Jer 31:1-40. Continuation of
the Prophecy in the Thirtieth Chapter.
As in that chapter the restoration of Judah, so in
this the restoration of Israel's ten tribes is foretold.
1. At the same time—"In the latter days"
the God of—manifesting My grace
to (Ge 17:7; Mt 22:32; Re 21:3).
all … Israel—not the exiles of
the south kingdom of Judah only, but also the north
kingdom of the ten tribes; and not merely Israel in general, but
"all the families of Israel." Never yet fulfilled (Ro 11:26).
2. Upon the grace manifested to Israel "in the
wilderness" God grounds His argument for renewing His favors to them
now in their exile; because His covenant is "everlasting" (Jer 31:3), and changes not. The same
argument occurs in Ho 13:5, 9, 10; 14:4, 5, 8. Babylon is fitly compared to the
"wilderness," as in both alike Israel was as a stranger far from his
appointed "rest" or home, and Babylon is in Isa 40:3 called a "desert" (compare Jer 50:12).
I went to cause him to rest—namely, in
the pillar of cloud and fire, the symbol of God's presence, which
went before Israel to search a resting-place (Nu
10:33; Isa 63:14) for the
people, both a temporary one at each halt in the wilderness, and a
permanent one in Canaan (Ex 33:14; De 3:20;
Jos 21:44; Ps 95:11; Heb 3:11).
3. Israel gratefully acknowledges in reply
God's past grace; but at the same time tacitly implies by the
expression "of old," that God does not appear to her now. "God
appeared to me of old, but now I am forsaken!" God replies, Nay,
I love thee with the same love now as of old. My love was not a
momentary impulse, but from "everlasting" in My counsels, and
to "everlasting" in its continuance; hence originated the
covenant whereby I gratuitously adopted thee (Mal 1:2; Ro
11:28, 29). Margin
translates, "from afar," which does not answer so well as "of old," to
"in the wilderness" (Jer 31:2),
which refers to the olden times of Israel's history.
with loving kindness …
Rather, "I have drawn out continually My loving kindness toward
thee." So Ps 36:10,
"Continue (Margin, 'Draw out at length') Thy loving kindness."
By virtue of My everlasting love I will still extend My
loving kindness to thee. So Isa 44:21,
"O Israel, thou shalt not be forgotten of Me."
4. I will build … thou shalt be
built—The combination of the active and passive
to express the same fact implies the infallible certainty of its
accomplishment. "Build," that is, establish in prosperity (Jer 33:7).
adorned with … tabrets—(1Sa 18:6). Or, "adorn thyself with
thy timbrels"; used by damsels on occasions of public rejoicings
(Ex 15:20; Jud 11:34). Israel had cast away all instruments
of joy in her exile (Ps 137:4).
dances—holy joy, not carnal mirth.
5. Samaria—the metropolis of the ten
tribes; here equivalent to Israel. The mountainous nature
of their country suited the growth of the vine.
eat … as common—literally,
"shall profane," that is, shall put to common use. For the first three
years after planting, the vine was "not to be eaten of"; on the fourth
year the fruit was to be "holy to praise the Lord withal"; on the fifth
year the fruit was to be eaten as common, no longer restricted
to holy use (Le 19:23-25; compare De 20:6; 28:30, Margin). Thus the idea here is,
"The same persons who plant shall reap the fruits"; it shall no longer
be that one shall plant and another reap the fruit.
6. The watchmen stationed on eminences (types
of the preachers of the gospel), shall summon the ten tribes to go up
to the annual feasts at Jerusalem ("Zion"), as they used to do before
the revolt and the setting up of the idol calves at Dan and Beer-sheba
Mount Ephraim—not one single mountain,
but the whole mountainous region of the ten tribes.
our God—from whom we formerly
revolted, but who is now our God. An earnest of that good time
to come is given in the partial success of the gospel in its first
preaching in Samaria (Joh 4:1-42; Ac 8:5-25).
7. The people are urged with praises and
prayers to supplicate for their universal restoration. Jehovah is
represented in the context (Jer 31:1, 8), as promising immediately to restore
Israel. They therefore praise God for the restoration, being as certain
of it as if it were actually accomplished; and at the same time pray
for it, as prayer was a means to the desired end. Prayer does not
move God to grant our wishes, but when God has determined to grant our
wishes, He puts it into our hearts to pray for the thing desired.
