Jeremiah 31:38
Behold, the days come, said the LORD, that the city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner.
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(38) From the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner.—There seems to us something almost like an anti-climax in this sudden transition from the loftiest Gospel promises to the obscure localities of the ancient Jerusalem. With Jeremiah, however, as before with Isaiah (Isaiah 65:17-25), and on a much larger scale with Ezekiel (Ezekiel 40-48), this was the natural outgrowth of the vividness with which the restored city came before his mental vision. He saw a goodly city rise as from the ruins of the old, truly and not in name only consecrated to Jehovah, and describes, as best he can, how it differed from them. The tower of Hananeel appears from Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39, to have been identical, or connected, with the tower of Meah, and to have been between the fish-gate and the sheep-gate, at the north-east corner of the city walls. It is named again, as one of the conspicuous landmarks of the city, in Zechariah 14:10. The “corner-gate” at the north-west corner, and near the present Jaffa-gate, appears in 2Kings 14:13; 2Chronicles 26:9; Zechariah 14:10; Nehemiah 3:24; Nehemiah 3:32. The wall in this quarter had apparently been battered during the siege of Jerusalem, and the prophet naturally sees the rebuilding of the wall as among the first-fruits of the restoration.

Jeremiah 31:38-40. Behold, the days come, that the city shall be built to the Lord — Or, for the Lord, namely, for his use and service. Blaney renders it, Under the direction of the Lord, from the tower of Hananeel, &c. — “Here follows a description of the circumference of a new city to be built on the site of Jerusalem; but that it does not mean the city which was rebuilt after the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity is evident from two principal circumstances; first, because the limits are here extended farther, so as to include a greater space than was contained within the walls at that time; and secondly, it is here said, that it should never be razed or destroyed any more. This new city, therefore, must be referred to those after-times when the general restoration of Israel is appointed to take place.” Thus Blaney, with whom many other commentators agree. That this prophecy “was not fulfilled,” says Dr. Dodd, “from the return out of Babylon to the days of Christ, we are assured from sacred history; where we read that mount Goath, or Golgotha, (which word in Hebrew signifies the heap of Gotha,) was situated without Jerusalem. The same may be said of the valley of dead bodies and of the ashes,” namely, the valley of Hinnom, so described, from its having been made a common burying place, and a receptacle for the rubbish and filth of the city. “As to Gareb we know nothing certain. We may also add, that the last clause of this chapter, it shall not be plucked up, &c., any more for ever, cannot refer to the Jerusalem which was rebuilt after the captivity, and which was plucked up and thrown down by the Romans. We must necessarily recur, therefore, either to some future building of that city, or to the church of Christ, against which we are assured the gates of hell shall never prevail,” and which is elsewhere called the city of God, and the new Jerusalem. Taking the passage in this mystical sense, as a description of the church, in its most enlarged and perfect state, in the latter days: we can be at no loss to explain the clause in the last verse which expresses that all parts of the city, even the valley of Hinnom, and all the fields, unto the brook Kidron, &c., shall be holy unto the Lord. For, undoubtedly, at this time the church shall be thoroughly purged from all corruption, both with regard to the doctrine taught in it, and the principles and practices of its members, who shall all be both well instructed in divine things, and truly holy in their hearts and lives. 31:35-40 As surely as the heavenly bodies will continue their settled course, according to the will of their Creator, to the end of time, and as the raging sea obeys him, so surely will the Jews be continued a separate people. Words can scarcely set forth more strongly the restoration of Israel. The rebuilding of Jerusalem, and its enlargement and establishment, shall be an earnest of the great things God will do for the gospel church. The personal happiness of every true believer, as well as the future restoration of Israel, is secured by promise, covenant, and oath. This Divine love passes knowledge; and to those who take hold upon it, every present mercy is an earnest of salvation.To the Lord - Or, for Yahweh: for His dwelling in the hearts of a people prepared to be His temple. 38. tower of Hananeel—The city shall extend beyond its former bounds (Ne 3:1; 12:39; Zec 14:10).

gate of … corner—(2Ki 14:13; 2Ch 26:9).

