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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.


He then adds, And the whole valley Some read, “the whole valley shall be holiness to Jehovah:” and it may be suitably taken, that all the places near to the city were to be holy to God; but this verse may be connected with the preceding, as though he said, extended shall be the line to the whole valley of the carcases and of the ashes The word דשן, dashin, means ashes and fatness; but here it is to be taken for ashes; and it is thought that the place was so called, where they were wont to throw the ashes gathered from the altar, after the sacrifices were burnt: as then there was there a great heap of ashes, the place had this name given to it. Another place was also called the place of carcases, because there a host of enemies had been slain by an angel, in the reign of Hezekiah. As then a great and a memorable slaughter had taken place there, it is thought that it received this name, in order that God’s favor might remain known to posterity. If then this name became the monument of God’s favor, Hezekiah, I have no doubt, was the cause of it.

It is then added, and all the regions to the brook Kidron It is probable enough that the places here named were outside of the city, for we know that the brook Kidron was not within the city. Then he adds, to the corner of the gate of the horses It is thought that through this gate went forth the chariots of the king when he wished to exercise his horses. It might have been the market-place for horses. Conjectures only have place here; for no one knows of a certainty whether the king had a place of exercise for his horses. But this gate looked towards the east. He says that all the places would be holiness to Jehovah; and then he promises them a quiet and a perpetual condition, It shall not be cut off nor destroyed any more for ever; for which it is said by Zechariah, “there shall be no more חרם cherim, destruction.” 5757     The whole of this passage is differently rendered in the early versions and the Targum; some of them evidently wrong and some doubtful. Blayney gives the most literal and most consistent version. I give the following, —
   38. Behold the days are coming, saith Jehovah, That built shall the city be for (or to) Jehovah, From the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner:

   39. Yea, go forth again shall the measuring line From over against it, over the hill of Oareb, And shall surround Goath

   40. And all the valley of the carcases and ashes, And all the fields to the river Kidron, To the corner of the gate of the horses eastward: Holy to Jehovah, it shall not be rooted up, Nor demolished any more for ever.

   The 38th verse (Jeremiah 31:38) contains a general description; this is particularized in the following verses. The beginning of measuring was to be at “the tower of Hananeel;” hence “from over against it,” or before it: the “gate” being feminine cannot be meant; it is then “the tower.” As to the word for “fields,” the reading of the Keri and of several MSS., countenanced by the Vulg., ought no doubt to be adopted. “Eastward,” — thus the line came round to the same point where it began; for the tower of Hananeel was eastward. But what is referred to in the two last lines? The verbs are in the masculine gender, and “city” is feminine; and there is nothing in the passage with which they can agree except the tower of Hananeel. Then this tower seems to stand here for the rebuilt city; and then rooting up, i.e., undermining the foundations, and demolishing, are suitably applied to a tower. — Ed.

We now see the design of the Prophet: after having spoken of the return of the people, he adds that the city would again become splendid and large, as it had been; for the land continued in a state of disorder until the restoration of the city, as God had there chosen a habitation for himself. And as the Temple had been built there, it behoved the Israelites, wherever they dwelt, ever to direct their eyes to the Temple and the sanctuary of God, that they might live under his protection. Except, then, the city had been built again, the goodness of God could not have been really enjoyed; for a sort of desolation would have otherwise ever presented itself to the eyes of the people, as the city was as it were the banner under which God protected them. This then is the reason why the Prophet expressly announced this prophecy respecting the future restoration of the city.

Now, when he says that the city would be built to Jehovah, he intimates what was especially expected by the Jews, that that city would again be holy; for if it only flourished in wealth and power like other cities, it would have been but a small comfort to the Israelites. But he points out here a difference between Jerusalem and all heathen cities; for God was, as it were, the architect of that city, as it is said in the Psalms,

“He himself founded it,” (Psalm 87:5)

and further,

“His foundations are on the holy mountains,”

and this ought to be understood of himself. (Psalm 87:1) The meaning is, that God would again care for that city, as the Temple would become as it were his royal throne and earthly sanctuary. At the same time when the Prophet affirms that the extent of the city would not be less than it had been, we see that this prophecy must necessarily be referred to the kingdom of Christ: for though Jerusalem before Christ’s coming was eminent and surrounded by a triple wall, and though it was celebrated through all the East, as even heathen writers say that it excelled every other city, yet it was never accomplished, that the city flourished as under David and Solomon. 5858     Some think, such as Gataker and Blayney, that according to the description here given, the dimensions of the city are much larger than what they had ever been before. The “line” was to inclose a part at least of the hill of Gareb, the whole of Goath, supposed to be Golgotha, the valley of the carcases, and the fields of Kidron, all which were formerly without the walls of the city. — Ed. We must then necessarily come to the spiritual state of the city, and explain the promise as the grace which came through Christ.

But we must especially notice what is said, that it would be holiness to Jehovah, and also that no ruin or destruction would be dreaded any more. Had the condition of the elect people been the same as that of other nations, the promise of restoration would have been small and of no great moment; for it would have been better for them to dwell in exile where they inhabited a pleasant and fertile country. But the Prophet here commends a privilege with which God had favored the children of Abraham above all other nations, when he adopted them as his peculiar people. There is however to be understood an implied contrast between the profanation which then prevailed, and the sanctification which is here promised. The Jews had so polluted the land that it differed nothing from other countries; and God, as Ezekiel says, had thence migrated, (Ezekiel 8:6) and we know that the Temple was called by the prophets the den of robbers, (Jeremiah 7:11) and that the city was also compared to Sodom and Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:10) Hence the Prophet here promises that the city, with its whole vicinity, would be holy to God, because God would cleanse it from all the defilements by which it had been polluted: and he also claims this as his own work, for to sanctify is a work peculiar to himself.

The promise of perpetual favor is added, as it is also done by Zechariah; for it would not be sufficient to have God’s mercy promised to us for a short time, except its perpetuity were secured. The Prophet then promises now that the course of God’s benefits would be permanent;. The city indeed was again destroyed by Titus, and at length wholly demolished by Adrian; but this fact does not militate against this promise; for as we have said, God gave some taste of his favor in the external aspect of the city until Christ came; but after Christ was manifested, the heavenly Jerusalem became the object to be sought, for all the types and shadows then ceased. The perpetuity then of which the Prophet speaks, is that which corresponds with the character of Christ’s kingdom, and is therefore spiritual. Moreover, this passage teaches us that the Church will be perpetual, and that though God may permit it to be terribly shaken and tossed here and there, there will yet be ever some seed remaining, as long as the sun and the moon shall shine in the heavens, and the order of nature shall continue; so that all the elements, everything we see with our eyes, bear evidence to the perpetuity of the Church, even that it will ever continue: for though Satan and all the world daily threaten its ruin, yet the Lord will in a wonderful manner preserve it to the end, so that it will never perish. This is the import of the passage. Another prophecy follows.

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