And except those days should be shortened
That is, those days of tribulation which commenced at the siege of Jerusalem; and therefore cannot refer to the times before it, and the shortening of them by it, which were very dreadful and deplorable through the murders and robberies of the cut-throats and zealots; but to those after the siege began, which were very distressing to those that were within; and which, if they had not been shortened, or if the siege had been lengthened out further,
there should no flesh be saved;
not one Jew in the city of Jerusalem would have been saved; they must everyone have perished by famine, or pestilence, or sword, or by the intestine wars and murders among themselves: nor indeed, if the siege had continued, would it have fared better with the inhabitants of the other parts of the country, among whom also many of the same calamities prevailed and spread themselves; so that, in all likelihood, if these days had been continued a little longer, there had not been a Jew left in all the land.
But for the elect's sake;
those who were chosen in Christ, before the foundation of the world, to believe in him, and to be saved by him with an everlasting salvation; both those that were in the city, or, at least, who were to spring from some that were there, as their immediate offspring, or in future ages, and therefore they, and their posterity, must not be cut off; and also those chosen ones, and real believers, who were at Pella, and in the mountains, and other places, for the sake of these, and that they might be delivered from these pressing calamities,
those days shall be shortened:
for otherwise, if God had not preserved a seed, a remnant, according to the election of grace, that should be saved, they had been as Sodom and as Gomorrha, not one would have escaped. The shortening of those days is not to be understood literally, as if the natural days, in which this tribulation was, were to be shorter than usual. The Jews indeed often speak of the shortening of days in this sense, as miraculously done by God: so they say F14, that
``five miracles were wrought for our father Jacob, when he went from Beersheba to go to Haran. The first miracle was, that (amwyd ywev hyl wruqta) , "the hours of the day were shortened for him", and the sun set before its time, because his word desired to speak with him.''They also say F15,
``that the day in which Ahaz died, was shortened ten hours, that they might not mourn for him; and which afterwards rose up, and in the day that Hezekiah was healed, ten hours were added to it.''But the meaning here is, that the siege of Jerusalem, and the calamities attending it, should be sooner ended: not than God had determined, but than the sin of the Jews deserved, and the justice of God might have required in strict severity, and might be reasonably expected, considering the aggravated circumstances of their iniquities. A like manner of speech is used by the Karaite Jews F16, who say,
``if we walk in our law, why is our captivity prolonged, and there is not found balm for our wounds? and why are not (Mhymy wjemtn) , "the days" of the golden and silver kingdom "lessened", for the righteousness of the righteous, which were in their days?''
F14 Targum Jonathan ben Uzziel, & Targum Hieros. in Gem xxviii. 10.
F15 R. Sol. Jarchi in Isa. xxxviii. 8.
F16 Chilluk M. S. apud Trigland. de sect. Karaeorum, c. 9. p. 147.