At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people.
At the same time - literally, At that time, i. e., "the latter day." mentioned in Jeremiah 30:24.
Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest.
The people which were left of the sword - A promise of the restoration of the ten tribes to their land.
The wilderness - Either the desert which lay between Assyria and Palestine; or more probably an allusion to the wilderness of Mount Sinai.
Found grace ... rest - Rather, "shall certainly find grace; I will go to give Israel rest.
The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.
Of old - From afar (margin). See Jeremiah 30:10. To the Jew God was enthroned in Zion, and thus when His mercy was shown unto the exiles in Assyria it came from a distant region 2 Chronicles 6:20, 2 Chronicles 6:38.
With lovingkindness ... - Rather, I have continued lovingkindness unto thee.
Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry.
O virgin of Israel - i. e., the whole people (compare Jeremiah 14:17 note).
Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things.
Shall eat them as common things - Rather, shall eat the fruit. Literally, as in the margin. For three years the fruit of a newly-planted tree was not to be touched, that of the fourth year was consecrated to God, but on the fifth year it was profane, i. e., unconsecrated, and so might be applied to the owner's use Leviticus 19:23-25.
For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God.
This verse anticipates a time when the schism caused by Jeroboam is over. Ephraimite watchmen equally with the tribe of Judah watch for the new moon that they may go up to Jerusalem to keep the appointed Feasts.
For thus saith the LORD; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel.
Among - Or, because of. Israel is the chief or, first of the nations Deuteronomy 26:19, and Yahweh summons mankind to rejoice, because the remnant of Israel is about to be restored to its old position.
Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither.
The coasts of the earth - See Jeremiah 6:22 note.
Thither - Really, here. Not to the north country, but to Palestine, where Jeremiah wrote. A company is the word constantly used of Israel at the Exodus Exo 16:3 as an organized community.
They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn.
Weeping - For joy, not for sorrow.
Supplications - The conviction that God is guiding them, encourages them to pray.
Ephraim is My firstborn - The house of Joseph is thus to be restored to its old preeminence.
Hear the word of the LORD, O ye nations, and declare it in the isles afar off, and say, He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd doth his flock.
The isles - The coast land of the Mediterranean, used here to show that the most distant countries are to hear and marvel at Israel's wonderful restoration.
For the LORD hath redeemed Jacob, and ransomed him from the hand of him that was stronger than he.
Therefore they shall come and sing in the height of Zion, and shall flow together to the goodness of the LORD, for wheat, and for wine, and for oil, and for the young of the flock and of the herd: and their soul shall be as a watered garden; and they shall not sorrow any more at all.
Omit together. The ten tribes are to flow like a river down from Zion's height to their own land, there to reap the rich produce of their tillage. In Jerusalem they would be occupied with religious duties, but after these are rendered to God, they are to disperse each to his own fields.
Sorrow - Rather, languish, pine.
Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together: for I will turn their mourning into joy, and will comfort them, and make them rejoice from their sorrow.
Both gives the idea of the men dancing, which is incorrect. Except at a religious solemnity 2 Samuel 6:14, dancing was confined to women. Render and young men and old rejoice together.
And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fatness, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith the LORD.
Thus saith the LORD; A voice was heard in Ramah, lamentation, and bitter weeping; Rahel weeping for her children refused to be comforted for her children, because they were not.
The religious character of the restoration of the ten tribes. Chastisement brought repentance, and with it forgiveness; therefore God decrees their restoration.
Ramah, mentioned because of its nearness to Jerusalem, from which it was distant about five miles. As the mother of three tribes, Benjamin, Ephraim, and Manasseh, Rachel is regarded as the mother of the whole ten. This passage is quoted by Matthew (marginal reference) as a type. In Jeremiah it is a poetical figure representing in a dramatic form the miserable condition of the kingdom of Ephraim devastated by the sword of the Assyrians.
Thus saith the LORD; Refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears: for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
Rachel's work had been that of bearing and bringing up children, and by their death she was deprived of the joy for which she had labored: but by their being restored to her she will receive her wages.
