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The Joyful Return of the Exiles


At that time, says the L ord, I will be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.


Thus says the L ord:

The people who survived the sword

found grace in the wilderness;

when Israel sought for rest,


the L ord appeared to him from far away.

I have loved you with an everlasting love;

therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.


Again I will build you, and you shall be built,

O virgin Israel!

Again you shall take your tambourines,

and go forth in the dance of the merrymakers.


Again you shall plant vineyards

on the mountains of Samaria;

the planters shall plant,

and shall enjoy the fruit.


For there shall be a day when sentinels will call

in the hill country of Ephraim:

“Come, let us go up to Zion,

to the L ord our God.”



For thus says the L ord:

Sing aloud with gladness for Jacob,

and raise shouts for the chief of the nations;

proclaim, give praise, and say,

“Save, O L ord, your people,

the remnant of Israel.”


See, I am going to bring them from the land of the north,

and gather them from the farthest parts of the earth,

among them the blind and the lame,

those with child and those in labor, together;

a great company, they shall return here.


With weeping they shall come,

and with consolations I will lead them back,

I will let them walk by brooks of water,

in a straight path in which they shall not stumble;

for I have become a father to Israel,

and Ephraim is my firstborn.



Hear the word of the L ord, O nations,

and declare it in the coastlands far away;

say, “He who scattered Israel will gather him,

and will keep him as a shepherd a flock.”


For the L ord has ransomed Jacob,

and has redeemed him from hands too strong for him.


They shall come and sing aloud on the height of Zion,

and they shall be radiant over the goodness of the L ord,

over the grain, the wine, and the oil,

and over the young of the flock and the herd;

their life shall become like a watered garden,

and they shall never languish again.


Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance,

and the young men and the old shall be merry.

I will turn their mourning into joy,

I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow.


I will give the priests their fill of fatness,

and my people shall be satisfied with my bounty,

says the L ord.



Thus says the L ord:

A voice is heard in Ramah,

lamentation and bitter weeping.

Rachel is weeping for her children;

she refuses to be comforted for her children,

because they are no more.


Thus says the L ord:

Keep your voice from weeping,

and your eyes from tears;

for there is a reward for your work,

says the L ord:

they shall come back from the land of the enemy;


there is hope for your future,

says the L ord:

your children shall come back to their own country.



Indeed I heard Ephraim pleading:

“You disciplined me, and I took the discipline;

I was like a calf untrained.

Bring me back, let me come back,

for you are the L ord my God.


For after I had turned away I repented;

and after I was discovered, I struck my thigh;

I was ashamed, and I was dismayed

because I bore the disgrace of my youth.”


Is Ephraim my dear son?

Is he the child I delight in?

As often as I speak against him,

I still remember him.

Therefore I am deeply moved for him;

I will surely have mercy on him,

says the L ord.



Set up road markers for yourself,

make yourself signposts;

consider well the highway,

the road by which you went.

Return, O virgin Israel,

return to these your cities.


How long will you waver,

O faithless daughter?

For the L ord has created a new thing on the earth:

a woman encompasses a man.


23 Thus says the L ord of hosts, the God of Israel: Once more they shall use these words in the land of Judah and in its towns when I restore their fortunes:

“The L ord bless you, O abode of righteousness,

O holy hill!”

24 And Judah and all its towns shall live there together, and the farmers and those who wander with their flocks.


I will satisfy the weary,

and all who are faint I will replenish.

26 Thereupon I awoke and looked, and my sleep was pleasant to me.

Individual Retribution

27 The days are surely coming, says the L ord, when I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of humans and the seed of animals. 28And just as I have watched over them to pluck up and break down, to overthrow, destroy, and bring evil, so I will watch over them to build and to plant, says the L ord. 29In those days they shall no longer say:

“The parents have eaten sour grapes,

and the children’s teeth are set on edge.”

30 But all shall die for their own sins; the teeth of everyone who eats sour grapes shall be set on edge.

A New Covenant

31 The days are surely coming, says the L ord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah. 32It will not be like the covenant that I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt—a covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, says the L ord. 33But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the L ord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the L ord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the L ord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.



