New International Version
"Return, faithless people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I will choose you--one from a town and two from a clan--and bring you to Zion.
New Living Translation
"Return home, you wayward children," says the LORD, "for I am your master. I will bring you back to the land of Israel--one from this town and two from that family--from wherever you are scattered.
English Standard Version
Return, O faithless children, declares the LORD; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
New American Standard Bible
'Return, O faithless sons,' declares the LORD; 'For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.'
King James Bible
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
"Return, you faithless children"--this is the LORD's declaration--"for I am your master, and I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
International Standard Version
"Return, unfaithful people," declares the LORD, "for I am your husband. I'll take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I'll bring you to Zion.
"Come back to me, my wayward sons," says the LORD, "for I am your true master. If you do, I will take one of you from each town and two of you from each family group, and I will bring you back to Zion.
GOD'S WORD® Translation
"Come back, you rebellious people," declares the LORD. "I'm your husband. I will take you, one from every city and two from every family, and bring you to Zion.
JPS Tanakh 1917
Return, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am a lord unto you, and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion;
New American Standard 1977
‘Return, O faithless sons,’ declares the LORD;
‘For I am a master to you,
And I will take you one from a city and two from a family,
And I will bring you to Zion.’
Parallel CommentariesMatthew Henry's Concise Commentary
3:12-20 See God's readiness to pardon sin, and the blessings reserved for gospel times. These words were proclaimed toward the north; to Israel, the ten tribes, captive in Assyria. They are directed how to return. If we confess our sins, the Lord is faithful and just to forgive them. These promises are fully to come to pass in the bringing back the Jews in after-ages. God will graciously receive those that return to him; and by his grace, he takes them out from among the rest. The ark of the covenant was not found after the captivity. The whole of that dispensation was to be done away, which took place after the multitude of believers had been greatly increased by the conversion of the Gentiles, and of the Israelites scattered among them. A happy state of the church is foretold. He can teach all to call him Father; but without thorough change of heart and life, no man can be a child of God, and we have no security for not departing from Him.
Verse 14. - Turn, O backsliding children. There is a play upon words, or rather upon senses, in the original, "Turn, ye turned away ones" (comp. ver. 12). To whom is this addressed? To the Israelites in the narrower sense, for there is nothing to indicate a transition. Long as they have been removed from the paternal hearth, they are still "sons." For I am married unto you. The same Hebrew phrase occurs in Jeremiah 31:32. Its signification has been a subject of dispute. From the supposed necessities of exegesis in Jeremiah 31:32, some (e.g. Pococke and Gesenins) have translated, "for I have rejected you," but the connection requires not "for" but "though," which, however, is an inadmissible rendering; besides, the Hebrew verb in question nowhere has the sense of "reject" elsewhere (yet the Septuagint already has it, virtually at least, in Jeremiah 31:32, q.v.). The literal meaning is for I have been a lord over you, i.e. a husband. Israel is despondent, and fears to return. Jehovah repeats his invitation, assuring Israel that he does not regard the marriage bond as broken. He is still (in spite of ver. 8) the husband, and Israel the bride (comp. Hosea 2; Isaiah 1:1; Isaiah 54:6, etc.). One of a city, and two of a family. The promises of God are primarily to communities, but this does not prevent him from devoting the most special care to individuals. "One of a city, and two of a family," even though there should be but one faithful Lot in a city, and two such in a family (larger than a city, a single tribe containing only a few mishpa-khoth, or clans), yet I will admit these few to the promised blessings." Calvin's remark is worth noticing: "Hie locus dignus est observatu, quia ostendit Deus non esse, cur alii alios expectent; deinde etiam si corpus ipsum populi putreseat in suis peccatis, tamen si pauci ad ipsum redeant, se illis etiam fore placabilem." The historical facts to which the prophecy corresponds are variously regarded. Theodoret, Grotius, etc., suppose it to have been fulfilled exclusively in the return from Babylon; St. Jerome and others think rather of the Messianic period. Hengstenberg finds a continuous fulfillment, beginning at the time of Cyrus, when many belonging to the ten tribes joined themselves to the returning Judahites. He finds a further continuation in the times of the Maccabees, and in fact a continually growing fulfillment in preparation for that complete one brought in by Christ, when the premised blessings were poured out upon the whole δωδεκάφυλον (Luke 2:36). "Zion and the holy land were at that time the seat of the kingdom of God, so that the return to the latter was inseparable from the return to the former." Dr. Guthe, however, the latest critical commentator on Jeremiah, thinks that the passage can be explained otherwise, viz." from each city one by one, and from each family two by two." This gives a more obvious explanation; but the ordinary rendering is more natural, and the explanation based upon it is in the highest degree worthy of the Divine subject. The doubt, of course, is whether in the Old Testament a special providence is extended elsewhere so distinctly to the individual. But Jeremiah is pre-eminently an individualizing prophet; he feels the depth and reality of individual as opposed to corporate life as no one else among the prophets. (At any rate, one point is clear, that the prophet foresees that the number of the exiles who return will be but small compared with the increase to be divinely vouchsafed to them; see ver. 16.)