That is, it shall be built round, as largely as ever. We read of this

tower of Hananeel, Nehemiah 3:1 12:39 Zechariah 14:10; it was in the south, or rather the eastern part of the city. We read of the

gate of the corner, 2 Kings 14:13 Zechariah 14:10; most agree that it is in the north-cast part of the city. Behold, the days come, saith the Lord,.... The word come is not in the text; it is read, but not written. The vowel points are in the text, but not the letters; which those, who are against the antiquity of the points, would do well to consider; since the Jews never suffered any additions to the Bible. Jarchi says this prophecy refers to future times in the latter redemption, and never was fulfilled in the second temple; and indeed, under the figure of rebuilding Jerusalem, seems to be intended the building of the Gospel church, which was to continue to the end of time; for both holiness and perpetuity are ascribed to it:

that the city shall be built to the Lord; the city of Jerusalem; which was to be rebuilt upon the return of the Jews from the Babylonish captivity, as by the order, and under the direction and protection of the Lord, so for his service and worship; the temple in it should be built up again, and divine worship restored; and both that and the city, with the inhabitants of it, be devoted to his service; a type of the Gospel church, built up an habitation for God, where he is worshipped, feared, and glorified:

from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner; of the tower of Hananeel mention is made in Nehemiah 3:1. The Targum calls it the tower of Pikkus. Lightfoot places it on the south side of the city, bending to the east; but most place it on the east side of it: here probably the building of the city began in Nehemiah's time, and proceeded to the gate of the corner, which lay northeast; of which see 2 Kings 14:13; Jerom interprets the tower of Hananeel the tower of obedience, or of the grace and gifts of God, which latter is not much amiss; since the word "Hansheel" may be interpreted "God gives grace"; and the spiritual building of the church proceeds from the grace of God, upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ being the chief corner stone, Ephesians 2:20.

Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that the {o} city shall be built to the LORD from the tower of Hananeel to the gate of the corner.

(o) As it was performed, Neh 3:1. By this description he shows that the city would be as ample and beautiful as it ever was: but he alludes to the spiritual Jerusalem whose beauty would be incomparable.

38. Behold, the days come] The word come is omitted in the earliest form of the Heb. text, but probably by an error in copying, as the phrase is a favourite one with Jeremiah. See note on Jeremiah 23:5.

that the city shall be built] The words which follow no doubt express an enlargement of the bounds of the city, but from our ignorance of the exact position of the places named, we cannot speak more definitely. From the mention made of “the tower of Hananel” in Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39; and of “the corner-gate” in 2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9 (cp. Zechariah 14:10 for both places) we find that the former was at or near the N.E. and the latter the N.W. corner of the city wall.

to the Lord] for His honour.

38–40. These vv. may safely be assumed to belong to post-exilic days, when topographical questions connected with the extent of the city assumed importance. Cp. Zechariah 14. For the position of places here mentioned, see Quart. Statement of Pal. Explor. Fund, Jan. 1912, p. 28.Verses 38-40. - The connection is not very clear. The main point of these verses is that Jerusalem, when rebuilt, shall be altogether "the Lord's." Its circumference shall even be extended with the single object of including spots at present unclean, but then to become holy like the rest of the city. According to Hengstenberg and Keil, Jerusalem is here a figure of the kingdom of God in the latter days. Verse 38. - The tower of Hananeel. This lay at the northeast corner of the city (Nehemiah 3:1; Nehemiah 12:39). The gate of the corner. At the north, west corner (2 Kings 14:13; 2 Chronicles 26:9). Both this and the tower of Hananeel are mentioned together again in the prophecy of the glorification of Jerusalem, in Zechariah 14:10. The new covenant. - Jeremiah 31:31. "Behold, days are coming, saith Jahveh, when I will make with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah a new covenant; Jeremiah 31:32. Not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I laid hold of their hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, which covenant of mine they broke, though I had married them to myself, saith Jahveh; Jeremiah 31:33. But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith Jahveh: I will put my law within them, and on their heart will I write it; and I will become to them a God, and they shall be to me a people. Jeremiah 31:34. And they shall no more teach every man his neighbour and every man his brother, saying, Know ye Jahveh, for all of them shall know me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, saith Jahveh; for I will pardon their iniquity, and their sins will I remember no more. Jeremiah 31:35. Thus saith Jahveh, [who] gives the sun for light by day, and the ordinances of the moon and stars for light by night, who rouses the sea so that its waves roar, Jahveh of hosts is His name: Jeremiah 31:36. If these ordinances move away from before me, saith Jahveh, then also will the seed of Israel cease to be a people before me for ever. Jeremiah 31:37. Thus saith Jahveh: If the heavens above can be measured, and the foundations of the earth below can be searched out, then will I also reject all the seed of Israel because of all that they have done, saith Jahveh. Jeremiah 31:38. Behold, days come, saith Jahveh, when the city shall be built for Jahveh, from the tower of Hananeel unto the gate of the corner, Jeremiah 31:39. And the measuring-line shall once more go out straight over the hill of Gareb, and turn round towards Goah. Jeremiah 31:40. And all the valley of the corpses and of the ashes, and all the fields unto the valley of Kidron, unto the corner of the gate of the horses towards the east, [shall be] holiness to Jahveh; it shall not be plucked up nor pulled down again for ever.

