Jeremiah 31:26
Upon this I awaked, and beheld; and my sleep was sweet unto me.
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(26) Upon this I awaked . . .—The words that follow have been very differently interpreted. By some writers (Rosenmüller) they have been referred to Jehovah under the figure of the husband who has dreamt of his wife’s return. Others (Ewald) have seen in them a quotation from some well-known psalm or hymn, like Psalm 17:15, indicating that in the golden days to which Jeremiah looked forward there should be freedom even from the evil and dark dreams of a time of peril, so that every man should be able to give thanks for the “sweet” gift of sleep (Psalm 127:2). It is, however, far more natural to take them as the prophet’s own words. The vision of a restored Israel, such as he paints it in the preceding verses, had come to him in his sleep. (See Jeremiah 23:28; Joel 2:28, as to this mode of revelation.) And when he woke up there was no sense of bitter disappointment like that of the dreamer described in Isaiah 29:8. The promise that came to him when he woke was as distinct and blessed as the dream had been. The “sweet sleep” has its parallel in Proverbs 3:24.

Jeremiah 31:26. Upon this I awaked, &c. — These words afford a plain proof that the preceding revelations had been made to the prophet in a dream, or vision. And my sleep was sweet unto me — The vision which I had seen was so agreeable to me that it gave me as great satisfaction and comfort as men usually feel when they have been refreshed with an undisturbed and sweet sleep.

31:21-26 The way from the bondage of sin to the liberty of God's children, is a high-way. It is plain, it is safe; yet none are likely to walk in it, unless they set their hearts towards it. They are encouraged by the promise of a new, unheard-of, extraordinary thing; a creation, a work of Almighty power; the human nature of Christ, formed and prepared by the power of the Holy Ghost: and this is here mentioned as an encouragement to the Jews to return to their own land. And a comfortable prospect is given them of a happy settlement there. Godliness and honesty God has joined: let no man think to put them asunder, or to make the one atone for the want of the other. In the love and favour of God the weary soul shall find rest, and the sorrowful shall find joy. And what can we see with more satisfaction than the good of Jerusalem, and peace upon Israel?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. 26. The words of Jeremiah: Upon this (or, By reason of this) announcement of a happy restoration, "I awaked" from the prophetic dream vouchsafed to me (Jer 23:25) with the "sweet" impression thereof remaining on my mind. "Sleep" here means dream, as in Ps 90:5. Either this revelation was made to Jeremiah in a dream, from whence he awaking, looked about him; and he was very well pleased with his sleep at that time, because of the gracious promises concerning Judah which the Lord had in that dream revealed to them. Or else in a vision, upon the sight and hearing of which he was as well pleased as a man that had slept quietly, and had had no ill and unpleasing, but sweet and delightful, dreams while he slept.

Upon this I awakened, and beheld,.... When or after he beheld or had seen the vision and prophecy concerning the incarnation of Christ, and the glory and happiness of his church and people in the latter day, he awoke; for it seems the prophecy contained in this and the preceding chapter was delivered to Jeremiah in a dream; who, when he had seen the vision, and upon the last words being spoken to him, awoke out of it:

and my sleep was sweet unto me; as it must needs be, to have so many gracious promises, and glorious prophecies, delivered to him in it. Some understand the words, that when he awoke out of sleep, he saw and considered with pleasure what had been made known to him; and then fell into a sweet sleep again, which was not usual with him. To which the Targum inclines,

"the prophet said, because of this good news of the days of consolation (that is, the days of the Messiah) that should come, I was raised up, and saw; again I slept, and my sleep was profitable to me.''

So Kimchi. Some interpret the words of Christ, and of his sleep in the grave.

Upon this I awoke, and beheld; and my sleep {e} was sweet to me.

(e) Having understood this vision of the Messiah to come, in whom the two houses of Israel and Judah would be joined, I rejoiced.

26. Words put in the mouth of the prophet himself, as they are not suitable either to God or to the exiles. The ecstatic state is here called “sleep,” and as the prophecy had been of so unusually cheering a character, that sleep might well be called sweet.

