scenes which transpired during the wars of Vespasian and Titus with the Jews as narrated by Josephus ('De Bell. Jud.,' 6; see Milman, ' Hist. of the Jews,' bk. 16.). Verse 49. - As the eagle flieth. The eagle was the common ensign of the legion in the Roman army; and by the Latin writers aquila (eagle) is sometimes used for a legion (Caes., 'Hisp.,' 30; cf. Matthew 24:28).

28:45-68 If God inflicts vengeance, what miseries his curse can bring upon mankind, even in this present world! Yet these are but the beginning of sorrows to those under the curse of God. What then will be the misery of that world where their worm dieth not, and their fire is not quenched! Observe what is here said of the wrath of God, which should come and remain upon the Israelites for their sins. It is amazing to think that a people so long the favourites of Heaven, should be so cast off; and yet that a people so scattered in all nations should be kept distinct, and not mixed with others. If they would not serve God with cheerfulness, they should be compelled to serve their enemies. We may justly expect from God, that if we do not fear his fearful name, we shall feel his fearful plagues; for one way or other God will be feared. The destruction threatened is described. They have, indeed, been plucked from off the land, ver. 63. Not only by the Babylonish captivity, and when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans; but afterwards, when they were forbidden to set foot in Jerusalem. They should have no rest; no rest of body, ver. 65, but be continually on the remove, either in hope of gain, or fear of persecution. No rest of the mind, which is much worse. They have been banished from city to city, from country to country; recalled, and banished again. These events, compared with the favour shown to Israel in ancient times, and with the prophecies about them, should not only excite astonishment, but turn unto us for a testimony, assuring us of the truth of Scripture. And when the other prophecies of their conversion to Christ shall come to pass, the whole will be a sign and a wonder to all the nations of the earth, and the forerunner of a general spread of true christianity. The fulfilling of these prophecies upon the Jewish nation, delivered more than three thousand years ago, shows that Moses spake by the Spirit of God; who not only foresees the ruin of sinners, but warns of it, that they may prevent it by a true and timely repentance, or else be left without excuse. And let us be thankful that Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, by being made a curse for us, and bearing in his own person all that punishment which our sins merit, and which we must otherwise have endured for ever. To this Refuge and salvation let sinners flee; therein let believers rejoice, and serve their reconciled God with gladness of heart, for the abundance of his spiritual blessings.The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth,.... Now though Babylon is represented as a country distant from Judea, and said to be a nation "from far", Jeremiah 5:15; yet not "from the end of the earth"; as here; and though the Roman nation, strictly speaking, was not at so great a distance from Jerusalem, yet the Roman emperors, and great part of their armies brought against it, were fetched from our island of Great Britain, which in former times was reckoned the end of the earth, and the uttermost parts of the world (s); and so Manasseh Ben Israel (t) interprets this nation of Rome, and observes, that Vespasian brought for his assistance many nations (or soldiers) out of England, France, Spain, and other parts of the world: and not only Vespasian was sent for from Britain to make war with the Jews, but when they rebelled, in the times of Adrian, Julius Severus, a very eminent general, was sent for from thence to quell them. And it appears to be a very ancient opinion of the Jews, that this passage is to be understood of the Romans, from what is related in one of their Talmuds (u): they say, that"Trajan, being sent for by his wife to subdue the Jews, determined to come in ten days, and came in five; he came and found them (the Jews) busy in the law on that verse, "the Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far", &c. he said unto them, what are ye busy in? they answered him, so and so; he replied to them, this is the man (meaning himself) who thought to come in ten days, and came in five; and he surrounded them with his legions, and slew them:"

as swift as the eagle flieth; which may respect not so much the swiftness of this creature, the words which convey the idea being a supplement of the text, as the force with which it flies when in sight of its prey, and hastes unto it and falls upon it, which is irresistible; and this is the sense of the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and is what is ascribed to the eagle by other writers (w). Now though this figure is used of the Chaldeans and Babylonians, Jeremiah 4:13; it agrees full as well or better with the Romans, because of their swiftness in coming from distant parts, and because of the force and impetus with which they invaded Judea, besieged Jerusalem, and attacked the Jews everywhere; and besides, the eagle was borne on the standard in the Roman army (x):

a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand; which, though it is also said of the language of the Chaldean nation, Jeremiah 5:15; yet as the Chaldee and Hebrew languages were only dialects of one and the same language, common to the eastern nations, the Chaldee language, though on account of termination of words, pronunciation, and other things, might be difficult, and hard to be understood by the Jews, yet must be much more easy to understand than the Roman language, so widely different from theirs.

(s) "----In ultimos orbis Britannos", Horat. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 35. (t) De Termino Vitae, l. 3. sect. 3. p. 129. (u) T. Hieros. Succah, fol. 55. 2.((w) Vid. Homer. Iliad. 21. l. 252. (x) Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 4.

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