It is very rare that I would write about things pertaining to prophecy because, to be frank, we don’t know anything about it. We can speculate, sure, but we cannot know how G-d will fulfill those prophecies in the future or if they have already been fulfilled and we simply do not know it.
Before we begin, though, I would like to remind everyone that I am no Rabbi or teacher and am only a student of the Scriptures. My understanding of prophecy is incredibly limited. With that said, let’s begin.
I sent out a question to a few of the people who read my small blog because, even though I have many different blog posts in mind for the near future, I wanted to know if they had anything for me to write about. One informed me that they wanted information on a prophecy regarding the “Second Exodus”. First, let’s look at the prophecy in its entirety.
“Ah, shepherds who let the flock of My pasture stray and scatter!—declares the Eternal One. 2Assuredly, thus said the Eternal One, the G-d of Israel, concerning the shepherds who should tend My people: It is you who let My flock scatter and go astray. You gave no thought to them, but I am going to give thought to you, for your wicked acts—declares the Eternal One. 3And I Myself will gather the remnant of My flock from all the lands to which I have banished them, and I will bring them back to their pasture, where they shall be fertile and increase. 4And I will appoint over them shepherds who will tend them; they shall no longer fear or be dismayed, and none of them shall be missing—declares the Eternal One. 5See, a time is coming—declares the Eternal One—when I will raise up a true branch of David’s line. He shall reign as king and shall prosper, and he shall do what is just and right in the land. 6In his days Judah shall be delivered and Israel shall dwell secure. And this is the name by which he shall be called: “The Eternal One is our Vindicator.” 7Assuredly, a time is coming—declares the Eternal One—when it shall no more be said, “As the Eternal One lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt,” 8but rather, “As the Eternal One lives, who brought out and led the offspring of the House of Israel from the northland and from all the lands to which I have banished them.” And they shall dwell upon their own soil.“
Essentially, we see that the shepherds are condemned for letting the sheep scatter. The famous Jewish commentator Rabbi Solomon ben Isaac, Rashi, makes the note that the shepherds are actually the kings of Judah. They failed Israel in that Judah had the Temple placed in the land and they not only allowed the people to engage in idolatry but actually encouraged it! They, as Rashi notes on verse two, that they did not watch after Israelites. They neglected them spiritually. Due to this, the entirety of Israel became spiritually depraved and even lost their Jewishness.
It is in verse three that we begin to see the beginning of this prophecy. We read that this is obviously after the Israelites were banished. I believe it is safe to assume that this time-period is the same period as Daniel the Prophet when he and the rest of Judah were in Babylon. I gather this from what we read in Daniel 9.1-2, where he references Jeremiah’s prophecy:
“In the first year of Darius son of Ahasuerus, of Median descent, who was made king over the kingdom of the Chaldeans— 2in the first year of his reign, I, Daniel, consulted the books concerning the number of years that, according to the word of the Eternal One that had come to Jeremiah the prophet, were to be the term of Jerusalem’s desolation—seventy years.“
Of course, we know that they did return from this exile as we see in the books of Nehemiah and Ezra.
“4And I will appoint over them shepherds who will tend them; they shall no longer fear or be dismayed, and none of them shall be missing—declares the Eternal One.”
Verse four of our passage in Jeremiah tells us that there will be shepherds, possibly Hakhamim, who G-d will raise over us so that we are able to be led in the way that pleases Him. These shepherds will keep the flock of Israel so that none will be missing – no one will be going astray anymore. This reminds me immediately of Jeremiah 31 New Covenant prophecy, where we see that Jeremiah states the Houses of Israel and Judah have the Torah placed on their hearts and that everyone will obey G-d.
“5See, a time is coming—declares the Eternal One—when I will raise up a true branch of David’s line. He shall reign as king and shall prosper, and he shall do what is just and right in the land.“
In verse five, we read that, even though prior to this point it would seem that the prophecy may have been fulfilled already, this time is actually in the Messianic era, where the Messiah comes to reign forever as Messiah ben David. This indicates that this could not have been fulfilled, obviously, and that this is a future event that will be witnessed by all mankind. Assuming we already know the details of the Messianic era, as this is well beyond the scope of this blog post, we can move on to the rest of the prophecy.
“6In his days Judah shall be delivered and Israel shall dwell secure. And this is the name by which he shall be called: “The Eternal One is our Vindicator.” 7Assuredly, a time is coming—declares the Eternal One—when it shall no more be said, “As the Eternal One lives, who brought the Israelites out of the land of Egypt,” 8but rather, “As the Eternal One lives, who brought out and led the offspring of the House of Israel from the northland and from all the lands to which I have banished them.” And they shall dwell upon their own soil.“
As I was contemplating this part for the last few weeks, I began digging into some of the Rabbinic resources I have access to. Unfortunately, the Sages are quiet on these verses. The Babylonian Talmud has two primary locations where we read that verses seven and eight are specifically mentioned.
“GEMARA. It has been taught: Ben Zoma said to the Sages: Will the Exodus from Egypt be mentioned in the days of the Messiah? Was it not long ago said: Therefore behold the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say: As the Lord liveth that brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, As the Lord liveth that brought up and that led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country and from all the countries whither I had driven them? [Jer. 23,7-8] They replied: This does not mean that the mention of the exodus from Egypt shall be obliterated, but that the [deliverance from] subjection to the other kingdoms shall take the first place and the exodus from Egypt shall become secondary. Similarly you read: Thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name.”
In this section, we read that the Exodus from Egypt will become secondary to the amazing thing that the Messiah ben David will accomplish. In Egypt, Chazal say, we were delivered from one nation, Egypt. In the days of Messiah, however, we will be delivered from the rest of the world – we will be free of all other nations! This is indeed something to look forward to. The second section in the Talmud is in Kiddushin:
“GEMARA. TEN GENEALOGICAL CLASSES WENT UP FROM BABYLON. Why is it particularly taught: WENT UP FROM BABYLON; let him state, migrated to Eretz Yisrael? He thereby tells us something en passant. As it was taught: then shalt thou arise and get thee up unto the place which the lord thy God shall choose:37 this teaches that the Temple is higher than the rest of Eretz Yisrael, and Eretz Yisrael is higher than all [other] countries. As for the Temple being higher than the rest of Eretz Yisrael, it is well: even as it is written, [60b] [If there arise…] matters of controversy in thy gates: then thou shalt arise and go up.1 But how do we know that Eretz Yisrael is higher than all [other] countries? — Because it is written: Therefore behold, the days come, saith the Lord, that they shall no more say: As the Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; but, as the Lord liveth, which brought up and which led the seed of the house of Israel out of the north country, and from all the countries whither I had driven them. [Jer. 23,7]”.
In this section, primarily in 60b, we read that Chazal say that this passage in Jeremiah tells us that Israel is actually higher than all the other countries. Basically, because it says that we went out from Babylon, and because the Eternal One is going to bring us from every nation to reside in Eretz Yisra’el, it is only logical to conclude that Israel is better than the other nations.
Whatever the case, we do know that the passage in Jeremiah 23, specifically verses six through eight, is teaching us that when Messiah ben David comes, he will bring back all of us to Israel. I believe that he won’t only take us away from the nations but that he will take away the nations from in us. One teacher told me, remarking on the sin of the Golden Calf, that even though the sons of Israel left Egypt, Egypt did not leave them. They had Egyptian influence in their hearts and therefore sinned in the Golden Calf incident. In like manner, when Messiah ben David comes, he will take away all of the Goy-influence from us and really take us to Israel – theology, influence, and all. May this happen soon!