They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt
They shall come from thence with fear and trembling; which may allude to the trembling of birds at the roaring of a lion, or to the trembling motion of their wings in flying; and denotes the swiftness of the motion of the Israelites and Jews to Christ, and to his church and people, and to their own land, under divine influence and direction: or "shall come with honour" F11; with all readiness and cheerfulness, in the obedience of faith: and as a dove out of the land of Assyria;
which is expressive of the same things, the dove being both a timorous and swift creature. Birds in common are very timorous, and tremble at any noise, and fearful of everything that disturbs them, and therefore make all the haste and speed they can to get out of the way, and to do which they are naturally provided; and more especially the dove is always represented as very fearful and trembling, especially when pursued by the hawk, as the poet F12 observes. Though, it may be, these figures may only signify, as the weak and impotent state of the Jews, considered in themselves at this time, so the quick speed and haste they shall make to their own land. And perhaps there may be something alluded to in the text, that may refer to the dove as peculiar to Assyria, as it should seem to be. Now it is said of Semiramis, an ancient queen of Assyria, that being exposed when an infant, was nourished by doves, and at her death was turned into one; and from hence it is not only said she had her name, which signifies a dove, in the Syriac tongue, but doves by the Syrians were worshipped as deities F13. And Derceto, a Syrian goddess, supposed to be her mother, having a temple at Askelon, perhaps the above story may be the reason why the inhabitants of that place reckoned doves so sacred that they did not kill them; for Philo F14, who lived there some time, having observed great numbers of them in the highways, and in every house, asked the reason of it; and he was answered, that the citizens were of old forbid the use of them: and it may be further observed, that, in honour of Semiramis, the kings of Assyria bore a dove in their coat of arms F15; but whether there is any thing peculiar or no in this reference is not certain: and, besides what has been observed of the fearfulness of this creature, and its swiftness and haste it makes in flying, it may also denote the characters of meekness, humility, and harmlessness, which the Jews, now converted, will have by the grace of God, as well as their mournful disposition. Egypt and Assyria are particularly mentioned, as they generally are where the return of Israel and Judah into their own land is prophesied of, ( Isaiah 11:11 ) ( Zechariah 10:10 ) ; and may signify the Turks, in whose possession these countries are, and among whom many Jews live: and the one lying to the south, and the other to the north of Judea, and the west being observed before, this shows that these people should be gathered from all parts of the world, where they are dispersed; the east is not mentioned, because their land they will be returned unto lies there; and I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord;
it is not said in towns and cities, and fortified places, but in houses, signifying that they should dwell in their own land, in a civil sense, securely, and in their habitations, under their vines and fig trees, being in no fear and danger of enemies, and live in the utmost safety, under the government and protection of the King Messiah; or, in a spiritual sense, they will be placed in the congregations of the saints in the churches of Christ, which will be as dove houses to them, and whither they shall fly as doves to their windows, ( Isaiah 60:8 ) ; and it is observed of doves, that they fly the swiftest when they make to their own houses: and at last, as all the people of God will, they will be placed in the mansions of glory, in Christ's Father's house, those everlasting habitations. These words, "saith the Lord", are added, for the certain and sure accomplishment of all this. The Targum of the whole is,
``as a bird which comes openly, so shall they come who are carried captive into the land of Egypt; and as a dove that returns to its dove house, so shall they return who are carried into the land of Assyria; and I will return them in peace to their houses, and my word shall be their protection, saith the Lord.''
F11 (wdrxy) "cum honore advenient", Schmidt.
F12 "Sic ego, currebam, sic me ferus ille premebat, Ut fagere accipitrem penna trepidante columba, Ut solet accipiter trepidas urgere columbas". Ovid. Metamorph. l. 5. Fab. 10.
F13 Diodor. Sicul. Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 92, 93, 107.
F14 Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 8. p. 398.
F15 Vid. Gregor. Posthuma, p. 235.