Verse 26. - Upon this I awaked, etc. Who the speaker is here has been much debated. That Jehovah is meant is not an admissible view. A weak believer may say complainingly, "Why sleepest thou?" but God himself cannot be represented under the image of a sleeper. There seems, however, to be no reason why the prophet should not have used this language. The doubt is whether a real, physical sleep is meant, or merely an ecstatic condition resembling sleep. Hengstenberg decides for the latter. But there is no parallel for sleep in the sense of ecstasy, and, on the other hand, there is evidence enough for dreams as the channels of Divine revelation (Genesis 31:10, 11; 1 Kings 3:5; 1 Kings 9:2; Joel 2:28). As Naegelsbach points out, this is the only unqualifiedly comforting prophecy in the whole book, and may well have left a sweet savour in the prophet's memory. Stern, indeed, was the reality which the moment of his waking brought back to him. Jeremiah 31:26Thereupon the prophet awoke from his ecstatic sleep, and said, "My sleep was pleasant" (cf. Proverbs 3:24). Very many expositors, including Rosenmller, Umbreit, and Neumann among the moderns, understand the words, "therefore (or, because of this) I awoke," etc., as referring to God, because in what precedes and follows Jahveh speaks, and because God is sometimes, in the Psalms, called on to awake, e.g., Psalm 7:7; Psalm 35:23; Psalm 44:24, etc. But it has been properly objected to this, that the words, "my sleep was sweet" (pleasant), are inappropriate as utterances of God, inasmuch as He does not sleep; nowhere in Scripture is sleep attributed to God, and the summons to awake merely implies the non-interference on the part of God in the affairs of His people. Moreover, we would need to refer the sleeping of God, mentioned in this verse, to His dealing towards Israel during the exile, in such a way that His conduct as a powerful judge would be compared to a sweet sleep - which is inconceivable. As little can the verse be supposed to contain words of the people languishing in exile, as Jerome has taken them. For the people could not possibly compare the time of oppression during the exile to a pleasant sleep. There is thus nothing left for us but to take this verse, as the Targum, Raschi, Kimchi, Venema, Dahler, Hitzig, Hengstenberg, and others have done, as a remark by the prophet regarding his feelings when he received this revelation; and we must accept something like the paraphrase of Tholuck (die Propheten, S. 68): "Because of such glorious promises I awoke to reflect on them, and my ecstatic sleep delighted me." This view is not rendered less tenable by the objection that Jeremiah nowhere says God had revealed Himself to him in a dream, and that, in what precedes, there is not to be found any intimation that what he sets forth appeared to him as a vision. For neither is there any intimation, throughout the whole prophecy, that he received it while in a waking state. The command of God, given Jeremiah 30:2 at the first, to write in a book the words which Jahveh spoke to him, implies that the prophecy was not intended, in the first instance, to be publicly read before the people; moreover, it agrees with the assumption that he received the prophecy in a dream. But against the objection that Jeremiah never states, in any other place, in what bodily condition he was when he received his revelations from God, and that we cannot see why he should make such an intimation here - we may reply, with Ngelsbach, that this prophecy is the only one in the whole book which contains unmixed comfort, and that it is thus easy to explain why he could never forget that moment when, awaking after he had received it, he found he had experienced a sweet sleep. Still less weight is there in the objection of Graf, that one cannot comprehend why this remark stands here, because the description is evidently continued in what follows, while the dream must have ended here, when the prophet awoke. For this is against the assumption that the hand of the Lord immediately touched him again, and put him back into the ecstatic state. One might rather urge the consideration that the use of the word שׁנה, "sleep," does not certainly prove that the prophet was in the ecstatic state, from the fact that the lxx render תּר, in Genesis 2:21 and Genesis 15:2, by ἔκστασις. But wherever divine revelations were made in dreams, these of course presuppose sleep; so that the ecstatic state might also be properly called "sleep." Jeremiah adds, "And I looked," to signify that he had been thoroughly awakened, and, in complete self-consciousness, perceived that his sleep had been pleasant.
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