The Biblical books of Deuteronomy and Jeremiah say that Israel would be scattered, preserved and regathered. That is what happened. The Jews over many centuries were scattered over many nations across the world. But they gradually returned to Israel with the nation of Israel being proclaimed in 1948.
The fulfillment of this prophecy showed that the Bible is God’s inspired word.
Let’s look at the fulfillment of this prophecy in more detail:
A brief history of the Jews prior to the birth of Jesus
Abraham is regarded as the father of the Jewish nation. He lived in Ur of the Chaldees (in modern day Iraqi territory) He was told by God to take all his belongings and head in the direction that God said. He was guided west until he came to a 300 kilometre long strip of land between the Mediterranean and the Dead Sea which was mountainous in the centre, with coastal plains to the west and the Sinai desert to the south. He was promised by God that his descendants would be given this land. Abraham became the father of a son, called Isaac. Isaac in turn had a son, Jacob. Jacob had 12 sons whose offspring formed the 12 tribes of Israel. It was at the time of Jacob’s sons that the Israelites moved south into Egypt. Their numbers grew and they were enslaved by the Pharaohs. Moses was given the task of leading them out of Egypt and onto the land that had been originally promised to Abraham.
After 40 years of wandering the Israelites arrived in the Promised Land. Initially they were ruled by leaders called Judges for about 500 years. But they reached the pinnacle of their power in the time of their first kings, David and Solomon. Their devotion to the Lord God and their obedience to His law had brought about the blessings promised to them many years before.
But then slowly, they drifted away from God. They imported the worship of foreign gods from the nations around them. God was extremely patient with His people, but eventually, around, 587 B.C. he let the Babylonians capture Jerusalem and take the people away. For 70 years the land was empty of all but the poorest Jews. After that time, a proportion was allowed to return from Babylon. They picked up the thread of national life, but without a king. As a result, they were controlled by the Persians, then the Greeks and finally the Romans. It was into this oppressed world that Jesus of Nazareth was born.
The prophecy about the Jews – scattered; despised amongst nations
Whilst the Jews had traveled for 40 years towards the promised land, their leader Moses was given many laws and commandments from God. These laws were to be what the people were to live their lives by. If they obeyed these laws then God promised them a long and happy life in the promised land that He was going to give them. However, there were conditions – their continued possession of the land was dependent on their obedience. If they defiled it with blood and barbarity, then their tenancy would be terminated. This brings us to the prophecy of the nation of Israel:
Moses gave a prophecy about Israel, in which he was able to foretell their history for thousands of years. This is found in the Biblical book of Deuteronomy and chapter 28. The first 14 verses of this chapter tell of all the good things they would enjoy if they were obedient. The remainder of the chapter outlines the troubles God would bring upon them with increasing intensity, if they failed to honour their promise to obey his laws.
At first their economy would go wrong. The rains would fail, and crops would shrivel. Their enemies would get the better of them, and foreign kings would rule over them. As the pressure increased, they would be invaded and besieged, and taken away into captivity. And we have read about these things in the first part of this article. Eventually Moses warned:
“The Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other…And among these nations you shall find no ease, and there shall be no rest for the sole of you foot…night and day you shall be in dread, and have no assurance of your life…”you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you”. Deuteronomy 28:64-66, 37
The amazing thing is that it all came true.
The scattering of the Jews
At the start of this article is a photo of a model of the temple in Jerusalem around the time of Jesus. 30 years after Jesus was crucified, the Jews rebelled against Rome in AD70. A strong army besieged and captured Jerusalem, filling the streets with corpses and destroying the temple. Another 60 years past and then there was another revolt in 132 A.D. – this revolt sealed their fate. The Romans had had enough trouble, they were determined to stop these revolts once and for all. Hundreds of thousands of Jews were sold into slavery, increasing the already substantial Jewish populations of many provinces of the Roman Empire – and beyond.
The Israelites, as had been foretold in the Old Testament, became wandering Jews, to be found in practically every country of the world, despised, reviled and hounded by persecution from city to city.
For the centuries that followed, the Jews survived as a nation without a country. Wherever they went they were hated, treated as an inferior race and made to live in ghettoes. For example, in England in 1190 there was a fearful wave of massacres spreading from city to city, wiping out Jewish men, women and children. For the next hundred years the survivors lived uneasily. Then, in 1290, Edward I expelled all the Jews from Britain. Later on in 1492 all the Jews were expelled from Spain. In other countries their treatment was even worse. In the 1880s Jews had to flee for their lives from Russia and in the 1930s from Germany (but as we know many didn’t get out in time).
So at different times over a seventeen century period, the exiled Jews were persecuted, massacred, or forced to flee for their lives from one country to another. Yet despite all of this they survived.
The prophecy about the Jews – regathered
We have looked at the prophecies of the Jews being scattered and being despised amongst the nations. And we have seen how these prophecies were fulfilled. Let’s now look at the final prophecy of the Jews, which is being ultimately regathered back to their land.
The prophet Ezekiel says these words in chapter 11 and verse 17:
“Thus says the Lord God: ’I will gather you from the peoples, assemble you from the countries where you have been scattered, and I will give you the land of Israel”.
So the promise was made that the Jews would return to their homeland.
The regathering of the Jews
We read before about what happened to the Jewish people after their revolt against the Romans but what happened to their land and their capital – the city of Jerusalem over the past 1,900 years?
It wasn’t until the reign of the Roman Constantine early in the fourth century that the Jews were again permitted to enter the city of Jerusalem. From his reign on, the city became Christian instead of pagan, and many churches and monasteries were built. Omar, the second caliph after the prophet Muhammad, entered the city and removed the Romans in AD 638.
The Crusaders took Jerusalem in 1099, but the Muslim leader Saladin won it back in 1187. The city remained in Muslim hands, passing from the Arabs to the Turks, until World War I when the British captured it along with the rest of Palestine in 1917. After the war, the British continued to administer Palestine under a mandate from the League of Nations. Jerusalem was the capital of Palestine. About half of the city’s population of 80,000 was Jewish, with the rest divided between Christians and Muslims.
After two decades of uneasy rule the British withdrew in 1948, and the State of Israel was established. The Arab states immediately attacked, and in the fighting, Jordan captured the Old City, and the New City was divided between Jordan and the Israelis, who proclaimed it their capital. The United Nations voted in 1949 to make Jerusalem an international city. Jordan and Israel refused to accept this but agreed to accept an established boundary through the city’s centre, though Jews were then denied access to the Western Wall.
In June 1967, during the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab states, Israel stormed the Old City and proclaimed a reunified Jerusalem under Israeli administration. The barriers dividing the city were removed for the first time in 20 years. Israel guaranteed the accessibility of religious shrines to members of all faiths.
Despite a United Nations resolution disapproving of unification, the Israeli parliament, declared unified Jerusalem its capital in 1980.
So the remarkable prophecies of the Old Testament all those many years ago had been fulfilled! The Jews have been regathered and reformed into a nation. Once again we see prophecy in the Bible being fulfilled – another reason to believe that the Bible is true.