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord,.... All of them were children by national adoption, and some by special grace, and yet "backsliders", O monstrous ingratitude! "backsliders", and yet "children", still the relation continues, O marvellous grace! God's own children may backslide, and often do; either in heart, when love waxes cold, faith declines, zeal wanting; when they get into a carnal sleepy frame of spirit, and have not that quick sense of sin, and of duty, as heretofore: or in practice, when private prayer is restrained; public worship is neglected; get into bad company, and fall into gross sins; all which is owing to the prevalence of indwelling sin, the force of Satan's temptations, and the enticing snares of the world; but God will not leave them, he calls unto them again and again to turn unto him by repentance, and to doing their first works; which calls, at length, through powerful grace, become effectual; see Jeremiah 3:22 and the arguments used to engage to it follow,
for I am married unto you; in a civil sense as a nation, Jeremiah 31:32, and in a spiritual sense to a remnant of them; Christ is the bridegroom, the church is the bride, which he has secretly betrothed to himself in eternity; openly in time, at the conversion of everyone of them; and will more publicly at the last day, when all are gathered in and prepared for him. This relation, as it is a very near one, so it is very astonishing, considering the disparity between the two parties, and it always continues; love, the bond of it, never alters; the covenant, in which this transaction is carried on, is ever sure; and Christ always behaves agreeably to it; wherefore it is base ingratitude to backslide; and reason there is sufficient why his backsliding spouse should return to him. The Septuagint version is, "because I will rule over you." agreeable to which is Jarchi's note,
"because I am your Lord, and it is not for my glory, (or honour) to leave you in the hand of enemies.''
Kimchi's father interprets the word used by "I loath you", or I am weary of you; the reverse of which is the Targum,
"for I am well pleased with you;''
and so the Syriac version, "I delight in you"; which carries in it a much more engaging argument to return, and agrees with what follows:
and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family: or tribe, or country; for sometimes a whole country is called a family, as in Jeremiah 1:15 and here it must design more than a city; for otherwise there are many families in a city; the meaning is, according to Kimchi, that though there may be but one Jew in a city of the Gentiles, or two only in a nation, the Lord would take them from thence; and, according to others, that though one or two, or a few, here and there one of the backsliders, should return to him by true repentance, he would receive them graciously; the smallness of their number would be no objection to him; which is a sense not to be despised: but the phrase seems to denote the distinguishing grace of God to his people; which appears in the choice of them in his Son; the redemption of them by him; and the sanctification of them by his Spirit; and very few are the objects of his grace, as it were one of a city, and two of a tribe; however, they shall none of them be lost, notwithstanding their backslidings, to which they are bent: for it is added,
and I will bring you to Zion; to the church of God here, a Gospel church state, whither to come is the great privilege of the saints, Hebrews 12:22 and to the Zion above, the heavenly state, where all the chosen and ransomed, and sanctified ones, shall come, with songs, and everlasting joy upon their heads, Isaiah 35:10 and all as the fruit of distinguishing and efficacious grace.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
14. I am married—literally, "I am Lord," that is, husband to you (so Jer 31:32; compare Ho 2:19, 20; Isa 54:5). Gesenius, following the Septuagint version of Jer 31:32, and Paul's quotation of it (Heb 8:9), translates, "I have rejected you"; so the corresponding Arabic, and the idea of lordship, may pass into that of looking down upon, and so rejecting. But the Septuagint in this passage translates, "I will be Lord over you." And the "for" has much more force in English Version than in that of Gesenius. The Hebrew hardly admits the rendering though [Hengstenberg].
take you one of a city—Though but one or two Israelites were in a (foreign) city, they shall not be forgotten; all shall be restored (Am 9:9). So, in the spiritual Israel, God gathers one convert here, another there, into His Church; not the least one is lost (Mt 18:14; Ro 11:5; compare Jer 24:5-7).
family—a clan or tribe.
Jeremiah 3:14 Additional Commentaries
Invitation to Repentance
…13'Only acknowledge your iniquity, That you have transgressed against the LORD your God And have scattered your favors to the strangers under every green tree, And you have not obeyed My voice,' declares the LORD. 14'Return, O faithless sons,' declares the LORD; 'For I am a master to you, And I will take you one from a city and two from a family, And I will bring you to Zion.' 15"Then I will give you shepherds after My own heart, who will feed you on knowledge and understanding.…
Return, you Israelites, to the One you have so greatly revolted against.
For your Maker is your husband-- the LORD Almighty is his name-- the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth.
I was enraged by their sinful greed; I punished them, and hid my face in anger, yet they kept on in their willful ways.
Go, proclaim this message toward the north: "'Return, faithless Israel,' declares the LORD, 'I will frown on you no longer, for I am faithful,' declares the LORD, 'I will not be angry forever.
I will be found by you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you," declares the LORD, "and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile."
There will be a day when watchmen cry out on the hills of Ephraim, 'Come, let us go up to Zion, to the LORD our God.'"
They will come and shout for joy on the heights of Zion; they will rejoice in the bounty of the LORD-- the grain, the new wine and the olive oil, the young of the flocks and herds. They will be like a well-watered garden, and they will sorrow no more.
It will not be like the covenant I made with their ancestors when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the LORD.
I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.
Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face-- in their misery they will earnestly seek me."
Treasury of Scripture
Turn, O backsliding children, said the LORD; for I am married to you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:
for I am married
one of a city
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Alphabetical: a am and bring choose city clan declares faithless family for from husband I LORD master O one people Return sons take the to town two will you your Zion Zion'
OT Prophets: Jeremiah 3:14 Return backsliding children says Yahweh (Jer.) Christian Bible Study Resources, Dictionary, Concordance and Search Tools