The re-establishment of Israel reaches its completion in the making of a new covenant, according to which the law of God is written in the hearts of the people; thereby Israel becomes in truth the people of the Lord, and the knowledge of God founded on the experience of the forgiveness of sins is such that there is no further need of any external means like mutual teaching about God (Jeremiah 31:31-34). This covenant is to endure for ever, like the unchangeable ordinances of nature (Jeremiah 31:35-37); and in consequence of this, Jerusalem shall be guilt as the holy city of God, which shall never be destroyed again (Jeremiah 31:38-40).

Jeremiah 31:31-32

כּרת בּרית does not mean "to make an appointment," but "to conclude a covenant," to establish a relation of mutual duties and obligations. Every covenant which God concludes with men consists, on the side of God, in assurance of His favours and actual bestowal of them; these bind men to the keeping of the commands laid on them. The covenant which the Lord will make with all Israel in the future is called "a new covenant," as compared with that made with the fathers at Sinai, when the people were led out of Egypt; this latter is thus implicitly called the "old covenant." The words, "on the day when I took them by the hand," etc., must not be restricted, on the one side, to the day of the exodus from Egypt, nor, on the other, to the day when the covenant was solemnly made at Sinai; they rather refer to the whole time of the exodus, which did not reach its termination till the entrance into Canaan, though it culminated in the solemn admission of Israel, at Sinai, as the people of Jahveh; see on Jeremiah 7:22. (On the punctuation of החזיקי, cf. Ewald, 238, d, Olshaus. Gramm. 191,f.) אשׁר is not a conjunction, "quod, because," but a relative pronoun, and must be combined with את־בּריתי, "which my covenant," i.e., which covenant of mine. "They" stands emphatically in contrast with "though I" in the following circumstantial clause, which literally means, "but I have married them to myself," or, "I was their husband." As to בּעלתּי, see on Jeremiah 3:14. Hengstenberg wrongly takes the words as a promise, "but I will marry them to myself;" this view, however, is incompatible with the perfect, and the position of the words as a contrast with "they broke."

(Note: In the citation of this passage in Hebrews 8:8., the words are quoted according to the lxx version, κᾀγὼ ἠμέλησα αὐτῶν, although this translation is incorrect, because the apostle does not use these words in proving any point. These same words, moreover, have been rendered by the lxx, in Jeremiah 3:14, ἐγὼ κατακυριεύσω ὑμῶν.)

The two closely connected expressions indicate why a new covenant was necessary; there is no formal statement, however, of the reason, which is merely given in a subordinate and appended clause. For the proper reason why a new covenant is made is not that the people have broken the old one, but that, though Jahveh had united Israel to Himself, they have broken the covenant and thereby rendered it necessary to make a new one. God the Lord, in virtue of His unchangeable faithfulness, would not alter the relation He had Himself established in His love, but simply found it anew in a way which obviated the breaking of the covenant by Israel. For it was a defect connected with the covenant made with Israel at Sinai, that it could be broken on their part. This defect is not to exist in the new covenant which God will make in after times. The expression "after those (not these) days" is remarkable; ההם is not the same as האלּה, and yet the days meant can only be the "coming days;" accordingly, it is "those days" (as in Jeremiah 31:29) that are to be expected. The expression "after these days" is inexact, and probably owes its origin to the idea contained in the phrase "in the end of the days" (בּאחרית, cf. Jeremiah 23:20).

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