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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.


God here complains of the Israelites, because he had produced so little an effect on them by his great goodness: for the adoption with which he had favored them was an immense benefit;but by their ingratitude they had in a manner annihilated that favor. God then here asks, what sort of people the Israelites had been. But a question makes a thing stronger; for he who asks a question shews that he speaks not of a thing uncertain, but the knowledge of which is so conspicuous that it cannot be denied. It is then the same as though he had said, that Ephraim was unworthy of any honor or esteem, and that he was no object of delight. We now then perceive what God means in the beginning of the verse, even that the people were unworthy of any mercy, because they had abolished, as far as they could, the favor of adoption: for by the word son, he refers to that special favor, the covenant which he had made with the seed of Abraham.

In the first place, he calls him a son, בן, ben, and then a child, ילד, ilad, which refers to his birth: but by these two names, God here intimates that they were to him a peculiar people, as he everywhere calls those his sons who were the descendants of Abraham; for circumcision was to them a symbol and pledge of the covenant; and so the time is a circumstance that ought to be noticed, because God does not shew here what the Israelites were before he had chosen them to be his people. But as I have already said, he charges them with ingratitude, since the time they had been adopted by him as his children. He then calls them sons, or children, by way of concession, and with regard to their adoption, as Jerusalem was called the holy city, because it was God’s habitation. There is then a concession as to the name given to them. But he afterwards adds, that this son was not precious, that is, worthy of any honor, and that he was not an object of delight; as though he had said, that he was of a perverse and wicked disposition, so that he could not take any delight in him, as by another simile he complains in Jeremiah 2:21, as we have seen, that the Jews were become bitter to him,

“My vine have I planted thee;
why then art thou turned to me into bitterness?”

So also now he says, that the Israelites were indeed his sons, but that they were evil-disposed sons, disobedient sons, sons who only vexed their father, who wounded his feelings, who filled him with sorrow.

He then adds, For from the time I spake in him, so it is literally. It is commonly agreed that these words are to be read with those which follow. “For from what time I spake;” and thus the relative אשר, asher, is to be understood; but literally it is, “For from the time I spake in him,” בו, bu, or, as some render it, “concerning him;” but it may suitably be rendered “with him.” Then they read, in connection with this, Remembering I will yet remember him

This passage, on account of its brevity, is obscure, and therefore ambiguous; but the common opinion is this, — that though Ephraim was not a child of delight, yet God would be merciful towards him; and thus they take כי ki, in an adversative sense, “notwithstanding,” or yet: “Is Ephraim a precious son? Is he a child of delight? yet remembering I will still remember him;” as though he had said, that he would not be prevented by the people’s wickedness, for he would still pity him according to his infinite goodness, or that his goodness would surpass their wickedness. This sense is plausible; yet it may be doubted whether this be the meaning. Some read the words, “From the time I spake concerning him,” that is, while I now speak of him: but I know not whether this explanation can stand. I am therefore inclined to the opinion of those who refer this to threatenings, even that from the time God had spoken against Israel, he was yet ready to be reconciled to them, according to what is said by the Prophet Habakkuk,

“In wrath wilt thou remember mercy.” (Habakkuk 3:2)

But this ought to be rather understood of the covenant, as though God had said, “From the time I spake with him, I will remember him;” that is, that he might shew the reason why he dealt so mercifully with the people. For as their wickedness and corruption were so great, a doubt might arise, “Can God still patiently endure them?” Here then our attention is called back to the fountain of gratuitous mercy, even that God would forgive his people, because he had once chosen them.

But still when I narrowly weigh everything, I think the meaning of the Prophet to be different. I therefore separate the two clauses, “From the time I spake with him,” and, “Remembering I will yet remember him;” for the sentence is harsh, when we say, “From the time I spake with him,” and then add, “I will yet remember him.” But the exposition, the most suitable in my opinion, is this, “From the time I spake with him,” (for ב means with) that is, I desisted not continually to exhort him to repentance, and yet I effected nothing; notwithstanding I will still remember him; that is, “Though I have found this people very perverse, and though they have long given many proofs of their obstinacy, for I have spoken to them for a long time, nevertheless I will still remember them.” For the people deserved eternal ruin who had been so often warned; but God declares that he would still be propitious to them, though he had spoken to them for a time, that is, a long time; for he had not ceased for a long space of time to exhort that people by his Prophets, but with no success. So then I read the words, “From the time I spake with him,” separately from what follows, and connect them with the former clauses, “Is he a precious son? Is he a child of delight?” For he complains that they had been rebellious and untameable, not only from the time he had only once addressed them and sought to do them good, but for several ages. He therefore declares that the people themselves had no hope, because they had been intractable for a long time. He yet adds, though it was so, Remembering I will still remember him 4040     This verse has been variously explained. The two questions are taken by Calvin and by others as strong negatives: but this is not always the ease; both ה and אם are often taken as strong affirmatives. See Jeremiah 3:6; 1 Samuel 2:27; Ezekiel 20:30; Amos 6:2. This sense is what the context requires; for this verse is an answer to penitent Ephraim. Neither the Sept., nor the Vulg., nor the Syr., nor the Targ. retain the interrogatory form: but they retain the meaning, if the questions be taken affirmatively, not otherwise. The next words I render thus, —
   For since my words are in him,
Remembering I will still remember him.

   This is according to the Sept., and the general drift of the Targ. The Syr. gives another meaning, —

   For at the time when I speak against him,
Remembering I still remember him.

   There are no other versions which come so near to the original. — Ed.

And he enhances the benefit of this reconciliation, and says, Therefore sounded have my bowels for him, 4141     The word for “sounded,” means to tumultuate, to be agitated, to be greatly moved or disturbed. It is rendered by the Vulg., “are troubled — conturbata;” by the Syr. and Targ., “are moved.” It may be rendered “trouble” here. See Isaiah 16:1 l, where the action of the bowels is compared to the harp, not surely to its sound, but to the vibration of its cords. See also Isaiah 63:15, and Cant. v. 4. — Ed. pitying I will pity him Here God ascribes to himself human feelings; for the bowels are moved and make a noise under immoderate grief; and we sigh and groan deeply, when we are pressed down by great sorrow. So also when God expresses the feelings of a tender father, he says that his bowels made a noise, because he wished to receive his people again into favor. This, indeed, does not properly belong to God; but as he could not otherwise express the greatness of his love towards us, he thus speaks in condescension to our capacities. It follows —

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