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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.


As the Prophet had promised a return to the people, he now reproves especially the Israelites, who looked here and there, and never could acquiesce in the word of God alone: for it is a common thing with almost all the unbelieving, that they torment themselves, and, as it were, designedly contrive for themselves many inquietudes. Since then the Israelites were looking forward to what might happen, and could not entertain any hope as to their return, except when some appearance of hope was presented to them, the Prophet now on this account reproves them.

He first calls the people disobedient or rebellions, for they had often been terrified by threatenings, and God had also offered them the hope of pardon. As they had been perverse whenever God spared them, and as they had also rejected all his promises, the Prophet does not without reason call them disobedient or rebellious. And by circuits or wanderings, he means those vain speculations with which the unbelieving are wont to weary themselves; for the word means properly to go around. We may indeed take it in the sense of wandering, and it is the same thing: but as I have said, the Prophet most fitly gives the name of circuits to those crooked and tortuous speculations in which the unbelieving indulged. And there seems to be understood a contrast between the straight way set before theIn by God, and those circuitous courses in which miserable men entangle themselves, when they do not follow God, but are led astray by their own vain devices. Isaiah also makes use of the same similitude, for he says, that the people were carried away by their own inventions, so that they fruitlessly wearied themselves, because they did not proceed in the straight way. (Isaiah 57:10) 4343     The verb, rendered “going about,” only occurs here in Hithpael, and once in Kal, Cant. v. 6; where it means to “withdraw,” or recede, or turn aside. And this sense of withdrawing is what is given to it here both by the Sept., the Targ., and the Syr.; but it is the withdrawing from accepting the return offered. We may give this version, —
   How long wilt thou decline, (i.e., to return,) O daughter of the restoration?

   She had been before exhorted to return in the previous verse: she is now blamed for her unwillingness, which seems to have arisen from fear, and a sense of weakness. Then comes in most appropriately what follows, if interpreted according to the explanation of Calvin. The verb שב, the root of, השובבה, means more frequently to turn to, to return, than to turn away, to apostatize. — Ed

We may hence deduce a useful doctrine, — that we are always within the boundary of safety, when we obey God and walk in the way set before us in his word; but that as soon as we turn aside from the right way, we are only drawn here and there through windings and strayings, so that our labor is at last useless and even ruinous.

We now then understand the meaning of the Prophet: as the unbelief of the people was, as it were, a sealed door, so that they did not receive God’s promises as to their liberation and return, his purpose here was to correct this evil, and to reprove the Israelites for wandering and being disobedient.

He afterwards adds, For behold Jehovah will create — literally, has created; but the past tense is here to be taken for the future; and it serves to shew the certainty of a thing when he uses the past tense, as though he was speaking of a thing already done: Jehovah then has created a new thing He intimates that the Israelites acted foolishly in estimating the promise of deliverance according to their own judgment of things, and the state of things as it appeared to them; for he says that the favor promised them would be wonderful, for this is what he means by a new thing, as though he had said, “Ye indeed judge, according to your usual manner, of what God promises to you, as to your return, but it will be a miracle; act not then perversely, by regarding the favor of God as the common order of nature, for God will surpass everything that is usual among men.”

It ought also to be observed, that what Jeremiah said of the redemption of the people is to be extended to the eternal salvation of the Church; for God in a wonderful manner raises the dead, defends and preserves his Church, and succors her in her troubles. Whenever then the Scripture speaks of the state of the Church, we ought to ascend above the world, and above our own conceptions, and to realize the miracle which is hid from us.

Now follows the miracle, A woman shall surround a ‘man Christians, almost with one consent, explain this of the virgin Mary; and the “new thing,” leads them to this opinion, and probably, also, they were anxious to lay hold on whatever might seem to refer to the mystery of our salvation. They, therefore, say that the new thing of which the Prophet speaks is the virgin carrying the infant Christ in her womb, and that he is called man, because he was full of divine power, though he increased according to the flesh in stature, wisdom, and strength. All this is deservedly laughed at by the Jews; yet they themselves, as I think, do not rightly understand the meaning of the Prophet. They apply it to the people of Israel, because they were like a woman divorced from her husband. They then say, “A woman shall embrace a man after having been alienated from him, and prostituted herself to many adulterers.” The Jews seem to think that they give the meaning of the Prophet; but I think otherwise, for there is here a comparison made between a woman and a man, which they do not consider. For the Prophet does not speak here simply of a man, but of a strong man; for the word גבר geber, means a man who is brave or courageous. When, therefore, he compares a woman to a man, I doubt not but the Prophet means that the Israelites, who were like women, without strength, were destitute of any means of help; but then he says, that they would be superior in strength to their enemies, whose power filled the whole world with terror. We, indeed, know what sort of monarchy Babylon was when the Jews were led into exile. If then we consider what the Jews at that time were, we must say that they were like weak women, while their enemies were strong and warlike: A woman then shall surround a man 4444     Whatever may be the meaning of this clause, it cannot certainly be applied to the miraculous conception of our Saviour, and for this plain reason, as Blayney observes, that the only thing the passage announces, if viewed in this light, is this, — that a woman shall conceive a male child, which is nothing new, but a common event; for the word here for “woman,” is not what signifies a virgin, but what designates only the sex; it means properly a female as distinguished from a male. Henry, as well as Blayney and Adam Clarke, agree materially with Calvin, as to the meaning of this sentence. — Ed.

The word סבב, sebab, means not to embrace, but oftentimes to besiege; and it is taken in many places of Scripture in a bad sense, “Enemies have surrounded me.” When, therefore, a siege is mentioned, the Scripture uses this word. It is then the same as though the Prophet had said, “Women shall bring men into such straits that they shall hold them captive.” 4545     The principal objection to this interpretation has been, that it was not by overcoming their enemies by force of arms that the Jews returned. The answer to this is, that this is a sort of proverbial expression, intimating that the weakest would prevail over the strongest. Besides, though the Jews returned by virtue of the edict of the king of Persia, yet they had many and strong enemies to oppose them. — Ed. But he uses the singular number, as though he had said, “One woman shall be superior to many men, or each Jew shall exceed in valor a Chaldean; so the Jews shall gain the upper hand, though the strength of their enemies be great and terrible.” This is what I regard as the meaning of the Prophet; and justly does he set forth this as a wonderful thing, for it, was a sort of revolution in the world when God thus raised up his servants, so that they who had enslaved them should become far unequal to them. It follows, —

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