Deuteronomy 28:49

Deuteronomy 28:49

The Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the
end of the earth
Now though Babylon is represented as a country distant from Judea, and said to be a nation "from far", ( Jeremiah 5:15 ) ; yet not "from the end of the earth"; as here; and though the Roman nation, strictly speaking, was not at so great a distance from Jerusalem, yet the Roman emperors, and great part of their armies brought against it, were fetched from our island of Great Britain, which in former times was reckoned the end of the earth, and the uttermost parts of the world {s}; and so Manasseh Ben Israel F20 interprets this nation of Rome, and observes, that Vespasian brought for his assistance many nations (or soldiers) out of England, France, Spain, and other parts of the world: and not only Vespasian was sent for from Britain to make war with the Jews, but when they rebelled, in the times of Adrian, Julius Severus, a very eminent general, was sent for from thence to quell them. And it appears to be a very ancient opinion of the Jews, that this passage is to be understood of the Romans, from what is related in one of their Talmuds F21: they say, that

``Trajan, being sent for by his wife to subdue the Jews, determined to come in ten days, and came in five; he came and found them (the Jews) busy in the law on that verse, "the Lord shall bring a nation against thee from far" he said unto them, what are ye busy in? they answered him, so and so; he replied to them, this is the man (meaning himself) who thought to come in ten days, and came in five; and he surrounded them with his legions, and slew them:''

[as swift] as the eagle flieth;
which may respect not so much the swiftness of this creature, the words which convey the idea being a supplement of the text, as the force with which it flies when in sight of its prey, and hastes unto it and falls upon it, which is irresistible; and this is the sense of the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions, and is what is ascribed to the eagle by other writers F23. Now though this figure is used of the Chaldeans and Babylonians, ( Jeremiah 4:13 ) ( Lamentations 4:19 ) ( Habakkuk 1:8 ) ; it agrees full as well or better with the Romans, because of their swiftness in coming from distant parts, and because of the force and impetus with which they invaded Judea, besieged Jerusalem, and attacked the Jews everywhere; and besides, the eagle was borne on the standard in the Roman army F24:

a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand;
which, though it is also said of the language of the Chaldean nation, ( Jeremiah 5:15 ) ; yet as the Chaldee and Hebrew languages were only dialects of one and the same language, common to the eastern nations, the Chaldee language, though on account of termination of words, pronunciation, and other things, might be difficult, and hard to be understood by the Jews, yet must be much more easy to understand than the Roman language, so widely different from theirs.


F19 "----In ultimos orbis Britannos", Horat. Carmin. l. 1. Ode 35.
F20 De Termino Vitae, l. 3. sect. 3. p. 129.
F21 T. Hieros. Succah, fol. 55. 2.
F23 Vid. Homer. Iliad. 21. l. 252.
F24 Vid. Plin. Nat. Hist. l. 10. c. 4.