Thus says the L ord,

who gives the sun for light by day

and the fixed order of the moon and the stars for light by night,

who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar—

the L ord of hosts is his name:


If this fixed order were ever to cease

from my presence, says the L ord,

then also the offspring of Israel would cease

to be a nation before me forever.



Thus says the L ord:

If the heavens above can be measured,

and the foundations of the earth below can be explored,

then I will reject all the offspring of Israel

because of all they have done,

says the L ord.


Jerusalem to Be Enlarged

38 The days are surely coming, says the L ord, when the city shall be rebuilt for the L ord from the tower of Hananel to the Corner Gate. 39And the measuring line shall go out farther, straight to the hill Gareb, and shall then turn to Goah. 40The whole valley of the dead bodies and the ashes, and all the fields as far as the Wadi Kidron, to the corner of the Horse Gate toward the east, shall be sacred to the L ord. It shall never again be uprooted or overthrown.


Jeremiah now proceeds with what he had before briefly touched upon, even to shew that the punishment inflicted on the Israelites had not been without its fruit. And this is a doctrine which ought especially to be known, for we always shun whatever is hard to the flesh; so that if it were according to our own will, the chastisements of God would never be well received by us. It is, therefore, necessary to regard the end, as the Apostle reminds us. (Hebrews 12:11) Now when we see that God has a regard for our own salvation while handling us somewhat roughly, our sorrow is mitigated and lessened, especially when experience proves that punishment is good for us; we then felicitate ourselves, and give thanks to God that he has not suffered us wholly to perish in our sins. This is the reason why the Prophet enlarges on this doctrine.

He therefore says, After thou hast turned me, I repented He confirms what he has already said, that it is the peculiar work of God when a sinner repents, and that it cannot be ascribed to human powers, as though men could of themselves turn to the right way. But how was this done? After thou hast turned me He thus repeats in other words what he had said, but for the purpose of confirming his previous declaration. The meaning is, that we are never touched by a serious feeling, so as to be displeased with our sins, until God himself turns us.

We hence learn how blind the Papists are, who, speaking of repentance, hold that man, through his own free-will, returns to God; and on this point is our greatest contest with them at this day. But the Prophet briefly determines the whole question; for, as he had said before, that men cannot turn except God turns them, he now adds, that he had found this to be really the fact, that people had never become conscious of their sins though God had grievously punished them until they were turned, not by their own free-will, but by the hidden working and influence of the ttoly Spirit; after thou hast turned me, I repented The meaning is, that men never entertain a real hatred towards sin, unless God illuminates their minds and changes their hearts; for what is the turning or conversion of which the Prophet speaks? It is the renewal of the mind and heart. For let its definition be fetched, as they say, from what is contrary to it; what is turning away? It is the alienation of the mind and heart from God. It then follows that when we turn we are converted, we are renewed in knowledge, and then in heart, or in our affections; both of which the Prophet ascribes to the grace of God, for he says that the people repented not of their sins until they were turned or converted, that is, until they were renewed both in mind and heart. Some give this version, “After I received consolation;” but their mistake is easily confuted by the context; for it immediately follows, I was ashamed and also confounded. There is no doubt then but that here is set forth the displeasure at sin that is felt when the sinner is terrified by God’s judgment so as to renounce his vices.

After I was made known to myself, or, after it was shewn to me, or, simply, after I knew it, etc. For we may take the meaning to be, After it was given to Ephraim to know himself, or, after he knew himself. Some give this version, “After I was known;” and so the meaning would be the same with those words of Paul,

“After ye have known God, or rather are known by him.”
(Galatians 4:9)

But I fear that this exposition is too refined. I therefore would rather follow those who give this rendering, After I became known to myself, or, after the thing was made known to me. The Prophet, no doubt, commends here the grace of God, because the veil had been taken away from the eyes of the people, or because they had been cured of their blindness; as though they had said, that they had long been blind, because they took delight in their vices, and their whole soul was in a torpid state; for we know that those who are forsaken by God are wholly insensible, and are as it were like the beasts. Then the people of Israel confess that they were, for a time, thus stupid, and that their minds were blinded: they therefore acknowledge here the grace of God, that he had at length opened their eyes. For they do not speak here, as we have said, of their virtue or power, but acknowledge that it proceeded wholly from God’s gratuitous favor that they repented.

