For, behold, in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem,
In those days — When I shall by Cyrus bring Judah out of Babylon.
Of Judah — As the type of the whole remnant that are saved.
And Jerusalem — For beside what refers to the two tribes restored by Cyrus, the bringing back the captivity of the whole Israel of God by Christ is to be considered all along through this chapter.
 I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehoshaphat, and will plead with them there for my people and for my heritage Israel, whom they have scattered among the nations, and parted my land.
All nations — In the type it is all those nations that have oppressed Judah, in the anti-type, all nations that have been enemies to Christ and the church.
Into the valley of Jehoshaphat — I will debate my people's cause, and do them right in the midst of my church, signified by the valley of Jehoshaphat.
Parted my land — Such is the injustice of the persecutors of the church now, and so God will judge them in due time.
 And they have cast lots for my people; and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink.
Cast lots — It was customary with conquerors to divide the captives by lot, and so did these enemies of the Jews.
 Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre, and Zidon, and all the coasts of Palestine? will ye render me a recompence? and if ye recompense me, swiftly and speedily will I return your recompence upon your own head;
Yea — Have I done you any wrong, which you avenge upon my people? Or do you begin to violate the laws of neighbourhood and friendship, and think to escape? Do ye think you have to do with a poor opprest people, my people, and I nothing concerned at it? Palestine - On which were towns of trade, and merchants that bought and sold these captives.
A recompence — Have I or my people so dealt with you? And if - If you will deal thus, I will speedily avenge myself and my people of you.
 Because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried into your temples my goodly pleasant things:
Taken — Either as part of the spoil, or as part of your pay.
My silver — Silver and gold vessels dedicated to my service.
 The children also of Judah and the children of Jerusalem have ye sold unto the Grecians, that ye might remove them far from their border.
Remove them — That there might be no hope of their return to their country.
 Behold, I will raise them out of the place whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompence upon your own head:
I will raise them — This was fulfilled when Alexander, and his successors dismissed all the Jews that were slaves in Greece, and gave them leave to return to their own country.
 And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hand of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, to a people far off: for the LORD hath spoken it.
And I will sell — Give them up into the hands of the Jews.
 Proclaim ye this among the Gentiles; Prepare war, wake up the mighty men, let all the men of war draw near; let them come up:
This — These things which I will do to the enemies of God's people.
The Gentiles — The Assyrians, Chaldeans, and Grecians successively.
Prepare war — Make ready for wars against the enemies of my people.
 Beat your plowshares into swords, and your pruninghooks into spears: let the weak say, I am strong.
I am strong — Put on strength and valour; let none be absent from this war.
 Assemble yourselves, and come, all ye heathen, and gather yourselves together round about: thither cause thy mighty ones to come down, O LORD.
Round about — All round about Judah.
Thither — Toward Jerusalem; the church and heritage of God.
Thy mighty ones — All those mighty warriors whom thou wilt make use of successively to punish the oppressors of thy church.
 Let the heathen be wakened, and come up to the valley of Jehoshaphat: for there will I sit to judge all the heathen round about.
The heathen — The several nations in their appointed time, perhaps the Assyrians first under Salmaneser, next under Sennacherib, both of whom came up to the valley of Jehoshaphat.
For there — In the midst of my people to plead with, condemn and punish the heathen round about Judea.
 Put ye in the sickle, for the harvest is ripe: come, get you down; for the press is full, the fats overflow; for their wickedness is great.
Put ye — Ye executioners of divine vengeance: begin to reap, cut down sinners ripe for judgment; let Tiglath Pilneser and his soldiers cut down Syria and its king, for their violence against my people. Let Cyaxares and his armies cut down Assyria. Let Nebuchadnezzar cut down Moab, Ammon, mount Seir, Egypt, Tyre, Zidon and the Philistines; after this let Cyrus reap down the ripened Babylonians, and Alexander the Medes and Persians. And let the divided Grecian captains cut down one another, 'till the Romans cut them down. And when this is done God will have mighty ones still to cut down his enemies, 'till the final judgment wherein they all shall for ever be destroyed.
Get you down — In another metaphor the prophet declares the cutting off the church's enemies.
The press — As the grapes in the press are trod, so the enemies of God's people, are to be trodden in the wine-press of God's displeasure.
Overflow — The blood of slaughtered men runs as wine prest out, in greater abundance than the vats can hold.
Is great — The violence and all manner of sins of these kingdoms is grown exceeding great.
 Multitudes, multitudes in the valley of decision: for the day of the LORD is near in the valley of decision.
In the valley of decision — Where God having gathered them, decided their quarrels, and by the conqueror punish the conquered for their sins against God and his people.
The day — The day of vengeance.
 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel.
Shall roar — He will strike the enemy with astonishment as the roaring of the lion astonishes the weaker beasts of the forest.
 So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.
Dwelling — Very graciously present with you, and ever watching over you, and delighting to save you.
Then — After her enemies are destroyed and the remnant is saved, and the Messiah is come; for to him and his days these things ultimately refer.
Jerusalem — The church of Christ.
Strangers — No profane or unclean person shall pass through it, or be found in it any more for ever.
 And it shall come to pass in that day, that the mountains shall drop down new wine, and the hills shall flow with milk, and all the rivers of Judah shall flow with waters, and a fountain shall come forth of the house of the LORD, and shall water the valley of Shittim.
The mountains — The vines planted upon the mountains.
Shall flow — So fruitful shall the hills be, that milk shall abound every where.
A fountain — The prophet alludes to those waters which were conveyed from some spring through conduit pipes towards the altar. This no doubt is a shadow of the purifying blood of Christ, and his sanctifying spirit and word. And in that it is said to come from the house of the Lord, it intimates that this saving grace shall be first preached from Jerusalem, and by the church, which is the house of God, shall be published to others.
Shittim — Was a place in the plains of Moab. These spiritual waters shall flow down to the dry and thirsty, the barren and fruitless Gentiles, and make them fruitful.
 Egypt shall be a desolation, and Edom shall be a desolate wilderness, for the violence against the children of Judah, because they have shed innocent blood in their land.
Egypt — By Egypt we may understand all the enemies of the church who carry it toward the church, as Egypt carried it toward Israel.
Edom — Edom was an implacable enemy to Judah in his greatest distress. And all who come under Edom's character are here threatened under this name.
Judah — The people of God.
 But Judah shall dwell for ever, and Jerusalem from generation to generation.
Judah — The redeemed of the Lord, his church.
 For I will cleanse their blood that I have not cleansed: for the LORD dwelleth in Zion.
And I will cleanse — Purge away both by the spirit of sanctification and by free pardon in the blood of the redeemer.
Their blood — Their sinfulness, which before I had not taken away.