Compare Ps 102:13-17, as to the connection of Israel's
restoration with the prayers of His people (Isa 62:1-6).
for Jacob—on account of Jacob; on
account of his approaching deliverance by Jehovah.
among—"for," that is, on account of,
would more exactly suit the parallelism to "for Jacob."
chief of the nations—Israel: as the
parallelism to "Jacob" proves (compare Ex 19:5; Ps 135:4; Am
6:1). God estimates the
greatness of nations not by man's standard of material resources, but
by His electing favor.
8. north—Assyria, Media, &c. (see on
Jer 3:12; Jer 3:18; 23:8).
gather from … coasts of …
earth—(Eze 20:34, 41; 34:13).
blind … lame, &c.—Not even
the most infirm and unfit persons for a journey shall be left behind,
so universal shall be the restoration.
a great company—or, they shall return
"in a great company" [Maurer].
9. weeping—for their past sins which
caused their exile (Ps 126:5, 6). Although they come with weeping, they
shall return with joy (Jer 50:4, 5).
supplications—(Compare Jer 31:18, 19; Jer 3:21-25; Zec 12:10). Margin translates "favors," as
in Jos 11:20; Ezr 9:8; thus God's favors or
compassions are put in opposition to the people's
weeping; their tears shall be turned into joy. But English
Version suits the parellelism best.
I will cause … to walk by … waters
… straight way—(Isa 35:6-8; 43:19; 49:10,
11). God will give them
waters to satisfy their thirst as in the wilderness journey from Egypt.
So spiritually (Mt 5:6; Joh 7:37).
Ephraim—the ten tribes no longer
severed from Judah, but forming one people with it.
my first-born—(Ex 4:22;
Ho 11:1; Ro 9:4). So the
elect Church (2Co 6:18; Jas 1:18).
10. The tidings of God's interposition in
behalf of Israel will arrest the attention of even the uttermost
He that scattered will gather—He who
scattered knows where to find Israel; He who smote can also heal.
keep—not only will gather, but
keep safely to the end (Joh 13:1; 17:11).
40:11; Eze 34:12-14).
11. ransomed … from … hand of …
stronger—No strength of the foe can prevent the Lord from
delivering Jacob (Isa 49:24, 25).
12. height of Zion—(Eze 17:23).
flow—There shall be a conflux
of worshippers to the temple on Zion (Isa 2:2; Mic 4:1).
to the goodness of … Lord—(See
that is, to the Lord as the source of all good things (Ho 3:5), to pray to Him and praise Him for
these blessings of which He is the Fountainhead.
watered garden—(Isa 58:11). Not merely for a time, but continually
full of holy comfort.
not sorrow any more—referring to the
Church triumphant, as well as to literal Israel (Isa
35:10; 65:19; Re 21:4).
13. young … old—(Zec 8:4, 5).
14. my goodness—(Jer 31:12).
15. Ramah—In Benjamin, east of the great
northern road, two hours' journey from Jerusalem. Rachel, who all her
life had pined for children (Ge 30:1), and
who died with "sorrow" in giving birth to Benjamin (Ge 35:18, 19, Margin; 1Sa 10:2), and was buried at Ramah, near
Beth-lehem, is represented as raising her head from the tomb, and as
breaking forth into "weeping" at seeing the whole land depopulated of
her sons, the Ephraimites. Ramah was the place where Nebuzara-dan
collected all the Jews in chains, previous to their removal to Babylon
40:1). God therefore consoles
her with the promise of their restoration. Mt 2:17, 18 quotes this as fulfilled in the
massacre of the innocents under Herod. "A lesser and a greater event,
of different times, may answer to the single sense of one passage of
Scripture, until the prophecy is exhausted" [Bengel]. Besides the temporary reference to the
exiles in Babylon, the Holy Spirit foreshadowed ultimately Messiah's
exile in Egypt, and the desolation caused in the neighborhood of
Rachel's tomb by Herod's massacre of the children, whose mothers had
"sons of sorrow" (Ben-oni), just as Rachel had. The return of
Messiah (the representative of Israel) from Egypt, and the future
restoration of Israel, both the literal and the spiritual (including
the innocents), at the Lord's second advent, are antitypical of the
restoration of Israel from Babylon, which is the ground of consolation
held out here by Jeremiah. The clause, "They were not," that is, were
42:13), does not apply so
strictly to the exiles in Babylon as it does to the history of Messiah
