Jeremiah 31:13
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.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
31:10-17 He that scattered Israel, knows where to find them. It is comfortable to observe the goodness of the Lord in the gifts of providence. But our souls are never valuable as gardens, unless watered with the dews of God's Spirit and grace. A precious promise follows, which will not have full accomplishment except in the heavenly Zion. Let them be satisfied of God's loving-kindness, and they will be satisfied with it, and desire no more to make them happy. Rachel is represented as rising from her grave, and refusing to be comforted, supposing her offspring rooted out. The murder of the children at Bethlehem, by Herod, Mt 2:16-18, in some degree fulfilled this prediction, but could not be its full meaning. If we have hope in the end, concerning an eternal inheritance, for ourselves and those belonging to us, all temporal afflictions may be borne, and will be for our good.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. 13. young … old—(Zec 8:4, 5). This verse containeth only a further variety of expressions, all signifying the same thing, viz. their happy state for some time after the captivity. We may understand the dancings here of all sorts of people, either of their religious rejoicing in their holy festivals, (for under the Old Testament in their religious rejoicing they used these external expressions of joy, as appears from Psalm 150:4, and from David’s dancing before the ark,) or of their civil joy, where dancing was more usual: the last words of the verse expound all the former. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, both young men and old together,.... Not any particular virgin, but all virgins, as Kimchi interprets it. The Targum is,

"then shall the congregation of Israel rejoice as in dances;''

it may very well be understood of the church of Christ, espoused to him as a chaste virgin, and of her spiritual joy in him, in allusion to the joy expressed by such persons in dancing, both upon civil and religious accounts; and it denotes that the joy should be very general and extensive, that persons of every age and sex should partake of it; see Zechariah 9:17;

for I will turn their mourning into joy: their mourning for sin, and for want of the divine presence, into joy, on account of the goodness of the Lord to them, and the large provisions made for them; though they come weeping to Zion, yet, when come thither, sing in the height of it, Jeremiah 31:9; their fasts, as elsewhere, are turned into festivals; sometimes the joy of the saints is suddenly turned into grief, and again their sorrow turned into joy; see Psalm 30:5;

and will comfort them; with the discoveries of love, with the divine Presence, and views of pardoning grace:

and make them rejoice from their sorrow; cause their sorrow to break off through joy: or, "after their sorrow" (p); that being ended, joy shall succeed.

(p) "post moerorem suum", Cataker.

Then shall the virgin rejoice in the {r} 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.

(r) In the company of the faithful, who ever praise God for his benefits.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
13. the young men and the old, etc.] For “together” it is best (pointing the MT. differently) to read with LXX “shall rejoice.”Verse 13. - Young and old, men and women, shall give themselves up to joy and merriment, the centre of the mirth being the maidens with the timbrels (ver. 4). Both young men and old together; rather, and young men and old (shall rejoice) together. The restoration of Israel. - Jeremiah 31:7. "For thus saith Jahveh: Shout for joy over Jacob, and cry out over the head of the nations! Make known, praise, and say, I Jahveh, save Thy people, the remnant of Israel! Jeremiah 31:8. Behold, I will bring them out of the land of the north, and will gather them from the sides of the earth. Among them are the blind and lame, the woman with child and she that hath born, together; a great company shall they return hither. Jeremiah 31:9. With weeping shall they come, and with supplications will I lead them: I will bring them to streams of water, by a straight way in which they shall not stumble; for I have become a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my first-born. Jeremiah 31:10. Hear the word of Jahveh, ye nations, and declare among the islands far off, and say: He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him, as a shepherd his flock. Jeremiah 31:11. For Jahveh hath redeemed Israel and ransomed him out of the hand of one stronger than he. Jer 31:12. And they shall come and sing with joy on the height of Zion, and come like a flood to the goodness of Jahveh, because of corn, and new wine, and fresh oil, and the young of the flock and the herd; and their soul shall be like a well-watered garden, neither shall they pine away any more. Jeremiah 31:13. Then shall the virgin rejoice in the dance, and young men and old men together; and I will turn their mourning to joy, and will comfort them, and will cause them to rejoice after their sorrow. Jeremiah 31:14. And I will satiate the soul of the priests with fat, and my people shall be satisfied with my goodness, saith Jahveh."