As then, under the word, turning or conversion, is included the renewal of the whole soul, so now it is expressly said, that they were endued with a right mind, because God had taken away the veil by which their eyes were covered, and had conferred on them new light. The meaning is, that they were not touched by the true fear of God before they were endued with a right mind; but at the same time he testifies that it had been obtained through the peculiar favor of God. We hence see that the Prophet, in the name of the ten tribes, acknowledges that nothing depended on the free-will of man, but that a sound mind and a right feeling of the heart is the work of the Holy Spirit. 3939     What Calvin teaches here is indisputable, but whether the passage warrants the view he takes of it, is another thing, though most commentators have taken the same view. The versions, especially the Vulg., seem to have suggested this explanation by giving to the verb שוב, in the former verse, the meaning of turning or conversion, instead of returning or restoring, agreeably with the whole context, see verse 17th (Jeremiah 31:17). Gataker suggested this idea; and it was afterwards fully adopted by Venema: and, according to their views I render this verse as follows, —
   For after I returned to myself, I repented,
And after I knew myself, I smote my thigh;
I was ashamed and even confounded,
Because I have borne the reproach of my youth.

   The Vulg. renders the first words, “After thou hast turned,” or converted “me (convertisti me;)” the Sept., “After my captivity;” the Syr., “After that I was converted;” and the Targ., “When we return to the Law.” Literally the words are, “After my returning,” which, according to the Hebrew idiom may be rendered, “After returning to myself,” as in the following line, “after my knowing,” means evidently “after knowing myself.”

   The two verses contain the language of the penitent, praying for restoration to their own land: and two reasons are assigned for this prayer, — because Jehovah was their covenanted God, — and because they repented, for to such had restoration been promised: Hence for is used twice; it is therefore not right to render כי at the beginning of the 19th verse (Jeremiah 31:19), verily or surely. — Ed

The smiting of the thigh means sorrow or grief, which arises from the fear of God: for as long as we disregard God’s judgment, Satan must necessarily fascinate us with his allurements; but when God manifestly shews that he is our judge, and when our own baseness comes to view, then we begin to smite the thigh And he adds, what means the same thing, I was ashamed and even confounded I wonder why many interpreters have omitted the particle גמ gam, even: they invert the order, and render thus, “I was confounded and ashamed.” But the particle shews that the Prophet enhances the greatness of the sorrow and shame when he says, I was ashamed and even confounded

He then adds, Because I have borne the reproach of my youth He here repeats what he had said before, even that punishment, sent from above, had done good to the Israelites. For except they had been thus made ashamed, they would have always taken delight in their vices; for we see that the wicked flatter and deceive themselves as long as God spares and shews forbearance towards them. Hence the Prophet, in the name of the people, says, that punishment had been profitable to him. But we must bear in mind what we have said, that this fruit altogether proceeds from the grace of God: for the reprobate, however dreadful the examples of vengeance which God may exhibit, still remain unbending, nor do they bear their own reproach, that is, confess that they have sinned. To bear reproach, then, is peculiar to the elect of God, who have been regenerated by his Spirit; for they understand the cause of their evils. When we see two diseased persons, one of whom is insane, and so is insensible as to his disease, and the other feels his sorrow, and is affected by it: in this case we see some difference. But we see another difference in others who are diseased; we may therefore suppose a third case, for it often happens, that he who is affected with sorrow, does not yet examine into its cause. He then who is healable is one who understands whence has arisen his disease, and so is ready to obey, and willing to adopt the necessary remedies. There are also many who rush headlong to their own ruin; some, indeed, feel their punishment to be bitter, but consider not the cause of it, that is, that they have provoked God’s wrath: but they who are prepared to seek the restoration of health, well know how they have contracted their disease. Hence the Prophet here says, that they bore their reproach, for they not only felt their sorrow, but also considered its fountain, that is, that they had, by their sins, provoked the wrath of God.

By youth he metaphorically points out the time when the Israelites indulged in excesses; for we know how much ardor belongs to that age. In the aged there is more moderation; but the young intemperately indulge themselves. It is therefore a metaphorical expression, by which the Prophet intimates, that the Israelites had, for a time, been wanton against God, their petulance being not subdued, for, as he had said, they had been like untamed bullocks. It follows, —

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