and His people—past, present, and future. So the words, "There is
hope in thine end," are to be fulfilled ultimately, when Rachel shall
meet her murdered children at the resurrection, at the same time that
literal Israel is to be restored. "They were not," in Hebrew, is
singular; each was not: each mother at the Beth-lehem massacre
had but one child to lament, as the limitation of age in Herod's
order, "two years and under," implies; this use of the singular
distributively (the mothers weeping severally, each for her own
child), is a coincidence between the prophecy of the Beth-lehem
massacre and the event, the more remarkable as not being obvious: the
singular, too, is appropriate as to Messiah in His
Egyptian exile, who was to be a leading object of Rachel's
16. thy work—thy parental weeping for
thy children [Rosenmuller]. Thine
affliction in the loss of thy children, murdered for Christ's sake,
shall not be fruitless to thee, as was the case in thy giving birth to
the "child of thy sorrow," Benjamin. Primarily, also, thy grief shall
not be perpetual: the exiles shall return, and the land be inhabited
come again—(Ho 1:11).
17. hope in … end—All thy
calamities shall have a prosperous issue.
18. Ephraim—representing the ten
bemoaning himself—The spirit of
penitent supplication shall at last be poured on Israel as the
necessary forerunner of their restoration (Zec 12:10-14).
Thou hast chastised me, and I was
chastised—In the first clause the chastisement itself is
meant; in the second the beneficial effect of it in teaching the
penitent true wisdom.
bullock unaccustomed to … yoke—A
similar image occurs in De 32:15.
Compare "stiff-necked," Ac 7:51; Ex 32:9, an image from refractory oxen.
Before my chastisement I needed the severe correction I received, as
much as an untamed bullock needs the goad. Compare Ac 9:5, where the same figure is used of Saul
while unconverted. Israel has had a longer chastisement than Judah, not
having been restored even at the Jews' return from Babylon. Hereafter,
at its restoration, it shall confess the sore discipline was all needed
to "accustom" it to God's "easy yoke" (Mt 11:29, 30).
turn thou me—by Thy converting Spirit
5:21). But why does Ephraim
pray for conversion, seeing that he is already converted? Because we
are converted by progressive steps, and need the same power of God to
carry forward, as to originate, our conversion (Joh 6:44, 65; compare with Isa
27:3; 1Pe 1:5; Php 1:6).
19. after that I was turned, I
repented—Repentance in the full sense follows, not precedes,
our being turned to God by God (Zec 12:10). The Jews' "looking to Him whom
they pierced" shall result in their "mourning for Him."
Repentance is the tear that flows from the eye of faith turned to
Jesus. He Himself gives it: we give it not of ourselves, but must come
to Him for it (Ac 5:31).
instructed—made to learn by
chastisement. God's Spirit often works through the corrections of His
smote upon … thigh—(Eze 21:12). A token of indignant remorse, shame,
and grief, because of his past sin.
bear … reproach of …
youth—"because the calamities which I bore were the
just punishment of my scandalous wantonness against God in my
youth"; alluding to the idols set up at Dan and Beth-el immediately
after the ten tribes revolted from Judah. His sense of shame
shows that he no longer delights in his sin.
20. Is Ephraim my dear son? &c.—The
question implies that a negative answer was to be expected. Who would
have thought that one so undutiful to His heavenly Father as Ephraim
had been should still be regarded by God as a "pleasant child?"
Certainly he was not so in respect to his sin. But by virtue of
God's "everlasting love" (Jer 31:3) on
Ephraim's being "turned" to God, he was immediately welcomed as God's
"dear son." This verse sets forth God's readiness to welcome the
penitent (Jer 31:18, 19), anticipating his return with
prevenient grace and love. Compare Lu 15:20: "When he was yet a great way
off, his father saw him and had compassion," &c.
spake against—threatened him for his
remember—with favor and concern, as in
bowels … troubled for him—(De 32:36; Isa 63:15; Ho 11:8)—namely, with the yearnings of
compassionate love. The "bowels" include the region of the heart, the
seat of the affections.