And there is hope in thine end, saith the LORD, that thy children shall come again to their own border.
In thine end - i. e., for thy time to come (see the Jeremiah 29:11 note).
I have surely heard Ephraim bemoaning himself thus; Thou hast chastised me, and I was chastised, as a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke: turn thou me, and I shall be turned; for thou art the LORD my God.
As a bullock unaccustomed to the yoke - literally, like an untaught calf. Compare the Hosea 10:11 note. Ephraim, like an untrained steer, had resisted Yahweh's will.
Surely after that I was turned, I repented; and after that I was instructed, I smote upon my thigh: I was ashamed, yea, even confounded, because I did bear the reproach of my youth.
After that I was turned - i. e., after I had turned away from Thee. In Jeremiah 31:18 it has the sense of turning to God.
Instructed - Brought to my senses by suffering. The smiting upon the thigh is a sign of sorrow. Compare Ezekiel 21:17.
The reproach of my youth - i. e., the shame brought upon me by sins of my youth.
Is Ephraim my dear son? is he a pleasant child? for since I spake against him, I do earnestly remember him still: therefore my bowels are troubled for him; I will surely have mercy upon him, saith the LORD.
Moved to compassion by Ephraim's lamentation, Yahweh shows Himself as tender and ready to forgive as parents are their spoiled (rather, darling) child.
For ... him - Or, "that so often as I speak concerning him," i. e., his punishment.
My bowels are troubled - The metaphor expresses the most tender internal emotion.
Set thee up waymarks, make thee high heaps: set thine heart toward the highway, even the way which thou wentest: turn again, O virgin of Israel, turn again to these thy cities.
Waymarks - See 2 Kings 23:17 note.
High heaps - Or, signposts, pillars to point out the way.
Set thine heart - Not set thy affection, but turn thy thoughts and attention (in Hebrew the heart is the seat of the intellect) to the highway, even the way by which thou wentest.
How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the LORD hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass a man.
Israel instead of setting itself to return hesitates, and goes here and there in a restless mood. To encourage it God gives the sign following.
A woman shall compass a man - i. e., the female shall protect the strong man; the weaker nature that needs help will surround the stronger with loving and fostering care. This expresses a new relation of Israel to the Lord, a new covenant, which the Lord will make with His people (Jeremiah 31:31 following). The fathers saw in these words a prophecy of the miraculous conception of our Lord by the Virgin.
Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; As yet they shall use this speech in the land of Judah and in the cities thereof, when I shall bring again their captivity; The LORD bless thee, O habitation of justice, and mountain of holiness.
As yet - Or, Again, once move. The prophet now turns to Judah. By the mountain of holiness is meant not the temple only, but all Jerusalem, of which the temple was the most sacred spot, and that by which all the rest was made holy.
And there shall dwell in Judah itself, and in all the cities thereof together, husbandmen, and they that go forth with flocks.
Go forth - "Go about." Judah shall have its settled population and fixed abodes; and shepherds shall move about with their flocks, wherever pasture is to be found.
For I have satiated the weary soul, and I have replenished every sorrowful soul.
Sorrowful - Or, languishing Jeremiah 31:12.
Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.
The prophet, seeming to himself to awake and look up in the midst of his sleep (whether ecstatic or not we cannot tell), rejoiced in a revelation so entirely consolatory, and unlike his usual message of woe.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will sow the house of Israel and the house of Judah with the seed of man, and with the seed of beast.
The prophet shows that the happiness of Israel and Judah, united in one prosperous nation, will rest upon the consciousness that their chastisement has been the result of sins which they have themselves committed, and that God's covenant depends not upon external sanctions, but upon a renewed heart.
So rapid shall be the increase that it shall seem as if children and young cattle sprang up out of the ground.
And it shall come to pass, that like as I have watched over them, to pluck up, and to break down, and to throw down, and to destroy, and to afflict; so will I watch over them, to build, and to plant, saith the LORD.
In those days they shall say no more, The fathers have eaten a sour grape, and the children's teeth are set on edge.
