There shall be an handful of corn
By which are not meant the people of Christ, compared to corn, or wheat, in distinction from hypocrites, said to be as chaff, ( Matthew 2:12 ) ; who are but few, yet fruitful and flourishing; nor the Gospel, so called in opposition to the chaff of false doctrine, ( Jeremiah 23:28 ) ; nor the blessings of grace, signified by corn, wine, and oil, ( Jeremiah 31:12 ) ; but Christ, who compares himself to a corn of wheat, ( John 12:24 ) ; for its choiceness and purity, and for its usefulness for food; and he may be compared to an handful of it, because of the little account he was made of here on earth, and the little that was expected from him; and on account of the small beginnings of his kingdom, which came not with observation, was like a little stone cut out of the mountain without hands, and like a grain of mustard seed: so R. Obadiah Gaon F13 interprets these words,
``an handful of corn; that is, the Messiah shall be at first as an handful of corn; but afterwards a multitude of disciples shall grow as the grass;''in the earth;
that is, sown in the earth: this denotes not Christ's being on the earth in the days of his flesh; but his death and burial, his descending into the lower parts of the earth, where he continued a while to answer the type of Jonah; and which is represented by a corn of wheat falling into the earth and dying, ( John 12:24 ) ; by which is signified, that Christ's death was not accidental, but designed, as is the sowing of corn in the earth; and that it was voluntary, and not forced, and was but for a time: for as the corn dies, and lives again, and does not lie always under the clods; so Christ rose again; nor could he be held with the cords of death. It is added,
upon the top of the mountains;
where corn being sown, it is very unlikely it should come to anything; and as little was expected by the Jews from the crucifixion and death of Christ: or else this may denote the publicness of Christ's death, it being a fact known to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and many others;
the fruit thereof shall shake like Lebanon;
meaning either a large number of souls converted, the fruit of Christ's death, and of the Gospel ministry; of whom there was a large harvests, both in Judea and in the Gentile world, in the first times of the Gospel, immediately after Christ's death and resurrection; and there will be still a greater in the latter day: or else the blessings of grace are meant, which come by the death and resurrection of Christ; as righteousness, peace, pardon, and eternal life. The allusion is to a field of wheat when ripe, and its ears heavy, which, when the wind blows upon it, is shaken, rustles, and makes a noise F14, like the shaking of trees, and even of the cedars in Lebanon; it denotes the goodness and excellency or the fruit;
and [they] of the city shall flourish like grass of the earth;
or "they shall flourish out of the city" F15; which the Targum interprets of the city of Jerusalem; and so the Talmud F16, and also Jarchi; and was literally true; for the Gospel, after Christ's death, was first preached in the city of Jerusalem, and was blessed for the conversion of many there, who were fruitful in grace and good works: it may very well be understood of all the citizens of Sion; such who are fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God, who being planted in the house of the Lord, flourish in the court of our God, and become very fruitful in every good word and work; and flourish like grass of the earth for numbers, for quickness of growth, and for verdure and beauty; all which is owing to their being rooted in Christ, to his coming down upon them as rain, ( Psalms 72:6 ) ; to the dews of his grace, and to his arising upon them as the sun of righteousness. The ancient Jews interpreted this passage of the Messiah:
``as the first Redeemer, they say F17, caused manna to descend, as it is said, ( Exodus 16:4 ) ; so the latter Redeemer shall cause manna to descend, as it is said, "there shall be an handful of corn in the earth".''Jarchi says our Rabbins interpret this of the dainties in the days of the Messiah, and the whole psalm concerning the King Messiah.
F13 In Viccars. in loc.
F14 "Corpus ut impulsae segetes aquilonibus horret", Ovid. Epist. 10. v. 139.
F15 (ryem) "de civilate", V. L. Musculus, Gejerus; so Montanus, Tigurine version, Cocceius, Michaelis.
F16 T. Bab. Cetubot, fol. 111. 2.
F17 Midrash Kohelet, fol. 63. 2.