Jeremiah 31:16
Thus said the LORD; Refrain your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears: for your work shall be rewarded, said the LORD; and they shall come again from the land of the enemy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(16) Thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord.—Literally, there-shall be a reward for thy work. The words are a reproduction of the old prophecy of Azariah, the son of Oded (2Chronicles 15:7). Rachel, personifying the northern kingdom, perhaps even the collective unity of all Israel, is thought of as labouring in the work of repentance and reformation, as with a mother’s care, and is comforted with the thought that her labour shall not be in vain. This seems a more satisfactory interpretation than that which refers the “work” of the weeping Rachel to the travail of child-birth.

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.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.16. thy work—thy parental weeping for thy children [Rosenmuller]. Thine affliction in the loss of thy children, murdered for Christ's sake, shall not be fruitless to thee, as was the case in thy giving birth to the "child of thy sorrow," Benjamin. Primarily, also, thy grief shall not be perpetual: the exiles shall return, and the land be inhabited again [Calvin].

come again—(Ho 1:11).

The prophet in this and the following verses is brought in as one appointed of God to quiet and comfort the Rachel before mentioned, calling to her to quiet herself, and not to mourn so excessively, for God would recompense her for her afflictions, which are here understood by the term

work (as some think); but the Hebrew word leo is hardly found in Scripture taken for affliction: others therefore apply it to Rachel, for whose piety’s sake God would show mercy to her children, as a reward of grace, though not of debt. The best interpreters think that the terms of work and reward are here used only to express the succession of a comfortable state to their miserable state in captivity, (as the wages use to follow the work,) which should make them amends for their long time of affliction; and so it is expounded by the last words of the verse. Thus saith the Lord, refrain thy voice from weeping, and thine eyes from tears,.... Though sorrow on such an occasion may be lawfully indulged, yet it ought to be moderated; and attention should be given to those things which may serve to relieve under it, and especially when they come from the Lord himself; then a stop is to be put to the mournful voice, and wet eyes are to be dried up:

for thy work shall be rewarded, saith the Lord; in bearing these children, and bringing them into the world, and expressing such an affectionate and tender concern for them; signifying, that the trouble of bearing and bringing them into the world, and nursing them the time they did live, should not, as it might seem, be fruitless, and to answer no end; but it should be seen hereafter, that all this was not in vain; nor should they think it so; but that they have an ample recompense of all their sorrow and trouble:

and they shall come again from the land of the enemy; meaning either Joseph, and Mary, and Jesus; who, by the warning of an angel, went into Egypt, the land of the enemy, where the Jewish fathers were once evilly entreated, just before this barbarity was committed; where they stayed till all danger was over, and then returned; see Matthew 2:13; compared with Hosea 11:1; or rather the murdered children, who, in the resurrection morn, shall return from the grave, the land of that "last enemy", death, which shall be destroyed, 1 Corinthians 15:26; and so Rachel, and the Jewish mothers she represents, are comforted with the hopes of a better resurrection; see Hebrews 11:35.

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
16. thy work shall be rewarded] As children have been in thy life and thy death a subject of pain and grief to thee, and as these thy descendants again have grievously perished, so the recompense for all this trouble now arrives, and thou shalt witness the return of the captives.Verse 16. - Rachel is admonished to cease from weeping, because her work has not really been in vain; her children shall be restored. Thy work shall be rewarded. Like the Servant of the Lord, Rachel had said (though with the voiceless language of tears), "I have laboured in vain; I have spent my strength for nought and in vain;" and like the ocean mother of Zidon, "I have not travailed, nor brought forth children, neither nourished up young men, nor brought up virgins" (Isaiah 23:4). Rachel's work had been that of rearing up the patriarchs, "in whose loins" the tribes themselves were, in a certain sense. From the land of the enemy; i.e. from the countries of Israel's dispersion. But in the spirit of St. Matthew, we may fill the passage with a higher meaning, of which the prophet (like Shakespeare sometimes) was unconscious, namely, "from death;" and the passage thus becomes an undesigned prophecy of the Resurrection. The most remote of the heathen, too, are to be told that Jahveh will free His people from their hands, gather them again, and highly favour them, lest they should imagine that the God of Israel has not the power to save His people, and that they may learn to fear Him as the Almighty God, who has given His people into their power, not from any inability to defend them, but merely for the purpose of chastising them for their sins. איּים are the islands in, and countries lying along the coast of, the Mediterranean Sea; in the language of prophecy, the word is used as a designation of the distant countries of the west; cf. Psalm 72:10; Isaiah 41:1, Isaiah 41:5; Isaiah 42:12, etc. On Jeremiah 31:10, cf. Jeremiah 23:3; Exodus 34:12., Isaiah 40:11. "Stronger than he," as in Psalm 35:10; the expression is here used of the heathen master of the world.
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