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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.


The Prophet here amplifies the kindness of God, because he would not only restore the tribe of Judah, but also the ten tribes, who had previously been led into exile. He then promises here a full and complete restoration of the Church. The Prophets do not always speak in the same manner of the liberation of the people; sometimes they confine what they say to the tribe of Judah, as though the rest were in a hopeless state, but often they extend their prophecies to the whole body of the people. So in this place Jeremiah includes, together with the tribe of Judah, the ten tribes, and the half tribe of Benjamin, for some of the tribe of Benjamin had remained and had never revolted from the family of David. But they usually call the kingdom of Israel the ten tribes, and denote the kingdom of Judah by the name of that one tribe: thus the tribe of Benjamin, divided into two parts, is not mentioned.

The meaning, then, of the Prophet is, that when God redeemed his people, not only Judah would return, but also the Israelites, of whom there was hardly a hope, because they had been in exile for a long time; and as they had rejected the pure and legitimate worship of God, they might have been thought to have been excluded from the Church, for by their own perfidy they had shut out themselves, so that they were unworthy of so honorable a distinction. So the Prophet here declares that God’s favor would surpass the wickedness and perverseness of the people of Israel.

Hence he says that the day would come in which watch-men would cry on the mountain of Ephraim, etc. By Ephraim, as it is well known, are often to be understood the ten tribes, and that on account of Jeroboam, who first reigned over them. But we ought ever to remember, that under one tribe, in this case, are included all the ten tribes. When, therefore, the Prophet speaks of watchmen on Mount Ephraim, he means all the watchmen, placed on their watchtowers, through the whole kingdom of Israel. But the contrast ought to be noticed, for Jeroboam had closed up every passage by which the Israelites might ascend to Jerusalem; for he feared lest they should there hear of God’s covenant which he had made with David and his posterity. He was in at ease with himself, because he had obtained the kingdom by sinister means. God had, indeed, by his Prophet commanded him to be anointed a king; but it does not hence follow, that as to himself he had obtained the kingdom justly. It is true that God intended to punish Rehoboam and also the people; but he who had been the author of the revolt was perfidious in seeking to establish a kingdom for his posterity; he forbade any one to ascend to Jerusalem, and therefore he built altars in Dan and Bethel. (1 Kings 12:29-31) On this account the Prophet Hosea complains that they besieged the ways like thieves, and that many who ascended to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices to God were slain; and some were plundered and sent home. (Hosea 6:9) The contrast then is worthy of being noticed, when the Prophet says,

“Yet cry shall watchmen on Mount Ephraim, Arise, let us ascend to Zion to our God.”

For though in appearance they forsook only the posterity of David, they yet at the same time renounced the true and pure worship of God; and the religion which they followed under Jeroboam was spurious; for they ought to have offered sacrifices to God only in one place, for it is often found in the Law,

“Thou shalt come to the place which the Lord thy God shall choose.” (Deuteronomy 12:26)

But they having despised the place which God had appointed for himself, built altars elsewhere. Then their worship was nothing but superstition; and though they multiplied sacrifices, they did nothing but provoke God’s wrath; for it is not lawful for us to devise anything beyond what is prescribed in the Law.

The Prophet therefore says, Cry shall watchmen, Arise, let us ascend into Zion; that is, there will not be such a division among the people as there was formerly. For a few only worshipped God in the Temple which had beell built by his command, and the rest gave themselves up to numberless superstitions; but now they shall again unite in one body. In short, Jeremiah here teaches us, that all the children of Abraham would return to a fraternal agreement, and that there would be a bond between them, a unity of faith, for they would together unite in offering sacrifices, and no one would invent a god for himself. 2525     The verb for “cry” is either in the past tense or in the imperative mood. As there are so many imperatives in this passage, it seems that this is an imperative too. It appears that the latter part of the last verse, this verse, and that which follows, contain what would be addressed to the people after their return. In no other way can the verbs be grammatically rendered. The whole address is as follows, —
   “Plant, O ye planters, and eat the fruit;

   6. For come is the day: Call ye, O watchmen, on mount Ephraim, ‘Arise, and let us go into Sion, to Jehovah our God;’

   7. For thus has Jehovah said, Shout ye, ‘To Jacob there is joy,’ And cry it aloud amont the chief of the nations; Publish, exultingly proclaim, and say, ‘Saved hath Jehovah thy people, The remnant of Israel.’”

   The passage is a sort of an episode. What follows seems well connected with the former part of the 5th verse (Jeremiah 31:5).

   “Eat the fruit,” is the meaning, and not the literal version, which can hardly be given: it is so rendered by Blayney. “Call ye,” or, proclaim, or, give the invitation. The news was to be made known “among the chief of the nations,” as it is evident from the 10th verse (Jeremiah 31:10). “Saved,” etc., so the Sept. and the Targum, and more consistent with the context than “save;” but both have “his,” i.e., God’s, instead of “thy people,” i.e., Jacob’s. The verb הללו means not only to praise, but also to boast, to exult, and here evidently to proclaim with exultation or triumph. It is rendered here “sing ye,” by the Vulg. and Syr.

   It is worthy of notice, that in this episode the particulars, mentioned in the 4th verse (Jeremiah 31:4-5), and the beginning of the 5th, are referred to in their reversed order. — Ed.

Now this passage is especially useful; for we may hence learn what is the right state of the Church; it is when all agree in one faith. But we must, at the same time, see what is the foundation of this faith. The Papists indeed boast of this union, but yet they pass by what ought to hold the first place, that is, that all must have regard to the only true God, according to what they are taught by his word. Hence the Prophet here mentions Mount Sion, which had been chosen by God, that he might shew that no unity pleases God, unless men obey his word from the least to the greatest, and not follow their own imaginations, but embrace what he teaches and prescribes in his Law. This is the import of this passage. The Israelites shall then call him their God, from whom they had before wickedly departed. It follows —

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