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The birth of Christ in Bethlehem: his reign and spiritual conquests.

[1] Now shalt thou be laid waste, O daughter of the robber: they have laid siege against us, with a rod shall they strike the cheek of the judge of Israel. [2] AND THOU, BETHLEHEM Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. [3] Therefore will he give them up even till the time wherein she that travaileth shall bring forth: and the remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children of Israel. [4] And he shall stand, and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the height of the name of the Lord his God: and they shall be converted, for now shall he be magnified even to the ends of the earth. [5] And this man shall be our peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land, and when he shall set his foot in our houses: and we shall raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men.

[1] Daughter of the robber: Some understand this of Babylon; which robbed and pillaged the temple of God: others understand it of Jerusalem; by reason of the many rapines and oppressions committed there.

[2] His going forth: That is, he who as man shall be born in thee, as God was born of his Father from all eternity.

[5] The Assyrian: That is, the persecutors of the church: who are here called Assyrians by the prophet: because the Assyrians were at that time the chief enemies and persecutors of the people of God.-- Ibid.

[5] Seven shepherds: Viz., the pastors of God's church, and the defenders of the faith. The number seven in scripture is taken to signify many: and when eight is joined with it, we are to understand that the number will be very great.

[6] And they shall feed the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nemrod with the spears thereof: and he shall deliver us from the Assyrian, when he shall come into our land, and when he shall tread in our borders. [7] And the remnant of Jacob shall be in the midst of many peoples as a dew from the Lord, and as drops upon the grass, which waiteth not for man, nor tarrieth for the children of men. [8] And the remnant of Jacob shall be among the Gentiles in the midst of many peoples as a lion among the beasts of the forests, and as a young lion among the flocks of sheep: who when he shall go through and tread down, and take, there is none to deliver. [9] Thy hand shall be lifted up over thy enemies, and all thy enemies shall be cut off. [10] And it shall come to pass in that day, saith the Lord, that I will take away thy horses out of the midst of thee, and will destroy thy chariots.

[6] They shall feed: They shall make spiritual conquests in the lands of their persecutors, with the word of the spirit, which is the word of God. Eph. 6. 17.

[7] The remnant of Jacob: Viz., the apostles, and the first preachers of the Jewish nation; whose doctrine, like dew, shall make the plants of the converted Gentiles grow up, without waiting for any man to cultivate them by human learning.

[8] As a lion: This denotes the fortitude of these first preachers; and their success in their spiritual enterprises.

[10] I will take away thy horses: Some understand this, and all that follows to the end of the chapter, as addressed to the enemies of the church. But it may as well be understood of the converts to the church: who should no longer put their trust in any of these things.

[11] And I will destroy the cities of thy land, and will throw down all thy strong holds, and I will take away sorceries out of thy hand, and there shall be no divinations in thee. [12] And I will destroy thy graven things, and thy statues out of the midst of thee: and thou shalt no more adore the works of thy hands. [13] And I will pluck up thy groves out of the midst of thee: and will crush thy cities. [14] And I will execute vengeance in wrath and in indignation among all the nations that have not given ear.

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