In order to set forth the greatness of the salvation which the Lord will prepare for Israel, so long outcast, Israel is commanded to make loud jubilation, and exhorted to approach the Lord with entreaties for the fulfilment of His purpose of grace. The statement regarding this salvation is introduced by כּי, "for," since the description, given in this strophe, of Israel's being led back and re-established, furnishes the actual proof that the nation shall be built up again. The summons to rejoice comes from Jahveh (since, by His gracious dealings, He gives the people material for praise), and is addressed to the members of the nation. These are to rejoice over Jacob, i.e., over the glorious destiny before the people. צהלו is translated by Hitzig: "shout at the head of the nations," i.e., making a beginning among them all; but this is incorrect and against the context. The thought that many other enslaved nations besides Israel will rejoice over the fall of their oppressors, has not the least foundation in this passage. The summons to the nations, which follows in Jeremiah 31:19, is simply a command to make known God's purpose regarding the deliverance of Israel. Of course, בּראשׁ, taken literally and by itself, may be rendered "at the head" (1 Kings 21:12; Amos 6:7, etc.); but in this place, the expression of which it forms the first word is the object of צהלו, which is construed with בּ, "to rejoice over something," Isaiah 24:4. "The head of the nations" signifies "the first of the nations" (ראשׁית הגּוים, Amos 6:1), i.e., the most exalted among the nations. Such is the designation given to Israel, because God has chosen them before all the nations of the earth to be His peculiar people (Deuteronomy 7:6; 2 Samuel 7:23.), made them the highest over (עליון על, Deuteronomy 26:19) all nations. This high honour of Israel, which seemed to have been taken from him by his being delivered over to the power of heathen nations, is now to appear again. השׁמיעוּ, "make to be heard, sing praise," are to be combined into one thought, "sing praise loudly" (so that people may hear it). The words of praise, "Save Thy people, O Jahveh," form rather the expression of a wish than of a request, just as in many psalms, e.g., Psalm 20:10; Psalm 28:9, especially Psalm 118:25 in הושׁיאה נא, with which Jesus was greeted on His entry into Jerusalem, Matthew 21:9 (Graf). - To the rejoicing and praise the Lord replies with the promise that He will lead back His people out of the most distant countries of the north, - every one, even the feeble and frail, who ordinarily would not have strength for so long a journey, "Hither," i.e., to Palestine, where Jeremiah wrote the promise; cf. Jeremiah 3:18; Jeremiah 16:15.

"With weeping," i.e., with tears of joy, and with contrition of heart over favour so undeserved, they come, and God leads them with weeping, "amidst earnest prayers to the God they have found again, as a lost son returns to the arms of his father" (Umbreit). Hitzig and Graf would connect בּתחנוּנים with what precedes, and combine "I will lead them, I will bring them;" by this arrangement, it is said, the careful guidance of God, in leaving nothing behind, is properly set forth. But the symmetry of the verse is thereby destroyed; and the reason assigned for this construction (which is opposed by the accents), viz., that תּחנוּנים does not mean miseratio, clementia, will not stand the test. As in Isaiah 55:12 it is the being brought בּשׂמחה that is the chief point, so here, it is the bringing בּתחנוּנים, amidst weeping, i.e., fervent prayer. At the same time, the Lord will care like a father for their refreshment and nurture; He will lead them to brooks of water, so that they shall not suffer thirst in the desert (Isaiah 48:21), and guide them by a straight (i.e., level) road, so that they shall not fall. For He shows Himself again to Israel as a father, one who cares for them like a father (cf. Jeremiah 3:19; Deuteronomy 32:6; Isaiah 63:6), and treats Ephraim as His first-born. "The first-born of Jahveh," in Exodus 4:22, means the people of Israel as compared with the other nations of the earth. This designation is here transferred to Ephraim as the head and representative of the ten tribes; but it is not likely that there is in this any allusion to the preference which Jacob displayed for the sons of Joseph, Genesis 49:22. compared with Jeremiah 31:4 (Venema, J. D. Michaelis, Ngelsbach) - the advantage they obtained consisting in this, that Ephraim and Manasseh were placed on an equal footing with Jacob's sons as regards inheritance in the land of Canaan; in other words, they were elevated to the dignity of being founders of tribes. There is no trace in this prophecy of any preference given to Ephraim before Judah, or of the ten tribes before the two tribes of the kingdom of Judah. That the deliverance of Ephraim (Israel) from exile is mentioned before that of Judah, and is further more minutely described, is simply due to the fact, already mentioned, that the ten tribes, who had long languished in exile, had the least hope, according to man's estimation, of deliverance. The designation of Ephraim as the first-born of Jahveh simply shows that, in the deliverance of the people, Ephraim is in no respect to be behind Judah, - that they are to receive their full share in the Messianic salvation of the whole people; in other words, that the love which the Lord once displayed towards Israel, when He delivered them out of the power of Pharaoh, is also to be, in the future, displayed towards the ten tribes, who were looked on as lost. The nature of fatherhood and sonship, as set forth in the Old Testament, does not contain the element of the Spirit's testimony to our spirit, but only the idea of paternal care and love, founded on the choosing of Israel out of all the nations to be the peculiar people of God; see on Exodus 4:22 and Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:7. בּכרי is substantially the same as יקּיר been בּן and ילד שׁעשׁעים in Jeremiah 31:20.

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