A sour grape - Better, sour grapes. The idea that Jeremiah and Ezekiel (marginal reference) modified the terms of the second Commandment arises from a mistaken exegesis of their words. Compare Jeremiah 32:18; Deuteronomy 24:16. The obdurate Jews made it a reproach to the divine justice that the nation was to be sorely visited for Manasseh's sin. But this was only because generation after generation had, instead of repenting, repeated the sins of that evil time, and even in a worse form. justice must at length have its course. The acknowledgment that each man died for his own iniquity was a sign of their return to a more just and right state of feeling.
But every one shall die for his own iniquity: every man that eateth the sour grape, his teeth shall be set on edge.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel, and with the house of Judah:
A time is foretold which shall be to the nation as marked an epoch as was the Exodus. God at Sinai made a covenant with His people, of which the sanctions were material, or (where spiritual) materially understood. Necessarily therefore the Mosaic Church was temporary, but the sanctions of Jeremiah's Church are spiritual - written in the heart - and therefore it must take the place of the former covenant Hebrews 8:13, and must last forever. The prophecy was fulfilled when those Jews who accepted Jesus of Nazareth as the Messiah, expanded the Jewish into the Christian Church.
Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt; which my covenant they brake, although I was an husband unto them, saith the LORD:
Although ... - i. e., although as their husband (or, "lord" (Baal, compare Hosea 2:16)) I had lawful authority over them. The translation in Hebrews 8:9 agrees with the Septuagint here, but the balance of authority is in favor of the King James Version.
But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.
The old law could be broken Jeremiah 31:32; to remedy this God gives, not a new law, but a new power to the old law. It used to be a mere code of morals, external to man, and obeyed as a duty. In Christianity, it becomes an inner force, shaping man's character from within.
And they shall teach no more every man his neighbour, and every man his brother, saying, Know the LORD: for they shall all know me, from the least of them unto the greatest of them, saith the LORD: for I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.
I will forgive their iniquity - The foundation of the new covenant is the free forgiveness of sins (compare Matthew 1:21). It is the sense of this full unmerited love which so affects the heart as to make obedience henceforward an inner necessity.
Thus saith the LORD, which giveth the sun for a light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and of the stars for a light by night, which divideth the sea when the waves thereof roar; The LORD of hosts is his name:
Divideth ... - Rather, stirreth up the sea so that its waves roar.
If those ordinances depart from before me, saith the LORD, then the seed of Israel also shall cease from being a nation before me for ever.
If those - If these. From the uniformity of God's operations in the material world, the prophet deduces the certainty of a similar uniformity in God's dealings with man in things spiritual.
A nation - A people. Israel has long ceased to be a nation, but it still exists as a numerous, influential, and distinct people. In Matthew 28:19-20 Jeremiah's prophecy receives its Christian application, and Israel becomes the Church, with the promise of perpetual existence. It has no national existence, but its members ought to be a strongly marked people, refusing to be merged in the world, while everywhere they pervade and influence it.
Thus saith the LORD; If heaven above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth searched out beneath, I will also cast off all the seed of Israel for all that they have done, saith the LORD.
All the seed - Unworthy members of Israel may be cast away, but the race shall never entirely cease to exist.
Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.
To the Lord - Or, for Yahweh: for His dwelling in the hearts of a people prepared to be His temple.
And the measuring line shall yet go forth over against it upon the hill Gareb, and shall compass about to Goath.
Over ... Gareb - Or, straight along the hill Gareb. Probably the hill of lepers, outside the old walls, toward the southwest.
Goath - Goah. Unknown.
And the whole valley of the dead bodies, and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the brook of Kidron, unto the corner of the horse gate toward the east, shall be holy unto the LORD; it shall not be plucked up, nor thrown down any more for ever.
The whole valley of the dead bodies - Probably some part of the Valley of Ben-Hinnom. Comparing Zechariah 2:4, the conclusion seems evident that Jeremiah's words are to be spiritually understood. His city is one that renders holy unto Yahweh what was before unclean. Compare John's new Jerusalem Revelation 21:27.