21. waymarks—pillars to mark the
road for the returning exiles. Caravans set up pillars, or
pointed heaps of stones, to mark the way through the desert
against their return. So Israel is told by God to mark the way by which
they went in leaving their country for exile; for by the same way they
highway—(Isa 35:8, 10).
22. go about—namely, after human helps
2:18, 23, 36). Why not return
immediately to me? Maurer translates, as
5:6, "How long wilt thou
withdraw thyself?" Let thy past backslidings suffice thee now
that a new era approaches. What God finds fault with in them is,
that they looked hither and thither, leaning on contingencies,
instead of at once trusting the word of God, which promised their
restoration. To assure them of this, God promises to create a new
thing in their land, A woman shall compass a man. Calvin explains this: Israel, who is feeble as a
woman, shall be superior to the warlike Chaldeans; the captives shall
reduce their captors to captivity. Hengstenberg makes the "woman" the Jewish Church,
and the "man" Jehovah, her husband, whose love she will again seek
7). Maurer, A woman shall protect (De 32:10, Margin; Ps 32:10) a man, that is, You need fear no foes
in returning, for all things shall be so peaceful that a woman
would be able to take man's part, and act as his protector. But
the Christian fathers (Augustine, &c.) almost unanimously
interpreted it of the Virgin Mary compassing Christ in her womb.
This view is favored:—(1) By the connection; it gives a reason
why the exiles should desire a return to their country, namely, because
Christ was conceived there. (2) The word "created" implies a divine
power put forth in the creation of a body in the Virgin's womb by the
Holy Ghost for the second Adam, such as was exerted in creating the
first Adam (Lu 1:35; Heb 10:5). (3) The phrase, "a new thing,"
something unprecedented; a man whose like had never existed before, at
once God and man; a mother out of the ordinary course of nature, at
once mother and virgin. An extraordinary mode of generation; one
conceived by the Holy Ghost without man. (4) The specification "in the
land" (not "earth," as English Version), namely, of
Judah, where probably Christ was conceived, in
Hebron (compare Lu 1:39, 42, 44, with Jos 21:11) or else in Nazareth, "in
the territory" of Israel, to whom Jer 31:5, 6, 15, 18, 21 refer; His birth was at
Beth-lehem (Mic 5:2; Mt 2:5, 6). As the place of His nativity, and of
His being reared (Mt 2:23), and
of His preaching (Hag 2:7; Mal 3:1), are specified, so it is likely the
Holy Spirit designated the place of His being conceived. (5) The
Hebrew for "woman" implies an individual, as the Virgin
Mary, rather than a collection of persons. (6) The restoration
of Israel is grounded on God's covenant in Christ, to whom,
therefore, allusion is naturally made as the foundation of Israel's
hope (compare Isa 7:14).
The Virgin Mary's conception of Messiah in the womb answers to
the "Virgin of Israel" (therefore so called, Jer 31:21), that is, Israel and her sons at their
final restoration, receiving Jesus as Messiah (Zec 12:10). (7) The reference to the conception of
the child Messiah accords with the mention of the massacre of
"children" referred to in Jer 31:15
2:17). (8) The Hebrew
for "man" is properly "mighty man," a term applied to God (De 10:17); and to Christ (Zec 13:7; compare Ps 45:3; Isa 9:6) [Calovius].
23. Jerusalem again shall be the metropolis of
the whole nation, the seat of "justice" (Ps 122:5-8; Isa 1:26), and of sacred worship
("holiness," Zec 8:3) on
24. Judah … cities … husbandmen
… they with flocks—Two classes, citizens and
countrymen, the latter divided into agriculturists and shepherds, all
alike in security, though the latter were to be outside the protection
of city walls. "Judah" here stands for the country, as
distinguished from its cities.
25. The "weary, sorrowful," and indigent state
of Israel will prove no obstacle in the way of My helping them.
26. The words of Jeremiah: Upon this
(or, By reason of this) announcement of a happy restoration, "I
awaked" from the prophetic dream vouchsafed to me (Jer 23:25) with the "sweet" impression thereof
remaining on my mind. "Sleep" here means dream, as in Ps 90:5.
27. He shows how a land so depopulated shall
again be peopled. God will cause both men and beasts in
it to increase to a multitude (Eze 36:9-11; Ho 2:23).
