In the cities of the mountains, in the cities of the vale,
and in the cities of the south
Into which three parts the land of Judea was divided; (See Gill on Jeremiah 32:44); and in the land of Benjamin, and in the places about Jerusalem, and in
the cities of Judah;
in the cities of the two tribes, of which Jerusalem was the metropolis; and which returned from the captivity, and settled here, and were in being when the Messiah came, here prophesied of, the great Shepherd of the sheep: shall the flocks pass again under the hands of him that telleth
[them], saith the Lord;
alluding to the custom of shepherds telling their flocks, when they led them out of the fold in the morning, and when they put them in at evening F19; or to the tithing of them, ( Leviticus 27:32 ) ; this is not to be understood literally, but mystically. So Jarchi, Kimchi, and Abarbinel interpret it of the Israelites going in and out under the hands of their king, that goes at the head of them; and the Targum, of the King Messiah, and who is no doubt meant. The elect of God, who are intended by the "flocks", were in eternal election considered as sheep, and by that act of grace were distinguished from others; and so when an exact account was taken of them, their names were written in heaven, and in the Lamb's book of life; and had this seal and mark put upon them, "the Lord knows them that are his", ( 2 Timothy 2:19 ) ; also in the gift of them to Christ; in the covenant of grace, when they were brought into the bond of that covenant, they were likewise considered as sheep, distinct from others; and were told into the hands of Christ, where they are kept, and who has a most perfect knowledge of them; and in the effectual calling they will again pass under his hands; they are then as sheep that had gone astray, returned to the Shepherd and Bishop of their souls; and when they are separated from others, and special knowledge is taken of them, and Christ's mark, the sanctification of the Spirit, is put upon them; and at the last day, when Christ shall deliver them up to the Father, he will say, lo, I and the children, or sheep, whom thou hast given me; and they will all be numbered, and not one will be wanting.
F19 "Bisque die numerant, alter pecus, alter et haedos". Virgil.