28. (Jer 44:27). The same God who, as it were (in human
language), was on the watch for all means to destroy, shall be
as much on the watch for the means of their restoration.
29. In those days—after their punishment
has been completed, and mercy again visits them.
fathers … eaten … sour grape …
children's teeth … on edge—the proverb among the
exiles' children born in Babylon, to express that they suffered the
evil consequences of their fathers' sins rather than of their own
(La 5:7; Eze 18:2, 3).
30. (Ga 6:5, 7).
31. the days … new covenant with …
Israel … Judah—The new covenant is made with literal
Israel and Judah, not with the spiritual Israel,
that is, believers, except secondarily, and as grafted on the stock of
Israel (Ro 11:16-27). For the whole subject of the thirtieth
and thirty-first chapters is the restoration of the Hebrews (Jer 30:4, 7, 10, 18;
31:7, 10, 11, 23, 24, 27, 36). With the "remnant according to the
election of grace" in Israel, the new covenant has already taken
effect. But with regard to the whole nation, its realization is
reserved for the last days, to which Paul refers this prophecy in an
abridged form (Ro 11:27).
32. Not … the covenant that I made with
… fathers—the Old Testament covenant, as contrasted
with our gospel covenant (Heb 8:8-12; 10:16, 17, where this prophecy is quoted to prove
the abrogation of the law by the gospel), of which the distinguishing
features are its securing by an adequate atonement the forgiveness of
sins, and by the inworking of effectual grace ensuring permanent
obedience. An earnest of this is given partially in the present
eclectic or elect Church gathered out of Jews and Gentiles. But the
promise here to Israel in the last days is national and universal, and
effected by an extraordinary outpouring of the Spirit (Jer
31:33, 34; Eze 11:17-20),
independent of any merit on their part (Eze 36:25-32; 37:1-28; 39:29; Joe 2:23-28; Zec 12:10;
took … by … hand—(De 1:31;
although I was an husband—(compare
Jer 3:14; Ho 2:7, 8). But the Septuagint, Syriac, and
St. Paul (Heb 8:9)
translate, "I regarded them not"; and Gesenius, &c., justify this rendering of the
Hebrew from the Arabic. The Hebrews regarded not
God, so God regarded them not.
33. will be their God—(Jer 32:38).
34. True, specially of Israel (Isa 54:13); secondarily, true of believers (Joh 6:45; 1Co 2:10; 1Jo 2:20).
forgive … iniquity … remember
… no more—(Jer 33:8; 50:20; Mic 7:18); applying peculiarly to Israel (Ro 11:27). Secondarily, all believers
35. divideth … sea when … waves
… roar … Lord of hosts … name—quoted from
51:15, the genuineness of
which passage is thus established on Jeremiah's authority.
36. a nation—Israel's national
polity has been broken up by the Romans. But their preservation as a
distinct people amidst violent persecutions, though scattered
among all nations for eighteen centuries, unamalgamated, whereas
all other peoples under such circumstances have become incorporated
with the nations in which they have been dispersed, is a perpetual
standing miracle (compare Jer 33:20; Ps 148:6; Isa 54:9,
37. (Compare Jer 33:22).
for all that they have done—namely,
all the sins. God will regard His own covenant promise, rather than
38. tower of Hananeel—The city shall
extend beyond its former bounds (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Zec
gate of … corner—(2Ki 14:13;
39. measuring-line—(Eze 40:8; Zec
Gareb—from a Hebrew root, "to
scrape"; Syriac, "leprosy"; the locality outside of the city, to
which lepers were removed.
Goath—from a root, "to toil,"
referring to the toilsome ascent there: outside of the city of
David, towards the southwest, as Gareb was northwest [Junius].
40. valley of … dead—Tophet, where
the bodies of malefactors were cast (Isa 30:33), south of the city.
fields … Kidron—so 2Ki 23:4. Fields in the suburbs reaching as far
as Kidron, east of the city.
horse gate—Through it the king's
horses were led forth for watering to the brook Kidron (2Ki 11:16; Ne
for ever—The city shall not only be
spacious, but both "holy to the Lord," that is, freed from all
pollutions, and everlasting (Joe 3:17, 20; Re 21:2,